This week’s WriteTip is a bit of a departure from usual form. No craft tips or lists. Just a passionate statement about something many writers often fail to do: keep up with reading.
It happens to all of us as we become writers—we get so involved in writing and craft and everything surrounding it (promotion, social media, etc.) that we slowly see our reading time disappearing or eroding to almost nil. And soon, there just isn’t time to read. Or so we tell ourselves. But it’s a lie, a big lie, and it is a dire one.
I once fell into this trap, and I can tell ya, my happiness suffered, but more importantly, my writing suffered. When I started reading again, my writing productivity and satisfaction with the results climbed. I now regularly read two novels a week, and still write an average of 1800 words a day when on project (there are breaks for edits, polishing, and so forth from time to time). And I am so glad I rediscovered the joy of reading.
For me, the challenge came from reading too many books in the same genres or sub genres. When I started writing science fiction and fantasy in 2009, for example, I had not been regularly reading in those genres as I had during childhood, so I found myself out of touch and behind and wanted to catch up and get a sense of the field. Because I enjoy such things, soon I was devouring everything I could find in those sub genres, and because when I write, reading in the genre I am writing is helpful, it was fine. I am not one of those writers who is prone to copying plot and characters from what I am reading, so my stories were not negatively effected by reading in the same genre I write. Instead, I was inspired and reading helped me create the feel I wanted. When I wrote my Saga of Davi Rhii books, I wanted them to feel like Star Wars: A New Hope, so I rewatched the original trilogy and reread the Zahn tie-ins and mission accomplished. I realize not every writer can do this, but I can, absorbing a feel and elements that I incorporate into my own voice and style to enhance my book. If you can’t do that, I am sorry. I really am, so you may have to try a different approach, but this works great for me.
But after about 8 years of nonstop science fiction and fantasy with rare breaks to read anything else, I started to burn out. Not only did my ideas dry up, but my enthusiasm waned greatly, and so I found myself slugging through books and reading half the usual number if that. Deciding that perhaps it was time for a break, I started reading other genres, with particular focus on procedural thrillers—which I have always loved on TV but had not read much—and boom, I was off and running again. The best part of reading outside my genre was I didn’t find myself interrupting my reading constantly with subconscious literary analysis or craft breakdowns. Instead, I could just enjoy the reads. Now that I write thrillers, I let myself entertain such thoughts a bit more but I have disciplined my mind so it usually occurs when I am not reading so as to avoid spoiling the experience.
An additional benefit is that I have learned new vocabulary and turns of phrase I can then incorporate into my own arsenal to enhance and expand my voice. We sometimes forget our limits. And it is good to see how other writers use words in masterful and interesting ways to remind us, even show us, how we might use them better and more interestingly moving forward. In the process, we can gain not only useful insights but words and phrases that expand our palate and reinforce our craft.
To me, reading is one of life’s joys, and by losing it, I lost something important. After all, reading is what made me want to write and helped me decide what stories I wanted to tell. Now, I read a variety of genres and some nonfiction (not always research related though often it is with a few writing books thrown in), and I really find I write better, I feel better, and I am more creative as a result.
So this week’s write tip is a bit of a departure from the usual craft how tos, but I just wanted to encourage and remind my readers that reading is still important and probably an activity that was a large part of why you write, so please don’t let yourself lose touch with that experience. Finding time for it will be one of the best gifts you give yourself all year.
I know, I’ve made two Recap posts already on ChiCon, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few special moments I’ll always remember from the experience. Both touching and humorous, they combined to enrich the experience and the memories I carry forward from it. I think you’ll see why. I present them chronologically.
1) Surviving A New Cabbie’s First Fare. Somehow, upon arriving 90 minutes late on Amtrak, 90 minutes before my reading I might add, I wound up in the taxi of a man whose driving was an adventure. Not only did make some odd lane changes but then entered the Hyatt the wrong way and had to turn around, driving across the sidewalk and scattering the bellboys in the process. “It’s my first time,” he said, “I’m new.” I didn’t argue, just handed him the money and hurried to escape the cab.
2) Black Gate Crew Attends My First World Con Reading. I am not a big fan of doing readings. It’s just something I’ve always felt nervous and awkward about. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending how you look at it) my crowds have always been small. But this time not only did my crowd size increase but it was packed with fellow writers, many of whom were Black Gate staff. Seeing fellow successful authors like Howard Andrew Jones, James Enge and Chris Kastensmidt and a successful editor like John O’Neill not only make time to attend but express encouragement at my performance really started the Con on a great note and leant the feeling that I was on the right track as a writer. I’m grateful,
3) Recognized By Robert J. Sawyer at Thursday Dinner. My first dinner, my first night at the Con, and I run into Robert J. Sawyer at the restaurant. He recognizes me, double checks my name badge to be sure, and then introduces me to his wife and companions, inviting me to stop by the bar later and chat more. I had never met Rob and only interviewed him via Twitter, but we have interacted on Facebook a bit. Still, it was a good feeling to be recognized by someone of that caliber and it was an event that repeated itself throughout the Con as several others recognized me as well and said “I know your name, sure” as they shook my hand. For a small fish, it was a big splash.
4) David Brin Thanking SFWA Volunteers. On Friday morning, I spent two hours with SFWA Secretary Ann Leckie and Edge Editor Victoria Strauss volunteering at the SFWA table. While several people dropped by, David Brin made a point to shake our hands and kindly thank us for volunteering. It was a classy move and greatly appreciated since I have always found Brin’s snarky outspoken comments on Facebook a bit offputting and since he is “David Brin” (intimidating in itself). That graciousness won me over. What a class act.
5) Meeting and Being Teased by Robert Silverberg.In many ways, Silverberg is my Tolkien. I’ve told him so. He insists that I call him ‘Bob,” to which I replied: “I don’t know if I can.” But our first face-to-face was at his signing after I’d waited around 40 minutes in line. My quota of 3 books were the original Majipoor trilogy, and a couple were used hardbacks I’d tracked down, since I prefer getting hardbacks signed for longevity. Glancing inside one, Silverberg notes the ‘Property Of Margene’ stamp. “So, what happened to Margene? And how did you get her book?” he teases. I fumbled a bit then said I’d bought it at a library sale. He smiles, shooting me a cockeyed look. “Please give Margene my best if she survived the exchange.” I couldn’t help but laugh, he smiled, we chatted a bit more, and I left hoping he really was just teasing. I swear, I don’t know Margene.
6) A fan arrives at my signing with my book. Okay, yes, my books have been out a while. But this is really the first time someone already had one when they came to a signing to get it signed. Before they’ve bought them from me, then had me sign. So it was memorable and special to know my babies are making their way out in the world and that booksellers are being supported in the process. I only wound up signing 5 books that day, while watching Seanan McGuire’s never-ending line next to me and George R.R. Martin’s before her, but it was a nice feeling to be known before hand.
7) Moderating My First World Con Panel Ever. Not only was it my first World Con panel, but the room was packed t0 standing room only, with people waiting outside wanting to get in. On top of that, my fellow panelists included Nancy Kress, Jay Lake and Charles Stross. The lofty topic: Moral Ambiguity In Science Fiction. Having Nancy Kress, whose writing books have taught me so much, look at me for permission to talk almost made me laugh with embarrassment. Of course, that was just her showing respect to the moderator and it wound up being a delightful panel and one I’ve heard good things about from many since. In fact, we recorded it for an upcoming podcast, so you’ll get the chance to hear it soon enough.
8 ) Mitch Bentley’s Art Show Award. Despite my friend and frequent cover artist Mitch Bentley being the first to greet me upon my arrival at the hotel, I didn’t make it to the art show until Sunday, my first free day of the Con. Imagine my delight when I found Mitch’s booth and discovered a cover I had commissioned for my ebook release of the Davi Rhii prequel story “Rivalry On A Sky Course” had won him a Judge’s Choice Award. Mitch’s art has always moved me. I knew I wanted him to do my book cover from the minute I first saw it at ConQuest 41 in Kansas City, May 2010. Since then we’ve collaborated on two novels and this ebook with more in the works. More over, the covers are inspired by the stories and scenes within them, so I am thrilled to see Mitch recognized for his work, especially stuff my own work inspired.
9) Resnick’s Recognition. I had seen Resnick in passing several times and even-handed him some Brazilian coffee grounds I’d brought for him, but apparently he was so exhausted he didn’t recognize me (many had this issue due to my new Sellect ‘stache I learned) until I handed him a signed copy of the novel he blurbed. Then he did an “of course, I hadn’t realized that was you” thing and we spent a delightful 45 minutes hanging out. Resnick has been a good friend and mentor to me and I had not expected to get much time with him at a Con where he was GOH, let alone “alone” time, so it was a delight. But the priceless look on his face when my identity connected was a highlight for sure.
10) Listening In As Silverberg and Dave Kyle Reminisce. Spotting Silverberg in the Dealer’s Room Sunday, I brought over a few more books I had not gotten him to sign and overheard a comparing notes of two long time SFF community members discussing Cons, books, life, genre and much more. It was the kind of moment that one loves being a fly on the wall. Then Silverberg saw the Ace Double I was carrying and commented: “Look Dave, this book is almost as old as you are.” Kyle quipped: “It’s in far better condition.” We all laughed and then Silverberg signed it. Their discussion though could have been a panel in and of itself.
11) An Accidental Anthology Pitch. One friend I managed to run into a lot was Jamie Todd Rubin, who gathered a bunch of us Sunday afternoon in the bar to hang out. Patrick Swenson was there, along with Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Jennifer Brozek, Jay Werkheiser, and later Tod McCoy. It was a fun group and we found all kinds of stuff to talk about. But somewhere along the way we happened to discuss sports, and I–off the cuff–mentioned I hoped to do a Space Sports themed anthology one day. Next thing I knew I had three very excited writers pitching their stories. Two of them would be reprints. And they were talking it up. I hadn’t intended to make it a project immediately, as I already have three in the development hopper, but Champions: Spec Sports is now in the works and I found myself gathering ideas and writers the rest of the evening. A memorable way to start an anthology project for sure.
12) Watching Friends Accept Hugos. John DeNardo won for SFSignal to which I contribute, and Kij Johnson and Ursula Vernon won for Novella and Graphic Novel. Cat Valente and Seanan McGuire were amongst Podcast winners for SF Squeecast. Of the five, I know John the best but it was still a delight to see people I have chatted with multiple times and respect get such recognition. The fact that I helped contribute with my votes was a bonus.
As I stated in my Recaps, it felt a lot like I’d come of age and transitioned from fan/wannabe on the sidelines to full fledged community member and that an encouraging feeling only aided by moments like these ten. If you went to World Con, what were your most memorable moments? I’d love to hear about them.
For what it’s worth…
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince(2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on World Encounters and Space & Shadows: SpecNoir with coeditor John Helfers, both forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
In 2009 when I started writing The Worker Prince, my debut science fiction novel, I had no idea what urban fantasy was. Of course, as I got into the industry and reading I heard bits and pieces. True Blood showed up and I met and became friends with Kat Richardson and John A. Pitts whose novels fell in that category. One of the advantages of hosting Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat is that I get sent tons of books to read and deliberately book and ask for a variety of genres. So I finally managed to read John and Kat’s books and I loved them. I have never been that into paranormal. Poltergeist was amusing but silliness. I do believe in spirits but I’m don’t think about ghosts a lot, and vampires and zombies to me are about the most tired things out there. It takes a lot to get me interested in them. I loved Anne Rice’s series and that did it for me on vamps. Zombies have just never interested me. Let dead people stay in the ground. Just a body. Meh. On the other hand, urban fantasy is huge with tons of bestselling authors, including Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson…need I go on? So of course SFFWRTCHT needs to cover it and I need to be aware.
Now, I simply love it! One of my favorite genres and someday I will write some. I have ideas in development now, in fact. I read 52 books a year just for chat plus extras for blogging on SFSignal, etc. and blurbs, which I get asked for now. Usually 70 books at least is around the number, so it may take me a while to get through a lot of stuff (no Hamilton or Butcher yet). But these 9 are the Urban fantasy I’ve read so far. And I loved all of them for different reasons. They’re quite distinctive from each other.
1) Greywalker by Kat Richardson – Harper Blaine is a P.I. who died after an attack for two minutes then came back with the ability to see spirits. Yep, she’s a Greywalker now, and this series has gotten deserved high praise. [See Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Paul Goat Allen raving about them here. ]These are bestsellers for a reason and the seventh book, Seawitch, just arrived this month. Mysteries with Harper investigating and dealing with all kinds of spooky creatures from vampires to ghosts, etc., they are well paced with a great noir feel and make good use of their Pacific Northwest settings. From the cover description, although I like Kat as a person a lot, I was not at all sure I’d enjoy her books. Never have I been so wrong. I’ve read two so far and own all but the latest. Cannot wait to find time to read them!
2) Sarah Beauhall by John A. Pitts – Another where I love the writer as a person but the description didn’t enthrall me. And again, I was soooo wrong. (Are you noticing a pattern?) Pitts has taken the old tropes and made them new with this one. Also set in the Pacific Northwest, Sarah Beauhall is a blacksmith apprentice and movie props maven whose prop sword turns out to be a magical dragon killing sword. The magical dragon killing sword. And she finds this out, of course, by encountering someone looking for the sword to kill dragons. But these are not the green, scaly dragons of legend and lore just yet. They are men and women who work on Wall Street and various places. And when their schemes begin to threaten Sarah and her world, she puts her sword to good use. Great fight sequences, a fun play with an SCA-like reenactment group, nice humor, and a touch of romance with Sarah struggling to open up to her girlfriend. Packing enough testosterone-laced action to satisfy male readers and enough romantic emotional moments to please female readers, this series is for everyone and books 2 and 3 are out too. Fantastic!
3) Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter – A member of the illustrious Magical Words blog team with David B. Coe, amongst others, Hunter has been inspired by Anne Rice but made vampire tales set in New Orlean’s her own. If you read my introduction, you already know I would not have picked me up if her publicist hadn’t scheduled her for SFFWRTCHT. I’m so glad she did. The last of her kind, a part Cherokee vampire hunter and skinwalker capable of shapeshifting into any creature she wants, Jane’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps. In the process, she gets more than she bargained for when her employer is murdered and Jane winds up working for Leo, the head vampire of the entire region. In subsequent books, she works with Leo to investigate incidents involving other vampires, even heading off to North Carolina at one point as a mediator. Jane is not the dainty heroine but an ass kicking, motorcycle riding, take no prisoners badass, but yet Hunter manages to write the books with no gratuitous sex, violence or language, keeping it PG despite the violence. And I doubt you’d have noticed if I hadn’t said that. Great writing, inventive worldbuilding and pure fun. Highly recommended.
4) Hallie Michaels by Deborah Coates– Brand new, the first book having just arrived a few months back, this series surprised me too. A new author sent to me by Alexis Nixon, publicist at TOR, Coates’ stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Fantasy and Science Fiction and Best American Fantasy, amongst other places. Hallie Michaels is a soldier fighting a war in Afghanistan when she’s called home for her sister’s funeral. The police and townsfolk say “suicide,” but Hallie can’t believe it and her investigation into it uncovers a startling plot that endangers the entire town. Something magical or supernatural is going on and a trail of bodies are associated with it. She soon discovers someone she used to know is responsible and winds up fighting for her life. I don’t know where book 2 will take us when it comes out, but Coates used the rural South Dakota setting masterfully in Wide Open and I can’t wait to read more!
5) Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris – I came to this series late, after already watching the TV show, because I was invited to interview Harris. (Confession: yes, I watch True Blood despite my lack of interest in vampires. It hooked me early on and I can’t look away, okay? Is that so wrong? Plus, I have a crush on Anna Paquin…) The books are better than the series and filled with great humor, southern charm and fun. I really enjoyed these. Told solely from Sookie’s quirky point of view, these are fast, can’t put them down reads. I can’t wait to read more.
6) Control Point by Myke Cole – Not your typical urban fantasy, Cole, a veteran of the Gulf War, has envisioned a contemporary world with various types of magic. The military even has a special unit assigned to hunt down rogue users. A few with the approved classes of magic actually work for the military, but then Oscar Britton finds out he’s a portomancer–ah oh, verbotten–and he’s forced to run, leaving everything behind. Caught and interned for training by the military he’s sworn to serve, he discovers the gift is the least of his worries. An evil magical force is on the rise and this Army officer must save the world or else. Packed with action and intrigue and great characters, Cole takes you inside military life in an intimate way and still makes you believe its a world where magic could happen. Gritty and powerful, this book opened my eyes to possibilities for creativity I hadn’t imagined and it’ll open yours too.
7) Grigori Legacy by Linda Poitevin – Ah, angels, the tired 80s trope are back. I booked Linda for chat and expected to be bored. Instead, I found myself reading two detective thrillers that just happened to have angels in them. Heaven and hell are at war and humans are caught in between, including homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis whose investigation of a serial killer points to a surprising and unusual suspect. Yes there’s angels and a romance between an angel and a human. Yes, there’s God and the Devil and some Catholic theological worldbuilding used here, but Poitevin used it to enhance worldbuilding not to sell an ideology or religion. Gritty, intense, fast-paced and engaging. Another set of books you won’t want to put down until you reach the end.
8 ) Low Town by Daniel Polansky – Another departure and one that’s hard to classify but I’m putting it here. Unlike the others, it’s not set in our contemporary world but a fictional medieval -type world and the protagonist is a disgraced intelligence agent and forgotten war hero turned independent drug dealer. Yes, that’s right. Known as the Warden, he leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs as he constantly hustles for customers and protecting his turf from competition. Then he discovers a murdered child and feels compelled to discover who’s responsible. The mission finds him caught up in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psychotic head of Black House intelligence bureau that once employed him. What he finds is far more sinister and dark than he’d ever imagined. Noir and action packed, Polansky has invented a genre almost. He mixes epic/adventure fantasy and urban fantasy with detective noir seamlessly and it’s a compelling debut. Book 2 arrives this Fall.
9) Magic Ex Libris by Jim C. Hines – Hines switches from Goblins and fairy tale princesses to an urban fantasy about Libriomancers, basically people who can pull magic from books and use it in the contemporary world. Hines is a smartass in real life and it extends to his writing, but that’s okay, because the book is laugh out loud funny as a result and endears you tot he characters. This is a voice you’ll be willing to spend time with for a while, and it won’t be long because Libriomancer is a fast, compelling read. Isaac Vainio, a member of the secret order of Libriomancers founded by Johannes Gutenberg himself (yes, that Gutenberg), Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world and barely manages to escape. Then he discovers his mentor has been killed and Gutenberg himself kidnapped and a hot, motorcyle-riding dryad shows up asking him to help track down her former lover, leading to their discovery of a dark power that’s manipulating both vampires and humans and causing major havoc. Hines cleverly incorporates the mythos of every vampire world you’ve encountered, creating a world of vampire types and layers, and throws in books by famous authors real and imagined as well. Fun, fast-paced, with plenty of action and good coming of age and romantic arcs, this book was a delightful way to while away hours. I can’t wait for the second one, coming from Daw next year.
So there you have 9 Urban Fantasy series that I think you’ll really like. Great weekend, summer or Fall reads to keep you entertained and remind you why you love books. I’m looking for more to read now. So what are some of your favorite Urban Fantasies? I’d love to hear about them in comments. Oh, and click here to buy any of these books,too. For what it’s worth… To the writers, I love you guys!
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured in anthologies and magazines. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. A freelance editor, he’s edited novels and nonfiction and also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
Well, at least for me, one of the biggest Conventions of my year has arrived: Convergence, which is being held in Bloomington, Minnesota, Independence Day weekend, Thursday through Sunday July 5-8. This Con has been around for many years and now occupies multiple hotels. There are tons of invited guests, including Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, Bonnie Burton, Lyda Morehouse, Tamora Pierce, Paul Cornell, Lynne M. Thomas, Ruth Berman, Steven Brust, and little old me. And yes, there are a few current Hugo nominees included there. The full schedule can be found here. But here’s my schedule. I’ll also be at the Infinite Diversity Dealer Table selling my book along with collectibles and other items. I had great hopes that this would also be the first Con at which my latest novel, The Returning, will be available, so I’m excited to launch it personally out into the world after its trying journey. But books are printing and ship Monday so it’s looking doubtful to my frustration. Don’t even have a copy to show anyone yet. Fingers crossed that I get a pleasant surprise before I leave.
Friday, July 6th, 2012
10:00-10:55 Dealer’s Room
11:00-12:00 Autograph Table-Signing
Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Dana Baird, Michael Merriam will be available to sign their work.
12:00-1:00 Dealer’s Room
2:00pm – 3:00pm @ BloomingtonPanel: Social Networking For Luddites Why would anyone have a Facebook account AND a Twitter account? What is Google Plus anyway and why should you care? How to use social networking as way to *actually* stay connected online. Panelists: Joan Marie Verba, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Sharon Stiteler, Sigrid Ellis, Ted Meissner
Panel: Keeping The Next Book Fresh How do you keep your writing fresh when it is time to sit down and write the next book or story? Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Kelly McCullough, Holly Day, Shannon Ryan, Tamora Pierce
10:00pm – 11:00pm @ Atrium 7Panel: So You’ve Sold a Novel: Now What Happens? Congratulations — you sold your novel. Now comes the hard part: rewrites, editorial comments, cover art, marketing, promotions, and making sense of the royalty statement. Come ask established novelists questions about what happens after the sale. Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Michael Merriam, Doug Hulick, Kelly McCullough, Dana Baird
Saturday, July 7, 2012
10:00 a.m. -12 noon Dealer Room
2:00pm – 3:00pm @ Atrium 7Panel: The Importance Of Strong Heroines Damsels in distress used to be the mainstay trope of SFF but now stronger heroines are not only in demand but even common. Why is it important to avoid stereotypes in writing women characters? Are there any limitations? What are the pitfalls? Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Catherine Lundoff, Tamora Pierce, Dana Baird, Kathy Sullivan
3:30-3:55 Dealer’s Room
3:30pm – 4:30pm @ Cabana 201Reading: Bryan Thomas Schmidt Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of The Worker Prince reads from his own work, including his new novel The Returning.
4:30-6:00 Dealer’s Room
8:30pm – 9:30pm @ Atrium 3Panel: The Importance of Faith In Fiction Lust, greed, anger, revenge are all common motivators seen in fiction, but in the real world, faith is often just as strong or stronger. Why is the power of belief so powerful? How do you incorporate it in worldbuilding? Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Caroline Symcox, Emma Bull, Veronica Cummer, Steven Jones
10:00pm – 11:00pm @ Atrium 8Panel: The Evolution of Heroes Heroes have evolved from larger than life good guys who are perfect to dark, imperfect anti-heroes and somewhere in between. What brought about the changes? What kind of heroes do you like? Where do you see heroes evolving in the future? Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Michael Scott Shappe, Kelly McCullough, Mark Stegbauer, Daren Johnson
Sunday, July 8, 2012
9:30am – 10:30am @ Atrium 8Panel: The Christian Roots Of Modern Fantasy Carroll and MacDonald were clergymen. Chesterton and Lewis were Christian apologeticists. Tolkien was a fervent Catholic and Rowling and Meyer have both discussed the role of faith in their work. What about fantasy has attracted the Christian imagination? Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Phillip Andrew Bennett Low, Kristina Halseth, Steven Jones, Caroline Symcox
10:30-10:55 Dealer’s Room
11:00am – 12:00pm @ BloomingtonPanel: Marketing 101-From Your Room Party To Your Own Business Selling yourself isn’t easy. How do you get potential customers to want our product? It is easy but it isn’t always simple. Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Romeo Azar, Anjila Olsen
12:00-1:00 Dealer’s Room
I have to hit the road mid-day, but I’ll stick around until early afternoon for sales, signing, etc.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured in anthologies and magazines. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA and is currently working on his first epic fantasy trilogy, the middle grade chapter book series Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter, and the third Davi Rhii book.
ConQuesT 41, two years ago, was my first science fiction and fantasy convention and a great experience. Last year, I didn’t make it back to Kansas City for this, but since I live nearby now, the group sponsoring the Con is my home fan group, and they’ve been a great support for me. This year, I’ve been involved in promoting the Con but I’m also a panelist and moderator as well as having a table in the dealer room. I’m really looking forward to this. Some changes are still happening but this should be a fairly final look at my schedule. One of the most exciting parts is a live recording of Adventures In SF Publishing, in which Brent Bowen and I will talk “the state of small fiction” with Year’s Best/Locus reviewers Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton. We’ll be recording several AISFP interviews that weekend, including one with me about my new book, but the guys at AISFP asked me to join Brent to interview some of the other attendees. We don’t have the list all lined up, but we’ll announce it later. It should be a fun group. Those of note attending include: Glen Cook, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Writer GOHs), Gardner (Editor GOH), Ursula Vernon (Artist GOH), Robin Wayne Bailey, Steven Gould, Shannon K. Butcher, Lee Killough, H.C. Stratmann, Bradley Denton, and Dayton Ward.
I hope some of you can make the Con. It’s usually well attended, 500-600 people, and it’s been around forty years. So here’s what I’ll be doing as far as panels. I may have a reading as well, but that time’s not announced yet. When I’m not here, I’ll be at my dealer table (when the room’s open) or the bar or recording interviews for Adventures In SF Publishing podcast with Brent Bowen as co-host.
Friday – May 25
Have I got a Book For You – 4-5pm Benton B
Have I got a book for you! If you loved Firefly, try reading this — A group discussion melee! Panelists bring up popular books of today and yesterday, and everyone can make recommendations that we might not have heard of yet!
James K. Burk, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Kat Donovan, Brent Bowen, Bradley Denton
Star Wars: The Saga Continues – 5-6pm Benton B Star Wars: The Saga Continues: Movies, TV, Books, Games, oh my! The Star Wars universe continues to expand with new books, video games, and movie re-releases. Not to mention the Clone Wars cartoon and the in the works TV Series! Join us for a discussion of everything happening, “In a galaxy far, far away.”
Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Moderator), Nick “McKay” Seddon, David J. Pederson
Adventures In SF Publishing Podcast LIVE – 6-7 pm Ballroom
Adventures In SF Publishing Podcast LIVE: Brent Bowen & Bryan Thomas Schmidt talk the state of short fiction with Year’s Best editors/Locus reviewers Gardner Dozois & Rich Horton including questions from the audience. See how a podcast is recorded & enjoy the conversation at the same time.
Saturday – May 26
Game of Thrones (Moderator) – 12-1pm Fremont Game of Thrones: Is High Fantasy Making a Comeback or Is It a Fluke? – Discuss the critical and ratings love of the HBO series, as well as the Bestseller status of this Fantasy series.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt (moderator), James K. Burk, Terry-Lynne DeFino, Margene Bahm
Book Launch: Robin Wayne Bailey – 2-3pm Benton
The Great Book Signing Event – 3-4pm Ballroom
Book Launch: Hadley Rille Books – 4-5pm Benton
Book Trailers (Moderator) – 4-5pm Fremont Book trailers: Video Gold? – With the advent of YouTube, anyone can produce and promote products. In this panel, we discuss the finer points of creating a video trailer of your book in order to generate interest on the internet.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Moderator), Alex Boyd, Nick “McKay” Seddon, Sherry Foley
Sunday – May 27
PR Kicking Ass in High Heels – 3-4pm Benton B (PR) Kicking ass in high heels: These days women can kick ass, save the world, and still have time to fall in love. But why are they still doing it in hot pants and high heels? Can heroines be a size 18 and still be beautiful?
Deb Sturgess, Sharon Lee, Bev Hale, Karin Rita Gastreich, Nancy “Cleo” Hathaway, Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, andThe Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories featured in anthologies and magazines. He edited the new anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
Okay it’s time. For two years now, I have amassed a library of classic SFF books but have not managed so far to tear into reading them. To be fair, I read 52 books a year just for SFFWRTCHT. And I do get requests for other interviews now, so I read another 20-40 for those throughout the year. That’s a lot of reading for a guy who takes about 5 days to go through a 350 page novel. That amount of reading will not change. I am still committed, happily, to that and grateful for the way it has allowed me to read a broad spectrum of SFF contemporary works by a wide variety of authors.
But I have this gap in knowledge that keeps coming back to haunt me, and, as time goes on, I fear it only deepens. As I go to Cons and participate in panels, as I talk with other writers about craft, not being familiar with some of the very classic works everyone so often talks about is a handicap and I must overcome it. So I am challenging myself to a Journey Through The Classics. I’m starting with a few core books and will expand as I can. I am going to read these, most of them fortunately much shorter as older novels used to be, and then add more to the list, with the hopes that I can start catching up my knowledge of the SFF field through history. I have also acquired a number of older magazines, some pulp, some 20-year-old issues of magazines like F&SF, Analog and Amazing. I am going to work my way through those as well. But first, I need to get going on these books, so here’s my list, most of which I have not yet read, some of which I may have at some point but don’t remember.
The Dying Earth by Jack Vance The Skylark Of Space by EE Smith To Open The Sky by Robert Silverberg Do Androids Dream Of Electronic Sheep? by Philip K. Dick The Caves Of Steel by Isaac Asimov The Listeners by James Edwin Gunn The Weapon Shops Of Isher by A.E. Van Vogt Nerves by Lester del Rey Necromancer by Gordon R. Dickson The Triumph of Time by James Blish Swords Against Death by Fritz Leiber Neuromancer by William Gibson Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinelin Dune by Frank Herbert Doc Savage: The Thousand Headed Man by Kenneth Robeson Stands Of Zanzibar by John Brunner
It should be noted before someone suggests it, I have already read the entirety of Asimov’s Foundation. I realize Van Vogt has more noted books but so far I have not found them so I will read one of the ones I have. The Silverberg and del Rey are personal choices. I have never read del Rey and feel I should since he is an icon. Silverberg is my favorite of all SFF authors and I have not read his early work and want to do that. A friend recommended To Open The Sky as one with faith (not just religious) themes, and since I have done panels on this to great reception I feel it’s time to start reading source material for those so I can only increase their value.
I am also not committing to read these books in any particular order. Honestly, I likely will attempt the shorter ones first, because of my reading time and just to get in a flow. I plan to do reviews/commentary on these as I finish for my own value more than anyone else’s, although I will share that here. These will not be full on reviews but really more my own ponderings and interactions with the texts. They’re classics. What do I have to add that hasn’t been said before by many people? Not much as a reviewer, but as a fan and writer interacting with them, I hope there will be some nuggets of learning and discovery worth sharing.
I certainly reserve the right to update my list at my own discretion. In other words, I will allow you to suggest books but I feel no pressure about which I choose to read and when. I have left A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams off the list because I read half and didn’t care for it. I do need to read it again but I’ll have to get in the right mood. And before the smart alecs show up, I do have a sense of humor. I love comedic books. I just found this one odd, not all the funny. But I do respect its place and regard amongst fandom and I do feel I should give it another chance at some point so I’d expect it to come on the list at some point during this Journey which may last several years because it takes as long as it takes.
For a good list of some of the books I’ve read in the past, including many considered classics, I posted my 70 Most Memorable SFF Books I’ve Readhere.
I hope some of you will engage with me on this journey and perhaps even join me. Who we are today is very much informed by the past. And often whom we become and the strength, value and character of it is determined by our knowledge of the past. After all, we not only learn from our mistakes but those of our forefathers.
I very much look forward to the education of this journey and to your thoughts and my own along the way. For what it’s worth…
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, the children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing and editor of the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction. An affiliate SFWA member, he also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter and is a frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and Hugo nominee SFSignal. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via www.bryanthomasschmidt.net.
Well, we survived it: A Science Fiction Con with no WiFi. Most of us were less than happy about that, and the hotel had a plethora of problems, including a badly leaking roof which forced staff to evacuate the art show to a new location due to the heavy rains and tornado weather. However, the Con was so well run, we all had a great time in spite of this. Even the hotel staff urging us downstairs at one point couldn’t dampen spirits for long.
The dealer’s room was a happy place with a generous group of people supporting each other and steady visits from always helpful staff even as attendees made their way through. I sold 13 books at the Con and had 3 more online sales during the convention, which makes it my most successful Con for book sales so far. Attendance reached 250 this year, a new height for the Con, and I’d say that definitely helped. I also gave out a lot of cards with my website info on it as well. Despite my new ebook cards drawing interest, I didn’t get the first sale on them but that was due in part, I believe, to Sams Dot not having ebooks and thus not wanting to push them, and I didn’t go out of my way either. They were readily in sight for anyone who looked at the table. At ConQuest, when it’s just me at my table, I’ll try a different approach. I must admit, I do prefer selling paper copies, however.
Two of my three panels were well attended. 10 people showed up first thing Saturday morning at 11 for CHARACTER BUILDING. They were attentive, but, perhaps, tired. It took me a bit to work them up to interaction, however, they were all eager to learn. My reading that afternoon had no one present, but I waited there for 15 minutes and then got an influx of people and wound up reading to 6, which was almost double my reading at Conclave last October. And they really seemed to enjoy that as well as the Q&A time following, so I felt good about it. I also know at least two of those people bought books, so I’d call that a success as well.
On Sunday, I did two panels back to back. The first, FAITH IN SFF, drew a dozen very engaged people. I didn’t go to all of the other panels, but I’d say I had as many as the Conan panel before had drawn and these people engaged very much with the material and me, leading to a great discussion. They even applauded at the end. I had approached this as a discussion of faith in all of its forms: not just faith in Higher Powers, but faith in magic or science or even wealth. I asked everyone to be respectful and stated that our purpose was not to argue validity of beliefs but discuss how they motivate us and how their presence is handled in world building. I read my list of SF classics with religious themes from SF Signal and then added those mentioned in the comments on that post as well as a few others I’d discovered. Attendees added even more. I’ll have an even longer list when I do this panel again at OsFest. In fact, the OsFest chair was present and complimented the panel, encouraging me to repeat it at their Con. I honestly wasn’t sure we’d get much interest in the topic and that, if we did, it might devolve into incivility. I was so pleasantly surprised. Very enlightening for all of us, I felt. I learned as much as anyone.
My second Sunday panel, GREAT READS, drew only 3 people but they were lively and we had a great discussion on books we’ve loved. I read books from my 2011 Year’s Best Reads List and didn’t even get to my 70 Most Memorable SFF Reads which I also had brought with me. My list of books people suggested, which I want to read includes: Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer, Persistence Of Vision by John Varley, Flight of The Dragonfly by Robert Foster, Chung Kuo by David Wingrove, The Leandros series by Rob Thurman and Integral Trees by David Niven.
My own schedule was so busy that I didn’t get to hear Elizabeth Bear’s panels, unfortunately. Between my own panels and reading and then dealer room duties, I missed her activities. I did, however, introduce myself and I’ll see her again soon at Convergence in Bloomington, MN. She also agreed to do an interview by email for SFFWRTCHT soon, so that will be two great chances to learn about her more.
I also sold a series of interviews with short story writers to Sams Dot Publishing for their Aoife’s Kiss zine and booked Jack McDevitt, who turned around my questions so fast, I’d already turned the thing in Monday, well ahead of the May 1 deadline for the June issue. I’ll be looking into Tanith Lee and others for upcoming issues, 1 per month. This is my first paid interview series. The small press pays a token amount, but it’s regular income of a sort and, added to other sources, is a step in the right direction.
One of the more humorous events of the Con also involves McDevitt, whom I told in my emails I would look forward to meeting at OsFest in Omaha this July. He’s list as Guest Of Honor, only, he said he wouldn’t be there. Too busy. I ran into the Con chairs of that Con at my panels and mentioned that to them, suggesting perhaps emailing Jack soon might be a good idea. To say they were a bit worried would be an understatement, but on Monday, Jack informed me he would indeed be at the Con. He said he’d forgotten to write it down and commented: “I’m beginning to understand why my wife won’t let me out alone at night.”
Altogether, a success and enjoyment. I’d certainly do it again, if asked. I certainly recommend it to other dealers and creatives as well. For what it’s worth…
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, andThe Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories featured in anthologies and magazines. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing along with the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
Well, the Con Programming Chair from Constellation in Lincoln, NE, April 13-15 sent me my panel schedule. I’ll be launching Space Battles there as well as promoting my other stuff. More details to follow when I have them. Elizabeth Bear is the GOH. Hope to see some of you there.
Character Building – Saturday, 11 a.m.
What makes a good character? How do you name characters? What are the aspects of character one must consider when creating characters for a story? How deep do you go? An examination of character creation and more.
Author Reading- Saturday, 2 p.m.
I’ll be reading from Space Battles and The Worker Prince and perhaps even a passage from The Returning which comes out in June.
Faith in Science Fiction and Fantasy-Sunday at 1 p.m.
A discussion of the importance of faith as a motivator for humankind. Not a debate about the validity or value or religions, but rather a discussion of how faith drives all of us in some way. What do you put your faith in? What drives you toward your elusive life long goals? Why is faith an indelible, essential element for world building in speculative fiction? We’ll discuss these questions and much more.
Great Reads – Sunday at 2 p.m.
What are the best books you’ve read in the past year? How do they compare to ones you’ve read in years past? Which forthcoming books are you most excited about and why? A discussion of books we love and why we love them and our quest for more.
Excited to attend this Con for the first time.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, The Returning (forthcoming), the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and the kids book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. he edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick and has stories in several anthologies and magazines (some forthcoming). As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novel for author Ellen C. Maze (Rabbit: Legacy), a historical book for Leon C. Metz (The Shooters, John Wesley Hardin, The Border), and is now editing Decipher Inc’s WARS tie-in books for Grail Quest Books. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
KC. area people, I’m doing a book signing at Prospero’s Blue Springs Saturday Dec. 17 12-3 (week from tomorrow) if anyone’s interested. I’ll also be doing a reading or two if enough show up who are interested in hearing it. This is the store on MO-7 Highway off 70 about 2 miles south on the East side. (see maps)
I will happily sign any of the books I’ve been involved in or other items related to me, including my CDs. I don’t sign other people’s books. It’s not appropriate to my way of thinking. Books will be on sale on site and I’ll be there ready to chat and even help you find books if I’m free. Hope to meet many of you!
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novelThe Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.
Aspiring Writer and Book Blogger Kris Keegan did it, so I thought a list of my own top genre books would be fun. I am not listing these in any particular order. And where series are involved, I just list the series rather than individual books. But this is a list of books with great meaning to me. Unlike the NPR list which was definitely flawed, this one reflects the books which changed my life in many ways. Some because they opened my mind to new possibilities. Some because they were such a ball. Others for philosophical or craft reasons. In any case, it’s a personal list. I’m sure many of your favorites might be missing and some listed you might question. Feel free to recommend books for future reading in comments.
1) The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
2) The Chronicles Of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
3) The Majipoor series by Robert Silverberg
4) The First Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
5) A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin
6) The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov
7) Animal Farm by George Orwell
8 ) Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
9) The Psalms of Isaak by Ken Scholes
10) The Greywalker books by Kat Richardson
11) The Thrawn Books by Timothy Zahn
12) Splinter Of A Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster
13) Death Of A Starship by Jay Lake
14) The Quadrail Series by Timothy Zahn
15) Deadman Switch by Timothy Zahn
16) The Retrieval Artist series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
17) The War of The Worlds by HG Wells
18 ) 20000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne
19) The Chronicle Of A Distant World series by Mike Resnick
20) The Falling Machine by Andrew Mayer
21) The Unremembered by Peter Orullian
22) Black Blade Blues by John A. Pitts
23) V: East Coast Crisis by A.C. Crispin & Howard Weinstein
24) Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
25) The Ender books by Orson Scott Card
26) The Eye Of The World by Robert Jordan
27) Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell
28 ) Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
29) The Time Machine by HG Wells
30) Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne
31) The Elenium by David Eddings
32) The Tamuli by David Eddings
33) Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick
34) A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo
35) The Sherlock Holmes books by Arthur Conan Doyle
36) Tarzan Of The Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
37) Nightfall by Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg
38 ) Ivory by Mike Resnick
39) The Outpost by Mike Resnick
40) Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
41) Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
42) Diving Into The Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
43) Mainspring by Jay Lake
44) The Secret Of Sinharat by Leigh Brackett
45) Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson
46) Deceived by Paul S. Kemp
47) The Skylark of Space by Edward E. Smith
48 ) Thinner by Richard Bachman
49) The Stand by Stephen King
50) Starship Troopers by Robert Heilein
51) Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice
52) Brasyl by Ian McDonald
53) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
54) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
55) Misery by Stephen King
56) Watership Down by Richard Adams
57) Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
58 ) The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
59) Firestarter by Stephen King
60) This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti
61) Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado
62) Jaws by Peter Benchley
63) The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
64) The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
65) A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
66) The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
67) Steampunk Prime edited by Mike Ashley
68 ) The Tales of Uncle Remus
69) Spellwright by Blake Charlton
70) Black Halo by Sam Sykes
I am stopping at 70 for various reasons. For one, I really have fallen behind in reading classics and keeping up with a lot of other genre fiction. For years I focused on nonfiction research during my masters and other genres as well. So, while I read a lot in my youth and in the past three years, my reading pile occupies most of my bookshelves and I am way behind. But these are the books I remember most fondly of those I’ve read. They are certainly not all. And I will revise and add to this as time goes on. Which are your favorites? What would your list include? Feel free to post in comments. I’d love to hear them.