But … it wasn’t always that way because you see, I was a very green CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) newbie and she is a seasoned professional, so frankly, I’m surprised the woman has any hair left after what I put her through!
Like the time when A Passion Most Pure was just months away from its publication date and Lonnie’s husband — an Irish historian (really, what are the odds???) — pointed out that it would have been impossible for the O’Connors to sail from Boston to Ireland in 1917 because of German U-boat warfare, which banned all passenger ship travel.
Nooooooooooooooo!!!!! Trust me, I cried buckets of tears (and I’m pretty sure Lonnie did too) at the prospect of having to totally revamp my plot so close to publication. I was so desperate, I actually considered switching the ship’s destination from Dublin to an Irish community in Nova Scotia, Canada!
Resolution? Prayer! Would you believe that a friend I had lunch with at that time just happened to have read an article recently on freighters traveling to Europe during WWI to transport supplies to troops?? BINGO! I slapped the O’Connor’s on a freighter owned by the subordinate hero’s cousin’s freighter company, and got them safely to Dublin, saving both them and my plot from being sunk by German U-boats!
And that was only the beginning of countless unique problems I presented to Lonnie, but she braved them all, and out of all the trial and tears, a true bond of friendship has emerged that has become one of my greatest joys as an author.
So without further ado, allow me to welcome my dear friend Lonnie Hull Dupont—editor extraordinaire, public speaker, poet, and now author of a delightful memoir entitled Kit Kat and Lucy: The Country Cats Who Changed a City Girl's World.
IN HONOR OF SEEKERVILLE'S 9TH BIRTHDAY:
9 Questions I Asked My Editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont
9 Questions I Asked My Editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont
1.) Welcome, Lonnie! Since Seekerville is a blog for aspiring and published authors as well as for readers, can you tell me as an editor what’s hot right now and what’s not as far as what publishers are looking for in general?
Lonnie's Response: We are looking for both fiction and non-fiction, but I think you may be more interested in fiction. Our strongest category is romantic suspense. We also do well with regular suspense, mystery, and cozy mystery. We acquire contemporary women’s and romance and historical novels. And by the way, I’ve heard the rumor a couple of places that we aren’t acquiring historicals, but that’s not true; the thing is that when we do acquire them, we have to wait awhile before going to publication because we have many historicals in the wings. That’s all.
I can tell you that we are considering more unusual novels these days – taking some, not taking others. A little fantasy. A little magical realism. A little everyday horror. We swing back and forth between genres in terms of popularity. But we’re looking for the next big thing like anyone else, alongside plenty of steady things.
2.) What is your opinion on series vs. single titles?
Lonnie's Response: This is one of those things in publishing where each goes in and out of favor for whatever reasons. Right now we publish more standalones than we used to, though we still publish series. I don’t really have an opinion on which is better; I personally like both, and I’ve been a binge-reader all my life for a series or an author. But at Revell, it comes down to how well we can sell each. That tends to inform our collective opinion.
3.) What are your favorite types of stories to read and why?
Lonnie's Response: Professionally, I like books that are seamless to read. I like a well-turned phrase. I like losing myself in a story. Those can be in any genre we acquire. The same would be true of what I like to read personally. I’m behind in pleasure reading and have been for years – the stack of books I want to read but have no time to read is pretty high. But my personal favorite thing to read is memoir. Anyone’s.
4.) How long does it take to say yay or nay to a proposed submission—by the first paragraph, first page, or first chapter?
Lonnie's Response: A no to a manuscript is easy for me. It can happen very soon – anywhere from first paragraph to first couple of chapters. It happens because it’s clear that the writer isn’t ready to publish or doesn’t understand what we publish or doesn’t quite have the right sensibility.
A yes at first blush is easy, too, and happens quickly. Sometimes it’s because I fall in love with what I’m reading, or sometimes it’s because what I’m reading is good enough for us to successfully publish whether or not it’s my cup of tea. And honestly, I’ll take either. After I first decide this should be a yes, the manuscript moves to committees. If it makes it through the first committee, I will present it to the second committee. Then the final decision is out of my control.
The hard ones for me are the maybes. They can sit in my computer way too long because I can’t seem to decide. That’s where my work can fall down. I feel awful about it because I know an author is waiting for me to say something – and I have nothing yet to say. Sigh.
I tend to go straight to the actual story writing in a proposal once I have a sense that it won’t be a decline. I never read the complete synopsis until I’m done reading the available manuscript or partial manuscript. That’s just me. The synopsis needs to be there anyway – for other readers and also so that eventually I know that that author herself views her book the way I read it.
5.) What are your pet peeves in a novel?
