I asked Kate Evangelista to write an SOV post to coincide with the release of TASTE today, in the hope that readers would gain some insight into what inspires this amazing, debut author.
However, the source of Kate’s inspiration wasn’t quite what I expected. No words can fully express how overwhelmed I felt upon reading this post for the first time.
AN ODE TO A WRITING SISTER
This feature on her blog allows writers to show their readers how their writing was influenced by where they came from, their culture and tradition. Being naturally rebellious, I will deviate from that trend and focus on the person who influenced my writing. She is someone who I haven’t met in person, but she has always been there holding my hand through the moments when all I felt was hurt when one rejection came after the other and she was there celebrating along with me when Taste and all my other novels found their homes without the help of an agent. She was there when I broke up with said agent too. Basically, I can’t imagine my writing life without Angie in it.
I know I share her with many of you. She is a critique partner unlike any other. She’s kind and gracious. She’s sharp as a tack and keen on finding plot holes. She never lacks compliments while at the same time unafraid to tell you what isn’t working in your latest WIP. These are just someone of the reasons why she’s always the first to see my latest. She’s seen my rawest work and helped me mold the piece into something acceptable for the eyes of editors. A perfect example of this is with Taste. Angie has been with Taste back when it was still called Lunar Heat. In fact, she was the one who gave Taste her title today.
Taste wouldn’t be the novel it is today without the guidance of Angie. So, if you asked me what influenced my writing the most? The answer would be her opinion. All she has to do is say she doesn’t like something in what I’m working on and I would immediately change it, no questions or arguments. Such is my trust in her taste, forgive the pun. And one thing you should know about me is that I don’t trust easily. Because of past experiences, I’ve learned to build walls around myself to protect me from the cruelty of the world. I guess it’s the many betrayals I’ve suffered in the hands of those I thought were friends that made me more comfortable interacting with the characters in my head. Where else would I be able to stare at someone as handsome as Demitri with being thought of as a stalker? And where else would I be able to have tea with Dray while he concocts a new formula to inject into Phoenix?
Anyway, I digress, as I am wont to do.
Would you believe Angie and I were never supposed to be critique partners?
To those who don’t know, when you’re searching for a critique partner, it’s usually customary to exchange a few pages to see if your editing styles mesh. At the time that Angie and I exchanged pages, I was under the influence of another critique partner. This led to my rejecting a partnership with Angie. But I soon realized my mistake and came crawling back. I never regretted my decision since.
It’s been more than two years since then, and every time I read something new from Angie, I am amazed at how much her writing has evolved. Like wine, she gets better and better with experience (I’m not saying age because I believe she is an ageless goddess benevolent enough to allow me into her life).
I honestly would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for Angie’s continued encouragement. She must have edited Taste with me more than ten times, and never did she say no to re-reading the story again. She was the one who helped me figure out how to edit Phoenix’s voice, which ultimately led to Taste finding a home. Even now, she took time from her schedule to read the finished product. That’s commitment that I value and find very rare. And because of her unfailing support, I dedicated Taste to her. When you get your copy, take a moment to read the dedication page. It was the least I could do, but I know it could never measure up to what she does for me and my writing.
Because of all her help, and all the hours we spent chatting, I call her my writing sister from another mother. And I look forward to the day when I read an email from her that says a publisher finally came to its senses and recognized the talent she has for weaving words together into a lush story.
Angie, I know I’ve embarrassed you enough with this post, but I just want you to know that I continue to believe. And I continue to admire your strength and dedication. You teach me every day to find a sense of calm in the chaos. You never hesitate to help me every time, and know that I would do the same and more. I have the champagne chilling, anticipating the day when it’s your turn to see your writing babies make it into the world.
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By the way, Kate's wrong about one thing. We were always meant to be critique partners. I'll tell you a secret I don't think I've even told Kate. It's rather embarrassing in the Whoo Whoo weird kind of way. But hey, what kind of writer would I be if I didn't give in to my superstitious side every once in a while.
The night before Kate emailed to apologize and ask to work together again, I had a dream about her. I mean, I hadn’t heard from her in months. Why a dream?
I think the universe was preparing me to be open to forgiving her. I'm glad I put my fear of being rejected again aside. A friend like Kate is a rare gift, and I'm thankful to have her in my life.