A while back I asked you to chime in with reads you enjoyed in 2021. (Meant to post this back in January but here we are.) Below are some of the recommended books. We’ve got sci-fi/fantasy. We’ve got mystery. Sci-fi/mystery combos. A couple of time-travel romances. Thrillers.
My thanks to everyone who responded! Some of these authors I’ve read, others have gone on my TBR list.
I’ve just started one of the thrillers recommended, a book I hadn’t come across before, Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost, a “modern and twistyretelling of Jane Eyre“. Enjoying it so far!
First, a welcome if you’ve recently found your way to this newsletter via my website, or a Voracious Readers Only giveaway, or the ArtWorks parking-lot fair back in September. Very happy to have you here!
This past year has gone by kind of fast, and yet when I think back to January it seems like a long time ago. A side effect of a pandemic year that was weird and strange for everyone? Our goldendoodle (Grif, age 3 1/2) agrees that time is a fluid concept — each spring he seems to completely forget all about snow once it melts away and is freshly surprised (and a little outraged) by its appearance when winter rolls around once again. Above is a picture of him frolicking during our first big snowfall of the year (17 inches!). It took him a couple of days to accept the change in his backyard. He checked the neighborhood streets, too — the white stuff was everywhere on his walks — and then he went back to doing what he does best, enjoying himself. He’s a carpe diem kind of dog.
Moving on, a writing update! I’ve been working on Book 1 of a new speculative mystery series. The current word count is just about 59,000 (out of an estimated 75,000 words) which makes it seem as if I’ll soon be nearing THE END, but really that’s just the messy first draft. Next comes the shaping stage. Shifting, adding, taking scenes out, rewriting chunks, fiddling with the setting and the characters, polishing dialogue, pulling tight the strings of the story. I’ve set myself the challenge of a one-word title for this one. (I picture my cover designers pulling at their hair… She has a looong name AND she wants a long title?? Regarding Ducks and Universes…. All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise… Argh!) I’m sure I’ll change my mind a few more times about the naming of the book, but the working title at this point in time is (ta-da!) Dogwood.
Finally, I have a question for you. What three books that you read in 2021 were your most enjoyable/memorable (or just happen to be on your mind as you read this)? It’s fine if the books didn’t actually come out in 2021, the publication date doesn’t matter, there are no rules here really, other than that I suppose they should be in the one of the categories that have brought us all here: speculative fiction and mystery… Could be a sci-fi mystery. Could be just mystery. Or just sci-fi. It’s all good.
To start us off, here are three books that I read this past year that I quite enjoyed:
Hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable summer!
Can anyone help me identify a bird? It nested a while back on the light fixture right outside our front door. There were at least three baby birds, from what we could see of the beaks peeking out of the nest. When we got back from a week away visiting family in South Carolina, everyone had flown the coop! I made an attempt to identify the breed by its brownish-white chest on one of those websites listing bird species in Minnesota, but without much luck. If you’re familiar with it, do let me know!
In reading news, I’ve been trying Bookbub as a recommendation site for what to read next. (Amazon’s algorithms tend to suggest books that are popular but don’t catch my eye, or books that I’ve already glanced at but passed on for whatever reason…and, occasionally, the algorithms suggest my own books as well?) If you haven’t come across Bookbub before, it allows you to choose which categories you like to read and follow authors and be alerted when they have a new book out or when one of their books goes on sale. The site sends out daily emails with discounted books in your preferred reading categories, which is handy for discovering new authors. The only problem is that my To-Be-Read list is growing ever longer!
Speaking of Bookbub and other sites that feature discounted books, I had someone ask me whether waiting to buy a book until it’s on sale hurts authors and the answer is no. The point of the promotional pricing is to climb Amazon (and other) charts, and every purchase of a book helps push it up the charts just a little more. The reader saves money, which is always good, and the book gets a tiny boost in visibility, also good. In other words, everyone wins…which probably accounts for Bookbub’s popularity with both readers and authors.
And speaking of sales, All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise will be discounted to $0.99 the week of July 26 on Kindle and the Nook. I’m in the process of taking the book “wide” onto other retailers–the full list will be available here by the end of the month. It’s been a bit of a learning process and I’m curious if I have readers who prefer platforms outside of Amazon–my print books have always been available wide but the ebooks have been limited to Kindle thus far. So if you’re on Nook, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books or another retailer, do let me know!
Hope your summer is full of good books and good friends!
I hope everyone is having a good spring and enjoying the warmer weather and maneuvering vaccine appointments without too much difficulty. It’s been hard to snag appointments here in Minnesota but I did just get the first dose of the vaccine yesterday. I’m looking forward to getting back to traveling this summer and doing normal things like regular haircuts and teeth cleanings and time spent at the outdoor swimming pool. It’s been a strange fourteen months or so, to say the least.
On the book front, All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise is now available in paperback, after a delay because the print proof got lost in the mail for a bit. You can find it on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble. If you’re interested in ordering the paperback through your local library, the book is listed via IngramSpark. You’ll need this number, the ISBN: 978-1-7366979-1-7
My thanks to everyone who’s bought it so far and left reviews! For some reason, this time around, the reviews have mostly gone to Goodreads rather than Amazon and I have no idea to what to attribute the pattern. Maybe posting thoughts about a book on Goodreads feels like less pressure — plus the site does let you leave a star rating only, no text needed. Either way, the reviews have been much appreciated!
Also, I’ve done a couple of guest posts this week. On Thursday, Mary Robinette Kowal kindly lent me a corner of her blog — My Favorite Bit — where I got to talk about the fun I had choosing brands for my cast of characters.
In keeping with the theme, a few days before that I was guest on PersephoneKnits, Julie Reeser’s blog, where I mused about coming to terms with my author brand…
Hello, everyone! It’s here, the launch day for the eBook of All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise, a speculative whodunit set in a Seattle of the future. Now available for Kindle and on Kindle apps for iPad and iPhone.
An early review on Goodreads had these kind words to say about the book:
I’ve had a couple of people ask whether there’ll be a print book. The answer is yes, a print book is in the works and should be out by early April — stay tuned!
Looking back on writing this, it reminds me a lot of Regarding Ducks and Universes, although they are very different! Part of it is that they’re both standalones and about the same length: 90,000 words. They also both look into the near future, whereas my other books (in the time travel Incident series) turn a lens into the past. Then there’s the fact that they both ended up with looong titles… They were the right titles, but still, it makes it a challenge to write a tweet referencing the books or any kind of character-limited description!
I’d like to report that spring weather is accompanying the book launch but as I’m writing this it is in fact snowing here in Minnesota. At least it’s a spring-like snow, large melty flakes that won’t stick around for long.
Finally, if you do pick up the book and would like to help spread the word about it, an Amazon or Goodreads review is, as always, much appreciated!
It’s here, the cover for All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise, out on March 16, 2021! I was concerned the title, being long, would have to be squished in, but I think it pops beautifully. Fantastic job on the design by Damonza.
ADVANCE READER COPIES
As the publication date nears, I’ll have a few ARC ebooks (Advance Reader Copies) to give out. I’ll be emailing these out at the beginning of March. Launch week reviews posted on Amazon and/or Goodreads are more important than ever in getting the word out about the book, so if you interested in being an early reviewer, please do let me know. Details on how to sign up are below.
To be added to the ARC list, either:
(1) reply to this email (if you’re reading this in a newsletter)
There’s book news to announce! The novel I’ve been working on for a while now has a publication date: March 16, 2021. The finalized title is All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise, a mystery set in a near-future Seattle. This one ended up being somewhat of a departure from my usual style, but I learned a lot in writing and polishing it, and from feedback I received along the way from beta-readers and my editors, Kristen Weber and Shannon Page. Hopefully you all like it!
Here is a brief description:
A future Seattle where popularity is everything. The mysterious death of the #1. And an elusive killer.
A century into the future, life on the frozen West Coast is harsh but inside the Dome of New Seattle, it’s a popularity contest. Everyone’s sorted onto a People List—at the top is Delilah, a charismatic stage actress. Much lower is Scottie, six months into adulthood and sliding toward the bottom spot, which brings a short ride out of town.
When Delilah dies in a balcony fall, the blame for the seeming accident lands on Scottie. Aided by her ‘Watson,’ the personal assistant her brain chip provides, Scottie scrambles to save herself and find the real culprit. What she discovers will shake the very foundation of her world…and place her squarely in the crosshairs of a shadowy killer intent on clearing a path to #1.
There is no cover yet but the Kindle preorder page has gone up — you can find it here. There will be a trade paperback version; I should know more in January – stay tuned. There will be ebook ARCs to give out at some point, most likely at the end of February.
Next, I’ve moved my website from Blogger over to WordPress for a crisper look. Come check it out here (unless you’re reading this on my website, in which case you’re already here). I tried to aim for an uncluttered, easy-on-the-eyes feel to the font and pages.
Finally, I’ve added a manuscript critiques section to the website. Send me your works-in-progress or your ready-to-submit masterpieces for feedback!
I’ll read your manuscript twice, once all the way through without stopping and a second time with an eye out for everything from story structure to pacing issues to character development. More details can be found here.
New look to the website, courtesy of a switch from Blogger to WordPress! I’m still fiddling around with theme customization and transferring everything, so please excuse any temporary broken links, etc. I hope to have everything in order shortly!
First, an update about THE PEOPLE LIST, the book I’ve been working on for a while. The latest round of editorial suggestions has taken almost a year to implement, but I’m nearing the finish line of what has felt not like a sprint but a marathon. At just under 100,000 words, this is now the longest novel I’ve written. I’ve learned a lot in the process of writing this one, not the least of which is how important having an uninterrupted block of daily writing time is to my process — and its opposite, that’s it’s key to step away from the manuscript for a while, or I get lost in the trees. And, as I keep reminding myself, nothing in publishing happens fast, so this is par for the course.
Next, I’ve been lucky enough to get a dedicated writing space, a studio at a local arts/writing non-profit, ArtWorks. (Yay!) I can already tell that having the space and a community of creatives will be a great experience. If you’re in the mood to support a local haven for creatives, they take donations here.
If you live in the Twin Cities area and are looking to start 2020 by engaging your creative side, I’m co-hosting a workshop with poet and writer Denise Alden at Artworks on Saturday, January 11 from 9:00 a.m. to noon. This will be the first in a series of workshops featuring a different teaching artist each month, with themes tied to Art Works’ quarterly exhibits. You do not have to be a member to attend. Grab your notebook or laptop and come to network, enjoy a light breakfast, and get your creative juices flowing with writing prompts tied to the theme of the upcoming February-April exhibit, Raw Emotion. Everyone is welcome, from beginners to seasoned writers, as well as across genres. Registration details can be found here and the map to the Eagan location is here. Hope to see you there!
Twin Cities Book Festival If you’re looking for something to do this upcoming Saturday, come to this year’s Twin Cities Book Festival. The day, according to my weather app, is slated to be gray, cold and overcast – perfect for writerly events and book browsing! The festival is being held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is free. Here’s some festival info from the organizer’s website:
Rain Taxi’s TWIN CITIES BOOK FESTIVAL is not only the largest, most adventurous literary event in the Upper Midwest; it is THE annual get together for devoted book lovers from the Twin Cities and beyond!
The single-day TCBF will feature hundreds of exhibitors, dozens of presenting authors from near and far, special children’s programming and endless curiosities for all ages, all in a massive celebration of our vibrant Minnesota literary culture.
FREE ADMISSION FREE parking • FREE Metro Transit rides to the Fairgrounds
You can find me at the Book Fair portion of the festival, which is being held in the Progress Center of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, located at 1265 Snelling Ave., Saint Paul, MN (directions here). I’ll have a table somewhere in the hall, though I’m not sure yet where (edit: I’ll be at table 409 in the middle of the hall). Stop by to get a book signed or just to say hi! This is my first year attending and it promises to be interesting. Book Update In other news, the novel I’ve been working on for quite a while has come back from my editor Kristen Weber and… it needs more work. I’ve enjoyed writing this one but it’s turned out to be somewhat of a beast to wrestle into a coherent story. No one is as impatient as I am to get this book on the road as soon as possible. This is one of those instances of It’s better to do it well than to do it fast. I am very much looking forward to holding the finished book one of these days. On the plus side, we finally have a title. Ta, da, here we go: THE PEOPLE LIST, a standalone near-future novel! Stay tuned for the cover reveal and back-page description. Grif the Dog On the personal side of things, and what might be putting a slight damper on my available editing time this fall, is the newcomer to the household, Grif the mini goldendoodle. He’s a fast-growing bundle of energy. The picture was taken a couple of weeks after he came to live with us. What an adorable face!