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it’s 100 degress F today…barkis said no to a walk…

it's hot outside

it's hot outside

I don't feel like a walk.

I don't feel like a walk.

I'll just keep napping, thankyouverymuch.

I'll just keep napping, thankyouverymuch.

[photos courtesy of Jay’s cell phone]

preliminary shots of the big weekend. thanks to all for the good wishes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "weekend o’ love", posted with vodpod

…of the weekend o’ love. I’m still floating. More later. Click each photo to enlarge.

cell phone pic by father of the bride, just before he walked her down the aisle

cell phone pic by father of the bride, just before he walked her down the aisle

photo by Pete Saloutos

photo by Pete Saloutos

Real quick–what’s wrong with these pictures?

won the Holt Medallion

won the Holt Medallion

was a RITA finalist

was a RITA finalist

also a RITA finalist

also a RITA finalist

Quick answer: nothing. Not a blessed thing. Well, except  maybe they didn’t sell so well back in the early 90s, which put the author’s survival (sales-wise) in jeopardy.

Still, they look like lovely, interesting books. They even have inside illustrations of freakishly good-looking embracing couples, kind of a bodice-ripper secret bonus. I’ve always been fond of that kind of little grace note in my historical romances. English majors recognize the titles as snippets from the Bard Himself, everyone’s favorite Elizabethan, Shakespeare.

Forsooth! So how come those self-same books now look like this?

new duds for an old fave

new duds for an old fave

blonde ambition

blonde ambition

sexy stuff

sexy stuff

Multiple Choice:

  • A. to introduce old books to new readers who might have missed them the first time around
  • B. to dupe readers with a Vast Publishing Conspiracy

According to a number of bloggers, it’s Answer B.

But I kind of wish they’d checked in with me before declaring me a shameless hussy (which we all knew already). To clear up the misconceptions, here are some myths and realities of modern commercial publishing:

Myth: Publishers are greedy and will do anything to make a buck.

Reality: Publishers love books. They love readers. The people I work with in publishing are book geeks who want nothing more than to evangelize books and authors they love. In the 23 years since I sold my first book, I’ve never heard someone in publishing say, “Let’s fool people into buying a sub-par product.” In commercial publishing, the goal is to appeal to the widest possible readership.

Myth: New titles? Seriously???

Reality: Are you a Georgette Heyer fan? Did you enjoy Powder and Patch? Were you aware that the book was first published in 1923 as “The Transformation of Philip Jettan“? By somebody named “Stella Martin”? Oh, and guess what else? For her reissue, my gal Georgette cut some stuff, including the final chapter, before its republication in 1930. If Georgette can do it, so can the rest of us.

Out of print books are reprinted with new titles all the time. It’s been done by the likes of Stephen King, Sandra Brown, Catherine Coulter, Dean Koontz…and some–like Koontz–change both the title and the author’s name for the reissue. A few people might have read books by Leigh Nichols. But everybody reads Dean Koontz.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Not every title can be perfect and timeless. Sure, you’ve got Gone With the Wind and The Thornbirds…but you also have “The Transformation of Philip Jettan” and things of that ilk, which are sorely in need of a makeover. I actually have a couple of titles I don’t love.

Did my original Shakespearean titles need a makeover? When I was asked, I said no. Actually, I said HELL NO. But my publisher is used to hearing this from me. And they know when all is said and done, I will park my ego at the door and listen to their rationale and 99% of the time, I’ll be persuaded. Confession time: When I saw the proposed artwork, I was similarly not thrilled. But I was made a believer by the reaction of booksellers and readers everywhere. There is a lot of excitement surrounding this re-release.

Myth: A reissued book is dumbed down.

Reality: A reissued book is often word-for-word, identical in text to the original. (Lord of the Night even used the same cold type, I believe.) But sometimes, the reissue has been edited and/or updated. I like to think I’m a better writer now than I was 15 years ago. So I jumped at the chance to revise the Tudor Rose books. They’re cleaner now, more dramatic and smoother. Trust me, you won’t miss the stuff I cut: “What ho, varlet! Draw your weapon!” We don’t really need that, do we?

Myth: Reissues are a new ploy by publishers to get us to buy books we already own.

Reality: Based on the sales numbers for the original publications, you don’t own the books. Nobody but my mother, my hairdresser, and a hapless shopper who stumbled into a booksigning in 1994 owns the books. Reissues are a service to readers who are interested in early books of an author they’ve recently discovered. Now, if you do own the books, I have just two words for you: Thank you.

Myth: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Reality: True, but you can give the cover a makeover. Books are repackaged with new cover art all the time. In fact, I love it when a smart publisher takes a classic and sexes it up with great art to get the attention of new readers.

Seriously, which novel would you be more likely to read?

classic naughtiness

classic naughtiness

same story, different duds

same story, different duds

So here’s today’s Super Special Offer. Post a comment below and you’re automatically entered. A virtual drawing via will determine the winner of both editions of my new/old book–Circle in the Water, and At the King’s Command. Sound like a plan?

Post now! Tell me your thoughts about reissued books!

Here’s something fun–an anthology edited by the peerless Elizabeth George. These are tales of intrigue and mayhem from some of the top women of mystery:

My story is called "Other People's Clothing"

My story is called "Other People's Clothing"

A collection of twenty-three indelible stories—all never before published—from today’s top female crime writers and some talented newcomers, selected by the New York Times bestselling author

Anger . . . Jealousy . . . Gluttony . . . Sloth . . . Lust . . . Greed . . . Pride.

The seven deadly sins have been the roots of crime throughout human history. InTwo of the Deadliest, Elizabeth George has gathered nearly two dozen tales that probe the dark heart of crime in the name of a pair of particularly wicked transgressions: lust and greed.

A young woman mistaken for someone else falls neatly into what appears to be the perfect business opportunity, only to learn that such luxury comes with a price. A mother is driven to depths she never imagined by her less-than-grateful son. And two lovers intent on profiting from an unexpected inheritance discover that the most valuable item is not at all what they thought it was.

In addition to stars including Laura Lippman, Susan Wiggs, Marcia Muller, Carolyn Hart, Nancy Pickard, Patricia Smiley, Elizabeth Engstrom and Elizabeth George herself, the collection also features new writers from a broad range of backgrounds—journalists, educators, and criminal experts. Together they explore the dark depths women and men will sink to for passion, wealth, and power.

Thrilling and unpredictable, these stories of murder and mayhem are guaranteed to shock and entertain.

the British edition

the British edition

It’s available in hardcover, audio and large print. Speaking of intrigue, check this out. One of the most mysterious places on the Web.

Frank McCourt‘s passing is a loss to us all–to his family, his many students and readers all over the world. Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis and Teacher Man are some of my favorite books in print and audio, read by the mesmerizing author. He was a bright spirit. I was privileged to meet him at the Maui Writers Conference.

(I had a fake tattoo and a real sunburn. Frank was gracious to his fangirl.)

Frank’s younger brother Malachy is a fine friend who spent a memorable week here a couple of years back. Cheers to Malachy and the family! And Godspeed to Frank.

“Happiness is hard to recall. It is just a glow.” –Frank McCourt

This has been in the virtual world for a while (anyone know where it originated?…thanks to Dee for the pic…) but I wouldn’t mind having the real thing:

I-Remote for Women

Leave it to my friend Michael to show up with such a one-of-a-kind gift. Only a fellow writer understands the treasure of a 70-year-old magazine:

These are such fun to page through. And so eerily current: Be clear, clean and vivid. Put your heart on the page. Please the reader. Treat writing as your profession. Make time to write. God is in the details. It’s the bottom line in almost every article. And the ads are a hoot!

Just a bit of trivia today, inspired by an letter from a reader. She wanted to know what the heck “branch water” is. She came across the term in The Horsemaster’s Daughter:

According to Wikipedia: Horsemaster 2008

Branch water may refer to:

Water from a stream (a term primarily used in the southern United States)

Addition of plain water rather than soda water to a mixed drink (for example, “Bourbon and branch” refers to Bourbon whiskey with plain water)

When a whisky is ‘cut’ (i.e. watered down) prior to bottling, the water that is used is very important to the final product. The preferred source of water is called ’branch water’. Branch water comes directly from the stream that the distillery is built on, some companies even bottle this water, so that bar customers can further dilute their bourbon with the original bourbon water. This branch water starts its life in the underground limestone shelf that exists under most of Kentucky, and part of Tennessee. The limestone shelf acts as a natural filter for water that passes over it. Branch water is particular for its lack of character, with no traces of iron, or other minerals that would be harmful to the whisky making process.

