Friday, February 27, 2015

Paige Shelton's Cozy Reading Corner

This is the reading chair. It’s huge and we all - husband, son, and I take turns reading or napping in it. It’s in a strange location though - a corner of the kitchen. We like the sun that comes in during the day but the lamp is good for night. It’s a good place to either read in while you’re preparing dinner or hang out with whoever is. 

Paige Shelton

Thursday, February 26, 2015

7 Things You Didn't Know About Jessica

So Kim tagged me in a post on Facebook. Apparently I'm supposed to share 7 things you don't know about me. Since I don't make it to Facebook as often as I would like I thought I'd share my things here, even though I find it hard to believe that there's anything left for longtime readers to learn. 

  1. One of the first cars I ever learned to drive was my grandfather's canary yellow 1967 Mustang convertible. My dad still has that car and I still love that car.
  2. I played both volleyball and softball in high school. Badly. Okay, I sat on the bench.
  3. Pitbulls are my dog breed of choice. I believe strongly in shelter dogs and will pick a pit or pit mix over anything else any day.
  4. My first pair of designer jeans were Gloria Vanderbilts with bright blue stitching. I sort of wish I still had them. 
  5. I prefer extreme temperatures. Give me hot or cold any day. It's the mild temperatures I can't stand.
  6. One of my dreams is to stay at the Ice Hotel in Sweden.
  7. My absolute favorite thing to do at Disney World is drink at Cava del Tequila in Mexico. 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More on Editing

Yesterday's post sparked a few new questions and you know how much I love it when blog post take on a life of its own.

Carolynnwith2Ns asked:

I have a question. When you begin the editing process are your notes and revision-suggestions based on a first read?
I'm thinking that if you have not read the entire book at least once you may make note of, or question something, which happens later on.
Copy edits pretty much jump right off the page but the other stuff, like plot holes filled, questions answered, twists and surprises may be further down the line because that's what the writer is intends, even though as a reader you may feel a little lost as the story builds.
Great post. I love learning how you guys actually do your job.

Typically my revisions are based on the first read. There is one exception and that's if the client is brand new and I just took her on. In that case, I read the manuscript first just to see if I love it and after the client agrees to become a client I read it for revisions.

Your question about what happens if later on I discover the author has done what I wanted is valid and it is definitely something that happens. However, in some cases I might think that it should have happened earlier. For example, if on page 25 I note that the heroine should have kissed the hero right here, but she does so on page 27 I might say, "ah, I see she does it here. That works." or I might say, "this works too, but I really do feel like you might want to consider moving this up a bit."

My feeling when making revisions/edits is that I want the author to see my thought process while I'm reading. If something seems off to me, tedious, over-written or lacking I want her to know. Maybe she cleared it up later or maybe she disagrees, but I think she'd rather hear it from me than reviewers later. Or at least I hope so.

If the writer intends for twists and turns to happen down the road that's fine, but if the reader feels lost as the story builds that's not a good thing. You never want your reader to feel lost because you only, typically, lose a reader once.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Editing Process

Just as writers often discuss the process they have when writing, agents and editors often discuss the processes they have when editing. I think part of this discussion is the hope that we'll come up with an easier way, but in the end we're all using the process that works best for us.

The way I edit is not only different from the way other agents or editors edit, but its even different from author to author or book to book. And sometimes I don't even know how I'm going to edit something until I start doing it. 

With some books I can sit down with my Kindle and a notebook. I read the manuscript in the same way I read a book, but with an editorial eye. Anytime something seems off to me or doesn't feel right I make a note in my notebook and when I'm done I work all of my notes into a revision letter. This kind of editing is usually done with books that need more general global changes. Things like, soften the heroine or more red herrings.

For other books I need to sit in front of my computer. I open the document, turn on track changes and leave the notes as I read. This means edits, cuts, word choice changes and, usually, a lot of sidebar comments. This kind of editing is usually done for those books where a global letter might not really convey what I mean, but leaving comments throughout can help shape the book in the same bigger way. So instead of saying soften the heroine I can say, "the heroine feels really nasty and unlikeable here" or "delete this line."

The thing about the editing process that I think most authors forget is that it takes a long time. Not as long as it does to write a book certainly, but a lot longer than it takes to read one. For an editor to give a good solid edit she needs to have a  little space and freedom to do so. In other words, trying to do it the week royalties are due or when there are five other things to be read won't work. Sort of like a speed edit or speedy revisions won't usually work for an author.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Kim's 2015 Wish List

Every January we have a meeting at BookEnds discussing our goals for the coming year and reviewing our performance over the previous one.  We talk about how many books we sold, how many new clients we brought on, and how we can grow even more in the near future.  These meetings always get me motivated, and make me stop and think about just what I want to see on my client list and how I can make it happen.

So this is my wish list for 2015.    Help me make it happen!

1)   I’d like to start attending more conferences again.  I backed off on them quite a bit while my kids were young, but now I’m ready to dive back in.  I’m specifically interested in attending conferences with romance, mystery and YA writers, and speaking at RWA chapter meetings.  Contact me at if you are looking for faculty for an upcoming conference.
 2)   I’m hungry for some emotional women’s fiction with a strong romantic element.   Something along the lines of JoJo Moyes.  I love her books because they’re unputdownable, but also very affecting.
 3)   Similarly, I’d like to see more intense, emotional YA and NA.  I’ve been seeing a lot of great NA lately with electric romantic chemistry (that doesn’t necessarily mean super explicit, but I’m okay with steamy).  Chemistry isn’t always the easiest thing to convey on the page, so when it’s done right, I can’t stop reading!  I especially like angsty characters.
 4)   Historical Romance.  It breaks my heart that historicals are a tougher sell these days, but they’re still my first love.  I’m not giving up on them.  It’s the first thing I want to pick up when I’m reading for pleasure.  When I have some screen time, I’m usually rewatching “Outlander”, “The Tudors”, or any one of the BBC Jane Austen productions.  And I’ve watched every “Jane Eyre” production at least 3 times.  I continue to look for strong new voices in historical romance.  I’m particularly interested in Regencies, Victorians and Scottish.  I just know that more readers will come back to them.
 5)   I’d like to grow my social media platform.  I’ve been very inconsistent on Twitter and Facebook.  My presence is sporadic.  I’m really going to work on contributing more regularly.  That said, I want my tweets/statuses to be meaningful and relevant.  I’m too busy working with my clients to tweet my every move.  What kind of agent tweets would you like to see more of?

