What a great weekend I had in Orange, CA! As I have alerted over the past weeks, on Saturday September 22 I was part of a panel discussion on Jane Austen Sequels and Adaptations. The 1st Annual Big Orange Book Festival took place on the gorgeous campus of Chapman University. At 9am I joined fabulous author Syrie James – The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, Dracula My Love, Nocturne – and Dr. Lynda Hall, professor of English at Chapman University for an interactive discussion. It was a blast!
Among the topics we covered: how we began writing our unique novels, how writing has changed our life, how we adapt the writings of 19th century authors for a modern readership, what we have learned from life by Jane Austen, our theories on why Austen remains so popular 200 years later, the influence of the cinematic adaptations on Austen’s popularity, and writing the unusual secondary characters.
We were a nice mix. I write sequels with an emphasis on the romantic aspects and came to Austen later in life. Syrie writes from an imagined Jane Austen point-of-view, cleverly filling in missing pieces of her life. Dr. Hall is, of course, the scholar writing academic dissertations about Austen novels. We kept the discussion light and fun, ending with questions from the listeners.
Most of our listeners came up afterwards to say hello and have us sign books. Cool! I was especially thrilled to meet the lovely Lori Hedgepeth, a longtime fan of the Darcy Saga. I love, love, love meeting my fans!
Afterwards it was time to relax in the “blue room” with several other authors present at the festival for presentations. It was a pleasure to meet romance novelist Nancy Holder. We attended the talk on Sherlock Holmes history by expert Leslie Klinger. It was fascinating!
Thankfully Syrie, Lynda, and I were free after that. Free to stroll the festival and enjoy an extended lunch. Guess what we talked about? Yes, Jane Austen! But lots more too. Lynda is a new friend, but Syrie has been a pal for a long time, although this was our first extended hang-out session. It was fabulous! Lunch at the Filling Station in Orange was super delicious too.
My husband accompanied me for the weekend, making it a nice getaway for us. We ate at our favorite Indian restaurant one night and Outback another, relished the fine weather for a long walk, and visited The Huntington Museum on Sunday. All in all a terrific weekend!
Join me on Tuesday, August 14 as I discuss Jane Austen and the Romance Novel at Blethering About Books as part of Alex’s 7 Weeks of Austen event. I will be giving away a signed copy of Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One. Yippee! While you are there check out the previous entries to celebrate Jane and pop in over the weeks ahead for more fun.
Week 1 – Sense and Sensibility
Week 2 – Pride and Prejudice
Week 3 – Mansfield Park
Week 4 – Emma
Week 5 – Northanger Abbey
Week 6 – Persuasion
Week 7 – All things Austen
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On Wednesday August 15 my “Get to Know the Author” post will appear on the blog of my agent Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary Agency. Scott is awesome! Sorry, just had to squee for a second! Scott is running a series of posts by the romance authors he represents and on 8/15 it is my turn. Come by and maybe you will learn something new about me. Babbles from Scott Eagan – Meet Our Greyhaus Authors: Sharon Lathan
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Also on Wednesday August 15 it is my turn to blog with my Austen Author pals. This time I am sharing some history I learned while attending The Beau Monde Mini-Conference last month.
Regency Magazines, or What Jane was Reading Come on over and learn something new! And see the bookcover for The Passions of Dr. Darcy.
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*On September 1 & 2 over Labor Day weekend in Decatur, Georgia the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival – the largest independent book festival in the nation – is taking place. More than 300 authors in all genres are participating. You can read more about the festival as a whole here: AJC Decatur Book Festival 2012. What is special this year, and where I and many other Austenesque authors come in, is that the Jane Austen Society of North America Atlanta Region is hugely involved and sponsoring a special event. An unprecedented 27 Austenesque authors are participating! Many will be personally present – Abigail Reynolds, Regina Jeffers, Jack Caldwell, Colette Saucier, Pamela Aiden, and Barbara Cole Tiller just to name a very few – and many others are participating remotely, such as me. All the information can be read on Barbara Cole Tiller’s website Darcyholic Diversions with additional links. All of my books will be there with signed bookplates and bookmarks. Someone will be reading selected excerpts from The Passions of Dr. Darcy that have never been shared. Cool! Taken all together this is an amazing event you don’t want to miss if you live in the general Decatur area. I so wish I could be there personally, but even without me it will be fabulous!
