Timmy: I thought SID was great. Cody has a way of drawing me into his stories and I loved the characters, but I was stuck on a few things.
Mel: I really loved it. In fact, at the point of submission for publication, I felt it was Cody’s best book yet. I think we both agreed after the first reading that the book needed more of Isidore’s viewpoint. I love his character but I just wanted to know more about how Isidore was feeling and what he was thinking.
Timmy: YES! I agree. I really wanted more of Isidore’s POV in the story too. I think all Cody’s books have such important meaning that it’s hard for me to label it his best book.
Mel: Well, we’ve talked about this before. When I say it is his best book, I mean that from a literary standpoint. The flow of the writing and the prose were just perfect.
Timmy: But he had to be careful. Too much of Isidore’s POV could have turned the book into something different—something very sad and dark. Seeing things from an abused person’s POV is very painful.
Mel: That’s true. I think Cody is very attuned to that. He wants us to see his characters’ suffering but at the same time, he shows us how they are gradually growing stronger.
Timmy: That was very important to me. It helped me relate, and helped me feel that I can get better because I could relate. It’s where the hope comes from.
Mel: Yes, exactly. I think that’s the message he wants readers to take away from his stories. So often in scenes, you would see Isidore thinking about the abuse he had been through and feeling like he wasn’t worthy of Declan’s love, but then his thoughts would shift to Declan and he would gather strength from Declan and he’d grow more hopeful.
Timmy: It’s great how Cody is able to do that. It feels so real to me because I have lived it. I get so mad when people say they believe Isidore is too dependent on Declan. I disagree. I thought he was a lot more independent than I was at that stage. It made me wonder… So what are these people saying about me?
Mel: As I’m reading his books, I often think about how powerfully his message must resonate with people who have lived through abuse. I think the ability to accept that help is what makes you stronger, don’t you? As you see that other people think you are worthy, you begin to see that you are too.
Timmy: At first, I was afraid to show how dependent I was. I was afraid it would show people they were wasting their time on me. I didn’t see what you guys saw in me. I still don’t fully.
Mel: I can see that. It’s like standing too close to a picture and trying to see the whole thing. If you’re standing with your nose to it, all you see is the part that is right in front of your eyes. Someone else standing away from you, can see the whole picture. Declan saw all of Isidore… so did Sorcha.
Cody: Exactly, Mel. One of the things I try to impress upon survivors is that it is normal to come away from it feeling like you’ve lived life under water. You’ve spent 100% of your time trying to be what your abuser wants in order to survive day-to-day, you can’t see anything else—including who you are. It’s important to find someone who supports you and shows you not only all the good things you are but also that there is so much to see and learn in the world.
Timmy: That’s how the book worked in my favor. I learned some of what you guys saw/see in me. Change of subject. I heard that Sorcha wasn’t her original name. Do you know about that, Mel?
Mel: Yes, I do. In the original manuscript, her name was Sheeva. Do you know why her name was changed?
Timmy: No! He doesn’t tell me the juicy gossip behind a book! Why did he change it?
Mel: Let’s ask him. I know we all want to know.
Cody: Sorcha, pronounced sorka, means ‘radiant’ in Gaelic. It’s also sometimes used as an Irish form of Sarah. It’s also a form of ‘fierce’ and means ‘you are brave.’
Mel: Sorcha is all those things. I think it’s fits her perfectly. Why did you pick Sheeva originally?
Cody: *snorts* Because I mispronounced Sadb. Thanks to Tara Rose—the Irish voice behind Quinn in Fairy—I learned that it’s pronounced ‘sigh-eve,’ not ‘sheeva.’ Upon suffering a life-altering moment over my epic blunder, I gathered my wits and tried to think of another name. I checked out Iúile, which is Julie in Gaelic—after Jules Lovestoread because she’s a funny mom like Sorcha is—but it would have been even less clear to readers. Gaelic is a tough language to read and pronounce. So Tara helped me come up with Sorcha. In fact, if it weren’t for her, I would have had to change Sorcha’s nationality and I couldn’t do that. I love Irish humor too much.
Timmy: I’m so adding that to this post!
Cody: *major eye-roll* You’re going to tell all my secrets, aren’t you.
Timmy: Heck, yeah!
Cody: *chuckles* Keep it up.
