Thursday, January 31, 2013

Welcome Author Amalie Berlin

Please help me welcome Amalie Berlin, who begins the So You Think You Can Write guest blog series on 1-31. A number palindrome as she noted, and a great time to begin.

I met Amalie on the Harlequin Board and I'm in awe of her quick and sharp wit. She is a true character, and her SYTYCW entry is under consideration and undergoing revisions with an editor for the Medical Romance line.

Hi, Amalie. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Overall, how would you rate your experience with So You think You Can Write Global 2012?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd probably give it a 8. The comments section which motivated a daily log on for the New Voices contests provided measurable feedback for most entrants, not just the ones who advanced past the first round. That was a big let down for past NV entrants stepping up to the new contest format.

With SYTYCW, my experience is limited. I spent the duration of the judging phase writing, since I entered with maybe two chapters done. I didn't read and critique as I had in New Voices, I didn't have time, and chasing people down on Twitter or FB made it seem too personal to give honest critique. I really don't know what the quality of the entries was like, I read so little. In that regard, which is the big draw for 90% of the entries, I felt it fell short.

But I finished the mss in record time and got a full request, and with that how can I not give it high marks?

I agree! We were required to upload the first chapter as our entry in SYTYCW. Is that chapter still in its original form or has it gone through more revisions?

My entered chapter 1 and current chapter 1 are vastly different. I ended up sending the first half of the manuscript for a read and got revision notes back on that while I was revising the second half. So I cut at least half the original and took chunks from chapter two, and combined them. And I've tweaked it again since then, when second round revisions came in.

How about the rest of the book? Is it finished? Going through more revisions?

Finished is such a final word :D I don't know. I turned in version 2.0... 2.5? Thursday night(24th) and I'm moving on for now. If she wants me to revise again, I will. I will do it and be happy to have the chance, and maybe cry a little because ... Revisions are Epic-Hard. It's a little like taking apart a puzzle and then trying to make those pieces fit in a new puzzle, matching both style and image. Hard, man. And since I'm sharing this with everyone, linking to the screenshots I put up with Track Changes on to show how it changed(Here).

But I'm learning a lot, and I feel like it will make the process easier next time around, knowing better what they want from the start. She was nice enough to tell me that if I didn't get the story nailed this time, she'd send me more notes. Took some of the pressure off, because the whole time I've been working on them, those doubt crows kept chanting THIS IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE, DON'T MESS UP. Nasty things.

Any thoughts on submitting your entry to another publisher or agent?

I have thought about it, actually. I've done a little leg-work on Friday regarding to it. Started sleuthing out agencies who have category romance writers, and asked an agent what the protocol was on querying agents with a manuscript already under consideration with a publisher. He said GO FOR IT. I'm making a database of where different category romance writers are represented. It's a work in progress, but I'm happy to share if anyone is agent-shopping. Give me a week and it will be bigger :D If my SYTYCW entry is eventually rejected, I will submit it to another publisher.

I hope one way or another I get to see it in my hot little hands someday soon. How long have you been writing?

With an eye toward publishing: three years. Just for fun: about 15 years.

Have you ever entered a contest like this one before?

Yep, entered New Voices both years, and the first SYTYCW, but didn't get anywhere with any of them.

What are your thoughts about the promotional aspect of the contest?

I didn't particularly enjoy that aspect. And I'll play my answer close to the vest there. I am very curious about the top three, and whether they were the three wildcards picked by the Editors or if any of the three got there through the popular vote.

Amalie, you are certainly not the only one curious about that! If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently, if anything?

(If I knew then... What I'd do differently involves my chapter. AKA: STUFF I LEARNED FROM REVISION LETTERS)

• Make sure that the conflict and motivation of the Hero and Heroine were at least strongly hinted at in the first couple pages if not bluntly stated.

• Sometimes you have to TELL, not show.

• Be more conscious of pacing--just because something is interesting to me doesn't mean it will be to other people.

• End of chapter cliffhangers are awesome, but the best kind of EoC cliffhanger is one that deals with emotional story line and not external story

• I have a tendency to create tight-lipped heroines. This is hard to pull off, and works better with heroes :) Too reticent to talk about her past/feelings makes it harder for the reader to connect with her and for the story to move forward at a steady pace.

Sound like you need a little dose of my heroines, who can't stop blabbering. But seriously, you've given out some great advice and pointers. What are you working on now?

I'm taking a couple days off writing to make stuff with my hands. But, I have printed my novella to edit that, and I have a contemporary romance(not medical) I need to get back to. There's also another of my medicals with HMB, but it probably needs more work than MM:MD :D I'm not in a hurry to chase that one down.

Where can we find you on the Web?

Twitter: @AmalieBerlin (I mostly lurk and read there)



email: amalieberlin at gmail dot com Thank you, Amalie!


  1. You have some great advice for struggling writers trying to break into Harlequin Headquarters. Apparently, contrary to rumor, there is no secret handshake involved [wink].
    Thanks for being here today.

    1. Thanks for having me! So strange to see my big head on a web page. :)

  2. Great interview!!! Amalie I'm so excited for you. I'm anxiously awaiting news of your sale party so I can read your medicals. You got me hooked and now I want more.

    Maria, there's no secret handshake, more like a wink, a nudge and a how-to manual. LOL. Just joking. Honest. ;-)

    1. Thanks Jennifer :) I'm looking forward to reading yours!

      Got my fingers crossed on these revisions, but they took longer than I wanted. Like, a week longer than I wanted. Now I'm all... arm-flaily about not having had them done sooner LOL. If there is a way to find something to stress about, I will find it and then I will abuse it!

  3. Great interview! Loved the writing tips!:)

    1. Thanks Arsoleen! I'm sure they are out there somewhere, in craftbook land, but they didn't really settle in for me until I had to learn them the hard way.

  4. Great to get your POV (note authorly terminology) on the SYTYCW process. Sounds like you are really liking the help from the editor. In terms of improving the MS rather than the actual editing. ;-].
    Well done.

    1. I really am liking the help from the editor. I tell myself that it will make me make fewer of these sorts of mistakes for the project I'm digging into. I'm not sure that's true, but I like to think it.

      During my own revision process, pre-submission, I have changed smaller things--a medium chunk here and there, and then polishing. This was more like ripping it all apart, throwing away 1/3 of it, and reworking like... 80% of the remaining 2/3. Totally understand why they say that revisions is where the real work begins.