You’re probably wondering where Lea Wait is, since she was originally scheduled to blog today. As of Monday, she was still without Internet or cable at her home in Lincoln County. You know—from that little windstorm we had here in Maine a week earlier. This was very bad timing all around, since Lea had a new book out last Tuesday, one day into the power outage. We only went twenty-four hours without power here in Western Maine, which gave me the time to read THREAD THE HALLS. Go out and buy it. It’s a great read.
Anyway, instead of Lea being here today, you get me, Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson, and Lea will be blogging next Thursday. As it happens, I have a new book coming out, too, although not until the end of the month. What I’d like to share with you is some background on the writing of that book, the eleventh Liss MacCrimmon Mystery, X MARKS THE SCOT. Lea actually had a hand in its gestation, as did fellow Maine Crime Writers Kate Flora and Barb Ross.
Back in June of 2016, the working title for the book was KILT, CLOAK, AND DAGGER. I’d started work on it but hadn’t gotten very far when the four of us got together for a writing retreat in a peaceful cottage on the coast of Maine. During the day, we each went off to our own little corner and wrote. In the evenings we talked shop, traded war stories, read bits and pieces of works in progress, and brainstormed ideas. In four days, I wrote over 10,000 words. That’s almost twice what I normally produce, and the best part is that they were pretty darned good words, too. And the setting? Let’s just say that when I needed to set one scene somewhere other than Moosetookalook, I didn’t have to look far for inspiration.
There was a lot more work to be done on my book, of course. In July, my editor suggested a new title, X MARKS THE SCOT. Later that month, I stopped at chapter fifteen (58,829 words) to reconsider the book’s ending and other plot points. As I usually do after making notes for changes, I took a little break from the project before going back to chapter one, but by mid-August the manuscript had hit 75,743 words (268 pages) in seventeen chapters. 75,000 words is the minimum required by my contract so I always breathe a sigh of relief when I hit that mark, even though I know there’s lots more to do. In fact, when I started revising after a month-long break, taken to give me some perspective on the writing, there were pages where every other word was changed to something else, sometimes several times.
That draft came in at 77,293 words in eighteen chapters. After some minor changes, I passed the manuscript on to my reader/husband for his input. I’ve had to rewrite large sections of previous books at this stage, so I don’t worry about him being biased in my favor. If something doesn’t make sense, he’s definitely going to tell me.
Once past the reader test with, thank goodness, only minor suggestions for changes, I started what I hoped would be the final read through/revision on November 2, 2016. Since the book was due on my new editor’s desk on the first of December, I was hoping I wouldn’t find anything major to fix and at the same time I was trying very hard to catch ALL those typos and spelling errors. Copy editors are great, and necessary, but if they find too many things I missed, it’s just plain embarrassing.
So, off it went attached to an email on the due date, and the long wait began. First the wait for approval. Then the wait for copy edits. Then the wait for page proofs. And then, finally, the wait for the book itself. To my pleased surprise, I was sent the cover art in mid January. That always makes a book seem more real.
Copy edits came in February, page proofs in late March, and in May I was sent a few Advance Reading Copies (made from page proofs before I corrected them). Now, in November, I’m almost at the point where I start looking for that box of author copies to land on my porch. This will be the fifty-seventh time I’ve experienced that first look at a freshly published book with my name on the cover, but it never gets old. My newest baby goes out into the big wide world on November twenty-eighth.
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime and Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. New in 2017 is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com