A while back, I had an idea that in an upcoming scene I wanted to write that a character of mine would be singing a song. Or, maybe not a song exactly. Originally, whatever this brilliant composition would end up being was supposed to be something like a childhood rhyme that girls might recite on the playground while jumping rope, or something that would be accompanied by an intricate hand jive. “Miss Mary Mack”- esque, if you will, but darker and potentially creepier. You know, something that would fit in the world of my novels.
|A sample draft. I need a better eraser.|
Once upon a time, once a month, I would review all the books I had read the previous month. Nothing super long or in depth—well, usually nothing long or in depth (unless a novel really, really irritated me, that is…), but reviews nonetheless.
Then I fell out of the habit. I’m not sure why. Time constraints maybe? Laziness? Who knows. Anyway, my last book review post was back in March 2014.
But whatever the reason I stopped, I thought I might try bringing it back. Since it’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, I will not be reviewing every book I’ve read since March 2014. Instead, I’ll give you the highlights (and maybe a low light or two) from my 2015 reading collection (January through June).
Generally, I’d post any reviews at the beginning of the month, but Camp NaNoWriMo has me all flustered and turned around (proud to report that I am currently on pace to finish my novel…in August.) so I forgot to do this post earlier. I’ll do better next month.
Anyway, here we go…
Heir of Fire—Sarah J. Maas—The third book in her Throne of Glass series. I’ve really enjoyed this series overall, and I really do adore the MC. My biggest criticism of this particular novel was that it took me longer than usual to finish it. It’s a big novel, and there were parts that dragged. But again, I adore the MC, and I can’t wait for the next installment. I want to know what will happen next.
Mr. Kiss and Tell—Rob Thomas—This is the second book in the Veronica Mars novels, which take place after the events of the movie. The books are all right, this one included, but as grateful as I am to know anything about the Veronica Mars universe, I think something is lost in book form. Or maybe I just really want more movies. Again, I will read the next one because I’m a fan of the character. And Logan. I admit it.
One Good Catch—Heather M. Gardner—The second book in her Maguire’s Corner series. I enjoy these books. Gardner (you occasionally read this blog, Heather, so if it’s weird for me to be using your last name like this, I’m sorry.) does not waste time getting to the action, and the story’s entertaining. The end surprised me as well. The story didn’t go how I thought it would. I mean, there’s a happy ending, which I expected, but it didn’t play out how I thought it would. It’s always nice to be surprised. Anyway, it’s really a fantastic summer beach read (I should know…I read it on the beach.) and I’m looking forward to the next installment. Also…I desperately want to go to this town for the pancakes, because they sound amazing.
Robert B, Parker’s Kickback—Ace Atkins—This is the 43rd Spenser novel, and the third or fourth (fourth, I think) written by Atkins. I have pleasantly surprised by the quality of these novels. It’s hard, I think, to take over a series loved by so many, and be able to emulate the style set forth in the previous 39 novels. He had big shoes to fill, and I think he’s nailed it. My one criticism (you knew there had to be one, right?) is that I occasionally feel as though Atkins is working too hard to cram in as many characters from the Spenser-verse into each novel. Robert B. Parker did have recurring characters, and I do love that about the books, but I think Atkins is using too many at once.
The Darkest Minds—Alexandra Bracken—The first in her The Darkest Minds series. I came across this book while hunting for novels in which mind control is possible. True story. Anyway, the reviews seemed good, so I went into this series feeling excited. That faded. The concept is intriguing, the execution I think fell flat. There were parts I liked, and characters who made me laugh out loud, which is always good. I wasn’t a fan of just how often Watership Down was referenced and/or quoted. We get it; stop hitting us over the head with it. So while I wasn’t a diehard insta-fan or whatever, I still went out and read the other two books in the series because I wanted to know how it would end.
Never Fade—Alexandra Bracken—(You guessed it…the second in The Darkest Minds series. There was an interaction between two characters that really intrigued the hell out of me. I don’t want to be all spoiler-y, but (SPOILER ALERT) at the end of the first book, a character with the ability to manipulate memory (Ruby) uses her abilities to tamper with the mind of the boy with whom she fell in love in the the first book (Liam). She has to make him forget that he knows her. But it’s true love, or whatnot, so naturally they’re going to encounter one another in the second book. That meeting and what follows it is intriguing. While Ruby could erase the memory of her in Liam’s life, the feelings Liam had/have for her are still there, but he doesn’t understand why he has them. It was an interesting concept.
In The Afterlight—Alexandra Bracken—The third and final book in the series. This is the book where the limitations of the first person POV are most evident. With the first person POV, the reader is limited to what the narrator sees/knows, and that limitation hurt this book, in my opinion. Major events would happen, but as Ruby wasn’t there to witness them, both she and the reader find out about it secondhand. I don’t know—it made the story a little duller, I guess. I also felt like the story relied entirely too much on coincidence, and that the ending was rushed. Given the world built up in the first two novels, it was a little dues ex machina-esque for my personal taste.
All right—that’s going to do it for me today. I’m headed off to Camp to see if I just can’t get caught up on my word count. What have you been reading? Tell me in the comments…
But not, like, for soccer or football or whatever. I am referring to a blog post—this blog post, as it happens—in which I set goals for an upcoming month.
Fascinated already, aren’t you?
That’s what I thought.
Anyway, I haven’t done a monthly goal post for a while now. I just checked—the last post concerning a goal that wasn’t “Pack up my belongings and move to the other end of the East Coast” was back in October 2014. There were two goals set that month:
1) Finish Part Two of my then-current (and, hell, still-current) WIP, Second Nature.
2) Walk, run, or bike at least 88 miles.
But I never blogged about whether I had accomplished these goals. I know for a fact that I didn’t make the first one, as I didn’t finish Part Two until March of this year. I went back and checked the mileage log (Yes, I have a mileage log. Yes, I know it’s weird.) and saw that I only logged 50 miles last October, with a note written in the margin that October 2014 was the month I was dealing with my horrendous back injury. So, given that, I think 50 miles was pretty damn good.
Anyway, as part of my goal to get back into the swing of things following the Big Move, I am bringing back my monthly goal setting, and I am posting them for all to see on this blog to help hold me accountable.
And now, without any further ado, here are my goals for the month of July:
1) Win Camp NaNoWriMo and, by doing so, complete this never-ending draft of Second Nature.
I am so excited for Camp to start this Wednesday. And scared. But excited. And scared. But, you know, excited. Really. It’s going to be great. Or, potentially, a huge disaster. But it’s going to be great. Have I mentioned that I’m excited? (And scared…) I really want to finish this book this July.
2) Attempt to make some progress on my Goodreads Reading Challenge.
Back in January, I set a goal to read 60 books this year. In general, it’s not too difficult for me to achieve this…She says as she admits that last year, she only finished 56 books. And so far this year, I have managed only 19 books. According to Goodreads, I am ten books behind schedule. Could be worse, I suppose, but I’d like to make up some ground on that this month. This could be a crazy goal to set, given that I’m also attempting to write 50,000 words in July, but it’s not like I have a day job. (And it’s not like I’m still bitter about that, either.)
3) Log some serious mileage.
I’m also way behind on my 2015 mileage goal. In January, I set out to log 800 miles (via walking, running, biking, etc.). I have 730 miles to go. So way, way behind. Last July, I managed 125 miles, so I’ll shoot to match that number this July. Again, it’s possible I’m setting myself up for failure come August, but go big or go home, right?
Just think of it this way: If I keep crazy busy, I won’t have time to dwell on how much I don’t enjoy living on the surface of the sun. (Yes, I know the surface of the sun is much, much hotter than Florida, and that if I truly did live on the surface of the sun, I would have been incinerated or whatever long before now, but C’MON! Just give me this one, okay?)
And on that note, I’m outta here. Gotta rest up while I can. July’s going to be rather busy. (I hope.)
One of the first things I did upon moving into my new house was to get some semblance of a storyboard back on my walls. (The kitchen could wait.)
Yes, I still have my Trello board, but my office just doesn’t feel like an office to me without a storyboard. Oh yeah, that’s right—my new office has wall space enough for me to have a storyboard there and not on my dining rooms walls.
And there was much rejoicing (by The Man, anyway).
But as I still haven’t uncovered all of my original storyboard supplies, and the big-ass bulletin board remains un-hung, it’s not a full and complete storyboard. Yet, anyway, but it’s something, and I needed something because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THIS WIP.
Shortly before the Big Move, I wrapped up a draft of Part Two of Second Nature. I dabbled a little with Part Three before realizing that I no longer knew where the story was going to go. The Big Move happened, and the WIP got shoved onto the back burner (a fact over which I was incredibly mature and understanding and did not at any point throw a major temper tantrum) until recently.
My writing pattern thus far as been as follows:
|Yay! I have an idea, and it’s awesome!|
|What was I thinking? That idea was terrible! I’ll come up with a new one.|
|Any minute now…|
|Hey, I think there’s some vital housework that needs to be done.|
I know how Part Three starts, and I have an idea as to how Part Three ends (or should end). What I’ve done (or am doing) is scribble a one-sentence synopsis of a scene I think would work onto a post-it and slap it on the wall. I add or subtract or rearrange as my thought process dictates. There’s no real rhyme or reason to anything yet. Mainly, it’s just a compilation of character confrontations I think should happen based on the events of Part Two. In doing all of this, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to work out how to connect A to C.
I’d really like to get this draft finished. I’d originally hoped to have this book out this coming July, but now I’m hoping that the first draft might be finished. I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. I just find it discouraging that I’m still working on it.
But I’ll keep working on it. I don’t tend to give up easily—unless, of course, we’re talking about exercising or eating health—and I’m certainly not going to give up on this project. I’m obsessed with it, and I’m dying to know what’ll happen next.
So that’s the status of my writing. Until next time, all!
In my hometown, there used to be an establishment called “The Barn” that was charitably considered an antique store. It’s a Walgreens parking lot now, but during my high school career, it was a junk store that was housed in a red barn.
You could find just about anything there, whether you were looking for it or not. They had furniture, dishes, glass bottles in every shape, size and color; small appliances, large appliances, farm tools, and things that simply defied categorization. It was my favorite place (besides the used bookstore) to go and poke around just to see what I could find.
But of all the things I thought I might one day come across, I never once imagined I would stumble upon something that would help shape my not-as-yet-written fantasy series.
The day that happened, my brother and I were just aimlessly wandering around (not that you ever really did anything else at The Barn). We had gone from room to room without finding anything that particularly sparked our interest—at least not enough to buy—so we headed out.
However, before we made it through the door, we passed a case like the sort in which a department store would put higher end jewelry, and something there caught my eye.
A tiny pewter pegasus.
And I mean tiny. It could fit comfortably on a silver dollar. It could almost fit on a quarter. To this day, I have no idea how I even saw it in a case that was crammed full of other miniatures and jewelry and knick-knacks, but I did.
I stopped. I stared. I tracked down an employee (no easy feat). I bought. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I paid five dollars for it. Whatever the amount, I do remember thinking that it was too high for such a little thing, but I handed over the money anyway because I had to have it.
I went home, put my pewter pegasus on my desk (where he’s been every since), and wrote a story about the leader of a rebellion in some far-off fantasy place whose companion was a tiny, talking pegasus prone to sarcasm and manipulation as he strives to save the world.
One never knows when and where inspiration will be found: people-watching in the park, hiking in the mountains, driving a lonely stretch of highway, in the shower, washing a sinkful of dirty dishes, in television, movies, books—or in a plexiglass jewelry case in the most dubious-looking junk store ever.
That junk store find eventually became Faolan, a pivotal character in Effigy, and one of my favorite characters for which to write (all the sarcastic characters are…I wonder why), and I honestly couldn’t imagine the story, or the series, without him.
And all for the bargain price of five dollars.
Effigy (epic fantasy)
by M.J. Fifield
Release date: July 22, 2014
The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine Coileáin, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty.
A sadistic man with a talent for torture and a taste for murder, he is determined to burn the land and all souls within. Haleine is determined to save her kingdom and, after a chance encounter, joins forces with the leader of the people’s rebellion. She gives him her support, soon followed by her heart.
Loving him is inadvertent but becomes as natural and necessary as breathing. She lies and steals on his behalf, doing anything she can to further their cause. She compromises beliefs held all her life, for what life will exist if evil prevails?
Her journey leads to a deceiving world of magic, monsters, and gods she never believed existed outside of myth. The deeper she goes, the more her soul is stripped away, but she continues on, desperate to see her quest complete. If she can bring her husband to ruin and save her people, any sacrifice is worth the price—even if it means her life.
Add it on Goodreads