Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Facebook Follies

So, I give up.

I'm on Facebook.

I fought this for as long as I could. The list of reasons why is long, starting with the most obvious one to me: I'm not that interesting. Really. I bore myself, what with the sitting around and typing all the time. Nothing about my life could be described as 'fabulous.' (I happen to love my life, but 'fabulous' it ain't.)

My other major concern was privacy. I'm a naturally paranoid person, and there are a lot of, um, interesting people out there I'd just as rather not have in my living room, either in person or on the computer.

But the numerous workshops I went to at the RWA National Conference two weeks ago pretty much made it obvious that, as a free, easy, and accessible marketing platform, you can't beat Facebook. Build your brand, I heard over and over again. Be accessible to your readers.

And if you can't beat them, join them.

And I'll say this. So far, it's not so bad. I'm 'friends' with a whole slew of people I went to high school with, but haven't talked to in ten to fifteen years. There's something powerfully nostalgic about seeing what people who are firmly tied to a time and place in my psyche are doing. It's great to see the guy who wanted to be a surgeon when he grew up is actually a surgeon, or the guy who wanted to be a firefighter is an actual firefighter. It's weird to see people, who I know broke up after high school, married with babies to people I don't know at all. (Yes, I'm aware I did the same thing. It's still odd.) As sappy as it sounds, it makes me happy to know that a lot of these people turned out okay. Same for some people I went to college with. People get married, have families, and do the best they can. Just like me.

However, thus far, I'm friends with people who know or knew me in some way or another. That's fine. I have no other possible readers with whom I should be building my brand. (Update: For all those who are interested, it will be two to three months before I hear anything about editors. Most likely. Can you cross your fingers that long?) But being that 'out there' still makes me nervous. I already got an email from some guy (I'm guessing) who just said, "hello sara." Um, hello? My name has an 'h' on it? Says so everywhere? Clearly not someone I know, and making 'friends' with strangers is not my strong suite. Ask all four of my friends these days.

But I'm trying. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone, one baby step at a time (name that film!). So, if you want, you can come be my friend. I promise not to think you're, um, interesting. Unless, of course, you are.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Man, oh, man, what a trip! In both that literal and physical sense. We won't even talk about how sore my posterior is. Really.

To recap:

1. I have the best agent in the whole wide world. Numerous other conference attendees kept saying things like, "Gosh, I want your agent! She's awesome!" It actually started to freak me out after a while. Am I really worthy of this level of Kung-Fu Agent Awesomeness? (name that movie!)

1 a. Case in Point: So, Saturday, I'm in the middle of listening to Sherry Thomas expound on the finer points of generating sexual tension and chemistry on the printed page, and the fire alarm goes off. And you know what? We are all sheep. 150 people in the room, and we all sat there looking at each other going, "what should we do?" Right up until the security guard plowed into the room and began knocking chairs out of the way while looking seriously perturbed. Then we collectively decided that evacuation was the way to go.

Anyway, after the kick-butt fire truck showed up (remember, mother of a four year old boy here) with the kick-butt fire fighters on board (writer of romance here) we all went back inside. Never did figure out if the hotel was on fire or not, but as we were all milling around the lobby trying to figure out what to do next, (SHEEP! SHEEP, I TELL YOU!), I saw my agent and we got to chatting. (Tip: Takes less time to evacuate out of the basement than it does off the ninth floor.) And then a dazed and slightly confused woman stumbles past us. My agent calls out to her, the woman collapses on the seat next to the agent, and within two minutes, the woman--an editor from Sourcebooks--wanted to see my book. Watching my agent in action was a master class in selling and a clear indication of why I need an agent.

1 b. Which brings the number of potential editors wanting to review my stuff to four. As I said when my agent told me this, "So, it's okay if I'm having a good heart attack right now?" To which she replied, "Yup. You can have a good heart attack."

2. I do some of my best thinking in the car. It was a long, long drive to D.C. I got chapters written for the vegetarian book, and also got the general ideas for the next two books outlined.


Somehow, I neglected to realize that, to get to D.C., we would have to cross the Appalachians. If you go to D.C., go the scenic highway 68. Just beautiful.

At the Museum of the American Indian, you can get real Native food. Like fry bread and a pulled buffalo sandwich. Beat the heck out of McDonald's!!

Now, I'm actually at the Botanic Garden, but that's the Museum of the American Indian there in the back. Cool building, huh? Has a very organic, kiva-esque vibe to it. (Yes, I expect you to know what a kiva is.)

This is my mother's idea of a 'good picture' of me. We're at the Chicago-North RWA Fire and Ice Awards reception. I'm wearing the dress my sisters--ahem, stylists--picked out for me. Anyone want to guess how far into the complimentary champagne I was at this point?

I got second! That's Blythe Gifford, one of the sweetest women ever. She's been such a friend and source of inspiration--and she was thrilled at my second place!

Mom got all gussied up, too. YAH for second place!

I don't know about you, but it's not a vacation if your mother doesn't make you take a dippy picture, and this is the grand bull moose winner. We're at the Schmidt Sausage Haus in Columbus, OH. I lived in Columbus for two years while earning my Master's degree, but hadn't been back in nine years. Kind of good to see the old town again.

Finally, we made it home, and while the kid was happy to see us, he was happier to see his presents, especially the panda mask Mom got for him at the National Zoo. Kung-Fu Panda in the house! (have you named that movie yet? COME ON! You can do it!)

So that's mostly it. A great trip, but man, I'm glad to be back home with my guys. And secretly, I think they're glad I'm back, too. Someone's got to do the laundry!

ADDENDUM: The full shot of the fancy dress with shoes has been requested, so here you go!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


My Karma is happy. I got second in the Fire and Ice Contest! WOOOOHOOOO!!

I had such a great day--meeting with my agent, talking to people--that I didn't want to win first. It seemed like it was asking too much of 'good luck.' It's like after I finaled in this contest and was signed by the agent on my birthday, people told me I needed to buy a lottery ticket. But that felt greedy. I want to keep the balance, so second is the way to go.

Met some really nice people. Having a great time. And drank a lot of champagne at the reception.

More later!

So Far . . .

Well, it's day 3 of the great Washington, D.C. Road Trip to the RWA National Conference.

A Quick Recap:

1. The Museum of the American Indian was awesome. Not so much in the 'old stuff on display' way, but really interesting, thought provoking exhibits, several of which will wind up in a book by tomorrow. Did you know there's an active skateboard culture on reservations? Do now!

2. Hotels in Cumberland, MD (famous for its Gap) are kind of hard to come by. But you can drive from Western Illinois to Maryland in one day. If you're a little nuts.

3. I was wrong. Janet Evanovich was not at the autograph event. But instead of being really bummed, my mother walked around and looked at every single one of the 500+ authors at the signing and had a grand time anyway. She's out at some museum as we speak.

4. I met my agent this morning. Good meeting. I like my agent in person, and she seemed to tolerate me pretty well. And I don't want to get everyone's hopes up, but three editors at Major New York Publishing Houses have asked to see more of my works. My agent feels good about this. I feel ecstatic!

That's about it for right now. Tonight is the Fire and Ice award reception--further awards-based updates as they occur. I've met a few people here that are neat and I don't think I've stuck my foot in my mouth too much.

So far, the trip is a success!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

...And the bug bites?

Okay. I'm leaving town in less than five days for the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Washington, D.C. At what my sister Leah refers to as the butt crack of dawn on Tuesday, my mom, my kid, and I are heading east. The kid will only be on the journey for just over two and a half hours, and then he'll spend the rest of the week with his grandparents, my in-laws. Tractors will be admired. Deer will be named "Bambi." And toys--oh, you wouldn't believe the toys!--toys will be played with. In other words, the three of them are going to have more fun than you can shake a stick at.

To say nothing of my mom. She hasn't been to D.C. in over a decade. The breadth and quality of museums covering the Holocaust, the American Indian, the Korean War, and so much more! have just exploded since she was last there. She's been chomping at the bit since May for this trip. Just give her a tape of Willie Nelson singing "On the road again!" and her new digital voice recorder (she verbally documents everything. Everything!) and she's good to go. Better than good. Toss in an awards reception that she gets to go to (hope I win!) and the fact that she's going to meet Janet Evanovich and get her autograph? Wow. Did I mention she's been a smidge excited?

And me? At 10:43 this morning, I officially went into panic mode. I barely know what I'm wearing. I have no idea if our room has a mini-fridge. Parking is a byzantine mystery, I have to print my own worksheets, and somehow, I must get to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. If I'm trying to earn my bread and butter on Cowboys and Indians (and I am), I darned well better pay homage. It's a Moral Imperative.

And the bug bites?

In the midst of a slow-burn kind of panic (wanna bet money on whether I'll have dreams about showing up to a presentation without my worksheets? Or my pants?), I have been attacked by at least two (possibly more) separate insects that are chewing the living shit out of me (pardon my French, but it's true). I blame Jake, the Three-Legged Wonder Wiener. I think he collected some chiggers (or fleas, or something!), took a nap on my jammies, and gave me those bad boys as a parting gift. (Tip: Do not leave jammies on the floor for your dumb dog to nap on. Really.) My torso, back, and face are covered with small, itchy welts.

And that's not counting the number the mosquitoes have done on my legs. It's insane, really, but at least the legs are NOT covered in small, itchy welts. They're covered in HUGE, itchy welts. Big difference. I've probably got over fifty bites on me. And counting. I'm going to weep and gnash my teeth tomorrow in the hopes of convincing some sort of medical professional to put me out of my misery. Or at least get me something stronger than benadryl and hydrocortisone cream, because that's not cutting it any more.

And I love the man, but if I have to listen to him 'theorize' that I itch so much because I must be extra-sensitive to the 'anti-coagulant' that the bugs use before they . . . well, I'm going to start throwing up and punching him at the same time. I'd even rather hear my Gram repeat for the millionth time in my life how the bugs like me better than everyone else on the planet because "I'm so sweet."

Welts. Welts! Just in time to meet and greet! Just in time to finally sit down and meet my agent, face to face! Just in time to dress up, real fancy-like, for an awards presentation!


Or, at the very least, large chunks of my skin. Man, these things ITCH!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I know this is a sign. But I just can't tell what kind.

What do you think? Is a local furniture store (that shall remain unidentified-but let's just say it shares a highly popular name with a bunch of girls) running an ad that 'celebrates' the 4th of July by offering a "17.76%" discount a sign of the Apocalypse? Or is it a good thing, helping people who's brains are otherwise fried by sun, sparklers, and grilling remember a significant date in American history?

I'm going with Apocalypse.

I know the retailers are desperate, that times are overall desperate, but this is verging on ridiculous. The marketing campaign for Back To School is already in full swing, and has been for almost three weeks. And it's July 2nd, people!

But that's nothing. We were in a craft store a week and a half ago, and they had all of their 'fall harvest/Thanksgiving' merchandise out. I was horrified, really. And then I turned around and saw . . . a Christmas tree. Followed by five aisles-FIVE!- of Christmas ornaments, wrapping paper, and cards.

This was still June, people. It was June 22nd. And Christmas was in the house. You know, it's just like a big ol' marketing middle finger to the rest of summer, fall, even Halloween. From a sales point of view, it says, "Screw now."

Well, I say, Screw Them. I'm not buying crap from stores that don't grasp the concept of this nifty little device called 'the calendar.' I refuse to let my now--imperfect as it may be--invalidated just to be guilt-tripped into spending money I don't have on crap I don't need. In this economic climate, I get to vote with my wallet, and you know darned well that vote's going to be counted. Power to the purse!

Who the hell wants to think about Thanksgiving right now, anyway? This is peak Joy of Summer time! I'm going to take my boy to a summer ball game and we're going to stay late to watch the fireworks. We'll eat sno-cones and hope to catch a fly ball and watch the clouds take shape, and then maybe go to a summer festival or play some mini golf. We're going to just enjoy the here and now.

One day at a time, baby! It's not just a bumper sticker. Now. Be a part of it!