Forthcoming from Bantam Dell in August 2009!
Forthcoming from Bantam Dell in August 2009!
That’s the only explanation I can come up with.
Some of you may recall my ongoing struggle to get anyone to come and take down two rotten (and large) pine trees in our back yard. Twice I had signed agreements, and checks written for obscene amounts, and twice the people failed to show (and subsequently failed to return repeated calls.)
This morning I had every intention of calling out yet another tree service to try and get the damn trees taken down, because I knew that I was rapidly approaching the point where the big tree that I was really worried about would be too rotten to climb and take down piece by piece. I knew that it would need to be taken down in this manner, because it is right next to the golf course, and I knew damn good and well that there was no way on god’s green earth that the golf course owners would take kindly to an enormous dead pine tree being dropped onto their precious green.
This morning I was sitting in my living room, checking my email, when I saw workmen in my back yard. I saw that one was carrying a chain saw and my first thought was that this was one of the tree companies who had bailed on me earlier. So, I hied myself out the back door, girded for battle, and then see that not only are there men with chain saws, but there’s a backhoe/tractor thing in my back yard, and several trucks parked on the golf course. ON the golf course. I changed what I was originally planning to say, and instead inquired politely what was going on? It turns out that the BIG tree is right on the border of golf course property, and so the golf course is taking it down. They whipped out their chain saws, shoved the backhoe against the tree, did some cutting, and then plopped that big ole tree right down onto the lovely green.
You can see how rotted the tree was. I’m still in shock that they came and took down this tree that I was so worried about–saving me not only a bunch of headache and grief, but also at least a thousand dollars. This is the second time that Jack and I have been exceedingly lucky when it comes to tree removal. We must have been amazingly good people in a previous life!
Okay, so I don’t actually live on a farm, but while I was in New York there seemed to be an underlying theme that I was a bit of a hayseed who was unfamiliar with many aspects of “Big City Life.” [g] I’ll admit–I got a stupid little charge out of being buzzed into Mary Robinette Kowal’s apartment, because I’ve only ever seen that done on TV. See? Hayseed! (And then I experienced some moments of Total Fail when trying to get on and off the elevator in her building, which caused John Scalzi no end of amusement.)
However, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the city, and from a purely professional point of view it was a complete success. I had extremely productive meetings with both my agent and my editor–my first time meeting either one face to face. To be honest, last week my enthusiasm for this trip had dimmed since it had originally been planned with both Jack and me going for several days, and had then morphed (post-Gustav) into just me going for only a couple of days. Jack was the one who had insisted that I should go, advising me (quite correctly) that there’s just no substitute for “face time.” You can have all of the email exchanges or phone conferences in the world, but it’s just not the same as getting to know someone in person. And he was absolutely right. Moreover, I believe that even if I had met either one at a convention, it still would have been worth making the special trip to New York, because this way I was able to spend several hours with each of them with essentially no distractions. Not only was there a great deal of professional-level discussion, but there was also the chance to really get to know the other party’s personality, which makes any relationship–business or personal–easier and more productive.
However, it wasn’t all business! Thursday night I hooked up with Lindsay and experienced Forbidden Planet, chocolate soup (and chocolate martinis!) at Max Brenner’s, the Village, New York-style pizza, and Lindsay’s unintentional impression of lemur. Oh. My. God. Fun!
Friday I spent the morning and early afternoon just wandering around, playing quasi-tourist. I walked from my hotel (on 31st St.) to Times Square (where I saw the Naked Cowboy,) and then on up to Central Park, then back to my hotel, where I collapsed for a while. I was supposed to meet my editor at her office at 5, so at 4:30 I went downstairs to get a cab–thinking (like a hayseed) that half an hour would be MORE than enough time to get there and would give me the chance to walk around a bit first. I did not understand that 4:30 is in the middle of rush hour, which translates into “no cabs available.” Twenty minutes later, and only with the help of a VERY determined bellhop (who I tipped ten bucks!), I finally climbed into a cab and made my way to the Random House offices. Fortunately, I managed to be only about five minutes late. Once there, I had a great sitdown with my editor, during which I got to see a preliminary mock-up of my cover art. (It’s AWESOME, by the way!) She then took me on a tour of the offices, which culminated in a visit to a room of free books. “Take all you want,” she urged, but all I could do was stare, slack-jawed, at the heaped treasure before me. She eventually just grabbed books and thrust them into my numb little hands.
Saturday I met up with Mary Robinette Kowal and John Scalzi, and we proceeded to brunch at a nice little diner on the upper west side–during which Mary took a nicely incriminating picture of John and me involving his sausage and my bacon. I’m not sure that there’s anything more that can be said about that.
And finally, Saturday afternoon I headed to the airport to return home. Unfortunately I did not have a direct flight on this leg of my journey, so I didn’t make it home until nearly midnight.
Now it’s back to the writing, so that I can justify more trips to the city.
I’m in New York! My flight up here was uneventful and I even managed to write about 3000 words during the flight–which was a surprise to me when I realized how much I’d written. I made it to my agent’s office within about an hour of landing, and proceeded to have a terrific meeting/talk which was briefly interrupted so that we could all relocate to a restaurant down the street where we continued to meet/talk. All told we met and talked for about three hours! Extremely awesome and fun.
I then made it to my hotel without incident where I was pleased to discover that the room was nice and clean and the wireless was free. I am now piddling around for another half hour or so, at which time I will leave and go meet Lindsay for more food and hot chocolate and any other coolness we can think of. Incriminating pictures to follow.
The waters have receded, the detritus has been cleaned up, I cycled 32 miles on Sunday and again on Tuesday, I’ve been writing like mad trying to finish up book 2, and I’m flying to NYC tomorrow morning to meet with agent and editor. Whee!
We definitely have tropical storm-force winds, though there’s been surprisingly little rain to go with them. However, the relative lack of rain has NOT meant that the water levels have stayed low. Yesterday at about 2pm I drove to Target for some shopping–taking a route that takes me through Madisonville and over the bridge for the Tchefunte river. The water looked a little bit higher than usual, but nothing too obscene. Around 4pm I took the same route to pick Anna up from after-care, and was shocked to see that the river was within inches of overflowing its banks and there was water threatening the roadway in several places. In two hours the water had risen at least four feet. Gotta love that storm surge! Later in the evening Jack and I went to an open house at Anna’s school, and on our way back home the river had most assuredly overflown its banks, and cars were parked all along the roadway as the people who lived in the area relocated their vehicles in an attempt to avoid the flooding.
Fortunately, our house is nice and high. For our house to flood would require a storm surge at least ten feet higher than the one Katrina produced. That being said, we STILL carry flood insurance, cuz you just never know.
In other news, I finished the first round of revisions that my editor wanted. They ended up being more complicated than originally expected because my editor pointed out a couple of serious timeline and consistency issues which required a couple of days of serious email-back-and-forth brainstorming to find a fix. I should also mention here that I am head over heels in LOVE with my editor right now, because even though I ended up with a lot of rewriting to do, there wasn’t a single suggested change that altered the premise or heart or feel of my story, and, in fact, everything she suggested only served to make the book better, stronger, and more of what I was trying to make it. I am so so so SO lucky to have an editor this awesome!
Since those revisions are done and the book has been sent back to my editor for the next round of red ink, I’m turning my focus back to book two in the series, of which I’m really hoping to have the first draft finished by mid-October at the latest. The cool thing, though, about going through the revisions and brainstorming with my editor for book one, is how much I learned about process and foundation and background–steps that my editor forced me to take while we were working out solutions to the issues the first book had. Suddenly I can see ways to solve the problems I was having with book two–which are based in the same issues (lack of foundation and background) that I ran into with the first book. I’m becoming a much better writer as a result, which I think is, ya know, kinda cool.
The outer edges of Ike are being to lick us. The wind has picked up considerably and there’ve been a few scattered thunderstorms. So far it looks like the New Orleans area is going to avoid hurricane-force winds from this storm unless it somehow decides to take a sharp right turn in the next few hours. We are, however, supposed to get tropical storm-force winds, and I’m nervously eyeing the two dead trees in my back yard which are STILL standing because yet another [expletive deleted] tree service didn’t show up when scheduled and is now not returning my phone calls. The one that I’m most worried about is a ginormous pine that has a slight lean toward the golf course, so I’m crossing fingers that if it does snap off that it does so into the sandtrap that is conveniently placed right behind it, and not into my house or my writing lair.
It doesn’t look like the weather is going to allow me to go cycling tomorrow morning either. I’ve become slightly addicted to my long rides. Not only do I burn a zillion frickin calories during two hours of cycling, but it’s also a wonderful stretch of time where I have few distractions and my mind can wander. It’s been great for when I’ve run into a brick wall with my writing and need to figure a way out of the plot hole I’ve dug myself into. And on Wednesday I managed to come up with a neato idea for another series–and by the end of twenty six miles I had a basic plotline mentally mapped out. If this keeps up I may have to start bringing my digital recorder along–though the playback might be a bit difficult to listen to: “[pant pant] Okay, so there are these [gasp for breath] dominatrix exorcists. ..Oh look! A bunny! Shit, there’s a car coming..[pant pant]”
I’ve only watched the first five minutes so far, but I just need to say:
ALL SOUTHERN ACCENTS ARE NOT ALIKE!!!
That overblown drippy southern magnolia honey-chile accent that all actors and actresses assume to be the default “southern accent’ is NOT universal, and especially not in Louisiana–much less NORTH Louisiana. Gah!
I wish it wasn’t so frickin’ rare for a southern accent to be portrayed accurately according to what part of the south the show is supposed to be set in.
Long long day yesterday. My sister picked us up at the Gulfport ,MS airport and we made it home by about 11pm. Anna was dead to the world.
Somehow I left my phone in my sister’s car, so I need to drive to Slidell to retrieve it at some point today. But first we need to retrieve our car from the New Orleans airport parking lot. In the meantime I’ve been sweating my ass off cleaning up all of the leaves, pine cones, branches, and downed limbs in our yard. At least I’m making up for all of the overeating I did this weekend!
I’m sick of my hurrication. I was sick of it yesterday. We’re all tired and stressed and sick of being squeezed into a hotel room together. We’re pretty much out of clean clothes, and this hotel doesn’t have laundry facilities. Nor does it have working internet in our hotel room. It’s supposed to have free ethernet internet, but it crapped out our second day, so I have to go down to the lobby every time I want to get online, which has made it a pain in the ass to figure out our travel arrangements. Our flight out on Tuesday was cancelled, so we changed it to today. Now it too has been cancelled, so we’ve changed to a flight that gets into Gulfport, MS. It leaves at 3:30 and gets in a 9:30. Nearly a four hour layover in Charlotte. With a four year old. Our car is at the New Orleans airport. I’m behind on my revisions. I’ve gained weight. I don’t want to look at my American Express bill.
On the other hand, we’ve been assured that our house is intact. I’m more than ready to see for myself.