Editing MIDNIGHT THIEF: More Tips I Learned From My Editors

(Note 1:   I used Grammerly to grammar check this post because I welcome our robot overlords.  FTC Disclaimer – Grammarly offered me a $200 gift card to try out their service and post about it. The website found 1 punctuation error, 12 grammar issues, and gave the post an overall score of 69 (weak, needs revision), but I couldn’t actually see the mistakes they flagged because you need to give your credit card number to see the rest.)

(Note 2: Thank you to everybody who voted for the POISON DANCE cover. You can see the winning design here. And also, POISON DANCE is now on Goodreads. In my review, I confess my secret crush on the main character.)

A few months ago, I wrote about critiquing tips I learned from my editors Abby Ranger and Rotem Moscovich at Disney-Hyperion. Today, I thought I'd talk specifically about actual changes that I made to MIDNIGHT THIEF in the editorial process.  When possible, I've tried to abstract my changes to larger principles that might help you with your writing as well.

1.    Juicing up the world building.  Midnight Thief is an alternate world fantasy novel, and much of my first revision focused on making the world more real and vivid. This included:
  • Inserting small details that illustrate how this new world is different from ours. This included setting details such as paintings, to personal interactions, to myths and folklore.
  • Language.  My editors encouraged me to come up with terms specific to the world.  For example, Palace guards are now referred to as Red Shields. I also came up with different speech patterns for the nobility vs. the poor.
  • World building as foreshadowing - without going into spoilers, there is a big reveal in MIDNIGHT THIEF.  Some initial test readers found the plot twist unbelievable, and I’ve since shaped the worldbuilding to make it more natural.

Announcing POISON DANCE, my self publishing debut. And please help me choose a cover!

Hi everyone! For those of you who follow my blog and twitter feed, you know that I've long been interested in both traditional and self-publishing models. So I'm happy to announce that I will soon be releasing my first self published work: a novelette titled POISON DANCE.

Here's the blurb:

James is skilled, efficient, and deadly, a hired blade navigating the shifting alliances of a deteriorating Assassin’s Guild.  Then he meets Thalia, an alluring but troubled dancing girl who offers him a way out–if he’ll help her kill a powerful nobleman.  With the Guild falling apart, it just might be worth the risk. But when you live, breathe, and love in a world that’s forever flirting with death, the slightest misstep can be poison.

POISON DANCE takes place about six years before the events of MIDNIGHT THIEF (my novel coming out next year with Disney-Hyperion) and the two works share several characters. Because of its subject matter, POISON DANCE is darker and grittier than MIDNIGHT THIEF, and I personally would classify it as adult fantasy, though some people might still slot it into YA.

I'm hoping to release it in a month or two, and after that, I’ll have lots of observations about my self-publishing experience that I'm looking forward to share. If you have any specific questions, let me know, and I'll do my best to address them.

In the meantime, I would love to have your help choosing a cover. I ran a cover design contest on 99 designs and have narrowed down the entries to six finalists. You can weigh in on your favorite designs using this poll. Also, if you are able to sign your name or some other identifying marker on your survey responses, I find that more helpful than an anonymous response. I am the only one who can see comments submitted with the results, though the average rating for each picture is viewable to everyone.

Anyways, thanks everyone, and I'll be back soon with an actual blog entry!

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