Thursday, September 29, 2011

Susan Mallery & her editor going over "Only His"

Have you ever wanted an insider’s view into the editing process of the books you love? If so, you’re in for a treat! This is the transcript of a live edit between New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery ( and her editor at HQN Books, Tara Parsons. The book they’re discussing is ONLY HIS, the third book of the Hendrix triplets trilogy in the Fool’s Gold romances series.

A little background information: ONLY HIS features Nevada Hendrix and the man who was her first love in college, Tucker Janack. Unfortunately, Nevada wasn’t Tucker’s first love. They were friends, but he was completely enamored with his girlfriend at the time, the exotic artist Caterina. Without giving too much away… Nevada and Tucker had just one “romantic” encounter in college – Nevada’s first – and it was not a success, to say the least.

You will get some hints about the story in ONLY HIS in this transcript, but all true spoilers have been censored out. And now, Susan Mallery and Tara Parsons…

TP: I love your new haircut and color! I think I want to go platinum blond.
SM: Oh, honey. You don’t have the coloring for that.
TP: Hmmm, maybe blonde streaks?
SM: I like the brown!
TP: OK, well, the blonde triplets are my inspiration.
SM: Understandably.

TP: Time to start the actual edits?
SM: If we must!
TP: The word to watch for this time around is “interesting.”
SM: That’s one of the last things I do in a manuscript—look for word reps. It was “kind” last time.
TP: So on page 50, Tucker looks at Nevada and how she’s changed since college. Why does he view her differently?
SM: Aside from Cat’s influence on him?
TP: Yes, we need that extra bit – why does he see her in another light now?
SM: Part of it is just that he’s no longer ruled by his hormones the way he once was. He’s a little bit older, a little bit wiser. He’s more into substance than surface.

TP: I love Cat, by the way. She’s a great secondary character.
SM: She’s just fabulous. Actually, she’s sort of every woman’s nightmare. Cat is the kind of woman you pray your husband or boyfriend will never, ever lay eyes on, because there’s no way you can shine in comparison to her. She’s luminescent. Exotic, with lush, full lips and a body that makes men forget they even have a name, much less what it is. An Angelina Jolie type, a woman who understands her own power – and uses it.
TP: On page 89, what’s keeping them apart at this point? There’s no Cat.
SM: The horrible memory of their first night, he’s leaving at the end of his job, and Cat still does have a hold over him.

TP: Is him leaving as a conflict for them too close to the problem between Simon and Montana from ONLY YOURS?
SM: Also, his dad’s a womanizer. He’s not good at relationships. He’s been raised to think love makes you a fool.
TP: OK, and he does see Will acting like a fool for Jo, later?
SM: Oooh yes! Love makes you a fool. I’ll pump up the father.
TP: That way you can hold off on the revelation about Cat and prolong Tucker’s fear.
SM: He doesn’t know yet how he’ll react. He thinks he’ll be sucked back in.
TP: He’s scared of being alone with Cat because of that? But he can’t still be attracted to her if he’s the hero.
SM: No, no. He’s scared that he will be but we won’t see him attracted to her.
TP: I’d love it if you could add another scene from the past with the three of them together. It would be good to see their friendship.
SM: I can do that.
TP: Ok, I don’t have much big stuff. I did some line editing on the pages.
SM: Oh, good. I always like that.

TP: I worry about the scene where Nevada remembers their first night together.
SM: Well, you do have delicate sensibilities.
SM: You’d never make it in Blaze!
TP: I am too conservative. Maybe pull it back a notch. Less BLEEP, more BLEEP?
SM: Ok, I’ll revisit that one.
TP: There was an *awesome* sex scene later tho.
SM: In the bath? That took some time.
TP: Yes! And I love that she cleans the water up later J. I would do that too.
SM: Ha.  She had to wipe up the floors—she cares about her house, and I didn’t want readers to worry about the water!

TP: The scene with Max coming to the door for Denise was a bit anticlimactic. He just shows up randomly?
SM: I know, but it’s so romantic!
TP: Could it be a special day?
SM: I’ll make it more significant.
TP: Speaking of Denise and Max, you had a lot of hilarious parts in here.
SM: Montana’s book, ONLY YOURS, is so emotional, we had to have a fun romp this time!

TP: With Jo and Will and this “leaving quandary”…does it sound too similar to the main characters?
SM: I’ll make it clear—his leaving is a way of her protecting herself.
TP: And speaking of Jo and the BLEEP BLEEP, could it be that she wasn’t actually the one directly responsible? But something really terrible still happens so it has more weight.
SM: I’m good with that.
TP: On 331, Will and Jo just broke up because she revealed her past. That could be a nice source of tension for Nevada and Tucker.
SM: Like they take sides?
TP: Yes, if Tucker’s using Will/Jo as one of his hang ups….
SM: Oh! Exactly. Ok.
TP: So…I’m wondering about the BLEEP.
SM: The giant BLEEP?
TP: The sculpture. Does it look like an actual BLEEP?
SM: What I was picturing was the spaceship from Men in Black II.
TP: Ha! Altho, it should look like a BLEEP, or else it doesn’t make sense for everyone to be so offended.
SM: I’m actually writing a note to myself. “Make BLEEP more real.”
SM: Got it.

TP: Can we talk through the two subplots? Max/Denise and Jo/Will? Can you trim?
SM: Earlier you said you wanted another scene of Max/Denise.
TP: But maybe then too much will be going on?
SM: Ok, so you need to pick!
TP: I know, I know. What about the arrival in Chicago?
SM: She’ll come after him before “I can’t believe you’re doing this again!”
TP: I like that. More of an arc. Oh, and of course, I loved the ending. I wanted more descriptions of the triplets’ wedding dresses!
SM: I can do that.

TP: I can’t wait for the goats in Heidi’s book, by the way.
SM: AND llamas will herd the goats in the 2012 Fool’s Gold cowboy books. And the feral cows are rounded up and sent away.
TP: Ha! I can tell you’re doing animal research.
SM: And the next book I sent you, BAREFOOT SEASON, I’m warning you, you’ll cry. Be careful reading on the train.
TP: I’m sure it will be amazing! I’ll be reading it on my way to sales conference in Florida.
SM: Have fun!
TP: As long as I’m not near gators or large bugs, it’ll be fun.
SM: In Florida, the bugs drive at night. In Houston, some claim they form gangs and knock over liquor stores.
TP: You are too much. Now I’m going to be scared AND crying from your book.
SM: I try.

To see the uncensored version of this transcript, visit on Tuesday, October 4.

1 comment:

Free Romance eBooks said...

Great read, thanks for sharing. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.