Sunday, March 8, 2015

 I am pleased to host one of my favorite historical authors today. Caroline Warfield's newest book, Dangerous Secrets will be available March 18, 2015. She's taken some time out from her busy schedule to discuss what happens after you write "The End" on your manuscript. 

After The End

One of the most satisfying moments known to man or woman is to honestly type The End at the bottom of a manuscript. The story has been told. The hero’s journey is complete. In a romance, happily has ensued forever after. The writer can sit back and bask in a job well done. Right? Wrong!

Ok, I can’t speak for all writers. Some may give birth to perfect works, each word a pearl, each semicolon correctly used.  Here’s what happens in my world.

1.     I put it aside. The first thing I need is distance so the glow of self-satisfaction has time to fade and I can face the thing with a clear head.
2.     I ask reliable, knowledgeable friends or followers to be “beta readers.” A beta reader is not a reviewer.  I don’t need love at this point. I want them to read for plot holes, plausibility, and inconsistencies. I’m hoping they find timeline issues and naming problems. If he is George on page eleven and Ernie on page seventy-three I need to know early.
3.     I internalize beta reader feedback and read it myself for plot. I am at precisely this stage for Dangerous Weakness, the third book in my Dangerous series. The timeline proved tricky since I was balancing story, 18th century travel, and a pregnancy.  Not only did I have to tweak time references in several scenes, I found that I needed three new scenes to bridge gaps. 

As an aside, I have a friend who never does steps two or three.  She plans her plot in such meticulous detail that it isn’t necessary. That isn’t my world. My characters frequently shanghai the plot early on. The “plan” needs to be flexible.

4.     Once the plot gels, I begin a scene-by-scene review. Does each scene move the story forward? Is there enough detail? Action? Conflict? Does it begin with interest and end with a hook? I heard one author call this the stage where you dress up the naked people in empty rooms. The purpose is to add richness and readability to the story. The writer has to give readers a reason to turn the page.
5.     Finally I review the work line by line, looking for typos, spelling errors, and punctuation. This is generally called a copy edit and, frankly, I’m not good at it. That leads to step six.
6.     I send it to an editor.  Luckily, Soul Mate Publishing has edited the books in the Dangerous series.  In spite of the effort I put in the editor still finds errors, corrects inconsistencies, and asks excellent questions. We finished Dangerous Secrets (out March 18) a short time ago. She pushed me to keep my narrator voice out of the book and to be certain about my historical research.  I love working with her.  A good editor is golden! If I were to publish a book independently I would have to pay a professional to edit it. I believe no writer can edit his or her own copy objectively.
7.     Now I’m done—except for the things I find or my readers find that I have to tweak before the digital version goes to print, or another edition comes out. One advantage of an independent publication is the writer can fix it on the fly.

I’m really done. Right? Wrong! What is the point of writing a book if no one know it exists.  The publisher will promote it on their Web site, and get it to reviewers, but the burden is on my to trumpet the books' existence on social media, in ads, to my hair cutter—you get it. I do that while working on the next book and planning the one after. A writer’s work is never done.

 But for the characters, The End is really the end. Right? Wrong.  My FB friend Jude Knight once wrote about why “the end” is really the beginning, but that’s a topic for another day.

Now I ask you, when you read a book can you tell any of this? Have you ever read a book you thought needed the kindness of an editor?

When a little brown wren of an Englishwoman bursts into Jamie Heyworth’s private Hell and asks for help he mistakes her for the black crow of death.  Why not? He fled to Rome and sits in despair with nothing left to sell and no reason to get up in the morning. Behind him lie disgrace, shame, and secrets he is desperate to keep.

Nora Haley comes to Rome at the bidding of her dying brother who has an unexpected legacy. Never in her sunniest dreams did Nora expect Robert to leave her a treasure, a tiny black-eyed niece with curly hair and warm hugs. Nora will do anything to keep her, even hire a shabby, drunken major as an interpreter.
Jamie Heyworth harbors secrets to protect his heart. Nora Haley fears deception will destroy everything she desires. Will love—and the truth—bind them both together?

Jamie translates for Nora during painful interview following the death of her brother:

 “What is it? I’ll do anything,” she said.
“Foolish woman. You would, too,” he growled. “She says you need a husband.”
“Husband?” The word hit Nora like a brick, driving the breath from her lungs.
The major continued speaking, “A husband would not only add countenance to your claim of making a home for Isabella, but a husband could also forbid travel to Turin. It’s unfair, but she is right.”
Nora snorted and sat down abruptly. “Nonsense. Who does she think I can find to marry me?” She looked up into his face, and what she saw there brought a lump to her throat.
“Me,” he said sadly. “She thinks you need to marry me."


Caroline Warfield sits at a desk surrounded by windows and dreams of stories to entertain her readers.  She has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, a network services manager, a conference speaker, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She is a traveler, a grandmother, and a writer of historical romance, enamored of owls, books, history, and beautiful gardens (but not the act of gardening). For more information, contact her here:


  1. Thanks, Becky, for bringing us Caroline's comments. Caroline, yours is such a smart process - a guide not only for authors who reach "The End" but also for beta readers. We want them to take a critical eye to the book, and giving them specific possible weaknesses to look for makes for better feedback. Best of Luck with Dangerous Secrets.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Gay, and for the kind words.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Gay. I think Caroline's comments make a lot of sense–not that I always follow them.

    1. Laughing! We all have our processes and our shortcuts, Becky.

  3. Love Caroline's comment about characters taking over the best-laid plot plans early on - that frequently happens to me! Wonderful interview.

  4. It never ends. It really never, ever, ends.

    1. No, it doesn't. And of SOMEbody absorbs your characters into, oh, I don't know, maybe a Facebook event, they take on a life of their own again.

    2. Yeah, I just hate when that happens! ;-)

  5. Thanks, Caroline! It's so reassuring to know that all the great stuff I read has been worked over so carefully -- I always assume that those pearls of prose drip perfectly formed from an author's pen, so I'm glad to know that's not the case!

    1. Ha! Do you really suppose **any** writers actually manage to drip the pearls precisely in place?

  6. Thanks everyone, for stopping by today. If you've read Caroline's first novel, you already know that her attention to detail results in a lovely book. As Sara Lee says, the pearls of prose drip from the author's pen, but only after many rewrites!

  7. Excellent post!Thanks for sharing, Caroline :)

  8. Hello Caroline ,
    I believe you are correct about it not being the end
    . For us readers if the book really grabbed us we will think about the main characters future and even the major and minor characters that helped the story along