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Keeper Shelf

March 28, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

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by Sandy Novy-Chvostal

Okay, my good friends know it, so the rest of the world may as well know it, too. I really didn’t join OCC/RWA to become a writer; I joined because I was an avid romance reader. The sole reason I attended meetings at first was to gawk at the authors who wrote the books I read and love.

One of the primary authors I planned to gawk at was Christine Rimmer. (Yep, the same Christine who blogged right here a couple of days back.) Unfortunately, at the same time I joined OCC/RWA, Christine–although she has remained a member–moved out of the state and thus, out of convenient gawking range. (Sheer coincidence, I’m sure, no matter what my good friend Angie Ray says.)

Still, since then I’ve been able to meet (and gawk) at Christine at National Conference several times. And when she visited OCC to speak a year or so ago, I was ready for her. I arrived at the volunteer reception in her honor staggering under the weight of a bag filled with her books.

“Just a few from my keeper shelf,” I huffed, plopping the bag down to wipe my sweating brow. “I didn’t want to impose by bringing all that I have, but do you mind signing these?”

Well, Chris is really sweet. She graciously agreed, and only blanched a little when I stacked her books up three (okay, four) feet high in front of her. Then she started signing, while I stood there with my usual sang-froid and–well, gawked.

When she picked up a Silhouette Special Edition book in her Jones family series, SWEETBRIAR SUMMER, I sighed just thinking about that story, summed up nicely in the back blurb:

Hymn-singing spinster Regina Black was shocked to her virginal core. Imagine, Patrick Jones–North Magdalene’s most notorious bachelor dad–out to seduce her. She’d never permit it. Never. Not if hell froze over and Satan skated.

Yet, in just one sultry afternoon on Sweetbriar Summit, virile Patrick jolted angelic Regina off the straight and narrow–and into the arms of temptation! And his surprising proposition of marriage was one she knew she couldn’t refuse . . .

Now, all Chris’s books are fantastic, but SWEETBRIAR SUMMIT has elements that get a diehard romance lover like me every time–a virgin heroine, an Alpha-Alpha (aka hubba-hubba) hero, and a marriage of semi-convenience. Listed bluntly, these elements read as totally cliché.

But Chris, as she does in all her books, takes the story beyond the stereotypical, richly layering her characterization to make her people come alive. Yes, Patrick is an Alpha male; he’s also a caring, loving, sometimes flawed father who wants to do right by his often exasperating, far-from-perfect daughters.

And the sexual tension in Chris’s stories is amazing. The love scene in SWEETBRIAR SUMMIT is hot enough to burn. What gives it such dramatic impact is all the sensory details Chris weaves throughout the story leading up to it. Details unique to these two characters alone. Such as when the hero is performing the simple task of making a hamburger for the heroine:

He set the bun on her plate gently, opening it with his tan fingers and edging it between a tossed salad with vinaigrette dressing on one side and something Linda Lou had called Potato Surprise on the other. Then he eased the patty onto the bottom half of the bun.

Regina watched Patrick’s hands doing this simple series of actions, setting the bun on the plate, opening it, laying the meat on top. And she had that same feeling she’d had at her front door that morning a month ago, right after he moved in next door, when he came over to borrow the sugar for his father’s coffee and she’d looked at his feet and thought how beautiful they were.

It was with a feeling of sadness, of something splendid glimpsed too briefly, and then gone.

I can’t get enough of Christine Rimmer’s books. I read the old ones over and over and grab up the new ones (most recently RALPHIE’S WIVES) as quickly as I can.

They are keepers, every one.


Sandy Novy-Chvostal (aka Sandra Paul) has a degree in journalism, but prefers to write from the heart. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have three children, three cats, and one overgrown “puppy.” Romantic Times has labeled Sandra Paul’s work as “outrageously funny and surprisingly perceptive” while Rendezvous stated “Sandra Paul is imagination with wings.”

DOMESTICATING LUC
(Silhouette Romance, Editor Mary-Theresa Hussey) is a finalist in the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.

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Keeper Shelf

March 15, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

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Keeping Your Keeper Shelf Safe
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By Sandy Novy-Chvostal
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When it comes to keeping their Keeper Shelves intact, my friends employ a variety of methods. A few, like Barbara Benedict, simply rely on their excellent memories to remember who’s borrowed a book. A couple others make the borrower sign a little “check out” card that they keep in a file. Our OCC Web Editor embosses “From the Library of Marianne Donley” on the title page and–“just in case they tear the title page out and say it’s theirs!”–also stamps page 54 as a back-up embossing.

But although I appreciate the sentiment behind these quaint little customs, when it comes to keeping my own Keepers safe, I don’t like to fool around. Instead, I go right for the big guns.
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I rely on magic. Specifically, book curses.

I was copying down an especially effective curse recently, when my husband asked, “What’s that?”
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I glanced up to find him reading over my shoulder–apparently his favorite position for reading, he does it so often. His eyes were narrowed in a slight frown as he studied what I was writing.
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“It’s a curse, “ I told him. “From the Medieval monks. I’m going to put it on signs and hang it above my Keeper Shelves.”

He glanced at me, stared at the page, then looked at me again. He lifted a brow–(yeah, he can really do that; just like my favorite romance novel heroes). He said in a flat tone, “You’re going to hang that over all the bookshelves in the house.”
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“Not all of them. I’m only putting it over my romance and young adult novels, my books on writing, and my children and Christmas book collections.” I thought about it a second, then added, “I don’t think my cook books need it.”

“Neither do I. Judging by your cooking, those come with curses already included.”
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He winced as my elbow hit his ribs, but instead of taking the hint and moving on, he said, “But doesn’t it seem kind of extreme to put–For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted–” He winced again. “–all over the house?”

“No.”
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“So are you planning to write it in blood?”
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“No,” I said regretfully. “Just red ink. But dark red–so it looks like blood.”
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He shook his head. “But they’re only books.”
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“They’re my favorites and some are out of print. I don’t want to lose any.”
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“So you turn to threats and intimidation?” He arched his other brow (he’s am-brow-dexterous, you know) and added chidingly, “I thought you were big on sharing.”
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“I am. Just not my books.”
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“Well, I think you’d want to share something you care about the most with your friends.”
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“You do, huh?”
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“Yeah. The more you care, the more you should share.” (My husband; the poet.)
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“Fine.” I started to get up from my chair. “I’m glad to hear it. Cuz Jerry across the street asked to borrow your drill the other day, and I couldn’t get the second padlock off your tool box so–”
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Like magic my husband disappeared.
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I returned to my curse copying feeling satisfied, and yes, even benevolent.
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Because although I hate to lend out my books, I’m eager to swap notes about them here on OCC’s Keeper Shelf in the coming months, along with my book-loving friends.
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Sandy Novy-Chvostal (aka Sandra Paul) has a degree in journalism, but prefers to write from the heart. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have three children, three cats, and one overgrown “puppy.” Romantic Times has labeled Sandra Paul’s work as “outrageously funny and surprisingly perceptive” while Rendezvous stated “Sandra Paul is imagination with wings.”

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