Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Middle Grade Book Release By Amanda Harms and Editor Interview

Hello all,

A brand new author and friend of mine, Amanda Harms has just released her first novel. It is a middle grade fantasy novel (think Alice in Wonderland). It's super cute and fun. We also share the editor. So check out her interview with Ev Bishop below.


Hello Ev! Let's talk about BEWILDERED and your job as an editor. Shall we begin?

Us: So, first, can you tell us how long you've been an editor and why you chose to become one?
Ev: I don’t know if I chose editing, or if editing chose me. I’ve always been an avid, involved reader—one who enjoys identifying what I love about a specific story, but also what changes could make it even better.

At first this was just helpful in regards to my own writing, but then I met a writer who had a really great story that had been rejected eighty times.

The author had a fantastic premise and excellent mastery of the craft of writing, and we were both stumped by her failure to find a publisher.  Plus, every rejection was the worst type:  kind, and complimentary, thus completely baffling. (Why would editors and publishers say such nice things, and then decline the story?) Finally, she received a rejection that offered a clue. It said, basically, that the main character’s personality and issues, thus growth and change, weren’t strong enough.

The author asked if I’d read the novel and see if I could figure out what the comment meant, and what, if anything, could be done about it. Well, something can always be done to fix small issues when the bones of a story are great, and I was flattered to be asked for my opinion. I read the novel and loved it—but definitely saw ways to strengthen the character and make her easier to identify with. To cut a long story short, the author did one more rewrite and the story sold. She has since gone to sell more than thirty other novels!

The author is very talented and has an amazing work ethic. Her book would’ve sold eventually, with or without my input, but at the same, I did help—and loved being able to. Working with her made me realize I might enjoy helping other writers as well. That was over ten years ago, and while I’m still that original author’s editor and number one fan, since then I’ve taken on many other clients, mostly through word of mouth. I still prefer to work closely, project by project, with a select few authors.

Us: What are the best and worst parts of the job?
Ev: The best parts? I love getting paid to read and give my opinions on stories. So fun! Most of all, however, I’m honored to be trusted with the sensitive job of helping writers in the final labor stages of their creation, to help them birth stories that will go out into the world and move, challenge, educate, entertain and inspire people.

The worst part? Sometimes a story needs a lot of work, and I’m always terrified that I will discourage a writer or hurt their feelings when I share my suggestions with them. My sole goal is to help writers make their work the best it can be, but criticism, even well intentioned, doesn’t always feel good. So far, I’ve been very fortunate, though. The authors I work with are devoted to honing their skills. They seem to realize that I care deeply about their stories, and understand that even my “tough love” is love. 

Us: What do you think it takes to be a good editor?
Ev: I think the best editors read widely, without snobbery, and are passionate about stories in all their many-splendored styles and genre. They are kind and supportive, and able to look past personal preferences to discern what objective additions, deletions, or corrections would enhance the story for the target reader.

That said, responses and critiques can’t help but be subjective to some degree, and editing styles can vary greatly.  When looking for an editor, it’s important to find a good fit. Your editor should “get” what you’re trying to say, have a style of commenting that makes you feel motivated and excited about prospective changes, and noticeably help strengthen your story. Someone who is an excellent editor for someone else might not be a good one for you.

Us: Let's talk about BEWILDERED for a bit. What was your first impression of the story and characters?
Ev: My first response was, literally, a shriek of delight, followed by a permanent grin that only left my face when various parts of the plot turned sad or suspenseful. The story reminded me of Alice in Wonderland meets Harry Potter.

Us: What character is your favorite? Why?
Ev: The whole cast caught my imagination, and I hope to meet them all again. Prudence is fantastic—smart and funny, but more than a touch morose and misunderstood. I totally related to her. My favorite, however, is actually someone we don’t meet until later in the novel—the Match King. He’s horrifying in some ways, but I was intrigued from the get-go by his mechanical creations, fascinated by the past that brought him to where he ended up, and hopeful that he’ll . . . Well, I’m just going to leave it at that.

Us: What about the action? What is your favorite part?
Ev: I don’t want to give too big a spoiler, but there’s a scene where Prudence finds herself imprisoned in a dungeon. . . . As an insect-phobe, I was both creeped out and totally excited by the way she escapes.

Us: BEWILDERED was initially intended to be a stand-alone novel, but now there's a book two in the works. What do you think about that?
Ev: I am totally stoked!

Us: What do you think readers are going to like most about BEWILDERED?
Ev: I think different things will appeal to different readers. Some will identify with lonely Prudence trying to find people to love her and a place she fits in. Others will be pulled in by the adventure. Everyone will love the zany magic and fun found in the creatures and places that make up Bewilderness.

Us: Lastly, what is your favorite mythological creature?
Ev: What a great question! I’ve always been partial to griffins. Something about being able to fly, while possessing the body and finesse of a big cat, fascinates me. I don’t think griffins should (or could!) be owned, but if one wanted to befriend me and take me on quests, I’d be in. ;)

A Bewilderness Tale, Book One

Prudence Parks is perfect. At twelve-years old, she has the world in her pocket. No messy friends. No silly games. Everything is just right—until her father leaves her an orphan.

When she tumbles into a bizarre realm known as Bewilderness, nothing is as it should be. Insects talk, pirate ships sail on sand, and plants are just plain evil. After she’s banished for claiming to be human, she thinks the

worst is behind her. She’s wrong. The Match King, posing as an ally, promises to send her home if she can find the Paper Heart, an ancient treasure. Battling her sense of logic all the while, she meets a living ragdoll and her father’s doppelganger, who melts her icy heart and—to her regret—gives the Match King perfect collateral to ensure she follows through.

Prudence realizes the Match King’s plan to erase Bewilderness from existence, but now she must choose: save the world she has come to love, or find her way home.

BEWILDERED is a middle grade fantasy novel geared toward children ages 9-12. It’s Alice in Wonderland meets Miracle on 34th Street. Set once upon a time in a land far, far away, this story illustrates the importance of friendship, courage, and proves believing isn't always seeing.

Purchase it online at your favorite retailer, or visit your local bookstore!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Smashwords | IndieBound | The Book Depository | Books-a-Million

About the author - 

A. B. Harms was born a writer. From a young age, she made her own picture books with crayons and a stapler. As a teenager, she won essay contests. Yet, when she began her career, being an author was the last thing she considered. Finally, after working every job imaginable from waitress to social worker and earning her degree in Psychology, she realized what she was always meant to do--write!

A. B. is from Missouri, has gone around the world and back again, and now lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family, a pet sloth, who resembles a Great Dane, and a black cat, who moonlights as an assassin. No matter where she hangs her hat, she finds herself at home down the rabbit hole.

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Ev Bishop said...

It was so fun to do this interview! Thanks, Amanda and Liz. p.s. Readers young and old will have huge fun with BEWILDERED. I hope it sells up a storm. It's a wonderful story . . .

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