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Check It Out

Courier & Press Article by Nancy Higgs
Sunday, April 28, 2013

When Authors Don't Write Fast Enough

Can't wait for George R. R. Martin to finish writing the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series? Dying to find out whether Stephanie Plum will finally choose Ranger or Morelli? Been left hanging on a cliff while your favorite author writes the next book in your favorite series?

I don't have those answers, but I can find some good distractions while you wait.

My son introduced me to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, starring Harry Dresden, Private Investigator. These aren't your ordinary mysteries: Dresden is not only a P.I., but also a Wizard. I didn't think I would like the mix, but Dresden clicked with me. Mostly I've listened to the audiobooks, and loved them. I'm now on the next to last book in the series (so far - Butcher plans more) and wondered what I will read next. I learned Butcher has written several Dresden stories, most published in anthologies, but several collected in a book that is all Dresden. How wonderful to have more to read! Furthermore, in short stories, the author can try something new – more humor, a different point of view – things that might not fit a full length novel. I especially enjoyed "Curses," a story exploring a famous curse on a Chicago sports team, and found in the anthology Naked City.

George R. R. Martin is another author with "bonus material" available for while you wait. The "Dunk and Egg" stories take place a hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones, and show some history of the Seven Kingdoms.  The three stories were published in the anthologies Legends, Legends II, and Warriors, along with stories from other well-known authors. These collections also give you a chance to try other writers, possibly finding a new series to read while you wait. For those who want to learn even more about the land of Westeros, there are also books published about the series, including cookbooks!

Mystery and Romance authors also write series-based short stories. I recently checked for Kate Shugak stories, from the Alaska series written by Dana Stabenow. Several are available in anthologies at the library, and more for purchase from online e-book stores. More and more, authors are selling (or giving away) short stories in inexpensive electronic formats, hoping to attract new readers.  Suzanne Brockmann will soon publish Headed for Trouble, an anthology of stories about characters from her romantic adventure Troubleshooters series.

Don't be afraid to ask your reference librarians to help you find more works by an author, or new authors you might like. Looking up author's websites can yield some treasures, too.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips has stories about some of her characters, as well as some yummy recipes on her website. Janet Evanovich provides links to an online store where fans can buy apparel declaring affection for one of her characters. Lynn Kurland displays a family tree showing how her books fit together. At George R. R.  Martin's website, he occasionally posts a chapter he is working on, and links to fan sites with a wealth of information about the series.  Happy Waiting!