Saturday, August 8, 2009

Showing Off My Brand New Brand

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary

Turns out I have a brand! I mean, I know authors are supposed to have them, but I didn't really think I did. That is, until I attended my own publisher, Sourcebooks' Spotlight session at RWA National last month.

My publisher and my publicist gave excellent presentations about the company in general and the romance line in particular. They gave a cool slide show of all the Casablanca authors' covers, including mine (SQUEE!). Then my editor took the microphone to talk about some of the Casablanca authors. Imagine my surprise when she started talking about MY brand!

Mine? Really? I had to curb the urge to run for the ladies' room to see if I had somehow attained a tatoo when I wasn't paying attention! Luckily I was too close to the front and in the middle of the row to make a graceful exit, so I was obliged to sit and listen to what my editor said.

She said here's what readers can expect when they read a book by Loucinda McGary:
  • an Irish hunk hero
  • an exotic, but very real setting
  • suspense, as in a little murder, a little mayhem
  • a touch of the paranormal, like the Second Sight, reincarnation, or mental telepathy
Well whadaya know? I do have a brand after all! I always knew my editor was a smart cookie.

So with a little over three weeks to wait until the release of my new book, The Treasures of Venice, let me go over that check list one more time to be sure...

Irish hunk hero? Keirnan Fitzgerald from County Kildare, dark-haired, blue-eyed Irish charmer. Check!

Exotic setting? Beautiful, romantic Venice (both current day and in 1485). Check!

A little murder and mayhem? Stolen jewels, kidnappings, knives and guns. Check!

A paranormal element? Possible past lives recreating themselves. Check!

All that's missing is YOU, the reader! So here's a short excerpt to whet your appetite:

A closed door blocked the top of the stairs, but it must not have been locked because Keirnan opened it after only a moment’s hesitation.

They emerged into another corridor right on the heels of a Japanese family--mother, father and two bored teens. While one parent snapped photos, the other ran a camcorder to capture every millimeter. Within moments, they all reached Bridge of

Keirnan stepped forward and offered to take a picture of all four family members. Sam was not the least bit surprised to hear him utter some phrases in Japanese.

“Shall I take your picture too?” he asked after the family moved on.

She gestured at the fanny pack beneath her coat. “No camera. Besides, I was just here yesterday.”

He tilted his head and studied her for a long silent moment. The blue of his eyes gleamed iridescent in the dimness of the narrow enclosed bridge.
“You don’t seem to fancy this romantic Venetian landmark.”

His open scrutiny made funny flutters kick up along the nerve endings in her spine. She wished some other tourists would show up.
“I hardly think a bridge built to secretly imprison your political enemies is romantic.”

His dark brows lifted in a sardonic salute. “You had an excellent tour guide yesterday.”

“Actually, I’m a librarian so I read several books before the trip.”

Sam turned aside to escape the probing of his too perceptive gaze and stared out the small square opening cut into the stone. Urban legend said during the Middle Ages prisoners got their last look at Venice through this window and their sighs of longing gave the bridge its name. Wintry gray walls rose up on either side, and the cold green-black water of the canal loomed far below. Nothing romantic here at all.

“He’s a fool.”

“Excuse me?”

The sudden pronouncement caught Sam completely off guard. She turned to find the charming Irish rogue standing uncomfortably close. She took a step backward.

“Whomever ‘twas that let you come to Venice alone. He’s a bloody fool.”

Who are some of your favorite authors? When did you figure out that they had a brand? And what is it about their brand that you find the most appealing?


Virginia said...

Is he staying with me?

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, man, SOOOOO close! Congratulations, Virginia!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Cindy, how cool to be the feature in the Source Books workshop! Yay, you! And what a wonderful brand to have. Can't imagine that wouldn't appeal to someone!

Brands are so interesting, aren't they? And sometimes it's something almost intangible. For example, with Jenny Crusie, for me the appealing element is the snarky attitude to life. There's no sugar-coating on her stories! With Linda Howard, for me, the brand is the incredible sexual chemistry she develops between her hero and heroine. Doesn't matter what sort of story she's telling.

Virginia said...

Aunty Cindy, your book sounds like a great read and I can't wait to read it. I have a lot of favorite authors. All of the Romance Bandits are fav's. Also love Elizabeth Hoyt, Constance O'Banyon, Joanne Sundell, Shari Anton, just to name a few. I am real big in to the historical romance's but I read a little of everything. Right now I am reading The Twilight series and really enjoying it.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

CONGRATS, Virginia!

I hope you have something vigorous planned for the GR. Something to keep him out of TROUBLE! I was a little nervous posting a picture of a branding iron lest I give the chook ideas...

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Fo... missed the chook by a mere 3 minutes!

I wasn't the only featured author, of course, but it was cool to hear my brand discussed. Mostly because I hadn't stopped to analyze it in that way. SHEESH! Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees...

