Girls Write Out
Monday, January 30, 2006

AMI MCCONNELL,MASTER EDITOR FOR WESTBOW PRESS, THOMAS NELSON'S FICTION IMPRINT
The picture is of Ami (on left) with my daughter Kara at the 2004 RWA Conference when Without a Trace was up for a RITA.

Me, Kristin and Denise were at Mt Hermon in 2002 and some of the girls wanted to see the Oscars. We were the only ones with a TV, an advantage of being princesses and staying at the HIlton instead of the camp, so I offered our room. I had the fun of sitting on the bed beside Ami McConnell as we watched the show. I felt an immediate bond with her that has only strengthened over time. She's beautiful, fun, witty, incredibly smart and totally dedicated. I've had the privilege of working with Ami for the past three years, and every day has been a joy. Ami has an almost uncanny ability to see the skeleton of a story and where bones are missing, as well as an unfailing eye for character. She and my other "family" at WestBow really helped me understand how important branding is, and I'm a big believer in it now. She's helped me grow as a writer, and has been a friend through thick and thin.

She is the busy mom of Max, Maddie Beth, and Mimi, and if ever there was a supermom, it's Ami. She and Aaron have done a wonderful job with their. My buddy Max is the neatest kid, and I adore her girls as well.

Ami has a great grasp of the industry so I recently asked her some question. Here we go!

1. IS EDITING JUST A LEAP INTO THE WRITING WORLD? WOULDN'T YOU RATHER WRITE?
The good writers write because they must write. I don't feel that compulsion--that calling. What I do feel called to is what I do here at WestBow: helping writers realize their own artistic vision. Not my vision--their own.

COLLEEN HERE: Ami is a master at this. She pulls out stuff in my books that I didn't even consciously realize was there.

2. WHAT DO YOU PREFER TO SEE WHEN A SUBMISSION COMES ACROSS YOUR DESK: A REALLY GREAT VOICE OR AN AVERAGE STORY FROM AN AUTHOR WITH A MARKETING PLAN AND A SPEAKING PLATFORM? WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING?
You know, I really like to see a clear connection between the text and it's author--that is, I look for work that is a byproduct of the author's character. Many writers write "to" a particular market. More important to me is the answer to this question: Is the work representative of who that author is at his/her core?

3. WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF BEING AN EDITOR?
I believe that a novel isn't real until somebody reads it and connects with it--hears what it has to say. Kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit, you know? I love being one of the first people to "hear" what the novel says and having the priviledge of talking with the author about his/her intent and meaning. They choose every word, every scene, every chapter so carefully, with such intent. I love trying to unpack the meaning and puzzle of why they made those choices. It's a real trip.

4. WHAT'S THE WORST PART OF BEING AN EDITOR?
Saying "no" is the hardest part. You really put yourself out there when you're an artist and I know that--you're so vulnerable. So I have a sense of the impact it has when a manuscript we've been reviewing is turned down. It's crummy but it's an essential part of my work.

5. A SYNOPSIS SEEMS TO BE THE BANE OF THE WRITER--HOW NECESSARY ARE THEY?
Imagine if you were going to build a house and you'd be partnering with various and sundry contractors. It's not their project, but they can't help if you don't tell them what your plan is. That's how I envision a book process: it's the author's house, but I can't help if I don't know what the plan is.

6. WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?
Just finished A Man Called Cash by Steve Turner and now I'm reading his book Imagine because I was so impressed with the way he wrote the Cash book. I'm also reading Stories from the Blue Moon Cafe (McAdam/Cage Publishers)--you know how I adore southern fiction. Also I'm reading Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners, but I do so in doses--one essay at a stretch--because it effects me so deeply. And of course I have an unopened Real Simple magazine and a Costal Living magazine, too, which I will get to in good time. In the car I'm listening to the spoken word audio (ie, poetry set to music) of Minton Sparks called Sin Sick. Fantastic stuff.

7. WHAT ARE THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU LOOK FOR IN A MANUSCRIPT?
Does it feel authentic and true? Does it have something new to say or say it in a new way? Does the author seem to know where she/he is going and does she get there? Really, at the end of the day, I have to love the work because I'll have to live with it for a long time. So that's the real question: Do I love it?
Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:31 AM  
  Comments (17)
 
 
Delicious Delicious
17 Comments:
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Rhonda Gibson said...

