I approached the computer with trepidation. It was here, at last. The email I had longed for, had dreaded, had thought about deleting without reading. I could do that, you know. If I just ignored all emails, letters, and phone calls from Champagne Books, eventually they would decide I had died or joined a convent to repent my sins and I wasn’t gonna publish my baby. I mean, wouldn’t they? Of course, there was that nasty bit of business about a contract, but surely, speaking as an attorney now, they wouldn’t sue me. Would they? Yeah, they might.
So I took a deep breath and hit the “read” button. Nice friendly letter from my editor, Nikki. (Thank God she has good name. I have two close friends named Nikki/Nicky. I couldn’t have coped with an Edna or a Gertrude.) She said I had a strong heroine, and that I had good insight into how her childhood had affected her personality. SQUEEEEEE! Okay, that’s a good start.
Then a couple of points about what’s wrong. Is she saying something is WRONG with my writing? My soul screams in despair, but since it is after midnight and the babies are asleep, I just whimper and settle down to read what she says. Hmmm, my timeline is unclear; if they met in October and married in December, when was the London trip? Dammit, I thought no one would notice that! Yeah, she caught me on a plot point that I thought would get lost in the lovely flow of my prose. And my heroine Susan seems less than sympathetic for partying hearty with the Haute Ton whilst back home her stepmother is being abused by Susan’s crazy father? Well, yeah, I guess she ought to write home once in a while. She knows Dad’s a nut, and if Susan’s not there to beat on, Julia is in the line of fire. Yeah, good point.
And then I scroll through the MS itself. I’m expecting a sea of red ink to flow from my computer screen, and sure enough, there are some changes right there on the first page. Gee, why does Nikki think it’s a problem to say “this evening” three times in four paragraphs? Picky, picky, picky. Okay, yeah, I then say it again on the next page. Maybe I should run a find for that.
Luckily, she does not mention anything about using “ing’s” and “ly’s” on occasion. (Take that, Judge-who-must-not-be-named!) She does notice that my heroine and her brother sometimes have the same last name, and sometimes they don’t. Yeah, I changed the family name as the story developed. Thought I had caught all of those.
Skimmed through a couple times, and you know what? She’s right. Absotively, posilutely correct about the stuff I need to fix. And the things I thought I would have to fight for — a couple of scenes, a historical fact or two — she didn’t even mention.
So, despite months of chewing upon my nails and cussing at the cat, my anxiety was for naught. I can live with this. Given the horror stories I’ve heard about editors from Hades, I feel like I hit the jackpot.
And so to work . . . .