Saturday, April 30, 2011

Social Saturday: Outside the Box Marketing

My husband rides for a professional cycling team here in town, and mentioned the other day that expired sponsors are about to come off the jersey for next year. For a spot on the back of a cyclist, he told me, it would cost about $300 for three years.

Seems like a reasonable fee for a sponsor, when you consider how often his friends bike (daily) and wear those jerseys (often). It got me thinking about some of the outside the box marketing efforts other authors I know have taken to promote their books. Over the years, I have done all sorts of things to get the word out: keychains, bookmarks, tea bags, and a variety of goofy knick-knacks. I've even bought into expensive magazine ads with little return. One author I know spends her entire budget on sponsoring bullriders to promote her cowboy romances, and claims to do quite well.

A bullring would be the last place I'd expect to find a romance author's ad, but if you think about it, her URL probably stands out among other "manly" advertisements and gets click-throughs out of curiosity. Of course, one can't say that women don't watch bull riding events - we're into NASCAR and wrestling, so why not?

Her approach has inspired me to think outside the box as well. My first thought, unfortunately, came too late. That was to buy Dead Barchetta shirts to give to people going to Rush shows. With the tour going to Europe, I don't know if I'd get any done in time, much less get volunteers to wear them. There are other concerts happening this summer, so I can still consider it. I don't know of any tribute bands that need a sponsor, but if you're in one you're more than welcome to contact me.

In the meantime, I might take Hubby's team up on the offer to sponsor them. At the very least it could mean sales there.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - Nevermore?

I had mentioned before that I had a front row ticket to Baltimore, but alas had to turn it away because I couldn't make the trip. My friend instead took his daughter as a graduation gift, and she later caught a pick from Alex. What a bonus! Here are the pictures texted to me throughout the evening. I have also learned, too, that a copy of my book made it to the show, and had a better seat than I've ever had at a Rush show! Here's hoping somebody is on a plane or tour bus reading it and not grimacing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If You Can Stand One More Blog on 99 Cent eBooks

Pricing your eBooks at 99 cents is an effective marketing ploy to win new readers. Pricing your eBooks at 99 cents does a great disservice to your work. Pricing your eBooks at 99 cents stimulates interest in new authors. Pricing your eBooks at 99 cents implies your book is crap. The price model of the independent/self/vanity whatever you want to call it publishing nation has polarized readers and authors, far as I can tell from blogs and Twitter. When I attended RT in Los Angeles last month, I saw something I never expected to find at this conference - panels on self-publishing. Thanks to the success of people like Amanda Hocking and HP Mallory, the trend is difficult to ignore. Every time I check All Romance eBooks to see what's new I find familiar authors are now putting out their own stuff alongside publisher releases. Whether it's for the thrill of doing it yourself, or to offer works that don't fit the legacy mold, I don't ask. For me, it's been a six-of-one issue.

I have titles with small digital presses, and I have done some of my own. The reasons for the indie works vary:
  • One work, a Christian YA, had been through two publishers already. I didn't want to try to sell it to another house.
  • Some stories I'd written did not meet publisher word length requirements.
  • Some stories I'd written did not meet genre/heat level preferences.
Everybody has a reason, and the one advantage to self-publication is that you can set your own price point. People bemoan the agency model of $9.99, and I am not really a fan of paying more than that for a book regardless of the format. In researching how other authors work, I decided upon the HP Mallory rubric: $2.99 for a new release, then discount to $.99 after a certain amount of time or when the sequel is released. I personally do not discount because I believe the books are crap. If I thought my books were not fit for public consumption, they wouldn't be for sale. As it happens I still have a means of income, and the eBook sales nicely supplement that. I can tell you that playing around with price points has resulted in sales. Not Mallory numbers, but the night is young. I should note, too, not all of my books are 99 cents. On occasion I do fix a price as an experiment to see if it's noticed. I'd rather have ten 99 cent books sold in a month than zero sold at $2.99. At least I'd be making something.

I also do not plan to stop writing, too. Therefore, rest assured you will see more from me. It'll cost you, but not that much.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wine Wednesdays

If you're reading a blog called Me Want Food, naturally you'll expect talk about food. I do like to talk about it, probably as much as I enjoy eating it. Of course, as one eats one must drink, so for the next few months I plan to devote Wednesdays to wine. I feel I'm qualified to blog a bit about it - I have enough bottles in our makeshift wine cellar. A bottle a day...that's a year's worth of blogs right there.

Anyway, for this introductory post I thought I'd list some of my favorite area wineries. Around here, people call Virginia "Napa East," because there must be a hundred or so vineyards. We haven't visited them all, yet. One of these days we're taking a limo tour to hit as many as possible - there are many in Northern Virginia we haven't gotten to yet. In the meantime, we like to visit the following when we can:

Pollak Vineyards
Veritas Vineyards
King Family Vineyards
Blenheim Vineyards
Cardinal Point Winery
Flying Fox Winery

So keep an eye out for what we're drinking from here!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Excerpt Tuesday - Jack of Hearts

My first ever M/M erotic piece happened to be the first such work Phaze Books published. This is my excerpt for the week, hope you enjoy it.

(BTW, people have asked if I plan to write more in this series. I got sidetracked into other things, though I had intended for a third story. It may still happen, never say never.)


The second he saw her hands extended to welcome him, he no longer felt apprehensive. The handshake was firm, her nails painted a smooth, red lacquer with nary a crack or bubble marring the finish. Blood red, so smooth one might expect the color to ripple like a tide pool when touched. These were not the hands of a charlatan, not of a person who might bite her nails in fear that her deceits might be uncovered. This woman, this dark, sensuous woman draped in fringe and knotted lace lining cuffs, collars, and hems, knew her business.

Lars folded a crisp fifty dollar bill and a rose quartz pendant into her waiting palm and took a seat in the plush chair opposite hers, then touched his elbows to his knees. He hovered over the splayed deck of cards on the table before them. "You can dispense with any theatrics," he told her. "Just tell me what I need to know, not what I want to hear."

He hoped, however, that what the psychic had to say was what he wanted to hear. He wanted to hear that Lila had indeed become reincarnated and now lived in this age. Exactly how old Lila would be now was immaterial; if she were elderly, he would change her and restore her youth. If she were still a child, he would wait. Vampires only had time ... and the desire to feed. Besides, he had waited this long ... a few mortal years were nothing to him.

The soothsayer said nothing as she pocketed the cash, then turned the heart-shaped quartz in her palm. He had given it to Lila nearly two hundred years ago as a promise to marry; she had been wearing it the day Lars was changed, the day his creator slashed past the ribbon around her throat as she blocked the vampire from Lars in a weak attempt to protect him. The memory of that terror--Lila's shrieks of pain, his creator's cold indifference--bubbled in his memory as he watched card after card slide through the dark woman's fingers. Lars swallowed back the pain and tried to focus on the deck. This was not a time to mourn; he would not let his anger overshadow what could potentially be the rediscovery of his joy.

He let the whisper of each turned card absorb the echoes in his head, until there was nothing but steady breathing and rapid shuffling, quiet yet tense. The woman's voice was a honeyed purr that tickled the back of his neck and slithered up his skull.

"Something very important was taken from you."

"Don't tell me what I already know," he countered tersely. Her retort was a frown that pinched her lovely face. Lars watched her rifle through the remainder of the deck until nothing remained facing upward but three cards, all hearts. She bit her lip. Dark eyes widened. Lars edged forward in his seat.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I'm Reading: Superstar

Everybody has that one guilty pleasure - that one album played over and again, that one movie we can't help but watch when it runs on TNT. Ged forbid somebody should discover this secret and point and laugh. I think for a lot of people, The Carpenters fell into that category. Two very talented musicians, but always straddling the line between cool and uncool. Let's face it, would you run out buy every album by a band that President Nixon loved? Yeah.

Eventually you might, but you're not likely to brag about it like Tricky Dick did. Me, I don't own any Carpenters albums, but it doesn't necessarily mean I don't like their work. They have a number of songs I like, and once I start listening I find it's difficult to turn to something else. Karen Carpenter's voice has a lot to do with that, and it's sad to know we aren't going to hear anything new from her again.

I couldn't tell you what it is about the Karen Carpenter story that fascinates me. I saw that made for TV movies years ago, and this new biography on Karen opens with mention of the same flick. I remember thinking it sad that she had this wonderful voice and creative success, yet never seemed happy. If you believe the movie, nobody wanted to help her remedy that. So when I saw this book, I felt compelled to buy it for my rock music book review blog. I'm only four chapters in, but riveted. Look for the review on the other side.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guest Blog - Robert Capko

Me Want Food welcomes Robert Capko to Guest Blog Sunday! If you are interested in writing a guest blog here, please do. See our guest blog information page.

1) Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

My first novel SAY GOODBYE was just published. It is an Action/Adventure Thriller about an Air Force pararescueman named John Paxton. Pararescue Jumpers (PJs) are the Special Forces operators that go pretty much anywhere in the world to rescue people. Their primary mission is to rescue downed airmen behind enemy lines, but they do much more than that. They are also on standby for all the manned space missions ready to rescue the astronauts should something go wrong. They are also involved in civilian rescues both on land and at sea in the most extreme circumstances.

Here is a little bit about the book:

John Paxton is a man who understands duty—both to his family and to his country. As a highly decorated pararescueman in the Air Force, he's risked his own life numerous times to save the lives of others. He was the epitome of the pararescue motto: These Things We Do That Others May Live. But now that he's married with two small children, he's content as an instructor at Lackland Air Force Base.

Then Paxton is commanded to lead a team on a dangerous mission—supposedly to rescue the pilot of a stealth fighter shot down over Serbia. Yet, nothing is as it seems. As the mission goes from bad to worse, Paxton uncovers a deadly plot that threatens National Security. But to fight an enemy with ties to one of the most dangerous organizations on the planet, he risks not only his own life, but also the people he loves the most.

2) How did you become inspired to write this work?

I first learned about the PJs when I served in the Air Force. The more I learned about these heroes, the more I was convinced that their story needed to be told.

3) Did you have to do a lot of research to complete this work?

I did a tremendous amount of research spanning years. My research continues in support of future installments in the series.

4) Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?

I enjoy writing in the action/adventure genre the most. I grew up reading mostly books in that genre and I believe some of the most exciting, action-packed stories can be found there.

5) Are you published primarily in print or eBook, or both equally? Which format do you prefer and why?

I am published in both print and eBook. I am glad that it is available in both formats so the reader may choose how they prefer to enjoy my books.

6) Do you own an e-reader, or maybe two? How do you like it?

Actually, I do not. I love technology, but I still love the feel of a book in my hands. I love the feeling of moving through the pages and the excitement that builds as I get closer to the end wondering how the story is going to resolve itself.

Having said that, I probably am going to invest in an e-reader soon. There are just too many great new authors available only in eBook format.

7) What do you have planned writing wise for the rest of the year?

I’m putting the finishing touches on THE LONG ROAD HOME, the next book in the John Paxton series. We are hoping for a release in time for the Holidays.

8) Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?

My web page is:

Folks can join my fan page at:

Or you can follow me on Twitter:!/robertcapko

9) Desert Island quiz: you can only bring one album, one DVD set for your favorite TV show, and one movie. What are they?

For the album, I’d choose Spirit of Radio, Rush’s Greatest Hits.

For the DVD set of my favorite TV show I’d choose 24 (any season)

And for the movie, I’d probably choose The Departed.

You would hopefully allow me to bring some multimedia device to enjoy these on.

10) What was the last book that you read? What did you think?

I read Jak Phoenix by Matt D. Williams. It was a fun read with lots of adventure!

11) Who are your favorite authors in your primary genre?

There are so many great ones, it is hard to choose. I definitely enjoy Tom Clancy, Lee Child, Vince Flynn, Alistair MacLean, and John D. MacDonald.

12) What is the farthest you've traveled for a concert and who did you see?

I traveled to New Orleans to see James Taylor at Jazz Fest. What a great show!

13) Will we see you at any cons/signings soon?

There are a few in the works. Stay tuned!

14) Who do you like in the next World Series?

The Chicago Cubs, of course!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Author Saturday: Making it Through the Rain

I have to hand it to the good people of Philadelphia, they are hardcore. Several months ago I helped organize authors to work a booth at the annual Philadelphia Book Festival, which happened on April 16th. Unfortunately for the committee, Mother Nature had decided to organize a frelling storm to drench the entire East Coast at the same time. We started the morning gray and dreary and cold, and by 1PM the rain started.

We attracted a crowd during the first half of the festival, but by 2PM I chose to bail when the rain worsened. Nonetheless, people still strolled the area in raincoats and toting umbrella. A local author who joined us told me people do tend to show for events in the city, rain or shine, so I appreciate everybody who showed up and visited our booth.

While I was there, I took note of a few desirable titles and purchased them later for my Kindle:

Immaculate Deception - Scott B. Pruden

These guys had the booth next to us, and passed out promo that looked like a Bible tract - clever. The Kindle version is only $2.99.

Jon Templeton has three days to reunite with his wife, save the universe and return from the dead. It's going to be a busy weekend.

In a near future ravaged by killer hurricanes, rampant overdevelopment and increasingly underdressed waitresses, ex-newsman Jon Templeton has had the worst Thursday of his life.

He's forced to fight off an amorous co-worker at the PR job he hates, only to have his wife discover his admirer's panties in his pocket.

Now he's dead, interrupted on his way to his heavenly reward by Eli, an elderly Rastafarian surfer who claims to be the Supreme Being.

Still reeling from having lost any chance of redemption in his human life, Jon is offered a mission: Discover for the surprisingly clueless deity the true identity of Lucas Scheafer, deputy to the Rev. Lawrence Whitaker and his sultry wife, Veronica, leaders of the sexually free-wheeling Church of the New Revelation, headquartered in America's new Sin City, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Jon's quest is paralleled by that of Mako Nikura, reluctant heir to a weapons and aerospace fortune, who hopes to find the secret to his father's death and its connection to the domestic terrorist organization SHAG. Little do Jon and Mako know, but their paths lead to the same exceptionally odd - and potentially cataclysmic - destination.

Cue the Rocky Music - Mike Kunda

While walking to Whole Foods for breakfast, I caught sight of a guy dressed like Rocky Balboa in his leather jacket and black hat. He even had the walk down. I have a Rocky movie fetish, so I had to get this one.

Cue the Rocky Music is a memoir for anyone who’s ever dared to follow their dreams or told they couldn’t. Mike Kunda wanted to be Rocky Balboa. What he didn’t know, was that in thirty years he would be.

You won’t know whether to wince or smile as young Mike wears costumes and faces bullies with a lack of physical prowess. Mike goes toe-to-toe with life and finds the courage to fail on his terms.

After a series of connections with Sylvester Stallone, Mike’s life goes from movie reel to real, as he takes another step toward his ideal job as a Rocky Balboa impersonator in Philadelphia.

Will let you know what I think of them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - Moon Over Parma Bring My Love to Me Tonight

I think just about everybody I know in Rushlandia went to the Cleveland show. The city holds special significance to us as a fan base because Cleveland is where Rush was first introduced to America, thanks to Donna Halper. Cleveland is also home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, which has on occasion put Rush paraphernalia on display. Bear in mind, now, that the museum and the actual Hall of Fame are not necessarily connected...just in case you wonder why the museum would take their stuff and not induct them. The museum staff has no power over who gets in - that job belongs to a bunch overpaid people in New York City.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Call for Submissions: Phaze Books

Permission to forward granted.

Since 2004, Phaze Books has offered readers quality erotic romance and women's erotica. For 2012, we're looking for original, unpublished stories about hunky heroes and dynamic ladies who work overtime to experience passion and adventure. Authors are invited to submit works of 15K words or more to the following themed lines:

Blue Collar Heroes - We're looking for stories about hardworking hunks and heroines looking for more play beyond their "all work" lives. If you have a sizzling novel that gives a whole new meaning to the term "swing shift," we want to read it! Give us your sensual shopkeepers, candid carpenters, and wild and wanton waitstaff. Performance evaluations have never been hotter! All sub-genres of erotic romance welcome.

Business is Pleasure - Who says the corporate world has to be boring? Our white collar workers need love, too, so send us your stories of sexy office hijinks. Let's hear about what really went on at the company Christmas party, or in the mailroom after hours, or on that corporate retreat to Las Vegas. All sub-genres of erotic romance welcome.

Secret Passions - Everybody has a secret, and confession is good for the soul...and much more. Give us stories about secret crushes realized, double lives revealed, and the wildest of fantasies enjoyed.

We are now accepting submissions for these lines through the end of the calendar year, December 31, 2011. Please refer to our guidelines at for instructions on submitting your work, and please note in the header of your email for which line you are sending.

Phaze Books offers erotic romance and erotic in eBook and print formats. Our works are distributed through our website and third-party vendors, including All Romance eBooks,,, and others.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Going forward, I will dedicate Wednesdays on the blog to my unending pursuit of a fine glass of Cabernet Franc. However, I couldn't let the momentous occasion of 4/20 pass without some kind of celebration.

For the record: I am a joker, non-smoker, non-midnight toker. Not to say I haven't tried it (I've been to RushCon, what happens stays), but having research it a bit for scenes in Dare to Dream I have concluded it could be something beneficial if used in moderation for medicinal purposes. I came upon a quote from Rodney Dangerfield, who once said his doctor advised him not to smoke cigarettes - that weed was actually better for him.

So if you are concerned that I might morph into Cheech and/or Chong, no worries. Chocolate is still my drug of choice. My thighs don't thank me for it, but if they wanted me to stop they would have tried already.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Excerpt Tuesday: Erotic Romance Truth or Dare

For the next quarter or so, I thought it would be neat to excerpt my many works, a different one each week, and offer a peek of the story you won't find on any of the store sites. Since this is the first week, why not start with my first romance?

Truth or Dare is the first novel of the Dareville series, and it won't be the last. I promise to Ged, I am working on the fifth novel-length work. It will take a bit more research given the setting, but I hope to have it done. There are too many good stories left to tell in this little town. For now, enjoy this one!


The blood pounded in Ellie’s ears; she could not hear her footsteps crunching through the gravel, or feel her legs as she rushed back toward the store to where the Brady Garriston look-alike stood. She could not let him walk in there, not while Lauren and Jake were still roaming the aisles. What if they saw him? They would react the same way she did, or perhaps worse, and maybe even accuse Ellie of holding out on them. He might not be so fortunate to get a word in edgewise with Lauren before being recruited to perform for some concert.

Not that Ellie had actually promised to deliver Brady Garriston for a benefit concert, but this poor guy did not need to get in the middle of the school’s problems. If Lauren saw him, surely she would think Ellie had something to do with it.

She stopped and thought a moment. Maybe he was the type of guy who would be willing to involve himself in the school’s problems. Maybe he was the charitable sort. Or was she that desperate to save the school, and save face, to say nothing of her job, to get him involved? To get him to commit fraud.

Come on, she scolded herself. You just met the man. You don’t know anything about him. You don’t even know his name.

“Wait!” she called again, and resumed her approach, a plan formulating in her mind.

The man paused and turned fully around to face her, his expression a mixture of amusement and curiosity. The doors slid shut behind him before he could enter.

“I…I know you’re not you who I thought you were back there, just now.” She hooked her thumb toward the parking lot, wanting to cry for sounding so silly. “But I’ve lived here a long time, and I feel I know just about everybody in town. I don’t know you, though.”

The man slowly nodded, and Ellie wondered if he thought she was hitting on him. That suspicion deepened as his lips curled into an appreciative smile and his gaze swept her skirt and peasant skirt, which she realized hugged her a bit too tightly and accentuated her full breasts. No wonder the school principal, Mr. Yost, had greeted her with such disapproval this morning at work. This was not the appropriate dress for an elementary school teacher, she could hear the stodgy old man saying.

“Gary Stone,” the man said, and offered his hand. It was a large hand with long, manicured fingers, the kind that could easily have found a home caressing a piano keyboard. It nearly swallowed her own as Ellie reciprocated the greeting.

Her entire body warmed to the touch. She saw those hands caressing a keyboard, then caressing a woman’s body, her body. Circling her waist and sliding upward to cup her breasts, rolling her nipples between those strong fingers. Bringing them closer to his face so he could lave each one tenderly with his tongue…

Down, girl. She pressed her thighs together to conceal the dampness she was certain would soon be trickling down her leg.

For all the time passed since Claire dumped the real Brady Garriston, the fantasies Ellie had harbored also faded into oblivion. Now they bubbled back to the surface. Why did this man have to look so much like him? Why did he have to release his grip?

“And you are correct,” he was saying, and Ellie snapped to attention. “I recently moved here from New York.”

“New York City?” Ellie brightened. “I have a cousin who lives there. Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to know her. I mean, there’s got to be, what, seven or eight million people living in New York? What are the odds that you might know her?” She was babbling and could not seem to stop; she felt suddenly silly and frightened. Gary Stone was going to think she was a loon, that maybe all of Dareville was like her.

“I don’t know, strangers things have happened,” Gary said with a laugh, but Ellie could easily see the discomfort on his face. She was spooking him, and he clearly wanted to bolt for the safety of the grocery store. In fact, his foot had depressed the trigger to reopen the doors, revealing the activity from within the store.

“Uh.” Ellie peered over his shoulder and spotted Lauren chatting with a checkout girl while digging through her purse. The woman had not spotted them, yet. Instinctively, Ellie grasped Gary by the arm and guided him away from the registers.

“What are you doing?” Gary asked, taken aback, but thankfully he did nothing to wrest away from Ellie.

“Well, seeing as how you’re new in town and all, I thought you might like a tour of Jake’s,” she said, and pulled him toward a stand about to avalanche with various types of apples.

Gary turned back to the entrance, and Ellie held back a gasp as his face momentarily became visible from the point of view of anybody at the checkout station. “Shouldn’t we get a cart or something first?” he said, pointing to the corral. “I have quite a lot to buy. I don’t think I can carry it all.”

“Oh, there’s usually an orphaned one idling somewhere in the dry goods aisle, don’t worry.” She held out her free hand in a show model’s gesture. “Now this is one of Jake’s many produce displays,” she said, trying her best to ignore the look of bewilderment on Gary Stone’s face. He still looked too much like Brady, regardless of how his brows creased. “As you can see, Jake offers a wide variety of apples. You got your Macintoshes, Red Delicious, Granny Smith…”

Gary stepped warily away from her. “Yes, we have apples in New York, too, uh…” He snapped his fingers, and Ellie let out an embarrassed laugh.

“Oh, God. I’m sorry. My name’s Ellie Shaw.” She quick-stepped to his other side to block the view from the checkout station, then cast a worried glance in that direction. How long did it take for Lauren to buy groceries? Was she telling the clerk the story of her life over there? “You must think I’m some kind of lunatic, dragging you all over a grocery store without telling you my name.”

“Well, you’ve only dragged me about fifty feet, which I suppose would seem sane for a small town like this. But now that I know your name, my opinion hasn’t changed much.” But Gary’s tone softened as Ellie cast her eyes downward. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he quickly added, “I didn’t mean it to sound like that. I guess I’m just not used to being accosted by people in public. You don’t see much of that in New York City.” He then lifted a shoulder in a tired shrug. “Actually, I shouldn’t say that, either. I’m sure people have been accosted in the city, though I doubt all the experiences are this pleasant.”

Ellie looked up at him, warming to the compliment. His smile nearly made her forget that she was not talking to Brady Garriston, and what a smile he had. He resembled any, if not all, of the CD covers in her collection. Such nice lips, she noticed. She would not have minded those lips on hers, or anywhere on her body.

She saw those lip nestled between her thighs, rubbing against her pussy, pursed against her clit and driving her to distraction.

She had to think of something else before her wild imagination caused her to orgasm right in the middle of the produce section. Sure, Jake’s stock was good, but not that good.

“Really?” She bit her lip. “You’ve never been accosted in the Big Apple? Not even for looking like a famous singer?”

“Hm? Oh, yeah, the Brady thing.” Gary chuckled. “Well, living in New York has its advantages. Famous people walk around all the time and aren’t bothered.”

“Oh, man, if I ever got to New York I’d probably go nuts if I saw somebody famous.”

“I don’t know. You seemed pretty composed earlier.”

“Yeah, but that was—” Ellie stopped. She did not want to get into the whole story of Brady and Claire and Lauren’s ideas. “Nothing, it was nothing.”

She heard the doors whoosh open, and watched Lauren exit, her arms laden with paper sacks. At the far end of the store, she spied Jake slipping through a door leading to storage. Other shoppers glided past without a second look at them. Gary would be fine in the store by himself, she decided.

“You’ll have to forgive me,” she said finally. “I’m acting a bit crazy because of work problems. Not that I hate my job, I love it to death, but there’s a chance I could lose it, or be forced to take a pay cut, which means I might have to quit and find something that pays just as much or more but I like less.” She was babbling again, and Gary was eyeing her with such amusement that Ellie felt the heat rise to her face.

“You know what?” she added, backing away. “You’re not interested in my problems. I’m just going to wish you a good day and leave you to shop in peace, because I don’t want you to think we’re all like this here, a bunch of babbling loons.”

But Gary shook his head and offered a complacent smile. “No, you don’t have to go. Look over there.” True to Ellie’s earlier word, an orphaned cart came rolling listlessly toward them from an aisle, as if being pushed by a ghost. “Seems fate has destined us to this cart,” he said.

Ellie smirked. “Fate is not without a sense of humor. We would be given the one cart with the bum wheel.” She pointed to the wheel in question, which appeared to be stuck in an askew position, different than the others.

Her heart stopped. She had said we, as if they were a couple. What must he have thought of that? Soon she would graduate from apple stands to china patterns and send this guy screaming back to New York City for a bit of normalcy!

To her relief, he appeared unfazed by the slip. “Oh, it’ll work fine. Watch this.” He grasped the handlebar and bounced the cart twice, dislodging the wheel from its stuck position, then pushed the cart back and forth in a test run. “It’s all in the wrist.”

“Indeed it is,” Ellie said in appreciation. And Gary Stone had really nice wrists, and arms and shoulders, taut and strong in a short-sleeved shirt that pulled tightly across his chest as he arched his back and turned the cart in the opposite direction. He filled out that pair of black jeans nicely, too, she noticed, admiring the convex curve of the zipper hiding more of Gary Stone that she would not mind seeing.

Did the real Brady Garriston look this good up close? Was he this charming? If so, Claire was an idiot for letting go such a fine specimen of man.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What I'm Reading - Honest Vamps

I have had Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on my Kindle for a while now, and have finally gotten around to reading it. I have to admit I've been quietly resisting the mash-up books, but this concept intrigued me more than Jane Austen zombies, so download it I did. So far it is fairly interesting - I'm about thirty pages in, so it's early yet.

Speaking of mash-ups, I did pick up one of the erotic versions of Pride and Prejudice when it was listed as a free read. Still need to read it, but I have noticed not everybody is happy about these books. Seems the more you sex them up, the more complaints you get from the purists who would prefer Darcy and company keep their pants on. Personally, if somebody has the patience to cross Austen with vampires or sex toys, at least make it interesting and believable. I don't know that I'd write a mash-up myself, but once upon a time I didn't think I'd write M/M, so never say never.

Although, this article in AReCafe talks about the possibility that works in the public domain could have their copyrights restored, so if that becomes commonplace it could be a challenge to continue this trend. You'd need permission of the copyright holder, and possibly have to negotiate royalties. Not saying this will happen, but never say never.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Guest Blog - Tilly Greene

Me Want Food welcomes Tilly Greene to Guest Blog Sunday! If you are interested in writing a guest blog here, please do. See our guest blog information page.

My Big Sin! by Tilly Greene


There, I said it. My biggest sin is chocolate, particularly hot chocolate. I never think about the sugar or calories when I have a cup of the liquid gold in front of me, just how good it will taste.  The flavor, texture, and experience are just some qualities found in the pleasure of sipping on the velvety goodness.

I’m always on the hunt for a wonderful experience with hot chocolate. A few years ago I was lucky enough to be in Paris and decided to seek out the “Best Hot Chocolate” in the city. After many recommendations, I discovered some real gems, both for the chocolate and the experience. Three pots [a pot holds about 2 and a half cups] were tested - okay, joyously consumed - and here are my findings.

Dalloyau was my first stop. We went to the Luxembourg location [opposite the Jardin du Luxembourg - an incredibly beautiful garden, even when not in bloom]. The restaurant is above the shop and seats maybe 30 people, at a push. The walls were alternating stripes, about 20 inches wide, using rich dark chocolate brown and shimmering silver. Sitting was a mixture of couches and chairs, relaxed but still elegant. This was not a mug or large cup, but an average demitasse size and when the chocolate was poured it was thick, very thick. Warm, but not so hot you couldn’t instantly have a sip. Oh my, it was lovely. Yes, it was sweet but not as much as you think.

Ladurée was next. We went to Ladurée Royal - across from Eglise la Madeline [a church]. Entering through the shop, you turn to the side and separated by screens and plants is a jewelbox of a room. Frescoes framed in gold, mirrors, paneling, with seating for maybe 20-25 people. The pot of chocolat chaud arrived on pretty bright pastel rimmed in gold china and a silver pot to hold the goods. Pouring this offering into my cup I found it not horribly dark in color, but fairly thick, and it had a lovely flavor…with a bit of chicory [I thought], at the end. To help dispel the thought this is a sweet beverage, let me tell you this house places two sucre tubes [sugar tubes] on the saucer and yes they were necessary.

Angelina was our last stop [past the Louvre and through the Jardin des Tulieries]. It holds many more people than the other two, between upstairs and the ground floor, maybe 100. There is an aura of the belle époque style surrounding the space, along with a light and airy feeling, despite being packed in. We sat at a table in a room off the main one and found it enchanting. Our pot arrived with a side dish full of freshly whipped cream and a small carafe of chilled water. Despite the claim the chocolat chaud was so thick you could stand a spoon in it [happened to be the least thick of our three] this was a delicious pot of chocolate. I think it was the dollop of cream you added to each cup and the water to clean your palette every once in a while.

In the end there was no clear cut winner, they were all good! Each place and pot was different. I guess it depends on the mood you’re in as to which one you go for. The atmosphere of each was unique, then there was the thickness of Dalloyau, the cream at Angelina or the various flavors at Ladurée…I’d visit each one again.

Sometimes a sin is such a joy, it can’t be bad - I shamelessly and with great pleasure embrace my lapse.

Tilly Greene
WARNING!  Red hot romances ahead!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

I lied, one more list

This is from Penguin's list of 100 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Hope the good Lord is patient.

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
2. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories - Nikolai Gogol
3. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
4. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
5. Notes From Underground - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
6. Story of the Eye - Georges Bataille
7. Spy In House Of Love: V4 In Nin'S Continuous Novel - Anais Nin
8. Lady Chatterly's Lover - D.H.Lawrence
9. Venus in Furs - Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
10. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
11. The Karamazov Brothers - Fyodor Dostoevsky
12. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
13. Diamonds Are Forever - Ian Fleming
14. The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
15. The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad
16. A Room With a View - E. M. Forster
17. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
18. Don Juan - Lord George Gordon Byron
19. Love in a Cold Climate- Nancy Mitford
20. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams
21. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
22. Middlemarch - George Eliot
23. She: A History of Adventure - H. Rider Haggard
24. The Fight - by Norman Mailer
25. No Easy Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela
26. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
27. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
28. Notre-Dame of Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) - Victor Hugo
29. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
30. The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens
31. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
32. Bram Stoker's Dracula - Bram Stoker
33. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
34. The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole
35. The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
36. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
37. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
38. Baby doll - Tennessee Williams
39. Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote
40. Emma - Jane Austen
41. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
42. The Odyssey - Homer
43. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
44. Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome
45. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
46. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
47. Vile Bodies - Evelyn Waugh
48. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
49. The Beautiful and Damned - F. Scott Fitzgerald
50. Against Nature - Joris-Karl Huysmans
51. The Autobiography of Malcolm X - Malcolm X
52. The Outsider - Albert Camus
53. Animal Farm - George Orwell
54. The Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx
55. Les Misérables - Victor Hugo
56. The Time Machine - H. G. Wells
57. The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
58. The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells
59. The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
60. We - Yevgeny Zamyatin
61. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
62. Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga - Hunter S. Thompson
63. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
64. Another Country - James Baldwin
65. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
66. Junky: The Definitive Text of Junk - William S. Burroughs
67. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
68. Confessions of an English Opium Eater - Thomas De Quincey
69. Subterraneans - Jack Kerouac
70. Monsieur Monde Vanishes - Georges Simenon
71. Nineteen Eighty-four - George Orwell
72. The Monkey Wrench Gang - Edward Abbey
73. The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
74. Bound for Glory - Arthur Miller
75. Death of a Salesman - Georges Simenon
76. Maigret and the Ghost - Georges Simenon
77. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
78. The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
79. A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan, Sir Doyle
80. The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan
81. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
82. Therese Raquin - Ãmile Zola
83. Les Liaisons dangereuses - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
84. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
85. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
86. I, Claudius : From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 - Robert Graves
87. Hangover Square - Patrick Hamilton
88. The Beggar's Opera - John Gay
89. The Twelve Caesars - Suetonius
90. Guys and Dolls - Hal Leonard Corporation
91. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
92. The Iliad of Homer - Homer
93. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
94. From Russia with Love - Ian Fleming
95. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
96. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
97. The Diary of a Nobody - George Grossmith
98. Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens
99. Scoop - Evelyn Waugh
100. Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lastly...I Read This?!

Now we come to the end of the week, and for Friday I have decided to preempt Geddy Lee (sorry, ladies) to present a personal reading list. Namely, I will list below the authors I have read, but not necessarily liked, most often. Used to be once I found an author I liked I'd go on a tear, taking down 1-3 books in a week. Sue Grafton, for example: I burned through the first part of the alphabet in a book a day. That had been my last summer off.

Anyway, numbers are subject to change. I'm open to suggestions for new authors to try, too.

Rita Mae Brown - 24 (One signed; This doesn't count the two DNFs - High Hearts and Dolley. Couldn't get into the latter, though I still want to read it one day. Never got into the fox hunting mysteries, and I fizzled off the cat ones when Harry and Fair got back together.)

Agatha Christie - 10 (This is a bucket list item, to read the rest.)

Dick Francis - 38 (One signed; I'm missing a few here, in particular Field of Thirteen, which is a DNF. Love the novels, but couldn't get into the short stories.)

Sue Grafton - 15 (One signed; Got as far as O and hit a wall. In fact, I'm trying to remember if I even finished that one.)

Lewis Grizzard - 16 (Two signed; many of these are collections of his columns.)

Carl Hiaasen - 8 (This doesn't count one DNF, Skinny Dip. Not that I didn't like the book; I set it down one day and never got back to it. I had a baby, wanna fight over it?)

Mercedes Lackey - 9 (These are mainly Valdemar novels. Does not include DNF of the Valdemar story anth.)

Armistead Maupin - 6 (The original Barbary Lane novels; I bought Mary-Ann in Autumn, but after reading that Sweet Valley fiasco I admit I'm a bit apprehensive about revisiting old friends again.)

Anne Rice - 13 (One signed; DNFs are Lasher - ugh! - and Exit to Eden. I went to the Servant of the Bones signing but for some reason never read the book. I also read two of the Beauty books but didn't feel compelled to finish the series.)

JK Rowling - 7 (You know what they are.)

Danielle Steel - 24 (Don't think I'll be able to catch up at the rate she's going.)

Numbers subject to change. Never say never.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Drop in the Bucket

Here is Waterstone's Top 100 List. Waterstone's is a leading chain of UK bookstores, so it's interesting to see how their tastes run:

(Updated 3/9/15)

1 J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings (read Fellowship and Two Towers)
2 George Orwell 1984
3 George Orwell Animal Farm
4 James Joyce Ulysses
5 Joseph Heller Catch-22
6 J.D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye
7 Harper lee To Kill a Mocking Bird
8 Gabriel Garcia Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude
9 John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath
10 Irvine Welsh Trainspotting
11 Jung Chan Wild Swans
12 F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby
13 William Golding The Lord of the Flies
14 Jack Kerouac On the Road
15 Aldous Huxley Brave New World
16 Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows
17 A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh
18 Alice Walker The Colour Purple
19 J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit
20 Albert Camus The Outsider
21 C.S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
22 Franz Kafka The Trial
23 Margaret Mitchell Gone With the Wind
24 Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
25 Salman Rushdie Midnight's Children
26 Anne Frank The Diary of Anne Frank
27 Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange
28 D.H. Lawrence Sons and Lovers
29 Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse
30 Primo Levi If This Is a Man
31 Vladimir Nabokov Lolita
32 Iain Banks The Wasp Factory
33 Marcel Proust A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past)
34 Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
35 John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men
36 Toni Morrison Beloved
37 A.S. Byatt Posession
38 Joseph Conrad The Heart of Darkness
39 E.M. Forster A Passage to India
40 Richard Adams Watership Down
41 Jostein Gaarder Sophie's World
42 Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose
43 Gabriel Garcia Marquez Love in a Time of Cholera
44 Daphne du Maurier Rebecca
45 Kazuo Ishiguri The Remains of the Day
46 Milan Kundera The Unbearable Lightness of Being
47 Sebastian Faulks Birdsong
48 E.M. Forster Howard's End
49 Evelyn Waugh Brideshead Revisited
50 Vikram Seth A Suitable Boy
51 Frank Herbert Dune
52 John Irvine A Prayer for Owen Meaney
53 Patrick Suskind Perfume
54 Boris Pasternak Doctor Zhivago
55 Mervyn Peake Gormenghast
56 Laurie Lee Cider with Rosie
57 Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar
58 Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale
59 Vera Brittain Testament of Youth
60 John Fowlws The Magus
61 Graham Greene Brighton Rock
62 Robert Tressell The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists
63 Mikhail Bugakov The Master and Margarita
64 Armistead Maupin Tales from the City
65 John Fowles The French Lieutenant's Woman
66 Louis de Bernieres Captain Corelli's Mandolin
67 Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five
68 Robert Persig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
69 E.M. Forster A Room with a View
70 Kingsley Amis Lucky Jim
71 Stephen King It
72 Graham Greene The Power and the Glory
73 Stephen King The Stand
74 Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front
75 Roddy Doyle Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
76 Roald Dahl Matilda
77 Bret Easton Ellis American Psycho
78 Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
79 Stephen Hawking A Brief History of Time
80 Roald Dahl James and the Giant Peach
81 D.H. Lawrence Lady Chatterley's Lover
82 Tom Wolfe The Bonfire of the Vanities (Man, that movie sucked)
83 Delia Smith Complete Cookery Course
84 Brian Keenan An Evil Cradling
85 D.H. Lawrence The Rainbow
86 George Orwell Down and Out in Paris and London
87 Arthur C. Clarke 2001 - A Space Odyssey
88 Gunter Grass The Tin Drum
89 Alexander Solzhenitsyn A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
90 Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom
91 Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene
92 Michael Crichton Jurassic Park
93 Lawrence Durrell The Alexandria Quartet
94 Alan Paton Cry the Beloved Country
95 Nick Hornby High Fidelity
96 Roddy Doyle The Van
97 Roald Dahl The BFG
98 Anthony Burgess Earthly Powers
99 Robert Graves I, Claudius
100 Nicholas Evans The Horse Whisperer

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

100 from TIME, but No Time

Here is TIME Magazine's list of the 100 Best Novels, published since 1923. Much different from Rolling Stone's, but similar in that both omit Rush in some format.

The Adventures of Augie March (1953), by Saul Bellow
All the King's Men (1946), by Robert Penn Warren
American Pastoral (1997), by Philip Roth
An American Tragedy (1925), by Theodore Dreiser
Animal Farm (1946), by George Orwell
Appointment in Samarra (1934), by John O'Hara
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970), by Judy Blume
The Assistant (1957), by Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds (1938), by Flann O'Brien
Atonement (2002), by Ian McEwan
Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison
The Berlin Stories (1946), by Christopher Isherwood
The Big Sleep (1939), by Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin (2000), by Margaret Atwood
Blood Meridian (1986), by Cormac McCarthy
Brideshead Revisited (1946), by Evelyn Waugh
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), by Thornton Wilder
Call It Sleep (1935), by Henry Roth
Catch-22 (1961), by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye (1951), by J.D. Salinger
A Clockwork Orange (1963), by Anthony Burgess
The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), by William Styron
The Corrections (2001), by Jonathan Franzen
The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), by Thomas Pynchon
A Dance to the Music of Time (1951), by Anthony Powell
The Day of the Locust (1939), by Nathanael West
Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), by Willa Cather
A Death in the Family (1958), by James Agee
The Death of the Heart (1958), by Elizabeth Bowen
Deliverance (1970), by James Dickey
Dog Soldiers (1974), by Robert Stone
Falconer (1977), by John Cheever
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), by John Fowles
The Golden Notebook (1962), by Doris Lessing
Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953), by James Baldwin
Gone With the Wind (1936), by Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath (1939), by John Steinbeck
Gravity's Rainbow (1973), by Thomas Pynchon
The Great Gatsby (1925), by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Handful of Dust (1934), by Evelyn Waugh
The Heart is A Lonely Hunter (1940), by Carson McCullers
The Heart of the Matter (1948), by Graham Greene
Herzog (1964), by Saul Bellow
Housekeeping (1981), by Marilynne Robinson
A House for Mr. Biswas (1962), by V.S. Naipaul
I, Claudius (1934), by Robert Graves
Infinite Jest (1996), by David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man (1952), by Ralph Ellison
Light in August (1932), by William Faulkner
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), by C.S. Lewis
Lolita (1955), by Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies (1955), by William Golding
The Lord of the Rings (1954), by J.R.R. Tolkien (Read Fellowship and The Two Towers)
Loving (1945), by Henry Green
Lucky Jim (1954), by Kingsley Amis
The Man Who Loved Children (1940), by Christina Stead
Midnight's Children (1981), by Salman Rushdie
Money (1984), by Martin Amis
The Moviegoer (1961), by Walker Percy
Mrs. Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf
Naked Lunch (1959), by William Burroughs
Native Son (1940), by Richard Wright
Neuromancer (1984), by William Gibson
Never Let Me Go (2005), by Kazuo Ishiguro
1984 (1948), by George Orwell
On the Road (1957), by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), by Ken Kesey
The Painted Bird (1965), by Jerzy Kosinski
Pale Fire (1962), by Vladimir Nabokov
A Passage to India (1924), by E.M. Forster
Play It As It Lays (1970), by Joan Didion
Portnoy's Complaint (1969), by Philip Roth
Possession (1990), by A.S. Byatt
The Power and the Glory (1939), by Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), by Muriel Spark
Rabbit, Run (1960), by John Updike (DNF, will try again)
Ragtime (1975), by E.L. Doctorow
The Recognitions (1955), by William Gaddis
Red Harvest (1929), by Dashiell Hammett
Revolutionary Road (1961), by Richard Yates
The Sheltering Sky (1949), by Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse Five (1969), by Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash (1992), by Neal Stephenson
The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), by John Barth
The Sound and the Fury (1929), by William Faulkner
The Sportswriter (1986), by Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1964), by John le Carre
The Sun Also Rises (1926), by Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), by Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart (1959), by Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), by Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse (1927), by Virginia Woolf
Tropic of Cancer (1934), by Henry Miller (DNF, will try again)
Ubik (1969), by Philip K. Dick
Under the Net (1954), by Iris Murdoch
Under the Volcano (1947), by Malcolm Lowry
Watchmen (1986), by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
White Noise (1985), by Don DeLillo
White Teeth (2000), by Zadie Smith
Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), by Jean Rhys

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Pulitzer and I

Here is a list of the Pulitzer Fiction winners. I'll admit I've done better with this list.

1918: His Family by Ernest Poole
1919: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
1920: no award given
1921: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
1922: Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington
1923: One of Ours by Willa Cather
1924: The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson
1925: So Big by Edna Ferber
1926: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (declined prize)
1927: Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield
1928: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
1929: Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin
1930: Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge
1931: Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes
1932: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
1933: The Store by Thomas Sigismund Stribling
1934: Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller
1935: Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson
1936: Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis
1937: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1938: The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand
1939: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
1940: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
1941: no award given
1942: In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow
1943: Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair
1944: Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin
1945: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
1946: no award given
1947: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
1948: Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
1949: Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens
1950: The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
1951: The Town by Conrad Richter
1952: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
1954: No award given
1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
1956: Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
1957: No award given
1958: A Death in the Family by James Agee
1959: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor
1960: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
1962: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor
1963: The Reivers by William Faulkner
1964: No award given
1965: The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
1968: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
1969: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
1970: The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford by Jean Stafford
1971: No award given
1972: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
1973: The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
1974: No award given
1975: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
1976: Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow
1977: No award given
1978: Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson
1979: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (DNF, will try again)
1980: The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
1981: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (posthumous win)
1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
1984: Ironweed by William Kennedy
1985: Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
1986: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
1987: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison
1989: Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
1990: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
1991: Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
1992: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
1993: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
1994: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
1995: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1996: Independence Day by Richard Ford
1997: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser
1998: American Pastoral by Philip Roth
1999: The Hours by Michael Cunningham
2000: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
2002: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
2003: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
2004: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
2006: March by Geraldine Brooks
2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2008: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2009: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
2010: Tinkers by Paul Harding

Monday, April 11, 2011

100 Books, Maybe 20 Years Left

If you've been following the blog, you'll see I've kept a decent schedule with specific posts on specific days. In the interest of shaking things up a bit, I'll be cleaning the palate with this week-long interim exposing my reading habits. I've kept many a book checklist over the years, and one of my bucket list items is read a damn lot of books before I go. Hopefully, by posting these lists here over the next week, I'll give myself that much needed kick in the past.

Without further ado, let's start with the Modern Libary Top 100 of the 20th Century. If it's in bold, I read it.

1. ULYSSES by James Joyce
2. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
4. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
5. BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
6. THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
7. CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
8. DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler
9. SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence
10. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
11. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
12. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler
13. 1984 by George Orwell
14. I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves
15. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf
16. AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser
17. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
18. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut
19. INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison
20. NATIVE SON by Richard Wright
23. U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
24. WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson
25. A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster
26. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James
27. THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James
28. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald
30. THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford
31. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell
32. THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James
33. SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
34. A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
35. AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner
36. ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren
37. THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder
38. HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster
39. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
40. THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
41. LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
42. DELIVERANCE by James Dickey
43. A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell
44. POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley
45. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
46. THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad
47. NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad
48. THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence
49. WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence
50. TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller (DNF - will try again)
51. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer
52. PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth
53. PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov
54. LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner
55. ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac
56. THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett
57. PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford
58. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton
59. ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm
60. THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy
62. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones
64. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
65. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
66. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
67. HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
68. MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis
69. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
70. THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell
71. A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes
72. A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul
73. THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West
74. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
75. SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh
77. FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce
78. KIM by Rudyard Kipling
79. A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster
82. ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
83. A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul
84. THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen
85. LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad
86. RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow
87. THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett
88. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
89. LOVING by Henry Green
90. MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
91. TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
92. IRONWEED by William Kennedy
93. THE MAGUS by John Fowles
94. WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys
95. UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch
96. SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron
97. THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles
99. THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy
100. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Guest Blog - Cassandra Carr

Thank you, Cassandra Carr, for guesting on Me Want Food today! Enjoy the blog and hot excerpt from Cassandra's new book!

Why I write erotic romance

People often ask me why I write erotic romance. Some are merely curious, while others ask the question as if they’re wondering why I sleep with snakes (because they’re so fuzzy and cuddly!). There’s an easy answer to this question, and there’s a longer, more complicated one. Here’s the easy answer: it’s fun and I’m good at it! After all, doesn’t everyone want to do something that they’re good at and is fun to boot?

The more convoluted answer is – I write erotic romance for a number of reasons. Not only am I good at it, but I can also write it quickly, which helps when you’re still trying to get your name out there. I think I’m more of a “natural” at writing erotic romance – I don’t have to reach for story lines or the right way to say something. Also, erotic romance sells, and I’d like to have a career as a writer. Lastly, because although there are a lot of things I could write, this is what I want to write. And that’s good enough for me!


Cassandra Carr lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011. For more information about Cassandra, check out her website at, "like" her Facebook fan page at or follow her on Twitter at


The elevator doors opened, and Drew hurried to unlock his apartment and punch his code into the security pad before continuing straight to his bedroom. He spun and picked Jamie up as she neared the door, and she let out a squeak of protest.


“What? I’m trying to be romantic. Efficient too.” He grinned at her when she struggled to get out of his grip. The way she fought against him both amused and aroused him. “Not so fast,” he warned her. “I’m not planning to let you get away until I’m good and finished with you.”
Jamie cocked an eyebrow. “Good and finished? Be still my heart! Such dreamy talk from a man like you! I had no idea.”

Drew laughed and dropped Jamie on the king-size bed with enough force to make her bounce, then climbed on top of her. Before she could protest again, he’d pressed his erection into her belly and taken her lips in another deep kiss. Jamie melted beneath him, snaking her hands around his neck while his found her hips, pulling her closer. “You need to get naked,” he declared, rolling off her.

“Just me? That’s hardly fair. If I’m getting naked, then this time, so are you.” Her beautiful, full lips pouted at him.

He stood up, and in seconds, his pants and boxer briefs landed in a heap on the floor. He pulled his shirt over his head and added it to the pile. “Your turn.”

Jamie rose up on her elbows and stared at him in disbelief. “How did you do that so fast? And may I add, very nice.” She smiled and waggled her eyebrows, giving him a quick once-over.

“When I want something, I don’t waste time. And I want you naked. Now.”

He reached over and started yanking her top over her head, but she batted his hands away.

“Hey -- stop that. You’re going to dislocate my shoulder with your beastlike strength.”

Drew laughed but allowed Jamie to gently pull her blouse over her head. He took it and tossed it on the chair near the window. Next she tugged her jeans off, leaving her in only her bra and panties, which Drew made short work of.

He groaned when she was fully nude. “God, you’re fucking gorgeous, you know that? And I’m gonna put my hands and my tongue and my mouth and my cock everywhere on and in your beautiful body, so you better be ready.”

Jamie shivered, and he covered her body with his, kissing her briefly before moving down her jawline, sucking and licking. This is gonna be good.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Social Saturday: Goodreads = Good Ads?

Since Dead Barchetta's  release, I've tried a variety of advertising platforms to supplement organic marketing for the work. I've done paid Twitter campaigns, Project Wonderful, Google AdWords, and in May I'll have advertising on a few Kindle-oriented blogs. I get decent impression and hits, but am sorry to say turnover (sales) isn't quite what I'd hoped. In an effort to mix things up, I've decided to concentrate more on book-focused social networks, namely ARe Cafe and Goodreads and others, and experiment with new blurbs and sampling. In the meantime, I've invested in Goodreads advertising in an attempt to get some traction.

So far, impressions are incredible, but click-throughs are slow to come. People are adding the book to their TBR lists, but not much is happening after that. So this week will concentrate mainly on rewriting the ad and perhaps uploading a larger sample to attract readers. Once the campaign is over, I'll regroup and see what else there is to do.

In the meantime, I am currently shaping up my promotional plans for 2012. I hope to have another Leigh book (novel length) and another Kat book out then, and I'm giving serious thought to cutting out book fairs. Cons like RT and AAD may still be in the cards, but so far this year I have not done well with the book festivals. Much as I believe the Book 'Em event does well for its community, it's not good for me if I don't sell well there. Same with the Virginia Festival of the Book. It's a great investment of time, money, and wear and tear on my car, and when there's little ROI I need to concentrate on what works. Digital seems to be the road to take right now.

Of course, tomorrow I'll change my mind. We'll see. We always well.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - On the Road Again

Well, Rush are touring again, and chances of my seeing any of this leg are fair to middling.

I have an offer for a ticket to one show, but it's on a Friday and occurs after I've been on the road two weekends in a row. It also comes at the end of Little One's Spring break, and the venue is a good four-hour drive from the house. Much as I would love to see the show, I'm still on wait and see mode with it. Until then, I have to sustain myself with bootlegged cell phone clips. Gotta love technology.

Leigh's Big A$$ RT11 Bag - a Preview

When I attend a major book event like RT or AAD, I give away the goody bag. I am a reader, but I understand the readers who are not able to attend would truly love to have a piece of something to enjoy. So, I gather up all the promo I can haul and put it in a big ass bag. Lot of good swag, too - books, doo-dads, signed postcards, and this year there are Romance Trading Cards!

I usually post an announcement for the giveaway when I get home, but I though I'd preview what one lucky winner will receive. Namely: the books. So get ready for the form, you could be adding these titles to your TBR stack:

  • Hex in High Heels by Linda Wisdom
  • Brimstone Kiss by Carole Nelson Douglas
  • Killer Heat by Brenda Novak
  • A Talent for Sin by Lavinia Kent
  • One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon
  • The Guy Next Door by Lori Foster, Susan Donovan and Victoria Dahl
  • Winter's Desire by Amanda McIntyre, Charlotte Featherstone, and Kristi Astor
  • Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian
  • Hourglass by Myra McEntire (ARC)
  • How to Knit a Love Story by Rachael Herron
  • No Mercy by Lori Armstrong
  • The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen (ARC)
  • The Intrigue Collection by Debra Webb, Delores Fossen, and Alice Sharpe
  • How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries
  • The Panic Zone by Rick Mofina
  • Bound to Please by Lilli Feisty
  • and, M-Squared by moi
Just makes you want to bring out the good bookmark, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 7, 2011



To those of you who would say it's crazy to wait in line for 40 minutes to buy doughnuts, I say you haven't had the doughnuts before. Oh, there's a reason I don't live in New York City. I would weigh a ton. After my gig at the Rainbow Book Fair we made a point to hit The Doughnut Plant on the Lower East Side before heading home. If you want to know what an orgasm tastes like, go there. Seriously.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What I'm Knitting - The Mile High Club

By the time you read this I'll be on a plane. Seriously. I leave today for RT 2011 in Los Angeles, and it's my first cross-country flight in a few years. In this situations, they are necessary, though I must warn everybody on my fight today that I am susceptible to cabin fever. Hopefully the movie won't suck.

I intend to keep busy with a bag full of busy items. I have books and a notepad for writing and my laptop and iPod. Apparently, too, you are allowed to take knitting on a plane. So I will bring the pink thing I am working on, and we'll see how much farther along I get on it. So long as the hands are busy, I think I'll be okay. If you are coming to RT, look for me with the pink skein of yarn, rubbing my knuckles.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You Are What You Is

Hopefully later this year I'll embark on a genealogy trip with my father to Germany. Tracking the family tree is a casual project we've undertaken for the last decade or so. Early on we kept hitting roadblocks because of the various surname changes our family went through between the old country and here. I've heard different stories about how the "i" became a "y" in my maiden name. A priest decided the "i" version didn't look Catholic enough and took it upon himself to change our name, or else somebody in Immigration spelled it wrong when the family arrived. Who knows?

Anyway, I've watched a bit of this genealogy show on NBC, Who Do You Think You Are, and rather like it. If we have to be stuck with reality shows for the rest of our lives, at least this one provides something of interest. Even if the celebrity in question isn't somebody I follow rabidly on Twitter or elsewhere, it is fascinating to see how they are able to uncover their histories. I don't think I could be the subject of that show myself, and I can tell you why.

Early on in our investigations, we realized that the reason we couldn't find any information on our family in the Ellis Island records is because our family didn't come through Ellis Island. At least, my father's side didn't. They came through New Orleans and headed north; that's how they ended up in Kentucky. Furthermore, we learned that the great, great, great-grandmother in question, mother to Nicholas (the first patriarch to settle in the US), didn't necessarily come to America by choice.

You see, she had this unfortunate habit of giving birth out of wedlock. Sure, it's fairly common here and now, but in the early 1800s in Bavaria you just didn't do things like that. First child was a scandal, second was an epidemic. People in the town where she lived pitched in for three boat tickets before Granny could lie down again.

In short, I am descended from the village tramp. I write erotic fiction. The circle of life is complete. I can only hope Little One never has to do a report.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bittersweet Valley

The first Sweet Valley High book I bought and read was Kidnapped, the thirteenth in the series. I was 13 when I attended the book fair at Sacred Heart School and spotted the cover among an array of Judy Blume books I'd already read. I hadn't heard of SVH before that moment, but the synopsis intrigued me enough to pick up a title and start a series midstream. At that time, with a series like SVH, one could do that and not feel lost or like you have missed important information early on. Each of the subsequent Sweet Valley books I read after that (and 1-12 which I snapped up at Sam's Club) featured the same exposition that set the scene in the Wakefield home. Sometimes I wondered if Francine Pascal just had those passages in a special file that she lifted and pasted into new books where appropriate.

Of course, in the three or four years I read these books (by sixteen I'd moved on to Agatha Christie and Beatles biographies) I came to discover Francine likely didn't physically write every single book. I seem to recall on the books I owned that the actually scribing had been attributed to an Anne Williams, or William or Williem or something similar. No doubt many Anne Williams labored over word processors in a literary sweatshop while Francine supervised - how else could these books be cranked out once a month (and this was before the franchise splintered into college, tweens, and kindergarten stories)? I would estimate that during my peak SVH interest I got to about book 50 or so when the love affair ended. Reading around romancelandia, I have gathered that SVH served as the gateway for Harlequin and other imprints. I ended up drifting toward Stephen King and Dick Francis.

Even though I'd stopped actively reading SVH, once in a while I'd check the YA section in the stores for new releases and flip through to keep up on the stories. Sort of like when you stop watching a soap but still check Soap Opera Digest to see is Stefano is still dead, or still alive. Then Salem becomes populated with people you don't know or care about, and you finally let it go. It was around this time SVH came up with that ridiculous Margo the evil twin story, and I decided the shark had been jumped. Not that Francine should have worried - there was still the show and a hefty back list, which I'm guessing has not aged well.

So when I discovered this "adult" revival of the franchise, I must admit I was excited. In theory this is a great idea to not only bring Sweet Valley's main characters into the present day, but mature them and challenge them with real, adult problems. Not that original series was all rainbows and unicorns: there was some pretty heavy stuff there, too...what a thirteen-year-old Catholic school student perceived as heavy, anyway. People died, did drugs, ran away from home, wrecked cars, did stuff I'd never think to do.

Yet with a SVH reboot, you stand to attract younger readers already engrossed in the pretty little liars and sparkling vampires, and you catch the interest of people like me who may want to know what happened to old friends. In theory, this book should have killed.

It didn't, though. Jessica and Elizabeth, the perfect twins everybody wanted to befriend, are pushing thirty yet are still mentally in high school. They are also very unlikeable now. In fact, I cannot find one person to root for. There are so many things wrong with this book I don't know where to start - the head-hopping, the switch from third-person in the present day to various first person POVs in flashbacks, and the constants exposition and telling instead of showing. The book reads as though one of the Anne Williamses had been plucked from 1983 to write the book; only the occasional reference to Facebook clues the reader into a sense of time. It's like the book can't decide to be for adults or teen readers. It's a hot mess.

What tore it for me, though, was the casual, brutal disposal of a character I had liked in the old series. He appears only briefly in the story but is essentially trashed and tossed for the sake of moving along the story. I didn't enjoy reading this at all, and I'm disappointed. This had the potential to transition into a new series - instead it's a miserable book full of miserable people who don't manage to pull it together until the end. Even then, the epilogue predicts more trouble.

Bittersweet, indeed.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guest Blog: Brandon H. Bell

Hail Caesar: Creative Commons and the Small Press by Brandon H. Bell

"It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking." --Julius Caesar

1. Write story

2. Get said story published

3. Profit! Karma!

I believe short fiction is important. The small press magazine I edit (Fantastique Unfettered, aka FU) uses a Creative Commons license, CC-BY-SA*, for reasons related to this view, and in service to the dual end-goals of money and karma on behalf of the writers we publish.

Our alignment is not indie against corporate, small against large, or fan against pro. Those are foolish stances. Our alignment is one against obscurity**, expressed via a pragmatism that acknowledges money may or may not follow our good karma. We certainly hope it does: our goal, after providing quality fiction to our readers, is to pay writers professional rates.

This article will appear in the second issue of FU, but I hope it's not where you originally read it. You see, it carries the same CC-BY-SA license. A Creative Commons, Attribution, ShareAlike license, meaning that others can do pretty much anything they want with the article, but they must give attribution and release under the same. Each instance of a presentation, adaptation, or derivative of the article is, essentially, a finger pointed back at FU. Um, not that finger.

The old world-think of walled gardens and content farms suggests the only way forward is copyright extensions, possibly to perpetuity. Our old-thinkers recognize the current audience is merely the first audience. It's a numbers game, and while individual creators will not make much to crow over statistically, the bulk IP of the mass of creators certainly will. These Caesars would own human culture, every song a commercial jingle, every myth protected by a (tm).

I'm not an ideologue: I've stated in blog posts that I don't know how well CC-BY-SA scales, and for the Stephen Kings of the world, traditional copyright may be the only reasonable default for their work. Creative Commons is a tool, in a toolbox that includes tradition copyright, and I have no prohibition against the latter (though even if I reach 'rockstar' level, I would ensure my work returns to the culture at some point.)

With Aether Age (our first CC-BY-SA project, a shared world of space-faring Greeks and social revolutions in Egypt) we've made the work immediately available to the culture. The same is true of FU. The same will be true of my novella, Elegant Threat, to be release in the M-Brane Double #1 later this year. The New People by Alex Jeffers, the other half of the Double, will carry a traditional copyright. My first novel may carry a traditional copyright, depending on the publisher.

Writers deserve to be paid for their work, and we hope that you, dear reader, will take an active interest in supporting short fiction. If not FU then some other venue. As a writer I hope to someday make loads of cash at my craft and to have people bemoan my place on the NYT list. That hack, they'll complain as I laugh my way to the bank. (Yeah, it's a writer thing.) So, a final reminder that our use of Creative Commons licensing is not purely ideological or a revolt against traditional publishing.

Creative Commons licensing does not rob writers of ownership of their work, the ability to publish it in anthologies, collections, or even to waive the license to accommodate incoming requests to publish/adapt under other terms.

The license is a tool to reach readers, and to proclaim cultural relevance to the future. Maybe our work, and work like it, becomes an island of open/libre culture in a future of copyrighted IP masquerading as culture. We intend to run FU much like a nonprofit (though it isn't a nonprofit), to not profit off the periodical ourselves, but to use any incoming funds to make FU self-sustaining, then better pay our contributors.

CC-BY-SA is a tool for proactively freeing art to the culture, and will be right for some projects, and wrong for others. It is a tool for generating karma and reaching more readers. The other CC licenses and traditional copyright are also valid tools.

While the small press is a valuable part of the greater cultural ecosystem, big publishers (and big writers) are our heroes. Copyright is, ultimately, agnostic, insofar as it allows creators and their families to benefit from their work. The same is true of Creative Commons, and use of CC licenses does not preclude profitability.

It would be easy to stop there, with that pithy statement ignoring the real challenge we face in obscurity. The small press is a playground for the new, the odd, the possibly non-commercial --or not commercial right now--, the niche. The small press bears the responsibility to pursue the mandates of a given niche while striving for a quality of content, presentation, and a dedication to the idea that if anyone should be hungry and unsatisfied with imitation and shallowness, the merely commercially viable, it is us.

To close on a theme, perhaps our Caesar is that societal voice addressed to those who would participate in the culture, that suggests: you are a consumer, only.
We have come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him.

Please steal this article and post anywhere you like, just provide attribution and keep it under the same license. Encourage others to do the same.***



**See the Tim O'Reilly article here

***Use the above link for the general license, attribution: Brandon H. Bell, editor, Fantastique Unfettered,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Social Saturday: Get the Code

Recently I received an invite to beta-test a site that lets people create QR Codes for free. What is a QR Code? Perhaps around town you've seen these little boxes on signs and store windows:

It resembles a futuristic barcode, doesn't it? If you own a smart phone and have an application that reads these codes, you can take a picture with the phone and be directed automatically to a mobile website. Realtors use these to direct people to information on homes for sale, and retail stores might use them to send people to a Twitter feed, Facebook page, or anywhere else on the Net. I don't have a smart phone that takes pictures, so I've had to rely on a few friends for quality control, and it looks like we have it down with this one.

Now, I won't tell you what will happen when you scan this code. You'll have to see for yourself - and you just may get something free for your trouble. The plan is to use the code on cards and signs when I do live gigs. I probably won't have them ready for the Rainbow Book Fair, but definitely Philly and beyond. In the meantime, I'll print out a flyer for Rainbow and see if I can get anybody to scan in person. Won't that be fun!

Can QR Codes help authors? They are new to me, and as I said I don't have the equipment to view them myself. As an author, you can create a code to send readers to different places on the net - to a YouTube trailer or Facebook page, to a point of sale, to your blog. Put the code graphic on your website, blog and on print material. Eventually you'll hook up with somebody holding a phone and a burning curiosity.

Kathryn Lively