Sex? You can’t say that!

We just don’t know how to call a spade a spade.

When The Toast did a story about how Hollywood used euphemisms for people having sex in early movies, they headlined it:

Code Words For ‘Sexually Active’ In Classic Films

Theda BaraAre you talking about people actually having sex? They screw? My God, you can’t say that! If you insist on talking about it, at least call it “sexually active.”

OK, OK. So exactly what words or phrases did  Hollywood use for this never-to-be-named act?

How about:

A gal who knows how to use a revolving door

A man with a downtown name

An elevator friendship

and, my favorite

A trolley orchid

See ALL the euphemisms HERE

I recently wrote about some of my favorite bookstores (HERE) but as far as I know, none of them has ever been featured in a book. However at Off the Shelf, Emma Volk has discovered:

11 Delightful Tales Set in Bookstores!

For example:
The Bookstore coverThe Bookstore: by Deborah Meyler

A young, pregnant woman finds a chance at salvation when she gets a job in a shabby Manhattan bookstore after her boyfriend dumps her.

The colorful and quirky people who call the bookstore home form an unlikely family. This witty debut is a stirring celebration of books and the people who sell, read, and love them.



See the other 10 books HERE

I became a librarian because talking about books is one of the only things I like as much as reading them,” Amy McLay Paterson writes in a delightful essay at Vox entitled:

‘I read 164 books in 2015 and here’s what I learned’

She notes that “Reading is amazing; it shouldn’t be a chore, and when it became one, I stopped doing it.” And then reports that one of the things she learned was…

Harper Lee booksJoe Raedle/Getty Images

Go Set a Watchman was an infuriating, mediocre book, its main interest lying in its relation to To Kill a Mockingbird and the ethical question of whether it should have been published at all (it shouldn’t).

Read the whole essay HERE


I just did a quick back-of-the envelope calculation. Words published in 2015: three novels for a total of 260,000 words. Other published words — short stories, blogage, etc. — add at least another 10-20K to that. So let’s call it 285,000 words.

Words to be published in 2016, so far, two novels, 290,000. I BEAT LAST YEAR ALREADY without another WORD added. But there will be more, of course.

StarTrek StampPost office to celebrate 50th Anniversary with Star Trek stamps

Quote of the Day
Dog at computerAnd so endeth the first lesson.

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Up to a challenge?

Alma Alexander's Reading Challenge

I’ve seen several reading lists floating around, most of specific titles, a few consisting of interesting categories…and not so interesting categories.

An example of the latter is “a book by or about a celebrity”, something that should not be on anyone’s bucket list. You know the best definition of a celebrity? Someone who is famous for being famous. God knows we see enough of celebrities on the internet and the TV why would you want to throw good money at them by buying a book that some poor schmoe of a ghostwriter probably wrote for them in the first place?

But I do have a few reading suggestions:

A childhood favorite: Let’s start with a bit of nostalgia. A warning, though, rereading these things can be devastating when you discover that some things don’t match up to your glowing childhood memories of them.

A classic: One you have already read, or one you missed. If you’re rereading it, I guarantee you will see it differently this time.

A recent NYT bestseller: Does it match up to the hype?

A book that’s the first thing to catch your eye when you walk into a bookstore.

A graphic novel.

A YA book by a writer you haven’t heard of before.

A historical novel: Pick your own time period and feel free to grade the author’s research.

A space opera.

A fat fantasy: There are more of these out there than just Game of Thrones. Go LOOK.

A book by a writer you personally know or have heard of through social media.

A book about a culture you are unfamiliar with.

A travel book.

A memoir or an autobiography, and NOT a celebrity’s.

A book of poetry.

A foreign writer’s book which has been translated into English.

A book from a “best of” list in a genre of your choice.

A book that is about a protagonist different than you — different gender, different race, different culture, different sexuality, etc. — which you will read with a truly open mind.

A book about animals.

A non-fiction book about an important issue, social, political, environmental, doesn’t matter – something that affects the world you live in. Educate yourself.

A book you need to cover with brown paper in order to take it out in public.

A book that raises an issue that makes you uncomfortable, or asks a question you may never have quite articulated to yourself.

A book which pays tribute to the senses other than just sight – i.e. a book about music, about food, about perfumes…

A book about the future.

A book set in Europe.

A book set in Asia.

A book set in South America.

For American readers – a book set in a different part of the USA than the one you know/live in.

A book about loss.

A book that you’ve seen made into a movie but have never read the actual book before.

A book that falls under the umbrella of ‘magical realism’.

Enough for you to start with? Happy 2016. Happy reading.

She lived her life in one room

Julian of NorwichA statue of Julian of Norwich – (Image: rocketjohn/Wikimedia)

From the 12th to the 16th centuries, a few hundred people in England called anchorites, mostly women, chose to live their lives shut up in a room attached to a church, Sarah Laskow writes in Atlas Obscura. One of them, Julian of Norwich, wrote the first published book by a woman in all of English literature.

Although they had just two or three small windows letting in a sliver of the outside world, anchorites were influential.

Julian’s fame came in part from her mystic visions that she described in a book, “Revelations of Divine Love“, in which she describes the sixteen visions she had. One of the most often-cited parts is her vision of God with all of creation:

“And in this vision he also showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed to me, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind’s eye and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And the answer came in a general way, like this: ‘It is all that is made.'”

Read the whole story HERE

Quote of the Day

Easy Reading Hard Writing posterAnd that’s the absolute truth!

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Back to the magic

So then. Back to the future… back to the past… back to the original science fiction fairy tale which shaped so many lives.

For the record, this being one of those moments when people want to know “Do you remember where you were when…”, I do.

I remember the precise cinema where I first saw Star Wars.

The original Star Wars. The one where Princess Leia was a baby-faced teenager, Luke was “too short for a stormtrooper”, Han and Chewie stole the show and everyone’s hearts, R2D2 and C-3PO perfected electronic bickering, and Darth Vader first *breathed*. The one where Yoda was still in the future, and Obi-Wan Kenobi was the only hope.

Original Star Wars posterI remember walking in through an entrance flanked by two larger-than-life cardboard cutout figures of stormtroopers, I remember sitting back in my cinema chair, I remember… oh… the moment of that opening fanfare, and the screed of writing unfurling into the stars, and then the slow pan downwards, followed by that endless shot of the star destroyer just coming on and on and on and on and breathtakingly on seemingly forever.

I remember that movie very well. I must have gone back to see it five times. I knew it so well that when some time later, at a showing at my University in my freshman year, I was
basically sitting there and speaking the dialogue of the movie with the characters, complete with correct intonation – I was ALMOST able to quote Artoo. It’s how I got a boyfriend, because one of the guys in the group we had gone to see the movie with eventually ended up being far more fascinated by this eldritch girl sitting next to him and quoting the entire movie more or less verbatim from memory than he was by the movie he had gone there to watch.

Oh hell yeah I remember all of that.

I remember growing up a little more and going to see “Empire”, and then the resolution of it all in “Return of the Jedi” The revelations. The mythopoeic arc, the fairy tale. The happy ending (and yes, so shoot me, I LOVED that sitlly soppy Ewok celebration at the end of the original “Return of the Jedi. So there. Yub Nub to you too.)

And then I grew up a little more, and Lucas decided to tell the backstory of Darth Vader.

By THIS stage, understand, I was a writer. I had stories of my own swirling in my head. But nothing I ever twisted and embroidered in terms of the story of Darth Vader – the Anakin Skywalker that was – prepared me for the massive catastrophe that the “prequel” movies were.

I went to see the first one and I was practically speechless with outrage. My husband flatly refused to go and see the others. I went. Because I needed to see that opening screen in theaters. Because I needed the closure. And I walked away shot full of cynicism and disillusionment at what had been done to the story,at the story that had been so wasted. I knew one thing for certain – Lucas couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag and very specifically if he ever feels the urge to write a romantic scene again he should go and lie down in a dark room until the urge goes away.

Everything about those next three movies ended up being messed up, or weird, or ludicrous. There was a point beyond which the willing suspension of disbelief just cannot be taken, and those movies were it for me. I carefully try to forget even what little I can remember from those films. They. Do. Not. Exist.

And then the world turned some more, and the rumors started… and then the rumours became true… and then it was a matter of waiting. And three days before Christmas of 2015, the waiting came to an end.

Han Solo jacket artHan Solo’s Cockpit Jacket, Glyn Dillon – Star Wars concept art from io9

In a packed movie theater, I sat down to watch Episode Vii. It was called “The Force Awakens”… but would it? Would this wake up the beautiful thing that had been rendered so utterly comatose by what had gone on in the interim…?

And the music exploded from the speakers. And the golden words began to spin tinto the stars. And then we were off.

It started, perhaps, a little iffily – yes this was Star WARS and it had always been big bloody mayhem – but OK I could sit through the opening mayhem scenes – they set up some of the characters. I sat there with a grin plastered all over my face because what I was watching was an old friend.

All the things that had made that first Star Wars experience such a seminal one.

Droidtalk (oh, BB-8 is a sweethart. I want one.). Snappy dialogue. Good versus evil. Light sabers. Han and Chewie. Han and Leia (oh GOD, Han and Leia. That reunion.That inimitable quick back-and-forth banter) Jedi mind tricks. The Falcon. As Han put it, “It is true. All of it.” It was all true after all, and it was all I could do not to dance in the aisle.

The new things.

Rey. Finn. The aforementioned BB-8. Maz, the new Yoda. Kylo Ren.

The grand things that reached out and tore at you.

Leia… *knowing*. Han’s caress of his son’s face. The moment when Luke turned back from the sea to face yet another destiny (my but that callow lad from the original Star Wars has grown up into something…bigger, nobler, more tragic. And at least they got rid of that catastrophic haircut.)

All the promise of things to come. Because I want to see this movie again. And I want the next one, now.

Oh, sure, there are plot holes here – some of them you could ram a stardestroyer through if you really wanted to pick at the nits and at the fabric. Some day I might even pick at them. Not tonight, Not now.

I don’t think I will be saying anything that people don’t already know when I say that Han Solo is – always was – the heart of this story. I know half the world has seen the movie already and it isn’t really much of a spoiler any more – and in any event I knew this storyline before I went in and all I can say is thank GOD I did  because if I hadn’t it would have gone hard – but the legacy of being that heart always would have been a hard thing to carry.

Let me just say that I am convinced that Harrison Ford understands this – and for him – for that character – it IS all true. His story goes where it has to go, and he offers it all up, and with him in the middle of it all the story of “The Force Awakens” flies like that indestructible and improbably agile ship that he has made synonymous with his name.

Rey may be the bright new star of the franchise, Finn may be a brilliant addition to the “family”, Kylo Ren might well grow up out of that slender black clad frame into a true inheritor of Vader’s mantle… but …

But Han, Han and Leia, they are the beating heart of it all. They are a huge part of why we loved it all in the first place. And for the gift they bring to this movie – for being allowed to have lived, and loved, and lost, and aged, just like the rest of us, the young ones who were young when they were young and lived our own lives for all these intervening years, for being permitted to be… well… as Han said, “true” … for all of that,

I want to send out into the universe a deep and heartfelt thanks. They at once brought back to me the bright memory of the starry-eyed  child I once was, and at the same moment they looked into my eyes – adult to adult – with understanding and with empathy and their presence, the things they had endured in their own story-lives, validated the lives we had all been living while we waited for them to return.

I need to see this movie again. I need to memorize it, love it, like I once did to another, a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

Thank you, to all who had a hand in this  You gave me back something precious, something whose loss I was barely able to acknowledge, something that I could hardly even mourn – but it’s back. You took me back to the wonder.

Thank you.

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Best tree ever?

Bustle picks:

14 Of The Best Christmas Trees Made Of Books

Or to put it another way, books that turn back into trees, if only for the season. I particularly love this one.

Bookshelf TreeSee all the book trees HERE

I thought that I had written only one science fiction novel in my career, but an Amazon review of The Were Chronicles trilogy by one of my college professors suggests it might be four.

“This is a rare entity, a werewolf book that is science fiction and not fantasy and the molecular biology is as good as it gets in SF. Read it, you will enjoy it.” ~ Professor Ralph Kirby

Hey, when the mentor who helped teach you all you know about a subject tells you that you did well at presenting it, that’s GOLD. Professor Kirby presided over my MSc in Molecular Biology. What I know, I was taught in his orbit. When he gives me a gold star for my science, I’ll wear it with pride.

“Minimalism is overrated”

From tiny homes to KonMari (the decluttering manifesto); from living with only 50 things or 100 things, the world has been abuzz about minimalism for the last five years, Starre Vartan writes for MNN. But when it comes to books, she says, minimalism is overrated.
Home Of BooksA home full of books creates opportunities for creativity and exposure. (Photo: Ollyy/Shutterstock)

Absolutely right…but I could use sure use some help organizing. Sigh.

Read the essay HERE

So you think that to be beautiful and photographable you have to be stick thin and prepubescent?

