Summer Reading

Hello, hello! It’s June already. How’s everyone doing? Are you ready for this month? I don’t really have much planned. I’m going to try to find a couple of more publishers to submit to before I decide whether to trunk DS1 or do something else with it. Going to try to force myself to write more, but I’ve had no luck there. Mostly, I’m going to read. So, I present you with a list of books that I hope to get to over the next few months. This doesn’t include the books I’ll review, so I probably won’t get through them all, but maybe.

1. Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen. It’s one of the books I’m currently reading and I love it so far (I’m about halfway through). Luckily, book two is due out in September, so I don’t have to wait too long for more.

Book blurb:
A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable–she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

2. In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. I recently read something else by them (So this is Ever After), which was super predictable, but adorable and basically the fluffy stuff of happiness. That’s all I’m really hoping for from this one too.

Book blurb:
Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

3. The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. I’m pretty sure I still remember the important bits from The Gilded Ones, but I might have to Google stuff. We’ll see.

Book blurb:
It’s been six months since Deka freed the goddesses in the ancient kingdom of Otera and discovered who she really is… but war is waging across the kingdom, and the real battle has only just begun. For there is a dark force growing in Otera—a merciless power that Deka and her army must stop.
 
Yet hidden secrets threaten to destroy everything Deka has known. And with her own gifts changing, Deka must discover if she holds the key to saving Otera… or if she might be its greatest threat.
 
The Merciless Ones is the second thrilling installment of the epic fantasy series in which a young heroine fights against a world that would dare tame her.

4. Three Shots to the Wind by Sherry Harris. It’s a beachy cozy mystery, so definitely appropriate for summer. Not one of my absolute favorite series, but cute enough that I keep reading it.

Book blurb:
Saloon owner Chloe Jackson appears to have a secret admirer. She’s pouring drinks at the Sea Glass Saloon in Emerald Cove when an airplane flies by above the beach with a banner reading I LOVE YOU CHLOE JACKSON. She immediately rules out Rip Barnett. They are in the early stages of dating and no one has said the L word. Then a bouquet of lilacs—her favorite flower—is delivered to the bar, followed by an expensive bottle of her favorite sparkling wine. It couldn’t be…
 
Sure enough, her ex-fiancé from Chicago has flown down to Florida for an accountants’ convention. But is he trying to mix business with pleasure and win her back? Unfortunately he’s not in a hotel conference room, he’s floating facedown in the lake next to her house, clutching a photo of Chloe. Who murders an accountant on a business trip—it just doesn’t add up. When Rip becomes the prime suspect, Chloe is determined to find the secret murderer. But if she isn’t careful, it may be closing time and lights out for her…

5. Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez. I haven’t read a graphic novel in a while. Well… technically I guess I have. Do webtoons count? Anyway, I was just looking for something fun and ran across the alternate cover for this by Kevin Wada (posted below) and immediately bought the book (because yum). Don’t judge me.

Book blurb:
Now that college is over, English graduate Ben Cook is on the job hunt looking for something…anything…related to his passion for reading and writing. According to the hiring committees, he doesn’t have enough experience. But when he stumbles upon a “Now Hiring—No Experience Necessary” sign outside a restaurant, Ben jumps at the chance to land his first job. He’s actually not so bad in the kitchen, plus, he can keep looking for a writing job in the meantime. But when he begins developing a crush on Liam, one of the super dreamy chefs at the restaurant, he’ll start to feel torn between wanting to stay and cook and following his original post-college plan to be a writer. Watch things start to really heat up in the kitchen in this queer YA debut graphic novel!

I have other books I want to read, but these plus the review books will be more than I can get through. Probably. What’s on your summer reading list? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

Poetry Month Again

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what to blog about, but absolutely nothing is coming to me. I doubt you want another post about Mardi so soon. She’s doing good. Things are quiet. Dad’s redoing some stuff in the kitchen (pics when he’s done). It’s gloomy and there are some storms supposedly heading this way. And I’m super tired for no reason. Even my Pepsi isn’t helping. Anyway, I realized it’s April, which means it’s poetry month. Instead of rambling about nothing, I thought I would share one of my favorite Poe poems.

The Sleeper

By: Edgar Allan Poe

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin moulders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps!—and lo! where lies
Irene, with her Destinies!

Oh, lady bright! can it be right—
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop—
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully—so fearfully—
Above the closed and fringéd lid
’Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!
Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold—
Some vault that oft hath flung its black
And wingéd pannels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o’er the crested palls
Of her grand family funerals—

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portals she hath thrown,
In childhood, many an idle stone—
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne’er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groaned within.

Thoughts on CHEDDAR OFF DEAD

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this week? Allergies are kicking my ass, but otherwise things are okay. I’ve been on a music kick. It’s about the only thing I can focus on with my sinuses throbbing. But enough complaining (maybe). It’s the last Wednesday of the month! That means it’s book review time. I went back to the safety of a cozy mystery this month. Cheddar Off Dead is the first in Korina Moss’s Cheese Shop mystery series. It was released yesterday (the 29th) by St. Martin’s Press. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s do the thing!

Cute cover and pretty relevant to the story.

Cheddar Off Dead follows Willa Bauer, cheesemonger and owner of Yarrow Glen’s newest shop, Curds and Whey. A cheese shop. She’s new to town and inexperienced when it comes to putting down roots and making lasting friendships. It doesn’t help that a well-known (and severely disliked) critic is murdered outside her shop with a custom cheese knife she had planned to give out at an event. Not trusting the detective, Willa feels compelled to clear her name before any lasting damage can be done to her reputation. The problem? Her investigation means potentially alienating the handful of people she’s started bonding with, including the attractive mead maker across the street.

Let’s start with the plot. Instead of our heroine returning home after a bad breakup, she decides to start over in a new town. There’s still a bad breakup, but it’s unclear how recent it was. A lot of her past is unclear timeline-wise. Anyway, her newness doesn’t stop Willa from finding the best friend who encourages her shenanigans. There are two potential love interests. Future love triangles? Probably, but I doubt it’ll be the fun kind. Of course there’s an overprotective detective. Plenty of red herrings. I admit I didn’t catch onto the murderer until later, mostly because we don’t learn anything about them until pretty much everyone else is ruled out. I honestly felt a little cheated by that, but this isn’t the first cozy to do it that way. I’m just glad it wasn’t a random person who only got mentioned once. They’re there throughout the book, just not really expanded on until super late. So, standard cozy fare with a couple of little twists.

The pacing was off. The first third was beyond slow. Like, if I had been reading it for fun, I probably would’ve given up after three chapters. It was that slow. But it picked up after a while. I think when the cheese talk finally ran its course, everything smoothed out. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning about cheese, but when it’s not even interesting facts, it gets boring. But less is more. The first third of the novel was like cheese info dumps. Later on, there was still a bunch of cheese talk, but it was spread out in a way that felt natural.

Most of the characters were likeable. Willa occasionally annoyed me, but that’s just because she’s a busybody. That’s why most cozy mystery heroines annoy me. Otherwise, she was fine. I preferred Baz, Archie, and Mrs. Schultz. I would’ve loved to learn more about them. Detective Heath was a little flat, but he has potential. Same with Roman. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this because I love cheese, but there could’ve been a bigger focus on character development and less on cheese.

The writing was fine. Like I said, the pacing was off and the characters were flat. But the actual words were fine. Nothing memorable. I finished it about a week ago and am already forgetting most of it. Ah well.

Ultimately, I was just meh about Cheddar Off Dead. If I come across the next book, I’ll pick it up to see if it’s any better, but I doubt I’ll actively look for it.

starstarstarstar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Two and a half, really. If you’re super into cheese and enjoy average cozies, pick it up. But you’re not missing anything if you don’t.

Escaping Reality

Hello, hello! How’s everything going? Hard to believe we’re already this far into March. It actually feels like a super busy month and I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because it’s the Jailbird’s (my oldest sister) birthday, so I had to do a couple of extra things for her instead of forgetting she exists like I usually do (yes, I’m a horrible sister, but I’m okay with that). Going to pick up new glasses today. But otherwise, it’s just my usual schedule. I don’t know why I feel overwhelmed. All I want to do is escape into a fantasy world. So, since I have nothing else to ramble about, let’s talk about methods of escape!

This! This is why everything is overwhelming right now.

1. Music. I went from barely listening during the day for months to blasting it just about every time I’m in the house alone. I’ve been on a Beatles, Kansas, Queen, and Buck-Tick kick lately. It’s weird because I only like two Kansas songs and a handful of Queen songs (gasp! Blasphemy, I know. Sorry Freddie). Oh, and like everyone else my age and younger, I’ve been obsessive about the Encanto soundtrack. It helps that I usually play mindless games while listening to music as loud as it will go. I can just listen and sing along and not think about anything in particular. It’s nice.

2. Reading. I actually found another series to be obsessed with already (but Simon and Baz are still my current favorite boys). The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black. I’ve had book one (The Cruel Prince) sitting in my TBR pile for like two years now, so I decided to give it a try. I figured I’d read it and move on to something else I owned, but no. I had to buy the next two books in the series and binge them. I’m currently halfway through book two (The Wicked King) and not regretting my choice to spend money at all, which is weird. And apparently there are at least two other books that are connected to the series that I will eventually talk myself into buying. Reading is an expensive habit.

3. Beta reading. It’s technically reading, but I get to be useful (I hope). What’s beta reading? It’s when you read a friend’s (or however you’re related) manuscript and offer feedback. So, not only do I get to read an awesome story, I get to offer encouragement and advice on how to make the story stronger. It’s a really helpful thing for me because 1) I get to feel like I’m actually useful to someone (you know who you are) and 2) it gets me into a revision mindset, so it’s easier to come at my own work with the editor scissors. But mostly, I get to escape into a cool story.

4. Staring into space. I basically just tell myself stories when this happens. Or I relive stupid moments that I’d rather not think about. My brain is an asshole sometimes. This usually happens while I’m trying to fall asleep or if I’m watching TV and can’t get into the show. I find it happening more often lately, but I try to shake it off. Meh.

Definitely the fourth one.

Anyhoo, how’s it going by you? How are you coping with the state of the world? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or questions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on THE CICADA TREE

Howdy, howdy! I hope everyone is doing okay as February comes to a close. It’s been a strange month where each day bleeds into the next without warning, but at the same time, it feels like the month is dragging. No idea why. Anyway, it’s book review time. I stepped outside my comfort zone a little bit this time with an historical fiction book. The Cicada Tree by Robert Gwaltney was released yesterday (the 22nd) from Moonshine Cove Publishing. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it.

Nice cover.

The Cicada Tree follows Analeise Newell, an 11-year-old who is trying to navigate life in 1956 Georgia. Emotions run high as she struggles to figure out how everything she loves fits together: her friendship with Etta Mae, her crush on Abel Darlington, and her newfound obsession with the Mayfields. As Analeise digs into her obsession, she finds more darkness than she bargains for in that Mayfield shine she’s so attracted to. It’s all set against the backdrop of summer in Georgia when the whine of the cicadas can either lull you to sleep or drive you crazy.

I’ll be honest, this book wasn’t for me. I’m all for southern gothic and blending supernatural into regular fiction, but something about this book kept me from getting into it. I think it’s because the ages of the characters just didn’t feel right. Analeise and the rest of the kids all seemed more like teenagers than 11-year-olds. I’d go as young as 14, but honestly I kept thinking they were closer to 16 or so. Yes, I realize that younger kids can be stupidly vicious too, but the vocabulary and most of the actions just felt older. There were a few scenes where I thought “okay, these are younger kids,” but they were few and far between.

The fact that the book was written in first person from Analeise’s perspective didn’t help with the age issue. If we’re that close to a character, I expect the narrative voice to fit the age of the character, but it didn’t. Maybe the story is being told from grown-Analeise’s perspective. If that’s the case, fine. But there was nothing to suggest that in the book. At least not the version I had access to. I saw somewhere that the final version is supposed to have an epilogue, so maybe it becomes clearer in there.

Actually, an epilogue would be really helpful because the ending left things super vague and not even in a “create your own ending” kind of way. It was completely unsatisfying. Like, I might look for it at my library just to see if anything is cleared up in the final version. I’m not tempted enough to buy it, but I’ll definitely check the library system for it.

The writing itself was a little purple for me. It wasn’t bad by any means, just a tad overly descriptive for my tastes. And I normally talk about the characters, but I had zero sympathy for any of them, except maybe Abel. He was an okay kid. Etta Mae was too angelic. Everyone else was too selfish for me to get behind.

Ultimately, I wasn’t a fan of The Cicada Tree. Maybe I’ll like it a little better if I see the epilogue, but I doubt it. There was too much I didn’t care for. If I come across something else by Gwaltney, I’d look at it because the writing was okay, but I won’t be searching for anything.

starstarstar outlinestar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. If you’re into southern gothic and are interested in the premise, give it a shot. If not, you’re not missing anything.

Obsessive Reading

Hello, hello! We’ve survived the first month of 2022. Good job! How’s everyone doing? Things are okay here. I finished the first draft of a story, but I haven’t started revisions yet. I need to read through it and decide whether it wants to be a novella or a short story because it’s currently that weird length that no one wants. Too long for most short venues, but not long enough for novella venues. Probably just needs a hefty trim. I’ll figure it out. But I keep getting distracted by reading, which is what I want to ramble about today. Obsessive reading. When books take over everything. You know what I mean.

When I was younger, pretty much everything I read pulled me in. Except the stuff I was forced to read. But Harry Potter, anything Stephen King, Neil Gaiman. Stuff like that. I’d get obsessive over it. The books were all I thought about. If I wasn’t reading, I wanted to be reading. And eventually, I burned myself out. I even went a few years without reading anything except the books I was assigned in school. It was hard to start reading for fun again. Even in grad school, I read every day, but I wasn’t particularly into it. It was weird.

Honestly, it’s still weird. I’ve been out of grad school far too long and reading is still mostly a chore. I’m usually reading two books at any given time, one to review and one for fun. If I finish either of them ahead of schedule, I have another book ready to go. But it is a schedule. For the review books, I literally count the days and figure out how many pages I have to read to finish with enough time to write the review. And it’s rare for me to deviate from that plan unless the book is super good. My for fun books usually get my attention for half an hour before bed. And I’m okay with this. Usually.

But occasionally, I run into a book or series that demands my undivided attention, like the series I’m reading now (the Simon Snow trilogy by Rainbow Rowell). I’m seriously obsessed. You have no idea how much effort it took to pull myself away to write this post. I’m a little ashamed of it, to be honest. But this feeling makes me so very weirdly happy. It’s an escape. And it’s so rare lately that I forget what it feels like until it happens again. I can only remember two other series (the trilogy with Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor) and a stand-alone (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell) making me feel this way in the past fifteen years or so. I have to enjoy it while it lasts.

And now, I’m going to force myself to read the two chapters I need to read in my review book, then slip back into Simon and Baz’s world until dinner. What books or series have you obsessed over lately? Are you the type to obsess? If not, what drives you to read? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or questions here or on my social media pages!

Birthday Bragging

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this week? I can’t believe we’re already in the down swing of January. Next week is my end of the month book review. Time just isn’t going to slow down anymore. But I’ve been writing. Still only a quarter of what I used to write, but it’s been steady and it’s getting easier to start each time, so hopefully I can work my way back up soon. Aside from that, I have nothing writerly to talk about. So, I thought I’d share my birthday swag with you.

Food and sharp things, you perverts.

For my birthday meal, Dad made a pastrami and smoked mac-n-cheese! Yum… And when I say he made a pastrami, it started out as a brisket. He corned the beef, then did the magic that makes it into a pastrami. I don’t know the technical details. It’s magic! And it includes smoking it for around 20 hours. With his new smoker, he should’ve been able to set it and mostly forget it, but the fan/billows thing decided it didn’t want to work properly, so he didn’t get much sleep that night since he had to check on it periodically. I don’t have any pictures, but there are five more bags worth of meat in the freezer (a couple of meals each). The mac-n-cheese had four different cheeses, totaling about two pounds. A panko breadcrumb topping. Some beer. Such cheesy. Much yum. You can be jealous. It’s okay.

Then, a couple of days ago, I got a box from Enza in the mail. It was the New Years in Kamakura box from Sakuraco! There’s a lovely set of chopsticks and a bunch of snacks and some tea. It’s from Japan, so of course all the labels are in Japanese. I know a little of the language, but not that much. I didn’t keep up with my studies (ごめんなさい, 先生). Luckily, a booklet is included that tells you what everything is, tells you a bit about the region everything comes from, and is very specific about how to make the tea. As of the time I’m writing this, I haven’t had a chance to try anything, but I’m looking forward to it!

Borrowed from the website.

Yesterday, a package arrived from the Ukraine. Dad got me my first axe! See, at least one person reads my posts. He started looking after he read this one. It’s beautiful and heavy and sharp. He bought it from ValhallaWorld on Etsy. Don’t be fooled by the cheaper versions. If you look closely at those shops, you’ll see the telltale signs of imposters. All of the descriptions are the same and slightly wonky. It’s weird. But my new axe is excellent. Now, I just have to figure out where I want Dad to hang it!

So, I had a lovely birthday week. Thank you again to Dad and Enza and everyone who sent me birthday love! I’m old. I know. As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Things I Should’ve Done Today

Howdy, howdy! What’s everyone been up to lately? Things have been quiet here. I was supposed to be productive today. But I wasn’t. What’s new there? Instead, I listened to loud music while Dad ran an errand. I played stupid games. And I wasted time being social. Kind of. The minion and one of his spawn came by to drop something off for Dad. I mostly listened to them ramble. That’s as social as I get. But it was good seeing them after so long. Stupid plague. Nothing else got done.

I mostly should’ve been preparing to write this post. I didn’t have anything lined up to write about anyway, but I probably could’ve come up with something better to ramble about if it weren’t already so late. Or I would’ve kept procrastinating and written this anyway. At least I can blame it on the minion this week.

The other thing I really should’ve done is read. I’m reading two books and they’re both pretty long. I need to get through about 20 pages a day of the book I’ll be reviewing this month in order to finish it in time. I built in a couple of lazy days just in case, but I should try to get it done anyway. It takes me about an hour. The other book is my pre-bedtime read. I try to get at least half an hour in each night. I’ll at least do that tonight.

I should probably also have written an email and scheduled a video chat, but they can wait. It’s just for my jailbird sister. I keep putting off scheduling the video chat because I have better ways to waste my time. But at least Dad can join in this time (if I have to suffer, so do you). I also need to write emails to a couple of other people, but it’s nothing time sensitive or even important. I should just check in with some people who aren’t on social media.

There are probably things I’m forgetting, but it doesn’t really matter. Today was supposed to be a blog day and reading day. Instead, it was a people-ing kind of day. But I’m going to leave this kind of short and go catch up on reading. What were you supposed to do today? Did you do it? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

End of Year Stuff

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? Can you believe it’s already December? The year just slipped right on by. I’m still stuck somewhere back in March. But seriously, it wasn’t a very good year productivity-wise, as you very well know if you’ve been stalking me. I don’t really know what happened. I just got lazy and everything spiraled out of control. But I really need to get back on track for next year, so I’m just going to ramble a bit about my goals for this month. They aren’t much, but hopefully enough to get me back on track for being productive in 2022.

1. Read two books. This is pretty much the only thing I’ve kept up with this year. My goal was to read 35 books and I just started my 34th of the year. As long as I can finish that one and pick/finish a book to review by the end of the month, I’ll at least have my reading goal done. It shouldn’t be a problem.

2. Research publishing companies and how to query them. I’ve given up on finding an agent for the current book I was sending out, but I do want to try some publishers before I decide to put it away for a while. I just don’t know how different the querying process is for publishers vs. agents. So, I’ll have to do some Googling and/or pester people for advice.

3. Read through the current novel-in-progress. It’s already fully outlined and ready to be written (I believe it’s about halfway done, maybe a little less), so I need to at least finish the first draft. It’s the sequel to the novel I was querying, so I think I just got a bit discouraged and disgusted with the whole thing. But I still love these books and want to work on them, so hopefully I can drop back into that world and finish the draft. We’ll see how I feel after I re-read what I have.

4. Write words. It doesn’t have to be good words or even a lot of words, but I do need to get back in the habit of sitting here, opening a document, and writing something at least four days a week (five if you count blogging). I’m not even going to worry if it’s all part of the same story. Just practice for getting back into the novel-in-progress. When I start that, I’ll decide whether to focus on a specific word count or just time staring at the screen. And whether I want to establish a daily goal or weekly one.

That’s my plan for December. Nothing too demanding or exhausting. Just something to hopefully set me up for a better writing year in 2022. Forcing myself has failed miserably this year, so maybe easing myself into it will work better. But I really need to start trying again. Being lazy is only an excuse for so long before people start accusing you of being depressed. What about you? What are your plans for the last month of 2021? Are you wrapping up current goals or starting to plan for next year? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or questions here or on my social media pages!

Standalones Vs. Series

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this bright and beautiful day? Things here are pretty annoying. WordPress seems to have tinkered with its editor, so now the text appears super tiny unless I zoom my screen in, but the preview for the final post looks perfectly normal. We’ll see. It also froze and lost the entire paragraph I just wrote despite supposedly autosaving it. It’s nowhere to be found. That’s always fun. Otherwise, things are good. Dad, the neighbor, and I are scheduled for our Covid boosters tomorrow. We got appointments at our preferred pharmacy, so we don’t have to run all over town. It’s been a pretty painless process so far. Hopefully the actual appointments will be just as easy. But that’s not what I want to talk about. Today, I’m here to ramble about standalone books versus series and which I prefer as a reader versus as a writer.

Me when I lost my supposedly saved work.

As a reader, I’m not usually picky about whether something is a series or a standalone. Series tend to offer better chances for character development and a deeper plot, but they also run the risk of dragging things out. I love getting to know the characters over multiple books and seeing how they grow, who gets redemption arcs and who doesn’t, etc. Series also provide a chance for world building that you don’t get so much of in standalones. They’re more immersive a lot of the time. Not always, but often. The biggest drawback of reading a series (for me) is that I feel compelled to finish them even if I don’t particularly like them. It’s like I haven’t given them a fair chance if I haven’t read everything. I know that’s ridiculous. And I have plenty of series that I gave up on, but it still feels awkward to me. Now, if I love a series, the hardest part is the wait between books. I try to find series that are completed or close to it, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. The waiting is the worst.

Standalones also have a lot to offer. They can be quick, fun reads, but they can also be in-depth and wonderful. On the other hand, a lot of them feel thin to me, lacking in the plot or the character development or both. It just depends on the book. I also think some genres lend themselves better to standalones than others. Horror, yes. Epic fantasy, not so much (but there are some gems). And some genres dance around the line between standalones and series like it doesn’t exist. Cozy mysteries. Most of those series are written as multiple standalone books, so even new readers can pick up any book in the series and not be lost. But from a reader’s perspective, as long as I like the story and the characters, I’ll read anything. Series or standalone.

Reading-wise. Get your mind out of the gutter.

As a writer, standalone novels are hard. I don’t think I’ve ever finished one. Short stories and stuff like that, I can do. The last standalone novel I tried to write decided it wanted to be a trilogy. I haven’t finished it (book one still needs major edits before I can even vaguely plot out book two), but the plot is too much for one book. I can’t find a middle ground between short story and multiple books. It’s really weird. I’d love to be able to write standalones, but for now, my brain is stuck in series mode. Maybe I’ll find a way one day, but today is not that day.

Ah well.

What about you? What do you prefer to read, standalones or series? Why? If you write, which do you gravitate towards? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or comments or questions here or on my social media pages! See you next week for my monthly book review.