Anyway, I emailed Lisa and essentially said, "What is it with all these women in Lakeland who appear to like sexy paranormals?" She didn't have a clue, either, but I figured that if there were that many women with the same interests in reading, they'd probably make for a terrific book club. And that's how the book club, The Readers of the Pack, was born.
Four years later, this group of absolutely fantastic--and funny!--women are the best of friends and the book club is going strong. I finally got to meet a lot of them (Unfortunately not everyone was able to come to Orlando) and it was an absolute hoot! After dinner, where one of my favorite authors, Andrew Grey, joined us, we went back to the Dolphin Hotel and met up with a "new to me" author, Alanea Alder, who fits right in with this crowd. (Clicking on Alanea's and/or Andrew's name will take you to their websites)
Conferences can be crazy and overwhelming, but when someone you know actually picks you up at the airport and hauls you where you need to go, it's a lot more fun. And I can say without any doubt that Lisa has one of the coolest husbands ever--how many men will haul a strange woman to the airport before four in the morning? Uh huh...not very many. Even my OWN husband puts me on the shuttle! Airport? Nah...
It's a wonderful story, and beautifully ties up the threads left after A CHANGE OF HEART, though it can easily be read as a stand alone. Sonali's writing is absolutely flawless, and the books are so hard to put down! So I didn't--I actually read it twice, which is part of the reason my office is still in chaos after coming back from Orlando. I have to clean it up ONE of these days!
Susan writes wonderfully heartwarming stories. Her characters always have an issue that creates believable conflict, and they ALWAYS have a wonderful happy ending. Face it, in this country right now we can all use a few happy endings! (That's the photo I took last week to post on my Twitter account. I don't post much, but love to get my photos of books and wine out where others will see them)
This book is already out, and it's just flat out good!
As far as my contest here, I've got lots of books and RWA Swag, and I'm not sure how many prizes I can give away, but I know I've got at least enough for two boxes--again, this is US only--but I'll give away a copy of one of my own ebooks to any International winners, and the number of winners chosen sort of depends on the number of entries I get. Just enter using the contest entry form to the right. International entries, I just need to know what country you're in so I know you go into my international pool of entries. There are fewer of you than US entries, so I like to give you a fair shot at winning something. When I can separate you out, you have a better shot. I'll get in touch with International winners to see what book you'd like.
I've been working on Dark Captive since I got back from the conference, and I'm really enjoying this one. Once I'm comfortable with my story, I'll post an excerpt.
I've got one more thing I wanted to bring up. While I was at the conference, I met with my agent. Jessica Faust is terrific and I've been with her for over sixteen years now, but she essentially handed me my ass on a platter--she did it nicely, but she laid out some hard facts I really didn't want to hear. My sales have fallen off, and a lot of the reason, she believes, is because I'm not getting enough reviews when my books first release. Unfortunately, with all the changes in publishing now, if your book doesn't get enough reviews to move it up in the rankings, people just don't see it, and sales suffer.
I talked to Lisa Guertin and the ladies of the Readers of the Pack book club and they've agreed to take on a role on the ground floor of a street team of readers willing to review for me. They'll get copies of the new books via NetGalley, and hopefully other perks as I learn how to work with a team of reviewers.
The thing is, my agent wants me to have a group of at least fifty--obviously not everyone can read and review every book I release within a set time, but if there are enough people in the group, I should be able to get more than a dozen or so reviews, which has always been a high number for me. Everything about selling books has changed--I used to let my publisher worry about that sort of thing, but honestly? They don't always do that great a job, which is why I'm putting this out there to you.
If you enjoy reading and are comfortable writing reviews, I'd love to have you join what will be a closed group. I know a lot of you have done terrific reviews for me over the years, and I'm hoping it will make a difference to have a select group of readers willing to read and post for me. One other thing--I want honest reviews. If a book doesn't work for you, feel free to say why. Authors really do learn from constructive criticism! If you are interested, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/katedouglas.author. I want to know where you usually post reviews and if you believe you can read early release copies of my books and get a review up. I will provide the books via Netgalley. I'll be quite honest--this is a business decision for me, but if I want to keep writing, I'll need to figure out a way to make it work, and in this case, I'm willing to listen to my agent. I freely admit she knows a lot more about this business than I do!
And on that note, I've got grandkids in town and I want some time to see them before they go back to Hawaii on Monday, so I'm going to close for now. It was wonderful to see so many of you at the conference--I always love the book signing at RWA because so many readers I've known online for years stop by to say hello, and it's just the coolest thing ever! Be well, take care, and get your entries in. It appears I'm going to have two very tightly packed boxes of books with everyone from Rachel Gibson and MaryJo Putney to Cynthia Eden. I definitely grabbed an eclectic bunch of stuff! Swag, too. I can't wait to find my office underneath all this stuff again!