Elizabeth: I ♥ Authors

valentineheartIt’s Tuesday afternoon as I’m writing this, so happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate and happy “there-will-be-leftover-candy–on-sale-tomorrow” to those who don’t.

While boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses get most of the love and attention this time of year, I’d like to add authors to that list.  After all, where would we be without them, especially without romance writers and their happily-ever-afters.

As I mentioned in last week’s Friday Writing Sprint post, I went to an author book chat / signing at a (relatively) local bookstore on Friday evening.  It was a reward for meeting my recent writing word count, though technically, I deleted more words than I added.

The event featured Kristan Higgins and Brenda Novak along with their new books:  “On Second Thought” and “Secrets She Kept.”  I (briefly) met Kristan at the last RWA Conference in New York when she was doing a reading from her then-latest-book (“If You Only Knew”), but had never met/seen Brenda before (though I am familiar with her work).  Both the weather and the traffic cooperated – a miraculous occurrence on a wintery Friday evening – which meant I arrived at the bookstore that was hosting the event a full two hours early.

What to do, what to do?

Fortunately, I had no trouble filling the time or doing my part to keep a small independent bookstore afloat.  I rarely get a chance to spend any time in a real-live bookstore, so I was like a kid let loose in a candy store.  I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the smell of brand new books.  Plus, there was a clearance section!

The author chat portion of the evening was a relaxed and fun affair.  The moderator kept things moving right along with a set of interesting questions and both Kristan and Brenda were funny and charming.    As a reader, it was great to hear little tidbits and background about characters and stories I had enjoyed reading, and as a writer it was comforting to hear that successful published authors have some of the same problems, worries, and doubts that new authors face.

The book signing portion of the evening was handled with a kind of military precision – necessary because of the size of the group (large) and the size of the bookstore (small).  By some luck-of-the-draw, I was first up to get my book signed.  I don’t know about you, but I always feel kind of awkward when meeting an author; never quite sure what to say (hazard of being an introvert I guess).  I’m hoping I didn’t sound stupid during our brief interaction, but I’m pretty sure I did.

Over the years I’ve been to a number of author book signings, though they have been rather few and far between recently.  I wasn’t even sure if publishers still sent their authors out on the road like that any longer.  I guess if you’re big enough, they still do.  The majority of authors I’ve met have been at writing conferences and though I’ve always felt a little awkward and fan-girly meeting them, they’ve generally seemed very happy to meet and talk with those who have enjoyed their books or who are interested in reading them.

An unexpected take-away from the evening (along with some great new books) was finding out that Kristan was going to be at my local RWA Chapter meeting the next morning, giving a “master class” on writing dialog.  It was just the motivation I needed to finally join the chapter and to get up and out early on a Saturday morning.   I wasn’t the only one interested in the event; it was packed.  Kristan walked us through lots of before/after dialog examples, including an example of a first-draft scene vs. final published scene of hers.  As a bonus, Eight Lady Kay was at the meeting too, so we got a chance to do a little catching up after our morning of learning.

I’ll be sharing some of the information from the session in a future post, but for now, I’m focusing on incorporating what I learned into my own work.  You’ll be able to judge the results for yourself when I post my February Short Story in a few weeks.

In the meantime, what author would you like to meet in person (anyone – living or dead)?  What would you say to them (or ask them) if you did meet?

9 thoughts on “Elizabeth: I ♥ Authors

  1. Sounds like such a cool couple of events!

    I’ve been teaching a little bit about Valentine’s Day this month, and one thing I really realized is that when we’re young, Valentine’s Day is about friendships! It’s about those little social niceties that make it easier to make friends later, too. A little card, maybe sharing one’s candy hearts, or even just a cheery greeting can make a huge difference.

    I wanted to talk just a little bit about the book signings. If I ever get signed by a big publisher, I’d love to do a book tour — even if I have to pick up most of the cost myself. Actually, I think I’d be happier doing that. I have relatives in five states, and I usually vacation in a sixth state when I go back, so if I had the freedom to hit the big bookstore in town . . . surely they’d help me get in touch with their favorite book people in each city. I know it’s exhausting (especially for an introvert like me!), but I think it’d be so interesting, as well.

    It’d be so nice to meet the people from class, I think. I’ve only met Kay in real life, and it was really delightful talking with her. (-: She talks just like she writes.

    • Michaeline – your book tour plan sounds good. I like the idea of stopping in places where you have relatives / contacts. The recent author tours I’ve seen the primary author has had different authors with them at various stops. For example in the one I attended, Brenda is a local author, so she was included in this particular stop, but here were others included in other places. Seems like a good way to pull in a variety of readers. Something I’ll keep in mind, right after writing.

      • I wonder how many (and how much) of these tours are self-planned and how much help the publishers give. I would guess (and I’m no expert), that if I went to Cities X, Y and Z, and told my publisher, “I’m going to be in Cities X, Y and Z these dates. Can you give me some contact numbers so I can call the best bookstores for a booksigning?” — I would guess they’d have no problem with that, and even offer to help (make the calls themselves). I would guess getting hotels bills paid and help with travel expenses would be trickier. I would further guess that they might be able to give you some freebies (bookmarks, for example, or the publisher’s newsletter) to give out.

        Unless, of course, they are swamped with bigger authors. (-: But I think it’d be very attractive to have two authors at a signing rather than just one! More draw, and some possible cross-over.

        But I’m just using writerly imagination, so who knows how close my guesses are?

  2. Picking just one author to meet and chat with… That’s one of those open-choice questions that always leaves me staring like a deer into oncoming headlights.

    Top choices thought of off the top of my head:
    Terry Pratchett, to thank him for my morality, much of my sense of humor, and uncounted hours of pleasurable reading.
    Spider Robinson, to thank him for the questions he raised in his Time Pressure/Mind Killer series, and to hear his thoughts on those questions, now that he’s had another couple decades to think about them.
    Stephen King, to thank him for Lisey’s Story and the Dark Tower series, two of the richest worlds that have ever been built inside my head.
    Lois McMaster Bujold, to thank her for writing the Cordelia books and to beg her to write Aral’s story.
    Dean Koontz, to punch him for not finishing the Moonlight Bay series. After thanking him for the first two, I suppose 😉

    • Okay, I laughed at the Dean Koontz one; especially the “I suppose.”

      I’m having a hard time answering this question myself, especially since I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of my favorite authors and ask them my questions already.

      I certainly wouldn’t say no to meeting / chatting with Jenny Crusie any number of times. I’d resist the urge to ask if there was ever going to be a new book out and instead ask about what’s in-process and hope some of her skills would rub off via osmosis.

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