Friday, November 30, 2007

Booksigning on Saturday!

This is an all day event, so put on your comfy shoes. Oh, and did I mention some authors will be doing readings? Yup, loads to do and you're in Manhattan, so attend a Broadway show while you're there...the strike is over. The details are:

December 1 10-6:00pm est - 20th Annual Independent Small Press Book Fair, 20 West 44th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), NYC, NY. 10036 w/a multitude of authors

Hope to see you there on Saturday, but if you can't make it then, still come and check out it out on Sunday.

UPDATE: Wonderful people, beautiful building, great location, oh yeah, this was a great event. I finally met the lovely Nicole and that made it even more special - she kindly fed my chocolate addiction as well, oh baby!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thursday 13 - #23!

I'm away right now so, before I leave, I thought I'd take a note from Susan at West of Mars, twist it around a bit, and list thirteen unknown qualities found in the male characters from my books. So, here we go:

1. Dirk Madison from The Painted Lady is a professional ice hockey player, a tough man's man, and his unknown is why he bought and lives in a grand old Victorian mansion. He was happy being single, pleased to answer to no one for his actions, then he met and fell for Saffron. The need to settle down with her, make a home and fill it with a family and laughter was overwhelming, but he wasn't afraid. The moment he saw the house, he knew it was the place for them and their future together.

2. Tilton Spidermach from Come, Sweet Creature seems like a real letch, his sexual excapades are always in the press, making Jena's job more difficult especially when trying to organize an event to raise money for a children's charity [in the story it goes unnamed but it's the Make a Wish Foundation]. The unknown about Spider is why the annual party is personally important to him - one of the few things in life that can turn him inside out is when the harsh reality of life takes the joy and childhood away from the young.

3. Selkirk MacLellan from Extreme Speed, Total Control very existence relies on him being in complete control. His a Formula 1 race car driver who drives at over 200mph, there is no room for second guessing a decision. Then one day he's faced with the fact he knows he was wrong and must be man enough to try and make it right with Lia. The unknown quality of Kirk is that he never thought he'd live long enough to retire from the track and definitely never believed he'd find a woman he loved so much he'd give up everything to have at his side.

4. Cooper Sayer from New Beginnings: Carpe Diem has the best of intentions to be a good man, fulfill his obligations to his superiors, and be all that he was brought up to be. It's the last bit that, with his strong moral code, that allows him to lie with ease, live two separate lives that are at war with each other, all so he can be with the woman he loves. The fact that he has a mother, father, and a multitude of siblings who have all chosen to deny his existence because he didn't conform to their easy acceptance of the state of their world is the unkonwn.

5. Luke MacAlister and Timu Tuhaere from An Invitation to the World: New Zealand are both rugby players who take pride in their physical prowress both on and off the field. Despite coming from different backgrounds, they are best friends and possess no jealousy when it comes to sharing Kiri. They were so devasted by her desertion, but had good friends that circled around them so their unknown, the serious drinking they sunk into, was never made public.

6. Vasiliy Beketov from An Invitation to the World: Russia is a smart, successful, busineman who makes a deal with his enemy that denies where he came from, but falls short of taking away everything else, including his ability to find love with Zura. What is unknown of Vasya is his childhood, it helps him survive these difficult times with his sanity intact. He was raised in the far north-east of Russia, the rim of Siberia, where life is a struggle for many. Those who survived and made it out, did so by being listening to their instincts.

7. Rick Milston from The Leather Bride is a successful architect who has everything going for him, professionally his career couldn't get any better. Personally, the woman who has his heart in her gentle hands, his perfect match, is also his weakness. He will do whatever he can to ensure her happiness, so what could possibly be missing from his life? What isn't known about Rick is that he used to be big into the BDSM lifestyle but walked away when he realized he wasn't getting out of it what he thought he would when he started. Mimi made it all feel right.

8. Yi Burton from An Invitation to the World 2: China made a big mistake when he allowed the job to involve the love of his life, Jia. He's terrified for her life and takes extreme measures to protect her, and thereby returning her to his side. What isn't known about Yi is that his own father and two brothers are members of the triad who threatened his woman's life. The informant included this information, but there was no doubt he'd protect his woman above all else.

