Birthdays and Book Contracts

Alice in Wonderland Cake, made by the lovely Georgina

Alice in Wonderland Cake, made by the lovely Georgina

So, it’s been a bit of an exciting week, here at Pembroke Cottage. Firstly, and most importantly, the Daughter turned four, with all the pomp and ceremony you might expect. She’d spent weeks, possibly months, planning the details. She’d chosen the theme – Alice in Wonderland, of course – decided on the invitation design, discussed party games at length, looked at cake sketches, revised and refined the guest list, chosen the perfect Alice outfit and matching headband… everything. She had also become convinced, erroneously, that once she turned four, she’d suddenly be able to whistle. I think this was the only major let down of the big day.

But there were moments when I though the party might not happen at all. Almost all of the party supplies were selected and ordered while I was in a medicated haze earlier in the month. I lost four hours staring at a party website and, afterwards, wasn’t actually able to recount what I’d ordered. And then, the day before her birthday, I got a phone call.

Let’s backtrack a little. Last year, I wrote a new romance that I submitted to Mills and Boon. They liked it, but had some changes they wanted me to make. I met with my very lovely editor at the Festival of Romance in November, and we discussed the plot changes and character tweaks we wanted to include. All of which was fine, except I was committed to another big project at the time, and had to admit I wouldn’t get around to the revisions until the New Year. Luckily, that wasn’t a problem – they wanted to see it whenever it was ready.

So, back to 2013. The other project reached a point where I could take a couple of weeks off, and once I was over the lurgy I got stuck into the revisions for M&B. I was about two thirds of the way through by last Thursday, when they called.

M&B: “How are the revisions going?”

Me, thinking of the teetering stack of scribbled on manuscript pages covering my dining table: “Um, okay. Should be with you by next Wednesday, actually.”

M&B: “Any chance we could have it tomorrow…?”

Alice, at her partyAnd so ensued a rather panicked revision. Because I tend to revise on the printed manuscript, with post-it notes, highlighters and red pen on hand, every single change I made had to be typed up. And since I’d written several whole new scenes for this one… it took a while.

But I got it done – somewhere in between roping in friends to take on choir duties, getting a few hours sleep before the Daughter bounced in wanting to open presents, making pink pancakes for breakfast, packing the daughter off to school, opening more presents on her return, food shopping for the party, taking her to a friend’s birthday party, opening more presents with Mum and Dad when they arrived, and collapsing with a glass of wine and chips from the chippie on Friday evening.

I made the husband clean the house for our guests.

And then, I had to put the whole thing out of my mind to focus on the party. Fortunately, my very talented friend, Georgina, had agreed to make the amazing Alice in Wonderland cake you see above, so all I had to do was knock up a few jam tarts, chocolate chip muffins and some rather oddly shaped biscuits. Savory goods were delegated to Dad, the Husband took care of the decorations, Uncle Mike was in charge of keeping all adults in attendance topped up on tea and coffee, and Mum stage managed the party games and treasure hunt for the party bags.

Then, at half past four, we sent all the sugar-high children home, bunged stuff in the bin, and I went and passed out upstairs.

I’d just about recovered by Monday, when my lovely editor called to tell me that Mills and Boon wanted to sign me up for a two book deal.

Obviously, I said yes.