Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July - the month in random pictures

So, July started out with a derecho, which is apparently the meteorological term for a crazy scary storm with gigantic hail and 80 mph winds. We lost power for three days—three brutally hot days with no AC, running water (we’re on a well), or *sob* internet. But that wasn't the worst of it.  No electricity meant no this:

Without a functioning flat iron (which, incidentally, I consider the most important technological advance of the last century) I could scarcely leave the house.  It’s a testament to my pioneering spirit that I muddled through . . . and turned book 2 into my editor on time before heading to the beach with the family.

The beach was so peaceful and laid back, we felt like we were 300 miles away.  Oh wait, we were 300 miles away. As you can see, the weather was iffy:

The rain was a bummer.  On the bright side, the week was blessedly free of derechos. Plus, rain showers meant more time to visit to one of my all-time favorite beach destinations: the Island Book Store in Kitty Hawk, where I picked up these:

I recommend them all. Love these authors!

And as long as I’m recommending things, I should add these to the list:

Anyway, we had a great time, and the trusty mini-van got us back home.  Now, I'm in the midst of prepping for RWA’s annual conference in Anaheim.

As you may know, here on the blog I have a long-standing tradition of writing detailed accounts of my harrowing awards ceremony dress shopping experiences. This year, however, the process was relatively drama-free. I went to one store, tried on five dresses from the clearance rack, and walked out with two. The whole trip took an hour.

Awesome, . . . except. A successful shopping trip makes for a dreadfully boring blog post. But never fear! I feel certain that I shall be able to deliver more dressing room drama in the future.

Earlier this week I also made my annual (okay, more like quarterly) pilgrimage to my happy place:

I got two pairs of shoes.  Well, three if you count these:

These should work with a few conference outfits:

The other pair is practical and *cough*…comfortable. We’ll leave it at that. Avert your eyes. No photos, nothing to see, move along, folks.

And now that RWA is almost here, I’m really excited. This is my first conference since selling and even though my book isn’t out yet, I’ll be at the Grand Central signing on Saturday from 12 to 1:30. I might even get to sign and give away some ARCs:

And I have lots of shiny new bookmarks to hand out:

I think all that’s left to do is pack.  (Well, that and a marathon hair appointment on Friday. Seriously, I've already warned my kids they're on they're own for lunch and dinner.)

If you’re going to RWA, you’ve probably seen the packing lists and videos with expert packing tips. My advice? Don’t stress about it. You’ll be fine. As long as you have this:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Meet Anabelle...

I'm so excited to share the cover for my debut novel! I just LOVE it. I think I need to bake cookies for the entire team at Forever Romance. *happy sigh*

I know. I've been a bad little blogger--I'm sorry! I'll catch you up on all the latest right now.

First, you probably already noticed my catchy new title--WHEN SHE WAS WICKED. I like that it has the same sass as PROPER MISS'S GUIDE TO BAD BEHAVIOR and hints that Anabelle is up to something. In case you're wondering, the scroll she's holding is her List of Nevers--things she vows NEVER to do. But she may end up doing a few...

Second, the release date for WHEN SHE WAS WICKED is (drumroll, please) . . . January 29, 2013! A couple weeks before Valentine's Day. How sweet is that?!

Third, I've made plans to attend RWA Nationals in Anaheim this summer. I'm rooming with the fabulous, talented Lisa Connelly, who probably has no idea that my hair products alone take up half of the bathroom counter.

Lastly, the wonderful Frauke at CrocoDesigns is working on my new website. I can't wait to see what she creates for me. I think this is what a Regency debutante must have felt like after she visited the modiste and was waiting to see her ballgown... Except with a website, blessedly, there's absolutely no danger of my butt looking big.

In the meantime, I'm posting news on my new Facebook author page. This morning I had only 11 Likes, and now I'm up to 37. (Only 36,309 more to go to tie Lisa Kleypas. Woot!)

Anyway, I think that's all the news. I'm hard at work on the next book, which features Anabelle's sister, Daphne. Everybody thought she was the good sister, but it turns out she has a few secrets too...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Keli's Cover!

My wonderful friend and critique partner, Keli Gwyn, just got the cover for her debut novel. Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?

Keli is an amazing writer, and I'm so excited that her book will be on the shelves in a few (okay, about six and a half) months.

Keli is one of the nicest people on the face of the planet. Find out for yourself by visiting her website or blog, liking her Facebook page, or following her on Twitter.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goodbye, Lucky Writing Chair

So, it turns out that I'm rough on furniture--chairs, specifically. Allow me to present Exhibit A, my writing chair for the past year.

It was in perfectly good condition when I took it from the dining room to replace my old desk chair, which looked a lot like the one above, if you can picture it with a leg falling off.

I know, it's not pretty, but this is bound to happen when you log lots of hours at the computer, right? You mean it's just me? Oh.

Anyway, I knew the chair was looking shabby, but it still functioned. It had been with me through a couple of manuscripts, supporting me in good times and bad. It might have even been a little lucky. (Not that I'm superstitious.) We writers can't just toss aside something as important as a chair without giving it serious thought. Right? Just me again? Huh.

Well, today my husband and son surprised me with an early Christmas present:

I was very touched. And very skeptical. I mean, it's so pretty. A chair this perfect is like a heroine without a flaw--lacking character. This is not some fru-fru decoration for a showroom. I need something tough (obviously.)

But seeing as my husband braved the mall on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I figured the least I could do was give the new chair a try, so I did.

I'm happy to report that it's surprisingly comfortable. It doesn't rain little bits of foam on the floor each time I stand. Best of all, it has some decent mojo. I got my daily words done, no problem.

So, I'm saying goodbye to my old lucky writing chair. Here's hoping that the new one is just as lucky.

And a whole lot tougher than it looks.

What do you think? Want to take bets on how long the new chair will last? What's your lucky item?

Friday, September 30, 2011


I'm hosting a free-for-all Friday with the Rubies today! The topic: libraries.

Remember flipping through library card catalogs? How about reading journal articles on microfiche? Ah, those were the days. Pop over and share your favorite library memory for a chance to win a Barnes & Noble gift card!

What's Your Favorite Library Memory?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Notes from 2011 RWA Nationals

Without further ado, my notes from RWA:

The Golden Network Retreat

The retreat consisted of two editor and agent panels. There was lots of talk about e-books and how they’ll affect the publishing industry in the long-term. There was not a consensus. In fact, there was the opposite of a consensus. But here are some panelists’ comments on the topic, as scribbled in my notebook:

  • E-book royalty rates will evolve

  • Book piracy seems less prevalent than music piracy

  • E-publishing is working especially well for short fiction (novellas and short stories)

  • Authors should strive to be successful in all the streams of media

  • Authors should make e-books part of a combined strategy (i.e., publish a novella at a low price before making backlist available electronically)

  • When publishing with an electronic-only press, it’s especially important for authors to have a solid online presence

  • E-books won’t replace print any more than TV replaced movies

  • But format does matter

Regarding self-publishing:

  • Authors should be careful of how they price e-books and avoid undervaluing their work

  • There are 700k self published authors on Amazon; only a handful sell more than a few thousand copies

Agent Donald Maas, on successful novelists:

  • They have something to say

  • They write stories that grab readers by the gut or the heart

  • They come from an authentic and genuine place and give a unique perspective

On the role editor/author partnership (from various panelists):

  • The editor is the author’s advocate

  • The editor wants to set the author up for success—that means matching the offer/deal with what’s going to happen in reality

  • The goal is to get an accumulation of titles on the shelf, each story better than the last

The Opening Session

The featured speakers were Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen. I'll be honest, I haven’t read any of their books. After hearing them speak, I can’t wait to read their books. The session was riveting and my note-taking sketchy. (I’d like to get the conference recordings and listen to the whole thing again.) Here are a few highlights:

Steve Berry wrote for 12 years and received 85 rejections before he sold his first book.

  • He compared promoting a book to running for president and recommends writing thank you notes.

  • When asked about the impact of e-books, he said that publishing is just getting bigger, and this is nothing new: the earliest writing was on stone, then clay, papyrus, and paper . . . and the next medium is ones and zeros (e-books).

  • The weirdest mail he ever received was from a woman asking him, “Do you sweat when you write?”

Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling novel, Outlander, was her “practice novel.”

  • She classifies characters as onions (3-dimensional characters with lots of layers to peel away), mushrooms (characters that pop up as needed and then walk out) and hard nuts (historical characters who are tough to crack).

  • She has 3 rules for writers: (1) read--so you can know what you like and what you don’t; (2) write; and (3) don’t stop.

Tess Gerritsen, who's also a physician, likes to throw a mystery at herself (often taken from the headlines) and see what develops.

  • She says that readers want to know secrets.

  • She comes up with an intriguing scenario and lets organic things happen.


Here are a few of my favorites.

What Would Joss Whedon Do? Using TV Tricks to Write Snappy, Funny Dialogue -- presented by Molly Harper. I loved this workshop. Lots of great examples and tips for writing fun dialogue. Rather than recount them all here, I’ll refer you to the wonderful slide show that Molly Harper generously made available on her website.

Uniting Plot Structure and Character Arc – presented by Michael Hauge. I admit it--I’m a fangirl, particularly of his DVD, The Hero’s 2 Journeys. I like to watch it every time I start a new story. It’s like referring to a recipe before you start throwing random ingredients into the pot.

  • A great story requires the heroine to make two journeys.

  • The outer journey is her pursuit of a visible goal. It’s a journey of accomplishment and it defines the plot.

  • The heroine’s inner journey is a journey of transformation, where she goes from living in fear (her identity) to living courageously (her essence).

  • Hauge also has a six stage plot structure. Good stuff.

The Historical Romance Market: Advice from the Pros – presented by Victoria Alexander, Stephanie Laurens, and Lauren McKenna. I never miss a chance to hear Victoria Alexander or Stephanie Laurens speak. They are such talented, warm, and generous authors. They fielded questions from the audience--here’s a sampling of their wit and wisdom.

  • When asked about trends in the historical market, Victoria A. said “Victorian Vampires have a lot of potential. Not for me, cause I like a man who can go out during the day.”

  • Things that piss her off: “Extensive internet charges at hotels and stories without end.”

  • Stephanie Laurens said the Regency period is so popular because it resonates with the modern audience. It was a time in history (as now) when men and women could marry for love, marry for obligation, or choose not to marry.

  • She said the average age of marriage in Regency England was 24.

  • "Gnomes and trolls aren't sexy."

  • Her advice on creating good conflict: "What pleases the heroine should piss the hero off. And vice versa."

Writing the English-Set Historical – presented by Jo Beverley (in a lovely English accent). Jo Beverley is another generous and talented author. Her presentation was geared toward helping North American writers avoid mistakes with English history, language, and culture. Much of the information is available on her website, along with other excellent resources. She advises writers to somehow explain dark-haired dukes, as the aristocratic gene pool is neither swarthy nor dark. And they don’t have much chest hair either.

I thought this chart was fun and helpful too--American terms translated into proper English:

  • Britches = breeches

  • Vest = waistcoat

  • Sidewalk = pavement

  • Block = street

  • Fall = autumn

  • English muffin= crumpet

  • Gotten=not used (avoid!)


Just typing these notes has made me nostalgic for Nationals in New York City. Sure, there was the rat on the sidewalk that scampered a little too close to my toes. And that guy on the train who tried to walk off with my suitcase.

But mostly, it was writing friends, informative workshops, passionate late-night discussions (fueled by wine), and endless inspiration.

Three-hundred sixty-seven days till Anaheim. Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 11, 2011

First Sale Party: A Royal Celebration!

Anne received The Call!

I’m Keli Gwyn, one of Anne’s critique partners. Having read a number of her stories, I knew this day would come. Anne is a talented writer, and now you’re going to be able to read her work, too—in published form. :)

Anne, how long have you been writing your Regency-set romances, and what have been some of the highlights on your path to publication?

I’ve been writing for five years, almost to the day. The reason I remember is because on July 3, 2006 as I sat on a beach looking up at fireworks, I thought to myself, why not? This is America, darn it--anything’s possible! The very next day, I began writing my first manuscript with the goal of entering it in the Golden Heart. It didn’t final, but finishing it is a feeling I’ll never, ever forget.

My second manuscript did final in the Golden Heart, and the most wonderful thing about that experience was stepping away from the computer, attending my first conference, and meeting other romance writers (including you!) It was great to discover the world of RWA and all its talented, generous authors.

I kept writing, and at my chapter retreat the next year, I pitched my third manuscript to Helen Breitwieser, who offered representation on my birthday. Best present ever!

Then, this year, my fourth and fifth manuscripts finaled in the Golden Heart . . . and THE PROPER MISS’S GUIDE TO BAD BEHAVIOR won.

I shouted myself hoarse when you won the Golden Heart in the Regency Historical category. What thoughts went through your mind when the presenter, Courtney Milan, pulled the card from the envelope at the RWA® Awards Ceremony and read your name?

Do you want the brutally honest answer or the also true, but made-for-blog-post response?

Both. :)

BHA: No coherent thoughts, just a loud buzzing in my ears. Then, dread that I’d have a panic attack at the podium that would prevent me from ever showing my face at Nationals again. Finally, blessed relief.

MFBPR: I have to admit that I dreamed about that moment, probably hundreds of times, in the same sort of way one dreams about winning the lottery. You never think it will actually happen. Receiving the award from our fellow Pixie, Courtney, was really special. I’m glad I got to publicly thank you and Lisa (my other CP) and my friends and family and I hope I didn’t leave anyone out, but I was so nervous I probably did. I had so much fun meeting the other finalists and am honored to be part of that amazing group.

What a fabulous Friday that was. The following week, you received the BIG news that your Golden Heart-winning story had sold. Please share your Call Story with us.

I was doing the lacrosse mom thing, hanging out on the sidelines and chatting with parents when my agent, Helen, called. As she told me about the offer, I started pacing (which I do whenever I get excited). We both felt like Grand Central Forever was the perfect fit for me and my story. I’d had a chance to talk to the editor, Selina McLemore, at the RWA conference and was beyond thrilled to find out I’d get to work with her. My husband picked me up and took me to the local pub where I had an iced tea and a heaping plate of nachos.

And it’s a two-book contract, too! Woohoo! I’ve been happy dancing for you for days as the deal came together. Now that it has, what can you tell us about the book? Do you have a title or release date yet? Would you give us a sneak peek at the story line?

Here’s the notice that appeared in Publisher’s Marketplace:

2011 Golden Heart winner in the Regency Historical category Anne Barton's THE PROPER MISS'S GUIDE TO BAD BEHAVIOR, pitched as Project Runway meets Downton Abbey, to Selina McLemore of Forever, in a two-book deal, by Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary (World).

It’s a bit of a Cinderella story—a lowly seamstress with nothing but talent and passion dares to rise above her station and pursue her wildest dreams. And if that means extorting money from a handsome duke, then so be it . . .

I don’t know what the title or exact release date will be, but I’ll share as soon as I do.

Since you spent several years awaiting this milestone event, I’m sure you’ve learned many things. Any words of wisdom?

No advice, really. But I will say that when it comes to writing partners I wish everyone could be as lucky as I’ve been. It’s so helpful to have positive, thoughtful, and talented friends like you on this journey.

Thank you for hosting this wonderful celebration and for sharing in my excitement!

I’m sooo happy for you, Anne, as I know many are! I’ve got some virtual fare for your visitors. I invite them to help themselves to spot of tea, grab some of the delectable goodies on the table, and share in the celebration by leaving you a comment.

A Plethora of Prizes

Since Anne writes Regency-set romance, I chose several items with a Regency or British theme for a drawing. To enter, leave a comment for Anne, making sure to include your email address in the field when prompted. On the evening of July 12th, I’ll choose ten winners, one for each of the prizes pictured below.

Two copies of Emma, the A&E version starring Kate Beckinsale
Two copies of Persuasion, the BBC version starring Ciaran Hinds
Two copies of Becoming Jane starring Anne Hathaway
Two varieties of English tea with a cute teapot spoon
Two floral tea bag holders (U.S. made, sorry, but still cute)

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Prizes will be mailed to U.S. addresses only.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

First five images are from istockphoto.