Archive for June, 2009


Book Recommendation Redux

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Okay, it is time for a lightning book recommendation fest!

In no particular order:

  • Start Me Up, by Victoria Dahl.  I’ve basically loved every book Victoria Dahl has written and Start Me Up is no exception.   It’s got some of the best dialogue centered around sex that I’ve ever seen in a romance novel, and the book is just plain fun.  I particularly appreciated Quinn–who is nerdy in just the right way.  Which is to say, he’s hot, he’s absent-minded, he’s successful…but when he concentrates on Lori Love, whew, does it ever get steamy!
  • What Happens in London, by Julia Quinn.  I am also a huge Julia Quinn fan, and I haven’t read a bad book by her yet.  But as with all my favorite authors, I like some books better than others.  With Julia Quinn this is the difference between finishing the book and hugging it tight, and finishing the book and hugging it tight and giving it a gentle kiss.  And I just loved this one–this one got a hug and a kiss!  I read this when my husband was asleep in the other room, and I woke him up three times because I was laughing so hard.  This book was hilarious, and yet touchingly sweet.  The bar is extremely high when it comes to Julia Quinn books, but this one is one of my favorites, ever.  It’s going to be read and reread.  A true keeper.
  • Bound by Your Touch, by Meredith Duran.  I’ve been absolutely bonkers to read this ever since I read the excerpts on Meredith’s site, and I’m completely insane to have a copy right now–I’m moving (like, tomorrow), I don’t have space for more books, I don’t have time to read… and yet I picked up a copy at my local Borders, and I’ve been sneaking pages in between my mad dash for cleaning.  Meredith Duran’s first novel blew me away; there was something about her writing that just drew me in.  This book (so far) is reminiscent of The Duke of Shadows in the sense that the writing is so compelling and unputdownable, but as of chapter three, I can say that it’s even better.  Truly an amazing book.
  • A Hint of Wicked, by Jennifer Haymore.  I feel like such a schlub, for not having promoted this book yet on my blog.  In my defense, I plead being busy (see: moving; also see: writing).  I read this book in one sitting, and it is an incredibly emotional journey.  I literally could not put it down.  Jennifer Haymore takes what seems like an impossible emotional situation–a woman whose husband, who she loved, returns from the dead, only to find her remarried–and makes that love triangle into one where we really believe that she loves both the men she is married to.  I could not stop reading this book, because I so desperately wanted all three of them to be happy.  This book is an example of truly fine writing: Jennifer Haymore took an insoluble conflict, pulled no punches, and got to a HEA at the end without cutting through the Gordian knot she’d created.  (Also, if you read the pages at the end for her next book, A Touch of Scandal….  I am already lusting after it!)
  • I am also dying to read Loretta Chase’s Don’t Tempt Me. I’m not sure when I will have a chance to do that, as tomorrow I am hopping in a car and driving 2000 miles (with a cat and a dog–what was I thinking?), and I can’t read in a car without getting car sick…. but my guess is that I will just accept the nausea and go for it.  Loretta Chase never fails to deliver.  So you should read this one, too–just don’t tell me about it until you’re sure I’m finished!

Blog update

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

This is the new theme.  I’m still tweaking it but I think I got all the major non-display screwy bugs out.  Please let me know if I’m wrong.

Breaking down RWA Eligibility

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

It’s hardly a surprise that I believe that RWA needs to find ways to embrace digital publishing.  But the more I think about the need for RWA to change its ways, the more complicated I find the issues to be.  This is a post that sort of details where I am in my thinking process.  It’s not an official statement from RWAChange.  It’s just what I think about the question.

When I first started thinking about RWAChange, my initial impression was that RWA’s list of Eligible publishers was nothing more than paternalism.  Why require an advance to be paid?  Who is RWA to determine what makes an author “career-focused”?  After reading through the Bylaws and the Policies & Procedure Manual, and listening to what people have to say, I think I’ve concluded that the question of what publishers lands on the list of RWA Eligibility is very important to its membership for one very simple reason:  Money.  Not RWA’s money.  Not the RWA Board’s money.  But my money, and your money, and the money of anyone who attends the RWA National Conference.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned about RWA Eligibility from the Policies & Procedures Manual:

Only RWA Eligible publishers can accept pitch appointments at Nationals.  Only RWA Eligible publishers can hold spotlights at Nationals.  (According to Diane Pershing, but not according to the P&PM, [Edited to add: my apologies to President Pershing; this is covered in the Policies & Procedure Manual at 8.14; I missed it the first time.] only RWA Eligible publishers can offer workshops at Nationals, too).  RWA Eligible publishers are comped at Nationals–that is, they don’t have to pay the hefty registration fee.  (In exchange for this, they must take pitch appointments and/or speak in workshops.)

What does that mean to you as  a member?

RWA Eligibility adds value to your conference if you are unpublished:

  • It allows you to schedule pitch appointments with industry professionals who purchase, publish, and represent manuscripts.
  • It gives you access to workshops run by industry professionals who will give you an inside view as to craft and market outlook.
  • It provides publisher spotlights, book signings, and other events that help you see what’s selling, and what publishers are excited about.
  • It creates an event where editors and agents come together, and networking opportunities abound (last year at Nationals, I was still unpublished, but my book was on submission–and my agent dragged me around to meet the editors who had it on their desk.  This was invaluable to me in my decision-making, because I could see who I “clicked” with.)

RWA Eligible Publishers also provide value to published authors (and I suspect it provides more value to them than to the unpublished):

  • It broadens your audience: At the publisher-sponsored signings, and at the literacy signing, hundreds of readers may obtain free books from you and try you out.
  • It provides natural marketing: If your book is highlighted at a publisher spotlight, many people may put it on their list of books “to buy” to see what’s so hot about it.
  • It provides a forum for you to meet with your editor and agent.
  • If your publisher throws a party (as many publishers do), you will meet with other authors who work for your publisher and be able to network.
  • If you’re looking for a new agent (or a new publisher), or looking to write in a new genre, you get all the benefits that the unpublished authors do. (For many authors, the difference between “published” and “unpublished” are just not that large, believe it or not!)

None of this is a surprise.  RWA Eligibility for publishers does a great deal of work for you as an author, most particularly at the National Conference.  So why not recognize more publishers as RWA Eligible?  More publishers = more value, right?

The flip side of this is that it does it at at cost.  If you look at the list of industry professionals listed on RWA’s conference site, please keep in mind that many of those professionals are not paying a conference fee.  That means that, in determining how much you are paying for conference, part of the cost that you are bearing is the price of the meeting space, the price of comping lunch for those editors and agents, and so forth.  If those editors and agents were not comped, the price of Nationals to the individual might fall from (say) $475 to $400 (I don’t know what the amount is–I just made it up for illustration purposes, so don’t complain it is too large or too small.)

Of course, the fall-off in quality would be pretty clear, too.  You wouldn’t have pitch appointments.  You might not have editors giving workshops on what they look for in a submission, or agents answering questions about how to write a query.  Editors might not come at all, and then many authors might choose not to attend because they couldn’t meet with their editor, and so you’d miss out on those workshops on craft from published authors and those networking opportunities.  RWA comps these editors (and their activities) because they believe that the added $75 (or whatever it is) to the ticket price of conference is worth the value that editor attendance adds.

(I’ve heard that RWA did try to get rid of comping altogether–with the end result that industry professionals did not show up, and the conference was not a major success for those who attended.)

The more RWA-Eligible publishers there are, the greater the cost to the paying attendees.  I’ve seen people claim that RWA doesn’t open up eligibility to e-publishers for monetary reasons.  This was presented as something hugely sinister, like RWA was selling out publishers for filthy lucre, and I don’t think that is a fair representation at all.

It’s not RWA’s organizational money that is at stake here.  It’s ours, the authors who attend conference.  I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t want to pay $800 to go to conference just so that the Mesopotamian Press of Bluebirds, a group that publishes three authors and sells 60 copies of books each year, can hold a publisher spotlight and pitch appointments, and their editors can attend for free.  Neither do I want to pay $300 to attend a conference where my editor and agent don’t show up, and neither do three quarters of my good friends on the author circuit.

RWA Eligibility is like a spigot that must be finely tuned: Set the bar for eligibility too high, and you exclude too many publishers; as a result, the authors affiliated with those publishers, and writers who wish to be affiliated with them, stop attending Conference and Conference loses value.  Set the bar too low, and you include too many publishers, and the price of Conference becomes too high.  Somewhere in between is a happy medium: the place where the value of Conference is high, but the price of Conference is not exorbitant.

It’s not paternalism to set standards for RWA Eligibility (which was my initial thought); RWA Eligible publishers are publishers that conference attendees subsidize, at their own very personal dollar cost.  I apologize for calling it paternalism; now that I’ve thought it through, I’ve changed my mind.

The only thing I disagree with in the current Policies and Procedures Manual (on this point) is where the spigot has been set.  I think the advance model is not the only way to build a career, and I think there are significant advantages to the e-business model that RWA should recognize.  As such, I would like to see a standard for determining RWA eligibility that includes intelligent e-publishers, who offer the means for their writers to make a career of writing.

Should this standard let in all e-publishers, or all small press publishers?  No–that would be too costly for the membership of RWA, and would provide too little benefit to justify the added cost.  But just as we don’t want to exclude all print publishers from RWA Eligibility, or the cost of conference suffers, we also don’t want to exclude all e-publishers.  If e-publishers must pay for their conference fee, if they cannot hold pitch appointments or spotlight their top authors, they might not show up, and then their e-authors won’t show up either.  If e-authors see no benefit to going to RWA, they won’t hold workshops, won’t network with others. . . .

When Diane Pershing said there were only two digital workshops suggested to RWA’s workshop committee this year, that should have been a warning sign, not an indication that nobody cared about e-publishing.  That signaled that the National conference is not providing sufficient value to the people who are skilled in e-publishing–even though there is tremendous interest among the membership to learn more about e-publishing.  RWA’s current stance is driving e-authors and e-publishers from Conference, and that means that we are all losing value.

You’ll note I haven’t talked about where the spigot should be set, except to say that the current model is too restrictive.  I’ll try to cover what I think there in later posts.

Oops!

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

I just realized I was also supposed to announce the winners of the proof copies of the Dangerous Book of Excerpts.

So, the winners are: Crystal Fulcher, Bonnie Ferguson, and Danielle Yockman.

Send me your snail mail addresses and you’ll get a proof copy of The Dangerous Book of Excerpts.

GOTH winner (and squees)

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The winner of the ARC of Goddess of the Hunt is . . . Lorelei Brown!  Yay! Lorelei, e-mail me your address and it will go out in the mail tomorrow.

And while we’re at it, I want to register two squees.  First, for Maggie Robinson.  You may remember that she sold her first two sensual erotic historical romance to Berkley Heat a month or two ago–to be marketed under Margaret Rowe.  Now, she’s sold four books and two novellas to Kensington Brava.  Congratulations, Maggie!  You are going to be a superstar!

Second, I want to take a moment to squee for Vicky Dreiling.  A year and a half ago, Vicky and I both had historical romances that finaled in North Texas’s Great Expectations contest.  Vicky took first place; I took last.  But before they’d announced the judging results, we had exchanged a few e-mails, discovered that we met at RWA Nationals the year before.  We both had our ups and downs in the months that followed–and sometime in May last year I sent her this in an e-mail:

I just have this feeling about you, too–even though I’ve never read anything you wrote except those 100 words I saw on Bookend’s website.  I just *know* you’re going to sell, and when you do, I’m going to be first in line to buy that book.

And guess what?  Vicky Dreiling just sold a trilogy to Grand Central!

So go congratulate these ladies.  And hopefully, in a year, I will be giving away ARCs to their books.  :)

Coveting the Goddess

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Many of you know that I am Tessa Dare‘s biggest fangirl.  (And no, I am not referring to my weight.)

