Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Book Trailer For "The Vampire Shrink"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pamela Kinney: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

I have a happy story: The day I received my traditional small press advanced copy of Haunted Richmond, Virginia.

It was in May, about a week till Memorial Day and I went outside, stepping onto my front porch. Now UPS has a habit of leaving anything sent by UPS to us on the porch after only one knock. I looked to my left and saw a box there from my publisher, Schiffer Books. I thought at the time it must be the promo items I had asked them to send for a convention I worked as Publicity Director for, back in April. I wondered why they were sending the items this late? I went back inside, put the box on the couch and opened it. A bottle of white wine lay there.


Then I spied something wrapped underneath the bottle. I took it out, unwrapped it, and there in my hands was this gorgeous book. I shook and my stomach cramped as excitement filled me. Dear God, it was Haunted Richmond, Virginia! I found a note with it from Dinah Roseberry, my editor, telling me this was my advanced copy and the rest of the books would be at Schiffer's warehouse in 4-6 weeks.

I went crazy. I danced with the book to the computer/sewing room and called my editor. We chatted for over a half hour. Once I got off with her, I called my husband on the cell phone. After that, emailed all my friends. I had been writing a fiction story at the time, but forget it--I wasn't any good working on it or doing anything.

I had published books before, but none were by a traditional publisher who would get my book into Barnes and Noble and Borders. I had entered the ranks of those before me and the shock roared through my system for two days before I finally calmed down enough to go back and write. But before that happened I carried that book everywhere. My husband said I was like a kid with a new toy.

It was glorious, the most awe-inspiring thing I ever felt. My dream I had since I was a kid was realized.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Jenna Black: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

My story of frustration revolves around the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. For brand new fantasy and science fiction writers, this is the premiere contest to enter. It's run quarterly, and every year an anthology is published of all the stories that placed in the contest. To give you an idea what a big deal winning this contest can be, the first prize each quarter is $1,000. The grand prize winner for the year gets an additional $4,000. And then there's the all-expense-paid trip to L.A. for a week-long writer's workshop. Not to mention additional money for having your story published in the anthology.

As you can see, this is a prize well worth trying for. And I tried for it. Repeatedly. I entered quarter after quarter, year after year. I never even made the semi-finals.

Enter my dear husband. Before he married me, he'd never read science fiction or fantasy, but he was a writer--of humor columns. He helped me edit one of my novels and some of my short stories, and he developed a taste for the genre. So he decided to try to writing some. He sat down to write not knowing if he was going to write a short story, or a novel, or even a screenplay. But he didn't need a plan, he just winged it.

When he was finished, he had a novelette somewhere around 15,000 words. I knew he was thinking of entering it in the Writers of the Future contest, but come on . . . This was his first attempt EVER at fantasy and science fiction. Surely it couldn't be any good.

Then, of course, I read it. And I knew there was going to be trouble. It was good. REALLY good. Funny. Quirky. Original. *Sigh*

I'm sure everyone can guess what happened: he won. First prize. The trip to L.A., the anthology . . . the works.

So what's the silver lining? Well, for one thing, I let my husband live. I thought that was very big of me. For another, he was very, very nice to me for a long time thereafter. (Of course, he might just have been trying to avoid losing any body parts.) And best of all, I did eventually manage to sell some of my own novels (About five years later, but who's counting?)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Linda Jacobs: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

My first novel, Summer of Fire, came out in June of 2005 from Medallion Press. Of all my family who had known I was writing for publication, I had lost my mother in 2002 and my aunt in 2004, leaving only my father. When my author copies came, I signed the first one to my husband and the second to Dad. Dad was already quite ill and never a fiction reader, but he started reading Summer of Fire immediately. "I can't believe how good this is," he said over and over. "Not at all like that stuff you had me read years ago."

My father died on July 11, 2005 without finishing the book. On his last trip to the hospital, he insisted on taking his copy along, though, calling it, "My most prized possession."
When he was laid out in the funeral home parlor, I went in alone with some final gifts. Waiting carefully until, Shirley, the gal from the funeral home, was out of sight, I inserted some family photos into the satin lining of the coffin. Last, I slipped in his copy of Summer of Fire.

Then I went to the bathroom to have a cry. Waited a while until my red eyes were merely pink and returned to the parlor.

Shirley was standing beside the coffin. She turned and I saw the book in her hands. My, God, does she have some kind of poblem with people putting things into coffins?

"Wh . . . where did you get that?" I quavered.

Shirley smiled. "At the bookstore," she said. "Would you autograph it for me?"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Robin Owens: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

I came home from work one evening and waited a while to open my email, until about 8 pm. When I did, I saw a note from my editor that she was going into a cover conference (to discuss the cover art) for the reissue of HeartMate the next morning at 9 and needed ideas before then.

9 am is 7 am my time.

So I spent the evening getting ideas, most particularly heart-shaped amber necklaces. I threw in a silver vase or two, and a few armbands. All of my covers had been "single element" ones with an emerald heart, a sword, a bracelet, a key.

A few months later I opened my snail mail and found the cover for the anthology my novella would be in (What Dreams May Come). I was very familiar with this cover, had seen it before. I took off the top and saw the new one for HeartMate. Breath exploded out of me.

Obviously I was thinking "jewelry" and the art department was brainstorming "gangs." I laughed and laughed.

It's a gorgeous amber and black cover with a man's arm and shoulder -- and tatt -- on the front.
There isn't a tatt in the book.

This is a reissue, I don't get to make changes or write stuff in for the cover (which I've done for most of my books, including the one I'm working on now).

Not only that, but the tatt is a little...odd. It looks like a bald angel with leafy wings holding a heart (or someone said a buttt).

What to do? Not much. Except put up something about the tatt on my website. Now I have a page on my website called "Worlds" where I include things like photos, cut scenes, and character interviews. (

I'd already done a character interview of the hero with the tatt, T'Ash (say that a few times fast). So I went back and asked the guy a few more questions...

Robin: Hey, T'Ash, I didn't know you had a tattoo.

T'Ash: (smirking) You thought you knew everything about me. Ha!

Robin: (in a small voice) ha ha. (clearing her throat) Tell me about your tattoo.

And off we went. (Full interview here: ) It turned out well.

The time that the tatt actually turns up in the book is during a sword fight (gangs) and in the heroine's POV. She is NOT looking at the man's arm.

That's my story and I'll stick to it.

On Writing & Publishing

Carrie Vaughn: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

I do have a funny one. If you find a copy of the ARC of "Kitty and The Midnight Hour," you'll notice that it's a little different than the cover on the final published version. In the final version, there's a lot more skin visible--Kitty's pants ride lower, her shirt laces up in back instead of just being a tank top, and a big ol' tattoo is visible. Apparently, after the ARC came out, the art department got feedback along the lines of "Kitty needs to be a lot sexier." So that's what they did. I call the final version the "20% more skank" version. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lisa Logan: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

My New Pen Name is...Dr. Seuss??? Yet another little entry to file under, "This Could Only Happen To Me."

My first novel, VISIONS, released on Jan. 30 as planned. The listing appeared on sellers with no problem.

Then a Borders employee complained she couldn't find my title.

Curious, I started checking listings. Barnes and Noble had the following interesting take on my title: "VISIONS, authored/illustrated by DR.SEUSS."


Apparently, Dr. Seuss changed genres from children's writing to romantic mystery...fifteen years after his death! Now, I'm as big a fan of Cat in the Hat as any, but figured I couldn't sit by and let this guy take credit for my work.

Enter my publisher, who never had anything like this happen before. They scrambled for weeks to have the error corrected. After all, Dr. Seuss may have great name-brand recognition, but we doubted that would translate well to the romance world.

Incidentally, once the error was fixed another took its place. B&N stores now list VISIONS as a "graphic novel," and my nice little romance sits sandwiched between Batman and Spiderman adaptations. One wonders why stores so desperately want my romance novel to feature full illustrations!

Sonja Foust: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

Ever hear about those funny author career moments?

I believe it's Christina Dodd who has a three-armed heroine on one of her covers. Stuff like this happens more than we'd like to imagine!

My own personal funny author career moment came a couple months ago when "Love In Shadow" finally popped up on FictionWise.

Now, to get the full effect of the humor, go to and type Love In Shadow in the title search box. Now read the very last line of the blurb. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Yep, that's right.

"Lon couldn't possibly love her in spit."

Speaking of spit, I about spit out my Diet Coke when I saw that. For a nanosecond, I debated whether I should be upset or really, really tickled. I went with tickled. After all, I probably couldn't love her in spit either.

Cheryl Norman: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

OK, this isn't deep but it's a true story.

My funny publishing moment came when I got The Call. Helen Rosburg (publisher of Medallion Press) called my house to offer me a contract for RESTORE MY HEART and talked to my husband. I was in the woods on the Suwannee River at a writers' retreat. Cell phone signals were spotty at best. Later that evening after a rather intense brainstorming session, I went into my bedroom and heard a beep, indicating that I'd missed a call. I had numerous messages to call home. After I walked around and finally found a spot where the signal was two bars, I called my hubby and learned that Medallion Press wanted my book. So when I finally got The Call, he took it *LOL*

Sandy Lender: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

My Most Depressing Publishing Moment

There have been so many depressing moments in my publishing career that it's difficult to pick just one, but let's focus on the most recent. Saturday, I had my first official book signing. I'm attaching a picture. Notice the big ol' smile. That's called propaganda. Notice there's no one in the picture with me. That's called the-only-shill-who-has-arrived-is-behind-the-camera.

So what do you do when you have the prime spot next to the front door at Barnes & Noble and you've got the prime time of 2 to 4 p.m. on a Saturday and you've distributed four-color flyers all over town and you've had the owner of your most-frequented cafe handing them out and the store itself handing them out and a notice in the city's daily newspaper and all over the internet get the idea. It's just after 2 and you're staring at the door thinking, "Gee, shouldn't they have customers on a Saturday afternoon? And where are my shills that I invited personally?"

Have you heard this one? "Oh, I can't make it to your book signing because I'll be on a mountain in Colorado." How about this one: "I have a job interview." (On a Saturday. Afternoon.) How about this one: "I'm going to my co-worker's son's high school graduation party." How about this one: "Oh my gosh, I didn't know you were doing a book signing (I had called and e-mailed this person in excess of five times in the past week about the signing) and I'm getting my hair done tomorrow afternoon!" How about this one: "My family's coming into town and I just can't bring a four-year-old into a book store."

So there I stood on a Saturday afternoon dreading the fact that I'd have to stand there looking like an idiot with my stack of books for two hours. Praise God one of my writing friends showed up. (She already owns the book.) And then my publisher came in. Oh, great. I look like a success. Great job signing me!

Here's the silver lining. I can get pushy. And I did. I slapped that Smile of Denial on my face and just started grabbing people when they walked in (and a few did). I ended up selling 15 books. And, yes, that's they way it's supposed to be. You're supposed to sell books to people who don't already know you and have a guilt-reason to buy the book.

But the shills are your support group for your first signing. The friends and family that you invite to your first book signing are the "traffic" to plump up the appearance of your signing. They impress the book store manager so you get invited back for Signing #2, which is where you're supposed to rely on the kindness of strangers. They increase traffic and draw the attention of other customers (read: people you don't know personally). They produce the "lemming effect." It's all planned, you see. But when you don't have those shills there to help you out, you have to create the atmosphere from scratch. It takes guts, folks. Step out of the comfort zone and make eye contact and just reach out and take hold of the customers walking by. Be personable and friendly and engaging. If you don't...

Well, if you don't get personable and friendly and engaging at your book signings, you'll end up with a depressing publishing moment and an empty book signing photo. As I said above, the silver lining in this story is that I didn't let the chirping of crickets at the outset of my signing get me so down that I collapsed. I pulled my chin up and just started grabbing people as they walked in. I handed them bookmarks and pens. I told them they needed to enter the contest to win the sword I was giving away. I just volunteered that this was my first fantasy novel. When one lady told me she was a born-again Christian and only read non-fiction books about the Bible, I didn't even flinch. Fine. I'm a born-again Christian, too, and I'll just take back my book that I've just placed in your hands before it causes you to spontaneously combust and I respect your choice to read only one kind of book from now on. Wow. Who's next in line?

It takes moxie, but we all can do it. That's the silver lining. It's in us all to step into the role of making a good book signing event matter who showed up!

(And I've got pictures with actual people in them at my blog at

Shirley Jump: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

The Art of Perseverance or How to Quit Writing and End up on the Bestseller Lists

Several years ago, I spoke at a writer’s group in Pennsylvania. I was a little daunted. It was the biggest group I’d ever spoken to, and many of the writers there had credentials I could only dream of having. But as I told my story--my journey as a writer--the room got silent. Why? Because everyone in that room, published or not, could relate to the tale I told.

I spoke about quitting, about giving up your dream and throwing it all away in a fit of frustration. I had done that myself, in June of 2001.

And in November of 2006 I had my name on the New York Times list, the USA Today list, my fourteenth book on stands and contracts for several more.

Five years--not a lot of time, but, oh my how things have changed.

Everywhere I go, someone I meet can relate to giving up on a dream. We’ve all had those moments where our dream—whatever it may be—seems unattainable. You work and work, hoping to catch a break and achieve your goals and all you get is slammed doors and a broken heart.

So many of us give up then. I did it. I had written ten romance manuscripts in eight years and been rejected all over New York City. I thought I had a sale on the table in the spring of 2001, but at the last second, it fell through. My agent at the time refused to send my book to Silhouette, saying it would make her look bad (so I sent the book in myself in May). The agent even suggested I give up writing fiction.

That was the last straw for me. If my own agent didn’t believe I could do it, and clearly none of the publishers I’d sent my books to thought I was good enough to be published, then surely I wasn’t. At that time, I had my second non-fiction book coming out in September, I had more than 2000 articles published under my name, but none of it mattered anymore. My dream, ever since I was old enough to read, had been to write fiction. Despite years of work and hundreds of thousands of written words, that dream wasn’t coming true.

I had had enough. Enough rejection. Enough dashed hopes.

The final rejection letter from my then-agent hit me hard. Very hard. At the same time, I found out that Silhouette had lost my manuscript in the myriad of submissions they receive. I took it all as a sign of bad karma and figured I wasn’t meant to write fiction.

That day, June 23, 2001, I threw everything out. Took the how-to books off the shelves, tossed the manuscripts, wiped the hard drive clean and threw out the disks. I packaged my entire writing life into three Hefty garbage bags, then sat down in my office and had myself a damned fine pity party.


Because I had finally given up on myself.

That day, my husband came in and found me. He encouraged me to put everything back, told me I’d someday sell a novel, and tried to get me to write again. But I wouldn’t. In fact, I couldn’t. The spark had gone for me and I figured I was fighting a losing battle anyway.

I spent a good week feeling really miserable. I got caught up on “Montel Williams” and “ER” re-runs and didn’t write a single word.

Then, the following Saturday, a package arrived in the mail. A big package. Priority mail. Clearly, it was the manuscript I’d sent to Silhouette. Since the whole thing had come back, I chalked it up as a rejection and tossed it in the trash unread. My theory (based on hundreds of rejections) was always that they send you a letter to reject you; call if they want to buy.

My husband fished the package out of the trash and started to read the enclosed letter from the senior editor of Silhouette Romance. “Dear Shirley,” it began, “I love this book and would be interested in buying it if you revised...”

I was astounded. The door I had thought was forever closed to me had suddenly opened an inch. Two weeks later, I’d signed with a new agent. Three months later, I sent the revised book in…and just before Christmas of 2001, my new agent called with the news I’d waited all my life to hear.

My book had sold.

The end result of that story, THE VIRGIN’S PROPOSAL, was in bookstores in January 2003 and went on to win the Booksellers’ Best Award, which seemed like poetic justice. Within the next 22 months, I’d sold another eleven books. It amazes me every time I see one of my books. I feel a sense of pride and more than a little disbelief at *my* name on the cover. My signature inside. My words, proudly encased in a gorgeous cover.

I did it. And boy, did it feel good.

Perseverance is a funny thing. I liken it to running, something I hate to do but do because I know it’s good for me. When I first start out, the running is fun and easy. It doesn’t take long before it gets painful and the end seems impossibly far away. But then I hit my stride and the path doesn’t seem as hard.

I have hope that I’ll reach the end, intact and with my lungs still functioning. But then, just before I get there, it gets hard again. Harder than it’s been the entire trip. My body screams at me to stop, to give up before my lungs and heart explode. But I push on, one step at a time, often coaxing myself with every footfall, doing a funny combination of mental motivation and drill instructor talks.

And then it happens. The end is reached, my lungs are clear, and the sense of accomplishment runs through me with an adrenaline rush.

I did it, even when I thought I couldn’t. And tomorrow, I’ll get up and do it again because I know if I can hold on just a little longer, all my dreams will be waiting for me.

I hope that you, too, can press on for your dreams.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's Your Most Funny, Crazy or Upsetting Publishing Story?

I've been thinking about offering some more author interviews here on the blog, because I like adding entertaining and educational content, and because I've been letting the stress of publishing do a number on my brain and behaviors. I could use some inspiration, uplifting and laughter!

Not only stress about my usual topics (waxing and waning money due to self-employment, worrying about the welfare of my sweet son, dealing with the repercussions of migraines, Menopause From Hell, etc.), but because of the pressure I'm putting on myself about the publishing process.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have it any other way. I love all the challenges and triumphs of being an author. I'm grateful to the publishing companies that have bought my various projects.

But, having said that, I also drive myself nuts listening to my author friends who are pubbed with big houses and who have (I imagine) lots of support in their endeavors -- both professional support and personal support -- talk about their experiences. Mine is different, as is everyone's, but sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Then I read about all the promo I should be doing, and my money issues raise their ugly heads.

Today, after a multi-day meltdown due to the convergence of many pressure streams, I understand I've been doing it again. What's it? Giving my power away. Forgetting that I write because I love to write. I write because I'm good at it. My career isn't dependent upon anything or anyone but me. Nobody holds my future in their individual or collective hands but me.

So, I'd love to put your experience here on the blog. If you have a funny story, a crazy story (in publishing? really?) or an upsetting story with a silver lining, please share!

Instead of just leaving a comment (which you're most welcome to do, also!), go ahead and answer that/those question(s) in an email sent to my personal email address. That way I can give you your own post and put a link so it will stay on the blog forever.

My email address:

Thanks for sharing (in advance)!