Blogging Authors Reading Project

2012 Blogging Authors Reading Project

The Blogging Authors Reading Project started a couple years ago and I'm going to continue in 2012.  I have discovered quite a few authors who blog and enjoy reading new to me authors. I have been following a few group author blogs and made it a goal to read at least one of each of their books.  Hence the Blogging Author Reading Project.  The goal is simple - to read books by authors who blog.  I'll be starting with the books I already have in the stacks since one of my goals this year is to whittle down my current TBR pile.  

My favorite site Murderati has made a few changes in the past year - lost some old favorites and added some new ones.  The current roster includes: 

From the old and current guard on Murderati, I've already read stories by Toni McGee Causey, Louise Ure,  J.D. Rhoades, Tess Gerritsen, Robert Gregory Browne, J.T. Ellison, Alex Sokoloff and Allison Brennan.  Other group blogs include The Kill Zone, Murder She Writes and The Deadline Dames.  I'll be exploring their books as well. 

Currently on the shelves and carrying over from 2011

  1. Alafair Burke - Close Case 
  2. Allison Brennan - Original Sin 
  3. Brett Battles - Shadow of Betrayal and Sick
  4. James Scott Bell - Watch your Back
  5. Toni McGee Causey - When a Man Loves a Weapon    
  6. Richard Doetsch's - The 13th Hour
  7. Diane Emley  - The First Out
  8. Susan Helene Gottfried  - Shapeshifters Demo tapes 3 
  9. J.T. Ellison - Judas Kiss
  10. Jayne Ann Krentz aka Jayne Castle aka Amanda Quick - Canyon of Night and Charmed
  11. Kait Nolan - Red 
  12. John Scalzi's of Whatever - Old Man's War

These are just a few of the blogging authors I have on the shelves.  Will most likely be adding more over the next year.

Do you follow any blogging authors?  Jump right in and join me.

2012 Writing Deliberately

2012 Writing Deliberately


I'm ready for another Year of Writing Deliberately.  A Year of Writing Deliberately was born back in 2010 when I read about Jennifer's idea of the Year of Reading Deliberately, the thoughts started rolling about in my head about being deliberate with not only my reading, but also writing as well. 

Deliberate - "Done with or marked by full consciousness of the nature and effects."   How often do we go through our days on auto pilot, not giving conscious thought to what we are doing.  Never fully in the moment, but thinking about what needs to be done next, splitting our attention away from what actively doing at the moment.  

I discovered through Julia Cameron's The Artist Way the best way to go about things is to be there in the moment, stay positive and write goals:  Daily, weekly, yearly.  To help me with my writing goals this year, I am going to continue to be a part of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the brainchild of Kait Nolan.   Click here to participate

The challenge will run in 80 days increments, 4 times a year with a break between. 

Your goal can be anything you like as long as it is MEASURABLE. If you’re already in the middle of a WIP, that’s fine.  Tailor your goal to suit that.  You may even want to set mini goals (I want to finish the last 40k of this novel.  Then I want to spend the last 20 days revising it at x pages a day.).  There are a lot of elements to writing a book other than the writing itself.  Plotting.  Outlining.  Character Interviews.  Whatever.  Set your goal to match wherever you are right now on your WIP.  If you want to use your Round for editing a novel, that’s fine too.  Just know that this is, at heart, a writing challenge, so all the weekly inspirational posts will be geared in that direction.

There’s no mandatory daily word count. Every writer is different, everyone has different schedules.  You set a goal that works for you.  Find a way to make writing a priority in your life in a way that FITS.  But set SOME kind of schedule and be CONSISTENT.
I have 5 works in progress started during National Novel Writing Month:  2007 - Floating on the Surface, 2008 - Winter's Illusion, 2009 - Eyes in the Ashes, 2010 - Red Thief and
2011 - Blue Steel.   I've reviewed each story and since my brain is totally immersed in Blue Steel, going to work on it first.

My goals for 2012 

1) Blue Steel:  Update novel Bible, research story points, complete characters sheets, edit, and polish, find beta readers and ready for querying.

2) Breakdown into measurable weekly goals.

3) Take an online Writing Course through Savvy Authors and/or Gotham Writers Workshops.

4) Join IRL or online Critique Group.

5) Write at least 2000 words a day which equals 4 handwritten pages front and back.  I hand write all my stories, then type them up essentially completing a 2nd edit. 

6) Develop 2012 Nano story - Green Ice (working title for now) and utilize K.M. Weiland's suggestions in Outlining Your Novel to prepare the story first.

7) DYI MFA -  Read and study the following craft books.
Now we just need to work on our Health, Home school and business goals which I won't detail here.  

What goals are you setting for yourself for 2012?  

~Cheers to a wonderful, happy, creative, imaginative, writing new year!

A to Z Challenge by Title and Author completed

I finished the A to Z Challenge hosted by Becky of Becky's Book Reviews with just 5 days left to the year.   I committed to reading 26 books alphabetically by Title and 26 books alphabetically by Author.  It was actually kind of fun and had to get creative with a few letters but managed to find some really interesting books.  I reviewed all the books read by title but didn't quite get to the ones by authors.  Half of the books were new to me authors. 

Alphabetically by Title

A. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

B. Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martel
C. Cinders - Michelle Davidson Argyle
D. Delirious - Daniel Palmer
E. Eats, Shoots and Leaves - Lynn Truss
F. Forsaken by Shadow - Kait Nolan
G. Green - Ted Dekker
H. Heatwave - Richard Castle
I.  In the Woods - Tana French
J. Janeology - Karen Harrington
K. Kiss the Moon - Carla Neggers
L. L is for Lawless - Sue Grafton
M. Murder in the Marais - Cara Black
N. Night Road - Kristin Hannah
O. Out of Time - Alton Gansky
P. Dark Prince - Christine Feehan
Q. Quicksilver - Amanda Quick
R. Riptide - Cherry Adair
S. Soulless - Gail Carriger
T. The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown
U. Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture - Apostolos Doxiadis
V. Vampire's Violin - Michael Romkey
W.Worth Dying For - Lee Child
X. Mister X - John Lutz
Y. Love Me if You Must - Nicole Young
Z. Hostage Zero - John Gilstrap

Alphabetically by Author

A. Alton Gansky - The Incumbent
B. Patricia Briggs - River Marked
C. Cherry Adair - Hush
D. Debbie Macomber - Angels Everywhere
E. Elle Newmark - The Sandalwood Tree
F. Diana Pharoah Francis - Crimson Wind
G. Gary Chapman - The Five Love Languages
H. Libby Fischer Hellmann - An Eye for Murder (e-book)
I.  Irene Hannon - The Best Gift (e-book)
J. Jody Hedlund - The Preacher's Bride
K. Ben Kane - The Silver Eagle
L. Lara Adrian - Kiss of Heaven
M. Mercedes Lackey - Intrigues
N. Kim Newman - Anno Dracula
O. Tess Oliver - Camille
P. Ann Patchett - State of Wonder
Q. Amanda Quick - Quicksilver
R. Karen Rose - You Belong to Me
S. Mariah Stewart - Hometown Girl
T. Traci L. Slatton - The Botticelli Affair
U. Lisa Unger - Beautiful Lies
V. Rachel Vincent - Blood Bound
W. J.R. Ward - Dark Lover
X. Qui Xiaolong - Death of a Red Heroine
Y. Rebecca York - Shadow of the Moon
Z. Miriam Zimmer Bradley - The Forest House

Looking forward to doing it all over again in 2012.

A to Z Challenge: Uncle Petros through Hostage Zero

Mini Reviews of books U to Z for A to Z Challenge by Title

Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis is a novel of mathematical obsession.  Petros Papachristos devotes his life to trying to prove  Goldbach's Conjecture, the deceptively simple claim that every even number greater than two is the sum of two primes. It's an interesting read and if you are like me, not mathematically inclined, then you discover many mathematical forums you've never heard of, err, don't remember from school.

Michael Romkey's Vampire's Violin is about a Vampire who after centuries of living has just two passions left: blood and music. The Vampire has the voice of angels and makes anyone who plays it a master player. It disappeared many years ago. He tracks it down to a young woman in college who inherited from her grandfather who had bought off a German soldier during the war.  It had been hidden in his attic for 50 years.  Now it's come to life again and the vampire wants it back.

I just finished reading 61 hours and had to find out what happened to Jack Reacher.  He lives on, of course, in Worth Dying For by Lee Child.  He stumbles upon a town that is controlled by three evil brothers.  He's ready to move on, but decides to get involved when he drives the drunken doctor to treat the broken nose of the wife of one of the brothers.  After he breaks the nose of the brother, because he doesn't like wife beaters, he gets involved in an old missing child case and he just won't let go until it's solved.

John Lutz's  Mister X is about a chilling serial killer who slices his victims throats, then carves an X in their chest.  The killings stopped 5 years ago and recently another victim with the same mo has surfaced.  And Detective Frank Quinn is asked to investigate by the twin sister of one of the victims.   The story is full of twists and turns, chock full of action and just when you think you got it figured out and know who the killer is, you realize you don't.

Nicole Young's Love Me if You Must is book one in the Patricia Amble Mystery Series.  Patricia is a ditzy gal who falls in love at the drop of a hat, has a history she doesn't want revealed and thinks there is a dead woman buried in the basement of the house she just purchased to renovate.  She is easily startled and screams alot.  Reminded me of a B movie.

John Gilstrap's Hostage Zero is a non stop thriller.  Two boys are kidnapped from a boarding school that houses kids for incarcerated parents. Both are drugged - one is left to die in a field somewhere and the other taken for a helicopter ride to who knows where.  Jonathan 'Digger' Graves and his team set out to rescue the boys and run into a government conspiracy that may just finally get him killed. 

Merry Christmas

Immanuel is with us by James Seward
Whispers White

The snow comes down in whispers white
And covers everything in sight
Making all that Heaven might
Know that this is Christmas Night.

Swirls and swirls of flying flakes
Dance, then glance the heavens, and makes
Me thank the Lord for no mistakes
In delivering his Son for all our sakes.

The snow comes down in whispers white
And covers everything in sight
Making all that Heaven might
Know that this is Christmas Night.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

2011 A Round of Words in 80 Days wrapup

A Round of Words in 80 days is wrapping up today.   I am very thankful to Kait Nolan for creating the writing challenge.  It encouraged me to set writing goals and to stick with them.   Unfortunately my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I didn't accomplish as much this year as I wanted too.  At the beginning of the year, I had planned on finishing Red Thief, editing another story and getting it ready to query and take a writing course.   I set a goal of writing 500 words a day which ended up not being a bright move for me because I didn't finish my first draft of Red Thief until September. Well, I do have finishing my Bachelor's Degree as a good excuse because it did involve a lot of writing.  Anyway, it gave me two months to do other things and then I jumped right back into the Nanowrimo pond with Blue Steel.  Since Nano I have kept up the daily writing of 1667 words and the story is progressing nicely. I hope to have the first draft done by the end of the year.  I'll have some nifty new goals to work on at the beginning of the year.  For the past month or two, I spent a lot more time writing and a lot less time online.  I hope to get back to visiting everyone on a regular basis again soon, soon, soon.  I miss my blogging buds. 

A side benefit of ROW80 was being involved with a wonderful community of writers, making new friends, discovering some interesting books and learning alot from everyone. Getting a look into the writing life of another writer is always enlightening. 

How did everyone else do with their goals.  Go see here.

Welcome Winter, Merry Christmas and I'll see you round the virtual water cooler.   ~cheers~

A to Z Challenge: Dark Prince through The Weird Sisters

Mini Reviews for books I've read for the A to Z Challenge 

Christine Feehan's The Dark Prince is the first book in the Dark series about an ancient race of Carpathians in modern times. Basically vampires who don't kill.  Michael the prince is tired of life and about to step into the sun when Raven, a telepathic hunter of serial killers speaks to him in his mind and makes him want to live.  The characters are very intense and emotional and the writing is along the same lines as how Dracula was written.  There are 22 books in the series. I tried a couple more and gave up. Too over the top for me. I'll stick to her Ghostwalker series. 

Amanda Quick aka Jayne Ann Krentz's Quicksilver is book # 11 in her Arcane Society Series which are set in the past, present and future. This particular story is set in the late Victorian England. Virginia Dean is a glass reader and can see what has happened in the past through whatever glass was in the room at the time.  Owen Sweetwater and  the Arcane Society think her magic is a ruse.  However, it just may come in handy in solving a murder.   

Cherry Adair's Riptide is book two is her Cutter cay series.  Princess Bria Visconti is trying to convince Nick Cutter of Cutter Salvage group to refund the money her bankrupt prince brother invested in a treasure dive.  Little does she know she walking into the middle of a dangerous situation.  Once you start reading, you won't want to put it down. The story is action packed, fast paced and full of twists and turns.  You never quite know who to trust. 
Soulless is Gail Carriger's first book in her Parasol Protectorate series and is my first foray into steampunk.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Set in Victorian London,  the main character Alexia is charming, amusing and gets into all kinds of trouble.  Mix in werewolves, vampires and Victorian high society and morays and it makes one entertaining story. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters was quite an interesting read. The three Andreas Sisters are all adults now and have returned home to help take care of their ill mother.  They all have issues and the story is one of them actually growing up finally, taking responsibility for their lives and making peace with each other.  Relationship stories usually aren't my cup of tea, however the sisters grow on you.  Brown does an excellent job of creating three distinct, yet flawed women who end up balancing each other out.  Well worth the read.  
(and yes, just this once I'm using The for my t book)

Little town with big christmas spirit: - Hallelujah Chorus

Combine a teacher, 5th graders and the small town of Quinhagak, Alaska, the Hallelujah Chorus and see what you get. Guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit.

Row80: Swearing over the goalposts...

I have gotten derailed and may have to move the goal posts.  Sick kid and hubby and cats and Christmas decorating and life have collaborated to derail my writing progress.    Somebody get me a violin.  I haven't made much progress in the past week. I'm sitting at 66,000 and my projected goal for the day is supposed to be 74,000.   I have some work cut out for me.  The past couple days I've sat down to write and it hasn't gone smoothly.  So, today and I know you aren't suppose to do this because it is a rough first draft after all, I went through the entire thing, organized and outlined what scenes I do have to figure out where I was, because it is a mystery after all and what did I do with the dang clues.  I think I have a handle on it now and am ready to proceed forward.    Yaahoo!

Also, I came to a decision about my main character.  She is a prosecuting attorney and since she can't swear in court, I decided she won't swear in the rest of the her life.   It was interesting because I had never really given it much thought before.  An attorney has to be articulate so it stands to reason, right.  They can't be telling the judge the ruling is f'ed up or the defense attorney, well I think that is bs.  Can you imagine? *facepalm*   I decided that in order for her to not to slip up in court, she just wouldn't use those words at all.  It seems to have rubbed off on the rest of the characters as well.  They find themselves catching it and changing a word midstream in order not to swear around her.

I noticed something interesting the other day.   You remember orange county choppers?  We hadn't watched it in a long time.  I just can't stand shows in which folks can't communicate without using the f word in every single sentence.   Hubby got me to watch the American Chopper Live Build off and I have to say I was really proud of Paul Tuttle Jr.   Through the whole show he took the high road and I don't think I heard one swear word come out of his mouth. He refused to say anything negative and I think he deserved to win. I think Senior thought so too and wanted him to win, which is why he came out with such a bizarre design.   Senior and potty mouthed Jessie James couldn't censor themselves for anything and it just goes to show, money doesn't buy you class.  Paul Tuttle Jr exhibited true class and when he started acting like an articulate adult, people started taking him more seriously.  

What do you think.  Is it more effective to have only the bad guys swear? 

That's my insight for the month.  Row80 ends in another week.  However my goal is to finish the first draft by the end of the month, so I have 16 days left.  Going to do my darnest to make it.  Wish me luck.

Check out how everyone else is doing here.

2012 Read 52 books in 52 Weeks

For the fourth year in a row I am hosting the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks reading challenge.  I am having so much fun with this challenge, coming up with weekly posts about books, books and more books.  This past year I've enjoyed exploring different themes and introducing folks to books they never considered reading before.  

The goal is to read one book (at least) a week for 52 weeks. It can either be easy and casual or kick it up by exploring new authors and genres. I enjoy discovering new authors.  There are several mini challenges to make it fun which include: 

12 in 2012: Read 12 books in 12 different categories

A to Z challenge: Read books alphabetically by title and/or author.

Jane Austen: Read all things Jane Austen

Mind Voyages: Explore the hugo and nebula winners, take side trips through the different decades reading the nominees.

Well Educated Mind: Explore the classics in five categories: Fiction, Autobiography, History/Politics, Drama and Poetry.
To sign up and find out more, check out Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

One more: Tea and Books reading Challenge

I found one more reading challenge that is right up my alley.  I have a few heavy tomes sitting on the shelves that I just haven't tackled yet.   I'm joining The Book Garden's Tea and Books reading Challenge.  Here's what it is all about:

This challenge was inspired by C.S. Lewis' famous words, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

You better settle in with a large cup of tea, because in this challenge you will only get to read ... wait for it ... books with more than 700 pages. I'm deadly serious. We all have a few of those tomes on our shelves and somehow the amount of pages often prevents us from finally picking them up. You may choose novels only, no short story collections or anthologies, and in case you're trying a short cut by picking large print editions of a book, well I'm sorry, those do not qualify for this challenge! Let's battle those tomes that have been collecting dust on our shelves, so no re-reads, please!

2 Books - Chamomile Lover

4 Books - Berry Tea Devotee

6 Books - Earl Grey Aficionado

8 or more Books - Sencha Connoisseur
I'm going for the Earl Grey Aficionado since it if my favorite type of tea after all.

Row80 Mid Week Check in: plugging away

 Despite the fact I've had a cold and finally getting over it, I've managed to do another 10,000 words for a total of 60,000 words on my current wip - Blue Steel.  Hubby has been very supportive of my personal nano bootcamp efforts and encouraging me to keep up with my word count.  He's a keeper.  I'm getting a good handle on my characters.   Throwing all kinds of things their way to mess with them and handle.  I did some additional brainstorming and almost gave myself a panic attack thinking this is getting too complicated.  Then I took a deep breath, reminded myself it is a rough draft and to keep plugging away. As long as it isn't stalled and I'm not writing in circles, I'm happy.The story is progressing.  

My goals are simple:  continue 1667 words a day and take off my blinders and visit and comment on 5 blogs a day.  As you can see my internal editor is still on vacation.  Way too many ands.  

How is everyone else fairing with their goals?  

Reading wise

I'm in the midst of finishing the a to z reading challenge. Have completely given up on the books I had planned on reading for Fall reading Challenge.  Don't know why I just didn't plan on the books for a to z.  With 15 days left to go, let's just say I'm revising the list.  *grin*

Also I'm working on the 2012 Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge.  Will be coming up with some new mini challenges within the challenge and revamping the website for the new year. Will be announcing sign ups in the next week or two. 

Happy Reading!   Off to do some Christmas decorating. 

"We all have choices" my mother said.

One of my mother's favorite sayings our whole life has been "We all have choices." My brother recently posted this on facebook at the request of my niece. You never know it's getting through until suddenly they say yes, they were listening. My brother is the eloquent one in the family and says it best: 

"Throughout my life, I've had many mentors - my dad, martial arts instructors, teachers, friends - and learned a lot by making my own big mistakes. And each of these have taught me specific lessons, different details about how to continue to grow and change. But there is one person who taught me one lesson when I was very young. Who has throughout my entire life taught me ONE singular lesson. It's become such a common refrain that it's become sort of a joke among our family. And yet, I have recently come to realize it is THAT lesson which has become the foundation of all my other thoughts and how I've lived my life.

It didn't matter if it was clothing, dating, staying up too late, jobs or food. My mom's philosophy was unwavering: We all have choices. Which I have taken to mean: Know the implications of the options available to you, make a choice, and then accept the consequences. No excuses.

"We all have choices" sounds like a pretty basic idea, right? It's catchy, it would fit well on a bumper sticker or t-shirt. But it has far-reaching implications if you embrace it as a foundation for how to live.

The first implication is that options always exist. There are no if/then statements that are infallible. There is no set of circumstances that can result in one and only one response (we're talking interpersonal stuff here, not math). There are ALWAYS options beyond the ones that seem obvious to us.

One of the most memorable books I've read with this topic was Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Bartelby the Scrivener." One day Barteleby simply decides, "I'd prefer not to." He chooses not to work. When told to leave work, he chooses not to do that. He chooses not to eat. Eventually he dies in prison and starved to death. It's not a comedy. But it makes a good point - even the things we think of as "mandatory" are not. We always have choices, we just may not like the consequences.

Let me restate this again. There is no situation with only one response. We can choose to respond to anger with kindness, to betrayal with forgiveness. We can choose at any moment to eat differently, drink differently, dress differently. We can choose to drive on the wrong side of the road, rob a bank, or quit our jobs. There are always options.

The second implication of "We all have choices" is the reason most people cannot embrace this idea. It is the implication that WE create our lives. Where we are in life right now - our health, our jobs, where we live, our friends, every relationship - is a result of OUR choices.

Oh, I'm not blind to the fact that we are presented with various "stimuli" that create challenges for us or that may seem to bias us in a particular direction. But here's a few thoughts...

We do not control other people, but we do control how we react to them.
We do not control the genetics in our body, but we do control how we treat our bodies.
We do not control the economic status we were born into, but we do control our motivation, drive and work ethic.
We do not control the tragedies that are inflicted upon us, but we do control whether they make us stronger or destroy us.

Let me share a couple of true examples:
There were 3 brothers, born into a family where the men traditionally died of heart failure by 45. 2 of the brothers accepted "fate" and lived normal lives, both dying middle aged. The third brother ate right, exercised regularly and reduced his stress with things like yoga and meditation. He is soon to celebrate his 85th birthday.

There were 5 siblings, born into a low-income family in a bad neighborhood. 2 died before 20 from drug overdoses. 2 were in jail multiple times before ending up in prison for life on various charges. One worked odd jobs to pay his way through college, became a counselor, got married, had a great son and is a joyful positive person who has passed on that gift.

Here's where I seemingly have a big disagreement with a lot of people. I look around us and see that we are trained to be slaves. Through school, society, our upbringing, our churches, television, movies, our political structure, you name it. There is a vested interest for lots of people in controlling us. Whether it's to get our obedience, our money, our vote, our affection, there's hundreds of motivations for other people and institutions to convince us that we are powerless. That only they can tell use what to do or think. To convince us that some stimuli have only one response. Or to convince us we can only choose from within a narrow range of options. In short, that we have little to no choice about anything.

And we buy into it. The iconic 80's band Devo said it perfectly when they sang, "Freedom of Choice is what we've got. Freedom from Choice is what we want.". We find comfort in allowing ourselves to be bound by structures because it absolves us of personal responsibility for our choices (and we give up our freedom for the comfort of being "part of something."). Those structures cross every boundary. The Liberal, the Libertarian, and the Conservative, the Christian, the Pagan and the Atheist all are capable of being mindless slaves to a structure. This is not to say these structures don't have value - it is to say that for too many people, once they choose to identify themselves with one, they then shut off their minds and allow that identification to become all that they are. I don't believe in "my side right or wrong." Everyone is right sometimes and everyone is wrong sometimes.

Where was I? Oh yes, ranting... So, we are raised to give up control - to accept that we have no choices in life. Even if we manage to retain our independent thought from a raft-load of "institutions" who can benefit from our mindless loyalty, we are brought low by the biggest lie of all - that we are not responsible for anything we do.

Instead, we have hundreds of reasons for our actions:
I have ADHD. I'm bi-polar. I was abused. I was ignored. I was an only child. I was abandoned. My parents were divorced. I'm just an angry person. I was raised in a bad neighborhood. I'm an alcoholic. I'm a drug addict. I have a disease. I'm poor. It's the government's fault. The rich people's fault. The poor people's fault. The aliens from Mexico's fault. The aliens from Mars's fault.

Or, "That's just who I am."

And the biggest radioactive-monster mother of all reasons, "That's how I feel."

All of that, by the way... all those reasons... those are crap. Those are not reasons that create behavior, they are excuses we use to rationalize that how we behave is acceptable. Yes, when you are a child in a kept environment your choices are very limited. And yes, we have programming from those experiences that haunt us through our lives. But some people choose to rise out of abuse and hatred, break the cycle and become wonderful people. And some people choose to wallow in their pasts forever.

That entity that enslaves us the MOST; that entity that whispers in our ear that we have no choices, that entity that tries to convince us we are not responsible for our own lives, is not an institution. It lives inside of us. There is no jail more effective than believing you are not free.

Call it whatever you want - the horse, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, the Id - it is basically a collection of memories, experiences, childhood traumas, beliefs, biological programming, chemical reactions, even reactions to foods we eat, that creates an impulse. Those impulses manifest as unconscious thoughts and ideas that drive our behaviors. Most of the time we self-identify these impulse as our "feelings."

Guess what? There is absolutely nothing sacred about these feelings. Somehow, at some point, we bought into this crap that if we "feel" angry, we must act upon it. That saying, "I feel X" excuses any reactions that result from that feeling. People say, "Well, I'm just an ass," or, "I'm just a bitch," as if that excuses their poor behavior and decision-making. It does not.

Feelings excuse nothing. The belief that we have no options is illusory. And the very first choice is choosing to believe that we have choice. Because our programming is so strong, we may have very little choice how we FEEL. But we have tons of options on how we BEHAVE. Including not creating situations that elicit those negative feelings in the first place.

But I digress. Everything else is details. Choosing how we spend time. Choosing our external environment. Choosing our relationships. Self-control. Awareness. These are steps along the path - they are concrete tools to help us take control of our lives. Of living from Conscious thought rather than reaction.

But the first choice is deciding to choose. It is accepting that there are always options. It is accepting that we have the power to create options and make decisions. To be fair, this is a disquieting way to live. Because it means accepting responsibility. Understanding that we each live the life we've chosen. That each person is ultimately responsible for our own success or failure. For our own happiness. Whether we believe in God, Allah, the Goddess, Cthulu or the Great Space Turtle - they have better things to do than spend each day making us happy or miserable. Whether by science or miracle, we are each possessed of life and options. Everything else is up to us.

We all have choices. What will you choose?"

December personal nanowrimo bootcamp

December word count chart
December is designated as my own personal novel writing boot camp.  I am determined to finish the first draft of Blue Steel by the end of the year instead of dragging it out over several months. So I am pushing onward and upward, 1667 words a day.  Made up my own little blackboard for incentive and pressing on.

2011 What's in a Name Challenge Completed

Rah Rah, zisk boom bah!   I completed the What's in a Name 4 challenge hosted by Best Fish Reads. The goal was to read 6 books in the following categories: 

  1. A book with a number in the title: The Fifth Servant - Kenneth Wishnia
  2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title: Red Heart of Jade - Marjorie M Liu
  3. A book with a size in the title: Long Gone - Alafair Burke
  4. A book with travel or movement in the title: Heat Wave - Richard Castle
  5. A book with evil in the title: Secrets of the Demon - Diana Rowland 
  6. A book with a life stage in the title: Wild Man Creek - Robyn Carr
Check out what other folks read here.  Thank you to Candace of Beth Fish Reads for hosting such a fun challenge. Looking forward to the 2012 What's in a Name 5 and figuring out which books to read.