In Need Of Something New

In anticipation of an upcoming flight, I decided to load my Kindle with new books to read. After spending the past three hours scrolling, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know how to narrow searches.

First off, I want free, or under five dollars. If I’m going to spend more than that on an author I don’t know yet, I want a real book. I don’t understand high Kindle prices when there is so little cost to produce one. No printing, no distribution. You pay for the brand, not the content, with those higher prices. But if you type in ‘free Kindle books’ you get thousands to scroll through.

Then, on top of cheap, I want quality. But if you narrow the search to three stars and above, it still leaves thousands, including thousands that have a four-star review of one.

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And finally, I want books with strong settings. I want settings that provide conflict and depth for the characters. Settings that are so well written they become characters. I don’t necessarily mean settings like the wilderness where a character is pitted against rock falls and snow storms. It could be a city if it’s written strongly enough. Though I do prefer nature.

Books I’ve read that fit this, that come immediately to mind, are those like Ellie Griffith’s The Crossing Places. Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child. Mary Emerick’s The Geography of Water, which I absolutely loved. The non-fiction Coming Into the Country by John McPhee.

Then there are those series I loved that the authors seem to have walked away from as it’s been so long since anything new came out. PJ Parrish’s Louis Kincaid series. Jonathan King’s Max Freeman series. Sarah Stewart Taylor’s Sweeney series.

As a huge reader, I could spend the rest of the night listing books.

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The problem is, if I go to Kindle books, type in ‘fiction with strong settings’ I get lists of innocent Amish girls thrust into the world, or lusty lairds in highlands. Did I mention that while I have nothing against romance, I don’t personally read much in the genre? Oh, I used to. The gothics so popular in the 1970s – Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels. But not so much now.

Maybe, looking over this post, my problem isn’t how to narrow searches. Maybe I’m too picky. Either way,┬áit’s getting late and I have to get up early. So I’m walking away from Amazon and wandering over here. Any favorite books to share? Any favorite authors? And if you don’t mind, please share why you like those books. I’d love a long list of new reading material.

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Head In The Clouds

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my ‘nose in a book’ or my ‘head in the clouds’ while the four siblings were off being kids. Most of the time, the ‘head in the cloud’ phrase meant I was alone with pencil and paper, writing. The siblings were used to that. So much so that I think they forgot sometimes that I lived in the same house. Except for the youngest sister. She remembered me when spiders showed up in her room.

Holly Easter 1965

She still hates spiders

There was the day the siblings played basketball while I cried on the bed with a befuddled mother sitting next to me.

‘If they ask you to play you always say no.’

‘But I want to be asked!’

I still remember how I wailed those words, and how even then, I realized how silly that sounded. Because she was right. I would have said no if they’d asked.

There was the time my brother got mad at me for something when we were around nine or ten. I have no idea why. It’s not like I beat him at basketball. But to get back at me, he loosened the bolts on my bicycle’s handlebars and front tire.

Steven and ?

The pre-sabotage bike days

The problem was, my nose was always in a book and my head in the clouds. Feet on pedals don’t work in those situations. The days and weeks passed and he forgot. Until one day his bike had a flat tire. He borrowed mine.

See? If that nose hadn’t been in the book, it probably would have been broken.

Then there were words.

‘What were you thinking?’

‘Didn’t you hear what I said?’

‘Didn’t you see me?’

Nope. I was thinking about Prince Caspian. I was hearing Arietty talking to Pod and Homily. I was seeing the wolves of Willoughby Chase running across frozen snow.

the three

‘Look at the camera. Lisa. Lisa! Lisa!!!’

There were the nights with flashlights under the blankets, sneaking a book or whispering a made-up story to the youngest sibling.

There were joyous moments talking and talking and talking with a small group of friends about books we read. Matter of fact, fifty-odd years later I still talk books with those same girls. Oops. Women.

And there were all those times when the story world was a kinder place to be than the real world.

So if you see me smiling while you talk to me, there’s no guarantee I’m actually there.

My head’s probably in the clouds. In the stories.

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Sunshine On My Shoulders

I try very hard to not ‘market’ on this blog post because selling isn’t the purpose of writing here. So please understand that this is a post of excitement rather than pushing a product.

Sunshine On My Shoulders is now live on Amazon! You writers out there understand the excitement because you know the long process from creation through revision, through editing, through more revision to the final point where you just have to let go.

So I’ve managed to let go. Though I want to go back for one more read-through because there’s always that one last typo you missed.

But for today, I’ve tossed the child to the world.