Another Box of Books

When I got home from work last night, I found a lovely box of books on my doorstep. Now, you might think, with all the (mostly free) books I brought home from the RWA conference, that I wouldn’t need to be book shopping again any time soon. (Well, no, if you stop by here often, you wouldn’t think that at all.)

most books 2Ha! I always need books. I’m a book junkie. And the August release of books in two series that I never miss sent me mousing over to Amazon a couple of weeks ago to order them: Paw And Order, the latest Chet and Bernie mystery from Spencer Quinn, and Death, Taxes, and Silver Spurs, the latest adventure of Tara Holloway, Diane Kelly’s intrepid (and armed) IRS Special Agent. Chet, Bernie, and Tara are among my very favorite book people (well, Chet’s a dog, but he’s still a favorite character) and I never miss their stories.

As long as I was there (and making sure to order enough for free shipping—I have yet to succumb to the lures of Amazon Prime, for fear I would never be able to tear myself away from all those videos), I ordered Kate Parker’s The Counterfeit Lady (the second installment in the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries) and Lauren Christopher’s The Red Bikini, a contemporary romance set on a California beach.

I’d heard through the RWA grapevine that the writers who went to Lisa Cron’s workshop were raving about it, and about her book, Wired for Story, so I ordered that, too. Haven’t cracked it yet, but a friend who has been reading it assures me that she’s gotten a lot of ideas from it. The subtitle, The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, is a bit intimidating (Brain Science? Really?), but I’m always up for a few nuggets of inspiration.

I wanted one more book from a series I’ve loved since its beginning, Marcia Muller’s The Night Searchers, the latest Sharon McCone mystery, but when I pulled it up on Amazon, it was listed at full price and with a possible two-week delay. Aha—published by Grand Central and caught in the ongoing feud between Amazon and Hachette.

So I moused on over to the Mystery Guild. I’ve belonged to the Mystery Guild and the Science Fiction Book Club since the pre-Internet days of the early 1970s, when I lived in a small town in Louisiana, thirty miles from the nearest book store (and short of money at that). Over at the Mystery Guild, I not only found The Night Searchers, but they were running a sale, so I preordered another series favorite, Margaret Maron’s latest Deborah Knott mystery, Designated Daughters, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ new release, Heroes Are my Weakness.

Then last weekend I went to a West Houston RWA meeting and bought three new books by chapter sisters: Sophie Jordan’s A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin (first in a new historical romance series), Shana Galen’s Love and Let Spy (third in the Lord and Lady Spy trilogy), and Heather MacAllister’s Taken By Storm (Harlequin Blaze romance).

Clearly, I’m still devoted to the paper book, but I’ve added several novels to my Kindle since the conference, too, some by friends, some through BookBub (even more temptation than the Kindle Daily Deal!). As soon as I find another day or two in the week to devote to reading, I’ll put up some more reviews.

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

Abibliophobia

At RWA 2013 – Saturday

RWA 2013 wrapped up on Saturday, July 20, with attendees looking increasingly bleary-eyed as we stumbled from workshop to workshop.  In the morning I had a chance to visit with a number of friends, and even met someone from New Zealand who had read my Golden Heart entry–that was a thrill!

I went to a workshop on Key Writing Skills, giving by agent Jill Marsal and Starcatcher (and now multi-published author) Robin Perini.  This was an excellent hour; I have a whole page of notes.  Four main areas: Develop Great Characters (characterization means observable traits, while character is true nature revealed under pressure; goal and motivation always important); Create a Compelling Story (braiding plot and character, internal versus external conflicts); Focus on Story and Pacing (show character changes in every scene, while turning points change the story’s direction); and Revise and Polish (watch out for backstory, telling rather than showing, overwriting, etc.).

The rehearsal for the awards ceremony, a precaution against someone falling off the stage, accompanied by a plea not to drink beforehand, only took about half an hour.  Then I caught a sandwich with fellow Firebird and Lucky 13 Oberon Wonch and her roomie.

I went to two more workshops on Saturday afternoon, “Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts,” by Margie Lawson (I’ve been to Margie’s workshops in the past, but she’s always interesting), and a really terrific presentation of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! methodology by Jessica Brody.  I’m reading Snyder’s book now, and I’m going to see if that helps me plot the new novel I haven’t been making much progress on.

The last event of the conference, on Saturday evening, was the Awards ceremony for the Golden Heart and RITA winners.  Cheryl Bolen, my long-time friend and conference roomie, and I went downstairs about 7 PM and had a glass of champagne (in spite of that warning) while we waited for the VIP door to open.  We made out way to our table near the front and found it full of West Houston RWA folks:  Lark Howard and I as Golden Heart finalists (both in the paranormal category), Sophie Jordan as a RITA finalist (novella), and Sarah Andre standing in for a finalist friend, Krista Hall (romantic suspense) who was unable to attend the conference.  Cheryl, Susan Breeden, Tera Childs, and Sophie’s husband were our guests.  As it happened, the only one of us to accept an award was Sarah, reading a thank you from the absent Krista.  Rounding out the West Houston participation were Colleen Thompson presenting a RITA and Christie Craig, the evening’s emcee (entertaining the audience with her usual humor and standing on a box to reach the microphone).  Winners, finalists and audience all had a wonderful time.

Kay and Cheryl at the Awards Ceremony

Kay and Cheryl at the Awards Ceremony

Sunday, and time to go home, came all too soon.  Somehow I managed to stuff all the free books I’d picked up (yeah, I need more books.  But, she added virtuously, some were for my neighbor who looks after Nutmeg when I’m away) into my suitcase.  Cheryl, Colleen Thompson, and I caught the shuttle to the airport, where a Skycap who had clearly been dealing with ladies from RWA all morning, cheerfully told Colleen that if she could pull “one hardback and one paperback” out of her suitcase, it would slip through under the fifty-pound weight limit.  He was right.

Even with a stop at the grocery store, I was home in time for dinner.  Nutmeg the cat was glad to see me (and the roast chicken I’d picked up on the way home) and I was glad to sleep in my own bed.  But I’m still processing all I learned at the conference, getting in touch with new friends, and catching up in general.

And definitely looking forward to RWA 2014 next summer in San Antonio!

 

 

RWA Conference: Thursday

On Thursday morning the Conference started in earnest, with half a dozen workshops to choose between in every time slot.  So where did I go first (after hitting the continental breakfast and chatting over coffee and muffins)?  Why, to the Book Fair, of course, where I bought three more books.  (Anyone who stops by here more than once a month knows how much I need more books.)

The first workshop I attended was a presentation by two authors and an editor from Sourcebooks on how sell the book you want to write, the first of many to include the pros and cons of digital self-publishing.  From there I went to a hour on “Writing Intimacy Across Genres,” both because the topic interests me and because three of the five presenters, Shana Galen (historical), Deeanne Gist (inspirational), and Sophie Jordan (young adult), are my chapter sisters from West Houston RWA.  I managed one more workshop before lunch, Voice Lessons: How to Pinpoint and Develop Your Voice, given by Darynda Jones and Liz Talley.  I love discussions of voice, as everyone (including me) attributes my wildly erratic contest results to a strong voice.  As good a reason as any, and more comforting than most.

At lunch, where I shared a table with old friends, new friends, and one three-month-old hero-in-training (the infant son of Firebird Liz Bemis), best-selling author Stephanie Laurens gave a keynote speech, “Weathering the Transition,” that truly struck the note of author power and publishing shift that carried throughout the Conference.  I’m not going to try to summarize it because you can read the whole thing (and see the illustrations) HERE on Stephanie’s web site.  Go read it.  Right now.  I’ll wait for you.

We were also treated to a preview of Love Between the Covers, a documentary film under construction (with a start-up grant from RWA) by The Popular Romance Project.  You can watch it yourself HERE.

By this time I already knew that not only was I unavoidably missing a lot of good workshops, even the ones I was attending were beginning to swim together in my fuzzy brain, so I stopped to order the Conference recordings, available every year from Bill Stephens Productions.  CDs containing the most popular workshops from the last two Conferences were also available at the booth, so I picked up one of each (haven’t had a chance to listen yet).

After one early afternoon workshop on using emotion in writing (Make ’em Cry, Make ’em Scream, Make ’em Laugh), I went to the Annual General Meeting of RWA, mostly because I’d never been to one, and because I’m a chapter president this year and felt I should have something I could report back to WHRWA.  The current membership of RWA is 10,051, making a quorum of only 10% a mere 1,005 members.  116 showed up.  Not the most popular event at the Conference.  Nothing was up for a vote this year, so the various board members (a very hard-working and under-appreciated team) cheerfully gave their reports.  There was, in fact, some interesting news, mostly of interest to RWA members, regarding changes in the Rita and Golden Heart contests, which has caused considerable discussion on various web sites and Yahoo loops.

After a pass through the Goody Room (where authors leave piles of promotional material, including free books, of which I picked up two more), I joined a group of Starcatchers at a very pleasant local Italian restaurant called Carolina’s for dinner and conversation.

Here are the books I brought back from the Conference.  The short stack I bought, but the books in the tall stack were freebies, in the tote bags, in the chairs at lunch, and in the Goody Room.  Talk about a Book Lover’s Heaven.  Some of the folks (local readers, I’m sure) left the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night with armloads of books they could barely see over.

New Books from West Houston RWA Authors

We had a very active booksigning at our chapter meeting yesterday, thanks to the wonderful people at KATY BUDGET BOOKS.  KBB brings us our members’ new releases every month, along with a mini-bookstore of romance novels and craft-of-writing books.  If you’re in the Houston area, visit the store for new and used books, and if you’re not, visit the website for news, reviews, and online orders.

  Colleen Thompson’s new release is Phantom of the French Quarter, from Harlequin Intrigue, about a mysterious hero who lives in the shadows of New Orlean’s Vieux Carré District, until he must protect a beautiful woman in danger.

Shana Galen’s latest romantic adventure from Sourcebooks Casablanca is Lord and Lady Spy.  Does that great cover remind you of anything?  You can check out the book’s trailer at Shana’s web site.

Don’t Mess With Texas is the latest romantic comedy from Christie Craig, and the first in a new series from Grand Central’s Forever line.  Christie keeps us all laughing, and so do her books.

One of our members has THREE releases this month–she writes faster than I read.  Her latest book as Sharie Kohler, Night Falls on the Wicked, is the fifth book in her dark paranormal Moon Chasers series from Pocket Books.

Sharie’s alter ego, Sophie Jordan, has two new books.  Wicked in Your Arms is her latest historical romance from Avon, while Vanish is the sequel to her wonderful Young Adult novel Firelight, from Harper.

Out-of-town member Tera Lynn Childs (we miss you, Tera!) also has a new Young Adult novel, Sweet Venom, the first in a new trilogy from Katherine Tegan books.   This series, about the triplet descendants of the Gorgon Medusa, is darker than Tera’s previous books and is getting great reviews.

Some day I hope to be enough of a WordPress expert to get this many pictures where I want them on the page, but today isn’t the day, and I’m moving on (let’s see, lunch, finish the laundry, finish the scene I’m writing, judge a contest entry, maybe even read a little).  In the meantime, check out these books and web sites–I promise they’re all worth your time.