Tuesday, November 29, 2005

THEY SAY IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

Yes, today is my birthday which is why I chose today's date to blog. So I could reflect on this day with all of you. A couple of interesting things about November birthdays; when I worked at Catholic Charities all of my female co-workers had November birthdays, they were all Scorpios. This is an important fact because my sisters are Scorpios, therefore I always know how to handle Scorpian women friends. And more importantly all of my best friends have November birthdays, here again all Scorpians. I'm sure in the world of numerology this must mean something, but I don't know what. The thing about birthdays is that they come around every year at the same time. This year I'm forty six. Yikes! Looking at that number in print makes me realize how fast the years are flying by me. I think non-writers look at their birthdays in different ways than writers do.
Before I was published I never really looked back on the year or forward to what the next twelve months of my life would bring. Of course that could be because my birthday falls right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. And I was too caught up in hoping my family would remember my birthday! Most years I was given the combo birthday/Christmas gift (and I still get asked in mid-November what I'd like for Christmas when I haven't even had my birthday yet!) A very big bummer and I imagine the only thing worse would be a having a birthday fall on Christmas or New Years Day. Oh and what about all you poor leap year babies? The birthday that only rolls around once every four years!
My best birthday was the year I turned 41. That was the year my first book was published, forever changing the way I view my birthdays. Now I look at what I've accomplished in my career. How many books I've had on the shelves and what's in the pipeline for the next 365 days. I'd like to have a contemporary book published. Right now I've only sold historical romances. I'm working on a proposal for a contemporary series set in Northern California. This hasn't sold yet, but I'm ever hopeful it will sell.
As much as we may hate the way time goes by, it's good to remember that special day once a year which defines us. Taking one day in your life to reflect on the good, the bad, the ugly and all that falls somewhere in between can be an enlightening experience.
So here's to all my fellow November 30th Sagittarians, enjoy your day, take a walk, read a good book, and most importantly be kind to yourself today.

Tracey J. Lyons

Creating in the Middle

Well, now that the turkey is finally -- yay! -- gone and the pumpkin pie has morphed its sneaky way onto my hips, I've officially entered the holiday zone of decorating, cookie baking, shopping, gift wrapping, house guests, and all the other Christmas activities. I love this season, but every year it becomes a Herculean juggling act to squeeze everything into each hectic, twenty-four hour period counting down until Dec 25th. It's always tempting to use the holidays as an excuse not to write, but invariably, year after year, I end up with December 30 or January 1 deadlines.

Eric Maisel, in his terrific book, COACHING THE ARTIST WITHIN, describes what he calls creating in the middle and has given me permission to share a bit. The ellipses indicate places where I've skipped part of the text for brevity, which has never been my strong point, but, since hope springs eternal, I continue to try. :D

"People do not create in a vacuum. In fact, in human affairs there is no such thing as a vacuum. People are born into this or that religion. They learn a certain language and are formed by that language. A war comes and changes everything; a drought comes and changes everything; menopause comes and changes everything. They must work, they must eat, they must deal with paying taxes and the images on their television screen and the values in their town. This is no vacuum! ..

.."James Jones, having made his fortune from books like From Here to Eternity, thought to help some poor writers he knew by giving them enough money so they could quit their day jobs and write. He gave them the money; they didn't write. Money was never the issue. Everything was the issue. You must be able to create in the middle of things, or else you will not create. You must learn to take whatever practical and psychological actions are necessary to combat the anticreating forces that surround you and live within you. . .

. . .Some determined artists weather even the most severe crises. But for most of us even ordinary, everyday crises stop us in our tracks. Most of these crises are internal, emotional, and existential, crises of faith and self-doubt, crises of self-recrimination and self-incrimination, crises of and meaninglessness. Sometimes it may seem as if nothing much is going on. You come home from work, have a little dinner, then turn on the television instead of turning toward the novel you hope to write. What exactly are you in the middle of there? Don't you have a "perfectly free" few hours in which to write? Absolutely not. To believe that just because you have no particular errands to run or duties to perform means that you are somehow not trapped in your own personality and your own culture is not to understand what being in the middle of things means. . .

. . .You must learn how to create when wars are raging and when your hormones are raging. You must learn how to create even if you hate your country's policies or your own painting style. You must learn how to create even if you are embroiled in a bad marriage or living alone and lonely. You must learn how to create even if you work eight hours a day at a silly job or, sometimes worse, find yourself at home all day with time on your hands.

