Category Archives: what I’m reading

TBR Challenge: Candy Apple Red

Wow. Looks like my last several blogposts have all been about the TBR challenge. Between the new grandbaby, and getting my dad settled in the nursing home, and finding all their paperwork to get sent off to the accountants for taxes, and then fighting off the bronchitis from !*@&#!, I haven’t posted anything here, have I?

But I’ve been good. I realized the challenge was coming up, and went to my TBR shelves to see what I was in the mood to read. See, I didn’t list any books as “intending to read” for the challenge. What I want to read depends on my mood, and if I’m not in the right mood, I can’t get through things I might have had on my list. So, I just perused my shelves (and moved a lot of stuff around), and picked out CANDY APPLE RED by Nancy Bush.

So. The book is a September 2006 release from Kensington, book #1 in the Jane Kelly series.

Why was it on my TBR shelf? Because I got it free from an RWA conference, I think. 2006 was several years ago, and my mind does well to remember what I was doing last week. I’m pretty sure I brought it home because I thought I’d probably enjoy reading it, stuck it on the shelf, and never got much farther. Sigh.

It IS by a new-to-me author, which was the suggestion for March, so I succeeded there. It’s not really a romance.

The Review: There’s a blurb on the front cover from Lisa Jackson that says “Move over Stephanie Plum, Jane Kelly has arrived.”   This to me would intimate that the book is slapstick funny, with lots of quirky characters and things blowing up. It’s not. It’s a pretty good read, but it’s not slapstick. It’s your basic cozy mystery with relationship issues and a single-gal protagonist.

Jane Kelly is what her married accountant friend Billy calls a “hatchery fish.” Someone who takes the easy route, rather than struggling upstream. She moved to Portland, OR, following a man, and just sort of stayed when he moved on. She works as a process server, and does a bit of research for a private investigator. (She does get “treed” by a mean dog on top of her car and has to call her friend for a rescue, but her friend is not a Lula-type. She has more sense than Jane.) She’s slightly attracted to the PI, but doesn’t want to be. She’s still hung up on the guy who moved on, Murphy.

There’s an old mystery at the heart of all this. Murphy’s best friend Bobby was accused of murdering his entire family–wife and 3 kids–and vanishing, several years ago. It’s why Murphy left town–he didn’t want to believe it. The cops think Bobby’s parents–rich and divorced–have been supporting him. But now Bobby’s Mom wants Jane to use her connection with Murphy to talk to Bobby’s Dad and find out where he–Bobby–is. Jane doesn’t want to. She wants to be over Murphy. Then Bobby turns up drowned in the lake.

This story has a lot of threads and a lot of subtext. It’s complicated–and it’s not. The thing about mystery stories–most of the story is about the character’s everyday life, with, admittedly, lots of going here to talk to this person and there to sneak around that person’s house. In this story, there was a lot of riding in boats to go drink at a restaurant on a lake, or going to eat at this other restaurant. There were a lot of clothes. Jane claimed not to care much about what she wore, but Nancy Bush spent a lot of time describing what she wore. There was a fair bit of mayhem. Bush did a good job hiding the identity of the murderer. It was a fairly interesting mystery.

I’m trying to come up with my main impression of the book, and maybe what I see as the main difference between this one and others of a similar type that I’ve enjoyed more. And I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but…it felt like something was missing. It didn’t have the brash voice of an Evanovich book, but I like a lot of series that don’t. It felt… Dry. (For all the tootling around on–and in–the lake Jane did.) I know it’s not a romance, or even romantic suspense, but the heart didn’t seem to be in it. Her lingering obsession with Murphy seemed a tad academic, and her attraction to Dwayne (her boss PI) seemed to appear only when Bush needed it to. The emotion was played so far down, it felt dry.

So over all, it was an interesting read, it kept my attention all the way through to the end, without me yelling at the book for info dumping or researchitis or anything. But I don’t know if I’m going to go out of my way to read any more by this author. This one’s going to fall somewhere between “I liked it” and “It was okay.”

I have drugs for the bronchitis. I sure hope they kick this stuff on its butt soon! I’m tired of feeling like crap.

Summer Crazy Season

Yes, it has started. The Summer Crazy Season. It begins with graduations, so for us, it started this past Saturday when we went to watch one of the nephews graduate. That meant a trip to Fort Worth, then sitting outdoors (fortunately, the ceremony was in the morning before it got Really Hot and under a tent, so there was less threat of sunburn) for a couple of hours, then off to a family party and much eating of barbecue and shrimps and cake. This is not particularly crazy, but it did involve driving long distances and sitting outside in the heat (they had little cardboard fans on sticks with a photo of the graduating class to stir the air) and lots of very loud children. We have pictures of the grandboys to post–but I don’t think they’re uploaded yet.

But no, the craziness does not end there, because the very next day, we had to go load up the boy–who is not so boyish any more–and move his stuff to storage, then move the rest of his stuff, and the granddog, home for the summer. This meant lots of climbing up and down stairs and vacuuming and re-packing of overstuffed boxes. (He didn’t inherit the packing gene which his father and sister have…That’s my boy…) And then driving again.

We had a party/potluck barbecue Monday night I made a bushel of potato salad for. (Other families don’t eat potato salad like mine does. Five pounds of potatoes is only the beginning–and if the other folks at the pot luck don’t eat much, all the better. They can have it for breakfast.) (Yes. Breakfast.) Also made the flour-free peanutbutter cookies, AKA the easiest cookies ever.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent trying to get the boy’s internet up and running. I have internet. We’re just trying to branch it off the main modem for him. The router we used in the Panhandle is refusing to work. You can only buy wireless routers now–though the one we got does have wire hookups for four computers, plus the wireless thing. But it’s extremely slow when it does work. So I think he’s taking it back and picking up another one. (Things are beginning to feel expensive.)

I did use the trip to the mainland to pick up the router as an excuse to stop off at the mall Waldenbooks and snabble up a copy of Blood Noir. I read it too. I’ll wait a day or two before I go through it again and make sure I caught everything. I also bought a bunch of new romances because, hey–Waldenbooks has a “buy 4 get 5th free” thing, and I’d already picked up 3 of them. So I got 5 in all. The new Quinn, the new Layton, the new Chase, an Elizabeth Bevarly and … one other I can’t remember right now.

Let’s see–this coming weekend, we have company coming. Tomorrow. The next weekend, a niece is graduating and we’re going up for that. Then there’s stuff during the week. Oh, and it’s time to get ready for hurricane season on top of everything else. We live on a Gulf coast barrier island, so this is not something to ignore. So we have to put together a couple of hurricane kits–one for evacuation and one for riding it out in place (for the Category 1-2 size hurricanes).

Then I think we’re here for a weekend, and then it starts again. Ack!

All of this makes it very hard to get much writing done. I’m creeping along this week at about 3 pages a day–on the days I get there. Friday will be hopeless this week. I just have to keep plugging.

A new project

Okay, so I have this new project. Has nothing to do with writing (still working on getting New Blood ready to revise), but since we need to get the house ready to sell, I decided to finally get started on this project.

Our front bathroom looks out over the front porch through a round window. It’s set pretty high, so it probably doesn’t necessarily have to have a curtain, but it had a sheer gathered thing on a metal ring with silk flowers pinned to the “button” in the center. Hadn’t been touched in at least 20 years, so the flowers were faded to icky dun brown, and because the curtain was nailed to the wall, it obviously hadn’t ever been washed, so it was really dusty and spider-webby and stuff. I bought fabric several months ago but just stuck it in my sewing cabinet and let it sit.

Until last week. I got the fella to pull the tacks/staples/nails out of the wall and take the thing down, and I disassembled the curtain, cut it apart to use for a pattern to make a new curtain. My fabric is sheer, with a faint tan pattern on it, so I’ll leave the original cream-colored stuff on the button things and just cover them with the new fabric. (Have to clean them off first, I guess.) I’m just taking things a tiny step at a time. It took me two days to sew the hem all the way around the whole thing. Now I need to sew in the channel for the metal ring. Then zig-zag the inside edges so they won’t ravel when I gather them, then–well, I’m sure you get the idea.

Between the sewing and the typing, my back is killing me. More so from the sewing, because you kinda have to hunch over to see what the machine is doing.

I have a lot of other on-going projects too. I’ll probably have to stick them in totebags and take them with me though. Doubt they’ll get done before the move. The book. The book will get done and revised and printed out and all that. We’ll be lucky if the office gets cleaned up too. :) Y’all have a good weekend. I’m going to go get Laurell K. Hamilton’s new book this evening and stay up late to read it.

Quick Monday Post

Running in quick while dinner is cooking (probably ought to go start the rice in a minute) to get something up here. It’s been a…well, a sorta busy week. I did a lot of sitting around and reading. I re-read a lot of stuff. Re-read Eileen Wilks’ Blood Lines, re-read the 2nd and 3rd “Kitty” books, Kitty Goes To Washington and Kitty Takes a Holiday. I like them better than the 1st book, though I like it okay. But I also had a lot to keep me busy.

Sunday, we had folks over for Sunday dinner, and I cooked on Saturday. Cooked WAY too much roast beef spaghetti…but that’s okay, because it freezes real nice. I need to tear up the last roast and stick it in the freezer. Jan left a pie for us to eat. Fortunately, it’s a kind that the fella can eat, if he doesn’t eat the crust.

Oh, and I tried a new recipe that anyone who likes Southwestern cuisine ought to like. It’s polenta topped with black-eyed peas flavored with cilantro and tomato. I really liked it, and it was easy to make, since I bought packaged polenta. (Had to buy it in “the big city” but it was available there.) Kinda hushpuppy/tamale-ish, and since I like both hushpuppies and tamales, I liked the polenta.

There’s a college music department concert tomorrow night. The community choir got invited to sing along, so I’ve been going to the noon choir rehearsals, and tonight is the dress rehearsal (though we don’t have to dress, just show up and work out all the glitches). There are some fun songs. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge. Wish us luck. It should actually be a good concert. It’s sounding good in practice.

And today I printed out the 1st 3 chapters of New Blood to start revising tomorrow. I won’t be going to town tomorrow, so I ought to be able to get quite a bit done. I hope. I have my notes. Just need to keep hold of all the threads.



Yep. All the way from the very first page to the very last, with more scenes and background info than it needs, that I need to slice out, and not enough emotion which I’ll need to add in. But It Is Done. The bad guys get theirs, the good guys get theirs, and I have all the scenes (and then some) I need. Now I have to type the sucker in.

And it’s going to be too long, as usual. (sigh) But I have already IDed some things I can cut, so that will help. (I don’t need that much exposition…)

Today, I took a break. I put receipts in my accounting program. I worked on my weekly and quarterly goals. (Okay, yeah, I know we’re already into April, and it’s Wednesday, not Monday, but I’ve been busy!) And then I read. Okay, I went to choir practice, except choir practice got cancelled, since the pianist couldn’t be there, so I came home, and then I read.

Whoever it was that recommended Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy, you were right. The books are Fabulous. I have been glomming onto Bishop this week. I ordered Belladonna (I had a coupon, so I bought it in hardback), and the 3-in-1 edition of The Black Jewels. I stayed up all night Saturday reading all three Black Jewels books one after the other. They were so wonderful. So this week, I bought the Dreams book, and another one called The Invisible Ring. Read them both already. Plus one by Vicki Pettersen that was pretty good, and I can’t remember the title right off hand, but it’s a debut novel and just out on the shelves.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work for me. Typing the fingers to the bone. I’ll probably just type in this week, and next week, work on revising the first three chapters again. I think now that I’ve finished the book, it will be easier to get the nuances right.

It’s sorta like the portrait I’m attempting to paint. The tiniest change can make a huge difference. Hopefully, I can get the book right-er than the painting…

Back Around to Friday

I thought of all sorts of things to write about earlier this week, and never got here, and of course, I’ve now forgotten what any of those things were that I wanted to write about. So now, I have to just write about …stuff.

This has been a good week writing. I’m really close to the end of the book–in the middle of the black moment–and got 37 pages written so far, which is really good for me. The fella wants to go to another auction tomorrow, and I have a few things I want to do in Amarillo tomorrow, so I’m going to go with him. I’m going to take the WiP with me, and the contest entries for a contest I’ve agreed to judge, so I’ll be able to get some stuff done while at the auction. I hope.

I’m trying to learn how to do podcasts, so I’ll be able to post some here, but so far I’m having trouble with the microphone. I can’t seem to get it to work. (sigh) So I may go get me a new one. The mike worked with the old computer, but I’m not sure it’s working with the new one. I need a new driver, maybe…

Been reading books too. Discovered a new author I like. I bought Anne Bishop’s Sebastian, and loved it, so I picked up her new one, Belladonna, and it’s really good too. So now I have a 3-in-1 trilogy of hers to read. Maybe I’ll take it tomorrow too. But I really need to work.

Smacked in the Head

Getting smacked in the head sounds painful, but it’s not always bad.

This morning, while I was “snoozing,” waiting for the phone to go off again (I hate lunging across the king-sized bed for the alarm on the other side, so I set my phone), I was smacked in the head by The Perfect First Sentence for a new story. And I had to get up and write it down. I wrote for 30 minutes, and got 2 pages. I just love it when that happens. :)

I’ll have to make some notes and figure out further plot and stuff, but the idea’s been churning around in my subconscious for the past 3 months while I’ve been working on finishing New Blood, so it’s not hitting me cold…the hero of the new book is a secondary character in New Blood. So I’ve got him characterized, pretty much. (I originally cast Ralph Fiennes as this character, but he sorta morphed into Johnny Depp–more as he was in The Libertine than as Jack Sparrow…) I’m using the subplot I excised from NB as the main plot of the new hero’s book. I just have to learn exactly who the heroine is, and what sort of magic she’s best suited for. OH, and I came up with what I think is the perfect title. The new hero is a conjurer who works spirit magic, like the heroine in New Blood is a sorceress who works blood magic, so the new title is OLD SPIRITS. Yeah, I guess I’m excited a little bit…

I spent the day selling sausage wraps and breakfast burritos to the 2400 competitors (from 6th through 12th grade) in the judging contest the local community college sponsors. The Friends of the Library went to serve breakfast–and lunch. I ate one of each for my lunch. Yum. I had to get all my marshmallow treats for the sale made yesterday, so I could go with the fella to the estate auction in Amarillo.

The really good stuff was going up under the hammer today, so I didn’t get the cool shamrock teapot or any of the neat things–last night they were just selling the box lots. My job is to say “Oooh, that looks cool, let’s bid on that” and then sit in the chair and read my book and not look like I’m bidding. Last night, I read Her Perfect Life by Vicki Hinze–a FANTABULOUS book, and one of the Rita finalists. I’d already picked it up, and was meaning to read it when the Rita nominations came out, so that just made me read it sooner. Loved it.

We bought a box of copper stuff, and a box of boxes (mostly jewelry boxes, but there was a Silver Jubilee biscuit tin from 1935 and a really weird rawhide earring tree thing, and a cool inlaid mosaic-type box that was the one I really wanted for me), and three boxes of books that had Tarot decks in them. I read Tarot, so I wanted the boxes with the decks. And the one with Hopi legends–there was a lot of New Age-y stuff that will be good for research, and some Santa Fe art catalogs. Oh, and we got a couple of rolling file cabinet things for $10 each. Not bad. No idea where we’ll put the file box things, but… I have stuff to fill them up. And then I got to eat dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. It’s really noisy, but we like the food.

Books, Books, Books

I came home Sunday evening from the 80th birthday party weekend for the fella’s dad and looked at the letter included in the second panel of Rita contest books I agreed to read…and discovered that I had until Wednesday (IOW, today) to read them all. Seven of them. By today.

Fortunately, none of them were massive tomes, so I was able to get through them fairly quickly. But I have been reading madly since Sunday evening. I read two Sunday night, two on Monday, one yesterday, and the last two today. And yes, I read them with full comprehension and can tell you what each of them was about. But I’m not going to because they are contest entries, and it’s a secret.

I think I’m kind of taking this week off from the writing, which is risky, because I really want to finish the book by the end of the month. So I’m typing it in instead, and doing my first edit/revision. I’d like to get 50-60 pages in by Friday. I’m heading to Waco fairly early on Friday, for the workshop I’m doing (finished it today) and the booksigning at Books-a-Million.

Oh yeah, I’m doing a book signing at Books-a-Million in Waco on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. Hope it goes well. I’ve done absolutely no PR for it, but one of the other ladies participating has done quite a bit. So…

I’m ready to be home for a while. We’ve been gone the last two weekends, and the fella’s been gone for at least a couple of nights during the week for the past month.

I got an envelope from the agent with suggestings & critique about the last couple of things I’ve sent her, and now I’m going through the thinking part of my response. It takes me a while to think about what people suggest/say about my writing, whether it’s a critique partner, an agent, an editor, or whoever. Most of the time, what they ask about is something I’m aware of, and thought I had in there, but it’s obviously not clear, or not clear enough. So now I have to figure out how to make it clear.

And I have discovered that I really don’t like a lot of description in the books I read (and thus in the books I write). Sometimes I want to know about the clothes, but not every single stinkin’ time, and not in any great massive detail. Nor do I want to know about the furniture or the architecture, in great detail, which is why it’s hard for me to put in enough to suit other people. That happy medium is hard to find.

Anyway, I’m here. I’m heading off again. (The workshop is on The Plotter/Pantser Hybrid, or, Whatever Works for You is Right.) And I’ll be back again on Sunday, hopefully without a big stack of books I have to read in a hurry. (Though I still have one to read for a different contest, but I have till April on that one…which is good, because it is a massive tome…)

Dadgum! It’s COLD!!!

I was going to do a blog about Maureen Dowd and her cluelessness, but I’ve never been able to read Dowd anyway (Oh, how I miss Molly Ivins! She’s the only one who really ever got Texas politics) and we all know she needs a great big giant clue, so forget about her. I just want to get WARM.

We finally got the snow/ice melted off our back patio, and it decides to snow again. And get really, really cold. It’s gotten warm enough to melt some of it off, especially off the streets, so I haven’t had to do the 4-wheel drive thing, but it only stays that warm till for about 15 minutes, then gets cold again. Ugh. This time last year, my tulips were coming up. It snowed all morning yesterday, and most of the morning today. Good writing weather.

I actually got 7 pages written today, the most all week, but still not as many as I wanted. I may reach Paris soon. In fact, I’m hoping to get everyone there tomorrow. Cross your fingers.

I should have re-potted my plants this afternoon–I bought the potting soil so I could do it–but didn’t get there. I went to the college basketball games, but missed the end of the women’s game and the beginning of the men’s because I went to community choir. All ladies tonight, but at least there was more than me and the director this time. (I forgot completely last week…) It was fun to sing, but I rusted the voice out doing it and didn’t cheer at the ball game at all. I clapped really loud, tho.

Just agreed to write an article for the Published Authors RWA chapter website. Got to do that by Monday. Now, if I can get any revisions for Eternal Rose from my editor, I may have my ducks in a row.

Um–another painting. I think I finished this one last August or September. I painted it from this photo I took.

Let’s see…I went on a reading binge earlier this week. I read Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs, Let There Be Suspects by Emilie Richards (a cute mystery with a minister’s wife heroine), Catching Stanley by Deirdre Martin (hockey playing hero, neurotically shy dog trainer heroine), Howling Moon by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, (hero’s a werewolf, heroine’s a shapshifting jaguar with a serial killer jaguar after her), and Maelstrom by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon (living planet that’s evolving the people and beings living on it). Hmm. No wonder I’m not getting much written this week. Reading too much…

Slow weekend

It’s been a really slow weekend. We talked about getting tickets for the Sousa concert at the Amarillo Symphony, but when the fella had trouble getting home from Austin, it’s just as well we didn’t. Amarillo was socked in with fog and freezing drizzle most of the morning and early afternoon. He’s been spending a lot of time in Austin, because the Texas legislature is meeting. They only meet for a few months every other year and all the business has to be done very quickly–the theory was that if they didn’t meet too often, they couldn’t cause too much trouble–and being in the junior college business, the fella feels the need to be present to make sure the gummint doesn’t forget to fund the colleges. (They only pay for about 1/3 of the cost of running them, right now…but this isn’t a government or educational blog).) Anyway, it means that for the next several months, he’ll be in Austin almost as much as he’s at home. And it’s nice when he comes home again. :)

We spent the weekend just hanging out. We watched a couple of the movies I rented to watch while he was gone, and didn’t watch at all. I read a book. We changed lightbulbs–this is a complicated process that involves getting out a ladder (high ceilings) and lots of cussing, so we tend to let a lot of lightbulbs burn out before we go round changing them. And okay, he does most of the work. I stand by ready to catch him in case the ladder wobbles, and throw away the old lightbulbs. But we replaced three of the four bulbs in the den, two of the three lights in the spare room, the light in the laundry room, one of the bathroom lights and… surely there was another one–oh yeah, one of the 4 bulbs on the ceiling fan fixture in our bedroom. (Told ya we wait till we’re fumbling in the dark.) We can see again! (I really like the fluorescent fixtures in the bathrooms…)

I’m going to have to start going to basketball games with him again soon–except this week, it’s on Thursday, which is choir night–okay, I completely forgot to go to the community choir this past week, but the fella was out of town, and it’s harder to remember stuff when I don’t have any schedule at all to keep… Anyway, I can go to the ball game, then sneak out for choir practice, then sneak back for the rest of the guys’ game.

I’ve made an emergency hair cut appointment for tomorrow afternoon. I need to make myself a big sign to put on my desk so I don’t forget to go. We’re getting a family picture made early Tuesday morning, and my hair has reached that icky in-between too-long-to-be-short and too-short-to-be-long stage, where some of it wants to flip out, some of it wants to flip under, and some of it sorta wants to go sideways…(No I do not have photos!) and no way am I having my picture made with in-between hair…

I need to write a “alumnus success story” article for Gwen Shuster-Haynes’ marketing workshop. I’m not sure it got me to doing more things that what I was already doing, but I feel better about the things I’m accomplishing, and I think I’m focused better.

Okay. This weekend, I watched Sixteen Blocks with Bruce Willis (liked it), and Mrs. Henderson Presents with Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. I also read Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Tongue in Chic by Christina Dodd. (Dodd’s title doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the story, but it’s cute, and I liked the book. I liked both books, actually.)

Back to work in the a.m.