On the Shores of Tregalwen

Whenever I write a review, whether I thoroughly enjoyed the story or not, I try to leave out as many spoilers as possible. Knowing that will not always be possible, I’ll still do my best to refrain from spoiling such things as climaxes, twists and the like. Who wants a book completely ruined before you even try it for yourself?

Touted by Amazon as “a swoony award winner,” this story is an introductory novella to a series of romances set in Cornwall, England. It follows our two MCs, Hannah Summerfield and Thomas Causey, as they navigate and explore their feelings for one another. I’ll begin this review with complete honesty: I find Ms. Hathaway’s books to be very hit-or-miss when it comes to the stories themselves. There is absolutely nothing amiss with grammar or structure.

As this isn’t the first I’ve read of the series, I already knew some of what to expect. The only thing I found lacking was a little bit more adventure. But then again, I’m always looking for more adventure in my reads. The best modern comparison would have to be any novel by Nicholas Sparks. It’s most definitely a feel-good-when-you’re-down kind of read. This book takes place before BEHIND THE LIGHT OF GOLOWDUYN; a tale I enjoyed more than this novella.

Everything in TREGALWEN wraps up neatly, if not a bit rushed. And, if I may say, there is such a thing as a romance that’s a bit too sweet, a bit too predictable. If you’re looking for a HEA (happily ever after), then certainly give TREGALWEN a read. The four stars are for location, well built characters, and tight plotting. Minus one star for a noticeable POV issue along the way. Finally, if you like something with a tad bit more adventure, then BEHIND THE LIGHT OF GOLOWDUYN may just be the tale for you.

SYNOPSIS:
Cornwall, 1815
When her estranged mother beckons her to London, Hannah Summerfield has no choice but to answer her call. Forced to leave behind her peaceful life in Cornwall, she bids farewell to the seaside, her grandparents—and her childhood sweetheart, Thomas. She becomes subdued at once by Society’s rigid rules and her mother’s censure, and when Thomas’s letters unexplainedly stop, she is left to wonder if she ought to embrace her new life in Town after all. But when her mother pressures her to accept an unwanted proposal, Hannah cannot help but flee to the one place she has ever called home—to the only boy she has ever loved.

After three years apart, Thomas Causey has all but given up hope of Hannah ever returning to Cornwall, fearing she has fallen in love with another. But when she appears on his doorstep, soaked through with rain and covered in mud, he allows himself to long once more for a future with the woman he still loves.

However, Thomas quickly realizes that Hannah is not who she was before. She has left London for a reason—a reason he cannot uncover. He longs for the truth they once so easily shared, but Hannah must first find the courage to rediscover herself—and what her heart truly desires.

This is a prequel novella for the clean and sweet Regency Cornish Romance series by Deborah M. Hathaway.
Although this friends to more romance is a stand-alone novella, the books are best enjoyed when read in order.


Change is Coming

There are many types of bloggers out here on the interwebs, and I’m still finding my footing. Even after all these years of blogging, writing, and blogging about writing. I used to think I wanted to, one day, become a published writer, but I’ve come to understand something about myself: I’m really not all that disciplined to do so.

As I’ve got multiple failed attempts under my belt – from Project Firedamp in 2016 to Project Star and Sea most recently in 2020 – publication is no longer a viable path for me. I’ve failed at so many short story attempts it’s not even funny. I’ve failed at consistently posting web story series. I’ve failed at completing any manuscript on my hard drive.

Because of this decision, my website will undergo a transformation. Let me go ahead and answer a few questions you may already have: yes, I’ll still be reading. Yes, I’ll still blog about life, books, history, and writing stuff. No, I’m not disappearing for good. Things are just…changing. And never before would I have personally accepted or attempted this change if I didn’t feel it was a good direction to go in.

Now, mind you, I’m no expert in reviewing books. I’ve tried doing them on my site in the past, but I realized, very quickly, that I was only reviewing books that disappointed me. How biased is that? So I’ll be taking another look at how I’ll do so moving forward. I’m also going to try expanding my reading habits, though I know I’ll always revert back to my favorite genres.

Look for changes in the coming days, weeks, months, years. Because change is coming to anotherhartmanauthor.com. Including this site’s link. Authorship may no longer be my goal in life, but if I can help others achieve their dreams, then why not use this visibility to do so?


ANNOUNCEMENT // HFChitChat

Happy Tuesday! I know it’s been a short while since I last posted anything on here, but I just wanted to take a moment to share some exciting news. Later this month, I shall be joining the likes of Janna G. Noelle, Sydney Young and Gabriella Saab to co-host this month’s #HFChitChat!

Even though my current work-in-progress is a fantastical science fantasy series, my heart will always belong with historical fiction. My current problem is that I really want to combine all my favorite genres in one super long tale.

I am so totally NOT qualified to write that idea!

Sometimes I also wonder at my qualifications to write or even discuss historical fiction at all, or write in general. But enough about my self-doubt. Let’s move on.

The chat I’ll be co-hosting with the lovely ladies of HFChitChat will take place on Tuesday, April 27th at 9:00 PM EST. Topic: TBA. So if you came looking to see what the topic will be, you’ll not find that here. Gotta leave some suspense!

If you’d like to learn more about a couple of my co-hosts, I’ve actually interviewed both Janna and Gabriella over on my Author Interviews page. I hope you’ll check those out, and that you’ll join us on the 27th for our next historical fiction discussion.


Five Question Interview Series // The 2021 Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ~~ tax time! Okay, I jest. But I am glad 2021 is here, and that 2020 is finally over. Now that it’s January, it’s time to plan this year’s Five Question Interview series.

Every Wednesday from February through April, one interview a week will go up, highlighting a member of our writing community. From its inception, this interview series will always be short and sweet with a little bit of whimsy.

If you’ve never read any of them before, I’ll link a few below. Perhaps you’ll recognize a few names, or find some new connections (click their images to read their interviews):

John Taylor | author
Assaph Mehr | author

Plus many more including KM Weiland, Maria Tureaud, Beth Overmyer, Alex Donahue, Michelle Rascon and Jeni Carll-Tong.

Jessica Lewis | author
Paulette Kennedy | author

February’s filling up fast, but I still have slots available for March (3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st) and April (7th, 14th, 21st, 28th). You also don’t have to be an author. You can be a writer working on a new project, an editor, agent, publicist, or anyone else in the writing biz. Sky’s the limit! Please ignore the use of that oh-so-cliche phrase.

If you would like to be a part of this interview series – all correspondence done via email – please email me at anotherhartmanauthor@gmail.com.


The Alphabet Book Tag // A to Z, Literally!

Hello again fellow book lovers! As 2020 creeps ever closer to 2021, I’ve tried to stay off social media and slow down with blogging. In theory, this break was to encourage work on my novel series and curb procrastination.

Let’s just say I failed. Miserably.

The internet’s full of different types of Book Tags. Today’s blog post was inspired by one of my favorite YouTube channels, one Mrs. Jessica Braun. I’ve watched her videos for years, and a previous video of hers also inspired my Bookviews posts:

June ~ August ~ September

Jessica’s YouTube video was all about her favorite makeup products from different companies. I’ll embed it below if you’d like to give it a watch! But right after that will be my alphabetized list of books I’ve read between 2019 and 2020!

*note: none of the links are affiliate links. I shared just in case you wanted to read.

And now, the Books!

A: An Uncommon Woman
by Laura Frantz

Synopsis: Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa’s long-lost friend, Keturah, who disappeared from the settlement years earlier.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when circumstances force Clay’s hand–and heart–the stage is set for one very private and one very public reckoning.

Intense, evocative, and laced with intricate historical details that bring the past to life, An Uncommon Woman will transport you to the picturesque and dangerous western Virginia mountains of 1770.

B: Beauty
by Robin McKinley

Synopsis: Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in appearance, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with a tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must travel to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father insists that he will not let her go, but she responds, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

C: Captured by a Highland Pirate
by Lydia Kendall

Synopsis: Losing her husband was Grace Smith’s greatest sorrow in life. That, and trying to avoid betrothals to men she would never love, to save her life. Until a mysterious Highlander rescues her from damnation.

Alec MacNeil’s only love in life is the sea. A notorious pirate all across Scotland, he never keeps a penny he steals for himself. On his mission to steal the Viscount of Fortershire’s wealth, he ends up stealing something more: the heart of a beautiful Sassenach.

However, their dreams for a shared future are crushed when a letter arrives. A letter that not only calls for Alec to honor an old agreement for marriage but also gives him an ultimatum: his life or his entire clan. His home is under siege and the attackers won’t settle for anything less than killing everyone Alec loves.

D: Dreamer of Briarfell
by Lucy Tempest

Synopsis: Sleeping Beauty meets Robin Hood. Her soul will be lost forever, unless she wins the love of the noblest of men. Cursed in her cradle by a vengeful fairy queen, Princess Fairuza of Arbore thought her fate was secure in the hands of her betrothed — until he chose another as his bride.

After the last attempt to find another prince to save her fails, Fairuza’s world fades to black, and she awakens in a castle, unseen and unheard by all—then a thief breaks in, and sees her. But Robin Hood is no prince charming, and he’s leaving for Faerie, to save Maid Marian from the Wild Hunt. Seizing her last chance to find royals who can break her curse, she joins him and his Merry Men.

Once in Faerie, the Summer King puts them through deadly trials, in exchange for his hand and help. But as they struggle to survive, Fairuza begins to fade. The longer her soul remains detached from her body, the sooner their tie will be severed. As her time runs out, she finds herself falling in love with Robin, despite knowing that this would doom her forever…

E: Elite by Carrie Arrow

Both the book and synopsis are no longer available on Amazon

F: Forest of Firelight
by Shari L. Tapscott

Synopsis: After the sudden death of her brother, Princess Amalia is charged with what feels like an impossible task—she must choose the next king. Youthful thoughts of love are pushed aside as she accepts her fate, setting upon a quest throughout the kingdom to find a man worthy of her father’s throne.

Little does Amalia know, someone has already set his sights on her.

Rhys is a man of secrets, and his mission is simple: befriend the princess of Renove. Coax her to trust him, convince her to follow him. Betray her when it’s time.

All goes according to plan until Rhys meets the princess. Amalia is a disaster. Never has he met someone so drawn to trouble. Never has he met someone so irritatingly likable. He’s not allowed to fall for her.

She could never entrust him with a crown. But, unbeknownst to them, their unlikely partnership might be the key to saving their entire world from a darkness that’s slowly creeping from the wounded earth that separates one kingdom from the next.

G: Gangs and Outlaws of Western Pennsylvania
by Thomas White and Michael Hassett

Synopsis: The region played reluctant host to the likes of the infamous Biddle Boys, who escaped Allegheny County Jail by romancing the warden’s wife, and the Cooley Gang, which held Fayette County in its violent grip at the close of the nineteenth century. Then there was Pennsylvania’s own Bonnie and Clyde–Irene and Glenn–whose murderous misadventures earned the “trigger blonde” and her beau the electric chair in 1931. From the perilous train tracks of Erie to the gritty streets of Pittsburgh, authors Thomas White and Michael Hassett trace the dark history of the crooks, murderers and outlaws who both terrorized and fascinated the citizenry of western Pennsylvania.

H: The Hope of Azure Springs
by Rachel Fordman

Synopsis: Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

I: Images of America: Pittsburgh’s Bridges by Todd Wilson and Helen Wilson

Synopsis: Pittsburgh is the “City of Bridges,” and what remarkable bridges they are! The area’s challenging topography of deep ravines and mighty rivers – the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio – set the stage for engineers, architects, and contractors to conquer the terrain with a variety of distinctive spans. Many were designed to be beautiful as well as functional. While other cities may have one signature bridge, Pittsburgh has such a wide variety that no single bridge can represent it.

J: The Jewels of Halstead Manor by Kasey Stockton

Synopsis: When a cryptic invitation brings Giulia Pepper to her uncle’s remote estate in Devon, she arrives in dire need of a benefactor, only to discover that her uncle never sent her any invitation—nor does he want her there. Forced into a corner, Giulia must contrive a way to convince him to allow her to remain, just long enough to figure out where to go next.

Nicholas never asked for an earldom, but when an aged lord arrives at his door and tells Nicholas that he is next in line for the title, he willingly goes to Halstead Manor to learn the role. But someone isn’t pleased with the heir, and after a gunshot wound in the arm, Nicholas must discover who is out to get him.

When Giulia stumbles—literally—over a fallen man on the lane to Halstead, she has her answer: she can stay at Halstead and nurse her uncle’s heir back to health. But as mystery builds and danger mounts, will Giulia and Nicholas be able to solve the puzzle before the Earl forces Giulia to leave for good? And furthermore, can they manage to work together without losing their hearts in the process?

K: Killing Kate by Alex Lake

Synopsis: A serial killer is stalking your home town. He has a type: all his victims look the same. And they all look like you.

Kate returns from a post break-up holiday with her girlfriends to news of a serial killer in her home town – and his victims all look like her. It could, of course, be a simple coincidence.

Or maybe not.

She becomes convinced she is being watched, followed even. Is she next? And could her mild-mannered ex-boyfriend really be a deranged murderer?

L: The Lost Countess That Counted The Stars by Patricia Haverton

Synopsis: Merial Hanraham has no recollection of who she is. Found unconscious in a dinghy with nothing but a mysterious coffer, she is taken on board by a crew of British sailors heading to England.

Christopher Buckthorn, son of the Duke of Heyerdahl and proud captain of the “Valkyrie”, never expected to find a woman with no memories floating in the middle of the ocean. Especially not one as stunning as Merial.

Amidst old superstitions turning the crew against her and pirates constantly on their tail, Merial and Christopher must piece together the fragments of her returning memories.

And the key to the truth might just lie in a riddle carved on the mysterious coffer; a single word to unveil not only Merial’s true identity but also the name of the person hunting her…

M: Maiden in the Tower by Heidi Kimball

Synopsis: Lisette Hunt has been hidden away her entire life, with nothing but a large window up in the cottage turret to give her a glimpse of the outside world. Until Gerry Worthington stumbles into her garden in search of his runaway dog. 

As a second son, Gerry has never seen the need to take life too seriously. Less than pleased with his frivolity, his mother orders him to marry a woman of means and banishes him to his family’s small, rundown estate. Unfortunately, innocent and penniless Lisette is the very opposite of what he needs.

But Gerry cannot resist the mystery surrounding Lisette, and soon he can no longer resist Lisette and her endearing peculiarity. As Gerry slowly opens Lisette’s eyes to a larger world, she begins to open her heart to him. However, when Gerry uncovers the truth about who Lisette really is, it may cost them a chance at happiness together.

N: Neverland Falling by Brittany Fitcher (did not fully finish, but it’s the only one that began with an N!)

Synopsis: Wendy’s parents have finally chosen her prospective husband, and her world is falling apart. So when the mysterious, handsome Peter invites Wendy and her little brothers to run away to a place called Neverland, she accepts.

At first, Neverland is more wonderful than anything Wendy could have imagined. So are the variety of interesting characters who live there, from the Lost Boys to the mermaids to the fae to the misunderstood privateer, Captain Jay. But as time rolls on, Wendy realizes that growing up might not be so bad…if she had the right person to do it with. The only problem is that in Neverland, growing up is forbidden. And the farther she gets from childhood, the more she endangers them all.

Unfortunately, when the fae decide she’s gone too far, both Peter and Wendy must decide where their love and loyalty lie and how far they’re willing to chase it. For if they’re not careful, Neverland and everyone in it will fall.

O: The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Grey

Synopsis: The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook presents over 100 recipes that showcase the cookery and customs of the Crawley household—from upstairs dinner party centerpieces to downstairs puddings and pies—and bring an authentic slice of Downton Abbey to modern kitchens and Downton fans. 

Whether adapted from original recipes of the period, replicated as seen or alluded to on screen, or typical of the time, all the recipes reflect the influences found on the Downton Abbey tables. Food historian Annie Gray gives a rich and fascinating insight into the background of the dishes that were popular between 1912 and 1926, when Downton Abbey is set —a period of tremendous change and conflict, as well as culinary development.

With a foreword by Gareth Neame, executive producer and co-creator of Downton Abbey, and featuring over 100 stunning color photographs, The Downton Abbey Cookbook also includes a special section on hosting Downton-themed dinner parties and presents stills from across the TV series as well as the latest film. Notes on the etiquette and customs of the times, quotes from the characters, and descriptions of the scenes in which the foods appear provide vivid context for the dishes.

The recipes are grouped by occasion, which include breakfast; luncheons and suppers; afternoon tea and garden parties; picnics, shoots and race meets; festivities; upstairs dinner; downstairs dinner; downstairs supper and tea; and the still room.

P: Pittsburgh’s Streamlined Trolleys by Kenneth C. Springirth

Synopsis: Pittsburgh Streamlined Trolleys covers the history of the trolley car system that once had the third largest fleet of Presidents’ Conference Committee trolley cars in North America. Pittsburgh Railways Company was very innovative and constantly made design improvements in its trolley cars. This led to increased ridership, as these streamlined trolleys were quiet, fast, and had comfortable seating. With the increased use of automobiles, ridership declined. After the Port Authority of Allegheny County took over Pittsburgh Railways, most of the trolley routes were abandoned. However, a number of trolleys were refurbished with paint schemes that included psychedelic commercial advertising and community messages. The last runs of these trolleys occurred in 1999, and new light rail vehicles are now in service.

Q: The Fire Queen by Emily R. King (the only Q!)

Synopsis: Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.

But as Kalinda’s tournament strengths are once again challenged, so too is her relationship with Deven. While Deven fears her powers, Ashwin reveres them—as well as the courageous woman who wields them. Kalinda comes to regard Ashwin as the only man who can repair a warring world and finds herself torn between her allegiance to Deven and a newly found respect for the young prince.

With both the responsibility to protect her people and the fate of those she loves weighing heavily upon her, Kalinda is forced again to compete. She must test the limits of her fire powers and her hard-won wisdom. But will that be enough to unite the empire without sacrificing all she holds dear?

R: A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

Synopsis: Living in London’s poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins has little hope of a better life. When she’s offered an opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees. After witnessing so much painful heartache and loss in the slums, the bride ship is her only prospect to escape a bleak future, not only for herself but, she hopes, someday for her sister.

Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves home and takes to the sea in order to escape the pain of losing his family. As ship’s surgeon, he’s in charge of the passengers’ welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be. He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love.

With hundreds of single men congregating on the shore eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph lose their chance at true love, or will they be able to overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?

S: Shard of Glass by Emily Deady

Synopsis: Once she was a noblewoman. Now she is a palace servant. Ashlin never pictured herself scrubbing floors. But with the family savings depleted and her stepmother crippled by grief, Ashlin selflessly takes a job at the royal palace. She can pursue her dreams of becoming a seamstress someday in the future.

However, as she forms an unlikely friendship with the prince, she learns that the future may not be so certain. Wielders of a powerful magic threaten their small coastal kingdom and Prince Onric does not believe that their defenses will hold. 

As Ashlin navigates growing feelings for the charming prince, she realizes that her unique skills could help save the kingdom. But can she trust the charming prince or he is merely exploiting her selfless nature? 

Shard of Glass is a fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Discover a world where heroines can be both powerful and worthy of protection. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and heart-melting conversations, then this story was written for you.

T: Through The Eyes Of A Blind Duchess by Patricia Haverton

Synopsis: Locked away in her family’s estate for more than two decades, Aurelia Blackmore has resigned herself to a life of exile. Blinded in the same fire that killed her mother when she was young, marriage is not even a thought for her. Until the day her father announces her engagement to a man she has never met.

Donovan Harding, the Duke of Oakhampton, has suffered many losses, with his wife and his fortune sacrificed on the altar of an illness. With no good options left, he must marry again. But his new bride’s secret might be more than he can handle.

Tied together by the strings of his son’s violin, their marriage is a precarious one. When a fire claims her childhood home and a constable brings news of a murder, the strings begin to unravel. A familiar voice, awakening memories of her past, threatens to tear away all that she loves, just as it had the fateful night she lost her vision and her mother.

U: The Unlikely Chaperone by Dorothy Mack

Synopsis: At twenty-eight, Alexandra Farrish has no hopes of marrying. However, she vows to shepherd her beautiful but prickly younger sister, Didi, through a London season to help her secure a perfect match.

As expected, Didi soon becomes one of the season’s greatest successes, and even captures the interest of the Marquess of Malvern — one of London’s most eligible bachelors.

As one of the Farrish family’s most frequent visitors, the handsome marquess seems to be on the brink of making Didi an offer.

But as Alexandra spends more and more time in the company of their new friend, she begins to question her own feelings…

V: The Victorian Book of Cakes by T. Percy Lewis and A.G. Bromley

Synopsis: A treasure from the past, this book was originally published at the turn of the last century, during the heyday of cake-making, designed to be the standard work on cakes and confectionery. There are recipes for all kinds of traditional Victorian cakes, biscuits and cookies, petits fours, shortbreads, pound and slab cakes, gingerbreads, marzipan and nougat, as well as a multitude of fillings, icings and frostings. With notes on adapting the recipes for the modern kitchen, this nostalgic book will enchant all cake-makers.

W: A Worthy Rebel by Jody Hedlund

Synopsis: While fleeing an arranged betrothal to a heartless lord, Lady Isabelle becomes injured and lost. Rescued by a young peasant man, she hides her identity as a noblewoman for fear of reprisal from the peasants who are bitter and angry toward the nobility.

Cole Warwick cannot turn his back on a person in need and soon finds himself falling for Izzy, the gentle and beautiful runaway who is mending in his cottage. As the leader of an imminent uprising against the nobility, he tries to resist his growing feelings for Izzy to protect her from the dangerous life he’s chosen. But the longer she stays, the more he hopes she’ll never leave.When Izzy’s true identity is revealed, Cole feels betrayed.

With the rebellion underway, can Cole forgive Izzy and find a way to save her from an unhappy marriage? Or will he and his peasant army be destroyed before he has the chance to fight for the people and the woman he loves?

X: –

Y: –

Z: –

Whew! That was time consuming but a lot of fun! Can you tell I’ve got some very specific book interests? I love fairy tale retellings, some mystery and true crime, historical fiction, Regencies, romances, young adult, new adult and adult stories.

2020’s not over yet, so there’s still time to find some books with titles that begin with an x, y or z. I still think the list turned out pretty well. All titles were taken from the On My Bookshelf page here on my website.

Are you a book blogger? Or have an editing or authoring website? I challenge you to make your own list! Can you tell I’m a sucker for the classic damsel in distress trope?


Ten Days // Ten Books

Guess what? I’m on vacation! Since my trip to DC and the Library of Congress was cancelled earlier this year (which would’ve been an amazing trip, by the way), my family and I have decided to visit a town much closer to home for my birthday week.

Call me crazy if you like, but I’ve decided to try reading ten books in the ten days I’ve got off work for this trip. I may be a slow writer, but I’m most definitely a fast reader. Time, however, has gotten in the way of my ability to read down my pile.

I decided to give myself this challenge: ten days of vacation + ten books = ten more adventures I’ve yet to go on! Yesterday’s book, sadly, fell short of my expectations and I had to move it to the DNF (did not finish) list. I gave it more time than I should, hoping beyond hope that maybe some adventure would be included. That did not end up being the case.

So here are the ten books I’ll attempt to read while on vacation this week:

Saturday, Sept. 19

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Unfortunately I had to add INHERITING TROUBLE by Wendy May Andrews to my “Did Not Finish” list. As much as I want to get into Regencies, many of them are Romances, and I just haven’t found the right ones to fall in love with yet.

Sunday, Sept. 20

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m switching gears to read the next book in The Riven Kingdoms series by Shari L. Tapscott. I immediately wanted to know what happened to the two MCs when I finished Book One, not knowing then it’s part of a series.

Monday, Sept. 21

*This title has been added to my DNF list.

NEVERLAND FALLING by Brittany Fichter is the newest addition to my reading list, and I’m always game for a new fairy tale retelling. This one caught my eye because it’s based on Peter Pan, and I don’t read many of those.

Tuesday, Sept. 22

Okay, I lied. A MIDWINTER’S WEDDING by Melanie Cellier is the newest book to my list (having just added it because, well, book distractions). Cellier’s books are hit or miss for me, and I hope this is a hit!

Wednesday, Sept. 23

I got this title last year when I tried doing NetGalley (such a stressful place), but I’ve wanted to read this since then. So I kept it. Wednesday will be MURDER AT KENSINGTON PALACE by Andrea Penrose day!

Thursday, Sept. 24

I love KM Shea’s fairy tale retellings! I was sad when her series ended, but have been meaning to dive into her other series. So I’ll continue my read through of her stories with THE PRINCE’S BARGAIN, the third book in her Elves of Lessa series.

Friday, Sept. 25

A LADY MOST DANGEROUS by Caroline Hanson is next on the agenda for Friday, September 25th. I hope to at least start reading it, because we may go Cosmic Bowling that night! I’m quite ready for some time hopping shenanigans with this one.

Saturday, Sept. 26

To be completely honest, I’m not sure which book comes first, the previously mentioned one or A LADY OUT OF TIME, also by Caroline Hanson. I’ll figure it out when the, ahem, time comes!

Sunday, Sept. 27 (aka my birthday!)

From time travel to even more royalty vs. the lower class, I’m ready to read MAGICAL MISPERCEPTION by Suzanne Rogers. However unsure I am if this is a retelling or not, I know for a fact I’m looking forward to this story.

Monday, Sept. 28

It looks as though I’ll end my vacation with another Tapscott title – PIPPA OF LAURAMORE. I purchased this before SEA OF STARLIGHT, so I don’t know what’s taken me so long to read it. Better late than never, they say!

That’s a lot of variety, isn’t it? And a lot of books! Because I haven’t really been in a good state of mind to write as of late, I debated long and hard over if I should take my laptop on vacation with me or not. I think all I want are a few books, a notepad and no internet.

What are your reading goals for the week?


I Unplugged the Television For A Month. Here’s What Happened.

We humans make choices every day. Sometimes collectively, but mostly individually. We are creatures of habit and prefer sticking to our routines like flies on poo. Unless something dramatic happens and our simple pleasures suddenly disappear, we’ll follow that path indefinitely. I’m one of those creatures with a terrible case of procrastination.

Procrastination has truly had a profound impact on my writing (or lack thereof). Since this self-revelation, the one that showed me I proudly I wore that procrastination on my sleeve over the past few months, I’ve also come to realize how disappointed I am in myself. I’m writing, but blogging and working on other things. None of that work’s been directly connected to my manuscript.

Change. It’s such a short yet daunting word. One that us creatures of habit try to avoid as much as possible. I’ve worked retail and food service for fifteen years, so you’d think I’d have an easier time with it as change is so constant.

Then March 2020 came in the United States. A time when life changed life for us all. With everyone else indulging in Netflix, Disney+, and more social media than ever before, I wondered if it was time to finally conduct a no-television experiment. Let’s see what happened:

WEEK 1. April 1-11

You may wonder why this week is extra long. Honestly? Because I completely forgot about this experiment. But an organic change already happened during Week One, plus a few weeks before that, and I wouldn’t have noticed unless I hadn’t opened my Kindle. Apparently, less TV time equates to more book time. Imagine that!

It took a damp, drizzly March evening to get me to crack open a book for the first time in a while (one that wasn’t non-fiction), and my mouth dropped when I read its insights page. Of course it’s clear to you that I’ve never explored this function, and set a low reading goal for myself – to read twenty books in a year. 500 books in a year sounded like an absurd goal to start with. Better to set expectations low and work up!


WEEK 2. April 12-18

I used to have a huge “to be watched” list on my Netflix account. Now it’s down to two items – Merlin and a Korean drama called Mr. Sunshine. The only shows I have on repeat are old Star Trek series I can’t help but watch over and over again. It’s a simple thing, but they bring me joy.

I also used to religiously watch The Price is Right in the mornings, but even that annoys me now. Too many Type A personalities. So my TV remains turned off, and I’m slowly whittling down my “to be watched” on Netflix. But honestly? I’ve no desire to. Why? My focus has shifted completely back to books, writing, and learning more than ever before.


I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!

WEEK 3. April 19-25

Week three. Not only am I watching less television, even with the family, I’m watching less YouTube as well. Beauty community drama videos, kpop music videos, and old episodes of Judge Judy were constantly in my “Watch Later” list. Now it’s filled with more practical videos like organizing and new recipes to try.

Update 1: I’ve removed my subscription from several more channels. I’ve even removed many more shows from my Watch List on Netflix; I no longer have the desire to even start new ones.

Update 2: I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!


WEEK 4. April 26-30

By this week, I didn’t want to even turn on Netflix except for a few episodes of Star Trek here and there. You’d think, because I began my two weeks off work due to statewide pandemic mandates, that my viewership would increase. I’m pleased to report that it, in fact, went down. The majority of my entertainment now comes from, surprise surprise, actual books again. And I think that was the desired outcome of this experiment to begin with.

Whenever I find myself craving entertainment, my TBR (to be read) pile called my name. The only time I even look at a television now is after family dinner nights and The Masked Singer is on.

This last week is also the week I’ve worked more on my own novel series than I have in the past two months. “I don’t have time,” I’d say. When, in reality, I let my “procrastination” get in the way of real productivity.


There’s more to life than always airing your grievances on social media. There’s more to life than always being connected, on top of pop culture, or indulging in drama videos about people on YouTube you truly know nothing about.

Truth be told, this “experiment” began in late March. They say time changes habits, be they good or bad, and this past month certainly proved that to be true. Conclusion: television and media and other media outlets do not, should not, control your life. For the longest time I let it control mine, and I’m done complaining about political ads.

We all have it within us to write our own narratives. We don’t always have to keep to the status quo, especially if our life’s status quo doesn’t make us happy anymore. And I wasn’t happy. I thank God every day for my desire to write stories.

It’s time to use, and I mean truly use, this gift He’s given me.

The Proof is in the Reading Timeline!


We all have it within us to write our own narratives.


How I’m Improving My Craft

Are you brand new to the wonderful world of writing? Then welcome! You’re in for a mighty wild ride. If you think you’re going to just be able to sit down and write the next great American novel in one sitting, then you’ve definitely been lied to.

I’m a doubter. I’ve always discredited my God-given talents, and that includes writing. However, self doubt is something every writer struggles with at one time or another. That little worm weaves its way into our thoughts, adding discouragement and fear into the rotation.

STOP! Don’t let that little worm ruin any writing aspirations you have! Take a breath. Think what’s missing from your routine. As such, I realized three things missing were missing from mine. So here are the three things (because everything, it seems, comes in threes or fives on this site) I’m doing to improve my writing.

1. Reading more fiction AND non-fiction.

Do. Not. Forget. To. READ. And not just fiction. Find some informative non-fiction pertinent to your content and run with it. To be completely honest, I didn’t read for nearly a year. What happened? I nearly lost interest entirely.

The combination of reading, writing, and learning brings out the perfect storm of productivity, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed that missing piece to the puzzle.

There was also a time when I didn’t want to read. I was afraid other stories would influence my own, and I’d somehow be accused of stealing someone else’s idea. Not only that, but I didn’t want to find my own story within another. As the saying goes, there’s “nothing new under the sun.” However, we can’t, as writers, be afraid to explore other stories, characters and worlds.

2. Writing longer blog posts.

If you maintain a website, you know how hard it can be sometimes to come up with content and keep things fresh. A website is also a very public extension of yourself, so it’s best to be as professional as possible when communicating with your readers and anyone else you may connect with. In 2016 I had very little to say. Let’s bring in some stats. For the past four years, my average word count per post was less than 900. I plan to change that for 2020.

“Why?” you ask.

Because I want to learn more, and hone this content creator skill that fell into my lap when I decided to share my journey with you. And yes, I am aware that longer posts don’t always equal great content. I’ve needed to push myself out of my comfort zone for a long time, and 2020 is the year of change, so why not?

3. Learning more grammar.

American grammar is no laughing matter. My eyes still glaze over whenever I read phrases like “past participles” and “perfect continuous,” and see warnings to not use too many adjectives, too many verbs, or too much of everything else. Did you know there are, technically, twelve tenses in the English language?

Even though my writing journey resurfaced in late 2016, I had admit to myself that I needed to learn the basics of grammar all over again. You wouldn’t believe this, but there’s also an ongoing debate over how commas should/shouldn’t be used online. I may be in the minority here, but both methods have merit. (Oxford comma vs. no Oxford comma).


Personally, I try my best to not get involved in such debates. It’s all part of the learning process, and you must learn for yourself what’s best for your own writing journey.

Did you catch on to a word used the most in this post? If you thought “learn,” then you’re correct. Writing is a learning process. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked on your own craft; there will always be something you don’t know right around the corner.

What are the things you’re doing to improve your craft? Leave them in the comments below!


Confessions of a Chronic Underwriter

Be honest with me: How many of you thought I put the word “underwear” instead of “underwriter” in the title? I won’t blame you one bit! But the title is completely, utterly, unequivocally true. About two years ago my uncle, who’s a published children’s author, picked up on it when he read through one of my very early drafts for a shelved projected titled For One Night at the Winter Garden. “Your sentences are too long,” he said. “Does that detail really need to be in there?”

He didn’t use the words “you’re an underwriter,” but he recognized the signs that I was trying too hard.

When you try too hard, you put more detail (whether by choice or subconsciously) into a scene where it’s not needed. It often shows up in the form of sharing too much backstory or sharing, say, historical details out of context (if you’re writing historical fiction, that is!). Personally, it was overcompensation because I hadn’t fully developed any of my characters. For One Night was all scene and setting driven rather than main character centered.

I’m grateful for For One Night. Not only did it teach me when and where to include details, the project also showed me two years ago that I wasn’t ready to take on Project Firedamp. I needed to be patient with myself. So I blogged, researched my novel’s era and read UP on craft. My chronic underwriting is still there, but I’m more aware of the choices a writer’s mind needs to make because I focused on what needed to be fixed within myself.

WRITE TIP: Is there something keeping you from being the best writer you can be? What is it? Is it something your beta readers have pointed out in their notes for you? Don’t be afraid to take a hard look inside and the TIME to fix it. Life is a never ending learning journey. Be patient with yourself and don’t be tempted by shortcuts.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

John Quincy Adams

Five Booktube Channels I Recommend

To be completely candid here, I’ve been less excited about books lately than in years past. Inspiration comes in many forms, and some bookish inspiration was needed. So I headed to YouTube and looked for a few channels to get started.

As a long time viewer of beauty community drama (it’s my guilty pleasure), it’s only logical to assume that other YouTube communities aren’t immune to the “spilling the tea” phenom. I don’t know anyone save for two channels mentioned in this post, so that gave me an unbiased look into this new realm.

It’s funny; during my time on Twitter I’ve stayed out of as much writing drama as possible, save for a few opinions and problematic accounts. It’s impossible to ignore bad advice when it’s given. Below are six booktube and authortube channels I recommend (in no particular order).

Natalia Leigh

Sub Count: 10.4 k
Links: Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Website

From what I’ve seen so far, Natalia is a well grounded author who takes the time to look into what kind of writer and content creator she wants to be. My first video of hers was actually in reference to some Twitter drama that happened in early 2019, and I appreciate her kind of honesty. We may believe in different things, but writing is one of the things we’ve got in common. That transparency is why I recommend Natalia. It also doesn’t hurt that “Leigh’s” in her name as well!

bytheBrooke

Sub Count: 4.96 k
Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

New Adult author Brooke Passmore also hooked me with her honesty (you’ll find this to be a common thread with these channels). I’ll admit that my first video of hers also came on the heels of online writing drama (surprise surprise), but her demeanor is what kept me watching. As a thirty-four year old viewer of entertainment, I don’t need over-the-top personalities and crazy editing many 2019 content creators seemed so fond of. Simplicity is the best medicine, and, well, her background’s PURPLE! I love purple…

Peter Likes Books

Sub Count: 21.7 k
Links: Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

I’ve known about this channel for quite a while due to Peter’s beauty community drama channel. His honesty on subjects other than books is what convinced me to give his booktube a chance, and why I am thinking about beginning a history themed booktube channel myself. If you’re looking for someone to tell you like it is, I’d give Peter’s videos a shot! Variety is the spice of life, and Peter certainly lives up to that 🙂

Kate Cavanaugh

Sub Count: 29.8 k
Links: Twitter | Instagram | Website | Patreon

Kate’s channel was one of the first I stumbled upon in my quest to find booktubes, and the first video of hers I viewed was “I Tried Writing Like JK Rowling for Two Days.” While entertaining, it really drove the point home that every writer needs to find their own methodology. What’ll work for one individual may not for the next. Take a look at some of Kate’s videos below!

Sara Lubratt

Sub Count: 95
Links: none

In YouTube talk, a small channel like Sara’s would be called a “micro channel” as she only has 95 subs. Even with little over a dozen videos to her name, I can see returning to this channel time and time again. We all have to start somewhere, right? Sara’s story is just beginning. As far as I can tell, she has no other social media links to share. And that’s okay!


One of my goals for this post was to find a group book lovers and authors at varying stages in their careers and ages. While I don’t know yet if watching booktube will become part of my daily writing routine, it’s good to engage with other writers and opinions. That’s what makes the book community such a rich one, and it’s vain to think you don’t need anyone else to accomplish your own goals. So no matter your routine, beliefs or demographic, I hope you’ll explore the channels above with an open mind and who knows, maybe you’ll find a kindred spirit or two!

Happy writing/reading, friends!