Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Editor

I blush to even say that out loud.




The following is a super-condensed version of the conversation I had with the lovely Stacy Boyd, Senior Editor of the Harlequin Desire line. Super-condensed, that is, because it happened two weeks ago, and I had enough turkey during the course of the last week to render some parts of my brain permanently soporific. Plus, the parts of my brain that are not in a continuing turkey-coma are toting up a to-do list that is stunning--as in, I keep walking around with a stunned, I-can't-believe-it's-almost-December, do-you-have-any-idea-how-much-crap-I-have-to-do? look on my face. Do they make a concealer for that?

Whoops. Just realized that what followed "The following" in the previous sentence was not actually the super-condensed conversation with My Editor. Did I mention the soporific stunnedness going on over here? My apologies. Onward to the highlights!

1. Stacy said, and I quote, "If I don't write it down, I don't remember it," as she worked her way down the long list of things she had to tell me. This is the exact moment when I knew Stacy and I were going to work together well, because I say that about once a week.

2. Stacy needed a list that long because she's used to working with published authors. I'm the first 'new' author she's signed in some time, and there's a lot to know.

3. She was going to pitch Indian Princess to a different line at Harlequin--but on the second read, decided to keep it for herself.

4. It won't be called Indian Princess for a lot of really good reasons, including but not limited to the fact that there's no actual princess in it. The title will be determined by a lot of factors, most of them out of my control.

5. Indian Princess won't be out until 2012. This is an eternity to anyone not familiar with the publishing world, but here's the two main reasons--it takes time to get a book ready for publication (I could be off, but I counted about seven hands/departments it's got to pass through), and they already have the 2011 releases lined up.

6. The Wannabe Cowboy is a great concept--but wrong for the Desire line (because my hero is dirt-poor). Stacy wants to build me up as a Desire author first, so the Wannabes are going to have to wait a few years before they make it to the great wide world.

7. If I can do it, she'd like to release two books from me in 2012.

8. Since she liked the ideas I'd been kicking around for two weeks, maybe I could plan on three books for 2012.

9. I should go ahead and send her the first three chapters and a synopsis for the next book.

We talked about a lot of stuff--over an hour of me pacing and her going down her list--but those are the highlights. I'll have more details as I either remember them or as they crop up.

Now excuse me, but I've got some chapters to crank out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Yes, this is a week early, but Thanksgiving week is kind of crazy around the ol' Authorial Household, so HAPPY THANKSGIVING a week early!

Thanksgivings are a time of comfortable, familiar traditions. For instance, if you read my blog from last Thanksgiving here, or the one before it here, you'd know exactly what I am and continue to be thankful for.

This year, I'm going to flesh out the list of things I'm thankful for a little more:

1. Patience. Not so much in me, of course--patience is one of my revolving New Year's Resolutions, something I always need to work on. No, I'm more thankful for other people's patience. I'm thankful for my husband's patience when I babble on about imaginary people's lives at dinner. I'm thankful for the Lovely Mary's (Grammar Goddess) patience to put up with me at work, and willingness to read every single book. I'm thankful for my family's patience (and willingness to bite their tongues) when I do something they think is stupid--but they support me anyway. And I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am that The Kid has a wise, patient kindergarten teacher. Patience. It's a wonderful thing.

2. Those who are here. Gram is now officially 95 1/2. Every year we get with her is another year to be thankful for. Similarly, my great-aunt just broke her hip at age 90--but is improving every day. I didn't go to a single funeral this year. In a time filled with war, terror, and random acts of violence, I'm thankful that my family has been spared from tragedy.

3. Those who aren't. A large part of my free time (HA!) recently has been spent on my other grandmother's manuscript. I never knew her, but she raised my father and his eight (count 'em) brothers and sisters. After living with her written words for so long, I feel closer to her now than I ever have. Similarly, I've been talking about Gram's husband, my grandfather, to The Kid a lot recently (he likes the pictures of Grandpa holding all the fish on the wall). Even though these people and others have gone on before me, I'm thankful for them nonetheless. They make me more whole as a person.

4. Those who are coming. This upcoming year, I figure to be an aunt, twice over. The Kid is dying to be a 'big brother,' and cannot wait to meet his future 'little bears.' (We read a lot of Berenstein Bears.) He's got big plans for those babies, just as soon as they can sit upright. I think racing Hot Wheels and trains figures prominently into his plans.

So, remember--there's a holiday that comes between Halloween and Christmas, and that holiday is called Thanksgiving. Make sure you stop and give thanks.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Call

I got The Call! Here's how it went down:

Thursday, approximately 1 p.m.: Laurie McLean emailed me to say that she had a phone appointment with Stacy Boyd, Senior Editor at Harlequin Desire, scheduled for Friday, and when would be a good time for Laurie to call me?

Thursday, approximately 1:15 p.m.: Screaming and dancing occurs. Gater participates with barking.

Approximately 1:17: I suddenly become paranoid that I'm counting my chickens before they hatch, and therefore jinxing the whole thing. Maybe Stacy just wants to say 'hi' to Laurie, check on the weather in San Fran.

1:19: I start emailing people. I call my mother. Various levels of screaming and dancing occur with me in the background yelling, "don't jinx it!"

1:27: I email Laurie back that I'll be home from work and picking up my son at 3:15.

Thursday Evening: I spend the rest of the night not counting my chickens, fighting a massive sinus infection, and trying not to panic.

Friday morning: Wake up going "Today's the DAY!" Sing loudly until my head tries to explode. Spend rest of morning trying to get The Kid to STOP singing loudly. Fail.

Side Note: Sinus infections are a mixed blessing for those of us who are a little OCD. I spend the day getting really excited, really nervous--then getting really tired and puny for half an hour or so. Once I rest up a little bit, I get really excited, really nervous--and then puny again. This semi-vicious cycle goes on all day long.

Friday, 2:57 p.m.: Leave work, race to get The Kid from school.

3:02: Inform any mom within listening distance that Today's the Day! The mother of one of my Kindergarten Mom friends goes home and tells her daughter (that would be my mom friend) that I'm "cute."

3:07: Inform the kindergarten teacher that while I'd love to chat, I have to get home to get a call from my agent about one of my books. The lovely woman latches onto my arm, demands to know what I write, and when I tell her I've GOT to go for a call--The Call--she hugs me. That woman is getting a hell of a Christmas present.

3:09: Buckle in The Kid. Just as I get in the car, my cell phone rings. The Kid blithely informs me my phone is ringing. (You may well wonder why this matters--well, I'm a luddite who rarely uses my cell for anything. I don't even text. The fact that it rang and scared the heck out of me was entertainment for a good five minutes for The Kid.)

It's Laurie--but I'm driving. Here's a 'fun fact' about me (and by 'fun,' I mean 'weird')--if I'm nervous and I have to talk on the phone, I simply must pace. Not operate a several-ton vehicle with my son in the backseat and a audio book blaring on the radio. I tell Laurie I must go home and will call her back.

3:11: Arrive home. Of course, I now have to let the jumpy dogs out, get The Kid a snack and get the heat going in his toy room so that he will leave me be for 20 minutes, and--this is important--change my shoes. I was still in my cowboy boots. No sane person paces on hardwood in cowboy boots. It's just not done, darling.

3:14: Call Laurie back. Commence pacing.

Laurie has great news! Stacy Boyd is going to buy The Indian Princess! Plus, she'd like to build a career for me. She wants me to write four books a year--two for her in the Desire line, and maybe two for the Special Edition line.

I have to be honest--Laurie said a lot of stuff, but my brain and my mouth completely disconnected--I'm not sure what my ears were doing. All I said for maybe 15 minutes was, "O-okay. Um, o-okay. O-okay." At some point, Laurie realized I'd apparently checked out and asked if I'd like her send a sum-up message. To which, of course, I said, "O-okay."

3:27: Stand in stunned silence for a moment, until The Kid demands more pretzel sticks. Realize I need to do a load of laundry, and that the dishwasher is full. Do two minutes of mom stuff.

3:29: Commence calling people. My mom (Hi, Mom!) starts crying; I'm still in a stunned, non-functional moment. Pacing re-commences. Alternate between cell phone and land line. Drop land line when cell phone rings again. The Kid laughs. Again.

At some point, I start crying. I think I was on the phone with my husband at the moment.

7:00: The Kid's first Slumber Party (see last week's blog) begins. Thankfully, The Kid's guest, The Friend, his mom Leah and I go way back. Thankfully, I say, because this is the kind of emotional sort of day that can often overwhelm humans from Mars but that humans from Venus love. Spend the rest of the evening babbling at top speed (another side-effect of excitement).

8:40: Remember all that puny sinus stuff from earlier? It finally catches up to me, and I almost fall asleep standing up. Plug in a movie for The Kids and collapse.

So that's it. That's the whole story. The sinus infection has dampened my ability to celebrate, and, like all newly famous authors, I spent the whole weekend scrubbing very old, very stinky goo off of our bedroom floor so that we could walk around barefoot again.

But never fear, I'm going to celebrate today! A la Heather Snow, I'm going to go get a celebratory manicure and pedicure!

And then? Then I'm going to get to writing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Slumber Party

We're going to do something fun and exciting around the Authorial household tomorrow. The Kid is having The Friend over--for the night.

The first sleepover. The Kid said to me, "He's going to come over for a play date and to sleep--and playdate plus sleep equals sleepover!" He was real proud of this social math.

I have mixed feelings about this. I've been friends with The Friend's mom since sophomore year of college, and we've gotten our boys together whenever we can. We always hold kid-friendly Super Bowl and New Year's Eve parties--the kind of laid-back get-together where everyone understands that if it all goes south by the end of the first quarter and you have to bail, no one will hold it against you. The sleepover has only been a matter of time.

But that's not why I have mixed feelings. This is why:

Photo: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm Studios

What? You don't know what the heck that is or what it has to do with slumber parties? Well, this is my blog, so I'll tell you.

I went to my first slumber party when I was in first grade--about a year older than The Kid. I think it was Jessica P.'s birthday party, but I'm not sure about that.

I was a sheltered little girl (okay, the 'little' part is debatable, as I was the tallest kid in my grade for a long time), one who spent a lot of time reading books that were four grade levels above 1st. My folks let me read almost anything I wanted, but I didn't see a lot of movies or watch that much TV (except for Wheel of Fortune). Part of this had to do with my parents 'weird' ideas about parenting (most of which, sad to say, I've replicated with the kid--thereby completing the Circle of Parenting Life), but part of it undoubtedly was self-defense on my mother's behalf. I would get nightmares from Donald Duck cartoons. Really. I still can't watch suspense movies.

As the result of being a sort-of huge giant brainiac who liked to read, I didn't have a lot of friends. I'm sure my mother felt this slight personally, which is why she probably let me go to the birthday/slumber party. I'd been invited, after all. I don't remember much about the party until . . .

Photo: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm Studios


For some reason I've never fully grasped, Jessica's (?) folks popped in a VHS of Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant. At a first-grade girls' slumber party. Really. Perhaps the 'newness' of the technology demanded that it be demonstrated--VHS players were still very expensive back then, and there had to be a "WOW" factor involved with having one in the house. (Yes, I'm old. Get over it.)

I don't remember much of the movie--until people started melting. Sure, they were bad guys and all, but that didn't change facts--they were melting.

Keep in mind that not only did I not have the ability to suspend disbelief--I was six--but that the imaginary world was shockingly real for me. I lived in make-believe worlds (and, surprisingly, still do). I had no concept that this was not real.

Everyone else at the party barely seemed to notice, making my terror that much more socially awkward. No one else was scared; therefore, I could not possibly admit to being horrified. And to have the parent on duty call my mommy to come get me? I already didn't have a lot of friends. Even I knew that bailing on the party would be the equivalent of social death-by-melting.

Photo: Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm Studios

Indeed. Ah, the memories!

So I spent the rest of the slumber party curled in a ball in my sleeping bag--not sleeping--and praying for morning. I think I did doze off close to dawn, only to have my head stepped on when everyone else got up all perky and happy. In other words, the only way it could have been worse would have been if I had wet the sleeping bag, so score one for not sleeping. 

Thus marked a turning point in my social development (or lack thereof) as a kid. Years later, when I finally watched The Ark of the Covenant again, I had to hide my eyes through the whole scene. At least now, no one steps on my head in the morning.

So now I'm an Authorial Mom faced with hosting my first sleepover. It'll be loud, toys will be scattered to the four winds, but movies? Toy Story is as scary as it's going to get around here. 

I don't want to scar the kids for life!