Interview: Angel Blackwood

On Monday I posted about Angel Blackwood’s business, Cover to Cover Editing. Today we finish off the editor spotlight with an interview with Angel.


Angel Blackwood

Most authors I talk to dread editing. Many don’t even realize that’s part of the process until they’ve finished the first draft. What brought you to become an editor?

I enjoy the part that all those other authors hate. I like editing my own work – tweaking something just so to make it work, polishing, filling the holes – and I’ve found that I enjoy doing it for others too. It started with a fellow author who only wanted a reader, but she needed editing, so I offered. Now here I am doing it as a career.

Was there a certain point in your life where it just struck you that you have a flare for editing?

In college. In my creative writing classes, we were required to read and help edit other classmates’ work. I was good at it, my teachers told me as much, and I enjoyed it.

What is your favorite part about editing?

Seeing the plot holes filled so the plot all comes together in a way it didn’t otherwise. That and helping the author figure out how to fix something that they didn’t otherwise know how to fix.

On the business end, how long has Cover to Cover been operating?

I’ve been editing for three years now. Two of those years I was smart enough to charge for it. I used the first year to gather a few loyal clients.

What genres are you passionate about when it comes to editing?

I vastly prefer fantasy (in all its variety), sci-fi, and historical fiction.

Do you have any advise to authors on finding an editor and self editing?

When you’re editing for yourself, you should focus on the things you know you can fix. That would be tense (making sure you’re in the past or present all throughout), fixing plot holes you find, making sure you’re consistent with your character’s looks, and any grammar you know you know how to do.

When looking for an editor, you should look for one who will do everything you want, first. Most editors only do grammar or developmental stuff, so you need to find one who will cover everything or just the thing you’re looking for. Ask them how much they charge, what formatting they use on the manuscript (double-spaced, what size font, that sort of thing), how long they usually take, and how many passes they’re willing to do for that one price. If you’re happy with all of that, ask for a free sample, which a respectable editor will provide. If you like their editing style, they do everything you want, they fit your budget, and you get along with each other (it’s hard to work with someone who has a personality that clashes with yours), then ask how soon they can get you on their schedule.

You have a book coming out in November. What is the title and the blurb?

I do! It’s Kindling, book one in the Obsidian Embers Trilogy. Here is the blurb:

When Zahir, a desert nomad with a dark past, entered Ashet, he wasn’t expecting to be hauled off to prison.

When Absalom deserted the military, he never thought an army would form around him to fight the most powerful women in the country.

Marietta believed she’d die in a cell in the Black Caves. She never expected freedom or to join with other broken souls to end the torture and experimentation for good.

Desdemona seized the throne of the Order of Obsidian Embers ready to implement her vision of a safer world. She never imagined such opposition. Not that it would stop her.

With magical warfare, mad rulers, and old scores to settle, how can anyone know hero from villain? And if the people who have been fighting for years can’t tell the difference, how can Zahir choose the right side?”

And finally! What is your favorite book and why?

Ha! I so don’t have a favorite book. My favorite genre is fantasy, and my favorite authors in that genre are R.A. Salvatore (his Drizzt books specifically), Joe Abercrombie (everything the man has written), and Brent Weeks (The Night Angel books and The Lightbringer series are both great.) More than one there… I love those authors and their books because they write a type of fantasy that is a perfect mix of real feeling characters in hard situations and the magic and magnificence that I love in fantasy.

Thank you very much for your time. I know I’ve used you and you’ve rocked, so hopefully this will catch the eye of some other authors who need an editor.

You’re very welcome, and I would love that!

Why a strong protagonist female matters – The Sound of the Stones debut

The below post was written by Beth Hammond, a writing buddy and a talented artist. It was supposed to be posted Sunday, but life happens and I forget things. She had a book recently release, which is below, so please check it out. There are plenty of links in the below post to bring you to her website or book page.

Beth Hammond

Give me a strong woman protagonist, one that doesn’t sit around lamenting about the tragedies that befall her. Can she be sad once in a while, frustrated, weak? Yes, but please don’t take me on a journey with a woman who wallows in self-doubt, who spends the entire book incessantly needing reassurance and clamoring for a man’s attention. *Slaps the female character that bases self worth on a man’s opinion*

Give me a woman protagonist I can relate to, one who isn’t the most graceful, beautiful woman that ever walked the earth. Can she be beautiful? Yes, but don’t dwell on her beauty, elevating it as the first thing every other character notices.

E.g. “She had the grace of a willow. Hair like gold glittered in the sun as it draped around her heart-shaped face. Her eyes shone like emeralds and her lips made even the sweetest berry envious for their pink fullness.” <- *Gags and sings, “camp town ladies sing that song, doo-dah, doo-dah” to remove that visual* I wrote that sappy quote just now. It hurt. It hurt so bad that I momentarily lost the ability to distinguish audio vs. visual stimulation.  See?

Give me a woman protagonist whose inner dialogue reflects moxie. I like a little sarcasm in my coffee thank you very much. Does she need to be harsh and cynical at all times? No. That would get boring and certainly doesn’t reflect the woman’s mind, the one’s I know anyway. Let me clarify just a bit lest you think I mean a woman protagonist needs to be a loud mouth. Quiet woman can be strong as well. It is often in the still silence that strength is borne. <- Oh, I like that Beth. *Glares at screen* Yes, I talk to myself. And yes, I can feel you silently judging me.

Give me a woman protagonist…who is real. Real women are strong even if at times they are weak. Now there’s a brilliant statement Beth. Contradiction much? They are fierce, intelligent, sarcastic, defiant. They are complex humans capable of greatness. It is through the multi-facets of women’s personalities that great female characters come to life.

“Don’t write what you think will sell. Write what you want to read.” – Beth Hammond

Ok Beth, why on earth did you just quote yourself? Well, I’ll tell me why. Because that quote embodies the reason I wrote “The Sound of the Stones”. I wanted to read a fantasy that had romance but didn’t use it as the main focus. I wanted to read a fantasy with a main female character that felt real. I wanted to read a fantasy that had humor sprinkled in as a spice to liven up the darkness. This is that book:

The Sound of the Stones

beth hammond tallThe ancient book about the past holds the future. Frankie is the key. She doesn’t remember stopping at the used bookstore, but there she stands as if drawn by an unseen force. Anticipation wraps around her like a cocoon. When she opens the door, the wind nudges her through, and expectancy turns to purpose. The man inside, and the book he offers, changes everything. Unusual things happen when she begins to read:

In a time long forgotten, people are held captive by half human creatures. Ashra holds a secret close to her heart, and must discover the purpose of her gift before the oppressed human race is destroyed. An unlikely ally comes to her aid. Strangers bring her a message from a far off land. Ashra and her band of misfits set off in search of answers. Together, they find love, uncover mysteries from the past, face ever-present danger, and hone powers they never knew they had.

Frankie and Ashra are separated by millennia, by fiction and reality, but in the end the barrier shatters.

“The set of her jaw said angry, and her eyes spoke of fear. But behind the fear, pulsing from within and reflected in the way she held her shoulders, lived strength.” – The Sound of the Stones

If you have made it this far into the post, I thank you. Bless your heart for letting me prattle on about what I want. I really hope you want it too. If you want perfection, I’m not your girl. If you want a sappy love story, move along and I wish you well. But if you’re looking for a fantasy that tells a tale reminiscent of classics like “The Never Ending Story” then we might be twins. Wait, what color shirt are you wearing?

Oh, and one more thing, if ridiculous humor thrown in at the most awkward moments makes you roll your eyes, don’t read this book. You’re welcome.

The real bethBeth Hammond is an author/illustrator who writes anything from YA fantasy to children’s picture books. She is a wife, mother, and lover of life. Her early years were spent serving in the military, middle years spent raising babies, and figuring out her place in the world. Her later years are yet to come, and filled with hopes and endless dreams. She spends her days creating worlds through words and illustration.