February 20, 2004
Well, we’re slowly crawling along to the publication date, and things are happening – terrific things.
First, in the middle of January, I received the galley proofs. Most of you know what those are, but for those who don’t, galleys are a basically page proofs. Each 8 ½ x 11 page has 2 book pages printed on it. The size and font of the typeset is exactly as it will appear in the printed text. The author gets the galleys, reads the book One More Time, makes any printer corrections (e.g., missing punctuation or typo’s), and makes any last minutes changes (e.g., if I were to decide to change the color of my heroine’s car from black to white). The number of printer errors that can be corrected is unlimited, but the number of author changes is limited to under fifty. For those keeping score, there were 24 printer errors, and 25 minor author changes involving a total of 34 pages. You only send back the pages you change, not the whole galley.
One of the amazing things about galleys – at least for a first-time author – is to see your name on the copyright page. My husband went nuts and wanted to frame it – until he saw the dedication page. Yes, I dedicated this first book to him. He stared at it and grinned and came dangerously close to giggling, but he held it at a series of chuckles. I made my fixes and returned the changed pages. One more step completed. Then it was on to the cover art.
A couple of weeks after the galleys had been returned to New York, I unexpectedly received a large envelope from HarperCollins. Let me just say right here that we have a small mailbox. It’s one of those metal standing lockbox type contraptions that serves 8 houses at a time. We have to walk to the bottom of the hill to get our mail, and we need to remember to take the key – not the one that’s bent, but the one that will actually open our mailbox. Otherwise, you have to walk back up the hill to the house and get the key, or get the unbent key, and sometimes, even then, the box won’t open. You can see the mail in there through the little peephole, taunting you, sneering at you, biding its time.
This setup is all designed for the convenience of the postal service, not the consumer. I didn’t design the damned mailbox because if I had, I would have made the interior space of each box a lot larger, capable of holding today’s surplus of flyers, oversized envelopes, and the occasional item from QVC (thank heaven Gem Weeks are rare and the packaging highly crammable). And, let me say as well, in my lifetime, I have probably had upwards of a bazillion different mail-carriers, all of whom have been friendly and helpful, and very nice. But no. Our mailman now is a hostile creature who lives just down the street from us and who abhors any kind of physical activity – such as walking a package the fifteen paces from his truck to our front door. No, he prefers to smoonch and scrunch as much into that little box as he can. In the event he must deliver something into my hands, he makes sure I know I “get too much mail!” A couple of times, he couldn’t fit anymore into the box, so he removed it all, bundled it up and left me a note. If I wanted my mail, I had to drive to the post office and pick it up. If I didn’t pick it up within X days, all of it would be marked return to sender. He would not reapportion it to fit, he would not bring it to the door, he would not do anything. This man lives two houses down from us, he is our neighbor. The day he proudly told me he’d “won” this route, I became ill and had to be sedated.
But, I digress. So it came to pass that one day, Katie returned from the mailbox with this large manila mangle of an envelope (our mailman punishes us in this way, for receiving too much mail) and inside it was what’s called a “mechanical” of the cover. Avon had nicely framed my new book cover in black matting, and even its bent and bedraggled condition couldn’t keep me from beaming when I saw it. Also enclosed was an 11 x 17 color copy of the whole cover flat: front, side, back. I immediately folded it into book-size form, and slipped it over a paperback to see what it would look like on the shelf. Sigh. I was happy. Things were definitely moving right along.
Then, yesterday, UPS (now those people know how to deliver a package!) arrived at my doorstep with a small box – from HarperCollins. My first ARCs had arrived.
ARCs, aka Advance Reader/Review Copies, are printed about 5 or 6 months before a book comes out, and are sent to reviewers. AAR reviews from ARCs a lot. The reason for this is, reviewers will have had a chance to read and review the book, and can time the publication of the review with the book hitting the market. I received 10 ARCs; 3 of them I’m going to give away in a contest. If you would like to win one of these ARCs (and get to read Damsel months in advance of its July 27th release date), please email me at [email protected]. Winners will be notified by email on February 29th.
So, what else? Well, I’m 125 pages in on the first draft of my third book, Claire and Present Danger and am already working on ideas for the next two or three books after that. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evie has been sent off to my editor, and I’m just waiting to hear from her in terms of how she liked it and what kinds of revisions she’d like. Additionally, I’m getting ready to go to the Romance Writer’s of America National Conference in Dallas this summer, and if my books are ready by then, I’ll be able to attend my first book signing (Damsel is coincidentally due to be released on the first day of the conference).
On January 29th, I had surgery on my right hand for carpal tunnel. If you think you have it, please see your doctor. I had been living with carpal tunnel for years, but felt it was more of an annoyance than anything. It’s not. If the nerve in your wrist becomes too compressed, you lose muscle strength in your hand, and it does not come back. So I urge you, please have your doctor take a look, get the appropriate test, and consider surgery to correct the problem before you lose function in your hand. The surgery is quick and simple, and recovery time relatively brief. The immediate relief I felt was amazing. In another month or so, I’m having the left hand done, and I can hardly wait.
Recommended reading: Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s excellent, no kidding. I’m not a horror fan and don’t usually read his stuff, but I like him, so I picked up this book and have been rewarded with some of the best advice on writing I’ve ever read. Even if you are not a writer, this book is entertaining, informative, and honest. Three of my favorite words.
It’ll be March before you know it; and spring. I am so ready. I am beyond ready. This has been one of the strangest, coldest, weirdest winters ever, and I’m anxious to move on into leafy trees and rosebuds and daffodils and sunshine. Aren’t you?