Lonnie's Response: Too much backstory too soon rather than letting it unfold. Telling vs. showing. Sloppiness in points of view. Too many names that start with the same letter (really, that is distracting). Anything that stops my reading.
6.) What is the most difficult issue/topic an editor might need to tackle while proofing a writer’s book?
Lonnie's Response: Books need editing. That’s just how it is. Anything I’ve written needs editing, too, and I understand that. But I know it’s a challenge for some writers to handle being edited, and sometimes they can get offended or might give up and shut down. Or write passive aggressive notes. I try very hard to keep things as kind and respectful -- yet clear -- as I can. That means I carefully craft and rewrite my own notes and queries before I show them to the author.
But once I did a bad “save as” on my computer and sent an author my notes to myself about her novel instead of the carefully crafted memo I intended to send. I wondered why she was so defensive in her responses. It was because I sent her a short list of issues written to myself. They weren’t mean; they were just terse because they were written to ME as reminders for writing my editing memo. We’d worked together before, and it hurt her feelings, but she didn’t tell me. I finally figured it out. Boy, was I embarrassed. The poor author!!! JULIE’S NOTE: And, no, the author in question was NOT Julie Lessman!! ;)
7.) The recent Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat had a panel on kissing. What are your thoughts on the parameters of kissing in an inspirational novel? And do you think edgier romance has made inroads in the CBA and if so, do you think the trend will continue?
Lonnie's Response: My goodness, that would have been a fun panel! I don’t know about edgier romance making inroads -- I only know what we sell. When it comes to kissing, Revell books with romance in the plot have kissing. We’re fine w/that. But once you start using body parts in the narrative – mentioning the tongue, for instance, in a kiss – we get nervous and ask for changes. Passionate is fine. But make it passionate like an old movie. A lip lock with positive force, sure, but probably not a lot of mouth movement beyond that. I can’t believe I’m writing this. Only for you, Julie!
8.) You recently switched hats from editor to author with the release of your memoir, Kit Kat and Lucy: The Country Cats Who Changed a City Girl's World, so congratulations on your new book, Lonnie! First, will you tell us a little bit about the book and how long it took you to write it?
Lonnie's Response: Thank you! It’s exciting! It’s non-fiction – a first person narrative of my moving from San Francisco to rural Michigan and the two stray cats who arrived at my farmhouse asking to move in. It’s also about how a life-long struggle with anxiety and depression returned and how my animals clearly helped me through it.
I started a version of it twelve years earlier, about only Lucy at Christmas, but I shelved it. I also wrote and sold several short pieces about animals in the last couple decades. Then one day it occurred to me that I should write about both the cats, not make it a Christmas book, and weave in some of the shorter pieces I’d sold.
So I wrote a prologue and four chapters which I took to my poetry writers group and distributed. The poets looked a little bewildered and one said to me, “What are you doing?” After such a reception (ha!), I shelved that idea for a while too. Then a series of events happened too lengthy to describe, and it ended with my being contracted to write that book for which I’d written a prologue and four chapters (of what would be twenty chapters). It took me six months of writing and rearranging and weaving (all on top of my Revell job) to finish the book, which had a fast deadline. I wouldn’t like to work that way again. But I did it, and I stand by what I wrote.
9.) Finally, can you tell us what insights you gained, if any, about your perspectives on both authors and editors?
Lonnie's Response: I’m not sure I’m answering this correctly, but here are some things I learned:
-It’s a privilege to be able to write things people want to read.
-Writing to a book deadline is even more solitary than I realized. But I handled it, and I want to write more.
-I know they say Write what you know, and I did. But I also say Write what you’d like to read, and I did that, too.
-It’s the first time I wrote such a long narrative about my life. I have many short first person pieces under my belt, but this was very different. When another memoir writer told me I would need a story arc for my memoir, I had no idea what to do w/that statement. So I just kept writing and rearranging, and the arc seemed to develop.
-I have written or compiled several books, but this is the first time an editor asked me to make a particular significant change I strongly disagreed with. I’m usually open to editing, so this was new for me. Since I trusted her, I thought about what she suggested for days. After about a week I suddenly woke up in the night with the realization she was absolutely right, and I made the change.
Leave a comment to toss your name in the cat bowl for FIVE BOOKS!! Not only will you receive a copy of Lonnie's WONDERFUL memoir, Kit Kat and Lucy: The Country Cats Who Changed a City Girl's World (which I LOVED, and I'm a dog person who now may now defect to cats!), but also an ebook copy of my latest release, Love Everlasting AND signed paperback copies (or ebook if preferred) of A Passion Most Pure, Isle of Hope, A Light in the Window, and a framed quote from Isle of Hope.
HAPPY COMMENTING AND GOOD LUCK!