Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Coming Soon! Pirates! #anthology #shortstories

I'm thrilled to announce that my short story To Kiss a Pirate has been selected for publication in Pirates: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology edited by the fabulous Delilah Devlin.

Coming Soon!
January 2018

Here's a line-up of authors with stories included in the book with just one missing. Delilah will have a story in there, too!

Alicia Aringdale – Rough Seas
Alyssa Drake – A Lady’s Bargain
Augustina Van Hoven – Prophesies
C. Marie Bowen – The Corsair’s Tempest
Downey Greene – Stealing the Crimson Witch
Genevive Chamblee – Cargo
Jayce Ellis – Plunder
January George – Captive Desire
Joyce Palmer – Mistaken Identity
Lana Sloan – Perinacht
Lisa Fox – The Treasure of Devil’s Crag
Lizzie Ashworth – An Adventure for Burgess
M. Marie – Commanding Neptune’s Mistress
Moxie Marcus – Captain’s Cabin
Rhidian Brenig Jones – Full Fathom Five
T.D. Rudolph – Lust in Space
Tricia Schneider – To Kiss a Pirate
Winter Blair – Bountiful Skies

Congratulations to all the authors!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Year of Harry Potter

I have a confession to make. For the longest time, I did not like Harry Potter.

I can hear the gasps of horror from Potter fans all over the world. Trust me, this is the reaction I've received for many years. Let me explain my irritation with The Boy Who Lived.

I worked at Waldenbooks during the HP phenomenon when fans went crazy with passion to read each new book release. Do you remember stores opening at midnight to greet lines of customers who had camped out (yes, camped out!) on the sidewalks to await Release Day? Were you one of them?

From a bookseller's viewpoint, it was both glorious and overwhelming to have so many customers clamoring for these books. Over time, however, it simply wore me out. Customers kept calling and asking about the newest HP book. Preorders were recorded in a huge binder for months before the release date. Each and every customer had to be called as a reminder. Shipments kept arriving week after week filling our tiny backroom until we could barely reach the bathroom. We needed to co-ordinate with mall security on release day to control the crowds of people. Our entire staff needed to work that day (no exceptions!) to assist all the people who couldn't wait a moment longer to read what happens next to Harry Potter. We had meetings to discuss and plan events for the big day. And, then, after unpacking hundreds (dare I say thousands?) of these books, we had to find floor space in our small mall-based store. I grew weary of hearing Harry's name.

Every single day.

For years!

Frankly, I didn't understand the appeal of these books. Our staff was required to read the first chapter of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone so that we might have knowledge to chat about and sell these books to our customers. Honestly, I was unimpressed with J.K. Rowling's writing. I'd seen better writing. A lot better. Being in my early 20's, I had moved on in my reading choices and it wasn't a genre I was interested in at the time. Also, I was studying the writing craft and I had become critical and choosy about the books I read. That first chapter did not entice me to read more.

But, I continued my job, chatting with customers about this magical world and the witches and wizards who lived there. From these conversations, I grew to understand the stories, the characters, the plots and settings. Still, wasn't interested though.

Of all people, my husband (then boyfriend) jumped eagerly onto the Harry Potter bandwagon. He bought the books and devoured them, sometimes in only a day or two! This is a man who at that time only read Stephen King books.

Then the movies were released. At that time, my husband and I spent each Friday with our best friends for movie nights. I was out-voted and forced to watch the HP movies. Thankfully, Alan Rickman, made this endurable by far. If he didn't play in the movies, I'd really have had no reason to watch them. Alan Rickman was and remains to this day one of my favorite actors. And I loved his portrayal of Professor Snape. I loved him being a bad guy! He really played bad guys wonderfully!

And then Gary Oldman was cast as Sirius Black. Another of my favorite actors! And to my pleasure, David Thewlis played a werewolf. Now, we're talking! Werewolves are a weakness of mine. Suddenly, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban became one of my favorite movies. Although, I wouldn't admit so to my husband who kept trying to turn me into a HP fan. Still, I refused to read the books.

Fast forward, many years later. My husband and I now had children and they were reaching the age that they'd become interested in these Harry Potter movies. I would read books to my kids at night, and one night my oldest asked me to read Harry Potter.

Being a book lover, how could I say no to my son? And HP was a kid's book, after all.

So, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to my 2 young boys.

And, I hated it.

Yeah, I finished the entire first book and was still completely unimpressed with J.K. Rowling's writing. How in the world did this woman get published? She's addicted to adverbs! I kept hearing Stephen King's writing advice in my brains talking about adverbs. It was difficult to read. I got half-way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets until I just couldn't take anymore and stopped reading. My boys didn't ask for anymore, so I moved on to reading other books to them.

Fast forward again to March 2017.

Now, I have 4 children between the ages of 1 and 10. I was singing lullabies and reading Goodnight Moon to get my youngest to go to sleep at night.  After several, several, several weeks of reading Goodnight Moon every night, I asked the kids to suggest a new book to read. One of them suggested Harry Potter.

I groaned. Not again.

But, I was out-voted, so I reluctantly picked up the books. Every night I read a chapter from The Sorcerer's Stone. Again, I found the adverbs grating my nerves. However, I found a new determination to read at least until Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This has remained my favorite HP movie and I was curious to see how the story was handled in the book. After all, the books are inevitably better than the movies, and I wanted to read more about Sirius Black.

We finished the first book, and I made it through the second. Finally, I figured I could finish with the third. That was as far as I was willing to go.

But, something happened.

I don't know how, or exactly when (probably with the third book), I began to enjoy reading about Harry Potter. Actually, I was slightly disappointed with myself. After all these years of finding The Boy Who Lived irritating, I was starting to get interested in the books.

After we finished reading The Prisoner of Azkaban, I asked my kids if we should continue with the series or take a break from HP and move onto other books. Here I was out-voted (I should be getting used to this), so we continued with Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. The ending of that book is probably what clinched it for me. The resurrection of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was a powerfully gripping scene. Adverbs aside, that scene was good! Page-turning, suspenseful, exciting, and scary!

Okay, so it took JK Rowling about 4 books to make me a fan. After that, I was eager to keep reading to my kids, even after my youngest had already fallen asleep at night, I just kept reading to the older kids. Now, its became our bedtime routine for all of us to gather round the rocking chair after pajamas and teeth brushing are finished so I can read the next chapter. And that's how we continued our nights from March until October. This is actually the first time that I can recall that I read an entire series back-to-back. Most times, I take a break in between reading books in a series.

What made reading these books even more enjoyable was the conversations I had with my children during those nights, too. They already knew I loved Professor Snape, but they couldn't understand why. They hated Snape. He was the bad guy! From watching the movies to the conclusion, I knew what to expect of Snape's character, so I kept quiet. Spoilers! My younger two kids had never even seen any the HP movies, and my older two had watched them when they were so young that they didn't remember much.

So, after completing each book from the series, my kids and I would watch the corresponding movie with a great big bowl of buttered popcorn and then compare the differences between the books and the movies. We'd talk about character and plot development. They'd tell me their favorite parts and the characters they liked or didn't like. Our discussions would sometimes take up our reading time at night.

And, now our year (or almost) of reading Harry Potter has come to an end. We finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last week. We watched the Part 1 movie last weekend and have the Part 2 planned for this coming weekend. And then we're done.

To my amazement, I'm sad that we've finished. I want to read more! I enjoyed reading and living in the wizarding world so much that I feel bittersweet about finishing the books. Finally, after all these years (decades?) since my days of selling HP books, I now understand why my customers were clamoring for more. Writing style notwithstanding, these stories are good! Page-turning. Addicting. The story is the appeal. Not the writing style (adverbs!).

I'm now a Harry Potter fan. Yes, I admit it. But, I can honestly say that I never would have read these books if not for my children. I read them because they asked me to. I owe them!

Our Harry Potter year is finished, but our reading is not. We've established a routine that, frankly, I enjoy. I'm reluctant to end that, so this week we started reading a new book. I pulled together a list of possibilities, books that I loved to read when I was a kid. So many books on my list, but again, I let my kids vote.

They've chosen The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

My children are awesome! 

Are you a Harry Potter fan? What do you think of the books? Do you have a favorite? How about a favorite character? 

As always,
Happy Reading!