Friday, October 30, 2009

Witches, Vampires, Mermaids, Werewolves, Ghosts, OH MY!

by Deb Werksman

It's almost Halloween so I think I have to talk about the paranormal romance subgenre and my current thinking.

What I'm hearing is that Vampires are here to stay. However, I'm also seeing that it's absolutely necessary to do something different/interesting/fresh with them and their world. For some really interesting thoughts about why vampires are sexy, I recommend Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan of SmartBitches.

We at Sourcebooks are having great success with Linda Wisdom's light paranormal Hex series, and we're launching a werewolf trilogy by Lydia Dare that I think is going to be fabulous (the werewolves get crankier and crankier as the moon waxes, then they turn into a wolf, then they're calm again for a few weeks--does this sound at all familiar?).

Terry Spear's werewolf series continues to win awards and exceed sales expectations, and her readers love the real-life wolf connection that shapes how her werewolves behave. Ashlyn Chase's first in a new series is Strange Neighbors, in which an entire apartment building is filled with paranormal creatures with hilarious results. And, of course, Judi Fennell's Mer series (mermaids, mermen--Mers!) is also going strong.

And next season we'll have fantasy romances coming from Kathryne Kennedy, featuring gorgeous warlike elves and their progeny.

Time travel and genetic memory also seem to work well--readers love to take that trip into a different time and link it up somehow with the present day.

It seems to be a tough time, however, for ghosts and psychics. I have a theory about this (did you think I wouldn't?). I think ghosts and psychics often function as deus ex machina plot devices and then the credibility isn't as strong. Particularly when they're incorporated into a romantic suspense, where the coincidences seem to abound. Of course, if you have something unbelievably compelling going on, you can get away with many things that you might not otherwise.

We're continuing to add new paranormal romance authors to our list, but if you write historicals, romantic suspense or another subgenre, don't despair! My theory is that if you have a great "hook" you can sell in ANY subgenre, even if that subgenre is on the down cycle. That's because I think readers are out there, but they're following proven favorites unless you give them a compelling reason to buy your book.

Here's what I'm looking for:
  • single title romance fiction in all subgenres (paranormal, historical, contemporary, romantic comedy, time travel, erotic romance, romantic suspense)
  • 90,000 words or thereabouts (80K is ok, 75K (except for erotic romance which tends to be a little shorter) is not, ok? 120K is ok, 140K is not (except for Jane Austen related fiction which tends to be a little longer))--if in doubt, ask me
  • a heroine the reader can relate to
  • a hero she can fall in love with
  • a world gets created
  • there's a hook that allows me to sell the book in 2-3 sentences
  • the author has a demonstrable career arc
Happy HALLOWEEN, everybody!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

5 Reasons Why I Love Shapeshifters

Why do I love the furry critters? Considering the zoo in my house, a shapeshifter, or more, wouldn’t bother me one bit. If nothing else, I wouldn’t suffer cold feet during the winter, would I? Plus, look at this picture. Wouldn't you adore a Jake in your house?

There’s so many of us who adore shapeshifters for one reason or another. For me, I tend to look on the quirky side. When I first mentioned Jake in 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover I had no idea he was a shapeshifter. At the time he was a hunky carpenter the witches liked to watch through high-powered binoculars. When he showed up in Wicked by Any Other Name I realized he was a perfect fit as the Border collie that hung around the witches. It would have been way too typical to have a wolf roaming in the forest but no one in town would think a Border collie just might be more than he appears.

So here’s five reasons why I love the furry guys.

Is there anything more faithful than the furred kind? Once they find their mate, their relationship is forged for life. You don’t have to worry about them sniffing after that sexy blonde that lives around the corner. Their eyes, body, and soul are only for you. And if they come home after a long night with long hair on their jacket you just know it’s theirs. What more can a woman want? While they might not bring your slippers when you get home from work, they just might lay a sizzling kiss on you that’s way better than shoes.

Stamina. Just to be totally strange here, I watch my three year old mini white Schnauzer with his large stuffed octopus every evening after dinner. What can I say? It’s dinner and a show at our house. Then there’s when he eyes a large plush German shepherd with that ‘hey baby’ eye. I fear the day will come when he’ll do more than eye the toy. Put Barney in human form and any woman would be singing the Hallelujah chorus.

Many shapeshifters have a darker side and how many women do you know that loves that total bad boy that makes you tingle inside? Don’t we like walking on the wild side? We wouldn’t think of taming them. That would just ruin the fun.

Who else could keep you as safe as a shapeshifter could? We are talking incredible strength, fangs, and claws here.

And admit it. We have our dangerous side once a month, so while they turn furry we’re also known to do our share of growling and snapping.

But what about Blair? What would she say? And remember that Blair does have that witchy snark in her.

“Jake is a twofer. If he’s furry I can take him to a dog park, although I always make sure to conjure up a license for him. I can watch him chase his tail … or cars. He makes a great foot warmer. He also gets along great with Stasi’s dog, Bogie. Plus no way the neighbor’s cat comes around. I may be a witch, but that doesn’t mean I’m a cat person.”

There’s quite a few shapeshifters in my books and not just werewolves. There’s Willie the Wereweasel in Hex Appeal, the cop with a drop of WereChihuahua blood, the usual panthers, wolves, etc. I like to create a varied community and I think I’ve done that. And you can expect more in future books.

The fun part of writing paranormal is that anything goes even with the creatures. After all, how many witches wear magick bunny slippers or have a gargoyle hanging around them? Just as the shapeshifters in my books vary from dark and nasty to sexy and downright cute in Jake’s case.

We all love something different when it comes to shapeshifters and for me, it’s the variety. It’s knowing that in my world you’ll see the dark and the light, both sides of the coin, and every cliché in between.

I hope you enjoy Jake’s part in Hex in High Heels. There’s nothing sexier than a shirtless guy wearing a tool belt. And another of Jake’s secrets is revealed in this book. Talk about a guy no woman could resist!

I know I didn’t.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A tale of two bookstores

I didn't intend to go into a bookstore yesterday. It just sort of happened.

Actually, I think my car is possessed by a evil entity which insists that I periodically check out my local Barnes & Noble and Borders to see if they have my books in stock. I say evil because I never know how this will make me feel.

First off, my regular Tuesday morning riding lesson was canceled, so I had the time free to run a few errands. I needed new shoes--which is always a hassle--a few things that my DH asked me to get for a Boy Scout function on Thursday, a training collar for my new puppy, and some environmentally friendly dish soap, which is only available in two stores that I know of.

It was chilly and drizzling, which isn't great for anyone's mood, and though I had little hope for the shoes, I did manage to find a pair of Nikes that fit most of my criteria. Trust me, having a wide foot is worse than having a wide you-know-what when it comes to buying things that fit. Most of my shoes, this pair included, have come from the men's department, which is okay if you're buying sneakers, but not so good when you're looking for something a bit more dressy. There was a buy one get the second pair half price sale going on at Shoe Carnival, but I'll swear, I bought the ONLY pair of shoes in the entire store that were a men's size 7 4E--shoes that are even now making me painfully aware of my feet.

