Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting the Call: Stephanie Diaz

I’m glad to bring you another success story of a friend I made in last year’s Speculative Fiction Marathon.  (This year’s marathon starts next week, June 4th. See my post on the SFSM.) Usually the phrase it never rains but it pours refers to negative events. For Stephanie it meant amazing things. I can’t wait to hear more from her as she undergoes the submission process. 

I got the email on a Tuesday. I was sitting in my acting class at San Diego State University, taking notes on my laptop and watching my fellow classmates perform theatrical pieces when I noticed the little red “1” at the bottom of the screen. Distraction led me to skim the email without noticing who it was from.

My reaction: double-take → shock → audible squeal that no one noticed, because the class was getting rowdy.

An agent had finished my manuscript, and wanted to know when a good time might be to chat, once she finished wiping the tears from her eyes. Yes, my YA sci-fi had made her cry.

Questions tumbled through my mind. Would this be the call, or just one of those “let's discuss revisions over the phone, but I won't actually make an offer yet” kind of deals? See, this wasn't going to be my  first time speaking with an agent on the phone. Two months prior, an agent had called me out of the blue one afternoon after reading part of my manuscript to discuss its failings and what I could do to improve it. I will be forever grateful for that call, as it led me to revise and turn my novel into the manuscript that landed me an agent. But when another call loomed on the horizon, I didn't want to get my hopes up.

I emailed the agent back with my availability. I pulled up several blog posts and forums about getting The Call, just in case. The next day, I tried to ignore my cell phone. We hadn't actually scheduled a time, so the agent could've called at any second. For a couple solid hours, I was a tangle of nervousness and second guesses. Around lunchtime, I decided to go to the library to take my mind off the call.

I was turning right at the light for the library when my phone rang. I pulled into the parking lot as quickly as I could, cursing the car that almost blocked me, and managed to answer in the nick of time.

For the next twenty-odd minutes, I sat in my car with a door open (it was hot in that parking lot), a giddy smile plastered on my face. The agent loved my ms (which I had sent her a week and a half prior) and offered representation.

Back at home, emails were sent to other agents reading my ms or query, letting them know they had a week to get back to me. I spent the next several days in a daze, pinching myself occasionally. This was the third ms I'd queried over the course of six years. Only a day before I received the email requesting The Call, I'd been ready to give up on this manuscript and move onto the next.

Things got even more surreal when I received a second email in which an agent wanted a call. That Friday morning, I spoke with two agents from the same agency on the phone and listened as they gushed about my ms and tried to convince me to say “yes” to them right then and there. But there were still five others reading, and I had to give them time to finish.

Another offer came the following Monday, and I started pulling my hair out. A fourth came Tuesday evening. Wednesday, I spoke to the fourth agent on the phone, then took an hour to watch a new episode of Glee and figure out which agent I should pick.

I kept coming back to the second agent who'd offered: Alison Fargis of Stonesong. From the minute I started chatting with her and her fellow agent, Emmanuelle Morgen, I knew I wanted it to work with her. She had missed a subway stop and almost forgotten to pick her son up at school trying to finish my ms. Her clients praised her. She and I had the same vision for my story. Most of all, out of all four agents, I could tell she wanted it the most. She was truly fighting for me.

So I picked her. :)
BIO: Stephanie Diaz is 19. Born and raised in sunny San Diego, she currently studies film production at San Diego State University, but spends most of her time making novels out of stories in her head. She enjoys rainy days and afternoons spent wearing PJs and sipping wild berry tea. Someday, she would like to hike the trail to Mount Doom. Her work is represented by Alison Fargis of Stonesong.

Find Stephanie's blog here and her twitter here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Getting the Call: T.W. Fendley

More proof that there are plenty of ways to achieve success for writers. T.W. Findley has agreed to share her journey through the publishing world. Here’s  a case where meeting the right people at a writer’s conference can make your dreams come true.  Teresa’s  novel, Zero Time, is at the top of my to be read list.

This month is a perfect time for me to talk about getting "The Call" because in April 2010, I met Linda Houle, one of the publishers from L&L Dreamspell, at the Missouri Writers Guild (MWG) conference. That's where things started going right for me.

It was my first pitch session and I was plenty nervous. But instead of doing a five-minute pitch to just one agent, when I arrived that morning I learned I could pitch to all three of my top choices--two agents and a small press publisher. Fortunately, I'd done my homework. I knew why my book was a good fit for each of them and had practiced (and practiced!) my elevator pitch in front of the bathroom mirror. 

