The what, you ask? Oh, that. But that was ages ago, you say. Well, last year I wrote a post called “Summer Omnibus Update” in October. Seasonality is not my best trait.
You can’t really see me but if you set your audio to maximum, you can hear the speech pretty well.
See, you don’t need to speak English all that well to write okay in it. (A long time ago, Bettie Sharpe confessed that before she first heard me, she’d imagined I spoke with a smoky voice, kind of like an expat in a French cafe. Darn it. I think I should too.)
My gratitude goes to my RWA roommie Kristyne Raley, for taking the video and then transferring it to a USB stick for me. (Btw, Kristyne, your USB stick is so fancy it took me a minute to realize it has two ends! Hmm, did I just reveal again how much of a Luddite I am?)
Since we are it, a couple more foreign covers. Up first, Slovene HIS AT NIGHT. The cover model is awfully pretty, but I’d always pictured Elissande a bit fuller–both in the face and in the bosom.
And now, the upcoming German reissue of PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. From what I understand, Cora Verlag (Harlequin Germany) first distributes their titles to train stations and other such convenience spots. And then later a book might get repackaged for the bookstores. So here is the repackaging and I’m very excited to have my first leads-lying-down-together cover.
Caution: Long blog post coming up. Image-heavy too. And I apologize in advance for my camera’s totally inaccurate time stamps.
Everywhere I look, I see authors with other artistic talents. They can paint, draw, sew, knit, quilt, garden, graphic design, compose, play instruments, and whatnot. I play casual games and have nothing to show for it. (Well, lots of good memories with the kidlets but His Hawtness and I debate on whether that constitute as quality time. I say yes. *g*)
But ever since the shea butter episode, I’ve developed an obsession with hand-making beauty products. Not for myself, but as promo items. For RWA Orlando I did bath bombs. Facial scrubs for New Jersey RWA’s conference and RT Los Angeles. In between I also made solid lotion bars as belated Christmas presents.
By the beginning of the year I’d already decided to make lip butters for RWA. I’d really, really hoped that by June I’d have a cover for the first book in my 2012 trilogy, but since the release is still 11 months out, no. All the same, my enthusiasm remained undimmed. I love giving away good swag. I love doing repetitive chores, especially fresh from deadlines.
Here’s the lip butter chronicle, for Janine especially, starting with empty jars.
What? Summer was over a while ago? Well, then you know how long I’ve been meaning to write this post–as in seriously, I must write it today, come hell or high water. Guess I can now compliment myself on being immune to both hell and high water.
So let’s see, what all happened since I last posted.
It’s always fun to attend a RWA conference. But the highlight of my conference, without a doubt, was this:
But below, in no particular order, are the highlights of my trip.
1) The Woodley Park Zoo metro stop. The escalator coming out of the metro stop is the longest and steepest escalator I’ve ever seen. Going up for the first time, I had the distinct sensation that the man some ten, twelve steps higher up was hanging on for dear life directly above me. It was dizzying, but in the best way.
2) The digital publishing experts. I think I’d met both Angela James of Samhain Publishing and Kassia Krozser of Book Square and Quartet Press before–Kassia owns a very cool Barbara Cartland romance board game, if I remember correctly from RWA 2008 in San Francisco–but I didn’t really have a chance to speak with either. This time I did. And it was informative and eye-opening and most reassuring, to know that the wild, wild frontier of digital publishing is manned by cool, calm, in-charge women who know exactly what they are doing.
RWA National Conference is upon us again! Meredith and I will be there, not with bells on exactly, but with enough wide-eyed eagerness that you can’t really see our deadline-induced raggedness underneath.
We will both be signing at the Literacy Autographing, which is open to the public.
I was reading Joanna Bourne’s blog a while back and Jo, much better prepared than either Meredith or I, had custom bookplates printed ahead of time so that she could give them to readers who already had her books at home. And I thought, what a great idea. I emailed Jo and asked her about it, she very kindly emailed me back with step-by-step instruction on how to obtain similar bookplates. Alas, then I asked the crucial question: How long would it take?
Well, there just wasn’t enough time. So I abandoned the idea for a while. But then I since I regularly make bookplates from mailing labels–not very pretty ones by the way, just functional–I thought, oh, what the heck, let me give it a try at home.
So for Meredith, I took the masthead from her website and shrank it down to fit a 1″ x 2 5/8″ label.
In order to save my whole village. Heck, a whole cluster of villages. Because I have no other explanation for my good luck.
I had a wonderful time at the RWA National Conference in Dallas.
Tuesday night was the occasion of a great dinner meeting with Kristin Nelson, my agent. Then Wednesday was the event that should go down in conference history as the most enviable four hours ever: Kristin took a bunch of us lucky gals to the spa, and not just any spa, the fourth best spa in the whole of the U.S. of A. I had the best facial of my entire life. All my pores disappeared, completely. Completely. Can you beat that?
After the spa was the Bookseller’s Tea. Booksellers are to published authors what editors and agents are to pre-published authors–the Holy Grail. There was the big old ballroom, and likely a 15-to-1 ratio of authors to booksellers. It was like Almack’s, full of hopeful debutantes eyeing the few titled, rich prospects, dreaming of an introduction and a dance. And the Duke of Eligibility was, of course, Sue Grimshaw of Borders, who, along with the Marquis of Desirability, Tina Trevaskis (also of Borders), were pinned to a corner the whole of the reception by a mob of us eager authors dying to impress them with our saleability. They were both beyond gracious.
I’d briefly met Sara Megibow, Kristin’s assistant, at the spa. Sara’s photo, if you’ve ever come across it on Kristin’s website, does not do her justice. She is Adorable. After the bookseller’s event I saw her again, and her Adorable son, and her Adorable husband, who described her hair as having copper flecks when the light strikes it. Can you top that in a man? He just proved wrong every naysayer who said men don’t notice such things. I think they are the most adorable family I’ve ever met.
That evening I went to a cocktail party hosted by superpublicist Nancy Berland. Almost as soon as I walked into the door, I met someone who had an ARC of my book. I’d been to the goody room only 45 min before, and it hadn’t arrived yet, so it was very exciting to see that the copies did get there. The lady who had my ARC then proceeded to ask me to sign it for her mother, which I gladly did. My first signing ever. And guess who the lady was? Faygie Levy, the editor-in-chief of Romantic Times. You can’t beat that for a good omen. I think I must have willingly sacrificed myself to not one, but a whole horde of gorgeous, domineering conquerors, and saved cities, instead of mere villages.
Midway through the party, I was sitting alone at a table, munching thoughtfully–I semi-suck at mingling but never have trouble eating. Someone asked me if she could join me. Her badge said she was a librarian. I love libraries and librarians, so I told her of course she could join me. Only after she sat down did I realize she was RWA’s Librarian of the Year. We went on to have a wonderful conversation about books we love, so wonderful that I didn’t even once look at the Dallas panorama behind me (we were up high in the Reunion Tower).
On my way down the Tower that evening, Nora Roberts and a bunch of her friends came into the elevator. She stood next to me for 200 feet down and I silently basked in her glow. There’s no need to talk to La Nora. She just is. And I just bask.
Thursday I met Jane from DearAuthor for lunch. Jane is gorgeous. I mean, the woman made partner at her law firm when she was 28, runs one of the most influential romance blogs in her spare time–all that, and did I mention she is beautiful ? (I’m sorry but I believe I’ve said on this blog before that I’m shallow as a dinner plate.) The caliber of women that I’m fortunate enough to meet never fails to astonish me.
Thursday afternoon I had to do homework. You would think I’d resent the heck out of it: 2000 women having a good time at the bar (no workshops Thurs pm) and I was doing homework. But the truth was I rather enjoyed it. The homework was for a corporate taxation class, and I love tax classes. I just do. I don’t know why. Nerds write the hottest romances, yeah!
Friday I attended a rather august luncheon, with heavy hitters from Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, American Library Association, Borders, and Books-a-Million. And a whole bunch of bestseller authors–and me (I’m not sure how that came about either). Most everyone else was dressed business casual. I looked as if I was hoping to nab a beau at a garden party. So thank goodness for Linda Lael Miller, whose outfit was as colorful as sunrise over the Mediterranean.
Friday night was the cocktail reception hosted by Random House, my publisher, where it was great fun meeting Sandy Coleman and Anne Marble from All About Romance, which I’d been reading since at least 1998. Sandy and I reminisced over Susan Johnson’s earlier works. And we shared some fangirl love of Judith Ivory, who has unfortunately dropped off the face of the earth. I told her the story of how I always pounce on Steve Axelrod, Judith Ivory’s agent, whenever I see him, to ask about her. Alas for the rest of you Ivory lovers out of there, at least according to Mr. Axelrod, no releases for her this year. So much for the hopeful rumor that I’d heard.
After the cocktail party, a bunch of Bantam authors went out to dinner. I sat next to Shana Abe and Lara Adrian and we had a great time imagining ourselves living close by to Mr. Clooney on Lake Como. We would join the local council and be very active in the community and he would, of course, admire our public spirit and talent. And from time to time, he would bring over his good friend Mr. Pitt. And between Shana and Lara and me, we decided that we might just have boobs and lips enough to steal his attention away from Miss Jolie for a minute or so.
The big event for me, on Saturday, was the signing. So of course I would forget to change out of my sneakers (thank goodness for table skirts). I saw Sybil from The Good, the Bad, and the Unread helping setting up the tables. We’d met on Thursday. For some stupid reason I’d imagined her as middle-aged. But she, like Jane, turned out to be Young and Hawt. What’s with all the attractive bloggers taking over the world? So I helped her set up tables. And it wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized I was setting up tables not for Bantam, but St. Martin’s. But what the heck. We went on to set up another table or two for St. Martin’s.
And then, of course, just before the signing was about to start, I realized I’d forgotten both my camera and the huge box of 81 gel pens I’d bought for the signing. I’d been lusting after those pens for years, but told myself I couldn’t have such useless items unless I actually had a signing. Taking pity on me, the wonderful Sara Megibow went and fetched the pens from my room. They were a tremendous hit, especially the glitter gel pens in all colors of the rainbow.
What can I say about the signing? It was fabulous, the best signing of my life! Bantam had done a wonderful poster for each author, provided tons of books, and the attendees who lined up were all so nice to me. A huge contingent from my home chapter of Austin turned out to support me, as well as several readers of this blog–Bev, Maria, and Karmela, or did I meet Karmela some other spot in the hotel? Lovely to meet y’all!–plus the ladies from the Romance Divas, and one of the Head Bitches Herself, Candy from SB, who is–I repeat myself again–another young, hawt blogger taking over the world.
Sorry for the lack of photos. Leslie Langtry, one of Kristin’s authors, graciously lent her camera to take a picture of me at the but it might be a bit before I get hold of it.
So at this point I’m thinking that the conquerors to whom I’d sacrificed myself weren’t gorgeous at all. And I’d saved whole countries. Because good karma on this magnitude just doesn’t happen naturally. But I’m not quite at the end of my run of good luck yet.
It took me a while to unwind from the autographing. Then I went with my roomies, including the gorgeous and talented Catherine Avril Morris, out to dinner. Of course I overstuffed myself. And of course when I got back I had trouble getting into my Rita gown. I’d told Kristen Painter from Romance Divas I’d clap for her during the Golden Heart awards, so I wobbled down to the ballroom, very gingerly sat down, mindful of my dress’s likelihood of exploding from containing too much of me, and clapped (It was sooooo considerate of Kristen’s category to come up as soon as I sat down!) So five minutes later, I wobbled out of the ballroom, headed for the privacy of my room and the luxury of exiting from the very restrictive Rita gown.
The folks from RomanceNovel.tv were shooting interviews with Rita nominees outside the ballroom. Jane had pimped me to them earlier. They were just wrapping up. Guess who was helping them out? Sybil. I don’t think I’ve said it yet but Sybil is a tiger. An absolute tiger. She grabbed me, grabbed the RomanceNovel.tv folks, and got them to agree to interview me, a nobody whose book isn’t even coming out for another six, seven, or is it eight months?
I realized then that I had no makeup on, but what the hell. So there I was, in my naked face, standing next to the very tall and very elegant Sophia Nash, my kindly interviewer. And two minutes later it was done. Now the good folks from RomanceNovel.tv might feed the tape to the shredder when they get home, but it was certainly fun getting interviewed.
I must have single-handedly diverted a giant meteor from crashing into earth.
Okay, finally, the end of this long, rambling post is in sight. I think I’d written it down more for myself–so I don’t forget–than for anyone else. It was wonderful in Dallas and it is wonderful to be back home. Now I’d better get back to all the homework piled up. School ends on August 13. I’m going on a long-awaited vacation with my family shortly after that. Then I’ll come home and spend the rest of the kids’ summer vacation playing computer games with them. So expect regular posts to resume in early September.
And in honor of the new Harry Potter movie and the imminent arrival of Book 7, let me leave you with my favorite Harry Potter Youtube video–Ron and Hermione as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Enjoy.
"Bottom line: this is the best Historical of 2012. If you read one Historical this entire year, even if you eschewed Historical in favor of another genre, you have to read Tempting the Bride."
— The Season
"I knew by the end of chapter one, that this book would be one I would remember for a long time. In just that first chapter a well of emotion swelled up and closed the passage of my throat such that each subsequent page read triggered feeling."
— Dear Author
"Millie and Fitz’s marriage is one of the truest, most romantic, and most uplifting depictions I’ve read in a long, long time. And what can I say – Sherry Thomas rocks my world."--All About Romance
"I try to write balanced reviews, but sometimes I love a book so much that I feel as if I have to write with the brakes on to keep from overwhelming readers with my enthusiasm. That’s the way I felt writing this review. I highly recommend this book. And if I could say that with bands playing and flags flying to get your attention, I would."
— The Romance Dish
"Soul-searing, heartrending, and intensely romantic, this late Victorian historical takes the classic marriage-of-convenience theme to a refreshing new level."--Library Journal Starred Review
"I find myself saying “OMG, I can’t believe how good this is” with one
part of my brain while the rest of it is saying “shut up and keep reading.” Needless to say,
this is an A read for me."
— Dear Author
"With lush sensuality, intense emotion, lyrical writing, and exquisitely realized characters, Thomas has delivered another unforgettable winner."
— Starred review, Library Journal
"Certainly worth the anticipation and buzz it's receiving. The hero and heroine are both interesting, the conflict is compelling and intriguing, and the writing itself is fabulous. It's an all around win."--All About Romance
"This is a Very Good and Compelling Book and I had the hardest time putting it down, even in the midst of a week long party."
— Ramblings on Romance
"Thomas doesn't just enhance the genre, she enriches it with her intelligent characters, brilliant dialogue, innovative plot twists and amazing love stories. Reading her novels is a rare treat--an insight into the hearts and minds of all who dream."--Romantic Times Top Pick
"A beautifully written, deeply moving story of romantic renewal and moral repair set against the backdrop of a heartstopping journey across northwest India." — Racy Romance Reviews
"Thomas, who has made a name for herself with her exquisite use of language, deftly switches between past and present in this lyrically written, emotionally captivating story graced by beautifully developed, realistically flawed characters, clear motivation, and descriptions that make late Victorian India spring to life." — Library Journal
"Not Quite a Husband has everything I want from a romance (well, except a map ...): Delightful but flawed characters I love and can identify with, luscious prose, an interesting setting, and a romance that touches my heart. I can't recommend it enough, and am looking forward very much to Sherry Thomas's next book." — All About Romance Desert Isle Keeper Review
"Thomas has quickly become a fan favorite thanks to her wonderful storytelling and her unique ability to get into her characters' minds and our hearts." -- Romantic Times Top Pick
"NOT QUITE A HUSBAND is a perfect example of intense, compelling storytelling and Sherry Thomas is truly a gifted writer who kept me engaged in a story that was mesmerizing from start to finish." — Realms on Our Bookshelves
"So if you've worried (as I have) about the future of historical romance, just remember two words: Sherry Thomas. Readers, don't miss this one. It's a keeper and be very thankful that historical romance has a new, shining star." -- TheRomanceReader.com
“Superb…will win readers over with its elegant writing, exceptional characterization…and exquisitely romantic
love story.”—Chicago Tribune
“Steamy and smart…Deft plotting and sparkling characters mark this superior debut historical.” -- Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Lively banter, electric sexual tension, and an unusual premise make this stunning debut all the more refreshing.”-- Starred Review, Library Journal
"The unusual setting and fascinating historical backdrop immediately
set Duran's latest novel apart; then she adds in-depth
characterization, intrigue and passion, drawing readers straight into
her unforgettable romance in texture and color, detailed and
absorbing, here is a novel to sink your teeth into."--RT Book Reviews Top Pick
"At Your Pleasure is another tale of lovers separated - by politics and
religion this time - but here the plot works beautifully, making the
latest Meredith Duran a real treat."--All About Romance
"Meredith Duran ingeniously blends a fictitious romance into this
turbulent period in English history, and the result is an
extraordinary story not easily forgotten."--Single Titles
"This is not an easy story but it is a wonderful one. I am sucker for a
romance novel that leaves the end uncertain until very late in the
story. I also love good history. Duran accomplishes both in a most
satisfying way. GRADE: A-"--Smart Bitches Trashy Books
"Meredith Duran makes At Your Pleasure memorable with her beautiful prose. This story features a fabulous romance and an outstanding plot that amps up the drama. At Your Pleasure is historical writing at its finest."--Joyfully Reviewed
"The fascinating and compelling characters, the vivid imagery and dynamic prose, the wonderful romance - it was all I can ask of a romance. Meredith Duran just keeps getting better and better."--All About Romance Desert Isle Keeper Review
"Well-developed lead characters and a perceptive portrayal of a poor woman's reaction to the lush lifestyle of the nobility highlight a top-notch romance...."--Publishers Weekly
"Watching Simon and Nell being transformed by the wonder of love touched me in the deepest corners of my heart and reminded me of how beautifully Meredith Duran creates an emotionally intense love story."--The Romance Dish
"Meredith Duran has thrown down the gauntlet: Wicked Becomes You is the book to beat for best historical romance this year...Sexy, inventive, and riveting, it's a book that's hard to put down and a joy to read."--All About Romance
"Witty, often hilarious, sensuous, and breathlessly paced, Duran's engaging, mystery-enhanced escapade sweeps its charmingly matched protagonists across the continent, in and out of danger, and eventually into each other's arms."--Library Journal
"TOP PICK! Duran fulfills readers; needs for romantic stories,original characters, and delightful plotlines. There's so much fun tobe had in her latest tale featuring a good girl who wants to be bad and the bad boy who wants her; it's charming and deliciously sensual from beginning to end."--Romantic Times Top Pick
"Definitely another successful story for me."--Dear Author
"Easily one of the best books I’ve read in a long while…Run, not walk to [the] nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Written on Your Skin. My grade (one I’ve managed to talk myself into in the course of
writing this review): A+."--Dear Author
"Elegant prose and a deeply satisfying romance, the perfect combination. This is another fantastic book by Meredith Duran. I am now officially a fan girl."--Book Smugglers
"Dark, poignant and all consuming…a must read for 2009 and perhaps one of the best historicals of this decade."--Babbling about Books
"WRITTEN ON YOUR SKIN is absolutely everything a great historical romance should be. I was completely entranced from the very first page."--Romance Junkies
"Technically masterful as well as being a great love
story. I think it’s a book in which I would find new layers and
meaning each time I read it." -- Dear Author
"Everything here - characters, plotting, love story - is just so well put together and enjoyable that I have to give it my enthusiastic recommendation; there's no question. If you have been wallowing in romance novel ennui, go out and pick this one up." --
All About Romance Desert Isle Keeper Review
"Sophisticated, beautifully written and utterly romantic." -- Book Smugglers
"A story that carries a powerful punch.... Readers need to make room on their keeper shelf for the books of the talented Ms. Duran." --Fresh Fiction
"Bound by Your Touch exceeded all my expectations and more. I bow down to Meredith Duran and her expertise at writing a book that makes me want to read it all over again." -- Fallen Angel Reviews
"I keep trying to think of how to express the superlatives that went through my mind reading it… We speak of the Golden Age of Romance, of Putneys and Gaffneys and Ivorys as if it’s something we’ll never see again. Your book makes me think we’re wrong." --Jan, Dearauthor.com
"It has been many years since a novel has touched me and moved me to tears the way THE DUKE OF SHADOWS did… This is without a doubt the best historical romance I have read this year -- and I’ll go so far as to say that it’s the best one I’ve read in the last five years." --Romance Reviews Today
"Duran's fascinating, emotionally intense first novel will certainly captivate those seeking a unique setting and unconventional characters. With their strong sense of honor and passionate beliefs, her characters leap from the pages." -- Romantic Times, 4.5 stars
"Duke of Shadows is an excellent debut from an author who is going to leap right onto many “must-buy” lists. With its combination of engrossing story and emotion-packed romance, this is a guaranteed page-turner and a book to savor."--The Romance Reader