Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “The Godparents: Your top five influences as a writer.” Come on over to find out mine!
Also, we’re heading into the last week of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Fantasy Storybundle. The theme is “Kickass Heroines” and this is such a kickass collection. I was one of the first to download it, even though my own book is in it, and I’ve read a couple of others. So many fantastic books for an amazing price.
I might even have looked at some kitten pictures yesterday. David is egging me on for a Norwegian forest cat. Wouldn’t that be fun?
So, finally, here’s my break-down of the Gulf Coast Writers Silken Sands Conference last weekend. It was a lovely conference and I’m so glad I went, even with what happened while I was gone. A small conference like this lets you have so many more opportunities to hang in a casual way with the editors and agents in attendance. That OMIGODINEEDTOPITCH OCD frenzy just never develops.
It’s actually fun.
So, when I got in, the fabulous conference organizer, Jillian Chantal, picked me up from the airport. My hotel room had a view of the beach.
I soaked in the view – and the moisture – then hooked up with Jillian and Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, to head to this We Got Crabs place next door.
Very fun place. We sat outside, enjoyed the live band. AND they had $2.50 martinis.
There’s Angela, looking happily dwarfed by her martini.
I got to have fresh crab. Even though it took me a while to get the bib open.
On Friday morning, I grabbed a little beach time with Carolyn Crane’s second book in her Disillusionists trilogy, Double Cross. Man, did I gobble up these books. Such a fascinating approach to the use of psychic energy. Her cast of characters is like a deeply twisted Justice League. I’m working on getting her to write more! This is one of my favorite parts of being an author – I can stalk other authors without them being so suspicious and then badger them into giving me more of what I want. Guerilla author – that’s me.
Then Angela took me and two other Carina Press authors out to lunch. Katie Reus and Wynter Daniels were delightful companions and Angela a charming and generous hostess. I got this amazing shrimp boat platter:
Afterwards, we attended Angela’s seminar on building your author brand and author websites. Very informative. And she analyzed our websites, too. She took great care to make us feel like valued members of her publishing family. It was really lovely.
That evening was the costume party – come as your favorite literary character. That’s the picture at the top. Me as Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. I carried the book with me as a clue, but nobody got it. Mainly because very few people there had read the book. Seriously people, this is such a good book! How can I make more people read it???
On Saturday morning, I got to pitch The Middle Princess to a lovely editor from St. Martins, who I’d already chatted with (small conference for the win!), so it was laid back and pleasant. It helped that we sat on the patio overlooking the beach. Okay, it was a little weird because Angela and my Ellora’s Cave editor, Grace Bradley, were also taking pitches at nearby tables. I felt like a pitch-slut. But, I also know that Middle Princess isn’t right for either of those presses and I’m writing stuff for them.
I may or may not have put in a little more beach time after that.
After that, I had lunch with Grace, which was lovely and low-key. The conference provided yummy box lunches and they made a (mostly) Vegan one for her, so we took our lunches and had a long, leisurely conversation. I attended some workshops that afternoon and spent a bit of time at the pool bar with the charming Keri Ford.
This was St. Patrick’s Day and by evening the beach was a MADHOUSE like you would not believe.
Sunday morning – well, if you’ve been reading you know Saturday night and Sunday morning were bad for me. But I did my workshop on the Erotic Story Arc. (Thank you Keri Ford for the pic!)
Grace came to the workshop and had great input. Keri took a pic of us together, but it’s on Grace’s phone and she’s on vacation in the Caribbean, which makes me bitter on several levels. Hopefully I’ll get that eventually and post it here.
The always-generous conference organizers gave me a ride back to the airport, along with Jenny Bent. It was fun to get to talk to her and discover we have surprising things in common. What a delightful person she is.
That’s the round-up. In case you haven’t been reading carefully: try the small conferences. *Totally* worth it.
To clarify right off the bat: a blurb is absolutely not objective. It’s advertising, pure and simple. I mention this because I sometimes see blurbs referred to as reviews. An example of this would be Jessica Andersen’s first book in her Final Prophecy series, which carries a blurb from J.R.Ward. If you can read that, it says: “An astounding paranormal world…I swear ancient Mayan gods and demons walk the modern earth!”
I mention this particular example because I bought this book back in 2008 when it came out, entirely because of the blurb. At the time I was completely addicted to J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I was willing to read anything connected to her. Turns out the two of them are good friends and critique partners, so of course J.R. did this favor for her writing friend and for a book she wanted to support.
But this is how a blurb is not a review. Blurbs are absolutely biased support and people argue all the time about whether they’re effective.
See, the other way people get blurbs is through their agents or publishers. An agent might ask one client to blurb for another. The publishers ask star authors to blurb debut authors. Theoretically the authors always read the book first. They’re allowed to decline also. There are some famous stories out there of authors who not only declined to positively blurb a book, but tried to dissuade the publisher from going ahead with publication. Neil Gaiman has a story like this. It also happened to a friend of mine recently with her debut book. Seriously, the publisher asked this big, famous author whose name you would totally recognize to blurb this book and the author wrote back this awful letter on how much she hated the book and that the publisher should cancel it.
Don’t try this at home people.
At any rate, being the requestor is a funny place to be, because you’re essentially begging your friends and acquaintances for the favor of not only reading your book, but saying something nice about it. Or at least compelling. It’s kind of a fun game to read blurbs and discern when the blurber was just trying to think of something positive and interesting to say when “I loved this book!” is simply not a possibility.
Back when Wyoming Trucks, True Love and the Weather Channel came out, I was much bolder about asking. I asked writing teachers and famous authors both. Barbara Kingsolver’s agent wrote me a really lovely message in reply. Mary Karr didn’t bother to answer.
For some reason, I’ve lost some of that brashness now. Maybe I understand better what the big authors’ lives are really like. Marcella was egging me on last night to ask Robin McKinley and I was abashed at even the thought of asking her. I’d feel like a puppy peeing on her shoes.
Actually, given how much attention she lavishes on her Hellhounds, that might be an effective approach.
So, for now I’m hitting up my friends – especially the ones who’ve already read the thing and made nice noises about it. As I screw up the chutzpah, I might see if some others want to read, with an eye towards blurbing.
Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to ask someone like Robin.