If you wait for a better time to create, better than this very moment, if you wait until you feel settled, divinely inspired, perfectly centered, unburdened of your usual worries, or free of your own skin, forget about it. You will still be waiting tomorrow and the next day, wondering why you never manage to begin, wondering how you did such an excellent job of disappointing yourself. "

I'm keeping Maisel's book next to my computer for the next few weeks for reinforcement. Meanwhile, what tricks do y'all use to create in the middle of things?

Also, although this is totally off topic, Rob Gregory-Browne, a thriller writer friend who blogs, recently "tagged" me to do the following writing exercise and post it on my blog. (Which would be here.) And now I'm tagging our other bloggers.

1. Take the first five novels from your bookshelf. (Or, as I did, just choose at random.) Write down:
2. Book 1 -- first sentence.
3. Book 2 -- last sentence on page 50.
4. Book 3 -- second sentence on page 100.
5. Book 4 -- next to the last sentence on page 150.
6. Book 5 -- final sentence of the book.
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.
8. Feel free to "cheat" to make it a better paragraph.
9. Name your sources.
10.Post to your blog. (If you have one. Or just share it here.)

Here's mine: The little girl huddled, shivering, in the back corner of the closet. Reportedly she ordered the girl's blood to be drained into a bathtub and bathed in it. "Good to know, I managed." "It's harder to cut really deeply than you think." I wonder if they truly realize how lucky they are.

Chill of Fear by Kay Hooper
Serial Killers, the Method and Madness of Monsters by Peter Vronsky
Sacred by Dennis Lehane
Mind Prey by John Sandford
Sounds in the Dark by Michael C. Keith

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sending Our Babies Off

Today is my oldest son's birthday. He's in his senior year of high school and I've decided that time is not linear but more like Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time. Wasn't it just yesterday that he was sitting in my lap while I read to him? Now we're filling out university applications, gathering data for scholarships, and starting to think about what will move with him and what we should store or give away.

So, what does this have to do with writing?

A common analogy for writing books is that of giving birth. The analogy usually deals with those months of preparation before the birth, equating the ups and downs of finding the right words, the right conflict, and the perfect characters to the mixed feelings of pregnancy: the pain and discomfort, the joy and anticipation.

But now I've discovered another aspect of this analogy, that of sending 'my baby' out into the world. Right now, my son goes off and I know he'll be back. He'll sleep at our house, eat at our table, drive our car. . . be part of our family in a very physical way.

Soon, though, he'll be going off to sleep at his own place, eat at his own table, park his car in his own driveway. I can still talk to him via phone or e-mail but it won't be the same. I won't know when he comes in at night. I won't know that he's eating all the right foods. I won't know all of his friends.

And so it goes with our manuscripts. It's okay to write in the privacy of our own space, to critique with friends we know, to make those final, final! revisions. But time marches on. At some point, if we're going to have readers, we have to send our babies out into the world.

I know things will be fine with our son. We've been preparing him (and us) for this day since he was born. Our goal as parents is to send our children into the world as productive citizens, ready to make a difference to their communities. We'll stay in contact, ready to help if he needs us, but trusting that he can go it alone.

We have to do the same with our manuscripts. We may lose sleep once that manuscript is in the mail, we may check listings to see how the published book fares in the rankings, we may beg understanding from our writing friends when the manuscript comes back.

But the first step is letting go. How else can our stories ever grow up?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Scornful Critique

Since no one has posted today, I thought I'd bring up an article I saw in today's Wall Street Journal. In the article ("Chick Lit Revisted," Nov. 26, 2005), Joanne Kaufman takes a scornful crack at the world of women’s fiction. She begins by mentioning the recent movie deal by the “unfathomably prolific” Danielle Steele, calling her work “contrived,” “cliched,” and filled with “Hallmark prose,” not to mention “plodding and dull-witted.” But instead of limiting her opinion to Ms. Steele’s work, she goes on to comment on the genre of women’s fiction as a whole. According to Ms. Kaufman, although the genre has evolved in recent times, “intelligent design isn’t a factor.” Judith Krantz? Barbara Taylor Bradford? According to Ms. Kaufman, “one does not discuss their books in terms of literary merit. They have very little of it.” (Although she does admit that their work ends with the reader being “uplifted by the protagonist’s successful struggle against the odds”). And the entire chick lit movement is discounted as filled with “brisk frothy reads”.
Now, Ms. Kaufman is certainly entitled to her opinion but I have to wonder where this scorn is coming from. Any guesses? And I'd think that rather than deriding women's fiction, Ms. Kaufman could write a far more interesting article about why this fiction is so popular.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Being thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for today? I have so many things I could mention but at the top of my list is the fact that this year, my life-long dream came true. My first book hit the shelves and I officially became a published author. All those years of dreaming and writing, struggling and studying, producing failed manuscripts, receiving rejection letters, attending critique groups and conferences -- it finally all paid off. I feel grateful and priviledged to be part of the small percentage of writers who actually realize their dream. So when I sit down to eat that turkey today, I will give thanks for my book. How about you?

Monday, November 21, 2005

About Finding That Perfect Match, aka Agent Hunts

The other day, someone asked me how she could find an agent for her first, as yet uncompleted novel. I gave her the standard answer without even thinking about it: "Do your research," I said. "Find a copy of Writers Market, subscribe to Publishers Marketplace, get a list of agents representing the type of book you’re writing, then check them out online at places like Preditors and Editors."

But then, later that day, I began to think about the process of finding an agent – or rather, the process of finding the right agent at the right time. Sure, all of the things I mentioned above are important, but there are also a lot of intangibles that factor into the search. I mean, the agent that’s right for me when I sell my first book may not necessarily be right for me when I sell my tenth. Or when I switch genres. So, here’s the question for the day:

How do you know when you’ve found the right agent for this stage of your writing career?

Seriously.

How will you know when you've found "The One"?

Will she – or he – come equipped with a flashing neon sign that says, “Hi! I’m the right agent for you!”?

Will the ghost of Eudora Welty suddenly appear and give you a serene nod of approval? (Okay, that one probably only applies to other Mississippi writers, but you get the idea.)

Or, will you simply feel it in your gut the first time you two talk?

How will you how when you've found your perfect match?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The OMG Moments

There are some moments in writing that always make me think, Oh my, God! The first is right after I sell a book. I look at the three chapters I have, and the first thought that crosses through my mind is: OMG, how am I ever going to write 400 pages?

The fear, at that moment, seems almost paralyzing. It's daunting to know I have only about 60 pages, and somehow, some way, I have to add to them and create a whole book. What I do to function is push the idea of 400 pages out of my head. I just have to write 4 pages a day. Anyone can write 4 pages, I tell myself. Four pages is doable, and not overwhelming.

The second OMG moment is when I near the end of the first draft. I look at my page count and think, OMG, I really did get 400 pages. Actually in my case, it's always well over 400 pages, so the moment is two part for me. The first is wow, I really did get a whole story added to the end of those 60 pages. The second moment is OMG, how am I going to wrap this story up without going way, way over on page count. (The Work In Progress is looking at a first draft somewhere between 475 and 490 pages. How did I get so verbose?)

Needless to say, this is a very satisfying moment. I did it. I have a story! Of course, I also know that I'm going to need to look for things to cut as I revise, but at least I have something that can be worked with.

Then there's the OMG moment that comes with editorial revisions. The amount of work always seems so daunting in comparison to the amount of time I'm given. I'm lucky I have good friends who can help me break down what I need to do into manageable segments. That's the key for me, feeling as if I have a handle on everything, and thinking of it in pieces so that it doesn't feel so overwhelming.

The final OMG moment is when I hold the finished book in my hand. I'm still relatively new with only three books published, but I can't imagine a day when I'm not amazed by holding my book in my hands. Physical, tangible proof that I created this story and brought it all the way through to the finish. The thing that's strange is that it takes me a while to accept that this is really my book and not someone else's. It still doesn't quite feel real to me. Sometimes I wonder if it ever will.

So as a writer, what inspires you to awe and/or panic? What moments make you think OMG?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Books that last

Someone forwarded this quote from The Washington Post, an interview with reviewer (I believe) Michael Dirda, to a loop I'm on. I found it very interesting for all sorts of reasons.
Question: [...] Are there books that for whatever reason you despise?

Michael Dirda: Despise? Well, I think there are meretricious books, books only written to make a buck. This usually includes about half the best seller list. I think most nonfiction best sellers are utterly ephemeral--I mean, really, in a couple of years Bill Clinton's memoirs will be read as often as RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon. Then there's diet books. Self-help books. Jumped-up magazine articles from the New Yorker. The novels of Judith Krantz. Anything regarded as snarky, edgy, on the cutting edge, hip.

Oh, these have their place, I suppose. But I prefer seriously experimental fiction, heartfelt Harlequin romances, [and] books where real scholars present the work of half a lifetime.
(The title of this blog is supposed to be linked to the original article, but one must apparently be a registered subscriber or something to peruse the entire thing. This snippet is quoted under "fair use.")

How interesting, though, that someone would find a "heartfelt Harlequin romance" of more value than a political memoir.

It's that "heartfelt" that's the secret, I think. Romances, of whatever hue, must be heartfelt or how can they claim the title of romance? We as authors have to reach down deep and offer up the beating of our own hearts so that we can touch the hearts of our readers.

What about you? What books do you "despise"? Or maybe not despise, exactly, but don't care much for? What are you overdosed on? I'm with Mr. Dirda on the diet books and the political ranks of both leanings. And I think I'm beginning to overdose on books with whiny, depressed characters. (Off to vette my books for whining...)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

So, What's In a Name Anyway?

The other day, I was talking with a writer friend who is thinking of taking on a pseudonym after having published eight novels under her own name. She thinks she has no choice. The sales figures for her last couple of books weren’t so great, and her editor rejected her proposal for her option book.

Or proposals. She submitted three of them. All rejected.

Her agent suggested she consider a name change and starting over with a new publisher, which would pay her a much lower advance. (Ouch.) The agent pointed out that since bookstores can now track book sales with point-of-sale technology, pre-order sales figures on new books by the same author drop dramatically when that author’s last book didn’t sell well. That smarts. I mean, sometimes the reason a book doesn’t sell hasnothing to do with the author or the quality of the writing.

Now, as if that wasn’t depressing enough, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how the use of pseudonyms by authors trying to rebound from poor sales figures is on the rise.

(Okay, the Diana Diamond/William P. Kennedy example was hilarious. I wish I’d caught his appearance on Regis and Kelly in that blonde wig. )

So what do you guys think? Would you, as a writer, consider changing your name and adopting a pseudonym if you were told it was the only way you could publish again? And how do you, as a reader, feel when you find out that a writer has done that?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Love in time of war

Romance is the most popular and vibrant genre of fiction in the United States and many other parts of the world. A recent article in Newsweek, "Bad Dates in Baghdad", offers vivid insight into why love stories have such extraordinary power.

In war-torn Iraq, according to the article, "going out takes all the determination, ingenuity, and nerve a young couple can muster." One pair of lovers was dragged out of their car by AK-47-wielding religious vigilantes. Only by bluffing the gunmen into believing they were married did they escape without injury. If you want to have a romantic dinner, you're out of luck. Few restaurants stay open after dark because in doing so, they risk being blown up by fundamentalists who disapprove of the mingling of the sexes. Picnicking male and female college students in Basra were beaten with steel cables and rifles so violently that many were hospitalized. They had dared to dance and sing in a park.

Despite these deterrents, one Baghdad gift shop owner hires three extra employees to handle his busiest time of the year: Valentine's Day. Lovers flock to Baghdad's Jadriya Lake, "a heavily guarded pleasure garden". Newly available technology helps out Cupid via cell phones and Internet chat rooms; one student has two Internet girlfriends he's never actually met. Perhaps the most heart-rending comment though came from a young couple who took a vacation in Amman. What did they do that thrilled them the most? "We walked and walked and walked," something they wouldn't dare do in Iraq.

A young woman summed up the fraught situation by saying, "It's very difficult for a man and a women to have a relationship here. But you have to try." That sort of courage is the stuff of romance novels.

Can you imagine not being able to just take a walk with the person you love? I can't. It's something my husband and I have treasured doing since the days we first began dating. What simple pleasure do you most enjoy sharing with your loved one?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Where the wild stories are

Stephen King has said that when people ask him where he gets his stories, he tells them about a factory somewhere in Oklahoma. Jennifer Crusie talks about the "girls in the basement" sending up ideas. Other people also refer to girls in the basement--maybe even before I heard Ms. Crusie do it. Some call it the "collective unconscious" or "the well."

I have a swamp. It bubbles and oozes. There are alligators. Things rot in there. They ferment. And every so often, something will come bubbling up to the top. I grab it out with this hook thingie and look it over. Sometimes it's ready. Sometimes I have to toss it back in the swamp to bubble some more. Sometimes I even have to jump up and down on it to make it go back under because I don't have time right now for whatever it is under all that ooze.

Yes, I realize this is kind of an icky metaphor for my subconscious, and that I am probably strange to visualize it this way. But hey, I'm a writer. (And I write that weird fantasy stuff.)

What about you? Where do you get your stories? A factory? A basement? A swamp? Or someplace else, perchance? Or are you more normal than some of us and haven't ever seen what the place looks like...?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Moods

I have found that when it comes to my reading, I have to be in the right mood for a particular book to be drawn in to reading it. For about half this week, I haven't been in the mood to read anything at all, which I find totally depressing, because my 2BeRead pile keeps growing and metastasizing to take over not only its designated bookcase, but the bookcase designated for keepers and research books, the floor in my office, the end tables, the totebags for carrying various supplies to various places... well, you get the idea.

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a nice, juicy series romance. Sometimes I want to read something that will carry me to the far reaches of the universe, or maybe my imagination. Sometimes I want something a little bit scary and tense, with some nice romance to go along. Sometimes I want to read about relationships, not necessarily romantic. Sometimes I want some history with the romance. Sometimes I just want the history, no romance, thanks. (Not often, though) And the weird thing is, I never really know what I'm in the mood for till I walk up to the bookcase (or the pile) and start looking through it.

Does your reading suffer from moodiness, or are your moods more consistent than mine? Do you indulge your moods?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Invoking Nora

Yesterday I had a book signing in Martinsburg, West Virginia. This signing was part of a big, city-wide book festival and I was ensconced in the flower shop on the main street of town. Foot traffic into the store was light all day but when someone did come in, I found myself faced with a dilemma -- how to get them to come over to my table and (hopefully) buy my book.

Never good at chit-chat, I tried the usual technique of making some non-threatening (and probably inane) comment about the weather. For the most part, this approach didn't work. The people would answer the question, wander around the store without looking at my book and then leave. I tried just smiling. I pretended to look busy. Nothing seemed to lure people into looking at my book.

Then, quite by accident, I asked a woman if she liked to read romance novels, such as those by Nora Robets. She immediately perked up, hurried over and began to talk. And she wasn't the only one. Person after persona reacted with the same enthusiasm whenever I invoked Nora's name.

Now, I should explain that Nora lives very close to here. Everyone in this area knows that she is local. And I discovered yesterday that they are very proud of her success. They beam when I mention her name. They get all excited and want to talk about her books. They are even more interested when I mention that I know when her next book signing is (December 10th) and where (Turn the Page bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland). If they haven't been to one of her signings, they want to hear what they are like. If they have, they invariably indicate that they want to attend another. One woman happily shared that Nora once let her wheelchair-bound mother cut through the long line at a book signing and have her picture taken with her.

All of which made me feel very good. I like knowing that people are proud when a local person becomes famous. I enjoy seeing the pleasure in their faces when they talk about her books. It's comforting to know that when person succeeds in life, others share the joy -- even strangers.

And most of all, what a testimony it is to the power of her books!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Want to save the species? Read Romance!

Anyone catch the New York Times piece on Literary Darwinism (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/06/magazine/06darwin.html)? It postulates that literature is driven by societal forces and its main object is to instruct future generations in the knowledge they need to successfully propagate the species.

Interesting. It makes sense, especially with “classic” novels. Othello teaches us that homicidal obsession is not the best path to successful mating while The Odyssey demonstrates that perseverance and patience are pretty good traits if you want to pass on your DNA. As You Like It has a lot to say about the importance of fidelity while A Tale of Two Cities reveals that one man’s sacrifice for the greater good is worthwhile if it allows another to successfully mate.

So what would a literary Darwinist say about romance? I suspect our works of fiction would score fairly high when analyzed. Let me take a stab at dissecting my own work.

In BLINK OF AN EYE (Tor Books, May 2006), the first in the Hart and Drake series, an ER doctor refuses to stand on the sidelines when it comes to protecting her patients. Her impetuousness almost gets her killed. The hero is a police detective who observes situations in minute detail before taking action. His reserve also places them both in jeopardy.

Hmm…doesn’t bode well for future generations if these two can’t live long enough to do some serious, hot and steamy propagating.

Never fear, once they begin acting together as partners, they find the strength to save each other and defeat the bad guys. And yes, some heavy-duty propagating action follows (and continues into the next book, SLEIGHT OF HAND).

By emphasizing the importance of not only finding a sexual partner but also the need to cherish and respect each other in a committed relationship, our Happily-Ever-Afters have a lot to teach future generations. Not only do our heros and heroines end up satisfying their own urgent imperative to propagate the species, their relationship provides an excellent environment to raise future generations and the balanced nature of their partnership creates enough extra energy that they actually have time to occasionally venture forth and save the world.

Seems to me as if humanity has a lot to thank us romance writers for!

So, next time someone dismisses romance as a genre, tell them we’re not just writing stories to entertain, our stories may just be the key to survival of the species.

Personally, I think we can use all the help we can get. What do you think?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Diamonds, chocolate...or movies???

Funny you should mention product placement in novels, Bron. I thought my upcoming release, Lights! Camera! Fiction: A Movie Lovers Guide to Writing a Novel, was a logical match for a movie rental company such as Blockbuster or NetFlix since the assignment for each 'lesson' in the book is watching a movie. Wrong. I was told (snottily by one of them) that they did not "do cross promotions with books."
So I became an affiliate.
And here's a little shameless promo: Want to help prove that product placement or cross-promotion with books is a great idea? Go here: http://www.lightscamerafiction.com/links.html
Get a month of Netflix free. On me. Try it. If you rent three or more movies a month, you'll love NetFlix.
Who knows, maybe diamonds and chocolate will be next if companies see the value of a little cross promotion.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dreaming of Diamonds … or Chocolate

This weekend several writers' loops pointed me toward a press release announcing a new licensing agreement between Harlequin Enterprises and NASCAR. In case there is any reader who doesn't know -- and let me quote the joint press release -- Harlequin is "one of the world's leading publishers of women's fiction and the global leader of series romance" and NASCAR is "the largest sanctioning body of motorsports in the United States."

"Under the agreement, Harlequin will publish a variety of women's fiction titles that will be included in the NASCAR Library Collection… The novels, by some of Harlequin's bestselling authors, will have plotlines centering on NASCAR and will bear the NASCAR brand on their covers. The debut title in the new program, IN THE GROOVE by award-winning author Pamela Britton, will be published on January 31, 2006 to coincide with the Daytona 500.

"We are thrilled to be NASCAR's first partner in fiction publishing and to bring our entertaining and enriching editorial to its audience," said Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO of Harlequin Enterprises. "NASCAR has one of the largest and most loyal bases of female fans of any sport in the United States and we are delighted to publish novels that will appeal specifically to them."

Read more here, or if you want the editorial perspective here.

I should point out that my interest here is purely academic. I am not a motor-racing fan and I know this (picture my index finger and thumb one millimetre apart) much about NASCAR, but the idea caught my attention. I spent some time wondering if other collaborations were possible ... and couldn’t think of anything on the same scale of possible readership.

My daydreaming shifted, as it tends to do on a lazy Sunday morning, to product placement in books. I remember reading something a year or two back about a product placement deal between, from memory, Faye Weldon and a jewellery company. Wouldn't it be nice if the deal were paid in diamonds?

That thought led me to consider the specific products mentioned in my books. Yes, there are diamonds in A RICH STRANGER as well as some upmarket designer names and a specific model of Jaguar. We are talking a RICH guy, after all! Wouldn't some of those free products be nice? *g* But, hey, I'm not greedy (and only slightly delusional.) I'll settle for a carton of Tim Tams, my heroine's chocolate of choice in THE RUTHLESS GROOM.

How about you? What product would you place in your book on the promise of free goodies? Or what organization would you love to collaborate with to produce books for a specific market?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Commandments for New Authors

Because my publisher buys a lot of new authors, I've seen over and over the pitfalls that new writers fall into. I'm hardly a veteran myself with only three books out, but I've learned a few things with each new release, and I came up with these commandments for new writers. I'm still struggling to follow all of them myself, especially the not obsessing about things which I can't control.

  1. Thou shalt not Google thy name or thy book title
  2. Thou shalt not check thy Amazon or thy BN.com numbers every hour
  3. Thou shalt not lurk on message boards where books are discussed
  4. Thou shalt not read reviews of thy book (Unless first vetted by a trusted friend)
  5. Thou shalt not call Ingram for sales numbers (At least not more than once a day)
  6. Thou shalt not compare thy career to that of other writers
  7. Thou shalt not obsess over that which you have no control
I wanted to come up with 10 Commandments, but as you can see, I fell a little short. Anyone have any advice to add?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Random House goes Hollywood

According to Publishers Weekly and several other industry sources, Random House has formed a partnership with Focus Features (part of NBC/Universal) to produce movies -- from RH books.

From what I can tell from the news reports, I can't see a downside to this. According to RH, no author will be required to sign over film rights (which can be worth a pretty penny) if they sign with the house, but the production company will only make movies from RH books.

They're not looking for "blockbusters" and have a moderate budget (well, for Hollywood it's moderate -- $20M a movie) which means the big name authors (Dan Brown, John Grisham, etc) wouldn't be considered.

But, that means they would be looking at the smaller, visual, solid stories. At least, that's my interpretation.

What do you all think? Is there a book that you think would make a great movie, but might be overlooked by the traditional Hollywood studios?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

From Publisher's Weekly

Kensington Gets Kinky With Aphrodisia

by Rachel Deahl, PW Daily -- 10/28/2005

Kensington Books is launching a new imprint to bring "erotic romance" to consumers on a bimonthly basis. Dubbed Aphrodisia, the imprint will launch with four books priced at $12.95 and $13.95. The impetus for Aphrodisia came about, according to v-p and publisher Laurie Parkin, out of a recognition that a number of erotic stories which first appeared online were making it into the retail market. Referring to the success of Kensington's Brava imprint, which, she says, attracted new readers by upping the "level of sensuality and mix of new and bestselling authors," Parkin hopes that Aphrodisia will proceed in much the same way.

The imprint will include an e-book component that will let consumer purchase Aphrodisia titles discreetly. The e-books, which will be sold through kensingtonbooks.com and aphrodisiabooks.com, will also have lower price points at $6.99 and $8.99.

http://publishersweekly.com/article/CA6278878.html

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

From a Reliable Source...

Personnel Changes at Kensington

Kensington Publishing editor-in-chief Michaela Hamilton will now become editor-in-chief of the company's Citadel Press line, overseeing its "repositioning and expansion." At the same time, Hamilton will "continue to work with her authors from the Kensington side and to acquire titles across all of the company's imprints, especially thriller/suspense novels, and will oversee the true crime program for Pinnacle."

Kensington editorial director John Scognamiglio will step up to editor-in-chief of the imprint.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sighing over Signings

Every aspiring novelist dreams about doing a book signing, right? It’s a signal that we’ve made it, that we’ve actually published a book. And we can picture it all so clearly in our minds -- sitting at a linen-draped table, smiling confidently while television cameras roll and long lines of fans clutch coveted copies of our best-selling books.

So why was I so reluctant to let my local Walmart set up a book signing for the release of my debut novel, WHERE HE BELONGS, this month?

Well, for one thing, I’ve already agreed to do two other book signings in different cities. One will be with multiple romance authors. That seemed safe enough to me – if no one shows up, I can spend the time chatting with my friends. And I’ve already enlisted all my coworkers to attend the other.

But the Walmart signing will be during the week when most people I know are working. I’ll be by myself – sola – sitting at that table. Plus, I’m a new writer. I know I won’t have hordes of dedicated fans anxiously waiting to buy my first book.

No problem, you say? I should just chat up my book as shoppers pass by and let my friendly smile and warm personality lure them into buying my book? Oh, please. I’m a classic introvert – I love talking to people one-on-one but am very awkward at mingling. And I don’t enjoy the whole selling/buying process, either. I’m the type who even averts her eyes and scurries past the person giving out free food samples in the supermarket just to avoid a sales pitch.

Then why didn’t I refuse to do the signing? Well, for one thing, the manager sounded so excited about hosting it that I couldn’t bear to turn her down. And then I thought that just maybe I’d get lucky and meet a friendly reader or two.

So what do you think? Am I doomed to spending a lonely afternoon giving people directions to the bathroom? Is there anything I can do to make this event a success? Would anyone like to commiserate about book signings gone awry? Offer tips? Is the whole book signing experience worthwhile –- for readers or writers?