Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Growing readers for life

A topic recently came up on another blog from a soon-to-be new mom who was asking about good books for children. Talk about a trip down memory lane.

You see, I started a library of reading books while I was pregnant for my first, and I read to my kids every night from the day they were born. We did this for years and years. They loved bedtime because we'd all cuddle up on our bed in our jammies, and I'd read to them. It was a wonderful way for them to unwind and get ready to sleep. Today, they are 14 and 16 and have an absolute love for reading and books. I may be wrong, but I think this has to do with the bedtime stories. :)

Here's my list of their favorites:

The Poky Little Puppy
Dr. Suess One Fish Two Fish
Dr. Suess Fox in Sox
Dr. Suess Hop on Pop
Dr. Suess The Foot Book
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
The Shoemaker and the Elves
My First Counting Book
Scuffy the Tugboat
Strawberry Shortcake books
Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit
Winnie the Pooh
Rainbow Brite books

I had forgotten how much I loved these stories too, and ended up weeping by the time I finished the list. Okay, except for Fox in Sox, because that one was HARD to read.

If you wish to add to this list, please do so and I'll pass the full list onto the mom-to-be.

Until next time,
Samantha Graves

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Transitions Suck...Or Do They?

I’ve just turned in my next romantic suspense and I’ve hit that always fun phenomena called “Transitioning.” This is the time when I wander around, waiting for revisions, not ready to start a new project but not finished with the old. Sometimes I have a vague idea of what I want to do next, sometimes I don’t have a clue, and once in a blue moon I think I know, hands down, what the next book will be. Which usually means I don’t. But that’s a tale for another time.

Here’s the thing: this Transitioning is hard. For me it involves puttering around, surfing the net--supposedly for book-related research, but usually ending up on YouTube—doing more laundry than I care to, and watching lots of TV. All the while this black cloud--not too dissimilar from that scary smoky thing on Lost--hovers nearby, and from within a wicked witch voice whispers, “you have a proposal deadline, my pretty” over and over. Eventually—like the night before its due (or so it seems)—I manage to grab onto something that becomes, miracle of miracles, my next book. Sometimes a news article catches my attention, sometimes a magazine photo, or a lyric, a snippet of conversation, or, as in the case of my upcoming book, a legend in a tour book. How it all comes together is, well, a mystery, as Thom Stoppard says in Shakespeare in Love. But until it does, there’s always uncertainty. Will it come together? How? When? And that fabulous, panic-tinged question: What if it doesn’t?

I suspect Transitioning is hard no matter who you are or what transition you’re going through. High school to college, single to married, married to children, children to empty nest. So here I am, smack dab in the middle of my Big T. Where are you? And what do you do to make those transitions as smooth and panic-free as possible?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Celebrating Love

Ahhhh, love. I just rewarded myself for turning in my revised manuscript with an afternoon of watching "Pride and Prejudice" -- the Kiera Knightly, Matthew Macfadyen version. I think I'll make it a sending-in-the-book tradition; my reward at the end of the endless hours working on what I'm always certain will truly be a never-ending novel.

I adore Pride and Prejudice. Naturally, Jane Austen was the master, but I believe this is my favorite.

Could there be a more perfect kiss than the one at the end of that movie? I'm all warm and gooey inside. Too bad the cupboard is bare (also a sending-in-the-book tradition) and I'll be heading out to the grocery store instead of indulging in something totally romantic....

I used to think that no one could beat Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Man was I wrong. Matthew Macfadyen was magnificent.

So, although I believe this is old territory for this blog, I still love the debate. And I'm in the mood for romance. Everyone log in:

Best movie kiss.

Best Mr. Darcy.

Best romance ever written.

Best romantic movie ever made.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Shari is packing!

I'm not going far this time, and I'm taking the car so packing should be easier.

Early this afternoon, a friend and I are headed north to Green Bay, WI, for the annual WisRWA conference. It's being held in a Raddison Hotel that's adjacent to Onieda Bingo and Casino, so if I'm not where someone thinks I'm supposed to be (naturally, I'll go to several sessions), all they need do is find a certain Hot Penny machine :). Truly, this conference is always wonderful and fun so I'll be hanging out with my chapter members more than with my favorite slots.

Barbara Vey will be there so I'm sure she'll be doing drive-by videos to post all weekend at Beyond Her Blog for you to check out. She also did a lovely blurb on MAGIC IN HIS KISS today. Thank you, Barbara!

Back to packing.

I remembered to put together a basket full of goodies that will be raffled off for charity. It's already in the trunk of the car along with a bag full of stuff I need to take along for the booksigning (books, bookmarks, two pens, Autographed Copy labels). I'm taking along my laptop so I can check email and maybe venture onto several web sites. Into the trunk it goes.

Okay, I had to move the basket (why did I make such a big basket? oh, for charity, right) toward the back of the trunk and tuck the laptop in between the basket and the booksigning bag so I can get the suitcase in there.

The above was the easy part. I'm only going for a weekend, two nights, so I want to take the small suitcase. Except I need to fit in four changes of clothes, two pairs of shoes, plus a bag with all the hair necessities, not to mention a well-equipped toiletries case. Hmmm - sure it'll all fit if I arrange it just right. No problem. And I'll even get it into the trunk and have room to put my friend's stuff in, too.

Sounds organized, doesn't it? Hear me laughing hysterically.

I will forget something. I don't know what yet, won't know until I need "it" that I'll realize I left "it" on the bathroom/kitchen/laundry room counter. Happens to me every time. Over the years I've forgotten makeup, or a curling iron, or deodorant. One year I had to call my husband to find out the details on my flight home because I forgot to take the itinerary with me. The worst, I think, was the trip I forgot to take underwear -- all of it.

In July, we're going on a two week trip to Alaska. The first week is on land at wilderness resorts, and the second is on a cruise ship. Should be interesting because there won't be a handy drug or department store. And don't tell me to make a list. Been there, done that, lost it.

Be honest, now. I know I'm not the only one who does this. Am I? Say it isn't so!!

Shari Anton
My Web Site
On MySpace

Monday, May 12, 2008

Outwit the Wench!

It seems while I’ve been out promoting DANGER’S KISS, my latest historical romance, my heroine Desiree has been up to a bit of mischief.

You see, Desiree is a medieval scam artist, sort of like The Artful Dodger, and when she crosses paths with Nicholas Grimshaw, the fiercest lawman in the shire, she discovers that if you play a game of chance, there are dangerous consequences. Is it sleight of hand or sleight of heart? It’s all revealed in DANGER’S KISS!

Think you can outwit the clever wench? Try Desiree’s amazing trick below (keep clicking on the arrow). You won’t believe your eyes! If you’re impressed, invite your friends to take the challenge. (I’m not responsible, however, for any money that might happen to change hands {wink}.)

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
DANGER'S KISS - Flirting with trouble May 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Author Photos of the Beautiful, Young, and Flawless (or, This is Not Me) by Diana Holquist

Last month, I had to get my author photo taken.

Grand Central Publishing was starting a new policy of putting author photos in the backs of books (hooray!). Also, just in case I haven't pimped it enough here yet, I needed a color photo for the Rita award ceremony, since Sexiest Man Alive, is a finalist for Best Single Title Contemporary.

Oh, had I not mentioned that Sexiest Man Alive finaled in the Rita? What a careless oversight. But I digress...

So, I started out on the journey that is modern photography.

First, I spent two days at the hairstylist/colorist/nail salon/etc. Let's not even talk about how much this all cost.

Then, on the day of the shoot, a truly lovely make-up artist , Emily, came to my house and put make-up on me for TWO HOURS. She assured me that the number of products (1,087) she used on me had nothing to do with the state of my appearance. This was just what you did. (Emily, did I mention, was very, very kind.)

When she was done, she held a mirror to my face and I screamed. I looked like a very, very old prostitute. But she assured me that this is how one must look in order to look natural on camera. Plus, maybe when we were done, I could go to downtown Philly and find a street corner and make up some of the cash I dropped at the salon....


Then, an unbelievably adorable photographer, Sarah, arrived. Bless her heart, she didn't scream when she saw me. She did, however, very politely but firmly refuse all the clothes I had picked out to wear. Emily went through my truly embarrassing closet (...gee, I do own a lot of sweatpants...) and she and Sarah discussed my pathetic clothing amongst themselves as if I weren't there. These women were very wise.

Then, we took pictures for two hours. Shot after shot after shot. At first, it was ridiculously embarrassing. Then, it started to get fun. This had NOTHING at all to do with the alcohol kicking in.

Well, not so much to do with alcohol kicking in.

Then, the retouching began. This, thank the lord, I didn't have to witness. But let me tell you, the me you see in that picture is the ideal me. The me I yearn to be if only I didn't keep losing sleep over all these nasty deadlines. The me that knows how to put on make-up and pick out clothes. My eight-year-old looked at the final picture, confused, and said, "did you wash your hair or something?" My eleven-year-old looked at it and said, "Your teeth aren't that white!" as if I were the worst kind of liar.


But in that picture, all is well and white and washed. In fact, I love that picture. Shall I post a picture without all the work so you can see the difference?

No way, baby.

(P.S.--If you look carefully in the background, you'll see what an awful mess my bookcases are. Couldn't retouch that away...)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Elizabeth Muses about Writing, Reading, and Her New Book

OMG, it's the first of May and I have a new book out. Not just a new book, but a new series, The Legend of the Four Soldiers, which will be either a quadrilogy, a quartet, or a four-book series, depending on your personal preference. And for anyone who reads Romantic Times BOOKreviews (*ahem*!) this is what the cover of To Taste Temptation looks like:

Just remember BLUE and you won't go wrong.

So anyway on to the topic of this post, which is how after you've spent months--sometimes years--writing a book and talking to the characters you've thought up out of thin air, that book gets published and somebody who is not even related to you reads the darn thing. For an author this can be a little, well, problematic. This is because the reader has her own history, life experience, and values, and what she reads in the book may not be what the writer thought she put there.

For instance.

In To Taste Temptation, my hero, Samuel Hartley, is a self-made Colonial with blunt manners and a down-to-earth approach to life. At least that's how I thought I'd written him. But already I've heard from reviewers who have called him things like brute--and this was a good review, mind you.

This is the point where I have to remind myself that once the book is written, once it's revised and edited and bound and sent out into the wide world, it no longer belongs to me, the writer. The published book belongs to the reader. I can't look over her shoulder and whisper, "Now this is how I meant this character to be." Nor should I. Reading a book is a very intimate experience. When it comes right down to it, it's just the reader and the words. I'm no longer in the picture. And if that reader thinks that Sam is a brute, well then she's right.

It's her book, after all.

Elizabeth Hoyt