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Friday, December 3, 2010

Living With Zombies

The last month has been a bit of a blur. I was anticipating my revisions for FIGHTING TO SURVIVE to arrive when instead I got the copyedits for THE FIRST DAYS and a deadline set at the end of November.

"Oh, wow," I muttered, feeling the pressure of the next big step.

I reread the email several times and the attachment that explained precisely what I was supposed to do. When I read "This is your last chance to change anything," I felt a moment of panic.

"This is it," I thought. "We're almost to the end of the line."

On the same day, I received an email from my agent telling me that the galley copies of THE FIRST DAYS were due out in six weeks or so. They were just waiting on the copy edits.

Well, that email plus the deadline whipped me into a fervor and I dove right in.

I have never had a chance to see a manuscript with all the tags used to layout the interior and it was exciting to see all the work that goes into putting together a Tor novel. As I read through this newest version of THE FIRST DAYS, I felt a thrill of satisfaction fill me. I really love this newer version with its fleshed out scenes (and one new one). The rough edges are gone and nicely polished. It's still the same story, but fuller, richer, and cleaner in prose. It feels closer to my normal writing voice and not just something I was doing as a lark online. I felt close to the characters again, and Ashley Oaks was vivid and strong in my mind's eye theater.

And the zombie nightmares returned.

It's been a long time since I had really vivid, horrifying zombie nightmares. As I wrote the first version of AS THE WORLD DIES, I had horrible dreams that had me waking up with a start. The shambling, unrelenting dead threatened me every time I fell asleep and I was thrilled. It reassured me that the world I have created is alive and jumping and ready to go.

So how are copyedits different from revisions? Revisions are all about making sure your characters are well developed, your plot is free of holes, your continuity isn't wonky, and that your prose flows. I felt it gave me a chance to make the story meatier and polish up the rough spots. The copyedits are about punctuation, word usage, and one last look at making sure your prose clearly reflects your intentions. The manuscript looked pretty marked up until I started reading, then I realized a lot of the notations were for the formatting. The copyeditor caught me on repetitive words, abused phrases (I have a few I like to use over and over again), and pointed out anything she felt was amiss in the descriptions of actions or characters.

The copyedits were easier, in my honest opinion, because the story felt pretty much complete. They were also a great learning tool as I learned which words and phrases I tend to abuse. As I searched for ways to reword or alternative words to use, I definitely felt appreciated of the copy editor.

I only tweaked one or two things in the rewrite. I added a line to Katie's dialog in one scene that not only added to the scene, but showed an aspect of Katie's personality and personal struggles.

When I finished up the copyedits I waited a few days before hitting the send button (ahead of deadline) giving myself enough time to go back in and change any last minute thing.

Two days after I turned in the copyedits, I was informed the book had moved onto production.

Closer and closer...

With the official release date set at July 5, 2011, it seems both far away and right around the corner.

I received word two days ago that my revisions for FIGHTING TO SURVIVE are going to be arriving shortly. I'm so excited. Despite my nervousness, I know this is a great opportunity to make this book rock more than it ever has.

Now, just to wait to see the galleys of The First Days...