Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book Report catch-up

I'm late posting today because I met my parents for lunch, then ran a few errands on the way home. Since the good catfish restaurant back home closed down, we've been looking for a new one, and I found a great place in Dallas that we went to today. We knew it would be good when there was a line out the door and a wait for tables at 11:30. I also noticed that most of the diners were men. I may be eating lunch out more often. :-)

I've updated my web site with a few fun things about the series and about the latest book. For those who are in book clubs, I've done a reading group guide for the series. I've also posted some photos of settings for Damsel Under Stress. I have more stuff to add, and I'll be doing that gradually over the summer as I get time. The next few weeks are going to be hectic, since I'll be at conventions on weekends and needing to write during the week.

Now I'll catch up on book reports. First, a couple of chick lit books I found when I kind of went nuts on the sale table:
Dress You Up in My Love by Diane Stingley is a fun twist on the "invent and then rent a boyfriend" plot. Samantha invents a date with a fictional boyfriend as an excuse to escape early from her mother's Thanksgiving dinner, then later uses that same imaginary boyfriend to prove that she's not at all upset about her lifelong male best friend (the one she's always been sure she'd end up with) falling in love with someone else. When people expect to actually meet this guy, she hires a struggling actor to play him. There's just one problem: the actor takes his craft very seriously and insists on full creative control as he approaches the role as an improv exercise. That was the twist I loved. Usually, the rent-a-date guys in these books are willing to just show up, be perfect and act like they're in love, but this one starts looking for his motivation, figuring out why he does the things he does, and building a complete backstory for his character, to the point where Sam realizes she even has bad taste in fictional men.

Then there was Lexi James and the Council of Girlfriends by Melissa Jacobs. This book has kind of a "Sex and the City" vibe to it (though with much less annoying women), as it's about a group of close friends who counsel each other through life's ups and downs, often meeting at brunch to do so. Lexi also has what she calls "the Senior Council," the women she met while volunteering at a Jewish retirement home who have become like a bunch of adopted Jewish grandmothers who love to dish out advice (and the fact that she actually bothers to do volunteer work automatically moves this chick above people like Carrie Bradshaw). A lot of chick lit critics whine about how these books are all about how important it is to find a man or buy shoes, but the main plot of this one was more about her career, dealing with her boss, and figuring out what she wanted to do with her life, which was a nice switch. There's still a dose of romance, but it's definitely secondary.

And then on a totally different note, there's a new fantasy novel that just came out this week called Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin. I got to read the manuscript of this book last fall, since I did the endorsement blurb on the back cover (and in a strange way I think I get more thrilled about seeing my name on a book in that context than I do seeing my name on my own book), and it was a ton of fun. It's sort of a fantasy/mystery adventure with a lot of humor and with some great characters. It also got the Mom seal of approval. I let my mom read the manuscript, and she called me as soon as she finished it to find out if there would be a sequel. I had to tell her that the first one wasn't even published yet (I have, however, already told the editor that I'd be happy to read the sequel for a blurb).

I may post a quick note before I head to A-Kon tomorrow. Then I'll be offline all weekend.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The End of the TV Season

We've had a nice stormy morning, the kind of day when it's so dark outside that I had to turn on the light in my office -- the room where one whole wall is glass doors and with a skylight above. It's also cool enough that I had to put a hoodie on over my sundress. I love this kind of day, but it isn't very productive. I just want to drink tea and enjoy the atmosphere.

I'm not really sure what to talk about today because I know you don't want to read my to-do list, which makes me want to hide under my desk with a bag of M&Ms and fear that I'll never get things done if I do that. And you don't want to hear me whine about how much e-mail is in my in-box, and how it keeps getting worse because I'm now getting the "did you get my e-mail?" e-mails.

I wrote this whole rant about a topic I'll deal with later, then deleted it because I didn't really feel like getting into it right now. I'm in this weird state where I can't stop my brain from churning over things, but they're the wrong things to be churning over at the moment. I think writing the rant helped, and then I'll edit it later and it will make a good entry. Maybe I should try writing out all the other stuff going around in my brain and see if that helps clear my head.

The TV season is now essentially over, except for the Sci Fi channel, which has its own schedule. I don't like to think of how much of my life is centered around TV, but suddenly not having anything new for a while shows how empty my schedule becomes without it, and it seems like most of my favorite shows ended in such a way that I want to see what happens next, in a big way, without them necessarily being real cliffhangers. It was more the sense of change, that everything will be different going forward, that they left with, and I like that. I've usually found the "character in immediate peril" cliffhangers annoying, especially because they make continuity a challenge. The next episode is supposed to have started a split second later, and yet everyone's slightly different, with subtle changes in things like hair and weight. Meanwhile, once the cliffhanger is resolved, it's not like the situation for the characters has really changed (and so often, the cliffhanger resolution turns out to be very lame -- Mulder trapped in the burning boxcar, anyone?). My favorite season enders are those that give you the feeling that even after the situation is resolved, nothing will be the same again, and you'll get to see the characters dealing with that aftermath.

Unfortunately, that's what kicks off my writer's brain, so I find myself mentally crafting the aftermath. Then I have to remind myself that they're not my characters, and I'm not being paid to dream up what happens next. I'm supposed to be writing my own stuff. Though today it's more like I'm supposed to be writing about innovative approaches to cancer treatment, so I'd better get on that.

In other news, how well do you know Enchanted, Inc.? A reader named Holly created this quiz to test your knowledge. I scored 100, but I'd be worried if I didn't, since I wrote it. Still, there were a couple of answers I had to think about, but it has been a while since I wrote that book.

And now to go slog through cancer genetics. They won't even let me throw in a gargoyle, so that's no fun at all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Back to Work (Really!)

After all that talk about how much work I had to do, I got very little of it done. My brain just wasn't being cooperative, so I gave up and let myself have a holiday. Then just as I was falling asleep at night, I came up with the solution for the part where I was stuck, so I guess stepping away actually worked. My "I'm not in the mood for Star Wars" thing also fell by the wayside as I got sucked into that History Channel show on the legacy of Star Wars. It was all about the various cultural and mythological references and reflections in Star Wars, and if there's anything I geek out about more than all my usual geeking on TV, movies, books, etc., it's the use of mythology and archetypes in storytelling. They worked through all the main points in the hero's journey as described by Joseph Campbell, using clips from the movies to illustrate. I'm going to have to tape the replay tonight because I can probably use it in a writing workshop at some point. Other viewing included the season finale of Robin Hood, which was incredibly cheesy, yet very satisfying and fun because it was so cheesy. Sometimes it's best to embrace the cheese and just go with it because that ends up giving the audience what they want, yet don't want to admit they want.

I also hit the kitchen pretty hard for a big Memorial Day summer kick-off dinner. I made barbecued ribs (using my George Foreman mini grill and the broiler in the toaster oven, since it was raining off and on and it's illegal to grill on the patio in a multi-family building. And since I don't have a real grill), potato salad and baked beans. I did the baked beans from scratch, starting with dried beans, but I used the crock pot instead of putting them in the oven because I didn't want to have the oven on for hours in this weather. I'm not quite ready to join the Slow Food movement, but every so often I like to take something that I'm used to getting in a convenient form and make it from scratch, just to see how it works. Really, this wasn't all that much more complicated than opening a can. It just took a lot longer. I need to play with the seasonings in this recipe, though. There was something missing or not quite right, and I'm not sure what it was.

Of course now my kitchen is a federal disaster area. On the bright side, I may not have to cook much this week because I've got a ton of leftovers.

This weekend I've got A-Kon, and I'm scheduled for a couple of readings. I think I'm going to do the Rocky and Rollo part of Damsel Under Stress, which means I need to come up with character voices for them. I can hear them in my head, but I need to work on how to perform that. I also have to do some critiques for the writing workshop, and I always sweat those (which is why I seldom volunteer to do critiques). I want to do a valid critique that really helps people, but sometimes doing that also hurts them because nobody likes to be told that their work isn't brilliant, yet telling them it's brilliant when it isn't doesn't help. Usually, the people who participate in this kind of thing are there because they want to improve, so they're open to suggestions, but I have run into those who really just want validation, and so they're horribly offended that you don't think their work is brilliant, since all their friends say it is, and they get lots of positive feedback on all their fanfic, so there. I would never make it as an American Idol judge because I'd get caught in the want to help/don't want to hurt dilemma. Basically, I'm a wimp.

Now I really need to get started on the work I didn't do yesterday. Then tonight is the season finale of House -- and guess what the weather forecast is. Yep. Rain and storms. It's not supposed to be major storms, so maybe we won't get program interruptions.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Start to Summer

Happy Memorial Day (and my dad's birthday, which he claims is a national holiday)! I'm sort of working today because I have stuff to do, but I'm not treating it as a full work day. My holiday weekend so far has consisted of watching movies (Dinner at Eight and Bringing up Baby on DVD, Over the Hedge and Because of Winn Dixie on HBO), reading and going to the theater.

Last night's production was Camelot, with Michael York as King Arthur. I felt a bit old seeing him now and remembering when I was a kid and had a mild crush on him in The Three Musketeers. The Lancelot in this production was the one who really blew me away. He had the most amazing voice, and I swear it got warmer in the theater when he sang "If Ever I Would Leave You." It turns out that he's Mr. Rochester on the original cast album of Jane Eyre, so it looks like I'll be getting that. He was cute, funny, and had that VOICE, totally swoonerific, and I may have a new theater crush. Guinevere is one of those roles I'd like to play because she gets the funny songs and some lovely ballads, plus she gets to have "If Ever I Would Leave You" sung to her. Sigh.

It's still raining off and on, which means it's cool, which I like, but it's also so humid that everything seems waterlogged. Even paper feels heavier, and my hair is a total disaster, frizzing up to epic proportions. Good thing I don't have to go out in public until later this week.

The combo of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars and Memorial Day weekend has made me kind of nostalgic for the summer of 2002, back when episode two came out. That was the year I got laid off from the day job, and then one of my best friends got laid off a few months later, so while there was some stress and financial anxiety, it ended up being kind of like the adult version of a childhood summer for us. We were free to play during the workday, so we went to a lot of afternoon matinee movies, hung around, went out to lunch, went on short road trips, that sort of thing. We went on opening day to see episode 2, during the day. Then on Memorial Day weekend, we got together with some other, less free (and more employed) people to see it again at the DLP theater because we wanted to see what the fuss was about digital projection. We included a friend of ours from our book group and a friend of mine from work, and that ended up being a great combination. The four of us got together for some other things throughout that summer. And then in the fall the group kind of fell apart as people started moving away for work, but we did have that summer, and that's what Star Wars and Memorial Day makes me think of.

And yeah, though I'm not a huge fan of the prequels, I actually liked Attack of the Clones. It's not a bad movie if you ignore the Anakin and Padme parts (very easy to skip on DVD) and focus on the Obi-Wan hunts down the clones plot. Plus, it's the one time in the whole saga when we really get to see the Jedi Knights in action, en masse, and see what a force they could be (no pun intended). That battle scene in the arena was awesome. And it all looked very, very pretty in DLP.

However, I'm not really in the mood to watch it right now, so I won't be commemorating the occasion that way. I started rewatching The Office from the beginning yesterday, and that seems to be my kick for now, along with a few more screwball comedies I checked out of the library. They also have season one of Supernatural on sale at Target this week. I only got into the show midway through this season. Is buying season one worthwhile?

And now I guess if I'm going to pretend it's a work day, I'd better pretend to work.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"In-Flight Movies" for the Road

Wow, it's the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. I feel soooo old. It was Star Wars that got me into fantasy and science fiction, and in a way may even have had something to do with me becoming a writer because it really sparked my imagination and made me want to tell stories that sparked other people's imaginations like that. When I was in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grades, Star Wars was the jumping off point for most of my close friendships. It was a way of establishing common ground. Midway through the year when I was in fourth grade, when the original movie was still very fresh (it had only just left town after the initial run), a new family moved into our neighborhood. They had a daughter my age, and my mom invited her over while the movers unloaded all their stuff. At first, there was that silent awkwardness you get between two kids who've been thrown together just because they're the same age. Then in desperation I pulled out my collection of newspaper and magazine clippings about Star Wars, and that formed a real connection. We ended up becoming best friends, and even though both our families moved away that next summer, we continued writing to each other up through college (though we lost touch then -- Laurie Scrivener, are you out there?).

But although I could go on for hours about Star Wars (Maybe I'll hit the topic again on Monday), that's not really my topic for the day. I promised last week that I'd address my road listening music at some point, so that's today's topic. I'm basically a dork when it comes to music because I have no idea what's supposed to be cool, and furthermore, I don't care. I've never associated myself with a particular movement or culture based on music that influenced the way I dressed or who I hung out with (I guess the movement that influenced who I hung out with was Star Wars). I never was a kicker, goth, punk or anything like that. There may have been New Wave influences to my wardrobe when I was in high school, but that was more because that was what was in style in the 80s than because I identified with being "New Wave." Really, for the most part, the music I like most and buy the most is musical theater, and I don't know that there's a particular style of dress or culture built around that, other than the usual theater kid types, and we didn't have much of that at my high school. I was in the drama club, but we didn't do musicals, and we didn't have a typical drama club. The award-winning actors in the award-winning one-act play my freshman year were also star players on the district champion football team. Needless to say, we didn't have any problem with the jocks trying to beat up the drama nerds at my school.

I blame my mom for this particular quirk of mine because the music we listened to when I was a child was all Broadway cast albums. I knew there was the kind of music you heard on the radio, but I didn't realize you could buy those records. What we had at home was stuff like My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, the Sound of Music, Gypsy, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Man of La Mancha, etc. When I'm making long drives, I love playing Broadway cast albums on the car stereo because it's like having an in-flight movie. Singing along also helps me stay awake and alert while I drive. Since I'd be making a lot of long drives this summer, I bought a few new CDs to throw into the mix.

First, there was the cast album for Wicked, since I'd seen the show recently. I also read the novel, which is very different from the show. I'm amazed that someone could read that book and think it would make a good musical, and it certainly took some rearranging and rewriting, but hey, it worked. I'm a bit surprised that the character I like the most, identify with and would want to play is Glinda. Usually, I really relate to the shy, bookish, sensitive character that no one else understands, so I have no idea why in this show (and even in the book), I find myself relating to the bubbly airhead who sings "Popular." Maybe it's the deeply repressed ham in me that would enjoy getting out of my usual mode and cutting loose like that.

The next one I got was The Last Five Years. I bought that because of the composer, Jason Robert Brown. I stumbled on his work in a "Broadway in Love" compilation CD of romantic duets, which included the song "I'd Give it All for You" from Songs for a New World. That song was like a huge click for me, and it fit perfectly with the central conflict in the book I was writing at the time. I found the Songs for a New World cast recording to play on a drive to Houston, and it immediately became a favorite. I got to see a production of Parade with Jason Robert Brown himself conducting (Broadway fangirl squee). The only show of his I hadn't seen and didn't have in my collection was The Last Five Years, so I ordered it. It's a two-person show about the rise and fall of a relationship, with a very interesting narrative structure. The woman's songs start at the end, at their divorce and go backward in time, and the man's songs start at the beginning, when they meet, and move forward in time, so that we see the relationship build and unravel from different perspectives at different times. They cross at the middle with a duet when he proposes, then at the end, she's just met him and is all excited about the relationship, while he's at the actual end when it's all over. That means you only get one side of the story at a time, and only at the end do you see how it all fits together. I wish the CD player that's easy to program wasn't broken because it would be interesting to arrange the songs in chronological order and see how it works then (or, duh, I should load it into iTunes and play it that way, so it doesn't have to physically skip around on the CD). It's also a narrative structure that would be really, really fun to play with in a book.

What I didn't realize I was getting when I ordered those two CDs was a Norbert Leo Butz double feature. I was lucky enough to get to see one of his last performances in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and that was one of the most amazing stage performances I think I've ever seen. He was totally in character as this outrageously sleazy con man, but there were moments, such as during a mock romantic ballad, where you got the impression that he could really sing if he were in a serious role. It turned out that he had the male lead (such as it was in a very girl-power show) in Wicked and that he's the guy in The Last Five years. And, yeah, he can really, really sing, and he can do a lot more than play the goofball, but he does have a way with a funny, angry, sarcastic song.

My other new purchase was the original cast CD of Into the Woods, but that's an old favorite. I had it on cassette, and the tape no longer worked, so I finally replaced it. It should come as no surprise that I'm a fan of the fractured fairy tale, and I love the idea of exploring what happens after the happily ever after. I'd love to play Cinderella in that show because she gets a lot of the funny stuff, with all the pratfalls and the fast, clever Sondheim songs, but she then also gets one of the gorgeous ballads. Of course, playing any role other than being in the chorus would require me really mastering that singing stage fright. I'm better, but I'm not cured.

And now I have tons of work to get done, finishing a book proposal, doing some tweaks on book 4 (not that I'm highly motivated at the moment), starting another book proposal, updating my web site, plotting the downfall of Ballantine Books (who've taken over from the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as the bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes -- until, of course, they see the light, in which case they will be industry-leading visionaries), doing some manuscript critiques, planning a general overthrow of the publishing industry, cleaning my house and preparing some material for readings at A-Kon. Whew! I'm still planning to make Sunday a no-work day, so I guess I'd better get started, huh? Overthrowing the entire publishing industry will take at least a couple of hours, but I may be able to do it while I watch TV.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Becky Motew

Today is a whine-free zone. :-) Instead of book, book, book, me, me, me, moan, moan, moan, my publisher doesn't love me, blah, blah, blah, I'm going to talk about someone else's book because it's time for a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit entry (and because I'm still recovering from last night's meeting with the DFW Tea book club. Honest, I only had one drink. But it was a reaaaaaallllly gooooood drink).

I've talked about Coupon Girl by Becky Motew in a Book Report before, but now it's out in mass market paperback if you want to give it a try. You know I liked it because I gave it a cover blurb. This really is one of the cutest, funniest books I've read in a while. In case you, like I am, are too lazy to go back and find what I said about it before, here's what it's about:

Jeanie Callahan sells coupons. Dry cleaners, mechanics, pizza guys—all of them are friends and clients, deadbeats and tormentors. This summer Jeanie has joined the local community theatre, hoping to snag a collection of customers to win her company’s sales contest.

But weighed down in a nun costume and fighting with middle-aged women about whose crucifix should be bigger, she wonders if it was a good idea. Frankly, there’s not a business owner to be seen. The handsome director is in sight, though, and Jeanie thinks she may have found true love. Or maybe it’s a course in Sex Fetishes 101. Opening night looms and some unusual sales propel Jeanie to the brink of victory.

Now, the interview:

What inspired you to write this book?
I always knew I would write Coupon Girl. The kernel of inspiration was the coupon job itself, although it wasn’t that different from other sales jobs. "Parts is parts," some say and they are right. Whatever you have in your bag, you still have to walk in cold and try to sell yourself first. It’s intimidating. It takes guts. Plus sales people are buffeted by everyone—the boss thinks he knows the best way for you to handle clients, the customers laugh and reject that and tell you how you should REALLY do it, and then your colleagues have their own ideas. You have to find your own way and that’s the story I tried to tell with Jeanie.

I don’t mean to leave out the theatre aspect of the story. In a way, CG is a three-legged race with the two plots side by side. The intriguing part of community theatre to me was always the addictive nature of it. I couldn’t get enough.

Describe your creative process.
I usually start with a concept, a picture in my mind of something. This was the "coupon book" and another one is the "grocery store book." Still another is the "nun" book I am working on now. Actually, it's an "ex-nun" book. I know the main events and when they will occur (halfway through, about two thirds through, etc.), especially the ending. But in between is a big furry space . If I try to do a detailed outline, I start cheating on it the first day. So I leave it kind of furry. I revise at night after writing in the morning, though I don't always revise the thing I wrote in the morning. Does that make sense?

Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
I try always to leave a scene in the middle so I can return to it and not feel so "cold" when I do. No music or noise of any kind. I love music and am instantly singing along with it and not paying attention to business.

How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
It would be foolish for me to deny kinship with Jeanie, since I lived her life for many years. But at least in the theatre aspect, she is content to be in the chorus and has no ambitions further. I did in my day. I was usually lucky enough to get cast in one of the secondary comic roles--Broadway shows typically have only two roles for women, a romantic lead and a comedy lead. I think we share a certain outlook--life is odd and everybody walking around in it is a little odd and you might as well enjoy it.

Has writing this book made you look at those coupon mailers in a different light?
Nope. I see them in exactly the same light as I always did. There's a story behind each coupon, sometimes a really surprising one.

(Silly me didn't realize when I asked the question that Becky had actually sold those coupons. I guess I thought I knew everything because I'd read the book already and had met her so I didn't read the whole news release until just now. Duh. I just know that after reading the book, I treat those mailers with a little more respect and actually look at them instead of instantly trashing them. And I know that's a job I could NEVER do.)

Have you had any particularly interesting community theater experiences that inspired that part of this book?
I guess I had about every experience possible. I was left on stage with nothing to say a few times. Life goes by in two-year increments in those moments. Once when that happened (somebody missed an entrance), there happened to be one other actor out there with me, a guy I'd been dating who had just dumped me. Talk about awkward. The two of us, both extroverts with never a lack for words, turned to each other and he spoke first. "Well?" I got him, though. I said, "Well, what?"

Chocolate: dark or milk?
They're both good. God, what a waffler, huh?

What are you working on now?
Ex-nun teaches school and tries to enter the dating scene after 20 years.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
No, but can I change to dark chocolate? Thanks, Shanna.

(You can change your vote to dark chocolate, but I'm not sharing mine. I desperately need all I can get right now. Oops, sorry for the whine).

For more info, visit Becky's web site. You can buy the book from Amazon by going here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Day After

Thanks for all the support on the bad news. I suspect that was a big part of why I didn't end up feeling totally devastated or upset. I ended up not bingeing on anything or getting into a big, weepy state. Aside from one brief outburst of bitter anger when on the phone with my agent, I was amazingly even-keeled. Instead, I just got really, really focused, which is potentially scary because when I get focused and angry about something, things tend to happen. Not in the Owen kind of way, nearly blowing up a city, or something, but more like get out of my way because I'm on a real mission. The closest I've come to bursting into tears was this morning when I knocked over a glass that then broke all over the floor. It wasn't as though I shattered the family crystal -- it was a glass from a set I bought at a housewares outlet when I had my very first apartment while doing an internship in college -- so I suspect that the brief outburst of tears was related to something else. I think I'd feel better if I could find something good to cry about, but there's a stubborn part of me that refuses to do something so wimpy as cry about a business matter.

Instead of answering comments individually, I'll address them all here so everyone can see the answers more easily.

For the reason why, it comes down to numbers. The second book sold a lot fewer copies (so far) than the first book (as I said, never mind that the first book has been on sale a year longer and is still selling), and because of that, bookstores (primarily the major chains) ordered far fewer copies of the third book. The publisher thinks that means there's not a lot of room for growth in the series because it's on a downward trend. They said they still wanted to work with me, but they thought I might have better potential for growth with something totally new. And then, maybe, we could revisit book five. However, them passing on this book means I'm no longer under option, which means I am now free to go to any other publisher with any other book, so they knew that passing on this book meant the potential for losing me, and that doesn't say much about their desire to work with me. So, yeah, I'm unemployed again.

I'm not entirely sure why the numbers are shaking out this way. Readers seem to like the books, they get good reviews, and most of the time, just telling people about them makes them inclined to buy them. Booksellers tell me they're an easy sell. So why aren't they selling better? I think maybe they're misplaced being put in general fiction as chick lit. When the first book came out, chick lit was the hot thing, but it seems like the chick lit readers don't really care all that much, while it's the fantasy readers who are all over them, so maybe fantasy would have been a better fit. It also seems like at the chain level, the stores have missed the opportunity to build momentum with the series by not reordering the previous books when the new book comes out. You start hitting critical mass with a series when you get that additional shelf space, and there are people who don't notice a series until there are multiple books, showing that it's a series. My agent has made the suggestion of releasing the first book as a mass-market paperback, repackaged and shelved as fantasy. I haven't heard yet what the response was, but I'm not sensing a lot of enthusiasm over there. They seem to have thrown in the towel altogether.

This does not mean there will never be a book five. We may see if anyone else wants it (though that's a long shot because few publishers want to pick up a series near the end -- however, I know there's at least one editor who is already looking at it). Or the original publisher might end up wanting it if sales suddenly start picking up for the series or for whatever I write next. The hard part there is that while I'm still seeing new people getting on board with the series, most of the stores I've visited are only carrying the first book and the third book, so new readers will have a hard time finding the second book, which makes them less inclined to try to third book. To continue with the series, they'll have to make a real effort to find the second book. It will take one of those tipping points I've mentioned before to make the whole series really take off in a way that will make a difference.

Will I e-publish or self-publish book five? I won't say absolutely no, but it's very unlikely. Because I am now essentially unemployed, I need to be writing some other stuff to see if I can get a new publisher or my old publisher to pick me up so I can go back to making money. That means I don't have time to be writing something that probably won't make much money. I also don't have the budget for the up-front investment that self-publishing requires, and I have no desire to deal with the distribution issues. Unless there are a lot more lurkers than I realize, there are only about 200 or so regular readers here (on all three sites where I post a blog), and that's not enough people to support selling a book off my web site. Besides, I don't want to close off any options. I'd guess that there's about a year window in which someone might still be open to picking up book five, depending on how book four does when it comes out, and if it's been e-published or self-published, that can't happen.

I'll admit that there was a moment when I found myself asking why I'm killing myself promoting my books when it doesn't seem to be doing any good. But, as I may have mentioned before, I'm a wee bit stubborn, and you never know, one of these things I have lined up this summer may be part of the tipping point I need that could make a real difference. I'm looking at this as a marketing problem/opportunity. I've got a good product that people seem to enjoy. It appeals to a broad range of people. When people find out about it, they tend to be interested. What needs to happen is for more people who might be interested to find out about it, and then make them highly motivated to buy it and then tell others. The "highly motivated" part is key because they may have to look for it if they want to read the series in order and start at the beginning. I'm mostly going to focus on the Internet because the main sure way of being able to get the first two books is by ordering online or getting the e-book (and by the way, Enchanted, Inc. has now been discounted slightly at B&N online -- right after I ordered a bunch of copies, and perhaps because of that big order).

So, what can we do to make things happen? Keep spreading the word, and make sure people you get hooked on the first book go on to get the other books (and remember, only books bought new count for the publisher). Nagging may be in order. A letter-writing campaign will make no difference to the publisher, but if you were one of those people who had a very difficult shopping experience at one of the major chains, like you had to go to four different stores to find the book, then I posted the customer service contact info a week or so ago. If you write online reviews for other books (particularly really popular books) at online booksellers, list mine in the "also recommended" part of the review. If there's a bookstore you frequent, suggest that they carry all three books. They'd be great in a display of "what to read when you've finished the Harry Potter series" books.

Speaking of which, I have another idea of a campaign I'm going to try to carry out, and I could use some help. I think the most obvious target audience would be Harry Potter readers (and there are a few of them, I think), so with this being a huge Harry Potter summer, I really want to go after that readership. If you read your local newspaper, a magazine or a widely read blog and there's a writer covering the Harry Potter books who might be open to writing something about what else you might want to read with that series coming to an end, I'd appreciate any pointers (name, publication name, contact info). If you feel so inclined, you could also contact that person yourself to suggest them writing about other books for HP fans and mentioning whichever ones you feel are relevant (hint, hint).

If you're on any fan lists, boards, forums, whatever, and there's an appropriate opportunity to bring up reading suggestions, that would be good, too. I may come up with Great Blog Campaign, HP Edition, for this summer, but I'm not sure what prizes there might be, other than publication of book 5 if it works.

And now, to add insult to injury, I have to go to the dentist. However, I almost always seem to get good news on my answering machine when I'm at the dentist. When my agent called to say she wanted to see the complete manuscript of Enchanted, Inc., I was at the dentist. When I got the news that books 3 and 4 had sold, I was at the dentist. I think there was at least one other big call that came while I was at the dentist. Somehow, though, I think it's a little too soon to be getting big news on this particular issue. Hey, maybe that's when that movie deal will come through all of a sudden.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bad News

I just got news from my agent that my publisher has passed on book five. They said the numbers just weren't there because each book was selling less than the one before.

Never mind that the first book has been out a year longer and continues to sell steadily, which means that the series itself has room for growth and sales of the second book could catch up.

Needless to say, I'm a wee bit upset and rather pissed-off. Chocolate may be needed.

However, the door isn't entirely closed. My agent is going to check with a few other publishers to see if anyone's interested in closing out the series (and getting the next phase of it), and there's always the possibility that my publisher could come crawling back to me, begging for book five, if the series suddenly takes off and they see a spike in sales.

So, I guess we're in the same situation we were, but more desperate (gee, I'm having flashbacks from December 2002 when Fox cancelled Firefly and we were all writing letters to other networks). If you want the chance of seeing book five, keep telling people about the books. If you checked them out of the library or borrowed the book from a friend, buy a copy (new!). If friends want to borrow your copies, make them buy their own. Keep on spreading the word. If sales do well, other publishers and my old publisher will be more likely to reconsider. Letters to the publisher do no good because all they care about is the number of copies sold, and they have a direct measurement of that. Buying a book or making sure a book gets bought is the only way to record a "vote" for it.

Book 4 is, as far as I know, still a go (since they've paid me for it), and even if we don't get book 5, it does have a good ending that could work as a series ending. However, they probably will support book 4 even less now, so it may be the "orphan" book that's really hard to find. Without book five, you just won't get to find out what Owen's story really is, or what's really been going on with Idris.

Now I'm going to work that much harder on the thing I started work on last night. And then come up with something even more brilliant that can now go to all publishers, and they will RUE THE DAY. Ahem.

Sign of the Impending Apocalypse

I'm still catching up on everything, mostly because I got into the strange situation yesterday of wanting to write more than I wanted to do all the stuff I usually do when I'm trying to put off writing. So, I decided to go with it. I don't get into that mood too often and I need to take advantage of it when I do.

A few little newsy notes that I keep forgetting to mention:
Sorry, no word yet on book 5. There is no doubt that I will share word when I have it, whether it's time for virtual champagne or whether I need tons of virtual hugs.

It's official that if Damsel Under Stress goes into another printing, the cover will be the same kind of matte finish that were on the first two books instead of the glossy that was on the initial printing. No word yet on when/if another printing will be needed (it actually went into a second printing before release -- and before the goof was caught). Considering the piles of books I've seen when I've been out and about, probably not anytime soon. It was late June before Once Upon Stilettos went into another printing, and that was because of the Target order. It was sometime in October or November of the year of release before Enchanted, Inc. went into another printing. As I don't yet have sales figures, I don't know yet what the sales velocity of this book seems to be.

I've just realized that I'm almost completely out of copies of Enchanted, Inc. I'd ordered a bunch because my agent needed some for sending to film and foreign rights agents, to use for entering contests, to give away as promo items, and to have to sell at conventions. Now I just have my personal copies. I have one that's my "working" copy that tends to get marked up or flagged with Post-its so I can look up things as I work on subsequent books, I have the copy I take with me to talks as a visual aid, and I have a few "nice" copies, one on each major bookshelf in my house. Now that I've made friends with the bookseller who works the convention circuit, I haven't been as worried about having books to sell because I can just get people to buy them from him and then I'll sign them. That way, he gets the business, I get the royalties and the orders through the system, and I don't have to deal with money or invest in inventory. However, I've also just realized that this bookseller doesn't have A-Kon on his list of cons he's attending, and the con hasn't updated their vendor list since April, so I can't tell if there will be any booksellers there. The only ones listed seem to deal mostly in comics/manga and Japanese imports (which makes sense -- hey, maybe they'll have the Japanese edition!). I don't know if any booksellers I contacted now would be able to have inventory ready before the con.

Which means I need to come up with a plan in case someone who hears me speak actually wants to get my books. I wonder if Amazon could deliver a few copies before next Friday without me having to pay an arm and a leg in shipping (I don't have Amazon Prime and don't order enough from Amazon to make that worthwhile). I guess if I'm just hoping to turn around and sell them at cover cost and am more worried about getting the credit for a sale through the system than on making a profit, I could buy them via B&N using my member discount, and then I'm pretty sure I'd get them on time (I've heard too many Amazon shipping horror stories). The question then is how many I might need. I've sold out completely at conventions and I've sold all of two books at conventions. Is there anyone familiar with this particular event who has a sense of whether people will be rushing to buy books or if they'll just take note of things to look for later? I usually don't buy books at cons and instead collect bookmarks and postcards to add to my list for next time I'm looking for a book so I don't have to deal with the books while I'm at the con or when I'm traveling (books tend to get heavy).

It seems like I tend to sell a lot of copies of Enchanted, Inc. and Damsel Under Stress at events. Poor Stilettos is the middle child. Either people are already fans and want the new book, or else they're new readers who want the first one. I hope those new readers then go back and get the second book. I feel sad for it.

As I've mentioned, I'm working on a new project, but I'm not really ready to talk about it. It's something entirely different from what I've been writing, and in an area my agent has been nagging me about for years. It's a fun case of ideas colliding to create that sense of "click" that makes it all work. Part of the idea I'd talked about with my agent, but she thought it wasn't big enough and needed something more. Part of it was something that had been lurking in my brain for a while, but I couldn't really find a story for it. When I threw that idea into the other one -- something that came to me while I was driving across Texas -- it all came together and I knew I had the "something more." I wrote a whole chapter last night, and I think I can write the next two chapters of the proposal today. It's a good writing weather day.

So now I'm going to do something incredibly uncharacteristic and write before noon. This may be a sign of the impending apocalypse.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Moderately Coherent Now

Okay, I think I'm now all relaxed and rejuvenated (though maybe not -- at first I accidentally typed "not" instead of "now" -- typo or Freudian slip?). The weekend was gorgeous, and I spent most of it taking long walks and sitting on the patio and reading. Because of how much I've enjoyed the last couple of Sundays, I've decided to start a new policy of no work on Sundays, unless there's some kind of weekend event. It's not that I generally spend a lot of time working on Sundays, but I usually feel like I should be doing something, and that means I don't start anything else because I think I'll be starting to work soon. I may even make it to the computer, but then I waste a lot of time thinking about how I need to get to work. By taking even the option of work out of the picture, it's amazing how much free time that gives me, and the free time is more enjoyable without the guilt. I'm also trying to make Sundays a no-computer day. That makes work even less likely and frees up more time, while also being good for my eyes, my wrists and my posture. The down side is it means I face Monday morning with a pretty big in-box that takes me longer to plow through.

I was getting all excited about the new Sunday freedom and all the things I can do with that time until I realized that after this next weekend, I won't have too many free Sundays this summer. But then in the fall and winter it will be lovely.

Dealing with e-mail, blog comments and Great Blog Campaign stuff is on today's to-do list. I think I'll extend the GBC throughout the month of May, just for fun and because I've slacked off in dealing with it.

Sadly, my weekend reading was rather disappointing. I'd caught a few super-clearance, half-off the bargain price sales at all these bookstores I've been visiting, and picked up a few things on a whim, but none of them were books I'd recommend. A couple of them inspired a rant I may get to sometime in the future. Then there was one book by an author I've loved and read before. I bought one of her books in England and have never seen her for sale in the US, then saw a hardcover by her on the bargain table. It's a British edition, so it never was on sale in the US until it was remaindered. I picked it up without caring much what it was about because I liked that other book so much, and it appears that she's changed what she's writing. I'm not sure yet if it's that I don't like what she's writing now, or if it's just the contrast with what I was expecting that disappointed me. The book I read before was cute and charming, with really nice characters, and this one is more of a sprawling saga in which all of the characters are deeply flawed in an annoying way -- not just good person with flaws, but some of them seem to be truly bad people, and that's the main characters I think we're supposed to be cheering for.

I think I'm about to start writing a new project today, and that's exciting. It's one I've been brainstorming for ages, but last night it fell into place in my head with an almost audible click, and now I'm suddenly seeing scenes play out, hearing the characters' voices, and seeing the characters come to life. I think that's one of my favorite parts about writing.

And now I have a HUGE to-do list (one bit of work I did do over the weekend), so off to work I go.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Stupid Tired Again

I am now home and likely to remain that way for a while. I'm having dinner with friends Saturday night, but otherwise will avoid the car for a while. That's a very long drive to make two days in a row.

I know I said I'd deal with reader e-mail, Great Blog Campaign stuff and blog comments today, but I'm stupid tired again so I think I'm going to deal with a few businessy must-dos and otherwise take the day off to rest. It's a lovely day, so I may spend it on the patio with a book. I'll hit the ground running with work stuff next week. The to-do list is getting full again. I have a few more tweaks to make to book 4 (which means I'll probably do another pass on the entire thing), some critiques to do for a writing workshop, plus I need to update the web site with the behind the scenes info for the latest book. I have lots of photos to go with this one. I may even post the alternate ending, though it probably shouldn't be read without Prozac, alcohol or chocolate handy (I was pretty depressed when I wrote the first draft).

I had all kinds of eloquent things to say about the drive and about the variety of musical theater I listened to along the way, but I'm not even stringing words together well today, so maybe I'll hold it until later. I keep having to go back and fix where I wrote the wrong word or blended two words, so I'm not sure I could be coherent and eloquent today.

Yep, it's a book and patio kind of day. Maybe a nap. Back on Monday with coherence!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Defective Crystal Balls

Coming to you live from San Antonio, where my hotel was nice enough to have free high-speed Internet. Woo hoo! (Why is it that the cheaper hotels offer more stuff as part of the room rate? Pay a couple hundred or more bucks a night for a hotel room and you pay extra for Internet, pay extra for local phone calls, get only a few channels on the fancy "guest TV" service, pay extra for breakfast. Pay 50 bucks a night at the Rodeway Inn and get free Internet, free local phone, about a hundred cable channels and free breakfast.)

Because my crystal ball is cloudy, I didn't foresee when we set up last night's booksigning that it would be taking place at the same time as a big San Antonio Spurs playoff game (since at that time we had no way of knowing who'd be in the playoffs or what their schedule would be). That makes two signings where I've competed with the NBA playoffs in cities that had a team involved. As a result, the store was kind of empty. However, there were a couple of people who came just to see me (yay!) and even kept me occupied, and I sold at least one book to one of the few random people in the store. The staff had me sign a bunch of books to leave behind, with the assurance that they would sell them. Apparently, a lot of the store staff are fans and are hand selling like crazy. They also tell me the latest book is doing very well in their store (yay again!).

I'd forgotten how much I like San Antonio. It's now on my list as a possible destination for that hypothetical relaxing vacation I'm thinking of. There are a few touristy things to do, but otherwise I could get a lot of relaxing done while sitting on the Riverwalk and drinking margaritas. The downside is that it's a rather grueling drive, but I think I could take it slowly, stop to see a few sights along the way, and make it in two days.

Of course, it would help if I didn't get stuck behind a frakkin' house being moved down a major highway, and driving straddling two lanes even though the shoulder was wide enough to move over just enough to let people pass (though the driver must have liked me because the one time he did move over it was to let me pass before he moved back and kept a whole line of traffic stuck behind him).

But because it's a long drive (Texas is kind of big), I'm going to head out now. I need to be sure to make it home in time for the season finale of The Office. What will Jim do now that the cat's out of the bag????!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Kelly Parra

I'm about to hit the road again for my San Antonio signing. Remember, that's tonight (Wednesday) at 7:30 at the Borders on Basse Road (apparently it's in an area called the Quarries). I have a cute 1940s-ish outfit, and since Borders is currently featuring the Puppini Sisters (I felt so in the know when I knew who they were when I saw that in a store, thanks to a blog comment), I may get the store to cue up that disc while I'm there and we can have a big, swinging party. I just hope this isn't yet another pathetic, sad, lonely signing.

On Friday I'm hoping to get around to responding to reader e-mails and blog comments and posting more Great Blog Campaign stuff. I'll get to be home for more than a whole week! Woo hoo!

Now before I go get packed, I leave you with a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit entry, Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra.

Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with the winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track star and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside her can truly break free.

Now, the interview:
What inspired you to write this book?
I was very much a teen artist in high school, and my friends were into graffiti art. I would try my best at creating paper designs but I pretty much flunked as a graffiti artist in training. When I made the decision to try my hand at writing young adult fiction, a story line on graffiti popped for me first. I knew a lot about art, but I did have to do my share of research on graffiti in general.

Describe your creative process.
If I could, I would write by the seat of my pants, and work with the story outline as I went along. But when selling on proposal, planning out a synopsis is part of the game. I revise along the way as I write and then after I have my first draft, I go over the book again, revising and editing. By this time, I usually lose my perspective on a project and both my agent and CPs run through it and offer their suggestions. I wish I knew exactly how many times I read over a project--it seems like over 100 times!

Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
Because I'm a mother of two, squeezing writing time in whenever I can is the top ritual. :) Other than that if I have to stay up late to write, I have my designated cup of French Vanilla cafe to keep me warm and awake.

How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
My heroine Angel is a teen artist like I was in school and a little rough around the edges, like again I am. :) We share the same aspects of unruly hair and love of baggy and comfortable clothes. Angel is also Mexican-American like me, although I have one more nationality than her!

Do you have any kind of artistic talent (other than writing, of course!)?
As I mentioned above, I used to draw and paint a lot in high school. Now, not so much. I did go to school for graphic design so I know how to illustrate on a computer and my design sense helps me with any print work I need for promotion. I also catch the creative bug every now and then and play at photography with my digital camera and change colors and lighting with a photo editing program. It keeps my visually creative personality happy!

Chocolate: dark or milk?
Definitely milk chocolate. I'm all for sweet rather than rich.

What are you working on now?
I just sold a second young adult novel to MTV Books about a girl who sees psychic images or signs on her peers and then has to piece together the clues in order to save them from unfortunate fates. It's the first time I'll be writing with a paranormal element so I'm very excited about the project.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
Graffiti Girl is a fast paced read. My intent while writing Angel's journey was to hopefully create a novel that teens can relate to and give them an entertaining story. I hope I pulled that off!

If you want to read the book, you can buy it from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble (or, of course, from an independent bookseller, if you're lucky enough to have one in your area).

For more info on Kelly and her books, visit her web site.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tipping Points and News Guy Stalking

I was so very, very good yesterday. I had an epic to-do list, and I even managed to get all of it done, plus I took a walk and got even more exercise than I bargained for when it started thundering when I was ten minutes away from home. I walked back quite a bit faster to beat the little pop-up storms we've been having.

Looking back at what I wrote yesterday, I think I may have left the impression that y'all aren't doing your part to spread the word or that I'm not grateful for everything you have done. I am so very grateful, and my publisher and agent are really impressed with how active my readers are. Really, what I was trying to get at was that I didn't want my entire marketing plan to be "readers will tell their friends." There's equal amounts of opportunity and frustration in seeing how few people have heard of my books as well as how interested most people seem to be when they do hear about them. That makes me feel like there's this huge untapped market of people who'd be all over them if only they ever heard about them. (And I guess that's better than everyone having heard about them and just not being interested.) So I then try to come up with ideas of ways to broaden the scope. I haven't managed to find the magical combination of factors to create a tipping point.

I'll be doing some different things this summer, starting with A-Kon, the anime convention, where I'm part of the faculty for the writing workshop. That's a huge convention, with something like 12,000 people, and they come from all over the world, so that should bump me into a few other loops of people. I'm also going farther afield with science fiction conventions, heading all the way up into Oklahoma. A lot of the same people seem to keep ending up at the cons in the general region, but there are sure to be locals who don't travel down to Texas.

Now, in other news, a break from book, book, book, me, me, me, for a book report. This one is a perfect example of how scattershot the book promotion effort can be because this book is so right up my alley, yet I never heard of it until I found it, sadly, in the B&N sale section, which means that it may be hard to find now, and it's a little late for anything I say to give it a boost. But still, in case it sounds fun to you and you can find it, Babe in Toyland by Eugenie Seifer Olson may be the book I hit people over the head with when they start to go on about how all chick lit books are just about women obsessing over shoes, getting dumped by bad boyfriends and hanging out with their gay best friends. It still has a lot of the classical chick lit elements and tone, while being very different. For starters, the main character works for a toy company, a career you don't see a lot of. She's obsessed with scented bath products instead of Manolos. She actually spends a lot of the book volunteering in the cancer ward at the children's hospital instead of just going out drinking and shopping (something I don't see a lot of in any books). She hasn't really been dumped. Instead, she's developed a huge crush on the local TV weatherman (and now you see why this book appealed to me). I admit that I initially bought it because I wanted to see if there might be any strategies I might use in my crush on the local weekend anchorman, but I ended up really liking the book as a whole.

Sadly, I didn't learn anything I might use in my own quest. She just sends anonymous poems and then later sends messages in the poems to get him to wear a certain tie on certain days if he likes the poems. That strikes me as something that would be treated as possibly dangerous stalker action by the station. Besides, I e-mailed him directly once (commenting on the newscast and mentioning that we went to the same journalism school rather than gushing about how he's my one true love), and if that didn't get anything going, I don't see how anonymous poems would help much. Still, it made for a fun weekend read. It was just what I needed for my Sunday of relaxing.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Getting Out of the Loop

I'm a bit less stupid today. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that I'm less tired. I took all of Sunday off -- didn't do anything even remotely work-related. The Saturday signing in Fort Worth was good in its own way. Nobody showed up just to see me, but I ended up selling a good number of books -- almost all Enchanted, Inc., which means they were all new recruits. There seem to be two main kinds of booksignings. There are the ones where fans show up to meet me, so the focus is more on chatting. I come back from those a weird combination of tired and wired, exhausted, but still excited. Then there are the ones where I essentially spend two hours handselling, talking to people and persuading them to give the book a chance. Those are just exhausting, even if the results are good, because I'm not much of a salesperson. I found it draining and stressful selling Girl Scout cookies, and if you can't work up the nerve to ask people to buy Thin Mints, which practically throw themselves at people and sell themselves, then handselling is probably not your ideal thing.

What I find interesting is how receptive people are to my books once they're brought to their attention. As soon as people really get a look at the covers and read the back cover or even really hear what the books are about, they're all over them. I keep hearing people say that sounds like just their thing, and they wonder why they haven't heard of these books. I guess that shows that even with the publicity I've had, the word still hasn't spread to the mainstream. I'm actually surprised at how little impact having that big article and photo in the Dallas Morning News has had. Other than a few people who came to that first booksigning, I haven't yet run into anyone I didn't already know who recognizes or remembers me from the newspaper. No one at a bookstore other than the one where I was signing that night was aware of the newspaper article (if I were working in a bookstore, I'd make a point of reading the arts section every morning to see if there was something in there customers might be asking for.) Meanwhile, there was also an article and photo on the front page of the weekly newspaper for this general suburban area, and I'm a little surprised that no one at, say, church has recognized me as the person in the newspaper. Do people just not expect people who are in the newspaper to be out and about town like everyone else? Even with the kind of press I'm getting and with books out in stores, this isn't the most famous I've been. My biggest fame spell came when I was in college in Austin. I was interviewed by a crew for a story in a local TV newscast, and since I was actually a broadcast news major I guess I gave them a really good sound bite because it not only ended up in the story, but then they used that clip for the station's promos (the "we're covering the local news that matters to you" kind of thing), and for several months, I couldn't go anywhere around Austin without someone recognizing me and asking if I was the girl in the news commercials.

So, with getting some press, and with the books being something that should be hot, given market trends and the kind of interest they generate, why haven't they hit bigger? What is it that makes the difference between a bestseller and an also-ran? I probably spend way too much time thinking about that, but it's a fascinating topic. To a large extent, publishers help decide what will be a bestseller. Some books get the star treatment, with all kinds of promo goodies sent to key accounts and a fairly hard sell instead of it just being in the catalog. The publishers pay for prime store placement, which ensures a certain level of orders. Then there's advertising and other marketing. Even there, it may or may not work. There was an article in The New York Times about what a crap shoot it is.

Even when it comes to books that are bestsellers, I'm not sure how the word really gets out because as clued into the book business as I am, there are a lot I don't hear much about. Suite Francais is really hitting the bestseller lists now in trade paperback, and I only discovered that book when it was just sitting on the "new fiction" table at a store where I was having a signing last year. I didn't read it for months, and I didn't start hearing buzz about it until I'd read it. Naomi Novik's Temeraire books hit really big, and I found out about those through the Del Rey Internet Newsletter, when they did a special edition just about that series. But I didn't see special placement in stores. In fact, the second book in the series had the same release date as my last book, and I didn't find it in most stores when I was out signing stock. I did hear some online buzz after I'd already read the first book, and it appears that she attends ComicCon. She also has a LiveJournal and averages at least 50 comments whenever she makes a post (I feel so inadequate). My books have been featured in the publisher's newsletters (though not with an entire issue devoted to them) and I certainly didn't get the same result. I heard about Love Walked In via a review at Trashionista but didn't hear much other buzz about it until I started spreading it myself. That book took off in trade paperback, and from what I understand (I have a wee bit of insider info on that), the paperback success was something of a surprise, and that was when they sent the author out on a big book tour (I got a copy as a thank-you gift for helping with the buzz. Now, if I can help get someone else on a bestseller list, why can't I do that for myself?).

I loved Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, which is about how trends spread and how word of mouth works. It's not so much the "I told two friends and they told two friends" thing like in the shampoo commercial from the 70s. Word of mouth can spread that way, but that's really too slow to make a real impact in today's entertainment industries where they want instant results. Where you get real word of mouth is with the right people. Gladwell identifies certain types. There are Connectors, who seem to know everyone, especially other Connectors who can influence their own groups (and to show how connected these people are, I've actually met -- went to a party at his house -- the person used as an example of a Connector in the book). There are Mavens, the people others look to as experts on a topic and who therefore have a lot of influence. And then there are Salespeople, who can persuade people to take action on a particular issue or topic. The trick is to find the right combination of these people -- maybe a Salesperson influences a Maven to whom a Connector goes for advice, and then the Connector spreads the word to another Salesperson, who spreads it far and wide. You might run into one of these people eventually through all the friends telling friends process, but it works better if you can find and identify them and go straight to them.

The problem with word of mouth for an ongoing thing is that it's very easy to get into a closed loop where you get to the point you're not reaching anyone new, just reinforcing the message to the same group of people. That was the problem with the way Universal marketed the movie Serenity. They had all those advance screenings that got filled with Browncoats, with the idea that the troops would be all fired up and ready to spread the word. Well, we were already fired up. Seeing the screenings didn't change anything for most of us. We had the Firefly DVDs and had shown them to anyone we knew already. As a result, the movie really only got promoted within that same closed loop. What needs to happen is to find a way to leapfrog out of that loop and into another loop. Usually, there's some crossover between loops, like a Venn diagram where there are members that belong to two sets.

So, that's what I've been trying to do with the Great Blog Campaign. I feel like I've already reached everyone I can, so that I'm mostly just preaching to the choir. The hope is that some of you may overlap loops, and maybe someone in your other set will pick up on it and spread more within that other loop or maybe even cross over to yet another loop. Media coverage does help with that because it spreads information widely, and then there's the hope that someone with connections or influence within a group will pick up on it and start spreading word within that loop.

Have I ever mentioned that I suspect I'm pretty balanced left brain and right brain? I do all that fuzzy creative writing type stuff, and then I go all analytical about it. No wonder I'm insane. I should probably focus on writing books instead of trying to map the dispersal of word of mouth promotion.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Stupid Tired

I am in a state that I refer to as "stupid tired" that's lingering from yesterday, when I did silly things like set off my own security alarm by putting in the "arm" code instead of the "disarm" code when I came home or snap at my mother (though in my defense, she asked me if I'd done any work on a new book when I'd just spent two days driving across Texas). I dragged myself to the grocery store today because I was at popcorn and a multivitamin status for food. You could tell I was in an odd state by the contents of my grocery cart: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, skim milk, unbleached flour and whole-grain cereal, along with brownie mix, chocolate ice cream, root beer and Special Dark bars.

I'm taking the rest of the day (what there is of it) off to rest so I can deal with my booksigning tomorrow. This is the one in the Barnes & Noble near TCU in Fort Worth at 2 p.m. If you're in the area, stop by.

Speaking of bookstores, I did find that my book was available in the stores I hit yesterday, and it's showed up in larger quantities and face-out in my neighborhood store. I have been letting my editor know about the bookstore issues, but there's not a lot they can do about it from the publisher level, as the publisher can't make a store carry a book. If you're frustrated with the difficulties you've had finding the book, the place to go to complain would be the stores themselves or the chains. For your convenience, here's the contact info for the two major chains:

Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Customer Service Department
122 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10011

telephone: (800) 422-7717
fax: (212) 352-3660

Borders doesn't give an e-mail address, but the form for feedback is here.

Borders Customer Service
100 Phoenix Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108


And now I'm going to go eat lots of chocolate and melt my brain in front of the television so I can be reasonably perky and coherent tomorrow. I'm wavering between an OnDemand movie or rewatching this week's The Office. Sigh.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Home With Writer's Cramp

I had a fun booksigning event last night. It was the meeting of the Central Texas Dark Romance book club, with me as their guest (I guess they're flexible on their parameters of darkness, as I wouldn't call my work dark by any means!). We had some great discussion and chatting, and then I signed a lot of books and ended up hanging out in the store for quite a while -- longer than I realized. I feel like I've moved up in the world yet again, since this time they were given slips of paper to go in their books with the names of who they wanted the books autographed to written on them. Though I think that had more to do with a very considerate and together bookseller than it had to do with me being a star. Still, I take my moments of specialness where I can find them. I left behind a lot of autographed copies of all three books in the series, so if you're in Central Texas and want to be sure of getting an autographed book, go to the Hastings in Round Rock. They also have a big list of a variety of sf, fantasy and other paranormal series, showing the authors, series books, which is the first in the series, etc. That's the kind of bookstore effort I love.

I wrote part of this post this morning, but then couldn't post it from my hotel as they only had dial-up access (horrors!) and I kept getting a busy signal with my ISP. Once I gave up getting online, I ran around Austin signing more books before heading home. Now I'm going to collapse completely for the evening.

If you're in the Austin area and want autographed copies, here's where to look:
Hastings in Round Rock -- all three books, lots and lots of copies
B&N in Round Rock -- one copy Enchanted, Inc. and several copies of Damsel
Borders in north Austin -- all three books
Bookstop on Lamar -- Damsel
B&N at the Arboretum -- Damsel

Other places with autographed copies (so far) include:
Borders at Preston & Royal in Dallas -- all three books
Borders Uptown Dallas -- all three books
B&N at Preston & Royal in Dallas -- Damsel
B&N near North Park -- Damsel
B&N in Tyler -- all three books, lots and lots of copies

Now before I collapse on the sofa, I've got an Out of the Blogosphere book, Pleasures of the Night by Sylvia Day (my seatmate for seeing The Pirate Queen in New York. We sobbed together).

In the Twilight between sleep and consciousness, a battle rages between Dream Guardians and Nightmares. Captain Aidan Cross is a legend, as skilled in fulfilling erotic dreams as he is with the glaive that kills his enemies. Women see Aidan as part of their fantasies...except Lyssa Bates. Lyssa perplexes this immortal seducer because she sees him as he really is. And as he attempts to unravel her secrets the unthinkable occurs: Aidan Cross falls in love. Lyssa has been having the most incredible dreams about a man whose blue eyes hold the promise of decadent pleasures and tempting intimacies. And then he appears on her doorstep! This intoxicating stranger is just as irresistible as the man of her dreams...but with her surrender there is also grave danger because Aidan is on a mission, and the passion that consumes them body and soul could have dire consequences. Loving the mortal woman prophesied to destroy Aidan's world is not only is forbidden.

For more info, check out the Dream Guardians web site.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Jennifer O'Connell

I'm about to head to Round Rock for the booksigning tonight (7 p.m. at Hastings on IH-35!), and I'm not sure whether to take my car or build an ark after the amount of rain we had last night. Too bad I don't have a life vest to throw in the back seat.

I leave you with this entry on the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit (gee, a blog post that isn't all me, me, me, book, book, book, me, me, MEEEEEE!). My guest is Jennifer O'Connell, author of Insider Dating (you may recall her as the author of Bachelorette #1, Off the Record and Dress Rehearsal).

Abby Dunn, barely past thirty and still reeling from her divorce, has taken herself off the dating market. Instead, she’s using her experience to turn the tables on the opposite sex by building a database to rank underperforming men and set women straight when investing their greatest asset: themselves.

Now, what started as a pet project is becoming a full-time enterprise. But while Abby’s busy hedging bets, someone is skewing her data and threatening to ruin her business. Abby is about to find out that sometimes even the savviest market wizards can be headed for a crash.

While it may be perfectly legal, nothing good can come from insider dating.

Now, the interview:
What was the inspiration behind this book?
One summer afternoon I was out on our deck, flipping through People magazine. One of those blow-ins for the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes fell onto my lap and I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a clearinghouse for men." The idea for INSIDER DATING came immediately, that a woman could create a sort of clearinghouse that allowed women to share information in a members-only club.

Do you have any real-life exes who could go in the bad-date database (names can be changed to protect the guilty, but a few juicy details would be fun)?
Not so much in a bad-date database but more like an undesirable boyfriend database. I had a boyfriend who loved to fight, especially after a few drinks. I'm talking he'd throw punches with anyone. Another boyfriend enjoyed his porn, to the point where he taped pictures to his dorm room wall. You'd think I'd have seen the signs right? Especially when they're wearing a red g-string and staring me in the face every time I sit on his bed.

(I guess most of my Mr. Wrongs never made it to boyfriend status, so I'd need the bad-date database.)

Since you're also the editor of the upcoming Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl, I Learned From Judy Blume, do you have a particular "Judy Blume moment" from your youth that you're willing to discuss publicly?
Actually, my essay was all about Judy Blume moments. They aren't these big pivotal moments, they were just really stupid things-a nightgown I owned, or watching my mother put on makeup as a kid. They're moments that, when they're happening, you don't really recognize how significant they are, and it's only afterwards that you realize that those were the things that make you the person you become.

What are you working on now?
I just sold a new teen series to Pocket/MTV. It takes place on Martha's Vineyard, where the island transforms during the summer with rich teen socialites and the local girls are reminded there are two types of people - the ones who get to leave at summer's end, and the ones who are left behind.

For more info about Jennifer and her book, visit her web site. To buy the book from Amazon, go here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hitting the Chocolate Stash

We continued our streak of stormy weather with a huge thunderstorm at 2 a.m. That's the kind of thing that brings you wide awake in the middle of the night. The lightning was right on top of me, so I got up to run around and unplug all my electronics (after my parents' house was struck by lightning and everything got fried, I don't take chances). As a result, I've been groggy all day. There were still more storms out to the west, so it looks like yet again my viewing of House will be interrupted with weather alerts and exciting live shots of reporters standing in the rain (in case we don't realize what rain looks like).

I may be digging into my chocolate stash tonight. I decided to give the car a road test to make sure it really was fixed yesterday, so I figured I might as well take the highway to the mall to check on my book at the Books-a-Million. All they had was one copy of Once Upon Stilettos. How very sad. Fortunately, Ann Taylor Loft was having a sale, so I got a couple of cute tops and feel a little better. I'm telling myself that they must have sold out already and the re-order hasn't come in yet.

For those who like e-books, it looks like Damsel is now available in e-book format. It's at Fictionwise and at (and woo hoo, I'm on the top 50 at eReader!).

It looks like Monday will be Decision Day on book 5, so keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer or two, light candles, or do whatever it is you do to influence the universe. Or, you know, you could buy books or get people to buy books so when they pull the numbers they'll see that there could be a profit for them in this.

And now I need to do more laundry and otherwise work to get ready to head to Round Rock for my Austin-area signing tomorrow.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Calm Between Storms

I'm back at home after a weekend booksigning adventure. The Tyler signing was fun, with a lot of existing fans plus getting to talk to some people who just happened to be in the store and who ended up buying the first book. I felt kind of like a pusher because it seems like anyone who reads the first one will end up coming back for more. All part of my evil scheme.

I forgot to mention about the Dallas signing that for the very first time I had the bookstore person there to open the books and hand them to me already open to the page to sign on. I felt like such a star because that's treatment I've seen in the past for bestsellers. Now I just need to graduate to the point where they give out tickets for your spot in line and make you write your name on a Post-it note so I'll know who to sign to (which would really make life easier for me so I don't find myself saying to someone, "I know I know you, but I'm drawing a complete blank on your name."). The Fresh Fiction gang showed up for my Dallas signing and took photos, which you can see here.

And now I have two days of relative peace and quiet before I go do it all again. I know I have a backlog of e-mails to answer because my Internet access is sketchy away from home. If I "borrow" Wi-Fi from my parents' neighbors, it won't let me send e-mail except through the webmail interface, which I hate because then that messes up the way I sort and manage e-mail in my e-mail software. But if I use dial-up it holds up my parents' phone line and is slow. As a result, I have even more e-mail in the in-box than usual.

Because of the distribution issues in getting the new book, I've decided to extend the Great Blog Campaign another week. That way, all of you who had trouble getting the book still have time to write about it, and we can keep getting info out there, but now maybe people who read about it will be able to find the book. Remember to send me a link if you write about it so I can get you in the file for winning an early copy of book 4. I'm still taking requests for interviews or guest blogs, but as I am currently insane I can't guarantee the timeliness of my response.

There are a couple more GCC entries about me that I haven't posted. Laurie Stolarz has a little quiz with me. And Ellen Meister has my fantasy casting ideas with some absolutely perfect photos (I may have to steal them for my mental files).

If you've done something for the Great Blog Campaign and I haven't linked it here (unless it's unlinkable and you've sent me e-mail about it), you need to let me know because I will probably be choosing winners by going back to my blog entries and looking at links.

This week's booksignings are in Round Rock (just north of Austin) on Wednesday night and Fort Worth on Saturday.

I realized while heading out on my road trip just what a retro kind of dork I really am. I had the radio on and a song came on that made me turn up the radio and start jamming along. The song? "In the Mood" by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. My favorite radio station is the big band/standards station (or as I sometimes refer to it, "Music for People Who Remember WWII"), which means I'm rather out of touch with anything current. That station is having an event this weekend I kind of want to go to, even though I know I'll definitely be the odd one out. It's an Armed Forces Day dance at the flight museum, among the vintage aircraft, with a big band and dancing. It's possible I'd be the youngest person there and the only one without a date, but I guess it still could be fun. I'll have to decide in time to make a reservation. Though there's also a chance that after a booksigning and with everything else that's going on I'll want to spend that evening on the sofa, hiding from the world for a while.

Now I need to go have a chat with the auto repair place about why my car handled worse after they balanced my tires. It's rather difficult to drive across Texas when you can't go over 60 mph without the steering wheel practically vibrating out of your hands.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Bookstore Insider Info

I had the first booksigning for Damsel Under Stress last night. Because, of course, things can never go smooth, just before I had to leave the house, a HUGE storm hit. Not as huge as the night before, so no hurricane-force winds, tornadoes or lightning, but really, really heavy rain. I hate driving in the best of circumstances, and especially in rain. In fact, in rain like that, I wouldn't have left the house to meet my own favorite author. But the storm turned out to be small, geographically speaking, and soon I was out on the other side. By the time I got to the bookstore, the sun was coming out and there was a giant rainbow arcing across the whole sky. It also turned out to be the night of a big Dallas Mavericks playoff game. I don't know what kind of fanbase crossover I have, but a lot of people in the area were pretty excited about it.

Still, there were people there! And while a lot of them were what I call preexisting friends (as in, from before the publication of Enchanted, Inc.), a lot of them were readers I'd met at previous signings or online. There were even enough people there to do a little talk and reading for, a first for me. A few people showed up because they'd read about it in the newspaper (including a couple of ladies who seemed to be under the impression that this was a book club and were disappointed to find out it was all about me. Odd.). On the way home, I dropped by the other B-word bookstore nearby and signed their stock, which then prompted the guy working there to put the books front and center on a table instead of spine-out in the back the way they were. I think my killer red dress with a deep cleavage helped there. I may have to hit a lot more stores to guarantee good placement like that. :-) Too bad I don't own too many things with a deep cleavage (and I think the majority of booksellers I run into are women, so that may not help much).

I learned from talking to the Borders staff that we need to be patient with the stores that didn't have the books on the shelf right away. They get in about a thousand books at a time in one big mass, so it's not like they can rush to the back and open the box that says the book's title on it. Then all of those books have to be processed before they can be put on the shelves. However, if you don't find the book you're looking for on the shelf, do ask for it and let them special order it for you if they're not planning to stock it. Although the individual stores don't get a lot of say in the initial order, which comes from the corporate level, if they get a certain number of special orders in a store, it will trigger the system to order copies of that title to be stocked in the store, and if the store staff become aware that there is demand for a particular book, then they can get into the system and manually order books for their store. And if enough stores in a chain do that, then I guess the person making the initial decision will look all manner of stupid. At least, in my fantasies they will (in my fantasies there may even be ritual suicides in shame, but that never happened to Fox executives, so I guess my wishes don't come true).

Now for more Great Blog Campaign stuff. Here's an interview with Katie Chandler.

Then on the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, I chat with Tanya Lee Stone. I geek out about musical theater with E. Lockhart. And I talk writing with Kelly Parra. (I've had more stops on this tour, but I'm only sharing the ones with unique content that y'all might find interesting, since the tour isn't really designed for the same people to read all the blogs, but rather to spread the word broadly among a lot of different people.)

I'm about to head off to East Texas for the next leg of the book tour. For this stop, I get luxury accommodations at a nice little bed and breakfast where I get pampered like a member of the family (in other words, my parents' house). Booksigning Saturday at 2 in Tyler at the B&N!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Horror!

I've had some scary experiences in the past 24 hours or so. It all started yesterday afternoon, when I was watching the noon news on TV. Just as the newscast ended, suddenly the Teletubbies took over my TV. Instead of the dramatic closing newscast music, there was this happy la la la kind of stuff and then these freaks with high-pitched voices started dancing all over the screen. I looked, and instead of my cable box showing a channel number, it had a weird code. I grabbed the remote to turn it back to the channel I was on, but it was still Teletubbies. I tried clicking up and down channels, and it would show those channels for a split second before jumping over to the Teletubbies. I'm sure they were here to convey a message from their Evil Overlord, but I wasn't taking any chances, so I turned the TV off in a panic. It was truly awful!!! (What happened was that suddenly every channel was showing PBS. that's somehow a default whenever something happens to the cable signal, but it usually doesn't last that long.)

Fortunately, we got a wall of terribly severe thunderstorms with hurricane force winds blowing through last night to help erase the Teletubbies and give me something else to have nightmares about.

And then this morning on my way back from the career day I decided to drop by the neighborhood B&N to visit my book. And they had one copy. Shelved spine out in general fiction. In the past, they've always had stacks of my new books on the "new fiction" table. It was so depressing. Combined with the reports about stores where people who've bought books in the past not carrying this one, it's very discouraging. I'm trying not to panic. So, tell me more good stories about books selling out in one day or seeing stacks of books (rapidly diminishing, I hope!) in the front of stores. And keep on pushing it, even though it looks like it will take more work, as people won't be able to just stumble over books in stores. The decision about book five will probably be made next week.

On a brighter note, there was a nice article about me in the Dallas Morning News today. And I had a great time at the career day. Those kids were really cool and asked some good questions.

Now, a couple of little notes based on feedback I'm getting about this book. Yes, there is another book in the series. It's already written. I planned these two books as kind of a two-parter, so the story is definitely not over, and really, these people do have to go through some stuff in order to really get what they deserve at the end. I can't make it too easy for them, or it would be a boring book. My original plan was for this to be a holiday season book, with the next book coming out, well, around now, but the publishing schedule didn't work out that way. The main characters will be back, just in a slightly different setting (vaguing that up so as not to spoil it for those who haven't read Damsel yet, but those who have read it will probably get the hint).

Great Blog Campaign update: See short interviews with a lot of secondary characters.

And on the GCC, I answer three questions at Joshilyn Jackson's blog.

Remember the booksigning tonight in Dallas! 7 at the Borders at Preston and Royal. If there's a critical mass of people there (like someone who doesn't work at the store), then I'll do a short talk, maybe a Q&A and a reading before the signing, so if you want to see that, get to the store at 7.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Books on the Shelves, and a Book Report

A big virtual hug to all of y'all! I'm so impressed with what you're managing to do with this blog promo thing. And to prove that the world really is very small, one of the Out of the Blogosphere entries about my book mentioned one of the GBC interviews. The word is definitely out. Too bad we can't say the same for the book itself. It appears that there's a distribution glitch with Barnes & Noble, so the books aren't yet in stores and instead are in a warehouse somewhere.

Okay, Firefly fans, all together now: "It never goes smooth. How come it never goes smooth?" Then again, I'm not sure I have the coping skills for "smooth."

All I can say is keep asking at the stores so they'll know they need to get the books on the shelves pronto when/if they ever get them in, and it does seem like the other stores whose names start with "B" are getting them out there (and in some cases, selling out). I just did an inventory search for B&N and they're saying it's in stock at my local stores, so maybe it's all better now. Plus, my B&N ranking is currently 212, which is higher than I've ever gone before. I'm sure your efforts have a big part in that, so thank you ever so much. Really!

Now, for the latest blog promos: You can read about my up-and-down, crazy writing career. Meanwhile, Sam has some things to say about life and love. And, you can get my opinions on Harry Potter, including who might win in a Mimi vs. Umbridge death match (and I may have to block that forum from my computer if I want to get any work at all done this summer. Soooo tempting .... Must. Discuss. Harry Potter. AAACK!)

And some more GCC stops: Amanda Ashby, the China Dolls blog, Paula Chase, and a scary photo of my office at Nichelle Tramble's blog. I should point out that this photo is several years old and does not incorporate the recent cleaning frenzy.

In other news, even I've become tired of all this "Me! Me! It's all about Meeeeee!" stuff, so I'm going to talk some about books by other people. I've got a couple of very different ones. First, there's Fly Me to the Moon by Alyson Noel, a chick lit novel about the life of a flight attendant. Alyson herself is a former flight attendant, and she swears that she's not making it up, that this is a fairly accurate representation of that life, with all its ups and downs (and I'm not talking about the takeoffs and landings). You'll certainly look at the flight attendants on your next flight in a new way, and you may have an urge to travel after reading this book. Oddly, even though the book stripped away a lot of the glamour of the job, it made me kind of want to do it. The free travel perks may have had something to do with that. Then there's Stolen Magic by MJ Putney -- aka Mary Jo Putney, who made a move from historical romance into fantasy with this book. It's a very romantic fantasy set in Georgian England (which is kind of a fresh fantasy setting), about a secret society of sorcerers who work to protect England. Unfortunately, there's a bad egg in the bunch, and he's out to get the man responsible for enforcing the magical law. I loved the hero of this book (the fact that he's named Simon may have helped there), and it was the kind of love story where you really felt they deserved each other in a good way because she was smart and capable, too. (And I'm not just saying this because Mary Jo has been a huge supporter of my work, giving me cover blurbs and shout outs all the time.)

Tomorrow morning I'm speaking at a career day at a nearby junior high, which should be fun. It would have been beyond my wildest dreams to have had a real, live author show up at a school career day when I was a kid. And then don't forget, those of you in the Dallas area, I've got a booksigning Thursday night at 7 at the Borders at Preston and Royal (and they do show up as having the book in stock. Yay!). I guess since the area stores have books in stock now, I should go out and visit them to sign what they have in stock, but I kind of just want to hang around the house in my "The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth" t-shirt, maybe go to the library to return books. Tomorrow can be my public day.