Another Box of Books

When I got home from work last night, I found a lovely box of books on my doorstep. Now, you might think, with all the (mostly free) books I brought home from the RWA conference, that I wouldn’t need to be book shopping again any time soon. (Well, no, if you stop by here often, you wouldn’t think that at all.)

most books 2Ha! I always need books. I’m a book junkie. And the August release of books in two series that I never miss sent me mousing over to Amazon a couple of weeks ago to order them: Paw And Order, the latest Chet and Bernie mystery from Spencer Quinn, and Death, Taxes, and Silver Spurs, the latest adventure of Tara Holloway, Diane Kelly’s intrepid (and armed) IRS Special Agent. Chet, Bernie, and Tara are among my very favorite book people (well, Chet’s a dog, but he’s still a favorite character) and I never miss their stories.

As long as I was there (and making sure to order enough for free shipping—I have yet to succumb to the lures of Amazon Prime, for fear I would never be able to tear myself away from all those videos), I ordered Kate Parker’s The Counterfeit Lady (the second installment in the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries) and Lauren Christopher’s The Red Bikini, a contemporary romance set on a California beach.

I’d heard through the RWA grapevine that the writers who went to Lisa Cron’s workshop were raving about it, and about her book, Wired for Story, so I ordered that, too. Haven’t cracked it yet, but a friend who has been reading it assures me that she’s gotten a lot of ideas from it. The subtitle, The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, is a bit intimidating (Brain Science? Really?), but I’m always up for a few nuggets of inspiration.

I wanted one more book from a series I’ve loved since its beginning, Marcia Muller’s The Night Searchers, the latest Sharon McCone mystery, but when I pulled it up on Amazon, it was listed at full price and with a possible two-week delay. Aha—published by Grand Central and caught in the ongoing feud between Amazon and Hachette.

So I moused on over to the Mystery Guild. I’ve belonged to the Mystery Guild and the Science Fiction Book Club since the pre-Internet days of the early 1970s, when I lived in a small town in Louisiana, thirty miles from the nearest book store (and short of money at that). Over at the Mystery Guild, I not only found The Night Searchers, but they were running a sale, so I preordered another series favorite, Margaret Maron’s latest Deborah Knott mystery, Designated Daughters, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ new release, Heroes Are my Weakness.

Then last weekend I went to a West Houston RWA meeting and bought three new books by chapter sisters: Sophie Jordan’s A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin (first in a new historical romance series), Shana Galen’s Love and Let Spy (third in the Lord and Lady Spy trilogy), and Heather MacAllister’s Taken By Storm (Harlequin Blaze romance).

Clearly, I’m still devoted to the paper book, but I’ve added several novels to my Kindle since the conference, too, some by friends, some through BookBub (even more temptation than the Kindle Daily Deal!). As soon as I find another day or two in the week to devote to reading, I’ll put up some more reviews.

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

Abibliophobia

More Book Shopping

Yesterday I didn’t go to the bookstore, because the bookstore, Katy Budget Books, came to me, or rather to the West Houston RWA chapter meeting, as they do most months.  So I came away from the meeting with four more books to read.

ScorchedOur guest speaker was Mari Mancusi, who gave an excellent presentation on World Building.  She describes her newly released book, Scorched, as “Terminator with Dragons,” in which two time-traveling boys come from the future to prevent a dragon apocalypse.  Now I do like a good dragon apocalypse story (just read Lorenda Christenson’s Never Deal With Dragons), but what really tempted me was the image of the last dragon egg in the world turning up in a run-down West Texas roadside attraction.

West Houston member Shana Galen’s new release, True Spies, also came home with me.  True SpiesShana mixes lots of action and a good dollop of humor into her historical romances, great fun to read.  This one is a follow up to Lord and Lady Spy; both are set in the Regency Era against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars.

The latest installment in West Houston member Kerrelyn Sparks’ wildly popular Love at Stake series is The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo (goodness, dragons seem to be trending here tonight), and I bought that, too, although I have to confess (Kerry knows this) that I’m way behind on this series.  Some of my friends write faster than I can read.  Kerry started this series with a handsome vampire who broke a fang one night and had to kidnap a lady dentist from an all-night dental clinic to get it fixed before sunrise (How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, published in 2005), and the current one is number fourteen.

Kerrelyn Sparks

Kerry also has a new historical novel out, Less Than a Gentleman, a belated sequel to The Forbidden Lady (which was originally published as For Love or Country in 2002).  These books are set in Revolutionary period America, an uncommon setting in the current market but one which I enjoy.

Now my only problem is to pick what to read next–after I judge some more contest entries, drag a completed manuscript out of Scrivener (I’ll let you know how that goes), and get back to work on my current manuscript.

 

Catching Up

Actually, I feel like I’ve been trying to catch up ever since I got back from California, and that was that was seven weeks ago!  But I’ve had a lot going on since then.  Let’s face it, life never really slows down, does it?  And would we really want it to?  All that busy stuff keeps us up and moving.  I haven’t been bored, I’ll say that much.

Last week I had a birthday–let’s not worry about which one it was–and Jo Anne, Sarah Andre, Lark Howard and I celebrated by driving out to Katy Budget Books for a launch party for our friend Shana Galen’s latest book, When You Give a Duke a Diamond.  It says a lot about Houston traffic that it took us about an hour and twenty minutes to get out to Katy at rush hour and about twenty-five minutes to get back two hours later.  But the time navigating through traffic (Jo Anne was driving, but she got a lot of advice from the back seat) was well spent.  At dinner later we realized that without our writing connections, the four of us would probably never have met, and that would have been a loss.  Lark gave us her take on the evening last week at Reading, Writing and Rambling, the blog she shares with our friend Pat O’Dea Rosen.

Later in the week I had a second birthday dinner with my next-door neighbor and her daughter, a lovely meal at a charmingly old-fashioned Italian restaurant, Antonio’s in LaPorte, Texas.  Seafood fettuccini with lemon garlic sauce, yum.  LaRue gave me this charming little porcelain kitten box.  It’s less than three inches long, so I’m not sure what it’s meant to hold, but for the moment it’s sitting on my monitor stand, after becoming yet another victim of my attempts at photography.

Books:  not much reading this week.  I did finish Tera Lynn Childs’ Just for Fins, the third book in her Young Adult mermaid trilogy.  I don’t read a lot of YA fiction, but I’ve enjoyed this series, a light paranormal tale set in Florida (and underwater, of course).  I started Cheryl Bolen’s Marriage of Inconvenience, which I am enjoying.  I have an early copy; the book will be released October 2.

TV:  This afternoon I finally watched last week’s SYTYCD, a pure performance episode.  I don’t know, or really care, who’s going to win the titles Tuesday evening (and I’ll have to record that one, too–I have a meeting that night), but all four of the remaining dancers are amazing.  Who would have thought a few weeks ago that Cyrus the Animator would be in the final four?

This evening, of course, I watched Hell on Wheels.  Another bloodbath.  This is the most violent show I watch–I was going to say the only one, but Major Crimes last week ran up a pretty substantial body count–and I remain completely hooked.  By the characters, and the background, not the bloodshed.

This week I’m looking forward to the return of Bones, the premier of Revolution and the season finale (alas) of White CollarWarehouse 13 has three more episodes to run, and Castle will be back next week.  There is no standard TV season these days, is there?  But there are always new stories to enjoy, and, I hope, to learn from.

RWA Conference: Thursday

On Thursday morning the Conference started in earnest, with half a dozen workshops to choose between in every time slot.  So where did I go first (after hitting the continental breakfast and chatting over coffee and muffins)?  Why, to the Book Fair, of course, where I bought three more books.  (Anyone who stops by here more than once a month knows how much I need more books.)

The first workshop I attended was a presentation by two authors and an editor from Sourcebooks on how sell the book you want to write, the first of many to include the pros and cons of digital self-publishing.  From there I went to a hour on “Writing Intimacy Across Genres,” both because the topic interests me and because three of the five presenters, Shana Galen (historical), Deeanne Gist (inspirational), and Sophie Jordan (young adult), are my chapter sisters from West Houston RWA.  I managed one more workshop before lunch, Voice Lessons: How to Pinpoint and Develop Your Voice, given by Darynda Jones and Liz Talley.  I love discussions of voice, as everyone (including me) attributes my wildly erratic contest results to a strong voice.  As good a reason as any, and more comforting than most.

At lunch, where I shared a table with old friends, new friends, and one three-month-old hero-in-training (the infant son of Firebird Liz Bemis), best-selling author Stephanie Laurens gave a keynote speech, “Weathering the Transition,” that truly struck the note of author power and publishing shift that carried throughout the Conference.  I’m not going to try to summarize it because you can read the whole thing (and see the illustrations) HERE on Stephanie’s web site.  Go read it.  Right now.  I’ll wait for you.

We were also treated to a preview of Love Between the Covers, a documentary film under construction (with a start-up grant from RWA) by The Popular Romance Project.  You can watch it yourself HERE.

By this time I already knew that not only was I unavoidably missing a lot of good workshops, even the ones I was attending were beginning to swim together in my fuzzy brain, so I stopped to order the Conference recordings, available every year from Bill Stephens Productions.  CDs containing the most popular workshops from the last two Conferences were also available at the booth, so I picked up one of each (haven’t had a chance to listen yet).

After one early afternoon workshop on using emotion in writing (Make ’em Cry, Make ’em Scream, Make ’em Laugh), I went to the Annual General Meeting of RWA, mostly because I’d never been to one, and because I’m a chapter president this year and felt I should have something I could report back to WHRWA.  The current membership of RWA is 10,051, making a quorum of only 10% a mere 1,005 members.  116 showed up.  Not the most popular event at the Conference.  Nothing was up for a vote this year, so the various board members (a very hard-working and under-appreciated team) cheerfully gave their reports.  There was, in fact, some interesting news, mostly of interest to RWA members, regarding changes in the Rita and Golden Heart contests, which has caused considerable discussion on various web sites and Yahoo loops.

After a pass through the Goody Room (where authors leave piles of promotional material, including free books, of which I picked up two more), I joined a group of Starcatchers at a very pleasant local Italian restaurant called Carolina’s for dinner and conversation.

Here are the books I brought back from the Conference.  The short stack I bought, but the books in the tall stack were freebies, in the tote bags, in the chairs at lunch, and in the Goody Room.  Talk about a Book Lover’s Heaven.  Some of the folks (local readers, I’m sure) left the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night with armloads of books they could barely see over.

New Books from West Houston RWA Authors

We had a very active booksigning at our chapter meeting yesterday, thanks to the wonderful people at KATY BUDGET BOOKS.  KBB brings us our members’ new releases every month, along with a mini-bookstore of romance novels and craft-of-writing books.  If you’re in the Houston area, visit the store for new and used books, and if you’re not, visit the website for news, reviews, and online orders.

  Colleen Thompson’s new release is Phantom of the French Quarter, from Harlequin Intrigue, about a mysterious hero who lives in the shadows of New Orlean’s Vieux Carré District, until he must protect a beautiful woman in danger.

Shana Galen’s latest romantic adventure from Sourcebooks Casablanca is Lord and Lady Spy.  Does that great cover remind you of anything?  You can check out the book’s trailer at Shana’s web site.

Don’t Mess With Texas is the latest romantic comedy from Christie Craig, and the first in a new series from Grand Central’s Forever line.  Christie keeps us all laughing, and so do her books.

One of our members has THREE releases this month–she writes faster than I read.  Her latest book as Sharie Kohler, Night Falls on the Wicked, is the fifth book in her dark paranormal Moon Chasers series from Pocket Books.

Sharie’s alter ego, Sophie Jordan, has two new books.  Wicked in Your Arms is her latest historical romance from Avon, while Vanish is the sequel to her wonderful Young Adult novel Firelight, from Harper.

Out-of-town member Tera Lynn Childs (we miss you, Tera!) also has a new Young Adult novel, Sweet Venom, the first in a new trilogy from Katherine Tegan books.   This series, about the triplet descendants of the Gorgon Medusa, is darker than Tera’s previous books and is getting great reviews.

Some day I hope to be enough of a WordPress expert to get this many pictures where I want them on the page, but today isn’t the day, and I’m moving on (let’s see, lunch, finish the laundry, finish the scene I’m writing, judge a contest entry, maybe even read a little).  In the meantime, check out these books and web sites–I promise they’re all worth your time.