Top Ten Tuesday: Difficult Books

 

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a wonderful bookish meme brought to us by The Broke and  the Bookish. This week’s theme is ten books that were difficult for me to read. While I might not have ten, I at least have a handful of books I can list (and can think of off the top of my head).

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

fellowshipringWhile I do like the overall story and some of the characters, The Fellowship of the Ring was painful for me to read. I appreciate Tolkien’s world building and the amount of work and research that he put into his novels, but I couldn’t get past the pages upon pages of description and how so many characters had similar names. I read this my senior year in high school for class and it was one of the few books I couldn’t make myself finish.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

13ReasonsWhyI’ve seen this on a couple of lists today. I read and enjoyed this book, but read it during a time in my life where the subject matter made it very difficult for me to read. A friend of mine had just passed away and it just hit too close to home.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

AllegiantI read this book during my hiatus from blogging and therefore didn’t post a review. While I love the Divergent trilogy, this book was really hard for me to read. It was weird to me that Veronica Roth chose the last book in her trilogy to write from a dual perspective. I love Tris and Four, but their voices were so similar that I constantly had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to check who’s perspective I was reading from. I enjoyed the story, but it made the book so hard to read and finish.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

we are all completely beside ourselvesThis is another book that I liked, but it just lacked something for me. I may go back and start it all over again, but for now, I did not finish this book.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

imagesCringeworthy for me. Just cringeworthy. I always try to give books a chance and try to finish them. I finished this one and wished I hadn’t.

That’s about it for me for today.

What books were difficult for you to finish?

Why You Should Let Someone Else Read Your Precious.

You’ve written your first draft, revised or rewritten, and maybe completed a second or third draft of your novel, short story, etc.

Now what do you do?

If you’re anything like me, you’re scared shitless to share your precious novel with another set of eyes. Perhaps you’ve read your manuscript aloud to your dog, or cat, but another human being hasn’t heard or read a single word. You might try to hold on to Your Precious as long as possible, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by doing so.
myprecious

Before recently, I wouldn’t allow another living soul to see, much rather touch my novel. Many a time has my rough draft of a chapter been sitting on my desk or table and a friend who knows I’m working on it went to grab for it.

My response? Paws off!

angrygollumWow. I’m freaking terrifying sometimes! Well, my response may have been a bit nicer, but that’s how I felt on the inside. Why did I smack at their hands, or hurriedly put the draft away? Because I was scared to let someone else read it.

But if you want to be a published (and maybe best-selling) author someday here’s my bit of advice to you: You have to let someone read Your Precious eventually.

 

In fact, you’re so close to your own work it can only get better by having someone else read it and give you the feedback you need. And that’s scary. That pesky self-doubt creeps in more than ever and you may find yourself compulsively checking your email every two seconds. Hours might go by and then you feel like you’ve written the biggest piece of shit in the world, days and you might feel like your life is over— weeks or months? Forget it!

tumblr_inline_mkqr1q6Tkx1qz4rgp

But then you get that little email. Your heart might be pounding so hard or be so sunk into your stomach that you feel it may just fall out of your butt, but you click on it anyway.

And, whew— it’s not nearly as bad as you thought it would be. (At least it wasn’t for me, and I was freaking out over it).

I never thought I would get to the point of needing or wanting a critique partner

but I feel like my writing and my book have become so much stronger for having shared it with another person. Plot holes in my novel have been brought to light where otherwise they would have gotten bigger, my characters are stronger, and I feel so much better about my book.

My critique partner and I met through my blog in June or July. We still continue to trade at least one chapter a week. It helps me to set goals with my writing and motivate me to keep on writing, even when I want to give up (which does happen from time to time). She and I talk about our progress nearly every day and help keep one another accountable for our work. Without my CP I probably wouldn’t even be more than half-way through this round of revisions, but I am.

SOPVr

Hats off to you Megan for being awesome, dealing with me, and helping me be a better writer.

 

Do you have a critique partner? Where did you find him/her?

How do you feel about sharing Your Precious (aka your novel) with other writers?

To Pants or To Plan (that is the question)

Badges from nanowrimo.org

Badges from nanowrimo.org

Are you a planner, a pantser, or some kind of combination of the two?

Before researching and beginning to plan my NaNoWriMo novel last year, I never really thought of my own writing process or the steps I could take in preparation to write my novel. I was always one to have some sort of idea in mind of the shape I wanted my stories to take. I allowed my writing, plot, and characters to naturally flow every which way until I had some sort of jumbled mess that took forever to wade through and come to a conclusion with. In short, before last year I was a serious pantser.

But pantsing (flying by the seat of your pants with a story) really works for some people.

Sometimes the natural flow of a story works (which I discoverd while writing a YA contemporary novel that still isn’t completed). You can allow things to naturally progress at their own pace. And then they take off, which can be really exciting.

Image credit: http://mitch-the-plaid.tumblr.com/post/51806158570

Image credit: http://mitch-the-plaid.tumblr.com/post/51806158570

The trouble with pantsing for me was that I got so lost in my own story and didn’t remember where I began and had no idea of where I wanted my novel to go next. So I got discouraged and my novel got put on the shelf, and hasn’t been touched since.

“But I can’t handle not having my outline!!!”- says the hard-core planner

Found on: http://allisaurussrex.tumblr.com/

Found on: http://allisaurussrex.tumblr.com/

In the beginning of last October, I began my research and planning for my NaNo novel. I found some amazing character sketch sheets and filled a notebook with notes, character sketches, and a very basic outline. It was the first time I really planned my writing out. But I read about the dangers of over-planning my novel and didn’t want to have such a tight, constrained outline for my novel that it couldn’t progress naturally. Some people can create a beautiful outline that is stunningly fool-proof and that they can directly transfer over to their novel.

I am not that kind of person.

Actually I’m kind of a hot mess while writing.

Maybe you can have the best of both worlds.

My character sketches were helpful, even though I didn’t really look at them. My outline kind of went out the window except for major plot points which I knew I needed and a lot of the details that I researched.

Found at: http://allisaurussrex.tumblr.com/

Found at: http://allisaurussrex.tumblr.com/

Actually I discovered that my structure for outlining was very constraining, and a loose outline was the way to go with my writing style and with this particular novel.

Having a good outline structure really helps too.

It wasn’t until I was revising that I finally found that outline structure that helps me outline basic plot points that push the plot along. You can get as detailed with the outline as you want, but this makes sure your novel is actually going somewhere. This video explains everything really well. Katytastic is one of my favorite vloggers and has great information about writing.


I now have this plot structure in mind as I write, and only outline a couple of chapters ahead in advance, so I have an idea of plot movement and let my novel progress naturally.

Could this be the best of both worlds? I don’t know, but it works for me!

It’s really all about what works for you.

There’s no right way to go about it. Each writer’s process for planning (or not planning) is just as different than their actual writing process. That’s the beauty of it. That’s why we have such radically different novels and stories. Which is pretty awesome if you ask me 🙂

Are you a pantser or a planner? What is your process like?

Related posts:

Things You Can Do to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

What I'm Reading & Writing Wednesday

whatimreadingandwritingwednesdayWhat I’m Reading and Writing Wednesday is my spin on WWW Wednesday brought to us by the fabulous MizB over at Should Be Reading. Thank you MizB for hosting such a great weekly feature.

What I’m Reading…

Things haven’t changed much since last week. I am still reading The Night Circus, although I’m quite a bit farther along in the book than I was last Wednesday. Reading has been going pretty slow for me this last week as writing has taken even more of my focus.

thenightcircusI don’t really like when it takes me forever to read a book. It’s not that I forget what is going on or anything like that, but I have to get re-immersed in the writing and the world each time I pick up the book (especially because I might only get a chance to read every couple of days).

How do you guys feel about that?

What I’m Writing…

This week my goal is to get Chapters 14 and 15 to my critique partner. She absolutely loved the last chapter I sent her, so I am kind of nervous about sending this next chapter— what if it’s not as good? Anyway, my last draft of this particular chapter needs some serious work. I have to get some extra writing hours in to get those two chapters to her this week.  We shall see, friends.

What I’m Up to…

It’s craft show season, so I have to also keep crocheting away in the hopes of making a couple of $$ to heat my house this winter (we already had a 36*F day– eek). I am also doing more NaNoWriMo preparations!

What You Can Do Now to Prepare for NaNoWriMo!

nanowrimo.org

nanowrimo.org

You might be thinking– Already Amanda? Sheesh, it’s over a month away! But really, there are ways that you can train your brain now to help you once November 1st rolls around. It’s closer than you think!  It’s nearly October, and while I will still be revising next month, I will also be preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

This year I’m the ML for the Oswego, New York region and I have been trying to think of all the ways I can help motivate other writers to prepare and plan if they so choose! Since I would like to talk more about writing here, I figure there’s no better place to start the conversation!

Here are 5 things you can do now to prepare yourself for the month of writing madness that is NaNoWriMo:

1. Take a walk!

  • The month of November is going to be pretty crazy, so take a breather now while you still can. Go for a walk and get some blood and oxygen pumping through your body. It’s good for you and is a great time to think of story ideas.

2. Get into the habit of writing every day

  • If you already do this, great! You’re a step ahead of the game. If not, give it a try. You’d be amazed how great it feels to get something written and accomplished every day! Even 30 minutes to an hour every day can help you develop a daily writing routine and will help you reach that 1,667 words per day come November.

