Sandi Shilhanek | A Perfect Day

What a week it’s been! Tuesday I got together with a small group of people from the DFW Tea Readers group, and had a wonderful dinner of barbecued chicken, baked beans, deviled eggs, pasta salad, green salad, and not only one cake, but two! We also had a lively conversation with author Annette Blair, who writes, not only romance, but also mysteries. I didn’t realize that, so Wednesday sent me to Barnes and Nobel in an effort to attain one or two of her mysteries by using my gift card I won from author Michele Bardsley (who can be seen in November at Readers ‘n’ Ritas.)

Saturday had me again meeting the DFW TeaReaders group for a fun and lively tea. Unfortunately we were not the only people in the tea room, and when I went to the restroom I got the impression that one of the elderly ladies from the other group wasn’t really happy about how much fun we were having. See when we start having fun we tend to forget that there are others around, and we tend to get a bit loud. We’re not rude loud, just fun loving loud, and if you’re ever in the DFW area we’d love to have you!

Tea was followed by a lively productive meeting of the Readers ‘n’ Ritas committee. We welcomed a new member to the committee, and are very excited about the upcoming conference. If you haven’t yet bought your ticket it’s not too late, and the price is still reasonable…only $65 until July 15, 2010, and then goes up just a bit, so you might want to hurry and buy yours now so you can meet Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, and Candace Havens among others in person!

By the end of the meeting we decided we were hungry once again, and needed a girls night out. Where to go? A lively discussion ended up resulting in a place that had delicious deep-dish pizza, even if the girly drinks were a tad disappointing.

It was a perfect day, of fun, work, friends, and food. How did you spend your Saturday? Did you have a perfect day? I sure hope you did!

Until next week happy page turning.

sandi shilhanek

Sandi Shilhanek

DFW Tea Readers
Readers ‘n ‘ritas… celebrating literary obsessions

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Summer Blockbusters…Books, Films and more in July

candace havensWhat are you guys thinking about the new season of “True Blood?” I like that executive producer and creator Alan Ball takes liberties with the story. And what did you think of “Eclipse?” I’m a fan of the film franchise and the series of books. I feel like director David Slade did a great job with pacing in the film. There’s angsty romance, but it’s mixed with some stellar action. He took the best elements of the books made some twists here and there, and created what may be my favorite of three films. In fact, I liked the film better than the book.

There are several other books made into films this summer including BEEZUS AND RAMONA BEASTLY, EAT, PRAY, LOVE, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and “The Switch”. It’s always interesting to see how the adaptations work. Out of all the films coming out this summer, I’m most looking forward to “Eat, Pray, Love.” I really hope they don’t screw it up.

0425233138One series I wish they would turn into movies or a television show is Annette Blair’s Vintage Magic. The third installment is DEATH BY DIAMONDS. “I was having a discussion about my second mystery with my Berkley editor,” Blair says. “I had finished the book, but we couldn’t settle on a title we both liked. Finally, she came back from speaking to the publisher and gave me two choices. ‘It’s either LARCENY AND LACE or DEATH BY DIAMONDS,’ she said, and flash! I chose Larceny and Lace for book two, because having heard the words, Death by Diamonds, I had a plot for book three. It was as simple as that. I reserved the title because it told me who the third mystery would be about, how the victim would die, and why. I wish all plots came that easily.

I asked Blair to give us some more details about the series and new books.

Q. Is it true that there is a certain kiss in DEATH BY DIAMONDS that became secondary to the search for Dom’s killer, to everyone except perhaps the man Madeira kissed?

A. There is, and while Madeira has some explaining to do, she turned her mind to solving the mystery of how Dominique DeLong Broadway Star, one of her dearest friends, was murdered on stage, in front of hundreds of people, during the final act of the final performance of Diamond Sands.

Q. Where does the book take place?

A. It takes place both in Mystic Connecticut and in New York City, on and off Broadway.

Q. What did Dominique DeLong call her ‘hangers on,’ a group of people who sucked her dry in every way possible, and lined up for more, like every dime they could get, at the reading of her will?

A: Those would be The Parasites, her ex husband, her catty best friend, her understudy, her sponsor, leading man, hairdresser, and makeup artist. They’re a good-sized group of leeches.

Q. Is it true that you were recently interviewed in Mystic, Connecticut by the official student documentarians for the Library of Congress because you set your Vintage Magic Mystery Series there?

A. Absolutely. We met at Mystic Pizza, across from Madeira Cutler’s vintage dress shop, for an interview that will be aired on public television in the coming months on a date to be announced. It was an exciting adventure for me.

There is a great deal in the mailbag this week, so let’s get to it:

0373176694Next time Susan Meier has to work on a book, I’m inviting her to my house. “I actually scrubbed (or housecleaned) most mornings before I began working on the two books ‘MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE and MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, says Meier. “I wanted to be able to freshly smell the scents of cleaners and soaps and feel what a maid would feel. Sounds silly, but there’s nothing like bringing reality into a story!”

