Final NaNoWriMo Update

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Morning guys,

I am off to a day of decorating my house, Christmas music and George C. Scott’s A Christmas Carol. Before I do, I wanted to give you my last update for NaNoWriMo because it is the last day of the “contest”

I finished my book last week. The final word count sits at around 90,000 words before editing. Editing starts next week when I can get it printed (I don’t have a printer)

I’ve left my novel alone since I finished it because I want some space from it before I go back into editing. I can’t let it sit for a year before editing like some authors do. I’m just not that kind of writer. I’m not nearly patient enough and it would eat at me and make feel guilty if I tried to stick it in a drawer for that long. I may do a second draft, send it to beta readers and then let it sit for a month before revising for the final, but from first to second drafts I like to move quickly.

Getting a bit of distance from it though has clarified some things. For example, I have a story-line I elude to near the middle/end of the book that I was going to clarify on later. I decided it’s a story-line that adds nothing to the overall characters so I’m cutting out the whole thing. I have some extra chapters to write after I finish editing what I have, and then my boyfriend will read it and then I will send it out to my beta readers.

Here are the last couple of things I have learned this month:

1) The last couple scenes are the hardest to write. I spent days knowing exactly how it would end but not actually finishing it. I love my book, rough though it may be. And I have enjoyed the month I have spent with my characters. It was hard to end it. But finishing it-writing those last two words “The End”-was strangely satisfying. Like a weight had been lifted from my chest. It hadn’t been an unpleasant weight, but it was there. Now it is gone. Ready to sit on me again as I move into the next phase of my work, but I have a few days to breathe freely at least.

2)When I decide to sit down and write, if it’s not the first thing I do, I will dread it all day. Not because I don’t want to write or don’t know what is coming next. Just the imposing feeling of not doing something you know you should be doing. The longer you go without starting, the harder it is to do and the smaller word count you will end up with.

3)More than anything else, I have enjoyed the thrill of getting up every morning, making my BulletProof Coffee or drinking a Monster Ultra, and facing down the next 5000 words of my book.The day melts away and, by the end of the day, part of me feels like I wasted the day. The dishes aren’t done, the house is a mess, but I hit my personal word count goal so I feel successful and good about myself.  When I was finished with my book it was satisfying to spend a couple of hours and deep clean my house. I had not realized how bad it had gotten in it’s poor neglected state.

4) I love having a finished first draft. I haven’t completed a full length novel in a while. I write short stories all the time.(last year I wrote a short story collection of Re-Told Christmas stories…I will be sharing some of them over December so follow me for those updates) I love writing short stories. I’m really good at short stories and writing tragic short stories is cathartic for me. But I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. Yet, I would always hit that point in the novel where I would tell myself “this is the worst thing in the whole world, why do I want to be a writer, this is stupid, I’m stupid, it would be better if I just deleted the whole thing and started all over” I hit that point in my NaNoWriMo novel as well but I knew if I deleted it, I would lose. And that wasn’t an option for me. So I pushed through. I got to the other side of the self loathing(more or less) and finished. It was a tremendous help to have the pep talks and to follow NaNoWriMo on Tumblr and Facebook where they were sharing that they were having the same problems I was having and still managing to stick it. And I’m proud of myself. What I wrote, even by the third draft, might not ever be something I want to have published (it might be…I’m thinking about it) But I finished it. Now I know that I can. Now I know how to push through the writer-ly depression that I hit at a certain point every time I write over 40,000 words. Now I’m ready for all the other novels that are calling my name.

What are some things you have learned doing this month? Who won? Let me know in the comments!

-M-

p.s. look for my new and improved selection of “What’s In My Queue” coming tomorrow, and if you are looking for some creative inspiration check out my guest blog I posted yesterday here

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Guest Blog-Why You Should Keep Going

Hi guys,

Local band Authmentis has been a band for a long time-9 years this coming Jan 1st. Opening for National Acts such as Saving Abel, Trapt and, most recently, All That Remains, Authmentis has learned what it really means to follow your dreams in the face of adversity.

Authmentis has gone through at least six drummers, multiple bass players, two guitar players and the growing pains associated with starting a band in High School and staying with it as you grow into adults. They have recorded two albums (with a 3rd on the way) with different studios, which was it’s own brand of struggle.

They live in Reno, Nevada, an entertainment town where it is hard for artists to get noticed. Yet, they have been noticed and they are well known by locals.

This past week, I asked the lead singer of Authmentis, Sam Spivey, to sit down and tell me why and how someone should keep going-keep following their dreams-in a world where it’s difficult to get your art seen and even more difficult to get people to care. I asked him what he wished he had known when he started the band 9 years ago.

I hope you enjoy what he had to say and can find a renewed sense of purpose if you find yourself ready to give up on the things that bring you peace.

-M-

Find Authmentis at their website,

Facebook and Twitter

P.S. They have two Facebook pages you can follow. I linked to both. One you can friend them on, one you can “Like”

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Photo Courtesty: Courtney Spangler Photography

 

Following your dreams is a choice. And you make that choice to pursue, orto run away, everyday, from the things you want. Recently I was asked to give advice on how to “keep going” on doing or pursuing something you love to do. So, here’s a short list of things to keep in mind.

