Friday, July 9, 2021

A brief update and two recommendations


That was the last time I wrote anything here, and I have no excuse except choosing to do other things, many of which were no doubt a complete waste of my time.

Case in point. Driving to Florida with my brother to visit my mom.

I won't go into detail but I will never, ever in a million years drive to Florida if I can possibly help it. I can give you lots of reasons why, but the loss of time would be #1.

Just not worth it.

Oh, and a piece of advice. Never stay at the Knights Inn in Allentown, PA. The check in person when we arrived was busy smoking outside, told us to go in and wait. Then when she began to check us in, she got on her phone to discuss grocery shopping with her kid. My brother finally says, "Will this take long?" She says, "I can multi-task!"

Clearly not, but whatevs.

Anyway. No driving to Florida, and no more 2 star hotels. I deserve better!

Here's a few happy pics from Lieu Gardens...



Now for my recommendations.

11/22/63 by Stephen King and Mare of Eastown with Kate Winslet.

The book (no surprise) is long. Very long. But I was invested every step of the way with the narrator, who has been shown a way back and given the tools to stop the assassination of JFK. Needless to say it won't be simple, and it definitely won't be easy since time doesn't like people messing around with it. If you're a Stephen King fan, I highly recommend this one.

As for Mare of Eastown, all I can say is wow. Kate Winslet was fabulous as the main character, trying to solve a murder investigation while still grieving (or resisting grieving) the loss of her own son. Her friend Lori, played by Julianne Nicholson of Law & Order fame, was equally amazing. I can't say enough about this show and am sad there were only 7 episodes. 


And last but not least, my favorite new song

Monday, May 17, 2021

Need more tulips!

 Last time I promised some more pics of tulips...

Yeah. Not too many, unfortunately. In fact, not nearly enough! I am going to make it my goal to order some tulip bulbs to plant in the fall so that next year, when I show you the pics of this garden, it'll look a whole lot better (I hope!). Honestly, I can't wait to retire (or partially retire) so I have more time to make the yard look pretty. 

In other news, I made a small breakthrough on my WIP, which has clarified my ending, but also discovered (read: had it pointed out to me) a glaring omission, which will take a lot of work on my part to rectify. Can't wait to work on draft 2 (said with equal parts sarcasm and sincerity).

Finally, I finished the Rotherweird series and loved it. Also kinda want to live there even though there's no internet and I wouldn't be able to play 7Days2Die with my brother.

Currently reading The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert and just watched Frankenweenie 

which almost made me cry.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Three Things

 First, the small flower garden out front that I promised last week


That second floor room to the right with the bay windows is mine, and the tree in front is the one I mentioned last week. I can't wait for it to be green! As for the garden, I have no idea what the purples are, johnny jump ups maybe? If anyone knows please tell me! Lovely daffodils blooming and some tulips coming (probably next week), most of which did not bloom last year and none of which I planted. The previous owner is credited for everything that grows there though I would really like to plant some bulbs come fall if I can remember AND be motivated enough to go do it. Possibly ordering bulbs might help.

Second, at the shop (Maine-ly Pawn & Antiques), we have a new dedicated library, which I worked very hard on and am admittedly a bit proud of how it turned out. Previously this was the music/electronics room, a bit of a cluster, and not the least bit appealing. Now...well, check out the pics and judge for yourself... 

Finally, I have an idea for a smallish project that I will share if I decide to follow through (nothing like being committed, right?), and I finished Wyntertide and am now reading Lost Acre, the final book in the series, which I highly recommend for patient readers. This is not a rip through it book, this is a take your time and enjoy the scenery book.

Next week...tulips I hope! Have a fabulous week if you can and stay well.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sunday pics

 The view outside my window this Sunday morning

My lovely tree is about to bloom which will hide the view of the neighbors across the street and give me a million green leaves instead.

