Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Looking For An Agent?

You should be looking for a partner.

Four agents talk about the business of writing at the 2009 Romantic Times Convention

Despite the bevy of buff, handsome cover models wandering the halls of the Wyndham Resort in Orlando, Florida during the April 2009 Romantic Times Convention, literary agents Laura Bradford, Christine Witthohn, Lucienne Diver and Miriam Kriss were able to focus on the business of writing itself, and gracious enough to share their wisdom with the rest of us.

While these four agents differed in style, they had similar views on the industry, and what they look for when considering a new client. It’s not just about selling your book— it’s about communication, expectations and professionalism on both sides. The author/agent relationship is a partnership, and like any partnership, nothing to be embarked upon lightly. Many aspiring writers are so eager to get an agent that they fail to do their homework, both when it comes to the technicality of submissions themselves and to what to expect if—or when—a literary agent agrees to work with them. (Read that sentence again, and make sure you recognize the “work with” part.) A good agent is business-minded, professional, and career-focused, and that’s what they expect from you in return.

All four agents gently but firmly emphasized that writers who are thin-skinned, overly demanding, uncooperative about critiques, edits, deadlines or have unrealistic expectations regarding advances and/or publisher support are going to find themselves floundering. Good agents do their best to help their authors manage expectations and hone both their business and their writing skills, earning their 15% commissions through career counseling, advice, informed contract negotiations, and unabashed enthusiasm for your books. They’re your best advocate, and your best chance at getting your works in to the hands of an editor who will love it as much as they do. They are, in short, the “gatekeepers” of the industry, and as such, they have their own professional reputations to maintain with the editors and publishing houses they deal with.

Laura Bradford (far left in the photo) has over fourteen years of experience in the world of books, and formed her own agency, Bradford Literary, in 2001. She acquires and sells all genres of commercial fiction except for inspirational, poetry, screenplays and short stories, and is particularly interested in works that “push the envelope”, as she loves nothing better than to discover the new and different. At the current time, she is particularly interested in historicals, and is happy to accept e-queries (one-page query letter only, no attachments) via email at or a full proposal (query letter, synopsis and first three chapters) via regular mail. Detailed submission guidelines and her mailing address can be found on her website at, along with a list of her current clients.

Christine Witthohn (second from left) began Book Cents Literary Agency in 2006. She’s very interested in contemporary romance, women’s fiction, paranormal romance, mystery and loves young adult novels. She is NOT interested in erotica, category romance, science fiction, inspirational, historicals or the horror genre. She accepts e-submissions only, and prefers two separate attachments to your email, one for the synopsis and one for the manuscript itself. Her email address is and more detailed information about her agency and submission guidelines can be found on her website at

Lucienne Diver (second from right) has been in the literary business for over 16 years, and joined The Knight Agency in 2008 after spending most of her career with Spectrum Literary. She is interested in all genres of commercial fiction, feeling that a great voice and great characters are paramount over genre. She has a particular interest in mystery, suspense, and paranormal, and is fascinated by stories with a psychological or forensic aspect. Lucienne recommends that an author be a “leader”, not a “follower” when it comes to the current trends in the market. Trends change and what might’ve been considered “hot” at the time it sold can be passe by the time it’s actually published. She is happy to accept one-page queries (no attachments) via email at, and will request further material if she has an interest. Detailed guidelines and specifics about Lucienne and The Knight Agency are available on their website at

Miriam Kriss (far right) began her career with Irene Goodman Literary Agency in 2004. She represents all genres of commercial fiction, and all genres of romance except for inspirational. At the moment she has a particular interest in young adult, but she only takes on clients whose voice she is passionate about. Miriam urges aspiring authors to recognize that no agent enjoys rejecting an author’s work, and that true professionals will do their best not to take rejections personally. She recommends a fascinating online article called “Slushkiller” to help them gain perspective on the process. Miriam accepts e-queries (query letter, first 10 pages and a synopsis) at More detailed information about Miriam and the Irene Goodman Literary Agency can be found at
*Terri Garey is very happily represented by her current agency, Jane Rotrosen Agency, LLC, but feels very strongly that it’s good karma to share as much information about the industry as she can, particularly when she’s fortunate to attend a convention swarming with a bevy of buff, muscular cover models. She is a two-time RITA finalist and the winner of the 2008 RITA Award for Best First Book, as well as the winner of the 2008 PRISM Award. Visit her on the web at or

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Costumes and Cover Models - a quick wrap-up of the 2009 Romantic Times Convention

Now that I'm home from the Romantic Times Conference, I wanted to share a few of the highlights. (I wish I had more photos for you, but most of them were taken with my friend Janice's camera, and we took so many that she hasn't had time to upload them all yet!) Here's a few, though:

Here I am with my friends Janice Lynn and Mona Risk before the craziness of the conference truly began. (Don't we look well-behaved?) I have to give a special shout-out to Mona's husband, Sam, who is quite literally one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet (and quite debonair, too, I might add!)

Right after this photo was taken, we ran into cover model Jimi Gaskin, who was kind enough to guest blog with us last year on my group blog, Writers At Play. Jimi was absolutely one of the sweetest and most wholesome of the Mr. Romance competitors (the poor guy blushes every time you pay him a compliment, and believe me, he got LOTS of compliments!) We ran into him several times during the conference, and couldn't resist getting a few photos of him in Spartan gear at the "Gods of Midnight" party!

And speaking of the Gods of Midnight party, Janice and I had an absolutely fabulous time there playing "Musical Cover Models", which is pretty much the equivalent of Musical Chairs, only there were Spartans sitting in the chairs (I say "we", but I was just the official photographer that evening, while Janice did her best to sample every warriors' lap!) Here she is in Rodney Chatman's lap (Mr. Romance 2006), and here she is on the right with Jeremy Rivenburg (who won 3rd runner-up in the Mr. Romance competition). But the photo that she forced me to stay up until after 1:00 in the morning to get (seriously!) was this one of her below with Mr. Romance 2002, Jimmy Thomas. I must admit that it was well worth the wait, as I honestly think he was by far the best-looking guy there! (considering that my main man, Andrei Claude, did not attend this year.) Wah!

(Still, it was hard to be disappointed when you're in a room full of gorgeous men wearing little but gladiator outfits.) LOL

And then there were the other costume parties, which we enjoyed immensely. Here we are below at the Seelie and UnSeelie Faery ball. Janice was a good fairy (which made her a Seelie), while I was the bad fairy in the pink and black (which made me an UnSeelie).I'm not sure which one of us had more fun, but I think it was me, because let's face it... ghouls just wanna have fun! :-) Even my wings looked evil, didn't they? Janice's wings were black which made them nearly impossible to photograph in the dark room, and her dress was a flowy brown confection. Check out the wings tattooed on her face! Trust me, she was every inch the feminine, delicate fairy girl!

LuckilLuckily for me, handsome elf and Legolas look-alike, legendary cover model C.J. Hollenbach, didn't seem to mind hanging out with a bad fairy! Yes, that is C.J.'s real hair, which is long and blonde. He was absolutely adorable, and such a gentleman (a hunky, muscular, gorgeous gentleman!) Here I am on the right with author J.A. Konrath, whose wings were rather... um... tiny, and strapped on with green duct tape. LOL Luckily, his sense of humor was huge!

The following night was the Vampire Ball, and I had tremendous fun dressing up as a vampire Goth chick, and having absolutely no one recognize me! (Hey, I'm a Halloween kind of girl - what can I say??) I wish I had the photos of Janice and me together, because she looked absolutely gorgeous. Sadly, all I have on my camera was this close-up of her shoes (notice the zipper up the heel). My friends and "shoe-a-holics" Tawny and Anna would've been eating their hearts out over those babies!

Anyway, a fabulous time was had by all, and I just couldn't wait to share. Which of these photos is your favorite? Which of these guys do you think is the cutest?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Off To The Romantic Times Convention!

I'm SO excited this morning, because I'm off to attend the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, held this year in Orlando, Florida! I've heard about this wild and wacky four-day event for years, but I've never been able to attend. This year, Orlando being only a short drive away from where I live, I was absolutely determined not to miss it.

Being an RT virgin, so to speak :-), I'm not entirely sure what to expect (except for lots of fun!)

I begin the day with a short drive to the Orlando airport to pick up dear friend, Janice Lynn, who has promised to show me the ropes. Once Janice and arrive and get settled into our room, we'll be attending workshops, publisher spotlights and editor panels.

I have some publisher-related functions to attend, beginning with the Avon "Paranormal Party" on Thursday, April 23rd! From 2:00-2:30p, you can tune in live on the Internet (by clicking the graphic to the right or the link above) and hear me and my Avon author "ghoulfriends" talk about vampires, werewolves and all things spooky. The call-in number for the show is 347-826-9686, and we'll be taking questions, so please give a listen! After that, on Thursday at 5:00p, I'll be attending the Avon "Dusk to Dark" cocktail party, and signing copies of my latest release, You're the One That I Haunt! There will be another signing on Saturday, April 25th, at the giant Book Fair at the Orlando Wyndham Resort (open to the public), with hundreds of other authors in attendance! Immediately following the signing, I'll be doing a video book excerpt for Romantic Times Magazine, where I'll be reading from my current book and spending a few minutes talking about the Nicki Styx series. (*gulp* Wish me luck!)

And then, there are the nightly costume parties! Every single night, conference go-ers go wild and try to outdo each other with their costumes (or so I'm told), each party based on a different theme. On Wednesday night, Janice and I will be attending the Ellora's Cave jungle-themed Fantasy Party, on Thursday night it's the Seelie and Unseelie Faery Ball Dinner and Dance (followed by the Greek Gods of Midnight party, but I'll probably be asleep by then - I'm not much of a night owl), on Friday night it's the Vampire Ball, and on Saturday night it's Splashing By the Sea party! Costumes are not mandatory, and Janice and I will be in the "minimalist" group, I'm sure, though we do have our fairy wings and vampire teeth at the ready!

We'll need to have our vocal cords in good order on Saturday when it's time for the RT BOOKreviews Award Ceremony, so we can cheer for our good friend, Stacey Kayne, whose smokin' hot western hero, Chance Morgan of MAVERICK WILD, is up for a K.I.S.S. award! Hopefully we'll still have some steam left for the 2009 Mr. Romance Cover Model Competition that evening! It'll be a hardship watching those handsome guys strut their stuff, but somebody's gotta do it, and it may as well be me! :-)

Anyway, if you could go to one of the costume parties I mentioned above, which one would it be? Which theme sounds like the most fun? Jungle, fairies, vampires, greek gods, or by the sea? I'll post some pictures here on the blog when the conference is over.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

It's A Paranormal Party!

Mark your calendars for April 23rd, ghoulfriends, because I, along with some of my "ghoulier" Avon friends, will be broadcasting live from during the Romantic Times Convention in Orlando, FL!

AuthorsOnAir is a really cool new radio initiative begun by BlogTalkRadio and Romance Radio, where you can tune in and listen live over the Internet to interviews by some of your favorite authors. If you miss a show, no problem - you can still hear the taped version afterward.

It's much more fun when it's live, though, because you can call in and ask questions! Set yourself an email reminder to tune into the Paranormal Party by clicking here: REMIND ME!

By the way, if you haven't read any of these other spooky authors, you're missing out! NYT best-selling author Jeaniene Frost writes fabulous vampire urban fantasy, Pam Palmer has previously written for Silhouette Nocturne and has a sexy new "feral warrior" series coming out with Avon this summer, Jamie Rush has a new series about the Offspring (psychics with special powers), and Kerrelyn Sparks is the NYT best-selling author of the "Love At Stake" series.

So tune in, listen, and try to avoid being drawn over to the dark side - I dare you!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Thai Me Down!

Do you know what this means?

คนตาย เด็กผู้หญิง เป็น ง่าย

Loosely translated, it's the Thai version of "Dead Girls Are Easy".

And why do we care? :-)

Because I just sold the Thai rights to my first novel, which means Dead Girls Are Easy is going to published in Thailand, of all places! (I can't wait to see what the Thai cover is going to look like - I sure hope I can find an image file when it's released over there.)

At first, I found it very strange that a Thai publisher would be interested in a romantic comedy about ghosts, until I did a little research and found that a belief in ghosts and spirits is an integral part of the Thai culture. Thailand is FULL of stories about hungry ghosts who roam the land, always searching for innocent souls to steal. Apparently, going out after dark in some Thai villages is the same as taking your life in your hands, and taking a baby outside after dark is practically a crime, as ghosts are said to be especially drawn to them. It's fascinating, really.

At any rate, I'm tickled, both by the novelty of having my book reprinted in a foreign language, and by the sale itself!

"Kob-kun-mak, Thailand!" (which means "Thank you very much!")

Friday, April 03, 2009

Say Yes To The Dress

Well, it's official - somewhere along the line, I became a sucker for a beautiful dress. (I think it has something to do with being the youngest of four girls, and wearing a lot of hand-me-downs as a child, none of them particularly flattering, either!)

Last summer, I got the chance to attend a star-studded event (well, stars of the romance writing world, anyway, with stars like Nora Roberts ) because I was up for a RITA, a major award within the industry. Not only did I win the RITA for Best First Book, I got to wear the most beautiful formal gown I'd ever owned, a gorgeous, full-length gold creation that I will probably never wear again! (I mean seriously, where am I going to wear it?)

Anyway, I got a phone call last week from Romance Writers of America, asking if this year, as last year's award recipient, I'd present the RITA award for Best First Book during the RWA annual convention in Washington, DC.

It's quite an honor, but I will be completely honest and tell you that my very first thought was, "YES! I get to wear another beautiful dress!" LOL

And so the hunt begins. I haven't been shopping in the stores yet, but I've been scouting around online, and so far my favorite is this black, one-shoulder gown with a flowy skirt.

Any thoughts?