Then I bought a new hair dryer so that I'll have one to take with me when I go to the INRWA retreat next month and won't have to leave Budley hairdryerless.

My next stop was the import grocery, where I bought a variety of olives, the dish soap, and some Scottish ale, which was NOT for the Boy Scouts.

Exciting stuff, isn't it?

Then that evil force made me drive to B & N, where I found one copy of Slave on the shelf. It was face out, and wasn't signed. Not another book of mine in sight. So, I ask myself, What does this mean? Have they sold all of the others and are waiting for more, or did they return them? We never really know, do we? There was one bright spot: the copy wasn't signed, and the last time I was in there, I signed all the books they had. Hmmm.... So, does this mean they've reordered, or just taken the sticker off? Nope, it wasn't signed. So that means they sold them all, right? I hope so.

I asked once (a very long time ago when I was only self-published) if they ever did booksignings there, and the reply was that since local authors usually sell so poorly, they only have group signings once or twice a year. Can you tell that I've never asked them again? I didn't on this day, either.

Then my possessed Honda took me to Borders where I was greeted by a cute young chap who asked if he could help me find anything. It was on the tip of my tongue to say no, but that same evil force made me say: "Do you ever have booksignings here?" He told me that they did have them from time to time, and then asked the fatal question: "Are you an author?"

Following my reluctant, though affirmative reply, he told me that I needed to talk to Lance, the manager, who, of course, wasn't there at the moment. We went on to discuss my books; whether they had them in stock and that the next one would be out in January, etc--which he seemed to think was an excellent time to sell books. I told him I'd talk to Lance at some point, although I feel quite certain that Lance would not live up to my expectations for a man with a name like that, which makes me reluctant to explore that option.

After I began wandering about the store, it became clear to me why they had my young friend posted near the door. They had rearranged it completely since my last visit--which was probably when Rogue came out in March. I finally found the romance section all the way in the back, and being an author with a "B" name, I was practically on the back wall--but (we must look for bright spots when we find them!) at least not on the bottom shelf! They had three copies of Outcast and one of Rogue, which was already signed. Seeing as how there were four of them, that gave me just enough room to turn them face out.

But then, the evil force took me in its clutches once again and I snatched up all three copies of Outcast and took them to the front desk. The man I'd talked to was there with two female employees, who looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I said, "I'm the author. Is it okay if I sign my books?" In fact, I had to repeat myself before one of the girls said, "Well, I guess that's okay. . . " My boyfriend (I was starting to think of him that way by this time) came to my rescue with, "Oh, we did have your book!" After that, they found the stickers and were looking for a good pen when I pulled out one of my own, which was approved by my new boyfriend. After I signed each copy and put the stickers on (in just the right spot so as not to cover up any of Lynx's hotness), he volunteered to put them back on the shelf for me, but I declined, knowing that I intended to put them face out. However, (bless the boy!) he told me to see if I could find someplace where I could put them face out on the shelf. To which I replied, "I'll do that."

So, I then read a few pages from a book called "I hope they serve beer in Hell," which was a riot, but I decided that it would adversely affect my writing style if I were to read it in its entirety, and our editor has to censor me enough as it is. In the end, I left without making a purchase and I splashed through the puddles on the way to my car with a much lighter step--a car that seemed to be saying, "See? I told you this was a good idea."

On the way home, I pondered the meaning of it all. Having three copies of Outcast on the shelf--does that mean they haven't sold any? Or that they've sold them all and reordered? There was the one signed copy of Rogue left, but as I recall, there were originally three and one of Warrior, which was missing. Good sign--at least, I thought it might be. . . Then there was that one copy of Slave at B & N. I really should have pretended to be a reader looking for the rest of the series and raised hell with them. Too bad my friend Suzie wasn't with me. She'd have done it.

Regardless of the meaning, I drove out of town feeling much better than I did when I drove in, so perhaps that evil force wasn't so evil after all. . . .

This blog is too damn long. I should edit it.

Nope, not going to. You're just going to have to experience my insecurity as it is. ;-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Day of Waiting

Ordinarily, I’d talk about the fun I’ve had guest blogging this month and talking about my recent release, Hex in High Heels. Hm, I guess I just did that!

But today is also the day of my husband’s surgery. A day of waiting to hear if he’ll be okay.

Inside, I feel he will do fine and I'll catch up on my reading while waiting.

So do yourselves a favor today and hug the one you love.
I'll also be on the radio this week. Wed. The Donna Seebo Show on at 3pm PT and Thurs. on Sirius XM/Satellite, Broadminded w/ Christine and Molly at 9:30 am PT.
Plus, I'll be signing my Hex series on Halloween night at Eclectic Books, 39520 Murrieta Hot Springs Road in the Margarita Ville Shopping Center in Murrieta, Calif. The signing is 7-9 with live music, costumes and a party atmosphere. I promised my husband I'd bring candy home to him. By then he'll feel up to indulging.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Questions I Wish I'd Asked

by Libby Malin

In my April 2010 release, My Own Personal Soap Opera, soap opera head writer Frankie McNally rarely has to deal with actors' agents. But as writers, we all interact with agents regularly.

(And how was that for slipping a mention of my next book in with the topic of this post? LOL!)

When I first started writing seriously, I queried agents left and right, scrupulously researching which agents would be best for me. For any aspiring authors on this blog, here's a quick rundown of the kind of research you might find valuable (I did):

  • Read Publishers Lunch, the weekly round-up of deals produced by Publishers Marketplace, noting the agents representing works that are in the same genre and of the same tone as yours. Consider subscribing to Publishers Marketplace so you can search their deals database.
  • Use websites like to look for more information on agents, whose names you cull from Publishers Lunch. Also use AgentQuery to look up other agents.
  • Plunk the name of agents you're thinking of querying into the search engine of amazon. It pulls up any searchable book where an author has acknowledged his/her agent and gives you a more comprehensive view of that agent's work.
  • Go to the agency's website, looking at who handles subsidiary rights, whether the agent is a member of AAR (not essential, but a good indicator), and the like.
  • Use various writing email loops to pose the question: "Anyone here know anything about Agent X? Write me privately."

Once I had a list of good agents to pursue, I pounded the cyber pavement with my queries. (By the way, if an agent didn't accept electronic queries, I would think twice about querying him or her because I knew that electronic communication was important to me. It's fast and convenient.)

And then, finally, of course, I waited, my list of "agent questions" at the ready should I be fortunate enough to receive "the call" from one of these exotic creatures.

I was lucky enough to get that call more than once. And I'm extremely happy with my current agent (shout out to Holly Root!) because we're on the same page (groan -writing pun) on virtually everything.

That wasn't the case for my previous agents. Yes, I had more than one. It took me awhile to figure out that a good agent/client relationship is like a marriage as much as a business arrangement. You have to be in sync with each other. You have to respect and trust each other. You have to have the same vision and the same affection for the projects you're handling together. Your agent has to have a working style with which you're comfortable.

A good agent isn't necessarily the best agent for you, if this "marriage" isn't working out.

I had the usual list of questions to ask agents when I interviewed them:

  • How do you handle submissions?
  • How many editors/houses do you submit to?
  • How do you notify authors of editor reactions?
  • Do you have a contract? What is it like?
These questions and more are available on handy websites aimed at writers. But these questions often resulted in answers that all writers want to hear--why yes, I submit to all the major houses and more, and I immediately get back to authors with editor reactions, and my authors can contact me any time--really, any time--they want, etc.

As I became more business-savvy, I started adding to my list of questions, and I discovered that the more I could quantify, the clearer picture I could draw of that agency's work. So here are some questions I wish I'd known to ask at the outset of my career:

  • How many clients do you handle?
  • About how many sales do you make in a year?
  • How many times do you interact with authors in a month?
  • Do you notify your clients when you're going away (a small thing, but it means a lot to me--there's nothing like being all excited about a project, writing your agent, and getting an automated "out of office" reply telling you she'll be away for a week or more)?
  • Do you have a cap on any copying and mailing expenses the author might be responsible for? If not, may I insert one in the contract?
  • How many submissions do you generally do before having the ole "book funeral?"

When I began writing, I would have been too timid to ask those questions. Agents were great. I was small. Now I know that it's better to find these things out right away, to make sure the marriage of author and agent can work smoothly.

For you agented authors--what kinds of research or questions were most useful for you in your agent search? And for unagented authors--what would you like to know about an agent but have been afraid to ask?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Yes! I'm at the Authors After Dark Conference in Suffern, NY, a readers' conference, and Wild Blue Under made its debut at the book signing today and I'm thrilled to say that it and In Over Her Head sold out. With approximately 60 readers and 25 authors (give or take), the odds of selling out weren't all that high, so I'm doubly pleased that all of the books went.

I participated in a Mermaids & Myths event with Joey W. Hill where we discussed our stories. Joey has a beautiful erotic series that is based on the Little Mermaid mythology. It was fun to see how we took the same mythology and came up with divergent tales (pun totally intended). Joey's been published longer than I have, so most of the audience had read her stories, but I was so thrilled to have readers there who'd read In Over Her Head.

I also participated in a panel on fairy tales and with my tag line: "fairy tales with a twist," a lot of people were interested in the stories. And the interest for my upcoming genie series got a nice boost. Many folks signed up for my newsletter and Romantic Beach Getaway Contest.

It's a smaller venue which is great for getting to know the readers and the parties are so much fun. I'm planning to be back next year and encourage anyone with an interest in paranormal stories to attend.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Got Lucky Tonight...

By Robin Kaye with a little help from her friends

My pulse raced. I was afraid to breathe as I reached out to take it in my hand. It was hard, smooth, unyielding. I licked my lips in anticipation waiting to take possession. It was mine, all mine. My only regret was that it didn't come with batteries.

No, I'm not talking about B.O.B., Romeo, Romeo just won the Golden Leaf Award for Best Single Title!

I'm still amazed. Romeo, Romeo was up against two wonderful books, Stolen Fury by Elizabeth Naughton and The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal.

Winning awards is great and I've truly been blessed, but when it comes right down to it, every time I get fan mail, I feel the same thrill. Writing is such a solitary occupation, and when someone recognizes my work, I get such a rush.

I just received a 4-Star Review for Breakfast in Bed coming out in the December Romantic Times Magazine and better yet, one of my fans sent it to me with a note that she couldn't wait to read it. It doesn't get much better than that!

By the way, I'm at the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference this weekend. There will be a book signing open to the public from today, Saturday Oct. 24 from 4:00 to 5:30 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, New Jersey. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ack, I Missed My Post!!!

I had an excuse though!!! :) I'm on a really quick deadline, and planned on pre-posting last night, and voila!!!! Storms knocked out my Internet. And this morning, it was still storming. And storming, and storming.

This is because a higher power than me knows I'm writing about werewolves in Oregon, and how can I write about rainy weather when we're in the middle of a Texas drought? So...I've got my rain, and no longer have to listen to a CD with the rain pitter pattering on it. :)

I still listen to the howling CD Diva Donna sent to me. Thanks, Donna! :) But next, I've got to book myself into a Scottish castle. Anyone want to go with me?

The reason? Book 7 and 8 just sold!!! Yep, two more werewolf tales, only one is set in the Highlands...where many of my ancestors came from.

So, what do you think? Ready for hot men in kilts? Who are a little on the wild--werewolf-- side???

Have a super Thursday! I'm back to work....

Terry, the tardy! Sorry, sorry, sorry!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blog Tour for MY UNFAIR LADY

I just finished my posts for my upcoming blog tour for my December Victorian romance release, My Unfair Lady, and I think it's going to be lots of fun, so please mark your calenders for the following days:

11/16 Writing Fiction: Which comes first, Plot or Character?
Cuckleburr Times

11/18 Why I write historical romance...or, why I love it!
The Burton Review

11/20 Where I compare the heroine of My Unfair Lady, Summer Wine Lee, to Eliza Doolittle of Pygmalion--with a dash of Annie Oakley.
Love Romance Passion

11/30 Author Interview.
Jenny Loves to Read

12/1 What I love most about my heroine, or, my favorite thing about Summer.
Happily Forever After

12/2 Author Interview.

12/3 Top Ten Reasons Why My Hero is Irresistible.
Yankee Romance Reviewers

12/4 My step-by-step guide to how I get inspiration for my writing.
Fresh Fiction

12/7 Destination Truth: Researching the Historical Romance Novel, where I compare my research journey with my favorite TV show.
Romance Junkies

12/8 Interview with Summer Wine Lee, where I step back in time to interview my heroine.
My Book Addiction and More
12/9 My Chihuahuas: two of the sweetest little inspirations for a character in My Unfair Lady.
Books Like Breathing

12/10 My inspiration for My Unfair Lady, or, exploring the Cinderella complex.
Anna's Book Blog

There will be freebies at each blog, so make sure to leave a comment to enter to win. And speaking of winning, I have a new website contest to share:

SECOND cameo contest for MY UNFAIR LADY

Help me launch the December 2009 release of my Victorian romance novel, MY UNFAIR LADY! The prize for this SECOND contest is a genuine agate cameo framed in 14kt yellow gold featuring two lovers embracing. See photo and description at:

This contest is all about spreading the word about MY UNFAIR LADY. To enter, just post the following blurb anywhere on the Internet (Chatrooms, Forums, Blogs, Myspace, Facebook, Etc.) Please, no inappropriate sites, and the blurb cannot already be mentioned on that site. If you don't own the site, please verify that it's okay with the site owner to post the blurb.


Email your entry with MY UNFAIR LADY CONTEST in the subject line to:

A winner will be randomly chosen from those with a verifiable link. Entering the contest automatically signs you up for the author's newsletter. Your information will be kept confidential. Contest ends November 30, 2009. The winning entry number will be chosen using RANDOM.ORG. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. No prize substitution permitted. This contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

Good luck!
Until Next Time,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Kisses

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Recently one of my critique partners and I were discussing favorite scenes in books, what we liked and why we liked them. We quickly came to the conclusion that we consistently liked scenes where the hero and heroine kiss for the first time.

