News from San Antonio

I I had to hit the ground running At RWA this year, leaving a family reunion in just enough time to make it to the Literacy Signing. Not the most relaxing way to start off a conference, but then you haven’t really lived until you’ve heard an adorable almiost-three year old call you Aunt “Life”. Nonetheless, I made it just in time and got to catch up with some great authors and hear about their work. Here’s what’s new (at least with authors A-L…sorry, by the time I got to the M’s everything was wrapping up).

Zoe Archer Zoe Archer wrote one of my favorite books last year (Sweet Revenge). She’s going in a new direction next year, and will be publishing Regency set historicals with Avon. They’ll center around women writers, and will be written under a new name to match the new direction – Eva Leigh.

Jo Beverley has been concentrating on her Malloren books recently, but is moving back to her Rogues series. Her next book will be Too Dangerous for a Lady (out next April), and will feature a heroine who is the sister of one of the Rogues who didn’t survive the Peninsular Wars. As she pointed out, it was a dangerous time, and not all would-be heroes or their friends survived it.

Kristen Callihan is continuing with her Darkest London series, which she considers to be more Gothic/Gas Lamp fantasies than Steampunk. Her latest, Evernight, comes out in August. The heroine has to work on (in the mechanical/metaphysical sense) a man who is back or revenge. Two more books are on the horizon – Souldown and Forevermore. And Kristen says it’s harder to come up with her compound word titles than you might think; many of the obvious choices have already been co-opted by YA.

Sherri Browning is working on the next book in her Thornbrook Park series, Affair Downstairs.

Claudia Dain was a name I hadn’t seen in awhile. She wrote some Medievals that received positive reviews here back in the day. With the wonders of the internet, they’re available again. She’s now concentrating on Regency historicals (which she self-publishes) and women’s fiction, which she writes under Claudia Walsh. He regencies are lighter in tone than her medievals, and the women’s fiction emerged because she felt she had a story to tell that didn’t quite fit the romance mold.

Megan Frampton used to write for AAR back in the day. She has a new series coming out with Avon starting this fall – Dukes Behaving Badly, which starts out with The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior in late November. She’ll also have a novella in February; novellas are a bit of a theme this year.

Laura Florand is moving from chocolate books to fragrance books. Her new series will feature an old Fragrance family from the south of France and will include four books and a novella. The first of these is Once Upon a Rose. Laura was drawn to fragrance as a theme because she loves rich settings and was able to do extensive research in the area.

Elizabeth Essex is an author I’d love to review – if only everyone else didn’t keep beating me to the punch. Her next book, out in September, is a shipwreck story with a heroine who is near and dear to Elizabeth’s heart. The heroine manages to talk her way into a royal expedition to the South Seas; Essex herself is a former nautical archeologist. It’s based loosely on the voyages of Darwin and Cook.

L.B. Gregg is another novella enthusiast – for her the length really works. Her newest novella with Riptide is part of a multi-author series involving a town in the Pacific Northwest where a werewolf TV series is filmed. Her particular story is bout a barista and an actor in the show.

Blythe Gifford had the first of two royal wedding stories come out in March. She also has a self published book set in the seventeenth century called The Witch Finder. We chatted about fellow Blythes we have known (not many), and Blythe has actually met Anya Seaton’s granddaughter (a fellow Blythe apparently). And all the cooler because Seaton’s writing and the way she showcased love and historical intrigue are what inspired Blythe to write those type of books herself.

Susanna Kearlsey has a new book coming out in spring – A Desperate Fortune. It’s a bit of a departure from some of her other books in that it doesn’t have a paranormal element (although it does have a dual storyline). It’s about a modern day code breaker who starts translating the journal of a 1732 Parisian and Jacobite sympathizer, and learns that the journal is not what it seems. Her next project is set in Colonial Long Island during the French and Indian War. Bonus: The modern day hero is a full-blooded Mohawk.

Caroline Lindon is still writing her racy Regency books, which have featured a mystery about the writer of – essentially – Regency porn. Said writer is about to be exposed…perhaps that’s a double entendre?

Jennifer Lohmann’s next book is Winning Ruby Heart, which has a disgraced Olympic runner heroine and sports caster hero. This piqued my interest as I have a son who runs, and much of our spare time revolves around cross country and track seasons. The heroine was a middle distance runner (5K and 10K for those of you who don’t spend your spring Saturdays watching teenagers run around in circles) caught doping who now runs ultra-marathons. Jennifer was influenced both by the Lance Armstrong Scandal and reading Born to Run (a fairly interesting and provocative book even if you’re not a runner).

Julie Anne Long just wrapped up Lavay’s book, and next up will by Lyon. Her series and her fandom are still going strong.

I’m hoping to catch those M-Z authors elsewhere this conference, as well as others like Tessa Dare and Julie James, who had longer lines. Stay tuned!

A Helen Fielding Talk – Mad About the Boy

helenfielding pic Note: This blog contains spoilers for Helen Fielding’s latest, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. So, if you’ve managed to avoid spoilers thus far(no mean feat), be warned!

Unless you have been living under a rock these past couple of months, you must have heard about the somewhat controversial plot twist in Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the new installment of Helen Fielding’s famed series. If this is news to you, I apologize for having to be the one to inform you of this terrible news and urge you to escape from beneath your humble abode. Continue reading

RWA 2013 – News from the Literacy Signing

IMG_20130717_174858_689 There’s no better place to get news than in a room packed full of authors (more than 400 of them), readers and fans. After some Atlanta sightseeing, including – I am not making this up – a stop at the Georgia Aquarium, where you can find a dolphin show featuring a singing sea captain in a light-up cape, Lynn Spencer and I hit the literacy signing, where there seemed to be more authors than usual. I didn’t come close to talking to them all (and missed several I would have liked to chat with), but I did catch up with quite a few.

Two overwhelming messages tonight: Everyone, no really, everyone, is writing an enovella that ties into her next book. After hearing about twelve people in a row tell me that, someone (who prefers to remain nameless) shed some light on the subject: It’s a way that traditional publishers can compete on pricepoint with e-first or e-only publishers. And of course, if you like the novella enough maybe you’ll think about buying a full-length book – and perhaps paying a little more for it. The second message: The market for historicals is challenging right now. Unless, perhaps, they are e-novellas. Anyway, here is more specific author news from the women I managed to catch up with: Continue reading

Susanna Kearsley’s Firebird Tour!

IMG_20130605_204154_458 I was thrilled when I learned several months ago that Fredericksburg, Virginia had won a spot on Susanna Kearsley’s whirlwind tour for The Firebird. It was wonderful to have a chance to see her, and I really enjoyed having a chance to hear about her research, her writing process, and just some of the fun stories she had to tell. Prior to the event, Susanna had asked me if I would lead a Q&A session, and I very happily agreed. There was a good crowd at the local library, with people of all ages filling the room.

If you’ve not read Kearsley’s books before, they’re reminiscent of books by Mary Stewart or Barbara Michaels and I’ve seen them referred to as “modern gothics.” I find that I preferred the description she told us her husband gave them. Apparently, he thinks they are somewhat like old Alfred Hitchcock films in that there’s some mystery but not lots of blood and gore, there’s “something woo-woo” going on but it’s not just a ghost story, and then there’s a love story but it’s not the only thing going on. Continue reading

Tasha Alexander Booksigning – and More Author Booksigning News

I’ve been a big fan of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series since the first book – And Only to Deceive – was published in 2005. In fact, I was so enthusiastic about the series that I volunteered to write a DIK review of the first book in 2009. So I was delighted to attend an event promoting the latest entry in the series, Death in the Floating City. Even better, the event also featured Ms. Alexander’s fellow mystery author, and husband, Andrew Grant. I haven’t read any of Mr. Grant’s books, but several audience members had and seem to enjoy his series featuring David Trevellyan, the most recent of which is More Harm Than Good.

Both authors talked a bit about their latest books and then took questions from the audience. The crowd was very animated and had a lot of questions for each of them. Among the highlights are:
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Romance Author Booksignings: August and Beyond

This month while looking for author booksignings I noticed that a number of authors are going to appear at book festivals around the country over the next few months. I became intrigued and starting searching for book festivals, as well as single-author signings, over the next few months. While many of the book festivals I checked out seem to mainly feature literary authors (not that there’s anything wrong with that), a few also have one or more romance authors, as well as many popular mystery authors.  A quick search revealed the following festivals over the next few months:

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RWA 2012: News From Anaheim

literacysigningRWA 2012 began early yesterday for Lynn Spencer and me; we started the day at Disneyland (first time for her, umpteenth for me). Only one thing could tear me away: The annual literary signing. I only got to ride Space Mountain once, but I did get to catch up with lots of authors and find out what they’re up to. Here’s what’s new and exciting:

I caught up with Tessa Dare first. Her latest Spindle Cove book (featuring Kate and Thorne) is out in August. After that, there’s one more…featuring Pauline, the serving girl at the tavern. I asked if she’s really a serving girl. Instead of, you know, a secret countess or something. Yep, she’s the real deal.

Kate Noble’s next book is about Bridget, the sister of If I Fall‘s heroine. But she’s also working on The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, a modern web video and interactive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Sounds like fun.

Carrie Lofty has several balls in the air. She still has a couple of books to write in the Christie series, but is also collaborating on a contemporary erotica series with fighter pilots in Las Vegas. They’ll be released under a new name – Katie Porter. I couldn’t help asking whether her unusual historicals were a hard sell. She said she had a supportive editor at Pocket who enjoyed unusual settings (and signed both her and Meredith Duran). Vive la Difference! (And if you’re not reading her books yet, you should be).

And speaking of unusual settings and characters, Delilah Marvelle’s next project has a heroine who stutters and a bare-knuckle boxer hero. It’s called Forever a Lord. after that she’ll turn her attention to the French Revolution, with a series of books set in both England and France.

Molly O’Keefe is looking ahead to a contemporary series set in a small Southern town. I had to ask whether anyone marries the sheriff…apparently not. So you can write a small town series sans sheriff. I knew it! I told her our reviewers fight over her books, which is true.

Victoria Dahl’s new series is set in Jackson Hole, with cowboy heroes. Apparently they all live in an old farm house that’s been turned into an apartment building and appropriately named The Stud Farm (because of the landlady’s propensity to accept only hot tenants). Obviously, this apartment building should be closer to my house. And yours.

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips Booksigning and July/August Events

SEP1This is the one I’ve been waiting for! Despite living in Chicago for a good part of my adult life, I never managed to make it out to Naperville (far western suburb) to attend one of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ booksignings in her hometown. But finally, after years of hoping, she did an event not just close to my hometown, but in my hometown!

I had a feeling there would be a lot of people at the event, and I was right. However, I don’t think the bookstore was quite prepared for the size of the crowd. I was determined to arrive early in order to get a decent seat. I got there nearly 45 minutes before the event began and already about 70% of the seats were full. Initially the store had as many chairs out for the event as they’ve had for some lesser-known mystery author events I’ve attended. It was clear the setup wasn’t going to work. As people continued to pour into the store, the staff began putting out extra chairs.  The author’s books were in numerous places throughout the bookstore. There was a large bookshelf right next to the microphone filled with The Great Escape; I should say filled until 15 minutes before the event started when one of the staff came and took every book from the shelf, as they were running out up front.

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Romance Author Booksignings: June and Beyond

After a bit of a break, I’m back with our monthly booksigning post. I’ve found a number of exciting upcoming events around the country in the next few months. I’m also delighted that I’ll be able to attend two myself, the first featuring a new favorite mystery author, Linda Castillo. The second, featuring one of my favorite romance authors of all time, Susan Elizabeth Phillips! Oh boy! I can hardly wait for that one.

I’ve gone to a few booksignings the past few months, but none were particularly remarkable. I generally learn something interesting even from authors I haven’t read and don’t intend to read. Perhaps I’ve been in a bit of a grumpy mood, but my main takeaways from the events of the last two months are do’s and don’ts for authors, readers, and bookstore owners.

First, for bookstore owners (and please know, I dearly love most of you that I’ve met):

  • If you’re going to institute a policy of numbered tickets for the signing (readers get a number when they buy their book before the event and line up to have their books signed in that order), stick to it. And don’t let one number work for ten different friends who come in at varying times throughout the event. At a recent event I was given the number nine. But when the owner called for numbers 1-10 to line up to have their books signed, it turned out there were about 30 people in line, with 5 people linked to #1.
  • Please monitor the sound level throughout the area where readers are sitting. If you don’t have a sound system (and most small independents don’t). Please make certain that readers in the back of the room as well in the front of the room can hear what the author is saying.

Second, for authors (and most of you that I’ve met have been incredibly gracious):

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Romance Author Booksignings: March and Beyond

Sign March 4Last week I attended a booksigning at my local mystery book store, Aunt Agatha’s, featuring two popular cozy mystery writers, Denise Swanson and Casey Daniels/Kylie Logan. Denise Swanson is known for her Scumble River mystery series, featuring amateur sleuth and school psychologist Skye Denison.  The 15-book series began with Murder of a Small Town Honey.  Kasey Daniels has written a number of mystery series, but is most recently known for her Pepper Martin mysteries. Pepper was introduced in Don of the Dead, where while serving as a cemetery tour guide discovered she has the ability to communicate with ghosts.

The authors were in town to publicize new cozy mystery series they have each begun. Denise Swanson’s new series features the owner of a small town dime store, while Kasey Daniels, under the pen name Kylie Logan, has a new series featuring the owner of a button store in Chicago.

Kylie Logan told us that she got the idea for her button store series while sitting at a coffee shop on a previous trip to town. She said she was the only customer in the coffee shop until a couple came in and sat just a few feet from her. They proceeded to have a prolonged, very loud break-up.  Ms. Logan had hoped to spend a long time in the coffee shop, sipping coffee and knitting. But finally she’d had enough of the break-up saga, packed up her knitting, and went into the store next door, which turned out to be a button store. And from there, the new series took shape.

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