My 2018 Goodreads Reading Goal was set at 20 books. I have to this point read 23 books and I am *hoping* to read another 2 before the ball drops on January 1st.
I have started to think about what I want to set my reading goal for 2019. As a working mother, reading can be a super difficult thing to carve out time for. I found myself sneaking in pages during bath time, after bedtimes, and during breaks at work. That equaled about 23-25 books for me in 2018.
Granted, I did not prioritize reading over certain other areas of my life, like Netflix binging and social media which can seriously eat up huge amounts of your free time without realizing.
My greatest obstacle ended up not being a mother of a toddler or a full-time academic librarian, but rather a general disregard and disrespect for reading over non-soul fulfilling activities.
With all that in mind, I am hoping to increase my reading goal for 2019 from 20 books to 30 books coupled with a New Year’s Resolution to watch less TV and spend less time on social media and my smartphone.
My specific reading goals include reading more microhistories which are non-fiction books which focus on a very specific historical topic like Salt: A World History.
This is in connection with my writing goals for 2019, which include completing all drafts of my WIP, Changeling, which I have written about and shared pieces of frequently here in the past, get through the second draft of another WIP, Foxface, which was my 2018 National Novel Writing Month project, and write the first draft of at least two more story ideas I have been incubating the past year, an adult literary fiction novel titled The Gospel of Eve and a YA Fantasy tentatively titled Daring based on the myth of Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
I also want to read more writing reference type books, obviously to compliment my writing goals. I have many in my TBR pile I have stocked up on over the last year so I really want to get through all of those.
That list will undoubtedly grow as I buy/check out other writing references through the year. My favorite writing reference author is James Scott Bell and I have read at least two of his other references in the past year, he has many more, which I will probably add to this list soon.
I think, and this is certainly not an independent thought, that setting goals and intentions is the best way to ensure you achieve those goals. These are concrete titles, numbers, and deadlines. There is accountability in that and that is so important for adult-type learners (Hello, twenty-nine, I see you creeping up on me).
What are your reading/writing goals for 2019?
Do you prefer to set goals/resolutions each year or do you set non-traditional time frames (two years, six months)? Do you set time-frames at all?
This book, Girl, Wash Your Face, brought me to tears so many times.
I have been absent from this blog for a bit. The reason for that is I felt burnt out and discouraged when I didn’t get the feedback I wanted from my past blog posts. I had also taken a step back from writing my novel (draft two) for the same reasons. I recognize that that is not productive or conducive to establishing a career as a writer. If I want to pursue that path I need to push through.
Rachel Hollis was an integral part of that motivation during this period.
Hollis writes her truth and is unashamed of doing so. I love that. Sure, I could not relate to everything she spoke about or the way she approached certain topics but she openly acknowledged that her truth may not resonate with everyone. She offered her stories anyway, knowing she might experience pushback or complaints of alienation. This book is not about prioritizing her beliefs above others but offering her perspective so others experiencing similar things can take what they want and apply it to their own lives.
Hollis delivers several instances of advice that hit so close to home to what I was (and am) struggling with. There are other personal things she hit on that I struggle with but the most impactful impressions were those relating to my professional goals. As a working mother, I felt like the advice she gave meant so much more. Had anyone else delivered these specific messages, I may have ignored it, scoffed even. How could someone who didn’t understand the pressures of my life tell me how to accomplish anything in my limited free time?
Hollis shares so many experiences with me as a working mother. She struggles with guilt for choosing to spend any time away from her children, she’s a small-town girl who grew up in a conservative environment. She’s a wife. I could connect with her and believe that the advice she gave was meant in earnest. Not only that but if she could accomplish all she has maybe I can do it too.
The biggest takeaway from Hollis’ book was the idea of giving myself permission to pursue my dream. Permission to fail, to rise, to face criticism and keep going anyway. Trying to do anything big, working towards a goal, these are scary and uncomfortable things. Its always going to be easier to not pursue them. But you are giving up the potential for so much happiness and fulfillment. Hollis demonstrated how that bravery paid off in her life. She gives me hope. I feel this atmosphere of support in her narration and in the community she has created online.
Rachel Hollis runs The Chic Site, a lifestyle type website where she shares recipes, fashion inspiration, travel blogs, and general advice for women. The site combines her experience as a mother, wife, and Boss so make sure to check that out and get to know this fantastic author.
I have been so unmotivated this month, Y’all. Not feeling blogging or writing in general, work has been hectic and my brain is constantly exhausted. But here are my TBR Additions: May 2018 titles.
Novel research can be a daunting task if you are not the type who gravitates to research, study or spending hours on minute details. Unfortunately for those types but fortunate for people like myself, research is critical to writing. Whether research for you means learning about specific types of military vehicles or the ranks of nobility in 14th century Europe, you are (probably) going to have to look something up along the way.
As you begin writing the first draft of your novel you may find yourself questioning the minutiae of setting, plot, character, etc. You can start your research here, or may even have already conducted extensive research before writing a single word if you are a good planner. If you’re a pantser, you may find yourself glossing over specific details to avoid the research until the first draft is complete.
While putting off research is okay sometimes, you may want to take the time to ensure the story you’re crafting makes sense. You may create a plot based on an inaccurate detail that completely derails your second draft, basically meaning your novel needs rewriting. Where the particulars contribute substantially to your plot, even if you are not a planner you need to conduct some research to corroborate these details. If you take the time now to insert accurate details, you will save yourself time and frustration later. Researching while writing the first draft can also be an excellent trigger for writer’s block!
So, you want to start researching a detail in your story. Where do you start? Google is the most obvious place for most people to begin searching. My day job is a Reference Librarian and Information Literacy Instructor at a community college academic library. That means I spend all day telling students not to Google their research. Our students have access to expensive research databases which allows them to prioritize their research origins. If you are not a student, or you struggle with research, you have a few other options that aren’t Google.
Yes. I am a librarian advocating for you to visit libraries. Conflict of interest? Maybe. Public libraries are excellent research hubs for the beginning writer AND the seasoned writer. Why pay for books, databases, or magazines when you can get them for free? Many public libraries purchase the same database subscriptions that colleges have. They also accept recommendations for resources so if the library doesn’t have something if you ask they may get it. The public library is filled with people who are there to help you.
Wikipedia is not exactly a reputable site. There is a degree of accountability in the structure of writing and editing. You create a free account and correct inaccuracies. During my Freshman Year Experience class, we experimented by deliberately changing a Wikipedia article to make it inaccurate. We charted how long the false information remained unchanged. My material remained incorrect for weeks. That was a lot of views during this time that fake details were portrayed as trustworthy. However, users cite outside resources at the end of Wikipedia articles. This section is a gold mine of research opportunities. Explore these links and exercise critical thinking in determining if that source is accurate itself.
Check the site type (.com, .gov, .edu., .org, etc.). Look at the date the site was last updated. See if the site has an about page and read about the authors and their intent.
You may think researching to this degree is overkill for fiction but if you encounter a reader who is an actual expert you run the risk of alienating them.
There are a plethora of digital resources available online. Images, ebooks, videos, and audio (radio broadcasts, etc.). The New York Public Library is one example of a collection of publicly available digital items that can be used for research. The Library of Congress is another primary source. One of the big inspirations for my novel was The Hammer of Witches. The full text is available online and provided me with a lot of information about witch hunting practices and how they were persecuted. Many older books can be accessed for free in full online through various reputable sites like Project Gutenberg. Aside from LOC, NYPL, and Project Gutenberg, there are less scholarly, artistic platforms like DeviantArt and Pinterest. Content on these sites is added by online users. These are more useful for inspiration though Pinterest can be helpful for storing your research in an easy to view and access platform.
In addition to these resources, there are online forums. Online forums should always be approached with caution. The community determines the usefulness of the information you can find in forums. Writing sites with forums like NaNoWriMo and Writer’s Digest are helpful. Subreddits for writers can also be useful. You can post for advice on conducting research, search for beta readers who can help you catch inaccuracies, or search for perspectives that are similar to your characters to garner a more honest representation. Your peers can be a valuable resource if they approach your inquiries with the right intentions.
Once you have completed your first draft, you still have some research to do. If you didn’t check the details central to your plot, mark your first draft up noting where more information is needed. Verify details, even small ones. The tiniest inconsistency can propel the reader out of your story.
However, these are my specific research questions. Wherever you explore something you are not sure of, check the detail.
I recommend printing the first draft and either highlighting or using a pen to mark everywhere you need to insert research or check the facts.
With every read through, a second draft, third draft, etc. you will be looking at where you can improve/strengthen your manuscript. You cannot be overconfident. You need to doubt yourself and check, double check, triple check your story.
What makes female characters literary heroines? For me, these are females who instilled in me a sense of power in my gender. These women, most of whom are positioned in times of absolute masculine authority, defy conventions. They set out to achieve their heart’s desires in spite of everything thrown at them.
I can’t remember when I learned to read, but I know it was very early. I have been enamored with reading my entire conscious life. My favorite books feature strong female main characters. So, narrowing down my top five favorite literary heroines was a challenge. I could switch these out so many others like Anne Shirley, Feyre Archeron, Elizabeth Bennett, Offred, Annabeth Chase, I could go on and on…
But here, in no particular order exactly, are my top five favorite literary heroines. Also included are the books they are featured in and the writers who gave them life (dominant females in their own right).
Jo March was my childhood hero. She was independent, stubborn, but loveable, and a writer. In fact, it was my introduction to Jo March that inspired me to want to be a professional author and to start writing my own stories. I loved the way she dreamed and then pursued her dreams, rejecting the social constructs of her time. Little Women was a book I reread over ten times throughout my life. I bought multiple editions of it, though my favorite is an old copy my aunt gave me before she passed away.
Laura Ingalls Wilder tells the story of her childhood growing up on a homestead. She tells stories of traveling west, meeting colorful characters, meeting her husband, and eventually becoming a teacher and starting a family. Of course, Wilder took some artistic license with her memories for entertainment value but her heroine, Laura Ingalls, still makes the list. She was mouthy and adventurous though she eventually settled down as was expected of a woman of her time. The impressive part of her story is the transition of her portrayal in her semi-biographical books to her real-life role as a famous, beloved children’s author. I can remember doing all of my book reports in elementary school over her, and it was a series I reread many times.
I don’t think anyone my age or younger wouldn’t have Hermoine Granger on their list of favorite literary heroines. There are many reasons for that, the first being that Hermoine is not the main character of the series, but she is smarter and more talented than the main character. Right to the end. The Brightest Witch of Our Time. Hermoine’s friendship with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley starts off rocky. They do not take to her as quickly as they do to each other, treating her like an annoyance. But Hermoine proves to be an invaluable resource, as a friend, schoolmate, partner-in-crime, and finally a spouse. Hermoine owns her power, doesn’t try to dumb herself down or dim her shine and I think that was so needed for girls, in the 90s and today.
Claire Fraiser is a recent favorite of mine. I started listening to the Outlander series on audiobook a little over a year ago. Claire is a former WWII nurse, so right off the bat we know she has been through something incredible. But the story opens at the close of the War, Claire and her husband are attempting a second honeymoon. They are trying to reconnect after eight years apart; he was a soldier. She is ripped from her world and thrown in 18th-century Scotland where she meets and is subsequently married to Jamie Fraiser. Claire falls in love with him, and when an opportunity presents itself to return to her own time, she stays. She wholly owns herself and is confident in her intelligence and sensuality.
Despite the latest terrible movie adaptation of one of my favorite novels of all time, Jane Eyre is a complicated woman to keep down. An orphan for much of her life, she had to learn quickly that to survive she had to take matters into her own hands. That is what she does when she travels to Thornfield Hall and encounters the mysterious and intimidating Mr. Rochester. She then proceeds to marry him (with some stuff in between). Again, here is a woman born in a time when they were more likely to be sold off in marriage. Jane Eyre overcomes her environment, her position as a poor orphan and a governess, and achieves her heart’s desire.
Check out my other book related posts!