Today I am so pleased to welcome Addison Albright to Joyfully Jay. Addison has come to talk to us about her latest release, Cultivating Love. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Cultivating Love—What Changed in the 2nd Edition, and Why?
Why did I overhaul and expand Cultivating Love? I hadn’t reread the story in quite a few years, so as the time approached when I would need to decide whether to renew the contract at Loose ID for another year, my only consideration was weighing if it would be better to stay diversified with more than one publisher, or to open the possibility of attracting new readers for the story with the Kindle Unlimited opportunity available at JMS Books (as well as the exposure that promoting a new release would bring).
Once the choice was made, I only intended a few minor tweaks because in my memory, the story was mostly fine as it was. It was only after I made the decision to put out a second edition at JMS Books that I reread the story and realized it needed more “tweaking” than I’d originally thought.
I threw my Word document into review mode for the changes, and by the time I was done you’d think I’d opened an artery, there was so much red on every page. My original intent was to beef up the foundation for points that hadn’t been well enough supported (based on various review comments on the first edition). In the end, I did that as well as reworded many passages and inserted a few scenes (including an entire chapter), expanded the old ending, and added a new epilogue. I ended up adding about six thousand words, bumping the story to just over forty thousand words. And then, just as every beta reader finds diverse things to comment on, different editors tackle the job in their own way. Without losing any scenes, the story dropped back about a thousand words with that fresh take on tightening.
That being said, I want to emphasize that fans of the first edition can rest assured I didn’t remove or change anything essential that was part of the story’s core premise. Instead, I expanded on it.
Here’s an example of wording changes I made in the opening chapter:
This scene from the first edition…
Joe put the bag of groceries on the counter and sat down. “What’s wrong, Ed?”
Ed took a deep breath and looked into Joe’s eyes. “My father’s dead.”
Joe cocked his head. “Yeah, I know. He died twenty-five years ago.” He looked pointedly at the papers strewn about the table. “What’s this all about?”
“No, you don’t know. I didn’t know. According to this, he just died, as in less than two weeks ago.”
“No way. I thought he died before you were born.”
“So did I. That’s what my mother said anyway.” There were so many questions in Ed’s eyes.”
Joe put the bag of groceries on the counter. “What’s wrong?”
Ed took a deep breath and peered into Joe’s eyes. “My father’s dead.”
Joe cocked his head. “Yeah, I know. He died…what? Before you were born, right? Twenty-five years ago?” He looked pointedly at the papers strewn about the table. “What’s this all about?”
“No, you don’t know. I didn’t know.” Ed suspended a shaky hand over the documents. “According to this, he just died, as in less than two weeks ago.”
“I spent my whole life thinking he was dead.” Ed ran fingers through his thick, dark, wavy hair. “That’s…that’s what my mother said, anyway. I don’t know what to think anymore.”
Hopefully you’ll agree these changes are an improvement. I put the clues to Ed’s age closer together so that’s more obvious, and there’s more show, less tell. Although this snippet doesn’t highlight it, the second edition generally has tighter and less passive wording choices.
Besides the wording changes, I expanded a bit on the explanation for Ed and Joe’s behavior regarding their sexual hang-ups at the beginning of the story. Some criticisms of the first edition were centered on the reader having never met gay men acting like them. Meanwhile, I had a couple readers tell me they loved the story because they knew guys who behaved in the same way as Ed and Joe.
Everybody is different, and a product of both their basic nature and their experiences. I expanded on the details of Joe’s past experiences and Ed’s rationale so readers can better feel the justification for their actions. I tried to keep the inserts somewhat subtle. I didn’t want to come out and spoon-feed the reasons with, “Joe does this because…blah, blah, blah.” There’s a Swedish proverb that says, “In a good book, the best is between the lines.” I try to write with that in mind. Anyway, there’s not much I could do about what readers have been exposed to in their lives, but I did add to the justification for my characters’ actions to make them more believable, because I didn’t want to change that aspect of the story.
I also better answered the question of Ed’s father’s demise. I’d thought a couple simple lines referencing what law enforcement had told Ed would suffice to tie that up, but almost every reviewer of the first edition commented on it. Apparently, it had felt like I’d fired Chekhov’s gun without resolving the issue to their satisfaction. That “tweak” ended up being the addition of a longish scene in chapter six, plus the bulk of a new chapter. It combines the resolution of Ed’s father’s accident with closure for Ed regarding his feelings about the man (which had been entirely missing in the first edition).
Another issue I noticed was that some of the references in the first edition pre-dated marriage equality in the USA. So, I had to decide whether to make the older timeframe obvious at the beginning of the story, or bring those mentions—and the characters’ options and decisions based on the new possibilities of the present-day setting—up to date.
I don’t want to give anything away about the expanded ending to the story (the old epilogue became the beginning of a new chapter) or the new epilogue. I’ll simply say that I think both fans of the original story as well as new readers will likely enjoy it. I know I had a big ol’ smile on my face writing it.
A side benefit of this second edition is that the expanded story reaches the threshold for print eligibility at JMS Books. So, yay for that—it’s another book I can bring along to GRL in October! One last thing. I need to gush about my new cover. I love, Love, LOVE it! I imagine the model to be Joe since he’s spent his whole life working on farms, whereas Ed’s new to it. Besides, I’ve added some description of body hair for Ed, and this guy has a hairless torso.
A man of few words, Joe is a hard-working farmhand who likes his simple, uncomplicated life. Ed is satisfied with his existence as an auto mechanic, but thrilled when an unexpected development in his life allows him to help Joe realize a dream.
It forces them, however, to reevaluate the casual, undefined nature of their relationship. They’re too macho to speak of love, and neither would acknowledge he doesn’t really mind when it’s his turn to bottom. When life throws them a curve ball, and the rules of their game get old, Ed tries to take every aspect of their relationship up a notch. Can Joe adapt to the open sentimentality Ed’s injecting into their relationship, let alone the new spice in their bedroom activities?
This is a previously published story that has been rewritten, expanded, and re-edited.
Addison Albright lives in the middle of the USA with two peculiar cats. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance, and tend to be sweet man-love in contemporary settings. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, French fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.
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Addison has brought a great giveaway along. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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Thank you so much for hosting me here today!
You are so welcome!
Welcome, Addison, and thanks for sharing how you revised Cultivating Love. I wish you every success with this new edition.
Thank you so much!