December 3rd, 2007

A Pocket Full of Murder

Better and Worse

First, the better:

My call to Air Miles went smoothly, and although their records showed that the mistake was my fault, they waived their change fee and I only had to pay the airline change fee ($40) to get the flight moved from Monday at 4:30 to Sunday at 2:30. I'll have to miss the last couple of sessions at the SCBWI conference, but oh well.

Anyway, I have learned my lesson: no matter what you say to the travel agent, make sure you listen VERY CAREFULLY to what they repeat back to you. Or perhaps even more importantly, don't try to book something as important as an airline flight on the phone when you have three small boys rampaging around your feet.

Second, the worse:

I called the courier to give them the information they'd need to make delivery. To my considerable surprise, the lady on the phone informed me coolly that they had already made two attempts and would not be returning to my address.

"But I only received one notification of delivery," I protested. "And it says that this was their first attempt on Friday, November 30th and that they would try again on Monday."

"We've been there twice already," she repeated. "The first call was Thursday. I can put in a request to my supervisor to make another attempt, but it'll be 24-48 hours to process."

So, five days to deliver a one-day parcel. Not good.

"Or," she said, "you can pick it up from our depot at [town an hour's drive away]."

We are currently in the middle of some serious snow-and-ice weather which led to the boys' school being cancelled today. So... not so much with the picking-up-myself thing.

My only hope is that the driver is more merciful than the dispatcher, and that he will be true to his word and try again today. On the other hand, that's assuming he doesn't end wheels-up in a ditch halfway between the depot and my house (it really is nasty out there).

A Pocket Full of Murder


Gacked from snowrabbitses: 1" hole + large octopus = awesome.

Also, the nice lovely courier man rang my doorbell and smilingly delivered my package from HarperCollins today. I nearly kissed his shaggy-bearded face, but I do have some dignity left somewhere around here. I think.

Anyway, I have only had time to glance over the long letter and the numerous comments my editor scribbled on the manuscript, but what I can see looks quite sensible and not at all discouraging. There is a lot of work ahead of me -- tightening, reframing, clarifying, and moving information around -- but hardly any suggestions that I'd disagree with. And even on those few points where I do disagree that something needs to change or be cut, I see that the fault is mine for not explaining that aspect of the story more clearly, and that the difficulty will probably go away once I've done that.

I have no idea how long it's going to take me to actually do the revisions, or exactly how I'm going to tackle them. But I do feel that the end result will be very worthwhile, and that nothing of real value will be lost in the process.

Now if I can only get over the cold, and the PMS, and the three bored, snowbound kids yelling at each other...
A Pocket Full of Murder

Lightning has just struck my brain

(Points to anybody who not only recognizes the quote in the subject line, but can supply the correct response.)

In spite of feeling physically horrible and emotionally stuffed-up, I have to say that looking over my editor's suggested revisions for Knife today has been a great kick in the mental pants. Over the last couple of hours I've experienced a cascade of new ideas, and I'm really excited now about the prospect of making them work. Some of them mean chopping out and/or replacing bits of the story which have been in place for literally fifteen years -- but the new ideas I've got are so much better, tighter, more economical and even more interesting* that it makes me wonder why on earth I didn't think of them before.

This is the best part of writing, for me -- not the initial getting-stuff-on-paper stage, but the discovery of how much better the story can be with a good revision. And since I have now revised Knife at least ten times, it's a good thing I can still find a spark of excitement in the thought of cutting old scenes and writing new ones.

Now ask me if I still feel that way in six weeks.


On a related note, you know how I was whining about not getting my revisions earlier? When I was lamenting to my mother about the courier mix-up, she said, "There must be a reason behind all this," and as much as the cliche made me want to grind my teeth at the time, I've come to believe she was right.

See, I had an insanely busy weekend, and if the revision package had come on Thursday or Friday as planned, it would have been just one more source of agonizing distraction. I had no time to work on the book, and there were a whole lot of other responsibilities and commitments I needed to deal with first.

Even this morning would have been too early. I was too full of worries about fixing the airline ticket problems and coping with my kids to concentrate. My agent called mid-morning, and when I told him about my courier woes he said, "Well, at least you have Catherine's revision letter to look at, even if you don't have her comments on the manuscript. ... Oh, you don't have it? Well then, I'll forward you a copy straight away." Which he did, but! -- this has never happened before, not with my agent, but for some Mysterious Reason that e-mail spent a few hours wandering around the sub-ether instead of showing up in my mailbox. So, again -- no revisions.

By the time I'd fed the kids lunch and put the youngest down for his nap, I was completely frazzled. And at that point I realized I just had to let go of the whole thing. I ended up praying, "Lord, You send the revision package when You think I'm ready, because the truth is I feel like crud right now and I know I'm not really prepared, so maybe it's a good thing after all that it's not here." And instead of peering out the window and checking my e-mail every two minutes, I sat my two oldest down with a Tintin cartoon and then spent the next hour and a half resting, reading, and praying. After which I felt much calmer...

...and just a few minutes after that, the package arrived.

Really, you'd almost think it was planned.


* In fact, at least one of them is making me grin with the anticipation of writing it. Just imagine the faery equivalent of Sydney Bristow stealing a Rambaldi artifact while her partner provides some kind of outrageous distraction, and you'll get the idea.