keep calm and continue sleuthing! / spooky little girl

“Do act mysterious. It always keeps them coming back for more.”

– Carolyn Keene

Hello again, Precious Readers!

<Looks at Precious Readers through a magnifying glass.>

Have I ever mentioned that I love mysteries? I know in the past, I’ve mentioned I love romances and spy novels, but my number one go-to genre will always be mysteries/suspense!

At a young age, I was quite curious about abnormal things. At eight years old, I read Frankenstein, and by age ten, I’d read Dracula. Not light, or positive reading there. One of my all time favorite films was Beetlejuice, and I adored the cartoon version that Nickelodeon had based on the film. I recall for a brief period of time there was a series of Clue mystery novels based on the board game, which were the only books I checked out of my elementary library. I was also a religious Scooby Doo watcher, Shaggy being my favorite. (I must have a type considering I married quite the goofball in Pilot.)

For proof, here’s a (somewhat embarrassing) photo of me last Halloween when I dressed as Velma Dinkley:


I think I nailed it. All the way down to the orange socks.

However, out of all of these, my all time favorites will always be: Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes. For those who know me, this should not come at a surprise. I inhale anything Nancy and Sherlock practically daily. Something about Nancy Drew was always empowering, and made me believe I wasn’t weird for my odd fascination with science, skeptical attitude, and somewhat of a sassy wit. (If there ever was a real Sassy Detective magazine, I would have definitely subscribed!) One of my favorite pastimes is to play the Her Interactive Nancy Drew Games, created locally in my home state in Bellevue, Washington. I’m going on 31 next month, and they just released Game #32, Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness, which of the 32 has become one of my Top 3 favorites. They feature other characters like the Hardy Boys in some of them. (I love Frank and Joe!)

The things I love about Nancy Drew, although the books are quite outdated now (some of them even being a bit racist, but I skip those), are her confidence, proof that she studies hard to learn her skills and trade, and doesn’t let anything prevent her from feeling as feminine as she’d like to on any given day. Along with this, she’s close to her father, has some kind and loyal friends, and plans on making sleuthing her career at a time when women weren’t given the choice to have a career if they wished. It’s not just puzzle solving skills, but she keeps a cool head under pressure and is skilled in many mechanical things. I aspire to be more like her every day – except with more wine and no mom jeans.

If you’d like to learn more about the games themselves, I’d recommend a particular YouTube channel. (I may have spent several hours watching them over the years.) Arglefumph’s walkthrough videos, created by a man named Michael Gray in Oregon, not only provides great tips for getting through the games if you’re stuck, he also gives running commentary that runs on hilarious. (You can check out Michael Gray’s YouTube videos here.)

As far as my Sherlock Holmes obsession, I’ve always gone a bit weak in the knees for the various English accents out there. Like one of my favorite authors, Katie MacAlister, I’m a bit of an “anglophile,” though not as strongly as my friend, Obi-One-Pin-Obi. She embraces English culture on a much more soulful level. She’s even traveled there several times in her life, of which I will always be greatly envious of. (Someday Pilot and I will take our Europe trip. I know it!) There’s something about the dark, dank, foggy environment mixed with bits of chemistry and carriages while solving a seemingly impossible riddle that fascinates me to no end. He is able to pick out the minutiae and combine it together to create a fully realized conclusion. Unlike Nancy Drew, I enjoy Sherlock Holmes because he is a greatly flawed character. He is an opium addict, smokes, might have a touch of Aspergers blended with narcissism. He’s also a talented in music, his violin skills often being referenced in the multitude of novels.

There’s no point to this post, only to share a love of all things sleuthy with the troves of people out there on the internet. I bid you all good day.

Who are your favorite mystery, suspense, thriller, all things spooky authors?
What series do you follow?
Which Nancy Drew is your favorite?

Stay sleuthy!

Check out Obi-One-Pin-Obi on her blog:

grab your rulers and whip those suckers out! it’s measuring time!

Does size really matter?

You know, there are several people out there who wonder: What’s the difference between a short story and a novella? Also, what makes a piece a novel vs. a novella? Are they the feminine and masculine versions of a written work? Or is the English vs. French version of the naming?  WTF?

Let’s explore, shall we?

Believe it or not, short stories and novellas are actually different from each other. Additionally, novels and novellas are separate entities.

Unfortunately, Precious Readers, as with many things, what is the key variable that separates all three?

Drum roll please…


They say bigger is better…


That’s right, Precious Readers! It’s all about size: the number of words in the piece, specifically.  To help, here’s a guide (from smallest to largest):

A fictional prose narrative shorter, and more focused, than a novella.
It typically is a single “episode” and often a single character.
Average length is generally only up to around 12,000 words.

A fictional prose narrative often set during a brief period of time,
such as a day, week or month.

It concentrates on character study.
Average length is around 16,000-40,000 words.

A fictional prose narrative of considerable length.

This usually has a plot is driven and unfolds through actions,
dialogue and thoughts of varied characters or a singular character.

Average length is anywhere from 40,000-100,000+ words.

The reason I love short stories is it can allow a quick introduction to a character who will have a much larger work (novel) down the road.  Short stories open up all types of possibilities.  Another way to think of a short story or novella is an additional epilogue for some of your favorite characters, just to get a sneak peek at how they’re doing.

Think along the lines of a romance (of course, my go-to genre) and checking in with your hero/heroine after they ride off into the sunset. Well now what? A short story or novella allows authors to go back and visit them, perhaps during their honeymoon, an upcoming birth of their first child, etc.

Short stories and novellas also allow multiple authors to work together to create an anthology.

Excuse me, while I shift my librarian-like glasses and provide you with additional (sidebar) information:

An anthology is a published collection of poems or other pieces of writing.  (This term can also be applied to a collection of musical work.)

Ahem. Now back to our topic… again.

I just finished reading an anthology called The Undead in My Bed an anthology of vampire short stories by three authors, and Seeing Double Trouble (Deadwood Shorts).

It’s always difficult to rate a book that has multiple authors.  Your rating could be hindered because one short story could be amazing while another sucks.  It’s a judgment call.  I’m glad Goodreads allows me to go back and adjust a rating if I change my mind.

The Undead in My Bed

Katie MacAlister – Shades of Gray: I am a serial reader of KM’s stuff. Loved that Noelle finally got her Dark One! I’m a huge fan of all of the characters and it was heartbreaking to see Noelle get pushed on to each new novel without her story being resolved. Can’t be upset about it though, the muse is there when the muse is there. One hilarious scene with the ‘ghost whisperer’ had me reading it over and over, giggling like crazy!  The only thing that prevents a full 5 stars is an earlier short story introducing Grayson (See Lifestyles of the Rich and Undead) wasn’t free and I had to pay for both LOTRU AND SOG.  However, I did find myself “snarfing” along with her work and I can never put her stuff down!

Shoutout to Pacific Northwest authors! What up?!

Molly Harper – Undead Sublet: Oh MH, how you crack me up in the most inappropriate manner! I wish I had best friends like Jane, Andrea and Jolene.  Even though this was a short story, MH really makes the reader feel that the characters are fleshed out and provides enough environmental detail without being overdone. The prank war is hilarious and makes me think of my own husband’s ongoing prank war with his brother. Plus, always a bonus when an author provides a recipe at the end! It followed a somewhat predictable formula, but had so much heart the reader is completely engaged from beginning to end! (Especially the easter eggs of the diner patrons’ romantic encounters carved into tabletops, could it be one patron is Molly Harper?) It was nice to see Jolene get a best friend since Jane and Andrea tended to view her as a little loony.

Wish I could move to Half-Moon Hollow!  I love how much I actually laugh out loud from her work. I can only hope my work is as belly-laughing inducing!  Oh, but beware of gift baskets…

Jessica Sims – Out With a Fang: I wasn’t familiar with JS’ works prior to this anthology, so it was great to be introduced to a new author. This story was a fun read, and brought a new twist on vampire lore and the many ways they can be destroyed.  It was a little confusing hearing about newly turned vamps who had difficulty talking around them. The earlier description of the vampire fangs provided an image along the lines of walrus-length teeth, creating a comical image rather than seductive one. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep the walrus-people out of my head, even during the midway point when the teeth were described as being only 2 inches in length.

I still have thoughts of the were-jaguar being a were-jaguar/walrus.  Eep!

Seeing Double Trouble (Deadwood Shorts)
Ann Charles

Side Note: Yes, the cross outs are intentional. To know Ann Charles’ work is to embrace the cross outs.

I have been a huge Ann Charles fan since I read her first Deadwood series novel, Dearly Nearly Departed in Deadwood.  After finishing Seeing Trouble (Deadwood Shorts) I am now ready to start on novel #3: Head Dead Case in Deadwood.  It was great having more background on her protagonist, Violet Parker, and how she had cut certain people from her life.  The first novel in the series didn’t go into much detail as to why these people who were significant to Violet’s life decisions were quickly crossed out of her life. The short story also provided an “author interview” of the character. I am a huge method of letting the characters be interviewed as a way of getting to know them.

Bonus! There was a separate short story thrown in called Candy Lover.  Not as great, but since it was a bonus, I’ll let it slide.

What are some of your favorite anthologies? Do you prefer anthologies to focus on a form of writing (such as poetry), or for the works to have a common theme, (like the vamp theme, above)?  Do you even like anthologies, or prefer singular works?  Do you find short stories and novellas worth the price?  Or should short stories be free?  (We’ll go more in-depth on book pricing at a later time.)

does anybody really know what time it is?

Does time travel mess with your hair, and do you need passport?

So I just finished reading the latest work from one of my favorite authors, Katie MacAlister, A Tale of Two Vampires.  It is another sequel, if one could call it that, to her Ben & Fran series. (Two of my all-time favorite characters, EVER.)

Although KM is primarily an adult romance writer, she had written some Young Adult (YA) work through the POV of Francesca (Fran) Ghetti and her Dark One, Benedict Czerny in Got Fangs? and Circus of the Darned.  For her adult readers she created a third novel featuring these two characters with In the Company of Vampires.

If you’re reading this, Katie MacAlister, I signed up to join the Moravian Society over a month ago. I’m a super-fan, and I know you’re busy with (hopefully) the next Light Dragons or Dark Ones series, but… I like stuff and am waiting for my free stuff.  <sheepish smile.>

Now, although A Tale of Two Vampires, is separate from Fran & Ben’s story, it is a continuation of that plotline. Focusing on the POVs of Iolanthe Tennyson (Io) as the Beloved and of Benedikt’s father, also a Dark One, Nikola Czerny.  It’s one of the first of KM’s works that features both POVs of the heroine and hero.  Typically her Dark Ones series focuses only on the heroine’s POV.

It was quite refreshing to having both POV’s. As a reader, and in my personal life, I’m quite nosy and prefer to understand exactly what the characters are thinking, whether it is a female or male perspective. I’ll admit, it’s been a little frustrating reading KM’s works from only a female POV.

We’ll get to which POV I prefer to write from at a later time.

Also new to her Dark Ones series is a new turn of events, or rather a sidestep of events by using time travel through ‘portals.’  The idea of portals themselves are not new. Portals have been a longtime part of several of her more recent Dark Ones series; however, the use of portals for time travel is new.

I have yet to watch the old and new series of Dr. Who and focusing on time travel, but it’s on my list of to-do’s.  One of my all time favorite film series is Back to the Future with Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox, and a non-favorite Just Visiting, a failed attempt at campy humor by a typical-favorite-but-disappointed-in-this-film with Christina Applegate.

The protagonist, Io is unknowingly a “Weaver,” a person with the ability to open and close portals through time. She falls through one of these portals back to the eighteenth century, not only to literally crash into Nikola, but she’s actually met his children and has knowledge of his impending doom.

So this brings up a question to you, Precious Readers. If you had knowledge of something horrible happening to someone in the future, and had the ability to stop it, would you? Even if it meant seriously screwing with the space-time continuum or time thread, or plane, or whatever you want to call it?  I’m sure in my youth when I was very easily able to view the world in black and white, my answer would have been “Heck No! Don’t mess with time! It always screws things up!”  Events such as KM describes it, creating a future run by lizards instead of humans.

Yeah, I’d definitely want to avoid that!

But now?  Hmm… I don’t know. There are some things I wish I could erase or fix that hopefully wouldn’t have a large impact in our future world.  The thing that I never understand about time travel plot lines is we only know what is happening to the current environment. Perhaps changing the past doesn’t do anything to our future, but what if it had a direct impact to some other nation?

For an extreme example: What if someone prevented Hitler from being born?  This would greatly affect the whole world’s history, let alone just his family or Germany’s history.  Entire nations may have been shaped completely differently!  And even if those events hadn’t been caused by Hitler, would that mean an event as similar would have happened later, like the USA would have had a brief stint of the KKK ruling for a while or something?

Ew, can’t believe I went there, but… Do you know what I mean?

Speaking of time travel, can we address the spaceship in the room?  What do you think of the new Star Trek film directed by J.J. Abrams? (Yes, I went with J.J., again.)  By creating a time-loop, similar to what KM was using as a plot device, he was able to open a completely new can of “wormholes” to develop an entirely new, (dare I say, cooler), version to kickoff all new plotlines.

Portals, wormholes, linen closet (for you Sabrina the Teenage Witch 90’s fans).

I was delighted (and frustrated) that the end of A Tale of Two Vampires left a lot of open-ended questions for me, as a reader. With the delight of knowing there would be more to come for these wonderful characters, but a frustration that her next novel featuring Io and Nikola may not necessarily be a standalone novel.

While KM is amazing at creating this paranormal world rich with wit, sass and good humor, she’s not the greatest at leaving a new reader who is introduced in the middle of a 3+ novel story arch with all of their questions about who characters are or environments easy to figure out.  The only reason I’m able to keep up is due to reading her Dark Ones series in order.

I recently finished KM’s work on her Light Dragons series, which I was slightly upset that there was an abundance of characters in the stories from previous Dragon series.  Although the ensemble cast was fun and entertaining, having not read her earlier works of Aisling Grey or her Silver Dragons series, it became difficult to keep everyone and their previous plotlines straight.

Keep in mind there are 4 Aisling Grey novels/novellas, and 3 Silver Dragonsnovels in the series before the 3+ Light Dragonsseries.  (At least there better be more than 3 Light Dragons novels because, again, there were waaay too many open-ended questions left in Sparks Fly, novel 3 of the Light Dragons series.)

You could go as far to say that I started at the end of a timeline and now have to work my way back to the beginning to figure out what the fuck is going on with these dragons of hers.

BTW, KM does address the ‘messed up hair’ issue with the idea that dragons do not like portal travel and it messes them up physically and mentally.

As much as I enjoy reading about time travel, I do not personally prefer to force myself to go through it. Especially with plot lines.

What do you think? Do you think time travel is a fun plot device used by writers? Do you prefer everyone just stick with the time space continuum they’re a part of and let that sleeping dog lie? What about the idea of interacting with someone from the future or past? Which are some of your favorite time travel books and films?  (Also, do you recommend the recent Dr. Who, series?  Is it good?)