If you’re looking for me, I’m no longer operating out of the beautiful writing studio, c/o the master suite sitting room – I’ve relocated back to my office on the first floor. This will sound loopy (which is a pretty apt description for me at this point in the project), but it was just too damn sunny and bright up there, and, as heretical as it sounds, I found myself praying for dark, cloudy skies every single day. White walls, white sofa, big windows, and with the sun so strong now that the season has changed, the blinding light was reflecting off everything and I felt like my retinas were burning all day long. So I’m set up in my office again, albeit with a lovely king-size quilted brown coverlet taped up as a makeshift window treatment to block the sun. So damn glamorous, right? But c’mon, I’ve made it no secret that for me, surroundings are an integral part of my productivity.

The good news this week is that at long last we were put in touch with our development editor, who is the Official Keeper of the Schedule. Although by my best estimate, I’ve got 182 book pages written, I knew that there was no way I was going to finish everything by May 15th, and I also knew there was no way the publisher needed it by that date – so the challenge was to track down this editor and find out the real deadline. We got her very excited about the project (she’s especially looking forward to reading the piece on Ina Garten, since she’s a huge Barefoot Contessa fan), and the new deadline is now just before Memorial Day, which gives us an extra two weeks. That works perfectly for me (I’ll take the whole manuscript with me to the beach to read over the long weekend), and it’s great for our editor, since we’re slated to go to production on June 4th. She’d like a complete chapter by this-coming Monday, so she can feed it to production for them to begin doing layouts. I have the back end of every chapter done; it’s just that I have to write most of the letters at this point. I began with Chapter One, and I finished up a tight draft yesterday. I’ll let it marinate over the next day or so, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got a full chapter ready to roll for her on Monday. So that made me feel instantly better knowing that I don’t have to rush through this critical part of the book.

Next, I’m moving on to the letter for Chapter Eight, which sounds illogical, but actually we want to use that full chapter plus the Introduction to hook someone amazing to write a Foreword. Last Friday night (over sushi and sake, of course), we compiled a short list of high-profile people we’d like to go after to see if anyone would be willing to lend their credibility and built-in following to our project. It’s all about marketing, after all, and it’ll be David’s crowning coup to land a big “get.” I’ll be sure to post a photo of his flared nostrils if he indeed scores someone from our initial list.

Of course, once I heard the word “production,” from our editor, I began to panic, because you can guess I have definite ideas for things like paper color, fonts, line-spacing, margins, and other design details. Again, can you say “loopy?” I’ve been holding aside a book with a great interior design, so I scanned a few pages and sent them off to the editor yesterday before I got engrossed in my writing and forgot all about it. I looked at book after book, and everything about this one was very easy on the eyes. (But hey, maybe if my retinas hadn’t been seared, I’d feel differently!)

One of my girlfriends recently referred to my situation as “imprisonment” –and I’m in a mental state where I can’t disagree (although I’m blaming this on a combination of the antibiotics I finally decided to take for the never-ending sinus infection, and – all together now – loopiness). The Prison Warden, a.k.a. The Big Bad Wolf, grants release once a month for hair coloring, twice a month for nails, dinner out once a week, coffee dates only with friends who have upcoming surgery, and a five-minute phone call every other day. HELP! I feel totally out of touch with everyone, and that makes me terribly sad. I am forever indebted to pals who have emailed and Facebooked just to make sure I’m still alive. Keep those amusing, catty, encouraging messages coming over the next three weeks please…laughing a few times a day is so much less fattening than the alternative…chocolate!

Anyway, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I must admit that I’m mighty proud of what I’ve crafted so far. It will all be even more sweet when I can come up for air.

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