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Small pleasures

Lockdown has eased slightly here in Melbourne so, since it was a glorious spring day, I made arrangements to meet up with the only writing friend I have within 5 kilometres  and have a coffee in the park to celebrate my finishing the draft of my book.  (Why the 5 kilometres? We’re not allowed to travel more than 5km —about 3 miles— from our home for any non-urgent reason.)

We met at a nearby inner city park, a small green oasis hidden away behind a sea of buildings. As you can see, it’s still early in the season — the hundred-year-old English elm trees are only just coming into spring leaf. It was late in the afternoon — my friend is working remotely, so we met after she’d finished work for the day, but even so, the park was full of people (and dogs) enjoying the relaxed restrictions and the sunshine. Social distancing was practiced and most people wore masks except when eating and drinking.

For me it was months since I’d had a real in-person chat with a friend, so we had a lovely time, talking books and writing and movies and a little bit of politics, and all kinds of other things. We each brought our own coffee and I also brought some yummy little Portuguese custard tarts from a shop near me that specializes in them. Delicious. It was a lovely break, and it made me conscious of the importance of appreciating small pleasures — and I don’t just mean the tarts. (g)

I hope you get to have some small enjoyable moments in your own daily life. And if not Portuguese custard tarts, something yummy to eat.

Wild celebrations

I sent off the book last night — my current manuscript, I mean. It’s a draft, which means it’s the best I can make it at the moment. I need time away from it, time to think of other things before I look at it again, and revise it.

My editor will read it and send me back her comments and revisions. Contrary to what a lot of people think, she won’t “correct” it or make changes, but put comments in the sidebar pointing out inconsistencies, parts that aren’t clear, issues she thinks might be problematic, and any questions she has.

It’s up to me then to revise the book, taking into account her comments. It’s wonderful to have a fresh eye on it: she’ll notice things I’ve missed, or forgotten.

Normally when I’ve sent off a book I celebrate with writing friends, but we’re in serious Lockdown here in Melbourne and I can only have one visitor in my “bubble” and there’s no possibility of meeting at a restaurant, which is what we usually do, because they’re closed for all except takeaway.

The other part of my post-book celebration is truly wild and exciting — I catch up on the housework I’ve neglected in the past few weeks, do my tax, attack some weeds in the garden, attempt for the eighty-sixth time to declutter my house — thrilling things like that.

So, do you want to know how I celebrated this time?  Last night after I’d emailed off the manuscript file (in time for 9am New York time, which is where my editor is) I donned my mask and headed out in the gloom of the night, stood in a dark laneway, knocked on a window, and was handed a flat white box by another masked man. 

Yes, I got a takeaway pizza. Which I ate on my own at home with the dog looking wistfully on. (Don’t worry, she’d already eaten — proper dog food, plus a meaty bone.) 
It’s actually the first take-away pizza I’ve had since March so it is a bit special. (I’ve been watching my weight and avoiding take-out food and trying to eat healthy.) And I love this particular one. It’s a capricciosa, and it has fior di latte (like mozzarella), artichokes, field mushrooms, tender leg ham and olives. It’s one of the few pizza places I know that includes the artichokes and it’s delicious.

I’ll eat the other half of the pizza for dinner tonight — after I’ve celebrated with housework and weeds — they don’t make small, medium or family sized pizzas; just a one-person serving size, but it’s for a hearty appetite. 
Do you love pizza? What’s your favorite?

Killing my darlings

Hi all, I’m flying in to apologize for the lack of recent posts — I’m madly racing (I just typed that as raving, and it’s not far wrong, LOL.) towards the end of the book and planning to send it in to my editor at the end of the week. I’m almost finished — just two scenes to go — a wedding and an epilogue — but that’s not my problem.

The wip (work in progress) is too long — over 115,000 words. My usual books are between 95,000 and 100,000 words long (well, except for The Perfect Rake, which was 126,000 words, but that was my first book with Berkley and I didn’t know any better).  Now, you might say that the length of the book doesn’t matter to you, and I’d agree: as long as a book keeps me turning the pages, I don’t care how long it is.

No, the problem is the printing process — specifically it’s a paperback problem. E-books are fine. But with paperbacks, my publisher tends to make the books pretty much the same number of pages each time — around 320 pages maximum, and that means no matter what the number of words in the manuscript, they will shrink the print to fit the number of pages. Which means in some cases, small print with close together lines, and it’s hard to read for some people.

And so I get emails from people, complaining. Not that I can do anything about it.

So I’m cutting words, and even though I know that cutting always makes a book stronger, it’s hard. I’m cutting bits I really like, but that don’t actually need to be in the book. You know what they (writers) say — “Kill your darlings.” So I’m madly killing darlings.


I’ll share some of them if you’re interested, but later, after my editor has seen the manuscript and I’ve revised it. I’ll be asking her if she can see any more darlings to kill.

In the meantime, keep well and healthy, and try to find joy in small moments.

I’m enjoying the flowering of my tangled garden. This is my lilac, just coming into bloom, and the jasmine is covering my side fence in fragrant gorgeousness. I love flowers with scent.