Welcome to the Carina Press Anniversary Party! I'm thrilled that I was asked to host and I hope you'll give a warm welcome to Melissa Johnson.
Leave a comment and you'll be in the running for a free download of a Carina Press book. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 8.
Take it away, Angela and Melissa!
In celebration of our one year anniversary, I asked as many of our Harlequin team members and Carina Press freelance editors as possible to write a short blog post, talking about what the past year or so has been like for them, working on Carina Press. I deliberately didn't provide any direction other than that, because I wanted to see what people came up with, in the spirit of Carina's 1st anniversary. I was so pleased when I saw what they'd all come up with, and had to say (and some of these posts made me just a little teary)! I hope you enjoy the post, and look for your opportunity to win a Carina Press book at the bottom of this post. ~Angela James
Melissa Johnson is a freelance editor for Carina Press.
You can follow her on Twitter.
You can follow her on Twitter.
Editing as Social Work
During my time as a freelance editor with Carina Press, a surprising idea has crept into my mind—that as an editor in this genre, my tasks and struggles are not so far from a totally different field I also considered working in.
When Angela hired me as one of the freelance editors for her new venture, Carina Press, I was in the midst of testing another career field: social work. I was taking my first class toward a master’s degree, with a plan to be a medical and disabilities counselor. I put social work on indefinite hold because I was so eager to work for Carina Press. (Had I been a superwoman, perhaps I could’ve been an active freelancer, stayed home with three kids and gone to grad school, but alas I am not.)
So, how have I been using the concepts I was studying in psychology and sociology? Authors, you can let out the breath you might be holding. I’m not referring to dealing with you. You’re perfectly healthy, rational and balanced individuals…just like me. ;-)
I am talking about your heroes and heroines, and their relationships. In romance, readers have high expectations for heroes and heroines, and readers’ buying power gives a thumbs up or down to the personalities, behaviors and relationships writers create. Meanwhile, as part of the feedback loop, writers are pushing into the world their new or modified ideals about individuals and relationships. (A quick look at romance novels from ten, twenty or thirty years ago shows us how much ideals have changed.)
And editors? What role do we play in this interpretation of healthy psychological growth and coupling? We make judgments and ask for changes to show the hero and heroine are in love for the right reasons, that they’ve developed themselves apart from each other, or their parents or their mentors and heroes, and that they have a balance between self- and other-focus.
We do a lot of tweaking of characters along the lines of:
• Does this anger/sadness/frustration make sense and how will he/she resolve it?
• Does she/he seem too callous (or coddling)?
• Will she/he lose the readers’ sympathy by doing this?
We also try to make sure the relationship between the characters is “balanced.”
• Is he taking too much care of her or vice versa?
• Why are they attracted to each other? What do they admire in each other and why?
• Do they see the flaws or rough spots in each other and accept those too?”
I think it is a mistake when outsiders to the genre claim the heroes and heroines are all the same. Sure, the spitfire and the Alpha are fairly common, but main characters can be shy and bold, anxious and calm, grumpy and chipper, wounded and wounding.
Heroes and heroines don’t have to start out perfect, and the story shouldn’t even end with them perfect, but they have to show a trajectory of growth and their efforts have to be admirable.
I suspect this is what a therapist hopes for in his or her dealings with clients.
The best part of working with Carina Press has been collaborating with my colleagues on some of these questions. When I doubt my judgment or simply want more input, I present the “case,” anonymously, to my colleagues. I love hearing what the other editors at Carina Press think of character growth and admirability. And I love their ideas on how to keep the dramatic tension high—characters’ problems big and realistic—within these constraints. After I digest their perspectives, I offer my authors what I hope is comprehensive, expert advice.
Of course, this is only one aspect of what an editor does, and a therapist has an entirely different world of real clients rather than characters. Nonetheless, I’m pleased that editing for Carina Press involves this normative and collaborative social work, and I’m thrilled that I chose this editing path.
To celebrate Carina's one year anniversary of publishing books, we're giving away some prizes. Today, on each of the nineteen blogs our team members are featured on, we're giving away a download of a Carina Press book to one random winner (that's nineteen total winners!) All you need to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. You can enter to win on all nineteen posts. In addition, on the Carina Press blog, we're giving away a grand prize of a Kobo ereader and 12 Carina Press books of the winner's choice. Visit the Carina Press blog to enter to win, and to see links to all 19 of today's blog posts.
And a sincere thank you from all of us, to our readers and authors, for making Carina Press's first year a success!