Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Writer's Wednesday

 Not much to report this week. The collections are coming along, and I have begun processing feedback from my Beta readers for Death By Donut. I don't think I'll need to make any major changes, but some good points were brought up that I do want to address.

And the cover is ready! I'm going to do a reveal Feb. 3, so if you want to participate, let me know and I'll send the info! I'm thinking that should give me enough time to get the pre-order pages up, and bravely set a release date--a deadline I've been afraid to set so far. I think it's time.

The Wizard Libraries and Dragon Archives collection is just waiting on some more proof-reading, and will be joining Missing Snow and Strange Drinks: Tavern Tales Short and Tall any day now.

Maybe the most exciting thing for me as a writer is that "Accountability dates" are working, and I'm at least working well on those two days, with some carry-over to other days.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Cover Reveal: A Side of Murder, by Amy Pershing

 Wishing all the best to author Amy Pershing with this coming release!

A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery) by Amy Pershing



READY . . .


SET . . .


REVEAL . . .


A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Publisher: Berkley (February 23, 2021) Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages ISBN-10: 0593199146 ISBN-13: 978-0593199145 Digital ASIN: B087PL9HHF

Beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for seafood, sand, surf, and, now…murder.

Samantha Barnes was always a foodie. And when the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) came calling, she happily traded in Cape Cod for the Big Apple. But then the rising young chef’s clash with another chef (her ex!) boils over and goes viral. So when Sam inherits a house on the Cape and lands a job writing restaurant reviews, it seems like the perfect pairing. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

The dilapidated house comes with an enormous puppy. Her new boss is, well, bossy. And the town’s harbormaster is none other than her first love. Nonetheless, Sam’s looking forward to reviewing the Bayview Grill—and indeed the seafood chowder is divine. But the body in the pond outside the eatery was not on the menu. Sam is certain this is murder. But as she begins to stir the pot, is she creating a recipe for her own untimely demise?

Pre-order Your Copy Today!

Amazon - B&N - Kobo - Google Play - IndieBound

About Amy Pershing 

Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith. She was an editor, a restaurant reviewer, and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time (and spend more time sailing on the Cape!). A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, is her debut novel.



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Friday, January 15, 2021

Photo Friday: Sunsets

 Today's photo treat is a few local sunsets. These are all simple cell-phone shots, since I don't usually carry my camera when out for a walk, so not necessarily the top quality you deserve.

And I can't resist throwing in just one more, from a more exotic location.

Thanks for visiting!

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Writer's Wednesday: Accountability

 Last week, I started something new: "Accountability" meetings. A writer friend invited me to be part of her accountability group, which entails a bit of Zooming during a morning dedicated to work--in other words, someone to be accountable to. After admittedly only one session, I have high hopes that this may help me move back into being a writer in a more meaningful sense. Our first session induced me to work on writing projects--mostly editing those short stories, some work on book covers, and answering a couple of writing-related emails--for a full three hours.

What this session made clear is that once I get to the computer and start working, I'm good. I feel good while I'm working, and I can lose myself in the work. Here's hoping I can sustain that, for the two days a week I've signed on for, at any rate! So far, I don't seem to be able to find that level of discipline without the external supports.

Still, the third of my flash-fiction e-collections is nearly ready, with a cover I like a lot. I'm still having fun with making covers, and learning more about Photoshop as I go.

This one will be out as soon as my proofreaders finish and come up with a blurb.

Meanwhile--my wonderful cover artist, Danielle English, has finished the cover for Death By Donut! Watch this space for a cover reveal, or sign on to help me spread the good news!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Nonfiction Audiobook: Labyrinth of Ice


 I used the hardback cover image because the Goodreads image for the audiobook was really lousy!

Title: Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition
Author: Buddy Levy. Read by Will Damron
Publication Info: Audible Audio 2019, 13 1/4 hours. Hardback St. Martin's Press, 2019. 400 pages. 
Source: Library digital resources

Blurb (Goodreads): 
In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely and his crew of 24 scientists and explorers were bound for the last region unmarked on global maps. Their goal: Farthest North. What would follow was one of the most extraordinary and terrible voyages ever made.

Greely and his men confronted every possible challenge—vicious wolves, sub-zero temperatures, and months of total darkness—as they set about exploring one of the most remote, unrelenting environments on the planet. In May 1882, they broke the 300-year-old record, and returned to camp to eagerly await the resupply ship scheduled to return at the end of the year. Only nothing came.

250 miles south, a wall of ice prevented any rescue from reaching them. Provisions thinned and a second winter descended. Back home, Greely's wife worked tirelessly against government resistance to rally a rescue mission.

Months passed, and Greely made a drastic choice: he and his men loaded the remaining provisions and tools onto their five small boats, and pushed off into the treacherous waters. After just two weeks, dangerous floes surrounded them. Now new dangers awaited: insanity, threats of mutiny, and cannibalism. As food dwindled and the men weakened, Greely's expedition clung desperately to life.

Labyrinth of Ice tells the true story of the heroic lives and deaths of these voyagers hell-bent on fame and fortune—at any cost—and how their journey changed the world.

My Review:
A worthy addition to my growing pile of books on polar explorations and way-out-there travel/survival! I don't think I even knew about this expedition, though as a key US exploration and one that seems to have given a push to understanding the arctic, I probably should have.

When reading about 19th-Century exploration I am often intrigued and maybe a bit put off by the mix between desire for scientific knowledge and the desire for some kind of glory that has nothing to do with science or knoweldge. This expedition was no exception. The drive to gain "furthest north" seems to have been mostly about national pride, and yet all those efforts to reach the North Pole also served a genuine purpose: debunking the idea of the "warm polar sea" and learning the real nature of the Earth's poles.
Greely's party collected vast amounts of data on weather, geology, geography, and more, and perhaps the most amazing part of this amazing survival tale is that the data survived, including the extensive diaries kept by most of the men as part of their duties (i.e, they were always meant to be part of the data, not private diaries, though many seem to have written pretty private stuff). Their records provide a baseline for some of our current studies of how climate change is affecting the arctic.

Initially I wanted more analysis of what went wrong, and whether Greely should have stayed put at their more secure camp instead of taking to the boats and moving south. But I think the author's dismissal is correct: for Greely, a military man from his mid-teens, not to follow orders (even his own) would be unthinkable. They followed the plan. In the end, whose fault it was is less important than the information they brought back. 
I do wonder if anyone has studied what made some of the men give up or even go mad while others were able to remain strong, even as their bodies gave up (I think there was a suggestion that some studies have been made). The author raises and then essentially ignores the questions of whether cannibalism occurred, which I also think is the right choice. The accusations tarnished the survivors' homecoming, but ultimately it doesn't matter, unless perhaps for those psychological studies!
Damron's excellent reading definitely adds to the feelings of growing tension and "you are there" immediacy.

My Recommendation:
Anyone who has an interest in the history of arctic exploration and scientific discovery should read this. If you just like tales of endurance and rising to meet challenges, that will do too. Warning: there are some grim parts and graphic descriptions of the results of starvation and freezing.

FTC Disclosure: I checked Labyrinth of Ice out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Photo Friday: Reflections

What better theme for the first photo post of the year than reflections! I'm not going to reflect on 2020--that hot mess of a year is just too hard to look at. Nope, I'm going for literal reflections, of beautiful trees in beautiful water. I hope my photos give you a little space of calm in this crazy time.

All of these photos were taken at the One-Mile pool in Bidwell Park, Chico, CA.

Love how those trees make a perfect X--or a perfect diamond.

This one may take some study--it's the reflection of the bridge rail where the water goes over the sluice gate.

All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

IWSG: What Makes Me Stop Reading?

It's time for the monthly IWSG posting! 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.   

January 6 question - Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books? 
The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise - Fundy Blue!


This is a question I've actually addressed before, but it's one well worth revisiting, and I don't have much to say about my own writing, so...

Some books I quit in annoyance, and know I'm quitting--if the writing is just not good, or the story gets gruesome or the like. Other books I set aside and realize that I just somehow never got back to them. Those often require a second look (and often when I'm in a different mood, I'll finish them).  

Here's a list of things that can ruin a story for me:

  • poor writing/editing (abuse of the English language)
  • anachronisms. If you are writing medieval fantasy and people are looking at clocks and using centimeters, I'll get annoyed.
  • wrong kind of story for me. Obviously this isn't something a writer needs to fix.
  • breaking the "fourth wall" with history/geography/language lessons or backstory thinly disguised as dialog or--worse--musing by a character.
  • lack of any likable/relatable characters. If everyone is too bad or too good, I'll probably quit.

Pretty sure I could go on, but that will do!

 December writing report:

We had a holiday, and I had company. Very very little writing, editing, or even blogging happened this month. That means that after getting my holiday story collection out at the beginning of the month, I ground to a halt with the other 3 collections that close to finished. I've also gotten feedback from several beta readers on my new Pismawallops PTA mystery, so that's waiting for my attention. I've only gotten back at it starting on New Year's Eve (because what else do you do with a holiday that's about parties, when you can't party, and about being with your loved ones, when they aren't around?), but I'm hitting the ground running! Well, okay, I'm continuing my hobble/crawl/ooze in the direction of productivity. The newest short-story collection goes live shortly, and I'm on to the next collection, Wizard Libraries and Dragon Archives.

This one is already live:


Monday, January 4, 2021

Middle Grade Classics: Seacrow Island



Title: Seacrow Island
Author: Astrid Lindgren
Publication Info: Kindle Edition NYR Children's Collection, 2015. First English edition, Viking Books for Young Readers, 1969 (original Swedish publication 1964). 287 pages.
Source: Library digital services

Goodreads Blurb:
Tiny Seacrow Island is one of hundreds of islands in the sparkling blue of the Baltic Sea. Though small, it has everything you’d want in an island: woods to wander in, flowers to pick, fish to catch, boats to sail in, all kinds of animals. But it doesn’t have very many young people. So when the four Melkerson kids and their father move into Carpenter’s Cottage one June day, they’re immediately welcomed by the resourceful islanders: Johan and Niklas Melkerson, at twelve and thirteen, are natural companions for adventurous Freddy and Teddy (girls exactly their age); dreamy Pelle, the baby of the family, gets up to trouble with bossy Tjorven and fanciful Stina; and ever-responsible Malin, who at nineteen looks after her scatterbrained father as well as her brothers, catches the eye of all the island’s young men. Before long Seacrow Island and Carpenter’s Cottage (tumbledown and leaky though it may be) have become a real home for the Melkersons. 

Seacrow Island is a remarkable story, filled with sweetness and sorrow, humor and suspense, and peopled with the vivid, unexpected, wonderfully winning characters we’ve come to expect from the creator of the unforgettable Pippi Longstocking.

My Review:
I no longer remember exactly why this was on my TBR list--I saw it somewhere and thought it sounded charming. And, indeed, it is. I haven't read Pippi for a long time, but this felt better to me than I remembered Pippi (as a child I always worried about the trouble she was getting Tommy and Annika into). Compared to most modern children's books, the story is slower-moving, more about a feel for a wonderful place, maybe creating a fantasy of that wonderful summer life on a magical island. But in the end, it had a lot more plot than I expected, and every bit as much charm as promised. 

There are a lot of characters, and the author moves the point of view among them scene by scene, but never in a way to confuse the reader, and for me it created a feeling that every one of the children was important, and deserving of attention. If pressed to pick the main characters, I'd choose three: Pelle, Tjorven, and Malin. It may be a bit odd to have an almost-adult as one of the main characters, and we don't see things so much from her adult perspective most of the time, but her changes and development are definitely central to the story.

Read it for a calming dip into a more peaceful time. There are adventures, but nothing madcap as Pippi Longstocking delivers. I found it a soothing read.