Thursday, August 27, 2020

Another Rip Van Stoltey Moment

I remember toward the end of July I decided to create a Blood-Red Pencil blog post early for August as well as finally posting to my own blog which has sat neglected since February 3rd.

And then suddenly it was August 15th. No Blood-Red Pencil post. No post to my personal blog.

What happened?

I know I did stuff over the last month. I see the notations on my calendar. A cortisone shot in my arthritic shoulder (which did not help). My annual checkup which I passed with flying colors (for my age). A Saturday morning Crowdcast online event called Mystery in the Midlands. A grooming appointment for Sassy. Curbside pickups for groceries. A couple more online writing programs. A solid effort to apply the edits to my current almost-finished frontier fiction manuscript called In Defense of Delia. Critiques for two writers’ group meetings.

And yet, without that calendar to look at, I might have had a hard time remembering what I did in the last four weeks to fill up all that time.


Except for reading and watching television. I remember I did a lot of both, especially since almost all the books I had on Hold were ready at the same time.

Plus my daily walk with Sassy. But the walk is out of the question for the moment. We have smoke from the Cameron Peak fire up here on the Northern Front Range, so like much of the rest of Colorado and Southern California, it’s best to stay inside.

So, I finally stepped out of the time warp and wrote this blog post, which is about as exciting as eating dry toast.

The only thing I have to offer is this little list of good reading…because I definitely have been doing a lot of it.

Margaret Mizushima’s new Timber Creek K-9 mystery releases September 8th. I read an advance copy on Net Galley and reviewed it as 5 stars: I'm a big fan of Mattie Cobb and her K-9 dog Robo, and Hanging Falls, book number six in the series did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, I liked this book best of all because we got a deeper glimpse into Mattie's background and met new family members  Mattie had thought she'd never see again. This was a heartwarming development for a character whose backstory has been pretty rough, leading to Mattie's problem forming new relationships with the folks in her life that she wants to love. The mystery plot is excellent, as always, and the writing topnotch. This whole series is highly recommended.

Sins in Blue, by Brian Kaufman, was released May 21st. I read an early version of the novel-in-progress, read and reviewed the advance copy on Net Galley, and then purchased a hardcover edition for my own library. Five Stars for this novel about a young man who wants to make his name as a music manager by representing a blues guitarist he thinks is better than anyone in the world. Trouble is, the musician is old and white and has failed to make it in a world dominated by African-Americans. It's a nice twist on the cultural appropriation theme set long before anyone coined the term. This very well-written novel will touch your heart as it follows young Kennedy Barnes on his mission to revive the music of Willie Johnson, a down-on-his-luck motel worker with a rough past.

Kenneth Harmon’s In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow released August 1st. Five Stars. This is a beautifully written tale of WWII and the trauma surrounding the bombing of Hiroshima, but it is so much more than a war story. An American pilot, Micah, dies when his plane crashes near Hiroshima before the main assault. His spirit attaches to the first local resident he encounters, the widow Kiyomi, and connects even more with her young daughter Ai. The lyrical prose, the well-researched cultural information, and the mystical descriptions of Japanese afterlife grabbed my interest and did not let go until the last page. I will go back and read this novel again. Highly recommended.

And for a thrilling series worthy of binge reading, try Rachel Caines’ Stillhouse Lake, Killman Creek, and Wolfhunter River. I now have Book 4 in the series, Bitter Falls, and am anticipating another exciting page-turner. When main character Gina Royal discovers her husband is a serial killer, her life and her children’s lives are changed forever. In a world where there are few secrets from those on the web, trying to run away from the social media mob seems impossible. This is a gripping series. 

This is just a sampling of the great books I’ve read this summer. I’d love to hear your recommendations. I suspect I’ll continue to slip in and out of my time warp with a pile of books for many more months.

Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017), a finalist for the 2018 Colorado Book Awards. This novel is also now available in a large print edition, ebook, and trade paperback. Her short story, “Good Work for a Girl,” appears in the Five Star Anthology, The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories: Pioneering Women of the West released in November 2019.

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy (aka Doggity), and brown tabby Katie (aka Kitty Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was  interviewed for the Colorado Sun’s SunLit feature that you can find at the Colorado Sun website.


  1. You have described my life of late. Lol.

    1. We're not alone, Liz! I've received similar responses on my Facebook post. Instead of Future Shock, perhaps we should identify this response as COVID Shock.

  2. It's quite amazing how fast our lives changed. You know the saying about old dogs and new tricks. I beg to differ. Old dogs can learn new tricks -- it just takes a whole lot longer. Great book reviews. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  3. Thank you for providing some excellent new titles for my TBR pile.

    I completely related to the Rip Van Stoltey analogy, (and also enjoyed a bit of a giggle) as I have been having some "What world am I living in?" moments myself this summer. Great post!

  4. I understand completely. I can't believe it's Monday again. It was Monday just a few days ago. I'm reading Daniel Silva's The Heist and learning more about Caravaggio than I ever knew, and I was an art major. The books in Silva's series are all good.

  5. Thanks for the reading recommendations. We have similar tastes in reading material, so of course I had to add a couple of books to my wish list. I particularly want to read Sins in Blue.

    I love the Rip Van Stolty title. Always makes me smile. A lot of us are relating.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook