Happy 6 Months Dreamscape!

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Six months ago I released my debut novel. (Dreamscape, in in case any of you could possibly have missed that fact.) So, what have these last six months been like?

Answer: so many different things.

  1. Amazing. When someone asks what it is I do I can actually say “writer,” even though I’ve been writing for years, for basically my whole life if we’re being honest, even though Dreamscape is by no means the first novel I’ve ever drafted.
  2. Amazing. People I know and people I don’t are buying my book. Maybe not thousands upon thousands (maybe someday), but even so. People are reading the words I’ve written. My grandfather is reading the words I’ve written (and yes, hearing him discuss the plot of my YA Fantasy is as hilarious as you would imagine).
  3. Amazing. People are reviewing my book. I’ve heard some people say (and it’s usually kindly meant) not to pay too much attention to reviews, but I personally am so touched by the fact of them. It is unbelievably kind of anyone to take the time to write about my writing. And, for all you reviewers and would-be reviewers out there, please know HOW important your reviews are! Your reviews help other potential readers find my novel! (This is especially true on Amazon. I haven’t quite cracked the code on their algorithm, but safe to say the more reviews the better chance I have of coming up in the “Suggested Reading” lists. Speaking of marketing, this is about the best thing ever for an author with an indie press.) (So if you’ve left a review, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are my heroes.)
  4. Amazing. This fall I participated in my first book festival, George Mason University’s “Fall for the Book.” I was on a panel with two other amazing YA authors. Such a fun experience!
  5. Hard. And here we go. Being an author is hard. Marketing is hard (and so not my forte), frequently expensive, and only rarely rewarding. Sales are hard. It turns out writing the book is the easy part. Everything else… wow.

That said, I’m so beyond grateful to have my book out in the world. It is a literal dream come true (horribly lame pun intended).

And so, to all of you who have read Dreamscape or are thinking of reading Dreamscape, to everyone who has reviewed it, or passed it along to a friend or shared one of my posts on Facebook or Goodreads…

THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart.

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New Years Resolutions(ish) or Resolutions Resolved

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My son, O, wishes you all a very happy Near Year!

Happy New Year, all!

We are one week into the new year and I already have some thoughts about resolutions. (Side note: who else feels we need a New Year “Restart” about halfway through January? I pretty much ALWAYS do.)

Every year I try to think about the (semi-realistic) things I want to accomplish… sometimes it goes better than others.

For example, I thought it would be nice to start 2018 with a dry January – after all the holiday indulgence and so forth. Well. That lasted all of five days when it was promptly derailed by a VERY stressful Friday (I was ready to pull the cork out of the wine with my bare hands). So now I am having a “slightly damp” January (to quote my husband).

But that’s ok. One of the Big Picture things I’d like to work on this year is avoiding the “if it’s not perfect it’s broken” mindset (see above with the “restarting the New Year” and hopefully you get what I mean).

Add to that the willingness to try (and fail) at new things. So, my dry January didn’t go perfectly. That’s ok. I can try again next year. Or next month. Or tomorrow. I mean, it’s only January 7.

Or I can try something else. I actually love the idea of trying one (thoughtful) new thing for every month. Next up? I’m thinking Reading Night Wednesday. How great would that be?

2017 was a year of high highs and low lows and I suspect 2018 will be no different. I suspect life will be no different. Because… that’s life! But in the meantime, I’m trying not to stress too much and to enjoy all the little things.

And, because most of my more concrete resolutions involve reading and writing and getting said writing OUT into the world (and also seeing the occasional movie IN a theater), hopefully this year will bring more news on that front too (at least the writing part… stay tuned)!

Happy New Year!

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Best Books of 2017

Best Books of the Year?

Where even to begin with these sorts of lists? Since there are about a billion of them out there already, I thought I’d do something a bit different.

Best New fiction I Read This Year: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. I love Jennifer Egan so, no surprise. Check out my mini review here!

