This marks the 100th Hooptedoodle. If anyone read this, that might mean something. So, since it’s mostly just me talking to myself, recording for posterity, I pat myself on the back. Good job, self.

Now, moving right along.

I’ve begun the query process for the new book, now titled Cursed Blessings. Still not in love with that, but it will work for the time being as it gets across a bit of the story and sounds like a book title. That’s very important–how something sounds–and that importance stretches beyond just what we choose to call our stories.

Tonight, the local elementary school was hosting a “Read Across America” event where parents were invited to bring their kids for games, activities, and, of course, reading in the school library. There was also a movie playing in the gym, which seems a bit counterproductive, but . . . . My son, Nic, picked out a book on Wilma Rudolph, the Olympic track champion from the 1960 Games who overcame polio before achieving greatness. Nic is in kindergarten and is just learning to read, so I told him to read the title before I started telling the story. He struggled with it for a bit, then looked up at me and said, “But, Daddy, I can’t read yet.”

I said, “Do you know your letters?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know what sound they make?”

“Yes.” A little sarcastically.

“Okay, then,” I told him. “All you have to do is make the sounds and put them together. That’s all reading is.”

He read: “Wilma Rudolph”.

That’s really all there is to it. Sound. We can complicate it, as is the human way, all we want, can make it seem like the most difficult task in the world, but all there is to reading, or writing for that matter, is making sounds. The letters, the words, are nothing more than symbols we substitute for the sounds they make. My job, as a writer, is not to make a story that looks good, but one that sounds good. Authors like Cormac McCarthy, who deviate so far from the “proper” usage we are taught in school, thrive not because they are rebelling against the rigid structure of the language, but because what they write sounds good. If it sounds good, the images in our mind are clear and resonant. If writing sounds bad, it jags on our mental ear like a piano being dropped down a flight of stairs.

I have a newly-edited, shiny new novel to send on the agent-go-round. Instead of worrying about if my query letter is formatted properly or if my synopsis is the proper length, I plan on focusing on how it all sounds. When I read the query letter aloud, do I want to read the story I’m describing? If not, I need to retool the pitch. When I read the synopsis, does the novel sound like what I wrote and, more importantly, does it sound interesting? If not, again, I need to do more work. The same goes for the novel. Aside from the usual suspects involved in my editing–typos and passive voice and the like–the most numerous changes I make are perfect in the grammatical sense, but just don’t sound right when I reread them.

So, if there is anyone else reading this down the line, particularly someone with ambitions of writing, I recommend keeping it simple. Whatever you write, make sure it sounds good and people will read it.

Posts on here will be appearing less frequently for the near future as I deal with a few things that take priority over writing stuff nobody will read. First of all, I’ll be working on my final edits and query letter for the new book (and perhaps a new title, as well–that’s currently in discussion). I’ve finished the major rewrites and minor housekeeping items and now I just have to go back through to make sure it all makes sense. I’ll also be working on the letter amidst all the other things going on, so I’m already looking to be busy over the next few weeks.

Also, I received a box from UPS on Friday containing the first 1000 applications for the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program. This is a wonderful thing as I normally have just two weeks to score all 1900 or so and starting a few weeks early will let me do things at a little better pace than usual. I’ve scored the first 35 and, so far, the quality is not promising. (Just in case someone googles the program here and finds this post, all the apps I receive are anonymous so save your bribes.) This process will soak up a lot of my free time, so work on the new book is also delayed until I get the GSP work done.

For anyone looking for more information about the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program, though, check out http://www.kygsp.org. You can also read some of my thoughts on what I do here and here.

Sometimes you can’t just stick a Band-Aid on a problem in your story. There are times when the simple delete key or the clarifying phrase fall short of fixing what is wrong. These are the time of the rewrite and they are hard times, indeed.

To understand the difficulty I have with rewriting, you must first understand how I write in the first place. For me, the process of writing is less about creating a story than about seeing what, for me, is an event already happening. I see the story in my mind and write what I see. There is a creative act taking place, sure, but that is all behind the scenes. The last thing I want to happen is the mechanics getting in the way of the ride. If I’m too concerned about how I’m doing it, what I’m doing won’t be worth reading. I see; I write. That’s what works best for me. I’m not saying that anyone who outlines or does extensive work before and during the composition is wrong, only that such is not the way I do it.

When I come to a part of my novel that requires not the scalpel of the simple edit, but the bone saw of the rewrite, I run into an interesting paradox. When I write the first draft, I put down what I see as I see it. When I rewrite, I have to go back and see that same thing, almost a memory, in a different way. It’s as if I’m recalling the birth of one of my children, only it’s somebody else’s child being born. For those of you familiar with Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, it’s a bit like Roland’s conflicting memories of Jake Chambers in The Drawing of the Three–two separate memories of the same event and the agonizing knowledge that they can’t both be true, but are true nonetheless. It’s Bill Buckner missing the ground ball in the ’86 World Series and Bill Buckner scooping up that grounder and making the out leading to a Red Sox championship.

This may seem like an extreme, but for me it really is just that way. Rewriting is hard because it’s like erasing memories and rewriting them in a new way. Still, the more I do it, the better I get at it and the more effective the result is. I always respond positively to challenges and this one was no different. For this book, I had several section to rewrite, but I took time to reevaluate each one and decided what I could keep and what (usually most of it) had to go. This actually grew almost fun as I went along, allowing me to feel like I had more control over the story. I’m not sure if this control is good or not, but the result turned out pretty well this time around. Normally, I prefer for the story to be in charge, but there is a point, I suppose, where I must acknowledge my own role in its creation.

So, I’ll do another read of the book while I’m working on the query and probably over the next week begin the submission process in earnest. I’m excited about this new aspect of the process, but I’m more excited about being free to now start something new. I’m fine with the business side of writing–working my entire adult life in retail has prepared me well for that–but it’s the act of composition that I enjoy the most. I’m currently in Kentucky for my oft-postponed trip to see my daughters and will return to Tennessee tomorrow. This is my first trip up here since the massive ice storm and, even in the dark, the countryside more closely resembles the old photos of Tunguska–downed trees and devastation everywhere–than of my old home.

For now, though, it’s more cold meds and off to bed.

I have been struck down again by a vicious cold and, in light of my being a bit off thanks to the cold medicine I’m taking and my general state of ick, I’ll fall back on another episode of my failings as read and corrected by my readers:

I like these sentences & the image, but not here in this context. It seems too light for something so serious as conveying condolences for the death of someone’s parent.

Since Micah has a temper and normally would lose his cool here, it would be nice to emphasize the change in him by having his voice be low, cold, yet strong and cutting. Hey, The Man With No Name wouldn’t need to raise his voice. Just my two cents.

Lee, parts of this chapter are really good. (I liked the imagery of the carbon copy smiles, the mob movie similarity, and the drops of sweat to replace the tears that would not come, for example.) But there are parts that I think weren’t up to your standard, specifically in the first part of the chapter.

Don’t get me wrong – this chapter is fine. It is just not your best. And I think you now know me well enough to know that if I didn’t tell you that it could be better, then I wouldn’t be your friend (and I’d be staying up at night feeling deceitful).

This, as is the sentence in parentheses below, are fine, but they imply a more detailed, logical thought process.

I like the chapter and how you allowed Micah to grow into the man he becomes – it seems natural that while he is successful as a business man, he remains stagnant – a lonely teenager still living in his childhood home – in his personal life.

Lee, this is excellent.

I like this image a lot, but it is too reminiscent of the Native American in the anti-pollution commercials from the 70’s, so I’m afraid it may seem cliché.

Lee, I think HW’s voice is much clearer and stronger than LE’s. In this chapter, HW speaks with some great imagery (the 6 as sheep; cutting them down like wheat) – it makes his voice very distinct. Not meaning to be repetitive, but I wish you can do the same for LE.

This was great. Just the right amount of touches that make your writing so you, enough background and explanation of the woman Lauren has become & the life that she’s chosen, and enough spookiness to make me reconsider reading anymore of this now that it’s night and I’m all alone in the study.

Here, I’m thinking of pace. Mindy just received an intense shock – so I’m inclined to make faster the actions in the parenthesized sentence – and shorten the sentence – to match her feelings &/or thought process.

Again, another solid chapter.

Also, in this chapter, previous chapters, and in one of the last chapters, you have the friends refer to themselves as “misfits” and “outcasts.”

We need to talk.

Brandon was the smartest kid in school, Mindy was the second smartest, a great athlete, and voted most likely to succeed. John was charm, wit, and fun. Lauren dated a star football player. I never got the impression that these kids would be considered outcasts or misfits in high school. As a true high school outcast & misfit, I would’ve traded places with any of those guys any day, any time, any where. So either we are using different definitions, or your high school was waaay cooler than anything I can imagine.

This set of comments closes out part one of my manuscript and takes us a few chapters into part two. Think about that for a moment–I’ve posted now five fairly long lists of comments, picking out only those that had some meaning outside of context, and have only now drifted into the second half of my book. It’s quite telling that so much was wrong with my story before I sent it out and I’m very glad that I had my readers to look it over before I sent it out to agents. I always want to catch my mistakes in rehearsal rather than during the actual performance.

I would particularly like to point out the comment about the Native American anti-pollution ads. I am barely old enough to remember, vaguely, what she is talking about in that comment, but I would never have made that connection on my own. An agent though, many of whom I plan to query are older than me, would likely make the same link and ruin that moment in the story. This is the value of not only having other people read your book, but also choosing a diverse group of people who can catch a lot of things that you as the writer, with your limited experience and knowledge, might miss. Google can’t simulate the jumps made by the human mind.

You may also notice, if you have been following along (yeah, right), that there are a few more positive comments sprinkled in among the oopsies with this set. I’ve said before how important these are to a writer, propping up our tottering egos, but it’s important to notice how often these come when they come at all. I know I did a much better job with part two of the book because I found many more of these gems amidst the comments. They not only helped me feel good about the work I did, but also let me know where I needed to focus the bulk of my rewriting. If parts of your book are not that good, not good enough to garner some positive commentary at any rate, you are looking less at mild cutting or changes than at significant rewriting, something I’ll discuss in another post. Perhaps tomorrow’s.

Anyway, I’m on the front end of a four-day weekend, one that I will use for recuperation and, hopefully, finishing the involved work needed to correct the remainder of the comments offered above. I’ll have probably one more post of comments before I wrap them up and begin the actual query process. In the meantime, I’m also planning on heading up to Kentucky this weekend to see my girls, especially after my middle daughter broke her arm at school this week. I’ll have the younger two with me on the road and, with their mother staying at home, I’ll have an interesting trip.

Here we are again, discussing my ineptitude. Again, the following comments are just from two chapters of the book, but give a good look into what helps me make my writing better.

I think there’s a missing word or two in the first sentence. Lee, since Micah sees Seth and not just an indentation in the foliage – a great image by the way – I’m not sure how to edit this. Since your narrator isn’t omniscient and mostly sticks to Micah’s point of view, I don’t think you can say, for example, that John reacted to seeing a dead limb spinning through the air, and instead would have to say something like Micah imagining the sight of a log twirling through the air towards the mine. So, should you say that the man was surprised by what must have been an indentation in the foliage, etc?
Also, I do like your second sentence here (“Micah wondered later….”); that’s a nice way of fitting in what Micah saw and what the rest would see with the benefit of hindsight.

I like the way the para reads – and the image it leaves us with – without this last sentence.

Can you do the sentence without the although? It seems to have more impact that way.

Lee, I really like the action here. I know I’ve mentioned I’m not particularly fond of “battle” scenes, but you, again, made this easy to read, easy to understand, without merely being technical.

Nicely done.

I would like my non-existent readers to pay close attention to the last comment. Aside from a few corrected typos, this was the only significant remark of the second of the two chapters in this set and it shows another key element to finding someone who will help you edit your work. The process is not about giving someone the opportunity to beat you up and tell you how awful your writing is. If you have a reader who does this, they do not need to read for you anymore. A writer’s ego is fragile enough from our own inner insecurities without adding someone else’s on top of them. A good reader should also tell you when you’re doing well. If anything, this is more important than helping you correct your errors because it is this, that occasional word of encouragement, that really keeps you going during the process. After all, you are editing because your work is not perfect and now, as these comments roll in from various sources, you really see how not perfect the whole thing is. The only way some of us can continue to write is because we have received support from outside ourselves telling us that it is worthwhile. No writer worth his or her salt can survive on ego alone.

So, editing continues and will continue for the foreseeable future. I’m hoping to have the whole thing done and ready to go in three or four weeks so I can start submitting to agents. My query letter is starting to come together as well and I’ve even written a few tentative words on the historical fiction novel, even though I’m not sure that what I’m going to throw myself into next.

