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Monday, December 28, 2015

Best Books of the Year and What's to Come in 2016

It's been a great year. I won a prize for flash fiction, got seriously started on my editing business, released Unpredictable Worlds and received some recognition for it, released Tree/House in audiobook, spent ten gorgeous and hard-earned days in Spain, took part in Launch Lab, made it safely to my new home, and had Seven Noble Knights accepted for publication, to name just a few of the best events.

I also read quite a few good books. Which were the best?

That's really not a fair question in the year when the grand finale of a trilogy I have passionately, unreasonably adored came out.

The Map of Chaos by Félix J. Palma

Which book is best is hardly fair in light of another fact: this one is the manifestation of a historical novel I hoped would materialize some day to dramatize the life of Queen Emma for this Anglo-Saxon enthusiast.

The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell

So there you have it, the best novels (in my humble opinion) of 2015. The best nonfiction book was undoubtedly La nación inventada by Arsenio and Ignacio Escolar. I enjoyed this book more than I expected to (which is saying a lot) and will probably tell you more about it in future posts.

The year 2016 will see the debut of my darling Seven Noble Knights, so many of my resolutions have something to do with getting it into the limelight as much as possible. I also plan to draft the sequel this year. You didn't know Seven Noble Knights was going to have a sequel? It's a pleasant surprise for all of us! For those of you waiting patiently for more of my unusual contemporary work, I've resolved to get Awash in Talent published this year. More on that soon, for sure. In my personal life and "day job," I've got a lot to do to make this latest move make sense. In the meantime, if you need an editor for your awesome novel, call on me.

Vague as they seem, these are my professional resolutions, leaving room for the surprises that always seem to crop up.

What are your plans for 2016? Happy new year!

A selection of some of the other best books of 2015:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Along the Far Shores by Kristin Gleeson

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Mermaids in Paradise  by Lydia Millet

Raven Brought the Light by Kristin Gleeson

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet

Monday, December 21, 2015

Retracing Our Steps

As you'll note in the video above, it sounds better in Spanish: Volveré sobre mis pasos. I'm going to retrace my steps. 

Since I'm in my beloved New England now, you might think the next step would be Pennsylvania, where my husband and I moved from Massachusetts in 2010 to accept a job. No, we're skipping that formality and heading straight to the unavoidable: Arizona. 

The first time we went to Arizona, there was little purposeful about it. It was a desperate move to keep us from insolvency and to help my bereaved sister-in-law. 

Looking back, we actually liked quite a bit about living there, even though while we were there, we never tired of dreaming of getting out. This time, our move to Arizona is full of purpose. I intend to reconnect with people I still know there and get some of that desert mojo that was so productive for my writing before. 

Connecting with people is the most important thing, not location. 

Other things to look forward to in Arizona:
Great Mexican food
The Tucson Festival of Books
Coyote and bobcat sightings
Et cetera...

I discovered long ago that there are no guarantees, especially where location is concerned. But here's to intentionality.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time.         —T. S. Eliot

Monday, December 14, 2015

In the Presence of Greatness

I was honored and excited to be accepted into this little thing called Launch Lab.

I can't believe it's over. I know so much now that I never expected to discover. I had a lot of information before Launch Lab, but this program gave me the tools to sort through the information and think critically about what will work for Seven Noble Knights. Today is T minus one (leap) year and one day, or 367 days before the launch date for Seven Noble Knights, so I have just about enough time to plan.

Massive added bonus: I got to meet and share in some of the joys and sorrows of some excellent authors. In Launch Lab, we talked a bit about making ourselves seem like "regular people." Yes, we do want to seem approachable. But this group was made up of anything but regular people. There were so many accolades and so much talent in the room, I'm surprised we all fit. But we did, because everyone was so down-to-earth. I'm so proud to work with them! With me in Launch Lab 2015 were:

Moderator/Expert/Consultant Lynne Griffin is the author of the novels Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster) and Life Without Summer (St. Martin’s Press), and the nonfiction parenting guide, Negotiation Generation (Penguin). She has just launched the harrowing novel Girl Sent Away and the nonfiction companion Let's Talk About It: Adolescent Mental Health. For more about Lynne’s work, visit her website, or her blog, Field Guide to Families.

Moderator/Expert/Consultant Katrin Schumann is the co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children and Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too. Current works-in-progress include a novel of psychological suspense, a book on parenting strategies that can make or break affluent children, and ongoing editorial work for editors, agents and writers. For more info, check out her website and join the conversation on Twitter: @katrinschumann

Katie Bayerl's young adult novel, A Psalm for Lost Girls, will be published by Penguin/Putnam in spring 2017. Find her online at @katiebayerl, Facebook/katiebayerl, and

Jennifer S. Brown is the author of the novel Modern Girls (NAL/Penguin, April 5, 2016), which is already getting some buzz as a most anticipated debut novel of 2016. Find her at, on Twitter @j_s_brown, and on Facebook at authorjennifersbrown. The novel is on Goodreads.

Lindsay Hatton's evocative emotional history of the West Coast's most famous aquarium, Monterey Bay, will be released by Penguin Random House in July 19, 2016. The novel is on Goodreads.

Freelance journalist and meditation instructor Rick Heller is the author of Secular Meditation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion, and Joy – A Guide from the Humanist Community at Harvard, which has already launched from New World Library.

Maile Hulihan is the author of the hilarious series Trinity of Bitches, the first book of which is due out in November 2016. You can find her on Twitter @MaileHulihan,, or Facebook.

Katherine Ozment's first book, Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age, will be published by HarperWave June 21, 2016. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@katherineozment), or her website: The book is at Goodreads.

Marian McMahon Stanley's The Immaculate will be launched by Barking Rain Press in May 2016. To learn more, visit her website, or Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @mjs_mysteries. The novel is at Goodreads.

I have it on good authority (having heard synopses and excerpts) that each of these books is worth a read and even a pre-order. Not a bad start to a To Be Read pile.

Seven Noble Knights is also at Goodreads. It's a great idea to add it to your To Read list so you can get notifications of publication and possible giveaways.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Like to Listen?

It's here! Every audiophile's dream. Tree/House, the strange little novella that inspires everyone who reads it, now comes to you via the lively professional talent of Melissa Moran.

It's available on iTunes, Audible, and Amazon. Click on the links to find compelling audio samples.

If I may say, it's priced very reasonably for this much imagination and creative talent (the voice artist's). And yet, there are a couple of ways you can get it for no money at all.

1. Contact me (in a comment here or at Facebook or Twitter) for a free download code from Audible! I would, of course, love it if you enjoyed Tree/House in audio and left a review after using one of the limited number of codes I have available. The important thing is to enjoy it.

2. Join Audible's first month free and make sure Tree/House is the first book you download. If you love audiobooks, you'll want to keep your subscription for only $14.95 a month. That charge includes one audiobook per month and 30% off additional ones. If you remain a member in good standing for 61 days (three months) after you get Tree/House as your first download, I get a special bounty payment. This is the option for you if you love to listen to books and want to give yourself (and me) an amazing gift.

Having Tree/House brought to life in this way has been a dream come true. I've personally listened to it all and am amazed at how well it's turned out. But it has cost me a significant amount of money to produce. Like everyone I know, I work very hard for the small amount of money I earn, so this was a big decision. I hope I have some avid reader supporters to help me get back my investment. Every download helps! Really. Thank you.

If you prefer to read it and interpret it for yourself, a new edition of Tree/House is also available in many electronic and print venues.
Kindle • iBooks • Nook • Kobo • Smashwords • Inktera • Blio • Many other ebook retailers • Softcover • Softcover Indiebound • Softcover Amazon •  Softcover Barnes and Noble • Request it at your local library or bookstore