My Editor at Work (The Inside Story)

        As I told you in my last post Jenny Lynn decided she’d better come to Harvey County and see what she was getting into.  I am pleased to tell you after her visit she did not change her mind.  She is still my editor.

        It was strange though.  I didn’t see her much until the last day.  She said she wanted some time to hang around Harvey County.  “Gotta know the landscape, Bibey.  I have to know where the writer comes from before I make my final decision.”

        “And?”  I bit my nails.

        “I want to go over this passage with you.”

        “Which one is that?”

        “This scene where you and Indie are visiting at the Nursing home.”

        “Oh yes ma’am, that actually happened.  I’ve forgotten some of it though; it was a good while back.”

        “I understand.”  She peered over her glasses.  All of sudden she looked so business-like.  She reminded me of my English teacher at Harvey High. (Except she was younger)   “I like most of this.   The Jim Beam in the skeleton’s skull; now that is clever.”


        “But this part about your mother, I don’t know about that.”

        “Well gee, Jenny.  I don’t think I really said it, but I was worried about it.  No good Southern Boy ever wants to disappoint his mama.  I don’t think she’d like it that Indie was drinking Jim Beam out of a Dixie cup over there at the Nursing Home.”

        “Well, you didn’t take a drink so don’t worry.  But the line about your mom struck me as contrived.  Your mother is still quite spry.  Why would she be at the Nursing Home while you were there?”

        “Hm.  Yeah I guess you’re right.”  I scratched my head.  “I’m sorry.”

        “For Heavens’ sake, Bibey.  You are such a little boy.  I’m not gonna fire you over it.  I do think you ought change it to a nurse though.”

        “Well, O.K.  Jenny, but I wanted to show even though I’m an old Doctor I still respect my mom.”

        “I get that.  So make it Nurse Wilson who comes by.”

        “Why her?”

        “Cause she goes to Sunday School with your mama.”

        “Da…. I mean dang, Jenny.  You’re right.  Hey …wait a minute.  How’d you know that?

        “Research, Bibey.  Research.  You wrote on your blog that you decide to go get a haircut when you are worried your mama would see you out and think you are looking woolly.  I interviewed her.”

        “You went to see Mom?  Oh Lordy, you didn’t tell her about that time Neuse River played the Latino bar in Durham did you?”

        “Young man, I haven’t survived all these years by not being perceptive.”

        “Whew. Thank goodness.”  I mopped my brow.

        “Yes we had a nice visit.  Her fried chicken was excellent.  She said you were the model child.”

        “Good Grief!”

        “Don’t worry.  I didn’t tell her otherwise.” 

        I let out a sigh of relief.  

        We went though a few more passages, and she folded up her papers and placed them in her briefcase.  “Gotta head home Bibey.  I’ll be back.  Don’t tell my trade secrets.”

        “Yes ma’am.  Can I help you get your things?”


        “How I bout I keep that Martin guitar here?”

        “Not a chance.”

        I looked it over one more time.  “I’m curious Jenny.  I notice the price tag is still on this thing.   D28.  2999.99.  What did you give for it?”

        “I got it over at Johnny’s Music Shop; the Jewelry and Pawn.  They gave me a significant discount.  I told ’em I was friends with Tommy Bibey.”

        “So, how much didja pay?”

        “Johnny did some figuring at the cash register and told me this would be your price.”  She handed me a small folded up piece of paper.  “Said no one had ever paid retail there, and no friend of Tommy Bibey’s was gonna be the first.”

        I unfolded it.  “Yep, that would be my price.  Say, you didn’t really play guitar when you got here, did you?”

        “No, but I figured I better learn.”

        “Three chords and a capo’ll buy you a ticket to the jam.  Let me carry it to the car for you.”   We walked out to the driveway.  I set it in the back seat and strapped it in.  “Man, Jenny.  Your work is great.  Can’t I tell just a little bit?”

        “Better show ’em Bibey, and just enough to let ’em know I’m real.  After that what’s said here stays here.  She handed me an envelope.   “Your copy of the contract.  It isn’t official until I’ve signed it too.”

        “When’ll you be back?”

        “Soon.  I want to do some outlining first.  I’ll get the next two chapters to you shortly.”

        As she drove off I went to the front porch and sat down on the swing.  I opened the envelope.  ‘Bibey,’ it read.  ‘I look forward to the journey.’  It was signed ‘Ms. Jenny Lynn, editor at large, whereabouts unknown.’

        Hm.  Here I am an open book.  Everyone in Harvey County knows me and I don’t even know for sure where Jenny Lynn lives.  I’ll say one thing for her; she’s done her homework on me.  Who is this masked woman, anyway?

Dr. B

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10 Comments on “My Editor at Work (The Inside Story)”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    I love this post! You should write a book about your journey writing a book!

    • drtombibey Says:


      It is interesting you say that because my agent already has the exclusive rights to that one. He is working on a book called ‘The Making of Tommy Bibey.’ (The title could still change.) He sends me the chapters, and I do some light edits and throw in a few comments.

      He has been with me the whole way, and knows the whole story. I never would have gotten here without him. I believe in loyalty, and told him as long as he is straight with me (and he has been without fail) it’ll be like when Bill Monroe hit the Opry. If he leaves he’ll have to fire himslf.

      So far his royalties only run in the hundreds of dollars, but he says he knows horses, too. All I know is I am enjoying the ride.

      Dr. B

  2. Karen Says:

    Dr. B., you’ve got a real knack for dialogue. And as that happens to be something I’m not that great at, I intend to learn from you every step of the way!! I think I like the way you let the conversation speak for itself without any extra stuff piled in around it.

    Oh, and if all it takes to be allowed entry in a jam session is three chords and a capo, then I’m in…as soon as I find myself a capo 🙂 Up until then everyone will just have to play in D. Considering how fast you guys in bluegrass play, I’m guessing I’ll be at least 4 bars behind. Oh, and don’t throw any minors in on me. I haven’t got a hope!! At that point I think I’d just sit pretty holding my guitar and hum.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ms. Karen,

      When I first started, a Doc friend of mine who was an English major read over some of my writing. He said I needed a lot of work, but that he found I was a natural at dialogue, a skill he believed hard to teach.

      He thought it was because I spent all day talking with patients, and every weekend as a bluegrass band emcee. As Buck Owens would say, I guess “all I gotta do is act naturally.”

      Dr. B

  3. Dr. B,
    It seems as if this adventure with Jenny-Lynn is just getting more and more exciting! She is the masked woman, coming to help you get your manuscript perfected and then sent off to the wizards we call “publishers” who will then proceed to get your book out to the masses where we will all be enchanted by it. I think Jenny-Lynn is a tough cookie, as she should be, and I’m really so very glad you’ve found each other. Hope we get to hear a bit more about the process, even if not about Ms. Jenny herself!

    • drtombibey Says:


      It is going to take a few extra months with her, but she believes slow simmered soup is the best. I am glad she is willing to invest the time in me. As a first time novelist, I need the extra help.

      If she likes my work and there is a second book like I hope for, they’ll never pry her away from me ’cause I believe in loyalty.

      Dr. B

  4. newt221 Says:

    Sounds like you and Jenny are getiing to be fast friends. And, working well together. Good! Waiting to read the book!

    • drtombibey Says:

      newt 221,

      I hope you will not only read it, but sing a tune with me and brother Darin at a book store near you. It is a slow process, but each step is a bit closer, and besides the journey is much fun.

      Dr. B

  5. Kim Justesen Says:

    I had the pleasure of traveling with my editor Peggy Tierney to the Book Expo America conference in Washington, D.C. a few years back. It was nice to learn that editors are real people, too. Not that I had actually doubted it, but fear and trepidation often made me question.

    How close are you to Eden or Cary? I’ve got kin in both places, and there may be a family reunion next summer.

    One last item: if you get the chance, take a listen to Red Rock Rondo. They are a blue grass-inspired group who were commissioned to do a full-length piece in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Zion National Park. They have a lovely song called “Marvelous Flood” that I sing along with quite frequently on my iPod.

    Kim J.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ms Kim,

      Ever writer needs an editor. I think mine believes in me, but is tough enough to tell me where I failed to get across my point. I told her I am not afraid of constructive criticism, and in fact welcome it. It is the only way to take it to the next level.

      We are so deep in the woods it is hard to find. You’d about have to call me from the Raleigh airport. It is so far back in the sticks that (to put together two quotes) “We use duct tape for chrome and the City Hall is in the back of the Dairy Queen.”

      Will check out Red Rock Rondo. Cool name.

      Dr. B

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