Blogging Contest · Books I Love · NaNoWriMo

#21 Number of Books on Your Bookshelf

Image attributed to Elliott Brown from Birmingham, United Kingdom via Wikimedia Commons.

Hee hee. This topic is how I got my first e-reader. Before I was married, I use to haunt used bookstores for hardbound versions of classic books that I hadn’t read yet. I think I still have a copy of The Mill on the Floss that I was afraid to read because the pages seemed so brittle. But it looked so awesome on my shelf!

My favorite bookstore used to be Trans Allegheny Books in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The building was built in 1905 as a Carnegie Library. Yes, that Carnegie. It had stained glass,¬†a wrought iron spiral staircase, and the floors creaked just the way I like. ūüėÄ I would have loved to wear one of my period dresses,¬†which I had from playing harp, and wandered around the shelves, pretending I lived in a time before I was born.

I don’t think I ever really grew out of the dress-up phase.

Anyway, I was drawn to used book stores like a moth to flame, and at one point I counted over 300 books. I would categorize them by author. When I lived with my parents, my bedroom was a converted attic with sloped ceilings, so I used wooden crates stacked on their sides for my bookshelves. When I got married, we got a traditional bookshelf. And no matter how many times I organized and re-organized my books alphabetically by author, hubby always went through them at some point, and messed it all up somehow.

I never understood why, because he doesn’t read fiction.

Hubby is a very practical minimalist. My books were sitting on my shelf doing nothing “useful.” So I did a purge of many of the paperbacks that I’d already read. I got an e-reader by convincing him that I would purge more of them (which I did). Fortunately, most of the digital copies of my favorite classics are free, so I didn’t pay to have the books¬†again. Now, I’ve added about 90 Astraea Press books to my Kindle and them some. So I’d say I have upwards of about 400 books. ūüėÄ

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 19,425. I miss the Y. I haven’t been able to go as much as I thought I would. ūüė¶

Blogging Contest · Books I Love · NaNoWriMo

#20 Words Or Storyline? How Do Books Make Your “Favorites” List?

Image attributed to ALA TechSource from Chicago, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Words certainly count for a lot, but I’d have to say storyline. And even then, if something turns me off I shut the book. Conversely, if I really love the storyline, I’ll read it again and again. So I guess I’ll talk about the repeat favorites.

As a kid, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. I loved how the magic of a simple neglected garden could benefit the lives of two neglected children. Burnett didn’t even have to mention it, but you could feel Lily’s spirit helping her son and niece become happier and healthier children. Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts but it’s fun to dream about them.

A Christmas Carol is another favorite. Another ghost story. Go figure. I suppose it’s nice to think of a spirit giving us a gentle nudge (or in Scrooge’s case not so gentle) in the right direction. But I’ve also favored¬†books such as Pride and Prejudice, where a girl doesn’t give up her values and marry for money just because her family is in a bind. I was going to list Jane Eyre and The Lord of the Rings, separately, but as odd as it is to lump them together they are both classic underdog stories. I’ve always loved the underdog.

Speaking of underdogs, Harry Potter is another favorite, but more so because of the lesson against bigotry that the books teach. A less epic, but more grown up version of this theme can be found in By the Light of the Moon. I love how the course of the story forces the characters to realize just how strongly they detest bigotry. The bonus in BTLOTM, is the words. Koontz is very descriptive, but I especially enjoy how poetic he seems to get during the more intense scenes.

One of the more frustrating books that I shut? Love In the Time of Cholera. I was enjoying the plot of life on a sugar plantation, but then it turned into page after page of details with prostitutes. What? Okay, really, I didn’t need that. Just a small description of how he went philandering, so I can get back¬†to the plot that drew me in. Ugh. Never finished it.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 18,912 lol, don’t think I’m gonna make 50,000 by November 30th, but I’m loving how my plot is going. At least it’s been circumstances that keep me from writing and not writer’s block. ūüôā I’ll keep pushing though, to see how much I can manage this month.

Blogging Contest · Harp · NaNoWriMo

#19 Your Greatest Fan

Ick, sometimes I feel as if I’m my own greatest fan. Which is about as sad and¬†silly as I’m My Own Grandpa.

I’d love it if my hubby were my greatest fan, but when he reads, it’s always non-fiction. I don’t think that harps and romance or faeries and druids will appeal to him. ūüėČ So, unless I sell a million copies of my books, my writing will look like just a hobby to him.

Having a hobby doesn’t really draw fans.

I suppose my greatest fan depends on which book you’re talking about. So far. For either one, my fans are my mom and step-mom (whom I also call Mom, just to add lovely confusion ūüėČ ).

