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October 30, 2009 Newsletter October 30, 2009
Celebrating the Little Things...
As I write, I keep hearing the theme song from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" in my head. Yes, the countdown to the annual sugarfest is on. Update: There is no tiger print fabric available in our area to create a Hobbes costume for Cory. I know since I searched for it for three hours last Saturday. I came very close to buying an orange prison jumpsuit costume in an adult size and altering it to fit him and plunking stripes onto it, but instead I picked up a black sweatsuit and some orange and white felt for what was going to be an intense craft project.

I came home Monday night after a business dinner to find that Cory and my husband had SEWN an orange body for the costume from felt and were planning the stripes. Seriously, this was pretty amazing. Thus, Hobbes is under control sans additional intervention from me. We just learned that Cory’s friend Stephen, who is Calvin in this trick-or-treat duo, has a hockey game at 6 tomorrow, but somehow “they have a plan” on how to get the MAXIMUM candy in spite of this. I await driving instructions. And since my sartorial skills have been usurped, I am concentrating on black bean chili and the Halloween cake --- chocolate cake shaped like a jack-o'-lantern and decorated in orange.

While we often focus on the BIG moments in life --- holidays and milestones --- a few things happened this week that reminded me that each day there is a reason to celebrate. I have ascribed to this for years, but reminders are good.

The first was NOTES LEFT BEHIND by Brooke and Keith Desserich. Their six-year-old daughter Elena was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer and died just nine months later. As Elena lost her voice and the ability to walk, she communicated through writing and drawing. Unbenownst to her parents, she was writing notes and leaving them around the house tucking them in between books in the bookcase, the holiday ornament boxes and other places where they would later find them as they moved through their everyday lives. There were lots of hearts, lots of little girl swirls and curlicues, and lots of “I love yous.”

Yes, it’s a tearjerker, but more than that, there’s a story here about celebrating every day. In one chapter, Keith realizes that they have never taken a formal family picture --- and the time for this was growing short. It was always “next year.” When Keith writes “take a picture now,” you hear this as a message from one who knows that some things should not be postponed for later. Reading the book, you think about all the things you earmark for “next year” or “tomorrow.” Upon closing this book, you’ll want to cross one of those off this week. Elena was wise beyond her years and left quite a legacy of love. You can see more about this book here.

Also, on the theme of celebrating life, M. J. Rose, the author of the Reincarnationist series and a longtime friend to me and all of us at, shared news this week that her husband, Doug Scofield, received a kidney transplant. Through M. J.’s experience over the past 18 months, I learned about the agonizing wait that most people go through waiting for donor organs with a match. It can be four to five years, and many people die before an organ is made available. I signed up to become an organ donor the last time I renewed my license. May I suggest that you take steps to do the same?

As the mom of boys, I read a book last night that is just such fun, RULES FOR MY UNBORN SON by Walker Lamond. It’s short lines of wisdom of things that Walker thinks boys should know based in part on what he observed from his own dad. I took particular note of each time he mentioned something nice that should be done for MOM. Good reading...great wisdom and it’s a perfect “gift book” for the holidays or new parents. Smart wisdom.

We have the Books for a Better Life Awards finalists here. The winners will be announced in February. I love these awards, as they are really inspiring. Speaking of even more inspiration, which seems to be the theme of this note, we have a review of a book I told you about a few weeks ago, THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND. Here is what our reviewer, Barbara Bamberger Scott, had to say: “Have you ever cried with joy? If not, then here’s your chance. This tale, a true story of determination, conquering adversity and ingenuity lost and found in a hostile landscape, will make you cheer as you follow a young African boy who sets out to do the impossible. It’s a story that well embodies the concept of ‘the audacity of hope’ with no strings attached.”

We have received some great feedback from our advance readers of WINDFALL by Penny Vincenzi, which you may read here. I love how these readers got caught up in this sweeping story and how they want to read more of Penny’s work! Five readers were selected to receive a signed copy of the first three titles in Kylie Brant’s The Mindhunters series: WAKING NIGHTMARE, WAKING EVIL and WAKING THE DEAD. You may see our winners here.

