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November 10, 2003: My Cup Runneth Over

November 5, 2003
Well, well, well. It's been less than a month since my last posting, and enough things have happened to warrant an update. Now that the timeline has shortened - The Damsel in This Dress will be on shelves in a mere 38 weeks (but who's counting?) - the finishing details are being put on the publication and things are moving right along.

First, the good new is, I'm almost finished with the first draft of my next book. Originally, it was titled Murder Hunt, but that was too bland. I've since changed it to Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evie. Yeah, I know. Quite a stretch, but it's a pun title that goes with The Damsel in This Dress and Claire and Present Danger, and besides, once I'd thought of it, I just couldn't let it go. And since the book contains a love scene in a garden at midnight... well, you see how this kind of thing happens.

More good news - the changes to Damsel I made back in May were accepted, so I received the second half of my advance. A quick look at the calendar will tell you that I'll be keeping my day job until such time as checks either manifest a little closer together, or get a little bigger. Okay, a lot bigger. Anyway, this should give you an idea of how much money you can expect to see when you're the average newbie.

And even more good news - I saw the first sketch of what the cover will look like, and it's really cute. A blond in a little black dress sitting in the open window of a castle tower, out on the ledge, anticipating the day her knight will come riding by. On the windowsill sings a bluebird, a terrific touch to the whole effect. Did you ever see Robin Hood: Men in Tights? You know the part where Maid Marion spies the birdie singing in the window says, "Oh, look! A heppy little blewbud?" That's what this sketch reminds me of. It's very sweet - I can hardly wait to see the finished cover with the title and stuff (Stuff - okay, the truth: My Name) on it.

So, more good news? Absolutely. I got an email from my editor today - the copy edits are being sent over-night and I'll get them tomorrow. Then, I'll have two weeks to answer any copy editing questions and return the manuscript. Once that's done, I'll post the first chapter of the book on my website, and as soon as I get an electronic copy of the cover, that'll go up as well. Since this'll be my first copy editing experience, I'll let you know how it goes. I don't know what to expect or how extensive the changes will be or any of the details, so this is yet another learning opportunity for me. In re-reading the final manuscript myself a while back, I did see a couple of silly typo's, so I hope I'm not shocked and overwhelmed to find massive problems with the manuscript. I don't anticipate any, but we'll see.

Also, as soon as I have a definite cover and the manuscript is ready for production, I'm going to post a contest on my website to give away free copies of the book as soon as it comes out. I haven't figured out the details yet, but please stay tuned. Also, the timing of the book's release coincides with the RWA National conference in Dallas this year, so I'll be able to attend the book-signing and have a book in hand to sign! Now, that'll be very satisfying for me. This book will have come full circle, and it's something I'm really looking forward to.

Before I forget, I have some more writing books to recommend to you. The first one is Immediate Fiction (ISBN: 031228716X) by Jerry Cleaver. You want a quick course in all the basics and some solid instruction? Get this book. Sure, I wrote a novel and got it published. But I frankly didn't know how I did it, didn't know if I could repeat the performance. This book has made all the difference in helping me make sure I can write bookS. Not book, but bookS. Easy to read, quick to get through - I've marked it up so much, it's ridiculous. Another excellent resource is Debra Dixon's GMC (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict). She states much of what other books I've read and recommended do, but she includes a little more information for writers of romance. You can only get it through Gryphon Books (URL: http://www.gryphonbooksforwriters.com/), but it's not expensive and I think it's totally worth it. The last book is called Fiction is Folks (ISBN: 0898792665) by Robert Peck. Written twenty years ago, it's now extremely hard to find. I paid a premium for it, but I'm glad I did. His political and social commentary is a little dated, but the advice he gives on characterization is the best I've ever read. If you can find this at a UBS, you've got a real gem in your hands.

That's it for now. I'll post again after I've taken a look at those (dreaded) copy edits. Thanks for keeping up with me, and I hope you are having a beautiful autumn.

November 9, 2003
I received the copy edits on Friday, did them this weekend, and packaged them up to go back to New York tomorrow. The copy editor I had was absolutely terrific. I sent him a thank-you email for doing such a wonderful job. He was astute and caught a couple of things I feel ridiculous at having missed. His suggestions were very good and have come away from my first copy editing experience both pleased and enthused.

In addition, since the next step is for the ARCs to be released in January, I put the first chapter of Damsel... up on my web page at http://www.mariannestillings.com/Chapter1.htm. If you get a chance, I hope you'll take a look (and I hope you'll enjoy what you see).

-- Marianne


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