Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It’s Banned Books Week – how will you celebrate?

From Sept. 25 through Oct 2, Banned Books Week highlights the importance of our freedoms. As an author, I’m grateful for the intellectual freedom we’re afforded in America. Across the nation, cities have joined in the fight against censorship by holding events.

Unfortunately, the practice of banning books follows a longstanding tradition of censorship. Read Mark Twain’s letter, written after the Omaha Public Library banned Huckleberry Finn

It’s surprising that even today, books are still being banned. One of my favorite authors, T.C. Boyle, made the list with The Tortilla Curtain. The Santa Rosa High School review committee limited its reading to juniors and seniors because they considered certain parts “provocative.”

This, when America ranks lower each year in global literacy? Seriously, how can students learn to think for themselves if others decide what they should and should not read?

Here are some accounts of attempts to ban books.

Four members of the Christian Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit seeking $30,000 each, claming emotional distress simply because the West Bend, Wis. Community Memorial Library displayed a copy of Francesca Lia Block’s Baby Be-Bop. They called for the YA book to actually be burned in public. Thank goodness for the library board’s decision, 9-0, not to restrict access in any manner.

After a parent claimed the book promited “economic fallacies” and socialist ideas, a Pennsylvania school district banned even such a benign title as Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. A CYA move, disgraceful to say the least.

Here’s the complete list of books banned this past year.

These complaints makes me want to run out and read it for myself. Judge for myself. How about you?

How to combat this ongoing nonsense? The American Library Association advises us to be proactive. Stay informed. Several groups include activities designed to protect our First Amendment rights, including The Freedom to Read Foundation, The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, The National Coalition Against Censorship, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Find them online, including Facebook, to keep yourself informed.

What should you do if you find an act of censorship? Report it to ALA’s Offi ce for Intellectual Freedom. All identifying information is kept strictly confidential. You can fi le reports online by going to www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/index.cfm.

Most importantly, participate in Banned Books Week by joining in a local event, or simply by reading a banned book. The New York Times suggests a list of ten activities, if you can’t think of one yourself.

Anna Quindlen also provided a few suggestions in her op ed piece.

What have I done, you ask? Why, I bought a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. I look forward to reading this classic, and to continue reading any book I choose.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Featured author: Sharon Donovan

Prior to the loss of her vision, author Sharon Donovan was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream rose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words. Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. She is a published author with The Wild Rose Press, White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Echo of a Raven is a CTRR recipient, and The Claddagh Ring is a CAPA nominee. To read excerpts and reviews of Sharon’s books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website: www.sharonadonovan.com. You can also keep up with Sharon on her blog: http://sharondonovan.blogspot.com

The Wild Rose Press just released Sharon's latest, Her Biggest Fan, as part of its Men in Uniform series. Her Biggest Fan is available in ebook and print. Please give Sharon a warm welcome!

Here's the blurb:
From the shadows of the woods, he keeps vigil. The stage is set to drive the pretty little princess insane. He’s coming for her. And when he catches her, he’ll pounce on her like the big bad wolf.
After receiving a disturbing fan letter, New York Times best-selling author Tess Kincaid flees to the New England home she’s inherited following her father’s death. The manor has been tainted, every room staged to resemble the way it was in its glory days. However when Tess calls the police, the chilling props vanish into thin air.
Ruggedly handsome Sheriff Mike Andretti is called to investigate the reported burning candles, dancing gargoyles and otherworldly events. When he discovers no trace of the eerie setting, he finds himself caught between duty and desire. Is the woman with the bewitching green eyes delusional or is this a trap of twisted wit set by a demented fan?

And an excerpt:
Cool air drifted out of the ballroom, carrying the scent of burning candles and cigarettes.
Music floated through the corridor, the seductive undertone hauntingly familiar. The music was hypnotic, mesmerizing. Tess could barely think over the loud beat of her heart.
Every sense screamed to beware. She was about to come face-to-face with her stalker, her biggest fan. But over the hammering of her heart and accelerated senses, her will to put an end to this deadly game prevailed. She had to face him, find out who was behind this bizarre masquerade. Anticipation mounting, she made the turn at the end of the corridor and came to a riveting halt.
A female wax gargoyle stood in the doorway, long blonde hair billowing in the breeze. Her glass eyes shimmered with madness, an eerie smile on her face. In one hand, she held a mission bell, the other reaching out for a candle.
Music played from the old phonograph, the plucking of guitar strings laced with seduction. A breeze blew in through open terrace doors, stirring the sweet scent of jasmine from the candelabras.
Two wax nymphs stood at the bar, glass eyes shining bright in the candlelight, pliable fingers wrapped around flutes of pink champagne. Lit cigarettes burned in ashtrays. From behind the bar, a winged monster served drinks.
In the center of the ballroom, two gargoyles held a pose as if they were dancing, their waxy bodies closely pressed together, their reflections glowing in the mirrored ceiling. From the old phonograph in the corner, the hypnotic music played.
Tess gasped, her hand clasping her mouth. “Oh, my God!”
Mike raised his gun, circled the room. “Come out with your hands up. Hancock County Sheriff. Put your hands where I can see them.”

Monday, September 20, 2010

Special guest on my blog today

Mike Silvestri's discussing his latest release, The Gospel of Matthias Kent, on my blog: http://catemasters.blogspot.com. Pop on over for a visit and leave Mike a comment!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blogmania winner!

Wow, what a great Blogmania event! We're so appreciative of all the new followers. We'll strive not to disappoint. :)

We've tossed everyone's name into a bowl and drew out (drum roll please....) J Krowyn. Congrats! I will be emailing you for your mailing address so we can send the box of goodies your way. The Leap Books gift certificate will arrive separately, and the ebooks will likewise be emailed.

Thanks again to everyone for your amazing support. We hope you'll visit often. The Susquehanna Writers are a busy bunch, so there's always something new!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweet Blogmania offering from The Susquehanna Writers

Welcome to BlogMania!

You have two days to enter to win our prize package below. If you enter the giveaways in all the participating blogs, you'll have the chance at $40,000 in prizes!

The Susquehanna Writers blog is #152 out of 170.

Check out this sweet package! What's better than books? Books and chocolate from the Sweetest Place on Earth -- Hershey, Pa. Click on the photo above for a larger view.

The Susquehanna Writers will be giving away these goodies for Blogmania:

Acting Assertively by Lisa Lawmaster Hess
Fever Dreams by Cate Masters
The Greater Good by Susan Kelley
It Came from Beyond the Sun by Mike Silvestri
The Keepers of Sulbreth by Susan Gourley
Picture This by Cate Masters
Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk
Spark of Magic (ebook) by Lily Stone
Summer Lovin' (ebook) by Laurie J. Edwards
Thy Kingdom Come by Don Helin
The Yellow Stone by T.M. Crone
Plus a $10 gift certificate to Leap Books

And yummy chocolate! Large plain, almond and extra dark Hershey's bars.

All you need to do to qualify is:
- become a follower of The Susquehanna Writers' blog
- live in the continental United States or Canada
- leave a comment on this post, including your email address so we can contact you if you win.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. on September 16, 2010. Winners will be chosen at random and posted by September 18, 2010. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to initial contact from me or I will select a new winner. Good luck, and enjoy the mania!

Follow on to the next participating blog: The Sweetest Romance Authors.

Check the master list of participating Blogmania blogs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another chance to win Surfacing!

Surfacing is in the Spotlight Giveaway at HEA Reviews. Simply leave a comment at that post by Friday for a chance to win a print copy of my contemporary fantasy. You can read the first chapter on the Whiskey Creek Press site.

Here's the blurb:
AJ Dillon is trouble. The former lead singer of an indie band has no home, no money and no future. His grandfather is the only relative willing to take another chance on him. AJ arrives in Weeki Wachee, Florida, with his guitar, a few clothes and a bad attitude. The only good thing about Weeki Wachee is the ocean -- the one place AJ feels at home.
Grandpa lines up a job for AJ at Weeki Wachee Springs, where beautiful women perform as mermaids. Grandpa says real mermaids exist, but AJ doesn’t believe – until he meets Cassiopeia. She helps his passion for music resurfaces. But greedy Chaz finds out about her, and threatens to kill them if AJ doesn't go along with his plan to make a fortune with a real mermaid show. Can AJ save Cassie, even if it means losing her?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My blog's part of Blogfest!

Time for Blogfest! Woo hoo! *throws confetti and blows noisemaker*

My blog is participating, and giving away the tasty prizes shown below. So pop on over to http://catemasters.blogspot.com, follow my blog and leave a comment (open to those in the continental US or Canada, sorry).

Click on the photo for a larger view.

And don't forget to visit this blog on September 15-16 for a chance to win the sweet prizes the Susquehanna Writers will be offering for Blogmania.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Came, I Saw, I Signed

What do you get when you mix forty-five thousand people, four hot days in Atlanta, and enough alcohol to fill a super tanker? Dragon*Con 2010!

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Jenny and I had been to World Fantasy last year, so I was thinking it would be little bigger, a little noisier, with a few more fans than writers. Pfft. I didn’t have a clue. The sheer volume of people descending on downtown Atlanta was mind-boggling. People arrived early in the morning each day and stayed well into the wee hours. Writers, actors, artists, publishers, T-shirt sellers, podcast creators, people in the most outrageous costumes.

I met some of the staff at Pyr/Prometheus Books, including editor-extraordinaire Lou Anders, Director of Publicity Jill Maxick, and “Slush Reader” Rene Sears. They are terrific people and uber-helpful. We spent a lot of time together at the Pyr display booth, talking to fans and spreading the word about our products.

I was also psyched to meet fellow Pyr authors like the irrepressible Sam Sykes (Tome of the Undergates), James Enge (Blood of Ambrose), Mike Resnick (Starship series), and Clay and Susan Griffith (The Greyfriar).

We ate, we talked, and we drank. It was awesome. And did I mention the costumes? Check my facebook album for some pictures. One of my few regrets was not spending more time just people-watching.

Anyway, if you get the chance, I highly recommend going. Pack comfortable walking shoes and a camera, and maybe I’ll see you there next year.