Odds and Ends

These are all related to the Sight Unseen release, but I’ve gathered them for your listening/reading pleasure:

  • Heroes and Heartbreakers had a post of Sight Unseen excerpts–and included polls about who wrote what. I’ve so enjoyed hearing all the guesses. Please let me know yours using the #SUWho hashtag.
  • All five us talked the book concept at Happily Ever After.
  • I had an essay at Smexy Books about identity, truth, and disguise.
  • I went on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books podcast along with Sherry Thomas and Erin Satie to talk Sight Unseen. It was surreal as I listen to the podcast all. the. time.

Sight Unseen Release Day

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It’s release day for Sight Unseen! This beauty is available in print and e-book at fine retailers everywhere, including AmazoniBooksB&NKobo, and Open Ink Press, and you can add it to your Goodreads shelves.

I feel like I haven’t talked about Sight Unseen enough because I can’t tell you about my novella. What I can say is writing it was amazing because I was able to just write. I didn’t have to worry about where it “fit” in my brand or how I would make it into a series. The characters, the words, the story: that was what mattered.

When I received the ARC, I devoured it. Then I went back and read it again more slowly. The pieces are radically different from each other and from everything the five of us write. Leave your expectations at the door on this one. In fact it might be better to approach them as five separate pieces with a hard reset between each, because they aren’t a cohesive collection. It’s five different experiments running simultaneously.

I’m biased, but I think the novellas each work on their own terms, with their own rewards of narrative and writing, but they also work within the game. Who wrote what? Can you guess? Does it matter?

I can promise it’s a unique reading experience–and I can’t wait to talk to you about my novella after the reveal in September. In the meantime, if you read Sight Unseen, let me know if you have any guesses either here or via the hashtag #SUWho on Twitter.

And if you’re here going, “who the heck is this Emma Barry person?”, it’s nice to meet you. I write contemporary romances about political staffers on my own and historical romances about the Space Race with my friend Genevieve Turner. I wrote a sort author mission statement a while ago, my bio is here, and you can find out more about my books here. Star Dust is currently free, and may I also recommend Earth Bound and Party Lines? They’re my favorites.

A Fine Romance Friday: To Catch a Thief

I’ve become a stress wraith. It’s the beginning of summer, I still have two weeks to work before my kids are done with school, I’ve been writing more than I have in years…and I’m feel like I’m about to shatter. It’s the situation in the world, I know, and looming deadlines and goals (all self-imposed), but my nerves are raw, exposed, and frayed.

When I get like this, it’s hard to read. I can’t seem to make my mind to settle long enough to digest prose. Even concentrating on a movie is hard because the things I should be doing keep exploding into my head. I find myself re-reading and re-watching both because those acts require less concentration but because I know what I’m getting into. The emotional pleasures of the re-watch are guaranteed.

So when I saw it was on Netflix, I instantly pressed play on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 romantic heist To Catch a Thief.

If somehow you haven’t seen it, our story is fairly simple: John Robie (Grant) spent many years as a notorious burglar known as The Cat. He’s retired to the French Riviera, but when jewelry starts to go missing, the cops come after him. Robie has to unmask the real thief before either the authorities jail him or the old members of his criminal gang take matters into their own hands and silence Robie for good.

Into this tangle comes Frances Stevens, played by an absolutely radiant Grace Kelly. She’s a cold, restless American heiress whose mother owns diamonds the unknown thief is stalking. Frances sees Robie as an interesting distraction, and intrigue and sparks fly.

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Happy Book Birthday, Earth Bound

new tag lineHappy book birthday to Earth Bound, which released a year ago today!

I’m not certain if writers are supposed to admit which of their books is their favorites, but Earth Bound is one of mine (the other is Party Lines), and I have spent more than a small amount of time wondering if I’ll ever write a couple I like as well as Parsons and Charlie. But rest assured I’ve been trying. I’ve been writing LOTS of words in the last few weeks, both on my own and with Genevieve, and I should have some fun news soon. But in the meantime, I’ll be celebrating with a re-read of everyone’s favorite grumpy engineer.

Sight Unseen Cover Reveal/ARCs

The cover is here for Sight Unseen, and it’s so pretty!

cover with sight unseen at the woman. outline of a woman with a road on her against a blurry blue background

This will be out on June 6, and it’s available for preorder at Amazon and Open Ink Press (more links coming soon!). Also, if you’re a reviewer-y type, you can request ARCs here. I’m not handling them directly, but let me know if you have problems.

Obviously I can’t tell you anything about my story, but I really love it and it’s incredibly unlike me and I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks about it.

Notes from the Keeper Shelf: “You Were Perfectly Fine”

I miss talking about books.

It is hard to talk about books when you write them. If you’re going to review, do you have to be willing to negatively review in order to calibrate or somehow “earn” your positive ones? Will negative reviews, if you write them, hurt someone’s feelings or alienate readers? If you’re reviewing the work of someone you know (and the longer you’re around the community, the more people you will know), how do those friendships shape those reviews? What if you recommend books and people don’t like them? And besides, shouldn’t you be using the writing time you have to, you know, write?

But here’s the thing: my life as a writer began in early 2011 before I’d jotted down a word of fiction. My kids were newborn; I was breastfeeding and changing diapers continually and sleeping about 93 minutes a day. Oh, and I had a new Kindle. “I’m interested in women’s popular fiction,” I thought. (It was one of the subjects of my then in-process dissertation.) “Maybe I should read a romance.”

I literally Googled “best romances” and found lists at AAR, Smart Bitches, and Dear Author. So I started with an inspie a friend recommended (I did not like it. at all.), and then I moved onto Lord of Scoundrels. That was followed by approximately 200 more titles over the course of six months, mostly historical romances, but then contemporaries, romantic mysteries, paranormals, etc. I was hooked.

The reason I kept reading romances was not just because they were fun and sex-positive and female-centered and revisionist and amazing, but because of those (and other) blogs. It was about the discussion community around the books as much as it was about the books themselves. When I started writing, in NaNoWriMo in 2011, it was because I wanted to write a book that could be dissected by the blogs I’d come to love.

For reasons I’m not qualified to parse, the discussion sphere of romance has quieted. There are still book and review blogs of course, but the conversation seems driven by promo as much as by criticism.

With this in mind, I have many and varied writing goals for this summer, but one of them is this: I’m going to talk about books more. I’ll probably stick with things that are at least five years old and I can’t guarantee all of them will be romances in the RWA sense, but they’re books and stories I love and want to discuss. I hope you’ll join me here, and maybe explicate some of your favorites and share the links with me (hint, hint).

The first is a 1929 short story by Dorothy Parker called “You Were Perfectly Fine.” The page numbers are from The Portable Dorothy Parker; be advised I’m going to spoil it shamelessly.

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Book Announcement: Sight Unseen

If you read Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (and if you don’t, do you hate good things?), you might have seen today’s announcement about Sight Unseen, an anthology project from Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, and J.A. Rock. Oh, and me. Which is clearly some sort of mistake.

The concept is that we all wrote novellas outside of our normal mode. Experimental, risky, different, strange, sexy, smart, challenging novellas. (I know of what I speak; I’ve read them all.) But here’s the catch: we aren’t telling you who wrote what. While Sight Unseen will be out June 6, the authorship of the individual stories will remain a mystery until September.

Intrigued? You should be!

Sight Unseen is available for pre-order at Open Ink Press. The cover reveal and more preorder links will be out in two weeks.

So pop over there, read the blurbs, and come back here and tell me which one you think is mine. I won’t answer you, of course, but I’m dying to know what you think.

Happy Book Birthday to Special Interests

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According to Facebook’s anniversaries, Special Interests released three years ago today. It’s been a rough week for me writing-wise, but this anniversary feels significant. I’ve talked before about how the theme of the series is having your life not go according to plan and trying to remake yourself, to imagine your life differently, in the face of that. It’s optimistic about self-growth, an idea I find even more relevant and encouraging today.