My March Reads

tomato_seedling_lgIf you’re a little behind on your start to 2015, call yourself a Roman and don’t worry about it. The early Romans considered March 1st the first day of the New Year. It was only when things changed to the Gregorian calendar that January was given the honor. Personally, March feels like a fresh start given that I’m cleaning out the greenhouse, pulling out the seed flats, planting tomatoes and sweet peas and herbs.  I’m also mulling a new writing project since I’m in the final stages of a YA that’s been on my plate for quite a while. New beginnings are everywhere.

But when I’m not writing or seeding, I’m reading. Here’s what I’m dipping into this month:

At the gym: King Peggy, An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Nation by Peggielene Bartels

On the Kindle: A Cry From the Deep by Diana Stevan

By the bed: A Long Time Gone by Karen White

Books read to date 2015:   16


My July Reads

guyWith one notable exception, I’ve been binging on non-fiction books lately.  Part of it is due to the fact that I’m in a transitional phase in my current manuscript and can’t afford to distract myself with another novel (that’s polite speak for the thing is a red hot mess and I need to sort it out).  But along with that, the book I’m writing, One Good Deed, seems to require it. Or maybe I require it.  One of the characters is a homeless man who has spent the better part of two decades alone. At least he appears to be homeless in the opening few scenes. But he has hidden depths and a secret life that comes to light as the story progresses.  So I’ve found myself drawn to introspective books over the last while. The one exception is a series of novels by Karen Robards featuring Dr. Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Stone, a psychiatrist who also sees dead people.   They’re fast paced and fun, just what I need to power through a session on the elliptical.

What I’m Reading:

On the Patio: Solitude; Seeking Wisdom in Extremes by Robert Kull

At the Gym: The Last Kiss Goodbye by Karen Robards

On the Kindle: A Journey of Days; Relearning Life’s Lessons on the Camino de Santiago by Guy Thatcher

Books read to date in 2014:  46

My March Reads

1888860_10151992389321295_1814062724_oIt doesn’t happen often, but yes, we do get snow on Vancouver Island.  Ironically, the last couple of times we’ve had any real accumulation, it’s been near the end of February when the snowdrops are in full bloom.  This time was no different. As well as snowdrops, the buds on my plum trees were swollen and pink, just days from opening, and the crocuses were poking out of the ground too.  I was downtown when the flurries started and some of the tourists arriving from south of the border grumbled and shivered as they waited in line for cabs.  This is nothing, I wanted to tell them. You should see what the poor souls in Winnipeg are dealing with. Out there, the ground is so frozen city officials are telling residents it might be June before it’s completely thawed.  But it was too chilly to talk. So I pulled on my toque, whipped out my gloves and picked up my pace. Once my downtown business was done, I had important things waiting at home: Team Sheltie wanted to romp in the snow. I had a fire to build. And I had books waiting to be read.

Beside the Bed: The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch

On the Kindle: Love in a Pawn Shop by Bonnie Edwards

At the Gym: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Books Read to Date 2014: 22

A Most Bookish New Year

dogswindow.jgpActually, it was a bookish Christmas at our house. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. I tend to give – and receive – books for Christmas. I scored big-time this year with new titles by Kristan Higgins, Lisa Gardner, Jodi Picoult, and Anne Lamott. Once Christmas was over (and it was a doozy this year with two very sick dogs,though they were well enough to watch out the window as the company left), I settled in to read.  It occurred to me that I should set myself an annual reading goal – say two books a week, which is an easy target for me.  Ultimately I decided against it. I’m stretching myself with some extra writing goals this year. Reading is my reward; I don’t want to turn it into a ‘should.’  Having said that, I am going to track the number of books I read over the next twelve months. I’m curious to see if I read as much as I think I do. Here’s what I’m reading right now:

At the Gym:

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Beside the Bed:

The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

On the Kindle:

Man For Grace by EC Sheedy

Books read to date 2014:  4

My November Reads


Into_the_Sunset_by_AK49BWLWe set the clocks back this past weekend. While some people don’t like to see the darkness settling in earlier, I do.  For one thing, I’m a morning person and I like waking up to brighter skies.  For another, if it’s dark outside I’m not tempted to work in the garden. Instead, I’m happy to curl up in my favorite chair and read a good book after dinner. Here’s what I’m reading right now:


At the gym: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

On the Kindle: In the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel

Beside the bed: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology by Jenna Miscavige Hill

What I’m Reading

P1000623I’m dreaming of the beach this month. Most years we’re there by now, staying in a rundown cottage with a million dollar view, and reveling in fresh seafood, long bike rides and excellent books. We missed the reservation window this year, but with a little luck we may get there for a few days in late August. Even if we don’t, I’m at the beach just about every day in my mind. The new book I’m starting is set in a Pacific Northwest beach town. I see the place as a cross between Port Townsend, Washington and Whiterock, B.C.  So while I may not be at the beach physically, every morning when I come down to my office, I can almost smell the tang of the salty air and practically see an eagle perched on a nearby tree top.

And when I finish for the day, I have some great books waiting for me.

On the Kindle – The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

At the Gym – This Is Not The Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson

Beside the Pond – The Possibility of Dogs by Susannah Charleson







Kindle Love . . . It’s Growing

kindleIt’s gotten off to a slowish start, my relationship with the Kindle. But my affection is growing.

It’s becoming a habit to tuck the Kindle into my purse when I head out for an appointment now, and I almost always reach for it at night when I crawl into bed. The Kindle is lighter than a hardcover and the backlit screen makes reading easy. Sure, there are things I don’t like and probably never will (the small screen – the very thing that makes it easy to hold – means way less type on the page than I’d like; the lack of page numbers; my impatience when I have to scroll back to find the book title or a particular passage – all things I still find easier to do in an actual book) but the Kindle is working its way into my heart and into my life.

What I’m reading this month:

On the Kindle – A Perfect Evil by E.C. Sheedy

At the Gym – Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

Beside the Tub – Paris, A Love Story by Kati Marton

Dear Kindle: No Holiday for You . . .

Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.This week I planned to take my Kindle and run away. I figured every new relationship needs a little alone time. That it’s important to find out how you travel together. How you collectively handle stress. Like do arguments flare if there’s no shade at noon or if the bar runs out of tequila, that kind of thing? I planned to sacrifice a week of my time, pull myself off the couch and take my Kindle to sunnier climes. I figured our fledging relationship needed the test.

Instead my Kindle has to wait for its first plane ride. My mother-in-law had emergency surgery this week. My nurse friend, Julia, called it a ‘big surgery’ – something that’s serious at any age, but especially when you’re 88. So we’ll be staying close to home for a while.

Weeks ago, I loaded my Kindle with some light, perfect-for-the-beach reading material. I may not be beach bound, but light is good, especially when life feels heavy. So here’s what I’m reading this month:

Books on the Kindle for the (postponed) trip:

Do or Di by Eileen Cook
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
The Lear Sisters Trilogy by Julia London

Books beside the bed (when I’m ready for something weightier):

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Miracles Happen by Brian Weiss


The Kindle Has Brought Out My Dark Side . . .

kindleI wasn’t desperate for an ebook reader. I wanted the perfect tablet instead. A tablet featuring E Ink and color, one that was easy to hold and reasonably priced. There’s no such thing. At least not yet. But there are plenty of books coming out in electronic form only, and I couldn’t read them easily. So I bought a Kindle Paperwhite.

It does the job. The lighting is terrific; it’s easy to hold. I never run out of reading material, and I don’t have to remember to take a book when I know I’ll be waiting somewhere. It’ll be great the next time I travel.

Friends said owning an e reader would change my reading habits, that I’d never buy physical books again. I don’t think so. A hardcover sits perfectly on the elliptical at the gym and I prefer a paperback in the tub. Plus, what would a cookbook be without those luscious, glossy pictures?

But the Kindle has done something. It’s brought out my dark side (And I’m not talking about how much I’ve spent in the Amazon store, though that certainly has its dark side). No, the Kindle has made me an impatient, stingy reader.

When it comes to physical books, I’m generous about giving a writer time to draw me in. I’ll read quite a long way before giving up on a story. I figure even a poorly crafted book teaches me something. With rare exceptions – that exception being a book that sucks so totally my eyes cross as I read – I pretty much finish everything I start.

Not on the Kindle.  That screen is small. I read fast. If I’m not drawn in with a few swipes of my finger, I get cranky. My mind starts to wander. And if I’m not completely hooked in those first five or six pages (probably the equivalent of one or two pages in a physical book), then I’m hitting delete.

At first I felt guilty. Then I got worried. Maybe I had an arrested case of ADD. Or something worse. Maybe I needed to see my doctor  (I don’t; the Kindle Paperwhite lets you google Web MD).

What I have instead is a new relationship. My Kindle and I need to get used to each other. Maybe my dark side will recede. Maybe I’ll become more generous and patient and revert to my old reading patterns. Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, this dark, guilty business has reminded me of the importance of craft. The critical need for smooth, clear, and irresistible story openings. Openings so compelling the reader can’t stop reading. I’m not the only Kindle user out there. And I may not be the only impatient one.

What I’m reading this month:

On the Kindle – Angelfall by Susan Ee

At the Gym – Stay by Allie Larkin

Beside the Tub – Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott