NaNoWriMo Day 15

The Words: 3859 words total for the day.

I took advantage of a quiet, lazy Sunday afternoon to do several word sprints with @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. I almost stopped at 3200 words, which was enough for the day anyway, but decided to push it for one more sprint.

The Story: Things are not looking good for the prisoner, who has been locked up for a few months now. Now he’s questioning his sanity and the benevolence of someone he met in prison.

This storyline is almost done–I’m guessing I’ll finish it tomorrow or Tuesday, at the latest. Today is the halfway point of the month, but I’m sure I’m more than halfway through the story, since the last 2 storylines will be closer to the length of this one (which is just under 12,000 words right now) than the first storyline (which ended with 30,000 words). So it may be time to cap my word counts at a lower number from now on.

Total word count: 43,070

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 15, 2010!

NaNoWriMo Day 14

The Words: 1989 words total for the day.

Though today was Saturday, I wrote less than normal. One of the reasons for this was because my daughter wasn’t pushing for us to do sprints as much as she has been lately (she started about a week late, so maybe she’s hitting the week-2 blues now). We did a couple this afternoon and then stopped so I could get some other things done. We never got back to it together.

After she went to bed, I was approaching my own bedtime, since I have to get up really early tomorrow, but I only had 900 words. So I did a couple of short sprints to at least be above normal par for the day and am calling it a night.

The Story: A bit of time has passed for the prisoner (weeks, maybe months, I’m not sure myself, because I’m not paying attention to my timeline as I write) and he’s just about had enough of this place. He’s not so sure about the wisdom of talking to the person in the adjoining cell anymore either. And in today’s words, he had a few unnerving conversations with the antagonist (of the whole book, not just this storyline).

Total word count: 39,211

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 14, 2010!

NaNoWriMo Day 13

The Words: 3514 words total for the day.

I didn’t have a chance to write until after supper, but
fortunately, my daughter was ready to write then too. We did 2 15-minute sprints and a 5-minute, then got her ready for bed. Then we did 2 more 15-minute sprints with the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter feed.

The Story: In another perfect example of how terrible I am at estimating word counts in advance of writing, I was really thrown off today. Yesterday, I finished storyline 1 (of 4) for this book, and it came out to a total of 30k words. I knew I’d be slimming it down a decent amount in revision, but still, I’d expected about 18k per storyline for the other three.

Today I started writing in storyline, which I already had written 2500 words of back on day 2. And in adding 3500 words to it, I’m already halfway through the outline for that storyline. So…hmm… I guess 12k words won’t be too bad, since I always knew storyline 1 was going to be longer…I’m curious to see how the other 2 storylines come out though.

As far as the story goes, I really enjoyed writing about this character, who is basically a prisoner of war, and a connection he’s making with someone in an adjoining cell. (Sort of strange to say I enjoyed writing about a prisoner, though.)

Total word count: 37,222

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 13, 2010!

Book Review: The Death Cure

The Death Cure
The Maze Runner #3
by James Dashner

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: YA dystopian

Spoiler notice: The following review may contain some spoilers for the previous books in the series, The Maze Runner & The Scorch Trials.

The first thought I had after I finished reading this book was, “Eh.” And in a lot of ways, that accurately sums up my thoughts on it. It was…okay. Not terrible (better than book #2), but not great either. The answers in this book only solidified my theory that Dashner did not have the trilogy planned out when he wrote the first book and didn’t really know where to go from the maze.

The reasoning behind all of the trials and “variables” was mediocre at best. Terminology was strange and didn’t always make sense (like “killzone”), and in the end, most of what was going on was not any more grand, exciting, or surprising than everything I guessed at along the way. The ending was more of what I would call a “non-ending.” Not satisfying in any way.

The characters didn’t get much better in this book. The only character I really liked throughout the series was shafted in this book. Teresa was even more pointless in this book than in the previous. And I seriously don’t get any kind of a feel for Brenda. So many people like her, but she seems fairly lifeless to me. And something she said near the beginning of this book, now that I think of it, makes no real sense and barely came into play.

So in the end, would I recommend this series? No. Not to adult readers, at least. Maybe teenagers get more out of it, I don’t know. It seems like it’s one of those that you either love or just don’t care for at all. I liked the first book, but the rest of the series didn’t deliver on that set-up. And I have no desire to read the two prequel books.

Find out more about The Death Cure

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

NaNoWriMo Day 12

The Words: 2977 words total for the day.

I did a 20-minute sprint with my daughter this afternoon, which gave me 1/3 of the words I needed for my daily goal (3000) and also tipped me over to saying that I write the most between 3pm and 4pm.

That’s definitely new for me, because for years, I’ve written mostly at night, somewhere between 9pm and midnight. But this reflects how much I’ve been doing sprints with my daughter, which we’re most likely to do in the afternoon or in the evening before she goes to bed.

Then she went to go play a board game with her dad, and I did a couple of sprints with the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter feed, the second of which I stopped at the halfway point, because I had finished the first storyline of the draft and didn’t want to dive into the next one mid-sprint.

The Story: The rest of the first storyline (of 4) in this draft went by in a whoosh today. That’s because I finally got to the big battle that the book centers around, but the battle isn’t shown in any detail for this storyline. It’s really only shown through a few letters between some of the main characters.

Then I came up to the final scene of the storyline. I’ve had this scene in my head for around 11 years, and I finally got to write it. And it was perfect. Not that it won’t need any revising, but the experience of writing it was just incredible.

I never used to be one for music while I was writing, as much because I didn’t know what kind of music to listen to as anything. In recent years, though, I’ve found that I like having music playing while I write. These days it’s usually some sort of World of Warcraft music, because let’s face it, it has music for every mood. But earlier this month, I realized that there was much better music for this particular quarter of the story–music from the BBC miniseries North and South. I specifically chose to play Northbound Train during that scene, and it was perfect. It even swelled at the exact right time. I honestly don’t know if I’d have had the same feelings if the music hadn’t been there, but all of it together had me in tears while I wrote the scene. I love those moments in writing.

I had to take a break after that, figuring I’d start into storyline #2 later in the evening. But now I’ve decided to just let it rest for today and start new tomorrow.

Total word count: 33,708

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 12, 2010!

And if the week 2 blahs have got you down (or even if they don’t), it’s a good time to check out the 3rd episode of the NaNoMusical!

NaNoWriMo Day 11

The Words: 3670 words total for the day.

My daughter and I did some more sprints today, which got me about 300 words shy of my daily goal of 3000 words. Later in the evening, I caught a 20-minute sprint with the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter feed and wrote 948 more to get the total you see above.

My daughter decided to make her participation official today, so we signed her up for the Young Writers Program. She set her goal at 20,000 words and at right about par right now.

The Story: One character got some major catharsis today. Then there was a big celebration and some fun (for me) additions of characters from some of the other books, which was followed immediately by the unpleasant news of a looming battle. That’s where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

Total word count: 30,731

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 11, 2010!

NaNoWriMo Day 10

The Words: 3347 words total for the day, and I passed the halfway point!

This is clearly going to be looked back on as the year I did NaNo with my 10-year-old daughter, because all of these words were done in sprints between 10 and 20 minutes, alongside my daughter. It certainly keeps me from slacking off!

The Story: There was some romance today, which slowed me down (it always does), and then the character I’ve been writing the most about got a chance to confront her dad. Things got pretty heated right at the end of my writing today.

I also decided today that I am going to need to seriously pare down this storyline if the 4-part story is going to work. But I think one way I can do that is by telling the story from a different POV. Because of how this storyline came about, I’m more connected to the main woman whose perspective I’ve been mostly telling the story from, but really, the main guy is supposed to be the MC of this storyline. And his POV, I think, will cut down on explanation anyway (hard to explain, but I think it will work that way). So as much as I’m itching to start over and see how it goes, I’ve already spent more words on this storyline than I thought, and just want to get through it. Another big task for the next draft!

Total word count: 26,997

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 10, 2010!

NaNoWriMo Day 9

The Words: 3388 words total for the day.

I wrote all of this doing sprints with my daughter today. She’s really excited about how her story is going and has gotten a little faster with her writing during sprints as we’ve gone.

Also, I decided to up my personal daily goal, since the first of 4 storylines is taking a lot more words than I’d allotted. I don’t anticipate the other 3 being this involved, but this one could cause me to run out of month before I finish the entire draft, so I’ll shoot for more like 3000 words per day for now.

The Story: Things got really fun today as one of the main characters from storyline #1 got to meet one of the most ridiculous and fun characters to write from my book series. I may be writing him a bit over the top right now, but I can’t help it. I can always fix it in editing.

Total word count: 23,650

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 9, 2010!

Book Review: To Steal a Heart

To Steal a Heart
The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency #1
by Jen Turano

My rating: 3 / 5
Genre: Christian historical romance

When a resident at the Holbrooke boardinghouse is falsely accused of theft, the other ladies of the boardinghouse band together, using their diverse talents and abilities, to clear her name. From this comes the idea to form the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, which appeals to the ladies of New York City in 1886. For Gabriella Goodhue, who puts her childhood as a thief to use for the agency, this leads to a reunion with her once-best friend from her childhood, who has also turned from a life of crime. Nicholas Quinn is as surprised to see Gabriella as she is to see him and even more surprised by the fact that she seems to hate him now.

This book, unfortunately, was not really for me. It hit a lot of wrong chords with me, and I really don’t care for the author’s writing style. The characters are okay, though most of the larger characters seem too similar to each other, with only a few stand-outs. The villain is incredibly over-the-top and cliched. The plot is disjointed and doesn’t really follow one thread all the way through, except maybe for the connection between Gabriella and Nicholas.

The premise is interesting and the story that comes out of it is decent. The given synopsis (clearing the friend’s name) comes to a conclusion before the 50% mark, which led me to wonder what the book was really about. In the end, the story goal seems to really have been about giving both of these street urchins (Gabriella and Nicholas, who were both orphans and part of a gang of thieves in their childhood) answers to their past. This came out of nowhere, as it wasn’t really established in the first part of the book, other than the simple fact that they had been orphans.

I also thought the history between Gabriella and Nicholas was not nearly strong or deep enough for how they acted and talked. Gabriella was 12 when she was taken away from the gang. Nicholas was (I think) 14. Yet they act and talk as if they were much older and more mature when they knew each other in the past. When they meet again, they’ve been apart longer than they’ve been together, and they certainly don’t act like they were super close as kids. We only know they were because they say they were.

All of the above things, however, would probably still have left me with a book I could enjoy, had it not been for the writing style itself. It was very wordy and felt really shallow. I’m not a stickler at all for the “show, don’t tell” adage, but if I am noticing an abundance of adverbs, it’s probably too much. Take for example the following: “That he looked incredibly furious was not in question, nor was it in question that he also looked rather dangerous.” Not only is this pure telling, it’s telling with way more words than necessary (and this happened often). Various expressions were overused throughout the book, too, like “resuming the friendship” and “lady love.”

I like the idea of the premise of the series, and the fact that the next book is about one of the most interesting characters from this book makes me a little sad. Because from reviews I’ve read of other Jen Turano books, I have a feeling this one is not a stand-out in regards to writing style. I don’t have any plans at this time to read any more of her books. However, she has many great reviews on a lot of books, including this one. So if you don’t think the issues I’ve mentioned in my review would bother you, please do give this book a try. It’s just a miss for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about To Steal a Heart
Publication date: November 17, 2020

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

NaNoWriMo Day 8

The Words: 2666 words total for the day.

Half of this was written alongside my 10-year-old daughter, doing word sprints. She really spurs me on! The other half was written in a couple of solo sprints earlier in the day.

The Story: Today’s writing was mostly a long conversation between this storyline’s two major characters, in an attempt to avoid cliched miscommunications. A friendship deepened as they were able to celebrate a big event in one of their lives. Then, just as I was about to go on to bring in the one Main Event all of the storylines revolve around, I realized I needed to stop to explain how one of the characters left things with her dad. It will probably be ordered a little differently when I revise this draft, because it’s a bit awkward right now, on the cusp of a big intrigue, but then wait, let’s get domestic first.

Total word count: 20,262

If you want to join me in my journey through the first year of NaNoToons (with a storyline), check out the NaNoToon from November 8, 2010!