Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Let's get cooking....

Ugh, one thing I seem to have inherited from my grandfather is a propensity toward really awful puns. Sorry!

But the good news is that this morning I discovered that S&S Pulse has bought my newest romantic comedy, tentatively titled LOVE BITES! (Because, well...sometimes it *does*). Actually it's a cooking theme and I'm way psyched to include little recipes and other bonus info in the book. What's more romantic than dinner for two?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

All Time Great Holiday Romantic Comedies

Happy holidays!! If your house is anything like mine, you'll pull out a lot of your favorite DVD's between now and the end of the year. And, if you're a reader of the Ro-Com Blog there's a good chance many of those movies will be Romantic Comedies. With that in mind, I thought I'd put my film degree to use and start working on a list of all time great holiday Romantic Comedies. The only requirement is that there is love and a prominent role played by any holiday from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Here's a starter group, please feel free to add your thoughts and opinions.
The Bishop's Wife (Christmas) - a great Cary Grant classic and one we watch every year. Bridget Jones' Diary(Christmas and New Year's) - The perfect blend of laughs and love my favorite scene is the fist fight between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Love Actually (Christmas) Also with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, I love the blend of stories, this is my current holiday favorite, It's A Wonderful Life (Christmas) - Even your grandparents loved this Jimmy Stewart classis. Yes, it's hokey in parts, but it's still great. Hannah and Her Sisters (Thanksgiving) - Like Love Actually, this has a bunch of different storylines. Elf (Christmas) - Technically not a Romantic Comedy but I love the scene where Will Ferrel and Zooey Deschanel sing Baby It's Cold Outside. When Harry Met Sally (New Year's) A funny story that spans decades in a relationship but ends with a romantic kiss on New Year's Eve.



It's something in the air--the smell of fires burining (although who are the people lucky enough to have a working fireplace in Manhattan, anyway?), the glowing snowflake shaped streetlights, the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, the Christmas carols playing in the stores. . .hey, I even enjoy fighting over the holiday sales at Macy's! I guess I'm just a holidays in New York kind of gal. If you've never been here this time of year you really should check it out. Skatng in the middle of Central Park, with the woods around you and the skyscrapers in the background is totally surreal! And then of course there's the tree at Rockefeller Center, and the canoles in Little Italy and... well, you get the picture. I guess I'm just a native New Yorker.

Well, that's all for now. The lure of retail sales is pulling me away from the computer like steel to a magnet!

Wishing you all Happy Holiday no matter where you are.

Here's to Peace in '07



Thursday, November 16, 2006

'Tis the Season...

Yeah, I just about had a panic attack walking through the East Village last weekend and seeing the first set of X-mas lights up. Not that they weren't pretty. It's just, there should be a law against decorating for X-mas before Thanksgiving has even passed. That being said, I freaked out a little bit this morning when I realized that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK.

My anxiety, gentle readers, has nothing (or, at least, very little) to do with the idea of spending the holiday weekend with my boyfriend's family. They are lovely people, for reals, and as a matter of fact, I wrote a large part of GETTIN' LUCKY while on vacation in Las Vegas with them. I mean, check out the photo--clearly, NOT a high-anxiety guy. The primates, they love Noah.

But I digress. The point is...after Thanksgiving comes Chrismukkah, and after Chrismukkah comes New Years, and after New Years (and hopefully some sun in Palm Beach, if the Gods are smiling on me) comes....

Yes, you heard me. Nothing.
No more work.

Don't get me wrong--I'll be working. Just not as a book editor.
After eight years in publishing--three of which were spent moonlighting as an actual Writer--I've decided to try my hand at the full-time freelance thing. And possibly the starvation thing (cross your fingers for me that it's the former rather than the latter). I will also be returning to school after more years than I care to admit to get my MFA in Creative Writing for Children & YA. It's a distance program, meaning I get to spend a lot of my time in my apartment, in my track pants, bothering the dog.

Am I excited? Yes. Am I terrified? Um, yes. But deep down, I do trust my instincts. No more office--with pretty Hudson River view--does not mean no more challenges (in fact, it probably means rather the opposite). And I do think that it's time. Must be something in the air. I mean, it being the season, and all....

Everything I Know about Book Signings

Erin, good luck on your signing! I always bring a piece of scratch paper or a pad on which to spell out the young readers’ names before I inscribe them indelibly in their books. There will be names you’ve never seen before and spellings you’d never imagine. And you don’t have to ask, “What name was that?” again, because it’s probably the one at the bottom of your list. I would try different pens first and bring my own, because some of the best ones bleed through the paperback stock. As I was corrected early on, you’re supposed to sign the proper title page, where your name and the title appear together, but there are more uncluttered pages if you have lots to write. Signed-only books are supposed to be worth more than personalized ones, so it’s probably a collector who just wants your autograph and maybe the date.

Some years ago, I did a signing in a gas station in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, set up for me by a Pocket Books sales rep, and that turned out to be non-stop with lots of army folk coming by. One other time, I went mistakenly to a pre-school, where even my youngest chapter books were totally unappreciated. I do a lot of school book-fair signings, and you can sell a ton of books in a place like that. I used to let Scholastic, the local bookstore, or whoever furnish my books for the book fairs, but then I realized that I was making my small royalty while the other authors were pocketing like 50% of cover price. So I began to furnish the books, which you can buy from close-outs or the publisher’s sales department for authors.

Group signings are always a good idea, and you can organize them yourself. Bookstores love it, especially when you do the work and try to turn it into an event. When local authors do a mass signing here in Arizona, I always try to make sure Diana Gabaldon is included, because then I know we’ll have a turnout. Most of the time when I sign CUPIDITY, I do remember to write “Caroline Goode.”

If anyone wants a copy of my Dinotopia book, SABERTOOTH MOUNTAIN, just let me know. I’ve got pallets full of them in my garage.

I also want to say Hi to Micol and everyone else here.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Book Signing!

I am excited and nervous, because this weekend I have a book signing in my hometown - Duluth, MN. If by any chance any of you are in the Northland, swing by to say hello: Sunday, November 17 at 1 pm.

In the meantime, I'm hoping for a little advice from my fellow Ro Com authors about what to do and what not to do at a reading/signing event? Any horror stories of a signing-gone-wrong?

On second thought, don't tell me...hold the scary stuff until Sunday afternoon when I don't need to worry about it anymore. I can't wait!


The Giving Season

Okay, first off, must RAVE about Jennifer Echols' cover. How cool is that?!

Second, I had the chance to meet romantic comedy author Aimee Friedman last week in New York. Not only is she a doll (funny and SMART, too!), she gave me an autographed copy of her book SOUTH BEACH. Isn't that the COOLEST gift?! (Thanks, Aimee!)

With the holiday season fast approaching, now's the time *you're* starting to worry about what gifts to choose for family, friends, or your boyfriend/girlfriend. If you want to stay away from buying a half-dozen scarves and figuring out what color to give to whom—especially knowing that they won't wear them anyway—consider doing something that's truly giving this year: helping others. Try these suggestions and you'll not only make your friends and family happy, you'll improve your world.

1) Give a friend a card letting them know that in their honor, you're helping out a soldier. Care packages can be sent to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan via Also, the U.S Postal Service offers a program where you can buy phone cards which will be given to soldiers, allowing them to phone home. Just ask about the program at any post office.

2) If your parents are agreeable, invite friends to a holiday time "hospital" party at your place. Call a local hospital's information desk ahead of time and ask them what type of items they need for care packages for staff and/or patients who are stuck in the hospital over the holidays. Ask guests to each bring an item or two from the list. Put on a tv show or movie with a hospital theme, order in pizza, and spend the evening enjoying each other's company as you make up care packages. No hospital nearby? Consider baking or buying goodies for emergency personnel such as your local firefighters, emergency dispatchers, and/or police officers who are stuck at work and away from their families.

3) Make a donation to Heifer International, where even a small donation can be used to make a permanent difference to families with limited access to food and shelter. Check the organization out here, at When you donate in honor of a friend, that friend will receive a card letting them know that a family in need has received a gift. Who doesn't want to know that they're responsible for helping a family in need get food, shelter, or access to education?

4) Low on funds? Consider making up cards to give your family and friends offering them something they really want: your time and skills. If you can sew and a friend can't, volunteer to fix a torn hem or replace buttons on her fave top. Tell your parents you'll help them with chores that aren't on your usual list of chores. Offer to drive a friend without a car to do her holiday shopping. Babysit for free so a parent can get their errands done. Be creative, and make sure you actually follow through on your promise!

New cover!

I couldn't be more thrilled with the cover for my next book. Thanks to Amy Saidens for another beautiful job! Look for THE BOYS NEXT DOOR in stores on May 22, 2007--just in time for summer vacation!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

In the long run

The only famous person ever to come from the small town in Alabama where I grew up is Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and super-athlete/diva Terrell Owens. No, I don't know him personally. One of us is four years older than the other *cough*. But until recently, I did think that Amazon shouldn't be offering my book MAJOR CRUSH together with Erin’s book.

Better together!
Buy MAJOR CRUSH by Jennifer Echols
together with
DANCING QUEEN by Erin Downing!

Instead, they should be offering this:

Better together!
Buy MAJOR CRUSH by Jennifer Echols
together with
T.O. by Terrell Owens and Jason Rosenhaus!

Reading both books would offer readers a well-rounded view of what it was like to attend the high school of Terrell and Jennifer. Football player vs. marching band drum major. Athlete vs. mathlete. (Maybe Terrell was a mathlete, too, but I definitely was not an athlete.)

However, over the weekend, I changed my mind. Terrell and I, we are not so different after all. I became an athlete.

In August 2005, I was running two miles a day, as I had for several years. It wasn't the exercise I enjoyed so much as listening on my iPod to the "soundtrack" of the book I was writing. This helps me brainstorm. But I'd found that when I wasn't working toward a goal, it was easy for me to slow from running to walking and allow elderly people to pass me hollering, “Sucker!”