I have fond memories of first kisses from special ‘dates’ over the years. Usually the anticipation of those kisses proved more enjoyable than the actually lip contact. Maybe that is why first kisses in fiction make such enjoyable scenes. The author can take her time building up all that wonderful tension between the hero and heroine and the actual moment of contact never has to be disappointing. The author can revise and reinvent to her heart’s content, and the reader can savor all the lovely anticipation as many times as she wants.

Since my new release, The Treasures of Venice has a dual storyline and two sets of lovers, I got to have all the fun of writing the ‘first kiss’ scene twice! Here is the first kiss between my contemporary hero, Keirnan Fitzgerald, and my heroine, Samantha Lewis:

She stopped abruptly and pulled her hand away.

Keirnan followed her gaze across the street where white letters on a green cloth awning proclaimed “Bello Giardino.” Window boxes filled with pink and yellow primroses decorated the front of the four-story hotel.

“Looks like we’re here.His libido suddenly over-rode his conscience, and urged him to do more than walk away. He fought back the urge. “Thank you again for being such a good sport, Samantha.”

When had he raised his hand? But he must have because it was poised next to her face. Of their own volition, his fingers cupped her cheek. Her smooth skin felt overheated in the cool air. Those ten thousand volts sizzled up his arm and made his pulse hammer.

“And I meant what I said back there on the Bridge of Sighs. He’s a fool. You’re better off without him.” And me.

Though shock flickered across her expressive eyes, she said nothing, the tip of her tongue moistening her bottom lip.

His hand moved from her cheek to cradle the back of her head, the silky strands of her hair flowing over and through his fingers. He lowered his head and slanted his mouth across hers, his own tongue lightly following the path of hers.

She tasted warm and sweet. But without warning, the painted image of Serafina Lombardo flashed behind his closed eyes.

Saints in heaven, he was losing it!

Keirnan pulled back and dropped his hand, but instead of releasing her as he’d intended, he grasped her hand and raised it toward his mouth.

“Take care, Samantha, luv,” he murmured and pressed his lips lightly against her palm. Blood roared in his ears, but somehow he managed to drop her hand before he made an even bigger and far more stupid blunder.

And here is the first kiss between my Renaissance couple, Serafina and Nino:

Nino paced the open space in front of the bench. His graceful movements made her think of dancing. Who had he danced with during Carnevale?

“Well, he was right about the Doge’s niece.” Serafina shifted her voluminous skirts so that he could sit next to her on the bench.

He hesitated for a moment before he sat down.“Maybe so, but he should not have poked fun at you.”

“I…” As at the cemetery isle, warmth seemed to radiate from him to her. “…don’t mind. Besides, I may not have a wart on my nose, but my jaw is too square and my mouth is too small.”She repeated the faults her mother so frequently pointed out, except she never should have mentioned mouth. The instant she spoke the word, her eyes immediately went to his.

She watched in fascination as his lips parted and he spoke. “Your mouth looks perfect to me.”

“Not…” Her hand moved of its own accord. “…so perfect as yours.” Her fingers lightly brushed across his cheek and traced the edge of his lower lip. “Yours feels so soft.”

Serafina lifted her face and his warm smooth lips touched hers. The unexpected contact jolted them apart.

“Forgive me!” Nino leaped to his feet.

“Kiss me again,” she whispered, pulling him back down beside her.

Now THAT is a woman after Aunty’s own heart!

What about you? What are your favorite scenes in a book? Please share some memorable first kisses with us, either your own or fictional.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Typing "The End"

I am thinking we would all agree that one of the high points in writing our stories is to type "The End" in bold print at the bottom of that final page. Maybe it is just me, but I always flash onto the scene in Romancing the Stone when Joan Wilder types those words - on a real typewriter no less - and is dissolving into tears while searching high and low for a tissue. I love that scene! Of course, until recently it was just a humorous moment in a movie with no relationship to my life. Now I have typed those words a few times, most recently two days ago. And let me tell you, it is a fabulous feeling!

Of course, we know that just because we type "The End" it really isn't the end. We will read it over a few more times before we click the attach and send buttons. We will add a little bit here, take away something there, find some typo or misspelled word, all before we are satisfied enough to turn it over to our editor. And then it will be picked over by a series of editors (praise God!) who will find more sentences and paragraphs or - heaven help us - whole sections or chapters that need to be rehashed. Hopefully it will not be too agonizing and the finished, published product will not vary too much from what we submitted.

Yet for all the work that is ahead of us before that shiny bound novel is in our hot little hands, the real challenge is going from a vague concept in our head that starts with some "It was a dark and stormy night" catchy beginning sentence to typing "The End." When we get there we aren't fretting over the work to come. Rather we are leaping for joy at the incredible sense of accomplishment. Like Joan Wilder we are overcome with emotions.

I have typed "The End" after four novels with surging emotions each time. Relief, happiness, satisfaction, giddiness, touches of fear and doubt, and a whole lot more that I am not sure there are names for. The journeys from inception to completion differed and the challenges varied along the way, making each process special. But for me the prior undertakings were similar in many respects whereas this recent “The End” came after a totally unique experience in several fundamental ways.

First off, I was writing a novella. Early in my writing endeavors I wrote two short stories that have now been incorporated into the whole of my saga. I suppose that gave me some experience. However, this time I had a specific word count to keep in mind and that was a very new phenomenon for me. It is one thing to dream up a great story and jot down a hazy outline, and another thing entirely to pull it off within an allotted boundary! “Anywhere from 20-30,000 words” sounds like loads of wiggle room until you get down to those final few thousand and realize you have so much left to say. Yikes!

Secondly, I was given a particular theme to write about. Actually, this was the easiest part for me. Our wonderful editor Deb approached me for a Darcy Christmas themed novella that is to be part of an anthology released next year. She was receptive to any direction I wanted to take as long as Christmas and the Darcys were in there somewhere. Oh my! The possibilities are endless when one thinks about it! Yet at the same time for me this was a first: Being asked to write within a specific topic. But since Christmas is my favorite holiday and I had already written of the Darcys celebrating Christmas twice, it was easy for me to come up with ideas. Perhaps too easy! I needed to rein in the numerous thoughts and keep it cohesive with its own plotline.

Third, I was writing under a deadline for the first time. I know, I know.... Several of you are going to heave rotten tomatoes smack on my head for that one! Sorry!! But for me this was a unique experience. And one I am not sure I liked! Yes, it was good to have that discipline, I have discovered. When Deb broached the subject way back in June, getting a mere 30,000-word novella done by the end of the year (or Nov. 19 as it ended up) sounded like AGES away. No problemo! Heck, I had nearly half of it written before Nationals in July! So what happened? Well, there were vacations to take, conferences to attend, family crisis to deal with, blogs to write, a book to launch, and that pesky RL job to show up for. Oh, and family! Yep, they require some attention! Suddenly that looming date circled in bright red on my calendar was creeping closer and closer. The upside is that I learned to buckle down and get serious, even if that meant turning off the email alert and Facebook chat!

Fourth, my novella was the first undertaking after the release of my debut novel. Somehow the expectations felt different. Maybe most of that was in my head, but with what I hope is a long career stretching out ahead of me and with readers potentially waiting anxiously for the next Sharon Lathan written story (Hey, I can dream!), I felt a keen sense of pressure to perform. Ha, performance anxiety! Something none of my male characters will ever suffer from, but I was occasionally flustered by this annoying voice in the back of my head yammering at me. Sometimes that voice sounded like the critics, sometimes it was my editor, sometimes it was my praising fans, and sometimes it was my own doubt and indecision. Valid or not, like it or not, gone are the days of writing blithely only for my pleasure. I do have others to consider beside myself. *sigh

Yet, as I stare at the typed “The End” to my 29,957-word novella that I have titled, “Reflections of Christmas at Pemberley,” I am satisfied. I really love it! I am confident that Deb will love it and feel it fits perfectly into the themes for this anthology. I know my faithful fans will adore it. I have hope that new readers will smile at the glimpses of Christmas with Jane Austen’s beloved characters that I have given them. And I no longer fret over the critics! LOL! Whatever hair-ripping work may be ahead of me, I have accomplished something remarkable in reaching The End.

Tell me how it felt for you! Your best experience in writing or most celebratory The End you typed.

**On a side note: If anyone is in the Sacramento area over this coming up weekend, be sure to swing by the Citrus Heights Barnes & Noble on 6111 Sunrise Blvd. between 11am to 3pm on Saturday, Oct. 24 to see Loucinda McGary and me, along with several other fabulous Valley Rose romance novelists, at our joint book signing. Not only will it be tremendous fun, but it is a fund raiser for area public schools so also a worthy cause. Auntie Cindy and I hope to see you there!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I vow...

To blog at least three times a week at my website from now on. I've also missed a day or two when I was supposed to blog here! (embarrassed blush)

It seems possible. Daunting, but possible. I look at my life and say, "How can I possibly come up with something to talk about that often? I'm a boring person!"
Friends have told me I'm wrong about that. LOL. So, I promise to try harder from now on.

Now, what I need from you are your ideas! What would make for a blog you or others would like to visit? Do you need witty reparte? I can be witty. Do you want an account of my journey as a writer? I can share my journey. Do you want to know what I wear to bed at night? No question is too personal. I'll even tell you if I've cheated on my diet each day if you like. LOL.

So, let me know what floats your boat. Excerpts? Pictures? Funny stories? The untold truth? Or something different each day so you never know what to expect? I could even resurrect my old advice blog, Ask Ash, where I gave the kind of advice your mother would never think of, delivered with a dose of snark.

I can't wait to get you're input! And to thank you, anyone who wants some bookmarks and or postcards from me, just email me after leaving your comment. is my email addy.

Thanks so much!!!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Potholes in the Rocky Road of Publishing

I'm writing this on Wednesday morning after missing a call from our dear editor Tuesday afternoon while I was out cutting the grass--and after I'd returned her call only to get her answering machine. This was, as you might imagine, a call I'd been waiting for since September 20th when I sent in the manuscript for the sixth book in the Cat Star Chronicles series, Hero. Right now, my hands and feet are cold and I feel an odd fluttering in my chest. How I managed to sleep last night is a mystery. This morning I had to get up early to go to a unit meeting at the hospital. My friend, Suzy, called me at 6:45 and told me not to come. It was cold, dark, and raining and she was sure that nothing very important would be covered at the meeting (she was right), but I went anyway just to give myself something to do before I could make that call. Now I'm writing this blog to kill time before I call her again. I hate being on pins and needles, but in all honesty, I've felt that way ever since I began writing it.

It's hard to write something that you know will eventually have to be altered to meet with someone else's approval. Back when I wrote for fun, I'd write a book the way I wanted it, print it up and let my friends read it. They either liked it or they didn't; there was no rewrite. Being published changes things. Yes, you're always anxious to know what readers think of your work, but for those of you who think getting your sixth book published should be easy, let me tell you this: IT IS NEVER EASY! Fortunately, I do have some feedback from my unofficial critique partner, Marie Force, who read it and liked it. Her chief complaint was that there wasn't enough sex! Imagine that!

Writing this blog now is probably wise, because I'm sure my time will be soon be usurped by the need to revise the manuscript. As the author, I thought it was fine when I sent it in, but when you've worked on something constantly for the past several months, you don't always see the flaws. It's always amazing to me that by the time I get to those final galley proofs of a book, there are still things I want to change.

Now I have talked with her. The gist of it is, she wants me to add more romance to what is, essentially, a science fiction adventure story. The first third of the book needs to be "reconceived" to make it read more like a romance novel and less like Star Wars.

I'm supposed to take a week off from writing while the assistant editor reads it and gives us her two cents worth. Then I do the rewrite and have it back to her by November 4th. I wish this process was a little more straightforward, and that I could get feedback along the way instead of handing in a finished product that really isn't finished. It isn't that the changes I'll have to make won't make it a better book, but it's very different from the way I view things in light of my "other" career. As a critical care nurse, I pretty much have to do things right the first time or someone dies. No one dies when you don't get a book right. I have to keep telling myself that, but at the same time, when I'm told that this, this, and this, is not right about the book, I feel like I've committed a cardinal sin. This, of course, is not the case, but it's still how I feel.

The ideas will kick around in my head for a while and then they will emerge and the process will continue. I'll probably like the second version of Hero better than the first, but, oh, how those potholes will rattle your brain when you first hit them. . . .

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Emerald City

No wizard. No ruby red slippers. No yellow brick road. No Wicked Witch of the West. Well, there could have been the latter.

Except this Emerald City was Bellevue, Washington and an annual writer’s conference that was put on last weekend.

I was up there to hook up with friends such as the awesome Yasmine Galenorn and Maura Andersen and meet other writers. I also gave a workshop titled ‘My Bunny Slippers Ate My Homework – How To Create Memorable Creatures’. What can I say? Fluff and Puff insisted I do it.

I sat in on fun workshops, connected with old friends, made new ones and drank lots of coffee. Tullys Coffee in the hotel lobby could do peppermint mochas, so I was there as often as an overly caffeinated person could be.

And a fun bookfair open to the public. They had three of my books and I had a lot of people asking for 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover. I enjoy talking to readers, because I tend to pick up new authors to read from them and it’s fun to hear what they like about my books and if there’s something they don’t like, I find that informational.

Did I sleep much? Not really. Too much too do and I was out in the evenings, but that was okay. These weekends don’t happen very much.

This is me at the bookfair and the view outside my hotel room.

I would highly recommend this conference to anyone and I know I’ll be back next year!

Also, for anyone in the San Diego, CA area I'll be signing my Hex books at Mysterious Galaxy, 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.Suite #302San Diego, CA 92111 on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2pm. I'd love to see you there!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pretty as a Picture

by Libby Malin

Sourcebooks' artists have done it again! The cover for my April release, My Own Personal Soap Opera, is in and I love, love, love, love it!

Let me count the ways:

  • The cover captures the spirit of the book--humorous women's fiction where the heroine's main question is: where am I going?
  • The cover plays off the word "soap" by having the woman sitting in a tub. The end of the book has the heroine in a tub, so it's a really nice overlap.
  • The cover "brands" my kind of story because it has similar elements to my first Sourcebooks release, Fire Me--girl's partially obscured face in the lower left corner, blue-sky, cloudy (or bubbly!) background, a sense of impishness and wonder.

So, thank you, Sourcebooks artists for another fantastic job!

Covers are so important, and authors rarely have control over what goes on them. One of the things I've loved about Sourcebooks is how they ask authors to let them know what kinds of covers we like, what kinds of covers we'd like to have ours emulate.

I've had friends published elsewhere who've anguished over a misstep on the cover--art that doesn't communicate the tone of the book at all. Even though the book is a good one, if a reader picks it up expecting one thing, because of the cover design, and getting another, because of the actual story, disappointment is inevitable.

Readers can be pulled into picking up a book if the cover is enticing. And they can bypass perfectly wonderful novels if the cover is blah or just not the kind of images that attract that book's readers.

A couple years ago, I read a mystery novel by a talented writer who I'd "met" on an email readers/writers loop. It was a magnificent book featuring a female protagonist who solves the mystery. The protagonist had a wry sense of humor, but was no hard-boiled detective. She was an amateur sleuth, in fact. The book was so well-written that it made me think: hmm, if Raymond Chandler had been a female, this is how she would have written mysteries.

As great as that book was, if I'd come across it in a bookstore, I never would have picked it up. Its cover art was angular and abstract, communicating a sense of hardness and grit that was at odds with what was on the page.

Have you read books where the cover art doesn't jibe with the story? Or have you bypassed books you later liked. . . because the cover art didn't attract you the the first time? Or how about books that are a perfect marriage of both art and story, but it was the art that triggered your purchase?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Domestic Heroes

Since Robin has her Domestic God, and I’m writing this while eating the dinner my husband cooked and served me in my office, I figured that he’s such a good guy, he needs his own title. And since I dedicate all my books to my own personal hero, Domestic Hero is perfect for him.

My husband would be the first person to be embarrassed to have not only this title, but also a blog post dedicated to him. He’s more than content to give me the spotlight. I think that’s why this writing for publication thing has worked out so well over the years.

See, he’s the one who found Romance Writers of America for me. I’d written my first story, but had no idea what to do with it from there. I had no idea about imprints, or who published what, or how to get an agent. No clue about POV, and inciting incident, or what a black moment was. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had some innate sense of building up to a crisis, but as for what it was called… pfft.

I had no idea you couldn’t head-hop (in the same paragraph), or that you weren’t supposed to give twenty pages of scene-setting and backstory. But I had this story, knew I wanted to give writing a shot, so I sat my butt down with my #2 pencils and spiral notebooks (how I wrote before I had a laptop), and started working on the next Great American Novel.

He's always encouraged me to follow my dream and he found my local chapter. I think he even emailed the president and got the info. He handed it to me and said, “I’ll watch the kids. Go.”

So I went. (Yeah, maybe the “watching the kids” part was part of the appeal!) I came back from that meeting jazzed about joining, about their contest and about the national conference. And he, God love him, told me again, “I’ll watch the kids. Go.”

Now, once a month, we have that same conversation. “I’ll watch the kids. Go.” And off I go to my chapter meeting.

He brings me meals to make sure I remember to eat. He brings me fruit, water, juice, cashews during the day. He cleans and would do the laundry if I’d let him. (One too many gray bras put the kibosh on that.) He shuttles kids to work/friends/school/practice for me. He picks up things at the grocery store and drops off his own dry cleaning. All of this amid travelling for his demanding job.

Sounding a lot like a Domestic God, doesn’t he? I’ll leave that title to Stephen, but my husband is my own personal hero. He believed in me more than I did. He was the driving force behind this - if he was willing to do all those yucky chores, how could I not give this my all?

And the ironic thing was, it wasn’t until In Over Her Head was published that he even read one of my stories, and he almost didn’t read that.

It was okay; I don’t necessarily enjoy the stuff he reads. But when one of his neighbor buddies started reading it and said how much he enjoyed it, Hubs figured he’d better see what it was all about.

He’s always said, “It’s great, Jude,” or “Of course you finaled in that contest,” or “Of course Editor X requested it; why wouldn’t they?” and "Of course you'll be published." But he gave me the best compliment when he finished In Over Her Head. He looked at me and asked, “So can I read the next one now?”

He's my hero because of his unflagging support, encouragement and belief in me. For the things he does so that I can make my dream come true. For showing our kids what a good friend, partner and spouse is. I couldn't have done it without his support.

I found out today that Wild Blue Under, which launches Nov 1, is not only in the warehouse, but it’s shipped, and my author copies are on their way. Looks like Hubs should have something new to read for the weekend.

So, who’s your hero?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

By Robin Kaye

Have you ever stopped and wondered how the heck you got where you are? I had a moment today when I did exactly that. I had just gotten out of the shower after eating lunch--I know, I should have taken my shower at a respectable time, but I began work, as usual, after making my first pot of coffee at 6:30 this morning, wearing my pajamas and ended up working in them until it was almost time for me to leave.

Before my shower, I made lunch for myself and my home-schooled daughter, the 13-year-old ballerina, and left her with instructions to do the dishes. After getting myself back together, I investigated strange noises coming from the direction of the kitchen and found my 120 lb. yellow lab with his front paws on the kitchen counter slurping up the last of what was almost a quart of my homemade spaghetti sauce. Twinkle-Toes had neither done the dishes nor put away the leftovers. Sambuca, my dog, looked at me with a guilty sauce-laden face and I wondered how I got there.

I never planned to marry or have three kids. But then I never planned on falling in love with my very own Domestic God either. After we married, my husband and I moved to Idaho. I never planned to move back east. Yet, there I was, watching my dog slurp spaghetti sauce in my home in Maryland where we moved nine years ago. I never planned to home school my daughter so she could dance 30 hours a week. Yet here I was doing just that.

It’s funny where life leads us. I can’t say I regret doing any of the above. I love my life, although I would rather still be leading it in Idaho. Yet, if I had stayed in Idaho, I probably would never have begun writing toward publication, so although I miss my home, I can’t say I really regret the move.

Like most writers, writing is something I’ve done since before I can remember. Unlike most writers, writing was never something I wished to do for a living--probably because it never occurred to me that anyone would ever be interested in reading my work. If I had stayed in Idaho, I wouldn’t have been bored spitless enough to ever think of sharing my scribblings. But if you take a woman from all her friends and family, there’s no telling what she’ll do to keep herself occupied. I wrote. And for that, I’m most thankful.

Sharing my writing has changed my life so drastically; there are no words to express it. I went from being a stay-at-home mom with three little kids, to a being novelist. It came at a time when I was at a crossroads in my life. My youngest daughter was just gaining her independence, and I turned around one day and wondered who I was. I was Mom and Stephen’s wife, but if I took my family out of the equation, I felt like a big nobody. I no longer knew who Robin was. It left me reeling. It took a while, but writing helped give me back my identity. I’m a writer and I love it. I adore getting paid to daydream. It makes something I’ve done all my life and something I always got in trouble for, highly respectable. Who knew?

Writing has also given me so many wonderful friendships. It’s opened up a whole world full of real and imaginary characters to me. When people ask me what I would be doing if I weren’t an author, I have to say that I have no idea. A writer is who I am. It’s a part of my DNA, not something I could change or would ever want to. Being an author has changed my life in so many ways, in ways I never could have imagined just a few short years ago. Just like I could never have imagined all the places I would go.

So what about you? Has your life taken you where you imagined it would?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ready to Go Spelunking???

In Destiny of the Wolf, my heroine and hero end up in a cave--seems appropriate since Silver Town is an old silver mining town, and so at a point in the story...they end up in one of the them.

Have you ever been in a cave? Normally, they're cold. Very cold. And when I've visited them, I'm usually dressed for warm weather, so it's a real shock to the system. Deep in the bowels of the earth, you'd think you'd be getting closer to the hot molten rock of the center of the earth, and it would be warmer, right?

But then again, you're farther from the sun, so it should be colder, right?

In some caves, it's definitely colder. I visited one in Maryland, loved the shimmering quartz in the rocks, the water dripping, the stalagmites reaching to the ceiling and the stalagtites clinging to the ceiling, and in some cases, the one dripping sediments on the other until a column is formed.

But did you know that some caves deep in the bowels of the earth are actually warm? I visited one on an island in the Caribbean, the Hato Caves, made of limestone from fossilized coral within a coral reef, where the Arawak Indians left petroglyphs 1500 years ago. Long nose bats live there and it was once both a shelter for the Indians and a burial ground. No whispers of ghosts there that I heard, but maybe at night when all the tourists weren't around? Who knows. But it's so warm, it increases the limestone deposits and so it was really spectacular as far as all the wondrous out-of-this world-looking cave formations.

When I was researching Yellowknife as a place to set Legend of the White Wolf, the gold mining caves under the earth there are also warm. There in the Canadian Arctic! Yep, the miners wore no shirts while they worked in the sauna-like conditions. And once they stopped mining, they hope to harness the geothermal energy underneath the earth to use for the city's energy resources.

Well, in Destiny of the Wolf, compared to a blizzard, the cave Darien and Lelandi end up in feels warmer, free of the chilling wind. Everything is relative, you know. But then again, they find just the way to heat things up while they're stuck in a cave until they can find a way out. :)

Did I mention I have claustrophobia?

So being jammed into small spaces, surrounded by rock walls and people behind and in front of me, with no quick way to escape really isn't a feeling I like to experience. However...seeing the beauty of some caves is...and so, conquering my fear, I couldn't have enjoyed seeing the wonders beneath the earth, millions of years old, and the amateur geologist in me, loving to see this for real, and not in pictures in a book, most. And the historian in me loves to visualize what it might have been for ancient peoples to have hidden in these caves for protection and shelter.

Have you visited a cave? Where and what was it like? If you haven't, ever desire to do so?


"Giving new meaning to the term alpha wolf."

Monday, October 12, 2009

My new writer's office

by Sharon Lathan

For several months now I have been eyeballing the extra room in our house to be an office for me. The history of this one room is convoluted and messy! Once upon a time it was my son’s bedroom painted navy blue with jungle animal wallpaper border. Then when my eldest daughter moved out and he moved into her larger bedroom (necessitating the paisley flowers of her room be revamped with a wall mural of a nature scene) the room housed our brand new iMac as the kids’ exclusive computer, and served double-duty as my sewing room (rarely) and general catch-all/storage room (frequently!).

Several years and 2 iMacs later, I decided the jungle print had to go and redecorated yet again. It was 2004 and the room served as the PC and Xbox gaming room since the now-high school daughter had a laptop and my son was far more interested in playing WOW than doing homework! It also was now the cat’s watercloset and so stuffed with junk that a serious re-do was desperately needed. Plus, and more importantly IMO, I needed a place to keep all my Lord of the Rings memorabilia! So with a new, enormous desk assembled, several gallons of sunny yellow paint applied, my son’s collection of LOTR “guys” carefully displayed on the shelves along with my precious statues, and the 12’ x 6’ vinyl LOTR banner draped over two walls our multi-purpose computer room was unveiled. This photo is my adorable son chillaxing in the perpetual summertime room.

Skip forward five years and the clutter/filth that reigns in my childrens’ rooms had grown along with their stature and now invaded all four of the rooms on that side of the house. Even the cat was beginning to complain! In the hope that my pristine presence amid their chaos may rub off (doubtful), and because I really needed a private space to retreat to and keep all my author-related materials together, a renovation was again undertaken.

If left up to me I would have merely done a thorough cleaning, packed away the bulk of my LOTR stuff, and moved my desk in. In fact, that is what I was in the midst of when the news of my mom’s passing reached us. My hubby, bless his sweet heart, decided that keeping my mind and body engaged in heavy labor would prevent me completely falling apart. Plus, and I think the larger incentive, was to get rid of the sunny yellow that he always hated! To that end he led the charge, dragging me to Lowes and Walmart for paint, supplies, and wallpaper. For three days we painted, cleaned, and rearranged. It turned out beautiful and I love having a place that is entirely mine.

What do you think? Nice, huh? I won’t go so far as to recommend non-stop, back-breaking work as a curative for grief, but I can say that in these past two weeks I accomplished more around the house than I have in the past 6 months! And it was definitely worth it as my new, official office is wonderful! I still share it with the cat - or rather he allows the rest of us to muck up his space – but we cohabit peacefully so all is well there. Will the calming blue and secluded atmosphere enhance my writing productivity? Time will tell. But at least this one room will stay clean. That I can promise!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cruising and Shameless Book Promoting

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

As most of you know, Aunty recently returned from a fabulous eleven day cruise to Mexico. Yes, I had a wonderful time, but I'm here to tell you that it wasn't all fun and games!

Okay, maybe it really was fun and games, but our lovely publicist Danielle has rubbed off on me, because I also found an opportunity to promote my newest release, The Treasures of Venice. In the midst of my cruise, no less!

In case you haven't been on a cruise before, you might not know that not every day is spent in a wonderful and exotic port. Some days you have to spend getting from place to place. On these 'at sea' days, the cruise director and his staff try to provide entertaining ways for passengers to occupy their time.

Since I am not a sun-worshipper, a card player, or an exercise fanatic (EEK!), I do appreciate the efforts to provide other ways to occupy ones time. After all, there are a limited number of times Aunty can force herself to watch "Star Trek," "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," and "My Life In Ruins," (5, 3, and 4 respectively) especially on that tiny 7 inch TV screen in my cabin! And the singers, dancers, and comedians perform only after dinner. So games like Movie Trivia and the Newly-Wed and Not so Newly-Weds are fun diversions and also offer audience participation.

On one of our later sea days, the game for the afternoon was "What's My Line." Suddenly, Danielle's admonisions about taking every opportunity to promote our books echoed inside my head. Here was a great opportunity because *I* had an unusual and interesting job! With my DH egging me on, I went up before the game started and put down my name, hometown, and my unusual occupation: Romance Novelist.

