Tales From a Curmudgeon’s Notebook, and the Curmudgeon is Me

The female version of curmudgeon is apparently termagant.  I’ll have you know, however, that I won’t be called a termagant. So curmudgeon it is.  Why am I that way?  Well, let’s just say that it’s genetic.  The contrarian gene has been passed from great to grandmother to son to daughter.  Genetics aside, all of the chaos in my life right now is bound to bring it out in me.  What else is going to happen when I’m living in a small house full-up with people at almost every minute of the day?  Add to that the house project which is ongoing, practically in my backyard, and I’m a lost cause.

My husband asked me the other day if I wouldn’t mind having a tube slide coming off one side of the upstairs portion of the house, and that was after I had gotten to the point where I didn’t want to talk anymore about the house ever until it was completely built.  What would you do?  Would you have a slide ruin the aesthetic of your Mediterranean-style house?  Well, would you?  My husband, fireman that he is, claims it would make the safest kind of fire escape route for the children.  Yes, I believe that’s why he wants a slide on his house.  Sure I do.  I told him he could have his slide if he masked it in trailing vines of wisteria.  By the way, my brother-in-law, who is also my contractor, said that my entire house would be built with nothing but wisteria if he had to listen to Simon and Garfunkel on the job site, which is a bit of a joke alluding to my distaste for the spirits of Marilyn Manson and ACDC being infused in the building of my someday residence. 

I won’t bore you with the details of my lunatic life.  I’ll just remind you that, through all of it, I’m trying to write a book that will be sequel to my prequel, and I have this great pressure inside my skull that says I must finish it immediately or my head will explode.  Thankfully, I’m trotting it out at a fast clip and, if I keep up the pace, I will finish a first draft in two to three weeks.  And then, throughout chaotic August, I will be able to run through a couple of revisions.

Which brings me to the WHOLE POINT of the POST.  I’d like to know the methods others use for revisions.  So, leave me a comment and tell me.  Would you if I said pretty please with sugar on top?  This was my method last time I edited:

1. quick read through to eradicate really awkward and/or embarrassing bits before handing it to beta readers

2. changes made in response to beta readers’ gripes

3. complete line-edit, including grammar and spell checks

4. line edit in which I read the entire book out loud before handing it to professional critiquer

5. content edit done myself because professional critique partner is slow and I’m seriously impatient

Here’s where it gets funny.  I sent off about four queries before my critique partner was finished.  He took several months–would you blame me?  These all came back with rejections, but that’s all right because they weren’t my top-choice agent.  I then rewrote my query for my top-choice agent and sent it off, only to hear from my critique partner that he was ready to have a meeting with me.  All that was well and good because, of course, this agent was sure as anything going to reject my query.  She didn’t.  She asked me to send her my manuscript as I was sitting with my critique partner, who just happened to be telling me that my book was definitely missing something.  He advised changes–changes that would take a lot of time to fix.

6. I made these big changes in about forty-eight hours and sent the revised manuscript to the agent.

Five months later, the manuscript is still with her, but that is all right.  I’m willing to wait for my ultimate rejection (I’m not getting my hopes up, folks.  I’m a curmudgeon, remember?)  Meanwhile, I have a sequel to complete. 

Sometimes, you have to be just a little curmudgeonly to survive this life.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: I will post a new chapter of NM Noir by Saturday at midnight, mountain time.  I also want to thank my small, but dedicated readership.



  1. I think that's sweet and hysterical your husband is using your children as a means to a built in slide cascading over the formal living room. (That's where I imagine it landing.) I would def. green light this project, but then I'm strange that way.

  2. In the living room–now there's an idea! That would be fun. Actually, he was planning for it to run off one side of the upstairs balcony and land outside the house. That's why I decided it should be decorated in trailing wisteria.:) But, yeah, my husband is, um, hilarious. Sometimes.

  3. all right, I've had it. If I find all my comments here tomorrow, I don't know what I'll do. Delete them?

  4. It sounds like you edit like I do. Reading it out loud. Going line by line a zillion times. Doing a check list of words to throw out. Getting my critique partners to read it in a timely manner and make the changes and now I have beta readers I am waiting on. Then I will work up my query and submit unless I hire a professional editor which I am learning toward. I hope you hear great news! I have a full at my fav agent that I have been waiting on since Feb. She said she can't give it a total no yet but if and when she does, I have a new book ready to pitch.

  5. Bwaaahahaha!! A tube slide? For real? Surely, he was joking. What about one of those poles the firemen use to slide down? That might be more aesthetically pleasing.

    Ok, about edits. And don't I know about edits! I must have edited Wounded Spirits 20 times before my editor got a hold of it and she still suggested major changes! Sounds like you have a good method going though. I would suggest you become part of a critique group, if you're not already. I'm part of one for another book I'm working on and boy do I wish I'd done that with WS!! Wow, i could have saved myself so much time and heartache.
    Oh well. God knows best.
    Keep at it, girl friend and let us know how the writing goes! Happy writing.

  6. I think a tube slide is a wonderful magnificent idea.What in the world is wrong with a tube slide come out of the balcony?

  7. I think Mediterranean houses SHOULD have tube slides. It wouldn't ruin the look of the house, it would just make people want the house!

  8. Terri, I feel for you. To know that an agent isn't immediately saying no is a good thing, though, right?

    April, did you know that fire poles aren't even allowed in first stations anymore because they're considered dangerous?! A fire pole would be seriously fun! Yes, I would love to have a critique group, but it would have to be over the internet because I live in a small town. I have a critique partner and that's all.

    All right X3 ANONS: I know who you are. You are either my children or husband or both.

    Hey, hubby, look me in the eyes and tell me you didn't just call me a termagant! Oh, wait, you can't really do that over the internet.

  9. Darling, I would NEVER, EVER look you in the eye and call you a termagant (or any other kind of gant, for that matter)! I can't believe you would accuse me of such a thing!! Nor have I ever imagined that you were an imaginary deity supposed by medieval Christians to be worshipped by Muslims. So please end the jihad and remove the fatwa from my head.

  10. Termagant sounds like some sort of migratory bird. Just putting that out there…

    Editing feels very cyclical to me–I haven't quite finished the first draft and I'm already going over the whole thing to figure out what's missing. Half of my editing is deciding what's missing and fixing that before moving on–additive edits, I tend to call them. So once I finish adding things, I start going through for the content, and once I've fixed the content I smooth out the rough edges…though a lot of that has gone away in the process of fixing the other bits. During this, I post bits and pieces on an online crit group I belong to in order to get feedback on the general voice, feel, progression.

    I give the whole thing to beta readers at the end–possibly not the best plan, as so much has gone into it by then, but I kind of can't handle the idea of it being read before it's as good as I can make it.

  11. Rowenna, I like that–a migratory bird.

    Are you sure you don't just want to finish before trying to figure out what's missing? That's a tough one, because 'what's missing' might end up changing the ending.

    I don't know that giving my book to beta readers at the beginning was a good plan, either, but they did get the book in its pure form, and I needed a break from it.

  12. P.S. I have started a new blog – a lot of the material is from my old Marie Antoinette site, Let Them Eat Cake. I hope you will pop by and tell me what you think. Love your opinions 🙂

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