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So PiscesMuse and I have started an Etsy shop that caters to nerd crafters. Right now it’s all stitch markers and knitting project bags in various nerdly themes. If that sounds like something you might like then you can find the store at The Eclectic Muses or you can peruse our wares in collage form over on pinterest account. There is also a link at the top of the page now so it can always be found. If you’re not so keen on knitting and nerdery then you can probably ignore that little tabideedoo.

Coming up I’m going to be posting some new book reviews, some photos from around my town, some photos of things I’ve knit and a few other things I’ve got in the works. If anyone has requests let me know and I’ll do my best to accommodate. Oh and of course NaNoWriMo is coming up. Most excellent.

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Rules Recap

  • to read one book beginning with each letter of the alphabet (A-Z), ignoring articles like and, an and the at the beginning of the title, during the year 2011
  • To avoid re-reading books during the challenge
  • To choose books  I already own, as possible
  • To choose novels over non-fiction
  • optional: The letter X may appear anywhere in the title, not just at the beginning

Recently Read

  1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Still To Be Read for Challenge

  1. Catalyst by Anne McAffrey
  2. Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet*
  3. The Incomparable Atuk by Mordecai Richler
  4. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach*
  5. Kaimira: The Sky Village by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Leguin
  7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  9. Vitals by Greg Bear
  10. XVI by Julia Karr

Finished Books in Challenge

  1. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
  2. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. For The Win by Cory Doctorov
  5. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Heist Society by Ally Carter
  7. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
  8. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  9. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  10. Remedy by Heidi C. Vlach
  11. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
  12. This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky
  13. Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks
  14. The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
  15. Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

*re-reads or non-fiction, to be changed to previously unread novels as possible

I’ve bolded the option for the letter N because I’ve changed books. Neuromancer by William Gibson is an amazing read but one I’ve experienced before. I highly recommend it for dystopian fans as cyberpunk definitely has a dystopian feel and this is the original cyberpunk book. I think it even coined the term cyberspace. Wow right?

Still looking for alternative options to E and J. Fortunately I’ve been offered some time with Pisces Muse’s bookshelf to find alternatives. She is officially my book pimp. She’s also loaned me Incarceron by Catherine Fisher so rather than choose one to review I might end up doing two I books.

I might also replace the non-fiction W in my Finished books to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami.

Coming up…

On Friday I will post a short review blurb for Uglies. I’m currently reading The Night Circus so if I finish I’ll include a blurb about that as well. Maybe. It’s a beautiful lush book and I don’t want to rush it. I might also need a little time to process before I gush about it. I might even give it a full on review if it finishes as well as it starts.

Do you sometimes take your time reading books that are really good or do you rush your way through to get to that sweet sweet ending? How do you decide what to read?

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Rules Recap

  • to read one book beginning with each letter of the alphabet (A-Z), ignoring articles like and, an and the at the beginning of the title, during the year 2011
  • To avoid re-reading books during the challenge
  • To choose books  I already own, as possible
  • To choose novels over non-fiction
  • optional: The letter X may appear anywhere in the title, not just at the beginning

Recently Read

  1. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  2. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

Still To Be Read for Challenge

  1. Catalyst by Anne McAffrey
  2. Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet*
  3. The Incomparable Atuk by Mordecai Richler
  4. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach*
  5. Kaimira: The Sky Village by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Leguin
  7. Neuromancer by William Gibson*
  8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  9. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  10. Vitals by Greg Bear
  11. XVI by Julia Karr

Finished Books in Challenge

  1. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
  2. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. For The Win by Cory Doctorov
  5. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
  6. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  7. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  8. Remedy by Heidi C. Vlach
  9. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
  10. This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky
  11. Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks
  12. The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
  13. Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

*re-reads or non-fiction, to be changed to previously unread novels as possible

I’ve bolded the option for the letter L because I’ve changed books. Ursula K. Leguin is a legend in science fiction and The Left Hand of Darkness is an iconic novel which I can’t believe I’ve not yet read.

While I will read Letters to a Young Poet eventually it’s the kind of book I want to go through slowly, underlining passages in pencil and fully absorbing the content. That’s why I prefer the challenge to feature novels, you can rush through a novel without guilt. In fact good novels will go quickly on their own merit because you can’t put them down. This challenge is meant to inspire me to read books I’ve neglected not cause me to rush through books like ticking off chores on a to-do list.

Coming up…

After I do an update on the A – Z challenge I’m going to attempt to do a short to mid-length response to each book I read. So next Friday I will post blurbs for The Great Gatsby and Heist Society plus one for a book I will read in the meantime. I’d tell you which one but I’m currently enjoying that delicious interval after finishing a book when I have a pile of books to choose from and they all look good.

Do you challenge yourself to read books outside of your normal reading choices? How do you decide what to read?

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Back on June 15th my writers group set goals of what we’d like to accomplish by the end of the year. Now that we’re halfway there I  thought it would be a good time to remind myself what those goals were and check in on my progress.

June 15th Goals for Year End

1. Finish Nano 2010 first draft

Done!  I finished the first draft on June 30th and it felt great! This kind of concrete progress is really good for the old self-esteem.

2. Finish first edit of Nano 2010 first draft in time for Nano 2011

Perhaps I ought to have checked those goals back in early July. Instead of taking a short time away from the big project and returning to edit as planned I’ve started on a whole new project. I don’t have any regrets on this decision; I’ve learned too much from my chosen course of action. What this calls for is a revised set of goals for year-end.

Instead of finishing a first edit of a draft I will work to finish the first draft of the July Novel in time for Nano 2011. That’s about six weeks to write what I estimate will be about 60 to 70K.

This leaves a question hanging. When Nanowrimo begins this year I will possess two first drafts waiting for revision. Will I want to put them both aside to pump out yet another one? I have three novel length story ideas waiting to be written but at some point I need to take the next step.

I have enough to do now that a decision can wait. Come October 31st I trust I’ll know which path is right.

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I was on Goodreads procrastinating looking at books when I came across the A – Z Romance Reading Challenge 2011. The challenge is to read one book starting with each letter of the alphabet (excluding The, An and A) within the year 2011. I’ve decided to take the challenge but open to any genre, not just romance.

A little calculation and I realized that I’ve already completed half of the challenge. That leaves just 13 books in 3.5 months, 2.5 months considering that Nanowrimo often stops all reading.

A few notes:

In the official challenge it stipulates that for letter X you can choose any title with an X somewhere in it but since I already have an option starting with X I get to bask in the smug knowledge I’m not taking an easy out.

I’ve tried to avoid rereads and non-fiction but I also want to avoid purchasing new books for the challenge. This has left me with E, J, L and N as either non-fiction or rereads so any book purchases should start with one of these letters. Alternatively I have some awesome reading peeps that are willing to lend books so hopefully I can stick with novels.

My list of 26 books starting with A through Z.

  1. Allison Hewitt Is Trapped: A Zombie Novel by Madeleine Roux
  2. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
  3. Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
  4. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  5. Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet
  6. For The Win by Cory Doctorow
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  9. The Incomparable Atuk by Mordecai Richler
  10. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  11. Kaimira: The Sky Village by Monk Ashland & Nigel Ashland
  12. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  13. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
  14. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  15. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  16. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  17. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  18. Remedy by Heidi C. Vlach
  19. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
  20. This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky
  21. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  22. Vitals by Greg Bear
  23. Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks
  24. XVI by Julia Karr
  25. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
  26. Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

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It’s currently 29 degrees celsius (about 84.2 F) in my apartment and worse in the computer room. Those puppies do crank out the heat! I’ve told myself I won’t turn on the air conditioning until it hits 30 to conserve hydro.  Since the heat has both myself and the cat doing nothing except lounging uncomfortably I thought I might use my indolence to bust out a blog post. I have several more planned for the near future once I can stand to be in the office again. (AC is confined to the bedroom unfortunately)

It’s been pretty solid since my last post. I finished my Nano Novel first draft (WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!) at the end of June and took a week off… mostly. I then started what I’m calling the July Novel. The plan is to write a full novel while I let the Nano Novel simmer in the back brain. Ideally I will finish a first draft by the end of July. Realistically… I won’t beat myself up if it takes me through August, especially now that I’m bogged down in character sketches.

The July Novel is a YA adventure fantasy with steampunk and sci-fi elements. It’s also something of a murder mystery. Honestly the more I delve into the plot the more I realize that my “relaxing break novel” is going to be just as complex and difficult as everything else I write. It’s not helping that I have ten characters to develop not all of whom will make it to the last page. I thought this would make it easier because they’re expendable. What I have learned is that expendable characters can be the most demanding. They only get a short time and they want that time to matter to the reader. For the death to be moving the reader has to care and that means I need to know as much  about the characters I kill as the ones who survive.

Characters are the backbone of this book. Aside from the initial set up there is little in the way of outside forces moving events; so only through characters making decisions and taking action is the story, well, a story. Otherwise it would be ten people on an airship having a nice leisurely flight. Boring!

So that’s what I’m up to.

Coming soon:

  • A book review of Remedy by Heidi C. Vlach.
  • A few thoughts on plot and other writing related ruminations.
  • More personal stories!

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April has been an interesting month. I began it with the best intentions of completing Scriptfrenzy but in the end I didn’t, or won’t by tomorrow night anyway. On three occasions I sat down to begin writing one of my short film scripts and three times I ended up writing a completely unrelated short story. After that I got 4 pages of script completed then began working on my novel again.

Don’t misunderstand me, the scripts will get written. Now is just not the time. My head is in my novel and I can’t really complain about that. I like my novel. I like where it is going and I like how I’m getting there. It feels good to be living full-time with the characters in my head again. So I gladly relinquish a win in my first attempt at Scriptfrenzy and continue on with my labour of love. I know I’ll come back to the scripts but I’ve got a few things to finish up first.

Not to say I don’t have other distractions nipping at my heels. A novel idea and an idea I think would be suited to novella length have been brewing. The novel will have to wait but I think developing the novella is worth a little time. It’s a story based around political intrigue and I think even if the novella never goes anywhere the exercise of trying to write it will be valuable for my current WIP which is loaded with intrigue.

The writing is going well. I’m setting a minimum goal of 5,000 words per week but until I manage to find a job I think I could do significantly better than that. If I am diligent I am confident I can do 25,000 per week, maybe more. At that rate I will finish the novel by the end of May. What a delicious thought.

Time to get started.

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