Books About Writing

The only official reading goal I gave myself for 2019 is to read 1.5 books a week or 78 books this year. Another, more casual, reading goal I gave myself was to read at least one book about writing every month of this year. I love to read about writers and writing more than I like to write myself these days. In 2018 I read 5 books about writing or writers and I was hoping to read more about my favorite subject and catch up on the stack of writing related books sitting on my bookshelf.

The books I’m hoping to read for this project this year are:

  1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
  2. The Writer’s Journey: mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
  3. Writing Fiction Step by Step by Josip Novakovich
  4. No Experience Necessary Writer’s Course by Scott Edelstein
  5. Page after Page: Discover the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing & Keep Writing by Heather Sellers
  6. Why I write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction by Will Blythe
  7. Writing is my Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice by Theo Pauline Nestor
  8. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E B White
  9. Robert’s Rules of Writing by Robert Masello
  10. Wild Minds: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg
  11. Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse by Mary Oliver
  12. Self-Editing Fiction for Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
  13. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
  14. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
  15. Weekly Strategies for Writers by Linda A. Lavid

There are actually 15 books for twelve months, but the last book is a book of weekly tips on writing, editing, publishing, website, and marketing areas of being a writer and I’ll probably just read one set of tips each week throughout the year. I will also either not get to two of these or double up in some months with some of the shorter ones.

Four of these are rereads. Bird by Bird, Zen in the Art of Writing, and Elements of Style I read in college and Writing Fiction Step by Step I read before that so it’s been quite a lot of years. The rest are all new reads for me. I own all of these books. I’m hoping to have a great year reading about writing and hopefully doing some writing of my own too.

What are your favorite books about writing?


NaNoWriMo November 2018 Wrap Up

National Novel Writing Month is an event held every November where people all over the world attempt to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in the 30 days that make up November. This was my 14th year participating and I’m happy to say, my third win. Hooray! I finished my 50,018 word draft on November 29th.

The smallest writing day I had throughout the month was 75 words and the largest word count day 3679 words. I got behind on the overall word goal of 1667 words a day on the 9th and didn’t catch all the way back up until the 28th. It was a month of ups and downs.

I thought about quitting more times than I can count and changed direction on this novel often to keep my interest going. I pushed through though and have a really terrible rough draft of a novel I hate and will never look at again.

So what was the point? Why did I give up the majority of my reading time for 30 days? And  give up the little bit of sleep I get for 30 days? For the winner’s tshirt? For the cheers of my kiddo and hubby and instagram followers?

The truth is I don’t know. It’s a challenge, one I was able to make time for this month with some major sacrifices. So I did it.

I don’t consider it a waste of time even though it was lot of work and I am so displeased with the end result that I considered deleting it outright instead of just leaving it in my Google Docs to be forgotten forever. I didn’t delete it though. Don’t delete anything. You may want or need it someday, for something.

I found out some things about myself and my family this month. First, we are a great team. When something is important to one of us the three of us band together to help accomplish the goal. What that looked like this month was my husband and daughter going to bed an hour early for quiet time and kindle games so I had some quiet time to write. And they did that every day for the whole month. Both of them hate to go to bed so that was kind of a big sacrifice for them. Also high fives from my kiddo and pep talks from the hubby when I wanted to quit.

Second, I don’t want to be a novelist for my career any more. That’s been my on and off dream job since I was old enough to hold a pencil. But the work to reward ratio is just not enough for me at this stage in my life. When things are less crazy and stressful it may work it’s way back to the forefront of my goals list again, but for now I’m happy to be a NaNo Novelist only and largely forget about writing fiction the rest of the year. Though I would like to try and keep my fiction writing practice fresh by writing something every day. I just don’t know that that is realistic for me at this time.

Third, I don’t have enough free time to meander my way through a novel at this point in my life. I need an outline if I’m going to succeed with any sanity left. I have always been a pantser, but I don’t have enough time during this stage of life to figure things out as I go and still succeed on such a tight schedule. An outline in advance would have made the whole process go more smoothly and enjoyably and I might have ended up with something less useless.

Fourth, no words are wasted. I’m chalking this up to another 50,018 words towards my one million practice words. I did end up with one character I had a great time with so I may pull him out of that story and do something fun with him next year for NaNoWriMo.

So not a total waste, but not a total success either. Technically I won and I put in the work and time to do so. And I’m sure I’ll try to do it again next year. I’ll wear my winner’s shirt with pride because even a really bad novel is still a novel. One that I created. Not everyone can say they’ve written three novels, but that’s one thing I can say.

How did your NaNoWriMo novel turn out?

Writers Tag

The creators of this tag are Ari Meghlen and Lorraine Ambers. I found it on Molly’s Little Corner and she said if anyone wished to complete it to go ahead.

Name one novel that inspired you to write.

Just one? I’m not really sure. I’ve been making up stories as long as I’ve been reading. I started both at about three years old. I started really putting effort in to my writing at about age six or so. I filled notebooks with poems and stories. I would probably have to say the Goosebumps books. I was in awe of so many books written by one person. A Goosebumps book was the first brand new book I ever bought with my own money. It was in the first grade. I devoured those books over and over and then tried to make my own stories like them.

What’s your favorite genre to write and read?

My favorite genre to read is probably Science Fiction, but I read very widely.

I mostly write humor with a side of romance.

Do you prefer to write stand-alone or series?

I’ve only ever written stand alones.

Use 3 words to describe yourself.

Anxious. Emotional. Loving.

Reveal your WIP aesthetics or an image that represents your MC or setting.

This is not something I’ve done before and wouldn’t even know where to begin.

How long did your first MS take to draft?

The first novel I wrote to an ending was for NaNoWriMo 2010 so it took 30 days.

Who is your author idol?

Stephen King has always been the author I looked up to the most.

Share a writing memory that made you determined to carry on.

Reading my future husband excerpts from the NaNoWriMo novels I’ve finished and making him laugh until he nearly cried. I write to make myself laugh and when it works for others too that’s amazing!

Tell us something surprising or unique about yourself.

I have a surprisingly high pain tolerance. I spent four full days in labor at home. 36 hours of that was spent trying to push my child out. I ended up in the hospital for a c-section at the beginning of the fifth day. She was almost 10 pounds, perfectly healthy, and amazing. The nurses keep trying to force medication on me, but I was fine and up and walking around, ready to go home the next morning. All I had medication wise the full time was the shot the anesthesiologist gave me before surgery.

Share the hardest part about being a writer and how you overcame it.

Motivation to keep working. I haven’t. I really only end up writing fiction during NaNoWriMo though being a published, paid author has been a dream of mine for two and half decades.

What’s your favorite social media and why? Share your link.

Instagram is probably my favorite right now. I’m super new to it, but taking pictures of books is surprisingly fun for me. I like the level of engagement I could get from day one versus on the blog. I’m @allthingsmommablog

Share some uplifting wisdom in six words or less

We take care of each other.


NaNoWriMo Restart- 8 Days In

I’m writing this on the 8th of November when I’m 11689 words in to my novel. Unfortunately it’s a novel I hate. I hate my characters. I hate the story. I dread sitting down at the end of the night once everything is finally done for the day to try and write 1667 words.

I write just for myself and maybe my husband. I write things that are funny and make me laugh while I’m working. I write ridiculous things like ninjas bursting in to rooms for battle while they’re cutting the wedding cake or a super hero with magic virginity taking abilities (yes I seriously wrote that for nanowrimo 2010).

And I assumed that’s the sort of silliness would follow me in to this novel as well. But it didn’t. I kept worrying that if I jumped in to the action (epic battles with assassins) too soon I would run out of content before I reached my 50,000 words so I kept dealing with the tiny details of my main character’s day. And OMG was I bored.

I was still pushing myself and making my word counts, but I couldn’t wait to reach 1667 each day so I could be done and not just because I was exhausted being up past my bedtime to write.

What was supposed to be a ridiculous story written just to entertain myself turned in to some kind of book I would almost certainly never read. A romantic suspense is the closest description I can come up with.

So while telling my husband I wanted to quit we started talking about why I was writing this novel. Why was I sacrificing sleep and quality time with my kiddo, and time to read? Because I like the challenge and wanted to have fun. I was not having fun.

What could we do to make it fun again? The more I thought about it the more excited I got. Currently where I am in my novel, my female main character has just texted the male main character that someone is trying to break in to her apartment.

It’s about to get ridiculous up in here. A clown with the ability to make my main character burp chocolate bubbles?Or maybe the male main character shows up with the traveling shovel of death to save her?Or a ninja that cartwheels in only to keep going and end up falling from the third story building after smashing through the full length windows across the room? Or maybe Mr Ian Woon, a magician, pulls plot bunnies from his hat faster than I can type?

I don’t know yet, I’ll find out when I get back to typing in another hour when my daughter goes to bed and the house is finally quiet.

For now I’ve turned all except my last sentence white. I’ll continue the story from where I am, but it will take on a whole new direction in a way that would make me set down any book I was reading that did such a thing. I may have two different stories after nano is over. Or I may end up throwing out the whole beginning and going with what comes from today on. Or I still may not look at this novel ever again after I order my winner’s shirt. But at least I’ll have fun writing for another 22 days.

How is your nanowrimo novel going?

NaNoWriMo Tag 2018

I saw this tag on Natalia Leigh’s Youtube channel. She created it herself. She didn’t tag me, but said whoever wanted to answer the questions could. There are nine questions about NaNoWriMo. That stands for National Novel Writing Month and it is an event that takes place in November where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. People all over the world participate.


1. How many times have you participated in NaNoWriMo? How many times have you won?

I have participated in NaNoWriMo, to varying degrees of success every year since 2005 when I was in college and learned about it. I have won only twice in all those years though. I won in 2010 and in 2012.

2. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I am 100% a pantser. Perhaps that’s why I have such a low success rate with my NaNo plans. I can’t get myself to write a story when I have it all plotted out though. I already know the ending and can’t be bothered to care about it any more.

Both times I have won Nano I started at midnight on November 1st with only a title in mind. No characters, no plot, nothing.

3. What are the titles of the projects that you have attempted/completed for past NaNos?

A lost log in at some point over the years means I don’t have the titles for many of my attempted novels. The ones I do have working titles logged for are:

2010: Way too embarrassing to write here

2012: Cloud of Destiny (taken from a random title generator)

2015: In Which a Sorceress, A Failed Magician, and a White Rabbit Save a World (also a random title generator)

2016: Silken Edge (third attempt at a random title generator)

2017: Mom-Venture

4. What are you working on for NaNo this year?

Another randomly generated prompt. It was a picture going around facebook where you took the first letter of your name, the month, and day you were born to craft a title for a YA book. I changed the first word to another of the options, but my working title for my 2018 NaNoWriMo project is Love, Assassins, and Other Things That Nearly Killed Me. And that’s all I know about my project so far. I may try to brainstorm a few ideas or plot points, but then again I may not.

5. What is one tip that you’d give to someone else that is participating in NaNo?

I know it’s hard, but seriously don’t edit what you’ve written until November is over.

6. What was the inspiration for this novel? Do you remember when the inspiration hit you?

Oops. Answered this in question 4.

7. Read us the first sentence from your NaNo novel last year?

I haven’t opened the document since day 1 of NaNoWriMo last year. It took some scrolling in my Google Docs to find it, but I did. I made it 1682 words in to this rough draft and then abandoned it apparently.  So entirely unedited and forgotten, the first line I wrote last year for NaNo was:

Not sure where she was going Marnie packed an overnight bag with four full sets of clothing, an extra sweater, an extra pair of shoes, her kindle full of ebooks, her cell phone, both chargers, her wallet, a journal and a pen.

8. What do you plan to do with your manuscript after NaNo?

If it’s anything like the other two NaNo novels I’ve finished it will sit unopened and unread in my Google Docs forever. My husband has read the rough drafts of my 2010 and 2012 novels, but I have never looked at them. I wonder if enough time has finally passed for me to not be embarrassed by them any more.

9. Are you prepared for NaNo? Are you nervous?

I’m as prepared as I always am, which means probably not enough. I’m not nervous though. I’ve had to let go of a lot of things this year and if I can’t keep up with the writing for NaNo that is just going to have to fall by the wayside again this year. If I write anything this November it will be more fiction than I have written in a while, years probably, and that will be a win for me.


Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this November?

Rory’s Story Cubes

Rory’s Story Cubes are a set of dice that have different pictures on each side of them.


I first learned of Rory’s Story Cubes more years ago than I can really remember. Somewhere between 5 and 8 years. I received a set from my husband for Christmas. Our local grocery store was carrying them. At the time only the original orange set was available.

At another holiday after that, my birthday maybe, or the next Christmas, he got me the blue Actions set and my parents got me the green Voyages set.

Since then I have acquired more over various holidays or shopping sprees of my own. I have 45 individual dice, but hope to own them all at some point.

Currently I have:

Voyages 9 cubes
Actions 9 cubes
Original 9 cubes
Medieval 3 cubes
Mythic 3 cubes
Intergalactic 3 cubes
Clues 3 cubes
Enchanted 3 cubes
Prehistoria 3 cubes

I have sometimes used them as jumping off points for story writing exercises. I will roll a few of the cubes and get something like this


I might write a small warm up paragraph about a boy who falls in love with a girl and gives her a gift that turns out to be some sort of medieval helmet. I wonder how that will go for the potentially budding romance?

Or I might roll all of them and see what jumps out at me to include in a piece I’m working on. I am especially prone to this use during NaNoWriMo.

My 3 year old likes to pick 8 cubes and roll them all. She asks or tells me what is on each one before she starts her story. She likes to start with ‘Once upon a time there was a little boy and a little girl’ and she goes from there incorporating each die as she comes to it.

To carry this activity further for her I write her story down as she tells me and then she gets to read it back to me. She loves it and often asks to play mommy’s story game.

Another way we have played is to choose one die at random and the first person rolls it and begins a story. When they run out of steam the next person chooses a die and continues the same story incorporating the newly rolled picture. And so on.

However we choose to use them on a given day it always brings a fun new adventure for the player, writer, or listener.

What will you write about with the following roll?


July Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

NaNoWriMo is the shortened form of National Novel Writing Month. It is an event that takes place in November each year where writers from all over the world try to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. I’ve participated every year, with varying levels of success, since 2005. I’ve ‘won’ NaNoWriMo twice, in 2010 and 2012.

Camp NaNoWriMo is held in April and July each year and is far more flexible with your goal. I’ve participated, but never succeeded, each time the event was held since May 2011.

For Camp NaNoWriMo your goal can be set in words, hours, minutes, lines, or pages.

I was going to skip even attempting Camp NaNoWriMo this time because life has been so hectic lately. However, during the last day or two of June I decided I would just give it a try anyway.

I thought it would be a fun way to motivate me to keep up with my blog. I post three times a week and was hoping to make it more of a priority again instead getting pushed to the backseat in favor of all the things I’m ‘supposed’ to do.

The goal category that I found to fit the best was pages. I was going to take it easy on myself and try to write 15 posts this month, but decided it wasn’t really a challenge if I didn’t push myself a little. So I was going to set my goal to write 20 pages/posts. The lowest the goal tracker will let you choose for pages though is 30.

So I set out to write 30 blog posts in the month of July. Obviously all of them won’t be posted in July. My Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday posting schedule calls for 13 posts a month usually. So some things that aren’t time sensitive were written and saved for later.

To write 30 blog posts though I would need 30 ideas. I would need to take, crop, and upload any pictures for those 30 posts. I would need to write and edit the text for those 30 posts. It was both easier and harder than I expected. It was a fun boot camp of sorts to help me make my blog a priority in my life again.

I did manage to succeed. Hooray! I won Camp NaNoWriMo!

I finished writing my 30th post on July 28th. I wrote a total of 14,846 words. It was a huge boost to my writing confidence. I haven’t won a NaNoWriMo  of any sort since 2012. Now what? Time to start plotting an actual novel for November I guess. Only 3 months to go!

Did you succeed at your Camp NaNoWriMo goals? Planning to take on the challenge in November?