Tag Archives: blogging

(mis)perceptions #RT12

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a blog which was founded to prove that smart women do read romance, did an excellent wrap up of the RT Booklovers Convention. It was right on target, from the misperceptions about the genre in general, as well as this specific convention in particular, to the unprecedented media coverage of the RT event last week in Chicago thanks to that book which shall not be named. The continued top seller status of  “Voldabook”, as we have begun calling it in my circles, meant there were TV crews there from CNBC and NBC Dateline perpetuating the long standing myths of the romance industry and even creating new ones. I.E., no Voldabook did not reignite the erotica industry and the eReader did not save it. What did happen is that technology finally caught up with consumer demand. eReader devices got better and cheaper and  made it economically feasible for  shorter works to be published, for publishers to take a chance on unknown authors or new and different cutting edge sub-genres, and for authors to self-publish. That all means that a romance reader has more choices, for less money, than ever before in history. It’s not that they can “hide” what embarrassing materials they’re reading, because there have always been decorative book covers that did that very effectively for paperbacks for years, if that was the goal.

Now that the RT dust has settled and my fun blog wrap-ups have been posted, I can get down to reality and post what really happens at RT. As Sarah on Smart Bitches mentions, though I can fault the CNBC piece for crediting THAT book with reigniting the industry in one breath while saying how the RT convention has been happening for decades in the next, and for finding and interviewing one of the small handful of (unknown) male erotica authors at a convention where there were easily hundreds of female authors, some making $1 million a year selling erotica, we really can’t fault CNBC for stripping the 4 male cover models that were actually at the convention and putting them on camera, because sex sells.

Want to know the reality? Part of that CNBC piece was filmed in the lobby at  6 a.m. the morning following the Ellora’s Cave party (which want late into the night). That scene was staged. Those authors milling around the hotel lobby with shirtless male models would not have been there at the crack of dawn otherwise. In reality, those models would have been in the hotel gym in tank tops working out before the start of another long day and night. The B-roll of the dancers and party were shot the night before at the EC party.

Yes, there are models (though one tenth of the number there used to be before the death of the Mr. Romance competition), and there are costumes, and fun and games and drinking and hanging in the lobby bar, but much like high dollar deals are so often made by men on the golf course, there’s that at RT too. I came home with a list of 15 items to do, a document with notes regarding ATF agents and bomb-sniffing dogs and another document full of notes I took at the Mark Coker (Smashwords) session with 11 points on how to top the best seller lists. My to do items included following up with the publicist from Kensington I met at the Kensington party, to send her promo materials to start getting some media attention for my book which doesn’t release until April 2013. It including items discussed at lunch with my editor at Kensington that I need to take care of now, again for that new release a year down the road. It included to do items from a discussion I had with the Samhain author liaison in the bar, to email my Samhain editor regarding my next bull rider series book release. On my list is the session I need to pitch to the RT organizers for next years convention in Kansas City in May 2013, and items to follow up with fellow Western authors regarding a reader event we may try to plan for one of the smaller cons happening later this year. On there was how I need to follow up with cover artists for my self-pubbed backlist, and how I needed to send follow up emails to some of the authors I had discussed a possible collaboration with.

So yes, I did post pictures of me in costume with two shirtless cover models holding big swords while wearing kilts, because readers most likely don’t care about my To Do list, or that this RT was the most productive to date for me professionally. But as CNBC and I both know, sex sells.

here lies insanity

Today I came across two blogs by other authors.

The first was 25 Reasons That Writers are Bug-F*&$ Nuts. It spoke to my soul. Points 4 through 8 were me to a T. As were points 10, 11, 14, 16, and 17. It basically said writers are liars, and loners, messy, insane and misunderstood. And sometimes addicted to caffeine, alcohol or both.

Then there was the second post I read. It was an author writing all about her writing space. She likes to sit in the garden, or on the balcony, and let the birds’ songs make her think of what her characters might be feeling. There’s talk of feng shui and of the importance of an ergonomic chair for proper support in her fixed writing space, I guess for when she wasn’t visiting with the birds in the garden… No judgement here. That’s her and that’s fine.

Here’s me…

I can hear the washing machine running, the closest thing to birdsong is the sound of something metal scratching inside the washer drum–I think there’s a screw rolling around in there with the clothes from the husband’s workpants pocket.

I’m in bed leaning against a pillow with a cat on my legs probably giving me blood clots, and two more cats snoring next to me on the husband’s pillow, and a dog at the end of the bed. No ergonomics here.

It’s a good day. I not only got around to showering (which happens less often than I’m willing to admit), I even remembered to brush my teeth and eat something.

My bedside table, my bedroom being my office 99% of the time when I’m not working standing up at the kitchen counter while something is cooking, contains all the things a working writer needs. Right now mine contains 2 TV clickers, a pad of paper with my To Do list scratched on it and a pen, a napkin from the last meal I ate while on the laptop here in bed, a box of tissues and a box of wine (don’t judge me! It’s a lovely Malbec from Argentina with aromas of chocolate and black cherries and it’s organic!), the house phone, my cell phone, a bottle of water, lip balm, and last but not least a bottle of nighttime cold medicine I’ve been using to put me to sleep at night (I know, that’s bad. I’ve heard it already). The only reason both a coffee mug and a tea cup isn’t there is because I was exhibiting my typical stress behavior and decided to carry them downstairs rather than keep my butt here and keep writing. I also scrubbed the bathtub this morning rather than finish the book I promised an editor would be done last December.

How’s that for feng shui?

I’d say my life is a little closer to the author of blog A than the author of blog B, but hey, if past sales and upcoming book contracts are any indication, it’s working for me so far, so what can I say. To each his own and wouldn’t this be a boring place if we were all exactly the same? Sometimes you need a little crazy.

Cat

the sunday funnies

My, how life has changed. As a child I’d read the comics in the Sunday paper. Nowadays I log into the dashboard of this blog and get a laugh out of the blog comments spammers send. This is the only reason I turn off comments on posts–because of the massive amounts of spam comments. It’s not that I’m not interested in what genuine readers have to say, believe me.

What do spammers get out of it? I haven’t precisely figured that out yet. I think professional spammers somehow monetize how many places they can place someone’s link around the web? Just guessing, but the way they go about it is pretty amusing. Yes, I’ll admit, in the beginning the spammers pissed me the hell off, especially the day I got 200. But now, I just kinda laugh at them and have learned that if I turn off comments on older posts they aren’t as aggressive.

Or perhaps like fine wine, I too am mellowing with age. So just for fun, I bring you some Sunday funnies. For reference these were all (along with about 2 dozen more) placed on the UNPLUGGED post from last week about technology in our lives, not that these random spam commenters know what it was about, nor do they care.

English as a second language… The spammers try, they really do, but the lesson here is you can’t use Google translate without it being pretty obvious. DELETE.

“extremely great publish, i definitely enjoy this internet site, preserve on it”

“This site is my breathing in, rattling superb layout and perfect articles”

The insulters… I’m really not sure how they think insulting the blog author will get their comment posted. Perhaps it’s a bad attempt at being controversial and they think I’m going to publish their comment just so I can contradict them? Ah, silly spammer, this author’s credo is “never engage”. Good try. DELETE.

“I must say, as substantially as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a excellent grasp to the topic matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from more than 1 angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalise so a lot. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just heading for a gut reaction to the topic. Think about adjusting your own thought process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the doubt.”

The flatterers… They’d be great on a blind date perhaps, but just pointlessly and randomly telling me how great my post is does not hide the spammer shining through. Sorry. DELETE.

“You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!”

“I was very pleased to find this web-site. I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.”

The tech support question… They think you’ll be so into helping them solve their problem, you’ll not notice they’re secretly a Link Building Service (which is also their name…hmmm…)

“Alex (Said he knows you) told me that you could help with a “permalink” problem I was having with wordpress.  Can you take a look for me?”

This last one also incorporated use of the personal approach, but unfortunately I don’t know any ‘alex’. Sorry…

The helpful spammers... They’re only here to help me: build my SEO, get more followers from their publicizing me on their sites, make money, etc. How selfless of them. What nice folks… DELETE.

To: Website Owner! I like your WordPress blog and I found your page thru Google so I thought you could make some bank off of this.”

“Hello there, Excellent Blog post! I have just retweeted this valuable post to my followers.”

The completely off topic… Remember this post was even near the topic of cooking.

“Nice twist on the common recipe! Mind if I take some inspiration from this? ;)”

The blatant… these folks don’t even try. Come on… give me something. DELETE.

“100% Free Internet Phone Calls…..  http://www…”

mastering the master

The Art of French Cooking

So I got Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child for Christmas. It’s 684 pages, not counting all the index pages in the back which are numbered with Roman numerals that I can’t decipher because I went to public school. This tome weighs a good ten pounds and though I far outweigh it, it is intimidating the hell out of me.

It’s my own fault, really. When my mother called from the bookstore weeks ago and asked if I would like it for Christmas I said yes. Why? Because I love a good story and the story that surrounds this book of late is a great one.

Julie Powell back in August of 2002 decided to not only cook her way through this book, all 536 recipes in 365 days while holding down a real job, but also to blog about it in what she named ‘The Julie/Julia Project”. But that isn’t the story that gets me, it’s what happens next. She turned that year-long blog into a book, and that book became the Meryl Streep, Amy Adams movie “Julie & Julia” that everyone is talking about. Being a writer, publication stories like that fascinate me. So much so I have googled my tushy off and found the original 2002 blog, and I am reading my way through it, day by day, and totally enjoying it.

Julie is normal. She screws up the recipes, and then tells us about how when that happens, she just adds more butter and cream to try and fix it. She drops the f-word liberally, as anyone would while taking on such a monumental challenge. She calls it like she sees it, wondering at the craziness around her, such as the raw food movement that hits during her cooking experiment, or that she couldn’t find swiss cheese in her regular food store in Brooklyn but she could buy imported Fontina.

I anticipate I will enjoy her real-life blog musings far more than what I am sure is a sanitized for mainstream publishing, edited version that hit the bookshelves. She already hinted at that in the comment that the book title (Julie & Julia) is boring, the result of an editorial battle lost. And don’t we authors know all about that–choose your battles.

No, I have no plans what so ever in this lifetime to repeat Julie’s project, but I do hope to challenge myself with a few of these recipes. Looking through the book, the first thing to cross my mind was how outdated it seemed to my modern cook’s eye. I learned to cook during the dawn of olive oil, and microwaves. Julia Child wrote this book in 1961, and it is more than obvious her two favorite ingredients are butter and heavy cream.

Yet a lot of what Julia Child writes makes sense, such as when she warns against the temptation to use the food processor to blend your potato leek soup. She’s right, that one appliance means the difference between what ends up being more like runny mashed potatoes rather than a hearty soup where the potatoes and leeks are still recognizable.

I suppose if I take away a few techniques and basics, it will only help me in everything I cook. If nothing else, it will be a lesson in humility. Let’s just hope I am strong enough to withstand such a lesson. I have to wonder about that as I ignore daily the container full of cookies that I screwed up but still refuse to throw away. Who I think is going to eat them is beyond me, they taste bad and look worse, but there they sit, waiting on the counter. Perhaps humility is what both Julie and Julia are meant to teach me.

I will keep you informed of both the failures and the successes.

Humbly,

Cat

um, who are you?

Who am I and what am I doing here? Good question!

I’m a writer. A romance writer, to be exact. At that pronouncement a third of you rolled your eyes, a third thought, “Cool” and a third are thinking, “So what?”. What being a writer means to me is that I am an observer. I take in everything, like a sponge I’ve been told by more than one person as I grilled them for details and facts during research for a book. Research? For a romance novel? (There is that eye rolling again.) Yes, research because if my facts aren’t correct, or my setting realistic or my characters believable, that book will crash and burn in the fiery flames of bad reviews. In fact, it was through my research for a book that I found Eat Something Sexy online to begin with.

So yeah, I observe, I sometimes even take notes. I absorb it all. Not surprisingly, I’ve quite a bit to say about all I take in. For better or worse, I plan to lay down my unsolicited, random observations and opinions right here, courtesy of the Eat Something Sexy blogs. A huge thank you to Amy Reiley and the entire Eat Something Sexy team for giving me the opportunity and the forum.

As I gather ideas, jotting down notes for blogs as they hit me while I’m driving and trying to stay in my lane, and solicit ideas from my fellow erotic romance authors online and at book signings (I may have to tone those down to keep the sensors at bay), I plan to appear here a few times a week with topics that may inspire you, hopefully spur conversation and maybe even cause a bit of debate now and then.

Want to know more about me? Check out the official profile I think is somewhere in this WordPress maize that I am learning to navigate through trial and error. My life sounds pretty interesting when in black and white. I guess it is some days. I’ve gone from cocktails with the former Poet Laureate of the United States and the Rockefellers one day, to an arena to watch live bull riding the next. I’ve run out to the barn to throw a bucket of feed to my horse while wearing my ball gown and heels on the way to a harp gig where I was performing (we won’t discuss what I discovered on my shoe once I reached the venue). I live in what could be called the country, with a barn and farmhouse  built in 1734, but I can hop a train and one hour later be in New York City for dinner and a show on Broadway. But most days I’m perfectly happy sitting with my laptop while wearing my pajamas in bed. As long as I have internet, the world is at my fingertips, literally.

So, hello. Nice to meet you, and please, stop by often!

Cat