Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Hello Dear Readers,

Publishing a book (in e-format or otherwise) brings an interesting dilemma to the forefront: who do you dedicate it to?

Lost is not a new book. It’s had a long, long journey. It began its life as In the Valley of the Shadow, a 500 page, single-spaced monstrosity that I wrote for a college assignment. It had too many characters and a completely inconceivable plot. Would you believe a nurse who was also a Satanic high priestess and a cop who ran around in a cape as the Avenging Angel in his spare time? Oh, brother. At least a dozen children were kidnapped during the course of the story (by the rampaging Satanic cult, of course). A classmate asked to read the manuscript, and his first question was, “Where is the FBI?” Uh-oh. Can you say “massive rewrite”?  (For those of you who don’t know, the FBI has jurisdiction over kidnappings in the United States. I did know this, but it must have slipped my mind.)

Valley ended up in a landfill, I’m relieved to say. There was too much wrong with it. But not everything was unsalvageable. What if just one child went missing? What if the teenagers weren’t cult members, but normal youth, subject to peer pressure, substance abuse, and perhaps an underdeveloped sense of right and wrong? What if their leader, admired and feared in equal measure, was a really bad guy? I scrapped the cults and the cape, and ended up with a much better story. It had a title I loved: When Demons Wear Shoes. The agents I spoke to loved it, too, until another book was published. You may have heard of it. It’s called The Devil Wears Prada.

My former classmate was the first to read this new incarnation, and subsequent drafts. As always, his eye for detail was a saving grace. He didn’t call me on misused semi-colons, or sentence fragments–he’s not that kind of editor. Jeff will notice when a character is suddenly inconsistent, or when a paragraph is less than my best. He’s not shy about telling me when I can do better, and sometimes, he’s made me cry from sheer frustration. But through him, my characters have come alive. Through him, I’ve learned that settings should always tell you something about the characters. I have become a better writer thanks to him, and I can’t imagine writing a book without his guidance (I hope I never have to).

Through all the titles and incarnations this book has gone through, and there were many (Among Demons, It Springs Eternal), it has been dedicated to Jeff, and understandably so. Here comes the tricky part:

Writer and editor fall in love. Writer and editor move in together, and get engaged after five and a half years. After a lot of soul-searching and many tears, writer and editor part ways, amicably. Editor meets new woman and falls in love. He marries, and they have a child. Writer falls in love, too, and her new partner moves in. New partner is a self-proclaimed “English geek”. He loves her work, and is highly supportive. He uses his red pen to make Lost better. He is the other side of the editing coin–he does call the writer on misused semi-colons and sentence fragments, and he catches typos. He is the one who does all the work to get the book published electronically, and his love, support, and encouragement sustains the writer on a daily basis.

So who do I dedicate the book to?

To me, it was a no-brainer. This book is dedicated to The Boy, but my long-time editor comes first on the thank you page.

How about you, Dear Readers? Who have you (or would you) dedicate your novel to? Is it a tough decision? Do you think I did the right thing?

Thanks for reading!
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  1. Chris

    Personally, I think a dedication should go to someone who helped make the book possible in some large and tangible way. I’d say the guy who helped epublish it gets the thank-you, and the guy who helped make the book what it is deserves the dedication.

  2. Story Teller

    Your position has been duly noted, Chris. 🙂 And “the guy who helped epublish it” has done a lot more than that, as you well know.

  3. Sherry

    I think that all books should be dedicated to the muse who inspires it. In my case, it would have to be my cats….:)

  4. Story Teller

    Hi Sherry,

    Good point, but that’s tricky with such an old book. I’ve been through many relationships in the course of Lost’s lifespan!

    That’s why I decided to dedicate it to the person who inspires me today. 🙂

    Thanks so much for your comment. And my next book is definitely dedicated to Chloe!

  5. Ev Bishop

    What a dilemma! Your choice, however, seems sound to me. 🙂

  6. Story Teller

    Thanks, Ev. I think so, too, although I still have to defend it now and then. (The Boy is so modest!)


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