The Man Who Married a Bridge

Imagine my surprise when I came to the end of a romantic story (not my normal reading choice, but the book was free and so was I. What else need I say?) and found this paragraph:

Few present had ever seen anyone so radiant, they declared, and they may even have been right. Certainly her new husband thought so. He seldom took his eyes from her, it was almost as if he didn’t quite believe in her presence, so that he had to keep looking back to assure himself she was real. But then, few bridges had such creamy ivory skin to complement a creamy silk gown, and few still had such luxuriant midnight-black hair. 

Hmmm. An odd-looking bridge she was, to be sure. No wonder the groom had to keep looking back to assure himself she was real.

For the most part I am indulgent of an error or two or ten in a book. It’s the norm now in a publishing world where the bottom line is more important than the written line, and I know how hard it is to check every single word, but this typo was such a doozy it rated a comment. To be fair, the misspelled word was on the second to last line of the page, and was the last word in the line, and those are notoriously hard places to check. When you copy edit, as when you read, your eyes focus on the center of the page, so any words around the edges (the first and last lines, the first and last words in a line), end up in the hazy field of peripheral vision.

So, if you’re copy editing your manuscript or proofing a book, make a special trip around the edges of your pages, looking for misplaced brides and other anomalies.

Another way to check for typos is to temporarily reset the margins or type size so that the words that would normally appear at the top or bottom of the page end up in the middle. It gives you an entirely new perspective of your book. On the other hand, perhaps you like your grooms marrying bridges. I must admit, it does have an interesting ring to it. (Yeah, I know. Bad pun. But I couldn’t resist.)

Daughter Am I Is Finished!

DAII received my final proof copy of Daughter Am I, my young woman/old-time gangsters coming of age adventure, and I’ve reluctantly agreed to let it go to the printer.  There is always that moment when you realize this is it — you have to live with any mistakes that end up in the book. If there are any, though, it will be sheer accident. The novel went through several good editings, including a final scrubbing by Deborah J Ledford, fellow Second Wind author and editor extraordinaire. It was also scrupulously copyedited by Donna Russell, (creativemuse1(at)aol(dot)com) a treasure I found on Facebook. So my reluctance is more imaginary than real — the book is as perfect as I can get it.

When I received the final copy edits from Donna, she enclosed a note:

Thank you for the opportunity to edit your book, Daughter Am I.  You certainly put a lot of time and effort into researching all of the historical elements, and did a good job incorporating them into the plot without overwhelming it.  I learned several new things — Hegelian dialect, terms such as “lamster,” and a lot about guns, cars, and the Mafia.  I personally enjoy it when an author sends me to the dictionary or encyclopedia (or Google). There were also many excellent lines in the book. I thought these were especially good:

“The loss of something that never was can be as devastating as any other loss.”

“They thought they could rule by fear, but when fear is around every corner, people lose their fear of the fear.”

“They worked in silence, their excitement so great it seemed to shimmer in the air like a heat mirage.”

“It’s odd—I never used to be aware of old people as real persons. I’m not stupid. I know they weren’t born old, but it didn’t occur to me that heroes and villains, killers and great lovers could be hidden in those feeble bodies.”

I also enjoyed your use of humor, and the way you developed the characters.  It was nice to see Mary grow into a more confident woman, see her influence on the old gangsters, and the way she and they came to genuinely care for one another.  You made me care about the characters.  Have you considered a possible sequel?  I can see the potential for more “adventures.” Anyway, just a thought.

Hmmm. A sequel. Could be interesting, but first I have to sell the original. Luckily, it will be released soon  — maybe in two weeks. Sounds like a good excuse for a party! 

 Daughter Am I will be available soon (!) from Second Wind Publishing, LLC

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A Spark of Heavenly Fire Update — Copy-Editing Hell

I found additional mistakes to the proof copy of A Spark of Heavenly Fire, so it will be a couple of more weeks before it’s released. I’ve been afraid that I’m going to be stuck in copy-editing hell for the rest of my life, but I’ve decided that perfection at this point really is impossible. I had the idea that single-handedly I needed to eradicate the POD publishers reputation for releasing less than stellar books, but there is a limit to what one (untrained) person can do. I am learning how to copyedit, though, and I do know one thing: however much copy-editors get paid, it is not enough.

The thing with mistakes is that they proliferate when you are not looking. You correct one, and in the process, create another. When I finished my novel, the manuscript was almost perfect — I’d read the thing out loud, so I would be sure to look at every single word, every single punctuation mark. Then . . . I did one final polish, took out all the extra justs and onlys, the particularlys and practicallys, the barelys and hardlys, the began tos, and the wases. The problem is, other words got deleted along the way (don’t ask me how, because I don’t know) and I didn’t catch them. Yikes.

And then there are the choices to be made. Is it ill-prepared or ill prepared? I originally had ill-prepared, but MSword said that was wrong, so I deleted the hyphen. And now I want it back for the simple reason that the hyphen is how it is commonly used. And what about brand new? My dictionary says it’s brand-new, but common usage has it as brand new. So which do I use? I think I’ll leave out the hyphen; that way there will be one less change to make.

Some of the changes  that need to be made entail rewriting a sentence. In the proof copy, smelled is on two lines: smell-ed. Smelled can’t be hyphenated, so now I have to decide how to rewrite the sentence so smelled can fit on one line. I had “He fell silent for a moment, savoring the feel of her tee shirt- and jeans-clad body next to his. She smelled clean and fresh, like cucumber, or melon, or pear.” So how do I change the sentence, so that smelled can fit on one line? “savoring the fell of her thinly clad body”? savoring the feel of her tee shirt-clad body”? Neither of those do it for me. But now, writing this, I see what I can change. I can take out “for a moment”. (Yes, I know that the period belongs inside the quotation marks, but this is proofing, and perhaps whoever is making the changes to the print copy will think the period needs to be taken out.) See what I mean? Copy-editors are not paid enough.

Well, now it’s put up and shut up time. Make the important changes, and try not to sweat the small stuff. I can guarantee, though, that whoever came up with that particular phrase is not a copy-editor. With copy-editing, it’s all about the small stuff.

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