Tag Archives: readalong

[TSS] Breaking Out of My Reading Slump

I’m so happy to report I’ve broken out of my reading slump!

I tried a variety of things suggested in the comments to my Reading Slump post, including reading short stories and graphic novels. And no, not even Nimona, which I both loved but still haven’t finished, helped.

So I kind of let it go. Stopped fretting about the fact that I couldn’t find any book that could engage me for longer than half an hour.

And then? Book club!

I’m a newbie member of a sci-fi and fantasy book club, the result of me making a bookish friend IRL. The first meeting I’ll be attending is this coming Wednesday. And the book we’ll be discussing?

Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris.

elantris

This is one of those whopping big fantasy books, a good 600 plus pages. And on Friday I realized my husband, the former book-reading demon, had already started the book (he’s coming to book club with me) and if I didn’t start reading I might be the only one to show up with the book unread.

So I put aside my upcoming work deadlines yesterday, and plunged in.

I keep forgetting how the best fantasy novels are always page turners, even though they’re often large chunky books with tons of world-building thrown in. Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris is good. I mean, really, really good. I knew this by the end of the second chapter.

I devoured the novel. Last night, at 2:30 a.m. I reluctantly put it down—I’ve been waking up earlier and 2:30 a.m. is now rather late for me. But first thing in the morning? Forget e-mail. Forget all the links and news I like to read on my phone. Forget meditation. I reached for my e-reader and picked up where I’d left off the night before.

I finished the book this afternoon with a deep, satisfied sigh. I’ve heard about Sanderson’s fans asking when he’ll be writing the sequel, and now I know why. I’d LOVE another Elantris novel!

And I’ve now officially busted out of my reading slump. It happened in an unexpected way—I honestly thought I’d be dragging myself through Elantris, trying to get through it before Wednesday night rolled around. Hah! Little did I know.

I’m now on a quest to read more of Brandon Sanderson’s work. And more fantasy, too. The past two years, I’ve mostly been reading mysteries, thrillers and urban fantasies, with the bigger, chunkier fantasies languishing in my TBR, even though I love fantasy novels.

It definitely feels good to be out of that reading slump. And I’ll probably finish Nimona soon, too.

And there’s also the #AtlasRAL over at Book Chatter. I’ve been doing terribly with readalongs the past couple of months, but now that my reading slump is over, I have very high hopes when it comes to my reading!

Snapshot: June 10, 2015

Time: 9:26 p.m.

Feeling: Pretty good. Probably a good thing that I didn’t write my Snapshot yesterday, when I was feeling rather bummed out. Today? Much better.

Eating: Nothing spectacular to report today. I do have an organic steak defrosting right now. I had a mostly-veggie dinner earlier and sadly, this is my later-in-the-evening snack. Sadly, because I’ve been trying to kick the late-night eating habit but it’s too hard.

Drinking: It’s too hard because of the wine. I like to have a glass of Malbec at nights, but I don’t like to drink wine without food. Quite the dilemma, no?

Reading: I’m still reading Misery for #MiseryRAL but haven’t gotten too much further into the book yet.

I spent some time today reading a bit more of Gideon by Alex Gordon. I’m past the historical chapters, so just diving into the present-day scenes. It’s been very interesting, and so far I can see it living up to the blurb on the back of the book:

Gideon blurb

Listening: I just finished Peter Clines’ The Fold this morning and all I can say is: go read it if you like sci-fi thrillers!! It was so good. I like how Clines gives us the science without it being too academic or overwhelming. And the ending! I was on the edge of my seat (actually, I was running/walking at the time—even though I haven’t been bringing an audiobook with me on my walks, I decided to this morning because I only had about half an hour to go and I just had to find out what happened. Luckily, I finished the audiobook before it got dark and cold and the skies started spitting rain …)

thefold

I really liked the protagonist, Mike Erikson, and I’m hoping we’ll get to see him in another book. Ray Porter’s narration was stellar. I definitely recommend this one in audio.

Writing: I finally “got” the short story i was working on way back in April when I was trying to write a short story a week (and then my mom broke her hip and my time and daily schedule went out the window). I’d written down the first paragraph a few weeks ago, and yesterday the rest of it came to me, so that was nice. I haven’t had a chance yet to write it out, but I did capture notes so I wouldn’t forget anything.

I still have to get the first 20 pages of my dark fantasy ready for my workshop course with Kelley Armstrong next month … I’m definitely procrastinating!

Working: I’ve got an index due next week, some more articles, and I’m working on the book marketing stuff, of course.

