Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tattered Pages Welcomes Suzanne G. Rogers

I'm so happy to have Suzanne with us today, who brings a wonderful post about being...

In Between a Rock and a Publisher

Do you remember Aron Ralston, the man who had to cut off his own arm to escape a mountain climbing accident? For him it was a horrible dilemma—he had to choose between losing a limb or losing his life.

Far less dramatic, but equally unpalatable, was the choice I had to make to publish with Astraea Press. My YA fantasy novel, “The Last Great Wizard of Yden,” was written from a first-person point of view. Their response to my submission was positive; the story idea was unique and compelling, but the POV didn’t grab them. Would I be willing to rewrite it from first to third person?

Let me whip out my pocketknife.

Why not just take the reject and move on to another publisher? Because I felt instinctively that Astraea Press was the right publisher for this manuscript. The label specializes in “wholesome” reads, and “Yden” was that. AP was likely to have the sort of following that would enjoy my novel. AP was also small enough to give my book the individualized attention I was looking for. So I agreed to rewrite the first three chapters, just to see if the project was even doable.

Several issues became obvious to me right away. Events seen from the perspective of a 16-year-old were not necessarily logical when viewed from a third-person POV. I had to shore up those plot flaws that popped out like spores of mold on a sea of cottage cheese. I had to rely more heavily on dialogue to reveal information, since I could no longer rely on the “inner monologue” of the main character. Scenes had to be laid out differently to achieve a forward momentum. 

On the plus side, I’d learned a lot about writing since the manuscript was first completed.  I was able to give the rewrite the benefit of my increased skill. For some reason, I also had more clarity of thought and could rip out those sections that seemed muddled to me now.   I ended up editing out a lot of action that was labored, and replacing it with new scenes. I also laid in a lot more fun dialogue and jokes. Once I finished the three chapters, I kept going. The rewrite took me about a month.

Three weeks after my re-submission, I got the acceptance. Four months later, I had the launch of my first published full-length novel. Now I have to turn my attention to rewriting the two already-completed sequels. 

Where’s that pocketknife again?

--S.G. Rogers--

Read the excerpt from The Last Great Wizard of Yden:

After his father is kidnapped, sixteen-year-old Jon stumbles across a closely guarded family secret--one that will challenge everything he has ever believed about his father and himself.  A magical ring his father leaves behind unlocks a portal to another dimension, but in using it, Jon unwittingly unchains the forces of evil. A crisis develops when a malevolent wizard transports to Earth to kidnap one of Jon’s friends. With the help of some unlikely schoolmates, and a warrior princess from Yden, Jon embarks on a dangerous quest to free his friend and his father from the most vicious wizard the magical world has ever known. In the end, Jon will be forced to fight for his life as he attempts to rescue the last great wizard of Yden.

And here's the excerpt:
“Where did you get that Dragon Clan ring, boy?” Warlord Mandral demanded.

“None of your business.”

The congregants gasped, and Jon’s reply earned him a smack on the head from the nearest cygard. Mandral, however, acted as if he hadn’t heard him. He beckoned to the man with the scroll. “Minister Tyrg, what is the charge against this prisoner?”

“Theft,” Tyrg said. His voice sounded almost like the hiss of a snake. “Merchant Moala has filed a claim for the cuff.”

Stig pulled up Jon’s sleeve to reveal the transporter cuff.

“Moala is an accomplished liar. His claim is denied,” Mandral said.

Jon sighed with relief, but his deliverance was short-lived.

“Take the ring and the cuff,” the warlord said. “Then whip the boy for his insolence.”

Ophelia’s eyes remained dull, and Jon was beginning to panic.

Stig caressed his ax. “The ring and cuff cannot be removed.”

Mandral exchanged a sharp glance with Tyrg. “Is this the ancient magic of inseparability?”

Tyrg shook his head in confusion. “A wizard becomes one with his clan ring and transporter cuff, yes. But there are few wizards left, and none of them have apprentices.”

The warlord studied Jon’s features. He tugged Ophelia to confirm the ring would not leave Jon’s finger. “Who are you?”

“No one in particular. I'm not from around here,” Jon replied.

With practiced speed and agility, Mandral unsheathed a thin dagger strapped to his thigh and pointed it at the hollow of Jon’s throat. “That's not what I asked.”

Jon felt the razor-sharp tip pierce his skin. He had no doubt the blade had meted out its share of death. He gulped. “Jon. Jon Hansen.”

A sudden commotion distracted Mandral from slitting Jon’s throat. A struggle had erupted between a newly arrived prisoner and the cygard holding him captive. Half a dozen cygards descended, but Mandral forbade them from intervention. The prisoner, covered from head to toe in a green hooded cape, was besting his captor. The cygard staggered up the chamber from a well-placed sidekick to his ribs. Then, the prisoner twisted in the air to slam a nimble hook kick to the cygard's head. The cygard’s helmet flew off, revealing his ugly face. Audibly disgusted, the onlookers averted their eyes until the fallen cygard managed to get his now-dented helmet back on.

Mandral laughed in delight. He directed the hovering cygards to subdue the prisoner and tie his tether on the ring next to Jon’s. The dented cygard yanked off the prisoner's cape and stepped back. The crowd murmured.

The newcomer was female, and a stunning one at that. Her full, waist-length hair was a wavy chestnut with red highlights. Her eyes were a violet color, and her skin was a golden tan. Despite his own predicament, Jon flushed. He couldn’t help but stare. From the expressions of the other men in the room, he knew he wasn't the only one.

* * * *

The Last Great Wizard of Yden sounds fabulous, Suzanne. So tell us, how did your writing career begin?
My mommy made me do it. When I was a child, whenever we went anywhere my mother made me write about it afterwards. I still laugh about “Our Trp to Sanfransco” where Daddy wet his pants (spilled a drink)!

That's too funny. But go Mom! Since The Last Great Wizard is YA fantasy, is that the genre you tend to stay with?
Although all of my writing tends to have a bit of innocence to it, I write for all age levels. I’ve written stories for children’s magazines as well as for romance labels such as The Wild Rose Press (“Clash of Wills” – coming in 2012!). My current WIP actually has the word “damn” in it. Oops.

*Gasp, sputter* Shame on you! Speaking of which, what IS your current WIP?
The book is called “Tournament of Chance,” and it morphed out of a short story I wrote and submitted to a prestige magazine. Although it was rejected, the editors liked it and told me they’d only rejected it because it didn’t have the “tone” they were looking for.  Well, neither do my thighs, so I didn’t let that discourage me. It’s now a nearly finished manuscript about a strong female protagonist archer who shoots through the glass ceiling keeping the commoners in their place.

LOL about the thighs. I hear you there. Tournament of Chance sound awesome. I LOVE the strong female lead. So other than writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
I saw “Billy Jack” when I was a kid and I thought his martial arts moves were SO COOL. It wasn’t until “Total Recall” came around that I realized a girl (Sharon Stone) could do it, too. Since then, I’ve loved martial arts. Interestingly, I earned my first black belt under Billy Blanks (of TaeBo fame).

How cool is THAT! Billy Blanks is awesome. Favorite cocktail?
Pomegranate martini when I can get it. I also like cranberry vodka drinks on account of the cranberry juice is so beneficial. 

Suzanne, we need to get together and party. After a few Pometinis I'm going to make you show me some TaiBo moves! Thanks so much for being my guest!

In her former lives, S.G. Rogers was a lawyer and an actress, but she’s now grown up and settled down as an author. Drawn to fantasy literature, she’s lived in some of the most magical places in America, including La Jolla, California, Asheville, North Carolina, and currently Savannah, Georgia. She resides with her son, husband, and two hairless cats—which look and act quite a bit like dragons. When she’s not writing, she enjoys practicing martial arts. You can find S.G. Rogers at 


Twitter: @suzannegrogers


Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Thank you for having me on, AJ. It was a pleasure!

