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2009: The Year In Review

You haven’t heard from me in a while. That’s because business has come back with a vengeance.

I want to take this holiday season to give thanks to the many wonderful authors who sustained me during this difficult recession. I especially want to thank the following:

Christina Sunley, whose mesmerizing and haunting debut novel, The Tricking of Freya, transported me to the ethereal beauty of Iceland. This novel about a young woman obsessed with uncovering a simmering family secret is a classic story in the tradition of Jhumpa Lahiri about the cultural conflicts that arise in immigrant families—in this case, an immigrant family from Iceland. It is a powerful exploration of kinship, loss and redemption that gave me many uplifting moments of reading pleasure. I want to express my gratitude to Christina for not only writing such a remarkable novel, but for giving me the opportunity to promote it.

Michael Stanley, the writing team of Stanley Trollip and Michael Sears, who co-authored The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu, a thriller set in Botswana. This novel, a great read, educated me about the current conflict in Zimbabwe and the repercussions of the war in Rhodesia fought 30 years ago. What makes Michael Stanley’s novels so special is their authenticity. Trollip and Sears both live in Africa and have traveled widely throughout the continent. Their depictions of the environment and peoples of Botswana draw on decades of personal experience, combined with countless hours of research.

Dale Koppel, whose hilarious book about online dating, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Online Dating, was a publicist’s dream come true. the media loved this book. It was the first-self published book I have handled and I successfully toured Dale in seven cities. With such a timely, trendy subject, my pitch didn’t have to go much further than the title. I successfully booked top TV programs in 7 cities. The media not only loved Dale’s book, they loved Dale and her story as well. After 20 years of what she thought was a happy marriage, her husband left her for a man. Not wasting much time on mourning the end of her marriage, Dale jumped right into online dating, and after three years, met the man of her dreams. Filled with insight, advice and a compelling personal story, Dale’s book is a must-read for anyone who is considering or involved in online dating.

Lisa Weasel, Ph.D. author of FOOD FRAY: Inside the Controversy Over Genetically Modified Food. Dr. Weasel brings readers into the center of the debate over genetically modified food, capturing the real-life experiences of the scientists, farmers, policymakers and grassroots activists on the front line of this controversy. Dr. Weasel weaves solid scientific knowledge into her gripping narrative about the real story behind the headlines and the hype. Seminal and cutting-edge, Food Fray enlightens and informs, allowing readers to make up their own minds about one of the most important health issues facing us today. Lisa H. Weasel, PhD is a renowned scientist who received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the issue of genetically modified foods. Food Fray won The 2009 GreenBook Festival Award in the science category.

SIMPLY IN SEASON: Recipes that Celebrate Fresh, Local Food in the Spirit of More-with-Less by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman Wert (Herald Press) joins the locavore and slow food movement.

Simply In Season advocates eating food that is fresh and nutritious and using ingredients that are in sync with the seasons. Whether the produce you eat comes from a farmers market or your own garden, fresh local foods are good for the earth we share, and ultimately good for our health.

Does it really matter if we eat mass-produced food or organic, locally grown produce?

It matters a great deal, according to the authors. Each food purchase we make is like a vote for the way we want food to be produced—and for the world in which we want to live. Simply In Season does not offer all the answers, but it does offer a starting point encouraging us to feed both body and spirit with nutritious food. Woven through the recipe pages of each season are writing, tidbits of information to reflect upon while the onions sauté, the soup simmers or the bread bakes.

Kyra Davis, author of Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss. I never tire of Kyra Davis’ mystery series featuring the sassy Sophie Katz, who, like her creator, is half Jewish and half black.

The inimitable Sophie Katz is back together with her sexy private eye boyfriend she almost knocked off in Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, the debut novel that put Kyra Davis on the map and introduced millions of readers to the bi-racial, sassy Sophie Katz who can’t keep herself out of ghastly—or in the case of her new book—ghostly trouble.

In Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss, Sophie Katz can’t keep herself out of ghastly—or in the case of her new book—ghostly trouble. Her sexy sleuth of a boyfriend Anatoly plays second fiddle to a beautiful San Francisco Victorian with hard wood floors, crown moldings, and two car-parking for under a mil. In today’s housing market, the house of her dreams for a price that’s too good-to-be true is just too hard to give up, no matter how much the man of her dreams protests—and no matter how many ghosts from Sophie’s past turn up. And plenty do.

Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss is Kyra Davis’ best book yet. Sophie’s humorous insights on trendy and newsworthy issues such as the housing crisis—“Ghosts don’t have to deal with mortgage payments. Perhaps heaven is free quality housing”—reflects an acerbic wit combined with a perfectly paced mystery.

A blend of Mary Higgins Clark meets Bridget Jones, Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss is the novel that Sophie Katz fans have been waiting for, and the perfect introduction for new readers as well. It has everything a mystery fan could ask for: sex, murder, romance, a haunted house and suspense spiced up with lots of humor.

Sometimes a client offers a gift in the form of life-lesson. The 86-year- young Eugenia Lovett West is an inspiration to all of us who think it’s too late to pursue our dreams.

At the age of 81, Ms. West launched a mystery series featuring an attractive, feisty, stylish 40-something protagonist sleuth. Overkill, the second book in the Emma Streat series, which arrives in bookstores on the heels of the H1N1 virus, couldn’t be more timely. A mystery about a lethal global network that sells stolen viruses, the ramifications could be catastrophic to the entire planet if the thieves are not stopped.

Ms. West, who began writing murder mysteries after her husband of almost 60 years passed away, found writing an antidote to grief. “This is a great and productive time of life,” says the 86-year-young West.

In 2004, Ms. West entered a self-published mystery in a contest sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. She did not win the contest, but months later, Ms. West opened her e-mail to discover a message from a St. Martin’s editor offering her a two-book deal. Ms. West practically levitated out of her chair. “For a wannabe writer, it doesn’t get much better than that,” says Ms. West.

The first mystery in the series, Without Warning, featuring Emma Streat, was hailed by the late Dominick Dunne as “a fast-paced page-turner.” And Rebecca Sinkler, former editor of The New York Times Book Review, said “This snappy, fast-paced work will you reading late in the night. A delight.”

Emma Streat returns in Overkill due out this December, to discover that her beloved young niece Vanessa has made a rash decision to run off with a Don Juan and quit her opera career just as she is on the brink of international stardom. Determined to stop Vanessa from making a mistake, Emma arrives in Venice to discover Vanessa’s accompanist dead in his hotel room and her niece seriously ill on the brink of death. When Vanessa is diagnosed with the first case of Avian flu in the United States, Emma is soon on the trail of a dangerous international network that sells stolen viruses. She once again solicits the help of the same sexy British Bondish-like spy who seduced her in Without Warning, the first mystery in the series.

“I really like and admire my main character, Emma Streat, as she works through catastrophes, and I plan to keep her in my life with a third book,” says West.

“After a hard day, there is nothing like sitting down with an escape read that takes us out of our surroundings,” adds West. “This is what I try to create in my novels.”

On my birthday, Ms. West sent me a note that read, “The best is yet to come.” I think of her words often. Thank you, Eugenia, for showing me and all who know your story that you can lead a fulfilling life and overcome life’s challenges at any age.

Steven Raichlen, one of the country’s leading grillmeister, hit the ground running this year with the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Barbecue! Bible, which made him a household name. The Barbecue! Bible was followed with Barbecue USA, then How to Grill, and 6 more grilling books, but whose counting? This prolific cookbook author and grilling guru hosted Primal Grill, his own 13-part grilling series on PBS this summer and he hired me to promote it. What a mouth-watering experience it was to watch the master perfecting his art as he grilled mouthwatering Veal Chops Marinated with Catalan Vinaigrette, Smoke-Roasted Leg of Lamb Provencale, Butterflied Korean Short Ribs, Cedar-planked Wild Salmon with a Juniper and Wild Berry Glaze, Beef Brisket with Coffee Rub and Red-Eye Barbecue Sauce, Hellfire T-bone Steaks with Tarragon Butter, Basil-Grilled Tuna Steaks with Arugula Salad, Chicken Grilled Under Bricks, Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Greek Spices, Coconut-Grilled Pineapple, and so many more delicious dishes. One episode is enough to make you want to fire up your grill.

Lake Isle Press: Less is more applies to this publisher of the most exquisite cookbooks. Lake Isle publishes two or three cookbooks per season, which are exquisitely rendered. All of the cookbooks I have promoted feature beautiful full-color photographs with delicious recipes. This season I am delighted to be promoting SEAFOOD ALLA SICILIANA: Recipes & Stories From A Living Tradition by Toni Lydecker, which gives new meaning to Italian food. The seafood recipes featured in Seafood Alla Siciliana are simple to prepare and delicious to eat. It’s a seafood lovers dream come true.

This past spring I promoted Easy Gluten-Free Baking by Elizabeth Barbone, also published by Lake Isle. If you’ve ever tasted gluten-free baked goods, many have a strange flavor and texture. The good news is that the recipes in Easy Gluten-Free Baking are light, moist and tasty. I sampled the chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cupcakes, and I would have never known these baked good were gluten-free.

Dr. Scott Paton reminds us in his book, HEALTH BEYOND MEDICINE: A Chiropractic Miracle, of a simple truth: That if we make a habit of getting the proper nutrition, proper sleep, maintaining a positive mental attitude, daily exercise and incorporating chiropractic adjustments into our lives, we will live a healthier life, experience less illness, and age well.

In Health Beyond Medicine, Dr. Paton explains how a holistic, integrative approach to health care is essential in preventing illness. “The time for a more health oriented approach to maintain a balanced system is not after illness occurs, but long before your system has reached the point of extreme crises,” says Dr. Paton.

Dr. Paton’s holistic approach to medicine is one that we should all incorporate for the New Year.

To end the year, I launched a campaign for an exciting but disturbing thriller: Rogue Threat by A. J. Tata (Variance Publishers). A. J. Tata is a retired Brigadier General who commanded all of the troops in Afghanistan. New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor hailed A. J. Tata as “THE NEW TOM CLANCY.”

Rogue Threat is a thriller about how terrorists might be able to use high-tech weaponry and nanotechnology to all too easily launch a flurry of violent attacks throughout America’s heartland and bring the nation to the brink of chaos.

New York Times bestselling author James Rollins hails Rogue Threat as “Topical, frightening, possible and riveting.”

Variance Publishing is the new kid on the block. The company was launched in 2008 and already they have acquired several bestselling authors including Steven Savile. Stay tuned for Silver, his riveting thriller coming out in 2010 about a religious cult calling itself The Disciples of Judas who have planned a terrorist plot to bring down the Catholic Church. “Move over Dan Brown,” says Stel Pavlou, International Bestselling author of Decipher.

Bill Diffenderffer, the former CEO of Skybus Airlines and a business expert who is a major player in the global travel industry, wrote A Bank of Last Resort, a cautionary tale about the peril’s of a government takeover of the banking industry.

A Bank of Last Resort could have been written from today’s headlines. As a new President takes office in Washington, the country is reeling from an economy that is approaching depths not seen since the Great Depression. The financial industry is in big trouble and the new administration is insisting that all of the ten largest banks participate in the Federal Bailout program. What unfolds is an epic political and financial battle pitting the protagonist against the President’s Machiavellian adviser, the powers of an intrusive and controlling government against the ideals of free-market capitalism, the Leviathan against the American way of life.

Happy New Year to all of my authors who made 2009 a successful year filled with great reading. Stay tuned for more great books to come in 2010.

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