Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Daily Log-Book of a Champagne Editor

0900, awake, but not functioning well.
0910, into kitchen dragging blankie, thumb still in mouth, turn on coffee maker, kiss husband on way past, miss, connect instead with dog. Dog appreciates the affection, husband fails to notice trajectory error.
0923, fortified by shower followed by one gulp of coffee, lolling in recliner with laptop on laptop tray on lap (yeah, I know, where else should either be, but it’s still early and I’m going for clarity here).
0924 - 0953, email program open, download a bunch of interesting stuff, drink more coffee while waiting. For those of you who live other than in the wilderness, there is this odd, archaic system known as “dial-up” connection to the internet. It means you wait. And wait. And wait and tie up the telephone line and wait and… Hey, there it is! My mail, and only seventeen ads for Viagra, twenty-two for Cialis, thirteen for enlarging the penis I don’t have, have never wanted, and why the hell can’t these idiots realize that a person named “Judy” is unlikely to require penis enlargement? (Except maybe to offer as a prize in a contest, except few men enter my contests and the one I know most intimately doesn’t require it, so I can’t offer it to him as a father’s day gift.) There are only two today from that prince in Nairobi who wants to share his inheritance with me, forty-five jokes, each of which have been forwarded forty-five times, and a few from friends I really like to hear from. Those, I read, reply to, and continue.
1022, Ah, the meat of the day! A synopsis and three chapters attached to a very polite email stating that the publisher, who has a hole to fill in next November’s schedule, needs a response by—what’s that?—mid-afternoon tomorrow at the latest? Oh. EDT. That makes a difference. Gives me a little longer and—oh no it doesn’t! Mid-afternoon in New York and Toronto, both of which have styled themselves as the hub of the universe, comes at mid-morning for me. No wonder everything’s so wacky in our world. A universe spinning around two hubs? Jeeze! Think about it. What if New York is right-handed and Toronto left-handed and they’re spinning in opposite directions. Has everyone out there ever seen an eggbeater in action? We now have an adequate explanation for the Theory of Chaos! I am so glad to have that settled I take a break and cook myself some breakfast.
1049, Begin reading synopsis. Hmm, not bad. There is a plot. A woman falls off her bicycle on the Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, BC, in 2011, bumps her head and wakes up lying on a cobblestone path in England with one of those strange bikes with a huge front wheel and an itty-bitty back one. Okay, I like time travel just fine. Read on a little farther. No explanation as to how she was whisked not only back in time, but an entire continent and an ocean away. Magic? I like magic. Keep reading.
1136, Finish synopsis and sit frowning at the screen till it brings up the screensaver (pictures of my new baby grandson, totally fascinating), having learned that the hero is a shape-shifting lion from the zoo in Kew Gardens (Note to self: Is/was there a zoo in Kew Gardens?) who can only escape his lion form once a year for a 72 hour period. This has been going on for years and years. Because he’s a prince who was encorsceled, poor guy, by a wicked wizard, he requires a kiss from a true princess to allow him to remain in man-form for the rest of his days. The heroine is, of course, not a princess, coming from the West End of Vancouver, B.C. where there are only rare princess sightings. But she thinks he’s hot, and wants to help, so gets up on that ridiculous bike and, with Lion-man running along beside, pedals madly towards Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, she’s not sure which one or where either is, but can only try because, she is, after all, a heroine. She gets arrested by the first Bobby she approaches for directions because in her snazzy pink and purple Lycra bike shorts and sports bra, she’s indecently exposed for the time and place she’s ended up. Lion-man pleads her case, explains his own predicament, and the kindly Bobby lets her go with a warning that she’d better clothe herself properly before she tries to get into Buckingham Palace. The Bobby is quite certain there are no real princesses in Windsor Castle.
The guards at the Palace are busy changing (but not into other forms since they are not shape-shifters), so Heroine and Lion-man manage to sneak in through a gate left accidentally ajar. They spend the next sixty-nine hours falling in love while trying in vain to find a real princess wandering the grounds; having narrow escapes from vigilant security forces; hiding out in a storm sewer the first night, where they make stormy love because the Lion-man isn’t really into getting it on with the large, bad-tempered lioness the zookeepers have provided for him (Ed. Note: Bet you never knew zookeepers were procurers, did you?) They manage another love scene in the center of a really intimidating maze, finally find their way out of that and, starving by now, sneak into the royal family’s private hothouse where they gorge themselves on kiwis (the kind that grow on vines, not the kind that come from New Zealand complete with cute accent), grapes, big, fresh peaches, and the gardener’s lunch, which they find in a brown bag in a back room. It consists of a large baked potato, cold, smeared with lard, cold, a large, sawdust-filled sausage, cold, two thick slices of only slightly moldy cheese and a half a loaf of bread, similarly moldy. But they’re hungry.
As the hours tick by leading up to the time when Lion-man will revert to lion form, the sad lovers hide in a gazebo, making love on a narrow, uncomfortable bench, glad to be out of the rain, their lovemaking enhanced by the delicious chance of getting caught. At hour seventy-one, they sneak out of the palace grounds, return to the zoo and say their sorrowful farewell with one last embrace and a kiss that curls their toes. Standing with her hand in Lion-man’s, Heroine counts down the seconds on her digital watch… ten, nine, eight and so on, and gets to zero. To her amazement, her Lion-man is still a man. Together, they watch the seconds flick by, counting up this time, seven, eight, nine and so on until it’s fifteen whole minutes past the time when he should have reverted, and hasn’t. It is not until then she realizes that somewhere, sometime in the past, way, way, way back when those ridiculous bikes were in fashion, she must have been fathered by a wayward king.
Oh joy! Oh glorious day! Their love has made him what he’s always wanted to be, a real man, a prince again, for the rest of time, and has proved to her what she’s always suspected—she’s a little bit above the normal, run-of-the mill gals in her critique group. But wait... How is she supposed to get home again? What is the zookeeper going to do when he finds himself short one lion? Not only that, the zoo is filling up now with school children in their sweet little uniforms, each child pointing and gasping aloud at the naked man and the woman in weird clothing. OMG, our protags. have to get out of there. Somehow. Anyhow! Lion-man speaks a few low, growling words and Blibbity-blam! there’s a wizard, in a pointy hat with a cloak showing stars and crescent moons wearing an evil grin. He promises to help them out of their predicament by turning Lion-man back into a lion, and Heroine into a lioness and does so just as the Bobby arrives, called by a deeply affronted teacher of the goggling, giggling children.
In the lion cage, Heroine, now Lion-woman, is forced to fight the bad-tempered lioness for her lover. With great difficulty and determination mixed with guile, she prevails, and the wizard promises them that if they provide him with a pair of identical twin lion cubs, he will return both of them to human form and let them live out their days wherever and whenever they choose with a bank account to their liking.
Lion-woman/Heroine, is willing to willing to eat raw, bloody haunches of dead cows, willing to carry and bear two little furry infants, willing to live in a cage for however long the gestation period is for lions, willing make any sacrifice necessary for a future with her prince.
2141, Still staring a screen saver, still thinking, still unable to decide on the basis of the synopsis.
2140, Remembering I’ve forgotten to eat both lunch and dinner, go scrounge in fridge for leftovers, cobble together hash made from whatever’s available, sit down and glare at husband who says “What are you eating? Your steak and French bread are in the oven, the salad’s in the wine fridge. I figured you’d look there first. I left that stuff for the dog. Didn’t you hear me call you when dinner was ready?” Response: “Nope.” We do great dialogue in our house when I’m working.
2210, Read Chapter One. Well written.
2348, Finish reading other two chapters. Also well written; no typos, no misspellings, no dangling modifiers. Notice husband has disappeared. Yup, I do believe in magic.
2453, Finish second read, scan notes, make a few more, all positive.
0012, Play one game of Spider Two Suits. Well, all right, three of four, one of Backbone, a few of Easthaven, all the while thinking about the three chapters and synopsis I recently read.
0216, Close up computer.
0224, Go to bed, listen to husband and dog snore; fall asleep at unknown time.
0900, Awake, but not functioning well.
0910, Into kitchen dragging blankie, thumb still in mouth, turn on coffee maker, wait in vain for it to start gurgling. Nothing.
0913, Yell “Where’s my coffee?” Learn it was not prepared because I’d ignored dinner over which husband had slaved previous evening.
0915, Put on kettle.
0920, Make cup of ghastly instant coffee, slam kitchen door.
0921, Flop into recliner, open computer and mail program, still mad at husband.
0922, Begin note publisher: “Have read the attached. The plot is well-planned, has plenty of excitement and action, is believable, and the writing free of most common beginner errors. The dialogue sparkles. Despite that, I must recommend immediate rejection for the following reasons:
1. The author has not done enough research. e.g. Kiwi fruit had not been developed at the time of those funny-looking bikes. (At least, I don’t think so. Could be wrong, but probably most other readers wouldn’t think so either, and I don’t have the inclination to Google it because I’m mad at my husband and just want to sulk and paint my toenails).
2. The author, in the synopsis, used not one, but two dangling modifiers in the same sentence, suggesting an inattention to detail that would likely make further editing a great deal of work. As you well know, editors have more important jobs—see “toenails” above—than fixing up awkward sentences, and this author wrote “…pointy hat with a cloak showing stars and crescent moons wearing an evil grin.” Neither the pointy hat nor the stars and crescent moons were wearing an evil grin. Doesn’t matter it was only in synopsis. It’s an indication there might be other such errors in the manuscript.
3. I’m mad at my husband.
0924, Click “send” on rejection recommendation.
0926, Find next offering from publisher, dig right in.

Judy Griffith Gill has been writing professionally for more years than she cares to admit being alive, and editing other people’s work for somewhat less time. She edits freelance, and for Champagne Books, which she wants everyone to know is in neither New York nor Toronto, but if Calgary ever declares itself another hub of the universe, believes we’ll be in deeper trouble than we are now, universally speaking.

Her books are all romances of one sort of another, ranging from sweet, to sexy, to futuristic, fantasy, paranormal and erotica and often most of those in combination. Her latest erotica, Heated Dreams, is available in print or electronic format from www.carnalpssions.com a division of Champagne books. In addition to the books being sold at www.belgravehouse.com and www.awe-struck.net, she has three books up for sale on Amazon Kindle (The Dawning, Hidden Embers, and A Family Affair), and two on www.smashwords.com (Perfect Partners and Whispers on the Wind), with more expected on the latter site any day now.

She also wants authors to know she never recommends rejection of a proposal because she’s mad at her husband. In fact, she loves editing, is excited about every book she sees, expecting—and frequently finding—a new treasure to edit and enthusiastically recommend for publishing on the Champagne site.

For writing tips, visit www.jggbooks.com


Allison Knight said...

I loved this. I can just see you with your thumb in your mouth, waiting for the coffee to finish.