Showing posts from July, 2019

Writer's Ramblings

I'm happy to report today that I'm making good progress on the revisions for Death By Library , the 4th book in my Pismawallops PTA mystery series. I had encouraging feedback from my editor (as in, no major plot issues!), and very helpful input from several beta readers on making the writing tighter and keeping the reader engaged in the story. So, after spending several weeks avoiding looking at the feedback I'd begged for, I finally got started and now am enjoying the process of polishing the words, trying to take the writing to another level. For a bit of inspiration, I have been listening to books by Richard Peck and Ivan Doig, two masters in the art of making language stand up and perform. I'm asking something different of my words, and have neither the desire nor the ability to emulate those masters, but I do take inspiration from the recognition of what can be done, just how perfectly each word can be chosen so that it sounds inevitable. That makes me think about

Middle-grade Monday: Here Lies the Librarian

Title: Here Lies the Librarian Author: Richard Peck Publication Info: Dial Books, 2006, 160 pages. Source: Library digital resources Publisher's Blurb: Peewee idolizes Jake, a big brother whose dreams of auto mechanic glory are fueled by the hard road coming to link their Indiana town and futures with the twentieth century. And motoring down the road comes Irene Ridpath, a young librarian with plans to astonish them all and turn Peewee’s life upside down.This novel, with its quirky characters, folksy setting, classic cars, and hilariously larger-than-life moments, is vintage Richard Peck – an offbeat, deliciously wicked comedy that is also unexpectedly moving. 
 My Review:  Richard Peck's historical fiction served in part as inspiration when I wrote my Ninja Librarian stories. I first read this one after I'd written at least the first book, which is maybe just as well, because if I'd read this first, I might have given up and left the librarians to Peck. Actuall

Photo Friday: South Island Road Trip, Part II

Back in late February, we did a trip from Christchurch down the east coast of South Island all the way to Invercargill, then up to Te Anau, the launching point for our Milford Track tramp. I've picked a few highlights from the trip south, into an area that gets a lot less attention than many parts of the island. We weren't sure what we'd find, but we found more than enough to fill our 4 days! On this trip were my husband and me, Eldest Son, and our son's friend, whom I'll call Friend B. Part I of the trip is here . The Catlins (Cathedral Caves, McLean Falls, Petrified Forest, Slope Point) The Catlins is the farthest-south region of South Island, encompassing both the Catlins Forest Park and some amazing coastline with a few hidden gems. We stayed two nights in Fortrose so we could spend an entire day exploring. Since at least two stops were dependent on the tides, we had to time things carefully. I ended last week's post with Cathedral Caves, so we&#

Review: Rough Magic

Title: Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race Author: Lara Prior-Palmer Publication Info: May 2019, Catapult. 288 pages. Source: Library digital resources Publisher's Blurb: For fans of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk , this is the extraordinary debut memoir of a young woman who traveled to Mongolia to compete in the world’s longest, toughest horse race, and emerged as its youngest and first-ever female winner. At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”—an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decided to enter the race. As she boarded a plane to East Asia, she was utterly unprepared for what awaited her. Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that recreates the horse messenger system developed by Geng

Mystery Monday: Out of Options review

Note: I shared a Spotlight for this novella during the Great Escapes blog tour, but thought it best to wait on my review, as I would probably not give this the requisite 3 stars, if I gave star, which I don't :D Title: Out of Options (Century Cottage Mysteries prequel novella) Author: Dianne Ascroft Publication Info: April 2019, 126 pages. Contains novella and bonus short story "City Sunsets." Source: Great Escapes Blog Tours Publisher's Blurb: Out of Options is a prequel novella to the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series, and introduces Lois Stone and her companions, Raggs and Ribbons, a pair of perceptive calico cats. A dry district, a shocking secret, a missing person. When Lois Stone’s friend, Beth Darrow, arranges to meet her to reveal an astonishing discovery, Lois’s curiosity is piqued. Then Beth doesn’t keep their lunch date and Lois becomes worried. What has happened to her friend? Middle-aged widow Lois is settling into life on her own in her neighb

#Fi50: Fiction in 50 words: Taking it to the...

I think this post was supposed to go up several days ago... once again lost track of time! Fiction in 50 is a regular feature in the last week of every month and I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in! I didn't do a heads-up post this month, but feel free to jump in at any time.      What is #Fi50? In the words of founder Bruce Gargoyle, "Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!" Pack a beginning, middle and end of story into 50 words or less (bonus points for hitting exactly 50 words). The rules for participation are simple : 1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less, ideally using the prompt as title or theme or inspiration. That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule: 2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Ninja Librarian’s post for everyone to enjoy.  And for those thrill-seekers

Photo Friday: South Island Road trip, Part I

Still working my way through the photos from our time in New Zealand! Back in late February, we did a trip from Christchurch down the east coast of South Island all the way to Invercargill, then up to Te Anau, the launching point for our Milford Track tramp. I've picked a few highlights from the trip south, into an area that gets a lot less attention than many parts of the island. We weren't sure what we'd find, but we found more than enough to fill our 4 days Oamaru: Steampunk HQ This trip included not only our 21-y.o. son, but a friend of his as well (I'll call him Friend B). It was in part with the boys in mind that we planned a visit to Steampunk Headquarters. We didn't regret it. At the entrance. Kind of a Mad Max feel.  Out back there were a lot of interesting machines welded together from stray parts and a lot of imagination. Definitely a Mad Max feel.  One of the fun things was the Metagalactic pipe organ, which played sounds picked up from around the univer

Writer's Wednesday: #amwriting

Yep, you read that correctly! I have actually resumed work on my MS, and while the first thing I did was get distracted and went down a rabbit hole (or maybe a wormhole) of fixing some issues with an earlier book, I HAVE started! I have also started my story for the IWSG anthology. Unfortunately, I've started that 4 times (maybe 5. About 2 for the story I dropped because it's fantasy and adventure but not necessarily historical, and 3 starts on the story I want to write, a pure historical adventure). So I can't say the writing is going well, but the very fact that it's happening at all is huge. Oh, and I've been working over the blurb for the new book, because my cover artist gave me a nudge... Yeah, there's some hope that I might be a writer. On the happy dance list: --started to work on the MS --started on my IWSG story --enjoying tons of garden produce--canned 7 quarts of tomatoes on Friday, and made a peach pie for Sunday dinner with the family --working out

YA Audiobook Review: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Title: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Author: Chris Crutcher. Read by Johnny Heller Publication Info: Recorded Books LLC, 2007.  Original: Greenwillow Books, 1993. 224 pages. Source: Library digital resources Publisher's Blurb: Sarah Byrnes and Eric Calhoune have been friends for years. When they were children, his weight and her scars made them both outcasts. Now Sarah Byrnes—the smartest, toughest person Eric has ever known—sits silent in a hospital. Eric must uncover the terrible secret she’s hiding before its dark current pulls them both under. Will appeal to fans of Marieke Nijkamp, Andrew Smith, and John Corey Whaley. 
 My Review:   I'd heard about this book for a while, though I can't now recall why or where. I was vaguely under the impression that it was a middle grade book (for the 8-12 crowd), but in spite of having gotten it from the Kids' section of the library's Overdrive collection, it is definitely YA. The book deals with some pretty heavy issue

Friday Flash:

No, I haven't been writing enough to have a new flash for you today. But no fear--I have plenty of re-runs you probably didn't see or don't remember! As a little encouragement to myself as I get back to work (at last!) on Death By Library , I have a short story from Pismawallops Island. Unlike the books, this is from the perspective of the town's police chief, Ron Karlson. I picked it in part because it features a character who plays a larger role in the new book. In the Line of Duty When his radio disturbed him, Ron Karlson was sitting in his police cruiser staring out to sea and thinking. “Chief? You out there?” The Pismawallops Island police force, having precisely 2.5 officers, could be informal. He reached for the handset. “Karlson here.” “Homer’s lost his car again.” The dispatcher sounded like she was rolling her eyes. Homer Roller. The biggest disaster ever to grace a cop car. He had a tendency to leave the car in odd places, forget where he’d parked, and hit th

Release Promo and Review: Poisoned By the Pier

I missed release day by a couple of weeks, but I'm here at last with a review the latest in Ellen Jacobson's delightful Mollie McGhie mystery series. I just finished a binge-read of the whole book! Title: Poisoned by the Pier (Mollie McGhie Sailing Mysteries #3) Author: Ellen Jacobson Publication Info: June 2019, 242 pages Source: I was given an ARC by the author in exchange for my honest review Publisher's Blurb: When Mollie's husband signs the two of them up for an extreme diet, she's not amused. When someone ends up poisoned by a cake, things get even worse. While she tries to identify the killer, Coconut Cove’s annual boating festival is in full swing. In between getting ready for her first sailing race and cheating on her diet, Mollie and her cat, Mrs. Moto, uncover clues, interview suspects, and do their best to avoid rutabagas. Can Mollie nab the killer before someone else is poisoned? If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocola