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    Michael Nava“My responsibility as a Mexican-American writer is not to invariably cast Mexican-American characters in a positive light because that simply exchanges one kind of stereotype for another.  My responsibility is to move beyond stereotypes entirely and to depict our complex humanity. We are not a simple race of maids and gardeners or gang bangers and spitfires. We are a people who have suffered and persevered, wounded but enduring. I am honored by my heritage and as a literary artist I seek to honor it in return.”

    —MICHAEL NAVA

    Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans.

    Today, we’re spotlighting Michael Nava, an attorney and the author of the award-winning mystery series starring Henry Rios, a gay Latino public defender in California.

    Nava grew up in Gardenland, a working-class Mexican neighborhood in Sacramento, California, which he describes as “not an American suburb, but rather . . . a Mexican village.” Through books, Nava explored the world outside his community, becoming a voracious reader and dedicated writer at a young age.

    As the first member of his family to attend college, Nava earned his law degree at Stanford University and worked at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. In 1999, he joined the staff of the California Supreme Court, where he worked on cases for LGBT and minority rights.

    The Henry Rios Mysteries are based on his experience in the legal field. “Rios is a gay man, he’s Latino, and he’s not a character you see very much in any kind of American fiction,” Nava says in an interview with Open Road. Throughout the seven-book series, Rios fights for the dispossessed, people similar to the author and his family growing up. “We were poor. My interest in social justice isn’t abstract—it’s quite personal.”

    The novels have received critical acclaim and earned six Lambda Literary Awards. Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times writes, “An exceptional series . . . Nava writes in a cool idiom whose clarity and precision contain the heat of the inflammatory social issues and take the edge off the characters’ emotional pain. . . . Nava is one of the best.”

    This Hispanic Heritage Month, dive into literature that takes pride in America’s diversity and gives a voice to those seldom listened to. To learn more about the Henry Rios Mysteries or to watch our video of the author speaking about his history and his writing, check out Nava’s author page.

    Already read the Henry Rios Mysteries—or looking for something a little different? Find your next read with our Literary Guide to National Hispanic Heritage Month, a flowchart spotlighting great poetry, fiction, memoir, and more.



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    Golden Gate BridgeWith temperatures dropping, there’s no better way to keep warm than with a good  thriller. This week’s featured author, Collin Wilcox, has written enough murderous tales to last all winter!

    Although he was born in Detroit, Wilcox set most of his novels in San Francisco. The first of these was 1967’s The Black Door—a noir thriller starring a crime reporter with extrasensory perception. Wilcox has also published several mysteries using the pen name Carter Wick, including The Faceless Man (1975) and Dark House, Dark Road (1982). 

    You may recall Wilcox’s Bernhardt’s Edge from last week’s featured art mysteries. Wilcox penned another popular mystery series—taking place off the stage this time—starring Lieutenant Frank Hastings.

    The Lonely HunterFrank Hastings is a former professional football player who lost his career and family to his alcoholism. Since moving to San Francisco and finally getting sober, Hastings has become one of the toughest police officers in the city. The series begins in 1969 with The Lonely Hunter. Lieutenant Hastings’s first case is a personal one. His own daughter, Claudia, has followed a hippie boy to the West Coast and disappeared into the drug-ridden Haight-Ashbury scene. Hastings is determined to find his daughter—no matter how bloody the trail.

    The hunt for Claudia is just the beginning. In the books that follow, Hastings’s assignments include solving a high-society abduction case (The Disappearance), tracking down the murderer of a rock ’n’ roll legend (Mankiller), and even confronting the leader of a Satanic cult (Long Way Down).

    By the time Lieutenant Frank Hastings is through with a case, you’ll be asking about the next one, so it’s a good thing there are so many titles to choose from.



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    “We never tired of it, either of us,” Curtis Harnack said of his marriage to Hortense Calisher. “It was just one of those things that went on and on, you know? Fifty years. It went by very quickly.”

    “The two were married for fifty years. Calisher died in 2009, followed less than five years later by her husband, who passed away in July 2013.” The impact of this incredible couple endures through their stories—both in their writing and in the personal, inspirational story of their loving relationship.

    Calisher and HarnackCalisher is celebrated as a “writer’s writer” for her rich prose and the complexity of her style, which have earned her, among other honors, O. Henry Awards and two Guggenheim Fellowships. Though she once said in a Paris Review interview that “the writer part comes first,” Calisher was also a feminist, a New Yorker, and of Southern Jewish descent. Her body of work covers a range of genres, from science fiction (Mysteries of Motion)to coming-of-age novels (The Bobby-Soxer).

    While much of Calisher’s writing is New York centric, Curtis Harnack’s childhood in Iowa resonates through his writing, including the novels The Work of an Ancient HandLove and Be Silent, and Limits of the Land, and the memoirs We Have All Gone Away and The Attic: A Memoir.

    Often, Calisher’s characters struggle with love and marriage. The same cannot be said of the author’s personal life.

    Calisher and Harnack met while both were teaching at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and were married on May 23, 1959. Dance was a common interest for the couple: Harnack became president of the School of American Ballet from 1992 to 1997 and his wife had been a dancer in her youth. And of course they shared a passion for writing, but, as Harnack said in an interview, they never shared their works in progress with one another: “We didn’t get involved in each other’s writing or even see work until it was done and ready to be sent out. That scheme seemed best for us.”

    Harnack and Calisher played active roles in the literary community. From 1971 to 1987, Harnack was the executive director of Yaddo, an artists’ community in Saratoga Springs, New York. Founded in 1900, Yaddo has long provided a community of supportive artists including such impressive writers as John Cheever, Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, and Nobel laureate Saul Bellow.

    For more on Calisher from the perspectives of her husband and friends, watch our exclusive video: http://video.openroadmedia.com/BEnG/hortense-calisher/


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    "In Their Own Words" is a blog series featuring excerpts that represent the soldier's experience. Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the American men and women of service this Veterans Day.

    The Fremantle DiaryThe Fremantle Diary: A Journal of the Confederacy edited by Walter Lord

    The diary of an Englishman who spent three months behind Confederate lines, The Fremantle Diary offers an unparalleled glimpse into the life of a soldier during the Civil War. In this passage, Fremantle describes his experience at Gettysburg.

     

    Every now and then a caisson would blow up—if a Federal one, a Confederate yell would immediately follow. The Southern troops, when charging, or to express their delight, always yell in a manner peculiar to themselves. The Yankee cheer is much more like ours; but the Confederate officers declare that the Rebel yell has a particular merit, and always produces a salutary and useful effect upon their adversaries. A corps is sometimes spoken of as a “good yelling regiment.”

    As soon as the firing began, General Lee joined Hill just below our tree, and he remained there nearly all the time, looking through his fieldglass—sometimes talking to Hill and sometimes to Colonel Long of his staff. But generally he sat quite alone on the stump of a tree. What I remarked especially was, that during the whole time the firing continued, he only sent one message, and only received one report. It is evidently his system to arrange the plan thoroughly with the three corps commanders, and then leave to them the duty of modifying and carrying it out to the best of their abilities.

    When the cannonade was at its height, a Confederate band of music, between the cemetery and ourselves, began to play polkas and waltzes, which sounded very curious, accompanied by the hissing and bursting of the shells.

    At 5:45 all became comparatively quiet on our left and in the cemetery; but volleys of musketry on the right told us that Longstreet’s infantry were advancing, and the onward progress of the smoke showed that he was progressing favorably. About 6:30 there seemed to be a check, and even a slight retrograde movement. Soon after 7, General Lee got a report by signal from Longstreet to say “We are doing well.”

    Discover more stories of courage at http://www.openroadmedia.com/military?tab=featured-titles


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    In Their Own Words is a blog series featuring excerpts that represent the soldier's experience. Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the American men and women of service this Veterans Day.

    Born on the Fourth of JulyBorn on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic

    The bestselling memoir that tracks Kovics transition from Vietnam soldier to antiwar activist. A film adaptation of Born on the Fourth of July, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Cruise, was released in 1989.

     

     

    We went back to the rally for a while, then went on down to the Reflecting Pool. Hundreds of people had taken off their clothes. They were jumping up and down to the beat of bongo drums and metal cans. A man in his fifties had stripped completely naked. Wearing only a crazy-looking hat and a pair of enormous black glasses, he was dancing on a platform in the middle of hundreds of naked people. The crowd was clapping wildly. Skip hesitated for a moment, then stripped all his clothes off, jumping into the pool and joining the rest of the people. I didn’t know what all of this had to do with the invasion of Cambodia or the students slain at Kent State, but it was total freedom. As I sat there in my wheelchair at the edge of the Reflecting Pool with everyone running naked all around me and the clapping and the drums resounding in my ears, I wanted to join them. I wanted to take off my clothes like Skip and the rest of them and wade into the pool and rub my body with all those others. Everything seemed to be hitting me all at once. One part of me was upset that people were swimming naked in the national monument and the other part of me completely understood that now it was their pool, and what good is a pool if you can’t swim in it.

    I remember how the police came later that day, very suddenly, when we were watching the sun go down—a blue legion of police in cars and on motorcycles and others with angry faces on big horses. A tall cop walked into the crowd near the Reflecting Pool and read something into a bullhorn no one could make out. The drums stopped and a few of the naked people began to put their clothes back on. It was almost evening and with most of the invading army’s forces heading back along the Jersey Turnpike, the blue legion had decided to attack. And they did—wading their horses into the pool, flailing their clubs, smashing skulls. People were running everywhere as gas canisters began to pop. I couldn’t understand why this was happening, why the police would attack the people, running them into the grass with their horses and beating them with their clubs. Two or three horses charged into the crowd at full gallop, driving the invading army into retreat toward the Lincoln Memorial. A girl was crying and screaming, trying to help her bleeding friend. She was yelling something about the pigs and kept stepping backward away from the horses and the flying clubs. For the first time that day I felt anger surge up inside me. I was no longer an observer, sitting in my car at the edge of a demonstration. I was right in the middle of it and it was ugly. Skip started pushing the chair as fast as he could up the path toward the Lincoln Memorial. I kept turning, looking back. I wanted to shout back at the charging police, tell them I was a veteran.


    When we got to the memorial, I remember looking at Lincoln’s face and reading the words carved on the walls in back of him. I felt certain that if he were alive he would be there with us.

    I told Skip that I was never going to be the same. The demonstration had stirred something in my mind that would be there from now on. It was so very different from boot camp and fighting in the war. There was a togetherness, just as there had been in Vietnam, but it was a togetherness of a different kind of people and for a much different reason. In the war we were killing and maiming people. In Washington on that Saturday afternoon in May we were trying to heal them and set them free.

    Discover more stories of courage at http://www.openroadmedia.com/military?tab=featured-titles


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    With the turbulent historical Midwest as a backdrop, Mary Glickman’s characters fight for love, freedom, and a home in Marching to Zion, the author’s newest novel. The story is set predominantly in East St. Louis during the period between World War I and World War II.

    Marching to ZionDuring the early twentieth century, East St. Louis was overwhelmed by devastating hardships. In Marching to Zion, Magnus Bailey and Minnie Fishbein are an interracial St. Louis couple whose love is forbidden, their future jeopardized by a staggering list of serious obstacles:

    Riots: The East St. Louis Riot of 1917 erupted following a rumor that a black man had murdered a white man. Drive-by shootings, beatings, and arson were some of the crimes committed against the black community.

    Corruption: The government was notoriously crooked. Illegal businesses such as brothels, casinos, and saloons would be shut down by police to maintain appearances, only to reopen again shortly thereafter. Bribes given to the authorities helped these shady enterprises to sustain their momentum.

    Natural Disasters: The Great Flood of 1927 was the worst flood in the history of the United States. The overflowing Mississippi River damaged twenty-three thousand square miles of land.                                                                    

    Discrimination: Following the Great Flood, racial tensions reached a peak. Many of the black workers whose help wasThe Great Flood of 1927 enlisted to reverse the flood damage suffered astonishing mistreatment, forced to live in makeshift camps under terrible conditions to rebuild the levees. In what was known as the Great Migration, between ten and twelve thousand African Americans left the South for East St. Louis between 1916 and 1917, escaping the ruined land around the Mississippi River. The sudden influx of African American residents and workers made the white population hostile.      

    Can Minnie and Magnus’s relationship stand up to these obstacles?

    By the talented author of Home in the Morning and One More River, Marching to Zion is a compelling Southern Jewish novel that examines the price of love. Dive into the world of Marching to Zion, available as an ebook tomorrow: http://www.openroadmedia.com/marching-to-zion

     

     


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    "In Their Own Words" is a blog series featuring excerpts that represent the soldier's experience. Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the American men and women of service this Veterans Day.

    We Were Soldiers Once...and YoungWe Were Soldiers Once...and Young by Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway

    The New York Times bestseller, hailed as a “powerful and epic story . . . the best account of infantry combat I have ever read, and the most significant book to come out of the Vietnam War” by Col. David Hackworth, author of the bestseller About Face.

     

    Another war story, you say? Not exactly, for on the more important levels this is a love story, told in our own words and by our own actions. We were the children of the 1950s and we went where we were sent because we loved our country. We were draftees, most of us, but we were proud of the opportunity to serve that country just as our fathers had served in World War II and our older brothers in Korea . . .

    . . . We went to war because our country asked us to go, because our new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered us to go, but more importantly because we saw it as our duty to go. That is one kind of love.

    Another and far more transcendent love came to us unbidden on the battlefields, as it does on every battlefield in every war man has ever fought. We discovered in that depressing, hellish place, where death was our constant companion, that we loved each other. We killed for each other, we died for each other, and we wept for each other. And in time we came to love each other as brothers. In battle our world shrank to the man on our left and the man on our right and the enemy all around. We held each other’s lives in our hands and we learned to share our fears, our hopes, our dreams as readily as we shared what little else good came our way . . .

    Among us were old veterans, grizzled sergeants who had fought in Europe and the Pacific in World War II and had survived the frozen hell of Korea, and now were about to add another star to their Combat Infantryman’s Badge . . .

    The class of 1965 came out of the old America, a nation that disappeared forever in the smoke that billowed off the jungle battlegrounds where we fought and bled. The country that sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. It no longer existed. We answered the call of one president who was now dead; we followed the orders of another who would be hounded from office, and haunted, by the war he mismanaged so badly.

    Many of our countrymen came to hate the war we fought. Those who hated it the most—the professionally sensitive—were not, in the end, sensitive enough to differentiate between the war and the soldiers who had been ordered to fight it. They hated us as well, and we went to ground in the cross fire, as we had learned in the jungles.

    In time our battles were forgotten, our sacrifices were discounted, and both our sanity and our suitability for life in polite American society were publicly questioned. Our young-old faces, chiseled and gaunt from the fever and the heat and the sleepless nights, now stare back at us, lost and damned strangers, frozen in yellowing snapshots packed away in cardboard boxes with our medals and ribbons . . .

    We knew what Vietnam had been like, and how we looked and acted and talked and smelled. No one in America did. Hollywood got it wrong every damned time, whetting twisted political knives on the bones of our dead brothers.

    So once, just this once: This is how it all began, what it was really like, what it meant to us, and what we meant to each other. It was no movie. When it was over the dead did not get up and dust themselves off and walk away. The wounded did not wash away the red and go on with life, unhurt. Those who were, miraculously, unscratched were by no means untouched. Not one of us left Vietnam the same young man he was when he arrived.


    Discover more stories of courage at http://www.openroadmedia.com/military?tab=featured-titles


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    It’s that time of year again: Break out your trusty pencil or computer and hunker down, because NaNoWriMo is upon us! To refresh your memory, NaNoWriMo is when people try to complete a first draft of a manuscript within the month.

    As a former NaNoWriMo participant, I wanted to share a rundown of emotions and phases you can expect to experience during your “journey in writingland.”

    Week 1: 
    Excitement: If my neighbor’s cousin’s best friend could finish this, so can I!
    Anticipation fused with anxiety: Will I really be able to pull this off? What on earth did I get myself into?
    Slight arrogance: I am already drafting my Pulitzer Prize speech. Thank you to all the little people!

    Week 2: 
    Guilt: I own a dog and have a husband? How did I manage to forget this in between chapters two and three?
    Antisocial inclinations: I can’t help it that at the moment, I know more about what is happening in my protagonist’s life than in my own best friend’s.
    Pursuit of intelligent conversation: Forget water cooler talk at the office; instead, let’s touch upon my story’s denouement.

    Week 3: 
    Surrender: I can’t do it anymore! If I have to count one more word, this computer is going out the window!
    Regret: My writing support group has become closer than family but I miss October, when life didn’t revolve around characters, plot points, and all other things NaNoWriMo.
    Ambition: If I give up at word 19,000, I will never be Alice Walker!

    Week 4: 
    Smug satisfaction: One hundred fifty pages were cake! Watch out, Stephen King.
    Exhaustion: I’ll never type another word again.
    Exhilaration: Only 364 days until NaNoWriMo 2014!

    Happy writing—because 295,360 novelists (and counting) can’t be wrong!

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    "In Their Own Words" is a blog series featuring excerpts that represent the soldier's experience. Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the American men and women of service this Veterans Day.

    Kimberly's FlightKimberly's Flight by Ann Hampton and Anna Simon

    Kimberly’s Flight is the story of the exemplary life of Captain Kimberly Hampton, killed in action in a helicopter explosion over Iraq while commanding her combat aviation troop.

     


     . . . About the time I hit the river, I heard the ground guys start screaming on the radio.

    All they were saying was bird down, bird down, bird down. I laid the aircraft over as hard as I could. I got down to the river valley. I thought, okay, one, they’re shooting at me, or two, they’re shooting at them. Either way, we’re getting shot at. I didn’t know who it was. So I broke hard left back to the west, still alongside of the river. I’m calling on the radio to try to get contact with them. I’m calling “Darkhorse Six” … “Darkhorse Six.” I turn around. I don’t see anything where I think they should have been. So I do a little figure eight pattern to try to get back to where I thought they might have been. I turned left, turned to the west, did kind of a circle and headed back in the direction we came from. I didn’t see anything, so I came back to the west. I can’t find them, I don’t know what happened to them, and I don’t know if the shooter is still there trying to get me also. My main concern is to find the aircraft, and if they did go down, get help to them. My other concern is to make sure we don’t become a second aircraft down, compounding the problem for them.

    I can’t get hold of them so I switch my radio to the ground guys.

    “Where did you see it? What’s your location?”

    “South of us.”

    “Okay, where are you?”

    I flew back around to the west looking for smoke and saw a pile of smoke I thought might have been a burned aircraft, so I fly to that. It’s just smoke from someone burning grass in a field. Going to that, I turned to the left and I looked down and I saw something that looked unnatural in a field, so I brought it back around hard right, and I saw the tail boom of the aircraft.

    “I found pieces of the aircraft.”

    “We’re rolling! We’re rolling south.”

    I’m talking to the ground guys and trying to get contact with Adam Camarano’s team, to get them to launch out, because now I’m out there alone, single ship, and before all of this started, we were already at the bottom of our fuel. Now I’m getting past the critical point. I can’t remember who I got a hold of, if it was Willy or if it was Camarano.

    “We’ve got an aircraft down.”

    Discover more stories of courage at http://www.openroadmedia.com/military?tab=featured-titles


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    "In Their Own Words" is a blog series featuring excerpts that represent the soldier's experience. Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the American men and women of service this Veterans Day.

    Shade it BlackShade it Black: Death and After in Iraq by Jessica Goodell

    How did the remains of American servicemen and women get from the dusty roads of Fallujah to the flag-covered coffins at Dover Air Force Base? And what does the gathering of those remains tell us about the nature of modern warfare and about ourselves? These questions are the focus of Jessica Goodell’s book Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq.

     

    The Sir had called in every person in our platoon and designated people to particular tasks. He said, “You two are going to carry, you two are going to turn the body over, and you two are going to do the paper work.” He wanted all of us there, I’m certain, so that we could help each other out, help each other deal with it, because I’m sure that the Sir thought that we might panic and maybe we weren’t going to be able to do this. After all, most of us were eighteen and twenty year old kids still. If we didn’t know it, The Sir did.

    He gave us step-by-step instructions. “Roll him over to document his wounds.” We may have known that a Marine was hit by bullets or a grenade, but we may not have known where. But when we tried to turn him over, we couldn’t. Rigor mortis was setting in and he was already beginning to stiffen, except for his waist, which was like a pivot point. Even when we strained to turn him over, we could not. It was awkward and we were silent except for The Sir’s slow, calm, firm instructions. “C’mon guys, you were trained on this and you know what to do,” he reassured us. And so, eventually, we did it. “Okay,” The Sir said, “now write down any distinguishing marks, any tattoos.” So we did. “Now, write down which body parts are missing and shade the missing parts black on the outline of the body.” So we did. We followed The Sir’s directions, marking the wounds, drawing the tattoos, shading the missing parts black. We had to be told throughout what to do next and how to do it . . . 

    . . . When down the road the family asks, “Where is this picture? We know he always carried this picture with him,” we could report that he did or he did not have it on him when he died. Or if money wasn’t there that someone thought was, we could check our inventory. If there had been a pen in their pocket, or a note, if there were two twenties and two ones, we documented it. We would precisely document what he did and did not have on him at the time of his death . . . 

    There were pictures. A man and his wife and daughter. A farm-house and barn in Iowa. Many were the pictures teenagers would carry back home. A high school student with his football teammates. A young man in a sleeveless t-shirt leaning against a 1983 Camaro. A letter in which a Marine tells his widow that he is now dead, but that he loves her still, and he wants her to give their daughter a kiss from him.

    Some items were uncommon, like the sonogram of a fetus. Some were not uncommon enough, like a suicide note.

    We would examine the remains for distinguishing traits such as birthmarks, scars and tattoos. Where are they on the body? What is their approximate size? How can they be described? We would write down the wounds that were on the body. If there are bullet wounds, where on the body are they? If they are in the head, where in the head? How many? We would get the appropriate form and mark the outline of the body with dots or Xs where the Marine was hit. Where body parts were missing, we would shade those parts of the outline black. If a part of the head was missing, we’d shade that area black.

     

    Discover more stories of courage at http://www.openroadmedia.com/military?tab=featured-titles.


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  • 11/12/13--05:00: Century of Crime Giveaway!
  • Many aspects of the mystery novel have changed drastically over the past century—style, language, technology, and crimes—but the core of the genre has stood the test of time. As long as crooks persist, sleuths will be around to track them down.

    This week, we're celebrating mysteries and history from the 1890s to today. And here's the best part: we're hosting a mystery book giveaway with a grand prize of eight mysteries and thrillers! Go here to enter for your chance to win.

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  • 11/12/13--07:00: October Retro Reads Roundup
  • Retro Reads

    The temperature is steadily dropping and there’s a chill in the night air, so we decided to spook things up a bit with our October Retro Reads pick, Sally Beauman’s Lovers and Liars. With a sordid sex scandal on the brink of breaking news, reporters Gini and Pascal must work in close quarters to get to the bottom of it—and address their torrid affair of years past.

    Lovers and Liars

    Our Retro Readers took on the longer book with their usual ardor. Lila raved about the suspense and deception of the novel in her review, commenting, “This story kept me guessing and second-guessing at every turn. And I loved it.” The Retro Readers were also struck by the difference in the presentation of sex in the book. Rosee added, “The BDSM is handled very differently than more current books—I think it’s a little more tasteful.” A couple of our reviewers commented on how the book’s 1990s setting, without cell phones and their immediacy, added to the suspense. Maria commented, “I had to stop myself a few times and say, ‘No, they can’t just call their cell phones. They don’t have any!’ ”

    Check out our Retro Reads Goodreads group to see these reviews, related videos, and our ongoing discussion.

    For November, we’re going contemporary with Sandra Kitt’s Close Encounters, the story of an interracial couple’s second chance at love, and the issues they must overcome to make it last.

    Read more about the selections here and stay tuned to our blog, Facebook, and Twitter throughout the month for updates from our Retro Readers.

    Know someone who would make a great Retro Reader? Pass along the entry guidelines found here.


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  • 11/12/13--21:10: A Special Romance Giveaway
  • A Special Romance Giveaway

    Here at Open Road, we're crazy about romance. (Maybe you are, too?) So this week, we are sharing that love of romance—along with a spiffy new Kobo Arc to read in style—with one lucky fan. Enter your email address below for a chance to win a Kobo Arc tablet, along with three of our favorite romance reads to get you started: The Color of Love by Sandra Kitt, Arabian Nights by Heather Graham, and Beloved Enemy by Ellen Jones.

    We hope you will also sign up for our newsletter, Romancing the Reader. This monthly email will let you know about upcoming ebook releases, author events, and special offers and discounts.

    (Sorry! Only US residents are eligible.)

    Official Rules & Regulations :: Open Road Privacy Policy


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    Mary WesleyOften referred to as “Jane Austen with sex,” Mary Wesley was a British novelist whose books sold more than three million copies, many of them ultimately becoming bestsellers. 

    Her novels largely take place in a war-ridden England, but her characters are often preoccupied with frivolity rather than the dangers of war—a sensibility Wesley herself echoed. “War freed us,” she told Patrick Marnham, who penned her biography, Wild Mary.“We felt if we didn’t do it now, we might never get another chance.”

    In honor of the digital debut of ten of Wesley’s novels, we wanted to share with you a list of her favorite things (in no particular order). We think you’ll be able to see why her nickname, “Wild Mary,” was truly fitting:

    #1: Geese

    Geese

    Wesley had an odd love of geese. She not only had a favorite one of her own, named Pansy, who would sit in her lap in the park, but she also included one in her first novel for adults, Jumping the Queue—a gander called Gus who falls in love with the heroine, Matilda.

    #2: Writing

    While Wesley wrote all her life, her lack of confidence held her back. Jumping the Queue, her first adult novel, was released in 1983 when she was seventy years old. She published a total of ten very successful adult novels before she stopped writing at the age of eighty-four.

    When asked why she suddenly stopped writing, Wesley answered, “If you haven’t got anything to say, don’t say it.”

    #3: Men

    Wesley Men

    Wesley’s nickname of Wild Mary is partially attributed to her numerous love affairs, which she felt were only spurred on by the war. Wesley (pictured above) never had any problems with finding a suitor. When she finally decided to settle down, she chose a wealthy young man, Charles Eady. Though there may have been a lack of chemistry between the two, Wesley never found herself without transportation. “He lent me his car when I needed it,” she explained. “He was always around, always agreeable.”

    In 1944, Wesley fell in love with Eric Siepmann, a fellow writer, and divorced Eady the following year. However, marrying Siepmann would prove difficult—as he already was in general. Siepmann filed for divorce from his wife, Phyllis, but Phyllis proceeded to stalk Siepmann and Wesley and waged a “slanderous letter-writing campaign” that ended up getting Siepmann fired from several jobs.

    While Wesley was devastated by Siepmann’s intentional drug overdose in 1969 and never married again, she still maintained her love of attractive men. “Have you any idea of the pleasure of lying in bed for six months, talking about yourself to a very intelligent man?” Wesley said regarding spending her last year of life with her biographer. “My deepest regret was that I was too old . . . to take him into bed with me." 

    #4: Unique Home Goods

    Coffee Table Coffin

    In the final years of her life, Wesley ordered her own coffin to be made—finished in red Chinese lacquer—and went on to use it as a coffee table before it became her final resting place.

    Wesley died in 2002 at the age of ninety. Her final words echoed her truly lighthearted view of life: “Oh, bugger.”

    Learn even more about Mary Wesley and her new-to-ebooks: http://www.openroadmedia.com/mary-wesley

     



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    It was supposed to be Ten Reasons.

    I tried. I really did. I just couldn’t get the list that short.

    Actually, I have mixed feelings about these lists. I don’t believe there’s any good reason for science fiction (or anything) created by women to be treated differently than sci-fi by men. If a book (or movie, or short story, or comic, whatever) is good, then it’s good. If it’s not, it’s not. The identity of the author shouldn’t matter, and if it weren’t for the people who keep saying “I don’t read books by women,” or “women don’t write (or read) science fiction,” it might not.  

    And do not get me started on that whole “fake geek girls” riff.
        
    Sci-fi as we know it has been written around the world for at least two hundred years. So much of it is created by women that narrowing the list down to ten (or thirteen) titles was a challenge I was never going to be able to handle alone. So, I reached out across the Internet for answers, especially into the places where I knew I’d find authors, editors, readers, and my fellow geeks.

    Here’s what the Internet said back. Keep in mind, this is not a complete list. In fact, this is barely the beginning.

    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. We’re beginning at the beginning. This is widely acknowledged as the first sci-fi novel, and it’s a story that has been embedded in pop culture for two hundred years.

    Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Written in the 1930s, this is a hilarious send-up of English pastoral and gothic novels, and worth reading for that alone. It is also, very definitely but subtly, science fiction.

    NorthwestSmith by C. L. Moore. This is actually an anthology. Moore was one of the most prolific writers of sci-fi’s pulp days back in the 1930 and ’40s. If you liked Joss Whedon’s cult hit Firefly, or Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, you’ll like Northwest Smith. “Shambleau” remains one of the world’s ickiest vampire stories.

    The Warrior’s Apprenticeby Lois McMaster Bujold. Sci-fi adventure that skillfully blends action, humor, and romance. If this list were arranged by number of Internet votes, Bujold would have been duking it out with Butler, Shelley, and Le Guin for top slot.

    The Female Man by Joanna Russ. Writing during what was called the “new wave” period of SF, which rode the social changes of the 1960s and ’70s, Joanna Russ was one of the most dangerous and challenging of women sci-fi authors. This is a direct challenge to gender roles and perceptions wrapped in Russ’s smooth prose.

    A Thousand Wordsfor Stranger by Julie Czerneda. Czerneda is fun. Her work has scope, excitement, brilliance, and engaging characters.

    The Handmaid’s Tale
    by Margaret Atwood. This book is a well-thought-out, beautifully crafted nightmare. I quote it regularly.

    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I was given this book by my mother and I read it to my son. It not only holds up, it remains exciting, illuminating, and scary.

    The Hunger Games
    by Suzanne Collins. Not only is this a good story, it’s a powerful reason for the renaissance happening in sci-fi right now, especially on the YA shelves.

    Parable of the Sowerby Octavia E. Butler. Butler was (and is) a hugely influential African American author with a brilliant writing style and an unrivalled ability to imagine the way her futures (and her pasts) shaped the lives of her characters. Sower is what I’d call a slow-dystopia novel. Civilization has collapsed, is collapsing, but it is also being reimagined and rebuilt.

    Fullmetal Alchemistby Hiromu Arakawa. This isn’t a novel, it’s a manga, and an anime series (actually, several anime series plus video games). It’s also some of the best, most engaging sci-fi you’re ever going to read.

    The Empire Strikes Back by Leigh Brackett. Obviously not a novel. But, it is widely considered the best of the movies to date, and the brain behind much of that brilliance was the veteran female SF author and scriptwriter.

    The Lathe of Heaven
    by Ursula K. Le Guin. I could have filled this list exclusively with Le Guin titles. I’m going with this one, because it’s a book I give to people who think they don’t like sci-fi. It’s the story of a man whose dreams shape reality, and the psychiatrist who figures that out.

    Some honorable mentions: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm, Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre, Shattered by Robin Wasserman, Finity’s End by C. J. Cherryh, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Grass by Sheri Tepper, Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress, The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

    Enjoy.

    Sarah Zettel is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, and young adult novels.

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    Barcelona to Seattle

    Barbara Wilson is the pen name of Barbara Sjoholm, a writer, editor, teacher, and translator of Norwegian and Danish books. Her written works range from fiction and essays to memoirs and travel books. She has published two series featuring lesbian detectives: the award-winning Cassandra Reilly Mysteries and the Pam Nilsen Mysteries, all of which are now available as ebooks!

    We first meet professional translator Cassandra Reilly in Gaudí Afternoon. She is living in London when she receives a frantic phone call from a woman named Frankie Stevens who needs help tracking down her missing husband—in Barcelona. Not one to turn down an adventure—especially when it’s free—Cassandra accepts the request and packs her bags for Spain. Once there, however, the part-time sleuth ends up following leads that only spur more questions, and it becomes apparent that Frankie Stevens is not as innocent as she appears.

    Gaudi AfternoonIn addition to being a great read, Gaudí Afternoonhas won a Lambda Literary Award and a Crime Writers’ Association Award and was adapted into a 2001 film starring Juliette Lewis and Lili Taylor. The rest of the series hops all over the globe: Trouble in Transylvania takes Cassandra deep into the history and folklore of Romania (vampires anyone?); The Death of a Much-Travelled Woman chronicles her travels from Iceland to Maui and stops in between; and The Case of the Orphaned Bassoonists finds the detective tackling two mysteries in Italy—the case of a missing antique bassoon and another involving the orphaned bassoonists of eighteenth-century Venice. Sisters of the Road

    Wilson’s first mystery series, starting with Murder in the Collective, features Seattle-based printer and part-time sleuth Pam Nilsen. After the death of her parents, Pam transforms the family business, Best Printing, into a print collective for artists and activists. During preparation for a merger with another local printing company, a string of violent acts—including the murder of a Best Printing employee—sets a dangerous mystery into motion. Pam must find out who is trying to prevent the merger before more blood is shed.

    The follow-up novel, Sisters of the Road, sends Pam south to Portland, Oregon, in search of a missing teen prostitute who is in serious danger after witnessing a murder—all this while soothing her own broken heart.

    And in the gripping final installment, The Dog Collar Murders, our detective investigates the gruesome strangling of an anti-pornography activist.

    Explore a different side of mystery fiction with these whip-smart twentieth-century sleuths!


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    Giulia Ottaviano

    When I first arrived in Milano I was thirteen, it was August, and I remember my shoes being stuck to the melting asphalt, and the pungent smell of polluted air. The streets were empty, and the town seemed to me bigger than every city I had ever seen. I loved it: Milano was promising me a new life, new friends, more opportunities.


    In the following years some of my expectations were demolished by reality and soon I began to understand that Milano—in good times as in bad times—was the impeccable mirror of my country: a country now collapsing.

    Eugenia, the main character, grew up in the same city as I did, and attended the same schools during the same economic and moral crisis. She—the only child of an entrepreneur and a retired model—is basically frivolous and materialistic: exactly as Milano is often depicted. Her father has built an empire on lies and frauds. Is Eugenia unaware of all this or does she simply not want to think about it?

    In Love Will Tear You Apart I gave her a second chance. She is frivolous, but nevertheless a victim of the moral crisis of our times.

    The real-life inspiration of this book is the generation to which we both belong, which is not only bossed by the past choices and present mistakes of our parents. Even more, it is dominated by a general lack of ethic and courage, as is Eugenia at the beginning of the novel.

    The Italy that I know is not anymore just the open-air museum or the dolce vita cliché; and so Milano is not only fashion, design, expensive shops. That’s why I am thrilled to see what my foreign readers will think of this Italian racconto, and if they’ll find a connection between Italy and the USA today. Eugenia, from my point of view, could have been an American girl, too . . .

     -- Giulia Ottaviano, author of Love Will Tear You Apart



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    In honor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), our weekly science fiction blog series will be turned into SciFiWriMo for the rest of November. Below, are some literary pearls of wisdom from some acclaimed Science Fiction writers!

    a) “I think it was C. S. Lewis who said, ‘Write the kind of story you would like to read.’ After you’ve finished writing whatever the work is, ask yourself, ‘Would I love this if I read it, not knowing who the author is?’ Answer honestly. If yes, you’re already halfway there. Now go back and rewrite it till it’s gold.” —Jonathan Carroll

    b) “Aim to have a very clear vision of the scene after the one you’re writing. If you focus on that, the current scene will be brisker and get to a better conclusion.” —Ian R. MacLeod

    c) “In each scene invoke at least three of the five senses, in ways that expand our vicarious experience.”—Tim Powers

    d) “Keep writing. There’s nothing else to do and no other way to finish. Doesn’t matter if it’s no good. You can always edit it later and make it better, but you can’t make it better if it doesn’t exist.” —Sarah Zettel

    e) “Finish something!” —Ian McDonald

                                                                     

     


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    Compliments of a FriendSusan Isaacs began her career working in mysteries: the mystery of adolescent romance, that is. Her first writing job was giving advice to lovelorn teens for Seventeen magazine. Isaacs has since written critically acclaimed mystery novels, screenplays, and nonfiction pieces. Her most popular work is Compromising Positions, the first in a series featuring the incomparable suburban housewife turned sleuth Judith Singer.

    When Isaacs became a mother, she chose to leave her position at Seventeen to be home with her children. Like her plucky protagonist, however, she rejected the typical suburban housewife routine. Instead, she began writing fiction and ultimately produced twelve New York Times bestsellers.

    Amateur detective Judith Singer returns for her next case in Isaacs’s Compliments of a Friend. She has already investigated the murder of local dentist Dr. Fleckstein in Compromising Positions, and the disappearance of big-city transplant Courtney Logan in Long Time No See. Just when Long Island seems safe again, suburbia presents Judith with her most bizarre mystery yet.

    In Compliments of a Friend, powerful businesswoman Vanessa Giddings falls into a coma while shopping for designer shoes at Bloomingdale’s, and dies. The official report indicates it was an act of suicide by drug overdose. But detective and local history professor Judith Singer suspects otherwise. She launches her own investigation, tracking the local gossip and picking up clues about Vanessa’s life, which was not quite as it appeared.

    Was it really suicide? Could there be foul play? Follow Judith Singer into the suburban jungle of Long Island to find out!


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