March 2017 Reading List

So this list is longer than usual. It was a nice change and I really loved reading the longer novels that have been in my to-be-read pile for years. I usually reserve the weekends for sure reading because once I start a book, unless the writing is horrible, I have a horrendous time setting it aside to sleep, eat, or write. (Two hours sleep really doesn’t look good on me. Think of a cross of the Hulk with The Junk Lady from The Labyrinth.)

Chance at Love Series by Ruth Ann Nordin

Right now The Convenient Mail-Order Bride is free and I believe it will stay that way, so if anyone wants to try it risk free. Go grab it! You’ll like it. 🙂

While the first book in the series was published in 2016, I waited to grab the entire series until the last book was published for two reasons: 1) I knew once I started reading I wasn’t going to want to stop reading until I finished the entire series (I devoured 4 books in two days) and I really didn’t want to have to wait for the next book to be published, and 2) I didn’t want them to get lost among the 1,000+ ebooks on my Kindle (I happens often). Since I know that most of Ruth’s series are 3-4 books long I knew it was safe to grab it now.

Now I’ve been looking forward to this series—even though these books aren’t what I normally like to read—since Ruth told me about it and hired me to create the covers the Chance at Love Series. Why don’t I usually read these types of books? Well, I don’t usually read Historical Western Romance or any form of historical stories. Also, much of my reading can be considered erotic, the sexy bits in these books are more tame and sweet

From the start of The Convenient Mail-Order Bride I liked Phoebe and her mother. When she answered the mail-order bride ad I was hoping for the best even though I knew from the description that her groom-to-be Abe hadn’t posted the ad. When he learns of her predicament, he’s decent enough to to take them in and pay for them to return East despite her protests that she wants to stay with him despite him being a half-breed. Abe tries to make it clear he doesn’t want a wife and he’s sure that when she learns about life on the Frontier she’ll be more than happy to leave.  I cheered right along with him every time she proved him wrong.

Note: By accident, I switched books 2 and 3 around while I was reading and read the series out of order. Yes, I did notice my mistaken within the first few pages of book 3 but I really wanted to know what Allison and Travis were going to do and so I didn’t stop reading. I would not suggest doing it this way because it will be really confusing. Each book can be read as a standalone, but really each one builds on the other. The only reason it worked out for me was because Ruth and I have talked about these books and I even hashed out ideas with her. I knew what was going to happen with parts of plot and I was reading more for the surprises I would finding as these people’s relationships. 😀

The Mistaken Mail-Order Bride is all about mistaken identity. Neither Eric or Caroline thought to ask the other their name when they head to the preacher and due to a sick child Caroline brought with her and an impatient witness, no one catches the issue until they are signing the marriage license. Eric decides to make the best of the situation and I have to say that I loved Eric for his decision it. Caroline is a sweet woman willingly to learn and I think the perfect woman for him. I enjoyed seeing them both grow as individuals and in their relationship.

By the time The Accidental Mail Order Bride starts, Travis has appeared in the series at least twice. Now I love Beauty and the Beast type books, especially when the beast is sweet and adorable, which is probably why I refused to stop reading when I realized I skipped a book. I wanted to know more about Travis and Allison. Allison was the woman who arrivedto marry Eric much later than she planned and she ended up being perfect for Travis. She starts out reluctant to marry him, and after the preacher tells her the latest gossip, I believe I would be a little scared but for totally different reasons. Travis compounds the problem with his fear of women and his need to hide his scars. I really enjoyed the interaction between Allison and Travis and didn’t want the book to end.

The one thing I love about Ruth’s writing is that she finds ways to redeem some of her more deserving villains. Carl is one of those villains you can’t help feeling sorry for throughout the series but it takes marrying Juliet for him to start seeing that maybe life isn’t so bad. I loved Carl’s growth throughout The Bargain Mail-Order Bride as he learns to deal with his inner demons given to him by his neglectful father, miserable mother, and hateful dead wife. But it’s when Juliet’s secret comes out that he willingly gives up his empty dreams for the woman he loves.

Brides of the Kindred, Books 10-13,  by Evangeline Anderson

I’m going to lump these books into one grouping instead of individually. If you’ve been reading The Reading List posts you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a little addicted to this series this year. Part of the reason is the reader in me wants to know what’s going to happen next while the writer part of me is taking notes and thinking “This is an awesome idea! Wonder how I can use this.”

Evangeline Anderson has done a great job of layering her series in such a way that you’re invested in the next characters in the series before you’re done with the book. I find myself having to know what happens next to those characters. Now this isn’t a novel concept, I just like the way she pulls it off so nicely.

Now some of the books I absolutely love the characters and story plots. There are other books in the series that I’m not so fond of characters or the sexual situation. And yes, there is a lot of sex going on, they are after all erotic romances, but there is also some fun story plots. This month I ended up reading: Devoured (#11), Enhanced (#12), and Cursed (#13).

In Devoured, I really felt bad for Tess who was just trying to hide from her evil ex-husband and thought the Kindred’s idea of a brothel would work for her. Not because she wanted to work there but because the robots weren’t going to say anything about her being there. After getting trapped in the lounge area, she ends up with Garron, who is understandable upset by her deception because of what he said to her when he thought her a robot and what could have happened to her. She is unwittingly returned to Earth and placed in the hands of her ex husband. When Garron learns of her troubles, he does what he can to protect from her from the evil bastard she was married to and from the beast lurking inside himself.

Enhanced brought back fond memories of watching Star Trek Voyager with the family, and there were times that Six reminded me a little bit of Seven of Nine. That’s about where the similarities end. Mei-Li doesn’t want to be claimed by the Kindred male any more than he wants to claim him, but to keep the peace among Earth and the aliens who saved them, they each do their part. Mei-Li finds herself on an unemotional world of cyborgs where feeling is against the law. I had to laugh at the interaction of Mei-Li (who is far too passionate for the cold cyborg) and Six (who is trying to do everything by the book and who is far too innocent in many ways). At least Six didn’t remain unemotional.

I really liked Stravos in Devoured and was glad when he got his own book, Cursed. Stravos is among the cursed Kindred and can feel the pain of others, Charlie is an agent in charge of hunting down the Kindred who didn’t leave Earth. When he is captured on Earth by Charlie, neither one of them expected the consequences. You see, Charlie has problems with the aliens on her planet and I really don’t blame her for her anger but it was nice to see she has her priorities straight when she was able to put aside her hatred to go on a mission with Stravos to stop their common enemy and save both races from a man Hell bent on destroying them all.

The Star King (The Star Series, 1) by Susan Grant

I really found a fondness for Rom and Jas in The Star King. Rom is one of those men who refuses to play by the rules, especially when lives hang in the balance, and pays for his defiance with banishment. Jas is an divorced wife with grown kids, an ex fighter pilot, and a successful artist whose not completely happy with her life. When aliens contact Earth and she goes to Rom seeking answers and even a little adventure in space. The twists and turns in the book kept me wondering if they were ever going to get together. Which I knew would happen because it’s a sci-fi romance and they always have a happily-ever-after. 😀

The Star Prince (The Star Series, 2) by Susan Grant

Ian, Jas’ son and successor to the King of the Galaxy, is on a mission of great importance when he hires Tee’ah as his pilot. Princess Tee’ah is being stifled by the rules of her royal life and she’s out to live her life for once. With enemies hunting for them both, strange malfunctions happening with the ship, a hunter sent to find Tee’ah and return her home, I was worried that they would never get their cute asses together. Maybe I should have been more worried about the galaxy hurtling toward war.

The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM) (The Miracle Morning Book Series) by Hal Elrod and Steve Scott

First, there are several books in this series and if you aren’t a writer and would still like to read the book, I would suggest one of the others. The original book is The Miracle Morning but they have one for salespeople, marketers, real estate agents, families, relationships, etc. They all have the same basic information from what I can tell, they just go the extra mile to gear each book towards individuals, business people, or families.

I really recommend this for writers as it doesn’t just deal with creating a writing habit but also hits on improving your writing skills, advice on publishing business, writing tips. and maximization of your day that will help you increase your income, your output, and the value you provide to the world.

