Tag Archives: suspense novels

White Elephant 🐘

The lovely Sadje has tagged me in the fun White Elephant game begun by The Haunted Wordsmith.

Sadje has given me this wonderful prezzie:

“A big bookshelf for Paula as she is a great writer and would need to store her growing collection of books here.”

Awwww! Thank you, Sadje! 😀❤️ I am going to need this. Not only is my next poetry collection almost finished, but I am stoked about finishing NaNoWriMo this year and hope to have Ghosted on the shelves by the end of 2019. I also have other WIPs to complete after that ~ no shortage of ideas here!

Anyway, onto my (imaginary) gifts for other bloggers.

To Pensitivity I give tickets for a luxurious cruise for two plus Maggie on the barking friendly ocean liner Queen Mary. I think they could all use a sweet vacay!

2. To Laura I give a month of gluten-free meals, so she can take a break from cooking.

3. To Michelle I give a yarn shopping spree, wheeeeee!

Recipients, please gift three more bloggers to keep the White Elephant game going ~ and use Teresa’s THWWE tag so she can find you! 😀🐘🎁

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Regarding Twitter

I’ve been thinking about Twitter lately. Unlike Facebook, which I deleted in March (along with Instagram and Messenger), Twitter isn’t a time sink for me. I don’t get heavily involved in threads, conversations, private chats, etc. on Twitter. It’s basically a big nothing burger. I was using it for poetry prompts, but lately I’m not finding them that inspirational, so I’ve been reading more politics there, which is a bore. I can find that anywhere. 🙄

Trying to engage with other “tweeps” has accomplished nothing. I’m too late to the game. I’m not politically witty enough to come up with killer tweets to go viral… and even if I had one, then what? Would that translate into book sales or death threats? Now there’s a interesting question. I’m not anonymous. 😱

Here’s the thing. I’ve lightly promoted my writing on Twitter… to no effect. My promo tweets immediately slid into the giant sea of writers all doing the same. Everyone on the planet has written a book! Yesterday I met a successful writer and she admitted that her success was due to a completely random interview (not even a good one) in a relatively obscure print magazine. She’d done the other traditionally hyped ways of book promotion to almost no sales until the interview.

It’s very discouraging ~ if you’re writing to make money, that is. I have to look at it as a labor of love: the poetry, my romance novels and short stories, and my current WIP, which is a suspense/romance with supernatural elements. Plus I have lots of writing in various stages of drafts to work on as the spirit moves me. I hope to get it all done before I die. 😀

But there’s no reason to delete Twitter. It doesn’t annoy me the way FB did with the fake friends. I know the tweeps aren’t my friends (99% of them anyway), and Twitter doesn’t suck up my time with stupid notifs. But I do think my once a day or so quick check for poetry prompts and such is coming to an end. There’s no point in pretending to stay engaged there when I know it’s not going to do a damn thing to help me market my next book.

I’ll just let my blog poasts flop over as they do, and that’s all my timeline will be filled with eventually. Probably tweeps will unfollow me, or not… if they don’t bother checking Twitter any longer either, which is what I suspect in many cases. 😂

Alphabooking

Via The Haunted Wordsmith.

1. Author you’ve read the most books from.

– Idk, maybe Lawrence Sanders (RIP).

2. Best Sequel Ever.

– Third book in Game Of Thrones.

3. Currently Reading.

– Incognito by David Eagleman.

4. Drink of Choice While Reading

– Hot black tea with milk.

5. E-reader or Physical Book?

– Prefer physical but being practical I do mostly Kindle these days.

6. Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School.

– Archy McNally, the cad.

7. Glad You Gave This Book A Chance.

Game of Thrones, book 1.

8. Hidden Gem Book.

Bodies of Water by Rosanne Cash.

9. Important Moment in your Reading Life.

Welcome to Temptation.

10. Just Finished.

Dandelion Stars.

11. Kinds of Books You Won’t Read.

– Books by politicians.

