First reading of Jackson Speed in the Rush gets a couple of tears

Not only is she my first reader, but Jean will also sometimes model books for me when first editions show up.

I am feverishly working on the final edits for the next Jackson Speed novel with the hope that it can be done and published in time for my friend Chris to read it on his vacation the first part of June.

If there has ever been any question about whether or not I love my readers, let this put all rumors to the contrary to rest. I am staying up until midnight night after night after night to be sure that Chris’s vacation has some Jackson Speed in it.

The “final edits” process looks like this: I read over every word and try to catch any last type-o’s, any continuity issues that were missed in previous edits, or anything that just sits funny with me (there are two scenes in El Teneria that still make me cringe when I wonder why I didn’t edit those out).

During “final edits,” I simultaneously give the book to my wife and ask her to read through it.

If you follow this blog, you know that Jean is my first reader, and I put tremendous value in her opinion of my books.

So this is what was going on in our house last night. I was final editing, and Jean was first reading.

If you’re a fan of Jackson Speed, you know these are not weighty books. I try to keep them historically accurate, full of action and satire, and entertaining to read. But periodically I’ll throw in some really terrible stuff because we are, after all, talking about a rough period of American history. My books are full of characters who die. I think of the final chapter of Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs, where Speed is on the battlefield at Fredericksburg and is standing over a dying Yankee soldier. It’s a poignant moment. And while the books are not weighty, there are certainly scenes that get heavier than others.

So last night Jean read through one of those heavier scenes.

And it made her cry.

She wasn’t bawling. She didn’t have snot coming out of her nose. But she had a couple of little tears she was willing to shed over a scene in the book.

That’s what I’m looking for. That’s why I put the book in Jean’s hand and watch her while she reads. If she cries when I want her to cry and laughs when I want her to laugh or shakes her head in disgust as Jackson Speed crawls into yet another woman’s bed, then it’s all a good gauge to me that I’m doing my job as a storyteller.

I don’t expect everyone to tear up while reading this book. It’s a fact about Jean that she’ll cry while watching Hallmark or Folger’s commercials. But for the average reader, there might be a scene or two that make you wonder if the room has suddenly gotten a little dusty.

So Chris need not worry that Ol’ Speedy is going to ruin his vacation with a lot of tear-jerking, but if my first reader’s reactions are a fair representation of the book, then I think I’ve done my job.

This one tops 100,000 words, so it’s a bigger book than all the other (except High Tide) and really it should feel like two stories for the price of one.

I’m excited for you to read it!

Now … back to editing before Chris gets his suitcases packed!

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