inspiration

May Reads – Monthly Wrap-Up & Flash Reviews #amreading

May Reads 2017

Hello, fellow book junkies! Well, it seems lately my blogging is pretty much down to monthly wrap-ups, so here’s my entry for May. I hope you’re enjoying a great spring and that loads of good books are finding their way into your book-loving hands.

— Eve Messenger

Illuminae Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff audiobook – This was a thoroughly entertaining YA sci-fi read. Space battles, romance, horror–Illuminae has it all. Katie and Ezra are my new favorite OTP, by the way. Oh, and the computer. You MUST read this book for A.I.D.A.N. the computer. 5/5 stars

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff audiobook – Once I got over the disappointment that book two, Gemina, did not feature Katie and Ezra, I got into it, though the large cast of characters was a bit confusing. Like book one, Gemina has a chilling horror element that REALLY WORKS. 4.5/5 stars

The Art of War by Sun Tzu (translated)-kindle – The Art of War is one of those classic books I felt I needed to read. It’s short and full of smart philosophies about working in groups and wisely engaging in battle. Coincidentally, Sun Tsu is referenced several times throughout Gemina, another book I read this month. 4/5 stars

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova 336pp – I’m always up for a good story. Labyrinth Lost was about brujas (Spanish for “witches”). What made it special was the infusion of pan-Latin bruja folklore. Honestly, I expected Labyrinth Lost to darker and, frankly, better, but it was enjoyable overall, somewhat reminiscent of (though not at all as poetic as) Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen. 3.5/5 stars

Anansi Boys (American Gods #2) by Neil Gaiman – A relative gave this book to me for Christmas because he knew how much I’d love it, and he was right. In Anansi Boys, Gaiman continues to flex his genius imagination, and his characters leap off the page.Thrilling, unusual, and darkly humorous, Anansi Boy is now my second favorite Neil Gaiman book (the first being The Graveyard Book). 5/5 stars

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling  – Of the several autobiographical books by celebrity comic actresses (Amy SchumerLauren Graham, Anna Kendrick) I’ve read lately, this was the best–which makes sense since Mindy Kaling got her start as a writer. The most powerful part of Why Not Me? comes at the end when Mindy responds to a question a girl at a panel once asked her but that Mindy felt she’d answered flippantly. She more than redeems herself! 4.25/5 stars

Goals for 2017 – Writing, Reading, Relationships, Peace of Mind

goals-for-2017

Hello, fellow book junkies! Happy New Year! ‘Tis the season, so I’ll get this out there. In putting together my goals for 2017, I’ve kept things simple and focused on what will give me joy and peace of mind. Here are my:

Goals for 2017.

  • Finish writing & polishing YA dark modern fantasy manuscript by May 1, 2017.
  • Read more YA books featuring bi females and write a blog post about them.
  • Spend time with people. Nurture relationships.
  • Walk every day.
  • Keep going on Saturday morning hikes.
  • Read 96 books.
  • Devote more time to keeping the house looking nice.
  • Never, never, never, never give up.

–Eve Messenger

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2016 WEEK 1

Little Kimono & Dad

Little me with the best dad ever. 

As a child, who was your favorite relative?

My favorite relative was my dad. When he got home after a long day of work, he made time to talk to me, play board games and word games with me, start tickle fights, and make me feel unconditionally loved.

If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be?

I’d be a big tree with wide branches overlooking the forest and seeing up into the sky. Woodland creatures would make their homes in me and be my friends.

What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?

My preference would be to awake before dawn, though I rarely do this anymore. I love the quiet of early morning, running and cycling, getting lots of writing in before the day begins.

Would you like to sleep in a human size nest in a tree or be snuggled in a burrowed spot underground?

If it’s big, really comfortable, and not too high off the ground, I’d go for the human size nest in a tree.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I “woke up” and starting reaching out to friends and family. I realized I was sort of cocooning, but I’m reconnecting now and it feels good. Next week I’m looking forward to the relief of being done with a couple of major events that have been zapping my time and emotional energy.

–Eve Messenger

Vicious, Inspiration & Cinderella w/a Girl

I’m still madly in love with V.E. Schwab’s writing. Just finished reading Vicious, and what that woman did to the superhero genre. . . I hardly knew who to root for. It was crazy. I got so invested in the story and characters.

