Frenching AnneMarie or The Reason I Haven’t Blogged

I’m working on four books. Four freaking books at once.

No, it wasn’t a plan. Do I look insane?

I was supposed to be done with all of them and starting a fifth by now. I don’t know what happened. Well, yes I do.

There was Agnes. She was due August first. Trouble ensued. Now she’s not due until October first. I’m not even looking at her until Monday.

Then there was Mare. She was due April first. Trouble ensued. Then she was due August first. My editor gave birth and moved. She’d just as soon not see Mare right now until her head stops exploding so we have another week or so. We’re using it.

Then there’s Daisy. I wrote her ten years ago. She’s going to be re-issued. She needs spiffed up. Thinking that Agnes and Mare would be out the door by August 1, I promised that editor she’d be done by August 15. Not so much.

Then there’s Trudy. Trudy is done, but once a book’s in the pipeline, it returns in the form of copy edits which must be read and corrected. So I’m in Atlanta at RWA National, going out to dinner with the St. Martin’s people including a lovely marketing director, let’s call her AnneMarie, and I come down to meet her, full of goodwill and ready for a really expensive meal, dressed to kill and she hands me a padded envelope and says, “Here are your ‘Hot Toy’ copy edits.”

I said, “This is a joke, right?”

She said, “Unfortunately, no. I’m sorry.”

I said, “Did you bring the red pen?”

She said, “You don’t have a red pen with you?”

Later in the evening, during an entirely different conversation, she said, “You know, I’m not really one of those huggy, kissy people. People come up to me at conferences and want to hug and kiss, and I just don’t like it.”

I said, “I’m gonna french you over dessert.”

That evening turned out to be one of those delightful, delicious, bizarre meals. I love the people who were there, and the food was incredible, but as the wine was lavish, and as I am currently on medication that prevents me from drinking, it became more and more like a modern drama as they got happier and happier and I stayed stone cold sober.

At one point, my very adult and intelligent daughter frowned and said very clearly, “I don’t like beets.”

The entire table considered that, and then my mass market publisher nodded and said, “I DO like beets.”

I waited a moment, but they were all pondering that, so I said, “And right now, somebody is envying me because I’m having dinner with a bunch of elite New York publishing intellectuals.”

AnneMarie laughed so hard she choked, which she deserved.

Where was I? Right. Four books.

I’m just telling you this because somebody is going to say, “You know, she hasn’t blogged anywhere for awhile.” Yeah, I know, but trust me, I’m working. I’m diagramming structure. I’m e-mailing with collaborators, I’m double-checking things on the internet, I”m running spell checks, I’m rewriting like mad. Come late 2006, 2007, you’re not going to be able to spit without hitting a book with my name on it.

Of course, by then I’ll be curled up under my desk, sobbing and twitching, but by damn, I’ll have gotten these four books done.

In the meantime, if you see AnneMarie, give her a big kiss from me.

This just in from the infamous Needles, aka Kim C. of St. Martin’s Press:

“You should know that AMT handing you the page proofs at the conference was totally my fault. I figured why have them sit on your porch getting rained on and chewed on by wild birds when I could get her in trouble? Needles strikes again.”

I’d say, “If you see Needles, give her a big kiss for me,” but she’d enjoy it. Sigh. Never mind.

I just sent the Trudy galleys (not copy edit) to Needles. She was threatening me.
One down, three to go. (For those of you keeping track, it’s August 8th.)

Mare is out the door. (August 18th.)

Terry Brooks, The Dark Side

Okay, that title is a bait and switch. Terry Brooks doesn’t have a dark side. Well, he’s not pretty when he’s mad, but he only gets mad for good reason, and I take good care not to be one of those reasons, so I’m here to tell you, Terry Brooks is not only a scholar and a gentleman, he’s a cupcake.

We all just spent the weekend at the Surrey International Writers Conference (or the Surrey Writers International Conference, I’m a little fuzzy on the details) which was a lot of fun, not just because the conference was well-organized,–although it was, very–but because there were such good people there. Like Terry and Judine Brooks. And Don and Carol McQuinn. And Jo Beverley and Don Maass and. . .

And it occurs to me that I really should get some friends who aren’t in the publishing industry. The thing is, I have to write all the time, and then, as part of the career, I go to writers conferences, so it’s pretty much publishing 24/7. Which can be a very good thing because there are so many good people out there, like the Brookses and the McQuinns and a terrific writer named Brooke, who showed up for her fifteen-minute critique appointment and said, “I love your books. Can we just make out?’ And you know, there just aren’t enough people who ask me that. So I said yes.

Where was I? Right. Surrey. So all I do is write and all I see are writers, but then I get to see the country, too, right? Or in this case, Canada? Well, no. I love British Columbia but I didn’t get to see much of it since it was all airports, highways, and hotels, your basic conference experience. Next year Bob and I are going to fly into Seattle and see people there (more writers, but enough name-dropping already) and then drive up because it’s supposed to be two and a half hours of gorgeous scenery with a time-out to get strip-searched by Customs at the border. Bob and I are pretty sure we can make two and a half hours in a car together without killing each other, although if he shows up at the Surrey hotel next year without me, do not believe any stories about me deciding to leave the trip halfway through, I will have been shoved out along the highway, screaming. Probably on the Canadian side; he’ll wait until after the strip search, just for the entertainment value.

So it’s always writers, which is probably not healthy but is definitely fun because we talk about work and about each other—here’s a surprise, writers gossip—and the big news this year was that Bob flew in early to do a master class and somebody stole his laptop. Because he’s Bob, he’d backed up everything onto the hard drive before he left, so he didn’t lose anything except a very nice Mac G4, but to add insult to injury, they took his teaching notes, too. And I realize later, a lot of rash e-mails from me that I am now praying will not end up on the internet. No, not that kind. The kind where I sob and scream that my career is over. The kind where I rage at Bob for something he’s done that was bad but not that bad. The kind where I say indiscreet things about people who are not Terry Brooks. That kind. But I’m pretty sure he doesn’t save my e-mails. Hell, he doesn’t even read most of them, especially the long ones. I can say obscene and terrifying things to him, and as long as I put them in the second paragraph, he’ll e-mail back and say, “OK.” For a while he was saying “PK” which drove me crazy because I didn’t know what it meant until he explained that it was a typo for “OK.” I figured it was arcane Special Forces code. It was quite a letdown.

Where was I? Right, in Surrey with Terry Brooks. Terry gave a great keynote about finding time to write. He was pretty vehement about it. He also asked the room to sing Happy Birthday to Bob (it was his birthday Friday) which I had NOTHING to do with. Much. My keynote ripped off Chris Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, but I said it was a rip-off and mentioned Chris’s name loudly, so I think that makes it okay. And Bob compared writing to jumping out of an airplane and it was damn good. The best part about all three was that we all sat at the same table so we could heckle. And in Bob’s case, whine, because there was a program when I did my keynote because the awards had been given the night before so they printed up the winners for the night I spoke, which meant there was a piece of paper that said, “Keynote: Jennifer Crusie.” Bob decided if he didn’t get a program with his name on it, he wasn’t doing his keynote the next morning. I wasn’t worried; Bob has the short term memory of a fruit fly. Sure enough, the next morning he got up there and wowed the crowd even though there was no program. My writing partner: I think I’ll keep him.

So I got to talk to a lot of great people about their books and have breakfast with ten Cherries and brainstorm more of Agnes on Sunday afternoon, and now I’m home and I have to finish Trudy and write Agnes’s first scene and collage Mare and get Charlotte organized. So basically, it’s still writing and writers, 24/7. Fortunately for me, that’s a damn good life and a damn good bunch of people.

Especially Terry Brooks, who is wonderful. No dark side at all. Really.