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Day Off

20 Apr

I’m taking the day off today. I’m looking at a 50+ hour week at work and my final is Monday. Yikes! I’ll be back on Monday with a post, though. Have a great weekend.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Do You Read Seasonally?

18 Apr

Spring has finally arrived here in Michigan! We slept with the windows open and were awakened by a bird in the tree outside. It was cooler inside than outside and there were flowers blooming downtown. It got me thinking about the big tome I’m lugging around and wondering, “Is this a winter book?”

Honestly, I’ve never succumbed to ‘beach reads.’ I took a biography of Teddy Roosevelt on my honeymoon to Mexico which garnered a few weird looks from the eight women reading 50 Shades of Grey or Gone Girl. I don’t read ‘Christmas books’ and if I do, it’s usually in the middle of the summer. I’m terrible at timing up my reading. I’ll read what I want when I want to!

The biggest exception to this is my book clubs. A few of them time up our books to correspond with certain times of year or holidays. In those cases, I feel so on top of things I might be glowing. Though it’s none of my own doing, I still love how it feels. But not enough to do it myself.

Am I alone out here? On WWW Wednesday, I see so many people with seasonally appropriate books that I feel inadequate. Anyone else feeling this? How do you manage to read seasonally appropriate books if you do so? Am I really missing out?
Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Taking a Book Off My TBR

6 Apr

This winter, I’ve made some serious progress knocking books off of the physical TBR shelf in my house. The more I take off, the more those remaining stick out to me. There’s one I’m tempted to take off.

This book was a giveaway win that’s been languishing for a long time. To be honest, I forgot I entered to win it when I was contacted and notified. It took another few months for the book to get to me and when it did, I didn’t have time to pick it up so it got put on the shelf and ignored. Since then, I’ve looked up reviews on Goodreads and haven’t been too excited about what I saw. The book is long and a lot of the reviews said it had a meandering plot and was hard to follow.

I talked to my husband about this on our last road trip. He offered to read the first chapter for me when he finishes his current book and let me know what he thinks. I’m tempted to ditch it without asking him to read it simply because I don’t think it will maintain my interest.

I have to know, what do you think, Reader?

I’ll let you know as this unfolds. This is a bookie version of a thriller. 🙂

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Last Lines- The Answers!

30 Mar

Last week, I challenged you all to a last-lines test to see if you could guess the book by the last line. I was really excited that a few of you participated and thanks to Kourtni, Deanna, and Faith for providing answers for five of the ten! I’ve copied them below if you want to give it one last look-over before you see the answers below for the ones no one has guessed yet.

  1. He likes the thought of ships moving over the water, toward another world just out of sight.
  2. There are much worse games to play.
  3. And I finally began like this: When I stepped into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home…
  4. It was not until they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.
  5. He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance.
  6. All was well.
  7. Being tired isn’t the same as being rich, but most times it’s close enough.
  8. Isn’t this a great country altogether? ‘Tis.
  9. For now, he starts to read.
  10. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again. (NOTE: Not technically the last in the series)

And now, the answers!

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This one was a hard one to start off with! I thought if you knew the subplot of the Station Eleven comic, someone might get it, but oh well.
  2. Kourtni knew it was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.
  3. Deanna knew it was The Outsiders
  4. Faith knew it was The Picture of Dorian Gray
  5. Faith knew it was Frankenstein
  6. Kourtni knew it was Harry Potter: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  7. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. I was hoping this might be iconic for someone. It was OK for me but I was grasping at straws, haha.
  8. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. If you know that his second memoir is titled ‘Tis, this becomes slightly easier.
  9. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. If you know the plot, this makes sense. This is mostly me loving this book.
  10. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson. Like I said, not technically the last book in the Millennium series because of the sequel by another author, but still the final in the original trilogy. I was hoping my clue might help.

Thank you again to those who participated. This was fun, I might have to do it with first lines next time I have a reading slump.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Things My Textbook Does a Fiction Book Should Never Do

23 Mar

I’ve been talking a lot about my recent reading slump. I think a lot of it is because I’m reading so much for school that reading for fun seems weird. I’m reading at least one 50+ page chapter per week on top of what I read for fun. And my textbook is awful. I read the first chapter and thought it was a little weak, but the second and third chapters were worse. One of my classmates even asked me if I thought the textbook was terrible, which I said “YES” to a bit too loud for how quiet everyone was before class. Be warned, if you have to read Purchasing and Supply Chain Management 6th edition, you’re in for a treat. Here are some things the book does that a fiction writer would never get past an editor.

Repeating something multiple times and reacting like it’s new information. If I read the definition of a preferred supplier one more time, I swear this thing is going across the room. I think this term has been defined in 7 of the 9 chapters I’ve read so far. In Chapter 7, its defined twice. This is the equivalent of Hagrid telling Harry he’s a wizard in the fourth book, and Harry freaking out again. Not cool.

Repeating large passages, slightly reworded. I read chapters 7 and 9 pretty close to each other, and both have 2-3 pages devoted to sustainable supply chains. No language referring to, “As discussed in chapter 7…” Nope, none of that. Same wording, same vocab words, another three pages. Imagine if John Green had two scenes of Hazel describing her lung cancer. Same information, no recognition that we already knew this, just coming at us again. Like we forgot. Honestly.

Citing wrong page numbers or nonexistent figures. I wish I was kidding on this. I wrote in the right page number for one of them because the page it was referencing was in the previous chapter. This kind of inconsistency is an early catch for a fiction writer. Did Frodo have brown hair or blonde hair? Tolkien got it right and referenced the same color each time. Technology should make this easier.

Non-parallel formatting. The decision between main headers, section headers, and subheaders seems to have been decided by a coin flip. A paragraph introducing the next section will have a main header. So will each part of that section. Then in the middle of a bunch of subsections, we’ll jump to a section header and back like it was no big deal. Imagine an epic fantasy that was broken down into books and chapters at will with no logical reason for when it was changed. So confusing!

 Not defining terms. There are bolded vocab terms that are not defined. And there’s no glossary! I read the paragraph the word appears in and no clues! Vague context, but that’s not much to go off of. I remember reading The Maze Runner and being annoyed at all the slag. I’d be more annoyed if it was never defined!

Not highlighting key terms. Some rather important-seeming terms are not bolded but are defined. Honestly, it’s like the authors are trying to sneak something in on me. Like the clue in Dark Places that I totally caught onto, but with knowledge. The authors are trying to sneak knowledge in and pretend it’s no big deal.

Too much foreshadowing to content in future chapters. Kind of like my second point up there, the book will have a short paragraph about something that’s not-really-but-kinda-related to what it’s talking about. And then say we’ll read more about it in four chapters. Oh, but the term is bolded and is a vocab word for this chapter. With no definition. Like when you were reading Perks of Being a Wallflower and wanted to know about Charlie’s aunt and you knew it was important, but you had to wait till the right time to find out why it was so important. But instead of being heartbreaking and having Emma Watson and Ezra Miller in it, it’s about what conflict minerals Intel avoids purchasing. Not the same.

I hope to have actual content next week. I hope this is OK for now. Love you all for reading. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Last Lines- Can You Figure It Out?

21 Mar

Alright. Still struggling here with my reading slump to give ya’ll some content. Here’s my next attempt. I’ve listed the last lines to ten different novels below and want to see if you can guess them WITHOUT GOOGLE. If you want to look at your own shelves, fine, but please don’t use the internet to cheat. I’ll respond to comments to let you know if you were right. My only criteria for selecting these is that I own them and that if it’s a series, it will be the final book in that series.

  1. He likes the thought of ships moving over the water, toward another world just out of sight.
  2. There are much worse games to play. (Kourtni knew it was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
  3. And I finally began like this: When I stepped into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home… (Deanna knew it was The Outsiders)
  4. It was not until they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was. (Faith knew it was The Picture of Dorian Gray)
  5. He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance. (Faith knew it was Frankenstein)
  6. All was well. (Kourtni knew it was Harry Potter: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
  7. Being tired isn’t the same as being rich, but most times it’s close enough.
  8. Isn’t this a great country altogether? ‘Tis.
  9. For now, he starts to read.
  10. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again. (NOTE: Not technically the last in the series)

I know some of these will be much harder than others, but I have faith in you all! I’ll post the right answers after they’re guessed with a link back to the blog of the first person to get it right. If I think you’ve cheated, I’ll delete your comment so please be truthful!

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

My Bookshelves

14 Mar

I’m sad to say my reading speed is not keeping up with my posting speed! I blame school (because it’s easy to). It’s forcing me to come up with some more creative things to post here that still relate to books and reading. I hope none of you mind! I thought today I’d take you on a brief tour of my bookshelves.

I don’t believe bookshelves are only for books! You can see I keep a number of knickknacks on my shelves. The right one has some games, travel mementos, and a lot of my Harry Potter keepsakes. The center one has some keepsakes and the left has pictures, coin banks, and some workout equipment. If there’s space on the shelves, I’ll fill it! I also love having things on top so you’ll see our wine rack, my paper model of the Titanic, and a wedding picture with our families.

The left and right bookshelves, the bigger ones, house books I’ve read or don’t intend to read, either because they’re my husband’s school textbooks or they’re reference books. These are alphabetized by author and further by title. In the event of a series, I keep the series together.

The center bookshelf is my TBR. Yes, I have a physical TBR. The LOVE book in the middle is an ArtFolds of Sense and Sensibility that I did over a year ago and I love it (even if I didn’t love the book). I keep this book in TBR order, based on what’s been on my Goodreads TBR shelf the longest. This is the first time in over a year that I haven’t had anything on the bottom shelf, so I had to find another way to fill it. Those volumes are the publications of my short stories. There’s three of them there. You can always read more about my publications on this page (linked in my top menu). I’d love to keep this shelf empty going forward, but that might not be feasible because book buying is so addicting. And hey, I’m trying to get another story published so maybe I can fill it that way!

One of the best feelings I can experience is taking a book off my TBR and moving the books after it forward, creating space at the bottom. I love this feeling! It’s a feeling of seeing physical progress of reading. I tend to do it at night when my husband can’t watch the goofy-happy look on my face.

The exception to my organization is the top two shelves of my left bookshelf. This is where I keep my signed books! The dust jacket on the upper left is a book I lent a co-worker who was fired before I could get it back. I doubt I’ll ever see it again and I ended up reading the ebook of it anyway. The rest of the top shelf is signed books I have yet to read. These are listed in TBR order as well.

The second shelf (bottom in this picture) contains my read-signed books. I’m almost out of space for them to share with the A and Bs of my read books (to the right of the big candle) so I slowly keep moving the As and Bs down to make space for read-signed books.

As you can see, I’m almost out of room! Pretty soon, I’m probably going to buy a half-bookcase which will go on the other side of the room from this one. I’m thinking of having that one house only my YA series books, mainly Harry Potter but also allowing room for The Maze RunnerThe Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Hunger Games. Depending on space, I might include other series as well, or go with just J.K. Rowling works.

Thanks for taking this tour with me! This was really fun to write. I’ll try to buckle down and read some more with all the craziness going on in life, but I may have to find more fun reading things to post about for a bit.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Library Writers’ Group: Revising

27 Feb

I’ve told you all before how amazing my friend Kristine Kruppa is, right? She led our writers’ group this month and talked about the revision process, using a lot of her experiences from revising her novel and giving me some good insight on the revisions she just gave me for my manuscript. I’m excited to share with you some things we learned.

First, revising and editing are different in a very notable way. Editing implies line editing, looking at structure and grammar and improving it. Revising comes earlier in the process and is on a story-level. You have to revise before editing or else your edits might get revised away. After finishing the first draft, leave the story for about a week or so to get some distance from it. Then do a read-through and start the revision process.

The first thing to look for is characters. Could any be cut from the plot if they don’t contribute to the action? Maybe combining two characters into one makes more sense to reduce the number of characters. The motivation behind each character must be believable and drive their actions. As many characters as possible should have an arc and develop through the book.

The setting is sometimes easier in contemporary novels that it will be for science fiction, speculative fiction, or fantasy. Many times, an outsider will show up in a created world to help build it. While this is the easiest way to do it, others can build one from scratched. Our group touched on transitioning between settings. It’s not always necessary to have the character driving from home to work, but you need to know as the writer how that happened.

The plot is the biggest area to look at. Is your plot predictable? CHANGE THAT! You want to keep the reader guessing until the end. Look for plot holes. Does anything happen for a reason that doesn’t make sense? Does anything contradict? Also look at the flow of the book. Pacing is hard to fix but try to use subplots to keep the book moving. A really key part to pace is the climax. We all said we’d read books where the climax happened too fast. After the whole rising action, it’s okay to linger on the climax a bit so the reader feels satisfied with the resolution. One member suggested exploring third level emotions. (More at this link, scroll down until you see the questions in bold.) This technique is pulling out the less obvious emotions a character has at a key moment and expanding on that feeling. Make sure that this climax and resolution happen for every character arc and subplot, not just the main one.

Read the manuscript through at least once more, making sure you caught everything. One suggestion Kristine had was doing a draft map. For this, she writes down the POV character, characters involved, purpose, and a synopsis of each scene. Any that don’t add to a plot or subplot can be scratched and it helps with pacing for main and subplots.

Next, make the changes!

After you’ve revised, it’s time to turn to Beta readers. Kristine suggests 2-5 who read the genre of your book. It might be great to hear what your mom says, but if she reads high fantasy like mine does, her feedback on my 1920s YA book might not be as helpful. One exception to this is if you’ve written something you don’t know well and what someone to check it for you. I’ve written a book about a woman during her pregnancy. I need to have someone who’s had a child read that one, even if they don’t read women’s fiction. My YA book has a male protagonist; I’ve asked several male friends who were at one time 17-year-old boys to read it for that reason. If your book has occupational details, try getting someone in that field to read it. Ask the Beta reader questions that help drive at the points brought up earlier.

Kristine is one of my beta readers and has given me some amazing advice. If you haven’t read her book yet, please go take a look!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Mental Health Day: I’ll Be Back Tomorrow!

21 Feb

Hi, all.

I had a very stressful weekend which is only worse because I was on vacation! Yuck. As such, I don’t have anything ready to post today but I’ll be using this evening to prepare for the rest of the week.

My apologies for a delay in content but rest assured my brain is recovering!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Why do they make abridged versions?!

6 Feb

As a warning, this post is being written in a flourish of anger. Be warned.

I just finished listening to a beautiful and haunting story that I loved. Between a long run and a long car ride, I finished the six hours of audio in four days and it was partially because I loved the story and was always anxious to hear what happened next. I had 15 minutes left and decided to sit down and just finish the darn thing. And I did. And the ending was great and the character arc was wonderful and I was floating on cloud nine. Before I could stop it, the credits read and it mentioned the name of the individual who abridged the book.

WHAT?!

Are you telling me that I just spent 6 hours listening to PART of a book? A book that won me over completely? What if they took out all the bad parts and the book is actually terrible? How would I ever know? I looked and it seems there is no unabridged version of this book on audio. The famous person who read it must not have been willing to give that much time.

So what am I to do? I feel seriously cheated to be sure. I want to know the whole story because, for once, there is more to a book I enjoyed! I want to know all the details someone didn’t think were worth making it to the end. The parts that seemed rushed will slow down and that excites me.

So, do I wait or read it soon? I own a copy so I could grab it next and read it, looking for the small or large changes. Or I could wait, maybe a few years, until I don’t remember the details and I can be surprised by them again instead of knowing what’s coming for the characters and not being surprised by twists. I’m at a loss. All I know is I feel cheated and I’ve never felt shortchanged by literature before.

Grrr.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!