My First Book Published

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On  March 1, 2013, my middle grade novel, “The Dragons of Graham,” was published by The Wives of Bath Press (www.thewivesofbath.com).

This is the story of Katie and her friends, who are starting the sixth grade at Graham Middle School. They discover that middle school was not quite what they expected…and by the way, the school is infested with dragons.

“Who knew dragons were so demanding? All the dragons at Graham want something. The band dragon is hoarding silver. The dragon in the girls’ locker room wants more water, and the library dragon wants his own library card. One even wants her sister, Rosie, as a snack. Blech!

Katie has to learn how to navigate the halls of her new middle school, deal with the populars, and try not to lose her best friend, Maia, all while figuring out how to satisfy the members of a mythical race she didn’t even know existed.”

“The Dragons of Graham” is available in print from Amazon.com and as an ebook for the Kindle and the Nook!

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Joyce Carol Oates

“First, you hope for an eventful life. Then, you hope for an uneventful life.” Joyce Carol Oates.

I think it may be too late for that.

A towering bastion of the American literary scene, Joyce Carol Oates has already had an eventful life. She had written more than 50 novels, hundreds of short stories, play, memoirs and other non-fiction pieces. She has been heaped with acclaim of all sorts.

She’s about to release a new novel, The Accursed. A work of gothic horror and psychological insight, this historical novel set in Princeton at the turn of the twentieth century is peopled by the famous and the cursed.

She will speaking at Kepler’s in Menlo Park on Wednesday, March 6th at 7:30pm.

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Four writers, four books, four chances

Have you read all the books of the Hunger Games, Twilight, and Beautiful Creatures? Are you looking for something new? Well, four Seattle authors with YA books are coming to the Bay Area and they’d like to tell you all about their great books. Between the zombies, teen angels, eco-apocalypses and covert government terror, there is sure to be something you’ll enjoy!

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Juvenile delinquents deal with zombie counselors in The Infects by Sean Beaudoin.

The Lost Code, Book One of the Atlanteans, by Kevin Emerson is set in a post-apocalyptic earth, ravaged by global climate change.

Revived, by Cat Patrick, focuses on life and death and a covert government program testing a drug called Revive.

Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough, is a hilarious look at a girl with a voice in her head, and a trainee guardian angel, in heaven’s soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens.

You can find them at Kepler’s in Menlo Park on Thursday, Feb 28 at 7:30pm, Hicklebees in San Jose on Friday, March 1st at 3pm, and at Books Inc in the Marina(SF) at 6:30pm (also March 1) and at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley on Saturday, March 2 at 1pm.

New Year’s Reading List

I usually get books for Christmas and then I have lots of books to look forward to reading. This year, I didn’t get any, but I still have a list of books I want to read. I’d love to hear if you have any on your “to be read” list!

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The first one on my list is a debut, coming-of-age novel by Lisa O’Donnell, a Scottish screenwriter living in LA. “The Death of Bees” sucked me in from the first few pages. Two young sisters try to cope with the death of their parents. They bury the bodies in the back yard and try to avoid the notice of the authorities at least until the older girl, Marnie, turns 16, and is legally able to take care of her sister, Nelly. The voices of the characters are very compelling. Here, Marnie talks about her sister.

“Truth is Nelly’s a wee bit touched, not retarded or anything, just different. She doesn’t have many friends, she doesn’t laugh much and when you talk to her about something serious, she gets really quiet, likes she’s taking it in and then rearranging it in her head. I don’t know how she arranges it, I just know its different from how I might arrange it. She also takes things very literally, so you have to be careful what you say. For instance, if I said ‘You’re fucking mental,’ she’d say something like ‘I can assure you, Marnie, one is perfectly sane!’ I don’t know why she’s not dead to be honest. You can’t talk like that, not in Maryhill.”

I felt for the girls from the beginning and there were enough stray, mysterious comments to keep me turning the pages.

Even better, Lisa O’Donnell is coming to speak in Palo Alto this weekend! Saturday, January 12, you can see her at the Palo Alto Library, Downtown branch at 3pm. 270 Forest Avenue, Palo Alto.

The World Series is NOW!

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I watched the San Francisco Giants, my local team, win the first game of the 2012 World Series last night and I was ecstatic. There are few things more compelling than the games of October: the scent of fall in the air, the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bat.

Baseball fiction is a special experience for me, as well. I have several favorite baseball books on my shelves and I wanted to share a few with you. I know there are many more, so please recommend new ones in the comments.

An Old Favorite: “It I Never Get Back” by Darryl Brock, 1989

“Sam Fowler is taking a modern-day Amtrak home to San Francisco when an unscheduled stop somewhere west of Cleveland gives him the opportunity to stretch his legs. Instead, Sam finds that time has stretched and mysteriously transported him back to 1869.”

A veritable field of dreams, this book takes us back to the Cincinnati Red Stockings and lets us see the beginnings of baseball. I loved the old world charm of the story and the vivid characters and of course, the baseball.

A Real Baseball Story: “Wait Til Next Year” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, 1997

“Set in the suburbs of New York in the 1950’s, this is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s touching memoir of growing up in love with her family and baseball. She recreates the postwar era, when the corner store was a place to share stories and neighborhoods were equally divided between Dodger, Giant and Yankee fans.”

For Goodwin, it was all about the Dodgers. This memoir shows use her family through the lens of baseball and does it in a compelling and touching way. She writes “I was not just Doris Helen Kearns, but a Catholic, a resident of Southard Avenue, a Dodger fan, a Rockville Centre girl. Everything was wonderfully in order. But things would soon change, and when they did, I, too, would be different.” The book also has a number of photographs that help us re-live her story.

A Modern Miracle: “Money Ball” by Michael Lewis, 2011

In 2002, Billy Beane, the A’s manager, took a decidedly different path from traditional baseball. Short on funds, he used a different view of baseball statistics to sign the best skills he could buy on a limited budget. The ragtag collection of players were not ones that any pro scout would give a strong vote for, but together, they created a winning team.

Micheal Lewis writes so compellingly about business and finance, that he can find the magic in the numbers here. Baseball statistics, an often arcane and mystical science, yields up something amazing and the rests unfold as the season progresses. I really enjoyed rooting for this team and understanding what would go on to change the game of baseball.

Most Recently read: “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach, 2011

“At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big-league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.”

This book involves the mystique of baseball, in the form of Owen Dunne’s reverence for his ‘bible,’ “The Art of Fielding” by the fictional Aparicio Rodriguez. The philosophy that Owen finds in the book is at turns simple (“147. Throw with the legs.”) and majestic (“The true fielder lets the path of the ball become his own path, thereby comprehending the ball and dissipating the self, which is the source of all suffering and poor defense.”) The stories of the five main characters are all coming of age  experiences, regardless of their ages.