Thursday, January 20, 2011

Docking In Texas Hill Country with Meg Benjamin

*Lights come up on a small ship’s cabin, hammock swinging in the corner and a collection of whistles under glass centered on the back wall. Bo’sun Terrio looks out from her director’s chair and smiles for the camera*

Bo’sun: Good morning, Revengers, and welcome to another scintillating edition of Romance Writers Parley.

Hellie: It’s Parlay.

Bo’sun: No, it’s Parley. Look it up, I’m right about this one.

Hellie: Bullshit.

Bo’sun: *shoving Hellie out the door and turning back to camera* Where was I? *takes her seat again* Oh yes, today we have one of my favorite writers of the 21st century. The author of an amazing series of books set in a little Hill Country town in Texas called Konigsburg. The characters who populate this town are well-developed, entertaining, at times conniving, and downright irresistible.

Hellie: *through the door* Kiss ass much?

Bo’sun: *throws an empty rum bottle at the door* Won’t you help me give a warm welcome to Meg Benjamin! [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much for joining us today, Ms. Benjamin.

Meg: Sure, glad to be here. *tries to move her chair closer but it’s bolted to the floor*

Bo’sun: Sorry, that’s sort of necessary around here. The Romance Seas aren’t always smooth.

Meg: Tell me about it. Romantic seasickness is an occupational hazard.

Bo’sun: For those fools who’ve yet to read your books, could you give us a short intro to the Toleffson brothers and tell us how you came to tell their stories?

Meg: Okay. Well, the Toleffsons are from Iowa but they’ve all moved, one by one, to this small town in the Texas Hill Country, Konigsburg. The first to show up was Cal Toleffson, a vet, who’s the hero of Venus In Blue Jeans. While I was writing his story, I blithely mentioned that he had three brothers without thinking too much about who those brothers were or what they did. The next thing I knew, all three of them were yelling for their own stories. Pete showed up in Wedding Bell Blues, which was actually the story of Cal’s sort of disastrous wedding (not the marriage, mind you—that’s going great). The other two brothers, Lars and Erik, also came to Texas for the wedding, although it wasn’t exactly a family reunion. Lars broke up with his scary wife, Sherice, at the end of the book, and it turned out Erik was sort of the black sheep of the family, whom nobody was all that happy to see. Lars got his story in Be My Baby, where he rescued the heroine’s baby from some really nasty kidnappers. Erik had joined the Konigsburg cops by then and he played a big role too. And then Erik’s story was Long Time Gone, in which he became chief of police and finally earned his brothers’ respect (and the hand of the requisite fair maiden).

Bo’sun: *sigh* I’m a sucker for these big men. Since all the brothers were paired off, you brought in the cousin of the heroine of book one and gave her a HEA in book five. Who is up next and how many more do you see in this series?

Meg: Next is Nando Avrogado, a Konigsburg cop who first showed up in Wedding Bell Blues and had a large role in Long Time Gone and Brand New Me. He had a relationship in Long Time Gone with Kit Maldonado, but it didn’t end well. This time it ends better. After that, well, there are also some new characters in Book #6 whose stories need to be told—a chef and yet another cop. All of this, of course, depends on whether my esteemed editor Lindsey Faber likes what I’ve done with Nando this time.

Bo’sun: I’m sure Lindsey will love them. And I thought Nando might get his own story. That's going to be fun to read. You’re a Contemporary Romance author with an e-publisher (Samhain Publishing) better known for Erotica and Erotic Romances. (Though that’s changing, clearly.) Did you ever worry that your books might go undiscovered among this hotter crowd of books? (Not that Meg’s books aren’t hot. OMG! Are they hawt.)

Meg: *clears throat* Um…thanks. No, I didn’t worry much. I was just glad they liked my books! And, as I say, I have a wonderful editor in Lindsey Faber.

Bo’sun: Everyone here dreams about having her own call story someday.

Chance: *from somewhere overhead* I HAVE A CALL STORY!!

Bo’sun: *throws an empty rum bottle at the ceiling* Don’t mind her. Won’t you share your call story with us?

Meg: Okay, well, I sent Venus In Blue Jeans to Samhain where, of course, it ended up in the slush pile. Lindsey picked it out, read it over, and thought it had some possibilities. She sent me a long, thoughtful rejection letter that was actually one of those, “fix this and send it back again” letters. I worked that MS over to a fare-thee-well and then sent it back. A couple of weeks later they offered me a contract. I had an afternoon to celebrate until my husband came home with the news that he hadn’t been given the promotion he’d been promised, which led to his taking another job, which led to our moving from Texas to Colorado. But that’s another story. Anyway, even though I only had an afternoon, it was a great afternoon.

Bo’sun: *sighs starry eyes then realizes it’s her turn* That’s a wonderful story.

Gunner Marn: *through a porthole to the left* You’re embarrassing yourself and the rest of us. Would you please stop fawning? I’ll pay you.

Bo’sun: You’ll have to excuse this crew, their manners could use some adjusting. *shoots evil eye at Marn* One last question, could you give us the coordinates for Konigsburg?

Meg: Well, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s somewhere between Fredericksburg, Marble Falls, Johnson City and Mason, Texas. Which means it’s probably sitting on top of Enchanted Rock! But hey, that’s sort of appropriate, isn’t it?

Bo’sun: I’ve been enchanted since book one so I’d say that’s perfect. (Okay, that might be a little corny, even for me. Sorry.) We here at The Revenge are quite proud of our drink menu and like to add a new concoction for each of our guests? Is there one you’d like to suggest? Something they would serve in the Faro, not the Dew Drop. A Konigsburg Kicker or better yet, a Tall, Dark, and Toleffson?

Meg: Okay, those guys mainly drink beer and wine, but at my blogging group, Nine Naughty Novelists  we put together a recipe book to celebrate our serial, The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy’s Secret Werewolf Babies. My contribution was a Bloody Good Margarita. I’d give you the recipe, but it’s just as easy to send you over there so you can download the whole thing and see what my naughty sisters contributed.

Bo’sun: Consider it done! Now, do you have a question for the crew and castaways to get things going?

Meg: Hmmmm. Maybe just what it is about Konigsburg that y’all like—so that I can keep doing it! Thanks for having me.


Hellion said...

Actually it IS Parley. Parley is to talk; parlay is a gambling term. Just thought I'd clarify that since it sounds like I don't know the difference. *LOL*

Hellion said...

Hi Meg, the Bo'sun has been raving about these books for months; and before she was, our good friend Janga (honorary pirate) raved about you. And when Janga talks, the pirates listen. It's on a t-shirt and everything. The word of mouth has been awesome. And the brothers sound delicious. :)

And I totally want to buy The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies. Is that available? Seriously. *LOL* How can you not read a book with that title?

Meg, are you a plotter or pantser?

And just in case, Meg might not be able to visit with us Friday (not sure)--Bo'sun, what is it you love most about these books? Besides that the heroes are huge.

2nd Chance said...

Well, they are from Texas, so they would be huge, right? California heroes are tan, dude!

Meg, I do love how you are using your setting to create situations for your characters. It's great! Do you see yourself going on and on and on?

*Must sneak over to the Nine Naughty Novelist and steal some recipes!

I am the ship's bartender and I do have a reputation to uphold!

Janga said...

My friend Manda Collins read Venus in Blue Jeans and loved it. She thought I'd love it too. Then, another friend, Lindsey Faber, sent me a print copy, with a note that said she'd thought of me as a reader when she bought it. So I was prepared to love the book, but it was the first look scene in the bar that totally hooked me. These people were real. They acted and reacted in ways that people I knew did. It was a scene I might have witnessed. I couldn't wait to know what happened after the "Zing."

And I didn't. I finished VIBJ without a break, and I've been raving about Meg Benjamin in loops and on blogs and in tweets ever since. I think Konigsburg is an interesting small town, individual enough to be credible and typical enough to have a familiar feel. But for me, it's always about the characters and whether they engage my head and my heart. Meg Benjamin characters do.

Marnee said...

I'm a GUNNER, not a gummer. Though I do appreciate the chewy, minty flavor of a good Trident now and again....


These books sound wonderful. And I know they are if Janga and Terri and Manda are all raving about them. I will have to check them out. I have an ereader now, so I can download to my heart's content. :)

It seems like your heroes have made a big splash, Meg. I was wondering what you're biggest requisite for a hero is?

Meg Benjamin said...

