A Passion for Reading

reading with momAs I struggled with completing my latest manuscript — Book #9 — I wondered what happened? Was I getting tangled in the technical details? (The heroine is blind and writing from her point of view can’t include visual descriptions.) Why wasn’t the story taking off? Why wasn’t it as fun as writing usually is for me?

The answer hit me when I read fellow author J. Morgan’s blog today. Check it out: http://jennmorgan69.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/passion-in-reading/

Maintaining a love — a passion for reading is a life-long pursuit. I am going to pull out a favorite right now and rediscover the wonder of reading. Then I will go back to my manuscript.

How a book feels

Paper or ebooks? The Star Trek dilemma.

Captain James T. Kirk loved paper books. Even though by his time they were outdated, he collected them. They were a most treasured gift on his birthday. He didn’t think electronic books were the same. They didn’t feel like real books feel. Captain Jean Luc Piccard felt much the same way. And in their day there were still paper books to be had — in the antique stores.eread

In 2011, about the time I sold my first book, I learned that Amazon sales of electronic books surpassed paper books for the first time. In some ways we have already surpassed the science that the first Star Trek series imagined in the 1960s. Our communication devices are smaller. But our medical diagnostics are bigger so the technology vision is inconsistent with the actual. The Transporter remains elusive — too bad, since it is one of the two science fiction time management tools that I wish I could use. (The other is the Tesseract envisioned by Madeline L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time.)

Today we often see people with their E-readers. But we still see paper books as well. Here are some of the reasons I prefer electronic books:

  • When I travel I can take dozens of books with me and not add to the weight of what I am carrying. If I read everything I have with me, I can read more with a one-click download.
  • Some of the reading devices feel a lot like a book.
  • I have both a Kindle and an iPad. The Kindle is lighter in weight and easier to hold.  As arthritis has set into my hands, especially my thumbs, I find it is much easier to hold a Kindle than a book of any size. No matter how many words the book has, it will fit in your E-reader.
  • E-readers make large print as easy as a setting. If you don’t want to wear reading glasses, don’t! You can just enlarge the type.
  • EBooks are very accessible to people who are blind. One friend tells me that the Nook ap with downloaded books is a “game changer” because it is so easy to access the audio book from the downloaded book. This gives a much wider selection to people with disabilities.

How about you? What kind of books do you prefer?

All my books are available on Kindle, Nook or from my publisher in eBook formats.  Stop by my author pages at Desert Breeze and Amazon and download your next good read.

Why do I read?

Encouraging reading in youthPaula reading to Mike c

I don’t remember a time without books. They were a part of my day, every day, stretching back into memory. In this photo I am reading to my brother, two years younger than me. Since he looks about two in this photo, I was reading this to him before I started school — probably as a four-year old. I don’t know if I was telling the actual story from words, or had memorized it, or was guessing from the photos, but the important thing is that at a very young age I understood that there were exciting stories in books, and that reading unlocked those stories for us.

Once school started we had assignments – to read a new book every day. I continually worked my way through the libraries at home and at school, and of course at our public library where we proudly held our own library cards as soon as we were old enough to write our names. I remember many times when I was engrossed in a book and my parents had to get my attention to come eat supper, because I didn’t hear anything while I was reading a story.

I could only do that because my parents read to me. Reading before bed was a frequent ritual even after we were readers. Mom would choose somethingreading with mom above our reading level and continually challenge us with that content. Some of these were Bible stories, some were Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, which were a great way for kids to hear classics before we were ready for the full dose.

When we were ready for the full dose, the classic books were already old friends.

My family treasured books. I remember my first hardback books — Yertle the Turtle and Little Women.  We didn’t have a lot of money, but we always found ways to have lots of books, of all different genres, on our shelves in the living room, the bedrooms, the family rooms.

We did  have television, even though these vintage photos don’t make that obvious. We enjoyed a few shows. But mostly our imagination was stoked by what we read. And we never stopped reading. My brother has a memory that lets him remember everything he has ever read. I don’t have that same memory, so I even re-read my favorites from time to time.

I copied this same technique with my own daughter, who is also an avid reader in adulthood.

 

Curl up with a Christmas Love Story – Free!

My publisher is famous for the free Christmas stories from its authors for a holiday gift to YOU. Be sure to go to http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/StoreFront.bok and download yours today. Here are the titles and a little about each book:

Keril, the high lord’s first-in-command, has been waiting months for the perfect time to tell Electra, the princess of Celosia’s personal bodyguard, how much he loves her. But when the castle is attacked with fire weapons, his time runs out. Duty demands he protect the princess, but his heart tugs him in another direction. 

Burned is a short companion piece to the novel, The Fire Starter. Discover what happens to Keril and Electra while Celosia blazes with fire weapons and new passions.


EXCERPT

Fire exploded in the rock wall to his left. Keril leaned off the turret to gain a better view of the courtyard below. “Pirro, I’ll have your idiotic head for this atrocity.”

Screams carried upward on the stale wind. He needed to act, and fast. The castle of Filippopoulos was crumbling around him. Its people counted on his level-thinking and quick actions. His boss — the High Lord of Celosia Island — depended on Keril to keep the peace and to protect the royal family. Even against these unexpected attacks and illegal fire weapons that never should have found their way onto remote Celosia.

What he wouldn’t give for an old-fashioned bow and a quiver of arrows. Or even a sling. Pirro had loosened enough rock around Keril that he had plenty of ammunition to fire down on the traitor’s head. Yet Keril needed a bit more help than gravity could offer.

In fact, if he used his cloak, he might be able to sling a rock far enough to–

A woman darted from the stable door into the shadows of a nearby shed. No. No. No! The princess was on the loose, and who knew what kind of damage she would cause before this attack was contained. Hadn’t she heard that Pirro was after her? That he didn’t believe she was at Aphrodite Temple getting married to an off-island prince?

For the first time, Keril wished that the princess was getting married, even though she’d made it clear she had no desire to do so. He wished she were with her father, or with the man who would be her husband. Then Keril wouldn’t be responsible for her any longer.

“The princess is trying to escape. She’s headed toward the water tower.”

The call reached his ears, and men materialized from the shadows.

Could this situation get any worse? Keril scrambled for the stairs. As much as he would be expected to protect Filippopoulos, the estate serfs, his lord’s assets, and capture the intruder, foremost he would be expected to protect the princess, with his very life if necessary.

Why hadn’t she stayed hidden in the stables? He flung himself down the stairs and into the night air. Of course she wouldn’t stay hidden. Not Amaryllis. Not when she thought she could have purpose and do something useful. Never mind that she would have been more useful hidden, leaving him free to save the day.

Another shower of rocks rained down on his head, and he dodged back against the turret wall, making his way east toward the water tower. Perhaps Rasmus, his second-in-command, would have the chance to take down Pirro. Keril needed to get to the princess, and now.

He rounded the turret. There, in a shaft of moonlight, stood the princess, for all intents and purposes, posing before she dropped back into the shadows. Burn the night black, had she lost every ounce of sense she possessed? Three men flanked her left. His gaze darted right. Four more. They wore black, fading into the night better than Amaryllis in her green cloak. They were closing in.

New Orleans, Christmas Eve, 1947: Brothers, Dirk and Beaumont McSwain are both about to become fathers. Dirk’s wife has had a number of miscarriages and at thirty-six years old, is afraid this is her last chance for a healthy baby. Bo’s wife is pregnant for the first time. Both are due to give birth soon. The brothers arrange a surprise ride for their women in Papa Noel’s sleigh which is actually a horse drawn carriage with fake reindeer. The evening starts out merry and bright but before the night is over, they will need a Christmas miracle.


EXCERPT

She stopped mid-sentence as a pair of horses sporting reindeer antlers pulling a sleigh on wheels with Papa Noel at the reins came into view.

The conveyance turned up the drive and came across the lawn. The horses stopped right in front of the porch. Papa Noel sketched a salute. “I heard there were some very good girls who live here who wanted a ride with old Papa.” Eden clapped her hands and smiled at the old man. “Yes. I think that would be delightful.”

Dirk put his arm around her and led her to the sleigh. He assisted her aboard and pulled a couple of the fur throws over her. He turned to Zoe. “Come on and I’ll help you up.”

Bo followed behind his wife and when both ladies were settled in, the men sat beside them, each couple facing the other.

Papa Noel turned around from his seat. “You all ready to go?”

“Where are we going?” Zoe said.

“Around.” Papa Noel responded and clicked his tongue at the horses. “Let’s go, Blitzen and Comet.”

“How did you decide which reindeer to bring this evening?” Dirk asked over his shoulder.

“The others are over at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop drinking absinthe. Bunch of sots.”

They all laughed at the thought of the reindeer hanging out in the oldest bar in America.

Adri’s frustration with the static town life of Boon is shared by his closest friends. His stepmother aggravates the situation with her unfair demands on his time, and Adri plans to leave as soon as he comes of age. The arrival of the survivors from dragon attacks interfere with his departure. The outsiders are closely followed by the fire breathing dragons who are intent of burning Boon. All looks grim, but the departure of the dragons opens a new exciting opportunity for Adri and his friends.


EXCERPT

Adri hurried toward one of the two junior schools in the town. His stepmother had nightmares about her young son being attacked or kidnapped as he walked to and from school.

An attack is a distinct possibility the way he treats the other pupils.

He turned into the school compound in time to see the pupils erupting from the door. Vala’s son approached, and threw his bag on the ground.

“You carry it.” The child turned and walked out of the compound.

Only a few more days, Adri reminded himself as he picked up the bag and followed the boy. Once the celebrations for Landing Day are here I’m gone.

Thoughts of his father came to mind and once again he wondered why his father had married Vala.

It’s bad enough my mother died, but did he have to marry within months, then die himself.

His father’s actions had left him under the guardianship of Vala, but not for much longer. A few more days and Adri would be considered an adult and able to live on his own. He and his friends would leave Boon to have some excitement in their lives, not the dreary day to day life they had grown up with.

Vala called them brothers, but they were not blood relations. Raf was the son of his stepmother’s first husband, and the boy’s mother spoiled him to the point of ruining him.

He entered the house in time to see Vala fling her arms round Raf.

“How’s my little man? Did you have a good day?”

“Oh Mum, stop it. I’m too old to be smothered.”

“I’ll get you something to eat.”

Vala hurried into the kitchen while Raf flung himself into a chair. Adri dropped the boy’s bag next to him. Before his stepmother could return he left the house, but heard his stepbrother call out.

“Mum, Adri’s leaving again.”

With a burst of speed Adri turned into the next street before Vala could make it to the door and scream at him to return. He shrugged his shoulders to release the tension and hurried to the town square.

On the outskirts of the ever present Alliance’s watchful eye, William Reynolds has served as mayor and preacher for the better part of a decade. Life is good, and he sees no reason to change anything. When a family fleeing the Alliance’s oppression comes his way he doesn’t hesitate to hide them. Reaching out to the people in need proves to be more dangerous than he could ever have anticipated, and once events are set in motion, there is no going back.


EXCERPT

William lived in a world of uneasy dreams. His people were screaming, dying, being burned alive, and he needed to pull free from whatever held him so he could rescue them, but invisible forces kept him back. The dreams faded into merciful darkness.

When he finally returned to reality, he had problems focusing his eyes. The ceiling looked a lot like a beautiful woman, and she rotated above him. He squeezed his eyes shut again, but had time to see a mass of blonde hair and a cute nose.

The fragments of memories and dreams came together. He was a prisoner of the Alliance, and his people, everyone he knew were dead. It was his fault. He didn’t understand how, he had been so careful, but he still led the enemy right home. He wanted to return to the darkness, hopefully forever, but the woman wouldn’t let him. She held a cool hand against his forehead.

“I think he has a concussion.”

A cynical male voice answered, “It happens.”

William opened his eyes again and struggled to sit up, even though the room revolved around him. Everything bathed in a light so bright it shot bolts of pain through his skull, but when he squinted and shaded his eyes with his hand, he could make out four bare metal walls and a metal ceiling. The cell didn’t even have a visible door. “Where am I? Who are you?”

The man stepped closer and crouched next to him. “You’re a guest here at Casa del Travis. If we’re lucky, he’ll forget about us, or kill us before we reach Central.”

The woman said, “You should probably lie down. You’re still bleeding. I’m Isabela, and he’s Aaren. I think there are more people in other cells. I can hear them through the walls.”

Aaren chuckled. “Of course there’re more prisoners here. This is a prisoner ship, and it’s what they do. So, what’d you do that’s so bad they let you live?”

Eunice is considered an old maid at the age of 26, but more than fate has kept her single. She’s in love with one of her father’s employees, a common laborer. Not only is Freddy beneath her socially, but he’s half-black, something unforgiveable in her father’s eyes. As WWII echoes like thunder in the distance, the pressures pushing them apart seem overwhelming. Is love enough to conquer society and family prejudice?


EXCERPT

Outside, Freddy saw the sweep of headlights turning into the drive and he let out a soft moan. “That’ll be your father, dearest,” he said softly. “Go home.”

“Why?” Her voice trembled.

“Because I’m one man, and he’ll have brought twenty.” He heard the steel enter his tone, and she stiffened, her eyes widening. “If you want me beaten to death tonight, you just stay defiant, woman.”

For a moment, she sat motionless, then Eunice pushed herself to her feet, her sodden pink dress hanging heavily off her slender curves. “I’ll go home, Freddy, but you remember this. You think I’m some wilting flower to be coddled and cared for, but I’m not. I’m more than you think, Louis Fredrick Clarke.”

With that, she turned and walked steadily towards the door. When there was a hammering knock, Freddy jumped forward to stop her, but she pulled open the door and stared into the face of one of the town’s young men.

“Arthur, put down that stick, you fool. I came here on my own, and Freddy just threw me out. You have nothing to defend. Now take me home.”

Heather Fisher Black’s third man of the year has just exited right when she needs a date for Christmas dinner. The whole gang from Win’s War will be there and everyone will have a partner, even Win’s grandfather. Maybe the man who’s been underfoot could go by her side.

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All my life…the joy of reading

I believe that we are prepared to do whatever it is we decide to do in life, by the many events and circumstances of our lives.

I am one of the lucky people with a decent childhood memory, aided by the many photos my dad took as we were growing up. See if these are telling…

That is Mom reading to my sister Karen on the right. She directs a literacy center in Central California.

The two on the left, my brother Michael and I, are both authors.

Books were always a part of my life. I read voraciously — literally worked my way through series after series and read everything that I could lay my hands on. When my fifth grade teacher had us keep track she was amazed to learn that I read a couple of books a day most days. My parents encouraged this, allowing us to read as soon as our homework was done. We didn’t read at the table, but they were patient with us when we were slow to finish a chapter…

And we have passed that love of reading on. My dog Ollie goes to the library almost every week, where children read out loud to him.

Here is an excerpt from The Return Of Joy about reading dogs:

When Charity dropped to the floor next to Atlas and showed him one of the books, Mark laughed out loud.

“What’s so funny?”

“She’s reading to the dog,” he pointed out.

“She’s been doing that for a couple of weeks, Mark.” So proud of both the girl and the dog she could hardly stand it, Joy grinned. “Josie has a therapy dog who listens to kids read at a local library. She helped us make sure Atlas could do the same.” Joy pulled a paper out of the pile of presents on the table. “Atlas passed his test. All we need is your permission to send everything in, and he can be an official therapy dog, too.”

Looking confused, Mark scratched his head. “A therapy dog? He’s just… you know, a family dog.”

Joy smiled and stepped closer to Mark. She patted his chest.

“I know he is your dog. That’s why we won’t pursue this if you don’t want to.” She turned and slid an arm around his waist. “But look at them. They’re so happy reading together.”

Mark looked, shaking his head. “He’s just lying there. He isn’t even looking at the pictures.”

“That’s what Charity said the first time. Then Josie explained he likes to listen to her tell the story. Charity can’t actually read yet, of course, but she’s learning to share, to decipher from the pictures, and turn the pages. You should see Josie’s dog, Zoey, at the library, surrounded by children from toddlers through about second grade. They all crowd around and pet her, and take turns reading to her.”

“So if you send in Atlas’ paperwork and he becomes a therapy dog, what does that mean, exactly?”

“It means I can volunteer with him at a local school or library, where kids will do just what Charity’s doing now. Read out loud to the dog.”

“And they don’t realize he doesn’t understand?”

“Nope.” Joy chuckled. “You should have seen Atlas at his reading test. One little boy read a book about Little Pig Piglet, who couldn’t sleep. At the end of the story when he read that Little Pig Piglet finally fell asleep, Atlas flopped over on his side on top of the book as if he was falling asleep, too. So of course he must understand. He doesn’t really, of course, but the children are so excited about being the ones to read out loud, and the dogs are so non-judgmental, that they get better and better at reading when they read to a dog. And the dogs never correct them, I might add.”

Mark seemed skeptical.

“I guess you have to see it to understand.” She looked up into his eyes. “Josie had one boy who came in with his grandpa and told us he couldn’t read but would it be okay if he petted the dog? Josie said sure, of course, and he knelt down beside Zoey and began to talk to her, saying ‘Good dog. You’re a good dog.’ When we looked up at Grandpa he had tears in his eyes. I asked him if he was okay and he nodded and told us it was the first time his grandson had spoken in months – that he has autism and has difficulty talking to people. But not to the dog!”

Scroll down to the next post for a picture of Atlas.

Buy The Return of Joy at: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-357/Starting-Over-Book-Two-cln-/Detail.bok