That Thing I did, and the Other Thing I Did Because of It

Before I dropped off the face of the earth, I said that I had signed up for a weeklong writing retreat.
That retreat took place at a place called Nimrod, and it was honestly one of the best weeks of my life. I don’t know how to describe how magical that experience was. There was no air conditioning, there were bugs, it was humid as all get out, and I’d have gone back in a heartbeat. I loved spending the morning at an antique desk, staring out lacy curtains, plunking away at my work in progress. I came away with the knowledge that my project was worth pursuing, which was priceless. I met some amazing people and had incredible food.

The owners announced in January that they were taking their land private rather than running it as a retreat. I can’t say I blame them – it’s got to be a ton of work. But it broke my heart.

However, I wasn’t about to give up on the whole retreat thing. So I signed up for a more structured workshop that was recommended to me. It was nerve-wracking, because this was definitely taking it up a couple notches. This was a week to get and give feedback and improve my craft. Because I am an absolute slacker, I took the same project to Tinker that I took to Nimrod – just a different section. (If you’re thinking she had ten months and she didn’t finish that book – yes, we can both be disappointed in me.)

This time I came away with incredible, tangible feedback, and the conviction that I need to finish this novel and work on submitting it.
Don’t get too excited. I have a lot of work I need to do. Like, a LOT. Don’t expect to see a finished product any time soon. If I’m lucky and diligent maybe I can have a workable draft by the end of the year, query-able by spring, fingers crossed.

Maybe this time…

Fingers crossed.

I did a thing.

Maybe it was too much sugar. (I really know better than to have a pastry for breakfast.) Maybe it was just the kick in the pants that I needed.

I signed up for a weeklong writing retreat in August. Time away from everything to work on writing. But it’s not just that, but in the afternoons, you work with an author/mentor on your writing. In this case, it’s Rachel Beanland, author of Florence Adler Swims Forever, which I quite liked back in 2020.

Well, I can’t go into this writing retreat with work older than some of my cats. So it’s time to dust off the keyboard and make some progress. I’ve started pecking away at a couple of new projects, one fiction, one non. I don’t know that they’ll go anywhere, which is why I’m not giving any more details just yet – I want to see what sticks first.

Here’s to what is sure to be an adventure!

Top 10 of 2021, part two

I’m back to close up the year with the rest of my top 10 reads. I did manage to squeak in a few more books after my initial post – (The Holiday Swap was cute) but none of them cracked that top 10 marker for me.

5. In a Holidaze – Christina Lauren
Why it makes top 10: This book was cute. It’s a sappy, saccharine sweet romance that almost makes your teeth hurt and definitely makes your “foot pop”.

But that’s not enough to make top 10 necessarily. Sweet romances are a dime a dozen, but this one had a premise that I adored. It’s timey-wimey, jeremy bearmy, time travely. Honestly, if they had just pushed the concept a little further (I think they gave up on it just a pinch too early) it might have crept up my list even further. As it is, top 5 for the year? Not bad. Plus, it’s one I actually want to revisit … maybe on a yearly basis.

4. The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
What makes it top 10: If I only counted the books I read in January this year, this would have been my number one pick. Unfortunately, this year had some really tough competition. I loved that this book made me think. It’s one of those books that, without being too preachy, makes you want to sit down and think about your life. The way it’s written, it feels like a series of short stories, each with it’s own moral. Interesting concept, great execution. Worth your while, if you haven’t read it already.

3. Under the Whispering Door – TJ Klune
What makes it top 10: What largely sells this story for me is the concept, because it’s not something I see a lot of. But it’s the execution that brings it home for me, and this story has heart in spades. I have to admit, it was a book that took me a little longer to get through than I would have expected, because at times it feels heavy and sad. But the payoff was fantastic. I can’t stress enough how difficult it was for me to rank my top 5 books, because they each were incredible in their own ways.

2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – VE Schwab
What makes it top 10: A girl who has immortality, with the caveat that no one can remember her? I mean, it was clever and well-written and completely binge-worthy. I still think of it on a regular basis almost a year later. Moreover, it got me hooked on VE Schwab as an author. (Their other books don’t necessarily have the same feel, but are really good and totally worth reading.)

  1. Firekeeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley
    What makes it top 10: This book is an incredible read. It does such a great job at bringing the Native American culture off the page – the story impeccably makes you understand (and love) the culture, without feeling like an information dump. It manages to have enough turns to keep things interesting without becoming cliche. The characters are all challenged and have growth – but while you care about everyone else, it’s very clear that this is Daunis’ story. It’s a YA, but that doesn’t mean that it shies away from difficult topics or is an overly easy read. I loved it from beginning to end, and this is a story that I think should be required reading. While I loved the other books on my list, there isn’t another that I think should be required. That is why not only does this book hit my top 10, it snags the number 1 spot this year.

Here’s to another year filled with great stories.