Jenna Black's Blog Experiment

Wherein romance author Jenna Black plunges into the terrifying new territory of blogging . . .


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nerves of Steel--Not!

In September, I'm teaching my first online course ever, for my local RWA chapter. The course is called "Never Give Up--The Stubborn Person's Road to Publication." In it, I'm going to try to give struggling writers tips on how to stay in the game for the long haul.

I'm excited to do it, because I'd love to help motivate people who are in the throes of frustration, as I was for many years. But it's also a scary prospect because I've never done anything like this before. It's amazing how intimidating that first time can be--even though I'm confident I know my material and know intellectually that I can handle it. It's just that I can't reach back into any well of experience to tell myself "You've done this before, you can do it again." (If anyone's interested in signing up for this class, you can find more details here.)

Of course, I've also never had a book commercially published before, so (as you know if you've been reading my posts lately) I'm one big raw nerve right now anyway. October 31st (the official release date for Watchers in the Night) can't come soon enough!

To make matters worse, my agent will also be shopping my urban fantasy novel. I've sold four books now. You'd think that would mean I'd be calm, cool, and collected about this whole submission process, right? Nope! The submission process still makes me anxious, especially now that I'm submitting in a second genre. I also really, really love this book, and I really hope it sells. (My agent doesn't seem to worried about that--it's wonderful to have someone have so much confidence in me--but after so many rejections on my road to publication, I can't help my pessimistic tendencies.)

So, any writers out there who think everything will suddenly become easy once you sell--I hate to disillusion you, but it just plain doesn't. And I'm very thankful that there are a whole lot of published authors in my local RWA chapter who were able to warn me of this phenomenon in advance. I think if it weren't for them, I'd have been really shocked to find myself in this state. It's good to know I'm not the only one.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Promo Frenzy

"Frenzy" seems to be my theme lately! I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm not working on a book right this moment. It leaves me with too much time to think about--and stress about--my upcoming release. So, these past couple of days I've been obsessing about my promotional efforts. I've had these tri-fold brochures printed up that contain a little snippet from my book, as well as the cover art, the back cover blurb, and a number of really nice author quotes. I've been busily stuffing them into boxes and envelopes, sending them out to various local RWA conferences to put in goodie bags. I've also been sending out my very limited number of advance reading copies to a few bookstores that Sue Grimshaw (the Borders/Waldenbooks romance buyer I met in Atlanta) suggested would be the most useful.

Lastly, I've been stressing about doing a booksigning in my area. I'm supposed to do a signing at a Barnes & Noble that has been very supportive of my local chapter. However, I'm currently scheduled to do it on Halloween (the day my book comes out), and that's beginning to look like a bad idea. An awful lot of people have said that they can't come that day because of family obligations. So, now I'm trying to get in touch with the CRM (customer relations manager) who set this up to see if it's too late to change the date. I hope it's not, because I'd hate to do a big book launch party and have none of my local RWA chapter mates be able to come!

I think the two and a half months remaining until my release date are going to be a real test of nerves for me. So far, I'd give myself a D+ for keeping them under control. I just hope I can get better at it as time goes on or I'm going to be a total nervous wreck by November. But, at least I'm channeling a lot of that nervous energy into things that are worthwhile, like sending out these brochures and advance reading copies. Always look on the bright side, right?

I wonder, am I going to be this way before all releases? *Shudder* Or is this a special level of nerves just because it's the first one? (Please, for my sanity, let it be the latter!)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Reading Frenzy

Having gotten back from the RWA National conference two weeks ago with a ton of new books, and having actually met my August 1st deadline, I've been going on quite a reading binge lately. I love it! Love of reading is what got me into writing in the first place, naturally, so I was somewhat bummed out to have to set it aside for a while as I scrambled to meet my deadline.

The first book I read when I got back was Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder. It was a finalist for the Rita award (the top award given out by RWA) in the best first book category, and it has an absolutely gorgeous cover that caught my eye from across the room. The book was more of a fantasy than a romance, though there was a lovely romantic element running through it. I absolutely loved it. I almost read it through in one sitting, but at one AM I decided I had to go to bed. The premise is that a young woman scheduled to be executed for murder is given a chance to escape the gallows--if she agrees to become the food taster for the ruler of her country. To ensure that she won't run away, she's given a lethal poison during her training, and must report in daily to get her antidote. I highly recommend it--go out and buy it!

In the last couple of days, I've read Thrill me to Death, a romantic suspense by Roxanne St. Claire, and Entertaining Mr. Stone, an erotic romance by Portia Da Costa. Thrill me to Death is the second book in Roxanne's Bullet Catchers series and is indeed a thrilling, fun, fast read. She's one of my auto-buy authors, so it was no surprise that I picked this one up and devoured it.

Entertaining Mr. Stone was a little more surprising to me. The publisher, Black Lace, gave out free books in the goodie room at the RWA conference, so I picked them up. I've enjoyed erotic romances before, but with the exception of Emma Holly, who is possibly one of my favorite authors of all time, I usually don't find them terribly compelling. This one, though, I did find compelling. Something about the voice drew me in and made me keep reading. For one thing, I didn't have a real feeling like I knew where it was going to end up. There's a predictability in many of the erotic romances I've read (not that I've read all that many, so this is a terrible generalization) that I didn't find in this one.

I especially expected to be put off when I found out it was told in first person present tense, and when I realized how many Britishisms were in there. But I easily forgot about the unusual tense and voice choices, and I skimmed over the Britishisms I didn't understand easily. It's definitely not the right book for the conservative reader--it has some of the most kinky sex I've ever read--but if you like erotic romance you might want to check it out.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'm Back

Wow. It's amazing to look back and see that I haven't posted to this blog in over a month. Where did the time go?

Well, it went into getting Shadows on the Soul written and ready to submit by August 1st! For the first time ever for me, a book actually went longer than I was expecting. My usual MO is to get to around page 280-300 and start panicking that the book isn't going to be long enough. (No matter how many books I've written, no matter how many times I've proven to myself that yes, the book will be long enough, I still have that knee-jerk panic reaction.) So I knew it was going to run long when I hit that point and wasn't panicking.

I was estimating my writing quota per day based on the projection that the final book would be 380 manuscript pages. It ended up being 408 pages instead. Which meant I was really having to pump out the page at the end. (Actually, when I get to close to the end of a book, I usually end up writing faster and longer anyway--with the finish line on the horizon, I get even more obsessive than usual.)

Anyway, I got the manuscript and my own revisions done, and then printed it out and took it to Atlanta with me for the RWA national conference. By this time, I was royally sick of the book, but I managed to proofread the whole thing over the course of the conference. Meanwhile, my wonderful husband was also reading through it, catching errors I didn't catch myself. Hopefully, this means it isn't a total mess!

And yes, I turned it in by my August 1st deadline. Unfortunately, my editor informs me that there are three manuscripts ahead of mine in her editorial queue, which means I'll have to wait until mid-September to see how she likes it. It's going to be a long and nerve-wracking wait, because (as I think I made clear in my last post) I took some chances on this book. We'll have to see what she thinks!



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