Monday, 28 April 2008

Who are you?

I'm going to give in to curiosity like a blog pal of mine did a couple times, and ask: Who are all these people who visit my blog?

I don't mean the people I know from the Novel Racers, or the ones who've been dropping by here for awhile and adding to the quality of my writing life - hell, my life - with their kind comments. No, I mean the others.

The ClustrMap widget has been showing an average of a hundred visitors a day for a couple months now, and I've been seeng those fascinating red dots popping up in all sorts of intriguing places. Click on the little map in the sidebar and you'll see what I mean. When the big map comes up, click on the "Map with Smaller Clustrs" link and get an even better idea.

I know who some of those people are: JJ in Bankok, Liz in Dubai, Pacha in Trieste (sadly no longer blogging - huh, get it? Trieste = sad in French, right? Or is it triste? Whatever! I'm killing myself here... but I know where to find you, Pacha! **spoken like a true stalker buddy! I mean buddy! :), Kaz in Singapore, Patricia in Hawaii... and so on.

So who are all those people from South America? From fascinating places like Brazil, Argentina, and the rest? I know Chennette visits from Guyana, but all those others baffle me.

And central America? And the Caribbean? Africa? China? Russia? The Canary Islands (I think)? And is that Easter Island way out there in the Pacific? Whoever you are, how about giving me a holler? What about Mauritius? India, hello! Who are you, my Indian visitors? Do you have any idea that almost half of the population of my country is descended from Indians who came here to work on sugar cane plantations after the emancipation of the African slaves, and that many aspects of Indian culture are now a vital ingredient in the potpourri we call Trinidad culture?

Who are you, you visitors from New Zealand? Australia? Indonesia? The Middle East? Greenland! Hullo, Europe and North America: I know some of you, but those I don't far - far - outnumber the ones I do.

Did you stumble on here while searching for something else? Searching for what?
Are you writers? Readers? Both? Neither?
Do you hang around for a minute and read a post or two? Or do you roll your eyes and move on to the next search result?
Are there lurkers* among you? If so, please delurk! You are always welcome to comment, or simply introduce yourself!

Come on out!

*In case anyone doesn't know what a lurker is: a lurker is a person who reads discussions on a blog or other interactive system like chat room or forum , but rarely participates by contributing their comments.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Galleys & genre-juggling

I sort of imagined that I'd have very little to do when the galley for Café au Lait arrived. Ha. There's a reason that manuscripts make so many passes before so many eyes, I'm finding. I found a glaring error on the very first page. No, it wasn't one of mine that I'd overlooked (please!) but one that was created because of changes and additions and deletions made after I'd passed the manuscript along. I made special mention of this correction in the cover letter to the production supervisor. Can't have an error on the first page, people! That would put me off a book instantly!

There were other errors of this type here and there. You know what happens when you modify a sentence: you have to re-read the whole sentence to make sure the whole thing hangs together, as well as keep an eye out for inconsistencies further along that result from these changes. Then there were the usual nuts-and-bolts corrections: typos, punctuation, capitalization and such. I was told that while I was reading, the novel had also been passed to a professional proofreader - so here's hoping that between us we've caught everything.

On another note, a Google Alert informed me that Café is on a chick lit list of releases. I did a double take, then remembered that Kevin had remarked on first seeing the cover that he would have guessed 'chick lit' rather than 'romance'. I decided to do some research and discovered that the genres do overlap, seemingly. Here's the Wiki def:

Chick lit" is a term used to denote genre fiction written for and marketed to young women, especially single, working women in their twenties and thirties... Chick lit features hip, stylish female protagonists, usually in their twenties and thirties, in urban settings (usually London or Manhattan), and follows their love lives and struggles for professional success (often in the publishing, advertising, public relations or fashion industry). The books usually feature an airy, irreverent tone and frank sexual themes.

And from Electronic Book Review:

"Chick-Lit is hip, stylish, confident, and sharp - it's also honest and very brave. It battles and conquers the term Chick; it explores, explains, sometimes gives in to and sometimes blows away the notion of a chicklet, trapped by birth to imprint its parents; it is sexual and sensual in dear or savage or shocking ways. And it proves itself structurally, lyrically, and formally as lit-erature."

The latter article also explores the 'postfeminist' label sometimes applied to chick lit. And there was more. If my heroine had been older, the book might picked up the 'hen lit' label. If she'd been a mother, 'mom lit'. Younger, and the 'teen lit' label might have been applied. And so on, and on...

It's all about marketing, I guess. So, do I have strong feelings about the book being thus labeled? Nah. Call it what you like, I say. I've done my part; now it's their turn. With the galley out of the way, all my focus is on the next one.

Friday, 25 April 2008

The lighter side of serious business

Those of us of a certain age will remember Robert Palmer's Simply Irresistible. Well, this is 2008, the US is counting down to a critical general election, two charismatic candidates are in a life-and-death, no holds barred battle for the Democratic Party nomination and there's - Barack Obama-sistible!

...and now the gold!

Last month I posted about the pink poui trees that had burst into bloom all around. Some of them are still flowering, and now the gold have come out everywhere, shimmering with vibrant colour, dotting hillsides, savannahs, parks and verges that were a uniform green just a week ago.

Vive la poui, the sunshine tree!

Photo courtesy
Photographer: rob and ann simpson

Friday, 18 April 2008

Author interview: Lynn Emery!

Wordtryst: Lynn, welcome to my blog! I think I'm a bit starstruck... I've seen your books in stores here in Trinidad and in the US. When I think of the big names in multicultural romance, yours is one that immediately comes to mind. How many novels have you had published?

Lynn Emery: You're too kind! Thanks for the huge compliment. I have thirteen novels to my credit so far.

W: That is a staggering achievement. Monica Harris, my current editor at Dorchester, actually founded the groundbreaking Arabesque line of romances at Kensington around the time that your first novel was published there, I believe. Did you ever work with Ms. Harris?

For sure! Monica bought my very first book for Arabesque. She was my editor for maybe 4 books until she left Kensington. I loved working with her. She is a wonderful editor, and a truly savvy book biz pro.

W: She certainly is! Lynn, one of your novels was made into a movie for BET. That must have been very exciting! Tell us a bit about that project.

LE: Not much to tell because it was a big surprise to me. I didn't even know that one of my books had made it to the short list (so to speak). BET bought the Arabesque line from Kensington in 1998 because they wanted to make made-for-television movies based on the books. Fast forward to a year later. I was taking my traditional Sunday afternoon nap and the phone woke me up. The president of BET Books told me After All had been selected. I managed to be coherent somehow- between being half asleep and surprised I may have come across as a bit too blase about the news or just as a spaced-out screwball, LOL! Either way once the fog cleared I was excited. The movie premiered on BET in December 2000. I had a huge party - had a blast. I still enjoy seeing characters I created walking around and talking. Kind of a strange experience, too!

W: I've heard that when writers sell movie rights to their work, they have absolutely no say in the making of the film. Was that your experience, or was there some measure of collaboration?

LE: Answer A is the correct one! LOL! I had nothing to do with the making of the movie. Once the company pays for the movie rights, that's it. In a few rare cases authors are collaborators, but most of the time authors just cash the check and keep writing. That's fine with me. Overall I think BET did a good job with After All. They made changes, but that is to be expected. Holly Robinson Peete did a great job as the female lead (Michelle Toussaint, ace investigative TV reporter, LOL).

W: How long have you been writing?

LE: I've been writing since I was ten or eleven, published since 1995.

W: Was your road to publication a difficult one?

LE: Not really. Night Magic was the first manuscript I started and it sold, so I have no stories of stinging rejections before that. But I've been rejected since then. Ouch!

W: Tell us about your awards.

LE: Night Magic was recognized for Excellence in Romance Fiction in 1996 by Romantic Times Magazine. In 2004 my HarperCollins novel Kiss Lonely Goodbye won three Emma Awards at Romance Slam Jam, the only conference that celebrates Black romance authors and novels. The award is named in honor of Emma Rodgers who founded one of the most influential black bookstores in the US, Black Images Book Bazaar in Dallas, Texas. Sadly she closed the store after over 20 years of helping black authors and readers connect.

W: What special books do you remember most from your childhood?

LE: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Reading that book when I was eleven made me want to write murder mysteries.

W: Who are your favourite writers?

LE: Ernest Gaines and Gloria Naylor are on my long list of favorite authors. I have eclectic taste in reading - I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes collection, Shakespeare, Walter Mosely, Paula Woods, and on and on. I love so many romance authors I've really stopped trying to pick favorites. You really don't want to get me started! LOL

W: You have a full time job as a mental health professional. How do you find time to write?

LE: Easy, I have no social life! Seriously though I make sacrifices, which is why I don't watch on-going TV series like Lost. And why I'm terribly behind in watching movies. But thanks to Netflix I'm catching up on movies slowly but surely :o)

W: What, to you, is the very best part of this writing business? ...Apart from the royalty cheques, that is... :)

LE: Writing is the best part, the excitement of coming up with the plot or characters and starting chapter one. Getting "in the zone" when the story is coming together the way I like it.

W: Lynn, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. It's been a pleasure.

LE: Thanks for the honor of being interviewed for your blog. Tell Monica I said a big "Hello!"

W: I'll be sure to!

Lynn's bibliography: Night Magic, After All, Sweet Mystery, A Time To Love, One Love, Tender Touch, Merry Christmas, Baby (novella in an anthology) were all Arabesque titles. For HarperCollins: Gotta Get Next To You, Tell Me Something Good, All I Want is Forever, Kiss Lonely Goodbye, Good Woman Blues and Soulful Strut. For Penguin/Putnam: The Lipstick Chronicles (novella in an anthology)

Her website:
Her blogs: As I Was Saying, A Darker Shade of Midnight, and Be Encouraged

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Takes my breath away

Patricia Wood's novel, Lottery, has been short listed for the 13th Orange Prize for Fiction - and the first time author is a favourite to win!

This is so exciting... I posted about Patricia's remarkable achievements last year. It was only when I started this blog that I discovered who she was and that her first novel had sold; prior to that I knew of her simply as Orion, one of the regulars over at Miss Snark's blog.

Way to go, Orion! I'm rooting for you!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Optimist or Pessimist?

You Are an Optimist

You definitely see the sunny side of life, even when things aren't going so great.

And while you may not be a realist, your optimism has really improved your quality of life.

You have the energy to take charge, solve your problems, and enjoy life for what it is.

Optimists are happier and healthier - so keep thinking positive!

Are You An Optimist or Pessimist?

Thank goodness for optimism. I've been told that I "live in the clouds" by some who consider themselves realists. Been told I was crazy to leave my job. Told I'll never be able to buy property like the piece I was standing on while having one "inspirational" conversation. Told lots of things; some were even well-meaning. If I weren't the optimist I am I'd have huddled into a little ball and died.

Huh. They've been backing off a bit lately, though. Seems a publishing contract has that effect on people. Here's to all the optimists out there, particularly the writers who slog on despite all the odds, all the negativity, all the humiliation that's inherent in this business (rejections, anyone?)! Many of them are even happy doing what they do, despite all the downsides, and that joy must seriously p*** off the naysayers. I think that to be a writer one has to be an optimist where the business is concerned, even if one is pessimistic about everything else in life.

I'm not blithely optimistic about everything. Where politicians are concerned, for instance, I'm a pessimist of the worst stripe. I choose my optimisms carefully, and they haven't let me down yet.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

1001 books

While ambling through Stephe's place I found a link to another blog which lists 1001 books you must read before you die. The list is taken from a book by the same name, and being a list-lover I just had to go through. The titles are listed by century, and here are my results:

2000s: 1
1900s: 47
1800s: 28
1700s: 3
Pre-1700s: 1
Not so grand total: 80

The comments on the post were interesting, too. One person hated Life of Pi, my sole nod to the 2000's. IMO, Yann Martel's story might not suit every taste, but the writing! I'd marry Martel tomorrow based on that alone. And he's not bad looking either!

