I wavered for a while, on whether to do a book trailer or not. Let’s face it: a book trailer is not the most effective means of promoting a book. (Although, what is?) But in the end, I decided to go for it and I’m really glad I did.

Because HIS AT NIGHT went through such repeated and arduous rewrites after it had been copy edited, I decided to hire an outside copy editor myself, just for quality assurance. Tiffany Yates, a professional freelance copy editor who has worked with many of the New York publishing houses who also happens to be a member of my local RWA chapter, proved a totally awesome choice.

Her queries, suggestions, and story advice were spot on. Which meant, by the time final galleys came, and changes had to be handwritten in the margins, I made if not substantial then at least noticeable changes to the manuscript. It killed me. I find final galleys nerve-wracking as such, to make so many changes–every page almost–oh, Lord have mercy.

In the months after that, I wanted nothing to do with the book. Even when I was at the RT Convention admiring the finished copies, I still couldn’t bear to crack the book open. Beth Kery, whom I met through Julie James, suggested that I was having mini-PTSD flashbacks. And she was right.

But since making the book trailer required consulting the manuscript, last Monday I flipped open HIS AT NIGHT at about a few chapters in. I began with a lot of trepidation, but soon I started enjoying myself. With just the usual breaks to pick up Junior Kidlet and hold him captive until homework is done, I read the book all the way through to the end that same day.

Phew. What a relief. End of mini-PTSD.

And here, without further ado, the book trailer:

So…About His at Night II

Now that the page proofs are on back in New York–meaning no more tinkering, ever–I’ve finally posted a full excerpt of His at Night.

(Funny how prescient I was.  Everything that came after what I dared to post earlier changed.)

A quick glance at the excerpt is quite enough to illustrate the difference between this new book and my entire backlist.  All three of my already published books immediately set up the relationship: Private Arrangements plunges into a description of the perfect marriage of the Tremaines; Delicious says in the first line that it is a Cinderella story; and Not Quite a Husband opens on the night Bryony decides to seek an annulment.

By the end of the 2,500-word excerpt of His at Night, the H/H haven’t met yet–and wouldn’t for another 4000 words.  Phew, all that to just set up a meeting.  Yep, no reunited lovers in this story, no past to draw on for instant conflict, no shared history to exploit for poignancy and heartache, just two strangers who’d never clad eyes on each other before.

So that’s one huge difference.  Another is that this book was originally intended to be a comedy.  In fact, when my agent read the proposal–nothing of which has translated to the finished product, by the way–she thought it was a farce.  (After months of bawling my eyes out writing Not Quite a Husband, I was totally ready for teh funneh.)

At one point, I even openly declared that I was writing a Loretta Chase book, Mr. Impossible, to be specific, which I’d thoroughly enjoyed.  Mr. Impossible has a hero who is mistakenly thought by the heroine to be a dumb lummox at the beginning of the book.  His at Night has a hero who is mistakenly thought by the heroine to be a dumb lummox at the beginning of the book, ergo I must be writing Mr. Impossible.

As it turns out, I might have written the anti-Mr. Impossible.  Rupert, the titular Mr. Impossible, is about the most irrepressible, sunny, forthright fellow you can hope to meet in Romancedom.  Vere from His at Night is just the opposite, repressed, secretive, and, gulp, damaged.  I’ve never done a damaged hero before–wounded, yes, but not damaged.  Camden from PA and Leo from NQAH wouldn’t have a single problem if it weren’t for their women.  Even Stuart from Delicious, who’s had a rough childhood, is completely normal. But Vere, Vere is effed up.

So a romp this ain’t.  And although I think it is screamingly funny at times–a dangerous statement as nothing is more subjective than humor–it is also possibly the darkest book I’ve written.  A romantic dramedy, I guess, with a side of suspense.

Let me see.  What else is there in His at Night that I don’t normally do?  I know, a virgin.  Oh boy, this book hits all the possible highlights of a historical romance: a lordship who’s a secret agent, a virgin, a forced marriage, and an evil uncle.  We are only missing a duke–Vere is a marquess instead–and a ball.

And this has been a post in reader expectation management.  Thank you.  🙂

Ye odds and ye ends

I’ve been going through an Oscar Wilde phase, which has led me to some intriguing primary sources, all of them fierce Victorian debates about interior design. What with Ruskin and Morris et al convinced that beautiful architecture and interiors made for serene and beautiful minds, designing and furnishing one’s home was A Very Serious Business in the 1880s and 1890s. I am instructed by said texts that it is crucial to have a central focal point for a room — a painting or an object d’art (preferably Japanesque) to orient one’s attention and soothe one’s aggrieved sensibilities and draw the whole room into perfect accord.

With this in mind, I must admit that this blog post is officially Aesthetically Unsound. There is no unitary theme or accord to it; it is drawn from the drawer in my brain filled with random, rattling shiny bits. I suggest you gird yourself for the five-and-dime experience by spending a moment gazing upon this authentically Aesthetic objet.

Beautiful, no?

All right, on to the glitter: awesome sisters, book trailers, and bad music.

Read more

Just for LOLZ

I couldn’t resist. I could not. Once I saw that the site existed and I could make a three-D video just by typing, well, I couldn’t resist.

I think I went where no romance writer has ever gone. But that’s very likely because I am the frog at the bottom of the well who doesn’t know what’s going on in the big, wide world. So if there are other romance trailers made this way, please let me know. (I still think I must be among the first five, if not the first.) 🙂

So here it is, a talking trailer for NOT QUITE A HUSBAND.

P.S. And I just learned this myself. Click on the little triangle at the bottom right corner of the youtube video. And then click on the little tab that pops up. It will recede the video and reveal both its url and its embed code.

I have it, but what do I do with it?

Typically, I make a book trailer at the very last minute, a week before the book hits the shelves or something like that. Until I learned that for Borders to use your book trailer (a pretty big if), it has to be ready a good two months before the book’s release.

So I went ahead and did it early this time.

Okay, I have it. And it is a very pretty trailer. But what do I do with it?

The ideal thing would be to build an online publicity campaign around it. But I don’t really know how willing people are to host YouTube videos on their blogs, etc. Is it doable? What kind of prize should I hand out? Am leaning toward cash prizes, like prepaid visa cards or some such, but how much and how many?

Also, how do I publicize such a contest? If I just let people know about it on my blog, website, social group sites, etc, would it be enough? Or should I promise an e-reader to get Dear Author’s attention, the way Kresley Cole did?

And what about widgets? I’ve seen promotional campaigns built around widgets here and there. Have you done one or participated in one or run into one surfing around? Do you think widgets work?

I’d love to know.

Look What the Husband Brought Home

After hosting the inimitable Bettie Sharpe Friday night, I was still in bed Saturday morning when His Hawtness, the spouse, came back home with an impromptu present for me. He’d been jogging in the neighborhood and came across a garage sale. And for $2, he bought me this:

Which opened up into this little marvel:

I oohed and aahed. It was the cutest thing. And then I said to His Hawtness, “Hey, you know what I could use this for? As background to make a book trailer for DELICIOUS!”

“Why do you think I got it for you?” replied His Hawtness.

I’d been half-heartedly thinking of a DELICIOUS trailer for a while, just so that darling book wouldn’t feel less loved than PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. (And it’s not, if anything I love it more.) But I was all publicity’ed out, there’s no evidence that book trailers sell books, and I couldn’t think of a scene in DELICIOUS that would easily turned into a script.

But the dollhouse got me started.

In the end, I didn’t photograph the dollhouse. The little paper dolls that came with the dollhouse were either unsuitable or damaged. My own paperdolls were too big in proportion. Bettie Sharpe and her husband gave many helpful suggestions on how I could accomplish it as a simple bit of computer-generated graphics by merging a shrunk-down paperdoll into a digital background in Photoshop. But I was not quite in the mood for doing battle with Photoshop–and it would have been a battle, given my general ineptitude around both graphics and sophisticated software.

But I did make a trailer, a simple, barebones teaser.

And His Hawtness still gets credit for inspiring me, because without his lovely present, it would never have happened. Thank you, sweetie.

Directed by Sherry Thomas

The book trailer for Private Arrangements is up at YouTube.

And it actually tells the beginning of the story, a condensed version of the first scene of confrontation, just beyond what is in the excerpt.

Gratitude and acknowledgments go out to Jane of Dear Author, whose ROTFL video reviews for The Courtesan’s Daughter by Claudia Dain inspired me to make one for myself; to Diana Holquist, for her timely article, “The Down and Dirty Guide to Making Your Own Book Promo Videos” in the February issue of the Romance Writer’s Report, which provided very helpful resources; and to the wizards behind Windows Movie Maker, the easiest, most intuitive software I have ever come across.

I had tons of fun making this. I think I’m in the wrong line of work. Writing books makes me tired and haggardly, this makes me feel so young and hip. 🙂

Hope you enjoy.