Monthly Archives: October 2008

Your Turn Friday

Barbara Vey -- October 31st, 2008

Boo!  Happy Halloween!  I’ve been gone all week (did you notice?).  Thanks for reading the recycled stuff. 

So, since this is Friday, it’s your turn to take over.  You know the drill.  Tell everyone what you’ve been reading lately.

Make me proud.

Bottom Line:  " I’ll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween."  ~Author Unknown  

Recycled: Do you Skim?

Barbara Vey -- October 30th, 2008

I’m not really here this week, so I’m recycling past blogs for those who may have not been there the first time around.  This one is about skimming while reading.

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.

Recycled: How do you pick a book?

Barbara Vey -- October 29th, 2008

I’m gone for the week, so here’s another blast from the past.  I always liked doing surveys.  People love to have others ask their opinion.

Time to hit the road for another scientific survey.  How important are covers?  Is the author the only way to go?  How about the summary on the back?  The blurbs by other authors/reviewers?  The title?

Everyone has their own way to pick the perfect book for themselves.  Let’s see what they’re looking for.

Sheila, 33:  I want the cover to tell a story that will make me want to know what happens next.

Hailey, 16:  By reading the back cover.  (She was buying Laurell K. Hamilton’s Seduced by Moonlight, which I personally thought she was too young to read.  Although she did look about 22)

Sharon, 62:  Anything by Nicolas Sparks.  I’m in the mood for a love story.

Patty, 43:  Usually by the author, although I really like covers with people in them.  No scenery…boring.  (She was buying Why Do Men Have Nipples? because she liked the title)

Mark, 23:  I liked the movie, so I’m buying the book.  The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum.

Pam, 35:  The cover catches my eye.  I like them bright and pretty.

Jeff, 25:  Anything that’s newer.

Amanda, 19:  I always read the back and if it sounds dark and edgy, I want it.

Suzy, 56:  I really like people on the cover who look like they have secrets…mysterious.  I hate it when they don’t look like the characters described in the book.  Long, blond curly hair instead of short, red straight hair.  Don’t the authors and covermakers talk?

Deborah, 44:  If I notice that an author I like endorses a book by someone I’ve never heard of, I’m more apt to pick it and try it.

Christine, 49:  I’m in an online book group at Catherine Anderson’s website and they always have lots of great suggestions.  But if I’m in a book store, I kind of walk around and watch what other people pick up.  Sometimes we’ll start talking and they’re always willing to share their favorites.  I’ve discovered a lot of good authors that way.

Stephanie, 18:  I’d say the cover first.  If it has just scenery, it seems like it would be boring.  I like people on the cover and usually night scenes.  They seem mysterious.

Rita, 77:  The titles, then read the back.  Since I read large print books at the library, a lot of times there are no pictures on the cover.

Rhonda, 33:  Definitely the cover.  The hotter the guy, the better and I’m partial to highlanders. (laughs)  (She was buying Surrender by Pamela Clare.  Which, btw, I read and loved)

So, once again, the opinions are all over the place, although people covers seem to have a slight edge.

Bottom line:  Now tell me true…how do you pick a book?

Recycled: Time for a Rant

Barbara Vey -- October 28th, 2008

Just a reminder that I’m gone all week, so I’m posted some of my favorite blogs of the past that you maybe didn’t catch the first time around.  This one about poorly edited books really hit home with a lot of readers. 

Time for a rant.  I just finished a book that was so embarrassingly full of spelling, grammar and story errors, that I couldn’t concentrate on the plot.  The worst was 5 mistakes in ten pages.  If I would have had my red pen handy, it would have run out of ink.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I feel this is a sad commentary on the publishing industry.  This book was by a bestselling author and it reflects not only badly on her, but on the editor and publisher.  Is anyone reading these things before they’re printed?  Or is it just run past spellcheck??  They’re, there and their all mean different things (this is where a dictionary might come in handy).  If the character’s name is Jack for the first 150 pages, don’t change it to Jake for a sentence (who the heck is Jake anyway?).  It is awkward when Sean says, "What is Sean doing now?" (unless he usually talks about himself in the third person).   When writing a historical romance, refrain from having the characters call each other "Hey, Dude" (okay, I haven’t seen that yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time).

