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Everlasting Editing

Posted by on in Married in the Nick of Nine
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As some of you may know who follow my blog, this past January I landed a four-book deal with Soul  Mate Publishing for my Cass & Nick series. The first book in the series, “Married in the Nick of Nine,” will be released in early July. But before that happens, there’s work to be done. The first item on the to-do list is editing.

Yes, Deborah Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing was impressed with my writing and my story, but in the publishing world, a good editor will work with you to take your book to the next level. Sometimes this can entail some serious heavy lifting. It’s so heavy that the process is referred to as rounds. Round, 1, 2, 3, etc.

When I received the redlined copy of my manuscript a couple of weeks ago, the subject line of the email said Round 1. That phrase conjured up images of a boxing match. Would the process involve my editor and me duking it out over manuscript changes? Did that mean that if I didn’t agree with a comment or change, I’d have to fight to get what I wanted? Leave it to the lush imagination of a writer. No, none of the aforementioned is true. It just simply means that more than likely, after reviewing and addressing her comments and changes, we will have to revisit my manuscript a second time and perhaps a third.

“Married in the Nick of Nine” is an 86K-word novel. The character count with no spaces is 371,866 and 455,116 with spaces.  That’s a lot of copy for one pair of word-weary eyes to review, and invariably, not everything that needs to be addressed gets addressed. Oftentimes the perfect manuscript I thought I had submitted is marred with a solecism or two, or three. I find that no matter how many times I go over my work, I miss something—from small things like omitting words that I thought I had typed, but in actuality the word is still lodged in my head and had never made it to my fingertips and onto the keyboard, and then onto the manuscript—to bigger issues involving story development and or continuity.

 For example, after innumerable reads of “Married in the Nick of Nine,” I recently discovered a blooper in the first act of the book. I have Cassandra (protagonist) and her cousin Cynthia returning to the main sanctuary for church services. This is after they were caught in the ladies’ restroom having a lively discussion about Cassandra’s love interest, Nick Harte.  When they return to their seats, I have Cyn sitting in front of Cass, her mother, and father. However, a paragarah later, I have Cyn tapping Cassandra on the back of her shoulder. Either Cyn has  Octopus arms or I’ve made a blunder. Unfortunately, the latter is true. Then there is the scene where Cass asks to see Nick’s I.D. when he accompanies her home. She takes a gander and says, “Queens.” But Nick lives in Hollis and the address on his license would say Hollis not Queens. Cass is not a New Yorker and is not familiar with New York, so she never would have said “Queens.” It’s howlers like these that make me glad I have an experienced editor working on my novel.

Round one took approximately two weeks and now I’m anxiously awaiting Round 2. Will there be a round 3 or 4 or 5? I feel like a boxer wanting to get the knockout in round 1. However, a masterpiece may not take forever, but it does take time! Actually I’m having fun. I love having the opportunity to make my story shine and I can’t wait until its release in July!


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Born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco, playwright and author, Alretha Thomas is making her name through her pen. She started at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher picked and read her short story assignment in front of the class – that simple, loving act empowered a new writer. A graduate of U.S.C., Alretha’s plays have graced numerous Southern California stages. Her most recent production, “One Woman, Two Lives,” starred Kellita Smith of the Bernie Mac Show. Her debut novel, “Daughter Denied” was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Her second novel “Dancing Her Dreams Away,” launched in 2011 and was also well-received. “Married in the Nick of Nine” is her third novel and she recently completed the sequel, “The Baby in the Window.” Alretha says the one and only upside to her 350-mile-a-week-commute, is that it gives her ample time to come up with story ideas. When not in bumper–to-bumper traffic she enjoys going to the movies, blogging, and spending time with her husband Roy.