I went online and found the Couch to 10K in 10 Weeks training schedule. (Ten kilometers is 6.2 long miles. Converting from the metric system actually stretches out the distance. Bet you didn't know that, but it's true). This was just what I needed to jump-start my running. It so happened that the Vulcan Run 10K through Birmingham, where I now live, was scheduled about 10 weeks away. I vowed to run, not walk, the entire race.

And I did! I expended an enormous amount of energy. Then pooped out and did a whole lot of nothing for months.

Finally I dragged myself outside again and started Couch to 10K in 10 Weeks, culminating in the Birmingham Zoo Run 10K in May 2006. I improved my time by 9 minutes—mostly because I started at the front of the pack rather than the back. Fool! The pace was too fast, and after about thirty seconds of this, I thought I was going to die. I may also have sped up when we ran past the Fecal Pile. Or the camels, who seemed to be having a particularly bad day odor-wise.

Last Saturday, the Vulcan Run came around again. I'm writing with a deadline, so I didn't have time to put into following the Couch to 10K in 10 Weeks program to the letter. But you know what? By this time, I knew I could run 6.2 miles. And so I did. I also had some tricks up my sleeve for running my third 10K:

Start at the back. When you start at the front, it's intimidating for people pushing baby strollers or wearing heart monitors to blow past you. When you start at the back, no one can pass you, but you can pass anyone who starts walking. If they walk, they're TOAST, baby!

Take inspiration. I'm pretty sure the Vulcan Run course designers knew what they were doing. A Greek Orthodox church with a beautiful glass-tiled mural of the Virgin Mary is placed just where the course begins to go uphill—in case you get worried. The statue of Vulcan that presides over the city is visible just as you emerge from the hills and start to go down again. Also, I was gratified that Micol Ostow flew down from New York to cheer me on. Wait—that must have been someone else carrying a dog wrapped in a sweater.

Feel successful. I'm beginning to think I will never get my parade through downtown Birmingham like Taylor Hicks. Whenever I call City Hall to ask about it, they say they are having scheduling problems. Sometimes I get the feeling they are putting me off. So the Vulcan Run may be my only chance for people to wave at me and cops to stop traffic as I travel the Taylor Hicks parade route.

And most importantly...

Feel like an athlete. This is a huge change for me. Before, even though I'd run two 10Ks, I thought I was just dabbling in running. This time, I finally felt like a runner, and knew I wouldn't stop running this week just because the race was over. I experienced my first runner's high--I think. I may have just gotten dizzy after running 6 miles and trying to sprint the last .2. And I'm currently experiencing my first athletic injury, because one of my toenails is coming off. Hooray! I'm an athlete! I've made it!

So these days, I feel like I have a lot more in common with Terrell than I used to. When we're visiting relatives in our old hometown during the holidays, maybe we'll do lunch. Terrell, if you're reading this, let's set something up. Have your agent call my agent. ♥

Sunday, November 05, 2006


For those of you who were wondering, November is National Novel Writing Month. There is a site called that is dedicated to encouraging dedicated folks who've always wanted to write a novel to write 50,000 words in November.

I've done it for several years now, and I recommend it to anyone who has ever said, "I've been meaning to write that story..." and then went off to work, or to school and didn't.

The beauty of writing 50,000 words in a month is that you are free from worry about whether each sentence is a gem. The idea is to get the idea down. As a writer, and a writing instructor, I know the value of this kind of escape from the critical editor that sits on our shoulders, complaining that the idea is fully fleshed out our the sentence is awkward. The truth is (for most writers, there are always a few exceptions) that writing is rewriting. And you can't rewrite what you haven't written yet.

A story has a shape in our head before we write it, but the process of writing changes and sometimes alters that initial form we envisioned. Rewriting is when lumps can be smoothed out (or built up to give the reader some interesting texture). But, for those of us who dare, writing that first draft with no brakes is like sledding down a steep hill in the first snow of winter--breath stolen by the rush of wind and terror, fervent prayer that there is no big tree waiting at the end of the ride to stop us cold.

If you haven't heard of NaNo, but are interested, it is not too late to join in. Age doesn't matter. Story genre doesn't matter. Just the desire to get that story in your head onto paper.

Kelly (aka prosewars)
(who is behind after five days, with only 1,500 words done...but enjoying the ride anyway)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happy birthday EMILY GOLDBERG

Today she is released on an unsuspecting literary public. Please do feel free to head out to your local bookseller and pick up
a copy.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Prom Crashers

Hey there,

Erin Downing again. No visual cues this time, because this stinking blog wouldn't let me upload an image of my almost-finished book. But even this blog can't get me down, because I'm happy and relieved! I returned the copyedit for my February '07 romantic comedy (Prom Crashers) to my editor this week, which means I am, for the most part....done, done, done! This book has come and gone so quickly - I remember when I first had the idea (sometime in April or May, I think), then suddenly my editor decided she liked the idea, and before I knew it I had a deadline that seemed impossible.

But I set everything aside (okay, not really - I have a day job and a baby that isn't yet a year old...but everything else sort of got ignored for a month and a half) and wrote non-stop until I finished the first draft. Now, less than five months after getting the green light to start writing, I have turned in the last changeable pass of the book. Which means my second book is done! And I'm really happy with it. I hope you all love it as much as I do. I'll remind you to buy it in February...