2019 - Reading Project · Books

2019 Reading – Master List

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series 2019 Reading

Instead of picking a summer project filled with rereads, I’m going to stretch the series out over the whole year and pick books that I haven’t read in years or that are getting new entries this year.

Catherine Anderson – Mystic Creek

  1.  Silver Thaw
  2. New Leaf
  3. Mulberry Leaf
  4. Spring Forward
  5. Strawberry Hill

Renee Bernard – Jaded Gentleman

  1. Revenge Wears Rubies
  2. Seduction Sapphires
  3. Ecstasy Wears Emeralds
  4. Passion Wears Pearls
  5. Obsession Wears Opals
  6. Desire Wears Diamonds

Kerrigan Byrne – Victorian Rebels

  1. The Highwayman
  2. The Hunter
  3. The Highlander
  4. The Duke
  5. The Scot Beds His Wife
  6. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo

Tessa Dare – Girl Meets Duke

  1. The Duchess Deal
  2. The Governess Game
  3. The Wallflower Wager

Olivia Drake – Cinderella Sisterhood

  1. If the Slipper Fits
  2. At the Stroke of Midnight
  3. Abducted by the Prince
  4. Bella and the Beast
  5. His Wicked Wish
  6. A Scandalous Flirt

Anne Gracie – Marriage of Convenience

  1. Marry in Haste
  2. Marry in Scandal
  3. Marry in Secret

Elizabeth Hoyt – Maiden Lane

  1. Wicked Intentions
  2. Notorious Pleasures
  3. Scandalous Desires
  4. Thief of Shadows
  5. Lord of Darkness
  6. Duke of Midnight
  7. Darling Beast
  8.  Dearest Rogue
  9. Sweetest Scoundrel
  10. Duke of Sin
  11. Once Upon a Moonlight Night
  12. Duke of Pleasure
  13. Duke of Desire
  14. Once Upon a Maiden Lane
  15. Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Lisa Kleypas – The Ravenels

  1. Cold-Hearted Rake
  2. Marrying Winterbourne
  3. Devil in Spring
  4. Hello Stranger
  5. Devil’s Daughter

Charis Michaels – Brides of Belgravia

  1. All Dressed in White
  2. Any Groom Will Do
  3. You May Kiss the Duke

Julia Quinn – Rokesbys

  1.  Because of Miss Bridgerton
  2.  The Girl With the Make Believe Husband
  3. The Other Miss Bridgerton

 

 

Books

2018 in Books

I set my challenge at Goodreads for 200 books but I’m not going to make it this year — I’m going to probably finish around 160. I’m at 155 at the moment, but there are a few releases left in 2018. I had no problem reaching 200 last year, so I never thought I wouldn’t get there in 2018. I really didn’t take into account just how exhausted I would be after student teaching and losing my grandmother in the middle of my semester. It honestly took me a few months to bounce back and I’m not really sure I did all the way.

Still 155 books is nothing to sneeze at and I’m going to set my target for 175 next year to be a bit more realistic.

My favorite books this year:

  1.  Aggressive Nationalism by Richard E. Ellis. I read this for my Early Republic graduate class, and apparently, I was the only one who didn’t find it blindingly boring. I LOVE legal history. I love anything to do with the law. I could watch episodes of Law & Order for hours and true crime podcasts that focus on the law are my catnip. This book was about the rise of the Supreme Court and the battle with the Second Bank of the United States. Incredibly fascinating.
  2. The Highlander by Kerrigan Bryne. This was the year I found Kerrigan Byrne, and the Highlander was my first. I was looking for new Scottish romances because I am completely obsessed. I had the entire house to myself for a weekend, I had finished what I needed to do for classes and student teaching — and I read this book in about two hours. Then I immediately bought everything else in this series. I love her so much!
  3. Slavery and the American West by Michael A Morrison. Another read for the Early Republic class. It was really interesting to read about American expansion through the lens of slavery. Political history is one of my favorite nonfiction genres, so this was a really good read.
  4. A Fine Passion by Stephanie Laurens. During this summer, I did a reread of the Bastion Club and I was stunned by how much I loved this book even when I held up under intense criticism. Not all of the series survived this kind of scrutiny, but this book emerged as my favorite of the series.
  5. Slavery and the American Historians by Peter J. Parish. Historiography is so fascinating to read — so much about what we know about history depends on the construction of the narrative. I really liked seeing how the study of slavery has shifted and transformed in the last few decades.
  6. Barefoot in the Dark by Suzanne Enoch. RICK AND SAM ARE BACK. That is all.
  7. Japan at the Crossroads by Nick Kapur. This was assigned for my global history 1945-Present — and my professor actually wrote it, so that’s always fun. I know almost nothing about Japan after WW2, and that really opened my eyes to areas of history that I need to know more about. This analyzed the 1960 Anpo protests in Japan and how the event set Japan on a certain trajectory for the future.
  8. Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman. I’ve never studied voting rights after the 1960s, but I’m hyper aware of them in the current time period. This book did a great job at filling in the gaps about how we got here.
  9.  Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa Kleypas. After the semester ended last week, I started myself on a little LK reread marathon. I reread most of the Ravenels and Devil in Winter to get myself ready for February — and I also started rereading the Hathaways but I don’t have all of them in digital format. Anyway, rereading Winterbourne gave me a new appreciation for it. I was worried it would be too similar to Tempt Me at Twilight but it went in a new direction, and I enjoyed Helen more this time around.
  10. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I don’t read as much true crime as I used to–podcasts have just made it easier for me to get my true crime while I’m doing other things. Reading this book was bittersweet–the portions McNamara finished are so truly amazing that I am even more sad that we lost her before the book was completely visualized. An incredible book by a soul we lost way too soon.

I wasn’t completely blown away by a lot of the books I read this year but honestly, that’s probably more about me than it is the books I read. This was an incredibly difficult year, personally and professionally. Books were there to distract me, but I wasn’t really able to lose myself in reading the way I used to.  I’m hoping for better next year.

The Wrong Highlander (Lynsay Sands)

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Overall Response

I reread Lynsay Sands' Highlander Brides series last summer as part of a re-reading project, and it was an interesting experience. There were some highs and lows, but generally, it's an okay series as long as you're familiar with her work.

I was worried when I realized that she was releasing another book about a Buchanan brother -- there are like a thousand of them, and they're all the same. I couldn't have told you their names before she started releasing the books.  I was hoping this book would be about Rory because he's the only brother, aside from Aulay, that I had any interest it. But apparently it's about Conran, who I had no idea existed.

The characters aren't all that interesting, the romance is very uneven, and the plot is all over the place as if Lynsay Sands just hadn't figured out how to do write this. It actually has a sort of a promising beginning that, for me, never delivers. I mean, if you just want to with a cup of tea, be comfy, and read a book that will probably entertain you but won't stay with you, this is a good book for that.

Read more

Writing

Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 28

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

So Nanowrimo was a bust this year. I managed around 24,000 words but, honestly, none of it is all that great, and the story is going in the discard pile for me. I’m going to try to figure out why this didn’t work out and what I learned in this process so I can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Development Hell

Counting Stars is a story idea that I’ve been playing around with for a long time. If I go back into the archives of my story status posts at Crimson Glass, it first showed up on my radar around March 2014. This means I’ve literally been thinking about this idea as long as I’ve been back writing.

My first note about it was that I had mostly storyboarded (meaning I had laid out the scenes) the plot, and I would probably be writing it in my free time since it wasn’t going to be very long. Then I wrote that it would be going back to outlining because I felt like it would be too superficial.

It remained in what I call “development hell” for four years. That should really tell you something. I have a bunch of projects that have been hanging out there almost as long, but most of them are outlined and I just haven’t gotten to them yet since I spent most of 2016 not writing at all.

Story ideas that I keep outlining, hoping for something to change, usually end up in the discard pile, and that’s where Counting Stars is going to go. Why?

The Story

Let’s look at what the plot was. Here’s the synopsis I posted for the Nanowrimo Poll:

Set in April 2000

When Jason Morgan left Port Charles in January 2000, he left to protect himself from the machinations of ex-lover and current sister-in-law, Carly Quartermaine. He also left to protect Elizabeth Webber, a close friend who saved his life and put her own at risk for their friendship—and because he knew their relationship was changing in ways they weren’t ready for.

Several months after his departure, Elizabeth has tried to keep her secret hoping he would contact her or even come back. But it becomes impossible to hide anymore, and she goes to Sonny Corinthos in hopes of contacting Jason. Sonny, however, and Jason weren’t on great terms when Jason left town, and he’s only heard from his friend a few times. He promises to get in touch as soon as he does hear.

Luke Spencer, worried about Elizabeth, decides to track down Jason on his own and convince him to return. He finds Jason who seems interested in coming back—but then Jason is nowhere to be found when it’s time to return to Port Charles. Has he run away to avoid Elizabeth? Or is something else more sinister preventing his return to Port Charles?

