Monthly Archives: August 2007

Your Turn 12

Barbara Vey -- August 31st, 2007

First of all, did you notice that it is official?  Yes, the blog officially has it’s new name…Beyond Her Book.  I like it.  It’s catchy, it has a good beat and you can dance to it (sorry, flashbacks of American Bandstand because I’m listening to Louis, Louis by The Kingsmen…look it up on Wikipedia if you’re too young to get it).  I’ve been  manually correcting my business cards all night and I’ve got writer’s cramp.  Have you noticed a pattern here?  Whine, whine, whine when I should have been thinking wine, wine, wine.

But the good news is that it’s Friday and time for me to unload my book of the week.  The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason is the first in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles series that takes place in 19th century London and Victoria is about to make her debut.  Phillip, the Marquess of Rockley turns out to be a friend from her youth and the matchmaking begins.  But judging from the hidden stake on the book cover, there is a little more to this story.  It was fun to read of Victoria decorating her stakes to match her ball gowns and the interesting ways she disguises them.  The mythology behind the legacy is intriging and there is a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, so after you read it, let me know what you think.

In the car I’m listening to Ghost Hunter by Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz), a paranormal tale that matches up Guild Boss and extraordinary ghost hunter Cooper Boone with botanist Elly St. Clair.  When Elly’s friend disappears in the catacombs beneath the city, Cooper helps her battle the deadly energy ghosts that have take up residence there.  My favorite part is  Elly’s loyal pet dust bunny (I have lots of these pets in my house, but I question their loyalty).

On my iPod I have 24 Hours by Greg Iles.  A family with a 5 year old daughter is terrorized by a psycho and his crazy band of followers.  This was made into a movie with Kevin Bacon (who I love), but read the book instead.  Greg’s books always cause me to have heart palps and are extremely hard to put down, so start them when you have time to read a good chunk, oh and avoid caffeine, you won’t need it. 

So, there’s my take on the week.  What have you been reading?

Bottom line:  Next week I’m reading light and fluffy…just like my dust bunnies.

Another Sad Anniversary

Barbara Vey -- August 30th, 2007

It’s been 10 years since Princess Diana died in the horrific accident that I partially blame on the world’s obsession with the rich and famous. And while I did like her (our sons were born at the same time), I can’t say I ever bought a magazine or paper because her picture was on the cover or an article inside (ok, maybe I browsed through them at the supermarket check out counter). But don’t you feel that enough is enough?

I have seen West Side Story more times than I’ve shaved my legs, but when it gets to the end of the movie, I always hold out hope that maybe this time it will end differently. Tony won’t die. The Bible under his coat will have stopped the bullet, he’ll get bitten by a vampire and become immortal, Marty will come back from the future and save him…anything so he won’t die. But, at the end, he still dies and Maria will forever mourn for him.

This is the way I see what is happening with the Princess Diana saga. The media plays the final scene over and over again and everyone wants the ending to change. We want our happily ever after and if a princess can’t have it, then is it in the cards for any of us?

Is this why we cling to our precious books that give us what we crave and doesn’t seem attainable in our real lives? There obviously is a reason that romance sells. And nothing is better than finding that perfect book that will give us a happiness fix no matter how many times we read it. So, the next time you hear someone mention Princess Diana, I want you to say, "Hey, I’ve got a great book for you to read."

Bottom Line: Watch West Side Story, but turn it off it at the scene when Tony is in Maria’s bed and know that they live happily ever after.

Are You a Skimmer?

Barbara Vey -- August 29th, 2007

Do you skim?  Liz Kreger asked me that question recently at the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America meeting.  Not being familiar with a lot of publishing terminology (I’m still fairly new to all of this), my mind immediately went to skim milk (well, we were standing next to the food table and my thoughts seem to automatically get drawn to food).  "No," she patiently explained, "do you skim through the love scenes in books to get back to the action of the story?"  Laughingly I told her that to me the sex scenes are the action parts of the books.

According to Liz, a lot of readers, including herself, just skim over some of the "getting to know you better" parts to get to the meat of the story.  Liz sometimes feels blogged down by page after page of relentless hot and heavy sex and while she enjoys great description, there is a point to move on.

