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What does hell look like?

Ladies and Gentlemen–I present to you, my version of Hell.

[caption id="attachment_1582" align="aligncenter" width="300"] If you click on this, I’m pretty sure a larger, easier to read version will pop up. Some of people named are referenced below.[/caption]

Finished? Okay, now I’ll explain.

I am one of the lucky ones. My first novel won me a contest which led to Deidre Knight offering me representation. Then–Holy Hannah!–what followed was every debut writer’s dream scenario: a pre-empt sparked an auction scenario for The Trouble With Fate, and I ended up with a 3 book deal with St. Martin’s Press.

Yay, me.

Now, I’m not going to whitewash it. Looking back, I can admit that I was thoroughly spoiled. None of the usual things happened to me. Pre-sale, I didn’t languish in rejections. And once the contract was signed, I didn’t have to do a big rewrite on what was then called Hedi’s Book of Rules, and is now called The Trouble With Fate.

Not because I was particularly brilliant. The truth is, by the time my editor, Holly Blanck, received the manuscript it had already gone through the revision process several times. She read it over, asked me to add some things and I did. And that, as they say was that.

Thus, I formed the opinion that if I really, really worked hard, I possessed the writer skills to present Holly with a bullet-proof second book.


I’d forgotten how many people had offered their comments about my first book and I’d totally minimized how many weeks of revision I’d spent making TTWF all bright and shiny. Dumbass that I was, I hit ‘send’ thinking my manuscript for Hedi’s 2nd adventure was damn fine.

And it wasn’t, and I had a 5 day melt-down, wherein I cut out a whole bunch of unnecessary rehash, and pretty much hated everyone except my family and the short fat black dog. (Sorry, Holly, kind of loathed you for 72 hours, too).

In between then and now, I’ve fallen in the cat’s water bowl, torn out 16K of unnecessary sludge, written a whole bunch of new shit, and realized something fairly important.

My editor was mostly right.

Yeah, that line would have worked better if I said she was completely right, but (a) I’m not that nice and (b) nobody’s right 100% of the time, right?

Anyhow. Without the bloat, the book is stronger. And now, when I look at my list of to-do’s for this interminable edit, I keep reminding myself of what Holly wrote in the editorial letter that caused me to go through two boxes of Prilosec and sleep upright for one solid week:  “…I promised you that I would help make every one of your books into the best possible book it can be. ”

Why’d I ever wrestle that promise out of her?

Last week, after I’d emerged from the end of God-I-hate-everybody-and-their-freakin’-dog misery, I sent my agent, Deidre Knight, an email about my progress through hell because that’s what I do. Whenever I feel the need to share, I do.

And since then, I’ve thought about it and I’ve decided to share it with you, too.

Oh, and this. I don’t hate my editor any more. Which is good, because she’s smart, and she works hard, and I’m hoping between the two of us we’ll get a book out there that will knock your socks off.

Or at least, loosen your garters.


  • Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    This is hiiilarious and SO true! Delighted that you’re surviving book 2 🙂 Can’t wait to read them both!

  • Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow, you have had an interesting journey…I think even if we hate our editor we still love them because they push us to be better..

  • B
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Yaaaay Leigh!!!!! I’m very happy!

    How’s the bruising!?

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      I can’t tell. That would require staring at my ass in a mirror, and there is truly only so many terrible sights a girl can stand in one life.

  • Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Bless you for writing this! It’s just what I needed to read. 😉

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      You’re going to do great, Dorothy. You keep going, you hear?

  • Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    omg was that red lined stuff all to be removed???? <8(

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      About 40 pages removed so far, but about 10 of those have been replaced with new prose. And you know what? This is not considered a doomsday edit. This is not an easy one, but by far, not a terrible one. So, brace yourself, okay?

  • Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink


    I like your sense of humor. I’m also impressed by how organized your version of Hell is. In my version I would have a competent, handsome assistant create an equally detailed spreadsheet. Never mind. That would be Heaven or THE PROPOSAL, wouldn’t it?

    Congratulations on emerging “from the end of God-I-hate-everybody-and-their-freakin’-dog misery.” Unfortunately I’m still there. However, my rants are directed at my constant self-editor and the submission package for my first manuscript. Fortunately, no actual agents or editors have been maligned in my thought processes . . . yet.

    Speaking of competent, how lucky you are to have Deidre for your agent! I met her recently and love her down-to-earth style.

    Best wishes for your current and future writing and sales!

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Jillian, I wish you the very best. The instinct to self-edit is not useful in first drafts, but it is the making of the 2nd. Good luck!

  • Maribeth
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Awesome that u r now seeing the light. I sent deirdre my ya a year ago and she said she liked the idea and would look at it again after revisions I am still editing. I hope this time when I send it I get to be where u r now

  • deborahblake1
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I loved this 🙂 I went through almost the same thing with my nonfiction books for Llewellyn. The first one required virtually no edits, and I thought, “See, I AM a genius.” The second one…well, let’s just say I almost quit the biz altogether, cried, hated my editor (very briefly, she’s a doll), and then wrote 100 additional pages in 3 weeks. Thankfully, THAT’S never happened again. But then with my most recent novel, my agent (Elaine Spencer from TKA) demanded huge sweeping edits. And dammit, she was mostly right too. The book is going out on submission now, so I’d like what you got, pretty please.

    Also, I’ve been dealing with major pain-in-the-ass (literally) tailbone problems for a year now. So you have my sympathy. Hope it feels better soon. Look, we’re twins!

    • Posted May 30, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Waving to my twin:-) I think it’s a process, and it’s probably a very important one. Trust me, I won’t make some of these mistakes again. Best wishes for your new novel!

  • Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Bless you for writing this. I think a lot of us worry very much about this same thing. We spend so much time on that first book, get so many responses, so much feedback, and then wonder what happens when we send in something to an editor that we didn’t work on for years. This is both a wakeup call and very encouraging. Editors exist to make the book the best it can be. So hugs to you AND your wonderful editor.

    Now, HOW did you make that fabulous chart? I lurves it!

    • Posted May 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Aw, thanks, Jenn.
      *grin* To make a chart of your own, hit ctrl print screen, then copy it onto a word doc. The rest is a layer text boxes. For transferring the word doc to web image, I’m grateful to Travis Pennington, who is not only a good friend, but someone who has a booming side business creating kick-ass book covers. (find him on twitter as @writertravis)

  • Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    *sniffs* It’s…it’s so beautiful! 🙂 Glad you got back on your feet! Lots of work means lots of rewards. And congrats on the deal, that’s fantastic!

  • Posted May 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Finding your blog made my day. I can commiserate in so many ways. I’ve just finished draft bazillion of my first novel and also started a blog to track my journey. Consider yourself “shared” over on mine today.

    Can’t wait to read The Trouble With Fate.

    • Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      What a lovely compliment. Thank you. If you’ve finished draft bazillion on your first novel, you should stop and pat yourself on the back. Many people say that they’re going to write a book one day. Not many actually do it:-) Good luck!

  • Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    This is so funny. Are you sure you’re writing in the right genre? Sorry. I know I’m not supposed to giggle at pain. I sympathize, really. But, you’re hilarious. Love the graphic.

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