Congratulations, Mrs King, it’s a book!


478 typescript pages concerning THE ART OF DETECTION, going down to the photocopier’e2’80’99s tomorrow so I don’e2’80’99t have to nurse the printer for hours and hours, into the FedEx box on Monday, onto my editor’e2’80’99s desk on Tuesday.

While I’e2’80’99m away in England, the thing will come back to me, its right-hand side at least half an inch thicker than the left with the myriad comment notes that wrap around the pages. The editor’e2’80’99s remarks are in pencil, the occasional compulsive grammatical correction but more important, the comments about plot, character, wording, and the thousand and one elements that go into a novel. When she is finished with her line edit, she generally sends it directly to the copy editor’e2’80’94theoretically if there are big changes it comes back to me first, but in practice we’e2’80’99ve worked together enough that there aren’e2’80’99t any. So the copy editor gets it, changes all my commas to periods and my periods to commas, questions my characters’e2’80’99 names and sprinkles fact-check requests throughout. A good copy editor, although maddening, makes the book work, because she (most often in my experience she, although I’e2’80’99ve had a couple of males) smoothes over the bumps and points out the inconsistencies that are so distracting for a reader. I do, I admit, fully indulge my own colored pencil (I’e2’80’99m usually green, as contrast to the copy editor’e2’80’99s brown, although that changes from one manuscript to the next) in the firm notation STET, meaning Get your hands off my prose and leave it how I put it.

The copy edit stage is niggly, picky, myopic work, no fun and utterly necessary. But for now, I’e2’80’99m off the hook’e2’80’94free, free, with absolutely nothing to do but BoucherCon and a talk to the San Francisco Historical Society and a research trip to England followed by a conversation at the SF Public Library with Michael Chabon in early October and’e2’80’a6

The relief of finishing, of incorporating all those PostIts and flags and notes and questions, of doing a final spell check and getting the entire thing printed off without the printer starting to smoke or the hard drive crashing, is huge, enormous, intoxicating. I have an electronic copy of the book in my wallet, which knowing me I will nervously put in the car in case the house burns down tonight. Once the thing hits the FedEx box I can relax, but even now, it feels damn good. Bleary-eyed and twitchy with questions (Did I..? Should I..?) but good.

And now if you’e2’80’99ll pardon me, I have to go put the corn into the boiling water for dinner. Once upon a time, I would drag the family to a celebratory dinner on finishing a book. Now, I just go to bed early.

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  1. Erika on August 28, 2005 at 3:23 am

    What else can be said but congratulations?

  2. Erin on August 28, 2005 at 3:28 am

    Woot! *dances* New book…New book! Yay for you! That’s got to feel way good=)

    Poor printer, the copy store printers are definitely better equiped to print that many pages. (I probably should do that as well. I’m currently editing, formatting and printing a friend’s story which has turned out to be about 500 letter sized pages and the only way my printer will cooperate is if I print in 25 pages batches.)

    Random note because I watch too much food tv: Alton Brown says that if you add a pinch of sugar to the water for corn it will bring out the natural sweetness of the corn. Salt in the water, while making the water boil faster, tends to drive the flavor into hiding. Ah, how I love chemistry.

    Congrats again=)

  3. FeltHat on August 28, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    Are you doing any events / readings in the UK or is it all going to be research?


  4. WDI on August 28, 2005 at 6:56 pm

    Congratulations all around! I’m slowly working through my Martinelli’s yet again in anticipation (even though I know we still have a while to wait . . .). Enjoy your well-deserved early night, weekend at Bouchercon, and trip to England 🙂

  5. KB on August 28, 2005 at 9:17 pm

    Congratulations, Laurie! Have a wonderful trip to England and come back full of great ideas for the next one!

  6. Anonymous on August 29, 2005 at 12:57 am

    Good Luck on your trip, my grandfather is two years older than your husband, I hope he doesn’t get sick while traveling like my grandfather does.

  7. Chris on August 30, 2005 at 9:20 am

    Congrats on this!

    …and if you have time for lunch in Edinburgh, do come to Scotland whilst you’re in England!


  8. Anonymous on September 2, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    I just stumbled on your website, and saw you have finished another book.

    Hurray – I love your books, and am selfishly pleased there is another one headed my way (indirectly . . .).



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