My Current Life in Books

I was going to do a new currently post, but I got really carried away writing about what I have been reading, so this will just be a post about books.


I’m taking an amazing sci-fi class called “Black Women and the Fantastic.” Our reading list so far has included: The Gilda Stories, Parable of the Sower, My Soul to Keep, and An Unkindness of Ghosts. Unkindness has been my favorite. The main character is neurodiverse and I adore her. I relate to her. I love her. I just want to hug that book. Rivers Solomon is a new favorite, and I cannot wait for their next book to release this year.

I have also been obsessed with Katherine Arden’s trilogy, via audio, starting with The Bear and the Nightingale. The second book, The Girl in the Tower, was equally beautiful. My library doesn’t yet have the third book on audio, so I am impatiently awaiting that. I love listening to these books, because the accent and language is just gorgeous, and my brain cannot do it justice.

I have been reading some interesting non-fiction as well. As I am working on this manuscript that deals a lot with how teens interact within friendships and in conflict, not to mention the gray areas rarely discussed in teen sexual relationships, I really loved Text Me When You Get Home. It reminded me so much of my own female friendships and why they matter. I also listened to American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers. This made me predictably glad that we didn’t have smartphones when I was in middle and high school. It also filled me with a lot of anger and sadness for young teens growing up thinking so much of this crap is acceptable. I am about halfway through Not That Bad, which I am reading during my writing retreat to help me stay in the right frame of mind for writing a book that deals with rape culture.

I finally gave in and read Hillbilly Elegy, but I wasn’t in love with it. It wasn’t untrue, and it was certainly well written, but the overall tone of the book felt a little paternal. Like the narrator could simultaneously explain my family background and condemn it, if that makes sense. Empathy and judgment carefully combined in a delicate dance. Or maybe I was biased from the get-go. I’d heard plenty of negative reviews before I even read it. If you want to read about that area without that tone, I suggest: Creeker or Hillbilly Gothic.

I also read a whole book in Spanish. I mean, other than the picture books and that one Junie B. Jones novel I managed a couple of years ago. My class read Aura, and I really enjoyed it. I had to look up less words as the book went on, and it helped my confidence a lot. I am looking forward to our next read: La Casa en Mango Street. I already read it in English, and I loved it.

So, that is my current life in books. I am on my own little writing retreat in a tiny cabin at camp, and I managed 1500 new words this morning (and it is only 10:30). Also, I found a cat and lured it to me with pork jerky, and we sat together in the cold and it was perfect.



The Scientific Method of Getting Luckie

Dear Neglected Blog,

I am neck-deep in two jobs and full-time school. I miss you. I miss writing my thoughts on a leisurely morning, coffee steaming beside me.

Those days will come again.

In the meantime, please take a trip over to Swoon Reads and read my book (for free) for a limited time.

The Scientific Method of Getting Luckie is the story of a boy learning about love and kissing and friendship and himself.

My oldest son has Tourette’s, and he (along with a few friends) were immensely helpful when it came to translating that experience onto the page. Of course, it will not match the experiences of EVERY person who has Tourette’s Syndrome, but it does dispel a few myths and introduce readers to a pretty awesome guy who is trying to figure it all out, just like we all are.

I hope you enjoy the read!



Alternative Theologies

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If you know me well or have read much of this blog, you already know I have a lot of struggles with faith and religion. I believe in something bigger than me, than this world, than creation. I love Jesus and want to be more like him. I am certain that loving one another and being kind to ourselves and others can change the world.

And I love to write.

I’m excited about this new anthology from B Cubed Press for all of these reasons. Alternative Theologies: Parables for a Modern World includes stories and poems from a variety of amazing authors. You will find my story, “Counting Sunrises,” among the pages, and I hope you will order a Kindle or hard copy (or both).

It has been a bit of a rollercoaster year, writing-wise and in other areas of life. School is going well. I have published a few poems and done a few readings. I received an official diagnosis of autism. My agent decided to leave agenting, and I decided to take a break from querying agents and focus instead on short fiction, poetry, and small presses. I started a second job that involves writing web copy and cropping photos for a decor business. I applied for a bajillion scholarships (and received two of the bajillion). My oldest son got his driver’s license. My youngest son started high school.

I could go on with ups and downs. Mostly ups. Instead, I just want you to go order Alternative Theologies and join me in one of the happiest experiences of my year.


And I Read: 2017 Edition

In January

I obsessively listened to the Liturgists podcast.
The word “hygge” entered my life.
I went back to college after 13 years away.
I plotted a novel about a Honduran-American girl.
The Well celebrated their first “Worship-versary.”
I struggled with children’s Bible stories.
Corey brought home a new kitten, Tegus.
I turned 35.

And I Read

Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg
The Trespasser by Tana French
Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue
Return of the River: Selected Poems by Robert Sosa
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
The Lost Husband by Katherine Center
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

In February

I went to Honduras for a long weekend.
Haydn participated in the Lift-a-thon at school.
David had an honor choir concert.
Two of my cousins died in a house fire.
I went to my friend Linda Jackson‘s book signing.

And I Read

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe
*Let Justice Roll Down by John M. Perkins
Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Dubois

In March

I took midterms.
I had the flu.
Haydn got his braces off.
The boys went to Winter Jam with the church youth.
Corey went with David to a choir event in Hattiesburg.
Haydn turned 15.
We had a yard sale at The Well.

And I Read

Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
*Dream with Me by John M. Perkins
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Jesus Freak by Sara Miles
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
Maci McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
One by Sarah Crossan
*Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr

In April

I binged the S-Town podcast.
David had a choir event in Jackson.
Corey and Haydn went to see Savannah.
The boys went to 6 Flags on a youth trip.
I had an epiphany involving science.
Corey and I spent an entire day out together.
We had a petting zoo at work.

And I Read

Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Gulliver’s Travels/A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett
Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast
Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave
Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
Timekeeper by Tara Sim
*Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
*Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson
The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

In May

My 4yo class “graduated.”
Savannah turned 17.
David turned 13.
I prepped for and took finals.
Haydn and I went to SC for a week.
David and Corey went to my nephew’s graduation in Florida.
Carrie and I went to see The Producers at Sumter Little Theater.
David left to spend a month with his Grams and Pawpaw.
I started working afternoons with school-agers at the daycare.

And I Read

Soul Chant by Asia Rainey
*This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
*Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott
The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell
*Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Still Life by Louise Penny
*The Fever by Megan Abbott
*A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

In June

I took Spanish II and Intermediate Algebra at NWCC.
Wayne replaced a part on my car.
Corey went to annual conference.
I had a poem published in Tipton Poetry Journal.
I left to spend a week with Leila.
Corey and Haydn left for Honduras.
David went to band camp at ICC Fulton.

And I Read

*Denton Little’s Death Date by Lance Rubin
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
*Home by Toni Morrison
*Dear Idjeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
*Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Have You Seen Marie by Sandra Cisneros
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (reread)
*The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzales
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
*Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

In July

Carrie and I went to a Honduran restaurant in Memphis.
I came to the end of Deconstruction.
I took Spanish II and College Algebra at NWCC.
Corey did a wedding in Brandon.
I scribbled poems for my verse novel between classes.
I finished summer classes with a 4.0.

And I Read

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
*Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum (reread)
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

In August

David got braces.
I created a sort of Butter Beer Frappe at Starbucks.
A spider bit me twice in my bed one night.
I threw myself into finishing my verse novel.
Haydn made the dress-out list for Varsity football.
The boys began 8th and 10th grades.
I started working with the full-time 4s in the afternoons.
I helped with tailgating at an OBHS game.
I toured the University of Memphis.
The Well held a big back to school party.
There was a solar eclipse.

And I Read

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
*A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
The Philip K. Dick Megapack by Philip K. Dick
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
My House by Nikki Giovanni
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

In September

I participated in a poetry “unslam” and did well.
I attended the Ink Festival in Tupelo.
Haydn went to homecoming with his friend, Bree.
Haydn walked in the homecoming parade.
I had some heart rate issues and changed some meds.
I started covering the front desk at work three days per week.
Corey took Haydn to an Andy Mineo concert.
David got first chair in band.

And I Read

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
The Myth of Equality by Ken Wytsma
*The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Love Suicides by Chikamatsu Monzaemon
*The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
Fantomina by Eliza Haywood
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
*Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
*Casting the First Stone by Kemberla Lawson Roby

In October

Carrie Bull and I went to a World Communion service in Memphis.
Tom Petty died, and I made Haydn listen to his music.
David had another choir concert.
Bert and Gayle drove down for a visit.
I aced my midterms.
I drove to Tupelo for an open mic and Corey met me there.
I revised my verse novel.
I volunteered at a mobile consulate and practiced Spanish.
The boys carved pumpkins.

And I Read

*Too Much of a Good Thing by Kimberly Lawson Roby
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
*My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Junie B. Jones espía un poquirritín by Barbara Park
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
*Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman
*Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan J. Stradal
*Chemistry by Weike Wang
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

In November

I took off work early and drove to Tupelo for Open Mic Night.
I bought a dress because it made me feel like a sci-fi princess warrior.
I met with my advisor at Memphis.
I wrote a short story for Creative Writing class.
David was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.
I registered for classes at Memphis.
Our boy kitty, Tegus, disappeared and never came home. 😦
I wrote a final paper and took four finals.
We took in a rescue kitty and named her Edna Millay.

And I Read

The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
*Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Teeny Little Grief Machines by Linda Oatman High
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
*The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
*Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
*The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander

In December

I studied for and took my Spanish final.
I paid my Memphis tuition.
I missed a couple of days of work with strep throat.
I started pre-writing for my new novel.
I did some reorganizing at my desk at work.
I was awarded an Associate of Arts from Northwest.
I Christmas shopped and wrapped, etc.
We visited Savannah in Montgomery and saw Star Wars.
We went to Blaine for  New Year’s.

And I Read

*Brutal by Michael Harmon
*The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
*Beartown by Fredrik Backman
*Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


Total: 124
Audio: 37
Non-Fiction: 19
Poetry/Verse: 22

The Red Umbrella


This book, y’all!

Every summer, Audio File gives away audio books weekly. I have a really bad habit of downloading them and then forgetting them, because I never had room to store them on my phone. Now, with a newer bigger phone, I do. I am so glad I did not download The Red Umbrella and forget about it.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez is going on my list of must-read writers. Her novel is set in Cuba and America, circa 1961. The main character, Lucía Álvarez, is a young teen at the beginning of Castro’s reign. Her parents are not part of the revolution and want to get Lucía and her brother, Frankie, to safety.

As the story unfolded, I learned a lot about Cuba and also saw similarities to aspects of America’s current political atmosphere. It was a scary realization, that thoughts in my head match the thoughts of people watching Castro take over their country. So many people were certain communism could not win, that the whole thing was a political phase that would fade into memory soon enough.  They were wrong.

The writing was beautiful and dealt with fear and tragedy in a poetic and heartbreaking manner. I loved the American couple in the second half of the story, despite Mrs. Baxter’s ignorance of Lucía’s culture and what the world is actually like outside of small town America. Her heart was pure, and the mix-and-match family created by the situation was beautiful.

I just cannot say enough good about this book. Go buy it. Right now.

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion


Yesterday, I alternated practice equations for my math final with chapters from Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves.

When I first started reading, I was slightly disappointed by the British setting, though I am not sure why. I normally adore all things British. But, the setting quickly shifted to Hungary, and that was gorgeous. I don’t know a lot about the history of that part of the world, so I got to learn and do my own research to check out new tidbits. That is my favorite part of historical fiction.

My favorite favorite was the poet in the story. I loved learning that he is a real person and actually did participate and even help spur on revolution with a poem. I firmly believe poets ARE revolutionaries. Words are power.

Another favorite about this story is the mix of real history and alternate history and the supernatural – the richness of magic meets the lushness of culture.

There are so many tendrils of web woven together in this story that I hesitate to share details. I loved the characters of Gabor and Matyas the best, and there is plenty of allegory to me constructed from the plot if one wants to compare societies and histories.

All in all, Blood Rose Rebellion is well worth the read. Check it out.




The Island Deception: A Magic Read


(Gateways to Alissia #2)
by Dan Koboldt

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. But what happens after you step through a portal to another world, well…

For stage magician Quinn Bradley, he thought his time in Alissia was over. He’d done his job for the mysterious company CASE Global Enterprises, and now his name is finally on the marquee of one of the biggest Vegas casinos. And yet, for all the accolades, he definitely feels something is missing. He can create the most amazing illusions on Earth, but he’s also tasted true power. Real magic.

He misses it.

Luckily–or not–CASE Global is not done with him, and they want him to go back. The first time, he was tasked with finding a missing researcher. Now, though, he has another task: Help take Richard Holt down.

It’s impossible to be in Vegas and not be a gambler. And while Quinn might not like his odds–a wyvern nearly ate him the last time he was in Alissia–if he plays his cards right, he might be able to aid his friends.

He also might learn how to use real magic himself.

Continuing the exciting adventures from The Rogue Retrieval, The Island Deception blends fun and mystery into a brilliant new fantasy from Dan Koboldt.


Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher and fantasy/science fiction author. He has co-authored more than 70 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. Dan is also an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman. He lives with his wife and children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating the flowers in his backyard.

Author Website:
Twitter Profile: @DanKoboldt


Whatever your purchasing preference, you should go right now and buy both this book and the previous novel. 

(Gateways to Alissia #2)
by Dan Koboldt

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