Wednesday, May 01, 2019

May 2019 Reading Challenge: The Dirt!

Thomas C. Haliburton said, "Money is a necessity; so is dirt." are books, dude, so get ready to get down and dirty with the May reading challenge. I don't necessarily mean naughty, but more like the place where you plant seeds and grow things, the important stuff under your lawn, the reason you have a washing machine, you know...that stuff. Just plain ol' dirt. 

May 2019 Reading Challenge: The Dirt!

My list of "dirty" books for the month include:

1.) Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols - Contemporary Romance

2.) Dirt by Denise Gosliner Orenstein - Middle Grade

3.) Dirty Little Secrets by Kerry Cohen - Nonfiction

4.) Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren - Contemporary Romance

5.) The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszewski - Middle Grade

6.) Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon - Young Adult

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." ~ Unknown

Monday, April 01, 2019

April 2019 Reading Challenge: The Kids' Picks

I asked my kids for their top five middle grade recommendations and those book nerds gave me a list of eleven! There's no way I can get through that many reads in a month...but I'll share them here and then flip a coin...

Kids' Picks

1.) Wings of Fire Book One: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland

2.) The Third Mushroom by Jennifer Holm

3.) Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

4.) The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle* by Leslie Connor

5.) Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

6.) City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

7.) Ungifted* by Gordon Korman

8.) Schooled by Gordon Korman

9.) Restart by Gordon Korman

10.) It Ain't So Awful Falafel* by Firoozeh Dumas

11.) Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

* A recommended read!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Burnout Rides Again!

The Gamut

I made so many mistakes with this cover that I had to go above and beyond the "three's a charm" and hit "Final Four!" I'm so happy with how this latest version turned out that I'm ready to celebrate! Free ebook anyone? Hell, yeah!

But before we head over to Amazon for a freebie (Free on March 22 - 23, 2019),  I want to review the pain so I can relish the gain. First, I started with the wrong font, all chunky letters and tough looking, which had readers assuming the story was some kind of biker erotica. People do judge books by covers, myself included, but what I'd created couldn't be further from the truth! In reality, this is a chaste love story with road trips and adventure for the young adult (YA) crowd and the young at heart. 

By the second cover, I'd decided to use a more fun and youthful looking font but stuck with the leather jacket/zipper motif I had going on, mostly because I had a vision of using fabrics on all my covers. Dealing with Blue had denim, and in the case of Riding with the Hides of Hell, I envisioned black leather. But I was getting raised eyebrows whenever I mentioned the title.

While considering a title-change, a friend was busy giving me flack about the dark cover and how it needed to be brightened up. So I went gung-ho and gave everything an overhaul. I drew a motorcycle, added a pop of color, threw in some angles, but I couldn't let that leather jacket go. Ugh...I really disliked this cover! As it turned out, the third time was not a charm.

However, I did need that third step to get me to the fourth and final cover, which I love! This represents the fun, the love, and the adventure that I put into this book. Aesthetically, it works for me. I ditched the leather jacket that had initially gotten this project off the ground and brought in some asphalt, instead. I couldn't have gotten to version four without failing three times before. *I'm a poet, and didn't even know it.*

The take-away?

* Check the title...make a list of five or ten and whittle it down from there. The first one you think of is rarely the best answer.

* Brainstorm multiple cover layouts while mocking up thumbnails. Hit the bookstores and review covers in related genres. Compare and contrast. I peruse the ads at to see how they have fonts set up on the page.

* Where can a pop of color be added to draw attention? Where's the focal point? Where does the eye travel to next? Does it stay on the page?

* How does the final cover look when it's a thumbnail size on shopping sites? When I reduced my cover, the motorcycle got lost in the darkness, which had me going back to the drawing board. For the final, I framed the bike in the yellow beam to make it visible on the cover, big or small.

Boom! Done.

Now, ready to head over to Amazon for that free ebook? Give it a go, or buy a paper copy to really get the full effect. And don't forget to leave a review...this book's a lot of fun with tough luck and tough love, not to mention it's had a pretty tough start. Mercy.

Most of all, I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, March 01, 2019

March 2019 Reading Challenge: Kismet!

Kismet: fate; destiny; the will of God.

Recently, my kids and I were at our local thrift store, shopping for books, when my daughter pointed down the row and said, "Look, Mom! It's your book." Out of all the books showing off their spines, mine--with its original cover--sat face forward on the shelf as seen in the picture I took below. 

Talk about kismet. 

So for March's reading challenge I pulled together a list of reads that somehow spoke to me or seemingly came my way as though it were "meant to be."

The Kismet Pile

1.)  The Raft by S. A. Bodeen - I had this one in hand at the thrift store before seeing my book sitting face out on the shelf. "It is your destiny." ~ Darth Vader

2.) Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson - A spontaneous purchase after listening to the author's sales pitch online. I bought it, so I guess I should read it, too.

3.) The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang - I've been eyeballing this book ever since it hit the shelves but the trope didn't really call to me. When I saw it on the "Choice Reads" table at the library, I picked it up. Free read, great cover, and a great first sentence. Good start.

4.) Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin - A friend gifted this one to my little bookworm, who loved it. Personally, I wouldn't have looked at it twice - judging books by covers, yadda, yadda - but when my kid recommends a read, I listen.

5.) Tisha by Robert Specht and Anne Purdy - This book has been kicking around for a spell, Montana speak meaning one copy was on my mom's bookshelf probably since 1976, the copyright date. Another copy was found at my grandma's and was later bequeathed to me. *shrugs* Popular book in my family...guess I should check it out.
Excerpt from

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Ballard, Seattle: Sharing Books with Free Little Libraries

I met a wonderful friend for lunch at the Hi-Life in Old Ballard, Seattle--I recommend the red pepper and tomato soup, by the way--and afterward, traipsed off to do that fun little thing I like to do, which is buzzing around neighborhoods, leaving good vibes, and sharing my stories. Check out these cute Free Little Libraries:

SLUG: St. Luke's Urban Garden

Old Ballard Area

Old Ballard Area

"The flower doesn't dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes." ~ Mark Nepo

Friday, February 01, 2019

February 2019 Reading Challenge: The Letter V

Along with hearts and flowers, chocolates and cupids, comes a February reading challenge dedicated to another letter from the alphabet, V. Not necessarily V for Vendetta, and doesn't have to be V for valentines. It could be the start of a word, like Verity or versus, or it could be contained within, like Ivy, Heaven, never or selves. To shake things up a bit, I pulled together a nice mix of titles that didn't involve the word "love" or the color pink. Read on:

The Letter V
A Four-Pointer!

1.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

2.) Girl V. Boy by YVonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

3.) The ReinVention of IVy Brown by Roberta Taylor

4.) Penny from HeaVen by Jennifer Holm

5.) Things I'll NeVer Say: Stories About Our Secret SelVes* by Ann Angel

* A recommended read!


"My brain throbs for you..."

Monday, January 07, 2019

Columbia River Gorge: Sharing Books with Free Little Libraries

Back from Nevada with the holidays behind me and the open road ahead. Destination: Columbia River Gorge to see my pups, Tilly Bean and Tango Mango, who've been staying with my parents and their doxie "fur-aunts" for the past month.

During the four-hour road trip, I listened to the first 3 out of 11 CDs of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver on audio and wished I could keep on driving, keep on listening to the amazing Sarah Drew narrate...yes, the story is that good. 

I wove my way back and forth over the Columbia River, from Washington to Oregon and back again, stopping at a few cute little towns "gifting" my books to eight Free Little Libraries.

First stop: Hood River, a wind-surfer's haven, home of the Full Sail Brewery, and a gateway to Mount Hood.

in Hood River, Oregon

Burnout in Hood River, Oregon

Second stop: White Salmon, "The land where the sun meets the rain..."

White Salmon, Washington

Third stop: The Dalles, where the sun shines, the cherries grow, and the salmon skim the currents.

The Dalles, Oregon

The Dalles, Oregon

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” ~ Chief Seattle

...and books. Take one, leave one.