Posted in Nanowrimo, Special Announcement

Nano Real Talk, Calendars, and Memes

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Nanowrimo is a time of solemn peace and reflection… Hah! Just kidding. It’s chaotic, and nerve-wracking, and completely insane! I’ve written about preparing before (in 2016, 2015 here and here, 2014 here and here…) so this time I’m just going to say: do it. You’ll be glad and proud you did. It is 1,000% worth it.

Oh, and take it from me.
2014:

The thing I wish I’d done differently was kept up more consistency with writing every single day. After a long night in class or at work, I often felt the idea of writing one or two thousand words would just be too tough. In retrospect I wish I had told myself it would be okay to write just 500 words… Maybe even just 100 words on those days.

2016:

My proudest achievement this year was writing every single day, even if it was just 100-200 words on my phone. In previous years I allowed myself skip days and that really put the pressure on. But I found this year that I was motivated by the idea of checking in every single day for that badge at the end with 30 check-ins!


Here are the calendars I made for you:

Nanowrimo Old-Timey 2017

Nanowrimo Rainbow Cuteness Overload 2017


Here is a totally kickass thing I borrowed from a totally kickass blog NOW NOVEL so go to it and check out the awesome right now!!!

Infographic-writing-a-novel-in-a-month


And last but definitely not least, I found this:

write-meme

Which inspired me to create these: (i love you. you’re welcome.)

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

akatawitchMy latest read was Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Okorafor does a splendid job of placing her work in the stream of those that have come before, and it struck me that this would be another volume particularly suited for providing you with a list of “books mentioned in another book” (No. 50 on the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge). Chichi’s home, which belongs to her mother Miss Nimm, is “full of books.” Sunny, too, is a lover of books; when “she had run out of shelf space” she “started keeping books under the bed.” In Okorafor’s opening before the novel begins, there’s a quote from Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Throughout the novel, there are also many quoted passages from the made-up book Fast Facts for Free Agents by Isong Abong Effiong Isong. Okorafor also mentions in her pages: Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton; The Witches by Roald Dahl; In the Shadow of the Bush by P. Amaury Talbot; and Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Like the author, the main character Sunny was born in America and raised by Nigerian parents. Sunny and her family have moved back to Nigeria, where she speaks English as well as Igbo. It is so exciting to read a book about a young witch coming into her own–steeped in African legends and cultural references, rather than the old familiar western ones. Sunny forms an oha coven with her friends Chichi, Sasha, and Orlu. The reader learns all about the secret, magical world of the Leopard People alongside Sunny, who is late to the game and trying hard to catch up. There are crafty and discerning teachers,  troubles at regular school, new knowledge at every turn, a difficult father figure in Sunny’s mundane life, and a truly evil foe. Okorafor’s writing is fast-paced and exciting, and will keep you flipping pages ’til the very end. Luckily for those of you just discovering this volume, the second book, Akata Warrior, is already out! If you want to read more about Akata Witch, check out Chantel’s blog My Jamaican Vignettes and Bina’s blog If You Can Read This.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

October is rockin’, can you believe it! It will be Nano before you know it…
Much Love,
Jobe

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Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Series (comic books)

7B46D832-0883-4AF7-B865-8618E762FC07Dark Tower: The Gunslinger series is the second set of Dark Tower comics put out by Stephen King and Robin Furth. The entire arc is our main character Roland Deschain chasing after the Man in Black, and what happens when they finally meet. Book 1 is The Journey Begins. Roland tells part of his tale to a traveler named Brown. After the Battle of Jericho Hill, Roland finds Aileen not dead but dying, and honors her request to bury her in the tombs of their fathers back in Gilead. Roland makes friends with a billy-bumbler, which is kind of like a not-so-bright-but-talking raccoon. Not-Men eat a bunch of billy-bumblers but Roland’s Billy in particular keeps saving his life. Like, twice. In Kingstown Roland rescues a woman whose name is Susan who looks exactly like his first love Susan, so of course there is some getting it on that happens after he saves all the ladies who were kidnapped to be slaves. Reminded that anyone near him dies–his Billy dies saving him–Roland leaves this new Susan behind, maybe sparing her a terrible fate.

381D47DC-F118-447D-8D7F-15F2BFE620B1The Little Sisters of Eluria, Book 2 of this arc, is definitely one of the creepier concepts in these already-super-creepy comics, so don’t be surprised if this one sticks with you. Roland explores a ghost town only to be attacked by mutants, and wakes up in the care of the Little Sisters of Eluria, a nunhood that appears to be nurses, but you know from the start there’s something weird going on. There’s the one good nun-nurse, Sister Jenna, and the rest of them are super ick. Come to find out Roland is being regularly drugged to keep him docile and immobilized while insects crawl around inside his body healing him. EW. He’s also got a cross pendant he picked up from town that puts the nun-nurses off. (Hiss, hiss!) Watching it happen to one and then another of the male “patients,” Roland finds out that they’re being healed just to then be eaten. The nuns aren’t vampires, exactly, think more like spider zombie hybrids, because they keep their prey in webbing-ish stuff. When Roland gets loose from their grasp, with the help of the good one Sister Jenna, he sees that it was just a small tent, and most of what he saw on the inside was hallucinations. They get away from the baddies with the help of a stray dog that’s got a cross pattern in its fur–go figure–and Roland gives ladyface her first kiss, awww, then falls asleep. Good thing he doesn’t get it on with this one because when he wakes up she has turned into bugs. Yeah. Awesome.

54F24FBE-FF37-4D65-A2C3-CBF6E9FD1ABCThe whole point of The Battle of Tull, Book 3, is that Roland kills THE ENTIRE TOWN. That’s like, forty people, which may not seem like a lot by modern standards, but he’s got six-shooters, y’all. He shows up and he can tell the Man in Black has been through (he’s pursing him this whole time, okay?) because the MiB has brought an old dude back to life. Old dude Nort now has some bit of the sight, and knows Roland to be a Gunslinger. Roland shacks up with Allie, the barkeep with a scar, and waits for all hell to break loose, which it soon does. The preacher lady Pittston sort of mass-hysteria’s everybody into trying to kill Roland, hence Roland killing the whole town. Allie speaks the word Nineteen to Nort, which is the secret password to insanity and all the knowledge of the afterlife, so of course she asks Roland to kill her because she’s bugnuts, and he does. Well. That was A LOT of killin’. This book also gives Roland some major deja vu because he thought he’d left Brown’s encampment but Brown acts like he’d never left or stopped telling his tales. So Roland just rolls with it, because what else is he going to do.

DDE7EA8A-95D4-4AB6-8ADF-B79B4866608CIn The Way Station, Book 4, Roland finally meets Jake, who is this cool little kid from present-day our world (well, like, the ’70s, but close enough). So there’s a lot of funny jokes that Roland doesn’t get, and Jake has to learn all the ‘slinger speak. (Yar!) Basically Jake died in his world and showed up in Roland’s, brings Roland back from the brink of death, and then they decide to travel together up through the mountains. Roland gets to feel fatherly and get a glimpse of raising the son he never had, making Jake a rabbit pelt sweater for the colder weather and teachin’ him stuff. Then Roland has to put the kid to sleep so he can go get it on with a future-seeing succubus, who gives Roland nothing but jumbled riddles, but of course “Jake is gonna die” is the message we all come away with.

9AD6B089-83A4-40FB-B91C-6CBE710652F1So Roland is finally narrowing in on the Man in Black here in Book 5–they even have a conversation where MiB makes it clear that yes, Jake is definitely going to die–and Jake makes the requisite Johnny Cash reference. Roland tries to imagine leaving off his life’s quest (reaching the Dark Tower, and, ostensibly, saving the world, I guess) in order to lead a regular life being Jake’s dad, but he just can’t do it. He abandons Jake to his own devices, and Jake follows behind just a little too late. Each of them gets lost in the train tunnels on his own before they meet back up, each of them then comforted that the other went seeking him. Mutants attack while Jake and Roland are driving a pushcart on the rails and Jake gets to be brave and Roland gets to kill shit. Then there’s a crazy, rickety ole bridge, and Jake starts out crossing it with Roland not far behind, and there’s a bunch of Jake-almost-dies moments, but then the Man in Black shows up and Jake sort of teeters and is only able to grasp the edge, so Roland has to make this split second decision whether to save Jake and lose the MiB forever or leave Jake to die and finally catch up with the MiB. Being completely obsessed with his scrap of life’s purpose, Roland lets Jake fall to his death. Yeah. I’m not even kidding. Then Roland and the MiB have a pow wow and some dream times and the MiB reads Roland’s tarot, which lines us up for the next arc, which is called The Drawing of The Three.

8198BE8B-DDFB-42D6-BA0B-4E2D2EAD6E9ALast Shots, Book 6 in this arc, is really just three mini stories smushed together. The first one is Sheemie’s Tale, which I thought was by far the most interesting of the three. We get to find out more about the universe (multiverse?), the Tower, the power beams, End-World, and more. The middle story just seems like some extra Roland content that maybe got cut from somewhere else but was too good to just ditch altogether. The third story is Roland telling dying Aileen the story of Arthur Eld defeating Lord Perth, which is very David and Goliath esque (Arthur even fights with a sling). It’s interesting to see Arthur Eld, who I kind of always assumed was King Arthur, as just a scrawny kid from Topeka. But their world is all mixed up from ours, because he’s a shepherd with a sling and his town only has archers, but the enemies rolling toward them have tanks. So the tech levels are very confusing. Tune in next time for the next Dark Tower arc, and much more besides!

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

  • PopSugar 2017 reading challenge Okay. Full disclosure, I’m stretching on several of these categories. The problem is, I have this compulsion to fit everything into the same rows and lines, and I can’t just have some of these titles fit categories and others not. It would be like setting up the checkers board with pieces missing. GLARING SPACES STARING INTO YOU FROM THE VOID. It just makes me panic a bit. So, here are the categories I picked, with indications of the ones that are stretching it. No. 7 a book that is a story within a story Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: The Journey Begins (Book 1). Fits the category just fine. No. 43 a book with a family member term in the title Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: The Little Sister of Eluria (Book 2). Fits the category perfectly, and I’ve had this one planned for a while. No. 1 a book recommended by a librarian Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: The Battle of Tull (Book 3). Okay. I could not for the life of me figure out a category for this book, and I’ve been saving No. 1 for something else, but I needed a category, so here’s how I justified it: my husband used to work at a library, and often gave Reader Advisories; he also told me to read this series. There ya go. No. 33 a book set in two different time periods Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: The Way Station (Book 4). This one is also perfect. We see Roland’s cowboy land and Jake’s modern world. No. 41 a book recommended by an author you love Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: The Man in Black (Book 5). This is really stretching it. I asked my friend Cody to ask his husband Remy (who is an author) if, in his opinion, Remy would recommend The Dark Tower novels and/or comics. Because Remy is a horror reader and writer, and Remy works nights and sleeps days. Cody reckoned that Remy would likely recommend them, if he had read them, of which fact he was unsure. And I have not received further clarification. EEEK I HAD TO DO IT OKAY! No. 19 a book about food Dark Tower: The Gunslinger: Last Shots (Book 6). This is really less of a stretch than usual for me. I’m truly never going to read a book about food in any traditional sense, I can’t ever see that happening, I don’t like cookbooks or anything. But food is a significant symbol in about 1/3 of this book: in Evil Ground Roland sets up camp where a hobo was, he eats a rabbit, the hobo’s ghost shows up and eats the ghost-marrow from the ghost-rabbit-bones, and Roland finds the corpse of the hobo the next morning which has been eaten by crows. I really think is the closest to “a book about food” that I’m going to get. So there you have it, all my sins laid bare.
  • Book Dragon’s Lair Audiobook challenge Nope.
  • Book Dragon’s Lair Pages Read challenge This 800 pgs (WOW!) brings me to 14,245 pgs. Good Gracious!
  • Read It Again, Sam Nope.
  • My Reader’s Block Mount To Be Read (TBR) and Rock My TBR challenge Nope. These are library books.
  • Diverse Reads challenge (here and here). I’m gonna go with nope.
  • The Book Date Full House challenge Nope.
  • The Book Date Read the Books You Buy challenge Nope.
  • The Worm Hole’s What’s In A Name challenge Nope.
  • Anne Read Along Nope.

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

Hope you’ve enjoyed my ridiculous summation of the Dark Tower: The Gunslinger saga.
Stay tuned, more to come.
Much Love,
Jobe

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Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey

A million years ago (ok, ok, earlier this year) I read The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. The Boy on the Bridge is its prequel. Carey’s new spin on the zombie apocalypse is precipitated by the cortyceps fungus, making an army of mindless undead who know only hunger–that’s the premise established in the first book. Except that the boy, Stephen Greaves, has discovered a second generation of the fungus’s mutation, and these blood-drinkers are sentient… and children–that’s the stage set for this second book. In-fighting and politicking between scientists and the military land Stephen, our autistic genius main character, in a very dangerous mine field, trying to keep his new friends from killing or being killed by his race, humans 1.0. I listened to the audiobook for both volumes, so I should point out that the voice-acting as well as the writing are great.

The main complaint about this book seems to be that it isn’t as thrilling as its predecessor, and I will agree; but I’d argue that this sets out to be a different kind of book. Carey’s scope in Girl is macro, where we feel the weight of the fate of the world. In Boy, already knowing the fate of the world, the scope becomes micro: for this novel, the whole world is the 10-person crew on the bus, which expands to include the zombie children once Stephen learns of their existence (and narrows as characters are killed). The writing is certainly up to snuff. Again Carey brings us beautiful and insightful language. Who else comes up with her cropped white hair like exhaled smoke. Terrific stuff.

This book got a lot of people buzzing. NPR said that “Carey uses this larger crew and the slightly earlier timeline to explore the anxiety and desperation of living on the precipice of a breakdown.” The Verge compares Stephen to the main character of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, another book with an autistic boy as the main character, which isn’t an unfair comparison, if a bit limiting. As readers here, we get to experience all of Stephen’s emotional distress, anxiety, fear, and love from the inside, as well as the way he is treated and thought of by other characters.

The Verge complains that “From the beginning…its character dynamic is so strikingly similar…Once again, there’s an underage genius who’s underestimated by his travel companions, except for the nurturing mother-figure.” While it’s certainly true that Carey has created a formula that works and used it twice, he himself (in the narrative) states “all journeys are the same journey,” and it was only a few books ago that we heard Ann Patchett say the same, “just about any decent writer you can think of can be boiled down to one story. The trick, then, is to learn not to fight it, and to thrive within that thing you know deeply and care about most of all.”

Greaves goes about the rest of his waking up ritual, in spite of the fact that he hasn’t been asleep. It’s not just to forestall questions. He needs to do it because each day has a shape, and the waking up ritual is one of its lode-bearing components.

“Don’t be scared,” he slur. “It’s okay, it’s okay.” But they’re not. and it isn’t.

He wants to find who did this and teach them the going rate for eyes and teeth.

His hands are shaking. There is no sequence here. None of the things he is doing are on the long, long list of things he has done before.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

October is zooming! How is it half over already??? Are you ready for nanowrimo.org???
Much Love,
Jobe

Posted in Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts w Jobe

Just a couple days ago I posted this on Facebook:

This is awesome, but I’m upping the stakes. You intro me, I’ll intro you.

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The results have been unbelievably fun! Enjoy:


Kyle: I challenge you to introduce me and kill me in the same passage.

Agent R was on the case. His white tuxedo shone like the moonlight as he searched the crowd at the gala, his modern frames only serving to accentuate his dark eyes. His deep-toned skin had ladies of all shades catching their breath and staring, one even daring to brush his hardened bicep with her hand in passing. Sheesh, Agent, better turn it down a notch or it’s going to get a little steamy! Wait, steamy? Why was there suddenly a spray of steam in his face? The woman–it wasn’t a love squeeze, he realized too late, but the breaking open of a poison capsule, releasing the lethal dose right into his breath. No, Agent, it can’t end this way–


Ryan & Paige: The room suddenly exploded with color. Libraries are not normally known for their exciting or vibrant nature, but this appeared to be an exception. Having never seen color in action, they were caught unawares when a rainbow tsunami introduced herself to the room as a whole. “Hi! I’m Jasmine.” Before exiting just as swiftly as she entered.

Somehow, you never noticed the dullness of a room till all the excess color had been removed.

A flash of color and she was gone. “Was that a person? Did I just see a unicorn? Am I having a stroke?”

“Oh her? Nah just a highly caffeinated rainbow nerd.”

The tall lean man in jeans and form fitting black tee tips a hat at the passing rainbow, then sets his hat on the bar to run his fingers through his silky brown curls. He narrows his gaze, scanning the room with his big browns until they alight upon a figure across the bar. He walks purposefully toward her, his gait strong and unhurried.

The curvy coquette rolls her grey eyes, bored with the gawking crowds. Her form fitting red dress screams 1940s temptress, her dark curling tresses tamed in a complex binding of plaits. She sips her Manhattan, the perfect red of her lush lips leaving no mark on the glass. When the cowboy reaches her, she takes him in a passionate embrace that leaves him breathless, and he reaches for his mouth, curious at the object left there. A cherry stem, tied in a knot by the vixen’s skillful tongue.


Laura:  And suddenly the room was a little brighter, the air a little lighter, and I couldn’t stop the smile that grew on my face as I saw Jasmine enter the room.

Laura stood tall and slight of frame, comfortable in her easy farm clothes.

“I’m here to see a gal about a horse,” the brightly-colored new arrival grinned, and Laura nodded sagely, pushing her brown hair back out of her eyes and motioning for the gal to follow her outside. There the stables were breathtakingly filled with the most glorious mounts know to woman. Mares of all breeds and colors, and Laura knew each one by heart, having raised them each since birth. The stranger gasped, delighted, eager to select one. The walked down the row together, the one wide-eyed at the newness of it, the other completely comfortable in herself. The horse whisperer smelled of apple blossom and cedar. The visitor stopped in front of a pale pink mount, admiring its pearlescent horn.

“May I?” she whispered.

And Laura nodded, unlatching the gate and soothing the mare with knowing care.


Sam: The band played a lively dance number. Two strangers at the bar spoke briefly with the barkeep, who pointed toward the cloaked figure at the table in the corner. The men approached. “The barkeep says you can help us.”

Jasmine looked up from her drink.  “Five thousand credits.”

One of the strangers sat down. “You don’t know what we want.”

Jasmine shrugged. “I make problems go away. You’ve got one or you wouldn’t be looking for me.”

The two men exchanged a nervous glance before nodding in terse agreement, and the larger of the two spoke.

“I’m Sam,” he offered his hand, and she shook it. He was big and tall, a sturdy frame, and his deep browns shone out from a face dominated by a mighty beard. “The authorities have been -tracking- our movements of late. And we can’t allow Free Speech to be silenced, you understand?”

The woman sucked in a sharp breath. “You’re the poets, aren’t you?” Her voice was barely above a whisper, eyes darting suspiciously all around. “Word is you’re at the front of the Resistance. Is it true?”

The man blushed, tipping his hat in acknowledgement. “We do what we can, ma’am. Thing is, we’ve got something big on the horizon, and the opposition is getting too close. We need a decoy, a distraction, a–”

“Red Herring,” she supplied, deep in thought. “I’m in,” she stood and grabbed her coat, clinking a few credits on the table. “And this one’s pro bono. Let’s go.”


Rem: A high, girlish giggle drew my attention to the end of the table. A woman sat there, hands folded under her chin as she listen to her veritable viking of a husband talk. She grinned like an imp, dimples on her cheeks making me smile. Her colored hair was tucked behind her ear, and as I watched, she took the ends in her fingers and twisted it. She was like a little girl, full of glee, and in turn, her mood was infectious.

She could feel the man watching her, delighting in the attention of his glances. She looked over and winked, waving a little tinkle of her fingertips, and examined the man further. He was slight of frame, smaller than she might’ve expected, with a shock of brown hair obscuring one side of his face. He looked nimble, like the recline could be relinquished at any moment and the man would blur into action. He wore a whip on one side of his belt and a wicked knife on his other. The girl clapped her hands and tugged on the Viking’s sleeve, motioning toward the stranger.


Cody: She welcomed me into her warmly colorful home with open arms. Though I had never met her before, she seemed to be a friend from moment one. I was dazzled by the many versions of “rainbow” represented within her domicile, and jealous of the beautiful glow that exuded from her welcoming smile.

The small woman had the face of a changeling, pixie-like in high cheekbones and impish grins. He hair was long and flowing and her dress plain, but on her it shone, because she shone, and she could make a rag look like a gown. She seemed taut with unspent energy, ready to burst at any moment.


Karen: She entered with subtle confidence. Her pace was steady and assured. This girl was on a mission, seeking something, and her bright eyes widened on spotting her target. Me. I felt the color tickle at my cheeks when she approached. Her energy overflowed and her aura, warm and yellow like the rising sun, brushed my wide sense of personal space. She oozed vitality and vigor and I was overcome and nervous. Then she smiled, and I was at ease.

“Hi! I’m Jasmine, or Jazz, or Jobe. I work upstairs. Are you the new girl?”

