Archive for February, 2012

Beat Your Winter Blues Kate McMurray Giveaway Winner!

A day late but no less cool! I used random.org to draw a number from the comments, and that commenter will win either a signed print copy of The Boy Next Door or the ebook of their choice from my backlist. That winner is:

Liam Grey

*throws confetti*

Liam, you can either contact me directly at kate (at) katemcmurray.com with your preferences or I will send you an email this evening.

You’re all still in the grand prize drawing, too! Thanks so much for stopping by last week!

serendipity

Here’s an odd coincidence:

I’m reading at Lady Jane’s Salon on March 5. (Lady Jane’s is New York City’s only romance reading series. It’s at 7pm at Madame X on Houston and you should totally come!) On Thursday, I got a big box delivered that contains the books I’ll be selling at the reading. And then Thursday night, I picked up my mail and saw I got my copy of Romance Writers Report, which is RWA’s magazine, and lo, there is an article called “The Art of Reading Aloud” by Janet Mullany, which features quotes from some of the Lady Jane’s founders on how to do a reading.

It’s like someone knew!

I’m not a stranger to public speaking, but I’ve only done one other public reading, and that was small potatoes and also almost two years ago, so this is making me a teensy bit nervous. Actually, right now, I’m agonizing over which scene to read. I’ll be reading from The Boy Next Door because it just came out in paperback. I’ve got it narrowed down to the first chapter, the scene where Lowell and Jase meet again for the first time, or the scene when Lowell and Jase have dinner right up until Jase finally comes clean and they kiss for the first time, because that is one of my favorite scenes in the novel. (Uh, if any of you have read the book and have alternate suggestions, I’m open to them!)

It’s funny; I go back and forth on whether it’s less scary to talk in front of a room of people I know or a room full of strangers. The Lady Jane’s crowd will be a mix of both, I think. I’m not an especially shy person, and I’ve had to give speeches in front of large groups of people before, but, I don’t know, there’s something different about reading your own writing.

Also, I’m trying to decide if this is a good excuse to buy a new party dress. :)

In other news, I designed new business cards for myself and I’m really happy with how they came out. They’re printed on really nice paper and I can’t stop touching them because I’m dweeby that way.

Beat Your Winter Blues: Authors by the Fireside


January–April 2012

I’m thrilled to be hosting the Beat Your Winter Blues Blog Tour this week! I’ve got Heidi Cullinan, Ellis Carrington, JL Merrow, and Andrew Grey talking about our hearths and homes this week. Remember that commenting on any BYWB post gets you entered into the big grand prize drawing at the end of April and commenting this week can win you a shiny signed print copy of my novel The Boy Next Door or an e-copy of any book from my backlist! (Comment by the end of the day Saturday and I’ll announce the winner Sunday!)

And don’t miss these! Ellis Carrington’s Immortal Valentine; JL Merrow’s Midnight in Berlin and a story in Dreamspinner’s Two Tickets to Paradise Anthology.

Let’s hear what the authors have to say: Read the rest of this entry »

Beat Your Winter Blues this week!

We are over at JL Merrow’s talking about Valentine’s Day! You can saunter on over there to learn how February 14th is somehow my own personal Bad Luck Day. By some miracle, I manage to escape relatively unscathed this year, although I’m getting over a cold, so that made it maybe not as pleasant as it could have been. (But there was chocolate!)

Actually, things kind of worked out on one front. My 3-year-old Kindle finally gave up the ghost. I called customer service to see if there was anything they could do; my old one was long out of warrantee, but I paid them a surprisingly low amount for a replacement and by whatever voodoo magic Amazon works with UPS, I’ve got that sucker in my hot little hands already. And, since the blue cover I wanted was sold out, I decided to buy a hot pink cover for it, so it’s a couple of sparkly butterfly stickers short of being the girliest e-reader ever.

And it looks like my baseball novel, still titled Out in the Field because I haven’t come up with a better title, will be out at the end of April. Out in the real MLB, pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring training this week, so that thing you smell in the air is the impending baseball season. I, for one, am pretty excited for that.

news

Two blog posts in one day! Crazy! Let’s do it in bullet points this time.

  • It’s Beat Your Winter Blues tour day again. This week we’re at Ellis Carrington’s blog talking about where we’d go if we could leave right now. Hop on over for information on how to win books, or leave a comment to be entered into the big drawing, a $200 gift card.
  • I blogged today at the RWANYC blog about how to write a love scene. (The title of the post “No Gratuitous Sex” is a leeetle misleading; look, I’m all in favor of gratuitous sex, but my point about writing love scenes in romance novels is that each scene should have a purpose. Go read the post for more.)
  • Speaking of Lady Jane’s Salon, it looks like I’ll be reading there next month, so if you’re in the NYC area on Monday March 5th, stop by! (I believe I will be reading from The Boy Next Door to celebrate its recent paperback release!) I’ll have more details about that soon. (I just confirmed it this morning, so I’m all buzzing with excitement and nervousness. This is only the second reading I’ve done… ever.)

“uh, because these books are awesome?”

For my birthday a few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a Vera Bradley book cover that is just the right size to hide the cover of a mass market paperback. (It’s really cute; it has pink elephants on it.) At the time, I was still doing most of my reading on the subway ride to work, out in public view of everyone. I assume most straphangers judge my reading material, because I totally judge theirs. And even the most beautifully written, engaging, delightful romances often have awful covers. So hiding the clutch cover under the pink elephants was one way to trick other subway riders that I was reading Anna Karenina. Or probably they thought I was overcompensating and assumed I was reading something trashy anyway. An e-reader kind of solves the problem, because they’re ubiquitous on the subway now, and you don’t know, I could be reading Freedom. (Although I sometimes worry that when I’m reading something smutty, everyone on the train can tell, like it’s written all over my face. On a recent subway trip, I started a new novel that opened with a really graphic blowjob, and I’m pretty sure the guy sharing the pole with me [hurr, not like that] was reading over my shoulder.)

I’ve been thinking about romance reading and shame. The genre is still much-maligned, considered trashy and fluffy and not “literary.” But of course there are plenty of really smart, talented people who read and write romance. And this is a genre that I have come to really love and care about. I want writers to succeed. I want the genre to gain respect. (All of romance, I mean, because I read the high-brow ones, and I love brainy historicals, and I love mysteries and romantic suspense, and I read m/m and f/f and m/f and every now and then a menage, and I even still occasionally read those Harlequin Presents about the Virgin Sheikh’s Secret Baby’s Mistress or whatever, too, because I am a total sucker for an over-the-top ridiculous plot. Not all books are for everyone, but each has its passionate fans.)

A lot of things came together for me this past Monday night. I’d been thinking a lot about the situation with the More than Magic contest and RWA.

Aside: I usually stay away from controversy on this blog, but I do tend to be someone with very strong opinions. I’ve been following this particular issue somewhat obsessively but not really commenting on it publicly. Part of this is just a lack of time (it’s taken me two days just to write this blog post because I’m so busy with other things) but I also didn’t want to knee-jerk. At the same time, I’m a fairly upbeat person, so I thought, well, I want to write about this, but I can stay positive.

So, as to the More than Magic fallout, there were good things that came out of it. My local chapter, RWANYC, announced on Sunday that they would enthusiastically accept all romance to their Love and Laughter contest later this year. As president Lise Horton said, “Love, after all, knows no boundaries.” The membership of RWANYC is really diverse, both in terms of the people themselves and what they choose to write, and they accept everyone. That’s a refrain I’ve heard a lot from other writers—most have had really great experiences with their local chapters. RWI is not representative of the organization as a whole, is the impression I have. There’s been some lively discussion among the members of the Rainbow Romance Writers, too, although plenty of other people have talked about that more eloquently than I can.

Bottom line is that I’ve been really encouraged by the discussion and I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish, and I feel now that choosing to stick with RWA was the right decision. It took me a while to figure out what RWA could do for me, but THIS, this is what it can do.

So with all that on the brain, I went to Lady Jane’s Salon on Monday night. Lady Jane’s is a romance reading series that serendipitously takes place at one of my favorite bars in NYC, Madame X. (Lauren Willig, Eloisa James, and Sarah Wendell were the readers.) Over the course of the night, I had several conversations about romance as a genre with a pretty wide array of attendees. Everyone there was really friendly and enthusiastic about the genre. (I met a woman, for example, with whom the conversation basically went, “Hi, I’m ____.” “I’m Kate.” “Do you love romance novels?” “Of course!” and that was pretty much the tenor of the evening.)

My friend A and I have been going to pretty much every romance-novel-related event in NYC that we’ve come across in the last two or three months. What I’m learning is that New York has a really incredible community of romance writers and readers who are really fun to hang around with. These are really smart people, too.

Romance has the problem of being a medium that is (mostly) created by, produced by, and made for women, which I’m sure contributes to its reputation. But one of the things that Lady Jane’s Salon does, and one of the things that RWA and its chapters can do, is lend legitimacy, recognition, and respect to the genre.

So if you love romance, support the genre. Go to readings in your area. Talk up books you like. Celebrate what you love to read.

RWA and discrimination

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a lot of discussion happening right now about Romance Writers Ink, a Tulsa-based chapter of RWA, which runs a contest called More than Magic. Among the guidelines for the contest is one disturbing note: “Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.” (Here are the rules.) This, despite the fact that an LGBT book (More by Sloan Parker) won first place in the First Book category last year.

Heidi Cullinan’s post on the issue is great and you should read it: RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination.

I joined RWA about a year ago. I know some of the members of my local chapter through my participation in National Novel Writing Month and they’d been bugging me to join for a long time. I’ll be honest; it wasn’t clear to me at first what my dues money was going to. I wound up not being able to attend most of last year’s convention, even though it was right here in New York last year, but I thought, if anything, it was a way to connect to other romance writers. The New York City chapter has been very supportive of me when I ask for it, and I’ve written articles for their newsletter and guest posts on their blog. One thing I like about them is that they are totally open to all kinds of romance writers: erotica, LGBT, Christian, contemporary, paranormal, you name it, it’s all represented.

At the beginning of this year, I joined Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance special interest chapter of RWA. I feel like I’ve found my people. This is such a fantastic group of writers. They’ve been a real force behind making it known that RWA’s wishy-washy response to discrimination is unacceptable and spreading the word about the situation. One of the missions of the chapter is to bring more attention to LGBT romance and advocate for it. “Take it mainstream,” is how Damon Suede put it when we had dinner together last fall. These are writers who take their craft seriously, who care about the genre, who want to put out good books. (Writers, please consider joining! It’s a great group!)

On a personal note, it’s been an interesting journey into the land of romance writing. I held off on joining RWA because, when I first found out about it, I was still writing overwrought “literary” fiction, which is what too many creative writing classes will do to you, I guess. But then, maybe five years ago, I listened to an episode of This American Life about RWA, and that somehow was the push I needed to give romance writing a try (or to admit that most of what I was writing was pretty much romance anyway). It took me a while to accept that romance was my calling (and I’ve loved genre fiction, romance and mysteries especially, since I was a kid, so I don’t know why I held out so long). And I love m/m, I still really enjoy writing (and reading!) it, so there’s that, too. It’s been a real joy for me to connect with other writers and readers over the last year, because I love to talk about books and writing and I WILL talk at length if you let me.

So it’s a shame that RWA, which has the potential to do so much good for a genre that—let’s face it—is often maligned, can’t see the forest for the trees.

Edited to add: Best course of action for now seems to be to email RWA National to let them know we won’t tolerate discrimination, and also to spread the word. Maybe a critical mass of people will persuade RWA to change their policy. See also Kari Gregg.

Beat Your Winter Blues this week!

The Beat Your Winter Blues blog tour soldiers on! I’m one of the February authors, celebrating the paperback release of The Boy Next Door so I and several other awesome authors are featured in today’s post over at Lou Harper’s blog. This week, we’re talking about winter in our backyards. It’s been above 60°F in New York City for the last two days, so winter in my backyard is warm? Freakishly so? (But if you want to see more photos of Brooklyn in the snow, check out the Kindling Fire with Snow bonus features.

Things are still crazy around here, although tonight I took time out from work to go see Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books at the Jefferson Market Library, which is a really lovely building in Greenwich Village. The talk was great; once the crowd warmed up, there were lots of book recommendations thrown around, and I do enjoy talking about romance novels. (I gotta say, romance readings/talks have been some of the most fun book/library events I’ve been to, and I go to a fair number of readings.) (If anyone got here because I gave them a bookmark, hello!)