Exciting news about… me!

Greetings my fabulous readers ~

Life really can become a whirlwind at times with opportunities popping up when you least expect them. One such opportunity came when Luna Station Quarterly put out a call for bloggers to join their team. I filled out their application hoping but not knowing what to expect. And then I got the fateful email: “Welcome” and “Come join us!” To which I replied, “Yes!”

There were more words involved, but the basic gist is that I will have a monthly column with Luna Station Quarterly where I get to highlight and share titles from small presses, a huge passion of mine. I am not sure of all the particulars just yet for when it will start, but I will have all that information soon and will provide updates and links.

I have titled my column “Beyond the Front Tables” because I want to focus on the stories out there readers may have missed or that bookstores don’t have readily available. Discovering “new-to-me” authors is proving to be a wonderful adventure and I am reading some truly amazing tales I can’t wait to share with everyone.

So, stay tuned my fellow bibliophiles and until next time, happy reading!!

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Reading Challenges? Bring it!

In the wonderful world of Twitter you never know what delightful (or possibly crazy) conversations you might happen into while scrolling through your feed. This past evening I entered into a wonderful chat with @MMOGC (on Twitter or her site: mmogamerchick.wordpress.com) about various authors we are looking forward to reading. I had mentioned I wanted to read more backlists this year with a focus on diverse reading.

In previous years, I typically suffered from “Front Table Syndrome;”  failing to seek out more titles and authors outside my stagnant reading habits. I wanted to break out of the box and @MMOGC suggested checking out the Worlds Without End Reading Challenges. Whew nelly, what a fun site!

It did take some time to add the books I wanted to read as part of the challenges. But it wasn’t impossible (hint, after you search for the book click on the actual title to add to your lists by clicking submit – took me a minute to figure that one out). I signed up for both the “Women of Genre Fiction” and “Clear the Shelves” challenges. “Women of Genre Fiction” involves reading 12 books by new-to-you woman authors and “Clear the Shelves” involves reading 15 books, plus five reviews, that have been gathering dust on your bookshelves.

I used a lot of the titles I listed in my Back List Party post from a few weeks ago along with some new ones I have come across that sound intriguing. The idea of joining the challenges with other avid genre readers is exciting and pushes me to really focus on every moment where I could be reading.

It will be fun to interact with the other readers in the Worlds Without End forums and those participating on Twitter. Chatting about books is pretty much the highlight of any day and I look forward to more actively sharing my reading in this coming year.

What reading challenges will you push yourself to try this year?

A Thank You Note to Authors and Bookmakers

I wanted to write a quick post to say thank you to all the writers, artists, editors, and publishing gurus that make books possible. Creating books is a labor of love and not an easy task. There are thousands upon thousands of books produced and put into the ether throughout the year.

It is a basically a Thunderdome for books: “10,000 books enter, one book leaves.” It is a vicious career path and I commend anyone that voluntarily enters that blood bath. I try to support the industry from this “low man on the totem pole” position I occupy the best I can in a variety of ways.

I read widely, I give books as gifts for every occasion, I spend nearly every spare dollar on books (more than I can keep up with for reading or with shelf space), I talk about books and give recommendations to friends and co-workers. I try to spread the word, and my love, for books.

I will be eternally grateful to the authors that have pursued their passion of the written word. The ones that couldn’t ignore those voices whispering stories deep in their brain. It is a lonely path, one fraught with doubt and agony, an often thankless endeavor.

But I want to send my “THANK YOU!!” to all those that work tirelessly, hours upon hours, creating and polishing all the books I love to read and own. I am but one voice, but I will use it to shout from the rooftops how much I love you all for doing what you do every day.

Short Story Highlight: E. Lily Yu via @clarkesworld and TERRAFORM

For longer than anyone could remember, the village of Yiwei had worn, in its orchards and under its eaves, clay-colored globes of paper that hissed and fizzed with wasps.

Thus begins E. Lily Yu‘s tale “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.”  I only read it last month but it was originally published in the Clarkesworld Issue 55, April 2011.  In this tale Yu weaves a vivid world within a world where wasps and bees have an entire empire and way of life unbeknownst to the human world around them, at first. I don’t want to give too much away, as the joy of discovering while reading is too great with this story, just know you should go read it right now. Go, read it. I will wait…

See what I mean?! The story just sucks you right in. You easily see things not just from the bee and wasp perspective but the brief transitions to the human world fills you with foreshadowing and dread, typical humans, sigh.

E. Lily Yu has a some additional stories for you to enjoy via Clarkesworld:

The Urashima Effect” by E. Lily Yu, Issue 81, June 2013

This story gave me chills but not from fright. A man awakens, after a few years in stasis, on a solitary journey to a distant planet and after learning of a terrible change in plans must make a life-changing decision. It is an intense story for one that is so simple; but then, Yu is very adept at using just the right amount of words to create the images she wants to conjure in your mind.

Daedalum, the Devil’s Wheel” by E. Lily Yu, Issue 87, December 2013

Here is a story that will require multiple passes to ensure you didn’t miss anything. The surreal one-sided conversation is almost psychedelic with just the right number of glimmers into reality that you wonder if you yourself haven’t had a similar conversation in the wee hours of desperation.

A very recent story with TERRAFORM:

Local Stop on the Floating Train” by E. Lily Yu, published December 22, 2014

Whew. This story. While set during an undefined point in the future, what happens to Lela on the train could just as easily, and sadly, happen today. It is a simple and yet powerful commentary on race relations in a dystopian future. Just go read the story and then share it.

* * *

E. Lily Yu is one of those authors I will always be keeping an eye out for. I was drawn in by her short fiction and I am desperately hoping for either a collection or a novel to come out at some point. According to her website Yu is currently a doctoral student at Cornell and there is a more extensive listing of her writing here.

Her ability to paint the most glorious worlds is astounding and I can’t read enough of her work. I haven’t read all of her listed work on the website, some I am only just now learning about and shall eagerly be seeking it out.

Have any of you read E. Lily Yu? Let me know what you think of the stories and happy reading!

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Short Story Highlight. A LOT more to come here as I think short fiction is often pushed to the side too quickly versus being relished and passed around.

2015 and I are going to be GREAT friends!

This year is bringing a lot of change and new endeavors for me. Just to name a few:

  • I moved into my own place in November and am finally getting settled (still a lot to do).
  • I start graduate school January 5th working towards my master’s degree.
  • I am working in a new department at work.
  • I will be attending my first major conventions this year: World Horror Convention and World Fantasy Convention.

Even with all that I have going on I want to do even more with my time and energy. I have many personal goals I am going to also work towards during this coming year. In no particular order:

  1. Learn to knit/crochet. (I want to be able to make gifts for people.  A blanket and a book will make for the best gift packs.)
  2. Read more. (I spent way too much time allowing life and TV to get in the way. Not this year.)
  3. Track my reading. (I have never paid much attention to my reading but this is going to change going forward. I want to read more diversely, read beyond the “front table” and seek out back list titles and small press authors.)
  4. Take better care of me. (I am too quick to turn to processed foods and ignore working out and allow a sedentary lifestyle to take root. This year I am focusing on me and my health. I also want to support local farmers buying produce directly from the farm.)
  5. Write. Write. Write. (Dedicating time to developing this blog and finding my voice is a huge priority for me. I also want to get back to my fiction writing, something I put on hold too many years ago.)
  6. Take more pictures. (Photography is another hobby that brings me great joy and something I have neglected. There are a lot of beautiful hiking spots near here and I will be exploring them more fully with camera in hand.)

I don’t have specific resolutions per se, I want to make 2015 the year I finally start living life to the fullest, making my goals and dreams a priority.  It is going to be a full and busy year but an awesome one.

I am sure it will be a bumpy road but I welcome the challenge. So, 2015 let’s see what you have to offer.