My husband turned 30 last week and he just found a gray hair in his beard. He was distinctly unimpressed (possibly closer to depressed) but I was excited because I’m all about that salt-and-pepper look–even if he’s currently all pepper (minus 1), or more like paprika because his beard is weirdly red (weird considering how dark his head-hair is). Another thing I don’t complain about.
Basically, I like looking at my husband.
So I missed posting on his birthday about his birthday. He’s the big 3-0, and it’s a little crazy to think he’s been alive for three whole decades. I remember when thirty was so old but now it feels like thirty is when life just starts to really begin. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more philosophical thoughts surrounding turning the dirty thirty when my birthday rolls around near the end of the year, but for now, I just wanted to publicly say a belated happiest of birthdays to my handsome, barely gray-haired man. I’m super proud of all you’ve accomplished this year, and really looking forward to what your thirties will entail!
The other night after a (very) happy hour and dinner with my husband, we stopped at our local bookstore so I could run my fingers over spines and stare, starry-eyed, at all the lovely stories I’ve yet to read, and imagine *one day* my book joining them. They had a bunch of signed copies of several books by authors I love, so I decided to buy one (because it’s the next best thing to having it autographed for me, personally). My husband held it for me as I continued to drift around, admiring the beautiful journals and St. Louis-themed children’s books, until next thing I knew, he’d bought it for me.
This seems silly writing it out, because we’re married and what’s his is mine and vice versa (he even said that as he was paying), but there’s something so magical about being gifted a book, even if it’s paid for with the same account that my money goes into. I hugged the book to my chest the entire walk home. Naturally (because, St. Louis), someone sitting outside eating ice cream spotted me carrying my new book like a precious baby and asked what book it was, so I got to make a new friend (read: admit to a stranger I had almost no idea what the book was about but it’s signed by Ally Condie and the MC’s last name is the same as my #1 fiction love’s, so I figured I’d give it a chance, and it might be about pirates?). That’s around the time I *noticed* I was still carrying the book like I was Belle from the beginning of Beauty and the Beast which of course prompted me to sing the line “and her nose stuck in a book” all the way home no matter how many times my husband sarcastically complimented my excellent singing.
In case you’re curious, the book I purchased is The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie. She wrote the Matched series, as well as an interesting, quasi-mermaid tale Atlantia that was really good.
…you Google things like “how long to recover from a stab wound” and don’t realize it’s shady until you get a bunch of forum results urging you to go to the ER.
…you chow down on dinner as you research said stab wound and only realize that might be gross when Google decides to give you some image results.
…you’ve had just enough whiskey to find all of this very funny, but not quite enough to reassure yourself you’ll feel fine in the morning. (Pro tip: another couple sips and you won’t have to worry about that hangover until it wakes you up. BETTER pro tip: stop drinking immediately and switch to water.)
…someone says depending on what area is stabbed, it could result in loss of arm abduction and you don’t know if it’s the whiskey or a typo OR if you should be concerned about arms being abducted and the people who would mourn the loss of the opportunity for such an arm abduction.
…you start to think these last few points would fit better under a heading like “you might have had enough to drink if…” and decide to call it a night.
…you laugh at that last one because the night is a writer’s time to shine. Or at least tell herself she’s achieving her dreams as she neglects sleep and curses the job that takes up so many hours of daylight.
Refresher: One of my goals this year is to read 40 new (to me) books. Not to toot my own horn, but I am #crushing this goal…
I’m already halfway toward said goal, and nowhere near the midpoint of the year. And before anyone tries to argue that maybe some books are short/superfast reads (like the graphic novel) I’ll have you know #20 on my list was a whopper of 500+ pages (which all flew by, honestly–LOVE me some Mark Zusak!). Without further ado, here are all the lovely tales I’ve met so far this year:
- The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards – a child born with down syndrome is sent away to be raised by the nurse who delivered her, unbeknownst to the child’s mother.
- The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Griffin McElroy, and Carey Pietsch – it’s the graphic novel version of their amazing podcast!
- Wildcard by Marie Lu – a gamer/bounty hunter is enlisted to hunt down a hacker during a worldwide tournament
- Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne – Jane Eyre but with spaceships!
- Seafire by Natalie C. Parker – All-girl pirate ship on the hunt for revenge…until they learn the captain and first mate’s brothers may still be alive and in enemy hands
- Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer – a twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, in which Aurora has a blind sister trying to find her true love to break the sleeping spell
- The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donad Maass – pure writing-craft book, but some really great insights for what attracts readers to story and character
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – see this post for all my feels
- Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart – sisters separated by bad luck and worse consequences fight to stay alive and find a way back to each other
- The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman – ’nuff said, these two are the cutest and their written “oral” history is a delight
- Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – intrigue, a hunt for lost loved ones, high stakes gambling
- Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers – a duology quasi-spinoff of her FANTASTIC His Fair Assassins trilogy
- The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg – see link for my thoughts on how adorable this story is
- The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg – the wonderful sequel
- The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg – the fantastic ending
- The Alice Network by Kate Quinn – two women’s stories intertwine–a young woman searching for her cousin after WWII convinces an older woman, a former spy during WWI to help in her quest. Really beautifully told story based on an actual female spy-ring
- “I Give You My Body…” by Diana Gabaldon – full disclosure, this one is about the craft of writing sex scenes. Incredibly helpful for dialogue and action scenes as well. Maybe not so much “for fun” reading (though there are PLENTY of steamy excerpts from her Outlander and spin-off works) wink!
- Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman – classic western, complete with a hunt for gold, gunfights with a band of outlaws, and a sexy cowboy who doesn’t realize our MC is a girl at first…
- A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro – the final in her Charlotte Holmes series, one of my favorite book series I’ve come across.
- Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – I’ve already mentioned how much I adore his writing style. This book is full of his poetic language as well as heartbreakingly beautiful depictions of 5 brothers raising themselves the best way they can. Lots of fist fights, swearing, and love in this book.
I am OBSESSED with these stories! I got The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (the first installment) to check out for free through Amazon Prime Reading, and I just fell in love with Ceony and Emery.
I wasn’t sure at first–fairly early on, Ceony goes off on an adventure (seemingly) far from the magician she’s apprenticing for (the adorable and charming Emery Thane–a pairing I was already shipping HARD) so my interest waned slightly. But, guys, there’s still a pretty great love story woven into her battle for Emery’s literal heart, one that I think is sustained really well throughout the three books. Full disclosure, there’s a fourth book in the series but I haven’t read it…yet.
The summary, for those who need more: in this world, magicians are bonded to a certain material that they’re able to manipulate (paper, plastic, metal, glass, rubber…). Ceony is assigned to a paper magician despite her desire to become a Smelter (one who works with metal). She grudgingly learns all the weird lessons Emery assigns her, until a woman breaks into his home and steals his literal heart (she’s evil/bonded to flesh, so *mom disclosure* there is some fighting involving tossing vials of blood around, but it never really struck me as graphic/gruesome, so I think even the more squeamish will be ok). Ceony creates a paper placeholder heart and chases her down, determined to save her mentor’s life.
Also, there’s an adorable paper dog who just melts my heart. The whole thing is so imaginative and delightful. It’s a fast read; I read through all three books in about a week (granted, I was on vacation for some of that time, but we were exploring Louisville so my reading time wasn’t *so* extended). I highly recommend this series for anyone looking for a fun, easy read that will still linger in your mind long after you’ve set it down!
The other day we were walking up the stairs and he mentioned ever so casually that “Darkness Falls scared me too. I still think about every so often when I realize I’m standing in the dark.” And I was like *yay I’m not the only loser still deeply affected by a horror film about tooth fairies* and then I thought wait, how did I not know this until now? and THEN I realized: “Hey! You read my blog post!” which shouldn’t have been surprising because he always does read them. He’s just been so busy with school and applying for jobs and carefully not mentioning reading my blog because then I’ll ask if he’s read the most recent book chapter I’ve sent him and really passive aggressively mention something along the lines of “so much for reading a chapter a day, huh?” and he’ll feel guilty because he loves me but hates reading apparently, and I’ll feel guilty for feeling pleased that I made him feel guilty and it’s just a whole big thing.
Here’s my first playlist of 2019! Most of these songs carried over from last year, and I’ll be honest, a lot of them relate in some way to my writing. Still, they’re all pretty fantastic!
- Play with Fire (feat. Yacht Money) – Sam Tinnesz (this one is just a badass sounding song…kind of makes me think of my MCs at the end of their story. And I love Yacht Money’s part.)
- Unspoken – Welshly Arms (also a Solvi/Einar song, just a lovely, lyrical love song that’s got an intangible sad note underscoring it)
- Dance with Darkness – Skrizzly Adams (really fun beat, a great tequila-dance-party song)
- Resurrect Me – Skrizzly Adams (ok, I’m pretty obsessed with Skrizzly Adams in general. This one is empowering — and makes me think of my male MC Einar)
- *Infinity – Niykee Heaton (a strong yet sad yet hopeful love-song — I’m beginning to see a theme — this one makes me think of my female MC Solvi) [PS this one has F-bombs]
- Tusk and Bone – Shaman’s Harvest (the voices get down into my bones — even if it’s on in the background and I’m not paying attention to lyrics, I can *feel* this song)
- Silence – Gavin Mikhail (“I found peace in your violence…” these lyrics are so great)
- Better Than the Pain (Acoustic) – The Woodlands (Solvi/Einar song, another sad love song…)
- Leavin’ – Wildling (I love the jaunty beat and how peppy the sound is when the lyrics are all ‘eff you I’m out’ — btw there’s no swearing, that’s just the vibe)
- Happy to Be Here – Julien Baker (this one puts some of the worst things I’ve felt into poetry and makes me feel seen/understood/less alone in the darkness that settles sometimes)
The whole playlist is here on YouTube.