Let’s Talk Ink

4700093127_a81b957cd8_bI don’t mean ink on paper. I mean ink on skin…tattoos. They are hot right now. I think it’s funny how many heroes have tattoos, but I don’t find a lot of heroines with tattoos. At least not as many as I’d like.

Why do I bring this up? Because I love tattoos. I have lots of them, and I’m getting a full “sleeve” this weekend on my calf. So I’ve been thinking, why aren’t there more heroines with tattoos? Is it because tatted up women still aren’t as mainstream as men? Since I write a lot of romance, I wonder if it’s because the ideal heroine is still very clean cut, not the bad girl of romance. We love the bad guys, but not so much the girls.

Even in paranormal, where I think there are more women with tattoos, I 4391428993_b701849253_odon’t think they are as prominent as they could be. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe not.
What are your thoughts on women with tattoos? Do you read about them? Would it bother you if the heroine was inked from head to toe?

Curiosity killed the cat and all that. Just for fun, share your ink in the comments if you want.

Here’s one of mine!

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Before I leave…Authors After Dark (August 12-16th) has opened up more spots for authors. If you want to go to a conference with multiple genres to read and authors to meet that’s a whole lot of fun this is a great opportunity. Readers…I highly recommend it! Authors…same goes! Check out more here.

Character Appearances: To Specify, or Not To Specify?

I’m a extremely visual reader and writer, which means that I picture very vividly the characters that I’m either reading or writing about. Ask me to share my vision of a specific character, and, even if I didn’t invent her, I will be able to describe her physical features in great detail, as I imagine them. If I were a better artist, I’m sure I could even draw them from my head.

Unfortunately, my idea of what a character looks like doesn’t always line up with what the author intended. Last week, I read a YA novel where the male love interest was described very early on as “tall and olive skinned, with dark hair.” Not super specific, but clear enough. However, the author doesn’t refer to his specific features at all throughout the rest of the book, describing the character only as “beautiful,” or occasionally, “gorgeous.” This lack of specificity gave my forgetful brain the leeway to imagine him quite differently than the original description. I pictured him with golden tan skin and waving chestnut hair.

I imagined him like this. SO SUE ME.

Which is fine. It’s my brain. But when I picked up the sequel and the author reiterated how the character actually looked, I was in for a shock. “He looks like what?” I said, while combing furiously through the first book for the original description.

Describing characters is something every writer does differently. Some authors go into great detail, enumerating freckles and glints of green in hazel eyes and lopsided smiles and crooked noses. Other authors choose to describe their characters very broadly, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks with their own imaginations. Each method has its merits, but also its drawbacks.

Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, sketched her protagonist Bella’s appearance, but didn’t get into specifics. In an interview, she explained that she “left out a detailed description of Bella in the book so that the reader could more easily step into her shoes.” By leaving a character’s appearance open to interpretation, she hoped to make her more relatable to readers.

But this method can have a darker side. Many of you will remember the disturbing furor that arose when a young black actress was cast as Rue in the movie version of The Hunger Games. The author, Suzanne Collins, describes the fragile 12-year-old in the books as having “dark brown skin and eyes.” While this may seem explicit to some, the broadness of the description resulted in many readers whitewashing an ethnically diverse character. Similarly, while Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame has been universally portrayed as a young white woman, Rowling only ever described Hermione as having bushy brown hair, brown eyes, and prominent front teeth. There is nothing to say Hermione isn’t a woman of color, yet everyone assumes she must be white.

Personally, I prefer specific descriptions. When reading, every nugget of information about a character’s appearance helps me flesh out the imaginary person in my head. And when writing, I want my readers to be able to clearly see the characters I’ve invented.

To a certain extent, everyone’s vision of fictional characters will always be different than the person who authored them. But deciding to describe every feature of a character or electing instead to broadly sketch a general appearance can have ramifications on how your readers ultimately interact with your fictional world.

