Friday, December 31, 2010

Goal List 2011

‎"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." -Neil Gaiman

Like last year, to make goals for this year, it is necessary to go back and examine the ones from the previous. It is a way to balance the success and what might not be failure, but something to put for another time. In this case, a new year. I have been doing this since I was a teenager. Back then, I would write down my goals and tape them to the bottom of my unicorn globe (which I still have) that sat on my nightstand. The strange thing about my goals is the fact that I write them down and don't look at them all year. I always manage to acknowledge the goals in some way throughout the year with no reminder. They just happen.


2010 Goals
1) Write 20,000 words a month.
I didn't accomplish this, and it is too bad. I record my writing in my Google Calendar, and I know that I can accomplish this goal. Not sure if I can every month, but it is something to strive for.

2) Read 60 books/comic books
I have 67 books on my list this year. Four of those I didn't finish since I lost interest. For the most part, I found a lot of great books that I love and re-read the Harry Potter series. To learn more, go to my previous post about books and comics.

3) Begin urban gardening.
We did grow tomatoes, potatoes, peas, catnip, chocolate mint, lettuce, jalapeno peppers, and broccoli on our balcony this year. I did learn a lot about what to do this next summer. I did buy a book to learn more about growing all year long, but I think I am going to work with the summer for at least another year. It was pretty exciting to see what there was to eat each day we stepped out onto our balcony.

4) Learn to eat a little more vegan and healthier.
Our diet goes back and forth, and we are pretty good. I think this is something that we can always work on and we are very willing to try different foods. Becoming vegetarian has definitely made me more adventurous!

5) Exercise 2 times a week that isn't walking at work on break.
I did this for most of the year while experimenting with different ways to exercise. I haven't found something I like yet and have some ideas for this year.

6) Learn to meditate. Reflect more on spirituality.
As always, a work in progress. It does ease the mind just taking that deep breath.

7) Plan trips to Orlando and England.
We did return to Orlando-- twice. Once in May for a family trip and again to celebrate our five year anniversary and to visit Hogwarts. We don't be returning to England any time soon, and that is really too bad. We do have some other trips in mind...

8) Join a writing organization.
I not only joined the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), but started a local critique group called Stone Circle. I also joined a great ning group to network different book bloggers. There is so much to learn from other writers and it is an incredible how much there is to learn about writing.

9) Make Kaylee Frye's costume from Firefly.
I am really excited to say that I did make one and I LOVE it! And I also dressed up as Lois Lane this year, too.

10) Paint bathroom and replace tile throughout the home.
We decided not to paint the bathroom and did replace the tile in the kitchen (big project). We have to wait to tile the other rooms since we need to replace other items in the house.


It is easy to see where there is need for improvement, but also, I have exceeded my expectations. Sometimes I do make my goals harder than I need to or it takes more time than I imagined. It is great to see that I have done something for each category and didn't just completely pass them over. Now it is time for...

2011 Goals
1) Finish the rewrite of Kin and have it ready for submission by the end of the year.
2) Do a rewrite and edit of Beyond the Garden. Start writing book 2 in the series.
3) Retile and remodel the bathrooms. Retile the laundry room.
4) Exercise at least 2 times a week. Find something I don't mind doing.
5) Draw and paint something that I like.
6) Plan a trip to Japan, Disneyland, and New York City.
7) Re-read some of my favorite authors.
8) Write at least one book review a month.

I wish I could add more to the list, but I think focusing a bit more on my writing is something that needs to happen this year. Having my writing group has really helped with deadlines since I could revisit some of my past writing. I would like to see more new writing, but I have past projects that need my attention. The list looks exciting and I will get started today.

First, I am going to do some changes on the blog and website. I've had both for nearly two years now and I make some minimal changes from time to time. I am not sure exactly what I will come up with by the end of the day, but I think it is time for a new face lift.

Here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Natasha

Monday, December 27, 2010

Books and Comics 2010

I don't like to say negative things about books, but you can see ratings for the books I read during 2010 at Goodreads (and feel free to add me as a friend). As you can see, I have some variety of books there. I try to do something different every once and a while, but my passion really is in fantasy (mostly YA or MG) books.

New books that came out this year that I would like to recommend are (drumroll please):
The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Other books that I fell in love with:
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (my now favorite book ever)

Series that I fell into:

Series I fell back into:

What to look out for in 2011:
Wither by Lauren Stefano

Books I will possibly re-read in 2011:
Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Any books that you loved this year or books you are looking forward to in 2011?

Natasha

Friday, December 24, 2010

Something about Cheer!

There are reasons that I don't like to explain about why I don't care for the holiday season. It isn't just one thing, or one year. It is more than I like to count. It is a time that my nerves go on edge and there are more days than I like where staying in bed sounds like the best gift imaginable.

This year I decided that enough is enough. There are plenty of reasons to keep going on with this Scrooge or Grinch-esque attitude, but that is the past. The hold that it has had on me must stop this year. It is a new time for making my own cheer.

My husband and I celebrate our five year wedding anniversary next weekend, the 2nd of January. We were friends for six months, and he became the light over that tough holiday period for me. January 2nd is the day that we confessed that we loved each other, and four years later, we were married. Now nine years has passed and he is still the light of life.

Two weeks ago, we went to Orlando to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and DisneyWorld to celebrate. Everywhere was dressed up for Christmas and my heart became light with everything around me. We drank butterbeer and walked the streets of Hogsmeade, gawked at the lights on Cinderella's Castle, and marveled at the Whos make-up while walking around in Whoville. I came home from this trip more relaxed and with heightened spirits.

There is also a promise that was made to myself to not think of the negative things. With the loss of someone special and my dad's triple bypass surgery, it was something that I had to do for the sake of my sanity. To help do away with the negative, I surrounded myself with the positive and that is now the goal. What can I do to help increase the positivity during the holiday season?

During the holidays, we hope to start this decade with new traditions and memories. The Orlando trip helped (as well as the England/France trip from two years ago), adopting our two kitties, and even new traditions for the holidays. The ones we decided on so far was to make homemade pizza, butterbeer, play games, and watch Christmas movies (The Muppet Christmas Carol and Die Hard are at the top of my list).

The negative things can really help determine what person we can be, to show ourselves our strengths and weaknesses, and challenge us to become a better than we were before. The positive things can drive us to do more good for our health, our sanity, and reawaken the gift of every day we have to live. I know that I can live through the bad, and I know that I can live in the good. This year has proven that more good is yet to come and the bad can worsen if I let it.

May your holidays to be filled with light, laughter, and love.

Natasha

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

After: First Writer's Conference

‎"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default." --J.K. Rowling, Harvard Speech 2008

"There’s a saying by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Your first ten thousand photographs are your worst.” In writing, we say, “Your first million words are crap." --L.K. Madigan

(Sorry this is a little late, but I have been waiting something regarding it)

My first writing conference wasn't what I expected and there are a number of reasons why. I had a wedding the first night so I missed out on connecting as well with the other attendees. The second day I was late and lucky that I had a friend. The person that was supposed to critique my novel didn't show up (which wasn't the convention's fault, mind you). The other guests, Jane Kurtz and Wendy McClure really made up for it with their wisdom (they discussed myth vs. reality in publishing and plot).

Overall, it was felt like a practice run on what I should do next time. However, it was a step to be around other writers. That is very important and worthwhile, and some of the conversations really gave me a new perspective. I need to re-do my goals big time before I attend another one.

Natasha

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wither by Lauren Stefano

What if you knew exactly when you would die?


Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

The premise of this book drew me in from the very moment that I read it. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publisher Simon and Schuster and there is no better one I could have received as a new release for 2011. This book drew me in from the very beginning. This world could have been a bit complicated, but it was the exact opposite. The author didn't have to explain the world, it just appeared as it should with the first person storytelling told by Rhine's experience with the past, present, and her wants for the future.

The struggle in the book is definitely about being deceptive and patience to earn her freedom. Rhine remained mostly calm throughout the book, enjoying life as it was presented and taking in the bad around her without showing weakness to those around her. This strength came from the outside world in which she was raised and it gave her what she survive, characteristics that her sister wives gave up to do the same.

Another nice thing about the book is that it takes time for developments to happen. She doesn't become captured and forced to marry, and then escapes within a week. This story takes place over a course of a year so it really gives you a complete picture of the world that Rhine and the other sister will live until their life extinguishes. It is filled with their developing friendship with each other, how their marriages all differ to Lindon, and the comforts of life and death that they will lead.

The characters were all vivid, the plot pace kept you going, and the world isn't something that I questioned. You see everything through Rhine's eyes and she really gets to know the people around her and understands how the world works, which gives the reader a good vision of this dystopian world. Definitely a read that I couldn't put down!

5 Stars-- Loved it!

Wither comes out on March 22nd, 2011. Be sure to check it out!

Warning: There is sex and violence in the book so this book is not written for younger audiences.

Links:

Natasha

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Quiet

Why has my blog been so quiet? I'm on vacation (two days left!). I do have a few upcoming things in store, including our trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a review of the ARC for Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Oh, then there are the end of the year lists!

Hope December has been treating everyone well.

Natasha


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Final Week of Nanowrimo

Novel Rewrite Count: 22,000 Words


I didn't complete what I thought I could this month, but I am halfway through my novel. I am not going to be too hard on myself right now. A death happened in my extended family and my father went into a triple bypass surgery--- just as I arrived at the hardest chapters to write in the book. Everything is fine as they can be at the moment and I am approaching the time to sit down and plug out those words better than I probably could do before.

Goals have changed, but there are still goals to be had. The cycle of examining the past year and what I have done has arrived. It isn't always a good or bad thing, it is just a way for me to determine where to go and how to become what I want to be.

We had a great discussion in Stone Circle, my critique group, about our goals on where to go with our writing. We each have our own and distinct wants, and mine have changed from the knowledge that I keep learning with each passing year.

I remember the moment that I wanted to become a writer. I was in the third grade in my classroom and our teacher had arranged books along the chalkboard. We each took turns going up to grab a book (I was going for anything from the Baby-sitter's Club spin-off, Baby-sitters Little Sister) and I knew that anything that could give me this much happiness was something I wanted to be. Books were (and still are) my favorite thing and being a part of it became my goal. I carried a book, and eventually a notebook of writing, with me to every class I took after that.

The vision of becoming a writer changed a bit as I learned more about it. There is the publishing aspect, the rejection, the critiques, and the importance of rewriting. The first step that I give myself is just to write and not to think of those things. Right now it is easy--- I'm not published. It is a dream, a goal, something that I reach my hand out to and cannot touch quite yet. There is still growing going on and the ambition hasn't changed as those new responsibilities popped up in the picture. They are challenges that I am ready to meet, however, it is taking time to focus myself.

December is a new month. I am going to a cafe tonight to continue my book and to face what needs to be written. Here's to a new challenge!

Natasha

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