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World's youngest author

Christopher Beale completed his novel "This and Last Season's Excursions" when he was six years and 118 days old. The book, which is published in the UK November 25th, is about a boy and his favourite stuffed animals - Biscuit the puppy, Daisy the kitten, and the fierce Big Hinnies - as they "rescue owls, fight lions and search for a mysterious moving city, Quarles".

Christopher, who lives in Switzerland, speaks English and Italian and is currently not only working on his second novel, but also translating This and Last Season's Excursions into Italian. [via The Independent]

This amazing news fact taken from the Trashonista blog.

Color of Your Brain

What Color is Your Brain?


At work or in school: I like set routines and organized ways of doing thingsl rules and directions are a great help to me. I prefer to stay on one topic at a time. I need to know what is expected of me, and I always want to know if I am on the right track. I like subjects that are useful and traditional, such as business, accounting, history and government.

With friends: I prefer people who are careful with their money and who make plans ahead of time. I like my friends to be loyal, dependable and on time. I am serious about love and show it in many practical ways.

With family: I like stability and security and enjoy traditions and frequent celebrations. I like to spend holidays with family members, and I plan ahead for such gatherings.

******Take thisquiz!******

Interesting Contest!

Just found this on author Ellen Meister's site. She's offering two different contests, one each for Teachers and PTA Parents. And there are a lot of tempting prizes to be won.

Teachers can win : a free audiobook CD of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, narrated by Lisa Kudrow.*

PTA Parents can win : a Basket of Books for your school library, donated by HarperCollins publishers! But here's the catch........

They have to fill out this hilarious survey which asks them : If you could choose which Hollywood leading man you'd most like to offer your cupcakes to, who would it be? Choices include Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Antonio Banderas and other irresistible Hollywood hunks.

So what're you waiting for? Hurry on over and have fun entering!

Online Book Fair

Don't forget to check this out.

IN RUINS releases today!

IN RUINS by Amanda Jean Kelly

eBook ISBN: 1-59426-497-1
Published By: Phaze
Release Date: September 24, 2006

An archaeologist and cave expert, Raul Ignacio has been offered a million dollars to find the staff of an ancient Mayan ruler in the ruins of Luchitak Temple in Belize. Using his life savings, he has anonymously funded an excavation of the temple in hopes of finding the artifact.

A newcomer to the excavation scene, Theresa Tustin desperately wants to make a name for herself in the archaeology world. She seduces Raul with her competitive spirit, as she needs to distinguish herself to obtain the well-paying jobs she needs to support her ailing mother’s massive debts. When it’s anounced that the excavation’s funding has run dry, Theresa makes one last attempt to find the ruler’s tomb and Raul tails the sexy vixen into the ruins.

An unexpected cave-in leaves them stranded in the belly of the temple, their only escape a winding maze of caves beneath the mountains of Belize. With all of his money gone, will Raul find the staff and lead Theresa to safety or will he be left…in ruins?


Sounds real interesting. I, for one, can't wait to read it!

Upcoming release : Branded

BRANDED by Emma Petersen

Coming from Cobblestone Press September 22, 2006

Get Branded!

Jenny and Ty have known each other most of their lives and have been attracted to each other since they’ve been old enough to know what attraction meant. A tragedy has bought Jenny back home to Parsons' Pass and into Ty’s arms.

The heat between them is as hot as ever, but the scars he carries from his parents’ relationship and his own failed marriage keep Jenny at bay. When Ty comes close to losing the most important person in his life, he knows it’s time to bury the past and fight for their love.

Click here for excerpt.

Nalini Singh Contest - Win a $200 Amazon Gift Certificate

I am participating in a blogging experiment hosted at To enter the contest, put up this blurb, image, and trackback and you are entered to win the following prize package.
  • $200 Amazon gift certificate
  • Signed copy of Slave to Sensation
  • New Zealand goodies chosen by Singh
  • ARC of Christine Feehan's October 31 release: Conspiracy Game
You can read about the experiment here and you can download the code that you need to participate here.


SLAVE TO SENSATION by Nalini Singh (Berkley/September 2006)

Welcome to a future where emotion is a crime and powers of the mind clash brutally against those of the heart.

Sascha Duncan is one of the Psy, a psychic race that has cut off its emotions in an effort to prevent murderous insanity. Those who feel are punished by having their brains wiped clean, their personalities and memories destroyed.

Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, a shapeshifter who craves sensation, lives for touch.

When their separate worlds collide in the serial murders of Changeling women, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities…or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.


Viral Blogging and a Contest - Gena Showalter

Playing With Fire by Gena Showalter
Earth, Wind and Fire aren’t just a band anymore…

Blurb :
Used to be my greatest achievement was holding a job more than three days.
Now suddenly I can shoot fireballs, chill your drink, or blow-dry your hair at fifty paces with a blink of my eye!
It all started when this crazy scientist dropped something in my grande mocha latte.
Of course I got wicked sick.
Next morning I’m waking up with this total hottie bending over me.
He tells me
1) his name’s Rome Masters, 2) he’s a government agent and 3) I can control the four elements with a thought.
He seems even less pleased by my (apparently irreversible) transformation that I am. . . because now he’s supposed to kill me.
The only good news:
I didn’t make this bed of trouble, but Rome sure seems to want me to lie in it.
With him.

Read an excerpt

Order your copy from
Barnes and Noble or Amazon or Books A Million

And if you’d like a chance to win signed copies of *all* Gena Showalter’s books, all you have to do is post this entry, too.

Post the cover, the blurb, the links, and this contest announcement, then head over to Gena’s blog ( ) and let her know you posted the material. A name will be randomly selected on September 3rd from those who do!!

