Photo Friday: Marilyn Denis Show

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Some of you may remember that I appeared on Canadian morning talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show last January. If you didn’t see the clip, you can see it here.The entire experience was amazing and a little surreal (and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!), and though I’ve never really blogged about my experiences, I did take a few pictures that I also never got a chance to share, so here they are!

Premakeup early in the morning. Just me and those HOT, unflattering white lights.

All of the makeup used on the show is MAC. It was like a MAC store had exploded in there (heaven!). I didn’t get a picture of my makeup artist, but she was fabulous. So glad not to do my own makeup.

Pre-show walk through. This is the man who was on the segment before me, giving gardening tips. He was a very handsome lad (and so nice!). Several ladies after the show asked if they could have their pictures taken with him.

And here’s his actual segment. I’m standing outside the studio, waiting for my turn. This is right in the CTV building entryway, so this is what people see as they walk into the building.

And now I’m backstage because it’s almost my turn. Just a few more minutes!

Live Studio audience

My segment producer, Roz. She was fantastic!

And here I am, post show, with Marilyn, holding the ereaders. I was the very last segment (nothing like being forced to wait!) The one thing I can say is that Marilyn made it all seem so very easy. And she groomed me! As I was walking up for my segment (during the commercials) she fixed my hair. She was lovely, I had a fantastic time, and I wish I had more reasons to pitch a few segment ideas for her show!

Things that make me happy (at Carina HQ)

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I’m at Carina headquarters in Toronto this week (which is actually Harlequin headquarters) and it occurs to me there are some things that make me happy about being here, in the office, for these visits.

1) Congee Queen. None of my co-workers will be surprised by this. My favorite lunch place. I dream about their food when I have to go without for a few months (as I will this summer since I’m not coming back until September).

2) Jayne’s laugh. She has the best laugh when something tickles her fancy, and she shares the thing that made her laugh in this great “laughing” voice that makes me smile, even heard across the office.

3) Amy’s rants. She’s so quiet and unassuming. And then something sets her off and…watch out. Now our desks are too far apart and I don’t get to see many of the rants when I’m here. This makes me sad (and I go out of my way to find things to tell her in our acquisition meeting in hopes of inspiring one. Yes. I’m evil.)

4) In-person meetings. I don’t mind doing meetings via phone (I do a lot of them) but it’s nice to be here every so often and see people’s facial expressions during the meetings. Not just the Carina meetings, but the Harlequin meetings I have weekly as well.

5) Being able to interrupt Malle and/or Eleanor every 5 minutes with the newest thought to cross my brain, Twitter or email (I suspect this is not their favorite part of my visits, ha!) We work in open concept, so they can’t shut their doors. The closest they could come is headphones. They haven’t resorted to that. Yet.

6) The Harlequin Hallway of Fun (aka where they put the boxes of that months’ releases for the taking). Even though I don’t read print books, I love browsing the hallway to see what’s released and what I want in digital. And then I end up taking a few anyway, because they’re perfect for reading on the plane during takeoff and landing.

7) The hotel bathroom/shower. I stay at the Westin Prince in Toronto which has double showerheads. Seriously, I never. want. to. leave. Also, the bathroom has a makeup mirror (love) though they could seriously do with better lighting in the bathroom for makeup application.

8 ) Impromptu brainstorming sessions. Hard to do via email. Easy to do when you’re in the office!

9) Jenny Bullough. Just because.

10) These (if I can buy this particular flavor in the States, I haven’t figured it out yet):

11) Being able to order a Caesar at a bar (which I do at the airport every trip). A Caeser is definitely a northern drink, and one I got used to being able to order when I lived in North Dakota, but you can’t order them in the South (though at least there you can order real sweet tea!)

12) This may be my favorite thing: dinners out. And not (just) for the food and drink. I’m fortunate to get to meet with authors while I’m here (both Carina and aspiring) for dinners that Leah Braemel helps organize. And Malle is ten kinds of awesome and always arranges a dinner with her and I, and then often with her, I and other team members. I love love love these dinners. Love. For more reasons than I can ever list here.

Thank You to the Carina Press Acquisitions Team

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Now that the launch of Carina Press is here, I wanted to thank the members of the acquisition team who helped make our ambitious plan (create and launch a publishing imprint in less than 9 months) come to life.

Every person on the acquisition team already had a full-time, busy job at Harlequin, but once they were “drafted” onto the acquisitions team they really delivered – and then they took on more! Not only did we read and debate recommended editorial acquisitions – always on a week turnaround – but also provided input to the cover images and then wrote the back cover copy! Many a person who had never before written marketing copy suddenly found themself volunteered – and reading their copy aloud to the group for critique. This could have been daunting, and I’m sure it was, but because we had created  a collaborate team, it all worked brilliantly.

Many many thanks to the acquisitions team, listed alphabetically:

Jenny Bullough: Jenny has worked as an editor at a textbook publisher and with the eHarlequin.com team on online content and therefore brought an experienced editorial eye to our acquisitions. She’s also someone who has never credited herself with writing strong copy but she’s been tacking some of our most challenging titles and capturing the story’s unique sensibility. And as much as I appreciated her excellent editorial skills, Jenny is also our Production/Managing Editor. She creates the production schedule and then ensures that we keep to it. (Angela called her mean, in a nice way, but I consider Jenny absolutely essential.) When our launch books had to be delivered three weeks earlier than our schedule, because of a needed backend test, Jenny took a deep breath and said no problem. That ongoing spirit of “yeah, that’s a challenge, but let me figure it out” is what has made the launch of Carina Press possible.

Eleanor Elliott: Other than being my co-captain in the development of Carina Press, Eleanor brought a much-needed commerce/marketing sensibility to the team, along with a very strong sense of story. She was always very clear in her thoughts about a book and always asked if the book being discussed was true to Carina’s mission statement: Where no great story goes untold. Of course, Eleanor was also the force behind creating the beautiful and easy-to-use Carina Press commerce site. She, too, overcame endless obstacles and helped push the team along to meet our goals.

Angela James: Internally, whenever we presented the status of Carina Press and the number of acquisitions we had made, we always said that Angela was the best acquisition we made. And she was. None of this could have happened as well or as smartly if Angela had not been our Executive Editor. Her passion, creativity, smarts, desire to build a successful imprint were integral. She was also not afraid to occasionally tell us back at head office that we were crazy.

Andrea Kerr: Andrea is a member of Harlequin’s editorial department and works on the Harlequin website’s original content. She is also the editor for a few or our Carina Press authors. Andrea always has a strong editorial perspective and is a brilliant copywriter – she always volunteers to take on any needed copy. She loves historical romances and brings a strong editorial voice to our acquisition meetings.

Emily Mathisen: Sadly, last Tuesday was Emily’s last acquisition meeting as she is moving to Vancouver. However, we were all delighted she stayed with us through launch as she always brought a unique point of view to our acquisition process. Emily has worked on Harlequin’s online merchandising team and knows all about how well cowboys, babies and sheiks sell for Harlequin. But she, too, embraced Carina’s broad range of editorial and was the most passionate advocate for Megan Hart’s NO EXIT, a work of speculative fiction. We will miss Emily.

Aideen O’Leary-Chung: Aideen was another person involved from day one of Carina Press, when we called it “Digital Publishing House” project.  She’s been absolutely integral along the way. Plus she’s just awesome as a person. In acquisitions she tells us why or why not she likes a book and how she imagines the general public will respond. She always brings a strong marketing point of view and often reminds us that we should be looking for a particular kind of book (ex. Christmas). Aideen has been responsible for the creation of all our beautiful covers and our marketing plans including the cool swag we’ve given out at writers conferences.

Tara Stevens : Tara seems deceptively quiet, but she’s got a quiet passion about books. Tara loves all genres and brings her love of literature to our acquisition meetings, catching an author’s nuances and details that others might miss. She’s been a real quick study in writing cover copy and marketing plans. She’s been finding all kinds of interesting Internet places for us to advertise Carina Press. She lived in Ireland for several years where she co-hosted a radio show – not so quiet after all!

Amy Wilkins: Amy works in digital content and social media – if you follow our Harlequin twitter or the Presents blog you are listening to Amy. Amy comes from a publishing background (one of her parents is a writer) and she decided to work in digital publishing because it is the future and moves quickly. Amy has strong editorial skills, copywriting, etc. but she also makes sure our manuscripts become ebooks! She’s also able to marshal a small army of freelancers at a moment’s notice if we have to rush something through the process.

Over and over again we hit various hurdles and not once did anyone say it couldn’t be done. Instead, everyone worked on solutions. The result was a launch that happened on the day we planned!

Once again, thank you all!

Chasing a CAPTIVE SPIRIT

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So there I was, minding my own business this past January when a tweet flashed across my laptop from a seemingly nice editor lady named Angela James. “Send your historical novels to Carina Press!” she tweeted. “Our editors are hungry for historicals!” CAPTIVE SPIRIT

Historicals? I thought. I’ve written one that I love.  Maybe this Angela lady will love it, too? What the heck? I’ll give it a shot.

And off flew my manuscript into cyberspace and so began my hopped-up-on-steroids but memorable publishing journey with the very cool and hip Carina Press.

Hey, book lovers!  My name is Liz Fichera and I am thrilled to be one of the Carina Press launch authors.  Formerly from Chicago, I now call the American Southwest my home.  And the historical novel that I sent to Angela earlier this year is CAPTIVE SPIRIT, although it was originally called VANISHED.   More on that in a bit.

CAPTIVE SPIRIT takes place in the Sonoran desert at the dawn of the sixteenth century.  It’s about a young Hohokam Indian woman named Aiyana who isn’t like the other girls of her White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own.  When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will, putting Aiyana on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

I’ll share more details with you later today about the story and what inspired me to write it.  And, no, it did not come to me in a dream.

But first I wanted to share my Carina Press experience because it’s been the kind of experience you hope for as a debut author.  Not only have I had the chance to work with the fab Elizabeth Bass, Kimberly the copyeditor extraordinaire, and Aideen O’Leary-Chung and her uber-talented book cover artists, but I’ve been able to connect with so many great writers who share a passion for rich storytelling. Thanks to them, my TBR pile has not only grown it’s exploded.  Also, thanks to the support of my fellow Carina Press authors, it’s  become very Sisterhood of The Writer Traveling Pants, although no one has suggested that we share a pair of faded bluejeans. Yet.  

Like most authors, my full-fledged publishing journey has been neither quick nor easy but it’s never been dull.  There have even been moments when I wanted to throw my laptop out the nearest window, burn all my rejection letters, and take up basket-weaving. But I’ll always be grateful to Carina Press as well as their readers for taking a chance on this writer hidden amongst the saguaros and coyotes in the wild, wild West who likes to tell tall tales.

Before the next post, I invite you to check out my web site for the first chapter and book trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  I’ve left a few clues in the book trailer that will help me to explain the inspiration behind CAPTIVE SPIRIT later today in my next post.  Can you guess which ones?  :-)

And if you tweet, friend, blog, or are just plain obsessed with social media like me, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook, and My Blog.

Be back later! Rock on, Carina Press!

Remember that you can win a free copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, just for making a comment on this blog, Twitter, or Facebook.  Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will also enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. How cool is that?