Tag Archives: Editing

Spooky…

When it was first mooted that my crazy idea could actually become a reality, I began to have thoughts about what I envisaged on the book cover. The first image I had stuck around in my head for some time. Then, around the 5 millionth round of editing, I changed my mind. I have always been a very creative person, and I can easily visualise something in my mind’s eye, so when it suddenly dawned on me to use some key parts of my story on the cover, a new image was born. However, as I also have no idea what I’m doing, I have tried to remain open-minded and take on board the opinion of the professionals. The beauty of self-publishing is that the author has the freedom to choose. I get to have the final say in everything and if I’m not happy with what has been brought to the table, I can change it.

I have a great relationship with my author manager, and have done since the beginning of this process. I’m completely comfortable with asking her what I worry might be stupid questions; I have no problem discussing something that I feel is not quite right yet; and she is always very considerate and helpful. We discussed cover design very early on in the process and she explained to me that I would be given 2 designs to review. The first one would be my idea, and the second would be the designer’s idea. During this conversation I never once mentioned my original thoughts, I only put to her my second idea. The cover design drafting went ahead while my manuscript was going through copy-editing and proof reading. Both processes take about 3-4 weeks.

About a week ago I received the first drafts of both designs. I decided to wait until my husband could look at them with me, even though I was dying to take peek. Later that evening we sat down together, over coffee after dinner, and opened the file that was my idea. We both gasped! It was the most bizarre, but amazing thing to see the title, the image and my name all brought together in an eye-catching design that you will potentially see on the shelves. Yes, it needed some changes, but it was very much what I imagined, and more.

We then opened the file containing the designer’s idea…

Independently, with no hint or guidance from me, they had designed my original idea. I couldn’t believe it! My gut instinct was screaming out at me then, almost begging me, somehow, someway, to combine the two ideas. So, after a lengthy and very productive conversation with my manager, that is now what the designer will try to do. Spooky? Or do great minds just think alike?

A thoughtful gift

I haven’t posted any pictures yet, but I just had to share this one with you.

I bumped into Mrs Creative Writing while, once again, propping up the wall outside the classroom. She wanted to thank me for giving up some of my valuable time to help inspire her budding writers. She then presented me with a ‘Thank You’ card, and two new journals. It would appear that they had really taken notice of the kind I like, the ones with the coiled spine so I can keep a pen handy, turn the pages back on themselves and tear out unwanted pages easily. I must have also mentioned that I like dividers because they also made sure it had those too!

The card was written by one of the students and has been signed by the whole class, with little personal comments from some of them – I don’t really think I am awesome but maybe to a 9 year old I am! When I commented last week on some of the parents cursing me about stopping at the dollar store, I had no idea that would really happen, but it did! Apparently some of the students have already started journals to record and draw story ideas, I genuinely didn’t think I could have that much impact. I sense I will feel a warm glow when I use those journals, knowing the sentiments behind the gifts.

It has come as part of a good week in my little world of self publishing. I’m over half way through reading the copy edited version and I have two cover designs to work with. Honestly, I sat down with my husband to look at the designs for the first time and we both spontaneously gasped when they popped up on the screen. To see the title… the back cover information… and my name – well my pretend name – I have to say it’s a pretty amazing feeling, and it’s not even finished yet. I must remember to keep my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds. I still have a lot of work to do…

A thoughtful gift

A thoughtful gift

That will do nicely!

I never in a million years thought I would ever receive such a positive evaluation. Sure my beta readers gave me great feedback, but most of them are friends, some of whom know me very well. It would be difficult for them to be unbiased. Only one of my six beta readers doesn’t know me and had no idea who had written the book. She was hooked from the beginning and was making all the right noises by the end. It was enough to convince me, and to some extent my husband, that with fine tuning my manuscript could possibly be good enough to be published.

So, just how positive was the editor’s feedback? Well, the manuscript is strong enough to go straight to proof reading and copy editing in its current form. It’s not perfect, but I personally don’t need to change a thing; all the minor adjustments will be done in the next phase. I worked hard to make it as good as I could get it, but I have my husband to thank for going through it with a fine tooth comb. I can’t be mad at him any more for not believing in me at the beginning of last year, when I plucked up the courage to finally tell him what I was up to. Admittedly, those first five chapters he read were shockingly badly written, and not surprisingly put him off reading any more. But, eventually, even when he had better things to do with his time and life got in the way, he helped me polish it and make it shine!

We are about to go away on a family vacation, and spend some quality time by a pool in a nice round 30 degrees, thank you very much. I can truly go away now feeling proud, positive and able to relax while the professionals do their job sprucing up my manuscript and designing my cover.

See you in a couple of weeks!!

This is not the email your waiting for…

Every would-be author has done it. Waited and waited and waited for that all-important verdict on their manuscript. Even though I still chuckle every time I call myself a writer, I have spent almost 2 weeks impatiently waiting. Even though I was told it would take 10-14 days, I knew that once I got to this week I would be jumping on my phone every time it tooted to let me know that I was receiving mail.

However, there is a tiny part of you that doesn’t really want to know what the professional thinks because, in a matter of seconds, a year’s work could be flushed down the toilet, condemned. I am a wife, a mother, a nurse (well, I was once); a member of the invisible disease club; a blonde (maybe should have put that first!), and a Brit. But am I a writer?

Even if an editor thinks I am, it is the readers of the world that will decide whether or not my slightly steamy imagination and humorous story telling is good enough to officially make me a recognized author. It would be amazing if that happened, but if it doesn’t I will still carry on writing because, at the end of the day, this is for me, nobody else – ME!! Rarely do I say that – I think those who know me well would agree that I am far from self-centered – but occasionally a girl just needs a little something she can call her own, especially if she’s worked hard to earn it and overcome many obstacles along the way. I would like to reinforce something I have said before and will probably say again and again: this is something my disease can NEVER take away from me.

Meanwhile back at the email… all day long, every single ‘toot’ was Gap, or Restoration Hardware (can’t afford to buy anything in there anyway but a girl can dream!), info about Jeans Day at school, Facebook messages, school field trip news. You name it; it all came through, without a single bit of consideration for the fact that my nerves were in absolute tatters. Then, while making dinner, supervising homework, catching the contents of my five year old’s nose as he sneezed for the 5 millionth time and folding my 500th load of laundry… ‘TOOT’ – I ignore it, it’s after 5pm, it can’t be important, it will just be Banana Republic AGAIN trying to sell me another dress I don’t need. BUT, I found out over an hour later, yes a WHOLE HOUR later, that it WAS the email I was waiting for…

Stick a fork in me…

…I’m done!!

It’s been a long time coming, and I still can’t believe that I’ve even got this far, but it’s now in the hands of the editor. Of course I’m not really done, I’m quite sure that there will be plenty of comments that I will have to take on board and consider whether or not I should make further changes once I receive the report. As you all know, I’ve been here once before so to some extent I know what to expect. But, it’s now shorter, sharper and deeper, without losing it’s true, sexy and amusing edge – I think, but of course I’m biased!

In the meantime, my manager wants to get started on the cover. Seriously! Where do you begin to design the cover of a book? I know what catches my eye, and yes I’m afraid I do judge a book by its cover, but we all look for something different. I’m going to go with my gut instinct, something I should have listened to on more occasions than I want to be reminded of, but this time it’s screaming out at me again and it’s going to win. I have asked some of my readers what they think, but nothing has really grabbed me the way my own imagination has. However, my closest friend, the one who’s been right there with me all way, had a great suggestion that added to my own idea. She has read the book several times and almost knows it as well as I do, so she is able to pick out subtle, but key aspects of the story.

What am I hoping to achieve with what I envisage? Well, the book is a contemporary romance called Bruises; my main character is a doctor so it has medical content, and it’s set in the north east of England, where I’m originally from. I don’t want the cover to reflect any of this, I have picked out other significant aspects that make up the story, and appear to have nothing to do with the title. I’ve tried to put myself in the reader’s shoes, browsing the shelves of a bookstore. The combination of the image I have in mind; that title and the synopsis of the story would have me thinking that they all don’t seem to quite go together. If the design team can pull it off I think it will be eye catching, intriguing and will grab the attention of potential readers.

At least cover design doesn’t require me to sit in front of my computer for hours. That has taken its toll again recently, my neck and shoulders are super tight and very sore – they need a break! Despite this, my physio has never once given me grief about the effects all this has had on my body at times. If anything he’s been incredibly supportive and has promised to buy a copy and even read it – I have told him to pretend that it wasn’t me that wrote it, but then again if I can allow my mother-in-law to read it then really anyone else isn’t a big deal is it!!

True Blonde!

About 2 weeks ago, while re-filling my ‘granny’ pill box for that coming week, I noticed I didn’t have enough non-steroidals. On closer examination of said drug, I realized that I also had no further refills… oops! Oh well, I thought, they run out on Sunday (the same day we were going skiing for the day), I’m at my rheumatologist on Thursday, I’ll get my prescription refilled then. I haven’t had a break from them in… a very long time, but you sometimes have to try these things, right? Wrong!!

So, we pop up to Whistler for the day, ski in the most appalling weather on beautiful powdery snow, and return home with two very tired little boys. Yes, I was aware that my body had done a lot more than usual, my husband did his best to beat the knots out of my shoulders, but the next morning… it was not pretty. Was it really worth it when you start your day with a T3 for breakfast? Sadly I think not.

Then on Wednesday evening, the highlight of my week… physiotherapy!! It’s been a while since an IMS needle has gotten stuck, making the treatment a million times more painful than it normally is, and a nice bruise to prove it. He was not impressed that I stupidly went skiing without meds, knowing that, even when I take them, I return from the slopes not fit for a haircut! He did think it was a good idea to periodically see whether or not they are still doing their job, but that the timing of these little trials should be thought through a bit more carefully – fair enough.

Then there was the visit to the rheumatology doctor’s office. He walked in and his first words to me in his dreamy Spanish accent were, ‘you have lost weight?’ This is true, yes, as the only things I can have that have any sort of calories in them are chocolate and wine – clearly I’m not having enough of them! Many of you who are also members of the exclusive club of invisible diseases will know it is not unusual to suffer from some sort of GI problem. Mine is a starch intolerance which, of course, means no bread, rice, pasta, potatoes etc.. All that good stuff blows me up and gives me the most unbearable abdominal pain. So, it is quite easy to waste away, and recently I have been having a particularly bad time with it. Then I mentioned my recent drug withdrawal trial; the words were barely out of my mouth and the look on his face just screamed out, ‘you dozy tart!’ I know, what was I thinking?

So there you have it, another ‘blonde’ moment (& yes I am a natural blonde, so all muppetry is entirely genuine) to add to my growing list. It has not helped my final editing; as you can imagine, sitting at the computer with a neck and shoulders like concrete has not been wise. I will leave you with another, more amusing, blonde moment that always makes my husband laugh out loud when reminded of it. A few years ago, back in the UK, I was stood in a friend’s living room, admiring the peek-a-boo view she had of the ocean, on the west coast of England. She happened to mention that on a really clear day you could actually see Wales. I was instantly impressed and surprised by this information, and promptly replied ‘WOW! I had no idea they migrated this far!’ It was as she nearly choked on her mouthful of tea that I realized what a complete idiot I had just made of myself!!

Finally…

… my neck is killing me, my shoulders are tighter than a body builder’s backside and my physio has abandoned me for a week, but I am on the last read through before I submit it. I managed to knock off 11,000 words, which I was disappointed wasn’t more at the final count, but I was reassured it was quite good considering I added another little twist to the story line. I was hoping it would be more like 20,000, but I guess I should be proud of what I’ve done so far. I think the time has come, anyway, for a fresh pair of eyes to pick it apart and make some professional suggestions. I’ve already been there once before and the feedback was good, so I know with the changes I’ve made it can only be better (she says with everything crossed!).

I’ve also done quite well for time too. I was aiming to have it submitted by now, but at least I’ve actually finished the editing and just need to read it through it again (making sure there are no grammar and punctuation errors my husband will have some sort of cerebral event over!). I think I’m now looking at another couple of weeks before I’m done – but I bet it’s more! I’m physically pretty good right now, but sitting at the computer is still a killer. In fact, I realized yesterday I had forgotten to call my pharmacy on Friday to order my biologic. I had been living from one dose to the next and not quite managing to last the full month, but since my Dr increased it to every 3 weeks, recently I have noticed that day is suddenly upon me without a second thought. Still, I shouldn’t abuse this and think I can spend hours and hours hunched over my laptop; bad posture does not look good in Hello magazine!!

So, I’ll keep reading and drinking coffee. The trainee barista who made my latté has provided a much better brew than her geeky colleague… but of course I could never tell the poor boy that – he’s only just gotten over our little chat about my genre!!

The Geeky Barista!

He’s there every time I go to my favorite coffee shop. Always greets me with a smile, asks me how I am and knows exactly what to fill my slightly battered personal mug with. The first time he put a heart on the top of my latté and brought it over to me, I thought, ‘Ahh, bless!’ – then he did the same to the old lady on the table next to me! Honestly, I mean I know he’s kind of nerdy looking, not to mention the fact I’m probably old enough to be his mother, but when you get to my age it’s all about whatever gets you through your day, right?

So, on this particular occasion I breeze into the coffee shop, find myself a secluded seat, and get all my ‘stuff’ out. I hand him my mug, we exchange pleasantries, I pay, then return to my seat and open up my laptop to start editing my book. A few minutes later he pops my steamy latté down next to me…
“There you go,” he says.
“Thanks,” I reply, glancing up with a smile.
“Whatcha workin’ on?” he asks.
“Oh, I’m editing my first novel. I just signed a publishing contract and I’m hopefully going to submit the manuscript by the end of the month.”
“WOW!” he says, admiringly, “that’s fantastic, congratulations!”
“Thank you. I’ll have to mention you guys in my acknowledgements, for supplying me with excellent coffee!” I had already thought I would do this anyway.
“That would be great. What kind of novel is it?”
I pause for a second, deciding the best way to respond, bearing in mind he doesn’t look old enough to be out on his own!
“Err, let’s just say it’s not the kind of book you would leave around for your children to read!”
It’s a long time since I’ve seen anyone turn that red in a matter of milliseconds. I’m glad I didn’t give him my usual blunt, straight to the point answer:“erotic fiction!”
“Oh!” was all he could manage as he fiddled with the cloth in his hands and pushed his glasses further onto his nose – even though they hadn’t slipped down!
“That’s why I tuck myself away in the corner?” I explain.
“So you wrote all that stuff in here?” he asks, wide-eyed.
“Yep! Some of it,” I nod.
“Oh, well, good luck with it.” You could now fry an egg on each cheek, poor thing. I am a very bad girl, but he did ask.

Luckily for him it’s a long weekend so I won’t be benefitting from two hours of pre-school Spanish this week. It will be interesting to see what shade he is when I get back from our family ski vacation. And no, I won’t be telling my physio I was skiing, although he’ll be able to tell!

Eats, shoots and leaves!!

Apparently I absolutely need to read this. I have no recollection of being taught grammar and punctuation at school, it is quite possible I was off that week having my leg set in a cast (first attempt at ice skating, only ever been once since and clung to the side the entire time, never again!). All right I know that they will have taught this for more than just a week, and it should have been reinforced throughout my schooling, but I clearly did not retain this information.

My husband is very OCD about this sort of stuff. Honestly, if you’d seen him reading my book the amount of huffing and puffing, eye rolling and sighing was just not true. Since then, bless him, he’s made several desperate and frustrating attempts to teach me the rules. Unfortunately part of my brain my has been pickled by gin, red wine and very expensive prescription drugs! Now what’s left of it is desperately trying to retain 41 years of other useless information.

So, we cut a deal. He would help me publish if I agreed to allow Lynne Truss to teach me what I should have learnt over 30 years ago. And, now that I’ve signed the contract I guess I have to keep my side of deal, especially as it happens to have now made it to the top of my ‘to read’ pile so I now have no excuse not to. However, between you and me, I was hoping to get away with it because now I now have a proper laptop and isn’t that what all those green wavy lines are for?

Disappearing chapters

Well, even though my physio is going to give me hard time for sitting in front of the computer for so long, I’m rather pleased with my little self. I’ve so far managed to reduce the book by two chapters. I realized that I needed to be brutal and really tease out the essential components of the story without losing too much meat. So far, so good, and yes I kept my promise, some of it is gone but there’s still plenty of steam!

I never get tired of reading Frankie and Jack’s story, I have no idea where it came from, it just evolved. After reading Fifty, and many others in that genre, my little brain began to see a recurring theme – hot, dominant male chases younger vulnerable female, they eventually get down and dirty, a lot! Somebody reveals they were abused, there’s a bit of drama, then they all live happily ever after with all their emotional baggage!!

It was getting a bit predictable. Time we had a powerful female and a vulnerable male… and let’s make her older and him younger, like 7 years younger (says the 41 year old with a cheeky wink!)… and let’s have real jobs that people can relate to… with real life events… and what about putting a time limit on this relationship so there’s no inevitable happy ever after here… add in a bit of drama, tragedy and steam – et voilà!!

I wanted to make the reader laugh, cry and curse me… fingers crossed I will achieve that, not only in this book but in it’s sequel.