Do you prefer specificity in your reading/writing? Or do you prefer to imagine the characters without relying on the author’s description? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

These are a Few of My Favorite Links

This is what happens when you let me near Photoshop.
This is what happens when you let me near Photoshop.

Because I can’t think of anything else to write about today, I thought I’d share some links for readers and writers that I’ve come across that I think are helpful. Hope you like them!

Writers

  • 52 Things Ideas for Writers for 2015 – Really cool HuffPo article with some great ideas for promoting your yourself or your work or just trying something new. I’m going to print out this list, cross off what I’ve already done and see what I can accomplish in the next year.
  • Words to Eliminate from Your Writing – A great blog post from Lauren Speiller about words that you should look for in your MS and delete. Between her list and the comments, it’s pretty darn comprehensive.
  • Weather Throughout History – If you write historical fiction based in Britain or are just a history fan, this is a great resource to learn what the weather would have been like anytime from 12000 BC to the present. History geeks like me LOVE sites like this.
  • History of Household Objects – Here’s another one for the history fans. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this site. If you’ve ever wondered, “How did they [insert household chore here] before modern technology,” this site will explain it.
  • Margie Lawson’s Writer’s Academy – I just recently started becoming familiar with Margie Lawson’s courses, but I love what I’ve seen so far. I’m going to start in on four courses on editing, emotions and POV today. She has online classes as well as lecture packets you can order from previous classes.

Readers

  • NetGalley – Everyone in the world probably already knows about this, but I just found it. Publishers put advanced review copies here to get reviews from book bloggers, groups, media, etc. I have a little credibility because I review for a few well-known organizations, but I’m still not expecting to get ARCs from the big publishers, who tend to prefer bloggers with huge followings.
  • Trinity College in 360  – The Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin is my idea of heaven. I had no idea this existed before we went to see the Book of Kells a few years ago when I was there on business. This humongous library is at the end of the tour. I seriously cried it was so beautiful. The panoramic tour (be forewarned, the turning may make you dizzy) is nothing compared to being there, but since I can’t hop across the pond all the time, I’ll take it!
  • Choose Your Own Profanity Generator – If you are a fan of Chuck Wendig, you know he’s one of the most creative writers out there when it comes to cussing. Just in case you need a laugh, I wanted to include this one. It has given me hours of giggles. (And if you haven’t read his Miriam Black series, you are missing out. Go, read!)

What are your thoughts on these? Are there any others you’d suggest?

Too. Many. Books.

So this is a post about books. Specifically, buying books. Actually, it’s about buying more books than any one human could read in their lifetime. Or my lifetime, as it were.

See, the other morning, this was my status update on Facebook:

Must stop buying books FB

In addition to the ‘likes’, there were 20-some comments, mostly people commiserating with me. I posted that status after I saw a link from an author I like. He’d published a Christmas story on Amazon, and it was FREE for a limited time. (Jump HERE to see if “Matches” is still free.)  Then I saw another FB post, about another book that’s been sitting on my Amazon wish list. The author had dropped the price to $0.99, and the sample was great, so of course…

(Jump HERE to see if Miss Guided is still $0.99)

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My bedroom bookshelf. It’s short, so I stack ’em double.

In the space of ten minutes, I’d added two more books to my stacks. And seriously, I have stacks. Just look at these pictures! We – I’m including my husband and teenagers in this – have more books than any four people ought to.

And though I mentioned the rest of the family, I think it’s safe to say I deserve most of the blame. There are too many to count hard copy books squirreled away here at Chez Rancourt, and when I tried to count our Kindle books, I lost track at about 400. I’ve probably read half, maybe 60% of the books in our Amazon cloud. I also usually have a couple books checked out from the library, and download books from Netgalley, too.

I have a problem.

One wall in the basement. There are two more bookcases, and yeah, these are stacked double too.
One wall in the basement. There are two more bookcases, and yeah, these are stacked double too.

It’s just so easy. Every day I one-click intriguing links on Facebook or fascinating tweets on Twitter.  There are authors who make me hyperventilate when I know they’ve got something new coming out. I love seeing what my friends are working on, and nothing gets me more excited than telling someone about an author they haven’t read before, to get them to one-click the same way I did…or do.

Because I do. All the time.

Recently I told a friend at work – who I know is a voracious reader – about The Magpie Lord, the first book in a fantastic trilogy. She sounded interested, and I asked her when she’d be back to work. I might have snickered a bit, too. She told me, and asked why I was laughing.

“I just wanted to see if you’d have time to read all three before I see you again.”

She had.

All three.

Made. My. Night.

In fact my biggest dissatisfaction with ebooks is that I can’t lend them to people the way I used to share paperbacks. I know it’s possible, but not for every book, and it’s not nearly as easy as tossing a  paperback in my purse. I have (had?) a couple copies of Dead Until Dark just for the purpose of lending them out, and have lost track of the number of people who’ve fallen in love with Sookie’s world because of me.

Well, I helped anyway.

So as we’re heading in to the heart of the holiday season, know that I’m the easiest one on your shopping list. Amazon gift card, please. Or a gift certificate to ARe, or one to iBooks, or Kobo, or…

Leave me a comment if you share my one-click addiction. It’s always more fun with friends!

Peace,
Liv

Oh, and one more thing…while you’re in the one-click mood, my holiday story The Santa Drag is $0.99 on Amazon. Jump HERE to check it out!

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Book Lovers’ Heaven

After Sirens Con, a big group of us went to Powell’s Books in Portland, which turned out to be heaven on earth. I’d never been before, and it was so hyped that I just couldn’t conceive of what it would be like. And then…

powells

It was freaking awesome. I didn’t actually manage to take any photos in the store (the first time, anyway—we’ll get to that!) because I was running around going, “Look at this! Nooo, look at this! I have to buy this! No, I need to buy THIS.”

 

Brian's books!
Brian’s books!

I had a list, you see. Every time someone mentioned a book that sounded interesting, I wrote it down in a little notebook I carry just for random book recommendations, sudden plot ideas, and spontaneous note-taking. The list was… well, it was long. Especially when I told my husband that I wanted to start venturing into sci-fi (specifically sci-fi written by women or with female main characters) and the list suddenly doubled.

It got longer when it occurred to me that Powell’s would probably have a giant manga section (which it did, incidentally). If I’d thought to add cookbooks, historical biographies, or knitting books, the list probably would have been long enough to make Christmas tinsel out of.

My head just about exploded from excitement.

Our group swarmed the sci-fi/fantasy section, making recommendations, searching for used copies of books several of us wanted, generally having a righteous book party. It was, no joke, one of the coolest afternoons of my life.

Emmie's purchases. See mine below!
Emmie’s books!

For our first round of purchases, Spouse and I kept it under control. Ish. We bought mostly used books, we (almost) kept it to things we knew we wanted and wouldn’t find elsewhere, like odd manga or used paperbacks, and we tried to limit our purchases so the shipping cost wouldn’t double the total money spent. I culled a few titles I knew I could get elsewhere, and that was it.

We checked out, we gave the nice clerk our address, and we told our books farewell, knowing we’d meet again in Indiana. But then… I felt oddly bereft. I wanted to cuddle and caress my new books, to bond with new characters, to fall in love with new writers. I had a new book idea, and I wanted to read some sci-fi IMMEDIATELY, not X-number of days after we got home.

On our final day in Portland, we just magically happened to be near Powells again. (Totally an accident, by the way. Yeah. *shifty eyes*) And look what happened:

Oops. These books just crawled into my basket!
Oops. These books just crawled into my basket!

We didn’t ship these. In fact, we may have had to rearrange our suitcase twice to get these (and the others we bought that day) into our luggage without resorting to another checked bag. Cordelia’s Honor actually made it into my carry-on, and when I fell asleep on the plane, Spouse was rude enough to tug it out of my unconscious grip and spend a 45 minutes reading MY book. The nerve.

