August, September, and October Wrap-up

August, September, and October Wrap-up
This image is derivative of “Red-blue sunset” By  Adam Ziaja  CC BY 3.0.

These past few months were eventful to say the least. So eventful that I am wrapping-up my reading experience for three months in one post. Seriously though, there is a lot to cover.

I read some books that disappointed, others I loved, went to two author events, and finished the first draft of a novel.

Bluejay Feather

Reading

I read eight books in August, September, and October.

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Title

Shadowcaster (Shattered Realms #2)

Short Synopsis

A princess proving her worth. A captain on a dangerous assignment. A boy with enchanting music.

Thoughts

I was hoping to enjoy this book as much as the books in the original series, but like the previous book, the characters didn’t seem as memorable, and the story didn’t seem as compelling as the Seven Realms series.

 

Rating

3 blue jays

19105727

Title

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis Trilogy #2)

Short Synopsis

Akin is the first human-alien composite male, but looks human. This makes Akin a subject of interest to the sterile human survivors of the apocalypse.

Akin must act human enough to avoid their wrath, while remembering his true nature.

Thoughts

I need to read more of Octavia E. Butler’s works. I’ve really enjoyed the two I’ve read so far and can’t wait for the others.

My main complaint is that this was too short, but that has more to do with the style of writing that was popular at the time it was written than the author. Still thought provoking even though it was published about 30 years ago.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

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Title

Amid Stars and Darkness

Short Synopsis

After being kidnapped by an alien, Delaney must impersonate an alien princess or else the entire human race will be enslaved.

Thoughts

I was waiting in a long line at the library and picked this up on impulse as I walked by. I’m not sure I would have read it otherwise.

It’s too romance heavy for my taste, and I prefer more science in my science fiction, but it was otherwise a light, fun read.

If you’re looking for a book you can’t put down, this might be for you.

Rating

3 blue jays

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1166599

Titles

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time #4), The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time #12)

Short Synopsis

Books four and twelve of the Wheel of Time series.

Thoughts

Some of you are probably wondering if I indeed skipped from book four to book twelve in this series. The answer is that, yes, I did. At the risk of annoying some of the Wheel of Time fans, I must admit my motive for reading this series lies in the fact that Brandon Sanderson wrote the last few, and I want to read all his books.

I like the other Wheel of Time books, especially book four but not enough to read the eight 1,000 page long books in between books four and twelve.

Rating

4 blue jays
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Title

Darkness of Dragons (Wings of Fire #10)

Short Synopsis

The final book in the second arc of the Wings of Fire series.

Thoughts

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, it’s probably no secret that Wings of Fire was one of my favorite middle grade series. To some extent it still is. However, this book is probably one of my least favorite in the series, though my least favorite overall would have to be book nine.

It came across as a little anticlimactic to me, and I wasn’t a fan of the characters’ resolution of the conflict that’s been building in the last few books. Still, it was a fun read.

Rating

3 blue jays

22295304

Title

Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper #1)

Short Synopsis

Sierra must uncover the mystery of her family’s magical heritage before anyone else dies for it.

Thoughts

I wanted to love this book so much. The atmosphere is great. Older seems to have captured an otherwise realistic portrayal of Brooklyn with some magic thrown in.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t capture my attention enough for me to give it a higher rating.

That said, if you’re looking for a detailed, diverse portrayal of Brooklyn this may be the book for you.

Rating

3 blue jays

13612968

Title

The Silver Mask (Magisterium #4)

Short Synopsis

Fourth book in the Magisterium series.

Thoughts

Oh, look, the only book I read in October. *Hides in shame.* If this isn’t an indicator of how busy I’ve been I don’t know what is.

There is something about this series that makes me always come back to it even though there are some less than amazing elements to it. I think it’s the premise. I love “hero destined for evil” stories so much.

Rating

4 blue jays

 Author Events

In the past three months I went to events for Leigh Bardugo and R.L. Stine. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bardugo twice before, but I don’t see how I can go to too many signing events when one of my favorite authors is involved.

Even after attending her events in the past, I still learned something interesting about Bardugo’s writing style. She uses a modified version of the beat structure outlined for scripts in the book Save the Cat. She outlines most of the beats mentioned in the book, but skips a couple because she’s never sat down and read the book to find out what the others were.

Hey, when it comes to writing, the right way to write is the way that works.

