Books Read in 2018

Look, I know it is way past time for me to be posting this.

In the Year of Our Lord 2018, I read 65 books. I will be honest, I thought this number would be a lot lower. I went through a serious slump in the middle of the year when I was under writing deadlines and feeling blah about multiple books I was reading at the time.

Least in a Month – In July and August, I only read three books, six total for those two months. There are two reasons for this downturn. I was under a large writing deadline at the time and the weather here in Wyoming is ridiculously nice that time of year. A lot of my free time was spent sitting outside drinking beers with friends and hiking around the mountains. I have no regrets.

Most in a Month – January wins this handedly with 13 books. Looking at the list for that month, I can tell you it is because I inhaled some graphic novels and finished up some nonfiction I had been reading through the fall the previous year.

2018 could be called the Year of the Series because I read or binged quite a few of them. I also stuck to some authors that I loved. There are a lot of books by Alyssa Cole, Kit Rocha, and Ilona Andrews books on this list. I read across genres more than I normally do and that has more to do with the two books clubs I am in than anything else. I read some truly exceptional nonfiction this year. Every NF on this list is amazing.

Favorite Book of the Year – I am starting to hate that I ever begun picking a favorite for the year. I always hate choosing. My favorite books of the year have an asterisk beside them in the list below. I am going to pick three that stood out and this is my writing space so I can do as I please.

The book that come up first in the list is The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. This is the first of a trilogy, all of which are now out. I have only read the first one. The second is very high on my TBR list. I could tell you about the inclusiveness of the cast, the way this books deals with all different kinds of sexuality, the theme of found families that is woven into multiple places of the narrative, the beautiful characters that Chambers has created, the serious questions of humanity, AI, and loyalty, or the fact that this is a space opera and you would know this book is amazing. I still think about it often. It is over the top wonderful.

The second book that I loved was A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. Cole is an auto-buy for me no matter what subgenre of romance she is writing. I adore her. This book was especially delightful because I loved Coming to America as a kid and this points to that cultural icon often. This book is also dominated by a whip-smart STEM heroine who has had to fight her way to where she is and a hero who comes to appreciate and understand what giving your partner autonomy means. This is also the first in a series and the rest of the books are predictably awesome.

The third book I loved was Undead Nation by Justina Ireland. On the surface, this is post Civil War America with zombies, but this book is vastly more than that. Ireland takes what is on its own a great plot and weaves in all kinds of things from who is disposable, girls’ finishing schools, what does slavery and ownership mean, a deconstruction of Jim Crow, and a character that is so bad ass that I loved her from the first page. Even if you don’t like zombies, this book as an examination of race and worth are in itself a reason to pick it up.

Least Favorite Book: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. There are not enough explicatives for me to use when describing this book to you. I was already frustrated by this book, but there are two things that pushed it into burn it all down territory for me. SPOILERS: The main character is a total shit to the only person/thing that is nice to him, his dog. You know who is mean to dogs? Terrible people. Then, in a true fit of shittiness, the dog dies to save the main character in what is a heart wrenching and awful scene. Ness also does one of the things that is an unforgivable act for me and that is ending the book on a cliffhanger. I am not talking about things are a little unresolved, I mean one of the characters is in mortal danger and all the progress that has been made goes to shit in the last scene. Basically, he ended the book in the middle of the Black Moment and I was FURIOUS. I still am to be honest. The ending of this book, and the other problems I had with it (misogyny much?), cemented the fact that I will never, ever buy or read another book by this author.

I know cliffhangers are a very common thing in YA and I do like YA, but I still hate cliffhangers. It is a cheap way to emotionally manipulate your readers. Don’t be a lazy a-hole and finish writing the book for the love of Pete.

See, I still have a LOT of feelings about this.

Favorite reread – In a shocking turn of events and for the first time ever, I had only one reread on this list, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I feel like giving it my favorite reread title would be cheating since it was the only one. It was fun to read it again. I also read most of The Order of the Phoenix because I needed some resistance in my life. I did not include it in the list because technically, I did not finished reading it. DA all the way.

January – 13
*The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Saga v. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Chew vol. 4 by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Saga v. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
*We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry by Stanley J. Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo
*Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Chew vol. 5 by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O’Brien
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

February – 4
Saga Vol. 7 by Fiona Staples and Brain K. Vaughan
Hidden Hearts by Olivia Dade
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
*Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

March – 5
*A Princess In Theory by Alyssa Cole
Etched In Bone by Anne Bishop
*Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
*Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Monstress Issue#1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

April – 6
Ashwin by Kit Rocha
A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, and Joy San
*Undead Nation by Justina Ireland
The Viking Queen’s Men by Holly Trent
The Chieftain’s Daughter by Holly Trent

May – 6
Gladiator by Anna Hackett
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet
Princeless Book One: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin
The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
The Wolf Lord by Ann Aguirre
The Coyote’s Cowboy by Holly Trent

June – 4
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
East of West vol. 1 by Hickman, Dragotta, Martin
A Letter to My Congregation by Ken Wilson
Deacon by Kit Rocha

July – 3
*Ivan by Kit Rocha
Scales and Scoundrels Volume 1: Into the Dragon’s Maw by Girner, Galaad, and Powell
An Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

August – 3
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
*Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
*Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

September – 6
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
*Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
*Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

October – 4
*Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
Curran POV Collection by Ilona Andrews

November – 5
Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
*A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
How The Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe
Tikka Chance On Me by Suleikha Snyder
The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

December – 5
A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare

Library Box Author List for #ALAMW18

**Updated 2/10/18**

I will be carrying around a Library Box during Midwinter. If you see me, log into the Library Box wifi, and download some ebooks from indie authors. If you like the book, review it or buy it for your collection.

Here is a list of participating authors and their social media links.

If Tomorrow Never Comes
Lisa Chalmers
Twitter: @lisaink

Fooling Around With Cinderella
Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty
Stacy Juba

Denise Jaden

The Unraveling
Laurel Wanrow

Guarding Her Heart
Laura McNeil

The Bridesmaid and the Hurricane
Kelly Maher

The Rogue’s Fate
Missy De Graff

Lightning in the Dark
Storm in the Mountains
Letters in the Snow
Plagues of the Heart
Michelle Boule

Thank you to everyone who sent me books for this project. I will post stats next week.



The Truth About Writing

I saw this tweet from an online writer I know and it spun me away from the WIP I was working on and made me think.


I replied.

I could not help but laugh at all of us, because I have been feeling terrible about my writing the last few weeks.

Writing anything of length looks something like this, for me anyway:

I have a brilliant idea. Writes. This idea it shite. Writes. How am I ever going to finish this? Writes. Why are the characters doing that? Writes. Everything I write is terrible. Lord, save me from myself. Writes. Reads a newsletter from my editor. Gets inspired. Writes. Gets annoyed at lack of time to write. Gets time to write. Stares at screen. Plays a video game. Reads a book. Or five. Writes. Why the hell am I doing this? Thinks about that other series I could be writing and will not get out of my head. Solves a problem in the plot of the next book in the series but NOT the one I should be currently working on. Ignores the other story and writes. I’m a genius. Writes. I suck. Repeat a million times.

We write these personal things. Books. Stories. Poems. Even if they are not about us, we are in them. Part of us is there, poured into every word and turn of phrase. That is me on that page, in that book you are holding and I want to be lovely and fun, but mostly I just feel like the geek who got pity invited to the party.

I want to own my work better.

My books are good. They have women in them who can rip a man’s throat out, drink their weight in whisky, and who fight for their own HEA. While they do not need a man, they sure do love to have them around. They are worth reading. My harpies are worth falling in love with. I am head over heels for them.

And, like any good love story, this is my confession scene.

I am proud of them. I do want to own up and say, I created them. For better or worse, they are mine.

I love writing. It complicates my already busy, overcrowded life, but I need these words I weave like I need air. One of these days, I’ll be able to admit that I am good at it with better frequency.

Until then, I better get back to writing.



Jesus Was Not An Isolationist


I dare you to prove that statement wrong.

He loved the unlovable. He loved the outsider. He loved when it was hard. He put himself in physical danger. His disciples were driven from their homes. Stephen was stoned in the street. All but one of the first disciples (except Judas Iscariot) died violent deaths at the hands of others.

Because of love. Because they believed there was something more important than their safety, something so important it required everything of them.

You can argue about safety and security, but none of that matters in the face of love. None of that matters in the face of such need.

That’s a dangerous thing to think, you might say.

Damn right.

Love is dangerous. Love is hard. Love is messy, but if you do it right, love is everything.

We are called to love despite the danger, despite the hardships, and despite the fear.

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

There are no qualification there, no exceptions, no room to wiggle out of what we are morally called to do.

I sit here in my safe house, in my relatively safe country, with food to eat, and I think I am not loving enough. We can’t say no to people in need because of fear. We can’t let danger, hate, or insecurity be bigger than the one thing God asked us to do.

Love God. Love others.

He asked it of us because it is stronger than everything else, anything else. Love can change the world because it is the most dangerous thing of all.

There are a lot of organizations helping refugees. Donate to one. There are a lot of organizations helping people in your own community. Give some time to them. The hurting of the world belong to all of us and it is about time we stopped acting like it’s not our problem.

Late Summer Nights and Giveaways

Anyone want to join me on this beach?
Anyone want to join me on this beach?

It is 9:20pm and my house is blessedly quiet for the second night in a row except for the music I have playing. Everyone is asleep but me, I have a pint in hand, and all is well.

I have reached the point in the summer when I am tired of vacation and family time. I need my kids to go back to school and I need to get back to my regularly scheduled work and writing time. I never write much in the summer. I am too busy breaking up fights and trying to entertain children who are stuck inside because outside resembles the surface of the sun. I live in Houston and that is not an exaggeration.

I love my boys, but yesterday, I told G I did not like him much at the moment and could he please get out of my face and go to another room.

I need a time out. Obviously. With beer. Of course.

Starting the last Friday in August, I will be giving away an ebook of something I have read recently and enjoyed to someone on my newsletter list. What? You are not on the list? Get a full dose of harpies once a month or so and maybe win a free book by signing up now.

Subscribe to my newsletter

I am also currently running a Goodreads giveaway for Storm in the Mountains.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Storm in the Mountains by Michelle Boule

Storm in the Mountains

by Michelle Boule

Giveaway ends August 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Soon, we will be back to regular posts around here, Mythology Mondays and the other shenanigans you love. I have to get these kids to school first.

YeeHaw! A RWA Roundup

It was my first time to attend RWA and it will not be my last. My general impressions were that everyone was lovely and transparent. It was breathtaking to meet so many ladies whom I have adored, some of them for years. To come face to face with someone whose words have grown into your heart is a special pleasure I wish for everyone.

San Antonio Riverwalk

First, the disappointments.

There were a couple people I was unable to meet during the four days in San Antonio. The one who sticks out most in my mind is Rhonda Helms. I took a workshop from her a couple years ago and I wanted to tell her to her face how much I appreciated the way that workshop shaped the way I tell stories.

I so wanted to meet Lauren Dane, who writes the Rowan Summerwaite series, which I love. Sadly, she was unable to come, but I still got a book with a signed nameplate.

Lauren Dane


The last disappointment was that the LibraryBox experiment was an all around fail. There was not one download from it the entire time, though it was on for four days straight. I am not sure if it was the wrong venue, people just did not hear about it, or authors just are not ready. I am going to try again next year. I still think the idea has merit.

Now, for something completely different: stuff that was fabulous. Please prepare yourself for the virtual equivalent of “Wheeeeeee!”

I spent more money than you can make me admit at the Literacy Signing, but I was able to meet some authors who have crafted characters and stories which make my heart swoon. A couple times, I was so awestruck, I forgot to take pictures. Here are the ones I was especially excited about.

Catherine Coulter

This is me with Catherine Coulter. I grew up reading her romances and she was a quiet, graceful lady in person. It was an honor to meet her. The book in the picture is for my mom, who loves her new series.

Vivian Arend

Vivian Arend writes about shapeshifters and cowboys. Honestly, I have only read the shifter books. They are a special kind of crack for me and I am afraid to even venture into the cowboy ones for fear I will never return. She also rescued my purse after I left it in front of her table.

Zoe Archer

Zoe Archer writes all kinds of delicious things – scifi, historical fantasy, steampunk – and I love them all. She was on a truly fantastic panel which discussed feminism and romance. It was inspiring to be in a room listening to the panel of smart women who think critically about what they write, where the genre had been, and where it is going.

Nalini Signh

Nalini Signh writes paranormal romance and does amazing world building.

Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan writes regency historicals. She has broken away from publishing and now indie publishes. I love her books. I went to some sessions in which she was one of the speakers or the speaker. She was honest about her road to get where she is now. I appreciated her transparency and the sound advice she gave.

And then this happened:

Jax Garren


I occasionally review books on this site when I just can not help but tell everyone how much I love and adore a book or series. Here is the review I wrote for the Tales of the Underlight series by Jax Garren. There is a lot of swooning in the review.

After I read the series, I gushed around online about it and Jax, being the lovely person that she is, was nice back. When I realized she was at RWA, I asked to meet her over Twitter. Her response was that she was in the bar, come on down. I could not breathe, but managed to pull it together to act normal when I went down after the session I was in.

Jax is just as lovely in person as she was to me online. She lives in my state and we talked for a long time. I ran into her a few other times during the conference and I think I made a new friend, which awes me a bit.

There are a few people I forgot to get pictures of: Shannon Stacey, who writes one of the very few contemporary series I read (new book out this week!); Eloisa James, who is whip smart and nice; Danielle Monsch, who gave me some great advice; Sarah MacLean; Tessa Dare; and Julie Ann Long. It was amazing. Without fail, people would see my first timer ribbon, ask me questions, and be ridiculously nice.

Most of the sessions I went to revolved around the business of indie publishing. The panels and presenters were, without exception, transparent and full of information. I have a long to do list of things I need to get in line before I upload my first book. I think there were some in the audience who felt overwhelmed, but I was invigorated by the opportunities available in publishing if you plan, persevere, and treat it like a business.

The last night was the awards. Awards

Pictured from left to right: Michelle Boule (me!), Kelly Maher (my roommate), Stephanie Leary (a new friend from Texas), and Tara Kennedy (another new friend). The ceremony was fun, but it was so because I had great company.

Last but not least: The books.


This is the haul I brought home. As I heard in many panels, “It’s all about the books.”

Amen. I am off to write. Thank you to RWA for a great conference.

The Very First Time

Yesterday was a day which started with me yelling at the kids to clean their room and ended with me getting hit in the head by a ceiling fan while I looked for the mysterious bug which had woken up my six year old. It was a day of frustrations, tears, and pain, but there was one bright spot. Gosh, sounds like a normal Mom day, right?

Gideon, the six year old, got his first library card yesterday from Helen Hall Library in League City.

Gideon Library Card

Notice how sad Washington is in this picture. He has library card envy.

I remember my first library card. It was from the Pearland Public Library and was light blue card stock. It had this metal bar on it with numbers which they pressed with carbon paper to make the check out slip. I was very proud of it.

I made a big deal about Gideon getting his card. He had to be able to read and write his name, both things he mastered ages ago, but this is the beginning of summer and that means… Summer Reading Programs!

I am beyond excited to see how much fun Gideon has reading on his own and how much pleasure he takes from reading books. My heart just explodes every time I hear him reading, an activity which has defined my life since I can remember.

Go to your library today and read a book. Libraries pull out all the stops in the summer with amazing programs on science, culture, and art. Not just for kids! Go find something amazing at your library.


Retreat: v. – (of an army) withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat.

Retreat: n. – 1. an act of moving back or withdrawing. 2. withdraw to a quiet or secluded place.

I have always wanted to go on a writer’s retreat. It sounds romantic, to be able to move away from the world and surround oneself with the creation of words and nothing else. A writer’s retreat is something real writers do, the kind of writers with books on the shelf and a room of their own in which to write.

Hogwash, all of it.

This past weekend, I went to my family’s lake house with four other women who write. Three of them write Christian genre fiction and one of them is working on a Christian nonfiction. I was the odd woman out, writing fantasy romance, but we had an amazing time.

For me, the weekend was a withdrawal from enemy forces. My enemies being two large dogs, two small boys, and one wonderful husband.

They allow me to write often enough, sometimes every day, but their demands are many. Even now, I am writing at the table with one boy eating a meal I prepared and one demanding to sit in my lap. Previous to this paragraph, I was interrupted by poop (not mine), an argument (in which I was called in to referee), and a consultation about clothing choices for the day. It gets wearisome.

I am not a part of a f2f writer’s circle. I have friends online to which I pose questions on craft or business, but I have never shared my work in real time. It was eye-opening.

Humans are, at our base, social creatures who desire community. Though writers create in isolation, is was nice to create in a shared space for a short time.

We would work on our own, then come together to read paragraphs, read openings, work out sticky plot points, and discuss the publishing industry. During meals, we shared our lives and got to know each other.

My goal for the retreat, which was only about 26 hours long, was 10,000 words. I was a couple hundred words shy, but I ended in a great spot.

The retreat reinforced that we all feel inadequate, we all juggle complicated lives, and a room of one’s own may look more like a corner of the couch or family table and less like a writer’s hut. Of course, if anyone would like to re-purpose an old Airstream, cabin, or train car into office for me, please, feel free to do so.

–Jane, writer of magical things


A Classified Ad for a Publisher

I am taking a class on query and synopsis writing. Most of the class is basic marketing with a publishing spin. The package sent to a publisher is, in its essence, the author marketing themselves and their work to an editor or publisher. We all know this, but it is nice to hear an editor’s POV when they are reading the stuff we send them.

Thinking about how I sell myself and my work has forced me to think about what I want from a publisher. A query is like any job hunt and any interview is just as much about how much they like you as how much you like them.

There are many flavors of publishers out there, from the big behemoths to tiny e-presses. There are benefits to the different choices and disadvantages to others, as there is with all things. Going through this process, I have created a list of things I want and look for when searching out places to market my work.

Here is the general list:

I want a publisher who emphasizes ebooks. I know electronic format is the future and I want to be somewhere this idea is valued. I like and read print books, but they are not the future of the industry.

I want a place I can grow as an author. I am not looking for an opportunity to publish the next blockbuster, though I would not turn that down. I have more realistic goals. I want a place to stretch my wings and I want an editor who can guide me on that path. Behind every great writer, is a brilliant editor. Developing a cooperative, trusting relationship with an editor is one of the things I am looking forward to the most in this process.

I am halfway through a cross genre series, a traditional fantasy with strong romantic elements, and my next series will probably be a scfi/space opera with strong romantic elements. I need a publishing company that is not afraid of cross genre work.

I want to be a marketing partner with my publishing company and I evaluate their webpages accordingly. No matter what size or prestige of a company, if their social media links are hard to find or contain terrible content, that is a huge red flag for me. In fact, this is a red flag for any company with which I want to do business.

That is my list. Short. Sweet. Not too complicated, I think.

Jane, searching