Monday, February 20, 2012

Brainstorming for Blog Posts

After reading a few articles about what writers should blog, I decided to make a brainstorming post with some of their ideas, that way I can reference it quickly when doing my own research. Half the time I open up my blog and go to make a post, and have no idea what I should write about, or where to start. I know I'm going about this the completely wrong way, so here's a step in (what I hope is) the right direction.

Kirkus MacGowan's blog post, Blog Ideas for Fiction Writers: Peanut Buying Escapades?, he gives a brief list of topics that I found to be fascinating. Writing from a character's point of view, or discussing the inspiration for your current WIP are good places to start when it comes to blogging about your work without blogging about your work.

Joan Stewart, of, wrote a blog post called Fiction authors: Blog about these 19 topics that has a nice, big list of inspiration. If I was a more disciplined writer, I would take one of these per day or week, and write up a post. It may not make me any better of a writer, but at least I'd be more prolific. (Though, I have a feeling it would help be be a better planner, brainstormer, and writer--if NaNoWriMo taught me anything, it's that if you force yourself to be more disciplined, it improves your performance in a lot of ways.)

Is it easier for Non-Fiction writers to maintain blogs? The article WHAT SHOULD FICTION WRITERS BLOG ABOUT? over at gives some good advice to Fiction Writers who want to make their blogs display their own strengths, interests and eccentricities.

Over at, the article Sacred Cow-Tipping–Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad brings up the idea that writers shouldn't be blogging about writing for a number of reasons, but mostly for imposing limitations and increasing competition. The points made are good, and don't preclude a writer from creating and sustaining a blog, but it seems to only address the problem and not supply a solution. (Or, a variety of solutions and advice.)

Jami Gold approaches the question a slightly different way in her blog post, How Do You Choose Blog Topics? by responding to the article. She interprets the original post to say that writers should blog about "our brand. About us." Then she goes on to describe her own approach to blogging from her perspective as a writer.

All of these articles or blog posts beg the question, "what do YOU want to write about?" or, more importantly, "what would you want to read about, as an author's fan?" Those are good questions to consider. What would I want to write about? What would I want the fans of my writing (if I ever find some out there) to read about?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review of Mocking Jay

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an amazing ending to a wonderful series! I can't help but have been swept up by the power of these books. I think the first person narrative really kept me involved, kept those pages turning. I wasn't exactly the most fond of the heroine, Katniss, because I found some of her flaws were overpowering and incredibly irritating. But I could see the goodness in her, too, that made me want her to win, want her to succeed, even when she couldn't see the end herself.

This book was what I expected the second book to be. I wanted to see the war before it happened, I was waiting for the rebellion before it took place. There were a LOT of twists and turns that I didn't see coming (Peeta's return, for example, and what happened to Finnick in the tunnels--hopefully without giving away too much!) but those only kept me on my toes and reading more, not necessarily getting frustrated and wanting to stop.

The characters that I loved from the first two books, that I was hoping to see again came back with a vengeance. I ended the series the way I started it, loving Peeta more than most of the other characters. Katniss' mother was such a strong character, even through her weaknesses. A lot of the story can be attributed to her actions, for better or for worse. Even though the story ends with a lot of things falling apart, there's still hope in the rebuilding--that hope was what I read the whole series for.

I only wish that the epilogue had been a bit longer, a bit more in detail. But all in all, I loved this series, and would recommend it to all my friends and loved ones.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review of Catching Fire

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second installment in Suzanne Collins' brilliant Hunger Games Trilogy, Catching Fire, picks up right where the first book left off. From the get go it's a page turner, answering some of our questions but leaving us with many more about what's going to happen with Katniss, whether she's going to choose Peeta or Gale, how she's going to protect her family and her district, and how on Earth the Capitol is going to finally get her.

When I first picked up the second book, I was expecting it to go straight into the rebellion, to describe the highs and lows of the war that we all know is coming, to jump into action. But I was met with... well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book yet. But it surprised me. And it took me quite some time to come around. But once the action started up again, once Katniss was back in the Capitol, I found that I was enraptured again, caught up in the story and the characters, and their interactions.

Some of the characters that I loved so dearly from the first came back with a vengeance, and some of them were glossed over a little. There were even more interesting characters introduced, making me hungry to read the third installment (which I've already started!) and reach the end of the story.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review of The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whenever I open a book to see that it's written in first person, I oftentimes feel nervous or roll my eyes. It feels as if the story is written to fulfill some sort of fantasy in the author's mind. At the same time, though, I feel as if the first person (especially the present tense) in this book kept the story moving at such a pace that the reader could really feel the intensity, and get drawn into the action.

