Thursday, May 31, 2007

Elizabeth Examines Testosterone Poisoning in the Human Male

So, I came home from a hard day at the coffee shop the other day and my husband greeted me with a happy smile. “Guess what I did today?”


“Pulled all the poison ivy in the front yard!” He grinned like a lunatic. A lunatic soon to be covered in oozing welts.

“You didn’t,” I replied, stunned yet again at my husband’s thought process. Or lack thereof.

I should probably say here that my husband is terribly allergic to poison ivy. Violently allergic. This is a man who can get a poison ivy rash simply by standing a hundred paces downwind of a lone plant.

“Yup,” he continued blithely. “I used rubber gloves. But then I noticed a couple of plants that I’d missed so I wrapped a plastic grocery bag around my hand and pulled them. I’m pretty sure I got them all.”

“Oh, god,” I moaned.

This little story leads neatly into my topic for today: fatal and near-fatal testosterone poisoning in the human male. I got to contemplating this subject when I was researching dueling for my third book, The Serpent Prince. Amazingly, I ran into a veritable goldmine of Stupid Male Behavior in History. Such as…

The year was 1613, the gentlemen in question were Edward Sackville, the Earl of Dorset and Lord Edward Bruce. Both men were interested in the same lady, Venetia Stanley, and naturally they decided to settle who would wed her by dueling. But dueling was very much frowned upon by the king at that time, so first they had to travel to The Netherlands. There they fought with rapiers. Dorset started off fairly badly by immediately receiving a sword thrust through his chest. You might think that would be the end of the whole thing right there, but if you did, you would be a) a female and b) not taking into account testosterone. Dorset kept fighting, in the process losing a finger. At one point, both duelist were locked together by their blades with each refusing to give ground. Eventually Dorset wrestled his blade free and stabbed Bruce twice, killing him. Dorset returned to England in triumph—only to find that Miss Stanley had married a third man in his absence.



Monday, May 28, 2007

Celebrating a new release: Over Her Head

Blatant self-promotion here, but I can't help it! My fourth women's fiction release, Over Her Head, came out last week and I've just gotta tell you about it. It’s the story of Laurie Hale, a small-town mom and community leader whose life is perfect--until her teenage daughter, Anna, is accused of murder.

The book was inspired by a real murder than happened years ago at my junior high school. A swarm of teenagers surrounded a girl who was trying to get into their clique and they beat her nearly unconscious under a bridge (the same bridge I used to cross twice a day to get to school). Then two of them took her out into the water and drowned her--trying, I imagine, to cover their tracks.

I was so horrified and emotional about this when I read about it in the paper that I got cold chills--which is also what happens when I know I’m going to write about something. The story percolated for ten years while I was writing other things, and I thought, What if a mother found out her daughter was in a swarm like that--and did nothing to help? What would that do to their relationship? What would happen to their standing in the community? The church? How would it affect their family and the marriage?

And Over Her Head began to script itself in my brain, with the result that, a year later, it's on the shelves! Reviews have been really good so far--so I hope readers enjoy it, too!

"As tragedy unravels a community and a church, a good woman is forced to face the stark truth of her own faith in Shelley Bates's Over Her Head. Once more, Shelley has created a compelling story of crisis and spirit." --bestselling author Mary Jo Putney

“Every mother and her teen daughter should read Shelley Bates’s Over Her Head together. And dads, too. Powerful. Moving. Uplifting.” --Lyn Cote, author of The Women of Ivy Manor series

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Will Write for Wine podcast

A few months ago, the fabulous, Rita award-winning author Lani Diane Rich and I were chatting about our diametrically opposed writing processes. Somehow that conversation turned into, “Hey, we should do a podcast about writing.” Okay, Lani said that. I panicked. I’m a writer, not a speaker. In fact, speaking live is probably my biggest fear behind spiders and rejections.

But after several days of this, I finally relented and agreed to do a podcast even though I had no idea how this miracle of technology worked. Lucky for me, Lani handled all the audio stuff. I picked up the designing, website and MySpace. That much I could do. Plus I really like wine.

Yet the whole time we were birthing the Will Write for Wine podcast, I kept thinking, “Do I know enough about writing to be of any use to anyone?” Granted, I’ve been doing this nine years now, but that in no way makes me an expert. I still learn new things all the time.

Regardless, on March 10, 2007 we launched our first weekly podcast. From the beginning, we wanted it to be entertaining above all else with a little about wine, a lot about writing and even more about what it’s like to be a writer—the good, the bad and the ugly.

We have shows on Craft and Industry for writers, and the Writer’s Life for readers. We have Movie Nights where we analyze the story-telling elements of a particular movie like The Princess Bride or Finding Nemo. We have Writer Improv nights where even we don’t know what’s going to happen. Plus in every episode we try a new wine, swap Killer Words (where we try to stump each other), present We Recommends (our favorite stuff), answer Listener questions, and tally up our writing progress. There's also a monthly contest and really cool tunes. Through all this, we laugh and giggle and make fun of each other and have a great time.

So if you want to learn a little and laugh a lot, check out Will Write for Wine podcast. You can even friend us on our MySpace page. It’s free, and it’s easy. ;D

Until next time!
Samantha Graves

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Brides!

I have giddy good news. I just sold too more books to Grand Central for my Wedding Veil Wishes series. I’m so excited. In publishing you’re never sure of you’re going to make another sale, even after you’re well established. THERE GOES THE BRIDE sold well enough to get me a new contract and I want to thank all you readers for that. You’re golden!

Here’s the preview for book #2 Tish’s story--ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY out January 2008.

Legend claims this antique Irish wedding veil can grant your heart’s deepest desire. But be careful what you wish for…

Wedding videographer Tish Gallagher is at the end of her rope. Her video business is about to go bust. She’s just spent her last buck on non-returnable (but oh so fabulous) shoes. And her most sustainable relationship is with a pint of Haagen-Dazs. So she makes a wish on the lucky wedding veil to get out of debt…and sees the man she never stopped loving, her ex-husband, secret service agent Shane Tremont. Sure, their chemistry was off-the-charts sizzling hot, but their clashes were legendary and no amount of longing will change that.

So when her dream job of recording the first daughter’s wedding appears out of the blue, Tish knows it’s her only shot to get out of the red. Just one teensy glitch: Shane is the groom. From the moment they see each other, she knows nothing’s changed—the same old black magic is still between them, just as irresistible and potent as ever. But he’s promised to another and Tish has been burned before. Will she always be…


Book # 3 is the part of the new contract. It’s Rachael’s story. No title or release date yet, but here’s a preview.

Born in Valentine, Texas on Valentine’s Day, starry-eyed schoolteacher, Rachael Henderson is fed up! After being jilted at the altar—twice and learning that her parents’ fairytale thirty year marriage is over, she’s determined once and for all to cure her naive belief in happily-ever-after. From now on, she’s a cynic to the bone and she’s out to spread the prosaic gospel by writing a tell-all-book about her frustrating adventures in love and starting the founding chapter of Romanceaholics Anonymous. And nothing is going to stand in her way—not the romantic citizens of her hometown, not her shocked family and friends and certainly not the delicious temptation of Valentine’s sexy new sheriff.

With his knowing smile and unshakeable demeanor, war hero Brody Carlton is the best sheriff Valentine has ever had. He’s smart, sensible and handsome, but Brody has no illusions about his town or about love. His ex-wife broke his heart when he returned home from Iraq, minus a leg, to find a Dear John letter pinned to the bathroom mirror. Secretly, he’s behind Rachael’s anti-romance campaign one hundred percent. He’s only goal is to keep the peace. But that’s getting harder and harder to do as Rachael inflames a passionate tug-of-war between cynics and romantics in their hometown.

But as people take sides and the battle lines are drawn, the quaint little hamlet suffers. The town’s largest employer produces Valentine’s Day novelties and the tourism money that the town bring in on their annual February 14th festival supports local businesses throughout the year. To reunite his hometown, Brody realizes he must turn on the charm and convince Rachael that passion is all it’s cracked up to be. No small task for this romantic misanthrope. Except something strange is happening to Brody. He’s starting to believe in the power of true love himself.

Thanks again everyone for buying THERE GOES THE BRIDE and making Rachael’s story a reality.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Change is Good!

My whole growing up years were ones with change built in. As an Army brat (meaning my dad was an officer in the US Army) we moved frequently and we faced new places, new homes, new schools and friends. I would not trade that life for anything, but it did leave me with a certain ambivalence about change. I both love it and dread it!

I've lived in my present house for all the years of my children's growing up, for example, and have been loathe to move to a bigger, newer house as so many do in the DC suburbs. And my sisters live nearby, equally as settled into houses and not moving anywhere! Still, I sometimes yearn to pick up stakes and try someplace completely new.

There is something exciting about change. It is like having a chance to begin all over again, to see new things, have new experiences. When I took up romance writing, I didn't know all the changes it would bring into my life, all the new friends, new travel, new and exciting experiences. Wonderful changes to my humdrum life!

This has been a big year of change for those who publish us here on this blog. I can imagine our editors have experienced the ambivalence of change. In about a year's time they have changed to a new corporation (Hachette), new name (Grand Central Publishing), and now new offices near Grand Central Station.

So the name of our blog changes too! I think Grand Central Cafe is a perfect name. This blog should be a place to relax, sip your coffee or tea or whatever beverage you choose and spend time with new and old friends!


* Grand Central Station photo from *Coffee photo from

Friday, May 18, 2007

And the Winner Is...

The winner in the re-name the Warner Women blog contest is definitely us because you guys did such an awesome job--it was REALLY hard to pick a winner. (For those coming late to the show, Warner Books has been re-named Grand Central Publishing, hence the need for the new name for this blog.) Clearly, some of you should be writers...or at the very least copywriters.

After much polite (and not so polite) discussion, the judges decided.

The new blog name is Grand Central Café. And wait'll you see the new template that our very own Michelle Rowen is putting together. It's cozy and warm and definitely a place you'll want to spend lots of time!

Thanks again, all of you. It was a great effort and we're touched that so many of you responded.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The appeal of Pirates

My grandsons have been reminding me that the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie is coming out soon. The reminder is unnecessary. I have May 25th circled on my calendar, though I'll probably wait until the following week to go see it, when I can have most of the theater to myself (early afternoon showing).

Obviously, the boys and I have different reasons for wanting to see the movie. They like the action. They want to know what new monsters the characters will have to face. They think the ships are way cool.

I'm almost content just to stare into Captain Jack's eyes.

But as a writer, I'm doing a character study. Yes, this is how I tell myself I'm actually working while drooling over Johnny Depp. I swear, this character has fascinated me from the moment I watched him sail into port in a sinking boat, his posture erect, his expression letting everyone know that he'd planned to arrive at the dock in just this way.

Captain Jack Sparrow is elegant and rough. He possesses several flaws and quirks. He's a Pirate through and through, and yet we see him as a loveable rogue. Obviously, I'm completely hooked and anxious to see how Jack turns out in the end.

What do you think? Can Captain Jack be redeemed? Will he get the girl? Do we want him to?

Shari Anton

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

Yes, mea culpa--my blog is late. But I have a good excuse... I was wandering along the beach with my mom, my husband, and my kids.

Okay, maybe that doesn't SOUND like a good excuse, not as good as, say, my house burned down or my malaria kicked up or I went into labor. But it was a very important walk on the beach.

You see, it was Mother's Day, and the planets happened to align this year. My kids came home from college for the weekend. My husband was on a rare reprieve from touring. And my mother, who lives eight hours away, chose this week to visit. The Pacific Ocean was calling, and I eagerly rounded up my family, abandoning my computer in search of the perfect tide pool.

Believe it or not, sometimes writing–whether it's a novel or a blog–isn't always the most important thing in the world to me. And that's probably as it should be.

After all, my Muse needs to be fed once in a while. And she likes nothing better than a healthy serving of real family values and the great outdoors.

Sometimes we writers get stuck behind our desks, staring at a sterile screen, waist-deep in research books when what we really need to spark our writing is a nice stroll on the beach with Mom.

How about you? How was your Mother's Day? Got any pictures you'd like to share?

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007

Cinematography--Richard Campbell
Song--"Rain" by Brynna Campbell

Thursday, May 03, 2007

And they're off....

Those of you not lucky enough to live in Louisville, Ky, probably do not realize just how big of a deal The Kentucky Derby is.

It is so fabulous that every year, on the first Saturday in May, we can pretend that we have something in common with Hollywood. During my years in Louisville, I've seen Joan Rivers, Teri Hatcher, Lynda Carter (more beautiful than you realize), George Foreman, John Corbett, George Strait, Robert DeNiro and Albert Brooks. I narrowly missed George Bush, Jessica Simpson, Ed Harris, Jack Nicholson, and other assorted stars.

How big of a social event is the Derby? Anna Nicole Smith met the father of her daughter here at a Derby party. Who knew THAT would be the entertainment news story of the decade?

The biggest celebrity expected in town for tomorrow's big race is the Queen of England.

Now, in my mind, that counts as serious star power. (Lynda Carter? At this point in her career, I'm not so sure.) I delight in reading about the royals and love a good royal scandal. My first book, Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle, is a parody of royal biographies.

Here's what the Queen and I will have in common this weekend. We will both be wearing hats. And the story of my hat shopping tells you something about how big of a deal the Derby is.

I went out to select a white and black hat to match my white and black dress. But when I started looking at one particular white hat, with a black and white ribbon, I suddenly thought I remembered buying something much like this a few years earlier. So I punted and went home to go through my closet. I DID have a white hat. The ribbon wasn't right at all, but could be replaced. The really bad news? The hat was ivory, not pure white.

I carried the hat into where my husband was and held it up, explaining my sad plight. I expected him, being a guy and not a particularly fashionable one, to laugh off my concern that ivory and white do not match.

He did not.

"These are the best Derby seats we've ever had," he said. "That hat won't do at all. You're just going to have to go shopping again tomorrow."

And THAT is how big of a deal the Derby is, here in Louisville, Ky.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Contest: Win Free Books and a Cool Hat by Re-naming the Warner Women Blog

Warner Books has a new name--Grand Central Publishing! So now, the Warner Women Blog needs a new name too. Think you're up for the challenge?

Suggest a new name for the blog. Just enter it in the comments section below (click on "comment" and go for it.) If you're the first one to suggest the name that gets picked, you'll win five free books and this awesome Grand Central hat, modeled here by Fuzzy, the diet Coke addict bear.

The name doesn't have to be a riff on Grand Central to win the contest. In fact, some of our fav blog names (trashionistas, literary chicks) have great names without including the publisher name. But then, there are the Avon Ladies, who do use their publisher's name and do it quite well. Anything goes in this contest!

I am VERY jealous of whoever wins, as these are some awesome free books to win. And the hat's not bad either.

(These books are in fact, all the same size. I just stole the covers from all over the place and they came out different sizes. Sorry about that.)

Anyway, have fun and play nice! Or better yet, don't play nice...

Good luck! We'll pick a winner May 18th.

--Diana Holquist

Make Me a Match, in stores now
Sexiest Man Alive, coming Oct 07
watch my new book trailer video!