Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Great Agent Safari

Lately, I go to the mailbox with trepidation. On July 30 I sent out ten queries/partials to agents. It's actually more difficult to get an agent than an editor, even if you've been published before. If only being published ended the rejection, but it doesn't. Monday and Tuesday I received one rejection. They were polite, but a rejection nonetheless with no specifics except no enthusiasm, and then wished me well. If only the 8 Ball would be right!

Apparently, some people are clueless. For example, on in answer to the question What Do I Do After An Agent Asks To See My Manuscript? someone replied:

"First, call them. Try to sound confident. Ask a few questions about
their business, such as: Who are their current clients? What do they consider
their strengths? What do they think makes their agency special? etc. Now it's
time to talk about you. Tell him/her what you have had published (magazine
articles for example) or contests you have won, ask what questions he/she would
like to ask you. These phone calls will give you a sense of who you feel
comfortable with and who you think will provide you with the best deal. Take
notes for your final evaluation.

Second, send your manuscript to the
agency you have decided is best suited to you.

Third, send notes to
those you did not choose and tell them that your manuscript is out to an agency
but you would like to remain in touch with them. Be honest, but leave the door
open for further consideration. Remember, the agency you chose might not choose

This proves you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet.

Then, there's the person who placed an ad in PW:

"Category: Seeking Agency
Headline: Wanted: Literary

Body: To examine a rare 107,000 word Self-Help manuscript
introducing a flowing patented reading format. Also, the Agency would manage the
licensing of the reading format. Selected Publisher should be flexible in
typesetting and speedy in publication."

If only it were that simple. Wonder how much money he/she wasted.

Just this week Miss Snark ( posted about things in her slush pile that were a miss with her.

Over on Evil Editor's blog ( someone talked about an online auction system for query letters and proposals. That might make it easier for a writer, but an agent doesn't have to beat the bushes for clients.

So, how do you get an agent's attention? The positive kind of attention, that is.

1. Do a bit of research. Make sure the agent is reputable. Handles your type of book. Is open to unsolicited submissions. Approach in the way the agent wishes. (If they don't accept email submissions, don't send an email.)

2. Get their name and gender right.

3. Query with a good story.

4. Send what the agent wants. If she/he wants three chapters, don't send 100 pages. (Footnote: Miss Snark says send five pages even if they only want a query letter.)

5. An error free submission.

6. Make sure your spam filter doesn't require them to fill out a form to contact you. At least one agent doesn't bother.

7. Include a self-addressed, stamped-envelope (SASE). Without it, some agents don't bother responding. You never know if that response may be a request for the full manuscript.

But to quote Miss Snark, Writing trumps all.

Have you found something that worked well? Any additional advice?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Does It Ever Get Better?

I spent the first half of my morning waiting for a phone call from my editor about my second book. I knew that my editor had already sent it to her senior editor with a recommedation of acquisition, but I still spent my morning trying not to throw up my breakfast as I awaited the verdict of the senior editor.

The news was very good--they're buying book two and want me to send the proposal for book three by the end of next month. My editor also mentioned "multiple book contracts" for the future, which is very exciting.

But the point remains--even though I reached that milestone of publication last year, there are still no guarantees in this business. My editor could have decided she hated book two. Or the senior editor could have thought my editor had lost her mind by recommending acquisition. And there's always the possibility that readers will think both of the editors are nuts for ever buying book two in the first place.

I remember back before I sold my first manuscript, I thought that if I could just get published, the rest of my career would be a piece of cake. I had all sorts of story ideas waiting to come out of me, and once I was published, selling those ideas would be easy.


First, ideas are not manuscripts. Ideas can derail at any point in the process. And second, even if you manage to put together 65-75,000 words in some sort of coherent order, that story may not have the special flair that makes an editor sit up and take notice. Or the book may not fit the line you're trying to sell to. Or it may be a good book with a topic or theme that just isn't in vogue at the moment.

There are lots of variables, whether you're published or not. So it's always a good idea to be humble, be determined, and be flexible enough to adapt your writing to better fit the market you're trying to break into.

Yay! I've sold book two. But there's still book three, book four, book ten, book twenty...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Till Death Do Us Part

Books have been an important part of my life since I read Fun with Dick and Jane all those years ago. I've read more than I'll ever be able to count or remember. Some of them changed my mind about certain things, some changed my heart and many have changed my life. Believe it or not, even if I didn't necessarily enjoy the book, I treasure each one that I've read. I consider them all gifts.

I'll admit to having an extremely large keeper shelf or rather shelves. Some of my keepers I read once a year. It's like visiting family without the strife or stress and you always know what's going to happen. I find that very comforting.

Some of my keepers are books that I'll never part with but I'll never read again. That may seem strange. It certainly seems odd to my non-bookloving husband. He can't understand the reason behind keeping a book I'll never read again and I honestly can't come up with a reasonable explanation, so I just don't try. I only know that though I may never revisit these stories and characters again, I want to keep them as a part of my life.

I don't know specifically why a certain book becomes a keeper for me -- other than the reasons listed above. I do know it must move me, touch me, resonate with me in such a way that parting with it would be painful. It might be the emotion, the characters, the story, the setting. It might even be one paragraph or sentence that just seemed so perfect and I can't let go of that perfection.

What about you? What makes you hang on to your favorites? Is it the author, story, characters, setting, time period. What does it for you?

Oh and while we're on the subject, what are your top three keepers? Mine are Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught, The Bride by Julie Garwood, MacKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard and It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And before you write and tell me that's four, not three, I'll go ahead and admit I know it. Stopping at four was hard enough, stopping at three impossible.

Friday, August 25, 2006

What Would You Do If You Never Became Published?

I’ve been thinking, heaven forbid, if I never became published, what would I do with all my extra time? I love lists – sorry, I’m such a freak.

1) Stare at the birds nesting in the trees and imagine the female bird is wondering where her bad-boy boyfriend has flow off to as she tends to her “secret” babies.
2) Take long drives in the country and pretend the car riding my bumper is a secret agent. He wants me to go with him to another country and save the world from mass destruction.
3) Go to the movies and watch the current pirate movie. I immerse myself in the scenes as I make believe the leading men are fighting for my hand in marriage.
4) Clean house (finally) and picture a tall, rich tycoon sweeping me off my feet and hiring a mansion full of servants to do the work.
5) Sink into my tub for an hour long soak and play like two (yep, I’m freaky) gorgeous men are taking care of my aches and pains.

Well, you get the idea. Even if I were never published (and not from the lack of trying), my imagination would keep 0n going. I guess I’ll keep writing them down and hope one of the stories hits the right editor at the right time.

How about you? Haven’t you wondered what you would do with all that extra time?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


MAJOR CRUSH is my 10th book. Well-Meaning People Who Don’t Understand ask me why I can’t sell the other nine now that I’ve broken down the door. What could be more simple? *eye roll*

In truth, I’ve just finished revising #9 because my agent is planning to send it out again. I’m confident we’ll find a home for it sooner or later. It may have had its problems before, but it did get me an agent.

The other eight? I don’t think they’ll ever see the light of day. I’ll admit a lot of fondness for #8, but it’s based on an American Idol-type show. Though you still see books with reality show settings, they’re a tougher sell than they used to be.

Come to think of it, I’m rather fond of #5. But now we’re going back to the mid-1990s, and I think the longer ago you wrote a book, the harder it may be to sell in the current market. Mass market books are all about what’s in, what’s hip, what’s current right now. Even a historical is a product of the time in which it was written, and it has to make sense culturally to its readers. For this reason, revolutionary and influential as THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER was in its time, I don't think it would be published today.

On the other hand, didn’t Paula come up with the idea for FORBIDDEN TERRITORY ten years ago? And you’ll see fragments of my discarded books pop up in my new books. To some extent, I think we all tend to write different angles of the same story over and over; Julie Rowe’s “Identifying Your Core Story” in the August issue of Romance Writers Report is just one discussion of the phenomenon.

But there’s also a lot to be said for moving on. I’m sure my book #11 has similarities to the rest of my writing, yet it felt like it came completely out of the blue and wrote itself. It was a very freeing experience.

So I do not mourn books 1 through 8. And when people do mourn their Books That Wouldn’t Die, I want to remind them of this: the precious object you possess is not the work you’ve already produced, but your ability to produce more, and better.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Research-Time Well Spent or Wasted?

I'm obsessed. My research on Tuesday started out innocent enough. I simply wanted a title of a Minerva Press novel that my heroine could be reading.

For those who don't know, Minerva Press printed novels during the Regency period. They were romantic stories of high society and Gothic tales. These novels were frowned upon, but young ladies managed to read them.
I found a wonderful site of British literature ( that even listed works by year. Found several wonderful titles--Ankerwick Castle, The Monk of the Grotto, The Enchantress, Mysterious Husband, and Nobility Run Mad. I decided on The Pirate of Naples. Sounded like a good book my heroine would read.
I plug the title into my WIP. But then, that's not enough. My hero needs to ask a question and have the heroine answer. Of course, this book is the one no site has. No where can I find a synopsis. I spend hours searching the title and the author's name. Didn't come up with much.
My point is for one simple fact that wasn't all that important, I spent a lot of time on the internet. Time that could better be spent actually writing. If I couldn't find anything on the book, then most people aren't going to be familiar with it. Yet, I feel an urge to know more about it.
Whether writing historical or contemporary, research confronts writers. Do you make up cities where you can create your own world or do you use actual cities? If you use real places, someone invariably is going to comment on something you got wrong about the place. Or if a character has an occupation that you're unfamiliar with. Or if they want to blow up something. Never mind that we write fiction.
Do you ever get sidetracked with your research? Or do you figure it doesn't matter that much for fiction?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

In Praise of the Independent Bookstore

I hate to shop. I know that puts me in the minority of most women, but I just don't like crowds or trying to find parking places or wandering around shops looking for bargains or sales or that perfect little strappy sandal. Blech. That's why I do most of my shopping on-line. I can sit in the comfort of my air-conditioned house, take my time finding what I want without worrying about my energy giving out, and I can usually find a huge selection of almost anything I want.

However, yesterday I went to Brooke's Book Stop, a small book store owned by one of my friends in Southern Magic, to deliver some posters for a book signing I'm participating in on Sept. 2nd, and I have to say, it was magical to enter a store where books are so obviously and lovingly displayed for the world to see, buy and enjoy. It's been a while since I've been in a physical book store. I'd forgotten the aesthetic pleasure of seeing all those books gathered in their pretty little rows. I'd forgotten the way books smell, like imagination and magic.

The proprieter, Jennifer, is a bibliophile who opened her store because she loves books and loves writers. That love is evident in her attention to detail. For instance, it's two weeks away from the book signing, but she already has displays of the books that the authors will be signing, set up in a prominent part of the store. And from the vast rows of colorful paperbacks that greet you as soon as you step into the store, it's obvious that Brooke's Book Stop is a big supporter of romance and women's fiction. You just don't get that from the big chains anymore.

Enough cannot be said about those scrappy little independent book store owners whose attention to detail and love of books makes shopping there a pleasure and a treasure.

Do you have a favorite book store? What makes or breaks a book store for you?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Who Are You Aiming To Please?

There's a lot of advice out there about what to write. Some say, write the book of your heart. Others say, write to the market. Still others say, write what you love but keep an eye on the market. It's hard to know who's right, though I suspect that at some point that advice is right or wrong, depending upon who you are, what you're writing and what the market is at the time you're trying to sell. Clear as mud? Of course it is. That's the beauty of advice. Take it however you want to take it.

