Howdy again! Welcome back to my little neck of the woods full of books. Literally full of books. If this is your first time dropping by I’m an indie author (Check out the Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga on Amazon.) and a book worm.
I’ve chosen for many reasons to remain in self-isolation through the month of May. This means I still have plenty of time to read. I mean, I always make time for it, but reading is the perfect distraction for when I’m not writing.
Last month I participated in the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon and this month I’m participating in #Quarantineathon. It’s a lot shorter than the O.W.L.s, which I really appreciate. One book a week. That’s it. Good thing for me too, because for the first week I choose an almost 600 page book. I started it on the 5th and just finished it about an hour ago. I thought I might not get through it tonight and almost regretted reading a shorter unrelated book earlier in the week.
The prompt for the readathon this week is to read a book about humanity’s hard times to remind us that we will get through this.
I read a lot of WWII fiction and non-fiction when I’m in the mood. This whole book is just haunting. It’s beautifully written but that adds to just how haunting it is. The story follows the fictionalized lives of children in a Nazi hospital and some of the staff too. So many parts of this book broke my heart.
Part of me wishes I would’ve chosen a shorter book or a book about a different hardship, because this was a difficult read for me: in length, subject matter, and the translated language. It was worth it, though. I won’t be forgetting the images from this book any time soon.
I’ll be back to talk about the readathon next weekend. The prompt for this coming week is to read a book about someone who would be high risk for COVID19 and to stay home for them.
I love these prompts. I was searching out May readathons to participate in and found this one on a new Youtube channel. Well, new to me. Getting Hygge With It is freaking fantastic. I’ve watched so many of her videos this week. If you’re into the BookTube Community of Youtube you should definitely check her out.
Okay, I don’t have to start this blog with I should be working on my novel… Actually, I should be reading. I’m participating in #Quarantinathon. Like a dumbass I decided i could squeeze in another book before I started on my prompt book for the week. So, yeah I’m a bit behind. I had originally planned to review all the books I read for this readathon but I might not, because this one is a fictionalized account of a young man who spent 3 years in basically a Nazi hospital for children who were disabled, had learning disabilities, or were basically anyone they didn’t like. I know the prompt is about reading a time we did overcome already, but I’m not so sure what to say in a review about that.
If you’re one of my readers dropping by to see if I hinted at anything about Sky’s book: Yep. I wrote today. Today Sky and Rune had a wedding they needed to be at.
Onward! This advice is for folks who are writing their first or maybe their second book. If you consider yourself new this is for you.
Writer’s block is a myth.
Writing is hard! Some days it sucks! Other days it rocks! The truth is if you’re going to do this in the long term you just gotta do it. If you wait for inspiration you’ll never find it.
2. Don’t edit as you go.
Okay, some writers do this, but if this is your first or second book don’t do it! Seriously, don’t do it! Just get your story out and worry about editing and polishing it up later. Getting it on the page can be the hard part in the beginning.
3. Don’t expect your friends or family to want to read every word you write.
They don’t want. Most probably never will. Unless every person you know is a bookworm don’t count on their support. Seriously, don’t do it. You have to be your own cheerleader. In a perfect world you’d have all the support in the world. Some of my family still doesn’t understand what I do or why I do it. Most of them have never picked up one of my books. Honestly, I wouldn’t want them to. When people you know read your book they’ll go one of two ways. Either they’ll say they love everything or they’ll hack you to death saying it’s horrible because either they’re jealous or are just horrible people who criticize everyone and everything. Try to make writer friends, but don’t expect them to read everything you write either. Seriously, we can’t write if we’re reading everyone’s manuscript to give out tips that can come from beta readers.
4. Don’t totally base your main character on yourself.
Yes, you’re going to relate to some of the characters you write, but you shouldn’t write yourself into the book. It’ll cloud your judgement and will read like fanfiction. I love fanfiction – I do. TWD. HP. Yep. I love it – when I’m in the mood for it. So, seriously, write your books but don’t try to make it secretly a biography, because most people have really boring lives – myself included.
5. Nope, you don’t have to write every day.
This is another myth. Yes, some writers write every day. I do not. I try for one day a week off, but I write 4-6 K words a day when I do write.
Which brings me to the most important tip I’ll ever give you:
6. Stop comparing yourself to other writers – new or established. If I write that much 6 days a week doesn’t mean you have to. Maybe you write more than me. Maybe you write less. Either is great. Just write your book and stop worrying.
Usually when I’m writing a non-readathon blog I always have to say I should be writing on my novel. Today, that is not the case. It’s a scheduled day off for once. I’m 50k words into what will likely be the longest book of the Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga. Seriously, I think I’m like a third of the way through it. Maybe a third. That’s a bit overwhelming to me.
This book is finally bringing home the wayward twin brother of Darian Hemlock. I’ve known most of his story of what happened in the Other World for a long time. I knew how he and Rune met and where they exchanged their claiming vows. I knew the name of their first child and some other stuff I can’t write here because of spoilers. I’ve looked forward to this book – I just didn’t realize that it would be this damn long to tell. I mean, I’ve written long books before. Bane and Lee’s book (Healer’s Oath, but most people just call it Bane and Lee’s book. I don’t mind and I don’t think the guys would either. lol) is my longest and readers usually love the format or they don’t. I’m okay with that, because not everyone has to love my books. Though, in my FB group my only question for passage is what is your favorite Hemlock Mpreg Universe Book and the answer is usually Bane and Lee’s (Healer’s Oath) or Cinder and Seth (Saving Cinder.)
In some ways I’m nervous about this book, because I think readers have some expectations and I don’t know if Sky is going to be who they expect. I know some people were upset about how Monta and some of the others didn’t like Darian much or thought he was too bossy. Sky and Darian have a lot to work out so if you measure characters by if they like Darian you might not like Sky all that much. I love him. I don’t have favorites between them, because well I adore them both. I’m probably more Sky than Darian, because I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep in my family. As the only dragon (at the time) in a wolf pack Sky definitely struggled with that.
As the story unfold and we discover what kept Sky in the Other World, I have a chance to visit the Hemlock Mountain and Night Star Village (where Voron is from in book 9) of the past. Some old faces revisit that couldn’t otherwise. Last night I wondered what would’ve happened if I chosen to follow the wayward brother instead of the responsible one. How would my series have turned out differently? I’ll never know, but I’m happy with how the saga has turned out. There’s two or three more books before I end the saga. That makes me so sad. Two or three, because I don’t know if want to have Star Hemlock Night Star’s book in this series or in a future one. I think he fits in better with the future one. Though, since the book that comes after Sky’s is Colton’s maybe there is some room for another young person’s book.
My plans after the saga include getting Hemlock Fairy Tale’s caught up on the timeline (If you’re waiting for the next book in that series, don’t worry! It’s coming! Likely Carter will be the first beta to be part of a two person main couple in my works. I say two person, because obviously Ivan will be part of Colton’s story.
After I catch Fairy Tales up I have some standalone novel ideas I’ve been tossing around. I might even write one or two of them before I revisit Fairy Tales, because I think after writing 5 books straight in a series (Which is my plan as of now) I’ll need a break from series for a bit.
Once Hemlock Fairy Tales is caught up to the timeline I plan to start a new Hemlock series exploring the adult lives of some of my favorite character’s children. I’ve wondered what their lives would be like and for some of them I already have answers.
So, I enjoyed last month’s O.W.L.s Magical Readathon so much that I had to find another one to participate in this month. I considered Bout of Books, but that one is for just reading more. Honestly, I’m reading more than ever. That’s not a challenge this year. So, I went on the search because I wanted prompts and this one hosted/created by Getting Hygge With It on YouTube is a readathon I can get behind.
Quarnatineathon – is a readathon for the modern times and reminder that staying in doors is good not only for our health right now, but for those who have to go out to work and those at high risk. I won’t tell anyone what to do – but honestly, my state’s starting to lift restriction soon and they can kiss my arse. I won’t be going out and resuming normal activities. I’ve been telling everyone I know to listen to scientists and doctors and watch the data roll in themselves. The economy will never be worth your life. That’s why I love the message behind this readathon. The prompts the host came up with are fantastic and suit the situation.
I’ll link her video at the end for everyone to check out, but here’s how it works. Short. Simple. To the Point. Just the way I like things. (Well, sometimes I like things like a long list of prompts relating to my Hogwarts courses, but I like stuff like this too. I’m complicated.)
The readathon runs from May 3- 30th. One prompt for each week of the month.
WEEK 1 – Read a book that explores the hard times humanity has faced before. We WILL get through this too!
WEEK 2 – Read a book about a character who would be at risk from the coronavirus. Stay inside for them!
WEEK 3– Show essential workers some love by reading a book about an essential worker as a main character.
WEEK 4– Read a book about what you miss most from the normal world. Live vicariously through it!
Since this readathon only has 4 prompts I’ll read other books throughout the month too, but my TBR is as follows.
WEEK 1 – Read a book that explores the hard times humanity has faced before. We WILL get through this too!
The Am Spiegelgrund clinic, in glittering Vienna, masqueraded as a well-intentioned reform school for wayward boys and girls and a home for chronically ill children. The reality, however, was very different: in the wake of Germany’s annexation of Austria on the eve of World War II, its doctors, nurses, and teachers created a monstrous parody of the institution’s benign-sounding brief. The Nazi regime’s euthanasia program would come to determine the fate of many of the clinic’s inhabitants.
Through the eyes of a child inmate, Adrian Ziegler, and a nurse, Anna Katschenka, Steve Sem-Sandberg, the author of the award-winning The Emperor of Lies, explores the very meaning of survival. An absorbing, emotionally overwhelming novel, rich in incident and character, The Chosen Ones is obliquely illuminated by the author’s sharp sense of the absurd. Passionately serious, meticulously researched, and deeply profound, this extraordinary and dramatic novel bears witness to oppression and injustice, and offers invaluable and necessary insight into an intolerable chapter in Austria’s past.
WEEK 2 – Read a book about a character who would be at risk from the coronavirus. Stay inside for them!
Once a century, for only six days, the bay around a small Washington island glows like a water-bound aurora. Dr. Rachel Bell, a scientist studying the 100-Year Miracle and the tiny sea creatures that create it, knows a secret about the phenomenon that inspired the region’s myths and folklore: the rare green water may contain a power that could save Rachel’s own life (and change the world). When Rachel connects with Harry and Tilda, a divorced couple cohabiting once again as Harry enters the last stages of a debilitating disease, Harry is pulled into Rachel’s obsession and hope as they both grasp at this once-in-a-lifetime chance to save themselves.
But the Miracle does things to people. Strange and mysterious things. And as these things begin to happen, Rachel has only six days to uncover and control the Miracle’s secrets before the waters go dark for another hundred years.
WEEK 3- Show essential workers some love by reading a book about an essential worker as a main character.
The fearless memoir of a young forensic pathologist’s rookie season as a NYC medical examiner, and the cases, hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex, that shaped her as both a physician and a mother.
Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation, performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy’s two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587.
Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of America’s most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies, and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on shows like CSI and Law and Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.
WEEK 4- Read a book about what you miss most from the normal world. Live vicariously through it! (More on why I chose this one for this prompt in a later blog.)
In this follow up to CALL THE MIDWIFE, Jennifer Worth, a midwife working in the docklands area of East London in the 1950s tells more stories about the people she encountered.
There’s Jane, who cleaned and generally helped out at Nonnatus House – she was taken to the workhouse as a baby and was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat. Peggy and Frank’s parents both died within 6 months of each other and the children were left destitute. At the time, there was no other option for them but the workhouse. The Reverend Thornton-Appleby-Thorton, a missionary in Africa, visits the Nonnatus nuns and Sister Julienne acts as matchmaker. And Sister Monica Joan, the eccentric ninety-year-old nun, is accused of shoplifting some small items from the local market. She is let off with a warning, but then Jennifer finds stolen jewels from Hatton Garden in the nun’s room.
These stories give a fascinating insight into the resilience and spirit that enabled ordinary people to overcome their difficulties.
This is just part of what I’ll read in May, but I invite everyone who is able – stay home, read, game, make art. Try making sourdough bread and dalgona coffee (I like this one) and all those other things that are becoming cliche as we stay inside. Try them or try something else and start a new trend.
Yesterday evening I finished reading Nicholas Spark’s Message in a Bottle. It was the last book I needed to fulfill the prompts to be a healer through the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon (along with my extra lectures.) Since there are still 8 days left in the month I’m going to go for a clean sweep of the prompts. Yep, I was that kid in school too.
The books above in green are the ones I needed for my readathon goals and have finished readidng. The ones under those are the ones I need to make a clean sweep of the readathon.
I think besides being stuck at home what helped me the most this time around is the fact I changed out books that fit the prompts and my reading whims and moods. We’ll see how the rest of the month goes, but either way I’m ready for my N.E.W.T.s come August 2020!
Finally! I’m writing a blog at an appropriate time and not when I should be working on my novel! Book 9 of the Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga is off to the editor! I can’t wait to bring it out for everyone to read, but for now it’s time to catch up on my own reading. My O.W.L.s are going a bit slower than I thought they would.
I know it’s only the 8th, but I’m behind by my own logic.I should finish a book about every 2 days to get through all 8 of them this month. It’s the eighth and I’ve finished one. My Potions O.W.L. at that. I’m in the middle of my O.W.L.s for Care of Magical Creatures and History of Magic. My TBR has shifted a little bit as my mood has changed. I switched from the Christmas Carol to the Most Dangerous Game for my Potions O.W.L. Then I switched my History of Magic to The Witchcraft of Salem Village. It’s non-fic about the Salem witch trails. I think it’s in the spirit of the O.W.L. I’m currently reading that one and Hum if You Don’t Know the Words. I’m enjoying them both for different reasons.
I’ve put together a handy spreadsheet to track my progress. I should say I’ve also finished two books I wanted to read that were not for the O.W.L.s and that’s why I’m behind on the readathon. I’m reading just not what I should be reading. lol As usual, this list is subject to change on O.W.L.s I haven’t started.
Soo… Tomorrow the magical journey begins! Yes, that’s right! Tomorrow is the first day of O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon 2020! I have a lot of work (AKA Book 9 of the Hemlock Wolf Pack Saga) going on next month. As well as Dewey’s and a personal project I’m considering. I’m unsure about how to go about the latter, but some planning will definitely be needed if I’m going to balance everything!
I’m still really excited for April to get here. With all the crazy stuff going on in the world I need a good distraction that allows me to connect with the world while still practicing social distancing. I may be a little over cautious I refuse to even order out. Though, everyone I know is doing it. I want a calzone, but not not enough to take the risk. At this point, I’d just rather be too safe than not safe enough. Anxiety or caution. Frig if I know. lol
So, first off, Book 9 is on schedule. I already read (I’m averaging 12 books a month as of right now) so I don’t think the readathon will interfere with that.
In the mean time to get ready for the month – I’ve made the first reading journal I’ve had in years. It’s really cutesy with drawings and stuff, but my phone won’t take a decent photo of the pages. That sucks, but life goes on.
I’ve sorta planned out my reading order, but that’s always subject to change. I’m the sort of reader who follows their whims and moods. So, these readathons are always a challenge for me. Dewey’s Readathon is at the end of the month and I’m hoping to use that as a catch up for anything I don’t get to throughout the first part of them month.
First up, I’m tackling my second largest book (the largest if Order of the Phoenix, but I love that book and can finish it in a day if I have nothing else to do). My first O.W.L. read will be for my Transfiguration course. I’ll be reading Incubus Dreams by Laurell K. Hamilton. This is a reread for me, but I love the Anita Blake series. I wanted to read Micah, but that book is still at a friend’s house waiting to be shipped after the plague ends.
What’s your first book for O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon?
I’ve talked to friends, family, and readers who are all looking for a way to fill in time they’re spending at home. Of course, reading is our number one go-to, but everyone could use a bit of spice in their life.
So without any further ado… Let’s get onto it. readathons first. Of course, I’m biased and my favorite readathon is
O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon.
It’s fun and a two parter with the first happening in April. Yep, I’m a big HP nerd (Proud Slytherin for life!!) and though the readathon doesn’t have to include the HP books it is based on the exams given at Hogwarts. I participated and passed my O.W.L.’s last April. My N.E.W.T.s in August were interrupted by some crap. So, I didn’t finish the challenge. This year, I’m trying again. Except I’m not going for writing. I’m going for healer. I might blog my readathon experience, but I’m not 100% positive I will.
Book Roast from Youtube (the host and creator of the readathon) can explain it much better than me. I’ll link her video below. FAQs, Career paths, and prompts can all be found in the description below her video on Youtube. The first part of this readathon runs the length of April.
Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon
This happens on April 25th this year according to the director’s Twitter. I participated in this one once or twice last year. It was great fun. Basically, you read as much as you can in 24 Hours. If my writing schedule allows it I will be doing this one this year. You can find more information here.
The PopSugar Reading Challenge
This is a year long challenge and you’re not behind if you didn’t already start. You can check out the prompts here.
Off the Grid Readathon April 17-19
This readathon encourages readers to put down their phones and read. This readathon encourages you to take as much time as you can away from all the daily distractions and really focus on reading. You can find more information here.
Queer Lit Readathon March 28 & 29 (weekend edition.)
This readathon’s title explains it all. It’s all about LGBTQ+ reading and books. Hope my schedule let’s me participate in this one before O.W.L.’s start.
There are many many more readathons and reading groups spread across the internet. One I’m personally active is r/52Book over on Reddit. It’s a subreddit for those trying to read 52 books in a year, but anyone with a yearly reading goal (bigger or smaller) is welcome over there. It’s a friendly place to chat with other bookworms and to get reading recommendations.
Before anyone says it: Yes, I should be working on my novel. I’m 30 chapters into a 42 chapter holiday novel. I just need a little change of pace today. I’m tired. I’m brain dead. (Probably from my attempt to cut the soda. That will be remedied soon.) In the mean time, I thought I’d share some self care tips for writers. Though, most of these will be useful for everyone.
1. Do Helpful Things for Your Future Self
Yeah, you don’t want to wash those dishes tonight. Or maybe you don’t want to put the laundry away tonight. Whatever it is you’re putting off doing before you go to bed – do it now. Future you will thank you. There’s no worse feeling than waking up with chores waiting for you.
2. Make Your Own Stress Measuring Scale
Mine is based on those silly little face charts you see in hospitals when doctors ask you how much something hurts. I measure stress the same way and provide appropriate care. If it’s below five I carry on with the day as normal and just make sure to squeeze in some downtime to myself that day. 6-7 I stop right then and do whatever I can to fix the problem (sometimes there’s nothing. It’s just what it is.) If I can’t fix the problem I take some downtime. For me usually half an hour of reading will level me out enough to get back to work. I know this isn’t the case for a lot of people. You can’t just stop working and take a break whenever you like. I write full time at home and have this privilege. Anything above a 7 and something has to change big time. Honestly, since moving I’ve only hit a 8 once and just needed to take a step back and get a new perspective.
3.Schedule Your Goals
I know this one might belong more on a success guide, but for me having a schedule of what I need to do every day to make my goals happen keeps me level headed. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy every step or even want to do that piece everyday, but with everything outlined it’s easier to remember why I’m doing it. The why is what makes the world go round.
4. Meal Prep
I recommend this to everyone, but if you live alone and work a lot of hours this can be a life saver. Cook a lot on day and eat on it over the next few days or longer. Your freezer is your friend. Some days I’d skip lunch if I couldn’t throw something in the microwave and chow down quick and get back to work. I know, mindful eating people, that’s not good, but it’s better than not eating at all.
5. Set aside ‘headspace’ time and stick to it.
There’s this meme all over the internet about spending more time ‘imagining’ or thinking about your story than writing it. This is a healthy part of writing and creativity. Though, if you want to do it long term you really need to get a handle on it. Sure, if you’re laying in bed thinking about your story as you fall asleep you’re probably fine.If you sit down at the keyboard and imagine instead of write you’ll only be frustrated with yourself later. Set a time limit on this and write. For me this is a self care tip, because I write to pay the bills and if I’m not writing the bills don’t get paid. If they don’t get paid there is no such thing as self care in my life.
6. Track your time.
I write professionally. Well, full time and it’s my sole source of income. After I moved, I started tracking my time. No, not limiting my activities, but tracking my working hours to see where my time was really going and what wasn’t working for me. As I’ve perfected the schedule I get more writing done than ever. Last week I wrote for 12 hours and 22 minutes and came in at around 26.5k words. Yes, I write faster than some people and I’m not saying you should aim for any certain time. Before that I was writing about 15 hours a week and pulling in about the same in word count (15-17k.) Tracking my time and making sure I had enough time to do all parts of my job (writing, editing, rewrites, marketing, social media, cover work, etc) allowed me to focus on my writing during my writing time. This has allowed me to have a lot more free time to unwind by focusing on one task at a time instead of being in the middle of a sentence and remembering something else I needed to do.
7. Sleep. Seriously – Get Some!
Before I moved work was my number one priority. I’m a classic workaholic and I’m not happy unless I’m working. BUT I’m not happy while I’m working if I’m dragging ass and brain dead. So now, sleep is my top priority. Sure, it annoys my friends that I disappear so early in the evening and turn my phone on do not disturb, but me and my pillows have improved our relationship. Also, from time and word count tracking I’ve discovered the better sleep I get the more I write the next day.
I’m not participating in Nano this year, but I’ve participated many times in the past. My life and career also revolves around writing (don’t judge me.)
I know a lot of blogs and videos talk about NaNoWriMo prep in the months and weeks right before the start of November, but what if you’re a chronic procrastinator or decided to participate at the last minute? This doesn’t mean you’re doomed. It just means you have to be creative in the way you plan out your month of writing. If you’re already prepared maybe this can act as your checklist and jog your brain of something you’ve forgotten to do.
Plotting isn’t the end of the world
Yes, I’m mostly a plotter. I swear by it and none of my books would be alive today without it. Plotting doesn’t mean you have to write a novel length outline of your story. Here are some quick plotting methods to help you get started. Remember, you can always tweak and change of the details.
The 3 Act Method: Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. These are the components a book cannot exist without. Grab a notebook or open up your favorite word processor and jot down these parts of your book. You can fill in the other details later as you get to it. Having some direction is better than no direction.
Follow the hero’s journey format. There’s a lot of information out there about this so I won’t bore you with it here. If you’ve never heard of it before checkout one of this book.
Write down all your main scenes on note cards and put them in order. I love this method because you can easily change the order of events.
Keep a writer’s journal
This is one of my best kept secrets. Before I started dedicating a notebook to this I had notes and scraps of paper all over the place and even pinned to the wall. Now I keep it all in my notebook. Ideas, character info, whether John Doe is blonde or a redhead. What Kelly ate for breakfast. Whatever you need to remember for later jot down. This is the journal I’m using right now. You can even put your plot in the journal if you wanted to.
Ask a friend to read your work periodically
I know long time writers will cringe at this advice. Stephen King even says to write with the door closed and I do, but in my early days of writing I needed that audience. Also, having someone who is ready to read your work at the end of every week will give you extra motivation to get your words on the blank page.
Decide how to track your word count, progress, and work still needed
It doesn’t yell at you for being behind like some do and it allows you to customize your writing plan.
Schedule 5 days in November where you will aim to write 5k.
I know that sounds like a lot of words and for some people it is. I aim for this number almost every writing day. I know it’s not sustainable for everyone, but hear me out on this one.
Five days of 5k words each is 25k words. That’s half your words for the month. Even if you don’t hit those 5k words – you might get a day or two ahead on each scheduled day. Things will pop up that keep you from writing. As someone who writes full time some days I view the world as a series of obstacles between me and the keyboard.
Let me know your favorite way to prep for Nano in the comments.