We interrupt our regularly scheduled hiatus to bring you…A Delicious Ending

Remember our Delicious beginning?

In retrospect people say it was a Cinderella story.

Notably missing was the personage of the Fairy Godmother. But other than that, the narrative seemed to contain all the elements of the fairy tale.

There was something of a modern prince. He had no royal blood, but he was a powerful man—London’s foremost barrister, Mr. Gladstone’s right hand—a man who would very likely one day, fifteen years hence, occupy 10 Downing Street and pass such radical reforms as to provide pensions for the elderly and health insurance to the working class.

There was a woman who spent much of her life in the kitchen. In the eyes of many, she was a nobody. For others, she was one of the greatest cooks of her generation, her food said to be so divine that old men dined with the gusto of adolescent boys, and so seductive that lovers forsook each other, as long as a crumb remained on the table.

There was a ball, not the usual sort of ball that made it into fairy tales or even ordinary tales, but a ball nevertheless. There was the requisite Evil-ish Female Relative. And mostly importantly for connoisseurs of fairy tales, there was footgear left behind in a hurry—nothing so frivolous or fancy as glass slippers, yet carefully kept and cherished, with a flickering flame of hope, for years upon years.




The end–for now.

She laid herself across the bed and drew a finger down his sternum. “People are saying it’s a fairy tale. They say I’m a modern-day Cinderella.”

“I’m inclined to agree with them,” he said.

She kissed him on the lips. “Do you believe in happily-ever-afters?”

“You are asking a politician to tell the truth again?”

She reached over him and turned off the lamp. “Yes, for mine is an honest darkness.”

“Alright then, I do. I’ve always believed it–I only had to find you.” His kissed her in the sweet darkness. “And now I’ve found you.”

There, now you know the story. And you can save yourself $6.99. 🙂

I must have sacrificed myself to the rapacious lust of a gorgeous, domineering conqueror in one of my previous lives

In order to save my whole village. Heck, a whole cluster of villages. Because I have no other explanation for my good luck.

I had a wonderful time at the RWA National Conference in Dallas.

Tuesday night was the occasion of a great dinner meeting with Kristin Nelson, my agent. Then Wednesday was the event that should go down in conference history as the most enviable four hours ever: Kristin took a bunch of us lucky gals to the spa, and not just any spa, the fourth best spa in the whole of the U.S. of A. I had the best facial of my entire life. All my pores disappeared, completely. Completely. Can you beat that?

After the spa was the Bookseller’s Tea. Booksellers are to published authors what editors and agents are to pre-published authors–the Holy Grail. There was the big old ballroom, and likely a 15-to-1 ratio of authors to booksellers. It was like Almack’s, full of hopeful debutantes eyeing the few titled, rich prospects, dreaming of an introduction and a dance. And the Duke of Eligibility was, of course, Sue Grimshaw of Borders, who, along with the Marquis of Desirability, Tina Trevaskis (also of Borders), were pinned to a corner the whole of the reception by a mob of us eager authors dying to impress them with our saleability. They were both beyond gracious.

I’d briefly met Sara Megibow, Kristin’s assistant, at the spa. Sara’s photo, if you’ve ever come across it on Kristin’s website, does not do her justice. She is Adorable. After the bookseller’s event I saw her again, and her Adorable son, and her Adorable husband, who described her hair as having copper flecks when the light strikes it. Can you top that in a man? He just proved wrong every naysayer who said men don’t notice such things. I think they are the most adorable family I’ve ever met.

That evening I went to a cocktail party hosted by superpublicist Nancy Berland. Almost as soon as I walked into the door, I met someone who had an ARC of my book. I’d been to the goody room only 45 min before, and it hadn’t arrived yet, so it was very exciting to see that the copies did get there. The lady who had my ARC then proceeded to ask me to sign it for her mother, which I gladly did. My first signing ever. And guess who the lady was? Faygie Levy, the editor-in-chief of Romantic Times. You can’t beat that for a good omen. I think I must have willingly sacrificed myself to not one, but a whole horde of gorgeous, domineering conquerors, and saved cities, instead of mere villages.

Midway through the party, I was sitting alone at a table, munching thoughtfully–I semi-suck at mingling but never have trouble eating. Someone asked me if she could join me. Her badge said she was a librarian. I love libraries and librarians, so I told her of course she could join me. Only after she sat down did I realize she was RWA’s Librarian of the Year. We went on to have a wonderful conversation about books we love, so wonderful that I didn’t even once look at the Dallas panorama behind me (we were up high in the Reunion Tower).

On my way down the Tower that evening, Nora Roberts and a bunch of her friends came into the elevator. She stood next to me for 200 feet down and I silently basked in her glow. There’s no need to talk to La Nora. She just is. And I just bask.

Thursday I met Jane from DearAuthor for lunch. Jane is gorgeous. I mean, the woman made partner at her law firm when she was 28, runs one of the most influential romance blogs in her spare time–all that, and did I mention she is beautiful ? (I’m sorry but I believe I’ve said on this blog before that I’m shallow as a dinner plate.) The caliber of women that I’m fortunate enough to meet never fails to astonish me.

Thursday afternoon I had to do homework. You would think I’d resent the heck out of it: 2000 women having a good time at the bar (no workshops Thurs pm) and I was doing homework. But the truth was I rather enjoyed it. The homework was for a corporate taxation class, and I love tax classes. I just do. I don’t know why. Nerds write the hottest romances, yeah!

Friday I attended a rather august luncheon, with heavy hitters from Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, American Library Association, Borders, and Books-a-Million. And a whole bunch of bestseller authors–and me (I’m not sure how that came about either). Most everyone else was dressed business casual. I looked as if I was hoping to nab a beau at a garden party. 🙂 So thank goodness for Linda Lael Miller, whose outfit was as colorful as sunrise over the Mediterranean.

Friday night was the cocktail reception hosted by Random House, my publisher, where it was great fun meeting Sandy Coleman and Anne Marble from All About Romance, which I’d been reading since at least 1998. Sandy and I reminisced over Susan Johnson’s earlier works. And we shared some fangirl love of Judith Ivory, who has unfortunately dropped off the face of the earth. I told her the story of how I always pounce on Steve Axelrod, Judith Ivory’s agent, whenever I see him, to ask about her. Alas for the rest of you Ivory lovers out of there, at least according to Mr. Axelrod, no releases for her this year. So much for the hopeful rumor that I’d heard.

After the cocktail party, a bunch of Bantam authors went out to dinner. I sat next to Shana Abe and Lara Adrian and we had a great time imagining ourselves living close by to Mr. Clooney on Lake Como. We would join the local council and be very active in the community and he would, of course, admire our public spirit and talent. And from time to time, he would bring over his good friend Mr. Pitt. And between Shana and Lara and me, we decided that we might just have boobs and lips enough to steal his attention away from Miss Jolie for a minute or so.

The big event for me, on Saturday, was the signing. So of course I would forget to change out of my sneakers (thank goodness for table skirts). I saw Sybil from The Good, the Bad, and the Unread helping setting up the tables. We’d met on Thursday. For some stupid reason I’d imagined her as middle-aged. But she, like Jane, turned out to be Young and Hawt. What’s with all the attractive bloggers taking over the world? So I helped her set up tables. And it wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized I was setting up tables not for Bantam, but St. Martin’s. But what the heck. We went on to set up another table or two for St. Martin’s. 🙂

And then, of course, just before the signing was about to start, I realized I’d forgotten both my camera and the huge box of 81 gel pens I’d bought for the signing. I’d been lusting after those pens for years, but told myself I couldn’t have such useless items unless I actually had a signing. Taking pity on me, the wonderful Sara Megibow went and fetched the pens from my room. They were a tremendous hit, especially the glitter gel pens in all colors of the rainbow.

What can I say about the signing? It was fabulous, the best signing of my life! 🙂 Bantam had done a wonderful poster for each author, provided tons of books, and the attendees who lined up were all so nice to me. A huge contingent from my home chapter of Austin turned out to support me, as well as several readers of this blog–Bev, Maria, and Karmela, or did I meet Karmela some other spot in the hotel? Lovely to meet y’all!–plus the ladies from the Romance Divas, and one of the Head Bitches Herself, Candy from SB, who is–I repeat myself again–another young, hawt blogger taking over the world.

Sorry for the lack of photos. Leslie Langtry, one of Kristin’s authors, graciously lent her camera to take a picture of me at the but it might be a bit before I get hold of it.

So at this point I’m thinking that the conquerors to whom I’d sacrificed myself weren’t gorgeous at all. And I’d saved whole countries. Because good karma on this magnitude just doesn’t happen naturally. But I’m not quite at the end of my run of good luck yet.

It took me a while to unwind from the autographing. Then I went with my roomies, including the gorgeous and talented Catherine Avril Morris, out to dinner. Of course I overstuffed myself. And of course when I got back I had trouble getting into my Rita gown. I’d told Kristen Painter from Romance Divas I’d clap for her during the Golden Heart awards, so I wobbled down to the ballroom, very gingerly sat down, mindful of my dress’s likelihood of exploding from containing too much of me, and clapped (It was sooooo considerate of Kristen’s category to come up as soon as I sat down!) So five minutes later, I wobbled out of the ballroom, headed for the privacy of my room and the luxury of exiting from the very restrictive Rita gown.

The folks from RomanceNovel.tv were shooting interviews with Rita nominees outside the ballroom. Jane had pimped me to them earlier. They were just wrapping up. Guess who was helping them out? Sybil. I don’t think I’ve said it yet but Sybil is a tiger. An absolute tiger. She grabbed me, grabbed the RomanceNovel.tv folks, and got them to agree to interview me, a nobody whose book isn’t even coming out for another six, seven, or is it eight months?

I realized then that I had no makeup on, but what the hell. So there I was, in my naked face, standing next to the very tall and very elegant Sophia Nash, my kindly interviewer. And two minutes later it was done. Now the good folks from RomanceNovel.tv might feed the tape to the shredder when they get home, but it was certainly fun getting interviewed.

I must have single-handedly diverted a giant meteor from crashing into earth.

Okay, finally, the end of this long, rambling post is in sight. I think I’d written it down more for myself–so I don’t forget–than for anyone else. It was wonderful in Dallas and it is wonderful to be back home. Now I’d better get back to all the homework piled up. School ends on August 13. I’m going on a long-awaited vacation with my family shortly after that. Then I’ll come home and spend the rest of the kids’ summer vacation playing computer games with them. So expect regular posts to resume in early September.

And in honor of the new Harry Potter movie and the imminent arrival of Book 7, let me leave you with my favorite Harry Potter Youtube video–Ron and Hermione as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Enjoy.

I know I’m on hiatus, but…

Update 7-11-07: My editor tells me that ARCs should be in the goody room some time today. I would imagine later in the afternoon.

This has been a very exciting couple of days. While I’ve been buried deep under the inscrutabilities of consolidated financial statements and the mysteries of Access databases, all the while trying to keep my hair from spontaneously combusting, Caitlin Alexander, my wonder-editor at Bantam, has totally been on top of things in getting ARCs of my first novel into production. Today I got the covers (front and stepback) for the ARCs Bantam would print for distributing at RWA National.

They are totally SQUEE-worthy!

Not only are they such beautiful covers, but these beautiful covers contain very generous blurbs from Mary Balogh and Jane Feather!

(Right, forgot to tell you guys that SCHEMES OF LOVE is now called PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS.)

I’m thrilled to share this day with you. And I hope that very soon I will be able to share in your pleasure and delight as your publishing dreams come true, too.

Quick Update

I e-mailed my editor and my agent the manuscript for DELICIOUS at 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning. I said I’d give it to them on the second of April (first was a Sunday) before I went to sleep. Guess I kept my word.

The writing of DELICIOUS, as you probably already know, was a slog. The story didn’t quite come together for me until early January, when I finally understood the sort of relationship the hero and the heroine had with each other and with their lightning-rod of a brief history. Once the core of the story gelled, I absolutely fell in love with it. But then I hardly had any time left.

I think I submitted something decent. I also think it could be stunning instead of just decent. (Here’s my whole philosophy on writing. It’s hard and chances are I will make less money as a novelist than as a partner in an accounting firm. So there is no point producing only a decent product. In the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth tells Jane that nothing less than the deepest love would induce her to marry. For me, nothing less than the most devastatingly beautiful stories would induce me to keep writing–I hope.)

But I chose to give DELICIOUS as-is because I needed some time away from it to let ideas and thoughts percolate through my subconscious, because I could benefit from hearing from my editor and agent–both are wonderful at spotting shortcomings and do it ever so nicely–and because I’ve got some fires to put out at school. Ugh.

Anyway, here are some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that SCHEMES (or whatever it would be called by then) would not be released until spring 2008. Darn. The good news is that we made the first foreign rights sale on it. To Russia. Which was very, very cool. Look for me to post the Russian cover in about 2 years. 🙂

On the personal front, I would like to say to members of my family who might be reading this: thank you and I can’t thank you enough. SCHEMES I wrote largely on my own time. DELICIOUS I wrote on everyone’s time. Three generations of family pitched in to help me out during this very hectic year. I really, really couldn’t have done it without all of you.

I’m blessed beyond measure.

The Mother of All Hiatuses–Coming to an End Soon!

To my ten devoted readers,

I swear, I didn’t mean to drop off the face of the Earth. When I said I’d return in the new year in my last post, I’d meant the first week of January.

And then I started my internship. Believe me when I say I was composing my mind-boggling post “Theory of Accelerated Karma” on my way to work in the first few days. But it didn’t take long for the true meaning of “60-hour work week” to sink in (life’s like that during busy season for accountants).

Finally that got done on March 2. Now I have until March 19th before school starts again. I plan to write 21K words between now and then. And then edit, edit, edit.

So if everything goes well, hopefully Theory of Accelerated Karma, the best thing since Theory of Relativity, of course, would see the light of the day in early April. If not–no, think positive, think positive. This is no time to panic.

Much love and gratitude,