Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday, all!

First, just an FYI…This is the last day to get A THOUSAND DOORS for only 99 cents! PW gave it a starred review (!), Bookreporter said it was worth the wait, and the reviews online have been stupendous. Added bonus? You’ll find a LOT of super talented authors to read!

Greetings from the great mountainous west! It’s my dad’s birthday week, so the family has converged to celebrate. It’s been a gorgeous, mostly lovely week, with big skies and cool evenings. And lots of Mexican food. Oh, people. I am addicted to green chili. I’ve had it all but one day. I might just turn into a bowl of green chili. We just can’t get it like this in Nashville.

I normally play a lot of golf out here, as this is my home course where I learned and played years of junior golf.  But that’s being interrupted by the bum knee, so I’ve been doing a lot of chilling. Working on the new book. Getting ready to switch my content manager in anticipation of the new Apple operating system coming in a few weeks. Debating changing my screen savers to a fall scape. Watching some Harry Potter (my default destressor) Pondering how to have a better work/life balance. You know, all those end of summer things. 

The work/life balance... I think I have it figured out. I asked a few folks how they handled their stress, and got several really great answers that had actionable steps for me to try. And it’s helping, tremendously. I’ve been forced to go against my nature—my best writing time is between 3-6pm—but getting the words done in the morning makes such a difference I’ve been willpowering my nature into another pattern. 

If I don’t write first, it’s too easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of business— and let me be clear, by business, I don’t mean social media. I mean blurbing books, editing stories, handling communications with my publishers and team, planning the newsletter, appearances, art briefs, release workflows, working on Two Tales and the Wine Vixen, and of course, prepping for A WORD ON WORDS.  It is not playing on Twitter or Facebook. I have a fantastic admin who helps plan the social media aspects so I’m free to be social when I choose to engage. 

This is a damn good problem to have, yes. But I’m getting too busy again, so it’s time to pull back. Busy makes me feel stressed, and then overwhelmed, and then I can’t get anything done well, which is not a state I enjoy.

It was funny, I had a stress dream in the midst of all this pondering. I’d set up a signing, had people flying in, had planned this huge event, and had forgotten to order the books. Just clean forgot. That’s my biggest worry, always, that I’ll forget to do something I’ve promised to do. I’m also writing a character who is a book publicist—that might be part of the why behind the dream. The ultimate publicity nightmare, right? Still...UGH!

So how do we fix the sense of being too busy? We promise to do LESS! 😊 

I hate saying no, but I’m learning how to make it my default. Most importantly, how to keep on saying no, even when things ease up.  It’s time to break out the No Gnome again. (Oh, he’s a peach... maybe one day I’ll post a picture.)

And don’t worry, none of this is at the expense of the writing. That always gets done. The book always comes first. I’ve just been playing with when to do the inevitable business tasks. For the past month I’ve been trying to do a single business day once a week, a day set aside to do all the things I need to feel on top of things. Cleaning out my email, writing non-fiction, etc. It’s working very well. I hope this change takes me into fall and the launch of Good Girls Lie!

As always, I’m open to thoughts. But I think this is working pretty well.

OK, enough. On to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Anatomy of a Suspense Novel. “If you think about it, every suspense writer is like Mary Shelley creating her own Frankenstein. I am just filling in the atlas of the book’s vital organs.”

10 Intersections Between Podcasts, Audiobooks, and Storytelling at Large. It’s really interesting to consider how podcasts and audiobooks intersect and amplify one another.

The most anticipated thrillers of fall 2019. I was blown away to be included on this list with such great company! So many amazing books coming...

50 Ways to Live On Your Own Terms. Brilliant advice. As a matter of fact, I’m refilling my tea cup and rereading right now.

Organization that gives away books for free just opened its first ‘store’ for teachers. This is wonderful! What a great way to give back.

18 Times Toni Morrison Spoke To Our Souls. What a terrible loss. But Toni is one of those writers who may leave us physically, but her lessons will live on in our hearts.

Why You Owe It to Yourself to Abandon Books You’re Not Enjoying. Always a good reminder. This plays into my too busy feeling too often.

19 Romance Novels To Fall In Love With This Summer. Another great list! I’m just so impressed with the quality and quantity of excellent work in the genre.

The Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen is another white - what is HAPPENING???

What I’m Reading:

LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager

Riley Sager is doing a lot of good work lately, and Lock Every Door fits well into his canon. Echoes of Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby are clear, and The Bartholomew is a character unto itself. A satisfying thriller with a great twist.

What are you reading?

That’s all for now. Remember the power of your words, be them kind or mean, take a huge deep breath today and let your shoulders relax, and watch out for deer on the roads! I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday, all! I’m back from my brief sabbatical and roaring into the month of August. I snuck away while I was offline to a place I normally go at the end of August. When the trip was wrapping up, I started having my usual end-of-summer freak out: not enough words done, deadline looming. But… I realized… wait a minute, I have a WHOLE EXTRA MONTH ahead of me! Phew! My new book, set in an exotic locale, hasn’t been cooperating, but I finally figured out the issue (POV, again!) and once I made the change, it all fell into place. So I’m full speed ahead for that December deadline.

You know, I’ve written an awful lot of books now, but every single one of them is unique. They all have their own challenges, whether it’s a great character with no plot, a great plot with no character, but lately, I’ve had issues with point of view. Part of it is I’ve changed as a person—I’m entering a new stage of my female life, my priorities are different, my influences have changed—but it’s also that I’ve changed as a writer. I’ve experienced a lot of different styles of writing. I’ve co-written, which forces you to look at the work in a completely new manner. And now I’ve pivoted genres to more intimate crime fiction.

I finally figured out that with these more intimate books, first person narrative works better for the way I want to tell the stories. They’re smaller, affecting fewer people. This is in contrast with my bigger thrillers, which need a third-person narration because the stakes are affecting more people at once. So I’ve decided, going forward, to try the “first for suspense, third for thriller” method and see if that clears up the issues at the beginning for me.

All that said, LIE TO ME, which is as intimate thriller as I’ve ever written, was done mostly in close third with a first person villain. In other words, know the rules so you know when to break them, as Father Steve likes to say.

Speaking of unique narrations… here’s some excellent news: A THOUSAND DOORS is on sale worldwide for only 99 cents! Pick up your copy of the book Publishers Weekly said “not only provides great pleasure but also offers readers the opportunity to sample the work of first-class authors who may be new to them.”

On to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Here's The "Harry Potter" Road Trip Every Fan Needs To Do ASAP. I’m game! I’ve done Oxford and Scotland so far…

CIRCE Coming to Television via HBO Max. Fantastic news! This was one of my favorite books of 2018. Madeline Miller is a genius, and you know my love of mythology…

Libraries Act as Cooling Centers in Heatwaves. Libraries do so much for their communities. Stay cool out there.

How to Help Combat Piracy in Publishing. It takes all of us. If we aren’t paid for our work, there will be no room to make the work.

These Are the Books That Have Inspired Our Readers to Travel. What a great list! I tend to grab books set in the places I want to/am traveling to, just to enhance the experience!

Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online. “Here's a problem that AO3 users, like the rest of the internet, encounter every day: How do you find a particular thing you're interested in, while filtering out all the other stuff you don't care about? Most websites end up with tags of some sort.”

When Crime Authors Write Non-Crime Books. You may not know this, but publishers really like us to stay in our lane. When we’ve had success with one genre, it’s rare to get a ton of support to move to another. These books defy that trend.

This Tiny Traveling Bookstore Wanders the French Countryside. This sounds like a dream come true! Isn’t this perfect?

50 Must-Read Fantasy Books by Women. How many of these have you read?

Mary Laura interviewed Nashville’s own Margaret Renkl on A WORD ON WORDS this week.

The Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen is a personal favorite. 5 goblets, people.🍷

What I’m Reading:

RUSH by Lisa Patton

What a beautiful, haunting novel. In addition to being an engaging, lush portrait of the phenomenon known as sorority rush, RUSH tackles some of the most serious injustices in the south. Lisa Patton's work personifies "be the change". You have to read this book, and share it with everyone you know. And good news, the paperback just released this week! Show Lisa some love, won’t you?

What are you reading?

That’s all for now. If you’re writing, play a bit with a POV you don’t normally write in. If you’re reading, get to it! And if you’re neither, go take a walk. It will make you happy. I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,

A THOUSAND DOORS is on sale worldwide for 99 cents!

The ebook for A THOUSAND DOORS is on sale worldwide for only $0.99! Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and said it “not only provides great pleasure but also offers readers the opportunity to sample the work of first-class writers who may be new to them.”

About the book:

The Day Mia Jensen Died, She Finally Got To Live

We’ve all played the “what if” game. For forty-year-old Mia Jensen, “what if” is a fact of life. Dissatisfied with her choices, she often dreams about what could have been. Now she has the chance to know. But that knowledge will cost her dearly. Only through death can she fully realize the value of her life.

After a terrible day, trying to figure out how she’s come to this point—alone, on the cusp of divorce––Mia hears a strange noise in her kitchen. When she investigates, she is attacked and left for dead. As Mia dies, she experiences some of the lives that could have been hers had she only made a different choice.

Can one woman find peace with the path she’s chosen before it slips through her fingers forever?

Through the unique voices of New York Times bestsellers and rising stars in women’s fiction, A THOUSAND DOORS examines how our smallest decisions create lasting effects, and asks the ultimate question—can we actually change our lives?

Bringing Mia to life are the following fabulous authors:

Kimberly Belle

Laura Benedict

A.F. Brady

Patti Callahan Henry

Paige Crutcher

Rebecca Drake

Heather Gudenkauf

Joy Jordan-Lake

Alisha Klapheke

Ariel Lawhon

Kerry Lonsdale

Catherine McKenzie

Kate Moretti

Lisa Patton

Kaira Rouda

Download the eBook


Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday, all! Second week of sabbatical, and I trust that all is well. I don’t know. I’m not here!

It’s these moments when I am so happy to have over a decade of blog posts to look back on to share. it’s like the greatest hits of my writing life. I’ve been blogging regularly since 2005. That’s a lot of words — I think my non-fiction word count probably outstrips my fiction 10 to 1. I found that writing about writing engendered my fiction, a happy by-product of my weekly schedule.

One of my all-time favorite blog posts was in response to having a little too much nitrous at a dentist appointment. I was listening to the Star Trek soundtrack and I had a truly transcendental experience… (ha!)

Enjoy this flashback into the grand abyss of my mind, and then it’s on to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

B&N’s fate rests in hands of a British indie bookstore owner. "His turnaround strategy is centered on a simple premise: In a world where Amazon offers unbeatable convenience and prices, big book chains will only survive if they act more like independents."

Consider the Airport Thriller - It's time to reimagine the novels we read on airplanes. So great to see TEAR ME APART included in this list!

How to Live Intentionally in the 21st Century: An Experiment. I’ve read hundreds of articles in this vein. This is by far the best conceptually that I’ve seen. From a psychology student...

7 amazing, mouth-watering new food memoirs for summer reading (and cookout inspiration.)

SHAPE OF NIGHT gets a starred review from Publishers Weekly! Because Tess Gerritsen is the master of suspense. Can’t wait for this one!

500 Queries In 6 Years. “Write so much that it becomes less sacred.” This is some of the best writing advice ever, people. Well said, Wendy.

Books and Ink: The Literary Tattoos of NYPL Staff. I love a good literary tattoo.

Why the Pronunciation of GIF Really Can Go Either Way. Which way do you say it?

21 Must-Have Summer Reading Accessories from Amazon.

Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen!

What I’m Reading:

LABYRINTH by Catherine Coulter

When a Savich and Sherlock book comes out, people drop everything to read it. So clear your schedule for the weekend, friends! Labryinth is out and it's amazing. What are you reading?

That’s all for now. I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday! Yes, this post was written in advance of my sabbatical, so don’t worry, I promise I am NOT online.

It’s strange how we can communicate regardless, isn’t it? Stephen King talks about this in ON WRITING, how the reader and the writer have a psychic connection. No matter when you read a book, it’s always going to be months after it was written. And yet, when you open those covers, you’re transported directly into the writer’s brain at the moment they were crafting the story. If that’s not time travel, I don’t know what is.

We re-released A THOUSAND DOORS this week with a gorgeous new cover. I hope you’ve time-travelled into Mia’s world with all of us. If not, you should. It’s a thought-provoking read, perfect for book club. What if… it’s a dangerous, slippery slope, and our answer to that question is something I am incredibly proud to have been a part of.

I mention this because I’m working on a couple of short stories in addition to the new novel. I love shorts. (You can see all of them here.) They are so much fun. I love stretching my wings, discovering new characters and points of view. So I thought I’d take advantage of our physic connection today to share a couple of my favorites with you.

THE ENDARKENING is part romance, part horror, and utterly surreal, all with a Scottish backdrop. I hope you love it, because it was a blast to write. If you love it too, please don’t hesitate to leave a review. If you hate it, send me a note, instead. (LOL) Just because we need a little Halloween in July...

WHITEOUT is a Taylor Jackson novella, that not only revisits my favorite long-standing homicide lieutenant, it also introduced an assassin that you will never forget. I know I haven’t.

CATWOOD was inspired by a writers retreat I went on with a crowd of brilliant writers. Here we were, out in the woods, with the most adorable cabin and dock, a beautiful lake, a sunny day… and all I was thinking was wow… what if something happened to one of us. We’re in the middle of nowhere…

Finally, THE OMEN DAYS was a response to a great song that I love by Airborne Toxic Event called “Sometime Around Midnight.” It’s such a visual song, and I couldn’t help myself, I had to write it as a short story. of course, it took on a life of its own, and turned a wee bit supernatural…

And with that, on to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Kindle and Nook readers: You know you don’t own those books, right? Scary to entertain but something to keep an mind…

How to Keep Up With New Book Releases. Great tips!

Whole 60. Laura Lippman has always been a knockout. And this is a superb essay.

Proving Hitchcock Right, Bird Attacks Are Turning Violent This Summer. Yikes!

How Japanese RPGs Inspired A New Generation Of Fantasy Authors. This is a fascinating connection.

Sweden's bokbåten is a floating library that brings books to residents of remote islands. So cool!

The Horrible Place Between the Apps. “In short: We are not well.”

World War II Veteran Reunites With French Woman He Loved 75 Years Ago. What a sweet story!

How To Be A Good Library Patron. Let’s treat our library staff and fellow patrons well.

How to Create Better Digital Habits with Freedom’s Locked Mode. “Science shows again and again that people who experience less temptation better manage their self-control. Why? Because they aren’t hoping for super-human amounts of will power – they just don’t expose themselves to things that don’t match their goals.”

Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen!

What I’m Reading:

THE DARK ABOVE by Jeremy Finley

I'm always up for some aliens and government conspiracies, and Jeremy Finley's THE DARK ABOVE is as intense as it is compulsively readable. Lyrically written and expertly plotted, moody and elegantly thrilling, it will hook you from page one all the way to the shocking end. This haunting follow-up to his stellar debut THE DARKEST TIME OF NIGHT firmly cements Finley in the who's who of today's thriller writers. It's perfect for fans of Strange Things and The X-Files, but also has a much broader appeal, sensitively handling the tenuous relationships between Will and his grandmother Lynn, fifteen years after the incident that started it all. Perfect summer reading. What are you reading?

That’s all for now. I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,