2013 Writing Mindfully

Josephine Wall Painting the Dawn
Last year, my year of writing deliberately fell apart and I lost that sense of wonder, sense of joy for writing. I've given it quite a bit of thought to why this was so and decided that 2013 will be the year of Writing Mindfully. I will embrace the ebb and flow of my creativity and let my imagination take flight. I will study and contemplate, write and explore, find the joy in creating and editing, and not limit myself.

My goals for 2013

To help with writing mindfully, I will be using Bonnie Neubauer's The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to liberate your writing to exercise my writing muscles. 

Instead of a daily quota for my novel writing word count, I'm going to follow James Scott Bell's advice and establish a weekly word count of 3500 words. Since I hand write everything, on average I usually end up writing 2 full pages at one sitting which is approximately 1000.   Invariably I only end up writing 4 or 5 days out of the week so having a weekly word count makes much more sense.

Continuing my personal pursuit of  my DYI MFA,I plan on reading and studying the following books:

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christoper Vogler
Character, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell
Echoing Silence:  Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing by Thomas Merton

Along with reading The Writer's Journey, I plan on taking Mythic Structures courses offered online through Writer's Village University  and probably will take the F2K creative writing course again. 

Continue to develop and complete the first draft of Green Cross utilizing K.M. Weiland's suggestions in Outlining Your Novel.

Finish editing and polishing Eye in the Ashes and send out for beta reading.

I'm joining A Round of Words in 80 Days again in order to help me establish daily and weekly goals and have some accountability. However, I can't keep up with a blog check in twice a week so going to bring back WIP Wednesday for all things writing here on My Two Blessings. 

2012 Reading Wrap up

 2012 Reading Wrap up

How many books did you read this year? 129 at this point and half were ebooks.  I successfully completed the A to Z Challenge by title, read 25 new authors for the New Author Challenge and 6 books for Beth Fish Reads What's in a Name.  I only managed to read about 27 physical books in my tbr pile prior to 2012 for the Mount TBR Reading challenge since ebooks didn't count.  For every book I read, I probably added 5 more to my TBR pile. I read 4 chunky books for Tea and Books read a book over 700 pages long challenge. 

Did you meet or beat your own personal goal? I really didn't have a specific goal, just to slow down and enjoy my reads.

Favorite top 5 books of 2012:

Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall.  One of the most unique stories I ever written.
The Rose Labyrinth by Titanie Hardi
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Last Refuge by Ben Coes
By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz

Favorite Series: Urban Fantasy Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk

Favorite Audiobook: J.D Robb’s In Death series. I've been listening to the series all year in the car and sometimes while treadmilling.  I'm up to #31 Indulgence in Death.

Least Favorite Book: Switched by Amanda Hocking. I really didn’t like Wendy, the main character.

One book you thought you'd never read and was pleasantly surprised you like it? Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund.

One book you thought you'd love but didn't? Bram Stoker’s The Snakes Pass. Had been looking forward to reading it a long time but couldn’t get past the writing style.

One book that touched you - made you laugh, cry, sing or dance: A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman.

Any new to you authors discovered and you can't wait to read more of their stories? Dean Koontz, Devon Monk, Jennifer Estep to name a few.

Name the longest book you read? The Passage by Justin Cronin at 784 

Shortest? A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman

Name the most unputdownable book you read? It was a tie between Raw Shark Texts and The Last Refuge by Ben Coes.

Book that had the greatest impact on you this year? James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self Editing.

What book would you recommend everybody read? Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

What are your goals for the new year? What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2013?

Here's my basic reading plan for 2013.  I’m looking forward to reading Hopscotch with Stacia from WTM and whoever else wants to join us. Delving into a few non fiction and inspirational books, plus a bunch of chunky and dusty books. I think the books I’m looking forward to starting the year with are Vanity Fair by William Thackary and a couple non fiction books: Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing and The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 exercises to liberate your writing by Bonnie Neubaue.

2012 Writing Wrap up!

My year of writing deliberately turned in a year of learning more than writing. My left brain was busy learning while my creative right brain took a vacation for a good part of the year.  I did three 4 week workshops plus a critique class through Savvy AuthorsDeep Story, Business of Creative Writing and Editing the Heck Out of Things.   Also completed the F2K Creative Writing Course through Writer's Village University.   I'm more impressed with WVU accomplishing more in 6 weeks than I did through SA. Plus their offering of courses towards a DYI  MFA is awesome, which I plan on taking advantage of.   

The more I learned, the more it led to Joseph Campbell's mythic structure and the Heroes Journey.  Through the course of the year I came across several authors, whether reading their books or online, talking about Campbell's mythic structure.  Some went really deep and complex such as Carol Hughes (I found her quite mythical)  with her 18 act deep story structure and some more loosely 3 act structures such as Alexandra Sokoloff and James Scott Bell.   I read Bell's Revision and Editing and made so many notes could have written a whole book.  I'm in lurve now and how acquired the majority of his writing books. 

I attempted a new story during november's NaNoWriMo but it hadn't finished percolating enough for me to get a handle on the story or the characters.  We are still in the let's get to know you stage.  My son's excited about it though and has been brainstorming, giving me all kinds of ideas for different scenes.  Which brings me back to one of my goals for 2012 to develop a story using K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel.  I started seriously working on Green Cross in October but ran out of time come November and with a half formed complex idea, started writing, but couldn't get my left brain to turn off.  There were too many unsettled questions. So back to the drawing board with more research and outlining. 

For my DYI MFA craft reading, I finished:

Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell -  Excellent 5 star and a must read.
Reading like a Writer by Francine Prose - interesting.
Story Engineering by Larry Books - Couldn't finish it because the meat was buried under way too much gravy.
Writing Begins with the Breath by Laraine Herring - Excellent with many great ideas.
Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Screenwriters by Alexandra Sokoloff  - very good ebook which I wish came in actual book form so could take lots of notes. 

I haven't finished editing Eyes in the Ashes yet.  Too much family stress and drama  in the 2nd half of the year to concentrate on it so set ended up setting it aside.   

It turned into a good year educationally for my writing. I'm going to work on making my writing and learning for 2013 more cohesive.  Plus do a better job of setting daily, weekly and monthly goals, as well as  checking in with my fellow ROWer's and readers.   I'll share my goals for the new year soon.  

What are your writing or reading goals for the new year?

2013 Reading Plan

I know I haven't wrapped up 2012 and still have a couple books to go to complete the A to Z challenge.  However, have been working on 2013 reading plans. 

I am hosting the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge which includes several mini challenges. My goal for 2013 is to read those books that have been on my shelves gathering dust. Also those chunky (over 500 pages) and long forgotten books - ones that have been calling my name for quite a while. Once again, I'll be instituting a buying ban for the first four months of the new year until I've managed to whittle down my TBR pile.

52 Books mini challenge: Dusty and/or Chunky books

I have come up with several categories and I'm going with 12 or more chunky books: Have Mercy Baby and 12 or more dusty books: Croon for me - Bobby Darrin
  1. A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness  (592)
  2. Betrayal - John Lescroat (567)
  3. Black Order - James Rollins (622)
  4. Dr. Zhivago - Boris Pasternak  (519)  
  5. Dragonfly in Amber #2 - Diana Gabaldon  (947)
  6. Hopscotch - Julio Cortazar (564)
  7. Inheritance (#4 Inheritance cycle) - Christopher Paolini (849)
  8. Map of Bones - James Rollins (540)
  9. The Doomsday Key - James Rollins  (539)
  10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (672)
  11. The Invisible Bridge - Julie Orringer  (784)
  12. The Twelve - Justin Cronin (592)
  13. The Vendetta Defense - Lisa Scottoline (518)
  14. Vanity Fair - William Thackeray  (1000)
  15. Voyager - Diana Gabaldon  (1059) 
  16. With No One As Witness - Elizabeth George  (901)
  17. Winter's Tale - Mark Helprin (745)

52 books mini challenge: Inspiration Reading Project
I'm going with the inspiration category of 12 or more books
  1. Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing
  2. Essays - Michel De Montaigne
  3. Jesus of Nazereth: Holy Week - Pope Benedict XVI
  4. Life of Prayer - St Teresa
  5. Memories, Dreams, Reflections - C.G. Jung
  6. Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
  7. Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light
  8. New Seeds of Contemplation - Thomas Merton 
  9. The Apostles - Pope Benedict XVI
  10. The Great Tradition: Classical Readings - Richard Gamble
  11. The Writer's Journey - Christopher Vogler
  12. Three Philosophies of Life - Peter Kreeft 
52 Books mini challenge:  Oh Canada!
Category:  No Time: Read one fiction and/or one non fiction 

2 .

52 Books mini Challenge: Book versus Movie

  1. Chocolat by Joanne harris vs movie - Chocolat
  2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K. Dick vs movie - Blade Runner

What's in a Name

Beth Fish Reads What's in a Name Challenge to be completed between January 1 and December 31, 2013, and read one book in each of the following categories:  Books in italics are those currently in my TBR Pile

  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Fall from Grace, Fall of Ashes or The Man in the High Castle
  2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title:   Night of Long Knive, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: The Maine Event or Vanity Fair
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Where There's Smoke
  5. A book with an emotion in the title: Under the Raging Moon or V is for Vengeance
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: A Discovery of Witche

The Theory of Everything by J.J. Johnson

"Just because everyone else thinks you should be over it doesn't mean you are.

Last year, Sarah's best friend Jamie died in a freak accident. Back then, everyone was sad; now they're just ready for Sarah to get over it and move on.

But Sarah's not ready to move on. She can't stop reliving what happened, struggling with guilt, questioning the meaning of life, and missing her best friend. Her grades are plummeting, her relationships are falling apart, and her normal voice seems to have been replaced with a snark box. Life just seems random: no pattern, no meaning, no rules - and no reason to bother.

In a last-ditch effort to pull it together, Sarah befriends Jamie's twin brother Emmett, who may be the only other person who understands what she's lost. And when she gets a job working for the local eccentric who owns a Christmas tree farm, she finally begins to understand the threads that connect us all, the benefit of giving people a chance, and the power of love."

The Theory of Everything is a young adult novel about dealing with loss and guilt. Sarah feels responsible for the death of her best friend, Jamie and is having difficulties dealing with it, when everyone else things she should just move on with life.  It's a poignant story filled with humor and of course, teenage angst as Sarah deals with her parents, her boyfriend, her new boss and forming new friendships.  

Thank you to Peachtree Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book.

The Last Refuge by Ben Coes

"Off a quiet street in Brooklyn, Israeli Special Forces commander Kohl Meir is captured by operatives of Iranian intelligence, who smuggle Meir back to Tehran, where he’s imprisoned in Iran’s most notorious penitentiary –Evin – then tortured and prepared for a show trial that will likely lead to the firing squad.

Only hours before, Meir had been tipped off that Iran had finally succeeded in building its first nuclear weapon, one they were planning to use to attack Israel. Meir’s source was a high level Iranian government official and his proof was a photo of the bomb itself. Meir was in the U.S. to recruit Dewey Andreas for a secret operation to destroy the Iranian bomb. His capture by Iran put an end to all that.

Dewey Andreas, a former member of Delta, owes his life to Meir and the team of Israeli commandos who saved his life. Now to repay his debt, Dewey must attempt the impossible – rescue Meir from Evin, and find and eliminate Iran’s nuclear bomb before it’s brought to Tel Aviv by boat and detonated.

Unfortunately, Dewey’s first moves catch the attention of Abu Paria, the brutal and brilliant head of VEVAK, Iran’s intelligence service. Dewey must outwit and outfight an opponent with equal cunning, skill and determination, and with the fate of millions hanging in the balance.

With the help of leaked information from high-level officials inside of Iran and dissidents from groups outside the country, Dewey devises a high-risk, high-stakes operation that will allow him to find and hijack the device before it’s too late."

All I could say is wow when I finished reading "The Last Refuge."  There is so much I could say, but I don't want to give away any of the story, it's that good.  Coes story, based off of real world politics and issues, is very powerful and keeps you reading, wondering what is going to happen next and wondering if things that  happened in the story could or have happened in real life.  This is one action packed, gut wrenching, heart pounding, story and you will be hard pressed to put it down.  If you like political intrigue, then you'll definitely like The Last Refuge.  I'm looking forward to reading the first book in Dewey Andreas Series, Power Down.
 Thank you to St. Martin Press for providing me with a copy of the book.

The Bookseller by Mark Pryor

"Who is killing the celebrated bouquinistes of Paris?

Max—an elderly Paris bookstall owner—is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper.

Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance somehow tied to his grim history, or even to the mysterious old books he sold?

