A Little Over Halfway

Life has been very, VERY, VERY busy lately. This year’s Summer Reading program at the library has absolutely exploded! I feel very blessed to serve such a wonderful community with so many thoughtful and appreciative patrons.

And the signs of a happy Summer Reading program have been scattered throughout the last month–a bottle rocket graveyard on the library roof; hands stained with paint after a successful craft; a cluttered office after Library Comic Con; and many, many smiling faces.

So it is little wonder I haven’t had much time for my blog. But today has been a nice quiet respite, and I thought it might be fun to do a post.

We’re about halfway through the year, and even though life has been busy, I’ve still found time to read. So, I thought… why not post a list of my top 10 favorite books of the year so far?

Best Books of the Year (So Far)

10. Something is Killing the Children, Vol. 4 by James Tynion IV

9.  Teen Titans, Year One by Amy Wolfram

8. Daredevil: Back in Black, Vol 3: Dark Art by Charles Soule

7. Spider-Man: City at War by Dennis Hopeless

6. Library Wars 15 by Kiiro Yumi

5. Sentient by Jeff Lemire

4. Spy Family 7 by Tatsuya Endo

3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

2. How to Take Over the World by Ryan North

1. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

What have been your favorite books this year? Has anyone else read any of these on my list? What did you think of them?

Picture: Spider-Man perler bead craft from one of our library activities.

Updates, updates, updates!

First update: Yes, I am still here. I haven’t been abducted by aliens, or swallowed by giant sandworms, or blinked into an alternate dimension. It’s been a while since I’ve posted mostly because I wanted to make sure I had enough to say, and now… I finally do.

I don’t want to build these updates up too much, of course. It’s not like I’ve landed an agent (wouldn’t that be nice), but I do have more to say than: My brother is still beta-reading for me; I’ll do edits once he’s done.

So here’s the second update: I need to make some MAJOR REVISIONS. My brother, whose help is indispensable, called me up last week and was like, “You definitely want me to be honest, right?”

That’s a “yikes” moment–but one that I would much rather have coming from him rather than in countless rejection letters.

The long and short of it is that I’ve made my characters so unlikable that he didn’t want to finish reading the story. He had to force himself to finish Part One. Ouch, right? Well, yes, but also not surprising. I started planning this story in 2019 and then dove into the biggest part of writing it during COVID. And, like a lot of people, my faith in the human race was at an all-time low during the pandemic.

And it shows. At the time, writing that way was cathartic. But the end result was just way more nihilistic than I really intended for it to be.

And that’s not what I want to put into the world. I’m all for holding up a mirror to society and showing both the good and the bad of what makes us human–but in the midst of COVID-19, I seem to have forgotten the “good” parts.

Now, however, I’m approaching the book a little bit differently. (Because who wants to read a story that’s nothing but complaining about the worst of humanity?) Instead, I’m going to focus this story more on being a love letter to all that I love. When writing, I think it’s important to hold that aforementioned mirror up to society, yes, but I also want the story to be about some of the other things that make me happy. If I work all of those various ideas into the book, I should end up with more relatable characters who will have the reader eagerly turning the pages because they care about what happens to them.

That’s the goal at least. It’s a big edit, but, as the old adage goes: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

Other updates: My brother pointed out some other inconsistencies and areas that need improvement. One involved doing some research on blood. (You should have seen the look on my fellow librarians’ faces when all of these blood-related books started coming in for me. I think they’re all convinced I’m a vampire.)

Summer Reading is also coming up, which is a busy time at the library, but I’m hoping with enough planning ahead and to-do lists, those programs won’t take away too much of my time and energy. With luck, I’ll have a second draft of Part One done by August.

Key phrase: “With luck.”

So there we go: A goal, a plan, and a whole lot of hopeful thinking. Onward and upward, my friends.

I’m Still Here

Heh… I’m not even going to look at how long it’s been since I last published an update.

Partly, I’ve been quiet because… well, I haven’t had anything to report. My brother is still acting as my test-reader. His comments have been insightful and indispensable. He probably won’t see this, but if he does: THANK YOU!

During this time, I’m putting together a list of possible literary agents.

But that’s about it. Like I said, this part of the writing process is a marathon of the same until I get to… *gulp*… sending off queries.

So yes, I haven’t updated partly because I didn’t want to bore you with the same message over and over again.

But also because… I’ve been busy!

For my library’s Book Club, I finished a phenomenal book—Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Any praise I can give this book will pale in comparison to the experience of reading it. The book made it into the number four slot of my Favorite Books of All-Time (because, yes, I’m the type of nerd who makes lists of everything).

Our library is also getting new carpet. And… yeah, prepping for that is a project-and-a-half. It will look amazing when it’s done though!

I’ve also started reading The Count of Monte Cristo—unabridged, because I’m insane. (As of writing this, I’m on page 430 and 1/3 through the book.)

So yes, I’ve been busy: as a reader, as a librarian—but still as a writer as well.

And that’s what matters, I suppose—pushing ahead. After all… there’s nothing waiting behind us.

And It Begins….

My very, very, VERY HELPFUL AND AWESOME BROTHER has started reading through my story. He’s going above and beyond, making comments in the margins about every knee-jerk reaction he has. I seriously have to give him a huge shout-out and thank-you. Once he’s read through the manuscript, the various revisions will take a while, but in the meantime, I’ve started compiling a list of possible literary agents. I also ordered several *cough*sixteen*cough* books from the library on a topic that, in his reading, my brother recommended might need a little more research. I know that’s really cryptic, but I’m superstitious enough to not want to share details of a manuscript until it’s all done.

So, for now, it’s a lot of reading, a lot of revising, and a lot researching. Not a huge update, but this is the part of the writing process that is made up of little steps.

But each step, even small, is still forward. Wish me luck.

A Missed Week, But….

A finished manuscript!

*insert party*

Last time I wrote, I was celebrating that I was done writing. Today, I’m happy to report that I’m done with editing and that I’ve started compiling a list of literary agents.

But I’m not quite ready to send my manuscript off yet. My novel has to pass the ultimate test—my brother. See, he can spot inconsistencies a mile away. He’s the bloodhound of plot holes.

So once he reads it and offers any final edits…. Well, then it will be the time to start writing queries and sending them out.

And doing a A LOT of finger-crossing.

But progress is definitely happening—more progress than has happened in years. It is both exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve worked on this manuscript for about a year and a half. The story itself means a lot to me—and is, actually, a pretty solid reflection of myself.

And to put that out into the world? To hope that people get what I was trying to say? That they like it? Or, if they don’t, that they at least recognize the work and ideas I put into it?

That’s scary.

But we can’t let fear lead our lives. My dream since the fourth grade has been to be a published author.

And, to quote my favorite character Aizawa from My Hero Academia: “There’s nothing crueler than letting a dream end midway.”

And I won’t let that happen. Wish me luck,


What do you do when you’re area is hit with an ice storm and you can’t go to work? You write. And you write. And you write, write, write, write, write.

And then, for good measure… you write some more.

(You also make brownies and pancakes, but I digress.)

The point of all of that is: I finished the manuscript I started for NaNoWriMo back in 2020.

I was not expecting to finish it so soon. I just… started and couldn’t stop. It’s so strange, to feel like you went on the same journey as your characters, but to know that you never actually left your chair. (Except to get the aforementioned brownies. Yum.)

The final word count: 60,191.

I wrote of 16,867 of that this weekend. About 70 pages.

Phew. I think I deserve some sushi now.

Review: The Final Girls Support Group

From Goodreads.com

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not my usual style of book, but I enjoyed it. While this was a horror book, it wasn’t exactly a nail-biter. Instead, I’d call this more of an intriguing read with a solid concept and a healthy handful of creepy moments. (I mean… there was one moment that was legitimately unsettling to the highest degree, but I don’t want to spoil it.) This book had some shock value, but overall was more about dealing with trauma. There was also some interesting commentary on struggles that women face, especially in terms of being victims. And even a worthwhile dive into the psychology of horror movies, examining not only the psyches within the movies themselves, but also the mindsets of audiences who enjoy them, and what those movies mean to society at large. Like I said, this book was more intriguing than anything else. It took a while to get into, but once I did, it was a pretty quick read. I was chatting with a fellow librarian who also read it, and she and I pretty much agreed: It’s not a book that we’d recommend in a “you-have-to-read-this” way, but if we saw someone picking it up, we’d say it was a good book and we’d be curious what they think of it.

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Not All Weeks Can Be Productive….

If last week was for writing, this week was for fun and relaxation. Life is all about balance, right?

I didn’t get any time to really sit down at my computer and dive into a story, but I did….

  • Finish reading this month’s novel for my library’s book club. (Review coming soon!)
  • Went out for sushi! (Yum!!)
  • And… the big one…SAW HAMILTON LIVE!!

My awesome brother got me Hamilton tickets for Christmas… and… yeah…. It was amazing!!! If you ever have the chance to see this show, please, please take it.

So yes, not much writing, but a lot of living. And sometimes, you have to embrace that. After all, a story is only as good as the experiences a writer can echo while telling it.

And this upcoming week…. back to the keyboard!

Review: Quince

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From Goodreads.com

Quince by Sebastian Kadlecik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really cute and sweet and heartfelt. I loved the theme that being a superhero doesn’t mean that you need superpowers–sometimes, you just need to be there for someone. My favorite superhero is Superman for that very reason: At the core of those comics, he’s just a guy trying to help in the ways that he can. (The ways that he can just happen to be catching meteors and such, lol.) But sometimes the “ways that you can” mean volunteering, or being a friend, or just spreading a bit of happiness rather than hate. This book ends with the idea that sometimes the “cheesy” things can also be true–and I love this comic for saying that! Thank you for reminding us that our favorite characters are superHEROES. So yes, sometimes the cheesy things are true: That we can all put a little positive into the world. (Flying and bulletproof skin not necessary.)

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Review: Thornhill

From goodreads.com

Thornhill by Pam Smy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A expected this to be a spooky story… but it was, in actuality, a very tragic one. The art-half the diary-half complemented each other perfectly. The end result meant that, while there was some creepy imagery, the story itself was a sad one about what happens when people are cruel to each other. I’d definitely recommend it; it’s a fast read, but it it packs a powerful punch.

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