Sunday, May 29, 2005

Around and about

Yesterday I did a signing at TEA AND SYMPATHY at the Pomona Highland Games. Actually, this is the United Scottish Games--it used to be held in Costa Mesa. Well, according to a faded and battered program my dad dug out of the garage a few days ago, the very first Highland Games in Southern California were held in Santa Monica. Admission was .50 and some of the fab events included the Men's Three Legged Race--probably more like a genuine old time games. My dad used to go to these things when he was a young piper.

I always enjoy the T&S signings, although they are not at all like a normal signing. For one thing, I trade rather heavily on my Browne Sister status (You make me want to La La...) and for another, many of the people buying books did not come in the vendor hall intending to buy books--although many of them do regularly buy books (generally historical romances) from the T&S author lineup.

I usually sign with two really terrific women--they could probably model for their own heroines. They're frank and funny--and were, from the very start, welcoming to the chickadee from Mysteryworld. (I was going for a swans and ugly duckling metaphor, but it's too much work when I haven't even had my proper caffeine dosage yet.) I confess that I've never been a huge fan of historical romance (Laura Kinsale and Georgette Heyer excepted) but I've glanced these books over, and they look well-researched and fun. Anyway, if you do enjoy historical romance I heartily recommend Glynnis Campbell and Lauren Royal

So... a very enjoyable day selling books, sipping beer, and chatting with Lauren and Glynnis (Glynnis, by the way, is also a talented musician and voice-over artist). Still it was a relief to have sold enough that I could take today off and get back to the writing.

This is the on-going challenge: to balance writing time with promotion time. It's not enough to write good books (which I think that I do--granted we all believe that) you have to get out there and sell yourself. And if you are at all shy, it can be very tiring. I am a bit shy, but it's easier for me because I like people and I'm interested in them, so I'm able to stop focusing on myself and concentrate on the other person, and I'm usually okay.

I've committed to doing at least one signing a month, and so far this year I've stuck to it, although I haven't managed to PROMOTE the fact that I'm doing these signings (one step at a time, folks). And on Friday I signed up to take a short online course on promotion from MJ Rose. MJ Rose is kind of the poster girl for self-promotion. I've tried hiring a publicist, but I was very unsatisfied with the results, so I'd rather invest the money in myself and learn the basics. It might be less expensive in the long run--or at least this time around I'll have only myself to blame.

What actually convinced me to try MJ Rose's course is completely irrational. She wrote a book called SHEET MUSIC, and I was so amazed that she could write--in fact, a couple of times I found myself getting teary (the subplot regarding the heroine's coming to terms with the death of her beloved mother). Believe me, that rarely happens. I had always assumed that this woman was a master of PR, but probably only a mediocre writer. This is dreadful to say, but 95% of everything contemporary that I read falls in the oh-okay class. But this book moved me.

Anyway, I signed up. Not that what necessarily works for one person will work for another, but I figure it can't do me any harm to learn what I should be TRYING to do at least. Don't worry, whatever happens, I will not start spamming friends and family with unwanted book promos! This is an interesting experiment for me because this third and possibly final book with Pocket will be the first one for which I tried to form a marketing plan. So we'll see if it works.

One thing every writer I meet seems to agree on: you cannot make a living at this unless you have more than one book coming out a year. Which means writing AND promoting/marketing two books a year.

Considering that many people go into this business believing that the publisher will take care of all that for you...!

But enough of business blab. I picked up another great batch of books on ebay, and I'll be talking about them next time!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Yo? Yo ho ho!

So there I am gloating over my e-bay treasures last night, and Mr. Thrilling walks in and drawls, "My God, it's like living with Captain Kidd!"

There were a few more remarks about booty, but those were of a more personal nature. So anyway, here's what I got!

SILENT TERROR by T.C.H. Jacobs. A 1944 Bulls-Eye Detective novel.

"The terror surrounding the murder of a well-known daughter of joy is the ominously quiet kind. Inspector Ruggles Radford (no WAY!) , summoned from his favorite cocktail bar, could find no marks on the body. Possibly the woman was hypnotised and ingeniously strangled."

Possibly. Or maybe Ruggles was hypnotised and she was ingeniously strangled, because how can you be strangled but have no marks on the body? Just how long was Ruggles in that cocktail bar anway?

I'll have to read the book. I'll keep you posted.

THE SAINT VS. SCOTLAND YARD by Leslie Charteris. 1945 Avon Book Company.

I've never been a big Saint fan. By which I mean I've never been interested enough to read any of the novels. All that's going to change, and I'll let you know how it goes. In this adventure he seems to be battling an arch-nemesis known as the Scorpion.

THE PINBALL MURDERS by Thomas B. Black. 1947 with the cover blurb "Suspense, sex and action." But no, it's not about dating.

This one has a killer opening, and I'll probably read it first.

"The little guy cried, and that did it; I said I'd look for his wife."

Then we have O AS IN OMEN by Lawrence Treat. 1943.

Did I mention, ignoramus that I am, I haven't heard of any of these writers except Charteris? Anyway, Treat seems to have been fairly prolific (17 novels and hundreds of short stories), and he's credited on one website with creating the police procedural sub-genre. I guess someone had to, but it seems a steep claim.

Opening line: "He was sweating in thin cold beads because he'd been stricken so unaccountably."


We'll see.

Then we have three books by Dana Chambers who, again, I never heard of until I became a pirate.


"Boyd shoved the big open Bently through Tuxedo at an easy sixty, and cut in the supercharger on the long straight stretch beyond."


"The Park Lane bar felt hot and close and I went on through to the little garden at the back and ordered a stinger."

I like that.


"At four o'clock of a late March morning in Manhattan the eastern sky is a deep purple just beginning to pale."

A cursory internet search turns up nothing on Chambers. Disappointing. He (she?) seems like an interesting writer.

Just spotted a slow moving vessel to the west. Time to hoist the skull and crossbones...