Friday, March 31, 2006

Life Is Good

Well, of course it's good. Theo went to England on Monday, got read on Wednesday, approved on Wednesday night, line-edited on Thursday and today he's on his way to Canada for copyediting. What a guy!

What an editor! Nice turn around. Now if only they're as swift on the check. Ha. No, actually, once -- ONCE -- that did happen. I sent in a book and the next thing I knew -- like 8 days later my agent called and asked what I wanted them to do with the check. I said, "What check? For what?" It was early December. Had already got my royalty check. No money expected.

And she said, "The check for, um, let's see, something called THE MARRIAGE TRAP." And I said, "You're joking," because I figured she had to be. But, no, she wasn't. My editor (not the same editor and not the fastest of the senior editors in those days) was on maternity leave and The Boss had received the book. Apparently when The Boss got the book in those days, if she read it and liked it, she sent money. Pretty slick.

It never happened again. But we cashed the check and it didn't bounce, so they have quite a standard to live up to as far as I'm concerned. They haven't lived up to it since, but I live in hope. And less than a week's turnaround on Theo's manuscript is pretty terrific. So, thanks, Ed! (no, her name's not Ed).

In the anticipation that I will have enough money now to pay my taxes, I'm going to actually sit down and do them this weekend. What fun.

But first I'm going to watch the middle DVD of the first season of Veronica Mars, which makes me glad I went to high school in southern California in the darke ages and not now -- and then I'm going to walk my dogs and then I'm going to bake grasmere gingerbread and then I'm going to figure out what I want to write about next. Kate Walker is talking about growing books on her blog at the moment (well, at the moment she's off holding the wonderful Julie Cohen's hand while Julie signs books with her other hand, Yea, Julie!) But anyway, Kate is right. Growing a book is an interesting process. One of those "don't look down" events that are better left uncontemplated around here. All I know is: it's never the same twice.

But I'm not going to think about that now. I'm going to go work on my DVD of Veronica Mars. And if I finish it, I'm going to have another go-round with Damian Lewis's version of Much Ado About Nothing.

Yep, life is good.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Elias's Book!

I'd forget my head -- my mother says -- if it weren't attached.

I used to think she was kidding. Who? My mother? Not hardly. Worse, now it turns out she is right. Not that I have forgotten my head. It's still here somewhere.

But I did forget to say that my book, THE ANTONIDES MARRIAGE DEAL is on the shelves. I saw it myself in the drugstore last Thursday when I mailed a copy of it to a reviewer. (Did you get it yet, Heather?) This is the book about Elias Antonides, the long-suffering son of a very trying Greek father, and the woman his father accidentally (well, sort of) drops into Elias's life. I had so much fun with Elias and Tallie that I was sorry they left. I'm not sorry to see them in print now, though.

Keep an eye out for Tallie's brother Theo in this book, too. He's the boomerang who just got revised and sent back to Richmond. With luck he'll have a spot in production of his own in the not too distant future.

Let me know when Elias gets to your neighborhood! And please put him up at eye level when you see him on the shelves (unless you want to be like my dad who used to stand at the Safeway grocery store and hand people copies of my book and say, "My daughter wrote this. It's really good. You'd love it!" What a dad!)

Elias is supposed to be showing up in Britain next week, I think, too. With a different cover, which we will discuss later. No sense in complicating things now.

Anyway, keep an eye out for him! Thanks!

Boomerang Effect

It's gone . . . again.

The manuscript, that is. It used to be , back in the olde days, when we chiseled out the words with the aid of typewriters and that white ink correcting fluid and thought long and hard about whether we really wanted to change "sitting at the table, he ate fried eggs" to "he sat at the table and ate fried eggs" because it meant retyping the whole miserable page, at least when you sent off a manuscript you could count on it being gone for a while.

No longer.

With the advent of instantly gratified (or not) editors who have had the manuscript via email and who have read the whole thing faster than we can type a single page, the damn thing is back before you know it. There's no time to step back, cogitate, breathe a little, catch up on the things you've TIVOed to watch which you didn't have time to watch while you were writing, read the books you've been saving to read, mark down on the door jamb how much your kids have grown since you noticed them last (which was back when you began the book ).

Nope. You've got revisions. And they need them back sooner rather than later. Always.

And so you study the revision letter, and you whine a little (or a lot, but in my case actually very little this time because the editor was absolutely right about the draggy bits) and then you get down to doing something about it.

But -- and this is the tricky bit -- you don't have the distance you used to have. In the olde days, the book was gone at least a month, maybe longer. There was a bit of distance by the time it -- or its revision letter -- came winging back. It was easier to be detached and to see the flaws yourself. You weren't still in the middle of the forest, closely acquainted with all the trees. You were maybe a mile or two away. The book looks different from there.

So I miss that distance. I miss that perspective. I actually like doing revisions. I'm always wary of books that get snapped up on the first dash out of the starting gate. They worry me because they seem a little 'young' and 'unfinished.' The truth is I've never had a book yet I didn't think couldn't stand another run through the brain.

(Note to editor: this does not mean you are required to send everything back for revisions. I do a lot of them on my own before you ever see it, thank you very much.).

But I do appreciate the chance to go through and take another look. Usually this is important because I'm still figuring out the story the first, second, third time through. By the time it went across the pond (when it used to fly not go cyberspatially) and returned I had a chance to step back from it and get a sense of the story as a whole. Coming at revisions then was easier somehow. Or maybe I just think it was because we're not doing it that way anymore!

Anyway, it's good that Theo came back. I wish he'd stayed away a little longer the first time. When I saw him again, I felt like I did when my oldest son went away to university and came home the following weekend. It was like, what? You again? (I love him, but I really needed a bit of a breather. He was not precisely low maintenance.)

Nor was Theo. But he -- and I -- got some rest while my eye was recovering from the cataract surgery. And when I finally did look at him, it was with a great deal more color to my palette this time around.

I think he's a better book -- and hero -- for having come back for more attention. His story is sharper now. Better focused. More streamlined -- though longer, which is not something you should mention to my editor if you speak with her. (But to my editor's great joy, I have a slightly used granny for sale if anyone wants her for their book. She speaks Swedish -- the granny, not the editor -- and she would be a great addition to any family-focused contemporary romance -- just not mine, according to the ed. Maybe I can put granny on ebay?)

Anyway, Monday morning I flung the boomerang back toward Richmond. It's the editor's turn. She tells me she is taking Wednesday as a 'reading day.' That's tomorrow. Yikes.

Well, I hope she likes Theo and his lady and that all his draggy bits are gone. I also hope he doesn't come back again. If so, I'm going to duck.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Extreme Makeover

I have never actually watched an episode of Extreme Makeover where some guy and his crew go into a house and completely restore it, or knock it down and rebuilt it or ... or ...or ... but I feel as if I've got my own personal one going on at the moment -- not with my house, with my body!

First there was the cataract surgery which, by the way, is the greatest gift I've ever had in my life. I cannot begin to tell you how much more colorful the world is than the world I'd been living in for, lo, these many years.

And yesterday there was The Wisdom Teeth Extraction.

Not all of them, thank God. Just two. But two was enough. The other two left about 20 years or more ago. These faithfully hung on. They were doing their job, they didn't need to be sent off wherever the tooth fairy takes extraneous (is that the word I want? Not sure. Not sure of much. Painkillers are a distinct vocabulary suppresant) teeth. Anyway, the dentist thought (has been thinking for a good dozen years or so) that these ought to go that way, too. Finally, I decided to agree.

So I called. Wednesday. The day before yesterday.

If you recall "now" to an eye doctor means two months from now. "Now" to a dentist obviously means something entirely different. "Come in for an x-ray," they said. So I went. I got the xray. With their next breath they said they'd set up an appointmet for me with the oral surgeon. With the breath after that they told me he just happened to have an opening-- the next day. Yesterday. Late afternoon. Did I want it?

Oh, hell, why not? Why stop and think about it for two months?

Yesterday it sleeted. It rained. It snowed. Sometimes it did all of the above at once. Imagine my surprise (not) when the oral surgeon's office called in the morning and said they'd had a cancellation and could I be there in 45 minutes?

Did I mention I can walk to the oral surgeon's office from where I live? So I went.

An hour later I had two less teeth, five less roots ("Did you know you had three roots on that tooth?" the oral surgeon asked with the enthusiasm that only oral surgeons can muster for such items of discussion. Answer: no) and a prescription for painkillers and antibiotics.

Now, a day later, I can tell you they work. The painkillers worked so well I slept sixteen hours. I don't think I sleep sixteen hours some entire weeks! But I did last night and this morning and into this afternoon. And now that my eyes are uncrossed and I've stopped drooling, I am trying to do revisions on Theo again. Through painkillers. Probably not the best idea I've had this week (that would be having the wisdom teeth out).

Next week I get to see the eye doc again so he can tell me the cataract surgery was a great success (which I already know and am capable of getting VERY enthusiastic about). I wonder if he'll want to do the other eye.

I'm living in hope.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Color Me Amazed!

I had cataract surgery on Wednesday. I didn't really think I needed it much. I'd been living with this theoretical cataract on my left eye for quite a few years. I could still see. I could drive. I could read. I could do everything I needed to do.

But when I was working on Theo's book (now being revised) I spent LONG hours at the computer in January and the eye that didn't have the cataract (well, not much of one) took a beating. It got cloudy, foggy, irritable from staring all those hours at the screen (getting very little help from its colleague, the left eye). So I said to the doc, I think now's the time.

Of course now is NEVER the time in the medical world. Two months later is now as far as they are concerned. Well, in the ensuing two months, I had lots of re-thinking time. And once I stopped spending hours and hours staring at the computer screen trying to get Theo and his lady to a happy ending, the right eye felt much better. I was 'cured.' Well, not really. But I began to think I was jumping the gun getting the cataract removed.

Still, by this time I had invested time (and money) in a new eye exam and refraction. I'd listened to nurses tell me about what to expect. They promise you dire things, really, these days, all in the interest of not being sued because they didn't tell you that you could die. I think they should just make it a given -- you could die -- and then get on with it. So anyway, I thought, oh well, what the hell, I've spent this much time getting ready for it -- and I'm going to have to do it someday. And even if Theo and his lady are not completely revised, they're well on their way (I killed off granny the other day at my editor's request. Who'd have thought she was so blood-thirsty? But I digress.).

So Wednesday afternoon, I duly marched off to the cataract removing doctor (whose son #4 was best friends with my son #3 and we compare notes on offspring frequently and I'm probably the only person who brought wedding pictures to her eye exam this year). But that's beside the point. The point is -- I had the cataract removed.

The eye was blurry. Very very blurry. That day. The next morning. I had serious 'um, maybe I made a mistake' thoughts when I woke up and couldn't see the ceiling fan over my head. But I went to the doc (no, I didn't drive. The prof drove me) and the doc said, "It's fine. Doing great. You'll be amazed."

Color me amazed. The blur cleared. There was color. Such color as I have never seen (ever -- I've worn glasses since I was 2 1/2 years old). Edges -- there were edges to things. They didn't just blur from one thing to another. Blue. I've always loved blue. But when it's really blue and not muddied with a sort of brown-paper bag lens over it it's INCREDIBLE. Wow. I can't stop looking at things. I like staring at my computer just because things are outlined in blue and the blue is so bright, so vivid, so amazing. The sky is blue, too. And my neighbor's roof is gray, and my dog Gunnar is actually blue-black (he's a flatcoat retriever) and extremely impressive. As I said, wow.

The downside? Well, if there is one, it's that I just discovered there is way more dust on my wooden blinds than I ever saw before. I've just dusted everything to within an inch of its life. Things are looking better. And better.

