NaNoWriMo update and Blog hop fun

#NaNoWriMo update

Word count update: I’m at 28.000 ish words. I would post Work in Progress excerpts, but first drafts are messy, awful things, and it changes every time I sit down and write. The goal for this November is to produce a draft of events in sequential order. Then I can work with it and hopefully produce something worth reading.

So. I just found another blog hop, which is awesome. I hope to post more regularly in order to build community, but life with two daughters is time-consuming.

WWW Wednesday: what is it all about?

All you have to do is answer three questions.


What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

 If you have a bog, feel free to join in. Post your blog link in the comments below. Or if you don’t have a blog (or don’t feel like posting a link) just have fun answering the questions. 

Currently reading: I picked up Prom Impossible by Laura Pauling (Yes, yes, I know I’m SO over the age limit for YA lit, but the last book I read by Pauling had such a great message at the end of it. It wasn’t just some teen book about teen problems with teen solutions. Also, I am trying to read The voice on the Radio, another YA lit, a rather old one actually. As a teen, I read The face on the Milk Carton and loved it and I just recently found out that it’s a whole five book series! I never knew.

Recently finished: I just finished up two time traveling novels, which were both fantastic and fun reads. Heist, by Laura Pauling, and Today by Amanda Tru. Heist is a great Young Adult read, and discusses some thought provoking issues about life, and the message at the end is wonderfully refreshing. Today is actually part of a series of Christian Romance Suspense Time travel books and each book is better than the one before. I am looking forward to the next one.

I also finished reading a Frontier Christian book called Rocky Mountain Oasis. As much as I wanted to like the story, because the plot was pretty good, it was not well-written (ah, I hate when that happens!), and so I don’t recommend it.

What am I going to read next? I picked up a book by Nicholas Sparks. Sometimes his books are monotonous and too similar to one another. However, he is extremely successful for a reason and so I enjoy studying his works. (Is that weird? probably…)

Also, I am beta reading a novel by a Syrian Refuge. Exciting stuff 🙂

Blog Love: Shout out to Taking on a world of words for hosting this blog hop. I love building community and connecting with people and I appreciate those who take the time to post blog hop events.

So, what are you reading? What do you want to read? What books do you recommend? Leave a comment here or on Facebook and let me know. I love hearing from and connecting with other people. 

Happy reading 🙂

Book Review: The Shoemaker’s Wife

Currently, I’m going to stick to reviewing books that I highly recommend, that I would personally read again and again myself. (Tangent I mean, Fun fact: I rarely read books more than once unless I love it. However, I will watch a movie multiple times even if it’s not the greatest movie ever) Though I am very analytical, my goal is not to tear down authors, but to uplift authors in a positive light, as well as build an audience with positive, thought provoking posts. Who wants to read negative book reviews anyway?

The Shoemaker’s wife: By Angelina Trigiani

the showmaker's wife

Published in 2012

475 pages

Synopsis: (From Goodreads.com)

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. 

This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come

My review:

I will try not to reveal too many spoilers as reviews with spoilers bother me, purely because I actually want to read the book and be surprised at what happens in the book. That said, there still might be a few. Consider yourself warned.

This is not a Christian novel, although most of my reviews thus forward will be of the inspirational or Christian novel genre.

Trigiani’s writing style is flawless, and fabulous; she has this innate ability to paint beautiful imagery with her words, something I truly strive to do someday. Like a theater backdrop, her gorgeous descriptive settings provide the foundation for a sweeping story of, not only the romantic love between Ciro and Enza, but of their lives from adolescence through adulthood, as they live and move and breath; as they miss chances, take huge risks, make mistakes, as they revel in successes and mourn tragedies.

Often, when you read a shorter romantic novel, you glimpse the beginning of a relationship between two characters, and then you’re left wondering, what happens next, or how did the rest of their lives turn out. Now, I admit, that is the fun part about reading a (well-written) novel, is using your own imagination to build up and play out the lives of the characters after the story ends. One of the reasons I love this book is because it’s not just a simple love story; it chronicles the lives of two different people, and once they finally unite, the story continues to chronicle the life that they now have together as one.

The depiction of two star-crossed lovers who keep missing each other over and over again until they finally collide for good, might be cliché, but this one was masterfully written. Pick up any book, and if you analyze it long enough, you’ll find that books follow similar structure and pattern. The fact that they both travel to America due to completely separate circumstances after growing up in Italy, is quite coincidental, until you learn from the author’s note that this is based on a true story within her family.

She chose to focus on two main characters, and while I wanted to know more about the lives of the other characters that interacted with Ciro and Enza, this is a stylistic choice, in my opinion and I am fine with that. Despite his faults, which are obvious, I loved Ciro’s character so much. Enza’s character is also well written; she is strong, and independent, hard working and engaging. Ciro is fascinating to me though. He wasn’t the perfect gentleman that you often read about in some romance novels. He wasn’t mean; his world sort of revolved around himself for so long that he nearly missed his chance to be with Enza, more than once.

The love they share runs deep, sometimes subconsciously so, despite all of those missed chances between the two of them before they finally build a relationship together. I think it’s funny: Enza doesn’t wait around for Ciro. She’s too independent and headstrong and she succeeds in making her own way in a new country. She doesn’t have time to wait for Ciro to finally come around. I would be frustrated, too. As a reader, I kind of wanted to shout at the both of them. Get it together!

Overall, I highly recommend this book, though it is quite long. (Another reason I loved it.)

Have you read this book before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Happy reading!

NaNoWriMo

#NaNoWriMo is here.

Most of you reading this, who are not authors are like…NaNo what?

November is National Novel Writing Month, where millions of authors and would-be authors sit down and try to pen or type out an entire novel in one month. When I say a novel in a month, I don’t mean a completely finished novel just a finished draft. Then, of course, there will be multiple more drafts and multiple rounds of editing, professional or not.

So, in light of this phenomenon, I am taking a much needed break from editing all three of my current manuscripts simultaneously (exhausting…) and working on a 4th novel. Yes, I think I’m crazy.

It’s already outlined, I just have to get it down in draft form. Then, I probably won’t touch it again for another six months while I try to get my first 3 books all polished up and such…

I think I’m crazy.

That’s okay, most writers are.

Quick, about this book, then I’ll end my update. I seriously have like 6 story ideas bouncing around in my head, and 3 partially written outlines. But I strongly believe that God wants me to write THIS one. He says, this one first, the others later. This time, unlike with most other conversations I have with God, I know exactly why He wants me to write this. Unfortunately, it’s too soon to tell you all why. It’s rather deeply personal.

Much love. If you’re not a writer, go read a book (or two or three) to celebrate NaNoWriMo.

Happy reading.:)

You Know You’re A Writer When….

These are HILARIOUS. If I lived by myself, I would be a wreck. No one would want to come over. As it is, EVERY day I battle with myself over whether I should do the laundry or the dishes, or just sit and write. I do have 2 daughters so…I have to balance things. But it’s so hard…
I still love my family very much though 🙂

Enjoy!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 4.30.54 PM

So, I am gearing up for Nanowrimo and (of course) Hubby decides to get the flu because he is plotting against me  and secretly doesn’t want me to succeed  it is cold and flu season and this stuff just happens.

Poor thing.

Anyway, this means I was up all night long and have yet to go to sleep, but I did find a way to amuse myself between 1 and 4 a.m. before the fun hallucinations kicked in.

I found…THIS! Yeah, yeah, some of you have heard it before but it still cracks ME up and since I am here to amuse myself most of the time? Pthththththth. Haters gonna hate. Usually I do just fine blogging and writing in November, but just in case y’all don’t hear from me for a bit…

I figured I’d share since we all can use a good laugh before the real fun begins…

View original post 1,366 more words

“I’ve never been Ice skating,”

Actually, I have. I love it, but it’s been a long time since the last time I went. I think I was a teenager. Another trip is long overdue.

But Jay  Mathews has not – because he’s been in prison for six years. So now that he’s out of prison, he intends to change that, as well as, experience a whole bunch of new things he’s never done before. Not only that, but it sure makes for an excellent first date.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Second Chances.

🙂

Her face shone smooth, with hints of color highlighting her cheeks and eyes; her genuine smile warmed his heart. When she stared up and locked eyes with his, he dared to reach a hand out and push some of the hair from in front of her face, again wishing he could run his hand all the way through. Instead, he pulled out an extra beanie from the pocket of his sweatshirt

“I brought you an extra hat. Sorry, the only color I have is black. But I thought you’d like it since we didn’t get a chance to stop back at your place.” He surprised himself, reached down, and pulled it over her head gently; his gaze never left hers, locked on her beautiful eyes.

“Thanks,” Her voice was quiet, shy.

To keep things from becoming awkward, he pulled out his own hat and stood up, immediately wobbling wildly, causing Lacey to laugh.  He tried not to groan in embarrassment.

“I warned you,” She chuckled in response.

“I’ll go get a locker for our stuff,” she told him once he steadied himself against the table. She gathered up their shoes and other belongings in a bundle in her arms and wobbled over to the lockers on the other side of the gated skate park, weaving in and out of families and groups of teens.

He still wobbled terribly, but managed to meet her halfway at one of the entrances to the rink. Christmas songs blasted from several speakers set up in each corner of the rectangular rink. Gigantic plastic snowmen, reindeer, and Santa Clauses stood tall around the ice rink, decorated with blinking white, red and green lights.

“You ready for this?” She grinned at him. He was too busy admiring the way the lights shimmered and danced through her hair to answer. This is absolutely perfect, He decided. “Hey, you okay? You ready?”

“No,” He laughed, causing her to laugh too.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” She stepped out without looking back. He took a breath, and followed her out onto the ice—where he promptly slipped and fell on his back. She laughed so hard she fell down next to him.

“Stop laughing. I told you I’ve never done this before.” She was still laughing. He took his hat and slapped her playfully on the arm of her padded jacket.

“How old are you? It’s time to learn!” She grabbed his wrists and helped pull him up until they were standing next to the wall. After he put his hat back on, she said, “Here, take my hand.”

Please feel free to let me know what you think.

Blog shout out: Thank you to Hallee Bridgeman and Alana Terry for hosting Christian Fiction Friday, which gives me and other readers and writers the opportunity to build community and share what we’re working on!

Happy reading!

“Writing is the painting of the voice.”

I wish I could draw. I mean, really draw. I used to dabble in sketching and such, and I really do enjoy it, but any project I do ends up looking like something a six or eight year old would do.

In junior high, I met a couple of students in my class who were amazing artists, at least for being 13 years old. This one boy created a beautiful 3D dragon out of clay. I wish I had that kind of ability. This other girl in my class could draw such vivid human figures with charcoal; she drew a girl on the beach that left me breathless. I asked her how long it took; she said about 20 minutes. That blew me away.

I wish I could draw. Or paint. But alas, I can’t, not very well. So, I write the images I wish I could draw.

“Writing is the painting of the voice,” – Voltaire

I saw this quote the other day and immediately identified with the deep meaning behind it that perhaps only writers can understand.

If you think about it, painting is difficult. If you watch a painter, they make it look so easy, but in reality, to make a good painting, it takes practice, tenacity. Painters who want to actually make a living will need to practice anatomically correct drawings, blending and shading. They’ll need to use the right materials, and identify which ones are of high quality. And so much more, of which I obviously don’t know anything about, because I’m not a painter. Painting is far from frivolously brushing images on a canvas.

Every time I visit the Crocker Art Museum I marvel at some of the amazing paintings. Once, I saw a massive painting of the face of an old man. Sounds so odd, right? This painter captured a heartbreaking sorrow, which was magnified by the sheer size of the piece. I discovered that the painter had spent seven years painting this humongous masterpiece, as part of his grieving process over the loss of his father.

Painting is hard. So is writing. If you want to write well, writing is hard. It’s hard to start, it’s hard to keep going, and sometimes it takes a very long time to finish the idea you’ve started.  Christopher Nolan describes how long he mulled over some of the scripts for his films. It took him ten years to pen down Inception completely. He also mentions that it took five or more years to finalize The Prestige. 

For me, it actually took ten years for this particular story to come to fruition. But that’s a blog post for later 🙂

Writing is certainly not frivolously scribbling words out on a page. In a well written book, every word counts. Every sentence, every paragraph, should mean something. Every word is carefully chosen and purposeful. That takes extensive practice, editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting…

Not that either one is better than the other, but in lieu of not being able to draw, I’m so very glad that I have the ability to write.

Excerpt: It’s about time

Welcome to another excerpt from Second Chances.

