Last RT Update

Okay, here we go – the last RT 2011 update. I’m actually going back to Friday, since I didn’t have my notes with me yesterday.

Friday morning I went to a panel on creating out of this world Science Fiction. But really, it ended up being a panel on world-building. I learned that when you’re creating a world, you can’t just take your home town and put it on a different planet. You need to come up with political, social, religious, and economic structures for your planet (or your area of the planet), and you cannot ignore the weather as that, too will affect the inhabitants. L.E. Modesitt, Ann Aguirre, Melinda Snodgrass and Kate Elliot were the panelists (since my sons are huge L.E. Modesitt fans, it was a thrill to be there). Another thing – when dealing with sci fi in particular, stay away from what Modesitt calls “techno-porn”, digging into how things work. Keep it gray, amorphous, and it won’t date the book as fast. When you think about it, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, and Modesitt himself all have timeless stories. That’s what you want, timeless, so your book can still be on the shelves 20 years from now and still feel fresh, not dated.

From there I went to a panel with Merrilee Heifetz, a VP with Writer’s House; Anne Hoppe, a Harper Collins Executive Editor; and Sally Willcox, a film agent with CAA. They were talking about taking a book to film, the options process, and how few options actually make it to the silver screen (less than 2% of the million options that happen in a year). This was nothing new to me, having been around the Hollywood scene for a couple decades now; but I did accomplish my objective, pressing my bookmark into each of their hands. Go, me!

I sat in on the TOR Spotlight and got a ton of L.E. Modesitt swag which I had him autograph on Saturday. I also learned that TOR is very interested in romance in their sci fi, and they do want Space Opera. Yay! An interesting side note – Modesitt does not have an agent. He’s married to TOR, as he puts it, and sees no reason to get an agent at this point. He’s doing well with approximately 20 books in print (I don’t think any of his books have gone out of print, actually). Nice!

From there I went to The Many Faces of the Undead with Caridad Pinero, L.A. Banks, Kerrelyn Sparks, and Jeanne C. Stein. On the social side, since I just did a blog post with Caridad it was wonderful to meet her in person. She’s warm, funny, and so smart! We talked until it was time to start the panel.

The interesting thing I took away from this panel was that, since the Vampire has so many advantages, you have to give them vulnerabilities. Which is why one of the panelists stuck to all the traditional trappings of vampires – they die during the day, can’t go into the sun, etc. All the panelists had different ways of handling their vamps, and it was fascinating to listen to. The main thing is once you set those parameters for your characters, then you have to stick with them and make them work. I think it was Kerrelyn who said the one device she wished she hadn’t done in her first book was the garlic thing – now she thinks it’s kind of silly. So if you’re writing supernatural creatures, be careful of the restrictions you put on them, and make sure you give them weaknesses that make them vulnerable.

After that panel was the book signing and I’ve already talked at length about those two hours, so I’ll skip it here.

The Vampire Ball was interesting. Heather Graham and Helen A. Rosburg sponsored the ball and put on a show. Unfortunately the show was done while we ate, and it was very difficult to hear (not to mention follow the story line). And the story line was incoherent – too many writers, I’m thinking. All in all, the dinner was nice – the show, not my favorite way to spend forty minutes.

And now it’s Sunday morning. Time to pack up all my free books and get ready to head on for home.

RT Update: My First Booksigning

I apologize, I don’t have my notes with me from yesterday so I’ll have to add those tomorrow.

But – yesterday I had my very first booksigning ever. For my very first published book, DEMON SOUL, pubbed by Crescent Moon Press. It was amazing! No, I didn’t sell out, and that’s okay – the lovely NY Times bestselling author in two genres next to me didn’t sell any more books than I did, so that made me feel better.

What I did do though was get up off my ass. I stood, and hooked my bookmark to my pen, and leaned over the table to people as they walked by. “Here, you need this!” or “This is for you!” Most people smiled, only a couple refused; and I spread my brand a little more. I even sold one book that way (in total, I sold 4. Don’t laugh!). I could have sold more if I’d had a physical book; several people, including men, expressed interest in the physical book. Hopefully they’ll go to Amazon and buy that way, we will see. But at the end of the day I must have given away more than a hundred bookmarks and pens. Which spreads the brand.

I know – many authors say they’ve never bought a book from a bookmark, and I’m one of them. But readers are not authors, and if the blurb is catchy enough, the bookmark striking enough, you’ll pull in new people. If nothing else, you’re spreading your brand, and that’s never a bad thing, right?

I was so into my “friendly marketing mode” that I even talked to Selena James for about five minutes about her conference experience and then about my book. It wasn’t until she walked away that I realized her affiliation with Kensington. Now, she’s the exec editor for Dafina Books, and as such not a publisher for me, but still – I learned that when in marketing mode, it was easier to be relaxed even in front of the biggies. Heather Osborn of Samhain Publishing also got a pen, a bookmark, and we had a brief conversation.

