Saturday, October 25, 2014

To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo, that is the question

Lately, I've been mulling over the idea of participating in this year's NaNoWriMo. As you may have read in previous posts, I am one of those annoying people who talks about writing a book someday, but never does anything about it that might actually produce a book. My ninja-like procrastinating skills take the form of doing hours of research on things like publishers, eBook cover design, How-to writing books, and promoting your novel. While all of that information is important for someone who wants to publish a book, it is not in any way WRITING a book. Which is what I really should be doing.

So, that brings me to the subject of this post-- NaNoWriMo. I don't remember when I first learned about this November event, but I've been aware of it for a couple of years. If you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it is National Novel Writing Month. "I should do that," I've thought, but have never followed through. The excuses start piling on: "There's too much going on in November," and the ever-popular procrastinator's creed, "Maybe next year I'll have time."

Yes, November is a busy month for me at my job.  Yes, it is difficult to find chunks of writing time to get an entire rough draft finished in thirty days.  Yes, I am tired at the end of a long day at work and just want to relax.

But, here's the thing. That is always going to be true no matter what month it is. If I always use these excuses, I will never get a book written. That is the cold, hard truth of the matter. So, if I want to really write a book, I'm going to have to push through all that and get to writing.

There is something about NaNoWriMo that appeals to me. Maybe it is the crazy deadline-- 50,000 words in thirty days-- DO WHAT?!! Are you insane?

Um, wait a minute... I once wrote my Master's thesis in a ridiculously short amount of time, mainly because I fiddle-farted around and didn't start on it like I should. (Wrote the paper at the last minute and still earned my master's, thank-you-very-much!  Ha ha!) So, the NaNoWriMo timeline really isn't that much of a stretch for me.

The hard part is getting started. Today, I went to the NaNoWriMo website and created an account. I still haven't 100% committed to the idea of jumping in the NaNoWriMo waters, but I did dip my toe in today and the water didn't feel too bad.

Perhaps by posting this on my blog, I will be able to create the pressure I need to get a project like this done. I'll keep you posted on my progess. There will either be a shamefaced, "Yeah, I decided to wait 'til next year's NaNoWriMo," or a triumphant "I'm going for it!"

Stay tuned! If you've done NaNoWriMo before (or even thought about it) post a comment below to let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

(Not quite) a Review of Remembered by Moonlight

Tonight, I had the pleasure of chatting with author Nancy Gideon in the Nancy Gideon by Moonlight Goodreads group.  It was a lot of fun picking her brain about her latest book, Remembered by Moonlight.  This is the latest book in a series of nine about a bunch of really sexy shifters.

I know what you're thinking... "Ugh. A book about shifters. That is so done." In most cases, I would probably agree with you. I've read a lot of books about werewolves, lycans, and other various shapeshifters. I enjoyed some, went "blech" on others, but I can say without equivocation that I love Nancy's shifters the best.

Remembered by Moonlight is set to release on October 13 as an eBook. I highly recommend reading all the books in this series.  Nancy writes awesome, dynamic characters with whom you can't help but fall in love. The first four books in the Moonlight series center around Max and Cee Cee as the main characters. Then, books 4-8 explore other wonderful characters in the complex world Nancy Gideon created. And now, FINALLY, in book 9 we refocus on Max and Cee Cee as the main characters. I am so PUMPED to read this book.

Now, since I haven't read this book yet, I can't write a review.  However, I know someone who did get their hot little hands on an ARC, so she can tell you all about it now.  (It pays to know people with connections.) Pop on over to Cross My Heart Book Reviews and check out her review.

Wait, wait, wait!

Before you go, I want to encourage any visitors out there who enjoy reading romance books to join the Nancy Gideon by Moonlight Goodreads group.  It has grown to almost 300 members over the past year. It is a diverse group of people who love reading many different kinds of books. There are discussions on a multitude of topics (not just Nancy Gideon's books). I've learned about several wonderful authors/books by participating in this group. Plus, Nancy Gideon will be back on October 28 to chat about Remembered by Moonlight with those who've read it.

So, quit wasting time and get to reading! Remembered by Moonlight is available for pre-sale now.  I bought my copy and can't wait for it to be delivered. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have.

If you don't, I don't want to hear about it.

Just kidding.

Sort of.  ;-)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review of Wake Me When the Sun Goes Down

Today, I am reviewing Wake Me When the Sun Goes Down by Lisa Olsen.  I purchased this book as part of the Tall, Dark and Supernatural boxed set which contains seven different novels by various authors. This is the first book in a series called Forged Bloodlines, which, according to Goodreads, has eight books already written. Here's a link to the list.

The Synopsis

It was ironic that this happened to me; I was never a night person at heart. So you can see right off the bat why a vampire was the very last thing I would have chosen to be.

Anja Evans wakes up in the morgue with a hell of a hangover. It takes almost eating her best friend before she figures out... she's a vampire. When a dark and dangerous vampire shows up at her door asking to see her license and registration, Anja assumes Bishop is a regular cop. But breeding among vampires is strictly controlled, and her unlicensed status makes her an enemy of The Order. Struggling to find a balance between her former life and her undead one, Anja tries to blend school and living up to her new identity, all while searching to find the elusive Viking, whose blood gave Anja the strength of a vampire hundreds of years old.

The Review

My reaction to the book can best be summed up as a big, fat "Meh". I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't love it either. The story started off with promise, but there wasn't much to the story beyond what you can read in the synopsis. 

The main character, Anja, wakes up in a morgue after being pronounced dead. She has no memory of how she got there, but is told by the cops that she had died of blood loss after bleeding out from a wound on her neck. Now, she is miraculously non-wounded and non-dead, so she bolts from the morgue to figure out what happened to her. I was intrigued to see where the story was going.

Next, we meet Bishop who is the vampire equivalent of a cop who enforces vampire laws. He comes to her apartment asking for her "papers". There is an Abbott and Costello-ish exchange between Bishop and Anja as they talk at each other without understanding what the other is saying. Since I love a bit of wit and humor in my paranormal romances, I thought that this book held promise.

This is where the book started to lose its way. The remainder of the story consisted of both Bishop and Anja changing personalities at the drop of a hat. I think these personality swings were an effort to keep some tension and interest going in the story. However, these changes seemed to be somewhat artificial to me.

A real lost opportunity in this book was that no one made much of an effort to find out who her maker was, which
might have been an interesting mystery for the two main characters to work together to solve.  Then, they would have had something of substance to talk about. There were a few unremarkable investigative efforts and conversations, but this was a story line that remained largely unexplored.

I've read books before that didn't really have an exciting plot, but the characters were so well-written and interesting that I didn't mind that the story line was thin.  The characters were the story.  In this case, both the plot and the characters were lackluster.  The characters seemed flat and inauthentic to me.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I didn't get some enjoyment from reading this book, but in my opinion it would have been even better if the characters' actions came from a more authentic place.

The Rating

I have debated on what rating to give this book. To me, it was between 2 and 3 stars. In the end, I'm rounding 2.5 stars up to File:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.png. However, the true verdict comes when I answer this question, "Would you read other books in this series?" to which I answer, "No, I'm just not interested enough in these characters to read more about them." There are surely many readers out there who absolutely loved this book, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confessions of a reading addict

I've been an avid reader since I was in 6th grade.  I remember sitting in the back of the class and sneaking books off the shelf.  I'd hide them in my textbook (SO original) and read instead of paying attention.  Years later, I ran into my 6th grade teacher.  He remembered me and said he would time me to see how fast I was reading each page.  Guess I wasn't as sneaky as I thought.

Countless times, I have "one more chaptered" into the wee hours of the morning reading on a school/work night because I could not bear to stop.  Being exhausted the next day wasn't a big enough deterrent.  It went a little something like this...

10:30 pm- I'll read until 11.
11:00 pm- Just one more chapter and then I'll stop.
12:00 am- I can't stop here.  I'll stop when I find out <insert plot twist here>.
1:30 am- Ugh.  It's so late.  But, I only have a few chapters left.  Might as well finish.
2:15 am- Ahh, finished!  That was SO good!
6:00 am- The alarm goes off.  "ARGHHHH!  Why, why, WHY do I do this to myself?!"

I devoured books, but it was always a letdown when I got to the end of a well-loved story because it meant my time with those characters was over.  I would (and still do) re-read favorite books just to extend the time I get to spend with those characters.

Another habit was to imagine what the characters did after the story was over.  Although I didn't know that fanfiction even existed, I would make up my own stories about books I loved.  While I never took the next logical step of writing down my stories, any time my mind was idle was a good time to escape into my imagination.

A boring class was a great time to get imaginative, but time spent in the car was also fertile ground.  Sadly, I couldn't read in the car due to motion sickness.  I remember childhood road trips (pre-tablet/cell phone/iPod days) when I would pass the time imagining events that continued the stories I loved the most.  Anne McCaffrey's world of Pern was a particular favorite.  After all, what girl wouldn't love to be found on a Search and learn that she will ride a dragon someday?

The car is still a fertile ground for developing ideas for stories.  There is something about the mindlessness of driving a familiar route that sets my imagination free.  Typically, music is playing as I drive.  I especially love songs that tell a story.  Often, I'll hear a song and begin imagining the story in my mind just like when I'm reading a book.

Recently, I've spent my commute playing around with ideas for my own book.  It's a time that my mind is free to wander without having to focus on anything in particular.  It is also, unfortunately, a TERRIBLE location for actually writing down my ideas because I could basically end up wrecking and killing myself or someone else.  Not good.  Sometimes, I'll use the voice recorder on my phone to record a new idea for a plot twist.  That way, I have something to jog my memory about that brilliant idea I had on the way to work, when I'm on the way home ten hours later and my brain is fried.

So, my challenge now is to take that obsession with reading that began way back in 6th grade and translate that energy and drive into writing my own stories.  I have a few ideas rattling around in my brain that are begging to be written.  Stay tuned to see what happens!

So, is anyone out there a reading addict, too?  To what lengths has your addiction driven you?  Share your stories in the comments below.  I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review of The Genius and the Muse

This review is on Elizabeth Hunter's book, The Genius and the Muse.  One really nice thing about this book (especially for people who are strapped for time) is that it is a stand-alone.  That's right!  No 'series-us' commitments required!  Sometimes it's nice to read a book, enjoy it, and not have to wait on pins and needles for the next book in the series to come out because of the monster cliffhanger at the end of book 1.  This book is certified 100% cliffhanger-free.

Hunter is known for her paranormal romances series, so this contemporary romance is a bit of a departure for her.

The Synopsis

For Kate Mitchell, finishing her master's thesis on reclusive photographer Reed O'Connor was just another item to check off her list. She knew exactly what she was doing. Or does she?

There's just one portrait that doesn't fit. One portrait... and the passion she senses behind it. Finding the story behind O'Connor's picture becomes Kate's obsession, and the people she meets will challenge everything she thought she knew about life, love, and inspiration.

A single picture can tell more than one story, and in the end, Kate discovers that every real love story is a unique work of art.

The Review

Can I just say that I love the way Elizabeth Hunter writes her characters?  I love how she crafts a character so that they seem like a totally real person that I would love to get to know.  This book was no exception.  We follow the main character, Kate, as she makes contact with various people who are friends of the subject of her master's thesis.  Through these conversations and flashbacks, we experience the story of Reed O'Connor.

I very much enjoyed the way the two parallel story lines evolved.  Kate's story was in present day and Reed's was from ten years ago.  Gradually, as you read the book, the two separate story lines become more and more intertwined.  Layer upon layer is built until the reader ends up with a very satisfying whole.  I don't want to talk too much about specific story points, since the story unfolded in some unexpected ways.  (Unexpected to me, anyway.)

The characters in this book are interesting, a bit flawed, and very realistic.  Kate is a young, talented photographer who, through the journey of learning about the famous photographer Reed O'Conner, learns about herself and grows as an artist and a human being.

The way the characters converse and interact with each other makes this an entertaining book to read.  There are moments of awkwardness, irritation, humor, sadness, and romance- to name a few.  I felt as if I was getting an intriguing glimpse of real people's lives.

The Rating

I started this book and couldn't put it down.  I ended up devouring it in under a day.  It will likely end up on my "books I love to re-read" list.
I give this book 5 stars.  File:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.png

Sunday, August 31, 2014


For years, people have told me that I should write a book of my own someday.  I guess the assumption is that having read umpteen million books makes me qualified to write one.  I don't know about that, but I would certainly like to give it a try.  Someday, I tell myself.  

