Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ruminations and Revelations

Today is a strange day in my world.  Today would have been my mother's 77th birthday. 

My mother plays a huge role in my writing. She always has.  When I was a kid, she encouraged me to read and to write--except in the summers when she'd lock me out of the house and make me go play outside for a while.  Otherwise, I would have sat in my room all summer reading.  When I was in high school and doing all sorts of extra-curricular activities--any extra curricular activity that involved the word CONTEST was high up on my list--she would cart me all over the country to help me get my research done or get to a competition. 

When she died, I found copies of two papers I wrote for the History Day competition among her things.  I was a pretentious little cuss, and I'd written epic poems instead of plain old term papers. 

So, in a lot of ways, I owe the writer that I am to my mother.  As a first-generation American (French emigre') she was proud of my command of the English language.  She encouraged me to strive for any academic goal I wanted and went out of her way to help me attain them with whatever support she could give me.  When I won state in History Day and went on to nationals, she went with our group to Washington DC and we had the best time.  Of our group, only one other girl besides myself was that interested in hitting the historical sites, so the two of us and my mom and the two teacher/chaperones trekked all over Washington.  We walked through the White House and the Smithsonians together, went to the Library of Congress, gate crashed Senator Howard Baker's office at the Capital, did rubbings at the National Cathedral and wandered around Arlington.  We even shook President Reagan's hand (we were in the right place at the right time) and when I placed fifth in the nation, she was proud and happy.

And it was almost literally the last good time we had together.

What a waste.

Since her death almost five years ago, she's fueled my writing in another way.  My anger with her has seeped into every single story I've written.  My short story Funeral Meats (in my short story collection Metamorphosis) was entirely about how I dealed with her death--or didn't.  And now, on her birthday, I spent an inordinate amount of time today wondering what she would think about my writing now. Would she like it? Would she be proud? Would she think I was on the right path?  Would all that promise she thought I had as a kid have been justified in her eyes?

And just a tiny voice in the back of my mind wonders, Would she care?

It's a strange and sobering thought. I'm reasonably certain she wouldn't have thought that Funeral Meats, where a squirrel runs off with her metaphorical ashes, was all that flattering. Well, good. It wasn't meant to be. But would she have seen past that? Would she have set the book down after she read it and thought, "Well. At least she can write?"

Writers are driven by many strange things.  Some, no doubt, are prodded by ambition.  Still others just want to tell a good story, to entertain their readers.  I think that in some strange, warped way, I'm still energized by my mother.  I still crave her good opinion.  I still want to get up in her face and say, "Look what I did. Now what do you have to say about that?"

So as I look at my writing desk every day, I see a couple of reminders of her: a picture of my parents' wedding in Paris, her tiny citizenship flag that she cherished, two high school contest papers and something I use every day.

Her thesaurus, battered and dogeared, that she used to expand her English vocabulary.

I guess that's really my answer right there. Happy birthday, Mom.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time Off Comes to a Close

So, yeah--my time off from blogging is done.  I've been writing and editing, but after A Month In The Life, I figured you guys deserved A Fortnight Of Silence.

All done now. It actually works out fairly well.  I've had a not-quite-stellar couple of weeks physically, including a brutal bout of insomnia and (of course) a lot of back pain.  That aside, it's still been pretty productive though.  I finished the first draft of Harlequin, which may or may not be the sequel to Deception Enters Stage Left.  I wrote the story to make. the. characters. shut. up. (Ever have a story like that? One that just wants to keep on going? Some gene in my DNA makes me want to write years' worth of fantasy soap opera. Not such a bad thing...) I'm getting close to finishing the final Covenants story--Defying The Covenants. We're shooting for a Halloween-area release on that one at AMP.  Mythos has hit the backburner.  My editor has the third book and I'm holding off on number four until I get Covenants done.