Now, I do agree to some extent with Liz.  I try to read a variety of books to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s out there and there have been times when I felt that someone just said, "It’s page 53, quick, get a sex scene in there."  But I still read it. 

I know I’m a freak when it comes to the written word.  I’m afraid to skip over anything because I might miss something.  Although I do admit that technobabble is a whole nother ball game.  When Tom Clancy starts rambling about all the makings of a submarine or the engines that drive it, I do find my mind wandering and my eyes glazing over. 

So, are you a skimmer?  Anything you want to tell us about?

Bottom Line:  I’ll have a chocolate covered donut with sprinkles and a decaf coffee…hold the skim.

Road Trip

Barbara Vey -- August 27th, 2007

Today I’m heading down to the Chicago area to meet Jennnifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.  It’s no secret that Jennifer Crusie wrote one of my favorite books, Bet Me.  I even wrote a blog about it, so this is no hardship for me (although the thought of driving anywhere near Chicago gives me heart palpitations).

To be fair to Bob Mayer, I picked up Bodyguard of Lies written under his pseudonym, Robert Doherty.  I mean, really, I could probably spend a couple of hours gushing over Jenny’s books ( I own them all, personally know the characters, their pets and favorite foods…a Jenny trademark), but I didn’t want Bob to feel left out (of course I’ll need notecards because I only had time to read it once).

Bodyguard of Lies is the story of two women who meet because of the men they’ve been involved with.  It’s a political thriller, and I wanted to see how Bob dealt with women in this situation.  Think Bourne Identity with women as the good guys and no memory loss.  Although, they might as well have had memory loss since the men in their lives sure didn’t share a lot of information under the guise of protecting them (jerks!).  This book is action packed and it’s fun to read about strong, intelligent women kicking some major butt.

Agnes and the Hitman
is the second book for the Crusie/Mayer team.  Agnes is a Cranky Agnes, a food columist with real life anger issues and a dog that everyone wants to kidnap.   Shane is a hitman (in a good way) who’s uncle has asked him to keep an eye on Agnes.  Throw in a mob wedding, live flamingos, a bomb shelter and more dysfunctional characters than you can shake a stick at and you’ve got all the makings for a put your feet up and enjoy the ride kind of book.

Well, I’m off.  Protein bar, check…water, check…watermelon, check (apples get to be boring)…notebook and pen, check, check…and lots of deposit slips…just in case.

Bottom line:   Worried about my Milwaukee Brewer bumper sticker in enemy territory.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

Barbara Vey -- August 23rd, 2007

Well, you could if you were anywhere near Walden Books at Southridge Mall in Milwaukee Tuesday night.  The tiny bookstore was overflowing when over 130 faithful fans showed up to hear Debbie Macomber speak and sign her new book Knit Together:  Discover God’s Pattern For Your Life.  

And speak she did, from the heart.  Debbie told the awestruck audience that her friend gave her the idea for the book.  When Debbie complained that she didn’t have time to write this particular nonfiction book (she already produces 3 fiction books a year), her friend said, "Write up the speeches you give now and all the stories you tell."

So Debbie took her stories and speeches and divided them into chapters.  The end result is a delightful, inspiring read.   Debbie’s portion of the proceeds from this book and the pattern knitting books go to Warm Up America!, Project Linus and Guideposts Knit for Kids.

After her talk, fans patiently lined up to have her sign both new books they just purchased and special books from home.  Denise, a children’s librarian, clutching a copy of The Shop on Blossom Street, said she went on an Author’s at Sea cruise and met Debbie, but never got the book signed at the time.  Denise was thrilled with the opportunity to reconnect with Debbie.  "I got to knit with Debbie Macomber on the cruise.  We all put our pieces together to make blankets for her charity Warm America.  She’s a very special person."

Armed with deposit slips from my checkbook (okay, my purse strap broke before I left home and I grabbed a smaller purse, but only shoved in my wallet and essentials..gum, lipstick and camera.  Alas, no notebook.  At least I had a pen…ok, it was attached to my checkbook), anyway I strayed into the fray to ask these loyal reader why they would venture out on such an ugly night (severe thunderstorms).  