Thankfully, I’m home from an unplanned overnight stay at home of the day job, another captive of the brutal ice storm that raged through the middle of the country over the past couple of days. I was also stranded without my laptop, which made things even worse and which also made it impossible to write anything on here for no one to read.

The one upside to the storm, however, was the uncommon display of how nature, like certain women I know, can be beautiful and cruel at the same time. While it kept me from returning home and sleeping in my own bed last night, the storm created a gorgeous glaze over everything that, when the sun came out today, looked like glass covering the trees and fences. It was a glaze the fine people at Krispy Kreme would envy, even as it tore off a substantial branch from a tree overhanging our parking lot at work. I watched it plummet and land in a cloud of powdery snow and was thankful that no cars were passing under at that moment. I’d probably still be doing the paperwork on that one.

Anyway, I’m home and have the next four days off. During those days, I have a serious decision to make, one that will define much of my work for the coming year. I have two ideas in mind for which novel to take on next. One is a historical fiction set in America in the late 19th century. The other is a dark urban fantasy set in the here and now. I see pros and cons for writing both and, by Sunday evening, I want to have started whichever one I choose.

The historical fiction is the clearest in my mind. I have been seeing this story for a long time and I know this one wants to be written more than anything else on my docket. I hear the characters very clearly and know several of the scenes they will have to endure to reach the end of their journey. The main problem, though, is that I’m not sure if I’m good enough yet to tell this tale. I’ve seen a lot of problems with my writing in Gifts of the Hirakee that really make me question whether I have the command of the writing to tell this story they way I want it to be told. I’m not looking to match the great literary figures of our time, of course, but I do want a certain level of refinement that I’ve not had before and I don’t know if I can pull it off without just sounding ridiculous.

The other story, the urban fantasy, is less problematic in that it feels easier. It is less of a departure from what I’ve written before and, therefore, is the more comfortable project. I see this story fairly well, but not as well as the historical and I certainly do not hear the characters here as well as I do in the other. The story seems like it would be marketable, even in this sluggish economy, but the idea behind it isn’t as powerful.

So, the question is this: which story do I write? Do I take a chance on the more challenging work outside my comfort zone and risk writing myself to a dead end? Do I build upon what I know and what I have learned and go with the urban fantasy?

I will gladly listen to any feedback on this topic until my decision is made, so if anyone out there is actually reading this, feel free to comment and help me with this choice.

In other news, my wounded thumb is healing nicely, although it looks like I will have a nice scar across the pad that will make all my old fingerprint files (at least for that thumb) mostly obsolete. This healing could not come at a better time as I now have a full twelve chapters to reread and edit this weekend, although several of those chapters are at the beginning of part two in the book and not very long. The initial comments from my readers are that part two is much stronger than part one, so I’ll also be looking back to determine what I can do to bring part one up to the wonderfully picky standards (see my posts of ‘Sample Editorial Comments’) of my readers.

That’s about it for right now. I’m glad to be home and looking forward to a few days of editing and sleeping, even with a planned road trip to Kentucky with my son thrown in the mix. Maybe I’ll make the five-year old drive so I can keep editing.

Here are some more examples of my shameful lapses. Enjoy!

Since this is from Micah’s perspective, the phrase is not needed.

I like this sentence but wonder if there’s a better place later on to say this. Again, I think the reader can sense this in just the dialogue.

As is, it lays out too simply what the reader should be able to understand themselves. Can it be changed just a little?

I’m still having a problem with Lone Eagle’s voice. I can’t hear him saying phrases like, “In the meantime” or even “besides”, and instead of, “I think you know who it is,” I hear him simply saying, “You know who it is.” I’m curious to see how you edit this.

I don’t think you need this since you already state that Micah thought about this question before answering.

I think you can condense this para. It seems too much detail/info for something relatively inconsequential.

Lee, I’ve previously mentioned that there are sections of your writing that seem flawless. They read so smooth & natural that I couldn’t imagine putting the words together in any other way to say what you need them to. In the two sections I put in brackets above, I feel the opposite – like the sentences are forced and not as natural as your usual writing. I think it may simply be that you added too much information (A comment I’ve made previously) or that you’re kinda repeating yourself in order to ensure that the reader understands what you’re trying to say. I’m not exactly sure how I’d edit it, but I think, for example, in the last para, I’d keep the idea of Micah feeling remorse at the loss of their friendship & the last sentence as is, but maybe cut back on whether they accepted his apology and how he did not feel like he wronged them.

You don’t need this. Trust that you’ve made it clear that Micah is very quick to get hot and that he has to expend effort to suppress it; you don’t need to over highlight this.

That’s all from two chapters of the book. In looking through the comments, I’m seeing certain trends that indicate a wondrous thing for me–I’m overwriting. I’ve always been one to underdescribe what’s going on and then have to go back and add detail later. Now, it seems my writing has evolved, or devolved, to where I’m front-loading more detail than I actually need.

Having other people read your work before you submit is the ideal way to catch this kind of mistake before it goes public. It does take a certain willingness to swallow your pride and make tough decisions regarding your work (“Kill your darlings,” said Hemingway) that you may or may not totally agree with. Still, if your readers find a problem with your writing, there is a reason for it and your job, now that you are not composing fresh material for this piece, is to find that reason and get it fixed. It’s as if the readers are x-ray technicians looking at the bones of your work to figure out what’s wrong before you, the surgeon, goes into fix the damage. Thankfully, the only scars it leaves are those on our egos.

More tomorrow. Perhaps.

Here are a few more of the editorial comments I’ve received on Gifts of the Hirakee. Again, if you have problems with this sort of feedback to your writing, you should reconsider how much you want to do it:

A very minor thing: This has more of a feel of being a description of what they are doing than what they are thinking. For example, though they are worried about Seth sneaking up on them, I’m sure John has at least one egotistical thought about how awesome he & his team are.

.” Again, maybe add a specific thought that Mindy or Brandon had, perhaps even Lauren expressing concern that Mindy is back to talking to animals again.

tendril The Repetition Police here. You used this word several times in previous chapters in reference to the campfire. It doesn’t work as well her, so I recommend it be replaced.

I really enjoyed this chapter, and loved the ending. During the second read, I added the more nit-picky suggestions – it really is a good chapter, and as I told you before, you do action well, and though I don’t care for action I was able to visualize the battle easily.

I LOVED this chapter. It is filled with those elements in your writing that I enjoy so much (for example, the description of the old park), and the interaction between Micah and Lauren (and Lauren’s beau) was perfect. I particularly liked how the question he wrote on the paper mirrored the question he remembered Lauren asking at the end of the previous chapter.

Trust that you’ve done a good enough job developing the characters that the reader knows this already.

Minor Point: There isn’t a fence in your description of the field in the previous chapter.

I deleted this mainly because you’ve already made several similar references (please don’t make me find them).

I edited out the first phrase because the reader gets that already, the second phrase because I’m not sure it is a necessary detail here – you can include it in the previous page when he comes home and takes off his wet clothes. Here, I feel that it reads better if you change the pace of the narrative so that it matches Micah’s urgent rush to Lauren’s. The laundry room detail (as the not picking up the cup, etc) just slows it down. What I put in parenthesis can be deleted as well.

I really think the reader can figure this out themselves.

Lee, I don’t particularly like this para. I don’t think you need most of what’s in it.

I am being extraordinarily picky here (even for me), but I don’t know much about dog prints – is a large dog print a lot smaller than an adult boot print?

WAIT – didn’t you say earlier that his mom wouldn’t be home for hours and his dad was at the store? How much time passed between glancing Lance in Lauren room and this?

I deleted the first sentence since his by his action we can assume that he was trying to reduce glare. For the same reason, you really don’t need the phrase in brackets.

Not crazy about this sentence. And I’m wondering if after everything that happened that day – the ups & downs of battle with the corresponding flow of adrenalin, he would think in such complete sentences.

But kinda like the way I thought you used too much “stage directions” in the first chapter, I think you use too much detail in this chapter. I know it is weird that I say this, because I think you have a good eye for detail and that you have a wonderful knack for describing things. But, for example, in the section above, the details you include don’t seem necessary.

The other reason I did a lot of strikethroughs is when I thought you told the reader too much, what we should be able to infer.

Well, there you go–three chapters of shameful fail on my part. More will follow as I get it and make the changes.

Here’s an example of some of the editorial comments I’ve received on the first couple of chapters of Project Superhero. Again, for any writer who cannot take even this level of feedback regarding your writing, you should think about doing something else. This proofreader is ridiculously polite and, more importantly, completely right when it comes to these recommendations.