All that being said, some interesting things popped up on my Google Alerts today--a pair of reviews for the last two Asphodel books: Tempation of Asphodel and Apostle of Asphodel.  Bitten by Books had this to say about Temptation:

"...excellent tales and everything a good fantasy should be. They are multifaceted with a sweet innocence for the heroine that is definitely in contradiction to modern urban fantasy which portrays women as hard and uncompromising. Tamsen is hard when she needs to be yet compassionate and questioning when warranted....I would definitely recommend for fantasy lovers of any ages. Celina Summers slays this series!"
Hard to find fault with a review like that, especially when they follow up immediately with this about Apostle:

"...This tale is EPIC! This is the final chapter to a grand series with all of the tales in it at four-hundred plus pages. There are several worlds with different races (former enemies of the elves, the humans, or the sorcerers) coming together to battle a great evil. This series has over a dozen significant characters coming together from several of the previous tales to unite in love and mutual respect to recreate a great battle in Ilia; hopefully this time all of the characters reminiscent of the past battle will prevail, stop several curses, and eliminate a god...I would recommend it for the young or not so young dragon or harpie slayer. Slay on, Celina Summers, I will be watching for you to produce the next Harry Potter, because you have the killer writer gene!"

I love reviews like these, not only because they are very flattering but also because this is the review of a reader who got it. Know what I mean?  Sometimes, at least for me, I find making that connection is more gratifying than the raves. (Yeah, Celina--right) I love it when someone finds the dichotomy in my main character (Tamsen was written intentionally as a response to the hard, brittle fantasy heroine. I wanted to make sure she retained her humanity even in a world of elves and centaurs--and a tender love coupled with crippling emotional blows make a character more credible, in my point of view at least) or recognizes the scope in which I've written the story (the battle in Ilia--the second Trojan War in my imagined world of Asphodel--and how that one event can culminate multiple story lines). And while I really hope I produce the next Harry Potter--who wouldn't?--the fact that this reviewer saw past the story and into what I was trying to do means so much and gives me something to build from as I move into other stories.

Which, considering that Asphodel is another one of those stories where the characters. just. won't. shut. up. is a very good thing.

Well. Back to work.  I'm glad to be back to blogging; it's time to kick my daily routines back into high gear.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mythos 2:Daughter of the Sea Now Available!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it's out!

Mythos 2: Daughter of the Sea is now available at Aspen Mountain Press.

The young gods of Olympus have pursued the sea god Nereus’ daughters, Amphitrite and Thetis, since they grew to maturity. The sisters are used to the adoration of immortal men and like the attention they receive. But when the imprisoned Titan, Prometheus, makes a prophecy that Thetis’ son will be greater than his father, the gods shun the beautiful nymph. Thetis hides herself away from Olympus, leaving her sister Amphitrite angry and in no mood to deal with the fickle tastes of men.

When the King of the ocean, Poseidon, watches Amphitrite dance at a feast upon Olympus, he falls instantly in love with her. His attempts to court Amphitrite end in disaster; she flees to the one place in the three realms where no Olympian can go. Can Poseidon find some messenger to break through her anger and win her heart? Or will the great god of the oceans be spurned by this daughter of the sea?

I have to tell you, I absolutely LOVE this story.  I liked writing Amphitrite--who is underknown in the Greco-Roman mythologies--because I could get away from proscribed personalities or tendencies.  I could make her (and her sister, Thetis, in the next book) more my own.  Amphitrite is a no-nonsense kick ass kind of heroine who makes Poseidon jump through hoops.  HER hoops. Literally.

Can't argue with that.

At any rate, you can take a look at Daughter of the Sea on the Aspen Mountain Press website for now and major third party distributors within the week.

And don't forget to enjoy the best abs in mythology on the cover, too.  Hard to argue with a god that looks like one. Special kudos to Tuesday Dube for the fantastic cover and a big shout out to Lori Basiewicz, my long-suffering editor.

Y'all enjoy!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

RT Pictures

The authors' panel at Bobbi Smith's workshop.  From the left, that's Heather Graham, Debra Parmley, Linnea Sinclair and Jade Lee. I tried to get a shot of Stacey Kade (who is sitting next to Linnea) but just couldn't  get a shot around that head in the way.

This is the gift basket that Lizzie T. Leaf, Sam Cheever and I contributed to for the booksellers at the convention.

Laura Baumbach talking with Robert Gregory Browne at "our" table in the bar.  We chose the table for two reasons: first, it was right by the elevator banks and second, because it gave us an unadulterated view of our banner.  Both Laura and Robert are great people to talk to--and drink with...not that I would know...

For some reason, Lizzie T. Leaf (on the left) and Sandra Hicks didn't want this picture to be seen by anyone. *grin*
So naturally, I had to post it.  I think it's funny and I'm not sure how many hurricanes and glasses of wine we'd had by this particular point in the evening.

"Saving the boys"
The Faerie Ball was a lot of fun, but we were considered a safe haven for Bret Battles, Robert Gregory Browne and Jason Scott Bell after the strip show the night before during Ellora Cave's Red party. (The male dancers didn't actually strip, which was a bummer, but the boys weren't taking any chances)  That's Cynthia Vespia on the left. keeping them entertained.  All three men were fabulous people and fantastic writers, and I've added Jason's The Art of War for Writers to my reference shelf. Outstanding book about writing--I recommend it highly.

Another picture of Cynthia Vespia, who was signing copies of her book The Crescent at the Thursday Book Expo. Female gladiators!!! Let me repeat that--female gladiators!!!!! Cyn's books are a hell of a lot of fun--but I knew that already from reading her Demon Hunter series.

Lizzie T. Leaf, looking absolutely gorgeous as she prepared to sign copies of her book Dead Done Right.  I edit Lizzie and she's one of my favorite writers to work with.

Another of my favorite writers that I edit--that's the glorious LB Gregg on the left, sitting next to Cyn at the AMP bar table. If you look closely, you can see our banner over LB's right shoulder. 

Lucynda Storey, my fabulous editor for the Asphodel series, at the Friday book signing.  That's my Mythos 1: Bride of Death cover in the lower right hand corner.  We all switched up on the promo items, mixing and matching them all week for greater AMP exposure--one of the great benefits of working together as a group to promote each other.

And this would be my husband Shannon, looking adorable and pretending to listen intently before he kills off that Killians in his hand. As far as I was concerned, Shannon won "Husband of the Convention" honors for always double-checking--and sometimes stocking--my promo lane display as soon as he arrived at the convention each night. It didn't take long for the other AMP ladies to learn to appreciate my husband either. By the end of the week, he'd been thoroughly spoiled by all of them.

If anyone else has RT pictures they want to share, just drop me a line!  Because, you might have noticed, there's something missing in all these pictures--me. *grin* Not that it was intentional or anything.

A Month In The Life--Saturday, May 1, 2010

Yep--you get an extra day in this month because this whole past month has been about the Romantic Times convention and this was the last day of it, at least for me.  So May Day was spent  dancing around the flower laden pole that is a book signing at a major event with major authors.

No, I didn't get to sign.  I got to watch and take pictures and run errands, which was total awesomness from my point of view. First off, I was in sneakers and jeans--sheer bliss after five days of misery. I'd determined from the beginning that while I would love to have every single darn book in the ballroom, I had to restrict myself. So I kept to books from writers who'd been especially helpful and/or friendly throughout the week.

First off, then, was the lovely and simply loveable Bobbi Smith.  Aside from hosting and directing the two-day pre convention workshop that was the most helpful event I've ever attended as a writer, Bobbi has one of those absolutely incredible personalities, the kind that makes you believe you can go out and do exactly what she believes you can do. I would happily spend a week or two brewing her coffee and taking phone messages for this woman--and I honestly believe I would learn more doing that that I did in four years of writing classes at college.  She's one of my new idols.

Isn't Bobbi beautiful? I wish I could wear that color pink, but alas!  Too much red in this redhead's hair.

Next on the list was Linnea Sinclair. I really bonded with her and Stacey Kade during their workshop on how to stay inspired, and bonded even more with Linnea when the subject of scam agencies and vanity publishers came up in the author's panel.  She writes kick ass science fiction with kick ass heroines--not hard to understand at all since she's a kick ass kind of gal herself.  It's been a long time since I've dipped my toes in the sci fi pool, and Linnea has convinced me to do it. I can't wait to read her book.

See what I mean? Linnea is an absolute firecracker!

I have to admit, by the end of the week I felt like a Misery-esque number one fan of Jade Lee.  Her characterization workshop completely changed the way I look at my characters and if it weren't for her advice on pitches during the authors' panel, I would never have gotten the requests I did.  But all that aside, it's really hard for me not to totally dig a chick who's as smartass as I am, writes the kind of fantasy I love, seems to have a similar outlook on writing and speculative fiction as I do AND who used my promotional document stands all over her table at the booksigning. It would be the equivalent of Albert Einstien using my abacus to demonstrate the theory of relativity and I totally ate that up.  Here's Jade in one of her more serious moments:

One of my favorite new acquaintances during the entire convention, and once I got over being totallyu gobsmacked by even talking to her, I felt like I'd known her forever.

These pictures, by the way, took place before the doors opened.  After they opened, I wasn't able to get any more great closeups and was barely able to get any books.  Why, you may ask?  Well, because there were at least 3,000 people streaming through the doors as best I could tell.  It got to the point that it was so crowded that it actually hurt to turn to one side and avoid running into someone--which, I might add, very few people other than me and Cynthia Vespia were that worried about.  We did creep upstairs to get a few shots of what the book signing looked like from above. This might help you understand.

Exactly. So while I did fight through the crowds to get books by Stacey Kade, Brett Battles and Robert Gregory Browne, I didn't dare take out my camera. 

We had a great afternoon all in all.  By the time the booksigning was over at three, all of us were exhausted. But, by the same token, I think we were all very happy.  We'd made lots of great new business acquaintances and friends, finally put some faces to the online screen names, and hopefully attracted a slew of new readers to Aspen Mountain Press.  Considering that most of our free time was spent in the bar (go figure) we ended up with a lot of fabulous talks and some amazing photo ops which I am under obligation not to post.

Until the post after this, because there's one more thing to tell you about RT that is really important.

Remember when I was named a finalist in Bobbi Smith's Creative Writing Challenge in the advanced writers' workshop?  I got to wear that badge all week. It's amazing how many people actually take the time to stop you and congratulate you when you have a big FINALIST tag between your boobs.  I'm assuming it was the badge...

At any rate, Saturday was the last big party of the convention.  We had a prom, hosted by Dorchester Publishing.  But it was important to me for another reason entirely: the winner of the Creative Challenge was going to be announced at that party.  All week, I'd pretty much talked myself into believing that one of the other two writers was going to win.  Both of them were talented young writers from what I'd heard of them in class. Besides, my storyline for Deception Enters Stage Left is so damn complicated!  How could anyone possibly judge that manuscript from the first chapter, which is all we submitted for the challenge? Although I knew that chapter was clean technically and set my story up perfectly, I was more than happy to just be named a finalist.  I'd already reaped so many benefits from that finalist position that I didn't dare to dream I'd actually win the darn thing.

So the party starts--and Jade Lee started it by doing the dance to TRHPS's Time Warp and then followed up with It's Raining Men--and there's no sign of any awards ceremony.  We're sitting at out table and Bobbi came up with a teddy bear and congratulated me for being a finalist.  So I thought, Well, that's obvious enough. The bear's cute though. I told the others I just needed to wait until the winner was announced so I could congratulate her and in case we were all called up onstage.

Shannon decided to go have a cigarette so he leaves, and not even ten seconds later Bobbi stands up and heads over to the stage, where they give her the microphone.  I couldn't help but laugh; we were sticking around for this announcement and my husband was going to miss the whole thing.  I opened up the camera and tried to turn it on--the darn batteries were dead.  So karma was already stomping the hint home--you didn't win you didn't win you didn't win...

Bobbi announced the third place finalist first.  To my shock, it wasn't me. The award was between myself and a really lovely young lady named Jennifer who I kept running into on every escalator in the whole darn complex.

But the runner-up's name wasn't Celina. It was Jennifer.  Sandra Hicks (the publisher of AMP) and I just looked at each other in shock.  Then Bobbi said, "And the winner of the Creative Writing Challenge with her manuscript Deception Enters Stage Left is--"

I didn't hear my name. I heard Deception and I was up on my feet, screaming and putting my shaking hands to my face like every Miss USA winner I've ever made fun of in the past.  That whole winning with dignity and grace crap?

Right out the window.

I managed to make it onto the stage without faceplanting--in and of itself a miracle considering I could barely walk--and Bobbi handed me this beautiful plaque with my name and the manuscript name on it (which meant that she'd known all along that I'd won) and then she handed me the microphone while she snapped a medal around my neck. Don't get excited: it was a little plastic medal, but who cares? It was cute. So while I'm juggling plaque, papers and microphone in my trembling hands, I lift the microphone to my lips and all I can think of to say is--


Seriously Celina? Hi?  You couldn't even have come out with a You like me; you really like me? Absolutely and stunningly humiliating. So when I got back to my table, all the AMP ladies hugged me and laughed at me for bawling like a little b*tch and then Bobbi came over and handed me the real bonus prize.

