Category Archives: Books

Now Available: Perchance To Dream

I love announcing publishing news. This is another collection published by one of my writing chapters, The Salt City Genre Writers. It contains the first of several stories I have releasing this year and represents the creative triumphs I eeked out from the overall bleakness of 2020. If you’re like me, you’ll take positives from 2020 wherever you can find them.

My story, “Fog of War,” is a scifi/dystopian tale about the last remnants of the human race who no longer fully believe the mythology of their history. It was a cathartic tale I wrote during the height of the social unrest during 2020. I look forward to the catharsis you will hopefully feel when you read it and see the echoes of our world in this fictional one, if you look hard enough. For long-time fans, you’ll recognize the world and several of the characters from my story “Reflections” in Secrets and Doors. i hope you’ll like revisiting this world and seeing another point of view. This collection, focused on dreams, encompasses many different genres and hopefully has something for everyone. Available in both eBook and print HERE.

I was hopeful enough about where the world is heading (out of the pandemic I hope!) to order physical copies in anticipation of local author signing opportunities for those of you in Utah. Once details are known, I’ll announce them here as well.


2020 Books Archive

How is it already time to look back on and recap another year of reading? 2020 started out so beautifully, and hopeful, and quickly went down the pandemic drain for basically everyone on the planet. The only “normal” activity I did last year was reading – an activity which I did a whole lot of. Fifty-seven books of the super-aggressive-stretch-goal of sixty books I set for myself. Here’s my rundown of all the books I read, mostly for my own benefit, but also presented as a way to share high level book review details in case anyone is looking for their next read. Also, a plug for GoodReads if you are an avid reader who likes to keep track of such things like I do. Their yearly Reading Challenge keeps me motivated all year, year after year.

  • The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin – one of the many I hauled home from a writing conference that also focused on reading widely. Great family drama with lots of diversity that lived up to the recommendation.
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1), Arkady Martine – a very political, not-based-in-our-world and science fiction read, also hauled home from a librarian/bookseller recommendation, I picked up in an attempt to read outside my preferred genres. It was a difficult read to get into but paid off greatly. If you’re into the genre, it is a great one.
  • One Small Sacrifice (Shadows of New York, #1), Hilary Davidson – also hauled home from librarian/bookseller recommendation in the crime/thriller genre. I really enjoyed it.
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy – I picked this one up since it had been on my list forever and is considered a must-read. It proved just as difficult to read as I had assumed based on the movie they made from it but it is also in my preferred horror/dystopian genres and I enjoyed it.
  • The Minimalist Way: Minimalism Strategies to Declutter Your Life and Make Room for Joy, Erica Layne – the first nonfiction of the year. I’ve been trying to declutter my life according to the recommendations and concepts ever since. A great place to start on this very popular trend lately.
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman – book club pick that I didn’t know what to think about in the beginning and which turned out to be hauntingly good with a very satisfying ending. We had a great discussion about it as well.
  • Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1), Neal Shusterman – I typically don’t love YA books, but I couldn’t get enough of this one that was recommended and co-read with my daughter.
  • Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng – a haunting read about a child who doesn’t connect with her family and their discovery of this fact in the aftermath of her death. This was a great read!
  • Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2), Neal Shusterman – See, I liked the first one so much that I had to keep reading!
  • The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3), Neal Shusterman – a very satisfying conclusion to this YA trilogy with just enough politics and morality to satisfy my adult reader tastes. If you haven’t read this series, I recommend it.
  • Trail of Broken Wings, Sejal Badani – a book club pick which was amazing. About an immigrant family and the abuse the women of the family share in looking back over the course of their life when the family patriarch falls ill. A great book club pick.
  • The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel, Erin Macdonald – this was an Audible Original that satisfied my inner sci-fi geek who wonders just how much of the stories and movies I love could ever be plausible. Very entertaining and accessible.
  • Tell Me Lies, J.P. Pomare – another Audible Original that I listened to as a distraction from all the things going on in the world. Psychological thriller has apparently become my go-to genre. This was nothing memorable but was not terrible either.
  • November Road, Lou Berney – I wanted this to be so much better than it was. I picked it up during the holidays and, while it had promise, the end was just dismal and bleak. I don’t regret reading it, but by April of 2020, I needed something that was far more hopeful.
  • The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – another psychological thriller that kept me guessing until the very end with a twist even I didn’t see coming. Highly recommended.
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott – if you’re a writer, this is a fantastic and frank look at what it means to be creative with honest and straightforward advice.
  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, K.M. Weiland – I keep trying these craft books and occasionally I can come away with some nugget of possibility that might improve my own process, but usually it’s just another writer telling us what works for them without anything concrete to take away from it. I fear this one is in the later category.
  • ITIL Service Transition, Cabinet Office – I’m a glutton for all things process and this was a textbook/certification book that I read just because I needed a deeper understanding of building processes at work. Yes, I know I’m crazy!
  • The City We Became (Great Cities #1), N.K. Jemisin – I wanted to read something from a Hugo Award winner and this one looked interesting. It did not disappoint! I loved this book. Great SciFi/Fantasy with tons of diversity.
  • Write Naked: A Bestseller’s Secrets to Writing Romance & Navigating the Path to Success, Jennifer Probst – read as part of my exploration of other genres and to get a glimpse into this whole romance thing. It wasn’t anything super earth-shattering or memorable this far down the road after reading it, unfortunately.
  • Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng – a book club pick and an amazing book. Family secrets and intrigue might be my new guilty pleasure genre!
  • Bird Box (Bird Box, #1), Josh Malerman – I loved the movie on Netflix and wanted to see if the book gave more depth to the story. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I’m not sure I would have loved it as much if I didn’t have the images of the movie to fill in some of the blanks. Kind of disappointing.
  • Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, Brené Brown – I love everything Dr. Brown does and recommend this book to anyone looking for ways to feel like they truly belong in a see of judgement and societal pressures. I will definitely re-read this one.
  • How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi – part of my journey this year to be an ally and to check my own inherent bias. It was a hard read in many ways because it spoke so much truth and exposed a lot of things I hadn’t even considered. Highly recommend this one!
  • Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones – another book club pick that was fantastic. Raw, real, and hard to put down. This story stayed with me long after I was done and I even told my kids about this one. Highly recommended.
  • The Mountain and the Sea, Kwame Dawes – an Audible Original when I needed something light between college assignments. I loved this one but only because I had no expectations going in and found it about a mature woman who finds herself in the context of her encounter with another person. Very literary and very good. Don’t expect a romance, but definitely read this one.
  • Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues, Molly Harper – an urban fantasy, also a quick Audible Original between school assignments. It was good but not memorable.
  • Starsight (Skyward #2), Brandon Sanderson – my kid loved this one more than I did but it was a well-written YA like only Sanderson can do. If you love the genre, then this one is a good one.
  • The Whisper Man, Alex North – super satisfying psychological thriller with a side of serial killer. Suprisingly, my kid bought this book for herself and I stole it to read one weekend in the woods this summer. It was so good! Spoiler: I’m going to pick this one for my book club to read in 2021!
  • By Virtue Fall, Bryan Young et all – disclaimer: I have a story in this one. I read it cover to cover and am amazed at the level of talent there is in this collection. The editors were amazing and the writers are all very talented. If you’ve ever wanted to pick up a collection to sample local Utah authors, this is one I recommend for everyone.
  • City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert – a book club read that I absolutely loved. Women’s lit at its finest and a period piece on top of that. We had an amazing discussion. Disclaimer: there are some very mature themes so if you’re sensitive to sexuality be aware you’re in for some with this although it is not on the scale anywhere near erotica.
  • Mindtap Business Communications, Mary Ellen Guffey – textbook for my Master Degree. I’m counting it anyway since a book is a book!
  • The Institute, Stephen King – after so many years of being a King fan, his novels all start to tie together and his universe is vast. This one had a lot of things to make you think about the current world we are living in with a side of horror thrown in. I liked it, but I wonder how many brand new King fans there are born every year and how much someone who wasn’t already a fan would think of this.
  • The Roommate, Dervla McTiernan – a crime story Audible Original. They kind of all are just okay and something to entertain. I use them to keep reading without derailing myself in the middle of other large projects.
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1), Tamsyn Muir – This came highly recommended and it is in the fantasy genre which I don’t read widely in. I really enjoyed it but it took me a while to really wrap my head around the world and what was happening. The learning curve is a little steep for those who don’t read the genre often. I’m very glad I stuck with it because it was very good overall.
  • Managing Human Capital, Jean M. Phillips – textbook… need I say more?
  • The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (re-read) – I loved this book so much that I made my book club read it when it was my turn to pick. They all agreed that it was a good book with lots of twists that left us all satisfied. I thought it was super predictable in the beginning but I was very wrong so stick with this one if you pick it up.
  • The Decision: Overcoming Today’s BS for Tomorrow’s Success, Kevin Hart – hands down, one of THE BEST books I’ve ever read when it comes to personal development/self-help. Yes, it’s by THAT Kevin Hart. It is super entertaining, very authentic and real, and hits you in the gut with reality and tools to eliminate the bullshit everyone has in their life that holds them back from achieving full potential. I wish that this came in physical book because I would have it highlighted and dog eared and flipped through all the time. Unfortunately, it is only available on YouTube or Audible and is read by the author. Highly recommend this one to everyone!
  • The Forgetting Time, Sharon Guskin – fascinating book club read about what happens to us after we die. It was so interesting to watch the story unfold and it wasn’t until the book club discussion that we all realized it was rooted in someone’s actual theories.
  • The Outsider, Stephen King – I’m a sucker for Stephen King – have been since I was a kid. This one was one of his better ones from recent years. How do you discount a crime when there’s indisputable evidence but also proof against it? A story of being in two places at the same time.
  • White Trash Warlock, David R. Slayton – the debut novel of a friend and also an amazing urban fantasy about witches and warlocks and magical realms. It was also super diverse with LGBTQ+ characters that was refreshing to see done so well. I devoured this on Audible!
  • Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box, The Arbinger Institute – a leadership self-help book that doubled as a textbook for a class. A pretty good concept but lots of anecdotal stories to lead you by the nose to the point.
  • As Bright as Heaven, Susan Meissner – book club read set against the backdrop of the Spanish Flu in America. It was fascinating to watch this historical piece (written years ago and not recently) play out and see the parallels to the current pandemic we are living through. A poignant family drama period piece that was well done.
  • Leadership 2.0, Travis Bradberry – another leadership book for a class
  • Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust, Edgar H. Schein – and another leadership book for the same class. Although I thought this was a nice approach to looking at some aspects differently.
  • Feed, M.T. Anderson – a disturbing look at our future where people have hardware jacked into their brains to see social media feeds and the evolution that young people take. It was written several years ago and is very relevant today.
  • Dune, Frank Herbert – I’ve seen the movie years ago, it is a classic, and they are doing a new movie. I finally made time to put it on the top of my to-read pile and finally see what all the hype was about. It was good, although the style is very 1960’s science fiction which has become a little hard to read and enjoy for me.
  • The Cuckoo’s Cry, Caroline Overington – an Audible Original set in Australia at the beginning of the COVID lockdown. A family drama/thriller that was entertaining but a little difficult to read since it was so close to current events. If you read to escape reality, this one isn’t for you.
  • BattleTech: Honor’s Gauntlet (BattleTech Novel), Bryan Young – a novel written by a friend in the BattleTech licensed universe. I was told you didn’t need to be a gamer to understand or enjoy this and it was true. It was a fast read that felt like Pacific Rim in space/on other planets. If you like scifi, this one is worth picking up.
  • The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James – Volume 1, M.R. James – an Audible Original that was supposed to invoke terror and which was a childish ghost story collection at best. I was disappointed.
  • Ink, Jonathan Maberry – horror and tattoos, what more does anyone need? This was a fascinating take on the concept of someone stealing your memories that I really enjoyed.
  • The Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknavitch – a memoir I stumbled across on a Twitter feed of recommended books. I listened to this amazing and literary treasure while I wrapped all my gifts one weekend and am so glad I found it. Very heavy read, but beautifully written, raw and real.
  • Mars One, Jonathan Maberry – I liked this author so much that I picked up another standalone about the first trip to Mars. It was more of a YA that was not as gritty or satisfying as the last. Still an entertaining and fast read for scifi fans.
  • King of Sting: The Story of Australian Conman Peter Foster, Justin Armsden – an Audible Original that sounded like a podcast that was packaged together about someone I never heard of and who didn’t do anything all that unusual. Kind of disappointing.
  • Silverswift, Natalie Lloyd – had a fascinating premise about mermaids and their hidden island but turned out to be more of a middle grade. An Audible Original that would appeal to kids or someone who wants a whimsical little adventure story.
  • Evil Eye, Madhuri Shekar – a surprisingly good Audible Original about an Indian-American with a fantastic twist at the end. This one is not what you think and is well worth the read/listen.
  • Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2), Tamsyn Muir – It took me two attempts to finish this sequel because it was SO confusing at the beginning. I think I liked it but probably would need to read it again to fully grasp all the things that happened and the complexities woven into it. Probably why I don’t read this genre very often. Still glad I read it.


Now Available: By Virtue Fall

Cover art of By Virtue Fall book
By Virtue Fall – The Salt City Genre Writers 2020 Chapter Anthology

2020 appears to be the year of publishing announcements without release parties, since here is yet another for me that I’m super excited for but won’t get to celebrate with a book signing or in-person celebration. However, in the midst of all the pandemic divisiveness and fear, I’ll take the bright spots wherever I can get them.

This collection is a collaboration with fellow Utah authors and another story that benefitted greatly from amazing editors. My story “The Last Yoga Class” is a horror tale about the end of the world. I first wrote it as part of my Advanced Creative Writing class back when I was finishing my undergrad degree – which feels like a million years ago given all that has happened in the eight months since I graduated. Available in both eBook and print HERE.

There are all kinds of genres in this collection, not just horror. If you’re looking for a good read that is easier than a novel to pick up and put down amid summer activities, a story collection like this one is a great option. I’d love to hear what you think if you do end up picking up a copy. I’ll be celebrating and pretending we are doing it together.


Now Available: Within Earshot

Book cover of "Within Earshot: Rumors, Whispers, and Lies" A Blue Quill Anthology
Within Earshot: Rumors, Whispers, and Lies – A Blue Quill Anthology

It’s been a while since I had a story released in print. I’m thrilled that my story “Fly On The Wall” was included in this collection. It’s a quirky story that has taken a while to find a home. I had an amazing editor who helped me transform it into a better version than ever before, and this collection was a perfect fit for it. Disclaimer: it is kind of creepy since it is horror science fiction. Hopefully readers of my writing already know what to expect from me, but if you’re new, I kind of tend to write dark stories.

This release feels anti-climactic since this crazy pandemic has postponed all plans for in-person celebrations. Nevertheless, it is available now on Amazon in both print and ebook formats HERE.

I’m making my way through the whole collection and the first few stories are great. From romance to contemporary to horror, you’ll likely find something here to enjoy! I can’t recommend enough picking up a short story collection right now. The world feels on edge and settling into a full length novel is likely difficult for many readers. Plus, it’s a great way to find new authors you like.

The very best way you can support authors is by leaving reviews so if you pick up a copy, I would be ever so grateful if you take the time to leave one. Happy reading!


2019 Books Archive

Time once again for an old favorite… the recap of what I read last year so I can look back on it with satisfaction and celebration. And what is this? Also within the first week of January? Yes, life is slowly getting back to normal in every area of my life. As always, this list is mostly for myself but if you’re looking for recommendations or get ideas of what to put of your list, then I’ve paid it forward for a fellow author, too. This year in books in chronological order looks like this:

  • Where Should We Begin: The Arc of Love, Esther Perel – an Audible Original that I found fascinating.
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1), Patrick Ness – a YA read that Big Sister (who’s an actual adult now) recommended. It was entertaining but not enough to read more.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee – assigned reading for my Lit class. I’m sure I read this as a kid (also as assigned reading then) and it was interesting to have an adult perspective this time. A classic, but I’m not sure why it is still held up as the best example of literature when so many other books have been written on the topic more recently.
  • Power Moves: Lessons from Davos, Adam M. Grant – another Audible Original that was very political and fascinating. A very quick read.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer – a book club pick that at first I didn’t think I would like but which grew on me and stuck with me after I finished. Recommended read.
  • Rule of the Bone, Russell Banks – requiired read for Lit class. This one I really liked. Gritty, real, relevant. Highly recommended.
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson – I thought this was the book by an author I saw on a TED talk but wasn’t. It was still a good book, but not the one I was looking for. A great topic for anyone – especially if you suffer with the “what will other people think” syndrome.
  • Brave, Rose McGowan – I devoured this book and found it a fascinating look into all the things in our society that came to a head with the #metoo movement. If you’re political and a feminist, this is a must read. If you’re not, why not start your journey with this book?
  • The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, Lex Williford (editor) – required reading for Lit class. I didn’t read the entire thing but liked what I read.
  • Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane, Brett King – for the tech geeks and the futurists among us. This was a recommendation from one of the ladies in my book club and it was a very eye opening look at the technologies that exist today and how they are predicted to change our experience of the world in the future. Highly recommended.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford – book club read that was not especially noteworthy. Another wartime novel if you’re into that genre.
  • The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides – one of the best books I read this year. The structure and pacing added depth to a fascinating premise and left me completely satisfied. I couldn’t put it down.
  • 2018 Associated Press Stylebook, Associated Press – textbook
  • McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook, Laura Killen Anderson – textbook for my Copy Editing class. The logical and detail oriented part of me actually really loved this class even though it is a LOT of work. Not that I ever have, but I will definitely never take a copyeditor for granted!
  • This is PR: The Realities of Public Relations, Doug Newsom – textbook, obviously. For a class I ended up getting a ton of relatable information out of. I have zero regrets about my Communications minor.
  • Out of My Mind, Alan Arkin – an Audible Original that I thought was going to be about mental health but turned out to be new age meditation nonsense that didn’t resonate with me.
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – book club pick that I would not have read otherwise. I had tried to read it before unsuccessfully. While I don’t regret having read it, I can’t say I totally enjoyed it. There’s something about irony and British humor that just doesn’t resonate with me.
  • The Last Days of August, Jon Ronson – Audible Original that was like a train wreck you just can’t look away from. Don’t waste your time.
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley – book club pick. It was my first cozy mystery and I can safely say that I’m not a fan of the genre. I need my murder on the page and bloody or I am not satisfied, I guess.
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Dr. Brene’ Brown – I love everything Brene’ Brown. Each book builds on each other as her research grows and evolves. If you haven’t read anything by her, start with this one. It is amazing. Big Sister had to read it for her English class and she loved it, too.
  • Sometimes I Lie, Alice Feeney – a book club pick and a great thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Lucky Suit, Lauren Blakely – a romance novella that was a quick and satisfying read. Pretty sure this was also an Audible Original.
  • Educated, Tara Westover – I’m not always a fan of the memoir but this one was fascinating about a woman who was home schooled by a conspiracy theorist and religious extremist. Highly recommended read!
  • Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts., Dr. Brené Brown – another great one with the focus on working relationships and leading effectively while being vulnerable from my favorite shame researcher. Seriously, if you haven’t read Brene’ Brown you really need to fix that.
  • The 3-Day Effect, Florence Williams – a quick psychology-based study about how getting into nature and away from constant connection to the world can affect us.
  • Profit First, Mike Michalowicz – a fantastic business book for entrepreneurs who want a way to be profitable in their business from the beginning.
  • Mala, Melinda Lopez – another Audible Original that I think was actually a screenplay that was acted out.
  • I, Jedi, Michael Stackpole – a Star Wars book not based on any of the movies. I’m a Star Wars movie fan but had never read any of the tie-in books. This was one of our keynotes at Quills and is said to be one of the best. It felt to me like what fan fiction must be like – a story that feels familiar because the world is familiar but it isn’t any of the characters you know.
  • Social Media for Writers, Tee Morris & Pip Ballantine – assigned reading for my New Media class and a great reference book for writers. I’m distilling this down to key takeaways for a class I want to teach to other writers because it was invaluable.
  • Create Your Writer Platform, Chuck Sambuchino – also assigned reading for my New Media class and a great book to establish what people actually mean when they talk about having a platform as an author.
  • Social Media Communication, Jeremy H. Lipschultz – textbook for class of the same title
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama – I admit, I had no real opinion (good, bad or indifferent) about our former First Lady. After reading this, I am a huge fan. Highly recommended especially for working moms. I loved this book. It was also a book club pick after I read it on my own.
  • Eat Fat, Get Thin, Mark Hyman – my new healthy lifestyle approach grew from the basics of this book that did an amazing job explaining why American’s are more obese and sicker than any other time, and how to correct it. At the risk of sounding like a keto-obsessed freak, everyone should read at least the first half of this book for all the science.
  • The Murder House, James Patterson – book club pick that was a very satisfying thriller.
  • It’s Not What It Looks Like, Molly Burke – an Audible Original that I can’t even remember much about.
  • The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders, Michael D. Watkins – nothing earth-shattering about this book except that it takes concepts you can get by reading several other business leadership books and boils them down into an easy to consume summary. Truth: I saw the senior leadership team reading it while I was going through the manager interviewing process and wanted a leg up in speaking their language. Maybe it helped?
  • Skyward, Brandon Sanderson – a surprisingly good YA book that the whole family loved – listened to on our summer vacation road trip.
  • The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides – re-read when it was picked for book club. Even better the second time!
  • I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney – I picked this one up because I liked the first book by this author. It was a pretty good thriller but not as good as the first I read by her.
  • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert – recommended to me by a coworker. One of the best books about effective approaches to nurturing creativity. If you’re a writer, this is a highly recommended read!
  • Three-Fifths, John Vercher – I loved this book and the ending still stays with me. Highly recommended contemporary drama #ownvoices read.
  • Organizational Behavior, Talya Bauer – the last textbook I will every read for my undergraduate degree!!! Surprising timing: getting to take away HR concepts to apply immediately as a new manager.
  • Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, Lisa Cron – a craft book for writers. One of the better ones that started very strong and resonated with great ideas and approaches to story but which then derailed (for me anyway) when the author tried to then tell me how exactly I had to execute said ideas. I loved the first half and skimmed the second half at best. Still a great read for writers.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver – book club pick that was extremely difficult to get into but which finished amazingly.
  • Stillhouse Lake, Rachel Caine – a great strong female character thriller that came highly recommended by a friend. I loved it and will definitely read more in this series.
  • The Luminous Dead, Caitlin Starling – a great mix of horror, science fiction and thriller that I picked up at a writers conference and loved.
  • The Ninja Daughter, Tori Eldridge – the first book I’ve read specifically because of who the editor was so I can decide if my books would be a fit for them. It was good!
  • The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon, Todd Zwillich – very cool insider NASA story for the space geeks among us which sadly took a turn in the middle. The ending made up for the whiny middle section and I am overall glad I read it.
  • Polaris Rising, Jessie Mihalik – holy shit this one was good!! The best of so many things that I love all rolled into one: space-based science fiction with a strong female lead and a steamy romance that was well done and didn’t detract from the fact that this is first and foremost a scifi action story. I can’t recommend this one enough. Another of my top reads for the year.
  • Bannerless, Carrie Vaughn – an okay book but which I thought was going to be about something that it wasn’t (based on the cover blurb). Kind of disappointed by the ending but overall not sad I read it.
  • Sleeping Beauties, Stephen King & Owen King – so long but reminiscent of the old Stephen King with a giant cast of characters that all contribute to the story in meaningful ways.

All Is Quiet, Or Is It?

I realized that if you’re following me solely on my website that it’s been fairly quiet the last few weeks. You might assume that means not much is happening, picture me lounging on the couch, sipping an adult beverage. Eating bon bons. If only that were true!

The lull in updates and commentary here indicates a far different situation. Once again, I might or might not have embarked on more than I can keep up with. How is this possible? I was just as involved with a writing organization last year as I am now with my new President gig. My day job isn’t any more demanding than last year. My husband doesn’t work nights anymore so with him here at night to take some of the load I should be ahead of the game. I learned how to say No! So what the hell is going on?

SCSteamfest-ARGH

I forgot one giant detail. I didn’t have to do the Dance Mom thing with Big Sister last year. It was bliss which I did not appreciate and now is gone. Welcome back twelve to eighteen HOUR days, every weekend, sitting on bleachers in high school gymnasiums. I could write during that time. Except I’ll have a six year old in tow, who wants to follow in her sister’s footsteps next year, and will have to be entertained. I still hold out hope I can get some extra writing in over the next two months of dance season, even if it means shoving an electronic device in her line of vision to accomplish it.

I have a deadline – self imposed but still a deadline – to get my novel drafted by May. Not only because I want to pitch it to a publisher – a hand-picked publisher via an inside track with one of their editors – who will be a World Horror Con. Which is a big enough reason alone. But, I also need to go back to school and finish my degree so it doesn’t hinder me with the day job anymore. I know I can’t write and be a college student at the same time. I assume it will only take me six months to finish my degree. In that time I could be shopping the novel around for a home. Querying doesn’t take as many hours, right? Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Call me a dreamer.

I haven’t fully committed to the school thing and logistics are far from being worked out on both the scheduling and the financial fronts but it keeps coming up. I think it’s the Universe pushing me into action. To test my theory, or so I tell myself when I wonder why I didn’t say no to this one, I enrolled in a month-long workshop with three classes a week AND homework this month. No, I did not know it was that intense when I enrolled (on a whim of course).  It’s a fabulous workshop taught by a very successful author about the art of revision. The knowledge will not be wasted and I’ll know if I am capable of adding the school insanity if I survive the month and keep up with everything else in life. I’ll let you know how that goes.

If I’m quiet here, know it isn’t because I don’t have anything going on. It’s because I have too much going on and I’m working hard to get a novel out for those of you who keep clamoring for more, more, more. (Something I only ever dreamed of.) In the meantime, if you’ve picked up a copy of “It Came From the Great Salt Lake” and liked my story, I’d love it if you left a review so other people could stumble across it, too.

Thanks as always for sharing this journey with me!


Cover Reveal – It Came From The Great Salt Lake: A Collection of Utah Horror

My publisher revealed this glorious cover yesterday and I am even more excited now for the upcoming release. It is gorgeous and haunting and mysterious. But best of all is seeing my name on the cover. (Call me narcissistic but it’s a first so I’m going to celebrate it!)

UHWA2015-cover via Facebook

The cover artist is Carter Reid, creator of The Zombie Nation web comic.

One of the unique elements of this anthology is that every author either is from, or has lived in, Utah – including the cover artist. The theme draws every story together around one of the most recognizable and distinguishable landmarks in the state but the stories are still extremely diverse, showcasing some amazing talent the state houses. I can’t wait for you all to read it!

In a creepy side note that thrills me beyond compare… I am the thirteenth story in the collection. My lucky number!


Book List Archive 2015

Time for the yearly round up and archive of my efforts to remain a well-read person. This year I did not reach my goal but I did read a lot of really great books. Here they are, all summed up, for your reading pleasure. And in reverse chronological order because my OCD did not win that fight – this time.

  • The Innocent, Harlan Coben (Book Club) – a light yet entertaining whodunit perfect for the beach or a long weekend. The ending was satisfying although pieces of the story were a tad predictable.
  • The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt – one of the best books I read all year which definitely lived up to all the hype I had heard about it. There are very bleak elements that leave you feeling grateful for the life you have since they are painted so authentically through the characters. A truly phenomenal book that everyone should read!
  • The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Laroux (Book Club) – a classic that I hadn’t read. I probably would have put it down had it not been a book club pick. I just can’t get into period pieces that old but still I’m glad I read it.
  • The Good Girl, Mary Kubica – also a good read but only because of how it was written. I found myself trying to solve the mystery of “before or after WHAT” all the way through. The ending was very satisfying. A great read for anyone who likes a whodunit.
  • The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins – one of the best reads of the year. Finally a smart, adult novel with twists I didn’t see coming and characters with real depth. It kept me guessing to the end and I recommend it now to everyone who asks.
  • Birthmarked, Caragh M. O’Brien (Book Club) – a light and easy read that left me wanting far more details than were given since it was written for the superficial YA market who doesn’t demand it. Such a shame!
  • All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr – had so much potential but, just like most novels set in the WWII era, left me feeling bleak and unfulfilled. I think it’s safe to say this is not one of my favorite genres.
  • The Fold, Peter Clines – I picked this up because I recognized the author’s name from the best scifi book I’d read the last year or so. Little did I know it was a continuation of that story which had stuck with me so much. Very enjoyable read!
  • The Paper Magician, Charlie N. Holmberg – I disliked this book so much. It was very clearly written for a YA audience who cannot think critically for themselves. The concepts were intriguing but not enough detail was given for anything to be plausible and the whole thing left me feeling insulted. My daughter probably would have liked it when she was eleven. To be fair, that’s probably the intended market so there’s that.
  • Warbreaker, Brandon Sanderson – a great stand-alone read from the master of epic fantasy. He is still one of my all-time favorite authors.
  • Mao’s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin (Book Club) – it was interesting to see how poor Chinese live but the book overall was not a very compelling one.
  • Mr Mercedes, Stephen King – a good old horror novel by one of my favorite authors.
  • Being Mortal, Atul Gawande – a fantastic book about living on our own terms and dying the same way. Every person everywhere should read this book. I expected it to be a social commentary about the current hot topic of Physician Assisted Suicide or The Right to Die which I was also expected to hate. What I got instead was one of the best books about one of the hardest topics any of us will ever face. I wish I’d read this book before my Mom passed away…
  • Celeste, The Unseen #2, Johnny Worthen (ARC) – the much anticipated sequel to Eleanor which did not disappoint. Except for the fact that the third is not released yet and so I must wait.
  • The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2), Patrick Rothfuss – a much anticipated sequel that fell short for me and felt disappointingly like a setup book for the third one.
  • Altered Perceptions, short stories to benefit mental health – I bought this as part of a crowd fund campaign to benefit a local author suffering with a mental health disorder. It is a collection of well-known authors with either deleted scenes or unpublished works. I got it for the Brandon Sanderson early draft of The Way of Kings. And THEN…. It was by far one of the BEST books I’ve read in a long time. Not because of the stories themselves, but because every author included a personal essay about how mental health had touched their lives in some way. Every person everywhere should read this book! Better yet, they should just publish the author essays and that is what everyone should read. Seriously, go read this book.
  • The Brand Demand, Johnny Worthen – FABULOUS social satire set in Salt Lake City so it felt like all the politics and struggles were real. One of my favorite books of the year.
  • Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd (Book Club) – a novel set around the time of the IRA in Ireland with some interesting facts about archaeology.
  • ITIL Service Strategy – a brutal course but I passed the exam and am now certified!
  • The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman (Book Club) – an interesting novelization of ancient Christianity with strong female characters. I wanted to hate it but it was a good read.
  • The Archangel Agenda, A.K. Alexander & Jen Greyson – this was a light and semi-steamy read but felt like a serialized novel where just the first act of the story was included and you had to buy the second (and probably third) to get the entire story. Apparently that’s the “in” thing now for Kindle readers?
  • Cutting For Stone, Abraham Verghese (Book Club) – a very slow burn but a fantastic read with a killer ending.
  • Firefight, Brandon Sanderson – much anticipated sequel to Steelheart which Hubby and I both loved.
  • Pretty Things, Christine Haggerty – a novella retelling of a Grimm Fairytale. I’m not a huge fan of the fairy tale but this was not a bad read. Not as Grimm or as dark as I had anticipated and it was very short.

It was disappointing to count and realize I only finished twenty four books of the forty total I set out to read this year. That’s an average of two books a month which is better than years past when I struggled just to finish the book club pick each month. I consume most of my books on Audible which means this small list represents the amount of time I had over the year where it was possible to multi-task. Because of that, it still feels like an overall accomplishment for the year. Here’s to bettering it next year!


Cover Reveal: The Finger Trap by Johnny Worthen

The genre will never be the same… one of my favorite authors jumps into the noir detective pool with his latest book. I want to read it based solely on the beautiful cover.

TFTCover

Because I know it is hard these days to judge a book JUST by the cover, here’s the blurb:

With wit and humor, this modern mystery is a refreshing spin on the noir detective genre

Tony Flaner is a malingering, part-time comedian who is full of sarcasm and never finished a thing in his life. He’s had 12 years to prepare for his divorce and didn’t. He had his entire life to choose a career and hasn’t. Now time’s up, and he’s in a world of trouble. But all of that changes when Tony takes a first date to a drunken party and ends with him facing prison for the murder of a girl he hardly knew. To save himself, wise-cracking Tony must discover who the mysterious girl was, what she was involved in, and what the hell she saw in him in the first place.

Let me tell you, I’ve been hearing about this story – the first in a series – for almost a year and I am dying for my own copy.

Pre-order your copy here!


Cover reveal: Black Jack by Mikki Kells

Mikki Kells is a very hip fellow author and friend. When she asked me if I’d help spread the word about her new book coming soon with a cover reveal, I agreed.

Black Jack Cover

It is a second book so don’t read the synopsis if you don’t want tiny hints of spoilers… Seriously, you’ve been warned (but it sounds ubber cool so just read it anyway!)

Melanie S’velare is a survivor, the strongest witch in her coven, and a princess. With the key to her magic, the Ace of Hearts, presumably destroyed, her powers continue to grow. As her power increases, her control on them becomes weaker until it is clear she may be the most powerful witch on the planet and the most dangerous. The Alaman, another coven, concerned by her strength, send an ambassador to gauge her control, stability, and how dangerous she truly is. The Alaman are well known for killing witches who pose a threat to their own powerful hold over the globe and if they see fit to end her life, she will have no choice but to fight.

With her soulmate by her side and the remains of her Vanguard, Melanie strives to maneuver a maze of political scandals designed to make her falter. If she fails, she will not only lose her throne to the traitorous Lord Rossi, but also her life to the fiery Alaman.

Melanie can only pray her secret that the Ace of Hearts is alive and manipulating them all in a final deadly game is never revealed.

 

Black Jack book two in the Ace of Hearts series will be released July 2015.

 

headshot Mikki Kells

Mikki Kells is both a writer and a rider. She spends her nights crafting fantastical stories and her afternoons bowing to the demands of her beloved horse. Her interests in fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal stories developed from a childhood of imaginary exploits and continue to influence her professional career. She resides in central Utah.

To check out book one in the series go here: http://www.amazon.com/Ace-Hearts-1-Mikki-Kells/dp/0615885055

 

 

Follow Mikki for more news, contests, and extras.

www.mikkikells.com

Twitter/Instagram: @mikkikells

Blog: www.mikkikells.tumblr.com


Interview: Adrienne Monson

Today I have the pleasure of talking with fellow author, Adrienne Monson, about her new book Defiance releasing later this month.

 

Defiance HighRes

Leisha and Samantha barely survived. Now, an explosive battle between the vampires and immortals seems imminent. It’s more important than ever before that the prophecy child is found, but there’s a problem—Leisha has lost her powers. She seems like nothing more than a human. Her newfound humanity is further complicated when Tafari, her old lover, appears with a desire for reconciliation. Can Leisha lock up the past to save those she loves, or will fate tear everything from her once again?

 

 

 

 

Where did your idea for Defiance come from?

I’ve had a fascination with vampires since I was 11. It was inevitable that the first story I write included these mythical creatures, with my own personal twist to them.

Many argue the trend in vampire novels have come and gone. What makes yours different from the rest?

Like everything else, the market for vampires does a roller coaster. But even on the downward slope, there’s fans that will always pick it up. My vampires are unique in many ways, one of which is the story talks about how they came into existence in the first place using Voodoo magic.

What is your secret to balancing romance without cliche?

If you have a strong plot and three-dimensional characters, the romance will just work. It’s when an author forces a romance that a reader doesn’t really feel that it becomes cliche.

What’s the key to writing a second book in a series?

Have the end in mind. Even if you plan on writing a 12 book series, always know exactly where everyone is going to end up at the end. Hopefully, if you do that, all the previous books will flow together.

How long did it take you to write Defiance?

One year. Someday I’ll get as good as some other authors I know and pop out a new book every couple months. Someday…

Adrienne Author - 3650What is your writing process? Where and when do you write?

I have young kids at home, so it’s dicey to have that time. I generally wait until the kids are in bed, which gives me a solid two hours a night. I also have an amazing critique group, and we go on writers retreats twice a year. It’s amazing how much I write during those trips!

What is your favorite part of being an author?

Interacting with the readers! I’ve gotten some amazing messages online from fans and it’s always a blast to meet more readers at book signings. They keep me going on the days I feel like throwing in the towel.

Least favorite?

Actually sitting my butt in the chair to write. Maybe I chose the wrong career… 😉

How did you go from aspiring writer to published author?

It’s really about keeping your eyes open for opportunities and taking it when they come along. I kept going to writers conferences, joined writing groups and critique groups. I immersed myself in the industry as much as possible and worked on improving my craft while seeking opportunities. One day, it paid off!

Any advice for other aspiring writers?

Join an awesome critique group with other writers that will tell you what’s what. Keep an open mind and don’t get defensive about your work. If people are putting in the time to give you feedback, recognize it. It doesn’t mean that they’re right – that’s up to you to decide. But make sure you listen with an open mind before you disagree.

Keep writing. Keep seeking opportunities and don’t give up!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far on your journey?

That people actually like my books. I know it sounds silly, but I’m critical and insecure when it comes to my craft. I handle criticism from others better than compliments. So I was actually surprised that people really like what I write! (And I have to remind myself of that sometimes.)

Where can readers find and connect with you?

If you’re in the Salt Lake area, don’t miss the launch party for Defiance! Come get your book signed by the author, win door prizes (signed books, gift cards to restaurants and Amazon) and have a great time.

When: February 28, 2015 from 2:00 – 5:00 PM

Where: Barnes & Noble – Sugarhouse

1104 East 2100 South, Salt Lake City UT

http://www.adriennemonson.com/

https://twitter.com/#!/adriennemonson

https://www.amazon.com/author/adriennemonson

https://www.facebook.com/adriennemonson

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6584385.Adrienne_Monson

 


Secrets & Doors: My Personal Irony

I love being part of the Secret Door Society. The vision of giving back to the world appeals to me on many levels. This project isn’t just about getting a publishing credential or selling books. And when you buy a copy, it isn’t just about buying another book. It’s about helping make a difference; making the world a better place. Secrets & Doors is significant for me as a debut author. Wherever the rest of my career takes me, this will always be my first; the culmination of toil and hard work that started with my love of reading way back when I was a child, thanks to my mom.

The irony of Secrets & Doors for me also lies with my mom. All proceeds – from both the authors as well as Crimson Edge Publishing – are being donated to diabetes research. After decades of suffering from this horrible disease, my mom died just five months before my first published work would help rid the world of it. Wherever the rest of my career takes me, this one will always be dedicated to her.

Mom - pic from FB

How does one die of diabetes? In more ways than a horror writer can imagine. Cardiovascular disease, stroke, and kidney failure are the most serious long-term complications. Diabetes also damages the nerves, can lead to amputation of limbs and muscle wasting diseases, damages the eyes and affects every organ system if left untreated. In my mom’s case, it led to liver disease and kidney failure which took her from us at the arguably young age of sixty-five.

Imagine a world where no more moms died of diabetes. No more kids had to take daily injections of insulin to survive. Projects like this are just the beginning for the Secret Door Society but none will have such a personal impact for me like Secrets & Doors. Thanks for letting me be a part of it!


Another Interview for Secrets & Doors

Another stop on the blog tour took me to visit the lovely Kathy Jones and an interview that peeks into my writing process.

Author Interview with Terra Luft part of the Secrets & Doors short story collection

Thanks to Kathy for hosting me!