Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Writing Morning Pages


In January, I wrote a post answering the question: What Are Morning Pages?. A short description is that Morning Pages are handwritten pages of approximately 750 words written strictly in a stream-of-consciousness style every morning as close to waking up as possible.

I've written Morning Pages for every day since January 1. And I've broken every rule of writing these Pages. I have written fewer words than 750 and I've written more. I have written stream-of-consciousness and I've written directed writing where I have some self-help-type things or daily life issues I'm trying to work out. I've written pages in the morning and in the evening and every time in between. I have skipped a day or two here and there and then made up those pages on the next day.

And despite all of these exceptions to the rule, I have consistently handwritten them, and I declare that my Morning Pages exercise has been a success. To me, it is the writing that matters and using your brain to wrestle with issues and coming up with ideas to write about. I believe that writing longhand is key to our mind being able to sift through and process things that really matter to our long term mental health. To that effect, it's like meditation. It's a calming exercise that is in turn a sharpening of the consciousness.

I have benefitted greatly from these Pages. They've become a part of my life—a way for me to celebrate the joys, come to terms with problems, and deal with grief. This year, brought with it all three, the last of which I could've done without, but the Pages got me through everything.

Reporting in every day to a group of Pagers has been fun. In addition to the companionship, those tweets have added the accountability that has been necessary for me to form this new habit and keep me motivated. The group of people I've reported in to has changed over the weeks and months, but Angela Reynolds and Liz McCausland have been consistently tweeting me since the beginning, and I'm grateful to them.

I'll be taking a hiatus from Morning Pages from December 1–31, and I'll resume writing them on January 1, 2017. There's too much going on in December, and I never want writing these Pages to be a chore, but rather, something I eagerly anticipate. So while I know that I'll miss them doing them very much, a hiatus makes sense.

If daily Morning Pages sounds like something you'd be interested in doing, join me in Paging in the new year. Tweet me every morning and let me know you've Paged.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016


#TBRChallenge Reading: When a Scot Loves a Lady by Katharine Ashe


2016 TBR Reading Challenge
Book: When a Scot Loves a Lady
Author: Katharine Ashe
My Categories: Romance, Regency
Wendy Crutcher's Category: Historical

I read this book on a recommendation by Emily Wittmann, and I'm glad I did. I had lately been disenchanted with historical romance—tired of wallpaper stories and their silly plots. With this romance, I was heartened that my beloved sub-genre had not abandoned me. I just needed to look harder for authors new-to-me and take recommendations with an eye to who's doing the recommending.

Lord Leam Blackwood is a Scottish earl, who for the past five years has been residing in London as part of the secret Falcon Club. The club's denizens are involved in various spy activities on shore and off-shore on behalf of The Crown. Leam meets Lady Katherine Savege at a ball and is struck by her vulnerability even as she clings to another man who treats her callously.

Kitty had been taken advantage of by this man in her youth, where he robbed her of her innocence and then refused to marry her. In clinging to him, she's seeking information about all aspects of his life, because she's seeking retribution for his depredations. And she succeeds handsomely in destroying his reputation so thoroughly that he's cast from society. However, her meeting with Leam at that ball convinces her to move away from her path of further revenge on to building a life for herself, to reclaim, in part, the charm of youthfulness.

Five years later, Kitty and her friend manage to arrive at a small inn in a snowstorm, only to find it also occupied by Leam and his friend. This is where Leam and Kitty are helpless to halt their attraction to each other. What had barely begun at the ball is consummated at that inn.

Given how much time Kitty spends with Leam, she detects that occasionally, Leam drops his loquacious Scottish brogue to speak in the cultured tones of a nobleman. Around her though, he always adopts the folksy mien. When they make love, he drops lines of poetry in various languages, again, bespeaking of an education that is at variance with the image he's trying hard to project.

It is an image he has taken pains to develop for the Falcon Club's purposes. And since they're currently on a mission, he doesn't abandon it, even as Kitty and he are drawing closer to each other.

I enjoyed seeing how Leam drops his spy cloak to reveal his Blackwood self to Kitty and how she comes to terms with their new relationship. From its fiery beginning scenes at the inn, the story moves forward at a more measured pace through the rest of the book.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016


My October Reading


I read two Amish romances this month. Before I read them, my only experience with an inspirational romance was the execrable and unconscionable For Such a Time by Kate Breslin. So I was a bit tentative in approaching this pair of inspirationals, but I was pleased with the books. Quieter and sweeter than I had expected and dwelling not too much on the religious aspects of their lives, these books appealed to me in the way traditional Regencies do.

Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
Categories: Contemporary Romance, General Fiction
Comments: I loved this book, especially the novella Paris for One. It is a very sweet romance between a shy English young woman and a confident Parisian young man. She's been constantly taken advantage of and he teaches her to dream, to expect better of and for herself. The short stories in the book are a study of marriages over a period of years; not in the throes of the honeymoon period but after a seasoned number of years have elapsed. I was very pleased with the overall development of the stories—Moyes is clearly a very talented writer. My review is here.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Categories: Contemporary Romance
Comments: This is a workplace enemies-to-lovers romance as well as a Rent-a-Date romance. It's a romance that's an urban modern story as well as a story with old-fashioned values. What I liked most about this book is the banter between the hero and the heroine. It is clever, sharp, very articulate, and very funny. I enjoyed how they are both strong characters who give as good as they get. This isn't a tentative story, but a boldly assured one. Despite the sassiness of the dialogue, the romance is very sweet, and at the same time, very hot—a great combination. There are a few glaring negatives in the book that I have detailed in my review here. This was my October TBR Challenge book.

The Fortress by Danielle Trussoni
Categories: Nonfiction Memoir
Comments: I wrote my October ShallowReader Bingo! Card entirely on this book. It is a memoir narrated by Danielle Trussoni about her second marriage, how it began, and what happened over the ten years of its duration. The author makes herself incredibly vulnerable to judgment by the reader as she goes into excruciating details about the good, bad, and terrible parts of her marriage and what it means to live with someone with whom she’s increasingly disenchanted. I couldn’t look away from this story of the awful wreck of two people’s lives and the awful wreck of their marriage. I despised the author and her husband and had lost every ounce of respect for them by the end. Despite this, the book is a compelling read, because the writing is articulate, imaginative, and even beautiful in parts. My review is here.

A Sister's Wish by Shelley Shepard Gray
Categories: Inspirational Romance
Comments: This is book three of "The Charmed Amish Life" series. Gray is a well-known author of Amish romances, and her experience is visible in her deft handling of her characters' emotions. The central love story is a sweet love story of a girl whose ambition is to have her own family and to look after it. She's courted by a strong man who respects her for her hard work and care in looking after her older siblings and their families. He knows that she will dedicate herself to her own family with love and attentive care. In her, he sees the embodiment of everything he desires in a life partner. The problem with this book is that the central love story isn't on the page very much. The book is over-crowded with the stories of a large cast of characters, and so by the end of the book, while there's an HFN, there's no HEA. There just hasn't been any time to develop a HEA, which it is presumed will develop off-stage and in the following book. My review is here.

An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shephard Gray
Categories: Inspirational Romance
Comments: This is fourth book of "The Charmed Amish Life" series, and it tells the story of bad boy Levi Kinsinger, who’s returned home in time to celebrate Christmas with his family—and the miracle the season has in store for him. Unlike the above story, this one stays tightly focused on the central couple. Other characters's stories are developed here, but they are clearly secondary characters and do not dominate the conversation. As a result, the main story's richer and more complex. I enjoyed seeing how his rough edges are smoothened out by her steady and accepting regard, and how bit by bit, they start to trust each other as their attraction and warm feelings towards each other grow. My review is here.