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Archive for the ‘RWA Nationals 2010’ Category

This is it.  Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, pedal to the metal.  No more blogging, and no more than 20 minutes per day reading other people’s blogs, until this book is finished and handed in.

Topics hover around, though, stacking up like MD80’s over O’Hare, and I need to at least radio out and let them know they haven’t been forgotten.  So here are ten things I wish I could be blogging about:

  1. This item I got for a quarter from the closeout bin at my supermarket:

    "New Moon" themed Sweethearts candyIn case it’s not clear from the photo, the candy hearts pictured on the box say:

    • “I ♥ JB”
    • “Howl”
    • “Save me”
  2. The fabulousness of Sherry Thomas.  I read His at Night a few months back, and spent some time trying to put my finger on just what it is that makes this author’s books work so well for me.  I have some thoughts I hope to whip into essay form.

    Also I can tell about my ignominious moment of meeting Thomas at RWA Nationals (same publisher; same publisher party).  Basically, I said Hi and then clammed up for fear that even a simple “I really like your books” might cascade into such effusive gushing as could make the Deepwater Horizon look like a pinhole leak in a garden hose.

  3. More about my family’s trip through the South, including our visit to Colonial St. Augustine where I annoyed all the costumed colonial tradesmen by asking whether a woman might ever conceivably have done that job.  Don’t give me that look, Sir!  I happen to know there were female silversmiths in 18th-century London!

  4. “You mean those books were free?” How I made it to the last day of the RWA conference without grasping why people would miss workshops to stand in those long lines for the author signings.  And other incidences of my stupidity at Nationals.
  5. Business cards collected at Nationals, featuring…

    Mini business cardsMini-cards!  Aren’t they adorable?  They kinda remind me of those mini supermarket club cards that go on your keychain instead of in your wallet.

  6. My resolution to broaden my reading horizons beyond my current narrow diet of historicals set in the Georgian, Regency, or Victorian periods.

    Because every writer I met at Nationals, YA or erotica or romantic suspense, said, “Oh, I love Regency” when I told them what I wrote, and I felt like a total jerk not being able to reciprocate.

    At least I had sufficient wits about me to ask for recommendations in their genre(s), and now I’ve got myself a reading list to work through.

  7. Cool people met at Nationals, starting with the awesome Molly O’Keefe, a Harlequin author who’s expanding into single titles with Bantam and who won the Rita for her novella The Christmas Eve Promise while I went quietly nuts at my table.  (“Omigod I know her!  I know her!  I had lunch with her just today!”)
  8. A promo giveaway so inspired, I may have to steal the idea.  Historical author & promo whiz Jeannie Lin is leveraging social networks in an impressively organized way to promote her upcoming debut, Butterfly Swords.

    The whole scheme sounds pretty brilliant, with prizes for her promo elves, but the part that really caught my eye is that one of the prizes is an annotated manuscript of Butterfly Swords!

    Sez Lin:

    Think of it as the DVD commentary, book version. It will include discussion about story elements, reflections, how parts of the story evolved. Thought it might be fun to do.

    Am I the only reader geeky enough to get chills at the thought of an annotated manuscript?

  9. On my genre’s right to respect, and how I think it’s getting closer.  This is a big and perennial topic for me.  Most recently I read Jon Meacham’s editorial in Newsweek‘s Books issue (Aug. 9) asserting the merits of the mystery and thriller genres.  As usual with this sort of piece, I read through his various arguments thinking, yep, you could say that about romance too.

    And then I came to this part:

    The narrative [of a mystery/thriller, just like any other work of fiction] gives us a glimpse, however fleeting, of what William Faulkner called the “old verities and truths of the heart…love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.”

    Deja vu!  I’d cited that exact same Faulkner quote in a “Why do you read/write romance?” discussion on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog just a few weeks earlier.  Kind of a tingly, zeitgeisty moment.

  10. I did have a #10 but I forgot it.  So instead, another look at the New Moon candy:

    Box of New Moon Sweethearts candy

    See where it says “You’ve felt the flame…Now catch the chill”? There’s an Edward version of these too, but the closeout bin didn’t have any of those. Make of that what you will.

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It’s nearly 10:30 pm here and my brain is pretty frazzled so this will be short and probably only intermittently coherent.

  1. Number of budget-friendly tuna sandwiches eaten so far:  two, both eaten by me.
  2. Best moment of fangirl bliss so far:  went to a workshop presented by Elizabeth Hoyt this morning.  Not only was she a funny and engaging speaker (great speaking voice too), but she was ELIZABETH HOYT.
  3. Disney encounter:  had lunch with my agent in the “Morocco” part of Epcot.  She scored a couple free passes, so I went back later and went on the boat ride in the “Norway” pavilion, which was surreal in the best possible way.  Animatronic vikings, animatronic polar bears, random stumps with eyes (which I think were supposed to be trolls).
  4. Possibly thrilling, possibly scary moment still possibly ahead:  my editor is on the panel at a workshop tomorrow called “Breaking Rules to Break In or Break Out.”  She said she’s going to cite me as an example!  Before a roomful of people!  Half of me really wants to be there; the other half wants to go hide in the most distant restroom.
  5. Most painful moment so far:  putting my free copy of Wicked Becomes You on the unwanted-books table.  As faithful readers know, I bought Wicked Becomes You right when it came out, and I didn’t really need a second copy.  But putting it on that table just felt so wrong.

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When the RWA national conference moved from Nashville to Orlando, my trip suddenly got a whole lot more expensive.  I’m bringing my family, and while they might have amused themselves quietly and economically in the Nashville environs during the days I’ll be busy with the conference, there was just no way to plunk them in a Disney resort hotel, in the middle of the Disney compound, and not send them to the parks.

So I bit the bullet and bought tickets.  I even sprang for the premium “park hopper” option which means they’re not limited to one park per day.  (Am I the only person so Disney-ignorant as to have thought “Disney World” was all one park? Anyway I know better now.  It’s been an education.)  And I know we’re going to wind up spending a lot on food, and I’m just going to have to resign myself to that.

But.  One thing to which I cannot resign myself is paying captive-audience prices for bottled drinks that you can get for a fraction of that price in any grocery store!

So remember the piece of luggage I’m going to check?  Guess what’s in it:

Duffel bag with bottled beverages inside

Bottled beverages bought at grocery-store prices!  And other sundries that can’t go in a carry-on bag.  Disposable razors, giant tube of sunblock, jar of mayonnaise (I’m packing along some bagels and tunafish in the hope I can convince the entourage to eat sandwiches instead of an expensive Disney lunch at least once).

Since my airline doesn’t charge for a checked bag, and since Disney’s Magical Express will manage getting that bag to my hotel, it was a no-brainer.  I think.  In considering the photo, though, it sort of looks like a hit parade of everything that could get my bag detained for an intensive security investigation.  Not to mention a hit parade of things that could spring a leak in transit and render the whole bag a soggy, sticky, unusable mess.

Could be a fiasco!  Stay tuned to find out!

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I haven’t left home yet.  But Disney, in their peremptory way, sent me an email suggesting I check in now, through their special online system, which will theoretically secure me the privilege of strolling by the long lobby check-in lines to a special counter where everything will be waiting for me in a splashy Disney-riffic folder.

Except that presumably they send this email to everyone, so we’ll all be in that express line together.

I’m not staying in the official conference hotel.  When the conference got moved from Nashville to Orlando, I didn’t make a new reservation quickly enough, and I got put in the overflow hotel, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, rather than the conference hotel, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.

I sulked about this, and did some whining on my RWA chapter’s email loop, until paranormal author and Disney-vacation veteran Laurie London said (very kindly), “Quit whining, Cecilia.  The Beach Club is nicer than the Dolphin.”

And… well… the Beach Club actually is pretty nice.  In fact there’s a good chance it will be the fanciest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  It looks like this:

Disney Beach Club Resort

Facing the pool, I think

Also, like this:

Disney Beach Club Resort

Lagoon-style pool with white sand bottom!

Kind of like a classic late-19th-century New England seaside inn.  Except in inland Florida.  And probably built within the past ten years.

But here’s what really sold me on the Beach Club:  unlike the Swan and Dolphin, it’s actually part of the Disney empire.  And that means that my entourage and I won’t have to take a taxi from the airport – instead we’ll get a free ride on something called Disney’s Magical Express!

Disney Magical Express

I really, really hope that's the driver. Wouldn't it be great if they were required to wear costumes?

Won’t that itself be kind of worth the cross-country flight?  Riding in a big blue-and-yellow bus full of vacationers bound for Walt Disney World?

And check this out:  Disney’s Magical Express magically whisks any bags you may have checked from the baggage-claim carousel straight to your room.  You can forget all about that bag from the moment you check it until it materializes on the folding luggage stand next to your in-room refrigerator!  They’ve sent me a set of tags to facilitate this magic and I am going to check a bag – which I never do – just to take advantage of it!  Stay tuned to find out what I’m going to put in my checked bag!

I’ve never been to a Disney complex of any sort.  (Do the exclamation marks give it away?)  Have you been to Disney World?  Have you been to a genuine seaside hotel?  Have you ever ridden on any magical form of transport?

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Among the things I decided I needed for my upcoming first-ever trip to the Romance Writers of America national conference:  business cards!

