Book Review Policy Update

Because so many people have been asking, here is an update to my current book review policy. Please read all of these guidelines before contacting me. Review requests that do not follow these guidelines or are sent anywhere other than through my contact page will be cut into tiny pieces, set on fire, and then fed to the unspeakable howling void in my attic. Cheers!

This policy is also available on my book review policy page.


  • *Books I have to pay for.* (That’s not how book reviewing works.)
  • Self-published books
  • Erotica
  • Middle Grade, Picture Books, Books for Children
  • Comics or Graphic Novels, because I wouldn’t know how to critique that.
  • Audiobooks
  • Dystopias, just because I don’t want to read any more dystopias.
  • Paranormal romance


  • Hardback books, but paperbacks are also fine.
  • Thrillers, mysteries, literary, science fiction and fantasy, book club and upmarket fiction
  • I really dig cool, reputable small presses like Tin House, Coffee House, and Graywolf. I like university presses, too!

If you have read all of the above and still want a curmudgeon like me to review your book, submit a brief description of your book’s plot and genre, a little bit about you, and your publishing timeline via my contact page.

I reserve the right to decline any book based purely on my own whims and desires. I receive many more book review requests than I could possibly read. I will only respond to an itty-bitty fraction of them, but thank you for sending them nonetheless.



Right now, I’m working on getting more freelance work, and I’m editing my novel. If you’d like to support me while I’m editing, you can:

  1. Follow me on social media: TwitterInstagramFacebook, and Goodreads.
  2. Follow this blog. 🙂
  3. Sign up for my mailing list here.
  4. Support me on Patreon. There is an option on there to purchase a manuscript critique/review from me.

Adventures in Chile

This June, I ventured to the Southern Hemisphere for the very first time. Although I had layovers in Brazil and Peru, I spent most of the trip in Santiago de Chile. It was cold and rainy , and I had a few freelance assignments due, the biggest of which was for Catapult, which I’m really excited about. I wrote around 7,000 words to get the best 2,500. I wrote in hotels and coffee shops. At one point, I was writing in a vacant room on the top story of Sociedad de Escritores de Chile, a place where Pablo Neruda himself had once worked. Typing in that unheated room, my fingers got so cold that I couldn’t feel them, and I would have to trek downstairs to warm up then go back up to keep writing. It was a singular writerly experience.

Half of the people I traveled with got sick. The pollution in Santiago left me gasping for breath after climbing stairs. Needless to say, a lot of us were in bad moods. But the trip wasn’t all bleak and squalid. The city of Santiago is full of friendly stray dogs. Yes, I pet them. Yes, I know that’s weird. Yes, the one in the picture is wearing a sweater. Vibrant street art flows through Santiago. So does some impressive wine. My Spanish, on the other hand, failed to flow. I forgot conjugations and words I knew only a year ago in Mexico.

Here are some pictures from my trip! Click here to see more on my Facebook author page.

Leaving Chile, I survived literally my worst flight ever. I must have picked something up in transit, because I’ve been coughing ever since I got back. I think I pulled a muscle in my abs. Ow ow ow.


Anyway, here are my publications from last month. They’re both on Book Riot. The second one was one of the top ten most popular posts on Book Riot for the month of June!

Right now, I’m working on getting more freelance work, and I’m editing my novel. If you’d like to support me while I’m editing, you can:

  1. Follow me on social media: TwitterInstagramFacebook, and Goodreads.
  2. Follow this blog. 🙂
  3. Sign up for my mailing list here.
  4. Sign up for my Patreon.

Shout-out to Kat Lewis for not only being my first Patreon subscriber, but also for being really supportive and nice! You should take a gander at Kat’s website and consider buying her book.


May Publications & Life Update

This month has been pretty awesome for me. I’m finally starting to break through into my wishlist publications. For one, I accomplished a serious dream of mine. For a while now, I wanted to be a Book Riot contributor. I applied over and over again. Then at the end of April, I got the magic email.

I became an official Book Riot contributor this past month, and they published four of my articles. I’m freaking giddy.

I also have short blurbs in:

More good news:

My short story “The Bottomless Hole on Crooked Palm Boulevard” was a runner up for Crab Orchard Review’s Charles Johnson Fiction Award 2017!

It’s a weird story about a hole into another dimension that opens in a suburban Florida street. But it’s really about environmental impact and how what we do in one part of the world can effect another. That seems very apropos these days.


Bon Voyage, Obra/Artifact!

A year ago, my friend Luci and I had the idea to start a literary magazine. We roped our friend Jared in, too, and we set out on our mission. A few months later, Stetson’s MFA made out lit mag the official publication of the graduate program. They took us to AWP and introduced us to amazing writers.

I was the very first Editor in Chief. Now Luci has taken my place. It was a good run. I learned a lot, and I gained serious respect for editors everywhere. It’s a thankless, difficult job that involves a lot of wading through BS, but I’m glad I had the opportunity. I’m also thrilled to have all that free time back.


And then…

Two weeks ago, I adopted a kitten from the Humane Society! She’s a feisty little beastie. She’s a sweet baby sometimes, too. This is her, my little Josephine:


And then…

I started editing my novel. I’m making additions of scenes, and one of my characters needs a major overhaul. I want to be done with this draft by August, but that’ll be a challenge, since I’m taking a break from it until I come back from Chile.

Also, I’m panicking a little about Chile. I hate flying. Nothing like the constant fear of death as a single-serving friend. Oh boy.



I’m trying to drum up some support on Patreon. Rewards include patron-only blog posts, critiques, ARCs, and even getting your name in the acknowledgements of my book!

All proceeds from Patreon will go toward marketing my book. So if you love me, and you also have money falling out of your pockets, consider being my patron.

Click here to become my patron on Patreon!


If you’re not already, don’t forget to follow me on social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads. You can also sign up for my mailing list here.

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2017 – May Update

I am seriously behind on my Goodreads Challenge. I blame working on my novel. But since I made the first post about Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, I fulfilled a major dream and became a Book Riot Contributor! And yet, that gives me less time to read. Ha!

Anyway, here’s an update on my Read Harder progress.


  1. Read a book about sports. – Lord of Misrule by Jaime Gordon
  2. Read a debut novel. – Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  3. Read a book about books. – The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass (This totally counts imo!)
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. – I have several on my TBR.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before. – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. – UGH this one is hard. Their Eyes Were Watching God would count. So would Paper Towns. But I’ve read those, and I don’t like rereading!
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location. – Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  12. Read a fantasy novel. – Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel – I need a rec for this, please!
  21. Read a book published by a micropress. – This weird thing.
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. – The Sellout by Paul Beatty


So I may need some recommendations… I have ideas for about half of them.

Writers’ Homes: A Phenomenon

In the summer of 2016, my cousin (a fellow book nerd) and I journeyed to Key West to visit the home of Ernest Hemingway. A bizarro heat cloaked the whole day. We saw dozens Hemingway lookalikes on the street. There was a contest apparently, but knowing that didn’t take away from the feeling of surrealism. It was the heat, I told myself. The heat turned the tour group chatty as we petted the cat perched on the great writer’s bed. A mother said to her son that people would tour their house like this someday. That made me chuckle. He must have been a writer, especially from the way he shrunk from the volume of her voice.

That mother’s words got me thinking how strange this all was. There we were, twenty strangers touring a dead guy’s house, petting the six-toed descendant of his cat, marveling at the authentic bathroom fixtures (even the urinal in his garden). I was the only English teacher among us. Of the people I talked to, there were a few students, a postal worker, and a nurse. I knew why I was there: to experience and tell my students about it when I go back. But why were they?

Of course there are Hollywood tours, but most of them seem to focus on pointing out houses and hoping for celebrity sightings. On others, you can tour the sites of famous deaths and murders. Then there are homes famous for their architecture like the Biltmore. Historical residences like Mount Vernon bring the past to life. They also memorialize figures in our country’s collective imagination.

Writers, especially the greats like Hemingway, tend to be elevated to monolithic proportions. These writers, they are not like us mortal beings. You see, this is where they worked their magic. This is where Hemingway slept. This is where Hemingway coached boxing. This is where Hemingway sat to read. Look how glamorous his life was.

Wait. There is no air conditioning. His wife took out all the fans to put up chandeliers. Hemingway probably sweat like we were sweating. Hemingway was a human despite his miraculous gift (and hard work) with words. People tour writers’ homes to see writers both ways. They want a little bit of the mystical to slough off on their lives, but they also want to witness the mundanities, hence our fascination with Hemingway’s toilet.

Novel Writing Progress and How You Can Help

In November 2016, I started writing the novel that has taken shape into Raintree. I’ve never worked on a project so hard or devoted so much of my time and energy to, well, anything. I’ll tell you about it more in another post, but right now I’m going to focus on the craziness of the novel-writing process.

I planned the whole plot out by hand. I read horse books for inspiration.

I referred back to my notes from interviewing my father before he died. Once upon a time, he ran a horse racing farm. His stories inspired me to write this novel.

I also did research in person. I went to the Florida Derby in April, and crazy things happened, as only they can happen to me. (Someday, I’ll write about it, but I’m too busy right now. It involves being adopted by a Cuban abuelito and him teaching me everything he knew about stakes and betting. Also, I was hit on by a jockey. Ha. Only me.)

Fun fact: I did see the future Kentucky Derby winner run! Always Dreaming, who won the Florida Derby, went on to triumph at Churchill Downs.

After that fun interlude, I got back down to work. What is free time again?

Then in May, I accomplished one of my dreams: I became a Book Riot contributor!

The very next day, I finished the first draft of Raintree! I was bummed though, because 125,000 words is much longer than I want it to be. At that point, the task of editing seemed insurmountable.

But I have to edit it. I’m determined to get this book published, and I’m prepared to work hard enough to land a deal from one of the Big Five.

So I got down to cutting. I got organized. And I realized: this may not be so insurmountable after all.

My hope is to be done and ready to query by September. Wish me luck!

How can you help?

  1. Follow me on social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads.
  2. Follow this blog. 🙂
  3. Sign up for my mailing list here.
  4. But if you really love me, (and you also want something in return), sign up for my Patreon: Rewards on my Patreon include retweets, writing critiques, and even signed copies of Raintree when it is finally published!



My life has been so crazy full this year. I am unbelievably behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. I think I’ll make it up. Maybe? I’m also participating in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, which I’ll write an update post on soon.

Another challenge I’m participating in this year is the Litsy A-to-Z challenge. There are a few options for that one, but the one I’m choosing is this: read 26 books, each with an author whose last name starts with a different letter. If you’re on Litsy, follow me: @becky_renner, and click this link to join in the fun.

Here are the books I have read so far:


B- Borsuk, Amaranth – Between Page and Screen

C- Cluess, Jessica – A Shadow Bright and Burning


E- Engel, Patricia – Veins of the Ocean

F- Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby

G- Garber, Stephanie – Caraval; Gordon, Jaimy – Lord of Misrule

H- Hartnett, Annie – Rabbit Cake


J- Johansen, Erika – The Queen of the Tearling; James, Vic – Gilded Cage

K- Kendi, Ibram X. – Stamped from the Beginning

L- Le Guin, Ursula – Steering the Craft

M- Meyer, Marissa – Cinder

N- Novik, Naomi – Uprooted


P- Poreba, Christine – Rough Knowledge; Patchett, Ann – Bel Canto

Q- Queneau, Raymond – Exercises in Style


S- Saunders, George – Lincoln in the Bardo; Solnit, Rebecca – Men Explain Things to Me; Smiley, Jane – Horse Heaven (currently reading)






Y- Yanagihara, Hanya – A Little Life



Somehow I’ve done 15/26. I have a list of other potential books I may read here. But who knows what I’ll end up reading.

Want to try the challenge yourself? Join the fun here.