Wow, hi everybody. Lots of questions. Okay *takes deep breath*
Hellion, I'm mainly a plotter. I've tried just writing but I start being scared that I'll get lost somewhere in the middle of things and never emerge! Oh and our Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy's Secret Werewolf Babies serial isn't for sale--it's free on a our site. We're getting ready to put up a complete version for download, but it's not quite ready yet. Chance I guess I'll keep going as long as I can come up with stories I like and as long as Samhain wants to publish them. Janga, sweetie, bless your heart! Marnee my heroes have to have a sense of humor, even the dark ones. I'm not much on brooding. Whew! Thanks, y'all!

Irisheyes said...

I’m a GUNNER, not a gummer. Though I do appreciate the chewy, minty flavor of a good Trident now and again…

LMAO! Okay I spewed at this!!! Great way to start the morning. I didn't even catch that, Marn!

Welcome, Meg! As soon as everyone started raving about the Konigsburg books I went on the search. I couldn't find them in my library or bookstores so I did some more investigating and found out they were e-books. Kind of got bummed (not gummed) cause I don't own an ereader (yet!!!), then Ter told me they were in print.

How are you finding the whole e-reader vs. print experience? I know it's a brand new world out there for us readers as far as how we purchase our favorite books is concerned with the advent of the ereader, how do you think it affected you as an author?

FYI - I'm thisclose to taking the ereader plunge. I went on your website and checked out the excerpt for VIBJ and, like Janga, I really want to know what happens after that Zing! I haven't been hooked by an excerpt in quite a while, but yours did! I wanted to know more about those people and dive into their world. So, my maiden voyage of (I think the Nook) will feature the Konigsburg series!

Donna said...

Great interview, Terri!

I was trying to figure out why I was the only one who hadn't heard of these books, and it's because *sob* I don't have an e-reader. Waaaah! I guess I'll have to wait til one of the other pirates leaves hers unguarded. . .

Seriously, these books sound great, Meg, and I'm excited to read them. The heroes sound yummy. I'm sure they'll fit into my cabin here with no trouble. LOL

Yes, Janga the Pirate Whisperer. She hasn't steered us wrong. :)

Marnee said...

Irish - I'll weigh in here. Personally, I'm digging the e-reader. Mostly because it's so quick. I don't have to bundle the kids up to go anywhere to buy the book. I can just sit there, decide to read something, and BAM! Shazam! It's on my reader.

I can also read with one hand (no having to flip with the other hand) and doing things with one hand is a good thing.

However.... After reading Tiffany Clare's rant yesterday about pirating, I'm second guessing. If this is how people are going to act with ebooks, I'm not sure they're such a good thing. Technology shouldn't make it easier for people to take from others. If we've been able to come this far, I think we should be able to come this far AND still protect the author as well.

So, I'm a mixed review, I suppose.

Donna said...

Marn, I read recently that most of the piracy comes from people scanning in the books, not the e-books. I found that fascinating, and wondered if it's actually true (a publisher was the one who said this). Or maybe it WAS true until e-books became more prevalent.

It kills me that people do this to authors.

Bosun said...

I knew you'd know, Hellie. I was just playing. Sorry about the Gummer thing. No idea how I did that. I'll fix it though.

Sorry, I've been sick all morning and I'm finally at work but not for long.

Janga hit is exactly about Konigsburg, it's the people. Some are not so pleasant, which keeps the town interesting. Even the secondary characters draw you in. Wonder is hysterical and it's been fun to see him grow and chance through the books.

Meg is in Mountain time, I believe, but she should be around later.

Donna - You can read these on your laptop or get the print books!

Bosun said...

Goes to show you shouldn't take so long to post your comment. LOL! Meg is already here!

Bosun said...

I so want to know who Nando's heroine is going to be. Don't suppose you could tell me? Or just tell whether we already know her or not?

PJ said...

Great interview! Welcome, Meg!

I remember Janga raving about this series. It sounded like the kind of series I adore but I was so buried under my tbr mountain at the time that it kind of slid by me. (This would be where all those who have read these books say, "FOOL!")

Meg, your visit today is just what I needed to boost these titles to the top of my "must read" list and I just happen to have a B&N gift card burning a hole in my pocket to pay for them! Yay!

Off to add some books to my Nook.

Hellion said...

See, what type of idiot #$$hole do you have to be to SCAN a 300-400 page book so others can steal it? I mean you had to have bought the book yourself OR borrowed it from the library--I can't imagine anyone actually stealing it because they don't sound like they're that clever about their thefts if they're being this obvious. But seriously to copy each page, to scan it? I don't have the patience to do this sort of crap at work for my job, let alone for novels I enjoy. If I wanted someone else to read it that badly, I'd mail them the copy I purchased or buy another and have Amazon mail it to them. WTH.

But yes, Marn, that's one of the things I'm torn about in regards to Readers. Would I be contributing, so to speak, to the piracy? Also, I always wonder if these things download books, how do you keep viruses from getting on them and corrupting your Reader? Is that not a problem with these things? I thought if you could download to it, it could get a virus--is that not true?

Hellion said...

The Gummer comment is epic (which I know we're not supposed to say because it's not "really" epic, but whatever.) I didn't even notice until Marn pointed it out and like Irish, spewed.

Bosun said...

I fixed it! She's back to being the Gunner. (I just typed that Gummer and had to fix it. *sigh* It's that kind of day.)

People have been pirating books for years. Yes it sucks. Is it probably easier with digital copies out there? Sure. In 25 years of reading Romance, I've never gotten a pirated book, never looked for one, and don't feel I'm contributing to the problem because I own and read books on an eReader.

Did anyone here ever make a mixed tape back in the 80s? Consider yourself a pirate. And not the good kind.

Bosun said...

Sorry, I don't feel good so I think that came across as cranky. All I meant was, I don't see any reason to freak out and think we're all doing something wrong because this problem exists. I've not had any worries about getting viruses in eBooks. My guess is there are safeguards in place and if you only download from reliable sources, you should be fine.

Hellion said...

Yes, I made lots of mixed tapes--but since I was never deft enough to not catch the beginning of a radio commercial when I was doing it, I figure I was punished enough. Nothing like having your "Lady in Red" song ruined by an advertisement for tires.

Bosun said...

I just showed my age with that question, didn't I? LOL!

Donna said...

LOL -- actually there was a fee built into the cost of cassette tapes, so the artists could benefit from people taping their songs and sharing. So don't feel guilty.

But the piracy like Tiffany and other authors this week have been discussing -- it IS epic. To the point that I'm surprised the I R S hasn't realized how much revenue they're losing. When somebody "bigger" and "more important" than authors feels the pinch, I think there will be more solutions.

Scapegoat said...

Welcome Meg!

How in the world did I miss the pirates talking about these books? Sad to say this is my first introdcution to them, but I'll remedy that soon enough!

Gotta run to a meeting - be back soon.

Manda Collins said...

Hooray! Terri, I'm so glad you've joined the cult of Meg Benjamin! I first learned about her books from Lindsey, who told me she had this great author she was editing who wrote great small town Texas stories. I blush to say it but I was like "What? I thought Samhain only did erotic romance!" But I read the first page and was hooked. And then Lindsey and I were chatting about them and decided Janga needed to read them. And the rest is history...

What really got me about Docia and Cal's book was how real they were. They weren't over the top perfect. They were real. Docia is tall and has a size to match. It was so refreshing as a tall woman to read a six-foot tall heroine who doesn't wear a size six! It's just not logical or likely for a woman who actually eats to live. And Cal wasn't a rakish, good-looking jerk. He was kind of befuddled by that fact that all the women in Konigsburg were drooling over him. Like a normal, rational, non-jerk would be!

Meg, I'm so pleased you're getting the acclaim you deserve! And I know the recommendation chain that started with Lindsey is going to keep on going from here. Because your books are just that good! Their charm is impossible to resist!

hal said...

Welcome Meg! I've got Venus in Blue Jeans added to the top of my Kindle wish list. Woo hoo!

I love your story about randomly writing that your hero had 3 brothers, and then suddenly having these men in your head wanting stories. I love it when new characters show up that way -- ah, welcome to the chaos that is a writer's head *g*

Bosun said...

You all really are going to love these stories.

Manda - You're exactly right. There are no cookie-cutter characters here. These are real people and though there are similarities between the brothers, they are brothers after all, they are distinct as well. And had to work through some serious issues of their own.

As someone who never set out to write series, I still get surprised when some secondary character knocks on my brain and demands his/her own story. And then it's not like you have a choice, because they'll keep right on knocking. LOL!

Meg Benjamin said...

*blushes, digs toe in dirt* Gee, y'all, thanks. It's always nice to be appreciated :) I got my Kindle a couple of years ago and I really like the convenience (plus the way it's easy to read on the treadmill!). LIke everybody else, I've been pirated. I guess I don't see it as missed sales since people who download books illegally aren't liable to buy my books anyway. It's just part of the scene right now. As for Nando, his true love is/was Kit Maldonado. It's a sort of second chance story.

2nd Chance said...

Don't not buy a reader because of piracy. There will always be book pirates out there and you're not contributing if you buy legit books, period.

The IRS is getting interested, as is the justice department and sites are being investigated. The Senate has held hearings on how to stop it but the main difficulty is the 'pirate lobby' buries the comment sections with screams of censorship... The language on the legislation needs to be much more clear and they need to make it easier for the actual author/owner of the work to demand a take down. It's moving, but it's slow.

Donna said...

I'm not sure how censorship claims can work when someone holds a legal valid copyright and it's been stolen from them and someone else is making money off it.

You know -- like that FBI warning at the beginning of DVDs?

Interesting tactic though. :) I do think things will change as soon as e-books become a lot more profitable. THEN it will be worth fighting to keep that money. Before now I don't think it's been considered anything but pocket change. Luckily times are a-changin'. :)

Hellion said...

As for Nando, his true love is/was Kit Maldonado. It’s a sort of second chance story.

Oooh, do you know how many of us ADORE a second chance story?

Damnit, I'm going to have to get my eReader a lot sooner than I planned!

Donna said...

Meg, I read your excerpt and loved it. I can't wait to read the rest of this book, and the series. I'm in New England now, but I lived in Amarillo for a couple years of my impressionable youth. I miss the cowboy aspect of things. We have colonial stuff here, which is nice, but. . .Sigh. LOL

hal said...

Oooh, do you know how many of us ADORE a second chance story?

count me on this list!!

Because everyone else has said how engrossing the excerpt is, I'm avoiding it. I have meetings all afternoon (which really, is a crime on a Friday), and I can totally see myself staring dreamily into space trying to figure out what happens next *g*. As soon as I get home, though....!

Irisheyes said...

Yeah, I've asked the DH to bring home the Ipad tonight so I can look it over. I'm still leaning towards the Nook, though. I'm thinking the Ipad is probably more like a magazine and that wouldn't fit in my purse. I can't believe I'm gonna turn down a chance to take advantage of his generous prompting to get the latest and greatest electronic device. I'm usually last in the house the get any cool new gadget.

I stayed away from Meg's site, too, just cause if I liked what I saw I'd be that much more in a hurry to go get an ereader. I caved the other day when Ter said she was coming to visit today. And I liked what I saw. I got a sense of community and wanted to know more - always a good sign. I'll also be able to get, what 5 books at once? I love that! Nothing like jumping into a series that is already pretty well established.

Irisheyes said...

Okay, DH just Im'd me with "I've found it!" and sent me this link

So, it looks like we're both on the same page here. Except this thing looks like way more than I need! What is it with guys thinking bigger and more is always better.

I have this scary feeling I've just sent him on the Holy Grail search for the perfect all-in-one whatever it is that just so happens to have the ereader capability thingy.

Bosun said...

Irish - As I was reading your comment and clicking the Samsung link, a commercial came on for the same machine. I saw that last week and thought, "Hmmmm.....that looks interesting." But I still only need a reader. Anything more would be a waste for me.

Sorry, stopped off at the store on the way home and there just had to be an accident on the one road that's typically busy anyway. Man, not my day today!

So it IS Kit?? I was hoping so, but wasn't sure. You have to write this faster!!! LOL!

Hellion said...

I think Meg is going to make us all eReader converts. *LOL*

Meg Benjamin said...

Ladies far be it from me to discourage ereaders, but Samhain (bless their hearts) also issues all their novel-length books in print. Of course, you have to wait a year after the ebook comes out, but if you're patient... Three of mine are already in print, with the fourth coming out sometime this year (wish I could give you a date but I don't have one yet).

Bosun said...

I'm tempted to buy the paper copies just so I can have them.

PJ said...

Irish, for what it's worth, I love my Nook!

Irisheyes said...

Thanks, PJ, I've yet to hear any negatives about it. I'm just really bad at making decisions. I'm determined to pull the trigger on this one soon, though. I'm taking a trip in a couple of months and don't want to lug my requisite 5-6 books in my carry on!

Hope you're feeling better, Ter. I'm going in to hibernation for the next 24-48 hours. It doesn't look like the actual temperature is going to reach double digits for a while here and then you've got that nasty windchill to consider! Make yourself a cup of tea and go to bed!