Wendy:  Debbie is my favorite author no matter which series of books of hers I read.  I love the variety.

Shelley:  Just because she’s Debbie Macomber!  Her books are fun to read and I can’t wait for the next one to come out.  (You’re in luck, Shelley, 74 Seaside Avenue is coming out next week)

Teri:  I loved every book.  I identify with the characters and it makes me feel good.

Stasi:  I came for my mom.  She loves Debbie Macomber, but she lives 4 1/2 hours away.  (I then asked Stasi if she reads Debbie’s books)  I haven’t yet, I’m not a reader, but after listening to her speak, if I was a reader, I’d read them."

Sandy and Kathy (sisters):  We are fans of her creative writing.  We fell in love with the Angel series and now share all her books.

Suzanne:  I love her.  I just started reading in January, after I had surgery, and since that time have read 20 of her books.  

Everyone wanted to talk about their reasons for being there, but I ran out of deposit slips.  Rats!!  Regardless, it was obvious this was a lovefest and the Queen was smiling brightly, while signing books, for her adoring subjects.

Bottom line:  Add to wish list:  Purse with attached notebook and pen.

Fans Karen, LInda and Debbie  
Fans Karen and Sandy with Debbie Macomber………….New RWA member Anne Parent and Debbie

Cruise buddies Denise and Debbie
(Happy 50th Birthday Denise!!)

In Their Words 2

Barbara Vey -- August 22nd, 2007

Well, the Tuesday morning WW ladies have again come through.  I took in a new batch of books yesterday and let everyone know the great response we got from the last posting.  This bolstered up everyone’s spirit.  So, lets see what we have today.

High Noon by Nora Roberts
(This book was so popular that 2 people read it in the week.)

Reviewed by Loretta

Nora Roberts’ new novel, "High Noon," provides all the emotion a reader can handle — the thrill of new love, the warmth of family, fright and fear, anger and justice, to name a few.  As usual the author gives her readers a delicious a different story within an easy read.  Every chapter brings a new twist making it hard to put down.  You will love it!

Reviewed by Jan

Nora Roberts has done it again!  She has written another enthralling story involving suspense, police work, psychology and of course, romance.  You are on the "edge of your seat" to the final page.

Wolf Tales III by Kate Douglas

Reviewed by Debra

An erotic "tail" in more ways than one.  Boy meets girl.  He-wolf meets She-Wolf  feral love and happiness.  A fantasy come true.  Would be a great way to keep warm with the winter knocking on the back door.  Motivation to start running.

You Can’t Hide by Karen Rose

Reviewed by Pam

A psychiatrist is set up to take the blame when a killer torments her patients into committing suicide.  Lots of suspense and I absolutely could not put it down.  Great mystery.


Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu

Reviewed by Robyn

Artur, who works for Dirk and Steele Detective Agency, is kidnapped and sent to a lab with psychics and people with special abilities.  Terrific paranormal tale that really moves along and builds a special bond with the characters.  Second book in the series, so I’m off to get the first, Tiger Eye.

Thanks again ladies for coming through. 

Bottom line:  You can’t hide wolf tales at high noon with a shadow touch (yeah, trying too hard {sigh})

Grandma’s True Romance

Barbara Vey -- August 20th, 2007

When I was growing up, my grandma lived next door.  A lot of times I stayed overnight with her and loved the special treatment I received (at home I was the oldest of nine…no special treatment there).  I could stay up late, watch whatever I wanted on TV (of course, there were only 4 stations to choose from and her favorite show was Gunsmoke), have great snacks (like ice cream with chocolate syrup) and read her True Romance magazines. 

Nowadays that seems pretty mild, but back then it was the height of risque reading.  All those sordid stories of women that had been wronged and the men who helped right everything.  <sigh>  Of course, I never considered why my grandma had them.  Even though she had been widowed for many years, I could never have even conceived of the idea that she might need a little romance in her life.  (And thinking back on it, she was younger than I am now…and I sure need my romance!!)

Why is this coming back to me now like a repressed memory?  Well, while I was talking with Marilyn Puett of The Writing Playground at RWA, she mentioned that she wrote stories for True Romance.  I was shocked!  I didn’t even know it was still around.  So, what a terrific surprise to find 2 copies in my mail compliments of Marilyn.  I took them to show my sisters and the first thing everyone said was, "Grandma used to read these!"  We reminisced while paging through and the moment was even more poignant because this month it has been 15 years since Grandma passed away. 

I know Grandma would have laughed at the thought of her reading women’s fiction, but that’s exactly what these stories were.  She always swore they were real and more often than not knew someone it had happened to.  Grandma never read books, but she always had her "stories." 

So, thank you to Marilyn and all the other writers who contribute to these magazines.  ‘Cause sometimes us women, who don’t have time for big books, just need a "quickie."

Bottom line:  Grandma always said day old bakery had only 1/2 the calories…we miss your words of wisdom, Gram…and you.

Saturday Sisters

Barbara Vey -- August 19th, 2007

What a thrill I had on Saturday morning.  The Wisconsin chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) asked me to be guest speaker at their monthly meeting.    Now I haven’t had the opportunity to speak in front of a group since college where I once wore Mickey Mouse ears and an Minnie T-shirt to get my point across.  Fortunately (for everyone), this time I went all natural.  (Although I was tempted to bring posters of male cover models for the audience to look at in case they started getting bored)

I talked about being a readaholic and my obsession with books.  We took a journey through my school days and first face to face meetings with real live authors (really, I’m not a stalker!).  The author cruises (come on Levy, have another one) and conventions (where’s the free bookroom??).  And I finished up with my adventures in blogland.  There was a lot of laughter and yes, I’m pretty sure it was with me, not at me.  No one fell asleep and no one yawned, so I’ll take it as a good sign.

My favorite part though, was listening to these amazing women speak.  They went around the room, introduced themselves, and told where they were in their writing journey.  And what a diverse group it was.  

Yulia Izbersky talked about her trip to the Czech Republic and showed off her new book, Preconceived Notions.  She took her family to the book store to see her books on the shelf and her father moved them to a more prominent area.  Yulia told him he couldn’t do that, but I say, as a parent, let him do it.  For a few minutes he could do something special to show how proud he was of his daughter.

Liz Kreger let everyone know about Write Attitude, a motivational place for writers.  Liz’s book Forget About Tomorrow is currently available in e-book form and coming soon as a paperback.  Edie Ramer asked me to guest blog for Magical Muses a site who’s tag line is "Five writers who believe no story is complete wtihout a little magic."

Pam Ford author of The Sister Switch was lamenting the fact that a lot of publishers won’t even look at romantic comedy.  This surprised me because I’ve read quite of bit of this genre and have enjoyed it along with many other fans.  

I haven’t heard the word dictaphone in years, but it turns out that Sandra Turriff found one and now uses it to plot her books.  Vicky Hinshaw brought in 2 of her books that just got a Portuguese printing.  It has to be exciting to see your passion translated to a different language.  Shari Anton said there is no release date yet on the third book of her trilogy, Sunset Magic.  (Come on people…I read the first two…don’t keep me waiting!!)

The moderator of this group, Jody Allen, is currently taking a class translating old Scottish text from a society that had no punctuation and didn’t believe in spelling a word the same way twice (I wonder if this is how historians will look at our society’s internet speak and text messaging).  Jody will be travelling to Scotland and surrounding areas for a month and I hope I get asked back for the travelog.

Bottom line:  Upcoming classified ad:  Speaker for hire.  Will work for food (key lime pie, yum)

Bottom:  Liz Kreger, Brenda Nelson-Davis, Liz Lincoln, Yulia Izbersky Top:  Beth Watson, Anne Parent, Jody Allen, Maureen Welli


L-R:  Shari Anton, Pam Ford, Edie Ramer, Sandra Turriff, Vicky Hinshaw, Constance Pirtle                    

L-R:  Lindsay Haedt, Ilona Fridl, Marilyn Auer, Karen Miller

Your Turn 11

Barbara Vey -- August 17th, 2007

Another Friday and the back to school shopping days are in full swing.  Some kids are already back in school.  How on earth to fit in reading time with homework, endless afterschool activities and dinner?  Back when it was a problem for me (not any longer, thank goodness), I carried a book everywhere.  I read at sport practices, doctor/dentist visits, music lessons and McDonalds (while kids were in the play area and later sitting with their friends, since sitting with Mom was so "not cool").  And more than one night, fell asleep with a book in my

I have to admit that I still fall asleep with books and still carry them everywhere.  I guess the only thing that’s changed is, with my boys grown and gone,  I can read a whole page at a time without interruption.  With all that said, here’s what I read this week, the ARC of Traceless by Debra Webb.  This book has Clint Austin being released after 10 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.  He returns to his home town to find the real killer.  Emily Wallace wants to make sure he doesn’t stay out of prison long, since she’s the one who witnessed Clint’s hands around the victims neck.  Here’s the fly in the ointment, Emily and Clint had a "thing" for each other in high school just before the murder.  This thriller keeps you guessing and you truly won’t want to put it down.  It comes out August 28th.

In the car I’m listening to Prey by Michael Crichton.  Now I’ve read this book a while ago and I’m a huge MC fan, but this was pretty complicated and trying to imagine all the nanorobots forming people was a little daunting for me.   So, I wanted another go at it by listening to the story.  It helps that I’ve already read it, so it’s been pretty enjoyable.  I think I’d like it as a movie though  because, really, nanorobots would be exceptionally cool to see.


On my iPod I have Final Target by Iris Johansen.  Dr. Jessie Delgado saved her sister, Melissa, from the grips of a horrific catatonic trauma.  Now she’s trying to do the same for Cassie Andrews the President’s daughter.  But it appears that Melissa is the one who holds the key.  Michael Gage has vowed to help the President get revenge, so he teams up with Melissa.  The suspense in this story is right where I want it.  Heart pounding, riveting and keeps you wanting more.

Ok, now it’s your turn.  What have you read for the week and did you get a whole page in without interruption?

Bottom line:  Put down that book and answer my question!!

Has it really been 30 years?

Barbara Vey -- August 16th, 2007

I am trying to come to grips with the fact that it has been 30 years since Elvis has died.  It just doesn’t seem possible.  My kids, nieces, nephews and most fast food workers weren’t even born yet when he died.   The only Elvis most have been exposed to is the bloated, bejeweled, white jumpsuited singer from Vegas with the bushy mutton chops.  How sad for them.

While growing up, my brothers, sisters and I would go to the old National Theater every Sunday afternoon for the double features.  Mom would give us each 50 cents (a quarter for the ticket and a quarter to spend on unbuttered popcorn, 10 cents and a box of lemon drops 15 cents…yummmm).  The longest lines were the days when an Elvis movie was playing.  My favorite was GI Blues.  Elvis in uniform was so cool (the term hot wasn’t used then, but would have applied).  The story took place in Germany and I wanted to be Juliet Prowse.

Next favorite was Blue Hawaii.  Elvis…on a beach…blue skies….bluer water and Rock a Hula, baby!

Lisa Marie Presley was being interviewed by Diane Sawyer in Graceland today.  They went into a vaulted room that was temperature controlled and they had to wear white gloves.  Elvis’ wallet held pictures of him and LM as a baby.  Then they showed a scarf that had a message on it written from father to daughter.  LM had never seen it before and immediately said she was taking it to have it framed.  (Yeah, the tears really started flowing then…mine, not hers).

But here’s my link to women’s fiction.   Years ago I saw a tearjerker about a young girl, dying of an incurable disease, who wrote a fan letter to Elvis.  He wrote back and they became penpals.  I think it was a book first, but I’m totally brain dead on this.  Help!!  Do you remember this movie or book??

I’m giving away a book for the correct answer…put me out of my misery (I HATE FORGETTING STUFF!!)

Bottom line:  There will always be only one King of Rock and Roll.