Sunday, October 23, 2011

Radical Departure: Book Signings and Other Inspirations

Janet Evanovich at 2006 signing for Twelve Sharp in Roseville, CA

© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

In case you’re wondering what on Earth is going on here, see No Small Change on The Radical Virgo. During October and November, I’ll be doing short posts to take you along for the wild ride of rewriting and getting my humorous, metaphysical mystery book ready for submission to the St. Martin’s Press annual First Mystery Novel Contest

Whenever I start to freak out about the tight timeframe to rewrite my book and submit it letter-perfect, I remind myself that I’m finally doing what I've always wanted to do. I try to let the joy of the creative process overshadow the fear of the clock.

Sometimes it works.

Although the deadline for the annual St. Martin’s First Mystery Contest is November 30, I didn’t look past November 22 as my personal deadline. It’s a great electional day. Theoretically, great things should come of anything I start, like my part in the contest process. I can’t say I like that it’s the annual anniversary of the assassination of JFK, but beggars can’t be choosers when I’ve only got 4 ½ more weeks to pull it off. If I’d have looked one day deeper into my calendar, I’d have realized the other reason I can’t go past November 22. In my time zone, Mercury goes retrograde late on the 23rd. The fact that Mercury Retro wasn’t even on my radar screen speaks to the Sabian symbol for my Sun: A false call unheard in the attention to immediate service. This Sabian is all about priority and absorption. One interpretation calls the bearer of this symbol “deaf to all allurement.” (Sorry, Mercury, I didn’t even know you were alive. Don’t hold it against me!) Too close to it, akin to how you can’t see your own nose.

I always knew I had an overly active imagination, but until I wrote this novel, I had no idea what actually goes on with me “upstairs.” My mind is a little scary. I feel that way when I hear Robin Williams. He actually blurts out the kind of stuff that goes on in my brain. The first time I heard him, I blushed! Since I need to produce quickly right now, I have no time for creative inhibitions. I just have to let go and let flow. I wrote five new chapters this week, still borrowing bits from Life’s Companions, the original version of the story. Ninety percent was new. The process keeps surprising me. Words keep on appearing on paper. (Is this automatic writing?)

One thing’s clear. You can’t hurry love and you can’t push creativity. Down time is an essential part of this process. I felt lousy the other day—tummy trouble, my back was out, and I generally felt like the flu was gunning for me. I decided to take the day off and get some extra healing sleep. My reward was cranking out three more chapters in the next 24 hours.

Now that I know I need R&R to make my fountain of creativity bubble, I have to trust that the timing will fall into place. I took off a few hours Saturday to go to my friend Cindy Sample’s book signing. It was another good shot in the arm. Cindy and I had lunch recently and compared notes on the writing life. Her second humorous mystery, Dying for a Dance,is now available. Her heroine, Laurel McKay, is a single mom who keeps stumbling over dead bodies, this time at her ballroom dance class studio. Since my novel, The Crystal Ball, takes place at a futuristic costume party in a big ballroom, I feel a kinship to Cindy’s latest book and just loved reading it in Kindle!

Cindy is also the queen of making book signings fun. Since the murder weapon in Dance is a high-heeled shoe, she had a big basket of chocolate high heels. (Death by chocolate—yes!). Some of her other edible perks are dead body crime scene cookies, you know—the outline of a body. Pass the yellow Do Not Cross tape!

At Cindy's signing, I bumped into another author I know from Sisters in Crime, Elaine Macko. Elaine and I were in a critique group together some years ago. Her first novel, Armed, just came out. Who knew murder could be so much fun! Armed takes place in a mannequin factory in a fictional New England town with a very interesting cast of characters and a unique murder weapon. I've been enamored with her story since she was still writing the first draft. Her new web site rocks.

It’d be a crime not to promote such creative new authors, so I’m giving their books as holiday gifts to a number of people this year. Watching them finally manifest all this “fun between the covers,” after being familiar with their stories for a number of years, is a great model of manifestation. I'm enjoying the vicarious thrill.

Seeing Elaine also reminded me of a time when we went with another Sister in Crime to a local signing by Janet Evanovich a few years ago. Janet’s at the top of this post in that moment all authors dream of—stacks of books ready for signing and crowds lined up by the thousands. We got to Barnes & Noble early, waited a long time, and it was well worth it. Janet, too, has a huge flair for creating a party at her book signings, including goodies. She passes out the Jersey junk food that’s everyday fare for her snack-addicted Stephanie Plum, the protagonist in her number novels. For Janet and Stephanie fans, in case you haven’t heard, the movie of her first book in the series, One for the Money, will be out in January 2012 starring Katherine Heigl. Don't miss the trailer in this link! For fans of Stephanie's wacky Grandma Mazur, I almost fell over when I found out she'll be played by Debbie Reynolds.

It’s a reliefand a big carrot!to remember that the other end of this process is a party. In my case, that’s doubly true since much of The Crystal Ball takes place at one—a big, crazy costume party. Carrots may be incentives, but I don't plan to serve them at my book launch.

Will someone help me see that party in my Crystal Ball next week when I’m up to my eyeballs in work?


Cindy Sample said...

Thanks, Joyce. It was fun planning the launch and making those chocolate stilettos, especially since I was forced to sample one or two or a dozen of them.

I can't wait to come to your launch party. I know it will be a killer!

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Cindy! I'll start planning my launch party--as we see, so shall it be!

Since The Crystal Ball takes place primarily at a costume party, I'll have to encourage people to come in costume and have a best get-up competition. Janet Evanovich did that at her 2006 signing I attended. People came dressed as characters from her books. My favorite was a person who came as Rex the Hamster wearing a soup can around her! I have always been impressed most with people who dress up as inanimate objects. Remembering from parties past, one of my favorites was a stoplight, complete with electronics and changing colors. The other I heard about. Someone threw a Cocktail Party where people came dressed up as drinks--Pink Lady, Grasshopper, etc. My friend said 6 people came in walking in a carton with bottle caps on their heads--a six-pack!