52 Books: Blossom Bookology Challenge completed

I completed 52 Books Blossom Bookology spelling challenge and squeaked by with a couple with flowers mentioned in the stories as colors or characters.  I forgot to keep track of all the reference mentioned in my reads, but pretty sure there were more than a few mentions of a variety of flowers so I'm calling this challenge completed. 

January - Chrysanthemum

C: Genevieve Cogman - The Masked City (fantasy) 

H: Thor Heyerdahl - Kon Tiki  (NF)

R: Robyn Cadwallader - The Anchoress (historical)

Y: Rick Yancey -  The Infinite Sea (fantasy)

S: Sharon Kay Penman - The Sunne in Splendor (historical)

A: Anna Richland - His Road Home (military romance) 

N: Natalie Goldberg - Writing Down the Bones (NF)

T: Thomas Merton - Thoughts in Solitude (NF) 

H: Mark Helprin - A Soldier of the Great War (WWI historical)

E: Emma Hamm - Silver Blood (Paranormal)

M: Haruki Murakami - Hear the Wind Sing/Pinball (literary)

U: Lisa Unger - Beautiful Lies (Mystery)

M: Haruki Murakami - A Wild Sheep Chase (literary)

February - Rose

R:  J.D. Robb - Dark in Death (Futuristic)

O:  Melissa Olson - Dead Spots (Paranormal)

S:  John Sandford- Secret Prey -  (Detective)

E:  Jennifer Estep - Bitter bite (Paranormal)

March - Clover 

C: Chosen - K.F. Breene (fantasy)

L:  Louise Penny - Glass Houses (mystery)

O: The Overlook - Michael Connolly (crime detective)

V: Carrie Vaughn - Discord's Apple (paranormal)

E: Elizabeth the First Wife - Lian Dolan (Literary fiction)

R: Rachel Caine - Ill Wind (paranormal)

April - Mountain Aven

A:  Atlantis Fallen - C.E.Murphy (Paranormal)

V:  Mud Vein - Tarryn Fisher (Suspense)

E:  Black Echo - Michael Connolly (Mystery) 

N: Nerd's Pocket Pets - D.R. Grady (Romance)

May - Lily 

L: Alan Alda – If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face

I:  Innocence - Dean Koontz (Thriller) 

L: Lake Silence - Anne Bishop  (Paranormal)

Y: I Found You - Lisa Jewell  (Mystery)

June - Tulip

The Golden Tulip - Rosalind Laker

July - Edelweiss

E: Elephant Keepers Daughter - Julia Drosten

D: The Art of Deception - Nora Roberts (Romantic suspense)

E:  Jennifer Estep - Unraveled (Paranormal)

L:  Luke - Barbara Freethy (Romance)

W: Where Dreams are Born - M.L. Buchman (Romance)

E:  Jennifer Estep - Snared (Paranormal)

I:  Ice Hunt - James Rollins (Antarctic, thriller)

S:  Where There's Smoke-Susan May Warren (Romance)

S:  Spymaster's Lady - Joanna Bourne (Regency) 

August - Jasmine

J: James Rollins - Demon Crown 

A: Ash and Quill - Rachel Caine

S: Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch

M: Midnight Curse - Melissa Olson

I: Ink and Bone - Rachel Caine

N: Nora Roberts - Leverage in Death

E: Ellie Weisel - Night 

September- Lotus 

L:  Peter the Latvian - Georges Simenon (Detective)

O:  Nalini Singh -  Ocean Light, #2 Psy/Changling Trinity (e)

T:   Twyla Tharp - The Creative Habit

U:  Unfit - Keri Arthur (Paranormal)

S:  Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts (Suspense)

October - Marigold

Flowers from the Storm - Laura Kinsale: Marigold flower colored wall paper 

or Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch with Marigold gloves 

November - Daisy

The Cozy Tea Shop in the Castle - Caroline Roberts with a character named Daisy

December - Holly 

  Last Chance Christmas Ball - Word Wenches.  The Ball is being given by Lady Holly who is character in every story that makes up the whole book. 

