Monthly Archives: May 2007

See you later Alligator

Barbara Vey -- May 30th, 2007

What would you do if you found an alligator floating in your swimming pool?  So begins Jana DeLeon's fun, romantic mystery Rumble on the Bayou.  Not to worry.  The alligator, with a backpack hanging out of his mouth, is not dead…he's high from the heroin in the backpack.  After visiting with the Louisiana native, this doesn't seem to be as outrageous as it might otherwise seem.  Apparently she draws on a lot of personal experience.

BV:  Congrats on your first book.  So, did you want to write since you were a child?

JDL:  Not really.  As a kid in elementary school, I didn't think I had anything important to say.

BV:  Do you have a lot to say now?

JDL:  Right now I'm a corporate trainer.  I travel a lot so I have plenty of time to write in airports, hotels and cafes.

BV:  Well, it's obvious you love to write.

JDL:  Writing is the hardest thing I've ever done.  Especially the techniques.

BV:  Alligators really scare the begeebies out of me, but I love that the heroine in this book is totally in her element in the bayou.

JDL:  I think of it as Lara Croft in the Bayou.

BV:  What do you have coming up?

JDL:  In November is Unlucky about a statistically unlucky woman.  When she touches someone, they are then unlucky.  It's kind of autobiographical. (smile)

BV:  Any final thoughts to share?

JDL:  If I could give back to one person what I've gotten out of books all these years, then I'm successful.

Bottom line:  This summer, look before you leap into that swimming pool. 


The Anatomy of Murder

Barbara Vey -- May 28th, 2007

I just read the most disturbing story about Tom Wayne from Missouri, owner of  Prospero's Books for the past 10 years.  When he wanted to get rid of some books, he tried to give them away to libraries and thrift shops.  They refused saying they were full.  Wayne decided to protest his interpretation of "society's diminishing support for the printed word" by burning books in a giant bonfire.

Yes, I was upset by the burning books because I, for one, can't even deface a book by writing in it.  I think I was the only student in my school who's books had 2 book covers, nothing highlighted, written in the margin or doodling of any kind.  (The fact that I don't have a creative bone in my body is irrelevant)  Even now I get upset at a library book that has a dog earred page.  (Hello…bookmarks!!)  I don't even give a book away unless I know it is going to a good home.  So, to burn a book, on purpose, should be illegal. 

Tom Wayne will be having monthly "bonfires" until he murders 20,000 books.

Bottom line:  You'll recognize me by my black armband.

Things to do in an Airport

Barbara Vey -- May 22nd, 2007

Yesterday I spent the day in the airport.  Seriously.  I was visiting my son in the St. Louis area and he took me to the airport at 6 a.m.  My plane was scheduled to leave at 9:05, but when I checked in I was told they were going with a smaller airplane, so I would most likely be bumped.  I didn't really care, because there was nowhere I had to be in a hurry.  I had breakfast at Chili's.  Can someone tell me why they have to use paper coffee cups and plastic silverware (oxymoron alert!)?  It certainly doesn't add to the ambiance of the dining experience. 

But I digress.  Since the next plane wasn't scheduled to leave until 1:10 p.m., I walked the 1 1/2 mile trek from one end of the airport to the other (4 times).  Then I discovered the Bookmark bookstore.  What a find!  Lucky for me, Mary and Sheila were working.  These 2 women are smart, funny and know absolutely everything about books.  And anyone who frequents bookstores knows this isn't always the case.  They showed me the big sellers (erotica for women, Japanese graphic novels for preteens and teens and Robert Ludlum and Vince Flynn for the men).   Their favorite book…The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  Their recommendation…don't bother with The Mermaid Chair.

Well, after being bumped again from the 1:10 flight, I headed back for more insight into the bookselling business.  They had stories of people returning books because the story wasn't what they thought it would be.  I didn't know you could return books for that reason.  Isn't that like returning underwear after you've worn them because they weren't what you thought they'd be?  Ewww on both counts.

Finally I was able to board the 8 p.m. flight and was in my own bed by 10.  It was a long day, but I came away with a lot of book recommendations, great stories, 2 new friends and even a little exercise.  Life is good.

Bottom line:  I dare you to return used undies.  Ewww.

Can you hear me now?

Barbara Vey -- May 20th, 2007

My son gave me an iPod for Christmas and I absolutely love it.  Probably not for the same reasons that others enjoy it though.  I load mine with audio books.

It comes in handy when working out,  especially on my nemisis, the elliptical machine (groan).  With the iPod, I can close my eyes and let the story take me to a whole other place.  I try to time it to jump on the machine when I know a particularly exciting scene is coming up (I can do this because a lot of times I read the book first).  If it's a great sex scene, for some reason, I tend to really work up a sweat. (It looks impressive to the other gym rats and they want to know what music I listen to.  I tell them show tunes.)

Of course, I have learned to be cautious when walking outside.  One time I was listening to a very intense book about a serial killer when something quite unexpected happened in the book.  I squealed!  Yes…right out loud and naturally, there were witnesses who gave me a weird look and a wide berth.

I recently tried to listen to a book on an airplane.  Unfortunately, it was a prop plane, very loud and my ears kept popping.  Very annoying.  I finally gave up and got out my trusty paperback.

Bottom line:   Listen at your own risk

Queen of the Western Romance

Barbara Vey -- May 18th, 2007

Bobbi Smith, "Queen of the Western Romance", started her writing career at age 10 when she penned her autobiography.  Her 5th grade teacher told her she could be an author.  The road ahead had a few twists and turns. Her popular westerns have mezmerized millions but writing as Julie Marshall, her new book Miracles is an inspirational romance that has a prayer group gathering to ask for a miracle.

BV:  So, you've been writing since you were 10.

BS:  I actually went into retail and found that learning how merchandise moves and selling hardline was a valuable experience that came in handy later in life.

BV:  Ok, then you went on to writing bestsellers.

BS:  No…then I worked part-time in a bookstore and after 2 1/2 years finally finished writing a book.  I was so excited I told my friend, Margie Roth.  Instead of being as thrilled as I was, she said, "OK stupid, sell it and write another one."  This was the best advise I ever received.  (laughs)

BV:  And that started you on your successful career.

BS:  I started in 1982 and hit the NY Times Bestseller List in 2001.

BV:  Ah, an overnight success.  And how does your family feel about all of this?

BS:  I have 2 sons and 3 grandsons.  My daughter-in-law loves my books.  My husband reads magazines.

BV:  Do you have any final words you'd like to leave with the readers?

BS:  I love you very much.  Keep reading my books!  (smiles and blushes)

Bottom line:  These books are not your grandmother's Gunsmoke.



The Tattooed Lady

Barbara Vey -- May 16th, 2007

I've never been fond of anthologies.  The stories have always seemed too short to get a chance to know the characters very well.  There never seems to be enough time to get a good plot going and I always seem to come away from it wanting more.  I tend to read them if I already know the author and the short story has something to do with an ongoing series like Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunters and Christine Feehan's Carpathians.  The only good thing is that every once in a while it turns me onto a great author I would have otherwise missed.  This was how I discovered Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series.

Anyway, I picked up Wild Thing because I thought it contained Marjorie Liu's terrific Dirk and Steele characters.  It didn't.  Instead Hunter Kiss is the start of a new Urban Fantasy series with the last Demon Hunter on earth, Maxine Kiss, completely covered in tattoos that protect her during the day and peel off  to come to life at night.  She is cursed to follow her mother in death when she has her own child who will inherit the tattoos.  In the meantime, she fights the forces of evil alone until former priest Grant Cooperon comes along.  After reading this, I guarantee, you'll be eagerly awaiting the next installment which won't be out until 2008.  Thanks alot!!  It reminds me of the old radio serials that left you wanting more (not that I'm old enough to remember them). 

The other stories in the book include Animal Magnetism by Maggie Shayne, Paradise by Meljean Brook and Wild Hearts in Atlantis by Alyssa Day.

Bottom line:  Anthologies are like ice cream, sometimes a lick is enough and other times you want the whole darn gallon.


Cross your legs and Squeeze

Barbara Vey -- May 14th, 2007

I felt a kinship with Doreen Orsini (Hunting Diana) when she told me she used to read her grandmother's True Confessions magazines.  It brought back memories of sharing day old bakery and coffee with my grandma while smudging the pages of her magazine with my sugary coated fingers.  That was hot literature and to think grandma knew about that stuff.

Now Doreen writes paranormal and dark erotic contemporary that claims to "help women embrace their sexuality."

BV:  Did you have a defining moment when you decided you wanted to write?

DO:  My father always told me that I would be an author.  He was very encouraging.

BV:  I read that you consider Dracula the greatest romance of all time.  Why is that?

DO:  Dracula loved his wife so much and he saw her in Mina Murray.  He had to have her and be with her, that says romance to me.

BV:  Your books are quite erotic.  How would you feel about your kids reading them?

DO:  My son is 19 and thinks I play on the computer all day.  My 17 year old daughter isn't allowed to read my books until she is 27.  (smiles)

BV: Any special routines you follow while writing?

DO:  I love listening to music while plotting.  It's like watching a movie in my head.  Sometimes I listen to the same song over and over again.  It's very inspiring.

BV:  I've heard you have a large male readership.

DO:  Yes, I combined Science Fiction with Romance.  Two genres that hate each other (laughs).  It works for everyone.

BV:  I love your tag line.  "Doreen Orsini…cross legs and squeeze reads."  To me, that says it all.             

DO:  A reader once told me that my stories made her cross her legs and squeeze and I loved it.

Bottom line:  Exercise while reading…I'll have to try it.

Poster boy

Barbara Vey -- May 12th, 2007

Do you find this poster offensive?  


I don't.  Personally, I'd like a large one for my wall next to my computer, but then I have always been interested in reading.

I received an e-mail from a reader about an incident at the RT convention that I wasn't aware of.  The author is Laura Baumbach, who writes gay erotic romance and fiction (an RWA accepted genre) and you can read her account on her May 1st blog.  Apparently, a business man just walking through and not part of the convention was upset by this display.  He complained to the Hyatt who insisted the display be taken down.  The Hyatt's contention was that the poster was offensive, but when Laura offered to remove the poster only but leave the promo items, she was told  they would be removed again.

The issue isn't whether the material is appropriate or not, it's about the freedom to choose.  We were all adults at the convention and walking down the "freebie" aisle, I noticed people browsing and deciding what went into their bags.  Nothing was forced on anyone.  Personally, I wouldn't want anyone telling me I couldn't look at the  historical romance displays (which had great bodice ripper covers that rivaled this one and my bag was full of them), and I'm sure there were some not interested in that genre, but they didn't complain.

Bottom line:
  This incident is just too Farenheit 451 for me.

A Tiger by the Tail

Barbara Vey -- May 10th, 2007

As I walked to the Press Room on day one of the RT Convention, a woman with blunt cut black hair and Chinese style clothing bounced up to me.  "Are you Barbara?  I think I'm your 1:00."  She was Jade Lee (Cornered Tigress), author and screenwriter.  Her energy was contagious and soon I caught the buzz.  Our 1/2 hour interview extended to an hour and we would probably have talked longer if someone else hadn't been waiting.

Jade is the daughter of a Shanghai mother and American father from Indiana.  Her fascinating family history includes a royal grandmother who had her feet bound in the old Chinese tradition.  This was a hinderance during the war when her sons had to carry her to safety during the fighting.

White Tigress was the first in her sensual Tigress series that takes place in pre-revolutionary China and features Tantrics, the use of sex to raise the spirit to join with the one. 

BV:  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

JL:  When I read a book and thought, "I can do better than this."

BV:  You've also done screenwriting in addition to novels.  Which do you prefer?

JL:  I really like doing both.  They are totally different genres.

BV:  Your books are really hot.  Does your husband ever read them?

JL:  Yes, he does, but he skips the sex part.  What can I say, he’s a real introvert!   (smiles)

BV:  Is Jade Lee your real name?

JL:  I didn't use my real name because I thought the kind of books I write would embarrass my mom.  It turns out that she is my biggest supporter.  She refers all my books to her friends and I think she would be thrilled if I had used my real name.

BV:  Well, some authors are using "writing as" on their covers.

JL:  That's a thought.

BV:  What are your future plans?

JL:  I’m trying new things next year.  I have an Extreme Blaze coming out in Jan titled The Tao of Sex.  Hoaky, I know, but it’s fun too!  Then a dragon fantasy romance titled Dragonborn coming out in March.  That’s way different from my Tantric historicals.  And then a new historical series set in the regency starting in September. 

BV:  Any final thoughts?

JL:  My dad, who's a scientist, always said, "If it makes you happy, go for it."  That's my mantra.

Bottom line:  Tantrics is my new word of the day.


It’s in the Cards

Barbara Vey -- May 9th, 2007

I've talked about my feelings regarding the Tarot Card workshop at the RT Convention, but I after talking with Catherine Snodgrass I realized there may be more to it.  Here's the story from Catherine:

On Sunday, I attended the Introduction to Tarot Cards workshop given by Marilyn Campbell with my author friends Adrianna Dane and Linda McLaughlin aka Lyndi Lamont. It was a marvelous workshop. I would definitely attend a presentation by Marilyn Campbell in the future. Marilyn's presentation was great, so great that I went online and ordered the Tarot Kit she designed for The Lotus Circle (cards, scarf, and book) since I wasn't lucky enough to receive one at conference. Workshop attendees sat in their little clumps of people as they often do. At the end of the workshop, Marilyn decided to do one-card readings for the different clusters of people. She decided how the division would go and asked one person from each cluster to draw a card for the group. She decided our row was one cluster, which included (in order) Adrianna, myself (Catherine Snodgrass aka Caitlyn Willows), Linda, and another person at the end two chairs away from us. She asked Adrianna to pick the card and told her to clear her mind. Adrianna said okay. Marilyn said there was a lot in her head, to clear her mind. Adrianna said okay. Marilyn said clear her mind, to remember "it's not all about you." The three of us laughed so hard. Of all the things to say! We told Marilyn that it was me, that I'm always joking that "it's all about me". She couldn't have found a better way to get our attention. Finally Adrianna's mind was clear and she drew the Emperor card. Marilyn said it was a wonderful card to draw. That it meant our careers would explode in a very good way and that we were going to be very busy. I think, though, if she hadn't said that little phrase that was so meaningful to us, we might not have taken the reading as seriously. It was rather like a cosmic whack on the head to get our attention first. We paid attention. – Catherine Snodgrass aka Caitlyn Willows

Well, I guess if I knew I wasn't going to draw the death card, I'd feel a little better about Tarot readings too.  I'm glad Catherine had a happy ending and we'll just sit back and watch their careers explode.

Bottom line:  I'll stick with Cribbage.