Books I Read in March

Saturday, March 28, 2020

This month it seemed as if I was always reading something in a frantic hurry to get through one more book, but looking back, I read very little fiction. Some of my reading was devotionals, some historical research for my mysteries, some articles about the coronavirus.

I also read the instructions to fill out my 1040, but no one wants to hear about that. LOL

Without further ado, here are the novels I read this month:

Personal Solicitor (Tyler Kane Legal Thriller Book 1)
By Michael Pickford

Too much description, but much important information is left out. This book has gotten rave reviews, so I thought I’d give it a try, but it’s not for me.

Fury (End Times Alaska Book 4)
By Craig Martelle

After a disappointing third book in this series, the fourth and final book delivers.

After wading my way through two slow reads and totally giving up on a third by three different authors recently, I decided to give End Times Alaska another chance. I loved the first two books in the series and hoped the third was an aberration. I'm glad to report I was correct.

This book has plenty of action and plenty of heart. Chuck Nagy faces numerous challenges to overcome in this book, not the least of which is getting over the death of his wife, Madison. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Chuck emerges stronger than ever, with a lot of help from family and friends.

It was just the thing I needed to read while sitting out the social distancing from the coronavirus.

Saddled with Death (Emma Berry Murray River Mystery Book 0)
By Irene Sauman

An interesting historical mystery that takes place on an Australian ranch.

I read this book at the request of the author. I didn’t realize it was a prequel, which explains some of the weaknesses in this novella.

Primarily, there are so many characters we’re introduced to right from the beginning. I found it hard to remember who each of them was until later in the story. There are also long sections of backstory which don’t necessarily add to the mystery.

Authors frequently write this kind of story as they get to know the bones of their series. In a way, my own Unsafe Harbor was one of those stories, but it turned out longer than I expected and so became book one instead of a free bonus.

I definitely enjoyed the setting and the taste of armchair travel. And Emma is an engaging heroine with a romantic dilemma that I’m sure will get worse before it gets better.

I do plan on reading book one of this series.

Progress on The Case of the Angry Artist

Saturday, March 21, 2020
Cozy up with Christian Fiction

In this weekly blog, I usually report on my writing progress. Let’s just say it has been slow. I’m spending too much time on Facebook and too much time on watching news updates about the coronavirus.

I’m also ahead of schedule with The Case of the Angry Artist, the next in my Strong and Wade Mysteries series. I finished the revisions I needed to make after my beta readers read the book. They had a lot of good points!

Next is putting the manuscript through AutoCrit, an editing program, then reading it aloud. Hearing the words as I read them not only highlights typos I’ve made, but also calls attention to awkward sentences. If my tongue stumbles over something as I read it, I try to rephrase whatever it is that’s causing the problem.

I’d love to put this book up for pre-order, but there are a few problems with doing that right now. The biggest is coming up with the book description or, as Dean Wesley Smith calls it, fiction sales copy. I got fairly good at copywriting with my African Violet Club series because I was doing it regularly. Now that I’ve taken a year off from doing anything like that, it feels like starting over again.

Writing a book description is very different from writing the book. The whole idea of selling myself or my work doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve been working on collecting the descriptions from books in the same genre this week. Hopefully, on Monday, I’ll be able to work out the one for The Case of the Angry Artist.

The other “problem” is that I decided to contract with a cover designer for the covers for this series. While I rather like the cover for Unsafe Harbor, I’ve spent days, maybe weeks, trying to do a similar cover for Angry Artist. I still don’t like what any of my attempts looks like. Rather than spending more time creating a mediocre cover, I thought it would be better to pay someone to do it for me. The cover designer will start working on that the second week in April.

With any luck, I’ll get all the pieces put together so you can pre-order The Case of the Angry Artist by the end of April.

Meanwhile, I’ve joined nineteen other authors in a promotion to give away our Christian Fiction books. In thinking about what we might do to help in these trying times, the obvious answer was give away books to people practicing social distancing by staying at home.

I’ve made Faith, Hope, and Murder, the first book in my Community of Faith Christian mystery series, free for this promotion. It’s been rocketing up the free charts all week. You can get your copy by clicking here.

But hurry! The promo ends Sunday, March 22, 2020.

Coronavirus Panic

Friday, March 13, 2020
woman using hand sanitizer

I’m having a hard time understanding the panic over the coronavirus. Maybe it’s the perspective of age. Life used to be a lot more dangerous than it is now. Other than the danger from the hate of our fellow citizens.

When I was growing up, there were a whole slew of “childhood diseases”—measles, chicken pox, mumps, German measles (yeah, named after a country)—that most children had. We only had two vaccines, DPT, which stood for diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus, and smallpox. The only way to get immunity from the others was to have the disease and survive it. No one I knew died from any of them.

I managed to get chicken pox and measles at the same time, long after most of my friends had survived those two separately. I was pretty sick, out of it, maybe delirious, for three days. But then my fever broke and my biggest concern was that I was going to miss The Lone Ranger on TV. My mother promised to put it on, but only if I kept my eyes closed. I promised her I would just listen to it, but after she left the room, I did take a couple of peeks.

Yeah, when you got the measles, supposedly you could go blind from bright light. You were kept in a dark room, and my eyes, at least, got glued closed by some crusty stuff.

One of my friends got scarlet fever, a rarer and more dangerous disease. She was kept isolated in her bedroom. Fortunately, she was the only girl of five children, so she already had her own bedroom while her brothers shared one. She, too, recovered. Neither of us went to a hospital.

My biggest fear was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nikita Khrushchev had placed Russian missiles 90 miles off our coast, with the cooperation of Fidel Castro, the dictator who controlled Cuba.

All throughout my elementary school days, we’d had “duck and cover” drills, where they announced a nuclear bomb was headed our way, and we should dive under our desks and cover our heads. (Like that would do any good.) In junior high, this changed to going out in the hallway, sitting down facing the walls, and covering our heads. So this imminent threat was all too real.

We’d all grown up knowing about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, seen newsreel clips about the devastation afterwards, so we were fairly certain a nuclear attack wasn’t something we’d survive. I lived in a constant state of fear.

Fortunately, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved without using weapons.

I’ve faced other dangers in my life, and I’m still here, relatively healthy, with a roof over my head, food to eat, and my cats to cuddle with.

One thing I have realized over the past week is that I’m no longer afraid to die. I kept hearing how the people most at risk were those over sixty and those with underlying health problems. My first thought was that sixty wasn’t so old. I’m seventy-two. This was followed by, “Wait. They’re talking about me!”

I turned that thought over in my mind for a while. Apparently, my odds of dying from coronavirus are higher than average. I don’t feel more vulnerable. But suppose I did catch coronavirus and die? Okay, I’ll go to heaven.

I stopped and said that last to myself again. I’ll go to heaven.

I’ve had a lot of doubts about religion in my life. Even now, when I go to church and say the ancient words and sing the hymns, I wonder if I really believe everything I’ve been taught, if I’m a good-enough Christian to qualify for eternal salvation.

But deep inside me, I do believe I’ll go to heaven when I die, which is a good place to be. So maybe it isn’t age that makes me unafraid during a pandemic. Maybe it’s the faith I didn’t even realize I had.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
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A Clash of Kings
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