Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Thanks to everyone for your input on the photo issue (bonus points for those who mentioned prettiness). I think I may mention it to my agent and let her decide whether or not to say anything to the publisher. I don't think it's that big a deal, but it does seem unusual for my kind of book not to have an author photo, and it would help dispel that Jennifer Crusie pen name rumor.

I've had an appropriately scary Halloween morning, with a nasty storm coming through that made things go very dark. There was a lot of lightning and thunder, and I startle easily, so it was a constant refrain of lightning, thunder, me shrieking, then me laughing because I startled so easily. We even had a brief power outage that plunged everything into near-night levels of darkness. Now it's just blustery. No costume for me, but I'm wearing an old shirt from when I was on the PR team for a trade show, and that brings up all kinds of scary memories. I did the trick or treating thing last night at an event at my church, where we decorated the trunks of our cars out in the parking lot and did "trunk or treat" for the neighborhood kids. It was a lot of fun, and even better, I have a lot of candy left over, which I will now have to ration.

And now I must get to work on the scary week of deadlines. In my spare time, I'm re-reading Enchanted, Inc., and I actually cracked myself up last night. You know, I'm kind of funny, if I say so myself.

Happy Halloween, everyone! May it be full of chocolate.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Vanity of Vanities

I don't usually think of myself as vain. I'm more often insecure. But every so often the ego jumps out and takes over.

Take, for instance, those galleys I got the other day. The first thing I did was flip to the back to the "About the Author" page to see how my bio looks and to see if they'd included a photo this time (since I'd had a nice, professional one taken). The bio is still shorter than the "About the Typeface" paragraph, as I mentioned (I need to do something so I can add a line or two, maybe take up a new hobby). And there's no photo.

Now I'm wondering, is this a big deal? Is it worth saying anything about? I might not have been so sensitive about this if there hadn't recently been a spate of posts in the publishing industry blogging world about the importance of the relative degrees of attractiveness among authors and how important that was to their careers, if it was truly important at all. The consensus seemed to be that a publisher could and would use the attractiveness of an author as a selling point if the author was attractive, making sure to put a nice photo of the author in or on the book, send out author photos with press material and putting the author out in front of the public. But if an author was talented but a troll, then they'd still promote the book, but not use photos of the author.

That mingling of insecurity and vanity hit full-on as I wondered, does this mean they think I'm a troll? I'd rationalized that maybe they didn't use a photo in the first book because the one I was using at the time was rather amateur (even though my editor said she loved it and thought it made me look happy and friendly), so I'd sort of expected to see a photo now that I had a professional one. I immediately had to check every Ballantine trade paperback I own to see what other authors got and try to extrapolate the corporate policy. It was a mixed bag. Some had photos, some didn't. Some of the photos that were used looked even more amateurish than my original one, like random snapshots. Some of the authors were attractive, some weren't so much.

And the funny thing is, I'm not sure how much this matters, if it matters at all. I've seen on reader message boards where they like to see what an author looks like. I've also seen on reader message boards where they assume that the narrator/heroine of a first-person book looks just like the author, if there's an author photo (which would be a bad assumption in my case because Katie looks nothing like me). With the recent discussion of troll authors, I worry that having no photo will make people think I'm a troll. Or maybe I'm mysterious. Then there's the reader out there who apparently thinks I'm a pen name for Jennifer Crusie. Seriously. A photo should debunk that.

I'm not even sure -- if I decide to raise the question -- how to go about raising the question without sounding like I'm a hop, skip and a jump away from being one of those diva authors who's late to a personal appearance because she didn't like the limo the publisher sent to ferry her to that appearance and insisted on waiting until they were able to get the right kind of limo there -- stocked with the proper brand of bottled water, of course, and M&Ms with all the orange ones carefully picked out.

So, to the readers out there, do you even care if there's a photo of the author in the book? Does it have anything to do with your decision to purchase a book? Do you make any assumptions about the author based on the photo, or lack thereof?

And now I should get back to ticking things off that scary to-do list instead of getting sidetracked by vain and trivial things.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I just made my to-do list of projects that have to be completed in the next week and a half, and I think I just spooked myself. I won't need to visit a haunted house this year to get my Halloween scare on.

Speaking of Halloween, it looks like I'm going to be forced to somewhat clean/reorganize my office because I need some Halloween decorations that are under/behind the stacks of boxes that resulted from my last ill-fated office cleaning attempt. Back when I had an office job, we made a big deal out of birthdays, and one year my co-workers threw me a Buffy the Vampire Slayer birthday party. Although my birthday is in August, apparently that's already Halloween in the retail world, so they stocked up on plastic gravestones, plastic weapons and other spooky decor. My church is having a Halloween festival for neighborhood kids Sunday night, and they need my Buffy decor. The stake is mine, though, just in case a vampire shows up. (Hmm, I wonder if anyone would get it if I dressed as Faith -- I'm too brunette and curvy for Buffy, but I do own pleather pants.)

Meanwhile, tonight is the Taste of Oak Lawn event, a charity fundraiser where a lot of the restaurants in the general downtown/uptown/Oak Lawn area of Dallas (and some from more outlying areas) gather at the Melrose Hotel to offer a tasting smorgasbord. There's also a silent auction (two copies of Enchanted, Inc. will be up for auction, personally autographed at the end of the evening). The reason I look forward all year to this event is something called the Chocolate Glob. The restaurant that offers it (Parigi on Oak Lawn) describes it as a molten brownie, and I guess that's the best I can come up with other than, "Mmmmm .... gooey chocolate ... mmmmmm." It's so rich that I don't dare order it at the restaurant unless I can share with at least two other people, but the tasting sample is just the right size. I more than work off the calories, since I essentially work as a gofer at this event and am running around all night (when I'm not eating). If you're in the Dallas area and want to check it out for yourself, you can get details at And now I have to go bake my chocolate chip cookies, another silent auction item.

But first, we've got another Out of the Blogosphere entry. This week it's another story from the Bewitched, Bothered and Bevampyred anthology, which raises money for the International Red Cross. Gena Showalter contributed the story "The Witches of Brokenoggin and the Dead Who Love Them," in which the well-endowed Tawdry triplets accidentally raise the dead while dealing with an overzealous peeping John. For more info, visit

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Thanks to everyone for the congratulations. This is the fun part of a writing career. Soon, you'll get to hear the other side, as I whine and moan about how hard writing can be.

I forgot to mention yesterday how I plan to reward myself for the book deal. It's mandatory to buy new shoes to celebrate. Last time, I already knew I wanted the specific Infamous Red Stilettos and bought them that very day. This time around, I have more of a vague idea of a type of shoe I want, but I haven't narrowed it down to a specific item I must have this very minute. I'm going to celebrate with a new pair of dressy black high-heeled boots. Yes, I already own three pairs of black boots, but none of them fill that particular niche in my wardrobe. I have the high heeled, somewhat pointed toe ankle boots, but those are more casual and really only work with pants (I can't get into the ankle boots with a skirt concept -- makes my legs look too short). Then I have the flat-heeled riding boot style that come from the late 80s/early 90s, so they have the top that can fold over to create a Peter Pan style boot (not that I ever wear them that way). And my high-heeled tall black boots are from about 2000, so they have a square toe and chunky heel -- very motorcycle mama. They also weren't high quality to begin with (I refused to splurge during the square-toe, chunky-heel era), so they're starting to look not so nice. When I have time to shop again, I'll have to hit DSW and see what I can find.

Speaking of time ... the UPS man brought me a present today: the page proofs for Once Upon Stilettos. This is essentially the guts of the book, the way it will look when it's printed. I get to go over it, looking for any last-minute errors that need to be corrected before it goes in for the final printing. And yes, the typeface still has a longer bio than I do. I have about a week and a half to get that done.

This is actually good timing because it gives me a chance to reread both books before I get into book three. I don't think I'm in danger of having characters' eyes suddenly change color between books (I've actually read that in some series), but there have been enough drafts and rewrites that I don't always remember how things came out in the final version or which version of a scene I ended up going with. The whole creative process -- every scene or even idea -- is all jumbled up together in my head, along with the stuff that made it into the finished book. Plus, re-reading it is sure to get me totally back into that voice and with those characters.

Yesterday as I was taking a walk, I had scenes and bits of dialogue popping into my head already. I'm also working on some of my pre-writing stuff, like creating my soundtrack for this book, which means I'm listening to a lot of random music to see if anything jumps out at me as fitting the mood, emotions, characters or story for this book. The book takes place around Christmas time, so I may have to dip into Christmas music, too. I'd normally find that annoying at this time of year, but I'm in a choir, so we're already practicing Christmas music. The problem is, lately the kind of Christmas music I've been into is early music and English choral music, which doesn't fit the mood of the book (though if I could find a way to work in John Rutter's "What Sweeter Music," I would).

Now I have a few other deadlines for the day, plus a lot of errands to run, so I guess I'd better get to work!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Welcome, and Big News!

Greetings, and welcome to the Blogger incarnation of my online journal. Content here will mirror what's on my LiveJournal (see link to the right), but I wanted to make it easier for people without LiveJournal accounts to comment on posts, and I wanted to broaden my horizons a little bit. I'll be responding to comments in both places, but to see the full scope of the discussion (and get advice and insights from Mom), you may want to pop over to LiveJournal every so often. That's also the place to see archives going back to September 2004. So, without further ado, here's my first real post here:

I have big news today!

(Drum roll, please)

I've now sold books three and four in my series. No titles yet, of course, since I never seem to be able to come up with titles. I also don't have exact release dates, though both will come out in 2007. One will be in the spring (which I guess narrows it down to March, April or May) and one will be in late summer (August or September). I'm really excited about these books. I already know that writing them is going to stretch me, and I'm looking forward to taking my characters to some interesting places, both emotionally and geographically.

Of course, if you were on my mailing list, you'd have learned this last night. I figured I owed at least a little perk to the mailing list, and I didn't want to upstage Megan on her interview day. If you want to make sure you get any other breaking news or perks in the future, you can join the list here.

I plan to start serious work on book three next week. In the meantime, I'm hoping to get my life into something resembling order before I fall into the book and lose track of my surroundings. I should admit, though, that I've been talking about getting my life in order for years, and I haven't managed it yet. I do have a head start on my deadline dementia dining, with a pan of lasagna made that I can freeze in individual servings for microwave meals (and isn't lasagna on the Mediterranean diet?). I also have plenty of dark chocolate M&Ms, and I'm well stocked on tea and Diet Dr Pepper. One thing I hope to do this week is re-read Enchanted, Inc.. I've never before read one of my books in its final, published form, but I haven't really delved into this book in a while, and it went through a lot of changes along the way, so I can't quite entirely remember what's in the finished version. I hate it when authors aren't consistent within their own series, so I need to remind myself. I'll also probably re-read the last few chapters of Once Upon Stilettos. I have to admit that those chapters are probably my favorite thing I've ever written (so far!), so I like just reading them, anyway.

In other news, I also learned yesterday that I've been accepted for membership into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). It's a fairly exclusive organization, in that you have to have certain publishing credits that they deem worthy in order to be accepted as a member. I'd applied a while back and had received some mailings from them, though never anything that outright said, "Congratulations and welcome, you're now a member!" But I got their member news publication in the mail yesterday, and included in that was a directory update page that had my directory info on it, so I guess we can assume that I was definitely accepted as a member if they're asking people to add me to their member directories. Ever since I decided I wanted to be a writer, I've wanted to be a member of this organization. I'm such a fangirl geek about the idea of belonging to the same organization as so many of my favorite authors. I guess I already had that in Romance Writers of America, but RWA is a broader organization that lets anyone who's interested join. With SFWA, it's like being invited by the kids at the cool table in the cafeteria to come sit with them (though, considering it is an organization for people into science fiction and fantasy, I doubt many of these people were ever actually at the cool table when they were in school. They were over in the corner with the geeks like me).