Saturday, December 01, 2018

December Reading Challenge: Christmas Book Binge Reading

What do words like "December" and "binge" and "pile" have in common? That's right, they all have to do with reading Christmas books!

Welcome to another Christmas Book Binge Reading challenge, where anything winter, snow, and holiday-related get read in mass quantities. Get ready! Get set!

Fa la la la la...

Ginormicorn from Unstable Unicorns

The Holiday Pile

Below is a mix of genres including romance, young adult, and childrens picture books. I said it last December, and I'll say it again...I'm not one for writing reviews, but I love making lists, so there's a big one to follow, a list* of all the books I've read so far. If they passed my good-read meter, I inserted a link. Here goes...

1.) Love on the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne


2.) This Is Christmas by Tom Booth - Woodsy animals don't need any of the marketing hooey to know what Christmas is. A natural setting with beautiful illustrations, too.

3.) Allie, the Christmas Spider by Shirley Menendez
4.) Cork & Fuzz: Merry Merry Holly Holly by Dari Chaconas
5.) Just Right for Christmas by Birdie Black
6.) Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits
7.) How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan
8.) A Unicorn Named Sparkle's First Christmas by Amy Young
9.) Dream Snow by Eric Carle
10.) Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas by Julia Rawlinson
11.) Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood
12.) Snow by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman
13.) Snow by Uri Shulevitz
14.) Snow by Sam Usher
15.) Tacky's Christmas by Helen Lester
16.) Santa is Coming to Washington by Steve Smallman
17.) How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace & Andy Elkerton
18.) Olivia and the Christmas Present adapted by Farrah McDoogle
19.) Guess Who's Coming to Santa's for Dinner? by Tomi DePaola
20.) The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long
21.) Toot & Puddle: Let It Snow by Holly Hobbie

22.) BabyMouse: Skater Girl by Jennifer Holm

23.) Christmas at Gate 18
24.) A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas by Maisey Yates
25.) Snowed in with the Cowboy by Maisey Yates
26.) Snowbound with the Boss by Maureen Child

Good-read meter: 1 - Where are all the other great Christmas reads this year?

* This is a list in motion, growing with the days of December. More coming soon!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Book Announcement: Blackout Poetry & Doodle Art

Hot off the Espial Design House press...twins! Please welcome my latest additions: two books compiling a selection of blackout poems and doodle art. Done! Uploaded! And available on Amazon in two versions: ebook and paperback.

Wow...that felt good to say, because it's been a long and convoluted journey, from holding an original poem in my hand to getting it scanned, sized, transferred, placed, saved, and ready for sharing. 

The little books are finally they are:

Blackout Poetry & Art

Blackout Poetry & Art

"Our family has grown by two...!"
Two books and one hundred twenty pages, that is.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Nanowrimo 2018

Here we go again, on the brink between All-Hallows Eve and All Saints Day, that place where writers sit poised for the strike of midnight. Once November hits, fingers will fly across the keyboard, adding one word at a time, until there are 50,000 or more. You guessed it...NanoWrimo season.

I'm starting a new book in a new genre: YA fantasy. I've got my title and cover all sorted out because The Nano-ists say having a good, solid start is key to staying motivated. True. I want to see this thing done! It's been on my mind for a year, and now I'm pushing a lumpy, old project to the side in favor of something exciting where cell phones in a contemporary world won't get in my way, only sea monsters and a brackish king...

Candy Crush meets Lord of the Flies

This year's official Nanowrimo banner is cute, and I would have used it if I didn't already have one. But part of my "get motivated" event prep is to create a banner. This time I was inspired by my blackout poem called, Love Connection. It's the cover image of a compilation I'm going to publish soon. More on that later!

Official NaNoWriMo Banner

The ESPIALdesign Participation Banner, 2018

For now, focus! And good luck to all the participating writers out there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Currently: Inspired by Grandma's Bookshelf

Two years ago, I hung the hardware and had boards cut for a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in the basement, something similar to what my grandma had in her loft. A place to hold board games, toys, and more importantly, a collection of books: travel, classics, sci-fi, young adult, etc...

When I was a kid, I would spend hours perusing my grandma's bookshelf. She was a teacher in Montana who taught multiple grades in a one-room school house. She had all kinds of books...old miniature ones bound in leather with wispy thin paper. Books about music, history, teaching. In front of her bookshelf, tucked away in the loft, always seemed like a magical place. No matter how often I was there, scanning book spines, reading and studying the pictures, playing with the old toys--relics from my dad's, my aunt, and my uncles' past--I always managed to find something new. I would ask myself, How long has this been here? Why didn't I notice it before?

For no particular reason, other than the summer weather, I finally got around to the task of making the pine shelves shiny and new with sand paper, stain, gloss, and a bit of elbow grease. I put my books in a semblance of genre order as best I could and made room for all those Legos...

Sand Job

Stained, Glossed, Stocked and Loaded

Middle Grade Shelf

When all was said and done, I stood back to admire my handiwork and was transported to a magical place once again. Those shelves not only hold my books and toys, but part of my grandma's, too, along with her memories. Her stuff is old and funny...and just weird. I think my aunt's doll says it all...

"I'm happy!"

"I mean, I'm sad."

"Wait, I'm confused."
The third face is peacefully asleep, thank goodness.

Little and Leather-Bound
Grandma's tiny address book, her mom's bible (1892), and a dictionary (1914)

"Work, Dick. Work, work."
The good ol' days when learning to read was funny, but not fun.


 "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." ~ C.S. Lewis

Friday, August 31, 2018

September Reading Challenge: The PBS Book List

The Public Broadcast System (PBS) created a list called "America's 100 Most-Loved Books" and were asking readers to vote for favorites. I perused their page and counted thirty-eight that I've read, listened to, or even watched and found several that were on my TBR pile. Guess now's as good a time as any to push those to the top for September's Reading Challenge: The PBS Book List

Great American Reads
September Reading Challenge: The PBS Book List

1.) I'm not much for sci-fi stories, except for the occasional movie, even though we have a shelf full of Le Guin, Asimov, Herbert and more. That's my husband's genre, and he'll cry tears of joy when he sees me open up this book: Dune by Frank Herbert

2.) A librarian friend sent me The Help by Kathryn Stockett with a note tucked inside. It said, "I thoroughly enjoyed this book."

3.) Lots of people raved about the plot twist in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and even with a movie out and 44,000 reviews on Amazon, I still don't know what the fuss is about. Perhaps that will change this month.

4.) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was referenced frequently at a writing conference I attended a couple years ago as an example of good writing. Color me curious.

5.) I've read two of John Green's books and am hoping I can get through a third. I'm sorry to admit, the struggle is real. Hopefully, Looking for Alaska by John Green will change all that, especially since it's a Printz Award winner, hosting a big gold sticker. *bling-bling*


"So many books, so little time!"

Friday, August 10, 2018

Busting Out of My Writing Funk

For two and a half years I've been thinking about, making notes on, and writing Book #3. I can't believe it's been so long, and I STILL haven't written the ending. I'm currently three or four chapters from calling it a done draft, but with so many changes and edits weighing on my mind it's hard to push forward. I feel like I don't know what my characters want anymore. I've lost sight of the story and where it needs to go from here.

I consulted the Magic 8 ball on wether I should set the story aside and start something new--but what if I never finish it?--or push, push, push to get it written. It gave me the Reply Hazy routine...again. Then, my neighbor stopped by to see how everything was going and suggested I forget about the manuscript for awhile. Was she telling me what the universe wanted me to know? But I'm so close! Just three measly chapters...

I should be able to do this, right? Yes, because I read You're a Badass, by Jen Sincero, and she said so. Ha!

I've always had a problem with procrastination, being a sloth, and tinkering with a million other projects, that I'm my own worst enemy, getting in the way of my own priorities. After reading, The Road Back to You, an Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, I found out my personality type is straight-up a #9, The Peacemaker. Wow. Sort of hard to ignore my bad habits when this book puts them right there on the page in black on white.


I have to prevail! It's in me to finish this thing no matter what people say or what obstacles I put in my own way (a kitchen update, painting shelves, weeding my yard, making up reading challenges, organizing my camper, designing new business cards, blackout poems, and on and on...)'s my latest attempt to keep myself on track: a visual motivator! During the year I'll see how much writing I've been doing, and being a list-maker and a box-checker, I'll be poised and ready with my pink marker. 

Visual Motivation!

August had a sloth-like start, but the visual motivator is working! I was tired of all the purple squares (zero words written), so I put my butt in the chair and pumped out about five hundred words of crap today, but it's something! It's forward motion. Getting the writing done early in the morning leaves plenty of time for all the other distractions. Now I just need to keep up the good work.

Go me!

"I don't want to fall back on anything. If I'm going to fall, I want to fall forward." ~ Denzel Washington 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

August Reading Challenge: Summer Camp

The Camping TBR Pile

I know, I know! I'll never get through all these books in a month, but I couldn't stop at my usual list of five. Every back blurb about summer camp I read, I fell in love with; it's one of my favorite tropes. So, while my own kids are off enjoying themselves, weaving beads onto necklaces, swimming, tromping through the woods, and making new summer friends, I'll be picking through my towering book pile and delving into some fun of my own.

I consider myself an avid romance reader, and even I can't comprehend how I've never picked up a Debbie Macomber book. Here goes with:

1.) Almost Paradise by Debbie Macomber - Romance

I bought the next two books at Costco and am going to buddy read, then swap with one of my kids. She reads fast; I read slow. Should be interesting.

2.) Lions & Liars by Kate Beasley - Middle Grade

3.) Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder - Middle Grade

A while ago, I picked up a book called Camp Dorks, only to realize it was the second in a series. So now, I have to read this so I can read the other. Oh, what a complicated book world this is!

4.) Pack of Dorks (Pack of Dorks #1) by Beth Vrabel - Middle Grade

Okay, so I did a search on "summer camp" and discovered there are not five, not ten, not even twenty...but twenty-five books in this series! Prolific much?

5.) Natalie's Secret (Camp Confidential #1) by Melissa J. Morgan - Middle Grade

I'm done staring at this awesome cover from afar. Went in for the kill, library-style.

6.) When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - Young Adult

I love camping! I love summer! I love this cover!

7.) The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane - Young Adult

Cute cover and over a hundred five-star reviews on Amazon. Okay, I'll bite.

8.) Sleepaway Girls (Whispering Pines #1) by Jen Calonita - Young Adult

Summer camp for adults? Yes, please. Now try saying "Firefly Falls" three times fast. Not sure how the alliteration came to pass, but I found these ebooks free on Amazon and thought they rounded out the pile nicely.

9.) Once Upon a Camp Fire (Camp Firefly Falls "Meet Cute") by Kait Nolan - Romance

Firefly Falls...flier fry falls...friar fly

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Camping Creatively

The Creative Pile

Whenever I'm out and about, I always carry something from my creative stash shown above, wether it's my computer, a journal and a pen, or my blackout poetry bag. When the creative mood strikes, I want to be ready, and it keeps me being one happy camper. Sometimes I look forward to the oil change taking a little longer than expected, or a friend who's consistently late to coffee. My time isn't being wasted, it's still my own because I've got my stuff.

Currently, we're gearing up for a week of lakeside camping and part of my packing routine is to cobble the pile shown above into a nice, neat little package to stow in the trailer. Stuff meet the Tetris Queen.


1.) Writing - computer and journal
2.) Story time - audio books for the road trip, paperbacks, and my Kindle in case of insomnia 
3.) Blackout poetry - old book pages, colored pencils, sharpener, and an eraser
4.) Rock painting - acrylic paints, Mod Podge, and paint brushes
5.) Heart book marks - paper, glue, and scissors
6.) Editing - critiques from writing partners 

Portable Magic

Too bad the sewing machine doesn't fit! Lol. Regardless...if there is a burst of creative energy, I'm ready.

"You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will." ~ Stephen King

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Sharing Books with Little Free Libraries

Road Trip!
Montana Bound

I took my kids on an adventure to the Flathead Valley last week, which was my first trip driving The Narwhal and pulling our little Jayco trailer. I packed several copies of Dealing with Blue and Riding with the Hides of Hell--now titled Burnout--to tuck onto free shelves as I found them, in a sort of quiet marketing kind of way. The first shelf I came across was in the office at the campground where we stayed. I asked if I could donate my books to their reading nook and they were all for it, so I was off to a good start.

LaSalle RV Park
Columbia Falls, MT

Free Library 
West Kalispell

When I came across this little house full of books, free standing on the street corner (above), I remembered reading about Little Free Libraries and decided to look up the Kalispell zip code 59901 to see where others might be located.

East Kalispell

East Kalispell

East Kalispell

I had so much fun searching for these little houses, tucking a book inside, and taking pictures that I wish I had a lot more books and a lot more time! It was like leaving Easter eggs filled with good vibes around town. 


"Take a book. Share a book."~ Free Little Library

Sunday, July 01, 2018

July Reading Challenge: Independence

July Reading Challenge: Independence
Indie Authors, Indie Books

I don't have too many physical indie books on my shelf to take pictures of since most of them are on my Kindle. So for a good five-book photo layout, I shamelessly included my own books:

1.) Dealing with Blue by Stacia Leigh


2.) Burnout by Stacia Leigh

The next book in the photo is a gift from my mom, a romance by a local indie-author from Oregon. Westerns aren't one of my go-to genres, but I'm willing to give it a chance:

3.) South of Wisdom by Edith Webster

Apparently, my mom is a big proponent of independently published books, because she also bought her grandkids a detective series for the young set. I read the first one and liked onto number two:

4.) Blondie McGhee: Hidden in Plain Sight by Ashley Eneriz

And then there's the book with a man's chest on the cover and the word "naked" in all caps...color me interested:

5.) The NAKED Truth About Self-Publishing by The Indie Voice

Now, onto the digital world where I have a ton of books that I bought early on and have never read. The first two that popped up on my Kindle made it onto this month's TBR pile:

6.) Angelfall by Susan Ee

7.) My Heart for Yours by Steph Campbell


"I didn't get here by dreaming or thinking about it. I got here by doing it." ~ Estée Lauder

Friday, June 15, 2018

Business Card Stamp

I decided to make a business card stamp so I could use it to on various papers and incorporate my information into handcrafted corner bookmarks, which I will do *someday* soon. I went to Etsy and found SayaBell Stamps where the transaction couldn't have been easier. It shipped pretty quickly, too. 

Stacia Leigh
Teen stories with flirt, grit, and small town fun

Say what?
SayaBell Stamps

The stamp details are engraved in the wood "handle" and came in a cloth pouch. Just wonderful. A great experience all around.

For a quick stamp test and photo shoot, I cut a couple of old Dealing with Blue proof covers down into 3.5 x 2" cards and stamped away. I love the recycled aspect of these cards! They have a nice feel to them as well.