Every time I think of what the publisher put me through last autumn, making me race against the clock to get my book finished in time for publication at Christmas, steam comes out of my ears. My hands and arms were so painful I could hardly use them. My shoulders were so stiff and tense that I awoke with a headache every day. I was completely exhausted and all for nothing. My book didn't come out as they had discovered that asking for graphic sex in a teenage book was a step too far.
Ten days before Christmas, I made a valiant attempt at toning down the sex in Book 1, hoping that would allow for publication at Christmas after all. I heard nothing. January went by. Still nothing. By February, I was going crazy. I finally emailed the commissioning editor, who told me that various people had been off sick, including him, and they were also interviewing for new staff.
Now it is the end of Feb., a full two months since I sent in my revised chapters. Apparently the new recruit is now reading all the different versions, with a view to deciding on the amount and tone of the sex scenes. From what I can gather from their lack of speed and enthusiasm, they might have decided to hold back publication till NEXT Christmas! Still, I've had most of the advance so that's mollified me a bit. Only a bit, though.
In reality, I am so disappointed, I could weep. In fact, I have sniffled a bit on occasions. But I know that doing what psychotherapists call a 'poor me' won't get me anywhere, so I have now embarked on tweaking old, out of print books of mine, in order to get them onto Kindle. The first will be Sweet Temptation, which was published in the UK by Future and in the USA by Ace Books, back in 1982 (gosh, what a long time ago!) It's set in the era just before Victoria, and I have discovered one slight flaw in the plot, in that an ultra fussy young wealthy lady would never go to a ball in a carriage drawn by mismatched horses. It would have to be four greys, or four chestnuts, not two of each. This has meant rewriting a plot strand near the end of the book.
I have just emailed the manuscript to a friend who has promised to read it and let me know if the new version works, and if it does, my next task will be choosing a cover design. Any tips will be gratefully received!
Now I am working on bringing my old Pan Heartlines books into the 21st Century by adding computers, mobiles, et al. This is proving to be far more work than I had previously imagined. I never knew how many plots relied on people not being able to get in touch with people as the public phone didn't work, or they didn't have a phone in their bedsitter. You could be standing waiting for a boyfriend outside the cinema and think he'd stood you up when, in reality, he'd had some personal disaster and had no means of telling you! What a lot of plot twists ensued from situations like that. Now, it could only happen if someone's phone had been stolen or the charge had run down. Also, the type of colleges people attended and the courses they studied have changed, too. I had two characters meeting on a shorthand and typing course; now, that's far more likely to be an IT course, or training to be a legal secretary.
The glory of revisiting these old books is that, as I wrote them so long ago, I have absolutely no idea what happens in them! I am reading them as any reader would and it's great to be able to take an impersonal, critical stance, allowing me to strengthen weak sections and add more description and emotion. I'd love to hear from anyone else who has undertaken to rewrite an old book of theirs.
Well, must get on with editing someone else's book manuscript now. When the writer in question can't spell or punctuate, it can take me a week to do, which means a week away from my own books. Still, I shall return to them with even more enthusiasm as soon as I've finished adding commas and deleting ellipses which have about seventeen dots in them instead of the acceptable three. Cheers for now!
P.S. I've just noticed that this is my 1000th blog post. That's worth raising a glass to tonight!
Quiet September Days
3 days ago