Return To Writing

Well it has been far too long since I posted on this blog, and about just as long since I’ve done any actual writing. Why the lack of it all? Well I don’t have a very good answer for you. Mainly I needed a break from writing after the last round of NaNoWriMo and then a lot of my time and effort went into my book review blog. But now I’m getting the itch to write again, and with some gentle pushing by my husband, I have decided to dive back into it.

And what better way to return to the world of writing than to participate in the upcoming Camp NaNoWriMo. Starting July 1st and going to July 31st writers are given the chance to write as much or as little as they want! Unlike the November main NaNoWriMo, that has a word count goal of fifty thousand, Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to set your own word count goal.

Since I have a number of other things happening in July I have set my writing goal at twenty-five thousand words. Anything I get over this will be great and while I wish I could go for a full fifty thousand I just don’t see that happening. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to getting back into writing and having a word count goal and a set end date is just the pressure I need to get it done.

Are you participating in CampNaNoWriMo?If so are you going for a full fifty thousand words? Or perhaps more or less?

NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

In a little less than 12 hours NaNoWri Mo will be starting for me. Am I panicking yet? Well, yes, just a little bit. But only because I still haven’t decided which of my many ideas I want to write this year. I’m hoping that when midnight hits so will inspirationa dn the right story will shine and I can get to writing. If not, well, maybe I’ll just roll a dice or something to pick. I can’t spend the first few days of NaNo still deciding what to do.

But picking a story isn’t everything. There other things important to completing NaNoWriMo. Many participants will have what they call the NaNoWriMo Survival Kit. It is those items that you must have in order to reach your goal. Obviously they vary from person to person, though some items are the same for everyone. I went to the store today to pick up the last things I needed. So here is my survival kit.

 

First up we have snacks. An absolute must since most of my time will be spent in front of the keyboard typing away furiously. Now I realize this is all junk food, but don’t worry, my husband will be cooking lots of healthy meals to counteract all the sugar and junk I will be consuming. So we have chips, Hot Dog and Sour Cream & Dill flavors, Twizzler Pull-n-Peel, Junior Mints, Bits & Bites, Reese Cups and Twix. Not pictured are Corn Nuts because I couldn’t find the bag, I know they are around here somewhere.

 

Next is drinks. I can’t live without Dr. Pepper, so it makes sense that it is an important addition to my survival kit. This years it’s Cherry Dr. Pepper, because it’s new and delicious. I also bought a bunch of Peach Drink mix, this stuff is so good!

 

 

Last but not least is my misc pile. Here are my necessary note books and pens. My DS and a few games for when I need a small break from writing. Lip Balm and hand cream because the house is freakishly dry right now and I desperately need them. Not pictured is my netbook, which I do almost all my writing on, it is only touched when I do NaNoWriMo or go on vacations. I may occassionally use my desktop for writing but the bulk of it will be on the netbook. Oh and flash drives, also not pictured, but I always back up my novel constantly on two different flash drives.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so what’s in your survival kit? If you are participating, feel free to add me as a writing buddy, my user name is: Temba

NaNoWriMo Fast Approaching

It’s been a bit quiet here lately and that’s for a number of reasons. The last week was a distraction filled mix of everything under the sun including a sick child, a sick puppy and a husband away dealing with family things. On top of that NaNoWriMo is just over a week away. For those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s a writing challenge that happens the month of November and it is to write fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. This is the fourth year I will be participating and the last three years I have successfully met the word count goal.

This year I’m having a tough time deciding what to write. There are so many ideas stored in my notebooks that I want to write them all but it would be darn difficult to flop back and fourth between multiple stories in order to reach the word count. I might just have to roll the dice or put all the ideas into a ha and drawn one out in order to choose.¬†Either way I am terribly excited about getting to do some major writing.

Before that starts however I have a few more books to read and review. So stay tuned and look for those reviews in this coming week. Hopefully I can get all the books read I wanted to this month before it ends.

Gamers Helping Sick Kids

A friend over at Gaiaonline.com is participating in a fund raising event hosted by Extra Life to raise money to help kids suffering from cancer, cystic fibrosis and other injuries and diseases. As part of this event she will be playing World of Warcraft for 24 hours straight to help raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

If you would like to find out more information, donate or check out her live stream of the event, which will occur on Saturday October 20th, then please check out her profile on the Extra Life website here.

Book Review: Wyatt Return of The Cowboy

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The issue with novellas or short stories is that they attempt to cram far too much into a few pages and because of this the story often feels rushed. Not only that but there is also a sense that somethings are missing in the story, be it that they were skipped in order to keep the story short or the author just didn’t feel like adding them, which usually results in unanswered questions and unhappy readers.

This book was no exception to that. I had such a hard time connecting with the main characters, though Wyatt more so than Paige. This did not feel like a good introduction story for the series. Yes, it introduced some of the characters that would be prominent throughout the series but other than that it held little appeal.

By far the worst part was the ending. It came so abruptly that it left me wondering if I chunk of the book was left out during publication. Honestly it felt like there should have been at least another chapter to really bring the story to a close. It felt as though things were just starting to move in the story and all of a sudden it was over. The story was slow and somewhat dull, the romance a bit lackluster and I think if I hadn’t read one of the other books in the series first I wouldn’t consider picking up the other books, for fear they would be as bad as this one. Though the prequel to the Harts of The Rodeo series it is in no way a necessary one to read before starting into the actual series. In fact I’d suggest just skipping it, really not worth the time to read it.

Book Review: Big Sky Mountain

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.

This novel starts in a place where most romance books don’t, a wedding. It throw me for a loop. Weddings normally come at the end of the romance book, not at the beginning. I figured it had to be the type where the ending was mentioned at the beginning and then the rest of the story would tell what happened prior to that scene. But that was not the case. Once I got over the strangeness of the first scene being a wedding I was able to focus on the book as several of the characters were being introduced and a bit of background was being laid down.

While I did enjoy the characters in this book, all of which were well developed both personality and background wise I did have an issue with one of them. Madison, the four year old girl, in my opinion spoke far too clearly and advance for her age. Perhaps the author just didn’t feel the need to add in a true child’s touch to her voice, but it felt wrong to me. I realize every child is different and some talk clearly sooner than others, but in my experience a four year old is never that clear and concise when it comes to talking. There should be the odd broken sentence, misplaced words and often simpler words used. I have a five year old son and there have been many occasions where I and others had no clue what he said just because of the odd speech patterns children have, and Madison exhibited none of these.

Honestly the more I read the book, especially those parts involving Madison the less I believed she was a four year old. She was more like a six or seven year old in the way she did things and spoke. I found it slightly distracting, if you are going to put a young child in your book make sure they act according to that age. Yes that may cause some difficulties for both author and reader but it makes things feel more real. When finally there was a moment when Madison struggled over a certain phrase, repeating something that Hutch had said, it felt a bit too late to show that she was truly a child and therefore not capable of speaking clearly and using certain words. If the author does not want to put the time in to get children properly portrayed in a book then perhaps they shouldn’t bother having them present. That is simply my opinion.

There is a strong sense of family throughout this book, which is quite often present in western romances from what I have seen. This makes sense as ranching, a theme found in many western romance novels, is a family affair, pasted down from generation to generation. That being said, I felt there was a bit too much of a focus on Madison for it to feel like a romance novel. Yes, she is an important factor to the romance developing, or in this case rekindling, but it didn’t feel right. There should have been more between Kendra and Hutch other than Madison who seemed to play the role of unknowing matchmaker. At this point, which was close to the halfway mark I felt there wasn’t enough interaction between Kendra and Hutch. There is usually the slow building of something such as looks between then (be it small glances or passion/lust filled gazes), those touches that ignite their skin at the mere contact and make their heart beat fast. Something, anything! But alas it was not the case. But I knew it would come at some point so I kept reading.

Another portion of the book I was a bit disappointed in was the lack of ranch time in this book. They are in prime cowboy country, several of the characters are ranchers or cowboys/cowgirls in some manner, and in fact there was mention of the rodeo coming to town. But overall there was very little to no time spent at the ranch, doing ranch work in the book. Yes, there was the odd mention of how Hutch still herded the cattle and mended fences even though he had plenty of hired hands to do that, but I felt as though the western/ranching aspect of this book was lost.

At this point, I’ll be honest with you, I started skimming the pages just to get through it. There was so much attention on Madison and her dog and tiny details that didn’t mean anything to the story as a whole – like when Kendra order a chocolate croissant and a double-tall nonfat latte. Really?! I don’t care about that! Focus on the reason behind the story, not minor details that leave the reader bored and tempted to put the book down.

Finally! Finally it happened. Kendra and Hutch shared their first kiss of the book. It took over half of the way through to reach this point, and while it seemed a bit lacking in description I was glad to finally see the first sign of this story being a romance. It felt like such a long time coming and as quickly as it happened Madison had to swoop in and put an end to it. The kid is getting on my nerves in this book, taking away from what I think could be a really good book and filling it with page after page of what she did, or what her dog did.

Some people may find Madison to be a cute addition to the book, but I just found her presence frustrating at nearly every turn. I felt in a way she was the Jar Jar Binks of this book, interrupting things, not an appealing character and only ended up taking away from the story as a whole not adding to it. It could possibly be that I’m not accustomed to children in books or the way Madison is portrayed, but at this point I felt that the book would have been so much better, if not moving along at a faster pace, if she wasn’t in it. Honestly at this point I can’t even tell you what the story is about, I had thought it would be a cowboy romance with a fun twist the Kendra and Hutch were old lovers that fell apart a while ago, but now I’m sitting here scratching my head trying to figure out what the story is telling me. There’s a kid, a dog, a woman, a man and a few other minor characters that keep popping up, but nothing a real significance has happened as far as I’m concerned. There’s also a new dog now and I have a bad feeling it’s just going to be another distraction to the actual story.

Now their second kiss was better, and thankfully not interrupted by Madison. It was however interrupted by their old ways sneaking back up on them, namely their ability to fight over anything. They spoke of this earlier in the book that Kendra and Hutch were often seen arguing over anything and everything, and that is something they do quite well. Though their squabbles seemed more like something teenagers would do than grown adults. Stop denying your feelings and just get together already! You both clearly want it, but the second you start to give it you pull away, deny it, do anything to avoid the one thing you both clearly want so bad.. So frustrating.

The rodeo part of the book was what I had been looking forward to since it was mentioned earlier on, but like most of the other things in this book I found it highly disappointing. There was more attention on their shopping, eating and playing the games then there was on the actual rodeo event. But at least afterwards there seemed to be some leading up to a romance part, yet I was worried I’d only be left disappointed once more. The good news is, I wasn’t completely disappointed in what happened next. Finally they let their passion take hold. And it was about bloody time, especially since it was coming dangerous close to the end of the book at this point.

The ending was good, though quite what I expected to happen with this story. Everything was quite predictable. Good though the ending may have been it didn’t make up for the rest of the book which just dragged out everything to an agonizing level. You could easily skip 80% of this book and still get the whole story in what was left. If you are looking for a romance novel full of cute fluff and more focus on family and random details than anything else, with a small side of romance then this book is for you. Otherwise I’d say this book can easily be skipped as it left little impression on me.

Overall: The characters were not that great, and Madison especially ruined things for me. The romance was far too slow moving. There were too many other things going on to distract from the main story, if there even was a main story. Part like the rodeo and ranch life were severely under researched. For example, a cowboy would not ride the bulls only once a year and end up winning. Rodeo is not a casual hobby that they do, it’s a full time commitment and the fact that it was portrayed so casually really bothered me. They could have done that same rodeo scene at a fair ground instead, simply cutting out that tiny bull riding scene, and it would have felt more believable. So if you are looking for a rodeo/ranch setting love story, this is not the book for you. If you want a slow paced story about family with small hints of other things then you just might enjoy this book.

Book Review: Wrangled

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This and other reviews can also be found at Exploring All Genres.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.

This book starts off with an awkward tone as Zane meets Courtney, a woman who he has apparently been in contact with through email thanks to a dating service, but it turns out he was not the one who sent those emails to her. Of course he isn’t about to let this beautiful woman slip away so he agrees to go on a date with her.

Now you’d think Courtney would be the main female character in this story and the one Zane is destined to fall in love with. Perhaps she is. However the book quickly shifts to introduce Dakota Lansing and for a second I felt a bit confused by this. More surprising is that Courtney and Dakota are sisters, half sisters to be exact. Let the drama begin.

My initial issue with this book was that it jumped around a lot randomly with no breaks to show a scene change. One paragraph involves Zane, a couple paragraphs later it’s Emma and Mrs. Crowley, then suddenly it’s Dakota. I felt there were simply too many characters thrown at the reader within the first two chapters with little story between them that it became confusing and a lot to take in. It would have been better if the character introductions were drawn out just a little bit so as it didn’t feel like the author was rushing to get all the main characters in the story from page one. My second issue was with the formatting, which may have simply been the version I acquired through Netgalley, since after the second chapter there were random chapter breaks. The chapter breaks were there but they seemed to be quite intermittent after chapter three, some would be there and others wouldn’t. For example, break for chapter eight and ten were in the book, but the one for chapter nine was missing. Not a huge issue but it did feel odd to have some of them missing.

As the story began to progress I have to admit I was quite drawn into it, once I got used to the random switches and lack of breaks. I was especially intrigued to find out more about Mrs. Crowley as well as the mystery behind Courtney. Though at this point it felt more like a mystery novel than a romance one, but that was fine as it was getting interesting.

For the majority of the story there is the focus on the mystery surrounding Courtney, about Hyot’s old wives, and who Mrs. Crowley is and what she is up to. Now this certainly kept my attention throughout however I must admit it did not feel like I was reading a romance novel. Let’s face it, books written in nearly every genre often have some romance in them and that’s how this book felt, like it was a mystery/suspense novel with a love story added to it, not a romance novel with a bit of suspense thrown in. Not that I’m complain because, even though I felt I had the mystery figured out quite early in the book, I was still intrigue to see what twists would pop up next, which questions would be answered and which ones would only lead to more questions. At this point the romance was just a nice addition to the mystery.

It was well over half way through when any sign of the romance aspect of the book came to be. Zane and Dakota have been through quite a lot at this point and there’s so much more ahead for them, and the entire Chisholm family. Yet that does not stop them from exploring their love for each other. We know that Dakota had a crush on Zane when they were younger but only now does he admit that he had also liked her back then as well.

While the romance portion of the book was for the most part nonexistent, and when it did show up it was only very small bits, I did thoroughly enjoy this book. The major draw for me was the mystery, and as the end of the book came up and everything unfolded I really enjoyed the pace at which things came, keeping me turning pages wanting to know just what would happen next and if things would turn out good or bad for certain characters. I think the book will appeal a bit more to those who enjoy mystery novels than those who like romance, but I would suggest the book to anyone who enjoys either genres or is simply looking for something good to read.

Now that I have read this book I think I will take some time in the future and read the previous novels in this series to see what each of the other stories entail. Wrangled also makes me want to go read more mystery/intrigue novels, whether they have romance in them or not.