On the streets of Paris, tensions are rising as rival drug gangs engage in violent turf wars. Before long, other booksellers start to disappear, their bodies found floating in the Seine. Though the police are not interested in his opinion, Marston is convinced the hostilities have something to do with the murders of these bouquinistes.

Then he himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins."  With Tom by his side, Marston finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the past with the present and leading the two men, quite literally, to the enemy's lair.

Just as the killer intended."

If you are looking for a good thriller, check out The Bookseller, assistant District Attorney Mark Pryor debut novel. Through the story you get an inside look at Paris and how the bouquinistes  ply their trade along the Seine riverMarston, frustrated by the French police disbelief that Max was kidnapped, attempts to get to the bottom of his disappearance.  Throw in a few shady characters, a love interest, enough twists and turns to confuse even the most intrepid investigator and you have one hell of a story.  While reading The Bookseller I could just imagine walking along the streets of Paris. Well worth reading and I'm looking forward to reading the second installment in his Hugo Marston series "The Crypt Thief"  coming out mid 2013. 
 Thank you to Prometheus Book for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book.

ROW 80 Chapbook: Writing with the Breath

I've been writing blog posts, catching up with book reviews and prepping for the 2013 round of 52 Books in 52 weeks.  Also have been more into reading books about writing rather than actually working on my current WIP.  I've been rethinking creating and writing a whole new story when I have a couple in the works already that need major editing.  And I've haven't been writing those 500 words every day and I find myself getting extremely cranky.  And you know what happens when you get cranky, you get negative and with negativity, that leads to doubt about your writing, you as a writer, why are you doing this.  All those wonderful gremlins that like to visit you in the middle of the night. 

Which is where Writing Begins with the Breath comes in - positive light and energy. Part one covers Focusing the Mind, part two covers the Deep Writing Process and part three covers Embracing What and Where you are.    So many parts of this book really spoke to me and wish I could share it all here but I can't, so go read the book. *grin*   She raises some thoughtful ideas how writing is much like yoga or meditation and how it raises ideas, memories, thoughts that are less than comfortable and you either have to work through them or get stuck.  How writing is like a relationship and you pretty much go through the same steps as you do with establishing a friendship, a meaningful relationship with another person.

Chapter 6 - Acceptance (snippets)

"Writing is an art that requires work. A writer's training is ongoing, lifelong learning. If I believe I know everything there is to know, that arrogance translates to the page, and I won't be able to actually reach a place where my work communicates effectively.  If I believe I don't know anything and never will, the same result occurs......When you try to not be a writer, because it is too inconvenient, or you are too frightened, or you feel you are not good enough, you will notice this repression of your authentic self surfacing in other areas.......Treat your writing as an integral part of your life and the ebbs and flows of your relationship with it won't seem as startling or as severe.  Some days you and your friend seem like you're speaking in alternate universes.  Some days you and your writing will seem the same."

Chapter 7 - Relationship (snippets)

"Every writer has a unique relationship to his or her writing, and it is in the dynamics of this relationship that the perils, joys and challenges of a writer's life breathe.....  You either form and maintain and nurture a relationship with your writing, or every time you return to the page, you'll be starting from the beginning - the whole 'what's your sign' level of conversation.....Learning to write strong dialogue without a rooted foundation in your relationship to your work is like expecting your once-a-month scale practice on the piano to be enough to get you on tour with George Winston....Like any relationship, there will be bumps, places where you don't communicate very well, places where you are irritated by everything that occurs.  If you see these times through the lens of relationship, then you'll be less likely to cry 'foul' and quit writing.  There are phases to everything. Embrace what each phase has to teach you, knowing it is impermanent."

Chapter 9 - Process versus Product (snippets)

"If we have attached our personal success or failure to an outcome of publication, we have set ourselves up to be continually looking into the future and judging our present actions against something that is completely out of our control.  In short, we have set ourselves up to suffer....I'm simply suggesting that you write. Write whenever you can. Write when you're too tired to write. Write even when you're convinced you've written the most brilliant thing in the world or when you have nothing to say or too much to say.  And when you're not writing, read.  If you keep up this pattern of writing and reading, publication will be much more easily attained.  You'll have the tools to do the work, and the work will become a way of life for you.  You'll see that publication is as fickle as the weather.  But you'll keep on writing.  That's the constant and that's the space you stand in."

Chapter 16 - Focused Awareness and Imagery (snippets)

"Readers respond to specific language.  Vague or abstract terms can't be seen, so they can't be integrated and remembered. In order for us to write specifically, we need to learn to slow down and move into the scene, rather than gloss over the scene in our hurry to either meet our output goal or to avoid the real work of the scene.  Most of us face a second problem: avoiding the real work of the scene.  Because writing stirs things up, uncovers things, bring us face to face with the unexpected.... We end up uncomfortable, and without the tools to deal with this discomfort, we leave the work, skim over the critical moments of change in the story or stop writing entirely..... Releasing control is frightening....We may fight the writing... Slowing down and focusing your awareness will help you stay in the moment of your writing so that you can follow those unanticipated paths into the forest...Releasing the outcome will release the work."

Chapter 23 - Evolution (snippets)

"The more organically you can imagine the process of creating a piece of writing, the easier it will be for you to release rigid definitions of pre-writing and revision. There is an ebb and flow on both sides, and yes, sometimes one crosses the line into the other.  Be as open to these fluctuations as you are to the sudden departures and arrivals of your characters.  The well fills up when the water is released.  If nothing is released, nothing enters.

The first thing to do is reread your first draft and then put it away.  Holding on to it is going to stifle the next phase.  You've got what you've written inside of you..... You know what part of this early draft is continuing to call to you and pull you in...Put it away and start again, re=seeing, re=visioning, redreaming.  Start where the energy pull is.  Start where there is a nagging question about a character....just start again and write until it's done.  Then, do it again.  And one of these drafts is going to shout at you. "Hey, I'm it!"  You'll know it. And when you hear that with your inner voice, that's the draft you edit."

Chapter 25 - Integration (snippets)

"As artists, we are always growing and learning.  We'll never reach the pinnacle of all we can learn about our art. Each piece comes with its own puzzles and questions....The more tools you, have, the integrated your structure will be....Your right brain gets to flow and leap and get crazy. Then, your left brain comes in and restores order so that others can share in the flow with you.  These two forces that often push against each other need to find a way to live together, and in fact need to find a way to nurture each other, even as they continue to perform their separate functions.....We honor the qualities of both. We recognize how each side contributes to a beautiful whole, and we see that without one of them, we would be unbalanced."

Chapter 26 - Solitude (snippets)

"I believe the writer must also enter the fictive dream, not with the idea of manipulating it to her own ends, but with the presence to stop, stay awhile, and observe and record what happens there....Writer's block doesn't come from having nothing to say. It comes from being afraid to take the next step with our characters, so we create a frozen limbo to hold us up....But it is not a block. It is an unwillingness to surrender to the story."

The Taken by Vicki Pettersson

"Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s a celestial Centurion, assisting the recently, and violently, dead. Yet just because he’s an angel doesn’t mean he’s a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto to the mortal mudflat to collect another soul—Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.

Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let this sable-haired siren with hairpin curves come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to find the truth about his own mysterious death — and wreak some vengeance for the murder of his beloved wife, Evie.

Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Griffin’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, as well as the answer to the greatest mystery of his long afterlife …

Who killed Griffin Shaw?"

Introduced to Vicki Pettersson through her Signs of the Zodiac series, I looked forward to delving into her new book in The Celestial Blues Series, The Taken.  Grif doesn't seem like the angelic type and is a gruff, former p.i. from the 50's.  Once he decides to save Kit instead of let her die, both bad guys and a not so nice heavenly angel are after both of them.  Seems you can't deny fate.  The Taken is a combination paranormal murder mystery and love story which will keep you up reading long into the night.

Thank you to William Morrow, Imprint of Harper Collins publishing for providing me with a copy of the book. 

Blood Line by Lynda La Plante

"Still reeling from the death of her fiance, Detective Anna Travis has thrown herself fully into her new role as the murder squad's Detective Chief Inspector. But when the station's missing person's bureau turns up nothing to help locate the son of a familiar court employee, Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton - Anna's former lover turned sometimes friend - urges her to take on the suspicious case.  

Anna agrees to take charge of the investigation under Langton's watchful eye.  But is it purely a missing persons case-- or a full blown murder inquiry? An ominous pool of blood with no locatable victim leads Anna on a desperate hunt for a man who has disappeared without a trace.  With no body, and increasing pressure to make an arrest, Anna becomes obsessed with the smallest details of the case.  Now, one man has vanished, a killer may be loose on the streets and, as Langton looks on, Anna Travis may be losing control of the case--and herself."

After reading La Plante's Prime Suspect series and thoroughly enjoying them,  I was looking forward to reading Blood Line.  However, the more I read, the less I liked it and the only reason for finishing the story was to find out who the killer really was.  The story was about 200 pages too long with way too much detail even for a police procedural.  You have to slog through the minutia to get to the meat of the story and the ending was less than satisfying.

Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of the book. 

Journeys on the Silk Road

Journey on the Silk Road 

A desert explorer, Buddha's secret library, and the unearthing of the world's oldest printed book

By Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters


"When a Chinese monk broke through a hidden door in 1900, he uncovered one of history's greatest literary secrets: a thousand-year-old time capsule of life along the ancient Silk Road. Inside the chamber on the edge of the Gobi Desert, documents were piled from floor to ceiling. The gem among them was the Diamond Sutra of 868 AD, now recognized as the world's oldest printed book. 

The sutra, a key Buddhist teaching, was made nearly 600 years before printing transformed European civilization. The book's journey — by camel through treacherous deserts, by boat to London's curious scholars, by train to evade the bombs of World War II — merges an explorer's adventures, political intrigue and continued controversy. 

The words of the Diamond Sutra have inspired Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley and the Dalai Lama. Its path from East to West has coincided with the growing appeal of Buddhism in the contemporary world. As the Gutenberg Age cedes to the Google Age, the discovery of the Silk Road's greatest treasure is an epic tale of survival, a literary investigation and an evocation of the traveling power of the book."

I don't accept many offers to read non fiction, but Journeys on the Silk Road fit in with our history studies this year and since I wanted to learn more about the subject was more than happy to accept FSB Associates offer to read and review.  The authors are educational without being snooty and entertaining as they take the reader on a adventure.  They made the history of archeologist Aurel Stein fascinating as they followed his travels through China, Tibet and more

Thank you to Leyane at FSB Associates for providing me with a copy of the book. 

Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

According to Maya legend, December 21, 2012, will mark the end of the world as we know it. Is it myth . . . or will their prediction become reality?
Archaeologist Lina Taylor has devoted her life to studying ancient Maya artifacts, splitting her time between digs in Yucatan and the classroom teaching college students. But the professor’s structured, academic life is about to spin out of control. Some extremely valuable and important Maya artifacts have gone missing. Are the culprits fanatics determined to create chaos and usher in annihilation?

Helping out a friend, former immigration and customs enforcement officer Hunter Johnston is determined to recover the missing pieces and he needs Lina’s help. A man used to calling the shots and working alone, he isn’t comfortable letting anyone get close, especially a beautiful and brainy woman like Lina. His gift for reading people tells him there’s a lot going on below that professional exterior, and he’s more than a little curious to probe her depths.
Burying herself in her work, Lina’s had little experience handling men, especially one as fascinating and exasperating as the secretive, headstrong Hunter. A devoted archaeologist, she has the skill to excavate those protective layers all the way to his core. 

But finding the missing artifacts is only the beginning of a mystery that will plunge these unlikely partners into adventure, romance, and danger more thrilling, sensual, and deadly than either of them knows. . . . 

In Beautiful Sacrifice, Elizabeth Lowell manages to make a history lesson on Maya history and culture fascinating as she blends it with murder and intrigue and the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar.  Hunter needs Lina's help identifying some important artifacts but when they are attacked by a group of men speaking Maya and Spanish who try to kidnap her for the "El Maya", they are on the run. When Lina seeks her family's help, little does she know she is walking right into a spiderweb of family politics and deceit. 

Thank you to William Morrow, imprint of Harper Collins publishing for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book.

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

"Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house he doesn't recognize, unable to remember anything of his life. All he has left are his diary entries recalling Clio, a perfect love who died under mysterious circumstances and a house that may contain the secrets to Eric's prior life.  But there may be more to this story, or it may be a different story altogether.  With the help of allies found on the fringes of society, Eric embarks on an edge of your seat journey to uncover the truth about himself and to escape the predatory forces that threaten to consume him."