1. Do you actually care about the thing you are pursuing? Lots of people want to be famous or successful, rich, healthy, etc. etc. Ask yourself, what are you willing to do for this passion you have? What sacrifices, what time, what effort are you willing to give? Is this your passion because you can’t imagine doing anything else, because it fulfills you? Or because you just want attention, or do you feel this passion is an easy way out of a harder situation? Don’t fucking lie to yourself either. You are either consumed by something or you’re not. If you’re not, congratulations, you get to keep looking for that one thing that drives you.

2. Do you have a goal in mind concerning your passion? Are you with this passion for release, for expression? Are you with it to make money, or to become famous? Answering these questions can turn your passion into a hobby, or a career. It is important to define what you want to do to avoid feeling stuck, or lost. Direction is everything.

3. Where are your un-crossable lines? Boundaries are good and even passion is conditional. They can keep you healthy and save your life. Have them.

4. Do you have talent or skill concerning your passion? Talent is a great starting point and some of the best people have it. But not everyone comes with the helpful starter pack. Sometimes you have to start from scratch. And this is where skill comes in. anyone can learn a skill if they are dedicated enough, and it will become a talent. There are no chosen ones, only the obsessed, and dedicated.

5. Are you in a situation where your passion can grow? No matter how much talent and skill you have, it is necessary to be in an environment where you can grow your passion and gain momentum. Surround yourself with people who are better than you and who can teach you. Work with people who are professional and expect your best. If you surround yourself with lazy and negative people, it will inhibit you, sometimes indefinitely. Surround yourself with places and people who will support, encourage and better you and your passion.

6. Know when to be nice, and when to be blunt: This can make the difference between progress, and an overwhelming desire to give up. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, address it. If you’re not pulling your weight, address it. Know when to hold on, and when to let go.

7. Communicate: How can anyone know there’s a problem if you don’t speak up? Explain yourself thoroughly and leave little room for people to read into what you are saying. Always discuss problems with the mindset of coming up with a solution to solve them, and you will always progress.

8. Be Objective: Know your place, and know your potential. Be confident in your skill set, but never assume you’re the best. There are always bigger fish.

9. If you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing, and keep moving: Full on fights are never worth the stress. It’s better to stop communicating than to communicate negatively. The bad things you say will always come around in a moment of vulnerability. Instead, keep moving, and let karma deal with backstabbers.

10. Believe in yourself: If you can’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? Hold on to the things that inspired you, and remember why you got into your passion in the first place. Be thankful for the progress you make, and always planning for the next step. You can do anything you believe you can do. If you hate yourself, and think you can’t do anything, please, spare us all and get some therapy and work on yourself. No one can help you through that but you. Regardless of your situation, no matter how dire, you can always start improving, always start over, always make a come back, if you want to. The things that drive you are as limitless as the creativity of your mind. If you ever do come to the conclusion that you must walk away, be sure you are doing so because you’re choosing to pursue something better, not because things got tough, and life got in your way. That’s a fucking excuse. Keep going because you are driven to, because you have to. The world needs more people who are pursuing their own truths. The world needs your best efforts. The world needs your vision. Our progress as humanity depends on it.

Follow these tips wisely and the things you are passionate about will serve you well.

What’s In My Queue-Allegiant Review

Hi guys!

Welcome to my first review for the “What’s In My Queue” list. I have never written reviews before so this will be good practice for me honing that skill.

Let me know how I did, what you would like to see in future review segments etc..

This review will more or less spoiler free if you have read Divergent and Insurgent. If you have not, I ruin a couple of things for you. Not much, though.

-M-

P.S. Look for the next installment of What’s In My Queue coming Sunday, Dec 1, this time with links and pictures.

Allegiant: 3.0/5.0

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Synopsis:What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The 3.0 is actually a higher score than this book probably deserves. But I really liked the ending. I am one of maybe five people in the world who apparently were all right with what happens.

I did not like this book until the end. At all. I thought it was boring, repetitive and that the plot point she could have-and apparently should have- used to make up the third book was resolved within the first hundred pages, at which point she pulled something out of the air and ran with it. Her editor then let her do this because Divergent and Insurgent were such big sellers.

I despise the two main characters. I despised them at the end of the second book and that anger and revulsion traveled through to this book. Tris and Tobias spent most of book 2 (Insurgent) breaking up and then coming up with some half-assed overly romantic reason to get back together that defied all logic.

In Allegiant, they seem to spend most of the book on the verge of breakup but ultimately decided they are “good for each other”   Which they aren’t, by the way.

What bothers me about that is the number of young girls who fell in love with the main characters in Divergent-as I did-and who won’t know that the relationships they are reading about in books like “Hunger Games”, “Twilight” and this series are, in fact, terribly dysfunctional and if anyone saw these relationships outside of the books we would scoff because they are ridiculous.

But that’s not the biggest beef with the book.

My biggest problem is that it doesn’t make any sense. She apparently decided that the path she was on when she ended Insurgent-which was the only reason I picked this up after the disaster that was the second book-was too hard to write. So, she changed the story with a single line in Allegiant about what we had been told at the end of Insurgent was a lie and then filled in the holes with a vapid, useless, story line not even close to how good the book could have been if she had stayed on the initial path set up in Divergent.

