I’m pleased to announce that my fabulous copy editor, Shannon O’Neill, has completed a terrific revision of Dead to Rights, the second David Elliott Mystery, now available in its new and improved form on Amazon.com as a Kindle e-book.
Shannon worked with me to suggest ways to tighten the plot and the language, and to find ways to bring the characters more fully to life by showing them as three-dimensional beings as much as possible, especially main characters like David, Judy and George. Shannon observed, correctly, that Judy “seems almost too perfect,” and the rogue CIA agents Gardner and English “too predictably awful.” Ouch. Point taken. I was pleased that Ms. O’Neill loved the character of Judy Elliott. “She’s got spunk and verve and yet she’s thoughtful, quiet and intense.” Shannon helped me draw her out a bit more in the revision by answering some questions: “Does Judy aspire to a bettter life?” “Why isn’t she in college?” What does she imagine her life path to look like?” Answering these questions really helped me to bring some needed shading to her motivation and thoughts.
Shannon chided me about the diction of the characters, especially in the beginning of the book. She said, “I understand the desire to capture the ‘flavor’ of how people spoke in this time and place, but a little goes a long way.” Geez, Shannon. For cripes’ sake.
There were many aspects of Dead to Rights which Shannon O’Neill liked, and told me so. “This is a fun, gripping, and finely executed novel.” “All of the detail you have included indicates you must have done considerable research into the time period and places [the readers] encounter.” “You’ve also created some very likeable characters, especially David Elliott.”
She made it clear that Dead to Rights was my work, and my call completely whether to take or leave any of her suggested edits. “This is your book,” she said, “and you should really do what feels right to you.”
This was my first opportunity to work with a professional editor, and thanks to my friend Tom Wagner and his daughter Bridget who recommended Shannon O’Neill, I hit a grand slam.
I’m working on the third David Elliott mystery which is moving through the necessarily crappy first draft (Hemingway used a more colorful word than ‘crappy’). When the time comes to hire an editor, you may be certain I’ll be asking Shannon. She was really great to work with. Thank you, Shannon!
I invite those who have read the original version of Dead to Rights to delve into the new version. For those who haven’t read Dead to Rights, please consider doing so. Reviews, positive and not-so-positive are welcome and help me to become a better writer and storyteller.