Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy on her way to Cape Cod

These were taken this morning about 2 hours before the mid-day high tide. I'll try to get back up at high tide to take more photos. You can see that the waves are already surging well over the jetty.

As of this moment, we still have power, although I've heard there are outages around the Cape. Some gas stations sold out of gas yesterday as people stocked up and/or left Cape Cod. Schools all over the Cape were cancelled for today, and some of the schools (like Nauset High School) are being used as
emergency evacuation points.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Frankenstorm is on its way...

Looking out at the calm ocean this morning, it's hard to believe that a giant storm is on its way, barreling toward the East Coast as I type. The local media has nicknamed it "Frankenstorm" as it's about to screw up everyone's Halloween plans.

That's a new thing - the weather service has decided to start officially naming storms so it's easier to hash tag them. But that system hasn't gone into effect yet, so we're still getting the fun, made-up names, like last year's "Snowtober" storm. And now, Frankenstorm. Go ahead, say it. It's fun to say.

Part of me wants to ignore it because it most likely won't mean a thing to us. Last year the schools sent the kids home early one day - before lunch early - because we were supposed to get a big storm. Nothing.

This time my husband even went looking for a generator. We already discussed the pros and cons of different types of water bottles we can stock up with (two of the large poland springs box jugs sprung leaks last time we stocked up.) I need to move the outdoor furniture around so it won't hit any windows.


I guess I haven't lived through a "real" coastal storm yet. I've been lucky in my years on the Cape. The insurance company keeps telling us that when they raise the rates in preparation for The Big One. I remain skeptical of just how bad a storm could be around here. I mean, it's not Haiti. It's Cape Cod.

And then I look at my sister's experience last year in Killington, another upscale resort community. Her house made it through unscathed, but her road was washed away. As were many of her friends homes, cars and possessions. And the Woodstock Inn (where she works) took forever to recover from the flooding and the mud damage. The state of Vermont is still in the process of recovering, more than a year later.

So maybe I will move the patio furniture, and bring the pumpkins inside. And keep my fingers crossed that the storm goes out to sea instead of crashing on my shore.

Although it does have a cool name.

How about you - Do you live on the East Coast? Are you ready for Frankenstorm?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So many paths...

I've been in a funk for a few days now, and unable to think past it enough to write a new blog post. So instead I'm writing about not being able to write.

I finished the MS I was working on a few weeks back. I went through it for consistency and edits. I wrote a synopsis and a query. And I mailed it out.

Now what?

I feel a little lost, having sent my baby out into the world. It's not my first baby, but a baby nonetheless. Maybe it wasn't ready. Time will tell. In the meantime - in the NOW time - I need to get back to work on another project (or two) and I even have a good start to one... even a *gasp* outline. But. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around moving on. Any tricks? Advice? How do you move on to a new project?


I need some advice - if anyone has been through a situation like this, please help. I finally got my rights back from Moongypsy Press for my second novel. They went "out of business" almost a year ago but my book has still been up there on Amazon, etc., for sale. How do I get Amazon to take down the book, so that I can eventually re-release it on my own and actually make money on it? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Puppy Tales: The Art of Chasing Seagulls

You would think Puppy would tire of the game. I mean, chase one flock of seagulls and you've chased them all, right? Oh no.

Seagulls are ignorable when they are alone. The dogs barely notice and don't even pick up their pace unless the single bird is within four feet of them. But a whole flock? That's way too exciting to ignore!
Puppy has figured out that the Big Trick - the Art, if you will - to chasing seagulls is to walk away and let them settle back down again. Make them think they won. And then go back and start chasing them into the air all over again!
On the one hand, it's like busy work. You chase them away, they come back again. You chase them away again. Kind of like dusting and vacuuming. Why do it in the first place, since the dust just comes back? Think of that satisfied feeling you get when the woodwork gleams and the room smells all fresh and lemony.  Yeah, it doesn't do it for me either, but it seemed like a good analogy.

Unlike dusting, however, chasing seagulls is apparently lots of fun. Just ask Puppy.

Since the weekend forecast sounds grim, I'm glad the dogs were able to have some beach time this week. Our weekend plans probably include a lot of lazing around the house, and getting the boys ready for their Homecoming dances. How about you? Exciting plans or just chasing seagulls?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did I Notice Your Book? Blogfest!

The fabulous Ciara Knight and the inimitable Ninja Captain Alex have put together another fun blogfest for us all to enjoy - Today we're playing "Did I Notice Your Book?"

The idea is simple. Choose a book - one you've read or want to read, something you've seen on another blog, Goodreads, or someone else's website. Something that caught your eye or your attention - but you CAN'T tell author that you're featuring their book. The idea is to shout it out on social media until the author notices!

Ninja Captain Alex posted rules:

Only two rules:
1) You can’t post about your own book.
2) The book shouldn’t be on the New York Times or USA Today bestseller list.
This is your chance to shout out about a book that might not have been noticed by others.
So... drum roll please.... the book I'm officially "noticing" for this blogfest was officially released yesterday from Crescent Moon Press by the energetic and fabulous Lynn Rush!

There was a Facebook launch party last night that I took part in - so maybe some of you have already seen this book. But even if you missed the party, definitely DON'T miss this book! The protagonists are 20-somethings in college, and Lynn has tagged it as "New Adult" rather than YA, but it has that same fast-paced feel.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book for review in late September and posted my review on Goodreads, Amazon and HERE on my blog. This is the first book of a planned trilogy, and I'm really looking forward to reading what happens next!

Now tell me... are you playing along in this blogfest? Leave me a comment so I can follow you back to your blog and see what book you chose to notice!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

And the Winner is....

Thank you to everyone who left comments to win this paperback (and ebook!) of FAIRYPROOF by Constance Phillips. There were tons of visitors who didn't leave comments - their loss, right?

So in my ultra-unscientific non-Rafflecopter kind of method for this random drawing, I wrote each commenter's name on slips of paper and had my daughter pull the winners for the paperback and ebook...

Congratulations, Adriana! (cue the confetti)  I'll be contacting you to get your snail mail address and get this book to the post office next week!

And for the ebook copy that Constance has donated....

 Congrats to PM Kavanaugh! Constance will be contacting you directly to get your details!

Thanks to all who left comments, and all who visited! And if you didn't win a copy, I still totally recommend picking one up for yourself at B&N or Amazon - it's a totally fun read ;-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Power of Facebook

Yesterday I discovered the true power of Facebook.

I was at my computer writing. I really want to finish my current manuscript, but life keeps getting in the way. After my first four cups of coffee (!) I took a Facebook break and posted that I was going to finish writing the darn thing in the next few hours.

2,000 words later, I took another break, (and finished the pot of coffee) and found that more than a dozen people had already clicked "Like" on my post. Not only that, but a bunch more people had left comments of encouragement. People I don't normally talk to about my writing, or whom I haven't seen in years. Yes, a few of my author friends chimed in, because they know how it feels to be that close and just want to finish. But my aunt in Colorado chimed in. An old friend from Vermont who's now a fan of my books. A high school buddy I haven't seen in years.

So I couldn't slouch it off until some other time. I needed to finish it. That day. Because I said I would.

Except... then I had to pick up my son at the bus stop. And organize rides for my daughter to and from rock band rehearsal. And go to other son's away soccer game. And make dinner for everyone. And watch the vice presidential debate.

And it just wasn't finished.

If I hadn't posted my intentions on Facebook, I would've shrugged it off for another day. Probably not today, as the sun is shining and I have a long list of errands. Next week.

But no. I told people. I had to finish.

At 12:05 a.m. I typed the words "The End." I guess technically I failed, as it was already Friday by the time I finished writing. But I hadn't gone to sleep yet so, again, "technically" in my mind, that's still the same day, right?

Thank you, Facebook, for being a good anti-procrastination tool. And thank you to all the friends who clicked Like and left comments, and kept me on track to reach my goal.

It ended up being a pretty good week.

How about you? Do you ever use the power of Facebook for good? (or just for evil time-sucking purposes?) What do you think about using social media to keep your writing goals on track?
* * * * *

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Blogger: Constance Phillips (and Paperback Giveaway!)

Today I'm thrilled to have Constance Phillips as my guest. She's the author of FAIRYPROOF, which I reviewed and gushed about back in September. (Read my review from September 21st here.) I'm also giving away a paperback copy of her book, so read on and don't forget to leave a comment!

*UPDATE*  In addition to the paperback, Constance will also be giving away an ebook version of FAIRYPROOF ! Another great reason to leave a comment and be entered to win this fun book!

Take it away, Constance!

 Books: The Door to a New World

Katie, thank you so much for inviting me your blog, today.

I know that reading is a very important element of being a good writer. However, because I am a wife and mother who has to hold down a full time job in addition to working on the writing career, that favorite past time can get ignored for weeks on end.

The last several weeks have seen me stretched pretty thin. I’ve been caught up in the day job, promoting the release of Fairyproof, writing a sequel to that book, and working with my editor on Resurrecting Harry (coming next year). Needless to say, spare minutes to read have been few and far between.

What was surprising was that in those moments I didn’t actually miss it. Not on a conscious level anyway. On an unconscious level, however, my soul was screaming to be told a story. Countless times in the last month or two I’d suggested to the husband or the kids that we go see a movie, of course finding the moments to do that were difficult too and that movie never happened.

Last night was just such a night.

We’d made plans to go to a movie, but after a mutually long and frustrating day, the hubby, the daughter, and I just didn’t have the gumption to make it to the car. Instead, I changed into my comfortable jammies, and grabbed a blanket (It’s getting cold here in the Midwest) and my Kindle. I scrolled through my to-be-read and while I had two started novels, I was a bit worried about my level of exhaustion and dwindling attention span. I zeroed in on a novella from a fellow RWA chapter member.

A little over two hours later, I reached the warm, satisfying ending and realized that the joy I derive from creating a whole new world for readers to get lost in when I write a story, is the same thing the reader side of me was missing. The story wasn’t a paranormal. It was, in fact, our local community, but the world – the characters the author created and their story of attraction and falling in love – was the escape from the stress and complications of my day-to-day.

My friend’s story certainly entertained me, but it also reminded me that books are an escape hatch into another world. It doesn’t matter if it’s literal – as with fantasy and paranormal books – or just a world that is not our own like in contemporary stories.

As a writer, I hope Fairyproof serves as an enjoyable escape for those who read it. As a reader, I will make a special effort to put reading back toward the top of my daily to-do list. 

 * * * * *

Thanks, Constance, for a great post - and a great reminder of why we read! Now, for a reminder of why we blog - and read other people's blogs! I have in my hands a paperback copy of FAIRYPROOF - which I bought, read and absolutely ENJOYED... and I will send it out to via snail mail to one lucky commenter!

SO, leave a comment for Constance, tell us why YOU like to read and what books have helped you escape lately. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Saturday - Good luck!

 Book blurb:

When Monique finds out her brother, Kieran, is planning her future with the one fairy she wants nothing to do with, she seeks refuge in the human world. Now Kieran fears she will be the next victim in a string of murdered fairies and is determined to bring her home.

Hiding should be a breeze. She can control any human with a flirtatious smile and an attraction spell. Until she meets Daniel Elliot, the only human who's immune to both.

A year ago, Daniel's fiancée disappeared with the engagement ring, an Elliot family heirloom. He's ready to move forward with his life, but his mother's obsession with retrieving the ring makes that impossible. Then Monique walks into his office to apply for a job.

Daniel and Monique can't deny their attraction, but will the reason he's Fairyproof be too much to overcome?

About the Author:
Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, two ready-to-leave-the-nest children, and four canine kids. Her perfect fantasy vacation would involve hunting Dracula across Europe with her daughter, who also digs that kind of stuff. When she's not writing about fairies, shifters, vamps, and guardian angels, she's working side-by-side with her husband in their hardwood flooring business.

Constance is actively involved in her local Romance Writers of America chapter (MVRWA) and the Southeast Michigan chapter of the United States Pony Club. When not writing or enjoying the outdoors, she loves reality television or can be found at a Rick Springfield concert (just look for the pink Converse high tops).

Constance blogs regularly at You can also follow her on Twitter or Goodreads, or friend her on Facebook.

FAIRYPROOF is available in paperback on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Long Weekends and Upcoming Events

Long weekends are for hanging out with friends and long walks on the beach. The dogs are happy, and looking forward to more of it today. The sun is shining here at the moment, so I'll need to jump on that soon!

The kids have been out of school since Friday, and in between rain showers we've had periods of beautiful sunshine and beach walking weather. Last night we visited my parents who have friends in from California that I haven't seen since my wedding. I used to babysit for their kids eons ago - it's crazy to see the photos of the children of the children I remember taking care of....mind boggling.

More mind boggling is that tomorrow night, my publisher and friend Nicola Burnell and I will be the speakers at the monthly ABWA meeting in Hyannis. The American Business Women Association has a Cape Cod chapter - you can read about them here - and the blurb about us from their website reads:
The Cape Cod Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association is pleased to welcome Nicola Burnell, Publisher, and Katie O’Sullivan, Editor, of the online publication,, as the guest speakers for their next business meeting. The meeting will be held at the NEW DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Cod (former Radisson) at 287 Iyannough Road, Hyannis, on Tuesday, October 9th, with networking beginning at 5:30 PM followed by the dinner and business meeting at 6 PM.

Nicola and Katie will be discussing their online magazine, and how it has grown over the last 5 years of publication, thanks to the regular submissions from local writers, artists and business women. It is truly a community effort that receives an amazing amount of support from women who love to read the stories they publish. Nicola and Katie will also be discussing their ever-expanding vision, and their recent initiative to bring the women their readers love to read about right into community events, where their readers can meet and network with them directly.

The ABWA Member Spotlight for October will be Dr. Diane Todd, of Nauset Optical.
To register for the October 9th ABWA business meeting, please reserve your space online here OR send an email to Dinner costs $22 for members by the reservation date, $27 for members after reservation date, and $27 for guests.

Wish me luck, as I'm not really the greatest of public speakers! We (Nicola and I) attended a party Friday at the Little Beach Gallery in Hyannis, and I told everyone I'm already planning to hide behind Nickey when we're on stage. One of these days I'll get over that fear... maybe it will be tomorrow. We'll see!

The other thing I'm looking forward to - and this one I'm a lot more excited about - is on Wednesday, 10/10, I'm hosting author Constance Phillips right here on my blog! To celebrate, I'll be giving away a paperback copy of her novel FAIRYPROOF to one lucky commenter! So come back later in the week to leave a comment and win her great debut novel! I'll announce the winner on Saturday - good luck!

What are you looking forward to this week?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Banned Books: A Professor's Perspective

Today, I'm turning over my blog to an old college friend, Wendy Barry, who sat through more English literature classes with me than I care to remember. We read novels and poetry, philosophy and political treatises. After Colgate, I moved to Boston and dabbled in the advertising world, while she made better use of her English degree and went on to Vanderbuilt to obtain her Masters.

Wendy now lives down South with her wonderful husband, talented son, and uber-spoiled dogs, and teaches English for a living. She also writes fabulous poetry for fun, and I swear that one of these days I'll make it to one of her live poetry readings! Promise!

And without further ado, I'll turn over the blog to Wendy...

Over the years, there have been a lot of books banned in a lot of places. Before there were even papyrus rolls, there were scribes rubbing out the good parts with hammer and chisel. Of course, what constitutes the good parts or the scary parts or the incendiary parts changes over time and place. When the Pharaoh Akhenaton was in charge, he made the kingdom of Egypt a monotheistic nation. Most Egyptians did not like that, so after his death, they got rid of all the hieroglyphics referring to Ahkenaton’s reign and blasphemous single-god craziness.

It’s funny how what is unacceptable changes, isn’t it?

I teach English and composition at an open door institution in one of the most educationally backwards states in the nation. Many of my students, many more than you would like to believe, struggle with reading. They don’t want to read, they avoid reading at all costs, and I sometimes have them read out loud, they falter and halt over three syllable words, like syllable, for instance.

Last year, at a local high school, one of the books on the summer reading list was challenged. The book in question apparently had bad words and described some bad behavior in it. A few parents judged it as an inappropriate choice for all students, which seems unfair.

The bad words, in particular, are what concern me. What are these bad words, anyway? Are they words that run amok and shoot up a movie theater? Are these words scalding newborns? Do they light puppies on fire?

No, they don’t, because words are not inherently bad, nor good, but tools for us all to communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly of human experience. Sure they are sometimes sharp tools, and people can be cut by them, but they are our tools, the most important in an ongoing battle to retain our humanity.

What of my students, and they are many, who not only don’t read well, but are not allowed the words that come closest to expressing their experience? What about the victims of child abuse, domestic violence, dysfunctional families, poverty and lack of education, who are not allowed to say how ****ed up that is?

There might be some things we should ban, but they are not books, and they are not words.

Here are my suggestions:

• assault rifles
• fracking
• cigarettes
• more Garfield movies
• egg salad sandwiches

All books should be read. No books should be banned. If anything should be banned, it should be the yapping about books without having read them.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Banned Books: The Catcher in the Rye

I can't remember if this book was required reading in 9th or 10th grade English class, but I still have my copy. I couldn't hand it in at the end of the semester because I kept re-reading it, each time feeling as if I were closer to cracking Salinger's secrets and understanding Holden Caulfield more completely. I've since read other Salinger books, but at the time this novel was so radically different than anything I'd read previously that I needed to keep it. And I still have it.

I tried to read it again recently, and found I didn't have the time or the patience to sit down and give it the attention it needs... there are so many layers of meaning, beyond the "bad language" and "innapropriate behavior" and "sexual content" that has parents trying to ban it from their school's curriculum.

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye? Was it required reading? What did you think? Have you read it again lately?

Out of the list of the Top 100 Novels of the Twentieth Century... Many of them have been banned and/or challenged. The list below shows those challenged and banned - for the complete list of Top 100 books, go HERE.

See how many of these classics you've read - Count them up and leave it in the comments. I've only read 23 of the 46 listed. (I guess I have more reading to do - and soon!) How about you? Which are your favorites?

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

38. All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

48. Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

57. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

66. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books: Forever

Today, my blog is being taken over by my friend, author and comedienne Nancy Howland Walker. Actually, she's currently working on a cruise somewhere off the coast of South America, where her biggest dilemma is needing a new pair of sandals 'cuz she's worn out two pairs with all the fun she's having....

...but she managed to take time out of her busy schedule to weigh in on the subject and celebrate Banned Book Week with us. Take it away, Nancy!

Banned Book Week
by Nancy Howland Walker

Banning books? I’m all for it! 

No, not because I’m some rabid Christian Coalition right-winger who wants to protect our youth from morally corrupt influences, and not because I’m an Authoritarian nut job who sees “Muslims” and “Socialists” in every shadow and  wants to protect our fragile American society from subversive concepts. But for the simple and universal truth – You want what you can’t have!
If you (or anybody!) are told that you absolutely can’t have something, chances are that you will wish for, fantasize and dream about that thing and chase it with fevered abandon. And if you actually DO come to possess the prized object, it will become your “Precious.” You will lovingly examine it and jealously guard it, clenching onto it like a dog does his favorite toy.

I was a Russian major in college, and learned all about the cultural underground of the Soviet Union. Because the State kept a tight, controlling grip on speech, Soviet citizens could not take books for granted. Literature was valued highly, studied and discussed, and an intellectually vibrant arts culture formed. (Hey! I actually retained something from college?!)

My own experience with banned books goes like this: In sixth grade, I became aware of Judy Blume’s best seller, FOREVER. I didn’t know anything about this book, except that it had “sex parts” in it, and everyone’s Mom had forbidden everyone to read it. Hence, EVERYONE was trying to find a copy and read it! This of course meant that I also developed a burning desire to hold the book in my hot little hands and find out what was deemed so inappropriate for us. When I got home from school, I rushed to my mother and told her about this controversial book and asked her if I could read it. From what my friends said about their mothers’ reactions, I fully expected MY Mom to fly off the handle and forbid even saying the title or looking at its cover!  But she said yes, like it was no big deal, and that I could read it. That all-consuming, obsessive, burning desire I had had only a moment before fizzled right there and then into nothingness.

So as an author, I say, “Ban my book!” Please. Make a big deal over it, telling people of all ages that they cannot and should not read about how to create songs on the spot. That instant songwriting is morally and culturally subversive!  Indeed, that songwriting of ANY kind will stop the universe and lead to the destruction of all creatures great and small, and therefore my book is forbidden! Then I will SURELY be number one in my category on Amazon!

Oh, and by the way, I have yet to read FOREVER.

 * * *
In addition to being a fabulous friend and a certified ne'er-do-well who flits around the globe (and gets paid for it), Nancy is a comedienne, actress, and author of INSTANT SONGWRITING.
Instant Songwriting is the ultimate how-to book for musical improvisers and an excellent resource for songwriters. With over two decades of musical improv experience, Nancy Howland Walker guides you with clear, logical and fun step-by-step exercises, from the very basics of putting a song together, to highly advanced song techniques. Whether you are new to the art form or experienced, your songs are improvised or written, or you do this for fun or profit, Instant Songwriting helps you take your song skills to the next level. Musical tracks are included for each exercise – to accompany you as you practice and master each step along the way. Now go and become the Songwriting Diva you were meant to be!

It's available on Amazon - and it might be banned any day now, so go buy your copy as soon as possible!

What are you reading to celebrate Banned Book Week?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Book: The Outsiders

Today I'm turning over the reigns to another fellow author, Cindy Young Turner, author of Thief of Hope. She's talking about Banned Books, and her own favorite from her childhood - THE OUTSIDERS, by S.E. Hinton.

My Favorite Banned Book, by Cindy Young-Turner

There are a number of books on the banned books like that I’d consider favorites. One of the most memorable was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I think I was in middle school when I read it and I got it from one of the Scholastic book clubs. Those things were great. I was probably one of the only kids who ordered books like All Quiet on the Western Front and some book about a nuclear holocaust. Nothing but light reading for me!

That’s why I loved The Outsiders so much. It felt so real and it was so different from what I was used to as a kid growing up in a quiet suburb of Massachusetts. The Outsiders had tough kids trying to make it on their own, but mostly it was about loyalty and friendship and family. It was easy to relate to Ponyboy and his struggles, and I loved his interest in writing because I was also a young writer. It’s one of the first books I remember making me cry, and if you’ve read the book, you know why I did.

The Outsiders has been banned because of its realistic portrayal of ‘60s gang violence and family dysfunction (per Wikipedia), plus teen smoking and drinking. These days a book like that seems tame. YA is a lot edgier now (how many people died hideous deaths over the course of the Hunger Games trilogy?) and authors are often pushing the boundaries. But these are problems kids deal with on a regular basis. We all want to read books that reflect our experiences and the world around us. Violence and gangs are still an issue, dysfunctional families are still an issue. You can’t sugarcoat the world because kids will see right through it.

I’m happy to say that my parents never censored my reading when I was young. The library was a magical place where I spent a lot of time. I remember the children’s/YA section was an entire floor. My mom would go upstairs to the adult section and I’d have free reign of the basement floor. In looking over the list of banned books, I’ve read quite a few of them. I hope to instill the same love of reading and curiosity and open-mindedness in my own daughter. And when she’s old enough, I’ll happily share my paperback copy of The Outsiders with her.

Cindy's book, Thief of Hope, is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
 Sydney, a street urchin and pickpocket in the town of Last Hope, has managed to evade the oppressive Guild for years, but there is no escaping fate when she's sentenced to death for associating with the resistance. After she's rescued by a wizard, Sydney is forced to accept that magic-long outlawed throughout the Kingdom of Thanumor-still exists, and the Tuatha, a powerful faery folk, are much more than ancient myth and legend. When the wizard offers a chance to fight the Guild and bring Willem, bastard prince and champion of the Tuatha, to the throne, Sydney embraces the cause as a way to find her own redemption. But Sydney's fear of the Guild, distrust of authority, and surprising connection to the Tuatha threaten Willem's success. Can she untangle the strange threads that entwine her life not only to the fate of the kingdom, but also to Willem himself?

About the Author:
Cindy has always been an avid reader and became fascinated by mythology and Arthurian legends at a young age. She quickly decided she enjoyed creating her own worlds and characters and set to work writing her own stories. She won her first writing contest at age twelve, a short story inspired by the style of Edgar Allan Poe. Branching her interests from mythology to classic supernatural tales to medieval history and then to fantasy seemed to be a logical progression. Her fantasy novel, Thief of Hope, was published in 2011.
A native New Englander, Cindy currently lives in the Mid-Atlantic region with her family and each year wishes for more snow. Visit her at her website at

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books: The Hunger Games

I guess I wasn't totally surprised to find THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins on the list of Top 10 Banned Books for last year. Even though the book was first published in 2008 (and assigned as summer reading for incoming freshmen to Harwich High School in 2010) it didn't receive the close attention of parents until the movie and the associated hype exploded last year.

I was one of the first readers to check this book out of my local library in January 2009 - and then had to wait until September for CATCHING FIRE to be released! And then wait again for MOCKINGJAY. (The agony!) It seems crazy to me that people would want to ban such engaging works of literature, books that make you think outside the box, beyond your current life.

THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy was third on the list for last year. The website quotes the reasons, abbreviated as: "Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence."

The original Publisher's Weekly review compared the book to Aldous Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD, another favorite of book banners, but that's aimed at adults. Parents object to THE HUNGER GAMES being targeted at children.

I explained Banned Book Week to my twelve year old, and explained that some parents wanted to take THE HUNGER GAMES out of schools and local libraries. That some parents didn't feel the book was appropriate for children. Here's what she wrote in response - all in her own words:

By Teagan

    I believe that The Hunger Games should not be banned from book stores and libraries. The main character, Katniss, is trying to protect her family from starvation, and ends up saving her sister from being thrown into the arena.

Parents can tell their children what not to read, by not letting the book into their home, but taking it from libraries and book stores is like having jurisdiction over what other peoples’ children can and cannot read.

The whole series is about family, teamwork, and love. It is an inspirational, message to young readers that they can accomplish the greatest tasks. The Hunger Games is a great, well written book that is an experience that readers should not be deprived of.

 Today my daughter and I are re-reading our favorite parts of the trilogy in honor of Banned Book Week. What are you reading?