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So, like a week ago, Lacey gave me this awesome Thinking Blogger award, and I’m just now getting down to thinking about it.

I’m supposed to pass it on to 5 bloggers who make me think. I know, I know – many of these people have been awarded this already. I think that’s okay. And there are many more of you who make me think, but the rules say I only get five.

First, we have Ms. Courtney Milan. CM makes me think often. Even more often, she makes me think about giving up thinking entirely, outsourcing all of my thinking to her, and taking up crochet instead. Her recent post on entails is just one of many gems on that blog.

Back when I was writing GOTH and wringing my hands about whether a prologue is a Good Thing or the Kiss of Death, Alice Audrey kindly reassured me with this post. It’s never too late to say thanks.

Lenora Bell routinely makes me think fondly about my stint as a volunteer in Southeast Asia. This post made me think I would cry.

With this completely innocuous post at Romance Vagabonds, Elodie made me think about someone I hadn’t thought about in a while. Someone I miss. Someone I wish I’d known better. Someone the world is a little more flat without.

And lastly, to throw some karma back at her, Lacey’s post this week about taking opportunities and (gasp!) asking for good things got me thinking … Read More »

Lately, CM’s been blogging about DH Lawrence.

Today, I’m writing the chapter where my GOB heroine goes out to sea for the first time in her life. And I have this poem running through my mind. Although it’s from a different era and place entirely, the sensation it describes is universal.

By Emily Dickinson:

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,
Past the houses — past the headlands —
Into deep Eternity —

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

Are you inspired by poetry? Care to share some?Read More »

One reason it’s taking me forever to get really rolling on Goddess of Beauty is the amount of research I’ve had to do. Egads, have I done research. I chose the plot and setting of Goddess of the Hunt (comedy of manners at a Regency house party) partly because I wanted a story I could write quickly, without getting bogged down in research.

Well, now I am bogged, mired, and drowning in research – on topics from the history of pigments, to the British anti-slavery movement, to sailing terminology, to the physiology of colorblindness, to exactly which paintings were exhibited by JMW Turner at the Royal Academy from 1815-1820. It’s tremendous fun, and GOB will be a much richer book for it, but it’s time-consuming.

But mostly I’ve been reading first-hand accounts of transatlantic voyages during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Most of these are written by men. They write about storms, and the birds and fishes they see, and the birds and fishes they see killed and eaten, and any skirmishes amongst passengers or the crew – all very useful information, but rather lacking for my purposes.

And then, I finally found an account penned by a woman: Journal of a Lady of Quality;
Being the Narrative of a Journey from Scotland to the West Indies,
North Carolina, and Portugal, in the Years 1774 to 1776
, by Janet Schaw.

What a revelation! Ms. Schaw – bless her! – writes not only beautifully, but she writes about all … Read More »

So I finally downloaded a few pictures I took during my day at Avon. Just had to share this one.

Read More »

Congratulations to Beth! Beth, you’ve won some great stuff – just email me your snail mail address.

Thanks so much to all of you who’ve hung out with me all week. It’s been so much fun, and a great way to prolong the high from my trip. I wish I had a prize for every one of you.

Aside from that great day at Avon, the best thing about my trip was just feeling like a writer in New York – sitting in the cafe of the hotel, scribbling outlines in my notebook for Goddess of Beauty, and knowing that, published or not … by vocation, I’m a writer! I couldn’t say that about myself six months ago, but now – when someone I meet asks me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer. It’s a lifelong dream for me to be able to say that and mean it. And it wouldn’t have been possible without FanLit, and without all of you. So thank you, so much.

What about you? When people ask what you do, do you tell them about your writing?

And now, it’s time for me to knuckle down and start working on my next book. Between the trip and the queries and submissions I’ve been sending out for GOTH, I’ve gotten nothing done on it, and I’m itching to start.

A while back, I asked you for celebrity inspiration for my new hero and heroine. Here’s what I’m working off of now … Read More »

Congrats to Cynthia Falcon, Thursday’s winner! Email me with your snail mail addy, and I’ll give you a list of books to choose from.

Ms. Eloisa James took me for tea and scones at the beginning of the day, and she was kind enough to ask about my book. I’d never tried to pitch my book before, and let’s just say – that fact was obvious. I rambled, I hedged, I wanted to stick a coffee stirrer in my eye. But she listened very patiently and then gave me tips on how to pitch it right. Here’s some of her advice:

If you’re pitching to an editor, know the house’s line and how your book would fit in. In my case, since I have a light, humorous Regency I’m trying to sell to Avon, EJ said I should come out and say, “This is a light, humorous Regency, along the lines of Eloisa James and Julia Quinn’s books.” Okay, so just typing that sentence verges on blasphemy, but really – she said to say it. The reason is, publishing houses follow a pattern. Say a publisher brings out 10 books a month, and 3 are historicals. And of those, one is a darker Regency, and one is a romp, and one is a non-Regency historical. They need to know how the book you’re pitching fits into the pattern.

Don’t be afraid to stereotype your characters. EJ kept trying to pin labels on my h/h. “So he’s a tortured alpha,” … Read More »

Please excuse tardiness of this post and lack of cute pictures. Every member of the Dare household has succumbed to a yucky cold.

But congratulations to Christina, yesterday’s winner! Yay! Email me with your snail mail address, please.

So after my lunch at Saks, we returned to HarperCollins HQ, and I was introduced to Carolyn Pittis, Senior VP of Global Marketing Strategy and Operations (yeah, she had a nice office!) Carolyn talked to me about FanLit as a marketing tool – what they hoped to gain from the program, how the results matched their expectations, and what they have in mind for next time.

One in two paperbacks sold in the U.S. is a romance novel – as we all know, it’s a huge market. Through FanLit, Avon/HarperCollins wanted to reach out to romance readers and aspiring authors and create a community that allowed us, the end users, to feel connected to each other and the people who create the books (authors, editors, etc.). We all know that goal was achieved! Sites like Fanlit Forever and Romance Vagabonds and all our individual blogs bear witness to FanLit’s enduring esprit de corps.

It was really interesting to hear Carolyn talk about the HarperTeen event that followed the Avon FanLit, and how the two groups compared. HarperTeen drew more participants initially, but evidently teens are more fickle than we (ahem) more mature romance readers. Their participation dropped off sharply each week, and their individual visits to the site were in-and-out, while … Read More »

I have a mini-blog today on the official FanLit site. I’d be much obliged if you have time to come over and say ‘hi’ there, too – so I don’t feel lonely! You have to sign into the site to comment, but maybe some of you remember your passwords?

The linkRead More »

Congrats to Leigh, yesterday’s winner! Please email me with your snail mail address, and to choose your extra book.

I had the great pleasure of having lunch at Saks with Avon editors Tessa Woodward and Esi Sogah. Tessa and Esi are good people to know. Not just because they’re fun, smart, sassy women, but because they read ALL the queries that come to Avon. That’s right – ALL the queries. They take turns – one week, Tessa will read them, and the next week, it will be Esi’s turn. Most of the questions people gave me beforehand had to do with queries and submissions, and Tessa and Esi were happy to dish. Here’s a primer on how NOT to query Avon:

Don’t describe your book in vague terms. (“It’s a thrilling story of love and adventure!”) Be specific about what sets your plot apart and makes your characters unique.

Don’t spend five paragraphs talking about yourself and one paragraph describing your book.

If you get a form letter rejection, don’t write back and accuse them of not reading your query. They read every query. Every. Query.

If you get rejected, don’t write back and tell them they clearly have no taste in books.

Don’t resubmit the same query the next week. They do talk amongst themselves, and they do remember.

Don’t resend the same query addressed to a different editor. As I said, in any given week, they all go to one person.

If you’re asked to submit a partial, … Read More »

Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday! I hope you guys are enjoying this as much as I am. Congrats to Kelly Rardon, winner of the Caskie ARC, tote, and book of her choice! (Email me, Kelly, and I’ll let you know your choices.)

So after that fascinating introduction to cover art, I visited the Publicity department. Pam Spengler-Jaffee and Shari Newman invited me in, loaded me up with goodies, and gave me great tips about how an author should promote herself and her books. These bright (and yes, nice!) ladies might publicize 20-30 books a month, sending out press releases and review copies. So authors need to be on the ball to promote themselves and their releases, too.

A few highlights:

*A major theme was that authors need to nurture their own readership by reaching out to readers and keeping open lines of communication with them. Networking with other authors, reviewers, editors, and other people in publishing is also important.

*To that end, websites, blogs, and email lists are essential. And Pam says authors should keep them interesting and current. Run contests, review books, host forums or chat, send out e-newsletters, etc. Pam talked about how this helps keep readers interested in the gap between book release dates.

*Authors should cultivate close relationships with their local booksellers, especially any romance specialists, and offer to do events and booksignings.

*Authors should also be aware of their local media, especially human-interest columnists and book reviewers for the local paper. … Read More »