[Image: screenshot of the June 1, 2023 Library Journal page with the starred review of Laura Moher's debut novel "Curves for Days"]
Wanted to come here and post a brief update before I dig into today's work.
It's June 1 and the Library Journal starred review of "Curves for Days" (my debut, Book 1 in the Galway series) is officially out! You can find the whole review here.
I can report a little progress in my battle with myself over reading reviews. I'm not checking them nearly as often or as thoroughly-- often just to see how many have come in. I'd heard that it's good to have at least 100 reviews on sites like Goodreads or Amazon, but I don't really know why. Anyway, when I do read them, I still love when people say good things and am not dwelling as much (or for as long) on critiques.
I'd thought this week I'd finish the first draft of Book 3 (Andi and Kevin's story), because I'm down to the last 10,000 words now! It's going pretty smoothly and I know how I want to wrap it up. Then I'll do a quick edit of it and send it to my beta readers.
But I got a plan-changing surprise last night when the copy edited version of Book 2 ("Just the Way You Are," July and Joe's story) arrived in my inbox. So instead of finishing Book 3, I'll be spending the next few days revisiting Joe and July. Lots of reviewers of "Curves for Days" mentioned that they want to know what's up with July and they are hoping her story is next, so I'll do my best on it for them/her. And I hope readers love her story.
Hands off Joe, though; he's mine. Or he would be if he could look at anybody besides July.
I have a problem. Some would say it's an addiction, but I can quit any time I like.
Today I got my very first (to my knowledge) TikTok review and it's absolutely lovely!
I can feel my head swelling to gigantic proportions as I type, and my mood--usually a mix of anxious, snarky, and distracted by all the interesting stuff--is GIDDY.
Thank you so much, Carmen from Louisville! [blows kisses and squeals intermittently]
You can see it here.
Then please remember to wave and blow kisses to Carmen. Squealing optional.
Are you a Netgalley reviewer?
Be among the first to read Curves for Days!
But hurry-- you only have until 4/24 to download!
Cover of the book Curves for Days by Laura Moher
with the heading EXCLUSIVE READ NOW!
and Available on NetGalley April 17-24
I'm the fortunate recipient of an immense amount of both kindness and luck in my publishing journey. I'm not saying I haven't worked really hard and rethought every single word of every single draft of every single story I've written. I'm just saying I'm reaping rewards that go way beyond my own efforts. Here's how:
My debut novel "Curves for Days" comes out on August 22, 2023, just under five months from now, almost seven years after I wrote the first draft of the story. My life has changed a lot in that time, mostly for the better, and most of the improvements are due to the people I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with. This is a story about them.
After I wrote my first novel-length manuscript and realized that that was something I could actually do, I started looking around for ways to make my writing better, with an eye to someday trying to get published. I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA), which was at the time a large and powerful organization, and a couple of its subchapters, including Carolina Romance Writers (CRW). This was before the pandemic, and CRW held monthly meetings at restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina, about an hour from my home. We’d have lunch, talk, share news, and often have a guest speaker. One month the speaker was Laura Drake, whose lovely emotional roller coaster of a novel “The Sweet Spot” had won an RWA award for Best First Book. She talked to us about using tiny clues and humor to ramp up characterization and add to the gut-punch of a story.
Because I had the great good fortune to choose the right table to sit at, I got to have a personal conversation with Laura over our meal. That changed my life. I’d been struggling with empty-nest syndrome at home and unhealthy levels of burn-out at work and had been feeling like I was spending all my time doing a job I’d come to dread, just so I could afford the payments on a house that was now too big, when my son had fallen in love with a city 1,100 miles away and was never going to move back to the Carolinas.
Laura told me about some of the adventures of her life, including a spontaneous cross-country move with her beloved sister, and how she had met her husband and become a motorcyclist. She said, “If you don’t take a chance, you’ll never know what you can do.” I’d heard similar words before, but this time they hit me right where and when I needed them. I went home, figured out a plan, put it into action, and the following year I packed up my own little car for my own cross-country move, and now I am my own boss, living VERY frugally, doing the writing I love, thanks to the kindness of a lovely stranger who shares my name (Since that meeting, I have read and collected her books. I highly recommend them. She’s smart, funny, and can pack a scene with more poignance than anyone I know (I'm really looking forward to her newest release, "Amazing Gracie," coming in April 2023.)
About the same time I met Laura Drake, I happened to pick up a book called "Carolina Dreaming," by Virginia Kantra. I’d read others from her Dare Island, NC series, but "Carolina Dreaming" is my favorite. In the story, one character mentions to another a series of romance novels about Navy Seals. That caught my attention; I didn’t know if there really was such a series, but it sounded fun, so I Googled it, and that led me to the work of Suzanne Brockmann.
One of my favorite things in the world is to find a new-to-me author whose stories I love…and then to learn that they have a big backlist for me to binge on. That was the case with Suzanne Brockmann. I worked my way through her Troubleshooters and Tall, Dark, and Dangerous series, and then through her older stand-alones as well. I liked them enough that I knew I’d want to reread them, so I started collecting them. When I lost most of my Brockmann collection in a big move, I started buying them again, and my collection is now almost complete again.
There are many things I love about her stories. One is that I know for a fact that her women characters will be smart and resourceful—qualities I appreciate and, okay, require after reading too many older books with helpless heroines who were Too Stupid Too Live. I mean, give me somebody to root for, not somebody who’s just going to dither until they’re rescued. But also, her men characters might be a bit repressed in the way of manly men at the outset of a story, but they are also strong, resilient, noble in their own unique ways, and willing to work on themselves. They’re not toxic. They never raise my “This isn’t love, this is abuse” red flags. They value teamwork and they respect the skills and abilities of others, including women, even if they’re not fond of those others.
Her stories are fast-paced and deeply interesting, the characters diverse in terms of ethnic background and sexuality, and there’s always some humor to balance grim situations. So I had a new favorite writer, and I read and reread and collected her books not just because I enjoyed them so but because there was a lot I could learn from them. I became a huge Brockmann fan.
And then—and then! —when she won RWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, not long after I’d become a member of RWA, she got up and made an acceptance speech that called out RWA and the rest of the publishing world for its racism and homophobia (you can read her remarkable speech here That RWA LTA Speech (News from Suz) (tinyletter.com) or you can watch it here on YouTube, starting at 46:40 when her beloved son Jason comes up to introduce her for the award 2018 RWA RITA Awards Ceremony - YouTube ) and called for us all to do better. She’d leveraged her increasing clout in the publishing world on behalf of LGBTQ and POC representation, and she was calling on us all to do more too. To do better.
And at that point Suz Brockmann became not only one of my favorite writers, but also one of my favorite people. One of my favorite activists.
Okay. This seems a weird place to change gears, but I’ll come back to Suz in a minute. I need to introduce you to someone else as a lead-in to the rest of this story.
Mary Morris is my amazing critique partner and another of my very favorite people. We “met” via a goofy, funny little Twitter conversation about Roombas, of all things, and I was so taken with her sunny nature and absolutely wacky sense of humor that on the spur of the moment I asked if she wanted to be critique partners. She too writes contemporary romance, and thank heavens she said yes. Now, a couple/few years later, we have read and made suggestions on many, many of each other’s manuscripts, celebrated each other’s good news and happy events, and encouraged and supported each other through bad times. Mary is a beloved fixture in my life. Today we both have publishing contracts (In addition to numerous essays and short stories published under her own name in various literary magazines and a contemporary romance series in the works, Mary is half of the writing duo Phoebe Walker, whose debut paranormal romance "Mirror Witch" is due out May 2, 2023 from City Owl Press and whose ZA romance "Dead Weight" will also be out this year through Yonder!), but at the time of our first Twitter conversation, we were both still struggling to get anyone to look at our work.
Turns out Mary, too, was a Suzanne Brockmann fan, and when romance writers joined together to Romance the Vote (to raise money to help amazing activist and fellow romance author (writing under the name Selena Montgomery) Stacey Abrams get out the vote in Georgia), we both bid on silent auction items donated by Suzanne Brockmann. I had my heart set on the manuscript critique. That is an incredibly generous thing to donate, requiring hours and hours of work on a stranger’s manuscript that might very well be awful—maybe even torturous to read. So I bid on it, and then I asked myself, realistically, how high can I go without breaking my budget? And when bids exceeded my comfortable amount, I figured out a way to cut corners and bid a little more. Eventually, though, the bids rose so high there was no way I could keep going. I had to drop out. I told myself it was okay, it had been a real longshot anyway, and at least the winner would be donating a much higher amount than I could afford to a really good cause. And that’s what I told Mary.
But secretly and silently I was disappointed for myself, because somewhere deep inside I’d thought if I could get Suzanne Brockmann to read my story, I could get some excellent direction for my work. Maybe even some words of encouragement. Because Suzanne, for as no-nonsense as she seemed, also seemed kind.
And then, right about the time I got my agent, Mary won one of the silent auction items she’d bid on: a personalized, signed copy of Suzanne Brockmann’s book “Night Watch.” And when Suzanne contacted Mary to ask where and to whom she should send it, my big-hearted friend Mary said, “You know what, let’s help my critique partner celebrate getting an agent. Send it to Laura.”
And so when, out of the blue a little over one year ago, I received a Brockmann book, somehow I knew it was from Mary, and I contacted her to thank her, and she said/squealed, “Did you look inside? Look inside!” And I opened the book and found, on the title page, this personal message written by Suzanne Brockmann:
Congrats on getting an agent for what I’ve heard is a “fucking awesome” book!!
Remember me when you have ARCs to send out!! 😊
(with a little help from Mary!)
And reading that, I joined Mary in her squealing, and there may have been a few tears as well, and it was all very happy and very, very messy, and I still remember the incredible feeling of that day. Partly because of the thrill of the gift itself and my close encounter with one of my heroes, and partly because of my gratefulness for Mary’s friendship and generosity. And also partly because Mary and I recognized Suzannne’s message for what it was: an offer to write a blurb that could help gain attention and sell my book.
Fast forward almost a year. My wonderful agent Sara Megibow had sold the story that would become “Curves for Days” to Sourcebooks in a three-book deal. My wonderful editor Deb Werksman and her publishing team had helped me make the story better and ready it for publication. ARCs were about to go out, and I reminded them to send one to Suzanne Brockmann.
And Suzanne Brockmann read my story after all, more than a year after I’d tried so hard to win her manuscript critique package at the silent auction, and she wrote me lovely email messages about how much she’d enjoyed it, and she sent my editor the longest, nicest blurb EVER and told her to do with it whatever she wanted.
So “Curves for Days” comes out in August, with a blurb in the top right corner of the cover. It’s from New York Times best-selling author Suzanne Brockmann and it reads, “Crazy entertaining. First-rate story-telling– made me laugh and touched my heart.” That’s whittled down from a longer message that was full of such kindness it fills my heart and leaves me unsure what to do with the overflow. And her kindness results from and is connected to all these other lovely people I’ve been lucky enough to meet on this journey.
I’m so fortunate. So fortunate. And if I ever have clout in this world, may I use it as these wonderful women have: to help someone else. To do better.
PS: Suz Brockmann has, of course, been very busy. She's just written the final book of her long-running Tall, Dark and Dangerous series, "Blame It on Rio," and it is a wonderful, wild ride of a story. I can't think of any book I've enjoyed so much in a long time. But she's ALSO been working with her son, producing a new series on the Dekkoo channel. "Marriage of Inconvenience," about two very mismatched gay strangers in the witness protection program together, premieres April 6, and I'll be watching with my own son!
My dad was Irish and my mom was German and Swiss. For every other occasion, Mom was the person who went out to buy gifts and cards for the family, but for St. Patrick's Day, Daddy did the honors. This led to a favorite family story which has the enduring punchline, "Happy St. Patrick's Day ... from me and my wild Irish nose." I remember my dad and that story every year on this day and it never fails to make me smile. Just a few minutes ago I took a close-up selfie of my nose and sent it to my sister with that greeting.
But that's actually not what I intended to post about today. I've just come across a web post by the artist who created the cover for Curves for Days, and it's really interesting and informative!
I knew Sourcebooks, my publisher, market-tests as much as possible for new books, including possible titles, blurbs, covers, etc.. In most cases I just hear about the market-test winner for each item, not the things it was up against. So it was fun today to happen across this website and get to see some of the covers that WEREN'T chosen for the book.
The artist, Andressa Meissner of Brazil, does bold, lovely work and you/we can enjoy some of it here on her website.
Please enjoy these Curves for Days cover art contenders, and happy St. Paddy's day from me and my wild Irish nose!
Casablanca Books ... on Facebook.
The text of their post:
We're thrilled to share the cover for CURVES FOR DAYS by Laura Moher - author!
On-sale August 22nd!
Readers of Olivia Dade and Lucy Score will love this sexy Southern curvy girl romance.
How is Rose Barnes supposed to build the home (and life) of her dreams when her big, burly contractor keeps scowling at her?
Rose Barnes has got curves for days―and to Angus Drummond, the big, bearded contractor working on her new house, she's the perfect thorn in his side. Little does she know Angus is perturbed on a daily basis by his attraction to this cheery, smart-ass woman with her sunshiny enthusiasm, her kindness, and her beautiful body.
Angus feels he has a debt to pay to the world and doesn't deserve love until he pays it. Best to keep his mind on his work and his hands to himself. But the more Rose sees of Angus's gruff, honorable thoughtfulness, and the more rusty laughter she surprises from him, the more she wants him too.
As their unlikely friendship becomes love, antagonism turns to partnership, and Rose's house becomes a home. But Rose is keeping a secret that could blow up everything with Angus, and sure enough, it comes to light at the worst possible time...
[Description of image: Photo of a book next to a cutting board on which flowers rest. The book cover has the title Curves for Days, by Laura Moher, and a blurb reading "Crazy entertaining--First rate storytelling--Made me laugh and touched my heart" by New York Times best-selling author Suzanne Brockmann. The cover image on the book is an illustration of a youngish fat white woman with curly dark hair and dark eyes. She's standing before a white picket fence and flowerbed against the backdrop of a rosy sky and she's looking back over her shoulder at the viewer.]
Today was a big day in My Personal Author World. I got to see the finished cover design for Curves for Days ... and I got permission to show it to you! Just LOOK at her-- isn't Rosie beautiful?
I don't know the name(s) of the wonderful artist(s) who designed and created this lovely cover, but I think it's gorgeous and I'm grateful from the bottom of my heart for all the thought and effort and talent they poured into it, in conjunction with others on "my" team at Sourcebooks.
Please pardon my brevity-- I must swoon now.
I joined Goodreads.
And I'm going to be posting reviews there of the books I read, and I'll try to link them here.
I'm told authors should have Goodreads pages, and so although I'd been avoiding it, I finally caved. I've also been told that Goodreads authors shouldn't read reviews of their own books, though, so I'll have to find some way to resist that once my book is available for review.
Besides joining for authorly purposes, though, it will be nice to have a place to organize my thoughts on what I read. I'm hoping that will stop all the authors and books and series from running together in my mind the way they currently do! It's embarrassing to belong to as many groups as I do where people ask for reading recommendations and I can remember the plot and the characters but none of the names! So. Do better, Laura.
Anyway, here's my first Goodreads review:
Laura Moher’s review of Ship Wrecked | Goodreads
Laura Moher, navigating this new world of writing and publishing her stories.