Friday, July 27, 2007

Police Academy - Citizen's edition

This week I had two very cool programs at the library which unfortunately were painfully under attended. A program on arson investigation and one on police investigation. At the police one I met my first Lieutenant. He's a very cool guy and imparted tons of useful information.

Why is this a big deal? Well, almost as an afterthought he mentioned that the Police Department in my town holds a Citizen's Police Academy which is free and encourages citizens to learn police procedure. You have to complete an application (which if I had a first born, I think they might want him or her!). How do I know this? Well....
I'm listening to the Lieutenant talk, and granted after the first mental flash to the movie Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, I thought to myself this was a golden opportunity to learn. I get to learn how to take finger prints, dust for prints, and shoot a gun. Could anything be cooler? So sometime this fall, I'm going to be "on duty" as a citizen trainee. More after class starts. This rocks!
Oh, and I'll let you know whether or not I can handle a gun or you should run like hell if you ever see one in my hands. ;-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shirley Damsgaard visited my library

Cozy mystery author Shirley Damsgaard came to my library today, July 22, for a program. She talked about the where she gets her ideas for her popular Ophelia and Abby series. I must say I'm very fond of Ophelia for two reasons. She's a librarian and she is a witch. Because I write paranormal stories, I can related to that aspect of Shirley's stories and because I'm a librarian it's fun to read about a character who shares some of my day to day joys and frustrations with the job. Shirley has done her research too, because Ophelia hasn't done anything wrong as a librarian that I recall. Believe me, I'd notice. :-)
Shirley is from Iowa (as is her character Ophelia) so when I pick up one of her books I see myself, friends and family in her characters. Shirley's ability to draw a reader in and make them love the characters like family is a real gift. I hope I do that with my characters. It is certainly what I aspire to do. The Witch is Dead is her next book and will be released in August. If you enjoy paranormal stories, cozy mysteries, and librarians then you'll love this series!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Release

Potter Pandemonium hits library. Film at 11. No more like 2 in the morning. Good thing these kinds of book releases only happen once in a lifetime. I get home from RWA only days ago, then I have a busy week and Harry Potter is only the beginning! I've got library programs on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Am I a masochist or just a poor planner? I'm not sure.

Still the Harry Potter thing was a blast. We had about 75 people show up and we partnered with the local independent book store. They handed out pre-ordered books while we gave out prizes for costumes and jelly bean counting. No, I didn't win a prize. Staff doesn't win prizes, but I think I look a little like Miss Sprout. At least I'm in brown, even if I don't have the right hat! Tomorrow I'll be reading - well after I attend the IRN meeting that is. I wonder when I'll sleep this weekend? Oh well.

Me - Think I look anything like Miss Sprout??

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Homeward Bound!

This morning I got to see Misty again before heading for the airport. It was so fun to finally MEET her in person. We've known each other for a couple of years now, but only online. Misty is a really talented writer and I had a lot of fun talking with her.
The other thing I got to do today was fly. I know this is the least favorite part of other peoples' travel experience but I love it. I don't like the airport part, but the taking off, soaring through the air, and landing parts are faboo. (Yes, I am an Animaniacs fan.)
Still, I gotta tell you I was SO glad to get home - even though one of my cats had pooped on the carpet. Thank God for Resolve carpet stain cleaner!
RWA was wonderful. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Inspiring. Well I could go on with words for hours, but I am glad I went and I intend to save up my money and go next year. I'm looking forward to San Francisco.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pitching and Pitching some more!

No, I didn't go to the RITA awards tonight. Too bloody tired! But the day was good! I started out with a pep talk from my crit partner, Misty Simon. She let me try out my pitches on her and gave me tips. It really helped because...

I put on my suit today (my job interview suit) and went to pitch to Ms. Raelene Gorlinsky of Ellora's Cave. Yes, the lady with the neat hats. I liked her and she was very professional... but she has quite the poker face. I wasn't sure if I'd done well with my pitch or not. Still, she told me Crime of Passion fits what their readers like to read (older hero/heroine, rubenesque heroine, and shapeshifter hero) and asked me to send a submission. That has to be good in my book. Yaaaay! So is that a no hitter or a homerun? No, really. I wanna know.

Anyway... After catching my breath and allowing my heart rate to return to normal, I hit some other sessions. Notably, two very cool spotlight sessions. One for Samhain Publishing, the other for LooseID. Samhain was interesting. The big news from Samhain was that they will be open for submissions again soon. I look forward to that and may submit to them in the future.

The LooseID session was way cool. If you asked a question, they gave you a book. Let me tell you I was scrambling for a question because one of the books they were giving away was Angela Knight's new how to book about writing erotic romance titled, Passionate Ink. I got a copy! Wooo Hoooo!

Not only that, but Ms. Treva Harte told those present that she would listen to pitches after the session if anyone wanted to pitch. At first I was too nervous, but then Maya and Marie (fellow PI chapter members) encouraged me so I got up my gumption and went up to pitch my medieval paranormal romance, Seeking Truth. You know, eventually I'm going to get every subgenre of romance rolled into one book. Anyway, she was really nice because this pitch had not been practiced the way my other pitch had been. However, I managed to interest her and she told me to send her a submission. I'm so proud of me! I rock!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Promotion and Scoping Out Agents

My Friday afternoon was spent in more workshops. I attended two in a row with Jessica Faust as a panelist. Jessica is with BookEnds Literary Agency and I read her blog fairly regularly. I really liked her. She's professional but realistic which appealed to me. She is also funny. Funny is very good. Yeah - maybe I hope she reads this when I get up my courage to query her, but if she doesn't that's cool. I'd feel the same way regardless.

At the end of Friday, I'm starting to suffer from overload. I'm tired and a bit let down, but inspired. I have NO idea how that combination works - maybe I'm hormonal or something. Tomorrow I have to pitch. Now since I'm pitching I should be going for a no hitter, but what I want to do is hit it out of the ballpark. Talk about your mixed metaphors. More later!

Jitters, Passionate Ink & Ellora's Cave...oh my!

Today I wore a dress and heels. Why such torture devices? Because today was the PI luncheon where they would be announcing the winners in the Stroke of Midnight and Passionate Plume contests. I was a finalist in the Time Travel/Paranormal category of the Stroke of Midnight contest. I won't keep you in suspense - I didn't win. I was a bit bummed but it was an honor to be nominated. No really. I was NOT making the Oscar face. Okay, I was. But I was happy for the winner - I just wanted the winner to be me. Maybe next time because I am certainly not giving up.

Before I attended the luncheon I went to the Ellora's Cave spotlight. This was VERY cool because Raelene Gorlinsky had books. Boy did she have books and after the session she gave them away. I also snagged one of the coveted Ellora's Cavemen Calendars. Now I know why they are coveted. Definitely inspiration for my next erotic romance. I was also very impressed by the presentation by EC. They answered a bunch of questions I had and it was interesting to get a preview of what Ms. Gorlinsky is like because I was able to get an appointment to pitch to her-which I will do tomorrow. I must say, the lady is very put together and I love her hats.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

And they're off!

The conference began in earnest today. My morning started with a great breakfast held by the Hearts through History chapter, of which I am a member. Great food, excellent view, and interesting company. HHRW gave away wonderful goodies for members. I received a couple of certificates for accomplishments - achieving PRO status and finaling in a contest. It is nice to have formal recognition, so it felt good.

After breakfast I headed for the PRO retreat. The speakers offered tons of useful tipson promotion, how publishing works, and the importance of persistence. Historical romance writer Jo Beverley was named PRO mentor. Her speech was wonderful. Not only was it substantive and inspiring, Jo has the most marvelous British accent. I could listen to her talk for hours.

My great morning was made greater because the PRO keynote was presented by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Yup, I got to see her again. She may have given the speech many times before, but it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment in time. Sherrilyn Kenyon rocks!

The afternoon was the luncheon and keynote address by Lisa Kleypas. Can you say, armadillo? Sorry, ya had to be there. :-)

The finish to the day was the Annual General Meeting - AGM. The AGM was...interesting. It was also painful. Painful in the way a room full of scalded cats is and all because of a "Hot Sheet" released by the board. Now I don't say that to be mean, because I admit freely I am one of the scalded cats. Go to the RWA Web site for details and fall out. I'm sure I won't explain it well. Suffice it to say, there will be no erotic romance category for the Golden Heart or the RITA and somehow most or all (still not sure which) e-publishers were designated as "subsidy or vanity" presses. This is baloney. I hope they revisit their definitions...soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Literacy Signing

A room full of romance authors. Have I found Nirvana? And no, I'm not talking about the band! I was SO glad I was feeling better tonight because tonight was the literacy signing. My favorite authors and new books...what could be better? Okay - sex with a really hot cover model but that wasn't happening on this particular trip. Oh well. :-)

I met several authors whose work I love and got to chat with them for a few minutes and get their autographs. Yes, I even got to tell Susan Lyons I loved her book! My crit partner, author Misty Simon, was signing and I had a chance to meet Robin Rotham too. Kathy Bacus, who belongs to my IRN group had only a few books to sign because somehow a whole bunch of books were placed into the goodie room by mistake - great for goodie gatherers but not-great for the literacy charity.

The highlight of the evening for me, though, was meeting Sherrilyn Kenyon. She wore a large black swan hat, fangs, and a bustier. The lady has style! She's also got class! I waited for about 30-45 minutes to reach the front of the line but it was well worth it. I had a chance to chat with her for a few minutes, get books signed and have a photo taken. Believe me, I was not the only fan who waited to see her either. There was a row long line when I was done and she stayed there signing until the last one got to see her. She was gracious, friendly, and genuinely grateful to her fans for their support. I used to just love her writing, but now I love her too! When I grow up I want to be just like her!

Now I didn't meet a bad apple at the literacy signing. All the authors were friendly and welcoming. There were lines for other authors who were as wonderful, too, but Ms. Kenyon made a lasting impression on me and I'm honored to have met her.

The only negative of the evening was that by the time I finished paying for my books (oy the line!) it was almost 8:30 and the FF&P Gathering had started at 7pm. By the time I arrived all the food was gone and when I looked into the room where it was being held I didn't see any chairs available. There probably were seats, but without food I wasn't going in there because I was STARVED! I hope that next year The Gathering is held at a different time so I can attend. I really wanted to meet some of the folks from that online chapter.

Sticker Shock and sickness

I went out with IRN friends last night to Smokin' Joes BBQ. The food was incredible, the company was awesome, and the DART was clean. The Dallas train system really impressed me. Reasonably priced, clean, and non-scary. Being a small town girl, I thought traveling around in a city the size of Dallas might be intimidating but the people were really friendly and very nice.

This morning though, I woke up sick. Nothing to do with last night's food, I'm sure. I think the stressful trip and the nerves caught up with me. I mean, after yesterday I thought the worst had to be over. But no... However, the positive thing to come from things was I really like my roommate, Justine. We had met online (both belong to FF&P chapter), but never met in person. We like each other and she is very cool! Things could have been dicey otherwise.

The night before as we chatted together, both of us sweet little small town midwestern girls (Justine is from Kansas, I'm from Iowa) had to pick our jaws off the ground as we noted the cost of some "amenities" of our hotel. For example the bottles of Evian water on top of the entertainment center were $5 a bottle. Ouch! I'm an Iowa girl. $3.50 for an a la carte cooked egg is a touch steep. Now, I like my eggs, but that's a bit much. Fortunately, Justine drove down, so today we went to Wally-world to buy some groceries.

Most of the shopping expedition went well, until I broke into a sweat and the sparkly lights started dancing around my eyes. This is never a good sign. I think I may have had low blood sugar because after dragging myself back to the car and eating half a 24 oz container of strawberry yogurt I started to recover. BTW, just in case you're curious, Dallas drivers are insane. Not quite as nuts as Chicago drivers, but...

More after the literacy signing and The Gathering tonight!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I love to fly but this is ridiculous...

What a day! I was completely ready. The car was loaded. As I started to drive out of town, I hunted for my cell phone which was NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! OH MY GAHD!!!! I realized I left it on the table at a restaurant I ate at last night with some friends. I drove to the restaurant which didn't open until 11 a.m. My flight left at 10:05 am and it was about 8:15 am. I panicked. No kidding? Yeah. I drove to the house of one of the friend's I was out with the night before. She wasn't home, so I tried another. She was still home and suggested I contact the Chamber of Commerce.

I drove there, trying to regulate my breathing and heart rate. I stumbled inside. Yes, they did have the phone number of the owner and miracle of miracles he was AT the restaurant and he found my phone. Life could return to normal. I ran from the Chamber back out to my car but in the process of opening my car door, I smacked myself in the face and split my lip. Yes, kids. A split lip hurts like hell! I grabbed a napkin and dabbed at the bleeding gash while going to rescue my cell phone.

Cell phone in purse, I head for the airport. Late, but I figure I'll make it. No problem. I get there at 9:30 a.m. I reach the front of the line at 9:38 am. I'm told I missed my flight - which is still on the ground, mind you. How? By three minutes, that's how. The flight leaves at 10:05 and the computers no longer allow anyone to board beyond the half-hour mark. So at 9:35 boarding closed. My plane is on the ground. I'm at the airport, but I can not leave. Needless to say, I'm pissed. Not rude. Just pissed. Thank God for a gifted staff person who found a later flight for me and printed me a boarding pass.

Were my traumas at an end? No. I think not. The flight they got me on was...get this...delayed. And delayed.... Finally, it arrived and boarded. At last, all being right with the world, we took off for Dallas.

Now I must tell you, the flight was way cool. As we took off, I could feel the climb and knew they had throttle full, mixture rich. As we came in to Dallas, I could feel when they put in flaps and knew what they were doing and why they did it. I love flying...sigh.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Can we say nervous?

Next Tuesday I will be winging my way to Dallas, TX for the RWA National conference and I'm nervous and excited both. I'm looking forward to meeting people I currently only know online via special interest chapters, and I'm going to enjoy spending some time with my IRN friends who will be attending the conference too. Most of the IRN crew has attended before, and they've offered some great advice as far as planning for the trip and getting ready for my pitch appointment.

I've been worried about coming up with the perfect pitch and still can't seem to come up with a "high concept idea" to save my life. I hope the people I meet won't be hypercritical. As everyone I talk to tells me, they are just people. They put their pants on one leg at a time. Assuming they wear pants - if they do skirts - all bets are off! ;-)

Keep your fingers crossed for my good health and success. Off to Nationals I go!
Woo Hooo!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

The fourth of July is another one of those holidays that makes me think about the past. My past. My family's past. Every citizen's past.

But for a small group of rebels, tired of being used and abused, this country might never be. We might still be citizens of the United Kingdom. Now I have nothing against the UK. In fact, I'm a bit of an Anglophile, truth be told. But I think the world would have suffered for the lack of an independent nation of people that will look at one another and say, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

You know the best speech about democracy I ever heard was in a romantic comedy. A movie I expected to be fun and full of fluff. Yes, there was fluff. There was romance. There was fun. But there was also this incredibly powerful scene. I'm talking about The American President and the speech was recited by Michael Douglas. In part....

"...America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free'. "

I loved the movie because it was a great romantic comedy. But what I loved best about that movie was that quote. It gave me chills. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. There aren't a lot of speeches that do that to me. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" and JFK's Inaugural are the top two that come to mind. I'm sure there are others, but I can listen to those and find some new nuance every time.

Now you may not agree with me, but that's okay. That's what it's about. Dissent without fear. Protest without being labeled a traitor. That's why I'm thankful to live here.

Let it always be the law of the land!

Happy Independence Day everyone!