Category Archives: writing

I’ve Been Calling Myself a Writer. Now I Believe it.

Deciding to dedicate all study and practice to my first memoir was the best decision I could have made for myself and my writing. A few months ago, I realized that all the information I was getting from free resources–articles, blog posts, writing classes, and podcasts–was simply being disseminated in different ways, no longer teaching me anything new. When I first moved to Bellingham, I considered going back to school since I felt like my life was starting anew, but I am just not well enough to commit to a rigorous academic schedule, especially not one that requires attending physical class at specific times.

However I’ve wanted my writing to ascend to that next level, needing to move beyond what I can teach myself. One day, some headline caught my attention on Twitter, leading me to JerryJenkins.com. I don’t remember what the post was about, but I liked it so much that I signed up for his email list and received a message about a free webinar. I’ve since played so many of his webinars that I can’t remember what it was about. At first I was suspicious. The chairperson kept mentioning Jerry’s Guild, and stay tuned for information on how to join, and take advantage of this extra deal only offered during the webinar, and blah zee blah blah. I was like ok whatever, I’ll take my free information and go. But…

The information was so good. Jerry spoke from experience, of which he has much. While a lot of it was stuff I’d taught myself over the years, hearing it from a human voice and not my screen reader, with real-time examples, I felt things I’d learned begin to click into place. So I paid to join the Guild. All of Jerry’s webinars are available to me now (albeit not completely controllable with my screen reader) and I’ve since been able to study from home when I’m well enough to focus my mental energy. I’ve started putting into practice the things I’m learning and my writing has indeed jumped to the next level.

I wrote the first draft of my memoir back in November for NaNoWriMo and have since been in the rewriting phase, using Jerry’s teachings on ferociously self editing as I go, having a blast making scenes really pop. Using my own story to practice has been invaluable, as there’s little struggling over plot and character, since my plot is my story and I’m the protagonist. I say little struggling because, while I know my own story, I find myself writing about an event that took place before or after something else, only to notice while rewriting that that timeline is incorrect.

On Thursday, I attended jerry’s memoir webinar and it showed me what’s been missing, solidifying all that I’ve taught myself. Like switching from margarine to butter in my baking, I’ve finally found the ingredient that makes the recipe click. Yes! So…I’ve been working on the second draft of my memoir, tightening up the writing, adding color and shading to the sketches, and it’s 2008 and I’m about to go blind.

After Jerry’s memoir webinar, I’ve realized that my structure is all wrong, and from the work I’ve done, new themes have emerged. If I had the attention of an agent or publisher with a hard deadline, I’d be freaking out right now. How’s that for a silver lining? the only deadline thus far is my goal for finishing this draft by April 24th. I’ve considered abandoning it to begin working with my new theme and structure, but I’ve decided to finish this work since it has become a silver mine of experience and personal growth. After I finish it, I’ll mine it for the silver that’s waiting to shine. This memoir is like a paint by numbers picture for the beginning artist. I’ve been calling myself a writer. Now I believe it.

Thank you, Jerry Jenkins!

*Coming soon: randioomens.com*

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A Melancholy Joy

I jotted down those words on Christmas Eve because they so perfectly described how I was feeling, and the more I’ve thought about them, I’ve realized how they also sum up 2016 for me. This year has been absolutely life altering, both on a personal level and as an American. I did some travel in the early part of the year to see Josh Groban in concert, attend Rays spring training games, and visit with Florida friends. I returned home to get ready for a hysterectomy in the same month. I keep telling myself I should have feelings about now being barren, but I just don’t, ha! Not long after I recovered, My relationship ended and I fell in love again, and moved to Washington. Whoa, right? I watched Brexit unfolding on Twitter and prayed America would learn from Britain’s decision, and my hopes sank into fear and disbelief as my country elected, deep breath, I cannot write his name.

It’s hard for me to believe the turns my life has taken this year, some wonderful turns. I want to hate 2016 for all the awful, the terrorist attacks, the shootings, the steps backward in civil liberties, but I can’t help but love 2016 for what it has done for my mental health and writing. I completed the first draft of my memoir for National Novel Writing Month and am actively working on draft two. I took a fiction writing class and feel more in touch with my creative side than I remember being in a very long time. I have a file now rich with story ideas and character traits and observations. While working on draft two of the memoir, I’ve noticed how much I’ve learned about telling a story.

I thought that writing my own story would be easier than fiction. I know all the twists and turns, so it should be easy to write, right? Ha! Not only is it just as challenging to shape each sentence, it’s been taxing mentally to spend so much time in my past, especially during the holidays. That’s where the melancholy joy set in, when I received a Christmas card from my uncle and realized that I would not be getting one of his awesome hugs this year for the holidays or my birthday, the hug that he pours all his love and feeling into. I ran my fingers over the textured, glittery card as if it were braille and an ache grew in my chest and dissolved into tears. David and his son were putting up the tree, anticipation and excitement palpable, and my own joy at being here began warring with my sadness. Which one wins? The one you feed. I let the melancholy come, let myself feel it so it could pass, and moved on. I had a wonderful Christmas with my new family. David got me a soprano ukulele for my birthday, which was yesterday. I want so badly to play with it right now, but I promised myself I could have it as a reward if I worked on rewrites and posted a blog. Discipline baby!

So, 2016 comes to a close. I know many of us are ready to see the back of it. So much death this year. I won’t rehash it since we all know, we were all here, and we’ve all had our fair share of hardships along with worldwide hurt. I hope that 2017 will be better, I cling to that hope, though the pragmatist in me says, “hold on, darlin’. It’s only just begun.” I’ll focus on my art. I’ll work on making this book be the best it can be so I can share my silver linings and hope with the world. That’s my goal for 2017, to publish, yes, but most importantly, to continue to be a bright spot, continue to let my light shine. my goal is to make people smile, whether it be David or his family, a stranger on the street, a stranger on Twitter, or a reader of my blog and (hopefully) book. Let’s all strive for that, yeah? Let’s all hold on to our asses and protect those around us and love. All you need is love, right John Lennon?

Happy New Year! We can do it!

Ooooh now I can go play with my ukulele!

Here’s the first song to make its way into my memoir. It appeared during work on the second draft today.

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I’m Home

It wasn’t a geographical in the AA sense of things, since I wasn’t running away from something, I was running to something. And I think I’ve found way more than I bargained for.

That was the thought running through my head this morning that made me run to my computer after refilling my coffee, knowing I needed to write a blog post. I got out of bed early today since I lay awake thinking of how close I was to finishing the first draft of the memoir – finally. I used NaNoWriMo this year to fully commit to the memoir. I studied memoir in October, reading “The Memoir Project” by Marion Roach. The book was recommended on Twitter by Josh Hanagarne @JoshHanagarne), author of “The World’s Strongest Librarian”, and I will be forever grateful to him for that recommendation. The book showed me how to structure the memoir and how to plan to write it. It showed me to find the message I wanted to convey, and that helped me narrow down which parts of my life were relevant.

What I have is a 50,550 (cool number, eh?) word sketch draft of this memoir, with the ending I imagined while doing my prep work.

I have a finished, first terrible draft of a book!

I’m pretty sure it’ll be longer than what I have now, because as I wrote, I would remember things that will need to go in, but I just jotted those down as notes to be added during rewrites. I’ll be learning Windows and Jaws *gulp* for the editing process, because the Mac and Voiceover is sorely lacking in the word processing department. Luckily, I’m in the right place with a Windows geek who can help me with that. Pray for him. *wink wink*

When last I posted, I listed all the challenges I’d been through with my benefits. I had planned to post again with fun stories about moving here, and I’ll still do that, but not in this post. Today I just wanted to post about finishing my first draft, because the feeling is incredible. I’ve finished multiple drafts of two short stories now, and those felt great, but finishing the first draft of this memoir, a book that’s been fighting to get out since way back when I had a Blogger blog, feels absolutely incredible.

I think it’s this move to Washington. It felt like home before I ever got here, and I’m so grateful it has felt more and more like home the longer I’ve been here. My creativity has grown in leaps and bounds here. I can stand outside in the front yard and just be, just listen and feel and smell. It’s so alive here! Everything is alive. Grass, trees, the nearby ocean that I smell when I step outside, everything is living, including me.

Without a doubt, I know this is home now. though I suppose we’ll see what I say in February, eh?

I’ve had to put some money down on warm stuff, but not much. I got thermal underwear on Amazon that I wear every day under my sweats and three tops, ha! David’s, and now my, friend took me to Value Village for a member’s only sale. This woman knows how to bargain hunt! I got two winter coats and a bunch of warm stuff to wear around the house. I’m currently wearing wool socks, thermal pants, sweats, a tight tank top, thermal shirt, fleece shirt, hoodie, NaNoWriMo beanie, and fingerless gloves. I’m pretty much warm, ha! I freaking love it!

It’s not so fun when it’s wet, but I’m getting used to it. The raincoat I bought for guide dog school hangs in the mud room, ready to grab to keep dry, and I’m waiting on a rain coat I ordered from GDB for Jayden. I certainly never expected to be buying a doggy raincoat. I never expected to move to Washington, either, so it just goes to show how unreliable expectations are. Tip: don’t have expectations, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Near the end of October, while I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and taking a fiction writing class, we met up with some of David’s family and went to the Hobuck beach at Neah Bay. David, his son, and cousins, all surfed. In the cold. I’ll be trying it in the summer if all goes as planned. Hey now, watch those expectations.

For Thanksgiving, we went to David’s parents’s house for salmon dinner. A lot of Salmon is eaten here, which is excellent, because salmon is a good anti-inflammatory food. Antiinflammation food? Hmmm. Anyway, we eat a lot of salmon and I love it.

There have been challenges. I’m still ironing out all the benefits stuff. It turns out that Medicare does follow you from state to state, but if you have a Medicare advantage plan like I had in Arizona, tying Medicaid and Medicare together with an insurance company like United Healthcare, you have to do more than just cancel your state’s Medicaid. Unbeknownst to me, my Medicare stuck to Arizona even after I cancelled Medicaid, and the only reason I found out was because when my new doctor tried to write a neurology referral, my new health group didn’t take my Arizona insurance, which I thought I had cancelled. Long story short, I had to call Medicare and get on a basic plan, and get on a prescription drug plan. As far as I understand it, everything should be straightened out on December 1, and I’ll officially be a Washingtonian, *knock on wood*.

I wasn’t planning on going into all that, but the fingers write what the fingers write. I have another call to make about my Medicaid, because I have a navigator woman with my medical group, who said I should not be on that ridiculous spend down thing. So fingers crossed she’s right.

So there’s another update for you, my one dear reader *cough* Torie *cough*. I’m thinking as I revise the memoir, maybe I’ll post things that end up on the cutting room floor. Though perhaps not until I know for sure. Better safe than sorry.

***Tip*** When taking your dog to the beach, no matter how short a leash you have him on, he’s still at risk for beach gut. Did you know that’s a thing? Yup, that’s a thing. My did Jayden get sick. Silver lining: I took him to the neighbor’s vet, which I really liked.

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December’s Audio Books Et Cetera

I’m fighting a migraine and it’s my birthday (12/30) as I write this and I’m waiting for my requested birthday dinner of 5 Guys, Burgers and Fries but my stomach is a little queasy from the migraine so no fair. December has not been kind to me. I’ve got a mystery bug that sent me in a panic to the neurologist after I almost passed out on stage while singing in the Tucson Girls Chorus 30th Anniversary concert. I thought for sure my MS was in one hell of a relapse but my MRI was clean, so the neuro tested me for an evil virus which I was sure I was dying from but that came back negative so the neuro sent me to my primary care doc and turned the mystery over to her. I see her next month. the neuro thinks I’ve got a bug that’s exacerbating normal MS symptoms like fatigue and dizziness. I get super breathless and light headed with the slightest of elevation changes. I’ll have a day of feeling better and then the next day I’m back to square one. Sitting in a normal chair is difficult since I feel like I’m going to topple out of it. I worked on my novel in the first part of the month after taking a week to recover from NaNoWriMo, then this bug hit and I’ve been useless. That’s about all I’m going to say on that right now since I’m fighting a depression that would love to grab hold while I’m weak so let’s move on to books, shall we? Oh, I checked my stat counter today to give me the motivation to care about this post and you’re still reading, so I’ll keep writing. comment sometimes, will ya? I’m fragile. tee hee. A ear end book recap/top ten list is coming at the beginning of next year.

*Seven books this month*

106. “The Twelve: A Novel” (The Passage Trilogy book 2) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick

finished December 31

Ok so I really don’t think I’ll be finished with this on December 31 but it’ll be damn close and it’s a long book, as was the first book in this trilogy, so I’m counting it since I’m over half finished as of today, the 30th. Book two has been so much better than book one, which was good but very draggy. Lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood. Not quite your typical post apocalyptic. The third book is out next year and I’ll definitely read it to see how the trilogy concludes. And, Scott Brick. Need I say more?

Ok now I’m writing this on December 31 and last night the book started having an X-Files feel. Oooooh! Government conspiracy in the apocalypse? yes please!

Ok so it’s December 31 and I’ll be finishing this book tonight. I haven’t been able to put it down all day.

@jccronin

105. “The Passage” (The Passage Trilogy book 1) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick, link Adenrele Ojo and link Abby Craden

Finished December 26

After I tied Ricardo up and made him read my favorite zombie trilogy back-to-back, he told me about this series, narrated by Scott Brick so I decided to read it since it’s Scott Brick and I kinda felt bad for abusively forcing Ricardo into that zombie series even though he did like it.

‘passage’ was good but after the first part, I was very angry and I can’t say why because spoilers but the book redeemed itself and I stopped being angry. Ricardo said he liked the second book better and I have to agree. This book was super laggy with navel gazing, a publishing term I just learned from my friend Lauren which means talking about stuff that doesn’t matter. On and on some passages (hey, passages, the Passage har har) went. Just get on with it, I thought often. It was a good book though. Very reminiscent of Stephen King’s “The Stand” but with a lot more blood. A lot.

The two female narrators read brief segments, the second of which being diary entries. As a warning to the listener, Scott Brick interrupts the second woman with things like, missing pages or illegible, and it made me jump to hear his voice suddenly haha.

good book, but there were times I wanted to skip through or just stop reading all together. Be patient, and I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you like bloody post apocalyptic thrillers.

104. “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” (Daughter of Smoke and Bone book 1) by Laini Taylor – narrated by Khristine Hvam

Finished December 17

I put off reading the Justin Cronin books because my friend Lauren wanted me to read this with her and would you believe it, she kept stopping reading it? I mean, my goodness. She’s reading it again now though which is good since I can’t wait to talk about it.

This book reminded me a lot of Diana Rowland’s kara Gillian series, but for young adults. It has an awesome fantasy element, angels and demons in an urban setting, with portals into other places. Oh and the protagonist has bright blue hair and tattoos. What’s not to love? the writing is absolutely exquisite, with passages that made my breath catch in my chest they were so hauntingly beautiful. then in the next breath, the characters would do something funny. It’s the perfect balance of beauty, humor, magic, world building and character development. I can’t wait for the next two books, which I bought with iTunes gift cards my uncle and aunt gave me for Christmas and my birthday. Weee!

Just wait until you find out what the wishbone is for…oh and the teeth…

This book is the closest to my novel that I’ve read since I began writing it back in November, well except for the achingly beautiful prose which mine doesn’t have yet in this first draft. Muahhaha!

@lainitaylor

103. “Champion” (Legend book 3) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 14

What an excellent trilogy! Bleak dystopia, heart breaking romance, awesome narration and the most epic fighter jet scene I think I’ve ever read in a book. Highly, highly recommend this trilogy if you like YA.

102. “Prodigy” (Legend book 2) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 10

Wait, the epic fighter jet scene, that was in this book, not book three. Why, why do I not write stuff about these books right as I finish them? I seem to remember at least jotting down notes. My brain this month, blame my brain.

I think all I’ve got is so good, go read, so good haha. click the links I provide to Audible and read about the books there, what do you think I am, a publisher’s summary blog? Haha! Ok I think I need dinner. Loopy much? Books? What? Oh right, books. I think the first book in this trilogy is in November’s book post.

101. “Kill Shot” (Icarus book 1) by Aria Michaels – narrated by Rhiannon Angell

finished December 9

This was a daily deal and I wish Kate Rudd had narrated. It screamed for her voice. the narrator was ok but there were two characters she did super high pitched that made my brain throb.

It was an entertaining read, though several times i found myself thinking, was this book self published? There was a glaring error of continuity at one point, where these teenagers are hunkered down in the basement of the high school after this solar flare causes all hell to break loose, and they’re in the basement for days. When the protagonist has to venture out she thinks to herself how different everything looks from when they walked to school that morning. *record scratching sound* Nooooo, back up and read what you wrote. Didn’t realize they’d be in the basement that long or something?

turns out the novel was self published. the reviews on the book are from people who were asked to review the book by the narrator. It all makes sense. I’ve got nothing against self publishing, but I’d like to see this book and the sequel get a traditional publisher and professional editors. Just a good polishing and this book would shine.

Ooooh, I did jot a one word note on this book: anyways. The characters kept saying it and that word is one of my pet peeves. Also, everyone kept saying the protagonist’s name. How are you feeling, name? How’s the weather, name? Name, what should we do now? And not her full name. Her nickname. It got so old! I still enjoyed the book though; I can’t lie.

@AriaMichaelsYA

100. “A Dangerous Fortune” by Ken Follett – narrated by Michael Page

Finished December 5

Ken Follett at his best, wow. This was such a good book. This book takes us into the inner workings of the banking world of the late 1800’s. It shows what happens when families have too much power and will do anything, anything, to keep it. Ricardo recommended this book and I could not put it down. Excellent!

***

Happy New Year and happy wedding day to Evan Longoria!

@Evan3Longoria Anyone who says they weren’t nervous on their wedding day is a liar! It’s a great kind of nervous! Excited to see my bride @jaimeedmondson. from Twitter for iPhone Dec 31, 2015, 12:07:17 PM

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, birthday, Choir, doc, evan longoria, family, gratitude, humor as coping skill, iTunes, new year, rambles, spoons, twitter me this, writing

November’s Audio Books and NaNoWriMo

Well, I did it! I got my first NaNoWriMo win! I wrote at least two thousand words a day for fifteen days straight before I practically collapsed from exhaustion and took a day off. I think the writing advice that one must write every day is absurd and dangerous. Writing is exhausting work since the mind is going non-stop while creating a novel.

I have learned so much about what kind of writer I am, from before the month of November and then even more so during it. NanOWriMo suits me well since I’m a drafter, meaning I write non stop until something is finished and then go back and edit. So, I’ve got 50,300 words of Vivian and the King and I passed the midpoint of my outline. I’m guessing the novel is about half complete, or maybe three-quarters complete. the first draft that is. Then I’ll go back and revise revise revise.

I’m in love with the story and the characters. They have taken me to places I never imagined when I began outlining and brainstorming the idea for Vivian and the King. I wasn’t sure if it would be a stand-alone novel or a series, and while I worked on it and worked out plot holes and problemes, I decided it will be a trilogy. I am so, so excited!

for those who followed my journey on Twitter and Facebook, you saw my excitement when I realized how to make it a trilogy. Presently, I’m a little too tired to convey that excitement here.

I crossed the finish line on Saturday while sprinting with someone I met on Twitter, after the virtual write-in I was expecting didn’t happen. What I mean by sprinting is, we agreed on a thirty minute sprint and set a timer. the point is to write write write and see how much you can write in thirty minutes. I did 1,300, which pushed me over the finish line. then I collapsed on the floor, sobbing. Not really, but I’m just slightly exhausted, ha!

I was keeping track of books I read this month but put no effort into working on this post. I read out of genre, meaning I stayed away from anything similar to Vivian and the King. I took today, the thirtieth, off of any sort of writing and forgot I wanted to fill in the details of this post after having gathered links yesterday. Oops! I am so cogfogged! Pardon the lack of details for most of these. You forgive me, right?

Ok, on to books.

*Eleven books this month*

99. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte – narrated by Emma Messenger

Finished November 30

I can’t remember if I read this in high school but I really don’t think I did. I think I would have remembered it. I picked it up since one of my favorite authors, Lyndsay Faye, has a book out in March that’s a retelling of Jane Eyre called Jane Stele.

wow is Jane Eyre good! I had no idea what to expect going into it. I avoid publisher’s summaries whenever possible. The above linked version is super inexpensive since it’s a public domain work. The narration is wonderful. What a good book!

98. “Legend” (Legend book 1) by Marie Lu – narrated by Mariel Stern and Steven Kaplan

Finished November 25

My author friend on Twitter turned crack dealer I mean gift giver gifted me this book and it was so good except there are two more in the trilogy and I have to wait fore Audible credits to finish the trilogy and my dealer ahem Twitter pal keeps talking about the other books and OMG make it stop! I think she gets a cut from the publisher. Kidding, kidding.

Good book though. YA dystopia. Since I mentioned above that I read out of genre of my novel, you now know my novel is not a YA dystopia. Pay attention to the clue, folks. *wink wink*

@Marie_Lu

97.“The Promise” by Robert Crais – narrated by MacLeod Andrews and Luke Daniels

Finished November 23

*Note I jotted while reading:

Close to current events.

*End note

by current events, I mean Paris. This book is the sequel to the bbook, suspect, which has a k9 officer. The follow-up definitely did not disappoint.

96. “All the Stars in the Sky” (Until the end of the World book 3) by Sarah Lyons Fleming – narrated by Julia Whelan

finished November 20

This is the third book in a trilogy so read on. OMG these books. So good! I mean so good! Zombies are not the worst thing about the zombie apocalypse. And the author is quite friendly on Twitter. I can’t wait for her next series. More zombies!

@SLyonsFleming

95. “And After” (Until the end of the World book 2) by Sarah Lyons Fleming – narrated by Julia Whelan

Finished November 18

Have someone to talk to when you read these books. I kept tweeting the author but I had to be spoiler free. Oh and have the tissues handy.

94. “Until the End of the World” (Until the End of the World book 1) by Sarah Lyons Fleming – narrated by Julia Whelan

Finished November 16

*Squeak*

93. “So Long, Lollipops”(The free ‘Until the End of the World’ Novella) by Sarah Lyons Fleming – narrated by Julia Whelan

Finished November 13

Note I jotted after finishing:

I am so getting the rest of this series! How brilliant of Audible to give this one away for free. I’m hooked!

*end Note

And I immediately went and got the rest of the series after listening to the preview of book one at the end of the novella. I picked up the free one because my fav Julia Whelan narrates. I needed more of her when Paris happened and she does the whole series.

92. “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler – narrated by Ray Porter

Finished November 12

good book. I didn’t like it as much as I did “The Long Goodbye”. Good though.

91.“Blind” by Rachel Dewoskin narrated by Annalie Gernert d

Finished November 11

I’m supposed to be reviewing this for Disability in Kid Lit but I haven’t heard back from them. If my review goes live, I’ll link to it here.

I will say I don’t recommend the book unless you’re blind and want to laugh at the inaccurasies.

90. “the Golden City” (fourth Realm book 3) by John Twelve Hawks – narrated by Scott Brick

Finished November 8

*Note jotted while reading:

Total gut punch moment holy crap. Wow. Just wow.
*And then when gdone:

Underwhelming ending.

*end note.

That quick note sums up my feelings on the trilogy. It was so good until the second half of the third book, and then nothing was resolved. Very disappointing.

89. “The Dark River” (fourth Realm book 2) by John Twelve Hawks – narrated by Scott Brick

finished November 4

Gulliver’s travels similarity.

I don’t remember why I jotted that note down. I didn’t even finish that book. For the review of the first book in this trilogy, it’s in last month’s post, the first heading level four.

So, have you narrowed it down to what genre Vivian and the King may be? Ha! Let’s play a game. I know people are still reading since I have hits in my stat counter. Leave me a comment and I’ll start talking about my novel if people are interested. 🙂

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, accomplishment, Audio books, NaNoWriMo, twitter me this, writing

October’s Audio books and NaNoWriMo

So I was having a Twitter conversation with Lauren DeStefano and she mentioned that one of her characters in her Internment Chronicles books, has a brother who is blind. She didn’t give me many details about him and I decided I needed to read those books. So what does Lauren DeStefano do? Offers to mail me her audio book copy of the book! Of course I said no. Wait what? No of course I didn’t say no, in fact I asked her to sign the cover of the audio book. I’ve often wondered what I would do if I had the chance to go to a book signing. Ask the author to sign my iPhone? She told me the book was wrapped in black tissue paper to protect it. She wanted to make sure I knew it was just black tissue paper and I wasn’t missing any designs. I wondered why an audio book would need to be protected but whatevs.

So maybe a week later, I got an envelope with not one, but two audio books inside! Grinning, I opened the envelope and took out the books. The CD booklet didn’t feel smooth as I took off the tissue paper. Hmmm.

Lauren DeStefano signed the cases with puff paint!

I won’t lie. A lump formed in my throat. She thought of everything!

In other news, I’m officially doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. The novel writing finally begins Sunday!(Sunday Sunday Sunday!) The story’s working title is ‘Vivian and the King’. Months ago my cat, Timmy, inspired an idea and I began brainstorming. I fell in love pretty quickly and so decided I would develop the story for NanOWriMo and do it for realsies this year. When I first heard about it in 2010, it was already mid November so I didn’t sign up or anything, just decided to see how much I could write before November ended. a story was developed, characters created, chapters written. That novel, with working title ‘Yellow’, has been a practice novel for me over the years ever since. I still plan to finish the first draft one day.

My goal is to finish ‘Vivian and the King’ and then revise it, polish it, begin querying agents with it. I’ve been marinating on this idea ever since Timmy inspired it. I have pages of notes, an outline, tons of bookmarks on ancient Egytp and finally named the cat in the novel. I am so ready to go! I even went and met local writers. In person. People, in person. Wow.

So I won’t be doing NaBloPoMo this year for the first time since 2009, which is kind of bitter sweet since it’s nice to have those daily posts from Novembers of years past. But, this is my dream we’re talking about here, and my dream is to be a published author, so I think I can let go of NaBloPoMo this year. Who knows when I’ll post here in December with November’s book post. I work on these posts all through the month and I’ll be just slightly busy in November. I’ll also be working on my second review for Disability in Kid Lit. I’ll be getting my review copy soon. busy bee! I’m kind of ridiculously happy lately!

Oh, forgot to mention that the character of Vivian was inspired by my friend’s daughter, who I get to hang out with for Halloween. I’m super psyched about the opportunity to talk to her about some things that will feature in the novel. Love my life right now! *knock on wood*

*Ten books this month*

88. “The Traveler” (The fourth Realm book 1) by John Twelve Hawks – narrated by Scott Brick

Finished October 31

A masterfully written novel about a group of people who call themselves harlequins who protect people called travelers who can bounce around between dimensions, pursued by people who want to tap the traveling power and link it with a super computer in order to better control the human race, narrated by Scott Brick? Yes please. I’ll even forgive Mr. Brick for pronouncing saguaro sag-war-o.

Oh man, what an amazing book. Twelve Hawks can write, I mean he can freaking write. Wow. I feel like i’m in a master class with this series. the characters are all three dimensional and believable. The action? wow. I’ve found that long action scenes in novels tend to let my mind wander. Not in ‘Traveler’. I imagined every punch, every swerve of a vehicle, every sword slash.

There’s this community of people who go live off the grid, and it’s eerily similar to the town I’ve invented for Yellow, except they definitely don’t live off the grid haha. I can’t help but smile when I see something similar to something I’ve invented, in published novels. That used to make me panic, the thought that something has already been done. but now I know to write it anyway. Only I can tell the story in my head, and everything has already been done. It’s a fact.

I definitely recommend this series. What a book. Wow. Thanks Ricardo!

Big Brother is watching and he’s armed with a quantum computer. *Shiver*

@John12Hawks

87. “Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld narrated by Sheetal Sheth and Heather Lind

Finished October 28

I read this book again in preparation for NaNoWriMo. The book came out this time last year and I read it then, but there’s no book post from that first reading. I read it back-to-back twice last year, its’ that good.

Darcy Patel participates in NaNoWriMo while she’s a senior in high school. “Afterworlds” opens describing how Darcy wrote to (queried) an agent, got signed and got a book deal. Lucky girl! She decides to move to New York city to be near publishing while she does rewrites on her book and begins work on the second novel of her two book deal. We follow Darcy on her journey as she falls in love, works on her career and eats noodles-lots and lots of noodles. I highly recommend having Ramen on hand.

Every other chapter is Darcy’s novel, “Afterworlds” We get to read what has become Darcey’s polished novel, watching as the two stories parallel one another. In Darcey’s ‘Afterworlds’, Lizzie Scofield plays dead to survive a terrorist attack and finds that she can travel to the flip side, where ghosts live. She meets a death god and a child ghost who’s been haunting Lizzie’s mother since she was herself a child. Darcey weaves a tale about Lizzie’s adjustment to life as a new psycho pomp, spirit guide, reaper. shine.

I loved this book the first two times I read it and even more now that I know about the publishing process in greater detail. If I wasn’t excited about my baby novel being born on Sunday before, you can bet i am now. I can’t wait!

@ScottWesterfeld

86. “Burning Kingdoms” (Internment Chronicles book 2) by Lauren DeStefano – narrated by Laura Knight Keating

finished October 26

For book one, skip to the next heading.

What a culture shock book two is! first, let me say that I think book two is cursed. None of the tracks on the CD were labeled so when I imported them and used Audio Book Binder on them, the tracks scrambled. Of course I didn’t notice this until I started reading, at night, all snuggled in bed. It took an entire day the next day to copy the tracks again and make sure they were all labeled properly. Cursed I tell you. Oh! See I knew there was something else that caused me to think the book is cursed. With about two hours to go one night, the book just stopped playing. I could tell the iPad was still on since I could see the light from it. It was plugged in. It wouldn’t speak. No amount of restarting it worked. Siri wouldn’t even talk. the next day, I plugged it into iTunes and it’s like yeah, this iPad has a problem. Maybe updating it will fix it, or else you’ll need to restore. Luckily the update fixed it so maybe the book isn’t totally cursed.

I don’t want to say too much about this second book since really saying anything will spoil the ending of the first one, as I discovered when I accidentally read the first sentence of the publisher’s summary at Audible. I’ll just say I didn’t like it as much as I did the first one. We get to know one of the characters better, which is nice. This book just sort of felt like a place holder between books one and three. I have high hopes for book three, though. It’s out next year. tick tock.

@LaurenDeStefano

85.“Perfect Ruin” (Internment Chronicles book 1) by Lauren Destefano – narrated by Laura Knight Keating

Finished October 22

What an interesting concept. Internment is a floating city, ripped from the Earth as a punishment. I totally imagined Dark city, the movie. The city is ruled by a king, and regulations are strict. Births are limited and planned, and babies are betrothed at birth. given glass betrothal bands, children wear them around the neck until the ring fits on the finger. At the time of the couple’s wedding, the glass is filled with the blood of their partner. Angelina and Billy bob much? The edge of Internment is surrounded by a fence and gale force winds, and if Internment’s residents get too close, they risk going insane. Jump off the edge, and one will be hurled back over and left with physical damage.

Morgan Stockhour’s brother Lex, is one of the jumpers, and was blinded as a result. He has an interesting contraption with which he dictates novels. He is completely dependent on his family, which shows what it might be like to lose one’s sight in a dystopian setting. Lex can no longer remember what shapes look like and he’s only been blind for three years. Not quite accurate, but hey, maybe the jumping attempt left his brain a bit addled too. Seriously though, I did roll my eyes a bit at some of Lex’s life, like how he constantly knocks over his wife’s vases of flowers. Is he just incapable of adjusting to life with blindness? Though, I do knock my own stuff over from time to time…

Lex is a side character. The main story is the brutal murder of a teenaged girl and her betrothed subsequent arrest for it. Morgan starts to understand that her life on Internment is much more complicated than she thought, and for the first time in her life, she begins to feel fear. She starts to understand why lex was so curious about the edge. what might life be like on the ground?

Once this book had its hooks in, it didn’t let go. I had to know what would happen next. It’s a quiet story. I don’t know how else to describe it. the city of Internment is so slow and sleepy but there’s this underlying tension that builds to a plummeting conclusion.

I recommend if you’re a fan of YA dystopia. It was definitely and entertaining read. Laura Knight Keating does a nice job, though Lauren DeStefano did tell me that the character name of Basil is pronounced like the spice. the narrator, and my screen reader, pronounce it differently, like the Greek name.

84. “Zeroes” by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti – narrated by Amber Benson

Finished October 20

Note I took just after starting:I had no idea there was a blind character in this book until a couple days ago, when Scott Westerfeld retweeted a tweet about it. I cringed inside, wondering how badly the authors were going to screw up blind. But, I just met the blind character and so far, aside from the bright dress she’s wearing for visibility, she’s spot on. I’m guessing the dress is the product of an overprotective parent. end note.

Actually, after reading some more, her bright dresses are explained. It’s part of her power. You see, all the teens in “Zeroes” have a power. they aren’t quite super heroes; they call themselves Zeroes.

Flicker is the blind girl but her power isn’t enhanced by her blindness. There’s a lot of complaints in the disability in literature crowd about disabilities being cured in fiction, or turning into a power. Now I understand why my friend Chupa hated the movie Powder so much. Flicker’s power is freaking awesome and I want it and I want to be her for Halloween. Except she uses a white cane and not a guide dog. sometimes she doesn’t even need her mobility tool, but you have to read the book to find out why. It’s so freaking cool! And Westerfeld and his writing partners nailed the blind aspect of the character. I talked with him on Twitter about it, and he said they spoke with a blind teenager. See? That’s how you write diversity. Anyway.

Other characters in the novel are Crash, who crashes electronics, Mob, who effects crowds, Scam, who has an inner voice that is all knowing and can take control of a situation with his charm, Anonymous, who literally hides in plain sight and I can’t remember the last one’s code name. The others called him Fearless Leader because he was the leader of the Zeroes. he also annoyed me for most of the book so maybe that’s why I can’t remember his code name.

Anyway, I freaking loved this book! It’s such a fun twist on superheroes. No one can fly or shoot webs from their wrist or wait, what exactly does Batman do? Fight evil with his money? I’m not usually a big superhero fan. Zeroes though? Hell yeah. And there’s two more books coming!

The narrator was incredible. She voiced each character in awesome, unique ways. She brought the story to life. the male characters weren’t even annoying, as they often are when voiced by women.

@ScottWesterfeld
@deborah_b
@margolanagan

83. “Apex” (Nexus book 3) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Stephanie Canon

Finished October 17

when is this book going to end OMG make it stop. last night I sped up the speech rate and it helped a little bit with the terrible narrating, and should make the end of the book come faster. The narrating, oh holy hell it’s bad. It’s not terrible until she mispronounces a word or has to read a Chinese character. They really should have gotten the actress who played Mrs. Swan in Mad TV to read this book. I new I should have taken note of the word Canon mispronounced so egregiously last night. Damn what was it. I think I have about six hours left. Make it stop, just make it stop. Why am I not giving up on this book? I guess I care about a few of the characters enough to keep going.

Last night I was thinking about this post in progress as I listened to the book. I follow a lot of writerly accounts on twitter and one of them posted an article about things not to do in your prose. I won’t mention one of the things mentioned in that article here, because Naam does it all the time in this book and it’s so distracting to me because it’s something I never would have thought of until a writerly type pointed it out and now I can’t stop analyzing it every time Naam does it, which is a lot. I’m guessing that might be part of why I can’t just get immersed in the story and ignore the bad narrating. If a writerly type happens to read this post, did my run-on just drive you nuts? I’m a fan of those.

Finally finished it last night. There was so much filler, unnecessary filler. We’re taken from our main characters too much, over to this side story in China with characters that came out of nowhere in this book and who are Chinese so we get treated to Canon’s awful Chinese accent. When we would finally get back to the main characters, I’d start to get in to the story again, only to be ripped out and taken to China again.

This series was interesting, set in the future where a drug links minds. It’s cool but terrifying. I recommend the series if you’re a scifi fan, but do this third book on Kindle or something. the narrating really destroys it, at least it did for me. Maybe the secondary story wouldn’t have been so annoying without the terrible narrator.

@ramez

82. “Furiously Happy: A funny Book About Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson – narrated by Jenny Lawson

Finished October 11

Oh, how I needed this book. I read her first book back in July of 2012. What! 2012! No way. wow. Where does time go? Seriously. Whoa, Clair Danes just said seriously at the same time I wrote it. b is home on staycation and watching Homeland. Happy birthday B! Anyway, what was I writing about? Oh right, “furiously Happy’.

I realized while I was listening to Jenny’s voice read her words to me, that since I’ve made the decision to get serious about my writing, part of my personality got too serious. Does that make sense? I’ve gotten so serious about learning everything I can about writing and publishing, trying to get my name out there in some way or other, which will happen tomorrow, October 16th, when my first review gets published over at Disability in Kid Lit, that I’ve lost some of my silliness and personality. It’s coming back to me now that I’m upright and walking away from that depression, rather than crawling away, and I’m so grateful for it. I have to thank Jenny lawson for giving me that last push, getting me up off the floor. Thank you, jenny.

In ‘Furiously Happy’, Jenny tells her own stories of depression and anxiety, balanced perfectly with the hilarity that ensues when a mentally ill person decides to be furiously happy. It’s her way of fighting back, of saying f-you to depression and deciding that dammit, if she wants to wear a koala suit in Australia when she meets koala bears, she’s gonna freaking do it. She made the decision to be herself and embrace her damn mental illnesses because the alternative is…well…furiously ugly.

I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone dealing with mental illness or for anyone who’s loved ones are dealing with mental illness, or for anyone who just wants to look inside and see what it’s like to live with mental illness. I related to Jenny soooooo much! My anxiety and depression isn’t as bad as hers but I know it could get that bad and if it does? I’m buying myself a damned stuffed raccoon. yep. No, wait, not a stuffed animal toy raccoon. A taxidermied freaking raccoon. Apple dictionary says taxidermied isn’t a word. Whoa, I’m like a sentence in Jenny’s book.

I want a silver ribbon pin. Jenny, is there a silver ribbon pin? I’ll never remember to pin an actual silver ribbon on but a prefabbed pin? Yeah, I could remember that.

@TheBloggess

81.“White Trash Zombie Gone Wild” (White Trash zombie, book 5) by Diana rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Finished October 8

the only bad thing about a new White Trash Zombie book is the need to wait a year for the next one. In this latest installment, our favorite zombie, Angel Crawford, finds herself on her own, her zombie crew all off fixing things elsewhere. Oh right, and there’s also that little problem of her new addiction. Rowland is pretty dang good at writing the whole addiction thing.

so much was going on in this book that I felt my head spinning and thinking, wow too much is going on here. then, with two hours left, I was like how on earth is she gonna unravel the story she’s woven? And she did. the woman can write. and Allison McLemore does a fantastic job as always. I love these books! they have such a positive undertone, they are just plain good for my mental health. If you have an aversion to swearing and brain eating, this series is not for you, though if you expected anything else after reading the titles, I don’t know what to tell ya.

@DianaRowland

80.“White Trash Zombie Apocalypse” (White Trash Zombie book 3) by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Finished October 6

I had reread White Trash Zombie book four in preparation for book five but didn’t time it right so I decided to read book three since book five wasn’t out for a few more days. That’s the thing about this series for me. It grabs me and doesn’t want to let go. I just enjoy Angel’s company so much that I never want to move on. She’s just a fun chick I could totally imagine having as a real friend, so long as she keeps well fed and doesn’t think my brain smells enticing.

