Please say hello to Arden Powell and
A Summer Soundtrack For Falling In Love
Hi, I’m Arden Powell. I’m here to share writing tips, anecdotes, and behind-the-scenes notes about my new release, A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love. Comment on my blog tour for a chance to win a $20 Amazon.com gift card!
What he wanted was a music career. What he needed was love.
When Kris Golding leaves his dusty Kansas hometown for a fresh start in New York, he thinks an apartment and a job are waiting for him. But when he finds neither, rather than admit defeat, he takes his chances busking—and meets Rayne Bakshi of international rock band The Chokecherries. Rayne needs a new guitarist, and gives Kris his first break since leaving home.
Rayne wears makeup and glitter and thinks nothing of kissing Kris in front of twenty thousand screaming fans for the attention. Instantly infatuated, Kris begins to question whether he might have a crush on Rayne—could he be bisexual? But since Kris originally claimed to be straight, Rayne’s wary of getting involved offstage. As their tour gains momentum, Kris’s sexuality becomes the least of his troubles. Between his conservative brother hell-bent on “rescuing” him from his life of debauchery, a peacock that may or may not be the avatar of a cult god, and a publicity stunt that threatens to upend the band, Kris is definitely not in Kansas anymore.
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How Editors Make Your Story Better
So many writers have been there: you finish your draft, polish it up, give it to someone—a critique partner, friend, or editor—and they read it over and say, “Okay, this is very good and I like it, BUT—”
And your stomach drops, because no one likes hearing what comes after that “BUT.” Unfortunately, that’s what you need to improve your craft. So you bite your tongue and nod, because you NEED to hear it, and your story does, too.
A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love is my first novel. I was ecstatic when it was accepted—but then came the edit letter, which was basically ten pages of BUTs. Which was to be expected, of course. No editor is going to fling your novel out into the world without giving it a long, hard edit. That’s the entire point of an editor, after all—and also the reason so many new writers seem to fear them.
“But what if they want me to CHANGE it?” you cry. “What if they want me to make all these terrible changes that completely miss the heart of the story I’m trying to tell?”
Well, if they do, pack up and take your novel elsewhere. You deserve an editor whose vision for your book aligns with your own. Editors are here to identify the under-constructed bits of your book that you, who have been buried up to your neck for the past however many months in writing, can no longer recognize.
When I submitted Summer Soundtrack, it was 65,000 words. By the time I finished my developmental edits, it had grown to almost 85,000, and that was entirely down to my editor’s suggestions. I went in with the attitude that my editor knew how to make my book the best it could be. That attitude didn’t necessarily make reading the edit letter easier, but if you’re not willing to take other people’s (professional) opinions into account, don’t submit your work at all. Anywhere. Because people, especially editors, have a lot of opinions.
Assuming you DO want to hear their opinions: go in with an open mind, but don’t be afraid to dig your heels in over the things that are important to you. If your editor does suggest making a change that you think misses the point, find a compromise. If they say your middle is lagging and suggest you add a subplot about a long-lost twin, but you would rather add a subplot about overthrowing the government because that fits the theme of your novel better, suggest that instead. The point is to fix the laggy middle.
My editor had two major concerns regarding Summer Soundtrack. First, they said that my second POV character, Angel, should have her scenes rewritten from my main character’s perspective. I love Angel, but my editor was right: her POV was distracting, especially since she wasn’t Kris’s love interest, and the story would be better without it. Rewriting a quarter of your book from a new perspective is no small task, especially on a tight deadline, but I did it. And yeah, the editor knew what they were talking about, and now the book IS better. A miracle!
Their second concern was over my cult. They told me the subplot came out of nowhere, and either needed to be better integrated, or cut entirely. I had zero intention of cutting the cult. As far as I was concerned, it was integral to the overall feel of the book: the drug-addled cult of mystics in the middle of the Mojave Desert who ride around on motorcycles and worship a magical peacock. Summer Soundtrack is an escapist fantasy, and the cult leans hard into the fantasy angle, the result of which is a weird fusion of Douglas Adams and Mad Max. Typical of contemporary romance? Maybe not, but it’s what I like.
So I added a new character and gave him a subplot with simultaneous ties to Rayne, Kris’s love interest (love triangle, cough cough), and the cult, in order to mesh it through the story more evenly.
And my editor loved it.
And, again: it resulted in a stronger story.
The moral is: don’t be afraid of editors. It’s okay to vent about the process, and it’s certainly okay to take a day or two to consider the suggestions—hell, it’s okay to take a day or two to work up the courage to open the edit letter at all. But if an editor took the time to write one, it’s because they believe in your book and they want you to succeed. So take a deep breath, relax, and get ready to listen to what comes after the BUT.
About the author:
Arden graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with an Honours degree in English literature and the realization that essay writing is just another form of making up stories. They also came away with an overriding and all-abiding love of semicolons, to the general dismay of their editors.
Arden lives in Ontario with a dog, a fellow human, and an unnecessary number of houseplants.
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To celebrate the release of A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love, one lucky person will win a $20 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 2, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
Promotional post. Materials provided by the publisher.