Wednesday, April 29, 2009
When she first approached me, I thought, what the heck am I going to say to the Rotary Club? I'm a romance writer, not a business person.
This past week spent at RT definitely showed me how wrong I was there. Writing IS a business. And to succeed, you not only have to have a good product, you have to know how to market it and yourself.
So I thought I'd give my speech today on perseverance and overcoming rejection. Those are 2 topics any writer can talk about at length. Maybe even for days. Right?
So wish me luck. I'll leave you with this little ditty I found while surfing the net.
"This girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level."
No, that isn't more reviews of Bunco Babes Tell All from Publishers Weekly. It's an editorial quote about a book that was rejected 16 times before Doubleday finally bought it in 1952. Today, there are over 30 million copies of it in print making it one of the best selling books in history, as well as required reading in many high schools. It's "The Diary of Anne Frank."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
So... Thursday at RT finally rolls around, and it's time for my Bunco Babes Bash. It's the main reason I'm here at the Romantic Times Convention and I've been nervously preparing for weeks now. Will anyone come? And if they do come, will they learn how to play Bunco in just a few minutes? And will they like it?
There was no need to worry. The whole thing was a smashing success (if I do say so myself!) These ladies (and 1 guy) were fantastic. I'll definitely be doing this again soon.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
So, I'm back from the Romantic Times Convention. A good time was defintely had by me. And I think by all I was around as well.
At the moment, my house is a complete mess. It's filled with the remnants of RT- all the leftover stuff from my Bunco Bash (which I'm happy to say was a complete success!) as well as an assortment of this and that and a huge bag of dirty laundry. Today is catch up day. I'm going to put everything away, go to the grocery store and do some revisions on my proposal for Bunco Babes Back in Action so that I can send them off to my lovely agent this week.
As for my RT adventures, I'm going to have them dole them out bit by bit, because really, the whole experience was so... big that I can't blog about it in just one day. So here goes...
RT Day One- Tuesday (before the conference even begins...)
Having met up with Mel the evening before, caught up on our talking, discovered that NO you really can't get internet in your hotel room despite Wyndham personnel assuring me that you can, I get a decent night's sleep. Mel takes off to spend the day with an old high school chum and I go off to explore my surroundings. I get to the convention center and it's in full chaos mode. Jo Carol, the RT conference coordinator is orchestrating a room full of women who are stuffing bags full of various goodies- T-shirts, pens, cups, bookmarks, etc... This is all making me very nervous. Did I bring enough promotional items? Probably not...
I introduce myself to Jo Carol. Despite the fact that she's extremely busy, she is very gracious and offers to take me to her office so she can get me a list of the number of people who have RSVP'd to my party as well as provide me a schematic of the room. While waiting for Jo Carol I meet Pat Simmons (another extremely gracious lady) who besides being an author, apparently acts as a media liaison for RT. Her exact role confuses me, but she's looking for authors to do a TV promo in the morning. I practically jump up and down. But she's looking for an angle. She wants to present an international theme to the media. One author standing next to me has come from Egypt. The other one from Canada. "Where are you from?" she asks me. "Um, north Florida," I say brightly. This does not impress Pat. "By way of Cuba," I offer. Nope. Doesn't impress her either. "Do you have a costume?" she asks. I can barely shake my head no. "Well, show up anyway," she says cheerfully.
I vow not to let Pat down. I WILL get on TV, damn it. No matter what.
So I get in my car and lo and behold, there's a costume shop across the street! Imagine that. These people have no idea there's a virtual gold mine of costume lovin' customers just a few hundred yards away. I run inside and ask the sales clerk if she has any fuzzy dice hats. Now, of course I have access to the most perfect fuzzy dice hat in the world. But where is it? Yep, you guessed. It's in Tallahassee, Florida. Why didn't I bring it? No matter. Can't cry about spilled milk now. The sales clerk frowns at me. She has no fuzzy dice hats.
I glance around the shop. There's this big pink fuzzy looking thing hanging from the ceiling. My eyes bug out. "I'll take the pimp hat!"
"Pimp hat?" she responds weakly.
"Yep, the pimp hat," I say.
She gets a ladder and pulls it down and then starts to laugh. "You're right," she says, pointing to the sales label on the hat. "It says 'pimp hat'.
I nod. I know a pimp hat when I see one. So I buy it. Along with these very cool looking zebra print sunglasses. I'm all set now for my morning TV slot. After all, what can upstage my pimp hat?
