Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Party Post Number 7

Sally MacKenzie writes Naked Regency-set historicals of humor and passion for Kensington Zebra; her third romance, The Naked Earl, is an April 2007 release. Sally lives with her husband outside Washington, D.C. In September they’ll have an empty nest when the youngest of their four sons leaves for college.

Yee haw, it’s a party! Pop the cyber bubbly and pass the chocolates--Tessa’s debut is on the shelves, and I’VE GOT MY COPY!! Yep, there it was, right in the grocery store, asking to be brought home. Of course I couldn’t refuse. I put it in the basket with my Gala apples and obnoxious birthday cards (long story) and marched right up to the checkout.

So, Tessa said we’re supposed to be talking about “new” and “change.” Recently I’ve been mulling the changes publication has brought to my life since my third book, The Naked Earl, just hit the shelves and I agreed to write three more Naked novels.
It is wonderful to be published. That’s the goal, right? You slog away in your writerly cave, bringing characters to life, hoping someone besides you will read your work. You dream of having your name on a book cover, of getting an advance check, of a multimillion dollar contract, adoring fans, movie deals--well, writers do have active imaginations.

Publication is very cool, but it’s also scary as hell. Because people will read your books. People who know you--like your parents, your brothers, your pastor (Um, well, I’ve told mine he should definitely take a pass on the Naked guys. They aren’t erotica by any means, but still, I don’t think this reverend is ready for romance, unless it’s of the inspirational variety.) and people who don’t know you--people down the street, across town, on the other side of the country, the other side of the world.

And you know what? All those people will have their own darn opinions!
Many people will be in awe merely at the fact you managed to write a book, never mind the published bit. Many will love your stories. But, as impossible as it may sound, some misguided souls will not like your books and will post their opinions for all humanity to see--or at least all humanity with access to the Internet.

How have I decided to deal with this exposure? Here’s my completely unsolicited advice. Believe all the glowing comments and shrug off the critics. (Obviously all their taste is in their mouths!) And step away from Google.

So, enjoy every minute of your debut, Tessa! It’s a wonderful, exciting ride--and I see you get to send another “baby” out into the world in June. Pour me some more champagne. I’m going to drink another toast in your honor.


Tessa says: Wooohooo! Sally's agreed to write three more Naked novels. Post your comment and be in the draw to win a copy of The Naked Marquis. Titles for those three new Naked novels could be a whole lot of fun!


Blogger tetewa said...

Enjoyed you being here today and looking forward to the new Naked book!

6:37 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

I haven't read the Naked books, but I do love the title of the series ;) and hope to pick it on my next trip to the bookstore.
By the way, Sally, I love your advice, lol... definitely shrug off any negative comments :)

7:48 AM  
Blogger traveler said...

I think that The Naked Books series are wonderful. The titles are so unique and interesting.

7:57 AM  
Blogger CrystalG said...

Glad to see you here. I love the titles of your books. Can't go wrong with 'naked' men. :)

8:18 AM  
Blogger Cherie J said...

Good to see you here. I have been hearing some good things about your "Naked" books. I need to get to the bookstore soon so I can try one out.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Congrats! It's great that you will be writing three more Naked books!

9:50 AM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

Hi, everybody. It's great to be here.

Ali, I'm been mulling this post over as I ran errands this morning. I have to say I do get some good ideas from negative comments, but I have to be able to get to the place where they don't elicit an emotional response in me first, if that makes sense. It's a balance. A writer can't let negative remarks paralyze her--some would call it protecting the creative well. But I find I can often learn something from all kinds of criticism. Sometimes I really am surprised at how my stories will strike some readers.

I definitely think it is true that readers bring their own experiences to a book, so that not every reader will take away the same thing from a book. Certainly there are books I haven't liked that many other people have loved.

Here's a question for the party goers--how do you choose the books your read? Reviews? On line chatter? Friend's recommendation? Or just spur of the moment, see the book in the bookstore? And if it's spur of the moment--what catches your eye? Title, cover, back blurb, first page--or all of the above?

10:09 AM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

LOL about the Naked titles. Most of the time I think the publisher comes up with a book's title, but I actually came up with the Naked thing myself. Not everyone loves it, but as far as I can tell, most people do. And people seem to really enjoy coming up with possible new Naked titles. My May 2008 realize is The Naked Gentleman. My tentative titles for the next two are The Naked Baron and The Naked Viscount. But what should I call book #3 (or book #7 if we're counting from the Duke)?

I'm not actually too worried at this point. Somewhere in the next two books I'll discover who the third book is about and then I'll know the title.

10:15 AM  
Blogger catslady said...

These are new to me books and sound like great reads. I like the titles :)

11:02 AM  
Blogger Stacy S said...

