Tag Archive for: #reading

Lack of TV by Dru Ann Love

It had to happen to this TV addict. It had to happen to this award show addict. What has happened? Well for the award shows, they rarely nominated a show that I watched, so it was useless to watch the Emmys or the Daytime Emmy since I don’t watch the few soap operas still on the air. I stopped watching the Golden Globes and the People Choice award shows because I knew less than one percent of the nominees – okay maybe five percent. The Grammys – who are these artists that are half dressed – wait, hardly dressed. I think the only show I still watch is the Oscars and that is to see what people are wearing.

Oh, and let’s talk about TV shows. Back in the day, my whole week was taken over by the TV shows I HAD to watch. Now, I calculated I watch one show on Sunday (Equalizer), one on Monday (9-1-1) and two shows on Thursday (Young Sheldon and the new show, So Help Me Todd). Nothing else enticed me to watch. They need to bring back shows like Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Remington Steele and so on.

So, what am I doing when I’m not watching these four shows, I’ve been reading. Post pandemic my book reading was 2-3 books a week, now it has picked up to 3-5 books a week. I’ve been reading a lot of advance reader copies, mostly non-cozy titles with a few cozies in the pack. Last week I read a historical thriller and enjoyed it. A few weeks ago, I read a book that took place in Ireland. Everyone who knows me know I do not read books where the location is outside of the U.S.A nor do I read historicals. But lack of TV viewing is opening me up to branch out my reading habit.


So, has the lack of anything caused you to increase other things?


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Scouting for Good Reads

by Saralyn Richard


One of my most memorable activities from childhood was being
a part of the Girl Scouts. My Girl Scout troop was phenomenal. Our leaders,
Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. Martin, made sure every meeting was a learning experience
and a social experience worth our time and effort. We went on several trips,
including one to the Alamo in San Antonio, the State Capitol in Austin, and to
a dude ranch in New Braunfels. Many of the girls in our troop are still among
my close friends today.

The scout program encouraged each girl to select an area to “specialize”
in, with the goal of earning a badge in that field. I earned many badges in my
time, but my favorite was—no surprise here—the reading badge. The reading badge
didn’t require me to go out into scorching hot, mosquito-infested campgrounds.
I didn’t have to prove proficiency at knot-tying (although I recall doing
something like that anyway), sharp-tool-wielding, or fire-starting. All I had
to do was chill with a book in the comfort of my house, which was my favorite
activity anyway.

The reading badge turned out not to be that easily obtained,
however. If memory serves me correctly, I had to read a hundred books, most of
them required. Lots of these books were Newbery Award winners. Many of them
were classics. Most were long. Some of the titles I remember were Hittie:  Her First Hundred Years, Desiree, King of the
Wind, Johnny Tremain, Adam of the Road, Caddie Woodlawn, Little Women, Black
Beauty, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Pippi Longstocking, Robinson Crusoe.
remember sitting in the elementary school library, reading every chance I could.

Even though I was an avid reading before I decided to work
on the badge, I benefitted in numerous ways from reading so many excellent books. My vocabulary increased, as did my understanding of diverse cultures and
themes. Most of all, my love of reading grew exponentially. The more I read,
the more I craved clever story lines, exquisite descriptions, fascinating

I’m sure the reading badge contributed to my choosing to
major in English and to teach high school English. More than likely, it inspired
me to try my hand at writing, too.

I decided to see what the requirements are for the reading
badge today, and here’s what I found out. Girl Scouts has modernized its “curriculum.”
The options for badges, awards, and pins include more practical topics, like
saving the environment, becoming financially literate, becoming a space science
researcher, and leading in the digital world. See
for a complete list. A scout can earn a reading diva patch (see here),
but so little is required that one could earn that in a week’s time.

At the risk of sounding like an anachronism, I’m sad that
the opportunities afforded by the rigorous reading badge no longer exist for
young girls. At the same time, I’m extremely grateful that I earned mine when I

Were you a big reader when you were younger? What were some
of your most memorable books read?


Richard’s award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children’s book
pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor
houses and disadvantaged urban high schools.
 Saralyn’s most recent release is Bad Blood Sisters. A
member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America,
Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature at the Osher Lifelong Learning
Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Her favorite thing about being an
author is interacting with readers like you.
here, on her
Amazon page 
here, or on Facebook here.



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Why Books
are Better for Your Brain

By Saralyn


Since the
beginning of television, debates have been held over the benefits of reading
over TV watching or vice versa. Some of the tried-and-true arguments include:

allows you to form pictures in your brain, which involves more creativity and
imagination than having them spoon-fed.

time is all quality time, with no time wasted on commercials.

are portable and less expensive to use.

delve into thought-provoking issues more thoroughly than TV shows.

is a quieter, more peaceful activity.

can read on your own schedule.

don’t have to worry about whether you subscribe to the right channel.

All great
points, but here are a few more that come from educational (and brain-based)

unlike watching or listening to media, allows the brain to stop, think,
process, and imagine the narrative in front of you.

creates connections in the brain that promote language, cognitive, social, and
emotional development.

rewires the brain and creates new white matter.

puts the reader in the shoes of the character in the book, figuratively and
biologically. It creates empathy.

increases attention spans and encourages sequential thinking.

increases vocabulary.

rewires your brain, so that you can imagine alternative paths, remember
details, picture detailed scenes, and think through complex problems.

In short,
reading makes you more knowledgeable AND more functional. In other words, if
television is a bag of potato chips and a soft drink, reading is a warm and
tasty meal and a delicious smoothie.

My years
in education have proven to me over and over again how important it is to be a
good reader. Literacy is the basis for all learning (even mathematics and
music, which are other forms of reading). The more you practice reading, the
better able you will be to comprehend, analyze, compare and contrast,
synthesize, and evaluate. No one I know of has ever made those same claims for
watching television.

I’m not
advocating the abolishment of TVs or television programming. But I do recommend
making reading a priority when carving out your leisure time. Whatever you
choose to read, you’ll have excellent entertainment, and your brain will thank

Richard’s award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children’s book
pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor
houses and disadvantaged urban high schools.
 Saralyn’s most recent release is Bad Blood Sisters. A
member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America,
Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature at the Osher Lifelong Learning
Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Her favorite thing about being an
author is interacting with readers like you.
here, on her
Amazon page 
here, or on Facebook here.

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What’s Happening to the English Language?

by Saralyn Richard

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can
remember. My parents encouraged me to be an English teacher, instead. So, I
spent several decades reading and grading other people’s writing. I even taught
journalism and creative writing—to teenagers and later to seniors (aged 50+).
Although teaching kept me way too busy to write, it also kept me in the
universe of writers and writing. I was like a frustrated chef who had all the
best recipes and ingredients but couldn’t enter the kitchen.

years ago, I came to a crossroads in my education career. By then I’d moved
into administration and school improvement consulting, and the constant travel
had become too much. I stepped back from on-site consulting and began doing
what I’d always loved, writing. In this case, it was technical
writing—curricula, white papers, articles, proposals, and grants.

was a joy to flex my writing muscles. I had a blast selecting the best words,
sentence structures, and arguments. The rules of grammar and mechanics rolled
back into my frontal lobe as if they had never left.

                                            Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

I was ready to try my hand at fiction, and I took great delight in practicing
other tools of the trade, such as imagery, figures of speech, and dialogue.
Grateful for a traditional education in grammar and composition, which even
included diagramming sentences, I forged ahead with fulfilling my dream

I didn’t realize is how much the English language had relaxed while I was busy doing
classroom duty. When had the Oxford comma controversy reared its ugly head?
When had use of “their” as a singular possessive pronoun come into acceptable
use? How had adverbs, those lovely -ly descriptors, become persona non grata?
I began seeing non-words like “supposably” and “irregardless” cropping up in articles
that had supposedly been edited and vetted for publication. And when did
“blonde” become an adjective?

my first publisher was as picky as I was, and the few times we clashed over how
to punctuate something, we let the Chicago Manual of Style serve as
referee, and most of the time, Chicago sided with me. I did go to the mat a few
times over such things as where the apostrophe should go in a possessive of a
proper name ending in “s.”

                                            Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

            If I
sound like a hundred-year-old spinster schoolteacher, let me assure you that is
not the case. I can waltz and fox trot, but I can also hit the whoah. I’m sure
everyone reading this post has certain pet peeves regarding the English
language. What are yours?


Saralyn Richard is the author of A MURDER OF
PRINCIPAL, the Detective Parrott mystery series, and the children’s book,
NAUGHTY NANA. Follow her on social media and on her website



How does one become a reader? by Dru Ann Love

It starts when someone, most likely mom, reads to you

Then you are read from picture books, pretty pictures with words

Then you begin to understand the words

Then you realize different words make sentences

Now you know what happens on each page, sort of like you are reading even if you don’t know the words

You are older, and can point out the book that you want read to you

You know a few of the words by sight as they go along with the story

What is that on the table, a box of cereal

Lots of words but the picture tells what you are eating

And you know the words when you see them

Ahh, time for school where you will learn your A-B-Cs

Now you know what those words are in the book and on the cereal box

Look ma, I’m reading!

You are now a reader and let the fun begin.

What do you remember about your early reading days?

Reading and Meal Deliveries by Dru Ann Love

Reading is my savior. Because I don’t have to commute to work, I miss that routine of an hour of reading before and after work. I lost my reading mojo when this global crisis started, as I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Words were just words to me.

I’m glad I got my reading mojo back, however, I’m struggling with it. Normally I would read two to three books in a week and now it takes me at least one week to finish a book. I think it’s the routine I miss.

No matter what, I continue to read and enjoy the stories being told for my reading pleasure.

How is everyone else doing with their reading?

So in between that, I’ve been trying out a few grocery delivery companies:

  • Amazon Fresh: I get 98% of what I ordered delivered.
  • Instacart: I get at least 85% of what I ordered delivered, so the shopping cart cost always fluctuate.

And home meal deliveries.

  • HelloFresh: The program wouldn’t let me pick my own meal for the first time, so I had to settle on their choice and of the three, the only one I like was the flatbread and that is if I didn’t put the stuff they wanted me to put on it. Plus I had to do prep work. And the reason for cancellation, they did not deliver the box to my apartment door. They left it where the mailbox are and if I would not have said, hey where are they and went down there, someone could have walked away with the box.
  • Now, I’m experimenting with Freshly now. The food is prepared and all I have to do is put it in the oven (it’s meant for a microwave, which I don’t have). In week one, I liked two of my choices. This week I picked something different and we’ll see if I continue beyond that.
  • The other delivery companies all involved prep – yes, I’m lazy like that.

So, have any of you tried grocery deliveries or home meal deliveries?

Author Events

by Bethany Maines

Like the Olympics author readings are cause for applause (from the audience), tears (usually from the author over their story), and gasps of surprise (like when someone literally falls out of their chair).  Unlike the Olympics, these events usually go better with alcohol. 

I recently participated in Noir at the Bar Seattle a quarterly reading event that brings together a variety of authors to share their work.  The entire purpose of the evening is to delight the audience with tales of crime, murder and debauchery.  And the latest event was no exception.  From serial killing teenagers to con men and a very threatening masseuse each tale took the listeners down a different dark alley.  Located at the aptly named Alibi Room at Seattle’s Pike place market (near the gum wall, for those who have been) the venue provided excellent atmosphere.

I enjoy the opportunity to read in public, but this wasn’t always the case.  It’s nerve wracking to reveal any artistic work to the judgement of the public, but then having to be the vehicle for that art, whether it’s dance or some other type performance, puts the judgement not just on the work itself, but on the performer.  Or in other words, you’re all staring at meeeeeeeee! 

What has helped me is to realize that the act of reading is separate from the story itself.  I can have the perfect story, but if I biff the performance then no one will know.  In order to present my beautiful baby story to the world in the best way I must ovary up and give it a proper introduction.  Fortunately, my introduction for Tammy Loves Derek, a happy-go-lucky tale of gold-digging and revenge went well.  Perhaps in the future I will be able to find it a nice publication to match it up with.  But I will definitely be looking forward to the next opportunity to share my words with an audience.

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Merry Christmas!

by Bethany Maines

Some years I’m more into the Christmas spirit than others.  This year I started listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I’ve squeezed in my favorite Christmas movies – White Christmas and Die Hard. I have decorated the mantle with every single Christmas card, including the one from the distant family friends that came with a two page letter (who has the time for that??).  And I have wrapped all the presents and bought all the stuffs. Christmas is happening at my place. 

But not all years are filled with the Yuletide joy.  And I do remember a few seasons in which I wanted to stab the eye out of the next bell ringer and I deeply resonated with Hans Gruber.  Well, I mean to be honest, I still resonate with Hans Gruber.  Who doesn’t want 600 million in bearer bonds and who wouldn’t get mad about some stupid NYC cop ruining a perfectly good heist?  I mean, really.

But whether you’re feeling like curling up away from everyone with a good book (ahem, here’s a few you might like – Bethany Maines on Amazon) or you’re going to be rocking it with family and friends – I wish you a Merry Christmas and a restful vacation.  And as Hans once said, “It’s Christmas, Theo — it’s the time of miracles.” So maybe this year we’ll all get our Christmas wishes (and 600 million in bearer bonds).


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous
short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some
serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her
daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel.
You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Welcome to the Holidays!

We here at the Stiletto Gang love our readers and hope that you’re all healthy and happy this holiday season. We’ve put together a list of our recent works to inspire you during the gift shopping free-for-all of Black Friday.  Aside from some fantastic sales many of the gang are offering giveaways and free books. So do a little shopping, but don’t feel guilty if you snag a few presents for yourself as well!

Thank you for being our friend! 

Julie Mulhern

CONNECT AT: www.juliemulhernauthor.com

Fields’ Guide to Abduction
Poppy Fields is a Hollywood IT girl with big problems. Bodies are popping up like daisies, the Mexican police have taken her passport, and, when she runs for the border, a cartel makes her their unwilling guest. Surrounded by trained killers, Poppy will need charm, intelligence, and a killer Chihuahua if she hopes to escape. #FREE on your favorite e-reader
GET NOW: Amazon

Paula Gail Benson

CONNECT AT: www.paulagailbenson.com
Love in the Lowcountry
These 14 tales by members of the Lowcountry Romance Writers take place in Charleston, S.C., during the winter holiday season. My story, “Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest,” is about Mel, an English graduate student who is better at literature than life. She is unexpectedly thrown back in time to 1936, where she meets the subjects of her thesis, Dorothy and DuBose Heyward. What she doesn’t anticipate is for her fellow grad student Will to follow her. Can Mel and Will make it back to present day Charleston in time to spend Thanksgiving with Will’s young daughter?
BUY NOW: Amazon

J.M. Phillippe

CONNECT AT: www.jmphillippe.com

The Christmas Spirit
Charlene Dickenson didn’t think that some minor stalking of her ex-boyfriend would lead to her untimely death. And she really didn’t think that because she died in a Christmas-related accident, she would end up in the Hall of Christmas Spirits. But a Christmas death means that Charlene must discover if she has what it takes to be a Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, or Future—helping mortals transform their lives like Ebenezer Scrooge—or end up like Jacob Marley and spend the rest of her existence in chains.  Only Charlene has no intention of letting unknown forces control her life…death… after-life.  Charlene figures that with a little ingenuity and pluck, she can surely figure a way out of this situation.  But finding out how to win may just mean giving up everything she loves.  Stuck in a place where the Christmas music never ends and the holiday treats will never make you full, Charlene is going to have to figure out how to let go of her mortal life and embrace the Christmas Spirit.
BUY NOW: all locations

Barbara Plum

CONNECT AT: www.barbaraplumauthor.com

Crazy Daze & a Knight
Hop off the fast track. Buy a boat. Write the great American novel.
Forty-four-year old Susanna Walker knows about taking risks and dreaming big. Mother of two grown kids. Former CEO of a Silicon Valley PR firm. Ex-wife of a still present, former compulsive gambler, Susanna ignores their objections to her life and refuses to accept she may be perimenopausal. As with all well-laid plans, hers quickly derail when the hunk from the boat next door drops by and invites her to supper on his vessel, Camelot. The boat’s name, his boyish appearance, and the medieval armor leave Susanna a bit dazed.
Against all reason, she agrees to inspect the armor more closely whle he puts the touches on fresh pasta, shrimp, and a cheeky Chardonnay. When she wakes the next morning, her clothes neatly folded on the chair next to her bed, she’s butt naked. And mad. He suckered her with his knight-in-shining armor disguise. But does he think he can steal her underwear without consequences? Unfortunately, the Bold Knight rejects the consequences and issues his own challenge.
BUY NOW: Amazon

Bethany Maines

CONNECT AT: Goodreads

The Second Shot
A drunken mistake in college cost US Marshal Maxwell Ames the affection of Dominique Deveraux and six years later, he’s determined to fix the slip-up. But there’s just one tiny problem—someone wants the Deveraux family dead. Dominique Deveraux never expected Max to reappear in her life, let alone apologize, but as Dominique investigates the mysterious attacks on her wealthy family Max quickly becomes far more than her one time college classmate. Now, Max and Dominique must dodge mercenaries and bullets as they try to make sure that they’re the only ones who get a second shot.
BUY NOW: all locations

GIVEAWAY: Get a free Christmas ebook at…

Kay Kendall

CONNECT AT: www.AustinStarr.com

After You’ve Gone During
Prohibition a small Texas town’s deadly secrets are revealed by a sheltered, yet enterprising young woman. Plus puzzling disappearances and lethal grudges, twenty-three-year-old Wallie MacGregor uncovers it all. Evils of the outside world change her life when her father’s rum-running brother Rory lands on the MacGregors’ doorstep. Absent for decades, Rory says he’s fleeing enraged bootleggers. His tales of adventure—and the natural charisma of a born ladies’ man—charm Wallie. Yet, this long-lost brother appalls her father, a respected judge. Soon a family tragedy gets deemed an accident by the local sheriff. Yet Wallie believes she sees a crime scene showing foul play. Annoyed that no one agrees with her, she sets out to prove her theory. She snoops into her family’s past and finds gangsters, flappers and floozies. When her daring lands her in danger, she wonders if she’s really meant to be a female version of Sherlock Holmes, her literary hero. Then again, she knows she must persist.
BUY NOW: Amazon

GIVEAWAY: Win either a paperback or E-book copy of After You’ve Gone.
Enter to win by commenting on & liking the author’s page at

Sparkle Abbey

 CONNECT AT:  www.Sparkleabbey.com and www.MaryLeeAshford.com

Two #Giveaways – Latest Books – The Dogfather (Sparkle Abbey) and Risky Biscuits (Mary Lee Ashford)

Who knew the world of designer purses could be such a dog-eat-dog business?

When a local, designer handbags store owner is found dead, the police first believe it’s an unfortunate accident. But the evidence doesn’t lie. Before you can say “wiseguy,” Bow Wow Boutique owner, Melinda Langston’s, former fiancé and undercover FBI agent, Grey Donovan, is the prime suspect. Now the two are working side-by-side to prove Grey’s innocence— nothing personal, just business. Or is it? Suspects are piling up, family secrets are exposed, and no one is who they appear to be, including Mel’s newest employee. Time’s running out. Mel better sniff out the killer before she and Grey end up sleeping with the fishes.
The Dogfather BUY NOW: Amazon
Risky Biscuits BUY NOW: Amazon

GIVEAWAY: Winner’s choice of any print or e-book Sparkle Abbey book AND a Mary Lee Ashford book.  To enter simply sign up for either Sparkle Abbey OR Mary Lee Ashford’s newsletters.
www.Sparkleabbey.com and www.MaryLeeAshford.com

Cathy Perkins

CONNECT AT: www.cperkinswrites.com
In It For The Money
Holly Price traded professional goals for personal plans when she agreed to leave her high-flying position with the Seattle mergers and acquisition team and take over the family accounting practice. Reunited with JC Dimitrak, her former fiancé, she’s already questioning whether she’s ready to flip her condo for marriage and a house in the ‘burbs.       

When her cousin, Tate, needs investors for his innovative car suspension, Holly works her business matchmaking skills and connects him with a client. The Rockcrawler showcasing the new part crashes at its debut event, however, and the driver dies. Framed for the sabotage, Tate turns to Holly when the local cops—including JC—are ready to haul him to jail. Holly soon finds her cousin and client embroiled in multiple criminal schemes. She’s drawn into the investigation, a position that threatens her life, her family and her increasingly shaky relationship with JC.

Debra H. Goldstein

CONNECT AT: www.debrahgoldstein.com

Two Bites Too Many
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce.  Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her law firm receptionist job and – if befriending strays at the local animal shelter counts – lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end…

 When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands – the twins’ sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle.  Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block.
BUY NOWAmazon • Barnes & Noble

One Taste Too Many

For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!

Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair knew starting over would be messy, but things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by her twin sister’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah, her Siamese cat, wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and her sister wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!
BUY NOW: Amazon • Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY: a print copy of One Taste Too Many to U.S. readers sign up for my blog via www.debrahgoldstein.com

Shari Randall

CONNECT AT: Facebook
Drawn and Buttered is the third book in a wonderfully satisfying cozy mystery series set at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in coastal New England.

The Lazy Mermaid’s business has slowed to a snail’s pace—until a monster lobster claws his way onto the scene…

With high season behind them, ballerina on-the-mend Allie Larkin and Aunt Gully are finally lying low. But then an unexpected guest arrives at the lobster shack: a crustacean so huge he’s dubbed Lobzilla around Mystic Bay and on social media. Soon, with everyone showing up for a peek in their tank, Allie and Aunt Gully have more on their plate than they can handle. Meanwhile, another local establishment finds itself in hot water. In exclusive Rabb’s Point, a strange burglary breaches the elegant home of Royal Parrish. Allie takes it upon herself to help with the investigation but, before she can get to the bottom of the case, another alarm sounds: the Lazy Mermaid’s Lobzilla has gone missing and is on the loose! And bodies are beginning to pile up. . .

“Delightful…Full of New England coastal charm…and clever sleuthing [that] will keep you turning the pages.”—Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva mysteries
BUY NOW: Amazon

T.K. Thorne

CONNECT AT: www.tkthorne.com
House of Rose
When rookie patrol officer Rose Brighton chases a suspect down an alley, she finds herself in the middle of every cop’s nightmare—staring down at a dead body with two bullet holes from her gun . . . in his back.

He’s dead and now she has to explain it, which is going to be a problem because what happened was so strange, she doesn’t understand it herself. Rose must unravel the mystery of what happened and who she really is—a witch of the House of Rose. If she doesn’t figure it out fast, there will be more bodies, including her own.
BUY NOW: all locations

Your Brain on Words –by T.K. Thorne

Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

Human beings were not designed to read.

When you think about it, the act of reading is an astonishing accomplishment. It’s a complex mix  that involves:

•    Recognizing symbols
•    Relating them to sounds and spoken language
•    Extracting meaning

And we’ve only been reading for a short time (5000 years)—too short for the brain to have evolved for that purpose. The conclusion of scientists is the area of the brain (the left occipital-temporal cortex, if you’re interested) that seems to coordinate this amazing process has reorganized itself to take on the task.

We’ve known from people who have experienced brain damage, such as from a stroke, that the brain can rearrange itself, a process called  neuroplasticity. When one area is damaged, new areas can take on a task that was previously relegated to another area. Researchers have long thought that this flexibility lessens with age. But this region changes even in adults who learn to read, showing that “this area is responsive to learning throughout life.”[Italics mine.]

If you are–[clearing throat]–beyond the stage of youth, as I am, that is very cool news!

But wait, there’s more!

Reading, according to cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis, is not just a distraction and entertainment. It’s “an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.” In other words, when you read a novel, you become the person you are reading about in a very physical way.

Photo by iam Se7en on Unsplash

Another neurologist Gregory Berns, says, “neural changes associated with physical sensation and movement systems [happen while people are reading and] suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist. . . . We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”

So there’s a reason why when you’re reading that good book, you loose awareness of the present. Your mind is putting you in the world of the story!

Studies have found that learning new skills, including reading or a second language creates new white matter in the brains of children and adults. White matter acts as a kind of fast neural subway, connecting different regions of the brain to one another. It plays a role in language ability, memory, and visuo-spatial construction.  Diseases of white matter are linked to cognitive and emotional difficulties. (By the way, other activites also result in increases in white matter functioning, including meditation, weight-resistance training, and practicing a musical instrument.)

Since the beginning of time, stories have allowed us to test run situations and experience emotions without the real consequences of living them. Reading may even make us more human, enriching our skills of empathy. One study found that readers of literary fiction excelled at tests involving understanding other people’s feelings.

Reading makes us generally more intelligent. In fact, recent scientific studies have confirmed that reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic. Reading  increases fluid intelligence)—the ability to solve problems, understand things and detect meaningful patterns. It also helps with reading comprehension and emotional intelligence.

“Reading helps you make smarter decisions about yourself and those around you.”

And here’s a final thought, going back to the idea of the human mind figuring out how to see and process written words by rearranging the organization of our brain. I don’t know about you, but that puts brains pretty high on my list of amazing things. But here’s the mind-blowing part, courtesy of scholar Maryanne Wolf—that reorganization, in turn “expanded the ways we were able to think, which altered the intellectual evolution of our species.

I feel the honor and responsibility of writing something like Last Chance for Justice, the nonfiction story of the Birmingham church bombing case, an incident that changed the path of civil rights around the world. But sometimes I wonder if I am making any kind of difference when I write fiction, and perhaps fellow novelists feel this too. Now we know. As a writers and storytellers, we are helping to make minds healthier, humans more human, and advancing the intellectual evolution of our species.  That’s good enough for me!

T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, HOUSE OF ROSE, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch. 

Both her award-winning debut historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE,
the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham
church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should
Be Reading” list. 

loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She
writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with a dog and a
cat vying for her lap. 

More info at TKThorne.com. Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.