July Wrap-Up

Reading Life

Total books read this month: 9

Books so far this year: 65

Mysteries read: 4 (including progress on working my way through the entire works of Sherlock Holmes)

YA Read: Finished Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina and Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (who I interviewed on here about 2 years ago). Loved them both, especially Dread Nation. If you want a zombie book where the systematic racism is scarier than the undead, you’ve got it right there. Looking forward to her second book in the duology.

Best of the MonthI loved The Wanderers by Meg Howry. It was a deeply reflective look on love, space, and the balance of family/career that I didn’t really expect to shake me as much as it did. Gorgeous prose.

Writing Life

Had kind of a topsy-turvy month trying to decide what project to move ahead with. Finally settled on it and getting feedback from a friend before sending it on. It’s been a passion project of mine for years, and meshes sibling love, science, and nerd-dom. Hoping that the feedback is positive!

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Terminator Baby

Life, Etc

Bottles that the baby took successfully since his birth: 0

Days until I return to work: 6

My stress-level about the combination of those two data points: 140%

Family trips this month: 1

Trips to the county fair: 1

Weeks into my Couch-to-5k Program: 4 (going well so far!)

Cucumber salads made with produce from the garden: 5 (link goes to my grandma’s recipe)

 

Hope your summer is going well!

June Wrap-Up

Reading Wrap

Total number of books read this month: 10

ARCs: 2. Illegal and Kill the Farm Boy.  I recommend both! Illegal is a graphic novel about immigrant siblings from Ghana. Kill the Farm Boy  is a zany adult fantasy which upends practically every fantasy trope in the book. Very enjoyable!

Number of people I purchased The Belles for this month: 2. Seriously. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out.

Audiobooks listened to this month: 7! And I wrote about favorite audiobook narrators here.

Best of the MonthWinter by Marissa Meyer (a satisfying end to the quartet of books) and The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin, which I had never read. I’ll be checking out more of that series soon.

Writing Wrap-Up

Finished the edits and sent my dear little book along to my agent. Hoping to hear back notes soon, and in the meantime, working on essays and smaller stuff. This month I published a piece in Scary Mommy,  wrote an exasperated thing on my Medium , and finished edits for something forthcoming in Split Lip (can’t wait!)

Taking a social media hiatus in July to help get started on something new. Planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo!

On a less happy note, my computer crashed– blue-screened– and luckily I had backed things up recently. If you haven’t DO IT NOW. It could have been a real nightmare otherwise!

Life Wrap-Up

FullSizeRender (1)Average hours of sleep per night: 4.5

Guests in town this weekend: 14

Dairy products that I’ve had to give up to breastfeed this baby: 100%

Percentage of my diet that was cheese before I gave up dairy: 90%

Dairy free cheese products that taste good: 0%

Percentage worth it when the little guy gives me a grin: 110%

 

May Wrap-Up

 

Reading Wrap-Up

Percentage jealous of everyone at Book Expo right now: 1000%

Books finished this month: 8

ARCs finished: 2, and one in progress.

may2018 211.PNGMysteries read: 4! The ARCs were both recommended mysteries. First, Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett, which was a fun second-in-the-series to the has-been actress turned amateur PI theme Garrett has going. Very voicey, very enjoyable. Second, Ruth Ware (an auto-buy author for me) has a new book called The Death of Mrs. Westaway about a mistaken identity, inheritance, and enough twists to tie a thousand bags of bread closed. Worth checking out, for sure.

Audiobooks listened to while feeding baby in middle of the night: Lots… might even be off about my count this month because I haven’t been keeping as careful track. I am grateful for Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles for keeping me company at three AM. Just enough plot and action, and the prose is straight to the point.

Best of the Month: And then There Were None by Dame Agatha and The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Writing Wrap-Up

In a bout of creative energy and desparation for something adult to do, I finished my edits on my novel during naptimes the first two weeks of the month! I forgot just how

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The snoozer

much newborns sleep (and I’m glad I didn’t wait, because at five weeks old he’s beginni

ng to want to be entertained and stay awake longer). Have already received the first set of beta-comments and will be sorting through them next week, and I’m feeling generally good about where this book is right now. Have to enjoy the good creative energy when you have it!

