My Favorite Books of 2015

I know, I know. This post probably should have gone up sometime in December, but since I didn’t return to blogging until last week, I’m technically ‘on time.’ (not really, but that’s what I’m telling myself to keep from feeling bad, ha-ha).

Here are my TOP picks from 2015, along with each book’s blurb and cover from Goodreads, and my personal star rating.

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Psst…Me Before You, the movie, is set to release on March 4, 2016. I highly recommend reading the book prior to seeing the movie.

 

After You by Jojo MoyesAfter You

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

After You is quintessential Jojo Moyes—a novel that will make you laugh, cry, and rejoice at being back in the world she creates. Here she does what few novelists can do—revisits beloved characters and takes them to places neither they nor we ever expected.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

The DrafterThe Drafter (The Peri Reed Chronicles #1) by Kim Harrison

Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run.

Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote.

When Peri discovers her name on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. She joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her final task, unable to trust even herself.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Psst (again)… I received this as an ARC at RT 2015, so let me just say that having to wait over a year for book #2 is KILLING ME.

 

My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda RouseyMy Fight Your Fight

In this inspiring and moving book, Ronda Rousey, the Olympic medalist in judo, reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion, and Hollywood star charts her difficult path to glory.

Marked by her signature charm, barbed wit, and undeniable power, Rousey’s account of the toughest fights of her life—in and outside the Octagon—reveals the painful loss of her father when she was eight years old, the intensity of her judo training, her battles with love, her meteoric rise to fame, the secret behind her undefeated UFC record, and what it takes to become the toughest woman on Earth. Rousey shares hard-won lessons on how to be the best at what you do, including how to find fulfillment in the sacrifices, how to turn limitations into opportunities, and how to be the best on your worst day.

Packed with raw emotion, drama, and wisdom this is an unforgettable book by one of the most remarkable women in the world.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Psst (last time)… THIS BOOK CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME. From my thought process to how I view my writing time and creativity, to the habits I need to build in order to ensure my creativity can flourish, and last but not least, how I should just give zero fucks about what other people think about me and my creativity (well, except for those ever important critique partners, lol).

If I push any of these books at you to read ASAP, it’s BIG MAGIC. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Big Magic Quote 1Big Magic Quote 2Big Magic Quote 3

Alrighty, your turn! What are some of your favorite books from 2015? PLEASE recommend some to me. I’ve upped my reading goal from 20 to 25, so I’ve got some work to do. 😉

Gotta Try It: 21 Day Fix

21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese

21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese

So yeah, it’s that time of year when everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions, and the most famous one is–say it with me now–LOSING WEIGHT.

How about this year, instead of making that simple goal of losing weight, we simply aspire to become healthy? To change our lifestyle from a few weeks on a particular diet to lose a certain amount of weight to one of simple and easy healthy eating and daily exercise?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought when I first saw 21 Day Fix last year.
(Note: I’m not a Beach Body Coach so I don’t receive perks for marketing my favorite product of theirs).

What is 21 Day Fix?

Let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not a diet. It’s an eating & exercise plan that allows you to eat what your body needs in proper portions that’ll stimulate weight-loss when used in conjunction with the 30 minutes-a-day exercise program.

How Does it Work?

Let’s start with the food. When you purchase 21 Day Fix, you’ll receive not only the workout DVDs but the colored food containers. These are sized & colored based on the correct portion you should have of a certain type of food. The colors represent:

What you receive in your 21 Day Fix kit
What you receive in your 21 Day Fix kit

 

 

Green: 1 cup Vegetables
Purple: 1 cup Fruits
Red: 2/3 cup Proteins
Yellow: 1/2 cup Carbs
Orange: 2 tbsp. Seeds & Dressings
Blue: 1/3 cup Healthy Fats
1 Teaspoon: Oils

 

 

Based on your weight & current activity level, you will be provided with how many portions of each food group you can have throughout the day. For myself, I’m allotted 4 veggies, 3 fruits, 4 proteins, 3 carbs, 1 healthy fat, 1 seeds & dressings, and 4 teaspoons.
*For a thorough rundown of how it works, check out BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix site and watch the infomercial in the middle of the page.

Are the Workouts for Everyone?

YES. No matter your current activity level or how long it’s been since you’ve worked out or if you have bad knees and ankles THE WORKOUTS ARE FOR EVERY ONE.

The daily workouts are only 30 minutes and are designed to work every part of your precious body. No, there isn’t a day off, but there are two active rest days (Thursdays & Sundays) and a moderator. The schedule is as follows:

  • Monday: Total Body Cardio Fix
  • Tuesday: Upper Fix
  • Wednesday: Lower Fix
  • Thursday: Pilates Fix
  • Friday: Cardio Fix
  • Saturday: Dirty 30
  • Sunday: Yoga Fix

Is it Going to be Enough Food?

YES. I know the amounts appear to be super small, and when the colored containers arrive you’re like “OMG I’m going to starve!”, but trust me, it is PLENTY of food. You just have to know how to mix your allotted colors throughout the day. Here’s an example of a day in my 21 Day Fix meal plan:

  • Breakfast: Turkey sausage (1 red), oatmeal (1 yellow)
  • Snack #1: Mixed fresh fruit (1 purple), plain non-fat Greek yogurt (1 red)
  • Lunch: Roasted chicken (1 red), tomatoes & cucumbers (1 green), brown rice (1 yellow), 1 apple with PB (1 purple & 1 tsp)
  • Snack #2: Carrots (1 green) and humus (1 blue)
  • Dinner: Turkey taco meat (1 red), 50/50 salad mix w/ tomatoes & cucumbers (2 green), nonfat Italian dressing (1 orange), 5 oz glass of red wine (1 yellow)

YES, you can have wine IF you trade-in one of your servings of carbs. And it’s the same for chocolate! Pretty sweet deal, huh?

Where Can I Buy?

BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix site is the best place to get started with purchasing your kit. Based on my math (hah!) the program is only a total of $72.80 (that’s 3 monthly payments of $19.95 plus $12.95 shipping & handling).

Now, unfortunately, I don’t have before/after photos to share, but I did measure myself before and after my first round (which was in April 2015), and I lost a total of 4.5 inches and 5lbs. Now remember, a lot of the results you see online are from more than a single round. These results were from a SINGLE round, which is amazeballs! Just imagine how many more inches/pounds I would’ve lost if I’d continued straight into a second or third round.

Want to join my next 21 Day Fix Challenge?

I plan to start back with 21 Day Fix on Monday, February 1st. Are you interested in joining? If so, let me know in the comment section. I’ll shoot you an email so we can exchange information. If we have enough folks interested, I’ll create a Facebook page for daily updates and inspiration as we go through round 1 of 2016.

If you want more information on 21 Day Fix, or need some ideas of how to put your color-coded portions together into some seriously delicious and creative meals, check out my 21 Day Fix Pinterest board.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016! *cheers*

 

I’m Baaaack… Life & Other Updates

Oh my frickin’ God! Has it really been over a year since I blogged?!?

My guess is you’re wondering 1) Where the hell has Mel been, and 2) WTF is happening?

Believe it or not, I have LEGITIMATE answers for both 😉

1) I’ve been soul-searching and spending time with like-minded writers (at the RT Conference, for example), and busy, busy, busy with both my personal and day job lives.

2) I’ve FINALLY found my TRUE artistic self…among other things.

 

By soul-searching, I’ve been able to explore without expectation. This has allowed me to abandon any and all expectations m, which includes social media. And abandoning all things social media for the last year has allowed me the freedom to observe from the sidelines. When I say observing, here a few of my favorite moments:

  • Witnessing Sylvia Day as she drank a cocktail at the hotel bar at RT 2015 (and may I say she looked damn fine?).
  • SITTING NEXT TO CHRISTOPHER RICE in the bar area of RT 2015 (Such a nice man, BTW).
  • Seeing Kami Gargia as she conversed with Mr. Rice, who was sitting right next to me (did I mention this already?).
  • Meeting authors Charlaine Harris  & Marie Lu during the big book fair day
  • Remaining in my room and refusing to go down to the bar or lobby even though we had a *confirmed* sighting of the famous author known as E.L. James (I won’t go deep into my reasons of why, but I will just leave this link to a post from Jami Gold to give you an idea).
  • Hanging with these pretty ladies (my crit partners) at the RT Booklover’s Convention in Dallas, Texas. 🙂
Authors Charissa Weaks & JL Henry Authors Charissa Weaks & JL Henry

Detailing the findings of my TRUE artistic self will end up being detailed later in this blog, so I’m not going to go into too much detail right now, but what I can share are a few personal things that have been going on for me.

  1. That new position with my company that I got in May 2014? I still enjoy it very much…I just don’t have time to breath, much less pee, on most days. S’okay, though, the good days outweigh the bad, and that’s all that matters, right?
  2. My husband and I decided, after 2 years of trying to conceive a child with no luck, to start seeing a fertility specialist in March 2015. So far, so good with nothing truly wrong with any of our baby-making parts *whew* so we’re just taking it a month at a time and leaning on the specialist to get us through what’s turned out to be an emotionally difficult process.

So yeah, not blogging over the last year has allowed me enough time to rest and catch my breath and figure quite a few things out. And thank goodness because I’m baaaaack and feeling mighty refreshed and ready to rumble mingle again. 🙂

Stay tuned, as I’ll be posting writerly things on Mondays and randomness on Thursdays.

Oh, the Insanity!

Pic Credit: The Columnist.org

To describe the last few weeks as insane is an understatement. For realz. O.o As you’ve noticed, I’ve been so, so absent from blogging. Funnily enough, I’ve also been quite absent in my writing life as well. With a new job comes new tasks, new systems, and quite frankly, I’m no longer bored at the dayjob, lol. So instead of being bored I’m overwhelmed, and it looks like it’s going to remain this way for several months until I can establish processes that’ll bring things down to a “manageable” level.

But, in the meantime, there’s FANTASTIC news on the horizon. Not only have learned more about myself and my mental processes, but I’ve also learned an amazing plotting device from the ever-awesome and wonderful Charissa Weaks. And because of this I’ve not only been able to create a unique plot for a new book, but that plotting turned into–OMG–a trilogy. With series potential.

Yeah…so when I said insane, I seriously meant way above the idea of crazy, and way the hell across the world from the write-rubber-walled room. *grins*

Please bear with me while I gather what little sanity I have left. Sooner or later the muse will be in overdrive once more and there will be a LOT more posting happening. Especially a few posts on some of the research I have planned on London, witchcraft, and the occasional daemon. 😉

The Accountability Factor—Part One: The Family

Ahhh… Accountability. The state of being accountable. Liable. Answerable.

Online Webster’s Definition of Accountable

No matter which aspect in our lives we’re looking at, we’re all accountable to someone. And how we handle ourselves in response to the many demands accountability dumps on us is part of what defines us as individuals.

Today I wanted to look at one of the many areas of accountability in a writer’s life.

 THE FAMILY

Waking everyone up in the morning, prepping lunches for school/work, getting dinner on the table at six, running the household errands day after day… this just a sampling of the variety of tasks our family holds us accountable for on daily basis. But since we also wear the Author Hat, guess what else we’re accountable for?

Movement in our writing careers.

Whether the movement is finishing a novel that may never sit on a shelf in your local Barnes and Noble, or winning a writing contest, or starting the dreaded query process, or signing with an agent, etc…. We are accountable to our family to show some kind of movement in our journey to publishing success. After all, we are taking time away from them to play with write the stories in our heads into existence.

So what happens if a year goes by—or two or three or four or five—and we’re not seeing the movement the family would like? Or, more to the point, the movement we desperately want?

Sure, it’s easy to stress over the absence of advancement in our writing career. We’re the ones pouring our heart and souls into these books and characters and spending all this time away from the family in order to make our dream come true.

But you know what? I truly believe that just because we’re not seeing the movement we want doesn’t mean we’re not making strides in our writing career. A completely written and polished novel? A step forward. A queried novel that was rejected 20+ times? A step forward. These small accomplishments may not seem like much, but they are! And accomplishments, no matter how small or large, deserve a treat, don’t you think? *breaks out the chocolate and confetti*

Involve the Family

Sometimes simply talking about the writing process with our family shows them that we know we’re accountable to them. And many times we don’t even have to bring the topic up to them because they’ll ask us.

Husband/Wife/Mom/Dad/Sibling: “How’s the book coming along?”

Answer: “Well, I didn’t get any action off the queries I sent, so it looks like it’s just not the right time for that novel. I’m going to move forward and start plotting a new one this weekend.”

From there the questions can vary, but most times we’ll get asked why no one was interested in our novel, is it our writing, is it the agents. This opens a fantastic window to share the world of publishing and the many facets of perfect timing that we usually need to happen in order to take a leap forward (right story meets the right agent at the right time…right?). Once they understand a small portion of the pubbing industry, their need of seeing movement in our career is usually temporarily satisfied.

Be Open with the Family

Tell your family what’s going on. Especially the husband/wife. We can make them our sounding board for our frustrations. Just the simple act of sharing our angst over character difficulties, the excitement over a new story idea, the giddiness over an exceptional plot twist we just wrote… All of these satisfy a bit of the accountability we have to our families.

The only downside, obviously, is that we can’t control everything, can we? We can’t make the publishing world see the golden nugget that is our novel. We can’t force an agent to concentrate 100% of their attention on our query and opening pages. We can’t Professor X an editor at a NY publishing house to offer us the four-book deal we’ve dreamed of.

All we can do is our personal best. Learning the craft, utilizing what we’ve learned, writing the best novels and queries and blurbs possible. All of these are in our control. And all of these are how we are accountable to our families.

We need to put our best idea forward and go as far up the road to publishing as we can with that idea. If we do that, we’re not letting the family down whatsoever. And because they’re our family, they will be proud of us no matter what!

What do you think? How else are we accountable to our family? Do you have any other tips to share?

Gotta Go Dark…

I had hoped to avoid this, but I guess you can’t fight City Hall, can you? O.o

This is the time of year that’s absolutely insane for me–mostly at the day job where I’m usually stuffing 60 hours worth of work into a 40-hour work week.

So. Not. Fun.

But I love my job and it keeps me on my toes. The only problem is that something always has to give around this time of year. Unfortunately, it’s consistently blogging that has to fall to the wayside since my writing takes precedence over anything else.

Don’t worry though! Things should calm down in about 2 weeks, which is perfect because I have a special treat on its way to the blog …

Tina Moss and Yelena Casale’s debut novel, A Touch of Darkness, is releasing on the 15th!

AND, AND, AND!

I’m going to review their book on the 17th!

AND, AND, AND!

Then Tina and Yelena are going to pay us a visit here on the blog on the 24th with a special excerpt–and if we’re really nice, they may do a giveaway. 😀

AND, AND, AND!

On Halloween, I’m going to host my own little giveaway!

Be sure to check back later this month! In the meantime, here’s to welcoming the internet darkness for two weeks! 😉

Happy Writing, everyone!
Melinda

Where in the World is ARCHETYPE?

 

ArchetypeSo there’s this publisher called Dutton Books, who decided to publish this book called ARCHETYPE by M.D. Waters.

GREATEST. DECISION. EVER!

No joke. There’s a reason why there’s been an insane amount of buzz in the publishing world about this book.

Check out the blurb from Goodreads:

Introducing a breathtakingly inventive futuristic suspense novel about one woman who rebels against everything she is told to believe.

Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .

The first novel in a two-part series, Archetype heralds the arrival of a truly memorable character—and the talented author who created her.

Although ARCHETYPE doesn’t release until February, I got the chance to be a part of the “Where in the World is Archetype” blog tour that M.D. Waters’ Writing Wife, Charissa Weaks, put together.

So what does that mean? Well, it means I got to spend some time reading an ARC of this fantastic, can’t-put-down novel! But first, I had to receive it in the mail from another writer: Melissa Chambers.

To say I was giddy while opening the box is an understatement

To say I was giddy while opening the box is an understatement

Then, I had to read it. 🙂 🙂 🙂

do-not-disturb-im-reading-archetype-by-md-waters

When I finished, I cried, smiled, laughed, jumped for joy, texted Charissa Weaks, and went a little nuts on Facebook with nothing but raves about this book.

Then I sat down an wrote my review:

OMG! There are almost no words for how much I LOVED this book. And there’s no doubt whatsoever that you WILL LOVE it, too!

I’ve never been much of a science fiction reader, but I do enjoy any and all genres that have fantastic characters, amazing story lines, and delicious tension — and that is exactly what this book gave us! Action, romance, mystery, tension, likeable heroine from page one, plot twists so good that you’ll scream aloud, “Oh, my God!”

M.D. Waters has given readers such a treasure with this novel, and there’s no doubt its follow-up, Prototype, will be just as amazing and unforgettable.

Fantastic writing, unforgettable characters, and heart-wrenching, Archetype is sure to find itself at the top of the NYT Bestseller list upon release.

Then, ARCHETYPE and I took a little field trip to the Bicentennial Gardens in Greensboro.

Archetype in Greensboro, NC

Archetype in Greensboro, NC

Archetype and "The Student"

Archetype and “The Student”

And now, ARCHETYPE is on it’s way to the next stop on this little tour. 🙂

Wanna join in on the fun and read ARCHETYPE before it hits bookshelves on February 6th, 2014? Here’s how:

1) Possess your own blog and be willing to post about the book
2) Email Charissa Weaks about joining the tour: cweaksblog (at) gmail (dot) com
3) Read ARCHETYPE in the allotted time frame
4) Take a picture of you with the book
5) Write a note to Charissa inside the cover (this is her ARC, so tell how much you LOVED it)
6) Mail the book to the next lucky recipient
7) Blog about your experience

Not able to join the tour? No worries! You can always pre-order your copy of ARCHETYPE now:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iTunes / iBook / Indiebound / GooglePlay

Next stop for ARCHETYPE will be next week with Author Kristi Helvig.

Where in the World is ARCHETYPE? Current Blog Tour List
9/8: Author Melissa Chambers
9/16: Author Jodi L. Henry
9/26: Author Melinda S. Collins
9/30: Author Kristi Helvig
10/7: Author Ash Krafton
10/16: Author Jessica Lemmon
10/25: A Bookish Affair
10/31: Author Tracy Buscemi
11/11: Jessica E. Subject

Happy Reading and Writing!
Melinda

Tune-In Tuesday: Peace of Mind

We’re taking it back this week on Tune-In Tuesday to an old favorite by Boston: Peace of Mind.

The good thing about writing playlists is you can have such a variety of music–from Boston to Thirty Seconds to Mars, from The Beatles to Muse, from Madonna to Evanescence. I, for one, really enjoy the good vibes and inability to sit still when bands such as Boston, AC/DC, and Foreigner come on the radio.

Enjoy!

What about you? Are there any old tunes that you just have to have in your writing playlist? What are some of your favorite bands from “back in the day”?

On Candy Crush and Writing

Ahhh, Candy Crush. I wish I could say that I have loads of self-control.That I was able to not succumb–yet again–to an online-Facebook game. But … I cannot. *grin* I mean, come in, cute rainbow-colored candies and nifty power-ups? Why, it’s like Bejeweled. But on crack. 😉

Candy Crush_Level

Looks complicated, huh?

In any case, I was incredibly lazy the weekend before last. My sister and I held a Slumber Party at our house, and so in preparation for this female-only gathering, I cleaned my house top-to-bottom, inside-out. I ran myself into the ground to make this place shiny and perfect for my guests. So what happened after this party? *crash*

My brain was not going to cooperate with my over-worked ass. Nope. So I lazed around all weekend and played … Candy Crush! I passed about 7 levels that weekend–woo hoo–and probably grew about a hundred new gray hairs in the process–boo! That’s when I realized how much Candy Crush is like writing. 🙂

It’s Addictive

Yes, yes, yes. Writing is like a drug for us writers. If we’re not writing, revising, editing, reading, thinking about writing, or making plans to write, then we’re grumpy as hell. And when we’re in our perfect little writing world doing any of these, we’re do deep in the hole that we don’t ever wanna come out and see the light of day. Just one more chapter to revise before bed.*wields red pen* 

Hmmm….. that sounds a lot like how I feel when I can’t get past a stupid level on Candy Crush! I’m addicted and have to keep playing to win the level. Just one more level, honey, and I’ll come to bed. Promise. 😉

Every Level is Like a Puzzle

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, at some point you have to stop writing and take a look at what’s on the page. Whether it’s at the end of the first draft and we need to map the bigger picture to ensure all the inner-workings are playing nice with one another, or if it’s a bit of plotting at a time as we’re writing that first draft, or if it’s before we even begin to type Chapter One. We look to decide how to move forward. What scene should go where. What’s the most logical follow-up to the scene we just wrote? Where does the character go from here? How do we get the Hero into the same room as the Heroine? How are they gonna serve it to the villain? Ugh, why won’t they just freakin’ cooperate already?!?

Again, this sounds pretty familiar. Because once you start getting into the higher levels on Candy Crush, you have to start thinking ahead. *gasp* There are obstacles in your way like jelly that you have to bust away, cages you need to spring a candy from, chocolate you must keep from growing and taking over the game board–er, wait … do we really want the chocolate to stop growing?

It’s Frustratingly Fun

At some point we all dart out of our chairs and threaten to throw our computers across the room. And instead of throwing our technological best friend against the wall, we walk away thinking that we’re never going to figure this scene/plot/character out. Never! BUT, after a nice, longer breather, we calm down, and suddenly the answer comes to us. So then we run back to our computers and BAM! We did it! We figured it out and we can move on. Am I right, or am I right? 🙂

Hehehe … yeah, this is me and Candy Crush. When I have to play a certain level more than 10 times to pass it, heck yeah my phone’s going to find itself breaking against a wall. Just kidding. Sort of. But in all seriousness, I keep coming back to it, like I do with writing. It doesn’t matter how frustrated the damn game makes me feel at times ’cause when it’s good, it’s good enough to outlast the smaller moments of frustration that I feel at not being smart enough to figure out the puzzle.

Candy Crush_Failed Level

Grrr….

Help! I’m Out of Lives. Help! I need more Moves to pass this level!

Every writer and author needs a good beta reader and/or critique partner. Someone to cheer us on, tell us we’ve got the power within us to make our stories shine. Whether online or in person, we have to not only surround ourselves with other writers/creative personalities, but we have to be willing to ask for the help!

In Candy Crush, you only have certain number of moves in which you can beat each level. And to make it a bit more interesting, you only have five lives. When you run out of your lives, you have to wait a certain amount of time before accruing more. *cries* But, wait! I have friends who also play Candy Crush. And they see that I’ve been stuck for a few days on this level. *checks Candy Crush inbox* WOO HOO! Friend A just gave me three extra moves and Friend B has given me a life. SCORE!

Candy Crush_Help Your Friends

Do Unto Others

It’s All a Part of Our Journey

Every word, every sentence, every line of dialogue, every scene, every chapter, every novel, every critique, every beta read, every blog post, every rejection and every acceptance are the building blocks that make up our writing journey. They are what makes us into better, stronger, NYT-bestselling-level writers. If we want to win at this publishing game, then we’ve gotta do the work. We’ve got to learn, master, and surpass every level of writing craft–especially if we wish to not only draw our readers in, but keep them wanting more.

We have to know when to sacrifice for our passion, when to take a break and decompress, when to stay up all night and when to listen to our bodies and go to bed. And we have to make smart investments with our money, energy and time. I have an hour before work. Should I write? Or should I play Candy Crush? *ponders* Writing it is!

Candy Crush_Journey

Wait, there’s more levels?!?

As of this morning, I’ve actually managed to stay off Candy Crush for 2 days. Okay, well, not completely. Because I want to continue to support my friends’ addiction to the game, I’ve logged in via cellphone and sent them lives and extra moves to help their progress. But other than that, no playing for this writer.

The new rule in my home is: No playing Candy Crush unless I write 500 fresh words. Oh! That means I get to play today since this post is well over 500 words, right? 🙂

What about you? Do you play Candy Crush? Can you think of additional writerly lessons from this game? Do you have another game-crack of choice? How do you abstain from playing?

Tune-In Tuesday: Titanium

Welcome back to another Tune-In Tuesday installment!

Who doesn’t love a song about strength? About facing down the world and telling ’em that no matter how many insults they fire at you, breaking is not an option. 🙂

Today’s song conveys just that–“Titanium” by David Guetta, featuring Sia.

Enjoy!

 

 

Happy Listening and Writing!