Calisa Rhose said...

*still loving the previous post*

What a horrible horror story Suzanne, but what a great result! Congratulations on your sale and good luck with the subsequent rewrites for the sequels. This sounds like a fabulous book.

AJ Nuest said...

I'm so glad you were here with me today, Suzanne! We'll keep the blog up a few days, so everyone make sure to leave a comment for your chance to wine a free e-book!

Lynn Chantale said...

Hello ladies. Great post. I hope that pocketknife is sharp. The excerpt sounds fab. Good luck on the rewrites.

AJ, can I steal Matty for a bit. He's scrumptious. I'll leave you Jace...

AJ Nuest said...

Wait! Where IS Jace??

Debra St. John said...

Hi AJ and Suzanne,

I've heard of other authors trying to convert a first person story to third and vice isn't easy...

Congrats on making it work for you! Good luck with those other two now!

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Thank you Debra. It was a daunting task (and more ahead!), but I think it was worth it.

Sherry Gloag said...

Great post and awesome excerpt. Congratulations that your hard work paid off.

Katherine said...

Suzanne, I take my hat off to you. A few years ago I wrote a book in the first person and was told it would be better from the third person point of view but I just couldn't convert it without feeling like I was losing too much of the main character's voice. It's still sitting on my closet shelf. Great excerpt.

Suzanne G. Rogers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mona Risk said...

Suzanne, I have your YA on my kindle and will soon enjoy reading it. It's not easy to rewrite a whole book. WOW!

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Thanks, Sherry, for your nice comment!

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Katherine, my heart sank and my mind rebelled at the idea of rewriting the book. The new book definitely has a different voice to it, but I was able to bring other elements in that I believe served to enhance the story. It was a Solomon's choice, but I really wanted to see it published.

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Mona, that's so sweet. I really hope you enjoy the story. It means a lot to me that you will read it.

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Calisa, thank you for your support.

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Thank you, W. Lynn. I polishing up that pocketknife as we speak.

AJ Nuest said...

Holy crap! Looks like I missed the party! Sorry to be chiming in so late, Suzanne! Busy, busy day! And just for your FYI, I want in on the draw! The Last Great Wizard of Yden sounds exactly like my kind of read!!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Wow! An entire rewrite from 1st to 3rd makes my head hurt just thinking of it, but I also know that type of thing makes you dig deeper than you knew you could. So, how long did you mull it over before jumping in, and what was the best thing you learned about your craft in the exercise?

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Mackenzie, it took me a couple of days to decide. I had a sort of temper tantrum at first. Then I made a little deal with myself only to do the initial three chapters. That made it easier to continue (I 'tricked' myself into it, you see). The process of rewriting forced me to break the rigid ideas I'd had in telling the story. I let my protagonist have a few 'inner thoughts,' but most of his other ideas had to relayed via dialogue. I found I could bring out MORE in all my other characters that way. They became richer and more 3-dimensional. I ended up having more 'discovery' than I had anticipated, plus I got to write NEW scenes. The bottom line is, there is ALWAYS more than one way to tell a story, and if you allow yourself to admit that, all sorts of unexpected things may be revealed to you as a writer.

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

A.J. -- I'm sure we can work something out. :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow. You really had to go through a lot for that first manuscript. Glad it worked out, Suzanne. Good luck with it, and with Clash of Wills and Tournament. :)


Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Thank you, Julianne for your well wishes, and thanks for reading the post!

Calisa Rhose said...

"The bottom line is, there is ALWAYS more than one way to tell a story, and if you allow yourself to admit that, all sorts of unexpected things may be revealed to you as a writer."

This is a brilliant and very healthy way to look at it Suzanne. Thanks for the wise words!

Aj- has anyone told you that you're a book whore? LOL (I can say that because I know it takes one to recognize one! HA!)

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Thank you, Calisa. Coming from you, that is quite a compliment!