Friday, October 13, 2023

The Copyediting Process

 I was going through some documents I had saved on a thumb drive, searching for a midterm study guide for one of my classes that I thought I might have accidentally copied to the wrong drive. 

As I was scrolling, I came across my responses to the copyeditor's queries about The Red Queen Dies, the first book featuring my Albany, New York homicide detective, Hannah McCabe. 

Since The Wizard of Oz is also mentioned in this book, it occurred to me that you might enjoy a peep behind the (editing) curtain.  

Comments about my revisions and in response to queries from copyeditor

1. I took this last opportunity to do more to establish that this is an “alternate universe” or “parallel world.” I explain the reasons in my Author’s Note. The “real world” happens too fast. A near-future book needs to exist in its own reality. 

[Note: The "the present" has caught up with me and zoomed past. It is still 2019 in my third (plotted but not written ) book and in my 1939 historical where McCabe and Baxter are (probably) going to be appearing in a parallel subplot].

Aside from the UFO that appeared in 2012 

[Note: I mentioned the UFO in a news broadcast at the beginning of the book. The news reader reports the seventh anniversary of an event that had sent NORAD scrambling. The UFO disappeared and has never returned. I give myself a pat on the back for being ahead of the recent (real world) discussion about UFO sightings]:

a. “New France” (this is the name a historian friend of mine suggested if Quebec should break away from the rest of Canada) mentioned during the morning news.

b. The “curse” on the Yankees (which any baseball fan would recognize as being in an alternate universe in which the Yankees, who are a winning team in this world, are now dealing with a version of the curse that plagued the Red Sox)

c. “if Truman had really beat Dewey” [new addition]

(see page 121) – a passing mention by Angus of a book he is planning to read. Of course, a reference to the famous “Dewey beats Truman” newspaper headline. And sets up the political history in the book as not quite the same as this world. Later, in the book (during the discussion about getting access to library records, Baxter now makes a sarcastic comment about how this is what Howard Miller is always talking about (Democrats have now been in control of the White House for 11 years and have stacked the Supreme Court. Civil liberties have been protected – and Howard Miller is the conservative backlash to that. Just a passing comment by Baxter to which McCabe makes a sarcastic response but sets the stage for another mention of neo-Nazis later. I also wanted to use Baxter’s comment to imply that he’s “testing” McCabe to see how she’ll respond.

d. And, as you may have noticed, in a scene driving into work, McCabe is listening to Elvis’s farewell concert in Central Park – a major event in 2000. Presumably, Elvis is now a senior citizen and alive and well.

The technology:

1. Web based on language used by biologists to describe spider web (e.g., node, threader)

2. The technology doesn’t always work – police budget and solar flares – I have a bit more discussion about that now as they are looking at Vivian Jessup’s body on camera. Just another reference to where the money is being spent – downtown, around the convention center, protecting tourists

3. While they are waiting for a table at the barge, Baxter mentions UAlbany and nanotech. Another reason it’s hard to get a table downtown (but also important in describing the city as nanotechnology moves off campus, and sets up offices downtown)

Other changes:

1. Here and there have replaced “old” with “elderly” when referring to women

2. On pages 34-36, tightened up Wizard of Oz discussion and changed location where second victim dies (killed when has flat tire). The change in location is because the perp that McCabe and Baxter arrest has broken into the first victim’s house. This would have to be Bethany’s house (empty since her death).

3. Page 31 – at the Jessup crime scene, the dead animal was a squirrel in early versions. It is now a dead snake. I thought this was a bit grosser as a mental image. Although not said, the implication is that Baxter mistakes the snake for a piece of the victim’s intestines.

4. Page 15 – I corrected a blooper – the bola McCabe fires from her weapon should go around the victim’s legs rather than his feet and use cords rather than a net.

5. pp. 125-126 – The conversation between McCabe and Chelsea changes a bit here. Chelsea is trying to fix McCabe up with a blind date – later will become clear that McCabe has not even told her best friend about her secret lover and will also reinforce McCabe’s exchange with the two detectives in Jessup’s apartment about dying and having someone come and paw through your things. As a character she values privacy.

In this same scene with Chelsea, the set-up for a topic I’d like to explore a little in the next book (designer babies and cloning – Baxter brings up cloning when he mentions his friend who is dying)

6. p. 357 – a bit of editing here with Baxter’s call to his contact about a meeting  

7. As I was looking for typos in the final scenes, I did some general tightening and cleaning up clunky dialogue.

Note the specific use now of a “pharmacologist” (rather than “doctor”) . . . . 

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