I Wrote a Novel in 30 Days.

check out the Wordle for my NaNoWriMo novel: fly awayI did it. I wrote a novel in 30 days. Like a whole story with a beginning middle and end – the whole enchilada you could say.

I’ve tried this before and failed several times. I’ve never been very good at finishing larger writing projects, especially if no grade is involved so this was really quite a feat for me and I’m feeling awfully proud right now and calling myself a novelist, authorist and super freaking awesome and stuff.

It wasn’t easy, although sometimes it seemed that way. Some days I just wrote my little heart out which seriously made up for the days that I just sort of stared at the computer blankly – or the week we went out of town which seriously limited my writing time, like more than usual.

I think one of the things that made a difference this time was that I really tried to turn off my inner editor. I told myself, “Just write.” When I came to those daily road blocks where I simply had no idea what to write, I just wrote stuff anyway until the next step eventually got dragged out of me. There’s probably a lot of major major major editing in my future, but it’s totally worth it because I actually have a finished story to work with instead of staring at a half empty plot.

The last day of the competition was definitely the hardest. It got pretty bad when I wrote the words “The End” about 5,000 words before the finish line, knowing full well the story was simply over. I had to go back through about 1/3 of the book and just add in details anywhere I could, a few extra words here, a few split contractions there. I even wrote an epilogue to get through the last 1,000 words but I made it and I’m thrilled!

My story by the way? It’s pretty ridiculous. It’s a sort of dystopian post-war love story filled to the brim with post traumatic stress disorders, scheming evil people, underground railroads and grapefruits. Plus I quote the Beatles like a lot, just for good measure.

Have you ever written a novel or novella? Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?

FIR' 10 : Questions # 9 & 10: on Multi-tasking and follow through

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

I was out of town last week and didn’t blog Question #9 and being the over-achiever that I pretend to be, I thought I’d just answer both today.

Here’s the question for last week:

Once you begin a book, do you feel compelled to finish it? Or have you been known to give up in the middle of a book, to walk away from a book that is just too annoying, boring, etc.?

It’s always my intention to finish a book once I’ve picked it up and for a long time I tried to struggle through to the end of a book whether I enjoyed it or not, but after awhile… there were simply too many books. My bookshelves were filling quickly than I could finish them (they still are) and I gradually came to realize that might never slow down.

Also? I read for myself, not for some lofty goal of being “well read” although that would be nice. And really who’s defining the words “well read”? I think if I’m enjoying the books I’m reading, then I’m well read. Torturing myself with books I don’t like just because someone else maybe thought I should read it? Not worth my time. So while I do try to attempt a book that’s recommended for being a classic or everyone loved it or whatever, if in the end I’m not feeling it, I’ll move onto something else.

My SIL gives every book 100 pages before bailing and I like that idea though I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to force myself to stick to one page number. Sometimes I put a book aside temporarily in favor of something else and hopefully pick it up again shortly after.

And here’s this week’s question:

Do you have multiple books going at once? Or do you prefer to stick to one book at a time?

Occasionally I’ll try to read multiple books at once, if say I’m reviewing one book but was in the middle of another, or if I just can’t seem to choose which book I want to read, sometimes I’ll read a couple pages of each for a few nights until one of the books comes to the forefront of the stack.

Also since getting the Kindle, there’s been that pull to read an e-book when I’m out and paper books when I’m home, but since I don’t get out much sometimes that might mean it could take me literally forever to finish something. I read Little Women sporadically for awhile after I first got it, but mostly read other things until we went on vacation last week when I was able to devote my time to it. Now I’m halfway through and determined to finish it so I’ve been ignoring the bookshelves in favor of my e-reading.

Basically, I have a pretty short attention span and not as much reading time as I’d like so as much as I wish I read multiple books at once, it usually doesn’t pan out for me long-term.

How about you? Can you multi-task your reading? Do you always finish the book you are reading?

mini-aside: How are your challenges going? Less than one month until the Fall season and the challenge are over and I’m pleased to report that I’ve now read all 7 of my initial picks and if I finish Little Women before winter arrives I’ll be able to add an additional 2 books to that list for a total of 9 books read this Fall and 31 books read so far this year. Not bad!

Mommy & Me Monday: Bedtime Stories

reading Curious George with MM

Dan took this picture of MM and I reading Curious George together while on vacation at grandpa’s house. Little BB had already fallen asleep in the kids’ room so we curled up on mommy and daddy’s bed and read one of his favorite George stories, where Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat go see a movie together and of course all mayhem and mischief ensues.

One of our favorite things about this story is the shadow puppets that George makes after he breaks the projector (I told you, mischief and mayhem). MM was fascinated by this so daddy taught him how to do the shadow puppets himself awhile back and he still loves to imitate George now as we read the story.

We typically read stories in MM’s bed and I have to say I liked this change of pace. Our bed is much bigger and gave more room to cuddle together while reading, which made for a really cute photo op.

By the way, these Curious George storybook collections are our favorite book to travel with because we get almost a dozen great stories in one book. We always love a good George story, especially MM (My Monkey), and I love only having to remember one book on vacation. We actually have the red book AND the blue book because we love them so much. I definitely recommend picking one up at Amazon where you can get either book for less than $8 right now!

There’s only one rule for Mommy & Me Monday: You don’t talk about Mommy & Me Monday… You post a picture of you and your baby or babies; your children, your “baby” (ie significant other) or even your fur babies. The whole point is that YOU are getting in front of the camera instead of behind it!

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious? Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Classic Book Review : Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery I read a lot growing up but didn’t often manage to convince myself to read anything of great quality, preferring the easy and addictive Babysitters Club novels and similar fluff pieces of fiction. I’ve been trying to make amends lately, finally getting around to the classics which have up to now evaded me. Gone With the Wind, Pride and Prejudice and now Anne of Green Gables can be counted as all-time favorites.

I was immediately drawn to this cute, modern book cover in our local store and had to have it, over the more old fashioned classic covers. Even better? This was one less expensive and not abridged or anything silly like that. The font was nice and large, crisp and easy to read without being silly. I think this would be the perfect addition for any of today’s youth, too. I love the spunky look of Anne on this cover – despite the very current style, I think it perfectly portrays everything that Anne with an E is all about.

For anyone new to Green Gables, here’s a quick description from Goodreads.com:

When Anne Shirley arrives at Green Gables farm on Prince Edward Island, she surprises everyone: first of all, she is a girl. Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew, had specifically asked for an orphan boy. She has bright red hair that won’t manage and a mouth that won’t shut. Nothing will ever be the same at Green Gables!

A favorite story of generations of girls ever since it was first published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic story of one girl’s profound effect on a small Canadian community has stayed in print for nearly one hundred years and has been made into a popular TV series and even a musical.

I think it might go without saying that I adored this book, but I’ll say it anyway : I adored this book. Like big puffy heart love love loved it. At first the writing style took a little time to get into, like most classic literature. It is awfully verbose and descriptive enough to give me Nathanial Hawthorne-esque flashbacks – but the character of Anne was so … heartwarming … that I soldiered through the sometimes torturous descriptions of Prince Edward Island, through the eyes of young Anne.

And I was delighted to find that as the grew older, the book got better.  I thought it was a really interesting description of the coming of age – the book’s content grows with the girl and you really come to fall in love with the main character and her cast of adopted family and friends – and you will definitely want to move to Prince Edward Island by the time you’ve finished the book!

I was giddy to find out that all of the Anne books are available for free on my Kindle and quickly downloaded them all, including the first book just because well, it’s free! I don’t read quickly on my Kindle, having so many print books also vying for my attention, but once I finish my current e-read, Little Women, I plan to dive back into the world of Green Gables and I am really looking forward to it!

Did you read Anne of Green Gables growing up? Were you a fan or not? What is your favorite classic novel?

Looking Ahead: Momma Challenges Herself To Read The Classics in 2011

momma challenges herself to read the classics

I’ve mentioned here a few times that I am probably one of the worst read English Major Graduates of all-time. There are dozens of classics I’ve never read. Like it could make your head spin just to think – and often does make my husband’s head spin when the subject comes up and we find once again that my husband is much better read than I am (::coughs:: private school education ::coughs::)

The only books I remember being required to read in my four years of high school are Romeo & Juliet and The Scarlett Letter. Yup, that’s it. I mean mayyybe there were more, but I don’t remember them so it doesn’t really count. In college I read a lot of the more archaic stuff, a good bit of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Romantic Era Poetry and so on. So a loooot of great books fell through the cracks.

I’ve been trying to slowly catch up with the rest of the world and read some of the classics like Pride & Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Gone With the Wind, etc. and I’ve enjoyed almost all of them. I thought I’d challenge myself to really kick it up a notch in 2011 and I’m inviting you to do the same! Maybe we can link up and share our classic experiences next year?

Anyway, here is a list of 30 books that I’m interested in reading next year. This is in no way a finished list. These are not the only classic books I ever plan to read, that list had over 100 titles and seemed too daunting. Truthfully, I think this list of 30 books is probably totally unrealistic and too long also but I couldn’t bear to narrow it down anymore and decided to just list them all here and read what I can. I know I’ll want to read some non-classics, too, next year – book club picks, review books that come my way (pretty please?) and all the books that catch my eye at the bookstore and library – you know how it is, right?

But enough of my babbling and excuses, let’s get down to the list. I’d love to read your lists, too! Want to make a list of 30 books of your own? Or less? Or more? Let’s be Bookish List Making Nerds together! I may even make a little button for us to use if there is enough interest. Oh look, I’m babbling again…

30 Classic Books I’d Love to Read in 2011

  1. Peter Pan by J.M Barrie (I own it)
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  3. The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) by Pearl S. Buck (I own it)
  4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (free on kindle)
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (free on kindle)
  7. The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald
  8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  9. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (free on kindle)
  10. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  12. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (free on kindle)
  13. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  14. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy (free on kindle)
  15. 1984 by George Orwell
  16. Metamorphoses by Ovid
  17. Anthem by Ayn Rand (free on kindle)
  18. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  19. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  20. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  21. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (free on kindle)
  22. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  23. Dracula by Bram Stoker (free on kindle)
  24. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  25. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (free on kindle)
  26. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (free on kindle)
  27. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  28. Night by Elie Weisel (I own it)
  29. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (free on kindle)

Some of these are older than others, some considered more of a “classic” I’m sure. I know there are probably books not on this list that you’re all “waaaahhhh?”about, but hey. There’s always 2012, right? Feel free to leave commentary about my choices in the comments section, that’s half the fun you know. And definitely, if you’d like to join in – let me know!!

FIR' 10: Question #8 "Where Do You GET All Those Books Anyway?"

Fall Into Reading 2010 @ Callapidder DaysAs part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, Katrina @ Callapidder Days has decided to post a weekly question related to the challenge.

She writes, “I thought it would be a great way to keep Fall Into Reading participants connected throughout the course of the challenge.”

Here’s the question for this week:

Where do you get the books you read? Are you a faithful library patron? Or maybe a bookstore junkie? Do you exchange books with friends or family members?

I think the real question here should be, “Where don’t you get your books?” as I get my books from a wide variety of sources, including but not limited to:

  1. Amazon.com – whenever I’m ordering something and need an extra $5 or $10 or so to get free super saving shipping, I often convince the hubby to let me splurge for a book. Whether or not this actually delivers us a real savings if often tough to say but it does often result in me getting a book so I don’t dwell.
  2. The clearance racks of Barnes & Noble or Borders. I like sales and typically if I can find a book I’ve just been dying to read that’s on sale for some obscene price, I’m much more likely to spring for it.
  3. The little book section at Walmart near the bathroom. Walmart’s prices are usually awfully competitive and standing around the bathroom waiting for the kids often gives me ample time to “just have to have it puh-lease!!!!”
  4. The library of course, though not as often as I should. This spring and summer I did a great job making good use of the library but I fell out of habit this fall and now simply have too many books to read to try and squeeze a library book in, too. Our closest library has a truly terrible selection, so usually when I want a book from the library I request it online and wait for an email telling me it’s in and waiting for me. Sometimes I even make my husband pick it up for me on his way home from work – which I think classifies me as truly lazy, truly ingenious or both.
  5. Yard sales, library book sales, etc. You know those magical places where you can find a much coveted book for a dollar or two?  Love those places. But for the sake of my over flowing bookshelves I don’t visit them often.
  6. My amazing book club is trying out this fun thing where the book club president person of awesomeness checks out like fifteen copies of the book we are reading next and hands them out at the meeting. Then next month we bring the books back, she returns them and passes out the next month. We’re still giving this idea a try and seeing how good people are at returning said books but I personally LOOOOVE it to pieces as it perfectly compliments my laziness.
  7. I do get a few books for review though I certainly wouldn’t mind getting MORE of those. If anyone has a book they’d like reviewed or works for a book PR kinda firm, feel free to email me at mommablogsalot at gmail dot com. I read a lot of mainstream fiction, young adult, historical fiction, a bit of sci fi fantasy and heck, probably anything.
  8. Also sometimes people who love me a lot will buy me a book or give me a gift card to procure my own. I love these people dearly and might be compelled to jump in front of a moving bus for them. Just sayin…

Where do you get the books you read?