Friday, July 31, 2009
One month from tomorrow, my second release The Treasures of Venice is scheduled to hit the shelves. I'll be a multi-published author! WOW! I don't think the full impact has hit me yet, and probably won't until I go into a book store and see both my books there on the shelves.
I'm still getting accustomed to the concept that people are reading my stories and loving my characters. I don't think this truly hit home with me until a couple of weeks ago. The afternoon of our Sourcebooks book signing to be exact! The other booksignings I've had thus far really didn't compare with this one. Suddenly there were all these people I didn't know lined up for me to autograph my book. WHAT A RUSH!
(Here's a photo of me at the signing.)
Many of them commented on how much they liked Irish heroes, and of course, I told them my next book had an Irish hero too. In fact, my critique partners and anyone else who has read The Treasures of Venice, say they love this hero even more than my previous one! I think it's because Keirnan Fitzgerald is a charmer, and also a bit of a rogue. Actually, my heroine is more than a little suspicious of him when they first meet.
See what you think:
Maybe she was still dreaming. Hunky strangers just did not swoop into her real life. Or if they did, she’d learned better than to trust them. They were never around for long. Probably when she looked up he wouldn’t be there at all.
“Came for Carnevale last week, did you?”
Okay, she had to peek. He was still there, movie star handsome with his mused hair and knowing azure gaze. He held open a gallery door and she stepped inside.
“No, we only arrived yesterday. From Florence, I mean. We were there for three days.”
She sounded like a flustered fourteen-year-old. Apparently her scanty knowledge of how to act with an attractive man had abandoned her along with her philandering fiancé. She could feel a blush creeping up her cheeks as they crossed the polished wooden floor.
“So, you’re not traveling alone.”
Was that an undertone of disappointment in his voice? No, she must be mistaken.
“I’m with a tour group. There are fourteen of them, fifteen counting me.” Sam’s blush deepened as the Irish hunk’s perceptive eyes made a slow trip from the toes of her shoes to the top of her head. She took one of those deep, cleansing breaths she’d learned in yoga then extended her hand. “I’m Samantha Lewis. Most people call me Sam.”
“Sam?” He frowned in a playful way. “That’s no name for a pretty girl.”
Rather than shaking her hand, he placed it in the crook of his arm and escorted her to a side door. The leather of his jacket felt smooth and supple under her fingers, the muscle in his forearm solid and substantial, definitely not a dream.
“I’m Keirnan Fitzgerald from County Kildare.”
I hope you enjoy reading about my Irish hunk hero as much as I enjoyed writing about him.
So tell me some of the things you find appealing in a romance hero.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Nationals this year were in Washington, D.C. and it was, as always, a GREAT conference. It's amazing to spend time in an environment where the energy is so positive and supportive and everyone is out for success.
Sourcebooks was there in full force with myself, our publisher Dominique Raccah and our publicist Danielle Jackson.
Here are some of my highlights:
RWA UPDATED READER SURVEY
*Notable items from updated reader survey:
--the midwest and south have the highest concentrations of romance readers
--readers are feeling the impact of the economy
--they haven't stopped reading, but are borrowing/sharing more books and using the library more, but if they REALLY want a book, they'll buy it (the hook, the hook, the hook :-))
--about the same number of readers buy their romances from the large chain bookstores as buy them in the mass market retailers.
Lots of other good data that gives us all a lot to think about.If you didn't get a copy of the survey or weren't in DC, check the RWA website.
It was GREAT to see our authors and we had a wonderful, celebratory dinner together.
Our signing was mobbed until the books ran out (note for next year: bring more books!) and it's clear our authors are individually and collectively moving to the next level. We missed our authors who weren't at the conference, but encourage all to participate at their local chapter level.
We also had opportunities to meet with some exciting prospective authors who we hope by next year's conference will have joined our house!
I was delighted with my pitch appointments this year--people were pitching very skillfully, and I heard about numerous projects that have real promise (more than I was expecting--now it's all in the execution...). Whatever people are doing to train for pitching is terrific--keep it up!
