WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! So happy and relieved! For the uninitiated, RT Book Reviews is like the Publishers Weekly for category series romance. Here's the content of the review:
HER SON’S HERO (4) by Vicki Essex: Fiona MacAvery reluctantly agrees to let martial arts fighter Dominic Payette give her young son Sean lessons, as the boy is being bullied by kids from school. Fiona is instantly attracted to Dom, but is afraid that Dom won’t be a good influence on Sean. Dom is dealing with his own ghosts in the form of another MMA fighter who’s been in a coma since his last fight with Dom. Dom’s guilt and Fiona’s indecision are both well drawn, and the sexual tension is instantly apparent.
Reviewed By: Alexandra Kay
Also, June 1 marks the soft release (immature giggling here) of Her Son's Hero, available immediately as an Adobe ePUB ebook on the Harlequin site, or for early shipment before its July release date (if you're in Canada, keep a possible postal strike in mind).
You can get the ebook here:
And you can order the book off the Harlequin sight here:
If anyone ever says "romance books are never edited," I would like to reply to them with two very succinct and inappropriate words, possibly followed by a rude gesture.
Instead, I am countering with the first two pages of my line edit from Harlequin Superromance editor Victoria Curran.
At Harlequin, this is usually the first time an author gets to see their work after their revisions and submissions. It's at this stage that the editor has gone through the book line by line, judging every single sentence, cutting out the fat, questioning the plot, clearing up the language, and so forth, making notes along the way.
Not all line edits are as extensive as mine, but what I learned from it will ultimately make me a better Superromance writer.
Note the original title: Fighting for Her Love. It has now been changed to Her Son's Hero. Lesson the first: Don't get married to your title, because it will likely change. The editors usually sit down with lists the authors came up with, and then come up with other suggestions and ideas. (I really liked one suggestion by my co-worker: Martial Hearts. Too bad--guess I'll have to save it for another book.)
Over the next little while, I'm going to share the gems I learned from going through this excruciating process. Because there's nothing quite like rehashing your own mistakes to make you learn from them. Hopefully, you'll learn from my mistakes, too.
Note: not everything I say here applies across the board. Every genre, sub-genre and series has their own unique style. Superromance deals with contemporary category series romance with a strict focus on the romantic conflict. On top of that, everyone has their own voice and style, so nothing is either right or wrong--it's just what I learned.
1. Resist the Urge to Explain
I apparently went a little too far in explaining the hows and whys of a lot of actions, instead of letting the actions tell the story. Essentially, this is what "show, don't tell" is supposed to achieve. In the above pages, I went too far to explain why bigger boys were chasing a littler boy, hooting and laughing all the way. If you're watching this scene unfold, you can make your own conjectures pretty quickly. The book was peppered with RUE remarks.
So, now when I start describing a scene and add on a clause that begins with "because" or "to do this" or "in this way," I stop and ask myself: Is this really necessary? Can the reader make that conjecture from what happens next?
As the man did play a huge role in developing my hero, Dominic Payette, in my first book, Her Son's Hero, I'm going to do my damndest to go see this match. GSP's a world-class fighter, a real gentleman...and pretty darned hot.
Maybe I can convince Harlequin to invite him to the office for a photo shoot...
With Fighting for Her Love coming out next year (the new title is still tentative, and will be revealed as soon as it's finalized), I've been reading more and more about mixed martial arts and how it's making its way into mainstream sports.
This article from Yahoo! was an interesting one, not because of its alarmist tone, but in that its pointing out that children as young as 4 years old can now get into MMA for kids classes.
Have a read, and watch the videos posted at the end. Some of those kids in B.C. are pretty amazing, and I hope other cities, too, will see more classes like this to engage children and youths in martial arts.
To celebrate my first book contract ever, I'm having a giveaway contest!
Every Friday for four weeks starting November 5th, 2010, I'm going to give away a Harlequin vintage prize pack to anyone who comments on my blog or RTs this Tweet:
RT @VickiEssex sold her first book to Harlequin Books! RT to win exclusive prizes! Visit www.vickiessex.com for details.
***UPDATE Oct. 21: Anyone who RTs a Tweet that has the #vickiessexcontest tag will be entered into the giveaway. DM or email me if you'd like to be excluded from the draw. Only one entry per person!
Winners will be randomly drawn on Friday, November 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th, 2010 at 9:00 p.m. EST. The sooner you Tweet or comment, the likelier your chances of winning! (Winners will have their names withdrawn from the pool.)
Week one (Nov. 5): Exclusive Harlequin 60th Anniversary You Never Know With Women vintage T-shirt (size Medium); You Never Know With Women by James Hadley Chase, Virgin with Butterflies by Tom Powers, and I'll Bury My Dead by James Hadley Chase.
Week two (Nov. 12): Exclusive Harlequin 60th Anniversary Cowboy and Damsel vintage T-Shirt (size Large); Kiss Your Elbow by Alan Handley, Virgin with Butterflies by Tom Powers, and I'll Bury My Dead by James Hadley Chase.
Week three (Nov. 19): Exclusive Harlequin 60th Anniversary You Never Know With Women vintage T-shirt (size X-Large); You Never Know With Women by James Hadley Chase, Virgin with Butterflies by Tom Powers, Kiss Your Elbow by Alan Handley.
Week four (Nov.26): Vintage-style lined notebook featuring cover from Doctor Scott by Peggy Dern; set of 3 Harlequin notable matchbook memo pads; I'll Bury My Dead by James Hadley Chase, Pardon My Body by Dale Bogard.
One entry per person. No purchase necessary. One prize per winner. Winners will be required to answer a skill-testing question. Prizes are awarded as is. Prizes have no redeemable cash value. By entering the contest, you agree to the terms above.
I will not use your personal info except to contact you if you are a winner, nor will I sell your info to third parties. Because, that would be douchey.
The partial will now move on to the Gold Ticket round to be judged by literary agent Kristin Nelson. Winners of that round will win a three-chapter critique by New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong!
I can't begin to tell you how relieved/happy/ecstatic/terrified I am. This website had to go up lickity split, and the name change to Vicki Essex actually came about from editor Victoria Curran's suggestion. I agree with it. It agrees with me.
So how did it all happen? Well, the Friday before Labour Day, I was called in to Superromance senior editor Victoria Curran's office. She wanted to "chat with me for a minute."
With the dread of another impending rejection sitting heavily in my stomach, I trudged through the labyrinthine hallways of the editorial department at Harlequin, feeling much like some poor tragic Greek virgin about to face the minotaur at the next turn. Actually, I ended up getting lost. It took an angel-faced editorial assistant and her benevolent smile to guide me to my doom. (Megan, I am always going to remember that deceitful look on your face...if others knew how crafty you really are...)
I sat down in Victoria's visitor's chair in her windowless office, careful to keep an even, relaxed smile on my face and an air of nonchalance about me. After all, the first rejection--while extremely educational--pushed me to consume half a large deluxe pizza and an entire bottle of red wine on my own after our first grueling interview. I'd survived that...I could survive another rejection, right?
But this time, Victoria's face was pulled into a tight mask of seriousness. Her blue eyes bored into mine. I cringed mentally--oh, no, she was going to grab up those 300 pages and smack me with them, wasn't she?
She folded her hands over the manuscript sitting in front of her and leaned forward.
"We want to buy your book."
"ARE YOU SERIOUS?!"
My shriek penetrated the walls and probably shattered a few windows. Victoria shushed me and added in a stage whisper, "But you can't tell anyone yet!" She quickly explained that she was going to be on vacation for the next two weeks, and that we couldn't announce the sale publicly until the contract had been inked and the details had been worked out.
She then apologized for cursing me with the burden of this great joy; the sinking realization that I hadn't escaped my Greek comedy-tragedy settled in. I couldn't tell anyone. Not my coworkers, who've supported me; not the wonderful members of the Toronto Romance Writers, who've been super about critiques, advice and more. I certainly couldn't say anything on Facebook, Twitter or my blog. I couldn't even tell my friends.
But sweet, smiling, angelic Megan had known. I was permitted to squee with her.
Actually, after the initial silent mime-victory dance, I knelt on the ground in her cubicle, put my head in an empty filing cabinet and slammed the drawer closed several times to dislodge the excess squee. (True story.)
Fortunately, I was permitted to tell my husband, family and relatives. I hung on to the knowledge of this great accomplishment closely, guarding it like a glowing ember in a rainstorm. Every time someone asked, "So, how's the writing going? Did Harlequin call you back yet?", all I could do was grin and mumble, "No...still...waiting..." *facial tick*
Two weeks later, I'd sublimated the news enough that I was almost Al-Goreish in my jubilation. I think I might have actually done this at my desk at work:
So here I am, new website, new ID, new life, and so much ahead of me I think I might drown in equal parts happiness and fear.
My writer's journey has reached a turning point--it's not ended, and never will be. There will be more challenges--like producing at least 2 more books for Superromance--and lots to learn along the way. Hope you'll all stick around and keep reading this blog. Because now I can finally start having contests and giveaways!
Stay tuned, and squee along with me! Thank you all for your continued support!
The judge for the finals: Superromance editor Wanda Ottewell, who actually has a full of this MS sitting on her desk already (I resubmitted back in March after revisions via senior editor Victoria Curran).
Will this help or hurt my chances at being published? Only time and Wanda will tell....