11/20/2009 07:31 PM

Hey all–Just had the best trip to New York! This is my first “business trip” since I flew to West Virginia in the mid nineties to interview telephone operaters about place-name pronunciations for a text-to-speech computer program. I feel very grown-up 🙂


Gavin has to travel for work a lot, and so accrues thousands and thousands of air miles. I used some of them to book a first class ticket!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my! I felt like one of the fat people of the future in Wall*e. I just reclined, used the remote every now and then to choose a new episode of CSI Miami or The Office, and accepted the fancy food they kept putting in front of me 🙂

Best Agent Ever

My agent, Cameron, is the best. She picked me up at JFK and I stayed at her place. She has a *lovely* family and is just plain terrific to hang out with. We had great pizza. And her husband makes good strong coffee.

The Agency

On Monday I went with Cameron to the Agency for the morning. We chatted with the agency head, Don Maass, for over an hour. He’s an absolute legend in publishing, and a wonderful person too. He gave me good advice about approaching the next book, and freaked me out with his flattery about “The Whole World.” Oh my goodness. Don Maass thinks my book is fab. I’m still floating.

Random House

Security at RH is intense. Sure, visitors need to check in in the lobby and get a special card to trigger the turnstile and get eyeballed by the security guard. But then, when exiting the elevator on any and all floors, there are security doors on either side of that area, which, I think, can only be triggered by real employee security cards. Even then, after we’ve gone through *those* security doors, there are more security doors when crossing into other areas on the same floor. I was baffled, but Gavin suggested “new Dan Brown.” I guess they have to be super-careful about anticipated bestsellers!


Randall introduced me around to various people working on producing the physical book. (Including Loren, production editor, from high school! Hi, Loren! She has a *great* view from her very cool office 🙂 I was shocked at the way they lit up with recognition whenever he said my name. People at Random House know who I am!!!!!!!!


I’d been freaked about what to wear. Loren assured me jeans would be fine. I guess they were–no one seemed to mind! I wore a nice purple blazer on top, and it was so warm I didn’t need a coat.


I brought presents for everyone I expected to see. So much to juggle! 1) One never knows who drinks caffeine and who doesn’t, who drinks alcohol and who doesn’t, etc. I assumed that everyone likes chocolate, except for one person who I recall from an earlier lunch doesn’t. (Found out during lunch that my editor is allergic to flowers–good to know for the future!) 2) I wanted the gifts to be “Cambridgey”, both because it’s hard to find something that they couldn’t just get in New York, and because Cambridge is the setting of the book. 3) Had to be careful to not give things that were “too much”; need something to work up to at other milestones! 4) And must also keep hierarchy in mind, with perceived value. Conclusion: Photography and art books, a college scarf, a watercolor and lots of chocolate were all involved.


Greek restaurant. Yummy shrimp shishkebabs. Kate, my acquiring editor; Randall, my editing editor; and Katie, my publicist, who I was meeting for the first time. Me and my agent Cameron. Things I learned: 1) Since the restructuring two years ago, things are better organized to support a book over the long term all the way into trade paperback, not just primarily on launch of the hardcover, which is reassuring. 2) Randall has been WONDERFUL about talking up the book in-house. 3) Endorsements (also called “blurbs”), which are those quotes of praise from other authors that you see on covers, are hard to get, because the people you want are already swamped with requests. We’re starting to angle for those now. 4) Even though the book launches in May, the sales machine (meaning pitching to booksellers) is already in motion. My job at the lunch: to be interesting and affable so that Katie the publicist will feel comfortable booking me for interviews.

Best Editor Ever

Randall makes awesome homemade macaroons 🙂

Tacos for Dinner

There is no Mexican food in Cambridge. There is *great* Mexican food in Brooklyn. Thanks, Cameron!

Deb Sarah

Sarah Pekkanan, one of the other authors part of this year’s Debutante Ball group blog (I post every Monday at http://www.thedebutanteball.com), had a “media lunch” (ooh! fancy!) in New York while I was there, and we met for five minutes in front of Penn Station. So fun! I was also able to pass her an “ARC” of my book. Aside about ARCs: That stands for “Advance Reader Copy” though actually at RH they’re called AREs for “Advance Reader Edition”. ARCs are what reviewers get to read, because they need the books well in advance of launch. These copies are paperback, don’t have the cover yet, and are pre-proofreading, so reviewers aren’t allowed to quote from them. I needed to pass one on to Sarah, because all us on the blog will be talking each other up when our various books launch.

Pam apt

My sister Pamela lives in the skyscraper above Random House. Her *gorgeous* apartment is on the corner and has floor-to-ceiling views of lovely New York. What a treat to stay there for my last day! That seemed better than waking my agent up at 4:50 AM when I caught the airport shuttle super early the next morning. Plus it was convenient to meeting up with…

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad met me for lunch at Pam’s apartment. Dad was so thrilled to see my ARE. Mom took pictures of him hugging it 🙂

Massage, Meloni

I went out for reflexology (which is tough to find in Cambridge) and, on the elevator back to the apartment after, I saw Christopher Meloni from Law & Order: SVU. Nice man! That was fun 🙂

Airport Lounge

Man, those places are *great* for getting things done. It was time to get back to work on the book itself! After the copyedit of the manuscript, which I described in a previous email, there were the First Pass Pages. Those are the pages all laid out like in the final book. (And the interior is *gorgeous*.) I did a round of comments on the FPP before the trip, and then it was proofread. The *awesome* proofreader (and Randall and Loren) caught a dozen things, for which I’m really grateful. Then came the Second Pass Pages. Normally the Second Pass is kept in-house but, at my request, I was allowed to review an electronic copy–which I did in the airport lounge at Heathrow. Found two small things to correct. Yay! Productivity!


More reclining, more TV, more food, more relaxing. Amping up to get back into the rigors of “mommy mode” in Cambridge 🙂


I feel like a pro now! My editor’s asked me to read another Random House manuscript and consider blurbing it. Hee hee! Someone thinks my opinion of a book might matter!

New Flap Copy

The flap-copy description of the book has been commented on by various departments and accordingly adapted. Such an interesting process! For example, there was concern that the emphasis on the undergraduate characters might turn off older readers. Anyway, here’s the revised version:

At once a sensual and irresistible mystery and a haunting work of rich psychological insight and emotional depth, The Whole World marks the beginning of a brilliant literary career for a superb, limitlessly gifted author.

Set in the richly evoked environs of Cambridge, England, The Whole World unearths the desperate secrets kept by five complex people-students, professors, detectives, husbands, mothers-secrets leading to explosive consequences….

Two Americans studying at Cambridge, Polly and Liv, become quick friends, strangers to their new home, survivors of past mistakes.  They find a common interest in Nick, a handsome, charming, seemingly guileless graduate student.  For a time, the three engage in harmless flirtation, growing closer while doing research for Gretchen Paul, the blind daughter of a famed novelist.  But betrayal, followed by Nick’s inexplicable disappearance, brings long-buried histories to the surface.

The investigation raises countless questions, the newspapers report all the most salacious details-from the crime that scars Polly’s past to the searing truths concealed in the photographs Gretchen cannot see. Soon the three young lovers will discover how little they know about each other, and how devastating the ripples of past actions can be.

I queried a couple of things in there, but was overruled. No fuss; this is marketing, not content. For example, I don’t think the consequences “explode” so much, but Randall assures me that marketing likes explosions 😉

Book 2

Lots of talk about the next book. Second books are hard!! But hearing Cameron talk up the two sections I’ve let her read, and learning how eager my editors are about it, really encouraged me. A deadline is pressure, but it’s nice to be wanted 🙂 Must get back to work on that now! Cameron gave me really helpful comments to work with, and Mom is coming out the first week of December to help with the kids so that I can really focus. Hope to have the first half done by Christmas. Don Maass (agency head) has cautioned me to not rush it–second books can make or break careers. It was nice to be given “permission” to take as much time as I need. I’d been worrying that I was lazy.


I’ll be forty before the end of the year. And where will I spend that special day? Researching a fictional murder site, of course. One of my characters kills another in lovely Bristol, where Gavin spent his teenage years in boarding school. Poor man–all our getaways turn into research trips!