Friday, November 10, 2006


Veterans and Rookies

Yes, that's right.
I wanted to tie in one of my most favorite holidays with this month's contest. And while I just LOVE me some fried turkey, that's not the holiday I mean. In honor of Veteran's Day (tomorrow), and because, well, I'm a Veteran (hey, after TEN YEARS in the Navy, you're darned right I'm a Veteran, and VERY proud of it, thankyouverymuch!), this month's contest is called: Veterans and Rookies.

Here's the deal. You know that Chariity and I both write, and we love it. Really though, at heart, we both are READERS more than anything else. I can only hope that Char is not nearly as bad as I am, because if she is, then her family probably wants to have huge bonfires in her front yard with all of her books. See, I have literally thousands of books. Everywhere in my house. I have a hard time clearing a path in my office sometimes because of all of the books. I read just about every genre that is written. I've hardly ever met a book I didn't finish. And, I think that there is something to be learned from just about any/every book ever written. So HUGE is my respect for authors, that it is difficult for me to ever get rid of a book.

Ok, here's another truth: My books become more than just words printed on paper bound together with a cute cover to me. They become, at the very least, my friends. Sometimes though, they become even more than that, almost like adopted children. Yes, you read that correctly, sometimes I love a book so much that it becomes almost part of my family. Now, I can count on less than all of my digits the amount of times a book has been elevated to 'family' status, but it has happened. Even this last year, you here at Dee&Dee have witnessed it. (We really don't have to turn this into a SqueeFest though, do we? You all know which author/book I mean.)

When that happens, when a book goes from a friend to a family member, I tend to take notice of just about every other book that the author has written. Yes, it happened with Jennifer Crusie (I am Crusified and Burned, baby!). And Susan Elizabeth Phillips (though I'm still working on her backlist). And Ms. Jackson (though, sorry to say, there are only the two right now). I've read everything by Tom Clancy, and John Grisham. I don't know that I've ever read a Sandra Brown I didn't like. These authors have all reached the VETERAN status as writers. They are tried and true, virtually guaranteed to be a page-turner.

But they all started out as ROOKIES. Yes, my beloved Jennifer Crusie, long before the days of her amazing partnership with Bob (God Among Men/GAM) Mayer, started her career with Sizzle. Of course, you can't hardly mention that book to her without seeing her cringe. I know, I've seen it happen. While some authors, like The Cherry, don't start out on a bestseller list, some shoot right to the top. The first romance I ever bought (purchased with my babysitting money at the tender age of 14, I might add) was Whitney, My Love, by Judith McNaught. I have owned at least 5 different copies of that book. It might be that it's a sentimental favorite, because it was, well, my first. But OTOH, it is a damn fine book. As is every other Judith McNaught book I have ever owned. She's a VETERAN, but her ROOKIE book was the one that hooked me.

Do you see where I'm going with this? So this month's contest is all about those Veterans, who were once Rookies. Dig deep, friends, and tell me your stories. I want to know what Veteran authors you will read, just based on their name on the cover. But there's more. I want to know what book of theirs hooked you. AND... I want to know why. Also, I want to know if you've read any good Rookie authors recently, and if so, who are they? (Ok, really, I just want to know what new people you've found and love.)Was Welcome To Temptation your first Crusie, and you just couldn't get over that scene on the dock? Do you now wave goodbye and hello to every state as you cross a state line, just like Lena in gods in Alabama (JJ's Rookie book). Or, like me, can you still picture Clayton's hands as he dried Whitney off from her bath, like McNaught wrote in her Rookie book?

So, these four things must be included in your post. 1)What writing vets you read just cuz of their name, 2)What book of that vet hooked you, 3) WHY did that book hook you, and 4) Know any good Rookies, that you think might one day be Veterans?

Tell Me. And Win.

It's that simple. Oh, and did I mention we will be having a special judge? Well, we will. I'll tell you all about that next week. And the prize? Well, we're giving away a bunch of Rookie books by authors that we're sure are destined for Veteran status. A few of them have been reviewed here (or will be reviewed, as soon as I take a break from NaNo to write up the reviews). Plus, as a special treat, I'm going to include the Rookie books of a few of my favorite Veteran authors. I'll have a complete list posted on the day the contest closes. See, I don't want you to enter just because you're getting cool FREE books. I want you to enter and tell me who makes your head turn, and what it was about those books that turned that head.

Post your comments on THIS POST, or send us an e-mail at Contest will run from when this is posted until next Saturday, 11/18/2006, at 11:59 Eastern time.

Spill your guts.



dee said...

Ok, I'll go first, even though my answers are all in that post...
My favorite veteran author is Judith McNaught.
My first book of hers was Whitney, My Love.
I loved it because it was eye-opening to me. I never knew people actually DID those things. Plus, it made me cry the first time I read it, and it still makes me cry now, 20 years later. I read it at least once or twice a year, or every time Shane goes out of town.
Recently, I've read two Rookie authors, and loved both of their books. Kristan Higgins did an amazing job with "Fools Rush In", and Lois Winston was on fire with "Talk Gertie To Me". I'm reviewing Gertie later this week, so stay tuned.

Cherry Tea said...

I'm as bad. I can't help it. I love to read! The hubs laughs everytime he sees me with a new book. He caught on to me though, he has realized I've teamed up with you to review, so that I can justify my book habit!

I'll try and figure out an entry as well, but you know, this is just a cruel cruel contest! Who can pick!!!

dee said...

Ahhh, so "too many choices" is the problem? Well, list your TOP 3 then. But you still can't enter the contest. Besides, you already have a copy of "Fools Rush In", and Kristan knows who you are, and since she's the Special Guest Judge... ah crap, was I supposed to mention that yet?

Cherry Tea said...

You are such a tease. No, I don't think you were supposed to mention that! Top three isn't very easy either. I'll have to think on it. But, (stamps foot) WHY! CAN'T! I! ENTER!!!!! *grin*

Lucy S. said...

Hi there. Since I have very recently won 3 books for you (and thank you so much!!!)- I do not want this post to be considered for this Nov. contest. Let someone else get a chance for a book prize.

But I do want to mention the book and veteran author I read, who afterwards, I went out of my way to read more of her books. (BTW, I want to acknowledge that, of course, I am already a big J. Crusie fan.)

The book is "Got Your Number" by Stephanie Bond. I know, I already mentioned this book in a prior blog - since you have asked about suggestions for future book reviews, I did suggest it - and I really loved this book.

Anyways, this book "Got Your Number" is about a female graduate from a Catholic college, who winds up going to her 10-year college reunion. Part of the plot is that for her job, she lives sort of anonymously and undercover, since her job is to help women/children, who have been abused, to find secret shelter and protection. I believe she worked for some type of Catholic help agency.

Anyways, I loved that this character had such an unconventional job, and then the plot unfolds in such a way, that she comes into her own. She had been living secretively and self-effacingly for those 10 years - and now things all come to a head.
So, she finds out a few things that frees her up to live her life.

It was such a good read, and unconventional, and not cliqued at all. I could not predict how the plot would unfold.

So, I read this book "Got Your Number" - enjoyed that this was a fresh voice, and then proceed to read further books written by Stephanie Bond.

So, that is my pick for veteran author, who I then proceeded to read more of her books.

...and for a rookie author - I do not have any specific pick yet. I'll think that over, and maybe blog it later.


Scope Dope Cherrybomb said...

Well this willl probably lose me the contest but I have to say it anyhow. I Looooove Jennifer Crusie. Her book that really hooked me, although I had read others, was Bet Me. This story is close to my heart because I went out with my DH the first time on a bet. I couldn't stand him before that. (Don't worry he knows this.)

My favorite rookie author and one I would now buy just if it has her name on it is Nancy Herkness. Nancy's first book, "A Bridge to Love" caused me to write my first ever fan letter to an author. I could not believe that was a first novel. It was really well written and the sex scenes...holy cow! It was a good story too. And her second book is even better.

Dee I miss you. Talk to me.Hope NaNo is going well for you.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hello! This isn't for the contest, either, but because I love talking about books.

I have three stand out veteran faves and can't choose between them:

Irving Stone -- he pulled me in with Love is Eternal, which I read because I love historicals and have a lot of respect for Abraham Lincoln. The story and characters were so true-to-life and well-written that it was impossible to put down and has remained with me since I was a teen. I also adore The Agony and the Ecstasy and Lust for Life. I will be reading the rest as I find time.

John Jakes -- The Kent Family Chronicles is a remarkable series following a family through the beginnings of America. After 8 books, I was not nearly tired of it. I have to say I'm much less impressed with his recent efforts, though.

John Irving -- The Cider House Rules pulled me in. I love the way the social issues are covered from different broad angles so he doesn't appear to be taking sides, only presenting the ideas along with engaging characters. His World According to Garp is an extraordinary story but could have used a touch of fine-tuning. The Fourth Hand is such a different style, similar, but more comedic and a wonderful read with a "not strong enough" ending.

I'm not sure if Marilynne Robinson can be called a rookie. She has a lot of non-fiction out but only two novels. From the first I read, Housekeeping, I knew I would continue to read any fiction she publishes. Her Gilead is just as extraordinary.

Frank Delaney is new to fiction. Ireland is a stunning mix of fiction and history and myth and legend and humor. I do hope he continues noveling.

Good luck on Nano! I'm working at that this month, also; well behind but determined to catch up.

Deb R said...

My first Crusie was "Bet Me" and I think it was that scene in the park that hooked me on reading anything she writes. There are LOADS of authors I'll buy just on the author's name without even knowing what the book is about. I couldn't possibly name them all. But to choose just one for the contest -

1)Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters

2)The first book of hers I read under the Michaels name was "Ammie, Come Home" but I don't remember what the first Peters book was that I read.

3) The same thing that will almost always hook me on an author - the characters. If a writer can make their characters feel real to me - make me wish they were real so I could meet them (or be glad they aren't real so I know I'll never meet them, in some cases) then I'll want to read more

4) Nalini Singh - love her characters and her world-building; Michelle Bardsley - ditto

Cherry Magic Sheryl said...

My first Crusie was Charlie All Night, the title grabbed me,the humour and real life attitude (as opposed to fiction that you just couldn't imagine every actually taking place) made her an immediate auto-buy for me. JoAnn Ross is the same for me. I love her language, her ideas and her execution of the same. Her writing brings me to tears every time. Katie McAlister's Hard Day's Night hooked me with her humour. Another auto-buy. I'm very heartbroken to tell you that I have not been able to find Joshlyn Jackson in my corner of Canada. Rookie that I'm hoping will become a veteran is Caridad Ferrer. Adios to my old life hooked me from the first page. How the heck she got me to identify with a 17 year old latina musician is not only beyond me but a sign of sheer brilliance. I have lent my copy out so many times that I bought another one in NJ.

ZaZa said...

Well, Veterans:

Judy Cuevas/Judith Ivory. The first book of hers I read was Beast, and I liked it a lot. I think I've read all of her books, but the ones that took my breath away were Bliss and Dance. I think those were older books. Rookie books? Not sure.

Then, of course, there's The Cherry. My first Crusie was WTT. I bought it for the cover and the first page. Then I got Faking It, which is one of my two faves of hers, the other being Getting Rid of Bradley. And I do love the book that shall not be named.

I think someone else mentioned Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters. I think Ammie, Come Home was my first book of hers. I've since read everything she's written as Michaels and most of Peters.

Martha Grimes I've been with since she was a rookie. Love all her books, even the lit fic ones that a lot of mystery fans hate. Just love her writing.

Current rookies? Well, I've got to name my CP, Saskia Walker. She's just had her first hot romance (Double Dare) out from Berkley, but she's got others coming out with a SF/F pub, and more contracted. So, I think she'll make it to veteran status.

I also like Gena Showalter, a relative rookie. She's only been published a couple of years, but she's got a bunch of books out. She's good and an enjoyable read, so, I think she's got staying power.

And Beth Kendrick. Love, love, love her books, both chick lit and YA. I hope she'll become a veteran.

I know I've forgotten people, but that's, what, seven authors. ;+)

Oh, wait! How could I have forgotten P.G. Wodehouse? Talk about a veteran. I started reading him when I got one of his books by mistake at the library when I was twelve. One of the best mistakes I ever made.

Two more rookies: S.E. Schenckel who writes a mystery series she describes as Rockford Files meets Cold Case. She is amazing. I think she just had her second, or maybe third, book out. I got to read her first before it was pubbed, and I was blown away. I'm a fan, and I'm sure she'll keep being published as long as she keeps writing. Unfortunately, she's with a small house, and her books are very hard to find.

And Mary Anna Evans. She writes a mystery/suspense series with an archaeologist protag. That says so little about her books, though. You have to look at the info on her first book, Artifacts to begin to even get a clue to how multifaceted they are. I certainly hope she'll make veteran status. I need my Faye and Joe fix. BTW, Joe is very hot.

I better quit before I break Blogger.

McB said...

Whitney, My Love

Dee, oh my - you have opened the flood gates, my dear! I LOVED that book. Actually I totally adored all of Ms. McNaught's historicals. And yeah I still have every one of them. I'm such a sucker for a good historical. They were my introduction to romance. Ms. M, along with Julie Garwood and Jude Devereaux. I had fantasies involving the Montgomery men for years!

Before I found those ladies, I didn't read romance. I was very heavily into mysteries and still really enjoy reading them now. What changed my mind? What made these authors so special is that they wrote not just fabulous historical romance, but they did so without resorting to the then ubiquitous bodice-ripper trend. They showed me that romance fiction could be GOOD fiction, with great heros, heroines who were capable of more than waiting around to be saved, and wonderful humor. They've moved on to writing great contemporaries now, but its these early, historical romances that live forever in my heart.

And from them I eventually braved reading *gasp* category romance. My previous experience with these was my grandmother's occasional Barbara Cartland and Harlequin books(rich European doctor learns about love and laughter from the brave village miss who ventured into the big city to work as his receptionist).

And I discovered through trial and error that there was some worthy fiction mixed in among these little paperbacks. Among them and among my very first discoveries? GETTING RID OF BRADLEY by the Cherry, Jennifer Crusie. Oh my Bob I laughed so hard reading this book. I still recall snorting with laughter on the subway as I read those words for the first time "Oh no, dead dog?" (okay, you had to be there). That wasn't Jenny's first book, but it was an early one, so does it qualify for rookie status?

No wait a minute. I have another that most definitely qualifies for rookie status on account of her first book has not *yet* been accepted for publication. But I've beta-read it and I'm guaran-dang-teeing you its going to be on your bookshelves one day soon. When that day happens I promise to spread the word, and then she can be your rookie find too.

So there you have my veterans and my rookie.

Hope said...

1. Crusie, I will read anything buy her because I know that it will be good. Also anything by Alesia Holliday or Lani Diane Rich are great books that I will pick up just because.

2. For Crusie, Faking It was the first one that I read, and just the banter and fun caught me, but the basement scene when she confesses all her sins hooked me and I haven't passed a book since.

3. The banter in all three of the books are great. They are things that I would say provided I had someone to write for me and I was able to come up with a comback that quickly.

4.Sue Ann Jaffarian. At first I just wanted to see how she would portray a plus size lead character, but as I got into the mystery, I became hooked on her character portrayal. It was real and made me feel what all the characters were going through. Also the mystery aspect of the story was one that kept me guessing to the end.

Louis said...

The first of the modern "Romance" authors that I read was Jayne Ann of her Flower series written as Jayne Castle...(my DW bought it and didn't like it) since then I believe that I have all her books in her many pen names.

From there...Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Lowell, Johanna Lindsey and others.

Some of the newer writers that I like are: Julie Anne Long, Leslie Kelly, Susan Anderson, Rachel Gibson, and others.

Of coarse you can't beat Georgette Heyer.

KC said...

Favorite veteran authors? Crusie, Jerrilyn Farmer, Jill McGown, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Katie MacAlister.

I was looking for a new mystery series when I stumbled across my first Crusie, Crazy For You. I've been trying to remember what hooked me and made me go out and get all of her other books, but I can't really recall.

The most recent rookie I read was The Inconvenient Duchess by Chris Merrill.

orangehands said...

Considering how many books I have read over the years, it is surprising that I can easily pick out my favorite veteran author. But I can. Chris Crutcher. There is no other author that engages so much of my heart and mind. There is also no other author who so unflinchingly looks at the reality behind teen life and writes about it. There are a lot of authors I like, a good amount I even love, but Crutcher is the top of it. (Besides which, all of his novels have been banned. How can you beat that?)

I actually don't remember which of his books was the first I read (and the first hooked me), but I do know the one that means the most to me: Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes (though Whale Talk and Ironman are close seconds). This book helped me in numerous ways, but first and foremost, it made me think about things that I never really saw teen books address before. It gave me even more ammo to fight for a cause I had at that time already spent a lot of years on, and it also made me sit up and take notice of the other side and their thought process. It was smart and it was well-written, and it didn't hide behind the easy road.

Rookie: I just discovered J.R. Ward and so far I am really enjoying her series about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. She writes in a seemingly casual way, she's telling a new slant on an old story (vampires) and making it one of the best ones I've read (though to be fair I still haven't tried Anne Rice), and I love her characters.