Five Things Friday- February 2018

One- What I’m Writing

I’m still working on my YA horror novel, but I recently finished a few short stories and submitted them for anthologies. I also recently had a short story accepted into an anthology, so hopefully the publication date on that will be announced soon.

Two- Random Fact About Me

I talk to myself. Out loud sometimes. My dogs are fine with it.

Three- What I’m Grateful For This Month

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to settle back into routine. I love the holidays and all, but at the end of the day, I like it when my days are all pretty much the same. I’m grateful for my writing groups and their amazing feedback.

Four- When I Wasn’t Reading

I started skating again, which is wonderful! I’ve done a lot of work on my novel and editing short stories. I’ve been querying agents. And of course, I’ve been walking my crazy dog.

Five- Favorite Picture This Month

The Forces of Darkness really think the computer is for their benefit.


The PostSecret Live Show

I don’t even remember how I fell in love with PostSecret. I think someone mentioned it to me, and I checked it out. It’s not part of my routine to check the Sunday Secrets. I own all the books.

When I went to Virginia to visit my in-laws a few years ago, the only thing I wanted to do was go to the PostSecret exhibit at the Postal Museum.

I’m obsessed. I’m aware, and it’s okay.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, PostSecret was started by Frank Warren in 2005 as an art project. He gave out postcards and asked people to write a secret on them. His goal was to get 365 postcards. He got way more than that.

He started posting secrets he received on his blog. They update every Sunday (hence, Sunday secrets). I enjoy reading the secrets, and I keep a folder of my favorites to use as writing prompts.

I’ve never made it to a PostSecret Live show. I’ve always wanted to, but it seemed that every time one came to town, I already had a prior commitment, or I was going to be somewhere else.

I finally made it this past Tuesday.

When I got there, I realized that I hadn’t known what to expect. I didn’t have any expectations of it, but to me, that was part of the fun.

We were set up in a small theater in San Antonio. The show started with three actors speaking various “secrets” as if they were their own. Their voices broke with laughter or tears. It was powerful.

They flashed secrets on the screen. At the intermission, they encouraged people to tweet about PS #pssantonio, then they flashed tweets with the hashtag on the screen. In the ladies’ room, they had post-it notes and pens. Women wrote on the post-its and put them up on the mirror.

They also had postcards for people two write on, then after break, the actors read the secrets of people in the audience. Then more acting and secrets on screen.

As a finale, they had a Q&A with Frank Warren and with the actors. After that, a book signing where I got to meet the man behind it all.

Frank Warren never intended for PostSecret to become a national phenomena. But I think that it speaks to the fact that people want to make connections with one another. Our secrets isolate us, but they don’t have to. As Frank said, any secret anyone has is shared by someone else.

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I always love live events because the emotion in the room changes the event. In this case, I heard people laugh, gasp, or go hushed after various secrets were read. People cried, and no one cared because others were crying too.

This was a bucket list item for me, and I wasn’t disappointed.


How to Become An Early Bird in 13 Easy Steps

Step 1: Pick a time to wake. Make sure it’s in the middle of winter, preferably early enough to wake up in the dark.

Step 2: Try to go to sleep early. Toss and turn for about a half hour before giving up and going to watch Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.

Step 3: When your alarm goes off, hit the snooze button. Then hit it again. And again. And… one more time.

Step 4: Get out of bed, mumbling how ridiculous it is to wake up in the middle of the freaking night. That it would be easier just not to go to sleep. Channel your inner Garfield and say repeatedly, “I’d like mornings better if they started later.”

Step 5: Look longingly at your coffee pot and cry a little, since you gave up caffeine a few months ago.

Step 6: Force yourself to get through the day, telling yourself that being exhausted will make it easier to sleep that night.

Step 7: Start to wake up around 8 p.m. By 10 p.m., be at peak creativity and wakefulness. Don’t bother to go to bed. Reason that if you keep forcing yourself awake early, you’ll eventually be ready to sleep early.

Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7 for several days.

Step 9: Be thrilled that you can sleep in on Saturday. Stay up until midnight or so on Friday night, gleeful in the feeling that things are back to normal, at least for two days.

Step 10: Wake at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday for NO REASON.

Step 11: Curse a lot. Ask questions like, “Brain, why do you hate me?”

Step 12: Convince yourself that you actually liked getting up early, that it’s good for you.

Step 13: Come Monday morning, repeat Steps 1- 9. Pretend you like it.

I Am Not A Fan

I’m always amazed when people know minutiae about their favorite recording artists, actors, and writers. I love the Beatles, and I know Ringo wasn’t their first drummer, but that’s about it. I don’t feel that need some people have to find out everything, including what Paul McCartney had for dinner the night he met John Lennon. (I just made that up. I don’t know if that’s a thing.)


The Paul McCartney concert in 2005 was amazing.

I get the emails from Goodreads, alerting me to news about authors and books and such. Normally, I ignore it, as I do most of my emails. But two days ago, I saw something about JoJo Moyes and another sequel to Me Before You, so I clicked the link.

It turns out that a third book in the series, Still Me, was released yesterday. I held out for all of 24 hours before I bought it on Kindle.

I love everything I’ve read of Jojo Moyes, but I haven’t sought out all her books. I used to read everything Dean Koontz ever wrote, but now I’m behind by a few years. I’m only going to a Taylor Swift concert because a friend mentioned how excited she was to go.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I talked about the X-files expo? The only reason I went to that is because my boyfriend at the time found out about it and arranged the whole thing.

There’s something about fandom that I find fascinating, even while I don’t have the bug. I’m not sure if it’s because I have too many scattered interests, or if it’s because I spend too much time immersed in whatever book I’m reading. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

It’s like when I posted awhile back about how I don’t have favorites anymore. On a given day, I could be listening to Taylor Swift, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Eve 6, Barenaked Ladies, or Death Cab For Cutie. I might pick up a romance novel, followed by literary fiction, followed by science fiction, followed by self-help or psychology.

I guess it’s like that old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I know a little bit about everything, but don’t know a lot about any one thing. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Or is it just what it is?

I think it’s just that I’m interested in so many different things. It’s the same reason I love buffets; I want to try a little of everything. I just don’t have favorites. I like new and different. I like adventures, and I’m okay with hating something if that means that I tried it.

I’m glad I accidentally came across Still Me now instead of hearing about it six months (or a year) from now. While I’d love to catch up on my favorite authors, I have a towering TBR list that’s waiting for me. It might be nice to catch up on every Dean Koontz book I miss, or read everything that Bryn Greenwood has ever written, but reading widely has benefits too.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Are you a fan of anything?

Five Things Friday- January 2018

Starting today, I’ll be participating in Five Things Friday on the last Friday of the month.

In the past, my focus has been on more of what I’ve been reading, but since I now post updates on that every Monday, it would get a bit redundant. Because personal posts were pretty popular last year, I thought I’d change the focus a bit.

One- What I’m Writing

Right now, I’ve been working on my newest YA horror novel, set in a post-apocalyptic world with some terrifying creatures. I’m also querying my last novel, and have a short story that was just accepted for publication. Stay tuned…

Two- Random Fact About Me

I’m a vegan at home. When I go out to eat, it’s a cheese extravaganza! I use cream in my coffee! But at home, we try to stick to no animal products.

Three- What I’m Grateful For This Month

I’m grateful that my animals are currently all healthy. I’m grateful that I get along with my sister-in-law and her husband, and that we have our annual “Christmas” celebration every January. I’m grateful for my fireplace and stereo, which make for a cozy and wonderful reading experience. I’m grateful that my house is finally unpacked and organized.

Four- When I Wasn’t Reading

This month, I was mostly cleaning up and organizing my house, or going on walks with my dog. This past week we had our annual “Christmas” celebration, and we were playing board games and laughing a lot. I went to my first hockey game, Texas Stars vs. the San Jose Barracudas. I loved it, and got to see the home team win in overtime.


Five- Favorite Picture This Month


Our very patient 17 year old kitty let us line up Exploding Kittens cards on her. I guess she wanted to play too!


The Best Way to Arrange Books

When I was a kid, I lived in an old farmhouse. My room had a chimney running through it. By the time we lived there, the chimney didn’t work anymore, and we didn’t have a fireplace. I had three bookshelves surrounding my chimney, and I didn’t really have a method or arranging my books. I just stuffed them in wherever.

As I got older, I still just put my books wherever, but I also had a shelf of my favorites, some of which are still my favorites today.

That haphazard way of arranging books lasted until I moved to Texas. We had moved three times previously, and my Ikea bookshelves were in pretty rough shape. I wanted a real library with real wooden bookshelves.

I had never unpacked all my books in any of the places I lived. I just never had the shelf space and wasn’t even sure how many books I owned. (I’m at 1,770, in case you’re curious.)

With that many books, there’s only one way to deal with them. I had to go with sections and alphabetize within section.

My largest section, by far, is fiction. I have all short story anthologies shelved separately. I have a shelf for memoir/ biography, several for psychology texts, a shelf for graphic novels, and then a couple shelves of mixed nonfiction. That mixed shelf has an eclectic mix of paranormal phenomena, mythology, gardening, home repair, and pretty much anything that wouldn’t fit on the other shelves.

I’ve seen people talk about shelving by cutesy things like color or size, and while that might be, in some ways, more aesthetically pleasing, I have all the happiness I need just by seeing all the books I own, unboxed, and in one location.

How do you shelve your books?


Audiobooks are Easier to Abandon

I’ve written a few times about how I have a newly discovered liking for audiobooks. And it’s true. With the right book, I really do enjoy them.

However, I’ve noticed a pattern. I abandon more audiobooks than I finish. At first, I thought I was just choosing books that I didn’t like, that I would have abandoned anyway. I abandoned so many audiobooks last year that I stopped keeping track of them.

But recently, I started listening to a book I’ve wanted to read forever: A Million Junes, by Emily Henry. The book has everything I should like. It’s YA, it’s a little magical, with an interesting premise.

I made myself listen to it a few times and just… stopped.

I don’t want to keep listening to it, but I still want to read it.

And that’s when I started to look critically at the audiobooks I abandoned. They still interest me. I looked at Feed, by Mira Grant, and I realized it’s about siblings during a zombie apocalypse! What’s not to like?

But I abandoned it without a qualm an hour or so into it.

Audiobooks require an enormous amount of concentration for me. They work for me while I’m driving long stretches because I’ve been driving for a long time and can do that automatically (for the most part). But unless I’m really into it, I don’t use them for mindless chores around the house. I like quiet on my daily walks so I can hear the birds or the stream rushing. And I’m certainly not going to sit on the couch and listen to an audiobook; if I have nothing else going on, I’d much rather read it.

I think that I’ve given up on some good books because I didn’t read them in the right format. Knowing that, I’m going to go back through my list (at some point) and check them out again.

Of the books I’ve actually completed on audiobook, most of them were biographies of comedians, read by the author. These aren’t books I’d normally read, but they were interesting on audiobook. I do enjoy comedy specials, so perhaps that’s the difference? I’ve also been successful with some YA (a couple books by Rainbow Rowell, a book by Jennifer Niven) and books I’ve read before.

I think that I either need to be more selective with audiobooks or make sure I have access to the paper copy to switch back and forth. I hate wasting my time by abandoning a book an hour into it, especially if I might actually like it if I were reading to it instead of listening to it.

Does anyone else have this issue?