Help was merely pixels away

What do you do when you have a problem you can’t solve? You seek help, of course. Sometimes you know exactly where to find help. At other times, you don’t even know what help to look for.

At the end of October, my agent told me he didn’t like my novel Unravelled which sent me into a major slump. I felt like I was up to my knees in mud trying to move forward but losing sight of the destination. (Perhaps not a perfect analogy, but you get the picture.)

“I’m done,” I told my husband. “I can’t work on that novel any more.”

I didn’t cry, although I might have since I’ve worked on Unravelled for many years and that particular version felt good to me. Really good. I pouted a bit and tried some retail therapy. I read. I blogged and exchanged friendly words on Facebook. And then an email came my way.

Jenny Quinlan runs a business called Historical Editorial as well as two blogs and had kindly accepted my offer to guest post. We were emailing back and forth about the guest post when the synapses sparked. HISTORICAL. EDITORIAL. She edits historical fiction. Perhaps she would have a look at Unravelled?

“A developmental edit is what you need,” Jenny emailed me with authority and the deal was done.

Historical EditorialTo my delight, within a few weeks I had a four page document outlining her concerns and suggestions along with a marked up manuscript highlighting places where the story faltered or some aspect jarred. Brilliant. Yesterday, using Skype video, we discussed her ideas, coffee cups in hand, Jenny in her office and I in mine.

Help, as I said, was merely pixels away.

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Meet M.K.Tod

Meet M.K.Tod

The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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17 Responses

  1. Crits from another writer/editor can be VERY helpful and, as in your case, a necessary prod to push yourself through a slump. That’s one of the reasons four of us have created an editorial collective. So far it’s working very well — we have only one publication so far, others on stream (including a new one by Jan Alexander, a “Next Big Thing” contributor). We’re not taking on anybody else yet (too busy writing and reading each others’ work), but the editorial collective idea (banding together for reciprocal crits) is one others may want to emulate. We’re at if you want to see how we’re working.

    1. I don’t know, Rachel. This novel has been titled ‘Shadows”, ‘While the Secret Sits’ and now Unravelled. I really like Unravelled because that’s exactly what happens to one of my main characters. There would have to be a really good reason … did you have something in mind?

      1. No, it’s just that when I think of “Unravelled”, the mental picture that comes to mind is one of those hyperactive, Upper West Side Type-A yuppies that loses it one day when someone else grabs the last package of Organic Pad Thai……they unravel. (This actually happened: a lady slapped another lady in an upscale NYC gourmet supermarket because she took the last box of frozen organic pad thai and the case ended up in court. In this case, BOTH of those ladies unravelled.)

        But in the case of your MS, and if Jenny thinks it’s a good idea, perhaps if you gave us a quick story summary, we could do some brainstorming and come up with an alternate title. It certainly can’t hurt. I understand your story involves military intelligence and coded messages. Perhaps a title that reflects the espionage element would create an enticing element.

  2. On second thought. Scratch that idea. I just read somewhere that Publishers don’t really care what you call a ms, anyway they change it most of the time. Just keep on writing!

  3. I’m saving up right now for a professional manuscript assessment. I’m really looking forward to what I can learn from it.

  4. Congratulations on making that connection. It sounds like she’s given you some excellent food for thought. It’s wonderful to get that level of editorial comment – those fresh eyes can open your own. Keep us posted on your editing.

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