But I have to stop looking now and go do something where I give the eye a rest so I can actually work on Theo for a while this afternoon. But I'm so impressed that I think I'm going to have the other eye done sooner rather than later. If I close the left eye, the world becomes muddy -- and this is with the eye that was the better of the two (cataract wise).

I've always been more of an auditory person than a visual one (because I couldn't see? Possibly). But I'm thinking of becoming much more visual. I might actually start describing things in my books now that I can see them.

Wow. And wow again.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

You're It!

This 'getting tagged' makes writing blog entries much simpler. And this time I have Kate Walker to thank. She did it a few days ago and I've been up to my eyeballs in revisions of The Book (yes, it's ba-a-a-a-ack) so I haven't had time.

But now . . . here we go.

current clothing: wool sweater, faded formerly red t-shirt, tan cords, wool socks (It's COLD here!), walking-the-dogs-in-mud-snow-and-ice boots.
current hair: needs cutting, brown, floppy, desperately needs conditioner at this time of year so it doesn't look like I stand around all day sticking my finger in a light socket (or power point, if that's what you call them where you live).
current refreshment: cuppa tea. What else?
current avoidance: revisions, putting clean sheets on the guest room bed (if I do it too soon they will be covered with dog hair before the guest has a chance to arrive, let alone lie down).
current smell: Pacifica soap from New Zealand, which always reminds me of sand and surf. Love it.
current thing you ought to be doing: revisions, putting clean sheets on the guest room bed (see above. The dogs are prowling, waiting . . . shedding)
current thing or things on your wall: bookshelves. They hang from the wall -- I hate to think what the tonnage must be. Worrisome, actually. On the bookshelves -- pics of kids, grandkids, dogs and a cowboy I know and love. Behind me, two honest-to-goodness paintings that became the covers of my two earliest Presents books done by the wonderful Ray Oliviere, who actually gave them to me (bless his heart).
person you're currently talking to: anyone who can help me avoid revisions. I talk to the dogs during the day. They don't answer back (much), but they don't interrupt, either.
current jewellery: wedding ring on left hand. Narrow silver band with a tiny bit of turquoise on my right.
current book: Reading: Jill Mansell's Making Your Mind Up. Writing - Bloody Theo. Well, that's not what it's called, but that's what I'm calling it at the moment. Who knows what they will call it, but it better not have the word tycoon in it! (Though I don't mind Greek because he is -- ancestrally)
current worry: that I won't get my revisions done before next Wednesday.
current favorite celebrity: I just got done watching the Shakespeare Retold version of Much Ado About Nothing for probably the seventh time, so right now it is Damian Lewis.
current obsession: Obviously the Shakespeare Retold version of Much Ado About Nothing. If you watch something seven times, you have to be a bit obsessed. It isn't just Damian -- the script is great, too. Yea, David Nicholls, who wrote it.
current love: The Professor (husband)
current longing: to be done with revisions. Or at least to have them continue to go well (when they are going, which presently they are not because I'm writing this instead).
current disappointment: that revisions don't miraculously write themselves as I think of them, but that they need every bit as much concentration to get right as getting the book not-quite-right did the first time through.
current lyric in your head: Help Yourself (Tom Jones) -- it's the opening of Much Ado About Nothing. I told you I was obsessed.
current music: see above -- but only in my head. Nothing competing on the stereo.
current favorite book: Bloody Theo. Also Most Hated at the moment. Last really memorable book I read: Jane Porter's The Frog Prince.
current favorite movie: Do you have to ask? I also adored Dear Frankie. And Bon Voyage. And I love Nobody's Fool.
current wish: something to do with revisions. Can't remember what.
current undergarments: yes.
current desktop picture: the kids, the grandkids, the cowboy, the dogs and Bob Fuller who played Jess Harper on Laramie, who was the inspiration for quite a few of my cowboy heroes, and who proved not long ago in reality that I had excellent taste in men when I was 13 years old.
current plans for tonight/weekend: Tonight - revisions. Weekend -- the houseguest (we're watching Much Ado About Nothing, of course!)

What about you? Now you're it!