Saturday, August 25, 2007

Slow down, it's not a race!

When I got home from my Aussie trip there was a letter from Medallion Press requesting the full manuscript of Beyond the Shadows. I'd sent them a partial in June, just on spec, and really didn't expect it to go anywhere, this being the tough business it is. Anyway, I was so thrilled and panicking a bit as the letter was dated July 26th and this was now August 14th. I wondered if they thought I thought I was so darn special I wasn't even answering. Heh.

They had included an email contact and asked for a heads up if they were to recieve the manuscript. I emailed, told them to give me a week to recover from my jetlag. In typical style two days later I was futzing away at the thing and totally disregarding the fact that I was indeed suffering with jetlag.

By the Friday I thought it was good to go and printed it up and had my envelope made and at the last minute realized I hadn't printed a manuscript cover page. I quickly did one, wondering why mine was not in the folder because that's normally what I do. (I put manuscript, synopsis both long and short, query letter, pitch blurb, manuscript cover all in a folder.) Anyway, I was using the flash drive as I'd stored everything on it to take with me to National and to the Aussie conference so I could get some work done. When I closed out the document it asked if I wanted to replace with the original and I pressed yes, still thinking manuscript cover. The ms. cover of course had the same title as the ms. I had this sinking feeling as I removed my finger from the key and hurried back to check. I had replaced an entire manuscript with a one page manuscript cover. OMG! I was frozen in place. How could I have been so stupid? I began my search. Nothing. I did a wider search. Still nothing. I looked everywhere. There was an older version of the entire story but it didn't have all of the updated information, the new weaves I'd done post the HWSW workshop.

I called everyone I knew and they all said the same thing, "It's gone." So I took the printed version to Staples and had a copy made, then I mailed the package to the Publisher. Then I took a few days off to totally shake the jetlag, and with my photocopy I started re-typing it into a new document. Have you ever tried that? I hope you don't have to. With all of the dialogue and the checking and re-checking it's a slow process. I'm good for about five to ten pages a day.

Today, I took another look at the old copy still on my hard drive. I decided it would be simpler to work from it as I realized a lot of the in-depth changes had been done in the first act. The changes to the other acts were more weaving through and there were later pages that were unchanged. Whew! So I copied in my newly typed four chapters and deleted the four older ones. It's still a chore but at least this way I've managed a twenty page chapter in four hours. Tomorrow might be better. Now I'm taking a break. A chapter a day is good news. I'll be done with this baby in two more weeks, but I'm not rushing.

So, for all of you newbies out there (like me) don't panic like I did. The person requesting our material isn't sitting drumming their fingers on the desk impatiently awaiting the arrival of our manuscript. They have a lot of others ahead of ours. We should let them know we're delighted at the request, but take our time, get it right, it's not a race. And, back it up, back it up, back it up. I had to learn that the hard way and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cakes and pies and cups of tea, oh my!

I spent a short but sweet week with family in the Hunter Valley and even though the nights were cold, cold, cold, the days were lovely. We had a picnic at the vineyards and got to browse in the new collector's book store. It was a huge old barn of a building that reminded me of the antique bookstores I used to visit in New England when my daughter attended boarding school there. And of course I had to buy something, a book on Irish myths and legends. Maybe because Ireland is next on my list of places to visit? Does anyone smell a new work in the makings? It was hard to say goodbye to everyone, but the next step was the Australian Romance Writers conference in beautiful Sydney, Australia.

What an amazing four days! The cakes and pies and cups of tea ... yikes! I'm not getting on a scale this side of September! And even with jetlag, this morning I'm looking at the key to the gym and planning on tomorrow to begin getting back in shape. Well ... maybe the day after. *grin* Anyway the Aussies put on a great show, so thanks to all of the hard working organizers. The highlight was of course, Jennifer Crusie's workshops and meeting Anne Stuart (Sister Krissie) who has a most infectious laugh. I also met up with Allison Ahearn and her hubby Mark again, which was lovely, and met and chatted with author, Lillian Darcy who is a doll, and also Anne Gracie and Paula Roe. Allison Rushby did a great workshop analyzing the movie, Notting Hill, which was very informative. Also ran into many of the medical romance authors who are friends with my chapter mate, Janet (Lynne Marshall.) It's winter downunder and I think someone forgot to tell them that, or maybe they were rolling out the red carpet for international visitors, the weather was glorious.

The hotel, The Four Points Sheraton, overlooking Darling Harbour, couldn't have been better. The perfect moment to my day was sitting in the window seat with a cup of tea and watching the sun set, then I'd scurry around and hit the shower and change clothes for the evening's scheduled event. One night was a Venetian Carnivale hosted by Harlequin Australia. We all wore masks. 'Twas a little steamy under those masks but everyone had a great time. The next evening was a dinner for the awards ceremony. I didn't really know anyone so slipped in the back door and asked if a seat at a back table was taken. One of the ladies at my table turned out to be the Cherry who organized our lunch with Jenny, Melanie Scott, she was a winner of the Emerald Award, so it was terrific to share in her delight. Also, Robyn, another Cherry (I've forgotten her last name but she has a very nice chef husband ... I think if you have to have a husband that might be the best kind to get) was at the same table. It's really a small world this writing one. The Australian writer who sat on my left at the dinner, Keziah Hill, is friends with one of my California chapter mates, Eden Bradley.

Jennifer Crusie's one day workshop on Friday was the best thing I've done for myself in my writing career. I think this workshop, coming on the heels of the year long HWSW workshop on her website, really cinched everything I've been learning all year. And here is another irony. I was standing in line chatting (as writers are wont to do and met another Cherry, Erica. We ended up sitting together for the entire day.) We covered so much material in Jenny's workshop but with her personal anecdotes and bubbly humor the writing points took on more meaning. And she had jetlag, too, poor thing. And as if that wasn't enough, Jenny taught several more two hour workshops over the weekend. One was Sex and Violence, another, Motif, Metaphor, and Theme. I looked over the notes on the long plane trip home and couldn't believe how much information was in there.

I think Jenny has a story about every aspect of the writer's journey and she shares her knowledge, both professional and personal, so generously. On the last day, I even got to have lunch with her and five of her Cherries, plus writer Anne Stuart. We chose a seafood restaurant in Darling Harbour and had the best John Dory I've ever eaten.

But, to have Jenny come down from the lectern into the audience to hug and greet me on the first day of conference was beyond fabulous. We've met a couple of times before, but a hug? Wow! It made my day.

So now I'm back, and work is beckoning, and so is housework, and gardening, and bills and mail, and laundry, and I have the writing bug. Sigh.