4 days, for the record

Well, well! Who knew! *Fourteen* of you are either Wendy Ward graduates, drop outs, or wanna be's! And that's the fourteen who wrote me. There are more of you out there, I'm sure....

How funny to strike a chord with a mention of Wendy Ward. Oh, how I wanted to attend the Wendy Ward Charm School when I was a kid, at the Montgomery Ward store at Iverson Mall in Marlow Heights.

But hey -- did you take ballroom dancing lessons? I was 14, my brother was 13 (or were we 15 and 14?) -- at any rate, we took ballroom dancing lessons one summer, and learned to fox trot, tango, waltz, box step, and cha cha. We danced some sort of made-up version of cool partner dancing at school dances, and impressed (so we thought) other kids. Who also took those dance lessons. Did you?

Charm school and dance lessons figure into Fallout. (Still feels funny to call it Fallout, but this will become second nature soon enough. I called Each Little Bird that Sings "the Comfort book" or even just "Comfort" for so long until it had a proper name, right down to the wire.)

I napped late yesterday and went back to work after supper. Turned in at 4am, after getting through the entire manuscript, all 344 pages. However, not all queries are answered. I marked the ones I need to go back to, and will. But not today.

Today is for beginning from the beginning and doing a read-through, with the queries in mind (keeping me company on the right hand side of the page), but reading mostly for flow and content. Snipping what doesn't need to be there. Tightening. It's a matter of removing a word or two or sometimes complete sentences, thoughts, because they are redundant or don't need to be there. Selecting the best verbs to say exactly what I want to say. Being clear. And... I hope... finding the poetry in my prose.

I've done some of this with the queries as I discovered that removing the queried phrase (or a word in it) would satisfy the copy-editor's question, and would also strengthen the passage -- so begins a delicate dance.

Some of last night's queries:

Would laser beam have been in common parlance in 1962? The copy editor included her research. I researched old movies, including The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) -- remember that laser beam that Gort, the robot, shoots at the military when he's protecting Klaatu? The Man with the X-Ray Eyes -- remember that? It haunted me for years (1963, so too late for Franny). Remember Goldfinger? Sean Connery about to be sliced from crotch to crown with a laser beam? Too late: 1964. Still... I think yes to laser beam. Klaatu barada nikto! What do you think?

Correct order of lyrics to Brian Hyland's "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"? I listened to this at 2am. Got it. Still, I don't mind transposing verses to get the effect I want within the narrative... but if we get permission to use the record sleeve, then let's use the verses in order.

Cannot confirm this extract. Please confirm and provide source so it can be styled. There's still lots of this. Most sources I have. Some I don't... and need to decide what to do about that. I need the source or I need to switch to a sourced quote. Or delete.

"Serial killer" is probably anachronistic. How about "ax murderer"?

Okay as is? "Whom" is correct but too formal for Franny.

And how about this:

Cannot verify that this is a real book. Please confirm. The name of the book: The Arrow Book of Secret Codes. Is it real, readers? :>

Many queries surrounded my use of the text from the Duck and Cover public service announcements (the one using Bert the Turtle). Here it is, in its 9-minute entirety (stills and the film are in the public domain), if you haven't seen it. If you listen to the words, you realize how chilling it must have been for Franny to see this film in school the day after Kennedy's Oct. 22, 1962 speech to the nation.
Paul and Patty... are always ready to take care of themselves. Here they are on their way to school on a beautiful spring day. But no matter where they go or what they do, they always try to remember what to do if the atom bomb explodes right then. "It's a bomb! Duck and cover!" Paul and Patty know what to do.

I know what to do, too. Lunch. With my husband. At the Rainbow Grocery. Then... back to the pink chair for an afternoon's reading and shaping.

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