Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Silver and Gold"

Click the title to visit Michelle Buonfiglio's ROMANCE: B(U)Y THE BOOK, where my Christmas short story, "Silver and Gold" is being featured today -- Friday, December 18. I hope you like it. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Happy Holidays to all my friends at BN.com!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

December Features at Barnes & Noble's Mystery Book Club

Both Brenda Novak and Wendy Roberts will be visiting all month. Stop in and meet them!

December Features at Barnes & Noble's Garden Book Club

B&N's Garden Book Club isn't a traditional book club, more of a chat room for garden lovers!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Glitter Graphics - GlitterLive.com

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

See what's been blooming at B&N's GARDEN VARIETY

Fairies in the Flowers

“Sunlight fades, stars appear, garden fairies gather here.” – Unknown

Got Dirt?

Getting down and dirty is half the fun of gardening, but how well do you know your soil?

Sticks and Bones

"Gardeners and crime writers have quite a lot in common, not the least that they are both fond of a good plot." – attributed to Royal Horticultural Society member Jane Bowden, writing as Avon Curry.

Friday Five: 5 Books for Budding Gardeners (at $10 or Less!)

There was a time when I was more interested in pretty pictures of flowers than the real thing. Being a girly girl, digging in the dirt just seemed gross to me. But I grew up to be a lot more interested in snakes and snails and puppy dogs (tails and all) than in cooking with sugars and spice. Now, I’m always keeping an eye out for fun garden-related books for kids.

A Rose is a Rose, But Not Necessarily a Romance

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, roses are everywhere. Roses aren’t just on Hallmark cards and in floral bouquets—they are on the covers of all kinds of books. And not just romances...

The Quirky Side of Gardening

“Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t.” While these books may not be your typical garden fare, they’ll put a smile on your face.

Five for Friday: Gardeners, In Their Own Write

There are gardeners, and there are garden writers. And then there are writers like these five, who have such a masterful way with the written word that they’ve become as well known as authors and essayists as for their gardens.

It’s a Wild Life

They’re out there. Deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, rabbits, squirrels, moles, voles, chipmunks, ground hogs, armadillos, and even wolves, bears, and mountain lions, depending on where you live. Some welcome all kinds of wildlife into their gardens. Others, like my mom, think the critters are out to get them. Love 'em or hate 'em—or maybe even fear them—it’s their world, too, and we're all in this together.

Friday Five: Garden Essays

Find a cozy spot and dig into these delicious essays, rich with all the flavors of the garden.

How Plants Got Their Names

There are two ways to look at this: the scientific classifications of plant species, and the sometimes fanciful ways both common and botanical names are derived. If you’re a research-minded horticulturist, or someone who's fascinated by history and trivia, these books are for you.

Eating the Sun: An Ode to the Miracle of Photosynthesis

The best science book you think you’ll never read—but I hope you do. I love this line: “The sun’s energy, stored by plants, keeps us alive moment by moment, heartbeat by heartbeat, thought by thought. Our bodies are stardust; our lives are sunlight.”

Friday Five is Back: Breathtaking Books

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these gorgeous books are priceless.

Gift Books for Young Gardeners

Plant a seed and watch it grow: give garden-related gifts to the children on your shopping list. It’s never too early to instill a love of gardening—and reading—in your kids or grandkids!

Gifts for Gardeners Who Like to Read

Looking for a gift for the gardeners in your life? You can’t go wrong with these collections.

A Touch of Winter Magic

December is the month of Winter Solstice and the ancient Yule holiday (not to be confused with Christmas). I thought this would be a good time to look at myth, magic, and legends that relate to our plants and gardens.

Deck the Halls

‘Tis the season to go wild with holiday trimmings—be sure to include a taste of the outdoors in your decor.

Christmas Trees: The Real Deal

I bet you thought Christmas trees date back to Europe a couple hundred years ago—I know I did. I was surprised to learn how long trees have been part of our festivities, and not just the familiar Christian holiday.

O Christmas Tree

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! Thy leaves are so unchanging; Not only green when summer's here, But also when 'tis cold and drear.” Whether you prefer real or fake, it’s just not Christmas without a tree.

The New Garden Classics

Merriam-Webster defines “classic” as “serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value.” These modern gardening classics reflect a shift in attitude toward our relationship with nature

Influential American Landscape Designers

Many beautiful outdoor spaces—golf courses, public parks and gardens, even cemeteries—can seem like natural oases born out of thin air, but they're actually carefully planned out and tended to by experts. It's very interesting to learn about the artists behind these spaces and it can provide endless inspiration for your own landscaping projects.

Friday Five: The English Garden

It’s a British invasion! And it’s been going on for centuries. England’s mild climate was ideal for gardening, and despite our appreciation of French and Italian gardens, England holds the garden crown. How did it all begin?

Gardens of Words

Writing and gardening are both solitary obsessions, but most gardeners will talk a blue streak about their favorite hobby. It’s only natural that some prolific gardeners have produced words as prolifically as blossoms.

Friday Five: Serenity Gardens

Healing gardens, Zen gardens, spiritual gardens, meditation gardens, Japanese gardens—there are many names for these serene spaces, but all offer respite from the hectic pace of daily life. Here are five books to help you create your own garden retreat.

Digging Into Murder

... in gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death ...
- Sam Llewelyn

What Fun is Gardening without the Birds and the Bees?

Roses are red, violets are blue, gardening’s hot in romance fiction, too.

Cultivating for Clues: Garden Mysteries

The planting pit that hides a grave, the freshly tilled soil revealing bleached bones—these are age-old themes in the mystery genre. Who hasn’t read a mystery that featured arsenic or strychnine in the garden shed or clues left clinging to the ivy outside the victim’s window? Like Holmes and Watson, like Poirot and Hastings, gardens and mysteries are a perfect pair.

Five Favorites: Color in the Garden

Pablo Picasso asked, "Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No." If Picasso couldn't answer this, I sure can't. That's why I collect books about color, particularly color in the garden. Luckily, there are plenty of books to choose from.

Five Favorites: Conifers

What is a conifer? If that question makes you wrinkle your forehead and hesitantly think of pines and Christmas trees, these books may not be for you. On the other hand, if you know that conifers come in many colors—far beyond "ever green"—and that some are even deciduous, at least one of these books deserves a place on your bookshelf.

The Origin of [Plant] Species

Trees and shrubs are a pleasure for many homeowners. They're aesthetically pleasing in the landscape, and they offer shade, fruits, flowers, and—especially this time of year—dazzling leaves. But have you ever wondered where those trees and shrubs came from? Before they make it to the nursery? I'm curious about the actual origins of trees and shrubs. Aren't you?

Tree Talk

Trees speak to us, if not with words. Dr. Seuss’ Lorax talks to the trees, and even William Shakespeare “finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” Some trees have more to say than others, and their words are hard to ignore.

Five Favorites: Garden Reference Books

No matter how much experience a gardener has, there is always more to learn. Nowadays, a lot of information can be found on the internet, but I like to have a good-sized library of reference books that I can call upon when I have a garden-related problem to solve.

Appreciating Autumn

I’ve always loved the fall, even if it does carry the underlying chill of winter days to come. It’s the season for leaf peeping, bonfires, jack-o-lanterns, and hot apple cider. Where I grew up in the Midwest, fall—or “autumn,” as my British husband prefers—was signaled by dried cornstalks, bumpy globes of osage orange, cigar-like pods of catalpas, and the vivid blue skies of what we called, with no thought of political correctness, “Indian summer.”

Not Your Grandma’s Garden

There is a homey sound to the phrase "Grandma's Garden ”—even if your grandmother never planted a flower in her life. The romantic vision of an old-fashioned garden seems to fit the description of a traditional English Cottage Garden. It is possible to recreate an heirloom or period garden.

Danger Lurks in the Garden

Many people are not aware of which ornamental plants and flowers are harmful—or even deadly—to humans and animals. Are those potted plants of yours actually pretty poison?

Five Favorites: Books About Gardeners

I agree with Cicero, who said, “He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing.” My own library has several bookcases overflowing with garden-related books, a number of those by and about gardeners.

If Plants Could Kill

Wicked Plants is a nonfiction gardening book that reads like a mystery; I was intrigued the minute I read the title, and hooked from the first page! The book digs up some of Mother Nature's most evil creations—the trees, shrubs, vines, weeds, and other plants that have been known to maim, intoxicate, and even kill people (not to mention gross them out. A weed that makes you drool prodigiously? Ew!).


As summer draws to a close, the peak time for planting spring-flowering bulbs will soon be upon us. Bulbs are magical; pop those dull brownish lumps into the ground and your garden will explode with color next spring—tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths galore.