I’ve also decided to work on something fairly large as a complement to the book marketing: a site for readers. Not a Bookriot-type of site, but one for those readers who aren’t already blogging about books or a part of the online book community, but who do like to go online to get information about books. I think a site like that would be excellent for featuring book bloggers too, so I’m working on incorporating weekly features that will promo book bloggers somehow into my ideas as well.

Since I tend to try for too big too soon, which just overwhelms me, right now I’m developing the features I want to have, but I’m going to begin implementing them a bit at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed. Wish me luck, because I’m going to need it!

Stress Relief: I’ve been doing quite well! I think the walking has a lot to do with it. I’m juggling a lot of things but so far I’ve been quite good at keeping the overwhelm at bay. Hopefully I can keep it up!

Snapshot: June 2, 2015

Time: 3:19 pm

Feeling: A little disappointed. I worked late last night, which meant I was late getting to bed, which means I woke up later than I have been recently … which means I didn’t have my morning walk.

The plan is to go for a walk when Dylan’s at his dance class. Only problem is, I’ll be carrying my handbag so I don’t know how pleasurable it will be walking and lugging that thing around with me at the same time …

Eating: Ward recently made this Thai Celery Salad with Peanuts, and when I tasted it, I said, “We absolutely have to add cooked shrimp to this!” (Notice the we? *cough*) So he made it again, only this time he added a bag of cooked shrimp, which he chopped into half-inch pieces.

And I was right. It IS delicious! A perfect summer salad. So if you do want to give the recipe a try, I’d suggest you add shrimp for an entreé-ready dish.

Thai Celery and Shrimp Salad

Drinking: I really could use another coffee. Might make another decaf.

Reading:

misery

Why, Misery, of course, for Care’s #miseryRAL readalong this month! Anyone else joining in on the readalong fun?

Listening:

thefold

This would be a classic example for an article entitled “Why Newsletter Marketing Works”. (Or maybe it’s just an example of how much of a consumer pushover I am …). I just received an email from Audible telling me that Peter Clines’s new book, The Fold, is now available in audio. I didn’t even realize he had a new book out! So of course I had to scoot over and spend last month’s credit on it, because I’d enjoyed his previous book, 14, so much.

Working: I’m a little afraid if I type out everything I’m working on, I’ll immediately crash into overwhelm. On the bright side, aside from three legal articles I need to get done for Thursday, much of what I’m doing has to do with the book marketing for Booktrope and it’s very, very enjoyable. It’s just that there’s SO MUCH TO DO. Argh.

Writing: And then it dawned on me last night, my writing workshop course with Kelley Armstrong starts mid-July which is only six weeks away. I hadn’t realized it was coming up so fast. I need to have the first 20 pages of my dark fantasy ready for workshopping by the end of this month!

Procrastinating: So of course, with all the work I have to do, I spent a pleasurable two hours organizing my Goodreads shelves. It kind of makes me feel productive. Sort of.

The rest of today: I have nearly two more hours to get stuff done, and then it’s off to hip hop class with Dylan. During which I may, or may not, take my walk. I should, because my Instagram is missing its #dailywalk photo. Or so I think.

Random on a Saturday – 14/03/2015

I know I said last week I was going to start a new feature called This Week in Pictures but ha! I’ve changed my mind (I’m prone to that kind of thing). I woke up this morning with vague memories of a random-type post that I used to write here, and even vaguer memories that it was usually on a Saturday (or a Tuesday but I’m doing my Snapshot posts on Tuesdays, so that’s taken).

Being too lazy to look it up, I’ve decided to just go ahead with it.

***

Woke up to a bit of a puzzle this morning. The WordPress app on my phone had sent me a notification that my stats were going through the roof (there was something about things going “boom” but I can’t remember the exact wording). Since there’s nothing at all on this blog that could possibly send my stats going through the roof, I checked the app and discovered that I was somehow getting all this traffic from Google News.

Of course, it’s impossible to figure out exactly why I was on Google News, since the links on there keep changing. But the really puzzling thing is that all the people Google News was sending my way were landing on my home page, rather than to any particular blog post. Google News only links to posts and articles on specific sites, rather than to sites themselves, so how was this happening?

I’ll probably never figure it out. On the bright side, people seemed to have liked what they saw, as most of them clicked through to read 2.48 pages. Yes.

Update: I should probably mention that to WordPress, “stats going through the roof” seems to be all relative.  So if you normally get a couple of hits a day, and it sees ten visitors in two hours, it will interpret this as your stats going through the roof. At least, that’s how it seems to have been working in my case – my “stats explosion” didn’t even get into triple digits!

***

Filing this under “it figures”, I was all set to read Pet Sematary today while waiting for Dylan to finish his dance classes (on Saturday afternoons, I am there for three and a half hours) and my Kobo ran out of juice. I can’t fathom how this happened, because I checked the battery gauge before I packed the darn thing, and it was nearly full. If it hadn’t been, I would have taken the charger with me. So I ended up having to do some work instead.

***

This week’s photos

(Thought I’d sneak this in here, which will then also save me the trouble of scrambling around for a graphic for this post.)

Photo 2015-03-08, 1 25 31 PM

Photo 2015-03-08, 4 23 22 PM

Photo 2015-03-08, 1 25 47 PM

The first two photos were taken last Sunday on our walk back from the ballet. The last picture was taken on our way there. I thought the book-reading demon‘s shadow looked so eerie.

On set today, what I’m reading, and some random stuff

I was in stage mom mode again today. It’s been a while since the last time I had stage mom duties, when Dylan was a child extra in a number of operas during the CoC’s 2013-2014 season. Last year when he was in the National Ballet’s Nutcracker (he played a guard and a chef), there was no need to be a stage mom, as parents were not allowed backstage at all (and they were very strict about this rule), so there was no waiting around, which was nice. We just dropped him off and picked him up (although what the book-reading demon and I actually did for each performance was buy the cheap standing room tickets, and came back to watch Act II, which was the Act Dylan was in).

Today, Dylan was an extra in a film my daughter Hayley is working on. It’s a thesis film for her final year in filmmaking school, and for this one she’s the cinematographer, or director of photography. They were to be on set the entire afternoon, and I had this vague idea that I’d be able to drop Dylan off and pick him up again later in the afternoon. Ha!

They weren’t too sure exactly when they’d be done (although they knew the time when they had to be finished by), so I ended up hanging around, just in case. (And can you believe it, I forgot to take pictures  of the set- I really need to make picture-taking a habit.)

At first I was on my phone – I mean, I can spend hours on my phone, right? Only I’d already spent time on my phone in the morning, and after a while, I realized I should have brought a book to read. Luckily we live close to where they were shooting, so I ended up coming back home and getting my Kobo (for Pet Sematary) and Dead Scared, the second in S.J. Bolton’s Lacey Flint series.

It was a good thing, too – I read a few more chapters of Pet Sematary for the #gangstercats readalong, and a huge chunk of Dead Scared. It was quite nice to get some unexpected reading time into the day. Dylan had a great time (there were seven other kids there) and we got home in time for a bit of a rest before having to trek back out for his dance class.

Dead Scared

While waiting for him during dance class, I managed to finish Dead Scared, so that’s another one for the done pile! (Now that I’m tracking my reading, I find myself geeking out every time I get to add another entry to my spreadsheets.)

Now the random stuff:

  • our dishwasher started leaking yesterday, so we’re handwashing until the plumber comes tomorrow morning to fix things. My hands are not particularly pleased – this weather’s already been pretty rough on them, and the soapy dishwasher isn’t helping!
  • yesterday on their way home from dance class Dylan and the book-reading demon decided to expand the taxi counting game. We’d been counting only the taxis coming and going on the street we were on, but now it’s been extended to any taxi we see while we’re waiting for the bus or riding the bus back home. They came home with a whopping 267, so tonight on our way home, Dylan and I were determined to beat yesterday’s total. And I believe we would have, too, only the bus we got on had extremely dirty windows, and we had a tough time seeing out them. We only counted 231 taxis but I believe in my heart we would have bested 267 if we’d only been able to actually see out the window.
  • I bought a new laptop today. It should arrive in a few days. The current laptop has been acting rather temperamentally for about a year now. Little things like a black screen even though the rest of the laptop is running fine (when that happens, I have to hook it up to a TV or monitor so I can power it down properly, remove the battery, remove the AC/DC power cord, hold down the start button to discharge whatever energy it is that’s jiggling things up, replace the battery and power cord and restart. Really. I found these instructions online last year and was so amazed they actually work). Oh, and documents not saving when I use “save as”, for a variety of programs. Chrome being laggy, oh, so so laggy. Many more grievances I won’t air here. I’m happy about getting a new laptop, BUT I’m not looking forward to that “transition from old laptop to new laptop” thing we all must do. Mainly because there are a number of programs I think I might have forgotten to save the serial codes for on Evernote (hello, Word? And Roboform?).

The Pet Sematary readalong starts tomorrow!

pet sematary readalong

Mind you, I thought it started today.  All week now, I’d been thinking Saturday was March 1. And as you all probably know, Saturday is not March 1. Sunday is.

This post was actually supposed to be titled, “The Pet Sematary readalong starts today!” Which would have been kind of embarrassing, but luckily I’m not organized or efficient enough to write and schedule my posts ahead of time.

On the bright side, I’ve now got a one day jump on things. This is a good thing, as I have a tendency to “fall behind in terms of stuff in general”, and I understand this is to be a totally stress-free readalong so now I won’t get stressed. Right?

There’s still lots of time for you to join us! The readalong runs from March 1 to April 15, which gives you six whole weeks to join in on the fun. Hop on over to Jill’s post to read all the details. It’s pretty informal – all you’ve got to do is say, “I’m in!” in the comments on her blog, or on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #gangstercats, and then readalong with us.

Why #gangstercats? Because gangster cats are funny, not scary. The same probably cannot be said of Pet Sematary.

Just how scary is it? I suspect the answer might be “very very scary”. In the intro, Stephen King writes,

“When I’m asked (as I frequently am) what I consider to be the most frightening book I’ve ever written, the answer I give comes easily and with no hesitation: Pet Sematary. It may not be the one that scares readers the most – based on the mail, I’d guess the one that does that is probably The Shining – but the fearbone, like the funnybone, is located in different places on different people. All I know is that Pet Sematary is the one I put away in a drawer, thinking I had finally gone too far. Time suggests that I had not, at least in terms of what the public would accept, but certainly I had gone too far in terms of my own personal feelings. Put simply, I was horrified by what I had written, and the conclusions I’d drawn.”

Seriously, doesn’t that make you want to just dive into the book right away?

Snapshot: February 24, 2015

Time:

Feeling: A little on the bleh side. Had a bit of family drama erupt last night. Took me by surprise and today I’m feeling kind of drained. I much prefer reading about family drama than being involved in it!

Reading: I finished 84 Charing Cross Road and all I can say is, it is such a lovely, lovely read. I’d had it in my to-read list for so long, and it’s definitely one of those books about which one says, “what took me so long to get to it?”

And as for what I’ll be reading next … Well, I still have the second half of 84 Charing Cross Road to read: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. And I really want to get back to Norwegian by Night – I’ve read the first three chapters and left off on an interesting part, but it’s on my ereader and I seem to be giving all my attention to print books lately.

spring tide

I’m also eyeing Spring Tide by Cilla and Rolf Börjlind, which arrived from the library yesterday. It looks like it will be an interesting mystery/thriller, and I’m rather in the mood for something like that. And this came in from the library yesterday as well:

seconds

I’ve heard such a lot of good things about Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds and am really looking forward to it.

pet sematary

And of course, there’s the Pet Sematary readalong! It starts March 1st, and the hashtag for this one is #gangstercats (read Jill’s post to find out why).

Listening: I’m listening to Patricia Cornwell’s Flesh and Blood. It’s my first Kay Scarpetta book in eons. I got really tired of how gory they were, way back when. I kind of have the impression she’s toned it down a bit these days. Hopefully this is true, or I won’t be able to listen to this in audio for very long.

Writing: I just finished a short story. It’s about a haunting but it’s not scary. I’m going to leave it for a few days, do another read and some revisions, and then send it off to beta readers. This year I plan on submitting more of my work, so this could be one of the first to get sent out.

I also received Memory’s feedback on my children’s fantasy, Waverley. I’m all pumped up about getting this one out of first draft status now! I sent Memory a very messy first draft – I try not to reread what I’ve written, so I’ll often write two or three versions of a scene, and sometimes add a character or plotline as if I’d already written about that character or plotline. Very confusing, but luckily Memory braved through it all and gave me back such great comments.

Working: I’m working on a couple of articles on student loan forgiveness (I know, not the most enticing subject in the world – well, unless you’re a student mired in student loans). And there’s an index on immigration due later this week too.

Creating: *sad face* Nope. But soon, I hope! I’ve just been so excited with the writing, it’s been hard to remember to do something artsy too.

Photo of the week:  Creeper and Hobbes are a riot sometimes. Hobbes has decided he wants to share Creeper’s box too. So here the two of them are:

Creeper and Hobbes in box

Looking forward to: Starting work on the revisions for Waverley. I’ve promised myself once I get started with the second draft, I’ll treat myself to a membership to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)!

The rest of today: Taking Dylan to dance class, and finishing up those two articles. Nothing glamorous, I’m afraid!