Her agent's phone number.

And right after all this went down, my husband meandered back into the room after his cigarette and I had to face the facts: not only had Shannon missed the whole damn thing, but I didn't even have a picture of it.

Que sera sera.

So there you have it.  We left the party and went to the bar, where we downed two bottles of champagne and toasted each other.  I held on to that teddy bear and plaque like they were the last life jacket on the Titanic and somehow we managed to get through the worst part of the convention.

Saying goodbye.

Total RT stats: Six days. I was given or bought over thirty books. I gave away two hundred water bottles and five hundred document stands. I sent out ten full manuscripts: four to agents and six to publishers. I ran three pairs of hose in two days. I won one major award. I got one agent's phone number. I was introduced to a minimum of twenty-five NYT bestselling authors. I created one hell of a promotional space and had one half of the best 4 by 8 foot long banner there.

And several thousand fantastic memories.

So there you have it: a month in the life.  Now my world goes back to normal. I concentrate solely on writing and editing from here on out, shooting for my 8000 words a day and getting Aurora Regency launched while promoting my new releases and editing AMP manuscripts. I get to focus on my house and family a bit more while I continue to chase after my professional goals.And aside from a few more RT pictures, this month in the life is over. I'm going to take a couple of weeks off (ha! fat chance) and get back into my routine.

Hope you've enjoyed the ride.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Month in the Life--Friday, April 30, 2010

I only got an hour of sleep last night.

I was hurting too badly to get comfortable.  I couldn't sleep anywhere--the bed, the couch, the chair, the floor. Nothing worked.  I finally dozed off for an hour around four, but woke up a little bit after five and just decided to forget about it.  My ankles had both rolled the day before and both were swollen and painful to the touch.  The flats I'd worn for the last two days had literally bruised my feet, so I chucked and went with my boots.  Yeah, I know--heels are a bad idea, but I needed the support for my ankles.

I had to keep telling myself that I only had to make it one more day. One more day of dressing up. One more day of a hectic schedule. One more day of being on my feet.  One more day of pitches.

Just one more day.

After the regular stocking session on Promo Lane and the obligatory smirk beneath the banner in the bar, I limped slowly off to the area set aside for pitch sessions.  The lady in charge of the pitch sessions is a lovely, sweet gal named Patti Lewis.  A reviewer and writer and former bookstore owner, Patti and I would meet up either at the pitch sessions (where she jokingly called me her stalker) or in the smoking area with the other ten smokers at the convention.  Every day, she was dressed beautifully and always with a coordinating hat.  All week, she'd handled the pitch sessions with aplomb and a charming, professional manner.

When I got there on Friday morning, Patti was surrounded by a horde of eager writers. That wasn't new. What was rude was a girl who was haranguing Patti at the top of her voice and butting in as Patti tried to help other people. 

In front of the editors and agents who were watching and waiting for their morning appointments.

I was horrified. Not only was this incredibly rude and bitchy, but it was so unprofessional that it literally made me cringe.  When Patti had finally had enough (and that was MUCH longer than I would have lasted), she told the girl to go sit down and she'd call her when it was her turn.

So instead, naturally, the girl stood three feet away, crying and blubbering to all her little friends about how mean Patti was--again, right in front of the agents and editors. Organizing those pitch sessions was a thankless job, and Patti Lewis did it with such grace and ease that I was more than impressed; I was awed. And for some little beyotch to stand there and bawl about how mistreated she was really made me want to knock her right off her Payless two-for-the-price-of-one-plus-a-dollar 1992 clogs.

I'm not certain how successful the whiny one was, but I certainly was.  I pitched to Tor, Grand Central publishing, Sourcebooks and Jim Mc Carthy of Dystel and Goderich and they all requested the manuscript.  Jim (who'd lost a battle with curry chicken at lunch) and I (who lost a battle with two pairs of hose in twenty minutes and made it to the pitch bare-legged and bitchy) had a great side conversation about Andrew Lloyd Weber, which made that pitch session even more pleasant than it would have been.  I was really quite surprised--these agents and editors were all kind, interested people, who genuinely wanted to like my book from the beginning and didn't scruple to say so.  I like to think I am now a pro pitcher, because on this day I went into those meeting without even the slightest bit of fuss.  It was fabulous.

