My Editor, Jenny Lynn

        Here’ s where I am on my book.  Several Publishers have shown significant interest.  A couple of them said with the right editor they would like to sit down with my agent for some serious discussion.  One day my agent called.

        “Bibey, it’s time to put out feelers for an editor.  You O.K. with that?”

        “Sounds good to me boss.  I figure if Dr. Robert Morgan needs Shannon Ravenel, then I don’t know how much help Tommy Bibey needs.  The only editor I know is Charles down at the Harvey Herald.”

       “No, you need a fiction editor.”

        “I wouldn’t know where to start.”

         “I do.  Give me the green light and I’ll round up the usual suspects.”

        “Go at  it.  Which one do I need to get?”

        “We’ll narrow down to two or three, then you’re on your own.  It’ll have to be the one you think you mix with the best.”

        “How will I know?  I’ve never written a book before.”

        “You’ll know when you get there.”

        Once he got it down to ten he thought might be a fit, we began to go over his list.  They were all good.  We made a couple more cuts and got it down to three.  “Here are the phone numbers,” he said.  “You’re on your own.”   

         To be honest, every one of them knew one heck of a lot more about writing than I do.  I’m certain any one of the the last three were better editors than I am a writer, and all would be fine.  What to do?  I got to the last one.  ‘Jenny Lynn.’  Hm.  At least it was a bluegrass name.

        I called.  I was as nervous as the day I called Ms. Marfar to ask her out for our first date.  “Ms.  Pseudonym?”  (I promised I’d not tell her last name until the book was famous, which means the two of us will likely languish in Literary obscurity.)  “This is Tommy Bibey.  How are you?”

         “Fine.  I’ve been expecting your call.”

         “Oh, I’m sorry.  I ran a bit behind.  The last lady was really nice.”

         “I liked your manuscript.  Charming.”

          “Uh…charming…er..uh…me?  Ma’am, this is Tommy Bibey.  You sure you got the right draft?”

        “Sure I’m sure.  Harvey County.  Fell in love with it.  Not that you don’t need a lot of work, but I think it has potential.”

         “Well thank you, ma’am. ”

         “You don’t have to call me ma’am.”

        “Yes, ma’am.”

        She sighed.  “So how do you feel I can help you as a writer?”

        “Well, Ms.  P…”

        “Tommy, for heaven’s sake.  Call me Jenny.  I’m just barely old enough to be your big sister.”

       “Uh, O.K. Jenny.  It’s just my mama taught me to treat women with respect, and not to call them by their first name till they said to do so.”

        She sighed again.  “O.K.  But it’s Jenny.”

        “Yes ma’am.  Well, it’s like this.  I know exactly what I got going on in my head, and I’m doing everything I can to download it to paper so my readers can see what it’s like to be a country Doctor.  I need for you to tell me where I’ve failed to do that.”

         “Good.  That’s my job.  I want to make your voice stronger, not strangle it.”

        “Are you O.K. with bluegrass?”

         “My name is Jenny Lynn.  Of course I am.  Why do you ask?”

         “One of our potential editors wanted to change my music to Chopin and make a Broadway play of it.  I’m very eclectic, and I like classical, but I think my readers are gonna want to hear bluegrass.  If I show up at a book store with a mandolin strung around my neck and play Chopin I’m not sure how they’ll take to it.”

         “Chopin?  You tell George the only Chopin you’re gonna do is a Bill Munroe chord.”

         Dang.  This lady was good.  “How did you know it was George?”

        “Look, Bibey.  All us editors circle in a tight orbit.  That’s got George written all over it.  He just doesn’t want to be outdone by what he sees as a bunch of hillbillies.  He did a Bach book and it only sold three thousand copies.”

         “Gee that’s a shame.  Bach was good.  Hm.  I wish I’d a known.  Wayne Benson coulda helped him out.  Say, how did you know of Monroe?”

         “Bibey!  I’m Jenny Lynn.  Remember?  And I love horses.  All of us bluegrass people like horses.”

        “Hm.  I guess so.  Tell me a Bill Monroe song about a horse race.”

