Since I work in a library, and I’m a writer, I read a lot.  Thanks to Goodreads I can keep track of what I’ve read each year, which is fun.

Now, at the close of 2014, I wanted to share my two favorite books of the year.  Drum roll, please….

That Summer, by Lauren Willig


Tailing a tabby, by Laurie Cass

Both of these stand out for me because of the amazing characters, who were likeable and genuine.  They were also light-hearted, a quality I appreciate at all times.  The men in the books were charming and sweet, just the kind of guys for a HEA, either now or eventually!  (That Summer is a stand-alone, Tailing a Tabby is from a series, so it’ll be a while before that relationship is settled.)

I’ve been reading Lauren Willig’s “Pink Carnation” series for ages now and eagerly anticipate  new entries in the series.  I’m happy to say Laurie Cass launched her series with this title, so we can hope for new titles there, as well.

Look them up at the bookstore and let me know if you enjoy them as much as I did.  I’m sure you will!

As for my own writing, I had a flurry of good news a few weeks ago, learning that a romantic short story, a mystery short story and a personal essay would all be appearing–in three different publications–before the end of January!  Seems it always works like that–batches of acceptances.  (Of course, rejections come the same way, but let’s not think about that right now!)

I’m giving books as Christmas gifts this year and hope you’ll find some under your tree, too.

Seasons Reading!

One of my favorite reader and/or writer conferences is moving from Muskego to Milwaukee this year.  This is very welcome news, as it had been rumored in the spring that the MMM conference would be no more.  For nearly ten years, MMM has given me the opportunity to spend the day with some of the biggest names in mystery fiction, with keynote speakers including Laura Lippmann, Tess Gerritsen and Gregg Hurwitz, to name but a few.  Authors were available throughout the day to chat with, sign books, share the lunch table.  This year, the conference moves to Potawatomi Bingo Casino and I’m sure it will be every bit as memorable.  Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 1st.


Mary Schmich, the Chicago Tribune columnist, wrote once about keeping track of the summer, as it goes rocketing past. Do one summery thing every day, she suggested. Like eating lunch outside, or walking by the lake, or flying a kite. I love that idea–a way to pay attention to each day–and have revised it just a bit so it includes not only doing summery things, but also just noticing the distinctly summery world. So, I’ll note in my diary each day of June, July and August simple stuff like seeing a hummingbird,smelling fading lilacs, hearing kids splashing around in their backyard pools, or celebrating my first taste of watermelon this year. It’s all those little, sensual details that make up a world. My world, my summer, 2014.

It’s springtime and you know what that means! Not just switching the closet from turtlenecks to sleeveless and from boots to sandals. It means there’s a lot of new reading on the horizon. So many of my favorite authors come out with summer books in the next month or two and I find myself dog-earring page after page in the publisher’s catalogs, my yellow highlighter run dry!

Reading books by authors I admire is one of the best ways to get inspired where my own writing is concerned. When I see them find success with amazing characters and plotlines–or with tender-hearted characters and HEA’s guaranteed–I close each book with a happy sigh and think, “Me, too!” Then, I turn to my own notebook and my own characters with eager enthusiasm. My WIP is two-thirds done, now, and it’s exciting to see the threads of the story start intertwining. In the “muddling middle” of a novel, it can seem as if those threads are too far apart to ever reach–and yet, page by page, word by word, they turn toward each other and now, here I am, at the top of the rollercoaster, ready to tip over into the final part of the story, where more ups and downs and thrills await, before The End!

2014 Crimson Romance February Sale 1


Season’s Greetings!

Christmas, 2013

Wishing everyone all the best in 2014–health, wealth and happiness!

While I’ve made a good start on the holiday cards and have even purchased a few gifts, to me my holiday preparations aren’t underway until I’ve gotten out my “Christmas Memories” book by Susan Branch and made my first entry.  I love this journal/scrapbook!  It holds five full years’ worth of Christmas memories and pictures. I’m on my third volume now.  A treasure, it is worth its weight in gold–especially as the years go by and folks who are in the pictures from Volume 1 aren’t with us anymore.  I have always had everyone in attendance at the holiday gatherings write their name and a little something on one of the pages.  Oh, you should see how the handwriting of the children changes from one year to the next.  Figure, they first signed in nearly 15 years ago, scrawling over half the page with barely-formed letters.  Now, they’re in college.  Yikes!

A few years ago, I took the chock-a-block full volumes along on Christmas Eve and Day, so everyone could turn a few pages and remember when.  I’m big on Remember When, never more than at Christmas.  I was pleased to see, late in the evening, someone sitting quietly, leafing through, reading an entry here and there.

The thing I love about this book, other than the totally beautiful format (well, everything Susan Branch does is just so charming!), is how it allows me to capture in just a few pages all the details of each year–from the look of the tree to the new dessert someone made to the Christmas song most in my head this year.  And I include a few photos, of the tree, the pets, all of us or just some of us, depending.  Little girls in matching pajamas, the new puppy asleep under the tree, three generations–you know, the pictures that make up a celebration.

This year, I already know my song of the year is by Gloria Estefan, “Christmas Through Your Eyes”.  And my favorite ornaments will surely be the vintage ones my brothers attached to the grill of my car while I was at work one day.  What a cheery surprise!

So, here’s to happy holidays, and the tradition of writing about them in a favorite space.

http://www.susanbranch.com/hand-written-watercolor-cookbooks-from-the-heart-of-the-home/Christmas Memories



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.