I just read The Naked Earl last week. Loved it. It was a great story and funny.

11:08 AM  
Blogger misty wright said...

This sounds so fun!! Congrats!! :D I totally agree with you on the writer front of things. :)


11:10 AM  
Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Sally, congratulations on all your success! I think the 'naked' idea was brilliant - every time I see your titles, I smile.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Hey Sally,

I think the title ("naked" anything) is a very successful choice. Wish you the best with the coming books.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Sally, in answer to your question, how about all of the above? lol
I do like to read book reviews, but just because I book received a low review doesn't mean I won't give it a chance... everyone has a different opinion on things.
I also love on-line chatter and talking to authors on reader loops and reading the excerpts they share. I also take in recommendations from friends. But, if I'm just shopping around, I'll be honest and say that the first thing that catches my attention is the book cover.. terrible, I know, 'Never judge a book by its cover,' but I just can't help it, lol. So, honestly, my answer is all of the above ;)

12:30 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Sally, I do have to say that I love your Naked titles... maybe it's just the idea of a Naked guy ;) lol

12:32 PM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

Stacy S, I'm SO glad you enjoyed the Earl! And Anna, there's been a lot of buzz about your book. I saw you over at Risky Regencies, didn't I?

Here's a funny story about my titles--my poor husband is a staid, button-down attorney. (Apparently not like our wild Tessa here--but perhaps that's a difference between the US and Australia? LOL--only kidding, of course. I'm a law school dropout, actually.) Anyway, the dh hasn't read any of my books, but he is a good sport about having a romance writer for a wife, especially a romance writer with these titles. All my friends and the other parents at the all male Jesuit high school our boys attended took great delight in asking him if he were "The Naked Duke." Invariably, he'd turned about as red as the Duke's cover!

And my youngest son's college application essay was on the topic of how embarrassing it is to have a mother who writes Naked books!

It's quite fun being so embarrassing.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

Ali, don't be embarrassed!! Why do you think writers agonize over their covers and publishers (we hope) spend so much effort on them? Covers are definitely major marketing tools. Their sole purpose is to snag your attention and get you to pick the book up!!

12:48 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

How do I choose books??

Honestly, I have no idea, must be a combination of blogs, reviews, and recommendations. I think that what happens after I buy the books, is they start to call out to me, "pick me!" Pick me!"

Really, though, I am a sucker for covers!

12:52 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Hi Sally,

It looks like you're on a winner with your Naked titles. Congratulations - and you have the added bonus of embarrassing your menfolk too - what fun. I'm sure they thrive on it. Good luck with your next three.


12:53 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

I haven't read the Naked books but anything with naked in the title is sure to be a winner.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Minna said...

Looking forward to reading all those "Naked" books! :)

1:08 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Sally, I do have to say, though, that I once passed on a book because I didn't much like the cover, but later on I read the excerpts so decided to give it a chance. I was so glad I did that, because I ended up loving the book :) That's actually happened a couple times, so I try to get a feel for the book from the blurb and excerpts, too :)

1:54 PM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

Ali, I'm sure those writers thank you! I have a friend who was tearing her hair out because her Regency-set historicals had covers with a contemporary look. While this might have brought her new readers, it seemed to be keeping the historical fans away--they didn't recognize her book as an historical!

I've been mulling over the whole choosing books thing this afternoon (it's afternoon here), and I've concluded that I've found something else that has changed since I was published. Now I don't see titles or covers, I see friends. For example, when I stop in a bookstore, I'll first check on any Naked guys, of course, but then I might see if Tessa or Kath or Jackie or June are there.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Lis said...

Yay on more Naked books! (boy that sounds funny lol)

2:52 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Sally, that must be so cool seeing friends instead of title or covers. Did you ever think that would happen?

I'm still in awe at times that I get to talk to some of my favorite authors on-line. And now, come next week, I'll get to meet some at this years RT convention :)

3:40 PM  
Blogger Karen G said...

Congratulations on your three books. Many people will never be able to do that. You should be very proud.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Congratulations on your new book Sally. I think your advice is perfect.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

LOL--no, Ali, it never occurred to me. Before I was published, I wasn't on the Internet and I didn't go to conferences. It's been a treat for me to meet some of the big name authors like Mary Balogh who were only names on a book cover before. Have fun at RT, btw. I thought about going, but I'm not so much of a costume/party kind of person. Maybe one of these years I'll give it a try.

And thanks for the congrats, everyone. It IS wild having books out there. This was something I always wanted to do, but it sort of got lost in the craziness of having four sons.

Speaking of the four sons, the "baby" needs the Internet, so I've got to dash. If anyone is up at 9 pm EST tonight, I'm chatting over at Coffee Time Romance--I've told the kid he has to get off by then, so I guess I'd better give him the computer now.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Your 'naked' titles are such an clever hook for your series, Sally. Congratulations. And I think your advice about believing the good stuff and ignoring the negative comments is excellent.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Tessa Radley said...

thirteenSally, thanks for the wonderful advice! I love your titles...and look forward to The Naked Gentleman.

I've been browsing through the comments and enjoying them.

Book buying habits? Love Tammy's Pick me! Pick ! comment - I can see that happening *g*. As a reader I tend to look for favourite authors. A new author will probably catch my eye and I'll read the blurb to see if the story grabs me. I don't read the first page, or the last page!...but I do often listen to the recommendations of friends.

Sally, the story about embarrassing your hubby is too funny!


4:59 PM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

Thanks for having me, Tessa. It was fun. And please tell me you're kidding when you say you don't read the first page when you're making your book buying decisions?? Argh!! My master plot is foiled! I struggle to get that first paragraph so compelling that the poor unsuspecting reader can't put the book down and HAS to take it to the checkout and buy it, LOL.

Thanks to everyone who stopped! It's bedtime here, so I'm off!

7:25 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Tessa I think that is one of the wonderful things about a book subscriptions, you get books that you may normally pass by at a store.

7:55 PM  
Blogger LadyVampire said...

Congrats on your newests release. This series sounds wonderful and I fully intend to grab a copy when I can.
As for the question of how I select a book...Well the cover and title are the first things that grab my attention. The second thing would be the blurb and or a friend recommending it. And I would of course peek at the first page. And if I read a compelling beginning like you've admitted to including, I will of course buy it. I am one of those ladys who hates reading an interesting opening and not getting to read the rest.

1:47 AM  
Blogger KimW said...

Who can resist reading about naked men. Great titles!

I'm one of those in awe that you wrote a book. Not one, but three. That's something that I definitely couldn't do.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Christa said...

Plus I don't have a lot of time for browsing because usually someone takes me shopping.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Barbara V said...

I haven't read any of your Naked books, but that sounds like fun.
And regarding the advice, I have to say that your worse enemies will help you growth, so take their comments as a positive thing and just growth from there. Tessa, Good luck on your debut!

6:30 AM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

LOL, kimw, that's another change that comes with being published--now I HAVE to write those books! I have contracts! Which is a good thing, yes, but it does tend to hold one's feet to the fire. And I have to live a bit out of sync--the fourth book was handed in in January (2007) but won't be out till May 2008. Now I'm starting the 5th, but talking about the 3rd. Sigh. And unfortunately I'm easily confused.

And here's a secret--every time I sit down to write another book, I'm in awe that I ever did it--and somewhat in a panic that I'll be able to do it again. I've found it's best to try to think only about the current sentence or scene--and don't think about the 400 more double spaced pages that need to be produced. Maybe it's like not looking down when you're walking in a high place.

Barbara V, I agree, growth often comes from criticism. But sometime criticism is destructive, so it's important to take a breath, step back, and then look at the comments dispassionately.

And Tessa, a little bird told me your book is selling really well. Yee haw!!!

7:08 AM  
Blogger Barbara V said...

I imagined how destructive bad comments could be for an author, however as we say in my country rub oil on your skin and let them slipped.
There is this one writer that I read her first book “passion” and love it as probably many people did however she is been bombard with bad comments and her work since to be damage because of that. It is too bad that they are people out there that instead of helping others to growth they just want to destroy.
It's hard to please everyone since we are not a gold coin to be love by everyone. Take the good comments and enjoy them and from the bad ones just learn.
I heard this once before “keep your friends closer and your enemies even closer”
Don't take me wrong I get your point.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

Barbara V, I too have heard about the trouble Passion's author has encountered. I feel for her, and I think I understand, but you are right, writers do need to "rub oil" on their skin. A group of my writer friends used to say we needed to let negative comments roll off like water off a duck's back. We'd "quack" after a particularly bad review.

And part of being a writer is learning to toughen your skin, because, as you say, it IS impossible to please everyone. If a writer tried, I bet she'd have a terrible, boring book.

It's an interesting balance, to be open to critism--and I have gotten some interesting ideas from some of the nastier reviews--yet not let it destroy your confidence in your own writing.

I hope Passion's author finds her way. I haven't kept up with the situation to know where it stands now, but I do think she has many fans who are rooting for her.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Tessa Radley said...

"Maybe it's like not looking down when you're walking in a high place."

Great advice, Sally. I start a new book on Monday, I'll remember that.

Sally, thanks so much for coming to help me celebrate! Here's to lots of luck and success with your naked guys.

Thanks for the nice comments too *g*!

5:06 AM  

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