Archive for July, 2011

Three Funerals and A Wedding

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Yes, I know, it’s supposed to be the other way around.

An inordinate number of elderly people are dying around me lately. If bad news comes in threes, let’s hope this is it. Because next week I’m going to my third funeral in as many weeks.

The first was the mother of a friend. She lived to 90, which is respectable, so that one I could rationalize. The second was my sister’s boyfriend’s mom. Actually, I didn’t physically attend that one, but I was with my sister in spirit. Then, earlier this week, I learned that my father’s older brother died in his sleep at 84. I don’t like it when people die in their 80s. I really don’t like it when they die in their 20s, but “she died at 90” works much better for me than “she died at 83.”

My grandfather (my uncle’s father) lived to 106, so 83 sounds “young” to me. Even my grandmother, despite having a stroke at 81, lived to one month shy of her 89th birthday. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around my uncle dying at a younger age than either of his parents.

Amid all this doom and gloom, my second niece on my dh’s side is having a wedding reception of sorts this weekend. She eloped a few months ago, in the States, but several Canadian members of the family couldn’t attend the first reception, so we’re doing it all over again. It’s a white-themed party. So everyone has to wear white.

Yeah, me and white. We’re great buddies. White and me will last about 20 seconds, until I eat something and likely drop it.

But I’ll take white over wearing black any day when it means celebrating the union of two young people.

Now, here’s a tip if you ever have to phone someone to tell them a family member has died: make double, triple, nay, quadruple sure that you HAVE THE RIGHT NAME. Of the person who died. Believe me, hearing the wrong name will give the recipients of the bad news unncessary conniptions. And hearing that you yourself have died can’t be enjoyable, either.

I’m not happy anyone died. And I’m well aware that mistakes can happen, so it’s not the fault of the person who did the calling. Next week, I’ll travel with my sisters, brother, and parents to pay my respects to my oldest uncle. I remember him painting art in his basement studio when we were kids. I remember the crazy purple lounge suits he and my father both received from their wives one Christmas. My uncle liked the suit, but my father was appalled. I think it was the only time he wore it. What can I say? He was a logger.

My uncle enjoyed gardening, boats when he was young, and his art. As the years passed and my cousins and brother and sisters grew, my uncle remarried and moved away. We didn’t see him often. But he was always pleasant to talk to, and I looked forward to seeing him every time.

Rest in Peace, William Richard Procter.

Penny’s New Sale!

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

I’m thrilled as polka-dot buttons to report that Penny has sold an erotica short story to Ellora’s Cave, one of the premiere publishers of erotic romance and erotica. This is Penny’s first “erotica.” The rest of her sales and releases have been erotic romance.

What’s the difference, you ask? Well, erotica is more about the character’s sexual discovery and doesn’t necessarily need to end with a committed relationship. Erotic romance usually features character arcs for both hero and heroine, and once the hero and heroine have slept together they don’t sleep with other partners.

The name of the story is Tea for Three, and it’s set in a Vancouver tea shop.

If you can’t guess, it’s a ménage story. Super-hot! Sizzling! Fry off your toes!

Congratulations, Penny!

Playing With ARCs

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Among other things, I’ve been busy sending out review requests for the multitude of trade paperback ARCs I received for WHERE SHE BELONGS. Five Star/Cengage sends the ARCs to big review sites like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, etc. They also send to a couple of romance sites and a couple of independent reviewers, but with 20 ARCs at my disposal, I wasn’t about to let them go to waste. Several have gone out for review, and I need to save one for the Romantic Times co-op ad I’ll be participating in (the February 2012 issue). The February issue of RT, I’m told, is on newstands and in subscribers’ mailboxes in January, which is when my book will most likely appear in libraries and bookstores despite the December 2011 release date (the shipping date is December 16th, for those who want to mark their calendars and order from Amazon) and the in-store date is January 6th, but the likelihood is you’ll need to special order from stores or order on-line, considering Five Star/Cengage is primarily a library press. I’ll probably give the remaining ARCs to family and friends.

As I was packaging another ARC for mailing today, it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet shared the back cover copy for the story. I now have it, because it’s on the back of the ARCs! WHERE SHE BELONGS finaled in the Long Contemporary category of the Golden Heart contest in 2007 under the title, Her Hometown Man. The final product is much tighter and leaner. As I read the ARC to proof for errors, again I was struck by how much I love this book. Am I ever glad I didn’t let it sit under the bed gathering dustballs. Am I ever glad I decided to take it out again and work on it, because that Golden Heart entry led me, in a roundabout way, to submitting to Five Star.

Here’s the blurb:

She never wants to go home again.

For Jess Morgan, Destiny Falls holds too many painful memories. Nine years ago, a logging accident near the remote timber town killed her dad and her high school sweetheart. Despite Jess’s broken heart, her mother immediately sought comfort with another man. That choice tore Jess apart and drove her to seek a life far away. But now fate steps in, and family obligations force her return home. Before long, she’s convinced that persuading her mom to live with her in Toronto will repair their bond and Jess’s own sense of belonging. However, she doesn’t count on a long-ago friend re-entering her life and challenging those same convictions.

Rugged forester Adam Wright believes in family, roots, and not running from heartache. Now, all he wants is to help Jess break down the walls of the lonely sanctuary she’s built for herself and heal her past hurts. But it’s not until she rejects his proposal that Adam realizes his dogged persistence has pushed her even further away—not at all what he intended. Has he lost his chance? Or can he convince Jess that where she truly belongs is with him…forever?

Set amidst British Columbia’s lush forests, WHERE SHE BELONGS delivers an engaging romance with complex characters, honest emotion, and heart.

Yes, this book is a far cry from BORROWING ALEX and HEAD OVER HEELS, which are both comedies. I never fail to cry when I read certain scenes from WHERE SHE BELONGS, and I hope the story touches readers’ hearts as much as it has this writer’s heart.

I was once told by an industry professional that I didn’t know when to give up on a story. You’re damn right I don’t. I refuse to give up on a publishable book just because it doesn’t suit the one editor at the one house who could consider it at the time (the book was originally targeted to a category romance publisher). I believed in myself, and I believed in my story. I reworked and reworked it until it was ready to share with my readers. And am I ever glad I did. I love this book!

Small But Important Changes Coming

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

As some of you know, my website was hacked by a web bot looking for open security doors way back in October 2009. The problem was brought to my attention by Google alerts and then fixed by a professional web designer and blog coder in November 2009, but Trend Micro (an anti-virus program) has declared my blog and website “dangerous” ever since. Every once in a while I receive an email from someone saying they can’t visit my website or blog because their AV program is telling them not to. And every single time I ask which AV program they use, it’s Trend Micro.

This has been very disturbing to me, as over 18 months have passed, a professional website designer and coder fixed the problem for me, but because my site had a problem for one month in 2009 it seems like TM will make me pay forever. The feeling seems to be that if the blog ever had the problem, it might have the problem again. But I know the mistake I made when I updated my blog back in 2009 that led to the problem, and I don’t need to be taught the same lesson twice. I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll go back to a professional to ensure I don’t make the same mistake.

At any rate, I am very happy to announce that my main website URL – www.cindyprocter-king.com – and my blog URL referrer – www.museinterrupted.com – have now both been declared safe by Trend Micro. I had to fill out some form a TM tech told me about and send it in for each of my three URLs.

People with Trend Micro, however, still can’t visit www.cindyprocter-king.com/blog without getting the warning. So, in essence, they can’t visit www.museinterrupted.com either, because it will bring them to the URL Trend Micro doesn’t like. If they put my blog URL into their safe lists, then they don’t get the warning. I hosted several guest bloggers after the 2009 problem who had Trend Micro. All of them inputted my site names into their safe lists and had no problems. But, once a problem always a problem is the way I feel this situation is being treated by the AV software. And that is their right.

To try and fix the issue, I need to change the name of my blog link. I don’t know when I’ll get time to do that. A shoulder injury is limiting my computer time. But at least TM users should now be able to visit my home page and books pages without getting a warning. They just can’t click on my blog link.

Once  the changes are made and I receive assurance from TM that the blog tests as “safe”, you can bet I’ll be announcing it all over the place. I’ll have to. Because my blog URL will have changed.

Where She Belongs ARCs!

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Between Penny and, well, myself, I’ve published with several different publishers and have never received a box of print ARCs before (Advanced Reading Copies, for those not in the know). The “proofing” of the manuscript (the last chance an author has to catch errors in the typesetting before the “real” book is printed), for me, has always arrived by email in PDF form. So here I am, a good little writer, patiently waiting for the proofs for WHERE SHE BELONGS, my December release from Five Star/Cengage, to arrive in PDF form in my in-box, when a knock comes at the door.

I was expecting a delivery for My Liege, so wasn’t surprised to see a UPS van in the driveway. But the box the UPS woman delivered was much smaller than the package we’ve been expecting. Then she told me who had sent it—one of my publishers. I quickly scribbled in the little electronic window, raced to my office (already late for a doctor’s appointment), and tore open the box, wondering how my author’s copies could have arrived already when I hadn’t proofed the book yet,

Twit.

WHERE SHE BELONGS is being published in library-edition hardcover, but the box contained several trade paperback copies and a list of where Five Star/Cengage has sent the book for review. Now I need to read one of the copies for errors and report them to the publisher, if I do find any. Then, what do I do with these babies? First thing is to make a media kit and then mail kit and book samples to other review outlets (like Romantic Times). Seeing as I’m Canadian, I’ll also try a home-grown publication or two. It can hurt. The worst thing that can happen is a reviewer tries to sell my ARCs on eBay, which is a no-no.

Okay, I know you really want to see the ARCs, so here’s the box. Then I’ll blab some more:

Ain’t they a thing of beauty? Notice how Procter is spelled with an E? Henceforth, always spell Procter with an E! It’s time to tick off the Proctors of the world. We “ers” have had enough.

Now, see that little white sticker on each book? It says NOT FOR SALE. That’s because these are Advance Reading Copies and are only supposed to be used for review purposes. So if you’re a reader and have never seen a book with “Advance Reading Copy—Not For Sale” on it for sale at your favorite used book store, that’s very good. If you have ever bought an Advance Reading Copy thinking it’s something special and you’re supporting the author, well, you aren’t supporting the author and buying the ARC is…not very good. In fact it’s kinda bad. Authors really disprove of it. And so do publishers. These copies might have typesetting errors and are not for public consumption, so to speak. But if you don’t send ARCs to review sites and magazines months ahead of the book’s release, then the book won’t get reviewed in time. If the reviewer for wherever it’s sent chooses to review it.

Authors don’t make a penny–nay, not even a ha’penny—off the sale of ARCs. The only person making money off the sale of an ARC is the person selling it. Which is unlike buying your favorite author’s novels at your favorite used bookstore. You know, when they don’t say ARC on them. When someone has bought them new, hopefully read them, then taken them to the USB. USB book sales don’t earn authors any money, either. Authors only earn money (in the form of royalties—a tiny percentage of the cover price) on print books when that first initial sale is made, in the bookstore, drug store, or grocery store. OR from on-line bookstores selling the book NEW (as opposed to used). Every time a book is sold after that initial sale, at garage sales or used book stores or library “these books are worn out” sales, or EBay and similar sites, the author doesn’t make a dime. But generally we’re okay with that. Used book stores and the like can subject our work to a wider audience, and hopefully that audience will someday buy new (or ask for a copy of the book to come into their local library). But buying ARCs? Try to restrain yourself, I beg you.

That’s my lecture for the day. I didn’t intend to give one. It just somehow happened.

Now, let’s all clap for ARCs!!!

RWA National Notes: Mass Market and E-Book Pricing

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

New York, New York!

The highlights of my week in New York didn’t begin and end with seeing four musicals on Broadway. That was a major, to be sure, but not the reason I flew across the continent for the second time in a month (the first being the trip to Newfoundland with my husband in early June). I hadn’t been to an RWA National Conference in three years, so I was really looking forward to this one, and it did not disappoint.

On Tuesday, June 27th, I atttended The Golden Network Retreat, which was an all-day affair this year. Any RWA member who has finaled in the Golden Heart (unpublished manuscripts) contest, in the current year or any previous year, and who is a member of The Golden Network Chapter (ie. you must pay your dues) can attend the Retreat. I’ve attended three times, and each time has been more beneficial than the last. Honestly, I can’t remember what happened at the Retreat in 2007… Wait, just typing that brought back the memories. It was a Q&A session with agents and editors, but that was back before publishing took a nosedive. In 2008, it was another Q&A, and we were given the opportunity to do some speed-pitching. This year, it was another Q&A, featuring a morning and also an afternoon session. The same questions each session, but different agents and editors answering them.

The twist this year was that TGN members were to send in our questions a couple of months ago. Around April, if I remember correctly. They kept saying they needed questions, so I sent a few along (I won’t say which ones…ahem). At the time, the digital imprint from one of the “Big Six,” Avon Impulse, had just opened up and announced they would pay 25% on net royalties for the first 10,000 copies and 50% thereafter. So one of the questions sent in and asked of the panel was whether they thought 25% of net was “fair” to the writer. Well. The morning panel nearly didn’t want to answer the question. The afternoon panel did answer it, and the conversation became quite heated. The upshot was that agents didn’t think the 25% on net was fair, but editors (speaking for their houses, anyway) did. I also heard an editor say that ebooks should be priced the same as mass market paperbacks, which really surprised me. People who read ebooks are getting quite accustomed to paying below-mmpb prices, both because of on-line retailers like Amazon heavily discounting ebooks in effort to sell e-readers and because self-publishing (now usually termed “indie” publishing, because it’s easier to type, not being so many letters, plus it sounds cooler) has grown by leaps and bounds over the last year, and indie authors have learned that pricing books at $2.99 is the “sweet point” and that super-low pricing like .99 cents for a full-length novel might boost their sales (there’s also the argument that the super low pricing diminishes the value of the reading experience, but that’s a debate for another post). Authors who self-publish via Kindle at the $2.99 price point or higher earn 70% royalties, whereas authors who self-publish below $2.99 earn 35% royalties. So you can see why the question of 25% on net royalties being “fair” was asked by…someone.

At any rate, readers of ebooks have become accustomed to NOT paying the same as they would pay for a mass market paperback. I know I’m certainly not accustomed to paying the same for an ebook as I would a paperback, whether it’s mass market or trade pb. However, now publisher “agency pricing” has entered the picture, which means the publisher sets the price for their ebooks sold on places like Amazon. Amazon doesn’t set the pricing. And if the publisher decides their ebooks should be priced the same as their mass markets, then they will be. They are in control, not Amazon.

I understand the arguments about the publishers being in control of their own pricing, I just don’t understand the logic behind pricing ebooks the same as mass markets. Okay, if a publisher were to issue an ebook at the same time as the hardcover (hardcovers are usually released several months to a year before the mass market paperback), then I guess they could charge the same for the ebook as they would the mmpb. Because, well, if the mmpb isn’t available at the same time as the ebook, if only the ebook and a hardcover are available, then go for it. Price the ebook like you would the mmpb, then sit back and see what happens. But once the mmpb becomes available, or if a hardcover isn’t published at all (the vast majority of romance novels, which are either mmpb, trade pb or digital-first), then pricing the mmpb the same as the ebook…it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Isn’t the idea to sell more books, not less? Will the faithful reader pay the same for an ebook as a mmpb, even though she doesn’t have a paper copy to put on her bookshelf, lend to a friend, or sell to a used bookstore? I wouldn’t. I’d buy the mass market paperback because it’s more “tangible.” And I can take it into the bathtub.

Now, I love ebooks, and I love my Kindle. It’s very easy to order books, and for some reason I read them faster on my Kindle. But I don’t want to pay the same price as I would for a mass market or a trade paperback (and so far, I haven’t), because I don’t like jamming up my Kindle with books I’ve already read. I delete them (yes, even from the archive). It takes a lot for me to keep an ebook. But then it takes a lot for me to keep a paperback. I feel better about buying ebooks, because I’m not contributing to the landfill when I want to get rid of them, and I don’t have to stress about HOW I’m going to get rid of them without contributing to the landfill, either (I always feel a bit guilty recycling books, but I confess that I very often do). To my way of thinking, agency pricing is a way for publishers to protect their sales…but at what cost? How many readers will turn to self-published authors for the inexpensive reads they used to fulfill through waiting for the mass market to come out? How many readers will boycott authors published by traditional publishers because of agency pricing? Even though the trad-pubbed author has no control over the pricing? How many authors will be told by their houses that they aren’t selling, while ebook sales are going through the roof, but, weird, it’s the ebooks that are priced below mass market pbs that are selling like hotcakes. If the Big Six lowered their prices on ebooks, maybe those authors who “aren’t selling,” who are forced to take new names or who are simply just dropped from the house, might start selling—to the audience that has become accustomed to not paying the same for digital as they do for print.

Thoughts?

On Broadway!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I’m back from the RWA National Conference in New York and have settled into my kinda/sorta regular routine. So I thought I’d share some of my conference highlights. Those began with attending four Broadway musicals. I hadn’t seen a Broadway performance since before RWA National 2003, which was also in New York. Then, My Liege went with me to New York for five days preceding the conference, and we tootled all over the place, taking in three musicals and one drama (we caught Bernadette Peters in Gypsy, Antonio Banderas in Nine, the guy who played Mr. Cunningham on Happy Days in Cabaret, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Dennehy in, I believe, a Tennessee Williams play that pretty much put us to sleep except for Mr. Hoffman’s amazing performance. He stole the show.)

This time I went sans the DH and roomed with Susan Lyons (who also writes as Susan Fox). We both arrived late Saturday night, June 25th. It was a 3-hour time change for both of us, and I wanted to catch some Broadway and catch up on my sleep before my first official conference event, The Golden Network Retreat, which occurred on Tuesday, June 27th.

The entire conference began a day early this year, to accommodate the July 4th holiday weekend in the States. Canada Day (July 1st) also occurred during conference. Alas, I confess, I completely forgot about it until I strolled into the Samhain Publishing book signing later in the week  (Samhain is publishing Penny’s first single title in November) and spied Canadian author Vivian Arend giving away mini-Aero bars. I quickly nabbed up two, which was fairly greedy of me, considering I can buy Aero bars whenever I want (as long as I’m in Canada) and Americans can’t. Well, tough. It was Canada Day, and I wanted my Canadian chocolate! (If you’re not jealous, you should be—those chocolate bubbles are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!)

I’m getting ahead of myself.

On Sunday Susan and I slept in, then over-indulged in Broadway. First, here’s a photo from our hotel window (it was overcast that day).

We’d purchased tickets to The Addams Family matinee and the evening performance of Chicago. So we had a great lunch, then saw The Addams Family. I thoroughly enjoyed it. So far, The Addams Family was the #1 musical of the four I wound up seeing during my week in New York. Not hard to accomplish when it’s the first I saw. 🙂

But it was truly excellent. The set reminded me of being stuck in The Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland for two hours. Bebe Neuwirth played Morticia (if you don’t know who she is, remember Frasier Crane’s wife from Cheers? That’s her) and Roger Rees played Gomez (he played one of Kirstie Alley’s boyfriends on Cheers—small world!).

When the performance ended, we learned that it was Ms. Neuwirth’s last performance in the role, which had been written for her. A few men in suits came out and sung her praises. Roger Rees sung her praises, and then she sung everyone else’s praises. Except she more like spoke them. The actual singing occurred during the play.

I’ve never attended an actor’s final Broadway performance in a particular show before, so that was fun.

