It must have seemed like my husband’s writing project had moved to the back burner, but since July 17th, Jimmie has powered through to finished the first draft of his book, an event I had the lack of grace to acknowledge with a bouquet of flowers, or a box of See’s Candy.


Instead, I started fussing about the editing process and how to do the index. Really, Els? I’m lucky he’s still my best friend.

I have learned so much about indices. It’s true that you can learn how to do anything on the internet. I have in this month alone learned how to order parts to repair my vacuum cleaner, my lamps, make a chicken tetrazzini, and how to build an index. Our forefathers and mothers may have had more grit, but I bet they didn’t know how to repair a Dyson vacuum cleaner while they made a cheesy casserole. And no, I’m not speaking metaphorically.IMG_6718

And now, I know how to make an index. Just select the name, highlight it, pull down from Insert the “Index and Tables,” click on Mark Entry and then hit Mark all. Then every time you encounter that name again, you can see it’s been marked for your index. Scroll to the end of the book to the index, right click and select “update field” and the index populates in beautiful alphabetical order. It is a magical thing.

Er. Wait. My index is now alphabetical by first name, not last. Oops. I guess I didn’t learn everything from the video. I did learn however just now the right word to use for the plural of index. Always indices unless you are using it as a verb, as in “Els indexes all her husband’s books.” See what I mean? And yes, you salivating hordes, the casserole was delish.

There are so many things I don’t yet know about in the field of publishing. First, are you allowed to send your submission out to multiple people at once? I assume you must have to because otherwise you’d wither and perish before you ever got a book published. And remember, we have a really tight deadline of December 1st.

But what if I triggered a bidding war on Jimmie’s book by sending it to multiple publishers? Jimmie and I have already decided that we will take the several hundred thousands he makes from book sales and put it in a college fund for our granddaughter, Skylar. (Bad news, Skylar, you may be going to Podunk U.)

Second, do writers really wrap up their books in manila envelopes and drop them into the mailbox like Jimmy Stewart, the undernourished bathrobe clad writer in ComeLiveWithMeCome Live With Me did? Come to think of it, I think I’ve always looked a little like Hedy Lamarr. And Jimmie does sometimes write in his bathrobe….

I always thought writers mailed off their manuscripts like that until I went to the post office yesterday with two copies of Jimmie’s book, along with the charming letters that accompanied the manuscripts and the necessary self addressed stamped envelope. Here’s what I learned since it’s all about the learning these days.

The book weighed 16 oz. and you can’t drop an envelope (even with the correct postage on it) that weighs more than 13 oz. into a mailbox. You have to hand it to a clerk. This helpful clerk, Audrey, informed me of that. I thought, surely publishers deal with this every day. Jimmie’s book isn’t a hefty tome like they receive and reject frequently. And besides, there must be some eager young literary life liver wannabe who takes the rejected SASEs to the post office once every few days. They won’t just toss it in the mailbox. And, I thought, giggling into my sleeve, if they did, it would come back to us anyway because the return address is the same as the recipient’s address! I’ve got it all figured out. Do people submit books on thumb drives? Much easier to mail and get mailed back. Hmmm. So many questions!

This literary business is hard work. Glad I can do it for someone else besides me. I can figure it all out for later when I actually have something to write about.

Then, Audrey had the keen idea of saving me forty cents by unwrapping the book from the manila envelope and putting it in one of those white postal envelopes. This was easier said than done, which provided us time to talk about good books we are reading and how people who read live longer. You saw that study, right? You can live 23 months longer just by reading 3.5 hours a week. Audrey got the packages all set and off went two envelopes – one to the Library of Congress Copyright registry, and one to a potential publisher. Cross your fingers!

I’m so proud of Jimmie and the work he’s put in on the book in the last few weeks. I know there’s still work to be done, but this is an extra special moment. Even our granddaughter Skylar thinks so. She got dressed up for the occasion. She is very proud of her Grandpa Jimmie. As am I.IMG_6754



4 thoughts

  1. Dearest Els, Next time I write a book I’m coming to you to index it!! AFTER I have a bite of your mouth watering Chicken tetrazzini!!!! such fun!!! keeping my ingers and toenails crossed… (I don’t have to go to the post office today!!!!) lol Renie

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