The disappearing women

At LitHub, author Dorthe Nors writes about the conundrum that so many middle-age women face.

I write books about middle-aged, childless women on the brink of disappearing—or you could say—on the brink of losing their license to live. If a woman has kids, she will always be a mother, but a woman who has chosen not to procreate and who now no longer is young and sexy is perceived by many as a pointless being.”

Later on in her article, Nors says that a journalist told once told her that she was glad that she writes about middle-aged women without children because “there are so many of us, and because it quite often feels as if we’re not really here.”
Middle Aged Women, movie framePhoto: A still from “Another Year”, dir. Mike Leigh (2010).

Read the whole article at LitHub HERE

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Road Tripping While Female

Also at LitKub, Bernadette Murphy writes about the absence of women in the literature of American adventure;

“In American letters, there are plenty of male adventure tales unspooling on our nation’s highways and byways…(but) the story of a woman on the road—joyfully, expansively, freely, experiencing this land in the way these male authors do—it turns out, is a rare thing.

There are exceptions, she says. For example:

Wild CoverWild, Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, lauded by Oprah and made into a feature film starring Reese Witherspoon, tells of the author’s life-enhancing and resolve-testing solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail in an effort to reclaim the woman she had been.

Read more at LitHub HERE

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Women may be mostly absent on the road, but when it comes to other books, Terrence Rafferty writes at The Atlantic,

Women Are Writing the Best Crime Novels

They don’t seem to believe in heroes as much as their male counterparts, which in some ways makes their storytelling a better fit for the times, Rafferty writes in his article, adding:

“When in doubt,” Raymond Chandler once told his genre brethren, “have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” When today’s crime writers are in doubt, they have a woman come through the door with a passive-aggressive zinger on her lips…their books are light on gunplay, heavy on emotional violence.

Darkest Secret cover photoDeath, in (some) women’s books, is often chillingly casual, and unnervingly intimate.

As a character in Alex Marwood’s brilliant new novel, The Darkest Secret, muses: “They’re not always creeping around with knives in dark alleyways. Most of them kill you from the inside out.

Read more at The Atlantic HERE

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Quote of the Day
OneTrue Sentence illustration

Ah, if only it really were that easy.

~~~~~
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When I was young and innocent

Queen Guenevere illustrationBack when I was nineteen years old and steeped up to my innocent ingenue ears in The Matter of Britain, I wrote a novel about Queen Guenevere.

A publisher who was considering it sent it to South Africa’s pre-eminent novelist for comment. He started his report thusly:

“This is an impressive piece of writing, especially if it is taken into account that it was written by a 19-year-old. I have no doubt that this young woman will be a major writer one day.”

But…’

You heard the but coming, didn’t you?…

Read the whole story at the Book View Cafe HERE

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Passing over the Rainbow Bridge

Just found out today that a friend I knew as Cat but had never met in real life has died.

For over twenty years, Vickie Barcomb was and always will remain this wonderful, wise, larger-than-life Internet friend whom I loved. For a reason. Usually the first question asked over one of our phone calls was “How many cats do you have now?” And it was always answered by a laconic, “Oh, I’m down to about 40.”

Forty cats and kittens rescued and fostered under the umbrella of her organization, Kittens, Inc. – some of them very young, some of them severely special-needs,
all of them loved and cared for by this great-hearted woman who knew everything there was to know about things feline and who was my go-to source of advice when megrims threatened my beloved fur family.

I’ll never have that again – those conversations over the phone, usually punctuated by random crashes in the background and “HEY! GET OFF THAT!” addressed to the cats in her vicinity.

She had one cat, Ivy, who would ‘talk’ to me on the phone. Cat would put the receiver next to Ivy and I would ask how are you feeling today. “Mmmrrrow?” – and how was the weather? – “Mmroweoweow. Meow.” – Oh, I see, too hot, was it? – “MEOW. meowowowow.” And then Cat herself would take back the phone and we’d just carry on where we had stopped.

Cat was always phoning me from her cell phone while negotiating traffic. “Hang on a sec, there’s a moron in front of me who has no clue what he’s doing. TURN, YOU IDIOT! Okay, where were we?”

She was also one of the most, um, breakable people I knew. The other common theme of those phone calls was “What have you broken lately?” There was always something. A finger. A hand. A hip. But she was always up and at it anyway, typing with a broken hand, crawling around with a leg in a cast to clean cat boxes. Never give up, never surrender.

She was always full of awful jokes, but her full-throated laugh made even the worst of them hilarious. And we laughed together a lot.

DAMN. I am going to miss this friend whose face I never saw with my own physical eyes, whose hand I never shook, whose voice I never heard other than through the telephone. She was always geographically distant from me – but she was a kind of a soul sister. And I will miss her.

Rest in light, Cat. And I just KNOW that you were smothered with love and wet kisses at the far end of the Rainbow Bridge. And only the BEST people are.

~~~~~

Author buries latest manuscript for a hundred years

David Mitchell photoDavid Mitchell ‘Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

At The Guardian, Alison Flood reports that the author of Cloud Atlas has delivered his new work to Oslo’s Nordmarka forest as part of the Future Library project.

David Mitchell is used to his novels being picked over by the critics, so it’s something of a relief, he says, that his latest work won’t be seen by anyone until 2114.

Mitchell is the second contributor to the Scottish artist Katie Paterson’s Future Library project, for which 1,000 trees were planted two years ago in Oslo’s Nordmarka forest. Each year for the next 100 years an author will deliver a piece of writing which will only be read in 2114, when the trees are chopped down to make paper on which the 100 texts will be printed.

The Future Library Project offers “hope that we will be here, that there will be trees, that there will be books, and readers, and civilization.”

Read more at The Guardian HERE

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Did you hear how the sandwich was invented?

Since the first cave paintings thousands of years ago, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods, Leo Widrich says at Life Hacker, because it is the most powerful way to activate our brains.

What does this mean? Well gather around while he tells you a story.

Read more at Life Hack HERE

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Mortifification! Reading from your adolescent diaries on stage

At KQED News, Linda Flanagan tells us that when Georgia Gootee examines the journals she wrote as a 15-year-old, she sympathizes with her younger flailing self.

“You can read through these journals and tell that at some points I’m just so terrified that it’ll never come together, I’ll never find my place in the world, I’ll never feel loved or love anyone myself.”

Now 26, Gootee can chuckle at the overwrought nature of her youthful preoccupations. “It’s a weird duality,” she said.

She read excerpts from her teenage journal at a Mortified performance in Portland last year. Mortified shows, as they’re called, feature adults reading aloud and on stage from their adolescent diaries.

Read more at KQED News HERE

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Quote of the Day
Noun Or Verb posterI knew what I was before I could hold a crayon in my hand. How about you?

~~~~~
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Are you a god?

If you are a writer, yes.

In a very real sense what you do when you create a fictional world is neither more nor less than being a god of a universe of your own creation.

We writers, we artists, we take the building blocks of the familiar and go on to make something different from them, something rich and strange. There is a train station where all the trains to these places stop, and we all stand there on the platform selling tickets, tickets to OUR worlds, and we smile when someone picks one up and boards a particular train and sits there leaning forward with shining eyes full of anticipation.

The worlds we create can be filled with intricate and painstaking detail – or they can be just hinted at, with the larger picture there for you, the reader, to fill in when you lift your eyes from the words on the page and the ideas blossom in the back of your mind.

Some of the best world-creating moments are almost incidental – like in a fairly silly episode of Doctor Who named “Gridlock” where the premise rests on this ludicrous idea of a traffic jam that has literally lasted for lifetimes… and yet this silliness is lifted into the transcendent.

Right at the end of the episode, the Doctor speaks with passion and pain and longing and regret and nostalgia and the purest love, of his lost home, Gallifrey. The world is built, sketched in a a few powerful words, a couple of incandescent sentences.

I’ve never been to Gallifrey. I can’t have ever been there. It does not exist any longer – the Doctor said it’s been destroyed. But, of course, it never REALLY existed at all, outside the story, outside the Doctor’s own mind and heart and memory.

Gallifrey illustrationAnd yet some part of me thrills to the “burnt orange sky”, and the “mountains that shine when the second sun rises.”

 

(With a little search you can find a video clip of this brief scene online and it’s worth the effort.)

I do this thing, worldbuilding. I take pride in creating worlds that live and breathe.

And sometimes I get rewarded.

“I could almost smell the cold and the freshness of the air and the tremble of the earth,” someone told me the other day, in reference my novel ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei‘.

I took a reader into a world that rose, real, around her as she rolled into the heart of it. One journey into a sense of wonder, validated. There are moments of which entire days are made. This gave me one of those moments.

Professor Tolkien wrote about all this, powerfully:

Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not de-throned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons- ’twas our right
(used or misused). That right has not decayed:
we make still by the law in which we’re made.

Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker. — J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien on Fairy-stories

In a LiveJournal essay a few years ago I challenged my readers to:

“Take me to a place you’ve never been and make me homesick for it. Make me yearn for it and believe in it and love it and miss it as though it once belonged to me and I still carry it in my heart.”

It’s easy – well, easier, anyway – to write about a place one has personally known and loved. I have done it talking about the Danube and the way I feel about that river; I’ve done it about the places of my childhood.

But can you be homesick for a place you have never been, can never go? Is it possible for an Earthbound human to be homesick for a planet called Gallifrey, or a wood known as Lothlorien? Is it possible to be homesick for some patch of this our own world which one has never seen or visited?

For instance…

Oh, the moment in which the sun is not yet quite risen, not yet quite ready to pour itself around the shadowed crags in their veils of mist, but the day has started – and the light is pearly and nacred, shifting and shining, and the mists flow and coil around their great standing rocks and islands as though they are saying farewell to a lover. And the sky is lost in a brightening glow and the silhouettes of stones sharpen into individual sharp edges, and trees, and in between all there is the river, and the water is starting to change from darkness to a dull pewter glow which echoes the pre-dawn light to the glitter of sun on water as the first fingers of sunlight touch the ancient river and wake it into day once more, another day.

Already there are boats moving, and men silhouetted against the sky, and the faint shimmery lines of nets being cast into the water where the fish are waking, too, and waiting to offer themselves in the daily act of love and sacrifice that feeds the people of these crags, of this river. And the shadows are black, and the crags are charcoal gray and deep deep green in the faint light, and the water is turning golden and the sky is turning a faint blue, like the delicate shell of a bird’s egg, and soon the sun will come and the water will blaze with glory.

I am talking about a real place, the Li river, Guilin, China. But I’ve never been there. I’ve never seen this, outside of pictures.

River in China photo

I found this photo AFTER I wrote that paragraph above. I went looking for images that matched the view from my mind’s eye. I wasn’t describing the pictures; the pictures were found later to match and illustrate what I had already described…

And yet it’s there in my mind’s eye. And I can make myself homesick for it by letting the image live in my mind.

Perhaps it is possible to take a soul to Gallifrey. And make that soul love a place never seen, impossible to reach, a place that may never have existed outside the mind and heart of a character in a story…

~~~~~

My first book audiobook – Paper and ebook and voice, oh my.

I am a very visual writer. I sometimes basically close my eyes and just transcribe the movie that’s unfolding before me on the backs of my eyelids. I SEE things.

Some writers dictate their books into a recorder before transcribing them onto the page, and some use software such as Dragon to dictate their books directly onto the screen. But that is not the way I think, not the way I write. I need to see the words dance on the page. Not hear them.

For the same reason, I haven’t really taken to audio books the way others, my husband for example, have. I don’t take in stories JUST by listening to them.

But the times they are a-changing, audiobooks are becoming more popular and I have now taken a step into the future with my first book in audio format, ‘Embers of Heaven‘.
.
Embers of Heaven coverI listened to the sample on the Amazon page for the audio book and it’s eerie to hear my own words spoken at me. It’s well done, at least in the sample I heard. (I have to admit that I would probably have chosen a female narrator voice since my main protagonist is a woman and the final section of the book is pretty much a first-person journal-like narrative from her POV.)

My first audiobook. Huh. I feel all grown up now.

You can sample or buy it at Amazon HERE

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Quote of the DayBenjamin Franklin posterIn his own way, he was talking about building a world.

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DON’T READ THAT!

It’s YA; aren’t you embarrassed to be caught with that book?

First of all… repeat after me: “There is no such thing as ‘YA LITERATURE‘.”

There isn’t. Not really. Not specifically. The category was created, whole-cloth, as a marketing niche for those who wanted to capture a particular kind of readership. But let’s unpack that a little bit.

1) Kids tend to read “older”. That is, they like protagonists older than they are. Ten-year-olds will yearningly read about teens. Young teens will read about older teens. Older teens… well, most of them will read adult literature.

In short, any book marked as a YA book is going to be read, at least at first, by young teens.

2) Quite often the people who actually PURCHASE books for young(er) readers are not those readers themselves but parents, grandparents and other adults who are paying the money and making the choices. Yes, they will choose the books that they think their kids are likely to enjoy, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is the adults who are choosing.

And those adults might well have a personal stake in what they choose.

3) I have written books with young protagonists that have been marketed as YA.

Girl Reading WordweaversMy heroine in the Worldweavers books starts out aged 14, and is 16 at the conclusion of the final book. In The Were Chronicles my POV characters are 14, 17, 19+. Both series deal with serious, some life changing, situations.

The Worldweavers books have been marketed as for “12 and up”, and The Were Chronicles for possibly slightly older teens – but these are books that have been read by 9-year-olds at one end and by grown ups of a range of ages at the other, and enjoyed by all of them according to reader responses that I am getting.

And here’s the truth of it: these were books WRITTEN for all of those readers. A good story is a good story and can be enjoyed by anyone from 10 to 100. A reader will find their own level, a place where they are reading things they understand and enjoy. This means that I am perfectly fine with younger readers reaching for a slightly “older” book, and I am also more than happy when a reader who is beyond – often well beyond – the “YA” criterion reaches for the same book.

Those readers are likely getting different things from the same novel, and that is absolutely fine. But just because something is flung out there with a warning label that screams “YA LIT AHEAD! PICK UP AT YOUR OWN PERIL!” is absolutely no reason for ANY reader to avoid it, whether for being “too young” or “too old” for it.

Readers, hearken! My books are for all of you. As one reviewer so perfectly put it, my books are for everyone who is or might once have been a child. Read freely, regret
nothing, and choose to read whatever you wish without knuckling under to the stigma of reading “outside of your age range”, of what has always been no more than a marketing label designed to sell more books.

Read. All the stories are yours.

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Another blogger had some interesting thoughts on this. Austin Hackney wrote:

“…an article I recently came across in Slate vilifying adults who read young adult or children’s literature rubbed me up so far the wrong way that I simply had to write this if only to let off some steam. And mix up a few metaphors while I’m at it. I’m not going to link to it. If you want to read it you can find it for yourself…

“No matter what the self-appointed cultural guardians at Slate may think, the facts speak for themselves. All the recent surveys I’ve been able to find suggest that well over 55% of the readership for YA literature is made up of people 18 years old and up. Namely, adults..quite frankly some of the very best writing in English today is categorized by the publishing houses and the booksellers as being for the young adult market.”

Read more at Austin Hackney blog HERE

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The page 69 quiz

Reader selecting book photoCan you identify the classic book from a single paragraph? 69 is a big number: in 1969, man walked on the moon. Bryan Adams had a summer. At the age of 69, Marshall McLuhan died, leaving behind his theory of how to choose a book: if you like what’s on page 69, chances are you’ll like the rest too. Can you pick these page 69s?

From what book did this passage come?
“Boleyn is still smiling. He is a poised, slender man; it takes the effort of every tuned muscle in his body to keep the smile on his face.”

I personally liked this item because I never could figure out why the book in question worked. But it did. BTW, I won’t tell you how I did on the rest of the quiz.

Take the quiz at The Guardian website HERE

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Quote of the Day
Book Reviews poster

Once upon a time, at the bright dawn of my career, I had an international megahit. A few other books went international, but nothing like the Blessed Book, “The Secrets of Jin Shei”. I’ve written LOTS more books since then and some of them – just as worthy – have been lagging in the review department. If you read them, and liked them, mosey on to Amazon and tell the world…

~~~~~

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Oy vey! Where Yiddish was born

Ashkenazi Jews, Yiddish speakers photoDid Ashkenazi Jews descend from ancient Turkey? Everett Historical/Shutterstock

Yiddish – which consists of Hebrew, German, Slavic elements and is written in Aramaic – has been spoken for centuries, but its origins have been murky.

Now an article at TheCoversation.com tells us that it was developed by Iranian and Ashkenazic Jews as they traded on the Silk Road from the first centuries AD to around the 9th century when they arrived in Slavic lands.

Putting together evidence from linguistic, history, and genetics,” the article says, “we concluded that the ancient Ashkenazic Jews were merchants who developed Yiddish as a secret language – with 251 words for “buy” and “sell” – to maintain their monopoly. They were known to trade in everything from fur to slaves.”

Read the whole fascinating article at TheConversation.com HERE

~~~~~Muhammad Ali

How he wanted to be remembered

In an interview , David Frost asked Muhammad Ali “What would you like people to think about you when you’ve gone?” He answered:

I’d like for them to say
He took a few cups of love.
He took one tablespoon of patience,
One teaspoon of generosity,
One pint of kindness.
He took one quart of laughter,
One pinch of concern.
And then, he mixed willingness with happiness.
He added lots of faith,
And he stirred it up well.
Then he spread it over a span of a lifetime,
And he served it to each and every deserving person he met.

Read other quotes from a beautiful man at RawStory.com HERE

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These icons should be applied to ALL fiction not just fanficiton. They’re wonderful. I particularly love the “apparently edited by chimpanzees” one. Snarky and evil but oh funny…

Readers Beware chartFound at http://johndopp.com/

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Quote of the Day

Culinary suggestion bookstore chalkboard

Books & Books (Cayman) dishes up creative culinary bookish suggestion

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Which one first?

I’ve been writing all my life, producing my first poem, about a broken alarm clock, when I was five — don’t ask, I have no idea.

I’ve been at it full-time since I was married 16 years ago (no, I don’t think there is a connection) and have written more than a score of books, most of them fiction, and most of them fantasy. When I was recently asked by someone unfamiar with my books which of them to start with, I gave the question some serious consideration and came up with a guide for other readers new to my work.

The worlds of Alma Alexander.

IF YOU LIKE HISTORICAL FANTASY…

You might start with “The Secrets of Jin-shei“, my most successful novel about an imperial China that never was and a remarkable sisterhood. It has been published in 13 languages, so far. After reading that book, you might want to go on to “Embers of Heaven“, a novel set in the same world 400 years later.

Or you could start with my newest novel, “Empress“, a love story set in an alternative Byzantine Empire that is loosely based on the historical figures of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. “Empress” is a standalone so if you want to start there you can – however if you do pick up the other two I really do think they belong in THAT order. Just saying.

IF YOU”RE MISSING NOVELS A LA HARRY POTTER…

Than you might start with my young adult fantasy series, Worldweavers, something that has been called an antidote to HP withdrawal. My elevator pitch for the series is: “The girl who couldn’t do magic grows up to be the greatest mage of all time.”

In order, the four books of the series are: “Gift of the Unmage”, “Spellspam”, “Cybermage” and “Dawn of magic”.

And yes this IS a series, and the order is important And also, it’s marketed as YA but as with all my works it’s also for not-so-YA readers who like a decent story.

IF YOU WANT TO TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE BEST BOOKS I THINK I HAVE EVER WRITTEN…

Try The Were Chronicles, a young adult series that follows young shapeshifters forced to walk a tightrope through a web of peril and lies as their world disintegrates around them.

The three books in the series are “Random”, “Wolf”, and “Shifter”. And they really should be read in that order.

IF YOU WANT A CONTEMPORARY FANTASY …

What if you had married someone else? Had taken that job? Been born a man? if you were given a chance to live a different life, would you take it?

That is the question posed by “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”. One critic found the ending “…haunting. I still think about it.”

IF YOU WANT A FUNNY METAPHYSICAL SCIENCE FICTION STAND-ALONE…

Try AbductiCon, a novel that Hugo award winner Robert J. Sawyer calls “a fast-paced and laugh-out-loud funny treat for SF fans everywhere.”

IF YOU WANT HIGH FANTASY…

“Hidden Queen” and “Changer of Days” are your books. They’re harder to get now but worth the effort.

AND IF YOU LIKE SHORT STORIES…

If you have an e-reader and want some short stories to start with, you can go with “Weight of Worlds“.

You can find them all at my page on Amazon HERE

And please leave reviews!

~~~~~
We are living in the future

One of these days we will just have to come to terms that we ARE already living in the future we have always been reading about.

In the ear translator photoI needed information the other day about the phase of the moon on a specific night more than a hundred years ago. I googled the date+phase of moon and had the information instantaneously.

Now I discover that I will soon be able to stick a device in my year that will automatically translate a foreign language into English. Shades of the Babelfish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Our sense of wonder is getting frayed by everyday miracles.

 

Read the whole story HERE

~~~~~
At Adweek, Maryann Yin gives us

Lengthy Books: INFOGRAPHIC

What’s the longest book you have ever read? The team at Cartridge Discount created an infographic examining “Famous Literature: Words by Numbers.”long books infographic

See the whole infographic HERE

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Quote of the DayAlma poster

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You read it WHERE?

‘Reading Proust on My Cellphone’

No, not me! It was Sarah Boxer and she writes about the experience in The Atlantic:

Proust at 20 photo

“When I tell people this, they look at me like I have drowned a kitten…Reading Proust on my cellphone was, I have to say, like no other reading experience I’ve had before or since. It was magical and—dare I say it?—Proustian in a very peculiar way…

“Your cellphone screen is like a tiny glass-bottomed boat moving slowly over a vast and glowing ocean of words in the night. There is no shore. There is nothing beyond the words in front of you. It’s a voyage for one in the nighttime. Pure romance.”

.             ..Marcel Proust at about 20 (Corbis)

 

Read the whole delightful essay at TheAtlantic.com HERE

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While I’m not as…uh, grandiloquent?…as Proust, I do write same long novels and my writing is often described as “lush.” A reviewer at Library Thing puts my latest novel, ‘Empress’, in with books she labels “scrumptious.” I rather like that.

The reviewer adds, rather unexpectedly, that “I felt as if I were taken back in time to a place that was as political and as cut-throat, but hopefully we’re not as bloody, as today’s Washington D.C.”

My novel is set in alternative world that’s based on the Byzantine Empire. I’ll leave the implications of the comparison to today’s Washington to my readers to sort out.

(Buy your copy of ‘Empress’ on Amazon HERE)

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For people who have trouble finding the time, The Reading Room offers:

Tips on How to Fit as Much Reading Into Your Day as Possible

One suggestion is audio books, something my husband has embraced as a way of making exercise and housework bearable.

Another suggestion is reading with a companion:
Shared Reading Kitten asleep on bookImage courtesy of http://bit.ly/27wRVWi.

Read more suggestions at The Reading Room HERE

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Portland Silent Reading Party photo

The Portland Silent Reading Party in action:

Reading with companions, even other humans, can indeed be very rewarding.

At BookRiot, Jeff O’Neal tells us how to:

Host a Silent Reading Party in 7 Easy Steps

Read more at The BookRiot HERE

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Then, of course, there is the matter of reading in book clubs. In the New York Times, Jennifer Miller tells us that

Men Have Book Clubs, Too

and writes about The Man Book Club in Marin County, Calif. that is going into its ninth year.

It has 16 members, a number of whom are lawyers and engineers in their mid-50s. Each month, the host must prepare a meal appropriate to the book under discussion. There was an eight-course French supper to accompany Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” and a meal of refined comfort food presented on TV trays for Bill Bryson’s 1950s-era memoir, “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.”

Read more about the group in the New York Times HERE

~~~~~
Quote of the DayFiction Truth illustration

I usually express that sentiment a little more politely, but hell yes!

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Sisterhood

Several years ago I wrote ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei‘, a novel about sisterhood that was embraced by readers all over the world and received some astonishing critical attention.

The Secrets of Jin-shei cover“Combine ‘The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’ with ‘The Joy Luck Club,’ add elements of ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,’ and you have this astonishing novel.” ~ China Books

“This evocative novel is sure to be popular with fans of Amy Tan, Gail Tsukiyama, and even Marion Zimmer Bradley,” … a perfect genre-buster… highly recommended.” ~ Library Journal

(It’s still available and you can buy it HERE)

It comes to mind now because of a story in Flavorwire by Emily Temple

25 Fascinating Female Friendships in Literature

“It’s amazing to me how rare it still is to find complex female friendships in literature for adults (YA has it a little more locked), and even the whiff of a good one can send me straight to the bookstore,” she says. “In case you’ve been having the same feeling, here are 25 books that investigate female friendship in one form or another. More please.”Sisterhood montage

If anyone wants to suggest ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’… Well, she did ask.

You can see her selections at Flavorwire HERE

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Some time ago, Katherine Brooks offered at the Huffington Post

12 Books That Will Lift You Up When You Are Down
Uplifting Books montage

Everyone need a pick-me-up now and then, so wander over to Huffpost and check out her selections HERE

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Quote of the Day

Bookshops and pubs, together with post offices and schools, are the four pillars upon which a local community is built and to my mind no fragile friendship built online can compete.” ~ Author Richard Watson

…of course, I don’t entirely agree. Friendships I built online are anything but fragile – some have lasted decades, one has morphed into marriage. Bookshops and pubs and schools and post offices are good, though. There’s nothing like an educated human reading a book over a nice drink in a friendly local with a check that the post office just delivered (or a letter from one of those distant friends) in their pocket….

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Mea culpa

Running late

For reasons too boring to elaborate on, I’m running behind on this week’s blog entries. Please bear with me.I’ll be back on schedule shortly.

Meanwhile…

Embers of Heaven coverAn “Embers of Heaven” audio book is apparently imminent, the first audio version of anything I’ve ever done

I was asked how to pronounce some of the more, ahem, interesting names, but other than that, I can’t tell you much about it yet as I haven’t heard it myself. For other editions of my books, I have always got a “proof” pass, but I won’t hear this one before y’all do.

But it’ll be out there. Soon. I am told. Just thought I’d let you know if you wanted to keep an, um, ear out. And if you hear it before I do, let me know what you think.

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At Adweek, Maryann Yin reports on

‘Fake Book Covers on the Subway’ Sequel Video Goes ViralFake Covers video stillFor many bibliophiles, traveling by public transportation allows free time to enjoy a good book. Two comedians, Scott Rogowsky and Akilah Hughes acted out this ritual with a humorous twist. The still from the videoo (above) shows one of the covers. The video also offers glimpses of the hilarious reactions from their fellow subway commuters.

See the video at Adweek HERE

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A reader demands action!

A New Zealand friend just sent me a note:

I thought I should tell you, I finally talked my youngest into reading ‘Random’ last night. This morning – at 6.45 – she burst into my bedroom and yelled “I need ‘Wolf’, now!”

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‘Random’ and ‘Wolf’, the first two books of my The Were Chronicles, feature one of the best characters I have ever worked with, Mal, the angry, rebellious and complex teenager who grows into a man who changes his world beyond understanding.

I was thinking of Mal and Thea, the girl in my YA series Worldweavers series who couldn’t do magic and then grows up to become the greatest mage of all time when I was reading this story

10 Great Teens In Contemporary Fiction

by Jonathan Lee at Electric Lit.

Lee offers some interesting characters in novels and short stories, such as Addy in ‘Dare Me‘ by Megan Abbott. and the unnamed narrator in ‘Grotesque‘ by Natsuo Kirino.

Check out Lee’s picks at Electric Lit HERE

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‘Judy Blume changed my life’

At LitHub, Lily King tells how Judy Blume got her through her parents’ divorceJudy Blume

(As told to Bethanne Patrick)

“The book that changed my life was ‘It’s Not the End of the World’…It helped me process my parents’ divorce. It was 1973 (and) even though the circumstances were very different between my parents and Karen’s in the novel, reading her story made me feel that I had a friend going through this, experiencing her family coming to an end.”

Read the whole story at Lit Hub HERE

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IMAGINE THAT

Digital reading driven by older women

Research carried out for the ebook retailer Kobo finds three quarters of the most active digital readers are women over 45.

Read the whole story at The Guardian HERE

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Quote of the DayDonna Tartt Quote poster

As every author knows too well.

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