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This is a first!

This is the first time that I’ve received proofs for my soon-to-be-published book. For all you future authors out there: if your first book is “orphaned”, that is, the editor who bought the manuscript does a runner from the publishing house and nobody there wants to take responsibility for your pitiful life’s work, you will not be given this courtesy of having your production editor mail you proofs.

But luckily, my Damn France Book, Le Road Trip, has a wonderful and caring editor who is ever watchful and ever considerate, and has included me in on this phase of production — I was sent the proofs!

I was so excited to see what those mangy, crummy, scruffy patched-up sheets of paper that I called a “manuscript” look like when they are all spiffy and made presentable for print!

The proofs are on the same quality of paper that will be used for the book itself, so I can get a good look at how the art work will print.

Suddenly, all those homely hand-made pasted-up sheets of paper look dignified, presented in (almost) end product form.

Each sheet of proof paper holds two pages of text in numerical order. This happens to be pages six and  seven. I’m supposed to look each page over and let my production editor know if the color saturation and contrast in up to snuff.

What power! Like I said, this didn’t happen for my first book, so I am thrilled to get this first peek at what Le Road Trip will look like when it’s ready for you, dear readers.

But wait, there’s more.

Last Friday Top Cat called me at work and said, “Let’s pack a picnic dinner and a bottle of Bordeaux and go to Morgan Park and watch the sun set tonight.” That’s the kind of call that a person dearly wants to hear after a long week of work.

So he has the hamper ready when I pull into the driveway, and we bundle up our picnic quilt and our special camouflage wine glasses (it’s actually against the law to drink wine in a public park on the North Shore of Long Island) and we traipse off the the beautiful shore of the beautiful Long Island Sound.

And as we are hauling ourselves from the parking lot to the lush lawns of Morgan Park, I say to Top Cat, “I’m putting out a request to the Universe for a Blue Jay feather tonight, so keep a look out.”

And, not a half minute later, Top Cat says to me, “Oh, here it is.”

That’s the Blue Jay feather that Top Cat almost stepped on, on our way to our picnic dinner. (That’s T.C. in the background, with the picnic hamper.)

I was ecstatic, of course. And I must have said something like, “More! More! I want more Blue Jay feathers! This is a Blue Jay feather goldmine!!” because I remember that Top Cat wanted to calm me down by saying, “Sweetie, come on, what are the chances that lightning will strike twice?”

And then he said, “Oh. Never mind.”

That’s one of the best things about my Top Cat. His magic is strong.

(That’s Top Cat in the background, and that’s where we spread out our picnic quilt and set out our Brie (yes, there was Brie) and dinner and Bordeaux.)

And it was the best picnic dinner we’ve had all Summer. Ther’s nothing like an End of Summer picnic dinner — and on the North Shore of the Long Island Sound we had this whole coastline all to ourselves.

And when the sun got very, very, very low on the horizon, flocks of seagulls started to whirl past us, flying in crazy whirling formations in the glitter of the last rays of the sun, each bird catching just enough of the light to flicker like a golden-rose twinkle of seagull spirit.

I tried to catch the birds en masse.

All I could get was one lone bird.

But you get the idea.

And as the last SkiDooer motored in to port in the last light of day, me and Top Cat were grateful that most of the 20 million people who live within a 20-mile radius of our picnic paradise decided to stay home and watch Entertainment Tonight than come out and watch the sunset.


My little sister, Amy Ujiji Swift, arrive safely in Kabul, Afghanistan last week. She reports that the colony of feral cats in her compound of high-ranking civil servants on loan to the Afghan Gov’t look fat, dumb, and happy (just how we in the Swift clan like our “feral” cats). Whew. So in case you were worried that there wasn’t anyone putting out vats of Fancy Feast for the felines of Kabul, rest assured that Amy U. Swift is on the job.


In the first of a series of Pictures That Make Us Happy, I have to start with a picture that was sent to me (like, an hour after I posted my request for Pictures That Make You Happy) by reader Lorraine.

Trust me. This will make you all very, very, happy:

Lorraine says these cats were all auditioning for a role in a movie (she doesn’t know which movie) in the early 1960s.

I think I once had a dream kind of like this.

But this just goes to show you. Real life is far, far more weirder and wonderful than any dream.

Thank you, Lorriane, for making us all happy to be alive in a world where movies, and people, and cats, and that guy in the far background who can’t resist petting some fetching kitty all exist in harmony.

Have a Great Weekend.

(See you here next Friday, with pictures from our cat whisperer in Kabul.)

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