Wicked Italians, Jewish Lore, and American War

If you’re a true coffee lover like I am, I’m sure you get a kick out of discovering new brews. Nothing goes better with reading and writing than a good cup of java. In November I found Wicked Joe, a family owned coffee company that appears to be both socially conscious and Earth friendly.  They offer several varieties. I tried their Wicked Italian (naturally!)—organic fair trade, whole bean, dark roast—and brewed it French press style as recommended. (Rating: Delish!)

November’s Reads

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While enjoying Wicked Joe’s delizioso Italian dark roast, you might as well pair it with some savory Jewish folk tales. Jonathon Keats delves into ancient Jewish lore in The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six. You won’t need a course in Judaism 101 to get a kick out of these short fantasy tales of unruly magic and the truly bizarre. Just an open mind, a vivid imagination, and a willingness to suspend all manner of disbelief.
(Rating: Great fun!)

No book could be more timely than Omar El Akkad’s American War, offering a speculative glimpse into the next American Civil War (circa 2074). What will become of our society if we can’t put an end to our anger, hatred, and divisiveness? Akkad’s extrapolation, frightening as it is, is probably not the worst case scenario. If you’ve been following the decline of American politics and civil discourse lo these recent years, this novel won’t make you feel any better about it, but it’s a thought-provoking journey nonetheless.
(Rating: Go there if you dare!)

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Monsters and Blondes

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October gave me two great books. First, hats off to Mary Shelley and the 200th anniversary of the novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. If you haven’t read the book in a long time, get the recent Penguin edition that reprints the original 1818 text with a new intro. Then, as a companion piece, watch the National Theatre’s live stage play on the big screen, Frankenstein, 2018 Encore. I saw it with friends at The Little Theatre during my visit upstate. You might need to hunt around for a theater that’s showing it, but it will be worth the effort. Promise!

I became a Michael Connelly fan a few years ago, and he’s now my favorite working writer of detective fiction. I’ve been knocking off his books in no particular order. I recently read The Concrete Blonde, a Harry Bosch novel, the third if you’re counting (originally pubbed in 1994). It’s one of the best I’ve read in the series so far. If you aren’t familiar with Connelly, check out his work, and read this exquisite feature piece in The Guardian

fsf-11-2018One final note to my cherished few readers. Here are the ordering and social media links for the Nov/Dec F&SF where my Italian folktale “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” appears. It’s a great issue. Enjoy!

New Nick Story in F&SF

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Happy to announce that the 2018 Nov/Dec issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction has landed, and my story is in it. I’m thrilled to be among some of the finest short fiction writers in the field, including one of my personal favorites, Jeffery Ford. Special thanks to editor C.c. Finlay and all the readers who love the short form as much as I do—and still don’t mind reading stuff in print. : )

First page sneak peek! 

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Yoga and Aliens

September 2018 has given me two great books to remember. One of them, Annex, is by my super talented science fiction pal Rich Larson.

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The yoga book from DK has some surprisingly good vegetarian recipes and dietary advice in the back, along with tips on breathing and meditation. Like most yoga books I find, I try not to let all the poses I can’t do depress me. : /

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Find il mio amico Rich Larson on tumblr!

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Austin Write-In

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Thanks to my pals in Bee Cave, Texas, just outside Austin, for hosting a weekend write-in. Great friends, food, wine, conversation, time and space to be creative, and several glorious days with nothing to think about but a few of my favorite things in life. Photo snapped at the Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen in nearby Lakeway. Love you guys!

Me and Lee!

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Lucky Break!
I met my favorite mystery author Lee Child at the Vinoy in downtown St. Pete this past weekend. He was there for the World Mystery Convention, Bouchercon 2018. I wasn’t attending the conference, but I was meeting a couple of my pals for lunch, and I spotted him in the lobby just hanging around. I turned into a total fanboy and told him how much my dad and I loved his books. He was incredibly gracious. He even agreed to this photo. What a great guy! Thank you, Lee Child. : )