Never be afraid to sit down and talk with an agent or editor. You'll miss out on an interesting conversation and some really fabulous people if you let your fear get in the way of the interpersonal interactions that can take place when two people are discussing something they both love--books.

Friday was also the Book Expo, where small press and e-published authors got to sign books for their fans.  The final six water bottles (I'd hidden them) and the last fifteen document stands helped identify me to the readers, who stopped by to see me, got some cover flats, ordered some book downloads and generally had fun.  There I am, talking to a young lady whose minor is classical mythology.  We had a great conversation. All in all, the Expo was a lot of fun.

But then, after the Expo was over, everything hit me at once. Once I'd changed into comfortable clothes and replaced the boots with tennis shoes on my poor, abused feet, exhaustion and pain made me into a bona fide martyr.  As a result, my husband took me home and I missed out on Heather Graham's Vampire Ball--which was the one social event I really wanted to attend.  I iced down my ankles--now a lovely shade of green--and went to bed, actually falling asleep before midnight. 

But I did derive a very important lesson from this day at RT--one I'm going to pass on to you.  An aspiring writer has no room for "bitch" in her repertory.  Treat everyone pleasantly (even the agent-who-shall-not-be-named who ditched me for my Friday morning appointment) and act like a professional.  You never know who is watching--and who will remember you as the wannabe diva who acted like a jackass because a real lady of class and dignity didn't have the time to instantly gratify you.

Act like a grownup, FFS. Jesus--how hard is it to do?

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Month In The Life--Thursday, April 29, 2010

So, I'd decided I was going to nail every available pitch session open on the schedule, right?  Well, by gum--I did!  I ended up with ten appointments with both agents and editors from major publishing houses.  My Thursday and Friday were now booked to the point that there would only be a very few workshops I'd be able to attend.  I was quite all right with that turn of events; I was here to promo and sell--and the promo part was going like gangbusters.

I'd come in to a completely empty promotional space yet again. When I walked up with my husband trailing along behind me with a box of water bottles on his shoulder, I was just in time to see some lady rip one of my glued down cover flats from my display.

"Excuse me," I said, removing said cover flat from her hand. "Obviously, since this is glued down, it needs to stay there."

The woman turned redder than my hair. "I'm sorry. I just really like it."

"Well, if you come to the book expo tomorrow, I'll sign this cover for you," I offered kindly. Then, not-quite-as-kindly, I added, "That way you won't have to steal it."

To her credit, she didn't linger while I glued the cover flat back onto the display and restocked the shelves.  In my early naivete, I'd thought that 200 water bottles and 500 document stands along with Eden's 400 magnets for Conference Cupid would keep that space fully stocked. I was totally wrong. I didn't realize exactly how wrong I was until I ran into Jade Lee that afternoon.  I'd given her a few document stands at the pre-con workshop and she told me that she was having to fight to keep them--that everybody wanted them.

Between my promotional freebies and the banner (also known as That-which-shall=be-always-bolded), my name was literally all over the place.  I was wearing the big tag on my badge that read FINALIST from Bobbi Smith's writing challenge, which led a lot of people (morticians especially) to stare at my chest like I'd grown a third boob.  That being said, the FINALIST tag was invaluable to me during my pitch sessions that day.  It was an automatic indication that I wrote well enough at least to impress Bobbi Smith, and the agents and editors took notice. I pitched to Ellora's Cave, Harlequin and Miriam Kriss of Irene Goodman.  I ptiched Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency on the go, trotting alongside her while she went to the convenience store.  I only had a chance to tell Ethan Ellenberg my pitch after the Agent's Panel workshop--and all five requested manuscripts.  The first two or three pitches were rambling and confusing IMO--I hadn't quite nailed down the technique yet.  By the end of the day, however, I had one hell of a tagline that paid off in huge dividends: Something Wicked This Way Comes meets contemporary American theatre.

That night, we met up with Brett, Robert, and James (the three writers from the night before) as well as my husband. Escorted by FOUR men, which no other table in the party could lay claim to, we went to the Fairy Ball. I wasn't in costume, althought I did dress nicely and wore one of the Carnival masks my daughter and I had made the week before--claiming that I was going as the fat, flightless fairy.

Yep. I was the dodo of the Faerie Ball.