SHOW ME THE MARKETING
We loved giving our spotlight and talking about what we do for authors' careers. Danielle did a great panel on web marketing with Michele Buonofiglio and Lori Foster, and it's clear that lots of good ideas were shared throughout the conference. If anyone has any questions left over after the spotlight, please let me or Danielle know!
Now I want to know: WHAT WERE YOUR 2009 RWA NATIONALS HIGHLIGHTS??
And, here's what I'm looking for! Single title romance fiction in all subgenres, 90,000 words, email submissions (synopsis and full manuscript) with:
- a heroine the reader can relate to
- a hero she can fall in love with
- a world gets created
- a HOOK I can sell the book with in 2-3 sentences
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Then, you take a shower and feel the creamy soap on your skin, the delicate fragrance, the hot water flowing over your tired muscles, soothing the soul and freeing the mind.
And thus it came to me. My blog topic.
That's what we write about. Feelings, desires, attitudes, and beliefs. A friend of mine who is in the process of reading The Cat Star Chronicles series told me a few days ago that she was reading Outcast and was enjoying it even more than the previous three. She wasn't sure why, exactly, but thought it might be because the story had more emotions in it.
"Ah hah!" I said. "That's because it's written in third person. You're getting the male point of view, seeing Lynx's emotions along with Bonnie's, and understanding why he is the brooding, surly fellow that he is in the beginning."
She didn't disagree with me. The more emotion contained within a story, the more the reader can feel what is happening to the characters. This is what makes one book better than another. Did I laugh, did I cry, did I feel some little tingles running up and down my spine? If so, then the writer has done their job. Do I keep turning the pages? In short, do I CARE what happens to these people, or can I toss the book aside and never wonder whether they live happily ever after or not?
In a romance novel, it's a given that there will be a happy ending; that the hero and heroine will solve their dilemmas and find love everlasting. That ending may be preordained, but it's the ride that makes the story, and the more ups and downs, the better. I attended several workshops at the RWA conference on adding suspense and keeping the reader in the story. I learned some new tricks, but most of the time I actually feel what I'm writing--the tingles and the tears--and I try to convey those feelings to my readers. I may not connect with every reader, but, apparently, sometimes the magic works.
What keeps you reading? The twists and turns of an intricate plot? The dark, but compelling hero? Or is it that you care enough about the characters to keep going? Inquiring minds want to know!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Summertime is a pain the rear. There. I said it. Now I feel better. I live in southeastern New England, which means about eight to ten weeks of really pristine weather per year. That's it. So the pressure to make the most of it is enormous. It starts right around Memorial Day with weekly cookouts, beach trips, boat outings, summer sailing camp for the kids, and generally just go, go, go. All of which makes someone who is usually a daily writer quite cranky because days go buy in the chaotic mix of summer during which absolutely nothing gets written.
Now those of you who are landlocked or sweating it out in one California valley or the other are probably singing the same song: cry me a river. I hear you. Believe me, I do. But when you live in a place with world-class beaches that people flock to from all over the world, when you live two towns away from the glorious wonder that is Newport, Rhode Island, when your father spends a mint on a boat that's too big to move unless we're on it with him, let me tell you, there's pressure to make the most of it all. I feel like I spend half my life at the grocery store stocking up for the next event. (And why is it that the MOM always has to worry about what we're bringing to whatever event we've been invited to? WHY is that? The rest of the heathens I live with would be perfectly happy to show up empty handed...) And the laundry... holy hell... the smelly towels and bathing suits and grossness that comes home from camp... Ick.
I've also mentioned before that I work full-time from home. Yes, I have a very nice arrangement, and I truly love the job. Ironically, however, they expect me to show up every day. And I do, otherwise I probably wouldn't still be employed 11 years after checking out of the office where I worked for three years. Do you know what summer vacation does to the work-at-home mom? Can you even imagine the pressure to be all things to all people? Ahh, memories of summers past... there was the one where they fought like cats and dogs for two solid months. That was special. Good times. My husband was looking into an in-patient facility for me by the time August rolled around.
Three years ago I was saved by sailing camp. Three full days a week for both kids and they love it. Because I'm spoiled during the school year with buses that pick up right at the front door, I'm not accustomed to having to hustle them out of the house early in the morning to get them to downtown Newport in time to catch the launch to the sailboats. Neither of my kids are what you'd call morning people (gee, wonder where they get that?) so it's always a challenge to get them there in time. This summer we have the added complication of our daughter starring as Charlotte in a local children's theater production of Charlotte's Web. Three practices a week, two dress rehearsals and four shows this week. Calgon . . . are you hearing me call your name?
As long as I've been a mom, I've fantasized about having a job where I can take the summer off. I envy my teacher friends who can spend the summer at the beach with their kids without anything else competing for their time and mental energy. Since my oldest just turned 14 and will be heading for college in four short years, I can't imagine quitting the day job any time soon. By the time I can afford to take summers off, my kids will be past the point where hanging out with mom has any appeal. So I do try to make the most of these precious summer days—made even more precious by the incredible, epic amount of rain we've suffered through in June and July this year (a guilty pleasure for the one who'd rather stay home and write... But don't tell anyone around here I said that lest I be run out of town on a rail!)
After 14 years on the job, I have a lot of time off so I try to take as much as I can during the summer when the kids are free because I know years from now, after they've both moved out, I'll miss our summer days together. But for right now, it's summertime and the living is not easy. I've got 10 people going on my dad's boat today. Must get to the grocery store. Oh, and did I wash the towels from the beach trip yesterday? I can't remember.... Those characters calling out for some of my attention? They'll have to wait until tonight when hopefully I've have something left to give them.
So you can see why I've decided to take August off from the blog. I hope to rejoin you again in the fall when school is back in session and my life gets back to a more normal, regular chaotic pace rather than the turbo chaotic summer pace! Is it winter yet? I'm also over at the Romance Bandits today poking fun at my lack of abilities other than writing if you'd like to come over and check out the very long list I made of things I can't do. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and pray for my sanity!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I have thought a great deal on the themes for the bulk of my blogs when “Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy” was released in March and know for a fact that I want to have a different tactic this time around. You see, before I was introducing myself as an author, establishing who I was and my “credentials,” while generally being on the defensive. In interviews and blog topics I was forced to focus almost exclusively on these types of questions: Why are you writing Jane Austen fan-fiction? Why were you inspired by the movie? Should you write a sequel since you haven’t been an Austen fan for several decades and read the novel a million times and taken college classes on the subject? Why write a happily-ever-after tale? How can you say your book has a plot when nothing horrible happens, no one dies, or is kidnapped by pirates? How dare you prefer Matthew Macfadyen over his Firthiness, who everyone knows is Jane Austen’s pick as Mr. Darcy? And how, oh how in God’s holy name, can you write of S. E. X. between Darcy and Lizzy?!?!?!
Ok, snarkiness aside, you can see that it got a bit old. And all these questions I answered, in the thousands of ways they were presented to me, and can be read on my FAQ at my website. Check it out, and don’t ask me again! Instead I have decided to talk about the immense amount of historical information I unearthed and wrote about in the series, specifically in “Loving Mr. Darcy” of course. So, in order to get myself used to the idea, I will start with this blog today, even if it isn’t precisely a part of my launch schedule.
A character detail I gave Fitzwilliam Darcy early on was his passion for and expertise in the game of billiards. He is such a mysterious person in the original novel, that it is easy to create factoids to round him out. I hit on the billiards concept not only because I knew from casual reading that it was a popular game of the day, but because I have always loved to watch really good pool players. That dates back to my dad and his friends playing the game, and partially from seeing Paul Newman in “The Hustler.” There is something so cool about a pool shark hitting those balls with that narrow cue, the staccato clap as they veer off in impossible directions, and then miraculously fall into the recessed holes all while the player stands nonchalant and puffing away on a cigarette. Not that I imagined Mr. Darcy in a rolled up T-shirt and slicked back hairdo, but the image of a master player was still cool! So I envisioned a billiards tournament happening in Meryton while they visited with Lizzy’s family, with Darcy proving his skill in a thrilling, play-by-play enactment. My mind conjured all sorts of wild scenes, probably influenced by Mr. Newman and Tom Cruise, and even memories of Minnesota Fats being watched by my dad. It was really some good stuff!
Enter problem number one – and if any of you smarter people laugh at me I will hunt you down and lash you with Aunty Cindy’s whip – but did you know that billiards and pool are two completely different games? I know! I was shocked! Now, I don’t consider myself an expert on pool by any means, but I have seen the game played enough to vaguely know the rules and common terms. Clue numero ono was when I Wiki’d “billiards” and started reading about two white balls, carom, hazards, cushions, stringing, faults, snooker – What the heck? I am not entirely stupid, so it did rapidly become clear to me that something was wrong in Denmark! Problem number two was the two-fold one of trying to figure out precisely what “billiards” was, since it obviously was a very different game than pool, but also to track the history of this strange game 200 years back. Luckily I adore history and solving a puzzle, and am very stubborn. So after perusing a couple of dozen websites, including the International Billiards & Snooker Federation and Billiard Club, reading through reams of instructions on how to play the game, and watching several videos… I was completely lost! Yep, this American girl simply could not grasp onto the finer nuances of billiards enough to write that riveting play-by-play tourney that she had imagined. Bummer. I researched enough to know I was on track in the historical importance of the game and in what rules and terms were standard in early 1800’s England, but my comprehension ended there. What to do? Scrap the idea of a billiards tournament altogether? Never give up! Never surrender!
Instead I changed my approach, dealing head on with problem number 3 – writing something you just do not know from experience. Of course we often do that in our writing, so I looked at the challenge as no different than visualizing England, where I have never gone, or imagining traveling for days in a carriage, which I have never done. Only a billiards expert could tell me if I utterly flubbed it up, but I think I did a fairly good job of getting the idea across and writing a riveting chapter even without the play-by-play! When September arrives you can tell me how I did. But for now, share with us some of your hardest challenges in writing of something that you just can’t grasp onto. Or perhaps there was that fabulous idea that you had no choice but to forget due to lacking information.
Friday, July 24, 2009
by Libby Malin
You've heard the stories -- Bestselling Author X sells his first book after a friend shows a partial of the manuscript to her agent, who signs the fellow and puts the book up for auction leading to a "major deal." Or Bestselling Author Y mentions his idea for a novel to an editor over lunch and she buys it sight unseen, leading to rewards, both financial and literary, for all involved.
Don't those stories just make your teeth grind?
Most writers' publication paths are bumpier, with stalls and stops along the way, and occasional breakdowns.
But the overnight success stories do tantalize, and I wouldn't be surprised if many writers (if not most) cherished the dream that their rewards would be similar to those lucky authors who make it big quickly.
When I first began taking writing seriously and committing myself to the goal of being published -- when I decided to stop dabbling and start working at it -- I cherished those dreams of overnight success, too. But, like most writers, I didn't experience the Fast Breakthrough. Instead, I traveled the road most often taken by authors -- writing manuscripts, submitting, waiting, hoping...trying again.
Those early days were filled with doubt. Sure, I thought I wrote reasonably well. My writing had been praised by teachers and employers alike. I thought I told a good story and had lots of good stories to tell.
But when the first rejections started coming in, they brought with them the Ghosts of Doubt. Maybe my writing was good. But it obviously wasn't Good Enough.
Although I've rarely had trouble getting the writing engine started, these doubts sometimes made my writing stutter and stall. I'd begin to take a story in one direction, then wonder if it was exciting enough. I'd give a character an attribute I thought essential to the story and her own personality as I'd drawn it, and I'd wonder if she was sympathetic enough.
I started wondering about everything--how many pages I had in each chapter, whether it was okay to include more than one POV in a chapter, whether a heroine who used foul language a lot was acceptable, where exactly in the story a "black moment" should occur, whether I had too much exposition or too little, whether my characters' names were okay...
Whew! You get the idea. My Inner Doubt Phantom was working overtime whispering in my ear.
Eventually, though, I captured her, dragged her to a dungeon, locked her in a cell, and threw away the key!
And once her whispers were silenced....I became a better writer with a more confident voice.
How did I manage to control that Doubt Phantom? Simple -- through experience. The more I wrote, the more confident I became. And the more confident I became, the better I was able to write. I had to stop caring about that Doubt Phantom. I had to shrug her off and tell her to get back to her cell and shut up. I had to realize that, right or wrong, I just had to write the story. If I made wrong choices, I'd find them in revision. Or when my critique partner pointed them out and her comments resonated with me. Or when several agents rejected the manuscript all pointing to one problem. I had to learn to trust and accept my own voice...unless and until it was proven false.
Once I became published, the Doubt Phantom's voice became fainter and fainter. Sure, she still manages to shout a message up from that dungeon from time to time, causing me to stare at the blank page wondering if I'm headed in the right direction with a story. But she no longer rules this author's world.
So what doubts do you wrestle with when you start writing? Do they still bedevil you? How do you fight them?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Fast forward several years and several other sales. This spring, Sourcebooks acquisitions editor Deb Werksman attended the NOLA STARs Written in the Stars conference in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was a thrill for me to have another chance to chat with Deb and introduce her to some Southern foods. (She liked the catfish, but the collard greens, not so much.)
During our dinner, I pitched "Love Story" to her, and she asked me to send the full to her. So I went home after the weekend conference, pulled the book out of storage and sent it off. I had high hopes that Deb would love the book, and LS would find a home at Sourcebooks. Well, Deb did like the book and wanted to buy it. We were even talking about when it might be scheduled. But...in the final analysis, when marketing plans and the current romantic suspense market were factored in, it was decided that "Love Story" wasn't the kind of book that was selling well now. Deb had to turn the book down.
While quite disappointed that LS didn't sell to Sourcebooks, I understand the reasoning. Romantic suspense and contemporary romance- heck, almost any romance genre, is a competitive market. Good books get passed over because publishers have to think in terms of the big picture. If readers have drifted away from one type of story and another type of story is selling well, the publisher has to give the readers what they want or sales will suffer. That's not to say that Sourcebooks doesn't do new and innovative things within the popular genres, but they also have to think in terms of competing in the current market.
If you look back at Deb's previous posts here, you'll see her list of things she looks for in a submission. The last item is about her ability to sell the book. "Love Story" is a good book, it almost sold, but the book doesn't meet the current market demands. Publishing is cyclical. Historicals went out a few years ago but now are storming back on the scene. So I'll save LS for another time when the winds of change in the ever evolving publishing world blow back around for an LS kind of story.
And I'll get another submission ready to send Deb, one that I feel is a better fit for what she's looking for. Because my mantra has always been "Never never never give up!"
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Beginning a book is always difficult, especially when you don’t have that beginning scene to build the book around. I think it’s because I’m slowly changing from a seat-of-the-pants writer to a plotter in the hope that if I have the entire plot, I’ll be able to see if there are holes in it before I write the entire book. This is especially helpful since I am now writing on deadline.
Back when I was a card-carrying pantser, a scene would pop into my head and like magic, I’d have a fabulous opening scene and from there the plot would flow. Now that I’m a quasi-plotter, I have the whole story line and at the very least, the hero and heroine in my mind. I know what’s going to happen in the beginning, the middle and the end. I have the conflict, the black moment and even the happy ending but where do I begin the book?
Every character has a back-story whether it’s written in the text or not. His or her entire life story is in the author’s mind. That’s how an author crafts three-dimensional characters. The author knows where the character grew up, how the character was treated by her parents and siblings, her first heartbreak, and the one thing the heroine regrets. The author knows why the heroine acts the way she does because the author is carrying around that character’s baggage.
My next book: working title, “As Good As He Gets” is a marriage-of-convenience story. My question is: does the story begin at the wedding? The proposal? During the writing of the pre-nup? What’s the most exciting? What’s going to grab the reader by the throat? Well, they can all work, or they can all fail. The thing that’s driving me crazy is that all-important first scene has yet to pop in my head and I don’t know how to make that happen.
