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January 10, 2004: Musings

January 6, 2004
Hello again. I've missed you, but I've been simply too-too busy "writing" to write. Remember that deadline I talked about last time? Well, that noise you heard was me hitting the wall. I wrote and I squirmed and I kept one eye on the calendar, the day of the week, the time of day, and I huffed and I puffed and I finished the second re-write just moments ago. I'm still not quite done (there's all that polishing yet to go), but the manuscript will go in the mail as promised, and I'm (at last) very pleased with it. Max and Evie are a different couple from Soldier and Betsy, but then, they are supposed to be. It took me a while to get to know them, but once I did, we rubbed along just fine.

So, I now know exactly how long it takes to write a book from scratch under threat of deadline. And how long did it take, you ask? Longer than I thought it would! Note to new authors: When they ask you when you can have your second manuscript in, take the initial amount of time that pops into your head, give yourself a mental smack, and double it. If you can't bring yourself to do that, then at least add a month on, two, if you can say the words without stuttering. Promise me! You'll thank me later.

Yes, I (almost) bit off more than I could chew. I was anxious to get another book out there, and guesstimated based on the first manuscript which I wrote as time permitted. For the last month now, I've gotten up at about 5 a.m. and written until it was time to go to work (oh, yeah . . . the day job). After work, I wrote until bedtime, or until I couldn't focus on the computer screen anymore. On the weekends, I wrote from pre-dawn until I not only couldn't see the screen anymore, I couldn't even see my fingers. During Christmas break (I had a fifteen-day vacation) I wrote from about 4:30 a.m. until I just couldn't sit in this chair one second longer. Other than cooking dinner, doing laundry, getting ready for Christmas and such, I wrote. I threw whole chapters, whole sections away, and re-wrote. Brilliant words and images gone forever. Really, brilliant. Trust me here. You should have seen them. Gone now. Ah, how one must suffer so for one's art. Of course, those brilliant words and images did nothing to forward the plot, so they had to go.

I had all the time in the world to write Damsel and re-write it, and perfect it, so I didn't have a good feel for how long that whole process took. Well, writing Midnight has now given me the gauge I needed, along with heart palpitations and sleepless nights. Had it not been for my two-week "vacation" and the help of my family (who basically helped me by leaving me alone), I would not have made it. Meeting my very first contractual deadline was something I absolutely had to do. Now that Midnight is done, I have a nice, comfortable ten months to write Claire, and hopefully jot down some notes on book number four, which has already begun to form in my head.

Just in time for Christmas shopping (and for college tuition payments), I received the first part of my advance for Midnight. That was a very happy day! Also, I did some work on my website and added a few recipes (more will be added in the coming months). And I finally found the time to add a page devoted to my friends and former colleagues here at All About Romance.

It's been eleven months since I sold Damsel, and another nine until it hits the shelves. Good thing I'm a patient woman. I am on Amazon now, though! My heart gave a little jump when I saw my name and my book title pop up. Sales have been slow; right now, I'm at 2,158,318 (in contrast, Nora Roberts' latest book is at #8), but that's okay. I just feel sorry for the poor sap who's at 2,158,319.

And speaking of my website, I've been monitoring some of the search criteria people have used who've ended up on my site. I'm not sure they were looking for me or my books . . . in fact, I'm not at all sure just what they were looking for. Here are some verbatim samples to delight and amuse you:

  • deviled egg alternative
  • chihuahua brown hairy facts
  • antique eveready batteries
  • cookie crust butter 9x12
  • hairy marianne
  • lick feet in the seller shoe
  • marianne sweater
  • marianne's ice cream for sale
  • marianne's sex
  • marianne's teeth
  • metal fingers in my body
  • pavement or dirt or oil she was barefoot -fetish -sex -sexy
  • the dog jumped over the fence and then it died
  • antediluvian sex

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Well, anyway, that's it until next time. I should be seeing my book cover any day now, and ARCs (advance reader copies) will begin going out in January as well to review sites and magazines.

Oh, almost forgot! Along those lines, I've already received one singularly terrific review of Damsel. My editor sent a copy to Carly Phillips for (hopefully) a cover quote. Carly, whom I have never met, provided one and I am absolutely thrilled by it! When I wrote to thank her, she said she'd read the book in one sitting and had loved it. Thank you, Carly. Thank you so much. It was so gracious of you to take the time to help out a new author. I hope I get the chance someday to do the same thing for someone else out there.

Well, everyone, I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season - next stop, spring!

-- Marianne


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