Friday, April 13, 2007

Guest Blogger Vicki Lewis Thompson

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Friday dose of snarkasm to present a special guest. We are very excited to welcome author Vicki Lewis Thompson to the Playground today. Vicki is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly ninety (yeah, I said 9-0) books and anthologies including her acclaimed "Nerd" series, proving nerds are H-O-T! Her latest, My Nerdy Valentine, is available now from St. Martin's Press and a special re-release of her 1998 Love and Laughter book, Operation Gigolo, is available this May! Her new paranormal books coming out this fall promise more fun, heat and otherworldly romance.

Give a big Playground welcome to Vicki and make her feel at home!

First of all, thank you for inviting me to play on your playground! This is very cool, especially on Friday the 13th, one of my favorite days. Especially now, because I just started paranormal, and . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I learned at a creative writing seminar a few weeks ago that decision-making produces anxiety. That was a huge relief to me, because I’m a Libra, and I thought it was just me. Turns out it produces anxiety in everybody, even Leos.

It’s bad enough figuring out which toilet paper to buy or what to blog about, but what about big scary things like Career Decisions? Boy, if that doesn’t make you break out in a cold sweat, what will? I’m curious as to what makes other people change careers and if their reasons are more carefully considered than mine.

It would be nice to say I left newspaper reporting and came home to write books because I had a burning story to tell. But I did it because my kids were pre-teen and I decided it was time to start chaperoning their events. Turns out they didn’t want me to chaperone squat.

I’d already quit my job, though, so I had to sell a book because we needed the money. Luck was with me, and I sold to Harlequin Temptation. I wrote series books for Harlequin for a bunch of years. I don’t know if I consciously thought “hold off on the single title until the kids are on their own,” but that’s how it worked out. I guess waiting for a kid to come home when he was four hours past curfew produced enough anxiety for the time being.

But I must have run low on anxiety, because by the late nineties I was agent hunting so I could market a single title. Finding an agent produced enough anxiety to launch a space shuttle, but I finally chose somebody. And the agent wasn’t the right one for me. Honestly, it’s just like getting married and figuring out in the first year that you screwed up. I’d waited all that time to get an agent, and then I blew it.

So I got another agent, and this one sold Nerd in Shining Armor, which was a joyful event but produced more decision-making anxiety. Should I pester the agent about what’s going on? Should I pester the publisher? Should I hire a publicist and pester her? Should I go for Kelly Ripa’s book club and pester the network?

Thank God I answered yes to the last two questions, which saved my bacon when the book initially had a 20,000 print run. Then it became, after much pestering, a Reading with Ripa pick, and ended up with a 300,000 print run and a spot on the NYT.

More joy, of course. But more decisions and more anxiety. Should I stay with the publisher or not? I didn’t, which meant deciding who to go with next. Once that decision was made and the nerd series was truly launched, I thought I’d be set for awhile. No more big decisions.
Wrong. The nerd series has run its course, and I’ve changed publishers again. Also agents. Now I’m writing paranormal romantic comedy, and the first book of the series, Overhexed, comes out in October.

That’s a great month for a paranormal, and it’s also my birthday month, because, as I mentioned, I’m a Libra. And I would love to have this series run a really long time so I can stop with the anxiety-producing decisions for a while!

So tell me, how do you handle decision-making anxiety? Don’t bother suggesting margaritas. I know about that one.

Editorial Note from Smarty Pants: Thank you for coming today Vicki! We're honored to have you hanging around our playground. Vicki will be answering your questions today and one lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of one of her books! You can also check out Vicki's website at http://www.vickilewisthompson.com/.

32 comments:

Rhonda said...

Vicki!!! How did I miss the cover for Overhexed??? I like it! Good color, cool fun font. Very nice!

As for the anxiety, mostly I just talk to you and Jen. :-)

cas2ajs said...

I don't handle anxiety well at all and it seems, no matter what decision I make, it ends up being the wrong one. So, I've learned to just do the best I can with whatever decision I make and move forward with it, not looking back. Thanks for sharing your day with us, Vicki. I love the humor you infuse in your writing. It always makes me smile, if not laugh right out loud.

Smarty Pants said...

Welcome Vicki! I'm excited to learn more about your new paranormal line. Did you find the nerds of the past threatening to creep into your new books?

SP

Instigator said...

Welcome to the playground Vicki! We're really excited to have you here today.

I'm not sure anyone handles anxiety well :-) I know I don't. Unfortunately, I tend to take the emotional overload out on my family (cause they're always there and handy.) Then I talk to the playfriends. I'm sure DH and my girls would prefer I reverse the order a bit which is something I'm trying to be conscious of.

I also tend to eat. Not good for the diet ;-D

Instigator

Playground Monitor said...

Hi, Vicki, and welcome to the Playground.

I just try to rely on my years of experience to make the right decisions. And if it's something I don't have any experience with, I research until I think I have enough info to move ahead.

If I get really anxious, I turn to the meditation techniques that Maven LJ has taught us. They're great for making decisions, getting over annoyance at your younger son for not remembering your birthday, the body shop not fixing everything right on your car -- stuff like that.

It appears you've made some great decisions along the way and are reaping the benefits of them.

Thanks for playing with us on this Friday the 13th. I believe you'll bring nothing but good luck to us!

PM

Kathy said...

So glad you're on the playground today, Vicki!

Anxiety is spinning on the merrigoround without ever stopping. Sometimes the spin alternates between fast and uber-fast. Remember those kids who always kept spinning the merrigoround faster and faster even when you're yelling out loud that you're going to be sick if they don't stop? Anxiety is like that.

Looks like you've made the right decisions for your career. Based on what you've learned, what advice would you give unpubbed writers who are still trying to find an agent or editor?

And has your process changed from the day you wrote your first book to Overhexed?

Thanks,
Kathy

Vicki Lewis Thompson said...

Hi, all! Boy can I use advice on anxiety today. I have a phone interview in fifteen minutes with a local newspaper and it appears my accountant isn't finished with my taxes. Oy.

Rhonda, I was *sure* I showed you that cover for Overhexed. I'm in love with it.

cas2ajs -- Thanks for the attagirl on the comedy part of my writing. It's tougher than it looks.

smarty pants -- oh, there is definitely nerd creepage into the new series, some of it on purpose. I was afraid the readers who loved the nerds would be sad, so in the first book, the witch and wizard turn a hunky guy into a nerd so he can learn how to love. See, it came too easily when he was a love god . . .

instigator -- My buddies are my lifeline. Also my family, but the only one who *really* gets it is my daughter Audrey, who is my webmistress and all-around gal Friday. And every day.

Oh, and I eat, too. Chocolate. I have some fudge that I put in the freezer so I won't eat it because I'd crack a tooth if I tried.

playground monitor -- I need that meditation technique from Maven LJ! I even took a meditation course once and I failed it. :( I want so much to be calm and spiritual, and instead I'm the Energizer bunny.

kathy --love the visual of the spinning merry-go-round on the playground. Perfect, and I'm on it! I'm not sure who the babe is doing the spinning to make it go uber-fast, but . . . what if it's me?

My best advice for someone waiting for that call is to make sure you keep a writing schedule no matter how discouraging things seem to be, keep your writing buds, and network like crazy to find out the best place to send your work. It's a crapshoot, but the more people you talk to, the better you'll be at this dart game. How's that for a mixed metaphor?

Yes, my process has changed since I started -- which was back when God was a child. I used to outline more. Now I fly into the mist. I used to think I had to print out every chapter. Now I don't print anything until the book is ready to be mailed. That way nobody can see it until I'm ready.

This has been so much fun already! I'll come back after I finish the interview.

Problem Child said...

Hi Vicki! Thanks for being here!

I'll just Ditto the earlier fawning (I was in ballet class, so I'm late to the Playground today), and say that funny is an art. I wish I could write it half as well as you.

Everyone around here knows I'm a geek-lover, so I'm loving the nerds. Are they fun to write?

Pat said...

Thank you for all your wonderful stories.

Sorry to hear the Nerd books are done.

Barbara V said...

Oh, I Love Vicki books, since I got my hands on "Drive me wild"
I love the idea of you writting paranormal, pretty cool. You write such a hot books. I was missing your blaze books, but paranormal sounds great.
Well, to deal with anxiety I just get out of my house go somewhere except the supermarket. I hate to do the weekly shopping

Rhonda said...

Vicki, hope your interview goes well!

Jen called the morning and I told her about the cover. She's sitting at the car dealership and is ticked that she can't see it until she gets home.

FYI, Playfriends and all, this new series Vicki is doing KICKS BUTT. It's got her trademark humor and sizzle, and is peopled with a veddy veddy interesting group of characters.

Let me get straight to the heart of it--these books are set in Big Knob, Indiana. And nothing little ever happens in Big Knob. Need I say more? :-)

Angel said...

Big Knob?!?! Oh my!

I too am late to the Playground this morning. I've been out buying paint to get ready for our home inspection on Monday. Monday morning at 8 AM!!! Oh well, at least it will be over with.

I love the sound of the new series, Vicki! And I have to admit I'm envious. As any of the playfriends can tell you, my books are very angsty. Thus, very little humor. It just doesn't come to me.

And what does, I figure no one else will think is funny. :)

Making decisions causes anxiety? That must be why I'm so stressed out now. And don't you just get to the point, sometimes, when you just wish somebody else would make a decision once in a while. :)

Teresa D'Amario said...

Vicki, as an avid reader, I'm sorry to see the Nerd series laid to rest. I found each book better than the last!

But I do understand moving on. Just wish the Nerds could continue. After all, I have a brother who's a nerd (and we do call him that lovingly).

Anyway, I do love the new cover, and look forward to reading the new series. But, should you ever decide to go back to the Nerds, several of us would be thrilled!

Jen said...

Hey, Vicki!!! LOVE the cover. I positively can't wait for this book to come out. It's going to be GREAT! And I see that one of my fave books of all time Operation Gigilo is being reprinted -- Woohoo. I think it's the funniest book I've ever read.

Hmmm, very interesting insight that decision-making produces anxiety. I've found that exercise is a big anxiety defuser for me.

Yes, Angel, yes!! There are times it would just be nice to have someone tell me what to do -- but, I'd probably just resent it. ;-)

Maureen said...

Hi Vicki!

I'm a Libra too and I also am not too good at handling anxiety. My favorite way of dealing with it is to put off the hard decisions until I have thought about them for a while.

Anna Adams said...

Vicki, what a beautiful cover! I just wanted to say again, after I enjoyed your post here--how much I enjoyed your talk at SMRW's conference last weekend! It was great seeing you. And your charming and spangly bunny ears only added to the experience! I'm so looking forward to Overhexed!

Vicki said...

I did the interview, and the woman was nice, not patronizing or snarky about romance. What a relief! (I think she wants to write it, although she didn't say, but she had all the signs.)

problem child -- I wish I could do ballet! So there you go, we're never satisfied. :-)

Yes, the nerds were a ball to write, and as I said, they're not going away completely. (This is also for Pat.) In fact, in Book Three of this series I'm finally going to have a heroine who's a true nerd. I just won't be using the nerd word.

barbara v -- I hate grocery shopping, too, but getting out of the house for buying something fun is a whole other matter! I didn't used to care about shoes but these days I'm all about the shoes.

So what do you guys buy that makes you feel happy? Well, books. That goes without saying! What else?

Rhonda, LOL. I should have known you'd bring up the Big Knob part of this book. And I have to tell everyone that the slogan "Nothing little ever happens in Big Knob" was created by Rhonda! I tried to get NAL to put it on the cover, but they wouldn't. But Rhonda, if you go to Upcoming Releases on my website and scroll down, you'll see the phrase in it's first official appearance!

angel, yes I get to the point where I just want somebody else to make the decision so I don't have to angst over it, but like Jen, then I don't like being told what to do, LOL. Good luck with the painting. How much of the house do you have to paint before Monday? That sounds like a huge job.

teresa -- I loved the nerds, too! I promise you, they won't go away completely. Just sort of underground. :-)

jen, that's high praise about Operation Gigolo. Thank you. So is that why you love Sedona so much? ;-)

maureen, another Libra! Yes, I put off decisions as much as I possibly can. Like if I happened to be angel right now and had to buy paint, it would take me days to decide what color. My DH loves white walls, but I like color. The trouble is, WHICH color??? Right now my kitchen is red, yellow and a little bit of light blue. I don't know if I love it or hate it. My DH knows. He wants it white again.

Vicki said...

Anna! I loved seeing you last weekend, too, and we didn't get enough time together, either. It seemed to go so fast. How was your trip home?

Rosemary Simm said...

Vicki
How nice to visit with you again.
I normally don't care for paranomal books, but for you, I will give yours a try. Especially knowing your "kinky mind".

When I start to stress out, I garden with flowers. I love the sun shine, birds chirping and just getting my hands dirty. When I'm done planting, I feel so rewarded with my good job and I'm wonderfully relaxed. Of course, my neighbors know I'm a nut case. I talk constantly to my little friends as I tend to their new exsistance. They love me back for many months. Give it a try!!

jeanne said...

I try to avoid it but then decisions are made for you and that's not good either lol.

I'm looking forward to reading one of your books some day - they sound really good.

Kathy said...

Vicki, I'm glad you interview went well. And thanks for answering my questions. Finding time and sticking to that alloted time has always been my problem. Something will come up or I'll have to run out to get something for the kids. It never fails and then I'm left wondering where my day went and I'm another day short of meeting my goal. How have you dealt with scheduling family and life around your work schedule?

Oh, and what do I love to buy? Clothes, books, and I tell my kids to keep me away from magazines because I'll buy them and stack them. But everyone has to admit they love shoes!

Thanks again for being here to play. It's always good to make new friends. Oops, I'm hearing a Girl Scout theme in my head. Someone help me!

Kathy

Minna said...

Some days I can handle my anxieties better than others. Of course it also depends on how big decisions I have to make. I handle the harder anxieties by eating chocolate and by going for long walks. And by meditating.

I'm looking forward to your new book!

Vicki said...

rosemary, there will definitely be some kinky stuff in the paranormal, and lots of fun stuff. I'd be honored if you'd give it a try.

I really, really want to get into gardening. In Tucson it's a challenge when it's 115 outside, but that's only part of the year. I think you SHOULD talk to plants. I read some study that it makes them grow better. I think they like music, too. :-)

jeanne, maybe you'll win one of my books today!

okay, kathy, let's sing together -- "make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." Now we can sing it as a round. You start. Do not make that face. Singing is good for you and good for rosemary's plants.

Can you tell I was a Girl Scout leader? A Brownie and a Girl Scout, too. I have a picture here in my office of me and my best friend at a Brownie cookout. Love that picture.

You asked how I schedule around interruptions from family, my 90-year-old neighbor across the street, dentist appointments, and on and on. I struggle, too. The problem is that it's easier to cave in to the interruptions and sometimes I make them up my own self to avoid putting my butt in the chair. So today I'm not writing because I'm blogging, LOLOL.

Sometimes you have to attend to the interruption, but sometimes you don't, but because writing produces anxiety (aha!) you choose the interruption, instead. I do it, too.

I promise myself a piece of chocolate if I go sit down at the computer and work on the WIP. No sitting, no chocolate. I know this can be dangerous to the hips, but it works. At least for me, it does. Once you're sitting there, it's easier to stay. It's the getting yourself to sit that's the problem -- or it is for me.

Playground Monitor said...

So what do you guys buy that makes you feel happy?

I'm a relatively new grandmother (she's 10 months old now) and I love to shop for her. I'm going to visit tomorrow after our chapter meeting and it's part of the Grandmother's Union that you must not show up empty-handed.

I love finding a bargain and this week I hit the jackpot. I found some cute pj's for the baby for almost 2/3's off. And at the thrift store I found her a practically new walk-n-ride toy for $2 (it's $20 new). Kids Market (big consignment sale) had 50% off today and I got her some play-in-the-dirt clothes since my son has a garden in the backyard and lets her crawl around in it.

Found some bargains for me too -- leather jeans for riding on my husband's Harley for $5, designer t-shirts for a couple of dollars, a like-new Old Navy denim jacket for $4.

And I'll shut up now. ::grin::

Marilyn

Smarty Pants said...

I didn't know you were in Tucson, Vicki! I was born and raised there (moved to Vegas when I was 12, then went to college in Flagstaff). My mom graduated high school from Flowing Wells and I still have a bunch of family and friends there that I visit now and then. How funny.

Sheryl M said...

I loved the nerd books. As a matter of fact my mom was visiting a few weeks ago and needed something good to read, so I sent all of them home with her! Cant wait for the new books to hit the stores :)

Lis said...

Love the cover for Overhexed! Looking forward to reading the new paranormal series :)

vicki said...

marilyn, you are one fine grandma! I'm part of that same union that says you don't show up empty-handed. Don't you love bargains? Especially when you can find a few for you. ;-)

I have a Carter's outlet five minutes from my house. I have a just-turned-five granddaughter who, for her last B-Day, wanted "lots of socks." I think I got her a pair in every color that exists.

Oh, and BTW, minna, I love walks to destress. I can DO that. It's the meditating I can't seem to do. Chocolate's good, too.

smarty pants, you were born and raised in TUCSON? My kids went to Laguna Elementary for a couple of years before we moved to where we are now and they were in the Amphi district. (Everybody else, talk among yourselves.) Email me next time you're in town and maybe, if I'm not snowed under with a deadline, we can do coffee.

sheryl m -- love your attitude about waiting breathlessly for the new book. Me, too. I'm so excited I can't stand it.

lis, I love the cover, too. I have the urge to put it under my pillow every night.

I'm off to a little happy hour party for a friend who finished her work for her national board certification in teaching. I'll check back when I get home. With the time change, some of you might be signed off by then (we're the same as PST in Arizona because we don't do daylight savings here), so if that's true, thank you for blogging with me today! I've loved it.

tetewa said...

Glad to have you here today. I'm a big fan of the nerd series and sorry to see it end. I'm a huge paranormal fan and I'm looking forward to your release in October. I think this genre is on the uprise and think you will do very well in it. Good luck on the release in October I know I will be there for it!

Playground Monitor said...

I've never been to Tucson but I was in Phoenix and Sedona that first weekend in April of 1999 (?) when it snowed. Boy was that a shocker. I'd done my internet homework and researched the climate. Thankfully I'd packed a few heavier things for our stay in the Grand Canyon (which we had to cancel cause the roads were closed and we didn't have chains or snow tires, but we did get to take the train in from Williams and see that big ditch). I absolutely loved Sedona and want to go back. The DH was supposed to have a business trip there but it was cancelled. :-( I was going to move heaven and earth to go along. Maybe they'll plan another one.

vicki said...

tetewa, it warms my heart to hear you say those nice things about my move to paranormal. It feels like the right thing to do, but we never know, do we? Thanks for the vote of confidence.

marilyn, Sedona is a very special place. I hope you get to go back, because one visit isn't nearly enough. Too bad about the snow, but around here, it's an event to see snow! The locals were probably all excited and driving like idiots. At least you took a train and got in to see the canyon. I love that, too.

Looks like the playground is closing up for the night, so I'll wish you all a fabulous weekend and angel, good luck with the painting. I had the BEST time, and I'm so glad you invited me. You make a person feel very welcome. Thank you. :-)

Problem Child said...

Well my run-late-all-day day has kept me off the blog and now everyone has gone home! Sob!