Here’s my post from the first time I read this book. I’m kinda freaking out because I don’t remember that time at all. I read that in this house? in November? Yikes.

I had to laugh when I was perusing some of the reviews on this book. McLemore had a cold and you can totally hear it about halfway through the book. A reviewer said, get this, she has a weak stomach, and it was a challenge listening to the book and the narrator’s cold. I’m like, but the book has scenes with humans cracking skulls and eating brains! Ok, I suppose the reviewer meant she has a weak stomach when it comes to sounds. That must be it, right?

79. “How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back” (White Trash Zombie book 4) by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison Mclemore

Finished October 3

I reread this in preparation for book five. There’s no post from when I read it the first time unfortunately. I guess that was from back when I lost control of my book posts and ended up changing the format for all my reviews to this new current one, which has worked so much better for me. I know people are reading the blog since I have stats on that, even though they seldom comment. I’m looking at you, dear reader. I also know that I’ve helped at least one person find books since she lets me know, so Brooke, these posts are for you!

In “Groove Back’, our Angel goes to the big city, NYC, to help rescue some of her tribe who have been kidnapped. It’s hilarious, watching small town Angel, who’s never been farther than Alabama, navigate the subway system. Her goggling at the swanky hotel she gets to stay at reminded me so much of me, especially on my recent trip to Hollywood, where I was afraid to go into the hotel where I just knew I’d stick out like a sore thumb. I was just grateful to have professionally cut and colored hair. I so related to Angel’s money woes and how small she felt next to her friends who seemed to have plenty of the green stuff. Money I mean.

I checked out reviews on this book too and one comment cracked me up, something about how there should be less swearing. Ba ha! Hey, you can take the trash outta the zombie and clean up her beer can paved driveway, but Angel wouldn’t be Angel without her swearing.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, apple Inc, Audio books, birthday, fellowship, gratitude, mental health, Timmy, twitter me this, writing

September’s Audio Books, etc

Where did September go? I’m really not sure what I did all last month. Though I suppose it’s evident I did a lot of reading. I also focused on recovering from the awful depression of August. Which, by the way depression and anxiety? I feel you lurking there, just below the surface, ready to drag me back under. I know you’re still hungry. I’m not going to let you have me.

I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo in November, writing bits of the book in my head since nothing can be written with my keyboard until November 1. I cannot wait to write the opening scene, especially since last night I came up with another angle that’s going to give my female protag the problem I’ve been searching for. Can’t wait to start! Ancient Egypt research has been done, thanks Amanda for all the links you’ve stumbled upon. Oh that reminds me, I need to get with my friends daughter to discuss some terms for that one thing…

In brand new and very exciting news, another trip to Florida is now in the works for the beginning of March. The only thing set in stone is the, drum roll please, JOSH GROBAN CONCERT I’LL BE ATTENDING! Ahem, ok I’m done screaming now. The tickets were purchased and I was given the express instructions to be in Clearwater on March 1. I’ll also be going to Rays spring training in port Charlotte, and seeing my florida friends so woo hoo!

I have the most amazing people in my life, that’s all I gotta say.

Happy birthday, Gamma! I miss you. 🙁

*Ten full books this month*

78. “Crux” (Nexus book 2) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Mikael Naramore

Finished September 30

the first book in this trilogy is a few headings down in this post. I read another book between books one and two since they have different narrators and Luke Daniels narrated the first book and he’s just awesome. Naramore was ok but he’s no Luke Daniels and I have to wonder if Daniels passed on doing this book on purpose. What a let down after the first one. I think “Crux” needed another revision or two. I felt like the information was being forced on me rather than shown to me. It ended up being terribly confusing since there were several parallel story arcs that didn’t mesh together. There seemed to be endless passages where characters were thinking. Thinking thinking thinking. So and so did this to me, I’m gonna do this, I really shouldn’t do that, what if this happened. The book just needed to be tightened up and it would have been fine, instead, those screws loose killed the pacing and bored me to tears. I kept thinking about the new White Trash Zombie book out on the sixth and how I was going to reread book four to prepare.

Ricardo says book three is good and full of action, so I’ll give it a try, but I’m glad for the break with my zombies.

77. “Cold Cold Heart” by Tami Hoag – narrated by Julia Whelan

finished September 27

I’ve taken to buying any book narrated by Julia Wehlan, or as Ricardo and I call her, our Gone Girl girl.

‘Heart’ is a book I found while doing such a search and wow. What a great freaking book. Dana Nolan was kidnapped by a serial killer. The book opens with her escape and agonizing recovery. Does one ever really recover from something like that, though? She’s lost not only her ability to think clearly and speak easily, she’s lost her identity as a reporter. Instead of doing the reporting, she’s now reported on.

In order to find a new purpose in life after she returns to her mother and stepfather’s home in the small town where she was raised, she decides to brush off her old investigative skills and look into the disappearance of her best friend from high school. If only she could remember to turn off the water faucet.

What follows is a riveting mystery with a deeply flawed protagonist struggling to make sense of the world post brain injury. though our situations are nothing alike, boy did I relate to Dana Nolan and her “before Dana” and “after Dana”, the way her relationships changed when she became “after Dana”, the way she struggled to figure out who she was after the “accident”. Oh, and there was a great mystery too, and a cute cat who looks like my Anastasia.

I love Julia Whelan so much I found her on Twitter: @justjuliawhelan. She’s been added to my list of favorite narrators. Great company with Scott Brick and Ray Porter, and so far, she hasn’t done a bad book that I’ve found.

@TamiHoag is also on Twitter but she’s not very active. She has an interesting author’s note at the end of the book, in which she describes her own traumatic brain injury and gives resources for others. She also tells the story of people who inspired another character in the novel, a war vet with his own traumatic brain injury.

76. “Nexus” (Nexus book 1) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Luke Daniels

finished September 23

Ricardo recommended this one. It took me a few hours to really get into it but once it grabbed me, it wouldn’t let go. Imagine a drug that lets you communicate with your own mind as if it were a computer. You could write code in your brain to make things happen, all with thoughts. You can even install apps. Want to be able to win a fight? There’s a Bruce Lee app for that. Now imagine if you could link minds with others on the drug and communicate by just thinking. At first, I was like ok that’s cool, but then it got scary. A woman is held captive, her mind under the control of those who have her, and she’s completely paralyzed. A hacker could break into your mind and make you do things. Totally shudder making. This is the first in a trilogy and it’s narrated by Luke Daniels, who I like. Definitely a good read. I look forward to book two.

Twitter: @ramez

75. “Darken the Stars” (Kricket series book 3)

Finished September 19

This is the last book in the trilogy, which I read all of this month. Book two is below this and book one a few headings below that.

I was bummed when this book ended, dangling bits and all. This trilogy was the perfect escape and I’ll miss Kricket’s sarcasm read with Kate rudd’s voice. I checked out the reviews on Audible last night and my were readers upset with the ending. I thought it stayed true to character and was a good lesson that not everything is a happy ending. I’m going to miss that world, that’s for sure.

Notes I took while reading*

I don’t want to like Kyon but his character is so awesome for humor. Was just eating mini wheats when he made me laugh so hard I slapped my leg and almost choked on cereal.

I did a search to find the spelling for Kyon’s name and I am so grateful I can read books just to enjoy them, not feel the need to dissect every character and the tropes they fall into. My goodness. This series is fun for book’s sake. You know, fun? That thing that’s well, fun?

Had to stop my vacuuming to jot this thought down. The teen reviewers of these books love them. Since the books are classified YA, the teen reviews are all that matter to me. On the adults writing about the violence and sex in the books? Well, adults enjoy violence and sex in their entertainment and teens are, wait for it, YOUNG ADULTS.

74. “Sea of Stars” (Kricket #2)

Finished September 16

*Notes I took while reading*

She says something like, I open my eyes, trying to get my wits about me, I can’t keep them open. She can’t keep her wits open. She’s feigning delirium, telling the enemy to be sure and follow the white rabbit, and then, you killed Kenny…you bastard. The aliens are dumbfounded. I laughed out loud despite the migraine.

*End notes*

73. “Lone Wolf” by Jodi Picoult – narrated by Natalia Payne,Louis Changchien,CelesteCiulla, Nick Cordero, Angela Goethals, Mark Zeisler and Andy Paris

finished September 15

This was yet another daily deal I picked up at some point since I generally enjoy Jodi Picoult books. they are always about regular people and family being shoved into a supremely awkward situation, testing the bonds of love within a family. I don’t know why these books draw me in. Maybe because there’s always siblings, and I’ve always wanted siblings.

“Lone Wolf” was interesting because the supremely awkward situation was the father in a coma, but he’s not just any father, he’s a conservationist who went into the wilds of Canada to insert himself into a wolf pack for study. He literally gets the pack to accept him as a wolf. I thought this rather unlikely until Ricardo found an article for me about a guy in real life who did just that. I should have saved the link but I’m sure, if you’re interested, some googling would find it. I should have known this actually happened since Picoult writes books ripped from the headlines. She’s got one good eye for spotting true events that will make compelling fiction. She also added a second ripped from the headlines instance of, should life support be continued on this patient?

You know, I wonder if she wrote the book after the true wolf guy. I meant to check on those dates but now the total curiosity has passed and since this is my blog and not, like, true journalism, I don’t feel like it. So there. *stomps foot*

I always enjoy how each chapter is told from the point of view of one character, which means the audio books introduce several narrators. The books are always excellent entertainment.

I could have done without the epilogue though. Cheeseball!

72. “Before He Finds Her” by Michael Kardos – narrated by Julia Whelan

Finished September 12

Audible, Have I told you lately how much I love you for the daily deals? I’ve had to stop buying them over the last few months since summer electric bills don’t allow for extras, but daily deals have added so many books to my library that I always have something to read. I remember when I first became a digital audio book listener, it was hard to afford them through iTunes. then I became an Audible subscriber and I’d have to stretch my reading between credits. These daily deals have stocked up my book collection so that I never have to wonder where my next listen is coming from and I have read books I never would have known about otherwise. The last few books on this list were all daily deals. I got this one because Julia Whelan narrated it and she has quickly become a narrator I’m guaranteed to buy, like Scott Brick or Ray Porter.

