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.
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. 🙂