Archive for category conventions

Poll: Best in Swag

I’m going low-key on swag for RT this year, but I am doing a party for which I’m contributing items for door-prize bags, so I’m wondering, of the things I have on-hand, which of these would you most prefer to receive in a prize bag: one of my custom pin-back buttons (with the “smart • savvy • sexy” phrase on them), a postcard featuring the gorgeous cover of The Silence of the Stars, or an awesome Kate McMurray bookmark?

(NGL, this is also an excuse to try out this poll plugin for WordPress. Works pretty well, right?)

Rainbow Book Fair this Saturday, 3/29

I’ll be at the Rainbow Book Fair this Satuday, 12–6pm at the Holiday Inn on W. 57th Street in New York City. Stop by if you’re in the area! I will very likely be at the Rainbow Romance Writers table doing my chapter president thang, and I’ll have pamphlets and things on-hand for anyone looking for more info about the chapter. I will also have books for sale at the table hosted by myself, Tere Michaels, and Damon Suede. This’ll be my 4th RBF, and it’s always a good time. Hope to see you there!

some updates

This post is going to be all over the place, so bear with me, but updates!

• If you follow me on social media, you probably saw that my laptop finally bit the big one last week. I helped it along by spilling water on it, but it’s been on its way out for a while. It’s more than six years old. It was running super slow. I’ve been saving in anticipation of buying a new one this year. This just happened so suddenly that I was surprised and spent a whole day freaking out because I make my livelihood by typing on that stupid thing and… yeah. Not having a computer is a bad thing for a writer.

So that was stressful, and I haven’t replaced it yet for a few reasons, but things are okay. My entire hard drive was backed up on my external drive, so I haven’t lost anything (phew!) and I’ve got my tablet and a temporary loaner laptop to use until I can purchase a new one. This is going to slow me down a little, but I have so much going on in March I don’t have a lot of time for writing anyway.

• Barb put up a post Friday at Live Your Life, Buy the Book for her birthday in which she picked a sweet sixteen set of Loose Id books to celebrate. These same books are now on sale. They include Across the East River Bridge by yours truly as well as some of my old favorites including Duty and Devotion, Nowhere Ranch, and Long Tall Drink. She asked the authors of books she picked to write up a little something, so I talked about the ill-fated romance I found myself in when I was at a camp for overachievers at the University of Michigan when I was sixteen. I felt like that tied in nicely with the rival-academics theme of AtERB.

• I’ve got the final cover and blurb for The Silence of the Stars, so I’ll reveal that… soon. I’m not certain of the pub date, but I think May sometime. That’s the sequel to The Stars that Tremble, though it works pretty well as a standalone. This is Sandy’s story, and I put him through the ringer emotionally, but it’s actually not super angsty. More on that soon.

• Although if you plan to come to Liberty States in New Jersey next weekend, I’ll totally show you the cover. It’s gorgeous and I <3 it. (The big book signing is open to the public 4:30–6pm, so drop by if you’re in the area. A number of my favorite people will be signing books as well, including Tere Michaels, Damon Suede, and K.A. Mitchell.) Convention registration just ended, but the signing is open to everyone.

• I spent most of January and February reading books assigned to me because of contests or book club or research, so I finally got to read a book just for the hell of it this weekend, and it was glorious. (I find that, even if I’m enjoying a book, if I HAVE to read it, it feels like homework.)

I will say: reading books critically as a contest judge is tricky. It’s kind of like reviewing, I imagine, though for me, being an anonymous judge means I can be totally candid about how I feel about a book. Most of the contest books ended up being kind of middle-of-the-road for me: not terrible, but not that great either. There was competent writing and all the normal romance signposts, though some felt a little parboiled to me. (By which I mean: underdeveloped, not quite there yet.) It made me a little sad, actually; I guess if you read enough books that don’t really work for you in a row, you start to despair.

I think there’s value in reading critically in that you can analyze what it is that doesn’t work and apply those lessons to your own writing, so that’s my take away. But, for example, in a romance novel, I want that first “I love you” to be earned. I’ve read a lot of books lately where it feels like the characters are declaring their love for each other not because they actually are in love but just because we’re 3/4 of the way through the novel.

