Friday, November 17, 2017

The 2018 Reading Challenge at Island Reader

I will be doing the Island Reader's Challenge again. 

New year, new reading challenge!
I had so much fun working my way through last year’s challenge that I thought it would only be right to create a new one for 2018.
Yes, it’s November, but I’m trying to be fully prepared for 2018 so my list is ready for consumption.
Like before, we are going to focus more on quality than quantity. There are 14 books on this year’s list and it’s broken up into two main parts again; romance and ‘other’. ‘Other’ as you well know is where I put everything that isn’t romance related on this site, biographies, essays etc. #dontjudgeme
I would love it if you all would join me once again. To participate, simply click HERE to download and print a copy of the challenge.
Make sure you’re signed up for my mailing list. The first person to finish and can show me a copy of the completed challenge will win a $25 Amazon gift card. 🙂
*Click HERE for the full list*

My Books:
  1. Old School Romance--Published Before 1990:
  2. Interracial Romance:
  3. Single-Parent Romance:
  4. Debut Novel by a Romance Writer:
  5. Collection of Poetry by an Author of Color:
  6. Fiction Novel During the Jazz Age:
  7. Novel by a Caribbean Author:
  8. A Book You Read Last Year:
  9. Book by an LGBTQ Author:
  10. A Childhood Favorite:
  11. Book by an Author Currently Under 25 Years Old:
  12. Book Published by an Indie Press:
  13. Political Memoir:
  14. A Book Recommended by Your BFF:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Christmas Spirit #ReadingChallenge

I'm going to try to get  at least two Christmas books, more if time permits. Sign up here.

Yikes! This starts next week. I'm constantly trying to stay up to speed. Seems there's never enough time to get everything done...but I digress...

Welcome to the 2017 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge! 

As usual, there are multiple levels for participation, like children's books and watching Christmas movies AND the Christmas Spirit Readathon (with a twist!) is back again this year. Keep reading for details!

Details and sign up:
challenge will run from Monday, November 20, 2017 through Saturday, January 6, 2018, Twelfth Night (or Epiphany for the Christians among us). 
cross over with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged! 
These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time...a children's Christmas books level! 

--Candy Cane: read 1 book
--Mistletoe: read 2-4 books
--Christmas Tree: read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)

Additional levels:

--Fa La La La Films: watch a bunch or a few Christmas's up to you!
--Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children this season and share what you read

My Books:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2018 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

I'm doing this one again, counting the first book I read that begins with each letter.

The Alphabet Soup Challenge means that by December 31, 2018
your bowls must be filled by one book for each letter of the Alphabet.
Each Letter Counts As 1 Spoonful
This challenge will run from January 1st, 2018 until December 31st, 2018.
You can join anytime. You do not have to post a review of the book. Books can come from any genre.
You do not need to link up each spoonful.
Make a page or a post or a GoodReads shelf where you will keep track of your spoonfuls. I keep track of mine on my Challenge Page
Crossovers to other challenges are allowed and encouraged! 
It’s an alphabet challenge!!! The challenge is to read one book that has a title starting with every letter of the alphabet.
You can drop the A’s and The’s from the book titles as shown below. 

The First Main Word Needs To Be
The Letter You Are Counting 

Except For those pesky Q, X AND Z titles then the word that starts with the challenge letter can be anywhere in the title.

So there are two different ways you can set up your own A-Z Reading Challenge.
A – How I plan to do it: Make a list on your blog from A-Z. Throughout the year, as you go along, add the books you are reading to the list. Towards the end of the year, you can check and see which letters you are missing and find books to fit.
B – Make a list now of 26 books, picking one for each letter of the alphabet. For example: A – Antiques Wanted by Barbara Allan B – Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day C – Class Reunions Are Murder by Libby Klein D- The Diva Cooks Up A Storm by Krista Davis, etc.. 
Books can be read in any order and all formats – print – e-book – audio – are acceptable for this challenge!
Ready to join??

Bloggers grab the image below and make a post about the challenge to encourage others to join!

My Books:

Things to Remember When Asking for Feedback


One of the most useful ways you can help yourself improve your writing is to ask for feedback. Having someone who isn’t as close to your work as you are, read and critique it, can help you see both where you are going right and where you are going wrong!
However, asking for feedback can be pretty nerve-wracking. If you have poured your heart and soul into your work it’s no wonder you might be feeling a little sensitive when it comes to discussing it. However constructive or indeed pertinent another’s comments might be, it can be difficult not to take feedback the wrong way (unless it’s just gushing about how amazing your work is of course!).
The best way to combat this is to do some preparation before you ask for feedback, to think carefully about exactly what you are asking for and whose opinion will be most beneficial to improving your work.
Here are some things to remember when asking for feedback:

Don’t choose someone close to you.
It's going to be difficult to get a genuinely constructive critique of your work if you ask someone close to you. Your mum, your partner, a dear friend - they aren’t going to want to hurt your feelings and are more likely to look at your work with rose tinted spectacles on anyway. Ask someone you can trust to be completely objective - if you are not just looking for an ego boost that is!

Opinions are subjective.
You’ve got to face facts that not everyone will like or ‘get’ your work - and that’s OK. If someone fundamentally disagrees with what you have done or simply doesn’t ‘like’ it, it doesn’t mean your work has no value. So remember to take even the most professional opinion with a pinch of salt.

Be clear about what kind of feedback you want.
Be specific about the type of constructive criticism you want, give examples if necessary to be even more obvious. You can also make it known what kind of feedback you don’t want. The clearer you are the more likely you’ll get the kind of feedback you can actually use.

Remember you don’t have to follow their advice.
It’s great to get the opinions of others, and hopefully, you will be able to take on board their feedback and use it to improve your writing. However, it is good to remember that you don’t have to! Your work is yours and yours only. You can make it exactly as you want it to be!

Only ask for feedback when your work is ready to receive it.
Wait until you feel you have done all you can to improve your work before giving it to someone else for feedback. If it’s not up to standard and full of glaring errors and mistakes it will be hard for them to get past that and their review will be much less helpful than it could have been.

Remember, they are doing you a favour.
At the end of the day, unless you are paying for a review or critique, this person is doing you a favour and trying to help you - it’s always good to remember that, no matter what sort of feedback they give!

It’s great to get feedback, to strive to learn more, to have a desire to improve our writing and make it the best it can be. Just remember that negative feedback doesn’t mean you should give up, and positive feedback doesn’t mean your work is perfect. As long as you are always trying to grow, always trying to improve as a writer - that’s the most important thing!

Despite what this article says, I have asked my mom to look at my story, though she still hasn't done so. My dad, on the other hand, I dread letting him look as he really does get critical. I always await what critical things he's going to point out in what I have written. It has been hard to find others who are willing to read my stuff, though some did read the very first draft of my memoir, back when it was only 87 pages. 

I still haven't done any working on it since visiting the instructor almost two weeks ago. I had felt a little discouraged by some of the things she suggested. But like it says above, I can make it as I want it to be. I still have some decisions to make on that. I haven't done any work on the piece since the meeting almost two weeks ago, but I guess that waiting a while  will give me fresh eyes as I begin again to look over it. 

I may not have been completely sure that my work was ready to receive feedback, but I think any amount of feedback helps when going through different writings of the work. I certainly feel the current version can use some feedback any time soon.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I'm Not Ready for Christmas, or Even Thanksgiving

As someone who once worked in retail, it has never surprised me how early holiday items turn up in stores. No surprise when I walked into Dollar Tree at the beginning of August and saw Halloween stuff already being set up, and overheard another customer complaining,  "It's only August!" Again, as a former retail worker, I have come to expect to see seasonal items earlier that the actual holiday, but I do agree with remarks people have been known to make about seasonal merchandise appearing about two months ahead of time.  

Christmas is the big offender when it comes to being displayed. It seems to appear alongside the Halloween stuff before the calendar even switches to October! I may or may not be thinking about Halloween in late September, but I'm certainly not thinking about Christmas yet.  And do people think about Halloween costumes in the middle of August? Well, maybe some--those who want to be a superhero or animated character from a then-recent blockbuster movie.  But I didn't decide on my disguise for this year until just before the first day of October.   

Right now,  the only Christmas-related things I'm really thinking about is craft ideas for the center for next month. I saw the paper-cup bell idea a few days ago.  And just now, I saw how to make Santa, elves or reindeer a out of paper plates. I'm going to suggest these for  class in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, I must admit I have no plans for Thanksgiving yet.  I hate to sound like one of those who have the holiday--I really don't, but it's just not my favorite.  Yet every year, I'm seeing complaints about how the holiday is overlooked by retailers. So few people seem to decorate for Thanksgiving so there seem to be very few decorations in stores.  This is why I get surprised to see an inflatable turkey on someone's front lawn. I happened to see one while taking a walk the other day. And it seems that the grocery stores make more money off the holiday that do other retailers. More people are likely to get their turkeys at Safeway than at Target. Target is where the Halloween and Christmas stuff come in. Even Goodwill makes a lot from Halloween what with recycled costumes originally bought from Kmart or Amazon, and pinstriped tuxedos purchased to make zombie gangster costumes. And now in place of the Halloween rack, there is a Christmas sweater rack. But if you're doing a play for school and need a tuxedo for a pilgrim, you'll have dig through the racks to find one since there will not be a display for Thanksgiving wear. But just what do people wear for their Thanksgiving celebration? Probably just stuff they already have and consider holiday-worthy.  It seems like those who do decorate for Thanksgiving only decorate the table  with small cornucopia, a set pilgrim salt and pepper shakers, and a turkey made from a hand traced onto construction paper.  Is this why you see so few Thanksgiving items in stores? Not that I have ever been looking for any or have complained about the lack there of. Rather, I just wanted to comment on this complaint that seems to come year after year. 

Whatever you are doing for Thanksgiving, I hope you have a great day. And I'm not even going to get started on the day after giving thanks, but I just had to share this image. And for the record, I have no plans to do any shopping on that day.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Monthly Key Word Challenge 2018

This one is now at  My Reader's Block.

Over the last several years I have participated in the Monthly Key Words Challenge. It started with Kim at Bookmark to Blog and more recently was hosted by Claudia at My Soul Called Life. Claudia's blog has disappeared and I tried to contact her through Goodreads to see if she had changed blogs and/or if she planned to host the challenge again. I've gotten no response and have decided to host a version of the challenge myself. And so, here is the 2018 version of the challenge....

Your task is to read at least one book each month whose title includes one or more of the key words for that month. For instance, in January you might read Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon. The key words are listed below.


* The title you choose can be a variation on one of the key words. For example- your title could include the word 'icicle'
 or 'icing' even though the key word is 'ice.'

*Key words can be tweaked. For example- You could read a book with "Bowler" or "Bonnet" for the key word 'Hat' and that would be just fine. If the key word is 'Family' then your title could include the word 'Sister' or 'Father.'If the key word is 'Food' then your title could include the word 'Cake.' 


Should Your Protagonist Be Based on Yourself?

Should Your Protagonist Be Based On Yourself? - Writer's

Basing a character or characters on yourself is somewhat inevitable. Even if you believe you are writing characters who are entirely fictional, who live in a made up world and whose adventures and journeys are nothing to do with your own life, just by the fact that you are writing them, and they have been created from your own imagination, means that a little bit of you can’t help but sneak through.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with basing your protagonist on yourself, but it is essential to understand what makes a fictional character different to one in real life, and therefore one that readers want to read about. If your character isn’t engaging, captivating, exciting and full of life, it will be difficult for your readers to relate to them.
While you might be all those things, let’s face it, not every experience, thought or action in our lives is all that interesting, in fact, many of the day to day motions we go through are relatively mundane. So if you use yourself as a base for your protagonist, you must only take the most fascinating, unique parts of your personality, the most intriguing thoughts and the most surprising adventures and fictionalise them for your book.
There is the danger of putting too much of oneself into a character and therefore then becoming too attached to them. If you base your protagonist on yourself you might become overly protective of that character. You might not want bad things to happen to them, or might give them too much of your time in which case other characters suffer.
Putting yourself into your protagonist, or, indeed, any of your characters does take courage, and bravery in writing is almost always rewarded. Human beings are complex and fascinating. If you are really willing to explore the different aspects of your personality, your motivation for doing the things you do and saying the things you say, the things that make you most vulnerable, and most afraid, you have the potential to create a character whose openness and vulnerability make your reader go weak at the knees.
It’s also important to tune into the little things that make a character come alive, that make them human. We all have our quirks, our little personality traits that are uniquely ours. Hiccuping when we get nervous, having a compulsive bathroom routine, or singing loudly and out of tune in the car. Whatever they may be, zoning in on them and giving them to your characters will breathe life into them and make them seem more real and relatable.
Putting yourself into your characters takes practice, and while you might do it without even thinking about it, if you want to use your life and your experiences in your novel, there are some exercises you can try.
Write down all the things you love about yourself
Write down ten things that make you cringe
Reveal your darkest secret
Explore your saddest memory
Describe your body in detail - and be completely honest about it
Write down your five greatest fears
Exercises like this will help you do a little soul searching and help you pick out interesting things that you can use as character traits in your book.
Of course, to some authors the idea of basing a character on themselves is horrifying. There are ways to try and avoid doing so too. Spending time painstakingly creating a character who is nothing like you is doable, but you may well find that this character simply ends up being a manifestation of an alter ego you wish you had, the kind of person who does everything you want to, who says everything you are afraid to say.
The truth is there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether you base your protagonist on yourself, and in fact, it may be easier to accept that a little bit of you might rub off on all your characters, rather than fight against it.
Whether you are trying to or not, the most important thing is that you create characters that are alive, that have beating hearts, inquisitive minds, who are full of life, have passions, goals, fears and secrets. If you can create characters like that you are on the right track regardless!

Right before I decided on what I perceive as a memoir or something of an autobiography (the memoir instructor said some of the stuff I had included borders on an autobiography), the idea of a fictional novel has also occurred to me.  But when I began writing notes, it sounded more like memoir. There are many other things I could have included but didn't, which would have made the story seem more like an autobiography.

As for creating an autobiographical fictional protagonist, I think I may have done so in the diary novel I have begun. Except that the protagonist is a guy and I'm a girl! But it is set in the 1980s, and that is when I grew up. And the character is dreading having to get braces, something I myself went through then. So in some ways the character is autobiographical, the character's gender notwithstanding. 

Is this really what is meant by "write what you know"? 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lessons Learned From Writing a Second Book


Lessons Learned From Writing A Second Book - Writer's

It may seem obvious, but the more books you write, the better you’ll get, and the higher your chances are of getting published too!

Writing your first novel teaches you so much, and often you feel as though you are a completely different writer by the time you decide to embark on a second. However, writing and completing the second novel is a huge learning curve as well, and there are plenty of useful lessons to take away from it too.

So what are the most likely lessons you’ll learn when writing a second book?

Practice makes perfect.
Your second book will be better than your first. Your third will probably be better than your second. The more you practice writing, the better you’ll become at it, so just keep on writing whatever you do, and you’ll see yourself improve day by day.

You shouldn’t be afraid to experiment.
Writing the second novel makes you a little braver. You know when to play it safe and when to push the boundaries. You’ll allow yourself the freedom to experiment more and find what works for you.

The more you plan, the easier it will be.
While some writers prefer to let their writing just ‘come to them’ and see where it takes them, most find that, at some stage, they’ll have to get organised and do a little planning. Creating chapter outlines and doing your research will make your life so much easier, your book more believable and will help you to ensure that there is a story to be told.

You’ll still have bad days.
Just because you’ve already written a novel, you won’t necessarily feel any more confident or self-assured about this one. You’ll still have days where you wonder what you are doing, where you feel wholly demotivated, where you read over what you’ve written and feel as though you are the worst writer in the world. However, you’ve been through it all before so you should be able to deal with it better and pick yourself up to get on with it faster too.

Your first draft will still be terrible.
Every first draft of every novel, whether it’s your first or your hundredth will still need a significant amount of editing to get it looking good. You’ve pretty much just got to accept this as part and parcel of the job and be prepared to go back and break down, reshape, rewrite, kill off, and start again before your novel begins to take shape.

Writing the second novel is just as exciting as writing your first, if not more so. Just remember that all writers, no matter how experienced and successful, are  all on a journey and can learn more and improve more no matter how good they already are. If you keep writing and remain open to learning, you are bound to get better and your second novel will make you even more proud, determined and elated than your first ever did.

If you have written more than one book, I bet you can vouch for what is being said. Even though I have not done much work lately on my new story, I can honestly say that that first draft is not too great. And writing a fictional diary is a far cry from writing a memoir. But doing different genres of writing is a way of experimenting with different kinds of writing. Again, the time change is making me excessively tired, but I plan to work on writing whenever I feel up to it, even if it's only a little at a time. I do want to get somewhat better.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Use Your Writing to Inspire


Use Your Writing To Inspire - Writer's

Writers write for many different reasons. Some do it purely because they feel they have a piece of writing inside them that wants to come out, others do it because they want people to understand their stories, and some do it because they want their writing to help other people.
Whatever your reasons for doing it, an excellent piece of writing has to connect with your readers. There are just as many reasons that readers read as there are reasons why writers write. However, most people will tell you their favourite book moved them, inspired them or influenced them in some way.
Writing is an influential tool, and writers who do see their work read by lots of people have the power to use their writing to get a message across, to motivate people to act or to change their way of looking at things.
When we embark on a new piece of writing, whatever it may be, it is important to think about how it will be received. You may wish to shock your reader, to anger them, to make them laugh or cry - but having a firm idea of how you would like to or have intended for them to react will help to shape your piece and make you consider how you hope to evoke that reaction as your story progresses.
Of course, inspiration takes many different forms. You don’t have to ensure all your stories have an underlying message to end world hunger or create world peace! However, the knowledge that your writing does have a moral, a purpose, and could potentially reach out to someone and make them think they are not alone, or that they are a little bit more understood, or inspire them to be more generous, kinder, or braver - that can be a beautiful thing.

There are many devices writers can use to inspire their readers:
The aspirational protagonist. Readers love an inspiring hero or heroine. Someone who demonstrates all the qualities they would love to have themselves. Bravery, fearlessness, compassion, kindness, generosity and so much more - a protagonist who we fall in love with can influence readers to act more like them.

Overcoming of obstacles
In every story, the protagonist has to overcome a series of obstacles to achieve their goal. Persevering when all is lost, facing their biggest fears, refusing to give up - all these are common traits in many stories and inspire the reader to do the same with their own lives.

Use of emotion
The better you are at writing emotion, the more poignant, inspiring, exciting, heartbreaking, exhilarating, and nail-biting your book will be. A great writer is a master at perfectly capturing emotion, and when we read these beautifully written pieces, they can touch us, motivate us, comfort us and make us see things in a different light.

The ability to relate
Sometimes when we read a story, it truly moves us, as if it was written for us personally. People want to feel as though they are not alone and being able to relate to your characters and understand their passions, their loves, their joy, and their pain, can be incredibly inspiring indeed.

Being brave in your writing choices
Remember, some of the most inspirational writing has come from writers who have dared to focus on subjects that most would not. Being genuinely expressive and brave when it comes to your writing means you are more likely to truly reach out to people and inspire them in so many different ways.

By thinking about how you can inspire your readers with your writing you are not only adding another dimension to your work but also are likely to make your writing better too. People want to be inspired. They want to read stories that move them and change them and make them think differently about people or the world around them. So next time you write a story, think about what a difference you can make, how you can influence others and what positive changes you can bring to people’s lives. Impactful, empowered writing that truly speaks to your readers is the best sort of writing after all.

Having been inspired by another writer to write on the subject of depression and Prozac, I now hope to get my story published hopes of possibly inspiring others to do the same. The ability to relate was one thing that made me want to write  my story. Others no doubt have gone through the same thing, but with different circumstances. Even so, they might feel they the story was written for them personally, as it says in the paragraph above.  I seemed to have been thinking this way all along. That being said, I want even more for my memoir to see the light, even if it means trying to self-publish it.  

As I said earlier this week, I was told by my instructor that my story did not seem ready for publishing, but that the decisions a bout when I think it's done and ready are mine to make. I still haven't gotten back to the story, but am hoping to. I've just been too tired this week, what with the time change. That always exhausts me easily. But when I feel up to, I will get back to my writing, either the memoir or the novel, or even something else, if I should think of something new. I've read some fairy tale retelling and now I feel I want to try one myself.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Humor Reading Challenge 2018--My Signup Post

Since I got past the highest level on this one this year, I think I can go for that many again in 2018.

Choose a level from below.  You may go up a level, but not down.
Cartoonist: 1-5 books
Humor Columnist: 6-10 books 
Comedy Writer:  11-15 books
Stand Up Comedian: More than 15 books 

My Books: