German PA & Thai NQAH

And a brief coming-up-for-air update.

It was an overhaul again–HIS AT NIGHT, that is. One of those days I’d love to have only revisions but so far it’s been overhaul after overhaul. It’s still not finished yet, but it’s getting there and of course it was worth it.

Heard briefly from my fellow blogger Meredith at the end of October. She is superbusy in India but will hopefully be able to breathe easier soon. We miss you, Meredith.

And now onto the covers. 🙂

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No Rest for the Deadline-Addled

It’s been a week since I turned in a pseudo-complete draft of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND and I feel completely out of breath. I’ve been running around the house trying to put some organization into our sadly disorganized existence, in front of the computer replying to all the accumulated emails, updating my website, and making a Xmas newsletter, and doing the usual mommy stuff, including freezing my rear off on the coldest day of this season–so far–helping out at the junior kidlet’s school trip.

And after a whole week of rushing about (okay, there was a day of writing in my contemp romp and a half-day of frowning over the next historical project), I look around and these are the things I have not done:

1)Send Christmas presents to agent and editor
2)Read either of the manuscripts I promised I’d read for possibly blurbing
3)Sort and shred the mountain of statements that have been accumulating since I was still in grad school
4)Put up our paltry few strings of Xmas lights, b/c junior kidlet delights in them
5)Laundry (His Hawtness dealt with the previous load, and since I’m not currently on deadline, I feel like I should do more.)

Boy, more and more I’m beginning to think people love historical romance for the abundance of servants! And maybe they read Harry Potter for the house elves. 🙂

Before I rush off to fight the neverending War on Dirty Clothes, let me point you to RT’s website, where you’ll find the video interview I did with the awesome Morgan Doremus during RWA San Francisco. You can also see the videos here and here.

I was rather wondering about the timing of the videos being featured on RT. Morgan Doremus had told me that usually they’d haul out the clips when there’s some news about me or my book. And then Meredith Duran told me that PA has been nominated for a RT Best Historical Debut award. I haven’t seen it posted anywhere so I’m going to have to trust that Meredith wasn’t just having fun with me. 🙂

Okay, off to the seasonal frenzy again.

Dec 10 Update: Sent presents. Put up lights. And did laundry. 🙂


The Smart Bitches happen to link to an article in Publishers Weekly on the clinch cover. And the verdict is, the clinch is here to stay.

One particular quote from Sue Grimshaw, Borders’ romance buyer, struck me. “A tastefully done clinch is a must-have for debut authors,” said Ms. Grimshaw, which is more or less what she said when she had breakfast at RWA SF with a few of us Bantam authors.

So now my wonderful publisher is giving me the must-have clinch covers for debut authors. Bantam will reissue DELICIOUS and PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS with new covers to coincide with the release of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND. And here, without further introduction, are the preliminary versions of the new covers.

I do love the background on this. There is something very fairy tale-ish about it. I am not crazy about the mantitty–I’m never crazy about mantitty to start with, and this one is bigger than mine. So…wish he had some clothes on. But chest is de rigueur so I’ll go with what sells.

Now this is much more my thing. Love the pose. Love the dress. Love the presence of the man without the actual mantitty. I’m, however, slightly torn about the color. On the one hand, I personally love it. On the other hand, there is something slightly poison apple-ish about it and rather startled the spouse when he looked at the high-def image. But there are certain colors that don’t translate as well in jpeg and I trust Bantam to get it just right in print.

The Little Book That Could

This news is actually two days old, but I’m still going to consider it news. PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS made Publishers Weekly‘s Best of the Year list! It is one of the five books picked for the Mass Market category. Also on the list is my Levy Tour compadre Jordan Dane whose book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM actually came out on the same day as PA. Congratulations, Jordan.

It’s been years since I read PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. And recently, during an online chat, when asked my favorite character of mine–Gigi’s mother from PA–I misspelled her name. 🙂 So getting on the PW list has been fun and sweet rather than rolling-on-the-floor thrilling, like watching a childhood friend succeed from afar.

Now back to work on NOT QUITE A HUSBAND, which is, of course, going to be my best book EVA! 🙂

Pancake from Heaven and Sherry Thomas the Grand Romantic

Part I: The Pancake

Actually, not a pancake, but a xian bing, or, as people from my part of China would say, xiar bing.

Those round golden disks on the very right of the image, those are xian bing–or at least they look that way to me–elastics ball of dough stuffed with some sort of cheap veggie and a bit of ground pork, then deep fried and served hot. So yum and so hard to find in the States.

The expression “a big xian bing from heaven” is probably somewhat analogous to “manna from heaven,” but much more practical, like if a relative you didn’t even know you had gifts you with a brand new Wii, or if Sybil from The Good, the Bad, the Unread emails you out of the blue, while you are trying to decide whether your hero should see this big old cabbage flower carpet on the floor of the servants’ hall. The servants were having themselves an annual ball, you see, so wouldn’t it make sense for the carpet to have been rolled up and put out of the way for the evening?

Begins bad re-enactment

Sybil: You around?
You: Yeah, what up?
Sybil: I’s been working hard for you.
You: Oh yeah? What have you done for me lately?
Sybil: Need a quote? I have been told to send this to you and if you have need of it feel free to use it in any way you like…

“Sherry Thomas is the most powerfully original historical romance author writing today. She is a rebel, a rule-breaker, and above all, a romantic. Searing, tender and filled with passion, her writing is nothing short of a revelation. ‘Private Arrangements’ clearly heralds the beginning of a dazzling career, and I am looking forward to more brilliantly told romances from this accomplished writer.”

