Monday, July 31, 2006

Atlanta Highlights: Chocolate, Kimani, Kelly, & Alex

Let's Talk Chocolate: Chocolate of all kinds - a week of tasty treats and awards, deliciously sinful books by some marvelous writers, chocolate-for-the-soul moments, and recognition for Vivian Stephens.

Just got in from a marvelous week with friends & fellow writers. Had the BEST time, learned a lot, caught up with buddies I haven't seen since Dallas '04 or Reno '05, picked up some terrific new books, heard the skinny on who is looking for what, that sort of thing...and I'm ready to share.

Of course, I had opportunity to view several new books and meet new authors at this conference, and I’ll talk about some of them here.

First up...I'd like to mention Harlequin's new
Kimani Romance line. (Some of the authors even have a Kimani Authors’ Blog.) For those who stood in line for autographed copies of books by Marcia King-Gamble, Brenda Jackson, AlTonya Washington, and Gywnne Forster...what did you think about these books and this new line? I was bowled over by the covers and blurbs, and I can't wait to read these stories! Met Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-ah) a few times, and a classier, funnier, sweeter lady can't be found. Think I'm digging into her Flamingo Place first. But then Gwynne's Her Secret Life is also calling me…and then there’s AlTonya’s book, A Lover’s Pretense.

I’ve been a Brenda Jackson fan for years, so I’m looking forward to reading
Solid Soul, her 40th book!

If you look at
Marcia’s website, you think…surely, nobody can look that good or write that well. Let me tell you – she’s the real deal. And is this not a kewl cover? *sigh*

These authors are NICE, too. One of the things I enjoy doing at conferences is to hand over copies of books I receive to those in the service industries. One of the hotel front desk staff was especially nice (waving at April if she’s ‘listening’), and I just knew she’d love the Kimani books, so after the signing, when there were books left, I requested some to hand to the girls at the front desk. April was holding her copy of
Gwynne Forster’s book when Gwynne walked by (delighted, of course) and offered to sign the book. Later, April grabbed me and hugged me, thanking me wildly for having given her the book, and she had to share the news that she’d met the author. Evidently, Scenitra (and no, you can’t use the name, because Alex is already using it – lol – heroine in her current WIP that is too far near completion for you to use it right now. *evil grin* ANYWAY…Scenitra hugged me and told me that ours (RWA’s) was the absolute best the hotel had hosted in her opinion (and she was supervisor of the front desk, so I imagine she’d know – lol).

Chocolate for the soul: I also received copies of these books that are in Harlequin’s Spice line:
Enchanted, by Nancy Madore, Tease by Suzanne Forster, Getting Even by Kayla Perrin, The Blonde Geisha (not released yet) by Jina Bacarr (you can pre-order this on Amazon at this link), and Lying In Bed by M.J. Rose. [Check out the Live Your Fantasy contest while you’re checking out Harlequin’s Spice site.] I was majorly impressed by these covers & blubs – I think Harlequin has hit on some really marketing strategies and that the authors handling these books are absolutely fantastic. Can’t praise them enough.

Another highlight of my conference this year was meeting Alex’s daughter, Kelly Ethan. This young woman is a fantastic writer – I had the pleasure of reading some of her excerpts at the Samhain Author Day a little over a week ago. Kelly’s writing is so strong and her characters so unbelievably charming, funny, and REAL that I suspect she’ll be leaving Auntie Sunny in her dust before long as far as publications go.

The first time Kel came back to the room loaded down with books, she dumped 3 book bags full of treasure onto her bed and literally levitated then started jumping up and down as if she’d won the Lotto, stifling her screams so as not to get us thrown out of the hotel but still squealing like a little kid with delight. When it came time for workshops (tutorials, as the Aussies call them), she was like a school girl armed with pen, paper, and book bag, ready to learn. Trust me, though – this is no school girl. This young lady can WRITE, and the wheels are always in motion. One night after she’d gone to bed (and usually she is out once her head hits the pillow), she sat bolt upright, exclaiming “I have my first book for Nocturne.” After scrambling out of bed, grabbing a notebook and a pen, she scribbled down some notes then crawled back under the covers. Within a few minutes she’d done some dreaming and bounced up again. This time, her mum took notes as Kel dictated. The energy was palpable in that room when we should all have been asleep.

This is what it's all about, I told myself, watching Kel at her first North American RWA conference. The excitement, the creativity unleashed, the wide-eyed wonder and honeymoon phase after selling that 1st book...these are the reasons writers keep going back year after year, to recapture that burst of energy, to hone the skills and pick up more knowledge, to expand the boundaries and cross borders we haven't yet sampled. Kel has been to the Aussie conference, but this was her first trip to America, courtesy of her mother, Alex. (By the way, Samhain Editor-in-Chief, or She-Who-Wields-The-Power, Crissy, gave Alex a present. Mail takes too long between continents, so Crissy gave Alex a box of books…her own…her two first books in print.) Alex was wearing a sarong and a smile, and we photographed her holding her books. Can’t wait to get the film up on it.

Got to meet Renee Luke and have her autograph a copy of Chocolate Kisses for me. This lady is really interesting - Sylvia Day told me that Renee was in charge of the fabulous luncheon the Passionate Ink writers had at the Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium on Friday. I'll blog about the luncheon next time. When attendees are taking photos of the food, that’s a really strong comment on the cuisine alone. This luncheon had the BEST speakers imaginable...a reviewer, an agent, and an editor, all 3 of whom were terrific speakers…the BEST food, the BEST service, the BEST giveaways. More than a luncheon - breathtaking view of the Beluga whales, speakers that had even the wait staff laughing and blushing, Wolfgang Puck inspired, not now not now not now - later - lol. I promise. The hours spent with this group had to be the highlight of what I attended as far as time shared in a group. It deserves a blog post of its own - truly.

I will be reading and commenting on the books I received, so be looking in future if you’re interested before purchasing the book.

KUDOS to RWA for renaming their industry award to honor Vivian Stephens!!! Had to give a big shout-out for that one. Vivian has been one of the least recognized and over-looked founders of RWA for too long.

***2006 Vivian Stephens Award Recipient = Lucia Macro, Executive EditorAvon Books***

Now…THINK PINK! Take a look at one of Harlequin’s latest offerings,
Manga. I was tickled to get a peek at these, and I let one of the housekeepers at our hotel take a couple of them to her teenage daughter. The very next day, Charlotte said that her daughter wanted MORE, MORE - lol. So...maybe the company has another winner with this line.

NOCTURNE really captured a lot of interest from attendees. Check out the July 14th post at eHarl for more information. Here are the guidelines for those interested in tapping into this new line. I picked up Dangerous Temptations, by the fabulous Kathleen Korbel, Eternally by Maureen Child, and Haunted by Lisa Childs (different last names, you'll note - that's no typo).

I'd better save a bit for another blog, but maybe this will give you plenty to read and study for a day or so until I get some sleep and my bearings - lol. Thanks to those of you who stopped by while I was in Atlanta. More next time...and sorry for the 3 edits (for those who have that blog thingie that updates you every time someone posts)...I had some blogger trouble.

~ Sunny Lyn



At 7:36 AM, Blogger Merry said...

Well, you made me go look it up. To many of my kids' high school and college friends, Manga is violent, sexually graphic cartoon art.

Apparently not.

My kids followed some of the cartoons that were televised for years, but they'd been sanitized for US audiences. The Japanese 'toons were much more adult themed.

I'm curious how Harlequin will battle that perception amongst their target audience.

If it gets kids to read, more power to them.

Glad you had a blast - sounds like you're energized, excited and ready to increase your output!

I will wait impatiently for your impressions and information!

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Sam said...

Sounds like yuo had a blast - and I love the new Harlequin lines - now if they made their books longer I would really be happy (I always thought they were too short - JMO)
Anyhow - welcome back!

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Welcome home! I missed you adn I'm looking forward to more updates--and Dallas *sigh*

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Heather Rae Scott said...

Welcome home!

I'm mad about you eatting seafood without me. lmao. Glad you had fun and can't wait to read the rest of the stories you have. So sorry blogger is being a pain in the ass.

I want to see pictures!


At 2:40 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

I love hearing from all of you - and you're right...I'm bubbling over with info to share - lol.

MANGA - Debbie Macomber wrote the first book, if that tells you how tame these are, Merry, but like you, I was really, really curious as to how they'd handle it. The books are almost 'fluffy' with all the pink and cute art work. I can see why the teenager who got 2 of them liked them. Just don't have a clue how I myself would write one - lol.

Sam, OMG - they've even SHORTENED some of the lines at H/S, and...well, there really wasn't much there to represent category. Couple that with them shortening lines like SIM, and *wrinkling my nose as I type this* writers will be hard pressed to find a line over 70-75 words now with them. BUT (you knew this might be coming), the books I've dug into so far are more solid, less exposition, tighter sentence structure, shorter paragraphs, that sort of thing. So they still look worth reading - just a pain in the arse for a windy-worded writer.

Amie Cecilia, you would have been damned proud of a lot of things this year. They FINALLY recognized Vivan Stephens, for one thing. Check out the main page at RWA for who got what awards, and you'll see some others who got their moment of spotlight.

he-he-he, Heather Rae - I felt sooo bad but not really at one point. Visited that marvelous aquarium Tuesday afternoon then had a boatload of seafood for dinner that night with X and Lex - ROFLMAO. But I DID think of you. *dimpled grin* X treated us to what her hubby called the best lobster bisque ever...I'd never had it, so all I know is that I gotta have more. I'd also never had Alaskan King Crab, and OMG that sucker is one big critter. X shared her crab cakes, too, so i was a fishy meal and one of the best I have EVER had. Chilian red wine of some sort...I'm not a wine expert. My 'collection' over the years of wine that didn't get opened is less than 10 bottles, if that tells you anything. Gastronomically gourmet treat for me...the entire meal.

More later. Keep checking.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

p.s. - I think I probably misspelled Scinetra's name - I have it on her business card somewhere and will find it - interesting name...said her aunt named her and she has no idea what it means or where she got it.

...and it's VIVIAN Stephens - had a typo in there on my last response.

Hell, I will probably have more than one blog post per day...have so much info.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Rella said...

I'm so jealous!! Seafood, my favorite! I hope Kris sent you the hugs I sent. Missed both of you during this "quiet" week!

Hope you chatted lots! I can't wait for the RWA stories. Now, if only I was a writer I might convince my hubby to send me too!! :)

Great to hear from you!


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