Manuscript was last adventure

Published 11:55 pm Friday, July 13, 2012

I can’t exactly describe my mixed feelings when I tapped the e-mail button a few days ago to send the final proof of my late husband Claude’s fifth Christian novel, “Goliath’s Sword,” to the publisher. For three weeks, it had been in my possession to check over one more time “with a fine tooth comb.” I was relieved to complete the final stage before the book went to press. At the same time, I battled an overwhelming sadness knowing that Claude won’t be here to hold the first copy in his hand when it arrives at our door.

There were days when just opening the final proof was more than I could handle. Other times, as I went over every line, I felt close to Claude. If I closed my eyes, I could see him at his desk, his face close to his computer monitor, working diligently despite his declining vision. I remembered how he sometimes sat up in bed at night, turned on a light, and scribbled a note to himself about the Rev. Alabaster Armstrong, his adventurous main character.

Working with the final proofs of his past four novels was different. I read the corrections and revisions to him while he sat in a recliner next to my desk so we could work together on the corrections. Memories of that time together often swept in as I re-read each page of “Goliath’s Sword.”

Claude finished the last chapter just weeks before his passing on New Year’s Eve, 2010. Since the manuscript was under contract, it was my responsibility to finish the editing and tie up any loose ends. The deadline for the manuscript was July 2011. I had followed along with the editing at a slow pace even before he suffered a massive heart attack early in 2010. After that, I had even less time to devote to it. I resumed working on it several months after his death. Following a call from a friend urging me to take a break, I put it aside to fly to Tucson, Arizona for a week to visit her. Returning refreshed, I took up the task again. I e-mailed the manuscript to the publisher June 30.

Since then, it has moved through the hands of two editors, returned to me for first draft corrections and revisions, passed to the design department for the creation of a cover, and returned for that final proof. I was glad that I didn’t have to mark the corrected pages with paper clips and mail the proof back to the publisher, along with e-mailing the list of corrections as we did with the first four books. For “Goliath’s Sword,” with some written instructions from one of the publisher’s design specialists, I handled it all by computer and returned it by e-mail.

The publication of this novel marks the final chapter of Alabaster’s adventures. It leaves me with treasured memories of sharing Claude’s last adventure here on earth—realizing his dream to write his books.