Working from the Road

A plastic tray extends back from a train seat. On it, there's a small gray teddy bear, a pencil case that says Bear Cafe on it, and a purple Leuchtermm Journal.

Since we started traveling I’ve tried writing on airplanes, on trains, and in hotel rooms. Tried being the operative word. 😂

Apparently a quiet desk and a comfortable chair are mighty powerful things! Now that I’m settled in one place for a bit, I’ll see what I can rustle up.

Lost in Space

Barcelona is dead quiet in the early morning darkness. Back home, the pre-dawn hours are noisy. Delivery trucks clang and clatter.Buses slide by, their hydraulics hissing at every stop. Spain has a different rhythm. Cafe owners roll up their metal security doors sometime between nine and eleven in the morning. It seems every restaurant serves the same morning menu: strong cafe con leche, perhaps paired with a croissant and a glass of jugo de naranja. Spanish days start with a yawn and a stretch, just like I do! The day shifts forward, and rush hour doesn’t arrive until ten in the evening.

I’m awake at five am because my body is still adjusting. We arrived at our hotel room, drunk with sleep deprivation, after a too-long travel day. My mantra for this trip is “take it easy.” That meant checking my carry-on bag rather than fighting for overhead bin space. And while I’m not the kind of traveler who flies halfway around the world to eat at McDonalds every day, using a multilingual kiosk to order a quarter pounder and fries can be a form of self-care.

Seriously! We were so tired. 😜

It’s exciting to move about the planet again after such a long, pandemic-induced grounding. I’d forgotten how exhilarating it feels to arrive in another country feeling like I’ve been ripped out of time and space.

Day one, eat dinner and collapse.

Day two, take a walking tour and check out the nearest metro station.

Day three, visit a major tourist site (just one!) and get lost for a while.

Before long, I’ll be practicing my halting Spanish and navigating the metro stations like a pro, but for today, I’ll make my peace with being a silly tourist, sleep-deprived and giddy and feeling like I’ve been dropped onto another planet. Perhaps I feel that way because of our fabulous hotel. It has a NASA theme, and all around us, portal-like windows reveal distant galaxies or close-ups of the moon.

A statue of a spaceman in a white NASA suit stands near a fake window showing the moon. The window is convex to make the moon look realistic.

There’s a spaceman, video games, and an R2D2 in the lobby.

A large hotel lobby with a ring-shaped announcement marquis, many white circular lights, and a futuristic black and white look with smooth white surfaces. It's reminiscent of a space station.

Welcome to the space station, and the “orbital bar” beyond.

A close up of text from a hotel welcome card. It invites you to relax on the ship after enjoying the moons of Ganymede.

A welcome card inside our room.

A bank of hotel elevators. The lighting is quite dim, and a round portal window shows a view of a distant galaxy. The two guest chairs are white spheres with inset cushions.

A relaxing spot to wait for the elevator.

A transparent hatch inside the hotel room shows a view of a sand-covered planet, along with readings of the oxygen level outside.

In our room, a view of the planet outside.

Travel is wonderful, and travel is inspiring, but it’s also disorienting. As I ride the moon-themed elevator upstairs, and as I smile at the spaceman in the lobby, it occurs to me that there couldn’t have been a better place to start this trip. International travel always begins with a sensation of being cut adrift. Why not embrace the sensation of being lost in space?

It’s early, and it’s eerily silent right now, but my brain is wide awake. P is conked out still, so I’ll try to type extra quietly. Before we dock at the gate of a brand-new day, I’ll squeeze in a little writing time.

Into the book I go!

A Book Deal for Adventurous Readers

I’ve joined forces with the Cozy Mystery Tribe to offer a nice batch of free mysteries for the month of April. If you’d like to try a new-to-you author at no cost, you can find the books at this link.

Introducing the Butterfly Island Mysteries

In case you missed the details in today’s newsletter

I’m happy to officially announce the start of a brand new cozy mystery series: The Butterfly Island Mysteries . 🌴

This spinoff of the Ellie Tappet Mysteries is about an interconnected set of mysteries that take place on fictional Butterfly Island, a quirky island community in the Caribbean Sea with a rich history and many well-kept secrets.

