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Author Copies!

It’s super fun when the doorbell rings and I am still in black yoga pants and a t shirt with my hair pulled into a bedraggled sort of ponytail. Feet are bare. Teeth are not brushed. Yes, it is after ten in the morning. Thank you for asking. It is that moment when I wonder, “Do I dare answer? What if it’s important? What if my dog bit the pool guy while I wasn’t paying attention? Or what if it’s a random stranger selling girl scout cookies?” At the thought of the cookies, I actually get up to answer the door. The pool guy can take care of himself. I have homeowner’s insurance. The cookie salesman, however, waits for no one.Curses! It wasn’t the cookie salesman. I swear the Girls Scouts of America do not try hard enough to search me out and sell me calories I don’t need but desperately want. Happily, it wasn’t the pool guy missing appendages either. What it was instead was a box on my doorstep. Our postwoman always rings the bell when she’s leaving a package. She is terribly considerate that way.

Inside the box were my author copies of my latest book Victoria’s Promise! HOORAY! The Newport Ladies Book Club series marches ever onward. I love this book. It’s super fun, filled with heart and all those aching love-sicky feelings that a good romance should have. I dedicated it to my ever-inspiring editor, Kirk Shaw, who ditched me to go be a lawyer. He is so lucky I love him and haven’t used the voodoo doll I bought of him when he told me he was leaving me. Actually, I am super proud of him for making good choices for his family and am so grateful that he helped me be the writer I am. Victoria’s Promise turned out really well. I am pleased with my finished written product. Feel free to go see the nice reviews on Amazon. I love people who leave nice reviews. We won’t talk about how I feel about those other people. Didn’t their grandmothers teach them not to say anything when they didn’t have anything nice to say? So sad they missed out on a valuable education. Actually, there’s a lot to be learned in the not-so-nice reviews as well. Anyway, I digress.

The point is that I have my author copies and books in the mail is always super fun. Speaking of Super and books in the mail, my dear friend Marion Jensen has a new book out as well. His title is Almost Super! Legit funny book! Buy it. Read it to your kids. Laugh yourself sick! And feel free to buy my book too. I may not be Lord Byron, but I’m infinitely more entertaining.

Author Copies!

Author Copies! And as a fun aside, my book has a doppelganger. The first person to discover the title of my book’s doppelganger will receive a prize. Hint . . . it has something to do with the red bike. Leave a comment with the title to win cool prize.

 

 

Whitney Awards, Conference, and Good Stuff

I have never been speechless in my entire life. Never. Not once that I can recall. I think I was born talking. My dad used to take me to his business stuff and military stuff when I was incredibly small because I had a huge vocabulary and absolutely no fear of using it. He liked showing off the baby who spoke in full sentences even before she had enough hair to qualify her as a girl. Seriously. Never. Speechless.

Until Saturday night.

I had not allowed myself to prepare any kind of acceptance speech if Cross My Heart should win the Whitney Award. Any time my mind wandered in that direction, I immediately yanked it back. After my freakish month of feeling wretched, I wasn’t emotionally up to disappointment. I’d read the other finalists. They were good. I closed one in particular and thought to myself, “She is definitely going to win.” But it didn’t really bother me to think I’d lost. I attributed it to their excellence, rather than my mediocrity. Good books should win. And that was okay with me.

So I went to the conference feeling surprisingly normal. A lot of that normal feeling stemmed from the fact that I FINALLY finished Hazzardous Universe Book 2 and got it turned in to my illustrious editor, Kirk Shaw. Getting the book done and in, and feeling good about the end result of that product, went a long way toward feeling normal. The conference went well, meeting up with friends, and making a few new ones, went a long way toward normal as well.

And then Saturday night happened. I wore black . . .  because that’s what I do, found my seat with wonderful online friends that I pretty much only see once a year, picked at my food, and listened to the opening statements. It started so quickly. The romance category was announced first, and it seems I had barely enough time to blink as I wrenched my cloth napkin in my hands and felt my legs turn to water.

Then they were announcing my name . . . the title of MY book. My brain froze. I couldn’t process the words, yet my emotions experienced no such freezing as I immediately melted into a snotty, sodden mess of waterfall. Had they really called *my* name? I knew I had to go up there, but my legs wouldn’t move. Mr. Wright had to tap me and remind me to walk to the stage.

People talk about slow motion where every breath inhaled and exhaled feels as though they mark the passing of minutes rather than fractions of seconds. Where the time in which every step forward seems monitored by hours. I can’t really remember the walk to the platform and the microphone, but it felt like it took forever. I remember the hugs from the people who announced the award for the 2010 Romance category. Sheila, Shanda, and Mindy were hugging on me and crying right along with me.

And then I turned and faced the podium, stepped up to the microphone, and experienced the impossible.

I was speechless. It wasn’t just about having nothing to say. I literally could not get the air to flow past my pipes to create sound. I made some odd orangutan movements, squawked like some mental bird, and looked pretty silly in general before the words finally came.

Granted, the words were rendered difficult to understand through the blubbering and squawking. And, granted, they weren’t all that brilliant, or poignant, or entertaining, or even well thought out.

But at least they did show up.

It was a humbling experience, and I still feel a little weepy (absurd . . . I know), and I still feel a little giddy. And that beautiful award shaped like a book that really opens and closes and has my name and title etched into its perfect acrylic face looks absolutely stunning on my bookshelf.

My daughter reminded me today that when I first bought that particular bookcase, I remarked how well a Whitney Award would look on it.

I love being right.

Thank you, Kirk, for being such an amazing editor. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first three winners were your authors. Thank you, Josi, for the incredible work you put into the awards this year and the work you’ll have to put in next year. Last weekend Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, and I spent the weekend in a hotel together so we could work on a series we’re writing together. Heather, Annette, and I were finalists. Josi knew the results. And she didn’t say a thing. She didn’t so much as breathe a clue in our direction as to how things had turned out.  She should get an award for THAT. It’s pretty amazing that each of the four of us have one of these awards now. What an amazing group of friends I am so lucky to have in my life. Thank you, Covenant, for being such a great publisher, for standing behind me in all the things I write, and for being so amazing to work with.

Thank you to the academy of bookstore owners, reviewers, publishers, and storymakers who voted. My smile muscles obviously need more exercise because they still hurt, and my eyes still feel a bit blurry from all the camera flashbulbs, and I still feel genuinely loved from all those hugs. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Here is the list of award winners:

Outstanding Achievement Award
Rick Walton

Lifetime Achievement Award
Susan Evans McCloud

Best General

Best Historical

Best Mystery/Suspense

Best Romance

Best Speculative

Best Youth—General

Best Youth—Speculative

Best by New Author

Novel of the Year (Tie)


Congratulations to all the winners!

And Congratulations to all those eating “loser pie” and snapping silly pictures. A part of me hated not being able to join in on those pictures. You are all amazing writers and there is nothing loser about that group . . . not even remotely. Though I still love the joke of the pie 🙂

The Hazzardous Universe

The phone call from my editor: “Hey Jules, how are you doing?”

“Good . . . I am good, aren’t I?”

“Well that depends on if you’re okay with an early 2011 release of The Hazzardous Universe . . . we were thinking February.”

This is where I rupture my editor’s eardrums with my girl screams and do a happy dance that makes me look maniacal on the front porch of my country store.

This moment has been a long time in the making. In 2007, I went to LTUE (Life, The Universe, and everything). I spoke on several panels, sold a bunch of books, and made some new friends. One of those friends was an artist. His name was Kevin Wasden. He drew me a little dragon, and a little ogre, and bought one of my books.

Several days later, he wrote me an email, asking me to lunch. Turns out he had been sketching a particular character for years and he wanted to see this character in a book. But he was an artist, not a writer. He needed a writer. And since he’d bought my book, went home, and read it, he decided I was the writer he needed.

We met for lunch and he showed me all his ideas for this character. The sketches were amazing and I had to say yes to the project because only an idiot would turn down a character with a wicked awesome name like Hap Hazzard.

The book has been through several revisions and morphing as the story grew beyond just a single book. We’d have to do a series. I finished book one and outlined the series–deciding we’d write the next book when the first book sold.

We’ve had a LOT of interest over the last couple of years, but it seemed an author/artist combo was an impossible sale to publishing houses who already had their stable of artists. No one was willing to take us as a team.

Until now.

My editor (Kirk Shaw–the brilliant)  asked me to send it to him–even though my publishing house didn’t do science fiction. He sent it off to readers, got amazing reviews back and prepared a kick butt presentation to a marketing board who felt wary of embarking into a genre they’d never done before.

And bless them all, they were interested. Interested enough to want to meet with Kevin and I and hear more. The meeting was awesome, Kevin shone like  a rock star, and they told us they’d discuss it again in their committee meeting.

The next 24 hours were nerve-wracking, and ended with the above phone call conversation. Kevin and I have been officially accepted as a team and will be able to do the book as we envisioned in the beginning. The first book of the Hazzardous Universe will release in February of 2011 and it is going to be awesome!

I am humbled and thrilled that my publishing house believes in me and is taking this chance to sail into new waters with me. They are awesome!

Seven months until blast off! I’d better get writing book 2!

LDStorymaker Conference Report 2010

Conference was twenty shades of awesome! There is nothing finer than hanging out with 450 writers for a weekend.

Bootcamp was awesome. Registration for bootcamp started at 6:30, but like Sarah Eden, I think 6:30 am is a thing better left not acknowledged. I got to play bootcamp instructor for five writers who were delightful to associate with and who had good work to share. One of them was a sixteen year old kid who is definitely on the up and coming list of new authors. I envy the opportunities that simply didn’t exist when I was his age. Think of how much better I could have been . . . seriously bootcamp rocked. Sarah Eden and the critique group that kicked it off was fun and definitely beneficial for the attendees.

editing at bootcamp

Bootcamp!

I got to do a pitch for one of my novels to Krista Marino who is delightful in every way. She likes thrift stores. How could I not love someone who likes thrift stores? This is one of the things that will forever bond Josi Kilpack and me together. We have had some good times in thrift stores. But I digress. Krista rocked. And now I am pleading with the gods of ink and paper to make her my editor so that I can shop with her and eat with her (she has great taste in food as well) And she obviously has great taste in writing, because she asked for the full manuscript. Yay! I feel a little dumb because my pitch was pretty pathetic, and I’m grateful my writing can stand on its own or she might have thrown me from the room.

After I’d finished the pitch, I felt like I could relax, so I went back to the bookstore to help Mr Wright, who deserves accolades and awards for putting up with all the stuff I make him do. I helped for about an hour when he said, “Your presentation isn’t tomorrow. You know that right?” Thinking he was messing with me, I argued that causing me stress on one of my busiest weekends was way uncool. So we had a bicker moment until he finally had to prove himself right by actually opening the syllabus and showing me that the class I was supposed to teach was indeed in 28 minutes. Nice.

My powerpoint wasn’t done and although I had 18 pages of notes, they weren’t totally organized into something that would flow smoothly. So in 28 minutes, I wrapped up the powerpoint, glanced through the notes, and rushed off to teach my class (halfway hoping that everyone had gone to the editor’s class being held that same hour). No such luck. The room was full. I think it went well in spite of me. I am so glad I had good notes! The class was on emotion in writing. So at least it was something I’m good at.  Mr Wright saved me, even if he had to argue with me and twist my arm to do it. I so owe that man.

Since my presentation AND my pitch was over, my friday night was totally open. I almost talked Josi into shoe shopping with me after dinner, but our keen sense of moral obligation took over and alas–no shoes. Instead I went back to the bookstore area to hang out and chit chat–as is proper and fun at a conference. This is where I found that the dress Janette planned on wearing to the Whitney banquet wasn’t going to work because she’s already worn it the day before and didn’t want a repeat. Because I am overprepared on everything except on the classes I’m supposed to teach, I had several dresses that were award banquet worthy, so Janette Rallison, Annette Lyon, Jessica Day George, and I went up to my hotel room and played dress up. So. Much. Fun. Janette is beautiful. We stayed there until nearly midnight when Mr. Wright showed up and mostly broke up the party.  And I just now remembered I promised Annette a head massage. I owe you big time Annette!

I sat next to Michael Flynn for lunch on Saturday, and so enjoyed meeting him. He is the producer of The Best Two Years. He is awesome and I might have fun stuff to share later on about that.

I got the chance to chit chat with Kirk Shaw, my editor at Covenant and I just think the world of him. Not only is he a discerning reader (since he chose to publish my books) but he is truly awesome. He’s just sweet and good to everyone and it’s fun to work with someone I respect so much.

The whitney banquet was lovely, as usual. Dan Wells did an amazing tribute to Dave Wolverton that made me get weepy in every way.  It was  a beautiful night and even though I didn’t win the Whitney Award, I loved being there and honoring those who did.I have to be honest, I’d held out hope that if I was going to lose my category, I wanted to lose to Riley Noehren. Gravity Vs. the Girl was so much fun and it would have been an honor in every way to lose to her. She did win the best novel by a new author alongside Dan Wells for I Am Not a Serial Killer. So deserved–both of them.

The highlight of my evening came after. Hanging out with Jessica and Janette is just so much fun! We had some pictures with our loser cake to assuage the pain of not taking home any awards (all said tongue in cheek, please know we were all okay and happy for those who did win). Another girl party in my hotel room (poor Mr. Wright). Later Howard Tayler helped us clean the bookstore up and load our car which was sweet beyond words and Mr. Wright and I talked until 2 am about all we’d seen and done. Some of my best moments in life are lying in the dark, holding his hand, and talking about our lives, our children, our dreams.

Another awesome aspect was Kim Vanderhorst brough me chocolate from Canada, and Don Carey brought me Dr Pepper in real glass bottles from Texas. I love these people! You guys spoil me.

And now I am off to prepare one manuscript for a film producer, another for my current publisher, and yet another for a national publisher. I plan on being busy. Wish me luck!

Dave Wolverton and Me

Mr. Wright

Janette Rallison looking fabulous as always

Eating our comfort cake after losing the Whitney's 🙂 Jessica Day George, James Dashner, Me, Janette Rallison. Great writers all of them!

The women from www.LDSwomen'sbookreview.com, Janette and me

Another Book!

So I’m sitting in my store today, eating the world’s most expensive hamburger, and typing furiously to finish the novel I’d meant to finish last month and my youngest calls me from home.

“Mom! You need to call your editor RIGHT NOW!” he says. Even at his young age, he understands that a phone call from my editor trumps a phone call from pretty much anyone else (except my agent, who is an absolute equal).

Editors only have a handful of reasons to actually make phone calls.

  • To reject you
  • To tell you you missed a deadline
  • To tell you they changed your title
  • To tell you that you need to do a bit (or a lot) more editing
  • To tell you that there is no reason to do stress overeating, but that your novel is going to the review committee for final approval
  • Or to tell you that your novel was accepted.

So my other son walks in through the front door of my store (he passes through the store to get home) at just this moment. “Watch the store for me a minute while I go home to make a phone call!” I command as I fly out the back door. I find my cell phone, see I have a voice mail, listen to the voicemail which is my editor asking me to return his call, and with the monarch migration going on in my stomach, hit the speed-dial button that connects me to my editor.

“Hey Jules.”  He answers before the end of the first ring.

“Hey Kirk.”

This is where we go off on polite chit chat for a moment before he says,  “So . . . the committee has discussed your novel Love Study and have decided to publish it.”

The monarch migration fly on as I exhale in relief.

So I have a new book slated to come out. YAY! Its release date is early 2011, so next year sometime. It’s strictly romance. It’s funny, sassy, smart, and filled with love–as is my heart when I think on how much I really like my editor and the acquisitions committee at Covenant. It’s an LDS novel and is so much fun that you are guaranteed to love it.  I’ll post the cover when I get it, but since it isn’t coming out for a while, you’re going to have to wait–just like I have to.

It used to be called The Day My Subconcious Betrayed Me, but I had to change it to something shorter (though I’m stubbornly keeping it the way it is on my website, because that’s the way uh-huh uh-huh I like it). For the purposes of just getting it to the committee, Kirk and I came up with Love Study. Love Study is a respectable title, but it doesn’t pop the way the novel does. So if you all come up with anything that sounds snappy for a sassy romance, feel free to let me know. I am totally open to suggestions. The first chapter is on my website. Go have a peek.

Eyes Like Mine

Eyes Like Mine

Eyes Like Mine

Here’s my new cover for my novel Eyes Like Mine. I am really excited about this book since it is truly a beautiful story. And remember all that whining I did about abridging the book and having to cut out HALF the words?

Well, my way cool and incredibly awesome editor decided an abridgement wasn’t necessary. That’s right, folks. I got to keep every word. I know!!! I am so excited (as you can see by my grammatically incorrect coupling of punctuation)! It’s already up on Seagull’s and DB’s websites which just staggers me since I don’t even have my official release date yet.

This has been such an amazing week, I’m not even sure how to process it all. First, I have the storymakers conference which is the highlight of my year, then I get an agent–and not just any agent–but Amy Jameson! Then I get an email from The Ensign magazine offering to buy an article I sent in, and now my cover and news of the no abridgement. I completely endorse the “no word left behind!” program Kirk has placed me on.

Seriously, I have burned so many calories from all the jumping around I’ve been doing.