I want to write more on this topic—and on sex scenes, because I saw a few doozies in the contest books and in something I read over the weekend. (Short version: I’m noticing a lot of things that read to me as more “this is here because the author thinks it’s required” than “this is something the characters would organically do.”) I mean, romance is fantasy, no question, and there are things I can excuse in a story I’m enjoying, but a lot of what I’ve read lately doesn’t really match up with my own experience. (I have a lot to say on this topic, apparently, because I just wrote several paragraphs and then deleted them for fear I was getting too TMI, but suffice it to say we all bring our own experience to bear when we’re reading, and I have read some things lately that made me scratch my head and think, “Do actual humans behave in this way?” so.)

Anyway, this is a long enough post. Happy Monday!

news briefs

Happy holidays, everyone! Here are a few things happening in 2014:

I’m reading at Lady Jane’s Salon on January 6th! If you can get yourself to Houston Street in NYC at 7pm, you should come! I’ll be reading from The Stars that Tremble.

Last week, I signed a contract for the sequel to The Stars that Tremble. It’ll be out late spring 2014. It’s called The Silence of the Stars and I pretty much put Sandy through the emotional ringer. I put up an unofficial blurb on the Upcoming page.

I just booked my hotel room for Liberty States (finally) and got my roommate situation sorted out for RT, so conventions are happening.

And I’m gearing up to take on the presidency of Rainbow Romance Writers on January 1st.

In the meantime, I spent December writing a very silly holiday novella that may be out next December? I always hate to predict these things before the ink is dry on the contract, especially for something like this that wasn’t in my schedule. I like this story, but it’s over-the-top happy holiday fluff, basically. Sometimes you need that, though.

Warm wishes to you and yours! Here’s to a stellar 2014!

GRL 2013 Wrap-Up

I can say, as someone who has been to every GRL, that each one has kind of a different vibe. For me, the six days I spent in Atlanta were busy and intense but also really wonderful and surprising and inspiring.

[I wrote this post Tuesday, and then thought, "I didn't take any photos, so I'll pull some off Facebook later," then kept forgetting to go do that. If you are friends with any gay romance author on the Book of Faces, you've probably seen the photopalooza of the last few days and are totally sick of it, so this will be a texty review of events. I'll paint pictures with words! (Ha, no, what am I, in a college creative writing class?) Here are my impressions as recorded Tuseday.]

This year, I got involved behind the scenes to help run the first ever Writers Workshop. The Workshop was run by Rainbow Romance Writers, for which I am the current president-elect, and it was intended to bring together writers to help share and foster talent. The whole event was a phenomenal success. It went more smoothly than I ever thought possible and we got nothing but positive feedback. Participants seemed to enjoy the classes—even my workshop on setting, although I felt like I got off to a slow start—and the pitch appointments ended up being a great surprise, with many writers doing their first ever pitches. I know some editors asked for partials and full manuscripts, so maybe the next big success will come of it.

I’ve already started talking to the GRL organizers about bringing it back next year, so stay tuned!

Somehow in all this, the Scarf Dance meme was created. Well, Damon Suede told a room full of people that I would be performing a scarf dance at the post-Workshop cocktail party, and people might have been disappointed that I just gave a short speech, but I did wave my arms a bit, and then Damon spent the rest of the week yelling “scarf dance!” at me.

(Phrase memes became a theme of the week. I roomed with Tere Michaels, and by the end, we were so tired, we were basically just speaking to each other in code. “Scarf dance?” “Clown!”)

Thursday morning, I went to the supporting author signing. I grabbed the sampler of stories by the supporting authors and carried it around to get signed by everyone. Putting that book together was a fantastic idea and gave me a good excuse to talk to all the authors there. I can’t wait to flip through it and read.

I volunteered to moderate, so I spent all of Thursday afternoon at the pub for readings. I moderated the very first session—Anne Tenino, Lloyd Meeker, and Shannon West, who were all fantastic—then I stuck around for Damon, Heidi Cullinan, and Deanna Wadsworth, then finally I read from The Stars that Tremble after readings from Jade Buchanan and Anna Zabo. (I heard later that while I was reading, TJ Klune proposed to Eric Arvin. Congrats, guys!)

Thursday night was the neon-themed Juke Joint party, a blast as always.

Friday morning, I did a storytelling panel on sports romance with Devon Rhodes and TA Chase, who are awesome and amazing and now I want to read their athletes series. (Obscure sports from around the world!)

Friday afternoon was the Fun Fair, including Scrapbooking with the Rainbow Romance Writers, which seemed to be a big hit. After doing all the prep work for that, I could go a while without seeing another glue stick, but we’re already talking about doing it again next year and extending the event to 2 hours instead of just 1 so readers have time to hit up every author.

At Dine with an Author, I wound up at a table tucked in the corner with Mr. Suede, but we had a fun little bunch of people. This was followed up by the Dreamspinner cocktail party, which was super classy! I really enjoyed seeing everyone all dressed up.

Saturday morning, I moderated the first session of readings—Jordan L. Hawk, P.D. Singer, and Angel Martinez, who, again, were all fantastic—then I crashed Tere Michaels’s panel on cop romances, which she did with Hank Edwards and Sylvia Violet. (Poor Tere had no voice by then.)

Saturday afternoon was the big book signing. Three hours is a lot and I had a terrible headache through most of it—not to be whiney—but it was great to see fans and talk to people I hadn’t been able to talk to up to that point in the convention.

Then there was a cocktail party and the Heaven & Hell Masquerade. I’m not really into wearing costumes, but I appreciate when other people do, and I really loved that party and how great some of those costumes were. My halo and angel wings were apparently not convincing, though. I can’t imagine why people weren’t buying the angel act. O:-)

There was brunch Sunday. I was busy trying to figure out how to ship leftover scrapbooking stuff and missed the photo booth, something I regret in retrospect. Then I flew home.

I worked yesterday, which wasn’t as bad as I expected, but today I am tiiiired.

My takeaways? I love this community of writers and readers so very much. I am SO EXCITED to get back to writing as soon as I have enough energy to do it. I have a towering virtual TBR pile on the Kindle with books written by authors I met and adored, so if I could have a week off to just read, that would be awesome. (My boss does not seem to like this idea.) And finally, I left with a lot of optimism for my tenure as RRW President in 2014. (I’m about 80% happy and excited and 20% abjectly terrified about taking over as president. I have some, er, big, loud shoes to fill. Perhaps my reign will be more understated but we’ll still kick ass and get a lot done as a chapter.)

At GRL this week…

I have started 3 separate GRL-related posts and then not put them up, partly because I’ve been so busy that I keep starting them without finishing them. But here is a quickie with some info about what I’ll be up to:

The Saturday Book Signing is open to the public, so if you can’t make it to GRL but are within travel distance of Atlanta, you can come by and meet a lot of awesome authors.

I’ll be at the Writers Workshop all day Wednesday. I’m teaching a workshop about setting and have come up with enough to talk about to fill an hour. There’s a hand-out. I may tell a few jokes. It’ll be fun.

I’m reading from The Stars that Tremble on Thursday.

I’m doing a storyteller spotlight on Friday with TA Chase and Devon Rhodes in which we will discuss sports romances and give away lots of cool prizes. I made plushie baseballs, guys. They are really cute.

And on Friday during the Fun Fair, you can come get your craft on at the Rainbow Romance Writers scrapbooking event.

If you end up at my Dine with an Author table, I’ve got some cool New York-y items to give away.

I have agonized over outfits and am still not totally sure which outfit I am wearing to which party. If anyone wants to play wardrobe consultant, the position is available.

Also, confidential to anyone who sees this: I found 2 copies of In Hot Pursuit when I was packing yesterday, and I will happily give one to whoever gets to me first.

RWA 2013 Wrap-Up

After a heavy dose of Murphy’s Law to the trip home and 11 hours of sleep, I’m… well, to say “recovered” from the 2013 Romance Writers of America national conference might be overstating, but I’m awake, which is more than I could say for yesterday.

Short version: RWA was fun, educational, supportive, overwhelming, tiring, well-heeled, coffee-fueled, and really great over all.

Long version:

Background: I joined RWA at the beginning of 2011, so I haven’t been a member very long, but in that time I have been active, joining my local chapter, attending local conferences, and, of course, getting myself elected vice president/president-elect of the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter. But this was the first year that I could afford to go to Nationals, so I went and made the most of it.

Here are 10 things I learned at my first RWA conference:

1. It’s a conference, not a convention. It’s a meeting of professionals more than a meeting of fans (like RT). People are there to do business and behave accordingly. (Well, given how much time is spent at the bar, it’s not ALL business, but you get what I mean.)

2. I found it much easier to network at this convention than I have at others, RT in particular. This is probably for a few reasons. My conference roommate (and RRW president) Damon Suede suggested it was mostly geography—the hotel at RT had a layout that was far more spread out, whereas the Marriott in Atlanta had more centralized areas where people congregated. I think also people are encouraged to network and interact with each other—that’s the purpose of a conference, after all—so strangers were more willing to talk to me. Also “What do you write?” is a pretty easy ice breaker.

3. I went all out with the wardrobe, doing a lot of pre-conference shopping and then wearing my cutest shoes and dresses around. I like clothes, though, so take this with a grain of salt, but dressing up was totally worth it (and fun!) because I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and said, “I love your dress!” and then launched into conversation. It’s good for networking AND self-esteem.

4. Nora Roberts always wears awesome shoes. Always.

5. The vibe is super positive. Aside: I went to the workshop presented by two sociologists on their observations of women in the romance writing community, which was absolutely fascinating—I couldn’t scribble down notes fast enough—and one of the things they mentioned is the supportive nature of the community and the emphasis on niceness. That’s a lot to get into in a blog post that is already getting long, but I thought of that as I realized that everyone had a very, “You can do it!” attitude. That was, in fact, the message of the week from all corners: keep trying and eventually you will find success.

Generally speaking, the workshops I attended were pretty great. If you should snag the recordings, the best ones I saw in person were, in no particular order: the one on series with Eloisa James and Sarah MacLean; The Numbers, which was full of wonky publishing industry stuff; the incomparable Jude Devereux sharing writing advice; the above-mentioned sociology panel (I’m already on line to buy that book when it’s published); and Cherry Adair’s talk about a career plan, because, though it went a little off-topic, I was completely charmed by Ms. Adair.

6. I have some kind of disease that makes me want ALL THE BOOKS. Whenever an opportunity to get a free book arose, my heart sped up a little in anticipation. I’m always going to be that kid who blew her allowance money at the local book store, I guess. I had to actively tell myself not to take too many books, and still I was desperately wedging them into my suitcase when I packed to go home. (And I was selective only taking books I was pretty sure I’d read. There were hundreds of books I talked myself out of picking up.) I, in fact, fretted all the way to the airport that I’d be over the 50-pound weight limit and have to pay the overweight bag fee. Final verdict: 49 pounds.

(As I mentioned above, that was basically the only thing that went right on my trip through the Atlanta airport with Damon. He, in fact, got stopped by security, because they apparently found it suspicious that his carry-on was full of paperback romance novels. This was after we found out that what we thought was a direct flight from ATL to LGA actually had a connection in Charlotte. Damon was like, “At least there were no cavity searches.” That was how that went. I was convinced when we got to New York that our luggage was going to be in North Dakota. It wasn’t, but still, it was that kind of day.)

7. I learned a lot about tax exemptions and bylaws a the Chapter Leadership Seminar, but you, the layperson, probably don’t care about that. That and the Annual General Meeting were interesting peeks into the way RWA is run. My takeaway was mostly positive, although there was a small scandal involving term limits for board positions as dictated by the new universal chapter bylaws, which could have negative consequences for small chapters.

8. Kristan Higgins’ speech at the awards luncheon was AMAZING. If it got recorded and you can find it online, I recommend watching it. Bring tissues. (I was off-site with other business during the Cathy Maxwell keynote, but I’m sad to have missed it because I heard it was also really awesome.)

9. Despite the fact that my badge was decked out with rainbow pins, I never knew quite how to respond when some older southern lady asked what I write. I always said, “gay romance, mostly contemporaries” and was thankfully always greeted with enthusiasm.

The big guns want LGBT romance, too. A few imprints are actively seeking it. It’s exciting, watching the progress unfold.

10. I enjoyed the RITAs. I really enjoyed the Samhain after-party. I got my dance on and it was good. I went to a few of the other parties, too, but RWA is weird in that almost everything is invitation-only. With good reason, of course. I heard that I should write a 15,000 word novella for Harlequin or Carina Press just to get into the Harlequin party next year; people seem to agree it was the best party. Guess I should polish off that secret baby manuscript.

So the conference was great all around. My mind is still buzzing. Damon gave me a plot bunny for a long book series that I guess I have to write now. I met a ton of new people, including a few RRW chapter-mates. And now I have all those books to read.

BONUS: Damon took me over to the Melia hotel to check out the event spaces for GayRomLit, and it looks pretty great. I’m now doubly excited for October!

RWA is next week!

