Read & Written: A Peek Inside My Writing Life (April 2017)
Another month, another Read & Written recap!
April went by in a flash, which is no surprise considering my brain still seems to think it should be February---despite the fact that the weather already has me in shorts. *sigh*
In more exciting news, I relaunched my Youtube channel this month! So naturally, I thought it would be a lot of fun to not only recap my month in reading and writing here on the blog, but also in video. You can watch me talk it up below or head over to Youtube to check it out.
What did I read in April?
My goal for April was to read 3 - 5 of the massive books I'd been pushing further down my TBR list for months now. I had The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, and A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin in particular in mind.
Unfortunately, my personal life got a bit stressful this month and I just didn't have the mental energy to commit to such massive books. Instead, I filled my month with quick, easy, entertaining reads. Catch my spoiler-free, super-mini reviews below!
(Psst! The Book Depository links below include affiliate codes. Any purchases made through those links helps me keep the lights on here at no extra cost to you. Also, free worldwide shipping, yo!)
1. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (link)
My rating: 3 / 5 stars
Slow Regard is a novella set in the same story world as Rothfuss' Name of the Wind series, and it follows the everyday happenings of one of the series secondary characters, Auri.
Auri rarely has human contact and treats inanimate objects as souls. Because of that, her actions were seemingly random and the novella felt directionless most of the time. Drifting. Yet for some reason, I also found it quite captivating.
If you're a Rothfuss fan, this novella is definitely worth a quick read, especially if you're curious to learn more about the mysterious Auri.
2. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (link)
My rating: 4 / 5 stars
Ahh, how I love the Shades of Magic series! A Gathering of Shadows is the second installment in Schwab's trilogy, and it was riveting.
Delilah Bard may just be one of my favorite characters of all time, and Kell follows quickly on her heels. I also can't wait to get to know Rhy and Alucard even more in the third book.
My only big gripe with this book was the tournament. I loved watching magicians battle it on the playing field, but I do have to admit that The Hunger Games and all its many wannabes have made any form of arena in fiction seem a bit stale for me.
3. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (link)
My rating: 3 / 5 stars
Forever is a book that's been sitting on my shelf for a long time. I read the first two books in this series sometime over the past two or three years, and while they were entertaining, I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to dive into the third installment.
But when life got tough this month and I needed a quick read, I decided to finally give it a go. Forever definitely followed in the wake of its series predecessors. Nothing too captivating, but quick and fun. Exactly what I was looking for, and a fairly good end to the series (which is a teenage paranormal romance with werewolves, if you're curious).
4. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (link)
My rating: 3 / 5 stars
You know those cheesy, slightly problematic teen shows that for some strange reason you just can't seem to stop watching?
I've come to the conclusion that any book by Sarah J Maas is the YA fantasy equivalent. Despite having qualms with Maas' treatment of her characters and her icky attempts at diversity, I can't help but pick up the next book in either of her series whenever I need a quick, entertaining read.
Queen of Shadows was probably my least favorite in the Throne of Glass series so far, but Lord help me, I'll probably be reading Empire of Storms in a month or two. #sendhelp
5. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (link)
My rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
For a complete change of pace, I picked up this short middle grade book that I've been eager to read for ages. A Monster Calls follows the story of a boy who conjures up a monster that he believes will help heal his mother's cancer.
This book wasn't my typical style, but it got to me all the same. If you're looking for a poignant, heart-breaking story to make you feel all the feelz on a Saturday night, this is the perfect read for you. (Not to mention how amazing the art in this book was. Probably my favorite part. *swoon*)
6. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (link)
My rating: 4.25 / 5 stars
One of my goals for 2017 was to read more YA contemporary, simply because my only exposure to it so far has been John Green.
I'll Give You the Sun is exactly the type of contemporary novel that I was hoping to find. It dives deep into human nature and the power of love and art and heartbreak and grief as twins Jude and Noah deal with the aftermath of their mother's death.
I don't want to say why I didn't give this book a full five stars because of spoilers, but I definitely recommend giving this one a read if you love exploring the dirty, gritty side of humanity as much as I do.
And that wraps up my April reads! Overall, I'd say it was a great reading month, despite the fact that I didn't reach my initial goal. Now let's talk writing...
What did I write in April?
My only writing goal for April was to, and I quote, "write my little heart out." I didn't officially participate in Camp NaNo, but I did write and revise a good handful of chapters for the third draft of The Dark Between.
I also took some time off from revising to gain a clearer picture of both the story and series arcs for several characters, which turned out to be hugely beneficial. I now have a much clearer picture of my characters and plot, which has made rewriting and revising much easier.
Here's a snippet from my work this month, the prologue from The Dark Between:
"What strange force compelled the man to touch the stone, he couldn’t say.
Its face was cool under his fingers, nothing more than smooth river rock. He thought perhaps he’d been mistaken, his mind addled from so many sleepless nights spent with one hand behind his head and the other on the hilt of his sword…but then the stone’s dark surface began to swirl.
Stars flickered. Galaxies spun. Tendrils of deep black sky sprang forth, stretching ever outward, filling the very air he breathed. The man stifled a cry as flames of heat licked up his arm, igniting the marrow of his bones.
A great something seemed to leap from the black, so full of life the man could hear its pulse thrumming in his ears. With every beat the pressure rose until the man thought his ears might shatter and bleed. But then he saw a new light, bright and singular in its beauty, and all other thoughts fled from his mind.
It was ever wondrous, this new light amid the deepening black, and the man watched as it drew breath, growing brighter with every inhale. It was a tiny thing, no more than a speck on his fingernail, so it surprised the man when the light sighed, released its grip on the heavens, and fell. And fell, and fell, and fell…
The crack of a skull. The star plummeted to the dust below, its light snuffed upon impact.
A weight sank heavy in the man’s chest, but if the stone knew his sorrow, it paid him no mind. A low fog rolled across the night, and from it rose a high stone wall and a sour grey keep, a sly winter fox hanging from its parapet.
This time, the man’s breath grew thick. His chest pounded. His pulse raced in his throat. He clawed at the air around him, a prisoner desperate for release. Begging. Pleading.
The stone acquiesced and the man stumbled back, falling hard to the floor at his master’s bedside. There he sat for a long while, his brain muddled, his soul weighted by something he could not name.
At last, he looked back to the stone. It was once more smooth river rock against his master’s chest, as if nothing had come to pass, the whole of it conjured in some strange fever dream. Perhaps it had been. Perhaps he was mad. Yet for all his disbelief, there were two things the man knew for certain. No one could know of what had happened today.
And he was going home.
What happened at Well-Storied in April?
Eek, so many wonderful things happened this month!
I also worked on the new version of The Pre-Write Project, which I had originally planned to launch in late April. Unfortunately, I got a bit caught up in that super secret project, but the new Pre-Write Project should be launching soon, too!
Published on the Blog:
Other Exciting Things:
- I hosted my very first Well-Storied giveaway, and it went so well. Congratulations again to the winner, Romy Anthonijsz! I can't wait to do more giveaways in the future.
- Did I mention that I hosted another guest post this month? This time, author and long-time Well-Storied reader Karah Rachelle dropped by to share her pre-writing process with us!
- This month, I also became a contributor to The Verbs, an online Macmillan publication for fiction writers of any genre and career path. There, I'll be sharing the same articles I publish here on Well-Storied, but don't hesitate to check out the other contributors' work!
- Our Well-Storied Facebook community, Your Write Dream, grew to over 3,000 members. Hurray! If you haven't joined yet, what are you waiting for?
What are my plans for May?
Trying to keep it simple this May. Am I going to do a good job of that? Probably not, but here are my goals anyway:
- Read whatever I feel like. I'm taking the pressure off where I can by saying "screw it" to a reading goal this month. Will I still end up reading a bajillion books? Likely. But I'm happy to do without that strange sense of bookish obligation this month.
I did, however, pick up some books from the library the other night that I CANNOT WAIT to devour, including A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. So bring on the books, May!
- Re-write and/or revise 30k. I'm currently working on the third draft of The Dark Between, which is receiving major rewrites on one plotline and substantial rewrites in the second half of another. Which means I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want to finish this draft by my self-imposed deadline: July 31st. So, 30k it is this month. With any luck, that is!
- Keep up my new Well-Storied routine. Now that I have a Youtube channel and a podcast to run, I've really tightened up the ship so I can continue putting out great content without stressing myself out.
My hope is to continue publishing new blog posts and podcasts on Mondays, new Youtube videos and tie-in blog posts on Wednesdays, episodes of The Well-Storied Podcast: Archived on Thursdays, and the #StorySocial blog recap on Fridays. I managed it quite well in April, so here's hoping I can cement this new routine in May.
- Make lots of things. Between the new version of The Pre-Write Project, the brand new free resource I have planned, and the secret project I hope to launch soon, I have a ton of creating ahead of me. I don't want to set any specific goals here since I'm already trying to cement my new publishing routine, but hopefully May shall be the month of epic creating!
- Less input, more self-care. I'm endlessly curious, which may sound like a great thing...but it has its cons, too. I'm constantly checking my phone to see what my favorite authors are up to, what other bloggers are creating, how well my stats are doing, and---of course---how the entirety of the War of the Roses played out and how Lin-Manuel Miranda rose to fame and how in the world binary star systems work in the first place. (Looking at you, Sirius!)
All that to say, I want to spend more time this month disconnected from a constant input of easy information and instead spend that time relaxing and decompressing. Taking longer walks, reading more books, sitting outside more often, and enjoying my morning coffee without a device in tow.
And those, my friends, are my goals for the month of May. I feel like 2017 has been a big year of evolution for me. The year's gone by so fast, yet I can look back and see just how much I've changed in the course of a few months. It's insane. Anyone else feeling the same way?
As always, I hope you guys enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at some of the things that have happened in my life this April.
I'd love to hear what you've been up to in return. Share a mini-recap of your month with me in the comments below, or write your own full-length blog recap and shoot me a link. I can't wait to check it out!