What about the stories you write? Forget whether you're writing to the market or the book of your heart. Who is your target audience? And what exactly do you want to give them?

Recently, a well known author has indicated that a much loved character from her very famous books might meet his doom in the last book she writes in the series. I haven't read the books, so I don't think it'll bother me too much, but what will it do to the millions of people, a good many of them children, who do read and love this character? Is this a good marketing strategy or career suicide?

Many blogs ago, I mentioned that I've boycotted a very famous author for almost twenty years because she killed off a beloved character in a sequel. I've yet to buy another of her books, even when they're on the bargain shelf. Childish? Maybe. But I took what she did very personally and felt as if it were a slap in the face to her many fans who cherished her books and the characters she'd created.

I didn't really want to see the author suffer. Well okay, maybe I wanted her to suffer just a little. She didn't. She became an even more popular author, hitting the NYT bestseller's list time and again. I'm quite sure she never noticed or would care that I never bought another one of her books.

Not everyone has to have a happy ending. As a former bookseller, I was shocked to discover that some people actually wanted books that would make them cry or disturbed them. And that's fine, to each his own.

But do authors have an obligation to write what the reader expects from them? Doesn't an author grow a readership by supplying their fans with the kinds of stories they've come to enjoy?

What about you? Are you writing to entertain and satisfy the masses? Do you write to please yourself, please the market? Would you care that millions of people or perhaps just one person, never bought another of your books because of how you ended your story?

In other words, as my granddaddy always said, who are you aiming to please?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Oh, Please. Not Another Contest!

Yep. I’ve sent out more entries to chapter contests. Contests that are waiting for my hard earn money, so they can use and abuse me as they wish. Yep. I obviously enjoy S&M. If you don’t know what S&M means, I’ll have to take you to side and explain that later. Just take my word for it. Only sick people like me get into it. Okay enough of my personal life…wait! That’s not what I was referring to. Let’s return to contests.

While at the National conference a couple weeks ago, I heard several presidents and contest coordinators lamenting that entries were down significantly. Some even tried to blame Golden Heart in a round about way or the influx of chapter contests. I seriously thought about raising my hand and giving my two cents. But I felt that people would take my opinion too personal. So I decided I’ll give my puny advice on the blog, then people can ignore it if they wish.

The areas I see that may be causing the low entries are (all personal opinion):

(1) Price/cost. I see more and more contests going to $30 and $35. That’s a lot of money for anyone. Especially if the page count is 25 or less. True, that cost is less than a professional book doctor (or whatever they’re called) would charge. But the majority of judges are not professionals, even if they are published.

Thankfully in our unpublished contest ( the entry fee is still $20 for members and $25 for non-members.

Then the postage is a big expense and the reason a lot of contests are going electronic. This year, I’ve helped our entries by doing two cost cutting actions: (a) Entries will now send in only three copies instead of the four like last year. My thought is that it’s unlikely an entry will final if it has to go to a discretionary judge. Then again, I may be proved wrong this year. (b) The normal white priority envelope provided by the Post Office is really nice, but cost can get up to $10 to ship domestically. We recently okayed flat rate envelopes. The cost is $4.05 to mail no matter how much is stuffed inside or where it’s going in the U.S. The only stipulation is that you can’t use tape or staples to close it. Don’t forget you have to double those amounts because the entry needs to have a return envelope.

(2) No feedback. Only for Golden Heart would I pay a lot of money and receive only my area of placement. I have recently marked off two chapter contests on my list of preferred contests because of this. No matter how important they think they are, it’s not worth entering for the sake of entering. I want some for my money if I do not final.

(4) Unrealistic score sheets. There’s so much involved in this area, it would take another whole blog to go over. Let me say, except for category, few books have conflict shown clearly in the first three chapters.

(3) Three finalists. Probably some editor or contest coordinator thought this would be a good idea. Save time and postage. Or receiving a low amount of entries prompt this decision. But you just made it harder to become a finalist. I rather enter a contest with five placements.

(4) Editors versus agents. I’ve found I rarely target an agent in a contest. Maybe it’s a wrong perception, but I think of it like this. An agent can only effectively manage a hand full of authors, while an editor can work with numerous authors. Agents have always been harder to obtain but most will accept unsolicited submissions. At the same time, certain highly sought publishers do not accept unsolicited/unagented submissions.

(5) Big house publishers versus small publishers. Everyone certainly has their favorite or dream publisher. This is definitely a personal preference. But don’t we all want to be published by a house that is easily recognized. It’s like making that decision between store brand peanut butter and Jiffy. They both may taste the same (possibly from the same food processor), but we recognize Jiffy’s name and know it’s quality without trial.

(6) Without synopsis or with synopsis. Once again, Southern Magic’s Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest for unpublished writers only asks for a synopsis when you final. I look for contests that don’t require a synopsis in the first round. Too often I start sending out my WIPs before they are fully developed no less completed. Doing a synopsis so soon is a pain, and many people feel the same way. The feedback from the contest will partly determine if I finish the book or not. When you realize that only thirty out of estimated 150 entries will final, that’s a lot of synopses unneeded. Of course, if we decided to score the synopsis, then that would change this whole ball of wax. But sometimes your voice is the clue to getting your book sold. You can fix a story. You can’t fix voice.

Now that I’ve bored you to tears, let me ask what do you look for in a contest that was mentioned above? Anything that wasn’t mentioned?

Southern Magic Refuses to Slow Down!

Congratulations to Debra Webb and Paula Graves! Their books made CataRomance Reviewers' Choice nominee list! Check it out at

Then go and buy their books and see what they're talking about!

Past Sins
Debra Webb
Silhouette Bombshell

Forbidden Territory
Paula Graves
Harlequin Intrigue

Monday, August 14, 2006

If at first you don't succeed...

I'm rapidly finding out that having your first book published is like planning your wedding. You'd better not set your expectations too high, because you're setting yourself up for disappointment. For instance, my first book signing was at the massive Literacy Signing at the RWA National Conference in Atlanta! But my books didn't show up. Sometimes things just don't work out.

No worries! My second first book signing will be this Saturday, August 19. I’ll be on a panel discussing writing romance with Deidre Knight, Wendy Wax, and fellow Southern Magic member Kelley St. John as part of the Wetumpka Writers’ Workshop Series from 9 a.m. to noon at the Wetumpka Public Library in Wetumpka, Alabama. A small fee applies for the workshop. If you’d like to come for the book signing only, the folks tell me you should arrive between 11:30 and noon. Details here. Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 11, 2006

What Makes a Writer Successful?

Success is defined in the dictionary as: (1) the accomplishment of an aim; a favorable outcome; (2) the attainment of wealth, fame, or position; (3) a thing or person that turns out well. What does it take to be a success as a writer?

Most unpublished writers thinks it's that first sell. But what if you never sell again? What if your book tanks? To some published it's probably making the bestseller lists. But what if you never make a list? Does that mean you haven't been a success?

Sitting down and writing makes you succesful. Just finishing a book makes you a success. So many people say I'm going to write a book some day, but they never even begin.

Here's a little something that puts it more eloquently than I could:

Where Success Goes

Success does not necessarily go to the person who has the most elaborate plan. Success goes to the person who takes a plan and puts it into action.

Success does not usually go to the person who can take a few noisy, impressive strides. Success goes more often to the person who steadily puts one foot in front of the other.

Success doesn't automatically go to the person who starts out with the most resources. Success goes to the person who makes the best use of whatever is available.

Success goes not to the person who makes the biggest promises. Success goes to the person who reliably follows through on promises.

Today is your opportunity to put your plans into action. Today is filled with moments in which you can put one foot in front of the other and move steadily forward.

