The Awesome and the Less Awesome

There are a few adjustments being made in my life at the moment, and things are still changing and needing to settle down, so I’m deciding to cut down my blogging to one day a week. I know, a little lame, but until I have things more figured out, I want to at least be dependable in the things I’ve said I’ll do.

That said, I’ve been negligent about this blog the past few weeks, and I’m so sorry. Here’s a little list of what’s been going on in my life, both the Awesome and the Less Awesome.

Awesome: I’ve started the first “normal” job I’ve ever had in my life. I say “normal” because I’ve been working since high school, just about, but it’s always been in unusual conditions. Single-employee office jobs, online gigs, selling crafts and what have you. I’ve just never had what you might call a normal paycheck, and I’m enjoying the idea of a little bit of stability in my life.

Less Awesome: This does, of course, cut down on my time to write, which is why sacrifices must be made. I know I’ve been rearranging blog schedules as is, but cutting down on blog time is essential in this. This way I can focus on quality, not quantity, and on getting my WIP all finished for my goal at the end of June.

Awesome: The other day I broke 70K, writing over 4600 words in one day. Less time = more focus!

Less Awesome: I’m really worried that my bad guy is one-dimensional.

Awesome: This weekend is the LDS Storymakers Conference here in Utah. A fabu writers’ conference that a lot of my writerly friends will be attending!

Less Awesome: I can’t go. 😦

Awesome: I will be able to meet up with a bunch of those same friends on Friday night at the Authors Incognito Mix & Mingle that goes along with the writers’ conference!

So that’s what’s up in my neck of the woods.

Oh, and one more Awesome: I’m giving away a ten-page critique at the Dojo! Enter the Rafflecopter here!

Now a word from you… what are you reading this week? How are you liking it?

In which I explain my OCD reading habits.

A Real Conversation with my Husband

Me: Sigh. You can only have 15 holds at the library at once.

Him: Heavy sigh.

Me: Can I put 15 holds on your—

Him: NO.

Backstory: According to Goodreads, I’m currently in the middle of eleven books. This includes one book of poetry, four books that are being held captive by the library and holds system, and five that I own. (Was very recently six, plus another library book, but I finished those.)

Anyhow… I was wanting to start Tiger’s Curse, because he bought it for me for Valentine’s Day (along with Sapphique, the sequel to Incarceron, which I loved so much I was tempted to buy Sapphique from the UK Amazon) (Yes, I know I’m lucky.) Then I made the mistake of explaining to him why I fall into the trap of reading more than one book at a time—generally either because one is slow but fascinating, I’ve misplaced the book, or yes, it needs to go back to the library and I haven’t finished it.

I then made the further mistake of explaining to him HOW I read multiple books at one time. Basically, I line whichever books I have up by order of date that I started them (This obviously does not include books taken back to the library unfinished. It does, however, include books that are misplaced.), and then I pick one book as the “A” book, or the Alpha book, I guess. What I mean by this, is that I pick a book that I can read straight through if I wish to, then whenever I want to turn to something else, there’s a set rotation I have to follow. The Alpha book is either a book that I’m particularly hooked to, or a book that I’m bribing myself through, because it’s interesting, but other books are far more interesting. After the Alpha book has been assigned, I read through the books in order, one chapter at a time. If the Alpha book isn’t super great, or great-but-not-insanely-greater-than-the-other-books, my reading pattern is decided for me. With letters assigned to titles for ease of explanation, it reads a bit like a complicated poetry scheme:

ABACADAEABACADAE, etc.

I have siderules, also. Of course. Because I’m just that crazy.

#1) Once a book is in Alpha position, it must stay there until it is completed. (For exceptions, see Rule #5)

#2) If there is no Alpha position, chapters read ABCDEABCDE, etc. (Yes, I know there’s still an A there, but now it’s just another letter.)

#3) In most cases* a book cannot be added unless another book is finished.

#4) No book can be moved to the Alpha position on its first round.  This means if I’m in the middle of a round when I start a new book, I must finish that round and read through another full round before the new book can be given the Alpha position. Except:

#5) Library books are automatically given Alpha position. This means that any book that was acting as Alpha now goes back into line. This is the only time an Alpha book can be taken away from its Alpha position without being finished. When the library book is finished, assuming the other book is not, it moves back into Alpha position.

#6) (This is a new one) These rules apply only to physical copies of books.

#6a) I am allowed to have ONE of each: 1) an audio book for when I’m doing stuff with my hands but my mind is free 2) a book on my phone to read when I have no other books available to me, and 3) an ebook on my computer.

#6b) I can use the same book for all three devices if I choose, but cannot read a secondary book on any of the devices, even if all three are the same.

*This rule excludes library books and long-time favorite authors’ new books.

Understandably, my husband demanded that I put a stop to the insanity. He withheld Tiger’s Curse from me until I at least get down to 3 books (physical… he agrees with me on the techie side of things, yay!) but I think I’ll let myself get down to two, and read two at once… that’s usually my goal, one Alpha, and one to string along… I don’t know.

Anybody else out there read in completely obsessive-compulsive ways?

Book Review: Zerah’s Chosen by Isabelle Santiago

I managed to finish my first book of the year just about 45 minutes before February started. I was determined to have finished at least one book in January, so I spent as much time as I could today reading, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My first book for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge (which at this point is already looking very questionable!) was Zerah’s Chosen by my good friend, Isabelle Santiago. It’s an ebook from Drollerie Press. I’m very lucky in that I’ve seen this story from very early stages, and I’ve had the privilege of fangirling about the characters directly with the author, but this was my first chance to sit and read through the book from beginning to end, and it was a definite treat.

Zerah is a rustic world, a world of common men, fishers, and prophets, ruled by Beings both mysterious and fearful. This story isn’t about common men or fishers or prophets, though. Every generation, six people are branded by the Beings and made Guardians over the elements—Water and Fire, Earth and Air, Life and Death. Those born with the brand are sent to the temple to train, to learn how to control the power they have over their elements in order to maintain the balance that makes up life.

The story begins with a woman who has been brought to trial. She has borne a child branded as a Guardian, but instead of sending him to the temple, she has hidden him away, kept him to herself. He is, after all, her child. Kieran has been marked for Death, though, and his power is too much for him to conquer on his own. When he is finally found, his mother hands him over without argument. She knows her time with her son is over. The elders sentence her to life in a solitary cell, fair payment for treason.

Kieran then is thrust into a life he neither wants nor understands. Most of the other Guardians—one is still missing—fear and dislike him. Only Amaya, the Guardian of Water and an empath to boot, accepts him without question from the beginning. Over the years Kieran begins to find his place among his fellow Guardians, and even learns to feel that the temple is his home, but he cannot forget what the “righteous” elders have done to his mother. More than that, he can’t forget to love the way that she taught him to. Guardians are supposed to live without tie, without emotion. Without love. A passionate person to begin with, Kieran simply cannot live under the conditions set for him, and the story comes to a head as Kieran and Amaya’s friendship turns into something much more—something the Code of the Guardians forbids.

Zerah’s Chosen is the first in what is to be a trilogy. The world-building is rich and absolutely superb—you know the minute you set foot into the story that this is a society that existed before you started reading. The characters are also fantastic. The story is mostly told from Amaya and Kieran’s POV’s, but all five Guardians we get to know are so fantastically diverse from each other that every time one of the other three are in the scene it’s a delight.

My personal favorite (as Isabelle well knows) is Phoenix, the Guardian of Fire, who has his own unrequited love for Amaya—something which I know is brought much more in to play in the second novel of the Guardian Circle Series, Zerah’s Offering, which isn’t quite available just yet, but I’ll let you know when it is. I’m lucky to have an advance copy, which I’ll be starting my read-through of… Oh, about now.

Reactive Reading

My husband has started reading the first Fablehaven novel by Brandon Mull, which is one of my favorite series, ever. Probably my very favorite kid-lit series (I’m not counting Harry Potter here, he’s in a realm of his own). Fantasy like you’ve always wanted it—scary at the right times, but always uplifting and full of awesome heroics. (Not half so emotionally dark as something like The Spiderwick Chronicles, either).

Anyhow, back to my husband. Now, I read pretty intently. You sit me down with a good book and I’m glued to it. I don’t want any interruptions if the book is really good. When something shocks or worries me, I probably gasp or widen my eyes, possibly clench the book closer to me, but really I’m still all alone in my little world—or rather, I’ve forgotten myself entirely, because I’m so deep in the world I’m reading about. And I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t want anybody near me when I read. When I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I shut myself up in my room for three days, only coming out when it was absolutely necessary.

My husband on the other hand, has sat next to me while doing most of his reading (I’ve been reading too, but mine is a mix of business and pleasure), and he reacts vocally to what he reads. He’s gotten incredibly frustrated with one of the characters—Seth, if you’ve read the books—and has vented that frustration loudly to me. I’ve read all but the last book (I really hate for it to end, so I’ve been prolonging it. That, and I was getting married, so I was a little busy) so I love Seth, despite his rash ways that always lead him into trouble. I tried pointing out that he didn’t know what he was doing in a lot of the scenes that irritated my husband so much, but he would have none of it.

I honestly love it. I think his reactions are great, and I really should have expected nothing less, as my husband’s personality could never quite be mistaken for quiet, like mine. Anybody else seen someone read so reactively?  Do you, by chance?

P.S. I’m really excited to watch as he reads the rest of the series. The Fablehaven books just get more and more awesome as they go, and his reading them makes me want to reread them. And okay, finally finish the series.

P.P.S. The Jayne icon is the closest I could find to relay the obvious reactions my hubby’s been having, but on a sidenote, I’ve gotten him watching Firefly, too. We’re about half-way through the series now. The hooks are in. He’s caught.