• Reading Nourishes Writing

    Books I’m Looking Forward To Devouring: My Spring TBR

    Does anyone else feel like 2018 is lasting both a thousand years and yet passing by in the blink of an eye? March has been slipping through my fingers and the consistency of my blogging has been a little lax. I have been working diligently on my GoodReads goal, though! So far this month, my favorite book that I’ve read has easily been Obsidiothe final book of the Illuminae trilogy. UGH. Those books are heart-pounding, I highly recommend them, especially now that the trilogy is done and you can binge them all in one sitting!

    For my Spring TBR (and for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday), I’m trying to think of some of the books I’m looking forward most to read — both those coming out in the second half of this year, and books I’ve had on my shelves for ages that I’m eager to finally crack open.

  • Reading Nourishes Writing

    January Reading Wrap Up (+ Mini-Reviews!)

    Hello, happy writers! I have to admit, as we crash into a rather dreary and windy February, I’m torn between two states of mind: January lasted literally 800 years and How in the world is January already over???

    January felt like a bit of a dud month to me. I didn’t get nearly the amount of writing and editing accomplished that I wanted to, and I had a hard time concentrate on writing in general. But! I did get a few things done! Sort of!

    One of the achievements I managed in January was to read 8 books! There are a lot of bloggers for which 8 books in a month is standard, if even a low number for them, but for me, it was a pretty big deal! I averaged finishing about two books a week, which made me feel really good. I found that I was generally in a more creative place and attitude the more consistently I read, so I’m hoping to keep up with this pace throughout the year. Fingers crossed!

    Now, onto the reviews!

  • Blog

    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

  • Reading Nourishes Writing

    10 Books I Read Because of Bookstagram

    This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is Books You Read Because of Recommendations. I’ll be the first to tell you: I’m kind of really bad about reading books people specifically tell me to read? As soon as there’s any kind of expectation, as soon as I feel like they’re waiting for me to read the book, I panic and can’t handle the responsibility. So, flat-out recommendations don’t always work on me. I think I need to discover books for myself, and follow my random reader-ly whims?

    Let me tell you what does work on me, hook, line, and sinker: pretty pictures on the internet. I am really, really, really bad about bouncing from my Instagram app to my Amazon app and nabbing a new book based on a pretty cover artfully posed next to a coffee cup. I don’t know what consumer itch that scratches, but it definitely works on me.

    So, here are a few of my favorite books that I read because of a superficial attraction to pretty pictures on the internet because of Bookstagram.

  • 3 Tips for Writing a Bookish Character
    Blog,  WIP Wednesday

    3 Tips For Writing a Bookish Character

    3 Tips for Writing a Bookish Character

    I’m afraid I completely forgot to submit to last week’s WIP Wednesday (we’re deep in puppy preparations over here, people. My seven year old golden retriever Riggs should be getting a new baby brother by the end of the week… If you’re wondering what that noise is, it’s probably me, excitedly and incessantly squealing.) So, I thought I would double-up this week and talk about both themes: Characters Who Read, and Characters Who Write.

    I’m definitely guilty of making my characters as bookish as possible. One of my characters is a professional writer (travel books that help explain his encyclopedic knowledge of the WIP’s fantasy world), but I think almost all of my main characters are shown, at some point, with either a book or a pen in their hands. Showing your characters reading or writing can be difficult to fit into your story — after all, a story is about plot and forward momentum, and if your character is taking a break to lounge on the couch with a novel, then they’re not exactly running around saving the world, are they?

    There are ways to put across that your character is delightfully bookish, though, without having to hit pause on your story:

    1. Show That They Own Books, At the Very Least

    One technique I’ve found effective is to slide into the story hints at the characters’ reading habits. For instance, while my main character is snooping around another character’s bedroom, he notices a pile of books:

    He gravitated towards the table cluttered with papers. Many of these were unfurled maps and half-finished correspondence. There were books, too, a guidebook and a mystery novel, and a red leather-bound volume with thick waxy pages that stood out from the rest.

    I’ve also had him root through another character’s bag (he … doesn’t have many boundaries when it comes to personal belongings, I’m realizing as I type this…) and a quick reference there tells us this character also keeps books on them at all times:

    The inside of Ol’s bag was far deeper and wider than it looked from the outside, expanded by some force of nature, or Fog, or Gallifreyan technology at least. Charley shoved aside books and sweaters and cans of green beans. He dug through a layer of boxer shorts; pushed past what must’ve been a dozen sheathed knives […]

    If it doesn’t serve your story, you don’t have to show a character sitting down to read. Showing that they have books in their living space, in their bags, having them hold a book as they walk into a scene, or snap a book closed as another character comes in to talk can all demonstrate to the reader your character’s bookishness without slowing things down.

  • For Writers,  Reading Nourishes Writing

    Required Reading: 10 Books Every Writer Should Read To Boost Creativity and Feel Totally Awesome

    Consider the following scenario: You’re grappling for a description your brain flatly doesn’t want to visualize. Your characters are standing on a dock overlooking a lake, and for some reason your pesky gray matter is acting like you’ve never even seen a lake before. What does a lake look like?? you ask yourself in a state of panic. … Wet?

    Or maybe you want to name a character or location in your novel something significant, something historical and symbolic that’ll make future academics nod approvingly at your cleverness. Only, the spells in Harry Potter exhibit the breadth of your Latin education…

    Or, after months of labor, you’ve stapled, glued, spackled, spat, and slapped your story together only to step back and find … it looks slightly wobbly, crooked and flimsy, and like a asthmatic’s breathless wheeze could knock it clear over. (As an asthmatic who has before found herself unable to summon the lung capacity to blow out birthday candles, I truly understand the meaning behind that hyperbole.)

    In all of these cases, books are your best friends.

    The books in this list are ones I consider Required Reading for people who love to write. They’re books that’ll fill your brain with juicy words to chew on, books that’ll help you fix problems you’re having with your draft, books that’ll answer creepy questions like “what if I want my protagonist to get shot, but not too shot, if you know what I mean?”

    (I genuinely believe we’ve all Googled that quandary as writers. Does “I don’t want him to die, just have a pretty bad time…” sound at all familiar?)

    Without further ado…

    10 Books Every Writer Should Read To Boost Creativity and Feel Totally Awesome


    1. The Descriptive Thesaurus Series

    I love these books so much. My first foray into the Descriptive Thesaurus series was the Emotion Thesaurus, but I just got the two beauties pictured above last week, and I am getting so much use out of them already. The idea of the Rural and Urban Settings Thesauruses is to help writers visualize the settings of their novels by offering concrete, sensory details to kickstart your creativity.

    For instance, the Urban Settings entry for an Alley lists sights commonly found in alleyways (from “crushed takeout cups” to “broken wood pallets”), associated sounds (“wind scraping trash into the corner”), smells (always incredibly helpful to me, as I don’t have a sense of smell!), tastes, and textures (such as “the squishy, wet give of stepping on trash” and “rough bricks beneath a palm.”)

    These thesauruses aren’t meant to do your writing for you, but rather help you get into the mindset of the scene you’re trying to set. If you haven’t been in an abandoned alleyway any time recently (or a submarine, military helicopter, carnival funhouse, etc.) it can be hard to remember all those little details that make a description so vivid! I love these books.

  • Reading Nourishes Writing

    Reading Nourishes Writing: Upcoming Readathons

    “Reading Nourishes Writing” is a hugely important maxim over here at Happy Writer, one that I remind myself of constantly. (Especially when I’m feeling guilty for setting aside my laptop for a few more minutes of reading time.) As a writer, nothing will boost your creativity more than reading books, than filling your head up with words, and beautiful descriptions, and vivid settings, and characters so real you can see the sunlight glinting off their hair and hear the padding of their feet as they walk across the room.

    Reading books will show you how other authors solved problems, how they structured their story, how they fleshed out their characters. You wouldn’t try to build a car without ever looking at the insides of a real, working car, would you? You can flip through dry manuals, sure, but a real peek under the hood will help you visualize where all those nuts and bolts and tube-y bits really fit. (Tube-y bits. I obviously know tons about cars.) Same principle! Learn by Doing. Write by Reading.

    So, if you’re a writer out there who feels a little guilty whenever you set aside your WIP to read a couple more pages of a book, don’t! You’re filling the well, inking the pen, eating the food that’ll give you energy to keep moving. And, if you’re a person like me, who has mountains of books she never quite finds the time to conquer, here are some upcoming readathons that’ll help motivate you to take that break, refill that well, and read some books!

    Upcoming Readathons: Fall 2016

    The Great Twitter Readathon: Hosted by Sierra Abrams, this readathon will run exclusively on Twitter September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. There is an optional group read as well as group chats, if you’d like to join in!

    The Tackle Your TBR ReadathonEvery year, Wishful Endings hosts the Tackle Your TBR Readathon. Running from September 12th through the 26th, the Tackle Your TBR Readathon is a laidback, no-stress challenge that demands no expectations: just a chance to motivate ourselves to read a little more than we might’ve normally and make a dent in our towering To Be Read stacks!

    Banned Book-A-Thon: This weeklong celebration of Banned Books Week will run from September 25th to October 1st. Here is the video announcement and the Twitter to follow.

    Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: Held twice a year in October and April, the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is my favorite reading event. A full day of challenges, prizes, snacks, and a bajillion pages read. This year’s event will be on Saturday, October 22.

    The FrightFall Readathon: Hosted by SeasonsReadings, this readathon will run from October 3rd through the 7th.

    Epic Reads Open Reading Decathlon: Or, if you can’t fit a formal readathon into your schedule, might I suggest the open-ended Epic Reads Reading Decathlon challenge? All you have to do is read 10 books in 10 days! Easy, right? (heh. sweats)

    Have you ever participated in a readathon? What’s your best number of books you’ve ever read in a single week? If you know of any other readathons happening soon, leave them in a comment below and I’ll add to this post!