Every year, on my birthday, I ask for books. My family comes through with gift certificates to my favorite book haunts. Because I consume books like some people drink coffee, the gift certificates are perfect.
Below is my reading list from 2018. I usually post this list in January or February, but, hey, what can I say? Better late than never. I read a ton of Amanda Lee’s books because they just struck my funny bone in just the right place. She cranks out books faster than Janet Evanovich (I’ve read most of her’s too), and has the same sense of humor. I can never pass up on something funny and easy to read.
People ask me, “Did you really read all of them?” YES. If I came across anything too awful to finish it is not listed here. I am pleased to say that I did not have to pass on any books last year.
Note: I have listed these books alphabetically, order by author, so they are not in any particular ranking of best to worst.
Glass and Steel Books 3, 5 & 6
The Ink Master’s Silence
The Convent’s Secret
The Apothecary’s Poison
David R. Bernstein
Fiction Can Be Murder
A Resort to Murder Mystery I & II
Charlie N. Holmberg
A Paper Magician Novel
The Plastic Magician
The Page Turners
A Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Book 1
The Semester of Our Discontent
The Paradise War
Amanda M. Lee
A Moonstone Bay Cozy Mystery Books 1 & 2
Witch Out of Water
An Elemental Witches of Eternal Springs Cozy Mystery Books 1, 2, 3, 4
Bat Out of Spell
Spell on Earth
Hotter Than Spell
Spell or High Water
A Charlie Rhodes Cozy Mystery Book 1
The Bigfoot Blunder
A Wicked Witches of the Midwest Mystery Books 1-11
Any Witch Way You Can A Breath of Witchy Air
Every Witch Way But Wicked
A Witch Before Dying
Witching You Were Here
Murder Most Witchy
The Trouble With Witches
Witching On A Star
Something to Witch About
Charms & Witchdemeanors
Witch Me Luck
Life’s a Witch
The Wrinkle in Time Quintet: Books 1-5
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
An Acceptable Time
Questing Witch Series Books 1 & 2
Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
The Manipulated Series, Books 1 & 2
The Expatriates, Books 1&2
Song of the Sending
Promise of the Scholar
His Dark Materials, Books 1-3
The Golden Compass
The Amber Spyglass
The Subtle Knife
Susan Kaye Quinn
The Debt Collector
Mortal Engines, Book 1
Lisa Brown Roberts
Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story
Thief in Time, Books 1- 3
A Thief in Time
A Sword in Time
A Flight in Time
The Southern Reach Trilogy Books 1, 2, 3
The Chaos of Stars
Of Bone and Ruin
The A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2019 is now in the history books. I participated right up until I just couldn’t. I had some deadlines that squeezed between having to adult and my job. I had to make a choice and left the challenge at ‘R’.
The Reflection post is a tradition at the A to Z Challenge. It gives everyone a chance to look back at what worked, what didn’t, what we’ve done, what was learned, and where we hope to go from here. There is a list of 10 questions that have been posed by the A to Z organizers. I may not answer all of them, but I hope, by doing this reflection post you will join us next year, or you will do your own challenge at some point.
A to Z asked: What did you love about the challenge?
This is the second year I participated and what I like the most about it is the push to keep up on this blog. I sometimes forget my readers (how rude!) when I’m falling down the writing rabbit hole. By doing this challenge I am reminded to get back to the important people — YOU, my readers.
A to Z: What would you change about it?
I would like to see a Blog Hop link. Was there one? Maybe I missed it. It would be nice to be able to have a link at the end of our posts (Linky Tools) so readers can easily check out the rest of the blogs participating.
A to Z: What was the best moment for you during this year’s challenge?
I hate to say this, but the day I had to call it to a stop. I know that is counterintuitive, but I was relived. I over extended myself and by stepping away I was doing myself (and everyone involved) a service that benefited all of us.
A to Z: What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment?
I got so many wonderful comments from everyone who read the posts. I hope they all keep coming back to visit and commenting. It is encouraging to have comments and likes because then I know there are readers who enjoy the posts.
I found several new blogs to follow along the way. Check them out :
A to Z: Will you do the challenge again?