Best Not-New Fiction I Read This Year: I finally picked up Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma, which was done as part of The Austen Project. (Note: The Austen Project pairs six contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s classic novels.) Those who know me know I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, and while I didn’t think this “modern retelling” of Emma was perfect (I mean, it’s hard to top Clueless when it comes to Emma remakes) I just enjoyed reading it so much. It is certainly my favorite of The Austen Project books to date.

(A Jane Austen to check out, if you’re into that sort of thing: Lady Susan. This was made into a movie last year, I think, called Love and Friendship. I recommend both the movie and the book, which is an epistolary-style novella and unlike anything else Austen wrote.)

Most Fantastical New YA Book I Read This Year: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Obviously YA fantasy is MY personal genre, so it seemed appropriate to have this as a category. I love Laini Taylor. She is the most gorgeous writer and her stories are rich in folklore and fantasy and color! I love her imagination!

Already read it? Check out Lips Touch Three Times, which is a collection of three short stories/novellas.

Most Interesting New YA Book I Read This Year: Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore. I love a genre-defying book. This one manages to be everything at once. It was like nothing I’ve read before. I’m so jealous of this book! Check out my mini review here!

Best Book I re-read This Year: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Because sometimes all you want is something comfortable and familiar. Like, a murder mystery? I know it’s weird, but I love to re-read my Agathas. I’m a huge re-reader in general, but I have such a soft spot for the “queen of crime.” (Check out my blog post on my favorite Agatha’s here!)

I was so excited for the movie when it released this fall and though I loved the casting and the sets were lovely it couldn’t hold a candle to the book (Ok, I know I’m biased but Kenneth Branaugh was a bit too melodramatic for my taste. NOT Poirot.) (Don’t even get me started on those mustaches.) My recommendation: Definitely read the book and if you’re dying to see some Agatha on the screen, seek out anything with David Suchet. (Faves that spring to mind are “Five Little Pigs” and “The Hollow.”)

Book I Got for Christmas That I’m Most Excited to Read: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. I love His Dark Materials and obviously I’ve always needed more of Lyra Belacqua. Can’t wait to see how it is (also, it’s the first book of a new trilogy! Exciting!).

And in conclusion, I just wanted to add that 2017 was the year of my own first novel’s release and as such it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

 

And now the big question, what books are we most excited for in 2018????

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Read Recently…

I thought it would be fun to (occasionally?) post a few recent reads… sort of like a mini review? (We’ll see how this goes?)

Anyway, two recent faves were:

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore: Imagine a choose-your-own-adventure where instead of choosing you can see all (most) of the choices. This is the movie Sliding Doors (which side note is an old favorite) times two… or five? In short, Jane, a somewhat aimless umbrella-maker comes to the famous Tu Reviens with her friend and former tutor to spend the weekend. While there she explores the very different ways her life can go. I loved that the story functioned in every iteration (was interesting, engaging, and “believable” – ok this is a story that in one iteration features space pirates so believability is sort of… relative, but still) but at the same time is so informed by all the iterations. In addition to exploring Jane’s personal future and destiny, this story asked interesting questions about anyone’s life choices and the road(s) not taken. Really interesting and one of the most different books I’ve read this year.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan: What can I say about a Pulitzer-prize winning author that hasn’t already been said elsewhere (and better), but I really enjoyed this book. It was so different from A Visit from the Goon Squad, not only in subject matter but in form and scope and although VERY different it reminded me just a little of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (another old favorite). Probably because it too is set in Brooklyn, features a largely father-less family, and a war (WWII in this case) plays a prominent role in the plot. I also enjoyed Anna’s quest to become a diver in a world that was just barely letting women into the workplace (and only because the men were at war). I found both Dexter (a small-time gangster) and Eddie (Anna’s father who vanished when she was 14) to be interesting perspectives as well.

These two books could not be more different but I really enjoyed them both. Highly recommend.

Coming soon: recommendations for the year? Old favorites everyone should read? All of the above?

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2018 Reading Challenge?

I found this on Pinterest and I kind of love it. (Full credit to: www.mommymannegren.com) Dreamscape might maybe fit a few of these categories, just saying ;-). Regardless, wishing that your 2018 be a good year for reading!!!!

2018 Reading List

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