I’m one of those people who enjoy revising. That’s a good thing, because in the ordinary run of things, an author must revise a lot.

My drafts tend to be pretty rough, following more or less the story line. They have to be worked over almost paragraph by paragraph, frequently several times. In the past I’ve had readers of the chapters (who never received anything but my best shot), and their reactions then meant another revision. And, when a book is done, a final revision of the whole thing is necessary before it is turned over to agent and publisher (in case there are repetitions or the clues don’t work, or the time frame, or I neglected to fix name changes). I’m told I turn in a “very clean copy.”

Editors at the big houses do not always edit, but I’m very lucky in that I have an editor now who does and who loves the books. This is all the more amazing because she isn’t the one who acquired the series originally. Besides, titles are bought for their marketability and not because an editor loved the book. And she is a great editor, someone who is easy to work with and who is sensitive to the author’s intentions.

So I’ve been enjoying myself, editing one more time (the last time) my next Akitada novel. I see from an old folder that I worked on this book in 2002. That means that I returned to it with fresh eyes. And behold: I love this book! This is the first time I’ve ever felt this way during the final revision process. Usually I do a certain amount of cringing.

It’s new title is THE CONVICT’S SWORD. I assume the original THIS FLEETING LIFE was a tad too literary for the publisher. I was perfectly willing to change it – partially because the French (who’ve done very well by me in terms of promotion) like to start all the novels with “L’Enigme de . . .” – the riddle or puzzle of . . ..

THE CONVICT’S SWORD is number 6 in the series and scheduled for a July 2009 release. My feeling is that if this book doesn’t make people sit up and take notice, nothing will. I don’t think I can do better.

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