Time to catch up on my reading

Photo Credit: Flickr by denasmi

Photo Credit: Flickr by denasmi

This week, my fam is at the beach. I have high hopes for sunny days, sunburn-free skin, and shark-free waters (we are south of Oak Island, NC, which was the site of two shark attacks a few weeks ago. Yeah, not getting in the water this trip.) Both kids have brought along friends, so the week should zip by with much laughter and fun.


Photo Credit: Flickr by goXunuReviews

I came prepared with a kindle loaded with new books, old books patiently waiting on my TBR list, and a WIP or two. Fingers crossed I get through many words. And if not, that’s okay too.

Have a great week!

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015: Will you commit?

Photo Credit: Flickr by Moyan Brenn

Photo Credit: Flickr by Moyan Brenn

I signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge last month. Accountability is a personal motivator, so this should help me keep track of my reading and encourage me to read more. I set my goal for the year at 30 books, but was aware of the larger numbers some folks were throwing around. The temptation to raise my number to be more competitive was hard to ignore, but I managed to stand my ground. I’ve set myself up to fail before with stellar expectations that require sacrifices and unnecessary stress. So while my goal does not seem too lofty, it seems doable. And that’s a good starting point.

( And reading serves as an opportunity to learn as well as an opportunity to escape. I find myself thinking about specific sentences… their structure and efficiency… as well as the nuances of the plot and identifiable traits of the characters. I don’t want reading to become a chore. Chores take the fun out of everything.)

So far by mid-February, I’ve made progress.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 4.46.12 PM

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Remote by Lisa Acerbo, and Take Me There by Carolee Dean complete my list as of now. Next, I have plans to tackle the many books I added to my kindle… whenever I find my kindle, but that’s a topic for another post.


Want to join in the challenge? Go to Goodreads to get started.

When the Tables Turned

Photo Credit: flickr by regan76

Photo Credit: flickr by regan76

Years ago, my husband and I passed a household rule that prior to watching a movie, you had to read the book. The goal was to help our kids appreciate the value of the written word. (And also, we wanted them to recognize that what your mind creates is almost always better than a produced movie.) Through the years, there were a few moans and groans from the kids, but mainly acceptance. And occasionally, we’d miss the fact that a movie actually began as a book and all earned an immediate pass.

Earlier this year when The Fault in Our Stars movie trailers were released, the book started getting a lot of attention. Several of my daughter’s friends recommended that she read TFIOS.  And since my daughter wanted to see the movie, she asked for the book.  TFIOS was quickly devoured during Spring break.

And then she started the “you need to read this” campaign. You see, I’d been there, nestled on a chair, reading one of John Green’s books before. It was last summer when I stumbled upon Looking for Alaska. I’d never heard of John Green at that time, but loved his book. But I pushed back on reading The Fault in Our Stars. It’s not that I didn’t want to read his work, but John Green had already reached into my heart and tampered with my emotions until they bubbled up to the surface, demanding to be felt.* (TFIOS reference)

As the release date for the movie grew closer, my daughter started asking me when I was going to read. I continued to put it off, saying I’d get around to it. All the while, I was buying myself more time. And then she turned the tables on me. She wanted to go see the movie with ME and she wanted to talk about the book.

Alas, I couldn’t circumvent a rule we’d established. So this week, I read TFIOS and today, she and I are going to see the movie.

I’m not posting a book review because I would be one of thousands singing the praises of John Green, but I am glad that he’s writing books that my daughter wants to read. (and me too)

Do you like reading the book before you see the movie? Do you ever read a book after you’ve seen the movie?


Read, write, and repeat

Photo Credit: Mike Sayre

Photo Credit: Mike Sayre

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” – Stephen King


Photo Credit: Flickr by John Ryan Brubaker

Photo Credit: Flickr by John Ryan Brubaker

So, what happens when you’re elbow deep in a new WIP and your manuscript edits come back? Well, you drop what you’re doing, read the edit letter and the notes in the margins about your prose (several times because it has to sink in), and dive in to make revisions. Right?

Right. And that’s what I did. I rolled up my sleeves (not technically, of course, because this is winter and I’m cold-natured), I addressed the items on my revision list, and beefed up my work. And my lovely little WIP that had demanded all my attention before the edit letter came? What happened to it? I gave it the ultimate cold shoulder. I didn’t even think about it while I revised my previous ms. It became an it. Total shun, I tell you.

And now, three weeks later, with my first round of edits returned, I opened my WIP file.

Maybe I was expecting too much… I thought I would open the file and the story would race back through my head. I thought words would flow, adding to the tale I started with vim and vigor. But that’s not what happened. I opened my file and felt like someone blindfolded me, forced me to play dizzy-izzy three times, and dropped me in a corn-field maze. Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But just a little. At first, I was frustrated and then I realized, I was just… lost.

As it turns out, my reaction was my mind’s (and maybe my WIP’s) way of saying, “Hey, things are a little mixed up here. Let’s straighten this out.” I’m still feeling the love for my WIP, but I needed to clean house and get my proverbial ducks in a row before I could resume writing. And many hours and a few dozen crumpled pieces of paper later, I have a new and improved map for my WIP.

So what did I learn? Well, detours and reroutes are sometimes blessings in disguise. And taking a step back from the WIP revealed angles and information I would have otherwise overlooked. Getting lost might just be part of the journey.

A Growing Appreciation


Photo Credit: jm3 on Flicker

Writing has transformed me as a reader.

The list of reasons for the change is practical and holds no surprises. I understand story arcs, pacing, and the role of conflict better now. I look for red herrings, internal friction, and character traits. It’s an evolution as I better understand the craft. But I often feel like a chef tasting someone else’s cooking. I focus on each bite, savoring the flavor and trying to identify the individual spices used. My transformation allows me to enjoy reading on another level. I relish in sentences I want to reread, smile when I find an unexpected story twist, and applaud characters who demand a response from me.

Two books I’ve read this year with fabulous “character ingredients” are:

Finding Alaska by John Green. Loved the dynamic characters who conveyed a sense of their history, their fears and their beliefs through their actions and thoughts.  Loved the philosophical approach to the labyrinth and life.  Wonderful story, wonderfully told.

and Easy by Tamara Webber. This was my first NA read. The complex characters and the struggles they faced made this a very worthwhile read. Her plot pieces fit together well. Pick it up, really.

I read other books, many worth mentioning, which are listed on Goodreads. Check out the list and while you’re there, friend me. Then recommend a book for me.