Do You Like Newsletters?

So I’ve decided to launch something new – an email newsletter! In this newsletter, I plan to share some of my musings and doings besides what I write about on this blog.

What am I currently reading? What am I currently writing? What other fascinating stuff am I up to? You want to know, don’t you? Don’t you…?

Okay, so forgive me for that previous paragraph of begging. Seriously, though, I know that many readers and followers like to get inside information about what’s going on in the lives of the folks they stalk enjoy following online. I can say this with reasonable confidence because I, as a stalker reader and follower, enjoy receiving e-newsletters that share more in-depth insights that what might be on a blog or social media. Continue reading

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Second Chance Again

Just a short post, as it’s New Year’s Eve.

It’s that time when we reflect on the past year. We celebrate the victories, we mourn the losses, we meditate on the regrets, and we decide to do better next year. That’s the great thing about a new year – it’s a chance to start again, to go for those things that we missed last year. It’s a second chance again.

I didn’t hit the majority of my reading and writing goals for 2014. But that’s okay, because I still accomplished a lot, and I learned even more. I’m excited about taking what I’ve learned this past year – learned from both successes and failures – and applying it to this new year. It’s my second chance again.

Happy new year, everybody!

Writing Updates – February 2014

Happy new year! It’s still early enough in the year to say that, right? It usually takes me till about the end of January to stop dating things with the previous year.

For 2014, I set some reading goals and some writing goals. I set goals for last year, too, and missed just about all of them. But that’s okay, because at least I know where I stand right now. Without goals, it’s hard to measure your progress or results. I know what I did and didn’t do that caused me to come up short. So this I know what to change.

I’m still editing the first book of The Light-Whisperers of Kalevala fantasy trilogy. The critique group I’m part of has been of invaluable help in getting some pretty rough scenes into something readable. My goal for this year is to finish a full revision/rewrite of the book, incorporating the feedback from my critique partners for the parts that they have read.

I’m on the home stretch with the first draft of book two. This past year I discovered that I am a first draft lover. I’ll go out of my way to start something new just to avoid the rewriting process of something I’ve finished. This is not very productive if I ever want to get something published and have it be of decent quality. So that’s where goals (and discipline) come in.

In other news, I started a second job at the end of 2013. I’m working for a social media company called Helps2, writing and managing content for the Facebook and Twitter accounts of several of their clients. I love writing and I love social media, and this job has been a fun opportunity. And I’m basically getting paid to write. Always nice!

And talking of goals, I’m also planning on attending two writers conferences this year. One is the James River Writers conference in October – it’s pretty local for me, but I’ve managed to miss it for one reason or another the past couple of years. Not this year!

The other conference is not so local – it’s in Iceland. As most of my regular readers know, I love Nordic things, and I’ve been to Iceland before. This writers retreat in like a dream opportunity, and it’s the first of its kind. It’s a big (but worthwhile) expense of time and money to commit to going, and so I launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to help me get there. Please consider donating if you can, and please share the page. Much appreciated!

So that’s how my 2014 is shaping up so far. Anyone else set any reading or writing goals for this year?

Reading Goals for 2014

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, one of my goals/resolutions for 2014 is to read more. I had a very modest reading goal last year, and I didn’t come close to hitting it.

Since leaders are readers and writers are readers, I really can’t call myself a leader (of myself, let alone anyone else) if I don’t read. Nor can I expect my writing craft to improve tremendously if I don’t read other well-written works.

To be fair – lest you think I spent all of 2013 rotting my mind with nothing but trashy TV or lolcat pictures – I have been constantly reading content online. Articles and blog posts about writing, social media, linguistics, daily devotionals, travel – I read more than a few posts every day. But it’s still not the same as reading books.

So here’s a list of some of the books that I intend to read – or re-read – in 2014.

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

I’ve followed her writing blog for some time, and found valuable tips to help me improve my storytelling. I’m sure her book will help me even more.

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert

Having loved the Little House on the Prairie books, this book about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose looks like a fascinating read.

Imagine Big by Terri Savelle Foy

I read this book last year, and I want to read it again. In fact, this is a book that could – and perhaps should – be read every year. It’s about using the power of imagination to set goals and create the life you want for yourself.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Another re-read for me, and another “success” book that is really just about living a productive and fulfilled life. Who doesn’t want that?

East by Edith Pattou

I found this book at a used bookstore some time ago, and it’s been sitting unread on my shelf for ages (along with too many other books). Time to get caught up on those.

The Legend of the Ice People – Spellbound by Margit Sandemo

Another on-the-shelf-too-long unread book. A friend sent it to me, so I will be (finally) reading it this year in her honor.

Prince by Bonnie Watson

I read the first book in this trilogy last year, so now I want to read the next one. Hopefully I’ll finish it just in time for her to publish book three.

Bone series by Jeff Smith

I’ve mentioned this series before, so it’s another re-read. It’s been several years since I’ve read all nine graphic novels in order, plus the prequel stories (yes, graphic novels count as reading). This epic saga is a masterful combination of humor, high fantasy, and hand-drawn art.

I intend to read far more than just these few books this year, but I didn’t want to make this blog post any longer. If you want to see how I’m progressing with my reading goals, you can find me on Goodreads.

What are you reading this year?

ABC Book Challenge

I borrowed this idea from The Magic Violinist, a great writer and blogger who is always giving me good ideas.

This challenge is to list books that I’ve read, one for every letter of the alphabet (skipping words like A and The in the titles, of course). My list is a little bit of everything – fantasy, children’s books, classics, non-fiction. So here goes!

AAleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse

BBeezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

CThe Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

DThe Devil’s Horse: Tales from the Kalevala by Keith Bosley

EEchoes of Mercy by Nancy Alcorn

FThe Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

GThe Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

HThe Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

IThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

JJust-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

KKirsten’s Surprise by Janet Shaw

L Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

MMara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

NNight Mare by Piers Anthony

OOnce Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman

PPiercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti

QQ-Squared by Peter David

RRebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

SThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

TThe Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

UUltima Thule: Explorers and Natives in the Polar North by Jean Malaurie

VVoyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

WWisdom by Bonnie Watson

XX-Men: Empire’s End by Diane Duane

YYertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss

Z Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife

What about your reading list? Have you hit every letter yet? Please share!

The ABCs of My Awesome Life

I totally stole this idea from The Magic Violinist. She has a great blog, so pop on over there (after you’re done reading my blog, of course!) So in this post, I reveal many deep secrets (or not) about myself, in alphabetical order.

Ambition: My ambition is to be a successful author. What makes a successful author? Having ten loyal fans? A hundred? A bazillion? Dunno. But I’ll start my journey of success by getting published first (hopefully by the end of this year/early next year).

Bad Habits: Sleeping late. Personally, I don’t consider this a bad habit unto itself—except that the world is run by morning people, so I wind up looking lazy by trying to sleep in till a decent hour.

Celebrity Crushes: That guy who played Hawkeye in Avengers. And the guy who played Thor. I don’t keep up with celebrities, and I’m too lazy to go look up the actors’ names. But who doesn’t like hunky superheroes?

Drink: XS Energy drink. I’m not an energy drink fan, really, but since XS is more of a nutritional drink than a standard “energy” drink, I’m all about it. Lots of flavors to chose from, too. Which is good, because I like variety.

Education: Always. I have a college degree, but I don’t think that education should be defined by the number of schools attended or the certificates on your wall. If you read, or connect with new people, or basically live life with your eyes open, you’re learning (or you should be). My education is increasing every day.

Food: Chocolate. Peanut butter. Chocolate and peanut butter. I also like fresh fruits and veggies, and hotdogs that have been cooked over an open fire and are all crispy and burnt on the outside.

Guilty Pleasures: I’ve never been quite sure what this is supposed to mean. I try not to do things that I will feel guilty about later. With the possible exception of eating cheese or ice cream. I’m lactose intolerant, but man, I love dairy. Sigh.

Hometown: Richmond, VA

Ice Cream: Love it. Except, as I just mentioned, I can’t have diary. Sigh.

Jonesing for: Ice cream, since I’ve been writing about it. Sigh.

Kryptonite: Bunny rabbits. And music. If I’m out in public and a song I like is on the muzak, then I’m pretty much ignoring my shopping or my lunch partner till it’s over.

Lookalike: Periodically, I’m informed by random strangers that I look like Meg Ryan. And a friend recently said that I look like Eivør, which I find flattering beyond words. When I grow up, I want to be as pretty and talented and famous as Eivør is…

Movies: Lord of the Rings (all of Peter Jackson’s thus far to date). Star Wars (all of them, but mostly the original trilogy). Miss Potter. Clue (y’know, that 80s movie based on the board game). August Rush. Most anything starring Will Smith.

Nickname: Don’t really have one. Some people call me “Gracie,” which is fine.

Obsessions: Music. Writing fantasy stories. And those forbidden dairy products. Sigh.

Perfume: I don’t use it.

Quirk: Which one? I’m rather quirky (aren’t all writers, really?) I’d be happy to live every day and go everywhere in sock feet. I’m borderline neurotic about checking my notifications on my phone, Facebook, etc. It bugs me to have a bunch of little icons or red flags in my notification bar.

Regret: I don’t do regrets. Sure, there are some things in the past that I wish I’d done or hadn’t done. But since I can’t change the past, I’d rather devote my mental energy to making sure that I don’t do or neglect to do something in the future.

Starbucks: Nope. I don’t like coffee. And there are cheaper places to get tea or giant cookies.

The Last Book You Read: I’m always reading 2-4 books at once. Some recent reads I enjoyed: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Wisdom by Bonnie Watson. You can always stalk me on Goodreads if you really want to know what I’m currently reading.

Vacation: I went to England and Norway a couple of years ago, and I’m hoping to go to Iceland later this year.

Wine: Don’t drink it much—maybe one glass a month. I prefer red over white.

X: X-Men. I spent my college years and most of my 20s reading nearly every X-Men comic in existence.

Years: I’ve lived a few, and I intend to live many many more.

Zen: I guess this means what brings me bliss or peace? Music. Long walks in the woods. Scratching my rabbits’ ears.