Today you have the chance to follow through on the things you have promised, and to make the most of the good things that are available to you. Use today wisely, and success is yours.

-- Ralph Marston

What do you think makes a writer a success?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Anti-Hero as Hero?

Can the anti-hero really work as a romantic hero?

It's a question I've been asking myself recently, as I work on a WIP in which my hero doesn't fit the typical romantic hero mold. He keeps getting sucked into the role of protector against his will, fighting the notions of responsibility, commitment and honor. And yet, I think Maddox works as a romantic hero in my book. At least, I hope he does.

But it's a tricky balancing act, I have to admit. And I've learned a little bit about writing a successful anti-hero hero in the process.

1) You have to give your anti-hero a strong and troubled backstory that explains why he thinks the way he does. On the television show LOST, Sawyer is definitely an anti-hero. His history explains his pain--his father killed his mother after a con man seduced his mother and stole the family's money. Sawyer himself witnessed his mother's murder, and he's spent a lifetime looking for the con man who destroyed his family. Only the irony is, in hunting the monster, he became a monster himself. He became a con man himself, even taking on the con man's name, Sawyer, though his real name is James Ford.

2) You have to give your anti-hero the right romantic foil. There's a temptation to pair an anti-hero with an innocent little good girl. Dark to her light and all that. But there must be a lot more depth to the good girl heroine than meets the eye. She needs to be able to surprise the anti-hero, to inspire him with her own strength, her own edge, her own pain. She must be his equal, if not his mirror image. That's one reason I like the Steve and Kayla relationship on the soap Days of Our Lives. On the surface, Kayla seemed like a sweet Pollyanna, perfect and spotless. But Kayla was a little danger monkey on the inside. She thrived on the excitement and unpredictability of loving an anti-hero like Steve. Other men couldn't hold her interest or inspire her passion or devotion. Your heroine has to have her own edgy streak.

3) Your anti-hero must have a path to redemption that is both complex and believable. Batman will never be Superman. There's always going to be that darkness in him, that pain that will never really go away, even with the love of a good woman. But your anti-hero can find redemption, can find peace and find a way to cope with the darkness inside him. You just have to find that path that is unique to your character, and then give him an implied future that reconciles that edginess with the satisfaction of lifelong love with the woman of his dreams.

The anti-hero is an exciting but difficult character to write well, especially in a romance. But it can be done if you put all the necessary elements in place.

Monday, August 07, 2006

And the waiting begins...

I just returned from the post office where I mailed partials from various requests via query letters and Nationals. And now the waiting begins. I tell myself I'll not think about them. I've done everything I can do. Edited until my eyes are gritty, read my dialogue out loud so much, my dog thinks I'm crazy and asked for opinions from so many people, some of them run the other way when they see me. Yes, I can be a bit obnoxious in my persistence.

But, what to do in the meantime. Should I send out more queries, start on another book, finish a partial I put aside months ago or finish that manuscript that's been hanging over my head for a year. Decisions. Decisions.

What if I don't hear back from these agents and editors in the response time they've indicated? Should I follow-up with them, via email or snail mail? How long should I wait after the response time has passed?

My record keeping at the beginning of my writing career would not have impressed a five year old. Now, I'm much better at it, but I could be better. I have a list on Word of queries for each manuscript, date sent, date rejection received or requested material mailed. It's messy, but it serves the purpose for the time being.

What about you? What do you do while waiting to hear from submissions? Do you write more, edit what you have or start something completely new? Do you follow up when you don't hear back on your submissions within their projected response time? If so, how do you follow-up and what do you say? Lastly, how do you keep up with multiple manuscripts and submissions? Do you have a particular kind of log?

Thanks to all who share their tips with a nervous, neurotic, and not so good at waiting, writer.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I'm a writer

Hi. My name's Carla Swafford and I'm a writer. When you say it like that, it sounds like I'm at an AA meeting. True. Writing to me is like a drug. Not counting that I'm a book junkie, I'm also obsessed with all thoughts of writing.

I'm proud to be a mother and more recently a grandmother (though I still feel too young to be one). BUT, I do have to say I take a lot of pleasure in telling people I'm a writer. Of course, I have to quickly tell them I'm not published and more times than I can count, they merely say "Oh." Yet on occasion, someone will become excited about the news and I will walk away feeling like I'm someone special.

My family has mixed feelings about my writing. My husband understands if he wants to remain married to me, he will ignore the messy house and my hours at the computer or at conferences. My two daughters say it's cool to tell their friends, but they refuse to read my work. Too gross to think mom knows about sex. Yeah. They believe they were conceived by immaculate conception.

My sister read one of my first manuscripts and claimed she loved it. Actually, I believe it is more like she loves me. (Thanks, sis.) My brother isn't sure what to think and my sister-in-law finds it interesting. While my dad expects me to write the next great American novel. Isn't he sweet?

But most of my buddies have heard my story about my mom. Bless her heart (Have to say that - I am Southern). When I told her I had written a book and asked if she would like to read it, she declared in her Southern lady-like voice, "Oh, Lord, no! I know it's all about what a horrible mother I've been!" Is it no wonder that I loved the movie, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? I can relate so well. LOL! BTW, she wasn't a horrible mother - I'm just a very demanding daughter at times. Besides, no one is perfect.

Tell me some of your experiences with family and friends when you told them you planned to or had written a book.

p.s. I added the picture because I like to share my inspirations.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Something for nothing

Everyone who attended the RWA National Conference in Atlanta was given lots of book promotional freebies. But will those freebies convince you to buy a book, or were they a waste of perfectly good loblolly pines?

Personally, I’ll be keeping all the books. Carla asked Southern Magic members to bring books we don’t want to the next meeting to be divided into bags and re-gifted at our reader’s luncheon in November. Dutifully I went through the stacks from Atlanta, sure I would find five or six I would never read...but all of them look too good! This is an effective (and, I might add, very sneaky) way for multi-published authors to get me hooked and convince me to buy their entire backlists.

I also keep bookmarks, because they’re so pretty (except mine, which used a too-low art resolution, so the hero & heroine look like they’re surrounded by gnats. Sex-y!) and because I need them. I tend to read five books at a time. Lately my life has turned into a performance of Short Attention Span Theater--but that’s another blog entry.

My favorite trinket (I can’t spell tchotchke) is the notepad with the magnet on the back. A Julie Leto book is helping me keep track of my grocery list right now. Before that, it was Tanya Michaels. My favorite trinket would be chocolate, but I'm no longer advocating stapling chocolate to business cards. I got chocolate in Atlanta. It had melted and re-hardened and turned a little white. I thought really, really hard about eating it anyway.

And everything else went into circle file.

What about you? As a reader, what promotional giveaways do you find effective?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Go girl, go girl, go girl!

Congratulations to Debra Webb! Her book, JOHN DOE ON HER DOORSTEP (THE ENFORCERS) is a finalist in the Maggies, Long Contemporary.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Back from RWA Conference Alive and Well

So glad to be home. Back from RWA National Conference and working on getting my proposals in the mail. Personally, I prefer to attend the smaller, regional conferences, but couldn't pass up National so close. There are few where I don't have to fly.

I concentrated on the Publisher Spotlights. It still amazes me some of the questions people ask during these sessions. On the Avon blog ( Lucia Macro commented that "once again" she was asked about word count "but really we just want good books". The historical isn't dead.

The Golden Heart/Rita ceremony was great. The clips from movies featuring writers were brilliant. Nora Roberts and Gayle Wilson should take their shtick on the road. (g)

So, what was your experience with National? Did you accomplish anything career wise?

Want a good read?

Go and buy Jennifer Echols' MAJOR CRUSH. I promise you won't regret it. I loved the tractor scene. Want to know what I'm talking about? Go get the book. ::g::

"Ooooooh, aaaaaah."