Monthly Archives: April 2012

Finished Book #3

I just completed the final copy edit of my third novel. I Do Solemnly Swear, a political thriller, is scheduled for release on October 16, 2012. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, unless you’ve published a book and have gone through the editorial process, it’s unlikely that you have any idea just how painstaking the process is.

First, you have the author edits, where the writer takes the first draft and polishes it to the best of his or her ability. For me, before I submit a manuscript to my editor at Amazon Publishing, I generally edit it 5 or 6 times—each time focusing on a different aspect of the book. I look at the narrative, dialogue, the pace, the plausibility of the plot, character development, language, punctuation, sentence structure—I think you get the picture.

What I find amazing is the fact that after I go through what I believe is a comprehensive editorial process, feeling that the manuscript is near perfect, my publisher puts it through an even more grueling course of action and literally tears it apart. It all begins with what publishers call a content or developmental edit. Basically, a professional editor goes through the entire manuscript and scrutinizes everything. And I mean everything! The editor makes notations on nearly every page—some are minor, quick fixes, others require that I completely change a plot twist or the personality of a character.

Once I complete this comprehensive edit, guess what happens next. The editor goes through the manuscript a second time, and then a third time, dissecting every word, sentence, and paragraph, carefully examining every facet of the story. You would think that once this process is completed that my work is finished, right? Well, think again.

Now the manuscript goes to a copy editor who focuses his or her attention on grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and language rules based on the Chicago Manual of Style, the standard used by most editors. When this is completed, I finally get the pleasure of writing two of my favorite words: “The End”.

During this whole process, I often wonder if all books are so meticulously edited. I mean seriously, do you think that Stephen King, or John Grisham, or James Patterson are put through such a rigorous procedure? Of course, if indeed they are, I’m sure that they have a qualified staff to do the grunt work. Maybe someday, I’ll earn that right myself. But I’m not holding my breath.




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Losing a Friend

I received a dreadful telephone call on March 30, one of those calls that set you back on your heels even though you know it’s coming. John Plakus, a longtime friend of mine, a guy I met 35 years ago when we both worked in the car business, died after a two-month struggle in the hospital. The call came from his wife, MaryLou. Quite to my surprise, she wasn’t crying on the telephone, nor was she noticeably emotional; her composure seemed calm and subdued. I guessed that she was still in shock and the wave of emotions hadn’t hit her yet.

John did not die unexpectedly. A few weeks after entering the hospital at the end of January, the prognosis was grim. John must have been blindsided by the severity of his illness because in a telephone conversation we had shortly after he entered the hospital, he said that he felt pretty good up until the day he ended up in emergency. I’ll never forget his lighthearted words, “I’ve got cancer, but they haven’t figured out which flavor yet.” That was the John I remember, a guy who could find humor in circumstances that begged for solemnity.

John, a real car enthusiast, was one of those Jacks-of-all-Trades I envied. He could do just about anything from changing a transmission to remodeling a kitchen to planting a bountiful garden. And when we were in the car business together, he was one hell of a good salesman and his ethics were above reproach. He always dealt from the top of the deck.

During my twice-a-year trips to New York, I always got together with John and MaryLou for dinner and drinks, and we would catch up on the latest drama in our lives. I’m going back home to visit family in May of this year, but I must admit that as much as I love spending time with my family, it’s just not going to be the same without seeing John.

Over the years, John and I enjoyed many spirited discussions about everything from politics to sports. But rarely did John discuss religion or his feelings on God and eternity. I never pushed it, and he never volunteered his thoughts. I do know that MaryLou told me two weeks before John died, that he said, “It’s all in God’s hands now.” Yes, John, it was and is in His hands.

Right now, as I write this post, John’s ashes are sitting comfortably in a special urn that looks like a racecar. How utterly appropriate. In my heart, I’m sure that John is in a better place, that Saint Peter met him at the gates of heaven and invited him in. Heaven is a better place with John there making his mark, but this world lost a great one.

Amazon publishing will release, I Do Solemnly Swear, my third novel, in October of 2012. I’ve decided to dedicate this book to John.


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