I was hopeful, but afraid to be too optimistic. I'd been there before. You see, I sent off my first query letter for ZERO TIME on Sept. 12, 2008, and immediately got a request for a partial. Elated, I submitted my chapters, now certain I would easily land an agent and a book deal. That didn't happen. I revised my query letter a few times over the next eighteen months and used QueryTracker to target and submit it to thirteen more agents. And to track the rejections.

Then came the MWG conference, and a chance to deliver my query in person. All requested a partial, ending the long dry spell. Then something unprecedented happened--within a month, one agent and the small press asked for a full manuscript!   

"The Call" came 26 days after I emailed the full manuscript to the small press. On May 31, 2010, Lisa Smith--the other "L" in L&L Dreamspell--sent me an email that said simply: "Teresa,  I am interested in offering you a contract for ZERO TIME. I'd like to see your marketing plan, and we will go from there! Thanks."

My first reaction? After I quit shrieking, I emailed my critique buddies. They'd been with me through two revisions of the book. Together we did a virtual happy dance. Later, my husband and I toasted margaritas at our local Mexican restaurant.

I went to work drafting a marketing plan after I read my publisher's book, The Naked Truth About Book Publishing, and checked out some online resources. On June 2, Lisa accepted my plan and offered a contract for both print and ebook formats.

In the meantime, I also emailed the agent who requested the full to let her know of the small press offer. Although she loved the premise, she decided to pass. I reviewed the contract and on June 7, 2010, mailed the signed copies. My debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was published in October 2011-- three years after I sent my first query letter. With its connection to the end of the Maya Long Count calendar, I wanted the book out before December 2012. I'm grateful to L&L Dreamspell for making it happen.

After that experience, I've been reluctant to get back into the query game. For my next novel, I'm going to pitch first. That's why I was at the 2012 MWG conference last weekend, pitching my young adult contemporary fantasy, THE LABYRINTH OF TIME. And I got a request from a super agent for the full manuscript!  

If you're interested in ZERO TIME, it's available in paperback or ebook through Amazon and Barnes & Noble (or ask your local librarian to carry it). I'm excited to report it earned a Walter Williams Major Work Award in the 2012 President's Contest at the MWG conference! 

You can find me at: 
Authors website:

A Yawn for John Carter, darn it

After seeing the fantastic Avengers movie at its opening, we went to see a dollar showing of John Carter over the weekend. Even though I read the reviews when it came out, I had high hopes. They got squashed. It wasn’t awful, but then it wasn’t good either. I do hate to see a fantasy movie turn out flat, especially since they spared no expense. As a writer, it made me wonder why. How can I avoid this in my own stories?
First off, I didn’t connect with the characters. Though they pulled a couple of tricks to make the mc likable, they failed or they came too late. The guy had pluck and determination. That came across in the first scenes and was maybe the only humorous part. A bit later, he went out of his way to help the wounded cavalry officer that was chasing him. But John Carter, the man, had no humor, no wonder for the fantastic situation he found himself in (think Avatar). Also all the back story of a dead wife and child was left until the end of the picture. I know back story is usually something to be avoided or dealt in bits and pieces, but, honestly, I felt the lack. I couldn’t get to know the character because I didn’t know his past. I couldn’t understand his motivation. Everything was set up to make him sympathetic, but it failed.
Also I saw no reason for the leading couple to fall in love unless it was because of their extreme good looks and skimpy outfits. They had no inspiring dialogue of any sort. He saved her life, she saved his—it was most correct and dull.
Supporting characters were brought in for scenes and then vanished. They weren’t given any context or back story either. One guy saved John Carter as a favor to the female lead. Since I knew nothing of his relationship with the girl, I couldn’t guess nameless guy’s motivation. Was she his sister? His ex-girlfriend? I never got any closure on this and most of the lesser characters (whether they had two arms or four) came across exactly the same—empty.
The bad guys left me luke warm. Apparently they were evil, but I didn’t feel it. They never did anything suitably evil on an individual level. It was all grand epic sort of evil of destroying cities and flying ships with blue death rays. Well, wiping out cities or boat loads of people I know nothing about doesn’t exactly move me. They needed a Darth Vador strangle the subordinate moment. Or how about a kick the dog while shooting the best friend scene to make watchers really hate them. To tell the truth at the big finale, I wasn’t rooting for either side.
Special effects it had in gobs. I think we all know special effects can’t carry the show when characters are flat and motivation is missing. I'll have to read the book. One summer movie disappointment down, I’m hoping for better to come.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Getting the Call: Phoenix Sullivan

This writer has helped me out so many times that I couldn’t wait to get her post. Phoenix Sullivan has picked apart query letters for myself and dozens of others. She’s even applied her talents to assist with the dreaded synopsis. Her version is still the one I use for my synopsis. On her blog, she pays it forward every day with self-publishing strategies. Phoenix has carved her own path, and she can be her own boss.

Like many of you, I pinned a lot of hope on getting "The Call." Two manuscripts and 300 queries later the phone still hadn't rung.

One of those manuscripts, Spoil of War, had been taken to the editorial board at two separate publishers. Two agents sent revision letters for it that, unfortunately, would have turned the story into something it was not.

SECTOR C got 12 passes on the requested full, with most of those agents saying there was nothing they would change about the story and that they fully expected it to sell. Pretty much everyone praised the writing and the voice in each manuscript. I figured Spoil of War, cross-genre with some controversial subject matter and a nod to the sensibilities of the 1980s, might be a tough sell.

SECTOR C, though, was high concept and I hoped it would be highly commercial. In another time, another economy, the consensus seemed to be, it would have been picked up quickly. But non-apocalyptic, near-future science fiction wasn't commanding a large enough market to take a chance on it. A smaller, digital-first press would probably have picked it up, but the idea of low royalties with little to no advance and the low sales associated with many small publishers didn't impress me.

When "The Call" finally came, it was more of a "Wake-Up Call" or "A Call To Action." I could closet these two stories and attempt the query-go-round with my next yet-to-be-written manuscript ... or I could self-publish them and see where that could lead. Self-publishing successes were just beginning to make the news, and it was becoming clear the new generation of self-publishing was not the vanity publishing of the past but a new beast entirely. It wouldn't be easy -- but I do dearly love a challenge.

That was "The Call" I answered.

And a challenge it clearly was. Marketing an ebook has as much to do with luck as perseverance and knowledge of the techniques. I published Spoil of War: An Arthurian Saga in April 2011. SECTOR C followed in September. Neither started with a huge splash. After a major publicity hiccup in August, Spoil of War found its audience on iTunes, where it's consistently been in the Top 3 in Historical Fantasy in the UK and AU stores and in the Top 10 in the US since December. And despite a rough start on Amazon, it's currently the #1 Arthurian Fantasy based on popularity and is featured on the front page of Amazon's Science Fiction & Fantasy storefront.

SECTOR C keeps bouncing up the rankings only to fall back then bounce back up again. In January, it was the #2 bestselling Medical Thriller on Amazon. Twice it's been featured as the representative title for Science Fiction on the Kindle E-books landing page on Amazon. In April, it climbed up to #84 on the Top 100 bestsellers chart storewide and made Amazon's Movers & Shakers list. A pretty good showing for a little book nobody wanted.

In December, I also published Vet Tech Tales: Confessions of an Animal Junkie, a novella-length volume of essays about my early experiences of becoming a veterinary technician. In its present form, it's too short for a traditional publisher to care about, and I would have had to wait until I completed at least 3 times as many essays/chapters to even begin querying it. As it is, the first volume, at 99 cents, is selling while I'm writing the next. In fact, just this last week it was on several Top 100 Bestseller lists, including #1 Veterinary Medicine, #97 Science, #24 Animal Care & Pets, and #56 Home & Garden. 

I'm not getting rich off of my books, but I'm pretty happy with the supplemental income they're providing. I don't have to sell nearly the number of ebooks on my own that I'd have to sell through a traditional publisher to make the same amount of money. And, because I'm offering my books free through Amazon and/or iTunes periodically, I can still get the books into thousands of readers' hands and, hopefully, in front of their eyes. Being able to get that level of distribution along with high royalties for what I sell is pretty sweet.

While I'm not (yet) in the league of those who've sold tens of thousands of their books online, I'm confident I've made more so far than I would have going with a digital-first or small publisher. I tend to be very open on my writing/e-publishing blog about what I've made, so I don't mind sharing my sales figures with you here.

·         I made about $2000 in 2011 and am right at $11,000 earned so far in 2012. (The learning curve for online marketing was, for me, a long one – I got better at it in December.)
·         I've sold 8675 copies of my books in total.
·         620 copies have been borrowed through Amazon Prime, meaning Amazon has paid me between $1.50 and 2.50 per each borrow (the amount varies month to month).
·         I've given away 69,860 copies of my books through Amazon and iTunes.

If the right deal with a large traditional house were offered, I'm pretty sure I'd take it (although "right" is getting harder and harder to negotiate). But I'm not going to go hunting it down. And the right house won't be a digital-first press or a small imprint. Not because I'm arrogant, but because I've seen too many good books not get the push they need to get the sales they deserve. I would willingly work with someone who can take my sales to the next level, but most of the small publishers I've seen haven't learned how to sell their ebooks on Amazon or iTunes or Barnes & Noble. And if you can't sell well in those venues you really can't compete.

When I think about querying again, I have only to remember an author friend of mine who snagged a well-respected agent nearly a year-and-a-half ago. The author made agent-requested revisions and the agent shopped the manuscript but was unable to sell it. This was the author's second agent (the first retired) and the second manuscript the author couldn't sell. The agent refused to shop a third manuscript the author had completed because the agent didn't think the non-US locale would be marketable. So the author is now polishing a fourth manuscript to try again. Although agented, this author is no further along in their career than they were 6 years ago.

I've beta-read for this author. The writing is wonderful. It's their timing and luck that need improvement.

Sometimes, it's up to us to make our own luck.

What I've learned from my friend's experience, my own experiences and others' is that "The Call" isn't the same for everyone -- and the results can vary widely. For many, "The Call" simply never comes. A few authors will hit that home run we all want; others will happily settle for a $3000 advance and a book that doesn't earn out. And others still will heed a "Wake-Up Call" of their own and self-publish -- with the same variance in results. There are self-published books that can't sell 10 copies a month and those that sell 10,000.

Who really knows ahead of time which books will break out? The best any of us can do is study the market and follow our heart.

And maybe throw a bit of salt over our shoulder while we tuck that 4-leaf clover behind our ear…

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Run for Your Life! The SFSM is coming!

It’s coming!
Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s your chance to develop the thick skin you will need for dashing off query letters. I’m talking about the Speculative Fiction Summer Marathon. Boiled down to the bare bones, the summer marathon is a chance to post chapters and receive unbiased feedback. In return, you practice your editing skills by critiquing other writers’ chapters. This event is open to writers who have a polished manuscript in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal romance and anything else that fits in the speculative tent. Speculative YA’s are also welcome.
And it’s absolutely, one hundred percent free.
Whether you’re a new writer wanting to learn more or an experience grammar professional who needs help with plot holes, this marathon is for you. Chapter will receive ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ votes each week. ‘Nay’ votes will result in not passing go and heading back to start.
Warning: This event lasts for twelve weeks. It may involve shredding of your manuscript and tearing of hair. It has been known to cause fatigue, lack of sleep, upset stomach, and sudden manuscript failure.
Benefits include: The ability to catch and snag an agent. The confidence to show without telling. Beta readers hounding you day and night for more chapters.
So say goodbye to plot holes and misplaced commas. Cut out unneeded character filtering forever while eliminating those pesky run on sentences. Get your manuscript ready for the Speculative Fiction Marathon today.
Rules: See the ACQ Speculative Fiction forum for complete rules and conditions. All entrants must be members to enter. (Really, you have to ask Clippership for the password to enter the forum.) Marathon starts June 4, 2012. One chapter posted per week on Monday only. You may post as many or as few weeks as your guts allow. Agents are not guaranteed, and no prizes will be awarded.

In all seriousness, this marathon helped my manuscript, Kindar’s Cure, more than words can express. Getting eight to ten reviews per week of your twelve first chapters is priceless. There is such a variety of tastes, opinions, and skill levels that every aspect of writing gets covered. I doubled my beta readers and met many new friends. I sharpened my own editing skills by exercising them on other works. It does take guts, but it’s an experience not to be missed.
I’ll be entering my new YA dystopian, Dodge the Sun. Here’s to hoping 'yay' votes outnumber the 'nay'.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting the Call: Ruth Cardello

This fantastic lady’s success story makes me truly envious. Who wouldn’t love to have writing be their full time job? It certainly proves that in this day and age there are so many ways to achieve the dream. Be sure to check out Ruth Cardello’s One Month Promotional Challenge at AQC, where she shares tips on getting yourself and your work out there. It's really worth a look.

