Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blood Will Tell--July 11

Not only does Blood Will Tell have a gorgeous cover, it has a real, official release date!

***July 11, 2007***

And here's a little excerpt from the very beginning:

The shadows moved.
Cecelia Barnes quickened her pace through the dark parking lot. There’s nothing there. It’s just your imagination.
But the night was closing in on her, airless and fetid like a tomb. Her car was only fifty feet or so away. It seemed an impossible distance.
Why had she let her assistant, Doug, go home? He’d left only half an hour ago. Her work could have waited. Hell, he could have waited.
Then she wouldn’t be alone now, her breath unnaturally loud in her ears and her heart beginning to pound.
Something clanked, metal against cement, to her left. She turned quickly, gasping, the South Florida heat searing her lungs, the sweat on her brow turning ice-cold.
The hubcap on the pavement still vibrated in the foggy steam of the night, as if someone had moved it to climb into the sewer…or out of it.
Running now, she shifted the keys in her hand until the point of her car key protruded from between her index and middle fingers. She’d taken a self-defense class the year before. A key could scratch out eyes, or puncture a windpipe.
Unfortunately, she had not learned how to use a key to attack when grabbed from behind and dragged backward. She tried to scream but was able only to emit a choked-sounding squawk. She writhed against the arms that held her, her hands clawing ineffectually at them, her feet battling to kick or make solid purchase on the pavement.
Three men stood in a loose circle around her, their eyes gleaming as they watched her struggle. Another scream disappeared from her throat when the man closest to her opened his mouth in a wide, open grin, and she saw his fangs.
Ohmygodthey’revampiresohholyshitthey’re FUCKING VAMPIRES—
There was a shout behind her. Cecelia tried to turn her head to see what was happening, but she was held fast. Her thin silk blouse tore as she tried to wriggle free.
Another shout, closer this time. The vampires looked up, tracking the source of the sound. Time slowed as the greedy expressions on their faces turned to fear. The arms holding her loosened, and as she fell to the hard pavement, just before her vision went black, she saw a man with a face like an angel’s leap forward to attack her captors.
* * * * *
That face was the first thing she saw when the world came back into focus.
“You’re the angel,” she said.
The man seated close to her raised an elegant eyebrow. “I know,” he replied. “But we must never speak of it again.”
This struck Cecelia as a rather un-angelic thing to say, and she frowned. “Am I dead?”
“Do you feel dead?”
She struggled to sit up, her elbows sinking into soft fabric. “Not really.”
“Well then.”
She frowned again. He might have the face of an angel—his dark hair framed perfect, strong features—but he was definitely not anything but a man.
“What happened? Where am I?”
“Clichés, clichés,” he said, waving a pale, long-fingered hand. “Is this where I tell you that you’re in heaven and the Kumbaya sing-along will start at any moment?”
“Excuse me, but fuck you,” she said. “I’m in a place I’ve never seen before. I’m pretty sure I was attacked. I don’t think it’s untoward to ask where I am. Or who you are, for that matter.”
“But you haven’t asked who I am,” he pointed out. His tone was reasonable and his voice mellifluous, with an accent that hinted vaguely of green fields and stone buildings.
“You’re English,” she said.
“Yes. Is that relevant?”
“I don’t know. Is it?”
“Only if you’d like to discuss the Queen.”
“I wouldn’t.”
“Well, I suppose it isn’t relevant then. Shall we move on?” She was fascinated by his face as he spoke. His skin was smooth and pale, his large dark eyes expressive. He was at once very, very handsome—she had not been wrong to think he looked like an angel—and very haughty.
He watched her expectantly, his eyes gleaming, like he was waiting for—what? More questions? An accusation? Maybe he was waiting for her to throw off her tattered top and beg him to leap on top of her. Which, she was slightly ashamed to admit, was an option she could consider. He really was devilishly handsome.
“So who are you? And what the hell am I doing here? Where are the police? Did you call them?”
He smiled. His teeth were very white, and his smile changed his face, drove the coldness away and made him look almost wholesome. Her breath caught.
“My name is Julian Mansfield,” he said. “And I saved your life.”
When she didn’t respond immediately, he asked, “What’s wrong? No sharp reply?”
But she couldn’t speak, not at first. It all came back to her, the horror of the dark still night, the vampiric faces in front of her, sharp teeth in cavernous mouths like ivory stalactites gleaming dully in the moonlight.
Not to mention that she’d never in her life met a man with such a flair for the dramatic. Something in the way he spoke made her itch to take him down a peg or two.
“Like yourself much, Mr. Mansfield?”
“As much as I like anyone,” he said. “And do call me Julian. Most women do, when they’re in my bed after I save their lives.”
“You do this a lot?”
“I don’t like to toot my own horn.”
“I seriously doubt that,” she said.
“Tsk tsk. We’ve only just met and you’re already so judgmental.”
Feeling that the whole conversation had somehow become absurd, Cecelia sat up completely. “No more jokes,” she said. “Who were they? How did you come to be there and how did you beat them? And, since you didn’t answer me before, where exactly am I?”
“You were attacked,” he said. “In the parking lot of the Butler Medical Research Center. I’m not sure who they were. I was walking by with some friends and I suppose we scared them off. And you’re at my house, as I mentioned, in my bed.”
“But they were—” She stopped. Were they vampires? Really? She’d never believed in such things. She was a scientist. Scientists don’t believe in vampires.
But she hadn’t imagined those teeth. She knew it.
Julian was watching her expectantly. “They were—?”
She shook her head. She certainly wasn’t about to tell this aristocratic, extremely good-looking man that she thought she’d seen vampires. He would laugh at her.
Then he would try to have her committed.

I had a "real" post planned, but I hope you guys will be okay with waiting for tomorrow, because I am waaay too excited today!

(There is and will be more excerpty goodness over at my new Yahoo group--the link is at the bottom of the sidebar to the right!)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Some Friday Thoughts

I finished final edits on Blood Will Tell yesterday, and got a look at the cover. Color me waaay excited, I'm hoping to be able to post the cover and release date in the next week!

This was hands-down the most fun editing process ever. I love my new editor (I loved the old one, too--I never got to actually edit with her, sadly, but she was a cool chica.) I had great fun adding some hot new stuff to the book, too, and trimming a few other bits--editing, in other words. Duh.

So now, in addition to trying to finish another project--which I've been unable to touch this week because I have a two-year-old who refuses to be off my lap for more than twenty minutes a day (another reason why I haven't been commenting on blogs as much--I'm reading, but typing with one hand is such a pain in the ass)--I'm thinking of what I plan to do with the other characters in the book.

One of the fun things about writing vampires is they live forever. So while I have at least two, and possibly three or more, books to do in the contemporary Miami setting, I have some historical stuff in mind as well, which I think is going to be a blast. I can't wait to get going on all of it. (Although the one short project I had in mind won't work anymore, as the concept behind the vampire changed.)

Anyway. I'm thinking of titles, and how I'd like to keep the word "Blood" in all of them. (This is the longest setup for a stupid obscure movie reference in the world, btw.) Blood on the Rocks, Blood and Fire, Blood and Smoke, Blood in the Afternoon, that sort of thing (I gave Anna J the best one, though, "Blood and Dust". It's hers to keep). And I thought, wouldn't it be fun to do a vampire sea captain book, and call it Blood and Swash?

And if the hero looks like Rex Harrison, so much the better, because I dig Rex. In fact, I have a post planned for the coming week which involves him again. Wierd.

And I had another fun little thing I was going to discuss here but I don't remember now. Oh, and I blogged over at Deliciously Naughty Writers today--this week's topic was sexy movie/book lines, ones we wrote and ones we remember from others. So check it out, if you're so inclined.

Anyway. So yes,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What I Am Not, and Never Have Been

I am not now, and have never been, a "pre-published" writer. Or rather, I guess I was, in the sense that I had contracted work that had not yet been published, but I never called myself pre-published.

I hate the term, for a number of reasons.

Or maybe just one, now that I think of it. I hate it because of the silly, smiley, happy-dappy implication of it. The implication that of course you'll be published one day, it just hasn't happened yet! You'll be published because you deserve to be, because everybody who writes a book deserves to be, because there's no such thing as a good or bad book! All books are equally worthy and good!


This attitude is crap.

People who have special skills deserve recognition for them. Are you really going to tell me that To Kill A Mockingbird or The Scarlet Letter or even Bag of Bones deserve to be placed on the same miserable, low level as the badly punctuated, cliched, and dull ramblings of some basement dweller with the intellectual capacity of a goat?

Words mean something. Their meanings are fluid, yes, but coy alterations of them for the sake of false self-esteem should be anathema to the writer. Does calling yourself "pre-published" really make you feel better? Isn't it like telling yourself a lie? A writer's job is to seek the truth, not hide behind cutesy phrases designed to justify themselves to the rest of the world.

Real "self-esteem" comes from accomplishing real things. It comes from doing the best we can. Not from pretending we're all just as good as everyone else (at anything but its most base, equality-under-law level) or lowering standards or making up sweet little adjectives so we can smile and feel all snuggly. You can call yourself "pre-published" until the cows come home, but that doesn't mean you are actually going to be published. Ever.

And it's not even creative, for fuck's sake. Pre-published? Is that like almost-employed? Pre-millionaire? Pre-married? (Actually, you could probably confuse strange men attempting to pick you up with that last one.)

But the worst thing about it is the idea that an unpublished writer has to justify themselves. That they have to slip the word "published" in there to make people respect what you're doing. Fuck them! Who cares what they think? Why would you be ashamed that you're still honing your craft? Do gymnasts call themselves "pre-Olympics? Pre-champion?"

Say it loud, I'm unpublished and I'm proud. And there are no guarantees in life.

Couple of things: I suspect the switch to the new blogger template thingie messed up something with my feed. Can anyone confirm or deny?

I have a Yahoo group, and it has an actual member! I finally gave in and started the darned Yahoo group, despite my general aversion to them. I can't promise I'll be posting there all the time, but I plan to, and I plan to do a monthly newsletter. So go sign up, if you want.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It Sucks Being Nearsighted

Oh yes it does.

My prescription (last time I got one), for those of you who are also nearsighted and so find such things as fascinating as new moms find baby weights and poop, was a -9.

But it's been, oh, four years or so since I had an eye exam, and my eyes keep getting worse.

For the last few weeks I thought they were getting a lot worse, worryingly so, before I finally took out my contacts (I know in the world of responsible people, "extended wear" does not mean "wear without removing for months". But that ain't my world, friends) and realized why my vision was so cloudy all the time. Because the lenses were yucky and cloudy and smudgy. Pretty awful.

So now I'm on my last pair (actually not yet, I'm doing one of my repentant wear-glasses-for-a-week things), so I'm going to have to go get another exam soon, and since I'm not in Florida I can't go to my best friend's brother, who is a great optomotrist or opthalmologist or whichever it is who does my eye exams for free because I'm his sister's best friend. (But if any of you are ever in the West Palm Beach area, and need an eye exam, email me and I'll tell you where to go. In a nice way, not in the way implied by the phrase "I'll tell you where to go." Which sounds like the next sentence should be "To HELL!! MUAHAHAHA!")

It's especially fun being nearsighted when you're married to someone with the Best Vision in the World, so good his eye doctors burst into tears, who likes to smugly remind you of that fact whenever the subject comes up. "I wouldn't know, because my vision is actually too perfect for their silly instruments to measure. Ha ha!"

So. Still fiddling with the new site, still looking for comments if you have time. Is anyone else noticing slow loading? Also, V95, you see I have changed my icon. It's me again, a pic of me holding the Faerie (I cropped her out but you can see her ear.)

And if anyone has an ideas how I can tell the sweet lady who designed and hosted my old site, who is a really good person and a friend, that I'm switching away from her, that would be great. I know what I'll probably say, but suggestions are always helpful.

I may post more later.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Feedback and stuff

So first thanks again to everyone who offered thoughts and suggestions re: the website. On Sam's suggestion, I checked out and started playing around there last night.

So. This is my old site.

This is the one I'm playing around with. I'm going to add the "Books" page, with clickable images of all my covers, which send you to the book's individual page with reviews and excerpts and buy links, which I couldn't figure out how to do really well on the old site. It's very, very easy to import images and put them wherever you want on the Moonfruit template.

The biggest problem with the new site is, I can't import my rose tile background from the old one (I can't import any graphic backgrounds to Moonfruit, as far as I can tell) and I can't import the cool background from the site to my blog here (can't get an html code for it.) Moonfruit does a blog but I like blogger (despite the &%@$! with Beta) and don't want to switch.

So essentially, I need to either switch to a plain background on the site to match a new plain background here, or they have to not match. Which I don't know how I feel about that.

Eventually I'll be able to get a cool graphic logo to put on the top of the blog and site to unify them at least that much, but for the moment I can't afford it. :-)

So. If anyone has a minute, could you check them out and tell me what you think?

Also, as you'll see if you have a look at the "News" thing on the new site, I'm very happy to report another sale to EC! My crit partner/writing partner/most excellent buddy Anna J. Evans and I wrote a paranormal menage this winter called "Demon's Triad", and it will be the first in a series called "Dangerous Magic". We are incredibly excited because the book ROCKS, seriously.

So that's four sales to EC for me!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Website Thoughts

Okay, so I've been thinking. (What a shock, I know.)

I've been thinking about my website. I really like the colors of the site. I like the rose-prtal background (as you can see, because I imported it here to my blog. Although the blog still doesn't look as nice as I'd hope, which kind of creates a problem given the topic of this post.) Which is, I'd like to change my website.

See, when I originally planned the site, there were a lot of sites out there that looked a lot like it. Now the emphasis seems to be on graphic headers and having individual pages for each book, which I would love to have.

I think my site is a little difficult to navigate, and since I have three things already lined up to release this year (and I'm still waiting for news on a few other things, and the year is still young!), I do really need the site to be cleaned up. I'd like to redesign it.

But, as you can see from some of the more clumsy aspects of the blog, I'm not really a good webdesigner. Plus, as I sad on one of my cover art forms, as a visual artist I'm a pretty good writer. Visual flair is simply not something I've been endowed with, ever. I can recognize really cool shit, but I can't come up with really cool shit as a rule. When I was younger, a friend of mine and I used to make playhouses in the dirt with sticks--well, we'd outline them, like making a floorplan. It was more fun than it sounds, I promise. hers were always really cool, and mine were always really dull. In an attempt to add flair, I'd create crazy long hallways or something, like a rabbit burrow. But it just looked kind of dumb. Anyway. I don't stink at it now--I can dress myself and decorate a home, stuff like that--but really, I'm lacking the visual spark. perhaps because my vision is so bad. :-)

Plus, I really like the girl who designed my site, and she did just what I asked her to do. The problem is I don't have the £ to pay for another redesign. I wanted to do it all myself.

It's not just this site. I'm hoping to do some other work under a different name, and that name will need a site as well. (Fingers crossed.)

Does anyone have any suggestions? Any thoughts? A good, inexpensive program so I can design it all myself, maybe?

(Finished a project last night! I've written almost 30k words in the last week and a half, yay me!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Give 'em what they want

Should I?

Should any writer?

I'm starting edits on Blood Will Tell with my faboo editor, and so I'm also planning what other books I want to do with some of the secndary characters, or do I want to do books with secondary characters, and if so, what kinds of books?

I'd love to do a series. I almost always think of ways I can use the characters again, or do books with other characters in that world, or whatever. Because I think series are fun. As a reader I love them. I love to get to know a set of characters, to be familiar with their pasts and their possible futures. It adds another dimension of enjoyment to my reading experience.

But that's what makes me wary.

My reading fun has been spoiled one too many times of late, with series that take a turn for the worse and just keep going down. I'll leave out the obvious example (LKH who?) and head for Kay Scarpetta territory. The last three of four Scarpetta books have been...monstrous disappointments, putting it mildly.

And I know we're all familiar with authors who, when fan reaction to their latest books is poor, tend to throw their "these are MY characters" card in the air and storm off in a huff.

Maybe because I've spent so many years now having at least peripheral dealings with the comics/fangirl/boy community, this attitude absolutely stuns me.

See, over there, the fans do have a say. Maybe they don't cast the deciding vote, no. But their tastes are taken into account. Their likes and dislikes. Their reactions to particular storylines, even their reactions to and preferences in movie casting.

And nobody minds. Nobody complains that the fans don't have a right to their opinions. Nobody gets sniffy about how the fans aren't their bosses, so they should shut the hell up. (Okay, yeah, I can think of one person who may have skirted the edge of this attitude. But it's nowhere near as common as you seem to find in the romance community these days.)

It's taken for granted over in Comicland that the fans are gonna have opinons, and that as long as it doesnt actively hamper the writer's creative flow, those opinions should be taken into account. It's taken for granted that people build a strong emotional attachment to the characters.

That isn't to say that unpopular things never happen (um, Captain America died!), or that writers take surveys of what story they should do next. But theycan and do pay attention to that feedback. They can and do explain when an unpopular action is taken, a large proportion of the time.

Yes, we can argue that the two industries are so very different. But Conan Doyle had to bring Holmes back from the dead, don't forget. Fans have always had opinions, they've always had an influence, and I think they should.

No, they shouldn't take over the writing. But isn't it nice when they act like they care what the readers think?

How much influence do you think reader opinions should have?

Friday, April 13, 2007


I've blogged about Friday the 13th over at the Deliciously Naughty Writers blog, so go check that out, because it's all about superstitions and stuff.

Remember when you were a kid, and Friday the 13th seemed like such a big deal? I miss that.

Anyway. I shall probably do another post later, and I have a rather interesting week planned for next week as well.

(BTW, I've had another thought about Vonnegut. It seems so many people are talking about how they read him in high school and how much it meant to them. I've even seen one or two comments about how they read him again later but his work was so much a part of that time it didn't work.

I never read him in high school. Maybe that's why he leaves me mostly cold? Admiring the skill and cleverness, but not really enjoying the stories or the sentiment behind them? Just a thought.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm a Smartie with a Sore Tummy

I had intended to post something yesterday, but my body decided it would rather spend the day throwing up and huddling, shaking, on the couch. I still managed to pop around to some blogs and say hi, and get a little work done, but nothing like what I'd hoped.