The Raw Shark Texts is one of the most imaginative and unique books I have read in a long time and I loved it.  Eric unleashes a ludovician, a conceptual fish that eats memories which is why he doesn't remember.  When he starts receiving letters from himself, he follows the clues and is a lead on a wild journey trying to piece together his memories and find his life, meanwhile never knowing quite who to trust and if he can even trust his former self.  The story is one wild, creative ride and will test the depths of your imagination. 

Sunday Salon: Keeping UPS busy

Happy Sunday. A little more than 2 weeks before Christmas and I haven't even started doing our Christmas shopping yet.   It was warm today and didn't feel much like winter weather as my morning glory are still blooming.  Time to make a list and check it twice and see who has been naughty or nice.  *grin*.  I've been especially nice to myself and went on a book buying spree with the money my parents sent for my birthday.  

I've added an eclectic assortment of fiction and nonfiction books and ebooks to my library this past couple weeks along with the next two books in Stephen King's Dark Tower series # 3 The Waste Lands and #4 Wizard and Glass.  

The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy): A NovelEchoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of WritingThe Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your WritingWinter's TaleThe Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, Book 2)Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers Series)

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The ResurrectionNew Seeds of ContemplationMozart's Last Aria: A Novel (P.S.)The Sorceress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)The Distant HoursChocolat

I'm currently reading The Great Hunt, #2 in the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for writers. 

I really haven't gotten back into a fictional writing mood but James is still going strong and working on yet another story.  I'm rather proud of him.   I have been working on the new mini challenges and posts for 52 Books in 52 weeks and will be posting the sign up link in the next few days. 

Life wise, we are heading out today to pick up our christmas tree and I'm looking forward to watching White Christmas while we decorate the tree.  Today is the 2nd week in advent and we are using What's in the Bible's Everyday Emmanuel.  The sequence we are following is Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  This week is peace and we are supposed to be making a peace ornament for our tree.  Time for a trip to the craft store. 

Have a wonderful week! 

Happy Hanukkah!
In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank.  People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!'  or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'  ~Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping:  A Survivor's Guide"

Sunday Salon: Challenges

Josephine Walls "Ripples"
Happy December!  I had a wonderful birthday and we had a very enjoyable quiet Thanksgiving.  James gave me a couple books and Hubby gave me a new Nook Hd + tablet which is absolutely awesome except for when he and James are borrowing it to play Angry Birds.  LOL!   My folks gave me a nice check which has come in handy for those end of the year books I've been wanting to get my hands on.  I think I have the my eyes are bigger than my stomach syndrome, because there are so many I want when already have a huge teetering pile of books.

Reading wise, I've been looking at all the book challenges, what books I still have in my TBR pile and those still on my wishlist.  So.....   One,  I'm going to institute a buying ban come January 1st which will probably last through April and concentrate on those wonderful books that have been calling my name.  And I'll be limiting the number of challenges.

I am hosting Read 52 books in 52 Weeks again in 2013 and we'll be doing several mini challenges including the Dusty Book Challenge which is just another name for read your own books.  

We'll also be doing a Chunkster challenge which are books that are 500 pages or more.   I'll also continue with the Well Educated Mind and Mind Voyages Sci Fi/Fantasy mini challenges.  There is a Canada Books readalong in the works as well as reading books from other countries.   Plus random mini challenges along the way which I'll borrow shamelessly from on The Novel Challenges blog.

I'm going to make an effort to read more non fiction this next year so in that vein will have doing a non fiction reading project.

Besides that, I have signed up for Beth Fish Reads What's in a Name challenge again. 

Writing wise, Nanowrimo was a complete bust for me. I just wasn't ready and my heart  wasn't in it this year.  However, I do have the beginnings of a good story and will be doing more research and brainstorming, then dive in have my own mini nano in order to get the first draft done.  James however, totally jumped in with both feet, wrote two fan fiction stories and managed to do about 31,000 words.  He was thrilled to get a certificate from the Nano young writer's program and has it taped to his wall.  He took a couple days break and has started yet another story.  I need some of his writing mojo.  Meanwhile, I'm going to devise a  writing contract with myself for 2013 and I expect you all to hold me accountable.  Yes, I'll be continuing with ROW80 next year and will attempt to do a better job with my goals and accountability.

Have a wonderful Sunday and I'll see you round the blogosphere!