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 Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Sharon Huss Roat here with a guest post and a giveaway of her YA contemporary BETWEEN THE NOTES.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.

And it isn’t pretty.

Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

As things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some unlikely new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. She may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

Debut author Sharon Huss Roat crafts a charming and timely story of what happens when life as you know it flips completely upside down.

So here's Sharon!

My Editor Made Me Do It: Three Character-Building Revision Tips

I’m thrilled to be guest-posting on Literary Rambles today! Since Natalie invited me to write about the editorial process, I thought I’d share a few of the actual revisions my editor asked me to make. (A peak behind the curtain!) These aren’t necessarily the most significant changes I made, but they all helped me write deeper, more developed characters.

1) Turning Two Characters Into One

It happened during my second round of developmental edits with my editor, Karen Chaplin, at HarperCollins. She asked me to do the unthinkable: turn two beloved characters into a single person.

Whaaaat? My initial reaction was one of strong resistance. These two characters—new friends of
protagonist Ivy—were so different. One was quirky, awkward and shy. The other was wry, snarky, badass. I couldn’t imagine merging them into one person! But Karen convinced me to try. On their own, the two characters had needed a lot more development. It would’ve been difficult to devote the extra scene time necessary to accomplish that with both of them. But combined? They became a more complex character with greater depth and a more important role in the story.

2) Throwing a Pity Party

I was so worried about making Ivy likable, I hesitated to let her react fully to her circumstances. I didn’t want her to seem bratty or whiny. What I didn’t realize, though, was that Ivy (and her story) needed this authentic and relatable teen moment. Her world had just turned upside down. My editor encouraged me to let her throw a fit, to feel her “poor me” moment.

Will some readers think Ivy’s a brat because of it? Perhaps. And that’s okay, because it’s true. She isn’t perfect, and she reacted to a crappy situation as any teen might: badly. The scene ultimately became an important turning point for Ivy, as she recognizes how her circumstances are affecting everyone in her family—not just herself. She had to have that bratty moment to move beyond it!

3) Avoiding Caricatures

Every school has its mean girls, and my manuscript did, too. Karen encouraged me to give them more depth and development, so they wouldn’t feel like caricatures. I did so by looking beyond their shallow and materialistic behavior to what made them so. I explored their relationships with their parents. They were spoiled, for sure. But also somewhat neglected. One was essentially raised by her “Nanny du jour” and the other was a product of her mother’s obsession with appearances. Weaving in these little bits of backstory along with a few moments of vulnerability helped turn my two stereotypical mean girls into something a little bit more.

Thanks for the great tips, Sharon. You can find Sharon at:

Sharon has generous offered a copy of BETWEEN THE NOTES for a giveaway. To enter, you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 23rd. I’ll announce the winner on May 27th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for US and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday, I have a guest post by debut author Holly Bodger and her agent Lauren MacLeod and a query critique giveaway and a giveaway of Holly's YA futurist, multicultural story 5 to 1.

I'll be off the following Monday for Memorial Day.

Wednesday that week I have a guest post by Elizabeth Varden and a giveaway of her new MG mystery IMOGENE AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING PEARLS.

I'll be off on Monday June 1st to get ready for my daughter's graduation.

Monday, June 8th, I'll have an interview with debut author Sarah McGuire and a giveaway of her MG fairytale retelling VALIANT.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Beth said...

Congratulations, Sharon! This book sounds charming, and I enjoyed reading about your editorial process.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Sharon! Given Ivy's situation, I don't blame her for throwing a fit and having a pity party. It's hard to give up the nicer things. Great tips on further developing characters.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations on your debut, Sharon! It's finally almost here!

Editors do ask us to make difficult changes, but I have never yet made a change I regretted in the course of 5 books so far!

Leave me out of the running for a free book, please. I'll be picking up my copy at Sharon's release party next month. :)

Liz Brooks said...

Oooh, that cover is gorgeous!!! Even if I knew nothing about that book, I would probably buy it just because of the cover. And those three bits of revision advice are great--I'll definitely keep them in mind as I edit my own books. Thanks for sharing! (I tweeted about the giveaway @adelethelaptop.)

Brenda said...

