Morning Coffee: Books-To-Be-Read

Do you have a books-to-be-read pile? More than one? I do. I have multiple piles/shelves of books I want to read before I die, plus I recently brought home more from my father that he’d finished reading and knew I’d like, and yet I just bought two more. I had time to kill in Walmart while waiting to meet a friend for lunch and decided to peruse the books. I knew better, but I did it anyway.

And I’ll certainly do it again.

Two rules I try to live by that help: One, read two books (or more) from your pile for every one new one you add. This should slowly bring your pile down to a more reasonable size . . . one that won’t crush you should it fall over and lead to an embarrassing news story/documentary for your next of kin. Have you seen “Hoarders”? Two, read from the bottom up. Assuming you can safely move the ones on top. Granted, this won’t decrease the size of your to-be-read pile, but it will bring you some surprises. The books you find at the bottom of the pile are just like brand new because you have probably forgotten you had them. This might briefly satisfy that itch to go into the book store for more.

This recently happened to me. I was looking through one of my to-be-read piles to pick a book to take on vacation, setting aside one after another because I wasn’t feeling it. Then I got to the bottom and . . . what is this?! I had two books I purchased from a then new friend about five years ago, Virginia McCullough. I’d completely forgotten about them. Virginia writes romances about people finding love as they struggle to overcome great difficulties in their lives. First, I read “Amber Light”, about a girl who becomes pregnant after being date-raped, keeps the baby, and spends the next years of her life learning to trust men again. Now I’m reading her book “Island Healing”, book one of her St Anne’s Island Series. This one is about a man fighting to keep his sobriety when he meets a recently divorced woman. Both are trying to find a new path through life, and that path, of course, leads to each other. I highly recommend this author.

I was also reminded of another writer friend, Jennifer Trethewey. I have her four-book series, “Highlanders of Balforss”. Those I’ve only had for two years. They’ve been moved to the top of the pile to be read next. I love a good men in kilts story. (Don’t even get me started on Diana Gabaldon. Book 10 of Outlander comes out in November! I can hardly wait.)

So, more on them later.

Morning Coffee: “Hope Harbor”

This past spring I was given the opportunity to participate in an anthology, “Hope Harbor”, with proceeds going to Operation Underground Railroad. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. While subgenre and time period were my choice, all stories had to include a magic ring, a pirate, and a lighthouse . . . and no sex scenes. From historical fiction, to paranormal, to contemporary, six authors came together with six stories to benefit a worthy organization that works to rescue stolen and exploited children.

Thus was born my story, “A Light In The Darkness”: An artist and lover of lighthouses, Annalise Hopewell O’Shay gave up on love when her fiancé was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. When her beloved grandmother passed away seven years later, she inherited a legendary pirate’s ring and a train ticket to Hope Harbor, the town where the ring’s story is said to have begun. The ring is believed to bring untold wealth to anyone who possesses it. It brought the pirate Gideon O’Shay wealth in the form of a great love, Temperance Hopewell. Will it do the same for their many times great-granddaughter?

Connor Hunter moved to Hope Harbor with his ten-year-old son Andrew after his wife died, looking for a fresh start as the Hopewell Lighthouse keeper. When he meets Annalise, they both feel an instant attraction. Could it be the power of the ring?

I’m proud to be a part of this collaboration and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. It’s available in both paperback and ebook at Amazon.

Morning Coffee: Past, Present, and Future Jane

Growing up, I most wanted to be an actress. I also considered teacher, nurse, and briefly, nun. (No doubt due to Sally Field and the “Flying Nun”.) Instead, I’m a writer. It’s not terribly different, really, from actress. Mainly, this way I get to play all the characters. What about Future Jane? Life is a learning process, a constant change. Hopefully it’s for the better, but sometimes our decisions are for the worse.

But I can’t fail unless I try. And if I try, I just might succeed.

So, going forward now that I’ve published a couple of books, it’s PR. The personal face-to-face kind. I need to learn how to be comfortable putting myself out there. At first it wasn’t a problem. It wasn’t my choice to stay hidden behind my closed office door, huddled alone at my computer. “Mary Bishop” came out just as the COVID-19 pandemic was locking down the country. I couldn’t go to events if I wanted to. It wasn’t allowed. They were all canceled. But I no longer have that excuse.

With that in mind, if you’re in the Des Moines, Iowa, area on September 25th, you can find me at Authors on the Artwalk. And really looking forward, on June 18, 2022, I’ll be at Wild Deadwood Reads in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Hope to see you there.

Morning Coffee: Are All Books Created Equal?

Do you finish reading every book you start? I don’t. Well, I do most of the time, but every now and then I start one where I just can’t justify my time. Life is short and there are too many good books calling my name. More than I can read in a lifetime.

It happened to me again recently. I’ve been trying to read it, hoping it would improve, but it just didn’t. I now have a better understanding of my own editor’s comments regarding passive versus active voice. This book is written almost entirely in passive voice. The author is merely telling the story rather than allowing the reader to experience it.

We did this…we did that…then time passed and we did something else… Very little dialogue and action mixing with the narrative. It keeps putting me to sleep.

This wouldn’t be the only reason I don’t finish a book. It has been several years, but the one before was confusing. It advertised as the first in a series, but it read like I was being dropped in the middle of whatever was happening to the heroine. The story’s premise was interesting, so I pushed on for a while hoping for a sudden clarification, but it never came so I deleted it from my kindle. Happy I had bought it on sale. The time before I quit early in a NYT best seller because I didn’t like the bad guys. I know, you’re not supposed to, but I REALLY didn’t like them.

Each time I moved on to something else and was glad for it. Last week I picked up an Eloisa James book I purchased at a book signing several years back. I’ve had it in my to-be-read pile ever since and am reminded what is truly good writing. This one is hard to put down. I even feel a little sorry for the bad guy.

As I said, life’s too short to waste on a boring, or just plain bad, read. When I pick up a book, I want to be thrown head first into another time and place filled with interesting people who will help me forget whatever’s going on in my own world.

It’s the same when I’m writing. I spend more time editing the first chapter than any other. I know if I don’t catch my readers right from the start, the rest of the book doesn’t matter.

Morning Coffee: I Need Your Vote!

If you read my book and enjoyed it. Or, if you didn’t but want to help out an author with her debut novel, I need your vote.

“Mary Bishop” received a 4.5 star review from In’Dtale Magazine last year. This means I’m eligible for this year’s Rone Award. First round voting is for readers. Top four in each category move on to final industry voting. My category, Historical Victorian-20th, is open for reader voting May 10th-16th. I’d love your vote. To do so, you will need to first register at . Fast, easy, and free, you will receive their monthly e-magazine of articles and reviews of indie and small press published romances of all subgenres. When you register, you will receive a confirmation email. Once you confirm it was, indeed, you who registered, you will be able to vote. If you don’t care to get their emails, you can always unsubscribe after. Feel free to share this information with anyone you think may be interested. I need all the votes I can get.


Morning Coffee: A Busy Couple of Months

I realized today that it’s been two months since I last blogged!! I’ve been very busy. Where do I start?

Well…our daughter got married in North Carolina in April. A beautiful day despite the rain. Every bride deserves her happily-ever-after, her knight in shining armor, her prince, and Katy got that on April 10th when she married Jason. She also gained a lovely step-daughter, Jayda. The emotion is indescribable when a mother watches the father walk his daughter down the aisle; and then to return with her love and a big smile on her face.

The wedding also gave us the opportunity to spend more time with our five-month-old grandson who lives in Florida. He was an official groomsman-in-training. His mother even found him an outfit to match daddy’s when they preceded the bride down the aisle: blue jeans, a white shirt, and his own little lavender bow tie. He was a hit! Almost outshone the bride and groom…but not quite.

My most recent news is the publication of my second novel. The first in the Pine Lake Girls trilogy, “Alice: The Betrayal”, released this weekend and available in both paperback and ebook. Check out my “Publications” page for details. It was an interesting project as it takes place in 1918 with the Spanish Flu epidemic a big part of the plot. I actually finished the draft before COVID-19 was even a small seed of worry in anyone’s head, and I did all the editing during our pandemic. Much of the time while in shut-down. It definitely had a surreal aspect to it.

I’m currently working on two projects. Obviously, the Pine Lake Girls book two, Betty’s story, to be released in 2022. But also, a short piece for an anthology. I received my edits for that today. All proceeds will go to charity and I’ll have more details as the release date approaches.

So, that’s my excuse for not blogging in such a long time. I’ll try to do better, or at least have a good excuse for my absence. In the meantime, get yourself a copy of Alice’s story and let me know what you think. Writers live on reviews.

Morning Coffee: Editing

I’ve been deep in the pits of writer’s hell, otherwise known as editing, for some months now. Personally, I find edits easier than the rough draft, but that doesn’t make the process painless. Having to change, or even delete, my precious words can feel like no less than murder.

I recently received the second round of editor’s notes for my next novel. This after months of self-editing, followed by two months of going through her first round. A part of me wishes I could sit back and do anything but write for a while. But, in truth, the novel itself is not the only step toward publication. It’s certainly the biggest part, but it’s not all that needs to be done.

I need to get to work on the blurb for the back cover. Short but, in some ways, even more difficult to write than the body of the book. I also need to contact my cover artist to start working on that very important selling point. It’s the first thing to catch the reader’s attention, get that person to pick it up. Second most important would be that back cover blurb.

“Is this the type of story I like to read? If it’s not a genre I would normally read, is it one I find interesting enough to buy?”

Normally, once the process comes to a close on a book the writer can then turn to a completely new project. In this case, my current work-in-progress is the first in a trilogy. So, I’m not done with these characters. And they’re not done with me.

Watch for the first of the Pine Lake Girls, “Alice: The Betrayal” coming this spring.

Morning Coffee: A New Year

You probably noticed I’ve been a little absent since the end of 2020. I’ve been on an extended vacation in warm weather getting to know our new grandson. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t writing. I spent part of each day working on edits for my next novel.

I plan on having Alice’s story in The Pine Lake Girls trilogy out this spring. So stayed tuned.

In the meantime, I’ll be making more frequent trips south. As cold as it is here right now, those Gulf breezes are calling my name even louder than before. And let’s face it, I can write anywhere…except, apparently, in the same room with the grandson. He can be sound asleep and the minute he hears gently typing on my keyboard, he wakes right up and insists on Grandma paying more attention to him. And he already knows I can’t say no to him. His big blue eyes steal my soul, and his smile melts my heart. Never mind what his tears do to me.

And he knows it!

So, I’ll be rethinking how I can best use my writing time. After all, writing the first book in a trilogy means I have to write books 2 and 3, as well.

Morning Coffee: Finding Thanks

2020 has been a hard year for all of us. The holiday season is here and we still haven’t shaken this virus. Thanksgiving won’t be the same, and that will be easier for some people than others. Whether you’re spending Thanksgiving alone this year, or with fewer family and friends than usual, we can still give thanks.

Finding things to be thankful for, rather than dwelling on all the things that have gone wrong this year, will brighten the darker days. I’ll go first.

I’m most thankful for a little guy named Connor. Born 3 weeks early, and just shy of 5lbs, he is healthy. And he has stolen my heart. In case you haven’t guessed, Connor is our grandson . . . our first grandchild . . . and my greatest love since the births of my own children.

He lives far away and will be a month old before I get to see him in person, but that’s all right. Right now, he’s getting special one-on-one time with his parents and his other grandparents. When you combine his baptism, Christmas, and the one-month condo rental I have all lined-up in sunny south Florida, I’ll have six weeks of snuggles, kisses, and that wonderful new baby smell. The character of Frank Barone summed it up in Everyone Loves Raymond when he said, “Suckin’ in the youth!”

Then I’ll get to start planning my next visit.

Despite everything, we all have something to be thankful for this year. What’s yours?