Well, forget Lolita. Day Styles offers us:

Top Female Supermodels Over 60
China Machado, 85Vogue
China Machado was the first non-Caucasian to appear on the cover of a major American fashion magazine, which was the February 1959 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. At age 21, she moved to Paris and started modeling for Hubert de Givenchy whom she worked for, for 3 years, becoming the highest paid runway model in Europe.

We all wish we could look this good at 70, 80, even 90 (yes NINETY) years old…but take a look at the bios, too. These are women who have LIVED as well as LOOKED GOOD. And I like to think that having those lives contributed to the luminous loveliness that some of them positively glow with. To be truly beautiful you have have something on the inside as well as just a glossy outside lacquer.

And I’m very glad to see that our world still has enough class and respect to give these women the respect they deserve. Take THAT. Hollywood – many actresses have reported that they are considered “too old” at 37. Take a look at these faces and think again…

See all the stunning older models HERE

Quote of the Day

For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas.”
~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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5 Gifts for a writer

Yes there are dozens of things you can throw at writers. They’ll always find a use for notebooks, they’ll love a fancy pen (even if many don’t write with one that often any more), and since writers are all readers, a gift card to a local bookstore would go down like a treat.

But there are… other things. Far more valuable, even though they are intangible and not something solid you can wrap and put underneath a tree. But greatly, greatly appreciated, every time. Ask any writer.

Five gifts for the writer you love this Christmas

1. Visibility

It’s been said that the worst enemy of a writer isn’t plagiarism, it’s oblivion. Do you love a book? Take a picture of it, post it on your social media. Have it in your hand on the subway. Ask for it in a bookstore. Keep the writer’s name in circulation. The more you do, the more people might hear, recognize, go, “Oh, that one. I might try that one…” Give the gift of RECOGNITION.

2. Reviews and recommendations

Follows on from above. Give a book you loved a review – on Amazon, on Goodreads, on Library Thing, on your own blog, or all of the above.

Talk about it to your friends. Tell the world. This is the fabled Word Of Mouth, and it is a treasure beyond price. Every writer is grateful for it because it is pure reader grace, and the genuine article is powerful, and impossible to ‘fake’. Sincere reader appreciation, spread out there for others to see and act upon, is something that is very special to every writer.

Trust me, hearing “I heard about you from a friend, (s)he raves about your work..” is a gift that will warm the cockles of any writer’s heart at ANY time of the year. But right
now, it’s Christmas. This is a gift you can give freely, and give often – and you will make a writer’s day, their week, their YEAR. Talk about books with your friends. Tell them about thei things you’ve read that you liked, ask about their favorites. Talk about a book that helped you in a difficult moment with someone who might be sharing that experience and might find the book special too.

Share. Share share share. Tell the world that you love reading, and what you’ve
recently read that lit up your world.

3. Something tangible – Kickstarters and Patreon.

If you still want something tangible, something that you can actually QUANTIFY, you can go and help a writer friend with something concrete, these days it’s easier than ever.

Support their Kickstarter campaign which is trying to raise money for a new work, a better cover, or a collaborative effort. Find out if your author has a Patreon page, and commit to $2-$5 a month – even if just for a year – to help them with a particular project, or a series they’re trying to get off the ground, or their research, or even just to help feed their feline
companions while the creator is creating. Trust me. It all helps.

4. Direct appreciation

Read a book and loved it? Send the author a note and tell her so.

Writer AloneWriting is a solitary occupation and it is sometimes a very lonely existence. Once our babies leave us and are out there in the wild we know nothing more about their travails. A note from a reader who found one of our books and loved it is a lift to our spirits. And it really helps to keep us writing.

If you’re an artist and feel inspired… well, when I’ve seen fan art of my work, it’s been a revelation and a joy. It’s AWESOME to see the images one’s words have created in someone else’s mind.

Most writers are easy to contact these days via their website or blog. If not, a more traditional note (and man, these days getting a Real Letter in the mail is a treat and a half!) sent through their agent or publisher will reach them. Some of them might even write back to you.

5. Inspiration

Most intangible and ephemeral of all but believe me – it matters. Be out there, be awesome, be readers. Let the writers see that there are people out there who are eager and waiting for new stories. Speak out about how much you love reading. Talk about how a particular book has inspired you, or helped you understand or cope or transcend a difficult time. Inspire everyone who writes to be more, to be better, to rise to meeting the needs and expectations you put out there. Tell us what you’ve found, tell us what you’re seeking, tell us about the things YOU think are important. Tell us about the things you want to see stories being told about. And then watch those stories get born.

He only wanted to help; instead, he started a war.

‘Shifter’, the stunning conclusion to The Were Chronicles, is here.

Shifter coverSaladin van Schalkwyk, better known as Chalky, was a chimera, both in name and deep into his DNA. He was created but he did not know for what purpose, and the secrets that surrounded his past were too well guarded for him to break through.

So when his friend Mal offered to take the chance of becoming a Lycan in order to infiltrate their ranks and find out the truth for him, he agreed to help. They both learned far more than they had bargained for. And one thing was clear.

Everything he thought he knew about himself was wrong.

Buy it at Amazon HERE


The 24 Best Science Fiction Books Of 2015

Abducticon coverMy first foray into science fiction, AbductiCon, didn’t make it to Buzzfeed’s list but I’m rather pleased with the initial reaction to it.

After all, Hugo winner Robert Sawyer called it “a hilarious and affectionate look at science-fiction conventions, a wondrous mashup of Galaxy Quest and Bimbos of the Death Sun, a fast-paced and laugh-out-loud funny treat for SF fans everywhere.”

And Lenora Rain-Lee Good said “”This is truly one of the funniest SF books I’ve read in years.”

Besides, it was a great deal of fun to write.

As far as Buzzfeed’s list goes, there is one book in particular, from Catherynne Valente, that I’ve been wanting to get to. Maybe I’ll hint it would be a good Christmas gift.

Radiance coverValente
Radiance is dreamy and strange in the best possible way. The whole universe of the book feels like sci-fi “B movies” of the early to mid 20th century, filled with imagery that will remind the reader of early Méliès films. This book is a departure from the other epic space opera fare you’ll find on the rest of this list, but it’s a refreshing change of pace.

See all the books HERE


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Quote of the DayThe Deal Breaker Quote

My fellow said “Books and Me.” So I married him.

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5 Gifts for Readers

Gift BooksPhoto:

1. Well, books, of course. Isn’t that the very definition of heaven for a bibliophile, opening up stacks of new books on Christmas morning?

Well, until they think of their teetering To Read stack – but still, new books, Christmas morning…

This also, now, includes electronic varieties. If they read on a tablet or on their phone, print out a card to stuff in their stockings and just say, “Check your ebooks…”

Books Coffee And A CookieBooks, coffee and a cookie, by mefotografie

2. Something to drink while reading. A special tea, or a tin of Ghirardelli’s drinking chocolate, or some good coffee.

Or maybe something to drink out OF. There are lots of booksy mugs and teacups out there. And what’s better than curling up with a hot beverage and a good book on the morning after Christmas day?
Alma Alexander BookmarksA reader will make do. There have been entire exhibitions made of stuff found inside books which had been used as a bookmark — grocery receipts, love letters, candy wrappers, straws, checks, feathers, silk ribbons…and once, memorably, a photo of a Kindle.

Wood Bookmarks……

Yes, readers will make do yes. But why not offer them something better. A real bookmark.

Indulge your whimsy. There are LOADS of fun ones out there — both from authors and works of art from creative designers.

Give them the opportunity to concentrate on what they’re reading and not on what they’ll use to mark their place when they have to stop



4. Kids special

Take them book shopping. Make it a day. Visit shops that sell new books, but also drop into used books emporia and if you find a copy of a book that enthralled you when you were their age, tell them about it, pass the gift on. Young readers haven’t had the time to accumulate their experiences, to completely hone their specific likes – they’re still seeking.
And use technolgy, as Mamiverse suggests, by giving kids a tablet stuffed with books.

Give children the gift of your time, and your reading wisdom, accrued over the years. Tell them about reading, and its joys. Make them approach those bookshelves with shining eyes and an eager spirit.

Don’t just give them the gift of a book on a single day of the year – give them the joy of ALL books, light the small fire of the love of reading, and you will have created a gift that will keep on giving long after you yourself are no longer present to add to the stories they will start to gather, and cherish, and treasure all their lives.

5. Is your book lover deprived of a good place to read and/or keep their books?

Build them a library. Well, OK, if that’s not practical there are other things you can do to help. Is there a bookshelf that you can offer – even just a tiny little one? If they appreciate whimsy, you could offer them this one.

Zany bookcaseGo home, bookcase. You’re drunk. This Dali-esque piece is made by Scott Blackwell, who would like you to know it comes with a free melting clock. (…)


If there is furniture in heaven, it will be these. Someplace to put away the books which breed on book lovers’ coffee tables and the floor beside their bed. Someplace they can wander past and run their fingers lovingly over favorite books’ spines.


Next time, I’ll suggest:
Five Things to Give Your Favorite Writer For Christmas


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Levalet JackhammerFrench Artist ‘Levalet’ Injects Humor into the Streets of Paris

Quote of the Day
Alma Quote 2~~~~~
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Favorite bookstore?

We all have our favorite bookstores, Mental Floss says and asked a number of authors to talk about theirs. (Story and link below)

And because I know that my blog master will be after me for “a sentence or two or three…” about MY personal favorite, let me beat him to the punch and tell you about it.

Well, actually, no, not “it”. How could anyone have just one?

This bookshop because of this reason, and that bookshop because of that reason, and the more of them I mention, the more I love them all.

But there was a tiny hole in the wall bookstore that catered to SF and Fantasy in Auckland, New Zealand, which didn’t last very long but which, during its mayfly-like tenure, was the place that brought me the gift of meeting Roger Zelazny.

There’s the under-the-escalator used bookstore tucked into this tiny place which, like a TARDIS, looked much bigger on the inside because of how many books they had managed to stuff in there.

Closer to home, there’s the two used book stores which played no small part in helping us make the decision to move to this town.

Michael’s Books is a warren of rooms with ancient warped floors and an entire chamber stuffed full of science fiction and fantasy – oh, the wonder barely contained in THAT Tardis of a room, so much bigger on the inside than it seems! And it has recent works, as well as WELL loved and barely-holding-it-together paperbacks of things published in the fifties, classic science fiction stuff at its best.

Henderson’s is more of a city, laid out in straight avenues bordered by floor to ceiling shelves in straight lines, and many’s the time I walked in there not really focused on what specifically I wanted but staggering out with $80+ worth of used books on truly fascinating and esoteric subjects, to be used as research material for the NEXT book I would write, a book whose very identity was still a nebulous ghost in the mind of my Muse.
Bookstore Novi SadThere’s the bookstore at Matica Srpska in Novi Sad, the town where I was born in what is now Serbia, which was a massive treasure house of literature, an archive of things published in Serbia which dated back maybe a couple of CENTURIES. On the street level, as you walked in, there was this magical bookstore where my grandfather would regularly take me. While he chatted to the people who worked there, all of whom he was acquainted with, I would happily wander off and sit in the stacks and get buried in some old hardcover which *smelled like book* and which was a gateway to a whole other world from the brink of which I would have to be unwillingly dragged, whining gently if not kicking and screaming, when it was time to go home – more often than not holding the book I had just been drowning in between my eager little hands and barely able to wait until I could get home and get re-buried in it.

FAVORITE bookstore? What’s that?

The proper question is, does it have books in it? I’m in.

Most of the other authors asked to comment, could not pick just one either. For example:

Elliott Bay Bookstore SeattleElliott Bay Bookstore / N i c o l a, Flickr —

SARAH VOWELL, author of ‘LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES’: “Country Bookshelf in my hometown of Bozeman, Montana, for bogarting my babysitting money throughout my formative years; Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.; Elliott Bay in Seattle; Powell’s in Portland, Oregon; and an honorable mention to Eslite in Taiwan for making book shopping second only to dumpling eating as Taipei’s favorite pastime.”

See the other authors selections HERE

The Off the Shelf Staff offers some Christmas presents that look good dressed in festive paper, but don’t really require wrapping.

11 Books on Our Holiday Wish Lists

“Books are obviously our favorite gift to receive, too, and our Off the Shelf staff has compiled a list of eleven titles we’d be thrilled to be gifted, whether tied up in a pretty bow or not. Happy holidays, and happy reading!”

Empress cover

They didn’t select my upcoming nearly 600-page epic novel, ‘Empress‘, a grand historical fantasy story inspired by Byzantium’s Justinian and Theodora.

But then how could they, it won’t be out until March

(though you can preorder it HERE)



They came up with some wonderful choices, for example:

The First Bad Man

The First Bad Man by Miranda July:

“July is an artist who is willing to share a world that is even stranger than what I experience in my fantasies. The characters in this novel use imagination as a tool for emotional healing and challenge readers to go beyond their comfort zones in a way that no novel I’ve read has done before.” —Erica


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Greenhouse HomeThis Couple Builds Greenhouse Around Their Home to Grow Food and Keep Warm Year Round

Hidden PictureIf you hold this antique book just right, you’ll see a hidden masterpiece

Quote of the Day
Book Inside Me

Which book is inside you?

Alma Alexander       My books       Email me
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