editing, proofreading, and formatting

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In August, Carry Me Home received it’s final, full, deep editing.

This came after three weeks with the wonderful Margie Lawson from Denver, and her dear husband, Tom, who visited with us to run two Deep Editing Immersions and attend the RWAust conference in Melbourne.

Armed with the trusty Margie Lawson highlighting arsenal, I took my manuscript apart, page by page.

 

Each scene, each sentence, each word went through the refining fire of ruthless editing. A process which took close to a month to complete.

When I was done, I didn’t want to see a fluro marker or the story again. (Yes, this happens. It’s an author thing. We do recover but there are times we never want to look at the multi-highlighted pages EVER AGAIN.)

Thankfully, the fabulous Rel Mollet was on on hand to proofread one last time before Carry Me Home went off to the experts in Bangkok for print version and digital formatting.

 

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The editing process…delete, swap, add.

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One week into the final editing and the sticky notes were stacking up!

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Two weeks into editing… and I was running out of sticky notes.

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Week three… and that could possibly be blood on the title page.

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Done! Highlighted, annotated… now to apply to the version on my laptop!

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Printed… ready for Rel Mollet to proofread once last time.

carry me home ~ pinterest board

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For years I’ve collected reference materials to feed my addiction to all things yesteryear ~ thrift shops being the best hunting ground.

I’ve brought home the inspiration for many stories, still to be written, but the delicious details remain on my shelf for that day when I’ll spin that tale.

In recent times, I’ve added pictures to my collection of words.

Pictures which capture mood, flavour, anticipation, and, most importantly for a novel set in Australia, setting.

I keep these pictures on a Pinterest board, aptly named… Carry Me Home.

It’s my little stash of how I imagine this story might look.

You’ll see, Shadrach, Finella, Molly, and their home.

Parts of Phillip Island. Their farm and belongings.

The tokens which meant something to them.

This visual representation of my story came together after I’d written it. A helpful aid in the editing process when I wanted to sink deeper into my story.

Now it’s your turn.

Come see what I added to the Carry Me Home ~ Pinterest Board.

Which picture catches your eye?

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Dotti 

 

Local History Checks ~ Carry Me Home

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Details mean everything to the historical author.

It’s the life threads of another time which draw us and that’s what we want to share with our readers.

So it’s paramount this deliciousness is woven alongside the imagined in a way which keeps the reader believing.

Much of my historical inspiration has come from journals, old letters, newspaper archives, cookbooks, and historical records of island life in it’s infancy.

I thought I had the details sorted when I finished writing Carry Me Home. But I knew I couldn’t trust my information gathering alone.

So I reached out to the good people at the Phillip Island Historical Society. Two of their members agreed to read my manuscript for historical and local accuracy.

This was the first time I’d seen my story on paper. It had survived many rounds with critique partners and editors, but now it headed off, printed and all cosy in polka dot boxes, for those who cherished island history more than I ever could ~ the descendants of Phillip Island’s pioneers and early settlers.

I thoroughly enjoyed receiving their feedback. Who knew the marram grass I thought belonged on the island in 1874, had not been planted until 1910? I learned the better option was spinifex, and so I went with that. Cool word. Spinifex.

On all local matters, I deferred to the experts. Where there was a general issue with historical accuracy, I returned to my desk to research further.

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While the use of mum might sound too modern for the 1870s, I found it commonly used as early as 1835, and the word pester appears in literature dating back to 1588. And did you know the phrase, if the shoe fits, wear it… dates back to 1705, and the very modern sounding, I guess, was used by Shakespeare and Charels Dickens?

Double checking to keep a word or phrase, or delete it, brings some satisfaction. I know I’ll never get it all right, but I won’t leave any questions marks unanswered, either. It must be in the nature of a history nerd. I need to know for myself if my word choices fit the time. Anachronisms bother me as a reader, so the writer in me works extra hard to make sure there are none to trouble my audience.

I’m so grateful I had the assistance of the Historical Society members on this manuscript. Their fresh eyes picked up typos and simple errors, too.

And when I collected my polka dot boxes, minus the chocolate reward I’d stuffed in there, I was ready for another round of edits and revisions. This time, armed with something solid. This was not just a love story, anymore. The historical scaffolding on which it draped had been checked by those who knew best. And I reclaimed my absolute favourite combination, the wonderful weight of history and romance… and took it home where I could polish it some more.

“We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiralling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.” Shirley Abbot

 

Carry Me Home Cover Design

In May, cover photography for Carry Me Home was handed over to the fabulous Kelli Standish of Pulse Point Design. Armed with the book blurb, Kelli began the long process of finding just the right look for our heroine, Finella Mayfield. Many revisions later we decided to look to photoshop to tweak the final outcome.

You won’t see it until next year, but the photography for book 2, Carry Me Away, is so beautiful we wanted to keep Sophie’s face for that heroine, and so began the search for Finella.

Those who know Sophie, will immediately pick what you see in the Carry Me Home front cover is my Honey-Girl from the neck down. The back cover image is of Sophie in full.

We tucked hair up, let hair down, faced dear Finella forward, away from the camera, played with fonts, and even erased toes which needed to disappear from view.. and the final thrilling cover appeared.

Around this time, some of the nicest people I know were asked to read Carry Me Home for endorsement. Siri Mitchell, Sarah Sundin and Joanne Bischof blessed me beyond imagination with their reader delight. And so we added some of Sarah’s words on the front cover.

But there was SO much work required between the covers, and I’ll be back on Monday with more of how Carry Me Home came together.

Have a great weekend, dear friends…  happy reading,

Dotti

 

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Cary Me Home ~ Full Wrap Cover (For Print Copies)

 

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The evolution of a cover ~ side by side.

The Costume Hunt

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Petticoats and Frills

So, I had a story.

And I’d decided to share it with my readers. Off it went for critical sessions with some of the best critique partners a girl could asked for. Back and forth, revisions and blood letting and more blood letting, until Carry Me Home was ready for big the guns ~ a hired editor.

While the book sat among her well sharpened knives, I turned my attention to that all consuming, non writing task… the book cover!

For as long as I could remember, I’d dreamed my own Honey-girl would model for the Carry Me Home cover photography. And once I’d booked the photographer, I knew I wanted to shoot all three Blue Wren Shallows covers on the same day. With said Honey-girl.

This meant hunting down all the costumes for the entire Blue Wren Shallows books series. And who better than to hunt alongside me, than Rel Mollet herself.

We headed off to Melbourne’s premier historical costume hiring warehouse, The Costume Factory, and rummaged through what felt like acres of exquisite costumery. One rack held all the costumes used in Heath Ledger’s Ned Kelly movie.

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Acres of Costumes

 

Right era… but nothing grabbed us for Finella, or our other heroines.

Each hanger sagged with not only the richness of upholstery fabrics used for their exquisite stage sway, but extra weights in the hems.

Soon, we found our arm muscles flexing more than we were used to.

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Rel made me!

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She started it!

That’s our excuse for giving into the giddiness that miles of dress-ups bring, even to the most grown-up.

By day’s end, we’d found a great selection and the following week, Honey-girl and I returned for a fitting.

When we’d decide on dresses, we added shawls, petticoats and bustles, shoes and even a wig. The ensemble was wrapped in plastic, the wig went into a bucket for easy transportation, and we were set for a day of photography on location, at the beaches of Phillip Island.

All we needed was good weather.

Not much wind, please.

The right light and NO RAIN.

And if you know Phillip Island, you’ll know this was some order. Tomorrow, I’ll share how that all played out!

 

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Honey-girl, dressed in yesteryear… not letting go of the modern day

 

 

Dotti

Why Phillip Island?

Many hIMG_3807ave asked how Carry Me Home came to be written. And why I set this love story on Phillip Island.

The better question would be… How could I not?

Phillip Island has been our family holiday destination for more than 40 years. Many of my childhood memories are of summers on the island and as soon as my own babies were able to sit up, they dipped straight into the Ventnor rock pools.

This majestic volcanic outcrop, surrounded by picture perfect coastline, has charmed many over the centuries. Some years ago, a newspaper tribute captured some of the stories of the early island settlers. It included old photographs which only hinted at how life might have looked for those who chose to make Phillip Island their new home.

I already had the love. And so began the wonder.

I wondered what it would have been like to live on this remote island in its first decade of white settlement. How would people have arrived (without the bridge which now connects it to the mainland at San Remo)? What difficulties would they have faced in creating a new life? What comforts would they have enjoyed… or longed for?

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I  wondered… who would choose to come here?

And so I created one character, Shadrach Jones, who chose for himself. And then I added Finella Mayfield, for whom the choice had already been made by her father. I threw these two already troubled souls into each other’s midst, and watched how the wild weather, isolated location, and general mischief of life overturned their plans and dreams.

And when I was done, I discovered it was not enough to stop with Shad and Finella. So much more of the island’s delicous history beckoned.

So I find myself gladly marooned there, still … working on the next two books in the Blue Wren Shallows series.

I am a happy castaway. Not just on this island, but trapped in a time I can only dream into existence.

That’s where you’ll find me. Sifting through the remnants of lives once lived. Taking inspiration from those who pioneered a hard yet satisfying life, and fleshing out those who my imagination suggests might have walked among them.

Dotti