If you’re attending the Romance Writers of America convention in Atlanta next week, hopefully I’ll see you there! If you’re in the Atlanta area, the big signing Wednesday night (7/17) from 5:30 to 7:30 is open to the public. I’ll be signing there, so stop by and say hi!

I’m really looking forward to it!

I’ll start up the Five Things on Friday posts again later in July when I’m back.

five things on friday: BEA and Save the Date

Weekly wrap-up!

1. Save the Date came out on Tuesday! It is now available at most ebook retailers. *dances*

2. It’s Kate McMurray Week at the Armchair Reader. Cole has bravely embarked on the task of reading my entire backlist. We also did an interview that was posted yesterday. Follow the link to all of the posts and leave a comment on the interview to win a copy of the book.

3. Other places I have been this week:

• I wrote a post for the All Romance eBooks cafe blog for Pride Month
• I guest-posted at Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House.
• Today I’m at Flirty Author Bitches.

*The last two are stops on the Big Gay Wedding tour. Leave a comment at either to be entered to win a copy of Save the Date.

4. I missed posting last Friday because I was at Book Expo America. It was an interesting experience. Plenty of people have wrapped it up better than me, but I can tell you what I did there, which was a) sweat a lot because, as a friend of mine said, it was hot as balls outside; b) gave away a ton of books at the Dreamspinner booth; c) got some really amazing books and ARCs from around the exhibition hall; d) made some good editorial contacts; e) hung out with some awesome people; f) fangirled on some authors; g) saw celebrities, including Chelsea Handler, Julianne Moore, and Grumpy Cat.

5. I’m currently working on edits for What There Is, a short novella coming out this summer. It started out as a baseball story, but it ended up being about a former baseball player who wants to find something else to do with his life. It’s been a little bit of a struggle because I’ve been out for the count with a nasty cold most of the week, but I’m feeling much better today so I can concentrate on these edits. I saw a cover mock up yesterday and it’s gorgeous.

And that’s a wrap for this week. See you next week!

five things on friday: lots of news!

I saw these gorgeous pink flowers yesterday. Hooray spring!

I saw these gorgeous pink flowers yesterday. Hooray spring!

Lots of things to report in the weekly wrap-up post!

1. I’m trying to get the word out that there’s still time to register for the GayRomLit Writers Workshop if you have not done so yet, but you only have until July 15th. It takes place the Wednesday before GRL and is a separate event, so make sure you register if you want to go. If you need an extra incentive, the preliminary schedule has been posted to the GRL website so you can get an idea for what you’re in for. I think this is a fantastic lineup and I’m really psyched for it. There’s something here for everyone, too, from the aspiring to the established author.

2. Ink is drying on the contract for my next novel, the book I’ve mentioned before that is a romance between an opera singer and construction worker called The Stars that Tremble. It’ll be out in the fall (hopefully in time for GRL *fingers crossed*).

3. Book Expo America is next week. I’ll be there on Thursday and Friday—if you will be there also, I want to know! Maybe we can wave at each other across the vast expanse of the exhibition hall!

4. The TV show White Collar has been filming in my neighborhood, much to the consternation of anyone who needs to navigate 8th Avenue in Brooklyn because they keep closing off streets, but I don’t even care because I walked past Matt Bomer on my evening commute Thursday, and that, my friends, made my week. Dear Lord, that is a beautiful man. (I was too awestruck to get a photo. Next time!)

5. You may have heard about the wave of anti-gay violence in New York City. Monday night, I was in the West Village for a book club meeting, and I saw part of the neighborhood rally against the violence. I’m appalled by these crimes—I think there have been 7 incidents just this month, including one man who was shot and killed—but it’s amazing to see people in Chelsea and the West Village come together. Still, it’s alarming; the crimes are seemingly random and unconnected, maybe not a reaction to anything specific so much as a coincidence. I’ve lived in New York in an era when it is one of the safest large cities in the country, and it’s so easy to forget that it’s still a city where crime and violence are not exactly anathema. Although, I also read an articule today that argued that it’s not so much an increase in anti-gay crime in the city as it is an increase in reporting.

BONUS! If you like Regency romances, I just read A Lady Awakened by Cecelia Grant and I loved it so, so much. (It’s not m/m, no, but it’s such a great book.) It’s so refreshingly different from every Regency you’ve read before, with a cold heroine who must be thawed and a flawed hero who has to grow up, and together they fumble their way through their specific purposes—hers to keep her estate, his to learn how to manage his land—and end up together, and it’s fantastic.