As a matter of fact, my earliest memory is of reading a children's novel... Before I actually knew how to read. I know this because I distinctly remember telling myself a story about the illustrations in the margins of the novel, without the slightest clue what the real story was! Imagine my surprise when, a few years later, I came back to that same book thinking I had read it before, but finding that I recognized the pictures and not the story! Only then did I realize what happened... And the rest, as they say, is history. I have quite literally been making up stories since I first learned how to talk.
Of course I am also doing NaNoWriMo. This is my fourth year actually participating in the challenge; the first year, 2011, I tracked my word count but did not register; in 2012, I dreamed up an idea for a project that was so simple, I took it for a "test run" at the end of September just to see if it would actually work... And I ended up finishing the thing by the end of October, and this had nothing to do during the actual month of November (oops!); last year was my first year as a full-fledged member, and I liked it so much that I am doing it again!
As a more serious, professional project, I just recently applied the finishing touches on a novella that will be part of a five-tale anthology of "fairy tales with a twist" produced by a Christian sci-fi/fantasy authors' group I am part of, set to be hopefully released Fall 2015. The story I did was a unique twist on the tale of The Little Mermaid. I am only too thrilled to actually be published!
After NaNoWriMo, I will likely return to one of the three novels I had been working on before the anthology novella: one is a fantasy/fairy-tale type story, brand-new and bursting with possibility; the second is a modern adaptation of my favorite Jane Austen novel; and the third is a second time rewriting a high-fantasy novel that started out as my first attempt at writing fanfiction.... Which is something else I write a lot of!
Normally, my blog carries the following regular features:
Works-In-Progress Wednesday— Regular snippets of whatever project I am currently working on.
Throwback Thursdays—Not quite as frequent as WIP Wednesdays, but that is only because what I am writing now far exceeds the quality of what I wrote then! There have been posts about the first story that ever inspired me to write, about various fantasy worlds that I have invented, and I certainly have more planned for the future.
Monthly Reading Lists and regular Featured Reviews—New this year! Starting last fall I got on a huge library kick, and so, beginning in January, I set a goal of reading 100 books this year. At the end of each month, I would review the list of books that I had read that month, and let the blogosphere know what I thought of them. I have averaged about 8 or 9 books per month, and that includes the Featured Review books, which are books not available at the library, produced by independent authors I have become acquainted with through friend connections and via a few writers' groups on Facebook. Those are definitely worth checking out; they have all been fantastic this year!
Coming next year: now that I am employed full-time, I have unfettered access to the very full bookshelf in the staff break room at the school where I work. Most of the books I would not choose to read (the Twilight series, and somebody added the Women's Murder Club mysteries, which I read the first two and did not like!) but I think, as a way for me to branch out and as a fun challenge, I'll be reading every book on that shelf by summer!
My blog also carries some unique (albeit infrequent) "themed" posts:
Hit Lists—I have Top 3/5/10 lists spanning all sorts of visual media, from books to TV shows to movies. Just whenever I feel like making a list of "10 Books You Must Read" or "Top 5 Dame Actresses" I add it under this label.
Sunday Musings—Sometimes a sermon I hear will inspire me with further thoughts, which I will discuss at length in a blog post, about the only sort that I will post on Sundays.
ShowDowns— I had only intended to at first compare BBC's Sherlock with CBS' Elementary, but a couple months ago I was inspired to make this a series, adding a comparison of Grimm vs. Once Upon A Time. With all the shows I watch, there are definitely more coming!
For those who don't know: Serial Saturdays began when I first started the blog. I had a few longer novels I wanted to share, so I posted them but by bit every Saturday. In the summer of last year, I finished the last novel "serial" and could not think of how to continue... So I contacted my followers (I had about 8 at the time) and various writer friends and asked them for a list containing a name, a place, a time, and an object—and the Suggestion Box was born. My challenge was to take the submitted lists and formulate a possible story idea connecting all the items. Last year, I just treated every list as a separate entity and then, when they stopped coming just a week before November, I pooled all the Suggestions into five lists and used that for my NaNo project. This year, since I already had a plan for NaNo, I have been using the list as a continuous story right from the start, and it hasn't fallen apart yet! The story is on hold for the month of November, but it will be returning as I finish it over the month of December!
This is a common question I am pretty sure a lot of writers get, and for me, the answer lies in a quote by author Toni Morrison, which basically says "Write the book you want to read."
I was fortunate enough to grow up with access to all different genres and styles, and I think this has taught me there are not "good genres" and "bad genres"; rather, there is good writing and bad writing. I have encountered books that I regard as very poorly written (as in, so cliched that first, I could not care less about the characters, and second, I can predict the ending by the time the author finishes "setting the stage"; not even so much that, but it's so dry that I have no interest in reading past page 2!), but they are selling at Christian bookstores nationwide because it's the "Christian genre." (Which, honestly, doesn't or shouldn't exist! As it's own separate genre, I mean)
Conversely, I think Christian book enthusiasts are missing out on some fantastic literature because it is not "Christian."
I am a Christian; but I also believe that good literature is good. I know that there are a lot of awful books out there, and I know, from working in public schools, how popular these not-so-great books are. I also know that I have, in the last six months, encountered a lot of fantastic books that I would never have read if I did not believe in good literature.
I think my writing is most affected by what I read. The higher quality of the books I read, the higher quality of my writing—and not just that, but my thinking as well.
My goal as a writer is not to just write fantasy or sci-fi; my goal is to write good literature that will hopefully "phase out" the low-quality stuff. It's why I wanted to reach out to other writers in the CollegePlus community, to hopefully spark a movement of good, high-quality literature that will affect future generations as past literature has affected us.