I ran across the blog of one of my new favorite authors Hallee Bridgeman and am  excited to join in her Christian Fiction Friday blog hop. If you’re interested, you can check out the other blogs at the link at the bottom of the page, to view other excerpts from works in progress.

Today I’ll be posting another excerpt from Chapter 5.

“Hey, Lacey.” He greeted her as if it hadn’t been over a month since they’d last talked. “Where’s everyone at?”

“It’s always dead in here over winter break,” She met him at the cash register. “Everyone’s on winter vacation. I’m surprised you came in today,” She struggled to keep her excitement at bay—to keep her tone neutral, conversational—when all she wanted to do was to ask where in the world he’d been and why they hadn’t talked in so long. Was I just imagining this amazing chemistry between us during the auditions?

“Nothing better to do,” He shrugged. “It’s someplace warm and I’m thirsty.” He smiled warmly at her, causing her to smile in return. “I’m surprised you guys are even open—But I’m really glad you’re here,” Her smile morphed into a grin. “I thought you and Joel were going to visit family…?”

“Joel did,” She nodded. “I don’t really do family,”

“You don’t do church, you don’t do family…” he mused, leaning his muscular arms on the counter top and gazing intently at her; his deep brown eyes studied her with a half-smile. Again, she waited for him to ask why; again, he surprised her by not questioning it. For a moment, his smile faltered and the silence lengthened, but he quickly let whatever was on his mind fade, and the warm smile returned, framed by rough stubble. “I’ll take a hot chocolate,”

“Sure,” She opened the cash register as he handed her some change, and then rang him up.

While she went back to mix his hot chocolate, she tried not to let a sudden, sinking sense of disappointment overwhelm her. What were you expecting? She sighed, not even sure what she wanted from someone she barely knew in the first place. Maybe it was all in my head.

Every time she spotted him in the coffee shop, she watched him from a distance, wishing he would come and talk to her again, hoping for… for what? Sometimes he came in by himself, or with some other students to study, but he never came up to talk to her. Granted, she was constantly busy whenever he happened to come in. They hadn’t even had a chance to talk about the Spring production because she didn’t have his number. I need to change that, pronto, she reminded herself.

When she brought him a cup of steaming hot chocolate over to where he stood at the pick-up counter, instead of moving back to sit at an empty table, he stayed where he was, content to sip his drink standing nearby. Since she had nothing to do, she stood near him, leaning back into the corner of two counters.

“What time do you get off?” Surprised by his question, a shy smile spread across her lips.

“Seven,”

“I’ve never been ice skating. You want to go with me tonight?”

—-

I hope you enjoy and it piques your interest. Stay tuned for more updates.

I’ll post the link to the Blog Hop as soon as it becomes available

Happy reading 🙂

Excerpt from Second Chances:

I entered the first portion in my first book in a contest so I will have to skip excerpts from the first portion for a bit. Later on, I’ll post excerpts from the beginning.

For now, I wanted to show those who stop by what my book is all about.

I hope you enjoy. Leave a comment/or email me, please tell me what you think.

Excerpt from Chapter 5: Second Chances

“I requested a week off from work and they granted it. So, I’m taking the week of Christmas off to visit Mom.”

She glared at him, wanting to shrink and hide inside her coat and beanie—or get out, slam the door and never look back.

Sensing her apprehension, he reached for her arm to stop her. “Don’t get out—please, stay and listen.”

“No,”

“I am worried about leaving you alone for a whole week.” His words rushed out as if he were afraid she would leave before he could finish the conversation.

“I’m a grown woman!”

“It’s not that. Obviously, you can take care of yourself. I worry about your safety. This isn’t the safest part of town.”

“We’ve never had any problems before.” She folded her arms under her chest.

“Mom wants to see you.” he persisted.

“I don’t want to see her,” she grumbled.

“Lacey—it’s Christmas.”

“I don’t care.”

“Come on, Lacey—how can you stand to be alone on Christmas? I don’t want you to be alone. It’s a special holiday and you know it, even if you don’t believe in Jesus’ birth.”

“If you don’t want me to be alone, then why did you request the time off? You obviously decided in advance that you wanted to go out of town for Christmas. And I know you probably assumed I would not agree to go with you.” He let go of her arm and stared down at his hat, folding it and unfolding it, his face downcast.

