Welcoming 2016 With Stories and Changing Tastes

books

Every year I keep a log of books, short stories, and articles of note that I’ve read. In 2015, I logged an awful lot of books. Some were new releases, but more often than not, not. By this log, though, I figured that I read more how-to books, gardening books, and history books than anything else. I don’t know why it happened this way, but maybe because I’ve been sort of fighting a dark depression and anxiety with hobbies–gardening, sewing, and just about anything I can do which would keep my hands busy. I’m the kind of person who needs to be doing something, even if it’s something small, such as mending a buttonhole or planting a seed. And, once I’m focused, that’s it. I’m addicted to something new and you’ll soon find me in bookshops and online seeking out books regarding my new hobby, whatever it may be. I can’t just be a novice at anything. I will constantly strive to master it.

But, in 2010, for example, I logged mostly romance and horror novels. In 2011 and 2012, same. In 2013, by some strange tap of the reading fairy’s wand, I changed directions and returned to my science fiction and fantasy roots. You see, the firsts books I really loved–and I mean REALLY loved–were sci-fi novels, comics, fantasy tomes, and short stories in magazines involving elves, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, aliens, and vampires. I started reading time travel novels again. I started picking up newer novels by authors I’d forgotten I loved so much in high school. And, I began to change the way I think about things again. I think that’s just something that happens ever so often in life. Your life changes direction, so your reading lists change direction, too.

By 2014, I’d changed completely. I haven’t completely let go of reading romance, but I want to read everything about everything. Sometimes there just isn’t enough space on a year’s worth of bookshelf for all of the books a person would wish to read. I think that might be what happens to me. I am too ambitious. But, there are just so many books!

But, back to 2015.

Last year, my children grew. My fortunes changed (sort of) with the coming of a move which will take me from living in a small 3 bedroom house with a small yard to a small 4 bedroom house with a yard that reaches beyond what the eye can see (my husband’s family’s farm). In anticipation of this move, my family and I have discussed a lot of changes. We’re letting go of cable because it won’t be available. We’re going to have an internet connection to watch Netflix and Hulu and do internety things. But, we’ve also decided that we’re going to raise some chickens and continue growing beautiful herbs and Cherokee purple tomatoes (which are to die for, by the way, and can be found at Burpee’s online). On the farm, my father-in-law and brother-in-laws (and their wives and families) raise chickens, horses, cows, pigs, and sometimes goats. And, I think my niece has some rabbits somewhere. So, with all of this in mind, I’ve been reading about soil, about how to raise animals (because I’m absolutely terrified of horses and have no clue how to manage livestock, much less live with them), and about how to live a simpler life.

Now, hold on, people. Before you start thinking ahead, NO. No, we are not homesteaders. Absolutely, just no. I have mad amounts of respect for homesteaders, but that’s not what we’re doing  at all. We’re just simplifying things and moving forward with raising our family in an area where I won’t have to worry about being so close to other people. Well, except for my husband’s family. Two of his brothers, their wives, their collective six children, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law all live on the same stretch of property, but it’s big enough that none of us have to look at each other if we don’t want to. Or unless I need to be saved from the horses (ha ha).

The beautiful part of how life changes your reading habits, though, is that when I move to my little farm shack in the middle of nowhere, I’ll have new places to read. Also, I have a niece and a sister-in-law who both love to read, too, so maybe we can exchange good books ever so often. Who knows–we might even start our own book club right on the edge of the mountain. I’m sure the new experiences I have there will absolutely reflect in the 2016 reading log. I have plans to pick up a Farmer’s Almanac and a Gardener’s Almanac next time I’m in the Dollar General store in town. And, beyond that, there’s a discount store in Beckley (about 35 minutes from me) where I can pick up as many books about flowers and plants as I want because they’re really cheap. I’d love a book about flowers so I can learn about which ones are the easiest to grow and which ones need what because I do have plans for a white rose bush and roses are not things I know a lot about, although I’ve always loved white roses (among other white flowers, I also love the white moonflowers/Datura).

bookThere are a few crime fiction novels I plan to read this year, though, and they’re already sitting on my nightstand. AND, I do have some drama, history, and romance novels sitting in my shelf, waiting on me to give them some attention. First, though, I have a book filled with the love letters between Lucrezia Borgia and Pietro Bembo. The book is called “The Prettiest Love Letters In the World” because they truly are. I’ve already taken a peek at them.

scandalsAnd, of course, it’s January 3rd, which means I’ve already read a book this year. It’s was called “Treasury of Royal Scandals” and it was published some years back, but still such a great read. Books aren’t like food–they don’t ruin after a while. They stay great. I’ve learned that there is also a book out there called “A Treasury of Great American Scandals,” which I’d like to add to my collection, too. The author, Michael Farquhar, has many books out I’d like to snatch. Seriously, where has this guy been all my life as a reader? “Treasury of Royal Scandals” was brilliant. It was a great way to start the year, in my opinion.

I’m curious to know how everyone else feels on the subject of changing tastes in books. Is it just me? Do the rest of you change tastes every now and then? I can’t imagine I’m the only person on the face of the planet who sometimes switches from medieval kings and queens to cyborgs and werewolves.

 

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Twenty Things To Do Between Writing Projects

 

booksYay! You finished writing your novel/short story/article/comic/other stuff! I used to love this period of time because of the sense of accomplishment I gave myself after typing “The End” as I grinned like a…well, whatever grins. As most writers can tell you, it’s a wonderful, wonderful day when a project you’ve been working on forever finally comes to a full stop and you’ve told the entire story, start to finish. You’ve conquered the beast!

Now what?

Well, just walk away. That’s the best advice anyone has ever given me and I’m all too happy to pass it along. Walk away from the manuscript and leave it alone. Do other things. Live your life and gain some new experiences before you do anything else. Most writers (though, I can’t speak for everyone) have a family and/or friends who love them and would appreciate knowing they’re still alive somewhere. Now’s the time to reconnect with those people. Or not. Just do stuff.

I’ve made a good list of things you can do between writing projects. I hope it helps someone.

  1. Relax and do nothing for a few days. Writing can drain a person and you need to recharge your batteries.
  2. Do something nice with your significant other. Go to the movies, have a nice dinner or just watch a documentary together on Netflix and eat grilled cheese sandwiches on the couch. Either way, pencil them in and spend some time with them. They’ll appreciate it and you will too. You need this.
  3. Get online, update your blog layout and give it a facelift. Write a fun post or two. Write emails to your friends, return emails from your friends. Clean up your email accounts—delete old emails, rearrange emails you’re keeping. Go through your social media accounts and get them all up to date, too. Get EVERYTHING online up to date. It won’t take as long as you think.
  4. Go shopping and buy pens, notebooks, printer supplies, editing supplies, post-it notes. Go home. Put these items in a box or drawer and just leave them there. Smile that you saved seventy-five cents on your notebook paper.
  5. Buy or borrow five novels or novellas. Make coffee. Start reading the first one. Keep going and read the entire thing in one sitting. Nap. Repeat.
  6. Write reviews for books you’ve read. Post them wherever you usually post reviews.
  7. Go to a museum. If you’re lucky enough to have a museum around town, take an afternoon and go.
  8. Bake a cake, muffins, or cookies. Arrange them on a pretty plate. Take them to your elderly neighbor.
  9. Find a good Youtube channel and learn something new. Sewing, baking, carpentry, anything. Learn how to make brownies in your microwave if you want to start small. Or, you could learn how to build shelves with real hammers and real nails and real wood from a real hardware store—the sky is the limit.
  10. Buy a packet of seeds and start growing something indoors all by yourself or buy a plant at the local nursery and bring it home to care for it. Digging in dirt can be refreshing to creative people. Do yard work even.
  11. Go to your book stash. Whether you store your book all in shelves or in a series of odd places around your house (or just in boxes somewhere), go find your stash. Put an empty box or bag at your feet and dig through your books. Really, really dig through them. Anything in there you know you won’t read again? Yeah, we all have a few of those. You can donate them to local libraries for other people to enjoy. Or, box them up and send them off to a friend who would like to have them.
  12. Contribute or attend a local theater presentation. Is the local theater troupe performing Romeo and Juliet? Buy some tickets to support the locals and have yourself a great time.
  13. Start a collection of something (besides books…we’ve already established that you collect those). Paperclips, glass bottles, antique dishes…whatever you like.
  14. Get a haircut. No, seriously. A lot of writers I’m friends with have told me they sometimes neglect haircuts/salon appointments. Take care of this while you’re between writing projects, even if it’s just a quick trip to Supercuts.
  15. Play music and listen to something you wouldn’t ordinarily listen to. REALLY listen. Listen for the lyrics, decide how the songs make you feel.
  16. Volunteer at a nursing home. Often, our elderly are lonesome and many of them have no one to talk to through the day. Just talking to them is sometimes the greatest gift anyone can give. If you’re lucky, you’re going to be old one day. Remember that.
  17. Read more books you haven’t read yet.
  18. Call your mother. She misses you and while you’re in book mode, she doesn’t hear from you enough. I know this because I’m a mother and I’m also a daughter—I know how it goes.
  19. Reorganize your workspace. Prepare like your life depends on it.
  20. Go snack shopping. Buy coffee, vodka, and cookies. Or, ya know, whatever you like. Now, you may begin writing your next project. I’m sure you have a million ideas by now.

Mama said there’d be days like these…

And here we go to Editland! Nope. Just kidding. I’m on Facebook looking at kitty cats.

I’m sure there are days when every writer has told themselves that enough was enough and they’re done–no more writing!  After all, this lifestyle definitely isn’t for everyone and there are a lot of annoyances and horrible, horrible cruelties that come with the job.

Today has been one of those days for me. I woke up in a good mood–totally ready to take on the stack of Willow Lake edits that need entered into my computer.  I took my kids to the bus stop, came home, and started doing a few chores that needed doing.  When I got done with all that, I sat down at  my laptop, opened up Willow Lake, glanced over to my right, where I keep the stack of the printed copy of the manuscript, and began. And then  I went cross-eyed because I hadn’t had coffee yet and, even with my glasses on, I can’t see unless I’ve had some caffeine. So, I made coffee and sat back down and began to go over it again.

And the phone rang four hundred times, so I quit and decided that I should just take a break until the distractions slowed down.  Three hours later, I was bouncing off the walls and couldn’t hold still long enough to enter those darned edits! Instead, I found myself doing laundry and running back and forth between my son’s bedroom and mine until I finally settled down on Facebook.  Big mistake.

Facebook, in my experience, is a great place to meet other people who share the same interests.  I’ve met so many other writers there and many of them I consider to be friends of mine now. the downside of social networking is that, unfortunately, there is always drama.

Naughty, naughty Facebook!

Today, I witnessed a few writers discussing submissions–the process, how it rattles one’s nerves, and how depressing a rejection can be.  This is great. I like to see writers discussing things we’re all interested in because you never know when someone else is going to point something out you haven’t yet thought of or when someone else will have a tip or a lead to a new submission call somewhere. Oh, and also query letters and writing a synopsis is the devil and other writers can listen while I pour out my absolute distaste for those two things–it really does help.  THIS conversation, however, really, really made me soooooooooo (lots more o’s) angry I was seething! An author was complaining because a publisher had the audacity to reject their book and only because it was a genre other than those the submission guidelines listed.

*Eye Roll*

Seriously?  Can anyone really be so daft as to think that a publisher is going to read your book, though it’s not what they asked for, and fall in love with it and the characters and publish it anyhow? Um, yeah. May

When I see Demitrius, I think of Olivier Martinez (Blood and Chocolate). It helps.

be in fantasyland.  In reality, it goes unnoticed in the slush pile so the publisher can then move on to manuscripts submitted by those who listened and used their context clues (and BOLD PRINT lol) to pinpoint exactly what the publisher wanted.  You can’t submit a piece of YA to an open submission call for erotic horror. No, no, no! That is just an example (not exactly what happened today), but still–I’m going to rip out my hair by the end of the day.

This was just the beginning.  After seeing this weird post, I scrolled down and tried to forget it. It wasn’t something happening to me on a personal level, so I kept my opinions and comments to

myself and opted to behave myself. I decided to edit. I picked up a sheet of paper with Willow Lake edits scribbled everywhere and got at it again.  And got distracted again because I’m in the middle of another WIP and I began to think about all the wonderful new characters and, frankly, I really wanna play with them today. But, I want to have Willow Lake edits in the computer before the 14th, so I have to just suck it up and keep going.

Sorry, Demitrius, Gia, and Arty–I’ll come back to play with you on October 15th, just as soon as Willow Lake is submitted.

*CRIES* I really, really am happy to be getting back to vampires, though. I’ve missed them insanely. Willow Lake is my ghostie story and the characters are so close to my heart, I don’t think I’ll ever fully move past them, but it truly is time to move forward to something else.

This brings me to my next WIP, “En Morte.”  The story will follow a young woman named Artemis Gregory as she wraps her car around a tree and is involved in a horrible car crash (black ice).  She’s then rescued by a pair of vampires and turned.  The story will take you through the process of becoming a vampire and through the course of the book, you’ll be solving a mystery of sorts.  Well, several.  See, Arty (Artemis) isn’t just a new vampire. She also has amnesia and had no clue who she even was at first and wouldn’t have ever found out, but Demitrius had also rescued her purse and driver’s license with photo ID.  Thank goodness for her, huh. At least she knows her own name. Regardless, there will be some twists and turns in this paranormal mystery.

 

Also, as promised, I somehow managed to put together a quick playlist for “En Morte.”  Here is the list (if you wish to see):

1) Filter-Cancer

2) Nine Inch Nails- Reptile

3) Nine Inch Nails- Heresy

4) Ozzy Osbourne- Dreamer

5) Nine Inch Nails- Eraser

6) David Bowie- The Man Who Sold the World

7) Neil Young- Old Man

8) Puddle of Mudd- Blurry

9) Saliva- Always

10) Nine Inch Nails- Dead Souls

11) The Cure- Love Song

12) Garbage- Only Happy When It Rains

13) Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears

 

I know. There is Nine Inch Nails stuff everywhere.  That’s just how I roll 😀

I’m so glad to be back to vampires!  Also, this concludes my post. I just had to vent it all out. Thanks for listening!