Reading Through the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge

Image Source: Popsugar Photography
   Reading is essential to writing. Every writer began his or her career as a reader.
   In the last few years, I haven’t done as much reading as I used to do. Actually, since I began publishing my work in 2012, I haven’t made time to read anything but my own manuscripts. This year, I challenged myself to read more books from a variety of genres. I happened upon the Popsugar Challenge.

   As I go through the list, I’ll update this post with my impressions of the books I’ve read. They will be listed in reverse order with the last book I read showing at the top of the list.

Prompt 3

  The next book in a series you started – Return to Tradd Street by Karen White

  This is the fourth book in the Tradd Street series. I really enjoyed books one and two. The ending of book three was rather disappointing. Book four drags the Melanie/Jack relationship out to its ultimate happy-for-now conclusion. I wouldn’t call this a happily-ever-after sort of book. This couple still has relationship issues, which I understand continue to cause them problems in book five. I’m not sure I’ll read book five. I think I want to leave Melanie and Jack right where they are.
  White’s series is paranormal romance. Actually, this series, along with Heather Graham’s Krewe of Hunters series, inspired me to write paranormal suspense. So, as you can imagine, I enjoyed reading the haunting scenes. Interwoven with the ghost story was a nice mystery to resolve. White wrapped up both the mystery and the ghost story satisfactorily for me.
  The Tradd Street books are not by any means an intense read. If the reader can get past Melanie’s annoying personality and Jack’s obliviousness to the obvious, this book is a fun read. The book was a refreshing departure from the serious content of the previous two books I read.

  I give Return to Tradd Street four stars because the author gets a bit redundant in describing Melanie’s annoying habits and her continued lack of self-esteem. White needs to grow the woman up a bit. She’s had four books to accomplish some character growth, and Melanie is still whiny and irritating.

 Prompt 2

   A true crime story – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

   Midnight is not a true crime story in the accepted definition of the genre. Rather it is a real-life event portrayed in a fictionalized manner. Sometimes it seemed a bit too fictionalized and a bit too literary. The story suffered from lack of the grit of a documentary exposition of a murder. A true murder story should show blood on the page. To be fair, the book is listed on Amazon under Customs and Traditions rather than True Crime.
   The author spent the first part of the book doing in-depth character sketches of eccentric personalities who lived in Savannah, Georgia, at the time of the Danny Hansford murder. By the time part two began and the author dove into the murder and its aftermath, I had almost given up on reading anything at all about the crime. The central event in the book, the murder, was secondary to the unnamed narrator’s impressions of the people of Savannah. I wanted to know about the murder and all its gory details. I didn’t get my true crime fix.
  Midnight attempted an in-depth analysis of the socially inbred culture of a town that had for all intents and purposes isolated itself from the rest of the world. The author exposes his perceptions of the ugliness underneath the polished veneer of Savannah society, but then he glosses it over as if to say, “That’s just Savannah being Savannah.”
  I give the book four stars. Sometimes the excessive characterization bogged down the narrative. Underneath the in-depth analysis of Savannah society, there was, after all, a murder story that was dying to be told.

  Prompt 1

  A book on which a movie I’ve watched was based – Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

  I expected so much from this book because I enjoyed the movie. Now, I look back on my movie-going experience and I wonder why I did. Maybe I don’t remember the movie quite as well as I thought I did.
  So much about this book and its characterization disturbs me. I think the author meant for the heavy premise to be softened by the antics and eccentricities of the Ya-Yas. On the surface, this would appear to be a chick book about the never-ending loyalty of a group of eccentric friends. Not so. I found it to be a book about a grown woman caving in to her demanding mother in exchange for some grudging affection. The book was more about a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship than the power of healthy friendships. The ending left me unsatisfied.
  Possibly the most annoying thing about the book was the author’s word choices. I’m from Louisiana. I’ve lived here all my life, and I can tell you for a fact that ya’ll is not spelled yall without an apostrophe. Never has been; never will be. No self-respecting Louisianan would call the small, red crustacean a crayfish. About the only thing authentic about Louisiana was the author’s description of the unbearable humidity in...well, most of the year.
  Don’t even get me started on the contrived dialog. No one in real life banters like Sidda and her friends or Vivi and the Ya-Yas. The dialog sounded like it came straight out of an old Hollywood movie.
  I give the book two and a half stars. It kept my attention, but I grumbled a lot while I read it. I found nothing at all divine about the Ya-Yas or their secrets.


New Year's Resolutions? No. But I Do Have Some Writing Goals

Happy New Year, everyone! Some of you are glad 2017 is over and history. Some of you might be sad to see the old year go. I have mixed feelings about 2017. Some good things happened and some not so good things.

I’m started this new year off with some goals. And I’m happy to report that I’ve already completed my first task: cleaning out my clothes closet. So I’m marking one task off my list already. Yay!

Someone told me she was trying this new method of deciding what clothes to keep and what clothes to toss. No, it’s not the hold-it-in-your-hand-and-decide-if-it-brings-you-happiness method. I tried that with questionable results. It depends on what day I’m trying on a certain piece of clothing if it makes me happy or not. This new method is called the backward hangers method. Turn all your hangers around backward, and after you wear a piece of clothing, hang it forwards. By the end of 2018, you should know which clothes you still wear and which to get rid of. We shall see if this method works on New Year’s Day 2019.

So onward to my writing goals for 2018.

Goal Number One: Release at least four books.

The Rush of Winds Through Magnolias and Wild Rose were the only two new books I published in 2017. I did a lot of writing last year, but most of my new work is scheduled for release in 2018. Truthfully, I should have concentrated on finishing the Haunted Hearts series, because toward the end of 2017, my personal life interfered with my writing schedule, and the release of book number ten was postponed longer than I had planned.

The final book in the River Road Set of Haunted Hearts, The Sweet Madness of Honeysuckle is on pre-sale now and set for release on January 21, 2018. So that’s release number one.

I’ve completed the first book in the new Prescience series, Second Sight, with a tentative release date of April 15, 2018. Here's the link to a chapter one sneak peek. My goal is to have the next book in the series Dream Sight written before I release Second Sight, and release Dream Sight six weeks later toward the end of May or the beginning of June 2018. So that’s books number two and three.

My plan is to complete Oceans Apart for release in September 2018. So that’s book number four.
And last but not least, I promised Jane that I would start the Dare Island series this year. So hopefully that’s book number five.

I know it’s an ambitious goal, but Second Sight and Honeysuckle are already written, and if life doesn’t get in the way, I might be able to release all five books.

Goal Number Two: Establish a regular email newsletter schedule and stick to it.

My goal is to send out a newsletter every other month. Every month is too much. I want to send you news about my writing and my release schedule that is informative and of interest, so I don’t send out a newsletter just to send a newsletter. Hopefully, there will be more news to report in 2018.

Goal Number Three: Start a Facebook Group just for my readers.

I love getting feedback from readers and interacting with you. A private group would make communicating so much easier. I want to make it a place where my readers can go to view content that is exclusively for them. Sneak peeks. Special offers. Contests. I'll let you know when the group goes online.

I'm excited about my goals for 2018. I hope everyone has a happy, safe, successful, and totally wonderful New Year.

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