Friday, September 30, 2005
Should I or Shouldn't I?
Before I published I used to see authors at bookstores sitting behind tables with a stack of books to sign and no one in line to receive them. I would think to myself what an awful feeling that must be and if I were them, what would I do to make sure that didn't happen?
And that's when I came up with my "grand idea." I had been to enough reenactment festivals to know that your average, everyday, normal person is fascinated by someone in period costume. Be they a musketeer, a pilgrim, a Native American, a southern belle--it didn't matter. Folks gravitated to them like nobody's business.
So ... when I agreed to do a signing at Barnes & Noble, I thought ... what if no one comes? What I sit there behind that table looking lonely and forlorn?
So, I called my best friend from high school. The one I used to call every night to coordinate what I would wear to school the next day. (She'd wear black slacks, white shirt and I'd wear white slacks, black shirt, and so on. We'd coordinate right down to the color pattern of our plastic bracelets.)
Anyhoo, she's a seamstress extraordinaire (she made all the shirts the guys in my book trailer wore) and I handed her a pattern of a period costume and said, "Can you make this into a period wedding gown?"
She, of course, said she could. And then did. You should see it. It is amazing. Ivory satin, fancy stitching on the underskirt, poofy sheer sleeves (also with decorative stitching), a crinoline to rival anything whats-her-name wore in Gone With the Wind.
I was so excited. So impressed. I felt like a princess when I put it on. But now, tonight is the night of the signing and I'm thinking: How will I drive in that crinoline? How will I get from the parking lot to the B&N? What if I get there in my fancy-schmancy duds and still sit behind some table with a pile of books and no one to receive them? What if the Event Coordinator looks at me and is horrified? (She doesn't know I'm coming in costume.)
It basically all boils down to this: What if I make a total and complete fool of myself?
I put the gown on again and walked into our living room where the teenage girls were--one of whom is a theatre buff and asked for a Renaissance costume for Christmas so she could go in costume to our local Reniassance Fair. (It's the same gown "Constance" wore in my book trailer.)
The girls were both immediately taken with my gown and asked what on earth I was doing with it.
"I'm going to sign my books in it. You know, to attract a crowd."
The eighteen year peered closely into my eyes. "Are you, like, serious?"
Eyebrows lift. Lips try to break into a surprised laugh, but she forcibly controls them. Eyes dilate. Face turns completely and totally red. "Oh. Well. That should really be something."
She looks at her younger sister who makes no effort whatsoever to mask her horror. "Tell me you're joking. Please. Tell me you are not going to walk into our Barnes & Noble like that."
My heart rate accelerates. My nerves shoot tingly warnings of danger up and down my arms and legs. I go back to my room, take off the dress and think, Should I or shouldn't I?
The signing's tonight at 6:30. At the moment, I am planning on wearing it. But I'm scared. Really scared. What do you think?
posted by Deeanne at 11:21 AM
Thursday, September 29, 2005
We're getting a cold front in today! After record-breaking heat this month of September (with temps above 100 degrees and the heat index even higher), we are cooling down to the eighties.
The high for today is a whopping 84 degrees and by suppertime it is supposed to be 74 degrees. Imagine that. I'll actually get to sit on my porch and swing a while. Glory hallelujah!
What's going on in your neck of the woods?
This month's contest closes tomorrow at midnight. And be sure to read the Christian Crime Drama we are discussing on October 19 - 21.
posted by Deeanne at 9:38 AM
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Sorry I'm so late in posting. We are experiencing what the electric company is referring to as "Rolling Blackouts." Basically, they aren't yet able to provide everybody with power all of the time, so we are sharing.
We'll have power for a while, then the next neighborhood over will have it for a while, and then the next one and so on until they get back to us again. And unfortunately, there is no schedule. So one minute we have power, then next, nada. And we never know how long we'll be without and how long we'll be with.
So, with such a limited amount of time online, I am scrambling to answer emails and conduct what business I can before being bumped off the system. This is supposed to go on for weeks, maybe months. But at least we have some power!!
I'll try to have my posts written one day in advance, so I can copy and paste as soon as I have power. But if I'm posting late or not participating in the "comments" section as often as I usually do, it will probably be because I don't have access.
Remember: Book Discussion on October 19. And midnight on Friday is the last chance for entering this month's contest.
posted by Deeanne at 3:03 PM
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I'm back and all is well. The roads were so crowded, I ended up getting on an airplane and flying up to Virginia where I have some relatives. They graciously took us in while we waited out the storm and its aftermath.
When I left, Rita was Category 5 and heading straight for Houston. Landfall was well east of us and with a Category 2 status. The house is fine. No broken windows, no fallen trees, no water inside. Power is still intermittent, but we have electricity more than we don't.
So ... prayers for those who are still without power, those who are still trying to get home, those who took the direct hit and those in charge of recovery efforts.
Thanks to those of you who held us in your thoughts and prayers. Blessings upon you.
posted by Deeanne at 9:45 AM
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Because of Hurricane Rita, and because I am from Houston, I will be unable to blog for a while. I'll be back as soon as I can.
posted by Deeanne at 9:31 AM
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Book Discussion Dates
Okay. We talked earlier in the summer about doing a book discussion on Chris Well's Christian Crime Drama, Forgiving Solomon Long. I'm thinking of a 3-day discussion where I'll post a few questions each day and we'll discuss them. Then we'll wrap the whole thing up by inviting Chris Well himself to be my guest blogger of the day and you can pepper him with all the questions you want. How does that sound?
Let's set the discussion date for:
Wednesday, October 19
Hope you'll join us!
posted by Deeanne at 8:53 AM
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
January to June
Yesterday we talked about what happens to my manuscript when I initially send it to my publisher. Today, we'll talk about what happens once the edits are done and the sales conference is over.
On the marketing side of things, the folks in charge of ads really put it in gear. Placing advertisements in magazines require several months lead time. So, they decide what market they want to reach, what magazines best reach that market, how big an ad they want to place, etc. The graphics department has to do a lay-out. It might be an ad of just my book or it might include several Bethany House releases. The internet manager is surfing the web trying to make the same kind of decisions.
The art department works on the back cover design and the design of the book's inside (the swirlies at the beginning of each chapter, what font will be used for the book, what font will be used for the headers, etc). Production puts together a timeline of what has to happen in order to meet our release date. ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are generated. These are unadorned, bound copies of the manuscript that are sent to reviewers across the country to give them time to read the book and review it before it releases. They are also sent to retailers who like to read the ARCs before placing an order for their stores.
The sales force continues to meet with buyers of major chains to generate orders. The editorial department sends the manuscript to a "copy editor" who reads the manuscript for careless errors (ie: If a character starts out with blue eyes, does he end up with blue eyes? Are there spelling or grammar errors? Is there a "pet phrase" the author uses a bazillion times that becomes distracting?).
Once that is done, it goes to typesetting and they lay out the book. This is called a "galley." They print it out on 8x10 pieces of paper and send it to proofreaders for one last check. They also send it to the author for a final check. This is my last chance to make any changes and the changes are not suppose to be major. You're looking for typographical kinds of things. And since no one knows the manuscript like the author does, it is always wise to let them have a look-see before it goes to final print.
Once the galley's have been approved by the author and the proofreaders, production cranks it up a notch and off to the press they go. Production's "due date" is about a month before the author's actual "release date." This is because it takes about a month for the books to be boxed, shipped, distributed and shelved. So, if Lady's release date is June 1st, then production has to have it on the truck by May 1st. (That's why some stores have books before the actual release date. All depends on when they receive their shipment and how long it takes them to get it from the back room to the store shelf. But by the official "release" date, it should be everywhere.)
Now the publicity department takes over. They promote the book and author through all media outlets--everything from signings in your local store to an appearance on Oprah. Some publishers do more than others. Many leave the lion's share of the advertising and promotion up to the author to pursue (and pay for). Bethany House does a TON for their authors.
This is really nice because as it happens, the author is trying to finish up the manuscript that is due to release the following year. In other words, Bride's release date was July 1st. My manuscript for Lady was due into the publisher August 31. So, right before "finals" as it were, I'm running around doing lots and lots of promotion. When the publisher is willing to schedule all that stuff for you, it leaves you a lot more time to do what you do best ... write the next novel.
Believe it or not, I've left out a ton of steps. The team work on a project like this is overwhelming when you think about it. So, I don't think about it. I just try to do my little piece to the best of my ability.
Tomorrow we'll set some firm dates for our upcoming book discussion of Chris Well's Forgiving Solomon Long.
posted by Deeanne at 11:50 AM
Monday, September 19, 2005
Now that book #2 (The Measure of a Lady) is finished and off to the publisher, y'all have asked what happens to it between now and when she is released in June?
Lots and lots. To start with, let's talk about what happens up through December.
On the marketing side of things, the very first priority is to get her a title and a cover. The title we now have, the cover is in the makings. Once that happens, BHP will put it in their winter sales catalog. This is a catalog that goes to the book store owners/retailers during the winter months because many of them order their summer stock in December.
There is also a big sales conference the publishers go to in December where they showcase their upcoming releases. So, posters and promo materials need to be prepared. And for that, you need a title, a cover and a "blurb."
Meanwhile, editorial reads and passes around my manuscript. They discuss what works, what doesn't and what kind of changes would make it stronger. Then, my editor sends me an "editorial review" that outlines those changes. These usually deal with big, broad issues (like: don't kill the dog, get rid of all the swear words, set the story up at the beginning a little more thoroughly, things like that). Once I do that and send it back, the editor does a "line-by-line."
This is where my editor reads each and every line in the manuscript and makes specific suggestions. (like: this wording is awkward, this part is unclear, this isn't realistic, this description isn't consistent with the one you have earlier, etc.). I try to turn in "clean" manuscripts that don't require a lot of line edits, but every manuscript has them. It's the nature of the beast.
We'll cover January to June tomorrow.
Don't forget to enter our contest!
posted by Deeanne at 11:34 AM
Friday, September 16, 2005
Most Anything Sweet
One of the things I hated most about working was wearing uncomfortable clothing. Particularly panty hose. Man, do I hate those things. It was "required attire" back in the day. I understand that the professional world is relaxing some these days.
One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is the required attire. I get to choose it. Yesterday, I wore flannels and bugs bunny slippers. Today, I'm wearing camo pants, a t-shirt and bugs bunny slippers. Tomorrow ... who knows?
The other great part of the job is snack time. No official lunch breaks for this girl. As a result, my eating habits are not what they should be. I eat when I get hungry. If I'm on a roll and don't want to mess up my groove I make a quick commute to the pantry. Ding Dongs are my "go to" snack if available. If we're out, most anything sweet will do.
If I'm not on a roll and don't have any groove whatsoever, I make a quick commute to the pantry. Ding Dongs are my "go to" snack if available. You're beginning to get the picture, eh? Yesterday I had Starbucks for breakfast, oatmeal cookies for lunch and chips & dip for dinner. (We're out of Ding Dongs.)
With the teens coming and going at all hours, we keep dinner on the warming trays from 4:00pm to 10:00pm. Between everybody's work schedule and extra curricular schedules, the family sit-down dinners are a thing of the past.
I do work out at the gym and usually eat a decent dinner. But during the day, I'm not too disciplined. What about you?
posted by Deeanne at 10:15 AM
Thursday, September 15, 2005
An Algorithmic Chick
Y'all were asking:
Where did the idea to make Constance a math brain come from? Are you an algorithmic chick?
No, I am math-challenged. But in my research for Bride I stumbled across the The Lady's Mathematical Diary and when I read the forward where the editor said females had "as clear judgments, as sprightly quick wit, as penetrating genius and as discerning and sagacious facilities as their male counterparts," I just cracked up and decided then and there I had to incorporate it somehow.
I think it also makes the characters a little more 3-dimensional to give them a few idiosyncrasies. In next June's book our heroine is an entomologist--or in layman's terms, she collects and studies bugs.
Don't forget to enter our contest!
posted by Deeanne at 1:39 PM
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The Measure of a Lady
Book #2 is scheduled to release in June 2006. It's title:
The Measure of a Lady
The back cover "blurb" isn't written yet. That usually gets written by a person in the marketing department. But one of my editors used to work in marketing and one of his responsibilities was writing back cover copy. So, he wrote the back cover copy for Bride and he will do the same for Lady.
Until then, here's my "blurb":
The real one will be much better, but that gives you a "sneak peek" anyway.
In 1849 California there were no respectable women. The forty-niner was lonesome for this crinolined creature, yet he knew when she arrived his hell-raising, gambling and shooting-iron saloon life would end and in its place would be promenades, lending libraries and church socials.
Gold fever took widower Jacob Van Buren and his three children to the shores of San Francisco, but Van Buren died before ever seeing the elephant--leaving his three children orphaned. Rachel Van Buren, the eldest of the three, puts on her sunbonnet, squares her shoulders, and rises to the challenge of civilizing if not San Francisco, then at the very least, the saloon owner next door.
Don't forget to enter our contest!
posted by Deeanne at 1:36 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Well, next summer's book has just received a new and improved title. Many of you may not realize it, but authors don't get to pick their book titles or their book covers. We just write it. The publisher does everything else.
The reason for this is that the marketing department knows what sells and the author doesn't (though many of us think we do). So, we authors have what we call "working titles." Those are the titles we make up ourselves and use when referring to the manuscript while it is a work in progress. After it is finished and turned in to the publisher, they read it and come up with the "real" title.
The working title for A Bride Most Begrudging was Tobacco Bride. The marketing department said that using the word "tobacco" in a Christian title was probably not the greatest idea. Thus the new and improved title.
The working title for next June's book was Sunbonnet Woman. (What my publisher referred to as a "hoo-hum" title and I tend to agree.) So, the new and improved title for my June release is ... [insert drum roll] ...
THE MEASURE OF A LADY
I like it. I'll tell you why tomorrow.
posted by Deeanne at 11:58 AM
Thursday, September 08, 2005
So Far, So Good
Menu Item: "How Has Bride Been Received By the Christian Industry?"
After I sold Bride to Bethany House, the Lord lifted my reading "ban" (click here for details), which was really sweet. I do indulge myself every once in a while, but not often. I'm too busy peddling chore systems and researching and writing novels and trying out new CBA authors.
To date the response from both readers and reviewers has been overwhelmingly positive. I've only had two reviews that questioned my content. Everyone else has been very gracious. (Click here to see reviews.)
As for the readers, so far I've only heard from folks that liked Bride. No negative mail so far. And if sales numbers means anything, we are pretty excited about those. (Click here for details.)
Thus concludes our "Journey to Publication" along with the special features from our Menu. Thanks for riding along with me.
I'm out of town tomorrow, so I will see you Monday!
posted by Deeanne at 12:11 PM
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I need to sidetrack from our Journey or Menu or whatever it is we are finishing up, because ... I need some help. I have a broadcast interview coming up and it is standard procedure for the person being interviewed to offer sample questions. They want to discuss "edgy inspirational."
I'm in a bit of a panic because everytime I discuss this topic, I ruffle feathers (mostly the feathers of my colleagues). So ... if you were listening/watching this interview, what kind of questions would you want asked??
I'll go first. "What is edgy inspirational?"
Okay. Your turn.
Naw, I'm just joking. I could come up with a few more. But what I'd really like to do is steer the conversation to edgy romance, because edgy inspirational is really, really broad and I believe there are several authors writing it--especially in the contemporary category.
Here are a couple of other questions I thought of:
Now, I have one for you:
- How many Christians are in America today? (approx. 60 million)
- Of that number, how many read inspirationals? (approx. 10%)
- What are the other 54 million reading? Why aren't they reading inspirationals?
Okay, let's brainstorm. I have to come up with at least ten questions. So, after you answer the above question, offer me a few others that you think would be good.
- What authors in the inspirational market would you consider "edgy." (I'll go first: Lisa Samson.)
Also, don't forget to enter our contest!
posted by Deeanne at 9:39 AM
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
For Some Reason ...
Part V of "What Made You Switch From General Market to Inspirational?"
This is where the stories start blending together. Rather than rewrite my earlier post, click here for the skinny on how Bride found its way from my shelf and into the hands of a Christian publisher.
The part of the story I left out of my earlier post is this: I never used to read that particular trade magazine. I was so busy with work, it would go straight from the mailroom to the trash can. Except for that one day in April when the magazine came across my desk and "for some reason" (this is what I refer to as a "God thing"), I opened it up and started flipping through the pages one by one.
The title of the article "Fiction on the Edge" took up HALF the page. So, no way could I miss it.
I now faithly read that magazine cover-to-cover every single month.
"And now you know ... the rest of the story." --Paul Harvey
Tomorrow we will address our last (but not least) Menu selection. "How Has Bride Been Received By the Christian Industry?"
posted by Deeanne at 3:38 PM
Friday, September 02, 2005
I Had Pretty Much Given Up
Part IV of "What Made You Switch From General Market to Inspirational?"
At the end of Part III, I had pretty much given up on reading most anything, especially inspirational. So I read my Bible, grew in the Lord, ran my corporation and scrapbooked on the side (for fun).
Then one day, I found myself in a bookstore with no where to go. So, I wandered down the inspirational aisle one more time. I can't remember whose book I picked up, but I remember enjoying it. So, I tried another and yet another. And just like any aisle in any genre of any bookstore, some were good and some were not so good. But at least, I was reading in the genre I loved and not obsessing over it.
While in the midst of being a corporate executive (and absolutely loathing it), my creative side screamed for release. And I thought to myself, "I wonder if I could clean up Bride enough to make it suitable for the Christian market? What do you think, Lord?" He gave me the nod.
So, I pulled Bride from the shelf, dusted it off and proceeded to revise it with the Christian market in mind--but without jeopardizing its integrity. When I was all through, I had a manuscript that was too tame for the general market and too risqué for the Christian market. Essentially, I had a manuscript no one would want.
So, I returned it to the shelf and went back to the corporate world.
Tomorrow, how Bride found its way from my shelf and into the hands of a Christian publisher.
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posted by Deeanne at 11:56 AM
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Part III of "What Made You Switch From General Market to Inspirational?"
At the close of Part II, I had just disposed of my entire romance novel collection. Not because there was anything wrong with romance novels, but because there was something wrong with my insatiable thirst for them.
For weeks, months I felt as if I'd been picked up and dropped in the middle of a desert. I didn't know what to do. For a while, I didn't read at all. Then, I picked up a who-done-it or an adventure story or a legal thriller. I'd read a few pages, put it down and not pick it up again for over a week.
At one point, I decided I might try inspirational romance. Surely that would be okay. And this is where I always get myself into trouble. I cannot seem to share this part of my testimony without highly offending several folks in the inspirational industry. But to leave it out, would not be honest.
So, here we go and [insert prayer] Lord, please help me formulate these words and let them glorify You and lift up Your Body. Amen.
I honestly cannot tell you what three inspirational romances I tried. I truly have absolutely no idea. All I know is, they did not appeal to me. At all. I felt like I'd had a diet soda--they left out all the good parts. You know what I mean?
Not only that, but instead of feeling uplifted, I felt terribly depressed. The female leads of these particular books in their worst hour were better than me in my finest hour. Had I been in the situation that they were in, I would have reacted much, much differently. These women were way more godly than I was.
Am I proud of that? No. Am I trying to wave some kind of banner saying, "Look at me, look at me, I'm a naughty, naughty sinner!" Of course not. I'm terribly ashamed. And I'm so very sorry I was not inspired. I would have loved to have been. But I wasn't.
So, for the following year, I didn't so much as venture in the vicinity of the inspirational aisle of the bookstore. Because the books were flawed? NO!!! Because I was flawed.
Do you know what is interesting, though? The only book I truly enjoyed reading was ... the Bible. Imagine that.
Tomorrow ... how in the world, after all that, did I become an inspirational romance author?
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posted by Deeanne at 11:21 AM
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