Tag Archives: Writing

To Oregon with Angela Benedetti

A Hidden MagicYou may recall from other squeeful posts that I adore Angela Benedetti as PMSing women love chocolate. Her books A Hidden Magic and Emerging Magic are my definitions of kick-ass urban fantasy. Why yes, I adore me some Rory and Paul.

I also adore me some Manny, who doesn’t have his own story (yet), but plays a mean secondary role here, and Angie’s been working hard on getting his story told. I’m ready to read.

EmergingMagic185So… I am on my way to Portland, OR, where I will be spending some time with Angie, in Lincoln City on the coast, taking a course with Dean Wesley Smith, who is a guru of publishing and writing and all. I expect Angie and I will learn many things about writing and publishing, plus having a hellagood time. I haven’t seen Angie in meatspace since GayRomLit in New Orleans, so she needs to be prepared to get glomped. (Yes, I bear a curious resemblance to a happy St. Bernard. Hope I don’t knock her all the way over.)

The trouble with getting from Denver to Portland is that it requires an airplane. While being a miracle of planet shrinkage, and way faster than Conestoga wagons, air travel has its own set of pitfalls. I’m prepared to sit in a flying pilchard tin for a couple of hours, but I kind of expect the trip to be a lot like this.

Good thing I have a Kindle filled with superior m/m adventures like Angie’s Sentinel series.

Diss at your own risk

I’ve been reading my way through the comments at Dear Author, where the current topic is how indie bookstores have contributed to their poor health or demise by blatant disrespect to their bread-and-butter customers. Where in the world is it good business to sneer at customers who come in regularly, spend substantial sums, and ask only that what they want be in stock? My heart breaks for every romance reader who’s felt the need to turn the books face down at the register or cringed under a clerk’s assessment of her reading choices. Note to bricks and mortar stores everywhere: online booksellers don’t shame the customers, no matter what they’re buying.

My own formerly favorite bookstore managed to destroy my enjoyment of the shopping experience there. And I *loved* this bookstore, or more accurately, I loved the proprietor. Let’s call her Becky.

Tucked away in a tiny storefront in a strip mall, this bookstore was presided over by a cheerful, book-loving gal who made a point of remembering my name. If I brought a book or two or three to the counter, she’d beam, and say, “You might like this one too.” Nine times out of ten, I bought it, and yes, I loved it. “I’m in the mood for *fill in the genre or mood*” and she’d hand me something I might not have picked up on my own.

If I came in for a book on a specific subject, she might or might not have it, but if it came through, she’d call me. She handsold her books like nobody’s business–I seldom left without spending at least $50, and hit three digits more than once. In a used bookstore. Most of the reference books that went into Donal agus Jimmy came to me through Becky’s hands.

If she didn’t have it (I’m thinking of fiction for my sons’ classes, where the city had been cleaned out two hours before either of them informed me of the need), she’d find it. “Set it back for Pam,” she told her cross-town colleagues more than once. “She’s on her way.” How else do you pay a bookseller back for that, except by buying more books?

She took an interest in my writing, and offered ideas for events and sales that would have benefited us both. I didn’t have paper books then, but I had a date for my release. Did I want to do a reading, and maybe bring in another local author or two, make an event of it?

One day I walked in, and Becky wasn’t there. She wasn’t coming back, apparently, and the parting must have been messy, judging from the new clerk’s reaction. Snide comments about her, her ways of doing business, her knowledge. No, he didn’t have the book I wanted, and threw up his hands at the idea of maybe checking in the back. I was the only one in the store at the moment: would it have killed him to look?

Apparently so. For the first time since this bookstore opened, I left with empty hands.

And I haven’t been back. They probably have something I want, or something I need. Something I’d enjoy. I’ve eaten lunch in the Chinese restaurant next door, and *looks around guiltily* tapped into their internet over the wonton soup. But I haven’t gone in and I’ve bought my books elsewhere.

All because I was made to feel ashamed of liking the bookseller. She’s in another city hundreds of miles away, and I’d buy my books wherever she’s working were it feasible. I don’t know who had the right of it in this parting of the ways, but I know that I, as the customer, should not have been exposed to the seamy underside of the business.

And I miss Becky with my whole book-buying self.

Gone Berserk at the Bookstore

There’s a new used bookstore in my area, always a good thing! Calico Books is bright, shiny, well organized, and stocked with everything from paranormal romance to non-fiction about shipwrecks. Becky, the proprietor, has a smile for everyone, remembers names and preferences, hunts books down if she doesn’t have them, and generally puts a new pleasure into shopping for words.

Walking in there is a little dangerous, because I can find more books to bring home than I can carry. In fact, on my last trip, I denuded one shelf, left huge gaps in another, and left a wish list, too, all because of what happened on my last shopping trip there. You know how it goes — find something interesting, read it and then need to know more, which leads to more book buying.

For those of you wondering how or if I’ll have time to write, with all these tempting new purchases, fear not. Becky thought she sold me some books, but what I really bought is plot bunnies.

Off to do some research for the next story!

First Readers, I Love You

The last of my first readers are reporting in, and I am rewriting in small chunks where I see I’ve failed to make a point. When an intelligent woman points and says, “Huh?” I have to reexamine how I got that reaction. Fortunately, there haven’t been many.

I love my first readers — they keep me from going completely off course. They provide the reality check that not everyone has access to the contents of my head, and a good thing, too; it’s a tumbled, rumpled jackdaw’s nest in there, and not suitable for rummaging through — you’ll get speared by some sharp pointy factoid. Far better for me to provide a selected handful of information, preferably wrapped around a plot and draped over a couple of hot men.

My first readers also provide a microcosm of the wider audience. Everything from “I love your topic” to “I don’t know a thing about this topic but you make it work” to “I love you but the topic is a yawner.” Okay, not everyone is going to bring the same level of enthusiasm to trading in stocks and bonds, although I admit my reaction to that last was “Money isn’t sexy?”

My hedge fund traders think money’s fun, money’s sexy, money’s to be captured in great handfuls, kept, and encouraged to grow. One character even suggests throwing large sums on the floor and rolling in it, which is a fine thought until you meet the ‘rollee’. If I ever win the lottery, I fully intend to do just this thing.

These last bits of rewrite are bitter-sweet; I’ve lived with this project for about a year, and the tweaks have the flavor of adjusting your son’s tie before he puts on cap and gown to fetch his diploma. I’m ready for The Rare Event to launch, yet a bit hesitant to let go.

And may neither son nor story come home to live in the basement.

The Tour de France is Over…

Three weeks of bicycle racing swallow the Marital Unit every year. G-d help the person who erases a segment off the Tevo. I am treated to endless discussions of hors categorie climbs, time trials, GC candidates and everything Lance. He wishes he’d been motivated earlier in his life; he’d have been a contender.

Nothing for it but to write a story that involved bicycle racers. Funny, I only work on it during July. This is year 3.