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May 25, 2003: The Process Continues

May 12, 2003:
In a matter of hours, the revisions will be done. Done and done, and then some.
D-O-N-E. For a 4-letter word, it's not bad. I've re-written almost the entire second half of the book - the plot is the same, but scenes have been deleted, added, dialogue has been changed, characters have forged stronger relationships, and I am finally happy with the results. I've lived with these characters for two years; I've re-read the manuscript a good fifteen times. Each time, I spot something new I want to change, add, tweak, revise... enough!

And yet, there is one more reading I have to do. I still have to take the handwritten changes and make the corrections to the electronic document. THEN, I'll be done and I can send this puppy off to New York, and, unless E. wants further changes, it'll be a
D-O-N-E deal.

Next, comes The Title Decision - what WILL this book end up being called? I'm excited about that and hope it's The Damsel in This Dress because I wrote a scene to go with it (I combined a hot dress scene with an additional love scene and am very satisfied with the outcome (puns intentional). After the title is finalized, I am assuming the book cover will be designed. I can hardly wait to see what it looks like! Eventually, it'll end up on bookstore shelves, and THAT's going to be a trip-and-a-half.

As soon as I put the finished manuscript in the mail next week, I'm going to have to turn my thoughts to the next book. I've been focusing so much on getting this one revised, I haven't let myself think about the next one for fear of getting the books and characters confused.

So my focus now is on my website, which I hope to get online within the next couple of weeks. That's a project I can have fun with, and I intend to. I'll post the first chapter of the book there, and I'll then be anxious and nervous to know if readers like it. It seems that each step of the publishing process is fraught with anxiety and stress as each step has its own set problems that need to be addressed and dealt with.

There's a man I work with who knows I've written a romance novel that's going to be published, and he wants to read it. I've said to him, Well, unless you already read romance, you probably won't like it, but thanks so much for the thought. Oh no, he says. I really want to read your book! Well, sez I, you need to understand that there is a huge emphasis on the romance, if you get my drift, and you might not be comfortable with that. Oh no, he says to me, I've seen R-rated movies, I'll be fine. Uh, well, uh, R-rated movies are one thing and bedroom scenes in romance novels are something entirely different. I don't want my co-worker reading this book! Ack! How would I ever look him in the eye again? This is a peril I didn't realize I might face.

Well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. At any rate, I'm on schedule and happy with the revisions I've made. They seemed daunting at first, but when I let myself think about things and tackled each problem on its own, I was able to work through them. I guess the lesson here would be to relax and have confidence the words will come when you need them. They did this time; I sure hope they always do.


May 22, 2003:
My husband took the package to the Post Office on Tuesday. Those happy little revisions are on their way to New York. I wrote a lengthy cover letter explaining what I did in response to what E. had asked for, and included a brief synopsis of the next book I have in the works. I was able to get the revisions done in about six weeks, and I'm very pleased with them. I hope my editor will be, too!

Now that the changes are done and in the mail and gone, I have mixed feelings about where I am in The Now. After having put so much work into the manuscript, not to have it around to work on anymore is a strange sensation. So much thought and energy went into it and it was such a focal point of my days and nights for so long, now that it's off to New York, I don't have that particular manuscript as the nucleus for my writing time anymore. That's good, of course, because now I can move on. But in effect, I've just stepped off terra firma and blasted into uncharted space - the uncharted space of the blank computer screen. Good thing I have plenty of Tang on hand (you'll have to be of a certain age to get this one).

Wow, what an empty feeling. Each time I went through editing and revising Uppity Woman/The Damsel in This Dress/Whatever (sure wish this book had a name!), I made mental notes on how I wanted to approach my next manuscript. Problem is, I should have made physical notes because the ink on my mental notes has faded. I sat down and made a list of all the "Oh, yeah, next time I'm gonna... " ideas, but there are still some lurking out there in Brainland that refuse to shuffle forward into my awareness. I'm sure that, when I repeat the same mistakes, they'll make themselves known and this time, I'll actually write them down.

The challenge now (and I've said this before) is to write a better book than this one. How good is this one? Well, that's pretty subjective. If I don't know how good/mediocre/bad this one is, how can I write a better one? I guess the answer to that for any writer is to simply write the best book you know how to write each and every time. No matter what you do, somebody's going to love it and somebody's going to not love it and that's just the way it is.

I got an email from a friend of mine yesterday who said that she has a friend who is just about finished writing a book, and her friend wanted "some tips" on how to go about getting it published, and that because I'm getting published, she thought she'd ask me. I'm happy to help any way I can, but I was sort of surprised that somebody who has spent X months (or years) writing a book hasn't, in all that time, given any thought to the publishing process (and unless she formatted it with 1" margins, double-spacing, Courier 12, nobody will even read it). I got the impression from my friend's note that her friend thinks you just write a book and send it off (to where?) and there you go. I laughed because I believe I felt the same way myself a few years back, before the reality of that first rejection smacked me between the eyes. My friend's friend doesn't even know about the Writer's Market, which, among other things, I advised her friend to get for the current year.

So, onward. I set up a writing schedule for Murder Hunt, the tentative title of the new manuscript (frankly, I have three manuscripts going and the one that gives off the most energy is the one I'm going to move forward with), and have written bios for the villain, the hero, and the heroine. Even better, I've written three whole manuscript pages. Oh, baby. The characters and plot churn around inside my head and the more that happens, the more excited I get about writing it.

God, I love writing. Geez, I hate writing. But I love it so much more than I hate it (and even when I hate it, I love it). When you boil it all down, that's what being a writer is all about, and whether you're published yet or not, doesn't matter.

Hope you're having a fun and relaxing Memorial weekend!

-- Marianne


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