What happened to my day off?

The late comedian George Burns did a series of routines of a Farewell Tour, then The Next Farewell Tour, then The Last Farewell Tour …

I feel that way sometimes when thinking about being finished with a novel. There are so many stages of being ‘done’ it can actually be funny. So, Wednesday I wrapped my review of the copy edited manuscript, did my photo, drank my Springbank, went off to a scotch tasting night with friends (pure coincidence, that timing), and woke up yesterday to a crazy busy day!

It was mostly the map. Martin and I must have exchanged a dozen emails each way and half a dozen phone calls to sort the fiddly things that make these things work. Mostly to do with where the text is specific about something. If a stream is described as visible from a farmhouse, the map can’t have it too far away, even knowing that people allow cartographic license (I just made that up) in the interest of legibility. If someone walks east from a set point and crosses a river to get to a town, that town needed to move east on the map – and I needed to be alert enough to catch it – after several encounters the night before with a superlative 21 year old Glengoyne.

Then Martin had to do some nimble footwork (well, fingerwork) to stretch the map a bit (too much and words look weird) to be more rectangular, as it is a two-page spread in the book. (It may actually go on the endpapers this time. I like that effect, easier to turn to it, and a little larger, too. Though that only works for the hardcover, of course.)

Then I received by email from Penguin the ‘interior design’ sample pages. These were fine (identical to Under Heaven, which I liked in design terms) with one exception. Ready for more dingbat discussion? Latecomers will perhaps have forgotten, or never known, more likely, that ‘dingbats’ are the small section dividers (like asterisks, but classier) and can also be large Part 1, Part 2 dividers, as decoration. For Under Heaven the larger ones were a horse Martin designed, and that suited the book very well.

Can’t use that this time, and I disliked the one proposed in the material sent to me (too modern). So the ARCs (advance reading copies) will either just say Part 1, Part 2, with no decoration, while we figure it out for the actual book, or they may have something since we went into overdrive yesterday looking at options. To be determined today. I made calls to the Royal Ontario Museum, to see about access to a particular image… if that happens it’ll be fun.

I also wrapped the Acknowledgements. I find these tricky, and said so in them this time. On the one hand, I want to mentionall the books I found even slightly useful. On the other hand, I read 100+ texts and about 40-50 articles. Would be ridiculous! (And not everything read is equally useful, obviously.) So it requires focus and selectivity. People are easier (hmm, what curmudgeon has ever said that?).

Then a last close look at the Character List (this was all ‘last look’ country as River of Stars will be made into ARCs based on this week’s work!). I was sorely tempted for awhile not to have one. I know, I know, people like these. But I had a weird sense that since the number of characters is really not so huge, that it might look more daunting to see all the names on two pages at the front, than it really is as they emerge organically through the story. Still, as Catherine pointed out when we emailed on this, people read books in widely different ways … someone might set it down for a week to deal with life or something (shocking, I know) and a reminder at the front does help. So, it is in there.

But, being in there, it compels some decisions. I elected to identify everyone by their role as they first appear. Anything else spoils plot hooks. I mean, if we meet Mary as a law student, and she becomes a congresswoman, then President … I think you get it. I’ll describe her as Mary, a student at Georgetown Law…

Then there were emails and phone calls relating to tomorrow’s trip to the Salon du Livre in Montreal, then more concerning an online marketing idea that will launch soon. (That’s a tease, I know.)

And next week I get the book back, typeset, and three of us proofread that in about a week. (Um, thanks, no volunteers needed. They have it covered!)

The true shame is that we finished off that Glengoyne … I could use it. First time any one bottle has been polished off at our group. Usually the host gets 1/3 of a bottle or so to put in his liquor cabinet. Not this one.



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