Monday, April 21, 2008

A New Book, a Contest, a Dumb Mistake and Two Funerals

It sounds like a movie with Hugh Grant in it, but it's actually a description of the month, more or less, that I've more-or-less just finished living through.

Because you may remember that at the end of February, I first posted the lovely cover of my November novel, The Edge of Impropriety, accompanied with some jittery prose to the effect that I was waiting nervously for my editor's instructions on how to revise the manuscript.

Now I'm not averse to criticism of my writing. I wouldn't say I actually enjoy it, but I do appreciate it.

I mean, computer programmers (which I was, for 25 years) don't whine and get all insulted when someone finds a bug in their code, do they? Au contraire, they're happy and grateful someone found the problem before the program went live and plunged the whole wide wired world into silent darkness.

So it's not the editorial tough love that bothers me. What makes me nuts is waiting to find out what bugs and glitches and just downright doesn't-work moments an editor has found in my manuscript. It's the waiting that gets me pacing the floor and biting my nails.

Cool it, I told myself. You have stuff to do.

Because I needed to post a new contest on my web page -- one of those read-an-excerpt-answer-a-question-enter-the-drawing-to-win-a-prize contests.

The prize would be an autographed copy of The Slightest Provocation, and I figured I'd make it a sexy contest, using the passage wherein my hero and heroine, Mary and Kit, play a sexy game wherein a pirate ravishes his captive lady.

Am I the only historical erotic author, btw, who portrays her characters sharing erotic fantasies?

I mean, don't the characters in erotic historicals already
live in costume fantasyland?

Isn't it the
reader who's supposed to be having the fantasies?

I'm probably not the only author who creates such scenes in her books. But I might be the only one who gets herself tied up into TheoryGirl knots by mulling over the meta of these meta-questions, instead of keeping her mind on the html as she constructs a web-based contest whose question asks, "In The Slightest Provocation, what does Mary wear for a hot, silly, rough-and-tumble game of pirate-and-lady?"

When I wasn't tying myself into knots worrying about what changes my editor would want me to apply to the manuscript of The Edge of Impropriety.

And I may be the only romance author (who are, by and large, a frighteningly competent, productive bunch) who got so distracted that she forgot to put the pirate excerpt up, leaving an entirely different excerpt, about a much younger Mary and Kit -- who were much too young to play pirate (at least the kind of pirate game I had in mind).

Or perhaps it was because I was interrupted by an aunt's sudden death and had to grab a red-eye flight to go East for the funeral.

I was glad I went, though. My family pulls together in hard times and I was glad to add my support.

When I got back home from the funeral, my editor's revision instructions had arrived. Smart ones. Thoughtful ones. Tough ones.

Oh, and could I turn it around in a little less than three weeks?

None of which left me much time to pay attention to the fact that no one who'd entered my contest seemed to know what Mary was wearing to play pirate.

I did make the changes to the manuscript, though the only time I got out of my pajamas during those weeks might have been the afternoon I delivered my talk to the Popular Culture Association -- with the help of two of the avatars who live in the mad attic of my brain, TheoryGirl and SuperegoGirl (that's TheoryGirl in the pic -- SuperegoGirl is camera-shy).

I wish, by the way, that I could have heard the other talks at the Popular Culture conference. If you're interested in romance scholarship, please check out Sarah Frantz's discussion here.

But I did made the changes to The Edge of Impropriety in the time assigned. And even had a little fun when I added a whole other sex scene (about which, more later).

And had a moment to enjoy the email from my editor saying she liked what I'd done...

...just in time to go East for yet another funeral.

But not in time to notice that there was still hardly any response to my contest question.

Until I got home from Funeral Two last week, to find a sweet, patient smart letter from a reader who was kind enough to clue me into the fact that there was nothing in the excerpt on my web page that would possibly tell anyone what my poor heroine was wearing to play sexy grownup pirate (because the excerpt that was still on my page had her as a twelve-year-old in pigtails and pinafore).

So apologies to all you contest freaks out there. Please come play -- it's fixed now -- while I take a long, red-faced nap.

As for the questions...

One of which you'll find on the contest page of my web site.

Except for those of you who like to mull, as I do, about the boxes-within-boxes paradoxes of characters in erotic romance novels who have their own erotic romance fantasies... Those of you who never met a metastructure they didn't like... I'd love to hear your thoughts too.


Kate Pearce said...

Sounds like you have had a lot on your plate, Pam. Hope things get more streamlined soon.
And as to characters sharing erotic fantasies, I have a whole pleasure house (fee paying members only) available for my characters to go to and play out any fantasy they require, so yes, I love reading and writing it.

Janet H said...

Sorry you've had such a trying time. Sending sympathy and hugs.

As a reader, I think it's great when the characters play out a fantasy situation together. Sometimes it's the most interesting scene in the book.

Pam Rosenthal said...

I guess I'm not alone.

Kate, I'm waiting to buy a whole passel of your books (autographed) at RWA National this summer. Since the conference (and the booksigning) are in San Francisco, I'm planning to bring a wheeled cart and stock up -- and (oh joy, oh rapture) not to have to mail the books home.

Janet, thanks for the sympathy. It's been a difficult but not a bad time -- luckily (and in both cases) the sadness has brought people closer together.