The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?
So, it's done. For now. The Secret Shopper Unwrapped, the sequel to The Secret Shopper's Revenge, has been sent off to lovely editor and lovely agent this very evening.
It's the fastest book I've written - mainly because it had to be, as it has a wintry/Christmassy theme and therefore if it misses its publication slot in October, then we have to wait an entire year before we can try again! As a former TV journalist, I'm used to deadlines, but this one has been rather overwhelming!
So here are the vital stats:
Date started 1st draft: 6 January 2009 (though I had been thinking about it, oh, for an entire month before that)
Date finished 1st draft: 17 March 2009
Word count on 17 March: 95,740
Date started my own, self-editing 2ND draft (i.e. before showing it anyone): 19 March
Date finished own, self-edited 2ND draft: 3 April
Word count on 3 April: 105,789
Now I'm sure there used to be a way of finding out how many hours you'd spent on a MS via Properties on Word, but it's currently saying 28 minutes, which would be a record, even for a speedy writer like me. In truth, I've been staring at the computer screen for an average of eight hours a day, five or six days a week, throughout this whole process, probably more.
If that sounds like I haven't had much of a life, you're probably right. An external life, that is. In my imagination, I've been to Christmas grottoes, gangland pubs, luxury hotels, plastic surgery clinics, fun pubs and country villages. I've eaten pomegranates and figgy pudding and turkey (and I speak as a vegetarian of twenty odd years), I've drunk Cristal and egg nog and mint tea. I've had sex with three different heroes (actually, make that four), with varying degrees of ecstasy.
Who needs real life?
I've used Spotify as my new best tool, creating a Secret Shopping play list (which I will work out how to link to, soon) featuring a disproportionate number of Christmas songs. I've also resorted to the truly evil setting on Dr Wicked. I've watched programmes on shop lifting and expat life. And I've enjoyed it, most of the time...
But now the evenings are light, the weather's warm and it's time to emerge into the fresh air. For at least, oooh, a week, before I get the notes back from the Very Important People, and have to start on that third draft.
Wish me luck please!