It's been nice seeing more of you join our Fan page on Facebook. I enjoy reading your comments and discussions. On Facebook and not a fan yet? Then click here. And for those of you who are not on Facebook, here’s the weekly wrap-up of the features you missed.

Next Saturday, November 7th is National Bookstore Day, a celebration of bookselling. Readers are encouraged to shop in their local stores. Here is a list of participating stores, though if your local store is not listed, you still can celebrate the day with shopping. Here’s hoping we have suggestions of titles you may enjoy.

I am off to Providence, Rhode Island, where I am giving a presentation and then flying back to celebrate Halloween. I am flying up on a prop plane...sure hope the pilot is watching the horizon, not his laptop. That story of the flight that overshot Minneapolis the other day gave me pause. And a pilot pal told ummm...happens all the time. Okay, maybe when the flight attendant comes by, I will inquire what the PILOT is doing now.

Cannot wait for the extra hour on Sunday…I have 24 different ways earmarked to enjoy it…seriously!

Have a great week…here’s finding something you enjoy reading…and time to celebrate something little as well as something big.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to John Lutz, Author of URGE TO KILL
URGE TO KILL, John Lutz's fourth novel to feature protagonist Frank Quinn, finds the former NYPD police detective leaving retirement in order to investigate two strings of serial murders that may have been committed by the same killer. In this interview with's Joe Hartlaub, Lutz explains how an observation made during his stint as a civilian employee with the St. Louis PD prompted him to focus this series on older, more experienced members of law enforcement, and why he chose a rather unlikely setting for one of the book's most chilling scenes. He also reflects on the appeal of serial murders for thriller readers, selects his dream cast if the novel were ever to be adapted to film, and shares some of his favorite reads from the last several months.

URGE TO KILL by John Lutz (Thriller)
Homicide detective Frank Quinn can’t stay retired when there’s a new breed of murdering madman on the prowl. In a city terrorized by bloody brutality, Det. Quinn and his team hunt a psychopath who lures beautiful women into a night of unbridled passion, then wakes them to a vicious, drawn-out death. Stumbling over a trail of horribly defiled bodies, Quinn can’t catch the killer --- because the killer is about to catch him. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of URGE TO KILL.
-Click here to read an excerpt from URGE TO KILL.

Click here to read our interview with John Lutz.

Author Talk: Anne Rice, Author of ANGEL TIME
Anne Rice's latest release, ANGEL TIME, is the first book in a new series of metaphysical thrillers called Songs for the Seraphim. In this interview, Rice describes her aim for these novels and explains what inspired the concept behind "Angel Time." She also reflects on the appeal of these heavenly beings, discusses some of the fun settings featured in the book, and shares details about the series' next installment, WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME.

ANGEL TIME: The Songs of the Seraphim by Anne Rice (Metaphysical Thriller)
A lethal assassin finds he has no taste for his job anymore, for he has seen a way beyond killing back to a life he envisioned for himself before tragedy struck him at a formative age. Anne Rice returns to the mesmerizing storytelling that has captivated readers for more than three decades in a metaphysical thriller about angels and assassins. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

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

Click here to read an interview with Anne Rice.

Now in Stores: LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER by John Irving
LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER by John Irving (Fiction)
John Irving’s 12th novel is a shaggy, shambling, lovable bear of a book. Inspired, in part, by Bob Dylan’s song “Tangled Up in Blue,” it is vintage Irving, stuffed to overflowing with a cast of memorable characters, dark humor, a surfeit of tragedy and loss, and enough love, sex and death to fill at least two or three less ambitious novels. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to read an excerpt from LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER.

Click here to read a review of LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER.

Now in Stores: TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci
TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci (Thriller)
David Baldacci’s latest release is a stand-alone novel featuring ex-cop Mace Perry and attorney Roy Kingman. TRUE BLUE presents a mysterious high-profile homicide in the nation’s capital that collides with the dark side of national security, with unexpected outcomes and lethal twists at every turn. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read an excerpt from TRUE BLUE.

Click here to read a review of TRUE BLUE.

Now in Stores: THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (Memoir)
Have you ever cried with joy? If not, then here’s your chance. This tale, a true story of determination, conquering adversity and ingenuity lost and found in a hostile landscape, will make you cheer as you follow a young African boy who sets out to do the impossible. It’s a story that well embodies the concept of “the audacity of hope” with no strings attached. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

Click here to read a review of THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND.

Now in Stores: ABANDONED by Cody McFadyen
ABANDONED by Cody McFadyen (Thriller)
Cody McFadyen, acclaimed author of THE DARKER SIDE, THE FACE OF DEATH and SHADOW MAN, delivers this shocking new thriller that brings to light a psychopath unlike any we’ve ever seen --- a killer who thrives in absolute darkness and doesn’t derive pleasure from the kill. And only one woman has the ability to see him coming…even if it’s already too late to stop her own murder. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from ABANDONED.
-Visit Cody McFadyen’s official website,

Click here to read a review of ABANDONED. Talks to Berkeley Breathed, Creator of Bloom County
It’s been 20 years since Berkeley Breathed left the world of Bloom County behind. Since then, he has kept busy with such strips as Outland and Opus and writing prose works, but his defining work remains the one he began on December 8, 1980. After all these years and multiple requests from fans and publishers alike, he has agreed to collect his Bloom County work in five oversized volumes. Each of the Bloom County: The Complete Library editions will feature not only the strips themselves, carefully reproduced, but also running commentary from Breathed himself as he looks back on the characters and settings he once inhabited daily.’s John Hogan talked to Breathed about what he thought of his work now that he’s looking back on it from the distance of the 21st century.

BLOOM COUNTY: THE COMPLETE LIBRARY, Volume One: 1980-1982 written and illustrated by Berkeley Breathed (Graphic Novel)
Berkley Breathed's Bloom County was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed newspaper strips of all time. BLOOM COUNTY: THE COMPLETE LIBRARY highlights the first time the entire run of the immensely popular Bloom County strip has been collected in beautifully designed hardcover books with exceptional reproduction. Reviewed by John Hogan.

-Click here to read a review of BLOOM COUNTY: THE COMPLETE LIBRARY, Volume One: 1980-1982.

Click here to read our interview with Berkeley Breathed.'s Beyond the Pages Feature: Spotlight on Robert Weil, Executive Editor and Vice President, W.W. Norton

In his long career as an editor, Robert Weil has worked with some of the most successful and revered authors in the world. Recently, he served as editor on THE HEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO by Annette Gordon-Reed, which won multiple awards, including the 2008 National Book Award for nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2009, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Prize for biography. His storied career also includes some graphic works --- two very notable works, in fact. The first is the bestselling STITCHES by David Small, which has been nominated for this year's National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category, and the latest is R. Crumb’s THE BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED, which debuted last week at the top of the New York Times Graphic Books Bestseller List.

John Hogan, the Editorial Director for,
talked with Weil about how he got started working on graphic books in the first place, how he edits them, and what it was like to work on both GENESIS and STITCHES.

THE BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED written and illustrated by R. Crumb (Graphic Novel)
Envisioning the first book of the Bible like no one before him, R. Crumb, the legendary illustrator, reveals the story of Genesis in a profoundly honest and deeply moving way. Originally thinking he would do a takeoff of Adam and Eve, Crumb became so fascinated by the Bible’s language that he decided instead to do a literal interpretation using the text word for word in a version primarily assembled from the translations of Robert Alter and the King James Bible. Reviewed by John Hogan.

here to read a review of THE BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED.

STITCHES: A Memoir by David Small (Graphic Memoir)
The youngest of two children, David Small had problems with each of his family members, all of whom isolated themselves in some way and caused him some kind of turmoil. But it was his father who did the most lasting damage. The ongoing radiology treatments performed on Small --- done to “cure” him of sicknesses he faced --- perhaps caused the cancerous growth that had to be removed, along with one of his vocal cords, at the age of 14. Small recreates a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. Reviewed by John Hogan.

-Click here to read a review of STITCHES.
-Click here to read our interview with David Small.


Click here to read's Beyond the Pages feature with Robert Weil.

Featured Historical Fiction Author: Sandra Brown, Author of RAINWATER

Sandra Brown is the author of more than 50 New York Times bestsellers --- including most recently SMASH CUT and SMOKE SCREEN --- and is the recipient of the 2008 Thriller Master Award from International Thriller Writers, Inc. In RAINWATER, her historical fiction debut releasing on November 3rd, Brown delivers a powerful story set during the desperate and often violent time of the Great Depression.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from RAINWATER.
-Click here to read Sandra Brown’s bio.
-Click here to see Sandra Brown’s backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for Sandra Brown.
-Visit Sandra Brown’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about RAINWATER:
From acclaimed bestselling author Sandra Brown comes a powerfully moving novel celebrating the gifts, generosity and foresight of a great bygone generation. Centered around an independent woman who runs a Texas boarding house during the Dust Bowl and a mysterious boarder, RAINWATER tells a story that bears witness to a bittersweet truth: that love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.


Click here to read more about Sandra Brown and RAINWATER.

Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: Craig Larsen, Author of MANIA

Debut author Craig Larsen is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. In MANIA, which releases on November 3rd, he delivers a riveting and critically acclaimed psychological thriller about a man struggling to come to terms with himself while his world is unraveling around him.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from MANIA.
-Click here to read Craig Larsen’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for MANIA.
-Visit Craig Larsen’s official website,
-Click here to view a trailer for MANIA.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about MANIA:
In the bestselling tradition of Dennis Lehane’s MYSTIC RIVER and Harlen Coben’s TELL NO ONE, talented debut writer Craig Larsen delivers a page-turning, atmospheric psychological thriller. Newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has been tracking a deranged killer through the dark streets of Seattle. But when the Street Butcher claims Nick's brother as his latest victim, Nick's world is turned upside-down. As he zeroes in on the killer, Nick finds himself led in a dizzying circle back to himself. Lee Child calls MANIA "everything a great thriller should be." William Lashner says, "Craig Larsen taps into our deepest terror, that the evil we fear most resides in our own hearts."

"Larsen takes you into a disturbing world of intimate danger and dark passion."

--Harlen Coben, New York Times bestselling author


Click here to read more about Craig Larsen and MANIA.

Featured Mystery Mayhem Author: Joanne Fluke, Author of PLUM PUDDING MURDER
Like the protagonist in her popular Hannah Swensen mysteries, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota. In PLUM PUDDING MURDER, the newest addition to the series, Fluke offers a delightful holiday-themed mystery. The yuletide season in Lake Eden, Minnesota, guarantees a white Christmas, delectable holiday goodies from Hannah Swensen's bakery, The Cookie Jar --- and murder. PLUM PUDDING MURDER is now available in stores.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from PLUM PUDDING MURDER.
-Click here to read Joanne Fluke’s bio.
-Click here to see Joanne Fluke’s backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for PLUM PUDDING MURDER.
-Visit Joanne Fluke’s official website,

-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

New York Times bestselling author Joanne Fluke serves up a deliciously deadly holiday treat with her new Hannah Swensen mystery. PLUM PUDDING MURDER includes 12 original dessert recipes, including recipes for a complete Christmas dinner.

Click here to read more about Joanne Fluke and PLUM PUDDING MURDER.

Special Feature and Contest on THE CHRISTMAS LAMP Giveaway
On, we are celebrating the release of THE CHRISTMAS LAMP by Lori Copeland --- a beautiful novella that sheds light on the real origins of Christmas spirit --- with a special contest. In a wicker gift basket, three Grand Prize winners will receive a signed copy of THE CHRISTMAS LAMP, as well as a large Christmas Eve-scented candle by Yankee Candle Company, two balsam- and cedar-scented Yankee car fresheners, a lamp ornament from Bronners and a container of Godiva Hot Cocoa. Fifteen runners-up will receive a signed copy of THE CHRISTMAS LAMP. Readers who answer the question correctly by reading an excerpt from THE CHRISTMAS LAMP will be automatically entered to win.

THE CHRISTMAS LAMP by Lori Copeland (Fiction)
When the small town of Nativity, Missouri, loses its much-needed seasonal business, more than the economy suffers. Lifelong resident Roni Elliot clashes with the new outside consultant Jake Brisco, whose drastic budget-slashing threatens the traditions and spirit of Nativity. However, as forgotten joys rekindle and new traditions emerge, Christmas once again becomes a season of hope.

-Click here to read more about THE CHRISTMAS LAMP.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE CHRISTMAS LAMP.
-Click here to read an interview with Lori Copeland.
-Click here to read Lori Copeland's bio.

Click here for more details about the contest and how to enter.

This Week's Reviews
INVISIBLE by Paul Auster (Fiction)
Far more than just a “writer’s writer,” Paul Auster also has the ability to tell a mind-blowing story that will intrigue readers regardless of their own literary bents. In INVISIBLE, this brilliant author tells a story about the power of stories --- and how we tell them. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE GATES by John Connolly (Fantasy Thriller)
Bursting with imagination, THE GATES is about the pull between good and evil, physics and fantasy. It is about a quirky and eccentric boy, who is impossible not to love, and the unlikely cast of characters who give him the strength to stand up to a demonic power. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MY DEAD BODY by Charlie Huston (Thriller)
A full-out civil war breaks out between the Vampyre gangs of New York in this fifth and final installment of the Joe Pitt Casebook series. Pitt has to stay alive long enough to save a missing girl who is carrying a baby that might impact the destiny of all Vampyres. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen (Memoir)
Despite small rebellions, Rhoda Janzen stayed close to the Mennonite world she was raised in. That is, until she went to graduate school. But she never severed ties with her family or the Mennonite community, so when crisis struck in the form of a divorce followed by a debilitating car accident, she was welcomed home with open arms. Her memoir centers on that homecoming but also celebrates a religious community more vibrant and diverse than most people realize. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

From religion to recipes, from carpooling to cat whispering, bestselling author Celia Rivenbark gives voice to the hilarious, the hateful, the horrible and the heaven-help-us. Pull up a chair and sit next to Celia --- she says the things we only dare to think! Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

-Click here to read an excerpt from YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING.

MOON RIVER AND ME: A Memoir by Andy Williams (Memoir)
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “Moon River”? If you’re like me and millions of other baby boomers, you’ll think of Andy Williams. In his aptly named memoir, this well-known singer and entertainer for nearly seven decades takes us on a journey from his humble beginnings to his rise to stardom. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth

Do you experience “book guilt” if you haven’t read a book that everyone else seems to have read?

I am not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


Name up to three books published in the last decade that you have not yet read that you have “book guilt” about not reading.

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth:

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 FORD COUNTY: Stories by John Grisham, KINDRED IN DEATH by J. D. Robb and KNIT THE SEASON: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel by Kate Jacobs. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on November 6th 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 October 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: 9 DRAGONS by Michael Connelly, LAST NIGHT IN A TWISTED RIVER by John Irving, LOCKED IN: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller, PURSUIT OF HONOR by Vince Flynn and TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci. Terri from Jacksonville, FL was last month's newsletter winner. She won AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH: A True Story by Mitch Albom, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger, THE LAST SONG by Nicholas Sparks and THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker.

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