Memoir

What I read: This author’s early literary influences

Someone asked me the other day what books I read growing up, and for some reason I struggled to come up with an acceptable answer. All that came to mind while I was under that spotlight was the boxes of trashy romance novels I used to get from my maternal grandmother. My high school best friend and I used to devour those novels, often reading together and stopping occasionally for one of us to read aloud to the other a particularly cheesy passage while giggling uncontrollably. While those were good times, my romance novel stage barely scratches the surface of the richness of literature I was exposed to in my early reading years.

51ELXj6i-tL._SL500_
The Witch of Blackbird Pond is one of my all-time favorite novels.

As a child growing up in a rural area with no access to a library, the books I read were  limited to whatever I could get my hands on. I loved reading Richard Scary, the Sweet Pickle books, and Dr. Seuss at the doctor’s office. I don’t remember if we had any picture books at home before I started kindergarten and gained access to the Scholastic Book Club. If we did, they were few and far between. I think we had three of the Sweet Pickle books, but I’m not sure where they came from. At some point in my early years, my dad invested in a full set of encyclopedias, and that’s what I remember him reading to me in the beginning. Continue reading “What I read: This author’s early literary influences”

DIY High

DIY High: On the plight of the Working Poor in Small Town America

Thursday, August 1st, I had the opportunity to present my very first formal book reading of my new novel, DIY High, at Ryburn Place, the former Sprague’s Super Service on Historic Route 66 in Bloomington, Illinois. If you’re ever in Central Illinois, USA – especially if you’re a Route 66 fan – Ryburn Place is a must-see!

Amanda L Webster read from her new novel, DIY High August 1st at Ryburn Place in Bloomington, Illinois
Amanda L Webster read from her new novel, DIY High, August 1st at Ryburn Place in Bloomington, Illinois.

Because I was speaking at a Route 66-themed venue, I tailored my talk to the location. The following is a transcript of portions of the presentation (minus introductions and other extraneous materials regarding the location and timing of refreshments at the event.) In addition to discussing modern life along Route 66, I also read a brief snippet from DIY High, which is also included below. Enjoy!

Working Poor Americans on Today’s Historic Route 66

DIY High isn’t about Route 66, but it does take place in a small town on this iconic highway. It is a small town, much like the central Illinois town where I live, with its busy truck stop and historic Route 66 tourist spots. The Paul Bunyan statue down the road in another town even makes a cameo appearance in this book. Continue reading “DIY High: On the plight of the Working Poor in Small Town America”

Book Reviews

Book Review: When the English Fall by David Williams

I just finished When the English Fall by David Williams, and wow! This is a great read for anyone who is into apocalypse scenarios.

Continue reading “Book Review: When the English Fall by David Williams”

Reading

What are your reading goals for 2019?

Let’s talk about books!

I set a goal to read 75 and ended up reading 75 books in 2018. 0 were rereads. 0 were audiobooks. Several were abandoned (but I didn’t include those in my count.)

Continue reading “What are your reading goals for 2019?”

Uncategorized, Writing Basics

The importance of style in college writing

Once upon a time, a young high school graduate signed up for two courses at her local community college extension center. She was eager to be the first person in her family to go to college, while also not wanting to commit too fully to something she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to do. She also wasn’t quite sure it was something she was even capable of finishing.

Typewriter image made using Sandbox app in Android.
Typewriter image made using Sandbox app in Android.

So, the young woman took a computer class, which she enjoyed, where she learned all about a new phenomenon called the internet, and chat rooms, and all manner of exciting new things. And she also took an English class, which she thought she would enjoy because she loved to write, but instead she ended up in an unwinnable argument with an ignorant instructor and soon dropped out of college altogether. Continue reading “The importance of style in college writing”

Giveaways, Uncategorized

Kindle eBook Giveaway: Valley of the Bees #1

Hey, all! I’m running a Kindle book giveaway over on Amazon right now, and I’m hoping you’ll check it out! I’m giving away 10 free copies of With Envy Stung: Valley of the Bees #1. There’s lots to go around, so be sure to share this opportunity with all of your reading friends!

amazon book giveaway
Enter to Win!

enter to win

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review | Canine: A #werewolf story with a twist

I recently did a book swap with author Kaitlin Bergfield at the Bloomington Public Library’s local author fair, where we were both featured authors.

Canine by Kaitlin Bergfield

The book summary for Bergfield’s novel, Canine, piqued my interest right away. The premise was really unique, and that’s hard to find! Werewolves are everywhere in fiction these days, but this story comes with a twist (a few of them, actually!) In most of these stories, the average werewolf character is a human who happens to turn into a dog sometimes, usually around the full moon. But the protagonist of this story chooses to live life as a dog. And not just any dog, but as a pet dog! Continue reading “Book Review | Canine: A #werewolf story with a twist”

Domestic Violence, Essays, Memoir

Single, Never Married

I’m a dedicated Swagbucks addict, which means I participate in online surveys on practically a daily basis. As most surveys do, these usually collect your typical demographic data, such as sex, race, gross annual income, and marital status. These should be relatively easy questions to answer, but I’ve often hesitated when I came upon the marital status question. I know what the technical answer is, but I have strong feelings regarding what I feel is my “real” answer.

The marital status question typically gives the survey respondent the options of married, divorced, something regarding living with someone you’re not married to, and single/never married. Technically, I was legally married at one time, and I was then legally divorced after about ten years of said legal marriage. However, when I look back upon that marriage, I don’t feel as though I was ever actually “married.” Continue reading “Single, Never Married”

Book Reviews

Book Review: Pimp in the Pulpit and Pimp in the Pulpit II

Pimp in the Pulpit and Pimp in the Pulpit II by Thomas Leslie McRae are two episodic novellas that would make for some great television—not network television due to the strong language, but Netflix or Hulu could turn these stories into a first-rate original series.

Pimp in the Pulpit covers

My favorite thing about these two novellas is the conversational tone that feels like you’re sitting at a cookout next to your gossipy old aunt who always keeps you caught up on family dramas. But this old aunt isn’t just gossipy, she’s hilarious, and she doesn’t mind repeating every foul word that flew during each new altercation! The insults were one of the most creative parts of these stories, and they had me laughing and shaking my head from page one. Continue reading “Book Review: Pimp in the Pulpit and Pimp in the Pulpit II”

Novel Writing

I have two new #novels in the works!

I am so excited about my writing right now! I just finished a rough draft of the second of two novel manuscripts that I plan to finish by the middle of this year!

It usually takes me some time to switch from writing mode to revising mode, but it really helps that I set one of the manuscripts aside and moved on to the next one before editing this time. Revisions are already going well, and I hope to have this manuscript ready to share with my creative writing workshop in just a few weeks!

How about I tell you what I’ve been working on so you can share in my excitement?

Project #1: Demons of the Night

I started this book quite some time ago when I had one of those dreams that was too good to not write it into a scene. This novel is very different from my last two. It’s an adult book that includes witches, demons, and philandering preachers. It’s a battle of good and evil, where it’s not always obvious which side is which.

Image Credit: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/halloween-demon_955179.htm Designed by Freepik

At the center of this battle is Docia, a sheltered young woman whose father and step-mother are determined to keep her sequestered within the “safe” world of her grandfather’s church compound and seem unlikely to ever allow her to move forward into a life of her own choosing. Continue reading “I have two new #novels in the works!”