Monthly Recap: April 2017

April was a crazy whirlwind of a month with lots of writing, not a lot of reading and tons of excitement for the month ahead.

What I Read

GRAND TOTAL: 2 (womp womp)

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor ★★★☆☆
To preface this, Taylor’s trilogy – The Daughter of Smoke and Bone – are three of my favorite books of all time. So when I learned she had a new release, I was ready to devour it as I had her others. Per usual, her prose is absolutely gorgeous. I never know whether to be totally intimidated or inspired. Her world building is similarly perfect – it is strange and beautiful and deep and formed without any inconsistency.

But…

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Where her prose and world building excelled, the pacing almost killed me. The first two-thirds of this book felt like filler, and I found myself frustrated and tapping my fingers on the pages, waiting for SOMETHING, ANYTHING to happen. At times, I considered not finishing, and then there were times that I couldn’t put it down. It didn’t help that I couldn’t connect with the characters quite like I could with Karou and Akiva in DOSAB.

My verdict: Yes, I would recommend this book especially if you’re looking for probably the most beautiful and unique modern writing I’ve seen. BUT if you are easily bored, crave lots of action or only have an afternoon to read… Maybe try this one instead.

It’s My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence by Meg Kennedy Dugan & Roger R. Hock ★★★★★
In my new novel, my protagonist has recently liberated herself from an abusive relationship, pressed charges, and is in the process of starting over her life. Having not lived through that situation, I needed some help channeling the feelings, thoughts and coping mechanisms of someone who has. Enter Meg and Roger. After reading their book, I feel fully equipped to write my character with integrity – shining light on the severity of domestic abuse without romanticizing or leaving the reader without hope. Thank you guys! I strongly recommend for writers or even the everyday person who may be dealing with this struggle – whether themselves or a loved one.

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April Reads

What I Wrote

Guys… I may have missed the mark when it came to my reading goals, but I wrote my butt off this month.

Total Monthly Word Count: 33,983

And I am beyond thrilled to tell you that the first draft of my new book – 700 Main – is complete! I wrote a book in two freaking months.

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Want another short sneak peek?

Despite the historical society’s insistence that our house needed to be perfectly preserved, I found nothing to support the claim. Yes, it was built in 1889, but no one famous lived there. It was not particularly significant architecturally, and the essence of the time period could be easily captured in other ways.

Even the rumor that it was haunted passed through my mind, but I could find no news clippings, owner records or ghost stories. It was as if the house had fallen out of history.

I’d just opened A Hill Country History when Maisy rounded the corner with an armful of children’s books.

“I thought I said three,” I reprimanded, but she just giggled.

She set the pile of books on the ground and plopped down to lean against me. “What are you reading about?”

I sighed and closed the book. “Just trying to learn more about our new house.”

Maisy’s eyes lit up. “About the people who used to live there?”

“Maybe,” I replied. “But I haven’t found anything yet.”

She reached over and tugged at the book’s cover to open it, but it fell out of my hands and onto the floor.

A loose piece of paper fell from between the pages, and when I leaned forward to pick it off the ground, I gasped. 

It was a photograph of 700 Main. The house was gorgeous and freshly built, and four young women stood in front of the houses in white dresses with rifles in their arms.

I turned the picture over and read the inscription on the back:

Vivian, May, Rebecca and Edie Ushery
1892

“Look,” I said, holding the picture out for Maisy to see. “It’s our house.”

She studied the picture for a long moment. It was odd for her to be quiet for this long, and I watched her face frown in concentration.

“What is it?” I asked after it was clear she wasn’t replying.

Maisy took the picture in her little hands and held it close to her face. “That’s R.”

I narrowed my eyes. “R? Your imaginary friend?”

“She’s not imaginary,” Maisy contradicted and pointed to the third girl in the photograph. Her dark hair hung long down her shoulders, exposing a pretty face and almond eyes. But what caught my attention wasn’t her good looks or her expression. It was the Indian scalp that hung from her left hand.

Maisy tapped the girl in the picture. “That’s her.”

Of course, first drafts are notoriously shitty. And this one happens to still be too short. BUT guess what? That’s what next month is for, and revisions are my favorite part!

Coming up…

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First things first, I need to add about 20K words to get 700 Main to the length it needs to be. How am I going to do that? Great question… And once I figure it out, I’ll be launching a new two-part blog series on how to lengthen and shorten your novel. State of Grace started off about 30,000 words too long… Surely adding will be easier than cutting.

In other blog news, I will also be recommending and reviewing a new must-have series of writing reference books. Get your Amazon accounts ready.

Toward the end of the month, my critique partner and I will be attending Bookish Retreats’ Novel Workshop where we’ll receive one-on-one novel consultations with Holloway Literary agents, receive query critiques and publication plans, pitch face-to-face and explore my second favorite city… New Orleans.

Since I was a serious slacker last month, most of my “to be read” list has been rolled over. But the last one is supposedly a must-have for any writer… so stay tuned!

  • Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Punching Babies: (a how-to guide) by Adron J. Smitley

Let me know how your month went in the comments below!

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