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May 1, 2009 Newsletter May 1, 2009
What's Your Wish?
Last weekend I stayed at the W Hotel in Westwood when I was in town for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Every time I called downstairs, whoever was at the front desk would answer and say, “What’s your wish?” And every time it would just make me start laughing. I would think, WHAT should I ask for? A wakeup call sounds so very trite, though it did start with a W! They are all into W words at the hotel --- parking is “wheels,” and everything else is labeled --- “when,” “where,” “what” and “why.” When the boys were in pre-school they would have a letter of the week to study. If only the W had been around then for “W week.”

My four days in L.A. were another W word --- wonderful. I started out at The Mystery Bookstore, which was packed with dozens of authors and fans for their annual kickoff party. It’s a destination that has a reunion type feel each year. Many familiar faces are there every year, like T. Jefferson Parker, Carol Higgins Clark, Mary Higgins Clark, Lee Goldberg and Paul Levine. This year Robert Dugoni, whose book
WRONGFUL DEATH I had been reading --- and loving --- on the plane, was there adding a new face to the mix. It’s a real way to feel right at home as soon as you get into town as Bobby and Linda set the right mood for the weekend.

Saturday morning, after breakfast with Katie Arnoldi, who caught me up on her new writing, I headed over to the Festival. Dodd is the hall for all things mystery, and so I started there seeing Jan Burke, Stephen J. Cannell, the aforementioned Dugoni and Craig Johnson on a panel moderated by Lee Goldberg, where the conversation was both smart and spirited. While I love many many things about the L.A. event, I do wish that they added the titles of the authors' books on the program. I confess that there are times I recognize a book title and not an author’s name, or vice versa. Or I want to remember a book for later, and I do not keep great notes!

After this event, I met up with Mitchell Kaplan --- the bookstore extraordinaire and founder of the Miami Book Fair --- who was in town “taking meetings” about the film adaptation of THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY that he had optioned the film rights for. It should be noted that this book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for 32 weeks (as of next week), which truly is a stellar achievement and makes me want to ask readers why they, like me, loved this book so much. We strolled the show seeing publishing folks and authors along the way. And we saw readers, lots of readers. And lots and lots of smiling faces. I love the atmosphere that gets created when a lot of likeminded folks get together and start buzzing on something they love.

Mitch and I parted, and I headed to a panel called Cops & Crooks in California, moderated by Robert Crais with T. Jefferson Parker, Joseph Wambaugh and Don Winslow. I had seen everyone but Winslow at events in the past, and since I loved THE DAWN PATROL --- and look forward to his new one, THE GENTLEMEN’S HOUR --- this was really fun. Wish I had had time to meet him, but instead I zipped all the way across campus --- and I do mean ALL the way --- to see Dave Cullen, the author of COLUMBINE, in conversation with David L. Ulin from the Times. The part of the talk I caught was as interesting as the Q&A that followed as readers were so connected with this book.

That evening was drinks with Otis Chandler, the founder of and his lovely wife, Elizabeth, where there was lots more bookish chatter. Sunday I started with breakfast with Lisa See where we talked SHANGHAI GIRLS, and she told me about a brilliant idea for a blog piece she is writing for us for, and we then proceeded to talk books and life for more than two hours. Between my breakfast with Katie and this one, I think the wait staff was ready to say “WHEN are you going to leave?” Another W word. For the record, two breakfasts in a row only happens on the west coast. I am only a morning girl when I am dealing with time difference, thus I ate PANCAKES on Sunday.

Once I got over to the campus, the first panel I caught was with Paul Levine, Lisa Scottoline, John Shannon and Stuart Woods. Their commentary was lively and slamdunk fun. Levine, who had gotten a couple of shoutouts about his new one ILLEGAL from Stephen J. Cannell the day before, was in rare form. And Lisa Scottoline always impresses me with how much she reads both in her genre and in general. The photo of the two of us that you see above was taken as I stopped by The Mystery Bookstore booth where she was signing books. We both were beaming, weren’t we? I was smiling like that all weekend.

I was thrilled to meet Kathy, one of our readers, who was one of the volunteers for the room where these events were taking place. It was ever so nice to put a face to the name! We talked puppies, of all things, since her family is raising a Seeing Eye puppy. We will be exploring what I am calling Seeing Eye puppy babysitting later this month since conversation with Kathy assured me that one of these rambunctious little rascals would be more work than we can handle here!
There were other readers who I hoped to see along the way, but schedules never jived, making me think I need to organize better next year.

The next panel was with Cara Black, Harley Jane Kozak and Lisa Lutz. Their great banter and conversation was moderated by Mary McNamara. In fact, she was so good as a moderator that I decided to change my end of the day plan and instead opted to see her interview Michael J Fox (whose new memoir, ALWAYS LOOKING UP, we review this week). And I am glad I made that decision. What an optimistic and upbeat conversation to close the Festival. Fox is hosting a special about optimism on May 7th, and he traveled to Bhutan to find people who are the happiest in the world. I do wonder if he learned this from Eric Weiner’s multi-award-winning book, THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World.

This was Edgars week in New York, thus the bookish action did not stop in L.A. On Wednesday I got to hear the two Grandmasters, Sue Grafton and James Lee Burke, interviewed, and they were smart and fun. They were feted last night at the Edgar Awards, the evening where the mystery world celebrates itself. We have the winners below!

We are launching a new feature this week for PEOPLE DIE by Kevin Wignall, which will be releasing on May 5th. If you are a fan of espionage thrillers, I think you'll really enjoy this one. We have 10 copies of PEOPLE DIE to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, May 8th.

There are a few more hours left for you to celebrate Shop Indie Day, where readers are being asked to buy a book from an indie store. I phoned my order in as my local indie store closes at 6:00, and I knew I would be typing late. I feel quite strongly about supporting the stores I care about, and you can see why reading this blog, which was also picked by The Huffington Post.

No major plans for the weekend. My husband is away playing golf for four days, so it’s me and the boys. Monday night I will be at the Word Bookstore in Brooklyn interviewing Emmanuel Guibert, the creator of THE PHOTOGRAPHER, in an event that will be videotaped. If you are around that neck of the woods, come on by. The book is brilliant, and it promises to be a great evening. Whew….I need a NAP. Have a great week!

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Nancy Bush, Author of UNSEEN
Nancy Bush has written over 40 mystery, romance, historical and YA novels, including the Jane Kelly Mysteries and the Nancy Drew Files series. Her latest work of fiction, UNSEEN, is her first solo attempt at penning a suspense/thriller, which features some of the characters she created in a book she had co-written with her sister, author Lisa Jackson. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Bush weighs in on the controversial psychological condition that figures greatly in her book, Dissociative Identity Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder), and explains why this story is darker in tone than many of her previous titles. She also discusses why she likes exploring several different genres in her work, shares her personal cure for writer’s block, and talks about future projects in the works --- both solo efforts and collaborations with Lisa Jackson.

UNSEEN by Nancy Bush (Romantic Suspense)
Gemma LaPorte wakes up in a hospital and knows her name and where she lives, but there are blank spaces in her memory. When released, she senses she’s being watched but thinks she's overreacting. As the days pass, Gemma begins having blackouts, waking up and having no idea where she's been or what she's done, especially when she finds blood on her hands. Has she committed murder? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

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

Click here to read our interview with Nancy Bush. Talks to John Manning, Author of ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS's Joe Hartlaub recently spoke with author John Manning about his debut thriller novel, ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS. In this interview, Manning traces the inspiration behind this book to one of his favorite movies from the ’70s and sheds light on the facets of some of his characters. He also shares his thoughts on spiritual phenomena --- which play an important role in the story --- muses on the possibility of a sequel, and gives details about his next project, hopefully due out next year.

ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS by John Manning (Thriller)
Two decades ago, at a private women’s college in upstate New York, a student was brutally attacked in her dorm room, but her assailant was never found. Sue Barlow arrives at Wilbourne College 20 years later. When a classmate disappears, Sue thinks it’s an isolated incident until two other girls vanish. As fear grows on campus, Sue begins to sense she’s being watched, and as the body count rises, she soon realizes that a twisted psychopath is summoning her to play a wicked game. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from ALL THE PRETTY DEAD GIRLS.

Click here to read our interview with John Manning.

Great Books for Moms for Mother's Day
Mother’s Day is a time torecognize the women who raised and nurtured us. Why not brighten their special day with a great book? From April 17th through May 1st, readers had the chance to win one of our five Mother’s Day Gift Baskets filled with goodies Mom will just love, as well as one copy of ALL 13 of our featured books. Thanks to all the readers who entered and told us their favorite book that their moms read to them. We will announce the winners shortly.

Although the contest has ended, we encourage you to visit our Mother's Day feature. With titles that are moving, uplifting, humorous and informative, look no further than here for the perfect gift for Mom.

Our featured Mother’s Day titles are:

-BAD MOTHER: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman
-THE DIARY by Eileen Goudge
-FLOWERS ON MAIN: A Chesapeake Shores Novel by Sherryl Woods
-THE GIRLS FROM AMES: A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow
-HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy
-PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dallas
-STERN MEN by Elizabeth Gilbert
-TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith
-TIME IS A RIVER by Mary Alice Monroe

Click here to see our Mother's Day suggestions.

New Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kevin Wignall, Author of PEOPLE DIE
Kevin Wignall knows how to craft a gripping espionage thriller. In 2008, his novel WHO IS CONRAD HIRST? was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. In PEOPLE DIE, Wignall's first title being re-released by Pinnacle Books on May 5th, a renowned assassin finds himself on the run for his life.

We have 10 copies of PEOPLE DIE to give away to readers who would like to preview the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, May 8th.

-Click here to read Kevin Wignall’s bio.
-Visit Kevin Wignall’s official website,

More about PEOPLE DIE:
In the assassination game, everything can change with a single bullet. For the first time, the predator now finds himself the prey. How can a hit man outsmart another hit man? International hit man JJ must stay one step ahead of his enemies as he fights to expose a dangerous conspiracy --- and live to kill another day.

Click here to read more about Kevin Wignall and PEOPLE DIE.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: John Sandford, Author of WICKED PREY

For 20 years, John Sandford’s books have been beloved for their “ingenious plots, vivid characters, crisp dialogue and endless surprises” (The Washington Post). Sandford is the author of 19 Prey novels and eight other books, including, most recently, HEAT LIGHTNING. In WICKED PREY, his newest Prey thriller releasing on May 12th, Lucas Davenport faces danger on multiple fronts when the Republican National Convention comes to St. Paul.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from WICKED PREY.
-Click here to read John Sandford’s bio.
-Click here to see John Sandford's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for WICKED PREY.
-Visit John Sandford’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about WICKED PREY:
Danger stalks Lucas Davenport at work and all too close to home, in the superlative new thriller by the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

The Republicans are coming to St. Paul for their convention. Crashing the party are a few hard cases the police would rather stayed away, including a crew of professional stickup men who’ve spotted several lucrative opportunities. All that’s headache enough for Lucas Davenport --- but what’s about to hit him is even worse.


Click here to read more about John Sandford and WICKED PREY.

Featured One to Watch Author: Norman Ollestad, Author of CRAZY FOR THE STORM: A Memoir of Survival
From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. In CRAZY FOR THE STORM, Ollestad’s riveting memoir of survival, the author recounts how these exhilarating tests of skill prepared him to become a fearless champion --- and ultimately saved his life. CRAZY FOR THE STORM will be available in stores on June 2nd.

-Click here to read an excerpt from CRAZY FOR THE STORM.
-Click here to read Norman Ollestad’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for CRAZY FOR THE STORM.
-Visit Norman Ollestad’s official website,
-Visit the publisher’s website,
-Click here to watch a video in which Norman Ollestad discusses CRAZY FOR THE STORM.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

February 1979: 11 year-old Norman Ollestad is the lone survivor of a harrowing plane crash that kills his magnetic, adrenaline-addicted father, a man who stopped at nothing to mold his son into a fearless surfer and ski champion. Set amid the uninhibited beach culture of Malibu and Mexico, this story of an extraordinary father-son bond has also been hailed by Susan Cheever as “a heart-stopping adventure” that asks “what it means to lead a life without limits.”

Click here to read more about Norman Ollestad and CRAZY FOR THE STORM.

Now in Stores: DEAD BEFORE DARK by Wendy Corsi Staub

DEAD BEFORE DARK by Wendy Corsi Staub (Thriller)
Thirty-five tortuous prison years made the Night Watchman’s desire to murder again build like shaken champagne. He is free --- at last! --- and the cork is ready to pop, letting him reclaim macabre fame that made him as notorious as Jack the Ripper. Scotland Yard is out of the question in the mean streets of several U.S. cities, leaving only renowned psychic Lucinda Sloan to keep America safe. But who keeps Lucinda safe from the Night Watchman? Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy.

-Click here to read an excerpt from DEAD BEFORE DARK.
-Visit Wendy Corsi Staub’s official website,


Click here to read a review of DEAD BEFORE DARK.

Now in Stores: ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz

ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Fiction)
In this exquisitely rendered portrait, Portia Nathan's life is almost entirely devoted to her work as one of Princeton University's admissions officers. When a change in her domestic life splits her emotions wide open, Portia must face devastating truths about herself, as her past life collides with the present. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.


Click here to read a review of ADMISSION.

The 2009 Edgar Awards
On April 30, 2009 in New York City, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) held their 63rd annual Gala Banquet, where the winners of this year's Edgar Allan Poe Awards were announced. This ceremony honored the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, television and film published or produced in 2008.

For more information about the Edgar Awards and the Mystery Writers of America, go to

Click here to see the winners of the 2009 Edgar Awards.

Books into Movies/Books into Movies on DVD for May

Though spring is definitely in the air this May,’s Books into Movies feature boasts the first taste of this year’s summer blockbuster season with the hugely anticipated Angels & Demons, set to hit the big screen on May 15th. In this adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestseller, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon of The Da Vinci Code fame takes on a secret organization set out to destroy the Vatican. Controversies aside, Angels & Demons promises to be dark, creepy, nail-biting, thought-provoking, and just plain fun.

Also, set to be released on DVD this month: last year’s epic love story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the stark emotional indie film Wendy and Lucy, and the familial drama A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.


Click here for more details about May's films.

What's New on is our website for Christian readers, with monthly updates of reviews and interviews, as well as discussion guides, book excerpts, a monthly newsletter and more. A special feature on the site is the Faithful Fifteen, in which authors answer a series of questions about writing and faith.

Here are some of the titles currently being featured on

-THE 7 GREAT PRAYERS: For a Lifetime of Hope and Blessings by Paul and Tracey McManus
-ANGEL OF WRATH by Bill Myers
-CHASING CHARITY: Texas Fortunes Trilogy, Book 2 by Marcia Gruver
-FINDING GRACE: A True Story About Losing Your Way in Life…and Finding it Again by Donna VanLiere
-HIS NAME IS JESUS: The Promise of God's Love Fulfilled by Max Lucado
-LAST MANGO IN TEXAS by Ray Blackston
-MY SON, JOHN by Kathi Macias
-THE RELUCTANT COWGIRL: The McCord Sisters, Book 1 by Christine Lynxwiler
-SO BEAUTIFUL: Divine Design for Life and the Church by Leonard Sweet
-STILL GOING IT ALONE: Mothering With Faith and Finesse When the Children Have Grown by Michele Howe

Click here to visit

This Week's Reviews

INTENT TO KILL by James Grippando (Thriller)
In a departure from his Jack Swyteck series, James Grippando tells the story of a fallen baseball star who must use his new skills as Boston's king of sports radio to outwit a dangerous caller and prove --- live and on the air --- that the hit-and-run that killed his wife was no accident. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

HOME SAFE by Elizabeth Berg (Fiction)
Elizabeth Berg tells the story of the recently widowed Helen Ames and of her 27-year-old daughter Tessa. Helen is shocked to discover that her mild-mannered and loyal husband had been leading a double life. The Ames’s had saved money for a happy retirement, planned in minute detail, but that money has disappeared in several big withdrawals --- spent by Helen’s husband before he died. Reviewed by Jennifer McCord.

ALWAYS LOOKING UP: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox (Memoir)
World-famous star of the big and small screen, Michael J. Fox is back with his second memoir following LUCKY MAN in 2002. In ALWAYS LOOKING UP, he talks about the past 10 years of his life and his battle with Parkinson’s disease, focusing on his work, politics, faith and family. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

THE COLOR OF LIGHTNING by Paulette Jiles (Historical Fiction)
In 1863, the War Between the States creeps slowly yet inevitably toward its bloody conclusion --- and eastern thoughts are already turning to different wars and enemies. Paulette Jiles’s latest novel, set in North Texas at the end of the Civil War, is a complex, multicultural Western, a mixture of riveting action and poetic, deeply felt writing. Reviewed by Kathy Weissman.

THE SONG IS YOU by Arthur Phillips (Fiction)
Arthur Phillips’s fourth novel takes some genuine risks. In less capable hands, his romantic, powerful meditation on music and human connection could have become a ludicrous farce or a creepy tale of middle-aged sexual obsession. With his characteristic playfulness and inventiveness, however, Phillips elevates his story to the realm of literary fantasy and musical meditation in terms that will speak to readers and music lovers alike. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

SAG HARBOR by Colson Whitehead (Fiction)
Colson Whitehead’s fourth novel is a lighthearted, distinctive coming-of-age tale about a group of upper middle-class black teenagers passing one seemingly uneventful summer in Sag Harbor, Long Island. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

THE LAST TESTAMENT by Sam Bourne (Thriller)
As American tanks roll across Iraq and overtake Baghdad, looting breaks out in the city. In the midst of the chaos, an Iraqi teenage boy removes an ancient clay tablet from the Museum of Antiquities. His actions set in motion a series of events and discoveries of biblical proportions. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas (Romance)
Ella Varner believes marriage is for other people --- until she is seduced by Texas millionaire real estate mogul Jack Travis. SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER is a journey of love, one that includes letting go of old fears and having the courage to be open to new experiences and people who invite you to be a part of their lives. Reviewed by Hillary Wagy.


Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: All About Moms

Which female writer or character does/did your mom most remind you of?

Erma Bombeck
Candace Bushnell
Jackie Collins
Joan Didion
Nora Ephron
Anna Quindlen
Amy Sedaris
Martha Stewart
Ayelet Waldman
Jenny Fields (THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP by John Irving)
Ma Ingalls (Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder)
Miss Julia (Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross)
Margaret "Marmee" March (LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott)
Mrs. Weasley (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)
None of the above

-Click here to answer our poll.


If you are a mom, which character or author are you most like?

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- THREE Prizes

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 CEMETERY DANCE by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, ROOFTOPS OF TEHRAN by Mahbod Seraji and THE WAY HOME by George Pelecanos. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on May 15th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.


Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.


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 May 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: GONE TOMORROW: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child, ROAD DOGS by Elmore Leonard, THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly, SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See and THE SIGN by Raymond Khoury. Jacki from Burlington, VT was last month's newsletter winner. She won BONEMAN'S DAUGHTERS by Ted Dekker, CURSED: A Regan Reilly Mystery by Carol Higgins Clark, FIRST FAMILY by David Baldacci, JUST TAKE MY HEART by Mary Higgins Clark and TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT: The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith.

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