Edits * Rewrites * Murder

Those closest to me know I will not be signed and published with Marcher Lord Press. Before there is any sympathy, let me say don’t feel sorry for me. I was blessed to have the nicest rejection letter under the sun. Jeff Gerke is the leading publisher of Christian Speculative fiction and one of the kindest guys I have had the pleasure of speaking with in the writing industry to date.

For those not familiar with me, I had the great honor of participating in Marcher Lord Press’s first ever Premise contest late last year. Not only that, I was one of the three co-winners. We each won a full acquisition read. That is a big deal in the rough world of trying to get published. Especially to someone as green as me. Let me tell you, I have learned a lot and have met many wonderful writers. As a matter of fact, this whole blog is made up of participants from Marcher Lord Press’s contest.

Jeff  took a while to get to the reading because let’s face it, he is very busy writing, editing, publishing, speaking, award receiving and raising a family I am sure there is more…the guy is Super Man. You will not hear me complain about waiting.

When the email came, I cried for a few hours and I prayed for even longer. He simply said it was not captivating enough for him to want to publish. Stinger, you say? Well, yes it was but he also gave me all kinds of great advice and did say it was an “interesting idea for a story” and “it feels fresh and original.”

When I reread these words, my whole heart lifted. This is the leading publisher for speculative fiction and he thinks I Am Ocilla is interesting, original and fresh? Whoa! That is a big compliment to get and I choose to focus on that. To me, this is hope to drive me on and give me the passion to make my work the very best.

So the slashing murder has begun. I am flat-out bloody with cuts, rewrites and edits. I didn’t think I could do it. I must admit, it caused great pain. I must admit, I felt ill during the hours I spent in chapter one this week.

I have taken hits for my style and point of view. First person present tense is almost a dirty word among my peers but on that issue, I refuse to budge. Yes, I am a rock-head. After some nifty reorganizing, major edits and murder on my flowery vocabulary, I believe my first chapter is on its way to a thing of beauty. Of course, I am a bit biased.

My focus now is another contest this fall hosted by Port Yonder Press. I plan on hacking my way through forty more chapters in time to submit I Am Ocilla in her finest wording possible this October. Wish me luck.

Peace, love and God’s will

About Diane Graham

Diane Graham lives in the mountains of eastern Oklahoma with her husband, children and many dogs. She is an avid reader and lover of all art forms that encapsulate imagination and goodness. Her debut novel I Am Ocilla was released in March 2012.

24 comments on “Edits * Rewrites * Murder

  1. Oh, Di, I hope that you are not slicing and dicing “I am Ocilla”…I love it the way it is! I may not be a publisher but I am a long time reader, and the very amazing part about this is I never read anything in this gendre and I am very captivated by it! I can give a very unbiased opinion even if I consider you a dear, dear friend. So,…please do not take away anything from beautiful story…a rejection letter from one only means that you will know that it will be God all the way that writes the destiny of this book. It won’t be your skill so much as divine intervention but if you change this read too much and second guess yourself because of one person’s opinion than I think that would take away what this book has going for it the most, a unique, individualistic, creative author whose name is Lady Di! Please pray about this and not hang all of your focus on just one rejection email. Off soap box XXXXOOOO

    • I am only tightening up the story telling. I promise all those that have read Ocilla and love her like I do, I will not take away her beautiful story. I have to learn the craft to make the story more beautiful. It is for her own good. 😀

    • And thank you for your too kind words. I am blessed to be surrounded by such lovely friends.

  2. You can do it. I’ve never regretted drastic revisions that I have done. I’ve seen a lot of good advice come from Jeff. Have you gotten the “Self-editing for Fiction Writers”? Good book.

  3. To get such a good response for your first book is a very positive reflection on you as a writer. As you said, getting published is a rough business, but you have managed to get the attention of enough readers to win a competition for your premise, AND you have positive comments from a publisher, both of which you should cherish. You are almost there, just keep pushing on and praying.

    Can I offer a piece of advice? If you’re not sure what to do with your story, try to get as many people to read it as you can. Don’t ask people close to you because they will not want to hurt your feelings. Find people who can be brutally honest. Then, if you notice a recurring theme in their comments, you should think about making changes.

