July 21-26, 2010:

A very busy six days, both personally and book-wise.

Books:

I was mostly head down in the novel–Snow in Summer–and went from the 22,000 words of the last report here to 32,000 and heading toward the ending which will probably be about 5-10,000 more words. Along the way, I have twice upped the age of the main character and may need to do it again. That turns out to mean  quite a lot of juggling but I see that I cannot (for the plot’s sake) let my main character remain with the miners for two years as the villain will have already killed her father if that happens, which spoils the happy ending of the book. So it has to be days, not years before the wicked Stepmama makes her move.

I also received 7 (count ’em) rejections on one day as editors were cleaning out their in-boxes. To be fair, that was only two editors, both of whom had a number of manuscripts and these were long-shots anyway. But I am truly tired of people saying how well I write.  implying that the market doesn’t support well-written books any more.

Some grand reviews of books. And also the producers who wanted to make a musical of Hippolyta paid up with real money, so maybe it will happen. (I never believe these things until they’re actually on stage!)

Personal:

George the gull’s health and happiness have been consuming much of my emotional time. I have fed him, been driven away from him by his watchful mum, and after seeing a baby gull killed by a driver on Market Street by the mercat cross in St Andrews, I have been taking rather good care of him. I know the residents of the seacoast villages consider all gulls flying vermin, but they are a protected species now. George is beginning to fly a bit and soon he will leave (like all teens) but I will be glad he is okay on his own.

An old friend’s wife has died after a long and lingering and terrible illness. And when I heard, I wrote a poem for him because that was the only thing I could do. I know all too well he has a long and awful road ahead.

A Friend’s Late Wife

She looks out of the photo,

past her husband, past the viewer,

as if her eyes, those lovely eyes,

are set on a farther shore.

She is not late but early,

the first to go,

all left behind forgotten:

bags, houses, clothes, books,

dog, children,  grandchildren,

you.

In her eagerness to  leave,

she has left love as well,

not needing it where she is going,

though you need it most of all.

On the 22nd, I walked a part of the Fife Coastal Path with my friends Janie Douglas and Pam Robertson, a six mile round trip up and over a long hill. It was a gorgeous day and the coastal views were phenomenal. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, though I could feel it in my shins for two days after.

I went to see Toy Story 3 with Nora which was delightful, and the next evening met Claire G at the Byre Theater for a quick dinner and then to see the play “The Importance of Being Oscar,” which was an interesting one-man play about Oscar Wilde. And of course had at least one dinner at Debby and Bob’s.

Read another Anita Shreve novel and now am deep into the Philippa Gregory novel  The White Queen (about the Lancaster/York wars.)

Finis.

P.S. If you want me to do some Interstitial Moments question-answering, you need to send me questions I can expand on. Thanks!


July 17-20, 2010:

I was determined with the house empty to return in depth to the revision of the first 20 chapters of Snow in Summer. And  did (more about that later), but I also had a lot of other work to tidy up, including revising for a last time the short story “Dog Boy Remembers” which is based on a character in Except the Queen, dealing with last revisions on Last Laughs and on Last Dragon (boy I hope they don’t come out in the same season!), and on Twinspiration. There was the pdf of the new book with Jason to deal with as well–Birds of a Feather. And a final small pass to answer about a half-dozen copyeditor questions on Bad Girls. Also, I did two email interviews. Whew, I think I’ve remembered everything.

Now, I don’t expect any reader of this journal to feel sorry for me, but it’s one of the difficulties of being a prolific writer. (Though I hate the word “prolific”, preferring instead the word “versatile.” But in this case, it’s the prolificity that’s the problem.) Every editor I work with seems to have the same rhythm and gets back to me with quick questions and needs a quick turn-around at the same time.

Now to the problems with the novel: afraid I have not made the villain do bad things for real reasons, I had to go back in and adjust and then re-adjust stuff. I needed to give the setting a shaking up and paint a more realistic picture of West Virginia in the 1930s. And I was balking at the next difficult chapter. Procrastinators R Us. In doing all this, I added another 2500 or so words to the manuscript so far, so that at a little over halfway through, the book is 25,000 words long.

So I was head-down writing much of these past four days, with the exception of a dinner with Bob and Debby, tea at Rufflets with Janie and Pam and Pam’s friend. And a hair cut.

I also read two so-so mystery novels, two interesting graphic novels, and watched a tiny bit of tv. Spent time feeding the baby gull, George, who’d fallen off the roof, much to the distress of his parents. (And me!)

But otherwise, it was work, work, work.

Plus one rejection letter and one exciting acceptance which, when it is tied down tight, I will talk about here on the journal at some length.

July 1-16, 2010:

Apologies, apologies, apologies. I plead tourist insanity. I plead business. I plead sluggishness, I plead exhaustion, I plead. . .the Fifth.

And of course I cannot remember all that has happened in the past sixteen days, so this will perforce be a quick catchup.

First touristy stuff: As the girls were here for two weeks, of course I had to do stuff with them, complicated by the fact that Heidi really didn’t know how to drive on the left side of the road. So if there was driving to be done, I had to go with them. So close to home, we went to the East Neuk–Anstruther, Crail (and Crail pottery), walking in St. Andrews one day, with Marianna to the Wemyss caves and pictish stones in Lindores and Strathmiglo another day. Heidi an Maddison went several more walks around St A on their own, and three times into Edinburgh on the train, only once when I went with them.

And then we took a wonderful trip to Skye, though it was mitigated  by a blown tire in Crieff and then some sideways rain the first night we were on the island, staying at a friend’s house. But we had a lovely day out the next day with actual sun: seeing Dunvegan Castle, the marvelous water garden, some ruined churches, and a terribly spooky drive to visit a site that our host insisted we mustn’t miss. The road there was a terrifying one track, night was falling, and the mist rolled in so thick, we couldn’t see more a foot or two in front of us. We came to a huge hill that could have taken us into Hell or over a cliff, for all we knew. Dear Readers, we turned back.

Next day, Eileen Donan Castle, then off to Inverness for Urquart Castle, then Dunkeld’s ruined church, and home. Whew.

Two days later we went to the Borders, and had our best day out yet: Direlton Castle, Tantallon Castle, the N Berwick seabird center, and a trip by boat around the Bass Rock, the greatest gannetry in the world.

Home again that same day, and after another trip for them into Edinburgh, another walk about in St A, their last day here we had afternoon tea at Rufflets, the weather being perfect we sat in the formal gardens.

They left, the British Open tourists and the rain and gales rolled in. I stayed at home after that to write.

Writing: I wrote three drafts of  a new Dino book (Birthday), did editorial revisions for Last Laughs, Twinspiration, Birds of a Feather. Wrote a short story based on one my characters from Except the Queen, called “Dog Boy Remembers” (3,000 words), started another short story I’d be writing with Adam. Retold the final Jewish folktale for Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts. Whew, a lot to do in a few short days.

Got my first copy of Hush Little Horsie which, since it was dedicated to my friend Nora here, I got to give her the evening we went off to see Shrek 3, which we both enjoyed.

Signed several small contracts for short story reprints, fielded a request from an Italian publisher possibly interested in Briar Rose and said yes to the small Hungarian offer for the same book.

And finally–finally–began to rewrite the first 22,000+ words of the novel, Snow in Summer which contractually I have to finish by summer’s end. Fiddled, twiddled, tarted it up and pared it down, and the first 11 chapters (of the 20 already written became 23,000+. I hope this weekend to finish up and solve my major problem with it, so I can  push ahead next week on the book since my visitors are gone. And no new visitors due until mid August. So a whole month to myself. Whew.

 

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