I recently decided to update the cover to my first book, Naberius: Her Daimon Soldier because I wanted both my main characters on the cover. Also, I decided to have another edit pass done on it because there were typos in the book. My only excuse is that it was my first book and I only did one formal edit pass on it with an editor. I need two passes because when I get the first pass back, I introduce new errors. Naberius is my the most popular book, and I wanted my appreciative readers to have an update.
I sent it to a new fabulous editor, Sarah Pesce. We had worked together on a contemporary romance manuscript of mine, and I knew she would be perfect for the task at hand.
When the manuscript came back, it was chock full of copy corrections, but more importantly, she was concerned over the fact that Naberius sipped energy from Jessalyn without her consent.
Initially, I was shocked. Me? I wrote a man (well, a Daimon) engaging in non-consensual activities? I am very specific with my heroes and heroines about sexual consent. To me, the fact that my heroes stop to ask “Can I?” tends to underscore their heroic nature. In paranormal and fantasy, sometimes you invent things that are strange, and I had fabricated a social norm in Daimon society which was an exchange of energy. It was much like a handshake—Energy is taken and energy is given, a symbiotic give and take which is customary for Daimons. But Jessalyn doesn’t know those customs, so he “tasted” her energy twice but without consent and knowledge.
I knew immediately that the change would be simple and subtle but significant. I reread the passages, and instead of Naberius tasting Jessalyn’s energy, he restrains himself because he knows it would be abusive to take her energy when she didn’t understand the custom. The change made the entire concept stronger. I probably changed no more than fifty words in the whole book, but it was an essential change for the integrity of my characters.
My story “Sorcha in Snowflakes” ended up being all about consent and acceptance. The story involves a magical meeting of two people during the holiday season. When Alexander meets Sorcha, he tells her he owns a painting of her. It’s a self-portrait so when he sees her, he can’t believe the beautiful woman hanging on his wall is in front of him. He invites her to see the painting since he lives right on top of the bar. They eat dinner and talk about art. He asks her out to a party for Christmas. They serve Akvavit, a strong liquor and she drinks too much. There was only one thing my hero could do – make her coffee and send her home in a cab. There is a lot of other fun stuff in the story – she celebrates Chanukah, and he has decorated his apartment with lights and a menorah for her. So, yeah, a good guy.
Heroes can be troubled at the same time without being abusive. Naberius has a lot of issues; PTSD from the Daimon wars, commitment issues and a lack of confidence in the fact that his true mate will accept him. It’s only as he comes to find peace and acceptance with his own history that he finds true love.
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