Fall Reading 2017 – Herbstlesen: Day 9

Good morning! I actually was so busy doing nothing yesterday evening that I forgot to post another update (sorry). And when I remembered the wifi was already turned off. (Because of the teenager in the house (and because I don’t have any discipline at all) our wifi turns off at 9 pm sharp so that certain people don’t stay up way too late because of the internet.)

I did end the day watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, the first episode ever where we see the Klingon home planet and learn more about Worf’s family, that was very good.

 

I still haven’t finished „Murder Over Mochas“* but I guess I will do so today, only one more hour to read. I’m still waiting for something surprising to happen but I guess it will pretty soon. When you only read a minute here or there things always seem to move slowly. But then there are books where it’s completely impossible to only read a minute here and a minute there because they are so captivating. But then that’s not why you read cozy mystery.

So I’ll just read more of what I read yesterday, unless I finish the mystery real quick and start something new. I just realized that I had bought book three of the Bobiverse novels and have never read it. It’s a pity when there are all these great books coming out, and I snap them up the minute I see them, and then I completely forget about them.

If things go according to plan I might also spend some time thinking about the novel-to-be. But I bet I’ll be procrastinating instead. I’m really good at that, even.

 

Links marked with an asterisk * are affiliate links. If you buy through them I get a tiny percentage at no additional cost to you, and that helps me keep up this blog.

 

 

Fall Reading 2017 – Herbstlesen: Day 3

Day 3 of our cozy reading thing in October. (In case you’re wondering it will go on every weekend until the end of October as far as I know.)

I’m planning to maybe get a thing or two done today, and still have time to sit down and finish reading „The Delirium Brief“*. I also picked up „Why We Sleep“* again but I’m not quite in the mood for non-fiction.

Today I even managed to remember to take a picture of my breakfast (food pictures are a thing for this event) though I’m afraid it’s not looking much.

IMG 0915

Imagine yummy blueberries, banana, amd muesli under the heap of yogurt, and honey would have been more photogenic than rice sirup but rice sirup has less fructose which is a good thing if you’re fructose-intolerant.

So I’ll update this post periodically. Only 40 more pages until the end of the novel I’m reading, it’s getting pretty tense.

 

Update 4 pm:

Well, actually the only thing I have done so far was reading, playing games on my iPad, refreshing instagram, and finish reading „The Delirium Brief“. Oh my, this one is so good! And now I’ll have to wait for the next in the series to find our what happens next which is really unbearable.

I also helped make lunch. We had chili for the second time this week because there were ripe avocados in need of being eaten. Also an excellent pinot that was already open:

IMG 0916

Seems I need to work on my picture-taking skills. One of these days they’ll turn out less blurry.

I also worked a little more on the crochet blanket I showed you last week, and ran out of yarn knitting my Easy sahwl by Martina Behm. This is the second time this has happened. Each time I’m knitting along, hoping to be able to finish the shawl, only to run out of yarn shortly before the end. The first time I had thought I had a 150 gram skein when in fact it’s only 100 grams, and this time I had weighed everything really carefully, and ran out six rows before the end.

IMG 0917

There might have been a way to fudge it but I didn’t want to so I ripped half of it back (and a bit more so that I won’t run out of yarn the next time, and started knitting i for the third time.

I am getting a little sick of the project but I have to say I’m getting good knitting mileage out of this yarn.

I’m not quite sure what novel to start reading next so I went back to „The Freelancer’s Survival Guide“* by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I started this back in August and have found it really good and fascinating. Also somewhat tough but that’s a good thing.

For fiction I’m waflling between J. F. Penn’s „Gates of Hell“*Estelle Ryan’s „The Braque Connection“, and reading samples that I have downloaded. Discarding some of those from my ereader would be a good thing but usually I just end up putting most of them into the „to be bought later“-folder which doesn’t really solve anything.

 

Update 7.45 pm:

I never really gave up hope to do something productive today but the only thing I did get done was making a list of things to talk about on my knitting podcast for the next episode. I do an English episode every ten episodes where I talk about everything I talked about before which is rather epic. I also want to mention that due to the layout of this blog links are really hard to read because hypothetically they are gray and the regular text is black but – because I turned the background color to a pale yellow – they actually look the exact same. Sorry. So if you have an inkling that something might be a link just let your mouse hover over it to see if it actually is a link.

There was a point where I thought I’d keep my writing stuff and the rest of my life separate but that’s not really me. So if you’re interested in knitting and maybe also understand German follow the link above to my knitting podcast.

The one thing I did get done as well – apart from watching an episode of „How I Met Your Mother“ while eating dinner (and again – no picture) was to watch the second one of Nick Stephenson’s free videos about marketing. While crocheting a bit more on my blanket. I really hate video because you have to sit down and listen and watch but it’s bearable while doing something else.

IMG 0918

Sorry, the crochet is really dark. We have this awesome energy-saving lightbulbs everywhere in the house that make taking pictures really hard when it’s dark. Anyways, he got me all riled up about marketing and being a professional author (which I’m not quite yet), and so I just went and bought the Susanne Winter domain name, and some web hosting. So if everything goes right (which it should) I’ll write from the new and shiny susannewinter.com-site next week. (Unfortunately it isn’t live yet. Bummer.)

I still haven’t worked on the novel today, and judging by the time and my Oktoberfest-beer-level nothing in that realm will happen today. But still. Progress. In a way. At least I have a round crocheted on this blanket, and I finished reading a novel. And started reading „Reader Magnets“ by – you guess it – Nick Stephenson.

I’m really looking forward to next weekend’s „Herbstlesen“ and to see you guys again. For now I’m out, I need to get up early again tomorrow because my son needs to go to school, and I like making him breakfast.

 

* Affiliate-Link. If you buy through this link it doesn’t add any cost for you but gives me a small percentage. Thanks.

Fall Reading 2017 – Herbstlesen: Day 2

Like last weekend I’ll participate in the cozy „Herbstlesen“-event that the Winterkatze puts up again. Though I have to say there won’t be as much reading today as there was last Sunday because the day I have planned is busy, busy, busy.

So first I’ll do the dishes, and then I’ll go for a run, and help making lunch, and in the afternoon I hope to record another episode of my knitting podcast.

I am currently reading „The Delirium Brief“ by Charles Stross which is excellent, and has me on the edge of my seat. I can barely put it down, and will probably finish that this weekend. It is the eighth novel in the „Laundry Files“ series and I recommend starting with the first book. If you’re anything like me you will then just speedread through them all.

Yesterday I read my way through the short „The Healthy Professional Writer“. I did like it even though I only took a few things from it. I think this would be excellent for writers who suffer from migraines (which I don’t) but I still found it fascinating to read about the author’s journey to health. I like it that she stresses the fact that there is no one true way for every one but that we need to listen to our bodies and find out what is good for us.

The other non-fiction book I’m reading is „Why We Sleep“. Really good book too, only I’m not sure if I’ll have the head space to follow along today. I’m still stuck in the first part where he shows all the benefits we get from sleep, and what can go wrong if we don’t get enough of it. Which is somewhat terrifying and has me want to put in more effort in getting enough sleep. (And I’m typing this rather tired because we went out to see a band or two last night.)

So I’ll come back and do updates on this post periodically over the day, I only don’t know how many.

Update 3 pm:

I went running, and it was really enjoyable, seems things are changing for the better.

Letzter Import  1 von 3  2

Then my husband and I made spaghetti bolognese. I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture. Then dishes, then a piece of cake and some more reading.

Letzter Import  1 von 3

I’m 70% into „The Delirium Brief“ and things are picking up. If I could as I want I’d spend the rest of the day reading.

 

Update 6.20 pm:

Well, that didn’t go as planned. On the bright side I did spend more time reading than I had thought I would. On the not so bright side I was not able to prepare the podcast episode because the blog with the shownotes was down for most of the afternoon. So I just gave in, read all the internet and a little in my book. Which I’m really enjoying still.

The bad thing is that I will need to get everything done tomorrow. Humpf.

But now it’s time for dinner. Then reading. It feels like I am in need of a day off. Yet again. But „The Delirium Brief“ ist still rather riveting. I’m on page 296 and we’re approaching showdown. (Still 90 pages to go so there will be room enough for things to get much worse before the end.

Fall Reading 2017 – Herbstlesen 2017

So the Winterkatze is doing her annual fall reading challenge again. I have been enjoying reading about it on her blog, and the other’s and so I thought it would be fun to participate as well. Now the problem is that the whole thing is in German while this blog is not.

I hope you don’t mind much.

The rules are that you spend a day doing the things you love that make you feel good (as much as possible) which includes reading, and then you write about it on your blog. Most people make updates to their posts several times in the course of the day.

I woke up at six which was a little early, and immeditaly started reading „The Dante Connection“* by Estelle Ryan. It’s the second in a series of mystery novels. The main character works for an insurance company that specializes in art. She is autistic with a special interest in reading body language. I had really enjoyed reading the first in the series „The Gauguin Connection“ which I had picked up for free a couple of months ago. Since the third in the series was free some time last month I decided to also buy the second one, and get the third.

I had hoped to finish reading that one yesterday but I got distracted by non-fiction again.

While eating breakfast (and I forgot to take a picture; just imagine a bowl of müsli with yogurt) I switched to reading Hal Higdon’s „Half Marathon Training“*. I started reading that last year when I was training for a half marathon, then I injured my hip, and had to stop running for a few months. since I’m now back to running I picked it up again. So far it has mostly been inspiring stories about people who run. Which is nice but not what I need right now. I’m hoping for a bit more meat and information soon. I’m also not sure if I should follow his training plan. I’m thinking of going from running three times a week to four times but that training pan would have me run five times a week which means I would have to seriously change my life around to fit in the other bits.

I then made the weekly spread in my bullet journal which got me started thinking about NaNoWriMo. I’m nost sure if I should participate this year because I probably won’t be finished with revision on novel three by then. I don’t really want to start yet another novel without any planning, world-building or outlining, and I don’t think I will have time to do any of that in October. But that reminded me about „The Story Grid“* by Shawn Coyne which I had been meaning to work through in August. Working through anything won’t happen soon so I’m thinking I maybe should just go ahead and read it, and hope that things stick.

I’m still reading the part where he explains how he found the blueprint to story, and I keep wishing he’d cut to the chase. And yes, I know I could skip ahead, but I really don’t like to.

Update 2.30 pm:

Not all that much reading since, I did crochet some, and while doing that I couldn’t really read because the pattern is pretty complicated, and I need to look at every single stitch and count all the time. (The pattern is called Sophie’s Universe, and it’s gorgeous.)

Letzter Import  1 von 4  2

I also did my usual singing and piano warm-up, and made spätzle for lunch.

Letzter Import  1 von 4  3

I’d really like to finish reading „The Dante Connection“ today. I will also spend a little time typing in revision changes in the novel I’m currently working on. There’s a ton of new scenes I need to type in, and so far I have managed to reduce the thing from 63,000 to 56,000 words. Which is much too short. I’m seeing another round of revision in my future. Have I mentioned that I don’t really like revision? But as often the only way out is through. (Well, that and giving up but I don’t really like giving up most of the time.)

The Winterkatze pointed out to me that this is not a ‚challenge‘ per se, and that there really are no rules, my bad. Otherwise discussion in the (German) comments was about the half marathon training which sounds more impressive than it is at the moment, so far I have run 5K once (which took me all of 45 minutes which shows you how very slow I am), and the Winterkatzes giving me helpful tips about my potential NaNoWriMo project. I don’t think I will write short stories or novellas set in the universe I’m currently working in, though. I am really, really looking forward to writing something different. I’ve been working on this trilogy, and the skills I need to be able to finsh them properly for years now.

I might heartlessly abandon the trilogy for a few weeks, though, and plan and start something new. But then finishing has a really high priority as well. Maybe I’ll manage to finish revision of 1 1/4 novels over the next three weeks, and then I can plan a new series until the beginning of November.

Yeah, probably not.