I also talked to my Mommy. I miss my Mommy. I miss Gatorade. It isn't until a time like this when you're sick that you realize how much you miss home (not entirely true, as I've been missing home for a while now, but still). When you have a cold and can't find NyQuil on the shelves, or Gatorade. When your baby needs Pediatlite and you look for the big bottles of bubblegum flavor she always liked and all you can get is packets of blackcurrant D'oralite powder to mix with water. Which is so not the same thing. (A good NyQuil equivalent is Night Nurse, though, so if you're an American in the UK and don't know about it, ask the pharmacist. They keep it behind the counter. Makes sense because OTC meds here stink.)

And the hubs had to go back to work yesterday, too. So my daughters basically watched me huddle all day. Princess was tremendously sweet and helpful. I guess it takes a crisis. And with hubs gone, no sitting in a darkened room watching X-Files either.

Good news! The wonderful Sonya Vaughn (who I keep forgetting to mention got herself a kick-ass agent last week) tagged me for a "Thinking Blogger Award". How cool is that? I never win anything!

The award comes with two things: A nifty silver button that I'm supposed to link to my samrtiest post, so if someone can tell me how to do that I'd be much obliged; and two, an obligation to tag five more thinking bloggers. Ah, see, the prize has strings attached.


First I'm going Little bird blue, who always has something thought-provoking to say or an interesting opinion to express.

I invariably find Michele Lee's posts worth a read or two. I'm especially looking forward to some of the things she has planned for this month.

Of course there's my crit/writing partner Anna J. Evans, who I adore, and who, in between Thursday Thirteens and rants, posts sexy men pictures every Monday.

I'm also going to tag Serena Joy, because not only does she have a "This Day in History" widget that I envy, but her posts are always chock-full of interesting things.

Last but not least I'm going with Writtenwyrdd, who just returned from a long road trip (go check out the pictures!) and whose thoughts I invariably enjoy reading.

Ideally I would have tagged everyone on my list. I hate having to pick only a few, it makes me feel like a bad person. Or maybe I'm overmeotional from still feeling a little yech. I don't know. Anyway.

Oh, and would everyone here think I was completely insane if I had these people design a castle for me?

I couldn't afford to have it built yet...but maybe one day...

Oh, and Kurt Vonnegut died. I know as a writer I'm supposed to care, because it seems anyone with pretensions to be literary and cool is having paroxysms of grief (as they did when Hunter S. Thompson died) but honestly...I don't, really. Aside from being sad that a human being has died. I didn't like his books. Well written, I guess, and fast reads, but not my thing. So there. Yet again december admits her lack of intellectual capability. Some thinking blogger I am, huh?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I have no idea where the last few days have gone.
Well, okay, I partly do. I had a cold. I spent two days on the couch with my hubby, watching an extended DVD marathon of The X-Files. Including the crazy inbred episode. Whee! Amazingly enough, I didn't watch The X-Files when it was actually on. So these are pretty much all new to me. It's okay, but not as spooky-good as Millenium. Now that was a show!

I've also made another sale! My new EC editor contracted my submission for the Torrid Tarot line (you may recall, the book Anna J and I sold to EC last year was also for this line). The card is the Eight of Wands and we're waiting on title approval. I have to finish that one, it's about halfway done and I think by the end of April I can get it completed.

Plus I dragged an old half-finished project that I loved but got stumped on out of the Word graveyard and have added 3k to it since yesterday. Hopefully I'll have that one sent to EC by the end of the month, too.

So between the runny nose, the writing, and the Scully/Mulder thing, I've not been online hardly at all. And I will probably be scarce for the next week because I'm hoping to really push those projects through. I can't get a combined 50k words done on them in a week, but I can get 20 to finish the one, so I have some breathing room on the other. If I focus.

I won't be absent, oh no. I just may not be as chatty as I usually am.

I swear I'll do at least one real post this week, though.

Friday, April 06, 2007

What have you done for me lately?

So today, in my final RWA post for the week (but I'm sure not ever), I want to talk about what the RWA does and does not do, and how I think and feel about it. And stuff. Actually, I just woke up and my mind is still a little fuzzy, but we're going out today and I don't know when we'll be back, so I want to get this in before we go. (Plus, I have had a pork roast in the oven since last night, slow roasting, and it smells so good and I can't wait for dinner, but it means that when I get home I'll be chopping potatoes and parsnips to roast and making gravy and all that stuff. So busy. But I'll have time to read and reply to comments.)


Smart Bitches posted today about the RWA again, and the good things they do. It's quite an interesting post, and the comments trail is even more so (it's all here for your reading pleasure).

I have some thoughts on why it is that RWA, an organization run by and largely peopled with women, seems to worry so much more about inclusion and who's in and who's out than, say, the SFWA which seems to be largely a male organization. (Just from what I see, don't kill me if I'm wrong please.) Writer Sandra K. Moore has an excellent post about the RWA, inclusion, and gender here; it's definitely worth a read, as is the post she links to in the beginning.

But my issue at the moment is more on the RWA as a professional organization, specifically as the only one for writers which allows unpublished writers to join. (Again, the post Moore links to is about that subject; she says it better than I could.)

The thing is, as I said before, I really get nothing from my RWA membership. I don't go to conventions (and if I wanted to, I wouldn't have to be a member to attend.) I don't have a local chapter whose meetings I attend. I'm not really a joiner (big shock) anyway, so even when I did have a local chapter I never bothered to go. So perhaps I am not one to be making a judgment--but then, I'm exactly the right one, too.

Because none of this stuff ever seemed to have any real value to me, and that's why I didn't go. I didn't bother because I didn't see any value in bothering. Networking is all well and good, I guess, but ultimately there are only so many lectures you can hear or articles on writing good queries before it all becomes gibberish.

That I didn't get involved is my fault, but that RWA didn't make me want to get involved is theirs. I'd been told that RWA was invaluable to the unpublished writer; maybe at one point it was, but with the advent of the internet, that value is dissipating. I can learn more about publishing from the blogs I link to than from an issue of the Romance Writer's Report.

So RWA needs to change its focus. I keep hearing it does so much for romance writers...but aside from its recent serving of a cease-and-desist order on copyright theft site eSnips, I haven't seen much of it. I think once or twice they've stepped into a publishing dispute and done something about it (like sponsoring audits or putting pressure on publishers to change a particular clause in a contract, or whatever).

Compare that to The Authors Guild. Check that website out, seriously. They offer health insurance plans. They offer contract advice and legal services. They even offer web design services.

Tell me which one is more worth joining?

My point isn't that RWA isn't any good. They are. But they should be better. They could concern themselves less with helping newbies--not that it's not important--and more with helping published authors. I'd be willing to pay an extra $50 a year to get some of the services offered by the Author's Guild (although they charge less.) (By the way, see the difference between that website and RWA's homepage. Seriously.)

See, again, so many people seem to imbue the RWA with some kind of authority, and frankly, it's a waste of time and energy. So you write m/m and the current RWA environment doesn't care for m/m? (Although I think that's more to do with the old regime than the new.) So what? Why does it matter to you? Is your work less valid because the RWA doesn't recognize your publisher? Who cares? Why do you care? Why do you need to set up this straw dog to fight, instead of just working as hard as you can, as best as you can, and making your own way?

Seriously. Do you care about being a good writer, or do you care what RWA thinks?

And it's this kind of silly argument that keeps the RWA from being everything it could and should be. Why don't we worry less about why RWA doesn't like books with ass-fucking in them, and more about why RWA isn't organizing some kind of health plan for its published members? Less accusing them of being mean because they don't recognize a start-up publisher without seeing some proof that they can actually help a writer's career, and more of demanding they provide free contract help so unagented writers aren't being fucked in the ass themselves?

Maybe, if we want to know why our genre doesn't get the respect we think it deserves, it's because our professional organization seems to be largely devoted to self-esteem issues instead of being a real help to its members.

Standards for publishers grow and change, editorial needs and trends come and go...but an organization that offers its members nothing to help them grow as professionals offers nothing at all, and will become irrelevent and die.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Ads

Note: I still want to hear any thoughts you have on the RWA standards, please. But I didn't want to put the ads up and not make some sort of statement about them.

Yep, I've got them. If they bother you, let me know, and please don't just start clicking indiscriminately because I can get kicked out of the program for that.

But seriously. If they interfere with your experience here, if they make my blog a less inviting place, if they make you not want to come back and participate...tell me. They'll go bye-bye. Keeping readers and friends is far, far more important than making a few £ from Google.

But the ads won't change me, oh no! I'll still be my crazy self! And while I'm thinking of crazy things to blog about, I like to curl up with a good Mills and Boon romance! For real romance that makes your heart sing! And drink PG Tips tea! It's delicious! It's the only tea cool people like me drink!

(Please tell me you know that's sarcastic!)

Seriously. My email is in my profile. If it's a problem for you, it's a problem for me.

And a MAJOR by the way: I have banned a certain author mill/scam "traditional" publisher from advertising here. If you see na ad by them on this site, please tell me, because they shouldn't be allowed to.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

If a book gets published, and RWA doesn't recognize it...

I'm sure you follow the rest.

Yes, in my second post on the RWA (that's Romance Writers of America, btw *wink*), I'm going to bore all you non-RWA people by discussing publisher recognition. Because I've been hearing a lot about this, and (surprise!) I have some opinions on it.

These are the current standards for publisher recognition (to view them in situ, as it were, in the issue of RWA E-notes I took this from, go here and scroll down a bit):

To be an “RWA-Recognized Publisher,” a publisher must be a royalty-paying publishing house that (1) does not offer is not a subsidy or vanity publisher contracts to RWA members, (2) has been releasing books on a regular basis via national distribution for a minimum of one year, and (3) has sold a minimum of 1,500 hardcover or trade paperback copies or 5,000 copies in any other format, including print on demand, of a single romance novel or novella or collection of novellas in book form, in bona fide arms-length transactions, and continues to sell a minimum of 1,500 hardcover or trade paperback copies or 5,000 copies in any other format of a subsequent romance novel each year.

That's it. Those are the standards. What this means, my lovies, is that many epublishers are not recognized (among them one of my own publishers, Whiskey Creek Press-Torrid).

What that means to the authors who write for those publishers is that they cannot join PAN, RWA's Published Author's Network. PAN benefits include things like first pick at editor/agent pitch meetings at RWA conventions, being able to attend the PAN retreat (which I envision being a bit like a summer camp, with lots of pillows and a fireplace, and a bunch of ladies in pajamas toasting marshamllows and discussing passive voice), co-op promo activities, and, according to the PAN page on the RWA website, "other activities designed to adavcne the professional interests of PAN members."

All of which sounds pretty good, right? But hardly stuff worth losing sleep over.

I'm not a PAN member myself, although I've been provisionally eligible since April of last year and fully eligible since December, when Black Dragon released. So perhaps my view is biased. I am eligible. I've not bothered to send in the form to become a member. Which makes me lazy. I readily admit that part of my general contempt--or rather, my disregard--of RWA is because I haven't bothered to get all I can from it. I never joined my local chapter in Florida, for example, and apparently it's the local meetings that most members find beneficial. I am a member of Passionate Ink, which is the online erotic romance chapter of RWA.

And that's where this is coming from, really. RWA is currently not accepting any more publisher applications for recognition, while they decide if the standards need to be changed (read: should it be harder for publishers to get recognition?).

Yes, it should.

See, a lot of epubbed writers feel really hurt by RWA's refusal to "acknowledge" them as published authors. And to some degree, I'm with them. It hurts to work hard for something and think you've acheived it, only to have the professional organization to which you pay not-inconsiderable dues every year doesn't think your publisher is good enough for them to send you a little gold pin and let you into the slumber party.

But this shouldn't be about feelings. It should be about careers. It should be about A) reaching a certain level of proficiency; and B) making sure the publisher you're selling your work to is really going to allow you to make any money. Seriously, y'all, I've read some books from smaller, newer epublishers. They are not all the same, and the books are not all what I would consider ready for publication. Should we start allowing anyobdy to say they're a publisher, and get recognized? Should we start allowing Publish America authors to join PAN? Should RWA, one of the largest professional writer's organizations, start recognizing fly-by-nights and scammers, giving author mills their approval, just so the scamees can feel good about themsleves? No matter who else is hurt by that recognition?

1500 books or 5000 ebooks is all well and good...for one title. Just because a publisher is capable of selling that many copies of one title doesn't mean they're capable of selling that many copies of all their titles, though, or even a decent percentage of their titles. Selling a book to an RWA-recognized publisher should be a big deal. It should mean the writer can have some expectation of decent earnings. It should mean that the publisher will automatically:
--Make the book available on time
--Make the book easily available to potential customers, either by adding it and the author to all search engines on its website, or by putting it in the print catalog and working to make sure bookstores order that book
--Provide royalty statements
--Provide professional editing, not just copyediting and spellcheck
--engage in at least some form of promotion, even if that promotion is simply announcing releases on its site and Yahoo group and sending copies for review.

It should mean that an author can reasonably expect that the publisher has the clout, either online or with bookstores, to sell a reasonable number of copies of the author's book. An average, if you will. Not just one book that managed to meet the goals, but a lot of books.

Those standards are there to protect authors, not to denigrate them. No publisher should be RWA recognized if it's publishing books that sell copies in the single digits. It simply shouldn't happen.

See, this is where I think making RWA recognition such a big deal, such a be-all end-all in people's eyes, has seriously backfired. Publishers are now so eager to get the recognition that they focus on meeting that goal, and on no other (IMO). And a lot of books, a lot of authors, are getting screwed, either by being ignored so the publisher can focus on those books, or by simply thinking they've got a shot at making real money, finally--at least enough for a really nice pair of shoes, if not more--only to discover that their publisher is not what they thought. That the hits aren't there, the interest isn't there. It's not always the fault of the publisher. Some books are hits, some are misses. But an RWA recognized publisher should at the very least be giving each book an equal shot. They should have the juice to do that.

Because if they don't, being recognized means nothing. And it should. Because if it doesn't, the writers whose feelings are hurt are right--it's just a way to be mean to them and exclude them.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Why you should care about the RITA

You shouldn't.

Really. Why the f*** should you?

See, this all started a couple of weeks ago (of course, thanks to delays and laziness, I'm once again blogging well after the excitement has died down) over at Romancing the Blog. This post started a kerfuffle about the Ritas, which, for those of you who don't know, are awards given every year at the RWA National convention. Best Long Historical, Best Paranormal, Best Contemporary, etc.

The awards are judged by volunteer RWA members, who I believe need to also be published (by an RWA-recognized publisher. More on that another day. I probably don't think about publisher recognition the way you think I do, just a warning.)

So there you go. The Ritas are awards given by authors, to authors, at a private ceremony. And readers are supposed to care about this why?

The wonderful Smart Bitches did a post the following day, entitled Why I don't Care About the Ritas. Which has some excellent points. In general, the taste of the RWA membership tends to differ from that of many romance readers and other writers. With all due respect, a lot of the Rita judges are ladies who prefer not to have some elements--like, for example, lots of graphic sex--in their books, and enjoy elements--like, say, amnesiacs or secret fucking babies or whatever--which make the rest of us want to throw up.

They did another post about fixing the Rita, cleverly titled How do you solve a problem like the Ritas? More good comments are made, more excellent suggestions, particularly, I think, mine (what a shock) about making the judging less subjective. All judging is subjective, yes, but breaking the book into elements and giving individual scores based on those, rather than an overall 1-9 with no explanation given, might make a difference.

But ultimately...who cares?

See, I think there's three great misconceptions at work here: One, that most readers are even aware of the RWA; two, that most readers give a shit about the RWA or their politics/policies if they are aware of them; and three, that the RWA really matters to anyone in any way, aside from holding what I hear is a pretty good convention once a year and publishing an intermittently interesting magazine for members once a month (the only reason I'm still a member.)

Before I started writing romance, I read it. I've read it all my life. But not once, as I sat down with a juicy Connie Mason or Catherine Lanigan or whomever I was reading at the time, did I think, "I wonder if other writers find this book good enough to give it an award in a private ceremony in Texas?"

Maybe the Ritas are like the Oscars. Maybe. But you know what? I don't really care that much about the Oscars, either. And the only reason why anyone does care about the Oscar is because they're on TV, and we get to wait eagerly for someone to wear a terrible dress or make an outrageously offensive comment about Zionists or something. We don't really care that much about the awards, because they're usually so predictable and lame. Maybe we're excited to see Scorsese finally win (yeah, I admit I totally was), but that's the extent of it.

The problem is, when you're a member of the romance writing community (or a publisher or agent), this stuff seems important. What RWA does and thinks, ooh! The Rita or the Golden Heart (unpubbed writers), wow!

But if you're a reader? You have your own life, your own stuff you care about. Internal squabbles about artistic standards for covers or whatever mean nothing to you, absolutely nothing. Just like the deal-making behind the scenes that gets the movie made means nothing.

The fact is, the RWA membership and readership is too wildly disaparate to effectively judge an award. And the fact is, readers just like to read. None of this matters to them if they have a good story in front of them. And all of this business about why we should care about the Rita feels to me like writers and RWA memeber getting in a snit because nobody's paying attention to them, frankly. You'll care about what they TELL you to care about, damn it!

(Note: Of course I want a Rita. That still doesn't mean I think you should care about them. But when I win an Eisner Award, the whole world better care!)

And by the way...this does NOT alter or make less my heartiest congratulations to the finalists. Seriously. They worked hard and they deserve to feel good. I just don't think the readers should be forced to care about the awards as a whole if they don't.

Edit to add: One, if this topic interests you at all, you should go read Susan Wilbanks' posts about the Golden Heart. Very interesting.

Two, I had added an RSS/Atom feed (I have that SmartFeed thingie there so it should be compatible with all of them, and I plan to add Bloglines as well if you can have both. If you subscribe to my feed, let me know it works okay, please, as I am a dunce with all things like that.)

Three, that leads me to ask again if you guys would bother to occasionally click on ads if I had them, or would you ignore them? I'm thinking about getting them, but I don't want it to be a waste or disruptive. Maybe this should be a separate post? I'll see how comments go.