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My Jane Austen Summer
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Category Archives: First Reader (aka Husband)
Taking a picture of myself that is worthy of a book cover is nearly impossible. The only other process that comes close to requiring perfect sync of so many variables is the miracle of conception. Yet the world is full of author photos, and agent and editor both neeeded mine yesterday. On a day when hair, weight, and attitude were momentarily aligned, I called husband and invited him to lunch at the arboretum. We took 200 pictures. Upon review, not one was a keeper. In case we were being too picky, I sent a batch to my good friend for her honest advice. She said, “Do you have any shots that look like you?”
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wish to express gratitude to technology for promoting close ties with my loved ones (pictured right) even if it occasionally feels too close for comfort. Take my cell phone. Please. Family members can catch me in the book store, girl lunches, and the hairdresser’s shampoo station. Husband invariably calls both times I visit the pedicure salon, and since he doesn’t really know what a pedicure is, makes me repeat the word five times and seek other words to describe what I’m doing, until all 17 fellow pedicure clients glance up from their magazines to lament my short leash.
Five years ago, I listened with 500 unpublished writers in a huge hotel ballroom as a panel of literary agents introduced themselves to the Writer’s League of Texas. We were there because we all wanted one thing: a literary agent. But who among us had what it took to be signed by one of these? Even newbies understood the supply side of this dynamic. But I wasn’t a newbie anymore. I’d been around long enough to ditch my first novel in a drawer along with a pile of rejection: thankful agents stepping aside so that other agents who will feel differently about my manuscript can wish me all the best with my writing.
We dropped Oldest Son at college last week, our first to leave home. As we packed the car early Sunday morning, a young couple entertaining a toddler on their front steps watched our separation unfold. A perfect moment for me to witness the startling truth of how swiftly 18 years can fly by. I could show them pictures.
And explain how it happens in no time at all.
But they wouldn’t believe me.
My Writing Teacher warned us not to waste calories worrying about titles for our books. Editors replace working titles–in a heartbeat–at the appropriate time. Nonetheless, I secretly wasted calories worrying about titles. I burned calories I could have used writing a sequel.
FYI: Title Worry consumes the same number of calories as enforcing time limits on Xbox players.
I descended into title madness between 3 and 4 am on select nights, generating a vast graveyard of titles too embarrassing to exhume. Example: DITCHED BY JANE AUSTEN which I submitted to Editor before First Reader was awake one morning. Sadly, some of my working titles came within a mere word of the winning title but I couldn’t close the gap, as if my synapses weren’t quite up to the challenge. Was this a symptom of a deeper affliction? An inability to grasp the meaning of the 90,000 words I’d spent five years writing?
I’ve never written weather porn before. (I swear). But cryptic vacation updates from Facebook friends reporting low temperatures have left me lusting for sensual details: like cool air sliding through open windows at night and bare feet freezing in mountain streams, for instance. I vowed when I returned from my own chilly vacation, I would produce the goods in full graphic detail.
You know you want it.
The high desert air uplifts and makes me feel I can do anything: hike in broad daylight without vaporizing, fish mid-day without heat stroke, picnic outside without losing my appetite.
Think: October cold snap in Dallas without Halloween decorations.