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The Next Stage

I heard back from my editor yesterday, regarding the manuscript I sent in at the beginning of February. Her email started: “I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Daughter!” and she went on to say what she particularly liked about the story. So I was very pleased with that.

In the next paragraph she mentioned something she thought might be a problem that I should address, and suggested a way I could fix it — which involved a lot of changes. But while editors are always right when they spot a problem, their suggestions as to how to fix it often are not. In this case, I could see a very easy fix, and when I wrote to her and told her what I planned to do, she said, “Oh yes, that would work.”

So now I’m going through the manuscript and double checking it all. She (my editor) sent it back with “track changes” and she’s flagged a few typos, made an occasional comment and noted where she thought I should change things to solve the problem I mentioned above.  I’m also making changes on my own account. It’s been almost four weeks since I saw it last, so that break means I can read it with fresh eyes.

So that’s the next stage in the book production process. After that, if she’s happy with the revised manuscript, it will go to copyediting. The copyeditor will go over it with an eagle eye and spot any mistakes — typos, places where Australian/English spelling has slipped in, mistakes where I’ve accidentally called a character by the wrong name or given them brown eyes instead of blue or green or hazel, and maybe I’ve calculated time wrongly — for instance on one page I might have said it’s a week later but reading it closely it turns out to be only five days. Copyeditors are very nit-picky, for which I’m always enormously grateful. (Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash)

I’m not going to tell you anything about the story yet, because the heroine of this story is someone you’ll meet for the first time in The Heiress’s Daughter, which comes out on May 21st. 
I also can’t show you a cover because we’re still in the process of creating one. I say “we” but it’s the wonderful Berkley Art Dept that does the creating, and I just give feedback/opinions. But as soon as I have a final cover, I’ll post it here first.

The book is in!

I just sent in the full  draft of  THE SECRET DAUGHTER, my latest book, and am wiped.

It’s always a rush to the end for me, as I try to tie in all the loose threads —and since this is the last book in the Brides of Bellaire Gardens series, there’s a need to tie in the series, too, I think.

It’s now with my editor in New York. She will read the manuscript, and give me feedback and make suggestions for revisions. I’m always very glad to receive those because by the time I finish a book, I can’t see the wood for the trees.

Once I have that, I will revise the manuscript again — hoping I can see it more clearly now, having had a break from it.

After that, if she’s happy with it, it will go to a copyeditor, who will correct any typos, and the occasional Australian/UK spelling that has slipped through, and generally make sure there are no mistakes.  Then it will come back to me, to look at those corrections and decide if I agree with them or not. (Spoiler alert — I don’t always.)

After that it will go back to my editor, who will give it a final check, and then send it to be laid out ready to print. That will then come back to me as a pdf, and I will give it one last check.  Surprisingly there is always a handful of small things that have slipped through the process, so I note them and send a report to my editor. The publisher will also appoint a proofreader.

And after all that, there is a long wait while the book is produced, printed and shipped out to bookshops.  Which is why traditionally published books take so much longer to produce than self published (indie) books.

So the draft is finished, but not the book, if that makes sense.
And in the meantime, I’m looking around me and making a list of everything I’ve neglected while the book dominated my life. It’s a long list, and not particularly thrilling. Starting with a little bit of house work, and then . . . TAX. Oh the joy!

I’ll tell you more about the characters and the story later. There’s another book coming out before this one. THE HEIRESS’S DAUGHTER comes out on May 21, 2024. To give you an idea of how long the process can take, I handed in the full draft of that story back in early March, 2023.
But I’ll talk about that story soon.

Going to the Conference

Next week I’ll be heading up to Sydney for the conference. “Which conference?” you ask. The annual Romance Writers of Australia conference.  Up until CoVid hit, I’d never missed a conference, but in the last few years we’ve had conferences cancelled and taken on line, and while one in Brisbane went ahead, the Queensland border was closed to people from other states. So this will be the first in-person conference I’ve attended in several years.

I’m looking forward to it, especially because it gives me the chance to catch up with writing friends I haven’t seen in years. I’ll also be giving a workshop on “Surprise and Delight Your Readers.” I always enjoy giving workshops.

Our conferences are also fun. They kick off on the Friday night with a Costume Cocktail Party with a different theme each year. When I first joined RWAust. the cocktail party used to be a “Meet the Authors” one, and everyone was dressed nicely but not many people were game to come up and talk to authors, who were madly chatting and catching up with each other. 

Because we were spread all across Australia, the annual conference was the only time most of us got to see and talk to each other.  It was lovely for the authors, but not so much for everyone else.

Then one year the conference was held in a historic hotel in Melbourne, and we changed it to a costume theme — from memory the first one was “Dress Retro” and even though quite a few people didn’t dress in costume, we encouraged people to at least get a feather boa, and it really changed the atmosphere.  Everybody chatted to everyone else, there was lots of talk about the various costume — “Ooh look at you!” and “Wow, I love your costume!” etc.

It was the perfect ice-breaker, and since then it’s gone from strength to strength.There’s no compulsion to come in costume, but these days a majority of people do. I always dress up — it’s no big deal for me to make a fool of myself: a friend and I used to run the drama cupboard when I was a teacher, and I enjoy dressing in costume. Especially silly ones.

Mine aren’t very fancy — they’re either home-made (very slapdash) with cheap fabric, and various bits and pieces from the $2 shops near me.  

The creature above in pink — no, it’s not Barbie <g>— it’s  me, some years ago dressed  as Dame Barbara Cartland, complete with pekes.

The pic on the left is me at the “Gone Wild” cocktail party and the headdress is made of a brown feather boa, with a series of spiky dried pods from my big old monstera deliciosa jammed into it. And hand-drawn spots on my face — which were ridiculously tricky to remove that night.

Another year it was all about “Fractured Fairytales”. I dressed as the wicked queen and made a tiara with glued on feathers, rats, snakes and spiders and attached plastic spiders to some of my jewellery. And here’s the photo.

Last time I didn’t go to a lot of trouble. It was a fairy-take theme and I went as Briar Rose, using a patterned velvet coat with roses on it that I had, a string of plastic roses from a $2 shop, some green eyeshadow “vines” on my face and a green feather boa wrapped around my head. The photo here is of me with my friend, author Trish Morey, who was borrowing my roses. Pity we didn’t realize how tastefully we were staged — just outside the male toilets!

As you can see, I do like a silly headdress — feather boas are remarkably easy to wrap around a head — tuck the ends in and they just stay there.  This year I’m not planning to go to a lot of trouble with the actual costume. The theme is “Glitter” and to be honest, I would have to make a costume from scratch, as I don’t have any glittery clothes, and I don’t have time at the moment — especially to make a one-off costume. I do have a beaded top, and I’ve bought a length of sequined fabric that I plan to turn into some kind of turban. I do have plenty of glittery jewelry though, and that will have to do. I’ll post some photos of the cocktail party when I get home again.

Do you like dressing up in costume, or not?