An Editing Cautionary Tale

We are in the final edits–the galleys–of North of the Tension Line (Beaufort Books, September 2014; Available now for pre-sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Sorry. Had to be done. ) just at the very moment that things are intense at work. Although a professional proofreader and my editor have been through the book, as the author, I, too, need to review it, and time is pretty crunched. My good friend, Mary Beth, aka “Impromptu Librarian”, offered to be an extra set of eyes, and I gratefully accepted. In less than a day she had read the book for probably the third time,  and returned the proofed documents for me to pass on to my editor. But the next morning she called and we had an odd conversation.

Mary Beth: “What is hapcedarss?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Mary Beth: “Hapcedarss.”

Me: “I hate your bluetooth system.”

Mary Beth: “It’s in your book. Hapcedarss.”

Me: “Hapcedarss? It’s in my book? Are you sure?”

Mary Beth: “I’m sure. The proof reader has many notes about it.”

Me: “In my book?”

Mary Beth: “She had been commenting on it several times, and then pointed out that she had googled the word and checked with OED, but cannot find any such word.”

Me: “That’s hardly surprising. I don’t think there is any such word.”

Mary Beth: “Well, it’s in your book.”

Me: “Hapcedarss is in my book.”

Mary Beth: “Right.”

Me: “Hmmm. Very odd.”

It was a busy day of meetings and preparations for meetings at work, so it wasn’t until quite late that, now having forgotten about hapcedarss, I was able to finally sit down with my manuscript to begin my own proofreading. Not far into the manuscript light finally dawned.

I sold my book much more quickly than I had expected, so submitting my manuscript for fact-checking had therefore also had a much tighter timeline than I had expected. Among the more essential things was sending the book to my friend, Captain Bill, the ferry captain, to make sure that I hadn’t committed any egregious ferrying errors. He called me, and in one of the more delightful moments of this whole process, left a message telling me that he had read the book, and that he had liked it. I still have his voice mail on my phone and listen to it when I’m feeling blue. Anyway, when I called him back, I anxiously enquired whether I had made any mistakes about the ferry, or said anything stupid about the lake or its navigation. He assured me that it was all fine, but he had one correction. The trees at School House Beach, he pointed out, were not pines, as I had written. They were cedars.

Armed with this information, I sat down with my manuscript and created a “find and replace”. Wherever P-I-N-E appeared, it should be replaced with C-E-D-A-R. For some reason, I have rarely used find and replace, even though I have been using Word at home and at work for a pretty long time. What I hadn’t realized was that find and replace doesn’t just find and replace words. It finds and replaces the interiors of words.

It was late in the day, but I called my editor in New York. “I’m so glad you called to tell me this,” she said. “I had a terrible day, and this makes it so much better.”

Apparently, there is a great deal of happiness–or at least the talk of it–in my book. And it’s likely that hapcedarss will forever be a part of Mary Beth’s and my, and my editor’s vocabularies.

Our cups overflow with hapcedarss.







One thought on “An Editing Cautionary Tale

  1. Pingback: Search and destroy | Impromptu Librarian

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