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January 8th, 2009

I'm going over the copy-edited ms of The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen (out in June 2009, from Viking/Penguin. Mark your calendars, now). This is the last moment for changes/second thoughts/obsessing/fussing over the finest of possible points in the book, when I finally slay the odd (and I do mean odd) darling that's been hanging in there in despite of common sense and optimal pacing, where I fine-tune the clarity and make sure that all my references refer to the right thing.

A few of things I've noticed.

The tunes for the choruses of "School Days" and "Bicycle Built for Two" are remarkably similar (although not identical), particularly when going around in your (or at least, my) head in the middle of the night.

My heroine (who, after all, was raised by fairies), doesn't know how to use "who" and "whom" properly. So I've stetted every time the copy editor has helpfully corrected her, both in narrative (which is first person, and therefore privileged) and dialogue. But now I'm slightly bothered that the copy editor thinks I don't know use them properly, when I do. Ditto the neuter "they" with a singular verb. I was a grammar teacher, dammit. I can break the rules if I want to because I know what they are.

I will never, as long as I live, be able to spell that color that is a mixture of black and white in such as way as to please an American copy-editor. To my mind, "grey" and "gray" are two slightly different colors, and I can never remember which one is the standard American spelling anyway. I also have trouble with "traveller," "woollen," and "glamour." I blame this on a childhood spent reading British children's books.

I am very bad at transitions. It takes me many, many drafts to get them right. In some cases, I don't nail it until the copy-edited ms, which is irritating to me, and probably to my editor also.

The internet can be a false friend. The Yiddish for "Stop!" is not "Haltn!" as the on-line Yiddish/English dictionary told me, but "Hert oyf!" as our friend the Yiddishist told me when I double-checked it with him. Now I have to send him a list of the other words I used in case they're wrong, too. Oy, gevalt.

Glossaries are arguably the hardest part of a book to copy-edit, particularly when they're written in the slightly idiosyncratic voice of the protagonist, who is given to slang and sentence fragments.

Almost done, though, and that's a Good Thing.

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