Michille: Beach Reads 2019 (and before)

The Kiss QuotientWith the holiday weekend approaching, lots of folks in my area and around the country are heading to the beach. For our non-US friends, Memorial Day in the US is a federal holiday for remembering and honoring people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is currently observed on the last Monday of May, which means a lot of Americans have the day off (and head out of town or have a cookout). With beaches on the mind, I was thinking about beach reads for this summer. I’m not heading out this weekend but will probably have some time to put my nose in a book. I’m looking forward to the second in Kevin Kwan’s series, China Rich Girlfriend. I read the first, Crazy Rich Asians, recently and, while not particularly well written, it was entertaining so it might be that one next.

Some of my recent reads that I can recommend are:

The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang. Stella is brilliant and on the spectrum so she’s socially awkward, but smart enough to compensate until things get socially/sexually intimate, then all bets are off. Michael is a professional escort (among other things) and while he usually only limits his encounters with his clients to one, he agrees to Stella’s longer-term deal to teach her to be less awkward. I’m a sucker for good characterization and character arcs and Ms. Hoang is brilliant with Stella. I loved this book.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, by Christina Lauren. Hazel is very quirky with no filter on her mouth. At All. Josh knew Hazel in college but wasn’t a huge fan. When they reconnect it’s as friends through mutuals (Hazel’s bestie is Josh’s sister). This isn’t my usual style because it’s a little zany and the characters are younger than I typically read. Also, it’s in alternating first person and I’m a fan of close third, but it’s very entertaining.

Of course, our own Jeanne Oates Estridge and Nancy Yeager each have a fabulous new series out (with more coming): Touched by a Demon and Harrow’s Fines Five. Jeanne’s are contemporary and, according to her website and my opinion having read the first two, dark, snarky and happy ever after. Nancy’s are historicals with, according to her website and my opinion having read them, smart adventurous women and the sexy, intriguing men who love them.

However, you might want some other opinions to consider:

  • Oprah recommends Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey, The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory, and also The Kiss Quotient.
  • Popsugar recommends The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez, The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem, and The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai.
  • Good Housekeeping recommends The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev.

All three of these lists had lots of repeats (which is why I’ve included them here).

What’s the beach read you’re looking forward to this summer?

Elizabeth: At a Loss for Words

“Had we but words enough, and time,
Thy poems, dear, would be sublime.”

I have the time, it’s the words I’m having trouble getting right.

Readers familiar with Andrew Marvell’s poem, To HIs Coy Mistress, know that the above lines aren’t quite right either.  They should read:

“Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.”

However, when searching for the poem on the internet earlier today (for no good reason), I ran across the alternate version on The Piker Press, and it tickled my fancy.  Here’s the whole bit:

“Had we but words enough, and time,
Thy poems, dear, would be sublime.
We’d read aloud a verse each day,
And watch delicious words at play.
I’d speak each noun, then let you, miss,
Enunciate a verbal kiss.”  ~  Cheryl Haimann

Today’s post isn’t about poetry, though I did pick just pick up two new books of poems – Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost – when I stopped for a browse through the local bookstore on my way home from work. Continue reading

Jeanne: Affirmation Is Sweet

NRCA finalistI recently received an email from the Oklahoma Romance Writers organization, letting me know that The Demon Always Wins is a finalist for Best First Book in their National Readers’ Choice Award contest.

I was thrilled. Although TDAW did well on the contest circuit back when it was just a manuscript, it hasn’t fared as well in more competitive contests against published books. Continue reading

Nancy: Book Festivals


The writer, when allowed out of her cave for short periods of time, will tend to congregate with other writers.

As summer approaches, even I–hardcore, sun-avoidant introvert that I am–will venture out on occasional weekend forays. On Sunday, I attended a fabulous gathering of a small group of Women’s Fiction writers. A few of the ladies had attended the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, which was on my to-do wishlist. Alas, I had scheduling conflicts so had to give up on attending this year, but I hope to plan better next year.

So what did I miss? Turns out, quite a bit. Book signing. Author panels. Writing workshops. Chances to meet readers, other writers, and book lovers of all stripes. A chance to wander around in the sunshine and soak up all things literary. And it’s all free, even the workshops. Really, the only experience I can think of that’s nearly as good as sitting in the stacks of a gorgeous library on a rainy day is wandering around in a park full of books on a sunny afternoon.

The book festival/fair is not the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about finding new-to-me books to read, meeting other authors, and networking in publishing. But after hearing friends talk about the opportunities it offers to interact with other publishing professionals and to meet with and take questions from readers, I’m adding “being on an author panel at a book festival” to my author bucket list. (It’s a very long list with very few items crossed off, but this writing journey is a process!)

It’s too late (and I don’t yet have the credentials) to attend a 2019 event as a presenting author, but there are two more Maryland book festivals the first weekend of June, the Library of Congress National Book Festival on August 31, and the Baltimore Book Festival November 1-3, complete with an arts and music party at the Inner Harbor on the 1st. This year, I’m going to attend at least a couple of these and enjoy them as a lifelong reader and book lover. And who knows–maybe in 2020, I can attend a festival as an author as well!

What about you? Have you attended a book festival, presented at one, or penciled one in on your calendar?

Justine: Copy Editing Challenges You Can Easily Overcome: Apostrophes


Cartoon by What the Duck.

Author by day, copy editor by night. That’s me. To keep myself occupied in the evenings (I’m not much for watching television) and to help pay for my book cover habit, I take copy editing jobs from select writers. In my former life, I had a ten-year career as a technical writer. Combine all of this experience and one starts to notice particular consistent misuses of various grammar guidelines (I don’t like the word “rules,” because there are some rules made to be broken).

Over the next several posts, I’m going to lay out a few basic guidelines, abuses, and misunderstandings of grammar in the hopes that you, fair writer, will learn them and will put them to good use. If you’re paying for copy editing, this will not only make your copy editor love you more (trust me, it will), but it will reduce the time it takes your copy editor to work through your manuscript.

Disclaimer: I use the Chicago Manual of Style as my “bible” for anything grammar- or copy editing-related. There are other style manuals which may offer differing views. Continue reading

Michaeline: Writing Word Puzzle for Priming the Pump


Image via Wikimedia Commons

Some days, you just need a little psychological boost to get started. I’ve talked before on this blog about the power of priming at least twice, and here is a puzzle with words I associate with good writing. Give it a try and see if you like it!

Or, if you’d like to try your own hand at making a personal puzzle with words that are meaningful to you, visit Discovery Education to create your own game.

Happy Saturday!


Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday.  It’s grey and rainy here, which means instead of looking out my office window at boaters on the lake, I’m looking at a sheet of drizzle.  It was rainy and sunny earlier today so I was hoping for a rainbow or two, but no such luck.

On the bright side, the flowers that I planted in the backyard this past weekend are no doubt enjoying all the water.  The cat, however, is not amused.

I’ve been busy all day trying to catch up on a backlog of work here at Ye Olde Day Jobbe, after last week’s travel and this week’s vertigo.  Tomorrow looks like another day of the same, but I’ve scheduled in some writing time at lunch, before my brain completely turns to mush.  I plan on giving this week’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading