It isn’t the turkey or the stuffing or the pumpkin pie that will make your Thanksgiving truly great. It’s the books you can buy on Black Friday, and we’ve got you covered with tons of recommendations! First, Jenn Stroud Rossmann talks about what engineers read, then Susanna Beard shares what she has lined up and Rusty Barnes talks about what’s overloading his Kindle. Barbara Winkes also drops in to talk about the books she’s reading and ones she hopes to get to soon (such as Vox, which sounds fascinating). Who’s reading Gary Philips? Who has Max Ellendale’s latest on their nightstand? Who is anxious for Nicole Chung’s memoir? Check out those TBR piles to find out.
In my latest review I look at Jenn Stroud Rossmann’s The Place You’re Supposed to Laugh. Lots of great insights about family, life and identity here, with appeal for teens and adults alike.
Need to escape all the family togetherness? Rusty Barnes talks about his latest novel, The Last Danger, and cross-border crime. (What could be a better gift for the wall supporter on your shopping list?)
And in case your family Thanksgiving is nothing but political squabbles and family drama, Susanna Beard has cuteness on tap with her two trusty author assistants, Cookie and Tipsy. Pictures here.
Miss our latest issues? Issue 17 contents – featuring Tom Leins, Paul Brazill, Kelli Owen, JL Abrama, JJ Hensley, Terrence McCauley, Barbara Winkes and more – can be found here.
We’ll be back next week with CJ Lyons, Ovidia Yu, Wendy Webb and more.
Plus, December 1 I’ll kick off my Advent Calendar, covering a book, movie, TV series or something else I enjoyed from this past year and recommend.
(Not a ‘best of’ list, because I haven’t consumed everything so I couldn’t possibly say what’s best. And not a ‘best of stuff by my friends’ list either. Most or all come from people I have never met.)
“I fell down a crevasse in France, and survived uninjured.” – Susanna Beard
I have two writing assistants, who both take their roles very seriously. They have a bed each in my office and supervise my working day. Cookie is a little golden Cairn terrier, who is sweet-natured, gentle and affectionate. He’s eleven years old now and is beginning to get a little slow. He loves his walks and sleeps for the rest of the day. Sometimes his assistant role involves sitting on my lap as I type – this helps for a short while, until my legs go to sleep.
Tipsy is a cute Yorkshire terrier with a taste for squirrels and a piercing bark. She loves nothing better than a tummy tickle, and can often be seen in the park on her back with her legs in the air, waiting for an unsuspecting dog walker to give her the attention she deserves. She looks after my well-being, which involves barking at birds, squirrels and any unexpected noise outside the house. This all ensures I don’t get a stiff back from sitting down for too long.
When I’m stuck with my writing, need to organise my thoughts or simply take a break, they take me out into the country for a refreshing walk. What more can you ask from your assistants?
Check out what Susanna has on her TBR pile here!
Susanna is fascinated by human relationships. She can be found people-watching wherever she goes, finding material for her writing. Her passions include animals — particularly her dogs — walking in the countryside and tennis, which clears her brain of pretty much everything. She aims to keep writing, and never to get old.
Fun Fact: Some authors write in a coffee shop, others to classical music, country or rock. Judy writes to talk radio, even listening to weekend paid programming. She can tell you what to do or not do if you want to buy a car, how to hire an employment or injury lawyer, or invest in fancy colored diamonds.
Gibbs is a three-year-old Golden Retriever, named after Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the TV show, NCIS. For those unfamiliar with the show, Gibbs is a former Marine turned special agent who commands a team with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
My Gibbs spends most of his days lying under my desk as I write. He’s even been known to listen to me practice an author reading, though I’ll admit his feedback is minimal. But perhaps his greatest role is that he gets me out walking, and it’s on those long walks that I often come up with my best ideas.
Finally, I love that the U.S. Marine Corp’s motto is Semper Fi, which means “always faithful” in Latin. Perfect, right?
Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries (The Hanged Man’s Noose; A Hole in One) and the Marketville Mysteries (Skeletons in the Attic; Past & Present). Her short stories appear in several collections.
Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Inc., the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southwestern Ontario. Find her at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.
Fun Fact: “A big lover of cheese, I have been lucky enough to have lived for several years in some of the most significant cheese locations of the world, beginning with my home country of New Zealand, then England (home of Red Leicester and Wensleydale), France (my favourite is still the Tome de Savoie) and America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin, famous for its cheese curd and Montforte Blue.”
My author assistant since April 2018 is Bella. She’s an 8-month-old Jack Russell-Shih Tzu cross with a penchant for adventure and causing trouble. The perfect antidote for depression, Bella’s main job is to encourage me to get up from my desk and stretch my legs at frequent-frequent-frequent intervals, a task she takes very seriously by bringing me balls to throw. She tends to go crazy whenever the postie stops by, no doubt in anticipation of new books to be added to my to-be-read pile, since Bella recognises the importance of reading to a writer’s craft. Occasionally, she’ll hop up on my office chair, squeezing herself into the gap between my back and the chair back. This spot serves the dual purpose of providing me with a lovely warm lumbar support, while also allowing her a sneak peek at my latest plot twist. She barks any time I’m too long on the phone, a gentle reminder that I have a book to write. She also makes short work of any pages that might land on the floor, saving me a trip to the rubbish bin. And recently, she ate through a TV remote in a not-so-subtle reminder that, in her view, the book version is always better than the movie, and for that reason I should keep at it. I’d already completed INTO THE SOUNDS by the time we adopted Bella, but she was my assistant while I wrote INTO THE ASHES, the final instalment in the Taine McKenna adventure trilogy. I hope Bella’s influence shows and, like her, the latest adventure is high-speed and action-packed.
Lee talks about Into The Sounds here, and shares her casting call for the novel here.
Lee Murray is a ten-time winner of New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror. Her books include the military thrillers Into the Mist and Into the Sounds, and supernatural crime-noir titles Hounds of the Underworld and Teeth of the Wolf (co-authored with Dan Rabarts). She is proud to have co-edited nine anthologies, one of which, Baby Teeth, won her an Australian Shadows Award in 2014. She lives with her family in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Find her at leemurray.info