Confessions of an Editor: Katie S. Williams

Why I Really Do What I Do (and Why It Matters to You)

Let’s try a little experiment. What comes to mind when I say, “It’s time to edit your story”?

For many writers, the notion of editing conjures an unwelcome memory of brutal critique or derision—a time you offered your story to a peer or mentor only to be shot down.

Maybe for you, it was a stern English teacher in grade school who filled your papers with inky red hieroglyphics. Or perhaps that college critique group who ripped your idea to shreds and laughed about it—right in front of you. Maybe you’re visualizing the relative who scorned your dream of becoming a writer and told you to find “real” aspirations instead.

Or perhaps—if you’re lucky—you don’t have any specific negative memories of critique; there’s just a general tightening in your midsection at the thought of sending your story child off to a total stranger who probably collects red pens and blogs about comma abuse.

Whatever the source of your apprehension, I get it. Writing stories—even fictional ones—is a deeply personal endeavor, and there’s something terrifying about revealing your creation to another human being, especially when that human’s job (and possibly joy in life) seems to be identifying all of your flaws and weaknesses.

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Author Interview: Candice Yamnitz

Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author Candice Yamnitz talking about her debut novel, UNBETHROTHED, publishing journey, writing dreams, and so much more! It’s always a joy to interview new authors, and I’m excited to have Candice here with us today.

SP: UNBETROTHED will come out in February 2022 by Illuminate YA. Please add on Goodreads while waiting! Here’s the blurb:

Around Agatha Sea, princesses are poised, magically gifted, and betrothed.

So, when seventeen-year-old Princess Beatriz still fails to secure a betrothal, her parents hold a ball. Forming an alliance could mean the difference between peace and war, but Beatriz doesn’t want just any suitor. She’s in love with her best friend, Prince Lux. Marrying Prince Lux will always be a silly dream as long as she has no magical gift.

Princess Beatriz will do whatever it takes to obtain a touch of magic, including making a deadly oath to go on a quest to Valle de Los Fantasmas. A valley where no one comes out alive.

If she can manage to succeed, Princess Beatriz could have everything she desires and secure peace for her kingdom. If she fails, she’ll lose not only her greatest dream but also her kingdom, and maybe even her own life.

SP: How long did it take you to write UNBETHROTHED and how did this story come about? Where do you get your ideas?

Candice: I wrote the first chapters of UNBETROTHED in January 2018 after taking a 3-month break from writing. I had been discouraged about my writing. During that break, I had a character developing in my mind. She was someone so caught up in finding her value that she didn’t think of anyone else. I took another long break after typing out the first seven chapters until I buckled down in July 2018. This is where the magic happened. I squeezed in writing during every lull in my day and stayed up late enjoying the twists and turns. When August strolled around, UNBETROTHED was done. In my mind, it just needed another run-through. In reality, it took about 12 complete editing passes before I signed with my agent. Then, it took another 3 run-throughs before I signed my first book contract. After another 3 passes with my publisher, we have the UNBETROTHED being published today.

SP: Can you tell us more about the beautiful setting and Latina-inspired places or characters like the Valle de los Fantasmas? How did that come about?

Growing up, we’d visit family in Mexico and Puerto Rico. When I was a young adult, those visits became more frequent. We’d tour the Puerto Rican countryside. In Mexico, we visited Huasteca where I got to climb waterfalls and jump from the tops of them. Some of Beatriz’s adventures come from those experiences. Valle de los Fantasmas is an actual place in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but it’s not so tropical. You’d have to travel a couple hours East to get to the more lush lands over the mountains. I wanted my reader to enjoy those experiences that I had devoured as a young adult.

SP: What part of the writing process do you enjoy most? Which is the hardest?

Candice: I enjoyed writing the first draft of UNBETROTHED most. I can’t say that about every first draft. There was something fun about coming up with Beatriz’s blunders. The hardest part of this book were the edits. The first few chapters went through about 30 editing passes or more. Though the heart of the first chapters haven’t changed, everything else adjusted to better thrust the story forward. I’ve written about three other manuscripts since UNBETROTHED and some of them had more challenging first drafts and easier edits.

SP: How did you come up with the magic system in your book? What’s your favorite magic power from the story and how would you use it?

Candice: I love the idea of everyone receiving a magical gifting, and it seemed different than a lot of the stories I was reading. I wanted everyone’s magical ability to be somewhat unique like the people who wielded them. I soon realized; superpowers needed to be more tangible in stories so I made each gift come with a special marking on their bodies. My favorite magical ability is only an inaudible whisper in UNBETROTHED. I love portal making and delve more into the gift in a novella I am editing, UNBOUND. I’m reading through UNBOUND in my podcast. Check it out here:

SP: Any writing tip you’d like to share?

Candice: There are so many. 1.) Learn how you best cope with criticism (You need others speaking into your story without you becoming discouraged). 2.) Have fun; it comes across in your writing. 3.) Be an always learner; your writing will suffer if you aren’t constantly learning the craft. 4.) Find a time to write and stick with it. Practice makes better.

A few fun questions. Is Candice a…

Plotter/pantster? I’m a plantser. I write a synopsis and character sketches first.

Last book you read? Realms of Light by Sandra Fernadez Rhoads

Current dream vacation spot? I’m not sure. I’d love to go visit family in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Current favorite K-Drama? I haven’t seen a K-Drama episode in a decade. I have some old telenovelas I love to rewatch.

Would you rather be a professional: Marine Biologist? Spy? Opera Singer? Brain Surgeon? OR? None of the above.

