Monday, October 1, 2007

Thank you Nora Roberts

by Donna MacMeans

My local RWA chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers, held their annual conference this past weekend. With tomorrow's release date of my debut novel, The Education of Mrs. Brimley, so imminent, well - I felt a bit of a star. It's been an amazing year, but upon reflection I realized I owe it all to Nora Roberts.

You see last year at the Atlanta awards ceremony, Nora was the Master of Ceremonies. Access to her was limited to the select group of people holding reserved seating tickets, and as a Golden Heart finalist, I was one. A friend encouraged me to have my photo taken with her. I obliged even though I looked pretty crappy (evidence shown at right). However, as I approached, the photographer was a bit alarmed that the hook and eye on her zipper wasn't fastened. He suggested all manner of embarrassing incidents might ensue and so asked if I would fix it.

Consequently, I had my fingers down the back of Ms. Roberts dress.

Yes. I touched the hallowed skin of Nora Roberts and if I think hard enough...close my eyes and mentally transport myself back a little over a year ago...yes, I think I actually felt the fairy dust make a leap of faith into my fingers. That must be it! Consider the evidence -

Moments after this memorable event, I won the prestigious Golden Heart on a manuscript that I'd pretty much decided would never sell - this based on an impressive stack of rejection letters.

Three weeks after that the book went up for auction. Within a week I had an agent, an editor, and a three book contract.
No revisions!

Mrs. Brimley received a four star review in Romantic Times magazine. The hero, Lord Nicholas Chambers, was honored with a K.I.S.S. designation (Knight in Shining Silver).

My first book signing which was this last weekend sold out in ten minutes. Of course the bookseller only brought nine books to the event to be sold - but hey - a sell out is a sell out.

Finally, I won tickets to the 2008 Romantic Times convention to be held in Pittsburgh.

Now some might call this a stream of good luck - and they'd be partially right. Some might call this the result of hard work - and they'd be right as well. But I sincerely believe Nora started it all. So thank you, Nora Roberts.

Have you had a succession of luck that you can attribute to a specific cause? Have you been fortunate enough to have touched the esteemed Ms. Roberts? Tell all and one commenter will receive an autographed copy of The Education of Mrs. Brimley.

69 comments:

AndreaW said...

Congrats on your debut release, Donna! I'll be picking this one up tomorrow. ;)

While I haven't touched Nora Roberts, I am lucky occasionally...winning a contest for a free book or cover flats. To me, that's like winning the lottery!

~Andrea

Stacy S said...

Congrats on the release!! I looked yesterday for some new releases but they didn't have most of them yet. So, hopefully I'll get it this week. Keep up the good luck.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Good morning Donna! Congrats on the release of Mrs. Brimley! I'm heading out in a few minutes to the book store. Hopefully they'll have it today. If not, the bookseller and I are having a conversation. Poor him!

Not sure if I've had any string of good luck. Just enough positive feedback, contest wins and requests to keep me plugging away. And no I've never gotten to touch Nora, but I have spoken to her enough to say a polite "hello".

ChristyJan said...

I can't say that I've ever been fortunate enough to have touched the esteemed Ms. Roberts or any one else famous for that matter.

I'm thrilled when I do have a succession of luck and I win books, etc.

The luckiest I've ever been was when I won an on-line contest from ABC and received an all-expense trip for my husband and I to Vancouver, Canada to tour the set of Stephen King's KINGDOM HOSPITAL.

Donna MacMeans said...

Andreaw -

Good Morning and thank you! Hope you like the book (and I'm hoping my author copies show up any day now - I'm needing to run to the bookstore just so I can get a copy).

Winning something unexpected is a thrill, isn't it? I think when they announced the winner of the RT tickets, my scream shook the foundations of the hotel! Do you planning on going to RT?

Donna MacMeans said...

Stacy -

Thanks for looking. I'm hearing that Books-a million has them out, but we don't have BAM in Ohio - at least, not yet. My release date was not a controlled release meaning the book stores could put them out any old time. Apparently the stores in my area are taking their own sweet time (groan).

Hope you enjoy it once you can get yor hands on a copy.

Donna MacMeans said...

Suz -

Let me know if Mrs. Brimley shows up at your bookstore. As to Nora - hmmm...she is the sweetest, most class act around. I'm quite sure she'd say this past year has been the result of hard work - But I'm telling you, there's fairy dust there! I can't think of a better explanation for my string of fortune. Perhaps next time you say hello, could a casual brush be possible...?

Donna MacMeans said...

Christyjan -

Vancouver! How cool is that? You most definitely were lucky. And yet you didn't touch The Great One? Well, there goes my theory!

Bonnie Ferguson said...

Donna,
What a great post! Congrats on the release of the Education of Mrs. Brimley!

I have had a succession of luck at various times, though I don't think I can attribute it to a specific cause :)

Keira Soleore said...

Donna, I so-so-so want to believe that touching Nora can work magic for others. I, too, was lucky to get a hug from her and a picture of her with her arm around me. I almost thought I was going to fall over. That talk that she gave in Dallas was the highlight of my conference. She's AMAZING!! And I cannot use that word enough.

A huge YAY for Mrs. Brimley. What are you doing to celebrate, Donna??

Donna MacMeans said...

Bonnie -

So when you had that succession of luck - did you dash out and buy a lottery ticket? I'm thinking maybe that's what I should do, although I think winning the RT tickets are the equivalent. Who needs piles of money when you can surround yourself with romance and romance readers?

Donna MacMeans said...

News Flash!

My author copies just arrived - yahoo!!! Now this is starting to feel real. The Fedex just dropped off these boxes marked with "New Release, Open Immediately" on my porch with barely a shrug, go figure -

Suzanne Welsh said...

Donna, congrats on the author copies! And the audacity of the Fed Ex man to be so non-chalant! I mean really, didn't he know a famous author lived there?

Donna MacMeans said...

Keira -

LOL - I've been celebrating all year! Just check out those chubby cheeks and bulging middle and know they resulted from a few too many celebratory dinners. Finding that ceramic corset in Savannah, though, was the best. I know what I need to be doing to celebrate. I need to be working on the next book - but maybe I can procrastinate a bit longer.

Donna MacMeans said...

Suz -
I'm sure toting around those heavy boxes of books doesn't earn brownie points in the eyes of the Fedex guy. *g* I just hope as the years unfold that he continues to have reason to drop off boxes of books.

SO tell me - how do you guys think I should celebrate this momentous occasion?

MsHellion said...

What's that line from Bull Durham? A player on a streak respects the streak... *LOL* And I think you are!

I haven't been that lucky--but I haven't paid as many dues as you so obviously have. (No revisions? Faces at the keyboard are pea green, I'm sure!)

Congratulations on your debut--and I will make a note to go run to the store for your book. That title alone is awesome.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ooooh, Donna! How cool is it to see stacks and stacks of your book in those boxes? Books with YOUR name on the cover as the author? Gives me shivers just to think about it. Wow. Celebrations are indeed in order! Godiva's good, I know there's a Godiva store where you live. :> Champagne works. I'm fond of a chocolate milkshake as a celebratory drink (during the day, w/ kids, one does tend to avoid the champagne!) What ever your choice of celebratory material, make sure you DO celebrate! WOOO-HOOOOOO!

As to the divine Ms. Nora, I'm very lucky to have her be a member of my local chapter, so I've gotten to talk to her, sit next to her and hear her tell war stories, which is a ROFLMAO experience. I like the fairy dust idea...maybe that's what happened at the last Retreat, just before national, and I sold after National...hmmm. Could be the Nora Effect at work! Grins.

Keira Soleore said...

A haircut, a mani/pedi, and a professional makeup so that you'll look spectacular in that new celebration outfit you bought for that celebration dinner you're going out to tonight. :)

Donna MacMeans said...

Mshellion-
I love that line! Yes. I respect the streak - but I assure you I do change my underwear (grin).

Have to tell you, Dorchester originally offered for my story. When I spoke with the editor, she said my title would have to go. Then the book went to auction and Berkley prevailed. The first words from thing my new editor said, after congrats, was the title had to go. However we couldn't think of one we liked better. Berkley's marketing department really liked the title, so I got to keep it. I love it as well. It's truly unique to the book.

Thanks for providing me an opportunity to share my title story *g*

Donna MacMeans said...

Jeanne -

I love that - the Nora Effect. That's a keeper. And it obviously works. Your own recent sale is proof.

Gotta love the Nora!

Donna MacMeans said...

Keira - Well I have an appt. for a haircut on Thursday and I've chewed my fingernails down to nubs waiting to hear the reactions of readers to my book. New dress? That would require mirrors strategically placed to show all your physical faults in triplicate. But dinner? I'm there!

Caren Crane said...

Donna, I'm so impatient to get Mrs. Brimley that I stormed the Borders near my work today. No luck. They are obviously sticking to the date, although I found a copy of Claudia Dain's "The Courtesan's Daughter" on the shelf and it is also an Oct. 2 release from Berkeley. The floor manager acted quite miffed when I asked if they had more and he realized the release date wasn't until tomorrow!

I snatched it and ran, as you can imagine!

Christine Wells said...

HAPPY RELEASE DATE, DOANNA!!!!

You ARE a star and I don't think it had anything to do with Nora Roberts. I hope your sales go through the roof. I know I can't wait to read Mrs. B!

As for luck, I feel like the luck in my personal life seems to run directly counter to my professional luck, which is to say that my personal life has been pretty tough in the last year! But I certainly have never been on the same continent as Nora, so She can have nothing to do with it.

Hope your luck continues, Donna. Here's to La Nora and her fairy dust!

Cassondra said...

I finished the book last night--er--this morning--at about a quarter to six Central Standard Time--and it's AMAZING!!!

Donna, brilliant piece of writing. Wonderful story. I could not put it down!

I have bemoaned my lack of willpower all morning and now into the afternoon, as I'm bleary eyed and have much work to do, but it was SO worth it!

"The Education of Mrs. Brimley"--I remember sitting next to my two critique partners up in the finalists' section in Dallas in '06. I never touched The Nora, but she did walk by close to me--not close enough, however. But they read the title of Mrs. Brimley and I leaned over to my critique partner and said, "That's such a great title. They won't keep it, and that'll be a crime." And we thought they wouldn't, and they at long last they did! And it couldn't possibly be anything else. THat's what the book is about.

And a most amazing, fever-inducing, and heartwarming education it is!

If The Nora had any part in making the magic happen, then thank you Nora that I got to read such a marvelous book. And thank you Donna, for writing it.

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, firstly, huge congratulations on your release date! Holding the 'real' as opposed to ARC copy of my book in my hands was the moment it all seemed real to me. And also far too late for Avon to ring and say, oops, they had the wrong Anna Campbell! I carried that blue monster around with me for a week. Slept with it under my pillow. You get the picture! Hope you're as thrilled with Mrs. Brimley arriving. I'm waiting for her to arrive here - bought it from Amazon yesterday! Whoo-hoo! It sounds like such a fun read. I love a good sexy romp. Um, talking in terms of literature here, guys. Well, maybe...

It might be Nora's fairy dust. My theory relies more on your talent and hard work. But fairy dust never hurts, does it? Whatever you do to celebrate, enjoy!

MsHellion said...

Ha! I've thought Editors/Publishing don't know a good title when they see one! I think yours is a great title. I'm very glad you got to keep it!

Aunty Cindy said...

The Nora Effect... LOVE IT!

Okay, here's my Nora story: at the 2005 National in Reno, my buddy Willie and I couldn't find a table with 2 available seats during the Booksellers' Awards luncheon. So Willie plopped down at a table with a huge RESERVED sign in the middle and told me to sit down.

When I muttered about the reserved sign, Willie said, "We'll stay until someone asks us to leave." Then we introduced ourselves to our table mates, who turned out to be Cindy Hwang, Christine Feehan, and Jayne Ann Krentz!!! I nearly fell off my chair but did hear Cindy Hwang say that we MUST keep one chair open.

A couple of other bold and table-less unpubbed writers joined us and we started eating. JAK ate like one lettuce leaf, CF, bless her, displayed the appetite of a normal person. Suddenly, in rushed NORA ROBERTS and sat at the empty chair at our table.

Us 4 unpubbeds were SPEECHLESS! But Nora totally won my heart by shoving her salad aside and reaching immediately for her slice of cheesecake. She ate about half the slice and had a big bite in her mouth when the onstage speaker began the introduction of what was obviously an award for JD Robb.

Nora gulped down her bite, muttered "Oh shit!" into her napkin, jumped up and RAN for the stage. Those of you who were there may remember she was out of breath and said she wouldn't have to exercise any more that day.

And now that Donna has mentioned it, 2005 did start my "run of good luck" as it were. I was a Daphne finalist at the Reno conference, though I didn't win. After that, I signed with an agent, though he didn't sell my book and we later parted company. And best of all, I FINALED in the 2006 Golden Heart, which ultimately let to my first sale!

The Nora Effect? I'm certainly not going to argue.

AC

Donna MacMeans said...

Gee Caren -

Did they even check to see if they had it in the back? Or if it was enroute from the warehouse? Thanks for making your preference known. Maybe it'll influence them to put out a few more copies.

Anna Sugden said...

Mrs Brimley has arrived - it was on my doorstep this morning! I can't wait to read it!

Love the Nora effect. She really is so gracious to gushing fans and a hoot when you get chatting to her in the bar. I'd love to talk shoes with her one day!

My Nora story is from 2002. Nationals were in NY and I had only just started writing 'properly'. I didn't feel I was far enough along to join RWA and sign up for the conference (BIG mistake!), but with it so close by, I went to the book-signing. It was like being in heaven with so many authors I loved there in person!

The lines were enormous, but I was lucky that the end was right by the door where Nora's table was. So once the door opened, I ran to her table. Just as I got there, my cell phone rang - hubby who was on business in the UK. I asked if I could call him back as I was in front of Nora ... and he agreed. he knew what a thrill it was for me.

Anyway, she signed a book and let me take my pic with her. And she told me to join RWA and write, write, write. I went straight home and joined RWA. And here I am.

Hopefully, some of that fairy dust has rubbed off ... now who can I touch to get that sale?!

Donna MacMeans said...

Thanks Christine -
I withhold judgement until Anna weighs in. I think she touched La Nora and channeled the fairy dust back to Oz *g*
In any event, we'll have to make sure you brush against the Great One when (not if) you go to San Francisco. Perhaps La Nora will chase away those other disappointments as well.

Donna MacMeans said...

Well Cassondra -

Shoot me right back up in the clouds - what a wonderful commentary! So glad you liked it. I hope it brightened your day and gave you a quiet chuckle or two. The title does fit, doesn't it? At least, once you've read the story. I think the problem was that they thought the "Mrs." suggests adultery - which has nothing to do with this story, and that the title was not sexy enough. I'm glad they decided to keep it.

Donna MacMeans said...

No magical touch, Anna? No Nora connection? Another blow to my theory.

But I still idolize Nora. She's amazing. How you enjoy Mrs. B, Anna!

Donna MacMeans said...

Aunt Cindy - I plopped myself down at one of those reserved tables in Dallas and ended up sharing company with board members. I like your table choice better (not that the board members didn't provide stimulating conversation). Yes. You've been Norarized. Blessings, charm and grace will follow you always, especially when in the vicinity of cheesecake.

Anna Campbell said...

No Nora connection, Donna! Perhaps it's one of those six degrees of separation things and the dust came via YOU!!! The postman will wonder who this wild-eyed woman is who keeps running out to him saying, "Amazon? Amazon?" Perhaps he'll think I'm seeking something else from South America!

Donna MacMeans said...

VA - Your time is coming. I know it. You might need a booster shot of Nora as your encounter was so early in your writing career. We'll have to see what we can do in SF.

I'm so glad that Mrs. Brimley was there waiting for you this morning. Hoping you enjoy it immensely

doglady said...

Wow, Donna, what a great story and huge congrats on your release day!! My BFF and I are off to the bookstore to pick up our copies! I have never met LaNora, but if that is the effect maybe I should start stalking her. LOL I have always told Anna C that she is my good luck charm as she has been so encouraging (FINISH THE DAMNED BOOK!)since I met her online during the Avon FanLit event. I have been lucky enough to final in a couple of contests since then and to win one so far. Of course, the hard work part always helps. I have been lucky in my crit partners - the ladies of Passion's Slaves and Sherry Leddington, another Avon alum. Oooh and I won Nicola Cornick's prize on this site!! Oh wait, cannot gloat. AnnaC will smite me. Romance writing always makes me feel lucky. You meet some of the funniest, smartest, most talented people!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, gloat away! I rather like being considered a good luck charm, Louisa C!

Donna MacMeans said...

Doglady -
That's so true. Romance writers are some of the kindest,funniest, most intelligent and giving people I know. I guarantee the accountants don't have a similar bonding process *g*. Sounds like Anna might be shaping up to have some fairy dust of her own. She's channeling Nora - Noranna!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Donna, I love your Nora story. And thanks for the inspiration. Sometimes we unpublished writers get so impatient for something to happen -- RIGHT NOW!!! Thanks for reminding us that stuff takes time.

Bonnie Ferguson said...

Hehehe, no. I was just happy that things were going so well :)

Helen said...

A big congratulations on the release of your debut book Donna I have ordered my copy from Rendezvous and will have to wait till it arrives it always takes a bit longer to get here to Australia but I can't wait to read it. I have been lucky enough to win books coverflats and a lovely Jane Austen figure and I get so excited when I win something it is like Christmas time when I win something.
Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

I have been lucky enough to meet the incompariable Anna Campbell and also The wonderful Stephanie Laurens and those two meetings will always be very special to me
Have Fun
Helen

Anna Campbell said...

Goodness! Helen! Tim Tams for YOU! Um, this is lovely! We must have more launch dates where people are so busy complimenting each other! I've already booked mine for Untouched at the end of November.

Donna, henceforward I am Noranna! Actually, no, that's tempting fate. I think I'll go back to being Foanna!

Joan said...

I must call my CP and tell her she's been Noraized.

At the GH/RITA ceremony at Dallas this year, we found ourselves sitting in the row in front of Nora and her friends. Each time she got up to attend to things her purse swung and smacked my CP in the head. I told her to take some aspirin and stop whining...the touch had to be magic! LOL

Joan said...

Duh, Donna I hit send before I could add my congratulations on Mrs. Brimley. Can't wait to read it.

I've had a crush on Lord Nicholas since he visited the lair several months ago.

Lily said...

Nora Roberts... must be great to meet her.

My luck... it comes from hasard I think! I don't believe in something peculiar that give me luck!

Nathalie said...

I have been having good luck lately... I have won a few books :) and I can attribute it to the fact that I am addicted to blogs!!

Maureen said...

Congratulations on your new book. I can't think of any major event that preceded a great streak of luck like yours but maybe it's just waiting to happen.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jo - And then everything happens all at once, and soon miss those days without deadline pressure. That's what it feels like as you soon will discover.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Helen (waving) -
Yes. Prop up Miss Austen(with quill pen and writing desk, grab Anna's tim-tams (oh, that doesn't sound right *g*), fluff the pillows and relax with Mrs. Brimley. Let me know what you think -

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna-I think we should celebrate a release every month. We can do that, can't we Banditas?

Donna MacMeans said...

Joan -
Thanks - I'm partial to Nicholas as well. I received a fan letter yesterday that said after reading Mrs. Brimley she rushed out to buy a set of sable brushes.

Your CP indeed has been Norarized. Expect great things from her. I sat behind Nora in New Orleans and the poor woman rarely got a chance to sit in her seat. Fans came up to her constantly for a picture. I imagine your CP was black and blue by the end of the ceremony. Sounds like she's paid some dues!

Donna MacMeans said...

Ah Lily - You must believe. Click your ruby red slippers together and repeat after me - I do believe...I do, I do, I do believe... it makes life a lot more fun when you look for the positive after an otherwise serendipidous event. THere's nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Donna MacMeans said...

Nathalie - I'm so glad you're addicted to ours. Perhaps your luck will hold in winning a copy of Mrs. B. Good Luck

Donna MacMeans said...

Maureen -

I forgot to include another fabulous happening after touching the Great One. I found the Banditas - perhaps the luckiest event of them all. See, the thing is, you rarely realize you're in a streak, because you're so distracted with common events. Hope your good luck streak is just about to begin.

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, unhand my tim tams, you saucy wench! They are pure and unsullied as they day I was born! ;-)

Hey, the sable brushes have got me interested...

Hey, Mr. Postman! Bring me a Brimley, a Brimley today!

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Happy Release Day, Donna! I'm going to grab my own copy the next time I'm near the store.

Kim Howe said...

Donna,

Congrats on all your well-deserved success this past year. It's been fantastic to watch...and it all started with Nora. Hmm. The poor lady is going to be mugged at her next conference! LOL

I stopped by Chapters in Canada to pick up your book today, but it hasn't arrived quite yet. I'll check again in a day or two. Can't wait!

Keep up the great work!

Kim

Nathalie said...

Hi Donna... I am also glad I am addicted to this blog... it is really good!

Lily said...

I do believe...I do, I do, I do believe... and I love red slippers!

Kate Carlisle said...

Donna - Congratulations! I can't believe today's the day!! You must be over the moon!!

I love the story of Nora's zipper! You truly got a blast of lucky fairy dust because your life and career have skyrocketed since then!

I'm picking up Mrs. Brimley tomorrow at my local Borders. Since checking out the excerpt on your website, I'm absolutely dying to get my hands on it! I mean, to read it, of course, but I'm also hoping there's maybe a smidge of fairy dust on it...

Congrats, again!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Trish & Kim!

Thanks for your support of Mrs. B. I'm be hitting the bookstores for your books shortly. Kim - What a neat name for a bookstore - "Chapters." Love it.

KimW said...

Congratulations on your release, the book sales and winning the tickets! I think that's a neat title and I really like the cover.

I've had successions of luck, although on the small scale, but I can't exactly contribute it to a specific cause. Maybe just a little bit of positive thinking. lol

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten -
I do believe that a little bit of positive thinking goes a long way. Thanks for stopping back and wishing a stream of luck for you in the near future.

Donna MacMeans said...

And the winner is ....MsHellion.

If you could go to my website at www.DonnaMacMeans.com and send me your contact information, I'll get a signed copy of Mrs. Brimley in the mail. Thanks for visiting everyone -

Bonnie Ferguson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bonnie Ferguson said...

Congrats, MsHellion! :)

Tawny said...

Late to the party to say WHOHOOO and congrats on your release, Donna!!! I'm so happy for you *g*

Beth said...

So sorry I'm late to the party but I had to drop by to give you my congratulations on your release, Donna!! So happy for you *g*

I can't wait to read The Education of Mrs. Brimley!