Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Good Editor Is Worth Her Weight in Rubies

I tutor English and algebra at a community college, so I see a lot of essays. My not-so-funny joke to the students is that I take my red pen and bleed on their papers. The results are varying degrees of bloody, from the occasional needle-prick splotch to running oceans of gore. I circle misspellings and incorrect word usage and underline run-on sentences and fragments. I put unclear statements in brackets. Then I go over the paper with the student and point out why the red is there and suggest how to staunch the ruddy flow. 

Last week, we all suffered through the dread midterms. I saw lots of essays from lots of panicking students. And of course, since the Universe has a crafty sense of humor, also last week appeared in my email box the first edits on my upcoming book, A DOLEFUL KIND OF SINGING, a suspense-y, gothic-y, romance-y novel guest-starring Nessie, aka the Loch Ness Monster. The Universe, not satisfied with that little ill-timed outburst of humor, also decided it was time to have me deal with the final edits on my even-sooner upcoming book, MISS MAYFAIR'S DILEMMA, a Regency suspense-y, romance-y mystery novel. Both these books, by the way, are being released by Rogue Phoenix Press, an excellent small publisher with astonishingly good taste. I mean, they're publishing my books, right?  

So I spent all last week and last weekend and part of this week reading a large number of student papers and pointing out errors, all the while spending my free time reading my only-slightly-less-than-deathless prose and correcting all the errors which my genius editor pointed out to me.  

A good editor is worth her weight in rubies, and my editor, Kitty Carlisle, is worth her weight in rubies with a few extra tons of diamonds and emeralds thrown in for good measure. She had to suffer through both the aforementioned manuscripts. Yes, you read that correctly. Both. And yet she survived with her humor intact and, hopefully, few long-lasting related health issues. She ruthlessly slashed unnecessary commas with what must be a vorpal blade—really! I heard the snicker snack!—and then had the resilience left over to point out blurry plot points and suggest clean, crisp corrections that made sense. Her patience and pertinent comments have put me forever in her debt. Both books are far, far better for her input. If you're looking for a considerate, immensely competent and delightful-to-work-with editor for your latest opus, look no further than Kitty Carlisle.  

And FYI: she's not the Kitty Carlisle who was married to Moss Hart, because I asked.  

Nothing is more valuable than a trained, professional editor. All I can say is, I hope none of the students, whose papers I have so blithely bled upon, ever see one of my works with the original editing marks in place. I'd never be able to wield a red pen again.
Here are the covers for my books, both by the brilliant artist Genene Valleau. I'll let you know when they're available.



1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I wish you were still my editor! PANGAEA: EDEN'S PLANET has been picked up again, and I know I'll get a new editor, and they'll want changes (sigh).