Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway: Lou Aronica, editor and author of ~ Blue


author photo

We have a special guest post and giveaway from author and editor ~ Lou Aronica.

It is an offered to edit one winner's short story or synopsis (up to twenty double-spaced pages). 

An editor and author of several novels and works of nonfiction, including a New York Times bestseller, he has recently started a publishing endeavor called The Fiction Studio and has just published Blue, his latest novel.

In this post he shares his experiences on how he came to be an editor, his experiences editing a number of award winning books by famous and established authors, some juicy insider thoughts around several types of authors he has had to deal with as an editor, and how he switched his role – becoming the edited instead of the editor.

An interesting and funny post; let’s welcome Lou Aronica.

The very first book I ever edited – David Brin’s Startide Rising – won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards. My batting average has plummeted since. In reality, I never planned to be an editor at all. Publishing was in fact my second choice of profession. I wanted to be a teacher, but there were no teaching jobs to be had in a dreadful economy (yes, some of us have been through this multiple times). I’d always planned to write, though, and book publishing seemed to be a good place to hang out with writers. Still, I saw myself as a marketing guy. It wasn’t until that first editorial gig that I discovered how much I loved it.

I’ve had a wide variety of fascinating experiences as an editor over the years. Among my favorites were offering a few notes to an SF Grand Master and actually having him accept them, convincing a humorous fantasy writer to write a serious novel about her experiences as a nurse in Vietnam (another Nebula winner), and rolling up my sleeves to help a pop singer and his wife turn hundreds of pages of their notes into a moving and instructive memoir. Sometimes I felt as though I was truly making a difference, as in the time a suspense writer told me about the new novel he was planning concerning a man trying to understand why his daughter had killed herself. “What if she isn’t dead?” I said to him, and the entire book pivoted into something more ambitious and much more suspenseful at that moment. Other times, I’ve felt as though I’d be making a bigger contribution if I were cleaning the dishes, as in the time I had an “editorial conference” with two collaborators and could think of nothing to say as they brilliantly dissected their work. At others, I’ve felt like putting my head in a microwave, such as when I was trying to explain to a Hollywood wannabe why his novel needed massive revisions while he was “taking meetings” at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Writers fall loosely into three categories in terms of their relationships with their editors. One is the Feedback Junkie. Some writers simply crave constructive criticism so much that they make you feel inadequate when you run out of things to nitpick. Interestingly, these tend to be the writers whose work is cleanest when I first see it. Then there are the Emotional Cherry Bombs. These are writers who have an extreme reaction to any criticism, though the explosion usually does minimal damage and they usually see the logic of the comments in the end. I had a situation recently where a writer was close to tears about a minor point in his manuscript. When I said to him, “You did notice the first several paragraphs of my editorial letter where I told you how much I loved this novel, right?” it still took him ten minutes to calm down. He did, however, calm down. Then there are the writers who simply aren’t open to criticism. I had a conversation years ago with a hugely talented writer that began with his saying to me, “Lou, I appreciate all the publishing help you’re giving me, and I’d appreciate it if you kept your editorial advice to yourself.” We essentially talked about the weather after that.

Of course, the worst editorial job I ever did in my life was on my own manuscript. When I delivered my first novel to my editor, I assumed it was in pristine condition. After all, I’d won awards for my editorial work; of course I could edit myself. The editor sent me a nine page letter detailing the voluminous errors I’d made. After I groused to my wife for twenty minutes (yes, I’m one of those writers), I realized that nearly everything the editor said made sense. These days, I just assume I’m going to make significant mistakes in my work that others will need to catch. It hasn’t made me complacent, but it has made me much more open to the advice.

Thank you Lou for sharing your insight and experience. It certainly has been a pleasure being in contact with you and reading your heart warming and breaking novel. Blue Front Cover

Blue: a novel ~ by Lou Aronica

A tear inducing novel about family love and the methods we create when coping with a life threatening illness - in ourselves, and in those we love most.

For more information on Blue – please see our 4 star review.   US|UK|Canada; Paperback: 400 pages; The Fiction Studio (January 16, 2011)

For more information on the book and about the author please see our Preview for Blue.

the healers war

The Healer's War ~ by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and edited by Lou. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1989.

A realistic fantasy novel set in Vietnam during the ill fated war against communism. With a touch of the magical/paranormal it shows a realistic, difficult, and heartbreaking picture of Vietnam from the perspective of a female veteran of the war.

Amazon links US|UK|Canada; Link here to review by Layers of Thought.

Do you recognize any of the other books or author’s Lou has mentioned in his post above?

Editing Giveaway:

Lou has offered to edit one winner's short story or synopsis (up to twenty double-spaced pages). 


  • You do not need to be a follower to enter. Everyone gets 1 point.
  • Do you follow Layers of Thought? 1 extra point.
  • If you are a long term follower on Layers of Thought prior to this giveaway, you get 1 more point.
  • If you are a frequent commenter you also get 1 extra point
  • Our sneaky plan ~ if you follow (and better yet comment regularly), you are entitled to special privileges!

Please fill out the form below (note - if you are viewing this post via email or in a reader, the form may only be accessible via the blog).



Good luck and thanks for entering! 


logankstewart said...

Sweet! I'm in.

Unknown said...

Yeah Team Logan!

If you win can I request interview and brain picking rights? :)

Short Story Slore said...

Love this giveaway!

logankstewart said...

Sure thing. It could be crazy, though. I make no promises of restraint.

Unknown said...

Excellent Ashley - I did not know you were a writer. Good luck!

Logan - sounds fun... restraint is over rated these days.

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