Thursday, February 7, 2013

So for today...

I'm going to talk about one of the things, we as Authors, fear the most...

That dreaded, internal Editor!

The other day, I came home from the "day job" and found, much to my surprise a "Pitch Contest" going over on Word Wranglers.  Now, for those of you that don't know, this is one of those rare occassions where us Authors get a chance to catch the attention of an aquiring editor...but with only three lines!

In this case, a wonderful lady by the name of Piper Denna (Twitter: @PiperDenna - - Facebook: PiperDenna), the Executive Editor for Lyrical Press ( was taking pitches for completed works.

This was mine:

Hello Piper,

Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Title: Prophecy of Love
by Margaret Taylor
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 125,000

Marla Cortside, is a Paganite living in Atlanta, GA, 37 years after The Great Awakening. She has devoted her life to the fight between good and evil, vowing to keep the balance equal in all things.

That is, until she meets sexy Atlanta Police Detective Austin Tygris and his twin Brother Max. The brothers are part of a long standing Prophecy to the Paganites. According to a legend passed down for nearly 2,000 years, one of the Twins is good and one is evil and it will be up to Marla and her love for both men to decide who lives and who dies.

And her reaction:

Hi Adian,

This sounds really good. However, Lyrical Press only publishes books up to 100k in length. Confident as I am at being able to trim 6 or 8,000 words, I'm not sure I could do 25k, which would basically be 1/5 of your book. If you have a plan for doing so, you're welcome to send me a partial and synopsis. If you can't, sorry!

So, after a *let's bang the head on the desk blonde moment* I went and checked the MS and found...*gasp, shock, horror* the completed work is actually 97k, not the 125k I wrote above.

Now, in my defense, I'd pulled the three lines for the pitch from a cover letter I'd written way back when.  I wrote it before the book was finished and/edited - more because it was already written and sounds really good - and didn't bother to open the bloody thing and get an accurate word count!

**Word to the wise:  When pitching...LOOK!  Check your word count ladies and gents because let me tell ya, I felt like a heel for sure!  Or an idiot, whatever you want to call it.**

Anyway, after an apology and a correction to the word count, Ms. Piper said, "Sure, send it on!"

So, now, after a little jump from the chair and a happy snoopy dance around the room, I sat back down, cleaned up five chapters and wrote a synopsis. 

THIS, is not as easy as it sounds either!

As an Author, one of the things we fear - or hate, depending - is trying to condense 97,000 words down to a few pages!  It's's's tedious...and, well...

I got it done, so that's all the matters.  I composed the email, with the synopsis *shudders* and the chapters as requested and off it went.

Bare in mind, it was only a request for a partial.  In our business, this generally means the editor is intrigued, maybe a bit more and wants to see my style, my ability, my voice.  If she's interested further, then yes, I might get a request for the whole thing.

That's my hope, though I'm sure against the other wonderful pitches presented, mine is rather boring.  But, I'm gonna try and stay positive over here!  Not something easily done though.  As my sister said, as writers, we are our own worst critics!

Anyway, for a couple of hours after that, I worked feverishly on it, cleaning up the little things where I can and just giving it a run through.  It's pretty clean though but I'll be honest, the last time I'd looked at it was sometime in 2012.  So, after playing around with the first five, I dove back into it, self-editor hat in place, and went to work!

Four hours later, I look up and realize it's almost bed time for Bonzo!  I made a note of where I stopped and shut it down. 

However, I found myself editing and editing and cutting and chopping and...well, you get the idea!  Considering I hadn't looked at the thing in a while, I thought I did pretty good with it.  I even had several of those moments where I said to myself, "Hey, you know what, I'm not so bad at this writing thing!"

Now, fast forward to today.  No word yet from Ms. Piper, but not that I expected any.  She did send a response email saying she'd gotten it and it was in her Que to be read.  YAY ME!  I'm still a bundle of nerves though.