Look forward to hearing from you!  I’ll keep you posted on how I do with my wish list!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Melissa Cutler's Cozy Reading Corner

My favorite place to read is also my favorite place to work longhand on my books: the beach. And not just any beach. I’m lucky enough to call San Diego, California, my home, with nearly a hundred miles of coastline to choose from for a cozy reading place. What makes a great reading beach for me? No crowds, easy parking, and a daily buffet of surfers to watch. Ahem.

Anyhow, I found just such a spot at the literal southwest corner of the USA—the southernmost beach in San Diego, where I can look to my left and see details down to the individual windows in the charming Mexican beach resort across the Tijuana river mouth, it’s so close. I like to chill at this beach at least once a week, so I always keep a beach chair in the trunk of my car, along with a beach bag filled with sunscreen, a notepad, pens, and a water bottle. Toss in my Kindle and I’m ready to go!


Melissa Cutler knows she has the best job in the world writing sexy contemporary romances and romantic suspense. Her latest release is UNDEFEATED, a contemporary romance featuring a hockey-playing ex-soldier and a yoga teacher. You can learn more about UNDEFEATED at Melissa’s website

Melissa was struck at an early age by an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she's not globetrotting, she's enjoying Southern California's flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids. She loves hearing from readers at, or on Facebook and Twitter. Visit to learn more about Melissa and her books and don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Publishing Job Search

I was emailing with a former intern recently and she was asking for some advice on finding a job in publishing. It's a conversation we have almost every year with our interns, at least with the ones who are smart and ambitious.

The one tip I gave her about the search for a publishing job is that the trick is knowing what genre the editor/agent specializes in. For example, if you're interviewing for a job with a romance editor that editor/agent is going to want an assistant who has a love for romance, or at least reads it. The applicant who says the last books she read were for school or only YA is probably not the right person for that job.

On my first job interview, 400 years ago, I was about 9 months out of college and had spent my summer reading everything I could buy off the drugstore rack. It was the summer of The Bridges of Madison County, John Grisham, and Michael Crichton and I was devouring them all. When I interviewed for my job, the editor seemed noticeably impressed when I told her what I had been reading (I was applying at Berkley after all) and we had a long discussion about Bridges of Madison County. I got the job.

So for anyone looking to find a job in publishing read what you read and apply for every job you can, but remember that when talking with the editor knowing your stuff as it relates to her stuff will take you far.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Short and Sweet on Queries

A Blurb might be painful and I think every author would prefer she could skip the blurb and just get the agent, editor and reader to read her writing. But that blurb is the only way you're going to get people to read your writing. It's not just agents who need the blurb. It's editors, and it's readers. 

Before a reader will even consider opening the book to read the writing they are going to read the back cover blurb. Often the back cover blurb is taking directly from the author’s initial query.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Co-Authoring Agreements

In a recent email a writer asked for advice on finding a publishing lawyer. She and a friend have been in the process of writing a project that's under contract with a small publisher. Her concern is that the project is, in her words, "far from a normal co-authorship" and they've never had a formal contract between them.

First let me clarify that there is no such thing as a normal co-authorship. In fact, I'm always willing to tell you that there are few things in publishing, or life for that matter, that are "normal". How an arrangement is made between co-authors is many and varied. I've seen all sorts of things, and I've seen no actual real arrangement. It's the latter that scares me.

If you ever make the decision to enter into a co-authorship with anyone (friend, critique partner, lover, spouse, child...) my first bit of advice, before anything else is written, is that you write up some sort of contract. If you have an agent it's something your agent can help you with. If you don't, feel free to get a lawyer, or write up something yourself, but something you can both agree to. The agreement should include, among other things, how to handle due dates, the split of ownership of the property as well as money, what happens if one person wants to quit writing and what happens if one of the partners dies.

Writing a book together is a business arrangement from the start. When Jacky Sach and I first made the decision to start BookEnds we immediately met with business advisors and other agents for their advice. And we made a business plan and a partnership agreement. We wanted to know, should anything horrible happen, that we could not only protect ourselves, but protect our friendship. I think it worked. Fifteen years later and a dissolved partnership and we're still friends. Having things in writing from the beginning made it easier to know how things would end, without hurt feelings.

The tricky piece of this writer's email is that they probably have some of these terms defined. If they have a contract with the publisher the contract is in either one name or in both which would mean either one author owns the material and the rights (as defined by that publishing contract) or everything is split 50/50.

I hope this duo is able to firm up an agreement quickly. I hope that anyone else starting such an arrangement does the same immediately.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Susan Furlong & Lucy Arlington's Cozy Reading Corner

At our house, we call this the Reading Chair. I've spent a lot of time here with children snuggled close while they listen to their favorite books. They're all too big for that now, but it's still my go-to spot for a little time out with a good book and a cup of tea.

Played by the Book - releasing Feb. 3rd

Also watch for the Georgia Peach Mysteries - 7/2015