Hm. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Some of these books I'll never read, but many are on my current wish list. Also on my personal list are writers like Michael Connolly, Dick Francis, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, Paula Gosling and scores of others. Then there are the books by writers I've met online, a sublist that's growing at a most satisfying rate.

It's kind of wonderful to know that however long I live, I'll never run out of books worth reading!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Amazon and galleys

Last night I Googled my novel and discovered that it's now up on I suppose that by the time I've gone through the publishing process several times (I'm an optimist) I won't even be bothered to Google new releases, and I won't feel that spurt of excitement when I first spy the titles online in stores. Since this is my maiden voyage, you'll forgive my enthusing over every little thing, right? So I'm moving on to the other big first that has me grinning like an idiot right now...

Galleys! They arrived today, and when the courier guy put the box into my hands I almost dropped it. Heavy stuff, these galleys, I thought. When I opened the package I understood. In addition to the printed pages I discovered about 150 book covers. Huh? I'm assuming that these are for use in my own promotional forays - but I've e-mailed the production supervisor and asked, just to be sure.

I glanced at the last pages and found that my sexy closing scene has been knifed. What's left is... well, not much of it is left. And my scintillating final sentence? Gone. Vanished. Poof. **sob... wailllll!!!!!!!!** Who knows what other surgery has been performed in the innards of the book? Now I have to brace myself and repeat 100 times: The editor knows best. The editor is always right. The editor knows best. The edit...

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Another bookish meme...

Stolen from Karen. I'm not tagging anyone; help yourself if you like - or not.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?

Hardback. They just have that solid feel. I wish all my keepers were hardback, but alas...

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…

Wordtryst, of course.

3. My favourite quote from a book (mention the title) is…

I have so many faves it's hard to single one out, but I really like this one from Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire: "There is no mystery. There is only paradox - the incontrovertible union of contradictory truths."

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be ….

Gerald Durrell

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except the SAS survival guide, it would be…

The Bible. It pretty much covers everything. The Greek myths would be nice too, but they did specify one.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that….

...would hold my book for me in bed and in the shower.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of…. great grandmother's house. She had lots of ancient books with beautiful paintings and illustrations. And lots of cats, and chickens and ducks. And great sticky-sweet things to eat.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be….

Hmm. This is a hard one. Maybe Isadora Wing in those Erica Jong books, for sheer hedonism and lack of inhibition.

9. The most overestimated book of all time is….

Don't kill me for this. I read Catch-22 and after all the hype I was somewhat let down.

10. I hate it when a book… filled with stupid spelling, grammar and other errors. If it's really bad I can't finish the book. Happily, this happens rarely.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Hunk of the Month: Taye Diggs

Now, to get back to the serious business of this blog: hunks! [Warning: if you're a heterosexual male, you might want to bypass this post! :) ]

Taye Diggs' sizzles onscreen. He just has that 'something'. Remember the bathroom scene in Stella? Or the scene where he's dancing with Nia Long in The Best Man? Hot!!!

He sings (he was Benny in the Original Broadway Cast of Rent and reprised his role in the film). He’s conquered film (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Chicago, The Wood, Brown Sugar, and my personal favourite, The Best Man). He starred on TV’s Kevin Hill, and did several smouldering turns on Ally McBeal. Add to all of that one of the sexiest bodies ever to be captured on screen, and a 1,000 watt smile.

Here's a dirty little secret. I stumbled across a link to a nude photo of Taye. Anyone who's seen The Wood (I hated that movie) will remember the guys bathing nude in the garden after Taye's character threw up over everyone. We saw Taye's back view in that scene. The link I found shows the full frontal. Heh. Heh!