Friday, December 31, 2010

Books Read in 2010

Ahhh, New Year's Eve. Or, as a friend recently said to me, "Old Year's Eve." I think that's rather appropriate, actually. I've completed my list of books that I've read this year and am quite pleased with it. I'm sure that I've missed a few books that I've read but that's okay. :-)  (I'll keep better track in 2011.)

A recent survey showed that most Americans only read ONE book a year. ONE. I find that rather sad. Books are some of my best friends. (Oh, how sad, those of you who are not readers may say.) When it's a good book filled with great characters, something in you changes. I read an awesome quote the other day.

"A book is a living thing, Willa. It soaks into your mind and heart and shapes how you think and feel. Every book you read becomes a part of you." - Coleen Murtagh Paratore

I think this is absolutely true. That's why it's important to read good books.

So. My list of what I read this year. It's heavily influenced by the fact that I had my last semester of university this spring. (Graduated, too! Yay!) Most of the "classics" on the list were required reading. I enjoyed most of them but a few...well, let's just say that I wouldn't recommend them. (I think on another post I'll put up the "Books Everyone Should Read Before They Die" article that came out and mark the books that I've read. I think that list will influence my reading choices next year.) Let me know what books you've read. :-)

**I might be adding to this list as I remember other books that I've read.**

  1. The Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
  2. Epistles: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians
  3. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  4. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  5. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  6. All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
  7. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred Taylor
  8. The Slave Dancer - Paula Fox
  9. Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
  10. The Things They Carried - O-Brien
  11. Hard Times - Charles Dickens
  12. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
  13. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
  14. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
  15. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  16. Gulliver’s Travels - Jonathan Swift
  17. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
  18. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  19. Middlemarch - George Eliot
  20. Dragon Kiss - E.D. Baker
  21. The Cupid Connection - Coleen Murtagh Paratore
  22. Willa at Heart - Coleen Murtagh Paratore
  23. The Princess Plot - Kirsten Boie
  24. The Princess Trap - Kirsten Boie
  25. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  26. The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan
  27. The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan
  28. Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep - Gail Carson Levine
  29. The Birthday Ball - Lois Lowry
  30. The Thirteenth Princess - Diane Zahler
  31. The White Dragon - Anne McCaffrey
  32. The Masterharper of Pern - Anne McCaffrey
  33. Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey
  34. Dragonquest - Anne McCaffrey
  35. Dragonsong - Anne McCaffrey
  36. Dragonsinger - Anne McCaffrey
  37. Dragondrums - Anne McCaffrey
  38. All the Weyrs of Pern - Anne McCaffrey
  39. The Fairy’s Return - Gail Carson Levine
  40. The Extra-Ordinary Princess - Carolyn Q. Ebbitt
  41. Wyatt Earp - Stewart Holbrook
  42. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders -
  43. Half-Moon Investigations - Eoin Colfer
  44. Practicing Hospitality - Patricia A. Ennis, Lisa Tatlock
  45. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
  46. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  47. Coming Attractions - Robin Jones Gunn
  48. Fairest - Gail Carson Levine
  49. The Teaberry Strangler - Laura Childs
  50. Swan for the Money - Donna Andrews
  51. The Atlantis Complex - Eoin Colfer
  52. The Christmas Star - Thomas Kinkade 
  53. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1 - Jeff Kinney 
  54. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2 - Jeff Kinney
  55. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3 - Jeff Kinney
  56. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4 - Jeff Kinney
  57. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5 - Jeff Kinney
  58. The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

    Wednesday, December 29, 2010


    I've finally joined the ranks of those on Twitter. It's for my author stuff, though. Not so much about my personal life. I don't know how many people want to hear the things my kids say. Maybe I'll throw in a few as freebies once in a while. If you have a Twitter account, do you want to follow me? ;-)


    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Rain is good for something...

    So, it's been raining for the last SIX days! That is unheard of where I live! As one of my friends said, "I'm solar powered!" I can't take much more of this deluge...BUT! The good thing about rain is that it inspires me to write rather melancholy scenes. I have a scene in my third story that I've been struggling with but I was able to write a bit on it yesterday. (Someone gets seriously injured but doesn't die...) I couldn't get the feelings quite right when it was sunshiney out previously. Thank you, rain, for being a melancholy inspiration. :)

    Looking forward to Christmas! I've been a busy shopping and wrapping elf the last few days and I feel very close to being done with getting everything under the tree before the 25th. :)

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    What is "YA" and why do you write it?

    I've been asked this question a few times and I've decided to blog about it because I think it's an interesting topic.

    "YA" refers to Young Adult literature. So then the question is "What is a young adult?" Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer. Usually books are broken down in the following genres (for age groups): preschool, children, middle grade, young adult, adult. That's quite a span. Young adult books could be read by twelve year olds or for twenty year olds. And that's a problem. What might be appropriate for someone at the far end of the teen spectrum is not appropriate for someone just finishing middle school.

    I have read many YA books (even as an adult) because they are (usually) entertaining but do not have extreme violence or scandalous scenes in them. (If you know what I mean.) It really, really bothers me when I find a "YA" book where there are scandalous scenes. I want to scream at the author, "Why did you write this knowing it is going to classified as a young adult book??" I think it is SO important for parents to know what their children are reading, even if it is a YA book. If you are not a reader, ask a friend who is a reader to preview books for you. (Hmmm...I'm getting an idea for a future blog post about age appropriate books...)

