Hallelujah! HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL is finally ready to publish, or almost. Yesterday I finished combining the prologue and 36 chapters into one gigantic document of 265 pages and 78,318 words – longer than I’d expected, but an ideal length for the first book of a trilogy. Or who knows, maybe it’ll become a longer series. I feel as if I’ve barely begun to explore all the possibilities in this paranormal soap opera vampire saga.
In countless workshops and articles, I’ve heard the same advice: get an editor. I’ve always disregarded it, convinced I’m my own best editor. This time my husband, who has extensive professional experience in publishing, gave my final draft a careful read-through, and he found relatively few things that needed changing. Even so, it’s amazing how many nit-picky things I’ve found to research even after I thought I was finished.
The names of cheeses, for example – how do you know which to capitalize? Swiss cheese, with its many holes, is a no brainer, but how about Brie or Stilton? Yes, they’re capitalized because they’re named for specific locations where they originated, but it takes some Googling to find out which are actual place names. Some are capitalized because they’re domain-protected, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, which can only be made in those specific cities. We don’t capitalize ricotta, though, because the name simply means “recooked.”
And what about hats? I had my hero hunkered down in a cab, with a fedora pulled down low to hide his face, but I thought I’d better check to be sure that was actually the correct word for the hat I was visualizing. Turns out I was right. Picture Bogart, Sinatra or the film noir heroes and villains of countless 40’s movies – they’re all wearing fedoras. But in the course of my research, I learned all about porkpies and homburgs too.
Then there are new-fangled terms like showrunner. It’s the trendy term for the head honchos/creators/auteurs of TV series, like David Chase of The Sopranos and Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad.* But is it one word or two? When I was working on my first draft two years ago, Word’s Spellcheck underlined showrunner with that squiggly red line every time I used it, but now the powers-that-be at Microsoft have decided it’s a genuine word, and the red squiggle is no more. In the new Vanity Fair, however, Beau Willimon, the creator of the Netflix series House of Cards, is described as a hyphenated “show-runner.”
Consistency is the key – that’s why publishers and periodicals have style guides, and they don’t always agree. In my personal style manual, showrunner is one word, but I found a couple of instances where I’d made it two, so I changed them. And I’m ultra-cautious with the “find” and “replace” functions, which can lead to weird consequences. For example, I had a villainous character named “Nick,” and I changed him to “Mick.” My husband caught the line where I said something happened “in the Mick of time.”
But these are just copy editing issues. Then of course there’s the over-all flow of the story line, the characters – I could go on and on about that kind of editing, but I’ve said enough for one post. I’ve done my damnedest to make this novel the very best it can be. That’s not to say it couldn’t be better, but I’m not changing a word. If some agent or publisher wants to take it on and offers me a gazillion dollars upfront, I may reconsider. Until then, for better or worse, Hope Dawns Eternal is a fait accompli, and I’m ready to send it out into the world. With any luck, it will be available by the end of February. Then it’s on to the sequel!
*Brett Martin’s book Difficult Men (Penguin, 2013) is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of modern series like The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
P.S. I still haven’t found my illustrator and designer, and I need money to hire good ones. Please help by donating to me at www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Every little bit helps, and I’m offering prizes. I may even name a character after you!