Summer Book Bingo 2: Adventures with A Good Book

In my last post, I told you about all the fun squares/book choices of the Seattle Summer Book Bingo. One of those squares said to get a recommendation from an independent bookseller, so I headed over to A Good Book in Sumner, WA to see what they could recommend.

Recommendations

When I mentioned to the dark-haired, bespectacled young man behind the counter what I was up to, he motioned toward the woman behind him who was the proprietor of the establishment, Evelyn Nicholas. They were both quick to point out the books that were next to the cash register.

Campfire Bookclub

The first book they showed me was A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel (Shades of Magic) by V. E. Schwab. This is the book selection for their June Campfire Bookclub. You are welcome to join in a discussion of the book around a campfire with a drink and marshmallows on June 28th from 7-9pm. The book is part of a trilogy and Evelyn told me that her customers who read the first book rush back in for the second,  A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic). The third book in the series is A Conjuring of Light: A Novel (Shades of Magic).

Though this sounded interesting, and the bookclub sounds fun, I was curious to see what else they would recommend.

MC The great train robbery 75

The Great Train Robbery

The second book near the register that they recommended was a 2014 re-release of the 1975 novel by Michael Crichton. I had heard of the film and didn’t know it was based on a Michael Crichton book. I have read most of his books and found this tempting, but it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.

Evelyn said, “and we also have used books,” and took me into the other half of the shop. This reminded me that I had read on their website that they buy used books, so I asked her about their buy-back policy. Turns out they do a one-to-one exchange, meaning for every book you bring in, you get a discount on a purchase. I’ll definitely be taking her up on that, next time I visit.

Since I recently enjoyed Pest Control and The Exterminators (Assassin Bug Thrillers) by Bill Fitzhugh and I’ve enjoyed every book by Carl Hiaasen, I asked her if she had any recommendations in that vein.

Evelyn said, “You like funny,” and took me to another section of the shop. She told me about a couple of books then grabbed Hidden Palms: A Butch Bliss Novel by hidden palms coverHarry Bryant. The plot, as she described it, sounded like something Mr. Hiaasen might have conjured and I really liked the cover. Then she directed me over to another area of the store while she explained that Harry Bryant is a new nom de plume of an author that works at the store. I was pretty sure I knew who she was speaking of because I had met him and as I looked over what she called his “darker titles” I saw I was right.

Harry Bryant is the “more light-hearted and funny” persona of Mark Teppo who I met at an authors’ talk at the Sumner library and again when I went to a NaNoWriMo write-in at this bookstore. I haven’t read any of his books yet, so this was a perfect recommendation. SOLD.

While back at the register, where my adventure began, I saw that they, too, have a Summer Book Bingo. I excitedly got my first BUY A BOOK square stamped in the top

A Good Book Summer Bingo Card

row, though I was given a choice, so I recommend reading through and seeing where it will be most advantageous for you to fill a row.

This bingo card is a clever way to inspire me to come back and buy books. The squares aren’t only types of books to read, but calls to action as well. Not only do you get a stamp for buying books, but also:

Read a media tie-in – Okay, this isn’t a call to action. Turns out it’s a genre. The call to action is, I had to look this up. I thought it would be reading articles or essays about books, but it’s not. It’s a genre all its own and, actually, will help me out with my “Genre that is new to you” square on my Seattle Summer Book Bingo card. Media tie-ins are books made from TV or movies. Things like Star Wars and Star Trek books. I really enjoyed the TV shows Monk and Castle, so I will probably read one of the books made as extensions of those series.

Attend an event – I’m not sure, but I would think that attending the Fireside Bookclub would get stamps for an event and a book discussion. Another event at A Good Book that I think sounds interesting is A Good Talk Salon where local people give talks on subjects other than their profession. The only problem being I would have to sign up to give a talk. I hope they have another one soon.

Have a book discussion – It’ll be interesting to see how I prove some of these things for my stamp. I have book discussions all the time.

Show them your library card – I should have gotten this stamp while I was there. I always have it on me.

Review a book – this is something I have been working on. Reviews are so important to authors these days. If you like a book, you should quickly head over to Amazon and Goodreads and let everyone know.

and Gift a book – I’m always excited when I find a book that I think is just right for a friend or family member.

Supporting Local Authors

Evelyn told me, as the only bookstore in town, she really wants to help local authors. She showed me a Free Books in return for review shelf at the front of the store that she hopes to fill with local authors. These are the books I took.

Wedgie & Gizmo- This will be my “Gift a book” bingo square. I plan to give it to my niece and can picture her reading it to her little brother. I’ve already posted my review on Goodreads.

The Fallen Star: The Nocturnals Book 3- Not a local author, but I’m hoping this will be a nice birthday gift for my niece. I better read and review it quickly as she’s an independence day baby.

The Best of Talebones-I was excited to see this on the free-for-review shelf. I met Patrick Swenson at the same author talk at the Sumner library as Mark Teppo. I got a signed copy of The Ultra Thin Man: A Science Fiction Novel and enjoyed it. Though the sequel, The Ultra Big Sleep

was on the shelf, I left it for another reader, for now, and grabbed the collection of short stories from Patrick Swenson‘s previous magazine. As a short story writer, I’m always looking for interesting short story collections.

Another way that A Good Book is supporting local authors is by inviting local authors to sell their books in front of the shop during the Rhubarb Days weekend. Evelyn offered me a spot on Sunday, July 16th and I am very excited to bring Gator McBumpypants to my local community. I’ll talk more about it soon.

I want to thank Evelyn and A Good Book Bookstore for her time, great book recommendations and her work for local authors. I had no idea that trying to fill one square on my Summer Book Bingo Card could be such a great adventure. Goes to show how important independent bookstores are to a community. I hope this inspires you to venture to your local independent bookseller and ask for a recommendation. I would love to hear about your local bookstore and the latest book you bought there.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Great Summer Reads: Summer Book Bingo

book bingo

I had a lot of fun with Seattle Summer Book Bingo last year, so I kept an eye out for it this year to get an earlier start. Are any of you enjoying a reading challenge this summer? I’ve chosen some of the books I’ll be reading and have already enjoyed a couple, but look forward to your suggestions as well. I have typed an exclamation point (!) before the square topics that I need suggestions for. I hope you’ll share your book knowledge and also join me in a summer reading challenge.

The first square (top left) is Recomended by a librarian. I thought about calling out to librarians here and/ or twitter, but then I noticed the link on the Seattle Summer Book Bingo page to Your Next Five Books which turned out to be a form you fill out to get personalized recommendations from a librarian at the Seattle Public Library.

Because I tend to haunt the King County Library System I checked to see if they have something similar, and they do!! Your Perfect BOOKMATCH. I filled out their form and sent it in. It said I will receive recommendations in five to seven business days. I look forward to letting you know what my local librarians pick for me. Have you used any book recommendation forms/services with your local library?

Choose a book by it’s cover – Some of these categories I see as catch-alls. They leave a little wiggle-room for line-up changes. I would also include Fiction, You’ve been meaning to read and Finish in a day as catch-all categories. A few books I have already started could fit here:


The Lake House: A Novel
The Exterminators (Assassin Bug Thrillers)
Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence)
Park City: New and Selected Stories

You’ve been meaning to read – This book has been staring me in the face every time I open my online library account as the only book on my wishlist for a very long time. I’m not sure how or why it was there, but I’m excited to finally read Seeing Red by Lina Meruane.

! Young adult – Here I would appreciate suggestions. I have found my personalYoung adult selections to be very hit or miss. I would love to know some of your favorites.

Biography or memoir – Here I think I’ll give another attempt to Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. I received it as a gift from a friend and keep putting it on to-read lists. Hopefully, this time, I’ll actually read it.

Adapted into a movie – This category inspired me to add three books to my Goodreads to-read shelf. I like to read a book before I see the movie and there are two films based on books by Cormac McCarthy that I have not seen for that reason: The Road and No Country for Old Men (Vintage International)
Then I saw that Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch: A Novel became Jackie Brown(1997) by director Quentin Tarantino and that piqued my interest as well.

Graphic novel -This inspired me to read The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (New Edition) by Neil Gaiman. I liked it, but I found each page to be incredibly busy. I ended up reading through and not savoring. It wasn’t what I expected from the hype.

By an author of colorThe Turner House by Angela Flournoy. I was on a long waiting list for this book at my local library, but when I returned a book the other day, it was right in the front on the recommended shelves. I guess the paperback had recently come out and I was waiting for the hardback. I snagged it and cancelled my hold.

! Recommended by an independent bookseller – for this one I’m planning on going to this great little bookstore in Sumner, Wa. called A Good Book. I went to one NaNoWriMo write-in (so far) and it was there. The proprietor was very nice; I look forward to seeing what she recommends. However, if you are an independent bookseller, I would really appreciate your recommendations as well.

Set in another countryThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I have been looking forward to this one for a while. It is set in Barcelona, Spain, though more specifically, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

! Genre that is new to you – Okay. This one’s tough. I believe I have read books from every genre. If anyone has suggestions, I will keep an open mind.

! Banned – I really enjoyed my choice for this category last year. I read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This year I found The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M. Appel. I picked it because Wikipedia reported that it was banned preemptively in Malaysia for blasphemy. However he has another book banned in Qatar for its portrayal on Islam, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up Anyone read either of these? Which one do you think I should read? Other banned book suggestions?

Collection of essays or short stories – I have a few collections that I am reading at the moment:
Park City: New and Selected Stories
Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond
The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin and a non-fiction book of talks and essays The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin.
I’m not sure how all of them will fit into the BINGO card, but that’s why it’s nice there is a little wiggle-room.

Published the year one of your parents was born – This category yielded an interesting result. Turns out Jorge Luis Borges published a surreal/fantasy collection called Ficciones the year my mother was born. I’m excited to “journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm”(Goodreads description).

Fiction – I’ll be using this as a free space for something I read that doesn’t fit the other categories. Probably Lawrence Block’s Small Town: A Novel

! About art or an artist – I haven’t chosen anything for this yet. Suggestions?

A SAL speaker (past or upcoming) – I started this summer’s BINGO with The Emperor of Water Clocks: Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa. He was a Seattle Arts and Lectures speaker on March 26th, 2009 (More at my poetry selection).

! Reread a book you read in school – I wasn’t too happy with this square. After talking it out with a friend, I came up with The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. I think this re-read might be good for me as a writer in that it might bring back some childhood memories, but I’m not fixed on this one. What would you re-read that you read in school?

Finish in a day – I am known to finish more than one book in a day, so this is definitely a square I like for a book I read that doesn’t fit in a category.

Washington state author – In April, I finally got around to reading Maria Semple:Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel and Today Will Be Different but, they don’t count because Bingo didn’t start until May 17th. Luckily, I had some other Washington authors on my to read list. I plan to read Truth Like the Sun (Vintage Contemporaries) by Jim Lynch. I also put another Jim Lynch The Highest Tide: A Novel on my to-read list. Anyone have an opinion on which to read first? Which is better?

Poetry – my poetry and my SAL speaker selections ended up being the same author, Yusef Komunyakaa. I randomly picked up The Emperor of Water Clocks: Poems from my local library because I liked the title and the cover. I enjoyed it, so I looked further into Yusef Komunyakaa. That is how I learned that he had been a Seattle Arts and Lectures speaker and that his book Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series) had won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1994. I am reading it as my Poetry selection.

Science non-fiction or science-fiction – At the moment I am reading a fiction short story collection The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin and a non-fiction book of talks and essays The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin. One of these will most likely fill this square.

LGBTQIA author or character – For this square of my Bingo card I found a book by E. Annie Proulx, the author of The Shipping News which won both the Pulitzer prize and The National Book Award (US). I enjoyed The Shipping News, so I have high hopes for this year’s selection, Accordion Crimes which explores the lives of immigrants through the changing ownership of a small green accordion.

! Recommended by a young person – I don’t have this one yet. I will probably ask my niece or my neighbor, but to any young persons reading this, please leave a recommendation in the comments. What constitutes a young person to the Seattle Public Library? I’m not sure, but since this Adult Summer Reading BINGO is for people over 15, I would guess people under 15 are considered young persons.

Excitement!

There are so many great books on this list already and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my selections and your suggestions to fill out my BINGO card.  Keep checking in for updates when I get recommendations from my local librarian and independent bookstore owner.

 

Happy Summer Reading and Writing!

Another First: McKenzie’s New Boyfriend

bokeh photography experiment with a wide angle attachment on a zoom lens

Galactic Unions                                                                                                    photo by Maria L. Berg

McKenzie’s New Boyfriend is my second story published by Fictional Pairings. They paired my story with a song called Recover by Second Still. I’m listening to it while I write this. It feels perfect for my story–spacey road trip–and on Second Still’s site it says the album was released on my birthday this year (coincidence?).

This is another first in my writer’s journey because this is the first time I have published twice in the same magazine.

When building a publication history, why the same magazine?

When I first submitted to Fictional Pairings, I had two stories that I thought might work. I chose the shorter and more obviously sci-fi because I thought it was a best fit. The moment I received my acceptance letter from Fictional Pairings for BAM-AG Home, I shot off an email saying that I thought I had another piece that would be a good fit. I asked if they might be interested and how long I should wait before submitting again.

Why did I do this? Because I love the musical pairings with flash fiction. It is a great fit for me and I think it will grow. It also shows a growing readership that your first piece was so good that the magazine wanted another.

Like I said in New #LitMag+, finding the right place for your stories can feel elusive, so once you find a good match, I recommend submitting more than one best fit.

Whisper by Christopher Bailey: a YA page turner.

I had an Amazon gift-card, so I treated myself to a copy of Whisper by Christopher Bailey and I’m glad I did. Like Chris’s other novels I’ve read, Without Chance and The Crystal Key (Starjumper Legacy, Book 1), it is a page turner. Christopher Bailey definitely knows how to keep me reading to the end.

cover of Christopher Bailey's new book WHISPER

four stars

In Whisper , Jackson, a high school football player, begins to hear a voice whispering in his head. His life is turned upside down when he has a vision while having a seizure. Doctors can’t find a physical cause for his condition, so he ends up in a psychological hospital. Jacks, however, comes to believe he is hearing the voice of a real girl, and she is in trouble.

This book has vivid characters and settings. I found it easy to empathize with Jacks’s sudden roller-coaster of fear and change. Each strange step, though frightening and surreal, leads to a natural chain of events.

The psychologist’s actions were sometimes hard to swallow, but I’ll admit that is personal bias because I have a psychology degree and hope that if I had gone counseling instead of research, I wouldn’t have ended up like that. I also had trouble relating to a Dad that would think doctors know best since I have a Mom who stored penicillin in the freezer and a Dad who almost fell off a roof before he would see a doctor because he had been getting dizzy (heart valve replacement), so again personal bias. However, since I felt that strongly about those personal biases, the characters must have been so well written that they affected me and made me think.

The mystery was intriguing. From beginning to end, the story concept kept me turning pages. There were times I would have liked more clues through the whispers, but the idea of pharmaceuticals stopping the whispers left me thinking the story could veer in many different directions; and it did, leaving me guessing!

Want to know more about this author? He wrote a great guest post for Experience Writing about breaking through writer’s block and did an author interview.

#Writerslife: The Key To Persistence? Celebrate every accomplishment.

An Urgent Note On The Floor

My short story “An Urgent Note On The Floor” was published in Sick Lit Magazine today. This marks an exciting milestone in my writing journey. Though I have had a flutter of publication recently, this is the first of my published stories that is long enough to leave the flash fiction category and fit in the short story realm.

I hope you’ll give it a read and let me know what you think.

Happy Reading and Writing

 

 

New Book! BEWILDERMENT by Michael Onofrey

Cover of Bewilderment A Novel by Michael OnofreyLast September we had a special guest post from Michael Onofrey, an author I met through the Five On The Fifth Magazine‘s authors group. His post, About Writing, let us peek into his writing life. Today, I am happy to announce his novel Bewilderment is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be officially released on April 17th and I was given a digital copy to review.

MICHAEL ONOFREY was born and raised in Los Angeles. Currently he lives in Japan. Over seventy of his short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, in print and online, in such places as Cottonwood, The Evansville Review, Natural Bridge, Snowy Egret, Terrain.org, Weber–The Contemporary West, and The Williamauthor Michael Onofrey bio pic and Mary Review. Among anthologized work, his stories have appeared in Creativity & Constraint (Wising Up Press, 2014), In New Light (Northern Initiative for Social Action, 2013), Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), and Imagination & Place: An Anthology (Imagination & Place Press, 2009). He is the author of “Bewilderment,” Tailwinds Press.

BEWILDERMENT

By Michael Onofrey

four stars

 

Reading Bewilderment took me on a true adventure. From an uncomfortable homecoming in Los Angeles to a sweat-soaked bicycle tour of India; from an artist’s studio in Los Angeles to a voyeur’s job in Pakistan; I followed Wade’s life from the most mundane to the most unusual with an even, honest, matter-of-fact account in Wade’s refreshingly open world view.

The feel of the book brings you into the life of a longtime traveler with focus on the most basic human needs: the danger of unclean water; gathering sustenance; finding shelter; a life spent relying on strangers and not building sustained relationships. Mr. Onofrey’s use of these detailed daily needs highlights the contrasts of Wade’s life as a traveler and the life he tries to create back home.

I enjoyed how the structure of the novel also lends to the telling. In the beginning, the chapters alternate between Wade’s life after returning home to care for his sick mother and events during his previous bike tour of India. As the story progresses, the format changes and Wade’s travels become stories he tells to his lover in the present. By the end of the novel the past and present appear to intertwine.

Though I found the detail, format, and crisp conversational language engaging, I often felt kicked out of the story by the present-tense telling. I felt like the story slipped from past tense to present tense in a jarring way. I also noticed a couple of moments when the story head-hops to Wade’s girlfriend which took me from the story, but only for a moment. I think it was part of the honesty of the telling and Wade’s world view, but there were a few times I thought, “That was interesting, but he just dropped it.” However, none of this stopped me from hungrily turning the pages.

Bewilderment is a unique read with a skillfully developed protagonist that pulls you into the life of a traveler and leaves you pondering your own life experiences.

* I received a digital copy of Bewilderment in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Did you like this book review? Any tips to make it better? Would you like to see more book reviews on Experience Writing? Please let me know in the comments.

Book Spine Poems: Happy #NationalPoetryMonth

This morning, I came across an article in School Library Journal called

Here’s How You Make a Book Spine Poem with Your Students/Patrons by Travis Jonker

The concept is simple, fun and it inspired me. Here are my poems, created from my bookshelf in celebration of National Poetry Month. I hope you will join me and link to your poems in the comments.

Blind Sided: a short poem made of stacked books

Blind Sided

Beyond good and evil

Back roads inside the criminal mind

Blind side our kind

Mothers Talk: a poem in three books

Mothers Talk

In the company of cheerful ladies

The devil’s teeth serving up the harvest

Paper and Fire Don't Mix: a poem in three books

Paper And Fire Don’t Mix

The people of paper

Civilization and its discontents

The girl who played with fire

The Happy Evening News: a poem in four books

The Happy Evening News

Who’s writing this

furiously happy

evening news?

Bad monkey!

Stained Glass Death Switch: a poem in five books

Stained Glass Death Switch

The book of illusion’s stained glass death switch

Crowns what the dead know

The Unforgettable Photograph: a poem in eight books

The Unforgettable Photograph

The unforgettable photograph:

point zero; nowhere wild.

Chop wood, carry water

where there is no doctor.

When you are engulfed in flames,

teach yourself to dream the dream of Scipio.

A Birthday Story In Pictures

The story goes, as Mother tells it, that I was born at exactly midnight. The doctor asked her which day she would like my birthday to be and since my only cousin’s birthday was the 7th, and I would want my own birthday, she chose the 8th. Obviously, her logic was WRONG, so I celebrate both.

I had some fun with my camera and canva.com yesterday and created a photo story birthday celebration to share with my cousin. I thought you might enjoy it to.

Happy Birthday

 

Happy Birthday(1)

 

Happy Birthday(2)

 

Happy Birthday(3)

The Turn

I was excited to wake up to the news that The Drabble published my story “The Turn” today. Then I was doubly happy when I saw the great image they paired with it.

george-chambers-85770_1920

By Maria L. Berg

She couldn’t help but blame herself for “the turn”: the inevitable moment when everything that was going right went wrong; when everything wrong became her fault; when the most recent person she dared call friend plunged the knife in her back. She felt stupid every time: stupid for opening her heart; stupid for letting herself forget; stupid for letting the walls she meticulously rebuilt deliquesce.
      
Bio: Maria L. Berg’s flash fiction has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Waking Writer and Fictional Pairings.

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Happy #WorldTheaterDay

abandon-theatreToday, on World Theater Day, I am excited to announce that the short story I sent to The Evening Theatre will be published as part of their debut performance tonight 10pm Eastern/ 7pm Pacific. As I mentioned in my previous post New #LitMag +, the magazine is set up as a theater performance and my story “When To Report A Co-Worker” is the Jester’s comic interlude. My story is introduced by The Evening Theatre as “a tremendously misdirecting comedic piece.” I like that.

I hope you will join me in celebrating World Theater Day with a collection of the dark and macabre- and sci-fi comedy- at opening night of The Evening Theatre!