Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Reading Catch Up & Best Horror Reviews

It's been a while since I posted books read and all that good stuff, so I thought I'd catch up with a media roundup. This one will focus on the books. Hey, maybe you'll get gift ideas from it.

Before I start, I wanted to share our house decorations with you. My husband loves Christmas. Each year he tries to add something new. This year it's the mega tree.

Also, I'll be doing a reading tonight of one of my Christmas horror stories, Last Elf Standing, from Happy Ghoulidays. It's free, and you can watch it on YouTube. I'll try to post a link in my next post (if I remember, which is always the real issue) of the completed reading. 

You can find the link in the FACEBOOK EVENT.

This is THE book on the Golden State Killer (aka Original Night Stalker). Michelle McNamara passed away before it could be published, but her husband made sure it saw print. She was an excellent writer, who had incredible insight and empathy when discussing the cases. The police officers in various departments accepted her, and some say she helped the case. If you like true crime, I HIGHLY recommend this one.

It took me a couple months to read this, because it was three books of short stories rolled into one, so I'd read a few, read a novel, read a few, read a novel. So on and so forth. The more I read of Barker's, the more I respect him as a writer. In my head, he was Hellraiser. That's it, because that was all I was familiar with. Then I read an understated short story of his in a best horror volume, and I realized I had no idea. (Also, this is part of my ongoing reading of books on Nightmare Magazine's Best Horror list (this post will lead you to more information about the challenge and links to the lists I'm reading through).

This book is also from the best horror list. It's more like a novella, so pretty short. I enjoyed it. It's almost a classic haunted house story. Set out on the moors, a solicitor must close out a recently deceased woman's property. Unfortunately, the house has it out for his sanity. Good creepy moments and lovely writing style.

I read this one for my Sisters in Crime book club, but also because Becky's a friend. She has a quick and clever wit in real life, and it shows in her books. The main character works at a restaurant as a waitress, but also creates crossword puzzles for the local paper. When a dead body turns up at the restaurant and her boss is arrested for the murder, she sets out to prove he had nothing to do with it. In the meantime, she's running the restaurant completely on her own, including doing the cooking. A fun read for those who enjoy cozies.

Also written by a friend, this one's a steamy romance. In other words, when things get spicy, the scene doesn't just magically end. The best thing about this book? The best part is, the boss isn't the man. The main character is intelligent and successful, but does she have the time for more than a fling?

If you've never read Tim Dorsey, you're in for a surprise. His main character throughout his books is a psychopath...but one that means well. In this book, he's on a mission to duplicate Easy Rider, taking his hapless companions on a bike ride in Florida. In the meantime, an honest man has an entire town working against him. The ridiculous humor in these is always fun.

I posted about the others in this series, but this is the last one I read (though technically not the last one that should have been read.) This one takes railroad cop Sydney Parnell back to Iraq, where she helped save a young boy, who she's intended to find since she returned to the states. But this time, she's racing against The Alpha, who also has their sites on the boy, and not to protect him. Full of tension and heart, the entire series is a must-read.

Have you read any of these? Any of them look good to you? Have you read anything you'd like to recommend?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

IWSG: Home Flipping, Taking a Plunge, and Putting Yourself Out There

 Well, hello, it's that time again. Time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. 

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group serves as a place for writers to come together once a month, on the first Wednesday, to discuss our insecurities and lend support to others. Anyone can participate. Just click on Alex's name above and put your blog on the linky, then be sure to visit some of your fellow IWSG'ers.

The optional question is: Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

I'm probably more productive during the winter because I'm trapped in the house. Then again, that was true when my kids were actually leaving the house to attend school. Now my day-time schedule revolves a lot more around when they're online for school. And, of course, right now there's hardly any writing getting done because I'm in classes.

My insecurities this month have to do with how much I'm putting myself out there. Having premiered a new podcast last month and put out my first collection that had ALL new stories, rather than previously published ones, it's been a different and sometimes nerve-wracking experience. But all good, so far.

Speaking of new releases, two of my friends have put out new books!

First up, K.A. Olgren has a cozy mystery full of snark about house flippers. I asked her to do a Top Ten Reasons you Might be a House Flipper:

Top Ten Reasons Why You Might Be A House Flipper

1.     If you spend hours scouring the internet for home design trends and you’ve received a sizeable inheritance or enjoy working with people whose job title is “hard money lender”, pressure is your middle name and stress is your last, you might be a house flipper.

2.     If you like crawling through crawl spaces and attics hoping not to find structural flaws, strange items, and/or bodies (animal or otherwise), you might be a house flipper.

3.     If you want a chance to be wealthy, like to work with your hands, and don’t mind ending up broke because you just discovered the sewer line has disintegrated and is nonexistent one foot from the main, you might be a house flipper.

4.     If the thought of chasing squirrels out the attic with a boom box turned up as loud as it can go makes you giddy, house flipping might be for you.

5.     If buying a new six-foot vanity because the faucet you installed had a factory defect and blew up overnight, flooding the bathroom and the garage you just finished drywalling, you might be a house flipper.

6.     If the idea of spending hours hitting every home improvement store in town to find one clearance bin kitchen cabinet knob because you miscounted sounds like a blast, you might be a house flipper.

7.     If you find listening to the neighbors’ horrific tales of the former occupant and her twenty-seven cats who were found feasting on her deceased body thereby cursing her to be a ghost haunting the house you just bought thrills you, you may need psychiatric help; and you might be a house flipper.

8.     If slowly driving around neighborhoods like a stalker, looking for dilapidated houses with newspapers and flyers piled up in the driveway is your idea of a leisurely Sunday drive, you might be a house flipper.

9.     If you enjoy ruminating over the mechanics of why the water draining from the tub came up through and overflowed the kitchen sink, or why the dishwasher only works when you flip the switch on for that cute little lamp post at the end of the driveway, you might be a house flipper.

10. If you enjoy jumping through hoops for realtors, inspectors, title companies, money lenders, partners, contractors, and banks, to finally sell the money pit you just spent four months fixing up, congratulations! You are a house flipper. You are stout of heart, questionable in sanity, mostly fit of body, and driven in spirit.

Time to find another house!

You can get the Kindle version of "Flipped: A Jillian McElroy Flipping Mystery" by clicking on the title.

The next one is Liesbet Collaert's long-awaited release:

Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?

 To purchase "Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary," click on the title, which will take you to the global link. You can get it in paperback and e-book.

If you didn't see my last post, I now have a weekly podcast about true crime, unsolved mysteries, cryptids, the paranormal, and more, called Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem. New episodes every Wednesday on your favorite podcast platforms! Today's release is about an area in North Carolina called The Devil's Tramping Ground and the cryptids of Maryland. Click HERE to find the episode listings on our website. If you have a story about one of these topics to share concerning a personal experience or one a family member or friend has experienced, we'd love it if you'd email us so we can read it on the podcast. You can find our email on the website or fill out the form on the main page, which will notify us automatically.

Also, don't miss my new holiday horror collection. These are NOT all Christmas stories. They include holidays from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day. Available in e-book and paperback. Click HERE to purchase. (After some negative opinions about holiday horror, I would appreciate if you refrain from posting similar on my page, thank you.)

Now it's time for my submissions to keep myself accountable. Bearing in mind that I'm in the middle of taking college classes, was starting a podcast and learning how to edit it, and had a book to get out, here are my submissions stats for November:

13 submissions

7 rejections

1 withdrawn

0 acceptances

I was supposed to have a short story come out in an October publication, but one month later, that edition hasn't come out and I've yet to hear a word about it. I've also noticed an increase in markets not bothering with sending rejections, and I'm struggling to continue submitting versus just putting out my own books in light of this. The only thing keeping me from that right now, is that I love the experience of working with editors and meeting other writers who are in the same magazines and books. We'll see. I'm feeling significantly discouraged.

School is going well. I've finished 8 credits since I started. I'm trying to speed it up now.

I hope you have a pleasant December. See you again in 2020!

What are your insecurities? Have you been submitting? Have you found the same thing I have with fewer people sending rejections? Are you hanging in there through the pandemic? Interested in any of the new books? Have you tried out the podcast yet?

May you find your Muse.

*Image: Blue Swoosh - OCAL -