Shrieks of elation! Dockside is #4 on the New York Times bestseller list, #3 on the Publishers Weekly list, #14 on the USA Today list and <<drumroll>> #1 on the Walden/Borders bestseller list. Also, my agent reports that the Book Page of the Boston Globe had a Box called “The Top 5” Romance Novels in New England. It went: 1. Nora Roberts – High Noon, 2. Susan Wiggs – Dockside, 3. Liz Carlyle, 4. Jude Deveraux, 5. Debbie Macomber – Country Brides. Calloo! Callay! (I’m fainting with the news and setting a record for exclamation points in a single post!) Thanks to all for buying the book! Flowers and bubbly all around!
Apostrophe abuse is one of the most common and insidious assaults on the written word. I’m sorry to say that one of my favorite computer programs, Dragon Naturally Speaking, gets it wrong with proper names nearly every time. Although I write my first draft in longhand, I eventually type it up by reading it aloud into the computer, using the Dragon voice-recognition software. And when I say something like, “Let’s invite the Bellamys over for sushi and a seance!” the software will get “let’s” correct, but it’ll write Bellamy’s instead of the simple plural, Bellamys. Ignert, I say! Ignert!
There are many ways to abuse apostrophes, but probably the one I despise the most is when the little booger shows up in a plural word. Don’t use an apostrophe in a non-possessive plural. Ever. Please, I’m begging you.
Let’s lay apostrophe abuse to rest: Sigh.
And okay, I splurged on the shoes, too. And, um, the bag. As a working writer, 90% of my clothes are the kind of thing you wear to clean out the garage. The other 10% of my wardrobe looks more like this. And how did I earn this hot little number?
See for yourself. This is a shot of me at a booksigning–yes, a booksigning–at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The day was organized around an air show, and there were tables and booths set up in the hangars along the air strip. I found myself sharing a table with an army ranger and his pet, Roxanne the Snake. The ranger wanted me to hold his snake. I said no. I hid behind my tower of unsold books. He insisted, so I told him I would only hold his snake if I sold all these books. (I never sell out at a signing.) But people kept buying books, and I was down to 3, so the ranger bought them all and I had to make good on my promise to hold his snake.
The snake seemed to like me. The ranger did not, because I told him his snake felt like a purse.
Anyway. Here I am with Roxanne, smiling through my inner silent screams of horror, earning any damn dress I want. For life. So there:
Note that this shot is slightly blurry. Why? Because Mr. Manly-Man Husband of Mine was standing about Note that this shot is slightly blurry. Why? Because Mr. Manly-Man Husband of Mine was standing about fifty yards away, too afraid to come closer, so this is with the zoom lens. And, I admit, I was not exactly holding still.
Diane von Furstenberg has to get her inspiration somewhere, right?
Special bonus material–I spotted this on Story Broads:
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.
Boy, does this article by Robert Klose ever strike a chord. It’s the age-old dilemma faced by every author who has ever signed a book for someone. The requirements for decorating that title page with your finest work are as constricting as doing a tap dance in a phone booth. You have to be
- and fast.
Is there any possible way to do that when you’re sitting (and sometimes you have to stand) at a bookstore, with a line of people waiting, people who intimidate the heck out of you because they’re paying their hard-earned money to buy your book? Add to that my own habit of wanting to chat up every person who stops by, and suddenly my mouth and my pen are working independently (and often, not terribly well).
I love signing books and I do it with a sense of humility and accomplishment, if it’s possible to feel both ways at once. But I am the world’s worst at coming up with something of value to say in the inscription. Seriously, after Best Wishes, Happy Reading, Relax & Enjoy, Warmest Wishes and the ilk…what else is there to say?
Anne Rice signed my copy of Queen of the Damned with a simple, “To Susan — Blessings.” The ebullient Catherine Coulter always puts something fun about the reader: “To Susan of the Big Hair.” My favorite is from the late Crosby Bonsall, who added a little cartoon to her wonderful And I Mean It, Stanley!
For me, the problem is to sum up my gratitude for the person buying the book and my hopes that the story will be enjoyed in just a few words. I’ll keep trying.
One big help for me is my home town bookstore. The Eagle Harbor Book Company makes it possible for me to have a long-distance signing. Readers can order a signed book, personalized any way they like, through the bookstore. Just please, don’t expect a masterpiece….