Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Great Covers

I'm one of those lucky people who always seems to get a great cover. I'm not sure why. Sometimes I think my books sort of lend themselves to good covers. Other times I think the editorial staff just plain likes me ... thanks, ladies! And still other times I think it's the luck of the draw.

I just answered a survey today about online media. Basically, the questionnaire wanted to know what kind of online activities I engaged in. I know everybody is always trying to figure out why one author becomes more successful than another. And lots of involved entities (writers, agents, editors, publishers ... internet providers) would love to discover that tweeting or facebooking or blogging or even having a website put one author over another in sales. But, seriously, though I love to blog and tweet and meet my peeps on facebook, I think it's all about the covers.

If I'm in the mood for a book about a family, a cover that shows a hero and heroine with a child will snag my attention. If I'm feeling Cinderella-ish, a cover like the one for MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, with the heroine dressed like a princess, dancing with a prince, will always catch my eye. If I'm in the mood for supsense, show me an eerie-looking cover, give me smog and shadows and I'll lap up the book the way Miss Sophie drinks her morning milk.

I have a TBR pile about a mile high. But I have to confess most of the books are freebies I've gotten at conferences. When I actually pick up a book at a bookstore or online, I read it! There is nothing wrong with the books I've gotten for free, I simply wouldn't have chosen them. I guess I like to choose my own books.

Wow. I never realized how independent I was until I wrote that last line!

Could that be true with all of us? Do we like to be swept away by a cover? Do titles capture our interest? Is that really why we choose one book over another because a cover or title promises us a great adventure, a great love or simply just a great experience?

I think so. Reading is all about putting yourself into another town, another life. No other medium is so intimate. Covers and titles play an important part in enticing us to that other world.

Which is why I'm so glad I've been lucky with covers. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my cover for my August book MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD because I know the editors will do the story proud.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Washington Romance Writers Retreat Booksigning

To kick off the Washington Romance Writers Retreat, a booksigning was held at Turn the page Bookstore CafĂ©. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the store, it’s owned and operated by Bruce Wilder who is the husband of New York Times Bestselling author Nora Roberts.

Not only does Turn The Page offer personalized service, good coffee and over 2000 different titles in most genres, many of which are autographed, but also it is the most hospitable bookstore I’ve ever had the pleasure of signing books in!

The story of my day began at 5:45 a. m. in Johnstown’s airport with a delayed flight! I didn’t arrive at Turn The Page until over an hour after the official start time of 11:30, but Bruce and his staff made me feel incredibly welcome and part of the wonderful booksigning, which included Nora Roberts, J. D. Robb, Charlaine Harris, Ruth Langan/R.C. Ryan, Gail Barrett, Roxanne St. Clair, Leigh Duncan (signing her first book!), Ellen Dugan, Susan Donovan, Lavinia Kent, Michelle Monkou, Christine Trent, Jean Marie Ward, Karen Anders, Heidi Betts and, of course, me…Susan Meier.

The interesting thing about this event is that readers eagerly await its arrival every year. Hundreds of fabulous romance readers arrive, get a ticket (so they don’t have to stand in line for hours) and then enjoy scenic Boonsboro, Maryland until their time arrives to meet the authors.

I was lucky enough to be sitting at the first table with the lovely and talented Susan Donovan. Susan is an NYT bestselling author of sexy, funny romances and she loves the fans. The fans also love her! She’s generous and spontaneous and she entertained everyone who came through the door.

We met some of the most incredible people. Readers with stories of their own to share, who talked to us about everything from new babies (or grandbabies) to their hobbies and jobs. It was a fantastic opportunity for writers to listen to those stories and understand how much readers enjoy a book that allows them to slip away for a few hours.

So thanks to Bruce Wilder and company for making the day special not just for fifteen authors who signed, but also for those wonderful readers!
I’ll definitely return to Turn The Page someday when I get to be one of the happy readers browsing through the stacks!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Meier Magic

All writers lose confidence sometimes. Not just the peons like me. The big guns too. I've read their blogs. Anyway, a few weeks ago, my confidence wobbled and to bring me back from the seventh layer of hell, my editor told me how much she and the senior editor loved my books. She said they always contained a certain sparkle. It wasn't something they could explain or quanitfy. So they called it the Meier Magic. Somehow, some way, in every book I serve up a scene or two that hits everyone right in the heart. Something that resonates with readers because it's achingly familiar.

Needless to say, that lifted my flagging confidence. But it also made me curious. I never set out to make anyone cry. Well, maybe a little. But I never say something like "In this chapter I'm going to make people see what it feels like to be alone, wish they were more, wish they were stronger or better or different." Those themes just come out.

Truth be told, the themes I write about sometimes puzzle me. I lead a rather ordinary life.

But maybe that's the key. Today, for instance, I put on blue jeans and my "I-heart-hot-sex" t-shirt (a sort of gag gift from my husband from many years ago) and drove to Pittsburgh with my husband to help our son move into the new house he bought with his girlfriend, Alexis.

Alexis is lovely. Funny. Sweet. Easy to be around. So it was fun to grab some glass cleaner and antibacterial cleaner, my trusty swiffer and a roll of paper towels and go to work. We spritzed and dusted while we chit chatted, imagining great things for their first house. Then we packed up to leave again because my husband has to work tonight.

We walked to our SUV, telling Spunky how much we liked the house and saying goodbye, but when I slid onto the passenger seat and looked up at my son, standing in front of the open doorway of his new house, my heart did something that even a writer can't describe. It didn't turn over. It didn't squeeze. It didn't sink or expand or anything normal. It sort of stopped and froze and time stood still.

Spunky left home at nineteen for basic training for the Army Reserves. He finished basic, then college, and got a job in Washington, D. C. with Congressman Murtha. Shortly thereafter he was deployed to Iraq. He came home after 18 months and the Congressman transferred him to Johnstown where he lived and worked for a few years before getting a job in Pittsburgh. He rented a townhouse there and he's lived 'away' from us for almost a year.

He hasn't really lived with us for at least five years, but, today, seeing him on that front door stoop, with my heart bleeding out in my tight, tight chest, I knew he wasn't my little boy anymore. Everything he'd done until this time -- all the moves, all the traveling -- was temporary. This was permanent.

I suppose this is what mothers feel when they see their kids get married, or when they move somewhere far, far away. Or maybe it's what they feel the day they realize their little boy or girl isn't a child anymore.

Whatever it was, it still hurts. Little tears are splashing on my keyboard right now. Kids are so eager to grow up that they sometimes forget their moms always want them to remain children.

And that, I guess, is the Meier Magic. It's that I'm as human as everybody else. My life is pretty much the same as everybody else's. And I write about things that you recognize because we all go through the same things. Good and bad. Sad or inevitable.

Do I wish I had a magic lamp that could make my son six again? Yes. But no. (He was a real handful in junior high. Thought he was Bart Simpson.) Every stage and step of life is important. Some are just a little harder to transition through than others.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cholesterol and the Meaning of Life

On January 4, 2010, I began a low cholesterol diet. My cholesterol was fairly high, but in some ways that was good news (depending upon how masochistic you are) because I desperately wanted to lose weight and couldn't seem to motivate myself.

When you are presented with the opportunity to have a piece of cake, which might come with a heart attack somewhere down the road, it's much easier to say no to the cake. And pretty soon I was on a fairly nice roll with the diet.

I discovered some great things about myself. Like: I had forgotten how to tell myself no. Or maybe I'd forgotten how to listen when I told myself no! LOL In general I ate too much. I ate for entertainment. I ate when I was bored. I ate when I was happy. I ate when I was sad. There wasn't an event or reason I could add a slab of baloney to.

Plus I had forgotten what it felt like to be genuinely hungry, to eat because my body needed fuel. Worse, I rarely got off my butt. I work in a chair, played cards and Yahtzee with my son in the afternoons also in a chair, and watched TV at night laying on the couch. The invention of the remote, I've decided, was not such a good thing. I'll bet if we studied this out, we'd learn America's sudden explosion of weight is as much the fault of the television remote as it is the fault of fast food. But I digress...

Realizing I had some really, really bad habits, rather than look at this adventure as a diet, I began to realize I needed to look at it as an opportunity to fix those bad habits. To change the way I looked at food. To get myself back to eating because I was hungry. (What a concept!)

After months or arguing with myself, battling the desire to scarf down a ho-ho when my writing didn't go well or the absolute whiny need for a beer on Friday nights, I managed to make some significant changes. I lost nearly 20 pounds and could once again fit into most of my clothes. When it came time to check my invisible cholestrol progress, I went to the doctor wearing my favorite capris and a cute little top. There was a spring in my step and a lilt in my laugh! I was absolutely positive I'd aced this thing!

But I didn't do as well with the cholesterol lowering as I had hoped. Still, the good news is this will keep me watching what I eat for another several months and maybe I'll drop another ten or fifteen pounds? And really ingrain my new eating habits.

Sometimes it's all a matter of perspective.

And that takes me the meaning of life portion of this blog. Really, a lot of life is a matter of perspective. So if you have a choice, it's always wise to look on the sunny side. It rarely does any good to rant and rail. But it does a lot of good to find the silver lining in your clouds!

