Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Book Giveaway

At last, at last, I'm updating my blog. In the meantime, I went to Lake Tahoe (beautiful), to emcee and attend Romantic Encounter, the West Coast offshoot of Celebrate Romance.

I came home with a ton of books, most of which I'm giving away on my Web site. Go to www.jennifersromances.com and click "Contests."

I also had some wonderful news. I'm going to write a novelization of the life of Anne Boleyn for Berkley, due out next Fall! More when I have more to report.

Happy Reading!!


Monday, August 09, 2004

RWA National 2004, Days 2-4

See below for my description of day 1.

DAY 2, Thursday. I went to bed the night before fired up and ready to leap out of bed and rush off to the 8:30 sessions. Reality check. I woke up at 8:45, said oh well. Had a leisurely breakfast with dh, then drove back to the Adam's Mark.

The highlight of that day was meeting with my editor from Dorchester. We had lunch at a little sandwich shop and talked for about an hour. We talked about my upcoming Care and Feeding of Pirates, plus chatted about my latest historical proposal, and of course, Confessions of a Lingerie Slut, my first contemporary. We might have to change the title, alas.

I love talking with editors and getting the book biz from their perspective. What we see as writers and readers is not necessarily what they see.

You know, after going to several "Spotlight on" sessions with editors, I came to one conclusion. I'd love to be an editor! What a thrill to find a book that you absolutely love and be able to bring it the attention it deserves. It sounds like a wonderful job. (I used to be a nonfiction editor, so I know there's a lot of tedious work involved, too, but even so... ).

Well, I won't have time to be an editor any time soon. I have two books to write and get done before the end of the year. What time is it? August? Ack!!

Thursday night I went to the welcome reception. I cruised through until I spotted the lovely ladies from my chapter and elbowed my way to their table. The ladies of the Desert Rose and Valley of the Sun chapters are just great. Very supportive, enthusiastic, ambitious, and fun. They support me, and I'm grateful to them.

DAY 3 (Friday). One thing I like about bringing my dh to conferences is that we combine it with a mini-vacation. Friday we took off to Fort Worth and went to the botanical gardens and the Kimball museum. What a fantastic musuem! I highly recommend it. The Kimball is a small art musuem that houses some of the great masters (Ruebens, Goya, El Greco, and many more). They have art from ancient to modern, good pieces. And best of all, it's free! The Kimball is funded by doners and probably grants, and the permanent collection is free to the public. I loved it!

We got back to Dallas in time for me to get ready to go be wined and dined at publisher parties. Dh had to make do with a hamburger in the hotel restaurant, poor baby.

Dorchester took us out to a lush restaurant on top of the Adam's Mark. Food--excellent. The restaurant makes up for the hotel's other faults (I heard stories of hard beds, maids not replacing the toilet paper, and other lovely tales.)

I had a lovely caesar salad presented in an unusual way (heart of romaine, not chopped lettuce), a pasta that was to die for. OK, I have a thing for food. If you read any of my mysteries by Ashley Gardner (www.gardnermysteries.com), my character, Lucius Grenville, shares my love of good food. He's prone to describing a meal and forgetting about who shared it with him.

But I shared my meal with great company: Kathleen Nance, Pam Clare, Patti O'Shea, and newcomers Norah Wilson and Kathy Richards. Chris Keeslar had won an editor of the year award from RWA's PASIC chapter--congrats to him.

Nina Bangs and I had both been invited to Berkley's cocktail party that was on at the same time. We slunk away early and went down to schmooze with champagne and finger food in the presidential suite. My Berkley editor was there and we chatted. Also met another Berkley Prime Crime author and had a nice talk. Christine Feehan was also at that party and I was able to say hi to her. Didn't get to talk to her as much as I would have liked, but she's always kept busy!

DAY 4 (Saturday). Breakfasted with my Berkley editor at 8:30. We both confessed we didn't function well in the morning. We talked about my historical mystery series that I write as Ashley Gardner, talked about the malaise of the mystery market in general (sigh). (This week, I heard that two mystery authors had their historical series cancelled... it's really heartbreaking.)

We talked about romances also and what I was doing in that field. I talked about some ideas I had for contemporary mysteries and in my copious spare time, I might start something in that direction.

Next fun thing was meeting informally with my fellow Dorchester authors and going to lunch. The hotel restaurant was too full, so we traipsed across to the mall--to find all the restaurants but a few at the food court closed. Downtown Dallas is deserted on the weekend.

So we ended up ordering at KFC and the like and sitting in the atrium together to eat. That was fun, actually, because we had the chance to talk. Nearest me was Ronda Thompson (who put the shindig together), Claudia Dain, Catherine Spangler, Virginia Farmer, Pam Clare, and my dh. Susan Grant, Dee Davis, and many more joined us (I'll remember who all was there when I get my pictures up).

If that wasn't enough, I next moved on to pick up some Regency authors to do an off-site signing in Plano (Dallas suburb). Candice Hern, Kathy Caskie, Sophie Nash, and me piled into our rental car and drove through horrible traffic and construction to a mall.

The signing was quiet, although I managed to sell most of my mysteries. We had fun, though, talking about Regencies and romance and promotions and all those good things that published authors talk about when they're together (we don't quote great literature; we mostly ask each other where we can buy good bookmarks).

After that, we piled back in the car and headed back to Dallas.

I said good-bye at this point. The dh and I combined this trip with one to Austin to visit family, so we dropped off the famous Regency authors and hit the road. Three hours and a little rain later, we rolled up to a B&B in Austin called Carrington's Bluff (lovely place), and collapsed!

Thus endeth my RWA adventure.

(See below for day 1!)

Friday, August 06, 2004

RWA National Diary

So last week I went to the RWA National conference. Here's what I remember:

Day 1 (Wednesday): Rolled into town and checked into the overflow hotel. I procrastinated on signing up for the conference, and so got shunted to the overflow. Lucky me! I checked in quickly and easily, went up to my lovely one-bedroom suite with soft bed, laid down, didn't want to get up.

Got up, went to the conference at the Adam's Mark. Saw the hotel check-in line which was a THREE-HOUR wait! I walked down the line, chatted with people I saw, tried not to gloat because my check in had taken three minutes. A lot of bonding was going on, friendships forged in that line that may last years.

I grabbed my conference registration, got myself to the ballroom with the huge booksigning. It started raining outside, so I didn't expect much. And then, the room exploded with activity. 450 authors signing and about 3000 buyers. I sold out my stacks pretty quickly, which gave me time to go SHOPPING!

I love booksignings. Buying a book from the person who wrote it is just a kick. I restrained myself to about $85 worth of books--I bought favorite authors and new-to-me authors. I had to mail all the books back to myself and just got the boxes. Can't wait to dig in.

OK, who was there? I sat between Adele Ashworth and Judith Arnold. Adele writes historicals (yay!) and Judith had a stack of comedies set in a New York deli. I admired both (and purchased, of course). Then the authors who inspired me: Jo Beverly, Lisa Kleypas, Barbara Samuel, Mary Jo Putney, Christina Dodd. And Sherilyn Kenyon, of course Nora Roberts, Christine Feehan, and many many more. Several debut authors were making their "come-outs." I was excited for them.

And then, there was the star of the show, my sweet, wonderful husband who, to help the Beau Monde Regency chapter, dressed in Regency gentleman's clothing and wandered about handing out cards about the Beau Monde authors. He was handsome and charming, and does he look good in a cutaway tailcoat? Oh my yes. Several people asked if he was a cover model (lol!). He was admired and flirted with, and loved every minute of it.

After the signing, we went up to the Beau Monde soiree, where other Regency authors and aspiring authors had dressed in costume. Regina Scott was Reggie, her alter-ego, in breeches and coat and dandy-like manner. She was adorable. Other ladies wore lovely Regency garb. They gathered in the middle of the floor and learned country dances from the dance master (I sat on the sidelines and ate fondue--hey I was happy!).

The crowning point of the night was at 11 pm when my dh and I returned to our hotel (we were pooped). Outside, a huge deluge had begun (well, it had started about 6). We were in downtown Dallas with a bad map. We were trying to find the interstate. We couldn't see anything. We got turned around--completely lost. Lightning everywhere. Rain coming down in gobs. Roads that go one way, then suddenly end or turn you the way you don't want to go. Terror (although, I figured we'd get somewhere, sometime).

At last we pulled into a parking lot, huddled over the map, and figured it out. We found the interstate. It was a river. Fortunately, we were only a few stops down the line and got back ok.

That storm lasted until five in the morning, and later we found out that 12-13 inches of rain had been dumped on Dallas (and us) that night.

That was Day 1. Day 2 to follow.