Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Break

No,the babies aren't here yet, but I've been buried by my to-do list and need to take a brief blog break this week. I'll be back next week! If I don't get to visit you in the next few days, I promise I'll be by next week. Have a great day, y'all!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Your Summer Reading List

Peeps! Guess what?? You wrote this post.

Yup, you really did. Well, maybe not in a sit-down-at-the-computer-and-bang-out-Liz's-posts-for-her kind of way (which, btw, I'd be totally open to letting you do,) but more in a I-compiled-responses-from-you sort of way. But EITHER WAY, the end result is that I now have a really freaking cool, reader-approved, first-hand list of book recommendations.

See, last week I asked you all to recommend books that I should read this summer. And so many of you gave me so many great tips and ideas that I got super excited about it, and decided I should put them all together and share them back to all of you! And of course, to make it more fun, I included the blogger who recommended each book in the list.

So here it is, straight from you to you:

Your Summer Reading List

The Bone TreeNatchez Burning and The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles

These came from Susan Gourley/Kelley, who said, "Both books really highlight the terror of the deep south during the civil rights movements in the 60's and how so much hate and inequality still lingers today."

Secret Worlds, Anthology compiled by Rebecca Hamilton

H.R. Sinclair recommended this 21 (21!!!) book set, which looks like a collection of paranormal romance novels from a bunch of bestselling authors. Which really, with 21 (21!!!) to choose from, the odds are pretty damn good you'll like at least a few of them.

Kate MortonAnything by Kate Morton

Ok, yeah, I cheated - that's an author image, not a book image, but to be fair, M Pepper Langlinais did recommend all of her books, specifically for summer reading, and it appears that Ms. Morton is too prolific for me to show her titles here. So, go check her out, and pick one, and report back! I'm thinking of starting with The House at Riverton.

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Loni Townsend opted out of making a recommendation because my tastes are too serious for her or something. I have no idea why she would say such a ridiculous thing (nevermind that I said it myself,) but she then had a change of heart and decided to give us one, anyway. This was hers, although she hasn't read it yet. Let's see: blind kid? Holocaust? Yep, right up my alley.

Lisette's ListLisette's List, by Susan Vreeland

Jenni Enzor stepped away from her (fantastic) MG recommendations to give us this one, which is, as she says, "about famous paintings hid in Provence during World War II." It's fiction, though, don't worry!

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary ShelleyRomantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley, by Charlotte Gordon

It's not in paperback yet, so this one might make my fall reading list. It's non-fiction, yes, but what a story! Ava Quinn recommended this examination of the famous author and the daughter she never knew, saying, "[It's] history and feminism all rolled into one."

Marlene Dietrich by Her DaughterMarlene Dietrich by Her Daughter, by Maria Rivera

Maria Rivera is Marlene Dietrich's daughter, of course, so this biography is straight from the source. Birgit recommended it as one of her favorites: "It is not a scathing book done by a daughter but a revealing look at this enigmatic woman."

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)Unwind (Unwind, #1)The Diviners, by Libba Bray, and Unwind, by Neal Shusterman

Madilyn Quinn has such a long TBR list (I hear you, Madilyn; mine is so damn long I don't even look at it anymore, which totally defeats the purpose of having it) that she had to recommend both of these. I'm not complaining! They're both YA: "The Diviners is historical fiction while Unwind is a sort of dystopian biopunk thing."

Anything by Marian Keyes

I had to cheat again and and give you an author pic, because Diane Carlisle recommended everything by Marian Keyes, saying she loves her style and voice.

A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent, #1)A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan

I'm excited about all of the books on this list, but this one really tickles my fancy (that's a very weird expression, isn't it?) I love books that play with genre, and I will always be a sucker for fantasy, so this fictional memoir of a Victorian-era woman studying dragons is right up my alley. Mason Matchak chose this, saying, "'s oddly charming, especially if you like classic British stuffiness as both plot and character points." Which I do. Score!

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Sarah Brentyn recommended this book, and I almost jumped out of my seat when I read her comment, because I loved this book. In fact, it was on my reading list last summer, and it was a wonderful summer read. It's MG, but adults will love it, too.

sex murder double latte collection by kyra davisThe Sophie Katz mystery series, by Kyra Davis

I do love these two-for-one - or really multiple-for-one - recommendations. This one for a series of books about a writer-turned-detective comes from Shannon Lawrence, and it looks like a lot of fun.

And that's it - but that's pretty damn good, if I do say so myself! Too bad the credit is all yours ;)

See anything on here you want to read? What else would you add?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Reading, and Requests

I did a post on summer reading last year, and it was so good at giving me something to blog about much fun that I decided to make it an annual tradition. As I mentioned the last time I did this, the summer version of Seasonal Affective Disorder always strikes me in July - that is, the total lack of motivation to do anything besides be outside, read (preferably outside) and swim (preferably while also reading, and definitely outside.) Which means that blogging about reading is at least in the right ballpark, and I can usually do it outside on my porch. So it's a win-win.

But THIS YEAR, I need your help, too. You'll have to keep reading to find out why (see how I did that? Oh yeah. I'm a pro at hooks...)

Here's what I've been reading so far:

The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is not my typical summer read. It's slow, lyrical, and utterly heartbreaking - not exactly what I'd call good beach material. But I was so drawn in by the characters and the simple yet masterful writing that I couldn't put it down, and that is what I call good beach material. It also offers a fascinating insight into the history of India and Bangladesh, and the Communist insurgencies there in the 1960s. A topic which, I confess, I knew absolutely nothing about until I picked up this book. Once I got over feeling humiliatingly ignorant, I loved the insight into the particular time and place in the country's past. Highly recommended.

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

I know, I know, I am way overdue on reading this book. It was everyone's favorite book like 15 years ago (or 12, whatever,) and yet I never read it. I kept meaning to, and kept meaning to, but I somehow never actually got to it. I didn't think much of it until I realized just how long I'd been putting it off, at which point I was so embarrassed that I moved it to the top of my list. I'm reading it right now, actually, so I can't write a real review of it yet, but so far, I love it. It's engaging, funny, and heart-wrenching (because apparently I am incapable of reading lighthearted books,) and I'm very glad I decided to finally pick it up.

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Look! I'm not too far off on this one! This has been one of the most talked-about books this year (at least in my very limited circles,) and I'm reading it this year!!! Or at least, I'm intending to. It's next on my list after The Secret Life of Bees. I don't have much to say about it, except that I'm really excited to read it, because everyone I know who read it absolutely loved it.

Now is where you come in, because this is IT for my summer reading list, and I need more suggestions! So please, pile 'em up. What are you reading this summer? What's on your list? What should I read after Station Eleven?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure Writers: How to Find a Writing Group, Contd.

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

A briefy (yes, I made up a word) today, in honor of my resolution to stop overwriting so damn much:

I am NOT insecure today. I know - can you believe it??? It's a Christmas miracle. Or, a July miracle. Whatever.

I am NOT insecure this month because I am instead excited, inspired, and feeling accomplished!

Why, you ask? (Go on - ask. No, really. It'll make me happy.)

Because I have a writing group!!!

Some of you might remember me bleating on about this a few months ago, wishing I had such a group. A few of you might even remember that I took a non-fiction writing class this spring - but if you don't, that's OK. I barely remember my own life, much less anyone else's.

Well, I took the class in part to get better at writing personal essays, but also to see if I could find some cool, talented writers who might also be interested in forming a group.

And guess what?? I DID AND THEY DID! Our class is over, but more than half of us decided we wanted to keep going. We had our first meeting last week, and it was wonderful. Productive and inspiring and fun. I can't believe that I found these talented and smart people, and that they wanted to write with me. How lucky am I??

What are you insecure about? Do you have a group that inspires you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dribbles, Drabbles, and CASSA SERIES!

Good morning (or afternoon/evening/late night) my lovelies! It's been a while since I've done one of these dribbly/drabbly/drivelly posts, so I thought, why not today? Whilst perusing my little list today, please make sure to get all the way down to #3, because it's an exciting one...

1. The True Meaning of Spectacular

Every year, I take my father to a Red Sox baseball game - a nice sort of twist on what he did for my brother and I when we were young. Fenway Park is a really unique, historic place, and I always love being there...even when the home team delivers another rotten egg for our viewing enjoyment.

BUT, regardless of what the Sox were (or weren't) doing last night at Fenway, we were treated to a truly spectacular laser show by the sky, lit up in glory over the game (and the lights at the park did their part to make the photo I snapped something special):

The light show lasted a long time, with rays shooting golden, then orange, then crimson into the heavy, low-hanging clouds. It was breathtaking.

2. Writing, What?

I thought I'd be using the months before the onset of twindom to write and write and write, and sort of store up lots of writing time before I have zero time - like people tell expecting parents to shore up on sleep. Turns out my idea was just as flawed as the sleep one. Dammit. 

Know what I'm doing before the onset of twindom? Not writing, oh Lord, no. I'm getting ready for twindom. It's truly astonishing how much preparation and stuff and work goes into two tiny helpless little beings' arrival.

It's all worth it. It's also a bit frustrating. Maybe next week I'll have more time?

3. Alex J. Cavanaugh's Cassa Series Available in Boxed Set!

And now, I'm delighted to help Alex announce that his Cassa books are now available as a boxed set:

Release date - June 22 2015

By Alex J. Cavanaugh 
ISBN 9781939844118
Price - $5.99 eBook boxed set
Science fiction/adventure (FIC028010) and science fiction/space opera (FIC028030)

The Amazon Best-Selling Series!

CassaStar - Few options remain for Byron. Slated to train as a Cosbolt pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth to his instructor, Bassa. As war brews on the edge of space, Bassa must make a decision that could decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission destined to stretch their abilities to the limit?

CassaFire - Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters behind him, the detection of alien ruins sends him to the planet of Tgren. Forced to train a Tgren named Athee and deal with an eager young scientist, he feels invaded. Tensions mount as the ruins reveal a potential weapon, plunging him further into the chaos. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

CassaStorm - Commanding the base on Tgren, Byron watches as a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the planet. When the war hits Tgren, it triggers nightmares in his son. The ancient alien ship begins transmitting a deadly code and the probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago returns. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Find it here:*Version*=1&*entries*=0*Version*=1&*entries*=0

About Alex: Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This Is What Addiction Looks Like: Game of Thrones

Note: there's nothing about writing here today. Not a peep. Unless you count the fact that I WROTE this post? No? Right. Sorry. I got...distracted. I'll try to drag myself out of the television for next week. Really, I promise. 

I held out for as long as I could - either four years or nineteen years, depending on if you count from first book publication or TV premiere - but it's finally happened:

I'm drinking the House Stark Kool-Aid. Smoking the Westeros crack pipe. Hooked up to an IV of Blood Magic.

In other words, I've joined the legions of people who are completely, thoroughly, utterly addicted to Game of Thrones.

I'm talking the HBO series, here, not the books: as a proud bibliophile, it's embarrassing to admit, but I've been scared away from the books by the sheer size of the volumes. They're freaking long, OK? And I've always worried that if I started reading them, I wouldn't be able to stop until I'd read all of them, which would takes months and would mean I'd never read anything else, and, even worse, that I'd hit the point of utter desperation so many fans have felt, when they reached the end of the fifth book only to find that George R. R. Martin is the slowest writer the world has ever seen, and realize that they'll have to wait an unbearable, undetermined amount of time before they can get their next fix.

Now that I've started watching the TV show, I know - I was right to be afraid. Because now I reach the end of one episode and find myself thinking, "Well, the next one is only another hour, I can squeeze that in, right? It's just one hour less of sleep." Or, you know, five.

So now I'm sleep deprived and running behind on a ton of tasks (not good, considering what's coming up in my life,) and even when I'm not watching TV it's still ruling my life. I'll be cooking dinner or working with client, and think, "Hmm, what's Tyrion going to do about [insert life-threatening dilemma here]?" Or, "Oh god, I can't get over it! I keep seeing the scene where [insert important, beloved, heroic character here] died, over and over again."

I was going to write more, but, you know, EPISODES TO WATCH.

See?? I'm sacrificing social and recreational activities, and my relationships and work are suffering. I really am addicted.

OOOO the theme song is playing! Gotta go!

Do you watch Game of Thrones? Read the books? What are you addicted to these days?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Guest Post: Chrys Fey's Ghost of Death and Witch of Death

Man, I've been featuring a lot of books on the ole blog recently, haven't I? It's a pleasure and a lot of fun - and yes, with the impending arrival of twindom, it's also a delight to hand the reins over to someone else, and let them ride us both off into the sunset while I busy myself installing medicine cabinets, picking up baby gear hand-me-downs from generous friends, and cleaning out our closets.

Oh wait, was that one of things I wasn't supposed to admit? Oh. Oops. Hmm, does pregnancy brain only affect the partner who's pregnant? What's my excuse, then? 

Umm...oh dear. I may not have one. 

Well, then, let me just come out and say I am DEE-lighted to feature Chrys Fey here today, not only because she's giving me time to paint the nursery, but MAINLY and MOSTLY because she's a great blogger friend and a prolific and talented writer. Take it away, Chrys!

Thank you for opening your blog to me, Liz, so I can share my newest short story, Witch of Death, with your lovely readers. :)

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the moon. When I realized the moon followed me in the car, I thought it only did that for me and that I was special. I thought the man on the moon was my friend. I used to talk to him in whispers from my bedroom window. I even pretended he was my boyfriend. Hey. I was eight. Don’t judge me! :P

The point is, the moon had been of deep fascination to me and now it’s a constant source of inspiration. In Witch of Death, a witch commits murder during a full moon. In Ghost of Death, the moon has an even bigger significance. Before my MC, Jolie, dies, she sees the moon and recites the lullaby “Goodnight Moon,” a bedtime story I loved.

Here’s a cute animated version narrated by Susan Sarandon:

QUESTIONS: Do you remember Goodnight Moon from your childhood? Do you like the moon?


Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.


With the sound of her mom’s grief wafting up to her, Jolie came to terms with her present state. I’m dead and now my mom knows it. She eyed the door in front of her. She hadn’t yet walked through a door, but if her hand could pass through metal then she knew she could move through wood.

If I have to be a ghost then I’ll be a damn good one. All across the afterlife I’ll be known as the Ghost of Death! And I’m going to start by walking through this damn door!

She would’ve taken a deep breath to brace herself if she could have, so she mentally pumped herself up instead. You can do it! Easy-peasy. Nothing to it. And she took a step forward. Solid matter slipped around and through her form. On the other side, a familiar site confronted her: a black and white bed, the bright green shag carpet in the middle of the room, and a white desk.

Stepping up to her desk, Jolie eyed her ancient desktop computer, the one she used before her dad gifted her with a laptop when she announced she was accepted to the local university. Wanting to send out the first ever tweet from the afterlife, she pushed the button to bring the device to life, but her finger poker straight through it. Resigning to her Twitter-less fate, she moved toward the full-length mirror hanging on the wall. She saw nothing. Not even a shimmer in the air hinted at her presence.

Being a ghost sucks!

Book Links: 

Also available: WITCH OF DEATH


Detective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.

Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.

Book Links:


Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.

You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!

Author Links: