Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is “Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time.” Several books came to mind almost immediately when I saw this topic, so it wasn’t too hard to fill the list. Though apparently it wasn’t too easy, either, since I stopped at 9. Most of the books on the list I wish I could forget because something about the plot, story, characters, or climax was grand, epic, or twisty and made the first reading spectacular in a way that no successive reading can possibly be (at least until I’m old enough to have memory issues…and then I could probably read all of my favorites like it was the first time again). In no particular order, here are 9 books I wish I could completely forget so I could read it for the first time again.

1. The Oath by Frank Peretti
This has long been my absolute favorite book, written by my single favorite author. I’ve read it many times in the last 20ish years, but would love the chance to read it again with fresh eyes. See my review here.

2. Three by Ted Dekker
I first read this book at least 15 years ago. I actually started it, put it down before the end of the first chapter, and took quite some time to get back to it. But when I started it again, I got into it. This is one of those stories with a Big Twist at the end that I, at least, did not see coming. The way the whole thing played together was great! And while it can be fun to read it again and see all of the clues, I wish I could wipe my memory of the ending and be surprised again. See my review here.

3. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
I actually read this book based on the recommendation of a fellow TTT participant, and I really wish I could remember who it was so I could thank them profusely. I loved it, and have already read it a second time. It’s another one with a twist, and while I actually saw the twist coming, I just loved how it all worked together. I wish I could read it again without any foreknowledge of it and relive the joy of getting to that ending.  See my review here.

4. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The mystery in this book was interesting enough, but the way it was presented and unfolded were unique and pretty amazing. It was such a great ride that might not be quite as exciting the 2nd time around. See my review here.

5. Holes by Louis Sachar
The beauty of this book is the way multiple seemingly unrelated storylines come together by the end of the book. I’ve read the book and seen the movie quite a few times, so I know the story really well, but I think it’d be fun to be able to experience the whole thing for the first time again.  See my review here.

6. 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace by Johan Twiss
I was amazed by this book, a little-known gem that was self-published by the author. There’s no huge twist in the story, but the way it plays out is beautiful and touching. I am already looking forward to re-reading it some time, but it probably won’t be the same as the first time. See my review here.

7. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Oh my gosh, this book…I loved this book so much. It made me laugh, cry, and cheer. I know I will enjoy re-reading it, but nothing will ever compare to that first time the story unfolded before me. My husband recently listened to the audiobook, after strong prompting from me, and seeing it through the eyes of a new reader was the next best thing to reading it again for the first time myself. See my review here.

8. The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson
As the culmination of an epic middle-grade fantasy series, this book had all the feels. Seeing the triumph and tragedy for the first time was amazing, and I know it can never quite be that way again. See my review here.

9. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
This is a divergence from the rest of the books on the list. It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned this in a TTT post, but I did not like the narrator of the audiobook, at least the version I listened to. The story itself wasn’t bad, though, and I can imagine really liking the series. I have plans to give the books another try, but I worry that I won’t be able to forget how this narrator made me dislike the main character. It would certainly be helpful if I could re-do the first reading of this book. See my review here.

10. Outcast by Kristi Drillien
Another divergence from the most common reason I wish I could read a book for the first time again. I’m sure I’m not alone here amongst authors in wishing that I could see my story through the eyes of someone who doesn’t already know the story.

Have you read any of these books? What books do you wish you could read again for the first time?

Weekly Writing Update: 12/13

I worked on book #3 in the series this week, and I think I have figured out the best way forward. I’ve cut off the last 15k words from the previous draft to be part of book #4, which basically means I’m going to be making the main story goal for book #3 different than how it’s been for many years now. This means that I need to revise a lot to make sure the new story goal is coming out enough. It also means I can put back in some longer scenes that I’d removed to shorten the story and to allow the old story goal to come to the surface earlier in the book.

Actually, this book has been giving me trouble for quite a while. I always worried that the last 1/3 of the book was such a different plot from the rest, and that the plot that is set up in the first 2/3 sort of goes nowhere. But I kept moving forward, thinking I just had to live with it. Then when I had the sudden realization that those 15k words would be better off as part of book #4, it gave me the chance to fix all of that. It’ll be a lot of work to fix, though.

So I started by doing something that helped me a lot during revision of Outcast earlier this year–putting all of the existing scenes onto little slips of paper, color-coding them by story arc, and then filling out new slips for new scenes I think should be added.

