Sunday, September 20, 2009

’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house . . .

The last of summer’s tomatoes are dribbling in and last week I made ketchup.  Nothing to it, right?  Just stew down the tomatoes, sieve out the seeds and skins, add a little vinegar and seasonings and there you are, right?


It’s very hard to make something you don’t like as much as I don’t like ketchup.  Even harder is trying to correct the seasonings on something hot that’s supposed to be eaten cold.  Very difficult to judge if everything's in the right proportion.

And what does making ketchup have to do with Christmas?

Ever since May, through the heat of June, July, and August, I’ve had to immerse myself in thoughts of December’s chill while sweltering under a summer sun, to picture sleet storms and icy winds while wilting in front of a fan, to think of carols and fruit cake while beach music is playing and hot dogs are cooking on the grill—in short, trying to write a Christmas book in summer is very much like making ketchup when you’re not sure how it’s supposed to taste.

If all goes well, Christmas Mourning, the sixteenth Deborah Knott novel, will be out next August and it will feel like a traditional holiday book.  It’s set in Colleton County again and I’ve spent the last week tweaking and polishing and adding a few scenes.  To further confuse me though, Sand Sharks, came out last month.  This means that while one part of my brain was immersed in Christmas, the other part had to focus on the beach, the heat, and the judges’ summer conference that Deborah was attending because I’m still giving readings and signing this book.

After I finish the rewrite on CM, my editors will send it to a copy editor, who checks for spelling and punctuation and consistency (someone who’s been charged with blowing a point-ten in Chapter 3 should not be pleading guilty to blowing a point-twelve in Chapter 6, nor should a character with blue eyes have brown eyes forty pages later.)    


I figure this book should be whipped into shape right around Halloween.  Just in time to start planning for Christmas.  Pass the ketchup, please.  Oops! I mean the cranberry sauce.

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