By Thonie Hevron
The week slips away and I’ve missed another of my artificial deadlines. As I’ve said before, being so structured, I set goals for myself—for the completion of With Malice Aforethought (WMA), my latest thriller. Because this work is not under contract, I only have to answer to myself. Nonetheless, I’ve missed most of my targets on this project.
Life happens. This year, my husband and I sold and bought homes, moved, traveled for numerous family events both happy and sad, attended a conference, took a real vacation, and most recently, attended a high school reunion. Now, I’m dealing with family health issues that demand my attention—and are the priority.
If all this sounds like an excuse, well, I guess it is. I like to take one year to write and edit a new manuscript. WMA has gone over by three months and is behind schedule. The manuscript has “The End” typed on it but in version five, there are still mistakes to correct. I’m at the point where I read the text out loud. I catch so much with this method, that I can’t skip it. I have two-thirds of the manuscript left.
Next step, is off to beta readers. I have beta readers to perform several different tasks. First, my husband reads it. Being a retired fire fighter, he knows about car wrecks (there’s one for him to choreograph), electrical matters (for some MacGyver action), and lastly, the characteristic of wildland fire. Then, on to Billie Payton-Settles for editing. She culls the work for grammar, punctuation, sentence structure. At the same time, I’ll send it off to Mike Brown, a retired Sonoma County Sheriff’s Lieutenant who has specific knowledge of the procedures and culture of Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. The homicide investigation that Nick Reyes and Meredith Ryan embark on is set in the beautiful and wild Dry Creek hills area of Sonoma County. As you know, authenticity is very important to me as a writer and a reader. After I make corrections from these three, I send it to two other law enforcement professionals who will read my work for realism—John Schembra, author of Retribution and many other books and Dave Freedland, author of Lincoln 9.
When I receive the manuscript from the beta readers, I’ll make the corrections and decide whether to send it to another editor for a final review. Then, it’s off to Oak Tree Press. My publisher Billie Johnson has agreed to read the manuscript. My hope is that she will find it a compelling enough story to publish under her banner. With all the work that goes into the manuscript, I hope she does. If this goes according to schedule, I look for With Malice Aforethought to be available this winter.
At least my excuses aren’t totally lame. The point is two-fold: I want the reader to know that there are very sound reasons this book is slow to finish and secondly, by posting this, I keep myself honest to those who read and anticipate my next story.
You are far more thorough than I am. I write, rewrite, read the book chapter by chapter to my critique group, more fixing, then if it’s a Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, I send it to Michelle Perin for editing, then to the publisher. With my Tempe books, same process, but they have in-house editors, so I just send it on after I think it’s ready.
Thanks for your thoughts, Marilyn. You’ve made me consider that maybe I hang onto these books for too long. Glad you like Michelle. I talked to her at the PSWA conference about editing.
I soooooo know what you mean about the week slipping by… Your reasons for missing your deadline are far more valid than mine, and your goals more structured. So interesting hearing from other writers–this “writing” stuff is tricky! (smile) Enjoyed your post.
Sounds like you’re moving along at a good pace, Thonie. And don’t worry about missing artificial deadlines. Writing is supposed to be fun, right? Good luck.
I didn’t know that they were called “beta readers”…now I will sound like I know what I’m talking about! As long as you are making progress, that’s all that counts!
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