9. Bodhi Burke from An Invitation to the World 2: India took on the challenge of expanding his families hotel chain around the globe. While mistakes were made during the early days of their marriage, he never lost sight of his goal, to love honor and cherish Sati. With that in mind, Bodhi's unknown is that he gave Sati's uncle a great deal of money, in return, the older man signed a document stating he, nor any other member of his family, would contact his niece or speak in public about her. It would be for her to make a connection or not, to do with her life what she wanted, to finally live for herself and not another.

10. Xer Rieh from Zandia has it all, including a chance to reshape the future. He has a clear idea of what he'd like to see and do for his world. You'd think all this power would make him sure of his path, but then Sui came into his life. Once that happens, he can think of nothing but keeping her and all that comes with her, at his side. What's unknown about Xer is that on this recent trip to Earth, sex, normally an exciting and frequent part of his life, was no longer something he he looked forward to - he was ripe for a change.

11. James and Thornton Michaud from Taming Marie Antoinette are twins and have many things in common, like their taste in women. The guys are doing so well with their career, they've had little time for anything else, then they meet Liana who make them work for more. Most people see how alike they are, this woman captures them by seeing their differences and expanding how they viewed their future. As expected, the twins unknown is the same, and yet for the first time, neither has confided in the other. The more they get to know their lover, the more they want with and from her, including settling into a life together, with kids, lots of kids.

12. Dale Smythe from the upcoming OohRah! is a soldier from his toes up to the top of his shorn hair. Strong and brave, he understands his role in the Marines is for life and has the rest of it planned out. After a talk with a friend, he see's changes need to happen, and makes them when Tashya comes running into his world. Dale's unknown is big, serious, and one he accepts but never allows into his concious, therefore, this is the only place you'll see it written down. He doesn't want to die and have no one morn him, miss him, cry tears for him as a lover gone, and dreams lost. The man may be a warrior, but he's a gentle soul at heart.

13. Courtland Dickerson from the upcoming Ride 'em had a difficult upbringing and made some unwise choices, before he turned himself around. Now he's back home and ready to make a fresh start a horse breeding business, something he'd always wanted to do. He's a man with kinky tastes and finds himself falling hard for Sunny. There is much to discover about their story of love, but one unknown about Court you won't find in this story is that he once let a photographer take nude shots of him for drugs. Personally he's ashamed, not of the pics because they're actually very good, but the reason why he did them is what he has a problem with. He doubts they'll ever see the light of day because he was under 18, but if they do, he's now in a place with life where it wouldn't matter.

So, do you know these guys a little better now?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Book Talk!

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, is one of my all time favorite books and I highly recommend it as a great read. This is a non-fiction account of a daughter, mother, and grandmother figuring out how to get along together while coming from their various eras. There's a great timeline giving what was happening personally and politically in China. The first paragraph of the Epilogue is what pulls you in to read about this family of strong women.

"I have made London my home. For ten years, I avoided thinking about the China I had left behind. Then in 1988, my mother came to England to visit me. For the first time, she told me the story of her life and that of my grandmother. When she returned to Chengdu, I sat down and let my own memory surge out and the unshed tears flood my mind. E decided to weite Wild Swans. The past was no longer too painful to recall because I had found love and fulfillment and therefore tranquility."

Wow! Well, I couldn't leave this wonderfully rich world behind so picked up Cao Xueqin's The Story of the Stone [also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber, volume 1 - The Golden Days]. Called a great novel of manners in Chinese literature, I struggled to get through, but I did. Then, for a trip I picked up volume 2 - The Crab-Flower Club, and my bookmark is still set to page 135. These books are beautifully detailed, most likely too much for me at that time in life. The Jia family is at the center, but my memory is that it was more about the son and how cherished and beloved he was.

Okay, so my second foray wasn't a success, but I was far from done. The next book I picked up was Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China by Sterling Seagrave. Oh man, yes, this was another gem! While this woman is often remembered as a monster, the book takes you to her beginnings:

"We do not even know her name. She was too private for that, and the world she lived in was uniquely designed to hide her behind multiple layers of court ritual and etiquette. Nobody ever spoke the name of the Son of Heaven or his wives, because they were demigods. She was born on November 29, 1835, the sme year as Robert Hart, somewhere in China, bu where exactly we do not lknow. Nor are we sure of her father's name or occupation, the name of her mother, or event the girl's mil-name, the name she was called as a nursing infant. She was an obscure daughter of an obscure Manchu officer and might have lived out her life in obscurity except that she was chosen to be one of the emperor's lesser concubines and had the good fortune to bear him his only surviving son. Thanks to Hart we know that she had three younger sisters and one brother who survived to adulthood. It is also a matter of record that she was fond of pretty clothes, Pekingese dogs, and chrysanthemums."

This non-fiction account of Tzu Hsi is simply rich. This woman went from being considered nothing to everything. What could possibly be next? I tried Marina Warner's The Dragon Empress, but it wasn't fulfilling so my quest for something more for the China section of my collection went unfulfilled for some time before it was broken.

While in Canada I was trolling through a bookshop and found Dragon of Heaven: The Memoirs of the Last Empress of China, story by David Bouchard and paintings by Zhong-Yang Huang. YES, finally, a scruptuous visual to go with all the words floating in my head. I love this book and often give it as a gift.

So, is my China collection closed?

Nope. This year the cutie bought me Madam Chiang Kai-Shek: China's Eternal First Lady by Laura Tyson Li. I haven't finished this book yet, time and work snuck up on me, but so far she's interesting. I'm already curious about her family so the next book might be The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave - I liked how he wrote the Dragon Empress so we'll see.

So there you go, another peek into a tiny part of my book collection.

Naughty Thought for Monday

Says it all really!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Booksigning on Saturday!

Actually there will be a discussion before the signing, so come with questions at the ready! The details are:

November 10 at 2:00pm est - Borders, 100 Viewmont Mall, Dickson City, PA, 18508 [outskirts of Scranton] w/Stella Price and Cat Johnson

Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Total blast! Sat at the front door and had chatted up a storm! Met reader Suzanne, can't wait to see her at RT :-) Made plans with management to come back in 2008.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Book Talk!

It's no secret I'm a bookie with varied tastes, and if you ever meet me, you'll know I love to talk about books. So, I thought I'd share a bit of my collection with you all, let you know why I've kept it, in some cases moved it 6000 miles away and then 3000.

Just because, I'm going to keep it random, I may talk about a them, a single book or a series, I guess it's however the mood suits. So let's get started.

Today, I thought I'd share one of my favorite books to get: A Child's Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson.

This is an edition from when I was little, hence no dustjacket [sigh, now I take the jacket's off before I read a book]. The drawings aren't my favorite, but this poem, The Unseen People, is one I remember reading over and over again. If ever you need a book for a child to be a keeper, look for this one.

I will sometimes buy multiple copies of the same book - after giving away over 3000 books a few years ago, I'm better at this, not perfect, but better - one of the good reasons to buy multiple copies is different illustrators. When I was younger and in Edinburgh, I came across a bookshop that had this "facsimile" edition, a beautiful book. The paper alone is like silk. Anyway, it was one of the few momentoes I carried home with me, oh, and I bought one for my sister and her kids. Perfect example of my one for me to see how it is and then one for them so they have their own copy - yes, they are older and know what I do and tease me about this, but I like my books to be loved by me :-), that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. The Rennie Mackintosh feel to the illustrations drew me in and said Scotland.

There is a third copy of this book in my collection and it's illustrated by Tasha Tudor, one of my favorite artists, but I'll speak more about her on another day. In the end, A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson is timeless and ageless.

Guy Fawkes Day!

November 5th is Bonfire night, a British celebration remembering the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. A group of English Roman Catholics organized and came up with a plan to destroy tyrannical rule by King James I of England and the Protestant Aristocracy. Guy Fawkes was the man chosen to blow up the Palace of Westminster [or the Houses of Parliament] but he was caught before this happened. After being tortured, he and other conspirators were found guilty of treason, they were hung, drawn and quartered. Apparently Fawkes escaped the hanging by getting free and jumping from the scaffolding and broke his neck. After that, he was still drawn and quartered.

It's not all doom and gloom for Guy Fawkes. He is credited with being “the only man to ever enter parliament with honourable intentions.” In 2002 he was 30th in the “100 Greatest Britons” and on the list of the 50 greatest people from Yorkshire.

Recently the festivities have made their way into popular culture beyond the British Isles. Two examples are a movie and book. The beginning of the movie V for Vendetta has an old rhyme that is often used to recall this incident. The full poem isn’t normally used, just the first bit, and sometime the second. When you read it you'll know why, it’s very inflammatory and no longer has a purpose. The cutie, who grew up knowing the first two verses, never knew the last until we saw it noted at an exhibition. So here it is in it’s entirety:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

There's another appearance of the Guy Fawkes Day celebrations found in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A muggle weatherman is reporting shooting stars are being seen all over Britain, and speculates some people are celebrating Bonfire Night a week early. Instead, it’s the wizarding world celebrating the disappearance of Lord Voldemort. And don’t forget Albus Dumbledor’s pet phoenix is called Fawkes.

So how does one celebrate Bonfire Night? Well, on the Fifth of November, once the sun has sunk, the bonfires, big and small, are lit in fields up and down the country. The guy is on the pyre before it’s set on fire and everyone stands around watching it burn. In northern England, Yorkshire, they have baked potatoes, parkin [a ginger cake with black treacle, or molasses], toffee apples, roasted chestnuts, beer and much more are all consumed in the cold damp air, long in to the night.

The “guy” plays a big part in the celebrations. Up until recent times, kids used to take the days leading up to Bonfire Night and make an effigy of Guy Fawkes, carry or wheel him around the neighborhood, knock on doors or ask people walking around for “a penny for the guy.” They’d spout off what they knew about the Gunpowder Plot, maybe sing a rhyme, and be rewarded with money. They used to spend it on fireworks but later it went toward sweets during the night.

Yes, we’ll be having a fire in the backyard with friends, a few pints, and some Oatmeal Parkin. The cutie made it yesterday and here’s the recipe:

5 oz dark syrup, or 4 oz golden syrup plus 1 oz black treacle
3 oz margarine
3 oz soft brown sugar
6 oz medium oatmeal
3 oz self-raising flour, sifted [1 1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate soda for American flour]
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of salt
1 small egg, beaten
1 dessertspoon milk

1. Preheat the oven to 275F.
2. Lightly grease s 6 inch cake tin.
3. Add syrup and syrup treacle into a saucepan with margarine and sugar, place over gentle heat until margarine is melted - no boiling.
4. Place oatmeal, flour, ginger, salt in bowl, then slowly add the syrup mixture until thoroughly blended.
5. Next, add beaten egg and lastly, the milk.
6. Pour into prepared tin and cook, middle of oven, for 1 1/2 hours - or until center feels springy.
7. Let the Parkin cool for 30 minutes before turning out. Don’t worry if the center sinks, this can happen.

This month we give thanks and celebrate with our family, why not expand it and immerse yourself in history, plots of murder, treason and more. Make some parkin, a cup of tea, and watch V for Vendetta.

Enjoy your Bonfire Night!

A bit of random ridiculousness...

I recently attended a wedding. It was an evening function so was in a bit of a panic about what to wear. For three weeks, on two different coasts, I shopped for a "cocktail" dress, maybe one that would be my staple little black number.

Nothing was up to snuff so I bought a sweater while to the left of us to wear over a little purple number I had - thought the cleavage was inappropriate for a wedding. Problem is, it didn't work with the dress, although it looks lovely with jeans :-)

On the way to the hotel, we stopped at a mall for a pair of jeans - we were leaving the next day for a trip and I had none without any holes. Found 2 pair of jeans and a beautiful black dress in less than an hour.

Why? Why, when you have the time to look, you find nothing, and when you have no time, you find exactly what you were looking for within seconds?