February 10, 2018

NaNoWriSat

You're probably familiar with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Every November, authors attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I attempted NaNoWriMo last year but didn't hit the 50K mark. However, in examining my writing habits that month, I found I wrote a lot more during the weekends than the weekdays, particularly on Saturdays. This makes sense since I work a full-time job during the week. It led to me thinking how I can incorporate a realistic yet productive writing routine into my hectic life.

Which led me to NaNoWriSat: National Novel Writing Saturdays! The name is clearly borrowed from NaNoWriMo, and it's not a national phenomena (yet), but the idea is that, within a year, I should be able to write a 50,000 word novel by writing only on Saturdays. That's about 1,000 words every Saturday, which is certainly a realistic goal for me.

Considering how little I wrote last year before NaNoWriMo, I think this will be a good way for me to continue to produce more new books on a regular basis. I'm getting a late start to NaNoWriSat this year because it's already February, so I'd better go catch up!

January 20, 2018

Between awake and asleep

There is a state between being fully awake and being asleep that kicks my brain into overdrive. It happens at night when I'm in bed but haven't fallen asleep yet or first thing in the morning when I've just woken up. If I'm thinking about a story at that time, I'll come up with lots of great ideas for it. If I'm thinking about work (which is more often the case), it helps me figure out what I need to do for the projects I'm working on.

What is it about this state of mind that fuels creativity? As it turns out, when I did some research on it, there is a word for the period between awake and asleep: hypnagogia. It's also known that hypnagogia is wonderful for creativity. From my experience, it's true that during this state, my mind wanders all over the place, making associations that I wouldn't normally make when I'm fully awake. I think those associations are more freely made because whatever mental filters I have in place during the day have come down, allowing me to think along unconventional lines. What also facilitates creativity during hypnagogia is just the lack of distractions. During the day, I'm constantly aware of my surroundings and trying to multi-task. But when I'm falling asleep or just waking up, the environment is quiet. The reason why I believe distractions play a part is that if I'm falling asleep when there are things happening around me, I don't enter that creative state. I just go from awake to asleep or vice versa.

Here is an article that teaches you how to enter hypnagogia. I haven't tried the suggestions yet, but I prefer doing it the old-fashioned way. Just give me more opportunities to sleep!

January 6, 2018

Favorite reads of 2017

It's time again to reveal my favorite reads of last year! These were the top ten books I read in 2017.


1. Gemina - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristof
Illuminae was my favorite read of 2016, and its sequel lived up to the high expectations I had for it. Gemina was every bit as good as its predecessor. Despite featuring a new set of protagonists, the novel's blend of action, sci-fi story line, and unique format made it my favorite read of 2017. I can't wait for the third book in the series!

2. Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell
Last year, I finished reading the remaining Rainbow Rowell books that I hadn't already read, and Fangirl was my favorite. This book shows why Ms. Rowell has become one of my favorite authors. I love the way she writes characters and dialogue. I wish I had half her skills. Even a quarter would be nice. She can turn mundane activities into the most interesting stories in the world. I can't believe it took me so long to finally read her books. Don't make the same mistake that I did. Read Rainbow Rowell now!

3. Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor is another author whose writing skills I can't hope to ever match. The first chapter of Strange the Dreamer read like poetry, and the rest of the book was just as good. I loved the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, and this book is just as good, if not better! This is another book where I can't wait for the sequel.

 4. Heartless - Marissa Meyer
With the Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer showed that she can write great fairy tale re-tellings. Heartless continues the trend with the origin story of the Queen of Hearts from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The way Meyer sprinkled Lewis Carroll's work into her own was masterful. There's also some Edgar Allan Poe added for good measure. I'll never look at the ill-tempered queen the same way again.

5. Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel
Giant robot meets unconventional storytelling format? Where do I sign up? I found the plot of Sleeping Giants to be engaging and fast-moving, and I was surprised by how much I was drawn toward the characters, given how little the book describes them.

6. Eliza and Her Monsters - Francesca Zappia
Interestingly, this is the second YA story about fandoms (after Fangirl) on my list this year. I had a feeling I was going to like this book from the description and reviews, and it sucked me right in from the beginning. The writing was engaging, and the characters were interesting. The last part of the book was a bit bumpy for me, but overall, I really liked it. I need to check out more of Francesca Zappia's writing.

7. Traitor's Masque - Kenley Davidson
This retelling of the Cinderella story mixes fairy tale with political intrigue. Sabotaging the crown is a common enough trope in fantasy books, but I haven't seen it applied to the Cinderella story. Overall, the author pulls it off well. The characters are flawed but sympathetic, and the prose flows . If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, this novel is for you.

