Friday, February 29, 2008

Upcoming books for March

It's Leap Day! I figured I'd take today to post about the books I'll be reviewing in March.

  • Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
  • Kiss Me, I'm Single by Amanda Ford
  • One Love for Liv by Marianne Arkins
  • Across Time by Linda K. Silva
  • Money and Manifesting by Dyan Garris

I'll also have interviews with all of the authors. This was a great set of books to read, one historical fiction, one time travel and paranormal, two psychology and one romance.

Alas, I don't have any new books on my bedside table today. I did read The Liar's Diary by Patry Francis. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend picking up a copy. It's one of Target's breakout books.

Have a fantastic weekend and spend a little time reading.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Something to be said for a quickie...

A few things this morning -

  • Thursday Bram kindly asked me for an interview (little 'ol me!) and has posted it on her blog today.
  • I have four pieces being published in the month of March - an essay, a short article and two long articles.
  • Mr. Jim Melvin informed me that parts of my review of his first book, The Pit, will be included on the inside of his fifth book, in the six book series, The Death Wizard Chronicles.
  • If you go to Barnes and, and look up The River, By Moonlight by Camille Marchetta, and you click the Editorial Reviews link, you'll see my review.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Interview - Susan Breen, author of The Fiction Class

Today's 5 Q&A is with Susan Breen, author of The Fiction Class

1.) Who are you?
I teach creative writing for Gotham Writers' Workshop in Manhattan. THE FICTION CLASS is my first published novel (but there are two other ones under my bed). I started off as a short story writer and a number of my stories have been published by literary magazines, among them and The Chattahoochee Review. My husband and I have been married twenty-five years and we live with our children in Irvington, which is a suburb of Manhattan.

2.) What is your all time favorite story about one of your students?
My favorite students are those who commit one hundred per cent. (If you want to get me crazy, tell me you're writing as a hobby.) So my favorite student story involves a young man who took his first class with me six years ago. He was working sixteen hours as a manager of a store and he did not have much money or formal education, though he was always reading. I used to cringe whenever his work would come up for critique, because the reviews would be so harsh. But he didn't give up, and now, his stories are very well-received and I think he will be published very soon. Best of all, he has a unique voice and a great story to tell.

3.) What is your writing space like (office, kitchen table, nook) ?
I have a small office with a computer and a desk that I assembled myself one insane day along time ago. I've stacked my favorite books on top of the desk and I've papered the walls with every encouraging note I've ever received from anyone.

4.) What is your favorite book?
This changes from day to day, but at the moment it's The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. I feel like that book has everything in it--tragedy, joy, laughter, tears.

5.) What's next?
I just gave my agent a synopsis for my new novel. It is tentatively titled The Dickens Affair and it is the story of a woman and her teenaged son and a traveling troupe of actors.

Thank you, Susan!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blog Stop Book Tours blog

I posted about book promotion at Blog Stop today. Here's the link if you want to stop in and read.

Book Promotion... are you ready?

Query Letters

When I first started learning about freelance writing, I discovered that in order to get my ideas to the editors, I had to write a query letter. A query letter is basically a note introducing your idea for an article or essay. That might sound pretty easy, but it's not. I really struggled with the first few. The blank Word document would stare back at me from the computer screen, waiting for me to fill it with my brilliant idea, and I had no idea where to start.

I think I have finally figured out what works for me. When I have an idea, I write it down - right away! Then, I let it grow in the back of my mind for a little while. When I have a better picture of what the article or essay will look like, I add some notes under the original idea. I talk about the piece with one or two people I trust, and then I write the first draft of the query as if I was sharing the idea with a dear friend. Everything pours out onto the screen openly and informally. I wait a day or two, clean it up and make it look professional, have a friend proof it for typos and then send it to the editor.

How do you approach query letters? And do you have a fear of writing them?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Review - The Fiction Class by Susan Breen

The Fiction Class
Susan Breen
ISBN # 978-0452289109

"On paper, Arabella Hicks seems more than qualified to teach her fiction class on the Upper West Side: she’s a writer herself; she’s passionate about books; she’s even named after the heroine in a Georgette Heyer novel.

On the other hand, she’s thirty-eight, single, and has been writing the same book for the last seven years. And she has been distracted recently: on the same day that Arabella teaches her class she also visits her mother in a nursing home outside the city. And every time they argue. Arabella wants the fighting to stop, but, as her mother puts it, “Just because we’re family, doesn’t mean we have to like each other.” When her class takes a surprising turn and her lessons start to spill over into her weekly visits, she suddenly finds she might be holding the key to her mother’s love and, dare she say it, her own inspiration. After all, as a lifelong lover of books, she knows the power of a good story."

The Fiction Class is the story of a woman still growing up. Arabella struggles with her self-image, her writing aspirations and taking care of her elderly mother. While teaching a writing class, she learns a few lessons herself - about life, love and the written word.

Susan Breen has written a beautiful and inspiring story with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Read it! There are so many layers to this book, you'll find something that touches you or inspires you.
(February 26, 2008, pp 304, $14.00)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bedside Table Books

There aren't too many books on the bedside table today. I finished Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - fun, fun, fun book! I'm still working on The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book by Patricia L. Fry. I'm hoping to have it finished by tonight. Extremely good information in this one.

The only new book on the table is Anno-Dracula by Kim Newman. My husband picked this one up at Goodwill a few weeks ago. My 16 year old started reading it, and decided it wasn't for him. So, I'm going to give it a whirl while I'm waiting for a couple more books to arrive for review.

Stop by Monday for a review of The Fiction Class by Susan Breen. She is the first author to tour at Blog Stop Book Tours (in April).

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Wow, things have gotten busy since last Thursday. Opportunities popping up all over the place. I've had to get very serious about my schedule.

I mentioned Blog Stop Book Tours a few days ago. Well, I have one author touring in April and one in May. I'll be adding the information to the site as it comes in. I'm still looking for book reviewers, so get hold of me if you'd like to become one.

If anyone out there has already done a virtual book tour, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I'm really curious to hear about other author's experiences.

That's it for today. Gotta get back to it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Interview - Aram Schefrin, author of Marwan: The Autobiography of a 9/11 Terrorist

Today's 5 Q&A is with Aram Schefrin, author of Marwan: The Autobiography of a 9/11 Terrorist

1.) Who are you?
I'm the author of four novels. After studying with Stephen Sondheim and Carlos Montoya, I co-founded and was the lyricist and guitarist for the jazz/rock group Ten Wheel Drive, which had its standing ovations in the late '60's and early seventies. After five years on the road, I retired to the studio where I produced several early disco hits. A graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School, I returned to the practice of law in 1977. I now practice in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Florida, and live in Wellington, Florida with my wife, two dogs, four cats and three polo ponies. You can learn about me at Right now, I'm writing an opera.

2.) Why did you write this book?
After 9/11, I realized that I knew nothing of the people who had attacked us, or the reasons why they had done it. I did some general reading for research on Islam. On the internet I read the coverage in the Florida papers, because much of the plot took place in Florida. I went to the places the hijackers had stayed. And after all that, I came to two conclusions: first, the plot of the pre 9/11 events, and the characters involved in it, made for really engrossing fiction; and second, Americans don't really understand what happened to us, and why, and I think it's critical that we do understand, to prepare for what may yet be coming and to do what we can to prevent it. We must understand the enemy to protect ourselves, and that particularly includes understanding what drove them personally - their frustrations, their humiliations, their unmet needs, etc. Because it wasn't just their religion that drove them to do what they did.

3.) Have you had any negative feedback due to its subject matter?
You bet. When I circulated the book in 2003, New York publishing houses considered it insulting and outrageous to present a book about 9/11 which was written (more or less) from the terrorists’ point of view – even though the book made no attempt to excuse their conduct.

4.) Have you been to Ground Zero, and if so, how did you feel while you were there? If not, do you intend to go?
No, I haven't and I don't intend to. Frankly, I don't think it's helpful to mythologize 9/11. It keeps us from comprehending what it was about.

5.) What's next?
I have a new book coming out in April. It's called "The Tenth Cow," it's on religious themes, and you can find out all about it at

Thank you so much, Aram.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What would I do without you?

I spend a good chunk of my networking time at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. It's a forum for writers of all genres. I've learned so much from spending time reading in the Freelance Writers and Blogging threads. I'm forever grateful to my friends who have answered my questions and given support during my writing learning curve.

Imagine my distress the other day, when I clicked my bookmark for the site, and found myself staring at the "page not found" message. It surely had to be a server glitch, so I reloaded the page. Page... not... there.

Now, I spend an inordinate amount of time alone. I do not attend writers groups, I don't hang out in the library and the nearest Barnes and Noble is a half hour drive away. I count on being able to connect with my writer friends in a virtual medium. It's like the quilting bees of the old days. I grab my hot coffee, get comfy at my desk and absorb as much sage writing wisdom as my brain can handle.

I felt as if I'd been cut off from my dearest friends. Realizing that it wasn't the end of the world, I walked away from the computer and did other things for awhile. I have the email addresses of most of the people I talk to, and their blog URLs. I wouldn't be completely cut off even if the site entirely ceased to exist.

Later on, I clicked the bookmark again and everything was there, exactly the way it should be. Phew! The experience confirmed for me what I've suspected all along. Friendship and support are not based solely on geographical proximity. Communication is the key to building relationships, whether business or personal.

So, thank you so much my friends at AW. I value and appreciate you.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Review - Marwan: The Autobiography of a 9/11 Terrorist by Aram Schefrin

Marwan: The Autobiography of a 9/11 Terrorist
Aram Schefrin
ISBN # 978-1434332882

"An Egyptian city planner, a timid Saudi pilot, a boy from the United Arab Emirates who worshipped sex, not Allah, and a young Lebanese student who had gone to a Christian school: How did these very different men with very different ideas come to fly the 9/11 planes? How did the plot develop, and who developed it?"

Marwan is an admittedly controversial book about the men who carried out the attacks on America in 2001. It angered and saddened me, but it also made me think. I thought about how sad it is when murder is carried out in the name of a god. I thought about how we never saw it coming. I thought about many things.

If you can bring yourself to go back to that day, read the book. It'll make you think.
(August 31, 2007, pp 268, $17.95)

Friday, February 15, 2008

BIG NEWS and bedside table books

If you look over there to the top left in the side bar, you'll see a new button. If you click it, you'll end up visiting the site for my new business, Blog Stop Book Tours. I'll be hosting authors and setting up blog stops for their books to be reviewed. I've found some fantastic bloggers who are ready to read and review. I'm excited! So, check it out!

Bedside Table Books

  • Money and Manifesting by Dyan Garris
  • Kiss Me, I'm Single by Amanda Ford

Other than that, I have a busy day ahead of me, and another kid home from school. She'll probably need to be checked for Strep Throat. Apparently, there is a strain going around that doesn't present with a sore throat and fever. If there is any real noticeable symptom it's a belly ache. uggggghhhhhh.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Interview - Camille Marchetta, author of The River, By Moonlight

Today's 5 Q&A is with Camille Marchetta, author of The River, By Moonlight

1.) Who are you?
Who I am at any given moment depends on the time of day and my frame of mind and what's going on around me. I'm a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a reader, a film-goer, a ballet-lover, an art museum junkie, an avid traveler, and maybe other things as well. But not a daughter any more, alas. My parents have both died. If I were asked the question at a cocktail party, I'd just give my name. But as you ask it, and I know how deeply you care about books, I'll say that I'm a writer and that's as true as any other reply I might offer. I've written for television. In addition to various episodes and TV movies, I was story-editor on Dallas its first two seasons, watching as it climbed from obscurity to international hit. I wrote and produced the series Nurse, which won Michael Learned an Emmy, and Dynasty the year it reached the top of the ratings. I co-executive produced Falcon Crest and was story consultant on Central Park West. I co-authored two best-selling novels with Ivana Trump, and have written three of my own: Lovers and Friends, The Wives of Frankie Ferraro, and, now, The River, By Moonlight.

2.) What was the inspiration behind The River, By Moonlight?
Friends told me about an exhibition of paintings they'd seen by a young woman artist who had died in mysterious circumstances. I couldn't get what they told me out of my head. Eventually, I decided to write a novel, not about that particular artist as it happened, but to deal with the issues raised for me by her story – despair, death, grief, how people deal with them, and how some indomitable spirits manage not only to heal, but to thrive.

3.) How much research was required to write the book?
An enormous amount. For one thing, the novel is set in 1917, at the start of the First World War, and I had to make myself comfortable in that period of history. I had to find out about New York City then and the Hudson River Valley, where the story takes place. There were so many things I didn't know. What did people eat? What did they wear? Where did they go? How did they get there? And then, the main character is a painter, and I'm not, so I had to learn not only about how to paint, but the state of the art world at that time. I think I started researching two years before I began writing, and I continued on through the last draft.

4.) Having been a writer for the television series, Dallas, what are you thoughts regarding the writers strike?
I support it completely. It's unfortunate, yes. There are so many people who are affected who really can't do without a paycheck. That's awful. But the strike is absolutely necessary. Some like to paint it as rich writers being greedy. But that's far from the case. The majority of writers aren't rich at all. And all writers deserve to share in the profits that come from their work. And what they're asking for isn't a fortune, but a tiny sliver, a small taste, of a pie that wouldn't exist at all without the long hours they invest in writing scripts - for television, for film, for DVD, for internet downloads that wouldn't exist without them.

5.) What's next for you?
I've been so busy with the publication and promotion of The River, By Moonlight that I really haven't made up my mind about what to do next. But I do have several projects in mind. At the moment, I seem inclined to do a family memoir. There's so much about my childhood in Brooklyn, about my parents and grandparents, my aunts and uncles, that I want to write about. Well, whatever I decide on, I hope to start soon.

Thanks so much, Camille!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Young Adult Genre

I am currently reading two Young Adult genre books. I could not put one of them down last night. I read until just after midnight and had to force myself to stop.

I've said before that I'll read anything as long as the writing and the story are good. If it pulls me in, I will devour it. Asking me what genre I favor is like asking me what music is my favorite.

Do you read YA books? Do you have a favorite?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Workin' for a livin'...

Today is shaping up to be a busy day. Research for a new project, writing an article, reading (3 books have come in for review), setting up blog drafts and I have a sick kid home from school. Luckily, the sick kid is the oldest and won't require much of me.

If you're interested, check out what Harper Collins is doing. It's a new form of promotion for book sales.

I'm off to work. Ciao.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Review - The River, By Moonlight by Camille Marchetta

The River, By Moonlight
Camille Marchetta Publishing
ISBN # 978-1602640177

"ON A RAINY APRIL NIGHT in 1917, a passing vagrant sees a young woman fall (or is it jump?) into New York City’s Hudson River. He tries to save her, but fails. The police tentatively identify the woman as Lily Canning, twenty-five years old, from Minuit, a town in the Hudson Valley."

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach..."
-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The River, By Moonlight seems, at first glance, to be a murder mystery. It is not. When Lily dies, her family and friends find themselves entrenched in the mystery of why a vibrant, talented young woman would choose to end it all. We travel with them through their immense grief and confusion, their love and guilt flayed open like an unexpected and gruesome wound.

Camille Marchetta never flinches in this raw, but hopeful story of how people deal with a death they can't possibly understand.
(August 1, 2007, pp 376, $14.95)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Blogging Bookworms... I need you!

So many books, not nearly enough time.

That's right folks, I'm looking for avid readers, who also blog, and are interested in reviewing books. If this intrigues you, comment here or email me.

And since it's Friday, my bedside table books are:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to freedom...

For the last couple of years, I've been waiting for my youngest to start Kindergarten. I just knew that once he was safely (locked away) in a classroom for 6+ hours a day, I would be well on the way to the rest of my life.

Well, a funny thing happened. I actually do some of my best work when the kids are home. I'm so used to the dull roar and sporadic chaos that ensues when they're here, that silence is literally deafening and stifling.

Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the peace and serenity of my week days alone. I spend my days looking for leads, networking and marketing. Daytime is for learning, evening is for writing.

But, it is incredibly weird to discover I need my kids around when I write.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Interview - Judy Ford and Rachel Green Baldino, authors of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire

Today's 5 Q&A is with Judy Ford, MSW, LCSW and Rachel Greene Baldino, MSW, LCSW - authors of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire

1.) Who are you?

J.F. - I’ve been in private practice as family therapist for over twenty-five years. Before that I worked with couples and families in various settings—from gang turf in the inner city to crisis intervention in hospitals, to community mental health clinics. I’m the author of 10 books including Wonderful Ways to Love a Child, which, by the way, lead to my appearance on Oprah! That was exciting.

Recently I’ve discovered my artistic side. I adore painting, cutting, and pasting and can testify to the fact that by developing our creative inspirations we fall more in touch with our sensuous side and that’s definitely good for romance.

I am the mother of a twenty-nine year old daughter, Amanda Ford who is also a writer.

R.G.B. - Right now I am a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two young children. I also have a professional background as a clinical social worker. Before writing this book, I was a relationship columnist for the online health and wellness newsletter, and I have also written two other books.

2.) What prompted the idea for this book?

J.F. - I’ve been studying relationships for over 30 years, I counseled thousands of couples and dedicated my professional work to family healing and wholeness. When I was approached to contribute to this book, I was delighted to participate as the focus of the book was in sync with my philosophy of taking good and gentle care of your relationship.

R.G.B. - What prompted the idea for The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Enhancing Sexual Desire was an invitation from our literary agent, Andrea Hurst, to submit a proposal on the book’s topic to the appropriate editor.

3.) How did you decide to co-write it?

J.F. - A literary agent suggested that we work together. It was a good match and even though we never met in person the writing process went smoothly.

R.G.B. - Regarding the co-writing of the book, once again, our literary agent Andrea Hurst introduced us. We hit it off really well, and decided that we would be a great co-authoring team.

4.) What's your favorite romantic night with your significant other like?

J.F. - I am widowed and currently not in a committed relationship, but that does not mean that there is no romance in my life. On the contrary, February is the love month and I adore celebrating love. At this stage in my life, romance is better than ever. Romance for me must include a playful attitude, a twinkle in the eye and a spring in the step. I intend have many romantic evenings this month and that will include hand holding with a man who thinks I’m funny. That’s a turn on. I think he’s smart and handsome and that’s a turn on for him. We “get” each other and that makes almost any evening together fun and romantic. Before the evening is over we will probably go for a long walk, hug, eat dinner, laugh a lot and find out where the energy takes us.

R.G.B. - Regarding my idea of a really romantic night: Because of the stage of life that my husband and I are in right now (as the parents of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old), one of our favorite types of romantic nights is when the grandparents take care of the kids and we get to go out to eat in a nice, quiet restaurant (quiet being the operative word here). Our day-to-day lives with our kids are very joyful, hectic and action-packed, and the overall decibel level is also quite high! So, these days, for us, being in a quiet restaurant, where the pace is leisurely, the music is soft, and the lights are low and romantic (and all the people around us are also speaking softly), is utter paradise! We can actually have a wonderful (and uninterrupted!) conversation about anything and everything under the sun! We have always enjoyed talking and laughing together, ever since the day we first met back in January of 1988. In fact, I have always thought that great conversation is one of the best aphrodisiacs around, one of the best ways for close, loving, committed couples to feel even closer and to “get in the mood” for romance.

5.) What's next?

J.F. - Rachel and I have ideas for another project and I am working on two more books.

R.G.B. - Switching gears, the project I am working on right now has to do with my ongoing interest in social work-related issues. With the same agent and editorial team, and also with the staff of the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA), I am working on a guide book for people who are thinking seriously about becoming foster parents. And, as Judy mentioned, she and I are making plans to collaborate on another project, and I am very excited about that!

Thank you so much, ladies!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Results of The Liar's Diary Blog Day

On January 29th, I participated in The Liar's Diary Blog Day for Patry Francis. If you go here, you can read the background about it.

I received an email from Karen Dionne on February 1st. Here, in part, is what she had to say:

"In the end, very nearly 400 bloggers helped move her novel from a ranking of 55,000 on amazon at the start of the day, to #1 in Mystery, 375 overall by evening. Those statistics prove the day was a success, but we knew it would be even before the day began because we could see the groundswell of support, feel the sense of community.

Canada's National Post did a story about our effort on the 29th, and the next day, told us it was their third most-read online article EVER."

I am very glad that I was a part of this effort. It goes to show that when people band together, great things can be accomplished.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Review - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire by Judy Ford and Rachel Greene Baldino

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire
Judy Ford,MSW, LCSW and Rachel Greene Baldino,MSW, LCSW
ISBN # 978-1592576784

"You can feel passionate again. Sexy again. You can get the urge again. Reading this book is the beginning of that exciting, sensuous adventure. It will broaden your relationship and help you reach new heights of pleasure. It you read the book and do hte exercises, you will discover a new dimension of intimacy. The more familiar you are with all the ingredients that go into making a passionate liaison, the better lover you will become and the happier your connection will be."

This book gives absolute insight into how intimate relationships work. It lays out step by step the ways couples can become better communicators, better friends and better lovers. Well worth a read if the spark is a little less than lustrous in your marriage or partnership.
(December 4, 2007, pp 272, $16.95)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday Bedside Table and Upcoming Books for February

Only one new book on my bedside table today...

The Fiction Class by Susan Breen

Upcoming books for February...

The Past Comes Back

My father's mother died when he was two years old. He has no working memory of her. My grandfather never really talked about her.

But... my grandma left a few pages about her life, written while she was in the hospital. It's not much, just a little information about her life - how much she loved my grandpa, loved my dad and a bit about her growing up years.

My dad recently found Grandma's diary in the bottom of my grandpa's tool box. My grandpa's second wife didn't want any reminders of my grandma in her house, so Grandpa did what he had to do. The diary covers the year 1942 and the very beginning of 1943. I asked my mom to take a photo of it for me.

I can't wait to visit my folks this summer and get a chance to read my grandma's words. I am tickled that there is some piece of her left, and that writing was important to her, too.