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Category: Writers

Page Proofs

I’ve just sent off the page proofs of Marry In Secret — Rose’s story.
I find page proofs agonizing to do. This is the final step in preparing the manuscript for publication — my final step that is, not the publisher’s. It’s the last time I get to change anything. 

The stages in writing for publication go like this:

1) I send my manuscript to my editor at Berkley.

2) She reads it and makes comments, tells me the bits she likes, points out areas she thinks aren’t clear or that I could strengthen or tighten or expand on — that kind of thing. She doesn’t change my sentences or anything — these are just general comments about the story. It’s called a structural edit — concentrating on how the story unfolds.

3) She sends her comments back to me, and I go through the manuscript again and make any changes I want to, keeping her comments in mind. It’s usually been a few weeks since I read it, so I can see it with a fresh eye. 

4) Then I send it back and she reads it and if she’s happy with it, it will be sent to a copyeditor.

The copyeditor edits on a word and sentence level. She will correct typos and apply house style to things such as hyphenated words and the use of commas. Copyeditors are wonderfully picky — they will spot that the timeline doesn’t quite follow — mine actually prepares a day by day calendar for each story — or spot that someone’s eye color has changed, or a butler had been renamed. Continuity things.

They also spot grammatical errors, and the words that I’ve forgotten to change to American spelling — Australian spelling is the same as English spelling, so my people go travelling not traveling, and move towards the door, when apparently Americans would say toward. A copyeditor also spots when water gurgles nosily down a pipe instead of noisily. She will query expressions like “walking in a crocodile” (the way school children walk in a line, two by two) in case readers might not understand, and “the wee small hours” which could be a tautology. (It is, but it’s also a common expression.)

5) The copyedited manuscript then comes back to me to go through again, so I can approve  or reject those changes and make any other changes I want to. It’s the last time I really get to change anything. As well as the small things the copyeditor has flagged, I might decide to delete a scene, or add one in — I did both this time around. 

6) Then it’s back to the main editor for a final read through, and then it goes to be laid out exactly as it will appear in the final book. 

7) This then comes back to me in a pdf for a final final read through to spot any mistakes. I find this stage in the process excruciating. By now I’ve read the story I don’t know how many times and I’m usually sick of it. But I have to read it, not for story, or expression or characterization, but for tiny little mistakes, a comma in the wrong place, or a typo that everyone has missed — really nit-picky stuff.  Because if I miss something, it’s certain that a reader will pounce on it. This time I found 7 small mistakes — to instead of so, that kind of thing. I might have missed some but by now I’m practically cross-eyed.  The next time I see this book will be as a real book, published, bound, and when it’s too late to change anything.

8) I send back my changes — I list them in a document, but I also print off the pages affected, mark the changes clearly with a pen and take a photograph of each page and email that to my editor. That’s how it’s done these days — all electronic.

So now Rose and her story has gone. I always feel a bit sick when the final final version has gone. There’s nothing I can do now except hope people will like the story. And get cracking on the next story — George’s story.

 

The Australian Romance Readers Awards

I’m just back from Sydney where I attended the Australian Romance Readers annual awards dinner.  It’s always a lovely event —  meeting up with readers and fellow authors, talking about and celebrating books, and eating good food in a lovely old hotel.

 

 

Our table — that’s us in the photo — ended up celebrating quite a lot, as three of us (Kelly Hunter, Keri Arthur and I) won awards.

From left: Jacqui Greig,  Keri Arthur, Kelly Hunter, then I’m across the table next to Alli Sinclair and Jo MacKay (from HarperCollins). Kariss Stone took the photo.

 

 

My book, MARRY IN SCANDAL, won Favourite Historical Romance. 

The full list of winners is here

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s me with my award. 

It was a lovely night, and I’d like to thank Debbie Phillips, the ARRA organizer, and the wonderful volunteers and readers who make ARRA such a special organization.

Author Friends

Yesterday I headed out to meet up in the city for lunch with some author friends. We meet on Southbank, on the banks of the Yarra River, in Melbourne. It was a perfect sunny summer day, warm but not too hot, and with a lovely breeze.

 A lot of people assume that authors must be quite competitive and that that there’s a fair bit of rivalry between us. That’s not at all the case in my experience. Maybe it’s the nature of romance writers — we do, after all write the literature of hope — or maybe it’s that most of us are women, and women tend to be more cooperative and helpful, but whatever the reason, I’m blessed in my writing friends.

I belong to a number of writers’ organizations, and a number of informal groups. Yesterday’s  group is from Melbourne and surrounds, and we meet several times a year for lunch, always at the same place, which has a wonderful smorgasbord and yummy desserts. First there’s a bit of personal catching up, because we’ve known each other for a few years now, and then, inevitably the talk turns to books and writing. 

Pic: from left: Sarah Mayberry, Alison Stuart, Melanie Scott, Michelle Conder, me. On other side of table, from rear: Carol Marinelli, Keri Arthur, Marion Lennox, Joan Kilby

We talk about what we’re writing and what we’re reading, we do “show and tell” showing our books and new covers, and sharing things around. Most of the talk is about business — because we’re all professional authors and make our living by writing. We started as all traditionally published authors (ie published with large international publishers) but several in the group have now become fully self-published, and are doing very well. And the business is always changing, so that’s  always fascinating. And a little bit unsettling — for me, anyway.

Another informal group I meet up with is a little “historical” group. There are just four of us, and three of us write historical romance and one is the official biographer of Georgette Heyer, Jennifer Kloester. Julia Byrne and Stephanie Laurens started out writing for Mills and Boon Historicals at the same time. Julia then left writing for many years for family reasons and has only recently recommenced her writing career, but they have remained friends and each others’ crit partners for all that time. Isn’t that wonderful?

Pic: from left me, Julia Byrne, Jennifer Kloester (standing) Stephanie Laurens. 

Another of my writers groups is called the Word Wenches, a group of mainly historical romance writers, mostly from the USA, but with one Canadian, one Brit and one Australian (me.) Being so far flung, we rarely meet face to face, but most days we chat on email, and even though I can count on my fingers the number of times we’ve met, we know each other pretty well. I’m going to the USA this year for the Romance Writers of American conference, where the Word Wenches will be presenting on a panel, and afterwards, we’re heading off to go on a small writing retreat. I can’t wait!

Speaking of retreats, I attend a writing retreat every year with another group of writers. It started around twelve years ago as a way of breaking down isolation between romance writers — we come from four different Australian states, and one is from NZ (and now lives in France) The first time we came together, we were relative strangers — some had never met — but now, with daily email conversations and annual retreats, we’re all very close.


Pic: From left: Carol Marinelli, Trish Morey, Marion Lennox, Kelly Hunter, me, then on the right from the rear: Barbara Hannay, Fiona McArthur, Meredith Webber. Missing: Alison Roberts.

We help each other all the time — we brainstorm plots, talk over scenes, share information and advice, and offer feedback and encouragement, especially  when times are tough.  And of course, since most of our communication happens on line, when we finally do meet up face to face, what better thing to do than share a meal? 

I’ve only shown you the tip of the iceberg of my romance writing friends here. When I first started writing, I never imagined I’d make so many friends — and some are the best friends I’ve made anywhere. And I haven’t even touched on the readers who’ve become friends —I’ll save that for another post.