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My Writer's Journal

What I Like/Dislike About Writing

I love it when I get a new idea. I'm excited when I do enough research to recognize that it's a good idea, even more excited when an editor says, "Tell me more." I love doing the basic research, enough to start writing, and then more advanced research as the project becomes more complicated. I'm hyped when I see the story unfold, taking off in directions I hadn't expected. I'm happy when I see it all coming together with the end actually in sight. I'm glad when the first draft is done and happy when I see what I need to do in the next draft.

I feel good when I send the ms. to the editor. I feel even better when the word comes back that the editor likes it but sees need for improvement. I'm energized when I jump into that complete rewrite, and I'm even glad when there are more questions, more problems to be solved and I can figure out how to solve them.

I DO NOT LIKE to get the ms. back from the copyeditor (CE)with dozens upon dozens of queries and suggestions for small changes; when the CE disagrees with my research, questions my conclusions, or goes to sources different from the ones I've used. I know that's what CE's do. But I don't like it.

This week BEAUTY'S DAUGHTER arrived, and I've spent the past few days going over all those queries. It's the CE's job to question things. We both want the book to be accurate, the grammar to be correct, the spelling perfect. Today I've struggled with the correct spelling of Pharsalos, a small, remote city in ancient Greece where Hermione spent some very unhappy months. The CE has changed every single reference to Pharsalus--"us," instead of "os"--which is a more modern spelling of the name. The CE is wrong. But now I have to find evidence to prove it.

CE says her sources say it's "Lion Gate;" my sources call it "Lions Gate." We're both right--but I want it my way.

Sometimes, of course, CE catches some bloopers--I've made a few--and for that I'm grateful. But this is the one part of the process of writing and publishing that I definitely do NOT enjoy. Fortunately, it will be finished soon. By the end of this week I'll be doing something I really love--working on a new novel. Read More 
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The Blog Tour

I have no idea how many book-lovers are out there blogging about the books they enjoy, but there must be a bunch. I decided to do a blog tour to promote VICTORIA REBELS. Some of my writer pals have organized their own, which seems to involve an awful lot of work, just to set it up, and so I opted to enlist the services of a bright and ambitious young woman, Gabrielle Carolina, who has a blog of her own, The Mod Podge Bookshelf. We decided to run it Feb. 18th to Mar. 13th.

I left on Jan. 9th for Paris and Spain, using my iPhone to check my email periodically, and toward the end of the trip (which was wonderful, by the way) the schedule and the interviews began to pop up. By the time I got home a week ago after more than 24 hours without sleep and a heavy cold coming on, all but one of the 18 bloggers who had signed up for the tour had sent their questions. On Monday, surrounded by Kleenex, I began answering.

The ones I enjoyed most were the "character interviews," in which I pretended to be the interviewee and actually made up my own questions or edited the ones submitted, and then I answered them in the character's voice. Most fun was answering in the persona of the villainous Sir John Conroy.

The hardest were the Top Ten lists. What were Queen Victoria's ten favorite things? Well, after her dog and her horse, the color blue and boiled eggs for breakfast, I began to run out of things. Even more difficult, what were MY ten favorite things about the Victorian Era? Hey, I love the hats and the gloves and the gardens! But then what? I struggled most of all with what seems like an innocuous question: My ten favorite or most influential books. I couldn't come up with even ONE that I'd put on such a list, and so I dodged and described the sources I used to write VICTORIA REBELS. Personally, I think that's much more interesting, and I hope the blogger agrees. Meanwhile, I keep thinking about what has really influenced me. Read More 
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