Reading Round Up – January 2019


In a strange turn of events, I didn’t read any Fiction in the month of January! I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this, other than I’m a bit disappointed to have no book reviews to share with you this month. I’ve tried to write my usual, in-depth reviews for the Nonfiction I’ve read these last 30 days, and I just couldn’t make any of them work. So, instead of an individual post for each book, I’ve decided to do something a little different. Welcome to the blog’s inaugural Reading Round Up!

Title: Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures
Author: Nick Pyensonspying on whales
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator: Nick Pyenson
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: It’s about whales, so I knew I would like this book going into it. My personal bias aside, I found the author’s narration to be well done, if a little fast. I normally speed up my digital audio, but I didn’t need to with Pyenson’s narration. The book was a really great mixture of narrative storytelling and educational fact, not always told in a linear, chronological order. Facts were delivered as they related to the narrative at the beginning and ending of each chapter. I think that really helped me digest the more technical passages. That being said, it is still a lot of science speak and I found myself zoning out on more than one occasion. Not sure if that’s my fault or the book’s.
Recommended: Yes!

Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Author: Neil deGrasse Tysonastro for people
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator: Neil deGrasse Tyson
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This was a tough one. I liked the narration a lot, but the subject matter was still way over my head. I’d have moments of clarity where deGrasse Tyson said something that I thought I understood, only for the information to flee my brain a moment later. Also, his voice is entirely too soothing; I kept falling asleep! I’m sure in comparison to the true, complicated nature of the subject matter, this book is very approachable and accessible, but to me it was still taxing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think you need to know your learning style if you hope to retain what deGrasse Tyson is trying to teach you. I’d go with a paper copy, personally.
Recommended: Sure.

Title: Zen in the Art of Writing zen in the art of writing
Author: Ray Bradbury
Format: Paperback
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: Don’t hate me. I was… unimpressed? I love Bradbury’s fiction, especially his short fiction, but this collection of essays lacked that inarguable punch that is so typical of his writing. I think it actually comes down to the fact that this book did not age well. There are several passages that are kind of sexist (a standout one refers to an actress as a “porker”) and though he cites multiple women authors and their works, he never once refers to the reader as anything other than “he”. It’s ultimately a small thing, and really a non-issue considering the age of the book, but it still irked me. That said, there were several lines and paragraphs that stood out for good reasons. I took pictures so I could refer to them as needed. But, this book is much more a memoir on the craft than it is an actionable account of how to live your own writing life. Maybe this was an instance of an author not living up to my imagined expectations, but this book just didn’t do much for me.
Recommended: Eh.

Title: The Business of Being a Writer business of being a writer
Author: Jane Friedman
Format: Paperback
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I loved this book! Friedman answered more of my publishing questions than I even knew I had. From querying an agent, to signing the contract, to developing your online presence and “brand” Friedman tells all. And if you’re more interested in the Self-Publishing side of the writing business, don’t fret, because it’s all in there. Even how to do your taxes! What I really appreciated, besides the sheer quantity of information, was the approachable language and conversational tone of the book. It felt less like reading a textbook and much more like sitting down for several in depth conversations with a VERY knowledgeable friend. Navigating the publishing industry is scary enough without author resources adding to the fear factor. This book gets that, but doesn’t do you the disservice of holding your hand either. Friedman tells it like it is, giving you the information to make career decisions with confidence.
Recommended: Heck yes! I will be buying a copy for my office.

Well? What do you think? Hopefully this is a quick, painless way for you to decide if a book is worth trying for yourself and I still had all the fun of writing a review, even if they were condensed versions.

Don’t worry, I promise I’ll still post full reviews for any and all fiction I read over the course of the year, but now I’ll add these Round Ups for Nonfiction and Graphic Novels.

See you in February, Bloggos!



Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #1


I hope you all had an awesome first week of the year! I know it felt incredibly long to me and especially exhausting. I spent yesterday doing some shopping and meeting friends at the local board game cafe to play some really interesting new table top games. I wanted my weekend to be focused on turning my brain off and recharging for the week ahead.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Although that’s easy to do during the first week of the year. There’s a lot to talk about.
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whales
    • Yes!
  • Write 1k on Tavi
    • Yes! I wasn’t sure this would happen, but I ended up writing about 1300 words and finishing chapter 8!
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita
    • Yes… and no. So, it turns out, I had already done some brainstorming and outlining back in October. I have no memory of this, but that’s cool since I no longer agree with the route I had planned. I’ve made some new plans, but nothing concrete. But, I did do a tiny bit of writing on this so I’m counting it a win!

Weekly Word Count: 1,477

The first week of the year is always a busy one on the blog. Goals Summaries, Monthly Recaps, and the blog overhaul and Yearly Review. Lots of writing about writing, collating the stats and accomplishments of the year and analyzing my failures and successes so I can make the most of the year to come. Honestly? It’s one of my favorite times of year, when I can really dig deep into my process and figure out how to tweak for even more efficiency and output. It’s like giving my mind a tune-up!

When it came to listening to Spying on Whales, I didn’t know if I’d really be able to finish it. The book is great, and Pyenson’s passion really shines through the narrative and his narration, but I am not great at reading/listening to nonfiction. Even something as interesting to me as the past, present, and future of whales (I freaking LOVE whales) still had me zoning out for large chunks of text. I frequently had to rewind a segment and figure out where my brain had turned to white noise.

But, I still finished it last night, and really enjoyed it. I don’t think the problem was the book, but more my short attention span. If you like nonfiction, or want a broad overview of the history and lives of whales, I highly recommend it!

I jumped back into writing my urban fantasy novel this week after ignoring its existence during the whole month of December. As expected it, it was sort of slow going. It’d been long enough away from the text that I didn’t really remember where I’d left and felt pretty distant from my narrator’s voice. So, I spent a lot of my “writing” time reading the manuscript over from the beginning. writing gif

Now, that’s always dangerous with a rough draft because it makes me want to edit. I see the repetitious sentences and the clunky passages and I cringe. But, that’s not the point of this readthrough. I needed to get back in Tavi’s head, so I could tag along with her on the crazy journey of this utterly pantster novel. And it worked! In fact, it not only worked, but got me excited about this project again. With rough drafts I’m always terrified that I’m going to hate them when I read them again for the first time. I fear that I’ll read the first few pages and wonder what the hell I was thinking, writing this garbage? But Tavi really surprised me! I think it’s really good. In a few places I even managed to forget I wrote it, I was so enthralled with the dialogue and the narrator’s voice.

So, that’s good.

Santa Sarita is percolating. The characters are taking up space in brain again and I’m almost ready to sit down and really hash out some words on this fic. I think it’s going to be much different than I originally planned, and that’s probably for the best. There’s a reason my first attempt at this story flopped, after all. In the meantime I’m going to write some small tumblr prompts and get used to writing these two once again.

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related

This looks really thin to me, but jumping up from 1,000 words to 3,000 is going to take some serious effort. And even then, I’ll still be about four thousand words behind my monthly writing goal. Which is okay. The point is just to write consistently again after so much time off. The words will come.

knight's shadowI have a backlog of tumblr prompts to work on, the majority of them for Santa Sarita, so that should be an easy one to knock out this week. I also have a nebulous idea for a blog post, but we’ll see if I go with that or something else I’ve been sitting on for a while. Don’t expect a book review this week. Sadly I have zero interest in writing reviews for nonfiction, and my time with Knight’s Shadow has been really limited lately. Honestly, all of my time is limited lately, so if I’m going to make my writing goals expect my reading to slow down.

Thank goodness for audiobooks! I just downloaded Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and though it’s pretty far over my head, I figure I’ll still know more about astrophysics by the end than I do now.

In other news, I received my rejection letter from Oregon Literary Arts. I was not a recipient of a fellowship this year, but better luck next time! I also received a rejection on my horror short story Lifelike last night, and it’s already off and onto the next magazine. Getting two rejections in one week feels bad and it feels kinda good. It means I’m working hard and eventually one of these emails will be an acceptance!

Talk to you soon, Blogland!