Posts Tagged With: Fiction

What’s on Your Summer Reading List?

book stack
Aaaahhh summer. Sun, sun, sun, lots of sun, sun and more sun.

Sadly, I’m likely to burst into flame if I spend too much time in direct sunlight.

Thank goodness for shade, AC*, hard apple cider and looooong summer reading lists.

 

Here’s what I recently crossed off my list:

  • Stephen King’s The Shining (reread after more than twenty years)
  • Barry Eisler’s Rain Storm (book three of his John Rain series…also known as Winner Take All)
  • Tessa Gratton’s The Blood Keeper (book two of her Blood Journals series)
  • Jim Butcher’s Storm Front (book one of his Dresden Files series)
  • Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes (book one of his Bill Hodges Trilogy)
  • Michael Connelly’s 9 Dragons (book fourteen of his Harry Bosch series)

 

Here’s what’s still on the list:

  • Barry Eisler’s A Clean Kill in Tokyo (book one of the John Rain series)
  • James Rollins’ The 6th Extinction (book ten of his Sigma Force series) and The Bone Labyrinth (book eleven…out later this summer or fall)
  • Tessa Gratton’s Blood Magic (book one of the Blood Journals series)
  • George RR Martin’s Winds of Winter (really, really, really hoping it comes out this year)
  • Jim Butcher’s Fool Moon and Grave Peril (books two and three of the Dresden Files…and every other Dresden Files book…I’m a latecomer to the series but I’d heard much fanfare and book one impressed me much)
  • Stephen King’s Finders Keepers (book two of the Bill Hodges Trilogy)
  • Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter’s Final Cut and Dexter is Dead (books seven and eight of the Dexter Morgan series)
  • Emma Donoghue’s Room

*Prayers going out to all of those around the world suffering through intense heat waves.

What’s on your summer reading list and what are you most looking forward to reading? Have you caught any of the books on my list? What did you think?

Photo Credit
book stack, mine

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Why the Advice You Hate the Most is Right

May I confess something to you?

No? Well, I’m going to anyway.

Because it’s my blog.

And, also, I don’t have anything else to write about today.

I’m a pantser by nature. I hate schedules. I frequently have no idea what I’m going to fix for dinner before lunch and usually have no idea what my weekend plans are going to be until it’s actually the weekend. I fly by the seat of my pants.

And it works.

Sort of.

There’s a lot to be said for spontaneity. But it often is the enemy of actually getting stuff done. Sure, we might spontaneously decide to do the laundry backlog, start exercising, finish a novel…someday. But something that needs our attention right now is bound to come up, most especially when we’ve spontaneously started a project.

And some things, when left up to spontaneity, get pushed to the bottom of the list almost every time.

Like laundry–who needs to wash socks when you can wear flip-flops?

And novels. Especially novels.

Life’s distractions breed like tribbles the moment you start a novel (the way goodies multiply when you start a fitness plan). And they only pick up steam as you go along.

The solution, of course, is to make time. Set goals and tell people about them. Come up with at least a rudimentary schedule and stick to it. Come up with a system for accountability.

I know this. How well I know this. I’ve had success with this before in both NaNo and ROW80.

And yet, I struggle nonetheless.

Call it a defect of character, a lack of priorities, a distractible mind, or project ADD. Call it fear: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of dust bunnies. Call it procrastination (which itself is probably the nasty afterbirth of fear).

Whatever you call the thing, the end result is the same.

The novel left up to chance to write will not get written.

This is why NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced) is so great. You join NaNo, set a goal for 50,000 words for by the end of November, tell the world about it, avail yourself of the NaNo community and write like hell for a month.

This last November, I decided to make NaNoWriMo my spring-board for finishing my work-in-progress. I’d plotted and written part of a previous version of this novel, only to discover the story had mortal wounds. Once I recovered from that unpleasant discovery, I took the opportunity to plot a better story using most of the characters, premise and concept of the previous story. I’d mostly finished when NaNo rolled around.

Perfect timing. A chance to get a solid start (50K words should be half or more of the novel) and form good writing habits. Forcing myself to plan for daily word counts. A deadline hanging over my head. Community support. The thrill of victory should I complete the challenge. What could be better?

And it worked. I won NaNo and formed a habit for writing daily. In fact, daily writing became easier and much more pleasant. I looked forward to the blank page instead of dreading it.

Once I finished NaNo, I imagined I wouldn’t actually have to worry about setting word count goals. I’d have so much momentum built up from NaNo, I’d just keep writing…

Spontaneously.

Go ahead. Laugh now. I’ve earned it.

It didn’t take long for the lack of specific daily goals, deadlines and a system of accountability to show its rotten fruit. My productivity dropped off and I began dragging my feet when it came time to write. Distractions popped up with greater number and increased power. And much of the writing I did do felt off, forced and more than crappy-first-draft crappy.

I hate when they (the ones who talk about goal setting, scheduling, yada yada yada) are right. But I can’t deny they are.

So here I am, back on the wagon, however reluctantly. I’m shooting for 1K words daily and at least 4K words a week (allowing for days off so I don’t go NaNo nuts…those of you who’ve been there know what I’m talking about). I aim to have the first draft complete by February 28.

There and, now that I’ve told you all, I really can’t weasel out of it.

Crap.

But I’ll thank myself when my novel is done. Finally.

I’m finding a few things helpful as I go along.

I use Scrivener (an all-in-one writing software program for writers) and I love having the Project Goals feature visible as I write so I can see my progress.

I have the WriteChain app (an awesome, simple app that allows you to choose your word count and writing day goals and gives you a link for each day you meet your goal) on my phone and I absolutely, positively refuse to break the chain. I’ve got 80 links so far, which includes NaNaWriMo and I stretched the coast days during the holidays.

diyMFA has excellent advice on setting and testing goals for writing (which could apply to any goal). I’m collecting data now for my own iteration process.

And Derek Hawkins has a great suggestion on his blog for keeping yourself motivated (*hint* it can involve chocolate).

How do you keep yourself on track with a big writing (or other) project? What tools and tricks work for you?

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Something Stolen…

Red RoseToday, I thought I’d share an enjoyable read with you. If you like action, humor, thrills, a dash of romance, and some heavy, thought-provoking content all held together with a thread of hope, you’ll probably love Piper Bayard’s and Jay Holmes’s Spy Bride, part of the Risky Brides set. I had the chance to read an advanced copy (thank you, thank you, thank you, Piper and Jay) and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The story opens with bride-to-be, Sonia Perez (spectacular choice of protagonist names, by the way), shopping for her trousseau with her fabulous mother Kathleen, when a *ahem* fluffy Santa falls from a balcony and squashes a courier (thief?) carrying something very interesting. And everything goes downhill (in a very good way) from there.

I loved that the story was funny and light without diminishing the darker, scarier elements. I may be a bit of a weirdo, but I like my darkness shot through with rays of hope (that’s why I like to write horror). Spy Bride did the trick for me. My only complaint is that I would’ve liked to see the story play out novel-length because I just wanted, well, more.

*Psst* Kathleen is my favorite character. I must see more of her. Soon.

Piper and Jay are running a special Risky Brides event. If you’d like to get in on the action, head on over.

***

What’s your favorite recent read?

Photo Credit:
Red Rose, mine.

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Shows You Hate to Love

Now that The Walking Dead is back, we can all stop chewing our fingernails worrying about the gang surviving the boxcar. Now we can go on worrying about Beth and whether all our beloved characters are going to survive the rest of the season with their lives or their humanity intact.

Boxcar door by David Brossard on Flickr

This is why I hate to love TWD.

It’s not that I don’t expect characters to die, even main characters, especially in a world crawling with flesh-eating monsters (oh, and zombies too) it’s just that I want them to have a satisfying death that fits the storyline without cutting their story arc too short. Is that too much to ask? *grumble mutter grumble*

Of course, I’ll (probably) keep watching even if they bump off what I consider the non-negotiable characters.

And, if I do get tired of hating to love TWD, there’s always the other show I hate to love, Game of Thrones (the hate-to-love goes quadruple for the books by the way). Darn that George R. R. Martin for making characters we try so hard not to love because just know he’s going to bump them off sooner or later. There’s a reason why he’s known as the most infamous serial killer in fiction after all.

***

What about you? What shows or books do you hate to love and why?

Photo Credit: Boxcar door by David Brossard on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Legible Feasts

Delicious food and good books. My two favorite recreational drugs (Oh, and Netflix. That too). Sometimes those things come together to make for a delicious reading experience or a novel meal.

