Top 3 Beach Reads

Summer is the season of beach reading! Generally, I define a “beach read” as something I can throw in a bag and know that the pages will just fly by. Maybe that’s a trusted favorite book or something new, taking a chance on a new author. Beach reads draw us in quickly and they are all about escaping our regular reality.

Simply put, they add to our sense of vacation and escape. That’s my take on the genre anyway! I think the best beach reads are also paperbacks and under 300 pages – beach reading is not the time to lug around a heavy encyclopedia!

Whatever your preferences, there’s a great beach read option for everyone. Here are my top three this season! Don’t forget the sunscreen!

  • BIOGRAPHY
    • Sometimes the best beach read escapes are ventures into someone else’s flip flops. If your go-to beach read is biography, spend some time with Kunal Nayyar:
      • Yes, My Accent Is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You by Kunal Nayyar
        • I loved this book! It’s funny, witty, and a great example of pursuing one’s dreams while also figuring out what those dreams are. Kunal is hilarious and the pages fly by. But it’s so much more than a comedic memoir, because there’s also a lot of wisdom in this book. For example, several life lessons about dealing with disappointment when fate has other plans like, “If it happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, very good.”
  • MYSTERY
    • Mysteries are great for beach reads, since they are usually page-turners as we try to guess the ending. If you love complicated characters, then spend some time this summer figuring out where Bernadette went:
      • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
        • This is a very fun book, especially for anyone who likes a good contemporary mystery. The story is told via letters, emails, and regular chapters that cover multiple points of view from several characters. Each perspective is richly presented and has its own twists and turns. 
  • ROMANCE
    • If you’ve ever wanted to meet someone just like in the movies via a ‘meet cute,’ then read this to see if it’s possible to find true love by spilling a cup of coffee or taking a road trip with a stranger:
      • Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters
        • This book is such fun! It’s about a woman who decides to test out movie ‘meet cutes’ to inspire a screenwriter she’s working with who needs to finish a romantic comedy. It’s fun to read about the protagonist trying to find love the way they do in the movies, starting with spilling a drink on a few guys in a coffee shop to a road trip with a stranger. Overall an entertaining read, especially for ‘rom com’ movie fans.

Back to the Editing Board

Like most writers, I’ve read my books a million times. Maybe not literally one million, but it certainly feels like it. They are both terrifically fun novels to read, by the way, just ask me. 🙂 No matter how many times I review them or how many editors I have, there is always a sneaky little typo hiding like a ghost in a corner. They jump out at me and I catch my breath.

Where was it hiding and how did it manage to evade my notice for months? I don’t have any answers on that outside of the obvious ones like writers ‘know’ what’s going to happen next so our brains just skip the typos. My typos usually fall into two categories: The missing word and the right word, wrong spelling. I can tell you from experience that ‘spell check’ is generally rendered useless by those circumstances. Grammar check likewise, and grammar check also toys with my inability to correctly use a semi-colon.

When I first started sharing my writing with people not related to me, I would nearly hyperventilate if anyone told me about a typo or missed word.

Writing is hard and sharing one’s writing with strangers is probably up there on the chart of scary things like jumping out of airplanes, online dating, joining the circus, or cooking lobsters.

My biggest fear of someone finding that my writing wasn’t perfect has been realized a few times and I survived to write another day. I’ve grown a sort of writer’s leathery thick skin that means I can survive a bad review or a grammarian’s scolding. That said, even today when I find a typo or bad form in one of my novels or works in progress, I still feel that sense of dread and shame.

And then I get over it.

I fix it and try to do better next time. I hope that gentle readers out there find a way to forgive and are still able to enjoy the story and the worlds created for them.

Hope is more powerful than fear. It’s what keeps me from giving up. My novels may be rather unknown with a few readers, but as I continue along this journey, there are more and more readers who have never heard of me, seen me at Christmas in my home town, or been exposed to my high school yearbook photo – yet they still find my books and enjoy the read.

Thanks to the gentle readers who can see the story through the glitches and thanks also to the critical readers who point the way toward improvement. I’m very grateful that you read my novels and took a chance on some writer you never heard of.

I’ve just re-published my latest novel, Christmas at Maplemont Manor, and I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ve neutralized any outstanding gremlin typos. Each of us gets better every day and that only happens by not giving up. Keep writing and editing. Onward!

Small Things Shine Brightly

Recently I had the fun opportunity to visit a lighthouse that had been moved to the shore, after it was decommissioned. At the top of a second set of very narrow stairs, I found the light itself and snapped this photo of the upside view of the water outside when looking through the light.

As anyone who has visited a lighthouse before knows, while the glass around the light is quite large, the light bulb itself is small. Of course there’s some excellent science involved about how a small light can extend miles away to show the safe path home for those at sea.

Small things can always shine brightly, which gives me hope and a reason for optimism. It’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t work out the way that we hoped, but important to keep shining anyway.

As a writer, it can be easy to feel discouraged when someone else doesn’t share the same joy after reading your novel or first chapter. However, those moments also provide opportunities to improve and grow.

The novel editing process can be like the trial and error involved in building the first lighthouse light designs. Each improvement and even small adjustment can result in that final, dazzling beam of light which can illuminate and connect with readers.

Keep shining brightly. Eventually the fog will clear, the glass will be adjusted, and that small light will dazzle in brightness.