By the Numbers: October 2013

Books

Total read since January: 33
(target is 36 by December, to be on track I should have read 24 books by now)

Big reading month! I am just three books away from hitting my goal for the year and I have two more months! Probably a good thing, too. I don’t think I’ll be doing much reading next month… November is for writing! Anyway, here’s what I read:

  • Outlining Your Novel — I forgot I’d purchased this one. Then one day I decided I needed an outline for my work in progress project and dug this up on my Kindle. If you are working on a writing project that is feeling like it’s getting a little complicated, or if you are not quite sure where you are going with your story, I highly recommend checking out this book. Even if you are devoted to the “pantser” camp… you may just discover (as I did) that life on the other side really isn’t that different — it’s really just organized notes, not a soulless, Roman Numeral dotted doc that you must then follow mindlessly. The author of this book has some excellent advice that you can put to use immediately. (Longer review on Goodreads…)
  • Booby Trap — My manager at my previous job is a breast cancer survivor and she wrote and published this book about her experience. She wrote most of it while she was undergoing treatment, and based this book on blog posts she was writing for her friends and family. The book provides an inside scoop about the breast cancer experience and manages to be light hearted and even funny. I recommend it if you or someone you know is going through something similar. Or if you’re just curious. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Allison, and knowing more about what she went through and how she handled it (I could totally picture her and her husband and kids while I was reading this) just added to that respect.
  • The Great Gatsby — re-read this for the first time since high school. I remember loving this book in high school, so much so that I kept my copy of the book (instead of returning it to the school at the end of the class). I’m now tempted to go dig up the paper I wrote about this book in high school so that I can see what “deep thoughts” I had as a teenager about this book.
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns — I had been thinking about getting this one for a while and it ended up on a Kindle Daily Deal, so I pounced on it. I think I tore through it in a weekend. The story is a bit of a twist on your average epic heroine fantasy adventure. The heroine, for one, is not your typical heroine. She’s very devout, and pretty much eats her feelings. But she’s “chosen” so you know there’s gonna be an adventure. There is also some romance, but no love triangle (thank you! so sick of the damn love triangles!). One of the main dudes in the story has a mustache (also different!). The book is flavored with all sorts of things that aren’t quite what you’d expect that make this feel like a “new” story, instead of the old same thing. If you enjoy feisty ladies going on adventures and saving the world, you should check this out.
  • The Shambling Guide to New York City — This one was kind of a surprise. I stumbled on this author based on a recommendation somewhere on the interwebs. I think she might have won a best first novel award or something. I thought her book looked interesting, and it was reasonably priced on Kindle, so I took a chance. I ended up devouring this book. It’s a fast, fun read along the lines of Christopher Moore (especially his novel A Dirty Job, which is my favorite of the ones I’ve read). If you like books and TV shows about monsters living among us, you should definitely check out this book.

I feel a little bad that I was kind of stingy with the stars this month in my Goodreads reviews. I’ve been taking a UC Berkeley Extension class called “Developing the Novel” and working on my own thing, plus workshoping my classmates’ work. So, I’m a little more critical than usual of writing and story craft. These were all good books, but all got three stars because I was being picky about the writing, character development, and/or the plot structure. At the same time, since I know how hard it is to do those things really well, I don’t want to criticize.

Writing

I didn’t blog this month. That was kind of on purpose. I didn’t have much to say. There is a lot going on and I needed a break. I did finish my Mystery Fiction class, and I wrote a bunch on my chosen work in progress project for my Developing the Novel class. I got into a pretty good groove of writing almost daily for the past couple of weeks. I discovered Scrivener which is a software program for writers (fiction and non-fiction), and has this awesome little progress bar that shows how you are progressing to your daily word count goal. I love it. But I have a feeling there won’t be too much blogging for the rest of this year. I’m going to focus on finishing up my work in process project. I’ll blog if I feel the urge, but otherwise things may be a little quiet around here until January.

Swimming

My US Masters Swimming FLOG (Fitness Log) says I swam:

  • 15 of 31 days (target was ~20 days)
  • 27.73 miles (target was ~30 miles)

This month was part taper and part recovery with one big, 2-day race in the middle. I’ve already blown past my goal of 250 miles for this year. As of today I’m at 285 miles for the year. I am hoping to get to 340 miles for the year. That would be an average of about a mile a day for 365 days with about two weeks off. I have no races for the rest of the year, just training and getting psyched for the spring short course yards racing season that kicks off in January.

Movies

Oh the movies this month… I think we got four really good movies from Netflix this month. I expected one or two to be good, but was totally impressed with (at least aspects of) all four. Unfortunately, I’ve spent so long writing the other bits that it’s getting late. I’ll keep this brief…

  • Much Ado About Nothing — Just watch this. Shakespeare’s words in a modern day setting. It’s so good. And I’m not just saying that because Joss Whedon made this.
  • The Great Gatsby — The update. The Leo version. Great soundtrack. Too much “old boy.” And what is it about Tobey Maguire that I find so annoying? Leo is actually really good in this. So is Carey Mulligan.
  • Galaxy Quest — OMG. How did I miss this? SO GOOD. It’s like an inside joke for sci fi fans. And Alan Rickman is amazing. Also, Tim Allen is really good in this. Hell, the whole cast is great. If you haven’t seen this movie, just go watch it.
  • Iron Man 3 — So, I loved the first Iron Man movie. The second was meh. The Avengers was great. Thor and Captain America were both terrible. I’m kind of getting sick of super heros. I had no idea what to expect here. I watched it out of loyalty to the franchise and because of Robert Downey Jr. So I was totally unprepared to really like this movie. It’s a good movie. I was amazed. And, spoiler, they don’t do the damsel in distress thing. I mean, they trick you into thinking that they are going that way, and then they don’t! Hurrah! I still don’t think it would pass the Bechdel Test, but… I’ll give them credit for progress.

Tomorrow starts my second most favorite month of the year… NOVEMBER!!! November is exactly half-way to my birthday month, and it’s the first real month where the weather gets colder (relatively speaking… it is California…) and it feels like you should be cozying up with a book and a mug of tea next to the fire. Or, writing a novel, because November is also NaNoWriMo. So there’s that. I can’t wait!

Advertisements