Prune Away Problems

Pruning is a gardening task that many regard as a chore. True, pruning certain plants can be daunting and tricky, but it's well worth the effort. It's beneficial—essential, even—to the health of your plants and the look of your garden. With a little help from some trusted gardening guides, pruning doesn't have to be a thorn in your side!

Extreme Hostas

From miniature (we're talking palm-sized) to massive (6 feet across!), the garden hosta goes to extremes.

Labyrinths and Mazes

Labyrinths and mazes were once considered to be the same thing, or nearly so. Today the two are distinctly different, both by definition and purpose. A maze is a kind of game, designed to trick us into losing ourselves. A labyrinth has a more spiritual meaning, and is designed to help us find ourselves. These ancient puzzles fascinate us to this very today.

Their Names Live On In Flowers

Many of the flowers you know and love were named after actual people—like the granddaughter of Charles Darwin and a member of the Jameson Irish whiskey family. Who's living in your garden?

More Than a Hint of Mint

It's an herb, it's a garnish, it's...taking over your herb garden? From backyards to bubblegum, mint is making its mark.

Black Magic with a Metallic Twist

Black, bronze, and metallic plants add drama and sophistication to a garden's palette.

Make Your Garden a Hummingbird Haven

These pretty little hummers hypnotize and enthrall gardeners and photographers alike. With a little planning, your flower garden can easily be turned into a hummingbird habitat. An upcoming book, World of Hummingbirds, details the history of this beloved bird—and even includes tips on watching hummingbirds and attracting them to your garden.

A Taste of the Tropics

Whether you prefer salsa, reggae, or grass-skirted hula dancers, you can bring the flavor of your favorite island destination to your own garden—even if your climate is anything but tropical.

Growing Up Green

It's never to early to start growing a green thumb.

What Flower Are You?

Flowers have long been associated with emotions and personality traits. So what flower (or plant) fits your personality—are you a shy violet, a graceful iris, a happy sunflower, or a prickly cactus?

Gnome and Garden

They’re little. They’re ugly. They wear pointy red hats. It’s a gnome invasion. . .

Landscape Visionary: Jens Jensen

Often called the dean of the Prairie style, this Danish-born landscape architect and published author graduated from the bedded gardens of Scandinavia and Germany to become the "dean of the Prairie style," bringing waterfalls, winding paths, and native Midwestern plants to the parks of Chicago—and beyond.

Sticks and Stones

Pop quiz: What toy is "found in all sizes in nature, inspires spontaneous, unstructured play, and can be used in unending imaginative ways?" Here's a hint: this same toy can be used "to draw in the sand on the beach or to use as a magic wand, sling shot, light saber, fishing rod, or walking stick." Here's one more clue: It doesn't cost a thing.

Lilies Are Not Always What They Seem

When it comes to names, lilies are often the source of unwitting confusion. Some of your most beloved lilies are not true lilies at all.

Emerge from the Ordinary with a Butterfly Garden

Want to give your landscape wings? Try making it a haven for butterflies.

Barnes & Noble's Mystery Book Club November Features

JANE K. CLELAND and LAURA CALDWELL are visiting the Mystery Book Club in November to talk about their books. Join us!

Barnes & Noble's Garden Book Club November Features

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When We Were Very Young

My kids and I were reminiscing about the books we remembered reading (or having read to us) when we were young. My daughter came up with The Lonely Doll, When the Sun Rose, We Like Kindergarten, Jessica (Kevin Henkes)and The Story of Holly and Ivy.

Those were her "young 'un" favorites; these were from her pre-teen/teen years: Alice in Rapture, Sort of (the Alice series -- Phyllis Reynolds Naylor), Just As Long As We're Together (Judy Blume), Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (Judy Blume), Stacey's Book (Baby-sitter's Club -- Ann M. Martin), California Diaries series (Ann M. Martin), Daughters of Eve (Lois Duncan) andGirl Goddess #9 (Francesca Lia Block).

My son liked all of Marilyn Sadler's Alistair books, but his favorite was Alistair Underwater. He also remembers the Boxcar Children books, Grover (from Sesame Street) in The Monster at the End of the Book, and a book he thinks was called "How to Make Money." I didn't recall that one, but he said, "It was a picture book I got from the library 100 times. It told me to build a bike path in the backyard that I wanted to charge my friends to use, etc." Oh yeah, I remember that.

I also remember my son being fascinated with a book that told the story of how crayons were made. And I have a clear memory of the two of us choking up while reading Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins out loud -- the same way it choked me up when I read it at about age nine.

From my own childhood, I recalled the Slottie books my grandparents gave to us (I think they came from a book club) -- Columbine the White Cat, Fair Brown and Trembling and others. I still have a beat up but treasured copy of Laura Bannon's The Little Sister Doll -- I disliked the name Timmy for years because of the mean kid in that story. I loved all of Tasha Tudor's books, but especially The Doll's Christmas. Later, I fell in love with Paul Berna's classic A Hundred Million Francs, which was later made into the Disney movie, The Horse Without a Head.

For my sixth birthday, I was given a copy of A.A. Milne's Now We Are Six -- I was sick on my birthday, and for some odd reason I remember it better than just about any other. In addition to the book, I got a set of pretty days of the week undies and a bracelet with a penny charm on it. That was 51 years ago, and yet I can forget where I set my glasses down five minutes ago. I also had a copy of When We Were Very Young -- one of those books contained the poem, "King John's Christmas" which is still an all-time favorite of mine.

The most treasured of the treasured books -- my daughter loves it almost as much as I do -- is the Tall Book of Make Believe, with the most wonderful collection of stories and illustrations a child could ever want. Susan's Bears, Bad Mousie, The Land of Counterpane, Georgie, The Very Mischief, The Everlasting Lollipop -- oh, the memories that book brings back.

Read to your children, and your grandchildren -- do it for them, but do it for yourself, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Print Again

Well. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but years ago, my daughter and I co-wrote a book about 'N Sync. I just found out it's available, through a Barnes & Noble exclusive, as a bargain book. This has really brought back memories!

It started with the Backstreet Boys, oddly enough. My daughter and her best friend were completely addicted to that band. They were budding writers, too, and they introduced me to the world of fan fiction. The two of them wrote several fan fiction short stories, and I thought it would be fun to write a full-length fan fiction with my daughter and her friend in the starring roles. Now that I think of it, that was my first attempt at fiction.

I had the book printed and bound and, on my daughter's 16th birthday, left copies for her and her friends on her bedside table. They, of course, loved it. I didn't think it sucked too bad, so I jokingly sent a copy to my garden book editor. She called me the morning it arrived: "You won't believe this," she said. "I just came out of a meeting where we were asked if any of our writers could do a teen voice. How'd you like to write a book about 'N Sync?" (They'd already published a Backstreet Boys book.)

I'm freelance, so of course my answer was a resounding "yes." I asked if my daughter could write it with me, though, since she was the boy band expert. (Although I knew waaaay more than most people my age should have known, and I'd seen both bands in concert by then.) My editor thought that was a great idea.

This is what happened. 'N Sync was at the peak of their popularity then, to the point that even major newspapers and magazine had to do interviews by conference call. I learned all the tricks of how to write a book about a famous band without an actual exclusive interview, and it was harder than you'd think. But my daughter and I wanted it to be different from all the other books.

Even back then, my daughter and I were on the computer a lot. She hooked into some online fan clubs for 'N Sync, and posted an invitation for kids to email us. We came up with a list of questions and invited fans to respond with their own stories. It was the first book to include the fans, and the kids loved it.

We recruited a group of kids from my daughter's high school, a mix of 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys fans. (Most of them liked both bands, even if they had a favorite.) We had pizza parties as we pored over teen magazines, and the kids came up with suggestions for things to include in the book. I picked their brains for little known facts, and took copious notes. More kids got involved (just look at the dedication/acknowledgement page!), and a few of the moms joined in, too.

My daughter wrote the captions and acted as advisor and fan contact as well as co-author, while I did the bulk of the writing. I'd say we pretty much split the research. When the book was published, we were on local TV with a bunch of the kids who worked on it. (Johnny Bench was on with us that morning; the girls had no clue who he was.)

We donated copies to the high school and middle school libraries, as well as our local branch. My daughter autographed her first books. We had a blast.

The book is out of date now, but it might bring back some memories for you, too. Thanks, Barnes & Noble, for this blast from the past. You just made my day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Website, At Last

I've finally set up a website! I understand it will take a few days before it works -- right now, if you go to www.beckedavis.com you get a sort of holding pattern. You can access the new blog by clicking the title to this post.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Appreciating Autumn

My new blog is up at Barnes & Noble's GARDEN VARIETY, just in time to catch the fall color in the cooler parts of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Click the link to read more about this delightful annual display.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book Trailer for B&N Feature: CHOSEN TO DIE

Book Trailer for B&N Featured Book: WICKED GAME

More on The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

Barnes & Noble's MYSTERY BOOK CLUB October Features

October will be an exciting month at B&N's MYSTERY BOOK CLUB. We have best-selling author LISA JACKSON visiting as we feature her book, CHOSEN TO DIE. It's a family affair, since we are also featuring WICKED GAME, which was co-written by Lisa Jackson and her sister, Nancy Bush, who is also a great mystery writer. Join us!

New Post at B&N's GARDEN VARIETY: Danger Lurks in the Garden

If Amy Stewart's book, WICKED PLANTS, has you wondering what dangerous plants lurk in your garden, you'll want to check out my latest blog at Barnes & Noble's GARDEN VARIETY.

Barnes & Noble's GARDEN BOOK CLUB October Features

Join us in October as we feature the children's classic, A SECRET GARDEN, and a fascinating new release, NAMING NATURE.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day!

Celebrate National Punctuation Day!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Loucinda McGary is our Tuesday Visiting Author!

Loucinda McGary is visiting B&N's Mystery Book Club today to discuss her fabulous new release, THE TREASURES OF VENICE. I just finished reading it, and I highly recommend it! Click the title for a direct link. Come join the party!

The Superior Scribbler Award

A big thanks to Ryan, author of the cool Wordsmithonia blog, for giving me the Superior Scribbler Award! You can click the title to see Ryan's blog. Ryan is also a regular at Barnes & Noble's Mystery Book Club -- stop by there and chat with us both sometime!

Here is how the Superior Scribbler award works (and isn't that the cutest icon ever?):

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Now, I follow a LOT of blogs, so this is going to be difficult. I'm taking a deep breath and picking these five blogs to receive the award (in no particular order):

1) Keri Stevens blog, Leap!

2) Jan O'Hara's blog, Tartitude

3) Tina Wolfer's blog, Sunflower City

4) Chasing Heroes, where my friend Tonya Kappes blogs regularly:

5) Well. This is hard. I have at least five other blogs (not counting all the high-traffic blogs I follow) that deserve this honor. I hope my friends will forgive me, but I'm going to go with this one, which my husband writes. He's been on quite a journey -- pretty much his whole life -- and, knowing him, his journey isn't over yet. I know he pours his heart into this blog, so I'm giving Accepting Reality this spot. http://lifeingrace.blogspot.com

Thanks for giving me this honor, Ryan!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Chatting with Heidi Betts at RBTB Today

Today I'm talking to Heidi Betts about the knit lit craze at Romance B(u)y the Book today. Heidi is the author of TANGLED UP IN LOVE. I'll be blogging about her new release, LOVES ME, LOVES ME KNOT tomorrow at RBTB. Watch for the third book in Heidi's Chicks with Sticks series in the new year. Meantime, stop by and join the discussion. Click on the title of this post for a direct link.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

September Features for B&N's Garden Book Club

Amy Stewart will be joining Barnes and Noble's Garden Book Club in September to talk about her book, WICKED PLANTS. I will also be interviewing Amy about this book at B&N's GARDEN VARIETY blog on September 1st. Amy is also the author of FLOWER CONFIDENTIAL, THE EARTH MOVES and FROM THE GROUND UP.

Our second feature for September is The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants, by Jane S. Smith.

Stop by and join us -- click the title of this post for a direct link.

September Features for B&N's Mystery Book Club

Hank Phillippi Ryan will be visiting Barnes & Noble's Mystery Book Club to talk about the latest in her series, with PRIME TIME, FACE TIME and AIR TIME. Annette Blair will be joining us to talk about LARCENY AND LACE, the second book in her Vintage Magic series -- A VEILED DECEPTION was the first in the series.

On Tuesday, September 8, Loucinda McGary will celebrate the release of her new romantic suspense novel, THE TREASURES OF VENICE. And on Tuesday, September 15, Jacqueline Seewald, author of THE DROWNING POOL and THE INFERNO COLLECTION will spend the day with us. Click the title of this post for a link to the Mystery Book Club!