Mel: Hee hee. I was just going to say we should probs leave that out, but it’s too funny. #codyhumor. What about Jordan? Do you think he was added to late in the book?
Cody: I think Jordan is appears in keeping with Caleb’s story. I thought about bringing him in earlier but given the brief back-story between Declan and Jordan being together on the rugby team, I worried more about the pacing of Caleb’s story. Besides, we already had Mason and the three guys, evil Archer Williams and his snapping towels, and catty Jessica.
Timmy: I don’t think he came in too late. I liked the story. It flowed well.
Cody: Thanks, man.
Mel: I thought he was a nice happy surprise for Caleb. Here, Caleb was coming out and thought he wouldn’t have anyone to date, and… there is Jordan. So, do we talk about the conditional acceptance for publication? Where they stole Marie?
Cody: *groans* Yeah, we can.
Timmy: Go for it.
Cody: I got nasty comments from the submissions editors on SID. The word “hate” was used. Not constructive at all. I was scarred for life.
Mel: They were all over the place and Timmy and I know it was tough for you.
Cody: Dramatic. Way too dramatic. The comments were also contradictory. It’s important to understand that there are multiple submissions editors for each project and, though it’s a given that you’re sometimes going to receive contradictory comments, one tries to glean overriding themes, take from them, and consider how to make the story better. The unconstructive comments left me with no clear direction for the story, which frustrated me and left me disappointed. Worse yet, they wanted me to lose Marie, Isidore’s sister.
Mel: Definitely still not over the loss. #depressed
Cody: I suppose I could use her gig for a sequel if I were to write one.
Mel: Hahahahahahaha #SequelNoSequel
Cody: NO SEQUEL.
Timmy: YES SEQUEL!
Cody. NO NO NO! Not now.
Timmy: Think about it for the future? Maybe after Safe is expanded and Tharros?
Cody: Maybe. I’ll think about it.
Timmy: I’ll take it!
Mel: If there’s no sequel, then we never get Marie back! Talk about scarred for life!
Cody: Timmy, I think Mel might have a nervous breakdown here.
Timmy: We’ll take care of you, Mel! Cody! Bring back Marie!
Mel: I know I can count on you guys. Can we talk about her some more? You know I miss her. A LOT!
Timmy: I hate that she had to go. Why did we remove her, Cody?
Mel: I really loved the fact that Isidore had a sister. Someone for him to look out for, to take care of. He was so tender with her. He was such a good brother. And he needed a sibling he could love! I’m ruined!
Cody: Losing Marie crushed me too, Mel.
Mel: I was devastated. I just thought taking her out was going to leave such a huge hole in Isidore’s heart.
Cody: I was traumatized. I made a post about killing off characters on Facebook and tagged my publisher and editor. It was a bitter moment. No sweet. Just bitter.
Timmy: Why DID you remove her?
Cody: The submissions editors concluded that she served no purpose other than to show Isidore’s father was a bigger ass than he already was. My senior editor agreed.
Mel: I do have to admit Jean-Baptiste did a great job of being an ass.
Timmy: All on his OWN! We didn’t need to kill her off!
Mel: YES! I agree! EXACTLY, Timmy!
Cody: He did. I also think people lost sight of why Marie was included. Do you recall why she was there in the first instance? She was there because Isidore needed two things. He needed a direct connection to his mom after her death. And he needed to have someone to invest himself in, to care about, who was family. On her part, I wanted her to be the mystery “ah-ha!” person.
Mel: She was there to warn Isidore, too, wasn’t she? But why did she escape from the school… that’s what I’m trying to remember…
Cody: What do you mean, Mel? Why did Marie leave her facility in London?
Mel: Didn’t she run away for a reason… besides just to find Isidore?
Cody: Marie had invested her entire life in knowing about Isidore. Pictures of him were all over her walls and in her diaries. Marie was going to move to the States with them. She had a ticket and a passport.
Mel: That’s right! I remember now!
Cody: She also knew that the comtesse was dangerous. So, when Isidore’s mother was assassinated, she left her place, made her way to the states to protect Isidore. Hence, she was not the purported shooter of Caleb and Ethan in the tree house, but the protector.
Mel: Right. Makes me want to go back and read the original story again.
Cody: *nods* As the story stands now, Isidore has no natural family left.
Timmy: Luckily Isidore has a good family now. Who needs natural family when you have PEEPS!
Mel & Cody: *soft laughter*
Cody: Peeps are great, man. Everyone needs peeps.
Mel: I miss her, but you know, Cody stepped up to the plate. He gave Isidore someone to take care of in Caleb and I really liked the way that played out in the final version. I think having someone to care for was essential for Isidore’s growth. It gave him a purpose and helped him heal. Especially when Caleb was left all alone, abandoned by his family.
Timmy: It makes me so sad people will never get to read the original story. Don’t get me wrong. The Slaying Isidore’s Dragons that we are reading now is such a great book, but it is different from the original.
Timmy: Man, this is going to be a huge tease for readers.
Mel: Everyone’s going to want to read both versions.
Cody: Mel! It’s gone! SID is out! But Marie could be included in a sequel.
Timmy: I still have my copy, and did I just hear sequel.
Mel: Hahahahahahahaha! Timmy!!!!
Cody: Hahahahahahaha! Timmy’s going rogue and will pirate it.
Timmy: I would never!
Cody: LOL Pirate!
Mel: We know you wouldn’t.
Cody: We know you wouldn’t, buddy. We’re teasing you.
Mel: Me too… and I’ve read that version twice already. Can’t read it too many times.
Cody: NO! It’s gone! It’s dead! Timmy, what do you want to cover next?
Timmy: I want to talk about the idiot who said it wasn’t believable. Can we?
Mel: Hahahahahahha! Yes! You mean the nice idiot person.
Timmy: The one who lives in Sunshineville where nothing bad ever happens to kids. She pissed me off and SCARED me!
Cody: She was the one who purportedly worked for a suicide/emergency hotline for teens, I think.
Timmy: Yes, and that was the scary part! When I read SID everything feels so real to me, then some *insert bad word here* comes around and says it isn’t how we abused kids act!
Mel: I remember whom you’re talking about now. It was the suicide prevention person. And you’re right, it’s very scary that someone like that works in suicide prevention. That person was overlooking the obvious. Isidore had to be removed from his father’s home. He was in imminent danger of further abuse.
Cody: That’s addressed in the court hearing in the story.
Timmy: When I moved here, I looked for anyone who could make me feel safe AND I held on for dear life. The first month, Cody? You remember how hard it was for me if you weren’t around.
Cody: Very hard.
Timmy: Isidore would find his safe place with Declan and keep him close while still telling him “I don’t want to be any trouble for anyone.” (That was really me.)
Cody: The first year or two out of an abusive environment is very frightening. You can’t predict as you used to with your old expectations. The variables multiply exponentially and fear escalates exponentially. Fear becomes overriding terror.
Timmy: I think, besides the fact that the submissions editor was trying to make it an adult book, they know NOTHING about abused kids.
Cody: Well, but she’s running a hotline, so in my publisher’s eyes, she has credibility.
Timmy: That’s bullcrap! Why does that have to do with knowing what I go through every freakin’ day just to seem okay to everyone?
Mel: *nod* Very well said, Timmy.
Cody: *shrugs* It’s an example of a sub-editor believing they’re an authority on a subject when they have experience in a portion of it.
Mel: The other problem that I have with the sub-editor is that s/he is a so-called knowledgeable person. There are many reasons for people to contemplate suicide. It doesn’t mean the sub-editor has credible knowledge in the area of child abuse.
Cody: It’s important to note that, though I may discount a sub-editor’s comments, their opinions are no different from that of a beta reader. I take the information in, I look at it as objectively as I can, and see if I can glean even one small benefit for the story. If not, I toss the information. No harm, no foul, so long as my publisher isn’t making decisions based upon said sub-editor.
Timmy: So, let’s talk about what a freakin’ blow it was when we hear they didn’t want SID as it was written. They wanted to change SID! I still can’t believe it!
Mel: Oh, that they couldn’t accept it as it was? I couldn’t believe it. I was flabbergasted.
Cody: Well, they did want it, and that’s the important part. The primary problem was length. I need to write shorter books.
Timmy: I hated that you had to remove parts.
Mel: I just couldn’t believe it when they said they wanted it shortened by almost a third. I thought…. HOW???
Timmy: Really. I cried.
Cody: Well, hold on, guys. There are the publisher’s concerns based upon the sub-editors’ comments. There are my senior editor’s concerns. We want to explain that it became a two-step process.
Timmy: I DID agree we needed more of Isidore.
Mel: One of the things I love about Cody’s books is that he doesn’t care about length. He’s not finished until the story is complete told.
Cody: True, Mel.
Mel: I did like your senior editor’s reaction to the book much better. Still hated losing Marie, but I think she paid more respect to the book itself.
Timmy: Let’s be real here. Cody and Mel, name three of the most popular YA series or books right now—not LGBT.
Mel: I know. They’re all a gazillion pages long, so it’s not a valid argument that teens don’t like long books.
Timmy: Yes! We like STORY! The more, the better! Because we love all the emotions and love and all that stuff. She was looking to sell it to adults. Busy people who want to read a book in a weekend. Sometimes I think us kids have a better attention span than adults do.
Cody: *cracks up*
Mel: I think all devoted readers like more story… more world building… more depth. I think you’ve made a very valid point, Timmy. I suspect that all the sub-editors were adults. That’s not a good gauge for this target audience.
Cody: I agree, Timmy. Most people don’t realize that teens are more discriminatory than adults are. They are far harder to write for than adults!
Mel: That could be true, but I also think that many, many adult readers don’t mind spending a lot of time with one certain book if it’s a good book. And I agree, Cody. Teens are much more discriminatory.
Cody: It’s also a cost/benefit analysis. My books are so long they will not be translated or put to audio. Except for Bėnėdicte Girault’s translations of them into French.
Mel: We’ll get your stories the old-fashioned way, but I do wish they would translate your books so they are available to kids in the foreign markets. Abuse happens worldwide.
Timmy: Is audio something kids use? I’ve never heard of it before knowing you guys.
Mel: I think mostly adults in cars, Timmy. Sometimes people listen to books on long car rides or morning commutes. I don’t know… to me, it’s just not reading.
Timmy: Sigh… Back to this being about adults. Don’t get me wrong, they are important too because word of mouth travels. My new mom read Fairy and said it was a story that I should read. That was the best thing that has happened to me, so I see why it’s important, but we can’t make it all about the adults. Cody’s books are targeted for young adults!
Cody: *chuckles* Staunch advocate for teen readers, here.
Mel: Yes, and while we want everyone to read Cody’s books, I think kids need to read Cody’s books.
Timmy: There are also adult survivors of abuse who can find help in them too.
Mel: that’s true. Also, many adults read these books to find recommendations for their kids and grandkids. But the most important audience is teens and young adults.
Timmy: So, let’s talk about the cover. What a beautiful cover.
Mel: I love Reese Dante’s cover and, wow! What an experience it was to see it all come together.
Timmy: Right? That was so cool! And it’s funny because I didn’t like some of the choices Cody made, but it turned out awesome.
Mel: I never knew all the details involved in creating a cover. You don’t just go to the book cover story and say “I’ll take that one.”
Cody: It is an incredibly complicated process. Much more than meets the eye.
Mel: It really did turn out great and I was amazed at some of the details you picked apart that I never even noticed. You have a great eye for color and all the little background nuances. You’re very hands on with your covers.
Timmy: Me either! Like the runners! Who would have thought such a small detail would make such a huge difference? I thought Cody was being picky, but now I see the difference they made.
Cody: *laughs* I am picky.
Mel: Yes! I really liked how the necklace turned out in the final mock up. And I’m not just saying that because… Can I say that I didn’t like the original ring design so I made one for Cody to use?
Cody: LOL You rock, Mel! A memologist extraordinaire!
Timmy: I’m so glad Reese changed the necklace. It was so small! It didn’t fit at all. Looked like an ankle bracelet! And the ring being part of the print for the title. I loved that.
Mel: That was Cody’s idea. That eye for detail again. Do you remember the first cover option?
Timmy: Yes, the guy with his face tilted up.
Mel: Cody couldn’t find the face he liked for the cover so he opted for the head in hands pose.
Timmy: It changed everything, the whole mood of the cover was changed by that.
Mel: It really did and it was much more interesting. I think it set the mood for the book much better.
