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