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Jump in the pool, swim to the rock and dare the little whipper snapper to follow. Works every time.

 Sonny the Lab is 11. Barkis is one. Sometimes all it takes is an old dog’s new trick….

reissues for July It’s a triple treat this month—three reissues! Even better, I’m on sale, dirt cheap.  The You I Never Knew and Passing Through Paradise are near and dear to my heart because they’re my first full-length books with a contemporary setting, and they rocketed my writing off into new directions. The original publisher, Warner Books, has changed hands. Now held by a French company, Hachette, the imprint is called Grand Central Publishing or GCP. What’s remained steady is the readership. My agent calls these “iconic” books, meaning they define a certain type of story with broad appeal. Boy, I hope so. The books are back in stores at a special price—$4.99. And in Target, they’ll be just $3.99 the week July 14. At Sam’s Club, they’ll be part of a 3-for $10 promo. Grand Central Publishing has a fun new web site—check it out here. There’s a bio and a couple of articles here.

Also this month, you’ll see a new edition of the anthology That Summer Place with novellas by Debbie Macomber, Jill Barnett and me. All this good reading!

[Thanks to the ultra-clever Celeste Faurie of Writerspace for the peeling cover art.]

…and messing around with the mobile phone camera. Jay took this while boating yesterday. It’s titled “The Popeye-Looking Thing”:

I impulse-bought a printer today. Yeah, a great pair of Rainbow flipflops would have been more fun, but this was a good decision. We went to the shop to buy golf tees and wound up with a calla lily, an ice chest, luggage tags…and an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax. It was sitting at the end of a close-out aisle and was priced so low it would have been silly to pass it up. Besides the price ($70), it had the magic words on the box: “WiFi.”

I am all about WiFi these days. There is even an international symbol for WiFi, have you noticed? And a WiFi printer? You mean I can be writing my NINC column on the patio and printing out the draft without being anywhere near the printer? Yeah, baby!

Even better–the installation went without a hitch. Since I live in terror of having to crawl under my desk and mess with my router and other scary stuff, this is a big deal for me. I want everything to install in 90 seconds, and for it all to work.

So this is old news to a lot of you, but I bet there are plenty more who haven’t taken the plunge. C’mon in! I took the WiFi printer plunge!

What’s better than having lunch with girlfriends?
Lunch and book talk!
Mary, Carol, Suzanne, Nancy, Susan
I’m such a fangirl of Nancy Pearl. She is so genuine, opinionated, smart, funny, a true booklover. Plus it’s the first time I’ve had lunch with someone who has an action figure modeled after her. 
Just a few of the titles we chatted up:
The Lazarus Project by Alexander Hemon
amnesia story (title?) by Gabriel Zevin
Heartbreak Hotel by Anne Rivers Siddons
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Consuming Kids and The Case for Make-Believe by Susan Linn
The Story of My Life (do-it-yourself memoir)
The Price of Uncertainty by ? (my notes are incomplete)
Good Night Bush (a parody)
Robyn Carr’s books and library Carr Chat  
…and also Eileen Fisher fashions, Orla Kiely bags and hair mascara…

(from Macbeth)

My agent’s comment: “Barkis could be in Macbeth.  The part where they all disguise themselves as trees before storming the castle.”

Spotted next to a building site, being cleared for yet more projects:

Developer gets thumbs down

It’s unbelievably beautiful here. I’m kinda with the spray-painters. According to George Carlin, the biggest advantage to living on the waterfront is that you only have a**holes on three sides of you instead of four. Here’s what I consider the biggest advantage:

ferry at sunset, photo by Jay

And speaking of books about women and horses…One of the most startling books I ever read was a re-published edition of JACINTHA, a novella by Kathleen Winsor (famed for having written FOREVER AMBER at the age of 17).
It’s an erotic love story set in Hell, with Satan in a loin cloth as the lover. I’ve never forgotten the cover art on this book–the edition I read was a trade paperback with a painting of our heroine being borne away on a black stallion. It was the perfect cover shot. And here it is! Love you, Internet!
This rant from Kirkus nails exactly why I read the book with my jaw on the floor. It is nutty, but weirdly compelling. Winsor writes like the person who dances as though no one is watching:
[Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.]

When this Satan-lover fantasy appeared under a different title, in Winsor’s The Lovers collection (1952), Kirkus called it “inadequate and indecorous.” A second reading 30 years later hardly improves the picture. Jacintha, just arrived in Hades as a permanent resident, is a beautiful Victorian lady whose husband shot and killed her for adultery. She gapes at her first view of Satan–who manifests himself in a loin cloth (“overpowering and gorgeous”), whisks her off on his black stallion, and delivers her to a huge hotel, crowded with people dressed to the nines. Jacintha is assigned Room 69000, a nicely furnished affair where she’ll soon be meeting the lovely, exquisite Cherry–who turns out to be her own mother, killed by her husband for her adultery! But, after a joyous reunion and casual Hell-chat (“”It’s the moments that drag””), Cherry warns Jacintha about Him: “”Don’t be misled by his good looks. . . . He’s not the Devil for nothing, you know.”” And Jacintha will know, when Satan changes gears in mid-friendship to “”exultant lust.”” The coupling, accompanied by external thunder and lightning, is a wow (though those expecting tip-top erotic detail about the Ultimate Hump may be disappointed). But mum Cherry, similarly besotted and jealous, tries to pop Jacintha off a cliff! So it’s ugly for a while–till the women realize they’re being used. . . and plot counter-measures to keep their love intact; finally, in fact, the Big S. disappears (at least temporarily) as the two women vow to comfort one another through eternity. An unnecessary exhumation: nutty, intermittently entertaining (often unintentionally so), and drenched in Women-as-Victims-of-Lust poppy fumes.

The highlight of Book Expo is, of course, the Advance Reading Copies–ARCs. These are review copies of upcoming books and I tried not to be greedy, but here are a few finds: 

    A Parody Cover

    Favorite concept book: Pat the Husband patterned after the children’s classic “Pat the Bunny”

    Most hotly anticipated new book: Love Matters by Delilah, a syndicated radio host. I knew I was goig to like Delilah. Like most other parents on the planet, I used to have to force myself to stay awake while waiting for my teenaged daughter to get home from her weekend outtings. In order to keep the imagination from going overboard, I used to listen to Delilah’s soothing voice and music choices on the radio. She was my Friday and Saturday night comfort fix. And now she has a book. I’m thinking it’s a lot higher on my list than the Miley Cyrus book.

    Most massive hit du jour: Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber. I remember reading in Publishers Weekly, years ago, that LaVyrle Spencer’s print runs in hardcover were in the 400,000 range, which is massive. Very few writers get to that point. According to a more recent PW, Debbie has reached that pinnacle. Incredible achievement, well deserved, by the one of the nicest and hardest-working writers I know.

    Hottest middle-grade children’s book at the show: Fortune’s Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors.

    Hottest debut novel: Oxygen by Carol Cassella.

    Anti-climactic “reveal”: the cover art for the next Stephenie Meyer book. It’s a chessboard, very handsome but not as much of a showstopper as the first three, IMO.

    Cutest cover: Dewey, the Small-Town Library Cat. WARNING: It’s a pet memoir, okay? And everybody knows pet memoirs all end the same. So get out the duct tape and seal the last couple of chapters shut. Unless you like that sort of thing. Unless you like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.

    Best Lemony Snicket knock-off: Pseudonymous Bosch. A knock-off doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, and in this case it’s irresistibly good! In fact, I liked this even better than the Lemony Snicket series.

    Most relaxing-looking cover: Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons. Off Season

    Most forbidding-looking cover: Testimony Anita Shreve. A real hot-button storyline, too. I’m a sucker for boarding-school books. No idea why, but I am.

I have a chute signing with ARCs of my September book, with my perfectly-dressed-in-polka-dots editor. She gets to hear 40-umpteen people say, “Oooh, my mother loves your books!” Big crowds for Ridley Pearson & Dave Barry, Lois Lowry, Sherman Alexie…

killer sandalsNew Rule: Do not wear your adorable pink Gabriella Rocha heels on the mirror-slick convention hallway floors. (AKA the “what were they thinking?” floor surface) Nuff said.

Huge lines in the booths for Michael Connelly, who patiently signs at Hachette for a long time. Barbara Walters looks exactly like she looks on TV although she is tiny. TINY. Her line was probably the longest I saw.

Brooke Shields is so beautiful I doubt she’s human. Kirk Cameron (what show was he on?) has a book–a Christian memoir, I think.

I find Anne Rice in the Knopf booth so I can give her and her sister Karen a Just Breathe ARC. The book is dedicated to Anne’s other sister Alice Borchardt, who was in my first critique group. She was my mentor and friend for twenty-five years. She passed away in November and Just Breathe is dedicated to her. Anne looks lovely and it’s a short, emotional conversation.

My new printer came with some photo editing software. I played with it a little…Click to see it bigger.

Although it’s kind of hard to ruin a view like this, I came close. I should stick to writing books, eh?

what’s on my mind right now:

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June 2008