Guest Chick: Debra Sennefelder

Today, the Chicks extend a warm welcome to Debra Sennefelder, who is celebrating the release TODAY of her newest Food Blogger Mystery, The Corpse in the Gazebo. Take it away, Debra!

How Do You Tackle Your TBR Pile?

Hi, my name is Debra, and I have an out-of-control to-be-read pile for both physical and e-books. I’m can’t even begin counting how many books are waiting for me to open and lose myself in them. Since you’re here visiting this book-centric blog, I’m guessing you understand my plight.

What caused me to lose control of my reading goals? I had to balance managing a relative’s care with writing deadlines and the ever-growing list of to-dos behind the scenes of a writing career. For months, I struggled to read one or two books. To say I was disappointed about my lack of reading would be an understatement. Honestly, between meeting my daily word count, phone tag with rehab facility staff, maintaining my online presence, and taking care of my home, I was often too exhausted to read more than a page at night.

Even before 2021 hit, I’d never been a reader who set reading goals. Even though I’ve always been impressed by readers who set out to read X number of books in a year and accomplished it. I’ve always been more of a mood reader since I read in several genres. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a thrilling romantic suspense, a twisty psychological thriller, a feel-good women’s fiction story, or a quirky cozy mystery.

Over the past few months, as I was getting closer to my deadlines and traveling to my relative’s home several times a month to stay and help for days at a time, I was feeling like I was drowning in my daily to-dos. There hadn’t seemed enough time in the day. Even when I accomplished something (like meeting my deadlines), I still felt antsy, unproductive, worn out. Finally, I managed to get back into semi-regular working out. Yes, that started to make me feel better even though my schedule hadn’t lightened up. I then took a look at what else my daily life had been missing, and I realized that I hadn’t worked on my cross-stitch project since last year, and I hadn’t been reading for pleasure like I used to.
I decided the cross-stitch project could wait. But, reading? I needed to make sitting down and reading more than one page a couple days of the week a priority.

So, now what did I do to carve out reading time?

I tossed out the should-read list. Yes, I should be reading books for various reasons, but having that label on the book gave me zero interest in picking it up. So, I chose books that I was in the mood for. I love scanning my bookshelves for a book that fits my mood.

I selected shorter books to read because my energy level has been low, so more than 300 pages doesn’t really fit my life right now. Hopefully, soon, I can sink into a thick book, getting lost in a story.

I started reading in bed again. I prop myself up with three pillows, sink back, and read for about twenty minutes. This addition to my nightly routine has been a game-changer in how much I’m reading.

I stepped away from social media. My time is better spent reading than scrolling on my phone. On the other hand, though, I do love a good monkey video.

Since I’m in book release mode, my nighttime reading has been the only time I’ve been able to read. I’ll get back to my regular schedule in a week or so and have more reading time.

Thank you to Chicks on The Case for inviting me today to celebrate the release of THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO.

Readers: How do you tackle your TBR pile? How do you carve out time to read?

About Debra: Debra Sennefelder is the acclaimed author of the Food Blogger Mysteries and the Resale Boutique Mystery Series. An avid reader who reads across a range of genres, mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery.

Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.

Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companion is her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzu, Connie.

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27 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Debra Sennefelder

  1. I enter a few challenges on Goodreads and that helps me in deciding which book to read next. I have plenty of time as my husband and I are retired and living in sunny Florida. It’s starting to get a little bit cooler so I can hang around the pool with my book now and take a dip if I get hot.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I usually do the Goodreads Challenge and I usually end up surpassing it. None of the books are “should” read choices – I read what I’m in the mood for. The best time for me is right before bed. I find I don’t sleep as well if I go straight from the nightly TV watching to sleep without reading in between.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Congrats on the new release, Debra! I, too, do most of my reading before turning in for the night. It’s my ideal method for winding down from the day. Cheers!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I also read at bedtime mostly. I also found that I could only read a page or two before falling asleep. But as I am at “that age” where small print is hard to see the small print on some books. So I almost exclusively read on my Kindle so I can make the print bigger. Now I can read for almost an hour before I get tired, and I sleep better. My husband was recently in the hospital and I had to take him for treatments every day for a couple of weeks after. That e reader was with me constantly and got me through.
    I have a huge to be read list and am working my way through one book at a time. It gets me through quiet times, sad times, and scary.
    In fact I am drinking my coffee as I write this out of a mug I bought at Monticello, in VA. It has a quote from President Jefferson that says “I cannot live without books” So true Mr Jefferson, so true.
    I just added your new book to my list.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. After dinner and streaming something on TV with my wife, I settle down in bed for my nightly reading time. Sometimes it’s for several hours, sometimes only a few minutes, depending on how tired I am.

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Debra, and congrats on the new book–yippee!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Welcome to the Chicks, Debra, and congrats on your latest release!

    I also like reading right before bed. It’s the only uninterrupted stretch of time I get, and it helps me to relax. Another thing I like to do is bring my e-reader everywhere; that way when I’m stuck in line or waiting, I’ll have stuff to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I do not have a TBR pile. I have a TBR mountain range.

    I carve out lots of time to read, but I keep getting further behind. Too many excellent books I want to read with not enough time to get them all read. Stupid day job.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Debra, great TBR advice! My problem is with my Kindle Fire. I buy books for it and get a monthly freebie on Amazon Prime, but my daughter also uses the account to rent books and it’s just a sea of books I’ve already read and her expired loans. I can’t even find books I bought months ago and have forgotten about since. I keep trying to find a way to only see Unread books but that never works. I need a Kindle Fire course!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi, Debra! Thanks for visiting us here today! As for me, I don’t have a plan for which books to read. I put some on hold at the library, I buy some from friends, My husband hands me one and says, “I think you’ll like this,” I see an interesting review, my book club picks books I’d never have found on my own … it’s kind of like a literary pinball machine. As for when I read, that’s easy. I get up at 5am, make coffee, feed the dog, then read until 7am. It’s sacred time to me. I also read before bed, but that’s more dubious. Like Leslie, it may be an hour or a minute, depending. But just like with everything, you need to set priorities to do what you love. Like you, I cut waaaay back on facebook. (And don’t tell Zuckerberg, but I’m much happier these days!) That frees up a ton of time!

    Glad you’ve found your groove again! Best of luck with the launch!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Debra, welcome! We’re so happy to have you on Chicks today, and huge congrats on your new book. It sounds great. It sounds as if a lot of us read before bed–but it’s actually a habit I’ve been actively trying to rebuild lately. Unfortunately, I got so used to “glancing” at my phone before I set it to charge each night that I wasn’t making much progress on that TBR pile at all. Also, my TBR had moved mostly to my Kindle, which meant more screen time for my eyes, so I started buying print books again. The new routine is working well, because I’m sticking to it most nights. Bonus: I think maybe my writing is improving, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Lisa. I think you’re right about writing improving. I’ve noticed that too. Or, maybe what’s happening is that I’ve been more excited to write. Whatever it is, it’s a nice side bonus of carving out time to read. Thanks for chatting!



  10. Debra, for months medical issues ate up my time and zapped my energy for reading (and other things I enjoy). I’ve gotten back in the habit of reading a while each afternoon. It started with hubs and I reading a book we were both interested in so we could discuss it!
    Glad you got your reading groove back! Congrats on the new release — and thanks for hanging out with the Chicks!


  11. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Debra. Now that my day job is writing, I try to stick to a schedule — write in the morning after breakfast, read after lunch, watch TV with my sweetie after dinner. Each of these things is important to my creativity, although TV is generally a lesson in what not to do. Some days, like today, the schedule goes kittywonkers. We had to take the cats to the vet, and I went out for a haircut this afternoon, so no writing today. I’ll read for an hour or two today though, as soon as I get off the Internet. 🙂 I’m also back to editing part time, so I have to dedicate a day here and there to that. But Goodreads tells me I’ve read 91 books so far this year, and I’ve published one novel. I must be doing something right.


  12. Welcome, Debra, and happy (belated) book birthday!!

    SUCH great advice. My TBR pile is towering, but that doesn’t stop me from continuing to acquire. I’m going to follow your advice to read in bed. Even a few minutes before I zonk out will get me back on the reading road!


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