“I was really hoping you’d consider coming with me for once.” I can’t believe he put me in this corner! “Mom misses you. When is the last time you’ve talked to her? It’s not like Dad will be there—“

A spark of anger flared up, coming from somewhere deep within, bringing with it hot tears. She stormed from the car before Joel could stop her; finding her keys, she unlocked the door and rushed inside. Hiding in her room, she slammed her things down on her desk and lay on her bed, letting her tears fall freely

Why did you have to bring all this up, Joel!

Why did he have to cheat and then leave? Why did she let him leave? How could you let our family fall apart? Why couldn’t you forgive him like you forgave that stupid kid for running over Amy? How can you call yourself a Christian, forgive someone we don’t even know, but refuse to reconcile with Dad?

If you haven’t yet, please check out Upcoming Releases to read the synopsis.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Love is…complicated

Despite the risk of being extremely repetitive, I want to talk about love. Regardless of how redundant this little four-letter word is, I figure if I am going to write books about love, then I should define what I think love is.

I’m stoked. I finally finished my manuscript (for good this time. After months of editing, in lieu of paying a $1000 or more to have it edited. If you have a minute, check out the Synopsis here. I my hope is to publish by January. (If I self-publish, which is more than likely). Now, onto my definition of love.

Love is…complicated. I love the rain. I love a good story. I love writing, reading, balloon twisting…

I love my husband. I love my daughters. I love my parents, my brothers.

Love is simultaneously that feeling of longing, along with the drive to actively commit, regardless of a lack of that special feeling. In my opinion, you should have both in the beginning of a dating/marriage relationship. If we are designed by God’s hands, then I am inclined to believe that there is nothing wrong with physical attraction. It’s there for a reason, isn’t it? It’s how we handle it, with responsibility and respect that makes all the difference. I read an urban dictionary post for the definition of love that stated: “Lust is the desire for the body. Love is the desire for the soul.”

Eloquently put.

Now for the biblical perspective from 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind, does not envy, doesn’t boast, is not selfish, or easily angered.

But no one I know is exceedingly patient, kind, or selfless. Many people I know are easily angered, unforgiving…so how can this biblical love exist among imperfect people? With the help of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

While I agree with the bible definition of love, I will put forth that being in love does not come without conflict or anger…  It is the ability to sift through and overcome conflict that allows our relationships to deepen and last longer.

Falling in love is a lot easier than staying in love. Staying in love requires tenacity from both parties. Some people love being in love. But when the going gets tough, and they don’t feel love anymore, they run for the hills, longing for the greener grass on the other side. I would rather see a couple get angry at each other, fight and argue in a healthy way, than ignore everything that is wrong with the other person. Someday, all of that pent up irritation is going to catch up with you.

After all that analyzing, I should just get to the point, based on my experiences:

Part 1: For me, love is wanting to make the other person happy, even though I am sometimes incapable of doing that myself. Even if they don’t notice or care. Let me clarify. This does not mean spoiling the people you love. This means, wanting them to succeed, wanting them to find a place in life where they are content. (1 Thessalonions 5:11)

For about three years during high school, I was in love with someone who was not in love with me. He was also not exhibiting godliness, and going through that rebellious stage in life…at some point, I prayed a prayer asking God to 1). Show Himself to this guy, and to help him become happy, because all I wanted was for him to be happy. If he was happy, wherever he ended up, then I would gladly let him go.

Ultimately, we did not end up together. Today, he is very happy where he’s at, married with three kids, and he loves God.

Part 2: Love is wanting to be a better you for that person that you love. One of the major reasons why I fell in love with my now-husband, is because he challenged me (not forced me) to be a better person. I have improved in multiple areas in my life from the person that I once was ten years ago. Not that I am perfect—far from it. I regress at times into old habits, and some years are better than others.

That’s also how I feel about my relationship with God. I struggle to be a better person because I love Him, because He loved me first. (Favorite verse! 1 John 4:10). Although I will admit it is easier to do this with a physical person present to challenge me. This is what accountability partners are for. And that’s an entirely different blog post.

I’m looking forward to being able to share my book with everyone. I hope you all take the opportunity to read it, though I understand that romantic novels are not for everyone. If you like it (when it’s available) PLEASE share it with people. If you don’t read romance novels, share it with someone who would like to read one.

Thank you for all your support now and in the future.

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