Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: Goal Met!

In January, I set my reading challenge to 42 books--and today, I met that goal! Yay!!!

Here is the last bunch of books I read to meet my goal:

31. The Best Man (Blue Heron #1) by Kristan Higgins. Romance/Contemporary/Humor. 4 stars.
32. The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2) by Kristan Higgins. Romance/Contemporary/Humor. 4 stars.
33. Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard. Non-fiction/History/World War II/Japan. 5
stars. Review.
34. Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson. Historical romance/fairy tale/Young Adult/Vienna/1920s. 3 stars.
35. Writing Your Family History by Gill Blanchard. Non-fiction/How-to/Writing/Genealogy. 3 stars.
36. Affected by Randi Lee. Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic. 5 stars.
37. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Thriller/Mystery. 3 stars.
38. Root of Unity by SL Huang. Sci-fi/Adventure/Action. 5 stars. Review.
39. Lies Told in Silence by M.K. Tod. Historical fiction/WWI/France. 4 stars.
40. The Scarlet Kimono (Kumashiro Saga #1) by Christina Courtenay. Historical romance/Adventure/17th century/Japan. 4 stars. Review.
41. The Gilded Fan (Kumashiro Saga #2) by Christina Courtenay. Historical romance/Adventure/17th century/Japan/England. 4 stars.
42. The Jade Lioness (Kumashiro Saga #3) by Christina Courtenay. Historical romance/Adventure/17th century/Japan. 4 stars.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fear of the Short

1. It's really bizarre when you cough so hard you lose your voice.

2. The good thing is, I'm a writer and I can write whatever I want to say and it comes out better than when I say it. It's very convenient for times you lose your voice. Unfortunately, it won't do me much good at work tomorrow...

Anyway, today (before I coughed out my voice), I met up with Katie, my old college roommate, who has come to New York this weekend to take some advanced Lindy Hop classes--swing dancing--and naturally, we reminisced a little about college.

And I realized that my basic fear of writing short stories doesn't necessarily stem from the fact that I prefer to write longer stories...i.e., books. I thought that because I tend toward the verbose, that that's why I don't like writing short stories--getting a beginning, middle, end, a plot, and decent characters in under, say, ten thousand words? 'Tis a challenge!

Pearl is just under thirty thousand words, for instance.

In college, as I've mentioned before, I developed Workshop-itis (definition: the dislike and fear of having your work workshopped). It's really strange now because while I have no problems with my writing group critiquing my work when I request some help or a second or third pair of eyes and I don't mind the idea of strangers reading my novella, the idea of having to submit a short story to a callow and grim class of twelve other writers in a classroom setting terrifies me.

Though, I have to say, if I were in that situation now, I would actually have quite a bit to say. I've learned a lot about writing since college.

But my Workshop-itis is tied into my squeamishness about writing short stories because that's all we did in fiction writing. I never thought I was particularly good at writing those stories for a variety of reasons.

How appropriate that the short story I'm writing has to do with turning points, then, huh? Because I feel like if I can really get this short story to come together and work, then I can write more of them--and find places to submit them to.

So, Workshop-itis and college's time to get out of my way.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Long Time, No Post

Just a fly by to let everyone know that I'm alive. Sorry about the radio silence! I've been a bit under the weather this last week or so (it's a cold, but with a gnarly cough), which means I couldn't think clearly enough to think of anything to blog about.

I've been...

  • Hopped up on cold meds, which is always an interesting experience
  • Watching Major League Baseball playoffs. As a devoted Yankees fan, I'm sad that my team didn't get past the wildcard game. But I'm watching both National League (Go Mets, I suppose) and American League games.
  • Reading. A lot. I finished Root of Unity by SL Huang (I think it may be her best one yet) when this cold was simply sniffles and a runny nose and am about 25% through a historical fiction novel about WWI France, Lies Told In Silence by MK Tod.
  • Playing this ridiculous Downton Abbey game on my iPhone. 
  • Paging through an issue of Poets & Writers magazine. 
  • Revising a short story 
  • Deciding not to do NaNoWriMo this year.

What about you? 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Author Charts & Pearl news

When you give birth to a book, you are then obliged to look at graphs and charts telling you things about your book.

But before we get to that, I wanted to mention that Pearl is now wide. She's up on iBooks and Kobo and will be on Nook as soon as B&N uploads it! 

I thought I'd give you guys a peek at a few of these author charts. Welcome, briefly, to the world of indie authoring.

So, first: what authors want. Sales!

This is Pearl's sales chart from Amazon for the past month:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Two Questions

This is October's IWSG post! The IWSG posts every first Wednesday to discuss our neurotic, needy writing problems among others like us, led by our ninja captain Alex J. Cavanagh. Sign up here! October's co-hosts are: TB Markinson,Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar!

I have two questions this time around. I'm hoping people will chime in.

1. I'm working on a short story right now. I haven't really written one since... well, the very beginnings of Book the First. What's the upper word count limit of a short story?

2. I keep wondering how to reach readers--I check my Amazon stats once or twice a week and sometimes there will be pages read or a download here or there. 15 people have added it to their Goodreads shelves, but...for future reference, how do you all reach readers? I seem to have the knack of reaching other writers. But we can't necessarily market to writers, can we?

However, in rather exciting news, I recently received my first royalty payment from Amazon, where Pearl is currently enrolled in Kindle Select. I can afford a pizza! Or put a decent amount on my MetroCard. Or get food at Chipotle and still have another twenty leftover. In other words, it's a modest amount, but means that something paid me for my writing and that's exciting no matter what.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What I've Been Reading

I'm something like eight books away from my arbitrary 42 book goal for this year. This isn't going to be my usual list but more of a dissection of what I've been reading most recently.

So, I started reading The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman on September 12th. I'm 5% in. For those who haven't heard of this book, here's the blurb via Goodreads:

A post-apocalyptic literary epic in the tradition of The Handmaid's TaleDivergent and Cloud Atlas, and a breakout book in North America for a writer of rare and unconventional talent.

From Guardian First Book Award finalist Sandra Newman comes an ambitious and extraordinary novel of a future in which bands of children and teens survive on the detritus--physical and cultural--of a collapsed America. When her brother is struck down by Posies--a contagion that has killed everyone by their late teens for generations--fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star pursues the rumour of a cure and sets out on a quest to save him, her tribe and what's left of their future. Along the way she faces broken hearts and family tragedy, mortal danger and all-out war--and much growing up for the girl who may have led herself and everyone she loves to their doom.

The plot isn't unfamiliar--it's straight-up post-apocalytic, pandemic, dystopian. Right? But Ice Cream Star is written in a truly unique style: you can check out the beginning of Chapter One here.

Go on. Read it. I'll wait.