Camp NaNo – July 2016: Update #1

July is absolutely flying by, friends.  I’ve continued tackling my summer reading list, AND I’ve been participating in the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo.  If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, check out this post.  Or their website.

For this session of Camp, I’m still working on Bombshellmy science fiction work in progress.  It’s the same project as last Camp (in April), but this has been SO different and SO good.

Just like in April, I’ve been logging my hours spent revising, and I’m happy to say I’m right on track!  I’ve spent the past 20 days re-working my story (actually, I’ve been doing this since April…).  I’ve made some big changes: plot-wise, narration-wise, and character-wise.  And I think the story is so much better for it.

AND: big news.  I just wrapped up my third draft!  WHAT.  Here’s the play-by-play for those of you just joining us.

  • I wrote Bombshell from June-September of 2015.
  • I spent a few months editing it then sent it to my writer’s group.
  • I’ve been busy considering and implementing their feedback.
  • I just finished up the last page of draft 3 (or what I mostly refer to as draft 2.5; my first round of edits weren’t that major.  But I also don’t want to sell myself short.)
  • Draft 3 will be in the hands of some more critique friends soon.

So now you’re completely caught up.

For the remainder of Camp NaNo, I’ll be re-reading Draft 3, focusing on grammar issues, sentence structure, etc.  I also might use some of that time to write a synopsis to be used in later queries (!!) since I finally have the plot where I like it.

Anyway, that was a big update.  I’m bummed I haven’t been posting much, but this month I’ve really gotten a fire under my butt to revise well, and I’ve been spending so much time doing that.  But more books reviews are coming!



Review: The Mountains of Mourning

**Summer reading #7**

As you might have read recently, I have a new found love for The Vorkosigan Saga, so  I read this novella after finishing The Warrior’s Apprentice.  Shout out to my friend, Julia, for getting me the omnibus, Young Miles.  I’ll be reading The Vor Game sooooon!

“The Mountains of Mourning” by Lois McMaster Bujold was a very good read.  It had consistent humor with The Warrior’s Apprentice while still being fresh and unique.  And I was incredibly excited by the subject matter.

In this novella, Miles is sent to the back woods of his home district to help bring justice to a woman whose infant was murdered.  He’s not super excited about this, but his father sees it as a great opportunity, given the fact that the child was killed due to a birth defect.  (If you aren’t familiar with Miles Vorkosigan, he was born with many birth defects after his mother was poisoned while she was pregnant with him.)  That leads him on a journey to discover who’s guilty and who’s innocent, what’s just and what’s good, what’s good and what’s best.

He has to ask himself who the victims are and how to champion them, which is a question that I think is incredibly important today.  What makes a person valuable?  What’makes a person a person?  How do we who are seen as more important for nothing that we have done empower those seen as less important for nothing that they have done?

These are questions I’ll be thinking on for a long time, I’m sure.  If you’re also thinking about these things (or even if you’re not – because you should be), give “The Mountains of Mourning” a read.

Review: A Monster Calls

I read this book in a day.  And at the end of the day, I cried and cried and cried.

My husband owns A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (inspired by an idea of Siobhan Dowd), so I do by proxy.  This is the first Summer Reading book that Chris owns.  And I think it was a wonderful way to start.  He read it a few months back and raved about it, so it quickly went on my list.

A Monster Calls is a young adult book about a boy whose mother is battling cancer.  He has a recurring nightmare, but then begins having another, more interactive nightmare where he gets to talk to the monster because he’s not scared of it.  The recurring nightmare is so much scarier than the new monster.

The story is about him trying to figure out why the monster is visiting him, trying to figure out how to not be the “kid whose mom has cancer” at school, and trying to figure out how to have a relationship with his dad who moved to America (from Britain) years before that and is remarried.  All of that on top of trying to deal with his mom’s cancer treatments.  Oh yeah, and a sassy grandma.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just tell you how I feel about it.

A Monster Calls was raw and heartbreaking and devastating.  It deals with really hard themes in a really healthy and digestible way.  It was short, and the edition that I read had absolutely breathtaking artwork by Jim Kay.  I’m not an art person, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get over what Jim Kay did in this book.  Amazing.

This book hit incredibly close to home for me, as my mom passed away from cancer 6.5 years ago.  It brought up a lot of those raw grief feelings that people don’t like to talk about, and I’m so glad that this book exists.  Even 6.5 years later, I think it helped me heal just a little bit more.

So if you’ve grieved, if you love gorgeous or terrifying art, if you like tales with hard lessons (told by the monster itself), or if you’re looking for a short, easy read that will still touch you deeply, go pick up A Monster Calls and some tissues and have your phone nearby to call someone you love.

June Review Round-Up

Summer is 1/3 over already!  Dannnnnnnnng!  Summer reading has been incredibly fun so far, so I thought I’d give you a little round-up of what I read in June, from my summer reading list, audio books, and blog tour books.

Commanding the Red Lotus by R.J Sullivan

  • An exciting adventure about a woman who finds herself while fighting off mutiny, pirates, and self-doubt on a spaceship.

Gray Widow’s Walk by Dan Jolley

  • An augment (mutant) takes justice into her own hands, becoming the super hero that she’d needed when she lost the one she loved.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

  • An anthology of short stories surrounding humans trying to colonize Mars.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  • A young adult book about a boy’s nightmares as he deals with his mother’s battle with cancer.

“The Mountains of Mourning” by Lois McMaster Bujold

  • Miles Vorkosigan is sent to bring justice to a backwoods woman whose infant was murdered due to a birth defect.

Quarantine by John Vornholt

  • In book 4 of the Double Helix series,  Tom Riker, Chakotay, and B’Elanna Torres join forces to safe a world in the Demilitarized Zone that has been quarantined by the Cardassians due to the plague.

Red Sector by Diane Carey

  • In book 3 of the Double Helix series, Spock and McCoy try to save the Romulan royal family from a deadly plague.

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

  • Fairy tales intersect with reality as sisters consider giving up 7 years of their life for fame in their respective fields of art.

Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan

  • Set in an alternate history where the colonies lost the Revolutionary War, three friends go on a quest to unveil the murderer of a loved one.

The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold

  • A young Miles Vorkosigan repeatedly tries to cover his butt and accidentally forms a mercenary group.  Set in space.  Well written.  Funny.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

  • A funny, adventurous, captivating YA novel about a young witch trying to save her brother from the Queen of Faery with the help of spunky, tiny, blue men.






Summer 2016 Reading List: July

Now that we’re in the thick of summer reading, I’m super excited to keep diving into books that I already own but have never read.  It’s been super fun to discover these characters and stories that have been right under my nose – some for weeks and some for years!  I’ll be posting a round-up of what I read in June soon, and below is a list of some books I’m looking forward to reading in July!

  • The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Double Helix series, books 5 and 6
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Dune by Frank Herbert

Unlike in June where I mostly read books that I owned before I was married, these are a healthy combination of books owned by myself and my husband.  I’m excited to have access to some great books – just one more perk of marrying Chris, I guess.

Also, I’m hoping to get to 3 Hugo Award winning novels this month.  EEE!  Onward and upward, friends 🙂