A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ramblings on writing (with a little real life thrown in for good measure)

You may have noticed my lack of posts this week. That's because I've decided to drop down to three posts a week. It's going to be easier on me right now so I can focus more on writing Marked and getting it done by October 1st, which as you may remember from an earlier post is my current writing goal. I'm having a hard time with it right now so I figured I'd do something to give myself more time to work on it.

I'm also not happy with the way Marked is going. I want to write darker fantasy, somewhat similar to what GRRM writes. Not as epic as his stuff is. I don't want to confuse my readers with that many POVs. Not to mention I'm not nearly good enough a write to pull that off at this time. (Who knows what can happen in the future?) But Marked is once again turning out to be too light and fluffy for what I want. I know what I want, I just can't seem to produce it yet. I'm starting it over, which means moving my goal out to November 1st. Which is pushing it a little because I do want a little break before NaNo this year.

So my new goal is to get this new version finished by the third week of October. I know I can do it. I completed almost 100k in one month last year (November, for NaNo...I'd have hit it too except for health problems). So I'm putting my entire effort into getting this new idea for Marked off the ground and into a finished first draft form by October 25th.

Himself and a co-worker are discussing a possible business venture. They'll both continue working where they are for the time being. But they're going to see about creating a line of niquid (the liquid used in the vaping e-cigarettes commonly referred to as 'vapes'...at least around here they are) to sell. They're also going to do some other things, but that's the first step. I don't know how well that's going to turn out but we'll have to wait and see.

Sorry for the more personal nature of this post. I'll be back to my normal rambly self next Monday. Maybe. I hope. ;)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Another fragment from Beauty and the Beast

Today I thought I'd share another little snippet from my Beauty and the Beast retelling.

She stumbled as her feet found every rock in the path. The chill grew behind her. She couldn't risk a glance over her shoulder without the chance of falling. Her hands tingled and the pull on her was even greater now that she was out of the castle. She wrapped herself in as much energy as she could, stealing some of the vitality from the weeds and animals that dwelled nearby.
She reached the end of the path and looked over her shoulder. Ice slowly made its way down the path she'd just run. Rocks cracked beneath the cold. All around her the villagers slept, not knowing what was coming. She could feel the tiny points of life vanishing as plants and animals were killed as it followed it's inexorable path. She stopped and reached out once again. She seized on every life she found. Taking only a fraction of the power released by them, she sent her magic to stop the curse. The gods smiled on her this time for the ice stopped at the edge of the village.
She could feel her own spell from the castle making its way down now too. A different curse would soon be upon the villagers. This one she couldn't stop. She didn't want to. There were some things that she couldn't forgive.

 It was dawn when she returned to her home. There, she saw her five children sitting near the fire. Her oldest son Baldric was sitting closest to the heat with all four of his younger siblings surrounding him. The two youngest, Ceinwen and Ronen, were sitting in his lap. Isabella and Grainne were sitting on stools. All five of them were watching the door.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My sister and her cancer

I hate cancer. I have a good reason too. It killed both of my grandmothers and my mom. Now it's killing my oldest sister.

My dad went to Washington two weeks ago to do two things: meet my cousin's wife who we've never seen before and celebrate my cousin's 50th birthday (he's an Australian citizen now and has been since he got married and we were pretty sure he'd never come back to the States because of how expensive travel is), and to spend some time with my sister who's dying.

I won't go much into my dad's visit with my cousin. My dad got to meet his wife. She was nice and fits in well with the family. My aunt loves her daughter-in-law.

I want to talk for a moment about the visit my dad had with my sister. He told me all about it last week when I returned his car to him. He let me borrow it for errands while he was gone. He told me my sister is losing weight, is going bald, and is on oxygen. The first two I can understand because that's what happened the last time she battled cancer. The oxygen is a new development for her.

And yes, I said the last time she battled cancer. This is her third go around with it. The problem this time is it has metastasized so there's no chance it's going to go away completely. She had five good years with her family with the hope that cancer wouldn't return. That ended a month ago with the new diagnosis.

My dad said my sister told him they're now looking at quality of life instead of quantity. They haven't given up on treating the various problems she's having with the cancer, but they're not sure how much more time they can give her. As a result, my sister is doing as many things as her health will let her.

When my dad went to Vancouver (WA) to see her, they went to the beach several times. My sister carted around her portable oxygen tank and went out to explore with them. They couldn't do the bonfire her husband wished they could because she can't handle the smoke. Someone a little way down from where they were having a snack was cooking on a barbecue and my sister couldn't handle the little bit of smoke that reached them from that.

But my sister poked at jelly fish, helped my younger sister collect shells, let the ocean chase her up the beach. Dad said if it wasn't for the oxygen tank, you wouldn't have known she was sick. She was being as close to her normal self as she could.

When they left, she promised to call every week to tell dad what's going on. If she's too sick, she'll make her husband do it. But one way or the other, dad's going to be kept in the loop. Dad said he'll tell me. He's passing the info along to my brother and other older sister as well.

When I have the ability to donate to anything again, I'm going to ask Himself if we can donate to that. I want to support something that's touched my life deeply. It'll be too late for my sister, and my few dollars won't make much difference, but maybe it'll be enough to give someone a dose of medicine that might help treat their cancer better.

If you have a cause you feel passionate about and can donate to it, try to find a way to budget a few dollars for it. You never know what your donation can do.

And hug your family members. You don't know when something will happen to take them away from you.

Friday, August 15, 2014

I love my library

I am a firm supporter of support your favorite authors by buying their books. I'm also a firm supporter of support your local library.

I go to my library for two reasons. One, to find old favorites to read. Two, to find books I haven't from new authors so I can maybe find new favorites.

Last Thursday I went to the library to pick up two books by Sherrilyn Kenyon. They're both the first books in two of her series. I've heard about her, seen posts by her on Facebook when they were shared by others, but knew nothing about her books. So I looked up book titles and found she had multiple series. I picked the first books in two of her series and ordered them in. They were in different libraries from the branch close to me and in order to get them I needed to put them on hold so they would come in.

Once they came in, I brought them home. I have a new book (as in a brand-new-just-arrived-in-the-library book) that I only have for two weeks, so I'm finishing that one first. It's a non-fiction one about the six spies that helped George Washington during the war. They've managed to identify five of the six, but the sixth – a woman – has as of yet not been identified. It caught my attention and the thought of spies helping our soldiers fascinates me. That's something I might not have found out about except for going to the library.

Don't get me wrong, I've checked out some real duds too. There was one non-fiction book about Elizabeth of York that seemed more interested in sensationalizing things rather than telling me the actual story about her. I turned it in within a week of getting it. Then there's a book I checked out because I saw the third book in the series on the “new” shelf. It was an interesting story, but I couldn't get into it because it just didn't resonate with me. I like the author (David Weber, who co-wrote 1633 in the Ring of Fire series starting with 1632 by Eric Flint), but this particular story of his is not for me.

That reminds me. I should see if the library has 1632 and the other books in the series. I've only read up through 1633 and there are two or three more I think, not to mention the books that have the short story collections.

Another reason I love my library is I can go there and work on writing without any distractions. Granted, I have to have Himself drop me off now since I can't drive the truck (manual transmissions and I don't mix). But he can listen to his music, his anime, his movies, his whatever his background noise of choice is without me telling him to turn it down. I can put my earbuds in and not have to turn them up loud to block out his stuff. It's quiet, I have access to free wifi, and if I need reference materials and I can't find what I want online I can go dig up books on the subject (if the library system has them in its catalog).

My library has also caught up with the digital age. They have ways of borrowing e-books and audiobooks. I've borrowed a couple e-books, though I haven't managed to borrow an audiobook. It's a little more difficult, not to mention I run linux not Windows and that's part of what you need to get the audiobooks.

Libraries are awesome and should be supported. How about you? What's your favorite thing about a library?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Titles and names

I'm sure you've all figured out by now that I'm a writer. Dare I say, an author (unpublished though I may be). One thing I've had other authors tell me is they have trouble with names. Character names and story titles, to be specific. I can understand the feeling, with titles at least. Names have always been a little easier for me.

I use baby naming sites and a random name generator for my character names. Sometimes I look for a specific meaning. Other times I look for a name that has the right sound and feel for the story I'm writing. I love collecting names and when I find one that I like, it goes on a list. Usually a list of characters in the story, but I'll save it for later. With Marked, I've changed my main character's name five times now. It's currently settled on Merete, but that may change again if I decide I need something else. But I like the name Merete, and plan (so far) on keeping it.

It's titles that I have issues with. Marked is the only one with a title set in semi-permeable stone. (It might change when I get it published.) Right now the rest of the stories I'm developing are named for the main character (Raghnall's story, Anila and Malakai, Caer's story) or they're named based on something key in the story (Psionics, Hackers, Fang Faces). I'll eventually come up with titles for all of them, and Raghnall, Anila and Malakai, and Caerbre do all have possible tentative titles though I'm not sure about them.

Titles have to come from a factor of the story, I think. Titles need to reflect what the book is about. It's a reader's first glimpse of what's inside, after the cover art. They're going to see the title and wonder what the book is about. Then they'll pick it up and read the back, or look at the sample chapters for e-books. It's what will draw them in and entice their curiosity.

There have been times where I've passed books by that had beautiful cover art but the title didn't impress me. If someone recommended them to me, I went back and read the cover copy or the sample chapters. But the title and cover art are what will push me to check to see what the book is about.

What about you? For all my author friends, do you have trouble with names and titles? Do you find yourself passing over a book if the title doesn't catch your attention?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An introduction to Merete and to the world of Marked

Another snippet, this time from Marked. Here's a glimpse into the life of the main character, a piece of her culture that colors how she deals with people outside her home village.

Merete finished the song and the images faded into nothingness. The villagers were silent for a moment before they rose and returned to their homes. Merete slipped her gittern back into its case and followed the exodus back to her family's house.
She put the instrument in her room then joined her mother in the kitchen. “Heli, is the rice ready?” Hedvig asked.
Yes mother,” Heli said.
Get it on the table,” Hedvig said. Heli scooped some into two bowls and carried it over. She set it at the two spots already laid out. “Merete, put this on now. Hurry, before they get home.” Her mother handed her two plates full of fish and vegetables. She placed them at the seats just as her father and Heli's husband entered the house.
The two men said nothing to the women. They sat down and began to eat. “Have you heard what Kobus has done now?” Olavi asked. Her father's face was set in an angry expression.
No, what?” Pauwel asked. He took a drink of his tea.
He was caught trying to drag Mimmi into the forest. This is the third woman he's assaulted in the past lunar. The Elders fear there are more who refuse to speak up. They're going to banish him. The men have been called to gather before going into the fields. His shame is his father's, and Kristjan is very angry.”
Kristjan did nothing to control him, and he's just gotten worse since his service to the Emperor ended,” Pauwel said. “I understand Kobus is the only son in a three generation house, but that doesn't mean he should get away with anything he wants.”
The Elders are dealing with it now,” Olavi said. “We'll be rid of him.”
Merete's performance was very good tonight,” Pauwel said.
She's very lucky the Elders are letting her read the histories,” Olavi said. “Her songs are well crafted though and her images true to the events.”
Their conversation turned to the mundane topic of the coming harvest. They lingered over their tea when they finished but finally left. The dishes were swept away and one smaller one was put in their place. Heli's son came up and ate his dinner. As soon as he was done he ran off to play with the other boys while there was still light enough to do so.
Once the dishes were cleaned, Merete and Heli set out four plates. Merete's grandmother joined them. The four women sat down around the table. “Your images were a little violent, don't you think?” Hedvig asked as she took a bite of her food.
I don't think so,” Merete said. “The battle was not a small one, mother. It is important to carry the truth of the histories to the music, and that includes showing it in the fullest. I actually took most of the violence out of it. There was much in the story about who died, how they died, and how many died at the hands of the other Palenkiri. Those deaths were told in gruesome detail. It made me ill to read it.”
Why do you do this, Merete?” Piritta asked. The old woman drank some of her tea. “Why can't you let your father find a husband for you? You should settle down. You are old enough to have children of your own.”
We don't need any more children in the family right now, grandmother,” Merete said. “I also enjoy being the tale spinner. It's one of the few professions that women can hold along with the men and not be looked down on.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book reviews, contests, and bullying

My friend Joelle had a contest going on her blog. You download a free e-book that's around 27k and review it and then you're put in a drawing for a free e-book that's around 54k. Sounds like a sweet deal. (Which it is if you are into BDSM.) She's had several downloads of the free e-book, but no new reviews.

This makes me wonder why people don't leave reviews on books. I will, if I finish the book and it's a 3 star rating or above. If it's lower than that, I won't leave one. There are too many authors and readers out there who will attack anyone who leaves a low score and I don't feel like being bullied. If I can't finish the book, I don't feel I have a right to leave a review.

I do believe in supporting authors with a positive review if I can. I know that does tend to skew the numbers a little, but I just feel that unless I have something nice to say it's better not to say anything at all. I'm sure a number of you disagree with me. That's okay. It's more interesting to have different opinions. It's what makes discussions more enjoyable, as long as there's no bullying or name calling.

That's another thing I don't like about book reviews. The fact that people can be bullied for leaving an honest review. It's why I won't review anything on Goodreads anymore. If I feel strongly about a book, I'll review it here on my blog and I'll leave a review on the source of where I get it. Usually Amazon, though I have picked up a few from Smashwords. Those sites have a marginally lower instance of bullying.

Why do people bully others for having different opinions? It's not just book reviews. It's all over the place online. And offline, though it's not as pronounced there. Online you're protected by the anonymity of a computer screen. You can say what you want without repercussions. For the most part, at least. It's harder offline because you're face to face and can be penalized for it.

Bullying doesn't just happen about book reviews. When I was in high school, I was bullied for being awkward, a bookworm, not being pretty enough, being slightly overweight, not being able to keep up with my classmates physically, not being able to keep up with them mentally in some classes and exceeding them in others, etc. I couldn't get away from it. I made friends with similar problems, and we banded together to give each other support. But it wasn't enough and there were times where I considered suicide as a viable option. It didn't help that I wasn't getting any support at home. My parents wouldn't believe me about being bullied because most of it was psychological and emotional bullying, not physical.

We need to stand up to the bullies. We need to offer support and help to the bullied. We need to make sure people know that bullying – online or off – isn't right. People talk about children and teenagers being bullied. They need help and somewhere safe to go where they can feel secure and protected. But it's not just them that are being bullied. Adults get bullied too. I've spent a good portion of my life being bullied until I decided enough was enough and started standing up for myself. It led to more trouble for a while, but it started getting better. That's the message we need to send: stand up for yourself and it will end.

* climbs off soapbox *

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dream house

One of these days I'm going to have my own place again, with my own fridge and freezer. I don't mind sharing. It's just that there are a few things I'd like to do that I'd need more space for. One of which is making large quantities of food and freezing leftovers for later.

I enjoy cooking for the most part. But there are days where I just don't want to stand over the stove. Popping something in the microwave is easy. So is going out to dinner. But the microwave option, unless it's leftovers, is expensive and full of salt because you're buying prepackaged. Going out to dinner is expensive and possibly full of salt as well. Neither of those are good options if you're trying to eat a little healthier.

I would love to have a crock pot again. Make large crock pot meals and store the leftovers. Or make a huge pot of soup or stew. Or make my chicken enchiladas. I make a lot of food with those enchiladas for two people to eat.

I saw something go around Facebook a while back that I know I shared but it's going to be next to impossible to find it on my feed again because of the fact that it was a long time ago and I've made a lot of posts and shared a lot of things since then. But it was 45 crock pot meals to put in the freezer. Everything was all set. All you had to do was dump them in the crock pot with the liquid needed for the recipe and you were done. Everything was all prepped ahead of time. I'd love to be able to do that too.

I must sound like I'm complaining, and I may be a little. I like my roommates and couldn't ask for a better option when we needed to move in a hurry. But it's a nice dream to have one's own home when one has spent the better part of three years sharing a home (and a bathroom) with other people. (Two years in Kuna, one year in house of hell, and 4 months in our current situation).

If I could have my dream home, it would have three bedrooms – one to sleep in and two for offices. A big kitchen with a gas range and oven. It would have one of those French door fridge/freezer combos as well as a chest freezer somewhere else, maybe the garage. It would have a good sized pantry so I could can and store food. The living room wouldn't have to be that big, but large enough for a nice couch and a recliner or two. Maybe a TV set with satellite TV, though I really don't know about that. Himself and I have lived a long time without TV and there are only a handful of things we'd like to see that we can't find on Netflix.

In the kitchen, I'd have a large collection of pots and frying pans. I'd have a crock pot, an electric skillet/fry pan/whatever you call it, a grill pan, and a Kitchen Aid mixer. I'd have storage space for all of my ingredients for things, and I'd have room to bake and cook without feeling cramped. My appliances and the sink would be stainless steel and I'm still debating what I want for counter tops. I'd have a good set of sharp knives too. I won't need that many dishes, since it's still just the two of us.

I'd like a nice sized backyard where I could keep a dog. I'd like space in my living room to put a cat tree so Reidar and possibly a second cat could climb and be comfortable. In the master bedroom I'd like a huge bathroom. One with a separate tub and shower. I'd like the tub to be a Jacuzzi or something similar while I'd like the shower to be big and have multiple heads.

I want to be able to put in a vegetable garden somewhere in the back. I'd love to be able to have fresh vegetables straight from my garden. I want a three car garage with room for two cars and the third area for storage. Also as I said have the chest freezer out there.

How about you? What is your dream home like? Do you live in it? Or would you like to own it one day?

Friday, August 8, 2014

What would you like to see

Writing a blog is hard work. You have to think up a topic, write coherently (and hopefully well) on the topic, and post it for the world to see. It's recommended you end your post with a question, or at least encourage discussion in some way. Some people say set topics for each day so you have guidelines. Others say writing whatever you feel like and to hell with guidelines.

I tend to wander all over the spectrum on things like this. I used to have scheduled days. Then I started going random again. Then I tried a new schedule. And now we're back to being random again. I'm really not sure what I'm doing honestly. I hope I at least somewhat entertain you, offer interesting thoughts, and maybe provoke a little conversation now and then.

So...what would you like to see more of on my blog? Do you want to see more snippets of WIPs? More discussions on the world of publishing and my writing? No politics. No religion. I will rant about things occasionally but I'm not turning it into a regular post. Would you like a set schedule? Or are you fine with my rambling posts about whatever I feel like?

Tell me what you think you'd find interesting and I'll see what I can do.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Writing process and goal setting

I got talking with Himself this weekend over characterization in my books. He was startled at the fact that I don't detail out how my character is going to act, who they are, and where they're going before I write. I have a vague idea of who they are and where they're going, but I feel like it's up to them to tell me how they get there. I may have a few key points of the story that I want them to deal with but I don't know how they'll react to them. I may actually have to remove those points because the characters don't like them and refuse to do it. But then they give me different ideas and I can progress from there.

I also don't flesh out my minor characters, my placeholder characters (a shopkeeper, a blacksmith, a healer, characters that don't play an important role), and my secondary characters that interact intensely with the main character. I know their names, I have a vague idea of their personalities, but I don't develop them like you'd develop a D&D character (that's what Himself was comparing things to). I just don't work that way.

Himself brought up a good point that by the end of the story I have to go back and do some major revisions as I probably need to rework some points as I get to know the characters better. It does get frustrating at times to have to do this. But I find I like the kernel of the story more if that's how I do things.

I know there are a lot of writers out there who dig deep into their characters before they even write a word. They create character backgrounds, personalities, and motivations in detail before introducing their characters to the world they've built specifically for them. I completely admire them for this. I think it's fascinating that they can do this. This just isn't a skill I have.

I've tried it several times, along with outlining. But the characters were wooden, they didn't speak to me, and I couldn't get into their heads by doing that. Same with outlining. No matter how general the outline, I couldn't get into the story with it. I need to let it grow organically from my mind. The first draft is just that – a first draft. It's me vomiting the story onto the page.

Now, I do have a problem with going back and editing as I go. Himself was right about that. I need to let it go and write the damn thing without going back every five minutes to fix things. I need to make myself notes and just move on, which is what I'm attempting to do with Marked. He also brought up another good point. When I'm not futzing around, I can finish a first draft in two months.

So I've set myself a goal. Last month doesn't count (since I had a hell of a time writing last month due to various issues), but as of this month, I'm going to get the first draft of Marked finished by October 1st. Based on my current word count and how long I think this is going to be, that's a word count goal of 10-15k a week. Then, when it's done, I'll give it a week and start editing it as well as plan what story to do for NaNoWriMo because I will be participating again this year. Maybe I'll try Cracked World again. Or Burning Dreams. Or maybe I'll switch gears and work on one of my sci fi stories in November. It might not hurt to take a break from the fantasy for a month or two.

Whatever it is, I'll set my goal and see what it takes to accomplish it. Then I'll do it. So, keep me on my toes. Chase me down on Facebook or Twitter (if we're friends...you can find me as Alison Guynes-Annikka Woods on FB (not to be confused with Alison Guynes which is also me but is the one where I post for my family and isn't that interesting for anyone not family) and @annikkawoods on Twitter). Harass me. Leave me comments on blog posts asking me how I'm doing and demand updates. I will be setting more goals as I go for other things, and I think I'll use Monday as a “goal update” post. So be looking out for that, as well as my usual maundering.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A little taste of my Beauty and the Beast retelling

Another snippet this week. Just a hint of the story behind my Beauty and the Beast retelling. This is "Beauty" as a child, talking to her mother. My version is different from all of those I've read. I don't know if it's different from all of those out there, but I hope this little bite intrigues you.

 The healer was waiting for her. “She's absolutely terrified and we can't calm her. She's been calling – well screaming – for you for nearly an hour.”
“Let me see her,” Adina said. Master Weiss led her into the room where Ceinwen was weeping. “Kitten? Kitten, mama's here. What's wrong?”
“They're coming. They're coming and they're going to take us all away. They're going to send me to the castle with the princess in the garden. There's a monster behind the princess that I can't run away from,” Ceinwen said, her words slurring slightly because of her wounds.
Adina knelt beside her daughter's bed. Master Weiss left to give them some privacy. “What do you mean, kitten?”
Ceinwen turned her bandaged face towards her mother. Her eyes were still wrapped so she reached out with her uninjured hand. Adina caught it in hers. “We were all grown but something happened. Men came and the others left me alone. I didn't go with them. I was taken to the castle where the monster hides behind a princess in a garden. My friend there needed me to help him but the monster kept trying to kill me so I couldn't.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My thoughts on e-book pricing

Lately, I've seen that meme floating around again, the one where you see the cup of coffee on one side and an e-reader on the other bringing up the point that you can get an e-book for the price of a cup of coffee. It asks that people forgo their coffee to buy a book. I can understand the premise. Some e-books are around the same price as a cup of coffee, and books last longer than a cup of coffee.

But I've found most of the e-books I want are more expensive than my favorite caramel frappuccino that I get on occasion. This leads me to the fact that I have a problem with how e-books are priced these days. In some cases they're almost as expensive (or more expensive in a few cases) than the paperbacks.

I've been doing research on e-book pricing (read that as I've gone through and looked at e-books on Amazon and Smashwords to see if I'm right), and have come to realize from my, admittedly limited, research that the main difference in e-book pricing depends on how it's published. Or rather, who's doing the publishing. In general, I've seen that self-publishers tend to price their books in the $3-$4 range. Small presses are around the $4-$5 range. The Big 5 are $5 and up. There are exceptions to all of these. These are just averages I've come up with perusing the e-book market on my own.

Another thing that intrigued me was the percentage of the profits that authors receive. I can't find the link where I saw it broken down, but I saw that self-publishers get most of the profits (based on price, the site algorithms, and where it's being published), small press publishers get a smaller percentage (but it's still a very good one), and the traditionally published even less. The last is what baffles me. There's almost no overhead for them in the publishing of e-books, and yet from what I remember authors get a very small amount of the profit from e-books.

I believe that the pricing of e-books is variable, based mostly on who holds the rights to the book. It's a little cheaper to support an indie author than a traditionally published author, but in spite of the occasional trip to Starbucks (or your treat of choice), it's still possible to support your favorite authors. And even authors new to you. (That meme irritates me a little.)

What are your thoughts on e-book pricing? Have you seen something different than I have?

Monday, August 4, 2014

What does giving up mean to you?

I've long wondered why I keep blogging. Then again, I wonder why I keep writing. I know everyone feels this way about something. Why am I doing this? I'm a hack. I'll never be good enough. I should just quit.

We have to tell ourselves that this is bullshit and keep pushing forward.

There are going to be times where something has to be put to the side and something new started. That's just life. But if we give up without really trying, that's when we fail. It's like learning to swim. If you just stand there and dabble your toes in the water and say you can't swim, you're right. You can't. But you didn't really try. But then you get in the water, you have your lessons, and then either you can swim or you're relegated to staying in the shallow end of the pool because you sink like a rock. If it's that last, you didn't fail. You tried and gave it your best.

Himself is constantly reminding me of this. I have a tendency to give up after not succeeding once instead of trying again. I have a real complex about what I consider failing and look at myself as a failure when I shouldn't. He has to keep telling me as long as I'm trying I'm not a failure.

How many times do we just give up because something seems out of reach without actually trying for it? I know I have several of those missed opportunities littering the path of my life. Even if we don't get what we want, we learn and grow from those experiences. They can help us achieve new goals later on down the line.

I'm wandering a bit here, so I'll go ahead and stop. Tell me your thoughts. Do you believe that not succeeding at something is the same as failure? Or do you believe as Himself does, as he's teaching me to believe, that the only true failure is a failure to try?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Why I haven't done any book reviews lately

You may have noticed you don't see many book reviews on my blog any more though I used to do them with some regularity. The problem is I've become so critical of what I see as flaws in the beginning of the book, I won't finish it. I've picked up a dozen new books over the last few months and had to put them down again because I just couldn't find the hook to get me into the story.

One thing that's an automatic fail for me is not being able to keep a character description the same. If you can't remember what your character looked like from the first chapter you described her in to the sixth chapter of the book, how do I know that you're going to be able to keep the rest of your details straight? Not to mention this particular author (no I'm not saying who) was talking about the same place she started out at but ended up describing it in two different ways which were totally opposite of each other.

Another book I read, I managed to get all the way to the end, but it's not one I'm going to read again. In this one, the character knew everything he needed to know, could hack without getting caught, could memorize things months in advance and not forget them even though he's had no use for the information until the point he needs it. He always carries just what he needs, even if there's no plausible reason he'd have it. The story was good, but there were so many problems with this that I put it down several times before I finally finished it.

Some books I'll get through them halfway before I realize I don't care what happens to the characters. If you've managed to lose me at that point, I'm not likely to pick your book back up. Or get other books in the series. I'm sorry, but if you can't keep my interest in the characters I'm not going to waste my time. The same thing goes for plot. If the plot is either too simple and I've guessed at the ending within the first five chapters, or so confusing I have no idea what's going on and have to go back to previously read chapters to figure it out (*cough GRRM cough*), I'm probably not going to finish it.

That doesn't mean I haven't read some good books. The problem is they're all old favorites that I know I like. Though one series I didn't realize how badly the author screwed up her own timeline so I ended up returning those to the library without finishing the trilogy. I liked the characters, but when they refer to events that they couldn't have been around for or were supposedly much earlier than they were even alive, it gets difficult to get past that.

I have over 200 books on my TBR list, most of which I read on my phone or computer (Kindle app FTW). If I can't stay interested in a book, I'm not going to keep reading. I've got too many to go through. I also spend time picking up free books on Amazon. I do read the sample before I get them, but just because the beginning is good doesn't mean it's going to be good all the way through. I've put down quite a number of books from there because of that.

Are there things when you read a book that you absolutely can't ignore? What are some things that get you to put a book down and not return to it? Or are you one of those who finishes a book no matter how awful you might think it is?