As I write this, I'm down to the wire on my deadline for Little Black Dress, my tale of two sisters, a daughter, and a magical dress that changes all their lives forever. It's something different for me after writing series mysteries, a YA nonmystery series, and contemporary women's fiction. Little Black Dress mixes the past and the present (okay, with a pinch of mystery!), and it alternates between two very different voices.
I just finished proofing 300 pages after staying up late and working through the weekends to get this baby done. It's weird how deadlines never seem that intimidating until, oh, about six weeks beforehand. That's when you realize that maybe you shouldn't have scheduled a fundraiser you're spearheading that close to D-Day, and innumerable real-life crises rear their ugly heads (never fails).
It's when you tell yourself, "Hey, this is life. Put on your big girl pants and deal with it." Only that doesn't keep the clock from ticking or that danged deadline from looming like Fraggle Rock (wait, that's a kid's show, right? Not very scary, huh?).
When I realized I had, oh, five chapters left last weekend, I went into panic mode, staying up way past my usual bed-time, working like a maniac (and, no, I don't drink coffee!). It helps when hubby has a late night hockey game and doesn't return until after midnight so I can write until he gets home and finds me with my face on the keyboard, QWERTY squished into my forehead. (All right, it never happened, but it was a constant threat.)
Ed has gotten used to seeing me in my pajamas 24/7, often with my hair sticking out like a rat's nest. I would mumble inanely, "I swear, I'll shower after dinner," and then I'd disappear into my writing room and not emerge until 11 p.m., still a mess. But I would have gotten another chapter done.
If all goes well, by the time you read this deadline-itis inspired babble, I'll be hitting "send" and turning in Little Black Dress to my agents and my editor at HarperCollins.
At which point, I plan to sleep for days, watch mindless HGTV, read the books stacked on my bedside table, eat chocolate, and pray that they don't come back and say, "Er, Susan, that thing you sent us? It's a pile of poo." (Has anyone ever had that happen, God forbid?) And soon enough, I'll have to do revisions, turn in a proposal for the next book, and get back to writing again. No rest for the wicked, eh?
With two books due in 2011, I should really take a spin in the nearest phone booth (er, if I can find one) and emerge in my super-powered, superhero suit, consisting of plaid flannel jammie pants, the "rock star" T-shirt Maggie gave me, fuzzy socks, and rat's nest hair. "Ah-ha-ha," I'll say in my throaty--um, squeaky--voice, "I am Deadline Girl! Look out!"
Or else I'll just take a nap.
Little Black Dress has been bumped up in the schedule and will now be out in June from HarperCollins instead of next fall (or, actually, May 17, 2011 if we're being particular). You can already pre-order it online, which is kind of funny as of this moment, since I just finished writing it. Toodles and TGIF!!! --Susan