Interview with Richard C. White about his new book Harbinger Of Darkness!

Some of you may remember way back before #Writober  started, I asked What are you planning for #Writober? Back then, a million years ago, I mentioned that I planned to do Readers Imbibing Peril XII’s Peril in the First. I listed the books I planned on reading and half of those have changed, but I also mentioned a surprise. Here is that surprise. I was given a copy of Harbinger of Darkness by Richard C. White in exchange for a review. He also agreed to an interview. Imbibing So Much Peril!

My Review

 

four stars

The cover of Harbinger Of Darkness by Richard C. WhiteThough I’m not usually a kings and princes, guilds and taverns kind of reader, I enjoyed many things about this novel. I especially enjoyed the strong female protagonist. Perrin, by day, working in her father’s bookshop, uses a charm to change her appearance and becomes Raven, by night, master thief who doesn’t play by the rules. I was pulled into her world through visual description and quick-moving action scenes. I also enjoyed the crisp, natural dialogue.

There were some areas of the novel that I felt dragged slightly. Though there was a rich, layered story being told, I sometimes thought it could be told with fewer words. There were a few times I worried the story would turn to fairy tale stereotypes, but the story took a creative turn and rewarded me for my continued reading.

Harbinger of Darkness is a visceral adventure through a world of magic with well-developed characters, dynamic dialogue and a good dose of two-handed sword fights.

Interview with Richard C. White

Reading your bio at the end of Harbinger of Darkness, was fascinating. You have a career with a defense contractor and you write novels? Can you tell us about a day in the life?

Im a technical writer, by trade, so as I like to describe my life as six weeks of boredom followed by two weeks of panic. Most of the projects I work on are what we call eight-week spins, so for six weeks, theres not much for me to do while the developers and programmers work on their projects. However, once the code goes final, I have one week to write the users manual, update the technical manual, review and update the requirements spreadsheet, and write the change sheet. Once thats all done, then I have to get the government lead to review and approve my documents before the end of the second week, so we can release on time.

I try not to let that six-week slack period go to waste though. Most of the time, Ive been able to work on my latest story while Im on the slow part of the spin. Ive been able to sell my project managers that Im getting in typing practice. Generally, theyve been cool about it though – as long as I am at my desk, answer my phone/email, and help out when needed, etc. – its sort of like being on-call.

Most of my writing is done at home though. I try to carve out an hour or two before bed for writing, but that doesnt happen all the time. Getting a chance to spend time with friends and family is pretty darn important for physical and mental health.

One of my favorite writing exercises is going on writing walkabouts on the weekend. Ill take a Saturday or Sunday and go out and do an hour or two of writing at a coffee shop, then walk to the park and write, then hit a restaurant to write/eat, then maybe a local pub or a bookstore and write some more. The object of a walkabout is getting outside of the house to write, but not abusing a businesss hospitality. If I hit a coffee shop, I only stay a while and I order somethingsame for a restaurant, pub, bookstore, etc.. Im not there just to leach their electricity or wi-fi.

So, between working in some writing at work, in the evenings at home and on the weekends, I manage to balance family, work, and my writing. I wish I could say I was one of those who wrote every day, but I do what I can. Maybe after I retire, Ill consider trying to write full-time, but I dont see it happening anytime soon.

I would see the Star Trek and Star Wars book titles on the bookstore shelves and assume they were books that rehashed the scripts. I only learned about the media tie-in genre this past summer, but you’ve lived it. What, to you, is the purpose/joy of media tie-in and what’s it like to write for licensed media?

There are a number of different types of media tie-in stories. Some are novelizations of an existing property, say, Star Wars. There you take the movie and expand on it. A movie script would probably make a long novella, so to get 80-100,000 words for the novel, you get to go into descriptions, what the characters were thinking in certain scenes, what might have been happening right off screen, or how did that character we last saw on this planet manage to get to the other planet in the nick of time? Novelizations are a way to linger over a movie/tv show/game and fill in a few blanks.

Other media tie-ins are original stories set in the established universe. Now the authors get to maybe go back and revisit characters who only appeared in say one episode of Doctor WHO or NCIS and maybe instead of them being just a walk-on, now we get to do an entire story about them. Sometimes, we can tell stories of what happened between two episodes or even two seasons of a show to cover what happened to the characters (provided the season didnt end on a cliff-hanger). Other times, we come up with completely unique stories about charactersperhaps we tell the story of what they did before they came onto the show or if theyve left the show, perhaps we do a reunion story, to catch the fans up on whats happened to this or that person.

However, writing media tie-in stories has its own unique pitfalls. First of all, most people dont get to start off writing media works. You cant just write a Supernatural novel and send it to the publisher and hope theyll pick it up. Most of the authors you see whore writing media tie-in have been approached by an editor and asked to pitch something. Studios are very protective of their properties, so for the editor to sell you as the author, they like to be able to point to something youve already done to prove you have some writing chops.

So, if you get the opportunity to write something, then you get to do the tie-in dance. First off, the editor gives you your right and left boundaries, a.k.a., the licensor is looking for a story about X and Y, but dont go into Z or U. Why? They may or may not tell you, but the licensor is the final approver, so learn to keep them happy. Then the writer comes up with two or three plot pitches, which have to be approved by the editor and then the licensor. Once they decide which they like best, then you do a synopsis or perhaps a chapter breakdown and again the editor and then the licensor have to approve them. Finally, you get to write the short story, novella, or novel. And again, it goes through the editor and the licensor.

At any time in this process, the licensor can go, Nope, thats not working, and thats it. Hopefully, your editor can smooth thing over or help you come up with a way to mollify the licensor, but if they say no, then your story is dead. And I mean dead, since youre using their characters, theres no where else to sell that story. Sure, I guess you could try to file the serial numbers off the story and change it enough to make it your own, but in that case, why not just write a new story?

What inspired you to write Harbinger of Darkness?

Its hard to say what was the initial inspiration for Harbinger, but I can definitely trace some of its literary roots to stories like the Scarlet Pimpernel, Batman, Zorro, and the Green Hornet. However, I wanted to make the main character a bit more human. Perrin isnt necessarily out to right great wrongs or even make the city safer, although, she winds up setting herself against some of the greater criminals in her own citybut for her own personal reasons. Instead, this is about someone who feels trapped by circumstances and she is forced to take what some would call drastic actions to free herself and be able to follow her own dreams in the end.

I also wanted to try and determine for myself if I could write a story about a nocturnal character who a) is not independently wealthy, so they must maintain their secrets while holding down a regular job and b) must keep their secret identity from their own family – no faithful Diegos or Alfreds for Perrin. It was fun to take the trope of the costumed crime-fighter and morph it into what I wanted for this story. Hopefully, Ive succeeded.

Halloween’s coming up, do you have a favorite horror author/novel?

I have to admit, I like dark fantasy, but Im not much into modern horror. That being said, I do enjoy the Saga of Pandora Zwieeck series by Steve Roman. Even if Steve wasnt my publisher, he does write a damn good yarn with this series. Im constantly nagging him to put out the third book so I can find out how this first arc is going to end.

I did enjoy earlier Steven King The Shining, Carrie, Firestarter, and I remember making the classic mistake of trying to read The Exorcist at midnight when I was 12(ish). Not great for sleeping, let me tell you.

What’s your favorite scary movie?

Alien. Far and away, one of the most intense horror movies that I can remember, It was marketed as a Science Fiction movie, but it was a classic locked-house monster movie. Others I really enjoyed over the years were Jaws, Psycho (1960), The Birds, Cat People, An American Werewolf In London, and for a touch of comedy, Young Frankenstein and Abbot and Costello Meet the Wolfman.

What’s your biggest fear? Do you think it’s rational or irrational?

My biggest fear? Spiders, and of course, its irrational. Obviously, Im thousands of times larger than they are, but I dont like them, never have, and suspect I never will.

Which dictionary do you use?

My go-to dictionary is the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, ©1964, that I was given when I was in Kindergarten, and still use to this day.

Any advice for writers who have yet to feel their novel is finished or are yet to be published?

If youre feeling like your novel isnt finished, my advice is to really think about what youre doing. Are you really doing restructuring and introducing new plots or are you simply playing with where do the commas go in other words, are you really making meaningful changers or simply procrastinating? Eventually, youre going to have to take that next step and either start writing those query letters to try and get an agent/publisher to take a look at what youve got or else start down the path to self-publishing.

A number of people I know have worked and reworked and re-reworked their novels to death because they were afraid of what someone might say or think if they read it, but writing to be published is not for the timid. After a while, youre going to have to put it out there, with the understanding that once you release it, you have no more control over your story. People may like it, they may dislike it. Odds are something you write is going to be misinterpreted (dont even get me started on literary criticism here). Some people may even be offended at what you wrote.

