Saturday, July 30, 2011

August Reading Challenge - Bring Me Heroes! Plus an interview with Tamara in Afghanistan

Coast Guard Heroes

Early in the summer, my friend Anna suggested I add a Reading Challenge to my blog.   After some thought on how to make this unique (like me), here's the plan:

1.  On the first day of the the month, I will announce the "theme" for you to consider as you read any books.

In August, it is "Bring Me Heroes" in honor of the month's notable celebrations:  US Coast Guard's birthday, William Wallace's Legacy and Duke Kahanamoku's birthday.

We are starting early because I already have a guest scheduled for August 1.

Sports heroes - Duke Kahanamoku and Babe Ruth

2.  On the last day of the month, I will solicit your comments about the theme - for August, what heroes (or heroines) inspired you in the books you read throughout the month?

3.  Each Saturday will spotlight the theme - for August, I am spotlighting real heroes who inspired me.

Tamara and her "joint" team

Today I spotlight a heroine who inspires me - Tamara in Afghanistan!  She is a Navy doctor and romance reader.   Tamara joins us for an intimate interview:  

Kim:  What has been the biggest challenge and reward during your deployment?

Tamara:  There have been several challenges in this deployment but the biggest one is trying to provide US standard health care with supply shortages constantly. We have run out of gloves, gauze, tape, crutches, syringes, sterile gowns, etc at one time or another.

One of the biggest rewards is our blossoming mentorship program with the Afghan National Army health care team. When we arrived, they didn't participate in any training with us. Now we have 6-8 of them show up every morning eager to learn and help us care for their comrades in arms as well as their countrymen. We provide didactic as well as hands on skill training in multiple areas and nothing is more satisfying then helping them.

Kim:  What have you learned about the Afghan people?

Tamara:  The Afghans are a very proud and stoic people. They have a great sense of humor, but it takes a lot to get a smile out of them. They have an intense sense of community, every patient has at least on person with them at all times helping them. When there are multiple patients on the ward from all over the country, it doesn't matter, they become their own village and defer to the eldest member. They look out for and care for one another even if they are strangers.

Kim:  How can readers support deployed personnel?

Tamara:  As a medical team we are a fixed structure and don't go on missions. The people who go on missions like to have travel size hygiene products to take with them.  When we receive those supplies we save for patients and take to the MWR tent for other soldiers to pick up.

It is very hot in the summer and we drink a lot of bottled water. Everyone likes flavoring for this and if it can replenish salt, that is even better. Snacks like beef jerky, nuts, non-chocolate candy (melts), trail mix, meals that you can make in a microwave or adding hot water to are very appreciated. Ziploc bags in all sizes, air freshener, extra socks (for boots or tennis shoes), and sunblock.

Specifically for our patients: large diapers (we have pediatric patients, but no supply chain for them), toys, clean used kids clothes, adult and child flip-flops. 

Mahalo, Tamara, for giving us a glimpse of deployed life.   I salute you and your team for serving the US personnel and Afghan people!  

Today's giveaway is for Tamara - a box of the items listed above.  If you are interested in sending a box to Tamara, please contact me at for her mailing address.

Meanwhile, I welcome comments from you - do you know someone currently deployed?  Do you have (or have you had) a deployed "pen pal"?    What would you miss from home if you deployed?


Kim in Hawaii 

Romance readers on deployment!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

RWA Recap/Day 6 - Grand Finale

As RWA members checked out of the hotel, I lugged one more round of boxes to the post office.   Cathy Maxwell and Mary Gramlich joined me for our walk down 8th Street to NYC's historic central post office - it looked like the Supreme Court!   We walked back up 7th Avenue - the Fashion District.   We enjoyed one more lunch at Cafe Un Deux Trois - for the baguettes - before we went out separate ways.

I requested the EMT-turned-driver for my return trip to LaGuardia.  I literally grab a family out of the taxi line - the family of Marilyn Brant, author of women's fiction.  Marilyn noted her fall release was titled A SUMMER IN EUROPE from Kensington Books.   I love Europe so naturally I invited her to be my guest to promote this book!

No sooner had I parted ways with Marilyn did I find more romance authors at my Southwest gate.   The Detroit area authors were chatting with the incomparable Victoria Alexander.  It was cream on top of a great week at RWA in NYC.  

Hubby picked me up in Columbus and we drove back to his parents' house in Dayton.  MIL took my children to see Cars II at the drive in ... when they came home, they were full of stories of adventure during my absense.   I had a blast at RWA ... but I was glad to be back with my family, even if it was not home in Hawaii.

For my Grand Finale of RWA Recaps, I am giving away a book from one of the more visible authors at RWA - Sherrilyn Kenyon.   She spoke at the award luncheon; attracted the longest line at the literacy fair; and gave away books during two publishers' signings.   I am giving away her book from the awards ceremony - BORN OF SHADOWS:

In the universe where the League is law, most live in fear. We fight back. Welcome to a world where corrupt assassination politics dominate everyone. It's kill or be killed. 

To enter the giveaway, 

1.  Leave a comment RWA, NYC, and/or Sherrilyn Kenyon.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Thursday, July 14, 2011.  I'll post the winners on Friday, July 15 (note the early posting as I have a wedding to attend next weekend ... then it's home to Hawaii).


Kim in Dayton

Friday, July 8, 2011

RWA Recap/Day 5 - Romance Legends and the RITA Awards

Today is my final doubleheader with a guest post at The Reading Reviewer, spotlighting Linda Francis Lee's EMILY AND EINSTEIN at this link.

Nancy (left), Eileen (right), and Tracy (below)

Friday brought breakfast with Nancy Gideon (which I won in Operation Auction).  Mary Gramlich was having breakfast Tracy Anne Warren so we joined forces at the same table.   Nancy shared her road to publishing.  Her roommate, Eileen Dreyer, stopped by our table and I took a picture.  But let me just say that none of us looked like beauty queens that early in the morning .... so the picture remains in the vault. 

After making myself presentable, I popped into Mary Jo Putney's chat moderated by Cara Elliott (both are Word Wenches).  Cara joined Mary and I for coffee ... and we bumped into other friends.

It is always fun to talk to Sally MacKenzie!  Nearby was Roxanne St. Claire and Kate Douglas.  Kate's son lives in Hawaii so I hope to see her soon!

I skipped lunch to haul more boxes to the post office.  I rushed back for the Grand Central Publishing book signing, giving me the opportunity to meet many guests who have appeared at SOS Aloha.   I took a quick nap before the RWA Awards Ceremony.   The Golden Heart is awarded to unpublished manuscripts in 10 catagories.  The RITA is awarded to published novels in 12 catagories.  The winners are listed at this link.

Cathy Maxwell was nominated for the RITA/Regency Historical Romance for HIS CHRISTMAS PLEASURE.  She invited me to be her guest at the VIP tables.  Our table was a lucky as it include (left to right):

- Diana Van Dyke and her husband; Diana won the Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense with her manuscript, SPY IN THE MIRROR.

- Jodi Thomas and guest; Jodi won the RITA for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements for WELCOME TO HARMONY.  I have never been that close to the RITA statue!

- Shelly Bates and her guest, presenter of the RITA for Inspirational Romance

- Lucia Macro, Avon Romance Executive Editor

- Cathy Maxwell, Navy Vet, NYT best selling author, and signing roommate.

Cathy and I found friends from the Washington Romance Writers, including Diane Gaston (second from left).

And my final picture - KT Grant and Roxanne St. Claire dressed to the nines!   I am giving away a book of choice from my RT stash to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about what you would wear to an awards ceremony - satin?  sequins?  good luck charm?

I wore a black dress with fuschia flowers - a modern take on a MuuMuu.  Hey, I go for comfort!

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, July 9, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winners on Sunday, July 10.  


Kim in Dayton

Thursday, July 7, 2011

RWA Recap/Day 4 - Publishers' Book Signings and Blogger Bar Meeting

I started off the day with a hug from the legendary Bertrice Small - a constant supporter of SOS America!   I tend not to take pictures of myself ... but I could not resist Bertrice!

Thursday's schedule included book giveaways throughout the day.  Actually, they are listed as publishers' book signings as the authors sign the books ... but the books are given away by the publishers!  This is how I giveaway books all year long - I stock up at RWA!