Another thing I learned while pimping my book out was how to succinctly state what the book is about in an organic, unplanned way. This is not your elevator pitch, my friends – this is a conversation with readers. Hooking them verbally is different than hooking them on paper. I don’t know why but it is. The basics are the same but the delivery is different…words that I’d never put together with the novel were tumbling out. I got good at it very fast, and enjoyed it which I didn’t think I would.

The best thing about the day? I had a gal from England buy my book. She downloaded it on her newly-won-at-a-raffle Kindle, and came back to show it to me…her plan was to read it on the plane on the way back home. SWEET!!! Am I allowed to happy dance?!!


Buy Link: at Amazon or at All Romance eBooks and search for DEMON SOUL.

RT Update #3 – Editors, Agents, and the Faery Masquerade

My head is still awhirl from all the goings-on! This morning I did NOT go to the gym, so if Deidre Knight was there, she won today.

Panels yesterday – I listened to four authors talk about how to keep the plot tight and your reader reading, and then the two heavy-hitters with lunch in between – the editor and agent panels. After the editor panel (which pretty much said what they always say – write the best book you can and it will find a home), I went up and gave my bookmark to Deb Werksman, telling her I have a new book out. I LOVE the books she publishes, and would be thrilled to be published there and I told her so. She immediately whipped out her business card, so there’s that. I also talked to Heather Osborn and Lori Perkins. Lori is with Ravenous Romance and Heather of course is with Samhain. I was interested to hear that Samhain is taking all heat levels now…yet another market opening up. All the editors said the same thing – you don’t have to have an agent to submit, but if you don’t you’d better follow the submissions guidelines to the letter. And if you do your submission will stand out. Interesting, no?

After lunch, I went to the agent panel and gave a lot of bookmarks out there. I received strong interest from four of the agents, especially when I told them I had a book coming out, another one in the queue, it’s a series, and I don’t have an agent. So that was sweet. I talked to Kevan Lyon who remembered my name from the Savvy Authors pitch session last week – Jill Marsal (Marsal Lyon Literary Agency) asked for my first 50 pages off a 3 line pitch, and I wanted the agency to put a face to the name. So mission accomplished.

Floating on air, then I went to Boys Don’t Cry: the Male POV. Very interesting and I got some really good reference material from there – I’ll do another post just on that topic as it was fascinating.

All day I kept running into friends – I saw Christine London frequently, and Eden Bradley; Lisa Kessler; Syrie James; oh and others, lol!

At 4pm the RT Book Reviews Awards Ceremony was held – and no less exciting, even though the winners knew six weeks ago. So that was fun. I skimmed the Samhain Steampunk Tea, as it was very crowded and I had to get ready for the Faery Masquerade that night. Syrie James came up to my room and we lazed around and talked for a couple hours until it was time to get ready. She looked amazing in peacock feather wings and a gorgeous, sparkly gown. I had on an authentic Venetian ballgown (thank you, AJS Costumes in Burbank!)  and felt only slightly foolish.

After dinner (which was wonderful), there was a costume contest and like a fool I participated. What was I thinking? Dizzy even without wearing heels and a huge, heavy gown – going up stairs and doing a curtsey was dangerous. I was scared to death. Out of 55 of us, there were 15 finalists – and to my surprise I was the last finalist called. (Thanks, Faery Court!) So I had to do the traipsing up the stairs again, helped luckily by the Mr. Romance guys who swore they wouldn’t let  me fall. And I didn’t, so that was good.

Of course, a hunky guy with a puppy who had wings won first place, I think. Five won prizes, the rest of us were just thankful to get off the stage. Or maybe that was me?

At any rate, it was a long and exhausting day, which is why I didn’t get up at 5:45am to hit the gym. Maybe tomorrow? Oh…the Vampire Ball is tonight. Their theme is Zombie Strippers from Plan 9…um, yeah. I’m not wearing a costume tonight…no one wants to see my zombie stripper, trust me!

And now I’m running late. Keep writing and reading, everyone! The digital revolution may be taking place as I type, but content is still king!

News! News! News!

Life is SWEET today. I received confirmation that my paranormal romance novel, DEMON SOUL, will release in mid-March 2011 from Crescent Moon Press! This is fantastic. It really fits into my schedule, as I’m hoping to turn in the next book, DEMON HUNT, that same month – so I’ll have a reason to do some partying.

I’ve started the blog tour in motion, and there are some things I need to check on with the publishing house, but all in all I am completely stoked. My husband is, too – he feels he can “finally” celebrate the book since it’s now got a firm publication date.

My second chunk of news is I’ve been accepted to the Henry Miller Writer’s Workshop in early March, put on by the fabulous Andrea Brown Agency. I’ll be working on my YA novel, JESSE ON THE VERGE.

Third chunk of news, I’m actually headed off to the Romantic Times Convention this year! It’s here in Los Angeles, so I’m waaay excited to be saving some money. Between this convention and the workshop, I’ll have used up my workshop money.

I’m really, really looking forward to this year – it has bright-shiny-happy-productive written all over it!