When at long last your book galleys arrive, you think: Hooray, it’s done! But the dear wee book is never done. Though you’re bleary with rewrites, you are profoundly motivated to get the book out the door, so you fine-tooth-comb-it through every single page, studying spacing, hyphenation (Ste-phen?! Not good.), quotation marks (which show up backwards after ellipses), capitalization,
paragraph indents, extra line breaks, italics, and the proverbial widows and orphans.
Widow: the first line of a paragraph appears alone at the bottom of a page.
Orphan: the last line of a paragraph appears alone at the top of a page.
These look odd and are to be avoided. (I just learned these definitions on Ehow! When I was proofreading my book, I thought I was looking for single lines at the top of an otherwise empty page. And we’ve already sent in the galleys. Arghh. As I said, the wee book ain’t never done!)
Unless you have nerves of titanium, you also cannot resist making a hundred or so tiny changes that you just know will make the book irresistible. Add to this sleepless nights from note-taking at four A.M. for those final final details—check the spelling of Vere’s maiden name, what would a 1,200 mile train fare be in 1875, when did the Curlew Valley herds change from sheep to cattle, was “butt” a word back then!?
I quote, “Butt: In sense of 'human posterior' it is recorded from mid-15c.” Oh, how I LOVE the Online Etymology Dictionary. It’s a historical writer’s best friend. I have used it several thousand times while writing Tributary. I want to send them a cheesecake.
Thanks to Denver novelist Veronica Breville for the cute photo of the tail-chasing dog.