Love the colors of the cover. I enjoy complex characters, so this sounds very interesting. Congratulations on your debut! Have a wonderful weekend Natalie.

Stephen Tremp said...

It's great to meet Sherry! Combining two characters? That thought never occurred to me. I would need serious help from my editor. Congrats! and good luck with Between The notes. I'll check out your social media links.

sharonwrote said...

Thank you, Beth!

sharonwrote said...

My editor hasn't steered me wrong yet...

And I'm so glad you'll be at my release party!

Kristin Lenz said...

I needed to read this today, especially #1. My agent asked me to eliminate two characters and drastically change the story line of another. For the same reasons that Sharon said - the two characters required extra scenes to make them fully developed and there simply wasn't room for them. Thanks so much!

M Pax said...

I replaced a character in a novel based on comments from my editor. She said, "But I didn't say that." I said, "That's how my brain interpreted. Sucky character = replace with the one you liked better."

Susan T. said...

I really love the cover of this book! It sounds like a great summer read for those of us going through some life changes.
My tweet: https://twitter.com/suekitty13/status/598600884898144256

dolorah said...

Wow, bet that was a lot of rewriting to turn two characters into one. I can see how it might give a more developed character though.

DMS said...

Sounds like Sharon's editor had tips that really made a difference. It is amazing how writers can take the advice and run with it. Wishing Sharon the best of luck!

Unknown said...

Sharon did a great job of letting us on the "inside" of the agent and publication process. Her book sounds very emotional. Wishing her much success! :)

Unknown said...

I follow on Bloglovin, im josy15love.
email: josy15love(at)gmail(dot)com
i shared this on twitter: https://twitter.com/CarlineSmith5/status/598663465239060480

brazenlittlething said...

Congratulations on your debut! Love the cover :)

iLuvReadingTooMuch said...

Thanks for the great giveaway– I can’t wait to read this one! :D

GFC: iLuvReadingTooMuch

iliveforreading AT hotmail DOT com

Ann Finkelstein said...

I'm looking forward to reading Between the Notes. Thanks for the writing tips. Congratulations, Sharon.

Anita Saxena said...

Congratulations on your debut! Love the cover. Looking forward to reading!

Productofanillusion at gmail dot com

E.G. Moore said...

Sharon, I can totally related to the scary concept of combining two characters. Congrats on your novel.

emilygmoorewriter @ yahoo

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations, Sharon! What a tough thing to do to combine two characters, but I'm happy it worked out. Thanks for the tips!

Rosi said...

Gosh, these are really great tips. Thanks for sharing them here, Sharon. Congrats on your book. It sounds like a must read to me.

Valerie Bodden said...

Congratulations on your debut, Sharon, and thanks for the insights--and the giveaway! Sounds like a great read! valbodden(at)gmail(dot)com

Unknown said...

This sounds really good and thanks for the great tips and giveaway!

Jenni said...

This book sounds really good. I could totally relate to this character just from the synopsis--and I love that she's a musician! Congrats, Sharon!
These insider tips are wonderful--thank you!

sharonwrote said...

Thank you all for the kind words!

Carl Scott said...

This sounds like a wonderful story of self-discovery and personal strength. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
I follow your blog by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
+1 - I also tweeeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/599277667934842880

Anonymous said...

This cover is gorgeous. Thank you for the giveaway!

Unknown said...

I'm really intrigued by the synopsis! It seems really interesting, and I have a soft spot for books which feature music! I'm also glad that the author took some time to give depth to the mean girls in her novels! It's really rare to come across a book where they're not just represented as shallow rich girls who are portrayed like this because it's instrumental to the story!


Anonymous said...

Teens do react badly. I think it's okay to have ugly moments, especially in the beginning before the character changes. I like to add dimension to my bad guy/mean girl characters. Thank you for the giveaway.

Heather said...

I love how unique this sounds, made me want to pick it up right away. Congrats to Sharon!

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, I love the advice about avoiding caricatures!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congratulations Sharon. Between the Notes sounds super. Love the cover and the title :)

Kimberly V said...

I would love to read this.

Meredith said...

I love the character building tips.
meredithfl at gmail dot com

Suzanne Warr said...

These are fantastic editorial notes--thank you for sharing, Natalie and Sharon!