I'm trying, really trying not to be and to that end, I pulled up something new today to work on after I got home.  It's the second book in a series - yes, I know, I write a LOT of them so there - but I truly can not help myself.  I tend to introduce characters in one book and find I want to tell their story too!

Anyway, this series is my take on the Mythos of good old St. Nick.  Yes, I said it, I believe in Santa Claus!  Sue me!  I've already written Book 1, lovingly entitled, I Saw Momma Shoot Santa ClausAnd yes, it's a paranormal/comedy/romance that takes place in present time.

In Book 1 you meet Slade McKinney, ex-Chicago PD, turned Children's Author.  She lives in Wyoming with her son Jesse.  She doesn't remotely believe in Santa Claus but lets her ailing son have Christmas.  Jesse has been through Lukiemia, nearly died and is firmly grounded in reality.  However, once a year, she allows him to have the fantasy.

What she doesn't know, is the fantasy is real.  Very real and it's called The Legacy.

I won't go into the details, you'll have to buy the book for that - when it comes out - but needless to say you meet the four brothers who perpetuate the myth one month out of the year, Chris, Lucas, Farrell and Keegan.  I decided, after I'd met them myself, to turn this into four books instead of just one.  I wanted my readers to meet the brothers too!

So, tonight, I pulled out Book 2, which is Keegan's story.  I started pounding away, clickey clack and got to a point where I needed info from book 1.  I pulled that up...and low and behold, here comes the editor again.  I realized, as I scanned the pages looking for the tidbit I needed, that, wait, no, that could be trimmed...I can cut that out...wait, wait, she would snort, not laugh here...


An hour later, still not finding what I want, I gave up on it and found I'd had another blond moment - two in two days is a record for me, thank you very much - and pulled up the background sheet I'd written instead.  Thankfully, that gave me what I needed and I was able to get back to Book 2.

My point is though, we, as Authors, do this sort of thing all the time!  We get going on one thing, something interrupts and we go off on another.  It's a curse I tell you, a curse!  And a blessing, if you must know.

It's so easy to forget that.  It's so easy for us to get wrapped up in our current Work-In-Progress that we lose sight of things that have come before.  We forget the struggles we've had, the progress we've made, the long, long hours of editing and cutting and cropping to make things fit just so.  Until...we're reminded of it by something like this!

Anyway, so now my weekend is going to be full!  Keegan is yelling the loudest at the moment, so I fully intend to keep going with him.  But, to give you a tidbit of it, here's the opening chapter.

I hope you enjoy it...


Chapter One

“You know this is against protocol…”
Keegan St. Nick smiled tightly.  “I know.”  He hefted the large red sack across his shoulder and winked.  “But, I also know you won’t tell on me.”
Germaine the Reindeer narrowed his eyes and pawed a hoof through the twigs and leaves on the ground.  “Are you so sure about that?”
He walked forward, settling the bag more comfortably as he went.  “Of course I am.”  He patted the animal’s haunches.  “You never do.”
Germaine snorted a second time, jiggling the bells of his harness with annoyance.  “Well, we’ll see about that…”
Despite himself, Keegan chuckled.  It was the same argument they had every year.  He shook his head, dug a carrot from his pocket and held it out for his long time friend on the palm of his hand.  It was hot here, in Venezuela and he’d long since shucked off the gloves he normally wore.  He couldn’t do anything about the suit, but it was light and airy having been tailored for his section of the world. 
Germaine harrumphed, but took the carrot and munched on it.  “If you think,” he said around it.  “A measly carrot will appease me Mister…”
He shrugged and gave the animal a scratch under the harness on its face.
Germaine sighed happily.  “Ok, well, a carrot and a scratch…might…”
He moved off toward the small, ramshackle village in the distance.  It wasn’t much too look at.  A few pieced together huts in all reality, but he didn’t see that.  Instead, he saw the glow of belief that surrounded it.  It was a bright yellow, like the Sun and he smiled despite his weariness.
The people in this region were poor, dirt poor, eeking out an existence any way they could.  Some planted food and sold it upriver; others, made things out of the surrounding fauna, selling their wares with the harvest.  And yet more, like the village ahead, had been forced into the service of the local drug cartels. 
He could smell the Coca plants in the distance, knew they’d be ripe for harvest soon.  If this was the off-season, he might be tempted to burn them to the ground.  But it wasn’t the off-season. 
It was Christmas Eve.
He wasn’t here tonight as the former Marine Special Forces, now owner of Garlan Security.  He wasn’t here to put a stop to drug traffickers. 
He was here to deliver toys to all the Good Little Girls and Boys.
He was here…as Pai Natal. 

Ten minutes later, he’d made the round of the village.  Each small, square hut had received a bright, shiny stocking for every occupant.  Heading for the food stores at the end of a mud covered path, a sound stopped him dead in his tracks.
A weak rattle of chain was followed by a pain filled voice.  “He-help, me…”
He turned tilting his head toward the shadowed figure of…well he couldn’t really tell what it was.
The chain rattled softly again as a hand lifted, fingers curling weakly in his direction.  “Pa-Pa-please, he-help, me.”
He knew the types of things the cartels did; knew all too well the sorts of punishments that could be meted out.  But when he took two steps toward the shadow, even he was surprised.
In his life, he’d seen his share of nastiness.  He’d been in Iraq during the first occupation, had been to Guatemala, Panama, Afghanistan, just about every hell-hole this planet could offer.  He’d seen and heard about his share of tortures. 
But this?  This was beyond madness…
The bag dropped from his fingers and he knelt in the mud.  On the ground, staked spread-eagle, was a woman.  Her naked chest heaved into the air, struggling to draw breath under the thick, heavy block of wood that rested on it.  It too had been staked to the ground, resisting her every breath.  She was covered, from head to toe, with bleeding welts.  Her lips were split, the blood spilling down her chin and he could just make out the wealth of blisters that covered every inch of her.
She’d been here two, maybe three days and was suffering from deep sunburn, dehydration and goodness knew what else.  He couldn’t tell much more about her, until she spoke again, her voice choked with tears and pain.
“Pl-please, he-help, me…”
Spurred into action, he jerked the stakes from the ground, anger rippling off him in waves.  Tossing the block of wood aside, he looked at her chained wrists and ankles.  He didn’t have the key.  He didn’t care.  Using some of his own personal magic, he popped the locks.  The shackles fell away with a slurping sound that turned his stomach.
He touched her forehead, nearly jerking back from the heat of her fever.  “I’m sorry, this is going to hurt…”
As gently as he could, he wormed an arm under her shoulders and one under her legs.  To her credit, she only let out a small whimper when he curled her into his arms.  Whomever she was, whatever she’d done, she didn’t deserve this.  No one did.
He scooped up his bag again then stood, heading back for the sleigh.  He’d drop her off in San Fernando, leave her in the care of the local doctors and be home before breakfast. 
“What the hell is that?” Germaine said as he approached.
He frowned.  “Language.”
The Reindeer snorted, pawing at the ground.  “Fine, but what is it?”
“It, is a woman.  A badly injured woman.”  He eased up onto the front seat, keeping her tucked into the protective circle of his arms when he sat.  “Now go already.”
San Fernando…”
With a jingle, Germaine took two running leaps and bounded into the air, dragging the rest of the team along.  Normally he would have called out his customary goodbye, but tonight, it just wasn’t going to happen.  Not after this.  Instead, he kept his eye focused on the girl, watching each jerking lift of her chest. 
When they were high above the jungle, he carefully reached out and touched the rail in front of him.  A soft glow pulsed to life and he got his second surprise of the evening. 
The girl’s bright red hair, dirty though it was, all but glowed in the light.  Her head lolled across his forearm and the glow illuminated a decidedly American face.  She was not a native, not by any stretch of the imagination if the white pallor of the skin under the blood and dirt was an indication.
She let out a jerking sigh, voice barely audible above the rush of wind around them.  “I-I kne, knew you’d, come…I knew, you’d save me Pai Natal…”
He gulped.  No wonder she’d called out to him back in the village.  She’d been able to see him.  But who was she and why was she staked to the ground being tortured?  More over, how had she been able to see him? 
Was she a Finnagin? 
He narrowed his good eye and gave her a long once over.  She didn’t show the classic signs of that blood line, but one could never tell.  Just look at Lillian Bryne.  At first glance, they’d all taken her story of heritage at face value.  It wasn’t until she tried to kill Slade McKinney, his brother’s wife, that they found out she was in anyway related to the Curse.
No, it was better to be safe than sorry.  “Change of plans,” he called out to the team.  “Take us home.”

“Not again…” 
Officer Kent bent his head, pinching the bridge of his nose.  He opened his mouth, to call for the doctor, but Keegan beat him too it.
The bellow echoed across the silence of the early morning.  Lights flickered to life in the nearby homes.  Street lights pulsed a bit brighter.  The front doors to the three story clinic pushed outwards and three paramedics descended the stairs.  As they had two years ago, they rushed toward the sleigh, but he met them halfway.
They took one look at him, one look at the woman he held and jerked into action.  “Careful, careful,” he ordered.  “She’s badly wounded.”
“We can see that Sir,” the one carrying the bag commented dryly.  He nodded toward the stretcher the other two held.  “Now, let us work.”
Setting her on the fabric, he was leaning back to give them room, when she curled a hand into his coat.  She whimpered, almost child-like and his heart nearly broke in two…

He wasn’t one for, well for much of anything really.  Eleven months of the year, he worked like a dog to keep the world safe.  Ok, maybe not the world, but his clients at least.  And the other month, he returned here to Polen, returned to the Legacy of his blood-line.  And he was happy to do it.  He may not show it, all the time, but he did enjoy perpetuating the myth of Santa Claus.
Until tonight…
He paced across the waiting room outside of the surgical area, glancing now and again at the double doors.  Hadn’t they just done this two years ago?  He sighed and scrubbed a hand across the back of his neck.
“Are you alright?”
Great!  Mom.  He turned toward the older woman, smiling.  “I’m fine mother.  I was not injured.”
The Matriarch of the St. Nick’s frowned, deeply, narrowing crystal clear blue-green eyes up at him.  She tapped a foot on the linoleum and crossed her arms over her chest.  “Then what in the world is going on?  The village is a buzz…”
He took her hand, led her over to one of the chairs, sat and related the events of the evening in short, clipped sentences.  “So, after her confession, I brought her here.”
Miriam St. Nick sighed softly and shook her head.  “You realize you’ll have to answer to the Council for breaking protocol.”
He leaned forward, elbows on his knees and fisted his hands under his chin.  “I know.”  He looked toward the doors again.  “But if I saved that woman’s life, it was worth it.”
“Do you know who she is?”
He shook his head.  “She was quite naked when I found her, so no identification.  But I can guess…”
Miriam’s hand touched his back.  “Go on Keegan.”
He let the air out of his lungs in a rush and closed his eyes against the memory of her condition.  “She’s American mother.  I can guess, or assume, she’s probably the daughter of some diplomat or businessman.”  He opened his eyes again, staring at the wall across from where they sat.  “Most likely scenario is that she was kidnapped, then for whatever reason sold to the Cartels.”
The hand on his back clenched a bit.  “Does that mean what I think it means?”
“Yeah.”  He couldn’t say more, the words choked against the lump in his throat.  His mother, Gods bless her, gave him a moment before asking anything else.
“What do you plan to do about it?”
He turned enough to see her with his good eye, smiling tightly.  “Right now?  Or after January 6th?”
He looked away.  His mother was a gentle soul, not used to the outside world as she remained in Polen most of the year.  She didn’t know what really went on.  Well, she probably did, they had satellite after all, but she didn’t talk about it.  And that was fine with him.  He liked to think his mother was not touched by the depravities of this world.  She was just too good of a person.
“Right now,” he answered.  “I’m just going to sit here.  Once we hear from the doctor, then I’ll decide that issue.  After January 6th, come hell or high water, I will kill them all…”
“Keegan McLaughlin St. Nick, you will do no such thing!” 
He chuckled dryly, turning again to pin her with his good eye.  “You did not see her mother,” he ground out.  “No one deserves what they did to her.  No one.  Now, let it be.”
Miriam took in a long breath and let it out slowly, leaning over to stare him right in the eye.  “Keegan, my boy,” she said, ruffling his long hair.  “You have a good heart.  You intentions are pure, but you know I can not let you commit violence like this.”
