Things I Learned at an Autographing

Just back from a much needed two-week vacation. I’m ready to get cracking on my writing career again!

I was supposed to touch on theme again in my next post…but I’m not going to until next time. My brain is tired. J Instead, I thought I’d share some illuminating things I learned when I went to my local Borders for a joint author appearance featuring Julia Quinn and Rachel Gibson. I’ve been fans of both for a long time, so it was amazing to get to see them at the same time. They both write for Avon, even though they write vastly different sub-genres, so I guess it made sense to someone to put them together.

Audience members were permitted to ask questions and they both answered. The most interesting one was – “Which one of you spends more time researching?” If you’re like me, I totally expected Julia Quinn to raise her hand because she writes historical romance. Rachel Gibson expected her to, as well. She didn’t. Ms. Quinn looked at Ms. Gibson and said, “I think you have the harder time of it because my time period never changes. Once I learned the etiquette, who goes into dinner first, and dress styles, I was done. I don’t have to look it up again. You write contemporary and you’re touching people’s actual lives. Someone wrote a book set at my college and they got a detail wrong. I was aghast (paraphrasing here).” Ms. Gibson agreed after getting over her surprise. She allowed how she never realized she had the harder job. I have a whole new respect for myself because I write contemporary. Go me!

I don’t remember the actual question, but another interesting conversation between the two ladies stemmed from the types of heroes they typically write. Ms. Quinn started by commenting she likes decent men, the good boys. Men whom she would be willing to marry, who are nice to women, have manners and are not generally promiscuous. Audience members applauded. Who knew the beta hero was so popular? Ms. Gibson quickly added that she writes bad boys who are aching to be redeemed and she finds that more interesting to write. I’ve now read both of their new books and honestly, I liked both heroes, but Ms. Gibson’s was more memorable. I HATED him in the opening chapters. I’m still not sure how she got me on his side. It was truly amazing, especially since I almost stopped reading the book. That’s how much I hated him.

The session went on for thirty minutes or so, and I’m not going to rehash the entire thing, but one last interesting tidbit – someone asked how long it takes them to write a book and Ms. Quinn responded four to six months, Ms. Gibson said one year and neither of them plan out their series. They seem to happen on their own. Must be nice. J

Then I stood in line for a looooong time to get my books autographed. The six ladies in line in front of me were talking about Outlander. Really. Amazon lists its publication date as 1992. I’m wondering if I should read it again to better analyze why that book resonates with so many people and for such a long period of time. It’s a time travel novel. You can’t write one of those today and expect to sell. It’s in first person, which means no hero POV, a staple romance readers usually clamor for. Also, the heroine is married at the opening of the book to someone else (and I don’t remember her ever getting a divorce or anything, do you?) which is totally taboo in most romance. Jamie, the hero, isn’t even introduced until page 62, in chapter three. I could probably find a bunch more examples of how Outlander breaks convention rules. I have heard many people claim its Ms. Gabaldon’s voice that makes the book – and subsequent books – so popular. Your thoughts? I really want to know what it is.

The lady behind me in line mentioned the last autographing she attended was to see the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond and it lasted until 12:30 a.m. Even though the lady behind me was sick, she stayed the entire time because Ms. Drummond was so engaging and so into her fans. That’s something I don’t need any analysis to understand. If a bunch of people came to see me because they’d read my book and liked it, I’d stay until four in the morning to interact with them. I can’t imagine how gratifying that must be to reach people with your writing. But I’m trying to. Because that’s what publication is all about to me. Touching people’s lives. If I learned nothing else at the autographing, that’s enough.

2 thoughts on “Things I Learned at an Autographing

  1. It’s true that the details in a contemporary can really throw you out of the story when they are wrong. And there are just more of them to get wrong. The number of details I might mess up in an off the cuff paragraph is a bit intimidating.

    I like both authors’ heroes, but I will confess to a certain soft spot for Luc from See Jane Score.

    • Hi Julia! I’ll have to check that one out! Her newest hero is a Chinook’s hockey player and it’s the first I’ve read in the series. I really enjoyed it, even though I don’t like hockey. 🙂 I agree with you about the intimidation factor in one simple paragraph. That’s why I set all my contemporary stories in Dallas or fictional towns. I’ve got a much better shot at writing what I know or what I make up. LOL Thanks for stopping by!

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