By the Numbers: November 2013

Books

Total read since January: 34
(target is 36 total in 2013 — to be on track I should have read 33 books by now)

I read only one book this month: Fangirl. I started it on the bus after work on a Friday and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning finishing it. It’s true that I was starved for a story because I was participating in NaNoWriMo and I’d been devoting all my outside of work free time to writing. But this is also one of those books that you’ll want to devour in one sitting. The characters are well crafted and the romance is really well done. The plot is very “new adult,” focusing on the classic transition to adulthood — going off to college — and all the drama that can contain for someone not so keen on leaving home.

Theme-wise, I found it fitting that I chose to finally read this book (that I’d been hearing so much about) smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo because the main character in the book is a writer, and most of the story revolves around her writing lots and lots of words. For additional inspiration points, the author wrote most of this book during NaNoWriMo. In my world, this makes this pretty much the perfect thing to read for inspiration during NaNoWriMo.

Even though I read only one book this month, I’ve been buying books like crazy. Several hundred (it feels like…) books on my “to read” list ended up with their Amazon Kindle versions on sale this month. So, I’ve used up the last of my birthday gift card buying ALL THE BOOKS. I have a two week vacation at the end of December and I plan to get some serious reading time in. Here are some of the titles I bought this month:

  1. Suddenly Royal (a little sugary “new adult” romance never hurt anyone…)
  2. Three Parts Dead (urban fantasy, weird combo of demons and lawyers…)
  3. The Book Thief (have to read it before I see the movie)
  4. The Amulet of Samarkand (magicians in London? sound familiar to anyone else?)
  5. Legend (I have ridiculously high hopes for this book, it hits all my buttons: dystopia, military, heroine, Western US States break off from the country to form The Republic…)
  6. Outlander (the girls at my last job could not stop talking about this time travel Highlander romance… +1 for ginger beards)
  7. The 5th Wave (alien invasion, sci-fi fiction)
  8. Lean In (it was on sale… I’m extremely skeptical, but decided to see what all the hype is about)
  9. Leviathan (steampunk, WW1-era fiction)

I won’t even get into my whole TBR pile (virtual and/or physical) in this post because it’s grown so large I am sure I have enough books right now to meet my 2014 reading goal and still have some left over.

Writing

This has been a HUGE month for writing. I finished my second-to-last UC Berkeley Extension program class (Developing the Novel), I found an awesome writing group, and I participated in NaNoWriMo. I probably wrote more words this month that I had for the entire year leading up to November.

I spent most of the month behind on my word count and actually only wrote on 21 of the 30 days this month (~2,381 words per day on average). Going in to the last 3 days of the month I had about 11k words left to write to “win” NaNoWriMo. I made it across the finish line, but didn’t really get to a full resolution on the story. I have quite a bit more work to do to fix it up. More world-building, more plotting, more characterization, some continuity editing, and crafting a satisfying ending — all that plus just general editing… As I said, a LOT of work still…

But, I like the bones of this story. And I am slightly in awe of the fact that I basically pulled this completely out of my ass. I had a rough idea for some characters and a world and a kind-of, sort-of plot when I started. But no outline, no details, and each time I sat down to write I had no idea what was going to happen. New characters appeared out of nowhere, new ideas, a slightly more concrete plot, drama… And I “finished” something. Or at least got it to the point where I can see the finish line. Which feels pretty good.

The story I “won” NaNoWriMo with back in 2007 was a crazy hodgepodge of about four or five different story ideas I had, all mashed together. I basically sat down and said: what would happen if I tried to connect all these different characters / scenarios into one story? And I did that. I went back and read it earlier this year and it’s not terrible. It’s a hot mess with no clear main character and a plot supported by some very hazy details, but there are some nuggets of goodness in there. Maybe 2014 will be the year of novel editing… until November 2014, at least, because the novel writing fever in November is excellent for creating new things.

Swimming

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

  • 10 of 31 days (target was ~20 days)
  • 18.65 miles (target was ~30 miles)

My original swimming goal for this year was 250 miles and I’m now at just over 300 miles for the year. I have a slim chance of making it to 350 miles by the end of the year depending on how many miles I can squeeze into December.

I meant to get more swimming days in this month but this turned out to not be a good month for swimming. I got sick early in November and was out of the pool for a week. Then I took it easy when I got back in. Then the pool was closed for three days over Thanksgiving. I’m REALLY looking forward to getting back in the swimming groove in December. I signed up for my first race of 2014: the Santa Rosa Flower Power meet. So it’s time to put the training into high gear so I’m ready for Nationals in May.

Movies

Not a big month for movies… pretty much all free time spent writing.

  • Francis Ha — wasn’t sure about this movie at first and almost bailed on it a couple times, but needed a break from writing and got excited when I saw it was on streaming on Netflix. ended up being a good movie. nice evolution from uncomfortably awkward to heartwarming and rewarding, yet still quirky.
  • Epic — Pixar movie. Had this for weeks before I finally watched it on Thanksgiving. Cuter movie than I expected. Great wilderness scenes that sort of overwhelmed the plot. But it was cute and surprising. I liked it.
  • Hunger Games — re-watched this on Netflix streaming so it was fresh in my mind when I went to see the sequel. Forgot how good this movie is.
  • Catching Fire — A movie in the movie theater! This was an excellent follow-up movie, except for the ending. I know that’s pretty much how the book ends, but it’s still got a little “middle movie syndrome” with the whole non-ending, ending… but overall I can’t complain. And that thing that Jennifer Lawrence does with her face when she’s processing the destruction of District 12… that’s some good acting.

Today is the first day of December… is it really the last month of the year already? Wow.
Almost time to check in on how I did against my personal goals for this year, and set some new ones for next year… And, I should probably do a “best of” post (at least for books) because everyone else is doing it. 🙂

Happy holidays, blogverse!

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