deborahjross: (hands)
Tanith Lee, one of the greatest writers of fantasy, died recently. I "came of age" in my own fantasy career reading her marvelous stories (even though we were born the same year) and had the delight of editing several of her short stories and in the process becoming friends. Many writers and readers have posted tributes to her. Here is a bit of my own story, originally written as part of a "behind the scenes" series for The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring, which contained the third of the Tanith Lee stories I was privileged to edit.



What is there to say about editing a Tanith Lee story? You sit there, holding the typewritten manuscript that she sent you, and something in your brain turns itself into total fangirl jelly. But you already knew that.

To begin with, the first Tanith Lee story I worked on was for Lace and Blade (2008). She'd agreed to submit a story in the very early planning stages of that project, before I came onboard as editor. And it was my first gig as editor. Over the years, I'd worked with a bunch of different editors and had ideas about what worked for me, what didn't, and how I wanted to interact with writers "from the other side of the desk."  After years of participating in writer's workshops and teaching adult education classes in writing, I was all set to instruct and guide.

None of this prepared me for the experience of holding in my hands an original typewritten Tanith Lee manuscript.

The first, and most important thing, I had to do was to take off my fangirl hat and my fellow-writer hat, and affix my editor hat firmly to my head. This involved an excruciating change of gears. I made mistakes. Of course, I made mistakes. (And I learned how to clean them up.) I wasn't born knowing how to edit, let alone how to edit iconic authors in whose shadows I have long stood. Tanith herself encouraged me. She wrote to me, "On editing though - like writing, I feel strongly one must do what one feels is right. In me, of course, you run into an old war-horse, 40 years in the field, covered in armour and neighing like a trumpet." Which was a most gracious way of acknowledging that the relationship between an author and an editor is an organic process that, when at its best, is rooted in clear communication, deep listening, and respect. Not intimidation (in either direction), but a partnership in which both people have the same goal -- to make the story the best representation of the author's vision.

By the time I received, "Question A Stone," Tanith and I had evolved out a procedure that worked for both of us. It began with her sending me a typewritten manuscript. In a 1998 interview, she said, "I have to write longhand, and no one can read my writing, I have to type my own manuscripts, because I'm going almost in a zigzag, across and then down. (I don't write backwards, I've never been able to do that!) I used to throw away my holograph manuscripts after I'd typed them, but I'm keeping a lot of them now, because I'm starting to think, if anyone ever is interested in me after I'm dead, they can look and see, 'My god, this woman was a maniac!'" 

I'd tried scanning Tanith's pages into a digital file, but all the handwritten corrections and irregularities of type, not to mention the paper being British-sized rather than American-sized, meant the result required an enormous amount of line-by-line clean-up. So I transcribed it (and then printed it out and sent her a copy for review, which amounts to a preview of proof pages.) I've heard this technique suggested for beginning writers -- type out pages from the published works of your favorite authors, to get an inside look at how the story is put together, how the prose works, all the details you miss when you read; the action of typing (or writing out the passages longhand) engages your brain in a different way. Transcribing Tanith's manuscripts taught me an immeasurable amount about how she crafts her prose and weaves together the details of character, setting, dialog, plot, the works.

On the computer print-out, I highlighted anything I had questions about, she caught my typos, I caught hers, and what she sent back was ready to go in the final anthology line-up.

"Question A Stone" involves two superb and very sexy swordsmen who, through a twist of circumstances, find themselves committed to fighting a duel to the death, despite having fallen in love with one another. Their swords, being magical, have other ideas. The whole adventure takes place in an inn called The Chameleon's Arms, a delight suggested by Tanith's husband, John Kaiine.

o0o

"Forgive me that I must interrupt your meal," said Andreis, as he stopped beside the table. "But unfortunately you and I have something to discuss."

Talzen looked up at him in dreary self-annoyance. Which with a flick of expression sometimes bewildering to others, he changed to the lightest arrogance. "Pray sit. Have some wine. It's from Khavalisc. The l8th Year."

Andreis raised an eyebrow. "That won't be necessary. But I will sit." He sat.

Was ever such male grace surpassed?

Damnation, thought Talzen.

"Perhaps an apple then? They're at perfect ripeness."

"Forgive me again," said Andreis, who had too quite a wonderful voice, "but I dislike to share food or drink with anyone I shall presently kill."





















deborahjross: (Default)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] sartorias at Editorial comments
Linda Nagata talks extensively about dealing with editorial comments. I wanted to ruminate further, but felt it would be rude to blather in a public forum. This is my safe blather place.

I first want to get the every process is different, every editor and editor-and-writer relationship caveat out of the way. The idea here is not to say anyone or thing is wrong. I find that a dead-end discussion.

Red: First Light, which made it to the Nebula finals as the first very small press novels to do so, I believe, was edited by fellow member Judith Tarr. One of the back-med processes of Book View Cafe is editing; again, writers and styles are different, but there are two or three BVC people to whom I turn for editing, and Judith is one of them. (Deborah Ross and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel are the two others. Though we have more editors, I haven't tried some, and others our styles don't jive.)

It's easy to say "I'm an editor"--in fact the Net is full of people offering to editor your books. Whether or not they actually can depends on your point of view: you can look at reviews of traditionally published books, where you know there was an elite team of Ninja editors at work, and see "Where was the editor on this thing? Asleep at the switch!" Followed by reviews that state the work in question was perfection, of course.

I think the editing process works best when the editor takes the time to explain what they are seeing, and why. In BVC, because no one has the authority to say "You have to do what I say or return your advance," there is an opportunity for dialogue.

One of the things Linda brought up is the "This should be a scene" note. Again, writing is not like math. There is no equation for what ought to be a full scene, a half scene, a bit that occurs offstage and gets reported (and discussed) by characters, or the narrative voice summarizes it as part of a transition. Generally speaking, when I employ this Note of Doom (I suspect every writer's heart sinks at least at first when they see it, because after all, they didn't write the scene in the first place) it's because I feel that the narrative voice is telling the reader what to think, which can be felt as a cheat, or else is shortchanging character evolution/emotion.

Of course, sometimes the writer doesn't write the scene, but discovers a place earlier on that can fortify that bit, then the summary snaps into a tight transition.

I don't like to look at reviews of my own stuff until way after the fact (too wince-making when it's too late to fix) but I do look out for reviews of books I edited. And I love seeing praise, though I am an utterly invisible part of that book's process. But the work still feels important even though what the book is saying is not my words.
deborahjross: (Default)





Once upon a time, editors were the gold standard of book midwifery. Editors loved books and had the time to not discover budding authors, who received nurture and guidance for their entire careers. The best editors took the “long view” and invested patience in allowing “their” authors time to develop, find their audiences, and achieve their full potential. If a single book didn’t do well, author and editor soldiered on; this loyalty and refusal to give up on the partnership encouraged authors to try new and challenging projects. Editors understood that not every book will be a best-seller and that new writers need time to find the true power of their voices. 



Read more... )
deborahjross: (croning)
Here's the beautiful cover, designed by Dave Smeds:



Table of Contents:

Introduction: Darkover, An Evolving World, by Deborah J. Ross (editor)

Learning to Breathe Snow, by Rosemary Edghill and RebeccaFox

Healing Pain, by Jane M. H. Bigelow

Blood-kin, by Diana L. Paxson

The Tower, by Jeremy Erman

Stonefell Gift, by Marella Sands

Compensation, by Leslie Fish

Green Is The Color Of Her Eyes So Blue, by DeborahMillitello

Renegades of Darkover, by Robin Wayne Bailey

Memory, by Shariann Lewitt

A Problem of Punishment, by Barb Caffrey

Hidden Gifts, by Margaret L. Carter

Climbing to the Moons, by Ty Nolan
deborahjross: (Fall of Neskaya)

I'm thrilled to announce the lineup of stories for the next Darkover anthology, Stars of Darkover, that

I had the joy and honor to edit, along with Elisabeth Waters. So many fine writers fell in love with Darkover and sold their first stories to Marion Zimmer Bradley, and then went on to stellar careers. The anthology will be released in print and ebook formats in June 2014, in time for Marion's birthday.

The stories are as awesome as the night sky over the Hellers.

Stars of Darkover Table of Contents

All the Branching Paths by Janni Lee Simner

The Cold Blue Light by Judith Tarr

Kira Ann by Steven Harper

Wedding Embroidery by Shariann Lewitt

The Ridenow Nightmare by Robin Wayne Bailey

Catalyst by Gabrielle Harbowy

The Fountain’s Choice by Rachel Manija Brown

House of Fifteen Widows by Kari Sperring

Zandru’s Gift by Vera Nazarian

Late Rising Fire by Leslie Fish

Evanda’s Mirror by Diana L. Paxson

At The Crossroads by Barb Caffrey

Second Contact by Rosemary Edghill and Rebecca Fox

A Few Words For My Successor by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald

deborahjross: (Default)

I've been quieter than usual here and I thank you all for keeping the archives nice and warm. A little while ago, I posted various sorts of good news. Here's what's on my plate -- er, my computer -- now.



I'm about to begin editorial revisions to the third book of The Seven-Petaled Shield. It's called The Heir of Khored, and if you've read the first one, that will mean something. If not, you have a treat in store. Heir is a June 2014 release. It's so great to have the volumes come out about 6 months apart. And, I must confess, a bit odd to be plunging into #3 on the eve of the release of #2 (Shannivar).



To "clear the boards for action," as it were, I finished the first, very rough draft of an "Attack Novel." That is, one that so grabbed me that I wanted to write it, even on spec. Depending on how extensive the revisions my editor wants for Heir and when the deadline is, I'm hoping the keep the excitement of this project going, at least long enough to send it out to a beta reader. A beta reader is someone I trust to take a look at the whole shapeless mess and give me an overall reaction. Beta readers are to be treasured and showered with chocolate.



I'm also working on an anthology that I've been keeping silent on until the lineup of stories was complete. Stars of Darkover (to be published by the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust in time for Marion's birthday, June 2014) is just that -- an anthology of stories by "Marion's writers" and "friends of Darkover," superb professional writers all. Once the contracts are done -- very soon now! -- I'll be able to post the Table of Contents. Stay tuned!



And if that isn't enough, I'm putting together a collection of my essays on writing, life, and the care of the creative muse. InkDance: Essays on the Writing Life will come out in January from Book View Cafe.

deborahjross: (Default)

... some about my work, others just plain delicious. This week's round-up:





The latest Sword and Sorceress, just released, includes my story, "Pearl of Tears." It's a companion piece or reflection of "Pearl of Fire" from S & S XXII. The narrator, and the consequences of her actions, wouldn't leave me alone. The anthology is available in ebook and print editions from the usual places.





From Book View Cafe, a delicious and awesomely wonderful anthology of "author's favorite" stories (edited by me and Pati Nagle). "From the fantasy and science fiction of our roots to steampunk, romance, historical and mainstream; from humor to life’s hardest challenges, across the spectrum from light to dark. Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and many more." Here's the link to order it or download a sample story. The Table of Contents:Read more... )

deborahjross: (Deb and Cleo)
Over at Book View Cafe's blog, I answer questions about how I became an editor, how I approach a shared world anthology, my thoughts on how each anthology takes shape, and a bunch of other cool stuff. In part, the interview is to celebrate tomorrow's release of Mad Science Cafe, a delicious and more than slightly wacky, grim, inventive concoction of well, mad scientist tales that I had the joy of editing.

Q.) How did you decide what you wanted for Mad Science Café?

A.) I tried to approach the process with an open mind. The writers at Book View Café are all seasoned professionals with individual creative styles. Suggest a theme and no two will come up with the same interpretation. Even within as narrow a topic as “mad scientists,” I found a rich variety in approach, in setting, in character–some hilarious, others grim; some closer to the tone of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, others wildly different. Much to my delight, I received a healthy mix of original stories and reprints, some of which have been unavailable for some time. As I read through the submissions, I realized that “mad scientist” is a jumping-off point and that I could open the scope from the original image of the wild-eyed genius in a white lab coat with great results.

deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
Last year I began this series on "the stories behind the stories" in this anthology of marvelous fantasy stories I was privileged to edit. I got about halfway through when life in the form of writing deadlines intervened. So I'm going to repost them and hopefully finish the series, then put them together in a companion volume. to The Feathered Edge.

One of the challenges of writing short fiction is how much must be accomplished in how few words. Harry Turtledove once said that novels teach us what to put in a story, but short stories teach us what to take out. Every story element must serve multiple purposes - setting the scene and evoking the larger world beyond it, creating and heightening tension, revealing character -- oh, and moving the plot along. It's a tall order to accomplish in only a few thousand words. Some writers do the world-building part so well in even so short a space that it keeps beckoning them to return. That happened to me with a series of short stories I wrote for Sword and Sorceress (that eventually became a fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield). It also happened to Madeleine E. Robins with her world of "Meviel."

The first I saw of this wonderful place was the story Madeleine wrote for the first anthology I edited, Lace and Blade from Norilana Books. It was called "Virtue and the Archangel" and began thus:

Veillaune meCorse left her virtue in the tumbled sheets of a chamber at the Bronze Manticore. This act, which would have licensed her parents to cut her off from family and fortune, was a grave error; but with her maidenhead, Veilliaune also left the Archangel behind, and that was a calamity.


