What is that clackity sound and hot smell of ink? It’s my ancient printer grinding out a hard copy of my new book, “Cat’s Paw, a Crazy Cat Lady Mystery”. Did you know I always edit a hard copy as well as the original computer version? I’ve caught many an error, as well as found places that just don’t “look” right. Reading is visual. If the page doesn’t flow visually, the reader may never get far enough into the story to know if they like it or not.
Once the manuscript is printed – all 400 pages of it - I grab an orange pen, get comfortable and begin reading. Out loud. To the cats. Cats are a willing audience and extremely easy to please. As long as I keep talking, they are there to listen. Sometimes they curl up in the manuscript box, but that’s part of the deal.
When the reading phase is complete and each page looks like a child got loose with an orange crayon, I do the revision on the computer and send it out to my beta reader, a retired librarian who reads more books in one year than I read in a decade. She is both kind and ruthless; when I get the work back from her, another revision will be in order.
When revision #2 is complete, I'm finally ready to send it to my editor. This usually entails several more tweaks and fixes to get it just the way we both like.
Not done yet. Next I get a proof copy of the book, as it will look when published, cover and all. As much as I’d like to think I can relax at this point, I usually find something I want to change on the very first page. The same way printing the manuscript gives a different look from the computer monitor, holding a real book in my hand reveals even more. I use the green pen for this phase. I was raised not to mark in books and it took everything I had to overcome that long-learned lesson; I can do it, but not with the brilliant colors, orange or red. That would be too cruel.
This is the final revision. In the proof, I can see where the pages break, how the language flows, and if a chaptersshould be longer or shorter. The real book format is by far the most readable, so I see many things that have escaped me before.
Once this process is a finished, I have a book I can be proud of. The next step, of course, is to start another one.
Cat’s Paw continues the adventures of cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon (Cats’ Eyes and Copy Cats) as she gets caught up in another tale of deceit, murder, and cats.
For more about the Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries, go toMollie Hunt’s Author Page