Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Reads

I read 12 books in January, so I am currently ahead on my GoodReads challenge (120 books)!

Here’s the list:

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions (anthology) by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
Vacations From Hell (anthology) by Libba Bray and others
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
Surviving First Drafts by Erica Crouch
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Horizon by Alyson Noel
His Lovely Wife by Elizabeth Dewberry

I initially intended to write about my favorite read of the month, but I’d rather talk about an interesting mish-mash that happened. (Yes, I know. I have a whole post about two books playing together in my mind. Apparently this happens to me often.)

I listened to the audiobook of War of the Worlds while I drove to and from work during the same time period that I was reading Dreamcatcher. I have read Dreamcatcher before, and honestly, it wasn’t my favorite. I’m not really a fan of alien stories.

Which makes it strange that I was in the midst of two alien stories at the same time…. Let’s call it kismet, shall we?

What I found is that is a lot of interplay between the two stories. Clearly, Stephen King read (or listened to) War of the Worlds. If you are paying attention, you can find it echoing throughout Dreamcatcher. The red fungus, the alien inside another being (although this plays out very differently in the two stories), and the military response (again, this plays very differently) are found in both stories.

 King certainly did not copy the classic story. His story is more of an homage, just a nod to the original. I liked finding hidden nuggets. They made me smile and say “I see what you did there, Mr. King.”

I also found myself wondering how much of the echo was deliberate and how much happened without any conscious thought. I find this in my own writing all the time. I will read something that I wrote, and see things that I read months or years ago lurking in the shadows of my story.

Something else I realized about myself: I am incredibly stingy with my stars on GoodReads. The more I write, the worse this gets. I can’t help it. When I read a book, I see the spots I would tweak, adjust, nudge to make the story even better.

Maybe I need a curve for my GoodReads ratings?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A New Beginning

I sit on the edge of the pallet and look down at Tomas. So beautiful when he sleeps. It’s the only time I ever really see his face at peace.

My eyes move from his closed eyes and slightly open mouth to my own hands. They are cupped together in my lap, forming a cocoon around the gift I have brought him. The gift I am not sure he will want. The gift I am not sure I should have brought him.

I catch my bottom lip between my teeth, worry the delicate tissue until I feel the trickle of warmth, taste the tang of blood. I lick my lips and blow out a breath.


His eyelids flicker, but don’t open.

I shift my hands so that the gift is held in only my left hand and use my right to brush across his brow. “Tomas. Wake up.”

He still doesn’t open his eyes. His breathing has not changed. So I lean forward and rest my lips against his.

I feel him pull in a deep breath, feel his lips curve into a smile against my mouth. “Good morning,” I whisper.

“Good morning to you, too.” I feel his arms curl around my back. He pulls me close, tucks me into the space at his side, my head under his chin. “Your skin is freezing,” he says and rubs my arm to drive away the gooseflesh.

“It’s cold outside.” I pretend that it’s not cold in our home. We both do.

“What were you doing outside?” Tomas pulls back so that he can see my face. He knows I can’t lie if he’s looking at me.

“I ran an errand.”

He raises an eyebrow and waits. I wait longer.

“Where did you go?”

My eyes flicker away from his and I bite my lip again. His hand moves to my chin, pulls my lip free. “Kell. Where did you go?”

“To the store.”

Tomas pulls his arm from under my head and sits up, his legs crossed in front of him. I mirror his movements so that we end up sitting face to face. I take a deep breath. The gift is heavy in my hand.

“The store.” He says it as a statement. In reality, it is a very loaded question.

I nod. “I got you a gift.” My hand shakes as I hold it out to him. I turn my hand over and uncurl my fingers, exposing the gift resting on my palm. “I got two.”

My eyes are locked on his eyes. His eyes are locked on my hand.

“We can do it together,” I say when he remains silent and still.

He finally moves. His hand reaches for mine and curls my fingers back over the two blue pills nestled in the palm of my hand.

Once the pills are out of sight he finally looks at me. “Kell.” Again his statement is a question. How? Why? I hear these and a hundred other questions in the one syllable of my name.

“This is our chance to start over, Tomas. We can have a new beginning. Leave this behind us.” I look away from his face, the only thing I don’t want to leave behind. Everything else I see I would pay to forget. I already have.

“We had just enough for two.” I can’t look at him when I say this. Can’t see his face when he realizes I have trapped him into agreeing. Either we take the pills or we starve.

I feel his gaze heavy on my face. Then the gentle brush of his fingers across my cheek. “Okay,” he breathes. I don’t like the sound of resignation in his voice. The guilt that coils in my gut in response.

The sooner we take the pills, the sooner the memory of this moment, this betrayal, will be wiped from both of our minds. We will be reset.

“They’ll keep us together,” I offer. “Any washed that are found together are planted together, right? We’ll just start over. Fresh. Not here.” I keep trying to break his silence. “I love you.”

Tomas pulls my fingers open and takes one of the pills between his thumb and forefinger. “Remember me,” he says. We swallow the pills.

I lean across the gulf between us and kiss him. I hope the warmth of him on my lips will stay with me, be the first thing I feel when I wake anew.

We tip to our sides. We are gone.

Monday, January 4, 2016

My 2015 in Numbers

A fresh, shiny new year has begun. All of the counters have rolled back to zero. We are starting anew.

Before we get too far in, I thought I should take a look at the year that just ended (and set some goals for this leap year):

I walked 3,430,462 steps. That is over 1446 miles! I could have crossed Italy twice.
Goal for 2016: 3.5 million steps

I started tracking books read through GoodReads, as well as words written in July.

In the last half of the year, I read 74 books. My last post listed five of my favorites of the year.
Goals for 2016:
Read 120 books
Monthly blog post with my favorite of the month

In the last half of the year, I wrote 144,139 words. The bulk of those words are in the first drafts of the two novels I wrote this year and over 30 short stories.
Goals for 2016:
Revisions of both first drafts
Query at least 10 agents
3 new first drafts (novels)
75 short stories

Do you have any amazing stats for the year? Goals for 2016?