Urban fantasy author Jami Gray has a sweet promotion going on this month. The first book in her Kyn Series is currently available for FREE at all major eBook retailers. She's busy spreading the word around the interwebs, but she managed to duck in to give me a writing tip. As an occasionally spanked minion of EvilMistressKate (aka my editor Kate Richards), I agree wholeheartedly with Jami's advice!
Why Editors Save Writers
by Jami Gray
I love my editors. That's right, I am proud to announce I have more than one, more like five to six if you combine both sets from Black Opal and MuseIt Up. If you're not familiar with what happens to your favorite book after your author types "#END#", here's a quick run down.
The poor baby begins a weight loss program. The first round will beat that baby down until it's bawling in corner. The second round will coax it out, wipe its nose, then proceed to show it the way with some very straightforward talk. After some pouting, the story will straighten up, and face down the last round--where the final, professional polish will be applied--hair combed, pants pressed, shoes polished. Because of this, some writers have a love/hate relationship with their editors, they just love to hate them even as they lovveee the final product.
In preparation for putting SHADOW’S EDGE up for free for the summer, my editor asked me to go back over it and ensure there were no specks of dust on my shiny baby. She’s my editor, I didn’t refuse.
Know what I found? The difference between the fourth book of the series, SHADOW'S CURSE and the first, SHADOW'S EDGE is...well...tremendous. As in, if I was doing the first book now with what I've learned, it might be a very different novel, but I digress.
In 2011, I got my first round of edits back on SHADOW'S EDGE. I spent at least a week solid going over every point raised, making notes on style (don't make this passive, show don't tell), and pondering each question my editor poised. This turned into long discussions via track changes through all three rounds of edits, until I finally I let the little bugger go, free to walk on its own. It's very difficult as a new author to release your clutching hold and see your story as a new reader, because you've breathed, cried, screamed at it for so long. Move ahead six months to SHADOW'S SOUL, this time the track change discussions we're down to "got it" , "yep, I can see that", or "What about this?".
Then came SHADOW'S MOON and part of the reason I love my editors. Every bit of feedback I got from editors on the first two books pushed me to look at my craft critically and asked myself, what can I do to strengthen my writing? Challenge myself as a writer? Create something really cool for my readers?
I decided I wanted to change character perspective for my third book since Gavin and Raine needed some breathing room. Plus, well, I was challenged to write a romance. (Challenge me will you?) Not only did I want Shadow's Moon to focus on the evolving relationship between Xander and Warrick, but I decided to mix it up even more, I did two points of views instead of my normal one. It wasn't easy, but it did teach me quite a bit about what I still had to learn and practice.
Then, mid 2013 when I handed off SHADOW'S MOON and the proposal for SHADOW'S CURSE to Black Opal's caring hands, I decided to pause before starting SHADOW’S CURSE. I'd been living in the Kyn universe for a long time, much longer than the publication dates on the books. Other characters and worlds were pestering me for their spotlight. Plus, since I write from limited third person point of view, and at one time wrote SHADOW’S EDGE completely from Raine's POV (oh yes, much therapy was needed after that), I decided to brave the wild new frontier of first person point of view.
Not as a New Adult story where first person seems prevalent, but in an adult Paranormal Suspense story, one where I could explore my love of military suspense and paranormal abilities. But here was my challenge—I didn't want every damn sentence to star with "I" . Come on, if all you hear is "I, I, I..." you may wanted to gouge out said "I's" eyes. It wasn't easy, it was difficult, enough so I almost gave up, but finally, FINALLY, I finished HUNTED BY THE PAST and it became part of the MuseItUp family. It also created a new series, the PSY-IV Teams.
Then while working through the toughest Kyn book yet, SHADOW'S CURSE and the fiendishly difficult Natasha, I got hit with the edits for SHADOW'S MOON and HUNTED in one fell swoop. Anxious, I opened up the track changes, leery I may soon find myself curled up in a bloody pile in front of my computer. Instead I got something better. Both editors left me notes, really heart warming ones, on how much my writing had deepened and how much they were touched by the story. And this hardhearted wench of words, got a little bleary. There were still discussions and muttered comments (not in Track Changes because I didn't want a hit put out on me), but I'm still loving my editors, because they are still providing me insight on things I can do better, ways to consider things differently, and how to ultimately become a more successful writer.
So when the conversation arises among my partners in writing plots about what makes a successful writer, my first answer is: EDITORS.
Whether your Indie or Traditional or any mixture of writer, an editor can only help you. Not only can they give you an unbiased opinion on your work (Like my question prior to writing TOUCHED BY FATE of "So I'm going to change the POV on Book 2 of PSY-IV, you're okay with that right?), they will keep your story straight, catch when you add an extra arm, leave a character standing at the side of the road, or another one decides to not only change hair color but their height (w/o shoes), they will be the first one to push you off that cliff of what ifs when you can't get your feet to move. Because if you want to be a successful writer, you need to continue to grow your craft and your skill set. Otherwise--same story, different....you get the picture.
Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…
Shadow's Edge (Kyn Kronicles 1)
by Jami Gray
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…
When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.
As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.
About Jami Gray
Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.