Publishers Weekly called me Fascinating!

Well, not me exactly, but my book, which is ALMOST the same thing.

They had this to say about ALL DARLING CHILDREN: “Monroe’s fascinating reimagining brings out all the creepy undertones of never wanting to grow up.”

Waltz on over to Amazon and find out what the hell they’re talking about.

all-darling-children-hi-res

Ain’t she GORGEOUS?

Guest Post! Starring Kelley Kaye

I have no idea what day it is, I just know it’s time for a post. Continuing our chat on the importance of reading (not just to my livelihood, but to your brains!), I’ve strapped Kelley Kaye down and insisted she give us a lesson-on-demand. Take it away, Kelley.

51mbhptze7l

Although my parents read books to me since birth (my father owned a used bookstore), I have also maintained that one big way I learned to read was by watching The Electric Company circa 1972. Do you remember that show? I loved the shadows talking to each other on the screen: BR.  EAK. Break. S. ING. Sing. Loved it!

So this is how the story goes. I’m three years old, and grandma has got me a book! I tear excitedly across the floor to my mother and say LOOK, grandma’s got me a book! Will you read me this book? And mom says, well, why don’t YOU read it to ME? So I do. And this is not a See Spot Run kind of book, I hear (I don’t remember, because I was three), but a legit story book. Mom was surprised. Did gramma already read you this book? she asks. Did Daddy? No, Mommy, I say. You asked me to read it to you, so I did!

And that was the beginning. My life since then has been a plethora, a myriad, a glut, multitude, overabundance, gross, nee a compendium of massive book love. I read books, sometimes (often) to the detriment of other things I should be doing (like homework, work, parenting, sleeping. Breathing), and my career(s) have always had something to do with books. Twenty years of teaching English, for example, and now I am living from both ends of the wire, and writing books.

As a teacher, I had a motto for which I became known: If You Don’t Like to Read, You Just Haven’t Found the Right Book Yet. I had a library in my classroom comprised of books from my dad’s store in every genre, every reading level, available for students to check out. I love nothing more than searching the psyche of my students to find out their interests. I listen, then twinkle my fingers over the collection, and voila! A book, often the perfect book, finds its way into the hands of my reluctant reader, and soon reluctance gives way to curiosity, experimentation, and finally, salivation. Salvation, too. Another human for whom getting lost in a book is better than sex. Okay, better than chocolate. Okay, okaaay. Better than almost anything else.

My favorite book story concerns a student from my first year of teaching: Elijah. I started my teaching career in Lake Tahoe, California, where the population was teeming with skiers. Skier kids (okay, usually snowboarder kids) are kinda like skater kids in any other town—they board to the beat of their own drum. Elijah was small and skinny, with very blonde hair that reached down to his shoulders and stuck out of a baseball cap that was always pulled clear down to his nose. He wore bellbottom jeans that were way too long, so the ends dragged along behind him in the dirt; they were his signature.

One of my classroom requirements was outside reading, anywhere from 300 to 800 pages of books of the student’s choosing. I let them pick for themselves because let’s face it: students often feel that the required reading for English is less than thrilling. When I shared my OR Requirement with Elijah’s class, along with my motto, Elijah confided in me that he’d never finished a whole book, and he was a freshman in high school!

So we talked for a while about his interests (snowboards, girls, animals) and why he didn’t like to read (books were too slow, books were boring) and after maybe ONE SECOND of thought, I gave him a book by Dean Koontz called The Watcher, a thriller about a boy and his dog. I told him to bring it back if he didn’t like it and we’d try another.

He brought it back a week later—I was disappointed that it hadn’t worked—usually Koontz is a sure-fire winner for bored readers. That’s not it! he said. I’m finished! Give me another! That year he read three Dean Koontz novels, way in excess of the 500 pages I had assigned his class. I went back to Tahoe during Elijah’s senior year and discovered he had read like 25 Koontz novels and was on to other thrillers.

I don’t know if he ever discovered a love for Jane Austen, but who cares? A reader is a reader is a reader. Once you’ve got the bug, it’s better than (almost) anything else. And if you don’t quite believe me, give me a call, because the only problem is you haven’t found the right books yet!

Kelley’s brains and books are available for you to stalk at the links below.

Death by Diploma on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Diploma-Chalkboard-Outlines-Book-ebook/dp/B01BLUB9CK/

Death by Diploma Book Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAMXkR3kA-8

Kelley and Kat on The Rack http://www.darkcomedyprods.com/kkaye.html

Kelley Kaye’s Kozy Korner: https://www.facebook.com/authorkelleykaye/

Kelley Kaye on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kelkay1202

Kelley’s Website: http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

***Death by Diploma will soon be out on AUDIOBOOK!

I Read a Thing; Now My Brain is on Fire

We talk all the time about words burning themselves in our minds…

No. That’s a bad start. Forgive me. My brain is on fire.

There are a few things on my list of “Never Do’s”:

I never cry after reading a book, no matter how touching the subject matter.

I never highlight directly in the book, or make notes–instead, I copy things in journals in frantic, barely legible handwriting.

I never wander the apartment with a lost look on my face after finishing a book.

Then I read Catherynne M. Valente’s RADIANCE and all that went to hell.

51ewu-9sril-_sx329_bo1204203200_

This book wasn’t particularly sad. In fact, without giving anything away, you could say the end is one of the more uplifting ones I’ve read of late. But seconds after I closed the book, tears started falling. Fuck, they’re still there. That’s because this prose–this fucking prose–gets inside your head and your heart and you don’t realize it’s messing you up until it’s done the damage. You’re drunk on prose and it’s only minutes until the cirrhosis hits.

The worst part is you’re thankful for it. Praise be the callowhale.

It’s a book about movies and making movies and the visuals are so striking, so intricate, that I found myself going back over descriptions–over and over–to suck every last drop of it out. ‘…a hat brim so sharp it’ll cut the night’ — ‘…rough garnet chips that do not glitter so much as burn against her childish waist.’

In all its space opera/alternate universe sci-fi flair, RADIANCE snuck up on me with its real factor–that’s a thing I don’t think I could ever forgive an author for. But god dammit if I’m not going to turn over and ask for another.

‘We live in a universe of lenses. We watch and watch. We all share one eye between us, the big black camera iris. We wait our turn to see what someone else saw on a screen. And then we pass it on.’

You’ll forgive me if I don’t turn on the television for a while.

Guest Post with author Jeannie Zokan

In today’s guest post (I know it’s not Friday, shut up), I discovered a kindred spirit in Jeannie and her little black book of, well, books.

books

In the summer of 2004, I started keeping track of each book I read in a little notebook. I considered making an entry about the books, but decided to keep it simple and just note the title and author. If it turned into work, I wouldn’t do it. Now, this 3-inch notebook, stored in my bedside table, has become an interesting book in its own right.

For one thing, I’m amazed at how many self-help books I go through. And how many titles I immediately remember, like names of close friends. They evoke a vivid image of where I was when I read a certain passage or the conversation I had about it for book club. There were, however, some titles that didn’t leave an impression on me. What was Three Junes about again?

The eclectic nature of the list in my notebook surprises me. I make no sense, and maybe that’s why there are so many self-help books. But how can I consider Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible as one of my favorites books when I’ve read everything scifi writer Douglas Adams wrote? I can see the links to Dave Barry and Bill Bryson, but how to explain The Fault In Our Stars by John Green? Or Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Or Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic?

Of course, that’s the beauty of reading . The next book that finds its way onto my list doesn’t have to fit into a category. The heart wants what it wants, and I just enjoy the delicious journey a good book always provides.

And since I know you’re curious, a few of the self-help books on the list are How to Think Like Einstein, Style on a Shoestring, and The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You.

Happy Reading!

 

Jeannie Zokan’s debut novel, The Existence of Pity, was released in October 2016 by Red Adept Publishing.

You can follow her on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorJeannieZokan/

on twitter:   https://twitter.com/JoZokan

Her blog: www.jeanniezokan.blogspot.com

And her webpage: www.jeanniezokan.com