my bookshelves--the living room collection

I've been busy writing guest posts for other blogs this week, so I'm giving you a little something different today.

Here are pictures of my bookshelves. These don't include the about twenty or so fiction and nonfiction books scattered about my house (my husband swears there are more and that they're breeding under the bed--and they say that I have the imagination). I also maintain bathroom and bedroom collections, but these are not for public viewing--you should really thank me for that.

The shelving units below are arranged in no particular order; that is the summer project that I intend to undertake along with getting rid of that striped wallpaper and repainting my stairwell.

The first unit is often referred to as: that great bunch of books by the stairs. These shelves contain fiction and nonfiction, including a four volume set of The Taoist Classics, a three volume set of The Art of War, a four volume set of The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, and Montague Summers' work Werewolf.

Note the expensive cat toys beneath the sofa but no cat. That's because he is off in another part of the house, busily playing with a piece of paper.

Here is a close-up of the top shelf:

I call the next shelving unit my Santa Muerte shelf for obvious reasons (the Saint Death on the top shelf/left side is a DVD, not a book). Here we have works on paganism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, in addition to some of my favorite books for research: Satan's Rhetoric, The Apocalyptic Imagination, Demons and the Devil, and The Devil.

I found the cross at a flea market and purchased it for displays. As you can tell, my cats also love their scratching post, which they always use ... good kitties.

So what's on your bookshelves?

ebook only formats?

I've hesitated writing about this subject, primarily because I don't have hard numbers on how many people in my area own computers. However, I cringe when I hear some authors advocate ebooks to the exclusion of print (the fabled "death of print"), and a few publishers who are toying with the idea of moving toward an ebook only format for some of their titles.

Personally, I think this is a short-sighted approach that panders to a niche market. In the long run, an entire demographic of potential readers are shut away from books.

For the record: I work in a community college library. I also live in a very rural area. Our population is roughly 93,643 for the entire county (this number comes from the 2010 census). Compare this with neighboring Guilford County which has a population of roughly 488,406 people.

Out of this population, Rockingham County has approximately 14,396 people living below the poverty level. These 14,396 people, in all probability, are not going to own an ereader or a computer. So if you choose to publish exclusively in ebooks, you are going to miss approximately 14,396 potential readers.

Let's look at neighboring Guilford County with its much higher population of 488,406, and of that number, 73,375 people are living under the poverty level. Are we excluding these 73,375 people from the opportunity to read for pleasure?

Should we gravitate toward exclusively using the ebook format for certain titles, we can add 14,396 to 73,375 and get a total of 87,771 people who will have missed an opportunity to read those titles.

When publishers and authors talk about ebooks, I don't think about cool gadgets and the wonderous cabilities of ebooks. I think about people who live under the poverty level. Having been there myself, I can attest as to where my money went: food, rent, insurance, etc. I didn't have extra money to spend on ereaders and computers. I didn't subscribe to cable because of the cost, and though cell phones weren't prevalent at that time, I can tell you now that those, as well, would have been a superfluous cost that would have been eliminated. I used the library to borrow books and when the library had a booksale, I purchased books from them. Second-hand bookstores were my favorite places to shop.

I look at studies that show how reading-comprehension can lead people out of poverty and I wonder what are we doing to ourselves when we limit certain titles exclusively to ebooks? Are we saying that the only people who get the opportunity to read are those wealthy enough to own ereaders and computers? Has the online community become so disconnected from reality that we believe that everyone, everywhere has electricty and computers?

Really?

Ebooks are wonderful for those who can afford both the equipment and the means by which to keep that equipment up-to-date; however, I think we also need to remember the people who rely on print as their only connection with reading. Otherwise, we limit them to a cycle of poverty, not just of money, but of the mind.

But!--some wit will surely propose--the people living under the poverty level are buying used books.

Yes, but those readers often remain loyal to the genres and authors they discover through second-hand books. When their circumstances change--and sometimes they do--they don't forget what it was like to have the opportunity to read books that other people discarded.

I never have.

where can I find a copy of Miserere?

Where can I find a copy of your book? That is probably the sweetest question you can ask any author.

