Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Quiz: What Does Your Birthday Predict About You?

I agree with most of this.

Your Birthday Predicts You're Sensitive

Ever since you were born, you've always been able to cooperate.
You enjoy supporting and being inspired by others. You appreciate the dynamic of a group.

Getting along with others is essential to you. You are both fair and well mannered.
You are very intuitive and easily affected by other people. Sometimes you are too delicate.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

5 Reasons Not to Describe Your Character in a Mirror

Still more articles on "rules" of writing, and more reasons to break these so-called "rules."  And another list of five "rules" 🙂 This one is from Helping Writers Become Authors:

Video Transcript:

Today, I want to discuss a simple but important “don’t” of how to describe your character. And that’s simply this: Don’t describe your character by having him look at himself in a mirror. On the surface, this may seem like a great way to give your narrating character a reason to describe himself, while staying in POV. But it’s really not, and here are five good reasons why:
1. More often than not, it’s going to make your character sound really self-obsessed. How many of us get up in the morning, look into the mirror, and take note of our hair and eye color, much less study every minute feature?
2. Frankly, this kind of character description is boring. Most readers simply do not care that your protagonist has ivory skin, big blue eyes, and gobs of silky black hair. They’re going to appreciate a few physical details, but what they really care about is the character’s personality.
3. The reason it’s boring is that it’s often nothing more than an info dump. Usually, it ends up as a grocery list of descriptors that fails to add any kind characterization or plot advancement.
4. It’s contrived. To anybody who’s got his thinking cap on, it’s going to pretty obvious that the only reason the character is looking in the mirror and describing herself is so that you, the author, will have an excuse to spout off this misplaced description.
5. Finally, even if some of your readers fail to notice this clumsy technique, you can bet you’re going to magnificently annoy any and all fellow authors who happen to be reading your book—because they will notice.
This seems to go with what I quoted in this post
Avoid the Mirror Trick
It seems like an easy answer to simply have the character look in a mirror and describe what they see, but it’s been done so many times (and done badly) that agents and readers cringe when they see it. If the novel happens to start this way, it’s likely a kiss of death unless there's a unique twist to it. 
Avoid the “Let Me Introduce Myself” Cliché 
Another common cliché is having the character introduce themselves and describe what they look like. For example, “I’m your average gal, five foot four, brown hair, blue eyes” or “I’m nothing special, six foot, black cropped hair and brown almond eyes.” This was quite popular a while back, but these days, it usually comes across feeling stale.

And the line from my story  I quoted in that same post:
... I hate the way I look. Curly dark hair, dull-looking brown eyes and teeth sticking out in all directions…an overbite. It should come as no surprise that my dentist said I need braces. ...

I did not say in my story that he was looking in a mirror, rather I am trying to imply that he is describing himself from what he knows, and doesn't need a mirror to do it. In my previous post, I said how the character's teeth are important to the story so it was necessary to mention them. I hate to be repetitive, but rules are meant to be broken.

At the end of the post, the blogger asks:

Tell me your opinion: How much character description do you like to include in stories?

I would say as much as necessary without getting boring and sounding like a so-clled "info dump." Again, the teeth are important to the story, so it is necessary to include them in the description.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Are Rules Necessary in Writing?


There are so many rules that writers are given to follow to make their writing good. However, are they really necessary? Are there any that can be broken? And what happened to creative freedom?! 
Let’s take a look at some of the rules of writing and examine whether or not they are really necessary.
Keep sentences short and language plain
Short sentences and simple language certainly have their place. But this rule can’t apply to every piece of writing, fiction or otherwise. The better thing for writers to do is always keep their reader in mind. Get to know your intended audience. If you do, you’ll know what they can handle and if you want to use more academic or complicated language then as long as you feel confident in your reader, it’s no problem.
Don’t overwrite
Writing too elaborately can be off-putting. However, some pieces of writing are exquisitely written precisely because of the beautifully descriptive, ornate and arresting imagery that the author uses. Descriptive writing has its place - just like any other kind of writing, if it is done well then it works!
Write every day
Writers are often told that to improve they should write every day. However, this just isn’t possible for some writers, and they shouldn’t feel any less of one because they don’t. You have to write the way that works for you, and as long as you are happy with the pace of your progress, then that’s all that really matters.
Set and stick to your goals
Writers do need to set goals. Without them, it is too easy to get distracted and never get anything done. How and what those goals are is entirely up to the individual though.
Show don’t tell
Show don’t tell has been a writing rule that appears time and time again. However if taken too literally it can leave some writers painstakingly trying to remove every instance where they tell the reader something - to the detriment of their work. Sometimes telling is necessary, more economical and it just works. Writers should be aware of that while also remembering that if they ONLY tell their readers the story, it may be difficult for them to become fully immersed in the world and characters they are trying to make come alive on the page. 
Read as much as possible
This is a no brainer. Reading is the elixir of life for writers and is the best way to learn and improve. So read as much as you can!
Write what you know
Another common rule for writers is to only write what they know. However, taken too literally and this can stifle a writers creativity, leading them to believe that unless they have had specific experiences or encounters, they shouldn’t write about them. The beauty of being a writer is that you can use your imagination, and besides, you can research almost anything these days. So don’t write about what you know, write about what you love instead!
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to enjoy your writing; otherwise, you are kind of missing the point. So if you feel the writing rules are stopping you from writing the way that makes you happiest, then perhaps those rules should be broken after all. 
What do you think? Do you believe these rules are still necessary? Are there any other writing rules that you think should be broken? Let us know.

It seems weird to see this article after writing several posts in which the idea of breaking rules when writing has come up. In life in general, rules were meant to be broken. This is also true in writing, as this article says. 

Since resurrecting my creative writing group at work and joining the I have been trying to write more since I have been slow at doing so. I invited the former owner of the local bar who self-published her memoir to join the group and she said this is the kick she needed to get writing again. I've bene trying to write more, but as the article says, it isn't possible for some to do and they shouldn't feel like less of a writer for not doing so. Whenever someone at work said they have been working on their writing, I would sometimes feel guilty about not doing as much on mine. But now I don't feel as guilty, because I have to do what I can when I can. It's all bout how each person does it for themselves. Though when others say how much and how often they have been working on their writing, it can give me the kick I need to get working on mine even more. This is a way to encourage one another to write more, but still do as much as each person can each time.

Writing about what you know--I have heard that one many times and have at times imagined the scenario of others reading what I write and saying, "This is about me!" This has been used as a gag on TV shows and I have wondered how often it happens in real-life, and how angry a real person gets when seeing such a thing. When I worked on my memoir, I chose not to use real names of others involved, including my own family, out of fear of lawsuits or even just general anger, should the book ever see the light of day in print. When writing my diary novel, I mostly drew from what I remembered of having braces in the 1980s, but added some things that didn't happen to me, like getting sick on Thanksgiving or playing the main characters in a  school play. The first one just dawned onto me. The second idea seemed typical of books and movies in which the popular kids try to get everything and are angered when the nerds get it instead. The nerdy kids in my books get the leads in the play, something the head mean girl had hoped she'd get. She then gets angry over being cast as a servant. This sort of scenario my not have happened to me personally, but it seemed typical of the time period in which the story is being set.

I have been reading as much as possible and tend to read several books in on month. So I've got that one covered🙂

What rules have you followed and broken?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

New Story on Wattpad

I had not been using my Wattpad account much or been reading other works on the site, but today I decided to add another piece I had written. Click here to see.

The Princess of Prozac

As for my class at work, we've only had one meeting so far this new year. It's on alternating weeks with another mentor's new meditation class (which began last week o Monday), and since yesterday was a holiday, my next class will not be until February. But that gives me plenty of time to decide what exercise to use next.  The first one I did since bringing back the class was drawing words out of a bag and using each of them in a piece. This was quite fun, and those who participated enjoyed it. It was amazing how what words each person drew and how they worked them into a piece. Perhaps I will share some of the ones I did later, after looking them over and polishing them a bit.

Some I used in the past were retelling a tale, which was the idea used on my story just published on Wattpad. I may use this one again in upcoming classes. Another idea that just came to mind is using pictures the same way as we used words to write a piece. I started gathering images from magazines to prepare for this one. Anther idea I liked using when I first held the class is talking a sentence from a book to use as the first line of a story or poem. I got many of these ideas from this book (though I have an earlier edition). Others I have seen from this book include one called "Cooking with the Dictionary," using words randomly found in a dictionary to write a piece. Kind of the same idea as the word grab bag. And here's one I want to try again: writing letters that won't be sent. I wrote about this on my blog in 2016, when I first ran the class. So many great ideas to try. Any ideas you may have, I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

5 Challenges to Writing a Diary Novel

I know that rules are not meant to be hard-and-fast, as I said in another post this month, but I still can't help wondering how, if at all, I have "violated" some of the "rules" presented by different guides to writing. Just a day or two ago, I came across this one on writing a diary novel:

5 Challenges to Writing a Diary Novel

  1. Readers must suspend disbelief. 
Most people don’t keep diaries. Those that do don’t often write extensive, frequent entries. And chances are, in order to tell a good story, your protagonist needs to do just that. We’re talking full scenes with description and dialogue instead of telling briefly what happened.
Your job as a writer is to make both the voice and the story so engaging that the reader doesn’t stop to wonder whether the character would really take the time to write all of this in her diary.
  1. It’s difficult to include backstory and explanations. 
If a character is writing a diary, she is essentially writing something for herself. Therefore, why would she need to tell herself about something that happened in the past? Instead she might write, “going to Grandma’s was just as bad as last time,” without going into detail about what happened last time. After all, she already knows. Perhaps she even wrote about it previously in her journal.
Your character also might not take the time to fully describe people or places. Why would she bother to describe to her diary her mother’s appearance, or what her bedroom looks like?
Your job as a writer is to find a way to tell the story vividly while still staying true to the diary format. One way to get around this challenge is to write an epistolary novel (a novel in letters) instead of a diary novel. If your protagonist is writing to another person, it makes sense that she would do more explaining and describing.
One book that finds a way to overcome this challenge is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s essentially a diary-style novel, but the entries are written as letters that the narrator sends to an anonymous person. Here’s the very first page:
Dear friend,
I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don’t want you to find me. I didn’t enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.
So that’s one way to do it.
  1. Grammar and style gets tricky. 
If your protagonist is a teen or preteen, are you going to write the way a kid that age would actuallywrite? Yes and no. You don’t want to include all the spelling and grammatical mistakes your protagonist would likely make in real life because that would make for annoying reading. Instead, you’re going to write using the rules of the English language and find other ways (word choice, sentence style, content, etc.) to make the diary seem realistic.
You want to indent your paragraphs and use quotation marks for dialogue. You don’t want to use ten exclamation points even though that’s what a real teenager writing in a real diary might do. In the same way that you shouldn’t write dialogue exactly the way people speak (with all the “ums” and “likes”) you also don’t need the entries to be exactly the way your character would write them.  After all, this is a work of fiction.  You’re not trying to create an accurate representation a teenager’s diary; you’re simply using the diary as a device to tell a story.
There are plenty of ways to make the diary feel real without resorting to misspelled words, all-caps, and ovelry-exuberant punctuation.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is scattered throughout with cartoons that have been drawn by the narrator and look like they have been taped into the book.  In Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, the narrator, teenage movie buff and aspiring director Greg Gaines, writes out scenes of his life as if they are screenplays. In this way, Alexie and Andrews give their books a unique “diary feel” without breaking grammar rules.
  1. Tense can get tricky.   
When you’re writing a diary novel, you have to think about when your character is sitting down to write these entries. Is she writing about what happened that day… or yesterday? Is she writing once a week about the whole week? She might be feeling a certain way right now (present tense) about something that happened yesterday (past tense) or about something that’s going to happen tomorrow (future tense).
This challenge isn’t too hard to manage, but what if you want your character to be more reflective about her experiences; what if you want her to be making some realizations that she might not make in the moment? Or, what if it’s unrealistic that your character would have been chronicling things on a day to day basis? Maybe she didn’t have time.  Maybe she didn’t realize until after the fact that something big and important was happening to her. Maybe, instead of writing diary entries, she could instead be looking back from a certain vantage point and writing about an important time in her life.
Of course, if you’re writing YA or Middle Grade, the narrator in this case should still be young and looking back on something that happened fairly recently. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger andWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart both do this. In The Catcher and Rye, for example, Holden is writing an account of the recent past: “I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy.”
This can be a good alternative to the diary novel.
5.  A diary novel lends itself to telling instead of showing. 
Think about how you might have written a diary entry as an angsty teen. Something like this, perhaps:
Oh my god, I HATE Linda right now. She is being such a BITCH!!!!!! She told EVERYBODY at the bus stop I wasn’t wearing deodorant, and they all laughed at me and called me a stinky pig. I’m seriously not talking to her anymore. She SUUUUCKS and is officially no longer my friend!!!!!!!!
First of all, I don’t think I’d want to read a whole book like this, riddled with excessive explanation points and all-caps.  Secondly, in most books, this would be a scene, right? We’d be at the bus stop with Linda and the protagonist. We’d get a little description of the other kids. We’d get the dialogue of what was said. We’d be SHOWN the bitchiness of Linda instead of being TOLD about it. Although it’s fine to have some telling in a diary novel, you really have to include scenes and dialogue.

