Reading Nourishes Writing

    Yes, I’ve Read That Book … And, No, I Couldn’t Tell You A Thing About It

    I have a question to pose this week, and it’s kind of a strange one: How important is it for us to remember the books that we read? Or, more specifically, how much of a book is it important for us to remember?

    The main message, surely, is an important nugget to wedge into your gray matter after completing a novel. Once you close the covers of the Harry Potter novels, you should probably remember, if asked, that a main lesson was to defeat evil with love and not the other way around.

    The main characters, too, should probably at least ring a bell. You might not remember their names, but hopefully you can recall something of what they wanted. Maybe you don’t remember that the main character of 1984 was named Winston (who could blame you, really), but you could probably, if pressed, recall that he was trying to rebel against an oppressive government, to escape the watchful eye of Big Brother.

    The general idea of the setting is another aspect of a novel that you probably don’t want to blank on. If someone holds up a copy of Game of Thrones and asks you where it takes place, and you can’t remember if the story happens in an underwater submarine or in the magma-spitting center of a rumbling volcano in dire need of a lozenge*, that’s probably going to be embarrassing.

    * it’s one of those two, right?

    But, is it that big of a deal if you can’t recall the actual events of the book? If a year passes and you can’t really remember much about a book’s plot, does that mean you’ve failed as a reader — or that the book has failed as a written work? How detailed does the footprint have to be to count as an impression left on the reader? Are we talking bruise marks in the exact grooves of the tread, or can it just be a marking vaguely heel-shaped? Can you still count a book as one of your favorites if you can’t actually remember anything that happened in it?

    I think so.

    Read more…


    My 2018 Bookish Goals!

    #BoutofBooks has all wrapped up! I can’t say I did amazingly at reading last week. My ambition to complete three books wasn’t quite fulfilled, though I did finish Wide Sargasso Sea and — er — start Salt to the Sea. That’s pretty good, right?

    *nervous sweat*

    What can I say? My time was monopolized. I got caught up in reading Fire and Fury, and it always takes me a long time to read nonfiction (even gossipy, salacious, less-than-substantive nonfiction) and, in my defense, I also started reading this really amazing fic Dirt, from The Last of Us. If only GoodReads let you count 200,000 word fanfics towards your yearly reading goal, am I right?

    Anyway, January is nearly half over (somehow. has anyone else accomplished exactly nothing so far this month? Just me? Oh, okay, cool. Just checking.) and it’s time to share some of my naively earnest goals for 2018.

    My 5 Bookish Goals for 2018

    Read more…

    Reading Nourishes Writing

    Bout of Books 21 | Announcement

    Hello, Happy Writers! I hope 2018 is treating you well so far. (Or at least not battering-you-about-the-head as much as 2017 did…) I have a boatload of resolutions this year, mostly around productivity and positivity, and one of them is — surprise, surprise — to read more books. That’s why I’m participating in the 21st round of Bout of Books!

    Bout of Books is a low-pressure readathon where you can set whatever goal you’d like, meet other readers and bloggers, and generally spend a week making an effort to read a little more than you might’ve done otherwise. I always have a ball participating in the 24 Hour Readathon, but I’m definitely looking forward to a little more casual affair this time. (Sitting down and reading for 24 hours straight is tough, you guys.)

    Here are some of the books I’m hoping to finish (or at least make a sizable dent in) this week:

    Cover to Wide Sargasso Sea

    Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

    From the GoodReads description:

    Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. But soon after their marriage, rumors of madness in her family poison his mind against her. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals.

    The Cover to the Library at Mount Char

    The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins

    From the GoodReads description:

    […] Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
    Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.
    As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own.
    But Carolyn has accounted for this.
    And Carolyn has a plan.
    The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

    Salt to the Sea Book Cover

    Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

    From the GoodReads description:

    Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories.
    Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept…


    Are you participating in Bout of Books this week? I’d love to know what books you’re planning on devouring! Drop me a comment, let’s chat!

    The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

    For Writers

    5 Tips for Writing the First Chapter #WritingAdvice

    Notebook and pencil with the words Writing The First Chapter

    There is a lot of pressure on a novelist to write a perfect first chapter. These words, these scenes, these ten or fifteen pages will be the first impression a prospective agent, editor, or reader will have of your novel, and you want to make them count.

    So, the question begs — what makes a good first chapter? What should the beginning of my story accomplish?

    The short answer: your first chapter needs to set the scene, introduce the main character, introduce the conflict, and lead to the trigger/inciting incident of your story

    What does all that entail? Let’s get into it.

    Read more…

    For Writers

    The Writer’s Tag!

    The Writer's Tag

    I have been meaning to do the Writer’s Tag (plucked from PaperFury’s archive ages and ages ago) for a very long time, and now I am finally getting around to it! There just aren’t enough writing-related tags and surveys out there for us writing blogs, and this one has some great questions for getting to know each other. So, sharpen those pencils and crack open those blisteringly white empty Word documents and get to it!

    what genres styles topics do you write about?

    For genres, I’m definitely a fantasy nut, but I have several more modern and less fantastical WIPs on my docket for 2018, including a murder mystery and a zombie virus! I definitely tend towards speculative, whether it be fantasy, horror, or science fiction, though.

    For styles, I don’t think I’ve ever not written in Third Person POV (usually with a focal lens privy to the inner thoughts of one or another POV character). And it’s past tense all the way, baby! Usually my outlines are in the present tense, and I do like the immediacy that present tense provides, but I always find I skimp on the description and that my pacing is WAY too fast when I stay in present tense for very long.

    As for my writing style … I tend to get lyrical and long-winded when I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say, whereas when I have a firmer handle on the plot, my sentences tend to be shorter, more to-the-point, and sometimes even a little sparse on the details. Navigating between the two extremes when revising is a … special challenge.

    Now, topicsthat’s an interesting question! I answered a question on Twitter about recurring themes and images not long ago:

    No, but seriously, I have three — count them, THREE — WIPs in which the characters have either met, crashed into, or otherwise found themselves lost in a forest by the second or third chapter. What’s up with that??

    Other topics that recur often in my writing: LGBT characters, self-deprecating humor (that often serves to lull the reader into a false sense of security before something AWFUL happens — is that mean?), fights against injustice, and characters that hate each other right until they become best friends for life.


    Read more…


    November Update; On Plans, And What To Do When They Fall Apart

    In the last few weeks, there’s been a movement (or maybe a meme) for Millennials – at least those of us currently latched to our Twitter feeds, forced to watch the democratic institutions of our country implode 280 characters at a time – to binge watch Frasier on Netflix. It’s the new Thing, and I’ll admit I’ve been suckered in by the sudden influx of Frasier Discourse floating around. Though I’ve been lately falling asleep to an episode or so of Ken Burns The Roosevelt’s documentary, last night I watched two or three episodes of Frasier instead.

    I had forgotten what a funny, smartly written show it was, or how overtly dramatic Frasier Crane was over every single mild upset life threw his way. I get it, twitter peeps. Frasier Crane is literally all of us. We just didn’t know it at the time.

    Frasier, for those of us not well versed in their late 80’s, early 90’s sitcom lore, was a spin-off of Cheers – another binge-worthy show now available on Netflix. (Bring back Roseanne, Netflix, or I swear…). Cheers took place in a bar in Boston, where Frasier Crane and his (rather intense) wife Lilith were frequent secondary characters. To account for the existence of the spin-off, which relocated Frasier across the continental United States in his home town of Seattle, hosting a pop psychology radio show and begrudgingly allowing his father and a live-in care worker to live with him in his lavish, eclectic apartment, conveniently in the eye of the space needle, it was told to us in the Pilot that Frasier had divorced Lilith and moved back home for a new chapter of his life. Because of this unexpected turn in the path, he had to leave his son behind, his practice, and everything he thought he had built in Boston.

    Something struck me towards the end of the Pilot episode. During his radio show, where he gives advice to call-in patients, Frasier takes a call from someone who says she has just broken up with her boyfriend of eight years and cannot stop crying. Is she mourning the relationship, she asks? Frasier explains that no, she isn’t. She is mourning the life she had thought she had planned for herself, but which has now been completely reshuffled.

    I thought that was such a poignant and insightful observation – that sometimes the plans we make fall apart, and not only do we have to adjust to this new reality, but we have to give ourselves the time and the space to mourn the story we had written in our heads of The Way Things Are Going To Be, and which now seems dashed, foiled, scrubbed out.

    Read more…