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 · 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.

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#11 Financial Realities of Writing

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hee hee, maybe I should let hubby take the reins on this one…

Okay, okay,¬†I know it’s my¬†contest contribution, not his. But he’s the ultra-practical one in our relationship and usually has a lot to say on the subject. I can be pretty practical myself. I’m a couponer. I only have a few pairs of shoes that I’ll wear until they start to fall apart. I made a partial switch to e-books, to save shelf space.

But I’m afraid I’m not so practical with my writing.

I’ve got to let the voices in my head have their say on paper or else I might implode. So, sometimes it¬†means “spending money” to accommodate them. Though I never really thought about what I was doing as spending money, till hubby brought it up.

The chief financial culprits (for me) are taking the kids places so that I can write. The best place for this is the Y. I was already taking them there whenever I have an accidental glutening, because they get supervised play for two hours while I get to curl into a ball and wish for death. But it works as a great writing place too. They have wifi if I ever have to use the internet to look up anything, and black water coffee in the mornings.

But it’s ten miles away.¬†Since I’m not exercising or writhing in pain (or both, if I’ve done the former), hubby considers that a “writing expense.” I consider it an avoidance of spontaneous combustion, but to each is own.

The other expense that I’ve discovered while writing The Stone of Kings is extra research material. Turlough¬†O’Carolan is a character in my book and I didn’t want to misrepresent him. But try as I might, I could not find a library nearby that could even order his biography for me. So yeah, I had to plunk down $35 for that one. Hubby might not see it my way, but it was well worth the investment.

The only other expense I’ve encountered (according to hubby) is time. Now, he likes to chill out as much as the next guy, but hubby has no hobby. Well, no day-to-day hobby, that is. He really likes to travel, so to him time is more or less money. Apparently, I spend too much of it researching and writing.

Such is life.

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

NaNo word count: 8,031 yet again. Unless I have some kind of freak accident, I promise I’ll have time to write today!

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#10 Favorite Blogging Buddy Shout-Out

If you’ll be my milkshake buddy, can I be your blogging buddy? Image attributed to Clintus from Surprise, AZ, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Hmm. Okay. I didn’t realize that one could have a blogging buddy. When I think of blogging buddies, I think of Four Foxes One Hound where there are¬†five bloggers for one blog and each person writes a post for a specified topic that week.

I’m over here by my witty bitty self, just trying to come up with something really interesting to say every Monday. Guests handle Wednesdays and my kids usually handle Friday (when they’re not crawling up my legs instead).

I have a¬†lot of writer friends from Astraea Press who blog (Four Foxes One Hound in particular), and I follow several other writer’s blogs. But I’m not sure I have a buddy per se. I’m not really a loner…more of an outsider. I’ll observe you, your group, laugh at your jokes, even tell a few of my own, but I’ll never really have a…connection. The only person I’ve really ever had a connection with (outside of blood family)¬†is my hubby who, well, doesn’t blog.

So, how to write this post?

I guess maybe talk about my all-time favorite blogger? Well, hands down, that’s Kristen Lamb. You don’t even have to be remotely interested in writing to enjoy her blog. Anyone who can make me laugh out loud about her father’s ashes and her mother’s plans for taxidermy is well worth the read.

And if you do¬†want to be a successful author? Well, look no further. Kristen Lamb is the Jillian Michaels¬†of writing coaches. On the rare occasions when she goes on a blogcation or on the weekends when I need a good swift kick in the writing pants, I’ll go back through her archives and look for something inspiring. I’m never disappointed. And it helps to ease the pain of the Kristen Lamb withdrawals. ūüėȬ†I would love to say that she would be my buddy, and if she ever offered, it would be more like me hanging on her every humourous word and being too start struck to offer my own.

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

NaNo word count: 8,031. Yeah. While everyone else was a-thoning, I was simply too semi-unexpectedly busy. But starting Monday, schedule’s wiiiide open. ūüėÄ

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#9 NaNoWriMo for You in the Past has Meant…


Yup. That was my reaction last year¬†when I heard that people try to write their book within a month. I was putting the finishing touches on Harp Lessons¬†and settling into a new house last November, so that kind of intense writing, wasn’t in my scope. Besides, I was in the middle of The Stone of Kings. My characters took a vote and it was unanimous:

I wasn’t allowed to abandon them to start something new. Even if it was only for a month.

It took the better part of three years to write the first draft of Harp Lessons (and to my credit, I had my first son somewhere in there), and about another year to decide to submit it anywhere. Not to mention the fact that I write long-hand. I figured I might try NaNoWriMo in a few years or so.

But the next year…

I’ve moved up in color rank in the karate of writing and am ready for the intimidating breaking-boards-with-my-head NaNoWriMo¬†contest. I’m out of excuses.¬†My skills are better, my rambunctious one is in school most of the day, and the little one still naps (more or less). I finished my last manuscript and haven’t yet started the next.¬†And I always have the Y if I need it.

Oh, the wonderful YMCA. If you’re a writer with kids and your Y has child care, I highly recommend it. Two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon to do nothing but write. Hmm, well, I would¬†feel weird using it that much, but I may just do that in November. But I’ll have to make it very clear to the Silver Sneakers crowd, that I’ll be WORKING for the month. (I have a weakness for chatting with senior citizens. ūüôā )

I love the idea that what once seemed a bit of a pipe dream is something I’m ready to tackle!

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

NaNo word count: 8,031. Still tackling though! ūüėČ