I attended the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference last week in San Diego. What a great opportunity to meet with my agent, editors, and my friends. The highlight of the week was learning that my novel “Untrue Colors” won the 2016 Booksellers’ Best Award for Romantic Suspense.
I also did a book signing there with over 400 other authors including many of my favorites. If you are near the Orlando area next July, come on out. It’s such fun and all sales are donated to support literacy.
The release of a new novella by Susan Scott Shelley and me is today! OMG. What started out as a lark, turned into a pretty cool novella. Susan and I spent hours in my kitchen and hers plotting and revising “Flirting on Ice.” We’re damn proud of the result.
After all that time together, I’ve discovered a few things about Susan you may be interested to know.
Susan takes sports seriously. She’s crazy smart about players, stats, and rankings in both football and hockey. I can’t tell you the number of times she rewrote a few plays I created for our fictional hockey team the Atlantic City Hustlers. Thank God she did or the team would have been playing four quarters and skating over the end zone.
In addition to her sports expertise, she can make a heroine likeable, probably because she is likeable herself. While this may not seem like a feat to some people (and yes I’m talking to all you “nice” people out there), I tend to make my heroines unlikeable to the extreme (and no, I don’t think there is a parallel with me and unlikeable heroines. Do you?) Working with Susan, we created a heroine who is truly a person I’d want to hang out with.
The villain in the story is not evil to the core, but he is selfish and greedy. Just enough evil to make you root for the hero. I would have had him kill a few people and kick a puppy or two, but Susan was opposed to random violence in a romance. That’s not to say there’s no tension in the book, just less blood than I’d like.
In celebration of the release, we’re doing a Release Day Power Play. Whoever gets the most likes or tweets from their hockey social media posts will make a donation to Hockey Fights Cancer,and we encourage all of you to donate too. It’s a great cause.
And we may publicly humiliate the loser too, although I hate being publically humiliated, so that part is optional!
Today, I learned my two novels, Untrue Beliefs and True Deceptions earned first and second place in the Golden Pen Contest for Romantic Suspense. Unbelievable. Written last December, Untrue Beliefs, was my first ever romantic suspense. True Deceptions made its debut in the Golden Pen this year.
I discovered that Susan Scott Shelley, my critique partner, won her category in the Golden Pen because she happened to be sitting next to me discussing our next manuscripts when the emails arrived from Lorenda Christensen. Her entry, Shielded Hearts, won the Daphne du Maurier Contest this year as well as a few other contests. It’s a great story.
There’s definitely something sweeter in success when you have a friend to share it with.
So I’m taking this moment to say thanks to Susan
- for last minute reviews of 300+ page manuscripts (and yes, another is on the way in a few days- sorry for the short notice over the holidays),
- for a willingness to rehash my latest version of a scene over and over and over again,
- for creating beautiful language in her own WIPs and making me strive to produce something comparable (a little friendly competition brings out the best in us),
- and for a million smiley faces in the margins to soften her critical, yet accurate comments (and for never once making me cry, but occasionally causing major bouts of laughter).
Let’s hope 2014 is just as fun and twice as successful!
I’m spending the weekend at the New Jersey Romance Writers’ Conference.
Why is being a romance writer better than being a writer in any other genre?
Every person I meet has offered help and encouragement toward my goals. We laugh together, eat the chocolate cake before the main course is served, and offer each other a sympathetic ear when things don’t go as planned. Even if I didn’t have the disease that pushes me to my computer each day to write my stories, I’d want to be a writer just to hang out with such amazing women (and the occasional, yet rare, guy).
I’m already feeling energized to start editing one book and begin a new story about a blonde named Vicky. It will have to wait. A few more workshops and the after party are calling my name.
When I joined Facebook, I became friends with literally hundreds of amazing people from every continent (except Antarctica), every political affiliation from fascism to communism to anarchism and a multitude of religions and non-religions.
In short, I felt popular.
Alas, getting friends is the easy part of Facebook. The key to success is not the amount of friends you have, but how much your friends “Like” you. If you are unsure about your true popularity, send out a random “Hi” into the Facebook stream of ramblings at a time when most humans are awake and at a keyboard. Seven pm is generally a good time to do this. You should have your message “Liked” by at least one person per every hundred friends you have. I devised this ratio during a two second brainstorming session. My success rate is about half of that. The result? I’m pretty much a cyberspace loser. Even worse, there are times that nobody in the Facebook world “Likes” what I have written. Nobody. Do my posts just zip by every one of my friends and they ignore them or are there nefarious forces in Facebook determining popularity among various Friends.
Facebook would love me to pay to make my posts more important on the screens of my friends and followers. I just can’t do that. The thought that paying to make myself more popular would make me feel even more ridiculous than I do now when I turn on Facebook and hope that I have at least one person who responded to something I wrote. Can you imagine paying extra money for some extra attention and still not receiving notice? I’m just not strong enough for that kind of rejection. For now, I hope to get one person “Like” something I posted. One connection among a billion.
After that, I’ll go home and snuggle my kids, my husband and my dog. Those connections have a much better “Like” ratio.
by Veronica Forand
Did you ever wonder exactly how many friends you have in this world? Not Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or relatives, but the “help, my battery won’t start, do you have jumper cables” kind of friends? Real honest to God old fashioned friends.
I recently did a count and realized that I’ve let too many people go from my life because of obligations and commitments. If I called them for jumper cables, they’d be surprised to hear from me. That’s not right. And it puts me at the mercy of AAA.
I do have a small posse who I can rely on and who can rely on me for any number of things; coffee chats, lunches out, watching the kids, or plain old griping over the phone. Not redecorating advice, I’m pretty inept at decorating. I once decided on blue wall-to-wall carpeting, so I painted the walls the same blue. I then added a blue and white striped couch for contrast and a painting of a boat in blue water. Luckily, we moved and my friends never let me decorate again without assistance.
So I’ve come up with five steps for me to reconnect with some lost friends:
Call them. I need to get over my fear that they don’t actually want to talk to me. We are all busy, so I need to give them the benefit of the doubt. And believe me, there’s a lot of doubt.
Surprise them at their houses with coffee. Although the last time I tried this, the friend was just short of finishing her afternoon romp with her husband. She won’t be inviting me over in the near future.
Pick up their children from school to give them a break. Generally, call first. Kidnapping charges are difficult to fight, especially with an irate parent sitting next to the prosecution.
Have my children join their children’s activities. Kids get more structured learning moments, because they don’t have enough, and mothers have a chance to connect. I first need to make sure John wants to join the ballet class, because pink tights aren’t comfortable for boys, or so I’ve heard.
Use social media. This generally defeats the point of personally reaching out to my friends, but time is limited and they should be happy with any contact I can give them.