Saturday, December 5, 2020
Scott D. Parker
As of today, we have only twenty days until Christmas. Shopping will definitely look different this year. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been ordering many if not most gifts online. Some of the mad rush as we count down the days until the 25th will shift.
In our entryway, we have an Advent calendar. Ours is a homemade one where each day, we get to place an ornament on the tree. There are a myriad of other Advent calendars: Legos, chocolate, wine, you name it.
One of the most unique focuses on stories. Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have, for the second year in a row, created an Advent calendar type project. Truth is, it started on Thanksgiving day and extends to New Year’s Day, but all that means is extra stories. Rusch and Smith curated lots of stories, sifting out the best ones.
After you sign up via Kickstarter at the level of your choice, you’ll get an email every day. In the email, Rusch writes an introduction and then gives you a BookFunnel link. From there, you can download the story onto the device of your choice. I use my Kobo reader and it works seamlessly.
So, if you are in the mood to get a story a day this Christmas season, head on over to the webpage and sign up. It’ll make each day of this month fly by.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Brooklyn, where I live, is not bad when it comes to having independent bookstores, at least by today's diminished standards. I have a few that by bike I can reach in ten to fifteen minutes. Earlier this year, I was happy to see that in downtown Brooklyn, in a mixed-use complex called Citypoint where there are stores, bars, lots of eating places, a Trader Joe's, and an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, a new large indie bookstore was being readied for opening. This store is McNally Jackson Books, of which there are four in New York City, two in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn. Before the pandemic hit, I went to Citypoint, for a bite or a drink or a movie, all the time, and when I saw that an indie bookstore I know and like was coming there, I was excited. Like, I suppose, nearly everyone, I buy a large number of my books from Amazon, and I promised myself that I'd frequent this McNally Jackson store -- near me, no excuse not to go often -- on a regular basis.
The long-awaited opening happened the first week in March, but before I even had a chance to stop by, the coronavirus lockdown went into effect and the store had to close. It was open then for 11 days. The bookseller's other three locations were able to reopen in June, when the lockdown eased, but this particular store at Citypoint, because it is in a mall, did not get clearance to open. That didn't happen until September, and I didn't realize the store had reopened until I swung by Citypoint several weeks after that. Like most people I know, I don't go out much these days.Well, a couple Saturdays ago, I finally bicycled over to the new location, and as soon as I stepped inside, I felt both at home and regretful. At home because it's a lovely and spacious place, lined wall to wall, floor to floor, with books, and regretful because I don't make the effort to go to independent bookstores often enough.
I realized almost at once how much I miss going to bookstores frequently and just doing the one thing you cannot do through Amazon in a way that's comparable: browsing. Spending an hour or two in a store, flipping through any number of books, finding a book you didn't know about and getting lost in it for awhile, is something I used to do so often and now, not so much. And this goes back to before the pandemic, my falling out of the bookstore going habit. I can't blame it all on Amazon either, because Amazon has been around for years and I used to go to bookstores a lot well after Amazon came on the scene. I'm not sure why I go to bookstores less than I used to; if I had to pick a single reason, I'd say it's because I have so many unread books at home, I think to myself why go to a store to pick up yet another book (unless it's a book I'm going to buy and know I'm going to read immediately).
Regardless of the reason, I had a wonderful time in McNally Jackson that Saturday and spent a good hour and a half there. I actually took my time and browsed. No need for something I so essentially enjoy to feel like a retro experience, but it did, a little bit, though that's something I can change by going more. And I intend to. We all know how much indie bookstores like this need our support. The store was nearly empty the whole time I was there, and I couldn't help but wonder what business is like. The store is in what should be a good location, but because of the pandemic, one worries. I hope very much the location can make it.
Did I buy anything, or only browse? I bought something, of course. Only one book for now, because, as I said, with far too many unread books at home...
The Promise, the final work, years in the making, by the great Argentinian writer Silvina Ocampo. This was plucked from the Latin American and Caribbean fiction section, where I could camp for months and months and thumb through the books if someone brought me food and water. So much more to explore from there (I mean that one section, not to mention other sections), and that exploration will continue next time.
As I said after paying at the register, though in a friendly, not a Terminator, voice, "I'll be back."
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Fatal Divisions is here. The fourth book in my Sheriff Hank Worth series comes out Jan. 5, 2021, and I just got my copies. There really is nothing like opening a box and seeing the actual physical book.
Here's what's on the inside flap, which was by far the hardest part to write of the whole process. It's distilling a year of work into three paragraphs—so difficult every time. This one took a lot of back and forth with my editor Carl Smith, but I think we nailed it.
Hank Worth has always been committed to his job as Branson
sheriff, so getting him to take a break is difficult. But to everyone's
surprise he agrees to take time off after a grueling case and visit a friend in
Columbia, Missouri, leaving Chief Deputy Sheila Turley in charge. She quickly
launches reforms that create an uproar, and things deteriorate even further
when an elderly man is found brutally murdered in his home.
As Sheila struggles for control of the investigation and her insubordinate deputies, Hank is not relaxing as promised. His Aunt Fin is worried her husband is responsible for the disappearance of one of his employees, and Hank agrees to investigate.
The search for the missing woman leads to a tangle of deceit that Hank is determined to unravel . . . no matter the impact on his family.
I've never had a book come out at this time of year, so here's my pitch: pre-ordering it for someone you love would make a fabulous
Christmas or Hanukkah gift! If you can, consider ordering from an independent bookstore like Face in a Book or Book Carnival. You can also order through Indiebound, or Amazon or Barnes & Noble.