November TBR and Goodreads Challenge

November TBR

November is a busy month with Thanksgiving and NaNoWriMo, but no worries I will still read. I hope you all had a candy filled Halloween. I’m saving some of our loot to make it through NaNo 😉 I have an odd assortment of books this month. If I read 4 this month I will be happy.


  • The Feng Shui Detective Goes West by Nury Vittachi. Honestly, how can I not read a book with that title?
  • Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’ve never read a book by him but this fits with the Goodreads challenge.
  • Death of a Charming Man by M.C. Beaton. This part of the Hamish Macbeth Mystery Series. New for me.
  • There Goes the Bride by M.C.Beaton. This features Agatha Raisin whom I love.
  • Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan. Love the title.


  • Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie. My first Hercule Poirot book.
  • Village Books by Craig McLay. I’m not real sure about this one. It was free.
  • Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key
  • After Me by Joyce Scarbrough

I’m still keeping with the cozy mystery Goodreads mini-monthly challenge. Here’s the November challenge:

1. Nov 1 is All Saint’s Day and Nov 2 is All Soul’s Day — Read a book with a scene set in a cemetery or graveyard, or that has a tombstone, ghost or skeleton on the cover.

2. November is National Novel Writing Month, November 5 is Book Lovers Day and November 8 Young Readers Day — Read a book ABOUT books. That could involve a bookstore, library, Bookmobile, restorer, collector, writer, or book group — or even the novel Fahrenheit 451 — just so long as it revolves around books.

3. Nov 10 is Forget-Me-Not Day and USMC Day (Marine Corps birthday), and Nov 11 is Veteran’s Day — Read a book set during a war, or that features a veteran or someone serving their country. (Suggested authors include Kate Collins, Anne Perry, Jacqueline Winspear and Jasper Fforde.)

4. Nov 17 is World Peace Day — Read a book set in a country other than your own.

5. Nov 28 is Red Planet Day . . . how appropriate, since Mars is in the news so frequently these days — Read a book with a mostly red cover, or — for those who like to read across genres — a book set on another planet or that features an alien.

This could be a hard month!

What’s on your TBR list?


Fall Fun

I love fall. It doesn’t last long here, but I enjoy it while it’s here. Why do I love fall? Here are a few reasons:100_7379

  1. Pumpkins! What’s not to love about these roundish, orange, vegetables. Carve them with funny faces and roast the seeds. I do draw the line with pumpkin spice everything. I think I came across pumpkin spice Oreos the other day. Really- it’s gone too far.
  2. Cool Breezes and falling leaves. Temperatures are hovering in the mid-80s. Yes, that’s fall. The leaves have turned to a crunchy brown and blow in swirls down the street. The oppressive humidity has lifted and you can feel the earth take a breath. Happy sigh.
  3. Costumes! Does that need explaining?
  4. Festus. Festus the Halloween Rat hibernates most of the year but reemerges every fall to scare my children. He’s doing a terrible job this year. If he’s not careful I will feed him to my cat. If you have any ideas, places to hide Festus, please let me know.
  5. Roasting marshmallows. I love gooey, globs of flaming marshmallows. Just screams fall.
  6. Hot apple cider.
    Yummy. Pair this with a warm muffin and I am one happy chick.
  7. Halloween. This actually mixes several things on my list. Costumes and candy.
  8. Candy. Granted, candy is available year round and I can’t think of any candy in particular that I enjoy in the fall. I just want to eat more of it in the fall. Wait. That may be a bad thing.
  9. Festivals! Fall or October in Alabama, is full of festivals: Free Comic Book Day, Greater Gulf State Fair, Shrimp Festival, BayFest, and on and on. Every time I turn around there is some festival going on. Always something to do.
  10. It means Christmas is just around the corner! Bet you didn’t expect that!

There you have it. The top 10 reasons I love fall.

What do you love about fall?

Festus gets in the way, again.

Festus gets in the way, again.



Waiting for Halloween

We are finally in September. Not that I have cooler temperatures, but at least I know they will be here soon (hopefully).  In between all my regular stuff, I have a Halloween to-do list.

Festus gets in the way, again.

Festus gets in the way, again.

Halloween To-do List

Insert spooky music here, please.

  1. Finish my costume. Costume is an over-statement. It’s actually a fancy apron. I didn’t get to choose my costume this year. My hubby did. He wants to be Uncle Sam so he wants me to be Betsey Ross. I said no, too frumpy. I compromised and made a cool apron in red, white, and blue. I still have to make a fascinator and fingerless gloves.  Too bad I’d get in trouble for giving out firecrackers instead of candy. I’m also going by the name Auntie Liberty!
  2. Help my husband make his costume. Yes, you read that right. My honey is making his own costume. (With lots of help from me!) He’s finished the vest and tie. Now, he’s working on the pants. I’ve never made pants with a fly before. And he’s 6’4. They don’t make patterns for people who are that tall. Everything has to be altered before hand. Sigh! I was able to find 6 yards of red and white striped fabric.
  3. Possibly make a Buttercup costume for daughter #2. That’s Buttercup from the Princess Bride not the Powder Puff Girls or is it Power Puff.  She’s 12 and grows several inches a year. I’ve put this costume off because I don’t want to spend that much time making it and then she only wear it once. It has close to 5 yards of fabric.
  4. Plan a costume birthday party for Daughter #1. She’s an October baby and has never had a costume party. Now that she’s in the 8th grade, she’s the perfect age for one. She’s going as Sherlock! I don’t know who’s more excited, me or her. She did tell me I couldn’t play my music. Bwaahaha. We shall see about that.

I think that wraps it up. I spent this weekend decorating the house. There’s a bit of yard work that needs to be done, but that’s not my department 🙂

I do love making costumes. They are more fun than real clothes and everyone is impressed regardless of how they turn out. While working on my costume, I came across Angela Clayton on Youtube. She’s only 18! I want to be her when I grow up. Check out her website.

What are your Halloween plans?




Critique Cheat Sheet

I had planned to write this morning, but my house is full of noisy teenagers. Better luck tomorrow. My second thought was looking over my critiques from this week. Afterwards, I always feel like I’ve been slapped by an English teacher. The pain only lasts for a moment, but the lessons learned last longer (hopefully).


A few helpful posts online:

Tips for Critiquing Other Writers’ Work

How to Critique Creative Writing

Proofreading Marks

Passive Verbs: Avoid Them and Breathe New Life Into Your Fiction-

I’m having issues with links, please forgive me.

This is the first Critique Group I’ve been a part of, locally. I can say it has helped my writing more than anything. Each person brings their experience, pet peeves and strengths. This is a list of things to look for in a manuscripts. This is for me as well as for my readers. Hopefully, I can use this when I edit my work, in hopes of a cleaner manuscript. This is not a complete list, more of where to begin.

  1. Blue highlights- Telling. This weakens the writing and can translate as lazy. Words like: see, felt, smell, etc. Instead, describe what the character sees, smells, or hears.
  2. Orange highlights- Adverbs. Words ending in “ly” are a form of telling and are lazy.
  3. Yellow highlights- Be verbs. Such as : to be, was, were, is . Some of these are needed. But when the MS is covered in be verbs the voice is passive. Passive voice is also a tad lazy and should be avoided.
  4. Pink highlights- “And“. I love the linking word and. I use it all the time. Usually in the form of a run-on sentence. Don’t do that. If you are using the word and to link two thoughts, actions, or ideas remember that the two actions MUST be accomplished at the same time. Example: I picked up my purse and keys. (correct)  I played the trumpet and drove to the zoo. (Not correct- driving while playing the trumpet is not possible. Okay it is, but you will crash.)
  5. Green highlights- throw away or crutch words. Words that we use in combination with other words that aren’t necessary. Such as “A tear slid down her face.” Down is not needed. The sentence could be reworded to make the sentence stronger. Other words include: went, actually, could, would, should, quite, really, truly, so, literally, etc… I have several lists, acquired from critique group, that I try to use when writing.

Beyond highlights there are other issues you should look for:

  1. Hook– each new chapter should have some sort of hook to keep you reading. Not as “large” as the initial hook in the beginning of the book. But it should grab the reader. If not, make a note of where in the text your attention was grabbed. Even if it is four pages in. The writer needs to know. The same is true for areas that are dull.
  2. Plot holes–  Sometimes the writer doesn’t see holes in their own MS. For instance, in Mermaid, I never explained why Beau was desperate. Why was he in need of money? That’s actually important to the story. Make notes in the margins when holes pop up. That’s what margins are for.
  3. Writing Issues– This covers a multitude of sins. Cliche, choppy text, trite dialogue, repetitive words, wordy narrative. Anything that pulls you out of the story or causes you to stumble. Chances are it threw someone else as well.
  4. Word Choice– In the frenzy of writing, we don’t always use the best or correct word. Sometimes we lean on our favorite words without even knowing it. Mark ’em and write a different word.
  5. POV shifts– If you notice a change in point of view, mark it. Make a note in the beginning who the narrator is and whose head you are in. If it chances pay attention.
  6. Historical inconsistencies– This is only a small group of writers. But if you are writing about an earlier time period (real or imagined). Do your research.  Phrases, technology, clothing, etc… All of these change with time.
  7. Character Issues– If a character is flat, two dimensional, or acts out of character- the writer needs to know.
  8. Formatting Issues– New writers especially may not know the proper way to format. This includes dialogue and chapter structure. Help the writer out and tell them.

This is a good start. There are many more issues.

What’s your pet peeve when critiquing?


Road Trip Tunes


Road Trip!

It’s summer and it’s the perfect time for a road trip. But you can’t take a trip without tunes. So far my list has 97 songs 137 songs. What makes a good road song? Easy-

  1. Fast beat.
  2. Loud.
  3. Easy to sing along to.

That’s basically it. But you do need a few slower songs to insure no speeding tickets. Here is my top 5 road trip songs:

  • Radar Love by Golden Earring
  • Schools out for Summer by Alice Cooper
  • Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts
  • Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
  • Ice Cream by Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton

and an honorable mention goes to:  Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves

What’s on your summer playlist?



A Reader’s Bucket List

The idea of a Bucket list is nothing new. But what about a reading bucket list? I love to read and have done so since middle school. Yet my tastes tend to drift toward genre fiction and not classics. There are authors I know I should read and then there are authors I can’ believe I haven’t read yet. You know the ones that are beyond famous. Writers everyone is talking about. They even sound interesting, yet you haven’t gotten around to reading. This is my list. I hope to read several of these this summer.

Reader’s Bucket List

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez– he’s on my summer reading list. I actually have one of his books, I just need to read it. He’s a Nobel Prize winning novelist from Columbia. He writes magic realism, which is one of my favorite genres to read. He wrote: One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the time of Cholera.
  • George R. R. Martin– he’s on my kindle. One of the first books I bought. Yet I have never read him. You know who he is. He wrote Game of Thrones. His books are the size of encyclopedias and everybody dies. Epic fantasy.
  • Jim Butcher– The Dresden Files have been recommended to me by many, many people. I’m having a bit of trouble finding book 1 Storm Front. He writes urban fantasy, another favorite of mine.
  • Brandon Sanderson– The Mistborn series has also been recommended. I found one of his stand alone novels at a used book store and bought it. Still haven’t read it. I think he falls under epic fantasy. This is a genre I enjoy if it is done well. Like Tolkien.
  • Nora Roberts– I’m not a fan of romance, but she is a legend. I bought one of her books when it went on sale. I think I can learn a lot from her as a writer. I hear she’s good at telling a story through multiple points of view.
  • John Grisham– I know really! He’s a local boy (Mississippi) and he writes mysteries. Why have I not read one yet? No excuse. Not sure which book to read of his.
  • Gillian Flynn– I hear she is scary good. I guess you could say she writes thrillers. I saw the movie for Gone Girl and it totally freaked me out.  I need to read that book to see how she managed the insane plot.
  • Tom Clancy– He writes military thrillers. Not my favorite thing to read. But I want to give it a try.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs-  Stop laughing. Yes, her wrote Tarzan and stories following John Carter. He’s a classic. His books are easy to find for free on Kindle. I have like 3 or 4 of them. I think reading them will be entertaining. I’ve been warned his viewpoint on many things is … old school. I’ll tell you after I read it.
  • Bram Stoker– That’s right. I have never read Dracula. I found it for free online. I don’t ever read horror. Ever. Dracula is really old. It’s on the edge of too old for me to read. I shall try.

There you go. I should be able to cross a few this summer.

What author do you want to read this summer?