Tag Archives: reading

Reading Slump

I find I write better when I’m reading good books. But lately I haven’t encountered any of those Magical Things.
I recently finished Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours which had a compelling plot line, but didn’t suck me in like her other novels The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton did. Too much unnecessary flowery prose and character sketches, and it took forever to get to the point. I’ve started a few other novels but never felt compelled enough by any of them to invest in finishing them.

Any suggestions? I like historical (but if it takes place in the 1960s onward I won’t touch it) novels with romantic elements. Also since I’m marrying a Spaniard in 4 months and 23 days, I’m interested in reading ones set in Spain. I just picked up The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner and I’m thinking some Carlos Ruiz Zafron would be good since he’s pretty highly acclaimed.

So yea, what do you say?


Dads and Doughnuts

Remember LAPTOP LIT MAG is here!! Check it!

Also Happy Birthday to my twin younger sibs. 16 today = driving. I’m a little nervous.

Yesterday, my former elementary school where my youngest sister currently attends, hosted the annual Scholastic Book Fair. If you follow the link and watch the kids in the video, imagine a 6-14 year old ginger kid who looked forward to this day of the school year more than the Christmas party free-for-all, field day, and summer vacation combined, and that kid would be me. Ok fine, take out the summer vacation, no kid is that nerdy that they enjoy something more than summer.

But I did adore the Book Fair. Each year, the gym transformed from a grungy place designed to torment children into the most magical place on earth. Tables literally overflowing with books. And what a variety! Clifford the Big Red Dog to Great Expectations. It was almost like heaven, but not quite, since I’m entirely convinced my heaven will look like my dearly departed local Borders. Each year, I collected my own money and parents’ spare change to wreak havoc on that place. No expense was spared (and still isn’t, whether it be print or Kindle format). I always returned to class with at least three plastic bags with book corners poking holes out of them.

It thrills me that nearly ten years after I’ve left the place, the tradition lives on. My sister – who doesn’t read much but likes buying things – gets to enjoy the same excitement I did. And the first step is owning the book. Once she has it and it’s hers she’s more likely to read it. It’s all about the encouragement.

Which is what is so fundamentally great about the Book Fair. It’s literally glorifying books right at the age where kids start idolizing things and creating their future life habits. If you present something as awesome to a kid when they are very young, odds are they will still think it’s awesome when they are older. Example – Rugrats cartoons. If you think about it, not really so great as far as concept, drawing, voices, everything else. But ask anyone who watched it when they were little and they will say something like, “Ahh, Rugrats. Good times. That was when cartoons were good, not like the stuff nowadays.” They’re really all on the same level, people, your perception is what has changed.

But something as broad as books don’t fade. There are too many different kids of books for people to be prejudiced against them as a whole. Reading is one of those things where – even if it takes you a while to get into it – once you find something you love and start reading it, you tend to not stop. Plus, you have to read to advance anywhere in this computer age anyway, so even if you don’t like reading, you’re reading this right now. Ha ha!

I digress.

This year, in order to foster more love of reading, the school did something so brilliant, I can’t even stand it. For the first half hour before school began they invited all Dads to join their kids at the Book Fair and offered them free doughnuts.

Wow. Kids spending time with Dads who probably work and don’t get to see their kids much during the week while eating scrumptious breakfast/desserts (how do you classify doughnuts really?) while also surrounded by thousands of books. I could almost cry at the beauty. Just by making the event something special consequently makes the kids remember their experience. And what was the factor that brought this experience about? BOOKS! Within that half-hour alone, the powers that be made $1,100. Yea that’s right. Put everyone in a good mood, make sure Dad is paying and the cash just can’t stop flowing.

My sister came home with about ten books. Five purchased with Dad and five when her class got to go down later that day for those whose Dads were not able to make it. She’s in fifth grade and returned with:

She loves dogs

And Phineas and Ferb.

All perfectly acceptable fifth grade reading level books. And I will deny this if you tell on me but sometimes I find myself watching Phineas and Ferb on my own, now that my soap opera has been cancelled. What? I never watched soaps or childish cartoons at nearly 22! Granted when I was in fifth grade, I came home from the Book Fair with the following:

Technically the love began in third grade, but I still dig these classics out. You can NEVER go wrong with Nancy Drew.

Not a lie. Fifth grade. Still have the copies. One is never to throw away books.

So my sister and I have different reading tastes. But we always knew this. I am the family reader, she is not. She may not be reading Pride and Prejudice but thanks to the Book Fair, she is still reading.

Had a request from Dear Friend Kristen, to update on my writing. Will do, but this post has gone on long enough, so next time.

Batten Down the Hatches!

Here in New York, we anxiously prepare for Hurricane Irene to clobber us. In an odd way, I find it exciting. I’m not at work, but am home with my family and if we all survive I can brag about living through history. I’m one of those girls who really enjoys storms, provided I am safely stashed in my house, though my dad says it’s weird that I’m excited about this one. I love thunder, I think lightning bolts are the coolest and blizzards make my day (aside from the one that cancelled my flight home from London last December, but let’s be honest, it wasn’t really a blizzard, London just got their panties in a bunch and couldn’t handle the pressure of two whole inches of snow. Clearly I’m still not over this.).

Anyway, hopefully Irene won’t unleash too much fury. Weather people predicted the Outer Banks (where we vacation in North Carolina) would be completely destroyed, yet it only suffered minimal damage. They’re saying the best case scenario for New York City would be for the storm to hit land and charge up New Jersey. Then her ferocity lessens and doesn’t smash the city so badly. On the other hand, if she swings out to sea first, she’ll collect more water and smack the city harder. So let’s terminate the Jersey Shore phenomenon by ripping the whole state off the country and end the hurricane in the process.

I kid. Very dear friends of mine live in New Jersey, and best case scenario is everyone staying safe throughout this whole fiasco.

So while we’re water-logged, I have decided to make the best of the situation: I had a brilliant idea for a story which I will tomorrow write with fervor. As is consistent with the most brilliant story ideas, it is somewhat based in truth. This one features a twenty-one-year-old red-head who has to miss out on the very first date she ever had due to extreme weather. She’s also struggling with other major changes and stalling in her life. During the storm unearths the true genesis of her warring emotions.

Yes, folks. I have never been on a date before in twenty-one years of my life. Yes, folks. On the only day I was free throughout basically the entire summer I got a date. That day: today, Saturday, August 27, 2011, the one day in the history of New York City that it completely shut down.

When has New York EVER shut down before? Never, that’s when. It’s the god damn city that never sleeps. But it sleeps the day I have a date.

I think God is trying to tell me something.

Nothing I can do about it, thus I must make lemonade from Irene’s freaking lemons. I’ve got a good story out of it, if nothing else. I’ve stocked up on my classic literature and will probably have plenty of time to read. I’m leaning toward my new beauteous copy of This Side of Paradise. Beowulf is a close second with Don Quixote hanging on to third. Will let you know.

Rain’s beginning to come down harder. I’m off to bed.

Quick, Quick, Quick!

A longer, more detailed post is coming, possibly even in a few hours with life updates, more details, goals and promises. But for now it’s two am and I want to go to bed, but I can’t without sharing this with you.

I’ve begun a new story on Serial Central! This one is much shorter and not nearly as dramatic as Ensnared (for a breakdown of all the chapters for those who missed it, you can CLICK HERE or on the Ensnared button on my sidebar to have full access to the whole thing) but I intend for it to be a very sweet winter tale. So, head on over and read Part One of Stumbling by CLICKING HERE.

Thank you lovely readers!

Calling All Readers!

SERIAL CENTRAL is well underway and so far is going just swimmingly 🙂 Barb‘s and Lua‘s stories have been smashing successes, and I hope to add mine to the list.

About fifteen minutes ago I posted PART ONE OF ENSNARED. If you’re feeling like you need something to do on this overcast day, head on over there and get reading!

Vicious Cycle

Step One

Rise from bed and determine to finish writing the scene one has been trying to write for the past two weeks. This is not to say one has not written at all in two weeks, just not as much as one would have liked.

Step Two

Shower. Now this may seem insignificant to The Plan Concerning Writing, but in fact it is not. For how can one write if one does not have the scene down pat in one’s head? Unpreparedness is unacceptable. Proper planning is essential for proper writing.

*Fine so I don’t really do much proper planning, but I do enact the scenes and conversations in my head while I am by myself in the shower or the car or whatever. The aloneness makes it easier for me to work through kinks and figure out  exactly where I want the story to go.*

Step Three

Go to work. A serious bump in the road to writing.

