All He Wanted for Christmas Was His Two Front Teeth

While we were on vacation in Yosemite, my oldest son (12) was playing in the snow in the courtyard with his best friend while my husband and I and the other boy’s parents were inside the lounge having a drink. He honestly wasn’t doing anything that SEEMED particularly dangerous…all the adults had seen what they were doing and shrugged it off. But just after our beers arrived, the best friend came running in to inform us that my son had broken his teeth. I am sure you can imagine my reaction!

Turns out they were throwing snowballs at each other. My son reached down to get a handful of snow, turned around, and tripped over a rock. He fell and before he could get his hands out to catch himself, he hit a low lamppost dead-on with his front teeth, chipping both of them pretty severely.

before

I defy any mother to see that and not a) want to weep and b) have visions of dollar signs dance in her head.

Fortunately, though, there was no nerve involvement and within a couple of hours, the pain had abated to the point that we decided to stay through our originally planned vacation (there was some talk about coming home early right after it happened), and the kid even went snowboarding the next day. (We earned the title of “the dental family” as apparently, the story of how he broke his teeth made it all over the mountain by the end of the day.

Yesterday, we went to the dentist, and the x-rays were reassuring. There’s no telling, of course, whether the trauma will ultimately kill the teeth, resulting in the need for a root canal/crown, but there was no visible internal damage. In the afternoon, we went back and the dentist (who squeezed us in at the last minute and stayed late for us) patched him up. And I swear, if I didn’t know…I’d never know!

after

This is one of those times when I’m exceptionally glad I live in the era of modern dentistry!

Twelve Nights of Christmas…for YOU!

So, I’ve just returned from a rejuvenating vacation in Yosemite National Park, complete with picture-postcard perfect snow and a really kick-ass day of skiing (although, toward the end, it was a bit like skiing in mashed potatoes due to the white-out conditions), and I’ve now got a few minutes to announce my posting schedule for the next few weeks.

As it happens, I’m an old-fashioned girl in a lot of ways, and one of those ways is in the celebration of the Chistmas holiday. I’m a big believe in the REAL twelve days of Christmas (i.e., Christmas Day through Epiphany). This means my kids are always whining by the second week of December, wanting to know why we don’t have a Chistmas tree up yet when everyone else in the neighborhood does. I explain that I like to get the tree later so it can stay up longer…because my goal is NEVER to take down the tree before January 6.

What does this all mean to you? Well, it’s simple. I, with the help of elevent other wonderful authors, will be giving YOU a present every day from the 25th through the 5th in the form of a steamy/erotic short story for download. On the 6th, I’ll bundle all twelve stories up into one neat package and make it available both in pdf and for Kindle. And it will be free, free, free!

Now, doesn’t that sound awesome? So, here’s the line-up:

December 25th
Anna Leigh Keaton
December 26th
Lacy Danes
December 27th
Katie Allen
December 28th
Raine Weaver
December 29th
Amy Ruttan
December 30th
Christine D’Abo
December 31st
TJ Michaels
January 1st
Karen Erickson
January 2nd
Alisha Rai
January 3rd
Amie Stuart
January 4th
Emma Petersen
January 5th
Jackie Barbosa

So, get ready to curl up with some hot reads to keep you warm…and please, spread the word!

So Long, and Thanks for All the Books!

Okay, I’m not really leaving or anything drastic like that (just in case you were terrified at the prospect of never reading another one of my posts, lol), but I AM going to be taking a hiatus from my regular blogging schedule from tomorrow until Epiphany. That doesn’t mean there won’t be new content on the blog, but instead of my musings about writing, publishing, and my other little nuggets of wisdom (I use the term loosely), I’ve got something a little more fun in store for you. I’ll let you in on that tomorrow :).

But first, I want to do my “thanks for all the books” piece. Lots of folks have been posting their favorite books of 2009 recently, and although I’m no book reviewer and have no intention of becoming one, I wanted to thank the following authors for providing me with some of the best books I’ve read this year (or any year). Titles are listed in alphabetical order by author, so don’t think of this as a list with rankings, because it’s not!

So, to all those authors, you made my year. Thanks for all the books and keep up the good work.

Free Read Friday

I’m pleased to announce that my first free anthology of the year is now available for download. This one was put together by my wonderful friend, Leanne Karella. It’s a series of sweet, romantic short stories, each set on New Year’s Eve in a different city around the world.

