Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2 Authors + 1 Editor = 3 Free Books!

Today I’m interviewing two YA authors, Vicky Alvear Shecter (Cleopatra’s Moon) and Erin McCahan (I Now Pronounce You Someone Else). What do these two authors have in common? Their books were edited by the amazing Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine books, an imprint of Scholastic.

Vicky’s debut historical novel was just released this month. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? And Erin’s debut was a 2011 finalist for a prestigious RITA award through Romance Writers of America.

Several years ago at an SCBWI-MI conference, I had the opportunity to meet Cheryl Klein. Recently, she published her own book, Second Sight, An Editor’s Talks on Writing , Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Adults. If you’re in the midst of revisions or starting a new story, Cheryl’s book offers plenty of guidance.

Read on for insight into the author/editor collaboration, and details of our 3 BOOK GIVEAWAY!

I first learned about Cheryl through her popular blog, Brooklyn Arden. She comes across as very intelligent and passionate about books and narrative structure. In Second Sight, she describes herself as insanely detail-oriented and workaholic. Frankly, her analytical nature is a bit intimidating to me! What were your expectations for working with her?

Vicky: Thanks for having me here, Kristin. In truth, I didn’t know what to expect about working with Cheryl Klein because Cleopatra’s Moon was my first work of fiction. But, I guessed that it needed work. I just didn’t know how much! Fortunately, I had read that one of her authors had rewritten a significant portion of his book while working with her. I really respect and admire that writer so knowing this helped me set my expectations accordingly.

So, when her editorial letter came in at about 22-pages, I didn’t freak-out completely (okay, that’s a lie; I freaked out, but maybe not as much as I might have!). Later, I learned that was about typical for her. That’s her process.

And yes, of course, I was intimidated! Who wouldn’t be? But it was a reassuring-kind of intimidation because I knew her brilliant analytical mind was focusing on ways to make my book better. I mean, what a blessing!

Erin: I benefited from knowing nothing of the editorial process and nothing of Cheryl’s reputation. (Keep in mind I began working with her 2 years before her book came out.) So, honestly, I had no expectations, which is rare for me. I almost always have expectations which are almost always harrowing but which never materialize quite as I’ve imagined them. (For example, I just went to NYC where I met Cheryl for the first time. At her insistence, I took the subway – alone! – to her office and was absolutely convinced I was going to get mugged or murdered on it. I seem not to have experienced either.)

But let me tell you what I’ve come to learn about Cheryl. She IS insanely detail oriented, and she is definitely analytical. But she’s also incredibly lovely and kind. So much so that these qualities were evident over the phone, long before we met in person. She’s reasonable, not demanding. When she suggests a change, she explains why. And she has always listened to my explanation for characters’ motives or actions and considered them. I’m going to say this again: She’s just lovely. I can picture her smiling with a mix of bemusement (really?) and just a little naughty joy (really!) when she reads that she’s intimidating to anyone.

A 22-page editorial letter - wow! In Second Sight, Cheryl describes many revision exercises such as making a bookmap, character charts, and plot checklists. Did she ask you to do any of these exercises? How did your story grow working in collaboration with Cheryl?

Vicky: Cheryl herself outlined the book in the beginning (it was part of her editorial letter). That’s how she gets her arms around a novel, I think, which helped me get some much-needed perspective. She did ask me to outline the rewrites and I was willing to give it a shot, even though I don’t really like to. But here’s the thing, if I’d said, “Nope, sorry, I can’t, my brain doesn’t work that way,” she would’ve accepted that. She never demanded that I do something “her way” and was always open to discussing sticky issues. For me, that was awesome, because “talking it through,” is one of the ways I work things out. Sometimes, I think people don’t realize just how respectful and gracious she is as an editor because of her reputation for thoroughness.

There’s no doubt in my mind that working with Cheryl and AAL Books helped the novel in countless ways.

Erin: Oh, yeah, the book map. I forgot about that. She did ask me for one, and I developed so much anxiety over creating one perfectly that she told me to stop. And I cannot even begin to describe how I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE transformed at Cheryl’s hands. Let’s just say this: The book she bought bore little resemblance to the finished product. I’ve told her this already. I can’t believe she bought the thing. That’s how different it became.

I've been told that editors have to absolutely LOVE a book for them to acquire it because they spend so much time repeatedly immersed in the story. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into this process. What’s next for you?