Dont let that fear stop you because you have NO control over it unless you never write again. Once its published, the writer part of you has to forget about it, put pen to paper, and start working on your next book. The promoter part of you may have to spend some time with making sure people know your first book exists, but thats another tale for another time. As a writer, once you say, The End, except for making corrections/edits, its on to the next story and dont look back.

Cover of Terra Incognito by Richard C. White

Richard C. White has also shared his writing wisdom in a book for writers – Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination.

You can learn more about Richard C. White and his books on his website RichardCWhite.com, his facebook page AuthorRichardCWhite, on Twitter @Nightwolfwriter and at StarWarpConcepts.com

Wanna see Richard and hear his voice? Here’s a video interview on Youtube.

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Writober Day 17: The Smell Of Death

bokeh skulls appear to rise from leaves

by Maria L. Berg 2017

I will never forget the smell when I returned to New Orleans after the hurricane. It permeated everything. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s a mix of rot, blood, excretion and this sickly-sweet horror that triggers the gag reflex until it is so stuck in your nostrils and pores that you realize it will always be a part of you–The smell of death.

This image makes me think of Little Shop of Horrors (1986) which I paired with the wooden jigsaw puzzle Artifact Puzzles – Garden of Death in the first October Pairings

Is this a killer plant? Is the plant haunted? Or is Death spending a day off tending the garden?

#vss very short story

They knew they had wandered into Death’s garden when a stray step released spores shaped like skulls, moaning on the wind.

#OctPoWriMo

And The Dragon Chose . . .

Though I do not understand the title of today’s challenge, it sounds inspiring and a bit ominous. Today’s challenge is a Dr. Seuss challenge to only use 50 unique words to write the poem. This is based on the bet that led to Green Eggs and Ham. I found an online rhyming dictionary the other day, so I think I’ll start there, choosing words that rhyme with scent and death.

Botrytis Battle

Brown spotted signs of death
And furry gray mold
Botrytis claims his garden
A battle to unfold

Death enters his garden
His step releases spores
In saprophytic appetite
A germ of many wars

Insects carry conidias
Fellow soldiers in arms
Spotted brown colluders
Carry mold that harms

Wounded cuticle weakens
The infection breaches the sheath
Shaking his head sadly
Death grips his snath and swings

Notes on today’s poem:

That was way harder than I thought it would be. The original poem was 74 words and I figured many of those would not be unique, but I was wrong. That took a ton of creative editing, but it was a great challenge.

These poem prompts paired with the #Writober images are helping me come up with some unique writing. This poem was also inspired by an article on cannagardening.com called Botrytis Cinerea: a highly infectious crop killer. Thank you to everyone for the inspiration.

#FlashFicHive

flashfichive day 17

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Our #Writober image prompts lend to writing horror, sci-fi and fantasy. What other genre could we add to the mix? Today’s image makes me think Gothic Horror like Edgar Allan Poe or H. P. Lovecraft, or we could try Noir Mystery or a Cozy Mystery (the Death’s day off story). It could end up a Comedy or Satire. What genre do you want to explore today?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 14: Monsters under the microscope.

writober day 14

Now here’s a real monster from The Science Library/Getty Images.

I think if you watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and compare this guy to the storm-trooper carrying at-ats you’ll see some design similarities.

This four-eyed alien-like face, belonging to the larva of a water-dwelling beetle, can be the last thing a tadpole sees before it’s snapped up and eaten.

But what if it wasn’t microscopic, or what if you were?

#vss very short story

When the giant monsters emerged from the water, they were still in larval form. The survivors didn’t know how to prepare for the change.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Movement and Words

Words In Motion

wiggly squiggly
swirling whirling
higgledy piggledy
turning churning
shaky quaky
twisting resisting
twittery jittery
toeing flowing growing

 

#FlashFicHive

Write a “dialogue only” flash story.

flashfichive day 14

graphic by Anjela Curtis

I really like today’s #FlashFicHive prompt. One of my main tricks for getting words on the page is to put my characters in dialogue. Writing an entire story in dialogue isn’t easy, but I’ve done it before, so it looks like today’s monster, based on the water-dwelling beetle larva, can talk!

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

October Pairings (#OctPairs): Halloween Candy and Books

When I was young, one of my favorite things to do on a cool, usually rainy, Fall day was grab a big bag of M&M’s(click on that and check out the weird M&M options on amazon. Coffee and nut, what?), a nice warm blanket and a good book. So for our second installment of October Pairings, I’m going to pair up Halloween candy with great Halloween-ish books.

This should be helpful for any of you still looking for books to read for #RIPXII Peril the First, Second or Third.

cover of Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard ChizmarThe first book I read for the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge was Gwendy’s Button Box Halloween chocolates from Hotel Chocolatby Stephen King and Richard Chizmar.
In the story, the button box gives Gwendy small detailed chocolate animals. I think these chocolates from Hotel Chocolat look like what the button box might spit out for Halloween. But if I were to choose a Halloween candy from my local drugstore, I would go with some special holiday M&Ms let’s see the offerings for this year:

fall mnmfall mnm2fall mnm3fall mnm5Okay, I wish I had nfall mnm4ever seen any of these. I thought I would find a nice bag of regular M&M’s with leaves, ghosts and jack-o-lanterns. These days you can go to  mymms.com and design your own. That’s looking like a good option.

The next book I’m reading for #RIPXII’s Peril of the group read.

slade house Slade House by David Mitchell is a series of stories related to the house, so I think it calls for a candy assortment. I will pair it with MARS Chocolate Fall Harvest Minis Size Candy Bars Variety Mix 45.8-Ounce Bag or this cute  HERSHEY’S Halloween Hershey's Halloween assortment bowl shaped like a pumpkinAssortment Pumpkin Bowl (50.2-Ounce)

Let’s turn to a classic ghost story, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Written in 1859, Cover of Wilkie Collin's gothic horror novelit is considered to be one of the first mystery novels and also a gothic horror. I absolutely loved reading it and enjoyed what I thought was the modern film adaptation The Lady in White by MGM (Video & DVD) when it came out in 1988. Imdb says the writer based it on an urban legend. An urban legend based on the book from the 1800’s. I say yes.
The 1997 TV movie The Woman in White included one Andrew Lincoln. That’s right! Mr. Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes himself.
After you read the book you may want to watch the movies for RIPXII’s Peril on the Screen.

I like white chocolate, so I would pair it with REESE’S White Peanut Butter Snack Size Ghostsreese's ghosts
If you’re not into white chocolate or looking for a “healthier” treat, how about Yogurt Covered Raisins ?

yogurt-covered-raisins-1-pound-bag-3

Another great candy to enjoy while reading is Lifesavers I especially enjoy Wintogreen and Butter Rum.
What books would make good pairs with those?

I think I’ll pair Butter Rum with Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. One of my very favorite books. I’m thinking the butter on popcorn one might snack on at their mutant freak-show. geek love

I would pair the Wintogreen Lifesavers with Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. This book is on my to read list. Goodreads says “Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.” Sounds like a great pairing with Wintogreen Lifesavers to me.     Snow Crash

This was really fun. I’m enjoying October Pairings. I hope you’ll join me on Twitter at #OctPairs and share your favorite October Pairings.

 

Happy Reading and Snacking!

#Writober Update

 

 

I wanted to add a few things to the line-up for #Writober. While reading Slade House: A Novel by David Mitchell for #RIPXII’s Peril of the group read, I had another idea of how to use the #Writober 2 pinterest board. Each image could be a scene in a continuous story. You might end up outlining your @NaNoWriMo novel.

Just discovered #Writober and feel like you’re too late, or feel like you can’t participate because you don’t have enough time? No worries. I stumbled upon the challenge late last year and wrote most of my stories in one weekend. The only limits to the #Writober challenge are the ones you creatively place upon yourself to get your stories written.

The way I did #Writober last year (and I’m doing it again), was I created an Open Office (Word) document and named it #Writober. I then typed a number for each day/image and for the images I had story ideas for, I wrote a title and notes, or just started the story. That way I could jump around whenever inspiration struck. I’m a non-linear thinker and this works for me. I look forward to hearing how the #Writober challenge works for you.

October Pairings: #OctPairs

I had another idea that I thought would be fun for #Writober: October Pairings. Every Wednesday this month, I’ll be posting about things that combine well, like Halloween candy and scary books, or Halloween movies and hot beverages.

I hope you’ll post your ideas for good October Pairings on twitter with #OctPairs.

 

trick-or-treat-book-blog-hop-banner_5_orig

If you have written a scary book and would like to promote it by giving it away on Halloween, head over to Trick-or-Treat Reads.

If you haven’t written that book yet, but love to read scary stories, don’t forget to Trick-or-Treat for books on Halloween.

Have you planned your costume yet? What are you dressing as this year? In the past, I have had my costumes inspire my stories and my stories inspire my costumes. I hope #Writober inspires you.

Happy Writing and Reading!

What are you planning for #Writober?

#Writober – a writing and reading extravaganza leading to Halloween

September is flying by too quickly. I haven’t even posted my giant Summer reading review yet, but it’s already time to start looking toward October. October is a great time for writing, especially creepy fantasy and horror challenges. I’ve decided to use J.S. Nagy’s challenge name from last year #Writober to describe the whole month, because of all of the fun writing and reading challenges I’ve found to enjoy. I hope you’ll join me for a spooktacularly productive #Writober.

The Pinterest Board #Writober 2

Last year, I happened upon a great writing challenge called #Writober. The organizer, J.S. Nagy a.k.a @BrassGoblin, created a pinterest board and challenged himself to write a 101 word story inspired by one picture each day. He asked other writers to join him and read each other’s stories on Wattpad. Though I did not post my stories, I did read the other stories. I didn’t end up writing a story for each image and I collected some images of my own, but the stories inspired by the challenge were fun. One of them was even published!

This year, I got excited to add some of my own images to the #Writober board, so I contacted J.S. Nagy to see if he had started planning #Writober for this year. Sadly, for me, not him, he is headed to Japan and does not have time for it this year. So I have taken on #Writober 2 and hope you will join me. Here’s the #Writober 2 pinterest board. I have numbered each image in its description and hope you find inspiration for each day in the array of images I collected.

You don’t have to use the images to inspire daily 101 word stories as @BrassGoblin suggested. Last year, I used the images as inspiration for flash fiction of any length under 1,000 words. I also used them to inspire tweet length #microstories (#vss – very short story). This year, I plan to add poetry, a twitter flash fiction group, a reading challenge and #pessimisticmoustache to the mix.

Poetry

I took a CalArts poetry workshop online through coursera.org last month and got a lot out of it. I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to continue writing poetry with a daily poetry writing challenge. This will be the 6th year of #OctPoWriMo  poetry challenge. They have a poetry prompt for inspiration on the website every day. I wonder how my #Writober 2 images will interact with their inspirational prompts. Could be interesting. I’ll be posting my poems here on Experience Writing.

#FlashFicHive

FlashFicHive

This is a group challenge that comes up every two months. I’m glad it corresponds with #Writober. I’m hoping they will doubly inspire me to write flash fiction every day.

R.I.P. – Readers Imbibing Peril

This is the twelfth year of  Readers Imbibing Peril #RIPXII. This reading challenge has lots of different perils to choose from. It began the 1st of September, but I arrived late to the party and plan to participate for October. I’m planning to be in a lot of peril, including:

In peril the first:

The four books I want to read are:
What the Dead Know: A Novel – Thriller
Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence) – Mystery
Gwendy’s Button Box – Horror
and a surprise that I’ll tell you about in about a week. I’ll be reviewing a book that isn’t released yet.

In peril of the short story:

I recommend looking for stories to read and linking your stories to #Writober.

There are also great stories at:

The Evening Theatre, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Sick Lit Mag, Five on The Fifth, Fictional Pairings, and many, many more great online literary magazines.

Peril on the screen:

For this peril, I thought I would watch Horns based on the Joe Hill novel and that made me think of Swiss Army Man which I also haven’t seen.

And Peril of the group read:

I already have my copy of Slade House by David Mitchell

#PessimisticMoustache

I created a creative description game based on a great line from Agatha Christie. Author Diana Rose Wilson and I play it sporadically on twitter. We post pictures and GIFs and challenge ourselves to come up with an ism to describe a feature. For #Movember it’s full of mustaches, and December was full of creepy Santas, but for #Writober, I’m thinking of using the images from the pinterest board. Here are the rules of play with links to lists of isms. I hope you’ll head over to Twitter and join us. Last year we had a lot of fun through November and December as well.

Enjoy #Writober!

So there you have it. A selection of fun writing and reading events I plan to enjoy this October. From experience, I know life will get in the way, and some days, I might just run out of time, but my #Writober is all about inspiration and creation, so I hope you’ll join me in any way that works for you. Please check back here at Experience Writing for my daily poems and flash fiction ideas and I hope you like the #Writober 2 pinterest board. I look forward to hearing about how you will be spending #Writober.

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!

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.

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.