Saturday, January 7, 2012

Another Challenge!

You guys need to take the internet away from me.  Seriously, I'm doing way too many of these things now.  Regardless, I'm still starting it!

Emlyn Chand is doing a year long challenge on her blog. If you choose to participate, you'll post an introduction post on why you love reading. Then, once a month, you post a review  about the books that made you love reading from way back when.  Read her blog for all the details, but it's a pretty sweet deal (especially because The Runaway Bunny totally counts).

There are so many reasons why I love reading, but the obvious one to me is the transportation to another world. I could be anyone or anything if just for a moment. I could be a mouse running from an owl, or a teddy bear looking for his lost button, or just a boy who had a really tough life and is growing up.

I love reading because I love writing. And I know how piss poor some of my earlier writing is because I've started reading again recently. I devoured books when I was younger, but when I majored in Literature in college - and most of my reading experiences were around classics and clad with papers and analysis - reading lost a lot of its fun. No, rather, analyzing books was just too much. Why couldn't I get lost in the story of Robinson Crusoe? Why did I have to look for passages to underline for a paper later? I'm sure when these authors originally wrote, it was to entertain. Not have you write a ten page paper on the difference between Shelley's Frankenstein and the movie (pick a version) that would come out years upon years upon years later.

No, I love reading because I can wrap myself up in the book. Lose myself in the character and float around in someone else's head for awhile. It's a bit voyeuristic, to love watching people unfold in books. (I people watch too, but that's another story for another day).

While reading academically is important, I think it is important because it makes your a better writer - and not a better paper writer, but a better story teller.

Some of the books that inspired me, when I was younger (these are the ones I plan on re-reading in 2012,in order of to be read):

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
All the Money in the World by Bill Brittain
Bunnicula by James Howe
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Poppy by Avi
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K.Rawling
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Blue Coyote by Liza Ketchum
Why Do Birds by Damon Knight

Most of these are middle school years, but there were some random days that I went shelf-browsing in High School.  I'll explain my reasons for loving them when I read each of them and post for the challenge ;) One mention that I want to say (that I'm not going to review) is The Hot Zone.  Wait, Rachel, are you telling me you read that when you were younger?

I was a weird kid, what can I say.  In ninth grade, I was offered extra credit to read one of the books on my biology's teacher's shelf.  I read half of it, and stopped because it made me so queasy.  But it began my epic love for horror and all things horror-filled.  I still get to the same spot year after year and have to stop reading.  I will try to read that this year, finally, but for my To Be Read Pile Challenge - not this one.  :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Goals

2011 was a successful year:
  • Finished my first manuscript
  • Did a rough edit of my first manuscript
  • Participated in my first NaNoWriMo and won my first
  • Finished my second manuscript
  • Met a lot of awesome writers and received a lot of amazing feedback
  • Got married
  • Had my best friend and her new boyfriend move in (also my brother-in-law)
Writing Goals for 2012:
  • Complete the #500WIP Challenge (set forth by Cara Michaels) - Write 500 words a day, every day
  • Find an agent (or at least query all the agents on my "top" list for my first manuscript)
  • Edit my second manuscript 
  • Midway through the year (June or July) query those same agents for my second manuscript (if none picked up the first, that is)
  • Finish the following manuscripts:
    • Rioss Book One
    • Kingdom of Obsession
    • A Good Criminal Heart
    • 2042
  • Edit and package Rioss to be queried in the fourth quarter of the year
Personal Life Goals for 2012:
  • Find a day job where I work directly with people and/or animals:
    • USC, UCLA, or a college position (student services, student housing, student life, etc.)
    • Dog trainer, dog walker, kennel worker, etc.
  • Finish a few crafting projects
    • Sewing/redesigning the purple dress
    • Create and sell more light switch plates
    • Finish my Legend of Zelda painting
    • Finish the tree of life painting
    • Finish the sunset painting
Reading Goals for 2012:
  • Create one monthly giveaway each month
  • Participate actively in the To Be Read Pile Challenge
  • Read at least three books a month
I tend to think big and set my hopes high for each year.  But I'm hoping that I can come back to this list and keep myself on track.  It helps that I'm now part of certain groups that will hold me accountable (like #WIP500 and TBR Pile Challenge).

And of course, my ultimate goal:  Enjoy every minute of it.  So far so good.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Destash Blog Hop

PhotobucketMost of you probably don't know that I help run Adorning Schemes with my cohort, house mate, and best friend (or heterosexual life mate) Lorelai.  We had so much junk floating around our house that her boyfriend (my brother-in-law) and my husband were getting very frustrated.

We kept making excuses - "No!  There's so many awesome things we can do with a used pillowcase!"  But we finally had to admit:  There were just too many things for us to nearly complete all of our desired projects.  With my writing and reading goals, it seemed a little impossible to finish most of what I had started.

So we came up with the Destash Hop idea.  This is Week One.  As such, you post about what you are purging - click on the button for more details and to sign up.  You can sign up any time, it's lasting all January.

My Purge:
  • Old PlayStation and XBox video games, listed on Amazon, actually sold a few of them for some decent cash.  Sold some of them at NextGen and put that money towards new games for the New Year.  Bonus:  I traded in my old XBox that was just collecting dust!
  • Full Screen DVDs:  Who on earth uses Full Screen anymore?  Who knows, but the quality is terrible now that we have a blue ray player and a nice TV.  Managed on getting about $15 back on all of them.  Some I managed to trade into for credit, but I tried to take them to Amoeba first (they didn't accept 1/2 of the ones that amazon did).
  • Lorelai and I gave a few things that we couldn't sell over to Goodwill.  I donated two text books that cost me $100 each when I first got them - they are now for sale used for pennies.  I figured it would be better to donate them at this rate.
  • Old books:  Surprisingly, a few of the ones I had sold fast.  One of the ones I had I managed on making $3 off of the original price - that doesn't sound like a lot, but when you want cash fast, it's nice to make money instead of losing it.
Do you want to sign up?  You still can!  All throughout January, we are encouraging people to do some early spring cleaning/destashing and "shedding" 2011 once and for all!  Good luck, everyone!

Monthly Book Recommendations

Happy New Year!  If you are anything like me, you are probably feeling a little under the weather this morning.  Though I don't party like I used to (college is only two and a half years behind me, but it seems like a lifetime ago), I do love the beginning of another year!  A few glasses of wine or champagne, and I can celebrate a new year with my beloved husband.  We go into part two of our first year as a married couple - and it has been brilliant so far.

We have arguments, sure.  And sometimes, for an outsider looking in, you might think "What on earth are they doing together?!"  But five seconds later, you blink and you miss it, we're back at our best.  You think, "There is no one better suited to be together."  That argument that seemed to last a lifetime was no longer than five minutes.

And most of the moments we spend together?  Perfect.  In every way.  I even love the arguments, because they prove that we still have our own opinions and thoughts - we were not put on this earth just to please each other, but to push each other to be our best.  And that's what he makes me, he pushes me to be my best.

But enough kind words for the man in my life, here's what you all were waiting for!   
The monthly recommendations:

Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster
YA Science Fiction
You are now obsolete.  Everyone else has been upgraded, save our main character and a handle of other people.  Kyle has been left behind.  Mike Lancaster paints the story as a teenager would, giving the key details, but leaves out a massive amount of description, but he gives us enough.  It is a fast paced book that flies by.  It's a simpler story with a straightforward plot - but it is very interesting nonetheless.  I like it, and describe it as another "snack read."  At the end, I was satisfied, but I wanted a bit more from Kyle's story.  There is apparently, according to Goodreads, a book titled 1.4 coming out in January.  I don't see how this novel could have a sequel, but I would still be interested in reading it.

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
YA Sci-Fi
Guys... you must.  This book.  This.  It is one of the best YA romances I've read in awhile - and it has zombies!  ZOMBIES!  The fact that our beloved main character, Nora, takes a good half the book to really fall in love with Bram, it makes it that much more touching.  It is believable, even though he's totally and completely dead.  And Habel takes some liberties with story telling, every chapter is from a different character's point of view.  And it is done quite flawlessly.  Her use of Victorian language, the style of prose, all of it is pretty incredible.  This is a bit of a harder read for YA, which is why I think it is a great crossover book (or it at least has cross over appeal).

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
YA Fantasy (on the cusp of Urban Fantasy - but it's more Fantasy)
When this book was coming to an end, for some reason, I really wanted it to stand entirely alone.  I think Taylor did such a good job at sucking me into the main character that I wanted to have her story wrap up at the end.  I know there's so much more that she can go into, and I will definitely pick the next book up - but I still wanted the ending to be "good" for our main character, instead of being a bit more ambiguous.  With that being said, Taylor does well with description.  The end gets a little heavy handed with telling instead of showing - but the rest of the novel is beautifully woven.  Because of this, I do recommend it.  I wrote a full review on my page.