Blessed with Books

Oh goodness.

I just wrapped up my fifth Christmas celebration: two for my family, two for my husband’s family, and one small one involving quiche, almond croissants, and strong coffee for just my husband and I.

And let me tell you: I am so loved and so blessed.  Truly.  I love giving gifts, so I had a great time with that.  My loved ones also gave me stellar gifts.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I do want to share with you all the books that I was given because those are (some of) the reviews you can look forward to in 2017!

Check it out:

 

  • Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card
  • A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card
  • Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. Michael Knost
  • Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
  • Savor by Shauna Niequist
  • Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (I’m currently reading the library’s copy of this one)
  • Moments like These by Jenny Bravo

 

(I’ve already read the following, so you might not get a review any time soon, but now I own these to round out my collections.)

  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
  • Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan
  • Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

 

Oh, and I also got 4 journals – my family knows me so well 🙂

 

Did you get any new books for Christmas?

Here We Go! Back to Revising…

Happy December 22, y’all.

Today is an important day for three reasons:

  1. The Winter Solstice has passed which means the days are getting longer again.  YES.
  2. My birthday is one month away!  YES.
  3. I’ve started the revision process on The Legend of Elliot Major.

After taking three weeks off post-NaNoWriMo for some much needed rest, I’m back in the saddle.  For the next few days, I’ll be reading through Elliot Major and making notes on my rough draft.

I’ll keep you updated on the process: how it’s going, what I’m doing, what’s working and what’s not.  I’m mostly excited, though this feels a little daunting – especially since I spent the majority of 2016 revising Bombshell.

It’ll be worth it, though.  I’m sure.

Review: Bridge of Birds

Remember when I accidentally read the third book of an obscure trilogy that my friend loaned me?  And I loved it so much that I wrote my very first fan letter to an author?  Well, my wonderful husband who works at a bookstore down the street from our apartment got his hands on the omnibus of that trilogy so I finally got to read book one!

And spoiler (not really): it was awesome!

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart is the first book in the Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox.  The story starts off strong with a mystery in Number Ten Ox’s small village; he’s sent to the city to find a wise man to help him, and through some questionable judgment stumbles upon the brilliant, old, and slightly inappropriate Master Li.  It’s a match made in heaven, and the two go about with their hilarious adventures: solving mysteries, swindling the bad guys, and making (kind of) bad decisions.

The first book in this trilogy, like the third book that I loved so much, takes place in the ancient China that never was and is full of majesty, mystery, and mayhem.  I laughed out loud numerous times, was blown away by Hughart’s beautiful imagery, and never got bored as Master Li and Ox charmed their way in and out of trouble.

I still can’t decide which of the men is my favorite: Ox with his great physical strength and lacking mental strength is incredibly endearing, but I can’t help but love Master Li’s cleverness and honesty regarding his “slightly flawed character”.

Maybe book two will help me decide who I prefer?  And oh well if it doesn’t.  I can’t wait to read it soon either way.

I highly recommend getting your hands on Bridge of Birds for a good laugh, a trip to beautiful and majestic ancient China, and an entertaining mash-up of a mystery and a comedy of errors.

Onward to Story of the Stone!

Review: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy

Almost a year ago – December 24, 2016 – my fiancé (now my husband) gave me a large box of books.  I’d recently finished writing the first draft Bombshell and was working on revisions.  I had just shared with him that it was my goal to query agents in 2016 as a first step to trying to publish my work.

This large box contained six books about writing in general, revising, the publishing industry, and much more.  Among the six was an especially thin one with a boring brown cover: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card.

It took me a long time to start, but over the past two or three months, I’ve been reading it.  Well, reading probably isn’t the right word.  It’s more accurate to say that I’ve been studying it little by little, highlighting thoughts and writing notes in the margins.  I’ve been reading a section, taking a week or so to chew on it, then reading more.  It’s been a slow process, but it’s been oh so good.

Orson Scott Card does a fabulous job of looking at science fiction and fantasy from every angle.  He talks about the history of science fiction and fantasy, the difference in the genres, and the similarities in the genres.  He dissects a few of the different sub-genres.  Card prompts thoughts on the pros and cons of writing either science fiction or fantasy, as well as the benefits and drawbacks reading each of those.  He talks, from much experience, about the joys and woes being an SFF writer.

Card doesn’t just write about the genres though.  He writes about the writing: worldbuilding, plot, character development, etc – so many tips and things to consider.  For example, he dives into the different methods of space travel that have been used in science fiction, and he looks in depth at what makes each one both viable and unlikely.  He does the same things with different magic systems in fantasy stories.

But Card doesn’t just do it to do it.  With every example he gives, he ties it back to why that aspect of storytelling is important, leaving you encouraged, inspired, and desperate to rake through your manuscript to look for worldbuilding inconsistencies.  It’s a great and terrible thing and so necessary.

I loved reading How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, and I highly, HIGHLY recommend it if you enjoy writing – not just SFF, but any genre, really.

Novodah’s Myth

Hey all!

Like I reported in my previous post, I’m currently working on writing Novodah’s Myth, the sequel to the novel I’m also currently revising, The Legend of Elliot Major.  (I’ve yet to decide which I’m going to spend the majority of my time doing – I want to avoid half-assing both of them.  But I do know that these two novels will likely take up the majority of 2017.)

Anyway, I wanted to give you some details about this lovely sequel.  IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS FOR THE LEGEND OF ELLIOT MAJOR THEN YOU BETTER STOP READING RIGHT NOW.  Per usual, I’ll do my best to keep spoilers at a minimum, but it’s a sequel – even just seeing some of the characters, you’ll realize that so-and-so didn’t die, what’s-his-name isn’t mentioned, oh-my-gosh-they-… I had to stop because I almost spoiled something specific.

So: read no further if you want to go into Elliot Major completely cold.

 

Ok.

Novodah’s Myth picks up just a couple weeks after The Legend of Elliot Major left off.  Jaina, a Dianian medic at Outpost #4 on the icy planet, Tabor, has been sent a new patient: one whose Memory Guard Chip has malfunctioned.  MGC cases are rare, and Jaina’s no expert, but she’s determined to do all that she can for the soldier.

Jaina has her own mess of problems, though.  Every winter, many of the humans on Tabor are afflicted by a flu-like virus, and this year’s seems to be the worst in the history of the colony.  The medical outpost is overwhelmed with patients with little that they can do for most of them.

In the midst of all this, Novodah – Jaina’s half-Dianian, half-human daughter – shows up after not having spoken to her mother in three years.  Dianians aren’t raised by their biological parents, so Jaina has no idea what she’s doing, but she desperately tries to mend that relationship after years of heartache.

While she fights to balance it all, the situation takes an unexpected turn.  The soldier she’s working with doesn’t seem to have random memory loss at all – his inaccessible memories seem to follow a very specific pattern.  Did someone make his MGC malfunction on purpose?  But if it supposedly happened when he crash-landed on an abandoned colony with a bizarre electromagnetic field, was his crash intentional?  And was it only for MGC care that he was sent to Tabor, where humans are falling to the disease left and right and none of the medicines seem to be working?

Is the Accord of Menn really the benevolent intergalactic organization that it seems to be?

 

I still have a good chunk of it to write; I’m probably two-thirds done.  But I’m loving it so far!

Have you ever written a sequel?  What was that like for you?

NaNoWriMo 2016 Recap

(Deeeeep breaaaath)

Ok.  It’s been a loooong time since I’ve written a blog post which kind of bums me out.  When I warned you that my posts would be less frequent, I wasn’t meaning that I’d be silent for 3.5 weeks.  But alas, that’s what happened.

I’m back, though, and I’m excited to get back to posting regularly.

So, let me tell you what I’ve been up to lately: working, having post-election conversations, reading for fun, decorating for Christmas, reading about writing, and writing (almost a whole) novel for NaNoWriMo 2016!  While I’m sure you’d find all of those things riveting, I’d really like to tell you about the last one.

If you’ve not heard of NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it involves an online community of writers attempting to each write 50,000 words in a month.  This is my fifth years participating, and (SPOILER) this was my third year “winning”, or reaching 50,000 words in the month.

I think I announced this in a previous blog post, but this November, I was working on Novodah’s Myth, the sequel to The Legend of Elliot Major.  This is the first time I’ve ever written a sequel, and while some aspects were easier (a lot of my worldbuilding was already taken care of), some were harder (I felt constrained to the big story arc of the series).

I started the month off strong, quickly getting ahead because I knew later in the month would be busy.  However, I was side-tracked by the election, work, Thanksgiving, etc, so those extra words early on really paid off.  On November 29, I reached my 50,000-word goal after a flurry of writing over 3000 words in one day.  My husband was by my side, cheering me on when I crossed the finish line… or at least the temporary finish line.

I managed to eek out another 200 words on November 30 to clock in at 50,201 words for the month.  I’m pleased, but I have a lot more story to go – some major things are happening, and I’m excited to keep going.  I think – and this could change – that this might be the best rough draft I’ve ever written.  I’m loving the plot, the themes, and the characters.  I’m sure, as always, that I won’t be impressed when I got back and read it again, but for now, I’m loving it.

So, the big question for me is what’s next.  Do I finish writing Novodah’s Myth – likely another 25,000 or so words?  Or do I start revising Elliot Major?  I haven’t decided yet, and I’m open to either one of those – maybe even a combination.  For the past three days, I’ve been resting (slightly side-lined by a cold) and reading.

And you know what that means?  More books reviews coming soon!  Here are some titles that I’ll be reviewing for you in the near future:

  • Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
  • A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling and Jack Thorne
  • How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

And of course, I’ll keep you posted on my writing endeavors 🙂