new year, new look

One of my goals this year is to get back on track with writing my original fiction.  First up was a new cover for The Art Kids:

artkidscover
Old Cover
The Art Kids cover 2017 update.jpg
New Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it pretty??  Of course this is for the Kindle edition only, because creating a cover for the paperback is a lot more involved, but I’m going to get to that this year.  The new Kindle edition is available on Amazon for $2.99 right now (although there might be a sale coming up *wink*wink*).

I created my new cover on Canva, which is so easy to use.  Another new cover I’ve been working on is for The Thing About the Truth / The Thing About Zombies / My Zombie Girlfriend.  (As you can see, I’ve been having some trouble with the title as well.)  This novel was a Nanowrimo challenge and I had it posted over on figment.com for years.  Recently I decided to give a try over on Wattpad, since it seems like Wattpad is more heavily used and people are actually getting their work published there.  Anyway, I’ve been struggling to determine the audience for this book, and you can see the progression through the cover and title changes:

thethingaboutthetruthcoverkate-spoffordthe-thing-about-zombies-wattpad-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original cover & title: The Nanowrimo challenge was based off the cover of Lauren Barnholdt’s “The Thing About the Truth” so I used that as the base but “zombified” it

Second cover & title: Trying to keep the spirit of the original title, but making a simple bold statement with the cover art.  I had also categorized this story as horror, which despite the zombies, it isn’t…

Current cover & title: Since this story is more of a horror comedy, I felt this title was a better fit.  I also returned to an image similar to the original cover.  I’d love to introduce the cracked surface of cover 2, but Canva has its limits…

So, two new covers!  Up next: redesigns for the Wolf Point series covers, and a cover for the second Wolf Point prequel novella, The Madman, which is nearly completion!  I’m looking at a release date for the end of this month, so stay tuned!

January reading round-up

  • # of books read: 20
  • audiobooks listened to: 5
  • ebooks read: 6
  • nonfiction read: 2
  • ARCs read: 1
  • books from the Experiment in Terror series: 4
  • books from the White Cat series: 3
  • vintage YA: 3
  • total page count: 4,376

I did a ton of reading this month.

In newer releases, I finished up Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital, which was fascinating not quite in the way I had anticipated – I had thought Bellevue was mostly a mental hospital – but still learned a lot about the early days of medicine in America and about the various plagues that swept through New York City.

Freeks, by Amanda Hocking, was an impulse add to my reading list when a stack of new books came up from the library’s tech services and one I had forgotten to put on hold for myself, A List of Cages, was on hold for someone else… The circus/carnival/sideshow theme of course was calling to me.  I like her writing style – it’s easy to read, and fun.  This one took place in the 80’s so there were tons of 80’s references.  I personally think the title is a little cheesy but it fits.

I also read an ARC of Hellworld by Tom Leveen.  This was the kind of post-apocalyptic story I love, where monsters hinted at in ancient religious texts are unleashed – a sci-fi horror thriller.

Another newer book I loved was Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman – it completely deserves the National Book Award!

I blazed through 5 audiobooks.  Three of those were Holly Black’s White Cat series, which were narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, and were short and fun to listen to.  Patient Zero was much longer, and yet I blew through that one as well.  Then I listened to Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick – so, so good.  So quotable.

Three of the books I read this month were “vintage YA.”  The first was The Executioner, a book I thought I remembered reading as a teen back in the 90’s.  Not sure if I actually did… let’s just say the characters weren’t exactly memorable and the mystery didn’t make much sense.  The second, a donation that appeared in my box at the library, was Attitude Problem, which had even bigger plot holes and possibly even flatter characters.  The third was The Woman in the Wall, which was a bit of strange magical realism.  What all of these books made me nostalgic for were the days when you could read a book in a matter of 2-3 hours.

Stealing some reading time at the laundromat #reading #bookstagram #laundry

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I downloaded the rest of the books in the Experiment in Terror series, which I last left off in 2014.  Still just as good two years later.  The premise is two ghosthunters, each with the ability to see ghosts, team up for an internet show.  The sexual tension is insane, and finally I got to the part where Perry and Dex get together!  Naturally, not without Sasquatch, zombies, and plenty of ghosts.  (That’s Into the Hollow, book #6, that I’m reading at the laundromat above).  I also found myself binge-watching “Paranormal Lockdown,” which gave me the Dex & Perry feels.

And finally!  I got to read A List of Cages, which is officially my favorite book this month. Might be my favorite book for the rest of the year, too.  It was so heartbreaking and lovely.  Highly recommended!!

3 on a theme: brotherly (and sisterly) love

I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

I’ve become accustomed to YA books that heavily rely on romance.  So YA books that do not have a romance as the central theme stand out to me, and within the past month and a half, I read three such books, and they all focused on sibling relationships.

collage

Cuckoo Song, which I wrote about in my last 3 on a theme post, focuses on the relationship between two sisters.  Ha – you might have thought it would be the relationship between a brother and a sister, since my last 3 on a theme post was about brothers.  But the actual plot of Cuckoo Song is about Tris, a changeling, who her little sister Pen realizes is not the real Tris.  Fake Tris and Pen’s relationship develops in a positive way, even improving the relationship between Pen and Real Tris.

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics starts out like it’s going to involve romance – Amanda sneaks out of the cabin to be with Henry, and lies to her sister Emily about it.  Amanda also lied to Emily about seeing a demon last winter, so Emily doesn’t really trust her.  But after their family moves to the prairie and Amanda miscarries her baby, Emily pulls through for Amanda.  In the end, it’s all about Amanda and Emily fighting to survive and save their family.

In A List of Cages, which I just finished last night (a book you will be hearing about a lot because I loved it so much), the focus is on two foster brothers.  Julian and Adam are both only children, but Adam’s used to the foster kids his mom brings home, but Julian is different, especially because Adam keeps finding himself in Julian’s life.  While this book has a little bit of a romance between Adam and his girlfriend, the story alternates between Adam and Julian’s voices and is most definitely about their relationship and how it saves Julian’s life.

When I think back to my teen years, I’d have to say that my relationships with my brothers and sister were far more important than any romantic relationship I had.  Really, they knew me best, both because they lived with me and because my friends at school only saw a little part of me, the one I wanted to show them.  With siblings we can usually fight loudly and make up easily, annoy each other to no end yet still be there for each other to play with.  It makes me happy to see that sibling relationships are continuing to be important in YA novels.

 

stealing time to read

I read a lot.  Every year for the last ten years I have read over 100 books. During two of those years, I read over 170 books.  As you can see from the little Goodreads widget on my blog, I’m usually in the middle of reading 3-5 books.

When people say they don’t have time to read, I both can’t understand them and understand completely.  In high school I remember sitting down on my bed every afternoon and reading for hours (this was pre-internet).  I don’t do that anymore, not very often.  This is how I understand when people say they can’t find time to read.  I certainly don’t have hours everyday to just sit and enjoy a book.

Or do I?

Nowadays, most of my reading is done while I’m eating.  I read while I eat breakfast, and while I eat lunch (dinner is usually on the couch watching TV).  But mealtime accounts for about an hour of reading time every day.

Lunch with Simon & Baz #carryon #rainbowrowell #books #reading #simonandbaz

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I also listen to audiobooks during my commute.  That’s a half hour to and from work, so there’s another hour, and sometimes I’ll continue to listen while I do chores around the house, like folding laundry and preparing breakfast or dinner.  Sometimes I’ll also listen while I play games on the computer (generally only when I’m at a good part in the audiobook).

I keep my Nook in the bathroom, so when I’m doing my business I’m often reading then, too, but usually only when I’m reading a book with short chapters – right now it’s Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman.  That accounts for about 15 minutes of reading a day.

Recently, I’ve started reading in bed at night, too, mostly to eliminate the screen brain I have from being on the computer and watching TV in the evenings.  There’s another 20 minutes.

And, I have to admit, occasionally I sneak some reading at work as well (I’m a librarian, though, so I like to think it’s work-related).

All told, without sitting down expressly to read a book, I manage to carve out nearly 3 hours of reading every day.

Top 5 Reads of 2016

The only book I rated 5 stars in 2016 was the last book in the Captive Prince series, Kings Rising, by C.S. Pacat. This is a great series which is as much about the main relationship between two princes as about political intrigue.

Another series that I highly enjoyed in 2016 was the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes.  I had read the first book back in 2014, and on a whim decided to listen to the second book on audio.  The narrator for these audiobooks is fantastic, and I quickly ran through the rest of the series.  I’m eagerly awaiting the day my library gets the audio for the 5th book in the series, which was released this month.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin gave me all the feels, almost as many as Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasglow.  The first is about an intersex teen trying to find his place in the world after the unthinkable happens, and the second is about a cutter trying to make her way alone after being released from rehab.

Finally, I have to include the book that gave me the chills: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich.  As a girl slowly goes insane, she is haunted by creeping trees and a Slender Man-like figure.

Those are my top five!  I read a lot, so there are many, many books I enjoyed this year that were close calls.  Check out my Goodreads profile if you want to see ALL the books I rated as 4 stars – I review every book I read, too, and I’d love to be friends with you and see what you’re reading!

lost again

Damn, I wish my computer files would stop getting lost!

A couple of months ago, I finally took all my old floppy disks, bought an external floppy drive since no computer I have access to has a floppy drive anymore, and converted the files and saved them to my external hard drive.  Finally!  I thought.  I have all my computer files in one place!

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to be releasing The Art Kids with a new cover and I wanted to make some revisions as well, and guess what I couldn’t find?  ANY OF THE FILES OF THE PUBLISHED VERSION OF ART KIDS.  Like, really?  I definitely had at least two files, one formatted for Kindle Select Publishing and one formatted for Createspace.  Do you think I could find either one of them?  Or even the full cover Photoshop file?  Nope.  I have no idea where these things are.  I have checked every flash drive I could find.

I was at the point where I had downloaded the Kindle edition and was prepared to update my most recent draft of Art Kids to match it – and that file was at least 7 years older than the published draft – and then I found in my emails a PDF of the original published file.  I am pretty sure I made a few changes sometime in the past year, and yet… WHERE ARE THE FILES???  It’s even worse that this is the second time this has happened, the first being when I had to re-type the entire manuscript from a print copy I had made before publication.

Looks like my revision/cover update project will take a little longer than I had anticipated.

However, I’m feeling positive that I will be getting some projects done in this next year.  I really love the new cover design for Art Kids, and I’m looking forward to update covers for the Wolf Point series as well.

3 books on a theme: brothers who died in the war

img_3252I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters included among its characters a set of brothers, one of whom is “killed in the war” (the war being World War I).  Stephen’s ghost returns to haunt the narrator and resolve some things that happened between the brothers.

Shortly after reading this one, I read Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge, which took place shortly after the end of World War I, and featured another brother killed in the war.  Sebastian “returns” via letters that are deposited in a desk, and haunts his fiancee as well.

Then I started reading an advanced copy of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, and yet another dead brother showed up.  No World War I this time, as the story takes place in a fantasy universe, but Fox dies in the war, and his sister brings him back from the dead.

Coincidence?  Maybe.  In any case, very strange that three books I read within a month’s time had brothers who died in a war and then returned from the dead.