Monday, March 25, 2024

I Can't Wait to Read… (an open book blog hop post)

Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Is there a book in your TBR pile that you're more excited about than the others? 


My TBR isn't exactly a pile, since I read digitally (ebooks and audiobooks) more than I read on paper these days. 

And, while I do intend to read every book I put in those libraries, I don't have them ranked for urgency for the most part. I'm more of a mood reader, picking my next read based on what I feel like reading at the moment. 

So, I'm excited about all of them, or I wouldn't have purchased them, but which one I'll read in what order is more of a choice in the moment. 

There are exceptions, like book club reads, where I agreed to have read a certain book by a certain date, or review copies from colleagues, where I agreed to read it and provide a review by a certain date, or research reads for something I'm trying to write. 

I just finished The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, a choice for my First Monday Classics book club, which I read as an audiobook/ebook combination and I really enjoyed it, so I immediately bought the sequel, Ripley Underground and plan to read it soon. 

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I've been binging books by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon). In fact, I'm reading The Hollow Places by her right now, as I write this, as an audiobook. I've read several of her darker books and her Paladin romance series as well as her humorous fantasy A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Magic. She write quirky interesting characters, and intermixes a kind heartedness with an appreciation for the weird and creepy and I'm really loving that vibe right now. 

When I find a series or a writer whose work I really enjoy, I tend to just gobble up the whole catalogue until I've read everything I can easily get my eyeballs (or ears) on. 

On my 10th T. Kingfisher this year!

I just bought Lyz Lenz's This American Ex-Wife since I read and enjoy her posts on Substack and that piqued my curiosity about her book, so that will probably float to the top of the pool soon, too. 

A long time writing friend, Nolah Reed just brought out Becoming the Cat, which I read early drafts of back when we shared a critique group, so I'm excited to read that, too.  

But, honestly, I'm excited about them all, and at this point, I'll have to live several hundred years to have time to read them all!

How about you? What are you excited about reading? 

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Monday, March 18, 2024

Writing Seasons, an open book blog hop post


Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Is there a specific time of year when your ideas flow better and you find you're writing more? What do you think contributes to that? 


When I was still teaching for a living, my writing life was very cyclical--in direct opposition to my teaching life. During school holidays, I wrote a lot; the rest of the time I struggled to hold onto enough energy to be able to write even a little. In some ways it was nice to be able to compartmentalize like that and focus more on my writing during the off-seasons for work. 

Now that I have more of a traditional 9 to 5 work schedule, without things like Spring Break, Winter Holiday Break, or summers without classes, I've really had to adjust how I do things. 

On the up-side, the new work is less emotionally and physically exhausting and much more flexible for getting a little time off during business hours from time to time. On the down-side, I don't get long stretches of being temporarily full-time in my writing anymore. 

Now, if we mean something more like Mother Nature's seasons, I get more done on my writing when the weather is unpleasant. If it's raining, or bleak, or too cold and I'm not really all that tempted to go outside, it's easier to hole up in my cozy little office with a cup of tea and my imaginary friends. 

My cozy little office, now with new rug!

The ebb and flow of my writing life currently doesn't seem to be influenced by the calendar or the weather patterns though as much as by how demanding all the other aspects of my life are being at the moment. 

Big deadline at work? 
Kid sick? 
Home project going on? 
Travel happening? 
Someone I love needing extra support?

Any of these things will slow my word count, but no matter what I'm still an every day writer. My chain of writing days is over a decade long now, and I don't go to bed without writing something, even if it's a struggle. 

How about you? Does your creative flow come in seasons? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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Wednesday, March 6, 2024

No AI for me, thanks


Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking. If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG. The awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Kristina Kelly, Miffie Seideman, Jean Davis, and Liza @ Middle Passages!

March 6: Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?


I have not played with AI at all so far, and I don't really have any interest in it. I've got processes in place that are working for me right now. 

For one thing, I've got doubts about the ethical implications and I think I'll wait for all that to settle. 

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For another, I'm tired--I don't feel like learning new systems just now. 

Other writers I know are developing whole new skill sets surrounding prompt writing to get the system to give them something they can use…and, well, I don't want to. At least not right now. 

I don't have the spoons. I have plenty of other things to deal with right now. 

For a third thing, I haven't seen anything yet to convince me that the end product is up to my standards. 

I suppose I could take it as a draft and revise it to my liking, but I could also do that with my own crappy first draft instead of one written by a machine. 

But the most important thing is that I enjoy writing--even the parts I complain about, like synopsis writing. Passing parts of it off just wouldn't bring me the same feelings of accomplishment as doing it myself. 

There are things I take on, at least in part, because they are difficult and not just anyone can do them. One could argue that was some portion of my "why" in teaching. Sure, I had a heart to help, but I also got a bit of a charge out of doing something that many people could not. (Of course, too many years of that = burnout, so there's a balance). 

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If I just glom off the bits I think are hard and ask a machine to do my work for me? That feels like cheating, and if the end result is successful, I get no share in the credit. I wouldn't feel like I owned it anymore.

I want to be proud of myself, to feel like I really accomplished something in my writing life. So that means I'll have to do it myself. No shade meant at those who find that using AI feeds their practice--gets them past blank page paralysis, or whatever else they need. There are ethical ways to use these tools, the same as any others. But it's not for me. 

It's just a line in the sand, which means you can smooth it out with your foot and step over any time you want. But I'm okay on this side of the line for now. How about you?