Let me tell you a story…

The past month I have been finding myself having problems writing. Something about forwarding a middle grade storyline is just not sticking with me. The last time this happened, I realized there was something in my head plugging up the works. Something I had to get out. This past week I may have identified it.

While watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions I was hit at the end of the acceptance speech for Lou Reed, given by his wife, Laurie Anderson. At the end of it, after saying the last of the list of three times you die is after the last time your name is spoken, she called for one more and the gathered crowd called out in unison, “Lou!” This past year was one of the few times since I was a kid that I didn’t stop and process the hurt. My friend and companion for the last 15 plus years was gone. And in the five weeks or so before we found a mistreated dog that needed our help, I hadn’t sat in the silence of an empty Tuesday night and processed it. I ran from it.

Now we are coming up on 11 months since we lost him. I can feel it approaching on me. Clinging at me while trying to pull me down. It has made me wonder how diffcult it would be if – like many of my friends – I suffered from depression. Which snowballs into me worrying about them and pushing off my own shadows again.

I have no idea why, but this reminded me of The Lost Story. I have a folder with most of my first writing from high school. Anything and everything was worth keeping. Who knows? There might be something useful in there now that I have the experience and skill to write it. Maybe not, but I still saved it. All but one.

I have never read this story aloud. I never turned it in to my creative writing class. Nobody has ever read it. This includes my wife of nearly 25 years or any of the people involved in the story. It was written the first time that I was plugged up like this. My first “memory” of the darkness from inside needing to get out. But this story has a prelude to it. An explanation into the evolution of it.

Above I put the word memory in the literary equivalent of air quotes. Since leaving college I have been through a number of changes. One of the major ones was meeting the business end of a dump truck at about 45 miles per hour. I suffered what they had then called a concussion, but what doctors have identified in the post-war era as a TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury. This had three major effects on me – 1 physical and 2 mental. Probably more than 2, but who really wants to deal with that level of introspection?

The physical effect is that the frequency and intensity of my migraines would increase. A rather helpful nurse practitioner informed me this would likely include a near constant low-grade headache. She followed this with the date and street on which she had suffered hers.

Mentally, I had forgotten how to memorize numbers. I used to do so in a relational method, by plucking patterns out in the number strings. That annoying guy that could count pi out to more digits than years you’ve been alive? Yeah, that used to be me. It is so alien to me now, I can’t even accurately describe how I did it. Good thing I became an English major in college.

Additionally, I lost my memory of the week prior to the accident,with my first solid memory being in the hospital watching Highlander reruns late night. Though they tell me I was hallucinating, so who knows what I was watching. This also included just over four years of memory from further back. Middle to late 80’s, or high school.

Now if you’ve heard my stories from high school (the Lost Story being one of them), this is because I remember them. But it was like if I read it out of a book. I remember the words to the story. I even remember how to vocalize it to impart the meaning behind it. I just don’t remember being there. Since that time I have had flashes of memory return. Usually with a stabbing headache or migraine along with it, but a few have popped back. One of which was having a pair of ribs kicked out of my sternum at 16 years old. Another being the incident that spawned the Lost Story. So any potential positive from having substantial memory loss was completely gone. Thanks, karma.

In my creative writing classes I was attempting to write fantasy. Probably because between school, a full time job, martial arts classes 2-3 times a week and a girlfriend, I had no time left for Dungeons and Dragons. I wouldn’t pick it up again until college. So I was trying to write high fantasy and all of this darkness was hanging over me. What I wrote, I wrote for myself.

What I have come to see today, nearly 30 years later, is that what I wrote was similar to many of the stories I was watching. Spoken word poets writing about their pain and torment, storytellers at The Moth reliving the painful tales of the past – the Lost Story was mine. It was cheaper than therapy (of which I was highly allergic to in my teens), and easily done. And to free myself from the shadows of it, once I had decided not to share it, I remember taking the pages and burning them. Giving that story and my emotional attachment to it a viking funeral.

The odd part? Even though I can’t remember walking across the stage to receive my diploma in 1988, I remember this story. I remember the catalyst in vivid detail. And today I am going to put it back down to paper. I may post it here as a serial, or I may take it to The Moth in Milwaukee (depending on the theme that month). For all I know this copy will never be told aloud or read either. I’m just hoping it leads me towards processing the pain that is stopping me today, so that I can finish my fantasy story tomorrow.

OddCon Notes: SuperFight!

It has been a couple years now that I have been either chair or co-chair for Odyssey Con in Madison, Wisconsin. Once the con is over, we breathe a sigh of relief, take a couple weeks and then have our postmortem meeting. What I was considering is other than the people that power through to the “Kill the Cow” panel at the end, little of this information makes it out to the attendees. Hopefully this blog series will not only reverse that, but also give you an idea of what we had going on this year… as well as the suggestions we picked up for next year.

SuperFIght-001One of the key moments that made the convention for me was the Superfight with the Guests of Honor. Sunday morning at 11 a.m. I put Matt Forbeck, Heather Brewer and Jonathan Maberry on the main stage. I sat Thee Bluebeard (our emcee for the convention) down with them and taught them how to play Superfight. About four people came to watch the game. (did I mention it too place Sunday morning?) Even with the lack of people awake for the event it was a blast. If you ever have a chance, sit down with three authors and an improv comic and play that game. It seriously dials it up to 11.

Was it really that awesome?

Jonathan Maberry, while being a geek and one of our people, fully admits he’s not a gamer. In his own words, he is no good at anything involving dice or cards. Even he is getting a set of the cards to bring home (once he is off tour) to play with his friends in California. I imagine it like Richard Castle playing poker with his mystery writer friends. Only with geeky cards instead of poker chips. Heather Brewer also purchased the game to play at home with friends and family. So let that be our convention testimonial.

 How did this event come about?

Tomorrow we may fight, but tonight we DANCE!

Tomorrow we may fight, but tonight we DANCE!

I’d like to tell you the folks that create the game donated a copy and we simply had to film it. But I can’t. I saw videos of celebrities playing this at SDCC and knew we had to do it. Especially after there were resounding cries of battle in Twitter from our Guests of Honor. Though, to be fair, I think Jonathan was thinking I was talking actual battle – like Author Thunderdome. Which he totally would have won. He is a black belt after all.

This led to me purchasing the base deck, base expansion and the orange “geek” deck. You can find it at skybound.com in their online store. I purchased it normally and had it shipped to my house. Sure it cost a bit, but after the event was over I would have a set of the cards to play at home. Also, though it was a side thought, I put blanks from the Guests of Honor in my deck as well. I figured that would make for a trump card if it came up. Which, of course, it never did.

Though I will say the customer service from Skybound (the site that handles distribution for Superfight) was astounding. I had the base deck, the basic expansion, and the geek expansion. When I opened them up, the basic expansion was defective. The cards were stuck along a line at the bottom of the backs of the cards. They had a replacement out to me in the normal processing time for a shipment, so before it would even normally ship from the warehouse it was at my door. The original deck I was told to do what I will with it. I suppose it’s not like they could fix it.

What did I do with the messed up deck?

I took the blank cards and had each of the Guests of Honor fill out a fighter and an ability from their stories and sign them. I put them in the deck box with the rest of it and we gave it out at the event. Which made it really advantageous for whomever did get up at 11 in the morning to watch us play. Of course Paul now has to get a base deck…

Highlight of the Event

scooter-bluePlaying the last round in final elimination, Thee Bluebeard played Zeus (part of the geek deck) on a riding lawnmower. His opponent was Heather’s shark in a flaming tutu, but we’ll get to that part. He proudly exclaims that this is Zeus, he who gave us the Grim Reaper… all suburban like on a riding mower. Drawing her random card, Heather’s shark winds up not only in a flaming tutu, but also a suit of armor. Bluebeard, drawing his random ability gets “was trained by (draw a random character)” and drops the top of the character deck to reveal The Grim Reaper. He literally called down the trump card he was drawing.

Again, play this game with a trio of authors and an improv comedian if at all possible. It’s the only way to play it. And yes, video will follow once my videographer has it edited and complete.

Do Zombies Dream of Brains?

A little background for those not familiar with the schedule at Casa de Zombie. My wife works in Milwaukee, which is about a 90 minute drive one way. As such, on Tuesday nights she will stay with her friend Laura (who we met in college) as she lives about 5-10 minutes from her office. It also gives her a night to go out to dinner with her and the ladies on her team in the office. That makes it Zombie Joe and Ginger time back at the condo.

why-the-treatsGinger is the fox terrier mix we rescued last fall. We went to donate dog food to a shelter a month or so after our dog for the last 15 years had passed, and found this scared little girl that needed a home. More importantly needed someone willing to help her through her various fears brought on from a year of mistreatment. She still isn’t a fan of other dogs and is scared of the outdoors, but she’s acting like a dog now. And is a filthy, filthy beggar. It’s been months since I’ve been able to eat my entire dinner by myself.

This week that meant going through her first thunderstorm since she came home with us, and my usual night of difficulty sleeping. Like most Tuesdays, this meant sleeping on the couch with the puppy and waking up several times through the night. The usual. Right along with waking up to an infomercial as the television has been on most of the night. Did you know some stations stop broadcasting if it is late enough still? I thought all of them were 24 hours now. Some are 23 hour stations.

So I woke up having slept on my arm wrong. Acutally, my right arm (primary arm) has been sore at the elbow for a week or so. Last night I just made it worse and woke up from it. Get up for a glass of water, stretch a bit, and lay back down. Then come the weird dreams. This time it was a dream from back in college when I popped my right elbow out. Having done similar with my knee, I popped it back and went on with life. My dream detailed this event in vivid detail for me. Not that I needed it, not all of my memories were lost in that concussion. (Yet another, different story.)

Waking from the dream, my arm still aching, I considered how much it sucks to get older. Before – pop a joint, just pop it back. Now – be sore and useless for weeks from just sleeping on it wrong or stretching it badly.

Though on the bright side Ginger dealt with her first thunderstorm really well. And she didn’t ask to go out at all in the middle of the night. It was still raining after all.

Still, with the move of her “castle” (the word I trained her for with her kennel) due to visitors coming this weekend, she doesn’t jump right into it now. Her new thing is when I give her the command, she goes to where it used to be, runs back, jumps on the couch and rolls on her back kicking her legs. She does this until I rub her belly, pick her up, and put her in the kennel. Cute? Maybe. But consider the previously mentioned elbow strain. ;)

Books That Made A Zombie

When this came up at Melissa F. Olson’s blog, I searched for a novel that was at the core of who I am. One that made me the way that I am. Basically doing the job of that nebulous person from my future I refer to as “the prosecution.” Only I couldn’t really pick one book. There were many. Additionally, there’s that period of my life that’s a little foggy. I hear TBIs will do that to the best of us – no matter how Sheldon Cooper-like your memory is.

Below are the titles that I can point to as having an early (and not so early) influence on me. There are so many, but these are some of the highlights.

Lord of the Rings

the-lord-of-the-rings-the-fellowshipOkay, really it began with The Hobbit. I remember getting the book for the train ride from Wisconsin to Boston. Even as a kid I never slept well, and I had a very visceral childhood memory of equating train rides with hideous nosebleeds. So, I read. In this instance I believe I finished the book rather quickly. I’m not 100%, but I think I might have picked up Fellowship of the Ring for the ride home. This was most definitely my first experience in high fantasy. Which likely lead to my past in Dungeons and Dragons, which lead (in part) to my love of reading and desire to write. It all branched out from here.

It was also these books that made me rather devoted towards playing a halfling for most of my early D&D career. Something about them made them so identifiable. Which meant I spent a lot of time playing the party burglar.

The Kundalini Equation

kundalini-equationThis was about as identifiable of a story as I could have asked for. Martial arts was my pathway into health as a teen. To be fair, cross country running was, but that dropped me to 145 pounds at 6’2″. You call that healthy until that first spinning back kick pops a couple ribs out of your sternum. Then you begin the weight training and muscle building.

In short, martial arts for me was the near opposite of what it was for the protagonist in this story, but I got him. It was also the first urban fantasy (contemporary fantasy?) that I had a clear connection to. Where I could see myself in the place of the main character. Additionally our hero faced a loss of self in his journey that addressed a very real fear I held from my childhood into my teen years (and even further). I actually mourned the loss of that book (though likely one of my in-laws probably has it in a box or on a shelf). And when I met Steven Barnes decades later, I went in search of a copy (thank you Frugal Muse) so that I could get one signed.

This was the book that made me want to write stories that people could see themselves in.

The Drizzt Do’Urden Novels

3663576-drizzt+cover+2This is one of the staples of the D&D Youth. While Ed Greenwood made the Forgotten Realms, R.A. Salvatore made the drow cool. Actually, he kind of made them dicks. Which made them cool to read about. This was a society unlike any other I’d read about in my books. A matriarchal society at its core. One in which the women were easily as horrible to the men, if not more so. And the best of them (except for our unlikely hero) was still pretty evil.

Here we saw a fighter of great ability rising up against his dark birthright every morning. His actions the only things that could separate him from the rest of the drow and their dark queen Lloth. Something about that spoke to me… even if Drizzt was more of a cat person than a dog person.

In the most recent incarnation (or really reincarnation) of the series, what I am finding particularly interesting is how Regis, the halfling rogue who was part of Drizzt’s original party of adventurers, has become more of a contributing member. Back in the original series, any time fighting broke out, there was almost a need to have someone watching over him. He was somewhat of a handicap to the team. This time around he’s easily as badass as the rest of them. Though he is still the trickiest one.

Of note… these were the first books I ever had signed. They are also some of the rare titles that aren’t signed to Zombie Joe.

Cabal (Nightbreed)

CabalBarkerThis was my introduction to Clive Barker, which lead me to others. Imajica, Thief of Always… It wasn’t Pinhead that brought me to him. It was the innocent who merely believed he was a monster. It was also my first experience of the movie changing things from the book. Not huge portions, but enough for me to consider the implications.

I loved the ideas of the monsters being the heroes. The innocent ones. Sure, they eat you as soon as look at you, but in this case, they were the ones wronged. So much did I associate with the creatures from Midian that when we adopted our first animal together (a black cat, picked up on Friday the 13th – of course), I wanted to name him Peloquin.

cabal-1990-06-gJust recently I was in submission for an anthology of stories from after the fall of Midian. I didn’t make the final cut (there were over 500 submissions from what I heard), but it was one of the most fun projects I’ve worked on to date. Sure, the story is something I can’t use now, but that didn’t make it any less fun. Writing about some of the ancillary characters from the Children of the Moon was like coming home for me. It was full circle.

Happy Hour of the Damned

happyhourThis one is likely off the radar of many of you. Back when I was pimping this series like it owed me money, I was referring to it as “Sex in the City if all four of them fell down dead and got back up again.” Really that was how the author explained it to me. His main character was a zombie. As was her bestie. Their flamboyantly gay friend was the vampire. And they were all monsters. They ate people. And lots of them. All along the way they were bitchy and snarky. It was the dark comedy that I hadn’t found most other places. At least not outside of the movies.

I was introduced to several things by this book. Book review blogs for one. It was also the first series where I won a contest. An ARC of the second in the series. It was also my first ARC. Additionally it introduced me to an entire slew of new authors that wrote the snarky shit I really loved to read. A dark sense of humor was required. Damned near gallows humor. And as midlist authors, they were just as excited about the novels and my reading them as I was. These were the people that were (and are) inspiring me to make that leap to published author.

Well, them and the critique group that held a Publishing Intervention for me last year.

Red-Headed Step Child

jayewellssabinakane01Remember the snark I was talking about? This series had it. Additionally, it had one of the best opening lines I’d read up to that point. It grabbed me in the first paragraph. And I knew that was what I needed to do to make a book work. To ensure I published more than just a single title. It was also the book that opened up the power of the sidekick to me. Sure the Dresden Files had nearly a Scooby Gang at that point, but Giguhl was truly a sidekick. And an animal one at times to boot.

Between that, the settings, and the mythology, I was hooked. Add to it the author being one of the aforementioned inspiring midlisters (really they stalk YOU at the conventions), and I was hooked.

Of note, the first book in the series I had literally used to fend off an attack from a diving bird. I pointed out the beak prints at the first party we attended at RT. It made for a hell of a story.

Mark of the Demon

markofthedemonAs with the last few on the list, this one makes it up here for a couple of reasons. It was another contest I had won (for a travelling book concept that was great on paper). It also featured snark and sass, a strong trait for my favorite books at this point. But it also hand some real world roots to it. The police procedural elements of it were strong and engaging. It made me feel like I was visiting a real crime scene. Which makes sense, as the author had been on the police force for something like 10 years.

My personal copy of this book also had the first signing to it that caught me by surprise. It has a personal message that convinced me that I was doing the right thing focusing this much energy on my reading and writing of stories. And I haven’t turned back since. Stumbled and tripped, sure. Turned back? No way in hell.

Plus, the recent covers for this series and her White Trash Zombie series are insane! I can only ever dream to have covers that awesome.

*****

Now I don’t have any swag to give away, but feel free to comment below with novels that have inspired you over the years. Open dialog is never a bad thing.

February Reading List

Continuing on with the post from last month, I’ll go over the novels I’ve reviewed this month. I did skip a week on print media, but I am including my review on the 1st of March as I read the book in February. So far it’s looking like I am about 1.5 novels behind my goal. But I have some questionable weeks coming up. So that will change. Just not sure if it will change to the better or worse.

For this month, the list is as follows:

This month left me with some surprises – not all of them good. In looking through the list of my choices in audiobooks, I picked out Deadeye by William C. Dietz. He is a well-known and successful author in the science fiction genre. The concept was pretty interesting, and it focused on a POC as the protagonist. What I found was the budding wish-fulfillment of an old white dude writing the BAMF female character. She had no personality unless it came to an interaction with a male. And even then it was only for a short scene. Her badassery was highlighted by her “model good looks.” As if her being a badass was all the more extraordinary due to how she was a supermodel in a motorcycle jacket. Add in some stunningly stupid science highlighted by the fact the partners who couldn’t eat at the same table for threat of contamination from the mutant virus he had evolve into having sex later in the book.

While Deadly Spells was easily going to be one of my favorites (as the series was already that by book 1). I rolled the bones on Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction simply based on the summary given of it (again it sounded interesting) and the narrator. Luke Daniels is easily one of my favorites as the narrator behind the Iron Druid Chronicles from Kevin Hearne.  While there were parts of the novel that didn’t hold me, it was an excellent story with solid writing. And Daniels reading it.

Though I have been rolling back to my urban fantasy roots with the recent reviews, come this week I will be doing a traditional fantasy. Another of the Forgotten Realms novels from R.A. Salvatore. It was on my pick list from Audible, and I’ve been reviewing all of them as they come through. So it was a no-brainer for me.

Why do we fall, sir?

I know. I’ve used this element before. But I keep coming back to it. Clearly I’ve not learned to pick myself back up. Or my back has become so bad I no longer can pick myself back up. But this might be confusing to some of you.

why-do-we-fallIt has been months since I’ve been to the Victory – my favorite local coffee shop. I used to go there every morning to write. It was really the only way I could get anything done. By the time I was to a point where I had a shot to bounce back from losing my Aladdin, we had Ginger joining us. And she needed some stability. Fast. That was in August. Looking back, its been nearly three weeks since I’ve blogged (and that was the listing of what I’d read in January).

This morning the puppy woke me around 4am to go out. She was really excited to go out and to have breakfast. So I fed her. After finishing her food, she climbed up on the couch, dug a spot for herself under my quilt and went to sleep. And I mean SLEEP. Snoring louder than a dog that size has any business doing. So there I was with a snoring dog and no chance of getting any more shut eye.

I could have worked on edits. I could have written something new. Hell, I could have started up my audiobook or ebook for the reviews coming due this weekend. (Reviews being the one thing I have kept up on. I pushed one back due to my birthday, but that was it.) What did I do instead? I caught up on my television watching. I even watched a movie On Demand. To be fair, I’ve been missing a lot of movies since we adopted Ginger, but that’s not really a proper excuse.

The truth is there is no excuse.

why-the-treatsBefore it was being at a loss with no dog in the house. Then there was a dog who wouldn’t let me write without climbing into my lap and onto the keyboard. And now its just being out of practice. NaNoWriMo was even a stretch for me. It’s like my motivation left me and never came back. Only that gorilla? (See the notes about this blog branding if you’re confused.) That gorilla is rearing its amorous head. Which means the novel is still there, and the problem is with me.

Last night I intended to go home, make supper and do revisions on a couple of chapters to hand in to my writing group this week. With my wife working her national trade show (in California no less), Ginger and I are solo this week. I figured this would work fine. By the end of the night I hadn’t even tracked down the keyboard for my iPad. Or my Macbook Pro for that matter. I played with the dog. I fed her (and let her taste test my dinner). We watched television together.

Before she left, my wife was talking about how she missed Aladdin still. How she was feeling like he was still there. I’m feeling like Carol from this past week’s episode of the Walking Dead. Talking to Daryl out in the woods, she kissed him in a very motherly sort of way telling him to let the emotions happen. Of course she did this right after insinuating that she couldn’t allow herself to feel. Which is where I think I am right now, but at the same time it is likely what has me stoppered up. Like that first year I tried to complete NaNoWriMo and wound up driving family members out to Pennsylvania for an uncle’s funeral. Only this time the feeling has held out for months.

I have multiple manuscripts sitting in my Storyist folders. New this year is an account I have set to deal with editing and art payments just like a real indy publisher. And yet I can’t get back in the swing of things. At the heart of it though, it is all me. I’ve rarely suffered from any depression, and I don’t have it the way some of my friends do. Which is possibly why it was so easy for this one to sneak up on me.

In a memoir style short story I wrote about my Sensei teaching me that to overcome an opponent, even a fear, you had to name it. You can’t defeat something without knowing the measure of it and how can you know its measure if you haven’t identified the thing? Dragging it (as fluid and minor of a depression as it is) out into the open is me giving a name to it. Looking it in the figurative eye and acknowledging it.

For those friends fighting the real thing, the beast that Ethan Hawke recently called “the demon in the woods,” I have a lot of respect for the fight you give every day.

For everyone, I’m calling myself out to keep me honest. I will be releasing my writing this year. Keep an eye out for it. I will set some real deadlines to keep my butt in the chair soon. I do still have a convention to plan…

What’s Zombie Joe Reading? January Edition

So this year I have taken on two reading challenges. The first was a “new to me” challenge. Were I to meet the highest level of this challenge, this would have involved me reviewing only books of authors who were either debut, or ones I haven’t read currently. Sure, I usually read more than 50 books a year, but I have been slowing down with everything on my plate recently. Which brings me to the second challenge…

tales-nightshadeThe goal is to hit the “Marathoner” level of the audiobook challenge. This should also help me to reach my goal in the “new to me” challenge as I can use this to up my number of new authors. Additionally, I can read audiobooks while doing other things. I can work on my web development, do my puzzles (helps maintain the memory… long story), or do simple housework. Or complex housework for that matter… it’s not like I do anything with power tools. Casa de Zombie is in a condo. With the addition of this (and the inclusion of a new column on WLP for audiobooks called Sound Off), I am now scheduling two reviews a week. So that means I should be clocking in with 100-104 reviews for the year. Which assumes no “vacations” during that time. But let’s face it, a vacation just means “more time to read.”

So far this is what I have for the month of January (as noted in my 2015 Reading Challenge page). There is another that I have technically read during January, but the review is scheduled to go live February 1st. So that will be the first title for next month.

  • Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older
  • Transmuted by Karina Cooper
  • Unbound by Jim C Hines
  • Broken Shadows by AJ Larrieu
  • Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson (audiobook re-read)
  • Iron Axe by Stephen Harper
  • Tales from the Nightside by Simon R Green
  • Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

New Favorties

Half-Resurrection-Blues-Final-CoverWith the “new to me” challenge, I expect some new favorites to be added to my list of “go-to” authors. Top on that list of new folks is Daniel José Older. I like his style and snark, and can’t wait for an open credit on my Audible account to pick up the audiobook for my wife. Personally, I think he does an excellent job at narrating his own novel. It’s not something everyone can do. Stephen Harper will likely be on the list as well, but I don’t keep many fantasy authors there. Will have to see how it plays out in the long run. Assuming I have time to invest in a “fun” read. (Or if I am assigned another review of his titles.)

Really any of the 4 new authors I’ve read this month would make me pick future books they offer from a list for review. I liked each and every one of them enough to finish the story and give it a positive review. Looking at the February lists, there was no names I recognized yet though. Well, at least none that aren’t already scheduled. (I’m looking at you Jaye Wells.) I did find a narrator that I recognized as one of my “go-to’s” (Luke Daniels from the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne), but the book coming out is so far off my genre list I couldn’t justify picking it off the list.

Each and every one off of that list are titles I would suggest looking into. Though to be fair, some of those are multiple books into a series.

What are you reading?