To Read, or Not to Read
Wow, itís been a month already. Iím having trouble comprehending that it is already September. Wasnít I toasting in the New Year with Mortal Kombat X and a bottle of hard lemonade just last night? Given that my middle nephewís second birthday is tomorrow, I guess that means not. Shout out to Evan: Birthday Happy, Monkey! This month Iím writing on my living room couch, which I have just coaxed my cat out of. Sebastian finds it amusing the burrow himself in the storage flap that leads to the underside of this lovely piece of furniture. He pulls the back of the couch open, and there is a hole which we humans can use to stuff blankets and things underneath the couch. He likes to hide in there, under the couch where nobody can reach him. Until he starts poking your butt while youíre sitting there enjoying a cold beverage, you really canít tell heís there. When he does this, you canít exactly pull him out, unless you want to tear a massive hole in the fabric, bigger than the one thatís already there. I use cheese to get him to come out. The guy is a sucker for processed dairy goods. Now he is downstairs screaming at me with this deep, throaty meow because he wants to play hide-and-seek. Or heís stuck in my dadís office. Either wayÖ.. Ah, what the hell. Excuse me while I go examine the situation.
Nope, he wanted belly rubs. Anyway, letís talk writing!
The Professional Stuff
So, as you probably can imagine, I havenít gotten a ton of writing done in the last four weeks. I managed to rework pieces of chapters eleven and twelve, and I have a hand-written scribble of a good chunky scene for chapter thirteen. The novel has had to take a backseat because of everything else going on. In fact, if you look to your nearest calendar, youíll notice this blog post is about a week late too! I promise Iíll try to keep on a more regular schedule in the future; the intention was to write a blog and have it up on the first of every month. But I suppose the first week works too. Get off my back guys, gosh, I have a family to think about! I have cats to pull out of couches!
In the midst of not writing my novel, Iíve been writing some short fiction. If you go to the short fiction section of the website, youíll find a new story called Daddy Still Wonders. Itís a flash fiction piece centered on a controversial topic that I wrote about three weeks ago. I wrote it as a flash fiction, which means it shouldnít exceed two pages. Ideally, it shouldnít exceed one. But whoís counting?
Youíll all be happy to know Iím taking two fiction writing courses this semester, one called Narrative Techniques (which I just told you up above), and one called Advanced Fiction Workshop. This sounds like it should belong in the personal section, but I wanted to put it under professional, because Iím taking the classes for professional gain. Technically they arenít part of my degree programótheyíre considered electives (shame on me). However, Iím going after a writing certificate in Creative Writing, so theyíre helping me to achieve that dream. Plus it looks good on paper. In these classes, I am closely examining aspects of craft. Rather than just throwing up on paper, weíre actually being asked to think about what we produce and how we as individuals work with each piece of the writing craft to create unique work. This week we focused on perspective and point of view. ďOh, I know all about that,Ē youíre thinking. ďFirst person I, second person you, third person he/she. Whatís so hard about that?Ē Well, good friends, let me tell you, my professors gave me a root canal in explaining just how complex point-of-view is. Itís not as simple as deciding what pronoun to use. Did you know there are actually three types of third person? Iíll bet you didnít. Cuz neither did I.
The Personal Stuff
Speaking of school, my semester started up on August 22. Senior year, the time to figure out your life before you graduate and are forced to join the workforce and slave away the rest of your existence to pay the government money youíll never see again. What a time to be alive, right? I have absolutely no idea what Iím going to do. The plan was to go into editing and publishing, so I suppose thatís what Iím going to stick withÖ. Unless I get into graduate school. Yes, graduate schoolóthe other magical place people go when they still donít know what to do with their lives. Iím considering going after my Masters of Fine Arts in fiction. Itís a two year program, and if I can land an assistantship teaching for the college, I may be able to get the graduate degree for little to no money, and Iíll have a job after I graduate. Cool stuff, huh? And, get this, my thesis? Would be a 300 page novel. I think thatís pretty awesome. Aleksanderís Army might be what gets me my MFA. So thatís something I need to think about. The application deadline is March 1, 2017. I think Iím going to do it. Hereís to hoping I get in.
Well, I donít have a story for today, unless you want to hear about how I fried five of my fingers baking for Evanís birthday and pouring boiling water all over my hand while making tea. Not very exciting. Just kind ofÖ.burning and throbbing. So, instead, I thought Iíd do something a little different.
Iíve been asked way too many times lately: ďWhat are the best books youíve ever read?Ē Thatís pretty difficult for me to narrow down because I read more than I preform cell respiration (look it up, Biology students!) or sleep, but I thought Iíd give you my best go at it. Before I start, though, let me tell you Iím not sponsoring anyone or advertising anything. Iím just providing an opinion. You donít have to agree with me either. You can always close your browser if I really offend you. But if light-hearted book reviews offend youÖ.I think you need to see a professional.
So, here we go. My top five favorite books, in no particular order, are:
1) The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward
Ė Okay, so this is actually a series of books, not just one book. Oops. I think this counts though, because this is the series that inspired me to write professionally. The series, in short form, is about a group of super sexy, muscly vampires that are fighting one hell of a war against these undead vampire slayers called Lessers. Every book follows a different character, usually one of the members of the Brotherhood, as they go through some life struggle and fall in love with someone. The sarcasm in these books is just amazing, and Wardís attention to detail and character development is phenomenal. These books make me laugh, cry, rage quit, and contemplate my entire life all at the same time. I anticipate the new book every March. They get five stars from me every single time. And, before you ask, my favorite Brother is Wrath (the King), and if he doesnít count, Iím a sucker for Zsadist too.
2) Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Ė Yes, this is another romance, and this book is actually book fifteen in her Dark Hunters series. This book follows the leader of a group of undead gods, goddesses, and supernatural beings called Dark Hunters. It tells the leader Acheronís backstory, how he overcame his obstacles and fell in love, and how he became the man everyone knows, loves, and fears. I read Kenyonís books from time to time, just when Iím looking for a good romance fix, but when I got to this book, my life stopped. This book was incredibly heart-wrenching. Kenyonís ability to elicit empathy for her characters is outstanding. There was something different about the style she used for this book that she didnít use with the others, and it really did Acheron justice. Itís got a bit of history in it, thereís some awesome mythological happenings, and the characters literally jump off the page. I could read this book five billion times and never get over it. Hats off to you, Ms. Kenyon.
3) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ė If youíre looking for a unique book with an incredibly rich writing style, this is the novel for you. It is book one of a trilogy. I was told to read this book by a friend in my Environmental Science class in high school. Naturally, knowing absolutely nothing about it, I bought it a week later and started to read it. The story is centered on two characters, a young woman named Karou and an angel named Akiva. Karou is raised by chimera, which are kind of like animal-human hybrids, and Akiva is at war with this species and goes on toÖwell, I canít tell you. It would ruin it. There is some light romance, but there is so much more to the story than the overshadowing love story. The details of the worlds that Taylor describes are simply awe-inspiring. The richness of the writing style itself is quite compelling, and the reader can clearly picture the entire story like a major motion picture (which I think this book is turning into, if it hasnít already). Iíve never read anything like it. I think I tackled it in 48 hours. I highly recommend it. Drink it up.
4) The Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson
Ė This was one of those books you get as a gift and youíre not quite sure what to do with it. Obviously, Iím more of a romance person. But when I received The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for Christmas in 2011, I thought ďWell, I might as well read it.Ē So, I tried. And I failed. These books are incredibly difficult to get through if youíve never had to read anything densely complex, or translated from another language (Challenge yourselfs, sissies!). About a year later I tackled it again, this time reading each chapter slowly and using Sparknotes to help me for the first several chapters (I used it the way itís supposed to be used, you heathens!), reading the chapter with the browser open in order to learn how to read it. After the first third of the book, reading about Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist and their detective adventures and computer hacking was no problem at all. In fact, I admired the story. It was quite unique and rich in content. It was one of those series that really makes you think, cringe, and empathize with people you might not ever otherwise relate to... I canít really describe it other than that. It was just...great. I would read it again. In fact, Iíll probably have to, as I just received book four as a gift.
5) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Ė Read this. Read this right now. I donít care how old you are or where youíre from. This is a fantastic book. It follows a young girl named Liesel as she grows up in Nazi Germany, stealing books from buildings and book burnings in the town center to find comfort while her father houses a Jewish man in the family basement. Itís quite touching, and, if youíre into history, it also has some factual information in there too. I blew through this book in a matter of hours. It was an accident, actuallyómy sister bought it for herself and I happened to pick it up and start reading it while I was supposed to be cleaning the house. Oops again. I have no regrets. Oh! And get this. The narrator? Is wicked cool. I wonít spoil it for you, but it adds a whole new meaning to third person omniscient. Hey, thereís that point-of-view thing again!
So there are my mediocre book reviews for you. At the very least, it gives you something new to look into reading. You might not like these books, or you may love them even more than I do and find a better way to communicate how awesome they are. As you can see, Iím not the best at giving solid reviews. Hopefully they made sense though. Check them out, give them a skim, or just tell me what some of your favorite books are on the Facebook post tied to this blog (on my official fan page), which you can access at the bottom of the website. Neato, huh?
I plan to get another third of the novel done before Christmas. Iím not far from that goal. Iím just lazyÖ And busy. More busy than lazy. With that being said, Iíll be back in Spoopy October, with spooders and creepy crawly things, like moths, spindly trees, clowns, and badly made jack-o-lanterns created by yours truly.
Best regards & several pounds of sour cream and cheese,
Kat Jenning // Shade Shadows
**If you know me, then you know Green Day is my absolute favorite band. This is their new single. The new album, Revolution Radio, is out on October 7, 2016. What a lovely birthday present.**