Swoon Author Kristen Orlando's Editing Update: Making Every Word Count
Maya Angelou once said, “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through their brain and goes straight to their heart.” Writing is the great love of my life. Having the opportunity to write something that people may pick up off a shelf and read is an absolute privilege; a life-long dream come true. And every time I sit down at my computer, whether it’s to write something new or refine something old, I keep this quote in the forefront of my mind. I read and reread sections of the manuscript and ask myself, will this slip under their skin? Will it slide into their heart? If the answer is no, I owe it to every reader to delete and try again.
I count myself as one of the luckiest people on earth. Not only did a phone call from Holly West and Lauren Scobell change my life (*throws confetti in the air*), but I’ve gotten to mold my first book into something I’m so proud of with the best team in the business.
When the edit letter hit my inbox, Holly warned me not to panic when I saw its size, a hefty but thoughtful 11 pages. I’ll be honest, my breath did catch in my chest at first glance, but the more I read, the more I found myself saying, “Oh yes, that makes total sense,” or “Oh wow, that will make it stronger,” or “That’s just a brilliant idea!” Instead of being scared, I got pumped!
I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better editing experience. Holly and Lauren are a dream team, always available to chat through the biggest stumbling blocks or the tiniest of details over email or on the phone. The highlight of my editing process was meeting with Holly and Lauren about the book in person. We sat in one of Macmillan’s conference rooms in the Flatiron building for hours, drinking “fancy coffee” (as Holly likes to call it) and eating peanut butter and chocolate Buckeyes I brought from Ohio. Going chapter by chapter, line by line, through every single edit was an experience I’ll never forget. Being able to brainstorm with those two awesome, brilliant ladies and come up with solutions on the spot as a team was exhilarating and so valuable.
After my trip to NYC, we were under a tight deadline to get the final edit done in order to hit my fall release date. So I locked myself in my house for three weeks and did almost nothing but write. I didn’t watch TV, read a book, see friends, put on makeup or wear real pants for weeks. (The no real pants part was fine by me. If loving PJ pants is wrong, I don’t want to be right).
The rushed timeline was equal parts terrifying and exciting. But every time my eyes stung from staring at the computer screen for 15 straight hours, I’d think of that Maya Angelou quote. I’d remind myself that I was getting to do the coolest thing in the world and to make every single sentence, every single word count.There are some major, exciting changes to the book. For one, the title! The book title is now…(drum roll please)…You Don’t Know My Name. I love the new title and think it encompasses the secrecy and spy theme of the book perfectly. There are tons of new plot twists in the new version as well.
One of the major changes is that Luke is no longer a Black Angel. That was one of the big twists I enjoyed writing in the original version (and something readers were so surprised by). It was actually the only edit for which my knee jerk reaction was, “Oh but I love that he’s a Black Angel!” After talking it through with Holly and Lauren, the many reasons for changing it were so right. That edit has made the book so much more powerful and the tension between Reagan and Luke, as well as her decision about her future, so much stronger. Luke is now a huge part of the book and is in nearly every chapter (unlike the first version where he shows up one-third of the way through). There is so much more between those two now. An amazing friendship, fun flirtation, intense chemistry (even I get a little faint reading about the electricity between those two), and a beautiful, aching love. I cannot wait for all you Swoon Readers to read the new chapters and scenes. All I can say is Reagan + Luke + Pile of Leaves = Serious Heat. I hope you’ll love reading it as much as I loved writing it.
I had you all on my mind the entire time I was writing and I’ll be counting down the days until you can get your hands on a copy next fall!!!