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Archive for December, 2008

Live and Learn: Reflections on My Year in Publishing
Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again; time for reflection, time for acknowledging our accomplishments and perhaps admitting we didn’t do quite all we wanted to do in 2008. But that’s okay, because there’s always next year…fresh, untouched and mysterious.


But before we can plunge into that virgin territory, it’s only right to look back. Life is about learning, after all, and how else do we learn but from experience?

2008 represented a major learning curve for me in regard to my publishing career. It was a year for finding my stride, experimenting a bit with what I’m capable of and what not. I found out what it was like to release my first New York published book. How was it different than releasing an e-book? One of the differences was that it exposed me to a whole different set of advertising opportunities, reader networks and people in general. There is a lot of overlap between readers of e-books and print books, but the traditional print market also has some readers, bloggers, book store owners, book clubs, etc. that I’ve never ran into before in the e-market. It’s been really rewarding to meet so many interesting, kind, knowledgeable, and involved people.

For the first time in 2008, I had deadlines. I experienced what it was like to work on a book when the contract was already signed, versus writing a book with the aim of selling the finished product. I wrote three books, several proposals and might just squeeze in a short before the end of the year. I’ve written more in the past, but I have to forgive myself, because there were so many other things I had to learn in regard to promotion and marketing. In 2008, I felt the thrill of being told that my NY publishing debut, WICKED BURN had made both the Borders and Barnes and Nobles bestseller lists. It was twice as wonderful, because as a new author, I had no expectations in regard to lists. I guess I was lucky, because my ignorance kept me from worrying about it one way or another.

I met and became closer to so many wonderful fellow authors—other souls finding their way down this exhilarating, often murky path of publishing. I was inspired by their stories (see my blog, So You Want to be a Writer?) I met new readers and writers on my chat loop, Total Exposure, and I grew closer to several people who have been around for a few years now. I learned that virtual friendships can be just as rewarding and wonderful as in the flesh friendships.

I also learned that I’ve handled stress better in my life. I’ve always considered myself a relatively easy-going person, so there were a few times during the weeks before WICKED BURN released when I didn’t recognize myself as I fretted about whether I was doing things “˜right’ as far as promotion…whether I’d done enough. I learned a ton, but I could have done without some of the self-imposed anxiety.

Oh well…live and learn.

Did you live as fully as you wanted this year? What lessons will you take with into that lovely untouched territory of 2009?

The Winner of a Cultured Pearl Necklace is:
Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Mary Ricksen. Congratulations, Mary!

So many of you gave rich responses that I really appreciated. Thanks for teaching me several things about pearls, as well.

Do You Believe in the Magic of Romance? Comment and Win a Copy of Wicked Burn
Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Does true romance really exist? Or is it just the stuff and nonsense of romance novels?

I do believe in romance, or I wouldn’t write romance novels. Having said that, I have to admit there are a few qualifications that go along with that attestation. A romance is a story where people connect in a way that’s beyond that of the common-place and casual. I think we dream about making that profound connection with another person. It brings us out of ourselves; let’s us see the world in a whole new way. It seems to me that’s what readers want in a romance—to vicariously experience that moment of intense connection, to feel alive, to see oneself as unique and beautiful through the eyes of another.

But is romance escapism? Wouldn’t it be better to see the world for what it is—a place where war and famine exists, where people daily take advantage, lie and steal from one another? As a child, we slowly learn the lesson that “˜life isn’t fair.’ What’s more, life can be ugly, cold and harsh. By the time we’re adults, we’re wary about being seen as a pushover…someone who’s foolish enough to believe in dreams. We know from firsthand experience that if a political candidate should mention the word “˜dream’ in their speech, they’ll be attacked by their hard-nosed opponent as being weak or unsubstantial.

But it’s mainly because life can be harsh (or routine and boring) that the romance novel has its appeal. Almost everyone knows the thrill of going to a movie theatre and escaping for a few hours to a place of excitement, romance and adventure.

Of course, there’s always the risk that a person mistakes the “˜escape’ for “˜reality.’ This is one of the main criticisms about the romance novel. Sure, most of us recognize the fantasy elements…but what about the person who actually expects a knight in shining armor or an alpha (or two) with smoking pistols in their pocket to come strutting through their bedroom door?

What if she’s unable to see the cute, hopeful guy who’s into her big-time because she’s waiting for some amalgamation of every romance hero she’s ever read?

For me, this isn’t much of an argument against romance novels. It does happen, and it’s unfortunate. But I can’t help but notice that people watch Clint Eastwood, Angelina Jolie or Harrison Ford incessantly, and rarely do they become convinced they’re a bad-ass who is going to save the world. That’s because the action-adventure hero is as much a fantasy as the romantic hero (and of course, these two roles blend together nicely.) It’s a “˜type,’ a myth that we as human beings recognize as easily as the warrior-hero or the brave, beautiful princess.

So back to my original question, “Does romance really exist?” I know that it does—just like other virtues, such as heroism, courage and altruism really exist. It’s an ideal, one that we should strive for in our relationships; not just passively wait for like a princess in a tower.

Romance is also a feeling. Sure, it’s something that happens between two people, but it’s also a person’s actions or a place that evokes a feeling of heightened awareness of oneself…the infinite possibilities of life. There’s a certain glamour to romance…a sense of something higher. It doesn’t have to be huge to be romantic. I have a scene in my upcoming Berkley time travel called DARING TIME where the early twentieth century heroine dances by herself, imagining being in her lover’s arms. It’s set in a lovely old ballroom and her satin, ermine-bordered dress swishes along the polished wood floor. That’s romance to me.

Romance lives. Sometimes it might even look and feel like a romance-novel-romance. Oftentimes, it’s as diverse, quirky, or quiet as the people who are romancing. Bolder, idealized romances in novels don’t take away from the beauty of that. Everyone has the ability to be the hero and heroine of their own life, to inject the dream into everyday existence…even if it is in some small, personal way.

So what do you think? Does romance exist in your life?

If it doesn’t…could it?

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