The Write Stuff: Excuses, Excuses

Writing Challenge: The Write StuffAs The Write Stuff wheezes itself into month seven, I’m having trouble focusing. I’ve done a lot of adulting lately (e.g., moving, writing large checks, and talking with my husband endlessly about “house stuff”), which is apparently worse for my creative output than even my negative self-talk.

Goal 1: Finish four short stories in 2017

The Write Stuff progress spreadsheet

Have I touched “Beginnings” since June? Nope. Have I thought of a fourth story idea? Also nope. Where do writers get their ideas from? I need help.

Goal 2: Write one in-character scene after every D&D session

(Formerly: Do as many of the 642 Tiny Things to Write About as I can)

On Sunday our group met for the first time since early June. We had basically forgotten how to play, so it took some time to ease back into it. Hopefully we’ll be meeting more frequently going forward; I’m so excited to get back into it!

I’ve had an idea germinating in my head for a few days, and finally had a chance to write it out and post it to our Facebook group last night. Fingers crossed someone responds!

Goal 3: Join a writing community (and actually share stuff for feedback)

I’ve…sort of done this? A few months ago I joined Toastmasters, and a couple days ago I finally gave my first prepared speech. It was non-fiction (I had to talk about myself for 4-6 minutes, yeesh), but it did involve writing and structuring stories and the speech itself. And the other members did give me feedback. So I’m going to count that.

Just let me have this.

Goal 4: Document it all on this blog

Enjoy my ever-quickening descent into madness. I hope you’re happy.

How’s your writing going?

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Review: A Little Princess

A Little Princes, Francis Hodgson BurnettSara has led a life many children can only dream of, surrounded by every comfort and a papa who adores her. She is not eager to attend the English boarding school in which her father has enrolled her, but knows that she should face any adversity like a brave soldier.

When her father dies in India, Sara is left penniless. She must be a servant in the school she once attended, despised by her former classmates, with only her imagination for company.

No matter how unbearable her life becomes, Sara is determined to meet her trials with head held high. “If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside.”

Simply lovely

I’ve seen the 1995 film adaptation of Francis Hodgson Burnett’s classic about a million times — I’m not sure how I made it this far without reading the novel.

Much like her other novels, including The Secret Garden, Burnett’s A Little Princess is philosophy masquerading as children’s literature. In this case it’s about being who you know you are inside, even when the outside doesn’t match.

Normally I hate a Mary Sue. Sara is so good and sweet that she should be unbelievable as a character. Maybe it’s because she’s got a bit of a temper, or because her life takes such a terrible turn that my sympathy outweighs my annoyance.

I love that her principal forms of escape are books and storytelling. She uses her imagination to help herself and her friends forget, for a time, how hard their lives are.

Like a lot of books from the 1900s, A Little Princess does sometimes feel a bit paternalistic. The characters are black and white (either fully good or fully bad), and the entire premise is a bit far-fetched.

Yet there are some good lessons about facing adversity and blooming where you’re planted. Hodgson clearly believes in the power of storytelling and fantasy to lift us from pain and sorrow, and remind us that there is still magic in the world.

(I read this book for the Monthly Motif Challenge. July’s challenge was all about fantasy and fairytales.)

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Quickie Review: Laughing All the Way to Crazytown

We moved 10 days ago. All our boxes are unpacked, we’ve got power and interwebz, the commute to work is smooth sailing.

We also have no washer and dryer, no curtains, and my bank account is lookin’ real sad. Such is life.

Between moving and having a couple meltdowns about moving, I’ve actually managed to get some reading done.

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, Zarqa NawazA series of short stories by author and television writer Zarqa Nawaz about growing up Muslim in Canada. It’s like Love, InshAllah, but with way more laughs. It’s a peek into a culture about which most Americans know little. Nawaz is an excellent writer, both thoughtful and hysterical. Her television series Little Mosque on the Prairie aired for six seasons in Canada — I need to get my hands on it.


Hex, Thomas Olde HeuveltThis translated edition of Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s Dutch novel made me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I was wound up as tight as a drum a few chapters in, and Heuvelt spent the rest of the book winding me tighter. The final few chapters are gruesome and absolutely horrifying. The book’s theme — what is the true definition of a monster? — is intriguing and repulsive. Much like The Seeker, Hex terrified me and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. So good.

Coming up next on my TBR is…well, I don’t know. I need to make a run to the library to renew my card; maybe I’ll see what’s on display when I go in. If you’ve got any recommendations for me, drop ‘em in the comments!

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State of the Blog: June 2017

State of the BlogWhy is it so freaking hot? Let’s drown our sorrows in books.

The basics

  • Books read since January 1: 28
  • Pages read: 9,522
  • Books reviewed: 20
  • Books not enjoyed: 3
  • Books not finished: 0
  • Library books: 14
  • Ebooks: 6
  • Audiobooks: 0
  • Genre breakdown
  • Fiction: 15
  • Non-fiction: 13
  • Fantasy: 2
  • History: 6
  • Memoir: 2
  • Mystery/Thriller: 12
  • Paranormal/Supernatural: 3
  • Young adult literature: 2
  • Children’s literature: 1

Reading challenges

  • Charity Reading Challenge: 28 books read
  • Monthly Motif Challenge:  6 of 12
  • Off the Shelf Reading Challenge: 2 of 9

Check out my reading challenge progress.

Some thoughts

  • I’m loving book club! I can’t believe it took me so long to join one.
  • I’ve read more ebooks in the last six months than I did in all of 2016. I blame reading challenges and book club, as well as my book buying ban. And I still prefer the real thing.
  • We’re moving in — holy shit — a day and a half. Almost everything is in boxes, but thanks to the Pre-Move Purge we’ve got fewer DVDs, books, clothes, and dishes to schlep across town. It feels so good to toss out trash and donate good items to people who will use them.

Looking ahead

  • I asked for and got some lovely books for my birthday. I’m excited to jump into those once we get moved and settled.
  • I’d like to make some more progress on my reading challenges, especially Off the Shelf.
  • Where the hell am I going to get a fourth story idea for The Write Stuff?

How’s your reading going this year?

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The Write Stuff: Halfway Home

Writing Challenge: The Write StuffI’ve been on The Write Stuff journey for six months. Let’s see how it’s going!

Goal 1: Finish four short stories in 2017

The Write Stuff progress spreadsheet

Not much official movement since last month. I’ve incorporated most of the edits I got on the third draft of “Beginnings,” but I got a couple bigger pieces of feedback that need more work. More info on that below.

Goal 2: Write one in-character scene after every D&D session

(Formerly: Do as many of the 642 Tiny Things to Write About as I can)

Our next session isn’t until mid-July. I’ve got a couple ideas brewing, and I hope to post something short to our Facebook group before then. I love diving into my character and learning more about her.

Goal 3: Join a writing community (and actually share stuff for feedback)

The big thing someone pointed out to me about my writing is that I overuse the pronoun-action way of describing things. She pulled, He flinched, They turned.

I do it a lot: 106 times in a 4000-ish word story. Now that I’ve seen it I can’t unsee it, so I have to fix them. Trouble is, I’m not sure how.

Fortunately the internet provides. I found a thread where people give great tips on fixing this sneaky issue. Now it’s just a matter of me sitting down and hacking through my story. Lord give me strength.

Goal 4: Document it all on this blog

Are you not entertained?!

How’s your writing going?

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