In Which I Catch You Up on ALL THE NEWS

eK lunchAnother photo from the RT Convention. This is me (in the yellow hat, if you don’t know) going out for barbeque with the eKensington group. I’m standing next to Alexandra Nicolajsen, who is the Digital Content/Marketing Manager for Kensington. The rest are other authors, except for the lady kneeling by the pig’s snout. That’s Alicia Condon, Editorial Director of Kensington’s Brava line. Just in case any of you want to stalk her at a conference. 😉

I feel like I have a lot of news to catch up on. I’ve been posting things in dribs and drabs, but I’m not sure where I posted what or who I told which thing. So, it seems like a Fridayish, wrap-the-week up kind of thing to list it all here. Forgive me if this is stuff you all already know.


RUBY, Book 3 in the Facets of Passion series, releases on Monday!!!!Ruby_final  There have been a lot of great reviews already, so I’m really excited for this one to hit the world. I’ve also been giving copies away on Twitter this week to people who sing back the songs to me when I post lyrics. Pretty fun! Maybe I should do it on Facebook, too?

Along those lines, Book 4 in Facets of Passion, ORO, will be in Carina Press’s erotic holiday anthology coming out in December that Angela James is editing. I’m just thrilled about that, especially about the stellar writers I’ll be keeping company with: Christine d’Abo, Jodie Griffin and newbie writers to Carina, Elise Logan and Emily Ryan-Davis.

 This weekend (starting today, in fact) is the Southwest Book Fiesta. I’ll be hanging at a booth with my local chapter, the gals from LERA. I’m the Featured Author at the booth from 11 to 12 Saturday, May 11, and again from 5 to 6. Also, at 2pm, I’ll be on a panel with some other romance authors, including the fabulously famous New York Times Bestselling Author Miss Darynda Jones. I fully intend to bask in any glory she happens to reflect.

By way of promoting the Book Fiesta, I was interviewed on local TV. It’s kind of fun to watch – and very brief!

When I was at the World Fantasy Convention last fall, I met this Australian gal, Em Craven, who has a popular website called the E-book Revolution. She later interviewed me via Skype and posted the podcast recently. It’s about an hour long, but we had a really interesting conversation. She comes at things from a more fantasy/science-fiction perspective, a group of readers who’ve been oddly slow in embracing eBooks, especially as compared to the romance community.

In other news, I have confirmation now that my modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera will officially be called MASTER OF THE OPERA. It will come out in January 2014, in six digital episodes, releasing every two weeks. SO interested to see how it’s received. I’m working on edits for it now and having a great time with my new Kensington editor, Peter Senftleben.

After that, Book 1 of The Twelve Kingdoms will come out in trade paperback in June 2014, with Book 2 in December. Book 1 is the one I called The Middle Princess, but that title will change. The spin-off story Negotiation, a prequel to the trilogy, will be out in an anthology, THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD, Volume II,  in June – eBook first, followed by mass-market paperback.

I’m auctioning off two things in Brenda Novak’s big online auction to benefit diabetes research. One is a one-on-one mentorship with me, for you aspiring writers out there. The other is the opportunity to have a meal (your choice, as schedules allow) at the RWA convention in Atlanta with me and the fabulous Carolyn Crane. We’ll treat and you can bring one friend along – or keep us all to yourself! – and dish with you on any topic you like.

Finally – and this is funny – I’ve been talked into having a Street Team. For those who don’t know, this is just a loose association of readers who want to pimp my books to the world. Because this concept always makes me think of Westside Story, the team is officially the Jeffe Jets. Yes, you can absolutely sing the theme song and I think we *have* to get the jackets at some point. At any rate, if you want to play, let me know. If you want to coordinate, even better because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Whew! I think that’s everything. A lot, right?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Everything I Know About Task Lists I Learned in College

Me at the Book FairAngela James, now Editorial Director at Carina Press, took this pic of me at the RT Book Fair. Love how skinny she made me look!

So, now I’m home and getting back in the groove. I spent most of yesterday on day job conference calls and with my spreadsheets – organizing the next month of my life.

That’s how it works for me, kind of in chunks of time. I keep this running To Do List in Excel, with a column for each day. So, today’s list looks like this:

To Do ListDon’t worry about not understanding my cryptic notes – it’s a mix of writing life, day job and Other. Significantly, I don’t have writing work on there because that two hours happens every day, regardless, and I have Another, FAR more complex set of spreadsheets to track what I’m doing there.

At any rate, that’s today’s column and there’s one for tomorrow and the next day, and so on, until Sunday 6/9, when it stops.

Why Sunday 6/9, you might ask? Well, this is the interesting part.

(And okay – I totally accept if you all find NONE OF THIS even remotely interesting. Feel free to move on and read something amusing like this XKCD comic.)

Still here? Go figure.

So, the reason it’s Sunday 6/9 is because that’s the day I fly home from the Lori Foster Reader/Author Get Together (RAGT). Up until yesterday, the list ended on Monday 5/13, RUBY’s release day. (Yay!) It’s also a week past getting home from the RT Convention. Do you see the pattern? It just hit me as I was doing this yesterday.

It reminds me of the habits I developed in college. I used to carry these day calendars that showed a week at a time. Don’t be alarmed, kids – this was back in the days when we didn’t HAVE handheld computer devices, also known as the 80s. I would organize my life my semester. At the beginning of each term, I wrote down all the dates of my exams, midterms and finals, along with major papers due – peppered with school holidays. Then I proceeded to work from deadline to deadline. Once a test was taken or a paper turned in, I looked to the next milestone down the road.

Which is totally what I’m doing now. Conferences, release dates and book deadlines – along with vacations – form the structure of my new life.

I’m not sure this is a good approach or not, but it’s interesting to see how I’m still working off those early habits. It might be worth examining if there’s a better way to do things.

Anyone have suggestions?

Tuesday 5/7
my blog
make mani/pedi appt
make wands – 10
send books & wand to Sullivan
send wands – Amy, Much Ado
Send WV notes
NN Report – check errors
Establish dates for GWR & NN
to QA – 5/7 CCR Protocol
write up Ph II/V history
5/8 Laura’s PA
before 5/9 call – figure 5-18 hours
WV Enforcement Policy
GWR Protocol
Laramie place to stay

Growing Up and Letting Go of Nostalgia

Me at Bowles PlazaThis is me back on campus at ol’Wash U. Thanks to Felicia Conway Korengal for the pic!

So, I mentioned on Tuesday that I was still processing my 25th College Reunion. People keep asking me if I had fun and if I’m glad I went and my usual answers have been “kind of” and “yes.” I think it’s good that I went and I don’t regret it, and there were many fun moments, but I didn’t really enjoy myself all that much.

I felt super emotional – lots of sadness – and I wasn’t sure why.

A few things played into this, I think. I’ve been back to campus and St. Louis many times over the last 25 years since graduation, but always with very specific plans. Sometimes I was there for work and arranged to see local friends. Once I arranged for a celebration of my favorite professor, who was dying of cancer. Many of his former students from over the years came together to talk about how much his teachings meant to us. That was an amazing, fulfilling experience.

This time, it was the random luck-of-the-draw, whoever turned-up-for-the-reunion thing. There were some people I knew – Felicia being one – and a whole lot of people I didn’t remember. Very few of them remembered me. I ended up walking around by myself a lot, which was fine because I’m good with that, and it also replicated how I was in college. Most of the time I went from place to place on my own, caught up in my own thoughts, following my own schedule. So that put me very much back where I was then.

And I became profoundly aware of how different I am now.

It was kind of wrenching to realize.

See, for a very long time, I regarded my college years as an ideal time in my life. And it was, in many, many ways. At Wash U, I found my tribe in a way I never had before. I blossomed – socially, intellectually and, dare I say, spiritually – and when I graduated and moved on, I deeply missed the community I’d had there. I grieved for it. I may have idealized it.

Because, walking around, visiting all my old places, memories came back to me that made me see how unhappy I’d been at times. Especially in the first couple of years. It was a time of great growth and change for me, which often means pain. To my surprise, instead of happy nostalgia, I re-experienced a lot of that old pain. An amazing sensation, 25 years later.

The extraordinary thing that hit me was, how much better my life is now.

It’s especially clear to me as I plan to go to the RT Booklovers Convention next week. My schedule is already full – meals and drinks and parties with friends, various writing and reading communities and publishers. There are so many people I’m excited to see and talk to.

They are my new tribe.

It’s an interesting experience, to realize you’re not the person you were. Almost like a little death. No wonder no one remembered me – I’m not at all who I was then. Which, I suppose, is how it should be.

I walked onto that campus at 19 and left four years later a transformed person. Of course that didn’t stop. One of the things I most value about the education I received at Washington University is the tools they gave me to continue a lifetime of learning and growing.

Learn and grow I have.

It will be interesting to see who I am in another 25 years.

Battle of the Butt Ruffles

I’m back from convention!

And getting my bearings. While I recombobulate, I have a bit of a contest to offer you.

See, because Marcella, Laura and I are all on the cutting edge of fashion (ahem), we all ended up wearing butt ruffles to convention. I know – it truly boggles the mind.

Highly amused, we decided to take pics and let YOU, our fond audience, determine which butt ruffles belong to which person.

Choose wisely.

Keep in mind we returned burdened with swag and free books. I myself, scored a copy of Anne Rice’s new book.

(You’ll also be glad to know that I didn’t lose my fangirl mind and get lipstick on her or anything…)

Let’s hear those guesses!

Off to Convention!

It’s that time of year again: the RT Booklover’s Convention!

I head out tomorrow morning and I will *try* to keep up with pics and gossip here as best I can. (But those of you who’ve followed along before know how well this usually turns out. I always think I’ll have plenty of time and then suddenly it’s Sunday, I’m on a plane home and all I can remember is a blur of faces and one, long, nonstop conversation. I suspect time-warp – I really do.)

If you’ll be there, look me up! Here are some for-sure appearances:

Tuesday, 6:30 pm, Ghost Tour – this should be super-fun. And Cindy Spencer Pape and I will likely be in the hotel bar afterwards.

PANELISTS: Lynne Connolly (AKA Lynne M. Connolly/Lynne Martin), Seleste deLaney, Jeffe Kennedy (AKA Jennifer Paris), Cindy Spencer Pape (AKA Cian Fey), Hunter Raines (AKA Lacey Savage), LaVerne Thompson (AKA Ursula Sinclair)

Wednesday, 3:30-4:30, Reader Party! – THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE SIDEKICK
HOSTS: Laura Bickle (AKA Alayna Williams), Marcella Burnard, Jeffe Kennedy (AKA Jennifer Paris)

Wednesday, 9:00-Midnight, Party! – ELLORA’S CAVE STEP UP & STOMP



Saturday, 6:15-7:30, Party! – FAN-TASTIC DAY PARTY

Saturday, 8-9, Moar Party! – CARINA PRESS COCKTAIL PARTY
Join Executive Editor Angela James, Carina Press authors and other members of the Carina Press team for cocktails during a celebration to thank everyone for their support as we head into our first anniversary!

Saturday, 9-Midnight, Still MOAR Party! – HARLEQUIN DANCE PARTY
Harlequin Enterprises hosts a spectacular dance party and an evening of glamour where you will meet the stars of romance.

I’ll be at workshops and private events here and there, too. Otherwise your odds are pretty good of finding me in the bar. Look for the hat. Feel free to stop by and pull up a chair!

Let’s Mist Again

We’re predicted to freeze tonight – exactly 32 F for the low. Time to bring in my container plants and bedding down the perennials for the winter.

That’s okay, as we’re a week into October now.

(No – I have no idea how that happened. One of my editors is planning to report the theft of September to the proper authorities.)

I’ve been thinking about imagination and creating stories lately. Totally part of my Neil Gaiman kick, I’m sure. It’s also because I found out that Marcella, Laura and I will be presenting a writers panel at the RT Booklovers Convention in April called I Was Born This Way! We all have really different styles of plotting, pre or no, and now we’ll have to find coherent ways to discuss it. I, of course, represent the mister pole, where I plot virtually nothing ahead of time. Not because I don’t think that sounds like a great idea, but because I just can’t.

Yesterday I wrote the scene where my Middle Princess arrived in the foreign country. All through the book so far, people have told wild tales about the place and the people. Tons of misinformation. In many ways the book has turned out to have the theme of things not being what they seem. So, she’s been anticipating – kind of dreading, kind of excited – arriving in this near-mythical place which will become her home. Believe me, I’m giving nothing away here. We know from the beginning that her fate will go in this direction, no matter how she fights it. She’s all interested to see what it’s really like.

And so was I.

Cuz, um, I had absolutely no idea.

This seems to be how my imagination works. I can think about the place, come up with hints and ideas, but until I write my heroine and I’m riding in her head, seeing the place, I just can’t seem to know much about it. While this creates uncertainty, it also makes writing really fun. But the place turned out to be… well, that part would be spoilery.

Suffice to say I was surprised.

Damn, now I want to tell you all about it.