I also don’t care about any of the characters in the book. None. They are all pathetic, petty, cruel, stupid or some combination of those and it’s impossible to root for any of them. They are all one-dimensional characters who, rather than having grown up in the three years between Divergent and Allegiant, age backwards into pre-teens if you are to base their ages on their actions.

It was especially disappointing to me because I loved Divergent. I thought it was really great. Tris is strong and smart. She realizes she has to make it on her own because of her decisions and so she does. She makes mistakes but she owns up to them. Like an adult.

Then she gets a boyfriend and does what, apparently a lot of authors think, girls do when they get boyfriends. Which is to turn into whiny brats incapable of doing or thinking of anything not related to the guy they are with. She went from strong and independent to an insecure whipping girl for her boyfriend.

Tobias also starts out strong and interesting-determined to escape a past he has been taught to be ashamed of-until he dates Tris. At which point he becomes cruel, over bearing and easily broken. Everything she says hurts his feelings, it seems. Which is awful. Who wants that in a character you are trying to justify liking?

If you want a character to be easily broken, establish that ahead of time. Don’t establish them as tough and then make it so that a look can send them spiraling into depression.

Veronica Roth also didn’t seem to bother doing any research into genetics before she wrote this book. I have no problem with people making up their own sciences etc…if you are setting the world in a futuristic world with advanced technology BUT that fake science should be based on the science we already have. She  didn’t bother because she didn’t think we would notice.

We noticed.

The reason I gave it a 3.0 instead of a 1.0 or 2.0, however, is because I did like the ending. While I don’t feel that what happens redeems the characters at all, I was okay with what it. Especially within the parameters that were set up earlier in the book, the way it ended was the only way that it would have made sense to end. If it had ended the way they initially try to make you believe it will end (but if you’ve read ANY books you can see the “twist” coming a mile away) I would have been really upset because it would have been completely contradictory to the characters she had written.

The ending is the only thing that made me not hate this book that I had spent 400 pages rolling my eyes at because the ending matters. It doesn’t just end, the decisions and sacrifices made by characters in the book-for the most part-mean something. Which was important to me.

In conclusion, if you read Divergent and Insurgent, read Allegiant. You might as well. If you have read none of them, read Divergent as a stand alone or read the rest of the trilogy at your own risk.

You Will Always Be The Villain in Someone Else’s Story

I was writing a blog the other day, ranting, because someone I consider a friend had accused me of something completely out of left field. I don’t know that he meant it to be offensive but, to me, it really really was.

This came on the heels of someone else taking something I had said and completely misinterpreting it. They told other people their interpretation of what I had said and I was met with a great deal of hate from people who never even bothered to ask me if what this other person had said was true.

I did tie it back to art, as I will here, but I chose not to post it because I was afraid it sounded too much like a rant and not enough like constructive advice. So it went into my drafts where it will likely die.

After I had put that blog in my drafts I found a picture-I think someone posted it on Facebook-that said something a long the lines of “with the right storyteller, anyone can be the villain” (I tried to find the original but I couldn’t. Google has failed me. But I think you get the gist of what I am trying to say)

Finding that quote I found myself thinking about my two experiences.

Which leads me to my headline.

You will always be the villain in someone else’s story.

There will always be someone around-whether you know them personally or not-who will hate everything you ever do just because it’s you doing it.

There will always be people telling you what your motives are. They are usually wrong, but they won’t hesitate to tell you what you really think about something. Regardless of what you have said you think about it.

There will always be people telling you that what you are doing is wrong or stupid or useless or repetitive or pointless or cruel or…you get the point.

People in the world have set up hate sites for Mother Theresa.

No one is immune. It is the price of living in the computer age. If you are going to put yourself out publicly in anyway, if you dare to bare  your soul to the world SOMEONE is going to hate you for it.

So do what you were going to do anyway. Make art that makes you happy. Write and draw and sing and take pictures and do beautiful things that bring you joy and bring joy for the simple reason that it brings you joy.

Screw everyone else. If you’re going to be the villain you might as well get some enjoyment out of it.

-M-

For My Parents

I was writing my novel-which is really what I should be doing now-when I was struck by a thought.

Honestly, the thought has been trying to strike me since last night.

I was listening last night to a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson about how education kills creativity. (I HIGHLY recommend you watch it. It’s funny and, for us creative types, it really strikes a chord) I’ve included a link to a Youtube version here

Then this morning, I was thinking about one of the children’s books I am planning on writing. I first wrote it when I was probably about eight. It was about 200 pages and I have never gotten it out of my head. It was good for an eight year old. It is good for some adults if you are to judge their writing ability by their Facebook updates.

Then, I was sitting at my computer working on my novel when the two thoughts hit each other and formed:

I think, being a writer, I was very lucky to have the parents I have.

I remember writing my book, “Codename: Agent Six”(that title will change) and most of the time when I wrote it, I wrote it in church. I started it in church, I think. I, maybe, should have been listening to what was being said but I was a kid. What they were saying didn’t really apply to me.

