Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello friends---

I know, I know, I'm a little early on my holiday greetings, but since so many of us are busy either getting ready to party or looking forward to the weekend, I figure what's a little anticipation among friends? I know I'm trying to put together my plan for the days to come, which I wholeheartedly hope will be sunny. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the Fourth of July is one of those uncertain holidays. It can be hot and gorgeous or gray and wet. It's rarely full on raining, but it doesn't take much precip to put a damper on outdoor festivities. At the moment, I'm looking forward to going to a friend's house for fun, frivolity, and a basket of homemade fried chicken, and then it's off to the local fireworks display with my brother and his family. I'm sure a good time will be had by all. And since I've got party food on my mind, this seems like a good time to ask you all what you take to your favorite bbq on a day like today? Red, white, and blue jello salads?

The other big news this week is books and movies. I was lucky enough to see Harry Potter six this week (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), which I have to tell you was definitely one of my favorite of the novels. This is where Harry's journey really begins to turn dark and dangerous. My favorite kind of danger, too--not just fear that one might die, but fear that others one loves might die, and indeed that the world as it has been known might change forever, and not in a good way. When I first read this great book, my son and I engaged in lengthy arguments about whether Snape was good or evil or something in between, and the movie certainly highlights that question beautifully. The movie is absolutely gorgeous and moody and atmospheric; it has some of the coolest special effects I've ever seen. I can't wait to hear what you all think of it!

Speaking of opinions. Who among you have seen the New Moon trailer yet? What did you think? Are you looking forward to the movie in November?

And movies aren't the only winner this week. I just got my copy of Angel's Game, the prequel to one of my all time favorite novels, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Admittedly, I've only just begun to read it, but it's already hooking me bigtime. His writing is lush and lyrical and flat out awesome. I'm trying to savor the novel like a big box of Godiva chocolates, although we all know how hard it is to show restraint when what you really want to do is dive in and lose yourself...

I wanted to thank you all for your interesting comments and questions this week about the editing process. It is an arduous task (as my whining complaints no doubt showed), but it's also a great opportunity to get every single word in the right place, with the right meaning, to tell the very best story possible, and so I value the time it takes. I hope when you all finally read Winter Garden in February you'll appreciate all the hard work.

And speaking of Winter Garden, they're beginning to do some preliminary covers, and you all know that I'll post them here first. As soon as I have a final, I'll shoot it out over the blog.

Kim is tallying up all the firefly entries for the gift certificate contest, and we'll announce the winners next week.

Other than that, not much is going on in the Hannah household right now. In fact, I'm sitting on my back porch, watching the horses lean over the fence toward the apples just beginning to show on the apple trees. There are butterflies and dragonflies everywhere, and my white dogwood tree is in bloom. It's a perfect day to drag out the old laptop and say hey to my friends. So I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing, joyous weekend with your families and your friends.

Also, on a more serious note, I'd like to mention two of the big news stories this week. The deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett (she's still Farrah Fawcett Majors to me, that's how I roll, I guess, even though the love story with Ryan O'Neal has brought me to tears several times this week). These two icons have been a part of my life since my earliest memory. Yes, I had the Farrah 'do for many years and loved it. My bro had "the poster" up on his wall. And what to say about Michael? I used to watch the cartoon Michael sing ABC when I was little, and so many memories are tangled up with his music. Their lives were a real addition to our world, and our culture, and my childhood, and they will be missed. My prayers go out to their families.

What else is there to say? Aloha for now---


ps: I have a good friend battling breast cancer right now, and I would love it if you all could take a moment or two to say a prayer for her...

In production...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hello everyone---

I thought I'd send you all this e-arrangement of flowers. It's a little something I put together for Kim's visit in Hawaii. The flowers are all from my garden. Aren't they beautiful? I have to say, one of the best things about a hot, rainy, sunny climate is the flowers. Anyway, these are for all of you; just my way of saying thanks so much for joining the firefly conversation and making all our lives just a little bit more connected. And you KNOW that uploading pictures is basically the only advanced blogging skill I have, so I like to show it off as much as possible. :) Someday soon I hope to master the possibilities of sending you links to things I find cool on the web, but I don't see it happening in the near future...so we'll just keep kickin' it old school for a while.

So, as Kim mentioned in her recent blog post (and thanks so much for that, Kim), I have been busy with my copyedit for the book for 2010. For those of you who are interested, let me give you a little overview of the production process for a novel. First of all, of course, is the draft after draft of original writing until you come up with a finished manuscript. For me, as many of you know, it's about a year all together---seven months to come up with the first draft, and five to seven more months to turn that first labor of love into something that I'm proud of. Then I send to my editor, the lovely Jen Enderlin at St Martins, and she adds her comments, and I rewrite again for a couple of months. Generally, Jen edits the manuscript twice. sometimes three times, although the third pass is pretty light. I'm profoundly lucky to have an editor who cares that much. When we decide that the book is "done" then the publisher sends it off to a copy editor, who has the unenviable job of finding errors, inconsistencies, timeline problems, historical inaccuracies, poor grammar and spelling; whatever. What you want is a very organized, detail-oriented person who finds EVERYTHING. This rarely happens, however, so you have to read the manuscript with a laser focus. It's hard to do, given that you've already read the book and edited it, literally hundreds of times. Shockingly, I always find mistakes; how can I still have mistakes when I've read it so many times? It honestly makes me feel like an idiot. Anyway, that's where we are right now with the book for 2010. It's an especially time consuming task with this book because some of the narrative takes place in the past, so there are lots of dates to be concerned with. Up next: the page proofs and galleys. These are the manuscript--hopefully largely error-free after the copy-edit--typeset (or however they do it nowadays on the computer) into the form they will have in the final book. This is the first time you see your book where it actually looks like a book. Again, at that point, you have to read very closely for errors that either weren't corrected at copyedit. or are new since copyedit, or worst of all, have been there all along and no one caught before. It's like going through a haystack one piece of hay at a time. I can't wait to hear how Kim is doing with all of it...

In addition to that, of course, I'm plotting the book for 2011. It sounds far away, I know, but believe me, it comes up fast when you have a deadline. The most difficult part of the entire writing process for me is coming up with the right idea. I come up with lots--dozens--of good ideas (my girlfriends will tell you its exhausting just listening to my string of what if ideas), but the right idea is something else. It's as close to magic as the process can be. I can't tell you why one idea is a go and another is a dud, but there you have it. I have to find the right one. And that's what I'm doing now. Last weekend my girlfriend, Megan Chance (a wonderful historical novelist) and I had a spa weekend where we discuss plots, characters, etc. By the end of the weekend, we're both relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to start writing.

That's pretty much all that's going on in my neck of the woods. Not much on tv these days, so nothing to report there. I'm still looking for book and movie suggestions, though, so keep those coming in...

Aloha for now---


ps: I forgot to tell you that Random House is reprinting trade paperback editions of On Mystic Lake and Between Sisters. OML is coming out next week. Let me know if you see it in your local stores!