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I’m Can’t Be Faithful

After seeing this week’s topic, I nearly skipped out on my post. Because really? One book? What is it about the state of our civilization that only superlatives will do? What is it about the state of my personality that I can’t give you an answer to the simple ‘my favorite book’ question. Just out of morbid curiosity, has anyone ever asked another human being “What’s your favorite book, ever?” and gotten a single title volume with no “Wait! I forgot about . . .” follow up??

So many loveable books in the world. I have to hang my head and confess that I must be a book slut. I can’t be faithful to just one. I’m sorry. I know I’ve let you all down. I’m just not wired that way. I mean, if you asked me which of *my* books was my fav, that answer is easy. The first one published. Enemy Within was magic in a way. Those characters are better than I am. By a long shot. And I have no clue how that happened. Although, (WARNING: Blatant plug forthcoming!) I’m surprisingly fond of a sword and sorcery short story that just came out in the two volume Thunderanthology THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD (Seventh Star Press)

It’s set in ancient Egypt. After a fashion. Maybe I should call it pre-ancient Egypt. The temple of Sekhmet maintains a standing army of women. The heroine is dispatched by the priestesses to investigate offenses against the gods. If you like sword and sorcery, check out the anthology. It’s e-only, at the moment, but that’s to your benefit. The e-books are $4. When it comes out in print at the end of the month, the dead tree version will be $14.

This story connected me, in a way, with one of my favorite authors: Andre Norton. In my more ego-centric moments, I like to think she might have written something like it.  I know I’ve talked about her books before.  She’s fresh in my mind right now, because my husband and I have been attempting to make room in our storage unit for more stuff. In order to put more stuff in the unit, old stuff must depart the unit. So we go through our remaining worldly possessions on a regular basis, trying to weed out things we can live without. The single greatest space hog in that storage unit? You called it. Books.

And for me, the greatest bulk of my books are all Andre Norton’s – as in an entire foot trunk worth. Amusing aside – Andre Norton, who’s real name was Alice, wrote scifi and fantasy in the era when women *didn’t*. Hence the male pseudonym. My father, who’d introduced me to scifi in all forms, insisted that Andre Norton was male. Insisted. 😀

Regardless. I was well on my way to owning everything she’s ever written when we moved aboard the sailboat. Now, I’m attempting to replace my tattered, well-loved paper versions of her books with Kindle versions. Only one problem. Most of her books were contracted and written long before the advent of electronic publishing. Few, if any, of her contracts ever addressed electronic rights. A group of volunteer fans are converting her books as the enter the public domain. I snap them up on Kindle when that happens, and then I sort through my paper books so I can donate the duplicate.

So if you really, really pressed hard for me to pick just one book in all the world to be my favorite, I’d have to pick one of her books. It would break my heart, because there are so many others to love – but – it was Andre Norton who first gave me female protagonists who weren’t waiting for anyone to save them. They were getting out in the world with whatever skill they had, no matter how paltry, and acting on their own behalf. None of her books are romances, there are hints – little tidbits sprinkled amid the ray guns and sword fights. Not quite enough for me, thus, I write romance. Mostly.  The sword and sorcery short follows in Andre Norton’s footsteps. It’s heavy on the swordplay with just a hint of potential romance. Oh. And did I mention the battle cats? Yeah. Totally Saturday morning cartoon story telling on my part.

So. Want to make a start with Andre Norton? Pick your poison. Scifi? FORERUNNER FORAY or ORDEAL IN OTHERWHERE Fantasy? WARE HAWK or THE JARGOON PARD YA? THE PRINCE COMMANDS

Now. You want to maroon me on a desert island with only one book – not my Kindle? Robin McKinley. SUNSHINE.

Glances back at the list. Uhm. Is it legal for me to be a romance writer when none of my favs are – ya know – romances?

Series Love: Read, Relive, Rejoice

Sexy muscular man isolated on blackWell, my beloved MANhandlers, this week’s little bit o’ sexiness is here, ready for some serious appreciation. Gorgeous, isn’t he?

There is a simple truth in my life: I’m a literary series whore. Yes, yes. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. I’m a total Alpha leader in the SLUT regime. (SLUT = Series Lovers Uniting Together). I read my first series in college and was hooked. The book? Outlander by the infamous Diana Gabaldon. Again, I know it’s shocking. I blame her for my series love, and rightly so.

Three of my favorite series of all times are Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld (LotU) and Larissa Ione’s Demonica and Lords of Deliverance series. Why? Recurring characters done well. When I get into a series, I’m almost obsessive compulsive about it. I have to real All the Books. But there are some series I just can’t get into. I won’t name names because it’s pointless — it’s just my taste and says nothing about the quality of the authors’ works. Knowing I’m going to get a little nutty about reading everything in a series (and in order, thanks), I tend to be a little snobbish about the series I pick up. But Gena and Larissa? Doesn’t matter what they write — I’ll read it. And if it’s in a series, new or old, I’m all over it.

Pile of books on a black backgroundThe greatest thrill for me in reading a series is meeting secondary characters who, at some point, get their own books. It’s like literary foreplay, isn’t it? Teasing and tempting and yet waiting for the big payoff? And when it gets there, and it’s done right, it’s so worth the wait! I typically go through and re-read the series when a new book is coming out, just so I’m emotionally connected to the players. It’s just my modus operandi. The appeal that a series is so well-written that I can read and re-read it and still receive ridiculous satisfaction? That’s a long-term love affair right there.

As for writing, I’ve found series flip my switch. I fall in love with the characters in a much more intimate way and want to play in their world agains. I love to create secondary characters readers want stories for (hello, Darius fans!). My aim is to scratch that itch at some point. Always.

I’m seriously interested in finding out whether or not I’m on a sparsely populated island of series lovers or if the world is rich with them. Give me a shout out and let me know what you think about the value of series. Cheers!

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