Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

My new favorite show on TNT, GOOD BEHAVIOR, closed with this moody Rhianna piece and I loved it. Fit the scene perfectly.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


In Deanna Raybourn’s A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING, intrepid butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell (I’ve finally stopped smirking everytime I read her name) and her crime-solving partner, natural historian Revelstoke Templeton-Vane aka Stoker, are thrown into a mystery that completely lives up to the book’s title.
This second adventure with Veronica and Stoker doesn’t suffer from a sophomore slump and if anything, it rachets up the tension and stakes for our protagonists.  We learned of Veronica’s unknown parentage in the first book and that fact is now a guarded secret in certain vaunted circles of society. Veronica, however, is unconcerned and mostly unbothered by this new information. I say mostly unbothered because Veronica is naturally a curious person. At the behest of esteemed persons who might or might not be connected to her, she agrees to look into the case of an artist who’s been murdered with the intent of clearing the artist’s married lover, wrongly accused and literally steps away from the gallows. On their way to uncovering the culprit, Veronica and Stoker encounter a truly chilling adversary who has committed a heinous murder and is intent on escaping punishment as well as seeing an innocent man hanged in his stead.
This is a masterful telling and the layers of the mystery and other interesting items are peeled back in a manner that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Personally, I love books that impart knowledge along with a healthy dose of entertainment and this is a feast for the senses, especially for those with an interest in art and natural history. Raybourn’s already proven her deft hand at keeping the tension of a story at a high level while also holding readers in thrall with desire for a romance with the first book in this series. Patience darlings, patience. Perhaps we’ll get that molten hot Stoker scene we’re all clamoring for if we just can hold out.
We also find out a bit more about Stoker and his status as the black sheep of his aristocratic family when yet another Templeton-Vane shows up. I like to movie cast my reading and I kept picturing Adrian Turner at his best Ross Poldark, as Stoker. I waffle between Eva Green and a dark-haired, young Helen Mirren as Veronica. And when I grow up, I want to be Lady Wellie, who’s enjoying all the privileges of riches and has lived her entire life to suit herself. All of the characters leap off the page with depth and nuance.
             This book has everything a good Gothic Victorian mystery should have—compelling characters, a gripping murder mystery and rich detail and description that drops the reader right into the period, giving the book weight and teeth. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and can’t wait for the next one.  
I received this book from Berkley through Netgalley.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Another installment of Listening While Writing, brought to you by the Slowest Writer in the World

Hello friends!!

It's me, the original Layabout Jones, here after an extended absence. Thanks to the help of some good friends from my Chicago-North RWA chapter, I've been writing steadily (waves at Shannyn, Julie, Maribeth, Ryann and Nina!) and I'm making progress on adding new words to my latest manuscript and cutting excess ones from my old WIP.

Now, I've always found listening to music fuels my creativity, especially when the song might inspire some bit of the story or feels like a good fit for the overall theme. I read an interview with the ultra-talented writer, C.S. Pacat, where she mentioned using noise-cancelling headphones and having to leave her house to get any work done because otherwise, she faffs about and accomplishes nothing (OH MY GOD JUST LIKE ME). She also said that instead of listening to a playlist, she tends to stick to a single song on repeat to keep her in the headspace for the story. I'm not one to scoff at new ideas, so I thought I'd try it and lo and behold, it does work. I can't say that I'll give up on playlists forever, but focusing on one song, is helping me to FOCUS. See what I did there? I know, I crack myself up too ;)

Anyway, here is the Alessia Cara song that's been getting a workout for my Belle meets Emma WIP. My latest work opens with my mixed-race aristocratic heroine, Lady Cecile, hiding behind the drapes in an alcove at a Regency house party:

So, what about you? Playlist, single song, silence? What helps fuel your creativity?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Writing Software

Hello friends!

I feel like I'm always apologizing for not being here more often. It's true that I struggle with wondering if anyone is interested in my random blathering about the state of my writing or if, like me, you wish I'd just get on with it :)

Well, in the interest of taking advantage of a good patch of health (my own and various relations), I'm rewriting and writing. The first is my original and long suffering duo of books concerning my modern billionaire/reincarnated goddess, Raven LeFevre. The second is a stand alone novel that's actually set, in part, in the world of those books (nineteenth century) involving a school mate of one of the central characters who finds himself in a somewhat similar predicament--falling in love with a woman considered "other." The third is as close to a contemporary murder mystery as I'll get since it's set in a nebulous time that might be the sixties or it could be the eighties, not sure.

You see the problem. I need HELP. Anyway, I'm test driving some new writing software in the hopes of being able to better organize my pages. I have Scrivener but sometimes it feels much more complicated and that tends to overwhelm me. On Facebook another writer, who also has Scrivener, mentioned how much easier and more streamline the software Storyist is. I've downloaded the free trial and so far so good. But I'm wondering if there's anyone else who's switched or has an opinion one way or another about either program.

Any and all thoughts are appreciated.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015

I'm feeling better and drafting two novels, so I thought I'd give it a try. It can't hurt to have all that encouragement, can it? If you're doing the same and are so inclined, feel free to "friend" me there and we can all yell at each other to get our butts back in the chair so we can get our word count in.

Wishing us all the luck!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Your Love and My Due Diligence

Hello sadly neglected blog!

The title of this post, taken from the Lera Lynn song (jointly written with Roseanne Cash and T-Bone Burnett, I think) The Only Thing Worth Fighting For, sums up what I hope will be our relationship going forward. It's also my favorite line amongst many favorite lines in that song. You should give it a listen as soon as you get a chance.

Love and diligence are also themes that run throughout what I've been reading lately. There's  Kristan Higgins' IF YOU ONLY KNEW, the story of two sisters navigating the world of love and learning to stay true to each other and more importantly, to themselves. Next, there was Kate Meader's MELTING POINT, where Chicago firefighter, Gage Simpson, and renowned chef, Brady Smith, find meaning, healing and purpose in each other's arms. Let's not forget WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT, Tessa Dare's latest wonderful addition to her 'ladies inheriting castles where shenanigans ensue' series. Madeline Gracechurch didn't think of the consequences when she created and then killed off, a fictitious Scottish officer/fiancĂ© until the consequences in the form of one Captain Logan MacKenzie arrived on her doorstep to claim his bride. Earlier in the month, I made all the good book noises when Robin Hobb's FOOL'S QUEST: Book II of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy arrived via Kindle. Hobb takes us back to two favorite characters who are now older and sometimes wiser (and sometimes not) as they set out to retrieve or revenge the loss of their daughter, Bee. If I had two brains cells to rub together or any kind of self-control,  I would've waited until this trilogy was complete because the minute I finished it the whining for the next book began. It's like being a George R.R. Martin fan has taught me absolutely nothing.  I never learn.

I've also been writing, which, YAY for that because after some lingering health issues, writing definitely took a back burner position in terms of priorities. It was never far from my mind, but I just couldn't get it done. I'm happy to say that I'm feeling inspired and rejuvenated, so let's hope it translates onto the page. 

What have you been doing? Read anything good lately? 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fairy Tale Love and A Giveaway

So, it's no secret that I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan. Also, I am really excited to have been asked to contribute to the #LastReads series at Land of Lost Books. I mean, what a fascinating concept! You get to choose the very last book you read, so it can be infused with as much or as little emotion or whatever, as you've decided. I'm a lifelong reader and the collection I chose, The Coloured Fairy Tales edited by Andrew Lang specifically The Blue Fairy Book and the Green Fairy Book, were almost nudged out by a Gaiman book.

When my boys were little, I read to them every night. Even now, we still share books. One of the books we read (even before they saw the excellent film) was Neil Gaiman's STARDUST. If Lang, Aesop and the Grimm brothers are names that immediately leap to mind with ancient fairy tales, then Neil Gaiman is the master of modern fairy tales--CORALINE, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and STARDUST, all favorites.

My kids love, love, love STARDUST and the movie just solidified those feelings. I mean, who wouldn't with that cast? Robert DeNiro, Claire Danes, Mark Strong, Peter O'Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Henry Cavill, Ricky Gervais and voiceover by Sir Ian McKellan. What's not to love about a peasant boy thinks who fancies himself in love with the local rich girl/princess only to find out that he's the last male in a magical royal line, destined to be with a star who falls to the earth? There's pirates, seven greedy princes, a scheming and dying king and three delicious sister-witches all hellbent on finding that elusive earthbound star.

So, in honor of my #LastReads post, I'm giving away a copy of the tale that almost made it . Leave a comment at my post at Land of Lost Books to be entered into a drawing open to all domestic and international shipping destinations. Feel free to share this!