Book Expo America

May 28, 2007 | 9 Comments

I can’t go this year. I am chained to the computer, working on the Book That Will Not End. Here is an entry I wrote about the book show last year. I put it up on another blog site where it languished in unread obscurity. Maybe there’s a reason for that, who knows. But this is a post about BEA 2006:

BEA (Book Expo, held this year in Washington DC) was fabulous–three days of frenetic conventioneering. Stayed at the Mayflower where, 22 years ago, I got pregnant, so Jay was not allowed to come this time. I hadn’t been to DC since I was the national speaker for RWA in 2000, and the whole atmosphere is different, thanks to 9/11. There were barricades, security & political protests everywhere. Impeach Bush logos everywhere you look (including in the Washington Post). You can be walking down the street, and suddenly they’ll close it and make you go somewhere else. I saw a motorcade of a dozen black SUVs, Mary Cheney & Newt at the show and that was the extent of politics for me. Loved the international spy museum. “Embassy Row” — a neighborhood — is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

I had a booth signing and a chute signing. Giving away books is the ONLY way to have a booksigning. I wish it could be that way every time. I gave away ARCs of SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE with friendship bracelets (summer camp theme) to hundreds of appreciative librarians and booksellers. [NOTE: This year my publisher is giving away Dockside.] Attendees are all so earnest and supportive–gives you hope for the book industry. Note: who knew people coveted friendship bracelets? I ran out quickly. Publicist was clever at matching the bracelets with people’s outfits.

Familiar faces–Some of my favorite people–Kathy Carmichael! Shirley Hailstock, Heather Graham & her husband, Carla Neggers, Christina Skye, Sandra Kitt, MJ Rose, Susan Grant, Gayle Wilson, Jill Limber, Hope Tarr, Linda Seger, Alfie Thompson, Bruce Wilder, Nora Roberts…all people I love and never get to see. Dinner at the Westchester at Grove Park. It’s a 1920s luxury residence, and the restaurant used to be the dining room for the residents. You can get escargots and a grilled cheese sandwich, anything you want. We had an impromptu home tour of Katherine Neville’s incredible vintage apartment, which was unforgettable. This is thanks to my agent, who is so friendly and lovable that everyone just wants to hang out with her. I had a lunch with the president & vp of Harlequin. We went to a Turkish restaurant so exotic I can’t even spell the name of it. I adore these women, love their smarts, their focus and their taste in shoes. I got to share news of the feature film option & we toasted iced tea. There was a Harlequin party at Maclean Gardens for industry people–a different crowd from the usual romance event. Many more boys. PW staff. Lots more drinking, less dancing. I was impressed that, with so many parties to choose from, people picked this one. The party dessert was cupcakes that are world famous. I never thought a cupcake could bring me to ecstasy. I was wrong.

Booths & ARCs:

  • I got the new Sally Beauman (I’ve always loved her books) from Warner.
  • Golden Country by Jennifer Gilmore (S&S) — they are so enthusiastic about this book–a saga. Lovely folks in a friendly booth.
  • a new Donna van Liere (sp?) from SMP (she does the wildly popular Christmas books). People at SMP are very warm & welcoming.
  • Losing our Democracy by Mark Green (political books were EVERYwhere)
  • the new Lisa Tucker from S&S — love her books. LOVE THEM so I’m excited about this one.
  • Lights! Camera! Fiction! by Alfie Thompson (a writing book with an intro by Michael Hauge)
  • Jesus Rode a Donkey: Why Republicans Don’t Have the Corner on Christ by Linda Seger
  • Bertelsman booth was gigundo. I visited with a couple of editors, realizing that if you stick around long enough in this business, you meet everyone.
  • I think S&S seemed to be giving away the most books and ARCs, my impression, anyway.
  • The big book of the show seemed to be THRILLER, the anthology from MIRA.
  • Recorded Books – my audio publisher. I was glad to meet them and effuse about THE OCEAN BETWEEN US reader  who did such a good reading. There are lots of innovations in audio, including a disposable listening book.
  • I met Elizabeth Flock, who is as nice as she is adorable, but we were signing next to each other and barely had a chance to talk.
  • The RWA booth was adorable, set up like an Italian cafe. I didn’t love where it was located but people seemed to be finding it. They were giving away members’ books and info.
  • I bought a book (memoir) from a Holocaust survivor, Jack Ratz. It was an incredible moment.

On the down side–I did not bring the good camera (too bulky).

People at the show looked exhausted on Sunday. I went to a museum with a writer friend from Maui, had lunch with some people from Mira, then flew home and made the 9pm ferry. Streak cried like a baby. Jay had cleaned the house, Jay-style. I have a very intimidating e-mail queue but I’m slowing getting through it.

Teen angst and functional families

May 25, 2007 | 1 Comment

Heads up. Friday Night Lights just showed up on Sunday. Past episodes of this drama will re-air on Sundays, which is a great way to get hooked. Friday Night Lights

I’m a very unlikely viewer for this show. I’m not a football fan and have managed to go through life without actually knowing the rules of the game. TV dramas about high school kids almost never work for me. This sounds like the last kind of program I’d tune into. It’s not about football the way Bull Durham is not about baseball.

I started watching Friday Night Lights because of a book. An amazingly good book–so good that, while reading it, I forgot that I don’t like or understand high school football. I found myself on the edge of my seat, invested in the characters and their storyline. I was interested to see how this lovely work of nonfiction would morph into a fictional TV drama.

My favorite parts–sharp, powerful character archetypes. The rebel, the princess, the hero and anti-hero, the bad girl, the good girl…They’re all beautifully portrayed. The women in this show get to be strong and smart and funny. That alone is enough to win my heart.

My favorite summer reading

May 18, 2007 | 5 Comments

So I promised the folks on my message board that when the registered members there reached 300, I would post something special, just for them. We hit the magic number on my birthday, so here it is–everything you need to have a fabulous summer: a beach (or a lawn chair will do), a drink, a snack, and my can’t-miss, something-for-everyone list of suggested beach reads, old and new, fiction, nonfiction and food. Enjoy!  

Dorothy, Tami, Robin, Kathy

Greetings from the Island

 If once you have slept on an island, you’ll never be quite the same;

You may look as you looked and go by the same old nameYou may hustle about in street and shop you may sit at home and sew,But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls wherever your feet may go,You may chat with neighbors of this and that and close to the fire keep,

But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell and tides beat through your sleep,

And you won’t know why and you can’t say how such a change upon you came,

But once you have slept on an island you’ll never be quite the same!

–Rachel Field

 

A Day At The Beach from www.drinknation.com

  • 1/2 oz. Amaretto
  • 1 oz. Rum, coconut
  • 1/2 oz. Grenadine
  • 4 oz. Orange Juice
  • Pineapple Wedge
  • Strawberries
  • Mixing Instructions: A definite beach drink! Shake everything except garnishes in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a highball glass half-full of cubed ice. Serve with pineapple wedge and a strawberry as a garnish.

Some Of My Favorite Beach Books

  • The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher
  • The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw
  • That Camden Summer by LaVyrle Spencer
  • Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
  • The Beach House by Georgia Bockoven
  • Beach Music by Pat Conroy
  • Rhanna (entire series) by Christine Marion Fraser
  • Coast Road by Barbara Delinsky
  • Home Fires by Luanne Rice
  • A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
  • Homeport by Nora Roberts
  • Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons
  • Eclipse Bay by Jayne Ann Krentz
  • The Cove by Catherine Coulter
  • Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
  • Black Creek Crossing by John Saul
  • Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee
  • Such Devoted Sisters by Eileen Goudge
  • The Summer House Cookbook : Easy Recipes for When You Have Better Things to Do with Your Time by Debra Ponzek, Geralyn Delaney Graham
  • Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
  • Almost Paradise by Susan Isaacs
  • What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George
  • The Penny Tree by Holly Kennedy
  • The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
  • Looking for a Ship by John McPhee
  • The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • American Idle by Alesia Holliday
  • Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn
  • Notes from the Shore by Jennifer Ackerman
  • It’s My Fucking Birthday by Merrill Markoe
  • Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie: Three Generations of Recipes and Stories from Summers on the Coast of Maine by Rebecca Charles, Deborah Di Clementi,
  • Oysterville by Willard Espy
  • Deep Waters by Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain
  • Summer Secrets by Barbara Freethy
  • The Beach House by Mary-Alice Monroe
  • Between Friends by Debbie Macomber
  • The McCleods of Montana (series) by Lois Faye Dyer 
  • Slow Heat in Heaven by Sandra Brown
  • The Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King
  • Bikini Season by Sheila Roberts
  • Harvest by Tess Gerritsen
  • Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie
  • Bitsy’s Bait & Barbecue by Pamela Morsi
  • Lost Highways by Curtiss Ann Matlock

Crudites with Serrano-Sweet Pea Aioli

based on a recipe by Rosemary Furfaro

Crudites are crisp, raw vegetables (carrots, celery, radishes, cauliflower) or blanched stalks of asparagus or broccoli. Serve them with this delicately-flavored green aioli. Take it to the beach in a cooler.

  • 1/2 cup sweet peas, shelled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil–too strong in flavor)

Cook the sweet peas in simmering water until tender, about 8 minutes, and drain. Place the egg yolks, whole egg and lime juice in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Process until the mixture begins to become light and fluffy. Add chile, garlic, cilantro and peas. With the machine running, drizzle in the oil until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture turns into a thick mayonnaise. Refrigerate. Makes about 2 cups.

Beach Books I’ve Written

 

Passing Through Paradise

Summer by the Sea

The Lightkeeper

The Drifter

Lakeside Cottage

Summer at Willow Lake

Dockside

The Ocean Between Us

www.susanwiggs.com

Empress of the North

May 17, 2007 | 3 Comments

I’m still trying to figure out what the message or metaphor is here. Empress of the EmpressNorth, a luxury cruise ship, passed by my house last year, looking like this:

According to its web site,

“The Empress of the North is the only overnight sternwheeler cruising in Alaska and one of two elegant overnight sternwheelers on the Columbia River. Built in America, she has been designed to achieve a balance of modern refinement and faithful historical charm. The most modern passenger conveniences and spaciousness have been incorporated, blending the elegant and glamorous appearances of the stately night boats of the 1800’s with the behind-the-scenes, state-of-the-art technology….”

This year, it returned, looking like this:

Empress

Note the fact that it’s in extreme shallows, with its gangplank/bowsprit aimed straight into the neighbors’ living room.

Maybe the odd maneuvering should have been a clue, but about a week later, the vessel made news when it listed and started to sink near Juneau, Alaska.

Message? Take that cruise now, before the ship sinks. Or maybe, cruising can be hazardous and should be avoided. Or maybe, all the practice in the world won’t prevent a mishap. Or maybe, if there’s a charted rock on your course, you might consider giving it a wide berth.

Metaphor? Hmm. Shit happens.

Bookmobile Patron Zooms into Fast Lane

May 15, 2007 | 1 Comment

Jayne Ann Krentz once lived every reader’s nightmare. “I grew up in a small town — so small that it didn’t have a public library. There wasn’t a library at school, either,” said the writer in a recent interview. “But we by golly had a twice-monthly bookmobile and I was probably its most faithful patron. To this day I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for bookmobiles. Whenever I see one I still get that same little rush of anticipation that I felt when I was a kid on Fridays when the van pulled into the school parking lot.”

That “rush” had a lasting effect on Jayne Ann Krentz, now the author of more than thirty Jayne Ann KrentzNew York Times bestsellers. Her latest is The River Knows, which PW calls “an alluring combination of foggy nights and steamy afternoons.” With over 30 million books in print, she has been gathering loyal readers for years with her unique blend of humor, sex and romantic suspense. Whether she is romancing the past as Amanda Quick, the present as Jayne Ann Krentz, or the future Jayne Castle, she writes compelling stories of love between strong, intelligent men and women.

DMAWIn addition to her work in contemporary and historical romance fiction, Krentz is the editor and contributing author of an acclaimed critical volume, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, which won her the Susan Koppelman Award for feminist studies from the Women’s Caucus of the Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association.

The latest in Jayne’s “supremely addictive tales” (Booklist) is White Lies, in the Arcane Society series. Jayne hopes her novels will appeal to people who love romantic-suspense with a touch of the psychic thing. “It’s certainly my favorite genre,” she adds, “both as a reader and as a writer.”

Jayne and her husband have lived in downtown Seattle for about twenty years. “I’m within walking distance of the Pike Place Market and Nordstrom’s. It doesn’t get any better for a mostly vegetarian person who loves to shop.” A typical day for the writer is fairly routine. “I’m a morning person. That means that whatever raw, creative work I’m going to do that day usually gets done by noon or it doesn’t get done at all. The afternoons are devoted to research, shopping and cooking (not necessarily in that order). But writing a book is an all-consuming job for me. Even when I’m away from the computer, I can’t get away from the book. It’s always there in my head, nagging at me. At night I frequently dream about plot problems — when I’m not lying awake staring at the ceiling and thinking about them, that is.”

Something about that early bookmobile experience must have left its mark, because Jayne maintains a lifelong personal connection to libraries. After getting a degree in history from the University of California at Santa Cruz, she went on to San Jose State University and earned a masters in library science. She worked mostly in academic and corporate libraries. “I also spent one memorable year as an elementary school librarian, an experience that I can only describe as an unmitigated career disaster,” she confesses.

However, her support of libraries has been unstinting. In 1997, she contributed a generous endowment to found the Castle Humanities Fund at UCSC. Interest from the fund, established in Krentz’s maiden name, enables the library to acquire books in the humanities that it would not be able to purchase otherwise.

“For me libraries are the quintessential attribute of civilization,” says Jayne. “They connect us to our past, present and future as no other human institution can.”

Samplings From Jayne’s Favorite Genre–ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Elizabeth Lowell: RUNNING SCARED. We’re talking eerie Druid gold and the dark glamour of Las Vegas.

Stella Cameron: COLD DAY IN JULY. Murder and steamy old secrets in a small Louisiana bayou town. Another Northwest author.

Jennifer Crusie: FAKING IT. A very clever, very funny, very modern take on the To-Catch-A-Thief style story.

Laura Joh Rowland: THE PILLOW BOOK OF LADY WISTERIA. The latest in her terrific series set in 17th century Japan featuring a Samurai detective and his lady wife.

Lynda S. Robinson: DRINKER OF BLOOD. The most recent in her intriguing Lord Meren series set in ancient Egypt.

Doing your shopping for you

May 07, 2007 | 5 Comments

You knew there were several reasons you shouldn’t get your mom exotic cut flowers for Mother’s Day. (Or if you must, please buy locally, and get organically-grown flowers.)

Here are a few items any mother would love:

  1. A Bugzooka. She’ll never have to wipe a smeared dead bug from the window again, and she’ll feel like a humanitarian for setting them free outdoors.
  2. A nose egg separator. If you’re going to cook something, you might as well be entertained while doing it.
  3. A hostess apron so pretty that people won’t even expect you to cook.
  4. Or a Kashwere robe to sit around in all day and read novels.
  5. Three quick book recommendations: I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron, Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGarde Smith or Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading by Maureen Corrigan.

And let’s be honest. The most treasured gift of all is time spent together, right? That’s what my mom’s getting this year. After the CRW conference, I’m heading down to have dinner with my parents and spend a few days in their company. What’s better than that?

Extreme Makeover

May 04, 2007 | 6 Comments

I’m nearly finished with a first draft of Snowfall at Willow Lake. The thing is a complete mess–but I love it. I love Sophie and Noah and their chemistry and their conflict. I love the way the plot unspools in this story of redemption. This story has good bones–a sturdy plotline, strong characters, an appealing milieu. But I’m looking at it and thinking, oy. Do you ever need a makeover. And not just a cosmetic surface buffing. This will have to be gutted, taken apart, reconstructed and polished.

chair - before

Today my chair came back from being reupholstered. Initially, the thing was a $5 Rotary Auction treasure that I brought home because there was something about it that I liked–the lines. The bone structure. Still, to be honest, it was not a thing of beauty. It was frayed and sagging and badly in need of a makeover.

chair - after

It was a lot of work. But worth the effort.

For me, “revision” is a literal act. I reimagine the story, even if it means dismantling it from the ground up. I think every writer has a horror of deleting and discarding changes. One way I get myself over it is by reminding myself that even the deletions have their purpose. The text that was cut had its uses at one time. It was written for a reason and led me somewhere. There, isn’t that soothing?

Elie Wiesel said, “Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees.  Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.”

Be my guest (really).

May 01, 2007 | 5 Comments

I made a donation to Brenda’s auction. The winning bidder gets a weekend stay in my guest house, where you’ll see I’m not exaggerating about “The View From Here.” I’ll even make you cranberry-orange muffins for breakfast and take you for a boat ride, weather permitting. You can hide away and work on Brenda & Thadyour novel, take a walk on the beach to the day spa or just hang out and do nothing, which is way underrated, if you ask me. So take a look at Brenda’s auction and make a bid on this or other fabulous items. Why? Because she’s raising money to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. I learned quite a bit about Type 2 diabetes (the auction is for Type 1 but everyone can benefit) while writing Lakeside Cottage; the disease touches so many lives. I can’t begin to tell you how important this is, so I’ll let Brenda tell you herself:

 

Help Brenda Novak make a difference to her son and others suffering from diabetes—shop at her 3rd Annual On-line Auction, May 1 – May 31st at www.brendanovak.com where you can bid on over 600 items, many of which can’t be found anywhere else. It’s easy (works like E-Bay), it’s fun, and all the money goes to research. As an added incentive, the person who places the most bids over all will win a $1500 prize package that includes a brand new laptop computer and a digital camera. So bid early and bid often! Here’s just a sample of what you’ll find:

*R/T Airfare for two to Seattle (from any city Alaska Air flies), hotel stay in downtown Bellevue, $100 to spend at the mall, a trip to the day spa and an invitation to Jane Porter’s launch party for her new book, ODD MOM OUT

*Trips and stays to many places, including a two-night stay in NYTimes Bestselling Author Susan Wiggs’s Guest Cottage in the beautiful Pacific Northwest

*Lunch in NYC at the posh Five Points Restaurant with historical romance author Kristina Cook and her agent, Marcy Posner of Sterling Lord Literistic

*The opportunity to be swept away in a limo at the RWA National Conference in Dallas this summer to have dinner at an elegant restaurant with Brava Author Diane Whiteside

*A handmade quilt featuring the autographs of many NYTimes Bestselling authors, including, Meg Cabot, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Janet Evanovich, Julie Garwood, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Suzanne Brockmann

*Elegant High Tea for Six with NYTimes Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber at the landmark Victorian Rose Tea Room in Port Orchard, WA

*A gourmet dinner with NYTimes Bestselling Author Christine Feehan served in the home of Brenda Novak.

*A Web Site design of up to five pages, including a Flash header element from Stonecreek Media

*A Month’s Worth of Mentoring for any aspiring writer from Bestselling Author Roxanne St. Claire*A Limo Wine Tour for Five with NYTimes Bestselling Romantic Suspense Author Allison Brennan (Napa Valley)

*A designer bookbag stuffed with so many goodies it’s worth nearly $400 from talented author Dianna Love Snell

*Hundreds of gift baskets

*Hundreds of Autographed books

*Critiques and/or lunch/breakfast/tea with agents, editors and multi-published authors

 

*Much, much more!