I have a new best friend. Her finest quality is her voice. She has a mellow, calm voice that speaks to me as I sit here in my office, concentrating on my writing. Who is she? She’s the lady who reads to me through the speakers in my computer.

            Who knew that there was such a thing? As many times as I have unleashed screaming, torrents of raw hatred toward my poor, unsuspecting computer, I never knew that my friend, whom I call Mrs. Kepler (after my 4th grade teacher who used to read to us every day) was mysteriously lurking inside this contemptable machine and can read aloud the paragraph or even a whole novel I have written. She’s always there, twenty-four hours a day, eager and willing to help me.

            Why is this important? Because hearing something is a lot different than reading it. Imagine my horror when she recently read “swallow breathing” or “wadded in the water”. I had read those passages a hundred times and never once did I catch those mistakes. She is especially helpful at recognizing clumsy, nonsensical sentences. In spite of my best efforts, I do tend to run on sometimes and she nicely, calmly makes these mistakes self-evident.

            Although Mrs. Kepler is pleasant and non-judgmental, there is one problem—sometimes she puts me to sleep. Is that because her melodious voice is so soothing and calming, or is it because the material is boring?I tell myself it’s because I’ve read these things so many times that I can recite most of it verbatim, but I also have to listen very carefully to catch the mistakes so nodding off is not good. But she is flexible and patient and very accommodating. I just back her up and listen all over again.

            Listening to Mrs. Kepler read to me illuminated a glaring issue with The Bone Pile: Seeing the Elephant. There are a few editing issues, but more importantly, it occurred to me that the slaves do not have a strong enough voice in the first book. They do in the second and third parts, but not in the first one. They are talked about, and James and some of the others explain what they assume Solomon, Ellie Mae, and Amos are thinking, but why didn’t I write those sections in their own voices? I felt so strongly that I needed to make those changes that I arranged to rewrite the novel and publish it again. I can do better.

             So, people, these are my ramblings for my first blog entry. Since any writing is fun for me, I shall try to do this every once in a while. I do have some coherent thoughts every once in a while and would enjoy sharing them with you.

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