Monthly Archives: April 2007

All Good Things…

Barbara Vey -- April 29th, 2007

The end is near and as I approach the lobby today there is a more somber atmosphere.  Luggage litters the area.  Gone are the screams and screeches of hello, replaced by sweet, sad smiles of goodbye.  Promises are made to keep in touch or see you soon at the BEA (Book Expo America) or RWA (Romance Writers of America). 

But there still is this last day of workshops billed as Psychic Sunday.  They tell how to "use ancient wisdom and philosophy, psychic abilities to go beyond positive thinking to achieve success in all aspects of your life."  Now I love to read about all this stuff, but I don't think I, personally, have a psychic bone in my body.  More power to those that do.  I'm sure it's a mixed blessing.  Then on to Intro to Reading Tarot Cards.  Once again, fine for everyone else.  I really don't want to know what's coming up for me, I like to be surprised.  Although, they did offer readings throughout RT and the tables were always full.  I hope everyone got to hear happy things.

The conference closes with a farewell party by New Concepts Publishing.  A much smaller group left, but they made up for it with enthusiasm.

As I mail home my heavy box of books and smash all the great giveaways into my suitcase, I wanted to give honorable mention to some of my favorites.  Handheld fan from Samantha Sommersby with the cover of her Turning up the Heat book (I plan to give it to my sister who's hot flashes are legendary), stunning hairclips from Lila Dubois (Forbidden), a decadant, Red Fire Chocolate bar that uses chili peppers (think Chocolat) from Christina Skye (Code Name:  Bikini).  She also gave me directions on the proper way to eat it…yummm.  And the most original to Gemma Halliday  (Killer in High Heels).  Stapled to her card was a $1 off coupon for Depends.  Obviously, you need to wear one while reading her book.  (I'll let you know)

I do want to thank the Romantic Times staff for treating me so well and Pat Simmons in particular who checked up on me often.  

Then to the authors, publishers and readers that I had the great pleasure to meet and laugh with…thank you all for the great memories and I hope I get to see you soon at RWA.

Bottom line:   Mix avid readers with creative authors, toss about for 5 days and get memories to last a lifetime.

A Fair Day

Barbara Vey -- April 28th, 2007

Had breakfast this morning with Sasha Lord, Jana DeLeon and Jo Carlisle.  Jana was sporting snappy looking bead necklaces with alligators dangling.  The cool part is that the alligator's mouth is a bottle opener.  (Ok, so it doesn't take much to excite me but now I have my very own) 

The big event today is the Book Fair which is also open to the public.  Talk about a crush of people.  Thankfully, the authors were set up in alphabetical order, so fans looking for specific favorites could at least head in the right direction.  What a rush for readers of any kind!  Overheard:  "OMG, it's really you!"  "I have all your books!"  "How could you kill off Jack??"  "Please write faster!!"  There were tons of bookmarks and other doodads given away, but I need to give special props to Rona Sharon who gave away little beauty bags with dead sea bath crystals and body lotions.  Now you may think, so what?  Big deal.  But she put a sticker of her book cover on the products with, in my opinion, the hottest cover model out there.  It looked so real that I thought the product was sold that way.  So, thanks Rona, I will be squeezing the lotion out of this with pleasure. 

Lunch with Sandy Blair was a hoot.  She's a vivacious red head with lots of great stories.  Highlander books rock!!  (Once again, interviews will follow at a later date) 

Now a tough assignment.  Cover the Mr. Romance Contest.  The winner will featured on the cover of a Dorchester book.  Lots of skin, hootin' and hollerin' but then I settled down to watch the show.  Each guy acted out a character in one of the selected books.  A cowboy, an Indian warrior, a Special Forces guy, a kung fu kind of guy, a Highlander and Robin Hood.  And the winner is Jason! 

Dorchester hosted a party for booksellers and librarians.  Lots of picture taking and gushing over authors.  These booksellers and librarians know their stuff.  Then, to promote the new Immortal series, is yet another themed party.  Liz Maverick came dressed as a character from her book and Marianne Mancusi looked exactly like her book cover, including the sword.  (Check back on Tuesday when I get home I'll download the picture.)  They gave away books, which at first was done orderly, but when they announced you could have as many as you wanted, it was a free for all.  Needless to say, the readers left very happy.

Bottom line:  Saying "free books!" to a bunch of avid readers is like yelling "Fire!" in a movie theater.

 

                                      
Liz as one of her characters                          Marianne as the cover character

Wild West Vampires

Barbara Vey -- April 27th, 2007

Is it morning already?  First up, Cinnamon Bun morning mixer hosted by Mary Janice Davidson, Michele Bardsley and Jackie Kessler.  I think I gained 5 pounds from the aroma alone. 

Next, Urban Fantasy seminar.  The panel consisted of Jim Butcher, Jennifer Armintrout, Keri Arthur, Charlaine Harris, Marjorie Liu, Vicki Pettersson, Jeri Smith-Ready and Miriam Kriss.  Of course, being the crack, cub reporter that I am, I ask just what the heck is "urban fantasy?"  I liked Jim's answer, "contemporary fantasy."  Now that I can wrap my head around.  The other definitions were gritty, not necessarily happily ever after (and we all know how I feel about that), and edgy.  With all the wit and humor from this group, it's no wonder we all love their books.

Time for the RT Awards Luncheon who's winners are picked by RT reviewers.  The list is too long to list here, but I'll put up a link as soon as RT posts it.  Congrats to all the winners (and the losers too, because I liked all the books).

Interviewed Marjorie Liu, Anne Elizabeth, Susan Kearney, Sharon Sala and Charlaine Harris.  What a group of smart, funny, sweet women.  They're all invited over to my place so we can talk some more.

Ran over to a Bookseller's Party hosted by Kate Douglas, Anne Elizabeth, Angela Knight, Jade Lee, Sunny, Shiloh Walker, and Diane Whiteside.  (Yes, I was invited)  Met sexy, Dakota Cassidy who always makes me laugh.  This group of erotic ladies…I mean erotic writers, have a more intense way of looking at romance.  Not for everyone, but I think you should try it…you may like it.  Live a little on the wild side.

Champagne and chocolate evening mixer was hosted by Robin Schone and Renee Bernard.  Needless to say, this drew a happy crowd.

The crowning event is the Vampires of the Wild, Wild West dinner and dance hosted by Heather Graham.  Heather not only feeds the masses, she entertains them with a musical that features cowboy vampire (we are in Houston, after all).  And I can tell you it was absolutely wonderful.  Heather utilizes her whole family and friends in this western that has the werewolf males trying to get along with female vampires.  Great job Heather!

Bottom line:  If a vampire bites a werewolf, does she end up with hair between her teeth?

  
Heather Graham as Belle       

        Patricia Rouse, Sharon Sala and Sasha Lord

It’s only Thursday?

Barbara Vey -- April 26th, 2007

Day 2:  Another full day scheduled, so I needed an early start.  This place starts hopping early.  There's Trouble in the West morning mixer hosted by Christina Skye and Bobbi Smith.  Unfortunately, I don't get that far.  I met Chris Keeslar, senior editor of Dorchester Publishing and he made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  No not that, but a mocha cappuccino was a close second.  Then it was interview time with Bobbi Smith (Miracles), Robin T. Popp (Tempted in the Night), Diane Whiteside (Bond of Blood), Jana DeLeon (Rumble on the Bayou), Jim Butcher (White Night), Shannon Butcher (No Regrets) and Christina Skye (Code Name: Blondie).  After talking with these talented writers, I wanted to go back to my room and read all the new stuff they gave me.  Really, I have the shakes knowing I don't have time to read until the plane ride home and even then, what to read first?  I hate this kind of decision.  Of course, I know Jade Lee would tell me to read her latest first…so I will.  (I'm so easy)

Brenda Joyce, Sony and eHarlequin hosted a lovely luncheon.  There was a demonstration of the Sony e-reader and Harlequin explained their e-books program.  One cool thing was that you could buy certain author's books in bundles for a discount.  They also offer out of print books.

Finally got out of the hotel and into the fresh Houston air at 6 p.m. with the temperature 69 degrees.  Absolutely heavenly.  We walked to Jimmy's for a Coney Island hotdog and I'm more than a little concerned about the shade of green used for the relish (think shamrocks).  Then to Silhouette's Nocturne evening mixer for dessert.  Dipping chocolate with marshmallows, cookies and fruit.  Yummmm.

Next up is the Faery Ball.  An amazing dinner, great 70s dancing music and faeries with wings.  No, really.    The costumes were gorgeous with flowing materials, feathers, tieras, and lots of cleavage.   Met up with Kelsey Lewis and Chris Grover who write e-books and a special thanks to Judi McCoy who was kind enough to let me use her room phone when I locked myself out of my room.  (It wasn't my fault)

At midnight the party moves to an oasis for mimosas and decadent Kaulua served in chocolate tulip cups hosted by Helen Rosburg.  The only thing missing was Rudolph Valentino as the Sheik.

Bottom line:  Obviously, at this party, there is no such thing as too many feathers or too much cleavage.

                                                          Romance Divas     
         
                     Faery Queen Joyce from Ohio

What do you mean we’re flying into a tornado?

Barbara Vey -- April 25th, 2007

These are not the words you want to hear thousands of feet in the air.  Left rainy Milwaukee at 5:30 a.m. and didn't land in Houston until 10.  Due to bad weather, we were routed almost to Dallas because we were running out of gas!  (Do you think airplanes have that little light that comes on your dashboard and dings when you're running low?)  Luckily, we managed to land only 1 1/2 hours late, but I missed connecting with fellow conventioneers. 

I got to the hotel and met up with Marjorie Liu (Shadow Touch) for lunch.  Then off for interviews with Jade Lee (Cornered Tiger), Doreen Orsini (Hunting Diana), Linnea Sinclair (Games of Command), Ramona Richards (A Murder Among Friends) and Heather Graham (The Dead Room).  Terrific authors and delightful women each have special stories to tell.  These interviews will follow at a later date.

Finally get to my room at 4 p.m. to fire up the computer.  What??  No internet connection!!  #@%  Move to the 23rd floor.  You have to understand that the hotel lobby is open to the top, so there is just a half wall between you and a free fall.  Parachutes are not provided.  Flopped on my bed and passed out.

Hour and a half later I head to the restaurant and am invited to join Marjorie, Jade, Elizabeth Hoyt (The Leopard Prince), Jennifer Ashley (Immortals: The Calling) and Gennita Low (Virtually Hers) with a stop by from Liz Maverick (Shards of Crimson).  Yummy food and stimulating conversation.  Time now for the Tex-Mex party with boot stomping music and cowboy hats.  Alas, not many cowboys at this gathering. 

The evening ends with Ellora's Cave publishing hosting a Moulin Rouge party.  Many are sporting sequined dresses, bustiers and feathers, even a few men in kilts.  (Sorry, pictures of me in feathers are not available)  With the music thumping, drinks flowing and bodies swaying, I'm calling it a night.  But I'm stopped on my way out by Joyce, a library clerk from Ohio who recognized me from my blog picture.  OMG!!!  What's next, the tabloids??  Turns out that Joyce is just as fanatic about books as I am.  We talk for the next couple of hours.

2 a.m….lights out.

Bottom line:  So many to talk to…so little time

Off to see the Wizard

Barbara Vey -- April 24th, 2007

Well, not quite the wizard, but the wizard maker, Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files, now on the SciFi Channel.  He's one of the 250 authors who will be attending the RT Convention in Houston.  I'm leaving at 5:30 a.m. (yikes!!  Who booked that time??) and will be blogging my adventure.  And from talking to prior attendees, it is the mother of adventures.

There will be morning mixers that are hosted by various authors and publishers, over 125 workshops for authors, readers and booksellers and then in the evening things really heat up with themed events that include vampire and fairy costume balls and dance parties.  Saturday will be a giant book fair with over 300 authors signing their books.  Of course, I'm also told one not to miss event is the Mr. Romance Competition where 10 hopefuls compete for the title.  (I do have extra batteries for my camera, so stayed tuned for pictures)

I also plan to pick up lots of books that I hope to give away to some of you lucky faithful blog readers. 

Bottom line:  This convention looks to be hot, hot, hot.  (The weather…I'm talking about the weather)

National Library Week

Barbara Vey -- April 19th, 2007

Did you know that April 15-21 is National Library Week?  Well, I didn't, but thanks again, Stephen Colbert came through.  I get all my news from Stephen and Jon Stewart.

When I was a kid, I would rather spend my time at the library than doing almost anything else.  I would find an author I liked and read every single book they wrote.  The first book I ever checked out was Clarence the TV Dog.  I remember thinking how hilarious it was. 

I admit that I am a library junkie.  As they will tell you at the South Milwaukee Library, I am there almost daily.  Although I order my books online and can just pick them up, I still like to browse the aisles.  There is nothing better than the smell of books.  Of course, libraries now have so much more than books.  DVDs, audiobooks, computers, e-books, games, programs and wine tasting to name a few.

So, stop in and say thanks to the people who help keep the USA literate.

Bottom line:  Librarians Rock!!

The Leopard Prince

Barbara Vey -- April 16th, 2007

I love a good historical romance.  The gowns, the balls, London, snooty people.  Well, Elizabeth Hoyt's The Leopard Prince, doesn't have any of this (except some snooty people).  The story moves to the countryside where wealthy Lady Georgina Maitland owns her own estate thanks to an inheritance.  At 28 she's spinster material, but fine with being unmarried.  Enter hunky Harry Pye, the steward running her estate.  Lady Georgina is up for a hot liaison, but Harry is leary due to his past history with aristocrats.

There's poisoned sheep, murder and angry villagers.  Add into the mixture Hoyt's signature story in a story.  As she did in The Raven Prince, a fairy tale unfolds throughout the main story.  This makes it so enchanting, as do the characters.

A very enjoyable book that makes me look forward to the upcoming The Serpent Prince.

Bottom line:  Princes can come in all shapes and forms.

"You just have to read this book…"

Barbara Vey -- April 13th, 2007

I received a call from my 24 year old son, Andrew,  yesterday.  He was visiting with a friend in St. Louis and while at a book store, the friend insisted he buy World War Z:  An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks.  Of course my first question was, "Does it have any words?"  His response,  "There aren't even any pictures."   This is a standing joke as Andrew (an artist) insists the best books are graphic novels (the total sum of his book collection).  He is forever trying to get me to read them.  I'm holding out for Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunters in a graphic novel.   (Please, please, please….sigh)

Just before this conversation, I was having coffee with a friend who was lamenting the fact that people kept insisting she read books that she had no interest in.  She tended to get the book and read it, even though it's torture for her.  There was no way she would hurt anyone's feelings.  She wanted to know how I handled this situation. 

I run into this all the time because I tend to hang out in libraries and book stores along with the fact that most of my conversations with my friends are about books.  Just because I would rather read than do anything else (especially cooking, cleaning, shopping), does not mean I like to read everything.  They just looooved the book and now you just haaave to read it.  (Of course, I may have said this once or twice, but the book I was talking about was really good)

So how do we handle the well-intentioned friend who insists you read the Divorcee's Handbook after you just served the jerk with papers or the sweetheart who tells you how great you look and then hands you a copy of Dr. Phil's weight loss book or the questionable friend who's thrilled about how happy you are and lends you her copy of Oprah's latest depressing selection. 

My solution is to:

1.  Say thanks (sincerely) and write down the title/author.  Don't take the book, you probably won't read it anyway and they will eventually want it back. 

2.  Talk about their book and see if you can find some common ground and maybe pick a book you'll both enjoy.

3.  Offer them a book you love that you know they'll hate and then you'll be even.

4.  Just read the darn thing…who knows, you may like it.

Bottom line:  Be thankful you have friends

                    

What’s in a Name?

Barbara Vey -- April 10th, 2007

Like many people, there are certain authors that I absolutely adore, while others I could easily live without.  What I find extremely facinating is when these authors are the same person.

I just finished Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb.  This series that follows homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her megabillionaire husband, Roarke, takes place in New York City in the year 2059.  Murder is still a problem, but Dallas and her crack team deftly solve every mystery with very human characters.  Interestingly, J.D. Robb also writes under the name Nora Roberts.  I've never been a big Roberts fan, since the stories seem to be the same old, same old.  Just change the names and hair color and insert in the plot.  Can this possibly be the same author??                                                                                                                                      

Amanda Quick is another favorite.  Her historical romances with a pyschic twist are engaging and addictive.  Meanwhile, her alias, Jayne Ann Krentz embraces the contemporary romantic thriller.  And while Krentz's books are an all right read, I crave the Quick stories.  They are especially enjoyable in the audio format (something about that British accent).  Of course, Krentz pulled a fast one by taking her Arcane Society from the Quick books and infusing them in her latest, White Lies.  Nicely done, Jayne.  You really hooked me.

The good news is that the different names lets you know what you're getting.  No guess work.  When there is a certain expectation from an author, changing the format can sometimes lead to dissent.  Case in point is Linda Howard's Killing Time with its time travel element.  It caught some of her faithful off guard and they weren't happy about it (personally I liked it).  Maybe a name change would have helped.

Bottom line:  No matter the name you pick….just write a good book, please.