Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Semiannual Reading Review

 Every six months I post a summary of my reading for the year. My original goal for 2021 was to read 125 books, but I'm doing so well I decided to increase it to 150 books. Currently (as of Sunday, when I'm writing this post for the week), I've completed 87 books. I might read 88 or even 89 before this post goes live. You can see my complete list of books here on Goodreads. I don't always add books to Goodreads when I start them, so those dates are often left blank. Completion dates are generally complete and accurate. Here's the breakdown by genre:

Science Fiction: 9

Fantasy: 18

Mystery: 43

Other Fiction; 3

Non-Fiction: 14


The bulk of my reading so far this year has been mystery, most of them cozy mystery. (Some cozy mysteries feature paranormal or fantasy elements like witches, vampires, or psychics, but I only list books in one genre to avoid confusion.) Cozy mysteries tend to short (some are less than 200 pages) and fast-paced, so I can read through them very quickly. I'm reading a lot of them to help me with my current project. That said, my favorite books so far this year are The House that Walked Between Worlds and The Dictionary of Lost Words. They are fantasy and other fiction respectively.

What are your favorite genres or books so far this year? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Three Stories Within a Mystery

One of the online courses I took about writing cozy mysteries talked about the three stories within a mystery: the story of the crime (how it happened and the backstory), the story of discovery (how the detective figures out what happened), and the prevailing circumstances (the environment in which the story takes place, such as a special event or location). I lump any side-plots, such as the detective's personal problems, into the prevailing circumstances. What I've noticed is that I find some stories, such as the prevailing circumstances, easier to plot (or pants, since I tend to be more of a pantser than a plotter) than the crime story or discovery story. I can actually work out the story of the crime in advance, but plotting the discovery story feels less natural to me. For me, it seems that a lot of the clues my detective has to discover depend on context, which I often don't know until I'm writing it. It's probably due to a combination of me being a pantser and my inexperience with this genre.

Can you think of any other genre that depends on weaving different types of stories together? If so, feel free to discuss it in the comments.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Mid-Month Mysteries: Pride

 With June being Pride Month, I thought it would be interesting to look at cozy mysteries that feature LBGTIA protagonists. I wasn't sure how many I'd find, but here are two lists on Goodreads and a cozy mystery author's blog that fit the bill. Unfortunately, I haven't read any of the books, but Posted to Death and Cosplay Killer look particularly interesting to me. 

I recently read Queer and Cozy Mysteries, a collection of three short mysteries featuring a mother and teenage daughter who are both lesbians, a transgender caregiver who investigates a case of blackmail, and a family that puts on a drag queen show every Thanksgiving. I liked the second story the best.

The protagonist of my Murder Lake Mysteries is straight, but secondary characters include the couple Allen and Ben, who run the coffeehouse/bookstore Beans and Books. A transgender couple will be moving in in the sequel. Hopefully I can do them justice.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Summer Plans?

My son has officially finished middle school and growing more independent by the day. He received his second vaccine dose last week and will be fully vaccinated by the end of next week. Since my husband and I are already fully vaccinated, we'll be able to do more this summer than we did last year. Unfortunately, I have to prepare for an unannounced audit this fall (it'll happen sometime between late August and late October, but we won't know the exact date until the auditor arrives), so I won't be able to take much time off for a vacation. It may be possible to do something in early August, but nothing is definite. At least we should be able to visit more museums, get together with friends, and attend the Renaissance Fair in Wisconsin this year. 

There are various things we need to maintain around the house. My husband and son might paint a couple of rooms, and I'd love to hold a garage sale and clean out the basement. I've been wanting to do that for years, so we'll see if we make it happen this time.

I tend not to read so much in the summer (I walk outside instead of reading on the treadmill), but I've got a very good start on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I'll discuss it at the end of the month.  

My main writing goal for the summer is to finish the first draft of Restaurants and Revenge, which is currently over 40,000 words. I need to get feedback from my beta readers, revise Murder at Magic Lake, and acquire a cover so I can publish it this fall. I'd also like to finish Jenna's story for The Seasons Between, the next collection of Season Avatars stories.

No matter what I ultimately end up doing, it'll be a busy summer for me. Do you have summer projects or plans to relax? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

IWSG-Time Away From Stories


Can you believe summer's almost here? This is my son's last week of middle school, and he'll have his graduation ceremony next Monday evening. It must be June, time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Learn more about the IWSG on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

Our hosts for this month are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria.

Here's our question for June: For how long do you shelve your first draft before reading it and re-drafting it? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?


While writing experience has helped me finish stories in fewer drafts, there are other factors that matter more when I take time away from stories between drafts. The main factors are any other projects I'm currently juggling, the length of the story, and any deadlines I'm trying to meet. For novels, I normally take four to six weeks off between drafting and revising, while short stories might be a week (maybe less if I need to meet a contest deadline). However, I'm slowly working on a collection of short stories in the Season Avatars universe, and I won't revise any of them until all the stories are done. (I've only completed one story so far out of four or five.) 

How long do you let your stories breathe? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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