What’s new? How’s your year so far?
I note that Milltown Mel, the groundhog who traditionally predicts weather in New Jersey, died days before Groundhog Day. That doesn’t bode at all well for the weather. Unrelated, I’m sure, but NE Oklahoma is in the middle of a snowstorm that’s dumping anywhere from 2”-6” of snow and ice on a region that doesn’t do snow often. Wish us luck.
Blog Posts I’ve Read
I’m trying to read more, about all sorts of topics. It’s slow going, but there you go.
In Between By Kelly Claytor Great piece of writing, and in an effort to expand my horizons, I may start reading there more.
12 Authors Who Died in 2021 — I’d known about Anne Rice and had read several of her books. Fun fact: her house was the former orphanage where one of my aunts lived for a time.
Cartoons I’ve Found
Macanudo Walk it off!
Rhymes With Orange Canadian Antibodies
I’m trying to read more. Back in the early days of the pandemic, I worked my way throughmost of J. A. Jance’s offerings via Hoopla. She’s got two great series (Arizona sheriff Joanna Brady and Seattle cop J. P. Beaumont) that I enjoyed reading and tried to learn from. I also read several from Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series about a small-town Ohio cop in Amish country.
I found myself using Hoopla and Overdrive as much as I could during my pandemic binges, and found a really cool browser plugin to help me keep up with my books. Library Extension will check your local libraries any time you’re looking at a book at Goodreads, Amazon, Abe Books, Audible, and over a dozen other sites. It’s free and works in Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. Input your library card number, and the system lets you reserve the book on the spot. It currently supports about 5,000 libraries and they’re very responsive about adding others as they need to. Check it out at https://www.libraryextension.com.
I also recently unearthed my old Kindle Fire; happily, it still had a charge on it, though I hadn’t used it since pre-Covid days.
Here’s some of what I’ve been reading (these are Amazon affiliate links):
Blue Screen—Robert B Parker. This is Sunny Randall #5 and would probably be Jesse Stone #5.5. Randall is a Boston PI working a detail for an actress and the case leads her to Paradise and Chief Jesse Stone.
Perish Twice—Robert B Parker. Sunny Randall #2. Sunny’s helping three different women: her sister, her best friend, and a client.
Operation Ivy Bells – Robert G Williscroft. I picked this up on my Kindle a while back and just got around to reading it. I was halfway through before I realized it was a novel, not a memoir about a real Cold War spy mission. Ivy Bells was a real mission; this is “just” a novelization about the event.
Under Vanishing Skies – G. S. Fields. A decent post-apocalyptic story about riding out the end of the world in the Maldives.
Choose Me – Tess Gerritson and Gary Braver. A nifty collaboration from two great writers. Taryn Moore is young, beautiful, and brilliant…so why would she kill herself?
Cross Her Heart – Melinda Leigh. The first in the Bree Taggert series, and a great first chapter it is. A Philadelphia homicide cop finds out her sister’s been murdered in rural New York. Oh, and the sheriff’s office that’s investigating is rife with corruption.
The Last Thing She Ever Did – Gregg Olsen. In this psychological thriller, a little boy vanishes in an upscale community along the Deschutes River in Oregon.
One of my Christmas presents was a subscription to a service called Storyworth (affiliate link). It’s basically a guided memoir service. Each week (or month, or whatever), they send you a prompt in the form of a question. You can reply to the email, or log into the site and write your response there. Then at the end of the year, they compile all of your responses into a book. You can add images, and you can edit the entry after you send it, all the way up until the book is printed.
The first one for me was “What were your grandparents like?” That was a tough one because I never really knew them well. My grandfathers died before my parents even knew each other. One grandmother died when I was six and the other when I was 15, but by the time I was old enough to want to know her better, dementia had taken hold.
I like the idea though. I cranked out about 800 words talking about my grandparents, and it didn’t really feel forced. I’m a little behind on the prompts, but because that first one didn’t feel forced, it’s really just a matter of breaking up my writing time a little better.
Speaking of writing, I have a guest post up at Donnell Bell’s blog as part of her Help From my Friends Friday series. I talked about genealogy, unintentionally following the topic that the previous week’s writer had chosen. Check it out here. Donnell and I co-moderate a writer’s research email list, and she was kind enough to invite me to guest post when I announced the release of Discoveries. Guest posting is the kind of self-promotion that helps build blog traffic, and it’s highly recommended, and I should do more of it. But it also means writing to a deadline and increasing my writing production, which are both reasons I have trouble committing to it.
I should work on that.
One of my other Christmas gifts was a World Explorer membership to Ancestry. This is the big one with access to all of their records across the world, and I’ve wanted one for a while. I’ve gotten to the point in a lot of my research where it’s going to be helpful to check overseas records. My wife and kids went in together on it and it really touched me. Not going to lie: I teared up when I read the card. Genealogy can be a very solitary hobby because oftentimes your family (especially the younger ones) doesn’t really get it. They don’t understand why it’s so important to you. But for them to do this to help with my research tells me that even if they don’t understand why I’m doing it, they know it’s important to me.
I’m finalizing the edits on In Plain Sight. I’ll probably commission the cover by the end of February and release it by this summer. I’ve finally learned to not commit to a release date until I really know what I’m doing so “Summer” will have to do. Then after that, it’ll be time for a deep dive into all things Oklahoma. I need to read up on history and start learning more about how they do the cop stuff down here.
I’ll be at Writer’s Police Academy the first week in June. It’ll be good to meet with other writers for the first time in a long while.
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