MARKET RESEARCH/SNEAKINESS: Reading the editor’s other authors

Saturday comes, and I’m doing a bit of research.

Basically, I’ve got the opportunity to send my new PunditShow romantic comedy to Kensington editor Kate Duffy. She created the Brava line and other lines at the company and has 25 years of experience. I need to research what she likes, because if you’re going to sell somebody an igloo, it’s good to know whether they even like ice, isn’t it?

So. Her authors include Lori Foster. I went to Borders today (*they are closing the Richardson location next week! Waaah!*) and got three of Lori Foster’s latest novels. They seem to ME to have a voice similar to _The Pundit’s Take_ (formerly _In the Gypsy’s Wagon_, but that was a working title, as is this), and I see that the romance starts along with the action on the first page–which is what I do with this book. I think this is a good sign. I also got two other books from Kensington for comparison (I think they probably are also her authors.)

And I picked up the hardcover reissue of Jennifer Crusie’s _Manhunting_ (which is one of her old Harlequin Blazes) because I love that one, although not as much as I love _Charlie All Night_. (I’m going to study Crusie and Janet Evanovich as well, to try to analyze their appeal to their audiences, but that’s for later.)

So. Tonight when I settle down for the evening with “Prairie Home Companion” and the Pit Pom, I’ll read one or more of the Foster books and make note of the following: whether she has the hero and heroine think about one another’s appearance and traits while doing other activities (I’m doing this already); whether she talks about what they’re wearing (I don’t usually do that, but I did it in this book, and I just need to see if Lori F. does it, because if she doesn’t, my descriptions could be seen as “taking inventory”); whether she uses a lot of real brand names (I don’t); whether she allows any introspection or if she doesn’t have ANY (some people consider it “backstory/narrative/junk to avoid.”) I’ll also observe the general tone (light-hearted, I hope, from the looks of these) and voice. If I think my Pundit book is similar enough, it’ll be the one I’ll send.

There’s an additional problem with it, though. I ended up feeling comfy with my heroine being named “Kate.” Well . . . that’s the editor’s name. Will this be a problem? I know it would be a problem for me to read about a character with my first name or my middle name. It has even bugged me when there are characters named the same as hubby or Mama. *SIGH* It’s not that I couldn’t change the character’s name, but heck. I suppose I could let her be . . . Kerry. That might fit all right. Or do you think that wouldn’t matter?

The person I should ask that of is her assistant. I don’t want to do that, though. I guess when I call to say the manuscript is in the mail, I could ask what she thinks and plan for a global search/replace if she thinks it’s a no-no, but there’s danger in confiding in someone like that. You don’t want to become “that weirdo.” And they might just say, “Oh, no, of course it’s OK,” because it seems silly to ask, but then maybe it’ll turn out that subconsciously it bugs the editor and ruins the book for her.

I need one of the editor’s authors to answer this. But I don’t know any of them as Close Personal Friends. They have websites, but they usually get fanmail at those e-mail addresses, and not questions like this. (!) Hurdles, hurdles. I need better jumping shoes.

Chinese New Year begins tomorrow. All of hubby’s co-workers have taken next week off. You’re not supposed to clean house over the New Year, or your family’s luck gets swept out with the dust. I will try this reasoning on the family, but I’ll bet it doesn’t wash.

Oh, and I got voice mail on my cell phone from Monica at CBS-TV (!!!) telling me, “We got your photo and application by e-mail, and we are very impressed. I’ve e-mailed you the instructions to make your audition tape.” But both Mama and hubby are vehemently against my making a tape. They are afraid there’ll be an emergency at home while I am gone (for five days, to New York, I think, instead of L. A.) and that we can’t afford to fly me home, and I’m not supposed to fly because of an ear drainage problem anyhow (the doctor wrote a note that they have filed up where I used to work, and Don has the same note on file: if we fly, we’ll lose part of our hearing permanently each time. Ack!! Mine is from that surgery, but his was apparently from birth that way.) So I could not “rush” home on a train or bus. They seem determined to block my making of any tape. I’m really flattered that they would call me . . . the family can’t even let me enjoy being chosen to get the call. And there’s no guarantee that they’d pick me to be a contestant, even if I could send a tape. Rats. Rats. Rats.

Anyhow, it is flattering to be asked. I’m going to figure out some sneaky way to make a tape and send it anyhow, nyah. I suspect they want to keep me in the “box” and don’t want me to change–what I mean is, they have me here as “nothing” and they don’t want me to become something that they can’t control. Even if it means they get money out of it. Does that make any sense? Unfortunately, I’ll bet some of you understand what I am saying here.

I told them that if they didn’t trust God (they claim to be religious) to not zap me during the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go be on TV in a game show, then they weren’t very confident. They replied that this could be the Devil’s work. No, I really mean it–hubby DID say that. I think he was only halfway joking. My mother, of course, is operating from a position of fear and terror. She’s taking her oxygen right now and has a lung infection. I know there would be arrangements to make, but heck, I think it would be fun, even if I got up there and miffed the first question and farted and fell on my face. We’re talking fame–doesn’t everyone get her fifteen minutes? That would be a “gas.” (Ouch, sorry for the pun.) But anyway . . . think of the song “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” “Even if I fail, it’s me and not you!”

Surely God/the Universe would be willing to do King’s X and not cause any crises for a few days while I went off to do this. But anyhow, I’ll keep you posted. I’m going to see if our CVS has one of those digital disposable vidcams (thanks for telling me about those!) The quality might not be the greatest hoo-ha, but it’s a way.

I told you I was sneaky.

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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