Monday, 27 April 2009

Soft Pink and Baby Blue

I like those colours. Maybe not in my house, but I don't scream and run away when I see them. From what I heard lately in the publishing world, book covers in pink and baby blue had lost their lustre.

After Bridget Jones and The Devil Wears Prada, the explosion of Chick Lit produced a plethora of pink dresses, stiletto pumps and shopping bags. Hollywood and television followed suit with shows and movies about 'women in the big city'.

Eventually publishers started to cringe at the term.
Agents began to discourage submissions of chick lit novels.

Has the genre run its course in New York? Maybe. But hang on. Evidence suggests it's still strong elsewhere.
Kristin Nelson's blog touched on the continuing popularity of humorous contemporary women's fiction in the UK. Perhaps NY will take a second look if they see something fresh.

Yesterday, I walked around my local Chapters bookstore (while constantly checking to see if Bad Ice was nice and comfy on its shelf), and noticed there were still a healthy number of books with funky lettering and pastel covers. I've read a few - Marian Keyes for example, and was delighted at the depth of the stories. I still re-read Bridget Jones on occasion.

Chick Lit isn't all selfish urban twenty-somethings running around wreaking havoc in the big city. There are lots of intelligent, character-driven stories out there -- tender, sexy and full of laughs.
I would hate for Chick Lit to die just because of a few spoiled brats. Perhaps it just needs a different name.

Image: I borrowed this from The Gardeners Glove. What pretty artwork from C. Dianne Lieber.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I'm Allowed to be a Couch Potato

As some of you know, I only recently began the journey to publication. Like a lot of authors, I slaved away at a full time job and raised a couple of kids (and a husband) for twenty or so years before deciding to put my fingers to keyboard. As a result, my 'butt in chair' path converged with my 'middle age' path.

In my younger years I was fairly active, running after toddlers or running after sales reps. I crawled under desks to help hook up printers, I walked my kindergarteners to school because we had no bus service. I hacked away at weeds and mowed the lawn. I even hand-sawed a fallen tree because I was deathly afraid of chain saws.

I camped, I canoed, I biked and I hiked. I took horseback riding lessons. I wandered the streets, taking photographs of anything that took my fancy.

And then something happened. Was it the technological age? Was it the fact that my kids were growing into video game-playing homebodies? Was it a feeling of defeat, knowing that the mess would always pile up behind me, the weeds would keep growing, the wood would keep rotting?

I stopped. Stopped walking, riding, schlepping. I spent my free time networking, typing, plotting. At the same time, the dreaded Menopause (I like to call it Mentalpause) reared its head and declared an end to anything resembling metabolism.

Suddenly, I had a gut. Where the Hell did that come from? I didn't eat fried pork chops as a midnight snack. I passed up the drippy, sugary butter tarts my co-worker brought to the office. My family consumed a gallon of ice cream before I even noticed it in the freezer. What was happening?

I decided something had to be done. So last week I joined my fellow Production ladies at the newspaper and suited up for a Lunch Time Power Walk. I thought my leather loafers would be sufficient for the job, but I was mistaken.

We set off to walk around a small lake at a local park. Suzanne set a blazing pace from the start. She's older than me, but she's very fit. She's been hitting the gym for the last year or so. She led the pack, her legs pumping efficiently. Mariella and Rebecca kept up easily. Mariella's been visiting the gym too, and Rebecca is still at that fortunate child-chasing age.

I tried to keep up, really I did. My feeble excuse is my short legs. With each stride they took, I had to take a stride and a half. They had six cylinders and I only had four. Therefore I had to work harder. Old ladies were passing me.

By the time we returned to the office, I had two blisters and a cherry-red face. When I stopped walking, my legs felt six inches shorter.

I was a little sore the next day, but the experience encouraged me to try again today. This time I wore proper footwear. We made good time but I wasn't much faster. Suzanne graciously slowed her pace so I wouldn't have to keep running to catch up. I ate a Lean Cuisine microwave meal afterward, and I'm convinced I burned more calories than I consumed.

So, I'm putting my feet up tonight without a speck of guilt. So there.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Anatomy of a Book Signing

Well, I did it.

9:00 a.m. Took a shower and tried to force my hair into some kind of order. Gave up and let it air dry.

11:00 a.m. Thought about eating but had no desire whatsoever.

