Five Things You can Do – Part 1

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time (Thanks!), you know that I’ve got a weekly feature called Five Thing Thursday. This week, I’d been kicking around ideas for today’s post and I thought – in the spirit of Five Thing Thursdays, I’d talk about five things we can all do while we’re hunkering down, waiting for pandemic season to pass us by.

(Note: Self-isolating, social distancing, and washing your hands are all givens here. As is taking care of yourself and being an extra good human being.)

Quite unexpectedly, things exploded. I had this list of five things and I wanted to offer five recommendations, then I wanted to talk about them all.

It was then that I realized that to cram all that stuff into a single post would not only be asking too much from you, Reader, but it would also muddy the waters for the individual recommendations.

So I decided to break it up into parts and here – before your very eyes – I present Part one of Five things you can do while you’re Self-Isolating.

Thing #1: Read a Book!

This should come as a surprise to…well, absolutely no one. I *Love* reading, and while you’re behind closed doors, you can crack open a few doors within these pages and take a quick peek.

Be warned: You might be tempted to crack that door open a little wider – just to get a better look, that’s all. Do that, and there’s no telling where you may be swept off to…

Blogger’s note: In some of these cases, these are part of multiple-book stories. I am utterly unrepentant for the amount of time you’re going to spend in those worlds as a result of my actions here. Ye have been warned…

  1. A Big Ship at the End of the Universe by Alex White

Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she’s washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she might have stumbled on something real–the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.

Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the darling of the racing world–until she witnesses the murder a fellow racer. Framed for the murder and on the hunt to clear her name, Nilah only has one lead: the killer also hunts a woman named Boots.

On the wrong side of the law, the two women board a smuggler’s ship that will take them on a quest for fame, for riches, and for justice.

I loved this book. It took my two jams: Space Opera and Fantasy and smashed them together like two planets hitting each other. And there’s a spot of romance – what could be better?

2. His Dark Magic by Pat Esden

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle’s real motives, as well as Devlin’s…

Now Merlin’s demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin’s uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can’t defeat—and a passion that could destroy her.

Full disclosure: Pat is a friend of mine. Having said that, I turned down the opportunity for a free ARC of this book to purchase it, and the story was worth every penny. If you like Urban Fantasy, go put it in your eyeballs. You’ll be glad you did. Then you’ll be glad that Book Two is out.

3. What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson

One of the world’s most storied musicians, Bruce has lived an extraordinary off-stage existence too. A true polymath, Bruce is, or has been, an airline pilot and captain, an aviation entrepreneur, a beer brewer, motivational speaker, film scriptwriter, twice-published novelist, radio presenter, TV actor and a world-class fencer.

Now, for the first time, Bruce tells his story in his own words. In WHAT DOES THIS BUTTON DO?, Bruce (a man who famously never gives interviews about his personal life) shares the most fascinating recollections, including his thirty years with Maiden, the early days, his childhood within the eccentric British school system, going solo, realising his dream of flying jumbo jets and his recent battle with tongue cancer. Bruce Dickinson is so much more than the frontman of one of the biggest bands on the planet. A rock icon, a true renaissance man, Bruce has been, and remains, a man of legend.

You don’t need to be an Iron Maiden fan to enjoy this book. It helps, but Bruce is open, honest, and – more than anything else – entertaining.

4. Flotsam by R J Theodore

Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Now on the run from cultists with powerful allies, Talis needs to unload the ring as quickly as possible. Her desperate search for a buyer and the fallout from her discovery leads to a planetary battle between a secret society, alien forces, and even the gods themselves.

Talis and her crew have just one desperate chance to make things right before their potential big score destroys them all.

I just have one word to say about this book: Sporkpunk.

Ok, I’ve got more than one word to say about this book. Flotsam had me hooked from page one. I’ve got a physical copy of this book and it sits on the bookshelf that I look at when I’m looking for inspiration as a writer.

5. Salt+Stilettos by Janet Walden-West

Brett Fontaine learned early that appearance matters and not to count on anyone but yourself. Trading her red-dirt roots for the title of Miami’s go-to image consultant, she refuses to let anything jeopardize her new life.
 
Not an influential client-turned-stalker who’s up for parole.
Not post-kidnapping panic attacks.
Certainly not the stubborn, attention-phobic chef she’s challenged to transform into a celeb in ninety days.
 
Will Te’o can almost taste the dream he sacrificed American Samoa, culture, and cherished family ties for—opening a four star restaurant in the most cut-throat culinary location in North America. Unfortunately, that requires navigating it’s equally cut-throat social scene. When his first public performance ends in a social media spectacle, his only option is turning to the stiletto-wearing nemesis who’s invaded his kitchen.
 
Neither expected to share anything but barbs, yet somewhere between accidentally bonding over comfort food and office-wrecking sex, they’re named South Beach’s hottest pairing. Until Brett’s stalker engineers a reputation-shattering reveal. She may be going down, but she’s not taking Will’s dreams with her. Now Will’s pulling out all his new skills and cooking up a last-ditch event. He’ll prove to Brett that relying on the right person makes for the perfect recipe—or be left heartbroken in the spotlight.

OK, more Full Disclosure:

First, this book hasn’t been released yet. There aren’t even pre-order links to make grabby-hands at – and I am *So* making grabby hands. Why am I including it in this list, you may ask? Well, I want to put it in front of you because there’s a rule of marketing that says that folk will need to encounter something 7 times before they decide to buy. This is once.

And, honestly, if I’ve got to suffer and wait, then so do the rest of you.

Secondly, Janet has been my friend and Critique Partner ever since I’ve started taking storytelling seriously. This is her debut novel and I could not be happier or more proud of my friend and I want to help her knock this book out of the park!

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This wraps up my Five Book recommendations to keep you warm and take you away while in the safety of your own home.

I’ll see you on Thurs–

Wait…what?

Oh, there’s one other bookish thing you could do:

Leave a Review!

If you liked any of the above books – or any book, really – Please tell someone about it. You can do this, too, from the safety of your own home. Hop on Twitter, or Goodreads, or Amazon, email everyone in your contacts list, Shout it from the rooftop (Which is now a socially acceptable thing to do). Word of mouth sells books, and we all need more stories.

I’ll see you on Thursday. Be Excellent to each other.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

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Five Thing Thursday: March 26th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: After a week and a half of self-Quarantining (No, I’m not sick), my schedule is an absolute shambles.

Thing #2: I’ve learned this about myself: The day job, once I’ve let it into the house, will take over my entire life if I let it.

Thing #3: I refuse to allow that to happen.

Thing #4: This Week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by…Blind Guardian.

Thing #5: I’m going to try and implement a few new organizational techniques to bring life back into balance. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Be safe out there…

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What am  I reading this week?

Needful Things by Stephen King

The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? It’s been hard to relax with everything going on lately. I’ve been reading a lot, and gaming and sleeping.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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One Moment Please…

Well it sure has been a week, hasn’t it? I hope you’re all safe and well on your way to adjusting to the new normal. There’s been quite a bit of shake-up around the world lately and it’s had an effect on all our lives.

Myself, I’m working remotely until the turn of the month at least and yesterday was the first day I’d left the house in more than a few days.

What I’d like to talk about came to me while I was doing one of the few things that haven’t yet been impacted by everything going on out there in the world: Taking care of the critters.

I was listening to a rugby podcast while I was working (Which one you ask? The England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line ) and during the episode there was discussion about dealing with anxiety. About how there’s this drive to be perfect all of the time, not only in the moment, but in the future as well.

As I listened, I started to see myself in parts of the discussion. Every now and again, the brain-weasels will come visit and, most of the time, it’s either about what’s gone on in the past, or it’s about what’s going to happen in the future and how I’m going to react to that, how I can control what hasn’t happened yet.

Certainly there’s a time and place for reflection and learning from not only mistakes, but from the times when I got it right. But the past, as they say, is history. I can’t change any of it. The best I can do is to take what I can and move on.

Also, certainly, there’s a time and a place to make plans for the future, but I can’t control what’s to come, from the here and now. The best I can do is to prepare, yet be flexible enough to adapt, if things change.

I’ll see you on Thursday. Be Excellent to each other.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

Posted in Challenges, LIfe, Mental Health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five Thing Thursday: March 19th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: It looks like Balticon is going to be a no go this year. I’m still waiting on official confirmation, but that’s the way the wind is blowing…

Thing #2: It’s dark (as I’m drafting this) and a bit cold. I’m wearing socks so thick that I can feel them between me and the floor. It’s quiet. So quiet that I can hear the scritch of my pen across the page. This is one of my favorite times.

Thing #3: In whatever way you can, try and look out for others. That one small thing you can do may be everything to someone else.

Thing #4: This Week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by…Sabaton.

Thing #5: There’s uncertainty out there. And Fear. But there is also hope, and strength, and Light. And, yes, it might take a bit more effort to find it with everything coming at us all the time from all directions, but it’s there.

Add yours to it.

Together, we’ll get through.

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What am  I reading this week?

The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne

The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? Still easing back into the routine this week, so lots of down time.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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Hang in There

I don’t know about you, but coming into this weekend kinda felt like we were on the cusp of “Something” happening. It seemed like we were all collectively bracing for some kind of impact.

Now I haven’t been living under a rock, I know all about what’s going on in the wider world, but the way that folk had been behaving – not just in my neck of the woods, but all over – you’d think that this weekend would be some kind of point where it suddenly got, noticeably worse. Like one minute you’re standing on dry land and the next, the tidal wave hits and you’re struggling to stay afloat.

And yes, that narrative is perpetuated in darn near every form of social media, and you can see it in the stores where folk are hurrying back to their cars with stacks of toilet paper nearly as tall as they are.

But here we are, on a Sunday morning, and I’m thinking about the week ahead like I always do. That “Something” never happened.

Don’t get me wrong, some things did happen. Wiser heads came to some hard decisions. Decisions that I don’t think I’ve seen in my lifetime so far. Sporting seasons postponed, or straight up cancelled – despite the hit to the bottom line that is surely coming. I’m seeing people reaching out to those that need it. Folk deciding to maybe ease off the accelerator and spend a day or two playing games, or reading, or catching up on that new television show.

And yes, there are some folk out there who are trying to use the current climate to make a quick buck off the backs of their fellow Earthlings, but when those folk are exposed the reaction is more “What a wretched thing to do” than it has been in the past.

So if you’re not one of those people, keep doing what you’re doing (and if you are one of those people: Knock it the hell off). Keep being decent. Keep taking care of yourself and others. Maybe we’re still on the upward slope where things will continue to get worse before they get better, but together we’ll push through it to something better on the other side.

I’ll see you on Thursday. Be Excellent to each other.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

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Five Thing Thursday: March 12th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: Try – and I don’t say this lightly as I’m self-aware enough to know that this’ll take some effort – and unplug one day this next week.

Thing #2: Earlier this week, I have come to realize some things that my subconscious has been politely trying to nudge into my attention. One of which is that I am sometimes not particularly adept at noticing when my subconscious has something for me. Honestly, I’m lucky it hasn’t walked off the job yet.

Thing #3: Sometimes the way forward is reached only by way of a step or two in the opposite direction.

Thing #4: This Week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by…Beast in Black.

Thing #5: Just keep going. Do what you can do – even if it means publishing a blog post 12 hours or so later than you usually do.

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What am  I reading this week?

The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne

The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? Still easing back into the routine this week, so lots of down time.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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It’s all Connected

I’ve been sick.

So much so, that I’ve been off the day-job for the majority of the week. I’m feeling better, but I’d like to take a look at this past week and maybe dispel a myth or two.

If you’re like me, you’re juggling other stuff in addition to writing. There’s the day-job, family, hobbies, etc. I’m not writing full time.

You may be tempted to think with some of those things (day-job) out of the picture for a bit, that this week has been pretty productive writing wise.

um…no.

In fact, looking at my calendar where I’ve been awarding myself stickers for days that I write and days where I’m active, things are kinda scattered. I’d like to direct your attention to Tuesday the 3rd which is about when all this kicked off.

Nothing on that day.

It stands out like a missing tooth, and will stand out all the more as the month progresses and I get back on track.

The writer part of me wanted to use “Broken tooth” to give it a bit more punch, but I pulled myself back from there because, while disruptive when it happens, we all get sick. We’ve all had missing teeth. It’s part of life, and that’s ok.

It happens. There have been days, and there will be days to come where you simply don’t have the spoons to more than the bare minimum to get by.

The point is that when it happens, you stop and take care of yourself, until you can ease back into your routine. There’s nothing wrong, or weak, or lazy about it.

Take care of yourself. You’re the only you we’ve got.

I’ll see you on Thursday. Be Excellent to each other.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

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Five Thing Thursday: March 5th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: I’m sick. Not Coronavirus type sick, but it’s kicking my ass none-the-less.

Thing #2: I even took two days off writing, because I didn’t have the energy – and that’s ok.

Thing #3: I did get some writing done on Wednesday. It was rough, and I spent a good portion of today smoothing it out.

Thing #4: This Week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by…Scraps of random songs floating through my head.

Thing #5: I will not feel guilty about taking time off work to recover.

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What am  I reading this week?

The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? So much of this week has been spent clawing my way back to health that I’m barely doing anything at all besides reading – and that’s not a bad thing.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

Posted in 5-Thing Thursday | Tagged | Leave a comment

Taking a Break from all Your Worries…

As a writer – as a creative of any kind really, but I’m speaking from a writer’s perspective – there is a lot of pressure on you to produce.

Some of it is external. I hear now-a-days that one book a year is starting to be not enough. In my opinion, that kind of pace for everyone across the board is crap. You can only do what you can do, but the pressure is still there.

Some of it is internal. All the time, I’m seeing book release announcements and I feel pressure to produce. It should be noted that this is not all from a single person, but from all of my writer friends combined. That, too is crap. That it’s not 1 person, but an entire group of people, all working independently goes to show you how much crap it is. I’d have to crank out a novel every 4 months – without fail – to make a serious attempt to keep pace.

Now there’s nothing wrong with testing yourself, but it should be an occasional thing. Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you that you’d ruin yourself if you pushed the upper limits of your abilities all the time without easing up.

You need to ease back every now and again. Not only to recover and refill the well, but to evaluate what you’ve been doing. Is it working as well as you wanted? Is it working at all?

This is a good thing – a necessary thing – and don’t let anybody tell you that it isn’t. You can’t run at 100% all of the time and you shouldn’t feel bad about easing off the accelerator. Eventually, one way or the other, you’ll have to stop for gas.

To keep with the vehicle metaphor, it really isn’t about the destination anyway. It doesn’t matter how fast you get there. Why? Because there’s always more road. Before you know it, your destination has turned into your starting line and, if you don’t take the time to appreciate it, you’ll miss it.

The journey does you the most good. Stop every now and again to take a look around and stretch your legs. Take in the air, see the sights, maybe grab a bite to eat. The road will test you, but it’ll teach you if you let it.

I’ll see you on Thursday. Be Excellent to each other.

###

Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

Posted in Inspiration, LIfe, Self Care | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five Thing Thursday: February 27th.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday and…

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: Sometimes the best thing that you can do for yourself is to stop and take a break from everything.

Thing #2: Hand in hand with Thing #1 is the agreement (Hand in hand – agreement – see what I did there?) with yourself that you will *not* try and make up for that break by working yourself extra hard to make up for that break. It never works.

Thing #3: The Next installment of the Newsletter will go live in 3 days on March 1st. You can sign up for the newsletter and get all sorts of information about what I’ve been doing and where I’m going to be, by signing up via the finely crafted ribbon at the top of the page.

Thing #4: This Week’s Audio Landscape has been brought to you by…Poison.

Thing #5: Sometimes Plan “B” is getting back up and trying again.

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What am  I reading this week?

The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne

Things She’s seen (Northern Circle Coven Series, Book 2) by Pat Esden

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? So many of my friends have been rewatching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, that I’ve decided to give it a go my own self. I’ve been enjoying it.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

See you on Sunday!

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

Posted in 5-Thing Thursday | Tagged | Leave a comment