    Why do I write YA books? One, for moral reasons. I believe that to be honoring to God, I must not write about certain things. Second, I want to write books that my kids can read and I won't be embarrassed that they are reading it. I also want to write books that my younger friends can read and can discuss. I believe that it's possible to write a good story without gratuitous violence or other situations.

    Why do I write fantasy novels? I love fairy tales and fantasy novels are just grown up fairy tales. I try to find some fairy tale to root my story in and then let my imagination go from there. I love the idea of another world that is similar to ours but just different enough to support the idea of fairies and magic.

    Have I written more stories? Yes, I have! :-)  I've finished my second story in the series and am currently writing the third story. The second book is (SPOILER ALERT!) about Samantha's daughter, Emma. The third book is about Emma's cousin, Holly. Things may change and the story might morph a bit but...I'm quite happy with it right now. I don't know how many books will be in the series. If I get picked up by a big publishing house, maybe they will have a better idea for that.

    I must get to "Christmas-ing" my house now. :-)

    Happy reading!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    A "write in" with other writers

    NaNoWrMo has different groups available (check the website) in your local area to get together with other writers and have a "write in." Most of these are held in coffee shops though some might be at someone's house. I went to one at a Starbucks about ten minutes from my house. (Very convenient!) It was cool to meet another writer and her friend who came along to offer moral/reading support. :) 

    The write in helped me to not be distracted (as I so often am) by household chores, children, ringing phones, etc. when I'm sitting down for some uninterrupted writing time. I will definitely go again. (I hit my minimum word count that night and have posted 4,223 words of my new story so far!)

    The point of "just writing" is to not self-edit as we so often do. I was finding myself constantly trying to think all the scenarios through in my novel rather than just let the words come out. It's a bit freeing to let my imagination take over and see what happens to the characters and the story line. I might hate it when I go back and read it when November is over. Who knows?

    Keep writing! (And if you didn't sign up for the National Novel Writer's Month, give yourself a challenge, a goal for writing this month. 100 words a day? 1,000 words a day? If you don't hit it on one day, keep going on the next day. Don't give up for missing a day.)

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010


    NaNoWrMo is here!  That is, National Novel Writing Month! Check it out here. 

    What's it all about? Writing, writing, writing as much as you can on your current novel project in just one month! We, as writers, tend to daydream, edit, anguish over scenes, dialogues, descriptions...on and on. Well stop it! Just write! Upload your work (and you can do fancy copyrighting stuff to make sure no one takes it) to the site. If you hit 50,000 words by the end of the month, you get credit for accomplishing a huge goal! And yes, people can cheat and upload rubbish or previously written stuff. But that defeats the whole spirit of the challenge. Real writers won't do that. Right, guys? ;)

    Let's have fun and just write! If anyone out there wants to get together and have a "write-in" at a local library, let me know! (Lots of desks and outlets available at the library!)

    If you're going to do this, sign up today! You'll get encouraging e-mails to work on your story. Try to writer 1,600 words a day. You can do it! :)

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Writing. It's What I Do.

    I love to write. It started when I was younger as a way to use my vivid imagination in a productive way. :)  I wish I had kept some of the old stories that I wrote but, sadly, I threw them away. *sigh*

    I had the idea for my book THE SEVENTH BLESSING last summer. I had a little journal and I started jotting down ideas. That grew into dialogue. And then description about the world they lived in. And then...I started really writing the story.

    I had to write a short story for a literature class I was taking. I picked up my little journal and started to write out a short story using what I already had. When I got to page ten (for the three page assignment), I realized that this wasn't just going to be a short story. So...I saved that file and started a NEW story for my assignment. I would send the updated versions of 7th Blessing to a friend of mine who also writes. She'd send me what she had recently written and we would edit and critique each other's work. (I would recommend this to other authors! Find a friend you trust and do this. A lot!)

    I was stuck for a long time because I wrote something for my character, Samantha, to do and then...I couldn't get past it. Impasse. (Not "writer's block.") Finally, my friend said that it was because I had changed Sam's age in the story from 15ish to 18 that the part where I was stuck didn't work. I was able to tweak it and then BAM! I was able to go on! Six versions later, I have a story that I'm very proud of and happy to share with others. You probably wouldn't want to read the earlier versions. *shudder* It's good to keep earlier versions, however, in case you say, "Wait a minute! That one part was good! What did I say in that line of dialogue?" etc. It's also good to track where you've been as a writer. Hopefully, the story gets better in each version.

    Someone asked me how you start writing a story. My way is to start with a main character sketch. What is your MC like? Personality traits, physical characteristics, etc. Then work out a plotline. Where will the story begin and end? What's the climax of the plot? Now fill in the story outline. Who does the MC meet? Friends, enemies, etc. Character sketches for those people. And they really do become "people" to the author! Your family will think you slightly crazy for mumuring, "But would Samantha really do that?" "Is that what Nolan would say?" :)

    Writers write. I know that sounds simple but it's true! Think about it for a minute. Photographers take pictures. Artists paint. Teachers teach. Bakers bake. I could go on and on. If you want to write, then do it. And then get brave enough to show it to someone whom you trust. Ask for honest feedback, constructive criticism.

    And keep writing. :)