Step Four

Return home pumped from another hour and a half of internal planning via car ride. Totally ready to write this shiznit.

Step Five

Stare ineffectually at a blank page, urging and coaxing the words to no avail, only jotting a few and drawing very little personal satisfaction from them.

Step Six

Endeavor to find inspiration from veteran authors via one’s favorite books. Buryoneself in a world of another’s creation through their masterful words and pages.

Step Seven

Lose track of the time and fall asleep with book in hand.

Step Eight

Rise from bed …

*Note ~ The cycle can also occur in reverse when one is determined to finish reading a novel while engaged in an unofficial reading race with a best friend to finish an impeccable series first, only to be hindered by one’s own characters who will not leave one alone and insist on being written NOW. One loses the reading race but does not mind because of significant writing accomplishments.*

Haven’t I Read This Before …?

…Or am I just fooling myself? No I swear I have. Where though? Oh no. I know where. In my last novel!!!

My good friend Lua posed this question to me in her most recent post concerning the horrid Repetition. I’m picking up that phone, Lua! Her question: what do you, as a writer, do when you have (what you think is) a brilliant idea for a second novel or story – you flesh it out and come to love the characters – and realize it’s the same basic thing as the last story you wrote? Whatever is to be done!? Do you fall into the Pit of Despair? Do you burn the draft and outline, never to write again? Do you cry?

I’ll be honest, I do cry a little bit. The disappointment is hard to handle, especially if I’ve gotten really pumped about it. I don’t want my readers to get bored. Whenever I do get published, I want them to pick up my latest novel and whoop for joy about the new adventure on which they are about to embark with my brand spanking new characters. How can they do such a thing if they already read it in my last novel?

Once I get over myself and have a sliver or two of chocolate cake, I sit down and write it anyway. Sure it may be a little similar to the other one, but I’ve watched too many soap operas and far-fetched movies in my life to not be equipped to coming up with fresh plots and characters. The more I get into the second story, the more it shines through on its own. If it does continue to resemble its predecessor too much, then I can easily fix it in the editing process. Obviously I will make the connections between the two novels … I wrote them! I know them better than anyone else in the world!

And what’s so wrong with a little revisiting anyway? Basically all of Jodi Picoult’s novels end the same way, yet people (including myself) flock to buy the new ones when they are released. Jane Austen has some great plot-lines … but when we’re honest, they are only slightly different in the little details. The hero and the heroine will wind up together and live happily ever after in his extravagant manor.  It is all in the craft. What the Misses Austen and Picoult realized is that as long as you shape your story in an eloquent fashion, painting a brilliant portrait with your words and keeping readers on the edge of their seats at all times, it doesn’t matter if they know what’s going to happen. How many times have I re-read Pride and Prejudice? Countless times; I can probably quote a good deal of it to you. Have you ever watched a movie more than once? Aren’t TV show episodes all the same really?

And hello? Anyone ever read a romance novel? They are all identical! I don’t see a shortage of them anywhere. Let’s think of it this way (and do forgive a corny analogy): two novels by the same author are like sisters, inevitably similar, but not the same at all. The difference lies in the details.

But here is the real reason repetition doesn’t beat me down too far. Writers are readers. If readers can get bored, so do writers. Where is the excitement in writing the same story twice? Where is the spine tingling from the thrid appearance of the same villain? Where is the heart-twisting from seeing the same character die the same way four times? If it’s taking me too long to write, I’ve probably written it before and am just bored. Time for a new plot twist!

Don’t worry, Lua! You can kick that nasty biddie out!

Don’t forget my Dad’s Day Blogfest coming up at the end of this week!

Make Sure I Do This

Ok friends, as I sit here staring down the terrifying dark tunnel that is Finals Time and I am doing everything I possibly can to avoid it, I have made a Vow Unto Myself. And you are going to help me keep it!

Mightier Than the Sword currently has 1,774 hits. When it reaches 2,000 I will post the opening chapter of Becoming Mrs. Kennedy. Also on that day, I will begin querying agents again, whether the edits are done or not (they take forever to respond anyway that by the time they get back to me said edits will most likely be complete). When I do post it, I expect your fully honest opinions …

Now you may say to me, “Aspiring Novelist, shouldn’t you be studying and writing your final Religious Studies paper?”

To this I will respond, “Well, yes indeed, but how will I ever change my name from ‘Aspiring Novelist’ to ‘Published Novelist’ if I don’t get moving and launch my brilliant writing career if I don’t send out my material?”

So here we go! Encourage me, bully me, push me! Only 226 hits to go! Then we’re one step closer to reading the book in full and in print, not just online…

The Inkwell

For those of you who may be wondering what my real name is, there is now a venue for you to access this information.

The Inkwell Literary Magazine, Fairfield University’s Creative Writing Club, has officially taken over my life even more so than the Glee Club in recent weeks and here is why.

Two years ago when I started college the club used to be named The Cream Filling. Don’t ask, it was stupid. While fun and a great atmosphere to meet friends and write, it was honestly extremely unproductive. Nothing ever got printed or even put online. So, sophomore year G and I took over and have hence pulled it to its feet. (Side note, this is the SECOND literary magazine for which I and best friends have done wonders.)

Through begging, threats and tears, we have collected writing from students around campus and have compiled them into a literary magazine! The remaining printed copies are taking up all available space on my desk awaiting  distribution around campus. It can also be read online here!! For those of you who have been paying attention to my writing you will notice some familiar pieces 🙂 and hence figure out which of the two of the editors-in-chief is Aspiring Novelist!

Anyway, that and final papers are the reason why I have not been writing any of my novels at the moment, however, I am not too depressed because technically it falls under the category of creative writing/a future job. G and I are seriously thinking of creating our own magazine when we graduate as a way of raking in a little extra cash on the side and showcasing the talents of writers across the state/country/globe (we’re trying not to get too ahead of ourselves though!)

That is where I stand. Please let me know what you think of the magazine! So far only our best friends have been responding to us and I would love to hear the opinions of people I trust to tell me the truth and know what they are talking about in the field of literature. Since this is the first project The Inkwell has tackled, there has not been any precedent or feedback from past publications to give us an idea as to how we should do things. Ideas, comments and suggestions will be heartily accepted on either blog! We will seriously take anything constructive into consideration to create bigger and better future publications.

Thank you, friends!

Twenties Girl Worth Twenty Bucks

Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong decade? You find you have old-fashioned opinions, research the time in which you should have been born, and sigh over the costumes in movies from that time.

No, of course I don’t do this.

Lara Lighton, the principle character in the novel Twenties Girl doesn’t subscribe to this either. Yet in Sophie Kinsella’s hilarious latest book, Lara finds herself engaged in such behavior and many other crazy escapades – all to appease the ghost of her one-hundred-and-five-year old great-aunt. A haunting is certainly the last thing Lara needs. With her best friend and business partner gallivanting off to god-knows-where leaving Lara to salvage their floundering company on her own, Lara really can’t handle the supernatural intrusion. Not to mention she is also teetering on the precipice of financial ruin and heartbreak. Great-aunt Sadie, who reached her prime in the Roaring Twenties but recently passed away in a nursing home, has plans for her grandniece. Estranged from each other in life, Sadie insists in death that she will pester Lara for the rest of her days unless the two of them can locate her dragonfly necklace.

And so the unlikely duo sets out on an epic quest to locate the necklace and thus, let Sadie’s soul rest in peace. Along the way, they naturally have many a verbal battle, learn each other’s deep, dark secrets, and work on Lara’s love life. Though they profess to loathe each other throughout most of the novel, by the conclusion they realize how close they have actually become. Lara also comes to value Sadie’s life and decade, and eventually gives her aunt’s plight and mission her full attention.

As is typical of all Kinsella novels, the protagonist is an opinionated female in her twenties who is, regrettably, a tad immature. This initially turned me off to her popular Shopaholic series. It felt like I was inside the mind of a middle school girl rather than someone who had already completed college.

Lara in Twenties Girl still fits this prototype, but is more sophisticated. She has a more extensive vocabulary, and though she does do some wild things, she is not as annoying as other Kinsella characters. The mixture of they early twentieth century with contemporary culture adds much more flavor to the story. Rather than just taking the reader through the life and trials of a modern woman as so many trashy books these days do, this novel interlaces history with modernity, giving the book much more depth.

The recent paperback release, which has brought the price down significantly, justifies shelling out the twenty dollars on the novel. Twenties Girl makes for a fun-filled, quick read that would be a perfect Easter break activity.

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