Life Happens

I’m sure everyone has those moments. Sometimes, it can derail a day, sometimes a week, sometimes a month. Well that’s kinda sorta what happened to me. I was all ready to sit and write and get stuff done, and then… life happened.

Lots of little things, nothing major, but all those little things can really throw me off my groove. Like Kuzco, only I don’t live in a palace and I don’t have anyone to throw out a window, nor do I have someone to throw said person out the window. Oh well, at least I’m not a llama.

Anyway! Blogging got put on hold, writing got kinda put on hold, and now November is nearly two weeks away, and my head is just focused on NaNoWriMo. I have so many ideas that pop into my head only to be overly analyzed every second. Also, no one is very active on the forums and I don’t know what to do about that. Any ideas?

I talked to someone I knew, and they said they were at least coming to the Kick-Off party, which is super awesome and made me very happy. On the non-ML side of NaNo, I have no idea what I’m going to write about, which is a complete change from last year. Last year, I had my idea and a full outline by like… the beginning of October. I was just waiting for November to FINALLY roll around so I could start writing. This year, I’ve got a list of story ideas I’ve been meaning to write and all I need to do is pick one. Easier said than done though.

I have 8 options available to me, and in this case, less is more. I can cut a few because really, there’s nothing substantial other than “Werewolf PI”. Yup, that’s an idea, and all of the idea I have, so that one can be cut in the preliminary round. It’s the intermediate round that it gets complicated. I have two… epic fantasy stories that I want to tell. The problem is, I want to have the complete outline of all the … books… instances… plots before I publish anything. Which isn’t to say that I can’t start writing. What I don’t want to happen is have an awesome idea by book 6, but something should have been happening by book 2 in order to make that possible. At least I’d have something written though.

Then there are the single book stories that I could write and then maybe I could actually *publish* one. It’s exciting and hard to imagine. Actual completing a story, editing it, and publishing it. However, it’s entirely possible if I use NaNo as a means of getting one of these stories out. The one that I’m mostly leaning towards however, is not my preferred genre of writing. I adore writing Fantasy or SciFi, and this… this is just fiction. Almost a collection of short stories if you will, that intermingle. Nothing fancy, just… different lives that touch one another. It’s neat, but again, hardly what I want to be writing.

So, there’s that dilemma. Try to get one book done and see if that lights the fire under my butt to work on the others, or write the beginning of one of the epic stories, and see if that lights a fire to finish off the story. Any thoughts, ideas or sage advice would be appreciated!

On a positive writing note, I finished my final edits of my short story and managed to cut it below the 1500 word cap! Whoo hoo! I also braved sending it out for review to a handful of people. I know that everything can be improved upon and that was the feedback I was hoping for, and out of the four people I gave it to, two were helpful in the “this would be better” but otherwise it’s awesome, and three were simply helpful in telling me it was great and boosting what little teeny tiny esteem I have.

I’m going to give it one last look, and give it back to my very first beta reader to see what she thinks now that the edits have been done, then it’s submission time! A milestone in itself – submitting my writing to a contest.

So that’s where my writing life is at right now. I won’t promise any sort of blog until December, but I hope to write something on here as NaNo gets closer, and even into the thick of things.

Best of luck to any who are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and as always, happy writing!

~ Jess

NaNoWriMo 2014 ML!

Okay, this post is late in being written. Almost two months late. However, the enthusiasm I felt when I received my email stating that I had been accepted as a NaNoWriMo ML has not wavered in the slightest. I’m SUPER excited to be a Municipal Liaison with my partner in crime Jill, and I’m really looking forward to meeting all the writers and watching their stories come to life on the page… errr screen… well both actually :P

Today I assisted in promoting the event with Jill, whom I will be honest, since I was kinda running the event, did most if not all the promoting today. We gave out magazine coasters that I had made, along with handouts reminding people to sign up, that Jill made, and had a neat little board that explained the event.

I think the best part about explaining NaNo today, was the openness of the people we spoke to. Normally when I’ve explained NaNo in the past, and tell people that it’s a personal challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m met with frown faces and a complete lack of faith that it’s even possible. Today was different. People were accepting, and willing to challenge themselves (or other people that they knew) into attempting it. Which, besides being refreshing, surged me with new energy and even more eagerness to make this year a success.

I already secured a writing venue, so now it’s time to locate someplace for our kickoff party and TGIO party.

SUPER HAPPY that the initial steps are almost done. Well… other than a story idea to write for NaNo, but that can always comes later right? Maybe night before later? Sure why not.

If any of you are thinking of doing NaNo, I highly suggest it. It’s a personal challenge, and even if you don’t write 50,000 words, it is an incredible experience.

~ Jess

CiSu’s 2014 Reading List Progress

With September here (an absolutely terrifying thought), I figured I’d go back and take a look at my TBR list and see exactly how well I did, and if I’m going to make my goal of 12 books this year.

Since I plan to continue writing throughout the year, I’m only going to give myself one book to read a month. If I manage to read more than that, bonus to me, but in the meantime, I’m aiming to read at least twelve. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ve limited myself to twelve books, because that would just be ludicrous.

1.  The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

2.  Through the Zombie Glass – Gena Showalter

3.  MaddAddam – Margaret Atwood (Re-Read: Oryx and Crake & The Year of the Flood)

4.  The Girl with the Iron Touch – Kady Cross

5.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

6.  Inkspell – Cornelia Funke

7.  Inkdeath – Cornelia Funke

8.  Graceling – Kristin Cashore (Recommended by: C.Miller)

9.  Insomnia – Stephen King (Recommended by: C.Miller)

10.  Dreamcatcher – Stephen King (Recommended by: C.Miller)

11.  Reave – C. Miller

12.  Dracula – Bram Stoker

13.  Remember Me – Christopher Pike (Recommended by: Jill)

14.  The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Cassandra Clare (Recommended by: Jill)

15.  Carrie – Stephen King (Recommended by: Jill)

16.  Ship of Theseus – J.J Abrams and Doug Dorst (Recommended by: Jill)

17.  Soulbinder – Jillian Watts

18.  The Princess Bride – William Goldman

19.  Coraline – Neil Gaiman

20.  Hounded – Kevin Hearne

21.  I am Number Four – Pittacus Lore

22.  Bloodlines – Richelle Mead

23.  The Hunger Games: Book 1 – Suzanne Collins

24.  Divergent – Veronica Roth

25.  Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

26.  The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan

27.  The Red Tree – Caitlin R. Kiernan

28.  The Shining – Steven King

29.  Salem’s Lot – Stephen King

30.  The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaimen

 

First of all, whoot for reading 12 books! Hooray I met my goal! (It’s the little things in life) Also, I know I’ve read more that aren’t on this list, which makes me even happier. 

I’ll go into a more in depth look at the end of the year but for now I want to give special mentions to the following books (links will open to amazon where you can purchase them):

Reave – C. Miller

Hounded – Kevin Hearne

Soulbinder by Jililan Watts would also be on the list, yet it’s not yet available – yay for getting an advanced copy XD

 

Anyway, I highly recommend both Reave and Hounded if you’re looking for a great book/ start of series. 

I wrote a short story!

Okay, so I wrote a first draft of a short story, but the point is, I wrote a story from start to finish and that makes me extremely happy. I’m also rather pleased with how it turned out, which is something unexpected. This pleasant feeling comes one week after writing it, not looking at it, then re-reading it and editing. In the end, I was still happy with what I had written and hadn’t torn it completely to pieces, which is something that I wasn’t expecting. Normally I go back and hate what I wrote, find that there are so many problems and missed words (sometimes entire sentences), but not this time. This time I actually managed to get something coherent out.

I suppose I should note that it’s only 1700 words, and took all of like 2 hours to write, but still, it meant a lot that I finished it (let alone that I decidedly took the time to sit and write it). I’m doing this for the Canada Writes short story contest, which sadly caps at 1500 words. I expect that this part will consist of the much more difficult process of editing and cutting. How I’m going to cut 200 words, I have no idea, but it will be an adventure for sure.

That’s all for now. Happy writing everyone :)

Reave: C. Miller

Novel Information (Taken from GoodReads)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publication Date: December 4, 2013

Pages: 308

Narration: First Person

 

CiSu’s Review

Reave is a story about a young woman who has been a servant for most of her life, living on an estate where the Leader of the house only lives for a short period of time. Any time a servant speaks out, or does something wrong they are severely punished. Aster is no exception having more than her share of beating and whippings throughout her life. However, all this changes when the new Leader arrives and challenges Asters perspective on the world, and herself.

Although lacking in action, the journey that Aster takes trying to understand herself and the new Leader, all while pushing boundaries with the Reaper makes this book a page turner. I wanted to know more and more about the motives behind the new Leader, who the mysterious Reaper was, and when Aster would finally learn what everything meant, and what decision she would make in the end.

Her character was interesting, because although Aster could read the malevolence in people, or pick up on certain mannerisms, her sheltered life kept her from noticing other mannerisms, that I, as a reader, picked up on right away. Aster questions kindness and flirtations and at some points I just laughed at her naivety, while feeling absolute pity for the man vying for her affection.

Her characters are well fleshed out, and the relationships are real and deep where they should be, and shallow and new where they needed to be. Another refreshing change with C. Miller’s characters was the unique yet normal names. Although Aster is more unique than normal, there were no names that had me pondering how to say them; which in a world where Apple is an actual name, was quite the refreshing change of pace. Not to mention the normal spellings.

Overall this book pulled me into the story, had me captivated by the world, and invested in the characters and their lives. I would move this book to the top of your TBR pile and in the meantime I’m going to order my copy of Elude, the second book in the Reave series.

Death is but a Dream: Erin Hayes

Novel Information (Taken from GoodReads)

Country: United States

Language: English

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: September 29, 2013

Pages: 308

Narration: First Person

 

CiSu’s Review

This book was one that I really wanted to enjoy. That sentence says a lot doesn’t it? Okay, let’s try to break this down starting with the premise of the story; which in itself wasn’t bad.

Callista Saunders is a homicide detective who was promoted after only 2 years after graduating. On one of her days off she sees a bus about to hit a little girl and takes her place instead – something that wasn’t supposed to happen. In the afterlife she learns that she’s not quite dead, but instead she’s in a coma. Hades, lord of the underworld offers her a deal. If she protects his son and finds out who is trying to kill him, he’ll return her to her comatose body and she’ll no longer be in the underworld.

So, Callista starts off her investigation and meets the people she’ll be working closest with. Namely Tisiphone (a fury), and Plutus (Hades’ son and the God of Wealth).

Alright, so there’s the story and the overall plot. Sounds decent right? That’s what I thought, only it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. I was hoping, really hoping, that it would be better. Plutus’ character was fine, I had no problems with him, but that was about it. All the other characters weren’t solidified enough for me to connect with. Callista in particular was especially frustrating and annoying. For someone who was supposed to be great at her job, she had a lot of problems finding answers, and didn’t seem to know where to go or where to look. Additionally, she has a temper that flares up and dies down at strange and irregular moments. Someone who is supposed to be a cop should have a much better handle on her anger. It felt like I was reading a story about a 14 year-old girl trapped in an adult body. Further to that, for the moments where her police skill was lacking, she came up with excuses. Reasons why she hadn’t thought to do it before, or was too busy to look into it at the time. None of them were believable and I think that the author’s lack of knowledge of the police force really hindered Callista’s credibility.

The plot moved at a good pace, and things didn’t seem to come too easy for Callista until near the end. As a reader, I was ready for the book to end when she finally confronted the villain and protected Plutus at the same time. That would have been perfect. However, Erin Hayes decided that instead of having the villain defeated, she simply injures him so that our two heroes now find themselves in the mortal realm trying to escape him yet again. Here is where the story just became utterly unbelievable – and that’s saying something for a book about the Underworld and Greek Gods.

Callista’s and Plutus’ faces are shown on the news but whenever they enter a store the clerk is too distracted to actually notice them and what they look like, how fortunate! Sure, Erin Hayes comes up with a reason as to why they are having so much luck, but there is luck and there is … well… this.

The ending wasn’t surprising, I wasn’t blown away, and although I wasn’t angry at having paid for this book, I wasn’t thrilled with it either. I was just left with a feeling of disappointment for a book that could have been so much better.

NaNoWriMo ML for 2014?

Yup, that’s right, I decided to apply to be the regional Municipal Liaison (ML) for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for 2014.

I have to admit, I started out feeling confident, at least until I got to the part about saying why I was the best candidate and what I was going to do to improve NaNo in my region. I hate talking about myself and promoting myself (which, if I ever become an author is going to be one of my main challenges), so sitting there and trying to answer those questions started giving me a minor panic attack.

I mean, who am I? I participated in my first ever NaNo just last year. Yes I won (and that was really the only qualification I needed – apart from being over 18 years of age), but does participating one year and winning really make me the best candidate? I didn’t think so, and thus I decided to obtain support from my friend and co-NaNo winner Jill, and coerced her to co-ML with me. Okay, there really wasn’t a lot I had to say other than, “Hey do you want to do this with me because… HALP!”

She’s super awesome and just knowing that I’ll have someone to help share my anxieties with, is a huge stress-reliever. We filled out the forms the following day (to which she noted that she felt like she was in a beauty pageant while trying to answer how she would improve NaNo in the region) and once I clicked submit, I felt better. That was it. My decision was made, no turning back now.

Now, just because we applied doesn’t mean that we’ll become the MLs, but seeing as there wasn’t one last year, and we were two of the three people who came out for the write-ins, I’m feeling fairly optimistic. In fact, I was (and still am) feeling optimistic enough to book a space for the write-ins, and start looking at ways to promote NaNo this year, and what DIY projects I could make to handout and give to our fellow NaNo writers.

 

Yup, I think this has been a rewarding experience, and if I don’t get the position… well, no one can stop me from giving out things for free!