Without Warning – Guest blog by K.G. MacGregor

Karin Kallmaker Craft of Writing, Sisters of the Pen

Los Angeles skyscapers, palm trees

This week it’s K.G. MacGregor’s turn to reflect on the woes of editing an earlier version of her work. Without Warning, the first of the Shaken series, is already sitting pretty at the top of lesbian fiction and lesbian romance best seller lists–she must be doing something right! – Karin

I’m delighted that Karin has asked me to blog here on her new (and so very user-friendly) site. Alas, I will not be sharing a recipe. If you knew what passed for cooking at my house, you’d be grateful for that. I do not cook. I prepare food for sustenance. It is usually edible, sometimes tasty, rarely savory and never remembered (after the first several hours).

Actually, we had already agreed on a blogging topic: Self-Flagellation and the Updated Edition. As you probably know, Karin posted last week over at my house. She likened her exercise in re-editing Christabel to a “humility lesson.” But as I read her comments, I couldn’t help but be jealous that clichés, conjunctions and sentence fragments were her most egregious sins.

I’ve recently undertaken the task of revising my first published book, Shaken. The story had four—count ’em, four—distinct story arcs. Michener’s got nothing on me. After a conversation with publisher Linda Hill, I set out last summer to tear it apart, hone the characterizations and expand it into three books. The first, Without Warning, was released in January.

If my work is someday displayed in a writer’s museum, the Shaken years will likely be called my “Democratic Period.” I was determined that every single character in my book deserved to have a voice—even the dog. My new editor at Bella said no. She said no to lots of other things too, and by the time the book was finished, barely a line was left untouched.

It was, as Karin said, a humbling exercise to revisit that early work. I’m very glad I had the chance for another go, as I’ve always felt Shaken was my signature story, but I don’t plan to make a habit of it. Writing is a lot more fun than rewriting.

Thanks very much to Karin for sharing her space and to you for reading all the way to the end. Peace & chocolate. — K.G.

Copyrighted material.

Comments 5

  1. I found that revising an older work is like pulling on a thread — change one element, like references to technology, and everything else can unravel. Or something as simple as a description of an interior. If the original features a modern kitchen complete with harvest gold and avocado appliances, and the update changes that to white and stainless steel, what other descriptions throughout the book will abruptly look old-fashioned? Ultimately, it’s not a task to be taken on lightly. Famous last words “0h sure, that won’t take me long…”

  2. Not every book deserves the effort and investment required to produce an update or revised edition. Like your goal for <>Christabel<>, mine for <>Without Warning<> is to reach an audience that may have missed the story during its limited print run. I hope those who have read <>Shaken<> find the new series both “more and better.”

  3. In response to the comment by Carmen, I think there are plenty of venues where readers review books. I really appreciate getting the ‘inside story’ of what happens when a book is updated. A lot of lesbian authors got/get their start on the internet, without editors and other experts to help them hone their craft. I appreciate not only having an updated version of a book I loved, but also hearing that the author didn’t just slap a new cover on the book and call it good – that time, effort, blood, sweat… you get the picture… that we’re getting something which has evolved into a new flavor. Kudos to both Karin & KG for sharing their process with us and gracing us with wonderful new versions of their work!

  4. One of the reasons to do a new edition is to bring an older book up-to-date and offer it again to a new generation of readers. It was originally published under my Laura Adams pen name and a lot of my readers missed it. Though it has gothic and supernatural elements, I think the central romance is as strong and moving as any I’ve written. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Yes. It must be painful. Otherwise you wouldn’t be complaining and talking about it and letting us know the suffering but … what about us? The Readers. Remember? Where do we stand? What do we think of it? Are we glad with the changes? Some of us have followed your early writings. That first book. The one called ‘Shaken’ that shook us a bit also. Mmmmm … It is a difficult situation, you know?Regarding ‘Christabel’, sorry but I missed the First Edition.All the best as always,Carmen

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