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July 30, 2010 Newsletter July 30, 2010
Orlando Sans the Mouse
As I write, I am flying to Orlando for the Romance Writers of America Conference. This is one of those child-friendly flights that makes me happy I heard those magical words --- “you have been upgraded to first class” --- before I left. Now before everyone gets all crazy on me, I love kids, but when I am working on a flight on a business trip, it’s a lot easier not to have Mickey-eyed little faces peering at me or making their way up and down the aisle.

But before I wax on about Orlando, let me zip back to San Diego where I left off last week. As always, Comic-Con was an experience. It’s a total immersion into pop culture, of which books are a part. Each year there are complaints that comic books and now graphic novels are given too little attention, but personally I like seeing books within this environment that alerts us to the competition for reader attention. All too often, publishing looks at itself as existing on an island without the interference from the outside book culture. The large screens touting upcoming films and television shows throughout the convention center made me want to be ever more vigilant in how we present books on this site and the others across

You can read our Comic-Con coverage here. And the photo galleries with my favorite costumes and some of the more visual moments of the show can be found here. Personally interesting to me were the two people who painted their bodies turquoise, and I shot photos of the boots I saw as part of costumes throughout the show. They intrigued me as I know those are boots that, to me, ain’t for walking. That said, the depths of imagination and detail that went into these costumes amazed me. I failed to capture the hot guys in the Spartacus outfits, though I saw them throughout the show. Let’s just say that they definitely brought history to life in a way that had me paying attention.

I was staying at THE US GRANT hotel, which is one of my favorite hotels. If the manager did not win my heart with the fruit platter at check-in, he had me with the milk and cookies left the last night. Sunday night I did a quick channel check around 9PM to be sure my hotel room had AMC; it did not. (One of my pet peeves at hotels is that the selection of cable channels varies, and when you have an hour between events, even finding the Weather Channel becomes an expedition.) I quickly made a call to the front desk, which alerted me that the bar in the hotel had AMC. Thus, I made my way down there, asked the bartender to turn on "Mad Men" (NASCAR was playing) and proceeded to watch it with subtitles as there was no sound while perched at the bar drinking Pellegrino with lime and knitting. Yes, it was pretty amusing. Interesting thing watching the show is how little dialogue there really is. Seriously. I always say that "Mad Men" reads like a novel, and it did that night, literally.

Tuesday night I re-watched with sound and saw how music and other sounds contributed to the story. You know, maybe the authors can plot a soundtrack for their books. Many post the music that inspired them as they wrote. Perhaps eBooks could incorporate sound to set a mood. Oh dear, what kind of a Pandora’s Box did I just open now? The industry is so obsessed with talking about anything electronic that "e" has become my least favorite letter in the alphabet, so let’s throw music soundtracks into the mix just for fun. For more on enhanced eBooks as they are now, you may want to read this piece from the New York Times. By the way, for those of you who are wondering where the book tie-in is, I found this terrific piece about the books featured in "Mad Men" and some tie-in books here.

Back on, we’re heading into the second week for two of our contests on the site. Our second Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book feature is for THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X by Keigo Higashino, a literary thriller from one of Japan’s most successful and acclaimed novelists. THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X will be his major U.S. debut when it releases in February 2011. It truly is an original novel that will keep you guessing until the very end. This is one that’s making the rounds in our office, and those who have read it have been discussing it secretively so they don't spoil the story for the rest of the office.

The contest ends Thursday, August 5th at 11:59PM ET, and you can enter here. We have 50 specially formatted early reader editions available for those who would like to read the book and answer questions. Note that since this is a very special opportunity, we ask that you enter only if you will be able to finish and comment on the book by the first week in September. We would like to hear from all 50 winners.

Our first Sneak Peek title was STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens, which we were thrilled to see hit the New York Times extended bestseller list at No. 19 and stay there for a second week. Our recent Debut Suspense/Thriller spotlight for STILL MISSING ended a few weeks back, and we have some excellent reader feedback, which you can read here. This one is a true winner, and we are so glad that our readers were early readers and helped champion it!

Our fifth Beach Bag of Books contest also heads into its final week. Five winners will receive a copy of Lisa Jackson’s latest, RUNNING SCARED, as well as a red-and-blue striped beach towel, Crystal Light lemonade, Banana Boat sunblock, a red-and-blue polka dot roll-up beach mat that can double as a picnic blanket, and blue floral picnic ware (including dinner plates, bowls and glasses for four), all packed in an oversized beach tote. Five runners-up will win a copy of the book. Enter here by Friday, August 6th at noon ET for your chance to win. You can read our review here. We also share all our contests on our Facebook page. If you're not on Facebook, you can keep up with our daily postings here.

In closing last week’s newsletter, I asked for your help as we plan our redesign for our young adult site, Please pass along this link to your teenage son or daughter, or any teens with big reading appetites. We welcome all feedback and look forward to designing the best site possible.

We are also contemplating starting a website for those who are in college and in their 20s, a market that we feel is woefully under-served. We have been doing some focus groups on this subject and are getting some great feedback. We would like to ask some more questions of people in that age group in an online survey early next month. If you know of anyone who you think would like to participate, please ask them to drop Maureen ( a note with the subject line “Send Me CO-20 Website Info”. By the way, CO-20 is our code word for the site until we come up with a name for it, though we have a couple that we are noodling around. Thanks so much.

Now Orlando. The RWA conference was to be held in Nashville, but due to the horrific flooding at the Opryland Hotel there, the events were moved to Orlando, which in July should have hot and humid as its definition. RWA is known for having some of the best parties. I still remember the year Greg learned to line dance by standing behind Nora Roberts. I sadly missed the Literacy Signing on Wednesday night where more than 500 romance authors participated in this two-hour autographing event. Since 1990, RWA has donated more than $600,000 to literacy charities. This year RWA has made arrangements to contribute a portion of our charitable donations from the 2010 Literacy Autographing event to Nashville Adult Literacy Council.

My less than 48 hours in this town will be a round of catching up with author and publishing friends. And yes, there will be dancing.

I have AS HUSBANDS GO by Susan Issacs with me this trip. Reviewer Terry Miller Shannon calls it “a fast-paced, delicious read... one big delightful oops-I-read-all-night page-turner." Last week, I read two terrific books between events at Comic-Con. The first was THE PERFECT LOVE SONG by Patti Callahan Henry, a wonderful Christmas novella that will be in stores October 12th. The second was a brilliant YA book called STOLEN by Lucy Christopher, in which a young woman who has been kidnapped from an airport in Thailand tells the story in the form of a letter to her kidnapper. It gives a lot of insight into Stockholm Syndrome, and is so sharp it will stay with you.

Have a great week…here’s to finding something wonderful to read. I am dashing back from this trip (already been upgraded to first class, so I am beaming) to get some floating and reading done on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. No more airplanes for a while!

Carol Fitzgerald (


Author Talk: Carl Hiaasen, Author of STAR ISLAND

Carl Hiaasen has made a name for himself publishing timely, biting satires like NATURE GIRL, FLUSH and SKINNY DIP. His latest work of fiction, STAR ISLAND, takes jabs at celebrity and media culture through the story of a 22-year-old celebutante whose “undercover stunt double” is kidnapped by an obsessive paparazzo. In this interview, Hiaasen explains what inspired this quirky plot and reflects on the importance of sympathizing with even the sleaziest characters he’s created. He also gives his two cents on the rabid popularity of tabloid news and shares a humorous personal experience on the red carpet.

STAR ISLAND by Carl Hiaasen (Fiction)
Meet 22-year-old Cherry Pye, a pop star who is about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster. Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her “undercover stunt double,” Ann DeLusia. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too “indisposed” to go out in public. And it is Ann-mistaken-for-Cherry who is kidnapped from a South Beach hotel by obsessed paparazzo Bang Abbott. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Click here to read a review of STAR ISLAND.
-Click here to read an excerpt from STAR ISLAND.


Click here to read an interview with Carl Hiaasen.'s Sneak Peek Feature: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book --- Our Latest Featured Title: THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X by Keigo Higashino

At, we have the opportunity to read many great books well in advance of their release dates. Now, with our Sneak Peek Feature/Contest, we are offering our readers the chance to preview select early picks --- and share feedback on them. We know that readers champion books that they love, and we want you to be part of the excitement of upcoming releases as early as possible.

Our latest Sneak Peek Feature spotlights THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, a literary thriller by Japanese bestselling author Keigo Higashino, which releases for the first time in the U.S. in February 2011. We have 50 specially formatted early reader editions to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and share their comments about it. We really want to hear what you have to say about THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, so if you will be able to read and comment on the book by the first week in September, please enter this contest. If not, we plan to have more opportunities like this in the future.

A mother. A daughter. A murder that never should have happened…but did. When two professors insert themselves into the equation, the question becomes: How far will one go for love and the other for the truth?

THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X is a literary thriller that will keep you guessing until the end and shock you when you get there.


Click here to read all the details of our Sneak Peek Feature/Contest.'s Latest Summer Beach Bag Contest: RUNNING SCARED by Lisa Jackson

Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck, or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Sixth Annual Beach Bag of Books feature and contests.

During select weeks from May 28th through September 3rd, we will highlight a different book or collection of books from these featured titles with a contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s) and summertime essentials. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

We are currently spotlighting RUNNING SCARED, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson’s latest romantic suspense novel. In an oversized beach bag, winners will find a red-and-blue striped beach towel, Crystal Light lemonade, Banana Boat sunblock, a red-and-blue polka dot roll-up beach mat that can double as a picnic blanket, and blue floral picnic ware (including dinner plates, bowls and glasses for four), as well as a copy of RUNNING SCARED. We have five to give away, as well as five additional prizes of copies of the book.


Click here to read all the contest details.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Henry Perez, Author of MOURN THE LIVING

Henry Perez, who scored a hit with his debut, KILLING RED, returns with MOURN THE LIVING, another cat-and-mouse thriller featuring intrepid journalist Alex Chapa. A methodical killer is on the loose, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Just as Chapa begins to crack the case, he realizes he's the next target.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from MOURN THE LIVING.
-Click here to read Henry Perez’s bio.
-Click here to see Henry Perez’s backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for Henry Perez’s books.
-Visit Henry Perez’s official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

From city to city, one man walks the streets, carefully choosing his victims. Mercilessly, he cuts their throats. And with each kill, he leaves his chilling trademark, honed to razor-sharp perfection over decades of practice. But now, reporter Alex Chapa is tracking the story, following the lead of a murdered colleague --- and getting dangerously close to the most elusive serial killer in decades. When the next victim surfaces bearing the unmistakable calling card, Alex realizes no one is safe from this psychopath’s murderous rage. For the killer has set his sights on Alex and those he loves --- and only their blood will satisfy him…

Click here to read more about Henry Perez and MOURN THE LIVING.


Now in Stores: THE ISLAND by Elin Hilderbrand

THE ISLAND by Elin Hilderbrand (Fiction)
Birdie Cousins has planned a getaway with her daughter Chess just before Chess's upcoming marriage. When Chess abruptly breaks off the wedding and her fiancé shockingly dies in a rock climbing accident, it leaves Chess feeling guilty and deeply depressed. Birdie convinces her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India to join them on Tuckernuck Island for the month of July. Secrets and intrigue soon make their way to the surface.
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.


Click here to read a review of THE ISLAND.


Now in Stores: AS HUSBANDS GO by Susan Isaacs

AS HUSBANDS GO by Susan Isaacs (Fiction)
When Susie B. Anthony Rabinowitz Gersten's wonderful husband is found stabbed to death in a prostitute's apartment, all hell breaks out --- instigated by Susie herself, whose disbelief in the circumstances will not let her rest until she discovers the truth about her tragedy. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.


Click here to read a review of AS HUSBANDS GO.

Now in Stores: DAMAGED by Alex Kava

DAMAGED: A Maggie O'Dell Novel by Alex Kava (Thriller)
On Pensacola Beach, the Coast Guard prepares for a Category 5 hurricane that has entered the Gulf of Mexico. When the air crew patrols the waterways, they spot a huge fishing cooler about a mile offshore. Upon opening the cooler, they’re shocked by what they find: body parts tightly wrapped in plastic. Though she is putting herself in the projected path of the hurricane, Special Agent Maggie O’Dell is sent to investigate. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Click here to read a review of DAMAGED.'s 10th Anniversary Contest --- $10,000 in Prizes! is celebrating its 10th anniversary!

We appreciate all of you who have been loyal readers and contributors to the site. One of the best parts about watching flourish over the last decade has been the opportunity to be a part of book clubs in far-flung places. Imagine if we could celebrate with all of you in person --- what an event that would be! Since that’s not possible, we’ve come up with a way to celebrate with you: a special contest with $10,000 in prizes.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Featured Contests on is the ultimate online resource for reading guides and recommendations for book clubs. In addition to our more than 3,000 guides, we host a number of contests each month where you can win a book to consider as a book club selection, author chats, or books for the entire group. Also, you can win 20 copies of our featured monthly title just by subscribing to our newsletter. July's newsletter contest book is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: 50th Anniversary Edition by Harper Lee. Sign up for our newsletter here and automatically be entered to win. We will announce August’s newsletter contest book next week.

We are currently hosting three special contests on the site. Click on each of the titles for your chance to win a paperback copy of HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger, THE CRYING TREE by Naseem Rakha, and the movie tie-in edition of MAO'S LAST DANCER by Li Cunxin. The entry deadline for each of these contests is Wednesday, August 4th at noon ET.

Groups who register with are eligible for a special monthly newsletter and exclusive contests with prizes that include author chats, signed editions and/or copies of the book for the entire group. Click here to register your group, and you can enter to win an author chat with Travis Thrasher and up to 10 copies of his book, BROKEN.


Click here to visit's 2010 Redesign Survey
We're getting ready to redesign, our site dedicated to teens. After getting some feedback from readers about the design of the site in our 2009 Reader Survey last summer, we now have some more in-depth questions for them about what they would like to see.

We estimate that it will take about 10 minutes to complete the survey.

All of the respondents who complete the survey can enter to win a random drawing to receive one of 100 free books, four $25 gift cards, or the grand prize of a $100 gift card to a bookstore of their choice.

If you know readers who may be interested in responding to this survey, may we ask you to forward this link to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the better!

The survey will close on Monday, August 16th at 11:59PM ET.

-Click here for more information about the survey.

Click here to take the Redesign Survey.

What’s New on
Last weekend's San Diego Comic-Con was the nation's largest celebration of the graphic literature art form. offers coverage of the Con and news about the exciting upcoming books announced at the show. Plus, we have reviews of the latest graphic novels, such as WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN, GIANT MONSTER and THE TERRIBLE AXE-MAN OF NEW ORLEANS; interviews with top creators, including Joshua Dysart, Tracy White and Nick Percival; and much more.
Click here to visit

This Week's Reviews
SHADOW ZONE by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen (Thriller)
While mapping the ancient underwater city of Marinth in the Atlantic Ocean, submersible designer Hannah Bryson makes a shocking discovery: she may have finally uncovered the truth about the once-glorious city’s mysterious demise. With her unexpected new findings, Hannah realizes that the ancient city’s explosive secret could have dire consequences for the modern-day world. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

KINGS OF THE EARTH by Jon Clinch (Fiction)
Vernon, Audie and Creed Proctor are brothers who eek out a living on their rundown dairy farm in upstate New York. The three unmarried siblings share chores, meals and the same filthy bed. When one dies in his sleep, the other two become suspects in his murder. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

THE SCARLET CONTESSA: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance by Jeanne Kalogridis (Historical Fiction)
Caterina Sforza is the daughter of the Duke of Milan and a woman who likes having her way. When marriage takes her to Rome, she has plans for not only riches but also power. Willing to fight her own battles and political struggles, Caterina’s shocking behavior makes her a woman not to be trifled with. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski.

MEMORY WALL: Stories by Anthony Doerr (Fiction/Short Stories)
Set on four continents, Anthony Doerr's new stories are about memory, the source of meaning and coherence in our lives, the fragile thread that connects us to ourselves and to others. Every hour, says Doerr, all over the globe, an infinite number of memories disappear. Yet at the same time children, surveying territory that is entirely new to them, push back the darkness, form fresh memories, and remake the world. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

THE CLOUDS BENEATH THE SUN by Mackenzie Ford (Fiction)
An archaeologist journeys to Kenya to join a prestigious dig for prehuman fossils, but when a colleague is murdered, she must testify in an African court against a Maasai warrior. The outcome of the case will determine race relations in 1960s Kenya and endanger future use of the fossil-rich gorge for archaeological discovery. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

HUNT AMONG THE KILLERS OF MEN by Gabriel Hunt, as told to David J. Schow (Fiction/Action & Adventure)
The warlord’s men came to New York to preserve a terrible secret --- and left a dead body in their wake. Now Gabriel Hunt is on their trail, a path that will take him to the treacherous alleyways and rooftops of Shanghai and a showdown with a madman out to resurrect a deadly figure from China’s past. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

BUDDHA’S ORPHANS by Samrat Upadhyay (Fiction)
BUDDHA’S ORPHANS uses Nepal's political upheavals of the past century as a backdrop to the story of an orphan boy, Raja, and the girl he is fated to love, Nilu, a daughter of privilege. Their love story scandalizes both families and takes readers through time and across the globe, through the loss of and search for children, and through several generations. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.
Click here to read this week's reviews.

Poll and Question of the Week: Buying eReaders


How much would you be willing to spend on an eReader?

Less than $75

I already have an eReader.
I’m not interested in buying an eReader.
I’m not sure.

Would you be more tempted to buy an eReader if you could get a print copy of a book as well as the eBook version at the same time?

Yes, having the book available in both formats would make this more attractive to me.
No, having the book available in both formats would not make this more attractive to me.
Maybe, but it depends on the price.|
I have no interest in eBooks.
I'm not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


If you already have an eReader, what prompted you to purchase it? If not, what is holding you back?

-Click here to answer our question.


Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win THREE Books!
Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have three great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of RICH BOY by Sharon Pomerantz, A STRANGER LIKE YOU by Elizabeth Brundage and TOUGH CUSTOMER by Sandra Brown. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, August 13th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.

As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the Write to Us page. If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by July 31, 2010 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: CORDUROY MANSIONS by Alexander McCall Smith, LIVE TO TELL: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel by Lisa Gardner, THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR by Daniel Silva, RULES OF BETRAYAL by Christopher Reich, and STAR ISLAND by Carl Hiaasen. Debbie from Del City, OK was last month's winner. She won BROKEN by Karin Slaughter, ICE COLD: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen, THE LION by Nelson DeMille, ROBERT LUDLUM'S THE BOURNE OBJECTIVE by Eric Van Lustbader, and SIZZLING SIXTEEN: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich.

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

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