Week by numbers.

Where I have been?  Probably at the gym.  I finally reached my point of ‘girl, no’ and joined our local gym, which I’ve been fairly successful on going to on a daily basis.

  • 45,054, finished novella for 2019!  I’ll be interested to see if this turns into a book in later drafts.  I had a lot of fun with it.
  • 69,516, current length of The Heist project, and I assume the number count will drop further.
    • ~10,000 words cut yesterday (after editing them for a week).  I know it’s for the betterment of the book, but damn if it didn’t hurt.
    • ~20,000 words cut today.  The back stories I enjoyed really keep cluttering up my main storyline, so for now, they are out.  This brings the manuscript closer to novella length, instead of thriller – so I know some new scenes will need to be written.  Le sigh.
  • 1, foster kitten in the house.
    • 3.5 legs Smudge is in possession of.
    • All, the energy.
  • xx.x, kilograms for my weight (courtesy of our fancy new scale).  As mentioned above, I’ve reached ‘ATF’ (that’s all time fattest) and the change starts now.  Damn getting older and a slower metabolism.  Also, damn my life as a food writer…
  • 1, application to the TED Fellows 2020 program, submitted.  Trying my best to figure out how to get CSR of One more into the world.
  • 1, production I’m going to be a part of, filming at a very fancy location for a British show about luxury properties.  Lifestyles of the rich and famous…
  • 1, niece I can’t wait to meet!

How have you been?

Book Club Questions: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi.

In preparing for my book club this month, I realized there were almost no book club questions in place for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize Winner, Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi.

So, in the spirit of our upcoming discussion, here are a few questions to consider.  I would love to hear additional suggestions!

  • Have you read any other Man Booker prize winners? What are your thoughts or comparisons to the 2019 selection?
  • Did you like any of the characters?  Was there anyone you identified with?
  • What do you think of the authors choice to include so many characters?  Did having so many people to keep track of enhance or hurt your appreciation of the novel?
  • Did you know about the Omani slave trade prior to reading this book?  How do you think it is presented?
  • Who would you recommend this book to?  Why?
  • What do you think of the first person narrative?  Is it used effectively?
  • Does Celestial Bodies represent what you thought of Oman?  Did you learn anything about the country?
  • What role does tradition play throughout the novel?  Which traditions did you find the most interesting?
  • How do feel about how the role of gender throughout the novel?  How did the expectations of gender and class play into the development of the characters?
  • Why do you think the author chose to conclude the book where she did?
  • What, if any, is the role of time in the novel?  Do you think a linear storyline would have changed the book?

Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Yes, it’s been a minute since I reviewed something, hasn’t it?

From the outset of Evvie Drake Starts Over, I couldn’t help but wish this had been published before I finished writing Life After Joe, as I know I would’ve been very positively influenced by Ms. Holmes’s novel.  Similar to my Joe, the book opens with the death of a husband (not a spoiler).  What follows is a wonderful story about Evvie and Dean, two well-developed and complicated characters.  Even Tim (the dead husband), who is ‘present’ throughout the book gets an excellent, believable backstory.  The chemistry felt natural, and I loved the supporting cast (just as realistic as the main characters).  Overall, I loved Ms. Holmes’s voice and would be happy to pick up her next novel.  The book brings up great questions, and yes, there is romance.  A weird sub-genre, but if reading about modern widows is something you’re interested in, then this is one to add to your list.  I have no doubt this will be optioned for film (maybe Hallmark, maybe someone bigger) by the end of the year.

I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley.  Opinions are my own!

Week by numbers.

It’s been a week somewhere, right?  My apologies for the radio silence. I’ve been fairly terrible at adulting, or, at least being an adult where my books are concerned.  I’m hoping that changes this week, as I have a conversation with my editor about my poor little Heist novel which has been in purgatory basically since I finished it.

  • 23,001, words on 20 Year Reunion. This poor forgotten manuscript… I keep trying to work on it, then am constantly am interrupted.  I’m giving my characters some blue balls by keeping them in check.
  • 1, podcast launched!  I’d love for you to subscribe and listen.
    • 3, episodes available.
    • 1, upcoming talk about it (that I need to finish preparing for)!
  • 1, car that needs to be sold.  Selling a car in the UAE is an extra special kind of hell, and I will be sad to say goodbye to the Yarari.
  • 1, upcoming trip booked to the States!
  • 1, week of a keto diet plan I’m going on next week.  Y’all, sometimes I pitch and never expect responses, and then I get responses and it’s weird.  It’s not that I’ve not done keto in the past, it’s just… Well, I hope some weight loss occurs!
  • A lot, of pitches sent in the past week.  Let’s hope some of them go somewhere!
  • 1, Pug named Lola we had for a few days last week.  Even though she was absolutely infatuated with me (and a sweetheart in general, minus the lack of house training), it made me realize I’m still not ready to adopt (or maybe, really, I’ll never be ready for a dog).  It’s not all sad, I think we would definitely continue to foster!

Week by Numbers.

Guess who’s back, back again?

So, I’ve been a wee bit busy since we last checked in.

  • 2nd, draft of Under the Rain of Light.  In it I went from 77,727 words to 77,361.  This sounds so unbelievably minor, but I changed the order of chapters, added and removed plot lines and made countless other changes.
    • Spoiler alert, I still hate the book, which is why…
    • I’m going to work with a developmental editor.  This is a first for me, but I know it’s the right decision.  I’ll be sending the book to her in the next week or two.
  • ALL, the procrastination.  (See, Courtney’s anxiety about submitting articles.)
    • My procrastination usually presents itself in the form of cleaning/organizing, hence why I’ve deleted 1,500 photos from my iCloud.
    • 0, articles submitted from our recent trip.  😦
  • 1, private island visited.  Hubs and I had the opportunity to stay the Four Seasons at Desroches Island (simply incredible).
    • 3, private beaches we encountered during our stay.
    • 1, bottle Takamaka consumed.
    • 1, amazing bike ride.
  • 1, new website started (I’m working on a new social experiment of sorts — announcement soon).
    • 6, episodes we’ve recorded for the podcast accompanying this.
  • 1, walk on the beach this morning – a great start to the weekend!
    • 2 friends, we saw in the process.
    • 7, kitties we saw.
  • 18,781, words into the 2019 book (working title, 20 Year Reunion).  It’s a bit of a late start for me, but the Heist has taken up more time than I thought it would.  Ready to get back into original writing – it’s been awhile!
  • 1, article I wrote May of last year that’s finally come out (don’t worry, I already received payment for it).

What have you been up to?

YA Scavenger Hunt, Spring 2019!

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM — but there is also a blue team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the red team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by , at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Today, I am hosting Vicki Leigh on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio, and considered being sent to her room as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki had penned her first, full-length screenplay.


Before we get into the exclusive cover reveal of HOLD ME TIL THE END, let’s learn a bit more about the book, shall we?

The end of the world begins.

On Saltum Island, Daniel and the others wait for Bartholomew to return from the Clandestine while Kayla attempts blood spells to try to get a lock on Apollyon’s location. But even with her powers at full capacity, nothing is working. Then Bartholomew returns with news from the Angels: they refuse to interfere—but one has handed him an angelic book of spells, with which Kayla can do so much.

As Kayla pushes her power to the edge to decipher the book, Daniel and his comrades roam the now-famished United States, offering survivors protection and shepherding them to bunkers in preparation for their final battle. Then Kayla deciphers an angelic spell that leads the team to an overwhelming number of demons and Nightmares—and a horrific discovery: Apollyon plans to use Kayla as the horseman of Death.

Knowing Apollyon will move quickly now that Kayla knows the truth, Daniel keeps the team on the run, afraid to stay in one place too long for fear they will become easy targets. But when Kayla begins to lose control of the darkness inside her, it’s only a matter of time before she becomes the weapon Apollyon created her to be—a force so powerful, she will raise Lucifer from the gates of Hell. Daniel must make a choice: stop the girl he loves at all costs, or watch her level the earth.

And today, in a first for me, I’m so proud to reveal the cover for Vicki’s Dreamcatcher #3, HOLD ME TILL THE END.  This novel will be available later in 2019.
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Courtney Brandt, and more!  Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Red Team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To enter, you should know how much I love the number 17.  It’s my birthday, and St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s always been lucky to me (hopefully it will be lucky to you as well). Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Red Team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To continue on your numerical hunt for a jackpot of books, you’ll want to check out the next author on Red team, the marvelous Brendan Reichs.  (Also,  just because the Red team is so fantastic, here’s all the books you could win — including one of mine!)