Friday, July 11, 2014

Editing, Schmediting

SERVANT came back from the editor on Monday, and I've spent every day since then trying not to be disheartened by all the red marks with which my editor painted my document.

Every time I send off a novel or short story to be beta-read or edited, fear reaches out its knobby fingers and latches onto my heart. My chest tightens. I feel like I can't breathe right. What if they say my story sucks? What if it's so bad it can't be published and I have to start all over from the beginning?

I'm sure many authors have this fear. We want our work to be perfect but know it isn't. What is clear in our minds does not always translate to the page, which I have learned time and time again.

In SERVANT'S case, I understood my characters, but the editor found their motivations murky. She said they needed to be developed better. So far I've altered one scene to read from a different character's point of view, flip-flopped two scenes so they appear in a different order, wrote in some flashbacks so a relationship could be understood better, consulted a native Spanish speaker to check the correctness of a sentence, picked a different Bible verse for a passage at a wedding, and fixed what a character was doing since the editor said it was physically impossible for him to do it.

And that's not all, because I'm not finished combing through the document. When I'm done, I'll comb through it again to tweak things further, and then again after that. Then it gets sent back to the editor so she can look at all my changes.

[wipes sweat from brow]

The plus side? She said my writing is tight! (Which means I don't use excessive words.)

SERVANT should be coming very soon now. I can almost taste it. Can you?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Waiting in the Dark

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SERVANT is coming!

But you probably knew that already.

On Thursday I spoke with a book formatting person on the phone for an hour and a half. Do you know how long it's been since I talked on the phone that long? About 7 years--I kid you not. I learned lots and lots of stuff during that hour and a half and even found out that said book formatting person is a huge Dean Koontz fan. (If you don't know, my discovery of Dean Koontz's novels completely changed the style and themes of my writing.)

Anyway--to further whet your appetite while we all await SERVANT'S unscheduled release, here's a snippet from Chapter 11, when Bobby Roland waits for Randy Bellison in the dark...


He sat up and stared at the distant door of the unit Randy had disappeared through. The light still glowed behind drawn curtains. He hoped everything was okay in there. Randy had told him he’d be back, but it grew so late that he considered asking if Randy would be willing to stay there until morning.
            But Bobby wasn’t going to be the guy to interrupt their conversation.
            Or anything else that might be going on in there, for that matter.
            Ever the gentleman, he waited for Randy to emerge.
            Seconds turned into long minutes. It had to be two o’clock by now. Tomorrow he would be cleaning a church at this time of night. By himself. In a seedy part of town. Where people cut brake lines on cars and unseen beings tapped on the windows.
            As if on cue, a small object bounced off the windshield and rolled down the hood. Fear seized his heart for a second before he realized it was only an acorn that had fallen from one of the tree limbs hanging above the car.
            The night became still once more. He waited.
            A length of time passed. He shifted positions and gazed out the window again. The apartment lights were still on.
            He sighed.
            A speck of orange light inside the car to his left caught his eye as he went to lie down again. He squinted. It looked like the burning tip of a cigarette, but aside from that he couldn’t see anything within the vehicle.
            It would seem Bobby was not the only one waiting for something in the dim parking lot, and since nobody had entered or exited the other vehicle since Bobby arrived, the smoker must have lurked behind dark windows for the entire duration of Bobby’s wait.
            He continued to watch the cigarette. Intuition told him the person smoking it was a man. What was he doing here? Casing the joint? Waiting for someone to meet him? Or was he just out here to smoke?
            Bobby held his finger over the automatic lock button, knowing he was probably overreacting. But he wasn’t in the best shape. Kids in school had made fun of him, calling him Knobby Bobby and Skinny Ninny and things like that, generally before he got slammed face first into a locker. If this guy wanted to break into his car and steal his wallet, Bobby wouldn’t be able to stop him without getting broken himself.
            He pushed the button. The sound of the locks engaging was as loud as a car backfiring in the quiet air.
            The cigarette went out.
            Bobby stopped breathing. Two eyes that he couldn’t see were likely staring in his direction.
            “Randy,” he whispered, “it would be great if you could get out of there so I can leave.”
            He supposed he could leave the car himself and take refuge inside the girlfriend’s apartment, but it would be rude to barge in on such a scene. The woman had tried to kill herself. She had to be messed up on something. Drugs, maybe. Normal, healthy people didn’t want to die. They wanted to—
            The voice of reason spoke inside his head. Get out of the car. Now.
            Bobby didn’t need to be told twice. He scrambled across to the passenger seat, made sure he had his keys and wallet, and dove out the door.


For more SERVANT sneak peeks, check out these posts:
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