I hope you've had a successful start to 2015. Did you make any resolutions?
I'm ashamed to say I didn't. I'm just plugging away at the jobs I've had on my plate for a while. Now that I've come up for air, I'm shocked that the end of January is in sight. How did that happen?
I’ve just finished putting the finishing touches on Under the Ice, my last Gus LeGarde Mystery. This makes ten in the series, and although I “never say never,” and may well write some more with these characters in the future, I’m breathing a sigh of relief, because some of these books have been waiting to see the light of day since 2006.
Because my head is so full of characters and stories begging to be released, for some reason I write too fast for a traditional publisher to keep pace with me. Especially since they aren’t uniquely devoted to just me. Heck, it wouldn’t be fair for all the other writers in the company to sit around and wait while my publisher focused on me, would it? So, I had a selection of older LeGarde books I’d written years ago, just languishing in the publishing queue.
When I decided to go ahead and put them out myself, I worked hard at it for a year and a half. In addition to a few new titles I managed to write (Devil’s Lake and The Seacrest) and two new books in my Tall Pines series (Sanctuary and Betrayal), I managed to polish up and release Lady Blues, Spirit Me Away, The Liar’s Gallery, and now, coming in a week or so, Under the Ice.
This last book, Under the Ice, was the toughest to edit and make presentable to the world. I’d written it in 2006, and just because of crazy timing issues, I hadn’t touched it since.
I thought it stunk.
Really. When I read it over during the course of three months, chapter by excruciating chapter, I was bored to tears. Maybe it’s because I’ve been writing thrillers and love stories since then. Maybe it’s because I was fitting this “do” job in between writing new, fresh stuff. But I was convinced it might be the worst of my series, and it honestly did need some very tedious editing.
Another issue that happened during this rewrite is that my Microsoft Word program stopped highlighting the misspellings and grammar mistakes. I tried one day to fix it, but couldn’t easily pinpoint the problem. That made for a lot of potential mistakes. Since then I’ve researched it and got it all back in working order. For the record, it was hardly an intuitive fix.
When I sent the book out to my first line of defense, two editors who work for me from the beginning to help me save face when I release the book to its next phase, the Beta Reader Phase, they found quite a few errors. I fixed them, and tried not to make even more mistakes in the “fixing,” (which does happen, as I’m sure you have all seen), and then shipped off the manuscript to about seventeen wonderful volunteers who have various amazing skills they are willing to share with me for the simple reward of “reading the story before it’s released” and also getting their personally inscribed print copy as a thank you. I love these folks, as you might imagine.
I’ve never had so many typos, extra words, missing words, case issues, and inconsistencies as they found in this book. Wow. I’m telling you, the Lord really kept me humble with this one. I think we must’ve had over 200 corrections, and I thank God for my Beta team, because mostly every single reader found a different selection of mistakes than the others! Some readers are best at catching action inconsistencies. Some are wizards with commas. Others have the knack of spotting that extra “to” or missing “a” in my prose. If it weren’t for all of them, however, I’d be flame-faced embarrassed when the book was released.
Because my own brain “reads” what it THOUGHT I “wrote,” I can’t find these errors. My brain thinks it’s so smart, integrating and upgrading the words before I interpret them. But dang it, I hate it. I wish I could spot my own mistakes.
Well, after all is said and done, my readers came back to me with comments like, “This is your best work yet,” “It flowed so well,” “I think it’s my favorite,” etc.
It just goes to show you. A story I hated editing “piecemeal” was actually well received when read as a whole entity.
Once this upcoming release of Under the Ice is done on January 30th, 2015, I am finally going to be free to write fresh, new books in any order I feel like. What a luxury! To tell the truth, I’ve already plotted and started writing a sequel to The Seacrest: a love story, and am halfway done with a sequel to Devil’s Lake, called Devil’s Creek.
After that, who knows? I just know I’ll be having a blast with whatever stories beg to be released next.
Following is a complete list for anyone who’d like to take a look at my stable of books, most of which are in eBook, print, and audio versions.