Friday, 10 March 2017

February in Books

After a slow start to my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge, I redeemed myself last month. Here's what I read in February:

Deep Space by Milo James Fowler was a lunchtime read, with seven entertaining science fiction stories. I'm a huge fan of Fowler's Charlie Madison novels, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed by this collection and I wasn't. 

Travellers by Meradeth Houston was my first read for this author. I'm not usually a fan of stories involving time travel; the plot can become confusing if not handled right. No such problem in Travellers. Houston made both the time travel and the world the characters existed in believable from the start. It also brought to the genre a rather unique take on time travel (I won't spoil the fun) and I'd love to read more adventures set in this story world.

Anchor Leg by Jack Croxall was the read of the month for me; the type of book you don't want to put down. What greater recommendation is there than that? Set in deep space, it follows the journey of a young security apprentice and her tough initiation into life aboard a space ship. What I loved about it (and Milo James Fowler does the same in his Charlie Madison novels) is the skillful way the science fiction and mystery genres are combined. This is a must-read for fans of both genres.

Defective by Autumn Kalquist was a bitter-sweet read for me. I discovered the Fractured Era series in 2015, and quickly devoured all the books. Defective, a prequel to the other books in the series, was a long time coming. Whilst the other books were set in space, I knew this one would focus on Earth and thus be a departure from the story so far. While I enjoyed the read, it just didn't grip me like the others. Also, one of my pet hates in literature is excessive use of swear words and this book featured a lot of them. Will it stop me reading future books in this series? Not a chance. It's only one so-so read and I still want to immerse myself in the world Kalquist has created.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber was my book box subscription's February read. Given the choice, this is not a book I would have chosen to read. I'm not a big fan of the fantasy genre, so I struggled with the book at the start. However, I stuck with it and I'm thankful I did. Beautiful, magical prose that left me breathless. Twists and turns that kept me guessing until the final pages. A fantastical mystery that will stay with me long after the final pages.

I ended February with 13% of my 52-reads target completed. Seven down, 45 to go.

What books did you read in February? 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

IWSG: Better Late Than Never (Again)

Founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG's purpose is to share and encourage. A place where writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. 

The awesome co-hosts for this month's post are Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson. Please pop by and thank them.

The 'Better Late Than Never' part of the post title has a double meaning - I forgot about this month's post (apologies for anyone who visited yesterday) and it's never too late to rework an old story. But before I answer this month's question, I need to discuss my current insecurities.

I've been trying to put together a writing master plan to cover the next five years. A sort of road map for my various projects. It's not been going well. Every time I sit down to do it, I scare myself silly with just how much I want to achieve and convince myself that whatever book series I go with first (I have several), it will be the wrong decision. Does anyone else have this problem and then become paralyzed with fear?

I would have stayed paralyzed where it not for my other half. While he does tend to race forward with any idea he has almost immediately, he achieves so much more than I because he just gets on with it one task at a time. This made me realise that while having a plan is a great idea, it isn't as important as getting the day-to-day tasks done and that the plan itself is made up of thousands of smaller, achieveable steps. It's the smaller steps I need to concentrate on to make real progress. The long term plan will write itself.

Now for March's IWSG question:

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Yes. On more than one occasion. I tend to squirrel away any idea I have, including first drafts of stories I decided weren't good enough to progress further. I'm a natural story hoarder. Some of those stories, after major rewrites, ended up in my short story collections. I turned them into stories I loved. I know we've all heard this advice hundreds of times, but never throw anything you write away. Ever

That's it for this month's IWSG post. Does concentrating on smaller steps work for you? Have you reworked an old story and made it work?