Tag Archives: Books

If it seems like you’ve waited 250 years then yeah, you’ve got it bad

I’ve been told that several “Easter eggs” have been planted throughout Outlander Season Three premiering this Sunday, September 10 on Starz. So what’s an Easter egg? It’s those little hidden gifts the producers like to plant in various scenes that only true fans will know the significance of. Sounds like fun and I can’t wait to look for them. But you’re an old-time devotee of the series, then you’ve already noticed quite a few pieces of coal as well. What I mean is we old-timers have been on the Claire/Jamie team for well over twenty years now since the Diana Gabaldon’s first book of the series, Outlander, debuted in 1992. And as readers of the books–sometimes two or three times–there’s certain things that have veered from the texts. Personally, I’m not complaining, as many variations have either had no significance or even improved the story. And since Diana Gabaldon has had such an active part in the production, she must approve of the changes. Plus ultimately, showrunner Ronald D. Moore is certainly entitled to his own vision and for the most part, I overwhelmingly approve. Still, there are some things that have veered from the written text that stand out for me (and if you don’t want to know what they are, if you think I’m a spoilsport and should just shut up and watch, then stop reading right here):

  • Claire, unlike the very talented, blue-eyed Caitriona Balfe, has brown eyes. In the book they are described as very unusual and “sherry-colored.”
  • The wedding ring Jamie gives Claire is a silver band decorated in the Highland interlace style, a small Jacobean thistle bloom carved in the center.
  • Jamie gets violently seasick, so bad he’s literally unable to come on deck when a ship is in motion. After he is liberated from Wentworth Prison in the book, he’s mostly unconscious and it’s not until France when he’s taken to the monastery to recover. The fact he’s unconscious is a lifesaver. Gabaldon deals with this quirk of Jamie’s in an inventive way with a novel character in Book Three and sailing on a ship becomes pivotal to the plot. Not that I’m telling you here!
  • In the books, Jamie and Claire’s daughter, Brianna, is described as tall and big-boned, size 16 and six-feet tall. There is no doubt that she is Jamie’s daughter, with her height and flaming-red hair. She was also born and raised in Boston, and there’s no doubt in my mind she pahks her cahr in Ha-vahd yahd.

Don’t get me wrong–I love-love-LUFF this series, and I can live with any of these changes and enjoy it tremendously. But I’m not going to deny the fact as a tall and big-boned woman, I would have loved to see an equally tall and big-boned woman playing the part of Jamie’s daughter, especially in this year of Wonder Woman. But if that would mean living without Jamie each Sunday night at nine, well, come on. Life is all about compromise, isn’t it?

Sunday night at eight.  You’ll know where I’ll be.

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Random House Open House – Going!

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Random House is home to the world’s most acclaimed storytellers, thought leaders, and innovators, and Open House is our signature special event.

Held three times per year, this unique day-long experience brings together the biggest names in publishing for a full day of interactive author panels and book talks in New York. Readers get a behind-the-books look at what’s new at this all-inclusive day. Our tenth Open House will take place on Thursday, December 15.

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Featured authors at this Open House include Diana Gabaldon, Jodi Picoult, Trevor Noah, George Saunders, Jon Meacham, Fannie Flagg, Lindsey Lee Johnson, Allison Pataki, Sana Krasikov, and Laura McHugh.

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Plus at the end of it — wine. Lots and lots of wine. I’m so there.

Open House at Random House – Going!

Going to this on Friday. I’m so excited I can’t stand myself. You see there’s publishers then there’s publishers. And then there’s (cue chorus of sopranos) Random House!

Open House is a unique semi-annual event that brings together the biggest names in publishing (Anna Quindlen, Debbie Macomber, and more!) for a full day of interactive author panels and book signings at Random House’s New York offices. Readers get a behind-the-books look at what’s new at this all-inclusive day, which includes breakfast, snacks, lunch, a cocktail reception, and a canvas tote bag full of books and goodies!

 

  • Questlove

    Questlove

    Author, Something To Food About

  • Melanie Benjamin

    Melanie Benjamin

    Author, THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE

  • Pierce Brown

    Pierce Brown

    Author, MORNING STAR

  • Justin Cronin

    Justin Cronin

    Author, THE CITY OF MIRRORS

  • Debbie Macomber

    Debbie Macomber

    Author, A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON

  • Anna Quindlen

    Anna Quindlen

    Author, MILLER’S VALLEY

  • Helen Simonson

    Helen Simonson

    Author, THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR

  • Dawn Tripp

    Dawn Tripp

    Author, GEORGIA

  • Lee Woodruff

    Lee Woodruff

    Author, PERFECTLY IMPERFECT

Have questions about Open House at Random House – April 29? Contact Random House

Book Expo America 2015! I’m going, are you?

BEA-Book-Author-v2Nirvana comes to New York’s Javits Center for BookExpo America 2015 from Wednesday, May 27 – Friday, May 29, 2015. BEA offers three event-packed days, 600+ authors, hundreds of new titles, hundreds of exhibitors, four Author Stages, and access to the latest digital technologies at the Digital Discovery Zone (D2Z) brought to you by IDPF. Hop to it because the skinny is BEA’s traveling to Chicago next year.

BookExpo America is the leading book and author event for the North American publishing industry. It’s the best place to discover new titles and authors, network, and learn the latest trends during the BEA Content & Digital Conference. See you there, and see you in two weeks!

Spring Illin’

popup-3_0Last week I was as sick as a dog. (Tell me: where did that analogy spring from anyway? Because if sick = dog, then my neighborhood should be a pandemic site.) My affliction ran the full gamut of misery: fever, chills, aches, head congestion and general all-over-shittiness, and from so much coughing and sneezing, this week I threw out my back. So it’s another week of not being up to a hundred percent, and now it’s thirty-eight degrees out and raining. Add to this one hell of a winter hangover which seemed to put all progress in reverse, and I’m finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone work on the book which I recently started. Put it all together and I’m decidedly in a funk, and wondering how to get my motor started when so much of the world is working against me.

(My goodness, I’m depressing. Now write yourself out of that hole, Gwen. Go ahead. I’m waiting.)

It’s very easy not to write when you’re feeling bad, actually too easy. Your brain gets preoccupied with everything that’s messing up your day, and it become almost mandatory to dis your routine for social media or TV, twin junk foods for the distracted mind. Kind of like when you have a bad day at work and you head right for the Doritos, a balm for the belly that actually works against you, especially after you realize you just inhaled 3000 calories, and you don’t even like Doritos. So how do you counter these counter-intuitive measures? How do you write when writer is the last thing you feel like? One thing I’ve found out about myself is I feel worse when I don’t write, that the act of writing itself gives me a feeling of self-worth unlike any other practice I partake in. The only thing that comes close is teaching, perhaps because both involve the dissemination of information uniquely my own. Maybe because as writers, we are innately messengers, and this need to communicate is what puts us in touch with our reality, giving us validation. Really? Is that what we need? Must be true, because why would I feel so bad when I’m not doing it? I mean, seriously, who feels bad when they’re not hitting their thumb with a hammer?

Man, writers are strange. But that’s why you love us so much, right?

Writing the Dread Query

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If you fancy yourself a novelist ( as I, on occasion, have been wont to do), and you’d like to see yourself represented, sooner or later you’re going to have to attempt that necessary evil, the Dread Agent Query Letter. Truly, I know people who’d rather stick pencils in their eyes than apply that pencil to the task, but sweeties, it doesn’t have to be that painful if you know the assembly method. So here, in four easy paragraphs, I’ll try to show you how to compose the Perfect Agent Query. Now pay attention…

First, some preliminaries… First and foremost, a query is a business letter. Since most (if not all) agents accept queries only through email, and since that email entails one finger firmly adhered to the delete button, you want your query to be as concise and professional as possible, contained in the body of the email and NOT by attachment. Since attachments can carry viruses, agents are loath to open them unless they know you, so send attachments by invitation only. Most definitely use honorifics (Mr., Ms. etc.) in your Salutation as you should never assume familiarity. If you had previously met with the agent at a conference, workshop, cocktail party, etc, and were invited to query, most definitely write REQUESTED in the subject line as well as the first line of the email. These will get opened first. As a best practice, check the agent’s website or blog for query/submission guidelines. If you don’t have a particular agent in mind, try Jeff Herman’s guide, the library for The Literary Marketplace, or www.agentquery.com, just to name a few resources. Another one is troll the library or bookstore stack of the books of your genre, and see who the author thanks in her acknowledgements. Now, on to the actual construction…

Para One – Howdy! With Benefits – This is your query knock-on-the-door, your literary calling card designed to get the agent’s attention. Introduce yourself, remind her if you’ve previously met and where (we chatted during lunch at the XXXX Writers’ Conference), if you’ve been invited to query/submit, the name of your novel, the genre and word count. You might what to toss in a quick teaser like, A cross between Stephen King and Carl Hiaasen, My Bloody Margarita is a 80,000 word…, to illustrate what your writing is like. But on the whole, keep this para to a five-six line minimum, with just the facts, ma’am, inviting her to the next para to learn more.

Para Two – In which we employ The Hard Sell – this is where you get ONE paragraph to car-crush your entire 80,000 word novel into one easily digestible capsule.  Twelve to fifteen lines in all, introduce your main characters, basic plot line, conflict, lessons learned, the conclusion. Remember, although you want the agent to be intrigued, you don’t want to raise her ire. So if you say …but if you want to know how the story turns out, you’ll just have to request the rest of it… you’re just asking for a delete.  Be creative, not cagey.

Para Three – It’s all about YOU! – This is where you get your close-up, Mr. DeMille; it’s all about you, you, you. Cite your published works, awards, training, blogs, websites, education (if pertinent), professional associations, jobs or skills that give you credibility for/authority on what you’re writing about. Again, because this is a business letter, remain professional. Don’t take this personally, but no one really cares if you like to raise bunnies and take long walks lakeside, unless, of course, you’re writing about The Killer Hare of Lake Superior. Again, no more than twelve to fifteen lines. A link to your blog or website is also advisable, as most industry people now assume you have a web or social media prescience, and if you don’t, you have to ask yourself why.

Para Four – Wrap it up – This is your shortest paragraph of all. I’ll even toss in examples free of charge: I can send a proposal or the complete novel at your request. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. OR  According to your submission guidelines, what follows is the first ten pages (or synopsis or first three chapters, or any combination thereof stated in their guidelines) of <Name Work> Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. THAT SHOULD BE IT. No more, no less, just a salute as you head out the door.

All finished? PROOFREAD AND SPELL-CHECK, then add your email address and your phone number. All in all, a succinct query should never contain more than 400-450 words, and NEVER more than one page. And never query unless you have a completed, fully-polished, proofread and spell-checked novel ready to go. I know of agents who get 200 queries a week, and some substantially more. That’s a heck of a queue, and if you’re not ready to submit at a moment’s notice, rest assured there are hundreds of others who are.

One more thing — good luck!

 

Five reasons to attend the 6th Annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference March 21-22

CreateSomethingMagicalConAd_FINAL_webBeside the fact it’s located in convenient Iselin, NJ, just off Route One? That lunch is included? That I’ll be there? Well, if THAT isn’t enough motivation, let me give you a few more reasons why:

  1. Sylvia Day! ~ Keynote speaker, #1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling Author. Breakfast speaker, #1 New York Times Bestselling author Maria V. Snyder.
  2. Editors and Agents! ~ Forget that messy query process – speak face-to-face with living, breathing editors and agents. Too many editors and agents to list!
  3. Workshops! ~ On craft, on children’s books, fantasy, mysteries, blogging – even martial arts, plus much, much more!
  4. Bookfair ~ Your favorite authors, signing your favorite books, courtesy of Watchung Booksellers.
  5. Writers and Readers Tracks! ~ Special events exclusively for either or both, with access for all to meals and parties, plus the Bookfair.

And I’ll be there! What else do you need to know? But alas, in case you do, you can always click here for more information.

See you there!

 

Tenacity, thy name is Writer

Gwen signingAh yes, there I am in New York at BEA back in June, signing copies of Wanted: Wife at the RWA booth. I’m happy to say that I “sold” every copy HarperCollins provided for me. Okay, I’m lying. They were free, and three-quarters of the people asked for them not to be personalized. Kind of reminded me when I was at a BEA authors’ breakfast the year before, and I asked the same thing of Chris Matthews of “Hardball” on MSNBC. He laughed out loud in that inimitable Chris Matthews way and said, “Ha! Better to sell it on eBay!” No, I thought, feeling slightly chagrined. He was so mobbed, I was trying to save him some time. Even so, I was under no illusion my many “fans” were thinking eBay about me. Seems most of them were librarians or booksellers, and WW would soooo fit nicely into that raffle basket…

Not that I cared. Truly, I didn’t. At this stage of my career, I’m just happy you asked. Writers are funny that way. We can be a cloistered folk, especially when we’re deep into a project, but if you want to get a writer’s attention, just ask her what she’s working on. If the work’s going smoothly, she’ll jabber on about it. If it’s going badly, she’ll give you a scowl that’ll melt glass.

I’m kinda at the in between stage right now, just starting a new project, and just pushing one out in the real world on Tuesday, November 18th. That would be The Laws of Seduction, the third book in my “French Kiss” series, and a bit different from what I’ve written before. It’s somewhat darker, but it was written at a very dark point in my life. I started it the day before my mother died suddenly, and worked through and finished it while I was still in mourning. In fact, this picture was taken just six days after her death and three days before her funeral, and to tell you the truth, as excited as I was to do a signing at BEA, I was pretty much in a daze. But I soldiered on. I think Mom would have wanted me to.

I’m somewhat better now, though I still miss her, of course. But out of all that sadness came something I’m pretty proud of. The writing, the plain work of it, got me through a very tough time by giving me something other than my grief to think about, and through it all, reaffirmed my conviction to the craft of writing. I knew then that if I could write through those dark days, I would never have an excuse again to not write when the times were so much better. Because as a writer, I was doing what writers do–write. I sincerely hope, with this next book, you’ll agree.

Welcome to the Glam Life of a Deadline Writer

IMG_2318Hello all. Yeah, that’s me, looking like shit because I’m flying for three weeks now on about five hours of sleep a night. I believe it’s around two o’clock in the afternoon, who knows, because I’ve been up since six and since my office is down the hall from my bedroom, “getting ready in the morning” has lost all imperative. My morning ritual is getting up and turning on my laptop, checking the weather on my phone (because looking out the window is SO old school) shuffling into the kitchen, pouring a bowl of Cheerios and shuffling back to get a glimpse into the outside world via the New York Times online. Then it’s go make a cup of strong tea (thanx to pals Kate and Susan who’s supplied me with some diesel-strength loose), and off to Rex-land, the subject of which you’ll find out shortly. I think I last got a shower before noon about three weeks ago. Did you know that bras are not for indoor wear? My hair is actually past my shoulders, but who would know? I haven’t worn socks since May. I cannot remember the last time I ate a meal sitting down at a table, at least at home. All the rest have come out of paper containers. I got a modem upgrade from Comcast a month ago, but the box is still sitting unopened on my chair. My back hurts. IMG_2338

This is what my desk looks like. Those cherries have been sitting there for four hours, and the seltzer is warm and flat. The only time I’ve been getting out is for the summer class I’m teaching, but that’s three nights a week, so I never really see natural daylight. My ass hurts. I need to pay my utility bills, but it’ll take too much time. The only online time I have is to look up things like “French curse phrases” and see how things are pronounced on Google Translate. I need a pedicure. I need a massage. My husband hates me. My cats are scared of me. Got to go. I’ve already wasted too much time writing this.

Buy my book. Please.

KISS ME, CAPTAIN cover reveal June 20th! Pre-Order your copy now!

Image not availableI know you’re been waiting a long time but your wait will soon be over! Coming to a device near you on June 20th — the KISS ME, CAPTAIN cover reveal. As soon as I get the specs about the where and when of it, I’ll tell you–my closest peeps ever! But I can’t tell what I don’t know myself. Have to let those wheels of the industry start grinding, before the good folks at HarperCollins Avon will reveal all. Not that I haven’t gotten a glimpse, though. Just WAIT until you get a look at Marcel! I GUARANTEE you will be pleased with what you see. Trust me on this one!!

In the meantime, know that you can pre-order KISS ME, CAPTAIN at Barnes and Noble dot com by clicking right here. You can also get a sneak peek at what the book’s about, but why don’t I pique your interest and I tell you right here:

French billionaire Marcel Mercier loves women. And there’s a string of broken hearts across two continents to prove it. But as CEO of Mercier Shipping, he’s got more important things to worry about … like why the charter company he just purchased in the United States is suddenly the center of an international media firestorm.

Now that big, bad Mercier Shipping owns Captain Dani Lloyd’s ship, she’s sure her job is at stake. But she won’t go down without a fight—even if it means chaining herself to the mast of the Esther Reed and refusing to set foot on shore.

The delectable captain and her newsworthy dramatics are a PR nightmare, but Marcel is happy to let Dani prove her skills on a weeklong sail to Boston. He knows no woman can resist him for that long … in fact, he’s counting on it.

But Marcel’s plan to seduce Dani backfires as sparks fly between the billionaire playboy and the passionate captain. Which leaves Marcel realizing that winning her heart is a challenge he can’t afford to lose.

I know! You can’t wait, right?!