Buying Books – Reading List

I have been on my repairing lease for a month now, and it was the wisest thing I could have done.  No composing.  No wheel-spinning.  Catching my breath.  Catching up with people who mean a lot to me.  I will be phoning my oldest friend tonight and engaging in a long chat.  It has been too long since I have done that.My current project is a Beta-Read that is disgracefully overdue (dear Author: expect it Sunday) involving an author I love and a book that I want to review once it is published.

…and I have been catching up on books (remember reading them?  I’d forgotten).  I just ordered a copy of a book from the 1930’s, J. B. Priestley’s The Good Companions.  That should be arriving shortly.  A nice, fat hardback book to replace mine, which, having turned Australian, I believe, has ‘gone walkabout’.
At loose ends, but pleasantly so, I started looking at books.
And then, I must confess, I went a little crazy and ordered four of them:

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

This sounds delicious, with most of the elements I love in a story.  Naturally, I ordered it in paperback.  Beware when you are browsing, whether online or in a brick and mortar bookstore.  You find other things that look good.  Like this:

Http:// Beach Street Bakery

A quiet seaside resort. An abandoned shop. A small flat. This is what awaits Polly Waterford when she arrives at the Cornish coast, fleeing a ruined relationship.

To keep her mind off her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, chocolate and sugar, and the local honey—courtesy of a handsome beekeeper. Packed with laughter and emotion, Little Beach Street Bakery is the story of how one woman discovered bright new life where she least expected—a heartwarming, mouthwatering modern-day Chocolat that has already become a massive international bestseller.

Well, I have never read Chocolat, but this sounds very interesting, touching, and amusing, as did this one:

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over–and see everything anew.

Bakeries and bookstores are somehow connected in my thoughts.  I don’t know whether it is because I view shelves overflowing with potentially fascinating, enjoyable, sob-worthy and laugh-inducing books as akin to a glass-front bakery counter that contains (at any given time): Italian pastries, French pastries, gorgeous loaves of golden-crusted handmade bread braided (like Challah), slashed (like baguettes), overflowing with butter (like croissants), filled with herbs or cheese or…  Well, you get the idea.  I have a terrible time leaving bakeries.

And true to form I saw this as I finished my order.

Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

Ah, Paris…  What’s not to like?  I added it to the list.  I’ll consider it part of my Repairing Lease…  AFTER the beta-read!

…Which brings me to this lovely blog hop:Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

Check them out and be prepared to smile!

IWSG October 1, 2014 – Insecure Writer’s Support Group

#InsecureWritersSupportGroup entry for e-book – Asking for Help

First Wednesdays are the time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. This is the once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group (click for the link).  We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy and  practical suggestions. 

Thanks to the co-hosts for October 1:

You Have to Ask for Help

It doesn’t matter how fabulous you think someone is with his or her craft, it doesn’t matter how enjoyable, engrossing, beautifully written the work is, the writer always has an Achilles’ heel somewhere. 

In my case, I have a shyness – though I think the word is ‘fear’ – regarding asking for a beta read, a read-through, a review of a chapter.  I tend to get caught up in the flow of the story, the action… 

…Okay, now what?

Composing a story is, for me, as exhilarating as running before the wind on a sailboat.  But the wind will die down and you have to put the boat away.

So…  I have a story, and I’ve worked on it and worked on it and polished it, and I’m pleased with it (I’m pretty picky, actually), but another pair of eyes really is needed…isn’t it?

Heck, the story is good, the characters are well-rounded, I love them to death, and they convey the story so very well.

…I think…

But what would happen if I gathered my courage in both hands and, clearing my throat apologetically, actually asked for a beta-read from someone other than a friend who, though a fabulous editor is, after all, a friend who loves me and loves my work.  Yeah, yeah, that one does say when something stinks, but still…  Is it just the really bad ones that are mentioned, and the others are allowed to slip by because, after all, I’m an old, longstanding friend.  Is the input valuable at all?

They’re faking it because they don’t want to hurt my feelings (sob)

(By the time this thought occurs to me I am in full cringe mode, and I find myself thinking, what if I really am absolutely mediocre to terrible, and my friends only read me because they don’t want to see me cry?  And if the others read my work they would tear it to shreds because they don’t know me, don’t love me, and have never been my friends?) 

It’s persuasive – and why are the unpleasant things persuasive?

So, why do I have this shyness about stepping forward and asking other writers to read my work and (gasp!) maybe do a beta-read?  Maybe let me know what they think?  Why am I like this?

A beta-read offer!  YIKES!!!!

I mean, really, it’s silly, isn’t it?  To have this horrible fear that if I ask for help (read ‘Beta Read’) someone might say, “Sure.  I’ll do it.”

It is foolish to indulge such nonsensical fears, even though they are  normal.  I know jolly well that I can take it.  I’ve had nasty reviews and come away with some good criticism that I could use.   …Or am I afraid that I am going to bore someone, and they will say that my writing is frivolous and stinks and I’m bad news.  Let’s face it: I write historical fiction (alternate historical fiction, if you want to be strict).  No paranormal, some  love stories, but not, strictly speaking, Romances in the modern term.  I hear people talking of their work and think, Gee, they’re with it!  But me– 

Diana at work composing

No vampires, no Heroic Fantasy multisyllabic names, no zombies, no dystopia, no horror (unless you have a horror of em-dashes). 

I’m not cutting edge.  I don’t necessarily want to be.  I just want to be the best writer that I can.

The way I look at it, I can either go back to Business-As-Usual and fight my way through to a finished product, wearing out my friends and advisers (another insecurity, by the way: how long will they be able to stand me?)…
Or I can take a deep breath, step forward, manuscript or flash drive in hand, smile shakily at those people facing me who all write so well…I think… and say “I need help.  Can someone do a beta-read?”

Actually, that is the very best thing to do.  Not to seek help leads to stagnation. 

…Could be nice…

SHORT BIO: Diana Wilder is a writer of historical fiction, with elements of mystery, adventure, romance or fantasy. Her books include the four volumes of The Memphis Cycle, set in Egypt, as well as the first volume of her trilogy,
The Orphan’s Tale, set in 1830’s Paris. 

She blogs at

Permission is granted to use this post in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing.

Check out the hop.  There are some fabulous posts to savor: