Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Books

The synopsis is done. Yay! There's a fair amount of hand-waving toward the end, to the effect of "chaos ensues, and then at last the good guys triumph." If I were a newer author, I'd probably have to work it out in more detail, but I hope by now they know that I will pull it off, and that it's also likely to change a few times along the way. For instance, the ending of Damsel Under Stress that's in the final book is not only not what was in the first draft, it's not even what I originally turned in to my editor.

I think I'm going to take a bit of a break from the unrelenting House marathon today because five or so hours of that show a day can do funny things to your brain. I seem to be imagining all kinds of medical woes. For instance, the back of one of my legs was sore last night, and I almost couldn't sleep because my initial thought was some kind of blood clot (which happens in about every other episode). I had a vivid mental image of the graphic animation they use to show the clot forming and breaking off, and then moving up the leg to the lung, and then the patient starts gasping for breath as the doctors scream about getting to an OR. I have been sitting down a lot lately, which increases the risk for clot formation. That kept me awake for quite a while. And then I remembered that the other day I almost fell down the stairs when I was daydreaming about the book and nearly missed a step. I was able to save myself by pulling back up with the leg that was still on the step above and by shifting my center of gravity (thanks to all those years of gymnastics and ballet). But now the muscles in the leg that had to do all the pulling are a bit strained. Plus, even though I spend a lot of time sitting at the computer, I seldom hold a single position for more than five minutes, and I seem to go up and down the stairs at least once an hour, which makes DVT highly unlikely. So I think tonight I'll watch a fluffy holiday romantic comedy while I wrap gifts before I start imagining my head exploding, or something equally medically ghastly.

One thing I like to try to take time to do during the holidays is set aside a good reading day in which I put on some Christmas music, turn on the lighted garland on the loft railing, make some cocoa, and spend an afternoon reading a book with a substantial Christmas component to it. It doesn't have to be a "Christmas" book -- you know, the kind where someone has to discover the true meaning of Christmas and change their life or warm their heart or learn that Santa Claus really is real -- just something that maybe takes place during the holiday season. I love a good romantic comedy type book set at Christmas time. For the last couple of years, I've read and re-read A Promising Man by Elizabeth Young, which has the heroine meeting the hero when she's out Christmas shopping and which includes an impromptu visit to his parents' home for Christmas dinner. If they come out with a paperback edition of Love Walked In in time for the holidays next year, that may be my book then. This year, I have one that mentions Christmas in the description, so we'll see. I'm just not sure that I'll really have time to devote an afternoon to reading this year.

Damsel Under Stress is my holiday book, one that I like to imagine others might curl up with as they listen to Christmas music and drink hot cocoa. It takes place in the time frame starting about a week before Christmas to about a week after the New Year, and includes stuff like Christmas shopping, ice skating, Christmas with the folks (whose folks? Hee, hee, hee!), and a big New Year's Eve party. I went to New York in December to research it and got to experience the full New York Christmas, including store windows and snow. Yeah, I know, it's coming out in May. My original plan when I first proposed it was for it to come out for this holiday season as a Christmas book, and then have book 4 be my "summer" book, since the publisher considers me a "summer" author. But they said that wasn't a great idea. A lot of the big bestsellers have books that come out in the late fall, leading up to the holiday season, so my book would be less likely to get good bookstore placement and would have been eclipsed by those other books. Obviously Christmas-themed books do well and do get prominent displays, but then they get totally swept aside after the holiday season and may not even be on the shelves at all. So, it was better to treat it as a book that just happens to be set in late December/early January and release it at a time when books of my general type usually do well. But hey, with book 4 currently scheduled for January release, next holiday season would be a great time to re-read the first three books! (Not to mention the fact that they'd make great gifts.) Meanwhile, book 4 takes place in the late spring, but is (for now) coming out in January. Go figure.

Now I just have to figure out how book 5 (still not even a working title in mind, alas) should start. Usually, I have a pretty vivid opening scene in mind, but nothing has come to me yet. I think I'll put on some Christmas music, turn on the lights and curl up on the chaise lounge on the loft to brainstorm.

For the record, some other books I enjoy at this time of year include The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (though for Christmas reading I may stop before the plague actually hits) and her book of short stories, Miracle; A Christmas Carol (of course); Lucy Talk by Fiona Walker; and Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes. I need to find more good books for the season, I guess. I may also re-read Bridget Jones's Diary at this time of year, but I consider that more of a New Year's book. I sort of associate the Harry Potter books with Christmas, because they're good reading for curling up on a winter day, they usually include some major event happening at Christmas, and it was during the Christmas holidays that I first read and really got into most of the series, so my brain tends to map them to reading with the Christmas lights on.

I swear, next year I really am going to try to manage my life so that I'm not frantically working in December. Less procrastination in October and November would have helped on that front.

And in other news, RIP to my Trained Attack Bougainvillea, which apparently didn't survive the trip indoors when cold weather hit. It promptly dropped all its leaves and now is little more than a thorny stick in a pot of dirt. On the bright side, the Christmas cactus is yet again blooming like crazy. I've had that plant for nearly fifteen years now.

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