Today is the debut release of a fabulous book—5 TO 1—by Holly Bodger. I first met Holly when we became Golden Heart® finalists together in 2013. We were both in the YA (Young Adult) category, and all of us YA writers bonded quickly. We had our own little loop called the Savvy Sevens inside of our bigger GH loop—The Lucky 13s.
Many of us in our category exchanged work before we ever met at the national conference, but it was Holly’s critique that either made me want to laugh or cry. She wasn’t harsh as much as honest. But then again, it was in a harshly honest kind of way. She would write comments in the margins like, “Meh” or “Hallmark moment,” and instead of getting upset, I laughed.
In my recent WIP, I mentioned my main character was a senior. Then again. And again. She started pointing it out with sarcasm after a few mentions in the first chapter: “Wait! He’s a senior? I had no idea!” Granted, the sarcastic comments only surfaced after we’d become friends and were used to reading for each other.
I have three CPs. The first pass always goes to Vanessa because she’s sweet and will bolster my ego. The second one goes to Pintip. She tells me all the turning points I’ve missed or that my black moment isn’t black enough. After I fix everything, and I think it’s just about perfect, I send it on to Holly. Then she rips it apart. But by then, I’m ready for it. So, I asked Holly about the people who read her books. Here’s her response:
Every book is different, but these are generally the people who read my manuscripts before they go to my agent.
1. The Gatekeeper
The Gatekeeper is scary. She has a whip and is not afraid to use it. I always send my books to her first because a) she knows she’s reading my crap and can read despite the complete lack of emotion, and b) she’s not afraid to tell me it’s crap. The Gatekeeper sends me lists of things that I need to fix before anyone else sees the book. Some of these lists are short. Some of them are long. Most of them have words in uppercase such as “WHAT IS SHE FEELING? IS SHE A ROBOT?” Oh, and yes, the Gatekeeper is Kim MacCarron and no, I don’t know (or want to know!) if she wears leather while reading.
2. The group
I have many other readers, some who have been around for a few books and some who are new. Each of these writers has a different perspective which helps me see different things. Some will tear apart the plot, while others will focus on setting or characterization. Some will just say nice things that make me feel better after the Gatekeeper’s exclamation marks. The group includes my wonderful friends Amy, McCall, Jill, Loretta, Monica, Marybeth, and Pintip.
3. The teen
Eventually, the book goes to Kaitlin, daughter of the Gatekeeper, because she can give me a true reader’s perspective. Plus she can tell me when I do stupid things that make my teen characters sound like they should be wearing mom jeans.
4. The expert
For 5 TO 1, I was very lucky to have the always awesome Sonali Dev to help me with cultural details. In addition to the random questions I asked her while editing, I sent her the book when it was completely done so she could see if I’d missed something or got something totally wrong (a couple times, I even ran copyedit Qs by her!) I have used different expert readers with other books in the past (for example, I have contacted doctors, police officers and teachers). These people are invaluable. Without them, I would make stupid mistakes.
5. The Gatekeeper, Part 2
Yeah, she usually reads it again, but she uses less exclamation marks the second time around and sometimes, she puts little smiley faces and hearts in the margin. That’s why she’s a keeper. So if you’re reading this thinking you need the Gatekeeper in your life, HANDS OFF! She’s mine. And don’t think I won’t open a can of whoop-ass if I need to fight for her. I know Kung Fu. Well, sorta. I’ve seen the movie with the panda at least three times…
About 5 TO 1
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, Koyanagar–a country severed from India–now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, and women are an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. But after fighting so hard for freedom against the old ways of gender selection, these women have become just as deluded as their male predecessors.
Sudasa Singh doesn’t want to be a wife and Kiran, a boy competing to be her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing.
A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa.
5 TO 1 is Holly’s debut novel. You can visit Holly here or follow her on Twitter
54 thoughts on “Holly Bodger’s 5 TO 1 Releases Today!”
Lol. This post cracked me up (both Kim’s and Holly’s portions). Super duper congrats, Holly! I absolutely ADORE this book, and I am so thrilled that the rest of the world will now get to adore it, too!
Thanks, Pintip! And thanks for supporting this journey of mine every single day!
It’s been a great journey. We’ll be right back here in November for FORGET TOMORROW’S release. 🙂
Great post, ladies! Wishing you a very Savvy release day, Holly! And yes, the cabana boys are en route…
*removes all crap from office in order to make room for cabana boys*
Please make sure you bring those cabana boys to our retreat. They do clean, right? lol
Hahaha! I LOVE this, Kim and Holly! Sounds like a match made in leather chaps heaven. 😉 Holly, ENORMOUS congrats on your release day! This book is such a wonder. I know it will entrance readers–just as it did me–everywhere!!!
Aw, thanks puppet! Won’t be long before we’re pulling out the chaps for you too!
Thanks for stopping by, Darcy. And yes. It is a match made in leather chaps heaven. LOL! And all because we finaled together in a contest. 🙂 Savvies forever!
This sounds like a fantastic book! Congrats, Holly!! And seriously? We all KNOW Kim, leather and whips go hand in hand….. I imagine the gatekeeper is JUST what she is. But always in a fun way! <3
Crossing fingers for MEGA SALES! 🙂
Yay!!! See? I’m a fun, leather-wearin’, whip-wieldin’ Gatekeeper. She’s really gonna wish she never said this. I’m loving it wayyyyy too much. lol. Thanks for stopping by, Tammy! Can’t wait to see you in July!
Great post – and a good reminder on the various “reads” a story goes through on the way to a wider audience. Sounds like you’ve got a good partnership going, Holly and Kim!
Thanks, Keely! It really takes a village, doesn’t it?
Okay, so I’m the nice one, huh? You’re right- Kim is an amazing reader/editor and you’re not so bad yourself. I am so proud of you today (and always) and I know the world will love this beautiful book as much as I do. Congratulations my Savvy sister!
You know you are, Amy! But everybody needs some sugar after they’ve been whipped by the Gatekeeper! 🙂
Amy, Of course you’re the Nice One. I’m so glad we’re all Savvies together. The nice balances out whatever I am. haha. Hugs!
FUN blog, girls, and it’s nice to meet you Holly. CONGRATULATIONS on your debut release, you must be ecstatic!!! Looking forward to reading it.
Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! My DREAMWEAVER (which I could put that in big sparkly letters) sister. 🙂 Can’t wait for your book!
Congratulations Holly!!!!! You are one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and I’m super thrilled for this book! *glitter toss* 😉
Are you saying that because she made fun of me at the St. Martin’s party? lol. Listen. Drinks should never NEVER go to waste. Ever.
Love hearing about your critique posse, Holly! And yours too, Kim! We all need one. I may or may not have some names in common with you. 🙂 I confess, I’ve never quite pictured Kim in leathers, cracking a whip. Then again, I’ve never gotten a critique from her…
Can’t wait to get my hands on 5 to 1! Cheers on your launch!!
Thanks, Talia, our Lucky sistah! Can’t wait to see you again in NYC!
I’m so glad I got the opportunity to read this amazing book first, I’ve been telling all my friends about how great it is!
You’re awesome! You must have the best mom in the entire world. Just sayin’.
Meh. I’ve heard she’s a bit of a tyrant. Drinks too much too.
I can’t wait to read this! Congratulations! I love the way you categorize your Beta readers, too.
I’m very, VERY happy with my new title, Nan. I’m gonna get a special ribbon or something and wear it all around Nationals. Gatekeeper. Yes. Yes, I am gonna get a ribbon. Because even though it’s Holly’s release, I’m making this ALL ABOUT ME. lol.
Fun post, you two. I’m so excited to read your book, Holly. I totally understand the process of critique. Everyone needs bears and butterflies as critique partners, but not everyone is fortunate to have them.
You have a kick-ass critique group. So, you’re one of the fortunate ones. 🙂 Love the expression about bears and butterflies. I think I need more butterflies.
Great post, Kim and Holly. And happy book birthday, Holly! Can’t wait to read it!
Thanks for stopping by, our GH sister. 🙂
Huge congrats, Holly. I can’t wait to read it!! And I loved the post you and Kim put together. Especially about Kim and her gatekeeper duties!!!!
Thanks, Sharon! You will LOVE this book. So will your daughter. And tell her and her friends that you can get Holly to Skype with them. haha.
I love the idea of being a Gatekeeper. Just standing there with all this pretend power.
Very cool that Sonali Dev helped you out! Your comment about having a teen reader point out “mom jeans” moments made me laugh.
Holly, you are so lucky to have so many helpful readers along the way. They sound fabulous — and so does the book! Congratulations on its release!!
What a fun post! I love the approach you two have to editing. And the titles for your readers are fantastic. Seriously, as of today, I going to replace the vanilla “beta reader” label with Gatekeeper and Expert and maybe Continuity Commander (for my sister who can remember that my heroine’s cousin had green eyes on page 10 and blue eyes on page 232…) and Spirit Squad (for my mother and my friend Kimmy, who both love whatever I write)…
Congratulations on the release, Holly! “About 5 to 1” sounds like a great tale.
Thank God for the people who notice the small mistakes. I love your Spirit Squad, Katrina. We all need those.
Holly – congrats on your debut! And Kim – I loved hearing about you and Holly’s “critique posse” as Talia called it. 5 TO 1 sounds like a great book. Looking forward to reading it. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Tosha! I’m so glad you’re in my circle now. 🙂 It’s been so great getting to know you!!!
Happy Book Birthday, Holly! What would we do without our critique partners, whatever we call this. Fun post.
Hi, Kim! Hi, Holly! Happy book birthday! I’m so looking forward to reading 5 TO 1! Must say I love gatekeepers who freely give hearts and smiley faces, but I definitely do need a village full of CPs to keep me from going on weird tangents!
Like shoppers in the bedroom? LOL! Vanessa, I’m so, so, soooo glad we’re in this village together.
Happy book birthday, Holly! I too get dinged for not having enough emotion in my early drafts, so I can relate to your experiences with The Gatekeeper. Friends don’t let friends write without critique partners. 😉
Congratulations, Holly!! I can’t wait to read my copy!! (It needs to wait a few weeks though, sorry. I just got edits today and I have to do that first.)
And I love The Gatekeeper. She’s read some of my stuff too. But when she gives the smileys? It’s the best.
Awww, Marnee! I give you PLENTY of smiley faces. lol. Love you, too! Go, Dauntless! 🙂
Great post! I love hearing about other authors’ processes. And congrats on your book! It’s certainly unique. 🙂
The book sounds absolutely killer! Adding it to my TBR list.
Thanks for stopping by, Jeanne! It’s a wonderful book. You’ll love it. 🙂
This sounds wonderful! Congrats on the release, Holly, and thanks for being part of the lagoon today!
This post cracked me up! The Group, the Teen, the Gatekeeper, the Expert– this is obviously a winning combination. A huge congratulations to Holly on her amazing new book! I can’t wait to read it, and I’m sure my daughter is going to love it, too. 🙂
Oh gosh, Holly!! I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to share your amazing book with everyone! You know how much I love it!
And Kim, I hereby name you KickassKim! And I SO want you! Haven’t watched that panda movie buy I’ve watched ALL the TB episodes!
Love you girls!!
Happy release day, Holly! Enjoyed reading your blog and hearing about your advance readers. All of them, including your gatekeeper, are definitely keepers 🙂
What a gorgeous cover! Happy book birthday, Holly! Looking forward to reading 5 To 1 🙂
What a beautiful cover! And a fun post from you both. Congratulations on the release!
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