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Editor's Notes #74, Hitting Bedrock: Finishing A Book
August 25, 2009

Though fame is a help in selling books,
it is of small use in writing them.

-- Ben Hecht

In this issue:

1.Hitting Bedrock: Finishing A Book
2. Tickled My Funnybone
3. Interesting Web site

1.Hitting Bedrock: Finishing A Book
I've been "away" for a while, both literally and figuratively. And both ways of being absent have had to do with my writing.

Some of you know that I originally began my life on the Web because I was writing a book and I'd been told writers needed Web sites. Well, this Web site turned into my editing business and my book stalled.

Not all the stalling was bad. In fact, I, who am certifiably anal, have learned to sit back and relax when the delays have stopped the forward motion on the book. The finished product will be so much better for the side roads I've had to go down to get to where I am today.

And many of the recent side roads required a car, a tent, and more oomph than I thought I had in me. They also required concentrated attention on final research. That's why I haven't written regular newsletters.

Well, I thought it was final research. As I tie up loose ends, experts continue to add information, and I'm left making content decisions while I'm organizing printing and distribution, so who knows when I'll really be done.

It's like I'm digging and digging and digging. I think I'm pretty close to bedrock. Six years ago when I first thought I was done, the book would have supported a tent. Now, it will hold a skyscraper. Metaphorical tenters will still be welcome to buy it, but the book now has layers and features I couldn't have dreamed of before.

On my Web site, I'm not shy about my writing life, but in the world of flesh and blood, I don't talk about it much. So I was startled a few weeks ago when on a part of the research trip that involved taking a train tour through an old mine site, the former mine manager held up the train to call out, "I hear there is a writer on this train. Where is she?"

I thought of crawling under the seat, but figured that would draw more attention than simply putting up my hand. And confessing to him got me extra information.

That was the fame part. (See the quote at the beginning of this issue.) And I do hope the town of Kimberley sells many copies of my book when it's done.

But when I got home and realized I had done enough to book a tentative printing date, I panicked: full-on stomach cramps, heart palpitations, wild pacing due to excessive adrenaline, trembling hands, loss of appetite (the only other times I've lost my appetite, I've been dealing with death). Fame was absolutely no help at all.

There were still things to be done. And I was finally faced with the knowledge that I was about to give birth to a book. Self-doubt doesn't even begin to describe how terrified I was for about two days.

Then I started the digging process again. There were design and printing decisions to be made. I had to make final selections of photos. That led to changes in text when I found even better photos than I could have imagined at first. I had to put the tentative printing date on hold while I improved the book yet again.

I don't know if I'll panic again before the books are in my garage and at the distributor's warehouse. But I do know that I've dug deep and written (or am writing) one terrific book.

I know that the only way to do that is to put one word after the other on the page, to sweat buckets, to face the fears, and to deal with the changes that come along the way.

Don't worry, I'll let you know when it's really "out there." I hope that will be before the end of the year.

And in the mean time, I'm ready to edit again -- thank goodness for the summer slow-down in editing -- and I'm already writing two more books, maybe three. I hope to be back on track with this newsletter.

I apologize for the long break in writing Editor's Notes, but I promise you that the things I've been learning will show up in future issues. It should be especially helpful to those of you who plan to self-publish. (And it may convince some of you to go the trade route, which is also a great option.)


2. Tickled My Funnybone
"Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge"


3. Interesting Web site
Curiosity isn't the only reason to use the Phrases Web site, but it's what drew me in. Once I'd begun poking around, I realized how helpful a resource like this would be to a writer. Any time we fully understand the origins of a feature of language, the more skillfully we use it.

Do investigate the treasures at


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