How many books did you read in 2014

Before I get into this post I have to put it out there…I know it is already less than 10 days until the end of January. Now that is out of the way I had been going over 2014 accomplishments. One of my goals was to read…read…read and read some more. I truly believe that the more you read the better writer you will become. At the end of the year I counted all of the books I read and my count was 72! I know there are people to who would laugh at reading only 72 books in a year, but for me…72 is AWESOME!

What was your 2014 books read count? Do you have a reading goal set for 2015? What are your 2015 goals? Do you think reading has helped improve your writing?

My 2015 goals:

To have my book Published! (every year’s goal until it happens! NEVER give up!)

To read more books than I did in 2014…so 73? ha ha..

To finish my second book

Go to Charleston, SC (setting for my books) and excited to say I am going in the first week of March!

Be a better, more faithful blog writer… LOL I started off semi-strong at the beginning of 2014 but sort of deflated there towards the end

Brushing up on all those fun rules of proper grammar and composition (kinda important for us writers!)

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Interview with the Literary Agent

While visiting the homeland (Colorado) I had the opportunity to meet a LITERARY AGENT. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about my book…it was an interview for a position in the company! Still good news! This would be an amazing opportunity and maybe even would be a foot in the door to getting my book published (perhaps I could “accidently” leave a copy of my manuscript on one of the agent’s desks?). If you haven’t read my post on what happens to me during an interview, I have to tell you, I get TERRIFIED when going to interviews…it’s worse than terrified…it’s like my mind goes blank and I can’t seem to remember a thing!

This was a job I wanted, a position I was fully ready to take and to grow into…prepare for the interview? You bet I did! But as I walked into the shiny office with it’s glittering chandelier and mahogany desks I suddenly felt silly in my fitted dress and floppy shoes. For some reason, the shoes were a huge part of my worries. I had forgotten to bring my black pumps with me and ended up borrowing a pair of flats from my sister. The flats were worn and too big, so big my toes were gripping the soles just to keep them on when I walked. I repeated the line from Ever After, “No one will be looking at your feet” and hoped it was true.

As I waited to be called in, I studied a library filled with books that had been brought to publishing by this company. My heart was racing.

The first part of the interview went well, even with my nerves I maintained control. I pushed my work ethic and passion for literature to cover my lack of experience. I was feeling good. Suddenly I was ushered into the president’s office. W-WHAT? I had no idea he would interview me! The position I applied for was administrative, it didn’t seem big enough to meet the president! As we walked through the offices of the agents, my heart was POUNDING. AAAHHHHH!! The president!

When I entered his office and shook his hand I was shaking…I literally felt petrified in his presence. He introduced me to his wife announcing that I was a writer. It is so good to here a professional refer to you as a writer, let me just say.

He says, “What is the first line of your book?”

I fumble my speech a little and I can feel my cheeks burn ( I HATE that I blush so easily!). “He always hated hospitals,” I say the very first sentence of my book, holding my breath for his response.

He nods and says in his very serious, no nonsense kind of way, “That’s pretty good, actually. The first sentence is so important…there are many times when I have only read the first sentence of a submitted manuscript and rejected it. The first sentence must be good.”

His words gave me hope and taught me so much.

Be sure your first sentence is somehow captivating…and with correct grammar. That first sentence counts…make it good.

Even though I didn’t get the job as an administrative assistant, it was AWESOME being able to share about my book to a literary agent that has lead to the selling of millions of pages of literature.

What is the first sentence of your book?

“Theif of Glory”, raw and real, a book review

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Blogging for Books

theif of glory

Book Review: Thief of Glory
Author: Sigmund Brouwer

I received this book, Thief of Glory, from the Blogging For Books program, in exchange for this review.
Favorite line from Thief of Glory: “A banyan tree begins when its seeds germinate in the crevices of a host tree. It sends to the ground tendrils that become prop roots with enough room for children to crawl beneath, prop roots that grown into thick, woody trunks and make it look like the tree is standing above the ground. The roots, given time, look no different than the tree it has begun to strangle. Eventually, when the original support tree dies and rots, the banyan develops a hollow central core.” –Thief of Glory, pg. 1

The Thief of Glory takes us to the Dutch East Indies in 1942 and into the home and lives of a wealthy Dutch family, the Prins. The story’s hero, the 10 year old marble enthusiast and closet romantic, Jeremiah, finds his world stolen from him as the Japanese invade the East Indies and separate his family. Jeremiah, his Mother, younger brother and twin sisters are thrown into a concentration camp where Jeremiah’s goal, and promise he made to his father, is to take care of his family…and survive. In the book, we see Jeremiah as he is forced into adulthood, falls in love, and sees the darkest sides of the human heart.  Will Jeremiah and his family survive? And if he does, at the end of it all, who will he be?

Thief of Glory was not a book written for the feint of heart. It wasn’t fields of flowers and sunshine. It was written realistically with characters that were real and flawed, like us all.  Ultimately, Thief of Glory is about the choices we must make in life- to do good or evil; to take revenge or to forgive; how far we would go to survive. This book was deep, making its reader think.

A truly good book is about its characters. When you feel what the character feels, when your heart breaks when something bad happens to them, or when you feel happy when the character gets the girl,  the writer has accomplished his goal. When Jeremiah first enters the book, I didn’t like him. I was like, this kid is a total brat! And…a little on the violent side, in a scary way. As I kept reading, the author started to reveal more and more of who Jeremiah was and what his family was like. As I read, I felt like I knew Jeremiah, I felt like he was a real person. He seemed like he was someone I played with in the dirt when I was a little kid. As Jeremiah is forced into an unimaginable and horrible situation,  I saw Jeremiah as a fighter, someone who had courage, someone who would do anything for his family, and someone who was thrust into becoming a parent when all he really wants is for his parent (his Mother) to take action and be the parent, and someone who struggles (like us all) against the darkness lurking in his own heart. I commend Sigmund Brouwer on his characters! At one point in the book I paused and wondered, “Is this a TRUE story?” I swore I had found it in the fiction section! I even had to double check the back of the book to find that little word “Fiction”. By the final chapters of the book I was completely involved in the characters, my heart filling with pain as Jeremiah endured one horror after the next, begging him, “don’t do it! Pleasssseee don’t do it!” As I read those final chapters, I felt almost depressed. When things started looking up, those last few pages, I read in horror. I don’t want to give too much away, but the end I read over twice, just to make sure I read it right. I was shocked and horrified by the ending. For hours after finishing the book, I couldn’t sleep…and I shed a few tears.   I literally felt like shouting, “Jeremiah, NOOOOO!!”. The book was so real, so raw.Yet, for being shocking and horrifying, the Thief of Glory ended in hope, because with God, there is always hope.

Final thoughts: This book was very realistic and very well written, totally making me become involved emotionally. I was glad a book that was filled with so much darkness, offered a rays of sunshine, throughout it. There were moments of true courage and motivating compassion and kindness. And in the end,  it offered hope. I don’t really have any bad comments about Thief of Glory, the writing was superb, the research fantastic, the story moving and tragic all at once. Be warned: this book is hard to read, knowing that this story was inspired from true events, that many things Jeremiah went through actually happened to people. But, I would call it a good read, with a good message.

Work Dreams, gotta love ’em

Have you ever had a “work” related dream? You know the type of sleep where you feel like you are still…at work…all night long and when you wake up you are beat?

I have had these type of dreams many times. Sometimes it is just a dream where I am late to work, like 7 hours late. Other times I am surrounded by infinite piles of paper work that I have to get through before a certain time.

My favorite work dream I ever had, came of course, from the zoo I worked at. During my days at the zoo, I had always prided myself on being able to make PERFECT ice cream cones. I had it down to a science. My cones where huge and perfectly balanced. I could even get that little curl at the top of the ice cream. One day people literally were pouring into the restaurant chanting, “I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” They weren’t really chanting that, but there were A LOT of people who ordered ice cream. I made HUNDREDS of cones that day. At the end of it all I was covered in sticky ice cream goo and I never ever wanted to see another waffle cone in my life. I ended up working a catering event, making my day a whopping 13 hours. When I got home, I desperately needed rest. I showered off and tucked myself into bed, thankful to be able to finally stop moving my aching legs and arms. I fell asleep within a few minutes. I would be refreshed and ready for another day of work in the morning.

However, my night was less than restful. For hours in the night I dreamed I was making ice cream cone after ice cream cone. Chocolate, Vanilla, Twist. Waffle cone. Cake cone. Cup. Would you like a cherry on top? At 3:00 AM I woke up, exhausted and my mouth parched. I walked to the kitchen to quench my thirst and returned to my bedroom (that I shared with my twin sister at the time) and got back into bed. I lay in the pillow trying to empty my mind of all things zoo and ice cream related. Suddenly a voice pierced the relatively silent night (other than the snoring coming from my parents’ room, which was on the other side of the house! My Mom always said my Dad’s snoring sounding like he was sawing down a forest).

It was just a few mumbles at first then out came words that sounded like a foreign language, perhaps from the Amazon jungles. I giggled. It was Andrea, fast asleep across the room in her bed. I always wanted and have tried to successfully have a conversation with someone while they were sleep talking, get them to reveal their secrets. So far I haven’t been successful. This particular night I was too exhausted. I had my own ice cream nightmares to worry about. The mumbling continued. Then, at last I could understand a few words.

“Ch-o-co-mmmmm. MMMMM.” “W-would you like chocolate, v-v-vanilla, or twistssss?” Andrea mumbled, her voice sounded into a groan.

I laughed. Chocolate, vanilla, or twist? Was Andrea being haunted by ice cream dreams too? She had been there at the zoo with me, had experienced the entire ice cream mob.

“Would you like a w-w-w-affle c-co-ne or c-cake coooone?” She continued after a few more moans and sighs.

I was laughing. Poor Andrea! I half expected her to sleep walk over to an imaginary ice cream machine and make an imaginary ice cream cone.

In the morning I asked her casually, “So, how’d you sleep?”

“Uugggg. I felt like I was at work…ALL NIGHT LONG!” She said, groaning.

I told her about how she slept talked and how I too dreamed of ice cream. We laughed together about how both of our nights were haunted by a monster, a Freddy Krueger, called Ice cream.

What has your last work dream been like? Do you sleep talk? What’s the weirdest thing you have said or heard a friend say? 

Jane Austen…random thoughts

I heard a quote yesterday by Jane Austen that I absolutely loved and never heard before. So of course I thought it would only be right if I share it with my fellow bloggers.

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”

-Jane Austen

Jane, I couldn’t agree with you more! I have been feeling the need to find new adventures myself and well…I suppose I should start thinking about leaving my “village”.

All day long, I had Jane Austen on my mind. I’ve been a big fan since I was really little and watched “Pride and Prejudice” the Wishbone version. Did any one else ever watch that show Wishbone with the Jack Russel Terrier? After that I developed an obsession. I have seen almost every version of Pride and Prejudice out there (A & E version is the BEST!), Emma, Sense and Sensibility, etc. I felt like I had a connection with Jane Austen because (before my youngest sister was born) there were 5 girls in my family and no boys. My Mom would even call us the “Bennet” family. Today, as I was reminiscing, while trying not to get hit by the aggressive shoppers pushing carts in Walmart (they are especially vicious in the Walmart closest to my house-if you are in the way you better move fast! Once I wasn’t “hasty” enough for one woman and she rammed me in the heels and then swerved around me without even acknowledging me and my bruising ankle. It felt like a hit and run!) I decided I should see if there were any Austen Era novels available in Walmart’s book section. The only one I found was “Death at Pemberly” or maybe it is “Murder at Pemberly”. I decided to go ahead and buy it, I mean at least it wasn’t those ridiculous zombie books, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (remember those books?…eessh!). I’ve always loved mystery books and obviously I love Pride and Prejudice so maybe this mash-up could be a great thing…we’ll see.

While I’m going on about Pride and Prejudice I actually had a potential book idea pop into my mind. Mary is the boring, dull and forgotten sister. I thought, maybe I should write a book about her? Tell her story.  The Forgotten Sister, The Quiet One.…I can see it now…

What is the most recent book you’ve read?  Is there a “forgotten” character in a book that you would like to write about, share their story? Are you starting a new adventure?

when technology fails

Feeling depressed…just was about done with answering questions, making up questions and nominating for my Sisterhood of the World of Bloggers nomination…and poof! My entire blog post disappeared…everything that I had written. Not even a letter saved in the drafts. GGGGGRRRRRRRRRRR. Computer: I am so disappointed in you! lol. OOO wells…so a “take two” will be in order.