- September 24th, 2014 -

So far my fledgling career as an Independent Author has been quite an experience. I have published two books. A third, the sequel to the first book (which was actually the second book I wrote) is currently being reviewed by my editor, and while I’m waiting for her comments, I already started the sequel to the sequel, as those of you who have read my blogs already know.

My editor, Mariska Mourik,  is a beautiful and talented woman from Netherlands.  She lives in Provence with her husband, Pierre, a retired mountain climber. We met when my wife and I went on a hiking trip in France that they were guiding. During some of the hikes, while I was gasping for breath trying to keep up with her, we chatted about writing. Mariska is a published author, a former television journalist, a script doctor, and all around brilliant and accomplished person. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to read any of her books because they’re written in Dutch, and have not been translated to English.

From her description of her first book, where she exposed the first Dutchman who claimed to have climbed to the summit of Mount Everest as a fraud, I really wish I could have read it. She told me the phony mountain climber sued her for libel.  Even though she won, there was no cash awarded to her. To add insult to injury it cost her a shitload of money to defend herself from the scoundrel. I’m glad I don’t practice law over there.

Anyway, after I returned to the good old USA, where lawsuits like that would have resulted in cross and counter claims, and a whole lot of other nonsense, I began to exchange emails with Mariska, and suggested that she edit my next book. After discussing the logistics of such a transatlantic relationship, she agreed to give it a go. She liked my first book, and thought a sequel was a good idea.

I sent her my first draft and waited anxiously for her comments. In a word, she HATED IT! (OK two words) I was crushed. I mean I thought I had written the next great novel. We spoke for over an hour, mostly me listening to how crappy a writer I had become. According to Mariska, almost everything, and I mean ALMOST EVERYTHING, in the manuscript was awful. Had I completely lost my mojo?

After taking one of the most incredible tongue lashings I had ever endured,(and as a practicing attorney for many years I have been berated by judges, justices, arbitrators and other lawyers more times than I care to remember) I asked, “So Mariska, what did you think of the sex scene?” There was a long pause; I held my breath preparing to hear that my description of the best sex I never had was also moribund, lacking in credibility, and rife with clichés, like the rest of the book. Finally she answered, “It was good… but weren’t you concerned about STDs, HIV and AIDS? I mean, you obviously like these characters. It’s your responsibility to take care of them.”

I can barely take care of myself I thought, and if you don’t believe me ask my sons who think I am hopeless, and find an excuse to babysit me whenever my wife is away, to make sure I don’t burn down the house when I’m trying to make toast. Now I’m not only responsible to make sure these characters have the greatest sex of their fictitious lives, but I also have to insist they have safe sex!

“But Mariska, I can’t control them,” I protested. “Besides they were both really horny, and there wasn’t a condom to be found.”

Silence, “Alright, I’ll let that slide this time,” she said letting me off the hook. “Now maybe you should rethink your plot, cut out all the clichés, and all the rest of that crap. And remember to bring a condom along the next time your characters get it on.”

I really love my editor.