Whatcha Reading?

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The reality of my book shelves

Writers tend to be voracious readers, don’t they?

Of course, I was more voracious before I started writing so seriously; now, I squeeze in my reading in odd little increments here and there. Still, I savor any snippet of reading time, and I’m sure I’m a better writer because of reading.

During early days of writing kidlit, I read a lot of kidlit. Because I was drawn to writing middle grade and chapter books and humor, those are the books I sought out in my library. And then I immersed myself in picture books because I had a hankering to write a picture book or thirty-seven. Then back to middle grade and YA novels where my heart was calling. If I wanted to write kidlit, I figured, I needed to be kidlit.

Or something like that.

But a funny thing happened. I missed adult books. I missed mysteries and women’s fiction and award-winning novels. I hungered for Brit wit and classics and Neil Gaiman’s fairy tales. Oh! And ghost stories! I love true ghost story collections!

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The book shelves of my sweet dreams

And so I began to sneak in an adult novel here and there, or a cheesy ghost story paperback, into the old TBR pile. To be honest, those sneaky books would always somehow end up on the top of the pile. So I’d practically read ’em under the covers– and get back to my serious kidlit reading before anyone caught me.

Until one day when I realized that any reading–even the really bad stuff– is good for me and my writing.

Goodness. That was a long way to go to ask what are you looking forward to reading in 2018? Do you have reading goals? I hit my goal over at Goodreads for 2017, thanks to a pile of terrific rhyming picture books I read there at the end of the year (and a ghost book or two).

So. I started this year with a book of essays, I WAS TOLD THERE’D BE CAKE by Sloane Crosley.

And you know what? I’m enjoying every delicious minute of it!

 

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February Wrap Up

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Libs in the office, watching me “work.”

You know, there’s something a tiny bit intimidating about an end-of-the-month wrap up. Or should I say knowing that your end-of-the-month wrap up is coming?

I mean, it’s bad enough if you don’t accomplish much, but blowing off the accountability report is like, Dang, Cathy, how lackadaisical can you get? So I knew the Day of Reckoning was coming and I’m not gonna lie. It motivated me.

The Good:

I read seven books this month! Full Disclosure: Several were short books by Patricia MacLachlan, but a couple of them were longer, the ones by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Both authors will be at the SCBWI Springmingle Conference coming up in a few weeks and I like to read books by people who are presenting. I want to know their style, yes, but I also think it just makes an author happy when you can say you’ve read their books. And really, I don’t think it matters if the author is a New York best-selling author like Mitchard, or a Newbery Award winner like MacLachlan, or a debut author who’s launching her first book. So I read a bunch of books and now–whee!–I’m three books ahead of my Goodreads goal. Which is a good thing as March is looking pretty busy.

I wrote up an article and sent it out and sold it! It could be a while before it’s published, but still. I sent something out into the world and received an acceptance. So yay me!

I also sent my manuscript out into the world (to an indie editor) because I’d come to that proverbial spot between a rock and a hard place. (You can read more about indie editors at The Muffin with my “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Writing Superhero!”) Which leads me to the not-so-good, otherwise known as …

The Bad:

I received the most amazingly detailed and insightful editorial letter re: my latest middle grade manuscript and…I haven’t quite finished digesting all of it. In point of fact, I need to figure out what and how to revise and so far, I’m stuck between thinking and figuring it out. I’m all for letting things sit for a while while you ponder the problems but I just can’t seem to move on to actually…well, writing. Any motivational thoughts from those of you who have found yourself in that No Writer’s Land would be swell.

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Even Libs is wore out with this project!

The Ugly:

I spent a ridiculous number of hours working on an SCBWI project that should’ve taken me about what? Two hours, tops? First, it involved design so I had to remember how to do all that, and second, it involved color printing and my color inkjet ran out on my practice sheets. And then once I finally got everything ready and pushed the Print button, the lovely pages came out completely hinky.

I am still not finished with this project. Ugh.

 

So how about you, dear writer friends? It’s your Day of Reckoning, too, and I’d love to cheer or commiserate, your choice, on this last day of February.

 

January Wrap Up

file00025755561I don’t have a lot of accountability these days.

My original and hard-working critique group broke up, my second critique group didn’t work for my schedule, writer friends moved away…even Mister Man, who, if we’re being perfectly honest refused to read any of my writing but would listen to me talk about it as long as there was food involved, up and left me. And so it’s pretty much up to me, what (or if)  I write.

Then I thought about you, dear writer friends. You can be my accountability! And then you can say, “Oh, yes, Cathy, that sounds fabulous!” Or, “Really, Cathy, you can do lots better than that.” Maybe even, “Sounds good to me, pass the garlic rolls.”

And so here I go:

I finished 30 ideas with Storystorm! It’s a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I did it.

I made a goal over at Goodreads to read 50 books this year, and for January, I read four books. (I didn’t make my reading goal last year but whee! It’s January and I’m on track. So far.)

I talked to my Lovely Agent about 2017 and the direction we could go. I have Stuff To Do; I haven’t quite started on that stuff yet.

I wrote up…let me count that again…yes, um…one, er, one story and sent it out into the world. It seemed like a big deal at the time, y’all.

I had an SCBWI writer’s workshop–awesome author Heather L. Montgomery presented–and it was well-attended and lots of fun! (P.S. She was here doing quite a few school visits and kids LOVE her, so if you want a science geek author for your school, contact Heather!) The first of the year is busy in my position at SCBWI; lots of organizing, lots of emails, lots of planning, but I got it all done. That’s probably why I didn’t get much writing done. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.

Oh! I finally finished my latest Darakwon book! Whew! I had started it back in the spring, I think, so yeah, it was beginning to be like The Song That Never Ends.

You know, I wasn’t feeling very accomplished twenty minutes ago, but I feel a bit better, now that I see my January Wrap Up. All things considered, right?

So how about you? How’s your January started? Brag a little, whine a little, and pass the garlic rolls. You’re with friends here!

 

Tooting My Horn Tuesday for Tasks Accomplished

So March 31st already–holy cow, 2015 is zipping along! And it occurred to me, looking at the March calendar page above my desk, that I’d actually accomplished all most of the tasks I’d set for the month. Some of which I’ve been blah-blah-blahing about or asking for your help with, so I thought I’d share results:

The Wisestamp email signature (and thanks for your input!) ended up like this:

new email sigThe Middle Grade work-in-progress (first draft) is stick-a-fork-in-it done! I’ll let those 40,000 words simmer a bit before tackling the revision in April. And though I don’t like saying too much about a story before it’s really finished finished, I will share that it’s a funny, contemporary mystery. (Again.) And there might be a ghost. (Again.)
And all those books I wanted to read before the SCBWI Springmingle conference? Read ’em. Thoroughly enjoyed them, too. If you take a look at my Goodreads shelves, (the widget in the sidebar only lists what I’m currently reading) you can find out more.
Wait. What? You’re not signed up for Goodreads? But you’ll love it! It’s free and fun and just the task to start off your April. And if you’d like to share what you accomplished in this runaway March, toot away.
Um. You know what I mean.

Friday’s Fun Find: A Goodreads Glimpse at 2014

Goodreads pic close upI opened the inbox today to find my Goodreads Year in Books!

I love Goodreads so ridiculously much! At the start of the year, I sign on to the Reading Challenge and get motivated to pile up the reading points. (My goal this year was 60 and yep, I made it!) At the end of the year, the Goodreads team gives you all kinds of stats about the books you read.

For example, I read 12,143 pages this year. Which sounds pretty impressive, even though I know about a dozen of my books were picture books. But a book is a book, no matter how small. And goodness, I read some wonderful big AND small books this year!

(Thanks to Goodreads, I can even remember them.)

Psst. What was the best book you read this year?