Category Archives: books

Reading Wednesday: When Do You Read?

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As a parent of an inquisitive five-year-old, I often get asked about time. How many seconds are in two hours? How many minutes are in a day? How many hours are in a week? And to sound like a cliché, it’s times like that I realize I need six or seven clones or thirty hours in a day to get everything done. This week was one of those weeks that went by in a blink of an eye. Doctor visits, dentist visits, and writing occupied much of my time. And with many of my minutes occupied driving from one place to another or bouncing like a yo-yo between different rooms in a doctor’s office, something had to give this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read as often as I like. That brought a question to my mind: when you are busy, what is the first thing that gets eliminated on your schedule? I hate to admit that reading got pushed back to mere minutes instead of hours. When you get busy, do you seek more time to read to try or do you set your book aside for a couple of days until your schedule evens out?

For me, I always try to read my craft book before I read my fun books. I think that was one of the reasons I loved Stephen King’s On Writing so much. It was the guilty pleasure book that read more like a pleasure book than a book about the craft of writing. So there were days this week I read part of Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel and nothing else.

Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel. Now that the introduction by Anne Perry and the first chapter are out of the way, I’m reading more about his pointers for writers. I’m enjoying his insights into a well constructed and breakout novel. For instance, he asks writers to stop at think not only about their character’s stakes in the book but what is the writer’s personal stake in the book? His point is writing a novel to meet a deadline isn’t the greatest personal stake in the world. Chances are if you’re no longer having fun, your characters may reflect your disinterest in writing. As I read through the section, I considered his questions. Thought-provoking questions for a thought-provoking book. So far I recommend this writing book. It helps you think about the character’s stakes in the outcome, it sprinkles in ideas to help with crafting different genres, and it addresses the premise of the book. And all of that in the first eighty-plus pages. This book is worth the time and money.

The Book That Shall Not Be Named. It’s been great to hear from people about why you stop reading books. If I were going to start putting a book down in the middle, this book would be the book. As a writer, I understand how hard it is to write a book. As a person, I try not to give bad reviews (except for the Holiday Inn I stayed at with my WH in Charleston-13 years later and I’m still willing to give that hotel a bad review). But as a reader, I cringe at not finishing a story, always hoping for a little nugget somewhere in the book. I’m still waiting with this book for that nugget.

The Rancher’s Reunion by Tina Radcliffe. This is the book I’m reading on my Kindle. It’s a category inspirational romance. So far I’ve only read the first twenty pages, but I’ve loved these twenty pages more than any of the pages in the book that shall not be named. Will has picked up Annie at the airport as she has just returned from Kenya. Over the next week, I look forward to finding out more about these two: why did Annie leave his ranch the day she realized she loved him, why is she returning to the ranch? So far it’s a great story, and it makes me want to finish the other book so I can spend some enjoyable time engrossed in this story.

This week promises to bring less doctor’s appointments and less deadlines. Family Friday’s blog will introduce a new member of our family, creating another reason I haven’t had as much time to read. But hopefully things are settling down because Donald Maass’ book is becoming interesting and thought-provoking, Tina Radcliffe’s book is promising a relaxing few hours of fun, and well, the other book has a finite number of pages.

Is there anything in your life that reduces the amount of time you read or do you try to stay consistent with the amount of time you devote to reading? Let me know.


Reading Wednesday: Do you finish what you start?

stack-of-books-10022022There’s a trend going around that I’m not on board with. A lot of people who like to read are discussing how they’re more than willing to give up on a book early on if they don’t immediately fall in love with the story. I’ve talked to more than one person who has told me that life’s too short to read books that don’t interest them. Overall, that’s not my nature. I try to finish stories once I start them. It took me three tries to finish A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, but I finally made it all the way through the classic. I’ll admit something. Right after MJ was born, I tried to read Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. While a classic, it’s not the best book to read two weeks after having a baby. I couldn’t get past the realistic violence. Instead, my WH had started reading the Harry Potter books and convinced me to give them a try. I never picked up For Whom the Bell Tolls again. But the fact that I remember quite vividly the one book I couldn’t finish in the past twelve years does show that I do believe in reading a book all the way through.

Before I write about the books I’m reading now, I have another little story. My WH kids that I’m a high maintenance person masquerading as a low maintenance person (I love When Harry Met Sally). But my WH is pretty lucky in one respect. I love to get books for Christmas. Now that I’ve attended three writing conferences, my bookshelf is heavy laden with books acquired at them. I still ask for the occasional book, but it has to be one that I don’t have on my shelf. More often than not, I either ask for a book about the craft of writing or the next in a series I absolutely love. So I was excited to receive Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel at Christmas from my WH. Yeah, I actually enjoy reading books about how to become a better writer. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m reading.

Craft book. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. So far, I’m only on the second chapter. I enjoyed the foreword by Anne Perry. She posited one very interesting premise. People choose books more on word of mouth and previous author experience than the cover. In the past couple of years, cover reveals have taken front and center on many authors’ blogs, but I still give credence to what Ms. Perry proposed. Even though I acquired many books at the RWA 2014 Conference, the minute I came home I headed to my laptop and ordered Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake. Why? Because I heard so many great things about this book at the conference. And I wasn’t disappointed. It really is a wonderful read. I highly recommend Nine Rules. To me, it illustrated the truth of what Ms. Perry wrote. Even though I had shelves filled with books, I put this book at the top of my must-read pile because so many people recommended it.

To me, the first chapter boiled down to the following. No matter what, the craft of writing is the foundation for writing a book. It’s not creating and maintaining a website. It’s not about an advance received from a publisher. It all comes down to dedicating time to learning the craft and putting what you learn to work. The breakout novel comes from finding the story within you, taking time to properly write it, learning the craft, and weaving a complex tale that people will want to read and tell their friends about.

I’m continuing to read the book, little by little. It has some interesting points and I look forward to finishing it.

Romance Novel. I’m not going to name the romance novel because while I like it and it’s getting more interesting as it’s going along, it’s not my favorite and I try not to give a bad review. It’s not that I would give the book a bad review. After all, I do like it, but I wouldn’t tell someone to rush out and buy it either.

Kindle book. I just finished reading three anthologies of Christmas novellas on my Kindle as well as Tiny Treats, small snippets of 1000 word tidbit stories designed for a reader to become acquainted with different romance authors so the reader could then explore new authors in the upcoming year (I read it in 2014). The great thing about novellas and anthologies is getting introduced to new authors when you’re reading new stories by authors you’re already acquainted with. With me, I really liked 9 of the 13 stories in the three volumes, liked 1 of the 13, was so-so on 2, and really didn’t like 1 of the 13 (but I did finish it, much to the dismay of my WH who got an earful on why I didn’t like it). The great thing about reading nine really good stories is getting introduced to some new authors. And to my delight, I have one of the author’s stories already downloaded on my Kindle from a time when it was offered for free. So I’ll get to read it in the near future.

Do you finish every book you start or do you put some aside? Let me know.

Reading Wednesday: Turning the next page

What makes you turn the pages of a book? I’m not talking about why you start reading a book in the first place although those reasons alone could take up a whole blog with reasons such as a friend’s recommendation, a great cover, or a free copy. I’m writing about what makes you turn the next page and the next page of a book. For me, I’m a character driven reader. When I like the characters of a book, I try to steal extra minutes to find out what happens to them. To my wonderful hubby’s dismay, I’ve even been known to read late into the night to find out how the hero and heroine overcome that black moment or find out the identity of the villain. That’s how I know whether I really liked a book or not: if I can’t wait to finish the book. My own personal benchmark for whether I liked a book or not is whether the characters stuck with me while I was doing other things and whether I couldn’t wait to get back to read the rest of the book.

This month, I’ve been fortunate enough to read three books that make my qualifications for a good book.

The Preacher’s Promise by Piper G. Huguley. First a brief disclosure. I know the author as we are both members of Georgia Romance Writers. Now, having disclosed that, I have to admit I was more than pleasantly surprised by the high caliber of this work. When Cupcake, Chunk, and I went out to lunch, they played in the play area while I whipped out my Kindle to find out more about Amanda and Virgil. This was definitely a book that stayed with me while I wasn’t reading the story. The book itself takes place in 1866 in the states of Ohio and Georgia. Amanda Stewart, a recent graduate of Oberlin College, is taken aback when she discovers the extent of her precarious financial situation. Her father, a lawyer, has passed away and left her penniless. She finds an offer to teach newly freed slaves and their children in the town of Milford, Georgia. When she arrives in Milford, she meets the town’s mayor, Virgil Smithson, who was expecting a man for a teacher. Virgil is adamant that Amanda gets back on the train and travel back to her home state of Ohio. Amanda is equally adamant that she fulfill her purpose by becoming the teacher to students eager for an education. The book is an inspirational, historical romance that follows Amanda and Virgil as they struggle to discern God’s will for each of them in the antebellum South. The book is a thoughtful exploration of that time period through the eyes of two African-Americans who were raised in different conditions and have endured different paths that lead to Milford.

Hope for the Holidays: The Historical Collection by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Myra Johnson, and Julie Lessman. This is the book I am currently reading. I’ve finished the first two stories and loved them. I found myself reading “Sophie’s Other Daughter” and not being able to put it down. On the night of Kath’s band Christmas concert, I was in the high school lobby glued to my Kindle laughing over Ike’s reaction to Clay McClellan who, while holding a rifle, tells Ike that the McClellan Ike should fear is his wife, Sophie. While the orchestra set up, I would steal a couple of minutes of reading time to find out more about Ike and Laura. Then I’d listen to the music and then return to my Kindle while the next band set up on stage. I tried not to laugh out loud during some of the scenes so as not to draw attention to myself. So I enjoyed this short story. I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the next story nearly as much, and then I started reading Edward’s and Sylvie’s story. And opened my Kindle at Cupcake and Chunk’s preschool playground while they played. And opened my Kindle while I was eating breakfast to read more pages of their story. So this passes my test for a good book: I’m reading it whenever I can and I’m thinking about the characters when my Kindle isn’t in my hands.

A Little Night Murder by Nancy Martin. I didn’t think I’d like my Kindle, but I do. However, I still like to read a paper book that I can hold in my hands. There’s something about the smell and feel of a book that I can’t resist. I’ve now read nine of the ten books in this series. I like the Blackbird sisters, and this book kept me company in doctor’s offices for the past week as I disappeared into the world of Philadelphia society and the backstage world of the theater. This cozy mystery was well worth my time, especially with the fact that it was a library book.

But throughout the year, I’ve been very fortunate enough to read some books that kept me turning the pages for more. A huge thank you to Jill Shalvis, Nicki Salcedo, Sarah Mayberry, Sarah MacLean, Mary Connealy, Piper G. Huguley, Kristan Higgins, Carolyn Hart, Stephen King, and all the other authors who have written the books that I’ve loved reading this year. I’m sure I’ve left off some wonderful authors, but these were some of the authors whose books I couldn’t wait to continue reading and whose characters or lessons taught me something.

What about you? What are you reading? How do you fit in reading time to your day? Let me know.

Reading Wednesday: A PSA about the importance of reading plus Three New Books

 love_of_books_202371I love to read. That’s why I have reading Wednesdays. To share books that I’m reading because I don’t agree with the statistic that says 89% of Americans never pick up a book after high school. At least I hope that many people don’t stop reading after high school. Reading opens doorways to bold characters, different lives, and new worlds. Reading challenges the mind and opens the heart. Recently someone asked me about my four year old son, known on my blog affectionately as Chunk, who has been reading for two years. This woman asked me, “How did I do it?” First of all, I didn’t DO anything. He learned by himself. But when I recounted this story to my wonderful hubby, I added something to the story. I told my wonderful hubby that I wished I had told her it doesn’t matter at what age someone starts reading, it matters that people continue to read. My four children each have a different path to learning how to read. For me, however, as their mother, I’m not as concerned with how they learn to read, but whether they continue to read after high school. As their mother, I hope they all see me reading different books and want to continue reading about new worlds.

     On my last reading Wednesday, I highlighted three books: Techniques of a Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper G. Huguley, and Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas. I’m happy to write that I’ve finished all three. The first, Techniques of a Selling Writer, is a must for any wannabe writer. This is essential reading for establishing the importance of scene and sequel. Detailing the structure of a book through the beginning, middle and end, this book covers a lot of ground. For anyone who wants to write a book or does write books, I highly recommend this guide. The second, The Lawyer’s Luck, is a thought-provoking novella (with emphasis on novella). While too short, I highly enjoyed reading the story of Lawrence and Realie. Rather than painting two dimensional characters, Ms. Huguley depicts layered emotions for each character in her novella. The novella challenges a person to reconsider what he or she learned in history class and dig deeper into the complexities behind the heinous act of slavery. Told in alternating points of view between a runaway slave and a free man with African, Native American and white ancestry, the inspirational romantic novella examines the courtship of Lawrence and Realie over a geographic area from Ohio to Georgia. I recommend this and look forward to reading its sequel, the full length inspirational romance, The Preacher’s Promise. The last book, Somewhere Along the Way, is the second in the Harmony series which is more of a novel with strong romantic elements. I’d definitely start with the first in the series. While this book can be read as a stand alone, the characters’ stories are continued from the first book. I’d have felt lost if I started with this one. But Ms. Thomas weaves interesting characters in an interesting town that I’ll continue to visit from time to time.

     But now I’m reading three new books. I’m at the very beginning of two of them. I’m reading one book about writing, one book from the library, and one on my Kindle.

     ON WRITING BY STEPHEN KING. When I started Techniques of a Selling Writer, I decided to read five to seven pages a day since the writing was so dense with practical advice. So when I started On Writing, I didn’t know what to expect. I have never read a Stephen King novel. Don’t get me wrong. On a personal level, I have the highest respect and admiration for this author whose books have gripped so many. My grandmother was a Stephen King fan. She thought he wrote dark comedy. I’ve only seen one movie adaptation of his work: The Shawshank Redemption. This movie gripped me, and I watched with my husband wondering whether Tim Robbins’ character would break free of prison or get caught in his attempted escape. The acting of Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins bringing such subtlety and humanity to complex characters still astounds me even though I saw the movie eight or nine years ago.

    Even though I liked the movie, I’ve never read the short story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption on which the movie is based. I’ve never read Carrie or Cujo or The Shining or The Stand or one of the many other novels read the world round. But everyone says On Writing is a must read for writers. And now I know why. This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Hands down. I’m reading it everywhere I go. On MJ’s curriculum night, I had my head stuck between the pages as I navigated the familiar hallway taking care not to step on anyone’s feet, but I had to keep reading the story of Stephen King’s 8th grade self selling his jelly-print published copies of his take on The Pit and The Pendulum. When I pick up Cupcake and Chunk, my head is stuck between the pages while Stephen King describes his grandfather’s toolbox and the tools that should be in every writer’s toolbox. I had to laugh at one point when he wrote about the act of writing. The line is “It’s not church.” I had my head stuck in the book on the grounds of the church where my twins attend preschool. I’ve read this in a doctor’s office, while waiting for children, on curriculum night and nearly everywhere else. I am engrossed in his curriculum vitae, his toolbox, and his advice about the act of writing. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I understand why everyone recommends this book.

    The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson. Even though I love On Writing, I’m also reading some books for fun. I’ve gravitated toward reading more romances lately because I’m a romance writer and I read them for pleasure as well as to analyze POV, characterization, dialogue, etc. But I also love mysteries, and I’ve allowed myself to catch up on three of my favorite series by three of my favorite mystery authors. I recently finished the latest Rita Mae Brown mystery as well as Carolyn Hart’s latest Bailey Ruth book. I’ve read all of the Goldy catering mysteries, and this book was finally available at my library. I’ve only just started and am at the start of Chapter 3. I’m already hungry as I am whenever I read one of Ms. Davidson’s mysteries as the heroine runs a successful catering company. My wonderful hubby and I listened to one of her books on tape during a trip a long time ago. He even told me his stomach grumbled at the description of all the marvelous food. 

     I keep reading these books because I admire Goldy’s resilience and tenacity. I also like the cast of supporting characters from her police husband Tom to her best friend Marla (and I keep reading because Goldy found happiness with someone after the Jerk and I want Marla to find someone also) to her catering assistant Julian to her teenage son Arch. Jake the Bloodhound and Scout the cat are also making appearances. 

     Pull Me Closer by Lauren H. Kelley. I belong to Georgia Romance Writers. At the first meeting I attended, I met two writers: Lauren and Jeanine. Lauren has gone on to self-publish three books in a series and Jeanine has become my critique partner. I love GRW, and I love to read works by the talented members who help and encourage each other. I spent three very enjoyable days with Haywood Smith’s Wife-in-Law, laughing and commiserating with the main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed Piper G. Huguley’s The Lawyer’s Luck (featured above). And I’ve spent quite a few hours enmeshed in Tanya Michael’s books revolving around either a family or a hot cowboy. 

     At RWA’s National Conference, Lauren asked me to read her third book. I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again, I can’t start in the middle of a series. So I purchased the first two books for my Kindle. I’ve started reading the first book. This steamy novel set in corporate America is a change of pace for me. I generally gravitate to romance books that revolve around a small town or regency England or the the pioneering wilds of America. I’ve only just started Pull Me Closer as well, but it’s interesting to read Kerrigan and Axel’s story. This is a steamy novel, and it targets an adult reader. Ms. Kelley’s background in corporate America is helping add detail to her story.

     So I’m reading three totally different books. But the important thing is that I love reading. I hope I pass that love of reading onto my children.

     What are you reading? Let me know.

Reading Wednesday: What I’m Reading

      On the car ride home, my oldest daughter and I discussed her high school literature class. She doesn’t like the book she’s reading for her class. I thought how fortunate I am that I’m reading three good books right now. Yes, I am reading three books at one time and enjoying all of them.

     Technique of a Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. I’m a romance writer, and I try to read books about the craft of writing to help me become a better writer. I ordered Dwight Swain’s Technique of a Selling Writer because it is highly recommended by other writers, other craft books and various writing websites. When it arrived, I gulped because it is a 316 page volume on writing. I wondered how I would ever finish it. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t have to read it all at once. By reading a little bit each day, I am slowly making my way through the whole book. And I’m enjoying the book.

     Dwight Swain shares his insights about how to construct a novel. He encourages the author to think about the words he or she chooses. Instead of an adverb to modify the verb, describe the action. Make the words create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. He breaks down the different parts of a book into scenes and sequels and challenges the aspiring author to think about causation and effect on the characters. By setting up a situation and putting your character in the situation with an objective and a villain that spells disaster for the character’s objective, you create scenes which lead to sequels which lead to your book. He also details the different elements integral to a beginning, middle and an end to help the author think about the different acts of a book. 

     Presently I am reading about habits of the author. The author needs to plan out when and where to write. The author not only needs to research the publications that interests him or her, but do enough research for your background while not go overboard so you never write the book. 

     So by reading five to six pages a day, I’m learning more about word choice, scene choice and conflict. A little can go a long way.

     The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper G. Huguley. If you haven’t heard of Piper, you will. She’s an immensely talented writer who has reached the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Contest and is a two-time Golden Heart finalist. Two of her works are presently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book seller sites. The first work is this novella, The Lawyer’s Luck. This is a prequel to her full-length novel, The Preacher’s Promise (the book that was the Golden Heart finalist and the quarterfinalists in the ABNAs. Piper is a fellow Georgia Romance Writer member (and for the record, I purchased my copy of The Lawyer’s Luck and am giving this recommendation of this book on my own).

     The Lawyer’s Luck is an inspirational, historical romance novella. I downloaded it on my Kindle last week, having already read the first chapter of The Preacher’s Promise when it was made available for free on Amazon through the ABNA contest. Yesterday I began reading The Lawyer’s Luck at lunch and was immediately carried away to Ohio in the days before the Civil War. The hero, Lawrence, has lost his horse at the worst possible time. He needs him to ride the legal circuit. He knows people already judge him because he’s black (his heritage is 1/2 black, 1/4 Miami Nation Indian tribe, and 1/4 white). He goes in search of his horse who is tied up in the woods. He pulls his gun and is confronted by a woman. The gun discharges, and she is shot. Lawrence feels awful for having shot a woman and carries her back to town to receive help. He discovers she’s a runaway slave named Realie who is attempting to get to Canada, far away from the heinous conditions she endured as a slave.  

     I’m 20% of the way done with the novella, and I love this quiet yet compelling story. I look forward to finishing it in the days to come.

     Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas. Last year I attended my first RWA Conference in Atlanta. Before the conference, Ms. Thomas recorded a welcome video intended for first-timers. I watched it and was touched by her caring and strong words intending to welcome, encourage and affirm the reasons for attending. 

     At each of the last two RWA Conferences, there has been a Literacy Autograph signing where 400-500 authors sign copies of their books for readers and fellow writers. The money raised goes to help charities which endeavor to end literacy. At last year’s RWA Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Thomas who was very gracious to me even though I obviously had never read any of her books. I purchased one of her books in the Harmony series and smiled at her, basking in her encouraging presence.

     I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hate to begin reading series out of order. I crave the first copy, even for stand alone books that can be read regardless of order.

     Having admitted that, I browsed my library’s shelves to find the first Harmony book. Before I attended this year’s RWA, I read the first Harmony book and loved it. I checked and found that I did not purchase the second in the series. Instead I checked out book two, Somewhere Along the Way, and am now about forty percent of the way done with the book.

     The sequel takes place two years after the first ended. Reagan Truman, a former foster child, is now settled in Harmony and lives with Jeremiah Truman, her uncle. She has stumbled onto a job on Wednesday nights taking the place of Edith whenever Edith calls her and asks her to sub for her. Edith tells her that she’s been selling leftover food to a man for two dollars per meal. The man collects the meal at the end of her shift and has always paid her the same amount. 

     Reagan goes along with the deal and delivers the bag of food to the stranger who gives her the two dollars. The stranger is Gabriel Leary who lives on the outskirts of Harmony keeping as much to himself as possible. He makes a living by writing graphic novels and keeps an office in town. All his mail is delivered there to a G. L. Smith. Across the hall is new attorney Liz Matheson. Hers was one of the three founding families of Harmony: the Mathesons, the MacAllens, and the Trumans. Book one covered the story of Reagan finding a home in Harmony as well as the story of Hank Matheson and Alex MacAllen, the town’s voluntary fire chief and town’s sheriff respectively. My favorite character in the first book is the funeral director Tyler who is Hank’s best friend and Saralynn’s protector. 

     Ms. Thomas’ books have a way of slowly drawing me into the lives of the quirky characters who inhabit Harmony. Tyler is still one of my favorite characters and his story is tugging at my heartstrings.

     And so, I am fortunate to be reading three interesting books at the moment: one book about craft, one novella on my Kindle, and one novel from the library. 

     What are you reading? Do you like series? If so, do you like to start with the first in the series or will you pick up the latest release? Let me know. 

“What are you reading” Wednesdays: Why I love book series

In the past couple of months, I’ve discovered how passionate people are about reading. It’s suddenly cool to read. There are memes on Facebook that talk about people’s obsession with reading. I’ve discovered I’m not alone in my feeling of abibliophobia (the fear of running out of books to read) although I admit that right now my “to read” shelf is quite large. This weekend, I attended a wonderful workshop that proved something I’ve always known to be true in my personal life, but now someone has done much research to prove it: people love series.

Growing up, I latched onto book series. I loved the continuity of the characters’ lives and the returning to the same setting. From Trixie Belden to the Happy Hollisters, if it was a book series, I loved it. I was rather envious of a fifth grade classmate whose mother had kept all of her Cherry Ames’ books as our school library only stocked one of them. If there was more than one book in a series, I read it. I loved The Borrowers. I liked Nancy Drew but always returned to her much cooler counterpart, Trixie.

Guess what? I still love book series. If I find a series I love, I devour every book I can find (which now thanks to ebooks and the such is pretty easy). If it’s at the library, I especially love it.

There are series I’ve read for a long time. I love mysteries, romances, and nonfiction books. Carolyn Hart is one of my favorite mystery writers, hands down, no question. This woman is an absolute genius. I had the privilege of attending one of her book signings many years ago, and she was gracious and warm. She spent time with the small crowd, answering questions truthfully and diligently. That only added points in my book to want to read even more of her books. If there is a new Death on Demand book, I’m reserving it at my local library. I’ve read all of her Henrie O. series and I’ve read her Bailey Ruth series. There’s something, though, about the Death on Demand series that I always love. Annie and Max are a great combination, and her supporting characters are wonderfully alive, from the kooky and loving Laurel to the imperious and sharp Emma.

Last year at RWA, I had the privilege of receiving an autographed book from Jill Shalvis. I had never read any of her books before. I came home and devoured the first three Lucky Harbor series books. Maddie and Jax’s story is my favorite although I can relate to the Southern belle Tara and like her story with Ford. Any author who includes a reference to Ingrid Bergman is an author I want to read. I can’t wait to read more of the series.

The number of books that I have read that are part of series far outweigh the stand alone books I’ve read lately. If I see a Mrs. Murphy book by Rita Mae Brown, I’m at the checkout desk with it. If J. B. Stanley has a new James Henry/Supper Club book, it’s on my Kindle. I’m also at the checkout desk with the latest Fools Gold book by Susan Mallery. Just to name a few.

But why? Why do I keep returning to series? I think it’s like reconnecting with an old friend on Facebook. It’s finding out that the character is still vibrant and still is interesting enough to have another story to tell. It’s finding out that the author creates a persona that I want to read and in whom I invest time and energy getting to know. It’s also why television filled a niche that movies valiantly tried to fill with such classics as The Thin Man series (those wonderful movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy) but couldn’t because it takes so long to film a motion picture. People love their favorite characters in television shows and readers love their favorite characters to return either as a main character again or even a supporting one.

So this year I look forward to returning to some favorite places in books, but I’m also appreciative of authors who spin good stories without series as well. What about you? Do you love series? What series do you read and love? Let me know.

“What am I reading” Wednesdays: Happy New Year

Happy New Year! It’s a brand new year. Every year I get excited at the thought of all the books I am going to read in the upcoming year. I know that may sound a little weird. Most people probably dream of all the places they will visit or think of all the fun times they will have this year. Instead, I think about what books I’m going to read.

I’ve always surrounded myself with books. It’s natural for me to always be reading one book and think ahead to the next book I want to read. I separate the different stages of my youth by what I was reading: Dr. Seuss as a preschooler, Trixie Belden as an elementary school student, Anne of Green Gables as a middle school student and so on.

This year, I’m trying something new: reading challenges. This year I’m determined to read more and surf the internet less. I’ve started by picking out the first two books on my New Year’s reading list: All They Need by Sarah Mayberry and Ain’t Misbehaving by Molly Cannon.

Last year at the national RWA conference, I attended a seminar on Emotional Resonance delivered by Tanya Michaels. She named several writers throughout her talk, one of whom was Sarah Mayberry. I downloaded two of Ms. Mayberry’s books on my Kindle following the speech. I read the first last year and loved how Ms. Mayberry molded her characters into realistic people who could live next door. Both the hero and heroine impressed me because they had faults as well as strengths. So I picked out the second book that I had downloaded to be one of my first reads of the year. On the dear reader page, I discovered it was one of the two sequels she had written so I found a copy of the first one because I like to read books in order whenever possible. Tonight I started All I Need, the story of Mel and Flynn. So far it’s very good, and once again, Ms. Mayberry does an excellent job in entwining the reader into the lives of the characters, people you want to get to know and meet in real life.

I’ll let you know if it continues its present form of being a really good read. I especially love that it’s set in Australia, as Ms. Mayberry herself is from Australia. I have a particular fascination with Australia and New Zealand, two very beautiful and scenic countries.

So far, so good. The first book of this year is an enjoyable read. I’m hoping it’s a good sign for this year as well. May your new year be filled with good books and good goals. Happy reading.

What books are you excited about reading this year?