Now you know!

The very generous and enterprising TJ Bennett is giving away totes and baskets full of RITA -nominated books and audios. You can enter by posting a comment on her blog here. My contribution is below.  Also note the question at the bottom of this post. Need your input!

[Ed. note (from TJ): We continue our RITA® giveaway with our final tote bag. Be sure to leave your comments on the posts for a chance to win. One tote per winner will be awarded, but you can comment on any post throughout the contest period, which ends July 18, 2009. Remember this week, there are four totes up for grabs: #7, 8, 9, and 10.]

Susan Wiggs, Snowfall at Willow Lake
[NOTE: Book in tote is audio (MP3-CD) version]
2009 RITA® Finalist for Contemporary Single Title Romance 

“Every writer I know started out as a reader. She was like me–voracious, insatiable, reading anything and everything she could get her hands on. Eventually she fell in love with genre fiction, and found a special affinity with romance novels. Like me, she probably cut her teeth on the big, juicy historicals of Kathleen Woodiwiss, Laurie McBain, Jennifer Wilde, Laura London. She stayed up late with A Woman of Substance, fantasized along with Princess Daisy and wept over The Thornbirds. She dreamed of Turtle MoonHoney Moon and Carolina Moon. She developed a taste for Like Water for Chocolate and maybe even started her own knitting and reading club. All this reading made her a better writer, and an incredibly savvy reader. Along the way, she joined RWA® and volunteered to judge the RITA®.

That’s why being a finalist is such an incredible honor. The judges are the pickiest readers in the world, and this year, they picked Snowfall at Willow Lake. This was extra-special for me because of the content of the book. Sophie Bellamy, the main character, was one of the most reviled and misunderstood protagonists I’ve ever created–chilly, competitive, deeply self-absorbed, a woman who had the audacity to be unhappy in her marriage–and to finally do something about it. Her journey from the international courts of The Hague to the storybook shores of Willow Lake was more than a plot, it was a quest for redemption. Landing in the finals was an affirmation that her journey was a success.

The competition is incredibly tough; I know, I’m always reading and I read a ton of terrific novels last year. So I’m deeply grateful and honored to be a finalist this year. I’m also thrilled to be slogging it out with some of my favorite writers for the final prize, the Queen of All Knickknacks. Because as soon as the list of finalists came out, I read all the others and was wildly entertained for days! There’s a reason the RITA® is the gold standard of prizes in our genre. I’m proud to be in the game. To read more about Snowfall at Willow Lake, and to find out more than even my husband knows about me, please check out my web site at and blog at”

About Snowfall at Willow Lake:

Can a single moment change your entire life?

International lawyer Sophie Bellamy has dedicated her life to helping people in war-torn countries. But when she survives a hostage situation, she remembers what matters most—the children she loves back home. Haunted by regrets, she returns to the idyllic Catskills village of Avalon on the shores of Willow Lake, determined to repair the bonds with her family.

There Sophie discovers the surprising rewards of small-town life—including an unexpected passion for Noah Shepherd, the local veterinarian. Noah has a healing touch for anything with four legs, but he’s never had any luck with women—until Sophie.

Snowfall at Willow Lake speaks from the heart about all the loves that fill a woman’s life, and all the ways that love is tested and made to grow. It’s the story of what comes after a woman survives an unspeakable horror and finds her way home, to healing and redemption and a new chance at happiness.


I need your advice! Last year I “won” a pair of Camper Twins when I didn’t bag the RITA. Should I fail to bring home the Queen of All Knicknacks this year, what should my consolation prize be? (I have an idea or two…)

Join me on Facebook. You won’t be sorry.

I tend to spontaneously give stuff away to readers and libraries. Join the fun here. Really.

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July 2009