WOW! You picked two GREAT authors! There is no mistaking the writing of either Jenny Crusie or Linda Howard! They are very distinctive and original.


Anna Campbell said...

Mind you, AC, I've heard some well known authors say that they don't really want to KNOW what their brand is just in case they become self-conscious and they lose the magic. What do you think about that?

And yeah, three minutes! That Virginia's faster than a rat down a drainpipe!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AWWW! Thanx a bunch, Virginia for saying our pubbed Banditas are your faves! I gotta admit, they are my faves too!

I haven't read Joanne Sundell but will be sure to look for her on your recommendation. I've enjoyed books by all the other 3. As for Twilight, I have refused to let myself get sucked into reading the series because I was on deadline. I was sure once I started I wouldn't be able to stop. But now that I'm out of the deadline cave for a little while...


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Rat down a drainpipe Fo? Speaking from personal experience there?!?! LOL!

WOW! I've never heard that about knowing your brand making you self-conscious. Probably because I don't have a self-conscious bone in my body... a few gristles or cartilege maybe, but no bones! :-P


Helen said...

Congrats Virginia he must be having lots of fun at your place

I have to agree what a wonderful brand and yep so true I loved The Wild Sight and am so looking forward to reading TTOV not long to go now.

If any one has read any of Karen Ranney's books her heros and heroines at times are always so torturted but her stories are amazing they pull you in so much and you are so wanting to get to the end for their HEA. I have never really thought about brands with authors before but this post has really got me thinking.
Anna Campbell as well has heros (Matthew in Untouched and of course Olivia in To Tempt The Devil and Verity and Kylemore as well)that have pasts that pull you in and you are craving for their HEAs.

I am really thinking now

Have Fun

Helen said...

I agree with Virginia as well I have read all of The Bandits published books and I gotta say they are awesome you are all auto buys for me and you always take me on great adventures and give me hours of pleasure around the world and in different eras.

Way To Go Ladies

Have Fun

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Helen!

Yes, only a little over 3 weeks to go! I'm hoping you love TToV as much as you did TWS.

I was THINKING our own FoAnna certainly has a brand -- Regency Noir! She really writes those yummy alpha heroes and her characters all do seem to have a tortured past. We can't WAIT to see them overcome it and earn their HEAs.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Helen, Thanx again!

We do have a wide mix of sub-genres amongst our Banditas. I'm thrilled that our buddies like you and Virginia are eagerly awaiting our new books!


Lynz Pickles said...

Congrats, Virginia. Have fun with him!

What an interesting topic, Aunty Cindy! I like the intangible brands, the kind Foanna mentioned, because with those authors I know I'll almost always love/hate their books, regardless of the characters/setting/plot, which helps me narrow down my TBR pile. For example, Juliet Landon: her books always make me feel icky - that's her intangible brand for me - so I just avoid them, instead of having to pick and choose because I like some but not others.

But more importantly, any author who's got an intangible brand I like gets a crazy fangirl for life in the form of yours truly. Even if one of their books is only so-so, I'll probably still really enjoy it because I like the feeling it gives me. Robin McKinley is an example; even if I start to feel bored at the start of a book because the pacing's too slow, I'll keep reading because I know I'll feel good at the end. Same thing with Megan Whalen Turner... you just know Gen's got secret plans and is going to get what he wants in the end! Plus he's getting sexy as he grows up, which always helps.

I like Olivia Gates because I know that her books are only good for when I want OVER-THE-TOP DRAMA!!! with a grovel thrown in. They're a bit much, but when I want my drama, they really hit the spot. And Elizabeth Lowell is my go-to girl for when I'm in an "I hate all men!" mood. I grab one of her alpha jerk novels and settle in because I know the hero's going to grovel until his knees bleed.

Tessa Dare's already branded herself in my mind, though that's because I've read more than just GotH. She writes books with characters I love even when I don't want to, books which put a smile on my face for at least a week after I read them. And I've loved every Kelley Armstrong paranormal I've ever read.

Oh, and in the manga, Yoshiki Nakamura's chibi characters, especially the ones in Skip Beat! make any day better. They're SO FUNNY! And cute, too. That whole series is amazing, but it's the chibis, and especially the chibi demons, which make it so great. And Hinako Ashihara does perfectly-paced, realistic teenage slice of life like no other. Plus the hands she draws often get crazily out of proportion, which provides a good laugh despite the angst.

Elyssa Papa said...

Aunt Cindy, we must be channeling each other! In my WIP (contemporary romance), I have a blue-eyed, black-haired Irish hero named Keirnan. Great minds think alike. *g*

I love your brand. Congrats on the book! The cover is gorgeous!

Minna said...

Well, most often when you start reading a book by Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb you can expect to see some of this stuff -not nesessarily all of them at the same time in the same book:
paranormal stuff
Irish hunks
futuristic stuff
time travel

Today Eve seems to be totally exhausted, she doesn't move around much right now, she can barely get up on the sofa and she limps -no, she didn't hurt her foot, she just starts to limp whenever she has too much fun.

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Who Let the Dogs out??- Baha men Original version

Deb Marlowe said...

First a crop, Aunty Cindy, and now a brand! I think I'm afraid of you! :-)

Congrats on the shout out by your editor! I can't wait for Treasures!

Beth said...

Wow! Love the excerpt, AC! Can't wait to read The Treasures of Venice!!

That's so cool about your editor talking about your brand. Congrats on the nice shout-out *g*

Joan said...

You had me at Irish hunk...then you reeled me in with his eyes, hair, name and accent.

OMG...can NOT wait for this book!!!

I think I'll go camp out at Borders now.

jo robertson said...

Whoooo hoooooot, Cindy! Can't wait to see Treasure of Venice hit the shelves. Gorgeous cover, beautiful story and I feel privileged to have read it already!

I'm the person who sort of gets the brand when someone smacks me over the head with it LOL.

I wonder how readers feel if they come to expect a certain kind of book from an author and then she/he changes the brand. Disappointed? Game for something new?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Everyone!
Yes, it is still morning here on the West Coast, and a beautiful one to boot!

Wow, Lynz! You really have this intangible branding down. :-) I'd love to know how you feel about Jo's question. When an author turns out a book that is NOT their usual brand, what is your reaction? Pleasantly surprised? Ticked off? or ???


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YOU have a Keirnan too?!?! How KEWL is that? Mine's name was inspired by my cousin's son, whom she named Kieran (a not uncommon Irish name). But I wanted it to be a wee bit different. :-) I'm already getting misspellings in reviews which I expected with the "ei" "ie" thing. But what can I say? Being a Loucinda with an "O" marked me for life! LOL!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Glad to hear the dog has calmed down a bit. My Pug-Wa-Wa tends to over due it jumping and then limping afterward, so I'm sure Eve will be fine in a day or two.

And I LURVE the JD Robb "In Death..." series!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Heh Heh, Deb!

Yes, I'm very scary! And that's just in the morning before breakfast and I haven't even picked up my crop or brand!

Hope you enjoy TToV.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx a bunch, Beth for loving the excerpt!

I can't wait for your latest either, and luckily it will only be one month after mine. His Secret Agenda looks wonderful, based on the beautiful cover alone!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AWWW! Thanx Joanie! I know you're going to LURVE Keirnan. And don't forget, you can always pre-order. ;-)

who hates camping of any kind

Nancy said...

Virginia, you're really on a roll with that bird! I hope you work him very, very hard. *g*

Cindy, I second Anna C. on the "how cool" moment! I'm glad your wonderful books are getting the recognition they deserve.

As for branding, that's a tough question. I had to come up with a brand for my website, and I finally settled on "Romantic Action-Adventure" because I aspire to write in more than one genre and wanted something that would fit a broad spectrum. All my books have some level of romance, action, and adventure. Or I hope they do.

My brain is still fried from trying to make a list for Christine. Can't list favorites today, alas.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Your insightful critiques always help me make my stories better! Can't thank you enough.

And that is an EXCELLENT question! How DO you feel when an author you've come to expect writes something completely different from her usual brand?

I would give the new book a try, unless it is something I absolutely do not read. Someone who writes contemporary who decides to write an historical (or vice versa) for example, I'd have no problem trying. Someone who writes angsty (like our Fo) but decides to try comedy I'd be game for too.

What about YOU?



Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thank you, Nancy!

This branding thing can be difficult to pin-point, which is why I was glad my editor did it for me! ;-) Honestly, I agree with Jo, sometimes you are just too close to the subject to see anything. Being hit over the head is the only thing that works in those situations. LOL!

No worries on the list of favorites. My brain was too fried when I wrote this to come up with my own, so I asked for others to mention theirs! Aunty is sneaky like that...


Anna Campbell said...

Hey, thanks, Helen and AC. I think branding often comes down to voice - you know, that indefinable thing that makes one writer different from another.

It's a good question about people who change their 'brand' - if the voice continues over and that's what I like, generally I'm in like Flynn.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Interesting comparison between voice and brand, Fo.

I agree that voice can be the most defining brand of all, but sometimes an author's brand is a very conscious choice. I'm not so sure voice is ever conscious. Anyone else like to weigh in on voice or brand or both?!?!


Gannon Carr said...

Woohoo, AC! I can't wait for your new book. How cool that you were spotlighted in the workshop for you "brand." *g*

I agree about the JD Robb brand: hunky Irish hero (I love Roarke!), tough heroine, plenty of murder and mayhem, and great futuristic elements.

