Back to Work – When Did I Leave?

The cruise was great.  We came home with wonderful memories butt sick as dogs, bringing with us a case of the walking crud—coughing, sore throats, etc—that was severe enough to send us both seeking help from our doctor.  That’s not something that happens very often.  We’re on the mend now but still not completely over it.

While on our three week cruise, I completed and e-mailed the manuscript to the next Joanna book—Field of Bones.  Before the end of the cruise, the line editing came back, and I did that, too.  Line editing means going through the manuscript word by word and making the changes suggested in the editor’s edits along with some changes of my own.

We arrived home a week ago today, late on Thursday night, not only jet-lagged but under the weather as well and spent a mostly brain-dead weekend. Monday evening the copy-editing arrived.  Copy-editing is best described as encountering your strictest ever English teacher who has used a red pencil to mark up and grade your three page essay on, say, The Evils of Huck Finn.  Oh, wait, that never happened to me.  I’m old school—very—and when I was in high school the world had not yet declared Huck Finn to be evil.

Nonetheless, you get the idea about copy-editors, except a four-hundred page manuscript is not a three-page essay.  As my mother, Evie, would say, “It’s a white horse of a different color.”  Copy-editing means hundreds or maybe even thousands of corrections that must be reviewed and marked as approved (or not).  Since this is done on an electronic file, the dreaded red pencil marks no longer exist, but with several editors weighing in with their comments, there are any number of colors marking up every page.

The copy-editing request came in late on Monday evening along with an e-mail pronouncement saying that it needed to be back in New York by today—Thursday.  I tried to work on it on Tuesday and made some slow progress—85 pages or so—but I kept nodding off over the iPad, and copy-editing is something that requires razor-sharp attention.

On Wednesday morning we had our long-scheduled appointments with our doctor for our annual physicals.  He told us that we’re gradually recovering from the crud, and that it isn’t going to kill us.  However, the appointments and accompanying blood work took up most of the morning, and Bill took me to lunch on the way home.  We were back by around 12:30 PM, and that’s when I went to work.  For the rest of the day.  And on into the night—from 12:30 PM to 12:30 AM before I was finally able to press send.

Some of you are probably thinking, “So what does she want, some kind of medal?” Believe me, I am well aware that there are lots of people out there in the world who routinely put in twelve-hour shifts at jobs far more physically challenging than sitting in a chair and dealing with … well … GRAMMAR, of all things!

But here’s the deal.  I’m incredibly grateful that, at age 74, I can still marshal the little gray cells and put them into action in a focused fashion in the face of a killer deadline.  And if my mother’s ability to work cross word puzzles well into her nineties is any indication, I should be able to keep on working for a very long time.

Yesterday, my doctor asked me, “Do mystery writers EVER retire?”  The indomitable Mary Higgins Clark immediately came to mind.

“Nope,” I told him.  “I don’t think we ever do.”

18 thoughts on “Back to Work – When Did I Leave?

  1. Glad to hear that you have no plans to retire soon. I enjoy all your book series so much plus I love reading your blog. I hope you are 100% over the crud soon!

  2. Glad you both are on the mend…Sad to go on a cruise and contact a bug..Looking forward to your new book…I’ve been a fan of yours for years. .Stay healthy, keep writing your wonderful books…I believe that’s what keeps us going, using the talent that God gave us.

    • I agree that using the talent that God gave us is the key to health and happiness. I can’t imagine you retiring. You are such a great story teller who would really be missed if you stopped writing.

  3. I really enjoy learning about the background work of your books and your personal information. It all makes the reading of your books more complete. Glad you’re going to continue to write. Thanks.

  4. I have heard of so many people getting sick on cruises-in last few years!!! Sorry it happened!
    As a retired English instructor, I sometimes edit free for authors!! Editing should be correcting grammar and punctuation-I never change the creative process! The thing that seems to annoy me is the control editors have over writers! Dates to publish-covers-changing characters and names etc…
    Mary Higgins Clark is miraculous and a fantastic writer! One is never unpleasantly surprised with her books-she must believe that if it is not broken don’t’ try to fix it!

  5. Hopefully, you WILL continue to deliver your great tails. I’ve read al of them so far several times! Glad you two are recovering!! Thanks for posting! Oh, I’m the same age and plan to stick around to enjoy your efforts!! Lol!

  6. Wow…sorry to hear you and Bill got the crud, but glad you are recovering. My husband and I picked it up as we traveled through New Mexico and Arizona. It was lovingly named Valley Fever.
    Whatever it is, it isn’t fun…but reading your blog always is. I appreciate your humor and want to thank you for my morning laugh.
    Take care and remember a glass of wine a day is good for what ails you, and for your soul 🙂

  7. Glad you are on the mend. Sending prayers for a speedy recovery.
    I’m glad your gray matter is still working and so looking forward to your next books!!

  8. We’ve all been “butt sick as dogs” at one time or another, so truly empathize with your situation.
    I once typed my son’s 9th grade term paper. (They received better grades if type written but none of them knew how yet.) It was late. I wasn’t feeling well. I “corrected” his spellling of Emperor to Emporer multiple times. That was they only red penciled thing in an otherwise unmarked, highly praised paper. A-

  9. Oh dear. Glad you were able to get your work done. Good news indeed, that you two are on the mend. Now, perhaps, a strenghtening break? When traveling a few years back, I decided 2 weeks would now be my limit.

    Your stories on deadlines, editing, etc., reminds us all that writing a book isn’t as easy as we might believe.

  10. I love reading your blogs……we can all relate to them. In the last 13 months, hubby and I have read the Joanna series, Beaumont series, Walker series (he read it; I’m saving it for our upcoming 2 week cruise), and now we are finishing up the Ali series. The other day he looked at me with a stunned look and said “We’re almost done with all of her books. What are we going to do? We won’t have anything to read.” It’s like the world is coming to an end! We will see you at the “Field of Bones” book signing.

  11. I have both a comment, and a question. First of all, I fully admit that I’m a spelling and grammar nerd. Spelling, and egregious grammar errors just jump out at me, in someone else’s writing. (Obviously, I also believe that it’s nigh on impossible for us to edit our own writing, that we simply have looked at it too long, and no longer “see” the errors.) I believe that your books are some of the best edited books I’ve ever read. I cannot remember if I’ve EVER found an error in one of your novels. However, these days, when I read fiction, I often wonder if ANYONE is editing some of these books. Because, while I notice, rarely do misspelled words, or less than perfect grammar, take away the joy of a well told story. Lately it seems that there is a point where that line can be crossed with me, and it’s happening more and more often. Is the kind of editing that I assume is in place for your books, a product of your success? Do younger, newer authors not have that process available to them? I’m just curious. It truly does seem to be getting worse these days, and it makes me sad.

  12. I hope you will enjoy a Mary Higgins Clark story. On her first trip to London as a stewardess for Pan American, she was so excited that she didn’t take a nap upon landing, which is the best thing to do, but went sight seeing. She stopped on one street corner trying to decide where to go next. A street walker approached her and told her to beat it as it was HER corner. I think it is a great story.

  13. Keep on writing. Your Joanna Brady novels keep on getting better and better. Up to date with JP Beaumont. Going to start Ali Reynolds.

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