Monday, March 28, 2011

Jambalaya Justice

Jambalaya Justice is complete! The moment arrived Saturday night, at 8:26. I remember the exact moment because my kids were waiting for me to watch the new Zack and Cody movie (Suite Life on Deck something something on Disney). We had DVR'd it, so we could skip the commercials and were going to start watching at 7:30. At that time, my youngest was wrapped up in Build-A-Bear online and couldn't be disturbed. At 8:00 she was ready, but I was so near the end of Jambalaya Justice I told her to give me a few more minutes, and there it was! I haven't felt that good about finishing something in a really long time. Both of my girls even noticed my good mood.

The only bad part was that the DVR glitched and even though it showed it was taping the movie, it wasn't, and my youngest was devastated for about five seconds. Fortunately, Disney plays those things over and over so we will get another chance in the next week to watch it together.

I emailed my publisher yesterday to let her know my good news, and I think she was as excited as I was. She has waited patiently for quite a while, and it felt good to be able to type that email. I am editing right now, although part of the reason I take so long to write is because I continuously edit, so hopefully I won't have to do too much more before sending it to her. It is a big longer than Gumbo Justice, and I am a little nervous, hoping those who enjoyed Gumbo Justice will like Jambalaya Justice as much.

So hopefully it won't be too long before I have the date Jambalaya Justice is on Oak Tree's release schedule, and will let everyone know as soon as I do. I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Things I learn while editing

I am finally nearly finished Jambalaya Justice, the followup to Gumbo Justice, and am editing, first for continuity, to make sure I haven't changed a name or left out anything important. I follow a pretty strict outline, so the first is probably a lot more likely to happen than the second, but I do end up changing some things, so making sure I don't change something later in the novel that makes a difference to something I wrote earlier is still important.

I caught a few issues, the main one being my propensity to use "S" names. I had already used a lot of "S" names in Gumbo Justice, and obviously I couldn't change the names of those characters now. But I found myself gravitating to "S" names again, so I had to go through the manuscript and change some names of key characters. It's difficult, because you already see the person as that name, but if I have to change a name, I always try to come up with a name that I think fits the character just as well. Occasionally, I'll find a more common name that I've accidentally used more than once for peripheral characters or someone that doesn't appear "on screen" but is mentioned, and a lot of times I can just remove the name and it doesn't matter.

One thing that I had to change shows up in the first third of the book, which was written last year, and it was a nasty comment made by Ryan's nemesis, Kellie Leblanc. Kellie was making fun of Ryan's big butt when she bent over, and made a remark about Ryan's big moon in the sky causing a tsunami in Japan. I am so glad the book took longer to write than I had thought, or that comment would have been in there, and history would not have changed. So that comment would have been in the book when the real tsunami happened, and I would have felt horrible.

It did make me realize that an offhand comment by a character in a book can end up being much more than that. At the time I originally wrote it, there hadn't been a tsunami in Japan for a long time, but I knew that it was a place that did have tsunamis. I guess I could have used Hawaii or even the west coast, but it would have still been as bad after what's happened now. It's making me go back through the manuscript and check out any other sarcastic comments to make sure they don't have the potential to blow up in my face.

I remember for September 11 there had been a movie about to be released and it either had a scene about someone blowing up the twin towers or something to that effect, and either the producers took the scene out or scrapped the whole movie. I don't recall now, but I remember at the time it was a big deal.

I guess the lesson is we're responsible for everything our characters say, even those characters who are jerks. I guess there's a line to be considered, though, for instance, say someone is writing about an assassination, and after the book is published a real assassination of the same or a similar person occurs. Does that mean no one should ever write about assassinations for entertainment? Lots of thrillers, especially political thrillers, focus on assassinations or attempted assassination.

Ultimately, I think if you are writing about something that could happen, and it's something horrendous, as long as it's something integral to your plot, you go with it. Otherwise, we'd never write about anything. On other hand, if it's something trite like a character's mean attempt at humor, it might be better to go another way. I did change the line, and it still gets Kellie's meanness across without, I think, possibly offending the world.

Next, I am editing to cut the story down, because it's a little longer than I want it to be, but hopefully that will go faster.