Wednesday, August 31, 2011

All three Stellas - out on audiobook versions!


So pleased to announce that all of the Stella Hardesty mysteries are now available as audiobooks! Click any of the following to find them at audible.com:

A BAD DAY FOR SORRY
A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY
A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL

The folks at St. Martin's and Audible have found smart, sassy, irresistible women to read the books. A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL bears the voice of the incomparable Barbara Rosenblat, with whom I've had the pleasure of corresponding. She is a kick, truly one of "our girls," if you know what I mean. I've not yet met Kym Dakin, but she too nails the spirit of Stella.

Barbara Rosenblat



If you're an audiobook fan, I hope you'll consider giving these a whirl. Audible lets you listen to a sample for free, which is a feature I appreciate - because it's so disappointing to buy an audiobook only to discover that the voice doesn't match the story or characters. Luckily for me, I have no worries on that score!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Farewell Summer

I love summer...and I mourn its slipping away on the heels of September, even here in California where we are blessed with gorgeous days every month of the year. Summer is a certain breezy idleness; summer smells of sunscreen and sweat and barbecue grills and wet dogs, and other untold loveliness.

In my childhood I spent summer with books stuffed in my bike bag. Library books, mostly, everything I could find, a treasure chest of possibilities - best-loved re-reads and daring pilferings from the adult shelves, all jammed in the bag with my favorite languid-day snack, ritz-cracker sandwiches made with crunchy peanut butter. I would bike to Nickel pond (if you are reading this, Mike, I know you're smiling) or hike to "our" tree house, the one we inhabited like hermit crabs in a borrowed shell, a mile or so back in the woods behind our house.

(It seems odd now, looking back, but I never once gave a thought to the unknown persons who constructed the tree house. Obviously, they'd gotten old, too old to appreciate a good and magical thing, moved on to the adult world of jobs and obligations, and so they didn't matter to me at all. The house wasn't much, a series of planks nailed to a trunk, with a rough plywood platform in the high-above branching-out of the tree; but I adored it. I read Little Women there, all of it; Franny and Zooey. I dreamed of writing my own book.)

This year the end of summer is especially poignant because my baby is going to college. We took one final trip together, to visit family in Boston.

My brother made me a pie. Well, I guess he made everyone a pie, but I choose to believe it was mostly for me. Blueberry, like our gramma used to make.


I took a couple of the kids to Fenway Park - the team was out of town, but we got to walk around all we wanted...



What's summer without junk food? We ordered every disgusting thing on the menu at this pub next to the park:

One day we took the ferry out to one of the harbor islands and camped. The bugs stayed away, camp food was delicious (as always) and we got to watch one of the most magical sunsets of my life. The Boston skyline shimmered in the last rays of the sun, the slowly came to sparkling life as the lights came on one by one. The tide came in and covered the remains of the pier at waters' edge, and the evening concluded with a campfire, as every summer evening should...


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Author Central - the Devil in the Details

Yesterday I shared a link, via twitter, to a New York Times article I found kind of amusing. In “In St. Louis, I’m a Failure”, author Matt Richtel talks about amazon’s new-ish offering for authors, Author Central, via which – among other things – you can get regional sales data for all your books.

I pounced on Author Central as zealously as any author when it first appeared, and immediately suffered the shivering horrors that are the special domain of the paltry-selling author. I wobbled between shame and fear every time I checked my stats. But eventually, the novelty wore off, and it was more of a snooze to view than anything. I mean, really, why disappoint yourself over and over and over again when it’s out of your control anyway?

That’s still my basic feeling about the thing, though every time they upgrade it, there’s a minor flurry of commentary much like Richtel’s article. He’s funny, though, which is why I tweeted it.

But then, my editor Adam jumped in with a few comments of his own. They didn’t fit neatly into the 140-char format so I’ve assembled them here:

Me:

hey authors, did you see this? did it make you wince? tell the truth now

Adam:

Makes me wince a bit not not because I want to control info flow to authors but because of Bookscan becoming increasingly unreliable, and as an editor part of my job is to give authors CONTEXT, which Amazon# s don't necessarily. To rely totally on those numbers would also be engaging in the same fallacy authors may accuse publishers of: making it all about one set of numbers re the past, instead of plans for the future & putting your efforts behind what you believe is quality.

I just want to illustrate this with a little tale of my own. When AFTERTIME came out last year, I had high hopes, not just because I loved writing that book but because Adam had worked so hard on its behalf. Simply put, I wanted him to feel like his efforts were worthwhile.

But oh, those Amazon numbers. They went from unimpressive to downright flaccid to flatline in what seemed like no time at all. I was traveling at the time, and I remember sitting in a coffee shop with my long-suffering tour partner Juliet Blackwell, whining about how my career was over and I’d be lucky to get a job selling bagels, and she was telling me to shut up and let her work when the phone rang and it was my agent Barbara. Calling, I was quite certain, with the terrible news that Harlequin was canceling the series due to the book's shocking underperformance.

That was not the case.

I won’t blather on all the boring details, and let me make it clear that the book didn’t blow the socks off any charts, but it turns out that Amazon numbers did NOT tell the whole story. Since then I have learned a few more interesting things about who buys what on Amazon…information that has, frankly, convinced me it would be prudent to mostly ignore the statistics. They simply don’t matter enough to be worth my time.

Hey, by the way, you could do a lot worse than to follow Adam. He’s pretty damn smart. You could follow Barbara too, and Juliet, if you’re so inclined, and then you’ll have a 360-degree view into my career. For what it’s worth ☺