12. Longest Book You’ve Read.

– Probably one of the GOTs. Or maybe The Stand or possibly that enormous book about the orange vampires our stupid gobblement created in Central America to be weaponized against our enemies but they destroyed the planet. No, I’m not making that up and I read the whole ridiculously long horrible thing, gawd only knows why. I think there’s a sequel and I have a restraining order just in case.

13. Major book hangover.

– Staying up all night when I was 14 to read The Flame and the Flower.

14. Number of Bookcases You Own.

– Two (had to downsize during divorce).

15. One Book You Have Read Multiple Times.

The Great Gatsby.

16. Preferred Place To Read

– Anywhere.

17. Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read.

– “And therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.” Kundera in TULOB

18. Reading Regret.

– Attempting Ulysses again. Blech.

19. Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series).

– No needs of this type.

20. Three of your All-Time Favorite Books.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The Great Gatsby. Norwegian Wood.

21. Unapologetic Fan-girl/boy For.

– King.

22. Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others.

– None.

23. Worst Bookish Habit.

– None except I should read more.

24. X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book.

– Wild guess… Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

25. Your latest book purchase.

Dandelion Stars.

26. ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late)

– My NaNo WIP. Literally fell asleep while writing last night.

Nope on a Rope

I grabbed these questions from Kristian ~ anyone can play!

1. Ending: A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage or simply because the ending was crappy.

Gone Girl comes to mind, but I still respect the writing. Not crappy! Just argh!

2. Protagonist: A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

– Dunno. Compellingly terrible protags are a good thing. Like in GG.

3. Series: A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.

– I read the first four Game of Throne novels and the fourth was a hugely tedious slog. I’ve given up now and will just finish watching the wonderful show on HBO.

4. Popular pairing: A Ship you don’t support.

– I love naughty Archy McNally in the Lawrence Sanders mysteries but I don’t support Connie’s forgiveness of him every time he cheats on her (pretty much every book).

5. Plot Twist: A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.

– Can’t think of any except GG. If I didn’t see it coming, then that’s a good thing. Mostly in romance I see them, but that’s okay.

6. Protagonist action/decision that made you shake your head nope.

– In The Dogs of Babel — why didn’t she just get an abortion?

7. Genre: A genre you will never read.

– Never say never. Generally horror with the King exception. Religious stuff in general, unless it seems really interesting.

8. Book format: Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.

– Idk comic strips maybe.

9. A trope that makes you go nope.

– Twins mixed up. Getting back with an ex (even though I’ve written this myself). Vampire luv except maybe gothic. Shape shifters of any kind (also have written). Motorcycle club love. Military love. Love in the winery. Pirate luv. Native Americans (the kind where a blonde finds hot sexy luv with one). The thing where a woman has to go to the ends of the earth to save her child from some ridiculous thing or other. The other thing where she returns to a small town for whatever bogus reason and gets together with that hunky high school guy who’s now the sheriff and drama ensues.

I HAZ ISSUES!

10. Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you refuse to read.

– Books by politicians and other celebs. These people don’t have enough money?

11. Cliche/pet peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

– I can’t stand the excessive commas that are, apparently, correct usage. It diverts me from the writing, especially in dialogue.

12. Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

– Can’t think of any.

13. Book: A book that shouldn’t have existed that made you say nope.

– Nope.

14. Villain: A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

– The Night King! (GOT)

15. Death: A character death that still haunts you.

– Robb’s pregnant wife getting stabbed to death at the Red Wedding (GOT).

16. NOPE! Author: An author you had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.

– I can’t stand Nicholas Sparks. I don’t know why anyone reads him when there are plenty of good romance writers. He’s absolutely awful.

10 Influential Books

Now we’re talking! The Haunted Wordsmith asks us for 10 books and I decided to use only those I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads. Couple reasons. One, I can take screenshots of ’em to show not tell, and isn’t that what writing is all about? Two, if they aren’t right in my face, I might have trouble remembering them (like the mystery tidal wave movie yesterday). Three, I gotta have some way of narrowing down the books I love into a list and this is as good as any. Let’s begin!

1. This is a children’s book with universal themes of loneliness, friendship, abandonment, imagination vs reality, and feeling outcast from your tribe. It has really stayed with me.

2. I had already been enjoying the detective novels of Lawrence Sanders, but the McNally series notched his writing up to a whole new level for me. I realized you could fall in love with a flawed antihero who made mistakes, stepped out on his girlfriend, and overindulged in food and booze. Our protags don’t have to be perfect; in fact, they’re more interesting when they aren’t.

3. Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation showed me a fresh and sassy narrative voice that gave me hope for my own. Faking It continues this voice that I’ve fallen in love with and adds a fabulous plot, so mixed up and crazy, but somehow seamlessly blending with the love story, not jangling against it or tacked on as an afterthought.

4. I literally could not put down this book. I never knew I could even enjoy a memoir ~ I thought they were all boring celeb brags. This book is incredible (the movie just so-so).

5. What can I say ~ I named my cat after this book. The most beautiful writing to hit the page, so lovely, so poetic. I never get tired of its lushness.

6. The first and best book in the series. A gift from a friend, which captivated me so much I began watching the show, and it is incredible. I don’t normally go for fantasy and/or sci-fi, but GOT is an exception that breaks every rule.

7. Even though I didn’t list any Stephen King novels here, I have enjoyed many, as well as his short stories, and this book on his craft is a treasure. I recommend it to all writers.

8. This is the novel that hooked me into Murakami’s writing. I picked it up at B&N, sat down, and read the entire thing without pause. Then I began buying his books ~ my favorite is probably his short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

9. Speaking of shorts, Ray Carver is my favorite short story writer, and this is my favorite book of his collected work. But they’re all great! He writes down to the bone, cuts to the essence of an idea, nothing extra, no poetic loveliness a la Fitzgerald. I love both types of writing, no need to choose!

10. And now TULOB, my very favorite book of all time. Absolutely brilliant. The movie doesn’t do it justice at all ~ you must read the book, again and again. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I feel bad I didn’t include any poetry books (Mark Strand, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, etc.), or Margaret Atwood or Rosanne Cash or Faye Kellerman etc. etc. etc., but again, like I did with the movies, I tried to focus on what influenced me over time, not on what I merely enjoyed a whole bunch.

Happy reading 📖!

Two for Tuesday: Book Reviews

1. The Duke Buys a Bride by Sophie Jordan. This is a classic romance novel, so we know how it ends; the fun is (supposed to be) in getting there. The novel begins well enough with Marcus (the Duke) awakening in a horse stall with only a vague memory of what happened the night before. I thought maybe some sort of mistaken identity puzzle or murder mystery would need to be untangled along the way to the happily ever after. No.

Marcus finds Alyse being “auctioned” in the town square by a husband who no longer wants her, and in an impulsive act, Marcus “buys” her. Even though the Duke is an educated gentleman who knows you can’t buy a person (well, there in England anyway), he feels responsible for Alyse now because she has nothing and nowhere to go. Of course, being a Duke, he acts like a jerk about it. Alyse knows he’s a jerk, but she has no choice at the moment except to accept his help.

That’s it. That’s the plot. Alyse and Marcus travel north to his estate in Scotland, and they fall in love, despite Marcus being a jerk and Alyse being a commoner he can’t possibly marry, ha ha ha.

I gave it two stars, which was generous.

2. Strangers on a Bridge by Louise Mangos. Now this first-person suspense novel has a unique twist: what if you save someone from suicide and then wish you hadn’t? The concept grabbed me, which is why I chose this book from my October Kindle first pile. And it is a good hook. The problem is that Alice (you remember Alice) is so annoying. She does the dumbest things one after another. I don’t like her husband either, and they have a terrible marriage ~ hard to believe it was good before she saved Manfred, with the crappy way they communicate, or don’t rather. Yet, I had to keep reading to see what happened, so there’s that.

And it’s fun to see how frustrated she gets with the Swiss police, so ploddingly slow and skeptical with her stalking complaints, until of course they suspect her of something, and then suddenly they’re super competent and on the ball.

As stupid as Alice is, the stuff she does near the end is unfathomably bizarre, so I have to conclude she is just a nutcase all along.

Three stars.

Insomnia

When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?
-Some emotionally distressing thing that I will listen to nonjudgmentally

What takes up too much of your time?
-Insomnia

What do you wish you knew more about?
-How to fall asleep

What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?
-Now that was a great night’s sleep! Where’s my phone?

What are some small things that make your day better?
-Catnaps and cats

Who’s your go to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
-Oldies mix from the 60s or 70s

What’s the best way to start the day?
-Painfree

What shows are you into?
-Waiting for the end of GOT

What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
-Dunno, only have internet

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
-My daughters

What age do you wish you could permanently be?
-14

What TV show or movie do you refuse to watch?
-Historical borings, gory horror, animated, preachy, most other stuff…

What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
-Pampered at a luxury spa

What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without?
-Cell phone/internet

What’s your claim to fame?
-I dumped Facebook

What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?
-Nothing

What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?
-Lately suspense (shocking!)

How often do you people watch?
-Not much, would rather read

What have you only recently formed an opinion about?
-Beets, favorable

What’s the best single day on the calendar?
-Every day is a good day to be single

What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
-Synesthesia

How do you relax after a hard day of work?
-Stare at more screens like a boneless zombie

What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?
-Maui

What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?
-My girls being awesome to each other

What is the most annoying question that people ask you?
-“Have you tried [whatever thing] for your migraines?”

Captive Audience

still-life-teddy-white-read.jpg

I began a new book last week: Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman. It had been hanging around my Kindle pile for a while. I guess it had appealed to me when I downloaded it and then not so much after that. But I finally opened it and jumped in. It didn’t grab me much at first… too many characters, too many POVS, a big mishmash. Yuck.

And it had a snotty, snarky narrative voice. Very cliched. Hi honey it’s me your best girlfriend and ooh we are gonna dish on everything and everyone and be bitches to the maxipad, oh yes we are babes, we are about to Joan Rivers this place UP!

Bleargh. I debated cutting my losses after a few chapters. After all, didn’t we just discuss how life is too short for annoying books and shitty movies? I believe we did.

But idk, there was something… different about CAABC that kept me going. I had no idea what would happen. None, zero, zip. I like that lately. And I don’t mean because it was surreal and crazy (ick); I mean because the characters were interesting and complex. Finally they sorted themselves out into two main protags with separate motivations. The satellite characters were less interesting, but had humorous moments. The narration became less Joan Riversy and straightforward with legit funny moments. Someone I wasn’t expecting suddenly played a major part toward the end and that became super hilarious and dare I say… a little bit profound!

I enjoyed the La Jolla/San Diego setting and the takedown of the ultra wealthy, though it was done relatively gently. There were some stellar mommy moments too ~ of various ages of mommyhood, which doesn’t end when kids are legal adults. Often a novel hooks me at the start and overpromises and underdelivers; CAABC did the opposite. It served up a tedious appetizer, a mediocre salad, but produced a tasty main dish, yummy sides, and finished off with a splendid dessert.

I highly recommend Crimes Against a Book Club.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Captivating

Expect

twilight-writer

After much fluctuating, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo. I’m building in five October “cheat” days to make up for my rocking social life, and the first one is tomorrow. I’m getting excited! It’s been a long time since I wrote my butt off for hours, without expectation. I don’t know what kind of novel this will be, or if I’ll even approach the 50K wordcount at all. Maybe it’ll be semi-autobiographical, or perhaps I’ll cut the selfies later. It might be a suspense novel or a romance. For sure, it will have ghosts, real or metaphorical… or both, most likely.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Expect

Doctor Sleep’s Fatal Flaws

spoiler

This is going to be a super duper major spoiler of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I mean, absolutely 100%. Ready? K.

I did enjoy the novel while I was reading it because the main character Dan Torrance (Danny from The Shining, all grown up) was very compelling and I wanted to find out what happened to him. But after a bit of rumination (moo!), I sadly discovered huge flaws in the story.

The evil undead True Knot creatures feast on essences aka “steam” of people who have “the shining.” They prefer young’uns, since the shining is shinier in children, but they’ll take anyone they can get, because food. They can go awhile without eating steam and in the meantime they nom on meatloaf and mac&cheese like regular polyester-clad retirees in motor homes. They aren’t exactly like vampires ~ real vampires nom only on blood, IIRC. King never fully explains how this Knot originated and endured in ye tyme of olde, what they did before they blopped around the U.S. in motorhomes and stayed connected via modern technology, but whatever. He vaguely hints at gypsy caravans, but that’s not satisfactory. They aren’t Roma peeps. They’re almost all Americans, doing American things. These are minor nits though.

A larger nit is the early reference to dogs. The True Knot doesn’t like dogs and dogs don’t like them. Got it. This is a gun placed on a table. And King forgot he put it there. If it was important enough to mention, which it is because normally motorhome peeps have some pooches traveling around with them, then it has to be used later. I’m surprised at King! There should have been a dog in the story later on. Bummer.

But the hugest plot hole of all is as follows. The Knot kills Bradley the baseball boy in 2011. Bradley, age 11, was feeling poorly that day because he was coming down with the measles. A few years later, the Knot begins getting the measles and dying. An half-baked idea is tossed out that maybe the Knot used to have immunity from “rube” diseases and now they don’t, sort of like genes turning off. OH COME ON!  This is totally insulting to the reader. Obviously the only reason this “measles device” is flung into the story two years after the Knot consumed Bradley’s measles steam, is to provide a reason why the Knot has to go after Abra right now. Otherwise, there’d be no compulsion to get going immediately.

Rose, the Knot leader, is already aware of super-shining steamgirl Abra (Danny’s niece) and definitely wants to eat her essence, but has been holding off. Now, as the Knot gets sicker and their steam reserves grow low, it becomes imperative to get Abra now. Abra’s super duper shiny steam will boost them all to fab youth and vigor, plus she’s most likely been vaccinated, so she’ll have the double-effect of protecting any Knots who haven’t caught the measles yet from any measles germies circulating in their systems from lil Bradley. Logical, yah?

Dan used this logic to destroy a big tangle of the Knot in the penultimate battle of the story as he unleashed his dead mother-in-law’s cancerous essence into the room where they were assembled. The creatures were forced to inhale her poisonous steam, at which point they shriveled up and disappeared. Ooh, so clever and satisfying! And the reader was gratified to know that Dan himself wasn’t dying of a weird mysterious stomach ailment that had been plaguing him during the trip to the Overlook (yes, of The Shining), but had simply been transporting Momo. Yay!

But but but…

HOLD ON A MINUET. Let’s back up here. In 2001, the Knot sensed something big was going down at the WTC and lumbered into NJ to watch the disaster. They fed off the “steam” of the terrified and dying people from the Twin Towers. Some of those essences naturally contained souls who had a little bit of the shining, so it was a “good feed” for the evil creatures. That’s all fine so far. (Sorta. Seemed like later on they had to be physically closer to their victims.) BUT BUT BUT. Doesn’t it also stand to reason that some of those doomed WTC souls also had cancer, heart disease, flu, measles, whatever?

HELLOOOO?!?!?! The poor peeps from the Towers couldn’t have all been perfectly healthy and disease-free with pure, clean steam. Why weren’t the Knot getting sick from all kinds of stuff between 2001 and Bradley-time?

And what about the years and decades and centuries prior to that? The Knot never killed a kid who was sick before? They never inhaled “bad” steam? Bradley was the only one? Not believable! All the reader has to go on is this throwaway non-explanation that maybe the Knot’s scyfy genes turned off their protective immunity mechanisms the same way normal humans are programmed to age and die at some point. Meh.

I submit that King’s premise of the Knot staying healthy until Bradley’s measles is a fatal flaw of Doctor Sleep.

I am totally disappointed in him for this.

PS: I’ve searched for anyone else picking up on the fatal flaw I found, and so far have not found any discussion whatever. Am I off-base? No. People are not willing to see it because they are too busy praising King or else they’re criticizing the book for not being “scary” enough, which is just silly. Horror is like porn. If this doesn’t get you going, you’re too immersed in the genre. Take a looooong break.