Category Archives: Books

Weekly writing check-in: sweeping up

I spent this week doing a bit of clean-up. I finished adjusting my prices on Ingram Spark (for their price increase). I’ve been adding print book URLs to all my Books2Read links.

This is a manual process, and while I’m thrilled about having print links, It. Is. Tedious.

I’m really pleased with the release of The Ghosts You Left Behind. Early reviews are in, and the response is heartening. One of my biggest fears with this season was making things interesting and fresh while keeping the promise of the series.

What’s next? I’m not sure. I have several projects simmering on the stove of my mind. I visit each one, stir and taste, maybe add some spices, and set it back to simmering. (I’m not sure this makes sense to anyone but me.)

I’ve come to accept that I’m not the sort of writer who plans books and series in advance, with a calendar and project management software. One of those simmering stories will come to the forefront and let me know it’s ready to be written.

In the meantime, I have books to read, Photoshop tutorials to complete, and any number of writing-related things I can do.

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Little Free Library: spooky edition

We got spooky this past weekend with the Little Free Library. Not only that, we had some little free pumpkins as well.

I feel compelled to point out that all the candles are LEDs, not wax and flame. Before Halloween, I bought a handful of spooky children’s books, which went fast.

Then on Halloween, I added the candles and the table with the pumpkins and the candy.

After that? Well, as you can see, it was spooky.

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Weekly writing check-in: it’s release day (and Halloween)!

Yes, at long last! The release of The Ghosts You Left Behind: Coffee and Ghosts 4.

The Ghosts You Left BehindIf Katy and Malcolm want a future, they’ll need to survive the past.

When Katy and Malcolm discover a secret stash of Springside ghosts, they can’t tell if they’re on a rescue mission, walking into a trap—or dealing with something far more sinister.

But the simple act of freeing the ghosts sets the past on a collision course with the present.

Katy has always known the past can haunt. Usually, that’s something she can fix with freshly brewed coffee and some Tupperware.

This time, old enemies lurk in the shadows, pulling strings and weaving inescapable webs.

When she falls in, survival may be impossible. But to escape, Katy must navigate threads from the past, deal with capricious spirits, dubious allies, and ruthless adversaries.

And if she fails?

No one she loves will have a future.

Coffee & Ghosts is a cozy paranormal mystery/romance serial told over multiple episodes. This series bundle contains all three novella-length episodes of Season Four:

  • Episode 1: The Ghosts You Left Behind
  • Episode 2: Misty Sandborne and the Vampire Husband
  • Episode 3: The Necromancer’s Nephew

What now? Well, now I have a Little Free Library and Halloween table to decorate. And maybe a nap to take. 

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Weekly writing check-in: almost there

Almost more there for the release of The Ghosts You Left Behind: Coffee and Ghosts 4:

  • Print versions all set up.
  • Newsletters sent out.
  • Sale on the Seasons 1 – 3 book bundle on Smashwords (for those who need to catch up). 50% off!

This slow and steady approach seems to be working. Pre-orders are trickling in nicely. (Yes, I know. No one’s more surprised than I am.) This is definitely the way to release a book–low key and low stress. 

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Weekly writing check-in: pumpkins and print

So, do you know what I have this week?

I mean, other than a pre-order?

Print books (in process) and pumpkins!

And I’m exhausted. It’s not that hard to do, but it adds up when you’re creating paperback, large print, and hardcover editions.

So, I will keep this short and take the rest of the day off while the title winds its way through all the various vendors and systems. 

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Weekly writing check-in: the one with the pre-order

You know what I have this week?

That’s right. I have a pre-order.

People, people. It. Is. Done.

Well, almost. I’m currently getting all the print versions. That will take a few more days. But really?

It’s done.

I went with a release date of October 31st. Halloween fits both the story and the entire series. I had hopes of releasing the book last year, also on Halloween. But we all know what happened last year.

So, like a lot of couples, Katy and Malcolm had to postpone their wedding. But now?

It’s on.

And you can find The Ghosts You Left Behind at your favorite e-book retailer.

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Little Free Library: currently on offer

Currently on offer this week: great books and a lot of variety.

Some fantasy and speculative fiction, an awesome WWII novel, some fun middle grade and young adult books, a little nonfiction, plus a handful of books for the small set.

And plenty of sunshine for reading in the park.

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Little Free Library: How it’s going

So, we’re officially official! My Little Free Library is up and ready for reading.

You’ll notice we opted for the easy, screw-in library post. We are not digging holes for this. (That being said, I did check with all the utility/cable companies to make sure we wouldn’t hit anything crucial or dangerous).

Wouldn’t you know, we’ve been in a drought all summer, and the moment we set up the library, we get rain. You’re welcome.

But! The library really is waterproof, and we apparently added enough coats of varnish to the wood that the design is holding up just fine. (I say we, but you know, my daughter.)

I loaded it up with some books and then hoped for the best.

You guys, people are already finding it. They’ve taken books to read and dropped some off as well. Someone brought a handful of children’s books for the small set. I have mostly middle grade, young adult, and adult titles, so this was a boon.

I literally check it several times a day (I’m outside anyway, and hey, it’s better than scrolling social media), and every time I see a new book or that one has vanished, it’s like a gift.

The local Barnes and Noble was having a 50% off book haul sale, so I stopped in and picked up a few more titles as well.

In the months to come, I hope to have even more fun with this: theme months, featured authors, and so on. But for now, I couldn’t be happier.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to step outside and check on my library.

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Little Free Library: How it started

So, I’ve wanted a Little Free Library probably from the first time I ever spotted one. This year, for Mother’s Day, I decided to buy one for myself.

It didn’t take long to reject the idea of building one from a kit. That wasn’t happening. An unfinished one, however? That my daughter could paint as a Mother’s Day present?

Totally doable.

People, it took us at least a month to figure out how we wanted to paint it. An entire month. But have you seen some of the designs? So amazing. We scoured Pinterest board after Pinterest board. Then, one day, I said:

“What about a Starry Night library?”

And an idea was born.

The first thing we did (I say we, but it was really my daughter) was prime the entire library with exterior house paint primer. Then my daughter bought some good acrylics.

The problem with acrylics is they’re not weather-proof, so once the painting was all done, we (again, she) gave it several good coats of an oil-based sealer.

Of course, once you paint your library, you have to get it into the ground.

But that’s a post for another day.

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2020 Recommended Reading

As we wind our way toward the waning days of 2020, I thought I’d scroll through the 98 books I’ve read (so far) this year to see what I could see.

What did I see? A handful that really stood out. Mind you, if I finish a book, that means it was entertaining and did everything a book should do. But there were definitely some four and five-star reads this year.

That being said, these are my four and five-star reads. There’s a very good chance they are someone else’s one-star reads. That’s the way entertainment works.

Without further ado, here are the  books:

Fiction

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook by Celia Rees

Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel by Martha Wells

You’re sensing a trend, aren’t you, right up until that last title. My pleasure reading definitely skews historical/fantastical, plus I have a thing for spies.

I absolutely love the Murderbot series of books, and I highly recommend them (and reading them in order). In fact, I reread the first four in preparation for Network Effect (and I’ll reread all of them next year when book six is out).

One of the points of view in The Secrets We Kept is in first person plural, that of the typists. Really, it made the book (well, for me, at least). I absolutely plan on writing a story in first person plural one of these days and inflicting it on unsuspecting slush readers everywhere.

Nonfiction

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

Come for the bears, stay for what really must become a Coen Brothers movie.

True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis

Young adult nonfiction, but really all that means is the prose is lively and accessible (rather than dull and serious and self-important). For middle school on up, especially for adults who forgot that they learned about yellow journalism in high school.

For Writers

The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture by Gail Carriger

From the description:

This is an excellent reference guide for genre fiction authors seeking to improve their craft or for readers and pop culture enthusiasts interested in understanding their own taste. It is the perfect counterpoint to The Hero with a Thousand Faces not to mention Save the Cat, Women Who Run With The Wolves, and The Breakout Novelist.

If you’ve been stymied by all the usual suspects when it comes to writing advice, seriously give this book a try. I can’t tell you how many oh, so that’s why moments I had while reading this.

QuitBooks for Writers series by Becca Syme

I read Dear Writer, Are You In Writer’s Block? this year but I recommend all of Becca’s books in the series. Granted, they are probably more useful if you have a passing familiarity with CliftonStrengths, but I still think you can get a lot out of them even if you don’t.

Standout short story (that you can read for free)

Little Free Library (over at Tor.com)

A wonderful little story. You can also buy a copy for your e-reader (links at the bottom of the story post).

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