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As many of my readers know, I have spent the past six weeks with the keyboard glued to my fingers, my red-rimmed eyes dueling with the dots on the monitor. Some might translate this to a form of medieval torture. But for me it has been a period of near-nirvana. Stealing a phrase from my friend, Charles, over at Mostly Bright Ideas, who knew? Who knew that bumping against 60, I would finally discover what I wanted to be when I grew up? Who knew that I could so lose myself in someone else’s text, that I would leap from bed at 5:30AM and dive into an editing project, break for a quick lunch at 2PM, and return to intimacy with my laptop till hunger once again drove me to the kitchen at 8:30PM?

Where do I  begin to describe the exquisite responsibility of being given a manuscript that has taken its author years—perhaps a lifetime, to set down on paper? And when that author announces that you, as editor, have carte blanche to do as you see fit to get the story published—it feels like a patient signing over permission to the heart surgeon. My life is in your hands. I trust you.

More miraculous yet, I was handed two manuscripts nearly simultaneously by two authors, both of whom hoped to be self-published within two months. Could I do this, I wondered? I felt reasonably confident about my editing skills, but these jobs also included formatting and uploading to various e-book platforms as well as a print-on-demand platform. I am NOT a technology whiz. I was nervous.

I dove into my twin projects like a Derby colt bursting from the gate. The first manuscript to reach my hard drive received my undivided attention for several days, long enough to have a couple of chapters’ worth of comments and suggestions ready for approval by the author. While author number one struggled with her own computer and health issues, I attacked the second manuscript. It went like this for about four weeks, me juggling corrections, suggestions, and questions for one project while I awaited feedback from the other project.

Both of my dear authors went through moments of agony, self-doubt, and frustration typical to writers the world-over. They poured their hearts out to me, wailing with insecurity and fear. I began to see my role as more than wordsmithing. I became a coach, a calming voice, a pair of ears for thinking-out-loud. I felt like a doula or a midwife. A lifetime of living had coalesced in these stories. The respective narratives had lived inside my authors, driving them forward, demanding a voice, demanding life. And now those stories were crowning, ready to burst forth and announce themselves to the world. They just needed a steady hand and a craftsman’s gentle polishing to slap them into the big wide world.

One of my authors received excellent advice from Kate Riley, a local author, teacher, and story consultant with far greater credentials that I. Bob gulped because Kate’s excellent suggestion would require a two-month delay in the publication date for his book. I tried not to appear too gleeful, but this was just the break I needed. My one-tracked mind really likes to finish one thing at a time. So I am happy to say that phase one of the first manuscript is complete. Hotfooting it Across Mexico, by kd Grace is now available on CreateSpace and Amazon.com with a Kindle download not far behind. Hopefully the final step will be a Nook download.  Proceeds from the book will be donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

I am immensely proud of kd’s accomplishment, completed between flare-ups of a disease which has hounded her throughout most of her life. I hope that I haven’t polished the energy and determination out of this amazing woman’s prose. She has a unique way of looking at and living life and a unique way of telling a story. I pray that I did just enough and not a speck more to ensure that the book is as delightful to read as it is delightful to listen to kd’s stories.

And now I’m going to stick my neck out. I considered doing this on Twitter, but practicality won out. I am offering my readers the opportunity to find the typo in this book. Once you locate said typo (please, God, let there be only one), comment back to me with the chapter title in which the typo occurred and the sentence in which you found it. The first person to find said typo (s) will receive a refund equal to the cost of the book plus shipping.

I hope you enjoy the story despite the typo(s).