Update 8.15 pm:

I spent the afternoon on the internet, and doing more crochet, and reading some more of „The Dante Connection“ but not enough to finish, and I did a load of laundry, and some light strength training. Then was dinner (sorry, no picture), and then I watched „Star Trek: The New Generation“ and „How I Met Your Mother” with my son while knitting on the Easy shawl by Martina Behm.

Letzter Import  1 von 1

I’m going offline now but I’ll be reading a bit more in bed.

That was a really nice Sunday spent with you guys, thanks, and I’m looking forward to next weekend to do it all again.



* Affiliate-Link. If you buy through this link it doesn’t add any cost for you but gives me a small percentage. Thanks.

State of the thing – September 2017

Well, time flies when you’re having fun.

I did a little bit of traveling, and found that summer break does not mean vast amounts of time to spend on novel-revision. I mean I should have known, that’s what always happens.

I found a first reader for novel one. I delivered the thing to her on paper, all printed out, at the end of August but haven’t heard back yet.

By now novel two really is almost revised. I am currently doing the type-in of all the changes that I made to the paper copy. Of course I estimated that I could finish that this week. Since I’m now on page 41 with only three more days to go I might have to adjust my estimate. Maybe.

Book three is laying around doing nothing. I think I might be able to finally write the end after finishing this editing round on novel two.

Next steps will be: read through novel one aloud and then find some more beta readers, finish type-in of novel two, and then read through it again, and then finish rough draft of novel three.

Working on three novels at once does have advantages. I can make sure that book one doesn’t have anything in it that contradicts novel three but it sure feels like I’m not really making progress.

Onwards and upwards I say.

State of the thing May 2017

So it’s slow going but when is it not?

The first in the „Magically Real“ trilogy is exactly in the same place as last December, only I read through it again, and I still like it, which is good. I will have to check if I can leave the song lyrics in there because of copyright issues, if not I will have to find a way to evoke the same kind of feelings with my own words instead. Aprt from checking that out my next step will be to put the novel through grammerly and to read it aloud to myself.

The second book is almost revised. Which sounds better than it is. I have started to become very weary of the word „almost“. As my husband says, „Almost done usually means about fifty percent.“ I am at the point of revision where I have a plan what I want to change and how, so that the actual cutting will be not too painful. So the next step for that will be to actually cut the manuscript and put the new things in that I think were missing and then to go through it again to look at it as a whole.

And the third book is what I’m activiely working on at the moment. I had hoped to finish the rough draft by the end of April but I still have about 5,000 to 7,000 more words to write on that. There was a big music project demanding my time and energy at the beginning of May, and that meant I didn’t write anything for two weeks. Which was okay, and which I had planned for in advance. But afterwards I didn’t quite get back to writing, and that has been rather frustrating. So that will be the next thing I tackle, finishing that first draft.

I never quite managed to do a complete outline for that book. Which is a big mistake, and I believe that’s the reason why writing this takes so long. When I have no idea what to write next I have a lot of days when I open the document, stare at it for ten minutes or so, and then I close the document again, and that’s that for the day. I always tell myself that I’ll think about the story for the rest of the day and write some at night but I never do.

But.

I did plan the next few scenes out, this time with pen on paper, and so I hope that I’ll be writing them over the course of next week, and then that rough draft will be done. I’ll implement the revisions to book two over the rest of the month, then have a quick look at book number one, and then spend July working on revising book three. I hope. I will also travel for a week in June, so I’m not quite sure how productive I’ll be then. For revision I work with a ton of worksheets and the printed out manuscript, and I don’t really want to lug that around for a week.

Maybe I should use that week to brainstorm ideas for the book after that. I’m thinking of starting a new series. That would be cool.

The new thing around the corner always feels more exciting than the old thing you’ve been working on for quite some time, doesn’t it?

The lure of the free ebook

I made the bad mistake of subscribing to the BookBub newsletter a couple of weeks ago. Or maybe it wasn’t a mistake. It’s just that now I’m getting this newsletter once a day with books recommended to me that I will probably like, and all of these books are either free or very, very cheap. Like the four book box set of cozy mysteries I bought last month that was only 99 Cents.

So my ereader is bulging at the seams, I have more books I want to read than ever and I don’t quite know what to do.

