Thoughts on BENDING THE PAW

Hello, hello! I know it’s not the last Wednesday of the month, but St. Martin’s Press offered me access to Diane Kelly’s latest canine police procedural mystery, Bending the Paw and I couldn’t say no (I actually could say no, but I wanted to read it). It’s the ninth book in her Paw Enforcement series about a Fort Worth police officer and her K-9 partner. Publication isn’t until the 27th, but I was told an early review was fine. I received access to the ARC through NetGalley, so I must thank them as well as Sara Beth Haring at St. Martin’s Press for the chance to read it in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute cover that actually has to do with the plot!

Bending the Paw follows Officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner Brigit as they try to help detective Jackson solve what appears to be a grizzly murder. The problem? There’s no body, only ludicrous amounts of blood. Throw in an engagement and wedding prep, plus a hailstorm and the onslaught of both legitimate and scam artists roofers, and you’ve got everything you need to keep this pair busy.

I’ll say it. I knew what was going to happen from the first couple of pages. The whole main plot was fairly standard. However, the subplots with Megan’s engagement and the whole roofing company thing kept the story interesting even though they were pretty predictable as well. It might just be all of the stuff I read and watch, but it wasn’t hard to see where everything was going. But again, that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to read.

I don’t want to give everything away if you’re going to read it, so feel free to skip ahead to the end of the spoilers, which start now.

My biggest complaint with this book is that despite all of the tests they do on the blood, no blood thinners are detected. Blood coagulates! In order for it to be collected over a period of time, something has to keep it thin, especially in this instance. And I’m sure a seemingly legitimate excuse for the presence of blood thinners could have been devised by the “killers.” They seem smart enough for that.

No more spoilers.

Beyond that, I didn’t really have any major problems with the book. I love Brigit. Megan’s a little annoying with her whole making it known she’s a K-9 officer so she can take Brigit in restaurants and other places when she’s off duty, but other than that she’s an interesting character. Frankie and Seth seem cool, but I’ll have to go back and read the first eight books to get a better grasp of them. That being said, it’s fine starting at book nine. It works well as a standalone.

Just a cute pupper.

The writing was tight and fast-paced. Kelly does a wonderful job at giving you pertinent details from previous books to help make reading this one possible without having to start from book one. It’s a quick and fun read.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Bending the Paw. In fact, I’ve added the first couple of books to my want-to-read list so I can pick them up soon. I might also check out some of Diane Kelly’s other series.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Probably closer to 3.5, but that’s just because I figured it out so early. If you want a quick, fun read, you should check it out.

A Look Inside Reggae Wings and Tings

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing this beautiful day? It’s been a long time since I did a food review. I’m going to blame Covid since we haven’t been able to go out to eat since it started and we constantly have issues with GrubHub and DoorDash, so we don’t order in much, but the truth is that I hadn’t done one long before Covid. But, this weekend, Dad and I gave GrubHub another shot (still showed up late, but that’s really been our only continuous problem with them), in order to try a Jamaican place called Reggae Wings and Tings. They’re on the corner of Motley and Town East here in Mesquite. Their address and contact info is on the website linked above.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

Front of their menu, borrowed from their website.

Accessibility: no first hand experience, but judging from pictures I found on Google, it looks pretty standard for around here. Tables don’t seem to have anything to bump your knees on. There appears to be a couple of unloading zones for wheelchairs. The area in front of the door looks wide enough so you shouldn’t have to make a tight turn to get in. But this is all from pictures, so I can’t be positive yet.

Service: we ordered from GrubHub, so there was no real service interactions. But Dad did call to let them know we enjoyed the food and the woman on the phone seemed friendly and nice.

Oxtails, rice and peas, and fried plantains. Borrowed from Google because I didn’t think to take pictures.

Entrees: absolutely delicious. I had the same as pictured above. The oxtails were soft and just amazing. I don’t usually get rice because it’s difficult for me to eat without help, but I’m glad I did. It was fluffy, but still clung together enough that I didn’t have too much trouble with it. I don’t know what the peas in it were, but they were tasty. Even the fried plantain (which I’m usually iffy about) was delicious. Dad had jerk pork with mac-n-cheese and fried dumplings. He loved it all. The pork was tender and just spicy enough. I wasn’t sure about the dumplings, but I’m not a big fan of sourdough. Dad enjoyed them, though!

Drinks: interesting. Dad got something called Irish Moss. It was like a super cinnamon-y eggnog, so we liked it. I got some kind of ginger beer, which was good. They have other drinks, but don’t really explain what they are on GrubHub, so we’ll just have to randomly choose again next time.

Back of the menu, borrowed from their website.

Dessert: yummy. We got a slice of both the cream cheese pound cake and the Jamaican rum cake. They were both nice and moist. The pound cake was good, but didn’t stand out as much as the rum cake. The rum cake had a lovely blend of spices and an interesting chewy texture.

Price: not bad at all. Without GrubHub’s fees (about $10 altogether), it would’ve been about $50 plus a tip. We were full and happy when we were done, so totally worth it.

My rating:
MMMMM

7 Stories for the Season

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing this lovely October day? It’s that scary time of year where people normally start decorating with spider webs and carved pumpkins in preparation to hand out candy to appease all of the little ghosts and goblins. Unfortunately, Covid is dampening this year’s Halloween spirit, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. You can always watch scary or corny movies. You can still decorate to your heart’s content as well. And now is as good a time as any to read (or reread) some scary stories. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite short stories with you today.

1. “Strawberry Spring” by Stephen King. Of course King would be on my list, so I might as well start there. This particular story is in the collection Night Shift. What’s not to love about a serial killer story? But really, you can’t go wrong with any of King’s short stories.

2. “The Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft. This is one of the few stories that kept me up at night and I have no idea why. It’s just one of those creepy stories that gets inside your head. It can be found in a number of Lovecraft collections or you can read it here. And yes, I acknowledge he was a racist. I don’t have to like a person or agree with them to enjoy their work.

3. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Because who doesn’t love a slow descent into madness? If you’ve taken any college level English courses, you’ve probably read this, but it’s always worth another look. It can be found in a bunch of collections or here on the Project Gutenberg website.

4. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. This is another you’ve probably read if you did your English homework, but I still love it. The story of a creepy recluse is always intriguing. You can find it in loads of collections and if you Google it, the whole text usually pops up in at least one public lesson plan.

5. “Berenice” by Edgar Allan Poe. Pretty much any Poe story fits the season, but the one that creeps me out the most is this one. Why? Because teeth freak me out. Of all the things to be obsessed with, I just don’t understand why anyone would fixate on teeth. But I digress. If you have a collection of Poe, it’s probably in there. If not, you can read it here.

6. “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” by Neil Gaiman. This is a weird and cute story that’s pretty predictable, but still fun. It was published in the anthology Impossible Monsters (edited by Kasey Lansdale), but you can listen to Gaiman read it here if you have 10 minutes to spare.

7. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. It’s not scary like the usual horror story, but it’s terrifying because it’s not a particularly far-fetched idea. This could happen because people suck. It has happened in the past in various ways. It’s basically ritual sacrifice without the whole appeasing a god angle (at least from what I remember). Stuff like this happens and that’s terrifying. You can find this one in a bunch of anthologies and it’s usually around online if you Google it.

I could keep going, but I think I’ll save some for another time. What are some of your favorite scary or creepy short stories? How about corny Halloween short stories? As always, feel free to share your lists or comments or thoughts here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on BURNING ROSES

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of September, so you know what that means. It’s book review time! This month, I opted for something on the fairytale side of things. I didn’t realize it was a novella when I requested it, but I’m glad it was something short and entertaining. I’ve been reading too many longer things lately, so it was a nice change of pace. It’s S.L. Huang’s Burning Roses and it was released yesterday (09/29) from Tor/Forge. As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get on with it.

Love the cover.

Burning Roses follows Rosa and Hou Yi, two middle aged women who are the stuff of legends. The problem with being legends is that you have to gain that reputation somehow and that can be misleading, even if it’s all wonder and prestige. Both women are filled with regret and running away from their pasts when they decide to team up and protect their makeshift home from the sunbirds that have started attacking the surrounding area. They don’t expect to make it out alive, but maybe one last adventure can help to resolve some of the regret that plagues them.

I’m going to be completely honest with you. I read this about four weeks ago and have been putting off writing this review purely out of laziness. But what I’ve discovered from my procrastination is that this book is pretty forgettable. I had to skim the first chapter just to remind myself what it’s about. The details came back to me fairly quickly, but I shouldn’t have needed the nudge. I probably won’t remember it at all a year from now. That’s not to say the story is bad (it’s actually really good). It’s just that among the plethora of fairytale retellings, it doesn’t stick out in my mind.

To be fair, this is me with most fairytale retellings.

The fairytales. This is a mash-up of Little Red Riding Hood (Rosa) and Hou Yi the Archer from Chinese mythology which I’m not familiar with at all. Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Beauty and the Beast are also mixed in for good measure. I also feel like there might have been some others I wasn’t familiar with, like maybe the thing with the dragon. But the way they were all blended together made for a really nice story of family tragedy and toxic friendships and all consuming obsessions and, of course, love. I really enjoy how the story pulls enough from the originals to make them recognizable, but twists and weaves them into something new.

The story itself. This is a nice read. I took a few days to get through it, but at around 80 pages it could easily have been done in one sitting. The way their pasts unfold, mingled in with the present story is lovely. My only complaint is the same one I have with most novellas: the story feels incomplete. There’s a finality to it, but there’s also this gaping hole where we don’t get to see the end of Rosa’s story. It’s weird how it seems to start out as Rosa’s story, then shifts to Hou Yi’s story during which we get her ending, but it never shifts back to give us a satisfying ending for Rosa. Maybe that’s another story, but it doesn’t really feel like something that would require another book.

Basically.

The writing is lovely. It’s not super poetic, but there’s this nice rhythm that carries you through the story. The imagery is deliberate and helps bring the story to life. It’s a smooth read.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Burning Roses while I was reading it. Despite the unsatisfactory ending and the forgettableness of it, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more stories by S.L. Huang.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars (3.5 really, but I rounded up). If you enjoy fairytale retellings, it’s worth a look. And it’s short enough that even if it’s not your cup of tea, you’re not wasting too much time.

Last Quarter Intentions

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing today? It’s been a gloomy couple of days, so I’ve just wanted to laze around. You know how it goes. But next week is September’s book review post, then we enter the final quarter of 2020. Can you believe it? Time is racing by, but at the same time it feels like 2020 has been stretching on forever. It’s weird. Anyway, in preparation for the end of the year, I thought I would let you know what my intentions are. I’m not even going to bother calling them goals because that word hasn’t helped me stay on target in a long time. So, here’s a list of the things I hope to accomplish by December 31st.

Basically.

1. Finish the first draft of DS2. I originally wanted to finish this a week or so ago, but the blahs got me and I stopped working on it. I wrote some short stuff in the interim, so I wasn’t completely useless. However, I need to get back to the novel. I’m aiming for 65-75,000 words and already have about 18,000 written, so even if I wait to start on October 1st (I need to reread what I’ve written over the next few days to get back in the voice) I’ll only need to write between 900 and 1,100 on my writing days. I can do it. I plan to do it. We’ll see if it actually happens.

2. Finish the shawl. I’ve been working on this thing on and off since October, so I want to finish it and have Dad weave in the ends and block it, so we can get it sent off. It’s my own fault it’s taking so long. Hopefully since I don’t plan on trying to force out 1,500 words on my writing days, I’ll be able to squeeze in at least half an hour of crocheting on those days as well as more on the days I don’t write. My priority will be the words, but I’m still hoping I can finish both by the end of the year.

Or just buy me yarn. No flattery necessary.

3. Keep querying and submitting. I haven’t missed a week yet, but I’m slowly running out of agents to query until I get rejections from some others (ones in agencies where you’re allowed to query other agents even if you get a no from one of them), I might drop down to two or three a week instead of five. I’m only 25 submissions away from 100, so I’m not worried about cutting back a bit. Then, I can look for publishers if none of the agents bite. I’ll still keep up with my two short story submissions each week too.

4. Read extra books. Once I finish the book I’m currently reading, I’ll have met my 30 books goal for the year, but I’ll still need to read at least two books for November and December’s reviews. I’m also planning to reread HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone and I’m sure I can find a book or two in my Kindle collection of stuff I’ve bought but haven’t read to fill out the rest of the year. Or maybe I’ll just say screw it and read manga instead.

I mean, if I had enough money, I’d be less anxious which would make me happy, but books work too.

I could talk about my intention to try and make new friends, but we all know how bad I am at keeping up with the ones I have, so I probably won’t do anything different. I’m trying. Slowly. But it’s not like it was back in the Yahoo chat days. Back then I’d randomly *glomp* someone and hey presto, new friend! Nowadays, I join a new forum or group and just lurk because I feel like a creeper. So yeah, new friends would be nice but are unlikely because I’m a socially awkward weirdo.

Anyway, that’s what I hope to accomplish by the end of the year. What about you? Anything you want to get done within the next three months? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or whatever here or on my social media pages!

I’d Rather Be Crocheting

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone doing? I’m still procrastinating on my writing, but I’ve started crocheting again. It’s not exactly what I should be doing. I know. I’m still keeping up with everything else (reading, submitting, querying, blogging, etc.), it’s just the actual writing I’ve been avoiding. Shame on me. But I’m having more fun playing with yarn than the computer. Granted, I’m not doing it every day, so it’s not like I don’t have time to write. No excuses. I’m just lazy. Anyway, I thought I’d use this post to update you on my crochet progress and make a list of other projects I want to work on.

My first little Lost Soul

1. Lost Soul Shawl by Maryetta Roy. Yes, I’m still working on this because of my random tendency to quit things for weeks (sometimes months) at a time. I’m opening up for the 10th set of skulls. I’ll see how big it is at the end of this set and maybe stop there. But I am starting to see the end and it’s encouraging me to finish it. There will be pictures after it’s done and blocked, before it’s shipped off to my ever patient friend. I’m not saying it’ll get finished any time soon, but it’s getting there.

Borrowed from the pattern linked below.

2. The Lakeside Beanie from 5 Knots North. The very first thing I started was a crappy beanie for Dad that requires sewing (meaning I’m never going to finish it). Since I’ve been working on the shawl, I’ve been looking into top-down and bottom-up hats that don’t require any real sewing. I’ll probably unravel the rectangle I made Dad and try this pattern whenever I finish the shawl. Then, I have to find a pattern and yarn to make myself a hat. Hopefully small projects will be easier to complete.

Borrowed from Wickedly Handmade’s Ravelry site linked below

3. The Wickedly Hooded Pocket Shawl by Andrea Williams at Wickedly Handmade. This one would be for me. Jackets and hoodies are annoying because I rarely put my arms in the sleeves unless I’m going to be outside for an extended period of time, so they don’t lay right on me. But maybe a straight back shawl would drape better and offer the same warmth as a hoodie without the pesky sleeves adding extra bulk. Plus, there’s a hood and pockets. How cute is that? But it’s another big undertaking, so I’ll probably procrastinate for a while.

Borrowed from Hooked on Homemade Happiness’s Ravelry site linked below.

4. The Urban Chic Cocoon Sweater by Breann Mauldin at Hooked on Homemade Happiness. I don’t know why, but I really like this pattern. I wouldn’t wear it because I don’t like layering clothes, so I’d have to think of someone to make it for, but I want to try making it eventually. She has a lot of cute patterns (many available for free on her website). There are a lot of beanies, so I’ll probably procrastinate with some of those before I try this one.

Borrowed from the website linked below.

5. The Pretty in Peplum Sweater from Okie Girl Bling ‘n’ Things. It’s such a cute sweater and the yarn looks gorgeous. This would be another thing for me. It comes in a bunch of sizes and there’s no seaming required. It looks pretty easy, so it might be good as a first top. I’ll find out eventually!

I also want to try making socks, but I’ll have to get smaller hooks and get Dad to make long handles for them. What are some of your hobbies? Do you have some projects you want to work on eventually? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Book Rant

Hello, hello! September is flying by. I can’t believe we’re already a third of the way through it (close enough anyway). I have no idea where the time is going. I’ve mostly been reading. It’s weird. I’ve already read this month’s book for the review and I’m currently working on next month’s book since it’s on the long side. But, since the last time I talked about reading, I’ve also read another book from my “want to read again” list. It’s an old book I read back in elementary school and loved. Well, I picked up the Kindle version via my library’s OverDrive account and apparently they updated the book when it was released as an eBook. Needless to say, I have issues with it.

The cover of the 2012 Kindle version.

Ransom by Lois Duncan is about a group of five kids who live in one of the richer areas of New Mexico getting kidnapped when someone steals their school bus. It’s a story about five completely different people struggling to survive and come to terms not only with what’s happening, but also with each other. Honestly, it’s a little melodramatic and the dialogue is a bit stilted, but it’s a fun read if you come into it with the right mindset.

The book was written in 1966. I read it in the early ’90s. In other words, it was pre-Interwebz and pre-cellphone. That’s what makes the plot believable in the first place. The kidnappers can’t get in touch with one of the families via home phone, which ups the tension. There’s no such thing as email or texts or any of that. People are out of touch with each other for hours on end. Parents can’t track their kids’ phones. No one actually worries until someone isn’t home for dinner. That was the norm back then and it made the story plausible. It made it exciting.

This is how kids used to know it was time to get home, even when I was a kid.

But when I started reading the Kindle version from Open Road Media, I noticed they added things. There were random mentions of cellphones and a lame attempt to explain a daughter writing letters to her dad because he wouldn’t answer her emails. It’s like the editors were trying to make the story more accessible to a modern audience, but all they managed to do was make the story ridiculous. Plus, they didn’t bother updating the speech or coming up with a more modern excuse for the cripple dude. I mean, how many kids have had polio recently? According to the CDC, we haven’t had a case in the U.S. since 1979. In 1966 when the book was published, the idea that an 18-year-old had contracted polio as a child wasn’t far-fetched at all. If you’re going to update a book, at least be consistent. The anachronisms in the version were eye-twitch inducing.

Basically.

In other words, avoid this version of Ransom. Try to find something earlier. I don’t know if other newer versions do the same thing, but if you run across mentions of cellphones or emails in your copy, know that it’s LIES. This is a good book if you can get into the time period. I don’t understand why they felt the need to update it. It wasn’t necessary. It just ticks me off. Anyway, as always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or similar stories here or on my social media pages!

Be A Writer They Said…

Hello, hello! Welcome to September. I suppose Thanksgiving and Christmas are some time next week with how fast time is moving. Before you know it, this year will be over and we’ll get to see what 2021 decides to throw at us. My hopes aren’t very high. But I’ve been in a blah mood anyway, so maybe I’m wrong and next year will be great. I’m in one of my burned out periods again. I haven’t worked on the novel in a while, so that’s not getting done this month. Oh well. I just pushed myself too hard too fast. Anyway, being a writer is exhausting. I thought I’d take this post as a chance to whine a bit. Sorry in advance.

Maybe, but maybe not.

And it’s true. Being a writer can be fun. Telling stories and reading and gathering with fellow writers to discuss writerly things can be amazing. But no one ever tells you that being a writer is so much more than writing. It’s the one thing I was disappointed about when it came to my MFA program: they glossed over everything included in being a professional writer that wasn’t writing or editing. I get it, it’s a writing program, but it would’ve been nice to be a little prepared for everything else. That one lecture on contracts and being told in our graduation semester that we needed to make a website didn’t quite cut it. I’m slowly figuring things out, though.

That website they randomly told me I had to make for my graduation semester? I had to design it myself because what beginning writer can afford a web designer? It has to be maintained and updated. And in order to make a website, you have to have content. Like a blog that you update weekly. And contact information. You can’t be a new anything nowadays without a social media presence. Those social media profiles need attention and updates just about every day if you want to keep your followers. It’s not exactly hard work, but all of this stuff takes up time. And if you’re popular and have tons of comments and emails to respond to, it could potentially get overwhelming. Sure, there are people you can hire for all that, but it costs money.

Yes, it can.

That’s not all. You also have to be an editor to your own work, a critic who can pull apart everyone else’s work and see what’s working and what isn’t, and a diligent student constantly improving their craft. After that, you have to sell your work and yourself to agents and publishers and readers alike. People have to like you to want to work with you, right? This usually entails submitting and querying lots of people who each have slightly different guidelines that you have to adhere to and getting told no by most of them. Then, if you’re lucky enough to make a deal, you have to pull on your lawyer pants and review every aspect of the contract to make sure everyone involved is getting a fair deal. It’s terrifying and exhausting and no one seems to want to talk about it all.

I know.

And to top it all off, there’s always someone pointing out that you should be actually writing, like everything else involved in being a writer doesn’t count as work. It’s enough to put anyone off writing for a while. But then you get the rare acceptance or encouraging note from a complete stranger or something like that and it’s all worth it again. So yeah, being a writer is exhausting and sometimes it’s fun, but it’s so much more than just writing. Be warned, then become a writer. It’ll be fun.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or questions or comments here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on BOOKED FOR DEATH

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s book review time. The book I requested from NetGalley was never approved or denied (I hate when they just leave you hanging like that), but on the day I decided I should just pick something from their “read now” list for August, I got an email saying a book I forgot I had pre-ordered was now available to read. It’s the first in Victoria Gilbert’s new series, so I figure it’s as good a book to review as any. Booked for Death is the debut volume from the new cozy mystery series A Booklovers B&B Mysteries. It came out on August 11th from Crooked Lane Books. Let’s get to the review!

Cute cover.

Booked for Death follows Charlotte Reed, a widow who recently inherited a book themed B&B from her mysterious great aunt, as she throws an week-long series of events celebrating the mystery writer Josephine Tey. During one of the events, one of the guests is found dead. He was an odious fellow, so there’s no shortage of suspects, including Charlotte herself. With the help of her strange older neighbor, Charlotte tries to unravel the mystery of the murder as well as her great aunt’s past.

Sounds pretty interesting, right? Meh. The plot is pretty predictable and the foreshadowing of the murder “twist” is super obvious. Especially if you’re used to reading these types of books. The whole thing with the great aunt was kind of out there. In my head, I know it’s probably happened to someone, but I wasn’t convinced it was “real” in this context, which kind of pulled me out of the story. It seemed like an unnecessary addition to make the story more interesting, but for me it just muddled things up. I rolled my eyes a lot once it was revealed.

Basically.

The characters. I didn’t really connect with them the way I was hoping I would. Charlotte is wishy-washy. As soon as the murder happens she thinks everyone did it, including her friend and employees, then it seems like she wants to clear her friend of suspicion, then maybe not. And back and forth like that with just about everyone, but she never takes anyone off her list until the night of the big reveal. It was kind of annoying. I think I liked just about everyone else more than Charlotte. I didn’t dislike her. I was just meh about her.

The world building. It was a bit much. I forgot how much Victoria Gilbert likes to describe houses. I get it. There is beadboard in every single building in town. Every house has gingerbread moulding. At least shake things up a bit because those are basically the same descriptions as the buildings in the Blue Ridge Library Mysteries. This book has a lot more in the way of street directions though, which would be pretty neat if I were in Beaufort, NC and could retrace Charlotte’s steps.

This is what I imagine all the houses look like.

The writing itself is decent enough. The dialogue is a little stilted sometimes and it seems like people say things for the reader’s advantage rather than slipping those tidbits more naturally into the story. Beyond that, it’s a smooth read.

Ultimately, I wasn’t super into Booked for Death, but it wasn’t bad. I liked it enough that I’ll probably give book two a try just to see if it gets any better. If not, I’ll give it up.

starstarstarstar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Probably closer to 2.5 if I’m being honest. If you enjoy cozy mysteries and want something with an older protagonist (42) without the typical romance subplot, check it out.

How Writers Are Created

Hello, hello! How is everyone today? I’m a little annoyed because WordPress has forced an upgrade to the block editor and I have no idea what I’m doing, so if my posts look wonky for a while, that’s why. I don’t like change, in case you haven’t noticed. Anyway, I don’t want to rant about that. I want to talk about those magical creatures known as writers. While I’m convinced some of us just naturally spring from the sea or earth or a river of lava, most of us are created. It’s a long, drawn out process. And there’s no one right way to make a writer. But I thought I’d share a few starting points in case you want to try making one of your own.

Mostly, except I know what I really do. I think nothing else.

In no particular order:

1. Introduce your writer-in-progress to reading early. Let them explore different genres and styles until they discover what they have an affinity for by themselves. I admit that I came to like reading later than most of my writer friends, but when I finally found my way to it, I glommed on obsessively. So, even if your writer is resistant early on, don’t give up. They might just be a late bloomer. However, avoid pushing too much in genres they’ve already expressed a dislike of or they may become resentful toward reading in general.

2. Teach your writer-in-progress the art of productive procrastination. What is productive procrastination? It’s when you avoid doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing by doing something else you’re supposed to do at some point. For instance, answering important emails instead of calling someone back or cleaning the kitchen instead of writing or things like that. It’s really the only way writers get anything done.

Yup.

3. Instill in your writer-in-progress the idea that the worst someone can do is say no, so there’s no real harm in asking. It makes the whole submission and querying processes that much easier. Not to mention asking for beta readers. Sure, all of these people might say no, but you won’t get a yes if you don’t put yourself out there. It’s a crucial skill for writers to master.

4. Expose your writer-in-progress to rejection and teach them that it isn’t the end of the world. This one goes hand-in-hand with number 3. It’s not enough to warn your writer that they’re going to get told no. A lot. You also need to teach them that while it’s okay to be sad, it’s not okay to argue with the no or have a temper tantrum over it. No means no. Accept it and move on to the next person. If they’re lucky, your writer might even get some helpful feedback with the no. Teach them to appreciate it when it happens and to consider using it if it helps improve their work.

Be okay with no.

5. Let your writer-in-progress hoard things like books and journals and pens even if they don’t use them. Writers are like little dragons. We each have things we hoard. Some of it isn’t even related to writing. That’s okay. It’s a source of joy. They’ll need something like that when all the rejections start rolling in.

I could go on with this list, but I need to go get some reading done. As always, feel free to share your own tips for creating a writer or your comments and thoughts about my list here or on my social media pages!