It’s been hugely exciting for me to watch everyone fall in love with her, starting with the agents who wanted her, to the auction that ensued when Goddess of the Hunt went on submission.  Now her book is only slightly more than one month away from release, and reviews are beginning to show up.  In the last week, I’ve seen reviews from the two major print sources that review romances.

Library Journal gave Goddess of the Hunt a coveted starred review, and said: “This is an exceptional debut novel, from the first hilarious “practice” session to the gradual melting of Jem’s outward reserve and Lucy’s maturing realization of whom she really loves. VERDICT A beautifully crafted tale that captivates with sassy wit, a lush, sweetly intense sensuality, and an abundance of beautifully articulated, appealing characters.”

And today, Publisher’s Weekly chimed in.  It also gave Goddess of the Hunt a coveted starred review: “Dare seems to have fit all the best of romance into one novel, from sensuous interludes and crafty humor to endearing multidimensional characters. Readers will eagerly anticipate the two sequels due in the fall.”

Now, you may notice that I’ve referred to both those reviews as “coveted.” But let’s face it.  What’s really coveted isn’t the review.  What you are coveting right now is . . . an early copy.  Oh yes, those are coveted.  But, you say, ARCs were few and far between.  Tessa gave away her last ARCs on Dear Author; and auctioned one off for charity for a fairly hefty sum.  There are no more ARCs to be had.

Except . . . what’s this?gotharc

Oh, my.  That would be . . . an ARC. Of Goddess of the Hunt.  In my hot, greedy, cunning little hands.

Tell me, do you covet it?  Yes?  Well, one of you will get it.  Here’s what you need to do to win a chance to get the last Goddess standing.

  1. Post on your blog, or post a tweet, about Tessa Dare’s Goddess of the Hunt.
  2. Post a comment on this blog post, with a link to your blog.  If you are entering a tweet, mark your tweet with the hashtag “#goth” to enter and make sure to reference the author of GOTH by including @TessaDare.
  3. Enter by Thursday, June 25th, at 6 PM EST to win.
  4. One winner will be chosen by random drawing to receive the truly coveted ARC of Goddess of the Hunt.  Two other winners will be chosen, also by random drawing, to receive slightly less-coveted proof copies of “The Dangerous Book of Excerpts.”  “The Dangerous Book of Excerpts” contains an excerpt of Goddess of the Hunt (longer than the one on Tessa’s website), an excerpt from Surrender of a Siren (longer than the one on her website, which is nonexistent).  It also contains excerpts from my own works, but pshaw; those are not coveted at all!  These exhibit some signs of wear and even have scribblings in them, as they really were used as proofs.

Enjoy! Covet! And spread the word–Goddess of the Hunt managed to “fit all the best of romance into one novel.”  And that is something to talk about.

Edited to add: Romantic Times comes in with a 4 1/2 star review and a TOP pick!  “Dare is on the path to stardom….  Dare uses wit and wisdom, humor and sensuality to relate a tale of tangled love that reveals her ability to touch hearts with her appealing characters.”

‘Scuse the mess

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I’m fiddling with the appearance of the blog at the moment.  Might take me a couple of days to sort out.

Excerpt & bonus!

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I’ve finally posted a short teaser excerpt (700 words) for my October novella, “This Wicked Gift.”  There’s a special bonus there for those of you who go look…. Hint: It’s pretty!

You’ll get a longer excerpt in a little while, but I thought you’d enjoy seeing this now.

June (and winners)

Monday, June 1st, 2009

First things first: The winner of the Jackie Barbosa giveaway is…. Sarah Anderson!  Yay, Sarah!  Send me your snail mail address & I’ll send your prize right out.

Second things second: It’s June!  And that means that courtneymilan.com has changed its feathers once again.  This month, it is light green.


Courtney Milan writes historical romance novels like the ones you see to the right. She still remembers bits and pieces from her old lives, where she was (variously) a scientist and a lawyer.

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