January 2020 Reads

Fiction

To start off the New Year, I picked up The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey. I bought this a long time ago, but didn’t get around to reading it until now. I thought it had some very smart twists and a great world-building. I warmed up to the Grimjinx family instantly, and I was a little disappointed that for most of the book, we don’t actually get to see them operate as a team. I think that’s really the only issue I had with the story, and perhaps it was why I found the middle to ‘sag’ a little. It had an awesome ending though.

Sorcery of Thorns was such a joy to read. It’s the kind of cozy fantasy that was perfect to read on a winter’s afternoon. The characters were all lovable and the romance went at the perfectly right pace for me. The plot was amazing, full of twists and turns. And yes, I have to mention this, being such a big fan of Fullmetal Alchemist, but the plot is very similar to FMA. Not that it takes away any enjoyment. On the contrary, picking up on the similar plot lines made me more excited to see how things would turn out in this world.

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Kabi and Sano

I just sent the latest draft of my story for copyediting, so I’m now back to Art Mode!

Sometimes I forget that I have a character who raised a child for sixteen years entirely alone, by herself. I do actually have a lot of feelings about Kabi, and I have an entire backstory for her, but the novel never presented an opportunity for me to reveal much. Instead she comes off as this super capable, all-knowing character. Now that I’m pretty much wrapping up the novel, ideas for the next book are starting to pop up, and I’m hoping that I could flesh out Kabi’s character more there.

Anyway, we never get to see Kabi and Sano’s life in the forest, so I decided to draw a few snapshots. I have ideas for more, but let’s start off with these.

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Dealing With Writing Insecurity

This topic has been weighing on me for a while now. I try to keep my posts relatively upbeat – even when I’m wrangling with my story — but now that I’ve finished my latest draft, I finally have the energy to tackle this subject.

So, so, so… I noticed while I was working on my latest draft that I’ve been disengaging with the writing and reading communities. It didn’t just happen recently either. It’s been happening since I embarked on writing my novel, and I just wasn’t overtly aware of my reactions until now. I find it such an counter-intuitive behaviour, considering the number of times I complained about how isolating writing is.

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Finished Draft 6!

I’m only 5 days belated from my goal of finishing this draft by the end of 2019, and I don’t think that’s bad at all! I even went from 105K words to 93K words, so I am quite proud of myself.

What’s next? I’ll just polish it up a bit, then off it goes to a copyeditor. After that, we’ll see, but I’m both excited and relieved that I’m finally wrapping up this project.

Wrapping Up 2019

I didn’t plan to write one of these posts, but as I sat in front of my computer this morning and thought about working on the current draft of my novel, my procrastinating brain told me to write a blog post instead. And so, here I am.

Highlights of 2019

  • Visiting the Philippines in January: My family and I rarely visit the Philippines. In the 18 years since we’ve immigrated to Canada, we’ve only gone back twice, this 2019 trip included, so I always consider it a Big Deal when I get the opportunity to go back.
  • Passing my G Driving Exam: This August, after failing once, I have finally passed the last stage of my driving, and I am now fully licensed! I don’t have to think about driving classes anymore. I don’t have to worry about exams anymore. I can finally put it behind me.
  • More stable environment at work: 2018 was a stressful time at my job, because my team dwindled down to 2 people. There was a lot of restructuring and many senior engineers left. This year, although we have not replaced the members we’ve lost, I have learned to manage the things that caused me stress last year.
  • Finishing 2 drafts of my story: This year, I finished drafts 4 and 5 of my WIP, and I received valuable feedback from beta readers, and even an editor. I feel like the story at its current state is so much more polished.

There might only be 4 things on the list, but it’s also important for me to acknowledge that I have a lot of blessings in my life. When I go to bed each night and pray, no matter how bad my day is, I try to remember that I’m one of the luckiest people on earth. I try to be grateful for the simplest things. I live in a decent home, I have three meals a day, I have a good and steady job, I am financially comfortable. Not many people have all of those.

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Teetering between MG and YA

Last weekend, I surprised myself by reaching the 24th chapter of my sixth draft. It seems like I might just be able to finish this draft before the new year. That was my initial intention, but as I slowly lost steam around the half-way point, I became resigned to the possibility that I will finish much later. I’m still thinking of giving myself some slack, because the holidays are a busy time of the year, and I don’t know what might come up and derail me.

But yes, I’m on chapter 24, out of 31 predicted chapters. Now that I’m nearing the end of this draft, I’m once again thinking about where in the MG/YA spectrum my story really falls.

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Tuesday Tunes: Mree

For today’s Tuesday Tunes, I want to share an American indie artist that I’ve been following for years: Mree!

Mree describes her genre as “folktronica” or “dream folk.” Her songs have a lot of ambiance, deep lyrics, and amazing harmonies. She produces all of her songs. I remember listening to her music while writing very introspective fanfiction, hehe.

Here are some of my favourites from her.

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My Favourite Books/Series

I often compare the books I read to the ones I enjoyed before, so I figured I would compile my favourite books here as a reference.

It was difficult for me to choose my “favourite” books, because we tend to judge how much we like a book by how many times we’ve read it. Unfortunately I’m not a big re-reader. While there are a few books I’ve read multiple times, there others I’ve only read once that still gave me a phenomenal reading experience. I included those ones in my list as well.

None of these are in order, by the way. (Well, with the exception of the first one! That one really is my favourite book of all time!)

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No NaNoWriMo & An Early Look At My 2020 Plans

Since I started doing NaNoWriMo in 2016, I have participated in every single WriMo challenge, including the camps in April and July, up until last November. I got to the point in my novel where I didn’t find the fast-paced, get-your-words-down-at-all-cost objective of NaNoWriMo helpful anymore.

That’s still true this time around, so I’m a little sad to say that I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Even though my participation spanned less than two years, it still feels odd not to be gearing up for it. I remember how I used to prepare all of my notes and outlines just in time for the challenges, and studiously keeping up with my word counts when it was time to crunch them. In some ways, even though they were exhausting, I miss those months. It gave me something to focus on outside of work, and my consistent progress made me feel very productive.

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