Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Warp and Weft of Re-Write

So here are the mechanics of re-writes. At least: the re-writes as they are practiced by my editor, Keith Kahla of St. Martin’s Press.

I wrote the 400-page manuscript and shipped it off to Keith. He sent back edits. I input most of them. He read everything, then sent back more edits. In this case, 22 pages of edits.

I ran into a friend last Thursday. I was sitting in a corridor, nursing a coffee and juggling the 22 pages. “Whoa,” my friend said. “Kicking your ass, much?”


But in a good way.

Here’s an example of the edits I get:

“Page 207: Consider building this [paragraph] up and adding more here? Perhaps, make it clear up-front that this is the French military? In any case, fill out the details in this scene, providing more physical description — not just of the gunship but of the people inside it — in order to ground the reader more.”

With luck, when you read the novel — OK, OK, if you read the novel — you won’t ever notice this paragraph on page 207. It’s not terribly pivotal. It’s one of dozens and dozens of paragraphs that Keith thinks is great but could be better. Cleaner. Tighter.

I read each individual note. I pace, I bounce a tennis ball off the floor (don’t ask; old habit), I mull, then I sit and  figure out how to improve the paragraph.

Then I move to the next note: “Page 208: In think the reference to Sarajevo is ….”

This is the reason I love re-writes. It’s this micro-level of attention. It’s like weaving a tapestry. The overall image is all-important, sure, but with an editor like Keith Kahla, every warp and weft is worth making good.

On we go.

Time Travel

One of the joys of having a two-book contract is the time travel.

St. Martin’s Press has asked for two books, which for today we shall call Daria 1 and Daria 2. (And no, they’re not really being called that. Although my proposed titles could change, so those monikers will do for now.)

Me reading from BREAKING POINT in Portland’s Director Park.

I got my edits on Daria 1 from my editor in June and shipped them back to him in a couple of weeks. That done, I started on Daria 2. The books are chronological, so in my brain, my heroine had moved forward.

I met with my editor in New York two weeks ago and he asked some really great questions about Daria 1. Thing is: I’d already sort of forgotten some of it. He asked about one character who (to my editor’s mind) was lively and fresh and (to my mind) had been dead for six months. I thought, why is it asking about so-and-so?

Oh, that’s right. The time travel thing.

I’m getting my next round of edits on Daria 1 this Friday and need to turn them around fast. Which means wrenching my mind out of Daria 2 and jumping back in time six months. I began the process of getting ready for the edits by re-reading the first manuscript last night. Because, believe it or not, you actually forget some of the fictional stuff you create once you step away from it.

Strange but true.

I Wanna Be a Paperback Writer

Big news!

The paperback version of BREAKING POINT is set for release on Halloween!

I was in New York this past week to — among other things — meet with the good folks at Minotaur Books. We learned that the paperback of the novel, which made its hardback debut last fall, should hit bookstores around Oct. 31.

We will plan a bash here in Portland to celebrate its release. Our friends at Murder By The Book will be on hand. And we’ll use the whole affair as a good kickoff for the next novel, ICE COLD KILL, which hits the stands this winter.

More details on the paperback party as they become available!

‘Strange’ Interludes

Members of the “Is Truth Too Strange For Fiction” panel at ThrillerFest, including, from left, Ann Rule, James Barney, yours truly and D.P. Lyle. Not pictured: Moderator Kathleen Sharpe, Afra Alshiban and Matt Richtel. (Photo by Katy King)


Great Writing Tips

Literary agent Don Maass has published a how-to book on writing a break-out novel. Saw this in the book room at ThrillerFest ’12 in NYC.
Don really knows his stuff. If you’re looking for tips, you can do a lot worse than this.


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