12th Grade! Check!

From this 

First Grade 


High School senior -  class of 2018 

James graduated from high school today. When we began our home school journey, little did we think we'd continue all the way through to the 12th grade.  With the help of Vision in Education,  the home school division of San Juan Unified School District, who held our hands and kept us on track, he earned a 3.97 grade point average and  graduated with honors and a Golden State Seal merit high school diploma.  I am so very proud of him and all he has achieved. 

Book Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

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Synopsis:  "Grace Mae knows madness. She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us."

I just finished A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis. I had a hard time it putting it down once I started reading. McGinnis's writing and characters drew me in  and played upon my emotions. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, liked the characters, but found myself questioning how I feel about it. Does the character's plight make her actions justifiable. How do you root for someone who takes matters into their own hand and goes against the law. But then the law wasn't doing anything for her. Is it madness or justice or revenge. Which is it? Which is why this was a truly great story. It makes you question as well as bleed for the characters.

Thursday Epiphany: Creative changes

Ch ch ch changes!  MyProWriMo is being called on the account of creativity.  Yes, odd.  I haven't had time to post because my brain has been busy - working on the story, writing in my head, talking through ideas with hubby, writing and editing.  I won't feel guilty about not posting everyday because I'm making progress, albeit slow progress.  I feel like we're in the second honeymoon phase. My writing relationship has gone from glowing to comfort and now we've rediscovered each other and can't get enough.  *grin*  

Once I started typing up revised chapter one, it took longer than expected.  Ideas and epiphanies, hubby putting in his two cents worth, more changes until I decided it was time to move forward. I can always go back and do another pass.  Currently on chapter two, going back and forth with the characters and myself about which clues to drop now or hold on for later.  How much detail do I go into. I don't want to dump any backstory, so dribbling it out bit by bit.  How else will anyone know what is going on in the heads of my main characters.  

I can see now why some writers do several passes, looking at dialogue, senses, description, and setting. Each time I reread, more of the picture pops out.  Like painting a picture, going with broad brush strokes, working with light and shadow, putting in the fine details, dabbing bits here and there.  The vision in my head doesn't always match what comes out on paper.  But that isn't a bad thing. 

So posting is going to be a bit sporadic. I'll try to put up something at least once a week. I still have book reviews to do.  I finished A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin which was simply amazing.    I'm enjoying delving into historical fiction more so than detective stories these days.  At least they don't compete with the story in my head.  


News of the Day: Story check in - Perseverance

I spent a bit more time working on Layla's scene and debating between first person present or third person past.  She's basically trapped somewhere so her scenes are scattered throughout the story.  I like first person present but how does that mix when the rest of the scenes are in third person past?   I know I should choose one or the other. Something to ponder for a while.  

I'm also second guessing working linearly on Eyes, instead choosing to work on scenes that haven't been written instead of taking each chapter chronologically until I've worked my way through the whole book.  I'm in the one of those wishy washy modes and worrying I'll get bogged down again after the first few chapters.   No matter what it will get done, as long as I'm working on it every single day.   Perseverance is the key. 

I stumbled upon The Millions  Five Non Fiction Books for Writers to read in an Emergency and much like the author, I found I can't read books about writing while writing or editing.  They make me second guess myself.   I can ignore all that while doing a first draft but when it comes to editing, no way.   I also find myself steering away from mysteries and suspense stories, instead immersing myself in historical fiction and other literary genres.  I've discovered, that even though I'm writing suspense, that paranormals, urban fantasies and mystery books, pull my attention away, totally distracting me from writing.  My brain fills up with their stories, blocking out mine.  Which is probably why I'm eyeballing Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra for when I finish Helprin's Soldier of the Great War.  

I also came across the Shortest Novels Written by 20 Authors You Should've Read by Now and I'm happy to say I've already read Don Delillo, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Haruki Murakami, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkein.  I have Cormac McCarthey's The Road on my shelves.  At some point I'll dive into the rest. Nice to know there are shorter books to read. 