My souvenirs from Portland were almost all books, and I have no regrets. To spend an afternoon with other writers and book lovers, talking books, holding books, sniffing books, loving books, was to spend a tiny part of my mortal life in heaven. Look at all the adventures we’ll now share, all the discussions we’ll have about all these titles. Look at all these huge worlds and wonderful people, flattened on the page but alive in our imaginations.

Look at my heavens.

The books that made it home with me.
The books that made it home with me.

All Hallow’s Read

Happy October one and all! This is one of my favorite month’s of the year. I just love the start of the holiday season. I know people get miffed when they see decorations popping up at stores “too early”, but not me. Me, I like the idea of stretching Halloween and Samhain and Christmas and Winter Solstice as far as possible. I mean, we’re always told we should keep the holiday spirit in our hearts all year long, right?

all-hallows-read12Anyway. A few years ago the awesome Neil Gaiman started a new campaign called All Hallow’s Read. It is the concept of passing out books on Halloween to encourage reading and literacy. Now, don’t go getting your knickers in a twist, it isn’t the idea of giving out books instead of candy, because no one wants their house to be egged, just the idea of doing it as well. The idea is to give out Halloween-ish books, but really, giving any book is good, you know?

I decided to join in on the fun two Halloweens ago in 2012. I bought so many books in a variety of age ranges. I had picture books and board books for tiny tots, I had short chapter books for small children and even had a dearth of Fear Street and Forest of Hands and Teeth for the occasional teenager I knew would show up. And of course I had copies of Coraline to pay homage to Mr. Gaiman.

I also had goody bags to pass out along with the books. I was ready. I was gonna participate! But I totally sucked at it. Offering books to kids expecting candy seemed so strange to me that first year. I think I gave out five books in all. I don’t know why I got so tongue tied over it. I was so disappointed in myself.

So the year went by and I still had all these books, so many books. I think I had somewhere around fifty books total. Maybe just forty five. Whatever. I had a lot of books. I had kept them all year on a shelf, waiting for the next Halloween. So, I set them out, made new goody bags and told myself I was going to do better.

photo-31And boy did I. Once I got into the habit of saying, “I’m also giving out books, would you like one?!” it got easier and easier to do. So, by the end of the night I had seven books left over – five picture books and two Goosebumps. Not too shabby. I really thought the teens would be the hardest, but they were pretty keen too. One guy, who I’m pretty sure was close to sixteen, actually got super excited when I said, “I’ve only got Goosebumps for you.”

 

This year I’ve been going to my local comic book store a lot and I think I’m gonna give out Halloween comic books with a few others. So join the fun. Let’s help promote reading as something fun, not just something teachers make you do. Spread literacy and get kids excited. And the worst that can happen is they say “no, thank you” to the book and a tiny piece of your soul dies. But hey, the next kid is gonna say “Yes! THANK YOU!” and snatch the book out of your hand and renew your faith in humanity.

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The End of an Era: Saying Goodbye to The Hollows

Don’t worry: this little piece of nostalgia will be completely spoiler-free for the last few Rachel Morgan books. I know many of my fellow Scribes read The Hollows series and aren’t caught up yet, and I don’t want to ruin anything for them!

20140911_132354About nine years ago, give or take a few months, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I were talking on the phone and he mentioned this book he was reading. “It’s about a witch. She has a pixie for a sidekick and she lives in a church with a vampire. She has a boyfriend who was once a rat, and she accidentally made him her familiar!”

Cue record scratch. Kristin’s ears perk up. “What on earth is this book, and where can I get it?”

Turns out, it was The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison. (Being less obsessive about doing things in order, now-Husband started with the second book. I put in a request at my local library for the first one, Dead Witch Walking.)

At the time, there were only three books out. Can you imagine, Hollows fans? Three books! I fell hard for the first book and ended up buying all three. I spent my summer living and breathing The Hollows. It was a memorable summer, all on its own: my parents had moved to Wisconsin from Texas while I was abroad in Rome, and I was living in a new place, working a new job, dating a new guy, and everything in my life was topsy-turvy.

But reading about Rachel Morgan reminded me of one thing that had always been constant: I wanted to write. Kim Harrison’s books inspired me and reminded me that fantasy, my genre love, could be fresh and exciting. The Hollows were the first books to expose me to urban fantasy, if you don’t count Harry Potter as UF, which no one seems to. Witches in a modern setting, using spells to hide their freckles and bring down the bad guys? GET OUT.

In a small way, my life changed in a very big way from that moment.

Since 2005, I’ve grown and changed a lot, right alongside Rachel. I’ve made some big mistakes (maybe not quite so big as trying to let my best friend drink my blood or pissing off an entire bureaucratic coven of witches), but Rachel and I have both learned to accept our mistakes for the brave, ballsy, greedy-for-life adventures they were. And we’ve both learned that even if our lives don’t look exactly like what we expected, if they’re filled with love and laughter and doing our damnedest, then they are lives absolutely worth having.

This is actually the first series (again, aside from our friend HP) I’ve read from beginning to end, seeing the main character in myself, growing alongside her, swearing when she made the wrong choices and smiling to myself when things finally fell into place for her. I went from being younger than Rachel to being older than Rachel, but my love for her never really changed.

Book 13, The Witch With No Name, came out just a few short weeks ago.  For nine years, I’ve been reading each new installment in the series eagerly, and this would be the last time. I wanted to do it right. I looked up the tour dates and saw that Kim would be in Indianapolis the day after the book came out. I said to now-Husband, “Unless there’s a freaking tornado, we’re going!”

And we did. It was, in fact, a dark and stormy night, but it was a fantastic one all the same. The lovely Kim answered questions, bantered with her husband, and was all around lovely and totally adorable. She signed our books, smiled for pictures, and was exactly what I wanted her to be: my inspiration, still.

I’ll miss Rachel Morgan, yes, but I’ll read Kim’s next series happily, and I’ll treasure The Hollows for being the series that moved me, encouraged me, and reminded me to never stop fighting for what I believe in.

What series have shaped your lives, even in a small way? Have you ever followed a series from beginning to end?

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A Golden Age of Smut

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of smut. What do I mean by smut, you ask?

You know, erotica. Romance novels with no fade-to-black. Lady porn—though I’ll ask you not to call it that, please and thank you. I call it smut with great affection: most of the books I’ve been reading, I view as the readerly equivalent of chocolate candies. They’re delightful while they last, but they have little nutritional value. More than bubble gum, say (you know the bubble gum books), but less than the kale smoothies that we sometimes have to read for classwork.

I go through smutty reading phases every year, and this latest one can, as so many things are, be blamed on my bosom friend and fellow Scribe Emmie Mears, who recommended to me Abigail Barnette’s The Boss.

“Try it,” she said. “It’s FANTASTIC, a great alternative to 50 Shades of Abusive Assholery. It’s a D/s relationship in a similar vein, billionaire dude, not-billionaire woman. But she is independent, intelligent, has agency and real thoughts, her character is FUNNY and insightful.”

And I thought to myself, “Self… you deserve some chocolaty goodness.”

Reading erotica allows us to explore our fantasies, even if those fantasies are something we’d never want in reality, and it gives us a safe space to be purely sexual creatures in a world where women especially are often discouraged from thinking of sex as an arena for play rather than competition. In other words, chocolaty goodness allows us to fully realize our capacity for delicious taste sensations.

So I promptly bought, devoured, and enjoyed all three books in Barnette’s series. And afterward… I wanted MOAR. Goodreads lists with titles like, “Smut for the Smart,” “Taboo Reads,” “Hot List.” Buzzfeed lists. Google searches. I plunged in with wild abandon. I’ve been reading Tiffany Reisz’s The Original Sinners series, which has been on my to-read list for ages, and I may take the leap and try out The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice, writing as A. N. Roquelaure.

Yep, there’s a theme to my smut reading. We’ll get to that.

It got me thinking about how lucky we are to be reading smut right now, at this moment in publishing history. Self-publishing has lowered the gates, and the aforementioned Fifty Shades of Yawn has paved the way for festishism to go mainstream.

It’s a new era of sex positivism, and I think that’s fantastic.

I see a few contributing factors. One is the gatekeeper thing: self-publishing has allowed more people to put work out there, and women are eating it up, perpetuating a healthy cycle of growth. But let’s look at some of the factors more closely.

1. E-readers make it possible to read whatever the hell you want without judging eyes seeing a half-naked man/woman/vampire/alien on the cover. When we don’t have to worry about others think, we feel confident exploring our fantasies, even when those fantasies are taboo. Although some people worry that e-readers and digital books are eroding the quality of published work generally, I think digital reading devices are an excellent “power place” for skittish readers: they allow us to read what we want without having to make a public statement about it by brandishing a cover at whomever is sitting opposite us on the bus.

2. The 50 Shades Phenomenon (arguably an offshoot of the Twilight phenomenon) has proved that women (and men!) want to read loving, graphic, sex-positive stories about female characters who aren’t afraid to own their own sexual needs and desires. While the publishing industry made 50 Shades a financial juggernaut, women are the ones who responded to what it offered: it wouldn’t have made umpty-million dollars without an eager audience. And the fanfic that launched a thousand similar novels, despite its own less-than-great quality, is in itself a fantastic thing because it opened the door to legitimizing that audience’s desires.

3. The resultant glut of erotica on the market in the wake of 50 Shades has provided for audiences a veritable smorgasbord of fetishes, fantasies, and filth. (Sorry, I had to.) Once publishers and writers realized audiences wanted these types of work, the market exploded with new material. While some might point out that it’s difficult to choose among these many options—the chocolatey goodness is spread too thin, if you will—I say it’s great because there’s something for everyone, and that helps to normalize sexual desires someone might otherwise be reluctant to explore. Because of the popularity of the genre, I’ve been able to find a number of D/s stories that are well-written and portray well-rounded individuals in healthy (and occasionally troubled) relationships. And because it’s fiction, just words on a page, the threat levels are lower than they would be in life or even pornography.

4. Finally, the work of previous generations of writers and educators has culminated in a new generation of women (writers AND readers) who are able to partake of these new resources with discernment and creative synthesis. Women of my age have grown up in an environment that says we can do and be whatever we want, even if we have to fight to make it happen. Because of a previous generation’s work, we’re mentally equipped (empowered, if you wish) to own our desires and our choices. We recognize that those choices help to shape the world when we vote with our dollars or our vocal support. Further, though, we’ve cultivated in ourselves a capacity to separate our fantasies from our politics: just because a given woman wants to be dominated in the bedroom, it doesn’t mean she wants to be submissive in life.

All combined, these things have added up to a market for erotica that means we can pick and choose literary treats that suit our tastes, feel safe reading them, and explore our sexuality in a healthy way.

What do you think, dear reader? Have you read any good smut lately? What do you think of the current trend for fetish erotica? What do you think has contributed to that trend?

On Finishing a Trilogy

Last year I managed to start something like three trilogies where the third book had yet to be released. Let me tell you a little bit about how this played out.

Picking up Book #1: Hmm, this looks interesting. I’ll give it a try.

Finishing Book #1: OMG must read more. There’s a sequel?!? YES. PLEASE.

Reading Book #2: Leave me alone don’t talk to me can’t you see I’m reading?!?

Finishing Book #2: NO! Yes, but NO! I must find out what happens next!!!!!

Searching for Book #3: …WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NO BOOK #3??????

Basically, I’ve spent a lot of time this past year refreshing my Goodreads “to-read” list hoping that the release dates of these desperately awaited books has magically been pushed up. But now, a year later, the final books in these series are finally starting to come out. And as excited as I am about experiencing the conclusions to these wonderful stories, I can’t help also approaching these finales with some degree of trepidation.

Because finishing a series can be an emotional thing, especially after waiting months and months for the final book. As a reader, you’ve spent hours with these characters, investing your time, energy, and emotions into their stories and experiences. You’ve explored their worlds alongside them, faced trials by their sides, and celebrated victories with them. And now, eager as you are to discover how their stories end….you also have to find a way to say goodbye.

This past week I burned through the first on my list of trilogy conclusions. And let me just say, I loved it. The important plot arcs found their natural endings, and the characters all got the endings they deserved. The conclusion was thrilling, unexpected, and poignant.

And yet. Even though the writer and logical reader in me knew it was the perfect ending to a fantastic series, and how could I ask for more? ….I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad. Even though the characters ended up where they ought to be, they didn’t get there without trials, and now, the story was over. As the pages counted down to that final sentence, I braced myself for the inevitable farewell.

It happens. I’ve said goodbye to more characters, worlds, and stories than I can count. And when I’m being honest, I’d tell you that the inevitable goodbye is part of the continuing joy of reading. Every character’s story has an ending…and every ending paves the way for a new story. I will read more books and fall in love with more characters; I will start new series and finish old series and begin all over again.

In fact, I think there’s another series conclusion coming out next month.

And maybe someday, I’ll get the chance to re-read this trilogy, and experience the joys, the sadnesses, and the inevitable goodbye once again.

Do you look forward to (or dread) finishing a trilogy? How do you manage to say goodbye? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

How to Cure a Book Hangover

book hangover n, colloquial Being unable to start a new book because you are still living in the last book’s world; when the real world feels incomplete or surreal because you can’t stop thinking about the last book you read.

I read a lot. And to be honest, I’m pretty easy to please as a reader. I enjoy most genres, and it takes a lot to ruin a book for me. But the opposite is also true. I don’t love every book I read; it takes a lot to blow me away. There are a certain definable set of qualities that must be present in a book for me to love it, but even those qualities are necessary but not sufficient to win my adoration. In short, I never know whether or not I’ll love a book until I crack open that first page.

But when I find a book I love…ho boy. I fall hard. We’re talking my nose crammed in that book for hours and hours on end. I stay up way past my bedtime. I forget about unimportant things like showers and meals. When a book grabs me, it grabs me body, mind, and soul, hauling me so deep into the fictional world that I feel like I am part of the story. I know the characters; their pain is my pain, their joy is my joy. I can see the landscape; smell the air and touch the buildings.

But when the book ends…GUH. I don’t want it to be over! I want to crawl inside it and live forever with my new best friends the characters! I wander around in a daze, not quite sure what I’m supposed to do in the so-called “real world.” I get bad book hangovers. So if you’re like me, and you can’t quite get that book out of your head, here are some tips to cure that hangover.

1. Hair of the dog. Yeah, I’m talking about rereading. Sometimes you just need to revel in that wonderful world a little longer. You don’t have to reread the entire book (unless you want to, of course). Personally, I like to reread my favorite descriptions, relive the climactic action scenes, and re-suffer through the angsty romantic scenes. My motto is: you can’t dog-ear enough! (The highlight function on Kindle is pretty handy, too).

2. Spread the love. If you haven’t already, force your friends, your relatives, your acquaintances, and possibly even that nice lady at the bank to read the book. Then you can all obsess together, which nine out of ten bibliophiles agree is much healthier than obsessing alone, in your room, under the covers with a flashlight.

3. Rebound. Find a book. Any old book. Give that book the old college try. Chances are, you’ll hate it, because compared to your gilded Book o’ Wonderfullness it won’t hold the tiniest candle. Your unresolved feelings for the old book will make it impossible to form a new relationship with another book, and it will all end in tears. But emotional catharsis is good. It means you’re moving on!

Eventually, time cures all ills, and you will fall in love with another book again. And then it begins all over again…

Do you get bad book hangovers? How do you cure a book hangover? Share you thoughts in the comment section below!