    • Thanks, Paul.
      Actually, I joined an online writers critique group with Ren a few weeks back. I agree, people that love me tend to just say my book is wonderful and I am thankful for that. But I need to shed tears and blood onto the pages of my work to get it where it needs to be. 😀

      • Don’t worry – we’ll take good care of her. We’re serious about feedback, revisions and tightening writing. One of our number put on a workshop last year about editing and I have a workshop next month in re-envisioning so we’re into this stuff and mean it. We slash each others’ books up all the time but also encourage and help the author rebuild it into stronger stories with stronger writing. And it’s a Christian group too so it’s nice.

      • Maybe we should rename the group Slasher’s Annon. hehehe… Yes, Diane, I know I just read the first chapter so far, but I love Ocilla’s character! I can’t wait to learn more about her.

      • You ladies are scaring me. Haha! Thanks, Ralene. 😀

  4. You dear creature. I am sorry your story won’t be published by MLP at this time, but congrats on getting your first rejection letter! That’s huge! How many people never even get that far? Well done! And bigger kudos for brushing yourself off and getting back to the keyboard even with a broken heart. These are big steps for us writers, and you’re doing great. (I sound like I know what I’m talking about, don’t I? I’ve only gotten one rejection letter so far – a form letter – but then I’ve only submitted once, too).

    • Thanks, Robynn. I do feel quite blessed. It all has a purpose in God’s plan for me. I will just keep putting myself out there until He says it is time.

  5. Sorry to hear it, Diane.

    For the record, I was rejected by Jeff years ago (when he was still at Realms) for similar reasons. Different story, different genre, and yes, different POV and tense than my current books, but it wasn’t the right story, nor the right time.

    Keep at it, and eventually the right elements will come together for you. Have faith.

  6. This is an encouraging post, Diane.
    I recently read an article about a writer’s attitude and outlook as being the most important ingredient for success. In other words…the dreamer and optismist (and yes, we cry the hardest at rejection) is much more likely to make it to publication than the realist.
    Keep your head in the clouds, my dear. That is where all great stories begin and where they find their home.
    And thanks or posting this.

    • Funny you should call me a dreamer. God does that to me. Without Him, I would be the realist and probably cynical. I suppose God is where all great stories begin and where they should find their home. Oh I like that a lot, Julia. I love you too, sweetie. I look forward to reading your revisions on The Stone Collar.

  7. That last comment was mine, Diane. 🙂
    Love, Julia

  8. My dearest daughter,
    I just have to jump in here long enough to tell you that, when I first read this article and you told me that you were going to be re doing some things. I was fuming!!! I didn’t like the idea of you hacking what I thought was great,” I’m not biased or anything.” I thought that, not everyone had the same taste, and while I like Jeff Gerke, I don’t agree with his critique of your book. I am a firm believer in the fact that not everything should be cut from the same mold. I think that sometimes the rules and regs can bog creativity down. While we all strive to be like Van Gogh,or Emerson, or Mozart. we need to understand that they took what they needed from the masters but still stayed true to their own hearts.
    But………….. after reading your rewrite,I must say that you changed some things while managing to hold true to the true essence of your story. Bravo little girl! Hang in there and don’t change the story line. Move the words around to be politically correct but don’t change them. After all, we have enough family and friends, and fiends of friends to probably keep you on the best sellers list. Ha! Ha!
    Love Ya, Momma

    • Thank you, Momma.

      If anyone of my readers do not know, my Momma is one of my biggest fans. Think I am feisty? She is a firecracker that can run circles around any twenty year old. I am blessed to be loved and supported by such a loving woman. XX 😀

  9. Sounds alot like my mom, actually…

    As for rewrites, the best way to get over the pain of such changes is to save your old copy with the knowledge that you can always go back if you need to.

    What you usually find, though, is that the rewrite is so much better you can’t imagine ever going back.

    • Haha…Mommas are the best. 😀

      I agree. I have saved my original to flash and server but each time I read the new version, I get that wonderful tingle of rightness in the pit of my tummy. Does that sound familiar to any of the rest of you?

  10. Proud of ya, girl. They call it killing our babies, when we have to cut words we love. But the end result is tight, right and brilliantly light. You can do it!

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