Hello from sunny Florida! I've opted out of a Northeast winter and set myself up in Daytona Beach, Fla., where the locals freak out about temperatures in the 50s. I kid – sort of. I went to college in Tampa, so I get it, but it was still fun to get here on a day where it was zero degrees at home and see the local TV news talk about their version of "cold."
I've been working feverously on a batch of stories all due at the end of the month (because of course they are), but I did want to send a quick update, not just because I think you missed me (haha) but also because it's my freelancerversary! Thirteen years ago, I quit my editor job and decided to go it alone until I failed and guess what? I'm still here.
I wrote all about that for Poynter. I also shared my first freelancer headshot vs. my current headshot on Instagram. I don't think the gal on the left ever imagined what could happen when she decided to go it alone. I hope she's proud.
What I'm Reading
I've read and watched a lot since my last newsletter, so quick review time.
- A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh. This was 100% me falling prey to Amazon's suggested buys, and I'm glad I did. It was a good, fast read. It has a neat backstory too: the hero and heroine were minor characters in another book, and Balogh said resisted writing about them, in part because the heroine is a prostitute. She finally wrote it in 1993, and this was a 2009 reprint. It didn't feel out of date at all. At the time I bought this, I was pitching around a story about romance novels so I wanted to read more of it (and I sold the story yesterday – expect it to come out around Valentine's Day).
- Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I found it in a Little Free Library, and it's for me an example as to why adults should read YA literature. I haven't seen the movie and don't know if I will, but I'm glad I found a copy (and then returned it to the same Little Free Library for someone else)
- In the Last Analysis by Amanda Cross. This was another Little Free Library find, and less successful. It didn't click – that could have been the story, or that it was first printed in 1964. Unlike A Precious Jewel, it did feel outdated.
- The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan. This is the third in a the series, and I'd just read the second. I had to read the next one in the series, right?
- Many Love: A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love by Sophie Lucido Johnson. This book isn't coming out until June, but we share the same agent, who sent me a copy. I liked it – learned a lot about polyamory that I didn't know before (not I'm not polyamorous but I know people who are, so it was helpful to read).
- The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. I listened to the audiobook on my drive down, and this may be a case where I should have read the book instead. I'd read her Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which was a quiet book. This one is too and maybe better read lying on the couch than hearing it while driving on I-95.
- Echo Park by Michael Connelly. Another in what I call the "murder book" series – as tense and tightly written as ever.
- Clementine by Sonia Prunell. It's a biography of Winston Churchill's wife, and very good so far. A friend gave me her copy when she was done, and I'm glad she did. It's not something I'd have picked up otherwise.
- The Post. I didn't make a New Year's resolution, but I did pledge to try to see one movie in a theater a month, and this is January's pick. I liked it, and people clapped at the end, which I didn't expect. I also went to a movie theater near the Daytona Speedway, which meant that sometimes racecars were the background noise to a Meryl Street speech. But hey – why not when you're in Daytona? (I haven't decided what to do during the 500 yet. Maybe shelter in place).
- Spotlight. In honor of The Post, Pete Croatto asked a bunch of journalist about their favorite journalist movies, which prompted me to finally watch Spotlight. It was as good – and devastating – as everyone said. I think it's better than The Post too.
- One Day at a Time. What a delightful almost retro-comedy! When was the last time you heard a soundtrack? It's only 13 episodes, so I suggest gobbling this one up before the second season drops.
- The Toys that Made Us. I've only watched the first episode of this documentary series, which is about Star Wars, and was charmed. Barbie is up next.
- The Big Sick. Another one that's as good as everyone said, though I'm glad I read this in Jezebel too.
Jen A. Miller