Living the Nora Life

 B1YtROqIcAAtnVhOn Sunday I got to see my lovely friends Darynda Jones and Katie Lane at the event for their new releases at Page 1 Books. Katie is telling a hilarious story about a trick-or-treater who came to her door talking on his cell phone. She refused to give him candy until he hung up and said “trick or treat.” She’s so damn funny. We met for lunch before hand and had such a great conversation. Love them both so much and so grateful to have them in my life.

Book events – especially for new releases – are kind of funny things. I mean, of course you want to do them. And they’re usually fun, because they’re a celebratory party thing and even better if you have author friends to join in, like this. I’ve got several events coming up for the release of The Tears of the Rose later this month. In fact, I should list them here:

Friday, November 7, 8-11pm, Independence Center of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Washington DC – Mass autographing at World Fantasy Con

Friday, December 5, 7pm at Bookworks – me and Darynda!

Sunday, December 7, 2:30-3 at Page 1 Books – me and Celeste Bradley!

Come on by if you can!

At any rate, I was working last night on stuff to prep for this release and finding it a bit wrenching, because I’m working on something totally different now and my head is in that. It’s a weird thing about the whole business, that when I’m super excited about a book and want to talk about it, I’m the only one who knows anything about the story and there’s no one to talk to. Then, by the time everybody ELSE gets to read it, it’s old hat to me. Thinking about that, I recalled a conversation from Born in Ice, by Nora Roberts. I read it back in the mid-90s, when it first came out and before I ever thought I’d write fiction. But this scene struck me then and has stuck with me. The hero is Grayson Thane and he’s a bestselling author of thrillers. At one point he’s talking to his agent on the phone and she’s quoting good reviews to him. He tells the heroine, Brianna, that they’re early quotes on the new book. She says,

“But you haven’t finished the new book.”

“Not that new book. The one that’s coming out in July. That’s the new book, what I’m working on is the new manuscript.”

In another scene, which I can’t find in my paper copy and shouldn’t spend any more time looking for – this is one reason I love searchable digital books! – Brianna comments that he must be excited about the movie about to premiere of one of his books. He says, well, yes, but right now he’s all about Flashback. (At least, I think that’s what the title was – search might not have helped after all.) She asks what that is and he says it’s the manuscript he’s writing and all he can think about.

I really love this about Nora, that she created such a terrific character in Gray (and yes, his name IS over the top, because he made it up, we find out). He compelled me as a plain reader and now, years later, I identify so much with all the true-to-life details she layered in about him. Not that anyone is making a movie of my book, but I’ll be ready! Such a funny moment to realize I know what he – and Nora – are talking about. It’s the best possible world when I suddenly feel like a character from one of her books. Also a tribute to her skill in creating very real characters.

Speaking of new releases and author-type things, my first newsletter officially sent today! (Yeah, yeah, yeah – late, as my mother continually mentioned all weekend. Technical difficulties, okay?) So, if you thought you were getting one and didn’t, check your spam folder. Ironically enough, my own copy went to my junk mail folder. Sad day when I’m spamming myself…  If you still don’t have it, ping me and I’ll check into it.

I’m off to World Fantasy Con (see aforementioned signing on Friday) starting Thursday. If you’re going to be there, do say hi!

Author Photo Contest!

BPlS_CeCMAErwnYThat picture is a bit blurry, but that’s Nora Roberts rocking it out on the dance floor at the Harlequin party a the RWA National Conference. She is so wonderful in so many ways.

I’m over at Word Whores today, talking about why scenes should have goals.

Also, I’m choosing a head shot for my book jacket! *muppet flail* A real book jacket!! So, I have four new shots. I’ll likely use the one I pick for all my social media schtuff, so you’ll be looking at it A LOT. Keep that in mind. Let me know which you like and why. I brought  a SLEW of books back from the conference, so I’ll be giving away the book of choice to three commenters.
(As soon as my suitcases catch up to me, I’ll take a pic of the stack and you can choose from that.)

All pics taken by Sarah at Pritschow Photography. I think she did an amazing job.

(Also, for the purists, these are not the highest resolution I have – I reduced size for the multi-upload here.)

Take it away!

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Frahgilé

It’s a Major Award.

Today is an exciting day in the romancey community. RWA is a well-oiled machine, as you have to be for a major advocacy group with over 10,000 members. Today is the day RWA announces the finalists for the Golden Heart Awards for unpublished writers and the Rita Awards for published writers.

There are multiple categories such as single-title contemporary (that would be your standard Nora Roberts/Linda Howard novel), or series (such as Harlequin), or paranormal, or romantic suspense and so forth.

Everyone submitted their books or manuscripts back in December and now all the judging is in (from fellow RWA members). Finalists are notified today and the winners will be announced at the big awards ceremony at the RWA National Convention in July.

That’s when you get to see Nora in her Ferragamos accepting her trophies.

All across the internet, there are blog parties today. People chime in when they’ve heard that they finalled and others comment to congratulate. The people you don’t hear from are the ones still clutching their cell phones, waiting for it to ring.

A lot of hope out there today, swirling through the interwebs.

Which means there will also be disappointment. A lot of phones won’t ring.

Golden Heart, particularly, can be held up by the unpubbed writers as the pinnacle of success. It’s a particularly nice deal in that, if you are a finalist, you get first pick of the agent and editor pitch appointments at the convention. Theoretically they’ll take you more seriously, having been vetted by your colleagues.

But that only points up that the Golden Heart is only an intermediate step to the REAL prize: publication. Which is the whole point, after all. At least for the upubs. Clearly all those Rita finalists are hoping for another level of validation, likely just as crucial to them. Maybe more so.

I’ve seen several “studies” – bloggers doing informal surveys of Golden Heart winners – to see if there was a correlation between winning or finalling and publication. The answer, as always, is yes and no. It looks to me like it helps, but it’s far from a sinecure.

Like all contests, it can be wonderful validation from your peers, but it really doesn’t put your book before readers’ eyes. Readers who will pay you to eat so you can keep giving them stories, much less readers who will give you enough money to buy Ferragamos.

I don’t know if I’ll check into the blog parties or not. I’m keeping my phone off until my writing is done. That part must remain sacred, as it’s the core of it all.

It’s hard to wait. Hard to rest your hopes on whether someone gave you a score of 7 or 9, or even an 8.8. You take a little piece of your heart and lay it on the marble slab under the judges critical eye.

But, in the end, an award is only what it means to you. Even a Major Award.

Even if it’s Italian.

Creativity, Discipline and Nora — Oh My!

Sometimes I wonder if there’s really a limit to creative energy, or if I just tend to think so.

I got in my 1K again today (yay! horns, confetti, ect!), but now I don’t feel like writing my blog. Alas.

Sometimes I think it’s just discipline. Halle made an interesting comment on the Ritual & Madness post that she’s come to believe that ritual is all about discipline, and that the emotional response to disruption is simply knowing how hard it is to regain the discipline. I think she’s got a great point there. I’ve read about authors who write in hugely disciplined ways. The beyond-prolific Nora Roberts says she writes eight hours a day. (Some out there will claim this is because she’s doing factory-genre writing, rather than true Art, but that’s neither here nor there.) And many novelists started out as journalists; they often cite that kind of disciplined, churn-out-articles-every-day writing as what built their ability to write consistently.

For myself, I find I don’t seem to write — to compose — for more than a couple of hours at a time. I have a whole day to write, and I find myself composing for two hours or so, and revising the rest. That and doing business, like queries, submissions, etc.

What with my dream of being a full-time writer, I wonder if that means I’ll still write about two hours a day and dork around for the rest…

That’s what dreams are all about!