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. 

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Summer Omnibus Update

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.

RWA Orlando

It’s always fun to attend a RWA conference. But the highlight of my conference, without a doubt, was this:

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What Happens in the Las Vegas Suite

Stays in the Las Vegas Suite, of course.

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.

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RWA and Bookplates for You

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.

Wednesday, July 15
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Exhibit Hall

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.


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I must have sacrificed myself to the rapacious lust of a gorgeous, domineering conqueror in one of my previous lives

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 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 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 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.