12:00 p.m. Changed outfits four times. I decided to wear a sexy pair of stilleto half-boots to make myself taller (I'm 5'2").

12:45 p.m. Dropped the kids off at the mall and frantically searched through Zellers for last minute mints or Easter treats to give out. The package of chocolate eggs was ten bucks! In lieu of mints, I bought gum in case my mouth started to feel like a sewer.

1:30 p.m. Zipped over to Chapters and carried everything in one trip: Two shopping bags, purse, laptop, and box containing books, maple cookies, business cards, flyers, framed book cover, stuffed blue and white dog. It was heavy. I almost lost my grip and the blast of wind in the parking lot ruined any semblance of hair organization.

1:45 p.m. Sweating buckets from the trip across the parking lot, I unpacked everything and chatted with the manager. Signed my consignment agreement (45% goes to the bookstore!) for 16 books because my additional shipment of ten copies never arrived.

2:00 p.m. I hear a voice behind me, and it's my sister Cathy! She hangs out and chats up the customers with me. I heart my sister.

2:15 p.m. My first customer! A white-haired gentleman approached and said, "I'm here for your book."

I didn't even have to chat him up! I was so excited I handed him a book and said, "Thanks!"

He looked at me and said, "Aren't you going to sign it?"

Oops. I signed it for his daughter, and my sister took our picture.

Immediately afterward, Dawn Brown arrived. She's a member of my writers group (Romance Writers Unlimited) and she's published with my first publisher, The Wild Rose Press. It felt great hugging an online friend for real, not just with a little Smiley.

Jim, the manager, had advised me to stand in front of the table and connect with as many people as possible. I got lots of nods and smiles, and a few stopped to look over the back cover of Bad Ice. Some took flyers containing an overview and reviews, some took cards. Some asked me where the Children's Section was, or where they could find little Easter Egg cups. I happily complied.

3:00 p.m. My feet started to hurt.

3:15 p.m. A boy approached shyly and asked me the price of a book about the Montreal Canadiens. I checked the inside of the jacket and told him. Glancing up, I made eye contact with his mother and she smiled back.

Later, the boy and his mother were browsing a table behind me. I noticed the boy still had the Canadiens book in his hand, so I went up to them and told them my dad helped renovate the Montreal Forum when I was a kid.

The boy was impressed. We talked more about hockey, and I told them about the time my mom lost the autograph Maurice "Rocket" Richard gave her when I was born. I mentioned the premise of Bad Ice. The mom took the bait. She asked if it was for adults and I told her yes. She said she'd buy a book.

While I was signing it, the boy said, "Mom, don't lose that book."

I asked, "Why, because I'll be famous some day?"

He responded, "No, because when I get older, I want to read it."

3:30 p.m. My friend Trish came with her two daughters. She bought a book and insisted on a unique caption with my signature. I almost wrote something TMI regarding her recent surgery. Instead, I wrote, "Keep your stick on the ice."

Later, an elderly fellow asked if he could have one of my cookies. I told him yes, and he took three. Then he took a handful of chocolates and started eating. As milk chocolate collected around his lips, he cheerfully told me about the unmarked police car at the rear of the bookstore, stopping motorists by hiding behind a dumpster.

He didn't buy a book.

3:45 p.m. My kids walked over from the mall, laden with Easter treats they bought themselves because I had neither the time nor the inclination. I suppose I have to reimburse them.

4:00 p.m. I reluctantly started to pack up in spite of the bookstore's willingness to let me stay longer. Since it was a day sandwiched between two holidays, I had to decline since I still had errands to run before the stores closed. The time passed so quickly!

Olga, the events manager, took six books for the shelves and promised to put Signed By Author stickers on them. I thanked her for the experience and left a basket of cookies for the cashiers.

Note to self: Do NOT wear three inch heels to a book signing. I could barely walk from the car to the house.

7:00 p.m. Ordered Chinese Food and watched the last Toronto Maple Leaf game of the season. They won.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

One Week To Go

Yes, folks! My first book signing!

If anyone is in the Southern Ontario vicinity, please join me at Chapters bookstore at 17440 Yonge Street, Newmarket on Saturday, April 11th from 2 to 4 p.m.

I'll be signing a limited number of copies of my hockey themed romantic suspense, Bad Ice.
It is during the Easter Weekend. Hopefully, people will be suffering from Good Friday shopper's withdrawal and will pack the store.

There will be cookies.