NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

So I have this friend Karena who is a writer.  She started a writing group and invited me because I write a little bit and I review books.  I told her about the one and only book idea I had when she asked if I wanted to be a writer.  She thought I should write it. So I did. I brought one scene of my book idea to writing group and everyone thought I should finish the book.  But I couldn’t.

I was scared of writing a novel.

I used to be a piano major in school and it was HARD.  I worked my butt off and eventually decided after two years that piano wasn’t for me.  I had learned enough in college to teach, which is what I loved doing, but I no longer loved piano like I used to.  The hard work had made my beloved hobby a chore.  I haven’t played the piano for fun in over 7 years.  I told myself it was because I didn’t love it anymore but I think the real reason was I let myself believe that I wasn’t good at playing the piano.

I love reading. I love this book review blog.  I love the short stories that I write.  What if my last hobby that I love dearly turns into a dreadful job that I hate, too? What will I have left after that?

It’s a real fear to me, but when I told that to my husband he said, “That’s the weirdest reason for not doing something I’ve ever heard.  How will you know if you like it if you don’t try it?”

Good question.  I thought I wouldn’t like book blogging. My sister talked me into blogging because she loves it.  I didn’t have anything to talk about besides books so I decided I would blog every day for 30 days just about books to see if I liked it.  Turns out I did since I’m still doing it 3 1/2 years later.  I should write every day for 30 days to see if I like it and hey what do you know but that’s what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is.  You write 1500 words a day and at the end of the month you will have a novel length thing of words.

Participant-2014-Twitter-Profile

Friend me on NaNoWriMo – I’m “booksatruestory”

I have officially signed up for NaNoWriMo.  My goal is to be creative, have fun, try to turn my internal editor off, get to know my brain a little bit, and write every single day.  I know that I could go through the tedious process of editing and revising but the big question mark for me is – will I like the creative side of writing?  I’m going to use everything I learned from Laini Taylor about brainstorming and finding a story cat.  My fingers are crossed that I end up loving this crazy hobby called writing.

I like challenges.  I like little progress bars. I like badges (OMG did you see the badges? I want them all!)  I like online community.  I think NaNoWriMo is going to be a blast since it is all of those things in one.

And if it turns out making up stuff isn’t my thing, there’s always book blogging. :)

P.S. I decided to start playing the piano again and guess what? It’s fun and I love it just as much as I ever did.

P.P.S. If you want to friend me on NaNoWriMo I’m “booksatruestory”

 Sponsor Me

As I mentioned above, I love getting badges and one of the badges is to raise money for the charity that runs NaNoWriMo.  If you would like to sponsor even a little bit, it helps run creative writing programs for kids.  You can deduct it from your taxes AND I promise to name a character after you :) (But only if you want to be a character)  Click here to donate or at the button below.

My Word Count Badge

If you want to see my progress of how many words I’ve written, I will have this badge in the sidebar that will update all month long.

My Dream Job

My Dream Job

I finished reading Quiet by Susan Cain and it brought up the point that a lot of introverts (which I consider myself to be) are so used to repressing their natural instincts that when they grow up they often find themselves in professions that they don’t enjoy and that don’t suit their temperaments.  She had a few tips on how to find what you really want to do, but the one that stuck out to me the most was the question, “Who are you jealous of?”  Career-wise anyway.  Jealousy is an ugly emotion but what if you used it to tap into what you really want to do?  I’d never thought of that before.  So I did some thinking and came up with people who’s jobs I’m jealous of.  I’m jealous of authors and book editors and my husband’s job.  I had to sit down and think about the reasons.

jealous

I’m jealous of authors because of the book tours they get to go on.  I love the idea of traveling.  I love going new places.  Let’s be honest though.  I don’t have to be an author to travel.  Plus if I travel for fun I don’t have to give presentations.  The reality of traveling for work is probably more along the lines of this:

travel

and not this:

paris

I stand in terror of the idea of giving an author presentations, but if I overcame stage fright for my piano playing I could do it for being an author as well.  I love writing, but I’m not the kind of person that is just bombarded with ideas that I want to turn into books.  I think I could be an author someday if I studied the craft of writing a novel a little more, but I have a feeling that coming up with a story will be a lot of work that might not come naturally to me, which I don’t have the time or motivation to do right now.