Now, while I may have run to the pantry and frantically rooted around for something – anything – after drooling on pages describing a feast at Hogwarts or King’s Landing or an impromptu meal at Kay Scarpetta’s, I’ve never actually tried to cook anything from a novel.

Until recently *blush*, I didn’t even know there were cookbooks inspired by some of my favorite stories. Much to my delight, I discovered there are quite a few tasty cookbooks, official and unofficial, born of a hungry imagination.

Here are five, for your reading and dining pleasure:

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dina Bucholz, boasting such recipes as Knickerbocker Glory, Pumpkin Pasties and Peppermint Humbugs.

The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook, also by Dina Bucholz, including recipes for Turkish Delight and Pigeon Stew with Wood Sorrel.

Food to Die For: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta’s Kitchen by Patricia Cornwell and Marlene Brown, with Kay’s Grilled Pizza and Lasagna  *drool*.

The Unofficial Recipes of the Hunger Games by Rockridge University Press, featuring Greasy Sae’s Badger Stew (yum?), Arena Beef Strips Gamemakers’ Suckling Pig.

And last, but absolutely not least, A Feast of Ice & Fire by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, with Honey-Spiced Locusts (you may want to have a poison taster take the first bite), Lemon Cakes and Bowl of Brown (probably best not to ask).

The LiteraryTraveler also explores delicious reads: 7 Cookbooks Inspired by Literature.

Writing this post has left me hungry enough to eat an aurochs.

Of course, they’re extinct.

I guess I’ll have to make do with a taco.

***

What novels leave you hankering for a bite? Have you ever prepared food inspired by your favorite books?

 

 

 

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

When is Getting Stuck the Best Thing?

I tend to write the way I live (or maybe I live the way I write), a sometimes-awkward hybrid between planning and winging it.

Writers often define themselves as either  plotter (planner) or pantser (that sometimes flaky person who considers herself spontaneous). While I’m no longer a die-hard pantser, I’m also not entirely a plotter. I’m somewhere between. A plantser, if you will. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Best Movies for the Kid in You

Leap Frong - Kids Playing At The Park Image by JefferyTurner (Jeff Turner)

If you have kid(s) in your life, you probably know that hanging out with them is the best excuse to act like a kid yourself. No, not the messy, tantrumy, “I’m telling Mom!” kinda kid stuff. The seeing the world with fresh eyes, playing dolls/legos, having an epic adventure in the backyard/living-room, acting goofy in public without shame kinda stuff.

And then there’s the kids movies. Even if you don’t have a kiddo to use as cover, there are some made-for-kids-beloved-by-grownups movies you just gotta see.

Here are some of my current favorites: Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What’s the Hardest Part of Writing?

Literary cat by SuziJane (Suzi Duke) on Flickr

“It was a dark and stormy night….” Yeah, that’s the stuff. This is gonna be a best-seller for sure.

Recently, I’ve come across a few discussions that touch on, in one way or another, the hardest part of writing.

So what is the hardest part of writing?

Well now, that varies from writer to writer.

For me, the hardest part of writing is the actual writing. Allow me to explain… Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Doing the Write Thing for a Good Cause

Fundraising Anthology for a Fellow Writer

Group Hug - IRecently, we talked about how much goodness we can do for one another when the chips are down. When something as big as Hurricane Sandy strikes and people respond with generosity and kindness, the whole world hears about it.

But when a storm strikes in the life of just one person or family and others pour out their love, we don’t always get to hear about unless it’s someone close to us. Or unless you factor in the power of social media. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fattening Up Your Word Count for NaNoWriMo

Is it Cheating to Use Tricks to Get to 50K?

skinny black cat with back arched

I have to write how many words a day?!

50,000 words in 30ish days. That’s the NaNoWriMo goal and it breaks down to about 1667 words a day.

For some, word counts in the thousands a day is routine. For others (*cough cough* like me), this is no small feat.

Prior to NaNo, I averaged about 5-600 words a day. 750 was a pretty good day. And 100o was cause for a parade and statue erected in my honor (in my head, anyway).

Of course, I was also hand writing all those words. So that may have played a big part.

Coming up on November, the idea of hitting 1667 daily was nothing short of terrifying.

But then I remembered reading a post on padding your word count for NaNoWriMo and 750Words.com. At the time, I ignored the advice. Sounded like a good idea but I didn’t think I needed it.

And I didn’t need it for 750 words but for 1600-2K?

Well…maybe. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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