Saturday, May 12, 2007

Book signings

From left to right, Connie Brockway, Michele Dunaway, Alexa Hunt (aka Shirl Henke) at MORWA's after-the-meeting book signing.

I don't do many book signings anymore. I don't play much golf either. I consider the reasons for both about the same.

First, let me say I love both golf and book signings. I see the chance to sell even one book to a new reader as a thrilling experience. The trouble is the time factor. Book stores expect you to sell mega books in two hours, not just five to ten. Since I'm not Nora or John Grisham, that's probably not going to happen. After my first signings, I noticed my numbers sold at signings went down. My family and friends came to my first signings, but now they don't stop or blink an eye. My being published is "old hat," just like them being journalists, or teachers or something. Just another day at the office.

Golf is about the same way. I discovered that my second time playing, I birdied on the second hole. I've never done as well since. For me, the ideal golf date is tooling around, tearing across the course in the golf cart trying to see who can be the first one to the next green. Since you're not supposed to do that, get the idea.

Book signings can be the same way. The first ones are fun and exciting. Doing one for every book can get old quickly, and if you aren't Nora or someone "really" famous, you'll sit there and smile a lot. The only people who talk to you want directions to the bathrooms. There are others who hover at the end of the aisle and whisper about you. You keep smiling anyway.

Don't get me wrong. Both book signings and golf can be a lot of fun when done properly. With signings, you have to be willing to get out from behind the table and pimp yourself. Yep, that' s the only word for it. You have to be willing to talk to everyone who glances at you. Think of walking through all the sales booths in the middle of the mall. That person who jumps out and offers you hand cream--that has to be you with your book.

Just as golf is more fun to play with someone, so are book signings. Having someone there to chat with while people are chatting about you makes you feel a bit less conspicuous. It also makes the time fly, and if you tag-team the reader who stops for one author, you can often get them to buy both books. You're also guaranteed at least one sale--the other author at the table.

Now I've been a little tongue in cheek here, but all of the above is true. If the other authors are willing to share some of their funny signing experiences.....

And, if you are at RWA this summer, come see me and chat. If nothing else, I promise to know where the bathroom is.


Friday, May 11, 2007

A hundred lives to lead

Anyone who reads my personal blog ( knows I'm into bird-watching these days. In fact, I've already included something about bird-watching in two of my books. In A SECOND CHANCE (April 2007, Hotel Marchand series) I had a couple of characters who were staying at the hero's B&B in Louisiana, intent on looking for the rare (and probably extinct) ivory-billed woodpecker. And in an upcoming Harlequin American (GOOD HUSBAND MATERIAL, Jan. 2008) my heroine has lots of birdfeeders and loves to sit and watch birds out her window.

But bird-watching is just one of a whole string of hobbies. The fact is, I am a serial hobbyist. I'll take up something for a year or two, tire of it (or discover I'm no good at it) and move on to something else. But though I never get really good at anything, the hobbies serve a useful purpose, aside from getting me out of the house: I include them in my books! To date, here are some of my hobbies that have made it into my books: scuba diving/snorkeling, cooking, archeology, growing roses, renovating old houses, astrology, storm chasing, oil painting, bicycling, jewelry making.

Some of the hobbies I only tried briefly. Storm chasing, for example, was too scary, too time consuming, and required expensive equipment. My roses all died. I was dreadful at oil painting, and I decided jewelry making wasn't all that much fun. Some hobbies became lifelong pursuits--bicycling and renovating old houses are two I've stuck with.

But, believe it or not, I still have a few hobbies I haven't yet used. I've never had a character who was an antiques dealer, for instance. Or a mosaic artist. Or a treasure hunter. Or a rock climber. I've shown dogs and dug for crystals. I was into stargazing for a while. Played the guitar, mandolin and electronic keyboard (none of them very well). I even (gasp!) used to hunt birds.

If only I had a hundred lives to lead, maybe I could get good at all of these activities. Unfortunately there's only me, and only twenty-four hours in a day, so usually I don't do more than skim the surface and move on. But by living vicariously through my characters, I can get a taste of what it would feel like to be a real archeologist. Or a chef. Or a ... I dunno. I could use a new hobby. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007



Once A Cowboy came out in February and I received mail about the sexy cowboy on the cover. Yes, he was sexy! But I also received mail wanting to know if my grandmother was like Naddy in the book.

No, absolutely not. She was just the opposite. And since readers have asked, I’ll tell you about her. And if you have a colorful character in your life, please share. They make our life interesting and fun.

My grandmother, my mother’s mother, was a devout Polish Catholic and she lived with us. She prayed in Polish and as kids my brothers and I tried to be very good around her. We didn’t want her talking to God about us in a language we didn’t understand. Every Sunday at seven a.m. we were in church for mass. My grandmother had her special seat, on the end of the row and my brothers and I jockeyed not to sit by her. I somehow always got squeezed in by Grandma.

We loved our grandmother, but she was very strict about church. You had to stay awake. We played hard on Saturdays and getting up at 5:30 a.m. to go to church was difficult for little kids. Every time I would doze off my grandmother would pinch my cheek. Hard. My right cheek was numb most of my growing up years.

She passed away when I was seventeen-years-old and I can remember her funeral vividly. It was late October, cool and drizzling rain. I remember standing in the light rain and wishing she’d pinch my cheek one more time. It was the first time I became aware of death and it’s finality.

Wherever Grandma is she’s praying in Polish and probably shaking her head at my romance novels. I’m not sure what she would think of them. She’d probably pinch my cheek.

Linda Warren