I popped into the Avon signing first.  I know many Avon authors from my home chapter, the Washington Romance Writers, so I enjoyed catching up with them!   I am saving my Avon books for a special giveaway in September to promote a special cause (stay tuned for details!)

Friends with Robyn Carr and Jill Shalvis (right)

I popped over to the Harlequin signing where Heather Graham greeted me!  I also chatted with Kat Martin before heading out of the hotel (and crowd) for lunch.  We dined at Cafe Un Deux Trois - the baguettes were beautiful!  Who thought bread could be so artful?   Plus the salad was tasty!   Our lunch gave us sustenance to re-engage the crowds for the St. Martin's Press book signing!

Nalini Singh with bloggers Nath, Kristie, and Sarah

For dinner, Mary and I joined Jennifer Hart (Navy spouse-turned-romance author) and friends at John's Pizza .... mmmm, I ate way too much in NYC!   After dinner, I popped into the bar to find book bloggers:

- Wendy the Superlibrarian (a well deserved title)
- Kristie J of Rambling on Romance
- Rosie of Nobody Asked Me
- Nath of Books, Books, and More Books
- Sarah of Monkey Bear Reivews 

Wendy and Rosie

These bloggers are phenomenal in their knowledge of romance!  In honor of another great day at RWA, I am giving away a book of choice to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about your favorite pizza, your favorite author (who you would stand in line for), and/or your favorite blogger.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, July 9, 10 pm in Dayton.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, July 10.


Kim in Dayton

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

RWA Recap/Day 3 - Post office run, Private Eye Lunch, and Avon "Boathouse" Party

Today is a triple threat - check out these blogs, too!
- SOS Aloha welcomes KM Daughters and IN THE ST. NICK OF TIME at this link
- My guest blog at the Reading Reviewer, spotlighting Mary Kay Andrews and SUMMER RENTAL at this link.

I started Wednesday with a run to the post office.  As you can imagine, a NYC post office is a glimpse into humanity ... office runners dropping off buckets of mail, desperate travelers applying for passports, tourists seeking postcard stamps, and book fanatics send boxes via media mail!

CiCi is ready for any adventure around the world!

Mary and I lunched with private eye-turned-true crime author Clarissa "Ci Ci" McNair.   We enjoyed listening to tales from a life well traveled:

Clarissa McNair is a published novelist and true crime write, and an enthusiastic traveler.  She has lived in Italy, Cyprus, England, Switzerland, Portugal, and Canada.  Her travels include a year in Africa, trips all over Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East. 

Back in the hotel, we stopped by the Goody Room and chatted with Kieran Kramer and KT Grant/Katie Babs (check out her RWA recaps at this link.)

Mary, Kieran, and Katie
I took a quick nap before the Avon Party at Central Park's Boathouse.

Cathy Maxwell, Pamela Palmer, and Lorraine Heath

Kauai kama'aina (resident) Jill Marie Landis (right) 

Aussie favorite Stephanie Laurens (right)

Take a guess!

It was a classic evening with classic authors!  In honor of another great day at RWA, I am giving away a book of choice to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about an exotic place you would like to visit.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, July 9, 10 pm in Dayton.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, July 10.


Kim in Dayton

Central Park Boathouse

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

RWA Recap/Day 2 - Beau Monde Conference, Grand Central Publishing, and Literacy Fair

Today is a double header - check out my interview with Catherine Mann and COVER ME at this link.  I am giving away three copies of COVER ME.

The Naked Cowboy

I woke up on Tuesday morning to hear my roommate, Cathy Maxwellsinging in the shower.  It was a great way to start the day!  I hustled down to the Beau Monde Conference as I volunteered to set up their silent auction.  I hugged my DC area friends - Mary Jo Putney, Sally MacKenzie, Diane Gaston, and many more!

Hachette Book Group (HBG) Reception Room
We drooled over all the books ....

After breakfast, Mary Gramlich and I walked over to Hachette Book Group.   Miriam Parker from Mulholland Books gave us a tour of their offices, shared a few tidbits about the authors, and even tantalized me with special news.  From Anthony Horowitz's website:

Anthony Horowitz, the BAFTA-award winning creator of Foyle’s War and author of the bestselling Alex Rider children’s series, has been chosen by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new full length Sherlock Holmes novel ... the prologue is currently under lock and key.

THE HOUSE OF SILK will be released on November 1 - here's a link to preorder it from Amazon.   Hubby and I adore Sherlock Holmes - we paid homage to 221B Baker Street during our honeymoon in London.   So you can expect a big celebration here at SOS Aloha when THE HOUSE OF SILK is released!

As we walked back to Times Square, we noticed a crew assembling a stage ... and then spotted Bumblebee!  Not the Tuna ... but the movie Transformers - The Dark of the Moon.   The producers planned a rally in Times Square before the world premiere in a nearby theater.   Mary would later join the crowd in cheering the director and cast during the rally.

Inside the hotel, I met up with Josie, an enthusiastic reader from the RT Message Boards.  We sampled the Goody Room before volunteering at the Literacy Signing.  It raised over $44,000 for charity!  Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches Trashy Books posted her video snippets of authors with the Beatles' All You Need is Love - here is the link.   Sarah also posted her Recap at this link, thus demonstrating that RWA offers so much for so many!   I had planned to meet up with the book bloggers in the hotel bar, but I was too exhausted after the Literacy Signing.  But KT Grant/Katie Babs posted three fabulous recap:

- Recap One (including Literacy Signing) is here.
- Recap Two (including blogger interchange) is here.
- Recap Three (including me!) is here.

Katie also has a cute story about meeting Lisa Kleypas!

In honor of another great day at RWA,  I am giving away a book of choice to one randomly selected commenter from my RWA book stash.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment what would impress you most - touring a publishing house, seeing Shia LaBeouf, or meeting Lisa Kleypas.

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, July 9, 10 pm in Dayton.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, July 10.


Kim in Dayton

A dancer promoting the musical
 Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Monday, July 4, 2011

RWA Recap/Day 1 - Traveling to NYC!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence yielded free thought ... and RWA was a celebration of that freedom!  Last Monday, I departed Columbus at o-dark-hundred for my connection in Baltimore.   Since I had a two hour layover, I camped out at the USO lounge!    Once I boarded my plane to LaGuardia, I found a smiling face among the fly-through passangers - Mary Gramlich!  We chatted about our plans as we both gritted our teeth through the turbulence.   But it was worth the flight to land in NYC!

After claiming our baggage, we proceeded to the taxi line but were intercepted by an entrepreneurial young man.  He offered us a flat rate in a town car.   Feeling a bit adventurous, I accepted his offer and away we went (rest assured he had a conveyance licence).    And an adventure we experienced!  Our entrepreneurial young man is a volunteer EMT with bells and sirens installed in his car.   While other cars and taxis crawled through traffic, he turned on his apparatus and drove unencumbered through the shoulder.   He kindly pointed out local landmarks which appeared in movies, such as the smokestacks from Conspiracy Theory.   We arrived safely at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square - headquarters of the RWA National Convention.  After exiting our town car-turned-emergency vehicle, we encountered the always charming Victoria Alexander (she would be the last author I saw as I departed LaGuardia on Saturday).   She set the tone for the coming week - bright lights and big stories in NYC!  

Caridad and Mary

Caridad Pineiro met us at the hotel and treated us to lunch at Junior's - conveniently located across the hotel (and a popular spot for the theater crowd).  Caridad noted that Junior's serves the best cheesecake in the Big Apple!   After lunch, I took a quick nap before our dinner date with Delilah Marvelle, Christine, and May.   We walked over to Hell's Kitchen for Five Napkin Burger ... and their burgers lived up to their reputation!   Delilah suggested a special treat for dessert - make your own donuts!   We decided that New Yorkers don't gain weight from these treats as they walk everywhere!   I fell into bed Monday night exhausted .... knowing that more adventure would come!  

I am giving away a book of choice from my RWA stash to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Independence Day - what are your plans?

If you are an international reader, what is your national holiday?  And how do you celebrate it?

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, July 9, 10 pm in Dayton.  I'll post the winners on Sunday, July 10.


Kim in Dayton