Knowing when to stop

You’d think by now I’d know how to spell the word “corral” as many time as I’ve used it, both in The Cowboy’s Baby and now in my new novel Arroyo. But I have to look it up in the dictionary every time. I want to type it as “corall”, which isn’t a recognized word to begin with, and I keep having anxiety attacks thinking I have writted “coral” every time. I am in the process of proofreading Arroyo for the very last time, but to be honest, what I’m really doing is copyediting it, changing things here and there that don’t quite seem right.

You have to know when to stop. There has to come a time when good enough is good enough, because there isn’t a thing you can write that can’t be changed (maybe for the better, maybe for the worst) if you keep on working on it. Ten years from now when I re-read The Cowboy’s Baby and Arroyo and whatever else I will have written in this time span, I know I’ll see things that could have been done better. Dean Wesley Smith has written a column about this that I’ve taken to heart, because I think he’s right. He says the more you re-write things from the original draft the more you lose your unique voice, which is what makes your novel worth reading even in a sea of others just as good. His article is contained in the Killing The Sacred Cows of Publishing section of

So, when I get to “the end” this time, this will be the stopping point for Arroyo (The Cowboy’s Baby has been on its own for more than a year now). Time to take a short break and then begin the next story. First up, The Taking of Rhinoceros 456, a short story. And then a mystery novel that’s only a germ of an idea in my mind right now. I’m calling it Talking To The Dead Guys, a Boo-Done-It mystery.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—Fever Dream by Preston & Child.

Photos by Roxanne Rix

Look for The Cowboy’s Baby at and for When Gymkhana Smiles at In about a month they will be joined by Arroyo, a paranormal Western.

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