April Wrap-Up and May TBR

I don’t feel like April was a very good reading month for me. I read in dribs and drabs and floundered about, resulting in 3 DNFs. But, I read 1890 pages for #pageathon and cleared up some challenge books.


  • The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort – This was my February Classics Club pick. I tried to keep with it into April, but it was an eventual DNF for me.
  • Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural by Jim Steinmeyer – The Unread Shelf challenge for April was to read the book last purchased. In order to understand Fort more I had bought this as an ebook before I knew what the challenge was.
  • The Vampyre by John Polidori – My April Classics Club book. I finished it. Success!
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker – Reread it for #SpringHorror and because I wanted to compare it to The Vampyre.
  • H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness by Gou Tanabe – #SpringHorror and 24-Hour Readathon relief.
  • Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman – On the fly #SpringHorror check-out after Dracula, but it didn’t work out for me.
  • Supernatural Noir by Ellen Datlow, editor – I read about five stories from this anthology. They were good, but my brain wasn’t in the mood for short stories earlier in the month and my check-out expired. #SpringHorror
  • The Unabridged Poe – In contrast to what I just said above, I finished the dozen or so stories and poems I had left in this anthology. It took me over a year, but I (mostly) read the entire works of Edgar Allan Poe. #SpringHorror
  • Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi – Another fun graphic novel from Readathon.
  • Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft  by Jane Yolan – Decided I wanted to read a craft book for my morning reading.


The Beetle: A Mystery In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin Westmark
  • The Beetle by Richard Marsh – My Classics Club Spin book!
  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson – The Unread Shelf challenge for May is a backlist title (by an author with a newer book out). Erik Larson recently released The Splendid and the Vile, but I’ve had In the Garden of Beasts on my shelf for a long-ish while.
  •  Westmark by Lloyd Alexander – Will me my morning book.
  • I will also be restarting the Black Cat Project.

Sunday Salon, 12/29/19

Sunday Salon
I’m in that weird place where I’ve finished books, but I don’t want to start new ones until New Year’s. So, today in the Salon, I’m going to take a look back and a look forward.

Books & Reading

By Tuesday, I’ll have read 51 books in 2019. Here are some stats:

  • Average rating (out of 5): 3.495
  • Unique authors: 50
  • New authors: 30
  • Male/Female authors: 55% / 45% (This is the closest I’ve come to 50/50. Without looking super close at numbers, I think this is because I read more nonfiction by women this year.)
  • Fiction/Nonfiction: 55% / 45% (I always aim for at least 60/40.)
  • Rereads: 12% (A little higher than usual.)
  • ARCs: 14% (Much lower than the last few years. I’m stepping away from ARCs.)
  • From my shelves: 31%
  • From libraries: 55%

I plan on doing a “favorites” post on Tuesday.

I’m only joining two challenges for 2020:


Deal Me In is a short story challenge hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis. What’s the commitment? Pick 52 short stories, assign a card to each of them, and every week you pick a card and read the story! There are better details at Jay’s blog.

I plan on reading at least 10 titles from my Classics Club list.

I’m a flighty reader so many challenges (aka too many plans) don’t work well for me. Instead I want to do more readathons and readalongs. To wit, I’m going to participate in Page-a-thon and Bout of Books in January.

Movies & Television

I’ve  been keeping track of my film watching on Letterbox. According to them, I watched/rewatched 111 films as of 12/29/19. I count 41 rewatches. We went to the movie theater twice, to a rerelease of Blade Runner (1982) and Knives Out (2019). In 2020, I’d like to watch a new-to-me film each week, which should be do-able since I seemed to have watched 70 or so in 2019.

Honest-to-goodness, I can’t think of a TV series in the last year that I really liked. I haven’t been watching much television.

Other Stuff


I put two things out into the world in 2019. I edited and formatted David P. Abbott in The Open Court, a collection of articles about magic and fraudulent mediums  that David Abbott wrote for The Open Court magazine. It’s available on my website!

I also published One Ahead: The Case of the Real Estate Revenant on Amazon. It’s the second in my series of mysteries with a fictional David Abbott as detective.

What am I doing in 2020? Tentatively, I’d like to finish Wicked Witch Retired and maybe get that into the world by the end of the year. I’ll probably do another Entangled Tome of some sort. I might also entertain the notion of taking on some formatting work.

Ultimate Frisbee:

I played some; I’ll play some more. Generally, I felt pretty good this year. In 2007, I thought I’d be lucky to still be playing at age 40. Now, at age 45, I can’t see myself not playing at 50, even if it is harder to cover the 20 year-olds.

I also finished updating the VOTS archive online.

The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

{Book Quote} The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn

On a whim, slowly I reread The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, a chapter a day as a part of my morning routine. Every time I read it, something new pops out at me. This time it was this quote by the talking skull:

“You can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. When you understand that—then any time will be the right time for you.”

As someone who is overly fond of New Year’s Day, the first of the month, Mondays, and blank pages, I would do well to learn this myself.

(The quote isn’t in the movie, but can I post about the talking skull without including a clip? No. Here he is voiced by René Auberjonois.)

One Ahead Mystery #2 ~ Now Available!

One Ahead: The Case of the Real Estate Revenant

The second story in my One Ahead mystery series is now available on Amazon for Kindle.

One Ahead Mysteries feature David P. Abbott. Aside from being an accomplished magician in early 20th century Omaha, NE, David Abbott was a skeptic and debunker of fraudulent mediums. In “The Case of the Real Estate Revenant,” Abbott helps his brother Julian get to the bottom of ghostly rumors plaguing a business venture.

The first story, The Case of the Sorrowful Seamstress, is also available for free this weekend (11/2–11/3). If you like historical mysteries and want to try some with a magic flair, please  give them a look! All the details of this series, including excerpts, are available Entangled Continua Publishing.

Viva Las Vegas!

Despite my affinity for the song*, few of the lyrics to “Viva Las Vegas” apply to my recent trip to Sin City.

I gambled, not at all.  Of the thousand pretty women, I only saw a few fairly attractive faux show girls working their “Pictures with a Show Girl” schtick on the Strip. The neon flashing and the one-armed bandits crashing have even been mostly replaced with LED screens and push buttons. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a “swinging” time, it just means that  Doc Pomus &  Mort Shuman didn’t take into account going to Las Vegas to see magic.

Continue reading “Viva Las Vegas!”

Magic Monday, 1/21/19

I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I’m a sucker for magic history, but I usually don’t delve much farther back than the 1850s. Back in October, Mariano Tomatis gave a lecture about where the Gothic and stage magic sometimes intersect.

If you don’t have time to watch/listen to the lecture, it’s also available at Tomatis’ Blog of Wonder in post and slide show form.

It’s Monday! What am I…


Part of the reason I wanted do fewer formal reading challenges was to make room for things like Kaleena’s #PoeAThon.

I’d been thinking about reading some Poe, so this was perfect! And it’s still going on this lovely Monday! Today, I’ll be reading “For Annie,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Premature Burial.”

I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be with my TBR this month since I read Laurant: The Man of Many Mysteries last week. Next, I’ll probably read a couple Shelf Maintenance titles.

The Hellbound Heart
The Circus of Dr. Lao

I’m thinking Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney. Or, maybe I’ll head to the library before the 24 in 48 Readathon this weekend.


I’m engaged in the usual late-January things: listening to basketball, watching tennis, playing some ultimate frisbee, reeling over the fact that the first month of the year is 2/3 over.

One thing is different from most years. This year I won’t be participating in New Year Fest, our yearly local ultimate tournament. I’ve decided that playing more than three games in a day is not fun and should be avoided. Even helping out on-site has been murder on my back the last few years. So, instead, this weekend I’ll be doing the 24 in 48 Readathon. Switching out one favorite thing for another…

What *was* I doing?

Writing Update, 1/16/19

2018 ~ What Happened?

2018 was an interesting year.

In 2017, I came away from WesterCon with a bunch of creative energy. Unfortunately, by the end of the year, I had ground out on the novel I was working on* and was feeling pretty dismal again. Eventually, I switched gears to work on a project conceived, in fact, at WesterCon: an anthology of classic/public domain stories that featured automata.

I read a lot, I thought a lot about it (to the point of actually writing some introductory material for each section), and then I hit a slight snag with how I wanted to publish it. In the end, I decided to just put it up for free. If you’re interested in classic works of science fiction, Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is available for free at my webpage.

Uncanny Valley immediately led to two other things.

First, I learned to format Kindle ebooks using HTML. It makes for a much cleaner, nicer looking ebook. I did it for Uncanny Valley and then I converted most of Eric’s and my other ebooks. (Only PHYSIC and the Weordan books haven’t been switched over.)

Second, I decided I wanted to “clear my plate.” I’d had the first in a series of novellas about 95% done for quite awhile. For marketing-type purposes, I had been sitting on it until I finished a couple other stories in the series. The thought was either to release them separately in quick succession or group them together as a larger book. But neither of those things had happened in the previous year, nor did they look likely to happen in the near future. So I decided, “What the heck!” and put One Ahead: The Case of the Sorrowful Seamstress up on Amazon. Good call? I don’t know. Mentally, I felt lighter.

Then I had a new idea and, like a person who doesn’t already have three-ish other unfinished series and another half-finished book*, I started a new mystery novel in November for NaNoWriMo.

*That would be Wicked Witch Retired. I’ll get back to it.

2019 ~ What’s Going to Happen?

Well, currently, I’m working on the novel I started at the end of last year. I don’t have a title yet. I’m referring to it as Jane Anderson Mystery #1, so apparently I have high hopes for my magician’s assistant sleuth. Second draft has been going a little slow. Reading my journal from last year, it seems a January slump isn’t unknown to me. But this week is looking pretty good.

A goal I’d like to have this year is to quickly switch to working on other projects if I get too bogged down in a particular one. (And hopefully not spawn other projects.) I have the tendency to “work” on something by doing nothing. Shockingly, this leads to not much getting done. I have formatting left to do on existing books. I have two other Uncanny Valley-style public domain things that pretty much just need covers. I have other One Ahead stories. I have Wicked Witch Retired to finish. (My mother would also like to see the second Aleister Luck book…)

I should consider myself lucky: I have lots to read and lots to write.