Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kathleen O'Brien: Amalfi Night Billionaires

I’m up late tonight, because I’m in the middle of revisions for my upcoming Tule novella, THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET.  It’s part of a really exciting new series, HOT AMALFI NIGHTS, which kicks off today with Katherine Garbera’s hot and fabulous novella, THE BILLIONAIRE’S TEMPTATION. Go check it out…you won’t regret it! J

My book won’t be available until September 14th, and I’m glad, because I want that time to polish the story.  Believe it or not, I really love doing revisions.  When I write the first draft of a book, I’m always stressed and anxious.  Is my planned plot going to work?  Are the people likeable?  Will the story be long enough, short enough, correctly paced, satisfying in its happily-ever-after?

Then, when I reach The End, I turn the manuscript over to the editor and take a step back.  Over the next few days or weeks, depending on the schedule, I work on another project, or refill my creative well by doing the non-writing things I love, while the editor does the thinking.

By the time she returns the manuscript to me with her comments and suggestions, I’m feeling renewed, and far less frazzled, because now it’s not just me sitting here worrying myself to death.  Now I’m part of a team, and for all of us the only goal is to make my book as good as it can be.

I’ve written about forty-five books, over many years, and every single editor I’ve been lucky enough to work with, both at Harlequin and at Tule, has been fantastic.  These professionals have, every one, been warm, sensitive, brilliantly analytical and wholeheartedly in my corner. 

People often ask me whether it’s hard to be edited.  One friend even wondered whether it might “hurt.”  I understand the question, but the answer is unequivocally NO. 

Sure, it can be disappointing to roll up your sleeves and go back to work when you would have liked to binge-watch Downton Abbey instead.  And occasionally it’s embarrassing, sometimes, if I have to face that I’ve missed the mark, that something I imagined would be funny simply wasn’t, or that something I hoped would be sexy was actually kind of blah. 

But it never hurts. 

How could it?  We’re all on the same team, remember, all shooting for the same goal.  And knowing the editor is there to catch me if I fall gives me the confidence and freedom to try those high-wire tricks I might not dare alone.

The truth is, no writer can ever possibly tell how her words will come across to someone else.  I know what I meant to communicate.  But did I?  Only a fresh pair of eyes can tell me what actually came across to the reader.  And only a seasoned professional editor can tell me how to bridge that gap, how to flesh out the conflict or pick up the pace, how to build sympathy for my hero or recover those little plot points I misplaced along the way.

So as I return to polishing THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET, a big, sloppy thank you kiss goes out to my editors for helping me be the best writer I can be.  And a big thank you to my readers, too.  Because you’re the goal we’re shooting for.  If you like it, we all win!

I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll stop by and tell me how you feel about getting feedback and notes on your work.  Do you love it?  Hate it?  What makes the difference for you?


Laurie G said...

I've had many work evaluations through out my lifetime. In general I've been pleased and agree with them. However, occasionally you get someone who hasn't been at their managerial job long and they really haven't had the time to see you perform.

It's easy to accept praise and hard to accept criticism. For example, I had one evaluation where my customer service manager gave me the highest recommendation only to have her be forced to lower it by the store manager because she thought I asked too many questions while I was providing customer service. Even though that is the store's recommended protocol. I was happy to see that store manager go to another store.

I still remember getting a D for penmanship in grade school. That hurt! As you can see I still remember receiving it, 40 years later. I still don't know why I received that grade. My writing isn't perfect but it is legible and I was never a messy student. Let it go! Right?

I'm looking forward to visiting the Amalfi coast through your series!

Best wishes for your September release!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Oh, Laurie, I can so relate to the penmanship grades! I went to a convent school, and the nuns were horrified by my left-hander's scrawl. They were absolutely determined to prevent me from bending my wrist over, as lefties do, but they never won that battle! can see, maybe, that I haven't really let it go. ;-)

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thanks, Kathleen. About feedback: If it's in my day job, that depends. Too broad a topic for me to address here. But if it's in my writings, that primarily depends on two things.

First, has the person who's criticizing me actually read my work? Yes, I've been on the receiving end of really nasty, vehement, uncalled-for criticism by those who haven't. I simply refuse to accept this sort of feedback. It doesn't matter whom it comes from, or how much of an "expert" he or she might be.

The same applies to feedback from someone who claims to have read my work, but, I suspect, hasn't. Or someone who reads just an opening passage, then pronounces judgement on the whole work.

Second, is the feedback coming from a member of my target readership? If not, then again, it's unacceptable.

In terms of romance fiction, usually this means a reader who expects a power fantasy gets very disappointed in my works. But that's okay. Such readers have thousands of writers producing tens of thousands of titles every year.

My kind of romance fiction is for those looking for something different. These are the readers whose feedback I value. Whether it's "I love it!", "I hate it!", in-between, something else, or any combination of the above.

Good luck with your current and upcoming projects, Kathleen!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

What a thoughtful reply, as usual, Mary Anne! You're absolutely right to point out that we can't be overly influenced by people who simply aren't into the kind of work we're doing. But when someone who *is* knowledgable about what I'm trying to accomplish offers me ideas to improve the story, I feel like a very luck writer, indeed!

jcp said...

Feedback is fine with me as long as it's focused not a personal attack on me.

alysap AT yahoo DOT com

Laura Shin said...

Editors cherish authors who understand the team approach an recognize that we have a common goal. And we prize authors who want to make it better even if it means more work. The authors who don't take evaluation of the work personally are hoarded like precious gems.

dstoutholcomb said...

I don't mind constructive critiques intended to better my work


Kathleen O'Brien said...

JCP, I agree. Keeping it professional is absolutely key!!

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Laura, you know you are one of the treasures of my life, without question. I can only imagine how tough it is to tell a writer a manuscript needs work. Your intuitive nature makes your balance of kindness and constructive comments absolutely perfect. All the empty ego-strokes in the world mean nothing if they don't sound sincere.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Denise, I have heard other writers talk about how some people, mostly critique partners, not editors, could offer criticism that felt destructive, rather than constructive. What a toxic experience that must be, and I absolutely agree that a lot of trust is needed between writer and editor. Otherwise, it really could be painful!

donnas said...

I like the feedback but I get really nervous that they will hate my work first and think Im horrible. Luckily so far all feedback has been positive.

Mary Preston said...

I am not a writer, but feedback on any endeavour has to be a positive thing. You learn from it.

Ada said...

I always enjoy feedback in things I do if nothing to better myself or find an easier/more efficient way to do things. I don't write books but it's still nice to get positive encouragement for other things

ahui89 at hotmail dot com

Laurie G said...

Kathleen, I went to Catholic school too! I was right handed.

Anita H said...

As long as the feedback is not all negative and helps improve my work, I'm all for it. I think everyone can always use positive reinforcement in their daily lives.

thebigbluewall77 (at) gmail (dot) com

Becky H said...

I like getting feed back if it is constructive, not destructive. We need to hear the positive too,.

Kathleen O'Brien said...

Anita H, you're the winner of the Amazon gift certificate! Please email me privately at, and I'll get it sent out to you ASAP! Thanks to everyone for sharing in the conversation!