When writing a diary novel, you have to continually walk the line of making it seem like a diary, yet making it an engaging story.  Not an easy thing to do.

So, have I been doing it the "right" way or is the way I have been doing it "wrong"? Again, rules will are meant to be broken, and the above guidelines are just that--guidelines. I found myself using past tense, but at one point using the present. I don't know if that was intended, rather I just think I made a typo 🙂  Someone from the writing group I have been attending pointed out that a shift in tense can be distracting. Upon reading this, I decided just to change it all to the past tense, since that was how I'd begun the whole story. 
Many times I have been told to "show, not tell." And I have done my best to include scenes and dialogue. And I have tried to avoid using improper grammar, even to imply that kids are talking that way.
And if someone were to insist that I'm not doing a "diary" novel, but a general "epistolary" one, I would be fine with that. I wanted to try the epistolary format, and this was how I chose to do it. Again, no rule for writing is ever hard-and-fast. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

5 Justifications For Having More than 30 Books in Your House


Are you ready to spark some joy? Then come along as I give you the perfect response to anyone in your life who has been watching that Marie Kondo Netflix show “Tidying Up and Losing Your Soul By Giving Away All Your Books.”
I’m pretty sure that’s the title, based on the Internet. My social media feed has exploded with memes mocking this preposterous notion:
While what Kondo actually said is that she keeps her personal book limit to around 30 volumes, if you’re a booklover seeking justifications for keeping a significantly larger dragon horde of literary treasures personal library, you’ve come to the right place.
Full disclosure: my name is Amy Green, and I work for a book publisher. I love authors and books and being gracefully disorganized. (That is totally a thing. It means the chaos around you is reflective of a life so full and rich that it defies structure…and dusting.)
To be fair to Marie Kondo, I can imagine a scenario where 30 volumes might possibly be a good standard. Like if you have a fully-loaded Kindle. And live in a tiny house. Next door to a library.
Otherwise, if you’re feeling guilty for double-stacking your shelves, I have a response for you. Since Kondo created a whole method of cleaning based on a rearrangement of her name, the KonMari method, allow me to present the GreAm method. (Slightly less catchy, but whatever.)
It is rigorous—you must be willing to defend your right to a full bookshelf with logic and determination. It is holistic—in that I’m basically telling you to keep your whole library. And it is aimed at inner peace—because there’s nothing as peaceful as being surrounded by books. So let’s begin.
One: Books spark joy.
Am I using the organizational maven’s own mantra against her? Why yes, I am.
Do you know what brings me joy? BOOKS! Adventures to times and places I’ll never visit in the “real” world, deep journeys into hope and heartbreak, thrilling escapades where someone won’t get out alive but I probably will, somewhat-confusing classics I had to read for school that made me a better person even if I didn’t appreciate them at the time…I love them all.
I mean, it’s great to have a few travel mementos that bring a smile every time you look at them, don’t get me wrong, but books contain whole worlds—the lives and journeys of beloved friends we’ve admired and empathized and learned from. The joy quotient is just through the roof. Libraries and bookstores spark so much joy that they might as well be actual infernos of happiness. (Is that a little Fahrenheit 451? Maybe. But you get the idea.) And if your house just happens to resemble a library or bookstore…all the better!
Two: Books are super tidy.
A book is the tidiest object I can possibly imagine. Think of those crisp white margins, the uniform edges, the perfectly straight lines of text.
Also, the KonMari method is apparently really big on folding things. There is a precise method for how to fold tea towels and fitted sheets and the jingle-bell-bedecked Christmas socks you only wear once a year (hey, it’s all about the joy, don’t judge). Thankfully, your personal library is all about folding. Book terminology time: a “signature” is a group of pages (in multiples of four) folded together and glued to the spine of an average paperback book. Books are essentially collections of tiny, neat little folds. See? Tidy in the extreme.
Three: Books are not clutter. informs us that clutter is “a disorderly heap or assemblage.” I have a very simple solution. We can create a piece of furniture, similar to a display case, that allows you to line up your books in an orderly fashion.
We’ll call it a “bookshelf.” No clutter? No problem.
(And those escapees that end up stacked and piled around your house? Those are educational and aesthetic home décor accessories. Clearly.)
Four: Kids’ books would have to be included in that total.
Imagine you have the American household average of 2 children. This, out of 30 books, would give them approximately an allotment of 15 books from the total, so 7.5 books each. (Sorry, but this is the math, people…be glad I didn’t use the real average of 2.3 children. We can pretend the .5 book is the bafflingly popular Goodnight Moon and leave it at that.) Please imagine reading the same 7.5 books to your toddler over and over and over until the words are ingrained in your head like an ancient liturgy and you have visited the triumphs and travails of the pirate/princess/anthropomorphic cuddly animal so often that they feel like a member of the family…
Wait. Actually, this is pretty much what happens to parents anyway, even if you have a mountain of books available for your little one, so I guess we can throw out this reason and move on to…
Four, Second Try: Marie Kondo has written multiple books.
Does this directly relate to why you can feel perfectly fine owning more than 30 books? No. But I’m throwing it in here for the sheer irony of it. I can’t determine the exact number of unique titles by Kondo because of translations and digests and journals, but there are at least 3 (10% of her household quota), with probably more to come. Is it unreasonable for an author who has made a living from the book industry to tell people to get rid of their books? Well…not technically, but it is a little amusing.
Five: Books can talk back.
One part of the KonMari method that some people find either freeing or really eccentric is the practice of thanking your belongings as you release them to a better place (like the Goodwill donation bin).
Hey, I talk to inanimate objects, mostly malfunctioning technology, all the time, I can get behind that. But books are made of words and therefore the only things that can respond to me. Like, when I yell at the character, “What do you think you’re doing?” it might take him a few chapters, but he usually tells me. And when I flip through the pages of a book to thank it for its service, inevitably I’ll notice that one hilarious or meaningful scene that always got to me…and start skimming…and then reading…and then I move the book out of the donation pile for good and it’s never going back, sorry, I just can’t do it.
If minimalism requires book-lite living, well…who really needs to be tidy, anyway?
I agree with all a lot of is said in this article. And now I don't feel so alone in how many unread books I have on my shelves. So many though that there is no room on the shelves and new books have to piled elsewhere in my tiny room. I have debated getting rid of some I have already read and don't plan on reading again, but just haven't initiative to do so. The more I buy, whether it's from a thrift store or by Amazon (I'd already spent one gift card, then received two more, on which I still have some money), it seems the more I ignore the ones at home. I try not to buy so many just to save space and money, hence the reason I tend to borrow more often, whether from the library or from the collection of books at work (no due date in this case). 

For the record, I was not familiar with Marie Kondo until I saw this article. And I have to admit getting rid of things seems hard for me to do. Though I did manage to find some things I wanted to take to Goodwill when I left the trailer park I had lived in for so long. And I also donated some of the books I'd already to a local thrift store, some to the center where I work and some to the library. I wrote about this in this post in 2016. In that post said, "I guess you can say I'm a book hoarder."

Right now, I'm deciding what to get get with the remaining balance on my Amazon cards. I also got a Best Buy card for my birthday and will now use that one for my printer ink. I'd looked at getting ink from Amazon, but now that I have a Best Buy gift card, it will be used for the ink. I'm looking to see what else  can get on Amazon, since it sells much more than books. I should be trying to find some new clothes, but I like to try then on first, so I probably won't get any on Amazon. If I had enough, I'd be going to Lane Bryant right now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Do I Look Like a Protagonist? Ways to Describe Your First Person Narrator

I just came across this blogpost on how to describe a narrator in a first-person story. I now am asking myself if I am going against what is said here:

Avoid the Mirror Trick
It seems like an easy answer to simply have the character look in a mirror and describe what they see, but it’s been done so many times (and done badly) that agents and readers cringe when they see it. If the novel happens to start this way, it’s likely a kiss of death unless there's a unique twist to it. 

Avoid the “Let Me Introduce Myself” Cliché 
Another common cliché is having the character introduce themselves and describe what they look like. For example, “I’m your average gal, five foot four, brown hair, blue eyes” or “I’m nothing special, six foot, black cropped hair and brown almond eyes.” This was quite popular a while back, but these days, it usually comes across feeling stale.

Here is part of one of the opening paragraphs from my story (which I have quoted on my blog previously):
... I hate the way I look. Curly dark hair, dull-looking brown eyes and teeth sticking out in all directions…an overbite. It should come as no surprise that my dentist said I need braces. ...

Does this appear to doing what the post says not to do? I know that no rules are hard-and-fast, but I still want to to see what others think. Those who've read my manuscript or have seen quotes from my story on my blog will know that the character's teeth are important to the story since it revolves around him getting braces. Those who have read my story will also know it is a diary-style format. I now wonder how the "mirror trick" or "let me introduce myself" cliché applies in this instance. Again, nothing is wrong or right about this, but some things, like these, are good to know to help in policing your work.

How many of you have had this happen in your work?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Club @ Blogger's Bookshelf 2019

I want to try this one now. I think I'm now going to try to stop signing up for challenges, except the monthly and seasonal ones 🙂

January: Play Me--Laura Ruby
February: The Gangster We Are All Looking For--Le Thi Diem Thuy
March: Bluebird, Bluebird--Attica Locke
April: World War I--Adriane Ruggerio
May: Paris for One and Other Stories--Jojo Moyes
July: Friday the Rabbi Slept Late--Harry Kemelman
August: Keeper of the Light--Diane Chamberlain
September: The Astronaut Wives Club--Lily Koppel
October: Merci Suarez Changes Gears--Meg Medina
November: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe--Douglas Adams
December: Sugar and Spice--Fern Michaels & others

Challenge completed on December 5

Carla's Reading Challenge 2019

Still another I want to try. I was sure I didn't want to do anymore. but this one looked good. I liked a lot of the monthly prompts.

Some years you don’t need any inspiration to dive into a good book; but other times, you could use a little inspiration. Join me on this twelve month reading challenge below: read whatever other books you like, just read one book that fits the month’s category challenge and hashtag it #carlasreadingchallenge2019 on social media so we can all follow along!
JANUARY – Read a children’s book: Isle of the Lost--Melissa De La Cruz
FEBRUARY – Read a book that you already own: Prom & Prejudice--Elizabeth Eulberg
MARCH – Read a book written in a historical time period: The Godfather--Mario Puzo
APRIL – Read a book written by someone of a different faith: I Have Lived a Thousand Years--Livia Bitton-Jackson
MAY – Read a book written before 1969: The Saturdays--Elizabeth Enright
JUNE – Read a book released this year: Rebel--Beverly Jenkins
JULY – Read a book you chose solely for the cover:
Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo--Ntozake Shange
AUGUST – Read a book you chose solely for the title: Riches to Rags--Casey L. Bond

SEPTEMBER – Read a book with an illustrated cover: A Confederacy of Dunces--John Kennedy Toole
OCTOBER – Read a bestseller that you’ve avoided or missed: The Mothman Prophecies--John A. Keel
NOVEMBER – Read a book set in a country other than your own: Odd and the Frost Giants--Neil Gaiman

DECEMBER – Read a book that takes place during a holiday: Sugar and Spice--Fern Michaels & others

 Challenge completed on December 5

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


I wanted to read New Adult, but the challenge for that genre I did last year was not being offered. This was the best I could find.  I plan to read mostly new adult, but might get daring. I have read 50 Shades.

So this is pretty much a reading challenge created on a whim when I learned that last year’s New Adult Challenge hosted by The Girl Who Read Too Much was no longer running this year! I tried looking for other NA reading challenges, but they’re kinda *ehrrmm* really challenging! Haha!
I kinda wanted something low-key, something that will push me enough to read, but won’t be too demanding a reading challenge. Thus, the birth of Smutty Reads 2019 Reading Challenge! 
I swear to you, this is the easiest reading challenge ever, especially for those of you who read a lot of New Adult and Smut!
The ONLY RULE? READ SMUT! That’s it! And reward yourself with a title and a badge at the end of the year! 

  • For starters, all entries must be under the New Adult/Smut genre.
  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2019. Basically, you will have a whole year to read and re-read you favorite NA books, discover new smut authors, and plainly bask into the hotness our beloved genre can bring!
  • Declare to the world that you’re participating in this challenge via a blog post, a tweet, an IG post/story – whichever platform you prefer, really. ❤ It’s basically to let other people know that this challenge is actually happening ~teehee~ and that some might still wanna join!
  • Share your TBRs, progress, and reviews by using the hashtag #SmuttyReads2019Challenge.
My Books:

  1. Nine Perfect Strangers--Liane Moriarty
  2. The Secret Life of Eva Hathaway--Janice Weber
  3. Wolfsbane--Andrea Cremer
  4. The Female Persuasion--Meg Wolitzer
  5. All That Glitters--Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
  6. The Neighborhood--Mario Vargas Llosa    

NOTE: The blog hosting this challenge has been deleted. I am now calling this one done.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Creative Writing Class Begins Again Today

When I first became a peer mentor in 2016, I was teaching a class on creative writing at work. However, it was scheduled so late in the day and almost no one came after a while, and it was cancelled at the beginning of 2017. Now after tow years, the class is back. I will be doing it on alternating Mondays, starting today. several of my fellow clients and mentors have been excited about the class. And it will be earlier in the day, when most clients are still attending.

My first planned activity is one I had done several times when I first ran the class. I wrote different words and phrases on tiny slips of paper, then folded the slips and put them in a small bag. Participants will draw some of the words (I haven't decided how many just yet) and write a piece that includes all the words drawn.

I can't wait to see how the class turns out this time.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Middle Grade or YA?

Yesterday I began working more on my diary sequel. As you may have seen on my blog in the past year, I have received feedback from several people whom I have let read my story. Only one gave a bad review and one I have not yet heard from. But everyone else who has read my story has given me good feedback. 

I have now wondered how to classify my novel, whether as middle grade or young adult. The protagonist is 12 in the first book and is about to turn 13 in the WIP sequel. Also, the leader of my writers group said it sounds like a YA novel aimed at grades 4 to 7. And I'm more confused on how to classify my book based on what I have read in this link:

I may not be a parent, but the
info contained here is quite helpful
for my post.

Middle Grade Books: Ages: 8-11 yearsGrades: 3-6Length: 30-50K wordsCharacters: Protagonist (main character) is around the age of the reader, 8-11 years old or youngerTopics: friendship, family, the character's life and world, external conflict vs internalPoint of View: often third-person, meaning the narrator is outside the story looking inContent restrictions: no profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality permitted

Examples: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Sisters (by Raina Telgemeier), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Wonder (by R.J. Palacio)
Young Adult Books:  Ages: 12-18 yearsGrades: 7-12Length: 50-75K wordsCharacters: Protagonist is older, 12-18 years oldTopics: self-reflection, internal conflict vs external, analyzing life and its meaningPoint of View: often first-person, meaning the narrator is telling the story about himself or herselfContent restrictions: profanity, violence, romance and eroticism permittedExamples: The Divergent TrilogyThe Fault in Our StarsThe Hunger Games Now, these guidelines are just that—guidelines. Often the lines may be blurry in some books, which makes categorizing them difficult. If ever you are confused or concerned or want to learn more, read the book yourself to see if it's a good fit for your child. You are the best gauge, as the parent. You know best what your child can and cannot handle. 

I am now beginning to think that I have blurred the lines as suggested in the last paragraph quoted above. When the time comes, though, I will let others determine if they think it is appropriate for their child to read, and websites to determine what age range they want to file my story under. Books that could fall under either are often categorized as both on Goodreads.