…and then there’s those…different questions.

Q: Nikki asks, Also, in honor of the Bloggiversary, I think I’ll try to introduce the concept of the Big or Bigging to this site. A Big is basically getting the writer to post a snippet from his or her WIP. This is usually not a spoiler, just an innocuous little bit to keep the mouth watering until the whole story is out.

The term Big came about after an e-friend from the compuserve forums instructed me in the fine art of begging for new material. Afterward, she jokingly denied she was teaching me how to beg, but only speaking of making bigger scenes in our own WIPs.

What do you say? Are you open to the concept? I promise my Bigs are creative and usually funny.

A: You mean you want a chunk that’s been hacked out of TOUCHSTONE, rough and unpolished? Wouldn’t you rather see the WIP I’ll be returning to as soon as I put TOUCHSTONE into the mailer, which is the short story whose beginning I posted oh, so long ago on the web site?

In fact, if you want to play The Edit Game, you could print it out and take your blue pencil to it (why blue? My editor uses a plain #2, the copy editor uses green or brown. Anyway–) and compare what you get with what I do with it.

The story is certainly rough, having been written during a two-hour period when people were (Virtually) looking over my shoulder. There’s plenty there to edit, and you can even give it an ending, if you like.

Just don’t send it to me.

Q: Enid wanted to know: I would like to participate in the book club. That sounds interesting. Can anyone join in? I am situated in the tropics.

A. Hmmm. It’s difficult to know how to answer this without the flavor of snark creeping in. Let me say simply that this is a Virtual Book Club, and unless the tropical humidity clogs up your computer’s little motors or the bugs climb into its housing, your location shouldn’t affect your participation.

Q: And finally, Bronwyn wants to know my shoe size.

A. Surely anyone reading the first part of THE BEEKEEPER’S APPRENTICE can see that the author is writing first-hand about foot size. And sorry, but a size nine (US) doesn’t count as truly large. Ten and a half? Getting there.

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  1. vicki on March 13, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Irritations abound as one is trying to find the grace to write on and on and on. Keep it up, dear Laurie. We await your next finished book at the book store and we won’t get it unless you spend endless hours slaving away. Just know that we REALLY appreciate your efforts. And breathlessly await the final results. Please receive our thanks with no strings attached.

  2. Roxanne on March 13, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    The librarian in me had to investigate the use/derivation of blue pencil

    “Blue pencil” means “to edit, revise, or correct” (vs. “red pencil,” which means “to censor, cut, revise, or correct”). A blue pencil is a “special pencil used for marking copy that does not photograph and is therefore invisible in the finished item”–http://www.101newsletteranswers.com/n_glosry.htm.

    Now I have to look up “WIP” …

  3. Anonymous on March 13, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    I’m thinking WIP is “work in progress.”


  4. Roxanne on March 13, 2007 at 2:36 pm


    I’m thinking you’re right.

    The obvious always escapes me …


  5. Carlina on March 13, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Take your time Laurie. I am sure like Holmes, you cannot build bricks without clay. Besides the best comes to those that wait…so they say.

    In reference to Roxanne’s comment, does that mean I should grade my student’s papers with blue or red pencils/pens?

    I wonder? Roxanne? I am guessing I should start using blue, instead of the usual red.

    Yes WIP is work in progress. Thanks for the colour info. I seriously never knew and hope I have not discouraged any!

  6. nikki on March 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    …if you want to play The Edit Game…

    Pffft! I’m no editor, just always looking for something good to read. Sorry if the request came as an offense, as it certainly was not meant to be one.

    Roxanne and Carlina,

    Blue pencils go back to the days when proofreaders read the actual galley one final time before it was pasted into place and a negative made for the printing plate. If they found a mistake, they could indicate it with a blue pencil, then the graphic designer/paginator could, if possible, remove the typo and replace the line or section without having to reset the whole page. Those cut and paste functions in Word are named such for a reason.

    The non-repro blue was used in case the mark got on “good” copy. If that happened, the mark would not show on the negative. These days proofed copy usually goes straight from a disk to computer-generated negatives, so blue pencils are sort of a thing of the past.

    Hope that helps.

    Nikki, who has a degree (one she no longer uses) in printing production

  7. Roxanne on March 14, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Hey, thanks Nikki!


    Personally, I don’t use red ink or pencil to correct my students’ papers because, to me, red ink is like typing an email in all capital letters. It feels like I am SHOUTING. So I stick with blue … 🙂

  8. Nikki on March 14, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    Wow. I wonder if Omar is suggesting the use of bongs to augment our book club experience. LOL!

    Gotta love spam. (eyes rolling)


  9. L. Crampton, LAc on March 15, 2007 at 12:23 am

    As a sometimes editor myself, I tend to think of red ink as instructions to the author, while blue is, as was beautifully explained by Nikki, an increasingly rare pencil that I use on something that will be photocopied or photo-typeset because it goes all nicely invisible to the camera. However, I seldom actually use red when grading student papers, since they usually can’t really rewrite and resubmit, and I just want to point out to them things that they could improve for future reference. In any event, keep writing, Laurie. I almost never find typos in your books, and wouldn’t dream of editing your stories!!!

  10. Carlina on March 15, 2007 at 4:38 am

    Nikki and Roxanne,

    Thanks so much for all the information! I appreciate it! I am a blue convert now. Nikki your post did not come across bad to me. It was very informative.

    bongs and bookclubs…oh dear…..

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