New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Connie Brockway is an eight-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award, which she has won twice. Her new novel, The Other Guy's Bride, comes out in paperback today and has been hailed as "a knockout story by an exquisitely gifted author" by Lisa Kleypas, another RITA award winner and reader favorite. Already hard at work on her next red-hot romance, Connie took a few moments to share her failsafe Begin the Book Ritual with us.
Now that The Other Guy's Bride has been edited and copyedited, the website revamped, and the bound galleys sent off to reviewers, I have begun my next book. Again. For the fourth time, actually. But this time, it's going to stick.
How do I know? Because this time, I performed my Begin the Book Ritual, and it's always worked before. And no, contrary to a certain someone's unkind suggestion, this does not involve throwing my thighs on the altar of Hershey's Kisses by eating a two-pound bag in one sitting. My ritual is far more arcane and a good deal less tasty.
First, I clean my altar, er, desk. I gather together the heaps of paper that I've accrued since the last Begin the Book Ritual, intending to deal with each and every one. This gets boring after a while (say 10 to 15 minutes), so I settle for sorting them into piles based on weight and size. (As an aside, I've noticed that almost all invoices are printed on flimsy paper while dental cleaning reminders come on high-grade linen. Dentists! What a racket!) Then I move the piles to the floor in an unused corner of the office"”generally not easy to find"”where they will sit for a few months until a dog or small child starts shredding them. At this point, I will file them all away in a folder labeled "FILE THESE!" I have lots of those labeled folders.
Then I take all the trinkets, photos, tchotchkes, and doodads off my desk and spray everything with some lemon-scented pathogens in an aerosol can. (Yup, I said "aerosol." That tells you how often my desk gets dusted.) I smear this around with a piece of my husband's T-shirt, which may have been a whole T-shirt a few minutes before but has now given up the ghost in the service of Connie's Begin the Book Ritual. There are worse causes.
Next, I carefully dust each trinket, sometimes humming a little ditty as I go, sometimes crooning fondly as I recall the circumstances by which it came into my possession. Mostly I wonder why I have so much junk on my desk.
As soon as the desk is clean, I reorganize said junk and consider ridding myself of the Elvis Graceland plastic snow globe. I never do. We all need our Happy Places, and Graceland under glitter is mine. Not that I've ever been to Graceland"”and now I can never go, because the real thing can't live up to the snow-globe rendition. After all, I doubt they're dumping glitter from the skies (or are they?).
And, finally, I am ready for the last part of the rite: prayers. I don my high-priestess robe (which may, to the uneducated eye, bear a startling resemblance to a cheap acetate robe from Chinatown), plop myself down in my old leather swivel chair, crack my knuckles, and place my fingers on the keyboard as gingerly as a medium does on a Ouija board.
I squeeze my eyes shut, tilt my head heavenward, and murmur the most heartfelt of any writer's prayer: "Please don't let this be a piece of crap."
And thus it begins again.