A little over a year ago, I had just about given up that my book, Maid for the Billionaire, would ever find a home.  I had written it as a category romance, but the lines I had written it for passed on it.  Each pass said about the same thing, “Good writing, but it’s not what we are looking for right now.  Do you have anything else?”
Maid for the Billionaire was the first book in a series I intended to write, but when it wasn’t selling – I wasn’t sure if I should continue the series or start a new one.

A self-published author came to our local romance writer’s group and discussed how her rejections had been the best thing that could have happened to her.  After hearing her story, I thought – why not?  It’s free and might provide me with the feedback I needed from readers. 

I put my first book up for free and held my breath.

I never dreamed that it would be as well received as it has been or that self-publishing would bring so many wonderful people into my life.  Within months, over 200,000 people had downloaded it and my reviews were mostly positive – creating a good base of readers for the release of my second book.

Self-published authors don’t get “the call.”  We don’t usually have agents or contracts.  It’s difficult to feel published -- difficult to know when to celebrate.  For me, the moment I celebrate is when my second book cleared $100,000 in the first six months. 

After some soul searching, I finally left my day job to write full-time.  My third book, Bedding the Billionaire, is expected to be released mid-July.  The best part of writing full-time? More time with my children. I write every day from 8-3 then I close my laptop and am simply MOM.   No more waking up at 5 am to write before the kids wake up.  No more sacrificing my own sleep to find time to write after everyone has gone to bed.  Weekends are time for family, friends and relaxing again.  I couldn’t be happier.

There is an ongoing debate in many circles regarding the best route to publication.  The only thing I’m sure of is that change is ongoing and inevitable.  What this will all look like a year from now, five years from now – I have no idea, but I pray I’m still a part of it.

You can find more about Ruth Cardello at her website or at Facebook under Author Ruth Cardello.  Check out this link to find her on Amazon.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Query's Been Ripped to Shreds and Why I'm Happy About It

My friend, Phoenix Sullivan, has graciously fixed her impressive talents on my query and ripped it to shreds, line by line. You can find it at her blog, Phoenix Sullivan: Dare to Dream.
For those who aren’t writers, the query is the letter you use to introduce your book to prospective agents or editors. Think of that blurb on the inside of a book’s dust jacket or on the back cover. It’s meant to entice while at the same time condensing the entire substance of a two hundred page novel into two hundred and fifty words without giving away the ending. And it must have that elusive ‘voice’. One mustn’t forget the voice or the style to your words that makes them stand above the crowd. In other words, it’s the nastiest torture device known to budding authors, specifically designed to winnow the wheat from the chaff.
Most writers are too close to their work to write an effective query. That’s certainly true with me. We understand exactly what we’re trying to get across, but forget that nobody else has read the novel so it comes out clear as mud. It makes perfect sense to us, but leaves everyone else baffled. We spend days and days, creating one revision after another, usually making the situation worse. That’s where a friend’s opinion becomes worth its weight in gold. A friend can put you on the right track.
It’s time to close out all these mixed up metaphors with one more. Phoenix, thanks for riding your white horse to my rescue. Now I’m ready to create query number hundred and ten.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting the Call: Mindy McGinnis

You might know this writer as the moderator Big Black Cat from AQC. Not only does Mindy McGinnis have an amazing debut YA novel coming out in 2013, but she … wait for it … critiques query letters on her blog! I can’t think of a better way to help fellow writers and pay forward the success she richly earned.  Thanks for sharing your story, Mindy.

I started querying when SASE was a byword in the querying world, and a hopeful writer set aside part of their income to pay for postage. So when I got an email from Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary looking for a good time to schedule The Call, it was truly a surreal moment. 

As a long-time member and newly minted moderator of the AgentQuery Connect forum, I knew exactly where to get my information to prepare for the call. I had my laptop fired up and my browser on this thread, my questions at the ready. It's as indispensable as oxygen when that moment comes for the aspiring writer.

My palms were sweaty and I think the butterflies in my stomach had butterflies in their stomachs when Adriann answered the phone. She talked first, telling me how much she lovedNOT A DROP TO DRINK, which I lapped up like a kitten in a swimming pool filled with cream. After that, she told me a little about the background of her agency, and what they had to offer me.

Then it was my turn, and I ticked off the questions. What changes, if any, did she foresee for DRINK? What houses did she think it would fit in best, and what was her approach as an agent to them? What was her revision process like, and how heavy-handed or light on the reins was she in it? 

