If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Notes from a Newbie Author: The Editorial Letter

by Shari Randall

Yesterday I received a package from St. Martin’s Press: the editorial letter and marked up manuscript for the first book in my Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack mystery series, CURSES, BOILED AGAIN!

Editorial Letter - Before
Last year at Malice Domestic, I met my editor, who is delightful, hardworking, and sharp. After the whole process – the agent, the contract, the deadlines, the writing – I was getting a critique from the person who would guide my story from manuscript to published book. But now that she’d read my book, what did my editor think of it? Were we, if you’ll excuse the expression, on the same page?
Editorial Letter - After

The simplest, and most simplistic and terrifying, view of the editorial letter is to see it as a writer’s report card. Did my book pass? Did my editor like it? What’s wrong with my baby?

Instead of a report card, the letter seemed more like a conversation, like that first blind date when you try to figure out the basics.

What does my editor like?
What does my editor dislike?
Does she get my sense of humor?
Will she want to go for another book/date?

My editor’s letter helped me figure her out, too, giving me deeper insight into her approach and point of view.

For all my nerves about this letter, I realized that my editor probably felt the same way. How to critique somebody’s baby is a delicate business. She was probably just as anxious writing the editorial letter as I was reading it.

I tore open the package, curled into the fetal position, and read the letter through my fingers. Slowly I uncurled and exhaled. My editor’s tone was collaborative and collegial, professional and friendly.

After the initial Sally Field moment (she likes it, she really likes it!) I realized there were several pages of editorial suggestions to be implemented, each page with many bullet points of suggestions for cutting, adding, honing, sharpening, improving. Thank goodness her comments were concrete and perceptive.

To be honest, some of the suggestions sting. But after implementing them, I see that my editor is right – sometimes you do have to kill those darlings. That passive voice? Gone. Those two characters who added nothing to the scene? Sayonara, guys!

Years ago, my ballet teacher told the class something that stayed with me. Some kids grumbled about the tiny adjustments to form that our teacher demanded – a hand lifted an inch, a tilted chin, a pointed toe stretched just a bit longer. “If you get a correction, it means you’re worth correcting,” she would say.

My goal: to be worth correcting.

Have you received an editorial letter?


Jim Jackson said...

The first editorial letter I ever received I paid for. It was for my first novel, which was not receiving positive agent reactions. The multi-page document described both what worked (voice and plot) and what didn’t (much of the rest). We had a great follow-up conversation and I tackled the next revision with enthusiasm.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

My experience was the same as Jim's--I paid for it, but I did not go into revisions with enthusiasm because I changed from first person for my MC and third person for the other POVs--which I now see all the time. The editor said it was a no-no and had to be changed. It put me a no-win situation that stymied me. I never pulled out from the revisions.
I also see tense changes, which I've used before and have been told are also no-nos. If they are, why do I read them?

KM Rockwood said...

How exciting!

I can't wait to read the novel.

Art Taylor said...

Nice post--and glad the process is going well. Looking forward to the book itself!

Grace Topping said...

Fun post, Shari. Congratulations on making further progress toward getting published. That's wonderful news. I can't wait for your book to come out.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, one of my favorite books is The Guernsey Literary Potato Peal Society and it was written mostly in letters. I tried to find it among my numerous books so I could give the authors - two women, one of them died before it came out.

My middle-grade book, THE SHERLOCK HOLMES DETECTIVE CLUB, is mostly written in letters, real letters my students wrote to an elderly woman they believed was real and traveling about the country on the trail of two jewel thieves. Their letters are precious, I picked twelve of my students and changed their names slightly. I wrote Alice VanBrocken's letters and sent them to family and friends around the country so they came postmarked and unopened so my third grade students believed in her. I've received several fan letters from kids who told me how much they loved the book. Adults seem to like it, too, and find it funny.

Also, on the very first day of school, my students were given a note book to write in each day. It was to start, Dear Mrs. Alden, and then write to a prompt or anything they wished to write to me. I always wrote back and signed my name to my answer. Believe me, reading over twenty notebooks each evening and responding to it, took some time, but I never regretted having to do it. Some of their messages to me were hilarious, and some very sad. I only wish I had copied some of their messages to me.

Warren Bull said...


Shari Randall said...

Jim, it sounds like you and your editor were definitely on the same page. It's great when it feels like a true collaboration.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Elaine, it sounds like you were ahead of your time. It makes me sad when I hear about a bad fit between an editor and a writer. I'm glad you're staying true to your voice.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kathleen, I can't wait for you to read it! March 2018 is so far away!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Art, Thank you! It's an exciting time, that's for sure.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Grace,
Thank you! It's a long process, as you know.

Hi Gloria,
I love hearing about your work. How lucky your students were to have you!

Hi Warren,
Thank you so much!

Margaret Turkevich said...

congratulations! Onwards.

Shari Randall said...

Thank you, Margaret!