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I thought you might want to listen in on a discussion I had with Deborah Anderson, editor at scheherazadetales.com. She contacted me to tell me they wished to publish 'Blood and Tears'. I don't know what she wanted to publish but I believe if you read on you'll see that it would have barely resembled the novel I authored. Please let me - and Deborah, if you'd like - know what you think.
Scheherazade Tales Romance E-Novels http://scheherazadetales.com
Subject: Re: Blood and Tears
I finally got the chance to read BLOOD AND TEARS and I just love it! I apologize for not being able to respond sooner. Is this story still available? If you would be interested in being published in ebook with Scheherazade Tales, we would love to add this to our offerings.
Please let me know if you are still interested. And thank you for the opportunity of considering your work. You're a very talented and imaginative writer and I enjoyed the story very much.
I will, of course, be doing some editing on the work. There are a couple of things that, while they are entertaining in the story itself, I felt were just a bit over-the-top. We'll discuss those in more detail when I have a firm commitment from you. But I need to know right away if you are willing to work with me on some edits. I do most of the editing myself - well, I'm an editor, after all. But any major changes will be discussed and mutually agreed upon, of course. I have to ask this question right off the bat because I've found from experience that a lot of writers are not amenable at all to having their work edited. And consequently those writers generally never get published. You've heard this before, I'm sure, but it also goes for ebook publishers as well as print -- an editor/publisher has a certain "vision" if you will about their offerings, and a repeat customer reputation to uphold. But I can promise you that I don't see anything really critically wrong with the manuscript, just a few things I'd like to change, but again, you'll always have the final say-so.
As for the edits, I think I am pretty easy going about that sort of thing. If you want to turn Tyler into a werewolf we may have a problem (LOL), but other than that..
Reply from Deborah,
Maybe we'd better discuss this just a bit. No, I have no intention of turning Tyler into a werewolf. But let me tell you two things about the story that DO bother me.
First, I feel that Tyler is just a little too.... what's the word.... scary, maybe?? I mean, he just doesn't come across as a good guy. I know he's supposed to be a vampire and by nature they are not sympathetic to their "victims"...... but after all he IS the hero as well, and I just thought that there were a few places where the violence and indifference might need to be played down a bit. What's wrong with having him a bit more sympathetic? Feeling a bit more like he's cursed because of his "condition". I think that readers will sympathize more with him if he's more of a dark hero, almost ashamed of what he is, yet unable to change it. Maybe that's not what you're going for at all, but it's my gut reaction.
And here's why.... the second thing wrong with the story is having the detective playing such a large role, having his own point of view, all that stuff. Because you start out with Tyler being mysterious yet bloodthirsty, and then you bring in the detective, complete with his own point of view and feelings and also feelings for the heroine, so that the reader is a bit confused about who the hero is going to be in this story. I honestly thought that the detective would turn out to be her love interest, having saved her from the clutches of the evil vampire. But no, right at the end, you push him out of the story and she stays with the vampire. Well, maybe some readers might go for that, but I honestly suspect that the majority of readers will feel as I did, that they were just a little bit "cheated", as it were, by being made to think that the detective was going to be playing a much larger role in the story than he eventually did.
And that's one thing I see writers doing that as an editor makes me cringe. Never, never introduce another character's point of view unless you have a really REALLY good reason for doing so. If he turned out to be the hero, then that's a really REALLY good reason for it, but he didn't, so all it does is confuse readers in the end. Am I making any sense???
So two things -- we need to "tone down" the violence, or at least make him a little bit remorseful of the evil wicked things he does to innocent people, or at least to have his own self-image shattered by the love of the heroine - think "Beauty and the Beast" here. Remember the first rule of romance: readers want to fall in love with the hero right along with the heroine. So your hero MUST be heroic in some way or other. Second thing is get rid of the detective's point of view completely, since he really doesn't have that big of a role in the story. He can still be there, still be interested and drawn to the heroine, and readers will still wonder if she'll pick him or Tyler, but having his point of view disrupts the balance and readers expect more from him than you actually deliver. I hope this is making a little sense.
So let me know your feelings on these things.
I took a little while to think about what you said about Tyler & Decker (the detective) so that I wouldn't be responding from pure emotion. After all, these people are my creations so I'm likely to be a little protective of them. So, from my heart and my head combined:
Yes, Tyler is scary. I've read enough sad, miserable, take-me-out-and-kill-me-because-I'm-such-an-evil-creature vampire 'romance' novels that I've nearly become ill. Why bother to write, or publish, one more in a long line of weak men fighting what fate has done to them? "Why me?" is not the cry of a strong, brave man. "I will survive!" is what women are dying to hear because a man like that will protect you with everything he has, as Tyler proved When the novel begins, Tyler is not a good guy, not a sympathetic man. If he were, what would his love for Marie have to change? Tyler was born an aristocrat in a time when the common man was for the use of the aristocrat. Therefore, he doesn't feel guilt for using them for his food any more than he would have felt guilty if one of his workers had been killed in the field. They are there to serve his needs.
As for Tyler being heroic, he dies for his love. I can't imagine anything more heroic than that. Yes, it takes a while for his heroism to appear because it doesn't exist until he falls in love with Marie. That would be the whole point of 'Blood and Tears'. Love changes that which doesn't even know it needs to change. Love heals when all else is lost, even life.
Decker's point of view is not essential to the total novel, though the character is necessary to Marie's transformation and to show Tyler's jealousy.
As a long time romance reader myself, I think editors may be underestimating their audience. Some of us are tired of the same old brooding hero. It's nice to find a man who is proud of himself, all of himself. Who takes whatever life throws at him in stride and makes the best of it. That's Tyler.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Well, now, you see? THAT'S what I was looking for in your story! You just told it to me right there, and yet I have to tell you that that isn't what comes across in the work itself. Maybe adding some of the thoughts that you expressed below will help. Sometimes writers get so caught up in their work, they can't see the trees for the forest.
And I'm glad you didn't answer out of pure emotion. My eyes would have burned in their sockets. LOL!! Trust me, it's not easy being an editor. It not only means giving the public a darn good story, but it means giving the public the BEST that an author has to give. And I just felt that, although I really really like your style and voice and think you're a very talented writer, still there was something missing.
You're right - he doesn't have to be angst-ridden to be interesting. But what's wrong with her challenging those long-held aristocratic beliefs even earlier in the story. Again, it's not just the "novelty" that readers are looking for - they could get that in any horror novel. This is romance, and they want to fall in love with the hero vicariously through the heroine. It's okay to have him proud of who/what he is, just not to be obnoxious about it.
In Chapter Four, when Tyler is hunting, he thinks:
'The way his prey treated each other had long ago destroyed any pity he might have had for them.'
'His predatory smile slipped to a snarl as he remembered times in the past when he had done just that, drunk the blood of purchased prey - an inconvenient child, or wife! - whose protector cared more for profit than the fate of those their honor should have dictated they protect. How worthless people had become within his lifetime, suitable only as meat upon which superior predators such as himself could gorge themselves!'
Tyler is angst ridden, not about what he has become - that he did to survive - but about what the world around him has become. In that way, he shows his humanity even as he feeds on human kind.
As for Decker's point of view, I think a strong, albeit dark, hero is enhanced by a strong rival. The only way to know Decker's strength is to get inside his head. By the time Decker comes into the story, Marie is already in love with Tyler, though still fighting it. She won't choose Decker because he is the safe choice and she proved by going to Romania in the first place that she doesn't want the 'safe' things in life. She wants the dangerous, the adventure. By this point she has already recognized that dangerous adventure in Tyler.
In Chapter Six, Marie challenges Tyler's superior attitude, only to be met by a temper that flips couches. To push him further before a relationship is established would make her look either stupid or masochistic, neither of which apply. As their relationship progresses, Marie certainly continues to challenge Tyler.
So, what do you think?
...If you'll recall, when I initially indicated that I would be interested in contracting for this work, I also went to some lengths to explain that the work did need some editing, and I specifically asked how amenable you would be to the idea of editing and possible changes. I think you'll agree that it's no use entering into an agreement if both parties cannot come to some mutual understanding. You indicated that you didn't have a problem with editing or changes. Then when I went into detail about some of the things I felt needed revising, you seemed to express strong disagreement with my comments. At that point I no longer felt that we would be able to achieve a mutually satisfactory writer/editor relationship.
I think you are a talented writer and I wish you the best of luck.
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