Wrote and submitted three essays this month. One has been accepted (pending publication at a great venue, can reveal next month) and two being reviewed. It’s nice to work on the shorter stuff while waiting for the next step on the longer.

 

Life, Etc

 

Baby birds in the nest outside: 4

Ball games attended: 2 (with more on the way)

Bugs swatted: 20,000

Average steps/day: 3,500 (will work back up to 10,000 eventually!)

Number of days that went too quickly this month: 31

Pairs of new pairs of glasses (first time in five years): 1

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(They’re very Velma, I think. I’m a fan)

April Wrap-Up (With Baby Pics)

Reading and Writing Wrap Up

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Late season snow leaves us all a little confused
  • Books read this month: Mouse and the Motorcycle series with the kiddos)
  • Best reasons to stay inside and read this month: TERRIBLE WEATHER! I don’t know where all of you are located, but we had snow all the way until the third week of April this month!
  • Best of the monthThe Hearts Invisible Furies without a doubt. In fact, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year so far. I think it might be one of those books I can’t bear to reread because of how tenderly it hit me the first time, but we’ll see.
  • Books in progress:  3. I’m so close to upping my reading figure, but I’ll be honest. It was a busy month!
  • Revision work done this month on the WIP: some good progress, but not quite to draft 2 yet! I’m trying to get things polished enough to send a draft of this retelling rom-com to my beta readers, but it’s taking a little more time than I anticipated. It’s tricky to get in the mood to revise something light. Now that my school year is finished and I’m on leave all summer, hopefully I can turn to finishing it

Life Wrap Up (aka, why I got so little done this month)

  • Hours of prep work done to prepare for maternity leave, just in case: 50+
  • Baby pajamas washed and ooh-ed over: 12
  • Freezer meals prepped: 10
  • Days of pre-labor that sent me to the hospital twice: 5
  • Most miles walked in one day to try and convince baby to come out: 7
  • Pounds of perfection, finally here: 6 1/2IMG_0375

 

March Wrap-Up

Reading Wrap-Up

Total books read this month: 14

ARCs read this month: 3 (including this one)

NonfictionEducated by Tara Westover and The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (loved them both)

Best of the MonthMaine by J. Courtney Sullivan and Educated by Tara Westover. Both were about complex families. Beautiful writing for both.

Side note: Saw Ready Player One yesterday and thought it was nothing like the book– almost literally no plot overlapped, especially in the fun, kitschy 80s pop culture. I went to see it originally because I couldn’t picture how they would transfer it to screen… and in my mind, they didn’t. So “the book was better” lives on, at least in my mind. Any movies that you thought were better than the books?

Writing Wrap-Up

I’ve been editing a new WIP and making some headway. I’m more than halfway through this second draft and hoping to get it polished enough to send to beta readers soon.  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed between work and family life right now, but hopefully with some extra focus I can get it polished soon.

The draft is fun– a retelling– and more of a rom-com than anything I’ve attempted before. The only problem is I feel like I have to come to the page a bit more playful than I have in the past, so frame of mind is everything.

Have you had any projects you had to get in a “fun” frame of mind to work on? How did you get yourself there reliably? I’d love some tips.

 

Life, Etc

The month in numbers

Family vacations taken: 1

Adorable koalas seen on said vacations: 10

Days until our family grows by one member: about thirty

Things I have to do before due date: about thirty million

Practice contractions which have taken my breath away and scared my productivity-loving heart in the past week: 10

Here’s hoping things don’t get too exciting in the next month….

 

January Wrap-Up

Reading Life:

Total books Read: 15 (!)

Total books read for comfort and self-care because 2018 is feeling shockingly like 2017: 13 (the others were ARCs for review… and very good)

Weirdest of the Month: The House at Mount Char  and Annihilation  were both head-scratchers for me. I loved the latter’s views of marriage more than the plot progression, however.

Best of the Month: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan and two books by Tayari Jones: Silver Sparrow and her upcoming release, An American Marriage

Writing Life:

Total words written: 15,000ish

Approximate words remaining in draft one of new thing: 7,000

Scenes left, according to my outline: 5

Percentage excited about starting revisions on this project: 1000%

The hardest thing for me is the time just before you finish a draft and every detail, large and small, that has changed in the first half of the book is staring at you. This is a very drafty draft one, and I’m looking forward to diving in to preen and shape. Picture yard topiaries, but of words.

Life, Etc

Amount of time staring at topiary pictures for this post: only fifteen minutes. Give me some credit for time management

Oversized bags of Hot Tamales consumed: 1/2 (and when I say oversized, I mean way oversized)

Days went to the gym: 11

My kiddo, aged four, wrote me an “I Love You” note for the first time this month, and I think that’s my favorite thing this month.

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Unfortunately he wrote it in red marker on red paper, so it’s almost like a secret note. Here’s the BW version

2017 Wrap Up

Reading Wrap-Up:

 

Nonfiction and Memoir:

Total read: 23

Best of the year: Hunger by Roxane Gay, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Graphic Novels/Memoirs:

Total read: 9

Best of the year: John Lewis’s March trilogy and Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

SciFi/Fantasy Reads:

Total read: 35

Best of the year: La Belle Savauge by Philip Pullman, N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, and The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Contemporary Fiction

Total read: a lot– most of my stack

Best of the year: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

General reading wrap up:

2017 in books

A-Z challenge: 25/26 (could have tried harder to finish this one! X, you defeated me this time.)

Goodreads challenge: read 157/125 books– very pleased with this!

ARCs reviewed this year: 32

Favorite reading thing done #1: gave recommendations on Twitter and Facebook based on last food ate and color wearing, and got a chance to rec my favorite books of the year!

Favorite reading thing done #2: got a chance to interview the author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (a great, great book)

Writing Wrap-Up

Long stuff:

  • Words written on book-length stuff: over 100k
  • Full books finished: 1 (then edited significantly!)
  • NaNoWriMo project: won NaNo, and book from that project in progress. Hope to finish draft zero by the end of January!

Short stuff:

This was my most productive publishing year yet, so a few highlights:

Had the immense privilege this year to publish in a few outlets that I absolutely adore: The Rumpus to talk about ash trees and politics and Electric Lit, where my Wonder Woman history piece found a home.

I had a strange humor piece about airplanes published in Higgs Weldon, and wrote about parenthood and cry rooms for US Catholic. 

I’ve been challenging myself to write and submit more, and have a few things pending for publication that I’m excited to announce.

Life, Etc.

2017 kicked me in the pants, like it did to many that I know.

Some things I’m grateful for at the end of it:

  • family who keeps me on my toes (even with bouts of lice, colds, and constant “Why?” questioning)
  • friends that will share fried pickles, stories, tears, and laughter
  • a great job the challenges me daily
  • a tougher shell, but a better ear for criticism
  • hope for the future
2018
Sarah Scribbles, 12/31/17, Sarah Andersen

Here’s to a good 2018, my friends.

October Wrap-Up

Reading Life

Total Books Read: 17*

*(please note some of these were middle-grade and one of them was a graphic novel. Still, pretty happy about making to-read stack progress this month.)

Scottish time-travel novels I finished reading that I have a lot of opinions on: 1 (if you want to hear them, I’d be more than happy to chat.)

Books about aliens that I read this monthThe Fifth Wave, Armada, Dawn. Out of the three, I highly recommend Dawn. Highly.

Debut novels read this month: 6

Total books this year so far: 134. Met/beat my challenge. Now trying to get to 150 before the end of the year.

Best of the Month: I have a lot of favorites. Marlena by Julie Buntin was a stunning book about toxic friendship and I could not put down Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. American War by Omar El Akkad (which I talk about here) was soul-shaking. Absolute favorite, though, was The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker. It will rank on my favorite list of the year, I can already tell.

Writing Life

wwBig article out this month from Electric Lit on Wonder Woman’s problematic past. I hope you’ll check it out, if you haven’t yet. It was my passion-project essay this summer, so I’m happy to see it in the world.

I had a big burst of productivity on a manuscript I’m abandoning for the time-being. It’s been abandoned before, poor thing. It’s my cicada novel, that re-emerges every two years in a slightly different form. I’ll let it settle a while again before I figure out what it’s meant to be.

INSTEAD, I’m planning on NaNo-ing, or at least trying to, with a shiny new idea that I’ve got outlined. With small kids and a job, it can be hard to keep up with the daily word count but I’m still giving it a shot. Even if I only get 500 words a day, that’s better than nothing! If you’re NaNo-ing, add me (rmm is my user name) and we can cheer each other on.

Life, Etc

Lots of sick kid cuddles this month, lots of grading, and lots of nail-biting and reading the news. Taking a bit of a social media fast in November to help focus on my work and family a bit more. It always helps me refocus.

Happy Halloween! Here was my costume this year, and if you don’t get it, you’re totally not fetch.

halloween 2017

 

 

September Wrap-Up

Reading Life

Total Books Read: 12

Audiobooks: 7

Books outside of my typical genres: 7

Best of the Month: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (forthcoming in 2018 and oh so worth putting on your to-read stack) and The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. Also adored meeting Flavia de Luce in The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie.

2017 so far

This month I tried to read a bit outside my normal boundaries, so I picked up a romance novel, a few horror books, some middle grade, and the first book of a popular, kilt-including series that everyone seems to adore. I’m enjoying the trip outside my comfort zones of contemporary lit, YA, and sci-fi, but I don’t think the kilt series, in particular, will be continued. I don’t have as much passion for it as its pages contain.

Writing Life

I’m committed to a new bookish project, but had to outline another early in the month when inspiration hit. I have a two books mostly or fully outlined, but of course the project I’ve got on the burner now has a slightly uncertain road map. I’m about 25k into the first draft and want to finish the first draft by the end of the year if I can.

Published a review of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng with PLOUGHSHARES. They were an absolute delight to work with, and I can’t wait to do it again soon.

My previous months of reading on Wonder Woman led a piece that will be forthcoming in publication I’m really excited about! I’ll post a link when it’s out.

Life, etc

Touristy train rides taken: 1

Soccer games cheered at: 3

My preschooler’s skipped nap to my early bedtime ratio this month: 1:1

Minutes spent on Twitter this month: 1, and feeling happier for it

Date nights with husband that went awry: 1

All in all, it hasn’t been an excellent month. A few awesome things: started watching Star Trek (TNG) for the first time and my trivia team dominated a local trivia night. Still, I’m not sad to say farewell to September. May October bring us all peace, joy, and candy.

 

 

 

August Wrap-Up

Reading Life

Total Books Read: 15

ARCs: 4

Audiobooks: 6

Books I read this Month that I can’t stop recommending: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Best of the Month, which I also highly recommendThe Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin-(I can’t believe this trilogy is over!) and And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

If you loved Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, Books That Shook Us is collecting minireviews until October 1, so submit! It’s going to be a fun set of posts about an amazing series.

Writing Life

Articles finished: 3

scriveProgress made on shiny new thing: 7,000 words

I’ve been trying out Scrivener this month, and so far I’m enjoying it. I like the outline features and the note card organization. It’s nice to have separate places to do some thoughts about character development and store notes for research. Anyone else use Scrivener? Things you like/don’t like about it? Post in the comments. I’m still deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on buying after the trial is over.

Life, Etc

Batches of sugar cookies rolled out with the kiddos on a rainy Sunday: one (and let me just say that toddlers/preschoolers may not be quite old enough for the rolling out portion. We’re sticking to the decoration side from now on…)

Pinball Machines played: 5 (Arcade dates > any other date. I’m pretty amazing at Medieval Madness, by the way, if you need any small plastic trolls defeated with small silver balls).

Back to work this month, and my biggest is starting school for the first time. We’re all still working out the kinks in schedules here, but it’s nice to get back to a routine.

Hope you’ve had an excellent month!