Adriann had all the right answers, and after we'd exchanged the business side of things we had a little side-talk about how great The X Files was in its heydey, and what books we were reading at the moment. Even though I had another offer of representation, I knew right away that Adriann was the one for me.

Hey, she likes the X Files.

Bio: Mindy McGinnis is a YA librarian and writer repped by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. Her debut YA novel, NOT A DROP TO DRINK will be available from Katherine Tegen/ Harper Collins, Fall 2013. Mindy blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, and serves as a moderator on the writing forum AgentQuery Connect. She also contributes to the group blogs From the Write AngleThe Lucky 13sBook Pregnant and Friday the Thirteeners.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Can You Read This

Someone sent this to me in an email. It's not exactly a challenge, but it is fun.

7H15 M3554G3
53RV35 7O PR0V3
D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
R34D1NG 17
W17H0U7 3V3N
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.
C3R741N P30PL3 C4N
R3AD 7H15.
PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F
U C4N R34D 7H15.

It's just amazing what the mind can do. It's flat miraculous that we can convert sounds into symbols and create a language out of them, then take that language and make up whole worlds populated with imaginary people. Like reading, writing is a skill not to be taken for granted.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting the Call: Lori Sjoberg

Last summer, I participated in a grand speculative fiction marathon of critiquing chapters on AQC. (If you’re interested look here, then apply to become a member of the Speculative Fiction forum.) We post a chapter a week starting in June and running through August. It’s a marathon indeed and super helpful! (Really, I advise everyone who writes a form of fantasy to check it out.) Anyway, there was a lot of great work posted during the marathon, but I remember one lady’s work stood out.
Lori Sjoberg has such an easy flow to her writing. Her effortless style was a joy to read. And her characters popped from the page. I’m happy to say that her first book will be released, hopefully if things go as planned, this December!   

I’ve had my fair share of rejection on the path to publication. For my paranormal romance, Grave Intentions, I queried fifty-eight agents and editors, received twenty-seven form rejections, twenty no responses, four requests for partials, and seven requests for full manuscripts. The one that hurt the most was from an agent who requested the partial and then the full, and then declined to offer representation about six weeks later. The letdown was so crushing I thought about giving up. I probably would have, if not for the kind words of encouragement from my husband, my friends, and my fellow writers.
Still, the rejection stung. I stopped querying and focused my efforts on tightening my manuscript and joining a new critique group. In the meantime, I had a number of outstanding submissions, (one with an agent, and three with editors) so I sent follow-up emails to all four.
Much to my surprise, I received an immediate response from the editor at Kensington. He said he was in the process of reading my manuscript, enjoying it so far, and would let me know when he finished. So I waited. And waited. (Actually, it wasn’t that long, but it seemed like FOREVER.) About a week later, I had a mild coronary when he sent another email. After a couple deep breaths, I clicked on the message.
To paraphrase, he liked my story but didn’t like the ending. He offered some suggestions, and asked me to let him know if I was open to the drastic revision.
Of course, my initial reaction was a resounding “Hell, no!”  How could he possibly ask me to change the ending? I worked hard on that ending! I LOVED that ending!
Following my husband’s advice, I thought about it over the weekend. I reread the editor’s email another thirty or forty times, and came to realize he actually wasn’t asking me to change the ending, just the way I reached the story’s conclusion.
Okay. I could work with that.
It took the better part of an afternoon, but I created a rough outline for an alternate ending that maintained the integrity of the story. Whew. I emailed the editor back, letting him know I was open to a revision, and that I’d love to talk with him about my ideas.
The next day he responded, wanting to know a good time to call.
Two days later, I’m waiting by the phone for his call. I let it ring twice – didn’t want to appear too eager, you know– and then picked up.
Much to my dismay, he didn’t sound very receptive to my idea for the alternate ending. So I kept talking, about how the scene would play out, how it would tie in with events from previous chapters, and how it would bookend the opening scene and showcase the character arcs of the hero and heroine. And the more I talked, the more enthusiastic he sounded.
When I finally finished talking (rambling), he asked me if I was working on anything else. I told him about the sequel featuring one of the secondary characters from Grave Intentions. His response was something along the lines of, “Well then. In that case, I’d like to offer a two-book deal.”
Cue heart palpitations. And the urge to squeal like a little girl.
So I guess the moral of the story is to keep an open mind when an agent or editor recommends a revision. You may not always agree, but sometimes it works out for the best. Now that it’s written, I have to agree with my editor. The new ending is much stronger than the original.

 You can find Lori on facebook: