Thursday, August 31, 2017

End of Summer

It's been a long summer of No Writing for me. I realize now it was a little insane to jump into a NaNo month days after completing Mender. I wrote 50K in May and then just petered out in June, and I haven't written since. I haven't even had a solid idea since, which is beginning to alarm me.

I've been reading a TON, though, so I've decided to be charitable and think of these past three months as Filling the Well.

Now that school has started and it's time for goal-setting, I'm at a bit of a loss. I'd like to get started on my next "real" book-- but like I said, I don't really have an idea. I'd also like to finish the first draft of Master of the Off-Chance, the Romance novel I was working on for MayNoWriMo. I estimate that I've got 25,000 left in the draft, so I think that's going to be my goal for September: finish the Romance. Then I get take stock and see what makes the most sense to do next, whether that's charge ahead with whatever speculative premise grabs me, or dive into revising MotO-C.

Step one is to read what I have so far in MotO-C, because it's super cold right now. That'll be my short-term goal for the first few days of the month.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I Won't Be Finishing

Time to throw some shade!

Not really. As with last year's list, this is not necessarily a list of books I hated. Many I really enjoyed-- yet for whatever reason, I was not left with a desire to read more.

Again, I'll only be providing descriptions/rationalizations for new entries, in blue. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the series that appeared on the 2016, check out last year's post.

And now, on with the countdown.

Series I Won't Be Finishing:

Middle Grade:

The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart.
The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce.
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.
Sherlock Files series by Tracy Barrett.
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.
Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau.
Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence.

Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis. This was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. is a very strange series about a very strange child. I've listened to 3 of the books on audio with The Son, but now he's reading them on his own and I don't see me continuing with the series.

Forbidden Library series by Django Wexler. This was also on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I listened to the first book of this on audiobook. It had a lot of cool elements-- 1930's setting, creepy magic, books as portals to other worlds-- but I just didn't connect with the characters. I've decided not to continue.

Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. two orphaned sisters move to a town inhabited by fairy-tale creatures, and learn about their family's role in managing the relationships between these creatures and the mundane world. The Son and I listened to the first book together. It was cute, but a little young for him, and he wasn't interested in going on with it.

Samurai Detective series by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. Historical Mystery series that takes place in feudal Japan. Again, we read book 1, and it was pretty good, but it now seems too young for where he's at, and I don't have enough interest to continue on my own.

100 Cupboards Series by N.D. Wilson. I really recommend this one. It's about a boy who goes to live with his aunt and uncle in Kansas, where he discovers a bunch of cupboard doors behind the wallpaper in his room. Each door leads to an alternate universe... but since they're small doors, he can't quite go through them. It's an intriguing tale, but I kept wait for the  library to get book 2 on audiobook-- which they never did-- and after a while enough time had passed that if I wanted to get it from ILL or something we'd need to go back and listen to book 1 again, and I wasn't willing to go to that much effort.

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. I have very mixed feelings about this one. Another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016, and then in January I put book 6 on my Series Challenge list for this year. I read the first few chapters of it, and... I just didn't care. I felt super guilty and weighed down by this big obligation to finish it, but was dreading having to read it, and then had an epiphany and realized it was ridiculous to expend energy on a series I don't care about when I am in the midst of reading FORTY-NINE other series.


Young Adult:

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.
If I Stay duology by Gayle Forman.
Cecelia and Kate series by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevener.
Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.
City of Beasts trilogy by Isabel Allende.
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison.
Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale.

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes. Buckle up, because I have some opinions. Last year, I went on a big booktube spree, and wound up discovering a bunch of wonderful YA books through watching the reviews. I saw so many glowing reviews for this epic Fantasy YA series, and became very eager to read it. I remember checking my library shelves every time I went, but it was always checked out. When I finally got my hands on it, I was appalled. The writing was terrible, the characters were paper-thin, the world was unconvincing, and there were giant logic fails all over the place. It's just bad-- like, "I'm shocked this got published" bad. I do not understand why so many reviewers whose taste I otherwise generally respect are so taken with it. Maybe it's just me?

Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Bardugo's Six of Crows duology, set in the same world as this trilogy, was among the best and most dazzlingly original things I read in 2016. But this one failed to grab me. There's nothing wrong with it-- the writing is solid, the world is interesting, characters are well drawn-- but the plot was entirely predictable. Nothing surprised me, which meant I wasn't left with a desire to read on to see what more happens.