I've decided that there is no time like the present.  However, I am a card-carrying member of PA (Procrastinators Anonymous).  I hope that isn't a real thing, because I totally just made that up.  Hmm.  Maybe I should Google it, just in case???  BRB...  Interesting- there were several websites that popped up on a search for "procrastinators anonymous".  Most of them looked like online support groups.  Just what I needed... another way to procrastinate!  

Okay, so back to the point I was originally trying to make.  It's really easy to delay getting started writing.  There are all kinds of excuses I can make, but the long and the short of it is that it's a lot easier and more enjoyable to think about writing a book someday, than it is to write one today.  

One reason I started this blog is to get myself into the groove of writing frequently.  Having readers out there who expect to read new content on a semi-regular basis is one way to combat my procrastinating tendencies.  I do better with external deadlines and expectations.  

Right now, I don't have too many people out there reading this blog, but hopefully someday that will change.  In the meantime, I have this post written, along with the start of another one.   I began today's post by writing on a different topic, but went on a tangent and wrote this instead.  Sometimes, tangents can be interesting and fruitful.  Do not underestimate the power of a good tangent!

So, here's to hoping that someday comes soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review of Wonder

Wow!  It's a miracle!  I actually have a second post to put on this blog.  (For further information on why this is so miraculous, please read the previous post on this blog.)  

Back from reading the other post?  Great!  Let's continue.  

So, the book I'll be reviewing today is entitled Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  I read this book back in January 2014, so I guess I am cheating a bit by using a previously written review from Goodreads.  (Hmm, maybe this post isn't so miraculous, after all.)  This book has starred reviews from several of the big magazines, including Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal.  You can read those on R.J. Palacio's website.

You may be asking yourself, "Where does she get off writing a review when it has already received so many kudos from some big names?"  Answer... that's just how I roll.  

The Synopsis

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

The Review

There was so much to like about this book. I liked the characters. I liked how the perspective of the story changed from character to character so I could see the story through many eyes. I liked the message of acceptance and kindness woven throughout the book, without becoming "preachy". I thought it was wonderful that the center of the story, August, wasn't written as some stereotypical 100% noble character. 

The interactions between him and the other characters read as very realistic to me. August is a boy who was born with very serious health problems that caused his face to be very misshapen. Due to health problems and various surgeries, August was home-schooled until the year he was ready to enter 5th grade. That's when this book begins, as we follow August through his first year in a middle school. 

All the typical things children this age face are part of this book: making & losing friends, beginning to figure out who they are, the importance (or not) of popularity, being mean, being kind, learning to accept others as they are, and the list goes on. All of these typical trials of growing up are magnified through the lens of August's physical appearance and how others react/relate to it. 

Many scenes in this book touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. However, there is more than one dimension to this story, so don't fear a cryfest from cover to cover. I found this book to be uplifting and it made me take a few moments to question how much kindness I have put out into the world. 

The Rating

All in all, I thought it was a wonderful book. I would recommend it to children and adults alike.  
I give this book 4 stars.  File:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.pngFile:Five Pointed Star.png

Monday, August 11, 2014

I'm a newbie!

Okay, so this blogging thing is totally new to me.  "I'm a newbie!" she cried for all to hear.  It's probably going to take me a while to work out all the kinks on this site and get it how I want it.

You may find yourself wondering, "Why the heck am I reading this?"  Hmm.  That is a really excellent question, dear blog reader.  Why the heck are you reading this?!!  I would speculate that you took a wrong turn in Albuquerque and somehow ended up here.

At any rate, I hope you'll stick around for a while and take a peek at some of my wonderful, awesome, and inspired posts.

**Fair warning- I am a horrible procrastinator and tend to start out on projects "GUNG HO!" and "FULL STEAM AHEAD!", but then I tend to lose my way an eensy, weensy, tiny bit.  I have told myself, "Self, this time you are going to follow through and stay on top of this blog thing!"  Let's all hope I listen.

Hey, part of the fun of this blog might be the tension of wondering 'will she or won't she?' post new content!  Imagine the incredible tension from such shows as Moonlighting with David Addison and Maddie Hayes.  Too long ago?  Maybe it's like Luke and Lorelai on Gilmore Girls.  Ooo, ooo, no!  Like Pam and Jim on The Office.  This blog is just exactly like those shows, except not.  (Okay, so this might be why my blog may not get updated often enough.  I obviously watch too much TV!)