“Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness.”
Karen Joy Fowle
Howdy-ho! One month down, eleven to go... How was your January? Hopefully not filled with too much madness, LOL---but I must say, 2024 has been living up to the roaring 20-twenties mantra of never a dull moment! Weather extremes, pithy politics, celebrity snubs (Headline: Barbie Kencotts Oscars), and the unexpected US/UK tea controversy has made this first month of the year quite enthralling. 👀 I've been enjoying my laid-back stance this year--morphing into my 3 Faces of V as I observe and absorb the happenings around me this fine month... Does your enquiring mind want to know more? Continue, if you dare...
The Writer V: January didn't quite turn out like I thought from a writing perspective, but, important decisions have been made! I'll be publishing two books in 2024, book 9 in my cozy series and a new collection of short stories in the Hygge & Bisous Holiday Mysteries! I was struggling with book 9, trying to determine the season I wanted this tale to take place in (I know, crazy, right?) I've been going back and forth and finally settled on the months I most look forward to, Q4 (October, November, December)! This way, I get to experience my favorite time of year as write, edit, and publish 24/366.Writer block is broken. #WinWin BTW, I'm thinking we're gonna need all the seasonal joy we can muster this year...every drop. Get those holidays tales ready! #JustSayin
On the #WriterEd front, I've been enjoying my learning time and have found a few new resources to explore. Alexandra Sokoloff's Substack offers a treasure trove of material for writers at any level, highly recommended! https://alexandrasokoloff.substack.com/
I've also found 2 new resources I recently started to follow on X and will likely be taking a few of their course offerings for my new, secret writing project I hope to query:
Curtis Brown Creative @cbcreative: Short courses on writing topics and literary agent advise/guidance Curtis Brown Creative | Creative Writing Courses | Online | London - Curtis Brown Creative
I Am In Print @IAmInPrint: weekly feedback sessions with agents for advice on your MS, query letter, and synopsis Home - I AM in print Ltd
My writing projects for 2024 are locked and loaded---let's go!
The Travel V: Habla usted Inglis? Parlez vous Anglais? Parli Inglese? Eight weeks and counting 'til we set sail on our next Viking cruise around the Mediterranean!
I'm spending time boning up on basic Spanish, French, and Italian phrases (Greek and Croatian, sorry--my little gray cells can't handle, lol). The OH and I are excited for this trip--let's hope the world can hold off from unraveling until after we return!
The W-T=%!*#! V: One of the main reasons I'm taking a sabbatical this year is that I simply need to mentally distance myself from the constant influx of dubious content the world seems deluged with every-single-second on every-single-outlet.
UFOs (Jellyfish UAP spotted over the 10 Fwy), Zombie Siberian viruses, TEXIT... the headlines have been fast and furious as perils of aliens, pandemics, and whispers of Civil War (and the occasional rumblings of WW3) unfold. I'm not even going to tread into the political world with the battle of the 80 y/o's. #Sigh Here in SoCal, I'm anxious to see if our current rainstorms herald the arrival of the ARk (Atmospheric River 1000, multiple feet of rain, in a month). Apparently, it's a thang. So, when this post publishes, I may or may not be under water or out enjoying our new beach-front property...
On a lighter note, I truly enjoyed the latest kerfuffle on the topic of tea last week... Apparently, a US professor (Harvard, no doubt) declared the perfect cup of tea must include salt! #Gasp Our London embassy was quick to respond to diffuse any harsh feelings with our UK friends, but... Let's just say the topic of tea and microwaves are best not used in the same sentence... 🫖 #GaspGasp
Whew! And with that, here we are on the cusp of February Eve. I have no doubt the 2nd month of 2024 will continue to delight and amaze us with happenings we can't even begin to imagine.
It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:
A word to the authors...from an avid reader
Since mid-December last year, I have attempted to read four cozy mystery books (3 novels and 1 short story collection) of the $9.99-$14.99 variety I might add, from popular, trad-published authors. I am sad to say I could not complete them. Hideous, unlikeable characters (all of them--not one to like in one book); repeated sentences/concepts over and over, and over; and slow-as-sludge storytelling did me in.
I did my usual pre-qualifications before purchasing--read the samples, went over the reviews. saw the hype on X. And then, after a surge of excitement after purchase, huge disappointment... This happened last year as well with books I purchased for my TBR. I'm not sure if cost cutting measures or shortage of qualified editors is the problem, but something seems seriously wrong, the quality is just not there. I mean, four books in a relative row, is it just me? I won't be leaving reviews for these books. One change for me this year, however, is to no longer announce 'next reads'... #TheReaderIsNotAmused
Cookery, mystery, ghosts, and the holidays this month from the writers of X...
Author Cynthia Raleigh, Dinner is Announced, 5 ⭐
Calling all mystery fans! Travel the globe with some of your favorite sleuths and learn about the culinary creations that just might have fueled their little gray cells as they solved the deadly deeds in their world of whodunnits. This collection offers savory and sweet recipes to warm you on those dark and stormy nights and will delight discerning palates!
Author Raleigh offers mystery foodies a unique and delicious selection of recipes to savor throughout the year. Curl up with a dish to enjoy as you read your fav whodunnit. Highly recommended for fans of cozy mystery!
Author Ian Rankin, The Rise, 5 ⭐
When a grisly murder occurs at an exclusive residential tower, DS Gish and her team are on the hunt for the killer. As they delve through the clues and the pasts of the dwellers in the ritzy complex, motives and opportunities are plentiful. Is the murder of the concierge a botched robbery? Or are more nefarious forces and schemes at play?
Author Rankin weaves a chilling whodunnit filled with many twists and turns to keep you guessing. The Rise is an intriguing short story, with a chilling ending you won't see coming. A highly recommended read!
Author Maureen Turner, The Twelve Days of Christmas, 5 ⭐
Author Turner treats readers to an entertaining collection of short stories based upon the festive holiday tune in The Twelve Days of Christmas. the stories include a romantic romp; a mysterious encounter; a life changing, family inheritance; a spirit's revenge; a naughty husband; and clever maneuvers are just a few that will leave you smiling and pondering forces beyond.
This is a great collection of short stories for the holidays, or anytime you crave the mystery and magic of the season. A highly recommended read!
Author Sharon Bradshaw, Old Meg and the Fox, 5 ⭐
Author Sharon Bradshaw once again delights readers with this latest, haunting collection of tales in the Ghosts from The Bazaar series. Walled up remains, local lore, strange happenings at a dig, cherished mementos, stormy seas--all unleash eerie tidings from the spiritual realm. Are they fleeting moments of the imagination? Or warnings where not to tread?
Pull up a chair and cozy up by the fire with these chilling tales. A highly recommended read for paranormal fans, or for those of us who can't get enough of things that go bump in the night...
Attention all Dame Agatha fans--plans for the 2024 Agatha Christie Festival are being released. Details for the main event are due to be released sometime in February but the Fringe Festival events (which look awesome BTW) are here, ready (soon) to be booked! International Agatha Christie Festival | Fringe Festival (iacf-uk.org)
I'm so hoping to attend this year's festival in Torquay. The OH and I are anxiously awaiting the main event schedules--it's going to be a tight travel squeeze to work this one in (we'll be attending Bouchercon in Nashville which ends on Labor Day, giving us less than a week turnaround). Let's hope the travel fairies can work their magic! If you're planning on attending, please LMK. We also hope to spend a few days in London too. I'd love to meet up with my UK friends!
With that, it's a January Wrap. Wishing you and yours a fabulous February!
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. Have a fabtastic Valentine's Day! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑 #EatTheChocolate