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!

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!

Day Off!

Hello, hello! Dad’s getting ready to stain the front hallway (right outside my room) and today he’s using something that might have fumes. Instead of being trapped in my room with potential stink, I’m going to chill in the living room where I can escape out into the backyard if need be. My computer battery is crap, so I’ll only have my phone with me. I hate writing on my phone. Needless to say, I’ll either be watching TV or reading today. Enjoy your week! I’ll be back next Wednesday.

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That Explains A Lot

Hello, hello! It’s already August and I have no idea where the time is going or what I’ve done while it was passing. I admit that I’ve been majorly slacking on writing. It’s not that I’m feeling burnt out or anything, but I still can’t find the motivation. The slew of rejections doesn’t exactly help get me pumped to write, but I was expecting them, so I’m not super depressed by them either. I’d just rather be reading or watching TV with Dad or something. Other than the actual writing, I’m still doing everything else I should be doing. Including reading. I thought I’d take a chance to ramble a bit about the books I’ve been rereading from years ago.

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Accurate.

Along with my books for review and other new-to-me stories, I’ve been working my way through a list of things I’ve been wanting to read again. So far, I’ve made it through C.S. Lewis’s the Chronicles of Narnia and am currently working on The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. Other books I eventually want to get to include Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, the Anne of Green Gables series, His Dark Materials, and some other standalones. If you’re interested, the full list (minus the things I’ve already reread) can be found on my GoodReads profile.

Anyway, I’ve definitely had some thoughts while rereading these things. First, the Chronicles of Narnia. I knew they were on the misogynistic and racist side because C.S. Lewis was a man of his time, but I really didn’t remember them being as bad about it as they are. All of the girls do amazing things, but they’re constantly written off as doing the best they can for a girl. Then there’s the whole thing with the Calormenes being stereotypical heathens that basically need Aslan (Jesus) in order to become good people. There were also some slurs that I didn’t remember being in there. But I’m not too sensitive to these things, so I still found the stories entertaining and fun. Misogyny and racism existed. They still exist. They show up in literature, especially in certain time periods. I understand that and accept that if I read stuff from back then, I’ll run across these kinds of things. I’m just saying it’s interesting how my younger mind glanced over this stuff.

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The other thing I noticed with the Chronicles of Narnia was the religious aspect. I know there were things that always made me uncomfortable with this series as a kid, but I never quite put my finger on it. Rereading it now, I realize it was probably the same things that makes me uncomfortable about religion in general. Aslan abducts kids, forces them to do his bidding before he’ll send them home, and for some reason they love him for it. It’s all a little brainwashy and super creepy. Not to mention the whole Aslan versus Tash thing. It comes down to “my god’s better than yours” and Aslan literally explains that no matter who people worship, good things are done for Aslan while bad things are done for Tash. No other god can be good, I guess. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind that the Chronicles of Narnia are pretty much just Bible retellings, but the creepiness of it all still shows through.

That’s enough about C.S. Lewis. The book I’m currently reading, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, is the one that got me into reading and that explains a lot about me. There are blood and guts and a mean voice in Trisha’s head and curse words and all of the fun stuff I still enjoy. There’s a decapitated deer (head first, body later). A disemboweled fawn. Butterflies that turn into creepy hooded people who claim to be sent by various gods. The signs of a “special thing” lurking just out of sight. Not to mention all of the regular scary things in forests like snakes and bugs. And I’m not even finished with it yet. I remember some of this stuff, but at other points I have no recollection of it. The joys of gore. I still love it.

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It’s weird to look back at things and see what the mind has retained versus what it has purged over the years. Makes me wonder exactly which tidbits helped shape my mind. Anyway, what are some books from your earlier years that you’ve reread recently? Did they surprise you? Did you notice anything about yourself? Do you still like them? As always, feel free to comment here or on my social media pages!

Disability “Pride” Month

Hello, hello! July is chugging right along. How is everyone doing? I’m not as productive as I should be, but I’m still getting stuff done. I switched both of my remaining yearly check ups to televisits, so I don’t have to worry about going to UT Southwestern this year (huzzah!). Otherwise, I’ve been procrastinating and writing and reading and submitting and querying. It sounds like a lot, but I could be writing more. Anyway, I recently discovered that July is Disability “Pride” Month. I have conflicting feelings about that name, so I thought I’d ramble about it for a bit.

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It’s a thing.

I’ve never really been comfortable with pride months/weeks/days/whatever. Especially when it’s referring to something genetic. I can’t think of one good thing that has come from people being proud of their genes. It’s creepy and you literally did nothing to be proud of. If anything, you should be proud of your parents for having sex and making you.

Not all disabilities are genetic! I know this. If you survived an accident or something, you deserve to be proud of yourself. You even deserve to be proud of yourself for living with a disability. It’s hard work. I should know. My issue is that “Disability Pride Month” makes it sound like we should be proud of being disabled. I mean, if you’re proud of your disability, more power to you. But I’m not. I had no choice in the matter, so why should I be proud of it? I’m proud of myself for earning an MFA in creative writing. I’m proud of myself for trying again and again despite the plethora of rejections I receive. I’m proud of myself when I come up with a solution for something like reaching a pen that’s an inch too far away. But my disability isn’t something I’m proud of. It’s neither here nor there. I just have to deal with it. 

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Personally, I’d rather have a Disability History Month. I’d love to see the TV stations doing specials on people with disabilities or airing little factoids during commercial breaks like they do for other history months. And I don’t mean inspiration porn type stuff. I want to learn about Helen Keller the activist, the first blind and deaf woman to earn a BA, the author, etc. I want to hear about how Sir Anthony Hopkins delves into a role and how his acting style may have been influenced by his (until late-in-life) undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome. I want to see something about Justin Dart Jr. (a survivor of polio who ended up in a wheelchair because of it) who played a major role in getting the Americans with Disabilities Act passed thirty years ago. There are so many interesting people with disabilities, so it would be neat to actually learn about them without the whole inspo-porn twist that gets thrown into similar stories.

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That’s just how I feel. The word choice creeps me out, but I’m okay with having a month where people get to learn about people with disabilities. I know some people will get in huff about “why isn’t there an Able-bodied Pride/History Month?” but whatever. People just like to complain when they feel left out even though it’s not really meant to exclude them, but instead, it’s an invitation to learn about something outside of their bubble. As usual, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

The Great Mask Debate

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing? Last week, I had to go to the doctor’s office because I hadn’t seen her in over a year and I needed a prescription (she doesn’t do televisits). I wore a mask that Dad had custom-made to work with my ventilator, plus I wore a face guard for extra protection. I looked pretty stupid, but that’s better than getting Covid. Anyway, as many of you know, I’m in Texas. It’s a hotbed for the virus right now, but a good chunk of people are still making a fuss about wearing masks. So, I thought I would take the time to articulate my thoughts on some of the most common arguments against masks that I hear.

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At least my Cowboy Bebop shirt is cool.

1. “Being forced to wear a mask infringes on my civil liberties!”
Two questions: a) What are “civil liberties?” and b) Exactly which liberties do masks infringe upon? Let’s start with question a. Civil liberties are individual rights that protect us from tyranny and laws that are not created for the good of the community as a whole. In other words, your civil liberties are stuff like the freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, freedom of the press, the right to vote, etc. Mask laws are for the good of the community as a whole and don’t stop people from saying whatever they want or anything else like that. So, question b is a trick question because masks don’t affect your civil liberties at all. That argument only makes you sound like an uneducated sheep who heard someone else say it and thought it sounded legit. It’s not.

2. “Young, healthy people aren’t killed by Covid, so they don’t need to wear masks.”
First off, that information is false. Young and healthy people are dying from it too. But the biggest issue with that statement is the fact that masks are not meant to protect the wearer. They’re more effective at keeping the wearer from unknowingly spreading the disease (any similarly transmitted disease, not just Covid). Basically, it’s a matter of protecting the people around you at the expense of your own comfort.

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3. “Masks are hot and uncomfortable, so I don’t wanna wear one.”
I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way about clothes, but we still have to wear those in public. But this selfish argument stems from the fact that America is an individual-centric society instead of a community-centric one. Many of us are raised to put our own needs and desires above everyone else’s. So, the thought process of “I’ll endure some mild discomfort to protect my fellow citizens” is literally a foreign concept to many Americans. It’s not an excuse, but apparently it’s a hard habit to break. Add it to the misinformation from the above argument and the selfishness just gets worse and worse.

4. “There’s so much conflicting data.”
Is there, though? I mean, are you actually approaching this topic from a research perspective or are you just looking for “studies” that confirm your bias? Are you looking at peer-reviewed articles and studies with appropriate sample sizes? Let’s say you’re writing a research paper and you require ten sources… are you sifting through (and ignoring) hundreds of studies that don’t support your hypothesis just to find ten that vaguely support your hypothesis? Have these studies been replicated with similar findings? Or are you just spouting “data” you saw on some Joe Schmoe’s website? The data in favor of masks is pretty overwhelming if you look at legitimate studies. Stop being willfully ignorant.

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5. “Covid is a hoax and masks are the Lefties newest way of trying to control us through the government!”
I see you want to go full conspiracy theorist on me. Challenge accepted. So, the government is using masks to control you? They give you your own personal identification number at birth and track it until the day you die. They make you register every major purchase you make (homes, vehicles, etc). They allow tech companies to install bugs in our homes and vehicles to track our every movement and purchase preferences (because every smart device we own is listening to us). But, yeah. Masks are how they’re controlling us! It has nothing to do with the fact that they want to keep us divided about every little thing to distract us from how inept all of them are at actually running a country. The conspiracy theorist in me wouldn’t be surprised at all if the conflicting reports on the effectiveness of masks were all funded by the government just to sow dissent among us. But instead of erring on the side of caution and wearing your masks while you take a good hard look at how poorly the government is actually handling everything, you’d rather throw hissy fits in Costco. Congrats on being a pawn of the government! /end conspiracy theorist mode

There are other arguments I could address, but writing this post gave me a headache, so I’m going to stop and do something happy for a bit. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages. Disclaimer: arguments based around facts are completely acceptable even if they get a little heated, but if it devolves into name calling and rudeness, I will intervene.

Adjusted Goals

Hello, hello! Welcome to July! How is everyone doing? Can you believe it’s already July? This year has flown by despite (or maybe because of) everything going on. Anyway, I stayed up late with Dad while he had some stuff on the smoker last night (a couple of briskets, pulled pork, and a “prime” rib… it’s okay to be jealous), so we got a late start today, which means I’m too lazy to come up with something decent to blog about. So, since it’s actually the first of the month and I haven’t done a goals post in a while, I’m just going to give you a quick update on new goals and how my old ones are going.

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Here are my goals from January and how I’ve been doing with that/what’s changed.

1. From January: Finish revising DS1.
Status: Complete. I finished in April instead of March because I got lazy, but I finished nonetheless and I love this book.
Updated Goal: Write a first draft of DS2. I waffled about starting this book until I see how DS1 does, but ultimately decided that it’s better to have a draft started and have no one want it than to procrastinate and have nothing if someone gets interested and wants to know where I’m at with book two. I’m aiming to have the first draft done by September 15th at the latest.

2. From January: Read 30 books.
Status: I have read 20 books so far this year. Six were from my “to re-read” pile, nine have been books I’ve reviewed (no idea how that happened), and the other five were new to me, but not necessarily new.
Updated Goal: My official goal is still 30 books. I still have six months of books to review. I also want to re-read at least two more books. And I’ll squeeze in at least two new to me books. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to more in the latter two categories, but I won’t push it.

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Amazon, but yeah.

3. From January: Keep submitting.
Status: I haven’t missed a week yet.
Updated Goal: The goal is relatively the same, submit two short pieces to magazines or anthologies every week. I normally do this on Mondays, but I’ve decided it doesn’t matter which day as long as it gets done every week.

4. January Goal: Query 100 agents.
Status: In progress. I’ve queried 16 agents thus far and received a couple of form rejections as well as a couple of really encouraging personal rejections.
Updated Goal: I’m still going to query 100 agents unless I find one. I send out five queries a week and I will participate in appropriate Twitter pitch sessions. If I can’t find an agent, there are also a few publishers I will try querying before I give up and move to a new project or debate self-publishing.

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Accurate.

5. January Goal: Crochet.
Status: In limbo. I haven’t crocheted in a couple of months.
Updated Goal: I want to finish the shawl I’m working on and a hat by the end of the year. I’m just weird and can’t find the motivation for it. But I will get back to it soon.

Those are my revised goals for now. What are some of your goals? How have they changed since earlier in the year? As always, feel free to leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

You Might Be A Writer If…

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone’s June going? It’s moving along pretty quickly for me. I’ve already written next week’s post. It’s part of a blog tour for the paperback release of Jaquira Diaz’s memoir Ordinary Girls. So, look forward to that! The following week is my normal book review. In other words, the rest of my month is pretty well planned out blog-wise. That just leaves this week’s post. I have nothing new to ramble about on the writing front, so I think I’ll just do a random list post about things that might mean you’re a writer.

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My friend tagged me in this a couple of days ago and it’s not wrong.

1. You might be a writer if you think about and/or talk about writing a lot, but procrastinate when it comes to actually doing the writing.

2. You might be a writer if your to-be-read pile randomly switches genres because you’re thinking about writing something new and want to see how the tropes work and what types of topics are currently popular.

3. You might be a writer if you buy a bunch of fancy pens, but only use cheap BiCs because they write so well and no one cares if you lose them.

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My newest journal. I named her Melusina. Made by Sullivan Book Arts.

4. You might be a writer if you have a bunch of empty journals sitting around the house and almost exclusively use the computer for writing, but buy new journals anyway because they’re pretty.

5. You might be a writer if you get caught staring at people while you’re trying to figure out which character of yours they resemble.

6. You might be a writer if you’re watching TV/reading a book/listening to music/etc. and have to start over because you got distracted by a certain word or phrase that you want to work into your own story.

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7. You might be a writer if you buy books just because the covers are pretty and rationalize it by telling people to look at these great examples of current cover trends in certain genres.

8. You might be a writer if you drunk purchase fifteen books in genres you don’t even like, but decide to keep them because you can never have enough books.

9. You might be a writer if that random piece of conversation you heard somewhere in public becomes fodder for your latest story.

10. You might be a writer if you turn down real-life plans because you have a date with the voices in your head.

I think that’s enough. It’s time for you to jump in with your own examples. Not a writer? What are some indications that you might be a… whatever your job or hobby is? Artist? Crocheter? Mathematician? Whatever. It’s fun. As always, feel free to share your lists, comments, thoughts, or anything here or on my social media pages!

The Things I Do For Procrastination

Hello, hello! Welcome to June. Can you believe it’s already this far into the year? I’m still stuck back in March somewhere. I’ll be honest: motivation for productive things is hard right now. I know I should be writing something, but I’m also nervous because the only thing I’m drawn to is DS2. I’m currently searching for an agent for DS1 and I don’t want what happened with G&G and its sequel to happen this time. I don’t want to get deep into DS2 only to end up with a bunch of rejections for DS1, get disgusted with everything, and trunk them both. That’s too depressing. But I’m also not excited about any of my other ideas at the moment, so I’ll probably cave and start DS2 tomorrow. I’m just procrastinating and I know it. Just like I procrastinated before writing this post. And since I have nothing else to talk about, I thought I would explain what a day of procrastination looks like for me.

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When I get up, it’s a long drawn out process during which I usually have time to play my three mindless games on Facebook for a bit. During that time Dad makes breakfast. We watch an hour of TV while we eat, then we go out back and feed the fish (we have a pond). Afterwards, Dad usually goes out to work in his shop. That’s when the procrastination truly begins.

Today (as in the day I’m writing this, not the day you’re reading it), I came inside and did the crossword puzzle. I checked my email. Got something from Panera Bread about contactless delivery, which they’ve emailed me about before but never delivered to our address, so I checked again figuring it would be the same as usual. To my surprise, they now deliver to us! So, I spent twenty minutes perusing their grocery menu and normal menu even though I know what they have. I was that bored and desperate to avoid working. Sue me. Then, I decided to read a chapter of the book I’m currently reading to review on the 24th.

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It’s something so far.

I followed that up with slowly wandering around the living room and kitchen, then staring out the back door for a few minutes. I usually tell myself it’s because I need to give my eyes a break from the computer screen, but really it’s because I don’t know what to write and hope a change of scenery will help. It never does. And before I returned to my room, I went into the dining room to stare at the crochet stuff I haven’t touched in almost a month. It was a mess. The shawl was all scrunched up and the hook was dangling from the last stitch I made. Instead of waiting for Dad to come inside and help me straighten everything out (which would have taken all of five seconds), I spent fifteen minutes getting the hook into position and shoving everything around as best I could with my back scratcher so that it’s ready for me when I want to work on it again, but won’t fall off the table in the mean time.

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When I noticed it was almost six, I decided to get serious and write this post. This isn’t an unusual day for me. Granted, when I’m in the middle of writing a book or short story, I force myself to get serious closer to 4:30, maybe 5:00. But that’s only because I write more words and sprinkle in random breaks to stare out the back door or check my email or scroll through social media for five minutes.

What about you? What’s a normal day of procrastination like for you? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Slacking Off…

Hello, hello! I have nothing to ramble about this week and I just can’t find the motivation to force something. Since my last post, I’ve prepared everything I need to start my agent hunt (query letter, a full synopsis, a partial synopsis, and one last round of quick edits). All I need to do to get ready for PitDark is write a couple of Twitter pitches and schedule the posts for Thursday (which I will be doing today). Otherwise, life is the same. Nothing exciting is going on, so I’m going to slack off on today’s post. A friend tagged me on Facebook to post the covers of ten books I love (one book a day with no explanation) to ward off the Covid-19 quarantine boredom with something positive. Or something like that. Anyway, I’ve already forgotten to post for two days, so I figured I’d just post them all here.

So, here are the covers of ten books I love in no particular order.

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There you go. Ten books that I love for whatever reasons. I tried to include some I haven’t mentioned before, but a bunch of the ones you know about snuck in anyway. As usual, feel free to comment or post your own lists here or on my social media pages!