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Meredith at Austenesque Reviews with assistance from Jakki at Leatherbound Reviews and Angie Kroll are once again hosting a month of Jane Austen love. Dozens of authors will be involved, including me! For the entire month of September, every day there will be something Austen related happening and giveaways galore. More information on the planned activities can be read HERE.
My part this year is unique. I will be joining Austen Author Colette Saucier, author of Pulse and Prejudice and All My Tomorrows, for a Live Streaming Chat on Sunday September 16. So excited!! I will have more details as we get closer, but right now Meredith is collecting questions that will be asked in our live chat. You can submit your questions NOW by clicking HERE and filling out the form. Go do it!
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“A festival for wordies, film buffs and artists in the heart of Orange County.” On September 21 & 22 Chapman College in Orange, CA is hosting a two-day fest to celebrate every facet of the written word whether it makes you cry, think or laugh out loud. I will be joining a trio of authors including Syrie James – Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen – to speak on “19th Century Romance Fiction” on Saturday September 22 at 9AM. Afterwards I will be signing books too! All the information on this mega event for Southern California can be read here: Big Orange Book Festival Click the “speakers” link to see who will be appearing during the festival. I’m there too! If you live in the area be sure to mark your calendar and stop in to see me.
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I am partaking in the HUGE Night Owl Romance Online Scavenger Hunt taking place all through September and October. What is a Web Hunt? It is similar to a regular scavenger hunt, but performed on the web. You visit websites and find the answer to a question. Along the way you can find great new authors and new titles while entering to win prizes.
Details can be read by clicking the image or above link. 100 romance authors are involved with prizes like you would not believe! I will be giving away FIVE signed copies of Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and a $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Check it out and join into the fun.
My oh my, did I ever have a wonderful vacation! So much happened in the 2 weeks we were gone that it feels like we were on holiday for a month. I can’t begin to relate all of it. Instead I will share a few highlights and add some more pictures. They are worth a thousand words, after all.
First up, enjoy this slideshow of my activities at the RWA. For most of it I could not take photos – such as the workshops – or I was simply forgetful and did not whip out my camera! But I got a bunch of great ones from the signings and Sourcebooks dinner. Here ya go!
Now for a brief – very brief – rundown on my third RWA National Conference experience–
Technically the conference began on Wednesday, June 29 but per tradition the day before is chock full of activities. My husband and I moved hotels that day, just from one Times Square hotel – the Sheraton Towers – to the Marriott Marquis. That took a bit of time but we were fortunate to get right in to our room. I opted not to attend any of the Tuesday activities and instead rested up from our whirlwind NYC tourism of the days ahead. I did meet with my wonderful editor, Deb Werksman, and gave her the written proposal for my current WIP – simply titled Dr. George Darcy to make it easy – and after reading through the whole bit silently – the longest few minutes of my life – her response was: “Wow! This is amazing!” So needless to say, that got my conference experience off to a terrific start! More on that development as time passes.
That night was the Literacy Autographing. Once again some 500 romance novelists jammed in to an enormous ballroom and were then visited by hundreds more readers clamoring for autographs. It was mayhem! The sheer volume of this event is mind-boggling. And headache inducing. But it sure was fun! The best part is that this year the RWA authors brought in over $46,000 to benefit the cause of literacy worldwide. Fabulous!
Opening day began officially with a morning panel Q&A with best-selling authors Tess Gerritsen, Diana Gabaldon, and Steve Berry. It was a 90 minute session that was funny and enlightening. The diverse genres and personalities of the authors set a wonderful tone for the conference to come. Following for me was a meeting with the editorial assistant at Sourcebooks – Susie Benton, and then a meet up with my terrific agent Scott Eagan. Of course there were lots of spontaneous run-ins with author friends I haven’t seen for a year, which is always a highlight.
The luncheon on Wednesday was delicious and accented by a rousing speech by Madeline Hunter. Great way to keep the momentum going! From there it was off to the workshops! I attended a couple in between hallway chats. Never too late to learn something! I only made it to one signing besides our Sourcebooks one (Berkeley) but brought home a mountain of novels for my daughter and I to read.
Dinner that night was a special treat in that my hubby and I left the hotel to meet with Marsha Altman, an Austen Author friend that I have known for many years now but never met. Marsha lives in NY so it was a delight to spend some time with her. Plus she got us onto the subway for the first time! We ate kosher Indian cuisine and it was delicious. For more on Marsha and her novels – among them the recently released Ballad of Gregoire Darcy – visit Austen Authors.
Thursday was more of the same with one great story to add on: Last year my daughter stood in line for almost an hour to have a book signed by the incredible Sherrilyn Kenyon – The Dark Hunter series, among many, many others – but alas we had to leave for a scheduled engagement so she was unable to get the book signed. I have not been forgiven! Until now!! My husband Steve was lucky enough to run in to Sherrilyn in the elevator and told her about Emily. She told him to make sure we got a book signed this year. Well, fortunate for all of us, Ms. Kenyon was the speaker for the award’s banquet on Wed. so I bravely approached her and asked for a signature. She remembered the conversation with Steve and even Emily’s name! In fact, her exact words were, “Now you can tell your daughter you are off the hook for last year.” LOL! Of course I texted Emily right away and the number of exclamation points and happy faces were nearly uncountable. And, yes, she has now forgiven me!
To make the story even better, both Steve and I happened to again meet Sherrilyn at different times in the days that followed, and both times she mentioned Emily by name. That is incredible! And seriously, if you haven’t read a Sherrilyn Kenyon book, you should. Plus, her speech was simply stunning.
Thursday also included our Sourcebooks book signing, which was a blast, and then our dinner. Taken altogether it was an incredible day. I did attend a couple workshops as well, but socializing seemed to dominate the day for sure! I was interviewed for a segment on the conference that I have not yet seen, but do have a link to an About.com article on the conference that features my picture. Cool! That article can be read here–
Friday was a bit more low key. I started with a great breakfast at Johnny’s – yum! – with a group of writer friends, attended a stimulating discussion on the history of sex by the always titillating Delilah Marvelle (fabulous writer and good friend), learned a bit about media marketing, and then had another fun meal – pizza this time – with another group of friends. Why do the best times revolve around food? LOL! Also on Friday was the Spotlight on Sourcebooks and naturally it is encouraging to hear my publisher, editor, publicist, and sales manager talk about the company that publishes my books. Basically a state-of-the-union session!
Friday night this year I opted not to attend the RITA awards – although I was rooting for my pals Kendra Leigh Castle and Joanne Kennedy (neither won ) No, instead Steve and I ate at an Irish pub – double yum! – and went to see Mamma Mia! Thus ending the RWA experience with some ABBA 80′s fun.
The entire trip was beyond words to describe. My husband and I are coming up on 25 years of marriage – on July 19th to be precise – so this trip was definitely a second honeymoon. Between our wonderful week in Massachusetts with leisurely treks to New Hampshire and Maine, and then the week in NYC it was the perfect way to celebrate. Even if I was dubbed “sarge” for taking us on marathon treks to see it all! We didn’t quite see it “all” but we got close. Skip down to the blog entry on NYC with the slideshow and an update there. Or click this link to read my update and view the images:
We stayed over on Saturday July 2, and made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We were there for hours and still only saw a fourth of the place, probably a sixth. That place is massive! I could not tear myself away from the medieval art, armour, and 18th-19th century art. Wow! I was in heaven. Here is another slideshow of a select favorites from the Met. Yes it is a lot of images but trust me, we took a ton more! These are merely the ones I adore the most–
Our big NYC finale was a lovely Italian dinner and then Wicked. Oh my! It was amazing! In the end we could not decide which play we liked the best since all three were so enjoyable. But, I have to say Wicked is the one I would go out of my way to see again. It was phenomenal. Ending the night with a slice of New York cheesecake was the last hurrah before catching a bit of sleep in prep for the flight home. Done for this year. Whew!
I am continually amazed by my great fortune. Publishing my novels and telling this story is a blessing of unbelievable proportions that I never take for granted. That alone would be enough. Yet to my delight the blessings have not stopped there. As time has passed the number of friends I now count dear to my heart has grown and although I have not been lucky enough to personally meet each one there have been a few. Today I was honored and downright thrilled to welcome Pamela into my home!
All the way from Oregon, Pamela came to sunny California to visit friends and family, including me on that list. How incredible is that? My husband and I were overjoyed to host Pamela, take her to dinner at our favorite Mexican place, and then dessert at Superior Dairy – the best ice cream in the Central Valley. In between we chatted about books, movies, Pride and Prejudice, Matthew Macfadyen, publishing, and so much more. She even lugged all five of my novels with her for me to sign! It was an amazing day that I will never forget.
Thank you, Pamela, for sharing yourself with me. Friends for life! Keep the AGM in mind so we can meet up again.
Whew! It has been a crazy 2 weeks! Actually, more than 2 weeks since we left home on the 18th of July and did not get back home until August 2. I honestly do not know where to begin in recounting my adventures. We did so much as a family and then I attended the Romance Writers of America National conference in Orlando for more excitement. Monday we began the looonnnggg trek home, getting delayed at SFO, and were all so exhausted once we arrived at the humble abode. Now I am trying to get through the piles of clothing, unpacking, and sifting through the photos. Headway is being made, but at a snail’s pace!
I know I will need to separate the memories over several blogs. First I will start with the conference since that is freshest on my mind and also to correspond with our group blog at Casablanca where several of us are sharing photos and memories.
I will get to the main conference in a moment, but for me the fun began early on the 28th. That is the day I transferred to the Dolphin Resort at WDW and started my RWA fun by attending the one-day conference held by the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA. The Beau Monde is an online chapter exclusively for Regency writers and I joined up after last year’s RWA. Many times the learned ladies of the Beau Monde have kindly given me answers to those tough questions not easily found with a Google search. Knowing they are there to assist is a wonderful boon. Each year they hold a separate conference the day before Nationals officially begins and like the amazing organizers of RWA who miraculously rearranged the affair after Nashville sadly flooded and Orlando stepped in, these gals threw the Beau Monde conference together with startling efficiency. And did a fabulous job at it! It was a day of workshops interspersed with a delicious breakfast, luncheon, and afternoon tea. The choices of food and lessons were numerous and tough to pick from, let me tell you! I went with Delilah Marvelle’s titillating talk on the “disreputable lady,” Janet Mullany’s outline of Regency servants, and Sabrina Darby’s interactive discussion on adapting modern situations to the past. In between I visited with old and new friends while eating myself silly. How awesome is that?
Later that night, after the Pro Literacy Signing (more on that in a moment), was the Regency Soiree. I was super excited about this since it was my first opportunity to dress as a Regency lady, ballgown and all! My gorgeous gown was sewn by a dear friend of mine named Rachel, a marvelously talented young lady only 14, who fashioned a stunning garment perfectly tailored to my matronly dimensions.
Above with my daughter Emily, who came with me and was my ladies’ maid! And another of the dress. Below is a closeup of my hair, and posing with fellow Sourcebooks Austen author and friend Abigail Reynolds.
As I mentioned, a break from Regency events was taken for the annual Literacy book signing. Like last year I joined over 500 authors with books to sell and sign for the public, all proceeds going to benefit the cause of literacy worldwide. I had a blast! Sadly I was not seated beside Stephanie Laurens like last year, but that hardly mattered. The crowd was huge and I signed a bunch of books. Highlights personally included fan Michelle who drove many miles with all 3 novels in tow for me to sign. How cool is that? I was additionally blessed by visits from longtime fans Carl and Charly, and Seli and Robert, both couples driving long distances to see me and other favorite authors. We managed to dine with each couple during the course of our stay in Orlando, adding to the incredible delight of my conference.
So much already and that is just the first day, BEFORE the RWA conference technically began! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were filled to the brim with speakers, workshops, luncheons, endless chats with fellow attendees, meeting with friends, appointments with my publicist and editor, and Sourcebooks events. Wowza! The special moments are myriad and photos are in my Portrait Gallery.
My fellow SB authors are dear to me. Our group continues to grow – and that is wonderful – but there are several of us who have been around since the beginning of the romance line. I met with Mary Margret Daughtridge, writer of the SEALed series, and then Terry Spear, writer of a fabulous wolf-shapeshifter series. Meeting these 2 ladies for the first time after all these years was simply amazing. On top of that I got to hang with Robin Kaye, Marie Force, Amelia Grey, Cheryl Brooks, Abigail Reynolds, Judi Fennell, Lydia Dare, Joanne Kennedy, Julie James (not SB but I love her!), AND the newer authors too numerous to name! Some perspective: the first RWA dinner hosted by SB was 2 years ago in San Francisco and there were 10 of us. This year there was over 20! And that isn’t all of us by a long shot! It was rousing fun, let me tell you.
Our dinner was held on Friday night at a restaurant named Ceviche with Spanish-style food that was to die for. Two super stretch limos took us to the place, our party of writers enhanced by the presence of our publisher and CEO, the delightful and awe-inspiring Dominique Raccah; our fabulous editor Deb Werksman; the best publicist in the business, the adorable Danielle Jackson; and our new marketing manager Liz.
Earlier that day The Three Ds – Dominique, Deb, and Danielle – held the Sourcebooks Spotlight. These ladies are powerhouses, let me tell you! Hearing them speak so passionately about Sourcebooks and their united vision for the company and the romance/fiction line is truly breathtaking. The room was filled to overflowing, a goodly number those of us who are already fortunate to be published with them, but many many more who listened intently to the speeches and then flocked forward to take cards, submission guidelines, or chat with the Ds. It was amazing as always.
On Saturday it was our turn to hold a book signing. Our room still isn’t quite as full of authors as the Harlequin or Berkeley ones, but we are growing fast! The crowd was every bit as large. People stood in long lines until let in to meet those of us signing, and I am humbled to say that the line for me was perpetually the longest! Ladies, and one man, waited over 15 minutes just for my 2 books and I signed continually for 2 solid hours. It was unbelievable. It was fantastic to chat with so many people about Jane Austen and my vision for the Darcys, while signing until my hand was cramped. But the big WOW moment was when I looked up to see NYT Bestseller author Nalini Singh standing before me with the sweet-voiced entreaty for both my novels. I am here to tell you, and Emily will attest, that I almost had a heart seizure! I slipped into total fan-girl mania!! Thankfully Nalini was gracious, even posing for a photo.
I was slightly more composed when I encountered Eloisa James on the escalator, but probably only because I had glimpsed her in the hallway about 10 minutes prior so was semi-prepared. She was Lovely with a capitol L. We talked for a good 15 minutes, some about books but mostly about how her speech last year moved and inspired me, on several levels, but partially because of her experience as the mom of a premie in the NICU. This interlude was a high light to be sure.
Take it from me, I am only scratching the surface. I didn’t mention Galean Foley’s Beau Monde speech, or Nora Roberts or Jayne Ann Krentz. I didn’t touch on the things I learned that will help me to be a better writer and deal with this crazy business. And I haven’t said a word about the great report from my editor and publicist! You will just have to bear with me a bit longer on some of that. For now, pop over to the Portrait Gallery to see a bunch more photos. I still need some time to unpack, sleep, and assimilate all of it. Trust me, I will share more and talk about the family visits that were beyond fantastic.