Friday, December 26, 2014

2015 Reading Challenge

Christmas was yesterday and for me, it was good. The weather in my area was really nice and a little bit warm for the month of December, but it was decent and I couldn't complain. I spent a great day with my family. Obviously, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it also happens to be my cousin's birthday as well, which makes the day a little more special. I got several nice gifts and I love every one of them. I got two books that I had asked for - If I Stay by Gayle Forman and The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom. I'm a big fan of Mitch Albom's and have every book except for one and I can't wait to read this one. Hope you all had a great Christmas.

So I came across a reading challenge for 2015 and it sounds good and I figured I would give it a try. It challenges you to read 50 books (well technically 52 because one is to read a trilogy) from different genres or containing certain things or pertaining to certain people/things/time periods. It's not an incredibly hard challenge, but I think it's going to be fun anyway. This equates to a book a week if you break it down. The reading challenge is linked below.

In addition, I'll be participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Basically, you decide on a certain number of books to read in a year and try your best to accomplish it. You can read anything you want. I did it this year as well, but have failed miserably so I'm going to attempt it again and since I'm going to be doing the other challenge, I figure I'll do better in 2015. All you have to do is become a member of their site (free by the way) and set your goal and keep track of what you read.

Happy Reading and Keep On Writing!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Cracker Book Tag

So I've decided to do the Christmas Cracker Book Tag since it's Christmas week.

1. Pick a book with a Wintery Cover.
    The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere

2. Pick a book you'll likely buy as a present.
    This year, I am buying my nephew (4 months old) one of my favorite books - The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

3. Pick a festive themed book.
    Touched By Angels by Debbie Macomber

4. Book you can curl up with by the fireplace.
    First, I don't have a fireplace, so it's more of my favorite place to read. Divergent by Veronica Roth

5. Pick a book you want to read over the festive period.
    Have a Little Faith by Mitch Alboms

6. Pick a book that's so good it gives you chills.
    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Need I say more.

7. Pick a book that's going on your Christmas Wish List.
    Picking just one is impossible, so I'm going with Insurgent by Veronica Roth.

This wraps it up. Hope you enjoyed it.

Keep Reading and Happy Writing!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Memories

Christmas is around the corner. So I figured I would share some of my Christmas memories.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. My family has always gotten together and it will remain a special time in my life. Growing up, we celebrated like any normal family. We didn't get the hottest toys because frankly, we couldn't afford to, but we still had enough that it was fine. Sometimes the better gifts in life are the simple things, which is exactly what we enjoyed. On Christmas morning, we would go to Church together as a family and then come back and eat breakfast, all before we could even open our gifts. As a kid, it seemed like forever before we could open our toys and what not, but it instilled in us the true meaning of Christmas. And that would be, of course, the birth of Jesus Christ. Later in the day, we would all go to my grandma's house to visit with family on my dad's side. Aunts, uncles and cousins would come up from Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. All of us kids got our gifts from grandma of course, but she also had stockings for us, which overflowed with lots of things and without fail, that would always include fruit. It was normal for us and it was special for me. I have to mention that a cousin shares her birthday with Christmas and Jesus' birth and I always felt that that was pretty cool. Sometime between Christmas and New Year's, there was a family Christmas party at an aunt's house. Being that my immediate family lived right next door, we were always obligated to go no matter what. That would get annoying at times, but with time, I came to enjoy the time with all my cousins. If the party happened to fall on New Year's Day, we would go out on my aunt's porch to watch the string bands perform down the street. It consisted of our local string band, as well as a couple of other neighborhood ones.

The Christmas that almost wasn't. The year 2001. That year, on this very day, I lost an uncle who was very special to me. The worst thing was that we never got to say goodbye to him because he had passed away suddenly. His funeral was held December 27th, with the viewing the day before. With that said, it was the first Christmas that I couldn't look forward to and couldn't be happy for the most part. My family and I did what we could and tried our best to make it a good Christmas, but it just wasn't the same knowing that we had to say our final goodbye to him immediately after Christmas. I had a hole in my heart that year (figuratively speaking of course). I can say it brought us together and I'll always appreciate that.

Years passed and things started to change as we got older. Don't worry, we still get together with family on Christmas and the Christmas party continued on for several years. When my aunt was put in a nursing home, we had the party there once. It was different, but it was still fun.

Then came the Christmas of 2010. My grandma had died in March. I had been super close to her and was a primary caregiver for her for a few years. Losing her was absolutely devastating to me and I didn't know how I would get through Christmas without her. One day in December, a musician that I like posted a song that I will always hold dear to me. The song is called Not Far Apart by Irish singer Ryan Kelly, also a member of the Irish band, Celtic Thunder. It's about loved ones in heaven still being there in spirit at Christmas time and how they never leave us. I'll post the song at the end of this. It's special to me because I felt like that was \what my grandma would have wanted me to know and I'm glad I have something to go to if I feel sad around Christmas or anytime really. It still didn't prepare me for how hard it would hit me missing her on Christmas Eve that year. Christmas was pretty hard to get through, but it was special regardless and it ended up being good. That's all I could ever ask for. I still miss my grandma everyday and especially around the holidays and always will. But I have the most amazing family to make it a bit better.

With the birth of my nephew four months ago, this Christmas seems to be taking on a new meaning. We're starting a new generation in my family and I can't wait to start traditions with my little buddy. I think we all want him to be able to look back on Christmas and remember all the special memories with his family, like I am able to now.

In conclusion, Christmas will always be my favorite holiday for many reasons. I like getting my loved ones gifts and seeing their reactions to them. Going to Church/Mass on Christmas is something I enjoy. But I really enjoy spending time with my family and spending time with the ones that I love. I only wish I could spend it with all of my family members, who are scattered all over the country. It doesn't take much for me to be happy and Christmas will always be special to me.

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Treasure the time with your family and friends because you never know when it will be their last.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Losing the Excuses - Tips on Finding the Time to Write

I don't have time. I have to work all day. I have to take care of the kids. I have things to do around the house. I'm travelling or on vacation. I'm tired. Like exercise, finding the time to write can be hard sometimes (especially if you're one of those who don't write as a full time job). So I'm here to tell you a few ways to ditch those excuses and write the book you want to write.

  1. Make time to write. This is self explanatory and I know, you are saying how do I find the time to write if I don't actually have time. Well, this is the basis for the rest of the tips, so keep reading.
  2. Get up an hour earlier. If possible, get up before you usually get up, like an hour before. Think about it. That may be the only time that you have peace and quiet - you know, before the kids have to get up for school or something when you have to help get them ready. Take advantage of any time you have, no matter how much time it is.
  3. Write after the kids go to bed. The house is going to be quieter. This works better if you're a single parent, but if you're married, have no fear. Take about 30 minutes before going to the bedroom to write.
  4. Use household tasks to think. No matter what you are doing (washing the dishes, vacuuming or mopping the floors, cooking dinner, etc), think about a scene or character you want to create, what you're going to write next like a new story or something along those lines. Write down any ideas you have.
  5. Always have a notebook and a pen nearby. You never know when an idea will strike and if you write it down right away, you won't forget it later.
  6. Take advantage of when the kids/spouse are out of the house. Whether they're at a friend's house, running errands or enjoying a hobby (golf for men usually and girl time for women), use that time to get your story down. The house will be less crazy and quieter so spend the time wisely and do what you want to do (for the purpose of this post, that would be writing).
  7. Set a goal and keep to it. Set aside a certain time of the day for writing - a trick may be to tell the kids to be quiet for a half hour or so, that way you can get some writing done.
Remember that you don't have to write a book in a day or a few days.  Set a goal each day of how much time you want to spend writing and do your best to stick to it. It may be as little as 20 minutes or maybe two hours, whatever it may be. Or a goal could be writing a page or a couple pages a day. And finally, a goal could be how many words you want to write a day (100 to 1,000 more or less).

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Year in Books

So, it's almost the end of 2014. I've compiled a list of books that I've read this year. Unfortunately, this year I had a lot going on and didn't have the chance to read as much as I would have liked. My kindle also broke earlier this year and I had a lot of books on that to be read. At the end of this year, I'm going to have an awards post/book review based on what I've read.

1. Cutting Edge by Robert W. Walker
2. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
3. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
4. A Chorus Lineup by Joelle Charbonneau
5. The Stanger by Albert Camus
6. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
7. The World According to Garp by John Irving
8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
9. Divergent by Veronica Roth
10. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
11. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
12. Sophie's Choice by William Styron

There may be a couple more that I may have forgotten to add. I am also in the middle of a book now that I'm hoping to finish by the end of the year. I will add to this list when I'm done.

Keep on Writing! Happy Reading!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Writer's Block: a Curse or Blessing

Writer's block. It's something that every writer goes through, whether we like to admit it or not. It's not fun, but is writer's block a blessing in disguise? I think so.