You: (Look around for your glasses to make sure you are reading right)
Sybil:Oh wanna know who the quote is from? Lisa Kleypas!
You: Holy Batman! (Brain melts)

End of bad re-enactment

See what I mean about a big xian bing from heaven? One moment I was thinking about nineteenth century carpet, and the next, I had a quote from Lisa Kleypas.

Much gratitude goes to Sybil, for finding a copy of Private Arrangements to give to Lisa, when the latter was signing Blue-Eyed Devil in Houston. To Lawson, Sybil’s lovely henchwoman, for paying for that copy when Sybil went to look for her phone. And to Lisa, who is much, much too kind. Really, ladies, none of you needed to go to such trouble.

(But I’m so grateful that you did.)

Part II: The Romantic

I don’t know what strikes you about Lisa’s quote (other than how many years I must have promised to clean her house for free). I’ll tell you what had my heart thud.

Not the extravagant praises. They thrill me, but I have trouble reading extravagant praises. It is as if some part of my upbringing automatically kicks in and would not let me believe too much in it. (A very good thing, in a way, for writers get reader reaction only on books they’d already finished writing. To luxuriate too much in favorable opinions of a work finished months, if not years ago would be like a woman forever reliving a past soiree at which, for that one night, she looked smashing hot.)

Rather, what made me feel elated and exposed and a bit vulnerable was when Lisa called me a romantic–as if some Duke of Hawtness had whispered in my ear as we were waltzing around the the ballroom, me in my big Scarlett O’hara crinoline, that he knew I didn’t have any drawers on and he liked it.

I guess I’m what you’d call a closet romantic. A cynics’ romantic. For I am most certainly a cynic: I think the world is a brutal vale of tears; I’m not entirely sure intelligent life is in any way superior to trees and sea cucumbers; and I’m almost certain that love is the greatest stupid-pill of all time.

And yet despite my cynicism, or perhaps precisely because of it, I am moved beyond words by kindness, wisdom, and love. A clear blue sky is enough to fill me with hope. And every day that the world lugs on–stupidity, violence, and grief in tow–is another day of blue sky somewhere, another day of courage, compassion, and love somewhere and everywhere.

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.

Pay-it-forward Contest: Query Consultation

The Fine Print:

  • Nobody ever sold a novel on a query letter. (Yeah, I know somebody must have somewhere, but most of us don’t get struck by lightning.)
  • Since I could write a seductive query letter long before I could write a book worth reading, I always encourage people to obsess more about their manuscripts than their query letters.
  • A query letter need not be perfect, only effective.
  • However, in the process of crafting an effective query letter, we might hit on certain major deficiencies in your manuscript. For example, if we can’t synthesize a good hook, it might mean you do not have good hook for us to synthesize.
  • Eventual success on any level not guaranteed.

Okay, that said, a query letter is important. I hereby offer a snark-free e-mail consultation. You must have a query letter already written for me to critique–I won’t write it from scratch. I don’t need to read your manuscript or even a partial to help you, but chances are I will need you to fill out a questionnaire after I’m done reading your query letter to help me hone in on the set-up and the conflict.

If you only have half a book, but want to enter in the hope that you might be able to use a consultation later, that’s fine with me. Just be aware that right now I have a bit of time, later I might be on deadline again.

Notice: I don’t go easy on my critiques. Sometimes it’s important to hear that you are doing fine. Other times it’s more important to get it right.

This contest runs until March 25.

Totally unrelated but have to share: I just got an awesome review from The Romance Reader, one of the most venerable romance review sites around. I think my jaw is still bouncing around on my kitchen floor somewhere. Get this, Camden, my male protagonist from Private Arrangements is said to rank “right up there with Jamie Fraser as a hero for the ages.” I don’t know about you, but for me that was a “Holy @#$%!” moment. Jamie Fraser? Holy @#$%!

ETA: Let me know in the comments if you are interested in the query consultation. One victim winner drawn on the 25th.

My very own Desert Isle Keeper

I was at AllAboutRomance this afternoon doing my usual drive-by review reading. And then I had to blink and look at my screen again. It’s still five weeks before PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS’s street date, but AAR’s review is online.

Now when I go to RWA nationals next time, I’ll get to wear one of those “I’ve been DIK’ed by AAR” pins that I so coveted in Dallas.

This is a true milestone. I’ve been reading AAR since the previous century–indeed, the previous millenium. 🙂 And I have waited a long time for one of my own books to join that venerated desert isle. My grade is an A-, rather than an outright A. But oh well, next time.

In other news, the excerpt of DELICIOUS is up at last.

I know I’m on hiatus, but…

Update 7-11-07: My editor tells me that ARCs should be in the goody room some time today. I would imagine later in the afternoon.

This has been a very exciting couple of days. While I’ve been buried deep under the inscrutabilities of consolidated financial statements and the mysteries of Access databases, all the while trying to keep my hair from spontaneously combusting, Caitlin Alexander, my wonder-editor at Bantam, has totally been on top of things in getting ARCs of my first novel into production. Today I got the covers (front and stepback) for the ARCs Bantam would print for distributing at RWA National.

They are totally SQUEE-worthy!

Not only are they such beautiful covers, but these beautiful covers contain very generous blurbs from Mary Balogh and Jane Feather!

(Right, forgot to tell you guys that SCHEMES OF LOVE is now called PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS.)

I’m thrilled to share this day with you. And I hope that very soon I will be able to share in your pleasure and delight as your publishing dreams come true, too.