Over the last few weeks, more and more people have been asking me where can they buy Miserere.

As much as I love supporting bookstores, I've had to direct people to online resources. There is no bookstore in the county in which I live, the closest ones are in Greensboro, which is approximately twenty-four miles away. None of the Barnes and Nobles nor the Books-A-Million stores carry my novel in stock. The same is true of the independent bookstores in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Winston-Salem, three cities that are farther afield than Greensboro, but still reasonably close to my area.

So if you're looking for a copy of Miserere, here is where your instant gratification needs can be met. Just click on the link for the format of your choice.

Amazon -- Trade paperback or ebook

Barnes and Noble -- Trade paperback or ebook

Baen -- Ebook

This doesn't mean that I'm backing off my stance for support of local bookstores. I encourage everyone to use their local bookstore first. I have several reasons:

  • local bookstores provide jobs and taxes
  • they host events that enable authors to cultivate a deeper relationship with their readers
  • they have knowledgeable staff who can help you find exactly what you're looking for

Those are just the first three that come to the top of my head. I'm sure if I thought about it a little more, I could come up with about twenty more reasons.

I can't describe what a warm and wonderful experience I've had at every local bookstore that I've had the opportunity to visit.

I can tell you about the cultural void that is left when you no longer have a local bookstore to enjoy.

So if you live near a bookstore, please, please support them.

However, if you want a copy of Miserere, to the best of my knowledge, you can only get it online.

If you see that rare creature Miserere in the wild, send me a photo and I'll post it on the blog.

Women in SF&F at Fantasy Cafe

I have a guest post up today over at the book blog Fantasy Cafe. Kristen has made the entire month of April Women in SF&F month and today is my turn. I talk about honoring your demons and why dark sides are important.

Check out Women in SF&F Month at Fantasy Cafe.

There are Tootsie Rolls ...

Urban fantasy, or is it? by Alex Bledsoe

Thanks to all the great bloggers who have (and have yet) to participate in my blog tour! I've got a couple more interviews coming up this week, but I thought today, we'd take a break from me and let someone else talk for a while.

My friend Alex Bledsoe, author of the Eddie LaCrosse series and those devilish vampires in Blood Groove and The Girls with Games of Blood, is taking the helm today to talk about urban fantasy and his newest novel, The Hum and the Shiver. I've had a chance to read an ARC of The Hum and the Shiver, and Alex once more shows off his versatile talent by dishing up a new tale that moves like a song on a summer night.

And there is a contest, so be sure you read for your chance to win a copy of The Hum and the Shiver.

For those of you who don't know, Alex grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland and twenty minutes from Nutbush. He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls and mustard, writes before six in the morning and tries to teach his two sons to act like they've been to town before. You can keep up with Alex on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, and read his blog here.

Urban Fantasy, Or Is It?

by

Alex Bledsoe

Elizabeth Bear defines urban fantasy thus: “In urban fantasy you don’t leave the chip shop and go to another world to find the unicorn. Rather, the unicorn shows up at the chip shop and orders the cod.”

But what do you call it if the unicorn has to bring his tacklebox and catch his own cod? Or climb on the tractor and put the weevil spray on his cotton field? What do you call the tropes of urban fantasy if they're no longer urban, but are still contemporary?

This is what I've run into trying to describe my next novel, The Hum and the Shiver, out in September from Tor.

It's set in the modern, contemporary, up-to-the-minute world. There are cars, trucks, cell phones and computers. But the characters are farmers, returning soldiers, and small-town ministers. They may brush up against faery magic, but they do it in the mountains of East Tennessee, not the gritty streets of Chicago or St. Louis.

So what is it?

The obvious inversion, "rural fantasy," seems kind of...blah. "Urban" implies trendy fashion, electronics, fast-paced transportation and the smell of exhaust pipes, which then makes a vivid contrast to "fantasy." "Urban" implies sophistication. "Rural," though, conjures up images of fields, forests and lakes, which are very much the traditional fantasy setting. And you have the same problem with terms such as "agrarian fantasy," "rustic fantasy," or "country fantasy." None of them imply modernity.

There are other synonyms: "pastoral" might work, except that my story has trucks running from highway patrolmen, knives drawn in anger and at least one mention of dangling intestines. "Arcadian" has a nice lilt, but most people wouldn't know what it means; same with "bucolic," which sounds like an advanced form of colic, and believe me, that's nothing anyone wants to experience.

Maybe my process is wrong, though. Is looking for antonyms to "urban" and/or synonyms for "rural" too obvious? Perhaps we need a totally unrelated term that connotes modern, yet rural, reality. Something that says farms, trailers, pickups and railroad crossings.

I like "dirt road." "Dirt" implies the rural location, but "road" carries connotations of modern vehicles. Which gives us the term, "dirt road fantasy."

What do you think? Is "dirt road fantasy" a valid opposite for "urban fantasy"? Will it ever catch on? Or do you have an even better idea?

The best suggestion will win a free signed copy of The Hum and the Shiver.

The contest will end July 24, 2011.

an interview is up at My Bookish Ways

I've got an interview up today with Kristin at My Bookish Ways where I'm talking about Miserere, libraries, and early writing influences among other things ... Cool questions and ANOTHER chance to win a copy of Miserere at Kristin's blog:

I grew up in a rural area where we were within walking distance of nothing. So every Saturday morning, my dad would round all three of us up and drive us into town to the Reidsville Public Library. We’d get there around nine in the morning and stay until the library closed at noon. We were allowed to check out as many books as we liked, and I spent the whole summer reading. I think it was that early exposure to the library that really defined my love of literature. It’s one of the reasons I love libraries so much and see their value to our communities ... [READ MORE]

Rady--Chapter Two by Kacey Condon

Chapter two of Rady is now up! Kacey takes the story I started and puts a really cool spin on Rady. Here's a teaser:

Early morning was the worst time for Jimmy. Even before Grandma was gone, in the last year he had been expected to wake his brother. Granddaddy proved how important that job was early last fall.

“The most important thing you can do is be ready to cut yourself. If you hesitate, there will never be time to make up for it. Now, fold this up like I showed you, and let’s get to it.”

Jimmy took the knife from Granddaddy’s hand and, holding the razor edge away from his body, pressed the tiny button. The snapping sound always made him jump, but his hands moved without thought by now. He pushed the smooth heaviness into his jeans pocket and tried to breathe back the fear. [Read more]

Keep up with Rady in my sidebar. I'll be posting new chapters as they're written ...

A place I'd like to visit long term ...

Over with Jessica at her lovely blog Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile where I'm talking about the one (or two or three--never ask me to make a decision) place I'd love to visit long-term:

Cool question, Jessica. Um, let me see, right now I would have to pick Spain. I had to take two years of college Spanish, and during the classes, we also discussed Spanish and Latin American culture. I just fell in love with both. [READ MORE]
And don't forget! You've got three different places where you can put your name (or flash fiction) in the hat to win a copy of MISERERE:
  1. At Brenda Drake's blog where you can win a copy of MISERERE by commenting;
  2. At the Night-Bazaar this week, you can comment for a chance to win; and
  3. RIGHT HERE, where your super writing skills can win all kinds of cool prizes including a query critique or a 25 or 50 page critique from my rock-star agent Weronika Janczuk!
This party isn't over yet ...

Review of MISERERE at My Bookish Ways

Just had an awesome review of Miserere at Kristin's book blog, My Bookish Ways:

Miserere is a hard one to review. Not because I didn’t like it, actually, I adored it, but it is simultaneously one of the most complex, yet compulsively readable novels I’ve ever read. Topping out at just under 300 pages, Ms. Frohock manages to pack a wallop of a story into her pages. Lush and emotional, it takes the reader on a journey about betrayel and redemption, and leaves them gasping ... [READ MORE]

And don't forget: you've got several chances to score a free copy of MISERERE:

  1. At Brenda Drake's blog where you can win a copy of MISERERE by commenting;
  2. At the Night-Bazaar this week, you can comment for a chance to win; and
  3. RIGHT HERE, where your super writing skills can win all kinds of cool prizes including a query critique or a 25 or 50 page critique from my rock-star agent Weronika Janczuk!

Party on ... it's the 4th!