Speaking of Victoria V.E. Schwab, did you know that she wears a bracelet emblazoned with the letters WWNGD? The letters stand for “What Would Neil Gaiman Do?” Just as Gaiman is her role model, Schwab is mine. She isn’t afraid to write books in different genres, she works hard, she is gracious, and she is successful. That is why I wear this every day.

WWVSD

My “WWVSD” bracelet inspires and reminds me to work tirelessly toward my goal of becoming a successful published author.

Over the past few years I’ve written four novels. The fifth one (five has always been my lucky number)–which recently started writing–has grabbed hold of me and won’t let go. In a previous post  I mentioned I’d like to read a story in which Cinderella ends up, not in a cliched relationship with Prince Charming, but in a loving relationship with his dark, lovely, girl-knight sister. Well, guess what? Now I’m writing it! Ironically, I’m not a big romance reader, so in addition to romance there’s magic, a ghost, a betrayal, an invasion, and the coolest council of women magicians who hold even more power than the royal house. Whenever I write about the council it’s like stepping into Beyonce’s song, Run the World (Girls). Am having so much fun with this novel.

Alrighty, now I’d better get back to work. Yeah, that’s where I’m typing this–sorry, boss.

–Eve Messenger

Everyone Deserves to Do This

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Something happened that took me out of the mad rush of my busy life and put me in a better mood. It forced me to slow down, be in the moment, and put thought into something I so rarely do: what I like about myself. For that I would like to sincerely thank Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets and her Miranda Sings Award nomination. Lila’s blog always gives me lots of delightfully bookish things to think about, and I hope you get a chance to check it out, too.

Rules

(1) Announce your win with a post, and link the blogger who nominated you.
(2) Include the featured image on your blog post.
(3) Nominate 10 bloggers (or as many as you can think of) and link your awardees in the post.
(4) List seven (7) things you love about yourself. (This can be about your appearance, your personality, your achievements, etc.)
(5) Don’t use negative connotation (i.e. Don’t say things like – “I’m prettier than an average person.” or “People have told me I’m smart.” You are pretty. You are smart.)

7 Things I Like About Myself

  1. I’m good with young children. My preschool students think I’m a rock star.
  2. I am a good writer with a great imagination.
  3. I have pretty green eyes with flecks of gray like flower petals around my pupils.
  4. When I set my mind to it, I can accomplish anything.
  5. I love cheering people on.
  6. I have really good aim, as in being able to toss M&Ms up into people’s mouths. or a wadded ball of paper into a trash can across the room.
  7. I am fun-loving and not afraid to get goofy.

I NOMINATE:

Dear nominees, if your bucket of awards and tags is already way too full, feel free to decline. And, by all means, please know that even if you’re not on this list, you are on it in spirit. If you’d like to give this award a try, go for it! –Eve Messenger

Jesalin @ –Blogging Everything Beautiful–

Nicole @ Sorry, I’m Booked

Sabrina @ SabrinaMarsiBooks

Reverie of a Glitter Aficionado

Nazahet @ Read Diverse Books

Michelle @ Michelle, Books and Movies Addict

The Orang-utan Librarian

Jane @ Family Rules

Erika @ The Book’s the Thing

Jorelene @ Page Chronicles

Mackenzie @ Mackenzie Bates Writes

Tina @ All of These Prompts

 

A Moment of Gratitude. . .

sunny forest

A sunny day in green forest with high trees

I love. . .

life.

reading.

my reading friends.

writing.

my writer friends.

my daughter and how she brings sparkle and laughter to my life.

my son and how ambitious, confident and reliable he is.

my husband and how loyal and smart he is.

the city I live in with its small town feel, friendly people, and quaint Old Town and British-style traffic circle, even though it’s actually a big city with all the conveniences.

that I have a short commute to work.

losing myself in music, both as a listener and as a player, and that jubilant moment when I hear, for the first time, a song I know I’ll love forever.

the music and foreign language students of all ages I work with, their enthusiasm, “aha” moments, hugs, and goofy things they say like, “You smell like a seashell.”

my piano students, AKA friends and fellow musicians, who tell me jokes and say Anna is way better than Elsa (I agree!), and get me to do my Stitch, dog, pigeon, and wicked witch imitations.

the excitement of knowing I will publish novels.

my two dogs and two cats, the friendliest, most intuitive furry friends ever, especially Teddie, our not-purebred-poodle-after-all with his really ugly butt.

my friends who make me feel like the nicest, funniest, smartest person in the world and who’ll talk to me about anything.

my parents and wish they lived closer.

my brothers and what good family men they are.

ice cream, being outside on sunny days, being indoors on cloudy days, libraries, meeting nice people, amazing talent, handsome cowboys (but, sorry, not cowboy music), epiphanies,  dumb blonde jokes, walking in the woods, and beauty in all its forms.

–Eve Messenger

 

 

Inspiration: Which Artist Do You Wish You Could Write Like?

Janelle Monae

Musician and performance artist Janelle Monae makes music the way I want to write: totally out of the box and genuine.  If you have not watched her video for the song Tightrope, please do not pass “go;” head directly to YouTube. . . or watch it here. 🙂

 

Talk about truth and singing from the heart, watch what happens starting at 1:33 when Janelle Monae sings, “I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me.” She released this video as-is. Why? Because it’s deeply honest.

 

Which artist would you like to write fiction like?

How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Your Novel #amwriting #writerslife

As my adored and esteemed writing friend Tracy L. Jackson once wisely said, “Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint.” Good advice! Completing a marathon–just like completing a novel–takes endurance. And, despite our hard work and passion for writing, sometimes we lose our motivation. Why? What are the internal hurdles that get in our way?

The main hurdle is fear. I’ve never finished a book before–I mean, really finished, as in multiple drafts rewritten and polished to completion (notice I didn’t say “perfection.”). Over the past couple of years I’ve knocked out first, second, and thirdish drafts of three novels, and the process has taught me a lot, but now I’m working on a novel that I really want to take all the way to publication, and I want to do the story and characters justice.

That’s scary. Maybe there are some writers out there who write and write and rewrite and let nothing stand in their way until their novels are finished. Maybe I’m not that ballsy, but I am no less committed. For me, the process of writing (and finishing) novels includes figuring out how to get past the hurdles.

For example, I recently stood at the glorious precipice of two blissful weeks of winter break: no work to report to every day, pretty much all the free time I wanted, and yet I found myself stalling, stalling, stalling and finding a million reasons not to work on my novel. To get past this hurdle, here’s what I told myself:

Close Your Eyes
Breathe
Shift Perspective

Then. . .

Visualize Your Success

For me, visualizing success means seeing a row of my published novels sitting on a shelf. That simple, but it still wasn’t getting me working on my novel. There were FAR too many other, fun, easy ways to occupy my  vacation time: playing with the dogs, checking out my husband’s woodworking projects, blogging, finding out why the neighbors are moving, playing online word games. Everything except writing. So I asked myself:

Do You Want to Publish Novels?

Of course, my answer was a resounding yes. So . . .

Find a Way to Get Excited about the Novel

I reached into my bag of tricks and found something to get me excited about working on my novel–the kind of excitement and enthusiasm that supersedes fear.

In this case, I recalled how one of my dream agents told me that, even though she’s currently closed to queries, she will accept my mine. . . as long as I send it before the end of January 2016. (Yikes, that’s coming up soon). Remembering this got  me excited and served as a powerful motivator to work hard at finishing my novel.

Set Goals and Track Progress

Setting writing goals has helped me enormously over the past few years, so when I hit that “stall wall” at the beginning of winter break, I sat down and decided on a reasonable writing/editing goal of two hours day (including weekends). Then I did something I’ve never done before: I created an Excel spreadsheet to track the time I put in each day. “Clocking in” on that spreadsheet and seeing my writing time add up has been indispensable for keeping on track with my writing goals. Here’s a copy of my Writing Time spreadsheet in case you’d like to give it a try.

Reward Yourself

Most of us probably can’t afford to reward ourselves with new cars or spa days for achieving our writing goals, so what I did was pay a visit to OrientalTradingCompany.com and buy myself a set of stickers. Yep, that works for me because, in my world, no one is too old for stickers! And I’m not too proud to admit that I gleefully pore over that sheet of stickers and choose exactly the one I want to reward myself with when I complete my writing goal for the day.

Stickers - 50 United States rotated.jpg

Doing all of this helped me climbed the “stall wall” and, as always, the more I work on the novel, the more I fall in love with it, which makes me WANT to return to it each day.

–Eve Messenger