3. Check out the NaNoWriMo website

  • Even if you’ve participated before, it’s always a good idea to get a refresher. Check your regional forum and other forums for inspiration and ideas.
  • If you haven’t participated, you’re in for a treat!
    • Go to nanowrimo.org and create an account
    • Find your home region to learn about any write-ins or events in your area. This is where other writers in your region will communicate with one another.
    • Forums are awesome for learning more about NaNoWriMo, being a part of the great community of writers, and for ideas and inspiration

 4. Keep a notebook handy

  • You really never know when inspiration will strike. It’s also good to keep all of your notes and stuff in one place. Plus, if you don’t have a computer handy, you can always write a scene/chapter in it.
  • I like to have a fun notebook, something I don’t mind using because I use it all the time throughout the month 🙂

5. Brainstorm

  • Now that you’re nearly ready, do some brainstorming or jot down all of your ideas for novels.
    • You can also use this time before NaNo to come up with some sort of outline (even if it is a loose outline) and character sketches if you’re a planner or want to at least organize your ideas a bit before you begin writing.
    • Check out my post on planning your novel To Pants or to Plan (that is the question)!

And some inspiration for you:

a-writers-manifesto

Image Credit: http://myquoteshome.com/youre-a-writer-quotes-about-writing/#

Banned Books Week

My favorite banned books

I have always wondered why people felt the need to ban or censor books from libraries and schools.

Books that are enriching, worthwhile, enjoyable, and that teach children and teens amazing lessons about life are banned and challenged by those who think they know better. They want to shelter children from subject matter that they deem unacceptable. In reality, children and teens face these things every day and it is these books that help them come to terms with their experiences. So many banned books are those that children read, remember, and enjoy the most.

Banned Books Week

www.bannedbooksweek.org

My top 5 favorite banned books:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

tokillamockingbirdThis book changed my life and I was appalled when I discovered that it had been challenged or banned by so many schools and libraries for language and was called a “filthy, trashy novel”  (ala.org). In reality, I feel that To Kill a Mockingbird is a beautiful novel that teaches acceptance and shows those who read it that doing the right thing isn’t always easy. The positive messages in this novel far outweigh any negative message that some feel it gives children.

2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak_1st_Edition_Cover

http://madwomanintheforest.com/

I will never have enough positive things to say about Speak. It has been banned and even called “pornography” by a gentleman who obviously didn’t read the novel. Laurie Halse Anderson has written a novel that gives hope to victims of sexual assault and bullying. In no way is this novel ever pornographic and while some people feel that the subject matter is unsuited to the age group the novel is written for, the unfortunate truth is that this is a subject faced by many teens. This book can help save lives and encourages people who have experienced sexual abuse to speak out.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

bkAbsolutelyTrueDiary

http://fallsapart.com/

Another favorite of mine The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been banned for “Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group” (ala.org). God forbid the words “boner” or “masturbation” are used in a book for teens. By removing books from shelves for that reason alone teaches tens that their changing bodies are dirty and something to be ashamed of. While the above stated topics are explored in the novel, it is about so much more than that as a whole. It is a touching, funny, sad account of the life of a Native American teenager. It shows what he goes through and addresses the topics of poverty and bullying among others.

4. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling

http://www.jkrowling.com/

http://www.jkrowling.com/

The Harry Potter series has been banned for  “anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence.” (ala.org). To be completely honest, I think that this is a huge crock of shit. Not once in the whole book did it encourage children to explore the occult or Satanism. While there was violence, it was the good vs. evil violence that we see in so many children’s books and movies. It is not excessive, nor is it the whole point of the series. Harry Potter teaches values about friendship, belief in your own abilites, and standing up for others (among many other things) making it a positive experience for those who read the series.

5. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Banned Books WeekOne of my childhood favorites, Harriet the Spy was “banned and challenged by many parents and teachers who felt Harriet was a poor role model for children because she exhibited delinquent tendencies.” Seriously? I highly doubt that this children’s classic is at fault for my foul mouth. Harriet is a great female protagonist who is far from perfect. What she did hurt others and in turn she was hurt as well. However, she learned from her mistakes and it helped her become a better person (character). She is likable and fun and I love that we are seeing more characters like her in today’s children’s lit and YA.

 

What are your favorite banned and challenged books?

Why are they banned? How do you feel about it? Let’s chat!!!

Why I Write Blog Hop

why-i-write_cropped

I would like to send a thank you and a shout-out to Lipsy over at Lipsyy Lost & Found for nominating me to participate in the Why I Write Blog Hop. This blog hop was created by Katy over at The Folly and Bloom!

Why do I write?

writing-is-hard-gif

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember, but my love for writing developed when I was in 2nd grade. My teacher, Mrs. Barnes encouraged us to write our own book complete with illustrations. It sparked then, and has continued and developed until now. I write because I have so many stories and characters running around in my head at all times. I write to keep these stories alive, so I don’t forget and so I can put them someplace other than in my head. I write because I hope to share these stories with others someday. Writing has become something that is both cathartic and exciting for me, and is something that I couldn’t live without.

What am I working on?

Right now, I am working on my 3rd draft of The Girl in the Glass Coffin, the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2013. I am about 1/2 way through my 3rd draft and hope to have a completed (or almost completed) draft by the time NaNo 2014 rolls around when I hope to write a sequel or companion to that book or another book altogether (still haven’t decided yet).

A very bad cover for The Girl in the Glass Coffin (which I made just to have something for the NaNo site). But it does have an old photo the house that inspired the novel on it :)

A very bad cover for The Girl in the Glass Coffin (which I made just to have something for the NaNo site). But it does have an old photo the house that inspired the novel on it 🙂

I am also working on blog posts to relaunch Amanda’s Nose in a Book again! I like to brainstorm, make lists, and draft blog posts in my notebook before typing them up.

How does it differ from others of it’s genre?

The Girl in the Glass Coffin is a paranormal/sci-fi/romance that blends a ghost story with time travel, demons, and a bit of romance dashed in there for flavor. I was inspired to write it from a true story I heard as a child that both scared and intrigued me. The ghost story associated with that story has always stuck with me and was the basis for The Girl in the Glass Coffin. It’s gone in it’s own direction since then, but I hope to keep incorporating hints and details from the original story.

How does my writing process work?

Of course it always starts with an idea, a spark of inspiration from one of the many stories that take up space in my head. I then try to brainstorm how I can make the story work, the characters that would be involved, and the setting.

photo(14)

For The Girl in the Glass Coffin, I started with an amazing dinosaur notebook that is nearly filled up with photos, character sketches, some outlines and notes, and handwritten chapters and scenes from my rough draft. I like having some information and research done ahead of time and I like to keep it all in the same place (usually a notebook instead of on a computer). I might outline a little bit, but only to figure out a beginning and a couple of main points and events I’d like to make along the way.

I’d like to think I’m half planner and half pantser because after I have a bare-bones outline I fly by the seat of my pants from each planned moment.

Revision is a beast for me, but it’s also fun. I know of some writers who do note cards and outlines and such. I like to have a printed copy of my work, which I read and write directly on. Some scenes I toss, others I completely re-write, or add. Lately, I’ve added sharing my work with a critique partner (CP) to my process.

Oh yeah— add coffee— lots and lots of coffee 🙂

I’d like to nominate Dianna from Our Sweetened Life and Jen from Jen’s Pen Den

What I'm Reading & Writing Wednesday

whatimreadingandwritingwednesday

What I’m Reading and Writing Wednesday is my spin on WWW Wednesday brought to us by the fabulous MizB over at Should Be Reading. Thank you MizB for hosting such a great weekly feature.

Hello friends! Long time no see! I have been busy making cute and cuddly crochet things for all of the fall craft shows I have scheduled. But I would also like to start the blog back up again too. Here’s to a successful relaunch.

What I’m Reading Now:

thenightcircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Yes, after hearing about this book from countless bloggers and vloggers I am finally diving into this one. It’s not exactly what I expected, but there is such beautiful imagery and description. It’s taking me a bit longer to read because I’m savoring it.

What I’m Reading Next:

0-545-05474-5I’ve had this book on my shelf since the spring and have yet to get to it, but I would like to read it very soon. Autumn makes me want to curl up with a good book anyway.

What I’m Writing:

Writing is where I have been focusing a lot of my time lately. I am planning on expanding what I blog about to talk about writing on a larger scale and have been drafting some blog posts and brainstorming different ways that I can talk with all of your about writing.

I am still working on Draft 3 of my novel The Girl in the Glass Coffin. Even though this has been a slow process, I’m trying to get a chapter or two a week to my critique partner. The goal was to be finished with Draft 3 before NaNoWriMo. I’m working on Chapter 13 right now and I’m about half-way there. Maybe I can finish this draft if I can up that up to at least two, maybe 3 chapters revised per week.

What you can look for from Amanda’s Nose in a Book:

  •  Posts about NaNoWriMo and why you should do it! (I’m an ML this year, so I’m already prepping).
  • Pantsing vs planning
  • Sharing your writing with others
  • The usual memes that I participate in
  • Hopefully a book review every other week (maybe every week if I can work more reading in with my writing).

And much more!

What are you reading and/or writing this week?