My business cards

I’ve never had business cards that meant anything to me before.  Technically I have business cards for my day job, though I haven’t had occasion to give a single one out in the nearly ten years I’ve worked there, and they’re not much to look at anyway.  (I think I dropped one in a fishbowl at a coffee place once, but didn’t win anything.)

The cards for my glamorous romance-writing job, I decided, would be different.  They would be pretty.  They would be interesting.  They would tie into my “brand,” whatever that is.  I think it has something to do with my website.

Anyway one of my favorite elements of my website is the Olde-Tyme writing on pinkish paper, and I resolved to work that into my business cards somehow.  Not the actual specimen that’s on my website, since that’s somebody’s journal of his sea voyage, and not very romantic.  What I wanted, I decided, was a fragment of a Regency-esque love letter.

So I made one up.  I riffed on an actual passage from A Lady Awakened. It’s fairly late in the book; the hero and heroine are marching off on an industrious errand of do-goodery, and he reflects:

If someone had told him, that first day in church, the course things would take between himself and the woman across the aisle, he should have roared with laughter until he slid right out of his pew and was ejected from the premises.  If he’d been told to anticipate seduction he should have imagined himself the seducer, gradually coaxing her to loosen her stays and let down her hair and learn to give over to pleasure.

I switched it from third person to first, tweaked it a bit, and added some love-lettery sentences with words like “dissembler,” just because I really like words like “dissembler.”

Then I typed it up on a pinkish background in the free graphics program Inkscape, using the free Byron font (so it looks like Lord Byron actually wrote it!  Pretty hot!).  Inkscape let me tilt it and crop out an appropriately-sized rectangle, which I then opened in the not-free-but-we-already-owned-it Microsoft Digital Image Suite.

In MSDIS, I fixed the exposure to make the writing look a bit older, not so crisp.  Then I added that cream-colored swatch where my name would go, and saved it as a .TIFF file, which is what Office Despot, my printer of choice, prefers.

Then I hauled the file on a flash drive up to my local O. Despot (I could have done this online, but I had a coupon for $10 off an in-store purchase) and used their computer and their handy interface to add the text:  my name, my genre, and my e-mail.  I deliberated and decided against spelling out my website address:  I wanted to keep the info minimal and I’m gambling that in this day and age, anyone who sees cecilia@ceciliagrant.com will deduce that there is a http://www.ceciliagrant.com.

So now I have 250 of these things in a box.  I’ll take a bunch to Nationals and swap them for other people’s cards, and if these people are anything like me, they can spend some time looking at the fragment and trying to figure out what the whole letter would say.  Then ideally some people will look up my website and go, “Aha.  Olde-Tyme writing on pinkish paper, just like the business card.  Now I don’t have to be confused about whose website this is.”

And maybe, just maybe, if the passage I quoted survives copyedits, some people may eventually read my book and get a little tingly sense of déjà vu.  Kinda cool to think about.

Business-card holders:  Do you like your cards?  Did you design them yourself?  How did you arrive at the design?  And have you ever dropped one in a fishbowl and won something?

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I’ve been saying A Lady Awakened will be out in spring of 2011, but it’s now looking like Bantam will fit my debut into the fall of that year, with, hopefully, the follow-up book (as yet not officially titled) to come a few months later.

I’ll be honest:  I did indulge, briefly, in fears that they’re getting cold feet about me and that this is just the first step to their deciding to push me off their calendar altogether.  Because that is the way my mind works.

But the fact is, no one ever definitively told me “spring of 2011.”  It was a preliminary guess, and I got used to it and began to accept it as fact, in the absence of any conflicting data.  But the conflicting data, she has arrived, and she says fall, not spring.

And once I can quiet the knee-jerk paranoid part of my brain, I like this news.  It means I’ll be further along (maybe hopefully finished, maybe hopefully sold) with a third book by the time my first one is out.  It also means prolonging this delightful honeymoon period in which I can point to a sale, and call myself a published author, and still imagine that all my reviews will be good ones.

It does change the dynamic of this year’s national conference a bit.  I had assumed this would be my last chance to go to Nationals as Contracted Author Whose Book is Not Yet Out.  And then when the book did come out, people would think, “Oh yeah, I remember meeting her at Nationals.  She was the one in the five-dollar linen blouse.  Maybe I’ll read her book.”

Now it seems like next year’s conference is really the appropriate one at which to tell people about my upcoming book.  This year’s just seems too far in advance.  So this year I’ll concentrate more on workshops and gawking at authors I admire and, of course, telling anyone who’ll listen that I paid four dollars and one cent for this jacket at the Ann Taylor Loft when it was originally eighty-nine fifty; can you believe it?

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