~Cheers to a great weekend~ 

Book Review: Fighting Terrorism by Benjamin Netanyahu

First lines:  Organized crime has plagued all the democracies.  It has attacked business establishments, assaulted judges, corrupted police officials.  But the rise of terrorism in recent decades presents a new form of organized violence directed against democratic societies.  Making their appearance in the late 1960's, terrorist attacks have afflicted virtually each of the Western Countries in an unfailing sequence. 

Synopsis:  In this innovative and concise work, Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu offers a compelling approach to understanding and fighting the increase in domestic and international terrorism throughout the world. Citing diverse examples from around the globe, Netanyahu demonstrates that domestic terrorist groups are usually no match for an advanced technological society which can successfully roll back terror without any significant curtailment of civil liberties. But Netanyahu sees an even more potent threat from the new international terrorism which is increasingly the product of Islamic militants, who draw their inspiration and directives from Iran and its growing cadre of satellite states. The spread of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, coupled with the possibility that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, poses a more frightening threat from an adversary less rational and therefore less controllable than was Soviet Communism. How democracies can defend themselves against this new threat concludes this provocative book

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, first wrote this book in 1995 and updated it in 2001.    He covers the beginnings and backers of terrorists groups, the rise in terrorism over the decades, the question of civil liberties, Gaza, nuclear weapons and lastly, What can be done about terrorism.  James and I spent quite a bit of time discussing the ideas and material as we read and talked about all that has changed in the past 18 years.  Makes for an interesting and educational read and provokes much discussion.  

Book Review: The Boy on the Wooden Box - Leon Leyson

Leon's parents adopted a saying that he used to repeat often when the German's started to take over Poland - "If this is the worst that happens," taking each day one day at a time, dealing with each issue as it came along.  Quietly uttered when faced with losing their freedoms, their jobs, their homes, being forced into the Ghetto, then a work camp.  I chose to read The Boy on the Wooden box with James to give him a look at what life was like for the Polish Jews whose lives were turned upside down by the war.   How they had to scrape and scrounge for food, sharing even the tiniest bit with each other. How they managed to hold onto their humanity in the face of evil.  Leon, his brother, and his father worked for Schindler in his factory so he got to know them and was nice to them when the other Germans treated them badly.  When they were taken away and put into the labor camp, Schindler worked to build his munitions factory as quickly as possible and put them on his list of the workers needed who were necessary because they were already trained. He  managed to save the majority of Leon's family.  The memoir is heart wrenching as well as a tribute to perseverance, life and love during the most horrendous of experiences.    

Synopsis:  Even in the darkest of times—especially in the darkest of times—there is room for strength and bravery. A remarkable memoir from Leon Leyson, one of the youngest children to survive the Holocaust on Oskar Schindler’s list.
Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.
This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s List child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Most notable is the lack of rancor, the lack of venom, and the abundance of dignity in Mr. Leyson’s telling. The Boy on the Wooden Box is a legacy of hope, a memoir unlike anything you’ve ever read. (less)

A to Z Poetry: Choices


Is your cup half empty or is it half full?
Or is it overflowing, due to things you think 
are beyond your control?

You've caged yourself in and given me the key,
granted us the privilege,
giving me your responsibility. 

Don't give me your strength, nor give me your weakness,
then tell me it's my fault and and expect it 
to be accepted with meekness 

Life is full of cups and cages
 of our own making. We all have choices,
My mother would always say, quite sagacious

Take back your key and throw it away.
Build yourself up, not tear yourself down.
 Break out of your cage and rule your own day.

~R.L. McCormack

Sunday Salon: Productive and Creative

Happy Sunday!  I am quite proud of myself although it's only been four days.  I've automatically, without help of the alarm, woken up an hour early every day.   Except for today of course.  I have spent at least 10 minutes daily working on the first scene in Chapter one. I'm ready to type it up and move on to the next scene.  Yesterday I had been thinking that since it had only been four days and the month started midweek, I should give myself extra time and continue to work on that one scene for this week.  However, I'm ready to move on.  Hubby's been quite useful as a sounding board, bouncing ideas off of him.  He's being quite encouraging.  

So the goal for this week is to review and rewrite Scene 2 from Greg's point of view, plus write and schedule posts for this week.  I'm almost caught up with my book reviews, have three more to write and then I'll schedule them for the coming weeks.  

James and I are going out this afternoon for our annual Super Bowl Shopping trip.  It became a tradition when our wonderful neighbor starting putting off an air horn every time his favorite team made a touchdown.  Drives both of us up the wall.  We have fun going to the comic book store, Barnes and Noble, and picking up something for dinner.  My book buying ban is still in force (which a friend quickly reminded me of when she heard about our shopping trip) so I'm going to try and resist temptation.  Maybe I'll pick up a book for Hubby.  *grin*

My 52 Books group is traveling through England for the month of February and this month's flower is Rose.  I shouldn't have too much trouble spelling that one out.  

I'm still reading Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War (dusty and chunky) which is quite interesting and Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase (ebook) and as always, his books are off the wall.   I just finished listening to Faith Hunter's Blood of the Earth from her Soulwood series and will begin Curse on the Land tomorrow during my drive to work.   

It's the beginning of the end of our homeschooling journey.  We are down to the wire as we begin James 2nd Semester of 12th grade. Never imagined we'd end up working through all 12 years.  Hubby, who always swore he wasn't a teacher, now happily embraces his position and is learning just as much as James this year with Geometry and Chemistry.  I'm in charge of the two e's this semester -- English and Economics.   We still have half our budget given to us by Visions to spend, so going to have some fun shopping for biographies, memoirs, poetry, as well as more chemistry materials.  

Off to shop, then plan lessons for the week.  


First Lines: A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin

First lines:  On the ninth of August, 1964, Rome lay asleep in afternoon light as the sun swirled in a blinding pinwheel above its roofs, its low hills, and its gilded domes.  The city was quiet and all was still except the crowns of a few slightly swaying pines, one lost and tentative cloude, and an old man who rushed through the Villa Borghese, alone.  Limping along paths of crushed stone and tapping his cane as he took each step, he raced across intricacies of sunlight and shadow spread before him on the dark garden floor like golden lace. 

January Reading Wrap Up

I've had a great start to my reading year and still working on January's Blossomology challenge spelling out Chrysanthemum and have H A E U and M to complete.  I decided to spell out using author names and have been successful so far.  Thank goodness February's challenge is to spell out Rose.  My reading goals this year are to read more physical books from my shelves, not spend any money on books for the first four months of the year and to read more non fiction. 

I finished twelve books this month including five nonfiction books, three of which were started last year.  James and I read Netanyahu's Fighting Terrorism and Leon Leyson's Boy in the Wooden Box together which took a bit of time. Reviews will be forth coming.   One of my goals is to read at least two non fiction books a month.  I completed Writing Down the Bones and Thoughts in Solitude, plus sailed from Peru to Polynesia with Thor Heyerdahl in Kon-Tiki.  

Started out my 52 books Open Roads adventure in Japan with Haruki Murakami and the first two books in his Rat Trilogy - Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball. I visited 12th century England through The Anchoress and 15th Century England through The Sunne in Splendour.   Explored the fantasy world of Venice with Cogman's The Masked City and the United States during an apocalyptic alien invasion in The Infinite Sea.   I traveled through history with Doucette's The Immortal from the beginning of man to the Roman Empire to the United States.  Then finished off my month with His Road Home, a romantic novella about a soldier disabled in war discovering how to walk, talk and love.  Quite an eclectic mix of stories.  

C: Genevieve Cogman - The Masked City (#2 Invisible Library)
H: Thor Heyerdahl - Kon Tiki  
R: Robyn Cadwallader - The Anchoress (e)
Y: Rick Yancey -  The Infinite Sea 
S: Sharon Kay Penman - The Sunne in Splendor
N: Natalie Goldberg - Writing Down the Bones
T: Thomas Merton - Thoughts in Solitude  (e)
M: Haruki Murakami - Hear the Wind Sing/Pinball 
M - 

The Boy in the Wooden Box -Leon Leyson 
Fighting Terrorism - Benjamin Netanyahu 
Immortal - Gene Doucette (#1 Immortal)(e)
Anna Richland - His Road Home (e)

Another goal is to read more slowly and do a review for each book completed.  I'm slightly behind with reviews on the four books that didn't match up with the flower spelling challenge.  

I'm currently reading Mark Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War (chunky and dusty book) as well as Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase (ebook) which is the 3rd book in the Rat Trilogy.    I'm trying to decide whether to read Leon Uris or Umberto Eco for my U book.  I'm thinking Achebe for the A book. 

I also have ROSE to spell for February and won't be constraining myself to just author names and mixing it up with Author Name or Title of the book.  I received J.D. Robb's newest in her In Death series - Dark in Death which I pre-ordered in December so doesn't go against my buying ban.  So I may be mixing up things a bit because her book is calling my name loudly.  *grin* 

Meanwhile our 52 Books group will be traveling through England for February so I'm pulling a very dusty Sherlockian by Graham Moore off the shelves to read. 

February Intentions: MyProWriMo

Hello February! How do you do.  This is the month I planned on doing MyProWriMo (My Promise to Write Month) and I'm already balking.  "I have too much to do," Miss Busy Butt yells from my left shoulder and while little Miss Sunshine Hope whispers with confidence from my right, "yes we can."   

Organization is the key, plus Lent is coming up so my intention is to spend less time internet browsing and more time writing.  Particularly since I finished outlining Eyes in the Ashes.  I finally came to the realization that I could spend days and months getting ready with more research and more character interviews and this and that, because it's so much fun. However, the goal is to actually rewrite the book and I expect some things will be revealed in the writing that I hadn't thought of during my brainstorming sessions.  And that's part of the fun of writing as well.    So.... 

My intentions for this month:   

WIP:  I have 30 chapters plotted out and plan to work on one chapter a week.  I've been dithering between first person and third person and will see which works best.  All the exercises I've done lately with my main characters have been written in first person which has really flowed well. The first draft was done in third person but I feel like I'm connecting better with the characters in first, so will see how it goes.  I dove in yesterday, rewriting the first scene from first person point of view and it's humming along.  Goal -  complete 4 chapters this month. 

Post every day:   Posting every day will be simple enough as long as I'm organized and spend my afternoon writing time wisely.  I have a tendency to get lost on the internet for a couple hours after James and I are done with lessons.   I don't know about you, but I'll go online to look something up, then the distractions begin.  Before I know it, it is time to make dinner, then James wants to watch something and hubby wants attention and then all I want to do is read for the rest of the evening.  So time management is the key.  My posts will be a mixture of book reviews, chapter notes, A - Z poetry, pictures, flash fiction or nonfiction, life updates and whatever else sparks this month. 

Book Review: The Anchoress - Robyn Cadwallader

First lines: "I was near the door, where woman should stay.  The floor was hard, refusing me, though I lay face down, my arms outstretched, embracing it, wanting this life, this death. I  knew there were people nearby, those from the village who had come to look or pray, but I saw none of them.  Voices in the sanctuary that seemed so far away sang a dirge, a celebration of loss, prayers for me.  I knew the words: I had read and reread them, memorized them, prayed on them, but now they were nothing but sound."

I was intrigued by the story of The Anchoress as I'd never heard of the anchorite life before.  I knew about cloistered nuns as I had visited a cloistered convent when I was a teenager.  We were allowed to talk to them through a screen in which they could only see us from the waist up, a privacy screen raised in case any outside visitor was inappropriately dressed.  They were a giggly group of ladies who enjoyed their simple life of prayer and work inside the convent walls.  It was an interesting experience to say the least.  

Set in medieval times, Sarah is a 17 year old young woman who chooses to become an Anchoress, shutting herself away from the world. She thinks by leaving the outside world, it will help her forget her grief about her sister who died in childbirth and protect her from marrying the local lord's son.  She will spend her day in prayer and deny herself all those things that will come between her and God.  Except that even though she is shut away from the world, the world still revolves around her. She can still hear all the the activities of the village, the people who work in and around the church.  There is a parlor in which those who wish counsel may sit and talk with her through a covered window.  She goes through a myriad of emotions and in the process, figures out her place in the world and what it truly means to be the Anchoress for the community.  It's quite an intriguing story, delving into the culture of a 13th century village and spiritual life. 

Book Review: Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

First lines:  "Once in a while you find yourself in an odd situation.  You get into it by degrees and in the most natural way but, when you are right in the midst of it, you are suddenly astonished and ask yourself how in the world it all came about."

Back cover:  Kon-Tiki is the record of an astonishing adventure -- a journey of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean by raft. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by a mythical hero, Kon-Tiki. He decided to prove his theory by duplicating the legendary voyage.
On April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl and five other adventurers sailed from Peru on a balsa log raft. After three months on the open sea, encountering raging storms, whales, and sharks, they sighted land -- the Polynesian island of Puka Puka.
Translated into sixty-five languages, Kon-Tiki is a classic, inspiring tale of daring and courage -- a magnificent saga of men against the sea.

I've had Kon-Tiki on my shelves for quite a while, relegated it to the bathroom and had been reading it a few pages at a time, until one day it finally captured my attention enough to make it a priority.  The first three chapters of the book goes into detail as he discussed copying Tiki's voyage, decided to really do it, got permission, put together a crew and traveled through a war zone to get the same wood as the legends of Tiki had used to build the raft. 

Once they launched, life got interesting as the men went with the flow of the water and nature. They learned what plants to eat which allowed them to drink sea water and avoid getting sick as well as harvesting plankton in the middle of the ocean.    I was particularly fascinated by all the underwater life in the middle of the sea that on an ordinary motorized ship would have gone unnoticed.  History and nature combined with Thor and the crew's dedication and courage to follow in Tiki's footsteps (or should I say 'wake') made for quite an adventure. 

Book Review: The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

First lines:  "The London air was full of smog and filth. Kai's senses were better than those of a human, though he tried not to be too smug about it.  But even he couldn't see down a dark alley any better than the average Londoner.  And even native Londoners walked carefully in the narrow streets behind King's Cross Station."

Back Cover: The written word is mightier than the sword—most of the time...

Working in an alternate version of Victorian London, Librarian-spy Irene has settled into a routine, collecting important fiction for the mysterious Library and blending in nicely with the local culture. But when her apprentice, Kai—a dragon of royal descent—is kidnapped by the Fae, her carefully crafted undercover operation begins to crumble.

Kai’s abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local Fae leader to travel deep into a version of Venice filled with dark magic, strange coincidences, and a perpetual celebration of Carnival—and save her friend before he becomes the first casualty of a catastrophic war.

But navigating the tumultuous landscape of Fae politics will take more than Irene’s book-smarts and fast-talking—to ward off Armageddon, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear....

The Masked City is the 2nd book in Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library series.  Irene uses all the resources possible from the Library to Silver to the King of Dragons as well as masquerading as a fae teacher's student, using her wit and making up things on the fly, to travel  through a world of chaos, in a race to save Kai.  The story is non stop action with unexpected twists and turns that will make you breathless by the the very end.

Book Review: Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

First lines:  The world is a clock winding down.  I hear it in the wind's icy fingers scratching against the window.  I smell it in the mildewed carpeting and the rotting wallpaper of the old hotel.  And I feel it in Teacup's chest as she sleeps.  The hammering of her heart, the rhythm of her breath, warm in the freezing air, the clock winding down.

Synopsis: How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans?
Rid the humans of their humanity. Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.
Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate. 

The Infinite Sea is the 2nd book in the young adult, apocalyptic series -  5th Wave -  in which aliens are trying to wipe out all humanity on earth.  It picks up right where the first book ended with the kids having escaped Camp Haven,  hiding out in an old hotel.  Ringer is leaving to go in search of other survivors, to find a safe place for all of them.  They are all aware she might not make it back, but are willing to take the risk. From there the story is non stop action, even though some of the characters remain hunkered down in the hotel, fighting psychological as well as physical forces, while Ringer battles for her mind and humanity against Camp Haven's commander, Vosch.   I'm looking forward to reading the third and final book in the series - The Last Star.  

Book Review: The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

First Lines: "Richard did not become frightened until darkness began to settle over the woods.  In the fading light, the trees began to take on unfamiliar and menacing shapes. There was movement in the shadows. Low-hanging branches barred his path; rain-sodden leaved trailed wetly across his cheek."

Back cover:  He was the last-born son of the Duke of York and the last Plantagenet King.  He was Richard III, a complex man living in tumultuous times.  Caught in the vicious power struggle that history has called the War of the Roses, Richard had been raised in the shadow of his charismatic brother Edward.  At nineteen and against all odds, Edward had defeated the House of Lancaster and claimed the English throne for York.  Famous for his sensual appetites and his preference for the expedient over the correct, Edward nonetheless found in his younger brother Richard an unfailing loyal ally.  Richard himself was repaid for his allegiance; he was denied nothing, except the one thing he wanted most in life--the right to wed the woman he adored, Anne Neville. Their love would haunt them both and add to the tragedy of Richard's eventual defeat at the hands of the Tudors.
Sharon Kay Penman has become one of my favorite historical fiction story writers. I was first introduced to her books through her Welsh trilogy with Here Be Dragons.   Her stories are full of depth and richly populated with interesting historical characters.  

The Sunne in Splendour covers the life of Richard III over a 33 year period from when he was seven years old until after his death. From page one she immerses you in the lives of the House of York, as well as Lancaster and Neville.  I enjoyed learning about Richard, his brother Edward's rise to to be King and his relationship with Richard, the War of the Roses, the intrigues as well as betrayals of the time period.  History too often is rewritten with the facts being lost in the process when told from your enemies point of view. Through meticulous research, Penman set out to write a historical fiction novel that would show Richard wasn't the villain the Tudors and Shakespeare made him out to be. At 900+ pages, The Sunne in Splendour is a rich and densely packed story about 15th century England,  family, power, and politics which will capture your attention and hold you there until the very end.  

Book Review: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

I finished Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones which was most entertaining, educational as well as an inspirational read.  Her essays are like meandering down a winding trail with something new around each curve to observe and absorb, with new or common sense ideas to try out different approaches to writing as well as writing in different places and spaces.   

Synopsis:  With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)—even on choosing a restaurant in which to write.  Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives. The advice in her book, provided in short, easy-to-read chapters with titles that reflect the author’s witty approach (“Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” “Man Eats Car,” “Be an Animal”), will inspire anyone who writes—or who longs to.

I'm more of a sporadic writer, writing daily for long periods of time, then maybe not at all for weeks or more.  There is always something percolating in the back of my mind but I don't always feel the need to get it down on paper.  After a while, ideas blend together to form an epiphany that gets me writing again.  I had been doing morning grumbles (morning pages), then started to laugh at myself for dwelling too long on things that I can not change and decided to go back to ignoring what Goldberg calls the monkey mind. 

We all have the mind of a monkey. This analogy, slightly humorous though it may be, is actually quite salient. Consider that we humans have around fifty thousand separate thoughts each day, many of them on the same topic. You might imagine that each thought is a branch, and you, or at least the attention of your conscious mind, is indeed a monkey, swinging from thought-branch to thought-branch all day long. ~ Pocket Mindfulness.

So when I came to the chapter The Goody Two Shoes Nature I realized I had been doing some of my writing out of duty rather than because I wanted to, which of course takes all the joy out of it.  

"Some people hear the rule "Write every day" and do it and don't improve.  They are just being dutiful.  That is the way of the Goody Two-Shoes.  It is a waster of energy because it takes tremendous effort to just follow the rules if your heart isn't in it.  If you find this is your basic attitude, then stop writing.  Stay away from it for a week or a year.  Wait until you are hungry to say something, until there is an aching in you to speak.  Then come back.
Writing can teach us the dignity of speaking the truth, and it spreads out from the page into all of our life, and it should. Otherwise, there is too much of a schism between who we are as writers and how we live our daily lives. That is the challenge: to let writing teach us about life and life about writing.  Let it flow back and forth." pg 168-169 

I was a Goody two shoes in all things growing up.  I thought I had gotten past that but discovered I was bringing that to my writing practice. So I did quit, for quite a long time.  So this spoke to my heart. 

Since I am in the process of rewriting my current WIP, her essay on Rereading and Rewriting is synchronous. I had been trying to decide how to approach it?  Do I edit electronically -  cutting, pasting and adding or do I work from the printed out version, making notes and filling in?   Neither method seemed to be working for me.  OR....do I rewrite scenes all over again on a blank piece of paper, taking what I know about the story?  

Then I read:

See revision as 'envisioning again.'  If there are areas in your work where there is a blur or vagueness, you can simply see the picture again and add the details that will bring your work closer to your mind's picture.  You can sit down and time yourself and add to the original work that second, third or fourth time you wrote on something.  For instance, you are writing about pastrami.  Your first time writing is good, but you know you have more to say about the subject.  Over a day, two days, a week's time, do several more timed writings on pastrami.  Don't worry that you might repeat yourself.  
Reread them all and take the good parts of each one and combine them.  It is like a cut and paste job, where you cut out the strong writing of each timed writing and paste them together.  So even in rewriting you use the method and rules of timed writing.  This helps you to become reengaged in the work you wrote before.  Attempting to reconnect with first thoughts is much better than standing in the middle of your mosquito swarm trying to swat at your discursive thoughts before they suck blood.  It's a much more efficient way to rewrite and it bypasses the ego even in rewriting.
Given that God, the universe, or synchronicity, whatever you want to call it, has in the past few days thrown the idea at me from several avenues -  the prospect of a fresh start, keeping in mind what I've already written -  I think it's time to take that advice. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Writing Down the Bones and highly recommend it.  

Monday Meanders: Weekly intentions - filling in the blanks

Sunday evening and hubby is using everything - including the kitchen sink - to make Margaritas!  *grin*    He dug out the old oster blender and ice crusher and is having a fun time mixing our drinks.  Best he's made yet...Well this time! 

I made great progress this week with outlining my current WIP on poster board and had more than a few epiphanies! I've always been a visual person so don't know why I didn't try this before.  Love seeing each scene and how I can move each one around to make better sense.

I'm far from done  and have written more notes,  found holes in the main arc and subplots and discovered which characters I need to still interview.  Even after two sessions with the storyboard, I can see I need to put in more time ironing out details so this week will continue to work with the story board and adding scenes.  I have made a lot of changes regarding the number of characters, deleting some and including new ones, plus I had too many points of view. I also forgot I had just the basics on my villains and never interviewed them, so will work on their background as well.  I think I'll give myself two more weeks for refreshing myself on story points, discovery and interview process, with the goal of beginning actual rewrites the first week of February.  I know characters will reveal new information and some things will change as we move through the story, so as always I'll remain flexible.  

However, life interrupts with taxes so I'll be working on those this week. I need to run our 2017 numbers and find out if we own more in  taxes than originally planned for, since our next estimated payment is due.  I know I should have done this a while back, but just didn't have the time.  Plus we coming to the end of the 1st semester of 12 grade and you guessed it, grades are due.  Lots of numbers will be floating through my head for the next few days.  

Meanwhile I'm 2/3rd's of the way through Sharon Kay Penman's historical novel,  The Sunne in Splendor.  I really enjoy her writing.  I shelved The Courage to Write because it was too negative for me and happily reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones essays as well as Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day by Katharine Grubb.

I've been quite inspired the past couple weeks and feeling more creative. I now look forward to writing, embracing whatever emotion is raised in the moment rather than burying my head in a book and ignoring life.  

Happy writing!