October Reads

          October was a hard month for reading. I managed to finish three books in the last three days so I still met my monthly goal. Didn’t seem like I was going to at first, but yay! One of the books was even on my overall reading list! I don’t think I’m going to manage to finish that this year; there’s several books left that I don’t even own currently. But I made really good progress on it, nonetheless.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

          I broke one of my rules with this one; I saw the movie without reading the book first. Not something I do often, but this one just kind of happened. Anyway, I already knew some of the heavy things that happened, and I was ready for them. However, there was a lot more going on than what happens in the movie (duh) that made it remain a good read. I understand that not everything can be put in to a movie, but damn. Charlie’s story is way more messed up than I thought and I just wanted to give the poor kid a hug.

          I feel like the style of the book was a little lacking. As the reader, so much more could have filled in the blanks between the letters. The movie did it well, and it kind of makes me happy that I watched it first. However, I did love being in Charlie’s head with the letters. He really painted nice pictures of the people around him. Seeing the crazy situations through his eyes gave it perspective. Especially when he didn’t understand things; you know he had no opinion and he was just telling it as it was. And when he realized the truth later on, you felt the epiphany with him. On the other hand, some of the descriptions fell flat. Sometimes being “happy” or “sad” doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

          This book explored some really serious issues. But they were almost talked about in a light way, showing us that it’s just an accepted part of high school. Which is awful, don’t get me wrong, and something more should be done about it. Rape and suicide shouldn’t be accepted as normal teenager occurrences. I know this book is banned at some schools because of this. But maybe it needs to be the opposite. It needs to be talked about more, not pushed under the rug.

It by Stephen King

          This is another book that I saw the movie first. But I saw the movie when I was about nine years old. I had no idea it was a book at the time and I would have been way to young to read it anyway – since I was too young for the movie, obviously.

          This book was a lot. I listened to the audiobook in my car and sometimes at work. I had to get some headphones because the language was pretty offensive at times. I understand that it was set in a different time and that’s just how people talked, but damn, it was a bit much.

          I’m usually a pretty big fan of Stephen King. However, if he said one more thing about someone’s “small breasts” I would have had to stop the book. Girls don’t think with their breasts. They don’t react with their breasts. Half the time, they don’t even think about their breasts at all. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book.

There was so much depth and detail that rounded out the whole epic tale. Sure, some of it could have been cut to shorten the book and keep to one main plotline, but each character deserved their story to be told. They were all made real and – in some cases – horrifying. As a new mother, the part about the baby being killed was heart wrenching and difficult to get through, but it really demonstrated the coldness and detachment of the boy. Was it really necessary? Maybe not. But it also served a purpose.

          Overall, a great – long – book and I’m glad I finally read (listened) to it.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

          This book was a whole lot of meh. I think I read it when I was younger, but I can’t remember. It’s been on my shelf for years and I figured I’d give it a read. And it was alright, aside from the fact that I discovered my used copy was missing the first 74 pages and I had to download the e-book.

          The language and style of the narrator didn’t pull me in. I know he was young and telling us about his adventure as an afterward, but I didn’t really like it. Every time there was an “I would find out later…” part I would get a little frustrated. It was like revealing the end too soon.

          The characters were also not very well defined. All the gentlemen became one lump in my head and the conversations they had would be a little confusing. Silver also wasn’t as colorful as he could have been.

          Sure, it was a cute little adventure story, but I probably liked it better as a kid.

Around the Writer’s Block by Rosanne Bane

This was my craft book for the month and I really enjoyed it. I already didn’t really believe in “writer’s block” and this book helped reinforce that idea. It’s mostly a struggle of showing up to do the writing that keeps it from getting done. It’s all about distractions and building writing up into this big scary thing that you couldn’t possibly do until the stars align and the weather is perfect. Or something like that. This book, though, gives several examples of how to get around these blocks and address what the real problem is that’s keeping you from getting your writing done. I plan on using the techniques I learned about as soon as possible to keep myself on track. Highly recommend it to anyone who has a tendency to get stuck.

          2019 is coming to a close and I’m going to need to make a new reading list. Anyone have any suggestions?

July Reads

                Wow, July seemed to fly by. But I still managed to do my reading, coming in right under the wire again like last month. This time wasn’t due to procrastination or being busy, however, it just came down to the length of two of the books I decided to read. One of which was a book I could mark off my overall reading list. Also, the last book I read ended up being a DNF. I would have finished it in time for the month cut off, if I’d been able to get past page 50. But I just couldn’t do it.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

                I became attached to Lyra very quickly. She’s a very spirited little girl that seems like she’d be so fun to be around. I love that she speaks her mind, even if it’s going to get her in trouble. And speaking of trouble, everywhere she turns she seemed to get herself into a tight spot. Lucky all the time though, she managed to pull through.

                My only real problem with the book is how often a section ended with “presently she…” Just one of those things where I feel like I would have noticed that I over used a word. Other than that, it was beautifully written. Colorful descriptions really showed off the world to the reader. The way people talked jumped off the page without being too overbearing. Accents were done just right, letting us know that people were from different places or classes. But it wasn’t to the point where we couldn’t understand what was being said.

                The story is exciting. Even if you can tell Lyra is always going to make it through each difficulty, it isn’t always clear how. Nothing is completely revealed until necessary and we’re left with several questions at the end in order to be pulled into the next book of the series.

                All the characters in Lyra’s life are also brilliantly written. She loves, hates, or fears them so deeply that we feel the same as her. It’s also very realistic how she can simultaneously hate and admire Mrs. Coulter or fear and love Lord Asriel. We feel her pain and empathy alongside her. The characters are very well developed. They were fun to go on this adventure with. Couldn’t wait to read the next book.

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

                This second book in the series has struck a different chord emotionally. I’ve become so attached to these characters that I feel more strongly about what’s happening to them. And we meet Will, another child destined for great things, and you can’t help but feel for him right off the bat. The problems with his mom and the men after him throw you right into his chaos and you just wish you could help him.

                Just gonna say this once more… he does the “presently…” thing again :l But it’s fine.

                The second installment fills in a lot of blanks, but also give us more questions that need answering. It also shows more about what the whole story is really about. I’m on the edge of my seat getting ready to read the final book. I need to know what happens.

                The characters continue to be amazing. We see old ones, meet new ones and both are fantastically written. It’s also clear that each one of them have a purpose. There aren’t any used as fluff.

                I also enjoy how the dialogue is used purposefully. Nothing is said or thought without reason. Nothing is given away too soon and nothing is overdone.

                Overall, amazing. Can’t wait to get to the third book.

-Will not title or name names- (Did not finish)

                I was hoping there was a good story in there somewhere. I really wanted to love it. I wanted to tell this acquaintance that their book was phenomenal. But I just can’t. Which is why I will not reveal what the book was or who it was by. I don’t want to talk bad about anyone. The only explanation as to what could have happened with this book was the writer deciding against hiring an outside editor before self-publishing.

                I couldn’t get any further than chapter five. I tried.

                The descriptions and adverbs were overwhelming. I couldn’t focus on what was actually being said. I felt like the characters’ entire lives were dumped on me in one paragraph and I couldn’t keep track of which details were important. It was hard to even keep track of which character the details were for because the author kept head jumping. One moment we’d be in H’s head and the next it would be M. Plus there were the character relationships that kept confusing me. In each paragraph the dynamic would change. Do they hate each other or love each other? Is she a mother figure or are they best friends? On top of all that, I kept getting dropped into flashbacks without warning that didn’t seem relevant.

                I’m sorry. I tried. Time with a great editor and I’m sure the story would have shown through. I just couldn’t follow.

Rise of the Machines by Kristen Lamb

                My technical book for the month was by one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Kristen Lamb. In all honesty, she’s the entire reason I have a blog at all. I was gifted her book We are Not Alone a few years ago and since then I’ve developed my platform into what it is today.

                This book was even more amazing than the first one that I read.  It’s full of tips on how to sustain your author platform, how to come up with ideas on what to talk about, and how to stay on the audiences’ good side. After reading it, I’ve decided to revamp my blog and my presence on other social media sights. The changes should go live on September 1st.  I owe so much of what I’m doing to Kristen.

                What have you been reading lately?

Mid-year Progress Report

                Wow, is it just me or has this year been flying by? We’re already at the halfway point! Now is always a good time to step back and reflect on progress. Am I getting to where I want to be? Am I getting closer to my goals I set at the beginning of the year? And is there any room for adjustment to make sure I’m staying on track?

                *Checking in on my new years’ resolutions;

                I’ve kept up with my monthly goals fairly well so far this year. Other than the transition time after we moved into our new house, I’ve been able to nail down all of my numbers. I’m writing enough, reading enough, and putting in enough editing hours. It’s all very satisfying.

                I haven’t submitted to any literary magazines. YET. I’ve been doing my research, trying to find the ones that actually fit. Same with the self-publishing of my short stories. I’ve been looking into all the different aspects surrounding self-publishing and I just want to make sure I make the right choice. And as for writing contests, I’m about to enter one currently. I just have to figure out how to write the dreaded cover letter.

*So, as it stands with work accomplished right now;

                I’ve finished my short story collection. 100% Written, edited, revised, proofread etc. It’s done. I even have a tentative cover design.

                I have also finished the first draft of my novel. I am now working on typing it up so I can begin the first round of editing.

                I’m currently working on plotting out a new project. I feel very close to being able to start the actual writing.

                I’ve read 22 books so far this year. Several of them have been on my overall reading list.

                And I’ve continued to keep up with this blog and my online presence overall. I’ve branched out into twitter and I feel like I’m doing pretty well there. My author page on Facebook is still running and I make sure to post there at least a few times a week.

                *And then in real life land;

                I had a baby! And he’s adorable! And is currently laying on top of me while I try to type this up, haha!

                I’ve also got a new house with boyfriend and other kiddo. We’ve got that whole domesticated partnership thing going on and it’s working out nicely.

                So, overall the first half of the year has been fairly productive! I just need to stay on top of my writing and all should continue going well. I’m feeling really good about this year. I feel like all my hard work is going to pay off in some way. Even if it’s just one small thing, it will be a step in the right direction.

                How is everyone else doing on their goals?

February Reads

                My four books of February almost didn’t make it. The month being shorter on top of still settling into our new house and new routines, I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to reading as I’d like. I finished up on the last day of the month. But that still counts as a win in my book. I was also able to check off another book on my overall reading list.

The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Ashford

                 I picked this book off the First Reads list on my Kindle. I have a fondness for historical fiction, and it stuck out to me as something I would enjoy. It’s set right after WWII in Spain and France and follows two women’s journey. Rose is trying to find out the truth to her brother’s disappearance after he went to fight in the war and Lola is trying to make a life for herself as far from her past horrors as she can get.

                The story is filled with beautiful descriptions of the landscape and great characters. Their lives took twists and turns that kept me hanging on every word. I was only able to guess what was going to happen once or twice, the rest of the time I was taken completely by surprise. A very thrilling read and the ending wrapped it up in a nice bow.

                Would recommend to anyone that has an interest in history.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

                Anyone who has read DIY MFA knows why I read this story. The chapter on character development talks about it to such an extent that you need to read the story to really understand all the references. A few paragraphs in, I realized I already knew the story from high school when people in my theatre department adapted it into a short play.

                The story describes how women’s mental health was dealt with in the past. The young woman is diagnosed with “nervous disposition” or “hysteria” instead of what would now be known as postpartum depression and she slowly falls into madness while trapped in a room with ugly yellow wallpaper.

                I read this story with the character development chapter in mind and mostly made notes of how the wallpaper comes to life throughout the story and becomes a character of its own. It was a genuinely creepy story.

Apocalypse Winds by Angela White

                The latest installment in the Life After War Series! This book was the reason I almost didn’t finish my four-book goal, because every part of this series is well over 1000 pages. But I finished it on the 28th after dinner 😊

                Safe Haven is on their ship, taking on the ocean to get to the island where they will be able to rebuild civilization. They encounter troubles along the way, both from people and from nature. They soldier on in spite of everything and try to make the best of things like they usually do. We get new character relationships to follow and deaths to deal with. We get one step closer to the end of their stories and get left on another cliff hanger (as usual) that leaves us biting our nails wondering about the outcome.

                The only trouble I’ve had with this series is the abundance of characters to remember. But at the same time, they all have independent troubles to deal with and traits that make them unique. Still in love with this series and can’t wait for the next one.

DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira

                This was the book I was able to mark off my reading list and it was my resource read for the month. I picked it because of how much I enjoy the DIY MFA website and because she launched the book club last month.

                I’m happy to report I learned new techniques and pointers from this book. The exercises have been helpful, and I will employ some of her tactics in my future work.

                Write with focus. Read with purpose. Build your community.

                I can’t wait to see where this month’s books take me. What have you been reading?

DIY MFA Prompt

                I’ve spent some time perusing old DIY MFA articles again and came across a few writing prompts.

  1. What are my writing successes for last year?

The post was all about being able to physically measure your success and achievements.

Solid numbers make a big difference instead of just “Oh, I wrote a draft of my story.”

In 2018 I

                *Wrote 31,381 words of creative content

                *Wrote 54 blog posts

                *Finished my short story/novella collection

                *Typed/edited 431 pages of script (either creative works or blog posts)

                *Read 45 books (and 5 stories on scribophile)

                *Forced my way through 134 hours of market/craft research

All of this while working a 52-60 hour a week job. I only fell behind in October in reaching my monthly goals. This was when I first found out I was pregnant and those first few weeks were brutal. Slept more than I did anything else probably.

                At the end of 2018 I also set up my author page on facebook. I felt a little bit like I was jumping the gun, since I don’t have anything published yet, but the support has already been awesome so I feel like I did the right thing.

  • What is on my writing wish list for this year?

Work wise, I would love to have my short story/novella collection selfpublished by the end of

this year. Similarly, I would like to complete the first draft of my new writing project and start the editing process. I’d also like to reach my goal of reading 50 books this year.

                On the other side of this, my wish list includes a lovely functional desk and comfy computer chair. Somewhere to organize all my work (that isn’t a milk crate) so that I can sit down and work and not have to pull random other binders and folders out in order to get to the correct folder. Somewhere to put my coffee warmer so my coffee won’t get cold over the morning of working.

                And of course, at least one hundred new pens and notebooks. An undisturbed hour at a bookstore once a month would be lovely. And time. Lots more time in a day.

*

What were your successes in 2018? Do you have a writing wish list?

2018 Wrap Up

**It’s been a year since I started this blog!**

So many things have happened in 2018.

First off, business wise, I have done pretty well.

  • I’ve been able to keep up with my monthly goals this year almost 100% which is awesome for me.
  • I’ve read 44 of the 50 books I wanted to read this year. (For more details on that, check out my goodreads profile .)
  • I’m getting a better footing in my social media presence. I also joined Scribophile and DIY MFA.
  • My short story collection is almost completely ready to be sent off.
  • I’ve begun a new writing project that I am so excited about.
  • AND I’ve settled back into a routine of day job and this job.

I have so many plans and ideas for the coming year I don’t know how I’ve been able to contain myself. I might need to clone myself to get it all done. But of course that’s not a realistic plan of action, so all I can hope to do is write all the ideas down and tackle them one by one like a normal person.

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

But the biggest news from 2018 is *drumroll*

I’M HAVING A BABY!

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Micro human

I’m due in May. I’m pretty excited and terrified. Biggest change my life has ever undertaken, but I can’t wait to meet this tiny thing and love it as much as I can.

New Years Resolutions 

  1. Keep up with my goals (again)
  2. Submit to literary magazines
  3. Self publish my short story collection
  4. Enter writing contests

** Happy New Year Everyone **

DIY MFA

Continuing on my journey with this amazing website. I’ve subscribed to the podcast and have been listening to it on my drive to and from work everyday. I’ve also gotten a few more articles in on my reading. So that brings us to…

Progress Report

• What obstacles have you faced over the past year? How did you deal with them? Who was there for you to help you on your way?

My main obstacle this year has just been finding time to work. My personal life was kind of upended for a few months with trying to find a new place to live, packing, and moving. I dealt with it by setting my goals a little lower so that I could still logically meet them with less time. My best friend has been there this whole time to help me through any problems.

• What about your victories? What were they (be specific)? Did you celebrate them (even the small ones) in some meaningful way? Who was there to help you be your best self?

I’ve completed the first draft of my short story collection this year. Two of the four stories are in the final edit stage and one is completely ready. I haven’t really celebrated these accomplishments, but I’ll start. My best friend encourages me to stay on track and work with purpose.

• Did you face any disappointments in the past year? Any people you thought were in your corner but they let you down? Can you think of ways to salvage these relationships? And more importantly, what will you do to nurture yourself and help yourself heal?

Hmm, recently there’s been tension with some people that I hope I’ll be able to work through. But I know deep down I need to take care of me and make sure I’m only surrounded by positive energy.

• Finally, what is the most important thing you learned from your writing experiences this past year? How will you use this knowledge to fuel your writing next year?

I’ve reinforced the fact that the stories aren’t going to write themselves and it’s up to me to make sure the writing is a priority in my life. I will set my goals higher and achieve them, because I know I’m capable of great things.