Thursday, December 27, 2007


Taking Over!

Trevor barely waited for the garage door to finish going down before he was in Susan's chair, swirling four fingers over the touchpad.

Mitchell stuck his head in Susan's office. "Trev, the fuck you doing?"

"Having fun." Trevor nodded firmly. "When the cat's away and all that."

"Trev," Mitchell said slowly, "if you fuck up Susan's blog, she'll rewrite the end of the book so you wind up dead. Hear me? Dead. D. E. Fucking A. D. Dead."

Trevor glanced at Mitchell, then at the screen. "She would, wouldn't she?"


With a heavy, exaggerated sigh, Trevor turned off Susan's monitor. "You people are no fun. Hear me? No fucking fun at all."

Mitchell shrugged. "I hear Susan's already come up with two new outtake ideas. Sounds to me like we'll have plenty of fun when she gets back."

"And between now and then?"

Mitchell grinned. "We make music."

What? You thought I could leave town and not say a proper goodbye? Keep an eye on me here. And have a safe, healthy and happy New Year! I'll be back around the fifth or so; don't forget about me while I'm gone. Mitchell's right; there'll be plenty of fun when I get back.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #60 -- Blackout!

Thirteen Things You Need to Know

1. Yellowstone National Park became the first national park in the United States in 1872. It was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.

2. In 1976, my parents took me to Yellowstone. To say I fell in immediate love is to underestimate the power of the emotion the park evokes in me.

3. In 1988, 1.4 million acres of Yellowstone burned.

4. In 1998, I made a return trip with the Tour Manager. Signs of the fire were still everywhere. The Tour Manager promised we'd return in five years.

5. In 2008, the Tour Manager and I will layer up our winter gear and leave the warmth of the Old Faithful Snow Lodge to see Old Faithful's first eruption of the new year. (yep, five years became ten. Amazing what happens when you blink.)

6. Because we'll be spending five of our six nights in the park, we probably won't have Internet access. Or cell phone coverage.

7. Our first morning there, we'll go wolf spotting.

8. We're bringing both digital cameras and the laptop, so we can upload the pictures and have empty memory cards to start each day.

9. I have learned more about long underwear than any rocker chick like me ought to learn.

10. We're going to be surrounded by bison and yet I'm betting that all that will be on the menu is cow.

11. As a result of this, I probably won't be able to check in while I'm gone.

12. I'd thought about having a friend post entries for me, but given what Trevor's done around this joint in the past when I HAVE been here, I didn't think that was wise.

13. But if I can post from Yellowstone, I will. Keep your eyes peeled, and have a terrific New Year's.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Susan's Book Talk: 2007 Reading Roundup

Wow. What a year it's been. Lots of new characters here at the blog, particularly Roadie Poet and Springer. You'll definitely see more of RP; I'm into him, too.

But this is about the books I've read over the past twelve months. I'm not quite at 100 read for the year, but there are five days left and a trip in there (more on that trip to come), and I know it'll be close. I can do it.

So let's take a few minutes and look at some of the highlights from my reading year:

It took me five books before I fell in love with something this year, and when I did, it was a doozy. Clay's Quilt, by Silas House. I even blogged about it here, so go back and see what I had to say.

Then I began my year-long reviewing blitz, as I think of it. First was LL Cool J's Platinum Workout. Check out the name of my post when I told you about it! Now that I'm reviewing a bit more steadily, it seems funny to see how excited I was.

I also read two good ones: The Potter's House by Rosie Thomas and The Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles, by Jim Fergus. I'd loved Fergus' debut, One Thousand White Women, and this follow-up was not a letdown. The Potter's House was a neat read with a kicker of an ending.

Unthinkable? I don't think so. Joshua Braff's debut novel knocked my socks off. Will there be more from Braff? I don't know, but I certainly hope so -- so long as it's of this same quality.

I revisted a now-favorite writer, Jeanne Ray, this time with Step-Ball-Change, a dance move that always makes me smile when I hear it used in real life, like it has been lately in my household. And right after, I had my first taste of James Alan Gardner via Expendable, which gave new meaning to the phrase, "Oh, shit."

2007 was the year to catch up on my Linda Fairstein books. I'm now up to Entombed. I can see it from where I sit; that's a good sign. Hopefully it'll get read in 2008. You'd think after reading four or so of her novels in a fairly short period, I'd burn out, but nope. I can't wait to see what trouble lies ahead for Alex next.

My first Tess Gerritsen, whose blog I really like, my first Nancy Martin (who is a local!), my first Susan McBride, my first Allana Martin, catching up with oldies by Marcia Muller and Edna Buchanan... it was a big year for reading mysteries, so I softened it up with some of my favorite graphic novelist's works: Joann Sfar writing with Lewis Trondheim.

Nevada Barr's books run hot and cold with me, but the discovery of debut author Jennifer Estep sure soothed my crankies. As you guys know, I've become a huge Estep fan and can hardly wait for the 2008 release of Jinx.

My favorite book title of the year? Lily Bret's You Gotta Have Balls. NOT what you're thinking, folks. This was a fun, breezy read that my book club chose, probably so I'd stop having fun with the title. And did I have fun!

I did some cross-cultural reading, with Victor Villasenor's Rain of Gold. This huge, fat book was a great read, although I'm not sure if his follow-up works could come close to matching the scale of this debut. And I kept up the cross-cultural stuff, sort of, with the self-published phenomenon, Rashi's Daughters: Book One: Jehoved. Another book club pick, I can see why this did well. It's well-crafted and I'm eager to see if author Maggie Anton's shift to a major publisher fixed the nits I had with her writing, itself. So yes, my book club will be reading Book Two: Miriam at some point.

Speaking of book club, we also read Mary Doria Russell's A Thread of Grace. Read what I had to say about it here.

At long last, I got into Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series, reading the first two. I spent some time with Rachel Caine, again, and, of course, finished off the Harry Potter series.

More reviews, this time for Colleen Gleason's first two books. Make that another sequel I hope to get my hands on during the upcoming year...

And more local writers: Lila Shaara's beautiful Every Secret Thing and Rebecca Drake's The Next Killing (the review for which is up at Front Street). Friends, too: Ann Pino's My New-Found Land was great fun, and KL Going's The Garden of Eve is a quick, thought-provoking middle-grade book. I can hardly wait to catch up enough to sink into Going's St. Iggy. And my e-published friends, who have shown me a whole brave new world and new ways of reading. Robyn Rotham and Red Garnier; you guys rock. What a great way to be exposed to e-books.

But the read of the year? The one that has impacted me the most deeply? Nope, not The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, even though I can't believe I said that. You guys know what my best of the year pick is -- Nikki Sixx's The Heroin Diaries. I still say it's a marketing failure, given that it's got its own soundtrack. And I still say it ought to be required reading in high schools. There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive.

Happy reading in 2008, everyone. Let me know if you read any of these; I'd love to know what you think. As always.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007


Roadie Poet: Musketeers of the Road

Christmas break.
Two days in a hotel.
Little box of a room.

It's a room.
Hambone and me, we don't complain.
We know better.

More's staying with us, too.
Tour's happy about that.
Saves 'em the cost of her room.

Hambone pretends to sleep.
We turn the TV on for noise.
Try to be quiet.
None of it works.

Tour rented out a room
For a crew Christmas dinner.
A bigger box of a room
But at least we're not on our own
Since we can't be home.

Me and Hambone and More, we're glad of that rented box of a room.
We're a team now,
Musketeers of the road.

It'll be hard to find tours like this
Until word gets out about us.
But so what.

Right now's what matters.
Best Christmas present we could hope for.
Me, Hambone, and More.

Musketeers of the Road.

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Friday, December 21, 2007


Booking Through Thursday: And the Nominees Are...

Oops. Almost forgot this week!

Booking through Thursday asks:

1. What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
2. What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
3. And, do “best of” lists influence your reading?

Let's go backwards.

Yes, best-of lists influence my reading. If a book shows up on 90% of the lists, I'll often refuse to read it, figuring it's overhyped and I probably won't like it. The list of books I've been stung with like this is pretty long.

As for non-fiction, you guys know me. Other than the occasional rock-and-roll-themed book I'll review for Front Street Reviews, I avoid non-fiction.

So... that brings us to fiction. And to be honest, I have no clue, other than Jennifer Estep's books, and the latest Colleen Gleason, what else I've read this year that was actually published in 2007.

I'd do better to give you a round-up of what I've read in 2007, and I'll be doing that before the 27th, so if you're in town, stay tuned. If you're going to be travelling, add me to your reader so it'll be there when you get home.

Merry Christmas to my celebrating friends, happy Eid to those who are about to end their celebrations, and safe travels to all.

And if you need something to fill your time, there's a cool interview posted at Front Street you shouldn't miss, as well as Bunnygirl's Holiday Flash Fiction Carnival.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #59 -- Wired!

Guitar strings are slippery things. They come coiled up in a packet, sort of like a condom, only they don't like to be stretched out. You have to put one end into your guitar and pull it taut. It bends, it struggles, it sings. But it doesn't like to be manhandled.

Enter Mitchell Voss, frontman for ShapeShifter and rhythm guitarist extraordinaire (in the minds of many). He'd never thought much about a used guitar string until he went and fell in love with an artist. Kerri is magic, he swears it, and that was before she went and started making art with his broken guitar strings. Thirteen different things, in fact.

Thirteen Things made from Mitchell's broken guitar strings

1. First, she wound some of Mitchell's hair around a piece of string. "Look!" she cried, inordinately pleased with herself. "Instant dredlocks!" (he tried to keep from blushing, lest someone discover he'd tried this, himself, once.)

2. Then she took a number of strings, divided them into groups of three, and braided them around a strap of leather, which she turned into a very sexy choker for Mitchell. He wore it.

3. This fueled her ambitions, and she soon figured out a way to make the wire stay when bent. She made a charm for the choker. When Mitchell wore it to a photo shoot, girls everywhere coveted it.

4. Kerri's next masterpiece was a blob that she designated as a Christmas tree ornament. Since Mitchell is usually on the road this time of year (preferably in Australia, where it's summer), Kerri gave it to his mom, Sonya, who treasures it.

5. One day, Kerri noticed Eric using a book thong to mark his place in a book he was reading. He admitted it was a gift from one of the many girls he befriended on the road and then kept in touch with. Kerri found some beads and some of Eric's used strings and voila. Eric had a return gift for that girl.

6. Bored one day on the bus, Kerri pulled out her stash of broken strings -- by this point, she was collecting Eric's as well, although Trevor's were too thick -- and made what she dubbed an abstract sculpture. It got left behind in a dressing room, or was perhaps stolen by a fan. At any rate, it's gone.

7. One day in October, Kerri figured out how to make the wire form right angles -- and stay that way. She got a small piece of wood from one of the roadies and snuck out shopping one day while Mitchell was giving interviews. She came back with a rubber rat that was supposed to be a Halloween decoration. She tucked it under the piece of wire, on top of the wood and, voila. Rat trap. The guys liked it so much, they took to putting it on the catering table in their dressing room. Watching girls encounter the rat right beside their food is a never-ending source of amusement.

8. By now, Kerri had a pretty good idea of things she could get the wires to do. So she fashioned a tiara for herself. It came out great. Problem was, Trevor stole it and wore it onstage a few times -- and then gave it to a girl in the front row.

9. She tried making an earring out of the wire, but that was one of her few failures.

10. Thinking it would make the bus homier, she took the demo CDs and cassettes handed to the band by fans eager to have their band discovered, and hung them in the back lounge. Mitchell ripped them down and threw them in the garbage, not sparing the guitar strings Kerri had used as hangers.

11. It took a coffee mug to get the shape right, but Kerri wove the strings into what most people called a Dream Catcher, but what she called a Heavy Metal Nightmare Preventer. Eric stole it and hung it in his bunk. He claimed it worked.

12. Kerri bought a book about how to make chain mail, but gave up that idea as too time-consuming. That didn't stop Daniel from trying it -- and giving up, saying that the wire was just too hard to make behave. Kerri winked and said she knew.

13. At last, fed up with Kerri's collection and the things she spent her days creating, Mitchell stole the unused strings and gave them to fans. While it was widely agreed that they made the best souvenirs, everyone missed Kerri's creations. She largely stuck to pencils and paper after that. It was, after all, her preferred medium.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Award Time! Bloggers with Integrity

The way cool Malcolm isn't way cool just because he's bestowed the Bloggers with Integrity Award upon me way back in November. He's cool because the pop culture he dishes is my sort of pop culture. The good stuff. If you haven't checked him out, do so.

He's got a wicked-cool radio show, too. His playlists rock. Check them out; he returns to the air on 19 January.

Anyway, he's handed me this award, so now I've got to pay it forward, as always. A bit about the award...

This award was started by The Little Aussie Cynic to give props to those bloggers who stay true to themselves. The following paragraph, which explains the basis of the award, is taken from her blog:

"After looking, reading and watching many many Blogs and bloggers I decided to issue some recognition to those fellow bloggers I feel maintain integrity in the Blogs. All these bloggers incorporate within their wonderful sites, an integrity not always seen. They share terrific stories, topics, discussions and images. All Well worth a look."

There are categories for this award, so here they are, with their winners:
Creativity: Definitely L^2

Social Conscience: Shelley Kneupper Tucker, who is busting her tuchas to put together this amazing Share a Square program. If you haven't heard of it yet, go check it out. What she's doing will blow your minds.

Spirit of Giving: This has to go to Breeni Books, who gives all her books away, along with lots of wisdom and guidance in her book reviews.

There are two more categories, but I've spent a month trying to figure out who to shoehorn into them. I want to give awards to all of you 'cause you are important to me. Therefore, consider yourself for one of these:
Staying True to their Beliefs
Keeping it Real

And lastly, I really shouldn't encourage you to be my competition, but Lyric says I should. And who better to listen to than the fictional daughter of a fictional adult film star, who has gone on to open her own boutique for making women and men feel good about themselves? Check out this contest.

In my dreams, someone I know would win it and try it out to some ShapeShifter, all the while dreaming of Mitchell. Or Eric. Or Daniel. Or, yes, even Trevor.


Sunday, December 16, 2007


Fiction Outtake: The Day After (The Springer Saga)

Before we launch into the fiction, I want to point you guys to my bud Bunnygirl. Yeah, click on her name. She's going to hold a flash fiction carnival and you KNOW you want to be part of it.

And now, the end of the Springer Saga. Sort of.

Springer stretched out in the hammock in the back yard, chewing on a piece of grass and fingering his pipe, wondering if he wanted a smoke. Who needed to smoke when they'd been on stage with the best band on the planet? The day was cloudy, and it seemed that every single cloud he saw reminded him of something from the night before.

That cloud over Springer's head was his guitar. He'd changed the strings before the show. He'd polished the body, checked the pickups, made sure the knobs and dials were all working. It was a guess how to tune it, since ShapeShifter played in a bunch of different keys, but the roadies backstage had given everyone's guitars a super quick tuning when they'd been assigned their songs.

Even though he hadn't been able to pick out the sound of his specific guitar over the other two lottery winners on stage with him, not to mention Eric and that Walter dude everyone but him seemed to dig, he'd been there, onstage with ShapeShifter. The only time he'd been able to hear himself was when he'd hit that wrong note, but no one else seemed to notice. They probably figured it was that bass player who must've picked up a bass after he'd won the lottery for a spot onstage with the band.

That big, fluffy, high one was how he felt. He'd never been on stage before and being up there, with the lights shining down on his head until it felt like his hair would catch on fire and looking out at the crowd who was screaming, yelling, and singing along… He understood a lot more now, that was for sure. He understood why guys in bands put up with so much shit and what they meant when they said it was in their blood.

Problem was, Springer wasn't sure it was in his blood. He'd watched Eric's fingers and realized how much better the guy was. That the parts Springer was playing were dumbed down and basic. You had to be good to get as big as ShapeShifter. Better than Springer had realized. It was that simple.

That wispy cloud, the one that was hard to see, that was how he'd felt after the song ended, when the roadies or whoever they were came and herded him and the other two off the stage. There weren't even handshakes to say thanks; the band kept playing and the next two were already coming out for their chance to jam. The roadies had helped him unplug, had given him his commemorative picks, and showed him to the safe place for storing his guitar so he could go back around front and watch the rest of the show. It had run smooth and all, but was it all it'd been supposed to be?

He didn't want to say no. But saying yes wasn't right, either.

That didn't mean he wasn't saving up for next year already. Maybe it'd be different. Maybe Eric would remember him. Maybe he'd find a better job and be able to afford some guitar lessons. There had to be a way.

Maybe there was the stage in his blood after all.

Yep, it's Sunday night and Monday, so take a ride on Rhian's Poetry Train! The only rules are that there are no rules, so come take part in the fun.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007


Susan's Book Talk: Reading Challenge Update

I figured I'd take a few minutes and update my From the Stacks challenge. I'm doing quite well. Sort of.

Here's my original post.

As of Thanksgiving, I've read:
Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet
The Hook, by Donald E. Westlake
Death of a Saint Maker, by Allana Martin
The Heroin Diaries, by Nikki Sixx
Something else that was really badly written that I didn't finish
Stolen, by Kelly Armstrong
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (I must be missing something; I don't get it)
My New-Found Land by Diana Channing (ed by Ann Pino)

I decided I needed to read the first Kathy Reichs, which I have here in the house, before Death du Jour. And The Historian? I've decided to save it for the end of this month.

I need to pause here and say that Allana Martin's Death of a Saint Maker (links above) was quite the pleasant surprise. I've added her other books to my lists at my favorite book trading sites and as soon as I'm further caught up on what's here, I'll be picking those up, too. If anyone would like my copy, holler. I'll send it out to you, complete with promo bookmarks from other authors, many of whom hang out here. Really. If you want the book, leave a comment. If I get more than one, I'll either pick someone I particularly like, or I'll let The Opening Act pick the winner.

I've got until January 30 for this challenge. I may not make my 100 books for the year (I'm at 92 right now; I'm thinking it's not gonna happen) but I think it's safe to say that even if I don't finish the other books I'd stuck on my initial list, I'll at least read five -- which was all the challenge called for. *wink*

As for the Jewish lit challenge... nada yet, you'll notice. I'm reading a debut mystery for review at Front Street Reviews right now, but I might fix that whole Jewish reading challenge drought very soon. We'll have to see what sort of mood I'm in when I finish this.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #58 -- Musical Hanukkah Wrap-up

Just joining us? Where have you been the past ten days?

Thirteen Things now that the 2007 Musical Hanukkah Celebration is over.

1. Monday's Musical Hanukkah Benefit raised $9k, just from the ticket sales.

2. All 200 t-shirts were sold, for $30 each. That makes for another $6k.

3. ShapeShifter matched that money and gave it to a program in Riverview that's going to keep music in local schools.

4. Then they said they were giving an equal $30k to one of the national music in the schools organization.

5. That's 60 thousand dollars. $45k of which comes right out of the ShapeShifter boys' pockets.

6. There was a Chinese auction of stuff donated by local churches and other religious folk. That raised another thousand, and is also going to stay local.

7. Guests included Hammerhead's Howard the Hammer and Walter Cichewski, as well as a cartoon video featuring the Deadly Metal Hatchet.

8. Our buddy Springer was allowed to jam during ShapeShifter's famous song, Still Life. That's the song that almost everyone asked if they could play along with. Only two got to. Springer's a lucky dude, despite the incident with the cop earlier in the week.

9. He wasn't able to stick around or sneak back on for a second song.

10. Neither was anyone else who was there. Most tried. Many were shown the door for their rather vigorous and sometimes creative efforts.

11. After the show, Springer hung around the backstage door in the hopes that he'd get to see Eric and have a few words with him. He wasn't the only one waiting.

12. Eric must have left through another door. Springer never even got on the same side of the stage as his idol. From that angle, the night was a disappointment. Too bad he didn't think to go to Roach's.

13. Mitchell got off stage, surprised no one by dragging Kerri into the shower with him, hung with fans for a few hours at Roach's, and was in bed around four in the morning. Upon getting up on Tuesday, he realized he didn't have much more to do with himself than he'd had the day before.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Confused? Missed an episode or two? Well. It all started back here, last year. I thought it was such a cool idea that bringing it back this year was a no-brainer. It began here, with the introduction of Springer, a fan who desperately wants ShapeShifter's lead guitarist, Eric Wallace, to notice him. It continued here, with last week's Thursday Thirteen. I took us back to Springer, since many had questions about him, but the plot thickened. And since I love the guy, we spent the day of the show with Mitchell. Stay tuned for some final wrap-ups from Springer.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


...And the Winner is!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway for Jeffrey Overstreet's Auralia's Colors. I hope you'll stay tuned 'cause I'd like to give more books away; I have too many books and too many points at the book trading sites as it is.

Our winner today is WindyCindy. I dropped her an e-mail, but hotmail doesn't always like my address, so if you know WindyCindy, please ask her to get in touch with me by the 18th (that's a week from now) so I can send her book out.

And don't forget to check out Overstreet's reaction to my review. Click here for that. Pretty cool stuff, all around.

If you still want a copy of the book, use my link and pick yourself up one... It's one you may not want to miss.

Thanks again to all my entrants. And to #1, who picked the winner about as randomly as a random number generator could ("Dude, I have 55 comments. Pick a number between one and fifty five.").

For those of you itching for the end of Springer's saga and word of how last night's totally fictional benefit show went, stay tuned. It'll continue with this week's Thursday Thirteen and then one more fictional snippet. And then... Springer might be retired from the blog for a bit. I like the dude; let's see if he's got a book in him.

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Monday, December 10, 2007


Special Hanukkah Giveaway!

*Sticky post! Scroll down for the new stuff*

To keep the celebration of Hanukkah going and to point your attention toward my review of Jeffrey Overstreet's ground-breaking debut novel, Auralia's Colors, over at Front Street Reviews, I thought I'd -- reluctantly! -- give my copy to one of you.

Simply leave a message in this post and on Dec. 11th, the last night of Hanukkah, I'll pick a winner at random and share this great read. You can be anywhere in the world. You can celebrate any religion, sleep with either gender (or both), have any color skin, be right-handed, be left-handed, be like me and be ambidextrous ... the possibilities are endless.

The only thing I ask is that you read the book and tell me what you thought of it.

One more thing: I've registered it at BookCrossing. There's no need for you to make a journal entry, although it's fun to watch where a book travels and what people think of it.

Really. Read it. That's enough.

Have a wonderful Hanukkah. May the week be full of light and miracles.

(and for those of you waiting for more about Springer, keep reading. There will be more about this year's Musical Hanukkah Celebration. If you're lost about Springer, click here. The link in the Hanukkah Celebration will only take you to last year's post, so you can read from the beginning.)

Edited on Wednesday to say: check out Overstreet's reaction to my review here!

*Sticky post! Scroll down for the new stuff!*

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Sunday, December 09, 2007


Fiction Outtake: Show Day

Been following the saga of Springer? Why not?

Since it's the Monday of Hanukkah, that means it's the day of the now annual Musical Hanukkah Celebration, a fund-raiser thrown by our friends in the fictional band ShapeShifter. Read on; links to catch up will be at the bottom.

Mitchell rolled over and stretched, unsurpised that Kerri was already gone. She liked to get up at what she called normal hours. He, of course, kept a rock star's hours.

That meant it was noon, or near enough to it to count. Five hours until he had to be at the venue, and tonight was a doozy of a show. The second annual Musical Hanukkah Celebration. Fifty wanna-bes up on stage with the band, tripping on everything, fucking with his and Eric's foot pedals, trying to steal their picks.

Amazing that last year, it had been a shitload of fun.

Most of the credit for that had to go to the stage crew who'd stepped up and worked without pay -- like they'd be doing this year, too. The band had found some nice ways to say thanks, even going so far for a few of the thicker skulls as to make calls directly to get them some extra work. Mitchell had heard that one had found his calling and was sticking around as a cotton tech. Not bad for someone who hadn't seemed able to tell a size three-x from a small.

Mitchell finished stretching and got up. No need to shower on a show day. No need to do much, really, on a show day. Just press, and that had all been done already. There'd be no more until things wrapped up early tomorrow morning. Then it'd be three solid days of talking about how it had gone.

Kerri wasn't in the kitchen. When he finished two toasted bagels with cream cheese and strawberry jelly, an orange, and a handful of potato chips, Mitchell poked his head in the garage, but both Kerri's Jeep and bike were there. That meant she was probably up in her studio; Mitchell wondered if she'd want some company.

He grabbed his new guitar by the neck and carried it up to the third floor. "Hey."

She looked up from her artist table thingie. "Hey, yourself. Getting pysched?"

He shrugged. "Too early for that." It would be a great night; too many people had too much to prove for it to be any other way. The wanna-bes who'd be jamming with the band were all trying to be good enough to get the band's attention. The crew and club staff would all be tying to earn jobs with the band. The fans had to prove they were the band's best fans. Everyone would be at their best, and that alone would make it a great night.

He reminded himself it was too early to think about it. Thinking would only get him up for what was to come, too, and there was no way he could maintain that level of adrenaline for five hours. Better to be mellow now and let it kick in when they got to the club.

"Are you going to stand there all day?"

He shrugged. What else did he have to do with himself? He sure as shit wasn't going to go down into his little room and focus on band shit.

Kerri sighed, and he knew that was a signal to sit down in his usual chair by the window and make some music for her to work by. Quietly, so he didn't break her concentration, but after this many years with her, he knew what the rules were. Besides, fun things often happened when he distracted her.

Still, though, five couldn't arrive fast enough, and then things would get rolling. Because it was a benefit, it'd be crazy and chaotic and barely in control, and it'd make these five hours seem like paradise.

The whole idea for the Musical Hanukkah Celebration began here. Springer's story began here and continues here. And here are more facts about the event.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007


Fiction Outtake: Dents (The Springer Saga)

If you missed the start of the saga, go here. For more details about the Musical Hanukkah Celebration, go here or here. And if you want to know what comes next, stick around...

Springer froze. That had just not happened. That cop had not hit him.

And of course, since it was a cop and cops were never wrong, it'd all be Springer's fault, even though he'd been doing nothing wrong, just sitting at a red light, behind another car. At least he hadn't hit that other car.

The cop was out of his car, looking at the damage. Springer didn't know what to do, since this was a cop involved. Cops hated it when you got out of your car. They tasered you and shit.

Then the cop was back in his car, on the radio. And his lights were on, too.

Springer groaned. He'd finally earned that last thirty bucks for the show. He'd even gotten lucky and won the lottery and was going to jam with the band. He needed to be home practicing, getting as good as he could get in a few days so that when he hit the stage with ShapeShifter, Eric would notice how good he was and offer to help him out. Give him pointers and shit.

And now… he'd have all these stupid repairs. As if working overnights for time and a half hadn't been hard enough, now he'd have to do more of it. Months of it. Time and a half sounded good until you realized it was only three bucks more an hour, and most of that went to Uncle Sam.

The cop came over to him. "Pull over in that parking lot," he said, and left just as fast.

Springer wondered if he smelled bad or something. He pulled the car to the parking lot the cop had pointed at and waited.

He closed his eyes and tried to think of what it would be like to be on that stage on Monday. It was the only way he could get through this without going ballistic. He couldn't afford to get tasered. Not with the show so close.

As I said, stay tuned for more 'cause the concert itself is coming up on Monday night. (Just a reminder, this is all fiction!!) However, if you'd like to spread some Hanukkah love, check this:
Simonne at All Tips And Tricks is having a group writing project asking…’What is Your Best Blogging Achievement?’ You can see the entries here. I vote for Shelly to win. You should, too.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


Booking Through Thursday: OOP

Do you have a favourite book, now out of print, that you would like to see become available again? (I have several…)

Again, I was going to pass on this one, and again, it was Karen! to the rescue.

Let's stop and pretend, because we all know I prefer to pretend than be bored by real life. *grin*

Well, maybe we don't have to pretend. Let's dream, instead. Of a future that, when a book's print rights expire, will include a way for those rights to be resold, maybe on a royalty-only basis (but a HIGH royalty basis. Like ridiculously high) to a system that is essentially digital and POD. Yes, I said the dirty word: Print-on-Demand.

Because let's face it: for almost every book on the planet, there's someone who'd like to have it. Maybe they can't or won't pay a collector's price for it. Maybe they don't want a collector's edition in the first place. What they want is an old friend they can return to, time and again.

If it's done digitally and with a POD format, people can have these books when they want them. Books can be available forever.

And authors can have the option to re-sell the rights to a publisher who might want to promote the book and make a really slick copy that would be sold through bookstores around the world. Yep, the POD option would go away ... until the rights expire again.

Let's face it: most of us readers may be willing to wait for it to come out in paperback. But how many times have you sat down to pick up a book you've really wanted and bought whatever you find at a used book site? I'll admit, I do it all the time (that's why I have this small trading problem).

This means I don't think that people would wait for a book to return to its POD status. And who said it'd be cheaper that way, anyway? Not if an author would get the stupidly high royalty that I personally think we're entitled to!

No, it's not a perfect model I'm putting forth here. Remember, I'm dreaming here. Because let's face it: most books go out of print because the demand's dried up. Maybe one or two would sell on my imperfect model. But maybe enough would that a publisher would sit up, take notice, and buy the rights and promote the book and earn a few bucks.

And maybe publishers will promote all their mid-list and new authors, too. I know. I know.

Like I said, it's only a dream.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Thursday Thirteen #57 -- Musical Hanukkah Celebration 2007

Thirteen things you need to know leading up to this year's Musical Hanukkah Celebration

1. Our favorite boys in ShapeShifter conceived this idea last year to honor "the religion that was around before Christianity… and [to] celebrate our music scene at the same time," as ShapeShifter guitarist Eric Wallace said in an interview with Chelle LaFleur. (you can read the whole thing here.)

2. Here are the basics: it's held on the Monday during Hanukkah, because Monday is traditionally the slowest night in the entertainment business (yes, that explains why restaurants close on Mondays!). Everything from the food to the stage hands to the club itself is donated to the cause.

3. Tickets last year were $10. You could also chip in another $50 and jam onstage with ShapeShifter. Only fifty people were allowed to do that, but 300 tickets were sold.

4. Because it's a fund-raiser and because of the success, the boys jacked the prices this year. Now, it's $15 to get in and $75 to jam with the band. Still a bargain considering what a ticket to a ShapeShifter concert costs.

5. If you were here on Monday for the Poetry Train, you are still waiting to find out if our new friend, Springer, raises the money he needs to attend this year. Stay tuned; we're not done with his story yet. Read the first part of it here.

6. Notice how he's forgotten to factor in the price of a limited-edition, commemorative t-shirt?

7. I'm still trying to figure out the logistics of having 50 people jam onstage with a rock band. One thing that helps is that this turns into a full two-hour-long ShapeShifter show. I think that means five people on stage for ten songs, and then the band finishes up on their own. Or with surprise friends.

8. Last year, the concert was as fictional as ShapeShifter but the charity that the donations went to wasn't. Music Lives seems to have ... not lived. Thus, the ShapeShifter boys will keep their raised funds closer to home and make sure that the kids of Riverview and the surrounding area have great exposure to music in their schools.

9. Wouldn't it be great to have real-life t-shirts from this? I think so, too. As soon as that awesome graphic chick comes up with a logo for ShapeShifter, I'll see what I can do.

10. It ought to go without saying that any net profits from this dream shirt that may or may not happen will go to a charity that supports music in the schools.

11. Last year, Eric had said he and his father were going to work to get more people involved with the event, particularly people within the religious community. This year, a (still fictional!) Chinese auction will be happening at the show, too. At least one of the prizes is tickets to a VIP box at a Riverview Otters game. (that's the city's baseball team)

12. Last year, the band managed to talk the club's chef into making potato pancakes for 300 people. This year, the latkes are being catered.

13. Once again this year, ShapeShifter will match all monies raised from the tickets and the opportunity to jam onstage with the band. They want to see the take before committing to matching the t-shirt sales and the money raised from the Chinese Auction, but they probably will. After all, it's all for a good cause.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll try to add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will try to link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Big thanks to Headmeister for this week's cool header!

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Susan's Book Talk: A Natural Fit of a Reading Challenge

It seems fitting to post this today, since Hanukkah just started.

I run my book club. I think I've mentioned that before.

It's a Jewish book club. Which is why the Jewish Literature Challenge was a no-brainer for me to sign up for. It runs from Hanukkah to Passover (that'd be now until April, for anyone like me who's too lazy to consult a calendar.)

Upcoming for our group are books including:

Kabbalah, by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman
The Kommandant's Girl, by Pam Jenoff

(I'd like to pause here and point out that all three books came to my attention around last year's Debut a Debut reading contest!)

A Day of Small Beginnings, by Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum
Rashi's Daughters: Miriam, by Maggie Anton
The Last Days of Dogtown, by Anita Diamant
Dirty Sally, by Michael Simon
Getting Old is Murder, by Rita Lakin.

Now, this is our list of potential reads. Clearly, in four months, we'll only read three or four of them. The challenge asks us to read at least five books, so I'm looking over my list of what's coming up on my personal stack. I see a Daniel Silva or two -- good stuff. I see Orson Scott Card's Sarah (thanks Breeni!) and A Blessing on the Moon, by Joseph Skibell. And as I walk around my office and look at the piles in here, I see more, more, more.

In short, because of book club, I'm always on the lookout for new Jewish lit to bring to the group. As I've mentioned before, we read as varied a body of work as we can. (this makes me think of my recent Booking Through Thursday, where I talked about palate cleansers.)

I'm open to suggestions, always. Both for book club and not.

Just remember... I prefer fiction. Go figure.

(and don't forget to enter the contest for my copy of Auralia's Colors!)

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


Fiction Outtake: Thirty Bucks

If you weren't around last year for the Musical Hanukkah Celebration, NOW is the moment to catch up! Hanukkah starts Tuesday night, and I'll have a little gift for you this year, too, along with some fun posts.

It hadn't been hard to raise the sixty dollars. Take the girl out to Roach's instead of Big Bucks. Skip a movie here, work an extra overnight there. And soon, Springer had tucked that sixty bucks away inside that one pair of underwear his grandma had given him, the flannel boxers with reindeers on them that she'd thought were so cute, she couldn't resist. Even Springer's mom resisted so much as touching them, making them a safe place to hide every important thing he owned. It wasn't much: a pipe, his ShapeShifter guitar pick collection, and his precious sixty bucks.

If Grandma had given him the cash instead of those dreadful boxers, he'd be able to make up the difference he was now facing. Boomer at KRVR had gone on the air two weeks ago and said that since last year's show sold out so fast and since it's all for charity, ticket and jam prices went up. It was worth it, Boomer said. It was a chance to help kids who needed help.

What about him, Springer wondered. No one was helping him that he could see. He had to stop over at Grandma's once a week and mow her lawn and take out her trash and do anything else around the house that she needed him, even though baiting the mousetraps in the basement grossed him out. Emptying them made him yak, every time. And then he had to clean that up, too.

It wasn't fair. And what made it worse was that here he was, spending a year ponying up the cash he thought he needed, only to hear that nope, he needed fifteen bucks for the ticket and seventy five for the jam instead of ten and fifty.

He needed thirty bucks, and fast. Tickets were going on sale in a week, up at KRVR's studios again. No lines, no sleeping out, no nothing. The only good news was that this year, there'd be an extra fifty people allowed in. But still, only fifty allowed to jam. They couldn't bend on that one, or they'd be going all night long.

It wasn't fair. If only Springer could get up there with ShapeShifter and show them how good he could play, they'd come up to him after and help him out, the way they'd helped out those guys in Deadly Metal Hatchet, who sucked. But because they'd toured with ShapeShifter, they were someone. Same for Hammerhead, even though they didn't suck.

Thirty bucks.

Springer leaned over to the radio. Boomer was talking about it some more. People had questions. She was answering.

"The way the jam session will work is that if you want to jam, you'll get a lottery ticket. If we pull your ticket, you have twenty-four hours to get your seventy-five big ones down here to the KRVR studios or we pull someone else's name."

Springer figured that meant he had a week and a day to round up that extra thirty bucks. Maybe his girl would front him the cash if he promised to take her to Big Buck's once he paid it back. She had the cash. She always had cash, even though she wouldn't buy dinner when they went out. Thirty bucks shouldn't be hard. Maybe he'd cut back on the cigarettes. Work a few more overnights, as much as he hated them.

There had to be a way. Because once he got up there with ShapeShifter, it'd all start to happen for him. He just knew it. He could taste it.

Let me know if you like Springer and want to see more of him! I sort of like the dude, myself.

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