Away we go into the 2020 New Year…

It feels like, and is true, that I’ve been preparing this 2020 New Year post for a couple days at least. I want so badly to get some new stuff out to you, whoever you are. Every time I turn around to do something else I come back and discover my plate is magically full again. Or was it ever empty…?

Here’s the thing, I’m not complaining. No, I’m not. It’s really awesome to have a full plate, literally and figuratively. I am still as excited about bookstores and the idea of books as I was for elementary school bookfairs. I love just being in bookstores. I love having spent hours cataloguing books in a storage unit. All those thoughts and ideas… And here I am, doing the writing. Here I am studying books as I read and escape in them. Here I am, writing a novel, and neglecting my eternal backlog of to-be-read books. 😀 And I. Am. THRILLED! (Never mind that there are other things on my plate than reading and writing. Or the fact that I will not stop at one novel. Or…)

But all this thrill needs a lot more organization and planning. Heck yeah! Heck yeah you ask? Heck yeah I say. Sure New Year’s Resolutions are kind of cliche. Saying I’m making them makes me a little red in the face. I rethink even talking about them here. I think that maybe I shouldn’t talk about them at all because talking about them will probably destroy the magic. Why? Because don’t they always fizzle?

Maybe. Often. Eventually.

Why? Probably because I try to just be so new and so different instead of incorporating different and new into me. Does that make sense? I hope so.

It feels really exciting to put a list together of all the books I plan to read. I adjusted my 2019 TBR to bring it up to date and laughed at my ambition. It’s beautiful, ambition, but it was a little much. Impractical. After all, I am writing a novel that is suggesting to me that it might be at least a duology. Just saying… Does that mean I shouldn’t shoot for the stars? Of course not. It means I should maybe start small and manageable. Rebuild how I do things.

This year, as I mentioned in my post about audio books, I started an Audible subscription and I love it. It might not feel the same or be the same as reading books but it’s fabulous. On the simplest level it’s fun to have a book read to you, reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad would read to us at night before bed. On the adult level it means you can do all kinds of stuff and “read” a book at the same time! Woo hoo! On the downside you don’t get to visit a bookstore to get your next book. 😉

So where was I? Right, audible, rebuilding, restructuring, being ambitious and realistic. With Audible I can listen to a book a month, if you don’t include the free originals (which aren’t always worth the…tape…lol), that’s minimum 12 books a year! Super doable. 😀 Heck yeah! Maybe somewhere in there I pick up a daily deal (discounted offer) or treat myself for an accomplishment. A book instead of an ice cream or french fry or… Now I could in theory tell you right now what those 12 books are going to be but I have a feeling I will deviate from the plan. But I can give you a couple of titles to count on or at least the one I’m going to read the next month.

What else? Well it wouldn’t be too much to ask myself to read one physical book a month. I can do that easily just by limiting screen time, without disrupting my writing time. 24 books in 2020? Okay, let’s make it 30 because why not? That might not be a lot of books but it’s awesome. And I can meet that challenge, no problem.

I don’t know, I might actually have some time in there to pursue and accomplish other projects I’ve long promised to pursue and accomplish. I don’t want to spread myself too thin over one area of my life. Let me cover the bread but remember I’ve got a loaf yet.

I’m thinking, set my goals high enough I have to reach and work for them but know my limits enough to avoid setting myself up for failure.

Here’s to 2020 folks, and a saying I read on Facebook that said something like may the tears you shed in 2019 water the seeds you’re planting in/for 2020.

And here’s to all of you, may this too be true. 😉

Away we go into the 2020 New Year, may it not be better in hindsight! Heck Yeah! (Oh I like that, that was a good one. I should write more…;))

2019 TBR List New Additions Part 2

*** Quick funny side note: I scheduled this to publish on New Year’s day but then it disappeared! I couldn’t find it in my list of published or ALL posts. Then again, I didn’t go to the last page of the list… today I figured it out. It was scheduled to post 1 January 2019. Lol, oh silly me. Today I figured it out, must be my renewed yoga practice cleared my head this morning. So I did finish a while ago and have wanted to find it before I publish Part 3. And that’s why you’re also getting 2 posts kinda back to back.

Welcome to Part 2 of the 2019 TBR List New Additions. If you missed the first post click HERE for Part 1. I didn’t add any books to my TBR in October. Can you believe that? Ugh I wasn’t in the bookish world but that’s fine because I was in the writing world gearing up for NaNoWriMo 2019 which I did win. Woo Hoo Heck Yeah! 😀

July 2019 TBR List New Additions

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  • What the Woods Keep – Paranormal Fantasy/YA/Mystery by Katya de Becerra – I already have my copy of this, hopefully I’ll get to it sooner than later. Sorry I don’t recall which podcast I was listening to when I heard about this. But check my list if you’re looking for some book and writing related podcasts.
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August 2019 TBR List New Additions

September 2019 TBR List New Additions

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Oh my I did not add any books in October! It wasn’t because there wasn’t anything to add rather I have not been reading blogs for a long time nor articles about books. I’ve been more focused on my own writing. It can be tricky to juggle reading and writing though both are very important.

November 2019 TBR List New Additions

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  • The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #1) – Sci-fi by M.R. Carey – I’m not entirely sure where I found this book but I know I added it in part because I am at least a little familiar with Carey’s work. I’ve seen a movie and read a book and was plenty happen with what I experienced. Looking forward to this one.
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This concludes 2019 TBR List New Additions Part 2. If you missed Part 1 CLICK HERE and check it out. That list covers half of May through June. Part 3 is all about December because that’s when I got back to my TBR as well as a list I found at Lit Hub. That list, whoa, I hope what I found there is worth all the work it added to my list!

Stay tuned for Part 3. It will be published in the first couple of days of the New Year. From there you can expect a post about what I plan to read in January and Part 2 of my thoughts on Audio books. Check out Part 1 HERE.

So, what do you think?

What I’ve Been Listening To

Hey there folks! Recently, and not so recently, I’ve posted about audio books (Audio Book Talk Part 1 & Part 2). I blabbered a bit about the conundrum of reading versus listening. It’s a big issue for me! Lol. I think I’ve made that clear. What I haven’t made clear to you is just what…hm….um… not what I’ve read… okay… what my ear’s have attended to! This post is for the stories I’ve listened to.

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In Part 1 I told you how Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan was the first audio book I’ve listened to in a long time. And I really enjoyed it. Next I told you I listened to Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, yet another good book. After that came The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon; not bad but I didn’t love it for a couple reasons. Or maybe The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater came before that? Before or after, that one I really liked, best of them all. Since then? Let me tell you…

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Or read…

After The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, I listened to The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton.

This is the second time I’ve edited this because I don’t have a sweet memory so I’ve had to do some rewinding considering I listened to this way back in the summer. Of course I remember I enjoyed this series thoroughly and recommend it to most if not all fans of fantasy, particularly YA fantasy. However, book 2 wasn’t my favorite. It’s not that it was bad, it was just a little convoluted and not quite as flowing as the first. But I still liked it and was happy to get to know these characters more. Maggie Steifvater is a very talented writer. Her imagination and character development are beautiful.

Next was Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton.

Book three didn’t disappoint, in fact I liked it more than book 2, maybe not more than book 1 but very entertaining. Still loving these characters and their growth.

From there I listened to Wally Roux, Quantum Mechanic by Nick Carr, narrated by William Jackson Harper.

This, as the image shows, is an audible original, one of two picks I get each month with my subscription. I’d call this a short story more than a novel and it was worth it. More a book for teens but still interesting enough. I liked the character Wally and his story and would recommend this. It’s not exciting, but good.

After Wally Roux I started and finished the last book in The Raven Cycle, The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4) by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton.

So my mental rewind back through this summer and fall’s audio books brought me to some bittersweet truthes regarding the end of this series. It wasn’t just my memory that made reflecting difficult. This book didn’t sew up nicely. It didn’t end so neatly. I’m not necessarily disappointed but I’m disappointed. Not enough to ditch Maggie Stiefvater, oh no, or not read the Ronan Lynch spin-off that follows, Call Down the Hawk. Just enough to be bummed. But I won’t spoil here.

What I listened to next was very, very different than the above (and not as good). Cold Waters (Normal, Alabama #1) by Debbie Herbert was a book I picked up through one of Audible’s Daily Deals. What can I say, I needed another book to listen to!

But I didn’t love it. I’ll take some more Stiefvater after this one please! Sure it did its thing in the world of mysteries but I wasn’t impressed. I think I gave it 3 stars for effort. I won’t continue with the series.

After that I listened to an Audible Original, another of my monthly freebies. Buried Deep by Margot Hunt and read by Therese Plummer is also a mystery.

Please understand that I am a fan of mysteries, I always have been. But I’m also really critical. Sorry, not sorry. Cold Waters was significantly better than Buried Deep. Buried Deep is not a story I recommend.

Okay now let’s get back to some better stories although…

My next read was much anticipated. Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton is a stand alone continuation of Ronan Lynch’s story. It is true however that it’s probably best to have read The Raven Cycle first.

Gosh I feel some kind of way about this book and about writing about it. I should probably save it for something of a review but I’m sort of doing tiny reviews here too. Let me say again that I really appreciate Stiefvater’s talents. But please please stop throwing the kitchen sink in. I mean okay maybe the kitchen sink analogy isn’t accurate but one review I read after the fact explained it best. It was like being in someone else’s dream where it makes more sense to them than you. Loads of people love this book but I just think it was a little too much dream world. I think it hurt the story. That said, oh there’s so much more to say I’m going to have to write a separate post for sure, I did like this story. I do like this world and love these characters. Worth it? For sure. Hoping the next book will be excellent.

Thank you Ellyn @allonsythornraxx for talking about this book. And thank you Inside My Library Mind as well!

Okay moving on. Another mystery/thriller thanks to Audible Daily Deals. But am I so thankful for Audible? Or am I losing my taste for mysteries after spending all this time in fantasy lands? The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger, read by Julia Whelan was creative and interesting. But it was too long, way too long.

I’m a little surprised seeing the Goodreads’ page again and the fact that Unger is a bestselling author. It’s not that she’s a bad writer by any means. The Red Hunter however could have skipped a lot of the individual parts. But again, it was entertaining and had its thrilling moments but didn’t blow my mind.

Wow so this brings us to my latest listen and what I’m currently listening to! Last one I finished was The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy. Here we have another YA Fantasy.

I will lead with this was a worthy listen and I will continue the series. That said, it was way too long. It was like a compilation of a bunch of different character stories that all happen to related. It just took too long to get to the part where they’re relating! On the other hand Libba Bray is a great writer. I respect the research she does for her stories, from time period lingo and culture to historic events, she does an excellent job. I think a lot of people would like this story, as long as you don’t mind a long lead up.

This series find is thanks to Ellyn @allonsythornraxx and her post about the 4th in this series due out this year. Oh my gosh I better catch up! Four of these! Gosh…

And finally we’re up to present day. Actually I very recently finished The Diviners. Therefore I’ve only just begun Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse, read by Tanis Parenteau.

Lucky me, this and The Diviners were not Daily Deals but they were special deals just in time for me to need more books in my Audible Library! Woo hoo! Everybody loves a sale right? 😀 I have heard the name Rebecca Roanhorse a lot and am finally venturing into her imagination. So far I’m digging it! Heck yeah!

Oh yeah, while it’s not an audio book I’m also read reading, like a physical book, Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare (ha ha I started to type narrated. 😉 ). Yet another name I’ve heard a number of times. This is a big book, 668 pages! I’m 174 or so pages in and it’s interesting, not as interesting as Trail of Lightning but I suspect it holds a lot of promise. And I learned kind of late that I’m pretty late to this party… Lol…

I almost forgot; while I know I’ve heard of this elsewhere I know for sure I can thank Ms. Victorious at Victorious pages for telling me about this series.

Kind of a long post I know but hopefully you found it interesting enough. Have you read or listened to any of these? I do kind of feel like I missed out on some real physical pages with words. (I think I need to read some Maggie Stiefvater in the flesh or paper and experience the stories more.)

Let me know what you think, I’m curious. Stay tuned for my post about what I will be listening to for the rest of January and February.

Audio Book Talk Part 2

After listening to Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – which was my first foray back to audiobooks in years – I was back in love with audiobooks. And yet, as I’ve mentioned before – if you haven’t already read my Part 1 to this CLICK HERE – I’m not wholly decided on when, how, and why to go with the audiobook. It just feels so conflicting! Physical book to have and to hold or audio book to listen and be told!?

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For starters, when I read a book I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Maybe that’s a lingering result of school but it’s there. Since I wrote that first post I have listened to over a dozen audiobooks in half as many months. They’re kind of my new best friends. And while I feel some completion in having heard that story it’s not the same.

To hold a book and turn its pages, reading the words the author strung together to tell their story, is to form something of a relationship with the story. Sure I feel emotions while listening to and reading stories. I formulate new ideas and thoughts about the material. Or I hash out old ones. Whatever the case I interact with the story. But holding it I also interact with the words. That is not something I can say for audiobooks. Well, it’ s just not the same!

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Listening to a story has its own benefits. I interact with language, with voice, with speaking. You get to hear a person’s voice, experience them acting (because that is what narrators do after all), and test your own listening skills. Something I love is hearing pronunciation of words I do not know which there are a lot of in fantasy novels especially. Listening to a story is beautiful. However, you do not see the words and their structure. You do not see how they are set up on the page. I’m sure this can be true for all people but I believe it especially true for a writer.

Not only do I study books when I read them – what worked and why, what didn’t and why not – but I admire them. With a physical book you see the typeset, the style, the font, the color of the paper, the smell of the paper, the margins, and so much more. You experience not only the story, but the book. While authors don’t always, or perhaps often, get to choose all these things for themselves in the world of traditional publishing, these days we’re seeing a lot more independent authors and presses. Which means we might also be experiencing more personal decisions with respect to the actual production of the book.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting anyone down who prefers audiobooks or can not read for one reason or many others. Audiobooks are amazing opportunities. I am a slow reader so the fact that I can finish a story in a couple of days listening to an audiobook is fantastic. If they were cheaper I’d listen to even more! So this isn’t even so much a which one is better type of post, rather I’m just reflecting on how my mind approaches the matter. I don’t find it a light decision to pick to listen to audio over read the story myself. I just don’t. Words are one of my passions and I’m trying to build a better relationship with them. Choosing to listen rather than give one-on-one reading attention is a tricky choice.

It’s helpful to see how different authors structure dialogue and even how they arrange their chapters. I like seeing the length of paragraphs because I don’t have a great attention span for long chapters when reading. Another advantage to listening, long chapters don’t bother me. You can still pick up on a lot of things listening, after all it’s still a book, it’s just someone else who’s reading it. You don’t get to dog-ear a page or highlight or sticky note. I know, I know these apps and whatever have all kinds of fun features but pushing “bookmark” is not the same for me as making one in a book. Besides, I’m not very good at coming back to book notes! Lol.

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So, summary is I love audio books but I miss the connection to the actual words. I don’t have a method for when to read and when to listen if I don’t already have the book in one form or another. I think it will come to depend on the individual books and authors. Also at this point I think I want to stay consistent with regard to the edition I pick for a series. If I start a series in audio then I want to keep that up. So if I’ve already started the series with a physical book, I’m going to read the book. I’ll also be paying more attention to people’s thoughts on specific audio books.

But ok! This has been long enough. I’m sitting debating listing the other books I’ve listened to since Audio Book Talk Part 1 or making that its own post. Hm…

How’s about I go ahead and end this here and encourage you all to share your thoughts! Do you have any trouble deciding when to go with audio or maybe you’ve not even thought about it that much? Are you a reader and a writer or just a reader?

I know I keep saying I’m going to post more and then I don’t so maybe you are losing faith in me. But that’s actually a really good reason to follow me, because then you’ll just know that I actually did post! You’ll be like oh it’s magic there’s a post from the Elpy Dimension! 😉

Check back Sunday, tomorrow, I’m going to share the audio books I’ve been listening to and am. Also this coming week expect a post from me yammering on about figuring things out for this new year, how I want to do things differently, and maybe a new review in my new format!

Cheers guys, thanks so much for your time!

TBR List New Additions Part 1

Hey there! This TBR List New Additions Part 1 is a part one because I haven’t done such a post since MAY. Wow, May. I have added way too many books to share them all in one post. I’m not sure if everyone loves posts about new additions to TBR lists but it’s kind of a fun way to nerd out, discover new books, and give props to other bloggers, writers, podcasters, nerds alike. 😀 Browse the pics for some covers that appeal to you. Follow the link to the book’s Goodreads’ page, read the blurb. Add to your list. And maybe then if you have your own blog, or what-have-you, give me a shout out for bringing the book to you attention. Teamwork makes the dream work! I love to chat so feel free to ask questions or share some of your own thoughts about my new additions.

My last 2019 TBR Updates post was back in May, May 13th to be exact. So this list will start from the books I added May 14th. If I’ve got someone to thank for it I will, or some specific thoughts as to why I added it, I’ll tell you. This post will cover a couple months (don’t think I added books every month) so this will be a three part post. Let’s get started.

May 14-31st 2019 TBR List New additions

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  • The Deepest Blue – Fantasy by Sarah Beth Durst – While I didn’t love this book I am a fan of Sarah Beth Durst so naturally I had to pick this up.
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June 2019 TBR List New Additions

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  • What Rose Forgot – Mystery/Thriller by Nevada Barr – Years ago I read Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series as fast as I could. Then I slowed down on reading fiction and I never caught back up with her books. I’m happy to know she’s kept on writing and this appealed to me.
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There you have it, my 2019 TBR new additions for the second half of May & all of June. I think there may be a duplicate or two in there but for the sake of time I’m going to let them stay. This is the list my Goodreads’ TBR showed me so I’m going with it. Of these I read “The Deepest Blue” by Sarah Beth Durst and wrote about it. And I’m currently listening to “Call Down the Hawk” (audio book) by Maggie Stiefvater. I will finish it today, just in time to end the year. Don’t forget to stay tuned and read Parts 2 & 3 of my 2019 TBR List New additions.

Have you or do you plan to read any of these? I read reviews but not always before I read a book because often once I’ve made up my mind to read a book I don’t want to know too much more about it. And often people include story synopses in their reviews. So you’re welcome to share your links with me, I will check them out after I’ve read the book. Please do share your most basic thoughts, spoiler free, here. You just might get me to push the book up my list. 😉

Happy New Year to you all! I’m really looking forward to the writing and reading that’s about to happen. Stay tuned, perhaps this year…perhaps…this year…

Audio Book Talk Part 1

For starters, this week since I’ve been absent for so long I’m going to post daily, however that happens I’m going to have a post for you. Short, long, whatever. Let’s get started. (This one’s long, but worth it should you want to hear about some audio books and how I picked them.)

Yesterday I told you I want to talk about audio books and how I’ve recently gotten back into them. Back in the day I listened to quite a few audio versions (on CD) of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I LOVED them. I read the books as well (not for all did I have audio and physical) and was really a fan. It’s not that I don’t like them anymore but I fell off of reading fiction many years ago for about five years. When I came back to reading my tastes and goals had changed and I didn’t go back to the series. Plus, let me be honest, I didn’t love the whole love triangle/struggle/whatever you want to call it thing going on with Ranger and Joe Morrelli. I really liked both characters but was frustrated with the direction it was going. I am proud to say that I turned at least a few people on to the series and they’re still reading them. 😉 And NO, vehement NO, I did NOT like the movie One for the Money.

There were some non-fiction books I listened to as well as planned to listen to (I know because I recently found the CDs). But then I just stopped. It happens. Now I’m back to audio books and I don’t have to buy and lug around CDs. Yeah! I came back to them because Audible offers two free books with a free trial… and I figured I do a lot of work that I can do while listening, thus checking off my TBR.

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But how do I claim to have read a book when I actually listened to it? That just doesn’t mesh with my weird brain! I read people’s blogs about them “reading” audio books and I’m like no, no you did not read them! Of course we all know what they mean like we all know when I say LOL my head is not lolling around. I think it’s the fact that there’s no work involved. To me reading a book is a feat. Listening to someone tell me a story is not. The fact that I’m not doing the work weighs on me. But should it?

Absolutely not! I will get through so many stories…except there’s the fact that they aren’t free…even with an audible membership I’m committing to buy a $15 (somewhere around there) book a month. Yes they say oh and you get two free originals but let’s be honest the originals are SUPER LIMITED and now you’ve downloaded books because you basically HAD to take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong I’ve downloaded a few that I am interested in listening to, eventually, but I never seem to be in the mood.

Here’s the thing, now I’m spoiled. Now I’m getting used to someone reading a story to me and when I finish the book (quickly) I don’t know what to do! I feel lost without my story in my ears or my external speaker. AHHHH!

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I can’t “read” and do other stuff at the same time! Impossible! And now I can! OMG! Drama folks, drama. Then this VOID leaves you vulnerable to audio book deals. Which makes me wonder if I put books on my wish list will they miraculously pop up as a deal? Because then it might be even more worth making a list. 😉

But how do I pick? I get one audio book a month. How do I pick? The obvious answer is what’s available. What the heck Elpy, you have to get to that part first? Right… so I go to my TBR… and I look at it… I scroll down it… I see books and pretty covers… I think about picking one… I don’t know, I just don’t know.

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This is something I have to figure out. I’ve gotten lucky so far. My first pick was Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, narrated by Natasha Soudek & Tristan Morris. Great book, great narrators, can’t wait for the second to come out. This was a lovely introduction back into the world of audio books. It kind of takes me a second to get into it but that’s the same for books. I picked this book by going to my list and scrolled for something that stuck out. This was a book I added in the last several months and was one I was looking forward to reading. So I reread the blurb, found it to be available on Audible and BAM. Great pick. Thank you Sofi @ A Book. A Thought. for introducing me. Thank you Destiny @ Howling Libraries for selling me on this book further.

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***Disclaimer: As I link to Destiny’s review above it appears maybe she’s updated it since I first read her review…? She’s less than happy with the author and that has changed her view of this book and her writing. So I’m conflicted as to whether or not I find something where she’s raving about it or post to the updated review. And I think I should stick to her current take for posterity’s sake. She brings up some interesting points, most of which I did not know. But check back soon because I want to touch on her mention of “post-read high”.***

How did I pick A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, narrated by Emily Ellet, then? This one wasn’t and was as difficult because I struggled to decide on the audio version. First there was the urge to hurry up and pick something because I had to get to the work I had to do. Next there was looking at my Goodreads’ TBR. Then there was my remembering how much Destiny @ Howling Libraries gushed about this. Finally I had a good long think about whether I’d want this as an audio or read the actual words and writing if it’s really that good. I went with hurry up and get to it, listen to it.

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I’m a big fan of Destiny and her book blog. She really really really loved this book, like really really really really. 😉 That made me really interested even as we don’t read a lot of the same stuff. Let me say this woman READS A LOT, heck yeah kick ass Destiny, fist bump! This was a really good story (I say story not book because I listened to it). Definitely worth the audible credit but I didn’t LOVE it as much as she did. I will probably no doubt give it 4/5 stars whenever I review and maybe even 5 but for me it’s not an all time favorite. See that makes it sound like there’s something wrong with this story but right now I can’t think of anything. It really was a great original story just not an OMG for me. I certainly recommend it, I just don’t scream about it like Destiny.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater was my next Audible pick. The first two were read by women and men so when I heard a man’s voice and only a man I was a little curious. The voice stuck out to me but I couldn’t place it. After listening, and loving, I had to look him up. Will Patton. Omg I know who he is, he’s a rather well-known actor! He does an excellent job. I’m not singling him out because he’s better than the others just that I was surprised to find it was him (look up his photo if you don’t already know) and pleased with his reading as women. I heard of this book when Ellyn at Allonsythornraxx recommended Call Down the Hawk by Stiefvater. I also heard of that book at Inside my Library Mind. In case you don’t already know I love birds so bird references draw my attention, regardless of their content (that comes later). I heard from one or both of them that I might want to check out The Raven Cycle series first. Low and behold I already had the first, The Raven Boys, on my TBR! (Can’t remember how I heard of or added that one, sorry.)

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Sorry Destiny but I liked this one A LOT and I liked it more than I liked A Sorcery of Thorns. When I went to my list for this month’s pick I decided I should scroll down further instead of picking something I recently added. It’s really easy to forget books you added months or years ago. You keep adding books and something is bound to capture your attention and make you read it right now, pushing the last dozen down the list. I keep seeing Call Down the Hawk because it’s near the top and that made me think about how I wanted to start here. So you’ve got some reference to birds, fantasy, lots of books by this author and great recommendations, and of course a cool blurb. I went for it and I am so happy. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this series though that means I have to wait for my next month’s Audible credit. But do I want any physical copies? Oh lord…

Stay tuned for my review of these books.

Lastly, I’m currently listening to The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (just saw I’ve got a newer book of hers on my list as well), narrated by Liyah Summers. In my notes I have that I read a review of this on Books Tea Bee’s blog and she pushed me over the edge to add this to my TBR, meaning I’d heard of this elsewhere but after reading her review I finally decided to add. After adding it I think I saw Destiny @ Howling Libraries had DNF’d it, not sure I ever found out why but that stuck with me. Listening to it now – enjoying the narrator, she does a lot of different accents very well – I am a little less than attached to it. I’m trying to pay more attention for the sake of my writing to be honest. I want to pinpoint what it is that isn’t working for me because I don’t want to make the same mistake in my own writing. It’s not bad writing and it’s not a bad story but 5 hours in (out of 25!) it feels disjointed. When I make note that it’s 25 hours long (holy moly, the other three are around 12-16 hours) I’m thinking things really pick up and I hope they do. It’s not a DNF for me at all but if I had to rate it this early on I’d give 3 stars.

How’d I pick this? Daily deal. $5.95 and I needed a new audio book to listen to while I work. And it was on my list so why not? Simple as that. AND 25 hours means I won’t be craving a new audio book as soon. 😉

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The next question is, what book will I pick for September? Probably I’ll go with The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater but we’ll see. 😉

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What about you, do you listen to audio books? How do you pick them? Any you recommend? And that’s it for Audio Book Talk Part 1, stay tuned for Audio Book Talk Part 2, in which I talk about why audio books do and don’t work for me as a writer.

Hit the Follow Me button somewhere on this page and stay tuned. Maybe you want to hear about me being a writer or maybe you want to hear about me being a reader. I can be long-winded but what the hey, there’s a lot to say. 😉

Catch up & muster forward 2

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Busy. Busy and some more busy. That’s the fun part of trying to do a bunch of stuff: prioritizing and scheduling! I can’t tell you how many times I was like oh man I should just do a quick post and then, nope. That’s fine, we work out the kinks in time right?

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I figured I could take a quick break and write to you all so you know I’m around and will remember to check back soon. 😀 Since I last wrote to you – oh a month ago (OMG!) – I have listened to two audio books and not finished any of the ones I was already reading. I’ll have to go see but I think I told you about finishing the Wicked Saints audiobook, right? If I didn’t then I actually finished 3 audibles since last time. Lol. I completed and won Camp NaNo July (Yeah!) and recorded over a dozen hours of brainstorming for my story. Never mind all the other stuff that’s happening in real life (like the hickory tree that fell in my yard or the project that is my basement, backyard, heck my whole property and others!). We’re going to stick to talking about the creative stuff here.

The goal for my post today is just to check in, to briefly share what I’ve accomplished creatively, and to let you know what you can look forward to this month which includes my creative accomplishments in more detail. So I’ve checked in. Check. I’ve told you what I’ve accomplished creatively in simplicity. Check. Now I’ll tell you what you can look forward to!

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I’d like to have a discussion about audio books. I haven’t listened to an audio book since they were on CD or cassette, not available digitally. I’ve been really reticent to go the audio book route because it just doesn’t feel like reading a book to me. Nevertheless, I gave in to the audible free trial membership with a couple free titles and now I’m hooked. This means I’ll have to give up my HBO subscription in order to afford this but meh, it’s worth it. I’ve really enjoyed being able to listen to great stories while I’m working or walking the dog or driving or what have you! If I’m not in story making mode then listening is great. That said, I miss the interaction with the words on page. So I want to talk about that. Another thing I want to talk about is once you have listened to an audio book will you continue a series in audio? It makes me crazy to think of having different versions of books in a series, like one is audio, one is digital, one is physical. AHHHHHHHH! I hope you’ll stay tuned and chime in because I’d love to know what you all think about audio books and listening.

In line with the above topic I have three reviews I owe you, and they’re all for the audio books I’ve listened to in the last month: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (loved it), Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (great story), and most recently The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (awesome!). Of the three The Raven Boys is by FAR my favorite. That was really a great story. It was narrated by Will Patton who did an fantastic job. I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the series! Really I enjoyed all of the narrators of these books. I’m also about to start The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon in audio. This isn’t a book I’m anxious to start to be honest, but it was on sale on audible and I’ve got a lot of work around the house to do. So a cheap audio book that happens to be on my TBR? Alright, I’ll take it. Stay tuned for my thoughts on all of these.

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Of course you will be privy to my writing life and how that’s going. I won Camp NaNo a couple thousand over 50k words for the month. It was a great month for writing and Camp NaNo was so helpful. Lots of great advice and nice to have a goal and a group holding me accountable. This push helped my story a lot although my overall goal was to finish my first draft I did not finish that. But okay, it’s okay. I will complete my first draft by November NaNoWriMo, at which point I will revise it. I’m still aiming for publication next year.

This last month has really been amazing in terms of my writing and I can’t wait to learn more from my characters about this story. I might say, okay I will, that I think this will be a series at this point. Let’s just leave it at there will be more than one book pertaining to my characters Maple and Jacob. I’m intimidated and overwhelmed at this prospect and with this story. It’s so exciting, it’s like my magic. Writing has become even more important to my life than it already was. I will expand more on my writing and how I feel about it as this month trucks along. Please stay tuned to hear about the joys and stresses of the writing month. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to start your own project. 😉

Oh and I’ll be updating my TBR and being more honest with myself about what I really can finish in a month. Stay tuned!

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Camp NaNoWriMo July Has Begun!

Hello everyone! How have the first two days of July been for you? Hot? Yeah…hot, but so far so good I think.

If you don’t know National Novel Writing Month is officially in November however the organization (yes NaNoWriMo is an organization that does a lot of work besides host this fantastic event) also hosts camps in April and July every year. Which means this is day 2 of July camp! It’s free to sign up. You can set your goal however it pleases you; you can base it on number of hours writing or researching, number of words total and more. Typically official NaNoWriMo’s goal is to complete a novel in a month (yes this is a thing), or 50,000 words.

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According to Wikipedia the average children’s chapter book is 16,000 words while the average mystery novel is about 60-80,000 words. Meanwhile the average thriller can often be over 100,000 words. If you estimate 250 words per page that would mean the average mystery novel is 240-320 pages, a thriller being 400+. Now I’ve never read a Brandon Sanderson novel but my understanding is that all of his books are long being at least 500 pages. That said all three of the All Souls trilogy books were nearly 600 pages. Let’s just say that big books are common to the fantasy genre, if you ask me.

While 50,000 words might not be a whole novel that is the general idea behind the competition. Mostly you’re competing with yourself although you are able to see other people’s stats. If you reach 50k by the end of November then you won! In that event you have the chance to receive some NaNoWriMo paraphernalia. I did not win last year but I did in 2017 when I first took my WIP (work in progress) on as a novel. In 2017 I got a sticker, a cool t-shirt, a little rubber bracelet and a few other little things. Best of all I got the bragging rights, yeah I wrote 50k words in a month (or 63k+ in my case).

Was that a novel? No, not even close. In fact I said I’d finish the first draft before the start of 2018. My goal for July camp is to finish the first draft.

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In an older episode (maybe last November) of Death of A Thousand Cuts podcast, Tim Clare argued against participation in NaNoWriMo. Among other things he stated that you should be doing this regardless. You shouldn’t just write every day for 30 days because of some competition; if you’re a writer you will write every day because that’s what you do.

On the one hand I do agree with him. Absolutely you should be writing as much as you can because you’re a writer. Every time you write you’re practicing, exercising, putting your craft to work. You might not be a real writer if you only do it for NaNo, I’m sorry but I do believe that. However, I think NaNoWriMo is an excellent opportunity to catapult yourself and your project into a new stage of development. For myself NaNoWriMo was the kick off of my novel. My failure to focus and discipline myself to write no matter what is why it’s taken so long but NaNo gets credit for forcing me to take it to a new level.

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The recommended daily word count for November was 1,667 words. This is so doable, at least for me, if it’s not for you don’t feel bad, do your thing. But seeing those numbers and that graph does something for me. On a good day I can easily write 3k in an hour. So why not? Having to write every day, or make up for a day missed, meant that I had to tell my inner editor to shush and let the words come out. Follow leads I doubt, listen to my creative brain as it tosses ideas at me, follow the rabbit into the hole of my imagination. Accept, and understand, that the first draft will likely not be excellent and that’s okay. But get those bones together. Get that foundation built. Then revise, revise, revise. Think about it, how often were you expected to only write one draft in school? Yup…

NaNoWriMo feeds the competitive me and it provides me with a tangible goal that I feel I must accomplish. I have to enter those darn numbers. I have to watch the graph rise!!!! Writing a novel, unless you’ve already been commissioned, is a self-propelled project, task, job, opportunity, experiment, you name it. It’s up to you. And that isn’t always an easy thing. That means you make your writing schedule. You have to find that time and take it seriously. Discipline is key. Commitment and focus are required. You are your boss. And NaNoWriMo is this sweet nugget of a month in which I kind of have a different boss when it comes to my writing. That helps me.

Thus it is nice to have the camps as well. I joined June 30th for July camp and on the 1st I wrote about 1,146 words. Not the daily target, but I’ll make up for it. My goal for July camp is to complete my first draft. Then in November I will work on revisions. Is this intimidating? Yes. Is it doable? Hell yes! I hope to publish my novel in 2020 so I have got to step up my game and kick ass!

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Are you or have you done NaNoWriMo? Will you be joining this year? If you have any questions about my experience please ask. Let me know if you’re going to join camp or the official event in November. Another thing that’s great about this is the community. There’s a lot of dedicated writers out there who join NaNoWriMo every year. You can join a group in your area, physically or virtually. You can look for writing buddies to help hold you accountable. There are discussion forums and weekly e-mails of encouragement. There’s really A LOT going on with this organization. If you need a boost for a writing project I strongly recommend you at least look into NaNoWriMo and see if it works for you. Click the link in the last sentence or at the top of the post (there are links to NaNoWriMo & Camp). But do remember, it doesn’t stop there.

Cheers!

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Stay tuned for this week’s response to a writing prompt and last week’s since I missed it. I’ll find and pick one at random. As well as a post about my latest TBR additions, what I’m currently reading and read, and maybe more. 😉

If You Look Back Far Enough, You Can See…

I don’t ever do writing prompts. Why? It’s silly. Because I think that if I’m going to be writing something then I should be writing something I’m working on, an actual project of mine. My main work in progress (WIP) is my paranormal fantasy novel but I will also write a short story here and there should I be inspired to do so. The idea of writing prompts makes me think At the least I should be writing my own short story, not putting my time into some snippet just for fun…or am I looking at this all wrong? Perhaps I am.

A writing prompt isn’t necessarily all for fun and joy, it’s also for practice. But then I think, eh but who cares? Who’s going go want to read it? Well silly after all this time and all the stuff you’ve posted on your blog (this and the previous version which is no longer available) you’re really going to get stuck worrying about whether or not someone would read your response to a prompt? Come now, at least then they will get a taste of your creativity because what says anyone is going to read your thoughts on Outlander or you ranting review of some book you wanted or did love? And why do you care so much? Why don’t you try?

So I’m going to. I’m going to share responses to prompts I find anywhere on the web. Of course I’ll post the source. If you want to jump in and try it too go for it, share with me! Link back to me! But this is for my practice first but for your enjoyment second as well as a chance to get to know more about me as a writer. So let’s see…

Today’s prompt is actually from the June 18th on Writer’s Digest by Cassandra Lipp. The phrase to be used is “If you look back far enough, you can see…” in 500 words or less.

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By one I was done digging around in the dirt out back. I don’t know what my mother thought this was going to accomplish but I was done. I kept watch for her though she never came out I was sure she was watching me. Mom had eyes in the back of her head, even though I’d proven that to be a myth at least three years ago. If I had siblings I’d bet them now that if I stopped digging she’d be out here in 13 minutes spitting words all over me.

She told me to dig down 12 inches then move over six more if I didn’t find anything. That was 10 this morning when she’d brought me out here telling me to start by the apple tree. Sure I took breaks, she let me come in around 11:30 for lunch. And I figured I could get away with a good 10 minute sit every 20-30 minutes without being noticed. I don’t know how many holes I’d dug at that point but I was clear to the garage and ready to start crying. She’d have to do something then right? But I found it. A little metal box down at the bottom of my latest hole, that was my goal. I looked up but she wasn’t there. Yet. Was that for her or for me? I dug the hole a little wider so I could lift it out. Making sure there were no holes behind me I sat down in the grass and brushed the dirt from the box.

Now I know she didn’t tell me to open whatever I found. She didn’t tell me anything about after I found whatever. For all I knew she was mad I’d been secretly wearing makeup to school and wanted to punish me. But it would make me crazy if I gave this to her and never got to see inside. Parents can do that, whatever they want, they can do it.

The decision was easy, open it, peek around, close it. Put it back in the hole. Go get mom. Simple. But I had to be fast.

Inside I found at least 20 or more charms, the kind I put on my bracelets. There was a small notepad with writing in it. There were four small horses, metal, glass, wood and plastic. There was a smaller metal box. I lifted it out and there was mom.

It was a photo of her and my father holding a baby. It had to be me. They were sitting in the grass with a metal box between them, their legs crossed in front, mom had a small shovel in her hand. Then mom was with me.

“If you look back far enough, you can see he was always thinking of your future. He added new charms every year. His plan was to give you the box when you graduated high school. The notes say when, where, and why he picked each charm.”

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There you have it! I’m going to add a weekly prompt exercise to this here blog so if you want to read more or join in the fun, stay tuned. Sometimes I just might make one up for us all to try. 😉

Let me know what you think. Share your own. Like & follow if you please! And have a great start to your week. 😀

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Here’s What’s Up: Outlander & More!

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Here’s what’s up, another Saturday is here, can you believe it? I hope so otherwise there might be trouble in paradise. What else is up is that I’m catching up, or at least I’m trying, it’s only May right? Ha, I wish. Okay today I’d like to confess one of my latest binges, the TV adaptation of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I can’t tell you what channel to watch it on because I streamed it on Netflix although they only have seasons 1 & 2 I’ve learned she’s writing another book and they’re filming season five. What! For real.

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The TV series first aired in 2014 while the first book was published in 1991.

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From Goodreads:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach an ‘outlander’ in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

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This isn’t the first I’ve heard of this series, it was at least two years ago probably longer. I listened and watched many an author interview in which there was a panel of authors that included Diana Gabaldon, at least one also had George R.R. Martin. I listened along interested enough, though I didn’t know anything about her story or characters. Then one day several weeks ago I needed some background noise and so I went to Netflix and there it was. I thought, meh, what the heck, I’ve heard of this story so I’ll give it a shot. This became my go to show while riding my spin bike and winding down the evening.

While romance is not my go to genre this story is also fantasy, which is my genre. It has not disappointed. I indulged in the first two seasons with interest, intrigue, and plenty of shock. However upon learning there’s going to be a fifth season I can’t wrap my mind around this story seemingly going on forever. Sorry to all you die hard fans but it could have ended with the second season if you ask me. I like Jamie and Claire (the main protagonists) although I like Claire less because she annoys me sometimes.

It’s a heck of a story full of emotion and shocking twists. There’s also A LOT of graphic violence, sexual violence and of course sex. So if you’re sensitive or triggered don’t watch this show, it’s love and warfare across the board. Diana Gabaldon knows her craft to say the least, and it’s fair to say she did some impressive research. Nevertheless, I still think this is a good example of a story that shouldn’t go on and on just because it can.

DISCLAIMER: I know almost nothing about season three so if you feel like you want to slap me for my presumption I’m sorry. It’s just that I don’t believe that’s it’s going to be as interesting to follow the next generation around time and space. I’m sorry but until I gain access to the third season I’m going to hold my position.

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The main reason I want to talk about this today is because even as I haven’t (and won’t) read the books (because I’ve seen the show) there’s a lot a writer can learn from this series. For one this story shows us why it’s super important to have tension and to build on that tension in your story. Claire Randall is married in 1946 but falls in love in 1743 at the same time she’s dying to return to the present. Tension? Yup, loads. At the beginning of the show we see how Claire & Frank (her present day husband) truly love each other. So when she travels back in time we can feel her desperation to return to her husband. Of course she’s desperate to get back for a lot of reasons but we all worry for Frank and what he must be thinking after his wife mysteriously disappears. And then she has to marry Jamie in order to survive? Claire’s struggle with this marriage and the fact that she didn’t ever want to leave her husband is palpable. We the audience ride the emotional roller coaster alongside these characters.

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When I think about this story and The All Souls trilogy I’m taking notes for my own writing. It’s clear to me that a good story is like a tree. There’s a main theme – a witch finds a highly prized missing manuscript, a mysterious vampire is stalking her, and her powers are growing; a married woman accidentally travels 200 years into the past, while trying to get home she falls in love and must choose between her two lives – like the main trunk, it is the base of the story, the foundation. The trunk then branches out to large branches that divide further into small branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruits. When constructed the reader/audience is not left wanting. We don’t simply hope for the ending. We want to explore and discover all these nuanced divisions from the trunk. When written like this I think you’re always giving the reader something. Of course you have to hold out for the big reveals but let’s face it we don’t want to wait until the end of the book to learn new things and to get answers. Reveal other things to the reader. Teach us. Show us your world so we can explore because we can’t do it on our own. These other stories all build on the main trunk/theme ramping up my interest in the larger story. The added complexity raises the stakes and the tension.

As I may have mentioned before in The All Souls trilogy I was impressed that every chapter seemed to reveal something new to me. For instance in book two, Shadow of Night, I recall a chapter that ends with Matthew and Diana on a date. I really could care less about their date but whatever. As the chapter, and their date, came to a close I expected nothing more but a steamy end to their night. I got that but I also got a last minute reveal, like really last minute and it was a good one. Not only was that awesome for me as a reader but as a writer I was really impressed. That piece of information also brought me an answer to a couple of questions then brought up a host more. A lot of writers would have ended with that date, not every chapter can be thrilling right? And a lot of people would have been fine with that. But Deborah Harkness wasn’t. She let you relax into their date then BAM guess what!?

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Needless to say that stuck with me. As I develop my own story I remind myself to give my reader new information often, even if it’s little bits and pieces. Add buds, leaves, and flowers to your story tree, don’t just build a bare tree like a stick figure. As a reader I don’t think I want to read a story that just starts and finishes unless it’s a short story. Reflecting on these stories and more, stories that I really enjoyed reading, I recognize that I’m apt to get lost in them if they’re more than just a main theme/trunk. It seems that it’s easier to forget you’re reading a story if it weaves around and doesn’t just travel from A to Z to answer the main question.

Think about it in terms of the clip below, in terms of boxing matches. Do you want to watch a fight where one guy just knocks out the other guy and we have a clear winner? Or do you want to watch a fight in which it’s a battle, they exchange blows, and you’re not quite sure just who will win but ultimately it’s a clear win (maybe someone does get knocked out)?

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Of course there’s a caveat. Don’t just add separate story lines and characters in an attempt to make your story more dynamic and nuanced. They have to grow naturally from the trunk, not be grafted on in a lab. Your reader will only be more upset to be sent on a fruitless tangent or one that feels forced. Brainstorm. Ask yourself a lot of questions about your character’s motivations and your own. Question if what you just wrote makes sense in regard to your characters. Make sure you can come back seamlessly from one of these other branches. Don’t just write it just to write it, we the reader will know and we’ll frown at you. Plus IMHO such moves add the wrong kind of weight to a story.

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Thanks so much for reading and visiting. I hope you found this post insightful both in terms of how you use reading and how you write. Please let me know if you did and how perhaps this helped you progress.

Have you seen or read Outlander? What are your thoughts?

Don’t forget to follow me if you enjoyed this and would like to hear more about what I’m reading, writing and watching. If you want to read more of Here’s What’s Up with Writing CLICK HERE.

Here you’ll find my reviews.

And my 2019 TBR.

Until next time,

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