I both dread and desire content editing. I'd love to believe my writing is good enough as it is, but I don't know what I don't know. In other words, there comes a time when my own editing isn't enough. Someone can come in from the outside and point out the obvious.

Most people are leery of doing this, even people I pay. Line editing and copy editing they're comfortable with, but telling me my character sucks or the plot isn't believable or I've wasted too much time on a subplot--or any other major change--most people avoid, no matter how often I tell them to let me have it.

I've had friends who've held my feet to the fire. Bren was pretty good about "Led to the Slaughter" and "The Dead Spend No Gold." She was also pretty hard on "Faerylander," to the point where it has never been published. That's the danger in asking for the truth--that I become so discouraged that I never do get around to finishing.

Lara, my main editor, has always been good about the general consistency of the book, but I think she has avoided, "This sucks, do it different" sorts of messages. Which I think was appropriate to what I asked her to do.

Dave has been pretty honest about "Deadfall Ridge."

In every case, it improves the book.

But for most of my books, they were published pretty much the way I wrote them, which of course I love--except for the nagging suspicion that I might have missed something that would have improved them.

If the word of mouth never really takes off, then to my mind, I obviously did miss something.

I've always had this feeling that I've somehow come up a little short.

So the experience with "Snaked" has been interesting. When I wrote the first draft, I thought it was the best thing I'd ever done. I still do, pretty much. But Geoff turned it down because I had dropped the black snakes too much.

Went back and added 4 chapters of black snakes and it was instantly clear to me that the book was improved. Geoff accepted it.

Now, AJ, the editor-in-chief at Cohesion is holding my feet to the fire, and in almost every case, I can see that she's right.

Demanding more a reaction to events (one of my weak spots--something weird happens and my characters don't respond strongly), asking that a character not do a terrible thing, asking that another character be stronger, more snakes! bigger snakes! keeping the tension of the snake plague and tsunami, and so on. All valid critiques which I've tried to address one by one.

And I can see it shaping up.

The one thing I was leery of was changing a subplot, which I thought was the heart of the book. But when I got to the chapter AJ was referring to, it was instantly clear that I had indeed gone on and on to no effect and when I cut it by half, it read much better.

So as painful as this is, I can see the book shaping up to be a better book. I'll send it back to AJ, and she'll let me know if I addressed her concerns, and maybe, just maybe, I should hope she has more, because in the end, the quality of the book is what counts.