Books I Liked – Trident’s Forge

Welcome to Books I Liked, a series of blog posts in which I talk about the best of what I’ve been reading.

TridentsForgeCover

I went to C2E2 in March and picked up a copy of Trident’s Forge before it was on sale to the general public.  Be jealous.  Trident’s Forge is the sequel to The Ark (which I talk about here).  As I mentioned previously, The Ark felt complete, so I was curious to see what a sequel would bring.

Turns out, Patrick S. Tomlinson has spun a nice web of intrigue around a first contact story.  The Atlantians are well created.  Their evolution feels purposeful, and every part of them seems to have a logical point of origin.  Very well done.  What I like best about this, though, is that Tomlinson doesn’t shy away from our cultural baggage when it comes to taking over a land that’s already occupied.  This is why I’m not usually a fan of first contact stories.  They have a tendency to focus on the “cool new alien” aspect and ignore the ethical issues that come with the territory.  Tomlinson has put those issues right at the center of the conflict.  Bravo, sir, bravo.

Theresa (main character Brian’s girlfriend from Book 1) has been upgraded to a point of view character in this book, and I couldn’t be happier.  I do love my strong female characters, and Theresa is strong enough to carry a book by herself.

There’s also a little bonus short story at the end that explains how Brian’s ancestors cheated their way onto the Ark two hundred years before the first book.  The story ties into the themes in Trident’s Forge, so it feels like a purposeful addition rather than just something tossed in for fun.

Overall, Trident’s Forge is a strong sequel that stands on its own merits.  Check it out and then join me in the wait for Book 3.

Find out more about Trident’s Forge here.

Books I Liked – The Way of Kings

Welcome to Books I Liked, a series of blog posts in which I talk about the best of what I’ve been reading.

TheWayOfKings

I finally finished The Way of Kings, and only a year after I started reading it!  That’s not constant reading, mind you.  The book is organized into five parts and I found myself putting the book aside for a month or two between parts.  They just provided a natural stopping point, and each part is roughly the length of the average novel, so it felt like time to move on to something else.

That being said, I read the last 10% in a single afternoon, because victory was in sight!  You read the 10% part right.  I got this for my Kindle in the hopes that not being able to see the huge mass of pages I had left would help with morale.  Of course, my Kindle shows the percentage I’ve read at the bottom of the screen, which was worse.  Nothing like reading for hours and only getting through 1% of a book.

All those pages are necessary, though.  A thousand pages gives Sanderson the space he needs to make Roshar feel like a real world.  Seriously, this might be the most detailed fantasy novel I’ve read.  I think if I stepped through a portal and wound up on the Shattered Plains, I’d know where I was instantly.  I can’t say that about a lot of fantasy novels I’ve read.

I feel like I said all I need to say about this book when I said that I put it down for a month or two but then came back to it.  There are very few books that I stop reading only to finish later, and even less that I take such a long break from.  Treat this one like a TV series that’s been on the air for years but you just started binge watching.  Consume the first part and let it rattle around in your brain a bit until you’re ready for season 2.

Find out more about The Way of Kings here.

Books I Liked – The Ark

Welcome to Books I Liked, a series of blog posts in which I talk about the best of what I’ve been reading.

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we all do. That’s certainly why I picked up The Ark by new author Patrick S. Tomlinson. You see, I was browsing the new paperbacks in the Science Fiction section of the bookstore (because it’s good to read the new releases in your genre, but damn hardcovers are expensive and I have student loans to pay) when I saw what looked like a misplaced romance novel.

The Ark Cover

Okay, so you’re probably looking at the tag line on the cover and saying, “Sarah, that’s not a romance novel,” but I was only looking at the guy looming over the title. And come on, he has that standard romance novel cover model look, square jaw, brooding face, neck muscles, I mean everything.

A quick glance at the back of the book revealed that it was, in fact, correctly shelved, and that it looked pretty damn interesting. It also revealed that the price was well within my book budget for the month, so I impulse bought it. Turns out it was well worth the roughly $9 with tax I paid.

The Ark is a thriller set in a giant spaceship that is home to what remains of humanity after a black hole destroyed Earth 250 years ago, which is about 50,000 people.  With so few people around, it’s a big deal when someone goes missing, and so police chief and former sports star Bryan Benson is asked to investigate. Remember, this is a thriller, not a mystery, and so naturally there’s something huge going on, with the fate of everyone on the Ark at stake. Couple that with the fact that the ship is about to land on mankind’s new home and you have tension turned up to 10.

I think what I like best about this book is the setting.  The Ark feels like a real place, complete with high and low society, political problems, and even a unique sport.  The details felt logical and cohesive.  Good worldbuilding here.

This was a fun read and a damn solid first book. I found myself looking forward to reading a chapter or two every lunch. The pacing is on point and there’s always another twist to pull you on to the next chapter. The biggest surprise for me came after I’d finished and saw an ad for the sequel in the back. Sure, the book leaves plenty of room for one (we’re about to settle a new planet for crying out loud), but everything felt wrapped up to me. You’ll probably want to put the sequel on your to-read list when it comes out, but if you’re not a series reader this book provides a complete story all by itself.

Find out more about The Ark here.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Retrospective

I did it, I won NaNoWriMo this year! I believe reflection is a part of good practice, so here it is, a look back on NaNoWriMo 2015.

First, let’s look at the numbers. I started writing on November 1st, and met my 50,000 word goal on the 28th. I continued to log my word count after that, but I’m just going to focus on the 28 days leading up to victory.

Par for a day in NaNoWriMo is 1667 words. Based on that, I made or exceeded par 22/28 days, or 79% of the time. I wrote 2000 words or more on 12 days, and one day I wrote more than double the par for that day. This was the last day, and I was pushing hard for the finish.

Most importantly, I had only 1 zero word day in those 28 days. That’s phenomenal. That means I was writing at least something 96% of the time. I had 3 days in which I wrote less than 1000 words, one of which was the zero word day. This leads me to believe that a 1000 word/day goal in general is reasonable for me.

Outside of the numbers, how did I feel? If you look, I had a solid wall of 2000+ word days in the beginning, which was very stressful but ultimately worth it. I really feel that I had to start out strong in order to get the momentum that carried me through the dreaded middle. The stress was worse at the beginning. Once I broke 25k everything got a lot easier. I don’t know if I just felt that it was an achievable goal once I was halfway there or if my body had gotten used to the stress, but after 25k everything clicked.

Interestingly enough, coming off NaNoWriMo, I set a goal of 1000 words a day for December to finish my first draft, and I had a hard time stopping at 1000. Even if I’d met my goal and was at a good stopping point, I felt a nagging feeling at the back of my head, like I had left important work undone. After a few days, I’ve settled into a comfortable 1000-1200 words per day, and I think that’s a good pace, especially around the holidays.

Overall, this was a success, and a process I think I’m going to emulate going forward. I’m just not the kind of person that can write a little here and a little there when it comes to a longer work. I need that short, sustained momentum to get the words on paper. To generate the clay I’m going to make my sculpture with. Plus, two months to a first draft is too tempting to pass up.

So, what’s next? I’m at 62,000 on the current draft, and based on where I am in the story, I think it’s going to come in at 70k. Then it’s going to need serious rewrites – I improv wrote this on a whim and major changes need to be made. Once I’m done adding material, I think we’ll be around 80-90k, a respectable length for a low-magic fantasy story. (I want to call this dark fantasy, or romance, or borderline horror, but I’m just not sure where it falls genre-wise yet).

And when it’s ready? I start sending it out. I’d like to sell this to trad publishers before I self publish (I have an urban fantasy series in my to-write queue that I think will make a nice self-publishing venture), but if I can’t in the traditional way, I may very well go the Kindle route.

In general, I don’t know what happened in the last two years, but something just clicked, and now I’m confident that I can write and publish a novel. 2016 is going to be a pretty bad-ass year, so stay tuned!

NaNoWriMo 2015

It’s November, and that means NaNoWriMo!  I’ll be keeping track of my word count in this post.  The goal is 50,000.  Let’s do this!

Day Word Count Total Word Count
November 1 2240 2240
November 2 2131 4371
November 3 2227 6598 10% complete!
November 4 2233 8831
November 5 2110 10941 20% complete!
November 6 437 11378
November 7 1352 12730
November 8 1843 14573
November 9 2052 16625 33% complete!
November 10 1905 18530
November 11 1520 20050 Officially part of the 20k club
November 12 2121 22171
November 13 0 22171
November 14 1937 24108
November 15 1794 25902 HALFWAY THERE!
November 16 1689 27591
November 17 2304 29895
November 18 1736 31631
November 19 805 32436
November 20 1695 34131 67% complete!
November 21 1818 35949 Broke 35k!
November 22 1737 37686
November 23 2576 40262 Less than 10k to go!
November 24 2301 42563
November 25 2093 44656
November 26 590 45246 Happy Thanksgiving!
November 27 1219 46465
November 28 3644 50109 A Winner is ME!
November 29 0 50109
November 30 1022 51131