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Quote From the Science Fiction Writers of America Reading Series


Tin Star by Cecil CastellucciThe Science Fiction Writers of America has a successful Reading Series program in the Northwest. Now they’re starting another one here in Southern California. I believe today’s program at Mysterious Galaxy was the first one for this region. The visiting authors were Nalo Hopkinson, Vernor Vinge, and Cecil Castellucci.

Sister Mine by Nalo HopkinsonIt was an interesting program. Cecil Castellucci, a new author to me, read from her newest young adult science fiction novel, Tin Star. Nalo Hopkinson, who just won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction read an excerpt from Sister Mine, which was published last year. Verner Vinge read a short story he had had published in the journal Nature around 2000 or so. The three voices are very distinctively different and made for fascinating reading and listening. There was a question and answer session, too, then a book signing by all three preeminent authors.

At one point someone asked what they do when they run into writer’s block. A few ideas were tossed out; they all agreed, though, that sometimes it’s best to walk away and do something else. I compare that to realizing an answer while taking a shower. Nalo Hopkinson had the best description I’ve heard for resting your mind like that:

“the brain goes walk about”

Connie Willis


Around 20 years ago I first discovered and got hooked on Connie Willis’ work. I remember the first short stories that impressed me were “Even the Queen” and “The Last Dog in America”. Since then when I come across her work I pick it up. I finally was able to have my book club read her Doomsday Book next month. I also was tickled to see that Nancy Pearl devotes one section of Book Lust to Ms.Willis’ writing.

Her observant eye about people lead me to believe her wit makes her a comfortable sounding author. I quickly felt I would love to have her for a dinner guest to sit and talk. I was we would get along well and have fun visits.

Her newest book Blackout was released this month and she is on a book tour for it. One of her first stops was at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore here in San Diego. I was one of the first people in line and in the front row when she spoke. After listening to her talk, then talking to her twice while I had books signed, I believe that even more now. She’s down to earth and funny.

Connie, do you want to have lunch some time???

Turn Coat


Turn Coat by Jim ButcherDo you read the Dresden File novels by Jim Butcher? I blogged last year when he was here to sign Small Favor. I made sure I got up to Mysterious Galaxy again this year when he and his wife Shannon Butcher came for talking and signing.

I read Turn Coat over the weekend. You can tell Butcher is in the middle of the arc of his overall storyline. The action is non-stop in this book. Harry Dresden keeps biting off more than he can chew and still manages to swallow and digest it. This time he is protecting his enemy, Warden Morgan, from the White Council of Wizards. Harry is sure Morgan was framed. But proving that and unmasking a trator isn’t going to be easy.

Jim Butcher has excited me once again with this book. I started off slow, then couldn’t put it down (even though I had to so I could sleep and go to work). My biggest problem was it finished too soon (and not soon enough if you understand what I mean – I kept wanting to know what was next?) and the next book isn’t going to be out until next year. He gave us a teaser about the next Dresden book – “(—) was on my doorstep with a small girl. ‘This is our daughter.’ she said.”

999 and Alps Vacation Challenge – February Report


Promises in Death by J.D. RobbNow I have 14 books read for the 999 challenge. If I stay on this track I’ll finish nicely in December. I’m currently reading the new J.D. Robb that came out this week, Promises in Death, so that will add another one in my 2009 reads.

Actually, 2009 books won’t be hard. I walked into Mysterious Galaxy today to purchase Promises and Among the Mad, the new Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear. While there I found three other books I want/need to buy – Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (2008, not 2009), The Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz, and Horizon, the 4th Sharing Knife novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. But I couldn’t afford 5 books at full price, so I only bought the 2 today. I’ll get the others at Mysterious Galaxy later…

The 999 Challenge is on target. I’m not so sure about the Alps vacation target. I only have another 5 weeks and haven’t any clues for Heidelberg, the Alps, or Lucerne. I’ll use Among the Mad for London even if it takes place 75 years ago. I’ll look for translations, if I can, to further both challenges at once. We’ll see…

Conference and Graduation Over


The MLA conference in Chicago ended and I flew home to meet out-of-town family who are visiting for my younger daughter’s college graduation. After the graduation were the parties and the family get togethers. The last one is tomorrow, then family flies home and on Wednesday I return to work.

On my way out through the first night of the conference, I read two and one half books (finished Pitch Black, then read Starshine and Second Sight). After that I picked up No Defense by Kate Wilhelm to read throughout the rest of my (little) reading time at the conference and finished it on the way home. On the flight home I started Mrs. Mike. (Have I mentioned how much I like flying because it’s a good time to read?) I finally finished it this morning in between parties and gatherings.

That means five books came off Mt. Bookpile during that time. But I added two more since I came home. My brother was buying a book for my daughter’s graduation present, so I bought one at Barnes and Noble. Then I HAD to show off Mysterious Galaxy, and (of course) bought something there as well. I’ve now added two books to Mt. Bookpile. Of the five I took off, two were received in the last month. That means I’ve only removed one book net from Mt. Bookpile. It is a never ending battle that Mt. Bookpile will win…

Jim Butcher


All you Harry Dresden and/or Codex Alera fans, if you ever get a chance to see the author, Jim Butcher, in person, jump at it! Unfortunately, the only good picture I was able to get is this one where he almost looks menacing. Instead he’s impish, has a wicked sense of humor, personable, sardonic and often laughs at himself.

He was at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego today. He’s promoting his newest Harry Dresden novel, Small Favor. It’s no secret if you’ve visited my web site that I like this urban fantasy series a lot. So when I saw he was coming, I jumped at it.

He answered questions for an hour. The questions ranged from his Dresden Files and Codex Alera books to the upcoming graphic novels to the Dresden Files television show to his wife and son to his future ideas after the Alera and Dresden story arcs are done to how he got started in writing. He enjoys playing with his audience, more than once saying “You’ll have to wait and see…” or “I’m not telling.”

Then, of course, Jim Butcher signed our books. He signed every one of his books put in front of him. There were over 125 people in line for signatures. The first time each of us were allowed to have him sign 3 books. He was in a buoyant mood and not in a rush, so he agreed to sign any others after the line had finished the first time. The second time you could take as many books as you wanted. So I now have all 10 of my Dresden file books signed.

Actually, the hardest part was standing in line inside Mysterious Galaxy and not walking out a few hundred dollars broker. I was good – I only bought one book today (I had been in and bought the newest Dresden File book on Wednesday) and that one will be a gift.

Mt. Bookpile


One of my links over on the right is to The Reader’s Place, a smaller website where a group of us chat about whatever we want that is book related. That is where I learned about Mt. Bookpile. I discovered it was the perfect name for all those unread books sitting in two or three boxes, a couple bags, and at least 3 bookshelves.

Mt. Bookpile tends to grow more than shrink. I’m always borrowing books from the local library as well so am not reading exclusively from my own stash. I have a policy of reading one library book, then a Mt. Bookpile book, switching between the two. But Mt. Bookpile doesn’t shrink.

Dragon Harper by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffreyI receive books for review – so those have to go to the top of Mt. Bookpile. Otherwise, publishers wouldn’t send them any more. I buy new books – today it was Todd and Anne McCaffrey‘s newest Pern novel, Dragon Harper. He was at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego, so he signed it and his other books that I own as well. That’s another book for Mt. Bookpile (sorry, though, Mr. McCaffrey, it won’t go directly to the top).

I’m forever popping into the library used bookstore – newer paperbacks for 50 cents and hardbacks for $3 are hard to resist. My daughter works for a library in the Los Angeles county library system, and I’ll get books from her Friends of the Library book table. Then, when my (or her) library has a big book sale, I can be counted on to walk away with a huge pile.

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline WinspearI do get things off – in the last few weeks I’ve written new reviews for Hot, Once Smitten Twice Shy, An Incomplete Revenge, and Christmas Around the World. But I’ve also taken Rosie Dunne, Red, Eat Cake, A Savage Place, White Lies, Divine Evil, and Beautiful Lies off Mt. Bookpile. Despite Christmas, I may have actually made Mt. Bookpile shrink a bit.

But next week I’ll be going to the big flea market and rock show that gathers in Quartzsite, Arizona, in January and February every year. I’m sure I’ll be shopping for books there, as well as kitchen gadgets. Something tells me those empty book case spots will get filled quickly.