100 Books I Want To Read

Writers read, or at least they should. I’ve said before that it’s THE best way to improve their craft. This is one case where I’m proud to say that not only do I talk the talk, I walk the walk.

I’ve made a list of 100 books I want to read. Many of these will likely be read this year, but not all of them. Typically, I read between 80-100 books per year. And at the beginning of each month, I plan what I’m going to read for that month, but those lists are guidelines and not chiseled in stone. Things happen – I may bail on a book, or a book gets pushed to a different month, or my dog chews up a book. Yes, that actually happened once! So, the same goes for this master list – I may start a book and not like it, or a new release comes out, and another book gets bumped, or danger may befall a book. That’s life for you!

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So, without further ado, here is my list of 100 books I want to read. There are different genres represented and are listed in no particular order:

  1.  The Testaments – Margaret Atwood
  2.  The Dollhouse – Fiona Davis
  3. A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer
  4. The Whisper Network – Chandler Baker
  5.  The Bookseller – Cynthia Swanson
  6.  The Recipe Box – Viola Shipman
  7.  Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
  8.  How To Build A Girl – Caitlin Moran
  9.  I’m Fine and Neither Are You – Camille Pagan
  10.  Tampa – Alissa Nutting
  11.  Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed
  12.  Heartburn – Nora Ephron
  13.  Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
  14.  Ash Wednesday – Ethan Hawke
  15.  I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella
  16.  You Think It, I’ll Say It – Curtis Sittenfeld
  17.  The People We Hate At The Wedding – Grant Ginder
  18.  What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
  19.  99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne
  20.  Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
  21.  Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little
  22.  Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
  23.  Olivia Twist – Lorie Langdon
  24.  Idaho – Emily Ruskovich
  25.  Sophie’s Choice – William Styron
  26.  The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
  27.  The Hopefuls – Jennifer Close
  28.  Elsewhere – Gabrielle Zevin
  29.  Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty – Diane Keaton
  30.  Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney
  31.  Sex Object – Jessica Valenti
  32.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  33.  Little Monsters – Kara Thomas
  34.  This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab
  35.  The Hating Game – Sally Thorne
  36.  The Girl Before – J.P. Delaney
  37.  Tell Me Three Things – Julie Buxbaum
  38.  Elizabeth Is Missing – Emma Healey
  39.  Dog Crazy – Meg Donohue
  40.  What She Knew – Gilly Macmillan
  41.  Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline
  42.  Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
  43.  A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
  44.  Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
  45.  Olive, Again – Elizabeth Strout
  46.  A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  47.  Surprise Me – Sophie Kinsella
  48.  Next Year In Havana – Chanel Cleeton
  49.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  50.  A Study In Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro
  51.  The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen – Syrie James
  52.  Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella
  53.  A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – Betty Smith
  54.  Hidden Bodies – Caroline Kepnes
  55.  Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris
  56.  Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney
  57.  One Of Us Is Next – Karen M. McManus
  58.  We Are Okay – Nina LaCour
  59.  I’m Not Dying With You Tonight – Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal
  60.  Remember Me? – Sophie Kinsella
  61.  On the Come Up – Angie Thomas
  62.  Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty
  63.  The Sun Down Motel – Simone St. James
  64.  Breakfast At Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  65.  I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella
  66.  Lock Every Door – Riley Sager
  67.  The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell
  68.  The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary
  69.  The Sun and Her Flowers – Rupi Kaur
  70.  Meg & Jo – Virginia Kantra
  71.  The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
  72.  The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
  73.  Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
  74.  The Bookish Life of Nina Hill – Abbi Waxman
  75.  Again, but Better – Christine Riccio
  76.  Star-Crossed – Minnie Darke
  77.  To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  78.  A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
  79.  Waiting For Tom Hanks – Kerry Winfrey
  80.  My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  81.  Howards End – E.M. Forster
  82.  We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
  83.  Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell
  84.  My Oxford Year – Julia Whelan
  85.  The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
  86.  The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce
  87.  Park Avenue Summer – Renee Rosen
  88.  Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult
  89.  Opposite of Always – Justin A. Reynolds
  90.  The Safest Lies- Megan Miranda
  91.  A Dog’s Journey – W. Bruce Cameron
  92.  The Nix – Nathan Hill
  93.  Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors – Sonali Dev
  94.  Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart
  95.  The Editor – Stephen Hawley
  96.  Ghosted – Rosie Walsh
  97.  There’s Something About Sweetie – Sandhya Menon
  98.  How Not To Die Alone – Richard Roper
  99.  If Only I Could Tell You – Hannah Beckerman
  100.  Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone

And there’s the finish line! I’m tired just from looking at that list! 🙂

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So, what books are on your reading list? Comment and let me know! I’m always open to book recommendations. Happy reading!

 

New Year, New Start!

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Hello, all! It’s my first blog post of the new year (and new decade)! I hope you enjoyed your holiday season and that you’re off to a great 2020!

I know it’s cliche to make resolutions, but I do it every year. Some people don’t bother, and I understand why. To each his own, right? But personally, I love making resolutions. And not because I’m so great at keeping them; in fact, I often fail epically. But to me, that’s not really the point.

I see the new year as a clean slate, and more importantly, a chance to do better. Or at least, to attempt to be better. When a new year is upon me, I take that as an opportunity to examine the areas where I can improve and make goals. I also jot down new things I want to try.

And yes, sometimes not all goals or met, nor do I get around to trying the things I’d like to try. And no, I don’t feel like a failure when that happens. Quite the opposite, actually. I feel like a better person for at least having goals and for attempting them. At the very least, I know I’m a little bit better of a human being because I’ve tried to improve myself.

And isn’t that really all any of us can do? Set goals, go after them, and see what we can learn from the experiences, whether or not we can actually check them off our list?

So, with that, I give you my New Year’s resolutions. This list covers my writing life, reading life, and personal life:

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Do you make resolutions? If so, I’d love to hear them, so leave me a comment if you feel like sharing!

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020!

This is my last blog post for 2019, so I thought I would give you a quick look at my year in review, as well as give you a taste of my next writing project, which I will dive into headfirst in January.

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

As far as my writing life, I made some great strides this year. This summer, I started regularly posting on my blog. Since early July, I have posted every Monday, with holidays being the exception. I also started my newsletter this year, and it’s so fun to put it together each month! My only concern is running out of material for both!

My biggest writing accomplishment is the two books I self-published this year! A Sky Full of Stars was published in May, and The 12 Dates of Christmas was released earlier this month. I highly doubt I will publish two books in 2020! Maybe just one will be enough. In fact, I’m sure it will be!

In my personal life, I took some enjoyable trips this year. This summer I went to Boston for my birthday, as well as to Orlando for my oldest daughter’s birthday. This fall, I went to New York City with my Mom to celebrate her milestone birthday. Between those three trips, I checked a lot of things off my bucket list!

It seems that 2019 has flown by! I can’t believe a new year is nearly upon us!

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Photo by Luemen Carlson on Unsplash

And as promised, here is a little teaser for my next project! I cannot wait to get started on it officially, as right now, I’ve only done a little bit of preliminary work.

ABMB Teaser

I hope you enjoy the last days of your 2019 and that your 2020 gets off to a great start! See you next year!

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December Writerly Goals

I can’t believe 2019 is almost over! The year truly feels like it has flown by. And before I forget, I wish those of you who celebrate it a Merry Christmas! Regardless of what holiday you celebrate or if you don’t celebrate any at all, I hope you all have a great end to the year.

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With the recent release of The 12 Dates of Christmas, I have decided to take a writing break and just enjoy the holiday season. I won’t be doing any writing or editing, but I have set some low-key goals. But before I get into that, I’ll recap my November goals.

One goal last month was to do a social media blitz for The 12 Dates of Christmas, including announcements for the release date, presale, date, cover reveal, and a sneak peek of the book with free access to the first chapter. I did do all that, so I’m considering the goal met. But, I think I could have done a better job. I wish I had done a better job! Between completing the final edits of the book and my regular duties as wife and mom, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done!

Speaking of edits, my second goal was to finish the second round of edits, a goal I obviously met since the book has been released! While I’m at it, I have to give a shout out to my critique partner, Ali, and beta readers, Grace, and Lynne. You three were lifesavers!

My third and final goal last month was to write the book blurb for The 12 Dates of Christmas, which I also completed. November was a really good writerly month for me!

That brings me to this month’s goals, and I’ve already mentioned the first one:

  • Take a writing break
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I worked hard to get The 12 Dates of Christmas out into the universe, and I think that calls for a break! And to be totally honest, with all the extra things going on in December, not to mention the stress it brings, I probably wouldn’t get much writing done anyway. So, I have given myself permission to take the month off and enjoy the season! I’m not taking a total break from my writing life, as I’m still writing blog posts (duh!) and I will be writing my newsletter this month and sending it out.

  • Start preliminary work for my next project
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I already know what my next project is (more on that later!) and this month I plan to do some preliminary planning. I’d like to start on character sketches, explore possible plot points, and prepare interview questions for the person whom the story is based on. For the first time ever, I have to do an interview! I said I’d tell you later about my new project, but it is based on someone close to me. But enough of that for now!

  • Promote The 12 Dates of Christmas

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I want to continue to promote the new book, which mainly means I need to keep up with social media posts and promote newsletter sign-ups. I’m also considering offering the book for free at some point this month. I will also look into other ways of promoting the book. There are a lot of options!

And that’s it…my writerly goals for December. Next week will be my last blog post for the month, and for 2019. I’ll see you then!

 

 

 

 

It’s (Almost) Release Day for The 12 Dates of Christmas!

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I am so excited that my new book will be released tomorrow! I had a blast writing it and hope you all enjoy reading it! If fun, light holiday reads are your jam, please consider my book. You can get it here!

I’d also like to share my Pinterest mood board for the book. One of the first things I do when planning a new book is to scour Pinterest for inspiration. It’s such a helpful tool! This is a collection of images and ideas – some of them I actually used in the book and some of them I didn’t, and it was great fun putting it together. Click here and enjoy it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love this quote because it’s a good reminder to always be thankful for the little things. I try to live by that philosophy, not just around Thanksgiving, but throughout the year!

And even though I take a moment every day to pause and express gratitude, here is a list of things I am thankful for this year. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start!

What are you thankful for? Whatever it may be, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Meet the twins, Sadie and Sebastian, (The 12 Dates of Christmas)

Last but not least, I’d like to introduce you to Sadie and Sebastian Clayton, twins and also best friends to Daniela, the main character.

Here is a quick look at Sadie, or her character aesthetic, if you will:

Sadie CA

 

  1.  This is Sadie. She is Daniela’s other best friend but unlike Rachel, Sadie is not all rainbows and sunshine! Actress/rapper Awkwafina was the inspiration for Sadie.
  2.  Sadie is bisexual and does not do serious relationships.
  3.  She boxes at the same gym as Evan (one of Daniela’s love interests), which is how they know each other.
  4. She is seventeen and is 3.5 minutes older than her twin brother, Sebastian.

Below are more important details about Sadie, or her character sketch, or dossier, if you will:

(if you’d like a copy of the worksheet, it can be found here)

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  • Name:  Sadie Michaela Clayton
  • Nickname: none
  • Birth Date/Place: January 28, 2002/London, England
  • Character Role: Secondary character and one of two best friends to Daniela, the MC

Physical Descriptions:

  • Age:  17
  • Race:  Asian American
  • Eye Color:  Brown
  • Hair Color/Style:  Dark brown, long, straight
  • Build (height/Weight): Short with an athletic build/5 feet 2 inches/112 pounds
  • Skin tone:  Medium-dark
  • Style of Dress:  Very casual, jeans, hoodies, athletic wear, sneakers

Characteristics or Mannerisms:

  • Personality Traits: Very confident, sarcastic, speaks her mind. Positive:  Caring to her close circle of friends (though it doesn’t always seem that way), courageous, dynamic, witty.  Negative: Abrasive, demanding, obnoxious (at times), judgemental.
  • Background: Upper-middle-class
  • Internal Conflicts: Has a wall around her, she doesn’t get close to many people and doesn’t want her comfortable situation to change.
  • External Conflicts: Doesn’t want Daniela to get involved with Sebastian. She’s afraid she will lose Daniela as a friend if they were to get together.
  • Occupation/Education: High school student
  • Miscellaneous Notes: She is tiny but tough, and because of her big, somewhat stony personality, her friends and her brother try not to rock the boat. Underneath the gruff exterior is a caring sister and friend.

That’s Sadie! Or at least the short version. Now for her twin brother, Sebastian! Here is his character aesthetic:

Sebby CA

  1.  Sebastian is very different from his twin sister Sadie, but the one thing they have in common is that they are both best friends with Daniela, the MC, and care about her deeply. Actor Ross Butler was the inspiration for Sebastian.
  2.  Sebastian is a great football player. He’s played since middle school.
  3.  He works at the high-end grocery store that his mother owns. His sister works there too, but not as much as he does.
  4.  He is seventeen and is 3.5 minutes younger than his twin.

Below are more important details about Sebastian, or his character sketch, or dossier:

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  • Name:  Sebastian Michael Clayton
  • Nickname: Sebby (but only Daniela calls him that)
  • Birth Date/Place: January 28, 2002/London, England
  • Character Role: Secondary character and one of two best friends to Daniela, the MC

Physical Descriptions:

  • Age:  17
  • Race:  Asian American
  • Eye Color:  Brown
  • Hair Color/Style:  Dark brown, short
  • Build (height/Weight): Tall with an athletic build/6 feet 3 inches/195 pounds
  • Skin tone:  Medium-dark
  • Style of Dress:  Mostly casual, jeans, fitted tees and sweaters, Converse.

Characteristics or Mannerisms:

  • Personality Traits: Sweet and funny.  Positive: Amicable, articulate, genuine, helpful, kind, polite, romantic.  Negative: Hesitant, passive-aggressive, jealous.
  • Background: Upper-middle-class
  • Internal Conflicts: Wants to be honest with his sister and Daniela but is too afraid.
  • External Conflicts: Doesn’t want to put Daniela in an awkward situation or to risk making his sister angry.
  • Occupation/Education: High school student
  • Miscellaneous Notes: Runs his hand through his hair when nervous or anxious. He is a people-pleaser and just wants to keep everyone happy.

Now you’ve met the twins! Get to know them better in The 12 Dates of Christmas, available on Amazon on December 3. Presale is on now! Click here to buy!