Monday, July 31, 2006

What I learned at National

Things I learned at National


Some observations, thoughts and learnings from RWA National. It was worth every cent. Wow! I just saw an Osprey! It’s sitting atop the telephone pole in front of me. I’m outside my B&B room in northern Florida, where I stopped for one day for the pure luxury of taking a whole day to do nothing but write, process and write.

Anyway, what I learned:

1) Publishers buy what sells. Sex is selling now. So are inspirational romantic suspense books. Historicals are making a slow comeback, but it’s still mainly Regency-era English settings. Historicals are still considered pre-20th century, but there is some leeway, depending on the book and time period. Paranormals are selling, but there’s a glut of them on publishers’ desks. You need to write a book that will sparkle and stand out from the crowd.

2) Publishers will drop you if your books have crummy sell-throughs or drop you from the schedule, but readers have power. It IS possible to launch a reader protest and get your publisher to pay attention (as long as you’re still contracted and they have a vested interest). Thus the importance of the mailing list and loyal readers.

3) Go with your gut, in everything. From writing the book, to finding an agent who is right for you, to knowing what to do next. When searching for an agent, find one who is the right fit and is enthusiastic about your work as a whole NOT just one project. The high-powered agent who gets terrific deals for Jane Doe may not work right for you. Ask friends, chapter members, get info. Trust your gut if you get to meet an agent, and read between the lines with rejection letters or requests for submissions. The same is true with publishers. There are different restrictions with different lines and publishers, and those restrictions aren’t outlined in the guidelines.

4) Be savvy about the marketplace. If you write a Civil War book with all your heart and all your passion, it probably won’t sell in a flat historical market. But if you know that sex is selling, then weave in an erotic element to give frosting to the book and an element that will attract an editor’s eye. Your chances are better. Still, if you have the choice between writing a setting/genre that is selling, and that Civil War book, write what’s selling, even if you’re more excited about the Civil War book.

5) Authors have NO control, or very very little, over some key ingredients to their book’s success. The number one frustration? Covers. A bad cover can literally cause an author’s numbers to tank. Most readers choose books by cover, back cover blurb and author recognition. Authors seldom get to choose their covers and this can bite them, severely, in the end.

6) Use decorum at a professional conference like RWA. You never know who’s watching. Dress for business because it IS a business. Use the experience to make friends, network, introduce yourself around. My biggest regret was I wasted a whole morning in pain from a sinus migraine and missed key workshops and people I really wanted to meet. But I realized also that I was in no shape to be “on” and could barely be civil when it felt like a giant railroad spike was being hammered into my head.

7) Don’t waste time envying others’ success. Christina Dodd gave a terrific luncheon speech on how we’re all walking on the sidewalk to success…some are skateboarding and some are strolling and some lie there, crumbled after skateboarding, because they soared too high too fast. No one has it perfect. The RITA winner has faced personal setbacks and private struggles. The woman with the gadzillion book contract from Superstar Publisher can barely function due to a health problem. Christina wrote for 11 years before getting published. Susan Elizabeth Phillips at the RITA awards said she had a severe career slump 15 years ago. Rejections, setbacks, slumps. Everyone has them.

8) Cheer on your friends and those you admire when they achieve success, because it’s the right thing to do and this business can be so damn draining and hard. Be a cheerleader when you can, because tomorrow it may be your turn and there’s no better feeling in the world in publishing than reaching a longtime goal and having your friends cheer for you.

9) Everyone is different. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t pay attention to someone who says there is only ONE way to write, or get published. My roommate, Cindy Thomason, is a terrific Superromance author. She can write them with any element in them. They suit her fine. I have another friend who can’t write category, even if you paid her $1 million (well, she’d really try hard!) Find what works for you, in writing style, genre, and passion. There are authors who can switch from single title to category easily. If you’re one of them, more power to you. But if it doesn’t work for you, don’t force it. Stop wasting time and concentrate on a genre that you like.

10) Write proposals, if you’re published, and keep writing them instead of writing the whole book… except if you’re writing a book you’re very keen on. I’m passionate about the Empath story I’m working on today. I’m passionate about it because it’s my escape from watching my beloved dog slowly die from cancer. But at the same time, I’m writing another Egyptian historical because those are my bread and butter.

11) Make writing your priority if you want this to be a business. Ask yourself if it’s a hobby or a business. If it’s a business for you, treat it like a business. This means sectioning off time not just for writing, but learning about the business. Know what sell-throughs are, joint accounting, the importance of shelf placement, distribution, reserves against returns, and basic contract language. Think very carefully before signing on that line. Don’t’ get locked into something that you’ll regret later, just because it means you’re getting your goals accomplished. Trust your gut.

12) I already mentioned this, but section off time for writing, business and marketing. When you become published, it means you have to market yourself if you want to stay published. Find out what works for your books and keep doing it. Haywood Smith does book talks at Junior League lunches instead of booksignings. Someone else may find doing ads in magazines works well. Test, try it out on your budget and stick with it if it works. Some booksellers hate bookmarks, others love them. I personally like bookmarks and hand them out as business cards, because they have my cover on them. You’ll forget my name, but hopefully not that cover.

I did decide I need to schedule time for writing and business and become more disciplined about it. Because I work FT in a demanding day job, this means finding time in the a.m. and p.m. Go with your natural body rhythm for the most productive use of your time. If you write better into the wee hours of night, do that. Since I’m NOT a morning person, I’m testing out a new schedule that looks like this:
6:00 a.m.- 8 a.m. Get up, handle emails, requests, stuff I need to mail out such as letters, ARC’s, etc. Shower, dress for work.
5:30-7:30 p.m. Home from work, cook dinner, time with Dh and dogs.
7:30 p.m. Work out at gym
8:30- 10:30 p.m. Write
10:30 p.m. Sleep

13) People will envy you when you achieve some success. Just getting a book published means someone, somewhere, will envy you and may try to shoot you down. Ignore them. Don’t get involved in internet flame wars, fights, etc.

14) Every writer has fears, about their success, the other shoe dropping, getting published, staying published. Even someone as amazing and successful as Sherrilyn Kenyon worries about the other shoe dropping.

15) When it all comes down to it, just write the damn book and write at the pace that suits you best and will result in your best book. It’s a journey of self-discovery. Nora Roberts has 7 original books out this year. Teresa Medeiros, whose books I adore, has one. Everyone has a writing pace, style and technique. Find what works right for you, and then just DO IT!

Oh yeah, a footnote... do NOT forget to turn off cell phone while at workshops, speeches. Usuallly I'm very good at this, but it slipped my mind the day I had the headache from hell. The phone rang right in the middle of Christina Dodd's speech. Very embarassing and rude. Yoikes. I hate when that happens.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

More pix!




Here's the RBL gang at the sports bar after the Rita ceremony/reception was long over (notice Gennita in her casual attire)











Here's Gennita Low in tres elegant dress for the RITA awards... saw her earlier in a Braves baseball cap (she went to the game)







Here's Diana Love Snell and Alesia Holliday with their Ritas!


RWA had a big reception after the awards ceremony, which included lots of chocolate (which I never got to sample, I was running amok)


Hung out with my chapter members after... a few of us are giving ourselves a new name in the tradition of a writing "gang" like the wet noodle posse.

Can't give out the name, it's a secret. ;-)

Tomorrow is breakfast, and leave, heading south again. Wow, what a conference...

Pix


Linnea Sinclair with her RITA!!! and her handsome hubby, Robbie, at the reception after the Rita awards.

Chocolate was all around!






The lovely Susan Squires with her husband, Harry. Harry writes horror for Dorchester, and Susan writes vamp books (The Burning) for St. Martin's.




Rita winners:

Best Traditional: Marion Lennox
Short Contemp: Liz Fielding
Long Contemp: Diana Love Snell (Wet Noodle Posse member)
Paranormal: Linnea Sinclair (YAY!!!!!!)
Inspirational: Beth Pattillo (Her first book was published with Dorchester, she went two years w/o a contract and then got published in inspirational and won the Rita!)
Romantic Novella: Alesia Holliday (YAY!!!)
First book: Stephanie Feagan (Wet Noodle Posse member)
Regency: Diane Gaston (Wet Noodle Possemember!!)
Short historical: Jodi Thomas
Long historical: Liz Caryle
Novel with strong romantic elements: Barbara Samuel
Romantic Suspense: JD Robb (Nora said, "JD couldn't be here tonight, so I'm accepting on her behalf")
Contemp. single title: Susan Wiggs

More pix to follow...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

LINNEA WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

omg!!!!!!! Stacey, if you're reading this, LINNEA WON THE RITA FOR BEST PARANORMAL!!! woooooooooooooo hoooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

Book was Gabriel's Ghost. Linnea Sinclair, author. I'm so damn happy for her and so proud!!!!!!!!!!! She got up there and thanked Robbie, her hubby.

Other winners include lots of wet noodle posse members...even SE Phillips said, "I should join the Wet Noodle Posse." Stephanie Feagan, Diane Gaston, Diana Love Snell.

I'll post the other winners later, have to do the reception thing now and try to get pix. OMG, LInnea won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

wooooooooooooooooooooooooo
hooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

Naked man

A sorta funny: Last night one woman was waiting for the elevator...a group of drunk, giggling girls got off, laughing. The woman went to get on and there's a man standing there, alone, his pants and underwear hanging around his ankles. Stark naked, his equipment exposed.

She told him, "Uh, I'll wait for the next elevator."

Not so funny... an RWA attendee went to her room last night with friends...and there was a man in her room. No idea how he got in. She called security.

Getting ready for the RITA awards now. Did hear that Silhouette is very hot on inspirational romantic suspense. I have a friend who has something with them now. Crossing my fingers she sells it.

Decorations

Dorchester dinner was terrific last night. A Polynesian setting. A bunch of us authors chipped in and got Leah an engagement gift. She's so sweet...and got teary-eyed over her Mai Tai. :-)

I finally got to meet Carolyn Jewel, who is very nice and very friendly. Always wanted to meet her after reading her blog. And Sandra Schwab, who lives in Germany. Virginia Farmer was there, Marjorie Liu, Marianne Mancusi and Joyce Henderson. And Patti O'Shea, whom I always enjoy chatting with. After we went to the bar and hung out. I talked with Susan Squires, her hubby Harry, Melanie Jackson, and of course the ever bubbling Cindy Holby who knows how to entertain.

I'm chilling in my room until it's rubber chicken time... have another nasty sinus headache. Hotel air. All the publisher spotlights I made yesterday weren't very informative, they mainly talked about their authors. More and more I get the impression that if you write a book that really catches an editor's eye, don't worry about the market glut. If it stands out from the crowd, that's what matters. What one editor loves another will reject.

SE Phillips said (or was it Jayne Ann Krentz? My head hurts too much) that it's harder to get an agent than an editor. They had great advice... find the editorial assistant in the house you're targeting and address your submission to her. Today's editorial assistant is tomorrow's editor, and she's very very hungry. She gets to read from the slush pile, so an envelope addressed to her will draw her attention immediately. How do you find out their names? Google. Research.

Me, I'd ask around at conferences. Listen. That's what conferences are for, to glean info, and that info isn't always doled out at workshops. Find a friend, a chapter mate, someone who knows and quiz them. Sometimes you learn a lot more from just hanging around and listening than from talking.

DH called this morning. I miss him so much. And the dogs. Tia is doing fine, which is a big relief. Part of me just wants to go home, curl up on the couch with him and cuddle and hug my fur babies. But the RITA awards are tonight and I want to see Linnea win at least one. She must. She's a terrific writer who is going places and right now I want to see her go on that stage and get that RITA. From small press and e-published to a RITA nominee, that's a story of hard work, drive and success.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Watch it wiggle

The mike went out and in at the Passionate Ink lunch. Audio. No audio. Raelene, publisher of Ellora's Cave, tried wriggling it. "If I wiggle it might work," she speculated. "It doesn't work with men, well, yes, it does." So she took the mike and wiggled it. It worked.

Luncheon was very good, full house, the only time I've eaten an elegant lunch while listening to advice like, "Two c**ks are better than one" and "menage, menage, menage."

Ann Marie, reviewer from Joyfully Reviewed, said readers want their erotic romance with heroes who are raw, raw emotions, raw in the bedroom. Alpha, alpha, with a strong heroine.

Roberta Brown, agent, quizzed all the houses on erotic romance and the word is sex, sex, sex. Some houses aren't doing lines, like Bantam (heard that in their spotlight), but focusing on developing individual authors who write hot. Other houses, like Kensington, are doing very well with their new erotic romance lines. Kensignton has books scheduled into 2008. Roberta said Berkley Heat and Berkley Sensation are two of their best lines, according to editor Cindy Hwang.

