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Archive for April, 2010

Meredith Duran, I have a deadline.  I’ll grant you have no reason to have been aware of this.  But Meredith Duran, I signed my name to a contract promising to deliver a full manuscript to my editor by a not-so-very-far-off date, and in addition to this I have certain Promotional Efforts on which to embark, and any day now I expect to be confronted with copy edits for my first book, and all in all, it is a most inconvenient time for me to contend with the outrageously alluring distraction of a brand-new book by you, Meredith Duran.

I went to the Barnes & Noble today on legitimate business, which took me legitimately into the heart of the Romance section, where I sent one careless glance to the D part of the New Releases shelves, just to assure myself that Wicked Becomes You was sold out and I couldn’t get a copy even if I wished.

It was not sold out.  There was one copy left.  One pristine copy and it was glowing, faintly, the way only the last-in-stock of something can do.

I have a Target Daily Word Count, Meredith Duran.  I have a spreadsheet that re-calculates that Target Daily Word Count based on actual figures that I input each day, and this spreadsheet strongly suggests I cannot afford to lose time right now to reading your book, re-reading the best parts, and then lying around in an unproductive funk as I contemplate the gulf between your writing ability and mine, while morosely consuming off-brand cheese curls.

But the fact is I blacked out at the Barnes & Noble, or something, and came to with Wicked Becomes You in my bag and on my receipt.  So perhaps you think you have had the better of me.

But listen, Meredith Duran:  I bought that book twelve hours ago and I have not yet so much as looked at the back-cover copy.  Do you know why?  Because I have locked it in my DESK.  My desk at WORK, Meredith Duran.  And that is just where it will stay, glowing faintly at me every time I open that drawer, until I feel I can give it the attention it demands without jeopardizing my deadline.

Which I expect will be right about the time you release your next book.

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Yesterday I had my second photography session, necessitated by the fact that my shots from the original session were lost when my photographer’s studio was robbed.  I think – fingers crossed – it went better this time.  The first time I just felt like I was squirming, nonstop, under that dreadful sense of exposure that comes (to me, anyway) with having a big old camera lens trained on you.

And I couldn’t figure out how to produce a realistic smile, the first time.  I’ve read that, on the old Mr. Ed show, the way they created the talking-horse special effect was by manipulating the horse’s lips via little hooks with invisible lines attached.  That’s what I felt like, the other week:  like someone had set hooks at the corners of my mouth and was tugging on them every time I was supposed to smile.

I was determined not to repeat that.  So this past week I, um, watched America’s Next Top Model.  Okay, actually I often watch America’s Next Top Model.  One of my great mundane pleasures is watching trash tv with my smart, snarky teenage daughters.  Smart snarky Prima and I bond over Gossip Girl; smart snarky Seconda keeps me company for The Bachelor and ANTM.

And if you’re familiar with ANTM, you know that at the end, when the aspirants appear before Tyra Banks for their critique, she always finds opportunities to show them how much better she can do whatever they did.  “See, you had your chin like…” [demonstrates] “…where if you’d gone like…” [demonstrates, with a flourish]  “See the difference?”

Usually this segment is one big snarkfest for me and Seconda (a flannel-shirt-&-Vans kinda girl).  This week I kept up my end of the snark while secretly taking notes:  “Oh, my God, can you just get on with it and tell them they’re going to New Zealand?”   Don’t lose your neck…must remember this… “If she says ‘smile with your eyes’ one more time, I’m going to scream.”   Okay, how exactly do you smile with your eyes?

My photographer remarked on how much more “present” I seemed this time.  I copped to having watched America’s Next Top Model for research and she thought it was a hoot.  Whether it actually resulted in a decent picture remains to be seen…

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Good Lord, as all the characters in my books are wont to say.  My photographer was robbed.  Days after she tried her painstaking best to get a good shot of me, someone broke into her studio and stole, among other things, her computer with all my photos.

So now I have to re-live the whole miserable photo-session experience.  Though seriously, that’s not as bad as being robbed.  (Everything was insured, so that part of it’s okay.)

And somewhere out there is some schmuck with a hard drive with lots of photos of me and my cheesy attempt at a smile.  Hope you enjoy them, schmuck!

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There are a lot of things at which I’m fairly hopeless.  Anything that requires upper-body strength, for example.  Higher mathematics, and things that look like it.  (Computer programming; chemistry formulas.)  Bowling, although maybe I already covered that under Upper Body Strength.

But yesterday I went to a photographer to get my official author photo done (I’m actually required, by my contract, to provide one), and I realized that looking into a camera, and producing a natural-looking smile or credible facial expression of any kind, may be the single thing at which I am most inept.

It shouldn’t be so difficult, right?  I mean, I do smile in real life, sometimes.  And this poor photographer, bless her patient heart, was trying everything she could think of to coax some warm, genuine animation into my face.  She told me to think about a nice vacation I’d been on.  She told me to think about something at which I felt competent.  She told me to think about my kids.

And I tried, but it’s really hard to think about anything when someone’s pointing a gigantic camera lens at you.  Besides, my pleasant thoughts, by and large, are perfectly content to rattle around inside my skull.  Forget wearing emotions on your sleeve; most of mine don’t even make it to my face.

So I’ll be interested to see what kind of shots she got out of this session.  I suspect I’ll look at the smiling ones and think “Who the heck is that?”

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Holy Toledo.  Mary Balogh read my book.  That fact alone is sufficiently mind-blowing.

But the reason she read it is because my editor sent it to her in hopes of getting some nice words to put on my cover.  And she did have nice things to say!  And the nice thing that will go on the cover is:

“A marvelous gem of a book… I loved it!”

When I first started writing, it was trad Regencies I was aiming for and I basically wanted to be Mary Balogh.  Her books are so full of heart and she flat-out owns the sub-sub genre of the Christmas novella.  To have her name on the cover of my debut is a thrill beyond anything I dreamed of.

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