Kitten (we will not discuss his stupid name) at the ripe old age of 14, handsome as ever

Sven and his new buddy, Orion

Sven (8mo.) and his other buddy, Bruno

In other news I'm about three chapters away from finishing my current WIP and I've read 12 books thus far this year. I am currently enjoying Wyntertide by Andrew Caldecott, the second book in a series series that began with Rotherweird and ends with Lost Acre. I will also mention City of Ghosts and Girl A, both of which I ripped through and recommend - City of Ghosts if you like ghosts, and Girl A if you like psychological dramas.

Also still enjoying Avatar and came to a realization in the shower the other day (where many great realizations take place) that the group is going to need Zuko because he completes them. Ang is air, Kitara is water, Tof is earth, and Zuko is fire. Without him they are incomplete and cannot hope to succeed in uniting the four nations.

Yes. These are the things I think of while I'm in the shower. 

I got my second vaccination (no side effects other than a sore arm both times) and come Tuesday will be considered "fully immunized." Hallelujah! Looking forward to visiting my mom in Florida even though it will likely be sweltering hot by the time I go (June). Nevertheless, I can't wait to hang out with my mom whom I haven't seen in over a year!

Finally, the weather is getting warmer, and I'm starting to clean out my gardens. The front garden is half done. I'll need to decide what to plant alongside the perennials. Last year's plants didn't do so well thanks to a late frost so I'm not in any hurry. I would like to try Zinnias again but only if they'll grow like this (as opposed to the sad things I had last year).

Benary's Giant Zinnia, cut flower garden - Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Good Demon

I just finished this book the other day and noticed it only has 33 reviews and it deserves way more so I'm giving a shout out. If you like southern gothic horror or supernatural, paranormal, etc. I think you will like this tale.

When we first meet Clare, her demon is gone and she's in mourning, grieving its loss. Her home situation is pretty crappy. Her real dad is dead, her jerk of a stepfather is the one who called the preacher and his son in to rid her of her demon, and her mother isn't or can't be what Clare needs. But then Clare finds the clues her demon left behind. A way to get HER (as Clare calls the demon) back. And as Clare works toward this goal we learn all about how her dad died, how the demon came into Clare's life, and what Clare will or will not sacrifice to get Her back.

This was a super fun story with a very interesting demon and I almost wanted to know more about Her and her kind. Oh, and the Wish House. What a perfectly horrible awful place!


I put this up there with Joe Hill's NOS4A2.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunday Pics

Well. I haven't done a Sunday pics in a while so...

I will begin with Sven, my new kitten

I got him in October - let's call him a birthday present to myself - spotting him on Facebook at The Animal House, a local place for pet stuff and adoptions. I'd lost my awesome black cat, Jasper, a while back and here was this little guy showing up on my Feed in need of a home...well let's just say I was down there pretty damn quick. He's still absolutely adorable and I love him to pieces.

Then there's the pawn shop, which has been fairly quiet until last week. Here's a few pics of various places. 


Don't you love the creepy dolls? Yeah, me neither, lol.

Last but by no means least is this Cooper's Hawk that came to visit the shop. I took some pics with my phone but couldn't get any decent shots. Luckily, my favorite birder (my son) came by and got some great pics. He has this massive zoom lens, and if you want to see more awesome pics of his, check out my facebook page. I post a lot of the pics he sends me.


In other news, I have only read two books this year, which is a bit sad, and watched very little television. We are still watching The Americans and only have a few episodes left til the end. I admit I am very worried for many of the characters. Watched The Dead Don't Die last night which was funny, probably mostly because of who was in it. I have been writing fairly diligently - my current work in progress stands at 50k - querying, and playing too much Scrabble - my average score is 373 and my average word is 24.5, which is pretty good although admittedly Scrabble on line is easier to get higher points than the actual game.

And now, I'm off to kill zombies with my brother :)

 Have a wonderful week and stay well!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Goodby 2020, you were only good for one thing: reading books

 I'm sure there were plenty of good things that happened in 2020, but I'm afraid they will always be overshadowed by the bad, with Covid-19 at the top of the list. Coming in a close second for me is my mom's health, which is largely why I've posted nothing recently. She is now home recovering from surgery but not out of the woods and needing lots of help. Hence my absence.

But. I always share my books with you all at the end of the year and I did do some serious reading in 2020. In total, I read 44 books. I've marked my faves with an asterix but honestly, there are no bad books on this list.


1. The First Salute by Barbara Tuchman – straight up history

2. A Memory called Empire by Arkady Martin* - scifi winner of the 2020 Hugo award for best novel

3. The Ten Thousand Doors to January Alix E. Harrow - fantasy

4. City of Bones by Martha Wells scifi/fantasy

5.Artificial Condition by Martha Wells* scifi

6. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher - fantasy

7. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone – scifi/fantasy

8. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

9. The Wonderling by Mira Bartok* – MG fantasy

10. Circe by Madeline Miller* - fantasy

11. The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith* - fantasy

12. The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne - thriller

13. The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne - thriller

14. The Girl Who Drank Down the Moon by Kelley Barnhill* - MG fantasy

15. A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor Chronicles of St. Mary* - fantasy

16. The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heldig - fantasy

17. Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd* - fantasy

18. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire* - fantasy

19. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James – thriller (with ghosts)

20. The Haunting of Maddie Clare by Simone St. James – mystery (with ghosts)

21. Shards of Honor (The Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold - scifi

22. Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah - ? mysterious child shows up

23. The Missing Sister by Elle Marr - Thriller

24. The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold - Scifi

25. The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold - Scifi

26. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – Psychological Mystery

27. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon -fantasy

28. Ghost by Jason Reynolds - MG

29. The Unadoptables by Hannah Took - MG fantasy

30. Who’s That Earl by Susanna Craig* - Regency Romance

31. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sand - Spculative

32. The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare* - Regency Romance

33. The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope - Contemporary/missing child

34. The Wizards Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher* - MG Fantasy

35. Find Layla by Meg Elison - YA

36. The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal - Family Drama

37. Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergei Dyachenko - Speculative

38. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire* – Fantasy

39. Jack by Marilynne Robinson - literary

40. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd* - fantasy

41. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Horror

42. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson - ? kids catch fire but aren't harmed

42. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw - YA  

43. Far Away by Lisa Graff - MG

44. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells- scifi*

The only bad thing about having read so many books is that I'll feel like a total loser if I don't read at least the same number again in 2021. On the other hand, 44 is less than a book a week and considering I can read a book in a day I shouldn't have any trouble. Right? Right.

I'll leave you with a bunch of pics my son sent me, mostly birds. Any mis-identifications are my fault!

Black Crowned Night-Heron


Sandhill Crane

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Great Blue Heron



Ruby-throated hummingbird



Happy New Year and let's hope 2021 is a better year for all of us!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Guest post with Shannon Lawerence - Happy Ghoulidays!



The holidays can be a stressful time, as we all know, but I'm hoping to lighten up this winter season with a little holiday horror.

Maybe "lighten up" isn't the right term.

The first story begins the winter holidays with Thanksgiving, with stories representing Christmas, Hanukah, Hogmanay (the New Year), Yule, Groundhog Day, and, finally, Valentine's Day. From serious horror to tongue-in-cheek. Read them all at once or save them for their holidays. Or both! 

Release day is November 20, which also happens to be my birthday! Just in time for Thanksgiving week. You can pre-order the Kindle version, with other versions, including paperback, available on release day.

Blurb: Family time can lead to murder and mayhem, especially during the holidays. A turkey with a tale to tell, elves under attack, sorority sisters putting on a killer party, a woman's desperation to save her family, and a stranger ringing in the New Year. These and other tales of woe await you beneath the mistletoe.

Be careful who you offer a kiss. It may be your last.

About the Author: A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes in her dungeon when her minions allow, often accompanied by her familiars. She writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in several anthologies and magazines, and her collections, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations and Bruised Souls & Other Torments, are available in stores. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast “Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem.” When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings. Though she often misses the Oregon coast, the majestic and rugged Rockies are a sight she could never part with. Besides, in Colorado there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. What more could she ask for? 


Release date: November 20

Pre-order link






Amazon Author Page


A big congrats to Shannon!

I hope everyone has a nice (as it can be) Thanksgiving and stay safe out there! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IWSG - The Working Writer

Here we are into October already and it's time again for the The Insecure Writer's Support Group.


October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!
My idea of a working writer is a lot different than it used to be. I used to imagine the kind of life James Michener had. Not only was he wealthy thanks to his writing, he was wealthy enough to hire assistants (assistants!!!) to help him do research. He was wealthy enough to travel to the places he was writing about. And he was wealthy enough that writing was his only job. Lucky guy.
On the flip side, a lot of big name writers have to travel, make public appearances, and (gasp!) might actually be required to  speak at said event, a task I'd just as soon avoid.
Today, few working writers live that life and most supplement their income with a 'regular job.' Thinking of what my life would look like if I was a working writer (which I am, just not getting those nice royalty checks), I imagine having a part time regular job, not only for financial reasons but to get out of the damn house for a few days. Having spent as much time at home as I have these last six months, staying home isn't as attractive as I thought it would be. But. I sure would like to be able to travel to some of the places I have written about and the places I do want to write about.
Meanwhile, in other news, I've read four more books, aided in large part by a power outage and the fact that I was almost done with one, and two were short (under 300 pages).
Find Layla by Meg Ellison is about a girl who lives with her abusive mother and little brother in an apartment that should be condemned. It was a good story, and I liked Layla, the girl who's trying to hide her real life from everyone, including teachers, friends, and eventually the authorities.
Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergei Dyachenko is...hard to describe. The story centers on Sasha who is contacted by a strange man who demands she perform certain tasks. If she doesn't something bad will happen. The man says he will never ask her to do anything impossible. Eventually, the man demands she go to a particular school and the story gets more interesting. There, Sasha finds a very different and demanding type of learning environment and classes that do ask the impossible. Only it isn't impossible for Sasha and the other students because they're special, though not exactly the way you might think.
Anyway. I kept waiting for Sahsha to become whatever she was supposed to become and then do something with her changed self, you know, like save the world. I also felt like the authors had written an allegory for the changes adolescents go through (they dedicated the book to their daughter) rather than a story that was complete. Basically I thought it was super interesting but was let down a bit by the ending.
Every heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is an orphanage story and at first I thought the head of the place was evil and planning something horrible for her charges. Rest assured, this was not the case. Instead, Miss West cares very much for her charges, all of who have entered other worlds (think Narnia, except all the worlds aren't so nice) and are dying to get back. I really liked this book a lot and will probably read the next in the series.
My favorite out of the four was The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'Neal. This story revolves four women: Lillian, who's old and showing alarming signs of it, her granddaughter Zoe who has come home to Devon to help and hopefully heal her daughter (Isabel) who has deleted all her media accounts and refuses to return to school. Lastly there's Zoe's mom (poppy) who left her in the care of her grandmother when she was seven and never came back.
Ordinarily I don't read much family drama, but this book took hold and pulled me in, making me want to know would happen next. Could Poppy and Zoe ever find their way to back to a relationship or did the hurt run too deep? What happened to Isabel that she can't tell anyone about? Is Lillian imagining the things she sees or are her suspicions valid? And why did Poppy leave and never come back until it was too late?
The Lost Girls moved me, and, as much as don't like to admit it, made me tear up a bit (okay. A lot), so I highly recommend it to anyone who likes stories about families healing. Plus the descriptions...Now I need to add Devon to the list of places I want to go...when I'm rich and famous.
What does the writer's life look like for you? Read any books? Seen Enola Holmes?