Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Editing with a Machete (you asked about the book edits, Angie? here's the answer...)

Listening to an album that transports you through space and time to another place, the nostalgia of youth… Talking to an old friend and feeling as though years haven’t passed at all, you’ve just picked right up where you left off. The smell in the air that reminds you so keenly of a day twenty-some-odd years ago when you had your first kiss…

The way your heart catches in your throat when you learn that after 40 years, Mr. Dressup is going off the air forever. My childhood with the tickle trunk, Casey and Finnegan is gone.

Yes, nostalgic, that’s me. It all started with the Canadian issue of Spinetingler. Martha Reed sent me the draft of the article she’s writing.

An American? Writing in the Canadian Issue? Yes. Martha’s writing about the inspiration of Muskoka, where she has spent her vacations since childhood.

I grew up in Gravenhurst, the Gateway to Muskoka. It’s been over 11 years since I’ve been back, but Martha’s article, on why she likes to write in Canada’s cottage playground, had me choking on a pretty big lump in my throat.

Did you know I grew up with an endless backyard, that flowed into a forest, complete with rock cuts, and eventually led to the gravel pit, but you could take trails in three directions, one of which eventually led past the woods at Camp Shalom. Go look at that link and tell me you don’t want to be there, right now? In The Muskoka Lake District…

And I grew up not a fifteen minute walk from the shores of Lake Muskoka, every day in the summer on the beach, watching RMS Segwun - the oldest operating steamship in North America – go by on her runs.

This is one of those things you can’t separate out in your mind. Parts of your childhood might not be stuff you want to think about, but interwoven with the not-so-great is the wonderful. I can close my eyes and I am sitting on the rocks at the cliffs, staring down into the water…

Martha’s article has been part of the wave of nostalgia. I got some new CDs this weekend. I bet you all know what I mean when I say that it’s so incredible to get a new CD by an artist you’ve enjoyed in the past – no, haven’t heard a single song on this CD either, just a faith purchase – and I’m there. The music speaks to me. I feel like I’ve caught up with old friends.

And, then, there were the edits on Suspicious Circumstances.

It isn’t even quite two years to the day that I quit my job and started writing SC. Kevin told me that if I didn’t try, I’d never know if I could make it as an author. So, financially tapped, with a new house to pay the mortgage on, we decided what we could live without and I quit the day job.

And wrote.

I told someone recently I kept writing those characters at first because I was afraid if I stopped I’d lose them. Silly me.

It’s been a long time since I’ve stepped into Lara Kelly and Tymen Farraday’s world. But it feels like catching up with old friends.

It’s no different than how I feel about Muskoka. Close my eyes and I am there, living this story with them.

There have been a lot of things to groan over. Beginner’s mistakes, silly things I did with this manuscript that make me laugh now. Oh, I wish nobody had read it before I’d had a chance to go over it again, but truthfully, I’m thankful for the feedback I got because it’s helped me in this process. And if you have the pre-edit version, put it down now, step away…

People have asked how it’s going, and I have to say well. I did the first rewrite. My good friend JT Ellison read over the new revised draft and has provided some comments on it. Now, I’m in the final stages, going back over it again, to address the things I knew might be problems, and what she pointed out – thankfully, a short list.

Then, the manuscript will go back to my editor. Hopefully, after she looks at it, she won’t have a stroke.

Because it’s sitting, um, considerably shorter than the version she saw. About 16,000 words shorter. I’m afraid to say too much, in case she reads this…

But it’s better. More punch, less dithering. More action, less thinking.

Whole characters are gone. A few relationship developments that may – or may not – make some people happy.

Right now, the most important thing to me is that I feel very positive about the book. I’m happier with everything.

And I’m starting to get some ideas about the next book in the series, which is cool. Because book 3 in the Canadian series has been screaming in my ears so loudly that it’s pissing me off, because I won’t have time to write it for a few months, at least.

Jack and Carly will have to wait. Lara and Farraday are demanding that I pay some attention to them, and it feels pretty good to know that the sizzle is still there. I always wanted to develop this into a series, and for a while, I wondered if that would happen.

Later today when I send the revisions, I hope my editor feels like she’s been handed a diamond instead of getting a cubic zirconia back.

So, am I alone in the nostalgia of returning to a project, to characters, with a bit of fear and trepidation, only to find out it’s like catching up with old friends? Or am I just weird?

Now, on a not-so-nice tangent, I received this message 5 times on the same blog post:

Hi, i was looking over your blog and didn't quite find what I was looking for. I'm looking for different ways to earn money... I did find this though... a place where you can make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below and put in your zip to see what's available in your area. I made over $900 last month having fun! make extra money

With a link to

If you have 5 free minutes email them at and tell them they’re vultures. Tell them they’re the lowest form of life and will never have an ounce of business credibility as long as they spam people. Create a hotmail account just for this occasion. I felt better for at least 30 seconds.

Maybe if they get reams of hate mail, they really will grab a fucking clue and leave us alone. I’m tempted to turn on the verification, because I really really hate the spam. But I also hate verification because half the time, I can’t read the friggin’ letters and have to retry.

I hate spammers. Rotting in hell is too good for them.

Forrest sent some funnies

Blondes and Brunettes
Two bowling teams, one of all Blondes and one of all Brunettes, charter a double-decker bus for a weekend gambling trip to Louisiana.
The Brunette team rode on the bottom of the bus, and the Blonde team rode on the top level.
The Brunette team down below really whooped it up, having a great time, when one of them realized she hadn't heard anything from the Blondes upstairs.
She decided to go up and investigate.
When the Brunette reached the top, she found all the Blondes in fear, staring straight ahead at the road, clutching the seats in front of them with white knuckles.
The brunette asked, "What the heck's going on up here? We're having a great time downstairs!"
One of the Blondes looked up at her, swallowed hard and whispered... YEAH, BUT YOU'VE GOT A DRIVER!

A Pearl Necklace
A young woman was taking an afternoon nap on her birthday.
After she woke up, she told her husband, "I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for my birthday. What do you think it means?"
"You'll know tonight." he said.
That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it--only to find a book entitled:
"The meaning of dreams."

A man is incomplete until he is married.....

....Then he is finished.


JT Ellison said...

Lovely post today, Sandra. I like the nostalgic view of the books -- I get that feeling too.
I'm blessed that my parents have a house where I grew up in Colorado. Once a year, I go out for a week, and I end up coming back with such renewed vigor for my life and my books... I hope now I can go more often. There's something about being in a happy place that gets me productive.
Your editor is going to be thrilled, trust me! And your readers should wait with bated breath, because this is one helluva book.

Bill, the Wildcat said...

Sandra, I can definitely appreciate the fear of "losing characters." I still feel that way about some of mine, even the one's I've written with the most. Glad to hear getting back to them has been an easier thing than expected... and apparently enjoyable, too!

James Goodman said...

I hate those spammers. Though, admittedly, their traffic as slowed considerably in the past month or so. I thought maybe blogger was doing something to prevent the onslaught.

S. W. Vaughn said...

You are not alone. I stopped writing my series to work on another project and feared I would "forget" my characters while entering a whole new world with new faces and new challenges.

But even now, the "old" ones won't shut up. And they're mightily insulted about being called "old."

Great post, Sandra. I'll be happy to blast a few choice words to :-)

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I'm pretty far into the first draft of my crime novel, but also have this other novel I'm writing on the side. The newer work is part of a projected mystery series, and is much lighter in tone.

Whenever things have gotten TOO dark in the minds of my redneck noir characters, I give myself a break by working on the mystery. I've found I can get back into the characters fairly quickly, and the writing usually comes easier after such a break.

DesLily said...

I had the same spammers.. the only way to stop them in comments is to have those funky letters to copy when leaving comments.. i hated doing that but it works.

Andrea at Lochthyme said...

Gotta love those spammers...NOT! I don't get too many hits on my blog but the spammers have managed to find me in multitudes.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Ugh. Spammers, that's why I had to use the word verification on mine. Ick.

Sandra - 16000 words? WOW. You are a brave woman.

Sandra Ruttan said...

JT, thanks re: the book, and for letting me know I'm not the only sentimental schmuck out there!

James, Deslily, Andrea, Dana - yeah, spammers. I thought blogger might have done something as well - I did complain over superlong's penis extension promotion. But I hate turning verification on because sometimes, I enter it and it doesn't work and five tries along I just give up instead of commenting. Pain in the butt.

Bill & SW, I'm glad I'm not alone. But then Patrick comes along and has not trouble with switching characters. Sounds like he's got a good strategy that works for him, though.

I've often wanted to ask, ahem, God how he coped with writing the first Rebus and then writing other stuff without Rebus and going back a few years later and writing the second Rebus book. How do you get back into the character's head?

Obviously, everyone has their strategies! Look at Val McDermid. The woman's amazing. More characters than a soap opera...

angie said...

Yay!! Glad to hear the edits are almost over and working well. Yes, 16000 words sounds like a lot, but it also sounds like it's made your book stronger. I'm sure your editor will be pleasantly surprised. Congrats! You're one step closer to holding that book in your hot little hands!

Trace said...

Way to go on the edits, Sandra. You're on FIYAH! And your editor will know that what you've sent her is a polished, sparkling diamond, that she won't be able to wait to show off to the world.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Angie, thanks. It is a lot, but it's also exactly what needed to happen, in my opinion.

Trace, I don't know about fiyah. I think I just burnt out! I could sleep for a couple days now!

M. G. Tarquini said...

heh. If i can mange it from a cell phone, i,m going to blog about angie and edits!

Amra Pajalic said...

I hate the spammers that leave a comment saying "Nice blog. Check me out," and I do, only to see they're writing in another language. I share your frustration with the word verification thing, but it's stopped the spam dead on my blog.

I'm taking your advice and just leaving the novel. Very hard to do, but will hopefully be worthwhile because will have a fresher perspective.