This allowed me to play with the order of the scenes and move some forward when I realized a plot arc was getting started too late, and that starting it sooner could help avoid monotony in the earlier scenes. Now it’s pretty much time to get to revising, which I think will start with a read-through to refresh myself on the story, cutting down bloated scenes and writing the first draft of some new scenes along the way. I’ll also need to make the scenes flow in the order I’ve changed them to, but I’m not sure if I’ll do that now or later.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).


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Outcast Released!

My second full-length novel, book #2 in a series of futuristic speculative fiction with a Christian worldview, is now available to purchase as both an e-book and a paperback! I’m so excited to see this series continue! See synopsis below and go here to buy the book.

Outcast on Goodreads

OUTCAST

Deep in the desert of Pithea lives an order of mercenaries. Assassins, thieves—they’ll do anything for a price. They are known in whispers and rumors as the Class of Morano. To this unconventional family belongs one Natos Morano, a member since birth. When a woman he’s never met kidnaps him in order to convince him to leave the order, he will be forced to choose between the only family he’s ever known and his true family that is long gone.

Remiel Azrael thinks his choice is easy when he discovers a woman in desperate need. But sometimes the noblest intentions result in the most unfavorable repercussions. And when the woman’s situation turns out to be more dangerous than he realized, Remiel comes face to face with a demon he thought he’d buried.


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New Mailing List

In advance of my new book releasing in a few days, I’m doing something I’ve been putting off for long time: starting a newsletter. Most news I do share here on this blog as well, but I know how bad I am at checking blogs that I follow regularly, so I’d imagine others are too. There will also be some extra tidbits now and then that are only in the newsletter. At most, these emails will be monthly. At the least…is there a term for every 6 months? As I think of it? Really, though, if you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any big news or announcements I have to share, enter your email address below and join my mailing list:

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NaNoWriMo Day 16

The Words: 2596 words total for the day.

I’m sticking to 2500 words per day for now, until I see how things go for the next few days, to hopefully avoid running out of story before the end of the month. I’ve been watching memories go by on Facebook from the last several years showing me hit 50k over the last few days (for example, Nov. 14th in 2013; Nov. 11th in 2017, which I think is the earliest in the month I’ve ever reached 50k words) and know that I’m still 4500 words away and want to stretch that another couple of days. It’s strange to suppress the desire to overachieve in favor of a wish to be able to spread the story out over the entire month, rather than possibly finish early.

The Story: I finished storyline #2 today, and I really liked how the end of it turned out. It’s the one storyline that has a lot of text past the point where all 4 storylines meet, so I don’t know how that’s going to flow when it’s time to work on this book in the future, but I hope I don’t have to cut any of it.

Storyline 2 came out to about 14,500 words, which is just under half of storyline 1. This doesn’t bother me yet, because I know I’ll be cutting storyline 1 down some. I don’t think I’ll cut it in half, but I also do think of it as a more prominent storyline than the other 3. Though maybe I shouldn’t. It’ll be interesting to work on this in the future. (By interesting, I mean potentially headache-inducing, considering how hard it was to combine 2.5 storylines for Outcast.)

Total word count: 45,666

Since I didn’t realize that there were only 20 NaNoToons in 2010 and the next one is Thanksgiving (over a week away), enjoy today’s NaNoToon from this day in 2009!

Outcast Release Date

Big news!! Outcast, the second book in the Pithea series, is going to be released on December 1st as both paperback and e-book. I will share a link on that date (or soon after, because Amazon doesn’t always work on a self-published author’s timetable). See the synopsis below, or check out the book on Goodreads.

Deep in the desert of Pithea lives an order of mercenaries. Assassins, thieves—they’ll do anything for a price. They are known in whispers and rumors as the Class of Morano. To this unconventional family belongs one Natos Morano, a member since birth. When a woman he’s never met kidnaps him in order to convince him to leave the order, he will be forced to choose between the only family he’s ever known and his true family that is long gone.

Remiel Azrael thinks his choice is easy when he discovers a woman in desperate need. But sometimes the noblest intentions result in the most unfavorable repercussions. And when the woman’s situation turns out to be more dangerous than he realized, Remiel comes face to face with a demon he thought he’d buried.

Weekly Writing Update: 10/25

I have finished the revision I was doing with one of my sisters, and any further revision of  “Outcast” is up in the air right now. I may be completely done with revisions, but it’s difficult to know, and I’m not in a huge hurry to make that decision. I have started on line edits, though, because I don’t anticipate any large revisions from here forward. By the end of this month, though, I think I’ll know for sure what I have left to do, and be able to set a publishing date (or know if I need to push it back a little instead). I don’t like being so up in the air at this point, but such is the life of a self-published author with no budget.

NaNoWriMo starts in a week, and I think I’m as prepared as I’m going to get. I finished the character interview I started last week, and though it didn’t lead to any wild “Aha!” moments, it still helped me get a firmer handle on a character that has only been in one book so far, but will have a prominent role in what I’m writing for NaNo (first draft of book #4 in the series). I also got my outline, which had been only in the notes sections of Scrivener, into a printable form, so I can have it with me wherever I may write next month. I’m ready and excited to start!

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: 10/18

My progress toward publishing “Outcast” has not been as swift as I would like, but it is progress. I’m hoping one more session with my sister will get us to the end of her notes. After that, I will start on a final line edit, but take my time to give my other sister time to possibly send more notes. I hope to have as little work on for publication in December as possible during November, since NaNoWriMo will most likely take up most of my free time.

And speaking of NaNoWriMo, though I already feel ready for it, I didn’t want to pay no attention at all to the story I’m planning to write during this prepping month. So yesterday I started a character interview with one of the main characters in the book I plan to draft next month. Unfortunately, I haven’t done any writing by hand for at least 9 months, and apparently it’s going to take some time to get used to again. I didn’t get nearly as far in one session as I have been able to in the past, because my hand hurt too much. I look forward to continuing it today though.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: 10/11

After a few months off for a variety of reasons that culminated in just not caring enough to work on my book, I have dived back in with enthusiasm. I’ve actually been working on the near-final revision of “Outcast” for a few weeks now. The majority of the work I’ve been doing involves using the notes made by one of the other members of the TCSTB (I love being able to use that acronym again). The exciting thing is that, once I had her notes in my hands, I realized that, though there was plenty to work on, it’s a very small fraction compared to what needed revised in Pithea when we spent over a year working on it together. I do have another sister (the one that wasn’t able to be part of the TCSTB) who is planning to make some suggestions for revision as well, but I daresay, based on what she’s sent me so far, it still won’t be an overwhelming amount. Now I just have to be patient while I wait for time to discuss notes with one sister and for the other sister to have time to send me her notes.

In the meantime, NaNoWriMo looms ahead. My plan for this year is to write the first draft to what will almost definitely be book #4 in the series. The outline has been done for over a year, but I’ve spent some time already reading through it and refreshing my thoughts about it. And during that time, I already had a new “Aha!” moment.

Though I’ve already shared my thoughts about how the joy of discovery is my absolute favorite thing about writing, this is a different kind of discovery from what I talked about there. It involved the realization that a chunk of the end of the current draft of book #3 might actually belong in book #4. I’ve been considering this ever since–not letting myself be completely sold, while being pretty sure it will solve a lot of structure problems I have with book #3. I’ve decided to wait and see how long the draft for book #4 comes out to be, because it will only work if it can handle another 15k+ words without being too long.

Sadly, this means that I can’t really work on revision of book #3 until the end of November, even though that’s what I’d like to be doing while waiting to move on in my revision of “Outcast” until others have time to continue helping me. So…I can’t really say what I’ll continue working on this week–hopefully another session with one sister, and outside of that, maybe some writing practice just to keep myself immersed in the series.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: 6/14

It has been a little over a month since I wrote one of these updates, and that is due to the sucking void of an online game I fell back into last month. However, I have recently realized that part of the reason I let myself ignore my writing for so long is because I was waiting for feedback from a couple of beta readers for “Outcast,” and without that, I was unable to do much more. I had figured I’d just keep working on the story myself, but the truth is, there wasn’t much more I could do without their feedback.

One is now done, and I just need to get her notes from her. What she’s told me so far is that she really liked it, more than Pithea, and that a few underdeveloped areas stuck out to her, because of how good the rest of it was. I’m happy with that, considering that as soon as I thought much about one of those areas, I could see exactly what she meant. I’ve already started thinking of ways to make it stronger, and will begin working on that this week.

Because the date I had planned to publish “Outcast” was pretty arbitrary, and because I can see now that it needs more work than I’d hoped, I am not pushing for the publish date I’d originally hoped for. But I should still be able to have it out by fall.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts, Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).