Friday, September 7, 2018

Reading and Writing

If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader. Here are the books I’ve read so far this year with one sentence summaries.

Seriously, have you ever tried to keep a book summary to one sentence? It’s hard! I also think it’s a good exercise in conveying information with brevity, especially if you don’t cheat and string a bunch of independent clauses together with and's and but's.

I ★starred my fave novels and highlighted the helpful minimalist/simplicity books.


Ascendant by Michelle Dorey. With her psychokinetic powers, Keira has to stop a worldwide, demonic plan in this new-adult, paranormal thriller written with lots of exclamation points!!

Berkley Street by Ron Ripley. This book is like a fun Scooby Doo cartoon in which the main character, Shaggy (oops, I mean Shane), explores a haunted mansion and battles a deadly ghost.

The Bone Curse by Carrie Ruben. This is a medical suspense novel with a Vodou (i.e., voodoo) twist written by a real life physician who lends authenticity to the main character, a med student, and the hospital setting.

The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry. In this chick-lit book touted as a “feel-good” read, the charming, small town setting and conglomeration of kooky characters are at odds with the whiny protagonist, Della, as she tries to piece her empty-nest life back together, hmm.

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza. Dispenza made me cringe a little at the pseudo science but helped me learn how to meditate more effectively while still holding fast to my Christian beliefs.

Craven Manor by Darcy Coates. Craven is contemporary Gothic horror resplendent with atmosphere and complete with a creepy, old mansion and a scary ghost in the attic (or tower in this case).

★Cusp of Night by Mae Clair. Mae Clair presents a supernatural suspense which alternates between the late 1800s and present day, has a decidedly delicious Gothic horror flavor, and includes the best creature-ghost-fiend thing I’ve ever read.

★Darkansas by Jarret Middleton. In this literary horror novel, Middleton somehow makes the reader empathize with Jordan, the  drinking, cussing, distasteful protagonist, as Jordan battles an ancient, Arkansan curse and complex family relationships.

The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper. In this suspenseful horror novel filled with lots of cool references to Milton and the Bible, a skeptical professor has to rescue his daughter from the underworld.

A Face at the Window by Dennis McFarland. McFarland breaks all the rules about filter verbs, extended monologues, authorial intrusion, pacing, and even semi-colons to make a luscious, literary horror novel in which the protagonist, Cookson, must resist the ghosts who want to possess him.

Feasible Planet by Ken Kroes gives practical advice on how to love our fellow humans and our planet.

Fire in Broken Water by Lakota Grace. In this part police-procedural, part cozy, the lovable and adorably flawed protagonist, Deputy Peg Quincy, investigates a suspicious death on an Arizona horse ranch.

The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke. The First 50 is a practical book that explains different ways to start a novel, how to apply that knowledge to your genre and style, and why the first fifty pages are so important.

Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus. Gunhus has written a suspenseful, clean, horror novel with nice four-corner opposition between Corbin (the main character), Detective Besson, the gypsy vampires, and the albino slaves.

Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford. Through anecdotes and personal reflections, Stafford reminds her readers, especially moms, that living a good and altruistic life in public is not as valuable to your loved ones as living a good and simple life in private.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay: in which The Exorcist meets The Amityville Horror, disturbing.

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell. Bell presents a short, useful book on improving dialogue in your fiction and includes lots of easy, fun exercises.

Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben. In this small treasure with useful tips, McKibben encourages readers to trim the holiday fat so we can celebrate the stillness, joy, and community of the Christmas season.

Isabella Moon by Laura Benedict. Isabella was Benedict’s 2007 debut novel and is filled with good ghosts, a twisty plot, a small Southern town, and scary human characters.

In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson. This is literary horror at its best with poetic prose, well-developed characters, and a meaty police procedural entwined with a vampiric tale.

Mindsight by Dean Kenyon. Mindsight is a near-future, noir, medical horror in which The Big Sleep meets Blade Runner.

My Heartfelt Passion by Jim Davidson. This is a heart-warming autobiography by a Christian business leader about a program that provides books to disadvantaged children.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. Self-Editing will help a writer take a first draft and polish it to bring out the writer’s style, make the prose more engaging for readers, and give the story a fluid flow.

Simplicity Parenting by Dr. Kim John Payne. Payne’s book is a valuable reference for using simplicity and minimalism as tools for a healthy family life.

Small Town Trouble by Laura Benedict. This cozy intrigues readers with a fun mystery that takes place in a small Kentucky town and stars a co-ed as the protagonist plus a smart cat who may be a better detective than the humans.

The Treasure by Audrey Driscoll. The Treasure is an expertly written, dense, character-driven pastiche that follows H. P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West as he struggles in childhood, reinvents himself as a young adult, and experiences love as an older man.

When Christ Comes by Max Lucado. Don’t let your heart be troubled because this uplifting book is an antidote to end times anxiety.

A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons. Absolutely, seriously, do not read A Winter Haunting in the dark with a silly, little flashlight because this book is a spooky ghost story with lots of eerie, literary references, a strong sense of winter isolation, and a chilling, unsolved murder.

Writing Blockbuster Plots by Martha Alderson. Alderson shows you how to outline a novel step-by-step using a large (wall-sized!) graphic method.

Writing the Paranormal Novel by Steven Harper. Harper explains the different kinds of stories within the horror genre, from yukky gore to psychological horror to literary ghost stories and what readers expect from each.

Your Son Is Alive by James Scott Bell. In this short, clean, suspense novel, Bell features a middle-aged protagonist, Dylan, who strives to find out if his son who was kidnapped fifteen years ago could still be alive.

Make this day even better! Consider:


  • I am excited to be hosting Mae Clair (who wrote Cusp of Night, above) on my blog in just a couple of days! Both indie-published and traditionally published authors are expected to drum up publicity for their books. If you are a blogger, consider hosting an author you admire the next time he or she has news about an upcoming novel.


6 comments:

  1. Thank you god this list Priscilla. I added several titles to my 'to read' list. 😊

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    1. You're welcome. I read some weird stuff, but I read some perfectly normal stuff, too.:-) Thanks for commenting, Nil!

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  2. Wow, how did you manage to describe the books so well with just one sentence?! I'm seriously impressed!

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    1. You're so nice, H.L., thanks. Actually, it took a long time to write short!:-) I'm glad you popped in!

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  3. I feel like everyone needs to read Hundred Dollar Holiday because people go CRAZY at Christmas time!

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    1. I agree! Some people go crazy and get all stressed out over it, which is too bad because it's a wonderful holiday. Thanks for commenting, Morticia!

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