New Jersey, New Jersey

So I went to New Jersey for the Put Your Heart in a Book conference.

I did my packing over several days and remembered a lot of things that I might otherwise have forgotten, had I packed in a hurry.  As usual, however, I forgot my hairbrush.  But not to worry, you can’t tell the difference–which was why I demoted hairbrushes from friends to nodding acquaintances in the first place.  🙂

Another thing I forgot was a pretty basket to display all the promo goodies I’d taken to NJ.  I took a look around the hotel room and pressed into service the lovely black box used to hold paper coffee cups, coffee pouches, teabags, sugar packets and such.  It was perfect.  I might never bother taking a basket with me again.  🙂

But you are here to read about Meredith.  So allow me to report that yes, she is alive and well–and looking awfully cute in a cowhide-print dress and red boots.  Chic with a touch of bohemian quirk.  (My conference attire, on the other hand, swing from twee to tarty and back, with very little in between.)

She is very close to finishing her next book–due out in July 2011.  The book is going to have a marriage of convenience theme and a heroine who knows her way around salty language, both of which I love.  Alas, I did not get a chance to read the manuscript, but I did get to fondle  the lucky Alpha Smart that will birth the next Meredith Duran masterpiece.

Meredith gave her very first romance writing workshop at the conference, on using backstory to shape what a character fears, and then having those deep-seated fears drive the story forward.  It was brilliant and profoundly insightful.

I give an occasional workshop on evoking emotions which advises entering a character via their deepest, darkest pain.

Fear and pain, two sides of the same coin, wouldn’t you say?  Little wonder Meredith and I see eye-to-eye on so many things.

(But as exceptional as Meredith’s workshop was, I’m afraid I am going to have to hand the best-in-show award to the one given by the one and only Anne Stuart.  I am never going to write a hero dark enough to rival Anne’s renowned antiheroes, but I went to her How to Write the Dark Romance workshop just to be nearer her barbed halo.

Anne Stuart

Okay, I went because I was curious as to just how fun and fearless she could be.  I left a squealing fangirl of her sheer awesomeness.  On my gravestone I want the epitaph: “There is only ever one Anne Stuart, but Sherry Thomas made herself into a pretty good fascimile.”

I only regret I didn’t invite myself up to her room to see the pig.)

And wouldn’t you know, Meredith promised that after she’s done with the current manuscript, she’s going to blog on a regular basis.  I can’t wait.  Meredith has one of the most immense and satisfying minds around.

Which was why I was saddened that she left the conference right after the book signing on Saturday.  But if her going home sooner is going to produce the next Meredith Duran oeuvre sooner, then I must do my part for romance and let her go.  🙂

Let’s see, what else?  If you have the chance, definitely attend the NJRWA conference.  It is run with wonderful vigor and efficiency.  Robyn Carr gave a great speech on her 30-years-in-the-making overnight success.  (We got to sit at conference chair Miriam Allenson’s table; she was on the opposite end of the table from us, but it was a thrill getting a special seating asignment!)  Virginia Kantra showed me the Roman woman strut–definitely ask her to tell you the story should you be lucky enough to run into her.  And the one and only Anne Stuart sat down next to me toward the end of the book signing and said, “I hear you write pretty racy books.”

Folks, at that  moment I’d have admitted to writing anything, least of all racy books!

And at the booksellers’ luncheon I met Stacey Agdern, who works at the bookstore at Grand Central Station.  I really can’t think of a cooler place on earth!  Here’s me, Stacey (r), and Kate Garrabrant (l), who is more familiarly known as Katiebabs around the romance blogosphere.

And this, just because it’s the next picture in my camera, the tableau Senior Kidlet arranged before the house.  The Great Pumpkin Pickaxe Massacre.  Pretty good way to salvage a destroyed jack-o-lantern, I say.  🙂

36 thoughts on “New Jersey, New Jersey

  1. It was great to have you and Meredith at NJRW!

    I bumped into Anne Stuart and Jenny Crusie as they walked off the elevator on Sunday morning and immediately asked after the pig. Alas, it was already in the car.

    Anne Stuart’s seminar was fantastic – but you and Meredith rocked the house too! Come back soon and don’t be a stranger to New Jersey!

  2. What is an Alpha Smart? After Meredith is done and the holidays are over, please tell her not to be such a stranger on her own blog 🙂
    Would love to know how her dig went.

    • An Alpha Smart is a writing gadget that shows six lines of text and runs on a few AA batteries. It reputedly has a 700-hour battery life. It is great for a writer, like Meredith, who might find herself in places where electricity is uncertain. And if you want to work on a machine that doesn’t do internet, it also has that.

      Meredith’s dig went down just fine. Full room of people and she was totally a pro. Surrounded by fans afterwards. 🙂

    • 3) Rarely. But it has been known to happen.

      4) I’m working on books 1 & 2 at the same time, alternating between them. One is a revenge gone wrong story, the second is about a pair who’s been married for eight years–and will finally consummate their marriage when the heroine turns 25–in six weeks. Revenge gone wrong is probably definitely going to be revenge gone wrong. The second one is liable to change.

  3. Once again, wish I could have been there. But since I was visiting my old hometown and seeing many friends, I can’t be too jealous, as much as I would have loved to see you both, and to hear your workshop and Meredith’s. Do they make recordings at this con?

  4. I wish I could have been there, but I am thrilled with the goodies I received from one of my friends who hit both of your tables. I love all the goodies she forwarded to me – signed books, bubble bath fizzies, shea butter – lots of great stuff! Thanks to both you and Meredith – I was jumping for joy to say the least! Will you come to the RWA in NY next June? I hope! Thanks again and I’m going to have to check out Anne Stuart now!

    • I will be in RWA in NY, no doubt about it. I won’t miss a chance to visit NYC.

      It’s funny because I very rarely perform proper indulging skincare stuff, but I love the concept of it. And am fascinated by homemade beauty treatments. Everything you got is made by yours truly. Am thinking of solid lotion bars next.

      P.S. I finally took a bath with my own bath fizzies a few days ago and it was so good. The coconut oil that I used as a binding make my skin baby soft.

  5. That pig is frightening, but The Great Pumpkin Pickaxe Massacre is great.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time in the Garden State. Let us know if there are podcasts or videos of the seminars (and were you the lovely assistant or did Meredith go solo?).

    The last time I packed I actually had a checklist. Did I write “debit card” on it? Why on earth would I need to?. Did I switch wallets and forget the debit card? Need you ask? I mooched off my cousin for three days and had the missing card sewn into the palm of my hand when I returned home.

  6. Hey Sherry! I wish I had more time to chat with you and Meredith at NJRAW. It was such a pleasure to talk with you. 🙂

    The picture of us came out nice!

  7. Okay, I’m catching up on the last two blog posts:
    1. Congrats again on the RITA win. I was the most happy for you of anyone. 🙂 Loved the scanned thank-you notes. I always wonder what the Oscar winner’s notes look like–are they typed by their assistant or look more like yours?

    2. San Diego?? Arrgh. Had I known, I would have bugged for a book signing. And I hope the public library with the ocean view was not the Encinitas public library because I will seriously cry–since we go there a couple times a week.

    3. Sad that there are no new releases from you next year 🙁 But three the next year? It makes me excited and scared all at the same time–I must be channeling your working vibes. Praying for your speedy writing.

    4. Have you ever considered getting a facebook author page? It’s a selfish request–I have a much easier time keeping up with blogs and releases when an author puts a blurb on facebook to check out their website when new things are posted. Sometimes I forget to check for new things and then get behind (as I did here 🙁

    Thanks for the updates!

    • 1. Mine was definitely typed by my assistant. 🙂

      2. It was Encinitas. I was there at least four times. Now I’m going to cry too. (But seriously, how cool is that hand dryer in the ladies washroom?)

      3. You are channeling exactly my working vibes. I can always write something but I can produce crap like nobody’s business. Scared of crap. Don’t want crap.

      4. I didn’t write about San Diego until I’d left San Diego so you didn’t get behind on anything. 🙂 And it is doubtful that I will get a facebook author page. There is something in me incapable of asking people to “fan” me.

      You are very welcome for the updates.

  8. Sounds like you guys had tons of fun! Good luck to both you and Meredith with your upcoming deadlines. I know that we are all excited to read some new material from both of you!

  9. So it *was* Encinitas–the most beautiful little library and the most beautiful view. I just knew it. I live about 10 minutes inland. When I was little, that library was about the size of the women’s bathroom, but they’ve really done it up nicely.

    My husband says it’s a good thing I didn’t know because I would have been all weird and stalkerish, begging for discarded pages etc. But I’m glad you had a nice trip here anyway. 🙂

    Crap will never be written by you–un-possible. But I worry for your health–take care of it!

    re:facebook–I get what you’re saying. I was going to suggest just having a regular page where you can have “friends” instead of “fans,” but that can lead to a pain in the neck as well (I hear.) I’ll just have to check up more regularly. 🙂

    • Hi Lisap,

      I actually do have a regular page on Facebook. It started as merely a means to keep track of the folks I’d met in grad school a while ago, but once my local RWA folks started friending me, the floodgate opened. I don’t really check it very often except to see that certain people are still alive and recently I’ve been taken to task by Kristan HIggins for not updating it at all. 🙂 Here’s the regular facebook page, if you are interested http://www.facebook.com/SherryThomas421

      And, lol, you can have my discarded pages any time. I keep discard files for each book. Sometimes they are bigger than the books themselves.

      • Thanks so much, Sherry! I sent you a request. I would also take you to task about updating your facebook page if I knew you personally, but I’m sure Kristan can handle that. 🙂 I’m a facebooker thanks to my kids (amazing what you can find out about them in writing), but I really like having everything on one page to keep updated on my friends and fave authors.

        Also, congrats on having two books in ARR’s top 100 for 2010. 🙂 Hard to believe HAN or Delicious didn’t make it in, but a couple of my other fave authors didn’t have any of their books make it in-sad.

  10. Wow, news about both books!

    Glad you both had a fabulous time!

    And I’m super glad I stopped by and now know there is something in the works for the takeover of the world(er.. I mean books)

    =D

  11. I am absolutely jealous of everyone who attended the NJRWA conference because I want to meet you in person! *g* Can’t wait to hear what Meredith has been up to–her voice is missed on the blog!

    • Meredith’s voice is very much missed on this blog!

      And the other day I dreamed–after reading some tweets by Maili/McVane, who is a fact-checker to put the fear of God into all historical writers–that you had done an annotated version of one of my books (Delicious, I think), where you’d pointed out all the mistakes! Aie!

  12. Sherry, it’s been awhile, unfortunately, since I visited your blog. And dang it, girl! You were in San Diego?! An hour from me! We could have had a cuppa. 🙂

    I love your pic of the Con, that Kate Garrabrant is a great lady! She writes for us under KT Grant and I so enjoy her.

    Please tell me you are coming to RT in LA? It wouldn’t as as much fun without you!

    And big, giant congrats on all the well-deserved awards. I can’t help but be happy that I found you before Delicious and have had the pleasure of reading all your incredible fiction since (that was my fan-girl moment).

    Happy New Year and hurry up and write those dang books,
    Heather 🙂

    • Hey Heather,

      Great to hear from you.

      Alas, I probably wouldn’t be going to RT in LA. April will be crunch time for me with two books due on June 1. If hubby were still in San Diego, that’d be one thing. But as of the moment, he’s firmly and comfortably re-established back in Austin.

      Have a wonderful 2011!

      Cheers,

      Sherry

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