This mystery was fantastic. I didn’t want to stop listening, and I didn’t want it to end when everything was being resolved. Man but this book was gooooood. The main character was annoying at times but what pregnant seventeen year-old raised in witness protection who lives on Nancy Drew books wouldn’t be annoying when she decides to go into the world and find her father since law enforcement can’t seem to and she’s sick of hiding?

I hope you don’t get motion sickness because the twists and turns in this book will leave you puking on the side of the highway. So freaking good. Julia Whelan, will you marry me? I love your voice.

71. “Under Different Stars” (Kricket, book 1) by Amy A.. Bartol – narrated by Kate Rudd

Finished September 10

Total soap opera teen romance fluff set in a sci-fi world, terribly written with dangling bits everywhere, but I enjoyed it despite all that. It was highly distracting and a lovely escape from reality. this is not a serious book that’s going to dazzle the reader with beautiful prose. Instead, it’s full of tropes. Girl all the guys are crazy about but she’s oblvious, total meat head, overbearing men etc etc etc. the girl is nice and tall on earth but on this other planet she’s tiny and adorable. Awww. Total eye roller I didn’t want to end. Lucky for me there are more books in the series. Honestly though, I’m surprised it won UtopYA awards (I wonder what those are) for best book of the year and sci-fi. On what planet? Maybe Ethar. Audible got me on this one. Hook me with the daily deal so I get addicted to the series. Well played, Audible, Well played.

Twitter: @Amy_A_Bartol

70.“The Magician’s Lie: A Novel by Greer Macallister – narrated by Julia Whelan and Nick Podehl

Finished September 8

Oh man this book was so freaking good I pretty much listened non-stop. I am on a roll with good books right now. This was a daily deal I picked up since Julia Whelan narrated it. She did “Gone Girl” and she’s just plain good.

‘Magician’s’ did something I contemplated doing in my own novel, writing one character’s POV in the first person, and the other MC in the third. In my novel, I wanted to use first person to put emphasis on my female protagonist but I decided it wouldn’t work. In ‘Magician’s’ however, it totally works. Whelan narrates the character of the magician, written in first person, telling her story to the police officer who apprehends her for the murder of her husband. The chapters alternate between her and the officer, written in the third person, conducting the interview. Podehl reads those chapters. He’s familiar but I’m not sure what other books I know him from. He’s also good. I thought the book was extremely well done and the story the magician tells is absolutely captivating. the title of the novel tells the reader there’s a lie, so the narrative of the magician is completely unreliable which makes for a very uncomfortable reading experience. This book freaking rocked. I wish the author was on Twitter. If she is, I can’t find her. Her? the name makes it hard to know, but I feel like a woman wrote the book. Yep, she’s a woman. I looked her up and found this interview, in which she mentions nursing her child. I can’t wait to read more from her!

69. “A Curious Tale of the In-Between” by Lauren DeStefano – narrated by Brittany Pressley

finished September 6

This book was awesome! I had been looking forward to it for so long since I follow Lauren DeStefano on Twitter and love her but had yet to read any of her books. She has really engaged with me over writing and she’s just plain hilarious so I’m so glad I liked this book. I was a little worried since the last book involving ghosts that I had been looking forward to was a serious disappointment.

Not this book! Eleven year-old Pram Bellamy can talk to ghosts. She lives with her two aunts in an old colonial house turned nursing home. She knows she’s an orphan, that her mother died in childbirth and her father is absent but she doesn’t quite understand why her aunts are so protective of her, schooling her at home. Her only friend is a ghost named Felix. When social services insists she attend school, she meets Clarence, a boy who’s mother is also dead. The two set out to uncover secrets. What follows, to me, is more a terrifying tale than a curious one. It reminded me of the old Goosebumps stories I read as a kid. It was so good I clapped when it ended. I only wish it had been longer. It was so good!

Twitter: @LaurenDeStefano

68. “Dies the Fire: A Novel of the Change” by S. M. Stirling – narrated by Todd McLaren

finished September 4

This book was so fun in the beginning. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale which I love. something happens to electricity and even compustian. What is it? No one knows. Planes fall from the sky, technology is dead, guns don’t work. So who survives? Wiccans and SCA members since those two groups of people already knew how to live off the land. It took me right back to my teens and early twenties, it did. I was a Wiccan and briefly an SCA member. In case you’re wondering, the SCA is a group that gets together and holds old renaissance festival type things.

So those people who respect the earth and can fight with swords are the ones to survive. It’s plausible to me. The book began to lose me the farther into it I got with the two main characters and their constant inner dialogue. I can’t explain why it got so annoying. then the story seemed to unravel near the end, like the author just wanted to move on to working on the next book or something. About the last quarter of the book suddenly got confusing, with no explanation of exactly how and why something was happening. It felt like the author was figuring out the story as he wrote it and didn’t quite tighten it up in revision. It’s becoming harder to just read now that I’m also a writer, that’s for sure. It’s an entertaining read if you’re able to suspend your disbelief. An attack on a strong hold with hang gliders? Really? In the dark? By people who had only a few days training with them? Alrighty then. Oh, or what about the fourteen year-old who teaches herself sign language out of a book in just a few months after she discovers there’s a deaf girl in the Wiccan camp? Uh huh. Oh well, it was the perfect book to follow Fitz and the Fool and I wasn’t yet ready to return to reality.

67. “The boys of Summer” by roger Kahn – narrated by Phil Gigante

finished September 2

This is the book I read for the book club I’ve mentioned in the last couple posts I think. The book club consists of Rays fans reading books about baseball. I could not get invested in this book. the writing didn’t grab me. The first part of the book is basically Kahn’s own biography and I was reading the book for baseball. The second part was Kahn visiting the old Dodger players he had written about in the fifties. parts of the book would be really interesting and then I’d find myself bored again. Discussing the book was interesting, reading the comments the people in the club wrote. since I couldn’t just leaf through the book for names, I was at a loss, not remembering which name went with which story.

the baseball history was interesting, especially Jackie robinson of course. The book just didn’t hold my attention. I have to wonder if the depression I was slipping into didn’t play a part.

I’ve always liked Phil gigante. He’s a great narrator, doing accents well, very easy to listen to.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, birthday, cats, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, mental health, music, twitter me this, writing

August’s Audio Books and a Case of Crippling Depression

So can we say wow Ro, you are sure late on August’s post. Ummm, Yeah. I’ll just say I’m grateful I can actually write this today. I am emerging from my worst…depression…EVER. Like, ever. Like, oh please oh please can I never go through depression that bad ever again? Please?It was awful. I’ve narrowed what I think to be the cause down to yet another physical problem with yet another new medication, though there doesn’t have to be a cause for depression. In me, there is typically a cause though. I’ll have what I call minor depressions, where life just gets too overwhelming, especially around money, but they usually pass. This one began as a minor depression, my story wasn’t published though I really felt ok about that, I plunged myself into work on the novel, then I read a book that brought back all my old alcoholic feelings, then a seriously dark and disturbing YA novel, and then the new medication was added and then yet another shooting happened and holy crap what the hell oh man no, stop it, no, go away, make it stop no no no, there’s no hope, life is horrible, humanity is doomed, make it stop. I quit reading the internet. I quit writing, all I wanted to do was read fiction. I even found it hard to care about baseball. then I finally told B all the things that were in my head even though I was scared to, afraid he’d lock me up, but he just listened and let me cry and that, along with not reading the internet, with talking to close friends, finally helped me ease out. It’s getting better by the day and today I was able to finish the first draft of a book review I had promised to others and send it off.

So now I’m working on my own stuff. It’s rainy today. I’m listening to music. The Rays are out of it for this season but they come to Arizona next year so that’s exciting. I spent the day in bed yesterday, just feeling physically “off”, worrying that I was doomed to not be productive yet again this week but today has been good so far. Minute by minute, that’s how I’m taking life at the moment. So, On to August’s books. Grateful I had the presence of mind to keep track of them. And grateful to Jayden for keeping me functioning during that horrible, dark time.

Happy birthday, Taylor!

*four books this month*

66. “Fool’s Quest” (Fitz and the Fool trilogy, book 2)
by Robin Hobb – narrated by Elliot Hill

finished August 31

I love robin Hobb’s Farseer books so dang much! This is her latest book which came out in August. Ricardo and I were both excited to read it and it was fun to complain about this new narrator with him. The way Hill voices the Fool is just plain awful. It definitely detracted from the book for me but at least this second book in the current trilogy was better than the first so that helped. I didn’t want to be done with the book when it was over. It was the absolute perfect escape for me, in fact B even told me to just disappear into it haha. I can’t wait for the third in this trilogy! Hobb’s Twitter said something about 2017 though, so that’s not happy making.

Twitter: @RobinHobb

Two books I walked away from: “The Accidental Alchemist” and “Mort(E)

I think I made it an hour into the alchemist book, bland narrating, or was it the writing with its dangling bits, who knows. Just didn’t care. Good thing it was a daily deal. I wanted something light hearted after ’ember’. Maybe it was a combination of my worsening mental state and the excellent writing it followed. I then tried the Mort book and made it a few days but gave up August 24 with four hours left. I just couldn’t do it. It was sheer freaking torture it was so bad. I blame you, Bronson Pinchot, for normally being so wonderful. Even you sounded bored to tears. I recorded a small segment for Ricardo since he’s also a Pinchot fan. I used to always suffer through bad books to see if they’d be redeemed. Not anymore. If they don’t at least entertain me, that’s it.

65. “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir – narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West

finished August 18

Holy crap, this book. So dark. So disturbing. So bloody. So good, but glad it’s not at all based in reality or I don’t think I could have handled it, it was so dark. Excellent narration and the book grabs you from the very start, never letting go until it ends, and you’re left wanting more. At least, I was. There’s a sequel and it’s written and hopefully out next year. I highly recommend if you’re a fan of young adult books and even if you aren’t. If you like dark fantasy, this is the book for you. Wow. I mean, wow. What did I say on Twitter? It’s “The Hunger Games” meets “Divergent” meets “The Bone Season”. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though. wow is it dark.