Cool, huh?!

Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow

Hi all!

Sorry for the no blog posts for a looong time. Let's just say Life had its own agenda and I was but a pawn in its busy little hands. I even stopped reading for a while let alone web surf, hence no posts. 'Nuf said.

I'm back and I'm starting to get back into reading. Luckily I made a most fortunate choice to begin reading all over again - Lilith Saintcrow's second installment in the Dante Valentine series, very appropriately titled "Dead Man Rising". (lol, appropriate both because of my comeback as well for the story contained within this book ;-) )

Necromancer for hire, Dante Valentine is still mourning her dead lover, the fallen demon Japhrimel, whom the Devil turned into ashes in front of her bewildered eyes towards the conclusion of the first book in this series, "Working for the Devil". She's still getting adjusted to her new form as a half-demon and prefers to bury her sorrow in working bounties non-stop. Jace, her ex-lover, is by her side through the worst of it, he's even moved in with her. He wants Danny back, but Danny can't bring herself to sleep with him, let alone love him back. Jaf is there with her in her thoughts and feelings too much for her do anything but keep herself aloof from those around her who care for her.

Then Gabe, her best friend, asks her help in solving a series horrific murders where the victims seem to have been torn apart inside out without any trace of the killer being left. Suppressing her sorrow, Danny seeks the connection between the victims and finds it in Rigger Hall, the sadistic educational institution that she herself had been a part of and that'd been the bane of its students' existence until a cataclysmic event shut it down around a decade ago.

In a rare instance, Danny dearly wishes she could be selfish and not the do the right thing, especially when she realizes what awful memories investigating this case has already begun to churn up. And not just for her. The terrifying evil that's been set loose thanks to the aforementioned cataclysmic event shows every sign of consuming Danny as well. Whether she gets help from an unexpected source and how it all ends makes for some delicious spine-tingling suspense.

While Danny's constant mourning does create a mournful atmosphere, it also serves to impress upon the readers the depth of her feelings for her short-lived demon lover. There's even a sort of ghostly love triangle in the making, what with Jace wanting Danny back even as she hears Jaf's voice in her head at the oddest of moments. With rip-roaring action sequences and non-stop suspense, the book leaves the reader feeling like holding a grenade with the pin pulled out - in other words, a humongous explosion waiting to happen. And boy! does it happen, much to the reader’s excitement and bone-deep contentment.

More than the unforgettable story and the unbelievable villain, it's Saintcrow's innate ability to make the readers at home with both the fantasy world she's created (and populated with psions and other magikal beings) as well as establish a bond with her central characters that makes this book and indeed this series a must-read for any and all readers.

In other words, 5 stars for "Dead Man Rising"! Ms. Saintcrow - you ROCK!

Edible Books!

Whenever I find a book I particularly like (especially when I began reading it with little or no expectation whatsoever), I feel like one of those lucky people who get their cake and eat it too. Thinking this, I absentmindedly Googled for "edible books". Upon realizing what I'd typed, I thought for sure I'd get a polite but firm "zero results found". To my shock I got "8,090,000" results!

This search result in particular hooked my attention : BOOKS2EAT the International Edible Book Festival. I couldn't believe (in fact, I'm still skeptical) that somewhere in this world people gather to celebrate this astonishing thing.

Here's what it says at this site :
The International Edible Book Festival is a yearly event on April 1 throughout the world .This event unites bibliophiles, book artists and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment. Participants create edible books that are exhibited, documented, then consumed. April 1st is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them.

(It's also a date that makes me think this whole thing is one gigantic joke. Turns out, the joke's on me)
Books2Eat can be celebrated with your family, friends, colleagues and public anywhere, the only rules are making edible art that have something to do with books as shapes and/or content. Document your event with pictures and video and share them via internet. Send us links to your webpage and don't forget to include the Books2Eat central website.

(Yeah, right! and give my friends and family a chance to dial the loony bin number they've had on speed dial since I first became a bookworm ;-)

The Edible Book was initiated by Judith A. Hoffberg over a Thanksgiving turkey with book artists in 1999, and became an international event through the artist BĂ©atrice Coron Books2Eat website, for the first event in 2000. This annual event has become a sensation.

Here all this begins to take a tinge of undeniable authenticity. Does this mean I'll be heading to Santa Monica in a couple of days? I'm inclined to, but there's that loony bin thing. Just kidding!
I won't be able to, but I'd sure love to. I mean,
which bookworm worthy of their name wouldn't want to?
If you're still not convinced, feast your disbelieving eyes on these beautiful, inspired and very creative EBs. I know which one's my fave. Check out the Books2Eat website for more fascinating info about this little known (at least to me) festival celebrating two wonderful things in life : books and food!

Dark Need ARC Contest

Well, long time no blog again - bad, bad bookworm! But it's all for the good. I took some much needed time off for myself and will hopefully start posting regularly (nah! who am I kidding?!). Anyway, surfing the treacherous waters of the web today, I came across some interesting news.

As other bookworms probably already know, author Alison Kent's blog is always hopping with fun, activities, advice, discussions and best of all, Contests! She recently concluded a MIX-And-MATCH contest with all her published titles that looked like great fun. Just check the comments! Now this wonderfully generous author is running... Yet Another Mix-And-Match contest. This time though readers can submit one title out of all the listed titles of guest author Lynn Viehl's books.

The prize is (in Alison's own words) "...not only will five of you win a copy of DEEP BREATH, one of you will also win an ARC of DARK NEED, whoo-hoo!" The Darkyn series made for fabulous reading and I for one, am really looking forward to reading DN. Time to have fun!

The Da Vinci Crisis

First, author Dan Brown's *fictional* book "The Da Vinci Code" shook the world with it's concept of Jesus having a child from his marriage to Mary Magdalene and that their descendants are alive even today, having survived in secret until now. This concept shot Brown to literary superstardom and the book turned out to be the goose that laid a golden egg worth 90 Million dollars and counting for publishers Random House.

Now Brown is being shaken up in a London courtroom, upon charges by the historian authors of a *non-fiction* book "The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail" who claim he's plagiarized ideas and key concepts from their work. The writers are actually suing Random House (curiously enough, they published both the books) for copyright infringement and not Dan Brown, but Brown is the one in the hot seat as it's his work which is at the root of this case.

Brown has admitted to checking up this 1982 released non-fiction book but insists it was only one among five other books that he and his primary researcher Blythe, who is also his wife, went through during their research into writing this mega-seller but only *after* he was well into the Da Vinci writing process. Brown's more than well-thumbed copy of HBHG with its copious notes, color-coded jottings and underlined passages on pages festooned with tape markers has the ruling Judge skeptical as to Brown's claims that he only went through it once. The case right now is only just in favor of Dan Brown but it can go in any direction. Depends on how much more probing the publicity-shy Brown can take from the opposing lawyers.

Whatever the end result, it's bad news for readers as no doubt this will delay the release of Brown's highly-anticipated next book whatever it may be. Coincidentally "The Da Vinci Code" was first released March 18, 2003. And if the judge upholds the 10 Million pounds claim, there could be a lengthy delay or even ban on the book-based blockbuster movie-in-waiting starring Tom Hanks set to release May 19th. Will their success also mean that the Da Vinci Code will be withdrawn from the bookstores? It's unlikely but let's hope it never comes down to that. Author J.Carson Black has some strong opinions on this subject and raises the ever-controversial question - at which point does inspiration becomes plagiarism? Check out the author's March 14th blog entry.


Book Lottery

Readers are generally risk-takers at heart. After all, they spend money to buy something that they have no actual reason to believe will be worth the time, effort and money. Still they do it. Indeed, they're oft times compelled to by their own thirst for knowledge, entertainment and mental stimulation. As such, a book lottery is ideal for them.

********* ********* *********

The Morning News' Second Annual Tournament of Books, as sponsored by, is going on. They present 16 acclaimed novels for competition. Are these the best 16 books of 2005? Almost certainly not. has started betting on results of this competition and anyone of legal age can go place a wager. Here are the details as posted on their site : "It costs ten dollars to place a bet. All the money collected will be given to Donors Choose, an awesome charity that "provides students in need with the resources our public schools often lack."

********* ********* *********

Here are the books in competition : (Books are listed in no particular order and as usual, except a couple of books, almost none of the below would have made my personal list.)

The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss

The Time in Between, by David Bergen

Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole, by Stephanie Doyon

Home Land, by Sam Lipsyte

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy

The King of Kings County, by Whitney Terrell

Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

The Accidental, by Ali Smith

On Beauty, by Zadie Smith

Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala

Garner, by Kristin Allio

Saturday, by Ian McEwan

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Learning Curves by Gemma Townley

It’s the story of a young Londoner, Jennifer Bell, who gets caught in the maelstrom brewing between her acrimoniously divorced parents who’re owners of rival consulting firms. While her mother Harriet’s firm is a leftist, supposedly eco-conscious firm that’s begun a rapid slide into bankruptcy, her father George runs a purely commercially inclined and commercially successful one. Manipulated by her mom into spying on her dad to get proof he’s involved in the growing scandal of shoddy construction work in a post tsunami-ravaged Indonesia, Jennifer begins by joining the MBA course run on premises by George’s firm. She hates her father for having left her and her mother and she’s determined to hate his firm and the MBA course as well. Things soon change. She finds she’s surprisingly good at the business course and she falls for cute instructor, Daniel. Jen is no Jane Bond and soon after getting caught by her dad, realizes there’re two sides to every story. The pivotal question here is which side should she believe?

The story is a so-so one. Reason being it tries hard to be a lot of things at once and fails at being good at even one. The need for eco-consciousness at a global scale smacks at a lofty, serious tone but is used mainly as a prop for the ensuing family drama of which there is plenty. The MBA course gives a business-like form and indeed, readers are given a crash course in it during the course of the novel. This makes for tedious reading. What humor there is, is of the adoloscent kind arising mainly from Jen’s initial choice of a condom company as the class’ business model. The resultant wisecracks and puns would have made Austin Powers proud. And then there is that tiny touch of ethnic flavor, (that might as well have not been there, so underused it is) in the form of Jen’s best friend Angel who’s facing her own issues thanks to being an Indian growing up in London in the bosom of a traditional family.

Central protagonist Jen is the biggest disappointment as she vacillates so constantly and switches sides, allegiances and opinions so much as to make readers seasick. The only time the book comes close to sincerity is when Jen faces her abandonment issues and learns that not everything is life is black or white and that in between there are countless gray shades. This includes her parents, her ex and current boyfriends and even herself. Daniel chafes at being stuck in management reading reports while he could have been out in the middle of the people browsing his bookstores. This too could have been interesting, but fails largely due to Daniel’s reluctance to take steps to remedy the situation up until the end, by which time readers are sick of it. Other supporting cast drift on and off the story, sometimes good, sometimes bad. There is some suspense and it’s intertwined with the intriguing family drama and that's the second thing that redeems this othewise watery novel. But the romance feels like a drive-by, firmly taking a remote back seat to the other elements in the story. The story promises much, but fails to fulfil most of them.

Preston in Peril!

I read this over at another blog and it immediately raised my hackles. I thought it my duty to pass it on. According to author David J. Montgomery, below is a chilling email he received from author Douglas Preston regarding his recent perilous encounter in Italy.

For the past five years, I have been working with an Italian journalist, Mario Spezi, on a book about the case of a serial killer known as the Monster of Florence, who murdered fourteen people in the hills of Florence from 1974 to 1985. The Monster has never been caught and the case is still open. It has become the longest-running and most expensive criminal investigation in modern Italian history. Our book, which will be published in Italian in Italy in April and later in America in English, faults the investigation and specifically criticizes the chief Examining Magistrate of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, and the chief prosecutor, Michele Giuttari, who are in charge of one branch of the investigation.

I went to Italy on Feb. 14 with my family on vacation and to do some work with Spezi on the book. I was taken into custody by the police on Feb. 22. I was brought before Giuliano Mignini. There I was aggressively interrogated for three hours by him and three police detectives. I was asked about my relationship with Spezi and questioned in great detail about our journalistic activities, our theories, thoughts, and beliefs in the case. When I explained that my activities as an investigative journalist were privileged, Mignini shouted that this wasn't about freedom of the press, but was about a criminal matter of the "utmost seriousness," and that if I didn't answer the questions fully I would be arrested and charged with perjury. I was forced to answer the questions under the threat of arrest -- which I did.

Mignini then proceeded to play back telephone conversations I had had with Spezi, which they had wiretapped. He played the same passages again and again, demanding to know what we were "really" talking about, demanding that I explain the "real meaning" behind every casual word we had exchanged. They had also recorded conversations we had had in Spezi's car, which had been broken into and bugged -- Spezi found the bug yesterday. When I asked if I was being accused of a crime, Mignini said he believed I had committed not one but several serious felonies -- to whit: planting evidence to frame an innocent man, obstruction of justice, and being an accessory to murder -- all utterly false accusations.

Despite answering their questions fully and truthfully, in the end they charged me with "reticenza" and "false testimonianze" -- two serious crimes of perjury -- but said the charges would be suspended to allow me to leave Italy, to be reinstated later. In other words, it seems their goal was to get me out of Italy -- never to return.

The timing of this is not surprising. Our book will be published on April 19. The police had earlier obtained a draft of the book which they had seized in a search of Spezi's apartment, and so Mignini and Giuttari know well what we have written about him. This was a naked attempt to use the power of the state to intimidate and silence two journalists, and it may be a prelude to a legal action in Italy to block publication of the book.

After the interrogation, the police raided Spezi's apartment (for a third time -- he'd been raided twice before) and took away many documents. They also broke into Spezi's car and planted a microphone, which he later found. Following that, the police apparently leaked details of their investigation to the press, and articles in Corriere della Sera, La Nazione, and Il Giornale, about my interrogation and the search and seizure of Spezi's papers. The police also leaked out the information that Spezi was suspected of involvement in several murders and that he may be connected to the Satanic sect which the police believe was behind the Monster of Florence serial killings.

We desperately need to publicize this attack on journalistic freedom. I'm back in America and safe, but Spezi is at grave risk. His financial health, his career, and his very freedom, are at risk. Yesterday he wrote to me: "Io sono molto depresso, per avere fatto il nostro dovere, mi ritrovo in questa situazione." ("It is very depressing that, for having done my duty as a journalist, I find myself in this situation.")

Please -- something must be done as soon as possible. Anyone wishing more information about the case may contact me at

Some background on myself -- I'm a journalist who writes for the New Yorker magazine, and I've published fourteen books and won numerous awards. I'm on the board of the Author's Guild. I mention these details only to establish my credentials. In my entire journalistic career I have not experienced the kind of abuse of prosecutorial power as I witnessed in Italy.

Douglas Preston

Time Management

As I bemoaned in my previous entry, I don't have enough time these days. Perhaps it's because I write my appointments on paper scraps that develop legs as soon as I've written on them and run away and hide in dark corners. Naturally, I scramble at the last minute to find the details with nowhere to find them. A bulky organizer doesn't work for me. What then?

As if in answer to my prayers, I came upon this blog entry today. A Mama's Rant is having a contest on her blog and is giving away free copies of the book that will help me get back into the essential world of organization. It's called " The BusyBodyBook" (you can find out about it here:

It sounds ideal. So go check it out and get yourself a copy!

Genii in a Book

There were days, once upon a time, when I couldn't find/get enough books to read. The tiny town I lived in had an equally tiny library. Once I'd exhausted its meager capacity, I had no option but to go back and re-read the same books, over and over again. It got to a state when I didn't really need to read a book as I'd subconsciously memorized entire parts of it. Sounds boring, but it wasn't. What made the tedium worthwhile was discovering that tiny missed gem of a nuance or a subtle bit of a dialogue previously overlooked and which gave me an entirely new insight into the book. In other words, I'd find something new everytime I read a book.

These days, I have the exact opposite problem. I don't have time to re-read, even if I wanted to, which is generally the case with old favs like Jane Austen or P.G. Wodehouse. Each month brings a flood of new releases, all of them equally tempting and bursting with promise. I want to read each and every one of them. I know there are books out there just begging for the privilege of sitting on my already-bursting-at-capacity keeper shelf. Unfortunately, I can't. I don't have the time to read all the ones my editors and publishers keep sending me, let alone re-read recent books that have scratched and clawed and scrunched their way onto my keeper shelf.

I still remember - As a child, I'd just read 'Aladdin' and was enchanted with the prospect of a genii popping out of an old lamp. As I went around rubbing stuff old and new around my parents' house under my mom's wary gaze, I was furiously thinking what I'd do if a genii did indeed pop out. Aspiring beauty queens perhaps wished for world peace, aspiring politicians perhaps wished for more gullible voters, aspiring astronomers perhaps wished for more galaxies. As for aspiring bookworms such as myself, my wishes always boiled down to simply one - I wish I could get and read all the books I ever wanted to without ever getting tired or sleepy.

I'm still wishing, but now my wish has modified somewhat. I wish I had more time to read. I wish I had time enough to re-read. And if I really, badly like a story, I wish it didn't end. Barring that, I wish I didn't have to wait the countless days, months, years, until the author published the next installment, if that. This is a rare case scenario I'm talking about as it doesn't happen very often. Just the occasional Harry Potter book or maybe the next book in Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series, perhaps even the new Dan Brown book or the latest...Wait a second! I never quite realized how many books made my 'Dying to Read' list. The number of books that don't make this list is staggering but then, like my garden, you have go through the weeds before you can even begin to see the flowers.

The laurel of being the latest book to make this coveted list of mine rests with "Working For The Devil by Lilith Saintcrow". I'd never read this author before. Only the chance reading of a blurb somewhere prompted me to request it from Warner Books, and they were kind enough to promptly send me a copy. Saintcrow now has a devoted fan in me. She's created a fascinating new world in the not-too-distant future with its denizens numbering psychics, necromancers, demons etc that's even more absorbing that it sounds. More on that later. My mission in life now is to get and read all her previous books dealing with this futuristic new world - if I have the TIME, that is! Hopefully the author has more time than me and writes the next book in the 'Danny Valentine' series quickly.

Books for New Orleans

Just read this over at another blog. Please donate any and all books to the libraries in New Orleans.

The New Orleans Public Library is asking for any and all hardcover and paperback books for people of all ages in an effort to restock the shelves after Katrina. The staff will assess which titles will be designated for its collections. The rest will be distributed to destitute families or sold for library fundraising.

Please send your books to:
Rica A. Trigs, Public Relations
New Orleans Public Library
219 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70112

If you tell the post office that they are for the library in New Orleans, they will give you the library rate which is slightly less than the book rate.

Here's the library's official site:

Dare to Dream

In a couple of my blog entries I bemoaned the fact that Publishers (big or small) don't bother to spend any great amount of website space, time, money or effort to promote new and upcoming authors, some of whom may very well go on to be the Dan Brown's or Nora Roberts' of the future. Instead they prefer to spend money publicizing these already moneymaking authors - an exercise in utter futility or so it seems to me. [Kindly note, I'm not disparaging these authors. I'm a huge fan and their books are on my automatic-buy list - which is kind of the point I'm trying to make.]

In response to my blog entry, an upcoming author revealed some interesting and generally little known facts of publishing.

1) It's all about numbers. An author gets paid only for the books sold new and not used.
--- Bummer! I go to USBs all the time. I've discovered many a new author that way and become their fan. Hopefully, I've partly redeemed myself by buying said newly found author's new books at full-price even though paying 20+ dollars for a single hardback firsthand does make me wince and my wallet shed tears of green!

2) Writers are paid advance royalties against future sales.
--- Which means they get paid a fixed amount in advance at some agreed-upon rate. This is dependent on their book selling "x" number of copies. If the book sells more than "x" copies, well and good - the writer gets some more money. If not - well, there goes the royalty for the next book!

3) Copies returned mean less money for the author.
--- In addition to taking the lion's share of profit from a book's sales, publishers may also "hold" a writer's royalty against returned copies.

And now the final fact which the author says (and I agree) is also the most absurd Catch-22 of publishing -

4) An author's book may sell millions of copies if the publishers properly promoted them, but the publishers won't promote an author unless they sell millions.
--- Like the chicken and the egg. Need I need say more?

I found some more information on this issue at another writer Brenda Hiatt's website at this link -

In conclusion, I feel like standing up and applauding the "Writers" - a bunch of imaginative and hard-working people who actually *dare* to do what readers generally only *dream* that they can do! And after reading these facts of publishing, I feel that writers who depend solely on their writing to pay the bills and put food on the table, deserve the Nobel prize for Hope and Optimism; barring that, directions to Bedlam.

~~~ Afterthought ~~~
No wonder I keep looking for more books by some new author I've discovered in an USB (Used Book Store), only to find no more books by that author are being published. Or perhaps that author is writing under a different pseudonym?! Hmm.... that's subject for blog another day.

Review update - Allison Brennan

As you can see from the nifty little sidebar graphic (of the flipping book covers), I've been reading a lot of interesting tales. Here is my take on some of them:

Let me start with Allison Brennan's "The Kill". This book is the culmination of a trilogy of sorts, the first two books being 'The Prey' and 'The Hunt'. Both were excellent books that catapulted Brennan into the coveted best-seller list. The third is on par with the general course of this series. Not for the faint-hearted, all three books have heroines who're either directly or indirectly victims of various forms of tragedy, violence and abuse at different times of their lives. Strong and yet vulnerable, they become friends while studying to become FBI agents, their painful past being the dominant motivating factor for their choice of careers. Here's my review of all three books.

In 'The Prey', ex-FBI agent turned best-selling author Rowan Smith gets the shock of her life when a real-life killer begins emulating her fictional kills in excruciatingly accurate detail. Tormented with guilt and painful questions, Rowan's life is thrown into further turmoil when her bodyguard falls in love with her, even as she's irresistibly drawn to his older brother. Terror, lust and rage permeate the pages, keeping readers stuck to the pages as they visualize a terrifying drama unfold. Who survives and how it all ends makes for a thrilling read.

In 'The Hunt', former FBI trainee turned search-and-rescue squad member, Miranda Moore relives the agony of her own abduction, rape and torture as her tormentor known only as 'The Bozeman Butcher' is back continuing his foul deeds. As the only surviving victim, Miranda's determination to capture this madman sends her rushing headlong into danger, something that her ex-FBI lover and ex-Sheriff boyfriend together try to prevent even as events surge towards the inevitable do-or-die standoff.

In "The Kill", FBI scientist Olivia St. Martin is guilt-stricken when new DNA tests exonerate the man she'd testified against some thirty-odd years ago as being responsible for her sister's abduction and consequent rape and death. Working above and beyond the call of duty, she teams with a Seattle detective to capture the original rapist who's gone scot-free all these years and who's still very much active. Busy with her crusade, Olivia doesn't suspect that the man she'd had wrongfully convicted for the major part of his life is out for her blood as well.

After reading her books, I went in search of Allison Brennan's site and was surprised to see that in her bio she classifies her books as being 'Romantic Suspense'. It seems a very watered-down way of describing this powerful and emotion-filled trilogy. Her original description - "Stephen King meets Nora Roberts" - seems a much more befitting way of summarizing these stories. Horror, terror and pain are the dominating and motivating factors in the all three books, with determination and strength coming a close second.

The suspense in all three books remains constant, although I felt the romance factor decreased with the each succeeding book. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In 'The Prey', the powerful love triangle added to the general tension. While in 'The Hunt', there's only a hint of a love triangle. However, the romantic tension between Miranda and one of her ex's is quite fiery and keeps things interesting. But in 'The Kill', the romance came about quite abruptly, didn't seem convincing and wasn't needed at all, in my opinion.

Besides a good mystery, a terrific build-up of tension and an all-prevailing, never-wracking aura of danger, what I really liked about these stories was the way Brennan took readers into the thinking and emotions of not just the protagonists, but the villains as well, some of who turn out to be the products and victims of abuse themselves. While Brennan's penchant for repetitive and detailed descriptions brings the pages to vivid life and hammers in the emotional upheaval, it also causes the plot to sag and the negative emotions to become so overwhelming, that at times it takes an effort to continue reading.

That said, the stories are overall greatly engrossing and unforgettable. Allison Brennan seems all set to follow in the footsteps of popular authors such as Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter and the like.

Promises, Failures and More

I've mentioned on this blog before about the lack of a centralized book listing, both upcoming and already released. Being a voracious reader and reviewer, I feel this lack very keenly. Since there isn't one such place to my knowledge, I'm always scouring the web trying to find a good book and an even greater author. Here's one recent find that looks quite promising :

Touch the Dark
by Karen Chance, Roc, June

Super cover - all dark and mysterious, showing a woman with a pentagram on her back. At least I think it's a pentagram.
I should know, shouldn't I, being an ardent fan of WB's Charmed for more years than I care to remember. But alas, I don't. Could be because I stopped watching it.I couldn't say "draaaaging' fast enough. Same with Smallville.

Synopsis goes something like this :

Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits (A psychic seer - isn't that redundant?) - talents that make her attractive to the dead (wow, they must really be *die-hard* gossips) and the undead (now why would the undead immortals want to know the future? Doesn't it *suck* all the fun out? I'm just saying...). She can handle the spirits but the rest aren't quite as ignorable, particularly a bloodsucking Mafioso (as if they aren't scary enough alive, jeez-a-loo) who's after her with revenge on his expired brains. She has no resort but to request aid from a vampire Senate (do they have undead WMDs too?) with undead senators (and undead interns as well, I presume) who won't help her for nothing (incurable politicians). And then (wait for it...... here it comes.... the romance interest) Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire - and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay. (Ooooh! that sound girly enough?)

Smart quips aside, it does sound interesting and far from run of the mill. If I read it, you'll know it.


Now, on to the disappointment part. As I've mentioned before, I'm an ardent Jeffrey Archer fan and have been for years. I was really looking forward to reading "False Impression", his first release in quite some years. I did read it and boy, was I disappointed. First time Archer readers will undoubtedly think I'm crazy. Perhaps I am .... or perhaps I've just been spoilt by the high-standard of writing Archer displayed in classic books such as "Kane and Abel", "Not a Penny More..." etc. His fountain of words seem to have dried up with his prison bout and this book is frankly not worth the 20+ dollars price. Don't get me wrong. The basic ingredients of a thriller are all there - the jet-setting plot, deadly assassins, obscene amounts of money, a beautiful do-gooder, a studly lawman and an utterly villainous villain. And yet, it lacks that certain something that made Archer's previous books shine like a full moon on a dark night. What that indefinable quality is I can't say, but I do know this book doesn't have it.


Now on to the 'More' Part. Of my book picks and Penguin Putnam picks, so far I've received the Jennifer Colt books and a couple of others for review. Smashing good reads, both the Colt books. Reviews coming up later.

I never got the Patricia Briggs book for review despite repeated requests to her publisher - very disappointing. I mean, first Penguin Putnam don't
even give this book a decent synopsis on their website and now they don't send out review copies. How do they expect lesser-known authors to hit the best-seller lists unless they themselves aren't willing to publicize a bit and tell readers about them in the first place? Don't they know, newbie authors are stars in the making?

Unsung Books

Two things happened yesterday, apart from the whole blog template saga you can read about below. I heard from author Lynn Michaels (see previous post) and read about an interesting "unsung" award in a yahoo group I belong to. The reason I mention these two apparently different things in the same breath is because of what they share - namely the "unsung" part.

As I've mentioned before, I particularly liked Lynn's "Mother of the Bride" which I thought was a rollicking good read with some surprising elements. (Want to know what? Like I'll read and tell! GO read the book.) I felt it was way better than some highly-publicized chick-lit books released at around the same time. Imagine my surprise when I talked to my friends, ardent romance fans since long before I got hooked, and they'd never even heard of her. Same with some other reviewer colleagues of mine. Even I myself had never heard of her when I picked up MOTB. It was pure chance that I did, but I'm glad of it. I went back and picked up "Honeymoon Suite" as well and even that was a winner.

That set me wondering - in today's age of publicity and hype, how many more such wonderful authors slip through the cracks all because no one trumpets about them? How many more "UNSUNG" books, bookworms like me miss out on, each and every day? (I believe I'm channeling Carrie Bradshaw here)

I thought I knew about them all. After all, I'm on countless author and publisher mailing lists, get book news from publicists and agents all the time, etc. But no single place tells me about all the books and genres I'm interested in, upcoming and otherwise. Amazon is a good place, but I don't want to and don't have time to click link after link after link just to find out who the publisher is or even the release date! Just a simple table would be great but as I said, no such central place - at least not to my knowledge.

Getting back to the original 'unsung' issue which started this rant - in one of the countless YGs I belong to, author Cyndi Redding mentioned that she's decided to create an 'Unsung Book Award' - a personal award for books that have captured her attention and forced her to cut other priorities short so that she can continue to read. She was talking about ebooks, but it sounds like quite an interesting concept overall. I know there are industry awards galore, books feted in this conference or that and countless bestseller lists. Frankly, not many of those make my personal bestseller list. But which ones would YOU personally like to recommend?

Off the top of my head and not including the ones above, these made my short list -

1) Harry Potter books, the latter ones especially. [The darker, the more intense, the better.]

2) Da Vinci Code ['nuf said]

3) Crichton's Prey [frightening concept that hints darkly of things to come]

4) Books in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series [to read them is to get hooked]

5) The Sano Ichiro series books by Laura Joh Rowland [Japanese historical mystery series]

6) P.G. Wodehouse books [penultimate British comedy]

7) R.K. Narayan books [Indian author with his own inimitable style]

8) The initial Stephanie Plum series books [The recent ones seem to be barely coasting along on the hype built by the original books in the series. But that's issue for blog another day]

I'll add more as and when I remember them.

---- Addendum -----

In reply to an email I sent asking her permission to blog about her award idea, Cyndi Redding not only graciously consented, but also informed me -"I'm probably going to be making this whole idea into a yahoo loop! That way readers can share some of their favorites with me and with each other! I'm looking at April as a start up date, and will post more about how to sign up later. I've already contacted the first recipient and she's delighted to accept."

Wonderful news, Cyndi!

Long Time, No Update

As one can see, I've been busy. No, not busy writing blog entries - nope, I'm notoriously lazy in this aspect. But rather with blog tweaking! It may be boasting (well, it is) but I tweaked and tweaked so much and so well that my blog template didn't resemble anything of the original. But just as I was satisfied with the end result than I came to realize my blog was being plagued by the mother of all code errors - aka, it looked different (vastly different) in different browsers, particularly in Internet Explorer.

I gave up IE about a year ago and switched to Mozilla's Firefox. I love FF, although it too has its quirks. But nothing as bad as IE. Because of my browser switchover, I had no idea that on IE my blog looked like crap - entries were haphazard, sidebar disappeared altogether, images were wonky etc. It looked perfect and worked perfect in Firefox, but not in IE. (Bill Gates, r u reading this? If not, somebody please let him know!) Since most people are still IE users, I decided to tweak my template some more to make it readworthy in both browsers.

So, for the two weeks I've been trying to do this and failing in either one or the other browser. Finally I had enough and today I decided to switch templates altogether. This one looked okay in both browsers. But then I had to import the changes I'd made, particularly to the sidebar. No way was I going to give up all those hours of research (aka plagiarism - can it be called that if the codes are being offered freely?) and painstaking tweaking and leave those adorable little gimmicky things behind. And that's what I've been doing all day today. Time well spent, eh?

I think it looks okay now. To readers it may not look like I did much, but believe me, I've sweated bullets over the coding of this blog, particularly since I'm no Html expert (I meant Ajax ... oops Ruby... or whatever!). I'm particularly proud of the flipping book covers in the sidebar, under the heading "Currently Reading", something I'd been attempting a long time and failing. Again, it may seem simple but trust me, it isn't. In my case, the flipping book covers are thanks to a nifty little Java Script I found here. My heartfelt thanks to the coders and all their hard work and even more importantly, for offering it freely!

On a sidenote - in the middle of all this hard work and other stuff going on in my life, I did manage to squeeze in reading some books and also managed to send in their reviews . More on that later. Right now, I'm off to a late, late, laaate lunch. More like, linner (lunch+dinner)! As my spouse is wont to say, until later - Ciao!

A New Author

Today I discovered a new author's website. More than her books, it was the eye-catching website that made quite an impression on me. The lady who is almost bubbling over her deep-cut gown, the rake in the background, a dagger pinning a wanted notice and the dark broody atmosphere hint heavily of love, lust and peril in a historical context. Whew, all this cloak and dagger stuff is still as hot as ever. And just about compels me to pick up her books - such is the power of websites!

New authors, take this not-so-subtle hint, Pleeaassee. There have been times I've skipped an author's upcoming book just because I couldn't find any information on the writer and/or their work, other than a brief blurb out on the www.

Here's a look at Jeane Westin's effective new
website :

Darkyn Books

Author Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series of books (Signet Eclipse) is a new variation to the true and tried vampire novels, although its more in the vein of being a paranormal romance rather than true horror. Here Vampires are the ones being hunted by a rogue brotherhood of priests. Dr. Alexandra Keller and through her, her brother who is a lapsed priest, are inadvertently sucked into this 'to death' battle in the first book "If Angels Burn".

Now Alex is herself a vampire but not exactly one - the 'why' and 'how' constitutes one of the ongoing mysteries of this series. Together with her lover Michael Cyprien, a vampire leader, she fights off priests and tries to rescue crazed vampires on the run while struggling to find proof to validate her rather radical theory that vampirism is caused by a virus and thus can be cured. This constituted the second book, "Private Demon" wherein the main protagonists were a couple other than Michael and Alex.

And today I saw on her website the welcome news that the third book "Dark Need"will be out in June '06. Even before reading the synopsis, I was determined to get my hands on the book thanks solely to the hunk whose half a face constitutes the cover. The first two covers had guys who didn't really appeal to me, although the first had beautiful eyes. Their skin color was wonky, although seeing as they're vampire heroes it was befitting. But this one... This one had my heart thudding! I think it's a combination of the dark background and photo of the hunk who's skin is almost luminous. Take a look :

From the synopsis, it looks to feature a female cop, Samantha and a sexy nightclub owner, Lucan, another vampire. Now if memory serves me right, Lucan has played small but significant roles in the first two books and they've both been negative ones. Wonder how he redeems himself in this story. But seeing as another vampire stars in this book, it begs the question why the hot model who portrays him on the cover has glowing skin instead of a pasty complexion.

Looking forward to.... (Penguin books)

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
(March 2006 Putnam Adult)

To paraphrase, Alice the archeologist stumbles across a cave in the Pyrenees mountains that harbors two moldering skeletons, the pattern of a labyrinth etc. (so far so good, although it does beg the question, why an archeologist is climbing up mountains when she should by rights be digging.) Eight hundred years earlier, Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father as he leaves to fight the crusaders. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. In the present, another woman sees the find as a means to the political power yada yada yada...

Comments : Ok, shades of "Da Vinci Code" and/or Indiana Jones anyone? This centuries-old mystery remains evergreen to this day as evidenced by the spate of movies, articles, books etc it's inspired over eras. And while Dan Brown marinates ideas about his next book and J.K.Rowling threatens to end the HP series, I'm forced to look for alternatives. And this book seems as good way as any to do it.

Daughter of the Bride by Francesca Segre
(March 2006 Berkley)
When her mom calls to say she’s getting married, Daniella is both thrilled and devastated. Mom, who’s pushing sixty, is about to walk down the aisle for the second time, and Daniella, at twenty-nine, hasn’t come close to saying "I do" once. Even worse, Mom insists Daniella help plan the big bash. Daniella struggles to make sense of her own frustrating love life—all while juggling her high-pressure TV job and hectic dating adventures.

Comments : I've seen 'Father of the Bride' 1 and 2 (totally funny the first one, second was so-so) and read 'Mother of the Bride' by Lynn Michaels (another good author but not so well-known, wonder why?). So why not read this and experience it from this POV as well.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
(Feb 2006 Penguin Classic)
From the famous episodes of the whitewashed fence and the ordeal in the cave to the trial of Injun Joe, it's redolent of life in the Mississippi River towns in which Twain spent his own youth. A mix of hilarious childish stories with adult undercurrents, this new edition includes a new text and, for the first time, explanatory notes.

Comments :
Who hasn't read this timeless story? Ok, now that was a rhetorical question, but if you really haven't, then go right now and buy it. It's well worth the effort.

The Old Wine Shades by Richard Jury
(Feb 2006 Viking Adult)

The latest in New York Times bestselling author Martha Grimes's Richard Jury mystery series begins when a stranger, Harry Johnson sits down next to Richard Jury as he’s drinking in a London pub called the Old Wine Shades and spins a complicated story about a good friend of his whose wife and son (and dog) disappeared one day as they were viewing property in Surrey. They’ve been missing for nine months—no trace, no clue, no lead as to what happened. Jury is skeptical, until his investigation reveals all seems to be just as Harry described it. What really happened that day? And just why did the dog alone come back?

Comments : I've become a recent fan of this series after I reviewed a couple of these stories. While I found the books fascinating while reading, I somehow seem to forget to put them on my TBB list each and every time. Wonder if that's because it's a mystery series along the lines of Agatha Christie only more placid (a cozy, I think that's what it's called) or because it's a British series or perhaps, to quote Denny Crane (Boston Legal), "it's mad cow disease!". In any case, I'm sure the loss is all mine. Hopefully I won't miss this one.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
(Feb 2006 Ace)
Mercy Thompson's life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy isn't exactly normal herself.

Comments : Ok, now this little itty-bitty blurb (why, was Penguin Putnam running out of server space?! And that too with the novel set to release at the end of this week - tut, tut) was enough to arouse my curiosity and leave me dissatisfied at its paucity. So I went looking for more info and found it an entire chapter to preview here. It sounds fascinating and since I'm not yet sated with the growing paranormal offerings, this one is going straight on my TBB list. Wonder why there hasn't been much publicity about this book or at least, none that I've heard or read of anyway.

Huh, only 5?! Surely I missed some. I MUST have! Be back with more offerings soon.

Here's something to begin the New Year with. (oh, Happy New Year, yay!)

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

Mine was : "I nodded towards Quinn."

Curious to what book that line is from? Hmmm. to tell or let you google it. ;)

Found this at
Miss Snark's loverly blog. And curiosity made me run for the book beside my chaotic desk. But what book to choose since so many reside with bookmarks in them?

About Me

Hi, I'm Rashmi and this is my blog which has undergone various transformations through the years. I blog about whatever interests me, and when I have some free time, a commodity that has become increasingly precious. Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to leave a comment.

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