Archive for December, 2016

Review of Lost Lands, Forgotten Realms

Lost Lands, Forgotten Realms: Sunken Continents, Vanished Cities, and the Kingdoms That History MisplacedLost Lands, Forgotten Realms: Sunken Continents, Vanished Cities, and the Kingdoms That History Misplaced by Bob Curran

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, this book was really interesting. I picked it up to use as a reference in my writing.

It’s broken down into four sections. I was seriously annoyed by the way section one (on mythical places) was written. Dr. Curran felt the need to connect mythological places to each other. Nearly every place he mentioned, he found a way to connect it to Greek mythology. He also connected the World Tree of Norse mythology and Christ’s crucifixion (somehow implying that Christians believe Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead because… the heard of the Norse idea that Odin hung by his ankle from the world tree?

The other sections – where Curran didn’t feel the need to make such connections – were much more interesting to me. I really just wanted to know what these places were supposed to be like. I did find some of the origins interesting. I just… it annoyed me that he felt like two cultures couldn’t come up with similar ideas independently of each other.

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A Review of “A Christmas Hope”

A Christmas Hope (Christmas Stories, #11)A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a Christmas book for two reason. First and foremost, it is set during the Christmas season. Secondly, it has the sort of feel-good ending that one expects of stories told at Christmas time. This is the second of the Christmas Stories that I’ve read and I’m going to look for more!

I read this book specifically because I wanted to read a Christmas story with the holiday less than a week away. It fit the bill perfectly! It also reminded me why I used to really love reading Anne Perry’s other books when I was in college. The story moved along rather quickly. The characters were engaging.

This was the sort of mystery that the reader can really solve along with the “detective”. There are certain things that are told to the reader simply by the detective learning of them. There are some people, I don’t doubt, who will feel that the ending was a bit too neat. The right people were found and came forward with the truth of what happened just in time. However, as I said above, that’s just the sort of thing you expect from a Christmas story.

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Review of The Book of Unnecessary Quotation Marks

The Book of The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks: A Celebration of Creative Punctuation by Bethany Keeley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My sister picked up this book because… well, honestly, we had experience with people using unnecessary quotation marks and this book looked like it would be funny. We were not disappointed! It was so funny to see all the times other people used quotes when they didn’t need to be there. In some cases, the implications – because of the punctuation – made an otherwise boring, ordinary sign into something totally hilarious.

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At the Closing of the Year

Not the Christmas song, a blog circle question:

After your year of writing, you’ve seen the good and the bad that happen as time goes on. You know your high months and you know your low months. You should know where you are lacking and where you’re awesome. Take that all into account and give us five (5) resolutions for improving your writing next year.

Bonus: Tell us how you plan on completing each one!


The bonus really goes along with the question this month, so I’m not going to separate them.  First… let’s look back at 2016.  I started the year the motivating word of “focus” and from that, I came up with three goals.

First, I wanted to finish off my last few WIPs.  Second, I wanted to write Potions for Everyday Use.  Keenan is a character that I’ve had in my imagination since I was just twelve years old and I’ve started and re-started his story too many times to count.  Third, I wanted to clear off my “to edit” list.

I’m happy to say that I was successful with two of those goals.  Keenan’s story is complete!  All I need to do now is edit it.  I also finished off my “to edit” list for 2016.  Regarding my WIPs, I was able to finish one of the three.  I’m still working hard on finishing the last two, as well as my new stories for 2016.  However, through 2016 I got much better about finishing what I start and gathering little stories together to create longer ones.


So… resolutions for the coming year?

  1. Read more “complex” books

For the last few years, I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  In past years, I’ve increased the number of books I’ve tried to read each year.  For 2017, I’m going to read the same number of books as I did this year – but I’m going to try for fewer “children’s” books this year.  I think reading anything can help with writing, but more “complex” books will help me be an even better writer.

  1. Plot (at least a little)

I discovered, during NaNo, that I work best with a rough plan of where a story is going.  That means, when I sit down to write any story, I should write a rough outline of what should happen during the story.  If I do that with my two WIPs, I may even finish them before the end of the month.

  1. Turn off my “censor”

One thing I’ve learned is that I’ll get an idea for a story and then… not write it.  Either I’m afraid no one will like it or that I won’t do a good enough job with it.  Going into 2017, I want to turn off that little censor telling me not to write this or that thing – not to share something.  I need to be braver with my writing.

  1. Blog more

I have two blogs – one for stories and one for crafts – including my thoughts on writing (like this).  My goal last year was to post a certain number of times each month on those blogs, but I was really inconsistent with it.  Like with my general writing, I tend to get this idea that no one wants to know what I think of something.  I need to stop doing that and just put my thoughts out there.

  1. Draw!

For a long time, I was drawing my characters.  I got out of it when I started finding actors to “play” the characters in my stories.  Preceding NaNo this past month, I did a drawing challenge.  I found that it helped me visualize my characters better.  Instead of finding actors that vaguely fit the description I’d written, I looked for actors that fit with my drawn concept of my character.  For 2017, I want to draw more and, in keeping with my other resolutions, I’d like to try posting some of my artwork again.

Done For Another Year

So, now it’s the first of December and National Novel Writing Month is over for another year.  This year was possibly my best year for writing ever.  The story seemed to flow and it was a ton of fun to write.  I loved the characters!  I can see more stories in the universe – but not yet.  They will wait for another time.

What worked for me: I wrote every day and I worked less towards word goals and more towards things like, “I need to finish this scene.”  I started with a loose plan – which I followed pretty closely.  However, I left room in my plan for surprises and those surprises came in spades!  I also did dares – after a fashion.  What I used was a list of “cliché” lines – you know the ones.  Those lines that seem to pop up in every action movie out there?  I had fun using them in different or unique ways.

What I need to work on: I tend to lose steam at transitions.  I’ll reach the end of a chapter and… now what?  I need to work on moving from one plot point to the next smoothly.

What was easy to write?  For me, it was the introspective scenes and some action scenes.  Definitely not fights, though.  I tend to resolve my fights too quickly and they are always awkward.  I definitely need to improve my fight scenes.

Discoveries during November: I tend to work best in short bursts – sprints of twenty or thirty minutes and writing sessions of about an hour give me stronger word counts than long writing sessions do.  By and large, sitting down and writing for hours at a stretch… yeah, I get the words.  However, by the end of the writing session, I’m getting about 15 words per minute.  Just to show the contrast, when I’m writing in short bursts, I can get close to forty words per minute!

Nearly every day, I reached my target word count of 1667 words.  The days I didn’t… two of them it was because I was trying to hit a target word goal.  One time, I wanted to be exactly three days ahead – I stopped when I got there.  Another time… I just like the word count I’d reached (35K).  The other two days… were right after I’d passed 50K and I was trying to tie up a couple of threads, but I didn’t find a new direction to take the story.

I wrote for a total of 61,681 words in a total of about 2500 minutes.  That averages out to about 84 minutes (mean average) or 60 minutes (mode average) of writing each day, with an average of 2056 words each day.  In terms of time when I wrote, worst to best times were: night, afternoon, evening and morning.  So, I write best in the mornings and evenings.  That’s when I should try to write going forward.

All in all, it was a great month and I’m looking forward to editing the story… sometime late next year.