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July 16th, 2007

I was down in Texas for most of the last week, at the RWA national convention. This is Romance Writers of America, for those of you not in the know. I swear to God, I was working the whole time. Really. It’s not my fault if the current day gig requires me to get a pedicure and an evening gown. Not a tiara or a lapdog, but there were moments that came close enough, so I should probably stop bitching.

One of the best things about selling a book, in my opinion, is that the publisher is a lot more likely to pick up the bar tab than 2 years ago, when I was still struggling. I come from working in professional theater (before the library degree) and the motto there was: “If it’s free, it’s me!” There was never enough money going around, and occasional free drinks and buffet dinners were the sort of perks that kept us from growing up and getting real jobs (with real paychecks and real benefits).

This trip out, along with the running around, panel attendance and luncheon speakers that come with the conference, I got to meet my editor, the fabulous Maddie Rowe of Mills & Boon. Last year, I met with another member of the editorial staff, Joanne Carr. She was lovely, (and paying for the drinks) but the meeting was somewhat spoiled by the fact that I was totally terrified for most of it, still pretty much convinced that they would be wising up at any minute and asking for the advance check back.

Three books in, I’m gaining a little confidence that this isn’t the longest running publishing mistake on record. And I am ecstatic that I got to see Maddie, up close and in person, after one phone call and almost 2 years of e-mails. Not only was she as much fun as I hoped, she liked the book I just sent her, liked my ideas for the next book as well, and didn’t flinch at all when I said it would be a Gothic.

Instead, she said that she would also like me to write a novella, for release in 2008.

A gothic Regency for Halloween!

I was figuring, eventually, I’d have to do a Christmas novella. everyone does them. And I do not, technically, mind Christmas. I like it. I decorate trees and cookies, wrap gifts and sing along with the all holiday radio station (alto harmony, even). After years of making costumes for it, I can quote bits of Dickens Christmas Carole from memory.

It just pisses me off, if I have to think about it before the first frost, when I would rather hang crepe than mistletoe. The minute the leaves turn, I’ll be thinking of setting up my Halloween village decorations, with all the little trick or treaters, going creepy house to creepy house. I will screw the flickering light bulbs into the chandelier, and hang the Bates Motel sign in the front window.

The continual rush to start Christmas, earlier and earlier, stomps all over my favorite holiday and kills my buzz.

Except this year. This year, I can give over to the spirit of the season any time I like, purchase all the Roger Corman Poe movies and claim them as tax deductible research. Between the next book, which is a pretty Gothic murder mystery, and the officially Gothic novella, Halloween will start for me in a week or two, and run to the middle of Advent.

Not only did Maddie buy me two mohitos, God bless her, from a bar where they didn’t water the drinks, she offered me a 3 book contract, it was like she told me Christmas was coming early this year.

Or better yet, that Christmas is coming right when I want it, in December.