I guess the world of Meviel was just too enticing for one such tale to suffice, and when I was reading for the next volume, Madeleine queried me whether a second story in the same setting would be of interest. Bring it on, I said, and received the hilarious "Writ of Exception." I'm not going to divulge any of its secrets; you'll have to read it for yourself.
Read more... )
deborahjross: (Deb and Cleo)
Last year I began this series on "the stories behind the stories" in this anthology of marvelous fantasy stories I was privileged to edit. I got about halfway through when life in the form of writing deadlines intervened. So I'm going to repost them and hopefully finish the series, then put them together in a companion volume. to The Feathered Edge.

What is there to say about editing a Tanith Lee story? You sit there, holding the typewritten manuscript that she sent you, and something in your brain turns itself into total fan-girl jelly. But you already knew that.

To begin with, the first Tanith Lee story I worked on was for Lace and Blade (Norilana Books, 2008). She'd agreed to submit a story in the very early planning stages of the project, before I came onboard as editor. And it was my first gig as editor. Over the years, I'd worked with a bunch of different editors, and had ideas about what worked for me, what didn't, and how I wanted to interact with writers "from the other side of the desk." Marion Zimmer Bradley had been a role model and inspiration about how to encourage new writers. After years of participating in writer's workshops and teaching adult education classes in writing, I was all set to instruct and guide.

None of this prepared me for the experience of holding in my hands an original typewritten Tanith Lee manuscript.
Read more... )
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
Last year, I started a series of blog posts on the stories in The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring - how I met the authors, my thoughts on these particular stories, how our lives and work are woven together in community. Life and deadlines intervened, so I never finished, so now I'm reposting them and will complete the series. I can post each blog here, or just a link to send you over to my blog. Which works better for you?

[Poll #1896343]
deborahjross: (Default)
A great podcast interview with Betsy Wollheim of DAW Books! (It's about 30 minutes long.) I loved what she said toward the end about why she's optimistic about the future of publishing.

Episode 52 of Speculate!-Betsy Wollheim Editor Interview | Speculate!
deborahjross: (Default)

What is there to say about editing a Tanith Lee story? You sit there, holding the typewritten manuscript that she sent you, and something in your brain turns itself into total fan-girl jelly. But you already knew that.

To begin with, the first Tanith Lee story I worked on was for Lace and Blade (Norilana Books, 2008). She'd agreed to submit a story in the very early planning stages of the project, before I came onboard as editor. And it was my first gig as editor. Over the years, I'd worked with a bunch of different editors, and had ideas about what worked for me, what didn't, and how I wanted to interact with writers "from the other side of the desk." Marion Zimmer Bradley had been a role model and inspiration about how to encourage new writers. After years of participating in writer's workshops and teaching adult education classes in writing, I was all set to instruct and guide.

None of this prepared me for the experience of holding in my hands an original typewritten Tanith Lee manuscript.

The first, and most important thing, I had to do was to take off my fangirl hat and my fellow-writer hat and affix my editor hat firmly to my head. This involved an excruciating change of gears. I made mistakes. Of course, I made mistakes. (And learned how to clean them up.) I wasn't born knowing how to edit, let alone how to edit iconic authors in whose shadows I have long stood. Tanith herself encouraged me. She wrote to me, "On editing though - like writing, I feel strongly one must do what one feels is right. In me, of course, you run into an old war-horse, 40 years in the field, covered in armour and neighing like a trumpet." Which was a most gracious way of acknowledging that the relationship between an author and an editor is an organic process, when at its best rooted in clear communication, deep listening, and respect. Not intimidation (in either direction), but a partnership in which both people have the same goal -- to make the story the best representation of the author's vision.








By the time I received, "Question A Stone," Tanith and I had evolved out a procedure that worked for both of us. It begins with her sending me a typewritten manuscript. In a 1998 interview, she said, "I have to write longhand, and no one can read my writing, I have to type my own manuscripts, because I'm going almost in a zigzag, across and then down. (I don't write backwards, I've never been able to do that!) I used to throw away my holograph manuscripts after I'd typed them, but I'm keeping a lot of them now, because I'm starting to think, if anyone ever is interested in me after I'm dead, they can look and see, 'My god, this woman was a maniac!'" I've tried scanning the pages into a digital file, but all the corrections and irregularities of type, not to mention the paper being British-sized rather than American-sized, means the result requires an enormous amount of line-by-line clean-up. So I transcribe it (and the print out and send her a copy for review, which amounts to a preview of proof pages.) I've heard this technique suggested for beginning writers -- type out pages from the published works of your favorite authors, to get an inside look at how the story is put together, how the prose works, all the details you miss when you read; the action of typing (or writing out the passages longhand) engages your brain in a different way. Transcribing Tanith's manuscripts taught me an immeasurable amount about how she crafts her prose and weaves together the details of character, setting, dialog, plot, the works.

On the computer print-out, I highlight anything I have questions about, she catches my typos, I catch hers, and what she sends back is ready to go in the final anthology line-up.

"Question A Stone" involves two superb and very sexy swordsmen who, through a twist of circumstances, find themselves committed to fighting a duel to the death, despite having fallen in love with one another. Their swords, being magical, have other ideas. The whole adventure takes place in an inn called The Chameleon's Arms, a delight suggested by Tanith's husband, John Kaiine.



Here's where to buy the whole delicious anthology in ebook or trade paperback editions from Amazon:  or from Barnes & Noble or, if you prefer an independent bookstore, Powell's online (paperbck only).





The chameleon photo is by Volker Herrmann, licensed under Creative Commons.



Mirrored from my blog.
deborahjross: (bench)
Some years ago, I began editing anthologies, "sitting on the other side" of the editorial desk, as it were. I had a wonderful time, made a ton of mistakes, did a lot of things right, made some splendid friends, and had even more fun inviting writers I'd long admired. But the publishing world is bumpy and unpredictable, and I found myself with a completed anthology and no publisher -- and a climate in which I got told over and over, "no one is buying anthologies."

But I did not give up. For one thing, this one was so splendid, so delicious -- funny, heart-breaking, romantic, derring-do-ish, action-packed stories from amazing writers -- that I could not simply walk away from it. [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse, one of the contributors, called it, "lovely lush fantasy." So I got stubborn. And kept trying. And...

Voila!

Brand new from Sky Warrior Books!

Here's the TOC:
FEATHERWEIGHT by [livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de_
THE ART OF MASKS by [livejournal.com profile] sartorias
CULVERELLE by Sean McMullen
FORTUNE'S STEPCHILD by [livejournal.com profile] lingster1
THE WOMAN WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE HORNED KING by [livejournal.com profile] dancinghorse
A WREATH OF LUCK by [livejournal.com profile] madrobins
EMBERS by [livejournal.com profile] calendula_witch & [livejournal.com profile] jaylake
QUESTION A STONE by Tanith Lee
A SWAIN OF KNEADED MOONLIGHT by Dave Smeds
FIRE AND FROST AND BURNING ROSE by Rosemary Hawley Jarman
THE GARDEN OF SWORDS by [livejournal.com profile] kdwenthworth
BLUE VELVET by Diana E. Paxson
OUTLANDER by [livejournal.com profile] samhenderson

You can buy it from Barnes & Noble or amazon.com (although for some algorithmic reason, amazon picked the name of one of the contributors as the author).
deborahjross: (Default)
From [livejournal.com profile] kateelliot

Here are some reasons I cut scenes and paragraphs:

1) The world building needed to be trimmed to allow the narrative to focus on character and plot

2) I changed my mind about the direction the scene was taking

3) It is excess verbiage not germane to the forward push of the narrative (see also #1 above)

4) A change elsewhere in the text made the exchange, scene, or description obsolete

5) I just didn’t want it there any more


Read the whole thing here: http://kateelliott.livejournal.com/200385.html
deborahjross: (Default)
Jessica Faust at Bookends Literary Agency, talks about a "middle editor," somewhere between a casual reader and a manical nit-picker-rewriter.

A good editor finds that central spot (and remembers to go back there when she accidentally leaves) where the enjoyment of the book hasn’t left, but the editor brain is still on. Instead of searching for things to tell the author to fix, she waits for them to jump out at her.

BookEnds, LLC — A Literary Agency: Finding Your Middle Editor
deborahjross: (Default)
Juliette Wade offers some thoughtful and useful tips on when to add or cut words from a story here. A couple of tidbits:

You might hear critiquers saying: "I have a hard time accepting your premise"/"You're doing too much telling"/"You're gesturing at the story."This one is probably too short. I'm not saying that pieces like this don't sell (I've seen at least one in Analog!). However, if the premise isn't sticking, you may not have used enough words to flesh it out and give it a strong foundation.

You might hear critiquers saying: "I love the voice in this one"/"The thing that really worked for me was the texture..." Be very careful about cutting words out of this one. Yes, there may be words you can cut (I just took a piece like this down from 8300 to 8000 words), but make sure that you're keeping a close eye on which words are contributing to voice and texture at the same time they contribute to plot and character.

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