R.L. Stine was a first for me. My biggest takeaways from his event were that sometimes life takes us in unexpected directions, that one of the best ways to succeed is to be open to these directions, and that ideas come from unexpected places.

If you would like to see a full post about these events, leave a comment to let me know.

Writing

Total Words Written in August
The words I wrote in August. Graph generated with NaNoWriMo goal tracker.

My months have been so distinct from one another in terms of writing progress that it almost seems wrong to sum it all up in one post like this.

August was a great writing month. During the first half of the month, I averaged around 5,000 words per day. My first draft ended up being 70,000 words. This makes it the longest first draft I’ve ever written, though still shorter than the longest thing I’ve written (90,000 words).

I took a break after finishing my first draft midway through the month, intending to get back to my writing in September.

I started some short stories in September, but the progress I made was interrupted due the disruption Hurricane Irma made to my schedule. I’ve put those short stories on hold for now.

Little writing progress was made in October until the end of the month when I began reading through the draft I finished in August.

Bluejay Feather

Have you read any of these books? If you could meet any author who would you choose? How do you go about revising your first drafts? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Beautiful Books October 2017

Beautiful BooksBeautiful books is a meme hosted by Cait @paper fury and Sky @further up and further in in which writers discuss their current writing projects. This time the theme is “Introducing your NaNoWriMo Novel.”

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Since I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo this November, I’ve opted to write about the first draft I wrote last summer.

Edit 10/25/17: Disclaimer: Everything written here is subject to change.

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What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I was inspired by a news article I read about pig embryo with human cells, with the suggestion that people in the future might use pigs as organ donors. An article like this one.

The idea captivated me so much I wrote a short story not long after. At first, it seemed too ridiculous an idea to base a full novel around, but I was still so enthusiastic about these characters and had more positive beta reader feedback than I expected. So, I turned it into a novel length work.

I wrote the short story around last March, so that should give some idea of the timeline.

Describe what your novel is about!

It’s a young adult science fiction novel about Lyle, a teenager who’s only allowed off his parents’ property for doctors visits. Sometimes not even then. One day, Lyle discovers his parents had another child before him. One they intend to sacrifice Lyle to get back. At least, that’s how Lyle sees it, anyway.

Everything Lyle knows about the world beyond his backyard he learned from the few websites he was allowed to visit, his parents’ constant warnings, and peoples’ snide comments about him. Yet, Lyle’s only way to escape a fate he considers worse than death is to find a way to survive in a place he’s only glanced through the glass of a car window.

After running away, Lyle soon ends up trapped. If Lyle doesn’t reveal his identity, he will be killed in two weeks. Now Lyle’s only hope is to escape his imprisonment and avoid being recognized before the two weeks are up.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I hate to say it, but most of the description in my novel is disgusting. Like, while I was writing the first draft I had to skim on some of the concrete details because the visualization was making me gag. It all serves a purpose of setting up the dark, dreary atmosphere, though, so I guess that’s okay?

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Uh, there are a lot of characters. Twenty-four in my Scrivener character description files, to be exact, and, no doubt, more that I haven’t made a file for. Most of them don’t have names yet. It takes me forever, yes, even past draft one, to pick names out. For the sake of keeping this a reasonable length, I’ll have to sit this one out.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I’m an outliner. In fact, some of my outlines have been known to reach 10,000 words. Fortunately, this outline was only a little over 5,000 words. So, you know, keeping it brief, LOL.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Well, I’ve already written the first draft. To be honest, that was what I most looked forward to. Now, I’m looking forward to having the whole thing edited enough I feel comfortable with someone else reading it.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

There are a lot of settings.

  1. One of them is a barn.
  2. Another is a suburban high school.
  3. A third is a hospital.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Lyle wants people, especially those he cares about, to accept him for who he his. His physical appearance and physical ability stand in his way often, as do a number of individuals who literally keep him trapped, and Lyle’s own ignorance.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Lyle grows more confident, more firm, and less trusting.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

I try not to think of themes in my own works. I worry they make my work too preachy. While the story gets bleak sometimes, I want to leave readers hopeful for the future.

Bluejay Feather

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo next month? Have you decided not to participate but work on something anyway like me? Anyone revising a first draft? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

June and July Wrap-up

Monthly Wrap-up

June and July were productive months. I read eight books and wrote over 40,000 words.

Bluejay Feather

Reading

One of the books I read were middle grade, three were young adult, and four were adult.

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Title

The Shattered Lens (Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians #4)

Short Synopsis

Alcatraz must stop librarian cults from conquering the world.

Thoughts

I liked book four better than book three. I thought the conflict was more interesting, the jokes funnier, and I’m excited to continue the next book.

It’s important to note that there are a lot of people who would find this series more annoying than funny. I’m just not one of them. I think it’s hilarious.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #2)

Short Synopsis

Aliens try to conquer Earth. Humans learn about our place in the universe.

Thoughts

I liked this book better than its predecessor. The plot was more cohesive, and a little faster paced, though still slow. This is hard sci-fi at heart. One of the things I love best about this series is the way it’s made me think.

That said, I’m happy with how this book left the story and am not sure I’ll continue.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2)

Short Synopsis

Two young shadowhunters must protect the world and loved ones from supernatural forces while sorting out their forbidden romantic feelings.

Thoughts

This book was fun, but I’m tiring of reading books set in this universe. I’ll probably read the series final when it comes out in a couple years, but think I’m done with the future spin-offs.

Of course, if nostalgia strikes, I might change my mind.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

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Title

Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)

Short Synopsis

A teenager fighting for a rebellion teams up with an android to free her planet from Earth’s influence.

Thoughts

Really enjoyed this one. See my full review for more information.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Title

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

Short Synopsis

August and Kate must protect the people of their city from the monsters that seek to tear it apart while they battle their own inner daemons. For my full thoughts see my duology review.

Thoughts

I liked this book, but at the same time felt something was missing that I couldn’t place.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

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Title

The Handmaid’s Tale

Short Synopsis

A handmaid shares the story of her life as a member of the first generation to live under a sexist dystopian regime.

Thoughts

Based on what everyone said, I expected to be left emotionally drained by this book. I think that these expectations and the fact that I don’t have children are the only reasons I wasn’t affected more. It is, however, still a creepy book.

That said, while I can’t say I liked what took place in this book, it was very well written, thought provoking, and made me want to keep reading. For these reason, it gets a high rating.

Rating

4 blue jays

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Titles

The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time #1 and 2)

Short Synopsis

When a village is attacked, three farm boys must flee to a legendary city to protect themselves and their families.

Thoughts

I liked the second book a lot more than the first. Given the nature of most first books in epic fantasy setting up the rest of the series this isn’t too surprising.

Rating

3/5 for book one and 4.5/5 for book two averaging to a 4/5.

4 blue jays

Writing

Camp NaNo July 2017 Progress bar

I started writing a first draft in June and continued writing it throughout July. This was accomplished through Camp NaNoWriMo. I had a goal of 30,000 words for July but exceeded it and wrote 40,000 words.

Bluejay Feather

What have you been reading? Anyone read any of these books? Anyone participate in Camp NaNoWriMo? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Camp NaNoWriMo: How to find an active cabin

Camp NaNoWriMo.png

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an annual writing event. You can learn more about on their website here. Camp NaNoWriMo is an twice annual offshoot event featuring virtual “cabins” with up to 20 participants. Learn more here.

I’ve participated in Camp NaNoWriMo seven times now. In the past, I’ve had both cabins that were active and others that were inactive. I’ve found cabin activity critical to staying motivated.

The NaNoWriMo forms have some good tips for finding cabin mates, but today I’m sharing some things I personally have found result in an active cabin.

Disclaimer: This is only what has worked for me, and most of this post is speaking in general terms. No doubt there are exceptions, and your results may vary.

Bluejay Feather

Private cabins are more active.

The camp NaNoWriMo website allows users to choose to not get put in a cabin, get sorted with other campers based on private criteria, or create/be invited to a private cabin.

Many people who plan to participate in Camp NaNo won’t write a single word. It’s like new years resolutions. Many people don’t complete their goals. Therefore, the best bet for an active cabin is to meet other enthusiastic people on the NaNoWriMo Finding cabin mates forum.

The earlier you join a cabin the better.

Some people will join camp late. However, in general, more active people will be excited to find a cabin as soon as possible. This leads to a greater chance of more active members if you start looking early in the month.

Barriers to entry lead to more active members.

This mostly applies to those who are starting their own cabin by looking for people in the forums. The forums allow people to specify criteria for the participants they’re looking for.

By barriers to entry I mean specify certain criteria. This can be anything from an age range to a specific genre or time zone.

Specifying you’re looking for people who have done something  that requires them to have taken action at one point, like winning NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo in a previous year, can be even more effective because it requires people to have a track record of active participation.

Just make sure these barriers to entry are not so high as to be unattainable by the majority of people because that could lead to a lack of interest.

Overestimate the number of people you want.

20 people seems like a lot, but it’s likely some people will disappear throughout the month. Yes, even following these tips. So, add more people than you think you’ll want to your cabin. This will allow you to have enough people left to stay motivated at the end of the month.

Bluejay Feather

Have you participated in Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo? Are you participating in July? Do you have any tips?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Post NaNoWriMo/November 2015 Wrap-up

Nano 2015 Chart

I technically didn’t win NaNoWriMo, but did finish my first draft. This was my original goal for the month, so I’m satisfied. I also managed to keep up with the progress bar for the first fifteen days as shown above. Considering this was my first semester in college, I’m surprised I managed to keep up for so long.

The reason this draft was so short is in part because my first drafts are very underwritten, and also because I was writing middle grade. My November project follows twelve-year-old Rebah who has grown up to believe she is a robot, and has never seen another human-being.

Reading

I didn’t read much this month because I was so busy writing. I’m actually surprised I found any time to read at all.

Short Synopsis: In this futuristic society children are raised to be turned into horrific “creatures” on their fourteenth birthdays.

Thoughts:  I’ve read many of Garth Nix’s books. As always there was unique world building, but in this case the execution left something to be desired. I never felt entirely invested in the characters and the story.

Rating: 3 blue jays

Short Synopsis: Book six in a series about aliens blending in on Earth while other aliens try to invade.

Thoughts: These books are very addictive. Normally, I would have stopped reading a series I was having this level of enjoyment of, but I just feel too much urge to find out what happens next. That doesn’t mean I’m beyond skimming, though.

I had some issues with plot holes in previous books that were solved in this one. (*book 1 minor spoilers* How were they planning to repopulate a planet with only nine people left?)

Rating: 

3 blue jays

Short Synopsis: Four children summon ancient beasts of legend though a ritual that binds a human and an animal.

Thoughts: Each book in this series is written by a different author, many of them well known. I’m interested to see how the series will progress through each change in writer. This book was a fun introduction to this fictional universe. I have recommended this series to my brother.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

October 2015 Wrap-Up

Reading

In October I didn’t have much time to read, so I only read four books. Two were middle grade, one was either middle grade or young adult depending on how you define the audiences, and one was adult. Of those three were fantasy and one was science fiction.

Short Synopsis: Book two in the Magistarium series. To learn more read my review of book one here.

Thoughts: For some reason the plot twist this series centers around is one I can’t seem to get enough of. This book was a lot of fun.

Rating:

 4 blue jays

Short Synopsis: When her underground home is destroyed Eva Nine finds herself surrounded by creatures she hadn’t even known existed.

Thoughts: Read this book thinking it would make a nice comparison title for the writing project I’m working on this November. I was right. The artwork is also stunning.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Short Synopsis: Fifth book in the Mistborn series, and second book in the Alloy Era of Mistborn. Read my review of the first book of the original trilogy, Mistborn: The Final Empire, here to learn more about Mistborn.

Thoughts: I liked Alloy of Law, but not nearly as much as the original trilogy. I think part of that had to do with the stakes being so much lower. In this book the stakes were raised, and I was much more invested in the story from the beginning onward.

Rating: 

five blue jays

Short Synopsis: When Magnus Chase dies on his sixteenth birthday he discovers his life is far from over.

Thoughts: This book was a lot of fun, but I wasn’t completely blown away.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Writing

I’m now finished with my rewrite of the first third of my high fantasy work in progress. Part one ended up being exactly 21,461 words long. My target for part one was 20,000 words, and I almost never go over my target length even though I often want to so this is great.

I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month for November and (as it is November while I am writing this post) am working on a middle grade sci-fi project about a twelve-year-old girl who thinks she is a robot.

Blogging

Yes, I am well aware that I am still terribly behind on my tags. I really do appreciate it when people tag me, it’s just hard to find the motivation to write up tag posts sometimes. I’m also terribly behind on my reviews as well. Hopefully I’ll get around to posting more in the next few months.

Be, Room, Cliff (Writer Version)

In honor of the fact that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and that I plan to participate, I thought this would be something fun to do. It’s a variation of the game in which you chose one character you want to be, one you want to be roommates with, and one to throw off a cliff, but I’ll be using characters from the unpublished novel length works I’ve written and the one I plan to write this November.

This post was inspired by Shaelin from ShaelinWrites on Youtube. You can watch her version here.

I’ll be assigning the characters numbers and randomly choosing three of these numbers for each round.

Round 1

Interesting, this round I got the only two characters I entered from the work I’ll be writing this November. I also got a character from my NaNoWriMo 2014 project that I’ve been revising lately. The reasons the names of my characters from my project this November are capitalized funny is because I wanted to give a sense that this is a world in which robots have replaced humans and capitalizing names that way emphasizes that point to me.

Be: ReBAH1 (Raised by Robots)

Rebah is going to be the protagonist of my project this November. She is the last human on Earth which is a definite downside to being her. Even though I am an introvert, I do still enjoy a certain amount of human interaction, but I’m practically going to be her as I write her story anyway.

Room: GenE24 (Raised by Robots)

This is the robot who raised Rebah. Because she is a robot I do not want to be her, but I think she could make a good roommate because she’d be in her lab most of the time so I’d practically have the room to myself.

Cliff: Princess Glenda (A Rose Like Death)

I can’t remember for sure, but I think in the first draft of this story Glenda fell off a cliff and died in the second or third chapter. I kind of feel bad about that now, and that doesn’t happen anymore. However, I’ve already technically written this scene so its already happened.

Round 2

This round is so hard. I got three of my protagonists and I love them all!

Be: Princess Titania (Not a Faerie Princess Anymore)

Titiania has a lot of really stressful responsibility I would have trouble dealing with, but I think I could eventually adjust. I would also enjoy seeing all of the magic of Faerie on a daily basis even if I had to accept that I could never preform any of it like Titania does in my narrative. I also don’t want to room with her because I have a feeling our room would be very loud.

Room: Parisa (Unidentified)

Parisa could be a good roommate, but her life is complicated in ways I wouldn’t necessarily want to deal with, so I’m going to room with her.

Cliff:  Yuliana (A Rose like Death)

I feel so bad about this because Yuliana may just be my favorite protagonist. I wouldn’t want to be her because her life is terrible, but I also wouldn’t want to be her roommate because she reads minds. I like to keep my thoughts to myself. Unfortunately, this means she gets cliffed. I actually feel like crying because I’m so devastated by this right now!

Round 3

This is a fairly easy round. I’m not very attached to most of these characters as their primarily very minor.

Be: Becca (Unidentified)

Her life is very similar to my own, so the adjustment wouldn’t be difficult. I’d also get to be close friends with Parisa so whenever strange things started to happen I could chose whether I wanted to support Parisa and get involved or just continue on with my life from a safe distance.

Room: Catrine (A Rose like Death)

Our room would be converted into a walk-in closet with beds, but she would make all my clothes. Having my own personalized wardrobe wins over the inconvenience of living in a room surrounded by clothes on hangers. I also think Catrine would make a good friend.

Cliff: Anabelle (Unidentified)

This is a character who is falsely accused by my protagonist of doing a lot of nasty things. She isn’t nearly as bad as she is often made out to be, but she is still far from a great person. She is the character here I care about least so she is getting cliffed.

Round 4

I got two side characters from my NaNoWriMo 2013 project and the main character of the first novel length work I ever finished.

Be: Alina (Unidentified)

Of all these characters she has the easiest life, so I’m going to be her.

Room: Dawn (Martian Murders)

Dawn has a personality a lot like mine and I think we would get along really well. However, I put her though a lot of stuff I don’t want to deal with, so I wouldn’t want to be her.

Cliff: H/Lori (Unidentified)

I like this character, so I feel really bad about this. She’s getting cliffed because I don’t want her life at all, and I’m more emotionally attached to Dawn since I narrated an entire novel length work from Dawn’s perspective.

Round 5

All of these are either characters with terrible lives, or characters who are annoying. That makes this difficult.

Be: Adela (Not a Faerie Princess Anymore)

I don’t like Adela much, but of all the characters here she has the best life so I’m picking her.

Room: Queen Shella (A Rose like Death)

I wouldn’t want to be her because she has so much responsibility, but I also feel too much sympathy with her to throw her off a cliff.

Cliff: Andrea (Martian Murders)

Technically I’ve already killed this character twice in one narrative by throwing her off a cliff. Her murder is the one the title speaks of, and this story involves time travel hence it happening twice in the same narrative. I cried while I wrote that scene because she doesn’t deserve it, but there was no way around it happening.