Posted in For the Aspiring Writer, This Writer's Life

Twitch Writing Community

Did you know that Twitch has a tight-knit writing community?

Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

I had no idea until just recently and I’ve been watching my favorite gamers stream on the platform for years.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an online article written by author and streamer Scott Wilson on the Writers Digest website that discussed how writers were using Twitch to connect with fans and other authors. It was eye-opening to see how many creative types used the platform that has, thus far, been the major hub for video game players.

Intrigued, I followed the links provided and introduced myself to several writers listed in the article.

Streaming… Get it? Photo by Photography Maghradze PH on Pexels.com

The first stream I landed on was RabenWrites, a writer who was quick to engage me in the chat feature Twitch offers. I found out that the TWC (Twitch Writing Community) is happy to encourage others who wish to stream and not at all standoffish like I expected. RabenWrites, with his dulcet tones reminiscent of a young Bob Ross, answered my questions with grace, all the while mapping out his current writing project onscreen for my viewing pleasure.

I decided to give it a go and jumped headfirst into the streaming process. With my four-year old headset and ancient webcam, I set up a stream via Streamlabs OBS and went live. I shook the whole time, checking my viewer numbers with trepidation every few seconds and didn’t get much writing completed at all.

An hour into my stream, I was raided by AuthorBrianLou who flew into my stream with his paper-airplane wielding crew. My nerves went though the roof! I went from 1 viewer (my husband) to 11 and all were offering words of encouragement in my chat. It was exhilarating and from that moment on, I was hooked.

In the last few weeks, Brian has supported my attempts at streaming with thoughts on how to get my software communicating properly and ideas on how to push my performance anxiety out the window. I have never found another community who was so quick to embrace others in all my 40 years.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Other quality streamers I’ve found are TravisTavernTalk, BrenNailedIt, CoffeeQuills, and AshleyBPedigo, along with a myriad of others. They each have a different style and offer varying points of interest to the craft. If you are a writer and enjoy conversing with other creatives, please look these folks up. You won’t be disappointed.

Of course if you’d like to check out my stream and giggle at my learning curve, please do. If you get there by way of this article, I implore you to comment and introduce yourself. Even if you are nervous to make yourself known, I’d love to meet you–even if it’s via keyboard.

Happy Writing, fellow creatives!

Posted in This Writer's Life

Texans vs Snow

As I sit here at my computer, nestled deep in a fuzzy robe and enjoying a piping-hot cup of coffee, I think back on the past five days with not a small amount of stress.

I’m a Houston native, therefore, I’m not used to copious amounts of snow and ice sticking around for almost a week outside of our brick home. I’m definitely not prepared to drive my vehicle on a skating rink and with days of freezing rain, snow, and plummeting temperatures, that’s exactly what our roadways were.

Two days after the snow fell in Houston… It just wouldn’t go away.

We Houstonians are a tough people, combating hurricanes, 100+ degree months during the summer, and mosquitos the size of pumpkins. Give us a week of ice, no electricity, freezing homes, and no water, and we turn feral.

Yesterday, as I listened to my kiddos whine about eating soup and crackers for the fifth day in a row, I almost pulled an Annie Wilkes. Although I doubt I could have made it to the garage to find an axe or a typewriter with a broken “N” key. Ice is slippery, mmkay?

Dinner by candlelight – Day Five of Snowpocalypse 2021

Last night, after a meal of votive-heated soup, we’d just dozed off in front of the gas fireplace when <<TRUMPETS FROM HEAVEN>> the power came back on. We checked the thermostat in the house (it was 46 degrees inside), started coffee (at 10:00pm at night), and rolled our eyes when the kids demanded the lights be turned off so they could continue to sleep beneath their mound of blankets.

The kids in their makeshift, dining-room beds.

This morning, after waking up to a significantly warmer house, I checked my Etsy shop and found 32 orders that I’d missed in the past few days. I made short work of those and got a load of laundry taken care of. I retrieved our refrigerator groceries from the front porch only to find the Tupperware full of chicken tortilla soup I’d concocted before the power went out had been broken into by a furry, overnight bandit. (I’d forgotten that raccoons were a thing.)

For those of you that don’t live in the Gulf Coast region, a few days ago, our power grid went bananas and the plants that generate power for Houston and the surrounding areas couldn’t handle the temperatures and ice. They shut down. Our home, located northeast of Houston, battled an exterior temperature of 8 degrees without power at the lowest point. Builders here don’t insulate our homes like they do in the North. Our homes are built to be breathable in order to combat the insane heat we face 9 months out of 12.

I’m 100% convinced the kids will never ask for soup again.

We have an electric stove and oven in our home, so without power, we were hard-pressed to get our hands on warm food and drinks. Before the Snowpocalypse 2021, I made sure to have charcoal and wood on hand just in case we lost power for a few hours, thinking we could grill food outside like we do after a hurricane. Y’all, even standing by our single-pane windows with the temperatures that low was tough. There was no way we were going outside in order to start a fire to make cowboy coffee.

Nothing. I repeat, nothing will stop me from my morning coffee.

We did learn a lot during this time, as a family. I should have had more activities planned for the kids. Leaving them to their own devices was nerve-grating, especially when they were forced to remain in the house for such a long period of time.

Layers of pajama pants and robes will keep you warm, for sure. However, with the low amount of humidity it also creates an insane amount of static electricity and shocking yourself on everything you touch is a scream-inducing occurrence, especially for me. I realized this week that I hate, hate, HATE static electricity.

As I bask in the glow of my computer in order to write this blog, I only hope that the power stays on and those that are still without are restored as quickly as possible. We definitely made memories over the past week and the kids had a blast but as for me, I hope it doesn’t become a winter habit.

After we thought it was all over, it started snowing again today in Wimberley, TX (where my parents live)

I’ll take my high-humidity and sweat-covered tank tops any day.

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer

Letters to my Editor

Per my editor’s request, I’ve compiled several of the messages I’ve sent to her over the past month. She says I’m funny and my readers would enjoy getting inside the head of a writer. My needy tail is still preening from the fact that she describes me as being funny.

01-27-2021

Michelle, I’ve been reading through this manuscript and I’m nervous to send it over to you. Since the last time we spoke I have convinced myself that: (A) I’m not cut out to be a writer, (B) I have no talent, and (C) no one is going to want to read this.

I also had a dream where I had over 1000 one-star reviews on Amazon. That was a fun morning.

Anywho, have fun muddling through this mess and let me know if you need anything further.

01-28-2021

Here it is. I’ve read a billion books and yet, I feel like my structure is off, my major sub-plot is ridiculous and takes over for a chapter or two, and the ending is too fast.

Please, for all that is holy, critique it like you mean it. I don’t need to be coddled, I swear. I just want to produce something of value that will be a good starting point for my writing career.

02-04-2021

Are you there, God? It’s me, Charlene.

02-09-2021

Here’s a quick wave to see how things are going. It’s probably rude to interrupt an editor in the middle of a DE but I’m new so let’s chalk it up to the learning curve.

Trying to sleep these past couple of weeks has been a chore. I’m still picturing myself on the literary version of the Titanic, listening to the violin players and wearing a ratty life vest. 

I hope you have even the slightest vision that this manuscript can go somewhere after we get it all sorted through.

The messages to my friends have been running along these same lines but with more cursing and theatrics. I can imagine that it’s hard being a lifeline to an author who needs to constantly hear that they have what it takes.

My husband bears the brunt of my artistic woes, however. At least once a day he jumps into White Knight mode and talks this princess off of her balustrade. I’ve never felt as unsure of myself as I do now, with the goal of my childhood this close at hand.

Published writers that I follow online say this doubt has always been the trial and tribulation of creation, a normal side-effect from sharing your work with a person holding a red pen. Many of those same authors relay that it doesn’t get much better as time passes, even after being published and accruing merit within the fiction-reading world. The human brain is simply wired to doubt its innate talents and tends to focus on the problems rather than successes.

I’m just over here holding onto the edge of a lifeboat, trying to keep myself afloat as the quartet plays on.

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer

Rejected. (and Rejected.) (and Rejected Again.)

It feels awesome to read the rejection that just hit your inbox, doesn’t it?

No. No, it does not.

But, as the King of Storytelling says, put that rejection on your nail and submit again. (Read On Writing if you haven’t already, mmkay?)

I handle rejections the same way many authors do, I imagine. At first, I assure myself that it’s a normal part of the process to being published. Everyone, even the great writers of our time, have been rejected at some point or another. I’m just paying my dues.

About 30 minutes later, I’ll listen to the inner man inside my brain list each and every one of my creative faults and debate whether or not to join his team and grab an overpriced stadium beer.

This is a hard profession to break into. I get it. Plus, I’m not a great writer. I don’t have an overinflated ego and I’m not in denial. I have a lot to learn and a part of me–a small part– realizes that each rejection helps to turn me into a better wordsmith.

But man, rejection does hurt. It’s not a scalding pain but a lump of dull ache deep inside my belly. It lays there like a ball of dough that won’t digest.

It’s been 12 minutes since I read my latest rejection. I’m approaching the time where the disembodied voice will tell me that my style doesn’t work for most readers. No one will ever want to read something that I create. I should stick to raising babies and dreaming.

I haven’t ever taken advice from anyone before so I figure, why start now?

I’ll look over my submission in a few days and read it with fresh eyes and a clear head. I’ll make changes if needed and look for someone else to critique my art. Then, I’ll start the entire arduous process over again.

Now, however, I’ll put headphones over my ears to drown out that invisible nay-sayer who is sure to make an appearance. I’ll boost my psyche by Googling novels that were rejected before being published. Instead of a beer, I’ll grab my afternoon cup of coffee and lift it up at my desk.

Here’s to you, my fellow unpublished writers. May your acceptance letter come soon.

Posted in Flash Fiction

The Pride of a Guilt-Ridden Mother

“Are they always this perfect?” the woman asked as I sat on the worn wooden park bench, crossing my fingers in hopes that my three-year old wouldn’t fall into the abyss located underneath the playground’s bridge, situated more than 7 feet above the ground.

I didn’t answer because surely this yoga-pants wearing, perfect-bicep-having Stepford Wife wasn’t talking to me. Then I realized that she was, in fact, addressing me.

I gestured towards my children, wide-eyed. “Them?”

She nodded, the sun glinting off designer sunglasses perched upon the crown of her head like angelic rays of light from the Heavens. She was a real-life Suburban princess, no lie. “They’re so sweet to each other.”

I studied my brood, both barreling across the jungle gym then recalled the evening before when my youngest informed the oldest that he hated her and would never play in her room again.

“They have their moments,” I supplied.

She drew up next to me on the bench and sat down. Next to me being about six-feet apart, mind you. We were all doing our best not to freak each other out during this weird, stay-away-from-everyone-but-still-be-congenial thing us Southerners had going on.

“Where’s yours?” I asked and she pointed to the smaller playground off to the right. Her two girls were dressed to the nines, looking like they’d just left a photo-shoot, not elementary school.

“They’re precious,” I said, wishing I’d at least put my daughter’s hair back in a ponytail before releasing her into the wild of the playground. My kids looked feral compared to hers.

We watched in companionable silence for awhile, not knowing each other, yet still aching for the auditory stimulation of another human that wasn’t five years old or below. At least, that’s what was going on in my mind. Pandemics sucked, especially for this stay-at-home-mom.

I grimaced when her older daughter reached back and socked her younger sister with the flat of her hand.

“No, ma’am!” the PTA President next to me shouted and shot to her feet. She marched to the smaller playground to coddle the victim and berate the instigator.

When the tears had dried and all was well again, the woman came back and plopped into the spot she’d vacated moments before.

“It’s a wine night,” she said and reached into her cross-body bag to retrieve a phone. She missed the next smack that came from the 3ft tall terror but the cries that followed jolted her into action once more.

I watched as she hauled both girls off of the playground, speaking in low-tones only they could hear, until they finally reached a huge, pearl-white SUV sparkling near the curb.

As the girls were unceremoniously hoisted into their vehicle, I snuck a peek at my wrinkled pants and bleach-stained t-shirt, wishing I had at least tried to appear like I cared about my appearance.

“You did it, brother!” I heard my oldest call out and watched as her brother cheered from atop a massive climbing rock that typically gave me heart palpitations.

I smiled, my clothing choices for the day forgotten.

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer, Uncategorized

How to Bring Fictional Characters to Life

On the subject of character creation, a majority of writers across the Internet will advise you to start from a blank character sheet. You’ll be instructed to envision the character in your mind to determine what they look like, what they sound like… You’ll need to come up with their age and occupation, as well as hobbies and favorite foods. Finally, you’ll be told to jot down adjectives that describe the character’s nature. Is she kind? Is he honest?

That’s great. It’s important to understand the type of person your character is, but the one thing I can’t fathom is how you’re expected to list out all of these qualities for someone you’ve yet to meet.

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Other writers will tell you that you need to first determine what your character longs for. What will their main character arc be for your short story, novella, novel, etc?

How on Earth can you come close to truly knowing what your character wants without having ever been introduced?

My process for the creation of a character is very much different than the typical advice listed above.

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When the idea for a novel comes, whether it be the dream-like tendril of a soft caress upon my mind or a slam-dunk, freight train of a whopper that hits like lightning, the first thing I do is determine what sex of protagonist I wish to create for this fiction. This helps me to focus my internal camera–just a smidge, mind you–upon the former blob of a character I had just a moment before.

When I’ve determined that, I picture the ordinary world in which my character currently belongs.

For this example, just to make it easier to follow along, I’ll say my novel idea revolves around a commune in the 1970s. The leader of the commune is suave, personable, yet enigmatic. My protagonist will be a fledgling reporter, who has found out a secret about the leader and wants to infiltrate the commune in order to get the story.

In the few seconds it took me to come up with that premise, my mind is already whirling with ideas. Writing about a working-class female, especially in the 70s, would be something I could definitely get on board with. I’d love to explore the gender differences of that time period, as well as use my female character’s wiles in order to go undercover and solve a puzzle.

What do I know about my character at this very moment?

She is a female. She is a reporter. That’s it.

I don’t know her age, her personality, her looks, nada. I don’t know whether or not she works at a large newspaper or for a small-town print.

I would never consider to assign her personality traits at this point. Why? Because we still haven’t met. Don’t worry, I’m about to introduce myself.

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At this point, I’ll open up a new document or pull a fresh sheet of paper from my desk drawer. I bet you think I’m going to start a list, don’t you? No. Lists are for groceries and baseball coaches. We’re writers so… let’s do what we do.

My character is currently sleeping. What happens when her alarm clock goes off? Does she even own an alarm clock? Perhaps she lives out in the middle of absolute nowhere and wakes up when the rooster crows. Her options at this point are limitless.

I begin to write. Flash fiction at it’s finest right here. This is how I breathe life into my character and allow her (or him, or whatever pronoun I’m using) to reveal themselves to me. What happens when she wakes up? Does she make her bed or leave it messy? Is she a shower or a bath girl? What does she eat for breakfast and who does she talk to while she does it? Does she live with anyone or by herself? Why? Does she have a tendency to dally and have to rush to get off to work or does she stick to a self-imposed schedule and make sure she’s at her job on time?

I will continue this piece of prose until I’ve come to the end of her day. Does she creep into her bed clad in risque lingerie or does she flop into the unmade mess, clothes from the day still upon her frame?

This is how I meet my character.

At some point throughout the writing, the hazy blob I had at the beginning will start to focus. Like she’s standing in front of a lens being shifted millimeter by millimeter, her outline will come into view. I’ll realize that she’s a waif of a girl, with long, stringy blond hair reminiscent of the top of a cornstalk. (She is from a rural area but did indeed own an alarm clock with no cock-a-doodling within her hearing range.)

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She is soft-spoken and intelligent. She lives in a boarding house on the outskirts of a medium-sized city. She lives by herself at the young age of 22. Her parents were–and still are–members of a organized cult in Iowa. That is where she grew up. She fled at 16, a victim of sexual abuse and indoctrination, to Wisconsin where she now goes by a false name.

She began her career at the local newspaper as a night-shift janitor. In her spare time, she began to pen the memories of her life within the cult and realized she had an aptitude and love for the written word. She procured her current position by leaving poignant articles covering the town’s current events on the editor’s desk nightly before she left at the end of her shift. (She makes her bed every morning and, at night she climbs in gently, wearing an old t-shirt and loose-fitting shorts, by the way, not a negligee. Also, she has to wear socks at night or she gets too cold. Wisconsin, am I right?)

At this point, I have envisioned how she holds her fork, how she takes her coffee (black, it’s the cheapest), how she gets to work, how she reacts to co-workers, her typical lunch and what she wears as she goes about her day. My character is real to me, not a white sheet of paper on the desk labelled CHARACTER SHEET. I can envision the beginning of her arc but I would never–louder for those in the back, NEVER– lock her into such growth. She has so much more to show me.

You learn who your characters are by writing about them. Allow them to speak to you through your typing (or frantically scribbling) hands. I swear on the Girl Scout Handbook, if you allow your character to find their own voice instead of assigning them one, that character will spit things out you never dreamed of.

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Give your creation–your characters–the ability to make magic. You’re not the puppet master here; picking up strings and dropping them to make your characters move. You’re the stage.

Let them dance as they will.

Posted in For the Aspiring Writer, Uncategorized

A Day in the Life of a Fledgling Author (With Kids!)

How many times do you think I’ve asked myself, “Why didn’t I start writing full-time before I had children?”

Many. Many times.

As it stands, if I try to get any writing done when my little ones are up and about, I’m interrupted several hundred times. An hour. Snacks are the number one request from my tiny army but yesterday, I turned and came face to face with my youngest who was extremely discouraged that a Tide Pod did not taste like it should.

He’s a little bit behind the trend of other fellow Tide Pod eaters but I digress.

I want to use this post to encourage other fledgling authors (with children in tow or not) that you can find the time to write even when you’re being bombarded from all angles.

Let’s take a look back at yesterday, a Saturday, and see how I did.

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5:45am CST – Baby Boy (Age 3) stands next to my bed until I lift an eyelid and jump. He requests that we get him ready for school.

5:48am CST – Baby Girl (Age 5) trudges down the stairs after the cries emanating from her brother wake her out of a sound sleep. He is displeased by the fact that school is closed on Saturdays. I close my bedroom door in hopes that allowing the husband to sleep will guarantee me as a shoe-in for Best Wife Ever once he awakes refreshed and baby-free. Then, I can coerce him into some writing time, ALONE.

6:01am CST – Babies demand a Minecraft show. Age 3 hates Minecraft shows but demands it just the same.

6:02am CST – Age 3 demands anything but a Minecraft show. And a snack. Age 5 jumps on the bandwagon and explains how she will JUST DIE if she doesn’t get a granola bar.

6:05am CST – Granola bars distributed and coffee pot switched to the on position. Booming noises radiate from upstairs. I book it up the steps only to find Age 3 putting on every pair of socks his sister owns. He is also doing this completely naked.

6:06am CST – Explain to Age 3 that he is not a part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band and relinquish one pair of socks to him to wear on his FEET. Stuff him into a fresh pair of drawers, much to his dismay, and march down the stairs again. I march, he jumps. He then slips on the rug at the end of the stairs and finds himself sprawled, spread-eagled on the foyer. Cries ensue. Reminding him that he has a granola bar to eat stops the cries mid-bawl.

6:13am CST – Sit on the couch and review my life choices. At least I have coffee.

7:12am CST – Enjoy the sunrise from my kitchen window and explain to Age 3 that we aren’t supposed to get out of bed until the sun comes up. He takes that as a directive that it is NOW time to go to school and puts his backpack on. More cries ensue after I remind him, once again, it is a weekend.

7:45am CST – Age 5 grabs a drum and wooden spoon and sits outside the master bedroom before deciding that playing a Neil Peart solo is in her best interest. When Dad opens the door, he is in a grumpy mood at her interpretation of an alarm clock. So much for my Best Wife Ever nomination.

7:48am CST – Ply the husband with coffee. He is appeased.

8:01am CST – Sit down at my computer with headphones in place to try and get some writing done. Get distracted by Facebook videos. Spend thirty minutes perusing a murder that occurred in Iowa over 50 years prior. Chalk this up to cozy mystery novel research so I won’t feel guilty.

8:40am CST – Frown into the refrigerator and remind myself to put a grocery list together. Feed kids a mixture of oatmeal, leftover chicken, and goldfish. Their palates are not refined. The meal goes over well.

9:14am CST – Sit back down to write. As soon as my tail hits chair, Age 3 requests a shower in the master bedroom so he can write on the glass walls. Cries when his request is denied. I distract him with a remote-controlled car. Problem solved.

9:15am CST – Realize the noise from said car distracts me as well and any hopes of writing are dashed for the time being. The pile of laundry on my dining room table screams out to be sorted (and its voice is almost hoarse because it’s been screaming for three days). Hang up laundry.

10:31am CST – Determine that my author website needs a new page for my nom de plume, Charlee Chance. Spend time crafting a half-assed page just so SEO will start logging on Google. Envision what I would do if someone snatched up the website for her name and gasp. Purchase website to ensure that doesn’t happen.

12:05pm CST – Lunch. Or breakfast, really. Leftover chicken, avocado, and cheese bites. Keto is easy as pie. Mmmm… pie. Shut up, brain.

1:00pm CST (on the dot) – Kids down for naps. Promise Age 3 he can take a shower tonight instead of the normal bath. He is adamant in his demands.

1:12pm CST – Explain to husband that I am entering my writing space (four feet away from him) and I’m not to be disturbed. Headphones go on.

1:19pm CST – Husband waves for my attention to look at a weird looking bug from a gardening Facebook page he belongs to. I frown. He apologizes. (It was a weird looking bug, I admit.)

2:49pm CST – Age 5 comes down the stairs with brush in hand. Finish my session with over 2k words written. Feel accomplished and excited to write more but those sleep tangles won’t brush themselves out.

3:15pm CST – Age 3 races down the stairs, ready now — more than ever — to head to school. Cries once again when reminded about the school district’s schedule. Distract him with an invitation to play Barnyard Bingo.

3:29pm CST – Battle Royale final standings for Bingo: Mom – 4 / Age 3 – 1. We don’t hand out participation trophies in this house.

4:15pm CST – Frown into refrigerator once more to plan dinner. Chastise myself for not getting a grocery list together. Bust out frozen deer sausage (Thanks Mom & Dad!) and clean my kitchen because it looks like a bomb went off.

5:03pm CST – Begin cooking, start a new pot of coffee. Luckily, my pantry is never, ever low on coffee grounds.

5:45pm CST – Dinner is eaten, Cinderella is on the TV, and I figure I can get in another 30 minutes of writing.

5:51pm CST – Tide Pod incident

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6:01pm CST – Age 3 gets his shower an hour early to wash off all the laundry detergent. Swears he didn’t eat any, but bubbles pop out of his mouth as he makes those promises. Teach Age 3 how to properly gargle water and spit.

6:41pm CST – Age 3 uses his new-found knowledge of gargling and spitting. With his milk. In the living room.

6:43pm CST – Clean up milk-splattered floor and rug. Reiterate that we only expectorate into the sink, shower, or outside. Age 3 is discouraged.

7:14pm CST – Age 5 gets into her bath upstairs. Age 3 strips down and climbs in, unwilling to believe that he is clean enough from his earlier shower.

7:45pm CST – Age 3 and Age 5 lay together for our nightly ritual of story, song, then off to bed. They can’t come to a consensus of what to read so Dad picks out book. Crying ensues.

8:02pm CST – Kids in bed, back downstairs to write. Get distracted by the worn copy of Stephen King’s On Writing next to my keyboard.

8:49pm CST – Write 200 more words before realizing my brain is too tired to string cohesive phrases together. Take my dog-eared soft-cover of On Writing to bed and finish a few chapters.

10:15pm CST – Have an epiphany about my main character and jot it down in my phone’s notes. Drift off, knowing I’ll repeat another day just like this one tomorrow.


I want to encourage each and every one of my fellow writers out there that, if you love the craft, the process, and the results of your creativity, you will find time to write.

If, for some reason, I was unable to write while my kids were down for naps yesterday, I would have stayed up as late as I needed in order to get the job done. It would have been crap, worthy of the bonfire set up in my backyard, but it would have been progress.

That’s what rewrites are for anyway, am I right?

Posted in Uncategorized

Live and Let Chai – Charlee Chance Reviews

There’s nothing like a bit of southern charm, the beach life, and a murder to get this girl in a good mood.

With Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker, I was able to find all three of those things wrapped up in a single novel!

Let me drop a little-known fact on you, sweet reader. I was introduced to cozy mysteries a few months ago by a librarian friend. I was intrigued by the premise (who didn’t love Murder, She Wrote?) and I delved right into the genre.

Unfortunately, I do not finish the majority of the titles that I pick up due to either underdeveloped characters, continuity issues with the writing, or just poor plot/editing.

Live and Let Chai is the very first cozy that held my interest and made me feel something for the characters. I wanted the heroine, Everly Swan, to transform her return back home to Charm, North Carolina into a glorious rebirth. I was right there next to her each time she stumbled, bumbled, or got hit with a large kitchen tool.

The secondary characters are likeable and I was thrilled to learn a bit about their backstories as well. Bree Baker fleshed out believable characters who you cheer for (or hiss at) and it was a treat to follow along with their arcs throughout the page-turning read. (368 pages per Kirkus Reviews)

Since this title was released in 2018, I’m pleased to see that the Seaside Cafe Mystery Series is still going strong, turning out the latest book in a few months from now. Currently there are five of the books in print with the sixth, Partners in Lime, releasing in August of 2021. Pre-orders are open on Amazon and I am getting in line for mine. (After I read books 2-5.)

I’m not going to provide a synopsis on Live and Let Chai, as that can be found on a myriad of sites. What I do want to make known is that this series opener is engaging, spirited, and, YOU GUYS, all of the plot points come together! (Except for the end, of course. Bree leaves us with a tantalizing tidbit of what’s to come in the second installment of the series.)

If you enjoy teatime at the shore, animals that have that certain… je ne sais quoi — and a tidy story, check out Bree Baker. She’s got what it takes to keep me on the hook for her next read and you won’t be disappointed if you love the cozy genre.

If you’re like me, when you find intriguing passages in your current read, you highlight it and file it away for later perusal.

If you’re not like me, simply accuse me of being a weirdo and keep reading.

Because I devour books like tortilla chips and ask for more, I have a ton of favorite quotes spanning all genres of fiction. This post will be updated on the regular in order to keep track of my ever-growing list of awesome authors and their emotion-provoking way with words.

All that is possible to a mortal craftsman is the combining of old material into something new and different.

William Cook (Plotto: The Master Book of all Plots)

Death was just the cleanup guy, the janitor, the final act.

Karen Marie Moning (Shadowfever)

“You are a manipulator.”
“I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer.”

J.R. Ward (Lover Eternal)

Hell, any plan that ended with “and then we pray” was not a trip to Disneyland.

J.R. Ward (Lover Revealed)

“There is a little good in all evil.”

Wilson Rawls (Where the Red Fern Grows)

“Southerners don’t gossip; Southerners pray for one another. Of course, you have to know the details of the sinner’s sins to get any good praying done, then you have to recruit others to pray, and they need the details too. It’s called Prayer Circle.”

Gretchen Archer (Double Whammy)

“The trick with a truly successful intimidation is not to rely on volume or obscenity, but to cultivate that quiet certainty which informs any listener that your people will do the shouting for you, should the moment come.”

Claire North (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August)

“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Douglas Adams (The Salmon of Doubt)

“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

John Steinbeck (The Winter of Our Discontent)

“The fact that wristwatches weren’t invented yet made it difficult to look impatient, but he managed.”

Scott Meyer (Off to Be the Wizard)

“When someone shows you their true colors, believe them.”

Dolly Parton (My Life and Other Unfinished Business)

“One person can keep a secret, but not two.”

Ernest Cline (Ready Player One)

“Eddie discovered one of his childhood’s great truths. Grownups are the real monsters, he thought.”

Stephen King (It)

My Favorite Book Quotes of All Time

Posted in All About Books

How to Read More Throughout the Year

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”

Anna Quindlen

As I look back at the calendar’s pages of what is said to be an unprecedented year, I chide myself about what I should have done better and how I could have lived a better life throughout the past twelve months.

Fortunately, enriching my mind with words is not one of my missed opportunities. I’ve devoured books, from the moment that I learned to read, and haven’t put them down since.

Photo by Claire Morgan on Pexels.com

I’d like to share with you some easy tips and tricks on how to set a reasonable reading goal AND how to stick with it during the next 365 days.

1. Set Your Goal for Time Spent Reading, Not by Books Read

Be honest with yourself. If you want to commit to reading more throughout the year, you’re going to have to set aside the time to do so.

Do you have fifteen minutes before bed each evening to crack open the pages of your next read? Thirty minutes, perhaps? Three hours and 48 minutes like me? (I don’t get much sleep these days, obviously.)

If your days and subsequent evenings are packed full with scheduled tasks, that’s okay! Allotting a small amount of time per day to wind down and immerse yourself in an imaginary world (or the real world for my non-fiction fans out there), is easy.

You’ll find that once you make a decision to incorporate reading into your daily life, the idea of reading a certain amount of books per year doesn’t really matter anymore. You’ll be hitting your small goal every day and boosting your vocabulary without even trying. (Seriously, you will make better use of words once you start reading on the regular, without even noticing.)

2. Read About What You Love

Track down books and authors who write about subjects that are near and dear to your heart. Have a penchant for romance? There’s a huge genre out there just waiting to be explored. Do you like solving puzzles and mysteries? There are hundreds of thousands of books ready to be checked out.

Want to learn how to build a blacksmith forge in your backyard? Yup, you guessed it. Someone has written that book and it’s just sitting there on the shelf, waiting for you to pick it up.

When you find a genre that appeals to what you love, the pages flip seemingly of their own accord.

3. Join (or Start!) a Book Club

Book clubs are a great idea if the thought of reading a book then discussing it with others is something you would enjoy.

In the standard book club, members will regularly meet, typically once a month, to discuss the latest month’s book. This discussion can range from actual literary critique of the novel and the writer’s talents to character and plot of the story itself.

Lately, we’ve seen many book clubs go virtual, with the help of Facebook, Discord, and online public forums. If you can’t find a local book club that looks appealing, or if none on the Internet stand out, you may wish to start your own and invite your other literature-loving friends to join.

4. Revisit the Books You Loved as a Child

Before you balk at the idea of reading young adult novels or novels geared towards children, ask yourself, “Why not?”

Some of my most cherished reading stems from books meant for a younger audience. Where the Red Fern Grows and The Phantom Tollbooth, for example, are two novels that were marketed towards children but still hold value for an adult.

What could be better than returning to a past love and revisiting it with new eyes?

5. Carry a Book With You

In this day and age, it’s easy to have accessibility to a source of reading material with the help of cell phones and e-readers. If you don’t enjoy reading from an electronic device, get in the habit of packing up a novel in your purse or bag before you leave the house.

Whether you’re waiting for a bus or have a few minutes to yourself after lunch, reaching for that book at your fingertips is an easy way to ensure you work towards your daily goal of reading.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

If you actively search out time for reading, you will find it.

I utilize two sources where I get most of my reading material from:

  • Libby – This app partners with my local library in which to check out e-books.
  • Kindle – All of my downloaded content from Amazon gets sent here, including books available via my recurring monthly subscription associated with Kindle Unlimited.

Take some time out for yourself this year. The joy and the pain you will experience from these works of fiction (I’m looking at you, Albus Dumbledore), will stay with you for the rest of your life.