Daytona Beach

on May 25, 2006

There’s blogs all over cyberspace this week talking about what happened at the Romantic Times conference in Daytona Beach, so I won’t bore you with redundant details. If you want some good wrap-ups, check out Lori Armstrong over at First Offenders, or Kayla Perrin over at Literary Chicks.

Eileen Rendahl, my RT roommate who also lives outside Sacramento, and I arrived very late Tuesday night. We walked into our room . . . right above the ocean. We opened the sliding glass door and wham, there was the beach and ocean and birds. It was perfect weather, neither hot nor cold, and we slept with the door open. (Of course, we learned that we can’t leave the door open with the lights on because, well, bugs are attracted to the light . . . )

On Monday, May 15th I turned in SPEAK NO EVIL. I thought I might take the week of RT off, or write something a little fun and different, but when I was on the plane the opening scene of SEE NO EVIL just hit me. I pulled out my laptop and started writing, nailing 12 pages before my battery threatened to self-destruct. I ended up writing every morning, and some afternoons, netting 62 pages for my trip.

Anyway, we got in late–so late that we could get no food–we hadn’t had dinner, just planefood snacks. We walked along to this little outside mall next to the hotel and managed to get drinks (decent) and some stale chips.

On Wednesday, after 23 pages and I hit a road block, I took a long walk on the beach, got a Starbucks triple-grande-nonfat-nowhip-mocha, and sat at the surf, pondering a HUGE problem in my story. My hero didn’t work. Wrong guy. It was his brother who fit not only the story, but the heroine who I hadn’t even introduced yet. Sooooooo, I emailed my editor and asked if I could change heros, and she said fine (whew) which meant a lot of writing and deleting–the first chapter, eight pages, stayed. The rest was cut or so heavily edited it wasn’t the same. And I still walked away with 62 pages 🙂

I’d sure love to fly to Daytona anytime I get stuck 🙂

Wednesday also marked a red-letter day for me. I MET HEATHER GRAHAM. See, you got to understand that I’m a HUGE Heather Graham fan. I can’t say I’ve ever been disappointed in any of her books. Haven’t read them all . . . she’s written like 116 plus oodles of anthologies (I counted off her website) . . . but the dozen or more I’ve read I’ve loved. She is real and genuine in person, no airs at all, and I was thrilled. Just like Christina Skye on Thursday at the two-hour romantic suspense panel. Wow. I love her books too, have for a long time.

Wednesday was the Ellora’s Cave ball. Interesting, let’s leave it at that. (Okay, I feel really, really old right now. I guess I just don’t know how to have fun anymore!) But I met Roxanne St. Claire who is totally fun, even if she gave me praise I am so not worthy of. I bought her book at the book fair on Saturday and my mom read it and gave it two thumbs up, so it’s my next gym book (yep, I’m trying to go to the gym 2-3 days a week . . . let’s see how long that lasts!)

One of the interesting panels I sat in on was an RT workshop where their reviewers and publisher explained how they put together the reviews. Some of the reviewers have been there for twenty or more years! These people know books. They have a checklist and they’re pretty stringent. They explained that a three is good. “A good read.” That threes weren’t bad. Hmm, it sounded good when they said it, but tell it to the author. Seriously, though, these people really think about what they’re writing and reminded us all that it’s subjective. Can’t argue with that!

Saturday was the book fair and that was a four hour event, but I nearly sold out. I would have sold out, but I had fewer copies of THE PREY than the other two books, so THE PREY sold out right away and some people who hadn’t read me wanted the first book in the series, so didn’t by the other two. (MEMO TO SELF: Make sure there are extra copies of the FIRST book in the series at every booksigning.) One of the best greets was a reader who brought me her very worn collection of the three books. That she’d trekked them all the way to the hotel was a sign that she really liked them, and I was tickled.

Finally, the theme of the week . . . booksellers.

The best thing about going to RT was meeting so many booksellers, many of them East Coast proprietors I’d never have a chance of meeting if it weren’t for conferences like this. I met at least a dozen, probably a lot more, and they were absolutely enthusiastic and wonderful. They knew my books, knew how well they’d done in their store. Many had read one of all three, but even those who hadn’t were able to give me information about their readers who loved my book.

There is absolutely nothing better than to sit down and chat with booksellers and learn what works, what doesn’t, by way of promotion. One thing I’m doing for the next trilogy: bookplates. So be on the lookout later this fall when I announce how to get bookplates. Most of the booksellers I spoke with, particularly the indies, love them. One gal, who runs a new and used bookstore, was so enthusiastic that she even came to one of my workshops and stopped by my book fair booth to chat and tell me how well my books did in her store.

And that brings up another point in this loooooonnnnnng blog (sorry) . . . talk to booksellers. Find out what works and what doesn’t in THEIR stores. Promotion doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming if you plan it right. But the key is: they know. They know what works FOR THEM, and it benefits the author to listen.

Okay, now the picture you’ve all been waiting for . . . Allison in faery wings. (Along with authors Alesia Holliday, Eileen Rendahl, Marianne Mancusi and Cindy Holby).

Allison in Faery Wings