Thursday, July 30, 2009

Christo's Cover

I finally had a few minutes this evening to prowl through more than email. And so I looked online to see if I could find the cover for Christo's book.

Remember him? And Natalie?

I do. Barely.

Mostly I remember them as having spent far too long in my house over the holidays last year. They were like guests who had long since worn out their welcome before they finally decamped after revisions. Frankly, I'd blotted them out.

But recently several Presents authors with books out the same month as mine (that would be November 2009) were saying they hadn't seen their covers yet. Obviously I hadn't either.

Then I remembered that Kate Walker sent me the cover of PJ's book when she found it online before the Powers That Be ever sent me a copy. So I decided to go look.

Christo and Natalie's book, called One-Night Mistress...Convenient Wife (don't get your expectations raised over that, either) wasn't on the US site of, but oddly, the US Presents cover was already posted on the UK site,!

So here it is.

Does he look like Christo? No.

Does she look like Natalie? Not at all. The hair color is even wrong.

The setting? Nope. It takes place mostly in a house on The Strand in Manhattan Beach -- or on the beach. Or in Brazil. Or . . . well, suffice to say there's not a lot of OFFICE in it, but clearly the artist was told to send the message: OFFICE ROMANCE.

There is a bit of the office thrown in -- in revisions. They asked for it. I did it.

But I walked a very narrow line the whole way. You may recall me whining that The Prof's cousin, a lawyer, kept vetting the lawyerly bits of it and ringing me to ask if I wanted to get Christo disbarred!

Er, no. I didn't, thank you very much.

I suppose that would have made an interesting story, but it was not the one I had in mind. And definitely not the one editorial hoped I would write.

Anyway, it's not the worst cover I've ever had (Snow White,and the Axe Murderer was probably that. Or maybe Jay Leno and Jimmy Cagney's Death Mask). But it's not the best, either. It's okay. No Axe Murderer. No Death Mask.

I'm counting my blessings.

What do you think?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Great American Road Trip

Miss me?

I had no idea I would be gone so long, but time flies when you're driving . . . and driving . . . and driving.

We left a week ago Monday to take a a couple of days to reach Montana to visit grandkids (and of course their parents). I hadn't been there since Hank was born and he is now three months old -- and has definitely changed a lot. Big Sis hasn't changed as much, but she didn't tip her chair over and need stitches in her head this time and we count that as a plus.

I love Montana -- even when it's the Land Of Snow And More Snow. But this time it was idyllic -- sunny, just warm enough, late afternoon rain showers that disappeared over the mountains about an hour after they arrived. Everything was green and bright and cheerful. I didn't want to leave.

Except . . .

We were heading to Washington to visit the newest grandson -- whom we hadn't yet met. That was an incentive, believe me. But we didn't make a headlong dash. Instead we detoured by La Grande, Oregon where one of my mother's first cousins and her husband of 71 years are living.

I hadn't seen them since I was ten. It felt like yesterday -- but I didn't have quite so much gray in my hair at age 10. I was skinnier too.

In any case, we had a wonderful time. They toured us all over the area, showed us the best bits of their part of the world, then took us out to eat at a wonderful Mexican restaurant. It was a treat, and we were sorry to leave.

Finally now we've arrived in Washington. We've met Sol, who is remarkably like his father. Pictures didn't do the resemblance justice, but seeing the big feet and hands certainly did. Plus in animation, he is very much his Daddy's boy.

Lovely trip. Now we get to spend a week here. And I get to tuck in Demetrios's revisions while I'm visiting Sol and, I hope, touching base with several other long lost relatives. Great fun. One of the best vacations I've had in years.

I loved my work trip to Cannes last autumn, but I must say I have found this to be a lovely change of pace. There's nothing like going across 2300 miles of America to make you appreciate the beauty and diversity of this country -- and to enjoy so many interesting people.

What about you? Are you a fan of family vacations? Getting away from it all? Exotic places? Give me some suggestions? I love to travel.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

RITA winners

Well, sadly for PJ and Ally, Antonides' Forbidden Wife, didn't win the RITA.

But other terrific books were winners of tonight's RITA awards at the RWA National Convention.

In PJ's category, contemporary series romance, A Mother's Wish, by Karen Templeton won the RITA. I haven't read her book, but I have no doubt it was deserving of the honor. Congratulations, Karen. And congrats as well to all the rest of the finalists. It was an honor to have PJ and Ally's book up there among them.

A couple of RITA winners I'm particularly happy about were Joanna Bourne's My Lord and Spymaster, which I thought was a terrific, fast-paced, compelling read, and Cindy Gerard's Take No Prisoners. I haven't read it yet, but I'm thrilled anyway because Cindy is an old friend.

You can read a list of all the winners on RWA's twitter site. So check it out and make sure you note down the names of the books and authors.

It's a tough competition, and any book that wins is worth reading.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Sol's Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Linda Henderson of Missouri who is the winner of Sol's Contest!

Micah and Mitch went to town gobbling treats today and picked Linda's name from among the entries. They were very grateful to everyone who entered -- as was Sol (or he would be if he understood these things. He's working on it. His other grandma assures me that he is getting smarter and more aware every day).

RWA is going on in Washington DC. Lots of partying and conferencing and whatnot going on.

Here we have finished sports camp and have a couple of winners here, as well.

Every year the kids get 'brands' on wooden paddles that symbolize the qualities they are striving for during the week.

This year grandson got LOVE and ENTHUSIASM, and granddaughter got ATTITUDE and DEDICATION. (Her mother says this means she's dedicated -- with Attitude).

I'm delighted for both of them. They worked really hard, had an 'awesome' time, and are both already figuring out what sports they want to major in next year. He's got lacrosse on his mind. I'm not sure what she's settled on yet.

He went home tonight. She's going home tomorrow. It's going to be very quiet here without them.

But I have plenty to do. I need to get Demetrios through his unexpected love scene -- and start packing. The dog sitters are coming . . . the dog sitters are coming . . .

Again, congratulations to Linda from Micah and Mitch and me -- and Sol.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Following the characters

Over on Kate Walker's blog I think I have a post on Thursday. Kate is celebrating Presents this month and has asked a few of us to write about some aspect of Presents for her while she's living it up in Washington DC at RWA.

This is very Tom Sawyerish of her. But even so I was happy to oblige.

There's a lot to enjoy in writing for Presents. Our books go all over the world. We get to research amazing places -- and we get to imagine whole worlds of fascinating people. As a day job, it's hard to beat.

I would happily have written all my books for Presents but that's not the way my mind works. I follow the characters wherever they go. They dictate the story -- and sadly, marketing and editorial don't think in broad enough terms for them all to be Presents.

That's okay. I probably couldn't write at all if I tried to specifically aim my books for external guidelines. I'm just glad 28 of them have fit there so far.

This is the weekend that PJ and Ally's book, Antonides' Forbidden Wife, is up for the RITA award in the short contemporary category. If ever a book didn't seem to 'fit' the notion of a Presents, their book might be it.

PJ hadn't even been on my radar as a Presents hero. I'd always known him as a surfer. Of course I also knew he was more than that. But surfing really formed a lot of who PJ was as a young man, and it is still a core element in the man he became.

He was a free spirit, a lone wolf, a man who didn't march to his family's drummer. As such he was very much a role model for the young Ally. At least he was a great support for her in those days. He gave her the means to do what she wanted to do with her life simply by marrying her.

When I followed them into and out of their back story I was fascinated by the people they were and the adults they became. I had no idea that they even had a story when Karin Stoecker, the editorial director at Harlequin Mills & Boon said she'd like to read Peter's story after he'd been in his brother, Elias's book.

"What about Peter?" she said expectantly.

I didn't know anything about Peter when she asked. The first thing he told me was that as soon as he left New York, he began to go by his initials, PJ. He re-invented himself. He was very happy to tell me all about his life up til then.

But in order to write Antonides' Forbidden Wife, I had to follow him and Ally for several months. I had to learn about them as they seemed to learn about themselves. I'm very happy they ended up being in Presents.

I wish them the best of luck on Saturday night. I'm going to be packing to head out for the grandchildren's the next day.

But no matter what they do or don't do on RITA night, I'll always love having spent time with them, following them around, and helping them get to their happily ever after.

It's a Presents with an M&B cover in the RITA version. The only version I had at the time of the contest.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mom Camp III

Here we are at Mom Camp.

Well, not this pic. This is the grandkids -- and several hundred kids all at the same camp. But because they are, we have Mom Camp for the third year running.

It's the week my daughter and I look forward to all year, when her daughter and whichever cousins are the right age (only one this year) go to our local university sports camp from 8:30 in the morning until 9:30 in the evening and she and I get to enjoy each other's company.

This year Mom Camp has taken a slightly different spin because our side-kick and honorary member, my cousin's 16 year old daughter, isn't here to join us. She thought the Naval Academy at Annapolis was a better alternative. Some people really have no idea about what constitutes A Good Thing.

So it's just been the two of us -- and she had to give a final and do some preparation for fall classes, and I finally have my revision letter. So the mornings at Mom Camp are filled with WORK (and occasional breaks for tea and the Tour de France).

The afternoons, however, we've been doing fun stuff -- and napping. As a rule I don't nap. It usually makes me feel worse than I felt simply tired. But I've been fading in the afternoons so far this week, so I haven't fought it off or 'played through' it.

Last year, you may remember that we had a crisis on the first day of sports camp when the elder child knocked out his teeth. This year -- so far -- no one has done anything untoward. At least no one we're related to.

But the week is early yet. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

Hard to type that way, but I feel it's safer.

The revision letter was very useful. I'm blessed with an editor who has both a grasp of what the book needs and what I do well. And she's probably the only editor for Presents who has ever told ME to make my hero nicer.


Hard to imagine. McAllister heroes ARE nice. They could hardly be nicer.

And yet, I understand what she's saying. When they brood they can get surly and annoying -- and she wants Demetrios to stop being quite so surly.

No problem. I can do that. It's the surly bit that I have trouble with (maybe that's why it didn't work).

I'm very glad she knows what I can do -- what my voice requires -- and encourages me to do it. Don't know how much of it I'm going to be able to finish this week, but if I don't get it all done (and that doesn't seem likely), it will come along with me on our trip west.

I wish I could leave it here for Mitch and Micah and the dogsitters who are living with them, but I can't expect them to do revisions for me, too.

People are beginning to gather in Washington, DC for the RWA National conference. I've had emails from a couple of friends who've arrived today and spoke with Anne Gracie who is in New York visiting her editor and agent before the conference. I envy them the trip, but I have plans of my own for NYC coming up in the autumn.

But more about that later. In the meantime, I'm off to revise chapter three.

Happy Anniversary to Kate Walker and Mr Kate Walker who are, even as I write this, winging their way to Washington. Hope you and the mister enjoy the conference, Kate.

If you were at RNA, did you have a good time? What was the best part? If you're on your way to RWA, I don't expect you'll have time to comment, but I'd love to hear from you about the conference and what you learned.

Don't forget, if you haven't entered Sol's contest, you have until July 16th to do so. Send entries from the contest webpage, please.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Conferences Galore

This week is 'conference week' for romance writers.

The Romance Novelists Association, based in Great Britain, is holding their annual conference at the University of Cumbria in Penrith beginning today and ending Sunday.

I had the pleasure of attending in 2003 when the RNA conference was held in Guildford, and got to be "the expert from afar" which was an interesting and novel experience. I spoke on the differences in the British and American romance markets, which in my estimation depended largely on the romantic fantasies held by each nation's readers.

Preparing that talk really made me stop and think about why certain wonderful, well-written books that are hugely popular on one side of the pond elicit barely more than a ho-hum on the other.

Besides doing that, I got to listen to lectures and panel discussions by many of the UK's most interesting romance novelists and editors, learning from them in a relatively small group (compared to RWA), university setting. It was wonderful.

I know my editor is there this weekend because she said she hadn't had time yet to read Demetrios because of preparing for her RNA commitments.

I hope she's not so exhausted from the conference that when she finally gets to him he doesn't put her to sleep!

If RNA isn't enough, later this coming week the Romance Writers of America are holding their annual conference in Washington, DC. The RWA conference, unlike the RNA conference, is generally a mad house with, literally, thousands of attendees. It's a great place to network, to meet old friends, make new ones, and learn from some of the brightest and best speakers in our business. It's also exhausting.

I love going to RWA, and I would be there this year -- even wearing pantyhose -- because I love it and because PJ and Ally's book, Antonides' Forbidden Wife, is a finalist for the RITA. But The Prof and I had already made plans to go see the new grandsons before PJ did his 'finalist' thing. And I'm sure he will carry on perfectly well without me.

RITA nominees do that. You can't control anything about them. They are a blessing when you receive them. Whoever wins is indeed fortunate. And to me it's always been totally unpredictable.

In 2000 I had two nominees for the RITA in the same category, The Stardust Cowboy and Gibson's Girl. I figured they would cancel each other out.

I was wrong. The Stardust Cowboy won the RITA -- and it was the second best thing that happened to me that day, because an hour later my daughter gave birth to our first granddaughter!

I thought it was positively spooky to have a book up for the honor this year and have another grandchild due at the same time.

Fortunately Sol took things into his own hands and made sure he was already on the scene.

I am thinking of all my writer and editor friends at the conferences this week and hoping they're having a great time. I'm sorry I'm going to miss seeing them. I'm sorry I'll miss the buzz of excitement that comes when so many of us get together. I might even miss the exhaustion afterwards.

But I'll have the grandkids to dote on -- and some DVDs of a physics course that I've been watching so I can get to grips with George.

Do you go to RWA or RNA or local writing conferences? Do you write books? Or read them? If you read a lot of romance, have you ever been to one of the RT conferences? I haven't. Tell me about it.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sol's Contest

As Henry had a contest to celebrate his arrival 10 weeks ago, it is only fair that Sol has his own contest now.

He was due on the 4th of July, so the contest officially begins then. But if you jump the gun (as Sol did) and enter early, that's okay with me (and Sol).

His contest is a short one because we've got lots of stuff going on mid-month (other grandkids coming for summer camp) and then we're going to be getting ready to go visit Sol himself and (this is the traumatic part) cleaning the house to get it ready for friends who are coming to stay here while we are gone.

So . . . if you want to win the "Welcome Sol" Goody Box, go to the contest page and answer the two questions you need to answer.
  1. Which book of mine is up for the RITA award this year?
  2. Which two books of mine have won the RITA previously?

The answers aren't hard to find. They're on my website. One of them is on the blog as well.

Send me an email from the link there with the answers and put "Welcome Sol" in the subject line so I'll know it's a contest entry.

The winner -- drawn by Mitch and Micah because Sol is too little to choose himself -- will be drawn after midnight July 17 and will be posted as soon as my webmistress can manage it on the contest page. I'll also announce it here.

The winner gets a Goody Box of:
  • books (a couple of mine, a couple of my friends', some just really good books I'll be talking about in the next couple of weeks including a great historical trilogy by Joanna Maitland, a new book by Carla Kelly and, well, wait and see!),
  • some chocolate (no contests without chocolate),
  • other good nibbly things,
  • a stuffed frog or a stuffed dog (I'll let Sol's parents choose),
  • and some other things I have yet to figure out.
Stay tuned for details. But stop by the contest page, answer the questions, and send me your entry.

Feel free to say welcome to Sol and hi to Mitch and Micah while you're at it.

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