SEP's brand is ROFL humor.

Virginia, you must be doing something right with the GR. *g*

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Gannon!

It was fantastic to meet you in person in DC! I hope you enjoy TToV. I do think Keirnan is a hero to die for... but I could be just a tad biased. :-P

I agree about SEP's brand being laugh-out-loud humor, which brings me back to the question: If SEP decided to do a dark and angsty story (a la Anna Campbell) what would you think?!?! Try it? Take a pass? Deal or no deal???


Anna Campbell said...

Gannon, that's an interesting take on SEP. Actually, for me, what makes her books so memorable is the deep emotion under the sparkling humor. And she definitely deals with some darker subjects - abandonment, bad parenting, loneliness, poor self-image, etc. So yeah, I would follow her into noirish territory ;-)

Minna said...

Nora Roberts has also written a couple of books about time travel.

Poor Eve. She tries to follow me everywhere now -except when she decides to chase birds. She probably thinks my brother has left her here for good.

Minna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
terrio said...

I can't wait to read this book. Every excerpt makes the wait that much harder.

The one word I always associate with SEP's books is "angst*. Which is why I love them. I'm an angst addict.

I'm with AC in that I think voice and brand are a bit different. If Aunty decided to switch her brand to hot cowboy heroes, wide open spaces settings, and plenty of pioneering and gunfights, her voice would still remain the same.

That's my guess anyway. :)

Minna said...

Looks like Eve doesn't even want to sleep all alone in the living room anymore.

Becke Davis said...

I attended that Sourcebook workshop and was VERY impressed. I annoyed the heck out of my critique partner, Rosie, by poking her in the side every time they mentioned your name. "I know her," I whispered loudly, every time. After awhile, she just rolled her eyes.

Afterwards, I made a point of telling Deb Werksman and Danielle Jackson how much I loved Wild Sight, and it was obvious you are one of their stars!

I am lucky enough to have an ARC of The Treasures of Venice but haven't had time to read it yet. It looks great, and I'm sure it will be a keeper, just like Wild Sight was.

Very cool on the branding! I'm still figuring that out.

Joan said...

I am lucky enough to have an ARC of The Treasures of Venice but haven't had time to read it yet.

Ok, um, Becke....I'll take that off your hands. Just toss it on down here to Louisville.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

COOL observation about SEP, Fo. I think Jenny Crusie pulls off the same thing, a lot of dysfunction mixed in with the humor. She could easily go dark too, I think.

And I'd definitely follow Anna Campbell is she decided to go for a more humorous bent. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Ah, Minna, your brother's poor doggie is obviously having separation anxiety. I'm sure she'll be over-joyed when he returns, and I'm guessing you will be too. ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL on being an "angst addict" Terrio! I think a lot of us readers are. It is faaar more interesting to read about and watch characters go through than to have it in our real lives!

I do think voices and brands can evolve, but at this point I have no plans to go for the wide open spaces and cowboy hunks. I'll leave those to the other Banditas here who do it so well. Meanwhile, I will be curious to see if you think my voice is different between the two story lines in TToV. One is contemporary and the other historical.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Becke!

THANX SO MUCH for telling my editor and publicist that you LURVED The Wild Sight! I owe ya one!!!

Can't wait to see how you like TToV, and I'm really looking forward to being on your B&N Mystery Board on Sept. 8th.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Joanie!

Those ARCs were scarce as hens' teeth, lemme tell ya! I practically had to crawl over broken glass to get 3 of 'em, and one of those was promised to Brenda Novak's online auction.

I think you're gonna LURVE my Irish hunk, even if he is in Italy instead of Ireland.


Kate Carlisle said...

Oooh Cindy, your book will be out so soon! Can't wait! And how nice to know you've been branded! It's cool, too, that you were featured at the publisher spotlight--but of course you were!! You're fabulous! :-)

Seriously, I'm counting the days until I get to read your next hot Irishman's adventures!!

Congrats Virginia! Have fun with our own beastie boy!

Joan said...

I think you're gonna LURVE my Irish hunk, even if he is in Italy instead of Ireland.

Ah, no matter. Ye can take the boyo out of Ireland, but ye can't take the Ireland out of the boy


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AH Kate! I takes a fabulous one to KNOW one! ;-)

And it won't be long until YOUR next mystery is on the shelf also! KEWLNESS! We'll be multi-pubbed authors!!!

feeling giddy at the thought

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Truer words were never spoken! Those Irish boyos are YUMMY in any location! ;-)


Becke Davis said...

Joan - There's a waiting list!

limecello said...

Hm... author "brands" that's an interesting topic - I have no idea? :D The only author I can think of is Carly Phillips- with her initials/the heart- I think it's really cute and well done. Clever and it works for her.
Otherwise... uhh... :P I guess I'm not the branding market.

Congrats on the GR, Virginia!