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Read-a-thon

This year I have joined Dewey’s Read-a-thon, a 24 hour slot to read! You don’t have to read the entire time, it’s just a day that is dedicated to reading. I’m hoping to get in at least six hours of reading today. It happens that I just yesterday found out about it and I had already told my daughter that I would go with her to take the kids to a Halloween costume giveaway from Gleaners and there’s lunch and crafts involved so that sounds like at least four hours! And who knows what else will happen later. I also intend to do some blogging.

Part of the read-a-thon is to provide occasional updates. I will be doing so on this blog post by updating it throughout the day. So my followers can ignore notifications of this post being published over and over again throughout the day.

It’s one in the morning and I want to get in at least an hour of reading before turning out the lights. I probably will not update until ten or so Pacific time. I’m currently reading an ARC copy of An American Family by Khizr Khan, which is a memoir.

Update 1: I read for an hour and got from 19% of the book to 38% before my eyes were too tired to go on. Then a half hour after I turned out the light, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep so I read a few blogs online and checked the message boards for NaNoWriMo. I ended up sleeping less than two hours and now I really need to sleep at least another hour. Hopefully another check in in a few hours and more progress to report on my book.

Update 2: This has not been a good day. It started yesterday. My sciatica came back. Not as horrible as in the past but bad enough so that I had to take a pain pill and a couple of muscle relaxants. That means I slept all afternoon. I just woke up around 8:30 this evening. I’ve taken my insulin and had something to eat and now I’m going to give reading another shot. With luck, I won’t fall asleep or have to take any more pain meds.

Update 3: Well, it’s eleven o’clock. I’m at about 51% in my book, which by the way, is a pretty interesting look at a Pakistani family immigrating to the United States in the 1970’s. They arrived so that the husband could attend Harvard Law School but had to spend some time working to be able to afford the tuition. From the first chapter, I know that they ended up staying but so far, from the reading, I don’t know much past their arrival in Houston, Texas. So far, a good read. The plan is to read for a bit more, maybe until midnight then I’ll most likely need another pain pill because things are moving in that direction. I think I’m going to try to read for a substantial part of Sunday to make up for not reading enough on Saturday.

Update 4: All in all, before I got too tired to keep my eyes open, around 4 this morning, I had read up to 71% of the book. Almost done. I think I will finish it today then I need to write a review before I move on to the next book.

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Years ago, my son told me about a new kind of book. He was working for Amazon and they had just introduced their first e-reader. He knew I loved reading and I had trouble with my eyesight so he thought it would be a perfect fit for me. I looked at them online but at that time they were $300. That was way too much for my budget. Besides, I mostly bought my books used so having to pay even $10 for an e-book would be too much to feed my reading appetite so I passed. The following Christmas I found a box under the Christmas tree with a Kindle 2 inside of it. I was almost going to tell them to send it back because I thought it was too extravagant and I thought it would just sit there unused because of the price of the books, but I couldn’t disappoint them…the gift was from all three of the kids. They had also included a $25 gift card so I could get a couple of books. My son set it up for me and showed me how to shop in the Kindle Store. It was 2009 and one book I really wanted to read had just been released so I picked my first book, The Moral Compass by Ted Kennedy. When I finished that I bought The Help. After that, I mostly got free books or 99 cent books. I bought a couple of books by fellow bloggers, too, but mostly stuck with the cheap and free books.

This morning I opened gmail to find an email from Amazon, informing me that I have a new credit for ebooks. It’s my share of the settlement of the anti-trust lawsuit against Apple. So now I get to buy another $15 worth of books with this credit. I figured out the books that made me eligible for this credit were those first two purchases, and a couple of other less expensive books. It made me smile because that original gift of the Kindle I didn’t want six years ago is still giving me so much! Not only am I enjoying it (well I’m on Kindle number 3 because I upgraded a couple of times; I now read on the Kindle Voyage) but I’m also now going to get to read a title or two that I otherwise wouldn’t buy because of the price. Yay!

The #WeeklySmile is a weekly blog linkup hosted by Trent. Go check it out. Smile with us!

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Holly Kerr has written another engaging book, The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. Charlotte is a late 20’s young woman who, we discover a couple of chapters into the book, is a spy for a very top secret intelligence agency in Canada. She doesn’t even know she’s a spy!

Apparently, she agreed to have her memories wiped clean before going on a mission so that if she was captured, she would have nothing to divulge.  So she doesn’t know that she has been living with the man who is believed to be financing a counter agency of mercenary spies.

It’s fast paced. The entire 240-ish pages spans about 48 hours in Charlotte’s life…the weekend when she was told of her life as a spy then kidnapped by the counter spy agency then rescued then sent on a mission to free a fellow spy! Charlotte’s head is spinning, and so is that of the Reader…in a good way.

I truly enjoyed this one. It is smooth reading, well paced, and keeps the Reader on their toes to keep up with things. However, I will mention that there are considerable errors which should have been caught by a copy editor or even a proof reader. That doesn’t keep me from recommending it. Just be warned. I found a little over 30 errors where there were extra words that were not cleaned up during edits and/or words missing from a sentence. It didn’t keep me from liking the book, which is rare for me because I am usually a stickler for that sort of thing.

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Note: I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review.

 

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I awoke in the predawn hours today to hear the news on TV…Harper Lee had died at the age of 89. That’s a good age. It was said that she had been deaf and blind for at least the last five years. It was a matter of time. Hopefully, now no one will take advantage of her again. She wrote my all-time favorite novel. Next to To Kill A Mockingbird, nothing stands any here as good. If I had been given the choice to read only one book my entire life, it would be To Kill A Mockingbird. It is that good.

It’s a day to think about her and her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s a time to celebrate her work and the mark she has left on every person that has ever read her book. It’s a day to ask some questions. Why didn’t she ever write another novel? How close to autobiographical elements in her life were the events in the novel? What about Go Set A Watchman? Which Atticus was the true one? Does GSAW invalidate TKAM?

I won’t try to answer all of those questions here. I have my opinions and I’ve read a lot about her life and those around her, both in her childhood years and in her adulthood. As far as Go Set A Watchman, my worry is that it will influence people, especially schools, to not read To Kill A Mockingbird. That would be a crime, at least in my opinion. I will say that I’ve read that she was so traumatized by all of the publicity and criticism she got after TKAM that she didn’t ever want to put herself through that again.

I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.— Harper Lee, quoted in Newquist, 1964

I’ve also read that she was a perfectionist and had begun a couple of novels, including at least one non fiction book but put never finished them any of them because she was unhappy with her writing. That sounds like a perfectionist to me; like a writer, always second guessing herself.

Tonight, I will stream To Kill A Mockingbird and perhaps I will begin re-reading it and Go Set A Watchman. And I will think of that timid, talented woman that kept so many words inside of her…so many words that we would all love to have read. I will celebrate that she lived and wrote and left us Scout and Atticus and all those other people of Maycomb.

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wrinkle3

When I was teaching fifth grade in Glendale, California, I liked to use current writing that would appeal to the kids in my class who were mostly from immigrant families. However, most of this writing was not district approved.  Not because there was anything wrong with with it but because it was new and had not yet been reviewed by the school district or even “leveled”, so I was asked to use only materials provided by the district from our textbook room.

One book that I picked was A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  It was nearing the end of the year and I wanted something different from what we had read but I liked the fact that a family was featured in this book, with the young girl being the main character.  We hadn’t read any books in which the main character was a girl.  We hadn’t read any fantasy or science fiction.  So I checked to make sure it was leveled for 5th graders and that there were enough copies for everyone plus our two educational assistants and myself.  Perfect.  The numbers were all there and it was considered appropriate for 5th to 7th grade.

We began reading it and the kids really enjoyed it.  They had to read in it at home so they took the books home.  Two weeks after we began reading it, a very irate parent came in after school.  I knew who she was but had not had any run ins with her but she did have a reputation for being loud, abusive, and very confrontational.  I ushered her toward the front office where I could signal for an administrator to come to this discussion (that was the routine when parents confronted a teacher on school grounds).  Her problem was the book we were reading.  It was “demonic”, in her opinion.  The assistant principal asked what was demonic about it and she said she hadn’t read it but “just look at the cover; it’s evil; its’ the devil.” She wanted the whole class to stop reading it.  I suggested that we give her son a different book to read.  She said no. The very presence of the book in the classroom was evil.  And what did the administrator say?  Well, she should have said that the boy could read a different book.  She should have said that he could go to another classroom while the rest of the class read the book aloud.  And she should have been used to it because her son was also dismissed to wait outside the classroom during the flag salute and during any discussion of holidays and any school parties. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses and were used to being dismissed to another class.  But she insisted.  The administrator gave in.  She didn’t back me up.  She told me, in the presence of the mother, that I was to collect all the books and return them to the text book room and pick something else.

It wasn’t a formal banning.  In fact the book was approved.  It wasn’t a new book.  It was published 40 years earlier!  The entire class had to stop reading in the middle of the book and I had to pick something else that was not as interesting to the others and something that was a lot shorter because we had already spent two weeks reading this book and the school year was about to end.  And the school had set a precedent for allowing parents to come in and censor not only what their child was reading but what an entire class was reading.

Censorship takes many forms.  And while I agree that a parent has a right to object to what their child is reading if they think it is objectionable, I don’t think a parent has a right to interfere or censor what the entire class is reading or studying.

A Wrinkle In Time is still on the list of challenged books.  It has been challenged as being too Christian and as not being Christian enough. Go figure.

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I know a lot of non readers that think having to read is nothing short of going to hell.  I love reading.  Reading is like heaven to me  However, some of the books that I have read are responsible for sending me to hell!

This is Banned Books Week.  The American Library Association sponsors a number of activities to highlight the fact that banning books is censorship; that banning books restricts our freedom to read any book we choose.  I think almost every one of us has read a book that has been banned or challenged at some point. (Challenged books are books that a person or group of people tries to get banned.)  Many of the titles are or have at some point been required reading in school, be it primary, intermediate, secondary, or higher education.

The Bible has been on the Banned Books List.  How many of you were required to read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher In the Rye, The Giver, The Great Gatsby, Grapes of Wrath, 1984, Animal Farm, Catch 22, Call of the Wild?  All on the Banned Books List.  How many of you have chosen to read Lolita, Gone With the Wind, The Harry Potter series, The Color Purple, As I Lay Dying, A Clockwork Orange, Sophie’s Choice, or In Cold Blood? Yup, all Banned Books at one time or another.

Maybe you haven’t read any of these titles.  Maybe you don’t think any of these are any good.  I would actually agree that some of these aren’t the best books or just are not to my taste, however I would stand up and say that anyone that wants access to any book should have that access.  Governments should not be able to take that right away.  Schools should not be able to take that right away.  Churches should not be able to take that right away.  Or anyone else, with the exception of parents restricting access to their children who are too young or too sensitive for some of the topics covered in these books.

One of my favorite list of banned books is found on Goodreads. It’s called Books I’m Going To Hell For Reading. It lists 100 books  I’ve read about 48 of them.  Check the list.  I’m pretty sure you’ve read at least 25 from that list, at least you have if you’re in the USA or went to school in the USA.  Check it.

Celebrate Banned Books Week by reading a banned book.  There are a lot of them out there, unfortunately.

Later this week I’ll tell you about the time a parent challenged a book I was teaching in 5th grade…a district approved and district supplied book.

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introducingBLUE

Luther Siler

                   Luther M. Siler

Luther Stiler is a fellow blogger who blogs at InfiniteFreeTime. He is also a writer, teacher, husband, and father.  He lives in Northern Indiana with his wife and son and what he describes as an assortment of pets.  He writes about space gnomes and Mars.  Please read about his writing and his books then pass the link around to your friends by sharing through your social media avenues!  Leave a comment for me or Luther if you so desire; they are welcomed!

Luther On Luther
I like to write books that you pick up on the first day, read on the second, and reread on the fourth.  When I was a kid I was fanatical about rereading books that I loved over and over and over again– I have probably read the Lord of the Rings trilogy four or five dozen times– and while I love the work of many authors who write challenging, thought-provoking Works Of Immortal Literature, my number one goal as an author is to entertain.  I want my books read at a gulp, and I want you to lose sleep because you couldn’t put them down.  I like cinematic; I like action.  I’m not the author who carefully paints a picture of every detail and scene in my books because I don’t want to do anyone’s imagining for them, and I’d rather be remembered for a thrill-ride of a story than the life-altering sanctity of my prose.
I mean, hell, I write books about trips to Mars with a mad scientist and potty-mouthed gnomes with laser guns.  There is seriousness in my work, here and there– and my forthcoming Searching for Malumba (sometime in October, hopefully) is actually a nonfiction book about one of the few things in my life I do take seriously, which is my job as a teacher– but I need humor and excitement and fun more than I need to be taken seriously.  The back cover of my novelSkylights carries the single greatest quote about my work that I’ve ever gotten from anyone: “A perfect, fun summer read.”  That’s what I like to write.  It’s exactly the reaction that I wanted.  And hopefully I’ll get to keep writing many more of that kind of book.
Skylights

August 15, 2022: the Tycho, the most advanced interplanetary craft ever designed by the human race, launches from Earth on an expedition to Mars. The Tycho carries four passengers, soon to be the most famous people in human history.

February 19, 2023: The Tycho loses all communication with Earth while orbiting Mars. After weeks of determined attempts to reestablish contact, the Tycho is declared lost.

2027: Journalist Gabriel Southern receives a message from a mysterious caller: “Mars.” Ezekiel ben Zahav isn’t talking, but he wants Southern to accompany him for something– and he’s dangling enough money under his nose to make any amount of hardship worth it.SKYLIGHTS is the story of the second human expedition to Mars. Their mission: to find out what happened to the first.

SkylightsSkylights

The Benevolence Archives Vol. 1

Troll evictions! Dwarf pirates! Daring rescues! Angry gods! Impossible technology! Oversized bars! Pissed-off ogres! Disrespectful spaceships! All this and a mild disregard for proper wound treatment!

THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES, VOL. 1 is a novella-length collection of six short stories set in a common universe. Combining elements of space opera-style science fiction and high fantasy, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES tell the adventures of Brazel, Rhundi, and Grond, a gnome/halfogre team of smugglers.

THE PLANET IT’S FARTHEST FROM: A simple job in a saloon goes poorly for Brazel.
THE CLOSET: Brazel and Grond are hired to teach someone why gambling can be a bad idea.
YANK: Dwarven pirates. ‘Nuff said.
REMEMBER: Brazel and Grond are hired by one of the galaxy’s most powerful people for a suspiciously easy job.
THE CONTRACT: Rhundi tries to get through a simple business negotiation without anyone being shot.
THE SIGIL: Brazel and Grond encounter something horrifying on a frozen rock in the middle of nowhere.

Benevolence

The Benevolence Archives Vol. 1

The Sanctum Of the Sphere, Benevolence Archives Vol. 2

“Go rob that train.” Nice, normal. An everyday heist.

But nothing is ever normal for Brazel, Grond and Rhundi.

A simple act of motorized larceny quickly explodes into a galaxy-spanning adventure for the two thieves. Blade-wielding elves, a fast-moving global war, a secret outlaw space city, incomprehensible insectoids and one impossibly lucky human are just the start of their problems. And that’s before they learn that someone from Grond’s past has gotten the Benevolence involved…

What is happening on the ogrespace moon Khkk?

Who are the Noble Opposition?

And what is the secret of THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE?

Sanctum

The Sanctum Of the Sphere,

The Benevolence Archives Vol. 2

OR

The Sanctum Of the Sphere,

Benevolence Archives Vol. 2 Omnibus Edition

Luther’s email:  luthermsiler @ gmail.com

Luther’s Twitter account: @nfinitefreetime

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introducingBLUE

Melissa Barker-Simpson

Melissa Barker-Simpson

Today, help me welcome author and fellow blogger, Melissa Barker-Simpson.  I hope you enjoy reading about here and her books and that you take a look at her novels.

It’s lovely to be invited to Corina’s place to visit with you all. I’ve been blogging for two years now, and I’ve met some incredible people along the way. It’s a vital online community and, as a writer, it feels like my second home! There is so much to learn, so much to share and experience.

I’ve been writing since Junior School, which in the US I believe is classed as Elementary (first grade). I loved nothing more than creating new worlds and sharing my adventures with others. When I left school and went to college, I spent less time writing, and more time studying. I couldn’t decide on a career and so, after leaving full time education I held a number of jobs. Although I couldn’t seem to make anything stick, I did have a passion for language, which led to my interest in British Sign Language (BSL). I eventually became an interpreter, and have been interpreting for ten years now.

It’s a job I particularly enjoy because I get to explore different settings; police, theatre, community, education, medicine. It’s a lot of fun and, though it can be challenging at times, the variety suits my fickle nature! BSL is a beautiful, visual language, with a rich and complex grammatical structure, one that never ceases to amaze.

One of my most important roles in life though, is being a mother. I have two teenage daughters, who are a great source of joy.

I didn’t begin seriously writing again until 2005, a year after I lost my father. It was a really difficult time, and I escaped my grief by remembering the stories I shared with him in my youth. The characters never really went away, even when life got too busy, so when I let them back in, it became impossible to deny the part of myself I had supressed for so long.

There are a number of things I could talk about when it comes to my writing journey. I recently published The Fallen, which is my ninth novel, and the first in a series. It seems I have a penchant for writing series, and thanks to my busy mind, I’m unable to concentrate on one project at once.

My work is always character driven, and Maddison, the protagonist from The Fallen has her hooks in me at the moment. When I sit down to write, whether it is a short-story, or my next work in progress, she invariably muscles her way in!

It’s the reason that, as well as working on my latest novel in the Morgan and Fairchild series, I decided to venture into serialised fiction. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I love the idea of creating monthly episodes like a television series, and pulling those together to create a season. There are different ways to approach serialised writing, but I aim to have an overarching theme while solving individual story arcs during each episode.

The Collective is an offshoot of the Fractured series, so readers will be familiar with some of the characters. I’m sure Maddison will make an appearance or two. It is a lot of fun developing this group of supernatural creatures, and to explore more of the world I created.

At the beginning of this month I published The Contract, prequel to the Fractured, as an introduction. One of the main players is a god, Orion Reece, and he seems to be a popular character. So I decided to share a scene with you from The Fallen, which incorporates Maddison and Orion.

The Fallen.jpg

The Fallen

*Background: Maddison Wood is a hunter, and a witch. Her instincts draw her to the city; trouble is coming and she wants to meet it head on. Donovan is her partner in crime. She rescued him from a particularly brutal clan of demons, and now owns his contract.*

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Maddison groaned, hackles rising.

“What?”

She didn’t look Donovan’s way, her eyes were glued to the street, to the ball of light which glowed like a beacon of tightly controlled power. “Orion Reece,” she said through clenched teeth.

Am I supposed to know who that is?’ Donovan asked, his voice a deep rumble inside her mind.

She could feel his eyes on her, but she didn’t turn.

When Orion appeared, he did so with none of the arrogance she had come to expect, and, for some reason, the lack of drama unnerved her more than his presence. He was a god, one who enjoyed flaunting his superiority every chance he got. The pale blonde hair, hanging to his shoulders like fine silk, still shone as a testament to his power, and yet alarm bells were ringing in Maddison’s head. Something was definitely wrong with the picture.

“To what do we owe the pleasure?” she asked, her voice and gaze steady. She would not give him an inch.

“Come now, Woody.” His dark eyes flashed, the gold at the outer edges drawing her in. “You can do better than that.”

Woody?’ Donovan asked through their connection.

Long story,’ Maddison replied. She took a step towards Orion, delighted when Donovan followed suit.

“We haven’t been introduced,” Donovan said, extending his hand.

Orion threw back his head and laughed. “My dear boy, if you want to know more about me, all you have to do is ask.”

As a hympe, Donovan had a unique gift. It was empathy based, so if he opened himself up to the connection, he could learn anything through touch.

“I’ll forgive the discourtesy,” Orion continued. “Because I have you at a disadvantage.” His eyes grew cold. “I’m the reason your current owner stumbled upon your sorry excuse for a-”

“Nobody owns him,” Maddison said, stepping between them. “And you’re not the only reason he’s free.”

Orion raised his hand, eyes flashing with challenge. Maddison’s hair slithered towards him, the long braid dancing in the cool night air, like he was a regular snake charmer.

“Is that so?” he asked.

Maddison shot magic into the wayward locks and regained the advantage. She knew Orion used the trick to test her, to steal her control. Given that her hair was her weapon of choice, it was an effective reprimand.

What’s he talking about?’ Donovan asked.

He sent me to the Firmani Caves, or at least set it up so I would be in the right place at the right time.’

Donovan’s shudder was involuntary. The Firmani Caves were home to the Nrikabat demons, the original proprietors of his contract – those responsible for his torture and abuse.

“How did you know?” Donovan asked, staring wide-eyed at Orion. “Why would you care?”

“I don’t.” Orion’s tone was bored. “But I owed your father a favour.”

Don’t listen to him,’ Maddison said, touching Donovan with her mind. ‘Even if he’s telling the truth, he will use the information against you. I’ll find another way to learn his secrets.’

She turned her attention to Orion. Everything about him was designed to entice – the tall, sculptured body, strong jaw, sinful mouth; he was quite a package. “Can we just get this over with? Why don’t you tell us what you want?”

“Oh, how you wound me,” he said, placing a hand over his heart. “Can’t I have the simple desire to visit with an old friend?”

He was stalling, she realised. Taunting them purposely, perhaps hoping they would lose the trail. She could almost feel her instincts curling up in her gut, retreating into silence. “If you’re here to shoot the breeze, we can do that as we walk,” she said, starting to move past him.

Orion sidestepped, putting himself in her path. His strong jaw was set, lips pressed into a hard line. “You need to get as far away from here as possible,” he said, his voice low and urgent.

She blinked, genuinely surprised by the concern in his dark eyes. “Something’s coming, isn’t it?”

There was a long beat of silence. “You don’t want to get tangled up in this, Maddy.” He squinted, assessing her reaction. “Don’t force my hand.”

Donovan moved so he was shoulder to shoulder with Maddison. “That sounds like a threat.”

She almost smiled. Donovan had no idea who he was dealing with; either that or he had a death wish. Orion could squash him like a bug; though, granted, Donovan hadn’t been crushed yet.

“If he was going to do something, he’d have done it already,” she said. “He either can’t interfere, or the focused use of his power will give him away.” That was it. She knew it as soon as the words left her mouth. Why there had been no fanfare when he arrived, why the light of his power was subdued. “It’s big, isn’t it?” she said, more to herself than Orion, because she knew he wouldn’t answer.

I hope you enjoyed the snippet. Thanks again to Corina for inviting me, and to you all for reading.

Mel

LINKS

The Fallen

Author Website

Blog: http://www.mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com

Email: info@mbarkersimpson.co.uk

Twitter handle: @mbarkersimpson

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/melissabarkersimpson

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/mbarkersimpson

Changing Worlds 2

Changing Worlds

Fifth Watcher - Cover for Createspace

The Fifth WatcherHands_of_Evil_Cover_for_Kindle

Hands Of Evil

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Friday 56

I wanted to share from this book today but I haven’t gotten to 56% yet.  Almost there but not quite.  So I decided this quote was a really good one to share.  It appears at  40% on my Kindle:

“The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the one man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge ‘He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman,’ had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.”

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

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introducingBLUE

JANET CHRISTIAN

JANET CHRISTIAN

Janet Christian began her adventure in writing in second grade, with a book of fanciful poems about cats. She later became a professional technical writer, creating complex but boring computer manuals. To escape the drudgery of describing hardware circuits and software routines, she returned to writing fiction.  She served as 2003 President of the Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime in Austin, and became a published author in 2012..  She now also maintains a weekly blog at http://janetchristian.com.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

These days I live with Eric Marsh, my husband and best friend since 1989, on a 100 acre ranch in Lockhart, TX – 30 miles south of Austin. We have four goofy dogs, an ever-changing population of cats (usually around ten… or so), and a small herd of four-horned, spotted Jacob sheep.

Q: What do you do for fun?

When I’m not writing, I create art pieces in my combination pottery studio and tiki bar. I don’t throw (an odd term for making pottery, for sure). I have a slab roller, which looks like a giant lasagna noodle maker. There’s nothing quite like working big flat pieces of wet clay into fun shapes while also sipping on a fresh, cold Mai Tai.

My husband and I also travel, which is incredibly inspiring for a writer. In the past three years we’ve been to 18 countries in Europe and Asia. In the fall we’re going to Portugal.

Q: What genre do you write in?

That’s a trick question for me. I’m mostly attracted to murder mysteries, but you couldn’t tell that from my track record. I write what shows up in my head. Stories come to me in a flash, like a “blipvert” fromMax Headroom (I guess I just dated myself). It usually happens at three in the morning and I have to get up and capture it right then or I’ll lose it. I’ve written a children’s novel, a murder mystery, a dystopian science fiction, and I’m currently writing a speculative fiction. I’ve written short stories in all those genres, although most of my short stories seem to end up with a horror twist in them.

Q: Tell us more about your books

My first was a coming-of-age children’s novel called Wanda’s New Eyes. I originally wrote it before cell phones, so I’m busy rewriting it for a contemporary audience. I already have a great cover design, thanks to Karen Phillips, who now designs all my covers.

After Wanda, I wrote and published The Case of a Cold Trail and a Hot Musket, which is, hopefully, the first of a series of murder mysteries featuring Private Investigator Marianna Morgan. My next novel was a dystopian science fiction called Born Rich. I still love that story, but I pulled the book off Amazon after rereading a Frank Herbert novel. I couldn’t stop thinking of ways to improve and expand my first effort at creating a new world, or at least a new future for this world. There is so much more potential in Born Rich than I originally envisioned. I’d never really pushed it, so sold few copies. I’ll be offering anyone who bought the original version a free copy when the expanded one comes out.

These days I’m finishing up a speculative fiction novel called Virgilante. It can best be described as Dexter-lite. Virgil takes karma into his own hands; he just doesn’t use plastic sheeting and large knives. And his victims don’t end up in small pieces.

Q: How do you tackle writing in such diverse genres?

As they say, “Research, research, research.” I do a lot of online research and even face to face interviews and site visits. I’ve found most experts love it when you ask them questions. I’ve interviewed police chiefs in two small towns, the Historian and Curator of the Alamo, head librarian at the San Antonio Public Library, the owner of the Snake Farm (a roadside attraction north of San Antonio), bicycle police who patrol the San Antonio River Walk, the Ford Mustang Vintage Car Club, a former professional motorcycle racer, a database specialist, a psychiatrist, a veterinarian, and a realtor. They were all thrilled to be asked for their expertise.

I also belong to an awesome critique group called the Lockhart Writers. In spite of the unimaginative group name, everyone is incredibly creative, knowledgable, and capable, not just in the mechanics of good writing, but across many areas of expertise.

Q: What was your favorite research effort?

Hands down, my visit with Dr. Richard Bruce Winders from the Alamo. My murder mystery was inspired by a news article. Someone had donated a Brown Bess musket to the Alamo. There were thousands of these muskets used at the battle of the Alamo — most every Mexican soldier had one. What made the one in the news article unique was that its triangular bayonet tip had an unusual bend in it. My brain thought, “It could be identified years later!”

The problem was, I knew nothing about Brown Bess muskets, so I arranged an interview with Dr. Winders. First, I told him I’d never seen one other than pictures and was wondering how a wooden-stock musket could be hidden for 35 years without damage or deterioration. He got up from his desk, crossed to a closet, and handed me an actual Brown Bess to hold. I then told him about the article that inspired my story, and about the bent bayonet tip. He pulled open his desk drawer and said, “You mean this one?” He had the ACTUAL TIP! He let me hold it, too. Definitely the most awesome book research I’ve ever done.

Q: What’s next?

Finishing Virgilante, of course. Karen is working on the cover and my new editor, Crystal Hubbard, is waiting for the final draft. I have three different beginnings for sequels to my Marianna Morgan series. I want to get back to one of them. I love all the plot ideas, so I’ll probably have to flip a coin. Also I want to tackle expanding Born Rich. I’m honestly not sure which I’ll do first, the murder mystery or the science fiction. I’m not good at writing simultaneous stories. When I’m writing, it feels as if I’m living in that world. Writing two stories at the same time would be like jumping between parallel universes. Plus I think both stories would suffer.

Janet’s book (soon to be books):

FrontCover

The Case of a Cold Trail and a Hot Musket

Private Investigator Marianna Morgan finds she has more than she bargained for when Stephen Davidson hires her to tail and identify a woman he believes is his long lost sister Stephanie. There’s just one problem: Stephanie was kidnapped and presumed murdered 35 years ago.

The twins were seven when the Davidson home near San Antonio was burgled, their father was murdered, and one item, an Alamo-era, Brown Bess musket was stolen. Now, 35 years later, if the woman in question is Stephanie, why has she suddenly resurfaced, where has she been all this time, and why hasn’t she contacted her brother? If it isn’t her, why is the woman in question searching for the musket and attempting to stop Marianna via death threats… and worse?

Marianna must use all of her investigative skills to figure out what is really going on and resolve the decades-old mysteries.

Amazon print and ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Cold-Trail-Hot-Musket/dp/1477699597

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