Friday, April 30, 2010

On the Trail of the Novelist. Part I

It was the mystery novels of P.J. Parrish that first got me interested in visiting Sanibel and Captiva Islands in Florida. The books' protagonist, Louis Kincaid, lived in a rundown cottage on the beach on Captiva.
Then I discovered Randy Wayne White's novels set among the same barrier islands in south west Florida. My fascination grew.

Driving over the causeway toward Sanibel last week, I found it hard to believe I was finally here. The water beyond the white sand on either side of the causeway was a creamy turquoise colour.

The islands were much less rugged than I had imagined, although I'm sure parts of them are. The magnificent homes on Captiva are anything but rustic.

The narrow main street on Sanibel, called Periwinkle Way, was a steady stream of sightseers in cars, or people of every age leisurely peddling rented bicycles (the ideal way to get around). One lone traffic cop at the four corners kept everything moving smoothly.

The air was warm and moist, the vegetation tropical. Cactus and palm trees abounded, and the hibiscus bushes were in full bloom.

On Sanibel there is a bar named after Randy Wayne White's fictional character, Doc Ford: "Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille." That definitely deserved a visit.

I can tell you now that the crab cakes there are simply scrumptious. The proprietors also sell White's books and souvenirs. I kept expecting to see Doc Ford come though the door. His endearing, hippie sidekick Tomlinson too, I hoped.
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Writing With Abandon

One of the best things about keeping a journal is being able to look back at it from time to time. Now, as Growing Up Ivy moves down the production line at the publisher's, from copy edit to design, I read an entry that I made two years ago in my journal.

I had just started some early scribbles toward a new book, and I was working from the angle of the child I'd heard about who spent her summers with her peddler father, living in a horse-drawn caravan. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was where the inspiration for  Growing Up Ivy came from. Here is that journal entry: 

I want this next book to be brave and daring. I want to write with abandon, to tell a fantastic story without letting my inner editor loose too early. I have a picture in my head of a girl and her mother escaping out the window of their room as the landlord hammers on the door. The mother is footloose, irresponsible, dreaming of being on the stage. The child thinks that everyone lives this way -- fleeing angry landlords, eating in diners, moving from one rooming house to the next, and attending school when it suits her.

Whether or not this will be part of what I'm calling the "caravan story" remains to be seen. But this new creation is taking me along on it's own course. I don't know where or when it will end.

I remember telling the others in our writing group that the book, in its early stages, was writing itself. I stood back and let it go.

In the end, the two parts of the story did come together. Ivy's mother, Frannie, is the would-be actress who abandons the child, and her rescuer is her father, Alva, who takes Ivy with him in the caravan for the summer.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Working with the Copy Editor

The copy edited version of Growing Up Ivy arrived by email on Thursday, and I've been spending what time I can going over it, while also preparing for our family's Easter celebrations. I'm reading the manuscript out loud, slowly, as I look for any typos that may have been missed.

Aside from the editor's queries, which appear in the side margin, the other changes are mainly for punctuation or a word I've used too often. These minor changes appear on the page in coloured font so that they can be easily picked out. If  I make any changes of my own, they appear in a different coloured font.

The most frequent correction has been for problems in usage. I have used the word "further" throughout the manuscript, where the publisher prefers "farther." The same goes for my use of the word "towards" instead of the preferred "toward." My dictionary says the words are often used interchangeably, however these days the word "farther" should be reserved to describe physical distance.  You see what you can learn?

So far, I'm liking all the editorial suggestions. I think my editor is making me look pretty good!