Roberta said she chooses clients whose "sex scenes make me squirm."

Went to the Pan workshop on Squawk radio. Met Lisa Kleypas...I sat next to her mom at the workshop. Her mom is gorgeous, just like Lisa. Lisa is very friendly, very nice.

Have to get ready for the Dorchester dinner now.

Market glut


The very elegant and lovely Pamela Clare at the KOD party. Pamela was nominated for a Daphne award for her book, EXTREME EXPOSURE.







Met with an agent and the news is the market is glutted with paranormals. Werewolves, vamps, are piling over on editors' desks. You have to be very, very good and stand out from the crowd. Editors are still asking for RS, contemps and England as a setting for historicals, which are making a comeback.

Danced at the sports bar last night with the RBL gals after the KOD chocolate bash. The RBL gals are a blast, Wow, those girls can party! Wish I had their energy! They sang "Like a Virgin." Not only can they dance, they can sing, too!

Going to try to make the Warner spotlight today. Not sure if I'll make it. I need coffee. Gallons.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"This is a business"

Went to one workshop today. Haywood smith, author of Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch with St. Martin’s. Reinventing your career success. She said one thing that is very, very important. Never complain about your editor, publishing house or agent, a professional writer never complains and for God’s sake don’t put it on the internet. Because all it takes is one forwarding email and you're history. Good advice, especially in the wired age.

Interesting workshop. She wrote historicals, then “my husband got engaged to a stripper, took all our money, plus $200,000 and left me broke.” She knew she had to write something other than historicals because she was making $25,000 supplemental income, and now had to support herself. “This is a business,” she said. “Popular fiction is a marriage between art and business. We have to balance our needs with the marketplace. Publisher loyalty only lasts as long as the dollar comes in.”

“Right now there’s a recession going on and publishers are running scared and running with the tried and true.”

Don’t follow market trends, she advised. Instead follow your readers, what are their lifestyles, what kind of escape do they want? Market trends can end up with a glut of those books on the market. Everything cycles. You can write the book of your heart, if you know it will hit a chord with your readership.

What Haywood did was research baby boomers, found out 60% were divorced, like her, and she used that information to write “Queen Bee,” funny women’s fiction that struck a common element with her generation. And bingo. She also found that her most effective promotion was doing speaker talks, not booksignings. She found alternative markets by giving talks to Junior League members instead of signing at a bookstore.

More advice from her workshop: Accurately assess your interests, just because you do something well (like being good at math) doesn’t meal it’s for you. Do what works for you, what YOU do best. Pay attention to your gut when it comes to writing, your agent and editor.

Here’s a good one for everyone rushing to send manuscripts out after RWA appointments: “It’s taking a foolish chance sending a manuscript to an editor before it’s ready.” Make sure your book is ready before you send it out.

The main thing I walked away from is the advice to remember that it’s a business. It is a business. Repeat that, Bonnie. A business.

I didn’t do the rubber chicken luncheon. Pamela Clare and I were going to the luncheon, but that vast sea of people, no seats, convinced me to call Linnea, who opted out of the rubber chicken as well. We had a nice lunch and talked hair. Met some RBL ladies at the goodie room, they’re fun!

If I were to mention the big difference between attending RWA four years ago as a newly published author and now as a multi-published one, it would be that I’m less starry-eyed and more practical. Like Haywood said, it’s a business. Find what you like to write, with passion, and sprinkle in marketing savvy. And remember there’s always an element of divine providence, or luck. There are things we have no control over that can affect our careers. You have to make the most of it. And as I’m learning rapidly here, grab opportunities when they come up. Trust your instincts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hotlanta

I'm here. I made it. I made it all the way from Florida, driving through a bug blizzard. My windshield looks like a battlefield with love bugs. I made it to the "d" songs on my I-pod. My eyes are bleary.

Counted porno road stops on the way up to break up the drive, compared them to the number of billboards for Bible sales.

Arrived about 4 p.m., actually found the hotel after only almost driving down one one-way street. Found my roommate, she was ready to murder the hotel staff. She'd been here for two hours, after a long drive, like me, and they didn't have our room ready. The hotel was not prepared for an onslaught. Room keys don't work. Yes, they do work. Now they don't. Now they do.

