Friday, May 31, 2019

Book Challenge by Erin 11.0

Runs from July 1 to October 31, 2019.

• 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages:
Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah--Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

• 10 points: Read a book that starts with “F”:
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late--Harry Kemelman

• 10 points: Read a book with one of the following words in the title: rain(s), thunder, lightning, or monsoon
o rainy or raindrops will be accepted as well, but train, drain, brain, etc. will not:
The Color of Lightning--Paulette Jiles

• 15 points: Read a book with a picture of a building (i.e. a house, a castle, a school, a hospital, etc.) on the cover :
Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating--Christina Lauren

• 20 points: Read a book that the published author uses an initial in his/her name 
o i.e. J.K. Rowling, C.J. Box, Mark T. Sullivan, J. Maarten Troost:
Monday's Not Coming--Tiffany D. Jackson

• 20 points: Read a book with an article of clothing or accessory in the title
o i.e. shirt, tie, pants, bikini, shoes, gloves, scarf, umbrella, trousers, dress, etc. (makeup and cosmetics don’t qualify):
Al Capone Shines My Shoes--Gennifer Choldenko

• 25 points: (in honour of our co-admin) – Read a book set in India
o it can be set in more than one country, but the India setting needs to be a prominent one:
The Temple Dancer--John Speed

• 30 points: (selected by Lyndsay L.) – Read a book that has won or been short-listed for the Booker Prize: 

• 30 points: (selected by Deborah D.) – Read a book about a human with superpowers or supernatural powers:

• 35 points: (selected by Lorraine J.) – Read a book that has the same title as another book in a different genre:
Long Way Down--Jason Reynolds

Challenge completed on July 20

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Summer Reading Challenge 2019 @ Messy Middle

 Will gets as many as I can for this one.
It will start on June 1  and run through August 16, 2010. To enter, read seven books from 25 categories. Along the way, I’ll touch base and have several book giveaways planned.

What is different? 

  • For fun, I scrapped the previous reading challenge and created a fresh one for us.
  • Many categories will be similar because reading is reading. But you will notice a few new gems —an audiobook, a book with a verb in the title, a book under 100 pages. People, I love this challenge so much I almost added more book as I wrote this paragraph. I need help!
  • This year if you do not read your “penalty” book, you will subtract two books from your total (last year we were only docked one book).

What is the same?

  • Counting a book of more than 700 pages as two books.
  • Choosing a penalty book within the first week of the year. A penalty book or category you will read or be penalized. Last year I picked The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism, as my penalty book at it worked! I finally read a book I had planned for at least three years to read. My intention is strong and will weak. And I am all the richer for reading it. I even blogged about Ten Takeaways from The Bully Pulpit.
  • More fun categories than ever!

What’s in it for you?

  • All who comment on August 16-19th with the names of the books they read will be entered to win one of ten $10 Amazon gift cards.
Drumroll . . . here are the categories!

A Biography: Titian--Stefano Zuffi
A book I already own: Welcome to Temptation--Jennifer Crusie
A book a friend recommended: Keeper of the Light--Diane Chamberlain
A Young Adult book (YA): Bloodrose--Andrea Cremer
A book with a great cover: Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating--Christina Lauren
A book of poetry: Love--Pablo Neruda
A memoir or autobiography: Courage to Soar-Simone Biles
A graphic novel: On a Sunbeam--Tillie Walden
A book you might disagree with: The Backstagers, Volume1--James Tynion IV
A book for professional development (loosely defined): Creatocracy--Elizabeth Wurtzel
A book longer than 700 pages (counts as two books): The Tale of Genji--Murasaki Shikibu
A book with a verb in the title: Faking It--Jennifer Crusie
A play: Our Town--Thornton Wilder
A book about a country or culture you have never visited: The Temple Dancer--John Speed
A book about history: Roses and Radicals--Susan Zimet
A book that won an award: Long Way Down--Jason Reynolds
A classic: Jo's Boys--Louisa May Alcott
A novel by an author you have never read before: Rebel--Beverly Jenkins
An audiobook: Do This For Me--Eliza Kennedy
A book related to a skill: Integrated Robots--Erik Richardson
A book recommended by someone you know: The Vineyard--Barbara Delinsky
A book with an animal: How to Train Your Dragon--Cressida Cowell
A book less than 100 pages: Piper Morgan in Charge!--Stephanie Faris
A book you want to discuss with others: The Joy Luck Club--Amy Tan

My Penalty Book: Bright Lights, Big A**--Jen Lancaster

24 books (+ penalty book) completed on August 11

Thursday, May 23, 2019

2019 Summer Reading Challenge @ Early Bird Books

This one is at Early Bird Books. It runs between Memorial Day (May 27) and Labor Day (September 2).

The Categories:

  1. A Book With a Strong Female Protagonist: Bloodrose--Andrea Cremer
  2. Mystery or Thriller by an International Author: Unto Us a Son is Given--Donna Leon 
  3. Book That Inspires You to Travel: The Night Watch--Sarah Waters
  4. Book From a  Diverse Voice: The Joy Luck Club--Amy Tan
  5. Book in a Mystery or Thriller Series: Steelheart--Brandon Sanderson
  6. Book That Pairs Well With Wine: On Tall Pine Lake--Dorothy Garlock
  7. A Moving Biography or Memoir: Courage to Soar--Simone Biles
Challenge completed on July 20

How to Find Writer Friends


While writing can be a solitary challenge at times, building a network of writer friends can be invaluable. Making connections and forming relationships with fellow authors can provide you with vast amounts of support, advice, and camaraderie.
Of course, reaching out to your fellow writes can seem daunting, especially if you are new to the process, or you are feeling less than confident about your work. You might worry about what you can offer in such circles or imagine being scorned or rejected or that you'll be uncovered as the 'imposter' you are.
Making a group of writer friends does take time and effort, but by integrating yourself as part of the writing community, everything from your confidence to your competence can benefit.
So how do you start to reach out?
Join a Facebook group
There are tons of great Facebook groups out there that are aimed at connecting writers together and sharing knowledge tips and advice. These groups are generally friendly and welcome writers from all walks of life and at all stages in their writing career. You can also find groups of ones specific to your genre. Each group has its own 'rules', and usually blatant self-promotion isn't allowed, but you can ask advice, share funny stories, get support and generally connect and communicate with likeminded people.
Do some gentle stalking
The beauty of the internet means there are countless ways to connect with fellow writers. If there is a particular author you would like to meet or know more about, then you can usually find their website or connect with them on social media. By linking and sharing their work and commenting thoughtfully on their posts, you can slowly build a relationship with them, and hopefully, they will start to reciprocate. 
Take a writing class
A writing class can help hone and improve your writing skills, will ensure that you write regularly and will allow you to meet writers who are likely to be at the same sort of level and stage as you. 
Join a writing group
A writing group, be that virtual or local, could be a great way to help boost your writing confidence, get feedback on your work, and share ideas and inspiration for future projects. Writing groups are usually welcoming, friendly spaces where writers have rules about how to critique one another's work and are mostly hugely supportive and encouraging - though will offer constructive and impartial feedback when asked!
Go to a writing conference
While writing conference can be exhausting as it's a lot of networking with a lot of people, they are a fantastic way to make connections with all sorts of people from the writing world. So if you need some advice on your manuscript, are looking for an agent or publisher or want to learn some top trade secrets, a writing conference would be the place to go!
Go on a writing retreat
A writing retreat may be an expensive way to make writing buddies, but it can help you to form deep connections with your fellow writers, as well as really make some progress on your latest project, all usually in beautiful surroundings with great food, drink, and company!
So if you are feeling a little lonely, or just want to benefit from forming a network of writer friends, try the above and reap the benefits and positives that having writer friends can bring!

So far the one that I've enjoyed the most is the writers' lab in my town. Next week is our last meeting of this year. The meetings resume in September.  Our leader has talked about possibly meeting elsewhere during the summer, but nothing is for sure yet. I'm glad to have found the group, as I was not sure if I'd ever meet any other writers in my town, except for those who attend the mental health center with me whoa re also working on writing. 

As for the other options, I have joined some writing groups on Facebook, but have found myself posting less of ten than other members. I guess I prefer seeing and talking to others in person as far as writing goes. Aside from the memoir writing class I took at a community college two summers ago, I have not been able to find any writing classes at the college except those online. As much as I think these such classes may help and be fun, they are expensive and again, I like the idea of doing such a thing in person.

And as much as I would like to get to a writers' conference or retreat, finance is the one thing stopping me. Such venues often cost hundreds of dollars.

So for now, I'm glad to have found the writers' lab in my town. I'll miss them over the summer, but am still glad to have them as an option. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Announcing the 2019 Fun in the Sun Reading Challenge!

Always fun to read summer-themed books!  Will get as many as I can between June 1 and August 31. Click here.

Something happens to me when it starts getting hot out. Sure I want to slip on my flip flops, go swimming, and drink some iced lattes but what I really get in the mood for is reading a certain genre of books that are about fun in the sun! So I'm bringing back my seasonal challenge specifically for these books.

 The Rules:
  • This short term challenge begins June 1, 2019 and ends Aug 31, 2019. 
  • You may sign up anytime during the challenge. 
  • I won't be creating different levels.
  • Read as little or as many books as you want. Even if you just read one book I want you to participate!
  • You may include books of any format including traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks.
  • Books may be any genre but must have a fun in the sun theme, a cover with these elements on it, or something in the title that is about the theme. This includes everything associated with spring and summer such as weddings, swimming pools, the ocean, beaches, lounge chairs, flowers, sunglasses, palm trees, vacations, the sun, a garden, rain, thunderstorms, heat and so on. 
  • A list of fun in the sun 2019 book releases will be up this week so check back here for it. If you want to see past releases visit my Pinterest boards for spring books and summer books. Books do not have to be read from these lists. These are just suggestions.
  • You may reread books. Books may count towards other reading challenges. 
  • Use the hashtag #FunIntheSunRC 
  • If you could be so kind, please place the Fun In the Sun Reading Challenge banner on your blog to help spread the word. 
  • Please link back to this blog, post about it on Facebook, Tweet about it, and so on to help spread the word.

Here is what I am reading:

Challenge completed on August 24

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Turning on "Read" for Pages

All the time I've been using Pages on my Mac I had not been aware until recently about the edit option on the drag-down menu that allows speech. I gave this a try.

I now have mixed feelings about using this option. On the one hand, it can help find typos that Spell Check won't find. In one of my stories, I caught that I had typed "tired" when I meat "tried." I had looked at the printed copy many times and didn't catch this. But when the speaker read this line "...the cat tired to sneak out. ..." I became aware I'd made this typo. Similarly, in another story, I saw that I had typed "tow" instead of "two." And in another passage, I saw that I had omitted a necessary word as the computer read the text.

On the other hand, it can get annoying listening to the text being read. And of course there will be words the computer doesn't know how to pronounce. It had not clue how to pronounce Farrah Fawcett's first name, for one thing. Seems easy to understand that one. But it also read the symbol # as "number," rather than "hashtag." That was surprising, since almost everyone these days uses the symbol to mean "hashtag."  And it's just a machine, incapable of detecting the voice intonation implied by dialogue. 

Who has tried this? I'm not sure how often I will be using this method. But I think it will be helpful once in a while. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dictating Stories

How many of you out there have tried dictating stories? I just tried this , as I had to keep pausing and saw how fun and how tedious such a process can be.

As someone who grew up using tape recorders, I had a longing for using one to attempt a story dictation. And because the book from which I got the idea was published in the 1990s, it said to use a tape recorder, since some people were still using these things at the time. I have a cassette player on my CD player that I got in 1991 (and still use today) but the cassette player no longer works. And by coincidence recently I spotted a blank cassette tape at Goodwill one day. 

I really wanted to try this method, but was unsure what to do, until someone  I know said you can record on your phone. So I gave this a try, recording two short pieces of a story. Trying to transcribe them took a while as I had to keep pausing the recording on my phone. I would have had to do the same on a tape recorder, but I was used to the idea of pausing, rewinding and stopping a tape since I had one for many years. I was also reminded of how I once tried to record a story onto to a tape recorder. But pausing my phone to listen to a recording was new to me. I have no idea how to rewind such recordings, so each time I paused then accidentally stopped the recording, I had to start it over again. In some ways, this worked to allow my to go over what I had typed so far.The

In the book where I saw this idea, it said that 15 minutes of tape can fill 10 pages or more. On my phone, I saw that you can record up to 60 minutes at a time. But since this was new to me, I decided to do a little at a time, ending up with five minutes on the first recording I did, six on the second one. I ended up with nearly three pages (on Apple Pages) with the first recording and nearly two from the second recording. I had to transcribe each one on separate days because the pausing and subsequent replaying and typing quickly wore me out. I made yet another recording that I have yet to transcribe.

The book said to transcribe word for word without editing as you go. But I found myself doing just that. Often when I write a story on paper, I find myself editing and redoing it as I type it onto the computer. I found transcribing spoken material to be not much different and the habit of editing as I go is a bit hard to break. I say do whatever works for you. The book said once the entire story is on paper, the next step is to rewrite the story for sense and sentence structure, adding any embellishments you wish. I do intend to do this step.

I'm not sure how often I will try this method, but it can be fun once in a while.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Quiz: The Movie Theater Test

You Are Imaginative and Idealistic

You are funny and playful. You bring out the brighter side of things. You are one colorful character.

You tend to respect authority and value expert's opinions. You are well read.

You have a realistic take on life. You see things as they are, and you don't worry about how things should be.

Spending time alone makes you more optimistic and ready to take on the world. You like to recharge.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Prozac Nation 25th Anniversary


Today on Twitter I saw a tweet about this article on Bustle, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Elizabeth Wurtzel's best-selling memoir, Prozac Nation. because I loved this book and its movie adaptation, I knew I had to mention this on my blog. Those who have regularly read my blog will know reading this iconic memoir made me want to write my own memoir. I was later hesitant to do so because I felt it was too close to what already existed. But other convinced me I had my now story to tell and that it was different. The article says how few mental illness memoirs had already existed when Prozac Nation was published in 1994 and how today Amazon lists over 300 mental health memoirs released in 2019. A once-rare genre of books has since become a thriving one. I now want to get mine out there somehow, but am still uncertain if I want to self-publish my memoir or try sending it out. 

From the Bustle article:

Sarah Wilson, the author of 2018 New York Times bestseller First, We Make the Beast Beautiful (which, she says, is a conversation, not a memoir, about anxiety) was on her own mental health journey in the 1990s when she first read Prozac Nation.
 “I was in the U.S. studying at UC Santa Cruz where I was diagnosed with manic depression, as it was called back then,” she tells Bustle. “I remember feeling awkward about how indulgent [Prozac Nation] was. It was the toe-gazing, self-conscious ‘90s and it was not a ‘done thing’ to be so self-absorbed and aware of your plight. At least not in such an earnest way. Things were more acerbic. But I felt it described what was actually going on. It almost provided the language for the discussion in coming decades.”

I too, was beginning my mental health journey when I first read the iconic memoir. I too, graduated from UCSC in California, though my mental health journey began long after college. 

May is Mental Health Month, an attempt to end the stigma faced with mental illness. The article in Bustle says that stigma kept memoirs of mental illness off bookshelves prior to the 1990s, and:

In a 2017 Guernica article, Charlotte Lieberman argues that mental health memoirs like Gorilla and the Bird by Zack McDermott reduce stigma with “a staunch resistance to shame, a traditional accompaniment to the disclosure of mental health issues.” Wurtzel was one of the first to do what dozens of writers are doing now — tell her personal mental health stories with a “staunch resistance to shame.”
All the more reason I want to get mine out there.

A side note: The Bustle article points out the following:

Wurtzel closes Prozac Nation with a meditation on the death of Kurt Cobain, another icon of the dysthymia who characterized 1990s pop culture. She wrote that Nirvana "either inaugurated or coincided with some definite and striking cultural moments." Prozac Nation is arguably itself one of those striking cultural moments which ignited conversations about how we struggle with, survive, and sometimes fall to mental illness.
I was never a fan of Nirvana (and coincidentally I recently read this book that mentions the '90s grunge band), but in this part of the book she wrote, "...once someone is a clinical case, once someone is in a hospital bed or in a stretcher, headed for the morgue, his story is absolutely and completely his own. ..." Yes, this is exactly what I came to learn. Stories my be similar, but each one has its own details, consequences and such. I came to see what mine were and have them written down. I'm just waiting for the chance for others to see what they are. Another quote from the Bustle piece says:
Literary agent Noah Ballard with Curtis Brown, Ltd. has worked on memoirs dealing with trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and grief. "Everyone has a story of pain misunderstood, symptoms misidentified, and often loved ones lost," he tells Bustle. "A good memoir, however, isn’t simply the lived experience of trauma or grief, but rather it is finding in the very specific a universal truth.”

I too, fell I discovered a universal truthas did Wurtzel and others who have written about this subject, such as William Styron in Darkness Visible and Susannah Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted

I may not have been in the Prozac game since the 1990s (I began my journey in 2015), but I can still relate to the subject. As soon as I began on the still-iconic antidepressant, I knew I had to read this book to see how well I could relate. Here is the review I wrote on Goodreads upon reading Prozac Nation in early 2016:

As someone currently on Prozac for depression, I knew I had to read this book to see how, if at all, I could identify with what the author described herself going through. Even though I know that it was written over 20 years ago. Still it was a thought-provoking read. And I did see some incidents in the book that were nearly the same as (if not identical to) what I had gone through before beginning my Prozac last year. Although it took me this long to realize I suffered from depression and needed to seek help. I felt I was brave to have read this. 
I have since read it a second time and may just do so yet again 🙂

Friday, May 3, 2019

Chapter Break Bingo – May 2019

Here is the new card for May.

Click on the card to download (or right click here and save-as).
Mark up the card however you wish to claim the squares.
Here’s the Teen Book Con list of authors. Pick any book from one of these authors to complete the square for Teen Book Con.

Here’s a recap for clarity (with specific dates for example):
May 3 – new bingo card available
June 2 – Julie and I will post our May completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post
June 3 – new bingo card available
July 2 – Julie and I will post our June completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post. We will also be posting the May winner of the most squares in this post.
And so on and so forth.

Here is what I am reading:
  1. The Neighborhood--Mario Vargas Llosa (7 squares): Library Book, Physical Book, Thriller/Suspense, Overcome Adversity, Minority Author, Not in a Series, Outlaw/Scoundrel
  2. Paris for One and Other Stories--Jojo Moyes (5 squares): Audiobook, Mother, Contemporary Fiction, New Relationship, Exercise 
  3. The Inheritance of Loss--Kiran Desai (5 squares): Free Space, Award-Winning, Made Into a Movie, New-to-You Author, Clean Romance
  4. Click Here--Denise Vega (2 squares): Character is a Blogger, In a Series
  5. Opposite of Always--Justin A. Reynolds (4 squares): Teen Book Con Author, Recently Released (2019), Free Book, Alternative Mode of Transportation
  6. Radical Sanity--Elizabeth Wurtzel (1 square): Shelf Love
  7. A Cup of Tea--Amy Ephron (1 square): Weapon on Cover
25 squares completed on May 15