The answer to that question is yes, there is foul play, and it was Nikolas. Nikolas kidnaps Jason, holds him hostage until Luke and Alexis rescue him. Spoiler alert.

The Epic Fail

Okay, let’s talk about why this didn’t work.

I’m not saying the plot itself couldn’t work. I absolutely think that with time and patience, I could have written a story where this plot fits into a larger Cassadine v Spencer war, and I’m not ruling that out. One of my ideas that still sits in the idea pile is rewriting the 2001 Spencer/Cassadine war that didn’t last long because some of the story elements veered too close to the anthrax scare of 2001.

I just don’t want to write it right now. It requires A LOT more time and research than I have right now. That’s from a GH time before Youtube and DVRs so a lot of those episodes I saw once, if that. I don’t know the characters, I don’t know their voices, and it just isn’t something I can do right now.

And that’s honestly why this story doesn’t work. Without a longer buildup, Nikolas’s decision to kidnap Jason feels out of character to me. And I *know* I have readers who do not give a damn about those kinds of things because I’ve read other writers who do completely bonker things with the characters, and people lap it up. That’s not a read, it’s just a fact. For me, I need my characters to be motivated properly, and I would need to do a lot more with Nikolas and the Cassadine side of things.

I also think this kind of story doesn’t work just as a Liason story, which means my audience would be limited. As originally plotted, Jason is basically off screen after the first chapter until the final scenes. I write ensemble stories, but my readership is the Liason fanbase. I know that.

I also didn’t have a great ending for the story. Basically, Jason was going to be set free, work things out, go home to Liz, await the birth of the baby (who I never ended up naming) and Nikolas was going to be left behind in Greece to be let out of the cell by Helena who would show him Lucky (in my version Lucky didn’t come back in the winter of 2000).  That’s just not a satisfying ending to me, but anything else required a lot more outlining.

What I ended up with was a plot bunny that probably should go into a larger story. It’s not just not feasible to stand on its own and be up to standards I hold myself to.

But I learned a lot about what stories I should be putting in the poll. No more crossing my fingers and hoping it will work out. 😛

Writing

Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 21

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

Today was the first day I dug into the second draft of Counting Stars and so far it’s working for me. I wrote five scenes and 4,005 words. This brings my total word count to 24,750. If I can write 2500 words for the next nine days, I’ll be eligible to “win” for the month. My hope is to write 5 scenes a day and not worry so much about the word count — if I can manage that, then the story will be finished which is what I really wanted for this month.

I said in the last post that I had changed the story structure from a typical novel to my short story format of First Do No Harm, Shadows, If I Don’t Try With You, etc., and I wanted to expand on what that means.

These are the stories I write with scene numbers. I can’t remember why I started writing that way, only that I did it with First Do No Harm in 2007.

I approach those scenes slightly differently — they’re usually more brief (less than a thousand words) and the story ends up being more like snippets from a life than a full-fledged story. These are good for plots that don’t lend themselves either to a full All We Are story or even a short story like Other People’s Truths. It also takes pressure off me because I don’t do a lot of world building in those stories. I jump into a timeline, don’t change much, etc.

I’m feeling good about this change. I hope you guys feel good about it, too.

Writing

Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 19

This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

All right, so yesterday, I re-outlined the story and today, I did the storyboard (I laid out the scenes to see how best to structure it.) It looks like I have roughly 47 scenes. Now, that’s about 11 chapters if I were to my traditional 4-5 chapter structure. What I’ve decided to do is to write it in the style like Shadows, First Do No Harm, and If I Don’t Try With You which were all pretty long but didn’t quite fit into natural chapters.

I don’t know if it’ll be 2 parts or 4 parts. It will depend on how long the scenes are once I actually start writing. So what does my writing schedule look like going forward?  With the reoutlining and storyboarding, I brought my word count total to 20,744 words. The NaNo site tells me I have to write about 2500 words to finish on time which is completely within my range of skills.

The only thing that slightly worries me is that I have a 20 page paper due next Thursday and I’m planning to spend most of next weekend tackling that. The hope is that I’ll be able to double up a few writing days on both projects and basically ignore everything else in my life for about a week.

I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m not giving up 😛

Writing

Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 18 (Mea Culpa)

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I think one of the most important traits a writer can have is the ability to stop and admit that it’s okay that what you’re writing is not going well. Every time I write a story, I learn more about my own process and hopefully what mistakes to avoid in the future.

When I planned NaNo for this November, I had a lot of projects in my head and I couldn’t decide exactly which ones to put in the poll, so I put them all in there — including projects I hadn’t really outlined.

If I had outlined Counting Stars from beginning to end rather than just having a simple plot sketch, I would have quickly seen I didn’t have enough for a full-size novel. By the time I realized it, it had already won the poll and so I felt like I had to pursue it and figure out how to make it a bigger story.

And that was obviously insane, because I don’t think my readers would have been annoyed if I said, hey, on second thought — there’s not enough here to even write 50,000 words. Let’s do a quick 24 hour poll with projects that are more suitable.

So instead, I went into the outlining process trying to make my story longer and more ensemble like which has made writing it actually a lot more annoying. I’ve had some real life issues keeping me from really writing as much or as well as I’d wanted, but you can usually tell when you’re forcing it. I added subplots and characters that I’m not really interested in writing.

So eighteen days into NaNo, I don’t think my project is worth completing in its current form. Does that mean I give up entirely?

Actually, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. A few years ago, I was writing Mad World in July. I had started it with my old outline (based on the version I started in 2004) with Sam/Sonny baby, the Ric/Alexis/Kristina situation, etc. My Liason version was Jason and Liz in a secret relationship about Cameron, etc.

I got about ten days in and just–nothing was working. So I stopped, rewrote the outline, and made the decision to move the entire story a year earlier. What I wrote that summer ended up being what I worked on in the fall as well. I ended up rewriting Mad World again, but that was a super important to step to getting the version that you’re currently reading.

So I’m going to stop, think about the story I really want to tell and let the length be as long as it needs to be. Am I going to end up with the 33,000 words I need to win Nano? Maybe. The great thing about NaNo is that everything you write this month counts as work towards the novel, reoutlining is going to let me boost the word count as well.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to regroup, refocus, and report back to you guys tomorrow how this is going.

Writing

Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 15 (Part 2)

This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I did it! I came home and had myself a second session so I could finish up Chapter 4. I added another 1663 words, bringing today’s total to 3707 words, and overall is now 16842. That’s about 9000 words under par but if I keep writing 3000 words over the next five days, I’ll be caught up.

That’s actually doable now that I’m on Thanksgiving break. I don’t have to do a ton of studying outside of my research paper, which I an only stand to work on for a few hours at a time, and I don’t have a crazy work schedule. I might even be able to punch it to 4000 words a day which would be awesome.

I wrote a Sonny/Alexis scene, and another Elizabeth scene. I’m finished Act I, the set up, and now we’re getting into Act 2. The next two chapters are kind of a stalling pattern, so I’m going to be doing a lot of character work. One of the things I want to do in revision is really punch up the supporting characters. I’m trying to tap into the Luke of the late 90s who was a VERY different animal than post-Lucky resurrection Luke, so I’ll have to watch some clips.

We’re making progress 😛

Writing

Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 15

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

So I’m actually hoping to get a second session of writing in later today because I wasn’t able to write yesterday thanks to my dentist appointment taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I have an assignment due at 3PM that I absolutely have to get done, so I stopped writing for a little to concentrate on that.

I started Chapter 4 today, and fought the urge to revise the Sonny/Elizabeth scene that had already been written written. Instead, I wrote the long group scene with Luke, Laura, Liz, Bobbie, and Nikolas–it ended up being 2784 words, bringing my total to 15,179.

I’m about 4000 words below where I wanted to be at this point in the week, but I’m not mad. If I can finish this chapter later (there are two more scenes), I should be able to get another 2000 words out of it.  I’ll write Chapter 5 tomorrow, and that should take care of it.

Hopefully, I’ll have a second post later tonight with some good news 🙂

Writing

Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 13

This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I didn’t get a chance to write this post yesterday — I was going to do it when I got home from class but then I got home late, and I didn’t feel like pulling out my laptop.

Today was a good day — I didn’t hit the 3000 goal, I stopped short at 2562. I hadn’t expected to get that much out of the two scenes left in Chapter 3. I thought I’d get about 800 words from each, and then I’d get the other 1500 or so words from a larger scene planned in Chapter 4. Then Luke and Carly started talking to each other,  and we were off.

I didn’t have the time to write the larger scene in Chapter 4 because I had class, so I just stopped for the day. It’s only 450 words away from what I had planned, so that’s not bad at all.

I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a firmer handle on the voices of these characters. I still want to watch some clips during the revision process, but writing these scenes doesn’t feel as stilted and painful as they once did.

I wrote 2562 words, which brought my total to 13,135. I’ll be writing later today — there’s some studying and stuff I have do in the morning, then I have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the time I’m usually writing, so hopefully it won’t be too painful to write later.