She had the booksigning to do. Finally we got "escorted" to our room, she rushed about getting ready while I went downstairs to get our room keys and put my promo stuff in the goodie room. The hotel is built like a round spaceship, with the open air lobby. It's very hot here, warmer than home. There are a number of bars. I have to figure out which one is which...

Now everyone's downstairs at the booksigning. I'm eyeing my roomie's bottle of gin and thinking about taking a shower before going down to buy books. The more I drink, the more I buy. Hey, it's for a good cause, right? Then I'm meeting a friend for dinner after the booksigning. Looking forward to seeing her again. Hey, her name is Gin. It's a sign. I must toast Gin with gin. Ha. Ha.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How DO truck drivers do this?

Decided to leave tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow a.m. Spent today running amok. Honestly, it felt like it. Thought about getting up tomorrow and hitting the road at 5 a.m. and decided to pack, and leave tonight. So I did. I tossed into a suitcase big enough to hold a large male body all my clothing, books, stuff and all that clean underwear. Hard as it was to leave DH, I got on the road at 7 p.m.

Drove 3.54 hours. My eyelids fluttered. Started singing bad country tunes to the radio to stay awake. Now I'm settled in a Hampton Inn. Free internet. Free breakfast. As opposed to the Marquis, where nothing is free, except the a/c and even that I'm wondering about.

Heard the crime rate scare about Atlanta is false. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. Travel in packs. (Like werewolves, only in high heels?) No, it's okay to walk alone. I figure I'll deal with it when I get there.

Pre-conference news is historicals are warming up again. Editors want them. I can't keep track of trends. It's like trying to follow a tennis game. Your head just bounces after a while, like one of those bobble dolls.

Bob Mayer had good advice. Write what you love, with passion. To which I add, and sprinkle in what's selling. If historicals are out but erotic romance is in, and you like writing steamy, write an erotic historical.

AS for me, the only thing I'm writing now is mileage. 260 miles down, only a few gazillion more to go to Atlanta.

Monday, July 24, 2006

How many panties do I really need to pack?

Mom always said pack plenty of clean underwear.

Went to the store, got a gripping case of decidophobia. It's staggering. Maybe because I had just finished my schedule and realized there are PAN workshops overlapping regular workshops I want to attend. I'm wearing two hats at National... the author who needs to know more about promo/marketing/the business and the writer who wants inspiring writing workshops.

So I made up a schedule, put little marks next to the conflicts and then went to buy underwear. Simple task. I mean, it's underwear. No?

No. I stood there for 15 minutes, deciding. Do I want the plain white panties or the cool blue ones? Stripes? Solids? Satin? Cotton? Dancing chipmunks?

Then I finally realized what I was doing. I mean, IT'S UNDERWEAR. The fashion police won't pull me aside at workshops and growl, "Bonnie, what kind of panties are you wearing because this is a thong kind of workshop and those dancing chipmunks are OUT."

I'm getting my panties in a wad over my panties getting into a wad. Sheesh.

So I solved my problem. I bought four packages. I have enough underwear to last through hurricane season at least, which is a good thing should another hurricane strike, because then I don't have to worry about clean panties, because I'm going to NEED plenty of clean panties because if another hurricane hits my house, I'm gonna....

Tomorrow's task? Figuring how many rest stops there are between here and Atlanta so I can calculate how much coffee I can handle for the 9.42 hour drive up there. I'll be there one at the literacy signing walking around in a glassy-eyed daze, clutching a road map and muttering to myself, "Tall latte, shot of espresso, light & sweet."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

RWA: Spanish edition of my book

Got my hair done this a.m. Thought about going bald and tatooing my September book cover on my skull, decided against it. Got highlights instead. Less painful.

Then I did something very painful. I shopped. At JC Penney's. On the day Florida has tax-free purchases of clothing and shoes. I bought a business dress and stood in a line longer than the luncheon one will be for next week's rubber chicken fiesta at National.

Did get a nice surprise yesterday. Dorchester sent me copies of El Halcon y la Paloma. My first Spanish book! I was surprised at how large it is, trade paperback size. I got so excited.

The dedication was taken from the original English version of "Falcon." To my mom and dad, who taught me to dream, and to Frank, my husband, who kept the dream alive.

My parents taught me to dream, esp. my mom, who was a true romance junkie. When they died, Frank kept my dream of being published alive, encouraging me when I was ready to quit, telling me to hold onto the dream because it would come true some day.

It did for me. And it will for many others as well. Part of me next week will be grinning inside with secret delight, knowing that today's unpub's are tomorrow's debuts. They too, will see their dreams fulfilled. When it happens to someone I know, I feel like a proud big sister. I remember how exciting it is. And their enthusiasm spills over, like water, refreshing me.

I'm taking a copy of my Spanish book to National so I can remember the dream, how I longed to become published, and how hard I worked to get here. My Spanish edition of Falcon will be like a small torch, burning brightly, keeping the dream alive.

Friday, July 21, 2006

RWA, find the muse

One reason, actually, the main reason, I'm attending RWA is to indulge a very special person. My muse.

She's been elusive lately, darting here, there, arriving at inopportune moments, such as when I'm at work. Then she'll appear, just as I'm penning a story about a mother who wants to kill herself just so she can't hear her baby cry anymore from starvation. And I'll get a flash of insight that has to do with Egyptian warriors or werewolves or odd sexual positions.

Don't ask why. Maybe it's a defense mechanism, that when I'm writing stuff that is so sad, and I've been so sad myself lately because of Tia, that my brain rebels and says, UNUSUAL SEXUAL POSITION. YOU CANNOT BE SAD WHEN YOU WONDER, HOW THE HECK CAN THEY DO THAT WITHOUT PULLING A LIGAMENT.

My muse has been sad lately too because I haven't nurtured her. Working FT, being an author with a book coming out in September and having a dog with cancer has sucked away my brain cells and my energy. At home, there are distractions. Like this morning. DH gets up at 5, so I'm awake as well, and use the computer. I'm set to drift back to bed for a blissful hour of snoozing until I have to get ready for work...when I hear him yell from the kitchen.

BONNIE!!!

There are ants streaming in and out of the dog's food bowl. Distraction Number One:Killing mission. I'm groggy-eyed and tired, and killing ants because he's running late for work.

At RWA, there will be no ants in the dog's food bowl. There will be workshops by authors I admire, like Susan E. Phillips, who inspired me to write the book that got me published. There will be synergy, I hope. And if I can manage to keep those godawful demon doubts at bay, which can really kill your muse, I might walk away feeling energized, ready to write, and my muse content and ready to whip me into submission.

Whip? Submission? Note to self: Check out what's happening in the erotic romance market.

Did find out very useful safety advice. Elizabeth Sinclair passes this along about the Atlanta Marriot: "Do NOT wear your name badge outside the hotel. It's an invitation to criminals looking for the 'tourists.'...And from the concierge at the Marriott -- Do NOT go outside alone or in asmall group after dark. Concierge is recommending groups of 7 or MORE." It's not a safe area after dark. Yikes.

I noticed other RWA attendees are concerned about what to wear. The fashion police will be there, critiquing clothing. It won't be like RT, where I breezed through the lobby wearing my white shorts and T-shirts. I do hope Linnea is bringing her martini sweater again, though. Love that sweater. How many pieces of clothing can you wear that are both cute fashion statements and a declaration of what you like to imbibe?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pre-RWA writing advice

For any writer struggling to write that second book, or any book, look at this blog post from Tess Gerritsen. I spotted it on Marjorie Liu's blog.

Writer doubts. Everyone has them. First drafts are crap drafts, revise, revise, revise. Then revise again.

I've discovered that if a character begins acting a certain way, there's a reason for it. Cut them loose. Let them wander but give them a road map as a guideline. In the end, you must be true to your muse. Stop telling yourself it's crap. It's not. It's called the writing process. And everyone does it differently.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

HOWL!!!

Blair, my evil twin, has good news. Ellora's Cave is releasing CAPTIVE MATE the first week of December. CAPTIVE MATE is Blair's werewolf erotic romance. Here's a blurb:

Marcus was Omega, lowest in the wolf pack, who fought other males for the right to mate with Alyssa, the pack heiress. Alyssa craves Marcus’ muscular body, his animal heat when he takes her. Though she burns for her mate, and longs to lie beneath him, she will not surrender to being his. The secret love child of a werewolf and a human artist, Alyssa knows if the pack discovers she’s not purebred, they will destroy her. She runs off to become a waitress in Santa Fe when Marcus leaves the pack to fight vampires.

Six years later, Marcus returns home to rule the pack and claim Alyssa once more. Alyssa aches for his caresses, but fights him even as he imprisons her in the sensual world of the werewolf. Marcus knows he must protect Alyssa from the pack discovering her secret. Only the legendary werewolf bonding orgy, in which she’ll show submission to ten of the strongest males, can protect her. In the end he will force Alyssa into acknowledging her passionate wild side… and surrender to her sensual nature as his captive mate.


Is it bad taste to promote my other writing self, the one who writes about sexy werewolves? Should I do it tongue-in-cheek with a twist of humor, like
Sherrilyn Kenyon did? That cracked me up. SK, btw, will be the keynote speaker at my RWA chapter's writing conference in February. I can't wait! She's so sweet when you meet her, very humble and very friendly.

Gerbils

I decided to move this blog post to Blair's blog because I want to talk about RWA and Blair needs to update her blog.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sue Ellen Welfonder

She IS still writing Scottish historicals. Well, that's good news. Her paranormals are just an addition. So I deleted that particular blog post.

Adventures of a flat-footed decidophobic at RWA

Yesterday I wasn’t sure I was attending RWA’s national conference (or National, as it’s commonly known). Tia had problems over the weekend. So I took a “gift” from her to the vet, who did a lab and determined she’s NOT bleeding internally. They gave me new meds to soothe her system, and Tia is acting perky again.

I have Connie the pet sitter to cook for her, so I feel free to drive 12 hours to Hotlanta, as Linnea Sinclair calls it. Linnea is up for two RITA awards. I want to be at the awards to see her win one. Linnea’s writing journey is amazing. She went from being e-published, and not having any of her books recognized as “real” books by RWA to being nominated for two RITA’s.

Having attending RT only two months ago, and now doing RWA, I must remember the differences between the two conferences. RT is fun, parties, meeting readers and booksellers. Sort of barefoot in the grass, kick your shoes off as you slug back that 100th chocolate martini and discover interesting gossip about cover models. (Are his testicles really THAT big?)

RWA is a proper tea party where you sit up straight and order Green Chai and hide the run in your pantyhose by shifting one leg behind the other.

This will be my first National conference since 2002, the year my first book was published. What a high! I got my pink ribbon and walked around in a proud daze, like I was Published.

At National next week, I'll be blogging about the differences between my first conference as a NAPPA (New Astounded Proud Published Author) and now as a MAGHOMO (Multi-published Author of Genres with Heroines Obtaining Multiple Orgasms.)

National will prove challenging. Two reasons why:

I’m flat-footed.
I’m a decidophobic.

I always have a shoe crisis at conferences. And I have trouble making decisions. Being a decidophobic leads to all sorts of interesting speculations at National.

How much promo stuff for THE PANTHER & THE PYRAMID do I bring? Which workshop to attend? When do I get together with old friends? Do we do lunch or dinner or breakfast? What dress to wear? Should I wear the spring breeze underarm deodorant or should I opt for my pits to smell more like a rose garden? Do I curl my hair or leave it flat? Should I pluck, or not pluck, my eyebrows? What genre should I research? What editor should I stalk? What agent should I trap in the bathroom, armed with a ten-inch thick manuscript while I’m holding all the toilet paper hostage?

Oh wait. I’m published. I can’t/won’t/shouldn’t do that anymore.

Still, it might be fun. The Rules are you NEVER take your book to give it to an editor/agent. But I could cart along my very first manuscript, the ten-inch thick book that never sold, and use it as a weapon should I get mugged.

Police: What happened here, people? Why is this man lying on the sidewalk?

Witness: He tried to mug author Bonnie Vanak and she coshed him with her 200,000 word manuscript that had a soap opera star for a hero, a rich, spoiled heroine, one sick horse and an exploding yacht, the single title mistake she pitched as category to a Harlequin editor nine years ago.

Police: Looks like he’ll be in a coma for a few years.

Witness: Yeah. Just like Bonnie’s book.

Stay tuned for details next week, when I attend PAN workshops and wonder if anyone notices I’m not sitting up straight.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tia & Tiger


People have asked how Tia is doing, so I posted this photo to show. DH took it this a.m. We put the extra pillow on the floor for her to feel comfortable, since we suspect the tumor is affecting her belly. Tiger likes the pillow as well.

She's eating again, thank God! Last week she stopped eating. I thought that was it. She perked up again and yesterday, barked at the doorbell just like her old self. Dogs are amazing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Secret Confession

I have to admit it...I can't keep quiet about it anymore.

It's something I must admit in order to get help. The first step is admitting it, right?

I'm addicted to Kentucky bluegrass music. Me. The semi-urban Jerseyite girl raised in Yankee land. I am listening to "Blue Moon of Kentucky" as I write this. Then there's "Rocky Top." Gimme the banjo, a hot, smoking fiddle and guitar and a chorus of Southern voices raised in harmony, and I'm a happy camper.

I can hear my mother now in heaven. "WTH?"

In other news, Haiti is a mess, again. Sigh. My friend C, who is living there now, emailed me. They're shooting each other again in neighborhoods, children getting caught in the crossfire. Sigh...

Haiti, I love you, but sometimes, you break my heart.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hard bodies and HARD EVIDENCE

Check out Sean. He lives in Colorado, is very protective of women, and can tear phone books apart with his bare hands. Pamela Clare did an interview with him. Said interview is posted courtesy of Beaty of the fantastic RBL Romantica board.

Sean would make a perfect model to play Julian, the hero of Pamela's October romantic suspense, HARD EVIDENCE. Hey, okay, his hair is blond, but he's got the body of a cover model. Mmmmmm.

Here's a description of HARD EVIDENCE:

Investigative reporter Tessa Novak witnesses the murder of a teenage girl-and believes Julian Darcangelo committed the crime. But Julian is actually an undercover FBI agent on the trail of a human trafficker and killer. And now Tessa's report has brought them closer than either one of them could have imagined-and put both of their lives in danger.

Sometimes life can be hard. And that can be a good. thing. Very good. ;-)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A special thanks

To Nieves and Sofia and Eva and Marti, who helped Terciopelo do a book launch in Barcelona for the Spanish edition of THE FALCON & THE DOVE. Thank you ladies!

I deleted my last post because ranting gets you nowhere. And I have more important matters holding my attention.

Tia is holding her own. She started eating again, yay! But she’s really slowed down. This has been a vet-intensive week, with Tia being at the eye doctor’s on Monday and yesterday, Tiger was in surgery to pull a cracked, infected tooth. Now I have two ailing dogs. The good news is I signed up for a very special conference held Labor Day weekend. I'm attending Heather Graham's WRITERS FOR NEW ORLEANS WORKSHOP. She's holding a weekend conference there to pump a little money into the tourist-starved city. I'll be signing copies of THE PANTHER & THE PYRAMID, my first signing for that new book! You still have time to sign up for the conference.
Check it out.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Recipe

More problems with Tia. Took her to the ER vet yesterday b/c I was worried about her eye, the one that was operated on 3 years ago. It could be either a new growth or the cornea is nearly gone, and the fluid is building up. The vet said she's probably in pain, which is why she's trying to scratch it. She gave me something to put on it, but I don't think it helps with the pain.

Came home, cried, and then cooked dinner for her. She ate. Appetite is still very healthy, which is good. But I suspect the prednisone could be drying out her eye, which causes the eye problem. So do I stop the drug that is keeping her alive so the eye will be okay? No answers. It's a holiday weekend, so hopefully I can get her to the eye doctor next week.

In the meantime, I have four days off from work and I'm determined to make the most of them. DH and I plan to spend one whole day having fun. Today I'm writing and doing promo stuff. But I did find a great recipe my friend Jan passed on. I might make it for lunch.

Seafood Au Gratin

1 stick margarine, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 bunch green onions, chopped, 1 pint cream, 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, grated, 2 tablespoons dry white wine, 1 pound lump crabmeat OR shrimp, Salt and pepper

Saute green onions in margarine until soft. Add flour. Blend together and begin adding cream gradually until sauce is smooth. Add cheese, wine and seasonings. Fold in crab meat or shrimp. Serve hot over rice.