Read And Return–Guest Post

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Full disclosure: When I was setting my calendar for guest posts, I noticed this particular date. Not that I wanted to notice, because this date has come around a number of times I’d rather avoid counting. I almost skipped it entirely. But then, I thought, who better to post on this day than my own kid?

I should have known she was going to make me cry. Rotten kid.

Read and Return

Today just happens to be Annetta’s birthday. Shhhh, don’t tell her I’m the one who spilled the beans.

Of course, being her birthday made me think of gifts and gifts made me think of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received and that’s when I realized my Mom has given me everything. Absolutely everything.

When I was about ten years old, I remember Mom walking up to me and saying, “Follow me.” I asked where we were going, but I got no answer. She lead me up the stairs, all sixteen of them, into her bedroom and in front of her massively huge bookshelf without saying a single word. This bookshelf went from floor to ceiling and was as wide as half the wall. Every inch of the thing was covered in books. Double rows of hardcover books, stacks and stacks of paperbacks. To me, a mere girl at the time, it looked gargantuan and totally awesome. I remember thinking how lovely they smelled. The sun was shining in through the window and I saw little specks of dust floating on the air. But there was no dust on these books.

She looked at them for a moment, and then handed me a little yellow book called “The Faun and the Woodcutter’s Daughter” by B. L. Picard. Mom gave me instructions to read the book and return it to her when I was finished.

Faun and Woodcutter's Daughter

I followed her instructions, and I loved the book. It’s a collection of fairy tales that are unique and wonderful. When I was finished, I brought the book back to her and she said once again, “Follow me.” Upstairs we went, into her room, to the gigantic bookcase where she took the book from my hands and promptly placed another one in it. She gave me the same instructions–read and return.

I don’t remember how long that exchange went on before I started picking my own books, but since the day she handed me that first yellow book, I can not remember a single day where I’ve not been reading. That moment turned into a constant chain of books for me, one right after the other, and has continued for almost twenty years.

When I hear parents tell me they wish they could give their children everything, I tell them this story. You can give your children everything and so much more. The gift my mom gave me is endless, bottomless, boundless. There is no world I cannot explore, there is no character I cannot meet, there is no time period I cannot visit, there is no hope or dream or idea I can’t experience through the written word. She opened every door for me, and through that door is everything.

Do you want to give your children everything? Give your children books, people. Give them a love of reading. I can think of no better way to enrich their lives. And I know there is no other way to give them everything.

That day, which I still remember with such clearness, I was given a wonderful gift, a gift I hope to share with my son.

And I don’t even have to actually give him the book. My mom knew what she was doing.

Read and return.

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Odds and Ends

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. Why is it turkey never tastes as good as it does on Thanksgiving?

It's a mysterious bird, don't you think?

Now, we’re on to the next holiday. Christmas.

Since people have been actually injured and even pepper-sprayed during the Black Friday festivities, I have decided to complete the bulk of my Christmas shopping online. More specifically, since there are several people I know who are receiving e-readers this year, I think e-books or gift cards are in order. It sure makes my life easier.

If you’re thinking how I’m thinking, let me make some recommendations for the reader on your list:

I am running a giveaway for “Athena’s Promise” on GoodReads. Three signed copies are the prize; all you have to do is register and click for a chance to win. Easy-peasy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Athena's Promise by Annetta Ribken

Athena’s Promise

by Annetta Ribken

Giveaway ends December 15, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Of course, the e-version is available on Amazon and on Smashwords.

http://youtu.be/n49kFgIkQVg

Looking for some heart-pounding action with a strong heroine? Check out PJ Druce’s Marooned.

http://youtu.be/ILg-L4gE29U

Speaking of heart-pounding, Patti Larsen serves up a heaping dose in her The Hunted Series. Excellent books.

If you’re into zombies (and who isn’t?) Monster’s Unmasked, a novella by Lori Whitwam, offers a look behind the zombie apocalypse set in the universe created by Joshua Guess. Sometimes the monsters are not always who or what we expect. Lori also writes from the other end of the spectrum — Make or Break is a funny, snarky, sparkalicious romantic suspense you’ll thoroughly enjoy.

If you like erotica with your story, you can’t miss out on Eden Baylee’s excellent Fall Into Winter. Wonderful stories with rich characters and imaginative plots.

***

I was very sad to hear of the passing of Anne McCaffrey. Those of us who are avid readers know there are special stories which can have a huge impact on your life. Some books can actually change or save a life. Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern” is one such book for me.

The hardcover copy I have is battered and held together with clear shipping tape. It is almost 30 years old, and has traveled thousands of miles. It is the only book I have both in hardcover and e-format. I would emigrate to Pern today, if I could. And I make a mean cup of klah.

Although I am very sad we’ve lost such a distinctive and talented voice, Anne McCaffrey is not gone. All you have to do is open one of her books, and there she is. What a legacy! I can never thank Ms. McCaffrey enough for the hours of joy she has given me through her stories. She will be sorely missed.

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Fabulous Fiction Friday – “Living With the Dead”

*Please note: after this entry was posted, I received word that Josh has run into technical difficulties with Amazon because of their revamping of their digital platform, therefore “Living With the Dead” had to be re-published. It should be available soon, and I will update the links for purchase as soon as that happens. In the meantime, you can find it on the Nook or still keep up with him on his Living With the Dead blog. Thanks for your patience — it’s definitely worth the wait, I promise.*

*ADDENDUM*

Good news! All of Josh’s data has been reinstated and the links are good to go. YAY!

I have very eclectic reading tastes, and I’m quite picky. Part of this is because I’ve been reading for almost 50 years. Yes, you heard that correctly. I know I’m giving away my age here, but I’ve been reading voraciously since the age of three, and when you’ve read that many books, friends and neighbors, you become real picky about what you read.

Part of the reason I’m such a book snob is because I don’t have a whole lot of time, and although I’m a really fast reader, I have a lot of stuffs to do. When a book isn’t worth it, it really irritates me. To be frank, it pisses me off. Not to mention the economic impact, which further stokes the Irritation Fires. If I’m not happy with the story, and I don’t think I’ve spent my time or my money well, I’m really annoyed.

I downloaded “Living With the Dead” for the Kindle on a recommendation from a Very Good Friend. I resisted reading it because I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. She told me it was a “zombie” book, and although I enjoyed “World War Z” by Max Brooks and I’m totally hooked by “The Walking Dead” on AMC, I’m not really a zombie reader. Plus, it’s written in a blog format, and I have found that can be a boring way to read a book.

I was more than pleasantly surprised by Joshua Guess’s book. From the very first “entry”, I was HOOKED. Once I started, I couldn’t wait to read the next one, and the next one, and so on until it was 2am and I finished the entire thing in one sitting. It. Is. Fab.

The story starts with an ordinary geek in Kentucky watching the news and noticing reports of a disturbance in Ohio. Right away he sees the seeds of a Zombie Apocalypse, and springs into action. He starts right away preparing for the worst, trying to warn his family and friends, laying in supplies and shoring up his defenses. He blogs every day, documenting exactly what he’s doing and the important preparations he’s making — but more than that, Josh documents how he’s feeling and the emotional, physical and spiritual toll the entire experience is taking on him and everyone around him.

Most zombie fiction I’ve read (and I admit, it’s not a lot) seem to focus on the brain-eating, rotting horror that are zombies and the military or defensive actions that the characters are taking. “Living With the Dead” is unique to me in that it involves the lives and the emotions of not only dealing with the undead intent on eating the living, but with the complicated and difficult decisions the remaining survivors have to make in the wake of destruction of society as they have always known it. Since the blog was (and still continues to be) written in “real time”, you can follow the day-to-day changes in the characters and sympathize with what they’re up against. You question whether or not you could make these decisions yourself, how you would deal with the apocalypse, what you would do in their stead.

You won’t agree with everything that’s done. You won’t like everything that happens. You won’t like all the people you meet — you may not even like the narrator. But that’s what makes all of this seem so terrifyingly real. When I finished the last page of the first six months (you can either follow along in “real time” on the blog or wait for a compilation of the entire year, due out in March) I was afraid to watch the news — because the situation seemed just that real.

(On a side note, there’s some really great information on what to do to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse. I took notes, you know, just in case.)

Another thing I’ve noticed about zombies is although the basic precepts stay the same (they die, they reanimate, can only be killed forever through some kind of brain trauma, they eat the living, they never…ever…stop) different writers add a little something different to their zombies. Guess has added some horrifying and frightening aspects to his zombies that really freaked me, and yet still made sense in his zombie-world. The suspension of disbelief is easy because Guess’s world is logical even in the midst of madness.

The price is right, and the story is worth every penny and then some. This ranks up there as one of my top reads for 2011, and I can’t wait for the next installment in March.

You can find “Living With the Dead” for the Kindle here, or you can follow along for free on the Living With the Dead blog. Joshua has a compilation planned for March with the entire year, plus extra bonuses. You can find him on Facebook and on Goodreads. He is currently at work on several projects, including a “campy vampy” novel. He has recently released his novel, Bound to Silence, also on Amazon.

While you’re on Amazon, check out Not Nice and Other Understatements – A Journal of Flash Fiction!

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Holy Smokes

Photo courtesy of Kim Newberg

A former boss of mine used to say, “Busy is good.” I’d roll my eyes, ears deep in paperwork and phone calls and wish him to the bottom of the ocean with an anchor tied around his neck. However, he’s right, as I sit here after one o’clock in the afternoon in my jammies, hair a mess, and missing not only breakfast, but lunch as well and having no clue what’s on the menu for dinner.

What day is it, anyway??

So yes, very busy, and it is a good thing (as I snatch chunks of hair from my head and wish there were just four more hours in the day). In true New Year fashion, I loaded up the Franklin Covey and started filling it up with all the stuff I need to get done, because the Universe knows if I don’t write it down I could possibly forget, and I’m hoping it cuts down on the hamsters running inside my head at night when I’m supposed to be sleeping. Too early to tell if this is going to be success or not. I’m trying to be optimistic.

My Writing News

In new news, I finally got Not Nice and Other Understatements formatted for Smashwords. HUGE YAY! Well, I didn’t format it — I got me a Go-To Guy who did it for me. I had to face the fact that this kind of stuff is just beyond my patience. I could figure it out, but honestly, formatting is on my top ten list of “I’d Rather Poke My Eye Out With A Coat Hanger”, so I invested in the superior Mad Skillz of Todd Macy and he did a fabulous job. If you are in the same boat I am — not enough time or patience to fark around with this shiz-niz — he’s your man. Reasonably priced, very professional and easy to work with, and a great turn-around time. He’s taking new clients, so check him out for your formatting needs. He’s also moving into creating cover art. YAY!

This isn’t really writing news, per se, but the father of my Chinese student of last summer called me to ask me to keep this coming July open for a repeat. I am so happy about this. It really was the highlight of my summer, and I’m honored that he wants me back.

The non-fiction stuff is rolling right along. And as packed as my schedule is, I have also set a goal of writing one flash piece a week, and of course, Pallas is still circling my brain like a shark. I don’t know what to say about that, other than it’s percolating. So, get off my back.

I am also thinking of working on the material I wrote as a back story to “The Blood Is Not Enough”, if that ends up being a favorite story from NN and posting it for free. I also have an ebook I’m working on about the process of self-publishing.

Yeah, I know. It’s a big plate.

Reading News

I have also set myself a goal of reading more this year, because I’m ashamed to say I didn’t read last year near as much as I should and I tended to stick with the old and familiar. This year I aim to branch out, and with my new old Kindle, named George Senior, I think that will be one goal I have a great chance of meeting. To that end, I have joined up with the ABC Indie Reading Challenge. Since there are no gatekeepers in the indie/self-publishing world, I think this is a great way to find new authors and you will see honest reviews here. You can check updates here as they happen.

It’s normal for me to be reading more than one book at a time, and at the moment I’m reading “Dragonriders of Pern” on the Kindle (my comfort reading food. Oh, how I love this book, and it was the inspiration for the one and only tattoo I have), “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving and “Full Dark No Stars” by Stephen King in hardcover. I’ve also just cracked open book one in the Soul Rider series by Jack Chalker.

On deck is “NLP – The New Technology of Achievement” and then whatever catches me fancy. I just finished “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead – The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon”. You can find my review here at Goodreads and all I can say is if you only read one biography-type book this year, this is the one. What a story.

Not My Writing News

Okay, here I’m not going to pre-chew your food, to quote Joseph Paul Haines. What I am going to do is throw out a few really interesting links to blogs you should be following if you’re in this business. The publishing business is changing at a rate that makes my loins quiver. Keeping up is imperative. Here are the places I make a point to visit:

Terrible Minds is not only informative, but funnier than hell. Plus, he cusses better than I do.

Ryne Douglas Pearson has some very thought-provoking posts, plus he gives away free fiction, plus THERE’S BACON.

Patti Larsen is not only a Very Interesting Person, she’s so prolific she makes me sick. I read her blog to try to figure out how she does it. She’s an inspiration, and a candidate for the Voodoo Club. Heh.

She doesn’t post near often enough, but at Fermented Fur you will get a dose of teh funneh that will make you wet your pants. She’s crazy and I love her more than ice cream.

Speaking of the funneh — cheezuncrumpets, Hyperbole and a Half is in a class all her own. The post about how Kenny Loggins ruined Christmas had me absolutely screaming with laughter. Brilliant.

Well, that’s enough of my rambling. It’s friggin’ 6pm and I’m still in my jammies, the hair is still unbrushed, and I need food. Can ya help me. O.O

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

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