The Finishing Line

The finishing line is in sight. The research is all over. With any luck by day’s end I’ll have sent my editor From Beer to Eternity the first book in the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass mystery series. The series is set on the beach in the panhandle of Florida near the town of Destin. It releases in August 2020. I’ll confess this book has been a bear to write for a variety of reasons. A college friend did the shell art below.


Here’s what I’m going to do between now and when I hit send:

  1. Look for overused words. I’ve already started that process. The first word I checked was “nodded.” I quit counting when I got to thirty. Instead, I went through the manuscript and deleted as many as I could. I always picture this world full of bobbleheads sitting around bobbling away. Over the years I’ve learned not to use “just” and “that” very often so hopefully they won’t be a problem in this manuscript.
  2. I’ll look at the last sentence of each chapter to make sure it has a strong ending. I don’t believe each chapter has to end with a cliffhanger—because that would be exhausting for the reader, but it should end with something that makes the reader turn the next page.
  3. I’ll write the acknowledgements. I have so many people to thank for helping me with this book from a fireman to a children’s librarian to a former neighbor who knew about boats.
  4. I’ll read the beginning and end one last time. Is the opening compelling enough? Is the end satisfying? I love the ending and hope you will too.
  5. I’ll take one last look at the list of questions independent editor Barb Goffman gave me after editing the book to make sure I didn’t overlook anything.
  6. I’ll check to make sure there isn’t any fluff that doesn’t advance the story.
  7. There’s one scene that I’m still not quite satisfied with so I’ll give it a final polish.
  8. One more check of the timeline won’t hurt either. I have a chart, but I always worry that I somehow skipped a day.
  9. Oh, heck. I’ll probably reread the action scenes again too.
  10. I’ll do a quick review of character descriptions. I tend not to do a lot of description so I want to make sure there’s enough there so readers can picture someone in their heads.

And then I’ll finally, finally let it go—hoping I’ve done enough. That its intriguing and funny. That I’ve breathed life into Chloe and the people who surround her. Then I’ll be done wrestling with the editor in my head who likes to say things like “you can’t do this.” I’ll hit send and tell that editor, “Yes, I can.”

Readers: What do you do before finishing a project? How do you celebrate?

43 Thoughts

  1. Congrats on your new book, Sherry! It sounds like you have all the bases covered. I’ll be looking forward to when it releases.

  2. Timelines are a bear, even when I keep a spreadsheet. I swear that in one book a managed to skip a whole day and it was too late to change it, so I said something like “On Thursday absolutely nothing happened, and (Protagonist) was grateful.”

  3. My final-day-before-sending process is very much like yours. As for overused words, I swear I break myself of the ones from the previous book and come up with a whole new set EVERY TIME.

  4. Good editing advice for any novelist. I never thought of specifically seeking out overused words, just figured I’d notice and exchange as I went though rewrites

  5. Thanks for sharing your ending process. That attention to all the bits and bobbles shows so clearly why your books are so much fun to read, with nary a plot line askew. Looking forward to meeting Chloe. 🙂

  6. My final list looks a lot like yours, Sherry. And yes, it seems like every time I break myself of overusing one word, I pick up another one. Sigh.

  7. Your careful editing process clearly works because you turn out such great books. I wish everyone was so meticulous. It’s great fun feeling as if I’ve been through the whole process with you as you give us updates on your progress.

    With whatever project I’m working on, I checked and rechecked every detail over and over. It’s always hard to say enough is enough. I mostly just sleep a lot when I’m finished! 🙂

  8. You’re going to do all that today? I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

  9. That sounds like a long to do list. And you’ll finish in a day? I’m impressed.

    And tell your editor you can do this. I said so.

  10. I’m so excited to get this new series into my hands! Whooo hooo! I hope you add another item to your To Do list – celebrate!!

  11. Congratulations!! Can’t wait!! I’m terrible with timelines. In my new WIP, I never even mention specific days or time periods. It’s like, “Why don’t you come to the opening?” Could be in ten years. Could be tomorrow, lol.

  12. I printed this one out, Sherry! I’m finishing Book #10 right now and know without looking that there are too many nods and thats. Maybe justs too.

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