Favorite childhood book? I didn’t like reading as a kid. If childhood includes my senior year of high school, Lord of the Rings would be my favorite.

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How to Write Powerful Protagonists

What do you want? No, really…what do you want? If you’re like me, sometimes that’s not the easiest question to answer. I have lots of wants vying for my attention. They barge into the forefront of my mind as soon as I wake up, each of them screaming, “me first, me first!” Like a classroom full of unruly kindergartners, I try to get them to sit down and be quiet. Then, with each of their hands raised in the air, I call on them one at a time. That’s on a good day. On bad days, I get overrun and just want to hide in my bed until they all go away. Each of us struggle with life’s legion demands and desires.I think this is why I like hurricanes.

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Author Interview: Gillian Bronte Adams

SP: Hi Gillian! We’re so excited to have you back on the Spinning Pen! Tell us about your latest book, Of Fire and Ash, coming out on December 7th with Enclave Publishing. Readers are likening your book to The Scorpio Races—and we couldn’t be more excited about it! How did this idea come to you?

GBA: I love The Scorpio Races, so I’m thrilled that readers are making that connection! Of Fire and Ash is the first book in The Fireborn Epic which is set in a world filled with magical horses. Some can breathe fire, others can quake the earth with their hooves, and still others can vanish into shadow and move without a sound. The main female character, Ceridwen, is a firerider, which means she rides one of the firebreathing horses. Exiled by her father after a tragic accident claims the life of her brother, Ceridwen serves her nation as an Outrider, patrolling the wilds of the kingdom to protect her people from threats. But when she stumbles across news of a widescale invasion from the empire across the sea, she has to carry the tidings home to her father in defiance of her exile, which sets the whole story in motion!

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Cover Reveal for Activated

Jo Rivers is back!

Thrilled to show you the cover for ACTIVATED, book 3 in the Calculated series!

The preorder is now LIVE and there is a signed paperback giveaway for Calculated & Simulated going on with Book of Matches Media and many bookstagrammers on Instagram with this hashtag: #activatedcoverreveal –go enter!

Activated releases March 24th, 2022 with @wisewolfbooks. Read the teaser below & see her page for preorder details. Her preorder campaign (is gorgeous!) but won’t be revealed for another week.

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Author Interview: Chelsea Bobulski

SP: Hi Chelsea! So glad to have you here on the Spinning Pen! You have an incredibly exciting four book deal with a unique release model that frankly, we have not seen done before in the mainstream YA publishing world. People are saying it’s like Netflix but with books! We’d love to hear more about how this exciting model works!

CB: Thank you SO MUCH for having me! I am so excited to be a part of this new model within traditional publishing that, honestly, indie authors have been excelling at for years, the reason being that they understand that readers love to binge their favorite books just as much as people love to binge their favorite shows—we don’t want to wait to find out what happens next to our favorite characters. So I was thrilled to be able to write this 4-book series over the course of 1 year with the intention of all of the books being rapid-released leading up to Christmas. The other thing I love about this series is that, while each book centers on a different couple, the couples are all connected in some way, and they are also all connected to the small (fictional) town of Christmas, Virginia, so that the story of Book 1’s couple, for example, isn’t over at “The End” of Book 1—you’ll still get to see how they’re doing in the background of the other books, and that’s true of all of the couples.

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Author Interview: Victoria McCombs

Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author Victoria McCombs talking about her new novel, OATHBOUND, publishing journey, writing tips, and so much more!

SP: Hi Victoria! I’m thrilled to have you on the SP for your newest book! You’ve penned so many wonderful books and this one feels like it’s going to be the crème de le crème! What brought you to this point in your writing journey? How has your writing progressed since your first published book?

It’s insane to think about where I started as a writer and where I am now. For my first books, I had the beginning of a story idea and I just started writing it. The end result was messy and shallow. For Oathbound, I covered the walls in character charts, outlines, a map, and themes for the book before starting. Now it’s a story that I’m really proud of. I owe it all to the writing community who shared writing tips. They pushed me to grow in my craft and study it instead of casually throw words together.

SP: OATHBOUND will released on February 8, 2022 by Enclave, it’s the first book in the Royal Rose Series. Please add on Goodreads or go ahead and PreOrder, I did! Here’s the blurb:

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Author Interview: Laura Juntunen

Pen Friends ~ Please welcome YA Author and Podcast Host Laura Juntunen talking about her new post-apocalyptic, sci-fi series, THE SHOCKWAVE; publishing journey; fabulous podcast, Read It With Whiskey; and so much more! I’m so excited to introduce you to Laura!

SP: Hi Laura! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey?

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Social Media and Writing

Do you have social media? What’s your favorite platform? Instagram? Twitter? Facebook? TikTok? Snapchat? Other? How do you balance your time between social media and writing time? Is it possible to do both well?  I think the answer is yes.

For this article, I’m going to focus on Instagram or my Bookstagram, as I call my account. This means it’s an Instagram that focuses on books. It is one of the highlights of my day meeting other readers, writers, and authors. The people on Instagram remind me that I’m not the only one that struggles with mental health or is in the query trenches. It’s a great way to make connections. Instagram is a lot of fun, but it can take a lot of time.

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An Illustrator’s View of Story

As someone who was reading books entirely too old for me at an age when most of my peers were still thumbing through chapter books, I’ve always loved when I flipped a page to see a map, illustrated chapter head, or even a full illustration hidden in pages of text. As an artist and life-long book geek, imagery in stories has remained important to me as I grew up. I think that’s why, when I got to a point where most of the books I was reading no longer boasted any art past the cover, I found myself going back to world or city maps placed at the front of fantasy books over and over.  

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