Tuesday, May 31, 2005


"When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's work is all I can permit myself to contemplate."

John Steinbeck

Halfway Through

That’s it.  I’m halfway through the first rewrite.  And I’m quitting until Thursday.

Monday, May 30, 2005

No Holiday For Me

Hope you all had a good time.  I was at my computer all weekend while you were cooking hotdogs and swimming and playing whatever people play these days.

I did have one evening.  But my days have been right here at this keyboard.  I guess I’m about halfway through the rewrite.

I have to confess I will be taking Weds. off as it’s my birthday.  Don’t ask. Just know I deserve it.

I’m finding this process of my first rewrite very valuable.  I use that word because I’m learning things about writing as I go.  It’s never over, folks. 



Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Third Review

This is the most important one before publication. It’s in a magazine called Publisher’s Weekly. The other day, on another site, people were saying things like they’d never read a book that had a quote from PW and other negative stuff about the magazine. I don’t know if they were joking or not, but I hope they were because a good review from PW is used by librarians, bookstores, and very often gone over by the movie people.

I got a starred review. This makes it special. It was one of the best reviews I’ve ever gotten, if not the best. It’s made me very happy. It’s made my agent very happy. And it’s made my publisher ecstatic. This is good.

When I saw the fax I couldn’t believe it. I walked around the house. Then I ate a piece of candy. It was hard to go back to work but I did.

So waiting for the pre pub stuff is over. And I nailed two out of three. Not bad.

The Booklist review for This Dame For Hire is posted at Amazon. I imagine the PW one will be there eventually. Feast your eyes.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Terrible Noise on my Roof

Fortunately, the people who are putting a new roof on my house warned me that there was no way I’d be able to think while they did this. 

Today I’m beginning to put changes and make more changes back into the computer. I like this part of the process a great deal.  What I don’t like is having to do this somewhere else.  I’m lucky I have a laptop.

First I booked the Study Room in my library for today and tomorrow.  But it didn’t feel right at all.  So I called a friend who works at a normal job and I’m going to be able to work at his house.  It doesn’t feel great but it’s better than the library.

The roof people have started and I’m so glad I’m leaving.  No way could I think with all this banging and blue sheets wrapped around my study so I can’t have air and feel totally claustrophobic.

If this post is a mess it’s because I really can’t think.



Friday, May 20, 2005


"I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, 'To hell with you.'"

Saul Bellow

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Big Read

I finished reading the manuscript today. Good thing I like rewriting. I’ll be doing a lot of it.

I’ve convinced myself that at this stage with This Dame For Hire I didn’t feel so horrified by what I’d written. I’d sold “Dame” on the first 100 pages so it wasn’t that I had a “will I sell it or won’t I?” problem. In fact, I don’t believe I had any problem with it. But somewhere I know that can’t be true. One, I would’ve been worried about the rest of the book being as well done as those 100 pages. Still, I don’t think it was this big of a hodgepodge. Hodgepodge? I’ve never used that expression in my life. It’s obviously out of anxiety. Two, the first of any series is the easiest, I think.

This novel is also pre-sold. But it can’t be a mess. And I don’t want it to be. My first reader will help me a lot. And then I have a very fine editor at Ballantine, so I know I’ll get help there if I need it.

But most of all I have to calm down. It’ll work out. It always does.

Sometimes better than others.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


That’s what it is.  I’m almost finished reading it and the mistakes and repetitions are  horrible.  If I didn’t know better I’d think I’d written this drunk.  I’ll finish this phase of the process tomorrow.  And next comes putting changes in the computer and rewriting where I’ve indicated.

It really does seem to be an awful mess.  Except the dialogue.  But even that has me baffled in some places like this:

    “They only came up once when she told me they didn’t speak to her sister anymore.”           

    “She got any brothers or sisters?”


I mean really. The same page?  The next sentence?


You see now what I’m up against?


Monday, May 16, 2005

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Penultimate Chapter

Yup.  I wrote that today.  But the strangest part was I wrote 10 pages.  This after saying I can’t do that anymore.  Saying that I write maybe 5 a day and if I’m lucky 6.  It’s still the truth.  This was an anomaly.  I don’t think I’ve written 10 pages in one session since I was in my early thirties.

But the real point is that I have one short chapter to go.  I think it’ll be short.  If not I’ll do it tomorrow and Friday.  And I’ll be finished….

…. with the first draft.  Then I’ll have my outline.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Eking it Out

Why is it so damn hard?  The part I was working on should've been a cinch.  And it would’ve been if I’d been able to keep my focus.  I couldn’t.  I wanted to be sitting out on the deck; reading; answering email; talking on the phone.  Anything but writing.

I stayed at my desk.  I kept at it.  Wrote six pages.  I’m glad it’s over for the day.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Second Review

This one was great. It was published in Booklist, which is another trade magazine. Libraries and some stores buy from this.

What made me particularly pleased about this review was that the reviewer (signed this time) got the whole spirit of the novel. He got it and he liked it. What more could I want?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Week That Was

Basically it was a terrible week. The first two days were okay but then I was distracted by the review. More trouble came in the form of computer hell. Internet Explorer and other things on my Start menu stopped working. Here is a secret about me. It’s not thrilling. It’s a character flaw. When something goes wrong with my computer I can’t let go until I fix it. I think of nothing else. I wish I was this obsessive about writing.

I tried calling you know who and the annoying customer service woman told me I’d have to pay. Oh, no. So I looked for a program that might help me. Found one. It didn’t help that, but I got back my system sounds, which I’d lost about a month ago. The good news is that my computer problem didn’t affect my Word program so I can continue writing. Well, I guess it’s good news. If it had affected my writing program I would’ve had to get a new computer (this is the way I think) and then it would’ve taken me days to transfer and install stuff. No writing. Actually I’m glad that didn’t happen because I have no time to waste with this book.

On Friday Mr. Cooper did something I didn’t expect and would never have thought he was capable of doing. So now I’m not exactly in a hole, but I’m not sure where I’m going next. I don’t like that feeling. And, yes, I’m still glad I don’t have an outline.

Did you know one is now told in their contract how many words you have to have? In this first draft I’m going to come up short so that I’ll have to make it up in the rewrite. This disturbs me because I never want to put in filler. I’ve spent my whole career learning how to write lean and mean. And I think I’ve accomplished that now. But if I have to get to the right word count by adding unnecessary words it will make me unhappy. This trend to get writers to make their books bigger is terrible, I think. When my agent was negotiating my contract she (at my request) got the publisher to come down in the count by 15 thousand words.

Once again I dread Monday. As for the computer problem I’ve learned that I can live with it. When the book is finished I will get a new computer because it’s my reward. You have to give yourself rewards. I know, the finishing of the book is a reward in itself along with an acceptance and the next payment. Too bad. I want a new computer.