The first novel, A View to Die For , is about Paul Gumbs, the newest member of the Butterfly Island police department, and his investigation of a murder at a luxury hotel, while the second novel, Death at Dagger Cove will introduce Kenzi Hicks, a tourist from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania who’s vacationing on the island with her friends.

Much like the Ellie Tappet Mysteries , the Butterfly Island Mysteries are lighthearted cozies with a focus on friendship, family, and the dogged pursuit of justice. But unlike my prior books, this series will include a mix of main characters and styles. Some books will be cozy police procedurals, while others will be amateur sleuth novels. Perhaps there will be a traditional mystery or two?

If you read the series, and you enjoy it, shoot me a note to let me know which character you’d like to see in the driver’s seat next. I plan to have a lot of fun with these stories! And I hope you love them as much as I do.

Click Here to Pre-Order A View to Die For

EPUBs, Preorders, and other Writerly Things

Header graphic: a row of old-fashioned round typewriter keys Hey, blog readers!

Whenever I haven’t blogged in a while, it feels strange to start back up. My blog feels like a radio that’s been tuned to static, and I’m awkwardly tapping the microphone.

Is this thing still on?

So… What’s new? I’ve been writing a lot, reading a bunch, and feeling emotional whiplash at how quickly the world can change. In just the last few years we’ve had a pandemic, and variants, and all the political and interpersonal drama that surrounded it. Now, a war in Europe? I won’t dwell on current events here, as that’s not what this blog is about, but if your heart feels pummeled, and if you’re concerned about the state of things, you’re not alone. And if you’re looking for a tangible way to help those affected, the United Nations Refugee Agency is seeking donations to provide for those fleeing war-torn areas.

And take good care of yourself too, okay? If you can help, help, but doomscrolling won’t make the world any better.

Let’s do some writing updates!

What I’m Working On

Attentive readers may have noticed it’s been a while since I’ve published a new book. But I’ve been a busy bee, regardless.

It’s all good stuff!

Experiments in Publishing

I’m also trying out a few new things in publishing.


From time to time I get an email from a reader who says something like “I’d love to read your cozy mysteries but they’re exclusive to Amazon and they only come in the MOBI format. Can I get an EPUB version?”

I get it! I prefer EPUBS myself because I can read them on all my devices.

Starting with A View to Die For , you can buy a DRM-free EPUB from me prior to the book going on sale to the public. It’s called a presale. If you’re an EPUB person, keep an eye out for the presale link in my next newsletter .

You can read more about presales here .


At the end of A View to Die For you’ll find the first two chapters of the next book in the series, Death at Dagger Cove plus a link for the pre-order.

I’ve held off on doing pre-orders until now because the deadlines stress me out. In fact, I gave myself a nice long preorder delay, so chances are I’ll move the release date closer when the book is finished.

Presales and preorders! I hope these experiments go well, and if they do, I’ll continue to offer them.

What I’m Learning

Letting go of the Taskmaster

For decades, I’ve had a tiny taskmaster in my brain. She’s always smacking me with the productivity whip, telling me I need to go faster and work harder.

Well, I’m learning that my taskmaster doesn’t help me go any faster! To the contrary, I’m the most productive as a writer when I’m relaxed, focused, and having fun.

Happily, I’ve got a plan. (The taskmaster loves plans!) Later this spring, I’ll take her to the beach, get her nice and drunk, and leave her there. Maybe she’ll find one of those Instagram #Bossbabes to order around, and they’ll be very happy together. 😋

Living Without Social Media

I’ve been off social media for nine months, and it’s been fantastic for my creativity, my positivity, and my mental health.

Speaking only for myself, I’m enjoying the post-social media life. I no longer feel pressured to:

  • Read about every tragedy
  • Share my private life with the world
  • Pick sides in the battle of the day
  • Read the latest “thought piece” everyone is talking about
  • Listen to “edgy” opinions

And so on.

I’m not here to argue anyone else should do what I did. We’re all different, right? But if you’re a social media skeptic, like I was, and if you’re already wistfully thinking of throwing your cell phone in the sea, I can report that (for a sample size of one) It’s been a great move.

Closing Thoughts

Here’s a quote from Rick and Morty that brings a smile to my face:

To live is to risk it all. Otherwise you’re just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you.

Well, I’m not sure if I’m ready to “risk it all” as cartoon grandpa Rick Sanchez advises, but I am eager for more real-life adventures in 2022. If all goes according to plan 🤞🏼 I may do some travel blogging over the spring and summer. Hmm… But since when does life go according to plan?

I suppose not knowing is half the adventure? Thus I resolve to take each day as it comes. 😎

Be well, friends and readers!

Until next time,


Works in Progress: Hostile Takeover

Header graphic: a row of old-fashioned round typewriter keys

Hey! I’m experimenting with sharing snippets of my upcoming work here on the blog. This preview is from the start of Hostile Takeover, book three in the Emerald City Spies series. My editor hasn’t had a crack at these chapters yet, so there may be changes in the final, published version.

The City (Prologue)

When darkness falls, I rise.

Illumination comes from within. Run the tip of your finger along my sharp-edged skyscrapers, wreathed in chilly fog. For you, I wear blue and gold wrapped in a black velvet sky. Smell my perfume, the musky damp of petrichor on asphalt. Hear my voice, the wail of a siren, the cry of a gull, the slow lapping of water against the rocky shore. Delight in my laughter, the patter of raindrops on steel and glass. Run your hand along the smooth curve of the distant mountain.

Jessica… Jessica! Feel my heat as I feel yours. Your ambition has burned hot and bright since the day you set foot on my streets. Ever since, I’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting…

Here. Now. Tonight.

Our kings and queens slumber, their dreams untroubled, their spirits weak. What use is all that ambition without dry tinder to burn? Take it from the city that hungers, nothing is so flammable as the past.

Jessica… Jessica! Your reign will be long and victorious. Strangers will pen books about your achievements. The wise and the powerful will take your calls and heed your warnings. Your power will beam out from magazines, from newspapers, from tiny screens held by those who will beg to serve at your feet. Money will flow through your hands like a cool, smooth-flowing river. With me in your corner, child, you cannot possibly fail.

You know what I want.

I have what you need.

Let’s sign on the dotted line, shall we?

Chapter One

Jessica Warne hurried through the intersection on foot, her heartbeat pounding like a fist on a locked metal door. Heavy raindrops pelted her thick, honey-blonde hair. They melted through, slithering cool down her scalp. On the next block, a homeless woman huddled beneath a dirty comforter, a torn umbrella forming a rough shield between her head and the busy sidewalk. Seattle was in a shitty mood. Rush hour rushing. Pedestrians jockeying for position at the crosswalks. Drivers peering through their rain-streaked windshields with bitter fury on their sun-starved faces, inching toward the congested freeway. Another day. Another dollar. Seattle wore layers against the autumn chill. Wet concrete. Filthy asphalt littered with cigarette butts and pigeon shit. Clouds overhead like dirty cotton, hanging low, obscuring the stars.

Her feet, resentful after a long day of imprisonment inside Balenciaga heels, throbbed hotly inside her running shoes. Dull pain tugged at her shoulder where the strap of her black duffel dug into her soft flesh. She pulled the collar of her trench coat higher, covering bare skin with soft, camel-colored fabric. Her neck was smooth and unblemished, the bruises long gone, every remaining injury rendered invisible by the inexorable movement of time. Her time was running out. Every day, she felt the consequences of her actions nipping at her heels. Every night, she trained herself, inward, outward, preparing with all her heart for the final bout in the only showdown that mattered.

She forced her hands down into her pockets. In the left pocket, she felt for the sharp edges of her keys. In the right, she fingered a compact container of pepper spray. She wove two of the keys through her fingers like spikes. Her right thumb felt the hard edge of the pepper spray’s safety cap. The eyes. The instep. The soft bulge at the center of the throat. What strength she lacked, speed and surprise might make up for.

Having been caught flat-footed once before, she knew what it felt like to be helpless, to gasp for a breath that would never come. Yes, her time was running out. Win or lose, she’d know the trajectory of her life in a matter of months, if not weeks. Until then, she stood on the precipice, always ready. Up ahead, near an intersection, commuters waited at a bus stop. A floodlight was stuck to the outside of a medical-dental building like an old wad of gum. Rain slashed down through yellowish light, illuminating the crowd. The water formed dots and dashes, a coded message that no mortal was fast enough to read. She twisted her shoulders to slip through the crowd. Her shoulder jerked as her gym bag clipped someone’s shoulder.

“Excuse me,” she murmured.

The stranger didn’t seem to notice. Not the apology, or even the way she’d shoved him. He wore a heavy, black wool overcoat. She hated his stupid, squirrel-like face.

Across the intersection, a tall electric billboard flashed brightly on the corner of a concrete parking garage. She pounded the walk button with the side of her fist and glanced back at the bus stop. Her stomach sizzled with acid as she caught sight of the guy she’d clipped. Only an idiot stood on a city street, insensible to the world. Maybe you’d be lucky enough to make it home in one piece. Hell, maybe you’d be lucky a thousand times. No one was lucky forever.

He clutches his side and stumbles. When his body hits the dirty sidewalk, he gasps. He didn’t even realize he was falling, but the pain in his shoulder is overshadowed by the bright agony beneath his ribs. Shallow, painful breaths do little to satisfy his hunger for air. His hand goes up. His fingers tremble in the cold air. Fresh blood coats his hand and the cuff of his jacket. His phone is on the ground, shattered. A bystander screams. “Someone! Call 9-1-1!”

Jessica squeezed her eyes shut.

She turns the corner onto sixth avenue, her heart pounding. After dropping her shiv into an empty Starbucks cup, she tosses the whole thing into a street side trash can. There’s a commotion at the bus stop behind her. She pauses, glancing over her shoulder, wearing a mask of surprise before blending into the crowd of evening shoppers ahead. It was so easy! Dana would be pleased.

She gripped the plastic buckle on her shoulder strap and squeezed until the edge bit into her palm. The pain was bright and clarifying. Slowly, the world came back into focus. Traffic lights swayed in the wind. A car with muddy wheels waited impatiently at the corner, then crept around the edge. The driver slammed the gas and a cyclist, mere feet away, flipped him the finger and swore.

I’m all right.

The walk signal chirped like a manic bird and she broke into a slow jog, crossing the street, then another block, one more street, and before long she was pounding up a hill, feet heavy like bricks, lungs burning. Her chest expanded like billows and she sucked in the cool, rain-tinged air. When she reached her destination she tipped forward, hands on knees, breathing hard.

The warehouse had been a community center, once. Later, an office supply business. The sides and back of the concrete structure were littered with blue and silver graffiti, but the front was pure white and unblemished. She’d figured the taggers were afraid of getting their asses kicked by the proprietor, but now she knew differently. Rachel offered the local delinquents free lessons in exchange for keeping her business pristine. The building was still an aging shitbox in a broken-down part of town, but the forest green door was unblemished, decorated with a simple white circle surrounding four block letters printed in black: BBJJ.

Belltown Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Thunder rumbled overhead like an eighteen wheeler and the rain fell harder than before. Jessica pushed herself upright, shook out her wet hair, and went inside.

Jessica flexed her bare toes against the rubbery black mat and listened to Sensei Gunderson teach. The dojo always smelled like old sweat, cheap plastic flooring, and diluted chlorine bleach. The air was chilly, but soon they’d all warm up.

At five foot six, Gunderson wasn’t outwardly imposing. The fortyish brunette had soft shoulders and thick thighs, like a stay-at-home mom. During the day, she taught algebra to middle school kids in the Central District. She looked better suited to pushing a stroller than to teaching a martial art. But after seeing Sensei toss a volunteer across the mats like he weighed no more than an oversized pillow, Jessica had few doubts about her skills. An underpowered woman who knew how to apply leverage to fuck-up a much larger adversary? That’s exactly what she needed.

Gunderson’s ponytail whipped around as she demonstrated how to break free from her partner’s choke hold. Her eyes crinkled with pleasure as she made her escape. She favored her student with a nod of approval. “That was great, Wayne!” She turned her attention to the dozen students who watched and waited. “Now, let’s give this a try, everyone. partner up, and let’s roll.”

Jessica turned to the guy standing closest to her. He was about her age, mid-twenties, with eyes the color of fresh mud. His expensive haircut, skinny arms, and smug, self-satisfied smile marked him as a typical tech bro. His handshake was mushy, like oatmeal. As a courtesy, she pretended not to notice.

“Do you want to guard or attack?” he asked.

“Guard,” she said.

They went down to the mat. He scooted close and wrapped his legs around her from behind, his chest resting against her back. One of his arms went over her left shoulder, and the other snaked beneath her right arm, brushing past her breast.

He grabbed the lapels of her uniform, pulling them together across her neck, trying to choke her with the fabric. His legs squeezed her middle, hard. He was bruising her ribs, but the choke was ineffectual.

“Move your hands higher,” she said. He responded by tightening his legs around her ribs. She breathed out and found she couldn’t take a full breath in. “You’re just yanking on my uniform,” she said. “Move your hands higher.”

He grunted in acknowledgement. Nearby, a silver-haired guy with a square jaw tapped his partner on the leg three times as she cut off his air. His sparring partner, a fiftyish woman with a torso like a heavy sack of flower, grinned and let him go.

Meanwhile, her partner’s boa-constrictor legs were trying to crack her ribs like a walnut. His breaths were heavy and hot at her neck. She felt a thread pop in the armpit of her gi. He still wasn’t doing the move correctly. “Get off,” she said.

“You have to tap,” he said. “That’s how you submit.”

She grit her teeth. Her current client was a thin-skinned little bully, and she’d stroked his ego all day long. Didn’t she deal with this crap all day long? At work, she pretended to be demure, sweet, and pliable because that was the job. But this guy wasn’t a client. He was nothing but an impediment. Jessica swallowed her frustration like it was vomit. She formed her voice into a facsimile of respect. “I’ll submit to the choke when you do the choke. You’re just squeezing the hell out of my tits, dude.”

“Oh! Sorry.” The pressure around her middle lessened. She scooted forward and turned around. The guy’s cheeks were bright pink. Had she embarrassed him by saying the word tits?

He was wasting her time.

“May I?” she asked, gesturing behind him.

He quickly nodded. Scooting close to him, she wrapped her legs around his waist and slid her arms into position. She crawled her hands up the edge of his jacket, tighter, tighter, and tighter. He struggled a bit. “That’s go—” She pulled tight! He jerked his body to the left. He leaned hard to the right. His hips tried to twist inside the careful vise she’d created with her legs, but he couldn’t break free. She had him pinned. She had his air! She gave his torso a little squeeze, just once, a tiny reminder of who was in charge. He struggled, but she didn’t give an inch. This stranger outweighed her by thirty pounds, easy.

And she’d rendered him helpless.

Good. But I need to learn how to escape this. Maybe we can switch partners in the next round. Then—

“Jessica!” Sensei had been watching from the front of the room. Now she ran toward them, her eyes wide, her hands outstretched.

Jessica quickly released her arms and legs. “What?”

Her partner broke away, gasping, rubbing his neck, swallowing hard. “I was submitting! Why didn’t you stop?”

Gunderson tried to control her frustration with a quick turn of her head. But there was no doubt; she was pissed.

Jessica took care to look abashed. “I didn’t feel you tapping.”

He slapped the rubber mat with his hand repeatedly. His eyes were like stones. “Do you hear it now? Christ! You just about choked me out. Everything was turning gray.” He glared at the Sensei as if it were all her fault. “I need some water.” He stalked back toward the locker rooms.

Sensei avoided looking at Jessica directly. Instead, she spoke to the whole room. “Listen up, everyone. This is a good reminder. When you submit, tap on your partner’s body if you can. They might not hear if you tap the mats. Also, if you’re attacking, it’s your responsibility to pay attention. Safety first. Please.”

At the end of class, she waved Jessica over. “Stick around for a minute, will you?” After the room emptied out, she locked the front door, resting her back against it. “We need to talk.”

Jessica winced. “I’m sorry about what happened. My mind wandered for a minute, but I won’t make that mistake again.”

Gunderson’s mouth quirked up on one side. “That’s good, Jess, but that’s not what I need to talk to you about. We need to address that attitude of yours.”

“Excuse me? What attitude?”

Rachel tilted her chin down. “That attitude. The one that says you’re too good for my intro class. You show up, and you walk around this dojo like you’re the cock of the walk. I won’t have it. I can’t. Everyone in this class here to learn. That means, when someone struggles, we all slow down to help. This is a school, not a fight club. If you want that kind of thing, there are other places you can go.”

Jessica bit her lip. She’d visited those schools. Several of them. They’d had rows of heavy trophies on the walls and they talked a good game. None had an instructor half so good as Rachel Gunderson.

“I didn’t realize I came across that way.”

Rachel loosened her ponytail and shook out her hair. “I know. That’s why we’re having this little chat.” She picked up her right foot, stretching her quadriceps muscle. Switching sides, she winced as she leaned into the stretch. “Listen up. There are two kinds of bullies in the martial arts. The first type is obvious. They’re the ones who saw an MMA fight on television once, and they think it would be fun to beat people up. They’re bristling for a fight because they enjoy violence. Those people like feeling powerful. And as soon as they see we’re all about self-defense, they’re out that door.”

“And the other kind?”

Gunderson rolled back her shoulders, wincing a little. “The other kind has the potential to change. They don’t want to be bullies, not really, but they’re afraid of something. So afraid that they lash out with their fists and their mouths until they can finally prove to themselves that they’re safe.” She shrugged. “Of course, that strategy never works. You can’t stop being a victim by turning into an aggressor. And in the end, the impact on the people around you is exactly the same. You become the very thing you were trying to protect yourself from.” She raised both eyebrows. “Do you get what I’m saying?”

“You think I’m afraid of something?”

Gunderson chuckled. “Everyone is afraid of something, Jess. That’s the human condition. But we only lose when we allow it to control us."

Gunderson meant well, but she was out of line. She’d seen too many martial arts movies, the kind where the wise old teacher guides the young hothead away from trouble.

But her attitude wasn’t about ego, or fear. It was about survival. Explaining this was pointless, so Jessica dropped her gaze. “I hear you. And I’ll think about what you’ve said.”

“Good! If you need to talk, let me know. And if you don’t want to talk to me, I can make referrals. Counselors. Therapists. Life coaches. You can pick your poison. But let me be clear. If you ever, ever, take out your issues on one of my students again, you will not be in this class. Understood?”

“I do.”

Gunderson jerked her head toward the door. “Good. In that case, I’ll see you next week.”

How the Kindle Won Me Over

I bought my first Kindle earlier this year, up until that point I was pretty sure that I didn’t want one. And I still prefer paper books to digital ones, all things being equal. Yet despite my stated preferences, I buy more ebooks than I do paper books. Here are the reasons why:

  • I travel a lot (when we’re not in a pandemic), and paper books are bulky.
  • Ebooks are often more affordable than physical books.
  • Library holds usually arrive faster when I order the digital version.
  • I live in a small space, and once my bookcase is full, it’s full.

But even as my ebook reading surged in recent years, I resisted the idea of buying a dedicated e-reader device. Why shell out money for one when I could read an ebook on my computer or my phone? Also, I was reluctant to lock myself into the Amazon Kindle ecosystem. Amazon sells ebooks as MOBI files, a proprietary format that can’t be read on non-Amazon devices. My preferred book format of choice is EPUB. When I buy an EPUB without DRM (digital rights management) locks on it, I can read my ebook on any device, forever. So I worried: Would buying a Kindle mean I had to always shop at Amazon?

Oh, and I had one other quibble. When I looked at e-readers, years ago, I noticed the screen flashed on nearly every page turn. It felt like being slapped in the eyeballs, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Still, I’d grown tired of reading ebooks on devices poorly sized for book reading. My phone was too small and my computer was too big and heavy. So I bought a Kindle Paperwhite, resolving to return it promptly if I hated it. Even as I brought it home and plugged it in, I was still skeptical that it would work well for me.

A Series of Pleasant Surprises

Happily, my concerns were quickly negated. The Kindle Paperwhite let me turn off “page refresh.” Instead of flashing the screen with every page turn, it will refresh only as necessary. And I hardly notice when it happens. I suspect the technology has gotten better over the years.

Even better, I have not been locked into the Amazon ecosystem. It’s been super easy to transfer my non-Amazon EPUBs to my Kindle. I use the free Calibre library software on my computer, and after I chose the Kindle as my e-reader, it painlessly synced my existing ebook library with my device.

I can continue to buy DRM-free EPUBs and store them on my computer. They transfer onto my Kindle in a blink. Easy peasy! Granted, I often buy books on Amazon too, for the convenience and good prices, but EPUBs are still my preference.

Most importantly, I love reading on my Kindle. The reading experience is way better than reading on my phone. The Kindle is small and light, but it’s big enough to get plenty of words on the page. The illumination is even, adjustable, and not too bright. If it’s late and my eyes are feeling tired after a long day of computer work, I can bump up the font in two taps.

And unlike the Kindle app on iOS, which refused to let me buy books directly (because Apple takes a cut), I can buy books directly from the Kindle Paperwhite if I want to. There are no distractions, notifications, or pop-ups. My phone is put away when I’m reading! It creates a better, distraction-free reading experience, very similar to reading on paper. I don’t even mind the ads on the Kindle. The “cover screen” images are no more annoying than seeing a print ad on the back of a magazine while it rests on your coffee table. And it’s not like I’m staring at the Kindle when I’m not using it.

A Tip for Mystery Readers

By the way, if you read mysteries, I suggest that you turn off the “show popular highlights” feature because there’s nothing more annoying than seeing underlined clues when you’re enjoying a mystery for the first time!

Digital vs Physical: Does it Matter?

Paper books have special qualities that ebooks can’t replicate. The last time I went to Emerald City Comicon one of my favorite fantasy authors was there, and she signed my books for me, turning them into precious keepsakes. I keep a small clothbound edition of Jane Eyre on my nightstand, my literary version of a security blanket, always at hand to provide some comfort. Pixels can’t quite do that for me.

Still, ebooks are inexpensive, convenient, and durable. And books are happiness devices, no matter what form they come in. And since I’m going to partake in pixelated flights of fancy, for all the reasons I listed above, I may as well do so in comfort, no?

All of this is to say, if you’re e-reader skeptical, I get it! Personally, the convenience and comfort of a Kindle eventually won me over. And if you like ebooks, and if you buy them from multiple stores, it’s worth checking out the Calibre ebook software . It takes a bit of effort to configure, but once you’ve got it set up, it’s handy for keeping your digital bookshelves tidy and accessible.

I have to admit, there’s something magical about buying a new mystery novel and seeing it pop up on your kindle just a few moments later. Instant gratification!

I see a fair number of argumentative posts about what is better, physical books or ebooks. And I suppose we humans love to argue, don’t we? In the end, whatever format works for you is what’s best for you. At least that’s how I see it.

And speaking of instant gratification, I just picked up a new mystery by an author I haven’t read yet… So I’ve got a date with a book!

Until next time,

  • C