Fandom Fridays with Chair Dancing, Reading, Watching, Listening, and Beginner Walking


What kind of image do you get with that?

Well… whatever you just thought of, that’s your imagination at play or at the work of play.

For me, chair dancing means dancing in my chair.

Why? Well, I injured myself last November and I’m still healing. When I look at that last sentence, I wonder, when did I get so impatient with the miracle of the physical resilience of this body God gave me? I don’t know, but I think I’m even more impatient than I was as a teenager.

I fell down in November, bruised bones, gave myself massive swelling and edemas (water-filled swellings) in my knees, especially my left knee, and a bit in my right hand. And it is February, four months later and I am healing at a slower rate than I had hoped.

I love to dance, which is difficult when I have been told to rest my knees and sit, or ice and elevate, or possibly do physical therapy exercises, but not too many because… I made my swelling worse by doing too many. Grr.

So, given that I love to dance and sing, and I think both of these activities work best from a standing position, what can I do? (BTW, this does not mean I am particularly good at these activities, but I love to do them.)

But even if I can’t stand up, I can chair dance, which is essentially like car dancing, except with more freedom of movement. I can shake, shimmy, wave my hands in the air like I just don’t care, and do the wave. (Yep, I used to breakdance back when it was newish in the early 80s, and I never injured my back that way – I have scoliosis and actually had stronger back muscles thanks to dance, which kept me out of a brace, but I digress.)

And no, there will be no video evidence recorded.

For some reason, I didn’t even chair dance the first few months of my injuries, partly because I threw my back out when I fell, and partly because I just felt exhausted. Today, though, I definitely did some chair dancing because I am slowly feeling better (despite the exhaustion post last Friday).

So, today, I am thankful I feel good enough for chair dancing. And I dare you to try it. Turn on some tunes you like, or create your own rhythm, and go for it.

Doesn’t that feel good?


Now, onto why I created these posts:

The Reading Challenge

I have been reading non-fiction and poetry, but mainly, I’ve been reading fiction by Indie Authors.

16. Wild Swans by K.M. Shea is a fractured fairy tale, the second of three in Shea’s compilation Timeless Fairy Tales: Books 1-3. I enjoyed this story, partly because I love this fairy tale, and partly because in this version, the main character had more agency. However, I wasn’t sure I liked how much she put up with the bossiness of her stepbrothers.

17. Cinderella and the Colonel by K.M. Shea is a fractured fairy tale, the third of three in Shea’s compilation of Timeless Fairy Tales: Books 1-3. I enjoyed this more than I expected to, and I had a lot of fun reading this story. Again, Cinderella had more agency in this version of the story. All of the characters received a better treatment and I plan on reading this version of the classic a few more times, because there were some really interesting additions to this version.

18. Shield of Shadow by C.F.E. Black is a YA romantic fantasy, and also a coming-of-age story about a young woman who discovers that the power she’s been trying to suppress and use sparingly is actually a sign that she’s one of the most powerful sorcerers of her land, but she’s heard her power could be evil most of her life and so she fears using it. The romantic interest in this particular book didn’t work for me too well, but I did like the main character enough to purchase the next book in the series: Blade of Ash, which I haven’t finished as I write this post.


We finished watching The Recruit as a family, and aw… that cliff hanger. Despite that, we are all sure we want to come back to it when it returns. It’s well-written with great acting and direction. Not sure I loved all of episode 7, but still good. BTW, my family is comprised of YA and adults, and I don’t know if I would watch The Recruit with tweens or younger.

We also started watching Lockwood and Co, which has a slightly creepier vibe than I normally like, but the acting, direction, and dialogue are great. It’s hard to just watch one episode, so we try to keep aside time for two, and then stop.

These are both Netflix shows, and I have to say, Netflix is doing a great job with them.

Shotgun Wedding on Amazon Prime was a fun watch, but despite the talents of the stars and the full cast of known names, it felt very fitting for a streaming show.


Mainly old music again, to get my groove going for chair dancing, or instrumentals for writing. Favorite songs this week: “I’ll Be Alright” by Beckah Shae, “Rhapsody in Blue” (Gershwin), “Me Without You” by Toby Mac, “Good Day” by Nappy Roots, “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, Phil Whickham’s “My All in All”, and a number of Jesse Cook’s guitar solos, along with a writing soundtrack I found on Spotify created by another author. I guess the theme has been mainly upbeat, jazz-funk, with a little flamenco and faith (trying to get myself in the mood to write, dance, and sing).

Beginner Walking

In middle age, I didn’t think I would be relearning to walk correctly, but I am. I have to remember to keep my knees over my feet. I take small steps. I consider going to Costco a marathon level event. My long driveway is enough of a workout for me, even if I do it separately from my Physical Therapy exercises.

Writing News and Events

I’m not sure I’ll be going to the Litfest at Lakewold Gardens. I intend(ed) to, but the leg has been hurting today, so it’s going to be on a “see how I feel” basis.

I’m enjoying the class I’m teaching: Writing Short Stories Weekly, and I hope my students are getting some motivation, life, and skill out of the class.

For writing life, I have Dark Blade: Tempered releasing one episode a week, Dark Blade: Forged is with a trusted editor, I am uploading a new story under a pen name for Kindle Vella and there’s a story behind that story that I’m not ready to share, but the writing is going well for those and the non-fiction project, and the poetry. My journal is very full and that’s a good thing.

Until next week, why don’t you all do some chair dancing with me? Turn on whatever music you like and go for it. Wave those hands. Shimmy those shoulders. 🙂

IWSG February: Book Covers

As the first Wednesday of the month, today is The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day blog hop, a monthly blog hop over a decade old started by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, Sci-fi Author and Great Encourager.

Each month, several volunteers step forward to help manage the hop, and this month, these intrepid writers and professional authors are: Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse Van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

Today’s Optional Industry Question is: If you are an indie author, do you design your own book covers or have them professionally designed? If you are traditionally published, how much say do you have in your book cover design?

My answer straddles all the writing I’ve done.


As a traditionally published short story, poem, and article writer, I do not often have much, if any, choice in how my work is presented with images or cover designs.

Online publications attach specific images with short works to makes these works pop off the page and be more enticing to readers. However, I often have people assume these are my photos, and they usually are not. For example, I had a poem published at The Drabble called “Quest (ioning) Cat” and a photo of a tortoiseshell cat was attached to it. Readers assumed this was my cat, when actually my cat was a black and white American mix. However, I loved the image they chose, even if it wasn’t “my” cat because honestly, once you send your work into the world, the reader’s imagination or the editor’s imagination fills in the blanks.

This is also true for larger anthologies, like The IWSG 2017 publication of their 2016 Anthology Contest Award Winners, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, in which my short story “Of Words and Swords” was originally published professionally. I love the cover of the book and I think it suits the stories within it, even if I didn’t design it. I think it’s interesting and sometimes fun to see what other people’s imaginations come up with for groups of stories.

The Champion Trilogy, Variations on a Theme

The following images show the way my first book covers changed over three different iterations. The first covers were created by my niece, a designer who has decided to work on designs for logos and events, instead of book covers. The two of us didn’t really know how to work on book covers together, but her hand drawn images (not shown here) wowed me, and we attempted to figure out book cover design together. The very first cover she created was the one with the girl reaching for the sword, which I loved, but for some reason, we didn’t know how to make the colors work with the uploads for Amazon and we kept getting different color variations from the same image, so we moved away from that to simpler color schemes for the trilogy.

After a while, I decided to try to recreate the covers on my own, using a combination of images purchased from Shutterstock and a Pro Canva account, which gives me a license to use certain images for professional designs I create on the account. The last three book covers (the current ones) are those.

Short Story E-book Covers

I created all of my short story Ebook book covers, because I meant from the start of creating them to use them as a “free” or inexpensive way to gather readers’ interest for my work. In retrospect, I could have been a bit wiser about this process, but I like many of my covers, both old and new. This is just a sampling of short book variations. I have taken many off the market for now, although I am tempted to put them back up. Keeping them “permafree” on Amazon took too much fiddling with them on a regular basis and most of them need to have their back matter refinished, something I’ve fallen behind on. Seedling is still my most downloaded short title.

To create these, I used Microsoft Publisher and images I purchased or found free in free domain sites, although that made me nervous even when I cited them properly, so I have gone more and more to using images via Shutterstock or Canva Pro, which I have a license to use and have paid some $ for. In some instances, I have used my own photography, but that is rare. What is more common is for me to find an image, purchase the copyright, and manipulate it until it fits what I hope the cover is conveying.

Professionally Designed Covers

Working with a professional designer for cover design and interior design does take a great deal of the work load off of me in the creation of an Ebook or Paperback, and I’ve discovered in the process that I’m not always a good communicator of what I hope to do, which makes it really hard on the designer to work. If you are an Indie author, I suggest taking some serious time to study the current trends in book covers, then take the main elements of your book, think about how they would fit in the current trends, and then discuss this with your book designer.

I loved working with Carrie Butler, but I ignored some of her suggestions, and I think, well, I think these are lovely, but now, after much more study of cover designs, I think I could have gone a slightly different direction. I love the color scheme, and I love the lettering. I love so much about these covers. However, I missed the trend of putting people on the cover, something Carrie Butler suggested that I ignored. Considering these are YA novellas with a hint of romance in them, having at least one or two characters on each cover might have been wise. And yet, I still love them, which means I need to work on my own way of looking at my books in the future.

More Canva Designed Covers

Due to the fact that I haven’t made a great deal of $ from my writing, I have to take cost into consideration for every cover and every aspect of each book. I know covers sell, but I also know how much I have to budget for each book and I need to create covers which are both cost-effective and eye-catching. I have discovered that I enjoy creating covers, while, as I mentioned above, it’s taken me a long while to discover what works, and what doesn’t. Certain colors convey specific moods, tones, and storylines, as well as the age of readership.

These are my own latest designs, using purchased images, and the Canva Pro design tools:

Do they all work? Well, there are a few here I’m thinking of changing at some point in the future, but my understanding of cover design has slowly grown over the years, and I think I’m getting better at it. The amount of time and effort I put into each depends on the purpose of the design and how often/much use I plan to get out of it, whether it’s for a series of posts, a short Ebook freebie or inexpensive “interest” title, or a lengthier book I hope to sell again and again.

You may notice I have a few Kindle Vella books on here, and I think I’m going to tackle my Kindle Vella mild obsession in the next post I do on Wednesday. There’s a reason for it.

Do you create your own covers?

End of the Month Monday

This isn’t one of my usual sorts of posts I’ve been working with the last few months. I wanted to take a moment and give thanks for all of January in my writing life.

I have had many extraordinary events take place with my writing this month.

I had a second-place award for my poem “Once Upon A Garden Green and Gold,” followed by a special recording of it, and with a special live recitation of it this weekend on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

I had two hint fiction stories get highlighted in Nail Polish Stories: A Tiny and Colorful Literary Journal.

I had my poem “Along the Edge” published in print by Third Wednesday.

I released 25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection and received three reviews so far on Amazon.

Highlights from those reviews:

“…this was a great collection of scifi stories.” (Kathryn)

“This is an intriguing book of short stories.” (Jemi)

I’ve written onward on a Kindle Vella serialization (and more, under a pen name). I’ve brainstormed in a new story world. I’ve worked out some issues with a pesky novella I really want to finish soon, and I’ve read some wonderful books.

So, with all of these amazing, extraordinary events, I hope that the rest of 2023 will continue to be wonderful!

On Wednesday, I’ll be posting for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and on Friday, I’ll post more on my reading challenge.

Also, if you are interested, my newsletter sign up is here. I gave a writing update last week. Next week, I’ll give a writing tip.

Life, Writing, Reading Watching, Listening, and Exhaustion: How to Keep Going When You Really Want to Sleep

Whew, that’s a long title, but hopefully it’s a good capture of what’s going on with my Fandom Friday this week.

Due to wonderful life events: a daughter’s 24th birthday, wedding plans, a bit of wedding dress shopping for me, the Mother of the Bride (M.o.B. – I feel like there’s something about that being similar to the MOB… do I get be a M.o.B. Boss? Probably not.), a podcast interview which will be coming out in March, a fun meal-packing event at my church at which we packed 40,000 dry meals for children in Sierra Leone, teaching on Monday, teaching on Wednesday, and some fun writing events last weekend like recording my poem at Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, Washington as preparation for the 2023 Poetry in the Gardens Lit Fest there February 3-5.

And some stressful events: not going to detail those here, but they happened.

Due to the above (wonderful and stressful) life events, sometimes, there are days when I need a rest. Most of the time, that means I read a book, or I really dive deep into my reading pile. This week, less so. I had a few days when I read quite a bit, but sometimes I stared out the window instead, or did some writing late at night, or watched one episode of one show on Netflix, and one movie on Amazon Prime. Where did the time go this week?

Prayer. Bible Study. Conversations. Physical Therapy.


Writing and more writing. Plus, I created some pro-con lists for the avenue for a particular project – agent submissions, indie publishing, Kindle Vella indie publishing, under my name, a pen name?

And here I am on Friday, and I discovered the books I read this week were read on Sunday and Monday. Late Wednesday, I read a book on my phone.

Reading onward with the 2023 Reading List:

13. Pride, Prejudice, and Pizza by Shauna Jared. A fun, warm romance I discovered on Kindle Vella. It’s short, probably around 12,000 words, so it’s more like a lengthy short story or a short novelette, but it was a fun read with good humor and great HEA. Contemporary Romance.

14. Song of Ebony (A Snow White Retelling) by Deborah Grace White. This is the first of a new series and the world-building within the book is excellently paced as the characters live in and discover new aspects of their world, which is full of wild magic, dangerous to humans on an island they live with the elves, who they believe tricked them into dying on the ground in their past. The main character, Bianca, is a young woman but her hair has turned all white due to contact with magic unexpectedly. She loves to make her words “dance,” and this becomes an important aspect to the story, so I can’t quite give away what this means, but I loved the idea. Clean Fantasy Adventure Romance by a Christian Indie Author.

15. Beauty and Beast, one of the three novellas in Timeless Fairy Tales: Books 1-3 by K.M. Shea. This is a fractured fairy tale retelling and I enjoyed the way Ella is not the typical Belle, but a highly skilled spy for the crown, and the “beast” prince is hiding away in his castle to protect his servants from being bullied by those who fear the curse. Clean Fairy Tale Fantasy Romance.

In addition to these, I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (American version) by JK Rowling, inspired by the lovely Jen Chandler, who is re-reading the whole series with anyone who wants to join in and creating some great blog posts about it.

Plus, I’m re-reading Miracles by C.S. Lewis with my College Prep LA class.

And then there’s a bookshelf of library books and such which… well, I’ll get to them, or I won’t in the next 3-6 weeks (depending on if I can renew specific titles).

Plus, I read a bunch of industry and non-fiction articles, but don’t have enough time to go into those in detail here.

Film watched:

Episode 7 of The Recruit on Netflix, and The Electric Life of Louis Wain, which was a wild ride of a biopic on Amazon Prime.


I went back to my 2022 Spotify List, found a song I wanted to listen to and started there, plus I listened to some worship music, but I wasn’t feeling up for podcasts this week. For writing, I did listen to a bit of Jesse Cook, all guitar, no lyrics, and that inspired some of my writing time.

Exhaustion and How to Keep Going When You Really Want to Sleep

I’m not sure I have the time at the end of this long post to tackle this topic properly, but I can say four things helped me:

  1. Napping. Twenty-forty minutes can make a difference for me. Even tiny five-minute deep-breathing breaks help me recharge.
  2. Water. Plenty of it. While I think caffeine is going to energize me, sometimes it doesn’t, and then only water will help.
  3. Healthy food. Basically, if I eat too much sugar or salt, I feel even more tired. It’s hard to make healthy choices when I’m already tired and birthday cake is in the house, but sugar and salt will just make my exhaustion worse. My faves this week for boosting my energy: bone broth-based turkey soup and fresh sugar snap peas.
  4. Exercise in small doses (5 minutes) throughout the day helps reenergize me without making the exhaustion worse. (BTW, I have ongoing health issues, plus my body is taking a long time to recover from an injury, so I am more prone to tiredness than average, and I’m not “sick” in the sense of some random virus or bug.)

Bonus: Planning an early evening or two (or the rest of the week) helps, too. Bedtime tonight: 9:15 PM, and I may repeat that throughout next week.

Writing Book Review of Wonderbook

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Writing Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandemeer caught my attention at a writing conference in 2019. After glancing at it several times, I purchased a copy because it was too intriguing to pass up.

Wonderbook is what it says it is, an illustrated guide to writing. The book is part prose, part art, part graphic non-fiction, part asides from various well-known authors, and part glossary of methods for boosting creativity with various exercises. So, while, there were some parts I didn’t like as well, I spent quite a bit of time pouring over its pages, marking up bits that I thought I would come back to, and writing reflections about it in my journal, as well as a few ideas sparked by some of the tips and some of the exercises.

Due to the “snippet” type nature of many of the sections of the book, I used this book as an off and on-again resource for three and a half years, so for me, it wasn’t a fast read. I plan to store it on my shelf and go back to it again, using the many tabs and highlights I created in it, because I am a book tabber and highlighter with non-fiction books I own.

Again, there are parts of the book I like less, some beliefs he has about writing that I don’t share, but I still enjoyed the book.

If you are looking for something unique, different, and visual as a writing guide, and if you write speculative fiction, you might like Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Writing Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandemeer.

Here’s a sample quote from his section on creating a hook at the beginning of a book:

“A hook cannot be just a hook, either – it must be a lure and alluring, and it must also be an anchor. You are inviting the reader to some sort of enjoyment or challenge or (perhaps) a harrowing experience.”

Jeff Vandemeer

Since I’ve owned this book for some time and I’ve stared at the cover way too many times, I have to say every time I look at the cover, I feel sorry for the whale-like creature holding up the city and wish he/she would dive into the ocean.

Have you read any unique writing books lately?

Fandom Friday: Reading, Listening, and Watching

This is the post where I track my reading goal list for the year, recount movies/shows I’ve liked, and mention other fan enjoyments like music, art, or other eclectic things.


Books posted by the number in which they were read for the year (not just the week).

11. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandemeer is an interesting, wild, and not-like-any-other book I’ve ever read kind of book. It’s a mixture of graphic non-fiction and prose by the author/artist, and article additions by notable authors and artists. I’ll be doing a full review in my Monday Writing Craft Book Review post.

12. So Far So Good: Final Poems: 2014-2018 by Ursala K. Le Guin. Finished and sent to her publisher mere weeks before her passing, this is Ursala K. Le Guin’s final contribution to the written word, and it is worthwhile reading. While I loved the first twenty pages best in this one-hundred-page volume, the book is a beautifully written, poignant read about the final days of life.

While I’ve been working away slowly at a few reads this week, that’s all I’ve finished reading that I want to mention. (Which means, yes, I did finish a book that I’m not even counting in my read list because I ended up skimming it to finish.)

A book on my current-reading pile I didn’t mention last week is Perspectives: On the World Christian Movement.


Usually if my reading list is short, there’s a longer watch list, but that’s not the case this week. This last week, I have been watching:

The Recruit, a streaming Netflix show about a young, an energetically aware and slightly arrogant lawyer for the CIA who ends up stumbling onto a troubling graymail case that sends him globe-trotting into high danger, and even possibly worse, getting into arguments with his roommates. The lead actor is someone we’ve seen in a bunch of Netflix Rom-Coms, and he’s a talented actor, able to pull off a more serious role with some comedy on the side. The dialogue and show-writing make this a fun show to watch, but the lead actor’s non-verbal acting takes this show up a notch.

We haven’t finished the season yet, so please don’t share any spoilers in the comments. I have been having this suspicion that _______ may be playing _____________ and ____________ and the ____________ may actually be ________________.

It will be interesting to see if this show lands easily or lands with the twist I suspect it to have.

Listening, Art, and Really Cool Artists, Authors, and Creatives to Check Out

While I have taken part in some podcasts with One Hope Church and plan to record this afternoon for The Mighty Books podcast hosted by Ryan Oliver, I keep brainstorming and recording snippets for the podcast I hope to host one day… someday. I’ll see.

Until then, I’ve been listening to The Might Books podcast hosted by Ryan Oliver, The Happy Writer podcast hosted by Marissa Meyer, and the Theology and Therapy podcast hosted by Lysa Terkheurst.

Artists, Authors, and Creatives I’ve recently followed via their newsletters are: Austin Kleon, author and artist of Newspaper Blackout, Steal Like an Artist, Keep Going, and Show Your Work; and Colleen M. Story, Author of Your Writing Matters, Writer Get Noticed, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, and multiple fiction books.

A few of the articles I’ve read this week:

The One Thing You Need to Do to Reach Your Writing Goals – Writing and Wellness

So, what have I been doing?

Celebrating my second-place win with the Lakewold Poetry in the Gardens Contest. It definitely hasn’t become old news yet to me, if it ever will. Plus, I went to an Open Mic reading night with Creative Colloquy on Monday and taught my first class in the Writing Short Stories Weekly 7-session class.

I’m also attempting to create a better organizational system for my three part-time jobs, my group of writing projects, my ongoing quest to learn creative and practical skills, and my volunteer work. If this sounds exciting, imagine spreadsheets, file folders, and charts.

I’m also switching over to MailerLite for my Newsletter, due to some glitchy moments with my last newsletter host, which keeps kicking me off their website and not letting me back on, no matter if I try to use their website on my laptop, phone, or a desktop computer at the library. If you are interested, the new newsletter Sign Up is HERE.

If you were previously signed up to the other newsletter, it is legal for me to bring over those names to the new one, so I did. You can decide to opt out at any time.

Why sign up for author newsletters?

The benefit I receive from reading the newsletters I receive is that I enjoy reading about the ways other authors and creatives find ways to keep going with their creative life, how they see the world, what new projects they have, and what’s inspiring them. The newsletters are often filled with tips, motivation, encouragement, and sometimes, #freebies. So, what will mine have, in this new iteration?

Based on feedback from my last poll, it will have: Writing Tips and Goal Setting for Authors and Readers. May also include limited time #freebies in the form of short stories or poetry.

2nd Place! And other News

I entered and won second place in the Lakewold Poetry in the Gardens Contest! I had hopes, but not that high, so I was pleasantly surprised and amazed to gain a second-place win. Celebrations will occur officially February 3rd-5th at the Lakewold Lit Fest Poetry in the Gardens Event in Lakewood, Washington.

The event includes live readings, workshops, and open mic readings will go through the whole weekend. Writers, readers, poets, and poetry lovers are all welcome!

To find out more or get tickets to the event, go to the Poetry in the Gardens Lit Fest Page.

This Wednesday, January 18th, I’ll be teaching my first class in a seven-class series called Writing Stories Weekly at Tacoma Community College. Find out more at their Continuing Education Page.

Before that, I’ll be at the Creative Colloquy Open Mic night tonight at Anthem Coffee-Stadium District tonight at 7p.m. Show up, listen, and take the mic with your own writing!

Do you have any news to share? Have you been to any writing events lately? Ever won a prize in a poetry contest? Please share in the comments.

Fandom Friday: Reading and Watching

This week, I’m sharing an update on my reading challenge – what I finished reading this week – plus what a little off my bookshelf of current reads, and a few shows I’ve enjoyed recently. You might note my tastes are a bit eclectic.

What I finished reading over the last week:

The numbers start at #5 because I finished four books during the first week of the year and this is adding onto that list.

5. Felicity by Mary Oliver. I love this little book of poems. I will reread them again and again.

6. Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver. This was a library read, and while I loved some essays, I disliked others, so it was enjoyable, but maybe not all for me as a reader.

7. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This was a re-read for me, since I was preparing to read the rest of the trilogy which I had checked out of the library. Aurora Rising is a wild ride of future sci-fi adventure with aliens, romance, and an unexpected antagonist. YA Scifi Fun.

8. Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. So good. I think I may have liked this one better than the first. Can’t say much because I might reveal spoilers. Again, YA Scifi Fun. Unfortunately, it ended with a tough cliff-hanger, which made me glad I had book 3 ready to read.

9. Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Krisoff. I liked it. I laughed at some parts and cried at others. But there was one section that kind of slogged for me as a reader, so it saddened me that this was the last book. I just wanted it to be as good as the second one. Still, I am glad I read this trilogy.

10. All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. I really liked this graphic novel. It had a fun premise and a painfully good coming-of-age character arc. While set in contemporary times, the main character’s family work at a Renaissance Faire year-round, and the main character has been immersed in Ren-Faire traditions as a homeschool student. In this story, she goes to public school and middle school for the first time. Middle Grade, Contemporary Graphic Novel. I didn’t like this as much as I liked Jamieson’s Roller Girl, but it was a fun read from my library.

On my bookshelf now:

  1. Wonderbook by Jeff Vandemeer. This is a wild writing craft book that I’ve been reading off and on for nearly two years. I’ll finish it up soon.
  2. Your Writing Matters by Colleen M. Story. This is a fact-filled motivational book and I’m enjoying it so it will be on my shelf for a little longer as I soak it in and reread sections.
  3. 40 Days Through the Bible. I’ll probably finish this in 80 days at the rate I’m reading it, partly because I have another Bible study I’m doing, but so far, it’s middling. It’s an overview of the whole Bible, and while I like the themes and ideas presented, I feel like the questions could be more robust. But then… who am I kidding? I’m doing two Bible studies, so probably it’s best the questions feel light.
  4. Herbarium: The Quest to Preserve & Classify the World’s Plants by Barbara M. Thiers. This was a happenstance library find today and I am surprised at how much I like it. (My mom is a plant enthusiastic/backyard, DIY horticulturist and my dad loves organic gardening and can discuss it for hours, so… maybe that’s why.)
  5. So Far So Good: Final Poems: 2014-2018 by Ursala K. Le Guin. She sent this book of poems into her publisher just a few weeks before she passed away. Her poetry is moving, and I dove in today when I found it at the library and read twenty poems before thinking of moving again, so… I will read and re-read this one.
  6. The Blue Bar by Damyanti Biswas is a thriller, and a bit grittier of a read than I usually choose, but Damyanti is a writing acquaintance/friend via the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I read her first award-winning, best-selling book Beneath Your Skin, and I can tell just 25 pages in that The Blue Bar is going to be just as good. If you haven’t read her work, I recommend it.

And there will be random reads that pop up in the middle of reading these, but I’m happy with what I have on my shelf at the moment.

What I’ve Watched Lately and Liked

Please note since this has been a reading intensive week, these shows and movies are ones which I’ve watched over the last month or so.

  1. Wednesday is a supernatural comedy horror show streaming on Netflix, based on the character from The Addams Family. I really liked this show. It’s dark, it’s odd, the humor is a bit grim, but I really liked it. I really wanted (redacted name) to actually be (redacted information) for (redacted name), but the way it went, it made total sense from a storytelling point of view. Excellent writing, casting, directing, everything.
  2. The Glass Onion, Knives Out II with too many major actors to name this comedic crime drama with some large-than-life characters is no major puzzle for the world’s latest favorite detective Blanc. I think I may like Knives Out best, but this one was fun to watch, too. More is coming in this franchise, which has a wonderful amount of easter eggs in it. 🙂
  3. Jack Ryan, Season 3 with Jim Krasinski on Amazon Prime was fun to watch, especially as we neared the end of the season, but my husband spent a lot of time huffing over badly done tech details, and our family came to the conclusion that we like season 1 best of this show so far.
  4. The English with Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer on Amazon Prime is a limited series that is excellent in the writing, casting, directing, acting, everything. The dialogue is brilliant, and you realize just how much as you get further and further into the episodes, finally discovering some truths about these characters which were hidden at the beginning.
  5. I re-watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Amazon Prime and enjoyed watching it again. I am looking forward to the next Indy movie this year! 🙂
  6. The Chosen, Season 3 has been moving to watch each week as the episodes come out via Youtube or The Chosen app. It’s an excellently made fictionalized adaptation of the lives of Christ’s disciples. The acting, directing, and dialogue are all excellent! I only wish some of the episodes were a bit longer. If you are a stickler for “only what the Bible said” details, then you might not like it, but I think it’s a great way to get into the gospels and a good way to celebrate the life of Christ as both God and Man.

What have you been reading and watching lately? What would you recommend?

And do you notice a trend in my reading and viewing? I do. It’s been shifting lately slightly. I might write a bit about that next week.

If you haven’t read it yet, check out my latest book of short stories: 25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains or my latest video at IG in which I give a reading from one of the short stories.

Next week, I’ll be reading at a Creative Colloquy open mic in Tacoma and teaching the first of my class Writing Short Stories Weekly.

Word and Story Hunter: Celebration, Revelry, and Jubilee

I admit, I was at a loss for words this week, especially which word to pick for this post. And then, I went to the mailbox and found a special envelope containing a contributor copy of the Winter 2023 Edition of 3rd Wednesday, which made me think it might be a good day to discuss the word Celebration.

Celebration is the act of marking one’s pleasure, gladness, or joy at an important event or occasion with a special, typically social, activity. (Oxford Languages.)

Hmm. I wasn’t sure that was the right word. Did I do a special, typically social, activity to celebrate the publication?

Ummm, no. I did create a video I shared on IG with my hair mussed up (needs a trim), wearing a sweatshirt, in front of a sunset I could see from my deck. Does that count?

Kind of, yes, I think.

I didn’t quite go for full revelry, a synonym for celebration which means a lively and noisy festivity. I smiled a lot in the video, and I spoke, but I can’t say it was particularly lively or noisy, and festive.

Hmm. Maybe I need to study the art of celebrating a bit more? It could be a fun sort of study, right?

Another synonym for celebration is jubilee, but since jubilee means to celebrate an anniversary, I don’t think it fits.

But the words for celebration, and other synonyms, had me thinking: Do I really celebrate things? I mean, actually celebrate? Do you celebrate? If we don’t, I think we need to start.

I think celebration takes a kind of courage.

Maybe that sounds strange, but I have fallen into the strange way of thinking of celebrations as some kind of “brag” fest or prideful thing, which is wrong-headed thinking.

Celebrations are about gladness, happiness, joy, and thanksgiving. So, today, I’m celebrating.

My celebration might be smallish, because I’m not feeling the need/want for a noisy, merrymaking event, but I am celebrating.

And, I have much to celebrate.

I’m celebrating:

  1. A poem published in 3rd Wednesday’s Winter 2023 print edition. You can find it at Amazon.
  2. Two hint fiction stories which made it into the 2022 Best of Nail Polish Stories: A Tiny and Colorful Literary Journal publication.
  3. 25 Impossible Tales of Survivors, Flawed Heroes, and Annoyed Villains. Yes, this already happened, but I’m still celebrating. I think celebrations can last a while. 🙂
  4. Getting some good news about health stuff from a doctor. (I can start physical therapy soon for an injury from last fall.)

What are you celebrating today? What kinds of celebrations do you have? And do you celebrate both the small and the big wins?

A Writer’s Book of Days Book Review

This is part of a series of posts for authors and writers, reviewing craft, writing, and inspirational books for authors. With 30 years of DIY reading and some writing classes behind me, I’ve read many, many books on writing. These are just the best of the best. I don’t plan to spend much, if any time, on the ones I didn’t like.

A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life, the Revised Edition by Judy Reeves is a book I picked up between 10-15 years ago at a bookstore. It was, in some ways, a whim purchase. I wasn’t sure how good it was, I hadn’t read reviews, and no one had recommended it to me. But, somehow, I picked it up, I purchased it, and then I read it, reread it, and have re-read favorite sections of it nearly every year since then.

Ideally, A Writer’s Book of Days is read from January 1 through the end of the year, given that it has 365 writing prompts within it. However, I’ve used it off season, or in sections. I enjoy the prompts, but I also enjoy the advice sections. Split into 12 months, with 4-12 sub-sections each, the book is full of helpful tips.

While I did purchase another writing prompt book by Judy Reeves, it doesn’t come close to this one in comparison. I love the combination of motivation, advice, quotes, quirky facts about writers, and prompts.

One of the parts of the advice is this book is that it is based on both experience and pragmatism. For example, this bit from the introduction section:

“At any given practice session, we all start with the same thing – the blank page.”

Judy Reeves, A Writer’s Book of Days, Revised Edition

Maybe that seems obvious and not like advice, but it’s one statement in a section about the effects of writing practice. Later, in that same section, she says:

“If you will practice every day, and be gentle with yourself, you may be amazed. Your writing will be fresher, livelier, more spontaneous. You will take more risks, write more passionately, and reach into places you didn’t know existed.”

Judy Reeves, A Writer’s Book of Days, Revised Edition

She also acknowledges bad days of writing and hard days of writing. The days we need to listen to our muse, and the days we need to ignore it. I especially love the part in the above quote where she says “be gentle with yourself” because although this is a 365-day book of writing prompts and advice, I know I have never actually fulfilled a 365-day writing practice. I may hope to, I may plan for it, but I usually take some breaks, and I remember to be gentle with myself.

The prompts in this book are short prompts. Some of them are quotes. I have found some easy to write to and some extremely challenging to write to, but all are worth writing to. From January, here are three of the prompts:

  • “Write about the passing of hours.”
  • “Write about a shade tree.”
  • “Things you know without asking.”

In every month’s worth of prompts, there are always extras at the end of every chapter, just in case one of the regular ones doesn’t speak to you, or you need/want more writing prompts.

I recommend this book if you like writing prompt books and books of gentle writing advice. I also recommend any writing advice you find, take it with a grain of salt. Always choose what works for your writing strengths.

It is always good to have inspiration at hand, especially when the cursor is blinking, and the page is blank.