Whew…I feel better now.  I’ll just open this next book where the prologue begins "April 31, 1999."  Wait a minute, aren’t there 30 days in April?

Bottom Line:  If there are any errors in this blog, it’s not my fault.

Recycled: Women’s Fiction

Barbara Vey -- October 27th, 2008

Hi all!  I’m going to be away from the blog for about a week, so I’ll be recycling a few past blogs to give you a chance to comment on them if you missed it the first time around.  First up is the very first blog I did for PW.  I had no clue about blogging, but I found the subject matter fascinating.

I was excited to be asked to write a blog on women’s fiction. Of course, after thinking about it, I realized that what women’s fiction meant to me isn’t necessarily what it means to anyone else. So I decided to do an impromptu survey.

I approached women in different venues (the supermarket, library, bus stop, restaurant) and asked what women’s fiction meant to them. The answers ranged from intimate issues, family and mysteries to just books written by women. And while there was no runaway winner, the main ingredient was romance. In order for a book to be women’s fiction, it had to have some element of romance (of which I agree, since I love romance).

To make it more interesting I included men, but when I mentioned women’s fiction their eyes tended to glaze over. “Women’s fiction? You mean like relationship stuff?” They were clearly not comfortable with the question. My favorite was the 18 year old high school student who said, “Books about women in the 1950’s” and she was serious. This was after I explained the definition of fiction. Her 17 year old male friend suggested women’s fiction is “a book with people kissing on the cover.” Just what is on the reading list in high schools today?

For myself, I never cared for the categorizing of books. I realize it is a necessary evil to some extent in libraries. It seemed to me that books were never conveniently one thing. Romance is too broad, romantic thriller is better and historical paranormal romantic suspense is the best. Now I know what I’m getting!!

A few years ago I met F. Paul Wilson at a Murder Mystery convention in Chicago. I was hooked on his Repairman Jack series and was shocked to learn that these books were considered horror. I told him that I don’t like to read horror books (although I did read some Stephen King in high school) and would never have started the series had I known. It makes me sad to think I would have missed out on knowing these characters. How many other terrific books had I passed by because of their labels?

Bottom line….books – good, bad or otherwise should be enjoyed for their content and connection to the reader. Keep an open mind and enjoy!!

Your Turn Friday

Barbara Vey -- October 24th, 2008

It’s not easy squeezing in quality reading time when you travel.  I’m easily distracted in the airport and tend to fall asleep on the plane.  I can’t read in moving vehicles (taxis, shuttles) because I’ll barf.  And once I reach where I’m going I’m usually too busy to read.  With this in mind, here’s what I did manage to get in this week.

The Good Liar by Laura Caldwell.  Liza introduces her divorced friend Kate to Michael thinking it will end with one date.  But the two fall for each other and marry in a few months.  Kate soon suspects Michael is keeping secrets and not the good kind.  The end result could spell disaster for them all.

This thriller travels the world with secret organizations and double identities.  The story travels back and forth in time to explain where they’ve been and why.  Interestingly, the point of view switches from third person to Kate’s point of view and back.  How do they keep all those secrets anyway?  If you’re up for a trip into the dark world of espionage, this book is for you.

Highland Captive by Hannah Howell.   Aimil Mengue is spending a day with her brother when they are abducted and held for ransom by a rival clan.  Parlan MacGuin, clan leader, is angry at his brother for his treatment of the captives when he returns home, but quickly is enamored of Aimil.  She is betrothed, but not happily.  Parlan needs to find a way to keep Aimil without starting a clan war.

I’ve always been a sucker for Highlander books.  Slap a kilted man on the cover and it’s like a magnet to me (Ok, no kilt on this cover, but I got it as an ARC and there was no picture).  Usual heavy handed male tactics, but Amil’s got a few moves of her own.  The language is old school, but once you get the cadence you’ll feel part of the action. 

Ok, now it’s your turn.  What have you been reading lately?  Please share because everyone’s looking for a good book to read.

Bottom Line:  I’m waiting for them to invent a way to read books while you sleep.

K-Con: The Final Word

Barbara Vey -- October 23rd, 2008

Had a little problem posting Monday, so here’s the blog to finish up the K-Con event from New Orleans.

Sunday morning came too soon, but luckily brunch started at 10 a.m., so everyone had time to sleep in a little after the Lords of Avalon Ball.  It was a quiet event compared to others until one of the minions received her gift box with a t-shirt in it from a rival college football team.  I thought someone saw a rat, but it was just Marie stomping on the shirt.

I had the opportunity to talk to some of the minions who crossed the big pond to attend this fanfest.

Michelle is from London, Suzi is from Belfast and Julie and Laetitia are from Paris.  Julie doesn’t speak English, but does understand it "a little."  Why would they come all this way to see Sherrilyn Kenyon?  Why one author and not a convention that features many?  Watch their Drive By Videos™.   Of course, I just loved listening to them talk.  What is it about foreign accents that’s so charming anyway?  (By the way, Laetitia writes a personal blog called, "I Love Romance, So What."  Apparently, the French are anti-romance novels…who knew.  But you can read Laetitia’s blog here, she does it in English.)

By Monday morning, some had gone, some were leaving and a few of the lucky ones where moving to hotels in the French Quarter.  But the most common topic was coming back next year.  Since K-Con sold out in less than 5 minutes this year, I’d say to practice their fastest typing skills.

Bottom Line:  It was sad leaving New Orleans and the beignets, but the snug pants told me it was time to go.

WW Ladies Book Club

Barbara Vey -- October 22nd, 2008

Bone YardAll right, enough is enough!  I heard Christmas music on the radio this morning.  I love it, but not yet.  Our Christmas book blurbs will be coming up soon, but until then enjoy the WW Ladies Book blurbs.

Bone Yard by Michelle Gagnon

Read by Loretta
      Kelly Jones, an FBI Special Agent, is set to work on the case of a mass grave site on the Appalachian Trail.  The investigation covers several states and police jurisdictions. Police resent her intrusion and interference into their districts.  As she delves further into the vicious murders, she comes to the conclusion that there is not only a serial killer, but also a copycat killer.   Jake Reilly, Kelly’s former cohort, shows up and tries to renew their relationship, but she continues to be too involved in her work, for the time being.  As autopsies are conducted together with other police rituals, you will be drawn into a scary story and every time you turn a page, another new set of goose bumps appears.   Michelle Gagnon’s first book should not be missed!

Servant: Acceptance by L L Foster

Read by Joysann

Avoiding Det Luther Cross, Gaby has taken to living among the ladies of the evening in a bad part of town, where she appoints herself their protector from physical abuse by pimps and johns alike. When she finds the brutalized body of one of the women in the river, her efforts to find the evil she’s felt on the streets increase until she’s vulnerable herself.

I was just as intrigued with this second book in L L Foster’s urban fantasy as I was in the first. It was exciting, suspenseful, and, being Lori Foster, you know it was romantic. I hated putting it down, even to hit the dictionary a time or three.

Red Fire by Deirdre Knight

Read by Stacey   An incident from ancient history, altered by the powers of an ancient god; some of the famous 300 Spartans turned immortal protectors by the god Ares.  Ajax Petrakos must find and protect his prophesized mate before she is pulled into a war that she is unprepared for, against enemies he thought he’d left in his past.   I’m a sucker for classical history, mythology and have read multiple accounts of the battle of Thermoplaye.  With Red Fire, Deirdre Knight manages to convincingly bring these historical figures into an alternate present I want to read more about.  I cannot wait to see what she does as the series progresses. For now, Ajax, Shay and Red Fire serve as the most amazing beginning.

Fairyville by Emma Holly

Read by Joysann

Zoe Clare is a respected medium in Fairyville AZ, a town that embraces its metaphysical aspects to make a cottage industry of fairy and ghost sightings. None of her friends doubt her abilities, especially not the man of her unrequited fantasies, her landlord Magnus Monroe. What she doesn’t know is that Magnus, bound by supernatural restraints, cannot return her interest and is as dissatisfied as she. When Zoe’s ex-lover returns to town, he adds an element to their non-relationship that really heightens the frustration level, and feelings get hotter than the temperatures in the desert around them.

"HOT" is exactly the word to describe this charming, delightful, whimsical and erotic fairy tale by Emma Holly. While I think I generally don’t tend to put "charming" and "erotic" in the same descriptive sentence, in this case, I happily do so.    

Two Rivers by T. Greenwood

Read by Jan

Harper Montgomery, a widower raising his 12 year daughter alone in fictional Two Rivers, Vermont, is still recovering from the death of his beloved Betsy, who died in childbirth, and  the memory of his part in a brutal murder years before. On a fall day, a trail derailed at the edge of Two Rivers, an event that would change his life and provide a chance to somehow make up for his past involvement in the death of a black itinerant carnival worker. A survivor, a pregnant teenager with skin "the color of blackberries" and mismatched eyes asks him for help and a place to stay. And, ’tho hesitant, he takes her in and soon after suspects her appearance in Two Rivers is not just happenstance.   Now, I’ve read a lot of GOOD books over the years (and enjoyed some much more than others), but I would rank Two Rivers right up in the top 10%. It’s been a long while since I have been this impressed with a novel. I think this book has the potential to become a ‘classic’.  Chatting with my sister, Joan, about it, she caught my enthusiasm, so packed up the book and sent it off to Lake Quivira, Kansas, for her to hopefully enjoy as much as I. Save your Christmas bookstore gift cards for this one!

Everything Forbidden by Jess Michaels

Read by Judy

Set in the English Country side, the story begins as Miranda searches for the family pet.  As she enters a clearing Miranda’s senses are awakened as she observes an erotic tryst .  Her discovery enlivens her senses and desires, far beyond her imagination.  With her curiosity hightened she returns frequently to silently abserve the world of eroticism from afar.  Knowing the reputation of her neighbor and needing to save her family financially, she embarks on a dangerous and exciting adventure – as she bargains with the rogue.
A sensually stimulating story with many subtle suprises.

Knight’s Fork by Rowena Cherry

Read by Joysann

To serve as a protector like a knight of old, ‘Rhett has lived his life under rigid vows, including chastity, until his family, friends and enemies find his unyielding attitudes unbearable. Imperial Princess Electra, Quee
n of the Volnoths, finds him appealing enough, however, that she wants him to be the sperm donor for her first child. Thrown into a compromising situation in which she could be convicted of High Treason, any arrangement they make might be the death of them.

Poor ‘Rhettt and Electra are written into the kinds Machiavelian predicaments that Rowena Cherry has made her signature.  The galaxy is the chessboard she makes her plays on, and space ships and alien beings are pieces of the game. Clever, funny, romantic and sexy, this new story in her series of royal intrigues held me fast through the end.

Bottom Line: 
I’d better hurry up and get the Halloween decorations out (for at least a couple of days), then Thanksgiving and then Christmas.  That is the correct order….right??

K-Con: Lords of Avalon

Barbara Vey -- October 19th, 2008

Kenyon’s Minions:  The Muse Crew

Saturday morning I had breakfast with aspiring author Dawn Chartier who I met at last year’s K-Con.  We ended up at my favorite eatery, Café du Monde.  On the way we passed a group of soldiers in fatigues all lined up.  Of course, I had to stop and ask what was going on and walked right into their photo shoot.  Check out the Drive By Video™ below to find out what was going on.  We tried to take a cab back, but after a couple of blocks just sitting in traffic, we got out to walk.  Turns out there was a race going on and all streets were blocked off from traffic.  I really needed to walk anyway after the beignets.

Dianna Love offered a class on Writing.  The room was full and attendee Maggie Short summed it up by saying that she wants to be a writer, she learned a lot, but really likes Dianna and just wanted to hear her talk.  After listening to some of these reader’s story ideas, I can’t wait for their books to come out.

Sherrilyn Kenyon and superfan LaToya Whatoname

Next up was the annual Q&A session with Sherrilyn Kenyon that was packed to the rafters.  Sherri talked, and like E.F. Hutton, everyone listened.  Her Minions know their stuff and asked questions about upcoming books and who was going to end up with who.  Even though lots of this stuff has been said many times over, they still hung on every word.

The luncheon was delish and the table decorations amazing with skulls and beads and pirate rings (again thanks to her Minions), but the highlight for many was the raffle.  There were over 75 prizes, so lots of winners and all the money raised was donated to the Libraries of New Orleans.  I also got to meet LaToya Whatoname who donated $1,500 to Brenda Novak’s Diabetes Auction for a ticket to this sold out event. 

Then Sherri offered a special spoiler session.  I didn’t attend because I don’t want to know what’s going to happen (I don’t even watch coming attractions for movies or on tv when they show next week’s episode).  But I heard that it was hilarious and the Minions learned secrets about the upcoming books and got insight into previous novels.  They were thrilled and that’s all that matters.

Then it was time for the Haunted New Orleans tour…Dark Hunter style.  Sherrilyn added all the sites  that are parts of her books so everyone could have an actual visual of all the places they have visited in their imaginations.  The Sanctuary, Nick’s apartment, Acheron’s loft,Tabitha’s shop and other locations where the action took place.  And Ash was even waiting for them at the bar in Pirate’s Alley where the tour ended.

The highlight of the evening was the Lords of Avalon Ball.  These people take their characters seriously judging by the detail of their costumes.  There were Lords, Ladies, highlanders in kilts and wenches.  Warchild played, there was dancing and merriment and a good time was had by all.

Bottom Line:  Travel tips from The Babs:  If you dress in camoflage, you can probably slip into a military photo shoot without too much trouble.

K-Con: Dungeons and Dark Hunters

Barbara Vey -- October 18th, 2008
Nim, Acheron, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Fury and Nick.

Another gorgeous day here in the Big Easy.  Friday morning I got to tag along with Sherrilyn Kenyon and her business manager, Tina Trevaskis while they checked out a hotel for next year’s K-Con.  It was extremely elegant, right in the middle of the French Quarter and very busy.  We got to see the "special amenities" which are on the 7th floor, but right in the middle of the tour, the fire alarm went off and we had to take the stairs and avoid the elevators.  Apparently, no one told the staff, since they were waiting for the elevators.  I was behind two 90 year olds who asked at every floor, "Is this the lobby yet?"  Thank goodness it wasn’t a real fire, but apparently someone was smoking where they shouldn’t have been.  But the rumor around the minions is that there’s a haunted hotel in the running for next year’s venue.  Personally, I think this is wishful thinking. 

Registration was so efficient with over 70 volunteers (apparently almost all the attendees offered to volunteer and with only 170 here, that’s real loyalty).  Another book signing (there was also one last night) and some brought almost their entire collections. 

Out in the hallway, one enterprising minion (as they like to be called) set up a Monopoly like board (6′x6′) with all things Dark Hunter on it.  Players threw big dice and walked their way around the board buying up properties and landing on places like the Sanctuary from the books.  Another minion made up a scavenger hunt kind of game where players got lists of things to do like get pictures of:   Cafe du Monde, Pirate’s Alley, Jackson Brewery, menu of Brennan’s, pasties on a statue, and Sherrilyn Kenyon before 8 a.m. (which is like taking your life in your own hands).

The big event of the evening was the Dark Hunter party at the Dungeon which is a very unique place that is only open to the public from midnight to 6 a.m., but was made available for the costume party.  One of the most anticipated parts is the appearance of the characters from the books and if you’ve read any of the series you’d understand the excitement. 

Well, Acheron must have had a mishap before arriving, so being the mom I am, (even though he’s 11,000 years old and is fully capable of dressing himself) I felt he needed my guidance.  Now, anyone who knows me, knows that shopping tops my list of things I hate to do, but I did sacrifice myself for this task.  We went to a specialty place called Wicked Orleans and I found myself surrounded by more black clothing than I thought possible, but Ash was very accepting while I tossed clothes at him to try on.  But I even surprised myself when he modeled the outfit and I told him he needed a tighter shirt (my sons would be appalled).  So check out the picture and see if I have a future as a personal shopper.

Baby Simi

The Dungeon consisted of lots of small bars with lots of nooks and crannies.  It was so atmospheric and bathrooms were hidden behind bookcases and wall panels (one note to the wise, hold it if you can, because this was the most disgusting bathroom I have ever been in.  I wanted to wash my hands after I washed my hands.  It was smaller than a closet with a toilet, urinal and stained sink and no lock on the door!).  But the party-goers were oblivious as they danced, laughed and sang along.  With all the camera flashes going off, it was like the paparazzi was invited, especially when all the Dark Hunters arrived.

Going back to the hotel, I was marveling once again at the amount of people on the streets.  New Orleans truly comes to life after dark.

Bottom Line:  Travel Tip from The Babs:  Practice holding your breath for long lengths of time in preparation for possible encounters with disgusting toilets.