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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back to the salt mines soon, but not yet...

As I continue my little series of posts on the things we writers do after we turn in our manuscripts, I see a little blot of work approaching on my calendar. I got an email from my editor with some overview-type comments on Saturday. She said that the edited manuscript was in the mail to me. This means that there's some work winging its way in my direction, but it ain't here yet.

So what did I do today? I took my daughter swimming. I've lived in this town since 1987 and I've never been to the big public pool at Westside Park. So we pulled on our bathing suits and drove over there. (No, there will be no photodocumentation.) I swam a few laps. (Very few.) We laid out in the sun, which is a pointless endeavor in these cancer-sensitive times when even the weakest tanning oil is SPF 8, but we did it anyway. It was fabulous.

I've been too busy luxuriating in the feeling of finishing two books to actually blog about how wonderful it is, so maybe I'll stretch this series out through next week, when I'll be working on those edits. Maybe it will assuage the pain if I take occasional breaks to reminisce with you people about time spent frolicking and carefree.

Since I elected not to burn your retinas with photos from our pool jaunt, I'll close with photos of something else pleasant with which I've occupied my time: my little granddaughter. :) In the meantime, I think I'll do something pointless like organize the sheet music that I've been accumulating since I was eight...

Mary Anna

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm still not working! This is great!

Gardening is one fun activity that I didn't set aside in order to finish Plunder. I have a suburban back yard that's small but sunny, and this is my fourth summer to have a garden. Every March, I get cocky and make it bigger. Every July, Mother Nature expresses her amusement by sending me pickleworms and weeds and powdery mildew and bacterial wilt and just enough tasty vegetables to make me want to keep trying.

I planted a lot of tomatoes, because they're my favorite, but I'm just getting a small but steady stream of them. The zucchini and yellow squash plants look horrible and disease-ridden, but they're managing to make a few fruits a week and I just can't bear to yank them out of the ground when they're trying so hard. For the third year in a row, I've got a beautiful crop of peppers, both sweet and hot. The pole beans and okra are producing so little that I've got a bag of both kinds of pods in the refrigerator. I'm hoping to collect enough of them to cook before the oldest things in the bags die of old age. The black-eyed peas and eggplant are starting to come in, and they're delicious. But the surprise has been the cucumbers. I've got two measly little cucumber plants, but they're making more than my tiny household can eat.

So I made pickles! Bread-and-butter pickles, to be exact. I'm not buried in cucumbers, so I didn't have enough to make a great big pile of pickles. Just six jars. But they're good! I used the standard recipe that shows up in all the southern cookbooks, but I threw in some sweet and hot peppers, because I had some in the garden. And nobody at our house likes celery, so I left out the celery seed and increased the mustard seed instead.

I learned that making pickles at midnight is way more fun than editing your own manuscript for the fifth time at midnight. Here's the photographic proof. (Minus the jar that's in the refrigerator, because we already opened it and started eating...)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back from the great beyond...though perhaps temporarily...

I submitted the manuscript for Plunder late Wednesday night. Yay!

I've either been working on that book or thinking about working on that book or feeling guilty about working on that book since...well, I'm not sure how long. Stress and terror tend to make one lose one's sense of time, so I can't tell you exactly. I signed the contract over a year ago...I think...and kablooie. Daily crises erupted for the entirety of 2010, and all of a sudden it was June 2011 and I was looking at a deadline that was pushed back twice. I'm obsessive about deadlines and asking for extensions made me absolutely nuts.

Compounding the problem was that I signed another contract more than a year ago, to co-write a book on math literacy. We turned in the manuscript in April but, you guessed it, that deadline had already been shoved back when we did so. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to know that I have two completed manuscripts, and that they're both on their editors' desks. And not mine.

They'll both be coming back for final edits. And again, for me to review the copyedits. Still it's easier to fix something than to create it from scratch. For good or ill, those books are written. Until they come back, my time is my own.

So what did I do to celebrate? Well, I spent all of Thursday cleaning off my desk and filing the paperwork that had accumulated in a towering mound on top of it. The fact that this felt fantastic, kinda like scratching an itch, is a symptom of my mental state for the past year.

What? You were expecting drunkenness and debauchery. Clearly, you're reading the wrong blog. But if you can do without drunkenness and debauchery, I'll keep you posted on what I'm doing to enjoy my brief window of freedom.

In that spirit, would you take a look at this desk???