My contracted deadline for (working title) CODE TRIAGE is September 1st, and I'm at one of my favorite stages in the preparation of this manuscript: the final polish of the draft. I have it printed out in a thick chunk of pages, and I'm reading it through with as freshly critical an eye as I can muster . . . for something I've read, re-read and greeted at dawn for nearly 6 months. I'm scribbling on the pages, marking bits of sentences out, making notes to check on details for consistency. Erasing eyebrow gymnastics. As I always must do, since they have more than tendency to perform as if in Olympic competition. My earlier post on The Eyebrow Thing, says it all. I'm also crossing out dozens of visceral reactions: gasps, stomach sinkings, trembles, waves of dizziness . . . I have to laugh, because I think I actually feel most of those things as I write a heavily emotional scene--amazing that I don't require an oxygen tank, smelling salts, and a vat of Pepto Bismol on my desk. Don't let anyone tell you that writing isn't hard work or that authors don't suffer for their craft!
The great part (the gentle breeze, music and fluttering butterfly part) is that I'm actually enjoying this read. I like the characters: Police officer Nick Stathos, physician Leigh Stathos . . . her troubled sister Caroline, ER chaplain Riley Hale. The tough-as-nails antagonist, Samantha Gordon. The villain, Kurt. And my inevitable (and quirky) tertiary and walk-on characters: Harry and Antoinette McNealy and their cockatiel Cha Cha. Oly, the flower vendor. The quiet orphan, Maria--and her abused donkey, Tag. Frisco, Leigh's thoroughbred horse. And even the inanimate (but nonetheless important) "characters" : A dining room table, The historic San Francisco Tonga Room, a dying lemon tree, the full moon, Tony Bennet's recording of "San Francisco," . . . a bowl of lemon soup.
It's interesting to see how they all come together to carry the story forward, some to teach lessons, some to learn . . . all struggling in the process. (All likely eye-ing my bottle of Pepto Bismol at one time or another!) I probably owe them an apology, but they know I'm proud of them. For showing up at dawn these past months, whispering their stories to me in the shower, keeping me awake in the middle of the night. All so that we could get this adventure down for you, the readers. And we did.
Except for the polish, which is nearly finished. Rub, rub, shine, shine. Like in the image above, the old ad for "Miracle Cloth." Maybe that's fitting--there were many times that we (me, the cockatiel, the donkey . . . all of them) looked at each other and said, "It's going to be a miracle if with get this thing written!"
But the real the miracle, for me, is the blessing of that moment when it reaches the hands of my readers, entertains you, encourages you . . . maybe even touches your heart. I've had some wonderful letters that say exactly that about CRITICAL CARE. Thank you!
Meanwhile, progress is moving forward on the production of DISASTER STATUS, cover art, back cover "teaser," author endorsements. In case you haven't heard, the release date has been moved out to April, instead of January. You'll have to wait a teeny bit longer to read it, but I think you'll agree it's worth the wait. Feel free to use the extra time to tell everyone you know about CRITICAL CARE!
That's a "novel" idea!
And now back to polishing . . .