Friday, March 24, 2017

What Am I Reading *Friday* (3/24/2017)

As promised, our What Am I Reading Wednesday-now-Friday post!

Title: The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger

Author: Stephen King

First Reading: Yes!

Initial Impression: This is a definite change from the other Stephen King books I've read, and I love it!

Final Thoughts: Very excited to read the next book in the series, and to catch the movie this summer.


Rebooted cover version tied in with
the upcoming 2017 film.
My previous experience with Stephen King's novels (and let's face it, there are quite a few of them!) has included works like "The Dark Half", "The Green Mile" and "Lisey's Story". All of which contain elements of the supernatural or the unknown, but none move as far into the fantasy realm as 'The Gunslinger'.

By the way, if you haven't read "Lisey's Story" yet and are planning on it, be prepared! I lost sleep trying to untwist my mind after that one!

For today's post, I'm not going to summarize "The Gunslinger", mostly because I don't think I'd be able to do it justice. Besides, as we all know, The Writing Desk is a Land of No Spoilers and it's going to stay that way.

I do want to share a short portion of the introduction written by King for the 2003 version of the novel. The full introduction is titled: On Being Nineteen (and a Few Other Things).

Do not skip over this part of the book, you'll regret it!

"Then, in an almost completely empty movie theater (the Bijou, in Bangor, Maine, if it matters), I saw a film directed by Sergio Leone. It was called The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and before the film was even half over, I realized that what I wanted to write was a novel that contained Tolkien's sense of quest and magic but set against Leone's almost absurdly majestic Western backdrop. If you've only seen this gonzo Western on your television screen, you don't understand what I'm talking about - cry your pardon, but it's true." (King, 2003, p. xv)

*****

About the Author:

One of my favorite photos of Stephen King.
Stephen King's career has spanned over 50 novels and 200 short stories, with countless other writings and collaborations in between. (If you really want to try counting them, you can start with The Library on his website.) I guarantee you've seen a movie or television show adapted from his work, even if you haven't read any of his publications.

And with two new works already announced for this year, "Gwendy's Button Box" (novella) and "Sleeping Beauties" (novel), it doesn't look like King will be slowing down anytime soon!


This last bit is purely for fun! How many of you out there knew that Mr. King is a fan of corgis? In case you didn't notice the pup in the photo above, take a look under the desk. A couple years ago, King adopted a new corgi who has been aptly named: Molly, aka the Thing of Evil. You can find Molly through King's Twitter page, where he documents her time spent plotting her next attack and bathing in the blood of her enemies!

Just check these two out:


I bow down to the Thing of Evil!



**Disclaimer: The "What Am I Reading Wednesday" posts are my personal opinion and not to be taken as professional literary reviews. I just love sharing books I've enjoyed!**

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Writing Desk is One Year Old!!!

Today is the day!

It's been exactly ONE YEAR since I started The Writing Desk blog!

CHEERS!

I want to thank everyone for sticking with me on this journey so far, as I've gotten into the blogging groove, figured out (some of) the bugs in the works, and have had such a fun time researching and preparing each topic.

Whether you've been a reader from the beginning (Look at you go!), or this is your first visit to the blog (Welcome!), I hope you'll continue to visit The Writing Desk as it grows and develops into the platform it's meant to be.

One quick housekeeping note, I've decided to move this week's What Am I Reading Wednesday to Friday. So you have  a couple more days to guess which book we'll be discussing! Also, if you'd like to be notified when a new post is available, check out the handy dandy Subscription box on the right side of the screen -->. You'll also find the Archives, Search Bar, and links to my Twitter and Instagram pages!

Now, on to Year Two!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2017 TBR List (Update 3/14/2017) + A Sneak Peek!

It's that time again! Time to add five more books to the 2017 TBR List!

The Scattered and the Dead 0.5, by LT Vargus & Tim McBain
(A writing duo I discovered through Twitter, this is the first of four books in their 'The Scattered and the Dead' series. The best part is if you visit either of their Twitter pages, you'll be able to snag a copy for FREE! This is for a limited time, so head on over as soon as you finish up here!)









 


The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith - aka: JK Rowling
(This is actually another "re-read", but in preparation for the fourth Cormoran Strike novel that is currently in progress, I wanted to get reacquainted with the characters.) 













Gunmetal Gray, by Mark Greaney
(This was recommended to me by a friend, and while I do see it's the latest installment of an ongoing series, I'm wondering if I could read it as a stand alone or do I need to start from the beginning? Can anyone help me out here? Also, I've learned that Greaney has worked extensively with Tom Clancy, and my returning readers will know how many of Clancy's books I've already got on the TBR so far!)









My Husband's Wife, by Jane Corry
(I ALMOST picked this one up the other day, and ended up turning to Instagram for opinions. To everyone who chimed in, thank you for the feedback! This has definitely been added to the list.)













Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
(I've wanted to read this book for years. Jurassic Park was my favorite movie as a kid! I can remember watching it on VHS with my dad over and over and over...Let's face it, I wanted a Velociraptor.)
















This brings the total number of TBR books for 2017 to: 30
Number I've read so far: 4...Yes, I've got some catching up to do.

*****

And now, it's time for today's sneak peek of the next What Am I Reading Wednesday novel! This is an actual snippet of the book's cover.

Let's see who can guess this one!

Reach for the sky, birdie!

So, what is everyone else reading this week?

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Delicate (and Frustrating) Art of Choosing a Title

There are some writers who have the ability to come up with the perfect title for their story/novel right as the writing process begins. Lucky ducks that they are.

We don't need no stinkin' titles...
Sad to say, I am not one of those writers. Actually, I hate coming up with titles. To the point where I've gone through the entire process of outlining, writing, editing, critique partner sharing, more editing/re-writing, and entering the beta-reader stage without a title because...eh, me no likey. Finally, I ended up begging my critique group for suggestions so I could slap a title on this thing and send it to the betas. (Thanks friends!)

The biggest problem, in my own experience, is narrowing down the relative key words that could be used to create a decent title that makes sense to the plot/characters. I also put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to come up with a title before I even finish the first draft.

(Stop it!)

And, of course, there's the obstacle that all writers face: Coming up with a title that doesn't already exist! Or at least won't get your work confused with another author's. There are some words that you know, without a doubt, won't help set your book apart from the pack. (*cough* twilight *cough*) 

In an effort to reduce my level of title-related stress, I turned to one of my favorite writerly advice people: Jenna Moreci!


In case you're new to the blog, I've shared Jenna's work here on The Writing Desk before. She's also listed as a writing resource

Taking video-Jenna's advice, I took a good look at my current WIP (Work In Progress) and, after noting a few options that would make sense to the plot/story, trotted over to Amazon to search for each of the titles I'd listed so far.

And you know what?

They were ALL taken!

Well, shit. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

The good news is that I'm still currently still in the outlining process for this manuscript, so it's not like there's a rush to have a title right away. This might be one of those times when the right key word or phrase doesn't come along until the writing itself is done. We shall see.

Let's discuss! Do titles come easily to you, or do you struggle (like I do) to come up with something half-way coherent? Have you tried any of the methods suggested in Jenna's video, or have you come up with your own system?  

Monday, March 6, 2017

I AM (not) THE QUEEN OF MULTI-TASKING!

Picture it:

(To borrow from Sophia Petrillo.)

Sunday morning. I woke up ready to tackle my spring cleaning "To Do" list and crank out a word count goal. I multi-task on house chores and work assignments pretty well. Hell, in college I would read a homework assignment and book-it on a treadmill at the same time!

I could get all of that done at the same time, right? Right??

Not exactly.

Yeah...nice try, not how that works.
(Source: https://envisioningtheamericandream.com/2013/03/04/occupation-1960-housewife/)

 Somewhere in between reviewing my latest short story outline, switching out the third load of sheets/blankets from the dryer, and trying not to pass out from the Orange Glow fumes, I realized that multi-tasking while trying to write might not have been the best way to handle everything. 

As much as I would like to think I could handle it, apparently I am not someone who can write or outline and do anything else at the same time. I tried, and I failed, and that's okay. I put the story aside, spent most of the day getting those big spring cleaning tasks done, and decided to finish my outline today when my mind was fresh. (Which I did, by the way! Woo!)

Now that the outline is done, I'm pretty excited about getting this story typed out and submitted to my critique group! The plan is to submit it to a competition that I entered a couple of years ago (deadline is at the end of March, cutting it just a little bit close) and see how I do this time around.

Is there anyone out there capable of writing while getting other tasks done? Clearly, in this case I just need to focus on one thing at a time, my mad multi-tasking skill notwithstanding.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Appreciating the Little Things + A Future Writing Retreat?

Sometimes you need to just pack up and get away for a couple of days. So, on Saturday we loaded up the car, and the dogs, and headed out to the lake for a night!

A little camping compilation!
Harley is a habitual "foot-sitter", while Mya tends to be more mellow.

I would have loved to get some writing done while we were out there, but we did have a couple friends and their kids join us, so the writing had to take a backseat. That was okay, though, I don't want to become one of those people so focused on squeezing in every ounce of work to the point that I miss out on the little things. Like, watching our friend's son go fishing for the first time and the joy on his face even though he didn't actually catch anything. Or seeing our dog Mya (who, when we first adopted her, was terrified of strange sounds) loving the different noises and smells that came with the campsite.

Behold! The husband's "biodegradable fire pit"!
It was one of those trips where I never knew what time it was, never looked at my phone (except to snap a few pictures), and got to spend some real quality time with the husband, our friends, and the pups. When night fell, we were able to look up and see the stars in a way that just isn't possible from our backyard.

So while I didn't get any work done over the weekend, the spot we chose for our camp out did give me an exciting idea: A camping writer's retreat!

I know several authors who attend writing retreats each year. These retreats are a chance for writers to get together, unplug from social media/the outside world, bounce ideas off of each other, and get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. Once a writer friend of mind outlined three whole novels during a retreat, and had them all written within the next two years!

We may be roughing it a bit, but a camping weekend would be much more affordable than going in together on a house or hotel room for a weekend, not to mention the added bonus of the natural scenery. I think it would be an excellent chance to unplug for a few days, leave the computers and tablets for later, and do any plotting or writing by hand. Research has shown that, along with keeping you mentally sharp, handwriting can stimulate creativity much more than typing on a keyboard ever will, so why not?

Have any of you, dear readers, been on a writing (or some other type of creative) retreat before? If so, I'd love to know where you went and what you thought of the experience!  

Friday, February 24, 2017

BONUS POST: American Gods Release Date, Poster, & Trailer!

It's official! We now have the release date for the upcoming 'American Gods' TV series being produced by Starz!

I am beyond excited!

The official series poster released by Starz!
(Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly/EW.com)


My returning readers will already know, 'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite novels. I consider a book one of my favorites if I've read it more than once, and I'm currently sitting at...eight or nine times for AG? Wow.

We've talked previously about the television show, which I've been wishing for since I first discovered the book, and even discussed some of the actor choices that were made in casting. Then yesterday, I was browsing through my twitter feed, and saw the latest tweet from Michael Green, who co-wrote the show with Bryan Fuller.

April 30, 2017! Mark your calendars, people! And if you haven't read the novel before now, I highly encourage you to dive in before the series starts. Trust me, there are a few key elements that will make much more sense if you go in with a little background knowledge.

The trailer itself has been out for several months, but of course I had to share it along with this exciting news!




Believe.