He pressed his lips into a thin line.  “And you know Mother, it’s what I do.  Now, let it be.  We’ll deal with it when the time comes.  For now, let’s just worry about whether she lives or dies.”
“Was it that bad?”
He gulped, hard.  “It was worse…”
“Oh my god!  Keegan!  Are you alright?”
He looked up at the speaker and nodded.  “I’m fine Slade, but thank you for asking.”
Slade St. Nick strode across the waiting area, golden brown eyes blazing intently with worry.  “Then what in the hell is going on?”  Miriam shot her a look for the language and his sister-in-law cringed.  “Sorry mother,” she said carefully.  She turned to him again.  “Arlen told me you came back early, with a woman?”
He nodded.  Quickly, as with his mother, he related the events to his sister-in-law.  The cop in her took over.  She pulled a pad out of her back pocket, flipped it open and took notes as he spoke. 
“No idea who she is?” she asked first, pen poised for his answer.
“No.  I can guess though…”  He related the same speculations to her and she scribbled away.  Since marrying his brother, Chris, she’d taken it upon herself to be the new sheriff in town; at least from December 1st to January 6th.  Like the rest of them, she left the day after Twelfth Night and returned south.  There, she’d taken over as head of security for Chris’ toy business, Ni-King Toys.  “I would start with neighboring areas.  She hadn’t been in their hands for long…”
“Long enough though?”
He lifted his good eye to her, letting her see exactly what he thought.  She was a former Chicago Police Detective and caught the meaning in his glance.  She nodded once, a crisp jerk of her head.
“Can you tell me what she looks like?”
“Tall, around 5’9”, about 175 with red hair,” he said slowly.  “I couldn’t see her eyes though, it was too dark, nor could I see any visible marks because of…”  He paused to suck in a hard breath.
“Yeah, got that.”  She turned toward the double doors.  “Any word yet?”
“No.”  He glanced at the clock.  It was pushing 10am and they’d been in there for a good 6 hours already.  Which could be good…
He refused to think it was bad. 
She snapped the notebook closed, tucking it away.  “Let me know when she’s awake.  Otherwise I’ll get started trying to track down her family.  If she was kidnapped, there might be something on the local wires or from the US Embassy.  I’ll check with Farrell too, see if Homeland Security has anything.”
He smiled up at her.  “Thanks.  Check with Johnson too.  See if Garlan has been contacted for help with the ransom.  If not, tell him I said to put his ear to the ground.” 
It was a long shot but sometimes long shots paid off.  His company wasn’t one of the premiere security firms in the world, he knew that, but he had made a name for himself as being discrete and trustworthy.  If they came up empty handed everywhere else, maybe her parents were trying to keep her disappearance low-key and handle it themselves.  If that was the case, they might go looking for a private firm – such as his – to take care of the problem.  And if not his, then Johnson could make some quiet inquiries with the other firms they knew and sometimes worked with.
“Check,” she said official like.  “Anything else?”
“Yeah, I really, really, could use an ice cold beer…”
Sadly, it wasn’t forthcoming.  That was ok, he’d drink it later. 
Slade left, muttering to herself and he smiled softly as he heard her making a list of things to do next.  Yeah, she was definitely part of the family now.  But that was ok too.  Despite their first meeting, in the year since she’d married Chris, he found he actually liked her.
They were almost cut from the same cloth.  Almost.  She, former Chicago PD, and he a former Marine Special Forces turned private security.  The major difference between them, he didn’t feel the moral compunction to adhere to the strictest letter of the law, at least not anymore.  Not that he felt he was completely above it, but he recognized there were times – like now – where his unique brand of thinking, of justice, would come in handy.
He tabled that line of thinking when the doors to the surgery area swung open.  Once again, a very tired looking Dr. Saradhi strode across the waiting room, brown eyes narrowed.  “You know,” he said, waving his sweat soaked surgical cap.  “You St. Nick boys are really going to have stop ruining Christmas for me and mine!”


So, that's it.  My internal editor is in full force but so is the writer.  Finding the balance though is the key.

So, until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Margaret Taylor


  1. Funny! You have the same blog as we do at Wordwranglers!
    I saw that wasn't boring at all! Piper's a sweetie, and really great to have on!
    Good luck, and if you sell, we'd love to have you come back to WW and talk about it.

  2. Thanks for stopping by D'Ann and for the comment. I did notice the backgrounds were the same when I was over there...*laughs* Cringed a bit too. But, it's a generic template, so I'm not surprised. I can change it if you like...:D

    And yes, Ms. Piper sounds like a wonderful lady! I just hope she likes the book. If it sells *crosses fingers and such* then I would be happy to come back to WW and talk about it!

  3. I have the hardest time shutting off the new ideas to finish another story. I was laying in bed this morning after the 5 am call for no school. Three different story starts were going in my head. It's the same when I'm driving somewhere. I'm considering asking my DH for a voice recorder so I can plan while I drive!

  4. I drive for work, at least four or five days a month and cover a very large geographic area of about 150-200 miles a trip. I feel your pain. If I don't put in an audio book of some sort and just have the Sirius going, I'm writing something in my head.

    I did two things for this year to alleviate it: 1 - I got tablet that I take with. It has a very limited word prog on it but it's enough to suit my purposes. When I stop, during the road days, I pull it out, jot down the idea/ideas that ran through my head and it seems to help. 2 - I got a small tape recorder. The drawback here is I hate the sound of my voice on tape. I sound like a little kid, about 14 or so, so I don't use it that often. Only if I worry I'm gonna loose the idea before I stop again.

    The tablet though seems to be doing the trick. Just yesterday, while I was out and about, I did the tablet thing between stops and wow, did I get some stuff down. When I got home it's what spurred me to start Book 2!

  5. Yer sis here. Yup, after our convo a few minutes ago, I had NO alternative but to pop out here and READ what you'd posted. (as I said, I glanced at it yesterday, but didn't have the time to spare to read). I have to say that I can 'see' Keegan in my minds eye, but then I know your penchant for the hotties! ;) I will follow this with ultimate interest, as always!

    And as for that other topic we spoke of, it is YOUR fault because B is making a distinct appearance in a new Caitlan (without the claws) story line. :) Dag nabbit vampires!

    As always, with love, keep up the good work sis!


  6. *innocent eyes*

    It is NOT my fault! I do not assume *any* responsiblity whatsoever for simply *suggesting* you write something with B in it! Nope, nada, zilch, zip! *evil grin*

    But, I'm glad you can see Keegan. And yes, hims a hottie, MY hottie thank you very much. No, wait, Morgan's hottie...*looks at the fiery red headed heroine of book 2* Sorry sweetie.

    I'll be sure to send you Book 1 sometime Sis. Let me know when you've got time for a preview...*laughs maniacally!*

  7. Time? What is this 'time' entity you speak of? One has only to send me said 'book 1' and this 'time' phenomenon will miraculously appear on my bedside table! ;)