Mussorgsky Mondays – Update on The Mussorgsky Riddle, and a bit on editing…

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Hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day today. It is a time of reflection, so reflect on the many men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so that we can live in such a great country, but don’t let the naysayers get you down about enjoying time with your family and friends. Americans work far too hard to start with, so enjoy the day. Me, I’m about to go hike Crowder’s Mountain – only 20% chance of rain, so we’ll see what happens… On to the update. On February 28th, 2014, Curiosity Quills Press, a small (but growing!) publishing house out of Leesburg, VA, expressed interest in publishing The Mussorgsky Riddle and by mid March, my agent and I had negotiated the various aspects of the contract and it was all official. Many of you may be wondering what I’ve been doing since. First, Lisa Gus, the acquisitions editor and co-owner of CQ Press, had about ten plot points that she wanted me to massage out in the story. Some of these were easy and some were a bit more work. All in all, however, even the two changes that seemed the hardest and that seemed to threaten destroying the nice bow I had tied on the end of the story, actually improved the story ending. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that when someone points out a problem in your writing, they may not be technically “right” by your estimation of what the story needs, but just the fact that something in the story “tripped” them means that someone else is going to “trip” too. Therefore, that’s the section of story carpet that needs to be tacked down more carefully. Don’t want our readers to fall and hurt themselves, now do we? All of Lisa’s suggestions at the very least clarified the story, and the two big changes at the end actually revealed to me that there was one more layer to the onion I hadn’t considered. My lesson? Even when the suggested change seems like it’s painful, a lot of work, or even wrong, look for a way to use the suggestion to improve your story. I did, and it paid off. Once Lisa had okayed the story, I was transitioned to my actual editor for the project, Sharon Pickrel, who did a fantastic job. She did a story pass in record time and I got those changes back to her. Then she did a grammar pass, again in record time and again I incorporated those changes as well. Then she did a third pass, sort of a pre-proofreading, and I got all those changes back to her last night. Hopefully this is the “final” edit, though it does go before proofreaders now to look for typos. After that I will get one more look at the content to ensure I’m happy with everything. What I learned during this step is that the better self-edited your book is before it goes to the editor, the better off you are. Sharon told me multiple times how “clean” a manuscript I’d sent, and still there were many, many things she found that needed to be fixed. So, to all you writers out there: go find those adverbs and slay them, go make sure your commas have a degree from Oxford (if appropriate), and work on getting rid of filtering, etc. (look it up) Read widely from blogs and websites that teach how to self-edit and GET IT DONE. In the end, this is your project, but your editor’s fresh set of eyes is a resource of which you should take full advantage. What’s next? The manuscript has been sent back to CQ and after the above-mentioned pass by the proofreaders, CQ will start on cover design, interior layout, pricing, and other aspects necessary to bring this book to life. There is no release date as yet (the piece of information I’m the most interested in)  but I’m hoping that we have this one out before Christmas. I’d love for MR to be available for gifts, stocking stuffers, and the like, but mostly, as a great Christmas gift to me. It’s been my dream for a LONG time to hold a book I wrote in my hands, and it looks like that dream is about to come true. More updates as we get closer, but for now I will leave you to your barbecues, your swimming pools, and your remembrances of our fallen heroes. Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Darin

About Darin Kennedy


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