July, 2017

Summer is winding down…

Fall is my favorite time of year.

The changing of the seasons always brings a unique, mutable kind of energy, but fall has a special magic all its own. It is a magic of opposites: even as the natural world is dying down and preparing for winter, there is a zip in the air that makes everything feel fresh. Each fall, I find myself inspired to get my act together, to start new projects, to recommit to self-care and self-improvement.

Last year, the end of July brought with it a sense of panic. How does summer always go by so fast? I found myself staring at the calendar, wondering where the time had gone and how I had managed to waste so much of it.

This year, I headed into June determined this summer would be different. I bought a day planner and plotted out all my crucial work projects, plus family time, social obligations, and house projects to be done while the weather was nice. My husband, Mr. Technology, laughs a little when he sees my battered planner, but for some reason, having something physical in front of me that I can attack with pen and white-out tape helps me more than plugging the same notes into my iPhone.

Whatever works.

My trusty analog planner, complete with white-out tape…

In keeping with my 2017 commitment to making myself a better human, I spent my summer reading time immersed in self-improvement books. I’ve included a few of my favorites in the Pleasure Reading section. I’ve always enjoyed self-help books. There’s something immensely satisfying about learning new ways to better my life, my health, my relationships, my work. I hope they’re as valuable to you as they have been to me!

While I didn’t accomplish everything in my planner this summer, I’m heading into fall in a considerably better position than last year, and I consider that a victory. I’ve broken ground on the next Shades Below novel, Ghost In The Machine, and will be publishing it before the end of the year. Things in the Shades Below universe are getting a little, well, cosmic. I can’t wait for you to find out what I mean!

I also have a special project in the works with my critique partner and fellow writer-mama, Sarah L. Blair (if you haven’t checked out her debut novel, Darkness Shifting, you’ll want to do that like yesterday). But that’s news for another time.

You know…spoilers.

Current Word Count


Song Of The Moment

Funeral Bell – Phildel

Oh mother, I’m scared to die.
Where, where do my good deeds lie?
Oh father, I’m scared to live,
Takes more than I’ve got to give.
Oh sister, my voice is weak.
Oh brother, I long for sleep.
Oh hunger, I know you well
My cruel friend is a funeral bell.

And it rings in the day and it rings in the evening.
Oh, I could pray but it won’t stop you leaving.
Shadow in black, you are grim from your reaping.
Oh, can’t you spare just a day for the weeping?

Oh lover, I know you’re there
And I’d follow you anywhere.
Oh, give me a hand to hold
So that I may face the cold.

‘Cause it rings in the day and it rings in the evening.
Oh, I could pray but it won’t stop you leaving.
Shadow in black, you are grim from your reaping.
Oh, can’t you spare just a day for the weeping?

‘Cause it rings in the day and it rings in the evening.
Oh, I could pray but it won’t stop you leaving.
Shadow in black, you are grim from your reaping.

Oh, can’t you spare just a day for the weeping?
Oh, can’t you spare just a day for the weeping?

Produced by Ross Cullum
Album The Disappearance of the Girl

Recent Research

How much fun stuff is going into Ghost In The Machine?

Answer: SO MUCH.

I won’t give it all away, but here are a few of the fun topics I’ve been learning about lately…

  • Multiverse theory
  • Einstein’s Rosen Bridge
  • Quantum entanglement
  • Wormholes
  • Alchemy
  • The first law of thermodynamics

Pleasure-Reading Recommendations

Here are a few of those self-help books I told you about, broken down by category (I’m a list person). Some of these are books I’ve already read, some I am currently reading, and some are on my TBR for the next few months. All are books I’ve sampled, and decided they fit with the goals I have for my life.

If any of these catch your eye, let me know in the comments! I’m curious to hear where you’re at on your own journey. We’re all in this together, after all…

Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl
Under A Lucky Star, Roy Chapman Andrews
West With The Night, Beryl Markham

Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class, Steve Siebold
How Rich People Think, Steve Siebold
Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, Denish Duffield-Thomas

Business – General
Focal Point, Brian Tracy
Goals! Brian Tracy
The Content Code, Mark Schaefer

Business – Writing
For Love Or Money, S.K. Quinn
Indie Author’s Survival Guide, S.K. Quinn
Business For Authors, Joanna Penn

Writing – Craft
2,000-10,000, Rachel Adams
500 Ways To Write Harder, Chuck Wendig
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

Personal Growth
The Practicing Mind, Thomas M. Sterner
The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod
Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin


WIP Excerpt

It was a perfect day for a funeral.

A steady drizzle fell from the pale gray sky, and Jesper MacMillian pulled his weathered coat a little tighter.  The parched California landscape soaked in the precious water almost before it could reach the ground.  Fine sheets of rain painted the golden brown hills above Colma a dingy shade of gray.

Patches of vivid green hugged the base of the hillside; cemeteries dotted with over a hundred years’ worth of headstones.  MacMillian’s eyes locked on one distant patch in particular.  His thoughts drifted to another funeral, one he’d attended mere months ago.  It felt like longer than that since he’d stood and watched his grandfather’s casket lowered into the ground.  How many other San Francisco families had made the grim trek here, to the place everyone knew as the City of the Dead?

MacMillian returned his attention to the small, sad occasion at hand, and the open grave mere yards away.  Beside it was a coffin—empty, MacMillian knew.  Beside that, a framed photograph of Grace Alan sat on an easel.  The glancing drops of rain looked like tears sliding down the glass.

MacMillian exhaled heavily.  He’d only met Grace once, but a pang of sadness lanced his chest anyway.  The face in the photo was young.  Too young.  People weren’t supposed to die at that age, on the brink of the rest of their lives.  Everything about it felt wrong.

MacMillian glanced at her family, seated in the row of seats ahead of him.  They were all so still, so quiet.  He thought back to his grandfather’s funeral, to the crowds of mourners he’d barely met.  Most of them had come just so they could brag about it later.  He hadn’t minded.  Amid the wailing and the prayers and the singing, his own lack of grief had gone unnoticed.

Grief wasn’t lacking here.  MacMillian could practically feel it, visceral and thick, rolling off the remaining Alan family.  Directly in front of him, Lena’s shoulders were bunched tight.  Every so often, a painful-looking shudder wracked over them.  MacMillian winced, resisted the urge to reach forward and smooth out the knots.  He knew better than most: some kinds of pain couldn’t be taken away.

A man with silver-streaked hair and a proud bearing stood, and made his way over to the casket.  He didn’t introduce himself, merely unfolded a slip of paper from his pocket and began to read in a deep, heavy voice.  MacMillian tried to pay attention, but the man had scarcely started speaking when an unmistakable sensation settled over him.

He was being watched.


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Published by L.J.K. Oliva

L.J.K. Oliva writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, with a heavy dash of suspense. She likes her whiskey strong, her chocolate dark, and her steak bloody. Most of all, L.J.K. likes monsters... and knows the darkest ones don't live in closets.

3 thoughts on “July, 2017

      1. She reminds me a little of you. There is such tension, it’s a really good read but making me nervous. I am nearly finished my edit to re-upload. It is reading so much better but until it is out there I don’t know. I want that bite you have even though mine is not para but contemporary romance. Anyway good recommendation.

        Liked by 1 person

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