I'll tell you what can upstage my pimp hat. A singing mermaid and 3 pirates. Yep. The following morning I walk into the welcome breakfast where a crowded room is all staring at a woman in mermaid costume singing soprano. The pirates surrounding her are apparently her entourage. I giggle and simultaneously curse myself. My camera is back in my hotel room. No one is going to believe this.
After breakfast, I run to the lobby to meet Pat and the media. There must be at least 2 dozen other authors, most in costume. But no one has a pimp hat. Ha! So we all file into a room, where to my horror, I discover the singing mermaid and her pirate entourage. They too, are going to be on TV. So the media people want the mermaid splayed across this table, her pirate-lovers around her, and the rest of us are to file in to fill in the picture.
If you watch closely enough, you'll get a split second shot of my pimp hat somewhere in the back of the group shot. I'm somewhere underneath that hat. Click on Video: RT Booklovers Convention.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
After spending the weekend putting together little goodie bags, packing (and semi-panicking because I felt totally unprepared for RT, despite the fact that I've known I would be going for at least 6 months), I woke up bright and early Monday morning and set off to my monthly visit with Krystal at Red Hots. Krystal is the lovely chick who does my hair. Normally, I would never wait to get my roots done the day I'm leaving to go on a trip, but Krystal got married last week and was off work for awhile (as in right in the middle of my root touch up cycle). But I toughed it out and got Krytal's first appointment Monday morning on her first day back from her honeymoon.
Roots touched up- check!
While the dye was in my hair she also managed to wax my eyebrows, my upper lip, AND give me a quickie manicure. (I clearly need to learn something from Krystal's time management skills)
Hair from upper lip- Gone!
Bushy eyebrows shaped up- check!
After my morning at Red Hots, I then detoured to the mail store, where I sent out the last of my ARCS for Bunco Babes Tell All and rush home, ready to get on the road. But then I realize that if I left right away I'd be getting into Orlando at the height of rush hour traffic. I-4 at rush hour is not a place I want to be, so I decided a power nap was in store. This is a firm rule of mine. If the opportunity for a mid-day nap presents itself, I never turn it down. Good thing, too. I needed all my strength just to load up my car. Thank God I have a mini-van. Honestly, I don't know where I would have put all this stuff. Most of it is for my Bunco Babes Bash, but still, if I was flying, I'd be in big trouble (because believe me, I wouldn't have shipped off this stuff to the hotel in time. I know I just wouldn't have).
After an uneventful drive, I get into the Wyndham Convention Center around 8:30. It was perfect timing. No heavy traffic on I-4. The tourists, however, are a different story. There's plenty of them crawling along the sidewalks of International Drive, so I take extra precautions and slow down. Because running someone over would be the sure way to ruin my first RT trip. You know?
Orlando tourists safe from Maria's car- check!
The convention center is huge. It could be Orlando's next theme park. You need a golf cart just to get to your room. Luckily, I have my own car. So the woman at the desk gives me a map to find my way around. I get lost twice (yes, twice) just trying to find the friggin building that houses my room. In my normal everyday life, I average getting lost at least once a day. And this is in a city I've lived in for 12+ years. So this does not bode well for me already...
I get to my room, where Mel has already put first dibs on the bed by the window, which is fine with me, cuz that means I get the bed closest to the bathroom (he he). We hug and jump around for a bit and marvel that we haven't seen each other since August. Talking daily just doesn't cut it. We vow then that one of us must hit the New York Times and make a mint so that we can afford a beach house retreat.
Vow to hit New Times List- done!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
I know I've blogged about this before. I must have. Because honestly, these pomegranate margaritas are simply the best. Mary, a friend and fellow Bunco Broad, served these up at our December Bunco last year. They were a huge hit. Absolutely delicious. I loved them so much I made them at Christmas time (perfect with the red color!) and I made them for my friend Beth's wedding shower (whose wedding I'm going to today. Yay!)
In my Bunco Babes series, one of my characters, Shea Masterson, has a secret frozen margarita recipe she doesn't share with anyone (it's so secret, even I don't know it).
But I digress. I'm not as selfish as Shea. I will gladly share this awesome recipe (which, by the way, comes from Southern Living- the mecca of all that's holy in my book)
NOT SO SECRET POMEGRANATE FROZEN MARGARITAS
about 32 cups
6 cups white tequila
12 cups water
4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
2 cups pomegranate juice (we tested with POM)*
1 1/2 cups Triple Sec
2 (10-ounce) cans frozen margarita mix, thawed
2 (11.5-ounce) cans frozen cranberry juice cocktail, thawed and undiluted
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen limeade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
Light corn syrup
Coarse sparkling sugar
Combine first 8 ingredients in a very large plastic container. Cover and freeze at least 24 hours or until slushy.
Pour a small amount of corn syrup onto a flat plate. Pour coarse sugar onto another plate. Dip rims of margarita glasses in corn syrup; dip each glass into sugar. Pour margaritas into prepared glasses.
Freezer Note: For more convenient storage, divide Pomegranate Margaritas among zip-top freezer bags.
*Find pomegranate juice year-round in the produce section of your local grocery store.
Kelley Wilton, Christmas With Southern Living 2006, Oxmoor House, JUNE 2006
Maria's note: the coarse sugar/corn syrup rim for your glass is the best!
I must admit to having a secret stash of this luscious drink. The last time I made them, I had some leftover so I placed it in a large zip lock storage bag in my freezer. Thank God. Because I needed me some margarita tonight. This past week has been incredibly busy and stressful. I worked at the hospital the past 3 nights and it's been uber crazy. Has everyone in Tallahassee given birth over the past 3 days? Sure seems like it. To top that off, I've been trying to get everything ready for my Romantic Times Convention Bunco Bash. Thank God I'm now off for 2 weeks and can concetrate on the rest of my life. So I sat down tonight and watched about 4 hours of TV I'd DVR'd, including my fix of American Idol.
And to that, can I just say, WHAT THE HELL is America thinking??? I cannot believe they voted Matt off! I just don't get it. I mean, yes, I love Adam and Danny and Allison, but honestly. How Lil and Anoop (as loveable as Anoop is) are still there is beyond me. Thank God the judges had the sense to override the vote. For the first time ever, they saved a contestant and Matt will be back! Bad news is 2 contestants will have to go home next week. But I don't care. If the judges's save will give me one more week of Matt, then so be it. Maybe he can make a come back. All I know is, ever since I heard him sing "Georgia" back in Hollywood week, he's been my favorite.
So after all the drama of Simon pretending that Matt was going home and Paula and Randy and Kara begging Simon to keep Matt, I had to chug down some pomegranate margarita. Yay for zip lock storage bags!
Next Tuesday, I'll be in Orlando at the Romantic Times Convention. But wherever I am at the time, you can be sure when it comes time to vote, I'll be whipping that cell phone out and putting in my vote for Matt.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Easter as an adult, however, has a totally different meaning. If there's one religious holiday that gets me choked up, this is it. It's redemption, celebration and hope all rolled into one. It's the answer to what happens next. Life's big sequel.
Today, we'll wake up, the kids will check out their Easter goodies (yep, I still do that, even though they're all WAY past the age of believing in the Easter Bunny), go to mass and have a huge family dinner and laze around the house. Then at 8pm we'll tune in for tonight's episode of Extreme Makeover which features the Kadzis family- Tallahassee locals, as well as a concert by Stevie Wonder. I've got my box of Kleenex all ready.
Hope your day is just as beautiful!
Friday, April 10, 2009
I'm here to tell you that a girl's best friend is not the vibrator but the Cricut. Take a look at that baby below. It slices. It dices. It does just about everything except, well, you know...
Honestly, it's a blast. It cuts out anything you program it to. Or rather, have a pattern for. As you can see above, my dice look perfectly beautiful. The Cricut belongs to my friend Andrea who uses it for everything. Party favors and games, kid's projects, invitations, stationary, bulletin boards, scrap booking... You name it. The Cricut does it.
So when I told her I had to do a backdrop for my promotional space at RT (Romantic Times Book Convention), Andrea volunteered to help me out. Think of those big background posters you did for your 8th grade science project. Only this one involves dice and romance novels.
Here's the finished product below. I think it turned out fabulous! I think in total, I ended up cutting out at least a hundred dice. Because you never know when you'll need some cardboard dice. Right?
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Actually, it came in a large envelope from Penguin Group, USA (those 3 words start my heart racing), but you know what I mean. What a thrill it was to actually hold my book in my hands!
I feel like Geppetto from Pinocchio.
It's a real live book!
Complete with a cover and cover quote and other fabulous reviews and such. It was so exciting to see my book for the first time. An ARC with a blank cover just isn't the same thing. And while my cover looked fabulous on the computer, it's nothing like seeing the real thing. The colors all blend so beautifully into the back. There's even footprints on the sand (although I'm not sure you can see that in the pic). I love it!
And then to make my day complete, Barbara Vey's WW Book Club reviewed my book. Here's the link from PW: http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/1630042763.html?nid=3383
Here's what Heidi had to say about Bunco Babes Tell All:
"This book had everything for me, sex, romance, laughter, and even a slight mystery, but as they say: "What happens at bunco, stays at bunco!!"
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
For a couple of weeks now I've been struggling (procrastinating) with this little Suessical book I volunteered to write to benefit my daughter's high school drama organization. In case you're not familiar with Suessical! it's a wonderful musical based on the books of Dr. Suess. Mostly "Horton hears a Who!" but there are other Suess characters thrown in for good measure, like the Cat in the Hat, and the Grinch, and Gertrude McFuzz, and so on. My youngest daughter is heavily involved in musical theater and she played Gertrude (the bird with the one feather tail) in her high school's production of the show a couple of weeks ago. She was awesome. The whole production was. It was definitely a proud parent moment:) My parents came up to see the show and they were completely awed!
Lest you think this should be a piece of cake, let me assure you, it's not. I have a totally brand new respect for Dr. Suess. Do you know how hard it is to write in rhyme??
On the seventh of April, in her desk in Tallahassee,
Maria discovered she wasn't so sassy...
I'll get it done! I promise, said she,
Nothing will stop me, not elephant nor flea...
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Unfortunately, my sore back isn't the only ouchie in my life. To make matters worse, I found this review from Publisher's Weekly in my inbox:
Bunco Babes Tell All Maria Geraci. Berkley, $14 paper (336p) ISBN 9780425227589
A north Florida realtor with an abysmal romantic history continues her quest for a suitable man in Geraci’s formulaic debut. Kitty Burke is the only single gal in her circle of friends who get together every week to gossip, play dice and drink. But then she meets Steve, a plumber and multiple divorcé who seems like a horrible Mr. Right, but an excellent Mr. Right Now. As Kitty’s personal life heats up, her professional life does, too: she is offered a chance to broker a new condo development, something that will be very unpopular in her town, but very good for her pocketbook. Things, however, are not as they seem, in love or business. While genre fans will feel at home with Kitty, who is attractive, somewhat successful and, like her pals, full of quirks, her story is woefully unoriginal. This disposable diversion’s good for a few laughs, but not much more. (May)
I mean, ouch and double ouch! I've had a couple of pretty awesome reviews for my book and I knew that chances were, I'd have a couple of bad ones too because it's part of the business, but I have to say, this one really hurt. Publishers Weekly is a highly respected magazine and although they're not always romance friendly, I was hoping for something a bit better. The part about "good for a few laughs" did ease the sting some. I mean, do you know how hard it is make people laugh?
I read it again. And again. And then something occurred to me.
Things, however, are not as they seem.
Was this some sort of hidden message? Was I missing something here? So I read it a few hundred times more. And that's when I saw it. The real review! How did I miss it the first time around? I've highlighted the words the reviewer put in secret code so you could see what I mean.
A north Florida realtor with an abysmal romantic history continues her quest for a suitable man in Geraci’s formulaic debut. Kitty Burke is the only single gal in her circle of friends who get together every week to gossip, play dice and drink. But then she meets Steve, a plumber and multiple divorcé who seems like a horrible Mr. Right, but an excellent Mr. Right Now. As Kitty’s personal life heats up, her professional life does, too: she is offered a chance to broker a new condo development, something that will be very unpopular in her town, but very good for her pocketbook. Things, however, are not as they seem, in love or business. While genre fans will feel at home with Kitty, who is attractive, somewhat successful and, like her pals, full of quirks, her story is woefully unoriginal. This disposable diversion’s good for a few laughs, but not much more.
Let me put the secret code words together to show you the real review:
Geraci's debut is excellent. Genre fans will feel at home with Kitty, who is attractive, somewhat successful and, like her pals, full of quirks. This very good diversion's good for laughs!
I'm feeling much better now, despite the fact that I'm still walking like an old woman. I just have to be careful with my back for the next few days and keep repeating my favorite quote for Bunco Babes Tell All: Jennifer's roommate's mother loved it!