1420111744Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, DeWanna Pace and Phyliss Miranda have a new anthology out, GIVE ME A TEXAS RANGER. Who could resist a title like that? I began work on ‘One Woman, One Ranger’ with a duel purpose,” says Miranda. “I didn’t want to write just a romance with a Texas Ranger hero, but about one who found love. I wanted my story to reflect the ideals that brought peace to the untamed frontier; the strengths and traditions that made the famous, respected organization the lawmen they are today.”

“When we decided to write an anthology featuring Texas Ranger heroes,” adds Linda Broday, “I knew my character Ranger Stoney Burke needed a big challenge. So I put a woman in his life that would really get under his tough skin in a huge way. I had so much fun making him squirm.”

Bella Andre has a new one out called LOVE ME. “Five years ago, TAKE ME, my first full-length novel was published,” says Andre. “As Lily and Travis fell in love in, Lily’s sister, Janica, and Travis’s twin brother, Luke, met a couple of times over the course of the story to do some strategizing regarding their siblings relationship. There were, as you might imagine, pretty big sparks between Luke and Janica. Not only have I’ve wanted to write Luke and Janica’s story for five years, but readers have been emailing me about it for five years, asking when it was finally going to be out. Honestly, I enjoyed writing this story so much – especially after thinking about these characters for so long – that I almost didn’t want to have to finally write ‘the end.’”

Other books to check out in July include Gena Showalter’s THE DARKEST LIE, Juniper Bell’s My Three Lords, Lex Valentine’s TALES OF THE DARKWORLD, and Yasmine Galenorn’s NIGHT MYST.

Until next month…


Candace Havens is a columnist for FYI Television, an online news and media service, where she writes five weekly columns for an overall audience of 44 million readers. She is also an entertainment reporter for 96.3 KSCS in Fort Worth. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of the Charmed & Dangerous series including CHARMED & READY, CHARMED & DANGEROUS, CHARMED & DEADLY, and LIKE A CHARM as well as the Caruthers sisters: DRAGONS PREFER BLONDES and THE DEMON KING AND I. Her latest book, TAKE ME IF YOU DARE is in stores in February 2010.

Her non-fiction prose includes JOSS WHEDON: THE GENIUS BEHIND BUFFY, and essays in ALIAS ASSUMED: SEX, LIES AND SD-6, and FIVE SEASONS OF ANGEL.

You can visit Candy daily at her blog or her website

Candy’s Inside Books | Beach Books for June…

It can’t possibly be June already. Wasn’t it just February? I should be grateful for the warmer weather and the lazy days of summer, but unfortunately there isn’t much time to laze these days. (Smile) I did make myself a promise, and that is reading at least one book a weekend. So far I’m averaging two, and I have to say it’s the one way I can get my brain off of my crazy life and send it into a lovely new world someone else has created.

There are tons of fun books and here are a few for you to check out:

BLOOD SONGBLOOD SONG is the first of a new series by Cat Adams (formerly C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp). This is the story of Celia Graves, a vanilla human trying to get by in a paranormal world. “But Celia’s life is rocked when she’s bitten by a master vampire and becomes half human and half vampire,” says Clamp. “Celia’s world was first developed in an unusual fashion. There’s a saying: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ Well, in the case of this book, a picture was worth a hundred thousand words. Cie Adams and Cathy Clamp were attending FenCon, a SF/F convention near Dallas, Texas, several years ago. One of the big hooks of this particular convention is the art auction for charity. Science fiction and fantasy artists from all over the world donate paintings, photos and other creative works and one in particular caught Cie’s eye. It was one of those works that you can’t tell at first whether it’s a photo or a painting. It was entitled ‘Sweet but Deadly’ and showed a blonde female vampire holding a black daisy between her fangs. The picture was the inspiration for the heroine and even though it took us months to find the artist (actually, a photographer—it’s a manipulated self-portrait) our editor agreed it was just perfect for the cover. The artist became our cover artist and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

If you want to see the inspiration for the cover of ‘BLOOD SONG,’ here’s a link to the photographer’s works. The original photo is on the second row, third from the right side (look for the black daisy). And feel free to wander around her other works. We’d love for the artist to get more recognition for her amazing talent.”

NIGHT MYSTYasmine Galenorn is excited for readers to see her latest project. NIGHT MYST, the first in my new Indigo Court Series, begins the saga of Cicely Waters—a witch who can control the wind,” Galenorn says. “Cicely returns to New Forest, Wa. to protect her aunt and cousin, and to find her long-lost love—Grieve, a Fae Prince now captured by Myst, queen of the Indigo Court. In fact, the entire town of New Forest, Wa. is being held hostage by the growing evil of Myst and her sadistic people. The true vampires—who were responsible for creating the demonic hybrid of Fae and Vampire, enlist Cicely to help them in the long prophesized war between the two races. One of the serendipitous moments for me is that owls play a huge part in the book (and the upcoming books), barred owls in particular. A couple of months ago, I joined the millions on the Net following the saga of Molly the Owl. A couple in southern California set up an owl box in their backyard, and an owl came to lay her eggs there. They called her Molly, and had set up a cameras in and out of the box. The second day I clicked over to see what Molly was up to, I was just in time to watch two of the eggs hatch! Within a week, all four were hatched. So began my captivation with Molly and her four owlets. Now, two months later, two of the owlets have taken wing and sped to their own lives, and the other two are close to doing so. Watching Molly has been a double blessing—a living meditation and delight, but also book fodder because Molly is a barred owl, and what better research could I find than to just watch her babies grow and learn to fly and eat and spit up owl pellets?”

SEX AND THE SINGLE EARLVanessa Kelly has a new one out, SEX AND THE SINGLE EARL. “I had just turned in my Regency-set historical manuscript to my editor,” Kelly says. “The title at the time of submission was ‘AN ANGEL FOR THE EARL,’ which I loved. My heroine, Sophie, is a sweet but strong-willed character, with a very kind heart. In fact, she’s a bit of a do-gooder, so the title seemed perfect to me. But not to my editor. ‘Not sexy enough,’ was his response. He definitely wanted sexy. Muttering curses under my breath, I went to consult with my husband, who has a knack for these kinds of things. As it was cocktail hour, we cracked open a bottle of wine and went to work. An hour later, the muse had still not struck. Finally, as a joke, my husband said, “what about Sex And The Single Earl?” After we stopped laughing, I sent it to my editor – as a joke. He answered immediately, also laughing. But then we both said, hey, wait a minute. We kind of like it. So we stuck with it and you know what? People love this title.”

DANE, THE LORDS OF SATYRElizabeth Amber says, “I’m enthralled by the stories of how partners in a couple first met – even if I don’t know them well – or at all. It’s the romantic in me. And it’s why I so enjoy the Bravo reality series ‘Millionaire Matchmaker.’ In my June release, DANE, THE LORDS OF SATYR, I get to play matchmaker myself, through the character of my heroine, Eva. Dane and his brothers are half-satyr men living in Rome circa 1880s, where they are in danger of discovery by humankind at any moment. To further entrench themselves in Roman society, they must choose human wives. A matchmaker is dispatched from their world to assist in this. But when Dane meets his matchmaker—Eva—he also meets his match. Both are troubled by mysterious secrets in their pasts that make them perfect for one another. I loved having a part in bringing these two together.”

DARK ORACLEAlayna William’s book DARK ORACLE was inspired by something mystical. “I’d been wanting to write a story about Tarot cards for some time, but was struggling about who the heroine should be,” says Williams. “I knew that she would be a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes, but I didn’t know anything more about her personality than that. So, I picked up my Tarot deck, shuffled, and drew the Queen of Swords from the top. The Queen of Swords depicts a woman staring into a stormy sky, holding a lifted sword as if she’s cut herself with it. The swords, in general, represent intellect. The Queen of swords traditionally represents sadness and mourning or a particularly clever woman. I always associated her with the Snow Queen from fairy tales. And that interpretation was perfect for the story. The Queen of Swords became my inspiration for Tara Sheridan. Whenever I got stuck in the story, I pulled out the deck and used the cards as prompts. I used the same method for the hero, Agent Harry Li. I picked the Knight of Pentacles, who’s a pragmatic man. Since Pentacles are also referred to as coins in many decks, I gave Harry the nervous habit of jingling change in his suit pocket.”

VEGAS TWO STEPLiz Talley cracks me up with her story of how she came up with the story for her new book. “Ever wear sandals with pantyhose? Well, yeah, maybe in the 80s,” says Talley. “But that’s how I got the idea for my June debut release VEGAS TWO STEP. Crazy, huh? I was attending the 2007 RWA National conference in Candace’s hometown and watched my roommate slip on a pair of sandals with her knee-highs. I remember thinking, “Why’s she doing that? It’s too hot for hose in Texas!” Well, the image stuck in my mind for some reason and later that day when I attended a workshop where the editor allowed attendees to scribble down pitches on a piece of paper, I found myself writing a pitch for a small town Texas librarian who gets made fun of for wearing knee highs with her espadrilles, so she goes to Vegas, gets a sexy makeover, and has a fling with a hot nightclub owner. The workshop editor never called me, but the character just begged to be written. So VEGAS TWO STEP was born – a sort of twisted version of the musical ‘Grease.’ It’s a fun, spirited book just perfect for slipping off your knee-highs and grabbing a pool-side cocktail.”

So, try these and I’ll be back with more in July…Candy


Candace Havens is a columnist for FYI Television, an online news and media service, where she writes five weekly columns for an overall audience of 44 million readers. She is also an entertainment reporter for 96.3 KSCS in Fort Worth. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of the Charmed & Dangerous series including CHARMED & READY, CHARMED & DANGEROUS, CHARMED & DEADLY, and LIKE A CHARM as well as the Caruthers sisters: DRAGONS PREFER BLONDES and THE DEMON KING AND I. Her latest book, TAKE ME IF YOU DARE is in stores in February 2010.

Her non-fiction prose includes JOSS WHEDON: THE GENIUS BEHIND BUFFY, and essays in ALIAS ASSUMED: SEX, LIES AND SD-6, and FIVE SEASONS OF ANGEL.

You can visit Candy daily at her blog or her website