Wow! It’s been almost three months since I’ve written here? You probably thought I’ve given up on writing, right? No, the exact opposite actually. I’ve been pounding away on Spirit trying to get through rounds three (copyright) and four (proofreading) of the editing process. Three was actually easier than four. Four was the “manuscript under the microscope, try only to make necessary changes” round and my last chance to make sure I was happy with what I wrote.
The book didn’t stand up to the scrutiny. There were too many cracks in the story, character development and reaction, emotional impact, and plausibility departments for me to be comfortable with its release. I couldn’t do that to me or my publisher. While I know nothing can ever be perfect, I want Spirit and the other books to be as close as possible. The series, overall, has been a major part of my life for almost the last thirty years. I want to be able to have something tangible to show for it. I’m not talking just a book in my hand, but a book in a lot of people’s hands that they will enjoy and tell their friends about. Spirit, being the first one, is my all important statement to the rest of the world that I am a writer and not a wannabe.
With every mistake I found, I cringed. I could hear the Amazon critics sharpening their knives in anticipation of crucifying yet another author who failed to meet their standards. Over and over I’ve read they want a good story with believable characters that isn’t written for a sequel or so predictable it doesn’t hold their attention past page three. Also, the book cannot contain too many curse words, too much glorified violence, or veiled preaching of the political or religious nature. Finally, it can’t go into horrific and gruesome detail on subject matters that already turn their stomachs.
I would consider Spirit equivalent to a PG-13 rated movie with less than six curse words, some violence, and a few other concepts and issues that people might not like for whatever reason. If I tried to tell the story a different way, though, it wouldn’t work. Believe me I tried and threw out ninety percent of it. The book is written to be part of a series, but stands alone, so all the major events are wrapped up in a nice package. Every detail, fact, character, and scenario has been gone over so thoroughly that even when they bend the rules a little, there is enough supporting material to give them credibility and plausibility.
Overall, I’m proud of how Spirit shaped up. The round one version far surpassed the original manuscript, but round four tightens it up even further.
As I finished reading the last words early this morning, tears were running down my face. I was exhausted, running forty-eight hours on adrenaline and maybe two hours of rest, but lack of sleep wasn’t the reason for the wetness. I was hearing the voice of my main character as a reader, not a writer or editor. Knowing that I did, I’m confident that at least a few other readers will.
Of course, I’m kicking myself for not catching everything in the previous rounds. At least I now know what’s going to be required for the next book. Before I submit anything to anyone, I’m going to take it through all four rounds myself.
Now that editing is all over, it’s one final read through by the publisher and formatted copy, here we come. Do I have a release date? Yes, a tentative one. I’m not saying any more than early part of 2015. I don’t want to spoil the fun, build up, or buzz.