The event was beautiful and the food was good. The entire event was marred only by the volunteers who were serving as the seating Gestapo, one of whom told me that my approaching back surgery "wasn't her problem" when I meekly asked if I could just go in and sit just inside the door. Other than Frau Goebbels, the evening was lovely and we came away with a lot of fantastic books.  I ended up with several books by CT Adams and Cathy Clamp--which made me very happy as Cathy is a regular at Absolute Write.

One last quick trip to the once-again-empty promo lane spot, and I hobbled to the car--literally.  My physician's comment that "There's no way you'll make it all week" was starting to look like a potential prophecy. 

A Month In The Life--Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ah...the first full day of the RT convention!

I was excited for lots of reasons. First off, the AMP ladies got in yesterday for the most part.  It was really great to meet my EIC, Sandra Hicks, for the first time--and Laura Baumbach, who is the EIC of MLR Press and a legend as far as I'm concerned.  But I also got to meet some of the writers I edit.  LB Gregg is adorable--little and sassy and spunky and shoes I would quite frankly kill for.  Helen Hardt is tall and elegant and drop dead gorgeous; Sam Cheever has the market cornered on cute and manages to do more things at one time than I do without looking like a spaz--like I do.  Lizzie T. Leaf took one look at me and instantly adopted me, I think.  Instantly, our relationship went from editor-writer to younger sister-older sister.  She told me what to do all week and I loved it.  Then, my husband went to pick Cynthia Vespia up at the airport this morning--she's staying with us in Lancaster.

The first thing I did this morning was head over to my spot on promotional lane.  Last night, I went to set it up and realized that we'd left the cover flats at home.  You know: the things with my names on them? Otherwise, all I had was a shelving unit with some Carnival masks hung on a board covered with fabric.  I ended up putting a few water bottles and document stands on the shelves, thinking I'd come back this morning and fill it all up.

Much to my surprise, it was totally empty this morning. Nary a bottle or document stand to be found. So, I decorated the space as I'd originally intended and stepped back to take a look.

No one else on Promo Lane had anything like I did.  Most of the other writers were giving away bookmarks in baskets.  So when this hit the convention:

--it got a lot of attention.  It also stayed fairly empty throughout the week, even to the point where people would grab them out of my hands while I was trying to restock.  Great fun overall, though--by the end of the convention I'd had my promo items, bookmarks from Lizzie, magnets from Eden Elgabri, flyers from Cynthia Vespia all on my promotion spot and every single darn thing was GONE.  We amused ourselves by wondering how many authors would go vertical next year with raspberry colored water bottles and red document stands in LA next year, and then by coming up with increasingly more outrageous ideas for what I'll do.  I'm thinking lights and fountains.

After all--it is LA.

I hit a couple of workshops on Wednesday afternoon, but the most important things I had to do were agent/editor appointments.  I had two scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and I was nervous about pitching to them.  I wasn't one hundred percent sure of what I was doing, so I took the time after lunch to narrow down and perfect my verbal pitch, implementing the information I'd learned the day before from the writers' panel at the pre-con workshop about pitches.  So when time arrived to pitch I was ready.

And I was stood up. TWICE.  Two totally different people from entirely different companies pulled no-call, no-shows for their appointments.  I found out later that the no-call no-shows were completely beyond their control, but that didn't help matters at the time.  I was pissed, and in my opinion, rightfully pissed and that was the state of my mind all the way through until the opening night party.

The first party was Ellora Cave's tenth birthday party and, as you can imagine, it was a little bit on the wild side.  We hung out there for a little while and then returned to the bar, where we could drink and gaze upon the beauty that was the banner--the book covers LB and I had put on that banner that now every drunk at the convention was staring at.  Those drunks (and not so drunks) were in turn stared at by the morticians' convention that was sharing top billing with Romantic Times.  I thought it was about the funniest thing I'd ever heard of: romance writers and funeral directors?  How funny!

I continued to think so until the next night. More on that later.

At any rate, I'd decided that I was going to nail down every single free spot on the pitch session schedule the next morning.  The workshops were all fine and good, but I was at RT to pitch my manuscript and that had to take priority.  Back in the bar, we befriended a trio of male writers: Brett Battles, James Scott Bell and Robert Gregory Browne.

 After a long evening of writer talk and quite a few beers, we all went our separate ways.