Yes, having to deal with and go through a period of writer's block is not easy. As a writer, it's probably one of the worst things to handle, second to handling rejection (but that's another topic). That's why it may be a "curse" to some people. It can last a little while or maybe a bit longer, but I promise you, you will eventually be able to move on and have those ideas bursting again. This is where the "blessing" part comes in. Sometimes you have to go through a hard time (take writer's block for instance) to get better results, or in this case, better stories/ideas.

Saying that, here are a couple tips to conquer writer's block:
  1. Keep Writing! It seems that every writer will tell you to keep writing and it's true. If you can't think of how to start a new novel/book/writing project, etc, there is always the option to free write. It doesn't matter what you write, just as long as you keep writing is what matters.
  2. Journal. You never know what may come from a simple journal entry and journaling is a form of writing again. It might spark something when you least expect it.
  3. Visit a writing project that you put aside. Every writer will start a writing project, but after awhile, lose interest in it, and put it on the backburner. Revisit it and see where it may lead.
  4. Read a book. This one is simple. Find inspiration from simply reading a book.
  5. Escape! Get out of the house! Sometimes the best place for find inspiration for a story is by visiting a favorite place of yours. Go the beach or the mountains or wherever you like to go to get away. Enjoy the alone time and cherish the memories from those places. Enjoy a bit of fresh air for a change. Sometimes just getting away for a couple hours is all you need to get that writing project flowing again.
Those are my tips for you. Remember that inspiration can come when you least expect it, from overhearing conversation in a restaurant to reading a newspaper headline. Take me for instance. Four months ago, I became a first time aunt to my wonderful nephew. Seeing him for only a couple weeks helped me come up with ideas for stories. He kind of helps, since I want to write children's books, but he was my "blessing" to help me overcome a period of writer's block in my life.

Keep on Writing!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Get To Know Me...a Little

Before I start posting about writing and books, I figured I would do the getting to know me 25 questions tag. So here goes.

1. Do you have a middle name?
    Yes, Anne.

2. What is/was your favorite subject?
     English and French

3. What is your favorite drink?

4. What is your favorite song at the moment?
     Counting Stars by OneRepublic; since it's December and in the Christmas Spirit, my favorite Christmas songs are: O Holy Night and White Christmas. One of my other favorites is Not Far Apart by Irish artist Ryan Kelly (also part of the Irish band Celtic Thunder). It's about loved ones being in heaven at Christmas. Very powerful song and it helped me a lot when my grandma died back in 2010.

5. What would you name your children?
    For a boy, Joshua and Matthew. For a girl, Emily.

6. Do/Did you participate in any sports?
    No. Due to a heart condition, that wasn't/isn't possible for me.

7. What is your favorite book?
    There's so many to choose from. My favorites would have to include The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, along with many others.

8. What's your favorite color?
    Blue and pink.

9. What's your favorite animal?
    Dolphins and koala bears.

10. What's your favorite perfume?
      I don't use perfume.

11. What's your favorite holiday?

12. Have you graduated from high school?

13. Have you been out of the country?
      Yes, I did go to Canada once.

14. Do you speak any other languages?
      Well, I did take four years of French in high school, so I can speak a little of that.

15. Do you have any siblings?
      Yes. I have an older brother.

16. What's your favorite store?
      Aeropostale, Target and Barnes 'N Noble

17. What's your favorite restaurant?
      Applebee's, Olive Garden, California Pizza Kitchen and Friendly's, among others.

18. Do/Did you like school?
      Yes, I enjoyed school for the most part.

19. Who are some of your favorite Youtubers?
      Katytastic, among others

20. What's your favorite movie?
      Once again, there's plenty to choose from. In the spirit of Christmas, I'm going to say White Christmas, Christmas Shoes and Christmas in Connecticut.

21. What are some of your favorite TV shows?
      Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Biggest Loser, Full House, 7th Heaven, One Tree Hill, I Love Lucy, Hawaii Five O, Golden Girls, Red Band Society, among others.

22. PC or Mac?

23. What phone do you have?
      a phone from tracfone

24. How tall are you?

25. Do you have any pets?
      No, although eventually I would like a golden retriever.

So there you go. Hope you enjoyed learning some facts about me.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

New Welcoming

Hello. I am starting this blog to talk about all aspects of writing. I am someone who wants to become a published author and I will be writing about the process of becoming just that. I have always loved writing and it has brought me joy and pleasure to do it. I'm also an avid reader, so I'm planning to do some book reviews as well. I will be also feature writing tips, share some articles on writing and interesting things along my path to success. This concludes this post now. Next up will be a getting to know me type of thing. Until then, have a great day and bye for now.