The Reality of an Author’s Legacy – What We Will Leave Behind

Ramona Richards

Pam Meyers here
with my monthly post. This month, I’m honored to have guest poster, Ramona
Richards, Senior Acquisitions Editor-Fiction at Abingdon Publishing, share a
behind-the-scenes look at a new release from Abingdon , Scarlett Says
by Julie L. Cannon.

 


The Reality of an Author’s Legacy – What 
We Will Leave
Behind
By Ramona Richards

Julie L. Cannon
Julie L. Cannon
cared, deeply, about many things. Her family. Her God. Her art. In fact, she
cared so much for God and the depth of her faith that she refused to take them
out of her art. This cost Julie far more than many people realized, as she
turned from releasing best-selling books with mainstream publishers to books
written from her heart for the Christian market.
For instance, long
before Nashville became a hit show, helping to turn the city into one of
America’s “it” places to be, there was Twang, Julie L. Cannon’s
delicious love song to the city. It’s a book I’m extremely proud to have
edited. I’m also honored to have played a small part in its creation—in 2011, I
squired Julie and her husband, Tom, around the city. I got her into the
Bluebird Café so she could describe it accurately, fed her and Tom barbecue,
and walked with them through some of the city’s landmarks. We toured the Opry
House, and I requested that she include the effects of Nashville’s May 2010
flood in the book.
We had a blast,
and I was astonished at how much energy she had, how far she and Tom could walk
in a single evening, exploring Nashville’s downtown streets. And I still have
the umbrella she left in my car when she and Tom headed back to Georgia.
Accuracy was
important to Julie, whether she was writing about the heart of a singer or a
young woman on the brink of changing her life. This was the topic of her second
book for Abingdon, Scarlett Says. We talked about the nature of a woman
trapped behind her computer screen and the steps it would take for her to
emerge, finding hope for love and new opportunities. Julie’s research into
social anxiety issues wound deep, and her heart broke at some of the anguish
she found. She wanted that on the page.
On August 31,
2012, she delivered the first draft of the book, just short of her September 1
deadline and ready for my review. I glanced through it, then sent it to an
editor for more thoughts and feedback. Julie ALWAYS “overwrote” the first
draft, knowing she’d revise it. The manuscript was 20,000 words too long and
revealed more about the main character, Joan, than needed to be on the page.
But we knew it would all work out.
Then, on October
9, 2012, I got a frantic e-mail from one of Julie’s friends with a horrid rumor
that turned out to be far too real. Julie was gone. The traumatic brain injury
she’d suffered years before had taken its toll, and she’d died from a seizure.
I cried, off and
on, for more than three days. She had been one of our authors, yes, but she was
also a friend. When the grief settled, however, I had a problem on my hands—a
manuscript that was too long to publish and would take more than editing. It needed
a complete revision.
The easiest
answer would have been to cancel the book, and that possibility was on the
table from the beginning. No one had Julie’s voice; she wasn’t around to coach
a coauthor. But I asked the editor, Jamie Chavez, not only to complete her task
but to be as tough as she could. Because SHE would have to be the coach,
detailing what worked and what didn’t. And she did an incredible job.
But now what?
After much debate, we decided that I would do the rewrite. It took time I
didn’t have, to be honest, but I knew exactly how much of Julie’s heart and
soul went into Scarlett Says. This would be her final book, her legacy
book, and I wanted it to shine. I carefully set aside my own writer’s voice and
did my best to step into hers as I trimmed away paragraphs, rerouted subplots,
and polished passages.
Sandra Bishop,
Julie’s agent and friend, approved the manuscript, and I sent it off to the
typesetter. Then my production editor, Susan Cornell, turned her eagle eyes on
it, and we sat in her office for hours, reading sections and double-checking
everything we could. SEVEN proofs later (we usually do a max of three), Scarlett
Says
was off to the printer.
Losing Julie is
still a painful thorn in my soul, and I’ve had many folks ask me why we went
through this, when canceling the book would have been simpler. I only have one
answer.
It’s because of
who Julie was. A writer—who put her heart, mind, and soul into everything she
wrote. A Christian—who put aside worldly success to focus on faith and God. A
friend—who listened and cared and prayed.
No one knows how
well Scarlett Says will sell; there’s no author to interview, no
champion hitting the streets with media and the gatekeepers. And while
publishing is a business, it’s not always ABOUT business.
This time
publishing was about the legacy of a woman who loved deeply and changed more
lives than she realized. And I hope her last words live forever. 
Pam again: 
Ramona has graciously offered two copies of Scarlet Says to
give away. If you’d like to have your name dropped in the hat, make a comment
answering either of these two questions. Have you ever faced a writing
challenge like Ramona faced? Or… what would you like left behind as your
legacy?

Leave a comment
with your answer by Friday,
April 25, 2014,
to win a copy of Scarlett Says!
Scarlett O’Hara has an answer for 
everything . . . right?
Gone with the
Wind
’s Scarlett O’Hara isn’t
perfect, but as far as 30-year-old literature lover Joan Meeler is concerned,
Scarlett’s outspoken passion, strength, and 17-inch waist make up for her other
shortcomings. In fact, Joan has grown quite fond of writing her advice blog in
Scarlett’s devil-may-care tone. It gives her a voice and confidence she
otherwise couldn’t muster. Never mind that her writing muse is a fictional
character.



What would Scarlett
say, for example, about Charles, one of Joan’s first and most devoted blog
readers, who suddenly has Joan dreaming (and worrying) of a life—and
love—outside of make-believe? Joan digs into her heroine’s mind, searching for
something to calm her rising insecurities but discovers that Scarlett is
surprisingly mute on the topic. Abandoned by her sole source of security, can
Joan look elsewhere—even to God—to uncover the inner confidence she so
desperately needs?

A
native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban
Chicago, an hour’s drive away from her hometown which she visits often to dig
into its historical legacy. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love
Will Find a Way
,  contemporary romantic mysteries and her 1933
historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva,Wisconsin, released in
April, 2013. She is currently working on a new historical romance set in her beloved Lake Geneva area. She can often be found speaking at events around southeastern Wisconsin or
nosing in microfilms and historical records about Wisconsin and other Midwestern
spots for new story ideas.