Friday, July 28, 2006

Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Otherwise known as JAK and SEP. Eat your heart out, Cher.

In the audience were two founding Cherries, Cory and Jill, who made sure I knew about the Friday Cherry dinner (thank you!).

SEP got to the room before JAK and with the no-nonsense demeanor of a field general about to embark on maneuvers, she began to assess the microphone situation.

JAK comes in, and SEP fills her in on mission central's failure: one microphone for two roving speakers. JAK wanders to the other side of the room and begins picking up any mike in sight, testing for sound.

A Marriott technician comes on the scene, along with an RWA conference organizer with a walkie talkie.

A second Marriott sound guy shows up and confers with RWA conference organizer.

Sound technician one then moves to the other side of the room to confer with SEP, JAK, and the moderator whose name I did not catch.

I was trying to get a shot of all five people while they were conferring about the mikes, but clearly here some of them have left the matter to professionals. Nonetheless all five players in the Missing Mike Repertory Theater.

And then JAK&SEP Show began, otherwise known as Secrets of the Best-selling Sisterhood.

They were totally adorable together. SEP is a former teacher, her voice is pitched to carry and brooks no nonsense. JAK is a former librarian and she has the low husky voice of a barmaid with a goofy sense of humor. OK, her voice is hard to describe.

They began by telling their secrets to bestsellerdom. SEP went first. (Sadly as I try to read my notes, they look like a prescription list for a very ill person -- lots of writing all over the page, mostly illegible, so here is a very skeletal overview because my memory is shot to hell.)

Secret One: One size does not fit all.
This was basically SEP telling people to write what they love and ignore the rules. SEP is well-known for breaking a number of rules in her bestsellers like making the heros sports stars.

Secret Two: Ignore other people's opinions.
One of my notes for this reads, I swear: some have ason losh byp lo set. (Make of that what you will.)
Here she talked about not giving bad reviews any power. Especially since she and Jayne don't think good or bad reviews affect your career that much.

The whole time Susan is talking, Jayne is on the other side of the stage doing these sotto voce quips, almost like a petitioner in a revival nodding their head at the preacher and murmuring, "Amen" and "Thank you, Lord".

SEP: Bad reviews do nothing for your career.
JAK: Dip-squat.

SEP: When I get a bad review, I call Jayne who knows just what to do.
JAK: Because I get so many of them.

Secret Three: You need good craft to get on the bestseller lists
She talked about how some people will love your work, some people will hate everything you write, but until you master craft, you won't hit the lists. It's not the only thing you'll need, but it is one of the requisites.

I am sure half the audience, like me, immediately thought of best-selling authors who haven't mastered brushing their teeth, much less the art of fiction, but we remained quiet because we feared the Fierce Teacher Look.

Susan is doing another workshop just on keeping the reader in the story which is entirely reliant on your mastery of craft.

At one point, Susan and Jayne were talking about how long it took them to sell their first novel.

SEP (in a happy voice): It only took me THREE weeks, but it took Jayne SIX YEARS.
JAK (unfazed): Of course, I used those six years to learn craft.

Then Jayne gave her secrets.

JAK: No one told me we had to have THREE secrets.
SEP: Jayne, we discussed this!
JAK: I only have two.

Secret Four: The lack of a truly original plot need not stand in the way of a successful career.
I thought this was hilarious and a great way to address and laugh off some of the criticism leveled at JAK. She went on in a more serious tone to say that readers want to be immersed in an interesting world, and that is what will make them love your books. Not the most original plot ever.

Secret Five (I think): Something about your voice being key to success.
I don't have a single note under this because they started talking about an exercise to learn about your voice, and writing exercises always lull me into a coma.

When I woke up, they had moved on to questions from the audience.

Both JAK and SEP are pantsers, though Jayne apparently writes much faster than Susan.

JAK: She might have won more awards, but, by golly, I can outwrite her any day of the week!

Jayne writes from 7 am to 1 pm every day, then does everything else in her life. At night she will make notes trying desperately to come up with a place to start in the morning. She will go through four full drafts plus the normal along-the-way revisions for each book.

Susan said she would have to write every hour of the day to keep up with Jayne.

Neither knows their characters very well in the beginning, but learn about the characters through the act of writing them. The only time they could ever fill out those infamous character sheets is when they had finished writing the book.

The hour flew by, and I heard people gasp when the time was announced.

And finally, for those of you who think Nationals is all about the shoes, here is a shot of JAK's fabuloso flipflops.

Naturally SEP expressed her genteel horror.


At Friday, July 28, 2006 10:27:00 PM, Blogger sarah said...

Thank you for the wonderful play-by-play of the JAK and SEP show! (And for all the other great stuff you've blogged.) It's almost like being there!

Sarah (a lurking Cherry and Cherry Bomb who, sadly, is not in Atlanta)

At Friday, July 28, 2006 11:16:00 PM, Blogger Kate R said...

Thanks again for a wonderful blog.

and look, I spotted a local yokel!(a CT girl)

At Friday, July 28, 2006 11:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of the fabulous posts!

Those are great flip flops :)

At Friday, July 28, 2006 11:55:00 PM, Blogger Tempest Knight said...

Great posts! Even greater pics! I totally lived the experience. *wg*

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 1:10:00 AM, Blogger Loreth Anne White said...

Oh I loved this post!!! Fabulous!!! Thanks for making me laugh, and for sharing. LOL .. I don't feel QUITE so left out now :)

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 1:32:00 AM, Anonymous Robin F said...

It sounds like so much fun. I especially like the pictures of the mic crisis.

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 2:08:00 AM, Anonymous Catherine said...

Great stuff, Jude! I loved your coverage of the JAK/SEP workshop. The pictures are terrific--almost as good as being there.

Here in non-Atlantaland, it was over 100 for the ninth stinking day in a row. (This is where my smart-aleck husband always pipes up with, "Yes, but it's a dry heat.") Plus, we're on alert for rolling power outages because the Hell's Canyon fire is threatening a major power line.

At Saturday, July 29, 2006 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Cherry Red said...

I went to this workshop last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for making me feel like I was there again this year.

At Sunday, July 30, 2006 5:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The moderator is Suzanne Simmons...of Sweetheart, Indiana fame.

At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 8:14:00 PM, Anonymous Louis said...

Jayne and Susan....two of my favorite authors....Now I know that they are great people!!!

Red toenails and matching flogs...great pictures!!!


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