Following the performance, Susan and I scarfed down a quick dinner, then went to Chicago, where we sat in the first row of the mezzanine (The Addams Family, we were in the left orchestra, aisle seats).

I loved Chicago and was more familiar with it than The Addams Family, because I didn’t watch TAF TV show growing up and the music was all new to me. Whereas I’ve seen the movie version of Chicago a couple of times.

As of the Chicago viewing, my score was (1) The Addams Family (2) Chicago (the set was much simpler and the orchestra was on stage, which necessitated the actors singing and dancing in front of the orchestra, which necessitated a bit of leaning forward in our first row mezzanine seats).

On Monday I pretty much ran around trying to figure out why my cell phone didn’t work in the States (turns out it was because I use pre-paid minutes instead of a monthly plan). After three phone calls, I learned I could buy a post-paid cell phone with a different number, but it would have cost $90 for only a few days. Worse, every time someone called me the call would have been routed through Estonia. Estonia? I wasn’t putting any of my writer friends through that. Ridunkulous.

Monday night I decided to go see Mamma Mia. Susan remained behind because she’s seen it before. Now, first, you must understand that I lack all sense of direction. To me, “north” is wherever my feet are pointing. So Susan had to shepherd me through wherever we visited in New York until I made my way out of the hotel on my own for the first time to see Mamma Mia. I had the address and a badly drawn map from a guy at the ground floor desk. I just walked “with purpose,” pretending I knew where I was going. Eventually, I realized I was heading the right direction, and soon I was at Winter Gardens.

I had a mid-row seat in the right orchestra, with two French-speaking families on either side of me. Now, I totally love the movie version of Mamma Mia. It really tugs at my heart strings, and the Broadway version did, too. The song where Donna is singing about her little girl going off to school always makes me cry. It made me cry during the movie because, at the time, my then 20-year-old son was moving away to university for the first time. Last Monday night, sitting in the theater, I had to blink back tears again because in a few weeks that same son is moving to the Middle East to teach school for a year. Later, someone without kids mentioned, “But you don’t have daughters. Why would that song make you cry?” It’s not the sex of the child, it’s the fact they’re leaving. And when mine is leaving for the Middle East and I know I won’t see him for 11 months unless I travel over there (an option that is not off the menu at this point!), how could that song about “slipping through my fingers” not make me want to cry?

Also, the actress did a damn fine job. Mamma Mia didn’t have any big names that I recognized, but it quickly became my favorite of the three musicals I’d caught so far, because of the emotion the movie (and the play) always elicits in me. First, Donna had to sing the song about the little girl slipping through her fingers and then she and one of the male leads had to sing a song about their lost love. Between the two, I was a blithering sob-fest. How’s that for a musical that’s supposed to leave ’em dancing in the aisles?

Still, it was now (1) Mamma Mia (2) The Addams Family and (3) Chicago.

Conference began, and soon there was no time for Broadway. Except…except…Susan had heard that How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Harry Potter Guy (aka Daniel Radcliffe) and John Laroquette (remember Night Court?), was really, really good. It was Thursday night, and I was supposed to meet friends in the bar (sorry). But—but—Broadway was beckoning! And I’m a lousy drinker. One drink, and I’m floating away on clouds of glory. So I try not to indulge too often.

I regret not seeing the buddy I planned to meet (but I did see her during a Spotlight the next day). However, How to Succeed was spectacular. I can’t recall the decade in which it’s supposed to be set, but the flavor of the stage was like something from Mad Men. The set was changed a lot, and Harry Potter Guy worked so hard in his role. So did John Laroquette, who, I might note, has about the longest arms I’ve seen in person (he appeared in Boston Legal, too. Loved that show). Between the two of them singing and dancing, the talented male and female dancers, the female lead, the story line (which revolved around a self-help book that spirited our hero to the top of the corporate ladder), and the intricate sets and mood of the story, I was totally hooked. Hands down, it was my favorite musical of the four. The list then ran at (1) How to Succeed (2) Mamma Mia (3) The Addams Family and (4) Chicago. But all four were magnificent in their own ways. I would completely recommend any of them.