“Crime in the City” plus other stuff

Hey, kids! Hope things are groovy with you and yours this Friday.

So, for reals. NPR has this series it’s been doing called “Crime in the City.” It’s interviews with crime writers talking about their fictional detective and the cities in which they set their novels. Freaking AWESOME. Today was an encore presentation of an interview with author Colin Cotterill, who writes mysteries based in 1970s Laos.

Listen to it HERE.

Other authors in the series include Karin Slaughter, Mike Lawson, Benjamin Black, and Jo Nesbo. Cities like Oslo, Moscow, Athens, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dublin, and Seattle. And other places like Brattleboro, Vermont. I mean, for reals. I totally love this series. I’ve been introduced to some awesome authors and fictional detectives. And I secretly wish NPR would send me out to interview them. (Hello? NPR? Are you listening?) So go check out Crime in the City. I think you’ll dig it.

Another fun tidbit, via Publishers Weekly: 6 famous authors who kept their day jobs.

And Fridays for the next few weeks over at Women and Words I’ll be interviewing some authors! Today is lesfic romance author Janet Albert. Check it out.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy Friday!

Outside. Now.

Hey, folks–

Hope the week is treating you fab-ly.

I came across this article in HuffPo and it totally upset me. The story is about how references to nature are declining in children’s books, and that does not bode well for generations of kids who are increasingly isolated from the natural world, not only physically, but now intellectually as even their books don’t reference interaction with nature.

Quote, from the article:

[according to a study] Initially, natural and built environments were equally represented, but beginning in the 1960s, depictions of natural settings began a steady decline. By 2008, images of human-made environments showed up in books twice as often as those depicting nature scenes.

The study’s authors attribute the decline to the increasing isolation of children from the natural world. “These findings suggest that today’s generation of children are not being socialized, at least through this source, toward an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the place of humans within it,” noted the authors.
[source: “Children’s Books Lack Nature References, Study Suggests”]

The article also raises a question about whether kids like nature subjects, but maybe aren’t into books about nature that are heavy-hitting in terms of environmental messages. It’s something to think about, but I think the most troubling aspect of this piece, and the study, is that we as a species are becoming more and more isolated from the outdoors, and this has profound ramifications for our physical, spiritual, and emotional health. Here, from the Harvard Health Letter, are some reasons that this is true. The Guardian notes that the outdoors (even a view of it) can help patients heal faster, and this source (maybe kind of woo-woo) notes it, too.

I know that being outside has helped me in terms of health and well-being — even if that’s just a placebo effect, I always feel better after playing outside, so I’ll take it.

So if you’re parents, maybe hook your kids up with classic books that feature outside settings like, say, the Little House on the Prairie books, or Treasure Island . Heck, even the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books are good options. And get your kids OUTSIDE. Take them on bug-hunting trips to the park or open space. Go for drives to rural areas and national parks and forests. Get them involved in outdoor programs, so that they learn how interconnected we all are to not only our built environments, but the natural. We need more stewards of the land, friends.

So go play outside!

Happy reading, happy writing, happy camping!

Go check out my chat with Faith Hunter!

That’s right, peeps. NYT bestselling urban fantasy author Faith Hunter sat down for a chat with me over at Women and Words.

You can catch that HERE.

And please do leave comments or questions for her. She’s more than willing to respond. Don’t be shy. I know, I know. NYT bestselling and all. But seriously. She’d love hearing from you.

Happy reading, happy writing!

Two Words: Faith Hunter

Hi, folks–

I’d like you to check in with Women and Words this Friday, February 3rd. Especially if you read urban fantasy. Fab NYT bestselling author Faith Hunter graciously agreed to an interview with me, and it’ll be posted at Women and Words.

Spread the word, share the love. And join me in a case of the serious vay-puhs for such an occurrence!

Happy reading, happy writing!

Horror and apocalyptic Saturday! WOOO!

Hi, folks–

Skip on over to Women and Words if you haven’t already to catch my interview with horror/surreal writer Gina Ranalli. I call her a surrealist, too, because she seamlessly blends the macabre with comedy in a lot of her work, and the effect is a really cool juxtaposition of contrasting moods and emotions. Definitely give her a looksee. Here’s the link to that interview.

I had a dream last night that the world as we know it is going to end in September, 2015. WTF? I’m supposed to go to Milwaukee, according to my dream, because this is where I’ll be reasonably safe. I’m not sure what sort of apocalypse this entails, but there it is. Oh, and I’m supposed to introduce myself to the chief of police in Milwaukee so the force knows I’ll be coming.

source: Cafepress

Um…yeah. Milwaukee’s a great place, don’t get me wrong. Been there, too. Nice city. But as I’ve told people many times, in any kind of scary sort of apocalypse, it’s probably not a good idea to be near heavily populated areas, especially if it’s a zombie sort of meltdown because, as we all know by now, the more people, the more zombies. In other sorts of meltdowns, heavily populated areas will most likely become heavily lawless areas. I mean, think about it. People are going to be freaking out and trying to survive as best they can. And when that happens, in 2-3 days, all bets are off. So stay away from those urban areas. Even nice ones like Milwaukee.

In smaller communities (say, small towns) where most people know each other and it’s not a zombie kind of meltdown, you’ll probably have a better shot at staying put. Especially if you’re known in the community. That’s not always a guarantee — survival makes people go nutso — but you’ll probably have a better shot at weathering more storms in a smaller community like that than a larger. However, what people in smaller communities need to worry about is the so-called “outsiders” showing up. That is, people escaping larger cities and wandering around and ending up in smaller communities. Not all of them have bad intentions. But desperation makes for bad situations. This is pretty basic human behavior, kids. You cannot count on anything except yourself, pretty much, in a meltdown, and sadly, you cannot just trust that others aren’t going to do some crazy stuff in the midst of scary times. Bummer, I know.

Now, depending on how long the meltdown goes on, survivors will probably eventually empty the cities (leaving a few behind). At that juncture, you might be able to go into what once were heavily populated areas (if it’s not a zombie apocalypse) and scrounge for supplies or even set up housing for a while. But be aware that people, like animals, get a little territorial and that could prove a problem for you, the “outsider.” So always, always be cautious in your travels during a meltdown.

source: post-apocalyptic pictures

Something else to think about in a meltdown is that a situation like that invariably exacerbates existing ideological mindsets, layering them over levels of desperation and freak-out. So that guy who lives in the hills in his bunker railing about the government coming to get him? That’s only going to get worse in a meltdown, no matter what causes the meltdown. And, depending on the type of apocalypse (excluding zombie), you might see small groups of survivors forming new sorts of hierarchies in order to develop some semblance of control and order in a really out-of-control situation. I do not recommend dealing with groups like that. Remember, all rules are gone and all bets are off and groups like that will be making their own rules, regardless of how ethical they are. Think Lord of the Flies. But if that’s your thing — if you’re willing to do that for a sense of safety in numbers — good luck.

I’ll talk later about things you can learn now that’ll help you in a situation that — yikes — might be a major meltdown.