Even though I found the main character, Katniss, to be a bit irritating at times, I found the book to be a page turner. There was enough energy and action to keep the story going, and enough description to keep my curiosity sated. It's a shame to enter a "last one standing" sort of contest, and find likable qualities in any of the other contestants. Especially when our main character--our POV--is such a loner. But I really enjoyed learning about the world, and meeting the fringe characters. There are some that I can't wait to see again in books 2 and 3, and others I know that I will miss through the series.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to my friends and family, as a nice escape from the monotony of day-to-day life. Afterall, isn't that one of the best parts about good fiction? Good fantasy? I'm reminded of The Handmaid's Tale, Farenheit 451, Brave New World or Rite of Passage, books that I read while I was in school. I'm reminded of the film Battle Royale, which was just as much a whirlwind of action and adventure, with interwoven threads of pure, confusing, conflicting yet satisfying emotion as The Hunger Games.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review of Alexander Death

Alexander Death (The Paranormals, #3)Alexander Death by J.L. Bryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea that the other shoe was about to drop until it did. Some of the characters were just as I thought they were going to be, and others turned out completely differently. Some of the central questions that came up (What is a monster? Who decides our fate? etc.) were answered in a very interesting way. I enjoyed the whole trilogy very much, and would absolutely recommend them to all of my YA reader friends and others.

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Review of Tommy Nightmare

Tommy Nightmare (The Paranormals, #2)Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As much as I loved Jenny Pox, I found Tommy Nightmare to be a delicious and suspenseful middle to this amazing trilogy. I enjoyed the changes and growth in some of the characters, and the introductions of new ones. I loved the way things spun around to bite you in the backside, and twists took you on an interesting journey. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More 2012 Resolutions Brainstorming

My Previous Blog Post about New Years Resolutions, along with coming across the hand-written page of resolutions once more, gave me the inspiration to write up these Resolutions and try to get a start on them. Of course, I believe that Resolutions are a work-in-progress, and that this list can be updated as needed--and I hope that I come back to it to remind myself of my goals for this year.

- Read 10 Nonfiction books. (self-explanatory)
- Read 10 Fiction books. (self-explanatory)

- Participate in (and succeed at) the nanowrimo challenge this November. (Will be a challenge with a 3 year old and a 6 month old.)
- Write one blog post per month. (This one counts, right?)
- Write at least one other novel over the course of the year. (I have outlines for 3 or 4 already written, and the start of my sequel to my 2011 Nanowrimo novel.)

- Give birth. (Scheduled for March 23rd.)
- Get adequate sleep.
- Lose 20 pounds. (Mostly baby weight, I think.)
- Go to the gym 1x per week, building to 3x per week, following physician's orders after c-section and recovery from surgery.

- HTML studies/CSS studies, leading to building my own website.
- Read more about Self-Publishing, Marketing.
- Twitter an interesting and relevant link daily.

- Continue taking daughter to Swim School, Sunday School and Preschool classes.
- Get daughter Potty Trained before second baby arrives.
- Stop daughter from skipping 5 when she counts to 10.
- Teach daughter that the letters are "L, M, N, O" not "Elmo."

- Save Money: 3 months budget in liquid savings, save for Disneyland Vacation in Fall.
- Open Savings Account for Baby#2.
- Cut back expenses and create a budget.

- Try to be green (reusable gift wrappings, compost/worm bin, recycle and donate).

So, there's my list. We'll see how things go. I'll just have to remember to come back and re-read to keep myself on track.

Brainstorming New Years Resolutions

I'm posting this on the 4th, since coming up with a blog post about New Years Resolutions is a very intimidating thing for me. I've had a hand-written brainstorming list in my purse for a few days now, and am only now just beginning to put my brainstorming thoughts into coherent sentences.

This blog post over at was also help in inspiring me. Here are my responses to their questions:

In the New Year, I want to give up . . .
Distractions. I'd like to be a little better with organizing my spare time, and my work time, and my teaching time. it would be nice to accomplish more by giving up waste.

In the New Year, I want to take on . . .
More responsibility. Is it cheating by knowing that I'm going to take on more responsibility? My second child is due in March, a girl, and I know that it's going to make me take on a whole new world of responsibility and work. I'm already starting to nest, which is making me realize how much I have yet to do around the house. Hopefully with more responsibility I'll also be able to take on more inspiration to cleaning and organizing. Wishful thinking, I know.

In the New Year, I will rock my life by . . .
Self-Publishing? I've got a novel written, a second on the way, and outlines for another few. I've been waiting for the "perfect" product to get into the self-publishing business, but perhaps a "very good" product is good enough to get started. Then again, I have so very much to learn still about what my options are... perhaps I will rock my life by learning everything I can about the publishing industry, and self-publishing.

In the New Year, I will strengthen my body and spirit by . . .
Giving birth, then diet and exercise. This is definitely something that will have to happen. The baby has to come out of my tummy, and I have to drop all the extra weight I've accumulated over the last five years. So, the goal will be to go to the gym, which I love to do, and leave the kiddos in the day care for an hour three times a week so I can work out. And ordering fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to be delivered to the house once a week will help with eating right.

In the New Year, I will work to change my world by . . .
Donating time, energy, money and materials to those in need. That's a no-brainer. Going through my whole house in preparations for Baby#2's arrival has shown me how much stuff I have that I don't need. These things could be blessing someone else's home, so I should collect them up and donate them to a worthy cause. It would also be wonderful to teach Baby#1 from an early age that money and materials are good, but time and energy are just as valuable when it comes to donations. We can volunteer at an animal shelter, or a local hospital or retirement home. The possibilities are endless.

There. Some more brainstorming done. Hopefully I'll have my list completed by February 1, so I can really get started on this Resolutions thing. And perhaps next year I'll procrastinate a little less and have my list done a month early. :)