Getting Editor Revisions

by Robin Caroll

It’s the same for me every single time I turn
in a manuscript. I hover at my computer, checking email every 3 minutes for a
note from my editor. Doesn’t matter if it’s an editor I’ve worked with several
times or a new one. Doesn’t matter if it’s a publishing house I’ve partnered
for several books with or if it’s my first with them. I’m literally waiting
with baited breath for editorial feedback.

And when it finally comes, I have the same
sensations as I always do: excitement to see how the first person besides me
feels after interacting with my characters; dread to maybe confirmation I’m a
hack; and energized to make my book the best it can be.

Even after close to 30 books, I still manage
to go through the same emotions…and then the same steps to deal with all of


When I get my edited manuscript back, I scan through it and read all the
comments quickly. Then I let myself vent. Usually to my husband.

“What does she mean this phrasing is
awkward?” and “The pacing isn’t off in this scene!” and “How can she not see
the hero’s motivation? It’s so obvious!” are all things I have vented. Just a
few of the many. And my husband, being the good man that he is, nods his head,
hugs me, then takes me out to dinner. Which also helps move into the next step…

Take a Day Away From the Manuscript
Since the family and I go out to eat, it’s easy enough not to go right back to
the file when I get back. I force myself to ignore the manuscript (and revision
notes) for 24 hours to let my subconscious work through what I read.

When I return the next day, the comments make
a lot more sense than they did the previous day. For some reason, the first
read of edits usually feel like personal attacks. After that, they feel more
like good insight and suggestions.

Remember We’re Partners to Make the Book
the Best Possible

When it’s time to start revising, it helps me to remember that my editor and I
are working together to put out the best version of my story as there can be. If
I’m unsure of her comments, I ask. I’d rather be clear on what I need to do. It’s
my editor’s job to tear apart my manuscript like the pickiest critic ever and
find every nitpicking detail anyone could even think about causing a pause in
the reader’s experience. It’s my job to polish until it shines. How to do that?
Here are my tips:

1-Start Simple
Complete the easy stuff first. Word choices. Active vs passive. The little
things the editor pointed out that I can fix in less than a minute. Once I get
those done, I always feel so productive.

2-Fix Character Issues
Yes, my
precious “babies” have issues I need to fix. After the simple stuff, I work on
the character issues the editor has pointed out. I created these people, so I
should be able to step into their skin and smooth out roughness that the editor
pointed out. Which finally leads to…
3-Fix Plot Issues
Once the
easy stuff is completed and then the characters are shining, I move on to the
last stage: plot issues the editor has found. Sometimes that means stripping
apart my timeline and rebuilding. Sometimes I need to weave in more, or
sometimes cut. A lot.

When revisions are all said and done, I
usually take a day to let the story “rest.” The next day, I read it through,
making any final changes before saving and sending. But once it’s done and
gone, I move on. Because, after all, I’ll be getting line edits soon!

learned that the harder I work on a book, the more satisfying to hold the final
product in my hands. Every time I work with an editor, I learn and grow as a
writer. Hopefully, my craft improves from each editor’s insights. And it’s time
to start on the next book, as deadlines loom!
Torrents of
As a white water rafting guide, Katie
Gallagher must battle the forces of nature on a daily basis. When sabotage
becomes apparent on a weekend rafting trip, Katie must determine who she can
trust—and who has their own agenda.
Hunter Malone has a mission on a
business adventure trip on the Gauley River, a mission that didn’t include a
spunky guide who could handle the class-five rapids better than he’d ever
imagined. But can she handle the truth?

Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll
is a southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell
stories to entertain others. Robin’s mother, bless her heart, is a genealogist
who instilled in Robin the deep love of family and pride of heritage–two
aspects Robin weaves into each of her 25 published novels. When she isn’t
writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty-five+ years, her three
beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons–in the South, where else? She
serves the writing community by serving as Executive/Conference Director for
ACFW. Her books have finaled/placed in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt
Medallion, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best, and Book of the Year.

Pilates for Your Imagination

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. For relaxation, he writes westerns. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at

To create a picture without using your senses.

Does crafting the perfect sentence—both grammatically correct and rhythmically pleasing—get you published?

Does owning a bank account with free refills get you published?

Does marrying the CEO of a publishing company get you published?

Help your odds at getting published—write a stellar plot. I don’t want to read a book you published through manipulations. I want to read a stellar book, one the publisher was forced to publish because the plot was brilliant.

You’re going to need an imagination, and no bottomless bank account’s going to buy one. Here are a few tips to exercise your plot-making skills.

—Daydream. In pictures, not words. If you can’t, I’m sorry. So sorry.

—Imagine a smell. Then imagine a taste. Next, a touch. Now a sound. And finally a picture. Anything. Then try combining two. Can you mix three? All five?

—Read. Turn off the blasted TV. Throw it over a cliff.

—Study gorgeous paintings. Make the figures move. Give them a story.

—Think of a sarcastic statement to everything around you. WARNING: Choose what comes out of your mouth carefully.

—Talk to children—toddler to teen. Brainstorm anything with them.

Make your main character your imaginary friend.

—When telling stories to friends, work it. Make it funny, visual, and expressive.

—Spend time with creative people.

—Don’t resist. Observe people. Make up stories about them.

—Don’t keep your imagination in your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Be curious. Be daring. Be naughty.

You’re responsible for your education. Work it!

Of Moose and Men ~ by Torry Martin

by Yvonne Lehman
I want to introduce you to
one of the most delightful books I’ve ever read. Here are a few of my writers
group members talking about Of Moose and
(… lost and found in Alaska).