My¬†birth-mom has the same taste in reading as I do. She and I enjoy¬†discussing the finer points of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series. She liked Harp Lessons, but has been really enjoying being my beta reader for The Stone of Kings.¬†When I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go with TSOK,¬†we had wonderful¬†brainstorming sessions. That always got the story moving again.

My step-mom is more of a visual artist, but has provided most of the inspiration for both my finished¬†books. She has encouraged my writing throughout my childhood, got me started playing harp, and took me on my first trip to New York City, where she grew up. She and her mom, my Grandma Caroline, told me endless stories of Ireland and what it was like to live there. If you’ve read Harp Lessons, do these things sound familiar? Naturally, Mom has been tickled pink that I’m now¬†a published author.

I know there are those outside of my family¬†who have loved Harp Lessons. But I can’t imagine having many “fans” since I’ve only got one book out there so far. I’m quite happy to have my mothers as my greatest fans. But it’ll be nice to start getting¬†multiple five-star¬†reviews that my fellow author friends (who have great backlists) have.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 17,462

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#18 NaMoWriMo Goals

Survive the month.

Okay, okay. That’s too general. Hmm,¬†goal #1, write¬†1,667 words a day to hit 50,000. For me, writing longhand, that means about three hours of writing a day. Scratch that. Make it four to five hours, because there are going to be days that I can’t write, particularly around Thanksgiving.

Four to five doesn’t sound too bad. If I can do that as much as possible, I can have more than Thanksgiving off. Maybe I’ll even finish early!

*slaps face* Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Okay so goal #2. I really want to do what this contest was designed for. I want to turn off my inner editor and let the story come out the way my subconscious wants it to be told.

Goal #3¬†is to plan a little better. I’m a total pantser, and that’s probably why my inner editor screams at me all the time and slows me down. I have nightmares…okay, well, daymares of getting stuck in November¬†because I haven’t researched the aspect of the Civil War that my plot takes me if I don’t plan it out well enough. Then my eyes will be bugging out on Wikipedia for hours trying to come up a historical fix for the predicament that I put my characters in.

Researching instead of writing… I can’t imagine that’s a good thing for November.

Finally, goal #4¬†is to prove to myself that writing a book in a month can be done. I mean, I¬†know¬†it can be done, there are thousands of winners who prove that. One of my author friends from Astraea Press, who has participated in NaNoWriMo several times, is attempting 50,000 x 2 this year! But I need to know that I can do it. If I can, When I do, I’d like to write that way whenever a book idea hits me. That way I can just get to the end already. I never know yet how my books end. It’s like having read through 4 different books and never having finished them. Then you spend your hours wondering how they end.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: hahaha! How ironic that this post goes up today! I couldn’t put off laundry and other chores any longer, and since I was catching up on chores I decided to catch up on sleep and go to bed “early.” Word count’s the same. Am going to a write-in tonight though! I may not get to goal, but I’m not giving up! ūüėÄ

Blogging Contest · Gluten · NaNoWriMo

#17 Relate A Recent Epiphany (er…”Aha!” Moment)

You look at this and see: wheat. I look at it and see: POISON! Image attributed to User:Bluemoose via Wikimedia Commons.

I love having an epiphany, especially when it comes to writing. I love when research pulls my plot into a new direction or adds a¬†dimension that I hadn’t thought of before. But I’ve actually wrote about those epiphanies many times on my blog. So instead, I’m going to write about one of my most important¬†epiphanies¬†which also directly affects my writing;¬†gluten.

So I’m going along doing the mom thing, when a friend of mine suggests a smoothie recipe. I go out and stock up on wheat germ, wheat bran, flax seed, frozen blueberries and yogurt. The first couple of weeks are like… POW! I was like a minivan with a turbo setting. That smoothie gave me so much energy, I didn’t get hungry till 2pm.

This was not the epiphany.

Then I felt miserable. Nausea, vomiting, cramping, extreme fatigue, etc. As if that wasn’t enough, my brain couldn’t seem to connect to my writing hand. I couldn’t remember things that had happened five minutes before.

This was obviously not the epiphany.

For a month, my GI “specialist” ran all kinds of tests trying to figure out my physical symptoms while I started seeing a psychologist for my mental symptoms. I was down to eating oatmeal and chicken noodle soup all day, everyday because I thought, at the time, that those were supposed to be the most gentle to the stomach. Then the specialist suggested that my problems were from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The translation for IBS is: “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Stop clogging up my appointment calendar. Here’s a pamphlet. Good luck.”

The pamphlet told me to look for my trigger foods. I was thinking “trigger foods” meant peanuts, strawberries, or chocolate. Then finally, another friend mentioned Celiac Disease. Wait…what? My grandma has that. She can’t eat wheat.

Cue the epiphany complete with a bright light, gust of wind, and full choir. “Ahh!”

It totally explained my symptoms including the bouts of lactose intolerance that would come and go for no rhyme or reason. Cutting gluten has been the best thing I have done for my body, and I wish I’d known to do it sooner. I certainly would have been a better student growing up.¬†I’m so thankful to both those friends for pointing me in the right direction. ūüėÄ

There are over 200 symptoms of Celiac Disease, including everything from fibromyalgia to ADHD. If you would like more information please go to

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 16,624

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#16 Atmosphere Challenge: Describe Where You’re At

Okay, so maybe my house isn’t quite THIS messy. Image attributed to Luca Masters from Chocowinity, NC, USSA via Wikimedia Commons.

I am at home. Other than the sound of my tickety-type, the only thing to be heard in the house is three-year old Charlie upstairs who is trying to fall asleep for nap time. He likes to turn his head from side to side and sound out one long note. It makes me think of a rather lazy police siren.

Toys litter the livingroom floor, turning it into a minefield. One wrong step,¬†will send a Lego clattering loudly across the hardwood. Worse yet¬†is to¬†bump into Thomas the Tank Engine, making him let off a shrill whistle and say, “That was fun!”

Uh-huh. Maybe for you.

I do my best to tip toe around the toys of mass destruction so as to allow Charlie a fair chance of going to sleep. But though I know he can’t hear me, he has as much chance of going to sleep as I do of winning the Miss America pageant. Unless it’s fifteen minutes before we have to leave to pick his brother up from school. He’s sure to fall asleep then.

My share of the mess is more methodical. I have¬†fourteen whole newspapers (two weeks worth) that I haven’t gotten around to pulling the coupon circulars out of. After I finally get to it, there will also be a filing crate of circulars, that I need to go through to throw out the pages that expired last month. Ooh, and after that, there’s a shelf in the garage that is¬†loaded with¬†newspapers that need to be taken to the recycle center.

Hmm, if I stop couponing, then we wouldn’t have the extra money to buy the boys more toys, then I wouldn’t have a minefield to walk through at nap time!

Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to fly.

Instead I’ll just have to relish the five minutes a day when the house is clean. In the meantime, I should¬†look into investing in gear to protect me from toy shrapnel.

Things my mother never told me would happen when I had kids. But to be fair, she had girls.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 15,657

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#15 Dialogue Challenge: Talk to Your Pet or Favorite Animal

Image attributed to Gourami Watcher via Wikimedia Commons.

I don’t have a pet right now, but am thinking about getting a¬†guinea pig since I miss having a fuzzy animal curled¬†in my lap when I read or write (hubby’s allergic to cats ūüė¶ ). The following is what I imagine what¬†GP and I¬†will talk about:

I walk over to GP’s cage and undo the latch. “Wanna cuddle on my lap for a while?”

GP stays put in the far corner and says, “Nah, I was thinking about taking a nap.”

I give her an incredulous stare. “Seriously? You just woke up.”

“I wasn’t sleeping. I read somewhere that some insomnia is caused by the eyelids’ inability to close. I was just testing mine.”

“You made that up.”

GP looks at a random point past my shoulder. “No, I didn’t.”

“C’mon, there’s shredded carrot in it for ya.”

GP scoots¬†her wiggly¬†butt¬†over to the door and allows me to carry her to the desk. I pass her some carrot and she asks, “So, since I’m going to stay awake anyway, whacha writing?”

“A blog post.”

“You’re not much on elaboration, are you? Are you sure anyone is going to read this post of yours?”

“Maybe. It doesn’t matter yet.”

GP coughs on her carrot. “Doesn’t matter? Honey, I don’t do anything unless there is an incentive. If it doesn’t matter, then why do it?”

“Well, it doesn’t matter that hundreds of people read it. What matters is that it’s going to help me become a better writer.”

“What kind of writer do you want to be?”

“I want to change the way society thinks for the better. Kind of like Harriet Beecher Stowe or Charles Dickens. It’s part of the meaning of life for me.”

“I thought the meaning of life was forty-two.”

“Go to sleep GP.”

“Ah! Now that’s something I can understand.” GP promptly closes her eyes and begins to purr as I stroke her ginger fur.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 13, 691.

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#14 A Description of Your Dream Blog

Is MY wand in there somewhere? I could really use one! Image attributed to Jeremy Thompson from United States of America via Wikimedia Commons.

The first things I thought about for my dream blog belong in the world of Harry Potter. With a simple flick of my trusty wand, my blog would magically give me compelling topics to write about, load the perfect title automatically, and come up with one-line hooks that gets folks interested in reading what I have to say.

But as Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Not only am I a simple muggle, but all those magical fixes defeat the purpose of why I blog. Unless I can magically make myself a better writer. But if I’m not mistaken, those sort of spells don’t usually work out so well. ūüėČ

So instead, I’ll go the muggle route and talk about what would make my blog even better aside from my skills needing improved upon.

One of the main things that has always bothered me is all the quirky tech issues getting in the way of the how I’d like it to look. So yeah, I’d get all the widgets I want¬†working properly. I could connect my readers to my publisher and eventually to my Facebook¬†fan page (which I’ll probably set up when I get closer to releasing The Stone of Kings). I’d also have a custom-made¬†banner design that encompasses who I am as a writer. It would represent how I try to open reader’s minds with my fiction.

Which brings me to the most important part…

I will have improved my writing so that I can encourage people to change their perceptions for the better. My blog posts (and books) will prompt others to remember to treat those around them for who they are and not what they look like. It will inspire my readers to find common interests with others rather than reasons to argue. It will influence us to learn from mistakes instead of ignore them.

And most of all, it will be fun!

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 12,809. Over 2k written yesterday without even having gone to the Y! That’s more like it! ūüėÄ

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#13 Thoughts on Shakespeare?

Image attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA via Wikimedia Commons.
Image attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Ha! I even already had an image from a long ago post on the subject. Well, feels like long ago, anyway.

I loved studying Shakespeare in college. I know I took at least three classes which focused on him and his plays. My favorite class was online at USF and studied how different scenes had been produced on-screen in different ways. We usually had to explain why we agreed or disagreed with the interpretation and cite our answers with evidence from the text.

Talk about an in-depth approach!

As a kid, my parents used to take my sister and I to Shakespeare in the Park. I remember being mesmerized by scenes, but of course, I had no idea what was going on. After all, the actors spoke (what I thought at the time to be) Old English. But the construct and flow of words still pulled me in and I was hooked on that wonderful iambic pentameter.

I have an easier time understanding the plays these days, though I still pull out my trusty Bevington¬†if I want¬† to make certain that I’ve got a firm grasp of a scene. Some of the more archaic terminology continues to elude me¬†unless¬†I look up the¬†definition.

But my, aren’t some of these words fun?

Robustious periwig-pated, bare bodkin, orisons, argosies, beshrew, peck of provender, scambling…

Why did they ever fall into obscurity?

My favorite play is Hamlet and my favorite production is the beautiful Kenneth Branagh version, though I enjoyed the 1980 BBC version as well. I loathe the Mel Gibson version. I felt Gibson put too much of his own spin on the character and lost all the charm that Shakespeare put into him. I’d go into more detail, but it’s been too long since I’ve seen that one, and I have no desire to subject myself to it again.

As a final note, yes,¬†we named our first son¬†William because of Shakespeare. Though hubby will tell you that he’s named for William Wallace. ūüėČ

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 10,744

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#12 What Makes Writing Really “Worth It” to You?

It’s aliiiive!!! Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Yes, I’m going to go all clich√© and say that I’m pleased as punch if I touch just one person with my writing. Of course I want all my readers to appreciate my words, but I know that’s not going to happen.

When I wrote Harp Lessons, my target audience was my family. It¬†truly doesn’t matter to me if no one else likes it (though I hope they do), because I didn’t write it for them. The Stone of Kings is a different matter.

I wrote TSOK because it’s the kind of book I would like to read. So, kind of like HL, what made¬†writing worth it was creating the story and making it better than the last one. Um, but yeah, I’d probably be a bit bummed if not as many folks go for it as I think will.

I’d be tickled pink if just one reader reviews and really “gets” the message I’m trying to convey in TSOK. But, like many other writers I’m sure, I have dreams of selling a million copies…talking over movie deals…being interviewed on what inspired me…

*blinks* Oh, um, where was I?

*clears throat* But what’s really worth writing the story is that it’s¬†better than a hyped up role-playing game. I love how the characters that I’ve created start to do their own things and change the story in ways that I had not anticipated. I’m still in charge of the story, but like Frankenstein’s monster, my characters tend to have other ideas.

I cross my arms and lift a confused eyebrow at my character. “But Hannah, I thought you were going to cower from the gunman and let Thomas handle it.”

Hannah puts her hands on her hips and¬†glares at me. “Don’t be daft! I’m stronger than that. You should know, you made me.”

I roll my eyes, and try not to smile because I know full well she enhanced the tension. “Alright, fine. Have it your way.”

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 9,649. Not quite what I wanted, but better.