Vicky: Oh, I can’t say. It’s too early. I’m still in the research phase.

Erin: I’m working on two new books – one a middle grade novel set in 1972, one a YA novel set in 1968.

And finally, because I ask everyone this, what are you reading now?

Vicky: Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens

Carl J. Richard, Why We Are All Romans

Lunn Cullen’s Reign of Madness

Plus, the odd research book here and there. Yeah, I’m all over the place.

Thanks for having me here, Kristin. I love this blog!

Erin: This is a great question. I just finished THE BELL JAR and have started I AM THE MESSENGER. Kind of a gearshift there, I know, but when I went to the bookstore to buy I AM THE MESSENGER, I saw THE BELL JAR on a nearby table, picked it up, started reading and had to finish it.

Libba Bray, Markus Zusak, and Sylvia Plath - sounds good to me! Thanks Vicky and Erin, and best of luck with your future projects!

For more about Erin and Vicky and their books, go to their websites/blogs: and and

Cheryl Klein’s blog is here:

***And now what you’ve all been waiting for – the three book giveaway!

The contest is open to followers (old and new) of our blog – we appreciate you!

Three random winners will be selected. You could win one of these 3 books:

1. Second Sight, An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Adults, by Cheryl Klein.

2. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan.

3. And, Vicky is donating a signed copy of Cleopatra's Moon!

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Comment on this blog post by Friday, September 9th.

2. You may request a particular book if you have a preference.

3. Leave your email address, so I can notify you if you win.

4. Please help spread the word by sharing this giveaway on your own blog, Facebook page, etc., and you’ll earn an extra entry.

Want a chance to win more books? Shannon Whitney Messenger is giving away 4 ARCs here.

Also, check out my guest post for the Tip Tuesday feature at Literary Rambles here.

Thanks everyone, and good luck!

Kristin Lenz


Lisa Tapp said...

Thanks Erin and Vicky for sharing your experiences. A twenty-two page revision letter would definitely make me cry. At least at first.
Thanks, Kristin for this interview!

Andrea said...

I met the wonderful Cheryl Klein at an SCBWI conference. I love hearing other author's experiences of getting their book from MS to final product. Gives me hope that I can be published too! I'd love to have a copy of Cheryl's book!
Andrea J

Anonymous said...

It's always great to get a look behind the scenes. I'd love to win a copy of Cleopatra's Moon.

Shared on FB:


Colette Ballard said...

As always, great post, Kristen! i love hearing about author's unique experiences, especially when they have the same editor. nice job: )

Katie McGarry said...

Erin and Vicky - thank you for sharing what your revision process with your editor was like. I can't wait to read your books!

Heather Smith Meloche said...

What a great interview, Kristin! Thanks so much!

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Thanks for the interview, Kristin! I love this blog!

Nancy Edwards said...

I would love to have one of those three books. In truth, I want them all, but I'm trying not to be greedy. Thanks for the offer, and the interesting interviews.

(I linked to this on facebook, but how you'll ever know that is beyond my technical know-how.)

Mardou1 said...

Thanks for sharing the editorial/author process. It must have been scary to open that 22 page letter...guess you just take each point at a time.

And I would LOVE a copy of Cheryl's book!

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for sharing publishing experiences. Always great to learn! Hopefully one day I will be sharing mine.


Anne Speirs said...

My MG got a mini critique from Cheryl Klein, and she's right on the money! I already got Second Sight, so if I won I'd like to request Cleopatra's Moon. Tweeted this great post.
Thank you!

Emily Ritter said...

As a young professional looking at going into children's/young adult publishing, this article was really helpful in showing editing from the author's point of view. (And actually, Cheryl is the person who first sparked a real interest in the industry for me!)

I'm so glad I stumbled across this article and blog, as I've recently started a YA blog ( of my own. I'll be sure to mention this helpful article in my next post.

I've been meaning to buy Second Sight since it came out so I would love to win a copy. Thanks!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. Even though a 22 page revision letter sounds daunting, I'd love to have Cheryl as an editor. I got a critique with Cheryl at a SCBWI conference and she's fabulous.

I already have her book so I'd rather win one of the others.

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone and helping to spread the word about our blog! It's great to see some old and new faces.

Emily - good luck with your new blog and career in publishing. I'm a follower now.

I had a critique with Cheryl at an SCBWI conference too - definitely the most helpful conference critique I've ever received because of the time she devoted.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kristin, Erin and Vicky. I am awed by the tenacity of authors and super-editor Cheryl. Second Sight is needed for me,I think. sandycarl642 AT yahoo DOT com.

Aurora Smith said...


Jennifer Rumberger said...

Great post, Kristin. It was very interesting to hear Erin and Vicky's experiences with Cheryl.

Toni Moxley said...

I love reading all these interviews, it's reassuring to know how much editors help - Thanks for sharing!

Angel C @ Mermaid Vision Books said...

I would really love a copy of Second Sight! Cheryl is one of the editors I admire most and it would be amazing to have that book on my shelf.

Thank you for the interview and contest! :)

angelidgcruz at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I'd love to win Second Sight!

Alexandra said...

Kristin, I just discovered this blog after having seen your tip on "Literary Rambles"! Great idea to interview two authors with the same editor - it was a really interesting read! I will be returning to YA Fusion and look forward to your future posts!
Thanks also for the contest opportunity!
alexandraloewen1 AT gmail DOT com

Linda Andersen said...

I clicked over after reading your tips at Literary Rambles. Thanks for sharing a great interview. 22 pages--what an awesome revision letter. Please register me in the contest.

Casey McCormick said...

What a fascinating interview! It was nice to read something editorially focused. I really enjoyed it. Thank you!

Kurt Hampe said...


I met Cheryl Klein at the Midsouth conference two years ago, and found her to be both professionally engaging personally charming, a great mix of serious and warm. She also gave me one of the few truly detailed and insightful paid critiques I've ever had. Happily she also liked the story, my middle-grade girl book, AMANDA JOHNSON, EXTRA ORDINARY. She asked me to address a few concerns and submit more than the usual few chapters. I appreciated her comments enough to do full rewrite before submitting. Alas I never heard back, but the story is ready for the next time.

Sarah said...

Great interview and great contest! I'd love to read that revising book, since revising my YA novel is basically kicking my butt.
Sept. 9 is my wedding anniversary so a great day to be a winner. ;)
SarahJPerry9 AT gmail DOT com

PJ Sharon said...

Ms. Klein sounds amazing. You ladies are lucky to have her. I would love a copy of her book. I'm e-publishing my first contemporary YA romance, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, on September 24th. I had it professionally edited and I agree, a great editor makes the book shine. I'll tweet your contest and spread the word.

Anonymous said...

I'm always interested in new authors, and I have yet to read any of these author's books. They sound totally cool, though!

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read and comment!

Thanks SCBWI friends for visiting.

Casey, Linda, Alexandra, and any others - thanks for clicking over from Literary Rambles!

Sarah P. - Happy Anniversary!

PJ Sharon - Good luck with your e-publishing experience.

Jennifer HIlt said...

Kristin, great post. Short and meaty=me likey.
Erin and VIcky, I loved your reading list! And the 22 page revision letter sounds very cool. I'd love to have a copy of any of the 3 books! Thanks, Jen

perisquire30 said...

Thanks Erin and Vicky for sharing! Both of your books sound fabulous.
I'm working through some editing of my own, so if I was a lucky winner, I'd love a copy of Cheryl's book.

~Roni Lynne
YA Adventures in the Paranormal...and Beyond!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

So much great info! I always love hearing the stories of other authors. I'd love to win Second Sight.

I follow and I tweeted. :-)

mrso_d at yahoo dot com

BookBreather said...

Awesome giveaway! I don't have a specific preference!

GFC: GabbiCalabrese

Myrna Foster said...

I'd love to win Cheryl's book, and I really enjoyed your interview. Thanks!

myrnabobfoster at yahoo dot com

denyapal said...

Cleopatra's Moon would be my top, but the others sound good too!


Angela Ackerman said...

22 Pages! I think I'd faint!

It is so neat to hear about how it all went down. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Melissa said...

I will definitely be checking out these books!

Amy said...

Hi Kristin! I really enjoyed your interviews, and can scarcely imagine a 22 page critique/revision. I love YA fiction, so would be thrilled to win either one of the novels. Hope you are well!


Ishta Mercurio said...

WOW - maybe I'm weird, but a 22-page revision letter sounds awesome right now. LOL! Having that level of editorial guidance would be amazing. Thanks for the interview!

And thanks for the giveaway - I'd love to win a copy of Cheryl's book, but CLEOPATRA'S MOON would be my second choice.

Happy Friday!