Great interview!! Thanks Colleen for sharing it with us!

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Pammer said...

What great insight. Thanks to Colleen and Ami.

Hugs.

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Thank you, Ami, for being our guest! I concur with Colleen: you are one amazing editor!

 
At 9:42 PM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

Hi, Ami--aka Editor Extraordinaire!!! Welcome to our blog! Thanks for joining us!

Loved your explanation on the synopsis. Makes total sense.

Great interview!!


Di

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Robin Caroll said...

Thanks for being so open, Ami! UGH, I still detest the dreaded S word, even though you explained it so well! :)

Thanks, C!

 
At 11:23 AM, Blogger Cara Putman said...

Thanks for the insight on what an editor looks for when they see a manuscript. I love the idea of partnering with someone to make a book even better.

 
At 11:28 AM, Blogger Kristin Billerbeck said...

Thanks Ami, for visiting our blog. You just rock as an editor, and really, I've never seen anyone who takes a cerebral, analytical side to a book and makes it creatively better. She really is a rare breed, folks. I can't say enough good things about her editing!

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Sabrina L. Fox said...

Okay, now that we all want Ami as our editor...LOL

This was great insight. I've often wondered how editors feel about very well written stories that aren't that exciting, or a story that needs some polish, but is a great concept.

Thanks, Colleen, for doing this.

 
At 2:12 PM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...

Thanks for sharing Colleen and Ami. My experience with Ami so far has been incredibly encouraging.

The praise about her is true.

Rachel

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous julie said...

I'm just intrigued that you all stole away to the Hilton to watch the Oscars! I'm heading up to Mt. H again this year, and had already begun feeling sheepish about my decision to bring along a portable DVD player for the first time :-)

Thanks for the cool interview, by the way!

www.juliecarobini.com

 
At 8:22 PM, Blogger Kristin Billerbeck said...

Julie brings up an interesting point. We went this summer to a dude ranch, that thought being without creature comforts was cute. Maybe Mt. Hermon should start advertising come and live like the Amish -- since Beverly Lewis' series is so popular. : )

I personally find it cute when the Starbucks line is short.

 
At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Mike Ehret said...

Colleen: Looking forward to more of this series. Very interesting and instructive.

Now about this Mt. Hermon thing and living like the Amish...I would like to go to Mt. Hermon, sometime, but Mikey don't do Amish.

Like I've always told my wife, Holiday Inn Express is roughing it! So, what's the scoop? MH doesn't have you sleeping in tents, do they?

And Kris, how far is that Starbucks?

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Kristin Billerbeck said...

Mt Hermon is roughing it, a bit. Although, I don't speak from experience because I've never actually stayed there. Over the hill in Los Gatos, is the world's best coffee. I have it shipped here to Auburn, Colleen to Indiana. There's a Starbucks about ten minutes from Mt. Hermon. It is on the way from the Hilton which is about 13 minutes from Mt. Hermon, and very nice.

BUT, you don't get the full Mt. Hermon experience I've been told, so what do I know?

 
At 2:35 PM, Anonymous julie carobini said...

Lots of laughter here. Yes, yes, I agree that Mt. H is kind of roughing it, although I've been known to shell out the extra bucks for a deluxe room :-) You get carpet with that, you know! Seriously though, it's my favorite writer's conference. I've made a ton of friends there and received so many cool assignments. And you can't beat the beauty of the place--trees everywhere! Can't recommend it enough (although the coffee could be so much better :-)
www.juliecarobini.com

 
At 4:30 PM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Thanks, Colleen, for interviewing Ami. And thanks, Ami, for the insight. It's making me do some deep thinking.

 
At 10:59 PM, Blogger Camy Tang said...

Wow, thanks Colleen and Ami! That's a fabulous interview.
Camy

 
At 11:41 PM, Blogger Paula said...

Wonderful interview. Thanks!

 

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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

www.KristinBillerbeck.com

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

www.ColleenCoble.com

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

www.DeniseHunterBooks.com

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

www.DiannHunt.com

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

www.HannahAlexander.com

 
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