My Year in Books ~ 2016

I logged a lot of pages on Goodreads this year – 32,786 to be exact! I almost doubled my initial challenge of 52 books by reading 99 – 99!!! I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to reach that number again. I’ve already made a resolution not to spend 2017 with my nose stuck in a book . . . too much of the time 🙂

If you’re interested, check out the books I read during my 2016 reading challenge. And, as always, if you share my love of books, feel free to add me to your friends on Goodreads!

Here’s to a wonderful 2017 to all – happy reading!




The Best Submission Trackers for Busy #Writers

Image result for frazzled writerThe submission process isn’t an easy thing. Whether periodical or agent, every venue you submit to has their own individualized requirements. It’s hard enough following all the specific directions, jumping through all the hoops, hoping that you don’t commit some dire error or major faux pas that keeps you from ever getting published (who hasn’t sent a query to an agent using the wrong name >.<) – so why make it harder on yourself by risking a repeat submission?

Sure, you can create your own spreadsheet, a private little diary of shame and rejection. I’ve done it. I poured precious time and energy into maintaining it, too, time I could have spent writing or submitting, only to (eek, whoops!) make a mistake and resubmit the same piece to a very unforgiving editor (at least it’s one less place to worry about ever having to submit to again).

Stop the insanity!!!! There are easier ways. Ways that will even help you to find more markets to submit to.

The (Submission) Grinder is a free website. Duotrope charges for its services ($5 a month or $50 for the year). Both help you search for magazines and anthologies to submit to. They will also keep track of where you submit to, how long the submission has been out, and your acceptance and rejection rates (if you update your submission responses). By reporting your responses, the sites are able to compile submission statistics for each publications such as a magazine’s response time, rejection to acceptance ratio, where other writers sent similar submissions to, etc.

I have more experience with Duotrope. You can run a more detailed search, looking for the markets with the quickest response times, the highest acceptance rates, the pay structure, the format they publish, and more in a fraction of the time it would take you to research on your own. I can’t recommend it enough.


Now, on to querying agents . . . . I’ve found that it’s much easier to keep track of agent queries, but it’s an isolated, frustrating world to be in alone. So many questions, so few answers, no one else to feel your pain or share your angst with.

That’s where Query Tracker comes in. This site can help you find agents to submit to and will keep track of your submissions. They provide the average time for each agent to respond with a rejection, or to request a full. There’s also an awesome little comments section where people can post, so you can share that after 3 days the agent requested a partial (hurray!), or sent a rejection (boo). They also offer an array of statistics with a paid subscription of $25 a year.

It can be a long, lonely road on the trip to publication, Hopefully, these tips will help your journey to be quicker and less solitary! How do you keep track of your submissions – what works for you?

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson ~ Fiction Book Review



This book, originally written in Norwegian, has probably lost a lot in translation. Told from the perspective of an aging man who has moved to a secluded cabin in the wilderness to be by himself, it is a coming-of-age tale, both of his teenage years as narrator Trond reflects upon his youth, and as an old man as he ruminates about his current situation. Even after translation, the story is beautifully written.

My issue with this book, however, is that I was waiting for something that never happened. The big payoff, the defining moment, the climax – call it what you will, it never happened for me. There were plenty of smaller events, but no one big pivotal moment. Or maybe I just missed it. Chances are that I’ve been spoiled by mainstream fiction and its cheap thrills. This was a lovely book, it really was. I just prefer books with a little more action than self exploration. However, it has won a TON of awards, so it was definitely worth checking out. 4 stars.

39 Perfectly Timed Photos Of Man’s Best Friend That Are Doggone Funny via Pawsome

Some of these are so funny, I had to share – they can’t help but bring you some holiday cheer!  😛        Season’s Greetings!

Click the for more: 39 Perfectly Timed Photos Of Man’s Best Friend That Are Doggone Funny (Slide #1) – Pawsome

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp ~ Fiction Book Review

25823344This book by Dutch author Marieke Nijkamp got off to a bit of a rocky start. It introduces a lot of characters and scene changes before you have a chance to find your footing (knowing who is who, etc.). But it quickly gains depth and momentum, and by the end I not only knew the characters, but I cared about what happened to them as well.

The book could benefit from another round of editing for consistency (details like the auditorium is either soundproof, or you can hear the gunshots around the school), but nothing major. As far as books about gun violence in schools goes, I would have liked to have seen more insight into the shooter’s motive and choice to turn to violence. A quick and easy young adult read. 4 stars.

Looking For Alaska by John Green ~ Fiction Book Review

99561Like all books that get a lot of hype, this one has received mixed reviews. A lot of love, a lot of hate, and plenty of middle of the road, “Mehs”.  Personally, I really enjoyed it. It didn’t make me cry, but then again, The Fault In Our Stars, the book for which author John Green is most known for, didn’t either. What this book did do was make me both think and feel.

It reminded me of my own youth, that tumultuous time of constantly being in emotional overload, sometimes without even knowing why, and of making piss poor decisions against my better judgement. (I blame it on my ‘not quite fully developed’ frontal lobe.)

What I love most about this book, and this whole new crop of awesome  books that are taking over the YA market, is that they treat teenagers as humans.  Imagine that. Those grumbly little misfits may actually be intelligent creatures with pain, frustration, and other feelings that adults may identify with. Go figure. 5 stars.