Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Advanced Reading Copy Blues

Sharon Wildwind 

Here it is, the advanced reading copy of Loved Honor More. Yes, I think it looks good. Yes, I’m delighted to have it. Yes, I have my usual case of ARC blues.

Note the oval that says uncorrected proof. This means I had one final kick at the can to get things right. I had to find the errors that I missed, my proofreader missed, and my editor missed. And I had to reach perfection quickly, so one morning last week I read the whole book, start to finish.

Having not had a boo at it for several months, there are things in it that I can’t remember writing. There always are. I have to trust that someone didn’t hack my e-mail account and use my e-mail address to send unauthorized changes to the editor. 

See those four fuzzy markers to the right? (One is yellow, so you might not be able to see it. It’s there. Trust me.) Five corrections this time, one which I didn’t bother to mark. That’s less than half of what I usually find, so the editor did a super-bang-up job.

The thing I didn’t mark has to do with a span of days. I was sure some reader was going to think that I couldn’t count how many days separate Wednesday and Sunday. The issue here is that the International Dateline is involved, so yes it really was six, even though it seemed like five. I figured I should tell the editor that sentence was correct in case someone questioned it at the last minute.

Three of the four corrections were minuscule: commas and misspelled words. The fourth one actually required that I rewrite a sentence. My feet had gotten tangled up in the words and I tripped over the prose. The sentence made no sense at all. Now it does.

What keeps bugging me is one additional sentence. Even though it’s perfectly clear, there is one word in it that I could ask them to change and it might improve the sentence. I had to ask myself, is this obsessive-compulsive disorder, or great editing? Since I’d already sent in the corrections, I decided it was obsessive-compulsive editing and let it go. Be free, little sentence.

Also note the big, unfriendly NOT FOR SALE in the oval. This is why the copies just arrived. The publisher had declared the equivalent of “no commercial value” on the customs slip and Canada Customs was skeptical that two boxes of books had no commercial value. It took four people exchanging e-mail with the customs broker to sort this out, so the shipment was delayed at the border.

For some reason I got more ARCs this time, like about four times as many as I usually get. While those books look impressive on the bookshelf, what I want to do most is to empty that shelf as soon as I can. That means I have to ship out four times the number of books that I usually do.

The problem is my nemesis, the Postal Angel. Don’t let that blond hair and angelic face fool you. Every time I try to mail packages, she makes shipping boxes and tape disappear, deletes addresses, hides the bag of plastic popcorn packing, and ensures that I fill out the wrong customs slip, so I have to fill out new forms at the post office. All of this makes mailing packages my almost absolutely least favorite activity in the whole world. I tend to put it off, sometimes with disastrous results. I guess I’ll just have to shoo her away and get to the mailing ASAP.

Incidentally, I’ve got a book launch scheduled. Thursday, 2012 November 22 at Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary. Come on over. We’ll have a great time.

Just in case you don’t want to wait for the launch, here’s the first three paragraphs:

Sunday, 4 May 1975, 2200 hours
The Homestead
Madison County, North Carolina

Ex–Army Nurse Elizabeth Pepperhawk burrowed deeper under her quilt. If she could stop the images, she could sleep. Both Saul and Avivah had warned her not to read every issue of Time and Newsweek, not to linger over each gruesome photograph coming out of Vietnam and Cambodia. If Avivah really were her best friend, she would have snatched magazines from her hands. That wasn’t fair. Avivah was her friend, not her mother or her watchdog. It wasn’t Avivah’s fault that Pepper now shared sleepless nights with images of dead children and burned vehicles.

Pepper weighed the quality of her tight, hard stomach knot. If she concentrated on feeling nauseous, she could make herself ill. If she were lucky, she might vomit. A good upchucking would be a hell of a lot better reason for booking off sick tomorrow than “We lost the Vietnam War five days ago. My country’s honor is a shambles, and I don’t have enough energy to get out of bed.”

The doorbell’s shrill ring cut through the dark, cool night. Who came calling at ten o’clock at night? 

Quote of the week
Touchdown confirmed. We are safe on Mars.
~Jet Propulsion Lab engineer, late in the evening of 2012 August 5, California time

I’ve worn my lucky NASA T-shirt every day for the past week, hoping to work the right ju-ju to get Curiosity safely to the Martian surface. (If I had a JPL T-shirt, I would have worn that instead. Come to think of it, I might embroider a sweat shirt with “JPL got my Curiosity down”) I’m pretty sure that the T-shirt had absolutely nothing to do with the safe landing, but I can always dream. Congratulations to everyone who worked on this project.


Sheila Connolly said...

The part I always love about editing after a long absence (what? there's something to love?) is when I find something I wrote and it makes me laugh spontaneously.

Do not get me started on commas...

Julia Buckley said...

Trying to read your book with an objective eye is really difficult at this stage--but congratulations on reaching this stage.

The cover looks great!

lil Gluckstern said...

Congratulations on the book; I can't wait to read it. Hopefully, you will remind us closer to publication :)