Go buy this and read it!

My friend Ashley March’s second novel, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, hit bookshelves and ebook sales sites on Tuesday. I’m new at having friends who write books, and I have to say, I love it. I was genuinely thrilled for Ashley, who is a lovely person and a terrific writer. I admit that although I am busily reading THE HELP for my book club meeting next week—I read at a pace that can only be described as glacial—I’ve been simultaneously sneaking peeks at Ashley’s book. Such are the perils of reading on a Nook, as I merely have to touch the screen and PRESTO! a different book appears. I have since beaten my wandering eyes into submission and am completely committed to finishing THE HELP before reading any more of Ashley’s book. No really, I am. Honest. No matter how tempting Ashley’s prose… Probably.

Transmission of...something Soviet?

Curiously, my car is helping out on this. It started leaking transmission fluid not long ago, so it’s in the shop all weekend long. ALL WEEKEND. I’m too cheap to rent a car, and public transportation in suburban Denver, by and large, sucks, especially on weekends. As a result, by rights I ought to get a ton of reading and writing done this weekend, as I am essentially on house arrest. (My bike’s tires are flat. Which I’ve been meaning to correct all summer. Oops.) Oh and my husband has rehearsals, so he’s no help whatsoever. But thanks to him I now know the harmony to more Sondheim songs from “Assassins,” so that’s a bonus.

A visual metaphor for my plot knot.

Good thing I have all this quality time at home, because I’m struggling with the beginning of my second book, LOVE IN THE TIME OF COLIC. I thought I had it all figured out in the first draft, but then I read it over, and it needs some help. NOT that I didn’t expect to have to revise it, for heaven’s sake. But I’ve been pondering this for some time. My car helped with this last evening when I walked home from the park-n-ride because I had to take the train and the bus home from work. (Side note: I worried about this walk, even though it’s in a friendly suburb bursting with chain restaurants, on a major road with sidewalks as wide as freeways. I am so suburbanized! When I was in New York, I walked everywhere, walked home all the time. It took me an hour last night—the same amount of time it used to take me in Manhattan to walk home! And yet, last night I felt I should have been awarded a medal when I got to my cul-de-sac. What a wuss I have become!) I had that hour to think about my book and the plot and the opening, which helped. Still don’t feel like I’ve nailed it, but now I’m to the point where I just throw those plotorial (NOT a real word) spaghetti noodles at the wall and see which ones stick. Ah, my love/hate relationship with writing. It’s mostly love, but I’m feeling some unwelcome attitude from my story right about now.

And as always, thank you for your support!

  • THROWN in all its hard-copy glory

    I’m sipping a flute of Prosecco as I write this. Not an unusual event for me, but tonight it’s for a reason. Here’s the deal. Yesterday I got an email from someone I didn’t know with the subject: Query: THROWN. I figured it was my first full-on rejection from an agent.

    Happily, I was stupendously wrong.

    It was a request for a “full,” or a complete manuscript! I read it over and over to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me (after all, my Lasik has seen better days). When I was sure it was true, I read it several times over just because I was so excited. A FULL! This means the agent read the approximately 55 pages I’d sent last week (just last week—these people were on the ball) and liked it enough to ask for the rest. Mind you, agents typically don’t get paid for reading manuscripts. Their days are filled with taking care of their current clients, so they read submissions from new writers after hours and on weekends. In other words, for an agent to request a full means she thinks enough of your writing to commit to reading it in her free time.

    This particular agent doesn’t accept email submissions, so I had to go old school. I printed out the whole thing—all 360-something pages, one sided (sorry, trees!). It’s 1.75″ thick! (Of COURSE I measured.) I went to UPS, plopped my baby in a manuscript box and sent it on its way. I got to write “REQUESTED” on the label in red marker, the magic word that gets your manuscript one of the best tables in the restaurant, as it were.

    This was the first time I’d ever printed out my manuscript one-sided. Is it bad that I enjoyed printing it out because I could read snippets as it came out of the printer, and also because it made my work tangible, a thing to give to someone else? This is, by the by, the traditional way to present a manuscript to an agent. As I walked across the parking lot to the UPS store, all I could think of was the last scene in “Wonder Boys” where the wind scatters the book manuscript. Although it was windy, my pages all made it into the box unscathed.

    What’s next? I wait. The email said I’d hear back in six to eight weeks, so by Halloween, I should know if it’s thumbs up or down. I am again reminded of the glacial pace of publishing, but who cares? SHE ASKED FOR A FULL!!

    P.S. For those of you wondering if Galley’s picture made it into the Nutmeg Portuguese Water Dog calendar…it did! (See previous post for details.)