I only get free ebooks if I’m very sure I will enjoy them because otherwise they just sit there and I feel guilty about them and they’re no fun. But I already had like 120 books on my to-be-read pile beforehand and wasn’t making any real progress with that because I kept buying new books.

And I really like the books I got, and I also like getting my books cheap when I can because buying all these books does cost quite a bit of money.

So I’m in a bit of a conundrum here. Unsubscribing from the newsletter would be good for me because then my pile of unread books might get smaller eventually. But then through the newsletter I keep finding authors that I love and books that I love for cheap.

I’m thinking there is only one course of action possible:

I will stop reading anything on the internet and from now on read only books. No blogs, no instagram, no twitter, no forums, no magazines. Books only. At a rate of maybe one book every two days.

Let me see, that would be between five and eight hours per fiction book, that’s about 400 hours for fiction, and about 300 hours for non-fiction, that’s 700 hours divided over the course of the next year, that’s completely doable.

I only need to stop buying books and read for two hours a day, and then I’ll have read every single books I own. Piece of cake…

Books I read In February

It seems that February was not quite as good a reading month as January. Might be because it was shorter. Also I had a week off at the beginning of January which means more reading time, and a weekend of houseguests and rehearsals in February which definitely makes for less reading time.

Non-Fiction:

  1. Peter Bregman: Four Seconds. All the Time You Need to Replace Counter-Productive Habits with Ones That Really Work*
  2. Chris Fox: 5,000 Words per Hour* (This book is also available for free when you join Chris Fox’ mailing list.)
  3. Chris Fox: Lifelong Writing Habit*
  4. Steven Pressfield: Turning Pro*

Fiction:

  1. Kim Harrison: The Operator*
  2. Lilith Saintcrow: The Iron Wyrm Affair*
  3. Lilith Saintcrow: The Red Plague Affair*
  4. Lilith Saintcrow: The Ripper Affair*
  5. Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy: Him*

So not a lot of books, and most of the non-fiction ones pretty slim too.

As always they were all excellent, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished them. From the non-fiction „Four Seconds“ really stood out to me. I do read a lot of self-help and productivity books. They always make me feel better and productive even if I don’t change anything about my life because of them.

This one had a plethora of helpful tips, every one started with a story. And at the end of each chapter there was a little box where the point of the chapter was helpfully explained in a few sentences. Very neat.

The four seconds refers to the time it takes to breathe in and out. That’s all it takes to get yourself to think before acting, to not do the things that comes instictively every time. I’m sure I will be rereading this at some point, and I found that it has already given me a way to handle some sorts of awkward social situations better.

And that’s what the book focuses on, how to handle yourself and other people and how to as it says in the title „replace counter-productive habits“ of which most of us have one or two.

As for the fiction you can clearly see that I was really liking the Lilith Saintcrow books. It is a series set in an alternate Victorian London, and it is steampunk. The main characters, Emma Bannon and Archibarld Clare, are a sorceress (there is institutionalized magic in this world) and a „mentath“, someone who is highly logical and analytical, even more so than a mere genius.

Clare is clearly inspired by Sherlock Holmes but manages to be completely different at the same time. The two of them are thrown together to investigate some strange happenings and murders. All three of the books are highly enjoyable. The world is marvelously built, very well done. And I espcially enjoyed the rather complex relationships between the characters. I had expected the two of the main characters to fall in love with each other, of course, but things were definitely more complex than that.

I really hope that there will be another book in the series. There is one connected to it, „The Damnation Affair“. I’m only a few pages in but so far it looks like it not only has a completely different setting, there have been completely different characters as well, even though it is set the same universe.

So much fun.

What did you read last month? Anything you think I might enjoy?

 

* all links are affiliate links

 

Books I read in January

Let’s just pretend that I actually finished writing the posts about which book I read in the motnsh between May and now as well, okay?

I was somewhat dissatisfied with the format. I’m thinking for real book reviews I should put more into it but just the title and if I liked said book. But then I thought, „How long do I want this to get?“ and „Nobody will want to read the epic 3,000 word posts.”

So I’m trying something new.

I will be making a list of all the books I read, and then I’ll talk about one or two fiction and non-fiction that I particularly liked.

And I will try to actually write these once a month.

Non-Fiction:

  1. Rachel Hoffmann: Unf*ck Your Habitat*
  2. Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck*
  3. Joanna Penn: Successful Self-Publishing*
  4. Joanna Penn: The Successful Author Mindset*
  5. Michelle McGagh: The No-Spend Year*

Fiction:

  1. S.K. Dunstall: Confluence*
  2. Ilona Andrews: Magic Steals (novella)*
  3. J.F.Penn: London Crime Thriller Trilogy*
  4. J.F.Penn: Day of the Vikings*
  5. Arthur Slade: Amber Fang. The Hunted*
  6. Seanan Mc Guire: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day*

Now first of all all of these books were excellent. There was none that I wouldn’t gladly reread. And no, I have no idea why I started the year with two books with swearing in the title.

You can see that I was on a real Joanna Penn kick, especially when you know that Joanna Penn and J.F. Penn are the same person.

I found her fabulous podcast through Rachael Herron’s equally fabulous podcast and will now be making my way through all of her books one after the other. Rachel Hofmann wrote a book on how to get a grip on your housework. Not only is it an extension of her blog with the same name, there are also most helpful tips in there. I’m not quite sure why I enjoy reading that kind of book so much but since it’s a rather harmless quirk I keep on buying and reading them.

I think „The No-Spend Year“ will be the one that will stay with me the most. In addition to my love of books about organizing, productivity and how to get a grip on housework I also adore reading about minimalism. Not that I’m planning of becoming a minimalist myself. While I am in the middle of decluttering I have too much stuff that I absolutely love and don’t want to part with.

And apart from buying too many books I’m not all that much about shopping for fun anyways.

But going so radical as McGagh who set herself a challenge for one year to only pay necessary bills, buy food and very basic toiletries (she really regretted not having made moisturizer a basic necessity after a rather short time), that was mindblowing to read. Very interesting. And like many she found the experience ultimately made her life richer for it which is contrary to what one would think.

In the past I had also read Mark Boyle’s book „The Moneyless Man“. Also very enlightening. Not that I want to live that way, again, but still. Big recommendation.

But then again I can heartily recommend any of the non-fiction books I read.

 

Now with the fiction, again, all of them were very, very good. But then if I don’t like a book I will mostly just not finish it.

As for the best I’d say that’s a tie between „Confluence“ which is the third in the Linesmen series and the stand-alone ghost story novella by McGuire „Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day“.

„Confluence“ continues the story of the two books before, of course. It is science fiction, we’re in a big universe full of planets where humans live, and they find an alien ship that uses „line technology“ to travel between the stars. Also for all kinds of technical things. The first book started with a linesman, one of the people who can control that technology, who is rather unusual. And then they find yet another ship and things get interesting. Now in the third book we’re in the middle of a conflict between different factions, alliances of planets, and the people we started to care about in the two books before end up right in the middle, of course.

The book is told from different character’s perspectives which this time threw me a bit but in the books before I had rather liked that way of telling. Anyways I’m eagerly wating for a fourth one. (I hope there will be one but I have no idea.)

Seanan McGuire now is one of the authors where it’s probably safe to read everything by her. Though I have to say that I have shied away fom the zombie novels so far, I’m not sure I want to read about zombies. But I’ve read everything October Daye I could get my hands on.

Now I don’t usually read ghost stories (though I don’t really have a reason, I just don’t) but this one was excellent. And the concept was really intriguing. The main character ist a ghost. Ghosts are people who died before their time, and they can stay on earth until their time is up. The interesting thing on top of that is that for them time doesn’t need to be linear. So they can give and take time from the living.

This particular ghost thinks she has to earn her time on earth by helping people. And then there is great big danger to all the ghosts, and she needs to jump right into the middle of that. Of course.

Very satisfying and entertaining read.

Oh, and I also wanted to add that „Amber Fang“ was extremely enjoyable and entertaining to read. I really hop Arthur Slade will write the next in the series soon.

So, what are you reading? Any tips for what I should look at?

* all links are affiliate links