Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back to Life, Back to Reality...

For those of you of a certain age, the song referenced in this blog title is now STUCK IN YOUR HEAD FOREVER. You're welcome!

So I've been the most negligent of bloggers lately, mostly due to Life (as in my actual one, not the board game. Although that would be kind of hilarious.) So let's catch up, shall we?

1) The Southern Breeze "schmooze" in Florence with Irene Latham and Lindsey Leavitt was SO GREAT. Seriously, had a ball. For one thing, as I've mentioned before, writing can be a kind of lonely career, so getting to talk with other writers was really, really nice. I mean, I talk online to other writers all the time, but to have an actual, face-to-face conversation with Writer Friends? Kicks ass.

Linds and I road-tripped it together from Birmingham to Florence, and she is now totally my new Beffie. We laughed, and talked about books, and bought some truly amazing "vintage" YA at The Salvation Army there in Florence. In fact, we both bought Caroline B. Cooney's THE CHEERLEADER which is a cheerleader. AND VAMPIRES. And, one assumes, VAMPIRE CHEERLEADERS. How great is that? I think we need to do some sort of joint review of it, or like a Point/Counterpoint thing. Stay tuned!

It was also WONDERFUL to meet Irene, whose book LEAVING GEE'S BEND sounds- and looks! The cover is gorgeous!- amazing! Irene is also a poet, which I have so much admiration for since I'm a great lover of poetry, but I suuuuuuuck at writing it. A lot.

And the people who came! They, too, were Made of Win! Everyone asked such great and interesting questions that were so fun to answer. Plus it's always nice to feel like you're contributing something positive to the writing community!

Also, there were snacks, so you know, that took it to the next level of awesome. Thanks so much to Sheila Renfro and Pat Weaver for putting that together!

Me, looking like I got up at 5AM (which I had), Lindsey, looking wicked and determined with candy, and Irene, looking beautiful and poet-like in Florence.

2) I TURNED IN MY COPY EDITS! Hurray! It occurred to me the other day that I talk a lot about edits on this blog, but I haven't really talked about what edits entail, or all the different kinds of edits there are. So a quick refresher course:

A) Global edits- These are usually in the form of a letter. Sometimes you get this letter separately, sometimes it comes with your line edits, as mine did. Basically, the global edits are exactly what they sound like: things that need to be changed or enhanced throughout the manuscript. I've heard tell of this letter being anywhere from 2 to 20+ pages long. Mine was about 5 pages. Global edits are slightly daunting, because...well, they're GLOBAL. They require you to look at the book as a whole, and figure out where you can insert extra scenes, or add world-building stuff. On the plus side, this letter is also where your editor usually gives you some positive stuff, too, like "I love how you've done XYZ," or "So and So is such a great character." And that's always nice to hear!

B) Line edits- This is where your editor has gone through the whole manuscript and written various changes on it. Sometimes, the changes are specific, like I might have written the line, "Her eyes were wide as she looked at me," and Editor Jen will have written over it, "Eyes wide, she looked at me," or something like that. Or she might just write, "Rework" and remind me that I've used the word "look" five times on that page (I have a BAD tendency to do this. Everyone in my book was looking at someone, or looking like something. Or smiling. Dear God, all the smiling people did in a book that is ostensibly scary. Sheesh.)

Other times, she won't change anything, but she'll write in the margins, "Why does he do this? Earlier he said he didn't care about This and That?"

Oh, and best of all, sometimes there are SMILEY FACES next to the stuff she likes. I live for the smiley faces. Seriously. And they usually come along just as you're starting to think, "This book is really bad. I'm so sorry I inflicted it on people." Then bam! Smiley face and maybe a little note that says, "This is great!" And then you soldier on.

