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Huff, Puff

toledocoversidebar From March, 2004

Today I am supposed to be working on line edits.

Did you know ELOCUTE is actually not a word? I mean, you can use elocution obviously, but you can’t make it act as a verb. If you put it into SPELL CHECK, spell check says you probably mean EELPOUT. Eel? Pout? Eelpout is a word?!?!? I was so happy to find the word eelpout I should have left it alone. I had to go look it up. It’s a stupid noun. Bah. I SO wanted it to be a VERB. “Veronica eelpouted her way through the last half of the party.”

Line edits, by the way, are when your editor sends you a copy of your MS that she has marked up with a pencil to show you exactly how many times you have written “breath” when you really meant “breathe.” Then you go in and put e’s on all of them. You have probably used “breath” to mean “breathe” a humiliating number of times for a person with a masters degree in English. Actually, twice is a humiliating number of times, and you are so far over twice you can not discuss it. Someone might ask you, “So how many times was it, really?” And you won’t say.

All this BREATH for BREATHE makes you realize just how OFTEN you, as a writer, tend to update the reader on how well or poorly and with what sounds or intonations your characters are processing oxygen. The breathometer. The people in your head sure seem to SIGH and EXHALE excessively. They snort and puff and gasp and inhale sharply, and one of ‘em even freakin’ whistles.

You begin to wonder if you ought not off the whistler NOW, here in line edits, where you still have the luxury of changing things like THE WHOLE PLOT, like for example who lives and who dies — or rather, as you would put it, GASPS THEIR LAST BREATH, except probably sadly truly really you would say GASPS THEIR LAST BREATHE. You begin to wonder if you have a complex. You realize you probably do, because why else would you CONTINUE to RELENTLESSLY refer to yourself in the second person???

*blows air out nose like an exasperated horse*

TheCuttingSeason Me now: Yeah, Pretty much this. I just went back to the first draft files of my current WIP, and in the thirty pages there were FOURTEEN detailed descriptions of how people were processing oxygen.

In later chapters and in revisions I seem to have decided to let the reader assume everyone is processing oxygen more or less correctly without the constant updates—except the one character who isn’t processing it at all. *DUN DA MUSIC!*

THE WHAT I READ IN 2014 LIST

In Progress: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trolloppe
The Patron Saint of Ugly by Marie Manilla
Help for the Haunted by John Searles
Southern Sin Edited by Lee Gutkind and Beth Ann Fennelly
Heap House by Edward Carey

2014 REREADS

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer
Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Stardust by Neil Gaiman (Audio)

8 comments to Huff, Puff

  • Bookgirl in FL

    Ahhhh! You have at once made my day, and dashed my hopes, all in a single blog post! After reading Shine, Shine, Shine last year (based solely on your recommendation), I was thrilled to see the bright and shiny cover of a new Lydia Netzer book at the top of your post. Of course, after running to Amazon to order, I find that it’s not available until July. Such a tease! At the very least, many thanks for directing me toward one of the few authors (including yourself) that I immediately list when asked for “faves.” Happy editing! (and breathing :) ).

  • Bridget

    Me too! I thought I had missed the release date on Lydia’s new book. FYI…July 1st everyone. BTW,,,does this mean that Lydia may return for the Decatur Book Festival?

  • I forgot that this was a flashback day. . .totally didn’t get the bold font. I was thinking, “Good grief! She is into line edits fast for whatever is next.” You tease. . .

  • Jennifer

    Ahem. This is English. Any noun can be verbed.

  • OOO, I can’t wait for Lydia’s new book!

  • TC

    Not nice. Telling us how you’re REreading a book that hasn’t yet been published. Taunter. Hmph. (That would be me breathing haughtily and semi-angrily in your general direction.)

  • Jessica (the celt)

    Thanks, Bookgirl, for doing my homework for me! I, too, thought I had somehow missed Lydia’s book, but I’m glad to see that I didn’t. (But I’m not glad to see that I now have to wait until July to read it.)

  • Therese

    Wait, isn’t “elocute” where you say something so shocking, people die from hearing it?? You’ve elocuted them; you are an elocutioner. I’m sure that’s how that word works. If we keep using it that way, it will end up in the dictionary some day.