January Recap – 2018 Reading Challenge

Not much to announce in the writing department. I’ve been focusing my energy on a few other aspects of my life that have been struggling for a bit.

I did manage to get a little reading done in January, checking 4 books off of the 2018 Reading Challenge list.

  • Artemis by Andy Weir (A book set on a different planet)

I really enjoyed The Martian a year or so ago when I read it, so I jumped on the copy of Artemis when I saw it on the Most Wanted Books shelf at my library (which is a display of popular books that are first come-first serve, no holds). While I didn’t enjoy the story as much as The Martian, it was still an interesting and imaginative story involving a smuggler living on the only city on the moon. The details of a potential moon life were curious and well thought out. Biggest downside for me was the amount of swearing and sexual content. Not a fan of that in any writing, so that was my only real complaint.

  • Mind Hunter by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker (True crime)

Okay, this one was fascinating! The history of a FBI agent and the development of the profiling method used to identify serial killers. Ironically, found out that John Douglas went to college for a while in my hometown (though many years before I was born). The content was often disturbing, as it talked about the gruesome murders done around the country. My husband was recently watching a show by the same title on either Netflix or Hulu, which seems inspired by this book based on our compared notes.

  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (A book made into a movie you’ve already seen)

I wasn’t initially sure how easy it’d be to find a book in this category, but a quick Google search pulled Jurassic Park up for me and I happened to have that book on my shelf for some reason (though I’d never read it). The book is similar to the movie, though there were a few differences in who died between the book and the movie, but the discovery of the dinosaurs breeding and how the trouble on the island started was so much more involved and suspenseful! One of my favorite scenes involved a graph of the number of animals in the Park, when the characters realize that the computer counting the dinosaurs had a glitch in it and suddenly you realize that there are way more animals than first thought, especially of the deadly raptors. There was also a great scene involving the T-rex swimming like a crocodile after the protagonists, which I’m terribly bummed they didn’t have in the movie, because the mental image I got was utterly terrifying.

  • The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (A book involving a heist)

Written from the perspective of the protagonist, Michael, who’s in prison for reasons you later discover, The Lock Artist hops back and forth between two points in time in Michael’s life. One deals with his childhood/teen years, detailing how he meets the girl of his dreams and begins to learn how to pick locks and crack safes. The second takes place when he’s on his own, traveling the country to various jobs that need his talents. I had to pay attention to the tops of each chapter to keep from getting confused at what point in time we were at, but I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and the truth was revealed.

Are you participating in the Challenge? What did you read last month?

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2018 Reading Challenge

As promised in my last post, here’s information on the new 2018 Reading Challenge. While there are other reading challenges out there (many with similar categories), I always look up the one on Popsugar.com, simply because that’s the first place I saw the challenge, back in 2015.

I’ve already printed out the challenge and taped it in my shiny new Passion Planner, so I’m all ready to go.

As usual, there are 40 books in the main challenge, plus an additional 12 for “Advanced Readers”.


My goal is to read more than last year (which was 24 books). I’m curious about some of the categories (like a “Nordic noir”) and I have no idea what sort of books I’ll end up reading when I go searching for books that fit the categories.

In the past, I have not counted audio books as part of the challenge (unless the category was specifically “an audio book”), but I think I’m going to relax that just a little this year. Areas of my life are crazy enough that I can’t always sit down to read, but I often can listen to someone else read. So some of the books may be audios digitally checked out through my library (which, by the way, is one of the the best things ever invented!)

Are you going to join the Reading Challenge? What category is the most interesting to you this year? Got any recommendations to get me started?

2017 Reading Challenge Recap

It’s the end of the year and time to tally up the results of the 2017 Reading Challenge. I read 24 of the 52 books on the list, which was a huge improvement over the 8 books I read in 2016.

My top books from 2017 are:

  • Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (A book involving a mythical creature)
  • Wrath by John Gwynne (A novel set during wartime)
  • Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs (A book that’s published in 2017)
  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (A book of letters)
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (A book by a person of color)
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (A book that is a story within a story)

These 6 books were the best reads of the year, either in terms of story, the emotion I felt while reading, or just the simple fact that I could not put them down!

Definitely lost some steam in the reading department later in the year, but overall, I’m pleased with my progress! I’ve already got the 2018 Reading Challenge printed out and I’ll talk more about that in a few days! Hopefully you’ll join me for another year of expanding the reading horizons.

Did you participate in the Challenge this year? What books were your favorites?

Below are all the other books I read this year (in approximate order in which I read them, excluding the books already listed above).

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NaNoWriMo 2017 Conclusion

Day 25: 2186

Day 26: 301

Day 27: 765

Day 28: 2343

Day 29: 194

Day 30: 1685

Someone stop the ride… I want to get off…

I intended on posting my wrap-up for NaNo over a week ago, but it seems like life has been a never ending spin-cycle. The entirety of November was kinda like that and it hasn’t really stopped yet. Had a lot of issues: personal health, financial, vehicular, and weather-related. Had some good times, too, with a visit from my mom, baking Christmas cookies, and seeing my sister perform in a local production of Annie, but overall, it’s been a whirlwind.

The Tinctists is not done, though I’m planning on finishing it and my posts for Redwall Survivor before the turn of the year… if everything else slows down enough that I can focus. My Muse tried to hop a plane to Bermuda again, but I caught her and dragged her back before she got too far.

NaNoWriMo 2017 was one of the most challenging for me and just solidified in my mind two things:

  1. Writing two stories is hard — almost impossible for me right now.
  2. Pantsing is not an efficient, effective, or fun way for me to write.

I’ve continued my winning streak with NaNo, and I did write every day (with my record low for the month being 16 words), but I’m more glad it’s over than I normally am.

Lack of Soundtrack – NaNo2017 – Day 25

Day 21: 2384

Day 22: 1717

Day 23: 1841

Day 24:  1778

Day 25: 1332 (so far)

Normally, when I write, I have a small soundtrack selected early on. Often, it’s because a song helped inspire a scene idea. Last year’s NaNo was initially inspired by a song. My character for Redwall Survivor this year was born from a couple songs (and has continued to be inspired by them). Every year has had a soundtrack.

This year has been more a case of “Eh, this is close and it’s good to write to, but it doesn’t inspire anything.” I’ve got my Spotify playlist, but nothing has really called to me well.

Until the other day, when I was listening to an album by a new group I discovered (who did a Redwall-themed song!). One song came up and suddenly, pieces of The Tinctists began to click together. Though it’s not something that’s going to be all that relevant in this first book, it’s given me a target to shoot for and, more importantly, the big bad guy of the series!

Hunting Plot Bunnies – NaNo2017 – Day 21

Day 17: 1597

Day 18: 1781

Day 19: 2503

Day 20: 1741

Yesterday morning, I sat down with the worksheets and Lesson 1 of Holly Lisle’s How To Write a Series course. I purchased the course earlier this year, but haven’t really had a chance to go through it. This year’s NaNo wants to be a trilogy when all is said and done, and I have an idea of how I’d want to end the thing. A way to end the first book was still elusive, though. I still didn’t have much of a plot.

So I sat down to do what Holly calls a Sweet Spot Map. I kinda skipped over the personal one and went straight to doing a series specific map, sitting in the head of Sian, my main character. I pulled out my pens, and started working through the map, drawing my arrows and connections.

And the same few phrases kept coming up. Making myself safe. Being useful. Feeling safe. Safety. Secure protection. To help me feel safe. Free and Safe. Make myself safe. Fearing being out of control. Hating being out of control. Fearing being alone. Fearing being not needed.

I caught some of the connections halfway through doing the map, so when I was done, out came the pens and I drew long lines between all these phrases which I knew were interconnected, reaching a conclusion with my main character about how much she needed Control and Security in her life. I also found a connection for the main villain in the series and found a good connection between a prop (the glass ball that I mentioned a while back), Sian, and the main conflict in the story.

I learned a lot in the hour or so I spent on the Sweet Spot Map. I also did some work on the Story Core.

There’s a path and a plot here somewhere. I’m starting to get an idea of where I need to go and what I need to do to make this story tie up nicely at the end.

Ten days of NaNo remain. I’m still on track, and I think the fog is lifting enough so I can see where the track is going from here.

Sleep Writing – NaNo2017 – Day 16

I was falling asleep last night while trying to write. Like, legitimately dozing at the keyboard. There were several times where the text was “a T J k” and that was it. Then I had strange rambles like this….

No, there was no time for place. Studdyin was to be done and the faster Ora knew her work, the sooner she could get out of the school and out of her Mathematids class, the sooner she could become a proper memeber of the society that governed their lands. 

Not sure what Mathematids class is… I think my brain was trying to say “Mathematics” but even that doesn’t make sense in context, because this particular school doesn’t have Math…

Plus, what on earth did I mean by “there was no time for place”?

Word Progress –

Day 10: 2361

Day 11: 1743

Day 12: 3798

Day 13: 16

Day 14: 120

Day 15: 1126

Day 16: 1491

In other news, I’m really struggling with hitting my word count this week. Lack of plot coupled with not feeling well has made the progress very, very slow.