Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dancin' by the Nile

Last week I discovered ebay. Yeeha! Or more correctly, Yahoo! Another excuse not to write.

I'm justifying the expenditure (of time and ouch! so much more money than I intended) by finding items related to writing. For example...I'm going to put an ebay addict in one of my current WiPs. And I'm finding lots of great vintage mysteries to rip off--er--inspire me. But best of all, this morning I bought this very cool replica of the Sphinx, which will be the grand prize next spring when SONNET OF THE SPHINX launches, and I do my ususal website contest. I may even pick up a few more little Egyptian-like collectibles for the promo. Since it's the third book in the series, and the final one Pocket has contracted for (so far) I really want to make a fuss of it, and focus a little harder on the promotion.

Speaking of which, according to my editor at Pocket, Micki Nuding, review copies actually should have gone out on VERSE OF THE VAMPYRE. The fact that they didn't can apparently be chalked up to...well, the vagaries of an already vague biz. I feel the lack of reviews really did affect sales, but maybe that's writer paranoia. It is interesting to see if my promotional efforts make a difference. I spent about $12,000. promoting HIGH RHYMES AND MISDEMEANORS (including publicist fees, etc.) and the book did go into a second printing. On VERSE, I spent about $3,000. (no publicist). It's too soon to know what impact, if any, this will have. I hear different theories all the time.

Anyway, back to ebay. I had no idea there was so much WONDERFUL STUFF available. Pink Depression glass candlesticks, ivy china, Dell mapbacks, and vintage jewellery--to name just a few of the items I regularly hunt for. And I do mean, regularly. Yep, I'm addicted to online auctioneering. So much of the stuff reminds me of things my grandmothers owned--etched stemware, milk glass, funky little figurines. You have to wonder about the history behind pieces that have been around for decades--those tangles of old jewellery and incomplete sets of fine china. I wonder if someone is auctioning off their granny's beloved trinkets, but the truth is many of these ebayers simply buy to resell. Apparently there are people who actually try to make money at this game.

Not me. I buy what I love. So I get a little fanatical and overbid. Where they kill you is on shipping. Ouch. .99 for a five piece set of china, and $100. shipping. Yeah, right. I didn't fall for that one, but I did get into a bidding war over a set of cork placemats that I'd prefer not to think about (although I will have to think about it every time we eat dinner). Anyway, here's my ebay tip: DO NOT THINK OF BIDDING AS WINNING OR LOSING.

It's the books that really lure me in. I buy them in lots, and I'm only interested in certain writers or certain art work, so my buying pattern is probably irrational. There's something about the hunt for old books that is like no other. I won five Dell mapbacks yesterday. A couple of them will go into someone's Christmas stocking, a couple of them may be website giveaways--and a couple of them I just cannot wait to read!

Ah, but I see I have 32m to go on a certain item. Must run...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Birds do it, Bees do it...

Editors, agents, reviewers, authors, wannabe authors, and educated fleas do it, so it was only a matter of time before I decided to do it too. Yes, I am officially a blogger. I am a blogspot on the face of the world wide web.

So this weekend we (me and Mr. Thrilling Detective) attended the L.A. Times Book Fair. It's several years since I've been to the festival, and the first time I've appeared in my secret identity (author). I think it is no coincidence that the official event T-shirt features jungle animals reading. The festival has exploded in size--it's a zoo.

My personal belief is that half the people there do not read and do not buy books, but perhaps I'm being cynical. On the other hand, Angelenos love to party, and the Book Fair is a two day extravaganza of food and drink (no alchohol though, and how weird is THAT? We're AUTHORS for cryin' out loud. Alchohol is part of our job description) and books, books, books.

I have to be honest and say that I am not one to relish rubbing shoulders with the madding crowd--unlike Mr. Thrilling, who is a friendly and gregarious soul (despite what they say about him). Poor guy. He just doesn't mind being being jostled and jammed and trampled.

But I digress. The Book Fair is the kind of event that is A Must for local authors (and maybe even not so local authors), although--as you now know, not being especially keen on mobs of people--not my favorite gig in the world. Part of the author biz is to get out there and flog your wares (the paper kind--although sometimes it feels a little more personal). This is not easy for me. It's not easy for most of the writers I know, although some thrive on it. Most of us prefer the writing to the marketing. Although, on the other hand, writing is a solitary profession, and for some, the promotion is a great time to meet and greet.

Speaking of which, I met the talented and charming Libby Fischer Hellman (we share our agent, it turns out). I had the peculiar notion that she wrote Amish mysteries, She writes a very well-regarded series about a single mom filmmaker. She's nominated for an Anthony, how cool is that? Inside, of course, I am deeply, greenly jealous and soooo not wanting to like her or her books. (I'm kidding--at least, I HOPE I am!)

I have, in fact, added Libby to my ever-mounting TBR pile--along with a new one by Holly Baxter called TEARS OF THE DRAGON. This sounds inticing-ly like the Mary Kelly stuff I write (under D.L. Browne). Hopefully I'll manage some little review snippets in the near future.

Oh (hey, nice segue) I also met the adorable Beth Kendrick (we share a publisher, it turns out) who has a new chick lit coming out called EXES AND OHS. Beth is branching into YA, and she wanted to see if I had any objections to her using the penname Killian. I thought that demonstrated real class--and of course I fiercely refused to relinquish the "Killian" nom de plume!! (I truly am kidding.)

Anyway, I signed for a couple of hours at Crime Time Books with moderate success (no, not another author), and then escaped to the homefire delights of MURDER SHE WROTE (Season 1) and a heaping plate of "wings of fire."

And on Saturday I discovered EBAY. Oh. My. Gah.

The wonders and seduction of ebay deserves its own blog, so until then...