Twitter: @SabaaTahir When she responded to me on Twitter, I was like aaaah scary author, scary author!

64. “Romancing the Dark in the city of Light” by Ann Jacobus – narrated by Apple’s voiceover

finished August 13

the above link is the Goodreads page for this book since it’s not out until early October. I was given an advance review copy since I’m reviewing the book for Disability in Kid Lit. I’ll link to that review once it’s up.

And, here is the review. It was posted October 16 and was a very cool experience. I’ve been asked if there’s an audio book, and currently there isn’t. I have a question in to the author about it.

Twitter: @AnnJacobusSF

63. “Sarum: the Novel of England” by Edward Rutherfurd – narrated by Wanda McCaddon

Finished August 12

Notes I took while reading:

It’s like trying to see an accident scene as you’re driving by on the highway. It’s like oh there’s Bloody Mary oh now she’s gone. The book tries to be character driven but the expanse of time is so vast that by trying to develop characters and stories takes away from historical detail. The balance is off. There’s not enough time to care about characters and not enough detail about history.

End notes.

There were moments of pure fascination and then moments of sheer boredom. After reading Rutherfurd’s New York book, I was expecting exquisite pacing. I think that would be next to impossible with the England book however. It begins with the dawn of man and ends in the, oh crap, I can’t remember when it ended. I was just so relieved it ended. Oops!

I love Wanda McCaddon though. She’s very easy to listen to.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, birthday, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, mental health, spoons, twitter me this, writing

July’s Audio Books, Jimmy Kimmel and Writing

What an absolutely crazy month July was, let me just get that out of the way ha! Crazy in a very good way. I was successful in submitting my first polished fiction. You can read about that in my last post. I’m waiting to hear back on that. There’s a submissions page where I can go to check on it and it’s just listed as “in progress”. If I remember correctly, the call for submissions said selected authors should know by the end of July. I can’t double-check that since the page has been taken down. so I’m not sure what it means that it’s still listed as “in progress”. At least it’s not listed as “rejected”. ha!

Jayden and I went to LA to a live taping of Jimmy Kimmel life, which was awesome. the guests were Owen Wilson (awesome!), The Bachelorette and her fiance (whatevs) and Juanez, who my friend and I checked out on Apple Music on the road between Indio and LA. Very cool Latin music. He passed us just outside the green room and said my dog is beautiful. Yeah he is. His segment of the show was performed outside. I’m not going into too much detail about this trip on my blog because—

—the afternoon before the Kimmel show I got an email in response to something I submitted months ago that involves non-fiction writing. Paid non-fiction writing. paid! I’m currently working with the person who selected me as one of the new freelance writers and I might be writing about the LA trip so I’m keeping details under wraps for now. The writing thing is really starting to feel real now. It’s kinda nice to write something totally stress free on my own blog ha!

What else about life? I’ll be ramping up research for the Egyptian book I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo. I want to get it all mapped out but I need more information first. I’ve developed a few of the characters which was totally fun. I love developing characters. What else? Oh yes, I mentioned reading a book for a book club and I said I’d include it in with my book post, however I’m going to wait and write about that when I’m done with it. We’re halfway through the book. In fact I need to ask if we should start reading the next half. Ok, on to books!

*7.5 books this month*

62. “Between You and Me: Confessions of Comma Queen” by Mary Norris – narrated by Mary Norris

Finished July 31

One of the authors I follow on Twitter retweeted an article that referenced this book but I can’t remember who tweeted it or where the article was. blame my addled brain this month, which was more addled than normal. This book bloody rocked. That’s all I got. I don’t know if it would interest a person not into words and writing like me, but I just loved this book. Notes I jotted today when nearly finished with it:

Pencils, #1, oh the memories. The way of doing things before computers. the store with all the office supplies and how she loved it. Mom and I in the stationary isle forever, the smell, the possibility. Office Max? Heaven. Her talking about pencils and erasors is freaking awesome. Mom’s mechanical eraser, I had forgotten all about that. Our electric pencil sharpener, I can still picture it.

end notes.

the author narrated which is usually pretty bad. She didn’t do a terrible job though and hearing her dry humor from her own lips was pretty awesome. Jokes sped by like a guy driving his mid-life-crisis car on the highway, so if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the kitchy custom license plate.

Mary Norris sounded like my old choir director’s voice after a lot of singing and shouting during rehearsals. It was comforting haha. I just freaking loved this book.

Twitter: @marynorristny

61. “In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume – narrated by Kathleen McInerney

Finished July 28

A book by Judy Blume for adults? yes please. Judy Bloom is part of my childhood so I was super excited to hear that she wrote a book for adults. I had no idea this book was historical fiction, that the three plane crashes which the story is centered around really happened. I try not to read publisher’s summaries of books unless I’m checking out a daily deal or something. I just read the summary for ‘Unlikely Event’ and I have to wonder if knowing about the historical aspect would have changed the way I felt about the book.

There were parts that were downright creepy and I thought, wow, Bloom has one creepy imagination. She added a paranormal element to the story that may or may not have been part of what really happened in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950’s. It was a sometimes entertaining read with semi-interesting characters going through a truly terrible time in their lives.

It was crazy to read about what it was like for girls and women in the fifties. I mean we all know what it was like back then but Bloom’s writing made it seem so real. I’d recommend if you like stories about people and want to see Judy Bloom write about sex and use swear words, ha! Though really, this book is more along the lines of young adult than adult in my opinion. It was also rather soap opera-y at times.

I’m not a fan of this narrator. I read another book with dual narrators awhile back and she was one of them. I think she’d be great for children’s books. ‘Unlikely Event’ has many jewish characters and the narrator doesn’t even sound slightly Jewish when she says Jewish words. She’s also way too sugary sweet. This was a young adult book with a few adult situations and she sounds like a child trying to sound grown up.

@JudyBlume

60. “Paranoia: A Novel” by Joseph Finder – narrated by Scott Brick

finished July 21

This book took me a little longer than my usual reads since I was working on getting “That Meddling Dog” finished by deadline and also reading a book for a book club. I’ve decided to withdraw my campaign for president since it would cut into my writing, reading and baseball time.

“Paranoia” was not very believable unless I just don’t want to believe in corporate espionage. I mean I know it happens but I doubt it does to this extreme. None of the characters were likable and for the first few hours of the book I started wondering what I’d read next.

But then…

All of the sudden I was like yeah, that could happen, yeah, I’m rooting for this guy now, I dislike the people I’m supposed to dislike and mistrust the ones I’m supposed to mistrust. Right? When it was over I wasn’t ready to be done with the main characters. Now I think I’ll try and find the movie. they made a movie out of it right? This book was a daily deal and I think I remember Audible making it a daily deal because the movie was coming out or something. Really all I remember is that it was a Scott Brick narrated daily deal which means I get it no matter what it is.

Fun, entertaining, fast-paced read. *checks out Finder’s other books* Ooooh found another one narrated by Scott Brick. This is what I’m doing to help me get through a Rays game.

@joefinder

59. “Lexicon” by Max Barry – narrated by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman

finished July 14

Um, what? No really, what? What was this book about? I um, what? Can you please just click the above link and read the publisher’s summary? Because I don’t know what I read. I didn’t know what I was reading when I read it. What? It was good. the narration was good, especially Zach.

the book? Huh? Words. Yes. Words. Do I recommend? Huh? Action. Definitely action. Who what when where why? Huh? Whatevs.

Seriously though, there was something missing. I’m not sure what, but something was missing. There were also times of being completely lost that I did not enjoy, and edits I wanted to make. Beyond those things, it was an entertaining read.

@maxbarry

58. “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler – narrated by Ray Porter

Finished July 11

And I thought Michael Connelly was good. Wow. Raymond Chandler comes up in writerly circles as one to study so when this book came up as a daily deal, and narrated by Ray Porter, I snatched it up without a second thought.

I think I found the style of book to which Ray Porter isn’t quite well suited. Shocker, I know. I think someone like Scott Brick would have been a better Phillip Marlowe. Not to say Ray Porter was bad, that’s impossible. He’s just too current. He doesn’t have that noir sound. There is some Spanish though, which he’s really good at. So maybe that’s what got him the job.

Notes I jotted:

Comment to the writer, how’s the book coming?

*The writer in the book found this comment very annoying and I must say I agree with that sentiment, though when people don’t ask how the writing is coming, I feel like they don’t care, so there’s just no pleasing the writer.

“Maybe it’s the TV commercials. They make you hate everything they try to sell.

*This is me with radio commercials during game broadcasts. I am actively boycotting Subway as a result of their terrible commercials.

I loved this book. I’ll be reading more Chandler for sure.”

57. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green – narrated by Jeff Woodman

Finished July 8

I’m glad I watched a video (which is now unfortunately not available, sorry) of John Green talking about “Looking for Alaska” becoming a movie before I read the book, which Audible put up as a daily deal right around the time of the youtube video which I don’t think is a coincidence. Green says in the video that the book is very personal to him and when he sold the rights for the movie a decade ago, he had his misgivings but the money put his wife through college so yay and now he’s excited about the possibility of the movie because it has the same screenwriter as the movies for both “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns”. I read both those books and watched the TFIOS movie which I thought was wonderful and which made me cry just as much as the book.

I’ll probably watch the Paper towns movie since it’s John Green though I didn’t have a strong response to the book which I read last year on my Florida trip.

There were many similarities between “Paper Towns” and “Looking for Alaska” I think. I enjoyed ‘Alaska’ more, so I sure hope they make a movie of it for sure. And I just used the word sure twice. Oops.

Oh here, have some famous last words.

Twitter: @JohnGreen

56. “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh – narrated by Ariana Delawari

Finished July 7

I follow an author on Twitter named Lauren DeStefano. (@LaurenDeStefano) I haven’t yet read her books, but follow her because I think she’s hilarious. One of my favorite authors, Samantha Shannon, (@Say_Shannon) retweeted her at some point and that’s how I began following her. Lauren DeStefano did not write ‘Wrath’, she just forced all her followers to read it. No really, she did. She tweeted about it non-stop and when I looked it up and found it on Audible, the publisher’s summary intrigued me so I put it on my wish list. I bought it as a reward when I finished writing my piece of short fiction. I swear, it did not inspire the Egyptian novel I’m planning to write for NaNoWriMo this November haha. The setting is similar, but that’s about it. I couldn’t help smiling though, when parts of ‘Wrath’ made me think about the novel I’m developing.

If you enjoy young adult fiction, I highly recommend this book. It has everything from ancient royalty to teen marriage, to sword fights to curses and oh yes, a love triangle full of “YA hotness”.

The narrator is good, though I thought she had a rather harsh, serious tone to her voice, even during light hearted moments. She wasn’t whiny though, which can really ruin YA teen angst.

I hope there’s a sequel! I’ll read some Lauren DeStefano now as a thank you for the recommendation.

Twitter: @rahdieh

55. “The Winds of War” (winds of War book 1) by Herman Wouk – narrated by Kevin Pariseau

finished July 5

This book was split evenly between June and July. I’ve noticed I’m starting to prefer books in the fifteen hour range. These forty-five hour books can get tedious and book two in this series is even longer. Oy vey.

There were many times I almost took a break and moved on to something else. I’m not a fan of how this novel was written. Some chapters began with long excerpts from a fictional book written by a German who one of the narrators of ‘winds’, Pug, translates. The point of these excerpts is to sort of summarize what happened historically that is about to happen to the fictional characters. These chapters were tedious though, and for me, interrupted the flow of the narrative. ‘winds’ follows one family through World War II and just when something gets interesting with one branch of the family, we’re suddenly stuck with the fictional German book. It’s distracting.

There are also sudden changes in the style of the writing. Wouk gets all poetic and artful out of the blue, following the rise of the sun as it touches “our heroes”, or however he puts it. It’s such a sudden change in style, I found it jarring. I’m writing this on July 2, before I’ve finished the book and at this point, I’m just counting down for it to end. Parts of it are really fun but it’s just too long and my mind wanders often. I crave a good fast paced mystery.

Ok, finished this book last night. I had already written the above since I was going to include this book in last month’s post but changed my mind. There’s a second book but I need a break and it’s even longer than this one was. I’m not sure I can handle another one. So often it just felt like nothing was happening, and I wanted to urge it on like a song being played at too slow a tempo. I can’t say I recommend this book. There are so many excellent historical fiction novels around the second world war.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, accomplishment, apple Inc, Audio books, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, Miss K, mom, music, twitter me this, writing

My First Submitted Fiction – What A Ride

I need to just free write a post while my body calms down. I just submitted my final draft of ‘That Meddling Dog’ for the YA anthology. Now I wait. Will it be chosen? Will I get my first real rejection? What happens next?

I began work on the story on May 30 and received the final draft from my volunteer copy editor yesterday. the writing and revising was awesome, ending up five hundred words over the limit and getting it down to the six thousand, sending new revisions off to my friends and getting their feedback and talking about things that happened and how the story affected each reader differently and change this word for that and get rid of that story line all together because there’s no room for it and I wasn’t ready to introduce that character anyway but oh I still need to reference him ok let me just change his name.

All the creative stuff was awesome, naturally, then it was coming down to the wire, the story pretty much done, the surface so shiny from all the polishing that I could see my reflection and all that was left was formatting. the visual part.

I’ve known I have a trigger happy thumb. I’m sure it’s evident in this post since I’m not being careful at all, just getting thoughts down. I enter way too many spaces. There’s no way with Voiceover and my word processing program, Pages, to easily tighten up spacing issues. So I went character by character of a six thousand word document, deleting spaces.

Wanna hear a sample of that process?

After I got done deleting extra spaces, I went through and added all my paragraph indents. I do all my first drafts in a basic app called Text Edit, kinda like Notepad for Windows, since it’s the easiest for me to use with voiceover. When I’m writing my first drafts of a fiction story, I never remember to tab for paragraphs and dialogue and I’m not sure that would copy over to Pages anyway.

So I went through and added my tabs and then I counted the new lines of a blank document. fifty lines. I wanted to do that thing with new chapters so the chapter would begin halfway down the page, right? So I’d find the new chapter and press enter twenty-five times. In my head, there’s the white space for the chapters.

I exported the Pages document, was it twenty-seven pages or seventeen I can’t remember. Anyway, converted it to Word for my volunteer copy editor and sent it off Wednesday. Deadline Sunday. today is Saturday. Are you with me?

I’m feeling so good about it. Really good. I feel like the story is solid, the protagonist being a secondary character in the main novel I’ve had in my heart and have worked on for years, and the protag from that novel in the story too. I feel great about it. I’ve had fun hanging out with my kids and creating new ones.

Then Thursday morning, before I’ve had coffee, before I’ve played Trivia Crack, I check email on my phone.

Don’t check email on your phone when you haven’t had coffee or played Trivia Crack and you’re already a bundle of nerves from this whole process oh and when Brian is in Sedona for a conference and your sleep is all messed up from staying up all night on Tuesday in a Google hangout with your besties.

email from copy editor lets me know he found extra spaces and other formatting stuff. Extra spaces. After I spent two days going character by character to get rid of them. Words that aren’t capitalized, crazy stuff. Stuff I know I fixed right?

turns out, when you export from Pages to Word and vice versa, formatting errors occur. So I can’t just go through, read his comments, fix what I agree with, stet the rest. this isn’t going to work. I can’t fix those visual errors. I can’t figure out how to make his comments correspond to the area of the manuscript which they refer. I start to panic. I’ve worked so hard. I love this story.

I’m reminded that I’m blind.

later I talk to Ricardo on the phone. He looks at the document with voiceover on his Mac. We try and figure out the comments thing. It’s all so overwhelming. It’s Thursday and the deadline is Sunday. Should I send the manuscript to Amanda who is also blind but uses Jaws with Word? She can fix the formatting issues, keep it in the blind family. but then I still can’t convert back to Pages.

Oh crap I totally left out the cathartic screaming crying fit from earlier in the day. I threw myself on the bed and screamed into my pillow so hard it hurt. I sobbed and sobbed. the cats piled on the bed with me. All I want to be is a writer and there’s all these barriers.

When I’m talking to Ricardo I’m trying so hard not to let the tears come but they do because I can’t do this. I can’t be a writer. There are too many challenges. I need Jaws and Word. All those things I’ve heard for years about Mac and voiceover not working well for professionals, all those things are true. Who am I kidding? I’m a blind disabled nobody and that’s who I’ll stay.

No.

Fuck that.

Deep breath.

Talking to Ricardo. He’s saying all the things I know in my heart, all the things my doubts want to kill. Sure it’s hard. Sure there are barriers. But there are also resources. Amanda told me to use my tools. What are my tools.

Email from the Professor. He can fix the visual stuff. He can just do it, we can talk in the morning, Friday, then he sends me the Word file, I don’t touch it, I submit that.

I tell Ricardo. Should I do that?

Hell yeah!

Weight lifts from my shoulders. People. People are my tools. People are more than happy to help a person who’s doing as much of the hard work as she can on her own.

I think back to the meetings. God will do for me what I can’t do for myself. For me right now, god is those people.

I’m going to be a published writer. I know this. This experience has been so valuable. Even if TMD doesn’t get picked for the anthology, the things I’ve learned from making it the best story it could be are invaluable.

And if it does get published? It could be a launching point.

I struggled with whether to include in my bio that I’m blind. I don’t want to be picked because I’m blind I want to be picked based on the merit of the work. But then I thought back to my last job, the one voc rehab helped me get and they told me not to disclose my MS. Look where that got me? I didn’t get any of the help I needed to be successful while working with a debilitating disability and I went blind.

so I chose to disclose. If I’m going to use the resources available as a blind writer, I can’t pretend I’m not. Hey look at that, tense change. I’m really bad at staying in tense. Hehe! Wait, in tense. Hahaha. Oh but I am so intense at times. In tense. intense. I love freaking words.

I thought back to an essay I read years ago that pissed me off so bad I almost wrote about it here but chose not to. the essay was written by a visually impaired woman who had kept her impairment secret for the same reasons I almost did. She had to admit it though, because she was loosing more and more of her vision.

I was so angry at her at the time but now I get it. It sucks to have to look your weakness full in the face. it sucks to admit oh crap, I can’t do this all on my own. It sucks. It’s painful. I understand now why she wanted to hide it and how much pain she must have been in the day she decided to post that essay.

I have put myself out there now. Until today, five people read TMD. Two blind friends, a young adult friend, and two sighted friends. Friends. All people who care about me. Now the story is in the hands of strangers.

It’s like bearing your soul, which Strunk prepared me for when I read his book.

I slept and slept and slept last night. I woke up at eleven this morning, an hour into the Rays game. So not like me! I was, and still am, exhausted.

After the Rays won (yay!) I opened the submission manager. Deep breath. Heart began racing.

“My heart is racing,” I say.

“Why, because you guys won?” Brian asks.

“No, I’m about to submit the story.”

“Oh!”

He knows what a journey this has been. He’s heard me mumbling during revisions, that doesn’t sound right, how can I reword that, he knows how important this is to me.

Of course I ran into a quick technical issue while looking for the file, the only one on my desktop, to submit. Silly mac.

I clicked submit. There goes the bio I wrote, there goes my baby, bye!

“Your submission has been sent.”

Oy vey, right? Holy crap. I mean holy crap! I tweeted, then grabbed Timmy and went to cuddle him in bed. His purring soothes me. I lay in bed, collecting my thoughts, the feeling slowly returning to my feet.

Now we wait. I posted on Facebook that I’m equal parts sure it will be accepted and that I’ll get my first real rejection.

Whatever happens, I’ll keep writing. Ren and georgie insist on it and their story isn’t done. They’ve got at least an entire novel to appear in, if not two or three. And my friend Dulce made her appearance in TMD when I had to work in a flashback to explain something. We find out she had her first kiss. And Dulce the character needs to meet Jedi the dog, who will love her as much as Jayden loves the real Dulce.

This story isn’t over. It’s just beginning!

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