I’ve written the first scene but it doesn’t blow my skirt up. Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with the scene, but then, so far, there’s nothing exceptionally right with it either. Still, I can’t be rewriting the first scene over and over again. So I move on and pray that eventually genius will strike. What I want to know from writers is how do you open yourself up to genius striking? How do you begin your books?
And readers, which do you think would be better? The proposal? The wedding itself? Discussion of the pre-nup?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Another RWA National Conference is over and yer olde Aunty is home again, exhausted but happy because it was all SO MUCH FUN!
Well, mostly... except for all those huge emotional highs and lows that happened constantly. Yup, it happens to me at every conference, and I know I'm not the only one. (Aunty raises an eyebrow at her CasaBabes/Sisters.) This year's conference in Washington DC was no exception.
Everyone who has been on this blog for more than five minutes knows that yer olde Aunty has a reputation for being a "tough cookie." I write about murder, mahem and things that go boom. Aunty does not like mornings (as several of the CasaBabes will now testify after seeing with their own eyes) and makes no secret of it. Aunty carries a whip (only a tiny little riding crop) and knows how to use it! That is why, to my everlasting chagrin, at some point in every RWA conference, I find myself tearful, and this year it happened again... several times, in fact!
It all started with Janet Evanovich and her opening remarks. Janet is one of Aunty's idols in the "tough cookie" department. Imagine my shock when Janet actually teared up while talking about the ten years it took her to sell her first book. How she had to take temporary jobs so she could afford to buy clothes and shoes for her kids. And then, when she was at one of her lowest ebbs, she came home and her husband said, "Your editor called." Janet honked into her tissue and so did Aunty!
Linda Howard did not help the situation. Her hilarious accounts of her "nutty" family had Aunty and everyone else wiping away the tears of laughter. I swear, I didn't know this before, but after hearing Linda's account of her mother's purse, we MUST be related somehow. My mother had a purse just like that! Well, maybe not with pork chops...
The next day, Eloisa James left not a dry eye in the ballroom when she talked about her daughter, born premature and weighing all of "...one pound and change." And when she talked about seeing her mother for the last time, I'm afraid I must admit, yer olde Aunty turned into a real water works.
Finally, the big Rita/Golden Heart Awards ceremony arrived and Aunty packed tissues in her purse in anticipation, even though I was determined not to mess up my artfully applied make-up.
I WILL NOT BLUBBER became my rallying shout.
The Golden Heart winner who tearfully exclaimed that she'd just sold "on Wednesday" had Aunty's nose itching. I reached for the tissues, "just in case." The other winner who described the heroic attributes of her husband made Aunty's throat clog up. Then came the Ritas, and Aunty fought back the tears through one heartfelt acceptance after another. But when Kathleen Creighton's absentee acceptance was read aloud, Aunty's sniffling started. And I fought bravely to keep it at the sniffle level until Gwen Cready dedicated her Rita to her deceased sister and ended by saying, "today's her birthday."
That did it! Aunty couldn't hold back any longer. I BLUBBERED away right along with everyone else!
What about you? Do speeches sometimes move you to tears? Which ones? Aunty and the other CasaBabes would love to know!
Monday, July 20, 2009
I’m probably not being very original with how the next few blog posts will follow for the next week or so, but the RWA 2009 National Conference this year was one of many firsts for me! My first national conference workshop panel, my first time speaking at the Sourcebooks Spotlight, and our first Sourcebooks sponsored signing! I apologize for my lack of photos, but I’m not sure I have the brain power to maneuver them around in the blogger set up!
My Workshop Panel
I like to think I’m an OK public speaker—I’ve never been one that hated speaking in front of others, but I’ve never really been that person to volunteer either!! But I have to say, RWA was the perfect place to start out, mainly because everyone is so nice, but I was extremely lucky to not only be on a fabulous panel, but I had many of the lovely Sourcebooks Casababes there for support. Judi took pictures (and Mama J says thanks!), and many more sat in places I could easily see—and it was nice to see smiling faces. And I was incredibly humbled to have our dear editor, Deb, and our CEO and publisher, Dominique, in attendance as well. I sat next to Lori Foster (and had an OMG moment), Jenna Peterson was incredibly funny, and Michelle Buonfiglio (the mastermind behind this workshop) was awesome. I think we all had a lot to offer about online promotion, and I hope people took something useful away from it!
I must interject (to keep things chronological) that the author dinner that took place on Friday was superb—it’s nights like that that really put things into perspective. How wonderful to have one of our very first Casa authors (Michele Ann Young) mingling with our current authors, and many of our Spring 2010 authors, too! The restaurant was lovely, drinks were had, stories were told, and, of course, we traveled in style in stretch limos!
The Sourcebooks Spotlight
I want to tell you a story—Tuesday, July 14th, I was in Dom’s office with Deb on the phone, having a final meeting about the conference, when Deb says “Dom, did you tell Danielle about the Spotlight?” Dom looks over—“No! I didn’t!” Deb: “Danielle, after Dom discusses the Author toolkit, you’re going to speak about Marketing and PR.” And I said, “Ok,” but I meant “AH the day BEFORE we leave!” But, by the time Saturday rolled around, I was still on my high of doing well on the workshop panel, and the Spotlight was a piece of cake. The room was filled, the crowd engaged after hear Dom’s enthusiastic overview, and I think I carried it over well, so Deb could talk about her editorial process and submissions guidelines. After the spotlight, Deb and I were in that room for about 15 minutes after it was over, talking to anyone who came up to the front. It was great—people were getting it: Sourcebooks Casablanca is very different, innovative, and fully established as a romance publisher on the rise.
The Sourcebooks Signing
I must must must say that I know I underestimated the amount of books to send to Nationals… I follow the rules, and the rules suggested sending a box of each book…. Well, I should have known, 2500 avid romance readers would want more books. But I am happy to say that every single book sent was signed and given to a fan—and they were eagerly given. I do have pictures from the signing, and I will send them out soon! Every time I passed by one of the authors, they weren’t just signing, they were engaging the person waiting and talking. I took pictures of fans and authors, I met some of the bloggers who have been supporters. I watched what I consider so successful in this line. It was so amazing to see all of the work we’ve been doing over the past year or so really come together in a moment—10 Casa authors were present, and I think they did so wonderfully at their first RWA signing!
This year’s conference will be special to me, because it was the one I had the most handle on. I know there were things I could have done differently (and I have a long list of ideas and thoughts to implement next year). I LOVED being able to meet my authors face to face, talk about their books and promotional plans, and really, just chat. You’ve all become friends through our emails. I enjoyed hearing about what you want to see happen with your books, but also about your families and your travels, and all that we discussed.
And finally, as a truly serendipitous moment—Saturday, my little brother (who goes to the Naval Academy, and is much much bigger than me now) came to have dinner and go to a movie (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, natch). We had to go to a later show, and around 10:00pm we headed out. Guess who got off the elevator as we got on? None other than LA NORA herself, fresh from winning the RITA for Tribute. All I could do was stare… and my brother looked at me like I was insane.
When the elevator door closed I started shrieking: “DO YOU KNOW WHO THAT WAS? NORA ROBERTS!”
Alex replied “You mean that’s the author mom’s obsessed with and has a million books by?”
“Seriously? She was hot!”
So Nora, if you’re reading, there’s a midshipman at the US Naval Academy who finds you very attractive.
Back to work on Monday, telling everyone how much of a success the conference was, and even thinking about the plans for next year in Nashville. I can’t wait to hear about everyone else’s stories!
Did anything truly serendipitous happen to you at this year’s conference? OR do you have a story from a year passed?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
As I write this post, it's 0652 on Saturday morning. I haven't seen the Sourcebooks Spotlight, nor have I been to the Rita Awards or the Sourcebooks booksigning, but I have certainly done plenty of other things.
