The thought was devastating. I'd never, ever missed a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise. I knew they'd be understanding, but I hated to disappoint them. I was disappointed in myself, even though I'd done everything short of moving mountains to get the book done in four months.
I sent an e-mail to Kathy, the managing editor, and to Kirk, my personal editor, explaining the situation and apologizing profusely. I said I could almost certainly have the book done in another six weeks, the first part of October.
Once again, Kirk proved to me that he's the best editor a writer could hope to have. His reply was something along the lines of, "We'd much rather have a quality product than a rushed one. Take the time you need."
(Have I mentioned that Kirk rocks?)
They hadn't decided on a firm release date, but they'd been toying with a possible Valentines Day release. The delay pretty much nixed that. So they penciled in a tentative fall 2010 release.
As soon as school started for the kids, I buckled down harder than ever, baking and cooking and otherwise chocolating (yes, it became a verb) all day long, every day. I'd plan out a strategy each day: which recipes I'd make and in which order, depending on what temperature the oven needed to be at and how long they took to bake, or if I needed to swing by the store for a certain ingredient.
While one recipe baked or cooled, I'd be at the computer typing up the results of a success.
Most of the time, the house looked like a flour, sugar, and cocoa factory had exploded inside. The counters and floor were scary. I did more hand washing and ran the dishwasher more times every day than ever before and still never caught up.
I don't have much memory of what we ate for dinner. My husband would walk in the door from work, see me bustling around in an apron, and asked if I was working on a recipe or actually making dinner. Usually, it wasn't dinner.
Life was utter madness. But I was going to get the thing done if it killed me. (I think it almost did.)
When I finished the actual recipes, I spent a week or so finishing up the other content I'd been working on periodically throughout the process: an introduction, explanations of ingredients, specific information on chocolate, a glossary, fun chocolate anecdotes and trivia, and so on.
That part, I must admit, was some of the most fun I had. (Possibly because it was, oh, writing.)
As the days went on, I gave Kirk a firmer date. I promised him that he'd have the manuscript by Monday, October 5th.
I thought that on that date, I'd be simply giving it a couple of final touches in the morning before e-mailing it off.
Instead, I was up late finishing the manuscript, working until I was happy with it.
But I made that deadline. I'm sure Kirk was long gone from the office by the time I submitted the manuscript around ten o'clock that night, but what I am tentatively calling The Chocoholic's Easy Guide to Bliss landed in his inbox on October 5th, as promised.
I celebrated not with chocolate, but with wonderfully salty chips and salsa.