Friday, June 22, 2012

Copy Edits and Crowdsourcing

My air conditioner is now in good working order. All I need to be really ready to face summer is to replace the living room ceiling fan. Buying one isn't the problem. They're not that expensive. Getting it installed on my high ceiling is the real problem and will probably cost more than the fan itself. Which is why I've been using an oscillating fan on a stand in the living room for the past two years. I really need that book contract and good sales on the digital books.

I'm about halfway through the copy edits on book 5. Mostly, it's style stuff, where my instinctive Associated Press style from journalism school clashes with publishing style. I tend to hyphenate or use two separate words when publishing style crams them into one word. The thing I most often have to change is "non-magical," which is the way I write it, to "nonmagical" which looks wrong to me but which is consistent with the other books that were done in Random House style. She did catch me in one inconsistency for the name of something from earlier in the series, and there was one big oopsie, where it seems a line of dialogue disappeared somewhere between versions. I had to go back two versions to find what was supposed to be there to make the scene make sense. I don't know if it was overzealous editing or overzealous highlighting and deleting (Word sometimes takes matters into its own hands and decides that if deleting one word is good, deleting an entire paragraph is even better), but I can't believe I hadn't noticed that, as many times as I've read this book -- and even read it out loud, in character voices.

Dealing with copy edits is where having two computers comes in handy. I have the copy-edited document on one computer and the manuscript on the other. I suppose it would be easier to just accept or reject changes, but I'm a little paranoid about that because I've seen too many cases where the comments and edits never actually go away and pop up again at inconvenient moments (like when a client gets the document with snarky commentary reappearing), and this document is going to be published electronically. So, I work on a clean copy and insert the changes. That means spreading out on my bed, which is the one place I have that kind of open work space (the copyeditor would change that to "workspace," I'm sure). Plus, it's comfortable, and that's the coolest room in the house.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to do some world-building research on my next project. I like taking aspects from reality to work into my fictional worlds to make them more realistic. Conveniently, the same research will apply to another book I have planned. They're totally different kinds of books, different worlds, and different stories, but they both draw on aspects of the same kinds of real-world situations. And that brings me to some crowdsourcing because this is turning out to be more difficult than I thought to put into Amazon or library search engines. I'm looking for firsthand accounts of living under a totalitarian regime, like Stalinist Russia or Nazi-occupied Europe. I'm not really looking for people who are actively persecuted, like Jews in Nazi Europe (besides, that's easy to find and I have tons of resources there), but more like resistance or dissidents who have to at least put up the front of living a normal life while knowing they might be watched or informed upon. What I'm trying to capture is what living like that really feels like, as well as what they might have had to do to keep their activities a secret. I've got a couple of books that look promising on the French resistance and the Danish resistance during WWII on hold at the library, but I'd appreciate any recommendations if anyone knows of a good book on the subject.

I went back to ballet last night, and for the summer they just have one adult class, so all the people who are normally in the intermediate/advanced class, most of whom have danced all their lives or even danced professionally, are also in the class. I was feeling really outclassed, especially since I'm a bit rusty. My teacher will be taking on the intermediate class in the fall (it used to be the scary ballet master) and she wants me and others who've been there a while to move to that class so the beginner class can be for real beginners, but I'm a little intimidated by that. It will be a blow to my ego to go from being one of the best in the class to one of the worst (if not the worst). Then again, that will certainly push me to try to improve, and I have to remind myself that I'm doing this for fun and fitness. It's not a competitive sport and I'm not going anywhere with it. I'm just improving my strength, posture and balance.


Chicory said...

Have you read `The Hiding Place' by Corrie Ten Boom? (Not sure I got her last name right.) It's the autobiography of a lady who helped hide Jews during the Holocaust.

Shanna Swendson said...

I've read it. I pretty much have the "hiding Jews" part of the Nazi era covered. Now I need more organized resistance kind of stuff, and especially Stalinist Russia type stuff.

Part of my challenge is that I've read so much about that era that I don't have a lot of gaps, but what I need for these books is in those gaps.