Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"The Story About The Middle of We'll Have The Summer"

Howdy Folks,

Yesterday's post,"Writing with an Outline and other stuff" generated a lot of comments and questions over on Facebook. One in particular, about the "middle" of the story, made me remember a time when my publisher, Camel Press, was editing "We'll Have The Summer" that is equal parts funny, stressful and informative.

Early on in the editing process my agent, Dawn Dowdle, sent an email to the publisher, advising them to pay close attention to the song lyrics when they get to them, she's not sure what to do about them. And she copied me of course. So did the publisher with their response which went something like this, "What song lyrics? There can be no song lyrics in a novel without written approval."
To which I responded, "I checked with an attorney who advised you cannot copyright titles or part lyrics." Publisher responded that they don't believe that's true about song lyrics and wasn't interested in spending the money to prove it to ABBA. Was I?

Now here I must explain my original story had Mary and Comanche performing their musical freestyle to ABBA's "Dancing Queen."  I love ABBA always have and will, Dancing Queen is a great song, and years earlier, my Spotted Saddle Horse, Diablo and I had put together a routine to it. While our efforts never really got there, Diablo and I had enjoyed many happy hours practicing to speakers blaring what may well be ABBA's best song. Comanche being a paint, and that song had both been a hat tip to the finest horse I'd ever known.

So in my attempt to save it I responded, "I thought we were past this anyway when you agreed to publish We'll Have The Summer, I figured you'd read it and since you never mentioned it I assumed we were okay."

Now Camel's response is the purpose of me retelling this little adventure ... About the "middle of the story" question/comment … My editor's response was both a disappointment and a wonderful compliment. She wrote, "I did not need to read your entire manuscript to know I loved, it and wanted to publish it. I only need to read the first quarter to know that the "middle" and end would hold up. Knowing that I'll be reading and editing the entire novel later, I only read entire submissions if I suspect they might not. I know yours will. Now loose those lyrics." The lyrics don't appear until the second half of mt novel so of course she'd not seen them.

Well the compliment had me walking on air, but loosing the lyrics made me very sad. Because taking them out not only meant rewriting, a lot, but, here is something else you can't know without reading this post ... Dancing Queen had been a running thread throughout the novel. We lost a few tender moments when Sam teased Mary about a country gal loving that citified song. "Never will understand it," he would say.

But to my rescue came Mary Ann Kennedy who offered her song, "Born To ride," which suits Mary just perfectly. The lyrics fit Mary almost as if Mary Ann had written her song for Mary and Comanche. I had to tweak some of the choreography, but it actually fits Mary very well. So like they say, things happen for a reason. You can check out all Mary Ann's wonderful music here -http://www.maryannkennedy.com/

I did keep one reference in though, to Dancing Queen, and the big yellow disco ball in the fireworks. So if you've read We'll Have The Summer and wondered about the fireworks and that one reference, now you know why.

Gitty Up,
Dutch Henry


  1. Everything happens for a reason... we just don't always see it until it comes together.

  2. Once more, you have provided marvelous insight to the goings on behind the scenes of writing and publishing.

    Thanks, pard!

  3. Thanks Darlene and Odee! Yes things do happen for a reason, and thank you for being part of Coffee Clutch!