First off, I made it here, on a plane, all by myself. This in itself was a first for me. I've never done much traveling alone, and rarely on a plane. But I did it.
I've only been to one conference that came anywhere near the magnitude of this one. But I did it.
I really hate going to events where I know very few of the people in attendance. But I did it.
A lot of people will tell you, "Oh, I could NEVER write a book!" But I did it. And so did many of the other conference attendees. I think that says a lot. Here are hundreds of women who didn't baulk at the challenge, and I am one of them.
Listening to the speeches given by Janet Evanovich, Linda Howard, and Eloisa James were very inspiring. Their stories were not unlike my own--they've just been at it long enough to succeed. Even though I have four books in print, I'm still a newbie, relatively speaking. I was asked by an interviewer if I felt that I had "arrived" as an author. The truth is, I don't. I'm not intimidated by these other writers, but I know that they have one thing I don't have: years of experience behind them.
In my nursing career, I have loads of experience. I have now been a critical care nurse for thirty-two years. Many of these ladies have been professional writers for that long. There is no way I, at the age of fifty-three, will ever match them in experience, unless I live to be ninety and write continuously up until my death. The fact that they are willing to share their knowledge with those of us who are lacking is quite remarkable. Not everyone is willing to coach a competitor.
Which brings me to the next interesting point: We aren't truly competitors. Each of us has our own niche in the world of romance writing. We just have to carve it out for ourselves and then live in it. Readers will find us. Some will love what we write and others will hate it, but the one thing that will always hold true is that my books will not be like your books, and vice versa. We are all individuals writing unique works of fiction. We are not competing with one another so much as we are collaborating with our sister writers.
It's a pretty nice feeling.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
I think of 101 Dalmations when I think of a story where the hero and heroine were united through the love of their pets. :)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wait a minute? Handcuffs?
“I can’t believe this happened,” Judi fumed, pacing the length of the room. “I have meetings! I need to get out of here right now!”
“And I have a luncheon appointment,” Kendra muttered, slinking down in her chair as she looked at her watch..
“I’m sure they’ll realize this was all a mistake and let us go,” Michele said, the voice of reason among chaos.
“What will Deb say?” Danielle wailed, trying to cover her face with her hands, but her handcuffs kept her suitably restrained.
“Ladies, ladies, ladies.” Horace ambled into the room, carrying a gargoyle sized Dunhill briefcase.
“Horace, what are you doing here?” Marie asked. “I called Linda for help. Did she send you?”
The gargoyle inspected his claws. “Um, well, it seems Linda was out and I just happened to hear your message on her voice mail. And um, it somehow got erased after I heard it. Hey!" He ducked as a hand went flying past his horns.
“Meaning you somehow learned her password.”
“She really needs to get more inventive with passwords and PINs.” He slung his briefcase onto the table. “Gotta say you babes are in serious trouble.”
“I didn’t do it!” Robin protested. “That cop didn’t even listen to me.”
“Right, Robin, you were the innocent one.” Cindy cocked an eyebrow at her. “You grabbed the man’s crotch.”
Robin puffed up. “I was pushed against him!” She aimed her accusation in Cheryl’s direction. “SHE was the one who grabbed him.”
“How did I know he was a fed,” Cheryl defended herself. “He was cute.”
Horace shook his head. “So you all ended up arrested.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Danielle chimed in. “I was nothing more than an innocent bystander.”
‘Try again, babe. I read the arrest reports,” Horace told her. “You all are so guilty and have so many charges against you that I don’t know if even I can get you off.” He snorted. “Get you off.”
“Shut up!” Marie swiped at his horns, but he ducked just in time. “You are so gross, Horace.”
“But I’m not in jail,” he reminded her.
That gave them all a moment to reflect on sins committed or just thought of. After all, the fed was cute.
“So you brought bail money?” Kendra asked him, eying the briefcase.
Horace smiled and spread his arms open. “No, I’m your lawyer. Group hug?”
When Horace was admitted to the creature ER an hour later, he was treated for cuts and abrasions.
The CasaBabes are still waiting for their trial.