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Archive for October, 2009

Interview with author Bruce Boston

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

A special thanks to author Bruce Boston for taking the time to let us interview him and get to know him a little better.  Bruce was nice enough to send us signed copies of the following books: covers in post below

  1. Pitchblende (dark poetry, Bram Stoker Award winner, Dark Regions, 2003)
  2. The Nightmare Collection (dark poetry, Bram Stoker Award Winner, Dark Regions, 2008)
  3. Flashing the Dark (speculative flash fictions, Sam’s Dot, 2006)
  4. The Guardener’s Tale (sf novel, advance reading copy, Stoker Award finalist and Prometheus Award Nominee, Sam’s Dot, 2007)

And the 4 Random Winners from the comments are!  Janet M. (BookwormMoucha), Jennifer C. (mrscasler), Carla G. (readragon), Shondra W. (shoni).  Thanks again everyone!

Bruce Boston

Author Bruce Boston

Bruce Boston was born in 1943 and attended U.C. Berkeley, in the sixties, where he was active in political protest and psychedelic exploration.  Bruce Boston has written over 40 books, more than 100 short stories and hundreds of poems on speculative fiction.   He describes his work best saying it “stretches from broad humor to literary surrealism, with many stops along the way for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and noir.” Boston has received many awards including the Rhysling Award for speculative poetry a record seven times and the Asimov’s Readers’ Award for poetry a record six times. He has also received a Pushcart Prize for fiction, the Bram Stoker Award for his poetry collections Pitchblende, Shades Fantastic, and The Nightmare Collection, and the first  ever Grandmaster Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. His collaborative poem with Robert Frazier, “Return to the Mutant Rain Forest,” received first place in the 2006 Locus Online Poetry Poll for Best All-Time Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror Poem.  For more information please visit his website, BruceBoston.com

Your work has been classified as “Speculative Fiction & Poetry”.  What does “Speculative” mean in this context?
Mainstream fiction and poetry deal with the rendering and exploration of the here and now, reality as we know it, internal and external. Speculative writing has more to do with imagination, the world of dreams and the world as it could be. The genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, all of which I’ve written, fall under the speculative umbrella. However, the best speculative writing resembles mainstream in that it not only explores imaginary worlds, but in so doing, reflects and comments upon the real world.

You’ve held a lot of different jobs in the past, including computer programmer, gardener and movie projectionist!  Did any of those inform your writing?
All life experience inform one’s writing: love affairs, friendships, failures and successes, books read, movies seen, lands visited, and of course, the jobs one holds.  Though the influence isn’t always a clear and direct one, and often becomes transformed in the process of writing.  For example, I’ve never written about a character who is a gardener, but my science fiction novel The Guardener’s Tale takes place in a future dystopian society that views its citizens as if they were plants in a garden and attempts to nurture and control them to create the perfect garden, the ideal society.  Images of flowers, plants, and weeds occur throughout the book, embodying the themes of the novel.  If I hadn’t worked as a gardener, the book might never have been written, and if it had, would have probably taken a very different direction.

You’ve been writing and publishing for over 45 years.  Do you see any major changes in your work over time?
I think my writing has become more accomplished over the years in terms of mastery of language.  It has also changed stylistically and to some extent in content as my interests as a reader have changed.  When I was younger, I read mostly what is considered literary fiction and poetry, and my writing reflected that.  In the early 1990s I began exploring mysteries and noir, and as a result, I think my writing voice, at least in fiction, has become more populist and less literary, available to more potential readers.

Do you have a favorite work (book, short story, poem), one of which you are particularly proud?

The Guarderner's Tale

I have several.  My poetry collection Pitchblende, assembled by fellow poet and writer Michael Arnzen, is probably my best poetry collection.  It garnered me my first Bram Stoker Award and contains what I consider two of my three best long poems: “Pavane for a Cyber-Princess” and “She Was There for Him the Last Time.”

With regard to fiction, I would single out three books.  My first novel, Stained Glass Rain, a coming-of-age novel set in the drug culture of the 1960s, is an attempted literary tour de force, combining narrative, diary entries, along with poems and stories written by the characters.  Its language is the most dense and poetic of any of my fiction.  The aforementioned sf novel, The Guardener’s Tale is probably my most entertaining and compelling work, rich in adventures and surprising plot twists. And finally, my story collection Masque of Dreams brings together the best of my shorter fiction, including six novelettes and seventeen short stories.

You are married to Marge Simon, also a writer and artist.   How is it living with a fellow writer?
It’s worked out pretty well for us because we have similar aesthetics and tastes.  It has also led to collaborations on poems and short stories that we’ve subsequently sold, but would have never been written if we weren’t living together.  Another advantage of living with a fellow writing whose opinion you respect is that when you are working on a story or poem or have just finished one, there is always someone there to give you feedback and respond to questions about it, all the way from the construction of individual lines and sentences to how well it works as a whole.

You’ve been an active member of PBS for a while.   How did you hear about us?  If you could change one thing about our site what would it be?
Periodically I do an online search on my name to see if anything of interest pops up: raves or pans of my work, websites or foreign publications that have posted or translated and published something of mine without permission, etc.  During one of these searches I came upon comments and a rating on some book of mine, don’t remember which, that had been made on PBS.  I began exploring the site, and soon joined.

I wouldn’t change anything about PBS.  In fact, I’d like to offer my compliments and thanks to your designer.  From the very beginning, I’ve found the site, as opposed to many others, very easy to understand and to navigate.  However, I might add something to PBS — a page listing authors, who are also PBS Members, who would be willing to field questions from other members about their writing.

What’s on your nightstand?
A lamp, a clock, a white noise machine…sometimes a glass of wine or a cup of coffee…but you no doubt mean what books am I currently reading.  I’m usually into several books at once.  Right now I’m reading two unpublished novels by writer friends.  One is a love story about a jazz musician and a Japanese artist set in the forties and fifties.  The other is a contemporary psychological mystery loosely based on Shakespeare’s Othello.  I’m also rereading Pascali’s Island by Barry Unsworth, a tale set in 1908 on a small Greek island that is part of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

Meet author Claudine Wolk of “It Gets Easier! And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers”

Monday, October 26th, 2009

We’ll have a random drawing including all of those who comment on the post.  Winner will receive a signed copy of “It Gets Easier! And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers“. Can’t think of something to comment on? How about letting us know something you wish someone would have told you before motherhood!  …. Dads you know you have things you wish people had told you as well!   And the winner of the signed copy goes to Antonia S. (werefrog).  Congratulations Antonia & thanks to everyone for participating!

Claudine Wolk

Claudine’s Bio:  Claudine Wolk spent her pre-baby days managing an accounting office.  In accounting there is always an answer.  Numbers don’t avoid the question, tell you to do “what feels right”, or just lie.  When she had her son, Claudine discovered that parenting experts sometimes do! So she set out to uncover the truth about parenting and the secrets that could make life a little easier.

After having three children and learning countless parenting secrets, this Pennsylvania mom decided it was just selfish to keep all these tidbits to herself. So she wrote It Gets Easier! And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers.

What all mothers should know: “In the first two years of life a baby will go through around 4,700 diapers!”

Claudine, can you let us in on the 8 Lies we tell new Mothers?

It gets easier!

1.  Obviously, the first Lie is in the title of my book or It Gets Easier!  Motherhood certainly doesn’t get easier on its own.  New challenges replace old challenges, but there are some things you can do, now, to make motherhood a bit easier.

2. All moms love new motherhood. You’ve finally been introduced to the baby you’ve carried for nine months, all should be bliss, right?  Wrong.  Truth is, many new moms are shocked at the physical and emotional demands of new motherhood. They love their baby, of course, but new motherhood is anything but a pleasurable experience. Finding out that moms are not alone in feeling a bit shell-shocked can go a long way toward enjoying motherhood.

3. Some babies sleep through the night the moment they get home from the hospital.  This is a legend created to insure procreation.  Just the chance that your baby may be the “Wonka Golden Ticket” and sleep through the night on his first day of life and doesn’t, can be disappointing.

4.  Holding a baby can spoil a baby.  Not so. Hold as much as you like.  The trick is to put the baby down drowsy, not completely asleep to help teach him how to get himself to sleep.

5. Mom needs to be with her baby at all times.  Finding a suitable replacement can be the first step toward being the best mom you can be.  Every new mom needs a break from baby or she will overload and burn-out.

6. Only a relative is a suitable caregiver.  No way.  The best babysitters are the one you are not related to.  Sometimes a mom needs to escape without having to explain that she is checking out the latest Eric Bana movie.

7. Breastfeeding is easy.  Breast feeding may be natural but it is not easy for many new moms.  It is, as they say, a learned skill that requires practice and instruction.  Watching another nursing mom can be a great way to learn this skill.  (Just make sure you know her, gawking after a breastfeeding stranger could be a bit creepy.)

8.  Husbands don’t mind if your sex life takes months and months to resume.  Although spouses are certainly understanding in this department, make no mistake, they are anxious to get back in the saddle (don’t be surprised if you want to get back in the saddle, too).  Make sure you talk about it and make a plan to “do it” when your doctor says it’s ok.

Find out more about Claudine by visiting her website: www.Help4NewMoms.com

Author Interview with Dr. Bruce Conn

Monday, October 19th, 2009
Dr. Bruce Conn

Dr. Bruce Conn

Dr. Bruce Conn, a research biologist, professor, and writer, has written more than 150 publications, including a textbook that was awarded national honors by the Association of American Publishers. He has lectured and conducted research around the world, served on scientific editorial boards, and taught at several universities and colleges. Dr. Conn is currently the dean of the school of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at Berry College in Rome, GA.

Dr. Conn was nice enough to give us two signed copies of his novel, the Curse of Durgan’s Reef, to give away to two lucky participants. We will announce the winners this friday, Oct. 23rd around Noon (EST). Not sure what to comment about? …Do you know of any other cursed places? …Have you ever had a time in your life when you were forced to focus on simply surviving? (an accident, natural disaster, being lost, etc.)

-And the winners are! Krista & JOANNE (joann).  Thanks everyone!

The Curse of Durgans Reef

The Curse of Durgan's Reef

Here’s what we asked:
You’re a successful professor, having written many publications and an award winning textbook…  What inspired you to break away from research & write a novel?

While technical and scientific writing are important to accurately convey detailed knowledge, I have always believed that fiction is the best way to inspire people or to influence the way they think about issues.  I write about marine biology and caring for nature in scientific journals, but in The Curse of Durgan’s Reef I feel I have done more to paint a picture of the beauty of coral reefs and the excitement that young people can have in exploring them.  Also, I have used the characters to set up examples of personal integrity and courage that I hope will give readers something to consider when making their own ethical choices in life.

Which character, if any, do you relate to the most?
I have to say that I relate most to Martie.  She and her brother, Ben, are both heroes, but she really stands out.  She’s a young woman, but I’ve always been surrounded by great women, from my mother and five sisters who are all people of great character, to my own daughter and my wife who are among my most admired people in the world.  Denise, my wife, does everything adventurous with me, including scuba diving all over the world.

Without spoiling anything, is there a message you would like readers to take with them after reading the Curse of Durgan’s Reef?
I want them to know that life is full of beauty and adventure, and that anyone can enjoy both.  But life always requires choices, and making those choices requires courage.  Also, when family and friends stick together, the choices we make to do what is right can lead to deeper and more satisfying relationships.

Can we look for a sequel? Plans for another novel?
I have already started on a sequel of sorts.  The one I’m writing now includes some of the same characters, but it’s set in a different country and explores somewhat different issues.  But, it will be just as exciting and full of adventure.

Who is your favorite author & why?
That’s a tough question since I am an avid reader and there are so many great authors out there.  I suppose, if I have to choose, I would say Ken Follett.  His book, Pillars of the Earth, is perhaps the greatest novel I’ve ever read.  No book has ever moved me from the extremes of tears to joy so quickly, while educating me about medieval history, lifestyles and architecture.  I also like the Spanish author, Arturo Perez-Reverte. He also is good at exploring the human character and psyche, with superb descriptions of interesting places and situations.  I could go on, but I’ll stop for now with these two.

Do you use PaperBackSwap.com or any of our other sites?
I must be one of your biggest fans!  Yes, I use all three sites constantly for swapping DVDs, CDs, and books.  I just love everything about the concept.  Recycling and sharing with other people across the country, with such little cost and effort, has become a real hobby since your sites opened.  And the sites are all very user friendly, the customer service is great, and there’s always something new.

As an author what do you think about PaperBackSwap.com?
It’s a great way to get more people browsing, reading my books, and learning about more books in general.  This is one of the best concepts I’ve ever seen.  You don’t even have to leave your home, but you can shop and browse beyond your wildest dreams, and you can network with other readers nationwide who have similar interests.

Member of the Month

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Patty P. (Patouie)

Patouie is here, there and everywhere on PBS – guiding other members as a Tour Guide, guiding other Tour Guides as a Tour Guide Leader, approving data corrections, approving cover image uploads, answering questions in the Forums….  We don’t think there is a part of PBS that Patouie has not made better!

Some of the comments we got about Patty include:

“My first day really using the site, she answered a few of my questions via “Live Help”. Since then I have submitted Book Data information which she corrected and responded to, and I also submitted several cover images which I know she was involved in approving. She is always very nice and informative in her correspondences and I get the impression she spends a lot of time on the site to the benefit of other members.”

“I love Patty – she’s been so patient with my questions!  I am so glad she is my Tour Guide!”

“She is so nice to everyone and I think she really embodies the sharing, caring spirit of PBS”

Patty, you have a dedicated fan club!  You are our Member of the Month for October.  Congratulations!

If you have any nominations for Member of the Month,
submit them to us here.  Your nomination will not “expire”–anyone you nominate will have a chance at getting Member of the Month if enough nominations accumulate over time. Each month the person who has the most votes accumulated when the Newsletter goes to press gets to be Member of the Month and gets a newsletter mention and a nifty MoM icon to wear on profile and forum posts with pride.  So go for it! Tell us who’s helped you in the Forums, who’s been a great swapper, who in your opinion is a credit to PBS.  We are keeping a list of all the nominated members.  Who knows–one of them might be YOU!

Dear Librarian: flu from a package, credits for sharing, reminder list

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Dear Librarian-  I am so worried I will get the flu from a PBS package. What are the risks? –Cautious in Cleveland

Dear Eve,

It is known that the flu virus will survive on paper surfaces and currency for 8-12 hours at room temperature. So there is a theoretical risk of getting infectious mail (or change at Starbucks!) if someone sneezed or coughed onto your package within several hours of the time it comes to your mailbox. No one knows what the *real* risk is, of course.

In these situations, common sense applies: maintain good handwashing practices as always, and if you are concerned about your mail you can always bring it in, put it into an airtight bin for 12 hours and disinfect your hands (alcohol hand sanitizers kill the flu virus effectively), and then open the bin 12 hours later, at which point you can be sure any flu virus that might have been sneezed onto your mail en route is dead.

Dear Librarian– It seems like you guys are always changing things.  I JUST found out that I can get credits for referring new members!  There’s so much going on that I am not sure how to keep up with it all.  Any suggestions? –Quizzical in Queens

Dear Izzy,

You’re right, we are always tweaking things on the site.  Although a lot of the stuff we do is behind the scenes to keep the site loading fast and everything moving smoothly, we are also constantly upgrading existing features to work better.   When we make significant changes, we will announce them in the Newsletter, but you can also look in the What’s New! section on the site to keep up with changes as they happen.  You can get to What’s New! from the link at the very top right corner of the screen, and also from the Browse Help Docs page in the Help Center.  We try to put updates in What’s New so that new features don’t escape notice; if you check there once a week or so (or if you see something you think might be new),  it can keep you “up to speed”.

Dear Librarian– Can you put the “Convert” button back on the Reminder List? I used that to move stuff from my Reminder List to my Wish List and I don’t know how to do that now! –Boggled in Boston

Dear Tony,

We know that some people used the Convert function on the Reminder and Wish Lists, but on the whole it caused confusion – members didn’t realize that an item couldn’t be on both lists at once, and so they would add a book that was already on their Wish List to their Reminder Lists, and that would take the item off their Wish Lists although they didn’t intend this.   Now an item can be on both lists, and the Reminder List can be a list of ALL the books you want, so you can see it in one place.

It is still easy to Wish List a Reminder List book, by clicking +Wish on the listing on the Reminder List. You can read about the Wish List changes in the What’s New area linked from the “What’s New” at the very top of the site (and on the Browse Help Docs page in the Help Center).

Coming Soon:

  • Updated flyers to help Spread the Word
  • Book giveaways in the PBS blog

Local Book Club Chapter News:

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

above: Mary Grace (reading-voraciously) and Carol (tehachap) and Clarise (clarisew)

below: Caralynn (sixmarbles) and Desiree (desigiggles22)

The Bakersfield Chapter met Saturday, Sept 26 in the Starbucks coffee shop at the local Barnes and Noble.  As Mg N. – reading-voraciously reported:  “We chatted and learned.  Desiree K. coached Caralynn R. in using the website.  Carol W. explained why she lives where she does in retirement.  I checked out our compatibility in our books ~ not one member has been higher than about 34% before I checked out my local new best friends.  Every one of them is 41% or higher.  (And they are so very nice ~ thank you, PBS!) We will be meeting again in November before the hectic holidays.”

New Local Chapter Leaders:

  • Cathy N. – morpha – SW WA/Coastal NW Oregon
  • Kim S. – kscha2017 – Eastern WI
  • Misty M. – mistyake – Kansas City, MO

If you want to be a Local Chapter Leader for PBS, you just need to have a PBS NIckname, a viewable public profile, and some organizational skills…check the Local Chapter Leaders Forum List of Official Chapters to see if your area already has a local Chapter. If not, and you want to do this, just contact us. There are no formal guidelines for being a Chapter Leader.  All of the information is in the Local Chapter Leader Discussion Forum topic. If you are an official Chapter Leader and want us to include your upcoming meetup in the Newsletter, send in a message to us with the date, at least a week before the end of the preceding month.

Scary Book Recommendations for October

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Thrills ‘n’ Chills

Here are some great goosebumpy reads, currently available to request…

Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King
Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Short stories by the master…Stephen King is your go-to author for wickedly frightening tales!
Sunday at Tiffany's by James Patterson
Sunday at Tiffany’s. Jane is a lonely young girl who takes comfort in her imaginary friend, Michael. On Jane’s ninth birthday he leaves, promising her that she’ll forget him soon. He was there to help her until she was old enough to manage on her own, and now there are other children who need his help. Twenty years later, she is grown and still lonely despite her handsome boyfriend, when she catches a glimpse of a familiar face in a bar–Michael?
My Sweet Audrina by VC Andrews
My Sweet Audrina Audrina Adare wanted so to be as good as her sister. She knew her father could not love her as he loved her sister. Her sister was so special, so perfect — and dead.   Upstairs in the locked room was her sister’s sacred rocking chair, which held the secret of all her sister’s gifts. Now Audrina will rock and rock and claim those gifts, and come face to face with the dangerous, terrifying secret that everyone knows.   Everyone except Audrina.

In the Night Room by Peter Straub
In the Night Room Willy Patrick thinks she is losing her mind; she knows somehow that her daughter is in danger, and she has an overwhelming need to rescue her. But this is impossible, for her daughter is dead.  Timothy Underhill is receiving eerie, fragmented e-mails that he finally realizes are from people he knew in his youth–people now dead.  When Willy and Timothy meet, the frightening parallels tell them that they must join forces to confront the evils surrounding them.
The Dream-Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Dream-Hunter …In the ethereal world of dreams, there are champions who fight to protect the dreamer and there are demons who prey on them.  Arik is such a predator, condemned by the gods to live eternity without emotions.  Arik can feel only when he’s in the dreams of others. For thousands of years, he’s drifted through the human unconscious, searching for sensation. Now he’s finally found a dreamer whose vivid mind can fill his emptiness…

Coming soon to the blog: more author interviews and signed book giveaways

Looking for more scary books? Check out one of our next featured authors – Bruce Boston, three time winner of the Bram Stoker Award.
Doctor, Doctor! Interviews with Dr. Bruce Conn (The Curse of Durgan’s Reef) and Dr. Harold Shinitzky (Your Mind: An Owner’s Manual for a Better Life).

The Nightmare CollectionThe Curse of Durgan's Reef by Dr. Bruce ConnYour Mind: An Owners Manual