Monthly Archives: August 2010

Toronto Fan Expo

Barbara Vey -- August 31st, 2010
Victory Essex, reimagined as an action figure.

Victory Essex, reimagined as an action figure.

Fan Expo Canada is is the country’s biggest, the fastest growing and one of the largest events of its kind in the World encompassing comic books, anime, science fiction, horror and gaming.  Today we have 2 intrepid cub reporters, Victoria Essex and Heather Bellingham here to share their experiences.

Victory Essex is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Toronto Romance Writers. Imperial Stormtroopers attended her wedding. And yes, Darth Vader is trimming decorative shrubbery on her T-shirt. 

Where the Fans Come Out to Play

My people.


It’s my first thought as I spot a cosplayer headed for Toronto Fan Expo 2010 on the subway. Some of the other passengers snicker at the man’s anime-style getup, but he doesn’t care what they think. Besides, if he gets harassed there are at least a half dozen other people in that car who’ll back him up. I’m one of them. You can tell us apart by the T-shirts we wear proclaiming our various fandoms.

I reach my stop and hotfoot it to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The giant convention complex, which only a few months ago hosted the G20 summit, looks like it could use a barricade or two now: the lineup snakes down the block and around the corner. It takes me seven minutes to walk to the back of the line of ticket holders, where I wait for another two hours to get into the building.

“[San Diego] Comicon is like this…times five,” a seasoned con-goer informs me with the patience of a Jedi master. The costumed Trekkies ahead of me sigh, shrug and carry on their half-hearted game of “I Spy”.


My people, I think again with a smile. This is what fans will do for the things they love.

We finally get into the con. It’s a massive playing field choked with human bodies, both costumed and not. The arena pulsates with electric verve. People jam the aisles snaking through the place. The wild kaleidoscope of color and lights whips my attention hither and thither. Where to go first? What to see? What to buy? Who to meet?

Tamoh Penikett

Tamoh Penikett

My husband and I attack the con with practiced strategy: start on the far left aisle, head for the Artists’ Alley, then go up and down each aisle.

But then I see the celebrity signing area. And Tamoh Penikett.

Be still, my heart.

Fans eager to meet Battlestar Galactica’s Helo (or Dollhouse’s Paul Ballard, if you prefer) form a long queue ahead of the star. I get close enough, but not too close, to snap a quick photo.

But I can’t bring myself to line up again…or to drag my hubby along to meet this paragon—I mean, guy who I’ve fantasized—I mean, drool over— I mean….

I walk on.

I note the other celebrities in attendance this year, and it reads like the VIP list in Nerd Heaven: legends like Stan Lee, William Shatner; Batman triple threat Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar; Leslie Nielsen, David Cronenberg, James Marsters, Ernest Borgnine… The list goes on and on.

Adam West (TV Batman)

Adam West (TV Batman)

You’d think these big names would outshine the other special guests, but this is Fan Expo: If you have a following, they’ll be here. I catch up with Nancy Kilpatrick, author and editor of Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead, talking with an enthusiastic reader. New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong has a table two seats away. And New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is gathering her own flock in another celebrity signing area.

There’s never a dull moment at the con. There are workshops with artists and voice actors, panels and Q&As, autograph sessions, photo ops, movie marathons, gaming tournaments, even anime karaoke. Then there’s the Saturday night Masquerade, where contestants show off their costume creations. It’s at once an awe-inspiring and cringeworthy display, but you have to admire the people who subject themselves to audience criticism. Not that most contestants care what you think. They look awesome and they know it.

Fan Expo has grown immensely since the expo’s inception in 1995. Exhibitors this year include heavy hitters like Hasbro, Marvel, DC, Zellers, HMV, and an enormous exhibit from Disney showcasing the new Tron: Legacy movie. Despite the increasing focus on movies, TV shows and commercial merchandising—something San Diego Comicon goers have bemoaned and blamed for the explosion in attendance over the past few years—Fan Expo remains “nerdier that San Diego [Comicon],” according to one friend.

In fact, the nerdiness of the con is one of the greatest strengths of this event: it’s all about niche fandoms, and Fan Expo continues to separate the horror, sci-fi, anime, comic book and gaming areas to accommodate attendees’ broad spectrum of interests. At a certain saturation point, it all bleeds together…but the fans, my people, don’t seem to mind.

I could go on and on about the people I met, the costumes I saw, the camaraderie I witnessed among people with like interests. But I think the pictures probably speak for themselves.

Do yourself a favour next time you’re in Toronto at the end of August: get yourself a ticket and have your mind blown. Whether you’re a Twimom, fanboy, nerd, geek or jock, Fan Expo is a spectacle you don’t want to miss.

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Fan Expo Crowd

Fan Expo Crowd

Heather Bellingham has an Advanced Diploma with Honors in Film and Television Production from the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning and is currently finishing her BA in English and Drama from the University of Toronto.  She has worked in numerous creative fields, such as theater, radio, and film. She has written for websites such as Helium.com and Demand Studios.

I have attended Fan Expo Canada every year since 2004. I’ve seen it evolve and get bigger and bigger every year, and this year was the biggest yet (so much so that they had to extend the hours of the convention).

There are numerous things to do at conventions like this, catering to a wide variety of people. Some go to shop and look for hard-to-find comics, action figures or artwork. Some people go for the gaming, and participate in role-playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons or board game tournaments such as Munchkin, Catan or even Scrabble. Others go to see and be seen – I saw some of the most well-done and creative costumes I have ever laid eyes on, and on Saturday night the wearers got a chance to show off their style at a giant Masquerade.

This year saw a heavy focus on Steampunk (in co-operation with The Steampunk Society), so there were lots of artists in Artist’s Alley catering to the genre, as well as many people dressed in the Victorian dresses and goggles of the style.

There were numerous displays, such as the original 60s Batmobile, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, Darth Vader made entirely from Lego and a huge area promoting the upcoming Tron sequel.

Heather, Amy Oduka and Felicia Day

Heather, Amy Oduka and Felicia Day

One of the highlights of any convention is the celebrity guests. As soon as I had arrived at the convention, I jumped into the line to get a signature from Summer Glau of Firefly fame. She was polite, and a lot shorter than I expected her to be.  Next came Michelle Forbes (of True Blood and Durham County, although I am a fan because of her role in Star Trek: The Next Generation), then Felicia Day and Amy Oduka of the web series The Guild and then finally for my photo op with Summer Glau. The photo opportunities are an excellent addition, as you don’t have to rely on the photography skills of the person behind you in line. I also had the wonderful opportunity to speak to Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Expo also featured guests such as Stan Lee (legendary creator of such characters as Spiderman), Adam West, Julie Newmar and Burt Ward of the original Batman series, director David Cronenberg, Peter Mayhew (also known as Chewbacca in Star Wars) and Ernest Borgnine, among many others.

Overall I enjoyed my experience at Fan Expo, which is no different from most years. Despite some long lines and longer waits immersing myself in the nerdy side of popular culture is always fun, and I intend to keep doing it year after year.

Thanks ladies for the terrific insight into the Toronto Fan Expo!

Bottom Line: I really need to get my passport.

Share a Book With a Kid Week

Barbara Vey -- August 30th, 2010
Corrupting the kids with coffee at Borders

Corrupting the kids with coffee at Borders

I had the most wonderful weekend near St. Louis visiting my grandkids.  On Saturday we were supposed to go to the movies, but I didn’t feel there was anything worth spending the $50 it would have cost to go.  So, we went to Borders instead.  It turned into an adventure.

Lydia is so easy to please and wanted anything Hannah Montana, but I talked her into a 3-D search book (glasses included).  Alex wanted the ginormous full set of Eragon books, but settled for book one.  We went through all the sections and I showed the kids how to search for books and they made me show them all the books by authors I knew (that took a while, but they were suitably impressed.

We took our purchases to the cafe and got a frozen mocha cappicinno to share with lots of whipped cream.  They never had coffee before and I felt like I was corrupting them.  But after drinking half and having the clerk add even more whipped cream, they were happy campers and and decided that coffee was not the drink of the devil.

Alex also read a YA book sent to me that he’ll be blurbing on for Wednesday and then we all read Fear together.  Fear is an anthology that is edited by R. L. Stein (Goosebumps) and has a story written by him along with about 12 other writers.  I snagged the book at Thrillerfest, so a lot of the authors signed it and now it is one of Alex’s most treasured items.  I’m all for anything that will get kids to read and being a Nana and being able to share that joy with them is priceless.

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So I’m proclaiming this Share a Book with a Kid Week.  Spend some time this week by introducing a kid to a book.  Share a memory of one, or start a new one.  There’s no other experience like it.

Bottom Line: Oh, and we also went to the Container Store (which the kids thought was a real treat and then to Maggie Moos…they said I’m the best Nana ever…awww.

Monday Giveaways

From Zoe Winters: I’m doing a week-long Amazon Book Blitz to promo my Blood Lust omnibus.  I’ll be giving away an Amazon Kindle (one definitely), and if I get into the top 25 of the overall Kindle store, I’ll be giving away a second Kindle. Details are stickied to the top of my blog here.

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From Joan Frances Turner: We were looking for a fun, creative way to get the word out about DUST and came up with video trailers that are reminiscent of those Public Service Announcements we all loved in the 80′s with a zombie twist! Check’em out here.  Leave a post in the comment section and 5 winners will be picked and sent the new book, Dust.

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From Stephanie Barko: Literary Publicist Stephanie Barko is kicking off her new web address with a daily book giveaway from August 20 through September 19. Comment to win here. (Sorry I missed getting this in last week, but go there now for some great prizes)

Your Turn Friday

Barbara Vey -- August 27th, 2010

It was just one of those weeks.  You go to sleep on Thursday night and wake up on the following Friday.  Where did those days go?  What on earth was I doing that I can’t even remember doing anything?

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t finish any books this week.  I started several because I would pick one up in every room I was in.  So, I’m currently reading Black Magic by Cherry Adair, Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta, No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dukes to the Right of Me, Princes to the Left by Kieran Kramer.  But I do plan to finish them all by next Friday.

Tomorrow I’ll be flying to St. Louis to visit the grandkids, so I’ve got airport reading time there and back.  Once they go to sleep I’ll get another couple of hours in and then again before they wake up in the morning.  I might even get one finished tonight.

Does this ever happen to you?  Do you read several books at one time?  Do you sacrifice sleep for just a few more chapters?  Or do you have to just concentrate on one book at a time?

It is Your Turn Friday, so please help me out by telling me that you managed to get a few books in this week (Not like me).  What books did you finish while I was busy doing nothing?

Bottom Line: “As busy as I claim to be, I’ve still got the greatest job in the world.” ~ Peter Criss (and Barbara Vey)

Marketing Made Easy

Barbara Vey -- August 26th, 2010
Author Linda Frank

Author Linda Frank

My simple answer is to just be friendly and interested.

I was recently contacted by an author, Linda Frank, on Facebook who said she would be in my area and would I be interested in meeting up with her. Of course, I never pass up a chance for a hazelnut cappuccino. So yesterday morning I was at The Fixx at 9 a.m. (only to realize, after checking my calendar, that the meeting was for 10 a.m.).

It’s a fascinating little local coffee house that offers comfy seating, coffee tables, a music area (they have an open mic night), art work, crafts and piles of books. Now the books were what interested me and I found that most were nonfiction. I talked to the owner who said patrons often brought in books and magazines to share. After looking around a little more, I asked if she’d be interested in putting up a shelf of romance books that people could take, circulate and maybe replenish with some of their favorites. She was thrilled with the idea. I’ll be taking some over there today.

Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I’m also going to approach her about starting a book club there. I think it would be an excellent venue. Relaxed with great food and drink ((I just noticed that they also serve wine) and no one would have to clean their house for the meeting. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

When I saw a woman thumbing through a magazine I asked her if she liked to read and she said she just joined a book club. (My kind of person!) We chatted and I introduced her to Linda Frank, who brought me her book. After explaining what I do, I offered the book to the woman to read and write about for the blog, but she insisted on buying it. It made her day to meet a real author and was thrilled to be taking this book back to her book club.

I think I had a very productive day yesterday, made several people happy and now have the chance to meet even more book lovers if I can get this book club off the ground. Wish me luck!

What are your tips?  What have you done that works well?

Bottom Line: Opportunities are everywhere, just smile and jump in.

Susanna Fraser: Wife of Reluctant Web Designer

Barbara Vey -- August 25th, 2010

Yet one more reason why you should hire professional help when you need your website designed.  (Thanks Twitter for the heads up on this one.)

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With a new book coming out, author Susanna Fraser needed a snappy new website…pronto.  Being busy promoting the book, she probably thought she could save a few bucks by having her husband whip up a site in his spare time.  The result is a funny (for us) look into the male mind of reasoning when he’s forced into doing something he really doesn’t want to do, but feels obligated to.

It starts out pretty succinctly with:

This is the website of Susanna Fraser.

Susanna Fraser is an author based in Seattle. She goaded her husband into making this website for her, even though he is busy and preoccupied. This site is a demonstration of why you never hire family to design your website for you.

She has a blog. You should read it. Here’s her e-mail address. You should spam it.

Ok, I love the part about spamming her email.  That should keep Susanna busy enough for a while so she can’t ask hubby for any other help.  He goes on to the meat of the matter.

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More importantly, she has a book coming out on August 23, 2010, called The Sergeant’s Lady.

Here is the cover:
The Sergeant's Lady cover

YOU WILL BUY HER BOOK. (Subliminal messaging??)

Why should you buy her book?

  1. It’s a good book. Really! Here’s an excerpt. Read the well-crafted writing! Doesn’t it make you long for the days of yore when strong women of courage would take their small beer in the afternoon with a Regency romance on their veranda? Because, if there’s one thing we need more than well crafted verandas nowadays, it’s well-crafted Regency romances.  (Oooh, a little more sarcasm, I like that.)
  2. It’s from the good people of Carina Press, a fine and good organization filled with editors and publishers of the highest moral fiber and yet will humor an author’s tired and overworked husband who is being pressed into building her a website at an ungodly hour of the night. (Nice job of sucking up to the powers that offer the book contracts.)
  3. If you buy enough copies, she can hire someone besides her husband to design her website.  (Great marketing selling point.)

I mean, read this cover description of this book! Does it not make you WANT to get in line NOW to BUY HER BOOK (Maybe not so subliminal anymore.)

You can read this part on her website  :)

Still not enough? Here is the author biography! Read of her great heroism and be of courage and good cheer in knowing that, like her, you can overcome great struggles and challenges, just as she overcame being a fourth grader!  (Yikes!)

Susanna Fraser wrote her first novel in fourth grade. It starred a family of talking horses who ruled a magical land. In high school she started, but never finished, a succession of tales of girls who were just like her, only with long, naturally curly and often unusually colored hair, who, perhaps because of the hair, had much greater success with boys than she ever did.  (What’s that say about hubby??)

Along the way she read her hometown library’s entire collection of Regency romance, fell in love with the works of Jane Austen, and discovered in Patrick O’Brian’s and Bernard Cornwell’s novels another side of the opening decades of the 19th century. When she started to write again as an adult, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her books. Her writing has come a long way from her youthful efforts, but she still gives her heroines great hair.  (And we all know that great hair is the basis of all lasting relationships…unfortunately.)

Susanna grew up in rural Alabama. After high school she left home for the University of Pennsylvania and has been a city girl ever since. She worked in England for a year after college, using her days off to explore history from ancient stone circles to Jane Austen’s Bath.

Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter. When not writing or reading, she goes to baseball games, sings alto in a local choir and watches cooking competition shows. Please stop by and visit her at www.susannafraser.com (well, you don’t have to go there now since you got to see the whole website here), get to know her on Facebook at and follow her on Twitter at @susannafraser. (Ok, I did go and follow her on Facebook and Twitter just so I could see what her husband is up to next.)

You got it all? OK. August 23. BUY THE BOOK. Let’s all be there!

And maybe a certain author will learn to build her own websites instead of asking her husband to do it. HI DEAR!

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Bottom Line: Clever, resourceful and adorable.  It got me to order the book for my Kindle, but for the next one, Susanna might want to go with a pro because once is cute, but twice…maybe not so much.

My Reads and Your Turn Friday

Barbara Vey -- August 20th, 2010

It’s getting harder and harder to pick books to read.  There’s just so many, I can’t choose.   So many authors I’ve read for years and tons of new ones I want to try.  It’s like going into a restaurant and there’s 10 pages to the menu.  Just give me five good dishes and I’m good to go.  Here’s what I ended up reading this week.

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The Mists of Time by Susan Squires – Diana Dearborn is a romance writer with no practical life experience in the subject.  When a chance meeting at a museum finds Diana with a special book, she’s giving the opportunity to go back in time to Camelot to help with her research.  But it’s not the Camelot she expects.  Gawain is a mystery to her, but he seems to hold the key to the chaos that’s become her life.

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There’s plenty of twists in this story that blends the history of Camelot and what really happened there with a lost soul who’s never felt complete.  Since I’ve seen the movie (and play) of Camelot a kazillion times (yes, I know all the words to the musical), it was a joy to read a different take on the subject. Totally mesmerizing and delightful with a crazed villain and mystery to solve.

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Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt – Temperance Dews is a widow who runs a home for orphans with her brother and is in dire needs of funding.  Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire is hunting the brutal killer of his mistress.  Caire offers Temperance an introduction to the high society that can help support her cause in exchange for helping him get information in an area she is familiar with.  The undertaking is dangerous for both in more ways than one.

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This historical offers a look into the seedier side of London.  While the chapters each begin with a separate tale that has adorned Elizabeth’s other books, the main story was darker.  Intriguing and sensual, this first book in the Maiden Lane series makes me wonder what she has in store for the rest of the family.

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Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton – Anita Blake, vampire executioner, finds there’s new badness coming and the only way to combat it is to unite forces with other vampire factions.  Since she already has almost every animal to call, she now focuses on the lions.

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Let me start by saying that I have read the Anita Blake series from the beginning.  I bought them and reread them…at least the first seven.   I think this is number 19.  Anita’s books started as mysteries and her job (raising the dead to get them to answer questions among other things) was fascinating.  In Bullet, I found it hard to find a page that didn’t have some kind of sex in it, the more disturbing part was that the sex was just for power and not much love going on.  I’m sure Laurell’s fans will find what they are looking for in Bullet, but if you’re new to her, try her early books which are amazing.

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The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot – Melissa Fuller writes a gossip column for a New York newspaper, but is ready to move on to the meatier stories.  When her 80 year old neighbor goes into a coma, Mel is tapped to care for her pets until the neighbor’s nephew arrives to take over.  John Trent is asked to pay up an old debt by pretending to be his friend.  Misunderstandings and mayhem ensue.

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Ok, I picked up this 2002 book from RWA that Meg signed for my niece, but I couldn’t resist.  Written all through e-mails, this incredibly charming story had me rushing through so I could share it with my niece and we could talk about it.  Very sweet, funny and adorable.  The kind of book that makes you say, “You just have to read this.”

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That’s it for me.  It’s Your Turn Friday.  What have you been reading lately?

Bottom Line: Next up for me is Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right by Kieran Kramer…Love the title!

Who Would You Cast?

Barbara Vey -- August 19th, 2010
Harry, then and now

Harry, then and now

The Harry Potter movies will be coming to end soon.  I’m sad about it.  While I started reading the books before they were even popular, I’ve always been more of a books vs movie kind of person.  The movies usually don’t seem to measure up to the books with few exceptions.  But I always enjoyed the Harry Potter cinema version.  It isn’t exactly like the books, but it’s still fun.

Right now I’m more thinking about the characters in books.  When I read, I have a picture in my mind of the characters and it doesn’t always match the movie version.  Since Harry Potter had pictures in the book of the character, I thought they were spot on in casting the movie.  It would be hard to see anyone else in those roles.

Tom Cruise as Lestat

When Tom Cruise was tapped as Anne Rice’s vampire Lastat, the author took out a full page ad denouncing the decision (overreaction or great marketing ploy?).  She said “I was particularly stunned by the casting of Cruise, who is no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler.”  Later, she changed her tune by saying, “The charm, the humor and the invincible innocence which I cherish in my beloved hero Lestat are all alive in Tom Cruise’s courageous performance.”

The Client by John Grisham featured Reggie Love, a tough, older woman lawyer.  I pictured her a little overweight with short, curly gray hair.  She was sad about her lot in life, but trudged on.  The movie starred Susan Sarandon (who’s a favorite of mine).  I was not happy.  While I enjoyed the movie (the kid was terrific), I felt a loss for the person I’d come to know in the book.

Emily Deschanel as Temperance Brennan

I’d pictured Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan a little smaller and softer than Emily Deschanel, but again, love the show Bones.  Sue Grafton has said that she’ll never sell her character, Kinsey Millhone, to TV or the movies.  She believes that every person has their own vision of the character and no one actress could please everyone.

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This probably explains the big uproar about Kathrine Heigl slated to play Janet Evanovich’s kooky bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum.   Fans are not happy saying, “Stephanie is supposed to be a short, spunky, Italian brunette from Jersey. I’m sorry Katherine, you’re good as a comedic actress and all, but I just don’t think you’re short, brunette, or spunky like Stephanie needs to be. This casting choice just might put me off seeing this movie.”  “Very bad choice for Stephanie Plum, the only actress that could pull it off would be Sandra Bullock.”  “She isn’t streetwise enough nor does she have the sensual style that would attract somebody like Morelli or Ranger.”  Personally, I liked Sandra Bullock too, although I realize she’s probably too old.  And now I see Shari Shepard is going to be Lula.  Yuck.  I wanted Queen Latifah.  Well, they didn’t ask me.

So, what about you?  Any movies of book you haven’t seen because of the way it was cast?  Any you did see that you were surprised about?  Did they change your mind? Any books you’d like to cast?

Bottom Line: I’ll probably see the movie anyway, just to prove that I was right about the poor choice in casting.

WW Ladies Book Club Blurbs

Barbara Vey -- August 18th, 2010

The last couple of weeks I’ve been receiving Christmas books.  I understand that they have to be done ahead of time, but I really need to enjoy the summer.  It’s horribly cold here in winter and while it’s fun to say I wish it was a “White Christmas,” I just can’t think about wearing winter coats, shoveling snow and ugly boots.  My mental health can’t take it.  So, until at least September (which is only a couple of weeks away), I’ll pretend I didn’t see the beautiful seasonal covers and just enjoy the sunshine, flowering plants and being barefoot.  For now, here’s the non-Christmas books the WW Ladies have been reading.

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Katie

Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh

Read by Katie

Max Shannon is a human detective who works in New York Enforcement. Sophia Russo is a J-Psy, who has the ability to retrieve memories from people. Someone is targeting and killing the Psy Councilors’ closest advisors. Max heads off to San Francisco and is in for a surprise when he finds out that Sophia will be his partner. As Max and Sophia work with both the Psy and the Changeling community to catch this killer, something more sinister is at play.

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Bonds of Justice is the eighth book in Nalini Singh’s fabulous Pay-Changeling series and delivers a jammed packed, adrenaline rush of a story and an amazing couple with Max and Sophia.  This book is another welcome addition to the series that I can’t get enough of and has me clamoring for more.

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Denise

Denise

Home is Where the Bark Is by Kandy Shepherd

Read by Denise

Serena Oakley, a former model who has had a difficult and scary past decides to open an upscale doggy daycare called Paws-A-While in San Francisco.  Nick Whalen is an undercover investigator who is on a case concerning identity theft and it seems that all clues lead to the Paws-A-While.

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Very entertaining with the descriptions of the clients and their “dog-kids”.  I guess there are some things in San Francisco that have to be seen to be believed.  Adorable, fun read.

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joysann

joysann

Treasure of the Golden Cheetah by Suzanne Arruda

Read by joysann

Having been an ambulance driver on the front lines during the Great War, Jade del Cameron is not easily daunted. Now living in East Africa, Jade is hired to accompany an American movie crew to film on location on Mt Kilimanjaro. The trip itself is dangerous, but what if they brought their own murderer along with them on safari?

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Try as I might, I cannot come up with a story description to do this series justice. Between historical detail, descriptive imagery, baffling mystery, and likeable characters, Suzanne Arruda’s books get me engrossed in a beautiful part of the world I will never see (think “The Ghost and the Darkness” a generation later). While Jade has adventures and discovers treasures, I’m very glad I’ve discovered treasure, adventure and romance in these exciting stories.

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Edie

Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh

Read by Edie

Twenty-five-year-old Maeve Leahy is haunted by the tragic accident of her twin sister, Moira, nine years ago. Since then, Maeve, the vibrant twin and saxophone prodigy, has shut down her emotions and shut out the music, leading a lonely and sterile life as a professor of languages in upstate New York. But she can’t resist the call of a keris, a Javanese dagger, that she buys at auction. The keris leads her to Rome, and to danger and romance and a confrontation with the past and the present.

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The chapters alternate between the present in Maeve’s voice and the past in Moira’s voice. Walsh is an artist with words, using them exquisitely, painting pictures that evoke emotions. I found the story atmospheric, and the characters have layers, faults and strength. Even after I was done reading, the characters stayed with me and I wasn’t ready to let them go.

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Loretta

Loretta

The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin

Read by Loretta

This is an absolute “giant” of a book, set in Murano in the 17th century, even then noted for its beautiful though secret glass making abilities.  Almost kept prisoners on the island by the government of Venice, the inhabitants were unable to market their glass except through the Venetian government, who also enjoyed a good portion of the profits.
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Reading into the late hours was never so satisfying to me while reveling in the fantastic descriptions, the intrigue and customs and a charming love story all rolled into one superb historical novel.  I was particuilarly fascinated by Sophia, the courageous and loving daughter who circumvented the rules set down at that time.    A most pleasurable read in all aspects!
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Heidi

Heidi

Gift from the Sea by Anna Schmidt

Read by Heidi
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During the end of World War 1, Maggie Hunter becomes conflicted with her duties as nurse to save a man who has washed up on shore near her Nantucket home. German born Stefan White has risked everything to bring information to the US, and needs to get to Washington as soon as possible. Two souls challenged by their faith and split by loyalty to their duties to family and country.
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I could feel the conflict in the heart of each characters as their choices in their journey tested their faith. A love story that shows how faith can overcome any obstacle as long as you believe.

joysann

joysann

Warriors – edited by George R. R. Martin and Garner Dozois


Read by joysann

The anthology Warriors is just what it sounds like – stories about fighting men and women, and others, in this world we know or worlds of fantasy, in the past and in the future. The authors from many genres whose stories appear here are some of my favorites, and while some are known for popular series, their contribution here may or may not have anything to do with the work for which we know them. Included in this anthology are Cecelia Holland, Joe Haldeman, Robin Hobb, Lawrence Block, Tad Williams, Joe R. Lansdale, Peter S. Beagle, Diana Gabaldon, Naomi Novik, Steven Saylor, James Rollins, David Weber, Carrie Vaughn, S. M. Stirling, Howard Waldrop, Gardner Dozois, David Morrell, Robert Silverberg, David Ball and George R. R. Martin.
The stories are moving, exciting and spellbinding.

If you see a favorite author listed here, it’s worth taking the time to read his or her short story in Warriors.

Bottom Line: BTW, 128 days til Christmas (and you can follow it here).

Jane Porter: Even Writers Get Author Crushes

Barbara Vey -- August 17th, 2010
Jane and the Harlequin Presents authors and editors at lunch in Orlando

Jane and the Harlequin Presents authors and editors at lunch in Orlando

Today we have a special guest, author Jane Porter.  Jane won a day on Beyond Her Book blog by being the highest bidder on Brenda Novak’s Diabetes Auction.  Congratulations Jane and thanks for contributing to such a great cause.

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Romance Writers of America’s Conference is always such an amazing five days. They remind me of the Harlequin Presents I write– intense, complex, demanding, exciting, and sometimes plain overwhelming. For published authors, the conference is big business as you meet with your agent, editor(s), publicists, sales department, and other publisher execs. You have book signings and lunches, teas and dinners, receptions and champagne parties. You wake up early and fall into bed long after midnight. You crave coffee and sleep, food and Tylenol and sometimes just a half hour of peace.

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In the cafeteria after the Saturday awards ceremony with fellow Rita nominee Jennie Lucas

.In the cafeteria after the Saturday awards ceremony with fellow Rita nominee Jennie Lucas

But the annual conference is also so much more than business. It’s the one time you get days to connect with the writer friends that save your sanity again and again through the year. My writer friends are my real friends because they know the real me—the one that pulls out my hair in fistfuls when a book doesn’t work or when I despair that I’ll never find a good idea or write another decent book again. My writer friends are a huge part of my heart, and the anchors in a topsy-turvy world.
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When I’m with my close friends at conference we do talk business. We also talk about our books, our contracts, and juicy industry gossip. But we also laugh and cut loose and for a short period of time feel like people instead of writing machines. It’s with my close writer friends that I get to gush about my favorite authors. You know those authors you just love love love to read.

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Jane at tea with writer pals Megan Crane, Liza Palmer and Michelle Rowen

Jane at tea with writer pals Megan Crane, Liza Palmer and Michelle Rowen

In Orlando this year I got to meet one of my new ‘crushes’, the brilliant Claudia Dain. I discovered Claudia Dain through one of my best buds, writer Megan Crane (also writing as Caitlin Crews). Megan knows my taste and insisted I read The Courtesan’s Daughter, the first book in Claudia Dane’s incredible series, The Courtesan Chronicles. Megan was right to send me Claudia’s book. I LOVED it. Within twenty pages I was hooked, completely. Claudia Dain is brilliant. She’s not like any other author writing today and after rushing through her series, I wrote her a fan letter. She wrote me back. I wrote her again. She answered. And then I asked her out. (No, not really.) But I did ask if she wanted to meet for coffee at conference. Claudia said yes. (Cue joyful music.) I was ecstatic.
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Claudia Dain

Claudia Dain

Megan and I ended up meeting Claudia together and that 90 minute coffee remains one of the highlights from my trip. It was such a thrill to meet someone that has brought me such pleasure. I haven’t written a lot of fan letters—I think Christine Feehan, Mary Balogh and Loretta Chase are the only other three I’ve gushed to, although I’d like to send JR Ward one because I really do adore her books)—so conference is also my chance to be a reader and fan. After all, where else do you find a thousand of the most talented fiction authors gathered in the same building for five whole days?
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Next year’s conference is in New York and I’ve already marked the week off in my 2011 calendar. Attending conference may be exhausting and overwhelming, but its also one of the most wonderful things I get to do, and one of the best parts about being Jane Porter.

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If you had the chance to play fan girl, which author would you love to meet? Tell me who you is top of your list and you’ll have the chance to win one of 3 special Texas themed giveaways featuring my new 5 Spot trade fiction release, SHE’S GONE COUNTRY.

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Jane Porter, the mother of three sons, makes her home in Bellevue, WA and is the bestselling author of over 30 novels–6 trade fiction for Grand Central Publishing’s 5 Spot line and 25 Harlequin Presents.  One of Jane’s novels, Flirting with Forty, was made into a 2008 Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear.  For more on Jane and her new book tour schedule visit her here. You can also follow Jane on her fan page, Facebook and Twitter.

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Bottom Line: Jane, I am also a “total fan girl” at RWA and I’d like to meet Joanna Bourne (loved The Spymaster’s Lady).

News and Notes

Barbara Vey -- August 16th, 2010
Rose Marie Robertson and Eileen Hutton

Rose Marie Robertson and Eileen Hutton Promoting Go Red for Women at RWA

It was strange being home for a whole week.  I spent it sorting the books that came in while I was gone.  Two readers came by to pick up books and they ended up taking more books then they thought they would.  Both were open to trying new writers and genres.  I’m hoping to make them converts since neither consider themselves “romance” readers.

One interesting note is that a reader picked an ARC that had just a plain colored cover because she liked what was said about the book.  Later I found the book with the published cover.  When the reader saw it, she said she would never have picked the book if she saw the cover first because it showed a man without a shirt on…something she would never read.  She still took the book and I’ll be letting you know how she feels about the story after she reads it.

Now, here’s the news I heard this week.

From RWA Session: Chief Science Officer and Past President of the Board of American Heart Association Rose Marie Robertson and former Brilliance Audio Vice President Eileen Hutton (she retired last year) enlightened attendees on the number one health threat to women – heart disease.   I heard so much buzz from this workshop that I plan to do a special blog on how they are teaming up with romance writers to bring awareness to this issue through the Go Red for Women campaign.  In the meantime visit www.goredforwomen.org

From Renee Combs: I am a nineteen year old female college student. This summer I am shaving my head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise childhood cancer research funds and I’m asking for your help.  Childhood cancer is seriously under-funded and it is our job to raise awareness for the children who can’t fight this war on their own.

As a part of a group called “46 Mommas Shave For The Brave” I and the others will have our heads shaved on national TV on September 13, 2010 in an effort to raise childhood cancer awareness.  I need your help with our fundraising in any way you can help. You can find our main website at www.46mommas.com. In case your are wondering why we call ourselves the “46 mommas” the answer is simple, there are 46 children diagnosed with cancer every weekday. Please email me with any questions rcombs0061@yahoo.com

From Debbie Kaufmann: Promo Items for Georgia Romance Writers 2010 Moonlight & Magnolias Conference Do you want to get your books or promotional materials in front of a group of motivated writers and readers? We would love to have your work represented in the Moonlight and Magnolias 2010 Conference, one of the largest regional writing conferences in the U.S.  Please email me for further information at dlkaufman@bellsouth.net

Because of my recent travels, I missed this wonderful event from Penguin celebrating their 75th Anniversary on July 30th.  From Penguin Publishing: A bright-orange Penguin Mobile (an adorable mini-cooper with the Penguin logo) is driving to bookstores all over the US to bring some of our bestselling authors to parties in their hometowns, increase awareness of The Nature Conservancy, and promote literacy.  At each event, a set of 75 Penguin Books is donated to a local library or literacy group. Each author is signing the Penguin-mobile as it makes its way across the United States, and the summer’s events will culminate with a party at the New York Public Library in September where Penguin will auction the car with the proceeds going to the New York Public Library.  Penguin is also donating sets of books to numerous U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Monday Giveaways

From Nights of Passion: To celebrate the release of Vampire in the Basement, romance author a.c. Mason is throwing a Book Launch Party for Susan Hanniford Crowley at the Nights of Passion blog, and Susan will be giving away an ebook from her backlist to one lucky commenter on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010.  Come join the fun.

Bottom Line: “Monday is a lame way to spend 1/7 of your life.”  ~Author Unknown

Appearences

DragonCon – September 3-6

Eagle Library Author Event – September 25

Emerald City Writers Convention – October 1-3

Lady Jane’s Salon – October 4

New York Comic Con - October 8-10

Readers ‘n ‘ritas – November 12-14

Contact:  barbaravey@gmail.com

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