Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Utimate Interview

Barbara Vey -- July 31st, 2007

So, yesterday the gals at The Writing Playground asked me to Guest Blog.  I was extremely honored since they run a quality site there helping writers who are going solo. 

The way it works is, I wrote the initial blog and readers could post questions and comments throughout the day.  The site was really hopping and they kept me quite busy.  It was so much fun and the questions were terrific.  One in particular was really tough for me to answer and I thought I’d share it with you.

Kathy asked:  Barbara, I’ve been wondering all day, if you could interview any author throughout time, which author would you choose and why?

My answer:  Wow, that’s tough. Oscar Wilde because of his great dialog. Wm Shakespeare to ask if he really wrote it all. And finally, the great Erma Bombeck. She was hilarious and I bet she would have been a great interview.

Some Bombeck quotes:

"The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again."

"In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn’t danced on TV."

"When humor goes, there goes civilization."

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me."

Now I’d like to ask you, if you could interview/meet any author throughout time, who would you choose and why? 

Bottom Line:  A final word of advice from the amazing Erma:  "Never accept a drink from a urologist."

Your Turn 8

Barbara Vey -- July 27th, 2007

Another weekend on the horizon and more books to tell you about.

No surprise, my first read this week was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.  No spoilers here.  This book exceeded all my expectations.  Great story, terrific characters and how she managed to pull all the past 6 books together is nothing short of amazing.  Everything comes together and is explained.  (The X-Files and Twin Peaks could have learned a lot from this author)  So, if you think this is just some kid’s book, think again.  The best part was having my daughter in law call me saying, "I just finished HP7 and I need to talk to someone about it!"   My hat is off to J. K. Rowling and may she have more adventures to share with us.

For a light fun read, I turned to Janet Evanovich’s Lean Mean Thirteen.  Spending time with Stephanie Plum and her entourage is great way to laze away a hot summer day (made hotter with Morelli and Ranger).  These books leave me smiling and I love that this is one series I can always talk about with my mom, sisters and nieces.  It seems we manage to bring up Stephanie at family gathers and end up laughing our tushes off at remembered incidences ("Remember when Grandma Mazur wore the hotpants and stepped on a duck?"  "Remember when Stephanie and Lula tried to catch the naked fat guy covered in vaseline?"  "Remember when Albert Kloughn got himself stuck in a clothes dryer?")  Tomorrow is a Vey family get-together, so I’m all set with my new Stephanisms.

In my car I’m listening to Breakwater by Carla Neggers.  Quinn Hallahan, formerly of the US Department of Justice, teams up with a former federal agent to stop a deadly plot.  Conspiracies always get my blood going and it’s such a fun puzzle to try to figure out.   

On my iPod I have Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson.  Goldy Bear, owner of Goldilock’s Catering, is closed up when a mourner dies after eating her funeral buffet.  It’s up to Goldy to solve the mystery.  This series is a goldmine of luscious recipes and a mystery lovers delight.

Ok, your turn.  What have your reads been for the past week?

Bottom line:
   Don’t read a book about food while trying to exercise…I think it puts on pounds psychosomatically. 



Official Kilt Inspector

Barbara Vey -- July 25th, 2007

Sandy Blair is a vivacious red headed dynamo.  You can’t help but be caught up in her energy when she’s speaking.  Sandy has an infectious laugh and is always smiling and for good reason, her Highlander books are doing extremely well.  I caught up with Sandy at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in April.

BV:  When did you start writing?

SB:  21 years ago I started my first book, but I waited until 1999 when my kids were grown and gone before I got serious.  My first book is still under my bed.  

BV:  A lot of authors have another career while waiting to be published.  What was yours?

SB:  I was a pediatric nurse, but I quit to start writing full time.

BV:  Did you have to wait long for your first sale?

SB:  No. In 2003 my second story won the Romance Writers of America’s 2003 Golden Heart Award for Best Paranormal manuscript. It subsequently sold.

BV:  Why do you write?

SB:  As I left elementary school, my parents were told that I’d be placed in remedial classes in junior high, because I couldn’t read…which was true.  I had no comprehension.  Determined to avoid that fate I taught myself to read during the summer…using Zane Gray’s Wild Fire and a dictionary. Entering high school, they wouldn’t allow me to take college prep classes, saying I wouldn’t be able to get through theirs, much less a college curriculum. I was place in the general program, the one heavy on home economics. My boyfriend had already been accepted into college and being determined to follow; I studied independently, took my SATs at the last possible moment and was accepted on those scores alone. I started writing because I needed to see my name on the spine of a book they said I couldn’t read, much less write.

BV:  Do your kids read your books?

SB:  I have twin girls and Rebecca, the English Major loves them, while Rachael said, "I’ll never look at you the same way again."  (laughs)  Alex also reads them.

BV:  What’s up next for you?

SB:  My next release, set for October 2007, is A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS, a lighthearted time-travel in which a Boston antique dealer fiddling with an old Celtic puzzle box brings forth a lusty Highlander into our world of computers, jets and Victoria’s Secret. It’s a delightful holiday romp. 

BV:  I understand you have quite the male following for your books.

SB:  15% of my readership is men.  One wrote to say he read A Man in a Kilt while in a deer blind, adding "Your husband is a lucky man." (laugh) Several years ago I received an e-mail from screenwriter Mark Westin who was kind enough to write, “You own a pen.” High praise. We met in New York a year later and he was kind enough to show me around the Screen Actors Guild and places on Broadway.

BV:  Any final thoughts?

SB:  A man in kilt, is a man and a half. (Sir Collin) (laughs)

Bottom Line:  A man in a kilt is truly a man to behold…especially in a high wind.

"Name the Blog," she said.

Barbara Vey -- July 23rd, 2007

When they asked me to write this blog on women’s fiction, I was told to come up with a name for it.  While I wanted to talk about my passion, books, I also wanted to have discussions about what it is that makes books so personal and special to us.  With the conferences, I hoped to take you behind the scenes with the authors to see another side of them.   Beyond the Book seemed like the perfect fit.  

Well, imagine my dismay when I received an e-mail from the PW home office telling me I need to change the name.  Apparently, Beyond the Book is trademarked (and here I thought I had an original idea).  So, I sent off these suggestions:

Books and Beyond     After the Book     Books and More     More than Books     Babble about Books

Books Babble            Telling Tales          Talking Tales           Beyond the Blog      Book Blog

Dishing about Books

In response, I received a message asking if I could make it say something about women’s fiction, so people would know the subject matter.

Being the team player that I am I suggested:

Menopause Manuscripts
Vagina Variety
Busty Books
The B(r)est Books Around
Menstration Memos
Nipple Notes
Pregnant Pauses

But not wanting them to think I’m a smart ass  (too late), I also included:

The Women’s Lounge
Her Bookshelf
Books, she said
Books, she wrote
Her Booklist
What’s she reading?
She said, "Book Me"
She Readings
Books for Her

None of these made the grade either.  So Dear Readers, I’m taking it to you.  Help me find a name for the blog.  I’ve got books from the RWA conference to send to the winner (blatant bribe).

Bottom Line:  A blog by any other name…

Not Immune to Pottermania

Barbara Vey -- July 21st, 2007

I’m sure I’m doing what a significant percentage of the reading population of the planet Earth is doing today, holed up in a house reading Harry Potter 7.  While I have read all the other books in the series, listened on tape (to the amazing Jim Dale) and seen all the movies, I didn’t attend the midnight parties nor order the book through the internet.  I planned to quietly go later in the day and pick one up, all the while avoiding the inevitable spoilers on TV, radio or the internet.

Of course, I had planned to go to a bookstore, but I stopped at the grocery store for a watermelon (a summer addiction) and they had 3 copies left.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  No long drive to the mall and the chance of hearing "that which should not be named."  So, with a watermelon under one arm and HP7 under the other, I deftly opened my condo door and immediately tripped over the 3 boxes of books I shipped home from RWA.  (Ok, so I didn’t unpack them yet, but I had really good intentions)

Those who have been following this blog know of my manic need for the happily ever after.  So it is with extremely mixed feelings that I undertake this endeavor.  Knowing I have all those great unboxed books to read, I guiltily open the Deathly Hallows. With watermelon juice dripping down my chin, I plunge my Muggle mind into the Wizarding World.   

Bottom Line:  Today Harry Potter is this woman’s fiction.

Your Turn 7

Barbara Vey -- July 20th, 2007

Well, we missed Friday the 13th with me doing Dallas.  But we’re back this week with your turn to tell all what you’ve been reading this week (or last).  Because of seniority, I get to go first.

This is kind of tough with so many books to choose from but I’ve got 2.  First up is Ghosts and Roses by Kelley St. John.  This is a Harlequin Blaze book and I have to admit I’ve generally skipped these because they are skinny (what a snob, hey?).  But I was pleasantly surprised.  This story is about a family of mediums that help ghosts cross over by helping them finish something.  Gage Vicknair needs to rescue Makayla from a vengeful murderer.  I started this book at the airport and finished it by the time I got home.  It really made the time fly (groan).  I will definitely be reading more of these. 

The second book is Devil May Cry by Sherrilyn Kenyon.  This continuing Dark-Hunter series features Sin, an ex-God and Katra, daughter of a godess, who is sent to kill him.  I absolutely could not put this book down.  Sherrilyn nailed this one with her tightly woven story rich with mythology and characters that made my heart ache.  Positively, this is going in my reread pile.  Devil May Cry will be out in August.

In my car I am listening to Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.  Taking place in 1929, it is the story of a nine year old girl, sold into slavery and trained as a Geisha.  I know some people loved this book, but it was too sad for me.  Now if she would have grown up to build a society that trained all the men to entertain and perform tasks for the benefit of women, I might have a different opinion of this book.

On my iPod I have A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton.  This is the first book in the Kinsey Millhone series and even though I’ve read all the books, I wanted to go back and listen it.  Kinsey is a tough private detective, hired by a woman who is out on parole from a conviction of murdering her husband, to follow a trail leading to the real killer.  A mystery that keeps you guessing.

Bottom Line:  It’s been 2 weeks, so you should have lots of books to talk about.  



Odds and Ends

Barbara Vey -- July 17th, 2007

Just a few odds and ends to wrap up the Romance Writers of America Convention.  I probably blocked this stuff from my mind on purpose, but it is slowly leaking back into my mushy brain.

On my first day I was so excited by all the cool authors I got to interview, that I grabbed a quick dinner and ran to my room to type up the blog.  About 10:30 I finished, glad to be getting to bed at a reasonable hour.  I was checking my emails before shutting down the computer and saw a message from Sherrilyn Kenyon: "Did I get confused which is the normal state for me ;) I thought we  were meeting tonight. I went down and stood right by the concierge desk from 6:20 to 8. I’m in my room now."  ACKKK!!  I did NOT just diss Sherrilyn Kenyon, my hero for writing the Dark Hunter series.  OMG!!  Should I call??  Is it too late??  No, I decide, better to crawl on my hands and knees and apologize as soon as possible.  I call her room and start with the "I sorry"s even before she can say hello.  Sherri is gracious as always and allows me to come to her room to do the interview.  I put my clothes back on (because this hotel is not ready for my nightwear) and run to her floor.  What’s this??  There is no room 881.  I run around the halls like a lunatic before returning to my 11th floor room to call her yet again.  "Sherri…am I in the twilight zone?  There is no room 881".  After several minutes, we realize there is a separate tower of rooms.  Well, I finally make it over there and we gab until 1 a.m.  I am back in her good graces because she gives me an advance reading copy of her new Dark Hunter book, Devil May Cry.  I love her.  (sniff)

The next day I managed to walk through the whole hotel with my sweater inside out.  (Someone could have told me!!)  And the following night I left my glasses at the Mexican restaurant.  (Thanks Erin for finding them for me).

Then there was the night the alarm went off after midnight.  I, of course, was blogging away and this loud screeching noise started with a man saying there was an emergency and to evacuate the building.  Well, I didn’t want to lose what work I’d done, so I was trying to save it while, once again, trying to get some decent clothes on.  I guess I needn’t have bothered with the clothes since the people across the hall came out with towels wrapped around themselves.  Yes…just towels.  I know I gawked.  The guard then came down the hall and told us it was a mistake and we could return to our rooms.  The next day I heard that Teresa Medeiros wouldn’t leave her room until she put her lipstick on in case she died, she didn’t want to be found with naked lips.  We all have priorities. :)   BTW, she has pictures up of the RWA, so check them out.

Bottom line:  Having embarrassing stories is half the fun of a convention…especially if they are about someone else.

Feeling like a Slug

Barbara Vey -- July 16th, 2007

Well, I’m finally home and have been a total slug today.  I didn’t even get out of bed until 3 p.m. and by then I had a ton of emails to read and answer.  I could tell from reading them that everyone else had as much fun as I did at the Romance Writers of America Convention.

Since I missed blogging yesterday, let me catch you up.  I started off with breakfast with Julia Quinn.  She was still glowing from her Rita win Saturday night for On the Way to the Wedding  for best long historical romance.  It is the last book in her Bridgerton series and since I read them all, I highly recommend them.

I saw Jennifer St. Giles who was breakfasting with Jacquie D’Alessandro.  Jacquie had the most beautiful white princess dress at the Rita Awards Saturday night and even though I didn’t get a picture, you can see her here.  Well, I got an introduction and managed to snag an interview before Jacquie left to catch her plane.

Back to the room to pack up 3 boxes of books.  What was I thinking??  Well, more to give away to you.  Of course, first I have to sort them into the TBR pile (which will be overflowing into my living room).  Then lots of hugs and farewells on the way to the airport.

A few other notable mentions from the conference.  While wearing a pin that said "Official Kilt Inspector" (given to me by highlander author Sandy Blair), I was confronted by a man wearing a kilt.  T.A. (Todd) Stone is a speaker who offers a Novelist’s Boot Camp.  Here’s a picture, but I passed on the inspection (even though there were some egging me on).

I also want to thank Katherine Orr (KO) for the lovely invitation to Harlequin’s Party, that I unfortunately was unable to attend.  I heard it was spectacular.  To Chris and Leah of Dorchester  for handling my teasing with such grace. To Craig for letting me into the NAL booksigning early so I could schmooze with all the authors.

Thanks to Nicole Kennedy and Katherine Addy who worked tirelessly in the Press Room.  I think they had me on speed call to keep me on track.

Special thanks to Kelley St. John, RWA board member and author extraordinaire, who took me under her wing and introduced me to tons of incredible, interesting people.  And to all members of RWA who smiled and offered words of encouragement to the newbie on the block.  See you all in San Francisco!

Bottom Line:  Even as a slug, I’ve got a grin that can’t be wiped off my face.

Me and T.A. (Todd) Stone (Man in Kilt)

Jacquie D’Alessandro, Jennifer St. Giles, Wendy Etherington 

Marjorie Liu with 2 Rita finalist flags (for Eye of Heaven and Shadow Touch)

Me and Chris Keeslar (Dorchester bigwig)  

Julia Quinn with her Rita

Red Carpet Saturday

Barbara Vey -- July 14th, 2007

It’s getting tougher and tougher to get up in the morning.  These late night blogs are getting to me, but I brave the morning light and stumble into the bathroom.  First up is a breakfast interview with Cathie Linz.  Since we couldn’t agree on the civilized time to eat, I headed down at 8.  I met up with Sandy Blair, Jo Davis, Tracy Garrett and Suzanne Welsh for breakfast.  Interestingly, the conversation centered around the different casseroles you could make from corn on the cob.  They didn’t sound half bad.

By nine Cathy was there and we had a great visit.  Cathy started the Librarian’s Day 18 years ago and has worked as the library liason for the past 14 years.  She was excited because a friend just called to tell her that her book was shown on Fox 6 news.  How cool is that?

More booksigning and more free books!  Yikes!  I left with so many books that I had to keep stopping and readjusting everything.  I also was lugging empty boxes to pack them in.  Ok, this is the pathetic part, a pregnant woman stopped to help and ending up walking me back to my room.  And she was 8 months pregnant!  I think I need to look into therapy for this book addiction when a pregnant woman feels sorry for me.

Then on to interview Lisa Kleypas who is as beautiful inside as out.  We both are Disney nuts and we talked about the inner secrets of Disneyland  (I used to work for Disney, so I know insider stuff…shhh).

I was late for the luncheon, but lucked out by snagging a seat at the front reserved table (my Friday the 13th luck was still with me).  The keynote speaker, Lisa Jackson, delighted the crowd as she pulled her "work clothes" out of a bag and put them on over her clothes.  This included a well worn nightgown and what she loving called "old dog," a hooded sweatshirt.  It was obvious the audience could identify judging by the hoots and applause.

Next up was Anne Elizabeth.  I met Anne at the RT convention in April.  She had exciting news about being a character in an upcoming Laurell K. Hamilton graphic novel.  Anne will be a villian with spikes on her shoulders.  She promised to send me the picture so I can post it.

Time to get ready for the big event of the conference, the Golden Heart Awards and the Rita Awards.  The Golden Hearts are given to writers who have not yet been published and the Rita awards go to published authors.  There are various catagories like Best First Book, Best Long Historical Romance, Best Paranormal Romance and Best Inspirational Romance.  This is truly like the Academy Awards.  Everyone gets decked out in their finest.  There’s special music, voice overs and clever short video stories about veteran authors.  It would be great if RWA could add a link to their site with these videos.  

Carly Phillips was the host. There are special presenters, the names are read, their pictures cover the large screen, the winner is announced and screams fill the air.  Many acceptance speeches are funny, but a lot tug at your heart and there are more than a few tears shed.  Linda Lael Miller received the Lifetime Achievement Award.  She says, " The joy of bringing one man and one woman together on the printed page is as fulfulling as it was when she got ‘the call’ in 1983."  I have to say I was very emotionally touched by the whole ceremony.  I had read a lot of the books nominated and don’t know if I could have picked a winner.  Congrats to all the nominees and winners!!  (Here’s the link for all the winners)

The reception afterwards was a decadent array of delectable desserts.  

Bottom Line:  Throw in Johnny Depp and this night would have been darn near perfect.

Sandy Blair, Jo Davis, Tracy Garrett, Suzanne Welsh

   Me and Daisy (PW bigwig)

Me, Lucienne Diver (agent),Chris Keeslar (editor), Marjorie Liu

Hubby Greg Ellis, Lisa Kleypas, Mel Berger (agent) 

 Caridad Ferrer  

Lori Handeland

Lucky Day

Barbara Vey -- July 13th, 2007

Friday the 13th.   I pull the covers over my head…but wait…I’m not home…I’m in Dallas…it’s ok to get up.  This is going to be a great day.  Breakfast interview with 5 terrific women who are nurturing and very supportive of each other.  They all belong to the same RWA chapter and call themselves The Writing Playground.  We had a great time and they even asked me to guest blog.  Squeee!!

Off to the press room to talk to Christina Dodd.  Her new book, Scent of Darkness, just hit #10 on the PW Bestseller List.  Congratulations Christina!!

The rest of the day was spent running from one publisher book signing to another.  The books are free and the authors are available to sign them until they’re all gone.  Oh boy, another 27 books.  And I didn’t even get to every author before they were gone.  Rats!!

Dinner was at a Mexican and sponsored by Dorchester Publishing.  Thanks Chris and Leah.  We all had a chance to mingle and chow down.  Stephanie Rowe entertained us with stories of her "accidentally" walking into a men’s bathroom.  Twice!!  Then back to the Hyatt for a cocktail party hosted by Berkley Publishing.  I got to meet J.R. Ward, author of the terrific Black Dagger Brotherhood series and was promised an advance copy of the next book.  This trip is just getting better and better.

Need to make this an early night because tomorrow is the big award ceremony.  That promises to be a late night and I don’t plan on missing a minute of it.

Bottom Line:  Friday the 13th has just become my lucky day.

Linda Lael Miller, Kat Martin………………Maggie Price, Deb Cowen

The Writing Playground - Danniele Worsham, 
Kira Sinclair, Marilyn Puett, Kim Schultz Kerr, 
Andrea Laurence 

Berkley Party…………………………Dorchester Party
Julie Ortolon, J.R. Ward, Me……………………Stephanie Rowe, Jennifer Ashley
Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer St. Giles, …………….. Leah (Dorchester Bigwig)
Christina Dodd