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“Bookshops are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to.”

–Alain de Botton

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The Firebrand

is a valentine to booksellers and a testament to the power of love and the mysteries of fate and happenstance. It has a lot of ground to cover.

In the midst of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, unconventional debutante Lucy Hathaway risks her life to save a baby girl, raising the orphan as her own while running The Firebrand, a bookstore that caters to suffragettes and free thinkers. Five years later, fate throws her into the path of Randolph Higgins when she discovers the scarred, bitter, divorced man believes his baby died in the fire. She realizes Maggie, the child she saved that terrible night, is his lost daughter.

Now the conservative banker and the fiercely independent Lucy must deal with each other for Maggie’s sake. Despite the resulting clash of wills and differing political views, the powerful attraction that drew them together five years earlier still exists. Can these two stubborn, opinionated people find a way to create a family for the sake of Maggie, risking their own battered hearts?

I would love to meet you! Please mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

1 October 2010 – Poulsbo WA

  • 6:30pm
  • Chocolate and Wine with Romance Authors: Susan Wiggs, Sheila Roberts, Kimberly Fisk, and Julia Templeton
  • Kiana Lodge, Poulsbo, WA
  • Ticket Price: $25.00
  • Join Susan Wiggs, Sheila Roberts, Kimberly Fisk and Julia Templeton at Kiana Lodge to support your library! An evening of chocolate, wine and words in a romantic setting. Discuss their writing styles, careers, and stories for an unforgettable evening of fun.
  • Click here http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/109614 for tickets and more information.

11-16 October 2010 – Seattle WA

  • “The Novel: LIVE!” event to benefit literacy. 36 authors. 6 days. 1 blockbuster novel. For more info please see Words4Women-subscribe.

    Firehouse Veggie Chili (adapted from www.marthastewart.com)

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 carrot, chopped
    • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 pound dried lentils, rinsed
    • 1/3 cup tomato paste
    • 1 (15-ounce) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (15-ounce) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 stewed (28-ounce) tomatoes
    • 1/3 cup chili powder
    • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • toppings of your choice–sour cream, chopped green onions, cheddar cheese, etc.

    In a large pot, warm the oil. Saute onion, green and red peppers, carrot, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Stir in 7 cups water, lentils, tomato paste, kidney beans and pinto beans. Add stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about an hour. If the chili starts to dry out, add hot water as needed. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with toppings and corn bread.

    Stay cool!

After the Daisy question, probably the most frequent query I’ve had from readers this month is this:

so many books, so little time

so many books, so little time

“Why did you publish the latest ‘Lakeshore Chronicles’ book, Lakeshore Christmas, in hardcover, after hooking readers into the series with paperback originals?”
A: I’m glad this question has been asked (and asked and asked) by readers. It is annoying to get hooked into a series at once price point–pocketbook-friendly paperbacks–and then to find the next eagerly awaited book as a hardback that costs more than twice as much.
The explanation is, it’s a balancing act. Having low-cost paperbacks available is a great way to build a readership. A reader is more likely to take a chance on an author she’s never read before if she only has to invest $8 or so in the book.
On the other hand, the lack of a hardcover edition creates huge problems for the public library. With their dwindling budgets, libraries can’t afford to buy many paperbacks, because they tend to fall apart. So that creates problems for libraries with tough choices to make.
When I decided to write a Christmas book about saving the library, the best choice seemed to be a hardcover edition, followed by a paperback edition a year later.
It’s not a perfect solution, and it doesn’t thrill me to ask paperback readers to wait. But anyone with a library card can read the book (or audio) for free by taking this form http://susanwiggs.com/library_form.html to the local library and asking them to acquire the book.
That said, I should point out that the decision about a book’s format is made by the publisher. Sometimes the author is consulted, sometimes not. The publisher makes the call based on their goals and marketing research.
Question for readers–does your library provide a “patron request” service? I’m happy to say mine does! Thank you, Kitsap Regional Library!

Q: “Why did you publish the latest ‘Lakeshore Chronicles’ book, Lakeshore Christmas,* in hardcover, after hooking readers into the series with paperback originals?”

A: I’m glad this question has been asked (and asked and asked) by readers. It is annoying to get hooked into a series at once price point–pocketbook-friendly paperbacks–and then to find the next eagerly awaited book as a hardback that costs more than twice as much.

The explanation is, it’s a balancing act between fulfilling the mass market needs (individual readers) with the hardcover market reads (libraries and hardcover fans). Having low-cost paperbacks available is a great way to build a readership. A reader is more likely to take a chance on an author she’s never read before if she only has to invest $8 or so in the book.

On the other hand, the lack of a hardcover edition creates huge problems for the public library. With their dwindling budgets, libraries can’t afford to buy many paperbacks, because they tend to fall apart. So that creates problems for libraries with tough choices to make.

When I decided to write a Christmas book about saving the library, the best choice seemed to be a hardcover edition, followed by a paperback edition a year later.

It’s not a perfect solution, and it doesn’t thrill me to ask paperback readers to wait. But anyone with a library card can read the book (or audio or large print edition) for free by taking this form to the local library and asking them to acquire the book.

That said, I should point out that the decision about a book’s format is made by the publisher. Sometimes the author is consulted, sometimes not. The publisher makes the call based on their goals and marketing research.

Question for readers–does your library provide a “patron request” service? I’m happy to say mine does! Thank you, Kitsap Regional Library!

*Note: All the links in this article will take you to WorldCat.org, or Better World Books.  Both are book sites with a social conscience and library-centric attitude. 🙂

It’s Day 10 in the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway extravaganza! All you have to do is check in on this blog for a trivia question from Lakeshore Christmas, and send your answer to ll.wiggs @ gmail.com (remove the spaces). Correct answers will be entered to win.

Today’s question: What book did Maureen suggest to Lonnie?

Today’s prize: A $25 gift card to Borders.

Picture the most elegant waterfront restaurant on Puget Sound, with an adorable waitress serving you a brunch of sourdough macadamia nut pancakes and Dungeness crab hash. As you watch the boats coming in and out of the marina, you talk about the books you’re reading, and what’s on your TBR pile, and which novels you’re really looking forward to reading, and then you talk about your kids and you laugh a lot you know you’re doing something right when eating and shopping are your business for the day. I’m not saying every day is like this for a writer, but
as I indulged in that lucky-author feeling, I remembered an old story. A writer came home one day to discover her house burned down, her car vandalized, all her treasured possessions gone or stolen. “We’re so sorry, ma’am,” said the emergency workers. “But at least we know who the culprit was–your literary agent.”
The writer staggered in shock. “You’re kidding. No way!”
“I’m afraid so, ma’am.”

“Wow,” said the writer, shaking her head in disbelief. “My agent came to me house…”

Picture the most fabulous waterfront restaurant on Puget Sound, with an adorable waitress serving you a brunch of sourdough macadamia nut pancakes and Dungeness crab hash. As you watch the boats coming in and out of the marina, you talk about the books you’re reading, and what’s on your TBR pile, and which novels you’re really looking forward to reading, and then you talk about your kids and you laugh a lot.

After brunch, you head out to a gallery and then to a landmark bookstore, shopping and talking the whole time.

And then it dawns on you. Your girlfriend also happens to be your literary agent, aka the woman in charge of the three-ring circus that is your career. This is a business meeting. You are “at work.”

You know you’re doing something right when eating and shopping are your business for the day. I’m not saying every day is like this for a writer, but
as I indulged in that lucky-author feeling, I remembered an old story. A writer came home one day to discover her house burned down, her car vandalized, all her treasured possessions gone or stolen. She stood there in horror as one of the emergency workers said, “We’re so sorry, ma’am. But at least we know who the culprit was–your literary agent.”
     The writer staggered in shock. “You’re kidding. My agent? No way!”
     “I’m afraid so, ma’am.”
     “Wow,” said the writer, shaking her head in disbelief. “My agent actually came to my house…”

A hard day at work for my agent and me. 🙂

Yes, a guy. But not just any guy, my friend Roy who is the president of the Authors Guild. Here’s his message to members. Pass it on!

Roy Blount Jr wants you to buy books. Good plan.

Roy Blount Jr wants you to buy books. Good plan.

“I’ve been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren’t known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don’t lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn’t in the cards.

“We don’t want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let’s mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that’s just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

“There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they’re easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves.  Stockpile children’s books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they’ll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: “Got to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see…we’re the Authors Guild.”

“Enjoy the holidays.”

Roy Blount Jr.
President
Authors Guild

what’s on my mind right now:

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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