The Publication Countdown Continues: Cover Art, Page Proofs, Author Photos… Oh, My!

A good gulp of hot whiskey at bedtime — it’s not very scientific, but it helps.

~ Sir Alexander Fleming

The publication process of my novel just keeps rolling on toward the finish line. And, let me tell you, it’s a whole lot of work, and a heckuva lot of fun.

Last night I returned from a whirlwind trip to Columbia, South Carolina, where I spent a couple of nights with my aunt, zipped down to Myrtle Beach and back for a photo shoot (more on this), perused the stacks at The South Caroliniana Library for research for the novel on which I’m currently working (slowly, painstakingly slowly), and as a bonus, got to have lunch with an old friend.

Before I detail the trip, let me just say that I was by myself, in the car, for a total of 9 1/2 hours. I can’t remember the last time I was alone in a car. I think it was about three years ago. I played my music, loud.

My road trip playlist:
– Sugarland
– U2
– The Pogues
– The Dixie Chicks
– Sam Phillips
– Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
– Brandi Carlile
– The Corrs
– Aimee Mann
– Dolly Parton
– Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
– Suzy Boggus
– a mix my sister made for my bachelorette weekend (back in 2004)
– “Here Come the 1 2 3s” by They Might Be Giants (yes, this is a kids’ CD. I forgot about that fact until halfway through the first song, but it didn’t matter, because these guys rock)
– and soundtracks from Crazy Heart, Sweet Home Alabama, and Alfie.

Yes, there’s some serious woman power happening there.

I sang at the top of my lungs. I had a milkshake. It looked like this:

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It was heaven. (I’m conveniently forgetting about Myrtle Beach traffic.)

In the short time I spent at my aunt’s gorgeous 1930s bungalow in the Shandon area of Columbia, we drank adult beverages, ate delicious food, visited with another aunt and uncle, talked to her cat, looked at old photographs, went for a walk around the neighborhood–which is one of the prettiest, if not the prettiest, in Columbia, and just talked. I slept in my aunt’s huge sleigh bed, and didn’t open my eyes from the time my head hit the pillow until my alarm went off in the mornings. Much as I adore the little voice at home who shouts, “Mama! Daddy! Come get me! I had a very nice sleep! Mama! Daddy! Where are you?! I want out!” this. was. divine.

But back to work.

On Monday, I jetted down to Myrtle Beach for a photo shoot (for my author photo which will appear on the back of the book) with my ridiculously talented and gorgeous cousin-in-law, Paula Player. (You really should check out her web site, especially if you’re planning a wedding or event anywhere in the Grand Strand vicinity, but also just to peruse her incredible photographs.) We met at Paula’s friend’s studio, Paula did my makeup (because I am, still, a tomboy), and had a great time. After, we went to lunch, talked nonstop about life and marriage and our kids, and the seeds were planted for what I foresee to be a beautiful friendship.

I’m excited to see how the photographs turn out. And nervous. I asked her if she could make me look 10 years younger and 20 lbs lighter. She laughed.

Back in Columbia, within the lovely and hushed walls of The South Caroliniana Library, I played with research for the novel I’m currently writing. It’s set in the 1850s in Charleston, South Carolina, just before the whole world is about to explode and change forever with Civil War (or as some refer to it down here: The Late Unpleasantness), and it’s narrated by Josephine Scott, the great-great granddaughter of my characters in Keowee Valley, who’s a sort of Southern Jo March. On advice from my new friend and pen pal, the writer Philip Lee Williams, I started to create a timeline for the novel by sifting through old newspapers of the period. I pray that this will help my complete inability to outline (or even really plan at all) the story.

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But The South Caroliniana Library. Oh, that library. It’s gorgeous. Quiet. The staff are wonderfully helpful and kind. (Yes, they let me in the place in spite of the fact that my blood runneth orange.)

There’s something so wonderfully old-fashioned and high-academic about it. You fill out a request, and they retrieve books from the stacks for you. You get to sit at these lovely desks with your own lamp. I could’ve spent hours there.

But I digress.

Currently, two booky things are going on in the world of Keowee Valley:

1. My publishers just sent me the Preliminary Page Proofs for the novel. This is exactly what the pages will look like inside the book itself. What I have to do–and what I’m doing now–is to go through the novel line by line, looking for any sort of mechanics errors. This ain’t easy. It’s a long novel. But fun, still fun!

2. My fabulous publishers have recently commissioned the artist M. C. Krauss to create the cover of Keowee Valley. While she mostly works in fantasy, she also works with individual subjects and covers. Her digital work is stunning, ethereal and cool, and I’m thrilled to see what she dreams up.

So that’s what’s going on in my world, at least on the book end of things. Add every day life to the mix, and in the words of my husband, minus the expletives, “It’s a crazy-fest.”

But I honestly wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

Enough about me. I want to know: How are y’all? How are your summers going so far? What have you been up to in your writing, working, and reading worlds?


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