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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today's Special - - Sandy Blair

I first discovered Sandy Blair when I won a copy of her time-travel holiday book, A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS.  That was all it took for me to glom onto her back list of books and look forward to each new one she releases.  An award-winning author, Sandy has "slept in castles, knelt in cathedrals where kings and queens have been crowned, dined with peerage, floated along Venetian canals, explored the great pyramids, misplaced her husband in an Egyptian ruin (she continues to deny being the one lost), and fallen (gracefully) off a cruise trip." (from sandyblair.net)   
Please welcome Sandy to The Romance Dish!



Hi Sandy! It was lovely seeing you recently at RWA in New York City. I hope you enjoyed the conference.

Hi Patty! Yes, I had a great time and very much enjoyed visiting with you.

I was especially excited to learn that you have a new book coming out. THE KING’S MISTRESS was released yesterday (July 26th) in digital format from Samhain Publishing. Will you please tell our readers what they can expect from this story?

Would love to! On orders from his king, Britt MacKinnon, captain of the king’s guard, arrives at the Armstrong Border holding to fetch back to Edinburgh the king’s favorite paramour. Identical twin Geneen Armstrong, intent on protecting her pregnant twin, on making the court believe she and her sister are one in the same, doesn’t tell Britt he’s escorting the wrong woman to the king. Lies build upon lies at break neck speed as readers enter the perilous world of Scotland’s medieval court, where intrigue and deception ruled. To a time and place when hearts, lives and Scotland’s destiny hung in the balance.

I love the tagline for this book. The long way home could be the shortest road to ruin. It immediately piqued my interest. Do you write your own taglines or is that the responsibility of the publisher?

My editor came up with the tagline after reading the manuscript. I love it. It accurately depicts the story on so many levels.

What was your inspiration for this story?

Promise not to laugh? I read non-fiction history books before sleep in the hopes of discovering an inexplicable event in Scotland’s past that will send my muse into overdrive, triggering that all important, “What if…?”
Within days of a “What if…?” moment, you’ll find me neck deep in research books. As I delve into the lives of the historical characters involved, my protagonists come to life and plot points begin to unfold. This invariably leads to further research into such fun stuff as indigenous poisonous plants, cottage industries and peculiar funeral practices.

THE KING'S MISTRESS was triggered by my happening upon several confusing accounts of Yolande de Dreux, the widow of Alexander III, her actions following his suspicious death, his heir’s sudden (and yet to be explained) death and the resultant political chaos that followed. THE KING'S MISTRESS begins just days before these events occurred.

Readers are frequently asked to name their favorite characteristics in a hero or heroine. What characteristic do you most admire in Britt and Geneen, the hero and heroine of THE KING’S MISTRESS?

A battle-tested warrior, Britt MacKinnon is a man of ingrained integrity, which is constantly tested by his estranged family, his king, and now by a woman he cannot love but does.

Geneen Armstrong has spent her life giving, never having wanted for herself and now she does want--desperately…and his name is Britt MacKinnon.

Is this a stand-alone book or will there be related stories in the future?

I’m working on story about Britt’s best friend, Lyle Ross. He was nearly destroyed by his love for the wrong woman. I’d like to give him the right one.

THE KING’S MISTRESS is set in Scotland, as most of your books have been. What do you think makes Scotland, and Scottish men in particular, so appealing to the readers of Romance Fiction?

What’s not to love? The Highlands are majestic, and Highlanders come with knee-melting brogues, a wry sense of humor, and bodies that for generations wielded battle axes and broad swords. The best were/are men of honor who hold dear their love of the land and clan, for the law and of course their women.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on two manuscripts: Lyle’s story, which will be a historical Romance, and my mainstream historical.

Okay, time for a little Quick Six fun!

Dogs or Cats?

Dogs. Here’s a picture of my writing partner Coco Chanel.

Aw, she's adorable!

Early Bird or Night Owl?

I may be the Early-est bird you know. 

Beef or Seafood?

Both. I adore shellfish and good steak.

Formal dress or Comfy jeans?

Jeans, please. Preferably the stretch type.

Fly or Drive?

Fly! Life is too short to spend 6 hrs in a car to get somewhere when you could have gotten on a plane and been there in one.

Beach or Mountains?

Definitely the beach! In fact we just moved to New Hampshire, where we can walk to a glorious beach in just 5 minutes.

Sandy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Would you like to ask anything of our readers?

‘Twas my pleasure. Thank you for the great interview questions. And yes, I would like to ask your readers a question.

How will Borders’ closing and Barnes and Nobles’ recent decision to cut back on the volume of paperback books they carry in order to make more space available for toys, calendars, etc affect you? 

Sandy will be giving away a terrific prize package, including a plush 6-inch Highlander teddy bear, some locally made Coastal New Hampshire salt-water taffy and THE KING'S MISTRESS (Kindle or Nook), to one randomly selected person who leaves a comment on today's blog.  

Find out more about Sandy and her books at her website

Sandy's new e-book, THE KING'S MISTRESS, can be purchased from Samhain, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com. 

~PJ


66 comments:

  1. Hi Sandy, Congratulations on your new release; it sounds terrific.
    I just fell in love with your dog, and I adore the name you gave her! She is lovely and makes a wonderful tribute to the late, great Coco Chanel.

    I hate that Borders is closing. I was in our beautiful local store last week buying books as usual. I told everyone how much they would be missed. Today the store is completely different. It's a mess of rifled goods and is being run by a liquidation company that has no interest in the customer. The change in just one week is so very sad. I'm sorry that I had to see it that way; I should have stayed away.

    Our local B&N stores are very nice but they don't have the same welcoming feel that Borders had. I love to Browse, but I think I'll be buying more books online and keep relying on PJ and the rest of the Dishes for new author and book recommendations.

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  2. Book stores in my town are closing too. (I'm in Australia.) It's practically a criminal offense as far as I am concerned. How can I enjoy my weekly browse?

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  3. Hi Sandy! congrats on your new book... I went to Borders on Friday and the 1st thing out of my mouth was "I bet most of the people in here right now have enver been in here before' the woman in front of me in the checkout line said I know you are right.. it is so sad all I can say is WHERE AM I GOING TO SHOP FOR BOOKS?? I am sick aobut this and BN isnt' the same they all act so superior and sorry but I cannot afford to pay full price for a book and my friends and I looked forward to "new book Tuesday". I have an ereader but why do I feel "forced" to buy an ebook. I like the feel of a book in my hands... guess I am old fashioned, huh?

    Donna

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  4. Hi Sandy,

    big congrats to your newest release!

    I am really sad that Borders is closing. Everytime I came to the States my first stop at the airport was Borders. I loved the store.

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  5. Hi Fsbuchler,
    Coco is a doll. But how sad you had to experience the demise of your favorite bookstore. Hopefully, your B&N will see their new customers needs and fill them.

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  6. Marybelle, I know the feeling. Worse, our children won't experience the joy of browsing as they grow older.

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  7. Hi Donna,
    Thanks for dropping by. I worry with fewer bookstores they'll be fewer "real" books and scarity usually means higher prices. That's not a good thing.

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  8. Hi Danny,
    So pleased you're here. Supposedly Books-A-Million is interested in acquiring some of the Borders stores so hopefully there may still be places close at hand to feed our book addictions.

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  9. I just noticed an old cover shows up whenever I post. Anyone here know how I might change it to my new release?

    Sandy, the computer challenged

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  10. Hi Sandy! Welcome to the Romance Dish!

    The closing of Borders and changes at B&N don't really have a direct impact on my book buying. I live in a small town and their closest stores are more than 40 miles away.

    As a reader though, it saddens me to see the changes as well as the many Indy stores that have been closing. I love the "feel" of the brick and mortar bookstore and the ability to browse to my book-loving heart's content.

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  11. Fsbuchler, I'm so sad you had to see your local store torn apart like that and, even worse, run by people who don't care about the customers.

    We'll do our best here to keep bringing you new authors and new books to bring a smile to your reader's heart!

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  12. Marybelle, I think it's the browsing people will miss most of all.

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  13. Deerdoe69, I find that the case with most businesses who close. I wonder where all the people were while the business was trying to make a go of it. I guess it's just human nature to look for a bargain.

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  14. Hi Dannyfiredragon!

    Borders had a very welcoming presence, didn't they? Hopefully, whoever takes their place in your airports of choice will do a good job!

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  15. I just noticed an old cover shows up whenever I post. Anyone here know how I might change it to my new release?

    Sandy, if you're using a Blogger ID, go to Blogger.com and click on your screen name. Then click on Profile, then Edit, then scroll down and change the photograph.

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  16. PJ,
    You're right about the browsing factor. Some of Scott and my favorite date memories started with a movie followed by a stroll through the mall's Borders or B&N.

    Unlike libraries, which by necessity stack books spine out, bookstores invite you to pick books up by displaying covers. That's how I discovered Diana Gabaldon and Phillipa Gregory. Their covers drew me like a bear to honey.

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  17. Sandy said, Unlike libraries, which by necessity stack books spine out, bookstores invite you to pick books up by displaying covers. That's how I discovered Diana Gabaldon and Phillipa Gregory. Their covers drew me like a bear to honey.

    That's how I discovered Robyn Carr and Kristan Higgins!

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  18. Thank you for the terrific interview. It's always so nice to get to know more about our favorite authors. Little Coco is a doll and hope Sandy will share more pictures of her. Looking forward to reading Sandy's book!
    Connie Fischer
    conniecape@aol.com

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  19. Congratulations and best wishes. Your book sounds compelling and wonderful. Your dog is adorable and sweet.Enjoyable interview. Love that photo. Best of success.

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  20. Thanks for this interesting interview. Coco Chanel is so special. Congrats. on your new release. Borders will be missed. We have B & N here in town.

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  21. Thanks for visiting, Connie. I hope you enjoy the tale. And Coco says thank you for the compliment. She's off to the Paw-casso's tomorrow, her least favorite place in the world, for her monthly buff and fluff.

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  22. Thanks for the well wishes, Petite.

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  23. Congratulations on your new release Sandy! Coco is adorable. Our local Borders is already closed and I noticed months ago that Barnes & Noble has cut back on the amount of romances they stock since I couldn't find a new release that I wanted. I think I will be doing more of my book shopping at Amazon since they always have what I want. I do miss walking around a book store though.

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  24. Hi Traveler,
    Thanks, and good to hear you have a B&N in town.

    We live in a small coastal community and have only 2 independent bookshops nearby. One sells only used/collectibles, and the other focuses on new culinary and children's book, although they have been known to carry a literacy fiction or mainstream thriller or two when the mood hits. And no Romance. (I'm hoping to change that come spring when The King's Mistress comes out in paperback, being local and all. Only time will tell.)

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  25. Hi Connie! Isn't that photo of Coco adorable? I'm such a softie when it comes to dogs (as the two snoozing at my feet would tell you). :)

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  26. Petite and Traveler, thanks so much for stopping by!

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  27. Hi Sandy,

    I've never been to NH but I've heard it's gorgeous with breathtaking fall color.

    Congrats on the release of your book!

    I'm like PJ and live 40 minutes from a book store. I like being able to go into a book store to browse.I've picked up several new authors that way. I'm way behind techwise. I sit at my computer with e-books for PC. Not a comfortable place to read a whole book.

    I have bought books online but only from authors I've read before.

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  28. Hi Maureen!

    We have a small independent book store in my small town but they've slowly been crowding out the books with "stuff" (gifts, bric-a-brac, etc). I guess they figure books aren't enough to draw people in but the store's so crowded now that it's really lost its charm. They do carry some romance but a very limited amount. They focus more on mainstream fiction and regional authors.

    My local "browsing" place, believe it or not, is Walmart. Our local store carries a pretty good selection of romance.

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  29. Hi Maureen,
    I read recently that B&N is planning to cut back on all paperbacks to make room for more miscellaneous product lines...like calendars and music, which I find disconcerting.

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  30. Hi, Sandy! I'm so excited that you're dishing with us today. Like PJ, I was won over by A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS. Any book with Highlander in the title definitely has my attention! Love those delectable Scotsmen. :-)

    I'm putting THE KING'S MISTRESS on my 'must read' list---sounds fantastic!

    I'm saddened by Borders closing. Although there is not one near me---I live in a small town---my family and I did drive to the nearest one and take advantage of their going-out-of-business sale. Exploring a bookstore is one of life's little pleasures---at least it is for me.

    BTW, Coco Chanel is precious!

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  31. Hi Sandy!

    Did you get much choice in with the cover of you story? Its very pretty! Does it depictic your heroine well?
    I hate that Borders is closing. They atleast gave B&N a run for their money in my town, so I'm afraid prices will go even higher here.

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  32. Hi Laurie,
    I feel the same way about reading books on my PC. I broke down and bought my Kindle when the price dropped, and have recouped its cost since buying 7 e-books vs buying the paperback versions. Now I'm ahead of the game, actually save money whenever I buy books. (Or so I keep telling my frugal Scot hubby, who thinks nothing of slugging his way through 8 ft high snow drifts to get to our "free" library. Grrrrrr.)

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  33. Hi Gannon,
    I'm thrilled to be here and thanks for letting me know you enjoyed A Highlander For Christmas. (I hope you enjoy TKM as much.)

    And Coco says thank you.

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  34. Thank you for the great interview, PJ and Sandy! Congrats on your new release, Sandy. I haven't read a medieval romance for awhile and TKM sounds so good! I love to read stories set in Scotland.

    Borders and B&N decisions don't affect me because I have an AWESOME indie bookstore I frequent for my books and reading selections. The one owner, Bobby) knows exactly the kind of books/stories I like to read and she is always holding new authors or books for me to try. That's why I've been a customer for the last 20 years. I just called the store last night and ordered some books and at no extra charge. (Basically Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

    Congrats, again!

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  35. Hi Stephanie, I did have input but the credit really has to go to my wonderful editor. She hunted for hours for a model that looked like my heroine, and with a background that related to the story.

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  36. Hi Deb,
    Thanks for posting. And you're one lucky duck! We had a great Indy nearby while living in Dallas. The manager knew her stock, and regularly held book signings for local authors. But then we moved and now...sigh.

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  37. Hi,

    I was just in a B&N last night (I had 3 people ask if they could help me) and was amazed at how much space they already devote to non-book items. I guess with so many of us buying online or switching to ebooks it's understandable. I still like going in and picking up books with interesting covers/titles and reading the blurbs.

    I used to love Borders for all of the 40% off coupons they sent out, but I'm trying to switch to ebooks only and the coupons weren't valid on them anyway, so I'd stopped going in as much.

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  38. Hi Anne,
    Those 40% off coupons certainly were a treat. Sigh.

    At least your B&N has a pro-active staff. Too many book store types are painfully shy.

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  39. Hi Sandy, thank you for your interview.I love your books.I hate hereing about all the book stores closeing all around us.

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  40. Hi Peggy,
    Thanks for dropping by and for the kind words about my books.

    I'm afraid we're on the cusp of a new era where everything is chosen and purchased on line, where everyone works in a digital world, where personal interaction is sorely limited. Think about it. How many people will miss their chance to meet casually and fall in love? Oy.

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  41. Hi, Sandy!

    It is sad we're losing such a large book chain, but if B&N's changes are the future, looks like we would have lost some anyway. B&N is a bookstore, for heaven's sake, not a toy store or any other kind of store. I find those changes quite irritating!

    Congrats on the new release. You've got a winner!

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  42. Hi Sandy,
    It is irritating but word on the street says the shift is upon us. Most adults now read their Sunday paper on-line and it's hard to find a kid over 10 yrs that isn't packing an interactive cell phone or I-pad. Heck, even my ancient neighbor is "connected." Just yesterday she was bragging about buying a spin mop on-line.

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  43. Sandy, oh my gosh you have one adorable writing partner. She looks like furry ball of distraction but I imagine even that is a lot of fun!

    I absolutely love reading about Scotland in my historical romances, everything from highlanders to lairds but one area that is a little new to me is reading about Scotland's medieval court. I think it'll be a nice change. I'm hoping for some action to go along with a passionate love story. Wishing you lots of success on your release :)

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  44. Hi Sandy,
    I am such a fan. Congratulations on the new release.
    Coco Chanel is just the cutest.
    I never shopped at Borders. I live in a rural area and the closest was about 50 miles away. I order online from B&N and amazon. I still love the feel of a book in my hands. I do see the day coming when I might want a Kindle. My daughter has one and I love how you can make the print larger. As my eyes are beginning to show their age that would be a nice feature.

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  45. Great post Sandy, love your books. I hate to see any bookstore close but I guess it want effect me much. I don't have any large books stores around where I live. I usually have to buy my books at Walmart, Kroger or order on line. I still don't like to here about bookstores closing because they are our life. Things are really bad right now. I know in the area where I live a lot of the factories have closed and left and there is just not many jobs here now. Its a tough world today and I am not sure what we are going to do.

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  46. Hi Na,
    You'll definitely find action and political intrigue. But not a lot of "he loves me/he loves me not" introspection. The reason is two fold. First, gobs of redundant thought drives me--a reader--nuts and secondly, I wanted to stay true to an actual timeline, which didn't allow for loads of introspection and searching glances. There is some--after all this is a romance, but not gobs.

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  47. Hi Gigi,
    Thanks for dropping by and for the kind words about my previous books.
    As for Coco, she really is a doll.

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  48. Hi Virginia,
    The lack of jobs is frightening, which is why I fail to understand why US companies continue to out-source jobs. My son just spent a week in Mexico City training people to do his--and his department's--work. How insane is that?

    Yes, companies need to keep shareholders happy and yes, Americans want low prices but if folks don't have jobs, they don't have money to buy an item, cheap or not. Personally I'd rather pay an extra dollar and keep a US manufacturer open.

    Or am I missing something here?

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  49. Hii Sandy! congrats on ur new release I sooo Love the cover your work totally rocks and this one will be just as well


    It totally does suck when a book store closes none of our book stores have closed here so far but im sure they will I havent had a bad experiance with B& n but some ppl do I have to say I dont like to buy many ebooks really i feel they are impersonal I love them for trips and such but other then that I love to be able to hold them in my hand

    Ty for hosting and having sandy in today she totally rocks!

    mortalsinn(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  50. Hi SiNn,
    Thanks for coming by. And nice to know I "rock." If it helps any, The King's Mistress will be available in paperback in the spring.

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  51. I've enjoyed Sandy's books in the past but have gotten a wee bit behind in the recent releases, so I need to do some catching up. I'm looking forward to reading The King's Mistress, it sounds wonderful.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

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  52. Hey Sandy! Welcome to The Romance Dish!

    Just like PJ, I discovered you by reading A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS, which I absolutely loved!!

    I must say that THE KING'S MISTRESS sounds like a book I would totally enjoy. I love any kind of battle-tested warrior ;-) They are usually tough on the outside and oh so soft on the inside *sigh*

    I hate that so many book stores are closing and that the printed book seems to losing favor with readers as e-readers become the way of the world. I so enjoy physically holding a book and turning the pages.

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  53. Hi Barbara E,
    Thanks for dropping in. I hope you enjoy TKM after catching up on your TBR books. Any you adore?

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  54. Hi Everybody! Looks like y'all had a fun afternoon around here! I had to be away from the house for awhile but I'm home now and will try to catch up with comments during So You Think You Can Dance commercials.

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  55. Laurie G, I've never been to New Hampshire either but would love to visit one of these days, especially in the fall.

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  56. PJ,
    NH is really beautiful. Should you decide to make the trip, let me know. We have a guest room and live only a 5 minute walk from the ocean.

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  57. NH is really beautiful. Should you decide to make the trip, let me know. We have a guest room and live only a 5 minute walk from the ocean.

    Sounds like a little slice of heaven, Sandy! Thanks!

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  58. Deb, like you I also love medievals, especially ones set in Scotland. Buffie and I both have a soft spot for them! :)

    Sounds like you have a wonderful indie store. Thanks for giving them a shout out. I'll bet they appreciate you just as much as you appreciate them!

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  59. Hi Anne! Thanks for stopping by!
    You said, I still like going in and picking up books with interesting covers/titles and reading the blurbs.

    I'm so glad I can still do that at my local Walmart. True, they don't have as many titles as a B&N or Borders but they do a pretty good job of stocking romance and I'd really miss being able to browse if we didn't have them.

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  60. Sandy, thank you so much for visiting with us today. You've been an amazing guest!

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  61. Great interview, PJ and Sandy! I've heard about Borders, of course, but this is the first I've heard about B&N cutting back on paperbacks. I'm stunned! And sad. I don't have an e-reader and don't have any plans to get one because I prefer holding a book. Sigh.

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  62. You're most welcome but I should be thanking you for the invitation. I had a great time. Please let me know who won the random drawing and I'll get their package out to them.

    'Night all!

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  63. The first of your books I read was A HIGHLANDER FOR CHRISTMAS. I found it both funny and heartbreaking.

    It is a shame to see so many book stores cutting back and closing. We are lucky in this area to have a healthy book store environment. We have a Barnes & Noble and a Books-A-Million plus a couple small independent stores. I have not been to a Borders in years. There are not any nearby. I hate to see B&N put more gift type items in. The book selection has already been encroached upon enough. I started going there because the library where I worked had an account and I did some of the buying. For my personal browsing, I find Books-A-Million much better. They have a better selection of books with more of the "older" titles. I do rely on reviews and recommendations, but I have found some good books just browsing what is on the shelf. You can't really do that on line.

    I like the sound of your new book, THE KING'S MISTRESS. It seems to have all the elements I look for in a story. I hope the release goes well. I'll be looking for it.

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  64. Sandy, I finally figured out how to post here, silly me and thanks to Billie Jo. This was a very informative interview and I so enjoyed it. Thank you and Dish for sharing with us. I am looking forward to receiving this new book. If it is from Sandy Blair, it will be a great read. Helen in Ark.

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  65. I just returned from a three-week trip with little U.S. news to see that Borders is closing. (Sob!) I am very saddened that one of my normal book stops will no longer be available. Is the whole book community in kahoots to get us to shop at Amazon?

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