        “Molly and Tenbrooks.”  She said it without a hint of hesitation.  I was impressed.

        “Bill always had a farm.  What was his favorite horse’s name?

        “King Wilke.” 

        Dang.   “Well, Ms. Jenny.  You know your business.  I promised my agent I’d call him before I made any final decisions.”

         “Sure.  That’s fine.  Here’s my e-mail.”

         I hung up and called my man.  “Hey boss, you ain’t gonna believe it, but she knows the name of Bill Monroe’s horse.”

         “Is she willing to take you on?”

         “Yes sir.”

          “Call her back before she changes her mind.  You’re about to worry me to death.”

         “Yes sir.”

           And y’all, I proud to tell you, the contract is in the mail.  I’m gonna tell you some more details soon.  But I ain’t gonna tell you her last name, at least for now.  It’s just like I told my agent.  If the project doesn’t fly I don’t want her (or him) to get any of the blame.  It wouldn’t be her fault; it’s my story.  And if it successful, I want her and my agent both to get a lot of credit.  It takes a community to raise a Doctor, especially an old bluegrass one, and that’s all I know how to be.

Dr. B

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18 Comments on “My Editor, Jenny Lynn”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    Working editors are a scary bunch. They know a lot more than all of us combined. Lucky for me, I know a few who are looking at my work for nothing before I submit it to someone for money. I don’t want to look like a complete idiot, just a partial one. 🙂

    Anyway, I’ve cut out about 7,000 words from my first book. Only, what? Maybe 50K more to go? I want to get going on the second before winter sets in and I get all gloomy and SAD. That’s when I’ll work on the first one again.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ms. Pande,

      She knows a bunch. I think after we got started she began to realize she had a project on her hands, but I have already signed the contract, so she has signed up for the gig.

      Pande, I went through the same process. I had a lot of folks read parts of mine along the way, and without my agent I woulda never gotten this far.

      Don’t be sad, you have a lot to say. I have been at mine since 2000, but I figure in the end I just ain’t going away. Now Ms. Jenny Lynn has got to figure some way to get shed of me.

      But it’s like my friend Wayne Benson says, “We are bluegrass, and we aren’t going away.”

      Keep at it. You write so good a Southern Country Doc wonders what it is like to a business woman in the Frozen Tundra, so you are doing something right. Keep at it friend.

      Dr. B


  2. Congratulations, Dr. B! I’m so excited for you – finding an editor is a big step towards getting the book out there. I’m so glad you found Ms. Jenny Lynn, bluegrass-gal extraordinaire, and that she seems like such a good fit.
    Keep us posted on how it’s all coming along, please? This young fan is impatient for your book to see the light of day :).

  3. drtombibey Says:

    msslightly,

    She is a perfect fit, and is willing to take her time with me. I am glad, ’cause I need the help.

    I will keep you up to date for sure. You are my contact person with the youth of the world, and my hope to better understand my fellow human beings so much younger than me.

    Dr. B

  4. Mrs. Chili Says:

    How EXCITING! I love her answer of her job being to make your voice stronger, not to strangle it. That’s what I work for with my students, though I find that it often takes them longer than they have with me to find their voices…

    • drtombibey Says:

      mrschili,

      I loved her answers too. You know, when I finally get there, my blog will be a blueprint for the road map. You will be able to tell your students they must be patient.

      You can say, “I knew this old country Doc. I concede he was not brilliant, but he was was smart enough, I guess. Docs have to be fairly bright to get through all those books. I knew him well, and even did some remedial English for him in his early work.” (By now I hope they are paying attention)

      “I know for a fact it took him ten years from the time he started to get his book published, so what in the world makes you think you are gonna be an expert in one semester? You must not only pay attention now, but apply your lessons for years to come.”

      One will raise their hand. “What ever happened to him, mrschili?”

      “I kept up with him for years. He came through New England a couple times for book store signings. He traveled with little more than his beloved Marfar and the mandolin she gave him. We had dinner with them about ten years ago.”

      “Whatever happened to him?”

      “Lord, that man wrote to the end. Kept a blog from the Nursing Home, and taught some mandolin till he died.”

      “How many books did he sell?” another asked.

      “Oh around ten thousand I think. He didn’t keep up with that.”

      “That doesn’t sound like much money for all that work,” the boy replied.

      “Bibey would say if you don’t work for money you never have to work at all, son. Don’t forget that. Bibey would tell you he didn’t accumulate much, but died a rich man, and never went to work for a living a single day. He would say his writing, humble though it might have been, gave him a little bit of Earthly immortality, and that was what drove him.”

      The student will scratch his head, and not say much. That night he’ll go home and tell his brother, “You won’t believe what that crazy mrschili said in class today….”

      Chili, I believe in writing my script ahead of time. If I help you change one young person’s perspective then it is all good.

      Dr. B

  5. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Man, you nailed that one. A whole story in dialogue. Maybe you should become an editor. – Ted

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ted,

      Your’re a good ‘un. I appreciate the kind words, but if I was an editor everything would come out bluegrass and Country Doctoring.

      Hm, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. Let’s see, The Reader’s Bluegrass Digest, The New England Journal of Country Doctoring.

      Hey, the phone’s ringing. I think it’s Jenny Lynn. I can hear her calling…. BIBEY!!!!

      Dr. B

  6. Mrs. Chili Says:

    Doc, you made me grin today; I can totally see that conversation happening (and I fully expect you to blog from the nursing home, too…!)

    • drtombibey Says:

      chili,

      Someone e-mailed and said, “Doc, you are getting to be a good writer.”

      I replied, “If I am, it is because I was forged in the crucible of good people.” And you chili, are sure one of ’em. Thanks for your friendship.

      Dr. B

  7. Jeff Goins Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Tom! Glad to hear that you got yourself an editor.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Jeff,

      Hey thanks for the visit.

      I am convinced that every writer needs a good editor. Heck, my blog is proof of that. (It is only self edited) And I know all the best writers in history had to develop a good working relationship with an editor to get there.

      It is early but my heart says I’ve found the right one.

      Dr. B

  8. rekx Says:

    Exciting stuff Dr. B!!

    • drtombibey Says:

      rekx,

      I’m still planning on Dallas as one of my stops. Gotta play one with rekx, the VP of SPBFW, before I check into the Nursing Home.

      Dr. B

  9. Fred Says:

    Congratulations Doc. The process sounds reassuringly humane so far, even if it takes a rare breed to stay the course for 10 years! Slow cooked food tastes better.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Fred,

      Thanks so much. “Slow cooked food tastes better.” I love that one; my wife would tell you I have always been a slow simmered soup on a winter day kind of guy.

      Oh, I have run into a few detractors along the way, like the guy who didn’t care for my music. I hold no ill will towards him; I figure it’s just part of the process. In fact I felt a bit sorry for him. He didn’t sound like he’d had any fun his whole life.

      I’ve made so many new friends the project has been worth it already, and it isn’t even to print yet. So, I’m gonna press on. I’m having too much fun to stop now.

      Dr. B

  10. Smitty Pres. of Neuse River Fan Club Mississippi Says:

    Hey Doc, great news. I will tell the Jamison to get the room ready. The man at the Reed’s Bookstore as well.

    I have finally got to where I can post again. We finished the school year and it has been hectic around here. You know we don’t want to cheat the taxpayers out of their money.

    Doc, enjoyed the post. I was like one of the people who commented-I could picture you talking to the editor. I suppose you have a great voice but stick to the mando.

    I will let Elvis and the Preacher Man know about your book. Preacher Man and I are headed to the Memphis area. He is preaching a revival and he can.Yep, our whole congregation is toeless. He steps on them each week. My wife and Mom asked about you yesterday and I told them I have got to contact you.
    Great news again on the book. Stay the course, run/walk(age determines your full effort) the race.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Smitty,

      Tell Mark to tidy up the room, April to warm up her vocal cords, and Elvis and the Preacher man to set out the microphones. Y’all hit a few practice balls and tell ’em at Reed’s old Doc is good for his word and Mississippi bound.

      Dr. B


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