Well, Torry Martin is one
of the most delightful persons I’ve ever met. The hardest part in writing about
Torry is that he’s so multi-faceted, multi-talented, it’s hard to bring it down
into a few words.
In a few words: Torry is
an award-winning actor, screenwriter, comedian, speaker and teacher at writers
conferences, and has co-written screenplays for for several films.
Of Moose and Men is about his years in Alaska which he says were his hardest and the
happiest. This book is filled with stories that can make a person laugh out
loud (really loud! And for a long, long time! Even ROTFLOL!), cry, be scared to
death, and think seriously about life.
In the preface, we’re told
to “Bundle up in your long underwear and grab your bunny boots because we have
just crossed the Canadian border and entered Alaska.” Then when you do, just a
few of the things you encounter are: a moose getting its head stuck in Torry’s
window. A reindeer trapped in his kitchen. A bear almost preventing him from
leaving his cabin. And, he once woke up frozen to his floor. The amazing thing
is not that we encounter such things, but the way in which the stories come to
life in such hilarious, serious ways.
Torry experienced plenty
of miracles and mishaps, blunders and misfortunes, in the wilderness. He came
face-to-face with God and was changed forever.
I don’t think you’ll be
disappointed to journey with Torry as you read Of Moose and Men! It’s published by Harvest House Publishing and
available on and at Christian bookstores nationwide.
Torry says of this book’s
co-author, Doug Peterson, “He makes me sound smart! Not an easy feat, mind
you!” Doug is a Gold-Medallion-winning author of 60+ books including 42 for
Veggie Tales series and 4 historical novels, and writes for the University of
Torry Martin has
8 books of comedy sketches published by Lillenas Drama Publishing and is also the
creator of the character of Wooton Basset for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey. He has written 11 full feature length
scripts with co-writer Marshal Younger, including the comedies The Boonies, Helen of Troy, TN, Heaven Bound
and The Matchbreaker. His most recent
acting roles were in the Taylor Swift parody of The Office, Hallmark’s The Ultimate
, and the feature films Heaven
, The Resurrection of Gavin
Stone, The Matchbreaker, Skid,
“Mountain Top. 
Visit Torry at
@torry_martin, and Facebook: torrymartin.

Do You Have a Story or Does the Story Have You?

by Alton Gansky
WE’VE ALL HEARD the question many times: “Where do you get
your ideas?” This has led to quips from authors meant to be funny and to show
the silliness of the question asked. Sci-Fi writer Neil Gaiman used to reply, “From
the Idea-of-the-Month Club.” I’ve heard a dozen other such responses. Writers
tend to hate the question, perhaps because it is so difficult to explain to
those who do not routinely traffic in story creation.
There is something mystical about story making, something
that defies description. Some novelists are idea machines; others can only
manage one or two book-worthy stories. Idea wrangling is part of being a
working writer. We search for ideas liked Forty-Niners searched for gold near
Sutter’s Mill.
Ideas are not the exclusive domain of the novelists. Inventors
need ideas. So do nonfiction writers. We writers must not only have brains
buzzing with stories, but we must be able to weed through them to find those
that fit us, fit the market, and fit our readers. That ain’t always easy.
Having just reread that last sentence, I am reminded of our
tendency to think of the writer “coming up” with an idea. Back to the lead
question: Where do you get your ideas? As time continues to drag me downstream
in this life it occurs to me that maybe I’ve been thinking about this process
all wrong. Maybe we don’t “get” ideas. Maybe ideas “get” us. Think about this
quote from Stephen King:

“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no
Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story
ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of
the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something
new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them
when they show up.” (Stephen King, On
, Scribner, 2000, p. 37)

In that last sentence, King hits the nail on the head. We
don’t find ideas, we recognize them.
As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve been forced to ask if
we haven’t been saying things backwards. Do we have ideas, or do ideas have us?
Do I have a story or does a story have me? That’s not as mystical as it sounds.
I’ve noticed that the stories I’ve done best with have haunted and hunted me. I
didn’t sit down and say, “I think I’ll come up with a new idea.” Instead, I
tripped over them. They sneak into my brain through my subconscious, crouch for
a time, then spring up and say, “Look at me!” Then like a child who sees a toy
in the store he wants, starts badgering his mom with unrelenting pleas.
The idea for my first novel, By My Hands, was waiting in the car for me. I found it there right
after I left Children’s Hospital in San Diego where I had just made a
ministerial visit. My book, A Ship
, surfaced from a newspaper article about a WWII sub
that ran aground in South Korea. The premise for Angel came for a verse in Galatians. And so it goes. All of these
ideas as well as almost all other ideas have found me—I didn’t find them.
Still I had to do something with them. Fantasy writer Terry
Brooks wrote:

“Here’s another news flash for everyone who has ever asked a
writer where he gets his ideas. Or she. Getting ideas is the least difficult
part of the process. What’s hard, really hard, is making those ideas come
together in a well-conceived, compelling story. So many of those ideas that
seem wonderful at first blush end up leading nowhere. They won’t sustain the
weight of a story. They won’t spin out past a few pages. They won’t lead to
something insightful and true.

“Ideas are like chocolates, as Forrest Gump might say. You
never know what you are going to get.” (Terry Brooks, Sometimes the Magic Works, Ballantine Publishing Group, 2003, p. 66).

It is great to have an idea. It’s better to be had by an
Alton Gansky is the author of 45 books or so and co-host of Firsts in Fiction podcast.