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Revisions with Gina Conkle and Giveaway!

We have author Gina Conkle and she is sharing this  post on Revisions with us all.



Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer.  Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.  Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll.  When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.


Connect with Gina on the web:


 
Over to Gina now...
 
On Revisions
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Winston Churchill

 

That project you loved and crafted with your all your skill has come back. Marked up, edited, and full of questions and comments. What’s a writer to do?

Take a deep breath, and let’s dive into this together with three life-saving ideas. 

Realize you’re in a partnership. The moment I sold my story to a publisher, I’m no longer the sole caretaker of that work.  Between the cover, publicity, and distribution, I’m one part of the cog that makes the book wheel turn. 

But understand this: Your publisher wants your book to succeed.  Your success = their success.

Sharpen your skills. Editorial comments provide an excellent opportunity to hone my craft.  Don’t you want to produce a book that’s so tightly written with such compelling characters that it flies off the shelf? I had a multi-published author friend tell me online classes, craft books, and contest feedback will only take you so far. 

Then, you connect with an editor, and she’ll take your writing to another level.

Why not welcome that change?

Come back with something better. This one comes from my dad and is a little more involved. Growing up he drilled into me the importance of don’t complain if I don’t have a solution. In other words, don’t just whine. Be ready with a better alternative.

Here’s where we get down to the nitty gritty with two edit examples from Norse Jewel:

#1) The Male Factor

My editor felt that my hero should talk about his feelings on a touchy family situation. She suggested two paragraphs. End of edit note.

I bristled at writing two paragraphs of male emotions. Men have them, sure, but they’re not always forthright about them.  But, I didn’t have to dig deep to know Erin (my editor) was right!  I understood the message: Readers want the inner workings of the hero in the right doses.  I knew she didn’t care how it happened. She just wanted it to happen.

So, since the hero, Hakan’s a Viking chieftain and a man of action, he poured his emotions out while he battled the heck out of his friend. It was friendly combat. A “Let’s practice our fighting skills.” The friend asked Hakan about that touchy family situation, and my Viking hero “shared” as he whacked his sword.

That pleased my editor, kept me happy, and improved the story by giving readers more connection to the hero…all done with manly fighting skills that stayed true to my character.

But, the next edit took some wrangling.

#2 The Last Spark in the Arc

Warning: *spoiler alert*

My heroine, Helena, wanted freedom. She wasn’t born a slave, so all she wanted was to go home.  That goal morphed over time, but she did in fact get what she wanted…or did she?

Hakan, the Viking chieftain granted her freedom, but right at the end, she put her slave arm band back on right before their marriage ceremony.  Part of the story was a clash of cultures. Yet, Helena not only put back on her Viking garb (after she’d been given a Frankish dress), but she also clamped the slave band on her arm. As a free woman.

This upset not just one, but two editors. They insisted that had to change. To them, the voluntary return of the arm band made no sense in Helena’s character arc. Yikes!

I took more time going over this edit.  You know what made the difference? At the end of the day, it’s still my job to clearly communicate the message, the story

I faced facts: I wasn’t doing either of those very well.

I reworked the scene by making character motive clearer. I made the voluntary return of the slave band into a sexy moment between Hakan and Helena.  Just like a wedding ring claims “I belong to you” so did that arm band. But in a sensual way that promised hot sex later on.

And that worked very well for both editors.

Like a lot of communication in life, there’s very little that we give and receive at face value.  We rely largely on subtext, on non-verbal communication.

When it comes to revisions, why not take a deep breath and figure out what you and the editor are really saying?  Because two heads are better than one.

I’d love to hear your revision pointers.  Please share!
 

 

 
Gina has a new release:

 

 

A stolen woman of rare qualities...
 Seized by marauders and taken to the icy northlands by the wolf-eyed Viking warrior, Helena will do whatever it takes to earn her freedom and return to France.

A mighty Viking Chieftain…
Betrayal has turned Hakan’s heart to ice, but the spirited Frankish maid warms him in a way he’s never known. The spell she weaves leaves them both breathless, but can he keep his promise to return her home even if it means he’ll lose his precious jewel forever?
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27 comments:

  1. Hi Gina,

    I loved how you described handling your editors revisions. You knew your characters best and knew what would work for them and for your story.

    For me, it was my character's arriving in a country when they couldn't have. My editor pointed out that I would have to work in a timeslip.

    Congratulations on the release and all the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for your kind words. This is/has been a fun journey...still a little deer in the headlights but loving it. I wish you the best with your writing.
      Gina

      Delete
  2. Have to take everything in stride indeed

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pat,
      You sound like a writer who navigates stormy waters well. :-)

      Gina

      Delete
  3. I like to let editorial comments sit so I can think them through before I start making changes. I think it's natural to have the "What, is she crazy?" reaction at first and then come to see our editor is spot on. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. Let things rest first and take a step back. The story is so near and dear to us that we love it...warts and all. I wish you the best with your writing!
      Gina

      Delete
  4. Wow, thanks for going into so much detail with your edits, that's really helpful!
    I like the "come back with something better" advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to share the details. My dad's words of wisdom apply to a lot of areas and still ring in my head. I wish you the best with your writing, Deniz.
      Gina

      Delete
  5. Great insights to your editing process! I love the details. And the book sounds amazing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Meredith,
      Thanks! All phases of writing are really fun, aren't they? I appreciate your compliment for Norse Jewel, too.

      Have a great day-
      Gina

      Delete
  6. It's hard to relinquish control over any detail of our writing, but it's the editor's job to smash holes in it ... I mean, point out the holes that are already there, of course... so we can fill 'em in and make our stories all showroom shiny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan,
      You sound like a writer who's braved lots of edits...and produced stories with great results. A fun, sometimes agonizing process!! Good luck with your writing-
      Gina

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    2. Hehe, I like the way Susan summed up the editor's job.

      Good luck with all of your dedicated work, Gina.

      Delete
  7. I recently had a short story accepted for publication in a literary magazine and I had some wonderful feedback from the editor. I took into account everything they said and now I am happier with my story.
    So, yes, it's team work. It is important to pay attention to what they say to improve the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Julia,
      Congratulations on your publication! The give and take with an editor is really helpful, isn't it? I wish you the best with your writing. Any longer stories in the works?
      Gina

      Delete
  8. Great guest post! Revising is the most difficult part for me. Yet I like how you made those changes. Sometimes the changes seem impossible, but I have excellent critique partners and they help me see different paths as long as I remain flexible. Several eyes on your manuscript always helps.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Christine,
      Yes, several eyes is a good idea. That shows willingness to collaborate and receive feedback well. I meet with a group of writers on Wednesday nights for dinner. Part of the discussion is life and very social, but then we get down to "nuggets of wisdom" and insight about writing. I love it. I wish you the best with your writing and thanks for sharing.
      Gina

      Delete
  9. Fantastic tips on revisions! I like to read through critiques/edits and let them sit for a while before I dive into them. It gives my brain time to work through the issues in the story and figure out how to fix them. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cherie,

      You are SO right! Letting feedback germinate in your head is a good idea. It also helps work out any emotional reactions, letting the dust settle. You sound like a very balanced writer.
      Gina

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  10. Gina! Now I HAVE to read your story! It sounds so good.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer,
      That's music to my ears! Thank you. I hope you enjoy Norse Jewel and fall in love with Hakan (throughout summer I received emails about him...if he'd be in the next book and when that'd happen). I hope you enjoy the book and thanks, Jennifer.
      Gina

      Delete
  11. Some great tips here, Gina! Remembering the first one is very important. Being in a partnership with your editors and proofreaders. It's hard to step down at times isn't it? But you're right, it can make all the difference!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Val,
      I know...the first manuscript is like a first child. You want to think they're perfect, but maturation's part of the process.

      Delete
  12. With only a couple exceptions, revising to editorial suggestion has consistently made my work stronger overall. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Milo,
      I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I like pulling back the curtain and looking at all angles of this process. I wish you the best with your writing.

      Delete
  13. What an excellent post! It was so interesting to learn Gina's thoughts on the editing process. It is true that editors have a partnership with authors and want the book to be the best it can be. I liked being walked through some of the edits Gina made. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete

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