Turns out, the cruise director, who was in charge of the game, also thought my job was unique, and I was one of the 6 contestants selected to stump the panel (two comedians and a singer). While I nervously awaited my turn on stage, the two people who went on before me had really wild jobs. One owned an "adult entertainment" store and the other was a female SWAT cop. I was afraid I would be a little anti-climactic after those two. But when the assistant held up my occupation for the 100 or so people in the audience to see, a ripple of applause and positive laughter went through the crowd.

Once I heard that, my nerves disappeared! I even managed to give some funny answers to the panel's questions (Panelist: Does your job provide something everybody needs? Aunty: I think everyone needs it, but no, not really.) and I totally 'stumped' them as to my job. In short, I was a success, and the cruise director even asked me the title and release date of my latest book! HOORAY! I clearly and distinctly enunciated each syllable, knowing I would make Danielle proud.

Best of all, when I got back to my seat, dozens of people asked if I had a card. Did I?!?! (I was never a scout, but I know how to be prepared!) I grabbed my purse and started passing out bookmarks and post cards! My DH even helped. And after that, in the hallways and elevators, other passengers would look at me and ask, "Aren't you the writer?"

So now you all know what I did on my vacation. I promoted my book!

Do you remember the game show "What's My Line?" What about other old game shows from television? Which ones were your favorites? Do you like the newest ones like "Deal or No Deal?"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why does romance get such a bad rap?

MSNBC ran a poll a year or so ago to see how many respondents enjoyed reading romance. Great, right? An opportunity for those of us who love uplifting stories with a happy ending to show the world our support of romance novels, right?

Well, yes and no...

Romance readers and writers turned out to vote their support of romance novels, and when the poll closed, those who voted yes, they read romance, outpaced those who did not.

My beef? (And I do have one!) The tone of the poll, the wording of the question and response choices made my skin crawl. Clearly the poll was created by some yahoo who'd never read a romance and could clearly need a little light and love in their otherwise jadded and cynical life.

Romance novels - yet again- were called bodice rippers. To vote yes in the poll, you had to click the choice that said "Yes, yes, yes! Bodice-rippers are my ultimate escape."

To vote no, you were to click 2. "No way. I don't touch those books."

You could almost hear the distain behind the word THOSE.

And the third choice was "Sometimes while on vacation at the beach." As if reading romances while on vacation at the beach was the only time any sane person would lower themselves. Give me a break! How condescending!

Not only does the term bodice ripper sets my teeth on edge, it shows the author of the poll relied on stereotypes and out-dated cliches rather than giving the poll any effort or research. The tone of the poll was offensive to me and many other romance readers.

So romance continues to get no respect in the mainstream media. Maybe the recent news that despite the recession, romances continue to sell well will make naysayers think twice... but probably not. Sigh.

Those poor critics just don't know what they are missing...
Beth C- devoted romance fan and romantic at heart. Long live romance!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Times They Are a-Changin'

“All is flux; nothing stays still.” Heraclitus

It’s a strange time here at Sourcebooks… I know what some of you are thinking—“WHAT?!?!!? My book isn’t even in stores yet/My book just hit shelves! What do you mean?”

In publishing, we work MUCH further in advance than most people realize. That’s because the media (magazines, television, even newspapers and some websites!) works ahead, too. As a publicist, it’s my job to be aware of what’s happening… before it happens! Believe it or not, even though the August and September books have long been on shelves, October is just getting underway and we’re preparing for November and December, I’ve got new ARCs coming in for February. And March? Yeah, those will be in soon, too. There’s even one ARC I received that’s for MAY.

When I say it’s a strange time, I mean it! There comes a point in the middle of the beginning of each season where my focus has to be split—while still staying very much with the current season (and let’s face it, the turn around in romance is basically an instant so I know how important the here and now is), I also have to start planning out my expectations for the Spring 2010 list. So I feel like I’m in this warped kind of limbo. Each year since I’ve started at Sourcebooks (which is almost 2 years now), the Casablanca list gets longer and better! We’ve got some great talent on board, and it’s amazing to see how so many of you continue to grow in your writing, as well as bringing on a whole new batch of authors. Additionally, fiction of all sorts (romance, historical, contemporary) has become a new initiative for Sourcebooks, meaning more books in the marketplace, and more importantly, more planning and scheduling from yours truly!

The Fall 2009 season is well underway, and we all know it has been a success! Rave reviews, “well attended” blog tours, book signings, etc. But think about this—what’s next? What should I be thinking about for my future books? I know it’s something I’m constantly thinking, brainstorming, talking about.

So, apologies for my recent absence from the blog; I know my comments have been fewer in recent weeks. And believe me, it’s tough because I like blogging and commenting and asking questions! But someone has to send books out for review, right? Before you know it, Spring 2010 will be here, and I’ll already be thinking about Fall 2010…

What’s on the horizon for your writing?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting Away From It All

As rewarding as it is, writing can be stressful. Not, for the most part, the actual writing, but there is so much about the business of writing that isn't writing! As in every business, things don't always go your way and sometimes it's nice to do something distinctly NOT business oriented.

Like read a good book outside of your genre of writing. Recently, I began a murder mystery blog. I've always loved to read murder mysteries, especially 'cozy' murder mysteries.

What are cozies? Well, I'm glad you asked. According to Wikipedia, "Cozy is a subgenre of crime fiction whereby sex and violence are downplayed or treated humourously. The term was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work that tried re-creating the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. " Think of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple as one of the foremothers of the cozy murder mystery protagonist, though the modern incarnation is just as likely to be a thirty-something mom on the run or a busy forty-something shop owner, as a nosey knitting biddy in a small village.

Here are some signs you're reading a cozy:
  1. The protagonist (main recurring character) is a woman.
  2. The setting is a village or small town.
  3. Violence is seldom graphic, and often occurs 'off stage'.
  4. The writing may be light-hearted; humor is sometimes a feature of the dialogue or characterization.
  5. Secondary characters are sometimes exaggerated for humorous effect.
  6. The protagonist is NOT a law enforcement professional, nor a private detective. However... her significant other (husband, boyfriend) or a family member may be.
  7. Any one of the 'rules' may be broken, but not all of them.
For a wonderful description of what a cozy is, visit this best-in-the-business 'cozy' blog:

Some leading writers of 'cozy' murder mysteries:
  • Diane Mott Davidson
  • Katherine Hall Page
  • Dorothy Cannell
  • Carolyn G. Hart
  • Joan Hess
  • Camille Minichino/Margaret Grace
  • Cleo Coyle
  • And many, many others, too numerous to name.
Personally, I have found that romance readers often read mysteries as well, I'm not sure why. I think it probably has to do with the fact that both are excellent 'comfort' reads, reassuring us, in a stressful world, that there are good people out there, and things do sometimes end the way they should!

Also, they often give you (as many romances do) a fascinating look into businesses and hobbies you've never looked into before. Right now I'm reading 'Through a Glass, Deadly' by Sarah Atwell, a mystery about a glass blowing shop owner and instructor!

So now you know what my main recreation is... I loooove reading cozy murder mysteries - and I'm overjoyed most of them are series books, because when I like a character I want to read more! - and I'm enjoying blogging about them. If you read them too, drop in on me sometime at: Cozy Murder Mysteries