Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's in the Mail!

Yes, sports fans, the book is in the mail! My baby is winging her way to the publisher, hopefully even as we speak. (Only we're not speaking. Hmm. Problematical, that is.)

Anyway, I polished stacked librarian's edits while under the influence of way too much coffee to be prudent and must now take full responsibility to what results. From a cold, harsh, practical viewpoint, I know that the larger world won't know (and wouldn't care if they did) how much hard work went into this project. Even more difficult to accept is that most people don't "get" this project - they get excited when I tell them I wrote a book (I wrote a book! Sorry - it's still sinking in and it's real tonight, since the book is in the mail and all), then they visibly deflate when I explain that it's about faith and belief in the works of Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer with footnotes. I swear, it's as if they're mentally patting me on the head like a kindergartner who's showing off finger-painting.

Well, pooh on them, I say! It's solid work (mighty fine finger-painting, to my way of thinking) and I have to believe it'll find the audience it's meant to find. And I wish I had the energy to celebrate in some outrageous way - preferably involving drizzled chocolate - but I'm just too bloody tired.

And what else is in Mockingbird's mail? Oh, look - the Collector's Edition of Serenity!! Well, isn't that rather like kismet, considering everything with this started back with that? (Although I'm too bushed to watch it tonight - classes stop for no author.) But it is a pleasant coincidence. Serendipitous and Serenity - I like that. The Little Movie That Could. I'm sure that, somewhere, there's a Fox executive sobbing at his desk: "I don't understand it! We did our best to kill it, and it just keeps coming back!" I must say, this is shiny packaging - miles better than the first DVD, the packaging of which was just a dismal mess.

Happy now. Also tired, but mostly happy. And a little hungry. But still mostly happy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Online Classes and Other Musings

The goal line for the manuscript is in sight, but I've yet to cross it. The whole honkin' doorstop-sized draft is in the tender hands of stacked librarian these days, who is looking over it with the flinty eyes of Ilsa the Editing She-Wolf. (No, she's not quite like that, but it's a fun image, isn't it? "Mockingbird, you dummkopf! Ze comma is meant to go here!" [thwack of riding crop on page]) I'm hoping to have the entire, whistle-clean package in the mail to the publisher by the end of next week. Check back for updates.

In the meantime, I've been dealing with the fact that my house is an old one, with old-house problems. Nothing is totally square, or plumb, or standard-sized and we shall speak not of the pink tile. This has caused a small-to-middling sized project to balloon to a "Hmmm - let's put this off six months" size. At least I reached that conclusion before I started the project in any meaningful way - I must be getting smarter.

I'm also teaching my first ever "pure" online class - I've done hybrids before (some computer-based, some in-class), but this one is set up so I never actually see my students. Think of it as a Internet-abled correspondence course. (Actually, we will have one face-to-face meeting when we have our courthouse "field trip." [It's a business law class.] Wonder how we'll know each other? Maybe a rose in our lapel or something equally film noir-ish.) So far, so good. Most of my students seem eager and able and are champing at the bit to work ahead. (There will be none of that. I'm still figuring out a few things about how all of this actually fits together.)

With all of this going on, it's safe to say that I'm busy enough to stay out of pool halls.

But that finish line is so close . . .

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Yes, that's right, sports fans - Mockingbird is flying to Turkey!

I'm sure there's a bird-based joke that should go there - birdbrain, perhaps?? At any rate, I have been approved to travel to the BUFFY HEREAFTER conference in Istanbul which is being held in mid-October. That gives me about two months to learn all the lyrics to that song. You know, the one that goes:

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night . . .

You'll have to forgive me - I'm a little giddy. From my perspective, this is a huge deal. The fact that the conference is happening shows that the academic study of Whedon is continuing to gain steam. The conference organizers are showing confidence in my work by selecting my proposal for inclusion in the event. The school is showing me a great deal of support in my interests and area of developing expertise by financially backing the trip. Oh, and Cambridge Scholars Press has indicated interest in publishing a collection of the polished papers from the conference. Probably won't affect me since my paper is based on a chapter of the book that McFarland has under contract, but hey! it's still cool.

As to that, give me another ten days-two weeks and I think the behemoth will be in the mail. I'm not sure if I'm ready to send my baby out into the cold, cruel world, but you gotta let go sometime.

A book, a chance to have the ol' passport stamped, and a successful encore of a very funny play - not too shabby for a girl who grew up out so far out in the country there wasn't a stoplight!

Pass the stuffing - I'm going to Turkey!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

End with the Beginning

Don't you just love it when things come together? I know I do.

The encore of COMPLETE WORKS is chugging along nicely. Houses have been small, but enthusiastic. The actors are comfortable enough to improvise and play off of each other in ways that make the show sparkle each night and my backstage crew makes it all look easy. It's not, but they make you believe that it is.

The part of the show that never fails to bring down the house is the last four minutes or so when the actors finish HAMLET ("the rest is silence"), then do it again. Then faster! Then - backwards!! Oh, the effort and labor that went into nailing down those last few minutes, for not just the lines but also the blocking is run backwards, like a film - only it's live. And it's wonderful to see that hard, hard work rewarded. So the show finishes with the beginning ("Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt . . . "), which ties in with my next point.

Thank you and pass the chocolate, I finished the first edits on the manuscript today. With (yep, you guessed it) the introduction. Maybe you have to see everything before you can accurately point out the way in the intro. At least that's the way it seems to me.

This means the book is yet another step towards completion on my end. Once my editor-fiends (umm, I meant "friends." Yeah.) have finished their reviews of the text, there will be one more round of edits to cut our duplications that I missed the first time. This is an occupational hazard of writing so much - you don't write in order, so points get made and then re-made. There's no way I caught them all. But I don't want it to go out like that - it'll seem like I made my points with anvils: "Lookit, Chumley! She thinks Whedon is all about forming relationships with people who aren't like you are! She must think that - she says so over and over and over again! Geez, couldn't she have just said it twice and trusted us to figure it out from there?" So more edits.

If it's a performance, it's all in the rehearsals, folks. If it's a book, it's all in the re-writes, for hardly anything that's truly worthwhile sparkles the first go-round. Diamonds have to be cut and so do manuscripts. Then, and only then, do you get shine and fire.

And it really is all about having a good beginning!