Welcome to the Weekly Guest Spotlight
I have no idea how to start this blog post out so I;m just typing until the ideas start to flow. Erica asked me to be her guest blogger and now I’m a little freeked out since I only post on my own blog about once a month and I never feel like I have anything that great to say. But here I am typing away because that’s what you do, right? You type until the ideas come and when they do you can’t stop typing then suddenly something hits you and now you couldn’t stop typing even if your house was burning down around you because if you stop you’ll loose your train of thought and losing your house pales in comparison to losing your thoughts.
Yes, the paragraph above is awful. It has typos and misspelled words and run on sentences. It’s the makings of an editor’s nightmare, or in my case, the beginning of an adventure.
After six months of being part of a critique group Erica started, I finally got around to reading To Katie with Love. Now I’m going to admit something here that she doesn’t know. I’d actually tried reading Katie several times before, but could never get past chapter one. *ducks and waits for Erica to throw things at me* Unfortunately, the poor lonely girl in the bar never drew me into the story, but I promised Erica I’d read it. So I started reading at chapter two, and by chapter three I was hooked.
I don’t know if it was fate, but I ended up having to take two weeks off work immediately following my reading of Katie and I can honestly say I spent more hours ‘working’ those two weeks than I do in two weeks at my day job. I can also say I enjoyed it immeasurably more. Delving into Katie’s world has been an experience I will always remember. In fact, I would have to say it’s been life changing. (I want to say it’s been ‘earth shattering’, but I’m afraid only Erica would get that.)
When I first emailed her with my comments I gave Erica the same disclaimer I’d given the other ladies I’d done critiques for. Basically, I was willing to offer my help, but ultimately this was her story and she will always know these characters better than anyone else. My job as a critique partner is not to rewrite the story in my words, but to offer suggestions to make her story better.
And so it began.
With the insight from another one of Erica’s readers/editors, Kelly Gamble, Erica and I started what can only be called a major overhaul of an already great story. And the first thing that had to go…chapter one.
Ok, so maybe she didn’t dump chapter one, but it’s unrecognizable from what it was before. Yes, still the same poor girl in the bar, but now that girl is like a new best friend. Over the two weeks spent editing, Katie was the last person I talked to at night and the first person I talked to in the morning, other than my husband of course. Actually, if I’m being completely honest, the person I went to bed thinking of was Katie’s love interest, Cooper Maxwell. But only because Erica kept sending me pictures and interviews of the man she imagines him to be. And to say her imagination is vivid would be an understatement, more like scintillatingly luminescent.
At any rate, my new best friend made me laugh so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks. When her heart raced, so did mine. And when she was acting like a complete fool I wanted to scream at her and tell her to straighten up. But that’s the way a story is supposed to make you feel. You are supposed to have a vested interest in what happens to the characters. If you didn’t, the book wouldn’t be worth reading.
So what exactly did I do? Well, aside from correcting the occasional period instead of a comma at the end of a quote (I’m being kind here, there were lots of those.), I helped find the slow spots of the story, or the lines that didn’t flow and things that didn’t match up with what she’d said in another section. I made her take out absolutely ridiculous phrases, because nobody says ‘making love’ anymore, Erica. And I made her take out words thatjustsuddenly appeared.
I also tried to give her encouragement by telling her which parts I loved or thought were funny and insisted she keep. Believe me when I tell you I will never look at a white orchid the same way again. Mostly though, I think I was just there. There for her to call or text when something wasn’t working out or to bounce ideas off of to see if it fit the rest of the story. (It’s a good thing I have free long distance and unlimited texting. It’s also a good thing she didn’t mind me eating on the phone.) But like I said, she’d already written a great story. And when the last red pen correction is made, I hope what I suggested, if even in a small way, makes the story better.
If you had a chance to read the excerpt of To Katie with Love when Erica had it up on her site, then you should feel very lucky. Because one day, when Katie is a New York Times Bestseller and a major motion picture, you’ll be able to say you were one of the first to read this fabulous love story. I know I feel lucky, but then again, I got to go to bed dreaming of Cooper Maxwell.
Thank you so much to Laura…not just for this wonderful post…but for pulling me through this editing process and never once letting me give up or cry. Without the tireless efforts of Laura (and Kelly Stone Gamble), this book may not have been given the chance to find its audience.
Katie and I will never be able to thank you enough!
Until the next time…I’ll be dreaming of Cooper too!