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Archive for March, 2012

I’ve posted a big ol’ excerpt on my website from my upcoming book, A Gentleman Undone. Read it here:

http://www.ceciliagrant.com/a-gentleman-undone1.php

Cover for A Gentleman UndoneNote that this excerpt, the prologue plus the full first chapter, is longer than the excerpt printed at the back of A Lady Awakened. It includes the worst-night-of-Will’s-life prologue, and goes on to where Lydia fleeces him of 180 pounds.

There’s also another, shorter, mid-book excerpt up at Elise Rome’s March Madness blog from when I guested there on March 30. (March Madness is a fabulous series to go back and read – every day of the month she interviewed four or five different subgenre authors and bloggers!)

Also there’s a mini-excerpt, with kissing, on my Facebook page. (Note that the Gentleman Undone tab doesn’t load as quickly as I’d like, and also you have to Like the page to see the excerpt. Yes, it is a blatant ploy to get more people to like me. I’m still compensating for my middle-school years.)

With the release a little over two months away now, I’m excited and nervous. I feel like I went out on four or five different limbs with this book, which made it interesting to write, but also increases the potential for failure.

We’ll see…

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I won’t lie: the Literary Lions gala was every bit as draining as I expected it to be. I was the only romance author there (there were a couple of formerly-romance-now-women’s-fiction authors, but I was the lone representative of straight-up R), and it was not a big romance-reading crowd.

However this just made it all the sweeter when people did buy my book. Which some people did, thank goodness. There were a few who bought it for a friend or relative who reads romance, and some who said, “I don’t usually read romance, but I think it’s great that you’re being included, so I’m going to buy your book.” And then there was Sarah, bless her soul, who had commented on my earlier, dreading-this-whole-event post to say she was going to be there, she loved romance, and she was buying my book.

(Seriously, that was the high point of the night for me. Meeting a romance reader in a sea of non-romance-readers felt like meeting someone from your hometown in a foreign land where nobody speaks your language.)

I met Lee Child, who just oozes charm and graciousness, and who gave a particularly resonant keynote speech. (He, too, came to writing late in life, but grew up as a voracious reader. He told a funny story about his family’s library addiction: their local branch had a limit on how many books you could have out at one time, so whenever they had a houseguest they’d make that person go get a library card; then they’d keep the card so they could check out extra books under the houseguest’s identity.)

At the signing I sat by Elizabeth George (author of the Inspector Lynley books); at the dinner I sat by Kristin Hannah, who used to write romance for Random House before switching to women’s fic. I was slightly starstruck but hopefully didn’t babble too much.

I also saw some gorgeous book covers that made me a little sad about the sameness of romance covers. I mean, obviously there are built-in limits because you want the book to be immediately identifiable as a romance, but when you see, for example, the diversity of what appears on nonfiction covers, it really sort of pounds home the nondiversity of the covers in our genre.

For instance, on the non-Elizabeth-George side of me was garden blogger/radio commentator/debut author Willi Galloway, whose book looks like this:

Book cover: Grow Cook Eat, by Willi Galloway

And down the table from me was a guy who’d written a natural history/cultural history of feathers(! I’m always impressed by the things nonfiction writers think of writing about), and his book looks like this:

Book cover: Feathers, by Thor Hanson

Here’s what’s even cooler about this: what you’re looking at is the spine + front cover. See that fine line that cuts through the “FEATHERS” letters? That’s actually the fold between spine & front. So the front cover, alone, looks like this:

"Feathers," front cover alone

Isn’t that just so striking and awesome? You know, I was thrilled when I got the cover for A Lady Awakened, but I bet *Thor Hanson was turning cartwheels the first time he saw this.

So anyway, the dinner was good (though I made the mistake of sitting down at one of the places with the yellow dessert instead of the chocolate dessert), I got to see a lot of people in fancy clothes, and it was just an all-around honor to have been included. And I hope it will be many months before I put on heels again :)

*FYI in case you ever meet him, the first name is pronounced “Tor.”

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Woke up just before 5:00 this morning and lay awake, thinking “Why did I agree to this? Why?” I’m hoping hard that at least one other Literary Lion is roiled with similar apprehension.

In black-tie clothing news, I discovered my black top/black skirt combo wasn’t going to work (I had envisioned it looking chic and hip, but instead it looked like I didn’t understand the dress code), so I returned the top and bought a dress. It’s purple and fancy-ish (there’s a clutch of rhinestone-type things at the waist) despite being knee-length, but my eyebrow technician (oh, you’d better believe I went to the eyebrow technician), who is apparently an old hand at black-tie-optional affairs, assures me knee-length is acceptable.

Also, I needed a clutch-style purse. I found a just-okay one at Ross Dress for Less; then found a better one at the Salvation Army.

In Documenting the Event news, I discovered I can’t do Twitter on my phone. Will see whether I can do it on my e-reader; then will think about whether it’s appropriate to carry an e-reader into a black-tie-optional event.

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Here’s a roundup of the blogs I visited in promoting my first book, A Lady Awakened. (In case you’ve read it, and want to know what I have to say for myself.)

Manga Maniac Cafe – I talk about the book that turned me on to reading and the mundane way I like to spend my spare time. Also, I quote Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Drunk Writer Talk – On the downside of getting great reviews (spoiler! There is no downside!), the one thing I’d like to change about my writing process, and what to watch on TV now that Friday Night Lights is no more.

Romance Novel News – The influence of other romance writers, the joy of writing bad sex, and a key turning point in A Lady Awakened.

Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks – Random Facts About Me, Random Facts About My Hero & Heroine, and Things That Make Me Laugh. Also, I pick a favorite scene from ALA.

Dear Author – My journey to publication, a little bit about A Gentleman Undone, and lots of detail about my writing process.

RR@H Novel Thoughts – Guest post: I talk about yearning, and how it’s the engine that powers romance.

The Romance Dish – On research, non-romance reading, and my love for not-immediately-likeable characters.

Fiction Vixen – Awkward! A guest appearance at a blog where the reviewer DNF’d my book! This actually turned out to be a lot of fun, with a great discussion in comments about books, movies, & TV shows where you’ve felt out of step with popular sentiment.

“Five Things” with Elizabeth Boyle – Blogs I like, the most romantic place I’ve ever been, and embarrassing music on my MP3 player.

RT Reviews – Manuscripts hidden under the bed, why I don’t think of Theo as a rake, and how A Gentleman Undone differs from A Lady Awakened.

As the Pages Turn – Lines of dialogue or POV that typify the hero & heroine; also, foods I won’t eat.

Rose Lerner’s Blog – On transgressive heroines and movie/tv romances we enjoy. Also, Rose thought ALA‘s bad sex scenes were hot!

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To my surprise, persistent incredulity, and general befuddlement, I was invited to participate in this Notable Local Writers Fundraiser Gala Thing, put on by my county library system in conjunction with a local independent bookstore.

Literary Lions Gala: A Grand Affair, it’s called. It’s next week. Lee Child (is he local to the Pacific Northwest? I didn’t know that) will be the keynote speaker. The rest of us will sign books (or perhaps sit at our lonely tables watching other, more popular writers sign books), schmooze with the foundation’s benefactors, and eventually eat a fancy dinner while listening to Lee Child’s speech. Then maybe more schmoozing. I am frankly terrified by the prospect of this whole thing.

I seriously considered declining the invitation when it came. I’m one of those people for whom social situations, particularly with strangers, are incredibly taxing. I think of something worthwhile to add to a conversation, generally, about six hours after the conversation has taken place. Also, a function with writers of all genres, as opposed to just romance writers, raises the possibility of encountering people who will either dismiss me as Not a Real Writer, or will perhaps make jokes about Fabio, or “researching” love scenes, or the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. It could be painful in about six dozen different ways.

But. The invitation actually disclosed the name of the selection-committee member who suggested me for inclusion, and the name of that person is:

Nancy Pearl.

(Everybody knows who that is, right? Author of the Book Lust series? Model for the Librarian Action Figure? Regular NPR guest?)

I have no idea whether she’s read my book. She might’ve just heard some buzz. I know she’s a fan of Georgette Heyer, and also of the proven-Romance-gateway Betsy-Tacy series, and a friend of mine who knows her assures me she’s not unacquainted with “bodice-rippers,” so maybe she frequents the big blogs and saw a good review or two. I don’t know. All I know is that no writer in her right mind says no to Nancy Pearl. And so I emailed back and said, sure, I will do this Literary Lions thing.

And then I sort of stuck my head in the sand about it. Dreading the sense of exposure that would result from seeing my name on the list of participating authors (I’m borderline pathological about that: the day the Paramore fans found me, my first reaction was not, “Whoa! I’m going to have my best day ever in blog stats by far!” but rather “Gaaaah! People are looking at me! People I don’t know!”), I didn’t actually look at said list until today.

I think I’m going to be the only romance writer there. I looked at the list, freaked out at the sight of my name (also of my bio, which for some reason says I’d wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, which is the opposite of the truth), freaked out more at the impression that mine was the only romance-novel cover in the selection of covers, and closed the page without going back to make sure. My survival strategy for the event had depended in large part on sticking close to the other romance writers, but now I have to come up with a new survival strategy.

This strategy may involve cocktails. It may involve live-tweeting my social angst, if I can figure out how to do Twitter on my phone.

Oh. Also. The event is “black tie optional.” I had to google to find out what that meant. Then I had to go shopping, because I don’t own anything near fancy enough. So now I have this nice black sleeveless top, which I will wear with a black skirt, and hope that this can pass for the “little black dress” that is apparently acceptable, in lieu of red-carpet gowns, at a “black tie optional” affair. (I considered looking for something over-the-top pink and frilly, perhaps with a Barbara-Cartland-style feather boa, but couldn’t bring myself to spend what that would have cost. The nice black top was on sale.)

Anyway, I’m hoping hard that I’ll get there and find out that all the authors are socially awkward and worried about not having worn the right thing. That seems like a reasonable possibility, right?

So, blog readers: have any of you ever been to a scary social event? How did you psych yourself up/talk yourself down for it? Should I be visualizing the best possible outcome, in order to make it happen, or imagining every possible disaster, so I won’t be taken by surprise?

 

 

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