But I knew most of my friends were forced to sit on their hands and watch what was going on even though they likely couldn’t understand the “depth” of what the adults were saying. I was allowed to write.

I was watching a Tom Papa  stand-up routine on Netflix the other night and at the end he is talking about how he and his wife don’t go to church but, when their older daughter told them she wanted to go to church, he took her. He recounts the experience and how, because they had never told her the stories of the Resurrection and such, the whole thing seemed kind of like a haunted house to this poor six year old who walks in to the most beautiful building in the neighborhood to see a bloody Jesus hanging from the ceiling.

They had to leave before the service was over because it just kept getting worse (christening, a priest that apparently looked just like Dracula…)  and they burst out onto the sidewalk,sat down and looked at each other, and then burst out laughing. And he ended it by saying, “I don’t know what this spiritual thing is we all chase but we were closer to it there on the sidewalk laughing together than in the Haunted House behind us”

Which I guess is the third thing that coalesced to bringing me to the realization that I was lucky, as an artist, to have the parents that I did.

Because, whatever that spiritual thing is that we all chase-atheists, Christians, Bhudists etc…alike-whatever that feeling of contentment and joy and peace that we all want to find, I know I was closer to it, sitting in the pews and working on my books than I would have been sitting still and listening to other people tell me what their peace was.

Kids in school and by parents are so often told when it is appropriate to be an artist. “Don’t play the guitar right now, we are trying to watch TV” “Don’t draw right now, you should be paying attention” “It’s not writing time now, you should be drawing” I don’t draw, by the way. Not even a little bit. My stick figures are wobbly, all right. But I can describe to you a great stick figure if you give me the chance.

I wasn’t told there was a right time and a wrong time to create things. I wasn’t told (by my parents at least) that there was no point in writing or being an artist etc…because I could never get a job as a writer. Society told me that so much that I eventually told myself that until I got tired of not doing things that made me happy because other people said I couldn’t. But my parents, while likely skeptical that writing could be a profession, never told me to stop. They read what I wrote and they helped me write. My mom payed for me to go to a writing conference I couldn’t afford to go to recently.

My mom, when I was probably nine or ten, bought me a book I still own on writing. It has prompts and exercises and all sorts of great writing things. I pull it out now and then and look at the notes I made in it. The book prompted me with an idea I have had in my head since getting that book that I want to write someday. (It’s a Children’s Series called “The Adventures of Taking Out the Trash”) I was encouraged where, I think a lot of potentially great artists, are told to not even bother trying.

This doesn’t have any writing advice or anything particularly important (except the TED talk…seriously…go watch it) I just wanted to write this for my parents and on behalf of all of us artists who were allowed to explore who we were as writers/musicians/painters etc…because of great parents, teachers, friends, siblings that didn’t tell us not to bother.

-M-

NaNo Update #3

Hello again,

It is the afternoon of the 13th.

I did not get to finish my 50,000 words yesterday. I was given a great deal of work to do for the newspaper. I got about 2000 words in but I was so irritated most of the night I couldn’t concentrate.

I have officially hit 50,000(and some change) as of today. Which is exciting. I have a list of things I need to change in re-writes going in a binder I have cordoned off just for Jacob’s Ladder but, going forward with those changes in mind, the last 10-20,000 words will be set.

Edit in December.

Beta readers in January.

Hopefully.

After this I have a novel I was working on prior to November that I can’t wait to get back to and I had an idea I’m really really excited writing come to me as I was waking up a few mornings ago. I have been working on the idea ever since and it keeps getting better. It’s going to be a novella instead of a novel, I think, because the pacing that will be required won’t allow more than probably 20-25,000 words. We’ll see what happens though.

I hope to keep my writing habits strong even after November. Writing for a word count rather than what I feel like. I have found that knowing how many words I want has been tremendously helpful in pushing through anxiety or boredom I may have encountered during my writing. Where, previously, I would take a break and maybe not go back to it for a week or so, some of my best writing for the last 50,000 words has come from pushing through the “I don’t wanna’s”

So that’s my NaNo update for today. I will keep you updated as more words pour out and more lessons are learned. (I actually had two or three things last night that I had decided to put into this blog when I updated it but now I can’t remember what they are)

Now, to reward myself, I am going to start a new book. 

How is everyone else doing? What are your word counts? Do you think you’ll hit your goals?

 

-M-

NaNo Update #2

Hi guys!

Just wanted to give you a quick update and some more things I have learned.

It’s about 1 p.m on the West Coast on Day 11 and I have just passed 41,000 words. My goal is to end the day with 45,000 and hit 50,000 tomorrow. (may or may not happen. I have to go into the newspaper for a few hours tomorrow which will naturally cut into my writing time) I should be done hopefully by the 13th and then I will get back to more not NaNo updates on here. I will continue writing throughout the month. Hopefully I can hit about 100,000 words by the end of the month (giving me space to cut about 15-20,000 words in editing and still being within a range that publishers like from first time authors) and have it completely edited and re-written by January. I will not, however, after my 50,000 words make it a goal to write 3-5,000 words a day most days.

While I still know where I am going and how I am getting there, I am less happy with my work over the last two days than my work from the previous week. I will have to read it all when I’m finished and not in the throes of writing it to see if I am wrong.

A few more things I have figured out doing NaNo for the first time:

1) I have always really liked noise while I work. Sometimes I prefer quiet just in general but usually I want something in the background. Netflix is my favorite for this. But I have also discovered I write much much slower when I have something-even just music-on. So it becomes a debate for me. If I know exactly what is happening and need to write an intense battle or something like that I will sit in quiet. Or if I am really close to hitting my daily word goal I might put something on in the background. Lately it has been Christmas music (yes in November), a Christmas movie (Santa Claus for the win!) Supernatural, or more recently Chuck.

2) I write characters that I love and then I plot their deaths.
This is pretty morbid, I know, but hear me out. I have found myself thinking of ways to kill my characters as I write them-particularly the ones I really love. Now, I’m not necessarily going to kill my characters. The characters I am going to kill are already written down in my not-quite-an-outline outline that I keep redoing because I keep changing the order of my chapters. BUT, sometimes occasions arise that you didn’t know were going to come up that are going to require you to kill a character you have fallen in love with. It’s really hard to do that and far more tempting to write around it. But, sometimes, you have to do it. For the emotional impact of the story or to move the story along etc…if you have already cordoned off a piece of your soul that has said goodbye it’s much easier to do what is best for your story than what is best for your emotional stability as the writer.

3) I have found it far more difficult to sit down and read while I am writing so much. I might be the only one, but right now I am spending the majority of the day sitting at various locations and writing. Writing articles, blogs or the 5000 words a day in my novel. When I get to the end of my word count and my articles are done I have little desire to read.
Actually, that’s not true. I keep looking at my table full of books (see my “What’s In My Queue” blog) for me to read and my nightstand of books I am currently reading and I really want to pick them up and delve into them and find new characters and adventures.
But I haven’t been able to. I keep getting lost in my own characters or the next interview I have to do or I am so exhausted by words at a certain point that I just want to sit and relax and not think about them for a bit.
This might make me a bad person. If it does, know that I feel really guilty that it’s the eleventh and finished any books yet this month, but NaNo is kind of taking over my life. We’ll see if I can get back into it by December in between editing sessions.

That’s it for now. I am going to stop staring at my screen for a bit and then get back to my novel.

How is everyone else doing in their projects? If you need inspiration look at my “NaNo Descends” Post I have with great links to keep you inspired.

-M-

A Quick NaNoWriMo Update…

Hey guys!

I promised to try and keep you apprised of what was going on with my NaNo project.

It is day four and I am just shy of 18,000 words. I might make it a goal to hit 18,000 before the day is out but Im not sure yet. I still have to write a newspaper article that is due tomorrow night. (But I like to beat my deadlines just in case)

I’m enjoying this.

Some things I have found that have helped me keep going:

1)My goal has not been to hit 2000 words a day or something like that. My goal has been to hit a certain number of words in my story. Day one I didn’t get to do much because my boyfriend was recording guitar for the next album and I was in there with him and then we went and hung out with his mother who was moving out of state the next day. I still hit a little under 2500 words so I made it a goal the next day to hit 7500 and then yesterday my goal was 10,000 which I surpassed by nearly 2000 words and today my goal was 17,000. Having a goal in mind for how many words I want in my story rather than how many words I want to write has been the most effective way to keep me staring at my screen and coming up with the next part even when it gets frustrating. I think when NaNoWriMo is over I will keep doing that with other projects I work on.

2) I’ve been super prepared with beverages etc…I bought a four pack of Monster Ultra(delicious), brewed some coffee, bought some almonds and filled several water bottles with water/mio fit. so they would be cold when I wanted them and I could just alternate through water bottles for the majority of the month.
I put butter, protein powder, coconut oil and pumpkin spice in my coffee in the morning so I don’t get hungry throughout the day but still am getting nutrients that I need and the bonus of that recipe is that it is good for you, designed to wake you up and keep you awake without a crash. Not getting hungry is especially important when I’m on a roll but I start to shake because my blood sugar is low. Shaking hands are hard to type with let me tell you. I eat the bbq almonds if I want to munch and then drink whatever makes me happy throughout the day. If I feel like I am still in creativity mode but my well is draining, I grab a monster. It has really worked so far.

3)I follow people on my blogs who are really fast workers and who post about it a lot. On my tumblr there was a girl who hit 10,000 words on day 2. Then, unfortunately, she lost steam and before she could get back to it her drive deleted all of her work 😦 But I thought (since I’m competitive) if she could write nearly 7,000 words in a day then I could write at least 5,000. Why not?

And that’s my NaNo update for the moment.

How are all of you doing in your novels? What have you found helps you push through the fog that can be induced when staring at a screen for hours at a time?

-M-

What’s In My Queue?

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My boyfriend and I recently acquired new furniture after 3 years of terrible furniture. My mother-in-law is moving to Arizona so we inherited some of her stuff.

Among these things is an end table that matches our new, very lovely coffee table. Prior to having the end table I had books I was reading or getting ready to read scattered in piles around my house. Since acquiring the table, they have all moved to one glorious place of chaos.

Which inspired an idea I could do monthly or bi-monthly called “What’s in my queue?” Which will be the top ten books sitting on my coffee table. (I currently have 33 including a couple on my Kindle) After I list what I have here, I will review the books throughout the month as I get to them. (Probably will not get to 10 per month but I’ll always have something to write about)

These books are in no particular order and I likely won’t read them in the order that I write about them (though if I get stumped as to what to pick next I could always move down the list)

I am also going to make it a goal to not repeat authors on my list. For example, I have 3 Terry Pratchett books waiting for me but only one will be featured per post.

With that, I introduce the very first “What’s In My Queue” segment
(cue gameshow music)

1) Wizard’s First Rule-Terry Goodkind

Brief Synopsis(From the back cover) “In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher’s forest sanctuary seeking help…and more. His world, his very beliefs are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence.’
‘In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword–to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed…or that their time has run out.’
‘This is the beginning. One book. One Rule. Witness the birth of a legend”

I have had this book sitting on my shelf since the early 2000’s. Every time I am looking for a new book to read, it goes into my pile before eventually migrating back to the shelf from whence it came. (Lord of the Rings joke…get it…get it…All right moving on) I don’t know why it has taken me so long to read. Actually that’s not true. The reason is because it is a fourteen book series with two spin off books that were recently released and another on the way. It’s such a commitment and guys…I have 33 other books to read just on my table! Lets not count the number that haven’t migrated off of my shelf yet. I don’t need to add 17 more to it! That being said, I did recently start it and I am enjoying it. It is a fantasy book with all of it’s fantasy tropes in tact. It’s well written and interesting, if slow. I’m about 25% through it and I am looking forward to finishing it.

I finally picked it up and started it because my dad has read it for years and he periodically re-reads them(He’s the reason I bought the first one to begin with) and, when I was thinking about it, a girl I was working with at the time had started the series and loved it. She was so enthusiastic that I had to start reading it.

2) Dodger-Terry Pratchett
Brief Synopsis(from the back cover): “Dodger is a tosher- a sewer scavenger living in the squalor of Victorian London. Everyone who is nobody knows him. Anybody who is anybody doesn’t. He used to know his own future; it involved a lot of brick-lined tunnels and plenty of filth. But when Dodger rescues a young girl from a beating, meets Charles Dickns, and encounters Sweeney Todd, things start to get really messy.’
‘Now everyone who is anyone wants to get their hands on Dodger…”

I have a thing for author’s named Terry. This was not something I realized about myself until I realized how many of the books on my reading table were by authors named Terry. Terry Pratchett, Goodkind and Brooks being prominently featured.

I adore Pratchett’s “Discworld” series more than I can possibly express. It makes me so very happy. It’s dry and you really have to like English humor but it’s amazing. I have read the Rincewind Saga in it’s entirety and am now working my way through the Death Saga. I love his stand alone discworld novels equally, by the way. I recommend “Small Gods” for everybody.

I also thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed “Good Omens” By Pratchett and Gaiman.

But I wanted to give something not Discworld or Gaiman related a try. He has a sci-fi series that I will eventually buy and then read but for now I wanted to stick to humor.

I was in Powell’s on my trip to Oregon(you lucky Oregonians and your amazing bookstores) It’s gorgeous. A book lovers dream. If you get a chance, take a trip to Portland just to see their five story, one city block wide bookstore that is only one of several Powell’s in the state. It’s not even the only Powell’s in the city.

Anyway, I was in Powell’s and went looking for Terry Pratchett because…you know. Dodger caught my eye. It sounded funny and was not Discworld related so I picked it up. Here’s hoping I love it as much as his other books.

3)The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
Brief synopsis(written by me) A.J Jacobs was raised in a secular family but had become increasingly curious over the relevance of faith in the modern world. After his year writing “Know-It-All”, A.J Jacobs decides to throw himself entirely into the Bible. Following every rule and guideline laid down in the Bible. From the 10 commandments, Be Fruitful and Multiply to the lesser known play a 10 string harp and Stone Adulterers along with hundreds of others. He will immerse himself in prayer, tend sheep in the Israeli Deserts and dance with Hasidic Jews among with other hilarious adventures that will make you see history’s most influential book with new eyes.

I am among the least religious people you will ever meet without being a full on Atheist. My view on the Bible is that it is a wonderful fairy tale with stories intended to scare children into behaving just like we tell them stories of the boogie man or the one armed man (if you are an older brother looking to terrify his little sisters…yeah…I’m looking at you) I do not, in any way shape or form see the Bible as a literal book or as a book that should be the basis for deciding laws.

I bought this because the worst thing for me about some (yes…some) religious people is that they pick and choose what they want to read from the book and ignore the rest because it’s outdated. There are so many rules that the Bible lays down that most people who claim to follow the Bible literally completely ignore.

So this book intrigues me and I look forward to seeing what I learn from it. Or at least laughing as he gets mistaken for ZZ Top as his beard grows long and unruly.

4) Allegiant-Veronica Roth
Brief Synopsis(From Inside Cover)” The faction based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered-fractured by violence and and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties,and painful memories’
‘But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature- and of herself-while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.”

