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Monday, October 7th, 2019
Book Review: Jo-Ann Carson’s The Perfect Brew

I’ve been doing a bit of reading on and off as I can squeeze it in around the rest of life–when I was younger, I seemed to have a hell of a lot more time in a day. What happened to it all? Anyhow, I finished The Perfect Brew today, and I want to share.

First, the back cover copy:

When a witch inherits trouble …

An unexpected inheritance turns Cassie Black’s world upside-down, and she finds herself the owner of a sentient coffee-house that comes with an inter-dimensional portal and a side of ancient curse. When Cassie is summoned to attend the funeral of her great-aunt Ophelia, she finds the picturesque village on the edge of the ocean is not at all what it seems. Her benefactor’s death is suspicious, and to make matters worse, after Ophelia’s lawyer explains her will to Cassie, he drops dead in a plate of cookie crumbs. That makes two unexplained deaths, which is two too many for a good witch to swallow.

Up to her neck in mysteries, and weighed down with a curse, Cassie canvases the town to find the murderer. Of course, there are many unusual suspects, a tall, dark and annoying human detective keeps getting in her way, and a seductive warlock offers his assistance.

Will Cassie catch the villain before he kills again? Will she be able to free herself from the curse? Will Sid, her beloved cat familiar with a naughty mind, convince her to play dirty with the boys?

My review:

This is the first in a cozy mystery series–I’m not sure how long the series is intended to be. It does read somewhat as a standalone, but it leaves a lot of major questions hanging, which is frustrating. I liked the story, I liked the characters a lot, and I liked the writing. Cassie is a great character. Everybody expects her to be goody-goody, but she’s got a lot more going on and is refreshingly snarky for a girl who appears to be the proverbial girl next door. The love interest characters are definitely interesting, particularly Sanjay, and I really liked Cassie’s familiar, Sid (short for Obsidian).

A murder happens shortly after Cassie arrives in town, and she decides to track down the killer, but though that was the storyline that wrapped up in this book, it felt like it was just a subplot. The real plot was Cassie discovering her aunt’s history, that she was murdered, more about magic, and the Perfect Brew–a sentient coffee shop, which, by the way, is a very cool place. I love it.

For me, though I enjoyed the book, I feel like it wasn’t robust enough. That it really needs to be read with the other books in the series to get a better sense of the meatier part of the story, which I really want to know more about. I do plan to get the other books, because I really do like the book. It wasn’t a cliff-hanger ending, by any means, but it just felt like the end of the opening scene of a play, and that there’s a lot left unanswered and undeveloped.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019
Crap and apologies

Thank you to those of you who told me about the format problems with The Witchkin Murders ebooks. I’ve notified my editor and I *think* the corrected files are uploaded. If you have bad files, do redownload and let me know if they are correct. And I’m really sorry this happened. We don’t know what FUBARred them. And really, thank you so much for your patience.

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Want a chance to support me in a different way and also get some cool chances to read things in draft and before anybody else sees them? Then consider joining my Patreon! It’s a lot of fun. Today I posted the first two chapters of the second Mission: Magic book, The Elf Job.

Saturday, June 1st, 2019
The Witchkin Murders: Book 1 of Magicfall

Magicfall is actually the same world as The Horngate Witches books. These books are entirely separate with new characters. Here’s what it’s about:

Four years ago, my world—the world—exploded with wild magic. The cherry on top of that crap cake? The supernatural world declared war on humans, and my life went straight to hell.

I used to be a detective, and a damned good one. Then Magicfall happened, and I changed along with the world. I’m witchkin now—something more than human or not quite human, depending on your perspective. To survive, I’ve become a scavenger, searching abandoned houses and stores for the everyday luxuries in short supply—tampons and peanut butter. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, but anything’s better than risking my secret.

Except, old habits die hard. When I discover a murder scene screaming with signs of black magic ritual, I know my days of hiding are over. Any chance I had of escaping my past with my secret intact is gone. Solving the witchkin murders is going to be the hardest case of my life, and not just because every second will torture me with reminders of how much I miss my old life and my partner, who hates my guts for abandoning the department.

But it’s time to suck it up, because if I screw this up, Portland will be wiped out, and I’m not going to let that happen. Hold on to your butts, Portland. Justice is coming, and I don’t take prisoners.

Thursday, March 7th, 2019
Long time no see

I haven’t check in here for awhile. I finished The Witchkin edits (A Horngate world book) and so I’m hoping to be able to show you a cover and give you a release date soon. I’m thinking April. It’s really fun and I can’t wait for you all to see it!

In the meantime, I’m working on the fifth Diamond City book and the second Everyday Disaster book and the second Mission Magic book. I want to get all of those done by the end of summer, but only time will tell. I have to admit to being in a funk for months now and having a hard time getting my shit together.

Merlin, our heeler puppy, has taken to biting. Right now it’s improved, but it’s very worrying. I’m working hard to get it figured out and I’ve been training and exercising him a lot. It’s a very odd situation, to be honest. And I found out we got him from what’s probably a puppy mill, which just sickens me.

He loves to chase balls, so we’ve been taking him out and using one of those throwers to really get some distance. He totally loves it and will keep running forever if we keep throwing.

Crowley, the corgi puppy, is still not liking getting brushed, which is a bad thing as he starts to shed. I’ve got to convince him it feels good and is worth letting that scary brush near him. I’ve used all kinds of brushes, and it’s funny because he’ll start by loving the brushing, realized he’s being BRUSHED! and decide to run off. He’s such a corgi snot.

I’ve inventoried most of my yarn and have discovered I’m a yarn whore. I’m trying to figure out projects and I have to finish some that I’ve back burnered. I have some lovely yarn, though, so I want to do some things. It’s nice when I’m watching TV, except Merlin likes to bite the yarn in half, and all three dogs like to lay on it while I’m trying to work. Sigh.

I’m reading this book by Jenna Glass titled Women’s War and it’s so far amazing. It puts me in mind of Sheri Tepper’s Gate to Women’s Country and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but instead of a future society, Glass is writing a secondary world fantasy set in a unique world with a unique magic. Looking forward to finishing the book. I think it’s going to be a really good book. Really good.

Hopefully I’ll be checking in more here. I’m hoping I”ll get out of my funk. My FIL is currently in the hospital and we aren’t entirely sure why. He’s being moved from ICU to a regular room. He had a procedure which apparently went well, but after he had breathing issues. Mind you, he didn’t tell us any of this. First we got a call from his neighbor. Hopefully all is well.

To add insult to a bad day, I had to take Merlin to the vet. I caught him eating something on a walk and I tried to get it out of is mouth, but he managed to swallow it first. I didn’t get a good look at it, but I thought it looked like a pork chop bone. So off to the vet where the Radiograms showed that he had not swallowed a bone. So crisis avoided. Whew. But expensive, and emotionally wrenching.

Friday, January 11th, 2019
Cotton Picking

Did you ever hear that phrase? I heard it fairly frequently as a kid and not so much lately. I happened to read it today and got to thinking about how bigoted that phrase is. The phrase is always pejorative: Keep your cotton picking hands to yourself. Get your cotton picking hands off that.

Off the top, it clearly refers to those who picked cotton by hand, and specifically that would be African Americans. So it’s an incredibly racist statement. Keep your black hands off whatever or to yourself. Don’t use our bathrooms either. Or our drinking fountains. It’s truly foul and I’m really glad it’s fallen out of common usage. But isn’t it amazing how just looking at it without context there’s nothing particularly offensive about it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be black and hear a phrase like that. I mean, I hear any kind of “like a girl” phrase and I get a little homicidal. Because there are no does things like a girl phrase that are complimentary to girls.

I’m trying to think of other phrases like Cotton Picking that I’ve heard that are racist and I didn’t realize. Anybody want to enlighten me?

Friday, January 4th, 2019
January: So It Begins

I haven’t been using my fitbit for quite awhile. First I accidentally washed it, and then the battery went dead and I didn’t get around to charging it. So I finally got around to charging it and today have been measuring my steps. We took a long walk and so I’ve got points on the board, so to speak. Now to keep it up.

I’m still poking at writing with little headway. This is so freaking annoying.

Merlin, the mini blue heeler, is having trouble getting along with the other puppy and the older dog. It’s a domination, where to fit in sort of problem, and I’m not sure I’m doing a very good job sorting it out. Getting the boys fixed didn’t seem to help. And the older dog is cranky about puppies anyhow. Crowley, the other puppy, takes it for awhile and then says ‘nope, done,’ and then he just goes after Merlin and frankly, Crowley comes out the winner. He sounds and acts like a grizzly.

This is Merlin just after a walk yesterday
This is Crowley wondering why I’m disturbing his nap.
Tuesday, January 1st, 2019
Happy New Year

It’s officially 2019 and the year did not start off well for me. Nothing particularly bad happened, just more stuff building that feels like a mountain of sticky tar and cement. I know, those two things don’t exactly pile up into mountains, but it’s still the way it feels. Little things happen and turn into an avalanche and the next thing I know, I’m squashed and covered in a sticky crap that I can’t get off.

And I’m whining. I’ll stop that now.

I’m working on some writing but it’s going stupid slow because I can’t seem to get focused or find good words that go together to make any kind of story. So I’m behind on writing and it’s frustrating.

I do have high hopes for this year, that I will get back on track, that I will do some new things and have new experiences, and generally get out and live more. I want to learn to kayak, I want to go explore some new hikes, go up to the snow, go do many different things. Most of all, I’m hoping to find my writing mojo again. I really need to find my mojo.

I have been getting out to do some walking. My foot post-surgery feels a lot better and the infection I got after the pin came out is gone. And I hope that the older dog starts getting along with the younger dogs. And that the two puppies start getting to like being brushed and have their toenails clipped. Right now it’s hard to do either.

Oh, and the good news is that The Turning Tide was re-released with a new cover.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018
Adventures with Di

I’m so behind on everything, I can’t begin to say. I’ve been teaching in an online MFA program and just came to the end of the term, which meant a ton of grading. I’m also wrestling with a book and I keep having to throw away what I’ve written because it isn’t right. I am having problems coming up with what is right. Then I also have been revising a book set in the Horngate Witches world. It’s going slower than it should because I also had a foot surgery, and when they took the pin out of my toe, it got hugely infected and so I’ve been dealing with that. And puppies.

I’ve wanted to get out and do something fun like go to the coast or visit the snow in the mountains, but so far, haven’t. Did get the tree up and decorated. Need to wrap and ship. Our Christmas this year is going to be super low key. I was in the mood to really do it up around Thanksgiving time, and then the whole foot thing and work deluge thing happened.

The puppies got fixed, but one of them is still very aggressive and fights with the older dog and the other puppy. I’m working with him on this and hoping that the hormones will subside before long. Apparently it can take six weeks post-fixing for that to happen. If it doesn’t, I’m not yet sure how to handle it.

The Turning Tide is re-released with a new cover!

Right now it’s pouring down rain in buckets and the wind is whipping. I want a fire, but ours is a gas fireplace that’s expensive to run, and it’s right next to the tree so I don’t want to run it and have the tree dry out.

I’m currently wedged in between puppies who are all snuggled up with me, so I’ve got that going for me.

Oh! And I was able to start knitting again! My elbow is letting me without hurting so far. That makes me a happy camper.

I feel really random in my news. Sorry about that. It’s been awhile since I’ve updated. I’m just throwing various things at you.

I’m super excited about the winter solstice and the return of the light. This is my turning of the year, when the days start to lengthen.

Oh, and here’s another thing I’ve been doing . . . . When the girlie graduates from HS, we want to move. Our taxes in this area are really high and it’s hard to make ends meet sometimes. We plan to stay in the general area, but try to get something a little farther out, and get something with a shop or room for one. So I’ve been looking at real estate and watching renovation shows on HGTV and thinking about what I will want in a house and how I can make it happen. I know it’s not happening for a really long time, but it helps me procrastinate on other things. Like I need help. *grin*

My son goes to college next year. Well, more accurately, he’ll be moving out to college. I’m not ready. He’s going to Early College High School, so for the last couple years he’s been taking all college classes at the local Community College. All those credits will transfer (or should). But anyhow, he’ll be moving to school. He’s been accepted at one of the places he applied to with a really good scholarship. He’s still waiting to hear on the others. His top choice is local. He wants to go into Chemical Engineering and there’s only one university in Oregon that offers the degree. It’s near us, but not near enough to let him live at home. But I’m still not ready.

Sigh. All right. I’m signing off for now. I’ve blathered on long enough.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

I like sappy holiday movies. I like the Hallmark movies with romance and happy endings and joyfulness. Especially given things in the world right now. I happened to notice that the Lifetime channel is showing holiday movies and so I’ve checked some of them out. I don’t usually watch the station because the movies are often really angsty/overdramatic. Anyhow, I noticed a huge difference between the Lifetime movies and the Hallmark movies, and that was the color of the cast. The Lifetime movies has entire main casts who are black, with the white cast members being incidental. And the people are portrayed as real, rather than stereotypical. I’m really happy to see this.

It’s almost shocking to see this. Why? Because it’s so atypical and it shouldn’t be. Casts in general should be more reflective of diversity. I watch lot of varied shows and don’t pay much attention to the fact that there are POC in key roles because that’s normal to me. But when it comes to holiday movies, frequently the non-white characters are singular (I hate to say token, but . . . ). The ‘white Christmas’ refers to skin color as much as snow.

There are also precious few gay characters (and never in starring roles). And overweight and disabled people largely don’t exist.

Representation matters. We need to see people like ourselves. We need to see other people and know we aren’t the only people n the world, or the only culture. We need to see that there are other ways of doing things, other ways of knowing things, and more importantly, everybody is equally valuable. We need to idealize our world as colorful and varied, rather than white, skinny, and enabled.

So I’m very pleased about the Lifetime holiday movies and have been watching them.

*on an entirely other note: Pointsettias can’t handle cold. As in, when you take an unprotected plant from the store to your car in below freezing weather, the leaves will quickly curl and drop. So all these movies (especially the one about a poinsettia farm in the heart of snow country) are portraying pointsettias wrong and it kills me every time I see them.