Cody: I have to interject something here. When we couldn’t find a model, Reese looked at some of the memes we had created and when she saw this one, she opted for the head in hands pose and found one that worked. She rocks like that. She really listens to authors. I can’t speak highly enough of her.
Mel: I will add that Cody is a great hair designer too. The hair changed a number of times until it was just right.
Timmy: I think that’s because he could see Isidore in his head and we couldn’t.
Mel: Exactly. I think Cody always knows how his characters look. You can tell by their descriptions.
Cody: I always see my characters in my mind. ALWAYS. If I can’t envision them, I can’t write them.
Mel: When I was doing the first reading, I logged all the descriptions of the characters as I read through… all scattered throughout and was amazed at how many details are revealed as you read.
Timmy: I have loved doing the book tour. I wish I had more time to be there for everything! I wanted to be the first to comment on all of them, but I didn’t make it. #ConspiracyAgainstTimmy
Cody: *cracks up* Do you think it’s a conspiracy, man? Could be after all that Isidore and Declan have been through.
Mel: The tour has been great fun. I am amazed at how much work goes into planning one. And soooo many posts!
Timmy: Yes! So many! I got lucky and got three posts. Four if you count the one I hijacked from Cody. Five if you count this one! Lucky me!
Cody: *bursts into laughter* Hijack away, buddy. I love writing them, but I need 48 hour days!
Mel: I love reading them. You always have such great background information and behind-the-scenes peeks at things. It’s almost as if you’re on a movie set. But OMG, just the task of coming up with so many topics. It’s mind-boggling. But it’s fun to delve into the details of the book to come up with topics that give the reader insight into the characters’ experiences, and a little more information on the topics covered in the book. So they are also very educational.
Timmy: I was so sad I missed the Facebook chat. Schoolwork sucks.
Cody: Anyone can go back and comment on it. Here’s the link.
Mel: Yay! Cody scores product placement!
Cody: What product placement?
Mel: Your Facebook chat.
Cody: I’m lost.
Mel: I thought that was a nice touch. Like the coca cola bottle on the counter in a film shot.
Cody: It’s taken me until I prepared this convo for this post to realize what you were talking about, Mel. You mean the Facebook Chat plug!
Mel: Yes! Oooops, my bad. Like the Diet Coke bottle on the kitchen counter.
Timmy: LMSO, Mel! But everyone will know I was DAYS late to the party. KK any final thoughts?
Cody: NO #SIDsequel! #SequelNOSequel!
Timmy: YES, SEQUEL!
Mel: Just that as much as I hated to lose Marie, I thought the final version of the book was wonderful. It was just amazing to watch Cody sculpt and craft this into such a beautiful story. It was like watching an artist painting a masterpiece.
Timmy: Yeah. You, out there! Read this book!
Cody: *chuckles* Truthfully, I was within a hair’s breadth of not resubmitting Slaying Isidore’s Dragons. If it weren’t for you two riding me as if I were an ent from LOTR, and my senior editor, I wouldn’t have resubmitted it. True story. Getting it to publication was tough, man, and you guys made all the difference in the world. That’s why you’re in the acknowledgments.
Thanks for joining me, Mel, and Timmy for the Making of Slaying Isidore’s Dragons! Between now and April 25th follow Slaying Isidore’s Dragons’ book tour! See you back here next month, on Sunday, May 17th!
Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.
Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed. Read Chapter One of Slaying Isidore’s Dragons
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Όμορφη. Ómorphi. Greek. Meaning pretty
Pretty. adj. /pritē/ Pleasing by delicacy or grace
High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy’s boyfriend would entail.
Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy’s combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together. Read an excerpt of Omorphi
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Caleb had one mission in life.
To keep his boyfriend safe.
They met at ten, kissed at twelve, and were madly in love by eighteen. Caleb Deering is the captain of the swim team and the hottest senior in school. He comes from a loving home with a kind father and a caring, but strict, mother who is battling breast cancer. Nico Caro is small and beautiful, and has a father who rules with an iron fist—literally. One morning Caleb forgets himself, and he pecks Nico on the lips at school. A teacher sees them and tattles to the Headmaster. The accidental outing at school might be the least of their problems, because the ball set in motion by the school’s calls to their parents could get Nico killed. In the face of that very real danger, Caleb knows he has only one mission in life: to keep Nico safe. Read an excerpt of Safe.