There were more questions and much more to say, but I think I will close here by saying WOW!! A huge thank you goes back to everyone who worked hard to make this challenge happen. This is one of the best writing challenges I participate in and I’m looking to continue for sometime to come.
Until then? Happy reading!!
What was some experiences where you learned that language had power?
Language, I have found, has more power than I ever realized. What about you? Think about it. If you were to walk up to a random person on the street and tell them their shoes were ugly, what would happen? My guess is that, if you could be a flea on their sleeve, you would see them go through the rest of their day in the dumps. On the other hand, change a single word – ugly to awesome – you change the tone of their entire day.
Television, books, social media, person to person communication, and even books, are opportunities to use language to influence, support, or demoralize people. In my home, we dropped network television and I immediately noticed a difference in my attitude. If I read a humorous book my outlook brightens.
Much of my childhood was spent learning the negative power of language, and as I grew, and had children of my own, I learned how to turn all that negative to positive. In college I studied photography and we had to give, and take, critique. I saw first hand how a few, carefully stated words, could either save, or kill, the artist within a person.
When I read books, then write a review, I point out the best of it rather than everything the author has done wrong. Mind you, there is room for improvement in most things, but I show a writer how to improve with positive language. Whenever I am given feedback that is supportive, I tend to learn more and have a stronger desire to continue on.
Language is a powerful thing. It really is as simple as having a glass half empty or half full. To borrow on another saying, “You attract more bees with honey.” That honey will always taste sweeter when you carefully choose words that support and encourage. Now that’s power!
Every month, IWSG announces a question that members can answer in our IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. We Include our answers to the question in the IWSG post or let it inspire our post if we are struggling with something to say.
It’s a Blog Hop!! Check out these other amazing blogs…..
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It has been fun. A riot.
I enjoyed getting to know my fellow A to Z Blogging Challengers. Your blogs are great and I look forward to reading them through the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, I have to jump ship on the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I left off at R and with the deadlines I have been facing, well…………. S, T, U,V, W, X, Y, and Z will have to go on without me. Thank you to A to Z Blogging Challenge for hosting. I’ll be back in 2020!
Once we get into May, when the dust has settles, I will introduce everyone to the new blogs I found that I think you might enjoy as well.
Have a great rest of April!!
This post inspired by:
What is the big deal about short stories? Why have them? Why do readers prefer the short story over a full blown novel? First, let me say that novel length manuscripts have NOT gone by the wayside. There are still vast numbers of people (myself included) who read the thousands of wonderful books out there. Yet, short stories are on the rise. More and more readers are turning to the short story. What is different today, then let’s say 40 years ago? Are there reasons the short story is more popular to day?
Short Attention Spans & Time
It has been said that our attention spans are shrinking, therefore our desire to sit a read a four hundred page novel has also shrunk. One study suggested that our attention span has dropped to a mere 8 seconds. The statistics were published in Time magazine, the Telegraph, the Guardian, USA Today, the New York Times and the National Post. Since 2015, that theory has been debunked.
Another angle is we just have too many choices (think mega-stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, or coffee shops like Starbucks). When I walk into a coffee shop with a menu the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica I can’t make a clear decision so I order coffee and leave. Quick, easy, and black.
Time, for many people, is a huge culprit. Busy lives can drain away minutes, hours, days, and weeks before we realize that the time has gone by. Careers and family obligations alone can drain the day away. When there is only twenty minutes left for reading, a novel is challenging to get through.
Whatever the reasons, a short story can fill the tiny gaps in our day. They are usually quick reads that are satisfying, and packed with meaning. Short story writers learn early on how to keep a tale riding on a tight rope. They are a trapeze artist walking a narrow path with the reader, their audience, holding their collective breath. When the artist reaches that last sentence the audience erupts with applause.
There is always the quick gratification that is gotten through a short story. A reader can sit and finish a full bodied story in about an hour.
This post inspired by:
Marion, Nelson, and Oscar were behind. Finals already started, and they had nearly a month of work to catch up on. Keeping up was a challenge at times, but they were lucky that most of their professors were understanding.
Oscar stared out the dorm window. He watched a few students crossing the quad with coats pulled tight against the blizzard conditions. Campus should have been shut down for classes but this campus never closed.
“It’s a bummer classes weren’t cancelled. It’s a bomb cyclone and a blizzard. They could at least give us a break.” Marion was the youngest in the crew. Her straw hair frizzed out in every direction.
“That would be pretty cool.” Nelson, was a brainiac only because he had a photographic memory. He complained it was a burden, but Marion and Oscar had a hard time feeling sorry for him.
Simultaneously, three watches pinged incessantly and furiously they started thumb punching on their cell phones. “The other side of campus. Let’s rock.” Oscar gave a confirming nod to the other two just before they blinked out.
The three reappeared behind the chemistry building. Crouching low they scanned for any threats. The wind ripped through their clothing and snow pummeled into every crevice.
“See anything?” Oscar shouted over the storm’s pandemonium. If anyone replied, it was ripped away by the storm.
A pop. Then another.
Oscar wheeled back around to see Professor Bane standing over two forms lying in the snow.
“Next time, you might want to materialize somewhere less in the open. Now, get back to the dorms. The weather is quite unpleasant.” Professor Bane turned and blinked out before he took a step away.
Oscar transported warm gear to the so none of them froze to death, but he still didn’t know how to transport anyone other than himself. He spent the next two hours dragging his crew back to the dorm room.
It took another hour for the two to wake up. “What happened?” Marion was the first to wake, but they waited for Nelson. The three settled, wrapped in thermal blankets drinking tea.
“Finals week happened. We just flunked the first part of Professor Bane’s test.” The three groaned in unison. Oscar continued, “I’m not sure how, but we have to get through these finals. My Dad will kill me if I flunk out again.”
Professor Bane went directly to the Director’s office as requested. Director Thorne sat behind an ostentatious mahogany desk looking up when Bane entered.
“How did they do?”
“Fastest reaction time on record, but they materialized in the open. They are going to be good though. I could feel their power surge when the signals came in and when they materialized. You were wise to choose them as recruits.”
Thorne leaned back in his chair, “Yes. I am looking forward to seeing how they progress.” A slow grin grew across his face, “I must say, tonight was a bit on the cruel side, don’t you think?”
Raising his shoulder in a shrug, Bane replied, “Maybe. But the storm will make sure Oscar knows how to transport others by the time they are tested again. Frost bite is a great motivator.”
This is a scene I wrote ages ago when I was thinking of a book about a school for gifted students. The school was going to be a college of sorts, but I never got a clear path as to where the story would go. Then a slew of books came out centered on schools like this and I decided to shelve it. I came across it last week and thought I would share it. I changed it up a little bit to fit my need to get caught up in A to Z. Life likes to rear up and grab me every once in awhile and I have to step away from my desk.
My inspiration for this post was: to catch up on A to Z in one post (sorry for the little bit of cheating) and for the letters……….
My middle name, if I had one, might be Glum, Morose, or Depressed. If I had my choice though, I’d make it Maudlin. It sounds more like a name rather than a state of mind. I could even change my entire name to something like, Dolorous Maudlin Lacherymose.
I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to change my name but she thought I would only be feeding into the monsters that lived in my head.
I like to feed the monsters. They are my only companions.
Jocund Ebullient Bright could have been my mother’s name. We aren’t sure what happened when she gave birth to me, but it was like night was born from day.
Mother is gone now. Father? I never knew. No sisters. No brothers. My cousins are too afraid of me to come around.
I like the room they gave me. White.
No. Beige trying to be white.
Crazy Cook likes to point the carving knife at us. I like to imagine it across my wrist.
My name is Dolorous Maudlin Lacherymose.
I”m never going home.
*** *** ***
This was my first attempt at this style of writing. The subject is a bit black but it fit the choppiness of what I was going for. I wouldn’t call it poetry. It’s not quite flash fiction nor a short story. What would you call it? Thoughts?
Today’s post was inspired by:
K is the eleventh letter in our alphabet and today’s letter for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I was stumped. Looking for inspiration I turned to Wikipedia and searched for “K”.
Pretty easy definition until those last three words, “voiceless velar plosive.” My knee jerk reaction was, “Is this some kind of new storm that replaces the Bomb Cyclone? Or, some other kind of explosive that has a silent EX at the beginning?
If you are anything like me, you may have already clicked the link above (or you’re a linguist and already know what it is). So, down the rabbit hole of links I went. If you haven’t clicked on the voiceless link above you should.
This is where things started to get tricky. In my writing I like to come up with different ways to show my readers how my character feels without actually saying the word, like sad, happy, depressed, or bored. It is a real challenge. When I read the definition of voiceless velar plosive I thanked the writing forces I did not have to come up with that definition. My eyes started to glaze over.
The next hop down this rabbit hole was, “…and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is
k . X-SAMPA peaked my curiosity, and another click. There you will find, ” The Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (X-SAMPA.” (Aren’t you glad you came along for this ride?) I have been sitting here, re-reading what X-SAMPA is, only to scratch my head wondering if they were talking about a computer language rather than language.
Scrolling down there is a chart of the X-SAMPA, IPA, and IPA Image for Lower Case Symbols (aren’t they letters?). Keep scrolling and you will find charts for Capital Symbols (upper case in my dictionary), Other Symbols, Diacritics, and so on. Reaching the bottom of the page I lost it. Go ahead…I dare you to make heads or tails of that last diagram.
Feeling like Alice in a linguistic Wonderland I had to bail out. I think I’ll stick with just writing the words and leave the reason for their existence to someone else. With that, I will enjoy each letter for what they are; twenty six opportunities to write words that start with the letter K.
Today’s post was inspired by:
When I first delved into this writing adventure I thought it would be easy. In some respects it has been, but in others it has been a slog. My journey through writing began about six years ago when I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference that is held annually in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since then, I have been blown from one book to another.
After that initial conference I was jazzed. I wasn’t necessarily looking to write “the next great American novel”, but I was excited to write the book I always wanted to read. Six years later, and five attempts later, I am still working to find my groove.
I did edit my great grandfather’s memoir on his railroading days at the turn of the 20th century. It was published privately with only three copies in existence. What did I learn? Even with something already written out it is a long road to publication. What was the worst mistake? I misspelled my grandfather’s name on the cover and on the title page.
I am working on several other books that, one day, will be completed. As I’m writing this post, I think of the first two attempts as stretching my legs. I got the feel for writing, editing, critiqueing, querying, re-writing, and re-doing everything. I discovered what I liked about the stories and what I hated about them, then drew from those lessons to start a third book.
The book I’m working on now has been my favorite. It is fun, light, and airy. I am learning that as an author I am better at seeing the lighter side of life which helps me to stay upbeat when I step back into my regular life. I am excited that this third attempt is also seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Writing is not easy. If you are just starting out on this journey, I would say to you…try everything. In order to find your way through this journey you need to follow paths that might take you to dead ends, swamps, or it could very well take you to paradise. Most of all, enjoy the journey.
This post inspired by:
I have been asked where I get my ideas for my short stories. Recently, because of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, my ideas have stemmed from the letter of the day. I like playing with names and discovering odd or silly sounding names like Greta Grimmward and Horatio Horrocrux. I pulled the character’s first names off of baby name lists, and the last names are twisted versions found off of surname lists. Then, I write the story based on who I think the characters are because of their name.
Another place to find inspiration are the many websites that specialize in writing prompts or theme generators. One of my favorite sites is Writing Exercises and Prompts. This site has a plot generator, random first lines, random subject generator, etc. I have had some great ideas blossom here.
Chuck Wedig’s blog is another place I have found ideas. Every once in awhile he hosts a short story writing challenge with prompts posted by his readers. I picked up on one prompt that turned into a short story about a guy named Bob. It was a fun way to flex writing muscles that I didn’t know I had. If you visit his blog, be aware that he does not soften the edges. He freely uses every four letter cuss word there is, plus a few shorter ones too.
What are some other ways to find inspiration? Just look behind you. Where have you been? What have you experienced? Family members can provide a wealth of story material. Got a crazy uncle? What about Great Grandpa? Was he a horse thief? Have you ever gone into Walmart to see who’s shopping there? You can find such a huge variety of characters in a Walmart.
Where do you find your ideas and inspiration? Share them in the comments. I love finding new ways to get inspired. Like this post which was inspired by the letter…..