C) Copy edits- These are a lot simpler than the other two, but still kind of tough. Your copy editor fixes basic stuff like grammar or spelling errors, but she is also your Continuity Guard. So if I have someone's eyes being blue on page 156, but green on page 285, the copy editor will catch that. She (I'm going with she since my CE was a she) can also point out awkwardly written sentences that slipped through in line edits. Or the fact that it seems like everyone wears pink in your book (again, guilty as charged). Now, you don't have to change everything the copy editor suggests. If you come across something, like you have a character entering a room, and the CE has changed "room" to "chamber", you just write "stet" next to that change, and it stays "room."

Whew. Okay, so those are the basic forms of edits (and we won't even get into page proofs right now). Now, I steamrolled right through global/line edits, but copy edits took me a good two weeks. I think it's because it's the last time I'll get to make really BIG changes if need be, and that was freaking me out. I seriously had to fight the urge to call Editor Jen and be like, "So...what if I just rewrote the whole thing? I can make it even better, Jen! I promise!"

Luckily, I resisted, and the manuscript is now safely back in NYC (another nerve-wracking thing, mailing my whole MS. I've only ever sent it as an e-mail file. So of course, I was totally obnoxious at UPS, and all, "I NEED TO MAIL THIS TO NYC! I HAVE SPECIAL HYPERION SHIPPING ACCOUNT NUMBERS! I AM VERY IMPORTANT, DO NOT LOSE THIS, UPS GUY!"
And of course, he was like, "Whatever, Spazzy Lady. Sign this form.")

3) And now that copy edits are done and the book is back in NYC, Editor Jen and I talked briefly about THE COVER, which makes me want to dance around my office. Nothing firm yet, but I did give her a detailed description of Sophie, just in case they want to put "her" on the cover. Which would be ever so awesome.

4) I'm hard at work on HEX HALL 2: HEXUAL HEALING (still not really the title, still funny, still calling it that for now). I have about 20K words, which means I'm soon to enter the Scary No Man's Land of 30K words, where many a book has gone to die. Luckily, the fact that people have already paid me for this book lessens its chances of dying. ;-) Still, I'm pushing to have it done by May 1 as the fam and I are going to Maine May 9- and it's a road trip! From Alabama! With a toddler! Ha! Haha! HAHAHAHAHA!- and I'd like to have it done by then.

Okay, so now we're all caught up. So what have y'all been up to?

ETA: Go HERE and check out a super fun interview I did with the most excellent Christy Raedeke.


serenity said...

Proposal-writing for the memoir. And I'm just past 30K on a novel and it didn't die, so I'm taking your word as the LAW and therefore convinced it's going to grow into a real live book one day. I'm so happy you've introduced us to Lindsey Leavitt - she's one of my new faves.

Also, you're awesome. I've been hoping for a post like this with the edits breakdown. Thanks for writing it!

Anonymous said...

So I read The Chearleader and blogged. Sorry I did not synchronize. Will have to discuss it at tea, since it is so a tea discussing book.

Shelli said...

your own hyperion acct - that is way cool! go book 2!

Name: Annie said...

Hi, thanks for the information on edits I wondered about the what, how and who, now I have a better idea.
I have a question about your book, well... a question about how you wrote your book. What point of view did you pick, first or third? How did you make that decision?


Rachel Hawkins said...

Serenity: YAY! Go you with your 30K and proposal goodness! And I'm so glad you enjoy Lindsey, too. She's ridiculously delightful!

Linds: Ha! Damn you and your quick reading! That's okay, though. We can still joint review it at some point! ;)

Shelli: Thanks! And it's not si much MY Hyperion acct as it is THEIR acct, which made me very nervous that I might lose the post-it note the numbers were on, and suddenly people would start mailing things to Hyperion on Hyperion's dollar! ;)

Annie: I wrote 1st person POV b/c that's what felt the most natural and normal to me, at least for this book. I've tried 3rd person, and it just doesn't fit right. Now, obviously, there are some genres where 1st is preferred over 3rd, or vice versa, but I think in the end, you just have to go with what feels right for you! Hope that helped!