Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spot The Difference

Can You Spot the Difference? 
by Kate James 

Hello, Trans Canada Romance Writers and other friends!

I’m thrilled to have this chance to visit with you. Thank you, Darlene, for inviting me. My post today is about the editing process. I hope it brings a smile to your face!

Do the two pictures above look the same to you? Since I'm reasonably certain that your answer is—being as polite as possible—no, this post is the story of how a lovable Irish Wolfhound mix morphed into an equally lovable black Labrador Retriever in my 2015 release, The Truth About Hope.

I'm truly fortunate to have Paula Eykelhof as my editor. She works with Brenda Novak, Heather Graham and other best-selling authors. She is exceptional at what she does, I value all her revision requests and—as a bonus—she has a terrific sense of humor. We share a love of animals, and early in our working relationship we discovered that one of her cats and one of our black Labradors have the same name: Logan. We affectionately refer to them as FL (feline Logan) and CL (canine Logan). Occasionally, we exchange cute anecdotes about their mischief. This is backstory to a last-minute revision I had to make to The Truth About Hope.

In the original manuscript, my heroine, Hope Wilson, has a large, gangly, good-natured mutt resembling an Irish Wolfhound. The scene when she finds him as a puppy, as originally written, follows.

     Crouching down, Hope cautiously pushed aside a large branch to have a look…and started to laugh. Unmindful of the damp grass, she fell to her knees. Still laughing, she reached under the base of the bush and hauled out a squirming, wiggling, mud-covered puppy. “What are you doing here?” she inquired of the little dog. 
     The puppy mewed and continued to wriggle. Hope leaned in to nuzzle him and pulled back quickly. “Wow! What they say about sweet puppy breath doesn’t apply to you, does it? You stink! I bet that’s more than just mud covering you.” 
     In response, he slathered Hope’s face with his tongue, landing one grimy paw on her white shirt and another on her cheek. “Thanks, pal,” Hope exclaimed. She swiped her upper arm across her face, smearing the mud. 
     “I have our refreshments,” Priscilla announced as she emerged from the house carrying a tray laden with a pitcher, glasses and a plate of sliced lemons. She almost dropped the tray when she noticed Hope kneeling on the grass. Depositing it on the patio table with a clatter, she rushed over. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me take him.” She made a grab for the puppy, but Hope drew him back, streaking more dirt on her shirt and along her arms. 
     “Look at you! You’re covered in dirt,” Priscilla exclaimed. “Morris was supposed to have taken that little dog to the pound a week ago.” 
     Hope’s eyes rounded, and she tightened her hold on the puppy. “To the pound?” 
     “Well, we didn’t want to. Morris and I thought it would be nice to have a dog around, but your father…” 
     “He didn’t want a dog,” Hope concluded. 
     Priscilla nodded.
     “Where did he come from?” 
     The puppy in question enthusiastically licked the side of Hope’s neck. 
     “We have no idea. He just appeared a couple of weeks ago.” 
     Sinking back on her heels, Hope placed the puppy on the ground, where he executed a summersault in pursuit of his tail, before clambering onto her lap again. Hope nudged him, and he rolled over on his back, where he remained with an expectant look on his face. When Hope obliged with a tummy rub, his gleeful squeals stole her heart. “So, he doesn’t belong to anyone?” she asked. 
     “Not that we could determine.” Priscilla squatted down too and cautiously patted the pup on the top of his upside-down head. 
     Hope’s expression turned thoughtful. “My father asked me last night if there was anything he could do to make me feel more comfortable here.” She continued to rub the little dog’s belly, while he nipped at her fingers with his needle-sharp teeth. “I’ve always wanted a dog, but I couldn’t have one in Canyon Creek because Mom was allergic. What if I told my father I wanted to keep the pup?” 
     Priscilla smiled. “There’s always a chance. Why don’t we take the little guy into the mudroom and get him cleaned up first? Make him more presentable.” 
     It took several cycles of lathering and rinsing until the bath water finally ran clear. The pup was still mostly gray, but the brown had washed away with the sudsy water to reveal a bright white belly and white boots on three of his paws. 
     “How big do you think he’ll get when he’s full grown?” Hope asked as she toweled him off. 
     Priscilla pursed her lips. “I’m no expert on dogs, but I’d say he’s a real mixture. His coloring and the shape of his face make me think he’s got some Irish Wolfhound in him. Judging by how big he is now, I’d say he’ll be mid-size. Probably fifty to sixty pounds when he’s full grown.” 
     “That’s not so big. My father wouldn’t object to me keeping him, if I promise to take care of him and keep him out of his way, would he?” 
     Before Priscilla could answer, the outside door swung open and Morris strode in, the screen door slamming behind him. He took one look at the two women, the little dog between them, and started to back out. 
     “Not so fast, Morris!” Priscilla called. 
     He stopped in his tracks, but kept his hand on the door handle. 
     The puppy—having aptly demonstrated his displeasure with the entire bathing process—must have seen his opportunity to escape. He squirmed out of Hope’s grasp and charged straight for the doorway, crashing head-first into the screen. Fortunately, he bounced off it, landing ingloriously on his backside. 

Imagine my surprise when I saw the cover and, rather than a Wolfhound, the dog featured prominently is most definitely a black Lab and looks exactly like our Logan, including the slightly curly fur along his back!
Needless to say, I had to edit all references to the dog, Einstein, to fit the cover image. For example, I revised the highlighted paragraph in the original manuscript to read as follows.

Priscilla pursed her lips. “I’m no expert on dogs, but the shape of his face makes me think he’s got some Irish Wolfhound in him, but the rest of him looks like all Labrador. If he’s mostly Lab, he won’t grow too large. Probably about sixty pounds when he’s full-grown.”

The net effect? I had to rewrite approximately a dozen scenes, Logan lorded it over our other Lab Harley, he wanted a share of the royalties in the form of extra kibble, and Harley now would like to know when he can expect to be a cover model, too. Considering there have been times when FL and CL have “used” our respective laptops, I have to wonder if there might have been a conspiracy involved! With this bit of backstory, I hope you enjoy getting to know Einstein, the mostly black Lab, in The Truth About Hope! (I do want to thank the art department team at Harlequin for how hard they work at creating the most beautiful covers.)

Still on the topic of dogs, my most recent releases are the first books in my K-9 trilogy. The first two books, When the Right One Comes Along (October 1, 2015) and When Love Matters Most (January 1, 2016) are currently available. The third book, When I Found You, is scheduled for release this summer and is already available for preorder through Harlequin. For the back cover copy of these books, please scroll down to the bottom of this post. Not surprisingly, there is a casts of furry, four-legged supporting characters in all three of these books. 

Do you feel furry, four-legged characters enrich a story and help define the protagonists? What breed/type of dog or other animal would you like to see featured in a book and why? Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of the first book in my K-9 Trilogy, When the Right One Comes Along.
Brought together by disaster. Kept together by love. 
     In the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, it's chaos for trauma surgeon Jessica Hansen. Among the many victims, one patient stands out—San Diego Police K-9 search and rescue officer Cal Palmer. 
     Cal vows to help Kayla, a child orphaned by the disaster. But he needs Jessica's help. Will their shared concern for Kayla and for his canine partner, Scout, allow them to put aside their personal torments and discover the difference love can make? 


About Kate
Kate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been fiction, both reading and writing it. As a result, she turned her energy to her love of the written word. Kate’s goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories featuring strong, likable characters. She’s been honored with numerous awards for her writing. She and her husband, Ken, enjoy traveling and the outdoors with their beloved Labrador retrievers.
https://www.facebook.com/KateJamesBooks https://twitter.com/KateJamesBooks https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5376105.Kate_James


  1. Thank you very much for hosting me on your blog.

    I look forward to reading your comments about furry, four-legged characters in stories.

    Best wishes.


  2. Great post. It's amazing how things change during edits.

    1. Thank you, Susanne. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately, not all edits are quite as much fun! :-)

  3. Kate, thank you for being our special guest today! I too, have had to make changes to a story during edits to match the cover design. I love reading stories with dogs, and have recently read When the Right One Comes Along. Loved every scene with Scout! I highly recommend this book to everyone who stops by, so be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win :)

    1. Thank you for the warm welcome and for the positive feedback about WHEN THE RIGHT ONE COMES ALONG, Darlene. I like writing scenes with animals in them. I can assure readers that animals have their own HEAs in my stories!

  4. Kate, I too have read When the Right One Comes Along and appreciated the research you must have done about K-9 dogs and how they assist. I've edited descriptions to match covers because I believe that helps develop a richer reader experience.

    1. I hope you enjoyed WHEN THE RIGHT ONE COMES ALONG, Linda. As a dog lover, the research was the best part of writing the K-9 trilogy! If you're interested, this posts provides some snippets and pictures: http://heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.ca/2016/02/get-hooked-on-series-by-kate-james-with.html

      I personally believe that readers do judge a book by its cover, so I like to have the cover resemble the characters. I recently had a similar situation with the third book in the trilogy. Boomer, an explosives detection dog, is a black Belgian Malinois. The first version of the cover had a black-and-tan German Shepherd on it. Since the book had already finalized, this time the (fabulous) art department at Harlequin changed the cover! (Hmm... that might make an interesting follow-up posts!)

      Thank you for sharing you view.

  5. Hi Kate: Nice to meet another animal lover. I seem to have just about everyting except a dog, so it's fun to read about them. You series featuring dogs looks great.

    1. It's nice to meet you, too, Gini! Harley and Logan get along with most creatures--big and small...even crawly ones. If you lived close to us, they'd be willing to give you a doggie fix.

      If you do get a chance to read one of the K-9 trilogy books, I would love to hear from you.

      Thank you for your comment, and tail wags to you from Harley and Logan!


    I just saw a tweet from Harlequin Heartwarming senior editor Victoria Curran announcing a "So You Think You Can Write" competition for Heartwarming. In case anyone is interested, here's the link to the competition announcement: http://bit.ly/1Rx4tlX

    If you decide to enter, good luck!

  7. Yes, I find animals add a great deal to defining the protagonists...be it a bird, turtle, horse, hamster, dog, cat.....I think you get the drift! ;) Love this story!

    Kathleen Bylsma h5apby@yahoo.com

    1. Aww...thank you, Kathleen! I'm glad to hear your views on animals. It inspires me to continue to have them as key characters in my books! :-) Oh, did I mention I might be writing a FOURTH book in my K-9 TRILOGY! I suppose it has to become a series!!

      Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment!