Bottom Line: Today is the last day to bid on items at the Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction, so check out BHB’s contribution here.
Hi There, Cub Reporter joysann here. While Barbara was hanging out with the writers at the WisRWA Conference last week, I got an opportunity to pester the locals here in Northeast Ohio at their annual spring event: Cleveland Rocks Romance Conference. The conference was well attended by aspiring authors who rubbed elbows with successfully published authors like Donna MacMeans, Mary Ann Chulick, Olivia Parker, and the elusive best-selling author Erin McCarthy.
The special guest and keynote speaker was none other than the gracious and dazzling Heather Graham, who has written over one-hundred novels and been published in twenty languages. Peppering her speech with anecdotes and wisdom gained through her own career, she summed up her approach to writing by admonishing us to “Read, read, read. Write, write, write. And live, live live.” Good advice indeed. To see Drive-By Video, click here.
Two other writing guests there to share words of wisdom were popular authors Kathy Love, who gave a workshop about Understanding Your Characters, and Rhonda Stapleton, who spoke of Crafting the YA Romance.
If that wasn’t enough excitement, there were the guest Editors there to inspire awe, inspiration, fear and hope into the hearts of aspiring authors. Blurber Kym Lucas is one of these hopeful writers, and here’s what she had to say about the Query Letter Workshop:
With help from Cindy Hwang, executive editor at Berkley Publishing, and Eric Raab, editor at Tor/Forge Publishing, participants at the Cleveland Rocks Romance conference learned how to make our query letters rock. Ten willing victims, er, volunteers, submitted sample letters which were then read by by Donna MacMeans (author of The Seduction of a Duke and The Trouble With Moonlight). The two editors then gently critiqued them and provided suggestions for improvement. Thanks to Cindy and Eric’s insights, and to those who submitted their letters for dissection, we left Friday’s session with a better idea of what a query should and should not include.
During the afternoon I was entertained by observing the silent rehearsals of “pitches” all around the room, for many of the hardworking hopefuls had appointments with the guest editors, which also included Raelene Gorlinski of Ellora’s Cave/Cerridwen Press. But their agony was prolonged, for first was the very busy Booksigning Event, and then a Q & A Session where the three editors braved the slings and arrows… er, questions of their fascinated audience.
That covers the nuts and bolts; now for some fun stuff. I got to meet a novice aspiring author, Tammy Bailey, a former servicewoman who now serves in the US Air National Guard.
There was a delightful luncheon (the salmon was fine!) with the cutest, messiest little desserts, and my table companions were charming and fun.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen lovelier prize baskets for the drawings, but my luck ran out at Lori Foster’s Reader/Author Get-Together three years ago (4 of them), and here I didn’t win a single one (Heather Graham won the one I wanted the most).
And the lounge visits were fun, this one time having an exciting conversation with Tor editor Eric about my first passion, Sci-Fi, authors Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, and my treasured Wheel of Time books, boring the romance writers all the while.
Everyone went home late Saturday afternoon looking eager and excited about getting down to the business of their hearts – writing.
Bottom Line: Some of those pitches hit; I wonder how many new books will be the products of this worthwhile event.
(PSsst: I promised to start a rumor that Time Travel novels are coming back as the next big thing; pass it on.)
RT Columnist and Author of romance and fiction, Anne Elizabeth was at Book Expo America signing promo at the Dynamite Entertainment booth for her upcoming release of Pulse of Power (July 21, 2010). She was my Cub Reporter for the event, while I returned from Florida. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s no secret that she had a BLAST.
Start the presses! Barbra Streisand was the keynote speaker at the Book Expo America (BEA). Promoting her book My Passion for Design – Babs was interviewed by Gayle King, Editor-at-Large of “O” magazine. Barbra discussed her relationship with furniture. She revealed that growing up, her family didn’t have much…only a dining room table with stiff chairs. As she grew older, her tastes grew more lush. “We like certain things because of experiences of our childhood,” she said, and as she grew she gravitated toward certain colors and items. The book reveals insights into her personal history and psyche as well as being a celebration of life. P.S. The burgundy sweater story is charming!
It was super to see Brenda Jackson, Beth Ciotta, Gena Showalter, Debbie Macomber, Carly Phillips, and Linda Lael Miller. Harlequin had an awesome booth this year, and the crush to see the authors was tremendous. Alex Sokoloff was signing titles at Mystery Writers of America and at Horror Writers. Booksellers were lining up to see Kathy Reichs (Bones) at Penguin, and the Sourcebooks booth was rocking with activity. A shout-out to Deb Werksman – keep those fan-tas-tic titles coming!
I met Jonathan Maberry who gave me the ARC of his new YA entitled Rot and Run. This is the author who wrote the chilling book Patient Zero. Also, he’s a great supporter of our troops – way to rock, Jonathan! Stacy Agdern of Posman Books stopped to chat about her favorite parts of the BEA, along with authors Kitty Keswick (Freaksville) and Judith Graves (Under My Skin).
The Author’s Guild had a hot dog roast for Scott Turow, the newly elected President. The booth overflowed with guests, and more supplies were called in. FYI, Judy Blume has been elected to the office of Vice President. Her books remind me of childhood… Okay, maybe NOT the book Forever but definitely Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. She’s still amazing! Though, I don’t know why they didn’t serve – FUDGE.
IDW highlighted the upcoming Charlaine Harris True Blood comic, while Dark Horse was celebrating Janet and Alex Evanovich’s Troublemaker graphic novel with art by Joelle Jones. Keith DeCandido was signing Farscape titles at the BOOM! booth, which was also stuffed with issues of Cars, Disney, and much more. LA Banks signed promos at the Dynamite booth (They also produce Kevin Smith’s “Green Hornet” and yes, Kato is a Girl!), and Leslie shared the latest news of her hottest new graphic fiction project with me.
The best booth exhibit was Workman Publishing with its enormous shipping-sized ‘mock’ books highlighting such titles as Stitch ‘N Bitch Advanced; Potato Chip Science; The Cake Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free; Perfect Piggies; and The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick. Abrams was the runner-up with a giant typewriter.
An eye-catching title was Pete Nelson’s I thought you were dead (Algonquin Books) that is a humorous story of an owner and his dog. Get this…the dog talks! In the author’s own words, the dog gives better advice than most of his friends. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has a new book coming in September called Jon Stewart Presents Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race. And, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who wrote Helping Hand Books: Emily’s First Day at School was the Master of Ceremony at the Children’s Book & Author Breakfast.
Erika Oliver dropped off books for a lucky BHB reader — books will be given away to three lucky commenters on today’s blog. Just have to say “BEA Rocks!” Among the titles is her book Three Good Things. Also for BHB readers, I snagged two extra copies of Nancy Butler’s comic Sense & Sensibility Issue 1, which she was signing at the Marvel booth.
This is Anne Elizabeth signing off! “Happy Reading!”
If you’d like to be a Cub Reporter for BHB at an event that I won’t be at, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bottom Line: BEA sounds amazing and I’m already penciling it in my calendar for next year.
Unfortunately I won’t be attending BEA (Book Expo America) this year. It is very depressing for me. I just got back from Florida helping my brothers work on my mother’s home. We painted and threw out stuff (so far over 500 sets of salt and pepper shakers that my aunt and uncle collected).
I’m just sick thinking about not seeing the Babs (Barbra Streisand). This would be a dream come true. When would I get that opportunity again? And then, over 500 authors there and I’m not. That is so wrong. I feel like I’m in withdrawal.
Luckily, I have my books to get me through and here’s what the WW Ladies have been reading this week.
Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
Listened to by joysann
Things have only gone from bad to worse for Rachel Morgan, since being shunned by the witch covens, which accuse her of using black magic and dealing with demons. Though they’re not wrong, that’s no excuse for them trying to kidnap her, imprison her for life, or even kill her. Surprisingly, it’s the unwelcome worst of her companions who are her best chances for keeping safe.
Kim Harrison just keeps the story moving in this 8th book in the Rachel Morgan series. It’s a great blend of suspense, humor, horror, romance and sorrow, and, as usual, I couldn’t put it down. Listening to Marguerite Gavin’s audio performance just made it much more exciting.
The author, G.W. Reynolds III wrote a trilogy, featuring the three stages of Jason’s young life - He began with his childhood, then into the milestone of his 16th birthday and finally to his 21st year. Some of the characters appear in each segment, others are left behind in a haze of anger, hate, cruelty, violence and death. Jason often withdraws into himself by silence and apathy; not sure if he had a bad dream, wondering if some of the ugly and mean treatment really happened. His mother wonders if he is “not quite right”, but he is liked by everyone, especially the young girls in town and complimented for his work ethic by his bosses.
To me, this was delicious reading of a masterful and mesmerizing tale. It was difficult to put the book down. Everyone of the 478 pages had an unexpected twist or turn right up to the shocking ending. Is a sequel to a trilogy called a “quartology”? I sure hope G.W. Reynolds III writes one so I can read more about Jason and his amazing life.
Sally MacKenzie is the author of the Naked series (The Naked Viscount, The Naked Earl). She’s agreed to be the Cub Reporter at the New Hampshire RWA Spring Fling event this year.
The New Hampshire Romance Writers ventured into new territory this year, expanding their annual conference to a new format with more workshops, a luncheon speaker, and a book fair at a new venue. It was my first time at the conference, so I can’t compare and contrast, but I can say it was great fun and I think a great success.
We (I dragged my husband along) flew into Manchester and rented a car for the hour drive (more than an hour for us since just about everywhere we could make a wrong turn, we did) to Portsmouth, a lovely old seaport. We had a great view of the harbor from our room, and it was only a short walk from the conference site, the Sheraton Harborside Portsmouth Hotel, to historic Portsmouth and an amazing number of great restaurants–as well as a number of historic sites, of course.
Friday evening, Lara Adrian, whose bestselling Midnight Breed series is contracted for 10 books (so far), kicked things off with her pre-conference workshop, “Writing a Multi-book Series.” I couldn’t attend, so I asked Miranda Neville how it went; she told me it was terrific. Hearing Miranda’s review, I was doubly sorry I’d missed it. After Lara’s presentation, many of the conference attendees gathered in the Riverwatch Lounge for to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
Saturday began with a very well-attended buffet breakfast. After a sustaining muffin, fruit, juice, and cup of coffee–I did mention the Riverwatch Lounge gathering, didn’t I?–it was on to the workshops, twelve in all, two in each time slot. It was very hard to choose which to attend. Kristan Higgins used American Idol as her metaphor to discuss a very slippery topic in “Defining and Refining Voice.” Then Jo Ann Ferguson revealed the “secret key” to publishing– emotion–in “I’ll Second that Emotion.” In “From Unpublished to Sold: Three Authors Share Their Journeys,” Christyne Butler, Miranda Neville, and Denise Robbins talked about their publishing experiences; next Stella MacLean gave us pointers on “How to Write Your First Draft.” What did I have to miss? “Developing the Perfect Pitch/Query” by Jenni Holbrook; “You CAN Promote Your Own Book” by Susan May; “Going Deep” with Toni Andrews; and “Hooks and How to Use Them” with Terri Brisbin.
Kristan Higgins gave a very entertaining and motivating keynote at lunch, this time taking her inspiration from Project Runway. She offered us twelve lessons from the runway ranging from “you have to make something to get on the show” to “being judged is hard” that spoke to beginning writers, the multi-published, and everyone in between. Lunch was delicious, and I won a prize, so it was a great time all around.
After lunch Caroline Linden and I gave “The Top 5 Mistakes New, ‘Almost There,’ and Newly-Published Writers Make.” We had fun even though I’d revised our outline and forgotten to tell Caroline, and our audience was attentive. Miranda Neville was up next with “Leitmotif in Romance Fiction.” I was afraid I’d have to dust off my English B.A., but Miranda made her presentation very interesting and easy to follow. The other two workshops running in those slots were Jenni Holbrook’s “It’s Not About Sex” and Susan May’s “Rejection–Making it Work for You.” The book signing concluded the conference, and even wild animals came to meet the authors!
If you’d like to be a Cub Reporter for an event that I won’t be at, please e-mail me at email@example.com
Bottom Line: I’m heading back home today from Florida and looking forward to the Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books in Waukesha June 18th and 19th.
I’ve spent the past week in southern Florida with my brothers fixing up the family vacation home. It’s been a lot of work with painting and throwing out stuff. How can people accumulate so much? My brother has been posting pictures on Facebook to let everyone know how hard we’ve been working, but the picture that inspired the most conversation is two ducks who found love beneath on the driveway. Well, this is pretty much a romance blog.
Even with all my conferences and traveling lately, I still managed to finish two books this week. It’s frustrating for me because there are so many I want to read, but I’ll get there…eventually. I only have one event in June, so I’ll have more time to plow through my TBR pile.
I started off the week by listening to Young Adult book, Infinity. This is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s first foray into this market. I never feel I’m the right person to judge YA books, but it was very easy to follow in audio form (Macmillian Audio) with the reader definitely sounding 14 years old. Although marketed as a teen book, my 9 1/2 year old grandson picked up the book and finished it in a few days, but allow me to let YA reader Beka tell you what she thought of the book.
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Read by Beka
In Nick Gautier’s world the paranormal touches the lives of everyone he knows. Unfortunately, he doesn’t believe in any of it, even when students in his school begin to turn into zombies. As always, there has to be a logical explanation for what’s going on, but the strange events unfolding around him are anything but logical. Nick finds that his new boss is something out of an action flick that takes butt kicking to a new level. As the hours of zombie takeover tick by, Nick finds that nearly everyone he knows is coming out of the supernatural closet. In order to save New Orleans and the lives of those close to him, Nick must work with the beings he never believed in; or got along with, for that matter. If that weren’t bad enough, he’s also beginning to notice something not so normal within himself. But he doesn’t have a weeks or months to sort everything out, he only has a few hours to learn how to be a hero all the while hoping he doesn’t get grounded for missing curfew. Again.
This was a fantastic segway into YA; boys and girls will adore this smooth read immensely. It was absolutely stunning and entertaining. Every character is unique in a normally abnormal kind of way. Nick is snarky to the point where you have to respect his quick wit and his affect on the characters around him. His character really makes the book a funny read that can’t be put down. I loved every word of it and how hot is that cover?
Chains of Ice by Christina Dodd – Genesis Valente was groomed by her father to be the ultimate business woman, but her heart always belonged to animals. When her father gives her the ultimate graduation gift, a trip to study lynx in the wild, she feels her time has come. John Powell, a Chosen One, gives up his life to live in a very remote area when his life takes a turn for the worse. Although he knows the Chosen Ones will eventually seek him out, he’s not prepared for Genny.
Here’s a paranormal book I could sink my teeth into. Nothing like a hairy hermit who cleans up really well. Although there were times I wanted Genny to tell her father where to go, I could certainly understand the respect one feels they owe a parent…especially a single one. Something about being in the wilds of far off lands that lets my imagination have a field day. Full of sexual tension, Chains of Ice is guaranteed to melt anything in sight.
This week I’m reading Wild Fire by Christine Feehan and a historical I haven’t picked out yet. It will probably be an eeney, meeney, miney, moe chose because I’ll have a terrible time picking just one.
From Dianna Love: To celebrate Sherrilyn Kenyon’s new Dark Hunter young adult book launch, Sherrilyn and Dianna Love will be giving away free raffle tickets at every tour stop this week (Nashville, Minneapolis, Baltimore & New Orleans) for a chance to win the INFINITY Tshirts (book cover in color on shirts), Dark-Hunter manga shirts, Dark-Hunter pins, tote bags and more. All you have to do is stop in to visit with them. Appearance schedule here.
From Nights of Passion Blog: My apologies to this blog for missing their giveaway last week. Be sure to go over and follow them regularly because they are always giving great things away
From Debbie Macomber: What would you do if you had the gift of a second chance at something special in your life? #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Debbie Macomber is offering participants a chance to win $10,000 in her Gift of a Second Chance Contest.* The Gift of a Second Chance Contest calls for entrants to go to Harlequin and—in 100 words or less—tell the award-winning MIRA Books author what they would do with a second chance in their lives. One lucky winner will receive $10,000 for the chance to help to make a real change in his/her life.
Bottom Line: If I were to enter Debbie’s contest, the one thing I’d like to do in my life that I’ve never done is travel to Scotland. I’ve read so many books about it, I feel like I must have lived there in a previous life.
Hello. joysann here again, doing the “cub reporter” thing for Barbara.
“Murder Is My Day Job”
That’s how author Lisa Black, caught the attention of the 250 attendees at the semi-annual Writer’s Live Luncheon hosted by the Friends of the Medina County District Library, Medina, Ohio. Listeners were rapt while the author of the Theresa MacLean mystery series described her own experiences as a forensic scientist in the coroner’s office in the Cleveland area. Though she began writing her novels long before the CSI phase began it’s popularity run, the current mystery trend has brought her series new attention, most recently with Evidence of Murder.
The luncheon was held at the Blue Heron Golf Club where, again, was served a lovely and delicious meal. The desserts were gorgeous and the staff were very friendly and accommodating. I always enjoy these events held there. My table companions were fun too.
Lisa (also writing as Elizabeth Becka) was funny and entertaining with stories proving that there are “few criminal masterminds in real life”, and that,
even with the forensic technology available now, not every question can be answered. In response to a query whether her character is modeled after herself, Lisa says “she’s much better looking”, leaving me to wonder how she does that.
Bottom Line: Those of us who were there will be watching for her new book, Trail of Blood, coming out in September 2010.
Well, I’m now in Florida. No, not a vacation. I’m here with two of my brothers and we’re working on the family home. Painting, patching, throwing out lots of stuff. I’ve even washed drapes and hung them on the clothesline. I haven’t done that in years. It has been about 90 degrees every day, but I love the heat. We’ve also had the opportunity to visit my 87 year old uncle and boy, does he have the stories to tell. I take it back…it is a vacation. Now on to the WW Ladies reads of the week.
Shamrock Alley by Ronald Damien Malfi
Read by Michelle
John Mavio aka John Esposito is an undercover Secret Service Agent who infiltrates an Irish gang suspected by counterfeiting. John and his partner Bill Kersh get more than they bargained for as they team up with the FBI and the NYPD to dig deeper into the terror that Mickey O’Shay and Jimmy Kahn have unleashed on Hell’s Kitchen.
Ronald Damien Malfi’s father was an undercover Secret Service Agent who did infiltrate an Irish gang in Hell’s Kitchen. As the story unfolds and the true depth of a psychotic killer emerges, it’s disturbing to know that this novel is based on a true story. Mr. Malfi had my attention from page one. I shivered, I cringed and I kept hope that good would prevail over evil.
Naked Edge by Pamela Clare
Read by Heidi
Gabriel Rossiter has become a cold hearted man who can only be with a woman once or twice, and that’s it. No one is going to fill the whole in his heart. That is, until he rescues Katherine James in a landslide. Kat creates feelings inside Gabe that he hoped to keep away. It seems that dangerous circumstances keeps Kat in his life and they can both become targets in deadly game.
Between the cat and mouse games and steam between Kat and Gabe, this book took me around the world and back again. Excellent read for spring and summer.
Bottom Line: I need to find more things to wash down here, it feels great to be outside doing physical labor again.
I noticed that Saturday morning everyone was down at breakfast by 7:30 a.m. Sunday it was more like 8:30 a.m. Which, obviously, means that the Saturday night party was a complete success. It was a much more subdued group that met up before the first workshop.
Lori Handeland started things off by talking about the Secret Handshake. There’s no magic pill to writing a successful book. Hard work and motivation.
I was up next with my Social Media workshop. We had a lively discussion with lots of great ideas and some horror stories about getting started and staying out of trouble online without wasting a lot of time doing it. The group seemed pretty optimistic about trying some new things and that always makes me feel like the talk was successful.
Iowa was represented by it’s new chapter, less than 1 year old. The six members wore t-shirts proclaiming their alligience.
Cathy Maxwell led the last workshop of the conference, Love Your Writing. She has three maxims, Find Role Models, Set Goals and Focus on Strengths. Cathy had the crowd ready to go home and put all of her practical applications to the test.
By noon it was all over, but the consensus was that WisRWA was a complete success and plans were already underway for next year’s conference to be held at the same place the first weekend in June. Betsy Norman was the woman of the hour as conference coordinator as her minions heaped words of praise on her.
Bottom Line: Mark your calendars because I know for sure I’ll be going…cotton candy, brats, popcorn machine…it doesn’t take much to entice me.
What a great hotel for the Wisconsin Romance Writers’ Conference. First they had free cocktail hour Friday night (white wine spritzer for me) and Saturday morning a a cooked to order free breakfast and buffet. I may never go home.
The workshop sessions started with Mary Jo Putney who talked about how stories mattered. She said, “The best time to be a writer is when you’ve just sent in a book. Then you have about a week to rest. And went on to say, “Women read romance for the sizzle. Life is chaotic, it’s nice to go into a book where everything works out.”
The Awards Luncheon featured tailgate party fare with brats, hamburgers, salad, pickles and all the fixings. The winners from the Fab 5 contest were recognized and WisRWA paid special tribute to author Ana Leigh by giving her their first Lifetime Achievement Award. Ana has written 31 books in 28 years. Being hailed a long time mentor, Ana insisted that she was the student and the other members were the teachers, keeping her young. She attributes her gray hair, drooping eyes and body falling about on the fact that she hasn’t been able to attend an RWA meeting in several years.
Cathy Maxwell told the group attending her Voice Your Writing Personality workshop that voice has to do with personality. The voices move around in your head and you need to put it on paper so everyone can see and hear what you want them to.
Keeping with the midwestern flavor, the afternoon snack was all about State Fair with cotton candy, popcorn, soda and cream puffs. The only thing missing were the farm animals, which was ok by me.
The literacy signing was held in the lobby of the hotel, right next to a wedding’s cocktail hour. It was also right next to the bar for happy hour which brought hotel guests right to the authors. Pretty clever.
Everyone broke off for dinner on their own in groups. We went to Champps and it was packed as fans watched the Brewer game on the many TVs covering every inch of wall space in there. Unfortunately, they lost. But the management then announced that WisRWA was in the house and so was New York Times Bestselling Author Cathy Maxwell, who stood up and took a bow. Then the male waiters came around with lon stemmed red roses for all of the writers (and they even gave me one). It was a beautiful sight.
The night ended with a party in the Hospitality Suite that featured brandy slushes, appetizers, snacks and homemade desserts. I was particularly fond of the butter cookies dipped in chocolate.
Bottom Line: I’m still paying for the mistake of dipping my shrimp in hot sauce that looked exactly like shrimp sauce.