Well, what a month! My feet don’t seem to have touched the ground, though my backside has touched the office chair for a significant number of hours.
The month began quietly enough, behind my desk, nose-to-keyboard, adding more words words words to the current work-in-progress, Crossways, which was originally due to be delivered to my publisher in – yes you’ve guessed it – August. However, I got an extension since the revised manuscript for Empire of Dust that I delivered to my editor in March didn’t come back to me until June with the request for ‘just a few tweaks’ which ended up adding another 20,000 words. The addition of a whole extra chapter was partly due to having brought a character to the fore in Crossways which meant that building her into Empire of Dust made a lot of sense. (See my previous post about time travel and editing.) Also a couple of excellent editorial suggestions required extra scenes to be laced throughout the book
Half the month already had its hat and coat on since my August calendar included six days away at Loncon3, the World Science Fiction Convention at London’s Excel Centre, and then just three days at home before a full week away at Milford SF Writer’s Conference in North Wales.
I had to build in some time to do some research for three Worldcon panels I’d been asked to take part in, and there’s always a lot of advance reading and critiquing to do for Milford. However what I hadn’t planned for the page proofs for Empire of Dust to arrive in the early hours of the morning that I set off for London with a request to do them and return them on the day after Worldcon finished. Eeep! A quick negotiation got me a three-day extension on that deadline, but I still had to deliver the page proofs back before departing for Milford. That’s page proofs for a novel that is 171,000 words long. Not an insignificant amount of work.
Since the schedule for getting my book into production was very tight the publisher skipped the copy edit stage – or at least skipped my input into it, because copy editing there certainly was. I had expected to get copy edits first, to return the copy-edited manuscript with minor alterations and then to have the page proofs as a final check. Instead I got the two things rolled into one. So the first time I saw the copy editor’s work was in the page proofs. The copy edit is to clean up my grammar and spelling, but it also changes my British English to American English, so it acquired some ‘gottens’ a lot of -ize endings, and left me wondering whether there was truly an American word that quite encompassed the full meaning of the English word ‘boffin’. (I think the answer is no.) Since once a manuscript gets to the page proof stage it makes the publisher’s life very difficult if the author wants to change more than the odd word here or there, I couldn’t add in or change any significant amount of wordage, but I was able to juggle a few words, and I did manage to get rid of a couple of ‘gottens’ (Yay! Go, me!) because I stubbed my British toe on them. (Yes I kept one because it was in speech and worked in my character’s voice.)
Page proofs done and returned, I then started the reading for Milford – a day late and a dollar short. Luckily this Milford was not one with a full fifteen writers. Being one of two Milfords this year there were only eight of us, so the reading and critting workload was significantly reduced, which made life a lot easier.
The Milford venue, Trigonos in Snowdonia, has no phone signal and the wi-fi is intermittent (and not available in the main house) so I elected to not even try and connect in for the whole seven days I was there! Whee! Luxury! I also managed to catch up on sleep. More about Milford in another post. I returned home yesterday to a pile of mail and a load of emails, but that’s September’s problem. Today is the last day of August and I’m having a breather.
Coming up next weekend is Fantasycon in York and then, five days later, the second Milford week which I’m attending from Saturday to Thursday evening. Since I have a newly negotiated October deadline for my second book, It’s back to nose-to-keyboard for the next few days.