Tag Archives: paranormal romances


ad picThis week’s Monday Book comes from my friend and fellow cat rescuer Willie Dalton. I don’t normally care for paranormal romance, but her series was so imaginative, based on such an interesting premise, that I read and enjoyed it tremendously.
“You’ll never guess what happens next…”
    That’s the tagline on my logo, and I tend to hold true to that.  In the writing world there are plotters, and there are pantsers, writers that write by the seat of their pants and wing it, I’m the latter. I’m usually just as surprised by the twists my books take as anyone who reads them. I like things this way though, I’d bore myself otherwise.
    My most recent works “The Gravedigger Series,” takes you on the journey of life and death through the eyes of Helena Pierce. Hel, is a small town gravedigger, following in the footsteps of her adopted dad, Ray. She’s tough, both physically, and emotionally from being in a male-dominated line of work. It surprises her as much as anyone when she falls in love with the mysterious Raphael who shows up in her cemetery one day and it makes it all the worse when she meets her own unexpected death soon after.
  Hel wakes up in the underworld and takes on the role of reaper, but there are no black cloaks and scythes, just another shovel. Now she’s digging people up from the other side of the grave so their souls can move on. Vampires roam the underworld, and a new lover has her intrigued but she can’t move past everything she left behind.
  In, “Digging Up the Dead,” and most recently, “Digging to Hell,” the underworld opens up even further and Hel finds herself in the presence of gods she thought only existed in myths. Was chance the driving force behind this life of death and heartache she knows so well, was it love, or was it fate?
  A lot of people ask me how I came up with the idea for this series. Sadly, it came from my other passion as a kitten rescuer. Many tiny kittens come to me each year, too fragile and weak to last more than a few hours, or days. I have spent many hours digging tiny graves and grieving for these lives that didn’t stand a chance. I’ve poured my blood, sweat, and tears into the ground to give these babies a final resting place while their spirits sprint over Rainbow Bridge. I found a solace in writing these books, and a way to channel the heavy emotions that the work brings on. Digging a grave, even for an animal, is humbling and raw. Growing up, it was always men who would bury pets that passed, partly because it was very physical and partly, because men are less emotional. I think the idea of women digging graves adds in that nurturing, emotional element that takes us from the ones who bring new life in, and then see it to the end.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, post-apocalypse fiction, publishing, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Romantic Math

As incongruous as these two concepts may seem, bookslingers everywhere recognize the term: romances are to used book stores what fleas are to dog. What glitches are to healthcare.gov. What adverbs are to bad writers.

Jack and I began reducing our romances stock this fall, from their own outbuilding called The Luv Shack to four shelves inside. The goal was to get them down to a single, double-stacked shelf. And that’s when the laws of romantic math kicked in:

  • The number of old romances you box up to recycle, donate, or even dumpster after dark when the neighbors aren’t watching equals the number still on the shelves. In other words, the more you box, the more there are in your store.

    Spot the Bookseller

    Spot the Bookseller in this photo?

  • The more you reduce the price of your romances, the fewer people will buy them. “NOW ON CLEARANCE,  3 for $1!” goes to “10 for $1” slides to “$5 per box!” Yesterday I looked at two women paying for their cafe lunch and said “How’d you like a free box of romances each to take with you?” Their eyes grew wide with alarm and they all but raced out the door. They’re probably on Topix now, telling potential cafe customers: “Don’t go in there! They foist books off on you!”
  • The number of shirtless hunks lounging on–or under–the covers equals eternity–which is how long it will take you to box them. Don’t look. Laughing weakens your muscles.
  • The mere act of announcing on social media that you are reducing your romances stock will cause every Tina, Dot, and Harriet to bring you boxes of them. They take it personally when you say no: you’re rejecting romance? From them? It’s a delicate negotiation.
  • The amount of time you spend sorting books into families will exponentially expand as the number of books reduces. It takes awhile to realize those little icons alleged to make it easier for readers to see which series they want (like the spade and heart on maxi-pad packages, only different) are cross-referenced. “THIS SEASON: MAITLAND MATERNITY RETURNS TO TYLER WITH THE NEXT MCCORMICK BROTHERS FOR ROYAL WEDDINGS!” Give it up. Once you understand that cowboys are undercover sheiks and time-traveling Scotsmen are undercover Special Forces–there’s a lot of undercover in romances, tee hee–it becomes one big muddle. Plus that’s four hours of your life you’ll never get back again.
  • And last but not least, the laugh-out-loud stupidity of any given title you come across will be squared by the next title. I thought “Vampire under the Mistletoe” was the winner this year, until I found this little gem hiding at the back of a shelf:DSCN0278

Happy Christmas, everyone, and may the love in your life keep you warm!


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

New Year Resolutions Bookslingers Tend not to Make

1. This year, I resolve to keep my manicure perfect. No more scraping off old price stickers, lifting bits of unidentified goo from covers, picking off bits of melted candy from the children’s books. I will not allow them to get dirt trapped beneath from the books. Lovely fingernails will be my priority.

2. Be nicer when people start haggling with me over prices. After all, it’s a terrible economy, and that dollar for the pristine copy of “The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig” could be all that stands between this well-dressed, hair-highlighted woman with the perfect manicure and her last six packages of Raman Noodles. I can eat mac and cheese again tonight.

3. Exercise more. Tonight when the shop closes I’ll get on the treadmill, since the eight miles I covered walking the shop floor today isn’t really exercise. Nor is that “bend from the waist, pick up the stack of hardbacks, back and forth to the shelves as fast as I can go; repeat” thing that comprises about 2 hours of my day. And I have to work off those cheese-covered carbs, because I sold “Three Little Wolves” for 50 cents.

4. Get out there and find authors or artists to support with great in-store publicity and shelving displays at my own expense. I need to help develop single-person-focused events that build ego rather than community, because artists with unrealistic expectations of their place in the world are truly hard to find. I must beat the bushes, and devote more resources to this field of endeavor.*

5. Drink less coffee/tea/vodka. I don’t need it to get myself awake Saturday at 7 a.m. so I can get the shop floor cleared of books by opening time and make that cute display for the upcoming author signing. I don’t need it to make the customer who came in and needs to talk feel welcome and like I have time to listen to her at 11 a.m. I don’t need it to wake myself up at 3 p.m. after a vigorous physical day during which I stuffed a fiber bar in my mouth at lunch because the place was mobbed and my part-time student help didn’t show. And I don’t need it to stay awake at 7 p.m. during the author event, because this paranormal romance is well-edited and has such an innovative plot that I’m fascinated, despite that carb-heavy meal of mac and cheese I wolfed down from 6:32-6:34 p.m.

6. Spend more time in my shop. Ten hours a day six days a week really isn’t enough to get the feel of the place. I must make an effort to be there more often and take a livelier interest in its day-to-day workings.

*Authors and artists, don’t take personal offense. The world needs you! Many wise and wonderful creators understand what’s realistic and what isn’t — like Lisa Pell and Heather Volk and others who have been a pleasure to work with. But, as one small bookstore owner and I discussed recently, we average five people per week asking to do signings or display items. Not all of them are cued up–or polite.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized

How Did it Get this Messy??!!

Our bookshop is a tip. (That’s Scottish for a garbage dump.) I was touring Andrew, our shopsitter for Sept. 20-Nov. 20, around the place. He arrived yesterday, and as I showed him from room to room, shelf to shelf, I realized Jack and I have been a little busy with other things lately, and the shop has… um…

Well, it’s not COMPLETELY our fault, you understand; the books themselves are not helping. Sure, they like to visit other places–the science fiction volumes sneak off at night to visit Christian romances and Patricia Cornwell, as I said before. That’s fine; their private lives are their own, but we really do need them to get back to their own shelves before dawn, and they’re not complying.

Plus, how did the Nature and Travel books all get piled in a jumble below Comparative Religion, since when is Homeschooling in the History section, and why oh why is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Cookery?!

Time for a tuck and tidy, as soon as the Celtic Festival is over. Between now and Saturday life is rather like bull-riding; just concentrate on getting through it without being trampled. Come Sunday, there’s gonna be some serious order imposed on this place. You hear that, you Westerns hanging out with the Harlequins? Don’t think I don’t see you there, or know what you’re up to: makin’ little short stories set in Texas. Well enough of that; we can’t find shelf space for what we’ve got!

Although, come to think of it, if we put the Westerns with the Paranormal Romances for awhile, what do you think that would do to the werewolf phenomenon? Would a new breed of cattle ranchers emerge, ones who can REALLY keep the wolves at bay and pack the women in? Or would the vampires just drain the herd? Hmmm…

Don’t forget that Caption Contest VII closes this Monday! Scroll back to Sept. 10–or was it 12, anyway back a week or so–and put your entry in Comments. And if you’re in the vicinity, Big Stone Celtic is Saturday Sept. 22 in downtown Big Stone Gap, VA!


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book repair, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA

Who’s your Book Daddy Now?

Heh. It started with the “good guys” when I was eight or so: Laurie from Little Women, the sensitive vegetarian viking teens from Rosemary Sutcliffe’s blood-guts-and gore novels. But yes, by the time I was in junior high, Anne McCaffrey’s sweet-psion lads were no longer cutting it for me. Heathcliff was tame. I need the bad boys, the ones under the label “only the love of a good woman can save him.” I went for…. wait, why am I telling YOU this? I barely know you!

So who was YOUR book daddy growing up? (Or now.) Who would you drop Mr. Life Partner for in a heartbeat if he–or she–showed up, flesh, blood (and probably billowy cape) at your door? C’mon, fess up; we’re all friends here….


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized