Book Stats: Quarter 3

September was a huge reading month for me.  I blew past my lose goal of 1 book a week.

Stats:  (Month / Year to Date)

Books:  10 / 58

Pages:  4,496 / 22,079

I’m tracking to finish around 77 books this year.  If I keep going like September, it will be closer to 100 than 3/4 of 100.

September included a re-read of the Potter series.  Five of the seven titles made their appearance in the month.  Potter is a favorite of mine and I needed to read something that gives me warm fuzzies by the end of the series.  I’m also in the mood to re-read the Outlander series, and a few classic novels as well.  Maybe the 2016 goal will be to include re-visiting old favorites.  Actually, A Wrinkle in Time sounds good too.  Hmmmm…I could be on to something here.


Over the weekend, I had the desire to color a picture for a friend. It’s the first time I’ve colored for someone other than myself, in my own book.

The picture below is courtesy of Angie Grace, who is my favorite artist. It’s available as a free download from her website.  I ventured into a completely new realm for me with this picture: shading with pencils.

I decided to go with a six color palette , four of which are represented so far. I’m pretty happy with the way the picture is turning out.


The meditative effects of coloring have become mainstream and almost everyone I know has heard of adult coloring books, or knows someone who colors.  For me, coloring helps me let go of the days stresses and focus on my breathing, the colors filling their spaces, and reconnect. It helps me just as journaling does.

This Word Nerd has been less wordy lately because of coloring.

Tagged ,

Q3 2015 Reading Stats

It’s hard to believe that we’re three-quarters of the way through this year, but that’s what the calendars says!

Here’s the look at my Q3 2015 reading stats:

19 books

4482 pages

26 hours audio


60 books

16070 pages

Year over year, I am down quite a lot. Last year, I topped 100 books total. This year, I’m on pace to hit 75, only 3/4ths of that total. I suppose it’s fair to blame the wedding planning or the fact that I am no longer spending the majority of my evenings alone with no one for comfort but a fickle cat and fictional friends.

Author Answers with Cara Brookins

Once again, it’s fall, which means it’s only a few weeks until Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee. For all of those of you who can’t attend or those who want a fun preview, the Word Nerds again have a great series of Q&As with some of the authors who will be in attendance at that event.

We’re pleased to kick off this year’s interviews with a Murder and Mayhem (and Word Nerds) freshman — Cara Brookins!

WN: What kind of reader is going to be drawn to “Little Boy Blu?”

CaraBrookinsBioBROOKINS: This was my first psychological thriller and I initially imagined a very specific of suspense readers and even those attracted to a touch of supernatural. To my surprise, the true audience is a lot more varied. The story is about a genetic abnormality, so medical thrillers readers are also pulled in. And most surprisingly, mystery and drama readers have had a great reaction. I never imagined I was writing a drama, but Blu’s family experiences a lot of trauma in almost complete isolation so the story naturally evolved into the exploration of human nature and prejudice

WN: You’ve written for adults, young adults and middle grade readers. Which is hardest and why?

BROOKINS: I loved writing each of my stories when I was in the middle of them and only feel the weight of what’s required for different age ranges when I first begin. Once I’m in the groove, it’s easy for me to stick there. It’s a bit of a marketing nightmare to write for multiple genres and age groups though, so I wouldn’t recommend it! I love writing for adults the most, but it’s also the most challenging for me—and knowing myself well, that’s probably exactly why I love it. I expect most of my novels moving forward will be for the adult market.

WN: You’re also in the middle having a memoir published. What’s different in that process about writing about yourself versus writing about killers or time travel?

BROOKINS: Writing about my own life is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. The story is about leaving extreme domestic violence and building a house from the ground up with my kids. I’m a person who always looks forward and doesn’t dwell on the past, an extreme optimist. So spending years dipping deep with all my senses into the darkest times of my life was truly awful. I tried to write the memoir countless times over a six year period and quit three times as many times as I began. Writing it was never optional though. It was something I knew I had to do and I was never going to give up until it was complete. Ultimately, writing the entire story as fiction is what freed me to tell the entire truth in nonfiction form. I needed that extreme separation in order to gain perspective on my own life. I’m working on a second nonfiction now about the process of writing a memoir, so I’m still struggling through the difficulties of revealing personal things about myself. It’s absolutely worth every minute of difficulty for the way it forces me to own my history without shame and hopefully for the impact it will have on others as well.

WN: There’s a photo on your website of your phenomenal home library. How many books do you have and do you have a favorite (or two?)

BROOKINS: You mean we’re supposed to count books? It was my understanding that they were exempt from inventory! Some of my shelves are double stacked, and in addition to the library I decorate every room of my house with books. Ebooks and digital audiobooks saved my foundation from collapse, but I still occasionally sneak in a traditional book. My kids are horrified if they see me bring them in so I have to sneak them in like crack cocaine. My favorites are generally whatever I’m reading at the moment,  but when I’m struggling I always return to E.B. White for inspiration. I figure writing for the New Yorker for six decades makes him a guru, and in both fiction and nonfiction I aspire to master his brilliant, (seemingly effortless) conversational tone.

WN: Since Murder and Mayhem is in Wisconsin… how do your Wisconsin roots influence you as a writer?

BROOKINS: I grew up in Tomah, a small farming community in central Wisconsin. My parents weren’t especially social and we lived ten miles from town, which means I spent a lot of time alone and playing outside with my brother. During the long winter months that meant piles of library books because we never owned books. The rest of the year my brother and I imagined enormous sagas in the fields and pines. We were Native Americans, Tarzan and Jane, Luke and Vader, or the Wonder Twins. The isolation and freedoms of my childhood in such a beautiful state were definitely the roots of my inspiration.

WN: What’s great to you about events like Murder and Mayhem where you get to connect to writers and readers?

BROOKINS: I didn’t know about author gatherings until after my first novel was published. Being a little bit of a recluse at the time, I couldn’t imagine ever enjoying them. But at the very first conference, I felt at home. Writers and readers understand that reading is as essential as breathing, and after we’ve discovered our tribe of like-thinking humans we tend to start viewing life in terms of the year’s scheduled conferences. Writers are our coworkers and readers are why we write. In a profession that relies on isolation, spending time with both is essential. The most important thing I’ve learned from book events (and now pay forward) is that writers help writers. It’s a beautiful mechanism to foster the creation of great books.

WN: What question didn’t the Word Nerds ask that we should have and what’s the answer to it? What are your greatest challenges as an author?

BROOKINS: Since most writers dream of supporting themselves with full time writing, I think a lot about the challenges that keep us from that goal. In many cases the thing we have to arm wrestle the most is our own lack of confidence, because when we doubt our talent or odds of success we put in a lot less effort than we would if victory was absolute. We can do anything for a period of time if we’re confident the outcome will be in our favor. But giving up most of our sleeping hours, our entire social life, career opportunities, family time, and dozens of other pursuits for writing becomes very discouraging if we aren’t confident in our success. I love to see authors encouraging one another online and at book events. Family support is great too, but few family members really understand a writer’s life choices. I believe that maintaining these groups through social media is the best way for each individual writer to meet their dreams. Encouragement from idea spark to editing and all the way to working on joint marketing plans is how we’ll overcome this challenge and reach our enormous goals together.

September Reading Challenge Report Card

Time to check in on the 2015 Reading Challenge again.

To start with, we changed the September challenge. Originally, it was to read a book by a person of a different faith of you. A worthwhile read, but Stacie and I both had a lot going on and a book like that felt like a heavy lift. We agreed that we’d switch it and the challenge became Read a Free book on your Kindle (or have a friend pick something.)

pretty deadBethany: I picked “Pretty Dead” by Anne Frasier because I’d gotten a free galley on NetGalley. This is the third book in her Elise Sandburg series and it was another great entry. The series is the cop/serial killer genre, but I like it because her two cops, Elise and David, are so screwed up. They have so much baggage and yet, the police chief thinks they can do the jobs they are hired to do. I can’t say much about the plot without giving too much away, but it’s a page-turner. Do yourself a favor and read the whole series.

threadStacie: I read “A Thread of Hope” by Jeff Shelby. I picked this one up a while ago when another author I really like recommended it. The writing was solid, the story engaging. The author connects the protagonist’s back story to the present day missing child case through flash backs. The protagonist has a missing child himself, and has thrown himself into solving cases for others, but unable to his own. As I read, I realized that flashbacks are a terrible convention for me to have in a story. They don’t seem like a believable way to build the needed back story into the current story, starting the vicious cycle of “why do I need to know this?” It’s totally me and not at all the author’s skill on this one. If flashbacks don’t bother you, this was a great story with a fabulous ending.

Happy Banned Books Week!


Reading things we shouldn’t have for more than 20 years.


What do you think, folks? Is it true? I should probably have five or six cups before I decide.

Happy Friday!


Welcome back, Kermit

It’s been 17 years since the Muppets have been on primetime television and they’ve come back with a bang.

Taking The Muppets to the Office-meets-30 Rock format is a great idea. The variety show that worked in the 70s and 80s wouldn’t translate as well to modern audiences. But, the idea of the scrappy group having to pull a show together day-after-day stands the test of time.

When I heard the news (thanks, modern media for playing along with it) that Kermit and Miss Piggy had broken up, I was bummed. But, the show did that for good reason too. These aren’t quite the old Muppets. They need new challenges and new one-liners like this one:

bacon wrapped

But, the new Muppets are still, at their core, the old Muppets. It’s a rag-tag gang with a show to put on, late-night, not variety. Amidst the humor, there are still the Muppet-y lessons about how we treat people and apologizing when we hurt our friends.

To the groups protesting the show because it isn’t family-friendly, I say this. The Muppets aren’t billed a family TV show and the level of adult of humor for the Muppets isn’t anything new. Go back and watch the classic Muppets (a good example is the Rudolph Nureyev episode) and listen for all the double-entendres. If you don’t think The Muppets isn’t appropriate for family TV viewing (and I might agree with you on that), don’t let your kids watch it. When the Simpsons debuted in the 90s, my parents made it clear that they didn’t approve of that show and I wasn’t allowed to watch it. You’re the parents: set the rules in your own household.

We’ll be tuning in on Tuesday nights, for sure.

P.S. This isn’t the Word Nerds first foray with the Muppets. Check out the Unified Muppet Theory from nearly a year ago.

On the inside


73 likes 164 comments


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 408 other followers