picking up old [writing] habits

I’ve been easing my way back into a regular writing routine. Looking through my progress calendar, there are a lot of gaps starting in mid-April, most of May, and the beginning of June. I started the year strong, but struggled with some life drama and other issues along the way that made writing less of a priority. Not an excuse, just a fact. I post these updates as a way to stay accountable, even if no one else is holding me to task. There are days when I just want to stop, but there’s this need that keeps me from doing that… it’s a compulsion at this point; even when I’m not writing, I’m picturing scenes in my head. If only it weren’t so hard to take what I picture and put it into words.

By my count, it takes me about a week to edit and rewrite each chapter (except, not really… at least, not if I tally up the number of days when I engaged in some form of active rewriting, but it’s a good estimate based on the average time spent on each chapter). My goal was to be done (DONE) by May. Then it was June. Things happened. Things didn’t happen. Here we are. I’ve decided to stop working towards an arbitrary date and take this “bird by bird,” as Anne Lammott says. I have four chapters left and another round of reading through the early chapters (my editing style changed midway through this draft and I find that later chapters received better treatment). At this point, I just want to get it all down.

I read somewhere that writers should read in-genre for every 2000(?) words, 20000(?) words written. Something like that. Whatever the number is, I should be reading in genre. So I’ve started making a concerted effort to read more fantasy, particularly more magical, elemental magic type fantasy. Uprooted really sparked my desire to write, as well as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy (why were these waiting on my shelf for so many years?!). The only trouble arises when all I want to do is kick back and read, but that’s what happens when you’re a total book nerd.

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i’ve been reading: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I’ll be posting a reading update later this month, but I just can’t stop myself from gushing over Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. I received a preview of the first three chapters at a library conference and was hooked from the start. It’s been a long time since a book enthralled me so much. I wanted nothing but to stay up all night reading, and that’s saying something (I take sleep very seriously). The writing is just as enchanting as the story; I can’t wait to get a copy of my own so I can read it again, savoring every little detail. This may very well be the best book I read all year. I’m definitely feeling the good book hangover.

all the books I’ve known (in 2014)

There are a few books missing from this list (a few review books that fell through the cracks, and a bunch of books I read on usability that I breezed through), but below is a nearly complete listing of the books I read, loved, and/or gave up on in 2014.

My original goal was to get through 30 of the books on the TBR shelf. I failed, but I made a good effort and weeded a large portion of those that I realized I would never get around to reading (whether because my reading tastes have changed, or they were bought on a whim in a moment of what-was-I-thinking impulsiveness). Working in a library, I have access to new books all the time. I also started reviewing for a trade journal this year and have received some excellent selections; this means that there will always be more books than I will ever be able to get through, so when I decide not to finish a book, it is with the understanding that there are other books to be had and I no longer have to read a book just because a) someone recommended it, b) everyone else is reading it, or c) it will make me look more well-rounded as a reader.

books read in 2014

Key:

  • Books highlighted in bold are my best of 2014
  • ^ = library book
  • * = personal collection (ie. The TBR mountain)

Currently Reading

  • Gwendolen by Diana Souhami
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan M. Weinschenk^

 Manga and Graphic Novels

  • Ranma 1/2 (2-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1-3 by Rumiko Takahashi^
  • Sailor Moon Box Set 2 (Vol. 7-12) by Naoko Takeuchi*
  • Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura series by Arina Tanemura^
  • Saga, Volume 2 (Saga #7-12) by Brian K. Vaughan^
  • Chi’s Sweet Home series (1-11)  by Kanata Konami^

 Fiction

  • The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink Carnation, #6) by Lauren Willig *
  • Clariel (Abhorsen, #4) by Garth Nix^
  • The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (Pink Carnation, #4) by Lauren Willig*
  • The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope^
  • Long Live the Queen (The Immortal Empire, #3) by Kate Locke*
  • The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne*
  • Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan*
  • City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6) by Cassandra Clare*
  • Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2) by Gail Carriger^
  • The Magicians (The Magicians, #1) by Lev Grossman^
  • Death of a Schoolgirl (The Jane Eyre Chronicles, #1) by Joanna Campbell Slan*
  • Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl^
  • Into the Wilderness (Wilderness, #1) by Sara Donati*
  • The Queen Is Dead (The Immortal Empire, #2) by Kate Locke*
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1) by Robert Galbraith^
  • A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin*
  • Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles, #4) by Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia^

Nonfiction and Essays

  • Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay^
  • Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris*
  • Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties by Rachel Cooke*
  • Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper Than Swords by Henry Jacoby^
  • VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good by Mark Bittman^
  • Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong by Jessica Bacal*
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling^

Highly anticipated but disappointing

  • Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander, #8) by Diana Gabaldon*
  • Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) by Susan Dennard^
  • Midnight Never Come (Onyx Court, #1) by Marie Brennan*

Books I couldn’t finish

  • Lost Voices (Lost Voices, #1) by Sarah Porter*
  • Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin^
  • The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3) by Deborah Harkness*
  • The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver, #1) by E. Lockhart^
  • The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1) by Erika Johansen*
  • Tanamera by Noel Barber^
  • Beautiful Ruins  by Jess Walter^
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins^
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie*

 Read for work

  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems by Steve Krug^
  • The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley^
  • Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug^
  • Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set …Test! by Carol Barnum^
  • A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making by Russ Unger^

On writing

  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland*
  • Revision and Self Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells by James Scott Bell*
  • How to Write by Alastair Fowler^
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King^

The plan for 2015 is to keep reading my way through the shelves and finish getting through all those lonely, untouched books that have been waiting for years.

Monthly Round-up: July 2010

Monthly Round-up for July 2010

Read
Paris 1934 by Paul A. Myers (REVIEW)
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (REVIEW)
Mistress Pat L.M. Montgomery (REVIEW)
Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton (Read the first few chapters via NetGalley and can’t wait to get the published copy when it’s released. Made me shiver in a wonderfully creeped out way.)
Soulless by Gail Carriger (REVIEW)

Currently Reading
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson (slowly but surely…)
Daily Life in Victorian England by Sally Mitchell

Books I couldn’t finish
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Dickens and I don’t get along. I will give Bleak House a try one day, but till then…

The Monthly Round-up is a regular feature on things she read wherein I list the books I read each month.

Monthly Round-up: June 2010

Monthly Round-up for June 2010

Read
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez
Goy Crazy by Melissa Schorr
Strudel Stories by Joanne Rocklin
Does my head look big in this? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery (REVIEW)
Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
Annie on my mind by Nancy Garden
April and the Dragon Lady by Lensey Namioka

Currently Reading
Paris 1934 by Paul A. Myers (review book for the Historical Novel Society)
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson (on hold)

Books I couldn’t finish
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

This reminded me of Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, but I just didn’t get into the magical realism that is such a heavy element of the story.

Empress of the World by Sarah Ryan

I just couldn’t get into this story, the characters a little too much precocious teen snark for me.

The Monthly Round-up is a regular feature wherein I list the books I read each month.

Monthly Round-up: May 2010

Monthly Round-up for May 2010


Read

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence
Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea by Joyce Carol Thomas (Children’s book of poems)
An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community by Charles E. Hurst & David L. McConnell
Just Like Mama by Beverly Lewis (Children’s book on daily life of Old Order Amish women)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin and David Shannon (Children’s book on Native American story)

Currently Reading

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa


Gave up on

Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Jessica Darling series, but the series started to lose some of its appeal after the third book. This one was a disappointment. I could not get into the story at all, it just read like stream of consciousness babble and snark. I tried, but decided it wasn’t worth my time after a few chapters.

The Monthly Round-up is a regular feature wherein I list the books I read each month.

The Monthly Roundup: Feb. 2010

I decided that it would be a good idea to post a monthly round-up of the books I’ve read (because I’m an obsessive organizer).

So here they are for the month of February 2010. Titles link to the reviews.

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James

East by Edith Pattou

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

The Mermaid Summer by Mollie Hunter