The Star Princess (The Star Series, 3) by Susan Grant

I found The Star Princess fun and kind of sad. Not because the story was sad, more because the billionaire alien Prince Ché is being forced into another arranged marriage with a woman that he doesn’t love within a certain deadline, and even though he’s not quite aware of it, he’s already falling in love with another. When Ché escapes to Earth to sow some wild oats and shows up on Ilana’s doorstep, Ilana is determined to loosen him up by setting him up with a few friends and winning the bet she made with her brother and Ché friend. I enjoyed Ché and Ilana’s attempts to not be attracted to the other, but really, when does that ever work in a romance. 😀

Vampire’s Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls Series, 1) by Kristen Painter 

Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year. 

I so want to be a tourist at Nocturne Falls! Halloween is an awesome holiday! Although, I’m not so sure if I would feel as safe once I knew that the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the gargoyle are real there.

But for Delaney, there couldn’t be a safer place for her to hide from the mobster hunting her then amongst the “monsters”, especially with the groom-to-be of the mail order bride whose place she has taken. And there couldn’t be a better woman for Hugh then the bride his grandmother arranged for him, even if she isn’t the “right” woman.

I found myself laughing at the humor sprinkled throughout most of this book.

The Champion of Baresh: Star World Frontier Series, 1 (The Star Series, 4) by Susan Grant

Confession, I only read The Champion of Baresh because I really, really wanted to see Klark get his happily ever after. He might have been a booger throughout The Star Prince and The Star Princess, but he redeemed himself at the end of The Star Princess and he deserved some happiness for it.

I found Jemm and Klark well-suited for each other with their love bajha (a fighting sport) and the attraction that grew between them, but there is this really pesky problem that Jemm didn’t think about when she tried to trick Klark. She has a secret that isn’t just scandalous, it might just ruin Klark’s plans to win the galactic title and restore his family’s honor that his misdeeds have tarnished, turn his beliefs about women upside down, and possibly alter the course of their worlds forever. But that doesn’t seem to stop Klark from setting out to win Jemm’s reluctant heart.


Keeping Track!

This year one of my goals is to read at least 50 fiction books & 5 non-fiction books. So far I have:

January 2017: I read 5 fiction books and 1 non-fiction book.
February 2017: I read 7 fiction books and 2 non-fiction books.
March 2017: I read 12 fiction books and 1 non-fiction book.

Total Fiction read this Year: 24 books.
Total Non-Fiction read this Year: 4 books.

Happy reading to ya’ll!

January 2017 in Review

Welcome to my first “In Review” Post! Personally, this is something that I usually do at the end of each week so I can stay on track with the goals I made, but I thought a weekly post about what was working, what wasn’t, and how I could improve on a goal would be too much. Instead I’m going to do a monthly “In Review” posts, unless that gets too annoying and I decided to post this every 3 or 6 months.

Now, not all the goals I made this year were writing related but the ones I posted here in December were. My hope was that by publishing them and making monthly assessments on how I’m doing with them, I will rock these goals!

We’re about a month into 2017 and this is how I’m doing so far:


My Writing

Writing at least 300,000 new words this year (doesn’t include words written for blog posts or website unless it was something creative): I am using a Excel program from Svenja Gosen to track my word count goal this year. I’ve used this spreadsheet on and off every year since 2014.

Total Word Count for January: 34,633
Total Word Count for 2017:
34,633

Finish writing 5 books this year (this doesn’t include editing or publishing them. That will come after I finish writing the entire series):

the_warlords_daughter_1_web the_scouts_captive_2_web the_lost_heir_3_web the_empty_throne_4_web the_rebel_queen_5_web

As of January 16, 2017 the first draft of The Warlord’s Daughter (due February 1st) is done. It came in at 97,149 words. 

I started The Scout’s Captive (due April 1st) January 16, 2017. I have 51,102 words written so far.

The other books will be: The Lost Heir by June 1st (about 58,000 words written); The Empty Throne by September 1st (about 10,000 words written); The Rebel Queen by December 31st (about 10,000 words written).


Books I Read This Month

One of my goals is to read at least 50 fiction books & 5 non-fiction books. So far this year I’ve read 5 fiction books and 1 non-fiction book. The last one was a short story that caught my eye.

    

  

Happy Reading y’all!


My Other 2017 Goals

Nurturing my creativity by spending more time doing fun things with my family because downtime is therapeutic for the creative brain: I’m doing better at enforcing Family Time during the evenings and on weekends. I decided that I can always write after everyone heads to bed or get up earlier in the morning. 

Unplugging from the electronics on the weekends: I’ve been inspired to write on the weekends for a few hours in the morning or at night. They are usually blog posts as they are the easiest to return too when I’m interrupted.

Be a better writer and develop my writing craft by taking at least 1 writing craft related ecourse or workshop before the end of the year: I haven’t even started this one because I’m afraid of a repeat of the last two seminars I attended online (going somewhere isn’t an option I’m even considering) because:

  1. When I spend money for the event like I did for the first one, I expect to gain some benefit from it and get what was promised me. Even though this seminar was aimed at helping writers promote and market their books, There were only 2 speakers in the whole lineup that had any advice for fiction writers and another 3 had advice that could be modified for fiction writers, but most of the speakers focused on marketing and promoting books for self-help writers who wanted speaking gigs. 
  2. If I sign up for it, I need to know that I can be there for the lectures. The second seminar that I signed up for started on a Thursday and went until Saturday. I had nothing going on that week and planned to watch them, either live or as a replay. It ended up being a busy weekend and I missed most of the seminar. I found out later that the link for the replays only lasted 24 hours so I didn’t get to see most of them. The only plus side for that seminar was that it was free and research for a series I plan to write in the future.

I really want to take a few classes that I’ve had my eye on for a few years now, but I’m afraid to do it because my schedule can go from empty to chaotic in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to start a class and then not have the time to work on the assignments or attend the lectures. If I’m going to take a class then I want benefit fully from it.

Writing and maintaining a work journal each writing day: I started this in December last year after I started to read Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I combined this with how I was using my new planners and tried to keep it going through January but by week two of the new year I knew I needed to do something different. I’d start to write an entry, get distracted or interrupted, and never returned to the journal. So most my entries looked like this: Worked on fixing scene between… (can’t begin to tell you who) or I need to remember to… (not sure what, I can’t remember).  I tweaked this goal a bit and tried it again. It’s working much better now but I’m not quite happy with it.

Be more disciplined in my writing by writing something (story, blog post, letter) every weekday but not feeling too upset if I don’t write something one day because sometimes daydreaming is working too: I have 27 days where I wrote and 4 days where I wrote nothing. Most days I wrote something in my current story.

Create an inspiring work space by keeping my office area/desk de-cluttered for better working and creating a desktop slideshow of inspiring quotes and pictures for my computer: I figure this will be an on-going goal. Right now my desk/office area is mostly clean, except for the pile on the left side of my desk. I’m still looking for pictures or quotes that inspire me to add to my desktop slideshow. 

Work on my time management by using the planners I created and bought, setting writing goals at the beginning of every month and reviewing them daily to see where I can make improvements, and sticking with the daily work routine that I created to mesh with my family’s schedules (to be tweaked as needed).: My plan for the planners failed two weeks into using them. They weren’t helping me manage my time, they were a time suck that took away from writing time. I downsized to one planner and decided that I would switch off to see what one I liked better. I started by taking all the goals I set for myself and breaking them down to actionable steps to make it easier to incorporate into my life. 

Be a healthy writer by keeping the daily exercise routine I started, making healthier meal choices, and drink more water.: I could do better with this one. I substituted the time it takes to feed the cows and load the hay truck with my normal exercise. It’s the water situation that I need pay more attention to, which reminds me that I need a drink of water.

Okay, I’m back.

Maintaining my meditation and affirmation practice I started in 2016.: I found that I love meditation and it was something that went really well with walking during the summer months. Now that it’s winter, I’m having trouble sitting still and my meditation practice fell by the way side. I tried a 30 Day Affirmation Challenge in January but I really hated the affirmations they choose. I want to create my own affirmations for February. 


So there you have it! All my 2017 writing related goals. 😀

I would love to hear about your goals for the new year if you’d like to share?