February 04, 2013

Guest Post by Author Karen Bynum: On Publishing WITCH WAY TO TURN

Hi Sara! Thanks so much for inviting me! *smiles and waves*

Witch Way to Turn all began in July 2010 after the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference in Orlando, FL. I couldn’t get this chick’s voice out of my head. I knew her name immediately (Breena), even though her last name went through several different versions before I was compelled (vampire humor) to use Cross. She wouldn’t stop telling me about these two guys who were vying for her attention and the love she had for her precious foster sister.

Breena and I share several things… One, our love of food, especially gravy biscuits. Two, we both grew up in small towns, Breena’s hometown being only ten minutes from my own real one in North Carolina. And three, the desire to have something that was so close but yet so far away. Breena’s desire was custody of her seven-year-old foster sister. Mine was to have Breena’s story published. I wanted with ever fiber of my being for her story to be read. Yes, Breena has her flaws. Who doesn’t? But she strived to better herself by cleaning up her foul language, attending college and controlling the darkness inside of her.

Witch Way to Turn has been a labor of love. When I got home from the RWA conference, I immediately started writing Breena’s story. I couldn’t stop. I thought about her day and night. I wrote day and night. While working my full-time job, I completed Witch Way to Turn in only three months. I actually wrote the end on Breena’s birthday, October 30th. Now, the end wasn’t really the end…actually, that’s when the real work began. I’d written Witch Way to Turn in the first person point-of-view as a young adult novel. Well, that just wasn’t working. I’d gotten many requests for it, which ended in just as many rejections. I couldn’t understand why. Agents and editors alike enjoyed my voice, but something didn’t click. The issues that I’d written about in this story dealt heavily with sex and abuse, which didn’t go over well in the young adult genre. At one point, an editor asked me if I’d read very many young adult novels and at the time, sadly, I hadn’t. One of my readers said it was like watching a train wreck, she just couldn’t look away. I was grateful for her comments, and I knew something big had to change.

So I rewrote Witch Way to Turn as an adult novel and upped Breena’s age from eighteen to twenty-one but kept it in the first person point-of-view. Still requests came in and so did the rejections. I became seriously frustrated. What was I doing wrong? No one could tell me and obviously, I couldn’t see it. How could I grasp so many straws only to have them slip through my fingers? It wasn’t until a lovely author friend read Witch Way to Turn and gave me her brutally honest opinion. Her feedback was invaluable. I knew how to fix my story.

So I took a break from querying in order to do a third complete rewrite. I changed Witch Way to Turn back into a young adult novel and switched it to third person point-of-view. This made all the difference. By telling Breena’s story in the third person, I was able to add in the points of view for the two heroes. It was long overdue. Myles and Orin both had been talking to me too. They wanted to be heard. Needed to be heard. I can’t wait for you to meet them. Both boys are unique and wonderfully flawed, but they each meet specific needs in Breena’s life. Too bad she can’t have them both!

Now that Witch Way to Turn was as polished as I could get it and all the voices in my head were on the page, I began querying again. I’d heard great things about Lyrical Press, but I knew they didn’t publish the young adult genre. Even so, Breena was eighteen and I thought, what would it hurt to ask if they might be interested. I emailed to see if they would accept a submission for a work with an eighteen-year-old heroine. They said, yes, as long as it fell into one of their current genres they published. It did. I got my manuscript and synopsis ready and queried.

Even though I’d finished writing Witch Way to Turn in October of 2010, it wasn’t until December 19th of 2011 that I received the most exciting news. I could hardly believe it. When I saw a contract from Lyrical Press waiting for me in my inbox, I thought it was a mistake. I immediately sent it to my husband to review. I was bouncing up and down waiting for him to finish reading it. When he did and said it was for real, I ran through the house screaming. Yes, true story. I was so excited. Breena would finally have her story told.

So what’s next for me? Well, glad you asked. :) I just finished writing something that was completely different for me, and I am so proud of it! The title of this one is Becoming. It’s a cursed dragon shifter story that pushes the envelope. Big time. I haven’t seen or heard about anything like it before, and I am so excited to start querying it to agents. Currently, it’s with my editor, who loved it! Squee! I plan to pitch it at RT Booklovers convention in April and then at RWA in July.

As I wait for the edits to come back on Becoming, I’m working hard on revisions for the second book in the Witch Way series. Also, I have a demon-slaying unicorn manuscript (Running From Shadows) out on submission to an agent and a publishing house. *fingers crossed* And just this week, I’ve been kidnapped! Yes, that’s right, you read correctly…kidnapped…by the gremlin-slayer herself. Liza O’Connor. If you’d like to check it out, this is the link.

Thanks so much for hosting me on your site, Sara!! Blood, She Read is definitely on my Goodreads TBR list!!

And now…

Where to stalk—uh—find me! *winks*

Can you give one guy your heart and another your soul? The last thing eighteen-year-old Breena Cross needs in her life is more complications. It's all she can do to balance studying, working, trying to keep her foster-sister safe and drooling over the new guy at work. But things go from complicated to crazy when a fit of rage ignites the dark magic inside her and she finds herself fending off the supernatural underworld. Myles, Breena's drool-worthy coworker and vampire convict, is carrying a load of secrets--one of which is that he's fang-over-lip in love with Breena and in danger of violating the terms of his sentence. Orin is a soul-hungry assassin sent to kill Breena. However, he takes one look into her eyes and sees his own lost humanity. For once thinking of someone other than himself, he chooses not to end her life, even though it means risking his own. Despite a convict and an assassin fighting over her, all Breena wants is custody of her sister. But to do this, she will need help from both Myles and Orin. And if Breena doesn't learn to control the darkness within, she could lose her sister...forever. WARNING: Contains strong language and some graphic content.