John Updike, 1932-2009

John Updike has died, of lung cancer.  You can read the New York Times obit here. 

I'm sad.  I didn't even know he was ill.  The obituary is one of those that has been on file for awhile and so doesn't talk a lot about the circumstances of his death.

Love him or hate him, he was a huge literary figure and he published over 50 books throughout his career.  The Times referred to him as "prolific, even compulsive." 

Not a bad epitaph, considering that so many of us struggle to even get words on the page.

(And, for those of you who thought I had gone to the same place as Updike, I assure you I'm still here.  I've got four, count 'em, four posts, written out to put up.  Circumstances in my life has been a bit, um, overwhelming shall we say.  My mother in a nursing home, my daughter deciding to get married in less than a month, a trip to Chicago for AWP to moderate a panel in a couple weeks and three ghostwriting projects.  Oh, and I just adopted my Mom's ancient, frail cat, who thinks the blind pug is a big scary beast out to eat her for breakfast when the truth is I'm not even sure he knows she exists.)

The Sinner’s Guide to Confession: Blog Stop

The Sinner's Guide to ConfessionSinners Guide to Confession

By Phyllis Schieber

Today I have the pleasure of hosting a blog stop on Phyllis Schieber's virtual book tour.

Wouldn't it be refreshing for an author to pay attention to women of a certain age (especially if you are a woman of a certain age)?  Well, Phyllis Schieber has!Her novel has been called chick-lit for boomers. The characters–Barbara, Kaye, and Ellen–are best friends in their 50s, all smart, gutsy women who face challenges that are universal to all females, no matter the age. 

In an interview at the blog, Bookshipper, Shieber said, "The women in Sinner's certainly have some of the same problems that women have in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, but these women have far more serious issues to contend with in their late forties and early fifties than the problems that drive 'chick lit'."

What follows is a bit more information about the book.  Be sure to scroll down to find out how to win a free copy.  Nothing better than a free book!

About Sinner’s Guide to Confession:
Kaye and Barbara are longtime friends, now in their fifties. Ellen, who is several years younger, develops a friendship with the other two women years later, solidifying this close-knit group. The three women are inseparable, yet each nurtures a secret that she keeps from the others.

Phyllis Scheiber
About Author Phyllis Schieber (in her own words):

The first great irony of my life was that I was born in a Catholic hospital. My parents, survivors of the Holocaust, had settled in the South Bronx among other new immigrants. In the mid-fifties, my family moved to Washington Heights. The area offered scenic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, as well as access to Fort Tryon Park and the mysteries of the Cloisters. I graduated from George Washington High School. I graduated from high school at sixteen, went on to Bronx Community College, transferred to and graduated from Herbert H. Lehman College with a B.A. in English and a New York State license to teach English. I earned my M.A. in Literature from New York University and later my M.S. as a developmental specialist from Yeshiva University. I have worked as a high school English teacher and as a learning disabilities specialist.

My first novel , Strictly Personal, for young adults, was published by Fawcett-Juniper. Willing Spirits was published by William Morrow. My most recent novel, The Sinner’s Guide to Confession, was released by Berkley Putnam. In March 2009, Berkley Putnam will issue the first paperback publication of Willing Spirits.

Win A Free Book from Phyllis Schieber – It's very easy to be entered in a drawing for a FREE book by Phyllis Schieber. Post comments on any blogs during the virtual tour and you will have a chance to win a book from Phyllis. One random person will win – but we are also asking visitors to share a secret and one secret will also win a free book. As a bonus the blog owner that hosted the winning comments will also win a book. Share some interesting stories and questions with Phyllis Schieber during her tour – and have a chance to win a book.

For full details about Phyllis Schieber’s virtual tour, visit her tour home page -

Order Your Copy here –

You can visit Phyllis Schieber at or

Better Late Than Never….And There’s Still Time

You have until November 16 (tons of time) to enter the contest over at Lexus magazine.

How it works is simple.  You submit a 1,000 word ending to the story, "In The Belly of the Beast," a serial novella that has been published on the site since April.  A huge list of well-known writers have contributed chapters to this story, so you'll be in great company if you win by providing the best ending.

Here's a list of participating writers so far:

  • Richard McCann, author of the
    autobiographical novel Mother of
  • Curtis Sittenfeld, author of
    bestselling novel Prep and The Man of My Dreams
  • Brian Antoni, author of Paradise Overdose and contributor to Naked Came the Manatee
  • Bob Shacochis, National Book
    Award winner and author of Easy in the
    Islands, The Next New World
    and Swimming in the Volcano
  • Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My WeaknessWaltzing the Cat  and Sight Hound
  • Robert Ferrigno, author of
    the bestselling Horse Latitudes,
    The Wake-Up and Prayers for the Assassin
  • Mary Otis, author of Yes, Yes, Cherries
  • Jane Smiley, Pulitzer
    Prize-winning author of A Thousand
    and Ten Days in the
  • Arthur Phillips, National
    Book Award winner and author of Prague, The
    , and Angelica

Go for it!  You can find the contest here.


When One Is Born a Writer, Redux

Last week I wrote a blog post titled, When One is Born a Writer.., and listed some of the things that accrue from the condition of being wonderfully scarred at birth with the love of the word.  I promised then that I would compile any additions people came up with, and let me tell you, you came up with some great ones!

Here we go. (And, all you wonderful commenters, please forgive my wee editing in order to make things fit the format):

When one is born a writer,

…one can't
read fiction without analyzing sentence structure, word choice, punctuation, and
whether one POV per scene is mandatory.

…one can't help but wonder
whether she's on the early part of the popularity curve in terms of subject
matter, at the top of the curve, or on the downside and sinking fast.

From Robin Gideon, erotic romance writer extraordinaire.

When one is born a writer,

…one ignores the laundry so long that a mouse makes its nest in the full basket…

From Louise Bostock, Italian village dweller and so much more.

when one is born a writer,

—one owns Costco-size Advil for relief of carpal tunnel.

….one constantly is weighing what bits of conversation you hear that can make it into a story without losing friends.

From K. Harrington, Elvis Rum Cake lover and writer

When one is born a writer,

…you think you are just being quiet and interested and everyone else thinks you are 'special'/antisocial

…one is surreptitiously earwigging on buses/public transport

…you have an almost fetishistic pursuit of the perfect notebook/pen

…if you see someone reading in a cafe, you are struck with the uncontrollable urge to know what they are reading so intently …

From Kate Lord Brown, UK blogger, writer, and Nanowrimoer.

When one is born a writer,

…one learns to be happy in a
bookstore without buying, to use libraries, and the like, particularly when one lives in a 150 square foot RV. does not miss sunny days, because that's what laptops and wireless are
for–but then, living beneath a mountain and beside a river, I'm seldom
short of inspiration. *grin*

…when one is spoken to while writing, one makes polite "mmm" noises but won't know what was actually said
until you say "but you SAID I could buy the Lambourghini!"

From Linda R. Moore, motorcylist, author, and "wyrd" woman of the world

When one is born a writer,

his/her muse is always tangled up in his/her thoughts.

From Malcolm R. Campbell, author of The Sun Singer, southern journalist and author.

Amazing list, no?  And be sure to visit the original post to read the comments that didn't quite fit the list.  And if anyone has anymore, keep 'em coming.

Robin’s Publication Day!

This is an exciting day for my friend Robin Gideon.  Aspen Mountain Press is releasing her novel,
Silky Sins: Cassandra's Story.  Its a sizzling contemporary erotic romance and you can download it in ebook format and get it immediately.

Robin is absolutely amazing–she has an incredible list of books coming out over the next few months, and I personally, am a very bright kelly green with envy.   Robin and I met during my brief stint as an erotic romance editor.  I plucked Silky Sins out of the slush pile and knew immediately that Robin was a winner.  Her subsequent success has proven me correct!

Stay tuned for reviews and interviews with Robin on Bookstrumpet.  And go buy her book, it'll make your weekend.


You may have noticed my periodic call for people who would like to become contributors to a new book review site.   I am pleased to announce that the new site is live and ready to roll.  Here’s the site url:

This is only the very modest beginning.  Expect more to come, with additional reviews from a roster of fabulous reviewers and essays about books and interviews with authors to come.

So go check it out.  And if you decide you want to be involved, email me!