So the next time life hands you lemons, think of me and my cholesterol. In finding the silver lining I'll eventually succeed. And, really, what else am I going to do for the next six months! LOL

Have a good week...Oh and skip on over to Amazon and take a look at the cover for MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE. I just love it! It won't be out until July, but you can drool over the cover! LOL


Monday, April 5, 2010

Grubby Kids

I was wrong about not being able to post today. My husband is still sleeping. We won't be on the road to Gettysburg for another hour or here I am. Ready to talk about my Easter.

There is only one word to describe kids sometimes. Grubby. When they get to that place where they are beyond dirty, but you knew they had a good time getting smeared with mud and covered in grime, a kids is grubby.

Especially if they're smiling. LOL And our kids were smiling yesterday.

The weather has been warm here in Western, PA, so my brothers and older nephews played softball with the kids. Picture it. We have kids who are two and kids who are in their thirties who love to play softball. So you can have someone under three feet tall who comes up to bat, or someone who could knock the living room window out of my sister Helen's house.

There's a baseball sized lot between my mom and my sister's house. In the fall, they use it for football. But I digress. Yesterday, little boys in their good pants and little girls who'd only minutes before changed out of frilly pastel dresses, grabbed a bat and mit and headed for the field.

What's fun about watching these games is seeing the lengths my brothers and older nephews will go to to make the younger kids feel included. They'll pretend to bobble balls so that a pint-sized hitter will make it to first. Or they'll catch a ball and quickly toss it to the kid beside them so the kid can make the big play.

I remember my uncles doing that for me when I was knee-high to a grasshopper (as they used to say). I remember how good it felt to be a part of things. I smile now thinking about it.

There's nothing like the attention of an uncle or an older cousin at a family function. The aunts and moms and female cousins always fuss over kids, making sure you have dinner etc. But the uncles only really get a chance to get to know you over a good game of softball.

So our kids were ball-game grubby yesterday. They came into the house caked in dirt with faces wreathed in smiles. Next Easter when we're under four foot of snow, they'll think back on today and laugh.

And that's what family is all about. Praise for the brownies that are burned around the edges, but really basically tasted good. Noticing weight losses and new hair dos and listening to stories of high school and college. And softball. A time to simply go outside and enjoy a day.

Hope your Easter was happy!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Gap between posts

The huge gap between posts was not my fault...Well, maybe a little. I had to migrate my blog to another something or another. I have enough trouble just getting myself to the proper place to blog. So migrating...was a say the least.

What have you missed in my life in the lost two weeks? Not much. Except the cholesterol-lowering diet has been successful in the weight loss department. At the doctor's I discovered I'd lost 20 pounds! I had blood drawn, so we can see if the cholesterol actually went down. (Please God!) My doctor reminded me that I'll probably have to stick to a low fat diet for the rest of my life, but I heard my swimsuit cheering in my bottom drawer, so that might be a good thing.

I finished the Christmas anthology for my release this November with the lovely and talented, Barbara Wallace. A BABY BENEATH HIS CHRISTMAS TREE. It's a very cute story. I think it might be one of my best. And we have the editors to thank for that. Specifically, my editor, Sally Williamson who worked tirelessly on this with me. She's a doll. And smart! (A great combo!)

I got the cover for my July release. When you're done reading this, scroll down. I posted it. I love the cover because it looks so Cinderella-ish, and this heroine truly is a Cinderella of sorts. She lost her prince when she miscarried their first child, then pulled herself up by her bootstraps and started a company to support herself after their marriage failed. She also works tirelessly for a charity that provides homes for abused women.

This heroine definitely deserves a happy ending. She also deserved that very nice book cover. I can hardly wait for readers' response to this book. It easily turned into one of my favorites when I wrote it, so I'm hoping it will also become one of yours!

Let's daughter got a job at a Starbucks, which the whole family loves! My youngest is about to have a birthday. And Miss Sophia has been able to go outside every day this week because Western Pennsylvania is actually having a spring this year.

You're caught up now. And my regular blog entries should be popping up again. So we're back in business. Monday ... or probably Wednesday...I should have great holiday stories to tell. I say Wednesday because Monday we're going to my husband's sister's for a little break.

Anyway, on Sunday I'll get to see all my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and all the people who congregate at my mother's for a holiday. We'll overeat, play poker and in general have a good time. So stay tuned. I'm sure Miss Lanie will do something cute. Jake will be adorable. Gavin and Owen will make us laugh. And maybe I'll win at Texas Hold 'em...or not. The whole concept of betting seems to escape me.

Happy Easter, everyone!