I’m not posting these just to show off my own failings, although I’m certainly not ashamed to do so. I hope other writers can read these comments and not only find someone else who will treat their work with similar tough love and attention, but also learn to look for these things in their own writing. My goal when I edit is to avoid what you see listed below. Everything I catch is something that keeps me from looking AS stupid later on.

I should also point out that these remarks, and several more I left out, are only from the FIRST THREE CHAPTERS! Still, I agree 100% with all of them and am working hard to make the changes. Some are very specific, easily fixed, and others have required a significant amount of rewriting on my part, but that is what it takes to succeed–a desire to make the work as good as it can be and the willpower to keep the ego from getting involve.

So, that said, read and learn:

Lee, reading chapter 2, I’m wondering if you should alter or add anything else in this description of John. The fart was dead-on (he loves loud explosive things and wasn’t polite during camping, right?), but his comment about Micah & Lauren’s plate was both “vulgar” and hurtful – not quite something that made Michah (or any of the others) love him. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that John and not Seth (who you described as “abrasive”) made that comment (I’m thinking of Mindy’s reaction to Seth and John being the peace-maker in that situation).

Lee, this is really well written. I already like the characters and their relationships and am looking forward to finding out more about them.
I went over the last couple of pages numerous times and decided to put a lot of things in parentheses for you to consider. I like the dialogue between Mindy & Micah a lot, but I suggest that you take out a lot of the “stage directions” (for lack of a better term). You did a good enough job setting up the characters that your readers can easily imagine their actions during this scene without a detailed description. For example, I think you don’t need to say that Micah’s “thanks” didn’t sound thankful, or that Micah needed a moment to process Mindy’s question, or that he scrambled to come up with a reason to give Mindy, etc.
Doing dialogue – real, honest dialogue – is one of your strengths. At this point in the chapter, removing as much as the unessentials (is that a word?) really highlights this, and lets the characters speak for themselves while adding a sense of intimacy. I am not suggesting that you get rid of all of the comments I parenthesized, just that you review them and decide if some can be removed or shortened.

Lee, I’d switch positions of these two sentences (making the appropriate grammatical changes necessary). I think it explains Micah’s uneasiness better.

Right now, it is a bit confusing who the comment is about. Either say something like, “Brandon looked at Micah. From his expression alone, Micah could tell by that the comment…” or – my preference – delete that part of the sentence altogether.

…radiate from him like heat. You used this expression once in the last chapter (in reference to Mindy on page 3). You know me and repetition – I think you can find a better simile.

…he sat back down. He was already sitting down.

Stupid detail – In chapter 1 you mention that Brandon wears glasses; perhaps mention their absence or presence in this para or the next.

Lee, I know I’m being picky, but did the three tribe members carry the barrel of gunpowder with them as they took that long walk with Howling wind to the chamber? Should I just shut-up and simply suspend disbelief? (I know I’m weird — I don’t blink when a cave is sealed supernaturally, but a man-made sealing of a chamber with gunpowder I question.)

(My personal favorite.) Lee, this is the only bit of dialogue that doesn’t seem natural. I absolutely know what Brandon is trying to say – it just seems like something that Scooby & the Gang would say. (I hope that made you smile.)

I’m not crazy about this para. It takes away the solemnity of the moment.

Lee, I really like the concept of this chapter and your creativity, but there are a couple of things I’m struggling with.

I plan to keep posting such remarks as a testament to the trust I have in my readers and my own resolve to listen to them. Again, if you can find someone who is willing to do this for you, to give you an honest assessment of what does and does not work in your writing, do whatever you can to keep them happy and give them something, in the quality of your work, to make it seem worthwhile.

I just received the first five chapters, complete with detailed comments on what works and what doesn’t, from my number one proofreader. She is always concerned that I’ll be offended by what she has to say, but if I’m going to be offended by anything, it’s the mistakes I allow myself to leave in before I send the story to her. Some of them are small–typos and such. Some of them are huge and will require significant rewrites. Still, I love them all. She, and the other proofreaders, make me better and for that I’m more grateful than they could possibly know.

The lesson in this is that if you can’t handle someone else providing a detailed commentary of what is good and, more importantly, what is bad with your writing, you should go do something else. What my readers do makes me so much better than I would be on my own and I love them all for it.

Now, I’ll cut this short so I can go fix my book.