I’m jealous of book editors because I love critiquing books.  I think I could do well as a book editor because, after reading a job description, I found that they also do a little financial work to keep projects on task and are involved with the marketing.  That job just sounds so awesome to me.  I majored in finance in college and I feel like I could do a great job with understanding marketing trends with my experience as a book blogger.  There are some problems with this dream job.  I have no experience as an actual editor and most of the jobs are in New York.  Utah does have a few small publishers that I could work for but they don’t always publish the kinds of books that I’m interested in reading.  As cool as the job sounds, it seems like being an editor is less reading and editing books and more group/project work which doesn’t appeal to me quite as much, though I think I could do it and do it well.  The thing that I love the most about the idea of being an editor is reading tons of books and critiquing them.  When I said that to myself, I had to laugh.  Because reading tons of books and critiquing them is exactly what I do now as a book blogger.

laughing

Is it possible that I am doing my dream job right now and I just didn’t see it before? I think the answer is yes.

And when I sat down and really thought about it, I saw other reasons that being a book blogger was my dream job. I get to work on a computer which is what my husband does all day and the reason I’m jealous of his job.  He works on computer databases which I would never want to do, but for some reason I love working on a computer and I always wonder if he knows how lucky he is to work on a computer all day long.  I love that as a book blogger, I don’t have anyone bossing me around or telling me what to do.  I read, write, and say whatever I want with no one to answer to.  It’s flexible.  I can work as much or as little as I’d like.  I’m passionate about this.  When will I ever get tired of talking about books?  Apparently never.  I don’t get paid a dime to do this.  In fact, I actually spend money on this dream job of mine.  Which brings me to my only complaint about being a book blogger.  I don’t actually get paid.  Is it still a job/career if I don’t get paid?  I think it is.  Though it did bring up the idea that maybe someday I could be a professional book reviewer for a site like Kirkus.  They hire free lance book reviewers and I could do essentially what I do now but get paid for it.  The down side to that being that I would then have a boss of sorts and I would lose some freedom.  So considering that getting paid is not an essential requirement for a career, I think it’s safe to say that I have my dream job right now.  And maybe some day, when I’ve got more time and I’m ready to move on from book blogging, I could be a professional reviewer.  After being a professional reviewer for a while, I could take writing classes and become an author.

I’m glad I’ve figured out what I want to be when I grow up since I’m turning 30 next week.

What is your dream job? Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Whose job am I jealous of?”  I’d love to hear your answers!

Book Discussion: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Book Discussion: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Whered You Go Bernadette by Maria SempleI love book club discussion questions! These are the questions for Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple from the Little and Brown website.

If you’ve read this book I want to discuss it with you!

If you haven’t read this book, here’s why you should!

SPOILERS AHEAD

1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told from the point of view of a daughter trying to find her missing mother. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Bee’s perspective? What light does it shed on the bond between Bernadette and Bee? Bee was the least biased character in the book.  She was a window to show the exaggeration of all the adults around her.  I think it shows how close they were since Bee didn’t give up hope and collected a huge amount of documents just to find her.

2. What are your thoughts on Bernadette’s character? Has she become unhinged or has she always been a little crazy? What, if anything, do you think sent her over the edge? Have you ever had a moment in your own life that utterly changed you, or made you call into question your own sanity? I thought her character was a little extreme.  At the beginning of her life she picks a fight and holds a grudge to the point that she loses her house.  She was very hot headed.  I think her extreme swings in personality were a little crazy.  She then became apathetic when she went to Seattle to the point that their house sounded like a health hazard. I wonder if it was the miscarriages that really sent her over the edge.  I think at first it seems like she was moping over her lost house, but I think she was really mourning for her lost kids.  It was an interesting experience reading about her because from an outside perspective she did seem a little crazy, but at the same time she was so relatable that it felt like I really understood why she did things.  Maybe crazy people are just people who have motivations that we can’t see or don’t understand.  In my own life I wondered if I could even handle having a kid.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but three kids later it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done.  Hard things make you grow the most.

3. When Bernadette relocates from Los Angeles to Seattle, she must cope with being a transplant in a new city. Have you ever moved, or even stayed put but switched jobs, and had to adjust to an entirely different culture? What was it like? I moved a lot when I was first married and I really empathized with Bernadette feeling outside the community.  To feel a part of any community you have to make an effort.  Being on the outside feels like this constant, small fear that you are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with you.  It’s unsettling and I could see that her reaction would be to hate all her neighbors.

4. The idea of going to Antarctica becomes too much for an already frazzled Bernadette to bear, but the trip itself, surprisingly, turns out to be exactly what she needs to get back on track. How do other characters in the novel experience their own breakthroughs? Which character is most transformed? I kind of think her gossipy neighbor, Audrey, changed the most.  She really started to see Bernadette’s side of the story and put other people first.  Audrey faced reality for the first time and dealt with it better than I thought she would.  Bee realizes she wants to stay with her family.  Bee’s father realizes he works too much.

5. How are Audrey Griffin and Bernadette Fox more alike than they realize? This question surprised me.  I think the thing that they have most in common is that they are a little disconnected with reality.  I couldn’t think of anything else!

6. Bernadette often behaves as if she is an outsider. Do you think she is? If so, do you think her feelings of being an outsider are self-imposed, or is she truly different from the other members of her community? Do you ever feel like an outsider? I think she is different from the community but that doesn’t mean you have to be an outsider.  Like I said before, feeling outside a community often comes from distancing yourself from the community or not being involved or not putting yourself out there.

7. The book has a very playful structure. Do you think it works? Why do you think the author chose it rather than a more straightforward, traditional structure? Think about other books with unusual structures and how their formats influenced your reading experience.   I love the structure and humor of the novel.  I wish more literary fiction was written this way.  I would read more of it if it was.  I think this structure added to the mystery since it allowed you to come to your own conclusions by seeing things from many perspectives but without being confusing.  I also think it did a great job of showing the story so the reader could use their imagination which made it very entertaining and fun to read.  I can’t think of many stories that have a unique structure but one that comes to mind is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children that was partially told through photographs.

8. What do you think of Bernadette and Elgie’s marriage? Is it dysfunctional? Is there real love there? How has their marriage changed over time? Think about romantic relationships you’ve been in that have evolved, positively or negatively, and why. I don’t think it’s dysfunctional but they have grown apart.  I think they do love each other, but they have stopped talking to each other and have stopped trying.  They had different expectations about the other person and about their relationship.  Elgie just assumed that Bernadette must be happy and would start doing her work again eventually.  He doesn’t really bother to find out why she never fixes their house.

9. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, at its core, a story about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively. Were you able to relate to the book? How and why? Do you feel Bernadette’s disappearance was unique, or do all women, in a sense, disappear into motherhood and marriage?  I could relate a lot to the book.  It’s easy to feel sometimes that your personality and your goals get lost in marriage and family.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the responsibility and stop having yourself as a priority sometimes.  I love the service and satisfaction of being a mother but sometimes I even feel guilty just taking time for myself to be happy.  I think it’s very easy to let yourself disappear into a marriage and being a mom.  I know that for me, when I set aside time for myself, I’m much more relaxed and patient with my children.  When I’m giving more of myself than I’m capable of, I blame the stress on my kids which is not true.  They deserve to be loved unconditionally and I do that best when I’m happy.

About Maria Semple

Maria Semple

Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.

Book vs Movie: The Maze Runner

Book vs Movie: The Maze Runner

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The movie is much better than the book and I loved the book.  It did a great job of moving through the plot quickly and answering questions at a good pace.  There were a couple funny moments that weren’t in the book that I really enjoyed in the movie – especially the scene with Teresa.  I thought the Grievers were much scarier in the movie than they seemed in the book.  It was like a cross of aliens and a big metal spider.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  There isn’t a lot of music so I felt like something was going to jump out at any minute.  The visuals of the moving maze were just stunning and so cool to watch.

In short, you should go see it.

Teresa_Character_StillThe movie did a great job of bringing out the theme of insanity that was so prevalent in the book.  I think it was even easier to see in the movie.  Which is more insane: to keep trying to solve a maze that you haven’t been able to solve for years OR to just give up? It’s such an interesting question.  Sitting here typing this review I would say that of course I would keep trying to get out.  But I felt like by the time Thomas showed up in the maze that the Gladers kind of had given up.  They still ran the maze looking for a way out but when Thomas was asking Newt if they had tried this or that Newt impatiently told him that they had tried everything.  Thomas was curious and questioning things while everyone else had stopped and just focused on getting through the day and following the rules.  One of the themes about insanity that was missing from the movie was the voices in Thomas’ head that he later found out was a telepathic connection with Teresa.  I could just see the scientists looking at Thomas’ brain and studying what happens when he hears voices in his head and thinking “What is insanity?  WHERE IS IT?”

The-Maze-Runner-posterThe scientists at the end were so interesting.  You could tell they were desperate about the disease that slowly makes you insane.  They took people that were immune and wanted to study their brains to find out “Why aren’t you insane? What’s different about you?” The maze felt like a play on the idea of the traditional science experiment of a mouse looking for cheese.  The idea of experimenting on humans isn’t a new one.  I thought it was interesting that the scientists seem to justify what they are doing because it’s an extreme case – they are trying to save the whole human race.  So is WCKD good or not?  Does the end justify the means?  Is it okay to stick these kids in a maze with machines designed to kill them if it could save everyone? I don’t know that it is.  I do wonder that if I was slowly going to go insane without a cure if I would go to the extremes that WCKD did.

When Gally and Thomas come to an ultimatum I wondered what “team” I would choose. Gally’s team stays behind because they don’t think life is that bad or that it needs to change.  They also don’t seem convinced that life is necessarily better on the outside.  They are fine with the status quo.  Thomas’ team is curious and sees the maze as a trap and a loss of freedom but it takes a huge amount of risk to try and get out.  I’d like to think I would choose Thomas’s team, but in real life I make more decisions similar to Gally.  It also made me wonder what I would do if I knew I was being experimented on.  What would you do if you were experimented on?

One of the biggest things I missed from the book that didn’t show up as much in the movie was the lingo.  The lingo makes them feel like an isolated community but had the feel of how teenage boys would talk to each other.  The lingo was still there, just not as much as it was in the book.

mazerunnerpointSince I’m LDS (which is short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aka Mormons) I noticed a few things that maybe only a Mormon person would.  I’m not saying this is a religious book in any way or that it is an allegory.  But terms like “greenie” which is used to describe a new missionary and the idea of being surrounded only by boys for two years kind of remind me of an LDS mission.  I also thought it was interesting that Thomas wakes up with no memory of his previous life and goes through the difficult process of figuring out the maze.  That idea is kind of similar to the Mormon doctrine called the plan of salvation which is the belief that we lived before we were born on Earth and we are here to be tested before we return to heaven.  That’s the very short version and you can read more about the plan of salavation here.

James Dashner talked about how The Maze Runner was inspired by Ender’s Game and Lord of the Flies.  James Dashner talked about how he felt like the Gladers were the opposite from the chaos in Lord of the Flies with their focus on order and how they treated Teresa.

Overall, this was a great, action-packed movie that gave me so much to think about and I can’t wait to see it again.

4 Stars

Movie Trailer

Top 100 Favorite Books

Top 100 Favorite Books

I love lists. I love books. OMG I love lists of books.

When I saw this list on Jenni Elyse’s blog I had to do it too.  Facebook released an analysis of the “10 books that have stayed with you” meme and listed the top 100 books that people chose.  So of course I had to write a post and see how many I’ve read.  The percentages are how many people mentioned these books out of the 130,000+ people that participated.

Bolded titles are the ones I’ve read.

  1. The Harry Potter series—J.K. Rowling (21.08%)
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird—Harper Lee (14.48%)
  3. The Lord of the Rings—JRR Tolkien (13.86%)
  4. The Hobbit—JRR Tolkien (7.48%)
  5. Pride and Prejudice—Jane Austen (7.28%)
  6. The Holy Bible (7.21%)
  7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—Douglas Adams (5.97%)
  8. The Hunger Games trilogy—Suzanne Collins (5.82%)
  9. The Catcher in the Rye—J.D. Salinger (5.70%)
  10. The Chronicles of Narnia—C.S. Lewis (5.63%)
  11. The Great Gatsby—F. Scott Fitzgerald (5.61%)
  12. 1984—George Orwell (5.37%)
  13. Little Women—Louisa May Alcott (5.26%)
  14. Jane Eyre—Charlotte Bronte (5.23%)
  15. The Stand—Stephen King (5.11%)
  16. Gone with the Wind—Margaret Mitchell (4.95%)
  17. A Wrinkle in Time—Madeleine L’Engle (4.38%)
  18. The Handmaid’s Tale—Margaret Atwood (4.27%)
  19. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—C.S. Lewis (4.05%)
  20. The Alchemist—Paulo Coelho (4.01%)
  21. Anne of Green Gables—L.M. Montgomery (3.95%)
  22. The Giver—Lois Lowry (3.53%)
  23. The Kite Runner—Khaled Hosseini (3.67%)
  24. Ender’s Game—Orson Scott Card (3.53%)
  25. The Poisonwood Bible—Barbara Kingsolver (3.39%)
  26. Lord of the Flies—William Golding (3.38%)
  27. The Eye of the World—Robert Jordan (3.38%)
  28. The Book Thief—Markus Zusak (3.32%)
  29. Wuthering Heights—Emily Bronte (3.26%)
  30. Hamlet—William Shakespeare (3.22%)
  31. The Little Prince—Antoine de Saint-Exupery (3.21%)
  32. Sherlock Holmes—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (3.15%)
  33. Fahrenheit 451—Ray Bradbury (3.15%)
  34. Animal Farm—George Orwell (3.12%)
  35. The Book of Mormon (3.08%)
  36. The Diary of Anne Frank—Anne Frank (3.05%)
  37. Dune—Frank Herbert (3.02%)
  38. One Hundred Years of Solitude—Gabriel Garcia Marquez (2.98%)
  39. The Autobiography of Malcolm X (2.83%)
  40. Of Mice and Men—John Steinbeck (2.78%)
  41. The Giving Tree—Shel Silverstein (2.72%)
  42. The Fault in Our Stars—John Green (2.68%)
  43. On the Road—Jack Kerouac (2.68%)
  44. Lamb—Christopher Moore (2.58%)
  45. Slaughterhouse-Five—Kurt Vonnegut (2.54%)
  46. A Prayer for Owen Meany—John Irving (2.53%)
  47. Good Omens—Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (2.52%)
  48. The Help—Kathryn Stockett (2.45%)
  49. The Outsiders—S.E. Hinton (2.44%)
  50. American Gods—Neil Gaiman (2.42%)
  51. Where the Red Fern Grows—Wilson Rawls (2.41%)
  52. Stranger in a Strange Land—Robert Heinlein (2.39%)
  53. The Secret Garden—Frances Hodgson Burnett (2.38%)
  54. Little House on the Prairie—Laura Ingalls Wilder (2.35%)
  55. The Count of Monte Cristo—Alexandre Dumas (2.31%)
  56. The Pillars of the Earth—Ken Follett (2.31%)
  57. The Da Vinci Code—Dan Brown (2.29%)
  58. Brave New World—Aldous Huxley (2.24%)
  59. A Tale of Two Cities—Charles Dickens (2.21%)
  60. Les Miserables—Victor Hugo (2.21%)
  61. Great Expectations—Charles Dickens (2.16%)
  62. Night—Elie Wiesel (2.12%)
  63. The Dark Tower series—Stephen King (2.12%)
  64. Outlander—Diana Gabaldon (2.07%)
  65. The Color Purple—Alice Walker (1.92%)
  66. A Thousand Splendid Suns—Khaled Hosseini (1.89%)
  67. The Art of War—Sun Tzu (1.88%)
  68. Catch-22—Joseph Heller (1.85%)
  69. The Bell Jar—Sylvia Plath (1.85%)
  70. The Perks of Being a Wallflower—Stephen Chbosky (1.83%)
  71. The Old Man and the Sea—Ernest Hemingway (1.78%)
  72. Memoirs of a Geisha—Arthur Golden (1.76%)
  73. Tuesdays with Morrie—Mitch Albom (1.75%)
  74. The Road—Cormac McCarthy (1.73%)
  75. Watership Down—Richard Adams (1.72%)
  76. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—Betty Smith (1.72%)
  77. Where the Sidewalk Ends—Shel Silverstein (1.68%)
  78. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—Stieg Larsson (1.65%)
  79. A Song of Ice and Fire—George R. R. Martin (1.65%)
  80. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret—Judy Blume (1.65%)
  81. Charlotte’s Web—E.B. White (1.64%)
  82. The Time Traveler’s Wife—Audrey Niffenegger (1.63%)
  83. Anna Karenina—Leo Tolstoy (1.62%)
  84. Crime and Punishment—Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1.62%)
  85. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—Mark Twain (1.61%)
  86. The Shack—William P. Young (1.58%)
  87. Watchmen—Alan Moore (1.56%)
  88. Interview with the Vampire—Anne Rice (1.55%)
  89. The Odyssey—Homer (1.54%)
  90. The House of the Spirits—Isabel Allende (1.54%)
  91. The Stranger—Albert Camus (1.63%)
  92. The Call of the Wild—Jack London (1.63%)
  93. The Five People You Meet in Heaven—Mitch Albom (1.63%)
  94. Siddhartha—Herman Hesse (1.63%)
  95. East of Eden—John Steinbeck (1.50%)
  96. Matilda—Roald Dahl (1.50%)
  97. The Picture of Dorian Gray—Oscar Wilde (1.49%)
  98. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—Robert Pirsig (1.47%)
  99. Love in the Time of Cholera—Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1.45%)
  100. Where the Wild Things Are—Maurice Sendak (1.45%)

TOTAL: 40

I was tagged for this meme and here’s the list that I wrote.  I bolded the ones that made the top 100 list.

My Top 10 Books that Have Stuck With Me

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • A Lasting Peace by Carol Lynn Pearson
  • Power of Habit by Charles Duhig
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Quiet by Susan Cain

If you did these meme on Facebook, your blog or anywhere leave me the link or the list.  I love seeing the books that have stuck with people.