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary J. Pearson. YA Fantasy set in far-future North America. This is another series I heard a lot of raving reviews for, and while I didn't think it was bad (unlike Falling Kingdoms), I wasn't into it enough to want to continue past book 1.

Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. Dark Science Fiction about a society on a colony planet in which all the men can hear each others' thoughts. Yet another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I've now decided to bite the bullet and admit I'm not finishing it.

To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han. And another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I just don't care enough to go on with it.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trilogy by Ransom Riggs. Interesting YA Fantasy with a historical twist, about a troubled boy discovering the very strange nature of his beloved grandfather's troubled past. I liked book 1, but not as much as I'd expected I would. I'm glad I read it, but I'm not interested enough in the story to continue.


Adult:

Ender series by Orson Scott Card.
Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James.
Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson.
Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.
Dune series by Frank Hebert.
Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.
Hitchhiker's Guide series by Douglas Adams.
Ringworld series by Larry Niven.
Uplift series by David Brin.
Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.

Glamourist Histories by Mary Kowal Robinette. Regency with magic. It sounded like an adult version of Sorcery and Cecelia, which I adored. But... I didn't like book 1. I found it boring. The romance was underdeveloped, and I had a hard time swallowing that the magic wasn't used for anything practical.

The Rosie Project series by Graeme Simison. Contemporary "GuyLit" Romance about a fortyish professor with Asperger's, and his hilariously systematic search for love. I really loved the first book, but I was completely satisfied with the ending.

Goddess Summoning series by P.C. Cast. Fantasy Romance series that are retellings of myths and fairy tales. Fun for a book or two, but painfully formulaic for six. This was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016, and I've decided to bag it.

Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Sci-Fi Romance series. It never grabbed me like I expected. I was on the fence about this in 2016, but I'm accepting reality and giving it a pass after 2 books.

Me Before You duology by JoJo Moyes. Woman's Fiction/Romance about a rich paraplegic and the young woman who works as his caregiver. I read book 1 for book club and found the ending satisfying. I don't feel compelled to read more.

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Mystery series set in Botswana. I thought book 1 was charming and fully intended to go with the series, but book 2 didn't hold my interest.

Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron. I feel bad about this one. I loved Aaron's Paradox trilogy (writing as Rachel Bach), and I also really liked book 1 of this Fantasy series about a charming thief in a world of magicians and spirits. Book 2 was on my Series Reading Challenge list for this year. But I was slogging through it, and it was frankly making me kind of dread having to read 3 more books in the series, so I've decided, with regret, to set it aside.

Finally, I read a ton of Contemporary Romance in May while I was working on my own romance-y thing. Most were the first books of series, and all but one I'm not continuing with. Most I thought were pretty decent examples of what they're trying to be; they're just not enough my thing to convince me to stick with them:

Portland Heat series by Annabeth Albert
Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis
Silver Pines series by Gwen Hayes
Tumble Creek trilogy by Victoria Dahl
Belhaven series by Emily Foster
Opposites Attract series by Erin Nichols


Comics:

Sin City.

Swamp Thing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I Plan to Finish

This post will be about the series I have in progress that I am invested in and committed to finishing. New series to this list will again be in blue. I  will only write descriptions for the series I began since last July;  if you want to read more about the series I had in progress before last July, check out last year's post here.

Series I Plan to Finish:

Middle Grade:

1) Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy by Rick Riordan. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the third.

2) Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the third.

3) The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood. I've read 5 books so far, and one more is forthcoming.

4) Family Fletcher series by Dana Alison Levy. I've read all 3 books and am waiting for more.

5) His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, but now a new book is coming out in the fall! This is a beautiful series about religion and fate, with souls manifesting as animal companions, alternate universes, and sentient polar bears. I've read 3 books and am looking forward to book 4.


Young Adult:

6) Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I've read 2 books and am waiting for book 3.

7) Octavian Nothing duology by M.T. Anderson. I've read book 1 and intend to read book 2.

8) Jackaby series by William Ritter. I've read 2 books and a short story, and have 2 more books to read.

9) Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, but now more books are being released! These are richly rendered Fantasy stories that follow a lineage of necromancers. I've read 4 books so far; there's a novella and a new novel waiting for me.

10) The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Adventure/Fantasy tales in an Ancient Greek-like setting. I was undecided about this is 2016, but I read book 2 this year and now plan to continue. I've read 2 books; there are 3 more books to go.

11) Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore.  Feminist second-world Fantasy. Another series I was undecided about in 2016 but have decided to go ahead with. I've read 1 book and have 2 more to go.

12) Prisoners of Peace series by Erin Bow. That rarest of birds: a trope-subverting YA dystopian. I'm super interested to see where this one goes. I read book 1 and now book 2 is out.

13) The Witchlands trilogy by Susan Dennard. Second-world Fantasy with strong female friendships, an interesting magic system, and writing that's a cut above the usual YA Fantasy fare. I read book 1 and now book 2 is out.

14) Trouble series by Stephanie Tromly. YA Investigative about a girl who moved from Brooklyn to a podunk town in upstate NY, where she falls in with a socially tone-deaf teen Sherlock-type and starts solving crimes. The first book was absolutely delightful, and now there's book 2 waiting for me,

15) Three Dark Crowns trilogy by Kendare Blake. The premise for this sounds almost like a parody of YA Fantasy/dystopian tropes (three teenage magic-wielding Queens must fight to the death to see which of them will rule the land-- complete with love triangle) but the first book sucked me in from page one and never let go to the end. Book 2 comes out next month.


Adult:

16) Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I've read 7 books and a short story so far. Book 8 is out and book 9 is coming out in early 2018.

17) Siri Paiboun Investigations by Colin Cotterill. I've read 11 books and am waiting for book 12 next month.

18) Jimm Juree Mysteries by Colin Cotterill. I've read 3 books and there's a 4th out.

19) Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. There are 21 books in this series so far; I have read 15.

20) Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've read 3 books and 3 novellas, with 1 novella out for me to read.

21) Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. I've read 4 books so far and am waiting for the 5th and (I presume) final book.

22) Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis. I've read 3 books, and have 1 more to go.

23) MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I've read 1 book and have 2 to go.

24) The Rook Files by Daniel O'Malley. I've read book 1 and have book 2 on my series-challenge list.

25) The Expanse series by James A.A. Corey. I've only read 2 books so far; there are 6 out.

23) Golden City series by J. Kathleen Cheney. I've read 3 books and a novella, and have 1 novella left to go.

24) One Rose trilogy by Gail Dayton. I'm reading book 2 right now and intend to continue with the final book of the trilogy.

25) Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy bu Patrick Rothfuss. Epic Fantasy recounting the life story of an epically awesome sorcerer. I've read book 1 and have book 2 on my series-challenge list.

26) Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. Found family aboard a blue-collar spaceship. I've read book 1; book 2 is out and waiting for me.

27) Her Instruments series by M.C.A. Hogarth. Another found family Science Fiction tale. I've read book 1; there are 2 more books in the series.

28) Wild Seasons trilogy by Christina Lauren. New Adult Romance about three female friends and the fallout from their impulsive post-graduation Vegas trip, during which they married a trio of male friends. I've read book 1 and intend to continue with book 2.

29) Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor. Afrocentric Science Fiction novella. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the 3rd to be released.

30) Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Dark Fantasy about a quartet of alternate Londons all threatened by the same wild magic. I've read book 1 and have 2 more to go.

31) The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel. Science Fiction about scientists discovering giant alien robots on earth, told entirely through interviews and military reports. I think this is a duology? I've read book 1 and put book 2 on hold at the library.


Comics:

32) Saga. I've read the first 7 volumes and am waiting for the 8th to be released.

33) Ms. Marvel. I've read 6 volumes and am waiting for the 7th to be released

34) Giant Days. I've read 5 volumes and am waiting for the 6th to be released.

35) Rat Queens.  I've read 3 volumes and am waiting for the 4th.

36) Jedi Academy. I've read 4 volumes and am getting the 5th in the mail today!

37) Amulet. I've read 7 volumes and am waiting for the final volume to be released.

38) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I was waffling about this one last year, but now I've decided to go on with it. A tongue-in-cheek romp through the Marvel Universe, with some good representation and an underlying message of tolerance and empathy. I've read 5 volumes plus a bonus edition, and am waiting for volume 6 to be released.

39) Lumberjanes. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, not realizing the comic was ongoing. Delightful story of five best friends at a Girl Scout-esque summer camp. I'm reading volume 6 right now and am waiting for volume 7 to be released.

40) Monstress. Set in an alternative, matriarchal China with wracked by human-monster wars. Disturbing and violent, with jaw-droppingly gorgeous artwork. I've read the first volume and am waiting for the library to get the second.

41) Mighty Jack. Cute modern-day retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk myth, in which Jack is a latch-key kid looking after a younger sister with autism. I've read book 1 and am waiting for book 2 to be released.

42) Paper Girls. A freaky tale about four paper girls delivering papers in the pre-dawn hours after Hallowe'en 1988, with all kinds of demonic, time-traveling hell breaking loose. I've read volume 1 and am waiting for the library to get volume 2.

43) Lucy and Andy Neanderthal. Cute comic about caveman kids. I read the first book and didn't realize it was a series, but now I see book 2 is being released next month.

Web Comics:

44) Check, Please! 

45) Gunnerkrigg Court. 

46) Stand Still, Stay Silent.

47) Dicebox. A married pair of female blue-collar workers roaming the galaxy, looking to outrun their pasts. Moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.

48) Vattu. On an alien planet, a young huntress is taken captive by a conquering empire. Also moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.

49) Namesake. Explores the connection between readers, writers, and the worlds of beloved stories. Also moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.


Whoa. Almost 50 series, dude. That's a lot.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I've Finished

Time for this year's update on the many series I've read, am reading, have quit reading, and am undecided about.

This first list will be series I've read in entirety. As with last year's list, this will be just a list with no comments. Series I finished since last July will be in blue.

Series I've Finished:

Middle Grade:

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson and the New Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Kane Chronicles trilogy by Rick Riordan
Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary
Smek duology by Adam Rex
Spiderwick Chronicles series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
WondLa trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi
Nate Foster duology by Tim Federle

Young Adult:

Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Matched trilogy by Ally Condie
Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier
Safe-Keepers trilogy by Sharon Shinn
Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins
Annals of the Western Shore trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin
Frontier Magic trilogy by Patricia Wrede
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Adult:

Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Chronicles of Chaos trilogy by John C. Wright
Golden Age trilogy by John C. Wright
Confluence trilogy by Paul J. McAuley
Samaria series by Sharon Shinn
Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn
Sharing Knife quartet by Lois McMaster Bujold
Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach
My Family and Other Animals trilogy by Gerald Durrell
Hyperion quartet by Dan Simmons
Kushiel Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey (nine books, y'all!)
The Hainish Cycle series by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Secret Texts trilogy by Holly Lisle
Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie
The Connaghers series by Joely Sue Burkhart
Billionaires in Bondage trilogy by Joely Sue Burkhart
The Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemison
Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
The Shifting Circle trilogy by Sharon Shinn
Illium duology by Dan Simmons
Old Man's War series by John Scalzi


Comics:

Sandman
Castle Waiting
Locke & Key
Zita the Spacegirl
Three Thieves

Friday, June 30, 2017

End of June. *Sigh*

Guys, this month has been a bust for writing. I don't even have a plausible-sounding excuse. I just lost momentum once the WriMo was over, and then I slammed hard into an intense reading phase. I have read a shitload this month, even for me.

I'm on vacation now, so it'll be at least 10 days before I set any type of writing goals for July. Look for lots of reading-related posts this month, though!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

On to June

I ended May with 51,600 words under my belt (yay!) and having slid into a slump (boo!). I had a nagging feeling I was off track with the plot, and I couldn't seem to force myself forward through that feeling. I was also a bit distracted by participating in the Beta Project on Absolute Write, and almost making it into Query Kombat for Mender, which qualified me for a critique on my query and first page from one of the judges.

After a few days of not working on MotO-C and feeling like crap about it, I decided two things:

1) The goal of finishing the draft by June 12 (the date my laptop needs to go into the shop) was putting too much pressure on me and making me even more reluctant to work on it.

2) I needed to sit down and list out everything I could think of that would need to be addressed in revisions, including changes I wanted to make to the external story arc.

The good news is that these two things seem to have shaken me out of feeling slumpy. I've gone back to the two (short) chapters I completed toward the end of the month, where I started feeling like I was going off the rails, and have set about fixing them. I'm finding it's not a matter of changing what's there so much as it is adding substance to them. Today is the first day I've been back at work on it this week, and I've set a modest goal of 500 words. I've already written 400!

My goals for June:

1) Finish the first draft of MotO-C.

2) Make 5-10 hours' worth of edits to Mender and send out 10 more queries.

3) Finish the 3 books I had in progress when I dropped everything for MayNoWriMo.

4) Read 2 additional books for my Series Challenge (I'm at 12 books so far-- the halfway mark).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 28

I hit 50,000 words today!

That was pretty much the only writing bright spot of the day. I have hit a slump, y'all. Every minute of writing was painful and everything I wrote sucked.

Just keepin' it real. Writing this novel has been mostly rainbows and sunshine and sexytimes, but today it was a slog.