You can click on the cover below to open and download the pdf. And please, don’t hesitate to pass it on!

firstnightcovr

Happy holidays!

A Definition of RWA Terms (Author Edition)

So, I really intended to get this posted last week, but the time-space continuum proved uncooperative. However, with MWA’s decision last week to officially “de-list” Harlequin as a non-vanity/non-subsidy publisher, the question of what RWA will do in the future becomes even more urgent for authors who are published though Harlequin’s traditional imprints.

First, before you read this, if you haven’t read my post explaining the difference between “eligible publishers” and “non-vanity/non-subsidy publishers,” click here. A lot of the terms in this post won’t make sense otherwise.

Okay, so, here’s the scoop on published author recognition in RWA:

Authors can join PAN (the Published Author Network) if they have earned a minimum of $1,000 on any single novel/novella* published by a non-vanity/non-subsidy publishing within 18 months of the date of release. The author does not–as many people seem to erroneously believe–need to earn that $1,000 in the form of an advance. Royalties count just as much as advances do, although it’s obviously easier for an author who receives an advance to join PAN because she can do so simply by submitting the appropriate contract pages indicating the advance to be received, instead of having to wait until she’s racked up enough in royalties to qualify.

So, what do you get for joining PAN? As far as I can tell, the perks consist primarily of getting a link on RWA’s website to yours and having the PAN designation on your name badge at conferences, which means other attendees will squint harder at your name and try to remember if they’ve ever heard of you, which in most cases, they probably haven’t. (In other words, if you are a BIG NAME AUTHOR, they’ll know who you are whether or not you have PAN on your badge. If you’re not, having the word PAN on your name badge won’t help them.)

One misconception I hear quite often regarding PAN eligibility is that you must be eligible for PAN to enter the RITA. This is simply not true. Eligibility for the RITA is book-based, not author-based. Authors don’t even have to be members of RWA to enter the RITA, let alone members of PAN. They do need to have a book that was published during the correct contest year (for the 2010 RITA, that means it had to have been published in 2009), it must be available in print (and this sticks in a lot of exclusively epubbed authors’ craws), and it must have been published by a non-vanity/non-subsidy press.

This year, I was eligible to enter the RITA, but due to some initial hemming and hawing on my part about whether I should even bother followed by two unsuccessful attempts to get RWA’s site to process my entry, I wound up not getting a chance because the contest was full by the time I got around to a third attempt. As they say, them’s the breaks.

But in any event, an author who is not eligible for PAN because she hasn’t earned a minimum of $1,000 from her book can enter the RITA if her book is available in print. An author who can enter PAN may not be able to enter the RITA because her book is not available in print, but also because she doesn’t have a book published in the current contest year. (I will not have the opportunity to enter the RITA next year because there isn’t a prayer at this point that I’ll sell anything that will be out in print with a 2010 copyright date. I’ll still be a member of PAN, though.)

But despite the (IMO) relatively modest benefits to being a member of PAN, there are a LOT of published authors who are very irked that they aren’t eligible to join. In the end, I think the complaints boil down to this: authors want RWA to validate them.

To which I can only ask, “Why?” Why do you care so much whether RWA deems you published or not? Why do you care so much about your eligibility (or ineligibility) to enter the RITA? Honestly, neither has much impact on your career. If you need an acronym on your name badge or a contest to make you feel like a real writer, maybe it’s time to rethink your priorities.

Because I’m here to tell you, being a member of PAN hasn’t made an iota of difference in my ability to sell another book in New York, and I know a number of RITA finalists who are also out there searching for a contract. PAN and the RITAs mean way more to people who are in RWA than they do to people who are outside of it (read editors and agents). To those folks, the things that matter are the writing and sales (all hail Bookscan). Nothing else amounts to a hill of beans.

Tomorrow: So what about all those Harlequin authors?


*A “novella” is a story between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Anything under 20,000 words is a short story and, no matter how much you’ve earned from the publication of such a story, you’re not eligible for PAN based on it. You are also still eligible to enter the Golden Heart contest for unpublished authors. I’ve always found it a little ironic that, if Annie Proulx had never written anything longer than Brokeback Mountain, she’d still be treated as an unpublished author by RWA.