My Reading Year

Jonathan Wolstenholme 

Well, my goodness.  I just looked at my grand reading plans for 2015 and discovered I only read one of the books in my five categories of Dusty, Chunky, Luke, Translated and Philosophical.  I usually don't plan out what I'm going to read and this is exactly the reason why.  My year took off and I never looked back, too busy with writing and classes and reading whatever books called my name. Yes, I'm a mood reader so don't know why I bothered to make any plans.  Unfortunately, posting on My Two Blessings took a back seat as well which means I didn't keep very good track of what I read when.    

I'm reminded of Robert Burn's poem To the Mouse in which he says  "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

I did end up reading more nonfiction thanks to my writing studies as well as historical books with James.  Which lead to discovering some very interesting creative nonfiction writers and opening up a whole new world.   Writing studies took a front seat this year and finished my writing group's reading of The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing by Alice LePlante.  Also completed

Charles Baxter – The Art of Subtext
Constance Hale -  Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Good Prose
Dinty Moore  -  Rose Press Field Guide to Flash Fiction
Madison Smart Bell – Narrative Design
Peter Turchi – Maps of the Imagination

Statistics wise, I read 110 books and listened to 17 audiobooks out of which 36 are female authors, 15 male authors and 15 new to me authors.  I reread 5 different series including Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels, Anne Bishop's Others, Keri Arthur's Dark Angels,  Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter and Karen Marie Moning's Fever series.   Pretty sure I ended up reading more e-books than physical books because my stacks haven't shrunk at all. In fact, my books had babies and the babies had babies.  I leaned toward more comfort reads with the majority being paranormal, urban fantasy, or military romances with a few suspense novels thrown in for good measure.

Hard to say what my top five favorites are. However I fell in love with Karen Marie Moning this year and read the Fever series twice and listened to all the stories on audiobook as well.  Anne Bishop's Other series comes in a close second with J.R. Ward's Black Daggerbrotherhood series right behind.

An author and book that I'd never thought I'd ever read is Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.  I read Volume 1: Swann's Way this year and liked it enough to continue with Vol 2: In the Shadow of Young Girls in 2016.

The book that made me cry - Dean Kootnz last book in his Odd Thomas series, Saint Odd.  I'll miss Odd.  Also Hampton Sides true life adventure In the Kingdom of Ice. The book that made me laugh  - it's a tie between the men of  Black Dagger Brother hood and M.L. Buchman's fire fighters in his Firehawks series.  The book that was most  touching - Carrie Ann Noble's The Mermaid's Sister. The series that has me spellbound - Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. I finished # 4 Shadow Rising and #5 Fires of Heaven and look forward to reading the next two in the series during 2016

Where did my armchair travels take me this year:  The Arctic ocean and frozen tundra to Russia, Europe, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, China, as well as the United States. It's possible I hit South America at some point, but the visit was very fleeting.  *grin*

Who knows where my travels and reading will take me in 2016. I have all kinds of fun plans in store for my 52 Books in 52 Weeks crew.  Come join us!


Word Hoards: Writing versus Reading

Jonathan Wolstenhome

I'm working on my year end wrap up bookish wise, but thought in the meantime I'd share a flash non fiction piece written while working through Dinty Moore's Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Non Fiction.

Word Hoards

I met a woman who was rather didactic, who lived to learn, who loved to confuse with her rather pedantic soliloquies over the ramifications of a certain tome.  I met another, autodidactic this one, a lover of words who loved to read, who loved to share her thoughts.  Who also lived to learn, but also to teach.  Yet, you weren’t aware you were being taught anything at all.  She did it in such a way that before you knew it, you’d fallen in like with the sort of book you’d never considered reading before.  Reading and learning seem to go hand in  hand.  Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, whether scratching the surface or diving deep into the underbelly.

It made me stop and consider. Am I autodidactic or a bibliophile.  Can one be both well-read and self-taught.  By no means am I one of those intellectuals with snooty nose in the air with the pinky finger pointed upward as I drink my tea. I’m more of a laid back reader and student of words.  Can’t say I’m pedagogic either.  Do I teach or just pass on what I learn, enjoying the journey and as confused as the next person.  Perhaps.  I love to learn. I love to read.  

Reading is as necessary as breathing.  I can’t live without the words and the stories.  It is an escape or should I call it a decampment from the real world.  I get rather crotchety without my books. Writing isn’t as necessary as breathing.  When I first made that connection or disconnection between reading and writing, it was rather worrisome.  Shouldn’t  it feel the same?  Then I realized writing is a choice, a love, a desire.  I don’t need to write, I want to write.  And because I choose it, it gives me freedom.

I probably missed the boat, the yacht, the battleship in completing this lesson.  Word choices – big or small, pedantic versus natural, high falutin versus simple, genuine tell it like it is.  

Writing is like diving  into a rushing river and seeing where it takes you. You can either swim as hard and as fast as you can against the current, fighting it all the way,  or relax and enjoy the journey. And if you miss the boat. Don’t worry. Another one will come along soon.  

Life in the fast lane

This year went incredibly fast.  All my writing and reading goals basically went out the window once I became involved in Writers Village University MFA certificate program.  Bob Hembree, the brain behind WVU, developed an MFA program modeled after university programs.  Along with a one year creative writing, there is now a two year short story cert, and fiction or nonfiction three year certificate. I had completed a few self study courses as well as gotten involved in a group study reading and working through Alice LaPlante's Making of a Short Story. So when he asked for volunteers to help facilitate the classes, I jumped in with both feet.  It's been a remarkable year, learning and writing as well as guiding other writing students through different courses. 

Somehow, the crazy person that I am, volunteered for another year and will be facilitating all the non fiction MFA classes as well as the program's core course, Narrative Design.  *gulp* 

I'm happy to say that as a result of these classes, I've finished a couple short stories, several flash fiction and non fiction flash pieces.  I've also gained more insight into my leading character, Greg, from Eyes in the Ashes. Now I'm contemplating writing a prequel short story for him, the same as I did for Paul and Layla.  Although I have made progress with editing Eyes, the story is still not completely presentable yet. Still need more creative and constructive editing.  

In the midst of my studies, we continue to home school. James is currently in 10th grade and a budding historian as well as fan fiction writer.  His interests lay with World War II and he's now writing alternative historical fiction stories.  He is a passionate, prolific writer and I'm trying to pass on the information I've gleaned from my courses.  By George, I think it's working.

More later, my lovelies!