8. The Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson
Last year, I read the Mistborn series and loved it. In 2017, I started the second Mistborn series. I have to give Brandon Sanderson credit for having the vision to write a sequel that takes place hundreds of years after its predecessor, where the world has progressed to a very different state. The characters from the first Mistborn series have passed into history as religious icons, but allomancy and feruchemy are still alive and well. The protagonist of The Alloy of Law, Waxillium Ladrian, reminds me of Kelsier, and Wayne and Marasi are likeable companions. If there's any complaint about this book, it's that I wished Marasi played a bigger role rather than just as a damsel in distress. I'm hoping this will be addressed in the later books of the series, which I definitely plan to read.

9. Waking Gods - Sylvain Neuvel
The second book of The Themis Files was almost as good as the first. Waking Gods was bleaker than Sleeping Giants, which didn't suit my taste, and some of the wonder of giant robots wore off after for me, but this was still a really good book. I recommend The Themis Files to fans of sci-fi and giant robots.

10. Half a King - Joe Abercrombie
This was the first Joe Abercrombie book I've read, and it convinced me that I need to read more of his books. Half a King was fast paced, with an action-filled plot, complete with mysteries and twists. The events of this book would have spanned over 500 pages or multiple books in the hands of other fantasy authors, and I'm very pleased that Mr. Abercrombie trimmed the unnecessary fat to produce an engaging story in 300+ pages.

December 30, 2017

What I read in 2017

It's the end of the year and time to review the books I read in 2017. This year, I read 84 books, slightly up from the 82 books last year.

The average rating for the books I read was 4.05 stars per book, broken down as follows:
  • 5 stars - 26 books
  • 4 stars - 36 books 
  • 3 stars - 22 books 

The 4.05 stars average was an increase from the 3.93 stars per book in 2016.

In January, I said that I would make a conscious effort to tackle the books I already own on my TBR list. My goal was to read at least two books that I already own each month for a total of 24 this year, and I surpassed that goal with 33 books read.

The ratings for these books were distributed as follows:
  • 5 stars - 7 books 
  • 4 stars - 16 books 
  • 3 stars - 10 books 

The average rating for my TBR books was 3.91, a bit lower than the ratings for the other books I read this year. Perhaps there was a good reason I had put off reading them. :-) Nevertheless, I need to continue chipping away at my TBR, so I plan to continue reading at least two books that I already own each month throughout 2018 as well.

In my next post, I’ll list my top ten favorite books of 2017. Stay tuned!

December 16, 2017

2017 holiday sale

Christmas is just around the corner, which means it's time to have a holiday sale! Between now and the New Year, every one of my e-books will be on sale for 99 cents or FREE on Amazon! There's no better stocking stuffer than the gift of reading. Get them before prices go back up!

99 CENTS:
All That
Remains of Me
Beyond
New Eden
Gifted Believe Me

Transmissions In the Hands of
Children
Keep Your
Enemies Close
George and the
Galactic Games

A House in
the Woods
Protect Search Rescue


FREE:
Drive Through a
Tangled Wood
Celestial Spectral Tales

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

December 2, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 recap

After debating whether to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I decided to take the plunge. Unlike the past three years, however, I didn't win this year. From the outset, I wasn't on pace to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

Here's my daily chart from this year.


I ended up with only about 30,000 words written. Was I disappointed not to have won? Yes, a little bit. Keeping my NaNoWriMo winning streak intact would've been nice, but I'm definitely glad I participated this year. Here are some reasons why:
  1. November was still the most productive writing month I've had by far this year. 
  2. I re-established a writing habit, which I had lost at the beginning of the year when my day job became too hectic. (I can only hope I'll be able to continue it now that November is over.)
  3. I'm halfway through the first draft of a promising new novel.
Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I want to finish drafting my WIP because the story holds a lot of potential so far. Also, it'd be nice to publish something again. And looking ahead, I know that even if I get deluged with work after this novel is completed, I have next year's NaNoWriMo to kick me back into gear.

November 18, 2017

DC Icons

I just finished reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, and it was great! At the end of the book, there was a teaser for Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu. Whoa, I didn't know there were more books in the series!

 

Yup, as it turns out, these books are part of the DC Icons series. I must've been living under a rock when it was announced, but I think it's a great idea to have popular YA authors write superhero stories that take place when the protagonists are teenagers. Warbringer was a good story (albeit non-canon IMHO) that left me wanting more, so I can't wait to read the rest of the DC Icons books.

In case you're wondering, the DC Icons series consists of four books (so far):
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
  • Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu - to be released in early 2018
  • Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas - expected to be released later in 2018
  • An untitled Superman book by Matt de la Pena - publication in 2019