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The RITA Speech

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.

That’s all, folks.  For now.

New York, New York

Caution: Long blog post coming up. Image-heavy too.  And I apologize in advance for my camera’s totally inaccurate time stamps.

1. Pre-Departure

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.

And now they are being filled.  more »

Guilt-blogging

It seems rather neglectful–not that we don’t tell you upfront that we are neglectful bloggers here <g>–to comment upon an event elsewhere but not here at my own blog, especially since the event had something to do with me.

So here’s my call story for this year’s RITA nominations.

Usually I am not a nervous person, possibly because usually I have no idea what’s going on. :-)  Take the RITAs, for example, in 2009 and 2010, the calls came early in the morning, right after I’d come back home from walking the Junior Kidlet to school, before I’d even realized what date it was.  This time, however, I began working before waking the kidlet up, and while using the dictionary widget on my macbook, I happened to glance at the calendar widget, and the 25 was highlighted.  Too bad, a second later, I remembered that RITA calls went out on the 25th.

This set me slight on edge.  I am not a hoper–is that a word?–and usually prefer to first mentally prepare myself for the worst that can happen.  And when 8:30 came and went, I thought, well, that’s probably it.  The calls have gone out and I didn’t get mine.

Then at 8:37 the phone rang.  I scrambled to get it.  Ack.  The number of a known telemarketer.  I pressed the rejection button really hard and muttered something under my breath.  And then, just as I was walking away from the phone, it rang again.  And this time it was Cindy Kirk from RWA.  There is an old Turkish proverb that goes: When Allah wants to make a poor man happy, He takes away the man’s goat and then let him find it again.  And boy, when I got the call after thinking I wouldn’t, did it make me happy!

This was written for The Romance Bandits.  Who corralled a bunch of RITA nominees (and a couple of Golden Heart nominees) who have been guest bloggers at the Bandits’ blog to share their RITA call stories.  Go give it a read.  Most of the stories are better than mine.

But I was most certainly as thrilled as anyone.  This never gets old.  Especially as I’m always a little unsure how to feel about HIS AT NIGHT myself.

Now my mind turns to the dress.  But alas, I’m on deadline.  And I sit all day and eat crap when I’m on deadline.  And even the prettiest dress might turn into sausage casing when the deadline goes on for another two months.

So I’d better finish those two books fast–two books, ack–if for nothing else than to get out the house and get some exercise.  Book 1 is shaping up well.  Book 2 is going to need an overhaul–nothing new here.  Same old process.  Write ‘em first and sort ‘em later.

This then, will be the last blog for a while, until I’ve turned those two books in.  So I want to inform everyone that I am contributing critiques to two auctions.  First, to the well-known Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction, a query critique.  Second, a three-chapter critique to the Crits for Water Campaign run by blogger Flighty Temptress.  My critique is scheduled to go up for auction on June 13.  I’m not sure how the bidding works exactly, but if you are interested, I’m sure Flighty Temptress will be happy to walk you through the process.  :-)

I have never offered a chapter-critique before, and the reason is that I can be terrifying.  :-)  Half the time I preface a critique with “I know you won’t like hearing this–”  But if you want someone to have a good hard look at your WIP, especially one that’s close but no cigar (those actually  benefit the most from a stone-cold analysis), and if you’ve a few bucks to contribute to a good cause, then look me up.  Just make sure you really do want to know what’s not working.

And now, last but never least, new foreign covers.

Italian Private Arrangements:

Now if this looks familiar, it is.  

It’s Monica Belucci all over again!  Different photos from the same series.  I really would like to know if my Italian publisher consulted the French cover or if this is just an amazing coincidence.  :-)

And now, Taiwanese NOT QUITE A HUSBAND.

This actually looks a lot like the environs of Chakdarra, where pitches battles of the Swat Valley Uprising of 1897 were fought.  And the fort resembles the real fort at Chakdarra.  Need I tell you that I’m happy?  And lol, not only did they mention the RITA for NQAH, they also mentioned the AAR Best Hundred Romance placement.  All true, let’s sell this baby, I say.  It’s when they call me a New York Times bestselling author that I start to giggle.  How come I’m always an American bestseller overseas?  :-P

So long, keep well, and ’til we meet again.

My sister the secret rock star.

Necessary preface: this is a true story…and it just happened to me.

So, about eight weeks ago, my younger sister, Shelley, comes to me and says, “Hey, I wrote a book.”

(You may recognize Shelley’s name if you read The Duke of Shadows.  The book is dedicated to her for good reason.  She found the manuscript under a bed, where I’d abandoned it after numerous literary agents declined to represent it.  Having read and liked the book, Shelley convinced me to try again. She is the reason that I’m now a published author.)

I’d always known Shelley was a talented writer and an avid reader, but I had no idea that she’d been writing fiction, much less novel-length fiction. So here’s how our conversation went:

Me: “You’ve been writing?  Hey, that’s awesome!  I always said you should give it a go.”

My sister: “In fact, I’ve been writing for some time.  This is my…oh, seventh manuscript?”

Me: “What?!?”

My sister: “Yeah, I enjoy it.”

Me: “Um.  Okay, that’s awesome.  A bit…secretive, but purely awesome all the same.  So, what kind of book is it?”

My sister: “YA, set in the near future.”

Me (thinking myself witty): “Hmm, let me guess: it’s about a girl who meets and falls in love with a mysterious and slightly sadistic stranger in her chem/bio/gym class.”

My sister: “Wrong all around.  For one thing, the protagonist is a teenage guy.”

Me: “A guy?  Huh.”  (I think to myself: Bummer.  I prefer female protagonists.)  “Well, can I read it?”

My sister: “Sure!  Emailing it now.”

24 hours later…

Me (purely astonished): “Shel, this book is…amazing.  I mean… I’m kind of speechless.  It’s that good.  Totally intense, but also amazingly funny in parts.  I literally couldn’t put it down until I was finished reading it. It’s just…awesome.”

My sister: “Thanks!  Good to hear!”

Me: “What I’m saying is that this book could be published. You should be querying agents RIGHT NOW.  I could give you some tips—”

My sister:  “Oh, I already have an agent.”

Me:  “…What? You already have an agent?”

My sister: “Yep.  I queried a while back and [big fancy NY agent] liked it a lot.  He’s planning on submitting in January.”

Me: “Um.  Um.  YOU NEVER BREATHED A WORD OF THIS.  YOU DO REALIZE THAT?”

My sister (no doubt blinking innocently):  “Well, I didn’t know if anything would come of it.  Still might go nowhere, you know?  Maybe just forget you read it.”

Me: “NOT LIKELY.”

My sister: “Seriously, you never know.  Maybe nobody will want it.”

Six weeks pass

Me (unable to play it cool any longer): “Shel, any news from your agent?”

My sister: “Oh, yeah, nice news!”

Me (dying of excitement): “What kind of news?”

My sister:  “It just sold in a pre-empt for [a sum that my brain translates to a gazillion trillion dollars].”

Me (collecting jaw off floor): “…This means you’re buying me dinner from now on, right?  ’Cause I’m a starving student, you know.  You owe me dinners.  You owe me LOTS of dinners.”

My sister:  “Dude, WTF?  No way.  You’re the big sister!  You buy the dinners!”

Me: “You’re the super-secretive 007 writer whose book just got bought AS A PRE-EMPT about ten seconds after I found out that you’d started writing!”

My sister: “Okay, fine.  I’ll send you a Cliff bar in the mail.”

Here’s the text of the Publisher’s Weekly announcement that just appeared:

S.J. Kincaid’s INSIGNIA, in which a teenage video gamer becomes a government weapon in a futuristic world at war, to Molly O’Neill at Katherine Tegen Books, in a pre-empt, in a significant deal, in a three-book deal, by David Dunton at Harvey Klinger.

If you’re curious to learn more, go check out her blog (http://sjkincaid.blogspot.com/)!  Me, I’ll be over here on the fainting couch, recovering from the vapors. :)

Foreign Covers!

So I checked my email yesterday, and my agent sent me the link to Random House Mondadori’s page for the Spanish version of PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. And it’s got a cover! In publishing, nothing’s more interesting than covers.


I was totally tickled. Like my friend Michelle said, it’s like a Jane Austen book with my name replacing Jane’s! :-) Spanish PA goes on sale February 13, 2009.

So then I pestered Kristin about the Russian PA, because that was the first foreign rights sale we ever made, and should have come out already. And it was, and Kristin got a cover from Whitney, her foreign-rights co-agent. And behold:


My first Barbara Cartland cover!

Seriously, I couldn’t stop looking at this cover. I mean, what a couch. Now I’ve got to have one like it. And of all the ladies who’ve graced PA’s cover, this one actually looks most like what Gigi might–and with that attitude too.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the front cover and the back cover are actually mirror images. The woman is painted over where the couch would have been on the right side. And if you look even more closely, you’ll see that the it’s the top curve of the same throw pillow under the plant on the right, they just painted out the buttons on it!

I am enthralled. ENTHRALLED!

P.S. The Russian title Idealnaya Para, means The Ideal Couple. (Or so I gather from googling.) And it is already available. Inform all your Russian friends! :-)

P.P.S. If there are any art history majors out there, I’d love to know what painting they used for the Spanish PA. It looks like a Victorian era artist, but I tried Leighton, Tissot, and a few others and came up empty.

Update 1: Thanks to Seton, now we know that the cover is based on a painting by Tissot, named “Study For.”


Update 2: Thanks to Courtney Milan, I now know that the Russian PA is coming out in two different editions.

For 240 rubles, you can have this, same as above.


If you have only 200 rubles to spare, you still can have it, albeit in a slightly more somber package. :-)


Will wonders never cease? :-)

Repackaging!

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.

Holy Batman and Free ARCs

The 2008 Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction ended on May 31. And my box of lovely chocolate truffles went for $305!

::Picks self off the floor::

And today I got notice that the bidder paid. I’m not sure I believed she would but she did. I’m stupefied.

::Tells self that it is a beautiful, beautiful box of chocolates. And comes with an ARC of Delicious too::

Congratulations to the winner and my baffled and enormous gratitude too. And thank you also to everyone who bid on the chocolate truffles.

In other news, this time there are no chocolate truffles involved, but Romantic Times is giving away 5 signed ARCs of Delicious on its website. So go forth and enter and win yourself a free book. And I was still noticeably editing the book during the page proof stage (after the ARC was printed), so if there’s anything you don’t like in the ARC, just think that it was fixed in the end. :-)

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.

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.