I read the other two books in about a week after the second one came out. Loved the first one. Thought it was great. I picked them up because they were compared to the Hunger Games which I had liked relatively well and a woman I was working with at Big 5 said she loved them and couldn’t wait for the third to come out.

I was not such a huge fan of the second one. I thought it was all right and was intrigued enough to get through it quickly. But I felt that Veronica Roth fell victim to a classic problem a lot of authors seem to struggle with when their main character is a girl who falls in love.

Tris spent the majority of the second book curled up in a ball crying over her boyfriend. Which annoyed the hell out of me. In Divergent she is strong and she is smart and she is capable and she doesn’t need anyone. She turns away from her family, which was immensely difficult for her but she handles it well. In the second she loses everything that makes her Tris for me.

Insurgent ends on a cliff hanger that you see coming the entire book but that is still exciting and interesting. Veronica Roth has set herself up to do some amazing things with this book. I really hope she has re-found Tris’s voice and delivered the ending I believe she is capable of giving.

5) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Brief Synopsis(From Inside Cover)- “Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary people extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.’
‘Epics are no friends of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man, you must crush his will.’
‘Now, in what was once Chicago, an astonishingly powerful Epic named Steelheart has installed himself as emperor. Steelheart possesses the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said that no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, and no fire can burn him. He is invincible. Nobody fights back…nobody but the Reckoners.’
‘A shadowy group of ordinary humans, the Reckoners spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses and then assassinating them. And David wants in.’
‘When Steelheart came to Chicago, he killed David’s Father. For years, like the Reckoners, David has been studying, and planning, and he has something they need. Not an object, but experience.
‘He has seen Steelheart bleed’
‘And he wants revenge”

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan of Sanderson. I went through a phase recently where I read everything by Sanderson I could get my hands on. So it might surprise some people when I tell you I am actually skeptical on this one.

It sounds a great deal like Sanderson mashed up two of his previous books -“Elantris” and “Warbreaker” and put them into a semi YA fantasy book.

That being said, I liked Warbreaker and Elantris was intriguing but it didn’t keep me interested long enough to get past the halfway point despite the face that I was interested in the plot (Elantris will likely be featured on a future episode of “What’s In My Queue”)

I am looking forward to reading it, but I approach it with cautious optimism.

6) Til We Have Faces-C.S. Lewis
Brief Synopsis(from back cover)-“Haunted by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C.S. Lewis wrote this, his last, extraordinary novel, to retell their story through the gaze of Psyche’s sister, Orual. Disfigured and embittered, Orual loves her younger sister to a fault and suffers deeply when she is sent away to Cupid, the God of the Mountain. Psyche is forbidden to look upon the god’s face, but is persuaded by her sister to do so; she is banished for her betrayal. Orual is left alone to grow in power but never in love, to wonder at the silce of the gods. Only at the end of her life, in visions of her lost beloved sister, will she hear an answer”

The Cupid and Psyche myth is one of the first stories I read as a child. I remember vividly talking to my mother about her love of Greek Mythology when she reaches up to one of our very tall(compared to short, five year old me) and brings down an Arizona sand colored book with a lovely dust jacket depicting a woman with gold hair. It was Cupid and Psyche and I loved it.

Fast forward nearly two decades and I was at Sirens in Washington looking at books I should not have been buying when this caught my eye. First, that it was by C.S. Lewis and second that the subtitle to the book was “A Novel of Cupid and Psyche” What sealed it for me was the quote on the back “I saw well why the Gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer…why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face til we have faces”

I was so struck by that, especially coming from “Mere Christianity”‘s Lewis. I listened to a paper on the book after buying it which really cemented my excitement for this book.

“Til We Have Faces” is a book about not only the lies we tell others, but about the lies we tell ourselves to feel justified. Looking back at her life at the end, Orual reflects on her bitterness and the things she has done for both good reasons and terrible.

7) His Dark Materials Trilogy-Phillip Pullman
Brief Synopsis of Book One (from amazon.com)”Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle—a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle. “

Amazingly, I have not read a single one of these three. I know I should. I know they’re supposed to be amazing. Yet, they always come off my shelf and then go back like “Wizard’s First Rule”

I think when I tried to read them before I wasn’t ready for them. I wasn’t in a place where I could delve into fantasy of this sort easily. I think I can now though. I’ve also never seen the movie so I really don’t know much about what I am getting into.

I don’t remember what prompted me to buy this omnibus. I think it was just calling my name, as books do, and I listened.

8)Cold Magic-Kate Elliot
Brief Synopsis (from back cover) “Cat Barahal was the only survivor of the flood that took her parents. Raised by her extended family, she and her cousin, Bee, are unaware of the dangers that threaten them both. It is the dawn of a new age, but ancient powers still hold sway.’
‘Now, betrayed by her family and forced to marry a powerful cold mage, Cat will be drawn into a labyrinth of politics. There she will learn the full ruthlnessness of their rule. What do the cold mages want from her? And who will help Cat in her struggle against them.”

I’m going to be completely honest here, I did not really pick this up of my own volition. If a friend whom I trust a great deal had not assured me of it’s quality and had it not been talked about with such fervor at Sirens and had I not met Kate Elliot and thought she seemed like a really nice person, I would not have picked up this book. I still don’t know that I am sold on it 100%. Mostly, I think, I am worried that this is going to fall prey to the same issue so many YA/Adult Fantasy novels fall into when they have a female lead.

I’m afraid the powerful strong female lead is going to curl into a ball and cry for a whole book after she is awesome in the first book. It happened in Hunger Games, it happened in the Divergent Series. Even Sanderson did it in the second book and a half of the Mistborn series. So I’m cautiously optimistic about this one as well. But I am optimistic.

9) The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol 1 by Diana Wynne Jones
Brief Synopsis(from back cover) “The Chants are a family strong in magic, but neither Christopher nor Cat can work even the simplest of spells. So how can they hope to thwart the schemes of an avaricious enchanter and a ruthless young witch-schemes that could destroy all the worlds of Chrestomanci?”

I have read this one before. There are 3 volumes, each with two books inside. I read volume 1 and volume 2 soooo very many years ago. I was in probably fifth or sixth grade last time I read these.

On a whim not too long ago, I searched for Diana Wynne Jones and discovered a 3rd Chrestomanci Volume. I was very excited. I love these books and still remember the stories and some of the imagery she describes still haunts me despite how long ago I read them.

I’ve decided to re-read volumes 1 and 2 before venturing into the 3rd so I can become re-acquainted with the worlds. I’ve thought endlessly about picking up the books again after that first read but I could never really justify it. I’m ALWAYS buying new books and always have STACKS of books I am working my way through. How can I take the time to read a book I’ve already read when all of these books are clamoring for my attention.

Well…that excuse has arisen and I am taking it thank you very much.

10) Running With the Demon (the Word and the Void bk 1)-Terry Brooks
Brief Synopsis(from amazon.com) “On the hottest Fourth of July weekend in decades, two men have come to Hopewell, Illinois, site of a lengthy, bitter steel strike. One is a demon, dark servant of the Void, who will use the anger and frustration of the community to attain a terrible secret goal. The other is John Ross, a Knight of the Word, a man who, while he sleeps, lives in the hell the world will become if he fails to change its course on waking. Ross has been given the ability to see the future. But does he have the power to change it?’
‘At stake is the soul of a fourteen-year-old girl mysteriously linked to both men. And the lives of the people of Hopewell. And the future of the country. This Fourth of July, while friends and families picnic in Sinnissippi Park and fireworks explode in celebration of freedom and independence, the fate of Humanity will be decided . . .”

I was tickled just absolutely pink to find this trilogy because I have been looking for it for more than a decade.

I read the first book when I was in later Elementary school. Probably sixth grade, maybe fifth. I loved the first book. I wrote down the title so I could look and see if there were more. I made a mental note of the author so I could look him up if I forgot the title.

Well…I lost the title and forgot the authors name. The only thing I could really think to describe it was that it had demons and one of the demons that was described reminded me of the Heartless from Kingdom Hearts. Not a whole lot to go on.

A few times a year over the years I would do a Google search, an Amazon search and/or a Barnes&Noble/Borders search. Nothing. Do you know how many books with demon in the title there are? A lot. A lot. Just searching for this book to get the synopsis brought up so many books(Demon erotica is a thing. Did you know that? I didn’t know that)

Alas…it seemed to search was pointless.

Then, a few weeks ago, my father-in-law was down to fix Sam’s car which had been having issues and we were trying to get ready to drive to Oregon. Robert is a mechanic and offered to drive the four hours down from Round Mountain where he lives to help us out. I love my father-in-law, but I digress.

Anyway, I was talking to his wife about books. She loves to read as much as I do and she and I always geek out when they are in town.

She’s a big Terry Brooks fan. All I really knew about him was Sword of Shannara and Magic Kingdom of Landover. She recommended I look into the Word and the Void series because it’s her favorite and so I did.

I got really excited when I looked it up. I was like “is this the book…this can’t be the book…” after reading one of the summaries so I downloaded a sample to my kindle. The book seemed awfully familiar but I still just couldn’t be sure. So I chanced some spoilers and looked at Wikipedia.

One of the first things they mention are the demons that look the heartless.

I screamed like a Twilight fangirl meeting Robert Pattinson. Only for a much better reason. I was alone so it was far less embarrassing than it could have been. I texted Sam and I texted Blanca(who recommended them to me) I even posted about it on Facebook I was so stoked.

So I guess I’ll read this book. If I have to. I guess. 😉

Honorable mention books:
Artemis FowL-Eoin Colfer
Moving Pictures-Terry Pratchett
The Time Traveller’s Wife-Audrey Niffenegger.

I’m more than 3/4 done with the above honorable mentions so I didn’t feel they belonged in my list. I probably won’t write reviews for two of those three. I may write about Artemis Fowl. I’ve read it many times and I feel it is underrated and more people should know about it, and Eoin Colfer in general.

And that’s my first ten books from “What’s in My Queue” I hope you enjoyed it. I will get back to you with reviews as soon as I finish any of the books on this list and probably when I finish books that were not on this list.

If you liked this or there is something you would like to see featured here, let me know in the comments.

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-M-