Archive for the ‘Rampant Insecurities’ Category

Do you all read Anna Cowan’s blog? She’s a soon-to-be-published (spring of 2013) Australian romance writer who grapples wonderfully with all kinds of meaty issues on her blog. (I’m working on a year-end list of favorite 2012 Romancelandia blog posts, and having trouble deciding which of hers to include.)

Anyway she’s currently hosting a series of guest posts from writers, bloggers, and readers whose thoughts interest her. She invited me to do a guest post, and I did.

I’ve talked to Anna over email about how I use “Go big or go home” as a mantra for prodding myself out onto a limb when writing sex scenes, and writing this post was definitely a GBoGH moment.

In other news, lots of people are coming out with year-end Best Books lists, and there’s been a lot of gratifying love for both Lady and Gentleman. When a few other things have slowed down, I’ll post links.

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I’ve put up a deleted scene from A Gentleman Undone on my website. It makes me cringe a tiny bit, but there are things in it I like, too.

That’s all I’ll say. You can read it and see what you think.

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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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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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Pile of research books

Somewhere in here, I’m hoping hard, is the plot for my next book.  I know who the hero is, and the heroine is starting to take shape, and I have some ideas for the dynamic of their relationship, but beyond that it’s all a daunting blank.

Plot = blood; Cecilia = turnip.

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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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I picked up Sherry Thomas’s latest, His at Night, and tore through it in three days.  (For me that’s fast.)

It was a pretty rich book and I have a lot of thoughts on it, which I may or may not distill into something worth saying later, but for the moment this is the thought at the tips of my fingers:

Last week I wrote a scene for my WiP that referenced the image of Prometheus chained to the rock with that eagle chowing on his liver.  I was kind of proud of this scene.  Such a dire, powerful image, and I liked the use I found for it.

Well, it turns out that the heroine of His at Night has a recurring nightmare in which she’s chained to the rock, like Prometheus, while an eagle comes down and tears at her innards!  For crying out loud!

This is not the first time Sherry Thomas has beat me to the punch with something, and done it with more panache.  Way back when I started on A Lady Awakened – the story of a sexual bargain with an heir as the goal – I actually used the phrase “their private arrangement” to refer to the bargain.  And then I started hearing rumblings about a book that was actually called Private Arrangements, and that featured a sexual bargain with an heir as the goal.

Arrgh.  I have gone through manuscripts and changed certain wording because of encountering the same wording, only put to infinitely better use, in one or another of Sherry Thomas’s books.  More than once.  It’s getting to the point where I open up her vivid jewel-toned covers with a simmering sense of dread.

So what to do about my Prometheus reference?  For now I think it stays.  Perhaps I’ll put a footnote on that page:  Please note that, whatever may be your opinion in regard to the originality of this image, I did not technically rip it off from His at Night.

Now, about my nightmare-prone heroine…

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