“Yeah!” I could feel myself becoming stronger and more confident to mirror her. “I’m Karen. It’s nice to meet you.” Her energy was seeping into my senses and I was unaware at how widely I was smiling.

“Do you want to get lunch sometime?”

“Sure! I’d love that!!”

Her eyes squinted as her smile curled up. “Cool, just e-mail me when you want to go. Or come find me.” Jazz turned away and almost seemed to be skipping as she went back to the elevator.

Her absence leaving me surprised and oddly chilled. My co-worker returned and smiled and I asked him, “Do you know Jazz?”

He nodded, “She’s cool. A little odd. Her hair changes color all the time.”

I looked down, my eyes wide, a familiar feeling tickled and I thought, “Nerds. Is it that obvious that I’m one of them? They always seem to find me!”

Thinking back on that first lunch made her smile. Jazz always felt that gleeful energy when Karen was near. Karen was like an anime character–her face full of expression, the bounce in her step, the emotion she poured into whatever she was doing. Every new hair cut or hair style just exponentially multiplied her adore-ability, and how did that even continue to be mathematically possible?!?

Now Jazz was on her way back from Hot Springs with Chris and Conan, and Karen had agreed to meet up for lunch! Jazz made a show of breathing nervously, practically hyperventilating. “Okay, remember you guys, I did NOT just spend the last three days telling you guys how madly in love with her I am, okay?!?!?”
 
Chris frowned. “But you totally did.”
 
Conan agreed. “Yeah. I heard you.”
 
Chris continued, “What was it you said? That she had perfect hair and a perfect face and a perfect body and perfect AHEMS?”
 
Jazz died.
 
Conan continued, “What was it you were saying about her being the Lady Princess Love of Your Heart, or something?”
 
Jazz put on her best pouty-face, crossed her arms, and stomped a foot for emphasis. “You GUYS, you can’t SAY that stuff! I would be soooooo embarrassed. I would be mortified. I would LITERALLY DIE.”
 
Chris narrowed his gaze. “So Karen doesn’t have perfect little apple cheeks you could just bite?”
 
“Well she does, but–“
 
Conan tried to stifle a grin. “And you definitely don’t dream about if you were her knight in shining–“
 
“OKAY SHUT UP YOU GUYS! SHE’LL HEAR YOU!!!!!” The color drained from her face as they entered the gallery. “No more from you, Peanut Gallery.” She glared them down until they’d fastened their best straight and deadpan faces.
 
Jazz whimpered a little before steeling herself once more. “It’s just Karen,” she told herself. “It’s just your super adorable, completely amazing, unbelievably awesome friend Karen. No big deal. Breathe in, breathe out…”
 
Jazz walked up to the desk and cleared her throat to draw attention, leaning her elbow casually against the counter top. “Oh. Hey Karen. What’s up,” Jazz asked nonchalantly.


 

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

 

I can’t believe it’s time to say goodbye to Harry Dresden. He’s been part of my life for most of two years! I remember when Ender was my best friend for so many audiobooks and it was hard to let him go, too. Well, at least I can tell you about this last book before we close the pages.

Skin Game was the first of Jim Butcher’s titles I didn’t “get” from context. I wasn’t familiar with the phrase (I didn’t even know it was a phrase, a shortening of “skin in the game”) and I didn’t remember to look it up until I’d finished the book. It basically means a trick or scam.

This book brings together characters who wouldn’t normally work together—Nicodemus and Dresden on terse terms and at cross purposes at either end of the table, and a bunch of unknown quantities with a bunch of unknown  allegiances between them. Characters run the gamut from familiar faces like Binder and Karrin Murphy (I’ve been listening to the audiobooks and only just recently realized it isn’t spelled Karen) to new-to-us faces like Hannah Ascher (who is a young, literally-fiery redhead) and Goodman Grey (who has the sexiest Looziana Bayou drawl). Now we all know Dresden would never willingly work with the evilest of evils—Ole Daddy Nickelhead Himself—but Queen Mab essentially puts Harry in a do-or-die armbar. So the team assembles to steal the Holy Grail out from under the nose of Hades. (Because, why not, right?) This book is just as exciting and snark-filled as all those before it, but it’s tender exchanges like the ones between Harry and Maggie that really kick ya in the feels. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!) If you’re new to my reviewing style, I try to avoid spoiling stuff, so if you want to know more, you should just read it already! (But start with book 1, okay?)

James Marsters has now read me all fifteen Jim Butcher books in the Harry Dresden series so far. Book 15 came out almost 4 years ago, and Butcher has been putting out other books in the meantime. I’m a little lost as to where to go from here!

Reading Challenges
And here are the reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

Love,
Jobe

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Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett (a Byliner book)

ann-patchett-the-getaway-carThe Getaway Car by Ann Patchett fit the primary criteria for the kind of book I was looking for: very short & filled with writing advice. I downloaded the Kindle book at the airport between flights. This mini-memoir, which is a dainty 45 pages, was the perfect book to finish out the tail end of my airport travel. I already knew I liked Patchett from reading Bel Canto, and I was delighted to find there was an easy source for her compiled writing advice.

Goodreads does this cool thing where it links to your Kindle and gives you the option to upload and share your highlights, so here are mine:

  • The story is in us, and all we have to do is sit there and write it down. But it’s right about there, the part where we sit, that things fall apart… If a person has never given writing a try, he or she assumes that a brilliant idea is hard to come by… Writing the ideas down, it turns out, is the real trick.
  • Living a life is not the same as writing a book… Maybe everyone does have a novel in them, perhaps even a great one. I don’t believe it, but for the purposes of this argument, let’s say it’s so. Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words.
  • What begins as something like a dream will in fact stay a dream forever unless you have the tools and the discipline to bring it out.
  • Art stands on the shoulders of craft.
  • Playing the cello, we’re more likely to realize that the pleasure is the practice, the ability to create this beautiful sound—not to do it as well as Yo-Yo Ma, but still, to touch the hem of the gown that is art itself.
  • Writing must not be compartmentalized. You don’t step out of the stream of your life to do your work. Work was the life.
  • I can teach you how to write a better sentence, how to write dialogue, maybe even how to construct a plot. But I can’t teach you how to have something to say. I would not begin to know how to teach another person how to have character, which was what Grace Paley did.
  • What influences us in literature comes less from what we love and more from what we happen to pick up in moments when we are especially open.
  • An essential element of being a writer is learning whom to listen to and whom to ignore where your work is concerned.
  • I had thought I was a writer when I was a student, but would I still be a writer now that I was also a waitress? It was a test of love: How long would I stick around once things were no longer going my way?
  • I made a decision on the trip up: I was going to put writing first. I should have done this earlier, but there were always too many other things going on.
  • I didn’t know exactly where writing fell in this inventory. I was sure it wasn’t at the bottom of the list, but I also knew it was never safely at the top.
  • The part of my brain that makes art and the part that judges that art had to be separated. While I was writing, I was not allowed to judge. That was the law.
  • (If you want to study the master of the well-constructed chapter—and plot and flat-out gorgeous writing—read Raymond Chandler. The Long Goodbye is my favorite.)
  • Even if I don’t believe in writer’s block, I certainly believe in procrastination. Writing can be frustrating and demoralizing, and so it’s only natural that we try to put it off. But don’t give “putting it off” a magic label. Writer’s block is something out of our control, like a blocked kidney—we are not responsible. We are, however, entirely responsible for procrastination, and in the best of all possible worlds, we should also be responsible for being honest with ourselves about what is really going on.
  • The more we are willing to separate from distraction and step into the open arms of boredom, the more writing will get on the page.
  • Pick an amount of time to sit at your desk every day. Start with twenty minutes, say, and work up as quickly as possible to as much time as you can spare. Do you really want to write? Sit for two hours a day. During that time, you don’t have to write, but you must stay at your desk without distraction: no phone, no Internet, no books. Sit. Still. Quietly. Do this for a week, for two weeks. Do not nap or check your e-mail. Keep on sitting for as long as you remain interested in writing. Sooner or later you will write because you will no longer be able to stand not writing.
  • It might not have been a realistic life, but dear God, it was a beautiful one.
  • Dorothy Allison once told me that she was worried she had only one story to tell, and at that moment I realized that I had only one story as well (see: The Magic Mountain—a group of strangers are thrown together…) and that really just about any decent writer you can think of can be boiled down to one story. The trick, then, is to learn not to fight it, and to thrive within that thing you know deeply and care about most of all.
  • Do you want to do this thing? Sit down and do it.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

Starting to get a handle on things, better late than never!
Much Love,
Jobe

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