Novel Writing Diaries: volume 1. eps. 2

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October 3

I can’t believe I actually managed to work on my book. I thought all hope was lost. I might even finish this draft before the end of the year! I didn’t think I’d ever finish it. 

All I need is to write 3,500 words a week for the next 9 weeks and I’ll be done. Done. At least for now.

The first draft of this WIP was an “exploratory” draft.

The second draft (the current one) is me deepening the threads of the mystery component.

In the third draft, I plan to focus on the developing the relationships between the characters better as well as improve my writing style (voice). I want the prose to feel lyrical and a touch atmospheric. An example of the writing style that inspires me is The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. However, that book is a historical fiction and features elements of fabulism. My story is going the paranormal route, so it’s less magical in tone like the book I mentioned. However, I want my book to have a somewhat of a magical quality even though it’s paranormal.

And then, hopefully I’ll have a final draft by the end of 2022.

October 21

I’m pretty embarrassed that I haven’t written anything in like two weeks. . . 

I’m cringing at myself. 

BUT I decided to make my final word count goal for this month 6k-7k rather than the 25-30k I was originally planning. I’m making up for my shortcomings with Nanowrimo next month. I technically only need as little as 20k to reach my minimum word count but only 30k for my high word count. Essentially, I only need to write anywhere from 700-1,000 words a day for Nanowrimo to FINISH THIS DRAFT. Meaning, I have a final draft to work on next year!

On the Stacks This Week: Spooky Reading Plans

Instead of doing a WWW, I’ll tell you what I’m currently reading this week. There’s an Xmen-esque dark academia, a contemporary occult novel about revenge, and an eerie alternate history horror novella. I know other people don’t get in the mood for spookier books during October but I certainly do! There’s just something about Fall that feels magical and my reading always reflects that this time of year.


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The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – 72%

I’m living for this book. I know you’ve seen it everywhere so I’ll keep it short. Six medians (magical people) are recruited to join the Society by a mysterious man, Atlas, who claims he is a Caretaker. Once the six join as students, they are charged with protecting the house that guards the Library of Alexandria (or something). They all have unique abilities that make them special for the dangerous tasks at hand but the catch is that only one of them must be eliminated. They are each starting to slowly realize that Atlas is not who claims to be and that he’s not telling them everything.

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Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper – 20%

This book hooked me from the start. The vibes are akin to Halloweentown and Stars Hollow with the plot of John Tucker Must Die. A woman, Emmy, leaves her hometown to have a normal life apart from her family’s witchy legacy. When she returns for a magical tournament  she bumps into her ex, who doesn’t even remember her. It turns out she isn’t the only woman scorned so now they want to make him pay. I cannot way to see this witchy team work together. Also, if you’ve read or seen The Ex Hex making the rounds I think Payback’s a Witch would make the perfect readalike. The Ex Hex has a revenge plot but with romance at it’s center, while this one is the opposite!

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Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark – 30%

This novella is a historical fiction set in the South during the 1920s with elements of horror and science-fiction. I read the first chapter last year but it freaked me out so much that I put aside until now. That, and it was a bit of a challenge to get into the writing style at first even though I think the backdrop and characters are absolutely brilliant. In this world, the Ku Klux are not people but rather shapeshifting demons. Now these demons are evolving and getting harder to kill. The story revolves around a group called the Harlem Hellfighter’s who are making it their mission to take them out. The implication is that with the creation of Birth of A Nation some sort of witchcraft took place and brought about the monster’s existence.

A Week in My Bookish Life: Season 2; Episode 2

PSX_20211004_163710.jpgThis week is probably going to be relatively uneventful until the weekend. Yet at the same time, there’s something about autumn that makes me feel more alive, more invigorated. I’m at my most creative in the Fall. I have so much I want to get done this week! 

Monday

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Today I had a mad case of the Mondays. I woke up later than planned and it was gloomy. I don’t even know what I did today, to be honest. I wasn’t particularly productive. I did experiment with some cold brew recipes. I have attempted my hand at copying the Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew as well as the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. I attempted to do try a version with both combined but I haven’t perfected that yet. 

I am happy to report that I registered for my next online class that is occurring in November. I’m getting my certification in something that I’ve been tight-lipped about because I’m convinced the Universe is conspiring against me. It’s probably pretty obvious at this point but I’m my final class is January 2022. I cannot wait. 

The other books I’m hoping to finish by next week are also A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson (see above) and Monstress: Volume 4. I still need to finish All’s Well by Mona Awad for the Literally Dead Book Club before the live show on Wednesday. 

Reading Progress: 

  • Exit Strategy by Martha Wells – 76% 
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 57%
  • The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – 20% 

Tuesday

Reading Progress: 

  • Exit Strategy by Martha Wells – 88%

Wednesday

Today was just a weird day. I couldn’t focus much on anything. The weather has been cloudy, rainy, and just blah. I was also supposed to write today. In fact, I was supposed to be writing since Monday. 

I did watch the live show for All’s Well this evening. I only watched the first half because I didn’t finish it and I didn’t want to hear spoilers. I decided to table that book for now but it was interesting to see how much people loved it. 

My partner had a stressful day so we made an impromptu decision to go out for pizza. I haven’t had pizza in months so I was just craving something different. The best part of the night was ordering dessert (which I rarely do) and I had the best spiced cake EVER. It had Oktoberfest beer, malted buttercream, and caramel. I’m normally a chocolate cake person but this was positively divine. Then we came home and spent much of the night just goofing off and sharing memes and drinking our last bit of whisky. Suffice to say, I don’t think I got much reading done. I did attempt to read The Atlas Six, but I got distracted. I did finish a novella. Yay! 

Reading Progress: 

  • Exit Strategy by Martha Wells – Complete
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 78% 

Thursday

Today I’m determined to write 2,000 words and finish my Neil Gaiman audiobook. I’m using a tool on my Chrome Extension that blocks websites so I can focus.  I think using the block feature kind of worked? I wrote 1,000 words  and I ended up finishing not one, but two books. 

Today was my anniversary. It wasn’t very eventful but I’m okay with that. It’s been rainy and dreary all week. Not to mention, we have to make preparations for a separate event happening out of town. We decided to post-pone our celebration to the following week.  I did get woken up to flowers, pumpkin chocolate chip scones, and a maple latte cold brew so that was nice. I ordered my S.O. steak knives since he doesn’t have any as his present but they are late getting here, sadly. 

We spent the evening watching Squid Game. Very romantic if I do say so myself (this is a joke). 

Reading Progress: 

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – Complete
  • Hicotea by Lorena Alvarez – Complete 

Friday

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I didn’t get too much reading done today. I was a little stressed out. I was also getting ready to go out of town. I stayed up late baking cookies (and eating them) for a party. 

Reading Progress: 

  • Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega – 50%

Saturday-Sunday 

On Saturday, we went to a brewery and enjoyed a delicious burger. Afterward, we wandered around an indie bookstore on Saturday and left with 6 books! We also ended up at Target and got some goodies because I no longer live near a Target! It was my dog Luna’s 5th birthday so we brought her back some treats and a new toy. When we got to the hotel that night, I managed to get some reading done before bed.

On Sunday morning, we went to my favorite cafe/bakery for donuts in my hometown. These are among my top three of favorite donuts ever so I do get sad that I don’t live close by anymore.That same day we celebrated my husband’s dad’s 60th birthday. We coordinated a surprise party and he was successfully surprise. We set up a self-serve taco bar and I brought homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert that everyone loved. 

Reading Progress: 

  • Ghost Squad by Clairbel A. Ortega – 100%
  • Monstress: Volume 4 – 65% 
WEEKLY WRAP UP 

BOOKS READ

  • All’s Well by Mona Awad – [DNF]
  • Exit Strategy by Martha Wells 
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 
  • Ghost Squad by Clairbel A. Ortega 
  • Monstress: Volume 4 

TV SHOWS & MOVIES I WATCHED 

  • Gilmore Girls Revival: Episode 4, Fall – I bawl every time I watch this episode. 
  • The Originals – This is another comfort show of mine. 
  • Teen Wolf: Season 1 – This is so campy but  I kind of like it. 
  • Squid Game – I’ve only made it four episodes in so far. 
 

 

September Wrap Up | A Month of 4 Star Reads (Kind Of)

Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen -★★★★

Less “true crime” and more memoir, Chase Darkness With Me follows journalist and writer Billy Jensen as he chases leads on unsolved murders. Jensen even recounts how his interest in crime began with father reading news headlines. His drive to bring murderers who got away with it to justice seems to come from a place of wanting to make his late father proud.

Jensen’s memoir offers a a genuinely human perspective that contrasts heavily with the sadistic and predatory actions of the murders whom he pursues. Chase Darkness With Me is not only a realistic exploration of unsolved murders but a call to action from the author to inspire others to follow in his footsteps to catch more killers. 

I took a star off because I was expecting something along the lines of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which was posthumously published by Michelle McNamara. Despite misplaced expectations, the author’s story was riveting nonetheless. Read my full review on Goodreads

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – ★★★★

This wasn’t what I expected initially, but once I readjusted my expectations I was satisfied. The writing is lyrical and poignant. How to Lose the Time War is the kind of story where you want to ponder every sentence and every word. I mistakenly expected something plot-driven, so I wasn’t enjoying this at first. However, there was so many subtle ways that this novella reminded me of Loki, the TV series. Yes, Loki. Why? Because the show involves time travel, agents with bosses they have to answer to, and themes of deception and outwitting people in power. 

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee – ★★★★

This wasn’t what I expected at all. Vengeance definitely lives up to the hype with it’s unapologetic dark academia aesthetic. The story is very slow burn and the atmosphere is lush and witchy. What I did not expect was the plot. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. There are some pretty good twists in here. I liked how the author utilized Felicity as an unreliable narrator—but also convinced us that we could trust the other characters, making us trust Felicity less. Then the author turns the entire narrative on it’s head. The only thing that lead me to take a star off was that I expected the story to be darker. 

Readalikes: Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke, They Never Learn by Layne Fargo 

Full length review to come. 

Exit Strategy (#4) by Martha Wells – ★★★★

I’m so happy I’m getting back to the Murderbot Diaries. This installment continues exactly where we left off in the previous novella. It’s been a hot minute since I read the last novella, so I was worried I was going to lose interest. I’m happy to report I’m still wholly invested in our murderbot. This was sooo good. I like the way these stories are a nice balance between the slower moments and the action sequences. I also enjoy the personal stakes for the murderbot itself, especially in this book. 

All’s Well by Mona Awad – DNF (Kind of) 

I paused around the 67% mark of my book. It’s not bad at all. I can’t even tell you what I think about this book because it gives off more of a feeling. Her books are usually hard to explain because unexplainable things happen in them. I have a generally good impression of Mona Awad’s writing style because it’s so creative, disturbing, and weird. I’m just not in the mood to finish it, if you know what I mean. I’m swaying between a 3 star and a 4 star read. We’ll just have to see.