Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Goal List

I decided that this year instead of starting with my goals for the past year, that I should just look ahead for the next year. Sometimes it better to look forward rather than behind. There are so many possibilities in goals and that is what I want to see in 2012. Lots of possibilties. 

2012 Goals
  1. Finish revisions on KIN and submit.
  2. Write another novel.
  3.  Submit a short story for publication.
I decided that I want to make writing my biggest priority, and that is what I plan on doing.

Here are the results of my 2011 goals:

1)     Finish the rewrite of Kin and have it ready for submission by the end of the year.
I am on the fourth edits and will be doing major revisions next. I’m proud of what I have done so far with the time I have been given. So, you will be seeing new goals pertaining to this.

2)     Do a rewrite and edit of Beyond the Garden. Start writing book 2 in the series.
I am dragging my feet on what to do with this book. When I was talking to my mother about it, she gave me this look and said, “Don’t you dare change a thing.” If I do work on it again, there needs edits.

3)     Retile and remodel the bathrooms. Retile the laundry room.
We decided against making changes to the house due to some big changes we are planning for 2012 that I can't talk about here right now.

4)     Exercise at least 2 times a week. Find something I don't mind doing.
I did well at the beginning of the year, however, I kept having back pain no matter what I did. I went to the chiropractor and found out that I have disc degeneration in my lower back and arthritis. I am doing my best to find way to help relieve the pain (like getting a different work chair) before adding anything too demanding. Running and jogging are now off the table since it causes too much stress on me. Right now I am focusing on walking and yoga. However, I do love walking, so there is something! 

5)     Draw and paint something that I like.
While in San Diego, I sat in a class taught by my artist friend and did a sketch of two fish. I love it. This is something that I would like to keep pursuing.

6)     Plan a trip to Japan (Kyoto and Tokyo), Disneyland, and New York City.
Went to all of those places, as well as San Diego. I wrote blog posts on each of them. Just click on the cities to read about the trips.

7)     Re-read some of my favorite authors.
Tamora Pierce and Shannon Hale are my end of the year reads while I rewrite.

8)     Write at least one book review a month.
That just didn’t happen. I am thinking book reviews are not a priority for me. Unless I completely am in love with it. 

I think what I have discovered about this year is what I should really focus my time on. As I always say, to keep moving on forward.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

East Coast Side Trip

It seems like an odd thing to go from the West Coast to East Coast in one trip (while being one from the Midwest). We just figured since we are on vacation, why not combine them? We wanted to see our friend in San Diego, but New York City was on our Want To Visit list. It wasn’t that crazy since we have travel quite a bit.

Talking to people about our trip, people were concerned about us getting around the city. I had to laugh and comfort them by saying it will be easy. We visited Japan earlier that year, and with the language barrier and the size of Tokyo, NYC didn’t scare me one bit. I never thought that would be possible, but it is the truth. 

Here are some of things we saw in New York City:

We liked eating here so much that we ate at the Peace Cafe twice! Tasty vegan food.
Check out their website.

The 9/11 Memorial was so strange. It was so quiet even though there were drummers
at Occupy Wall Street. When looking at the water, it is like people walking.

30 Rock! My favorite building in NYC.

On top of 30 Rock. Yep, that is the Empire State Building.

A collection of The Legend of Zelda in the Nintendo Store. It is my husband's
favorite video game series. I walked down the aisle at our wedding to
the orchestrated theme song.

Went to the amazing Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Love, love this park. We ate some scones we bought at the Peace Cafe
and relaxed here before heading to Barnes and Noble.

Caught Terry Pratchett at the Tribeca Barnes and Noble. 

Related blog post:
West Coast Side Trip


Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Favorite Books: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Night Circus

Daughter of Smoke and Bone 
by Laini Taylor

“Love is a luxury." 
"No. Love in an element."

An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.

I hadn’t read any of Laini Taylor’s books before, but after this one, I wanted them all. I surprised myself since I had grown tired of the contemporary paranormal/fantasy/andsoforth that has taken over the shelves of YA. This stemmed from reading a few books that I didn’t enjoy as much as I had hoped, but also learning more about my own preferences. I am now taking more caution in more reading samples before I buy or borrow them.  

I will admit that the beginning of the book wasn't the strongest part, but the thing is, that is the weakest that we see the character. There is so much ahead of her that she doesn’t even know. Curiosity of Karou is what drew me in—blue hair that grew straight out of head, sketches of “creatures” in her notebooks, and living a double life among the human in Prague and her sketches are portraits of her real family.

In this double life, we learn the answers to all the secrets kept from Karou. How there is a battle between seraphim and chimera, portals to other places, and a love story fighting against all odds.  All of this is written in poignant prose and sprawling imagination that makes reading the novel worth every moment.

The Night Circus 
by Erin Morgenstern

“The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.” 

This book is like a black and white dream. There is a change of point of view throughout the story, but it is effective. It starts in second person where you take in the view of everything in front of you, and it transitions to the characters within. The way the characters resembles those stuck in a play, with each having their cue to come in and perform their part. What we see is behind the scenes, looking into their lives.

When I heard that this was going to be a challenge between the two main characters, I assumed that it would be more like the Hunger Games. They would show their abilities in the rings and their challenge would be hurting the other. The challenge was more than that--- intricate, long-lived, and a deeper part of the circus. Celia and Marcus are trained from a young age for something that they don’t even know the rules. The mysterious game touches the circus audience and the performers. The circus invokes desires that cause them to dream, to inspire, and to live. 

Those are the two books that I plan to read again and again that premiered in 2011. Are there any books that you discovered 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Writing Challenge (NaNoWriMo) Afterthoughts

It is hard to believe that another NaNoWriMo has passed. I completed my personal writing challenge a week early. Here are some of the things I learned:

  • What goals works? 250 words is a decent goal and I gave myself a day off a week. It doesn’t take long to write, and I can always write more. The words add up over time and it is a good way to keep building my skills when I’m busy. I love NaNoWriMo, but the 1667 words a day is hard to keep up with when I have a full time job.
  • Confidence. I feel better when I write. When I go to sleep that night, I know that I have done something instead of overwhelming guilt.
  • Day or night? I like writing in the morning. Evening tends to be more realistic
  •  Obvious distractions. I always have a drink by my side and eat beforehand (I don’t tend to snack). Social networking that I am writing or editing reminds me if I go on there too long after I announce it, then it is a sign that I’m doing the opposite (shame sometimes works).
  • Go out. It is easy to stay in now since winter is here in North Dakota. I did my best by going out to the local bookstore once a week to play bit of catch up with no distractions. It is nice to treat myself to a drink, too. 
  • Prompts. I hope to use what I wrote in November to possibly create an outline for a MG novel. One of the things that I liked is when I wrote a scene, I always had more to say at the end. They just weren’t ready yet. I would write down a few suggestions or unused ideas to use as prompts for the next day.
I am going to admit, I had this hope that I could figure out my process a bit more. I listened to an amazing panel with authors Neil Gaiman and Connie Willis where they talked about how every time they wrote a new work, the process was always different. It might be a frustrating thought, but at the same time, it keeps writing new and exciting. (I suggest watching the video. There is so much information that is helpful for all writers. Scroll down in the blog post to find the link.)

Another piece of advice that I found from one of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale, also talks about the challenges of writing: 

"Sometimes I wish writing a book could just be easy for me at last. But when I think about it practically, I am glad it's a struggle. I am (as usual) attempting to write a book that's too hard for me. I'm telling a story I'm not smart enough to tell. The risk of failure is huge. But I prefer it this way. I'm forced to learn, forced to smarten myself up, forced to wrestle. And if it works, then I'll have written something that is better than I am."

Congrats to all the fellow writing challengers and NaNoWrimo participants!


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