Thoughts On DARK SECRET

Hello, hello! I know it’s not the last Wednesday of February yet, but I got two ARCs from NetGalley this month, so here’s an extra review. This week, I’m looking at Dark Secret by Danielle Rose. It’s the first book in her Darkhaven Saga. Waterhouse Press released the book on the 18th. If you’re familiar with Danielle’s Blood Books trilogy, the characters might seem familiar, but the story is completely new. First and foremost, I must thank NetGalley and Waterhouse Press for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. So, let’s get to it! Also, fair warning: there are spoiler adjacent tidbits from here on out. If you’re familiar with the genre, you can guess at what some newbies might consider spoilers.

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Love the cover and I hear the paperback is even prettier.

Dark Secret follows Ava Lopez as she navigates being a witch and a hunter and harnessing her own powers. Despite being told not to go on her usual rounds, searching the small town she lives in for vampires to destroy, she does it anyway. Typical teenager behavior, right? And of course things go wrong, then they snowball from there. At one point, Ava has to make a choice between death and something that will get her kicked out of her coven and thrown in with the things she despises most. How will she cope? What will she learn? Will she be able to hold on to who she is? These are just some of the questions this book starts to tackle.

Sounds fun, right? It is. The plot isn’t exactly new, but it doesn’t feel overdone. Witches versus vampires, then a witch becomes a vampire and learns that there’s a difference between a real vampire and the rogues she was taught to hate. That’s cool. But I really liked hearing about the different covens more than the vampire thing. Her best friend’s coven is all about peace and coexisting with vampires. I hope to learn more about them and to see if they really feel that way or if it’s all talk. I’m also interested to see if Ava’s coven can accept her in her new form. Unfortunately, I have to wait for future books to see if my questions get answers.

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Or read another book.

The characters here are all pretty likeable. Yes, Ava is at that age where she knows she’s right until something proves her wrong. Sometimes, you just want to smack some sense into her. But she slowly learns and is evolving. It’s a short book, so she can only change so much, but she’s heading in the right direction. Jasik and the other vampires are interesting. They’re a little stereotypical at the moment, but some seeds have been planted for them to grow into their own in future books.

Speaking of future books, I wondered why this book was so short. Apparently, the first few books in this series are going to be released pretty close together, so they’re on the shorter end of the novel spectrum. Instead of having to wait a year or more for book two, we only have to wait about a month. And book three is due out about a month after that. It’s an interesting release schedule and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works out.

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Yes, it is.

As far as the writing goes, it’s a fast-paced and fun read. Yes, there’s some repetition that gets a little distracting. We’re told multiple times that Ava is a spirit witch and what that means. But I figured out just to skim those paragraphs and move on pretty quickly.

Full disclosure: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know Danielle and I actually got our MFAs together. I’ve watched her writing grow and tighten and improve over the last five years. I’m really proud of her and what she’s accomplished.

Ultimately, I had fun with Dark Secret. I’m looking forward to the next few books in the series. Luckily, I don’t have long to wait!

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Overall, I gave the book four out of five stars. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is into YA fantasy and supernatural stuff. If you’re familiar with Danielle’s work, this is not a steamy romance, so don’t be disappointed if that’s what you were hoping for.

5 TV Series to Watch to Get to Know Me… Kind Of

Hello, hello! How is February going for everyone? Everything is pretty good here. It’s almost time for our visitor! Dad’s been cleaning and I’ve been staying out of the way. I’ve already written next week’s post and the following week will be another book review, so you’ll have to wait until March to read about this weekend’s exploits. For today, I have nothing writerly to ramble about, so I thought I would try this little challenge that’s been popping up in my Facebook feed. It asks you to name 5 TV series someone should watch in order to get a better grasp of who you are. A movie version was floating around a year or two ago, but I avoided it because I don’t watch enough movies. TV shows, on the other hand, I can do.

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The post that’s been popping up.

In no particular order, here are some shows that will help you figure me out a little. Maybe. Kind of. Probably not.

1. Firefly. Of course. I’m pretty sure everyone knows of my love for this show by now. I relate a little bit to all of the characters one way or another. And then there’s the weird sense of humor. It’s one of those shows where I can’t exactly put my finger on a specific reason I’m drawn to it, but as a whole it just works for me.

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Something like that. Mostly the last one.

2. Ouran High School Host Club. I wasn’t actually going to add this one because it seems so random, but I rewatched the first episode and there’s absolutely no denying it. This show explains so much about me. You’ve got Haruhi and her attitude towards gender and the fact that she just wants a quiet place to do her work. Then there’s Kyoya and his whole mother hen hidden behind apathy act. And the twins! They remind me every time I think about them that I am creepy and okay with it. I could go on about the whole series, but I won’t put you through that.

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It’s fine as long as you don’t wake him up too early.

3. Sailor Moon. I watched this as a kid, so it probably has a lot to do with the way I am. As far as the characters I relate to the most, Mercury and Saturn. Mercury because of her dedication to learning and all that. Saturn because she was a sickly girl with the power to destroy worlds. Who doesn’t want that as a kid? Just me? Okay, then. And then there are a bunch of questionable things that I embraced from that show that I really don’t need to bore you with.

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Mamoru is useless.

4. Dead Like Me. Does anyone else even remember this show? If not, you should go watch it whether you learn anything about me or not. The snark alone is worth it. There’s also the whole death thing. And no, I don’t just like it because I’m sarcastic and have a thing for weird takes on death. Maybe. Fine. That’s why.

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5. Midsomer Murders. There’s snark, death, and lots of creepy psychological crap going on, especially in earlier seasons. You’ll never know if it’s because I’m a creepy person or if it’s just because I have an interest in psychological crap. And murder mysteries are fun.

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So, there are 5 TV series you can watch and see if you gain any insight into me. What about you? What are some TV shows I could watch to get to know you better? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

A Look Inside the Maple Leaf Diner

Hello, hello! Can you believe it’s already February? Do you have any special plans this month? Any goals you’re hoping to achieve? Don’t worry. This isn’t another goals post or check in or anything like that. But I will say that I’m still on schedule with all my stuff and the date of my friend’s visit is closing in fast! Huzzah! Anyway, last week, Dad and I had to run an errand in Dallas over by the Galleria (corner of Alpha and Inwood), so I decided to look for something different to eat that would be on our way home. I found a Canadian diner on the corner of Preston and 635. Canadian food? Pretty much the only food I know of from Canada is poutine, so I figured why not try it. The place is called the Maple Leaf Diner and it’s tucked in a strip mall. Check the website linked above for the address and menu and all that.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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Pictures are borrowed from the diner’s Facebook page and Google.

Accessibility: standard for Texas. There’s a little rise to the doors, but the ramp comes at it from all angles, so getting in is easy. The tables are a little close together, so I can see maneuvering around the place getting difficult if it’s super busy, but we went when it wasn’t crowded at all. The tables are on the tall side of normal, which I like. There aren’t any knee bangers on the tables and they even have some half booth places so Dad didn’t have to sit in an uncomfortable chair. So yeah, it’s pretty good.

Service: fabulous. Our waitress, May, was super friendly and treated me like a human from the get go, so you know that gets her automatic bonus points. She made sure nothing came out too fast and didn’t rush us. She was attentive but not overbearing. May made the whole experience a wonderful one.

Appetizers: yummy. We had the pierogies. They’re dumplings filled with potatoes and cheese then topped with bacon, onions, and sour cream. I don’t know who decided to stuff a dumpling with mashed potatoes, but they were a genius.

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Pot roast poutine.

Entrees: worth the drive. Let’s be honest, I hate that part of Dallas because the roads are crap and the drivers are worse. But I will go back just for this place. The menu is huge. They have lots of breakfast items (served all day) and a bunch of items that are more for lunch or dinner. Dad had the pot roast poutine (french fries smothered with pot roast, gravy, and cheese curds). I had the lox benedict (eggs benedict with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon) with latkes and fresh fruit. To my surprise, it was actually fruit I could eat. And even Dad liked the lox, which he isn’t usually into. I’m actually sad we don’t have a place like this near us.

Drinks: so much to choose from. They have all the standards, plus lattes (iced or hot), milkshakes (adult versions also available), and booze. I had a hazelnut latte (hot) and really enjoyed it. I also had a Hummer (vanilla milkshake with Kahlua and I believe rum, but don’t quote me, and chocolate sauce). Yum. And of course Dad and I had a lovely conversation with all the inappropriate jokes about hummers. Dad just had iced tea and tastes of my drinks.

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A little bakery and dessert area they have.

Dessert: yes, please. I stuck with my milkshake for dessert, but they have cookies and pies and cream puffs and some other stuff. Dad got a nanaimo bar (pastry topped with custard and chocolate). It was tiny which was good because it’s super sweet. There was also shredded coconut in it, but it still tasted good.

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Nanaimo bars.

Price: surprisingly not bad. It’s in an area of Dallas where everything is more expensive, but even with everything we got, it was less than $60 (not including the tip). So, it’s definitely worth the price.

My rating:
MMMMM

Five Ms! The only issue I really have with the Maple Leaf Diner is that it’s so far away and I can’t fairly take away points because of that.

Thoughts On THE NIGHT COUNTRY

Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of January, so you all know what that means. It’s book review time! So, the place where I usually get ARCs for these reviews has been super slow about responding to requests, so somehow I ended up with no books for January and two for February. Yup. Next month you’ll get a review on both the 19th and 26th. Anyway, I decided to review a book I forgot I had pre-ordered for January. The Night Country by Melissa Albert is the second book in The Hazel Wood series. It was released on January 7th by Flatiron Books (an imprint of Macmillan Books). Since I don’t have to thank anyone, let’s get on with the review! Beware, there are potential spoilers ahead if you haven’t read The Hazel Wood (book one of the series).

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It really is a lovely cover.

The Night Country follows Alice now that she’s back in New York. She goes to meetings with other ex-stories to try to get her life on track, until a mysterious newcomer upsets the balance. Then, Alice finds out ex-stories are being murdered and having pieces stolen from them. As she tries to figure out what’s going on, she also starts receiving magical letters from someone in her past (yeah, it’s him). From there, in typical fairytale fashion, things keep getting weirder.

I’ll be honest… I don’t actually remember much about book one. I must’ve liked it, otherwise I wouldn’t have pre-ordered this one. But I basically went into this book blind and had to piece together my memories of the first book from the clues here. If you have time, I definitely suggest at least skimming the first book to catch up. That being said, I enjoyed this book. A lot. I probably would have caught on to some stuff sooner if I had read the first one again, but I caught on fast enough without it.

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Me as I was reading.

About the characters. Alice is still a whiny little so-and-so. She isn’t particularly likeable. But she’s at the age (18-ish) where being a self-absorbed bitch (sorry, there’s no polite word for it) is completely normal human behavior. Combine that with her violent tendencies (part of her story personality) and she becomes someone you just don’t like and have no desire to like. That’s okay. Because we also have Ella and Finch and Sophia and a whole cast of characters we can root for. Granted, some of them are also firmly in the unlikeable category until we see their stories. I know a lot of readers have to connect with the main character to get into a story. I don’t. As long as I enjoy the plot and have a regularly appearing character to look forward to, I’m okay.

The plot. It’s not original, but it’s creepy and fun. A serial killer thriller meets a bunch of fairy tales. That’s right up my alley. There are some weak spots. For instance, I was more interested in Iolanthe’s motivation than anything. We get bits and pieces of her story and have no idea if she’s lying or not. And all we get at the end is that she wanted to go home. I really hope that we get more of her story at some point. The ending of the overall story is a little weak as well, but that feels like it’s because the author wanted to leave it with the potential for more books while wrapping it up just enough that the readers are satisfied in case nothing else happens.

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Yup. Seems that way.

The writing is beautiful and poetic and makes for a quick read. The only observation (it’s not really a complaint) I have is that there are a lot of obscure pop culture references. It’s not a bad thing, but it will definitely date the book and make it more difficult for readers to get into. Especially five, ten, twenty years from now when the references are no longer relevant. I didn’t even understand some of them. And no, I’m not Googling every name I don’t know just to see who a character mentioned in passing kind of resembles or to find out what’s playing in the background or whatever. I’m lazy. That’s too much work.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed The Night Country. Despite its flaws, it’s an entertaining read. I will definitely keep an eye out for more from Melissa Albert.

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Overall, I gave it four out of five stars. I can see why some people don’t like it, but if you’re into dark fantasy and thrillers, check it out. Even if you were on the fence about book one, pick it up. This one was better in my opinion.

Goal Check-In

Howdy, howdy!  How is everyone doing?  Is 2020 treating you well?  It has been a quiet month for me.  I’ve been working hard.  And since I have nothing to really talk about right now, I thought I would let you know how my goals are going thus far.  I mean, it’s only been 22 days, but I’m a little impressed by how well I’m keeping up with things.  I’ve usually dropped the ball on at least one of my goals by now.  I can admit that.  But not this time.  Not yet.

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Dropping the ball and judgment all in one GIF.

Revision: I’m a little more than a quarter of the way through the major changes in DS1. I fell behind a little last week because some unforeseen errands popped up, but I managed to tack some extra words on my writing days to make up for the 1,000 words I missed.  I’m still on track to meet my March 20th deadline.  February might upset this rhythm a little bit (one of my favorite people is coming to visit one weekend! Yay!), but I can play around with word count to catch up on anything I miss if I really want to.  Or I can just be happy that I’ll still be ahead of my April 30th deadline because I’m lazy.

Reading: I’ve finished 2 books so far.  One of them, I will be reviewing either next week or the end of February (I haven’t decided).  The other book was my first re-read of the year: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  It wasn’t as fun this time around.  I’m hoping the series gets better as I get further in because I don’t remember much about the other books at all.  I’m also currently reading two other books.  One will be my review book for next week or February depending on how fast I can finish it.  The other is a book of essays.  You can stalk me on GoodReads if you want to see exactly what I’m reading.

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Submitting and querying: I’m still submitting two pieces a week.  I’ve got a couple of pieces shortlisted (fingers crossed) and have already received a few rejections this year.  As far as querying goes, that has to wait until I’m done with revisions, so as long as they’re on track, I consider my querying goal on track.

Crocheting: It’s been slow since I’m focusing on revision, but I am still doing it.  Some days I don’t crochet at all, but even if I can only squeeze in a half hour’s worth, I try to do it.  I think once I’m done with revising and back on a writing schedule, I’ll have a little more free time.  Not much, but a little.

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Accurate.

Socializing: This wasn’t actually a goal, but I thought I’d mention it.  I’m doing better than usual.  As I said, someone is coming to visit in February.  And I’ve been texting people in a semi-timely fashion.  I still need to write a couple of letters.  One of which I will write as soon as I’m done with this post.

So yeah.  I think I’m doing pretty well.  Are you keeping up with your goals for the year or month or week?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

34 Random Things About Me

Howdy, howdy!  On Sunday, I turned 34.  It was a nice, quiet day.  Dad took me out for Thai food, which was super yummy.  It’s a place we used to go to pretty often called Tukta Thai over on the corner of Walnut Hill and Plano Road.  We still have no idea why we stopped going other than it being a bit of a drive.  I’ll have to review the place next time we go (if I can remember to make Dad take pictures).  Anyway, since I have nothing new to ramble about, I thought I would make a list of 34 random facts about me that you may or may not already know.

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1. In case you haven’t guessed by the January 12th birthday, I’m a Capricorn.

2. Just about every morning, I call my dog random names to see what she’s answering to in that particular 5 minutes, because she refuses to learn her name. Or any name.

3. I love garlic. What’s the point of eating something if there’s no garlic in it?

4. I’m a slush reader for PseudoPod.

5. If I have to choose between vanilla and chocolate ice cream, I’ll usually choose vanilla. Unless it’s Ghirardelli or Talenti, then chocolate please. Or just give me coffee ice cream. Now, I want ice cream.

6. I watched The Witcher and never got the song stuck in my head. I can’t even remember the tune.  Does that make me a psychopath?

7. I think Madonna is overrated.

8. I haven’t watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, nor have I read any of the books.

9. I like fake grape flavor.

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10. Sailor Saturn is the best Sailor Senshi and nothing you say will change my mind.

11. Anime taught me that main characters don’t have to be likeable for the story to be good.  Yeah.  I’m looking at you, Shinji and Eren.

12. I love bats and octopuses.  And snakes.  And wombats.  Animals.  I like them.

13. Mermaids, sirens, and selkies are among my favorite mythical creatures.

14. I’m so bad at remembering to write letters that one of my friends routinely sends me stationery type stuff to remind me to write to her.  I currently have one of the blank cards she sent me for my birthday sitting in front of me waiting to be filled out.  It’s been there since Friday.  I’m a horrible friend.

15. I told Dad I was going to crochet a bag of dicks for him if he didn’t stop being one, so he brought out the “dick warmer” he got as a gift a long time ago.  Needless to say, I now have an old crocheted penis on display in my room.

16. My CD collection has been sitting on my desk for over a year since my old stereo died. I keep forgetting to transfer them to my computer.

17. I have been in every state straight up from Texas and to the east.  Now, we just have to conquer the west.

18. When people ask if I’ve been out of the country, it takes me a minute to remember that Canada counts and I have been there.

19. I used to cross-stitch before my hands decided to be stupid.  Which is probably why I enjoy crocheting.  It’s a completely different experience, but I get to buy pretty yarn, which is basically the same as buying pretty thread.

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20. As much as I miss video games, I’m kind of glad I stopped being able to play before you had to start buying in-game upgrades and subscriptions and all that crap.  I’m poor enough as it is.

21. I could never be a vegan because cheese.  Meat too, but mostly cheese.

22. I like Pepsi better than Coke.  Unless it’s Mexican, then Coke is better.

23. My acquaintances post these “picky eater” test things on Facebook and I really have no idea how some of them survive.  Like, what do you eat?  You can’t survive on air and cookies.

24. I’ll taste just about anything once.  I’m not picky.  Even if I know I don’t like it, but haven’t tasted it in years, I’ll try it again.

25. I don’t like sweet pickles.  Doesn’t matter how many times I taste them.  Blargh.  But I love dill pickles.

26. My favorite season is summer.  I like heat, though I admit as I get older, 85-90 is warm enough.

27. Anything besides cheese pizza (and maybe sausage or pepperoni) is an open-face sandwich. You’ll never convince me otherwise.

28. I’ve had to read “Hills like White Elephants” by Hemingway so many times I’ve lost count.  The last teacher who assigned it actually looked supremely disappointed when he asked what it was really about and I automatically answered abortion.  He was kind of a dick anyway, so I didn’t mind bursting his smug bubble when he just knew no one would know what it was about.

29. I love boxes and baskets.  I have no use for them, but I love them.

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My bat’leth and other things.

30. I collect blades and whips.

31. In one of my fiction writing classes at SMU, no one knew what an asshat was.  I understood the teacher not knowing, but none of my classmates had heard it either.  I fixed that.

32. Aside from weapons, my room also contains an eclectic mix of stuffed animals, skulls, Barbie dolls, and signed posters among other things.

33. I like Panera’s frozen coffees, but find their hot (read that as lukewarm) drinks extremely disappointing.

34. It took me a ridiculously long time to write this because I suck at talking about myself.

There you go. Thirty-four random things about me.  Feel free to share your thoughts or comments or lists about yourself here or on my social media pages!

Self-Imposed Deadlines: Do They Work?

Hello, hello!  How did your first week of 2020 go?  Were you as productive as you wanted to be?  My week has been pretty good.  I made a revision schedule for DS1 and came up with two deadlines (the ideal one versus the actual one).  I’ll share them with you along with my thoughts on self-imposed deadlines in a moment, but first I wanted to say that I’m ahead of schedule and (so far) sticking to the goals necessary to complete the revisions ahead of my ideal schedule.  I’m not crocheting as much as I want, but I’ll eventually find a balance.  Anyway, the year has been good and productive thus far!  Huzzah!

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Go me! I’m not above celebrating myself.

So, like I said, I made a revision schedule for DS1. If I revise a 1,000-word chunk four days a week, I will be able to finish the second draft of this novel (draft one was 66,100ish words) by April 30th. That’s my actual goal.  It’s realistic and easily doable even if I fall a little behind.  Why only four days a week?  Because Sunday is shower day, which is an all day thing; Tuesday (or sometimes Monday) is blog writing day, which I usually don’t feel like do anything productive afterwards; and one day a week for doctor’s appointments, errands, crocheting, or just me time.  I think that’s a reasonable schedule at this point.  However, if I continue with the same basic schedule, just with revising 1,500-word chunks, my finish date becomes March 20th (my ideal deadline).  So far, I’m keeping up with the latter date, plus I already had about 2,000 words revised that held up well under scrutiny, so I’m ahead of the March 20th deadline by about a day.

I realize that these are self-imposed deadlines, which a lot of people think are useless.  There aren’t any real consequences if I miss them, so are they really that helpful?  For me, the answer is yes and no.  Let’s tackle the no first.  The efficacy of self-imposed deadlines really depends on my mood.  If I’m feeling depressed and unmotivated and all of that, a self-imposed deadline means absolutely nothing to me.  All it does is make me feel worse because I let myself down.  You give me a deadline for a paying job or if I’m taking a class or something and I’ll get everything done a day early come Hell or high water.  But a self-imposed deadline doesn’t offer me the same kind of motivation.

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Accurate.

If that’s the case, then how are self-imposed deadlines helpful to me?  Because they remind me that I have my own pace.  That I know my own abilities.  In a couple of weeks, when I’m looking at my revisions and upset that I’m not closer to the end, I will be able to look at my deadlines and remind myself that I’m on track according to my own abilities.  I’m not capable of writing 5,000 words in one sitting.  I can’t fully revise 6,500 words in one day.  Other people can.  I’m not them.  And having those self-imposed deadlines reminds me that I have a plan, that I made this plan for a reason and it’s catered to my own abilities.  It helps me from getting too discouraged.

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I think.

What are your thoughts on self-imposed deadlines?  Are they helpful to you?  Do you stick with them?  As usual, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Happy 2020!

Howdy, howdy!  Welcome to 2020!  I hope you all have a wonderful year and even better decade!  The 2010s were a weird decade for me.  My mother passed away (don’t be sorry, I’m not), I finished my BA at SMU, got my MFA from Stonecoast, got published a couple of times, earned a LOT of rejections, lost some pups, got a new one, and the list goes on.  Ultimately, it seems like there were more ups than downs, and that’s all one can really hope for.  It’s all I want out of 2020 as well, both the year and the decade.  Anyway, since it’s the 1st, I’m just going to list my goals for the year.  I suppose I should have some kind of 10 year plan, but I don’t.  I never think that far ahead, at least not seriously.  So, you’re stuck with my plan for the year like usual.

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My 2020 goals in no particular order:

1. Finish revising DS1.  I plan on getting back to this today.  The only major change I’m looking at making is changing the tense of the story from past to present because it just reads better that way.  This goal is my priority for this year.  Hopefully, it will only take me a few months.  After I look at it, I’ll set a realistic deadline and share it with people who can hold me accountable.

2. Read 30 books.  I’ll definitely read 12 new/recently released books for the monthly book reviews (yeah, that’s still going to be a thing).  That leaves 18 books.  I’m planning on 8-10 of those being books from my “to re-read” list and the rest being books that are new to me, but not necessarily new.  At least that’s the plan.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Maybe I will start with Harry Potter. After I read some books my secret Santa sent me for the Pseudopod book exchange.

3. Keep submitting.  This will be my third year of consistent submissions.  At least two stories every week (or the equivalent if I get sick and miss some weeks like last year).  I’ve gotten about 210 rejections for my short stories since I started keeping track in 2014, plus 101 rejections from agents for G&G, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well.  The few acceptances I’ve earned make it not so discouraging.  All of my acceptances so far have been for semi-pro level payment and I’ve received positive feedback on rejections from pro level markets, so hopefully 2020 will be the year of my first pro level acceptance.  A girl can wish, right?

4. Query 100 agents (or fewer if I find one).  Once I finish the revisions to DS1, the plan is to query agents.  It’s drastically different from G&G, so I’ll have to go through the process of finding agents with a taste for this particular genre.  But at least this time I’ll have had some experience and know where to start my search.  I dread writing the query letter, though.  It’s harder to write than a novel.

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Except I’m not a lady and I have no stash yet, but one day it will be glorious.

5. Crochet.  Yes, my new hobby is still a thing.  I’m getting pretty far along with my first project (the unfinished hat doesn’t count).  And I already have like 10 free patterns saved to try and 20 paid patterns in my favorites on Ravelry to buy when/if I decide to do them.  But it’s just a hobby and will have to be done after my writing and revising each day.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself.  I’ll make it work.  Eventually.

Those are my goals for the year.  I’ll add new writing goals once I finish my revisions.  And I’m not even going to say anything about trying to be more social because we all know it’s not going to happen.  What about your goals?  Any plans you want to share for your 2020?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on A SMALL TOWN

Howdy, howdy!  Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and happy holidays to those who celebrate something else!  I hope everyone has a pleasant day full of love and good food.  Dad’s making a lasagna for us.  It’s okay.  You can be jealous.  Anyway, it’s the last Wednesday of the month, so that means it’s book review time.  When I requested this month’s book, I thought it was a mystery based on the description, but I really don’t know what category it falls into.  It’s called A Small Town by Thomas Perry.  It was released on December 17th by The Mysterious Press (an imprint of Grove Atlantic).  As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  Let’s get to it.

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Nice cover.

A Small Town follows a bunch of people, but primarily Leah Hawkins, in the aftermath of a prison break.  It’s been two years and the twelve who orchestrated it have yet to be caught.  The current police chief of the dying town decides to take a sabbatical to hunt the twelve down herself.  Can she succeed where everyone else has failed?

I’m going to say it right up front: I hated this book with a passion.  So, if you don’t want to read one long rant, feel free to skip to the rating.  For everyone else, my dislike started with the basic premise.  A small town cop with the exact same leads as the FBI is the only one who can find these men who aren’t even that hard to find.  The first one was living with his mother.  I’m sure the FBI had no idea about that and had no one watching the place at least in the beginning.  It’d be too easy.  Turns out it was that easy, but only Leah could figure it out.  From there, she got a bunch of lucky leads.  It was annoying.  And I won’t even go into the psychology of the escapees and how some with non-violent histories are suddenly committing rape and murder to “kill the town” and make their escape easier.

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Then there were the subplots.  Leah’s romance was ridiculous.  She was the other woman to some city official but it was okay because his wife had just been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy (as if that’s not an umbrella term for multiple possible diagnoses), so her sex life was over and she was a benevolent being who allowed the affair.  First off, stop perpetuating the idea that cripples aren’t sexual beings.  Second, do your damn research.  One quick Google search will tell you that MD is a number of different diseases.  Pick one.  Lastly, his wife may have been a forgiving person, but don’t use a disability to rationalize shitty behavior.  It’s not okay.  And the romance did nothing to further the main plot anyway, so it was completely unnecessary.

There was also that whole cheating thing with the racist woman and the criminal.  The sex scenes were completely random and felt like they were thrown in last minute to set up the deaths of two of the escaped prisoners so that Leah wouldn’t have to hunt them down.  It just felt like lazy storytelling.  But I was already firmly against this book by that point, so maybe I’m wrong.  I doubt it, but maybe.

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The writing was subpar at best.  I understand adding description to flesh stuff out and up the tension, but I know how to open a door.  Going through it step by step is just tedious.  And that’s how a lot of this book felt.  Tedious.  And then there was the POV.  It was one of those books that was in everyone’s head and jumped around multiple times each chapter, which is fine.  The bad part was that there are so many names thrown around and characters that only show up once that it’s impossible to follow without some kind of chart.  I don’t understand why half of the people were even worth getting names let alone a peek inside their head.  There was no focus.

Ultimately, I wanted to stop reading A Small Town.  I would have if I hadn’t been reviewing it.  But I figured I needed to see if it got any better.  It didn’t.

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Overall, I gave it 1 out of 5 stars because NetGalley and everything requires some kind of star rating.  It’s really more like half a star because I acknowledge that some people enjoyed it.  Pick it up if it’s your thing.  It wasn’t mine.

Early Christmas Break

Hello, hello!  Is everyone ready for the holidays?  I hope so.  Anyway, I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to come up with a topic for this week’s post and I keep coming up blank.  Since I’m doing a book review on Christmas instead of taking a break, I figured I would take this week off.  So, here are some festive photos of my chair that Dad decorated and a couple from the MDA Holiday Party in lieu of an actual post!

Merry (early) Christmas!