Sunday, July 22, 2007

Along Came A Spider

Little Miss Terri
sat in her chair-ey
eating her curds and whey,
along came a spider
and sat down beside her
and blew Terri Garey away!

Isn't he cute? I guess it's no longer any secret that I have somewhat eclectic taste, but even I had no idea how I'd immediately fall in love with a rhinestone-encrusted, green-eyed spider! Better yet, a rhinestone-encrusted, green-eyed spider trinket box like this guy here (if you lift his little head, his entire body opens up). My spider was a gift from Theresa Mobley, who was the winner of the Win A Free RWA Conference Registration Contest I held last year. Theresa made a point to seek me out at conference and thank me for helping her attend the conference, and this was her very original and very thoughtful thank you gift! I'm so glad I got to meet Theresa and two of her friends, both of whom assured me that the grand prize of a free contest registration couldn't have gone to a nicer person than Theresa - hearing that in itself was a gift. :)

Theresa was sweet enough to privately email some of my friends and find out what she could get me as a thank-you, and they told her that I loved anything spooky or Halloween-related. What they didn't tell her is that I also collect cool little boxes! This spider already has a place of honor in my collection! Theresa and her girlfriend (and a bunch of strangers by the elevator) probably thought I was nuts the way I squealed over this, but one look and I was blown away.

So thank you again, Theresa. Spidey thanks you, too, for giving him a home with someone who thinks he's really cool. :)

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Sisterhood of The Traveling Shoes

This is a reprint of the conference wrapup I posted over on Romantic Inks earlier in the week. I'm putting it up here just in case you missed it (and because I'm too lazy to do another blog entry right now). :)
I just got back from a whirlwind week in Dallas, where I (like 2000 other crazy, wild, star-struck and sleep-deprived women) attended the RWA Signature of Success conference. I could easily sum it up in three words (i.e., It Was Awesome!!), but I thought you guys might like to hear a little more detail than that.

There were workshops and signings, free goodies, free books, chapter parties, publisher parties, hallway reunions, drinks in the bar, breakfast with editors, lunch with agents, and a final blowout award ceremony filled with excited, happy women decked out in gorgeous evening gowns. And chocolate. Did I mention the chocolate? It was everywhere. The elevator chats raised the eyebrows of any non-writing hotel guests who overheard them (“he’s an doctor and she’s a sports photographer and he agrees to get her pregnant not knowing that she’s already had a least one secret baby with his arch-rival, a hunky surgeon who dumped her for their marriage therapist…”). I came away exhausted and happy, stuffed full of new ideas, writing tips, industry tidbits, and of course… chocolate. But do you know what I came away with that struck me the most? It was the incredible sense of camaraderie that comes from being among people who all have the same dream, the instant affinity between people who’ve never met before, the cheerfulness and good will that surrounded me, and the amazing graciousness of so many “big-name” authors. (I was also amazed at how often the talk turned to shoes! How many pairs everyone packed, how many were cute, how many were excruciating, who was wearing what, what size they were and where they came from. While I heard a lot of “What do you write?”, I also heard a lot of “Where’d you get those shoes?” Instant bonding, girlfriends! Instant bonding! LOL)

“But Terri, (you say), enough with the shoes. Give us details; names, dates, places! Does La Nora really have a husky voice? Does Sherrilyn Kenyon only wear black? Is Susan Elizabeth Phillips really as nice as people say she is? Why does J.R.Ward wear sunglasses at night?”

Want the real scoop? Let me give you a few little tidbits about some of your favorite authors as I experienced them:

Julia Quinn is as genuine and down-to-earth as any person you’ll ever meet. Julia’s RITA acceptance speech was the most joyful, heartfelt thing I’d heard in years, and she had us all laughing and smiling right along with her.

Teresa Medeiros never stops smiling, and knows how to pay a compliment. She made her way across a crowded room just to say hello, and in doing so, made my night.

Jacquie D’Alessandro has eyes that sparkle with fun and a mega-watt smile that lights up a room. Her little alligator purse was adorable – it looked like a real alligator (as in green, four legs, a tail, and a mouth full of teeth)!

Kathryn Caskie not only looks like a beauty queen, she’s beautiful on the inside, too, and knows how to make a newbie author feel at ease when she’s sitting at a table full of industry bigwigs. Talking with her about dogs and kids kept me from dropping salmon all over my dress.

Julie Ann Long has a impish, mischievous quality that makes you wish she lived next door to you so you could gab over a glass of wine on a regular basis. Laughing with her while sitting at a table full of industry bigwigs nearly caused me to drop salmon all over my dress.

Sophia Nash would look glamorous in a potato sack. (Not that she’d wear one!)

Elizabeth Boyle is outspoken, warm and highly intelligent. She used to work for Microsoft, and believe me, when Elizbo speaks, people listen.

Gayle Callen instantly makes you feel like you’ve known her for years. There’s absolutely nothing intimidating about chatting with someone about whether it’s a good idea to wear white pants to an early morning breakfast. Or whether it’s a good idea to wear white pants at all. LOL

Anna Campbell is upbeat and bubbly, with a fabulous “Aussie” accent. It’s always a party when Anna’s around, and you want it to go on forever just so she’ll keep talking.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips really is as nice as people say she is, and then some! She’s gracious and warm and kind. I want to be her when I grow up!

Sherrilyn Kenyon obviously likes to make a statement, and while I’m not quite sure what wearing a swan on her head during the literacy signing was supposed to be a statement of, it certainly got people talking!

Nora Roberts definitely has a smoky voice, and she’s much more approachable than one might think. When she’s sitting at a table in the lounge area, the crowd parts around her like Moses at the Red Sea — everyone whispering, staring, and afraid to speak. Yet she’s nothing but polite and friendly to anyone who does, and must’ve posed for a gajillion pictures.

J.R. Ward does indeed wear sunglasses at night. Why? The only reason I can figure is because, baby, when you’re cool, the sun’s always shinin’! And did you know that J.R. is also Jessica Bird? Jessica won a RITA for Best Short Contemporary with her Silhouette Special Edition, “From The First”.

There were more people and more details, of course; sharing a cab with Toni Blake, riding the Avon bus with Suzanne Enoch, reminiscing with Robyn DeHart, admiring Kathryn Smith’s adorable party dress. I know I’ve left out a lot, and I know I sound like a star-struck fan girl, but honestly, I’m still reeling from the whirlwind of the last few days.

Any questions about any of your favorite authors? Just ask. If I don’t know the answer, I can probably make something up. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Photos from the 2007 RWA Conference

Ok, I promised I'd post a couple of pictures of me in a cowboy hat and light-up feather boa, so here they are! I'm having a fabulously good time, in case you were wondering!

These were taken at the RWAOnline "Ropin' Romance" party, and the feather boas were given out to everyone who served on the volunteer committee. Just wish you could see the little blinky lights better!

I've posted a lot more pictures on the PHOTO GALLERY section of my website, if anyone's interested. Wanna know what Anna Campbell, Tawny Weber, Stacey Kayne, C.L. Wilson, Toni Blake, Caridad Ferrar, Elizabeth Boyle and other well-known authors look like? Pop on over and take a look!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Christina Hogrebe, Agent Extraordinaire

I am incredibly fortunate enough to be represented by one of the finest literary agencies ever, the Jane Rotrosen Agency. At Rotrosen, author representation is a team effort, and when I call or email anyone there, I know I'm speaking with or dealing with true professionals in every sense of the word. Support, enthusiasm, industry savvy, editorial input, advice, hand-holding, friendship, laughter - it's all there.

But let me give you an example of how Christina Hogrebe (in the black dress - isn't she gorgeous?) went above and beyond the call of duty for me the other day.

Christina and I decided to go on a culinary adventure this past Friday by visiting a Tex-Asian fusion restaurant (recommended by Rachel Ray), called Fuse. Tres' chic, no? We hopped in a cab and dined on Chili Scented Edamame, assorted sushi, chicken and steak while we talked about life, love, business and all things in between. I had another appointment back at the hotel at 1:30, so we thought we had plenty of time to catch another cab and make it back, but when we walked out of the restaurant, it was pouring down rain. It was right about this time that I realized that I had NO IDEA which meeting room I was supposed to go to once I made it back to the hotel (somewhere along the line I'd lost the email that held that particular detail.)

We called a cab and were informed that it would be there in less than ten minutes, so we waited. And waited. And waited. Now time is getting short, it's pouring down rain, and I have an important meeting to get to and no way of finding out where it is short of running through the halls of the Hyatt, looking for a sign.

So what does Christina do? She goes outside (in the rain), and does her best to hail a cab, telling me to stay inside and dry so I'll look nice for my meeting. But this is Dallas, not NYC, and cabs aren't as plentiful as one might think (perhaps they'll melt if they get wet?). Christina sees one a block away, and starts in that direction, gets halfway there before the cab we called finally shows up. Once inside, a very damp Christina whips out her trusty cell phone and starts making calls, trying desperately to find out the details of where I'm supposed to be. Office? Check. HarperCollins main number? Check. Marketing department? Check. Voicemail? Dead end. By this time, we're back at the hotel, and almost out of options. I honestly believe Christina would've run through the halls like a madwoman with me, searching for the meeting room, except that I took pity on her dampness and sent her off for a well-deserved break.

The good news is that I found the meeting room with nary a minute to spare, but it never would have happened if it weren't for Christina, willing to stand in the rain to snag us a cab.

That, my friend, is a good agent.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Guest Blogging Today at Romantic Inks

I've got tons of stuff to say about the RWA convention, but I decided to spill some of the beans over at Romantic Inks, where I'm today's guest blogger. Pop on over if you'd like to read a little "dish" on some of your favorite authors!

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Quick Hello From The Road

How could I let Friday the 13th go by without doing a blog entry? I'm still in Dallas, attending the RWA conference, and it's been a total blast. I've seen so many of my friends, met so many new ones, had a great time at some parties and soaked up some industry info in workshops. (I now finally understand how all the different Amazon features work, and how much clout the big booksellers like Borders, BAMM and Barnes & Noble have over your actual publishing career). I can't wait to post some pictures, but that will have to wait until I get home and can upload them from my camera. (Tune in this weekend if you'd like to see me in a light-up featherboa and cowboy hat - who says I ain't fashionable?)

This may be an unlucky day for some, but so far my Friday the 13th has been a great one. I was given a fabulous thank-you gift by Theresa Mobley, who won a free registration to the conference through one of my website contests. It's an absolutely gorgeous trinket box, in the form of a bejeweled spider! I love it! I'll post a picture of it, too. Thanks, Theresa!!!

Anyway, I'm off to have lunch with my agent, then tonight is the big HarperCollins dinner party. Tempted though I may be, I might have to leave the light-up featherboa behind. It just doesn't go with my dress. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Terri Does Dallas :)

As of tomorrow morning (early), I'll be off to the "Signature Of Success" conference in Dallas, Texas. It will be a dizzying round of meetings, workshops and parties, for which I haven't even begun to pack. I'll be having tea with local booksellers, breakfast with my editor, lunch with my agent, mixing with other authors, meeting new people and hanging out with old friends. I can't wait! My agent and I are going to check out a Tex-Asian restaurant recommended by food-diva Rachel Ray, I'll be attending a dessert reception for finalists in the Golden Heart contest, a publisher party at a place with the cool name of Hotel ZaZa, and an agency party at Tucker's. In between all this I'll be attending as many workshops and publisher "spotlights" as I can. Oh, and I'm also on the planning committee for my online chapter, RWAOnline, so I get to be silly and hand out awards at our "Ropin' Romance" party on Wednesday night. Yeehaw!

In addition to all this, I'll be cheering on five of my best buds as they vie for coveted Golden Heart awards (which is RWA's version of the Oscar), given for the best "as-yet-unpublished" manuscripts of the year. Carla, Beth, Anna, Kim and Sheila all deserve one of those beautiful golden heart necklaces, and I can't wait to see who gets one! (Well, Carla already has one, but who can ever have too much jewelry?)

All of this makes me remember the very first RWA conference I went to back in 2001, in New Orleans. I didn't know a soul. A single soul. I didn't know anything about publishing, period, other than what kind of books I liked to read. All I knew was that I wanted to be a writer, and if I was going to accomplish that goal, I needed to educate myself on the industry. I needed to take some workshops, soak up some knowledge, learn the ropes and the whos and the hows and the whats of what it took to get published. I didn't know my POV* from my HEA* or my GMC* from my TMI* (don't you just hate acronyms? They make you feel so stupid). I didn't know how to plot, or how to write a query letter or what the heck a synopsis was (other than a noun that meant a "summary").

Now, six years later, my first novel is less than two months away from showing up on the shelves of major bookstores everywhere. I'm going to be able to walk into Borders, Barnes&Noble, Books-A-Million, Chapters... heck, even Wal-Mart and Target... and see my work on the shelves. It's mindboggling. Right now, I have three books under contract, and several others in the works. I'm truly blessed.

The moral here is that if you want something bad enough, go out and get it. Don't wait for it to come to you. Put in the time, put in the effort, grit your teeth, and go for it. It ain't gonna happen otherwise.

See you when I get back from Dallas!

*Acronyms explained:
POV = Point of view (a character's viewpoint)
HEA = Happily ever after (necessary for romance, not necessary for non-romance)
GMC = Goals, motivation, conflict (always necessary, regardless of genre)
TMI = Too much information (never necessary, also known as "telling" instead of "showing")

Monday, July 02, 2007

Winners of the "Wedding Stories From Hell" Contest!

Well, I thought I'd attended a few bad weddings in my day, but you guys take the (wedding) cake! I had a hard time choosing the winner of the worst/best "wedding from hell" story, until TIANNA sent in this one:

When I was 25, my best friend’s wedding was a fiasco. Her brother-in-law tried to french kiss me in front of my husband who had a fit and threatened to use his military training to do major damage.

The bride and groom waltzed across the dance floor gracefully, until he dipped her deeply and promptly dropped her. Afterward, the groom got drunk and urinated in a potted plant on the edge of the dance floor and his pants fell around his ankles. Afterward, everyone had a blast telling the bride of his insufficiencies.

The mother of the bride spent hours before the ceremony wrapping rice in lace so all one had to do was untie the ribbon and throw the rice. Many people chose to throw little rice missiles at the couple, giving the bride a black eye. She fell against the groom when hit with the rice, pushed him down the steps of the hotel and he broke his leg. They spent their wedding night in the hospital and their dream trip, a honeymoon in Hawaii, was cancelled.

TIANNA is the winner of an autographed ARC of DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY, and has my thanks for making me laugh so hard my stomach hurt! But there were a couple of other really good stories, too, so I've decided to award both OLIVIA and SHEILA with autographed cover flats and other goodies from me and fellow Avon authors Julia Quinn, Jenna Peterson and Kerrelyn Sparks.

Olivia's story about about an unfortunately cake-cutting incident made me cringe (talk about adding insult to injury!):
Posed with knife in hand, the bride and groom smiled at each other while the photographer angled for that perfect shot. The cake was a glorious creation with four tiers towering over a bubbly water fountain. Three more tiers of cake stood on either side with miniature bridesmaids and groomsmen lined up on bridges reaching from the main cake. Real flowers adorned the sides and floated in the fountain.

The groom moved, slipped, and fell into the table.

The guests watched in horror as the top tiers of the cake seemed to slowly shift off the towering pillars, slide into one of the side cakes and crash to the floor.

I was not a wedding guest, but the caterer who had made the cake, too. Then the brides mother had the gall to blame us that the cake was set up incorrectly and demanded a refund.

While SHEILA'S sharing of her not-so-intimate honeymoon experience made me giggle for days!
My husband-to-be and I were poor as poor could be. My father offered to set up his camper at a nice state park. At about 3:00 in the afternoon on a bright Florida day, we arrived at our beautiful honeymoon spot in a car clearly marked with "just married". Other campers were enjoying the afternoon and the park was full. We raced inside and consummated our vows only to discover my father hadn't put down the stabilizers. So the camper had shaken from side to side. When we walked outside, the entire campground clapped.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered for sharing your wedding stories from hell! Tianna, Olivia and Sheila - your goodies are in the mail!