reading, Train, writing

Reading memories of 2011

I hope everybody is having a wonderful holiday season and enjoying quality time with loved ones…The Class of 2011: YA Superlatives blogfest organized by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott and Alison Miller starts tomorrow. I will be participating on Friday (post already scheduled :-))

I have seen in the past days a lot of 2011 lists popping up on the blogosphere which made me think of my 2011 reading year. Are you ready for some flashbacks?

My top 5 reading memories of 2011

1. Fighting to keep my tears in check in the train (and failing) or laughing out loud in the train (and not caring, well not totally caring about others looking at me like I had gone mad)

2. Finally getting some of my historical fiction fix (especially on the very intriguing time of Louis XIV)

3.  Roaming the bookstore, going for an impulsive buy and falling in love with a novel I had never heard of before (for some of them I now almost own all the author´s published books)

4. Relaxing with a cup of tea, a good book and missing my bedtime.

5. Reading so much that my writing has improved (thank you dear published authors out there for making me a better writer :-))

So tell me what are your best reading memories of 2011?

Observations, reading

Online, in the store, by the river bank: books everywhere!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This Week’s Topic: Where do you buy most of your books? No one is judging!
Hmmm…I buy books everywhere, really, wherever my feet or my fingers take me.I´m sure you heard of an online store called Amazon…Well this is where I get most of my books these days. To be more precise: on Amazon.de (and then I go to the English or French sections). Sometimes, also on ebay if the book I really is out of print (e.g. you know when you discover an author and you want to read aaaaaaaaalllll of their books but they´re just not available)

The train station: if I´m there very early and it´s already late in the evening and I´m tired…I will go in the bookstore of the train station and treat myself to a book. That´s my type of retail therapy (ok I have other ones as well like clothes and trying on shoes…trying on because it´s tough to find ones which just fit…anyways :-))

The city: In the German Barnes and Nobles (i.e. Hugendubel) or in the little independent bookstore which has a lot of books in French and English.

And…when I´m in Paris, I love to roam through the old little bookstores (imagine the kind of story the book in your hand may have already gone through!) and the “bouquinistes” on the river bank.  I simply love getting lost on the other side of Notre-Dame browsing what they have to offer.

Where do you get your books? 

writing

What did I learn this year?

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Before jumping into any good resolution for 2012, I am looking back at what I learned (writing-related) in 2011. Here are my top 5 lessons of the year.

1. Keep trying

This WIP is a long time coming. It´s the first one I am powering through. I have about 5 other drafts from past years which never saw the magical words “The End”. However, I learned to come back, to not give up. Some days might be better than others but I keep the goal in mind.

2. Learn and research

Writing is a learning process. I am very thankful for all the great posts, advice, websites I have found which remind me it is ok to not know everything. It is a very humbling experience. I try to write better than myself and the competition is tough 🙂

3. Take a break

A breather. A walk outside. An evening without the laptop. We all need to recharge and we cannot beat ourselves if one time, we do not reach the number of words we wanted so badly. Why? what is good for us is mainly good for our story.

4. Read and keep reading

I am lucky that during my commute I can devour books. Reading helps me to write and it also reminds me on how much I would like to have people reading my story. Plus, I get to escape in other worlds, walk in other people’s shoes if only for a few hours. It’s just wonderful!

5. Connect

Roaming forums (not anymore a lurker but a proud member of several writing communities), websites, answering questions, starting this blog and getting on Twitter helped me a great deal. It taught me that support may come from unknown places and that many others go through the same loops as I do. Thanks again to all!

What lessons did 2011 teach you?

Photography

Winter impressions…

Photography is one of my hobbies…I can get lost in the moment trying to find an angle, a light, a message in nature or in people´s eyes. It´s been awhile since I found the time to actually venture out with my camera. Below you will see some winter impressions from the past years (when we actually had a little bit of snow).

But as always, I´m curious: what is your hobby?

And because there is always hot spiced wine 🙂

writing, young adult

Déjà Vu Blogfest: A picture is worth a thousand words…

Today I am part of The Déjà Vu Blogfest , where we bring back our favourite post or the one we believe may not have gotten enough attention (click on the link to see who else is participating :-)).

I decided to bring back my moonlight muse…I mean I wrote about the music muse and received quite a bit of comments. However, before I actually had followers (thanks again by the way, hug to everybody and if you´re not into hugs, I am shaking your hand very formally), I shared a picture of an evening which inspired me. Cannot wait to read  if a sun or a moon or a butterfly or a traffic jam can get  you to write or to think about the story of a book you read!

A picture is worth a thousand words…

By what do you get inspired? It is almost like asking: why are you writing?  It is difficult to grasp where the writing scenes come from…

Sometimes one can recognize in the MC´s habits, way of talking some small traits of a loved one, of an acquaintance, of somebody from the past or even of oneself.

Tonight, as I was outside looking at the moon reflecting on the water, I wondered what my main character would feel on an evening like this with everything she has been going through…

Is she thinking of Aleksi, the one who not only gives her butterflies but is no longer as mysterious as she first thought?

Is she pondering the words of Ben? Is she wondering what he meant when he said Aleksi was dangerous? How does he even know him? The guy just arrived…

Or maybe she is actually tired of the stupid drama and just wants to figure out why this entity is coming after her and her loved ones, why she has flashbacks from another time and what the heck happened to Marie and Elijah, those girls who are linked to her over the centuries?

As I type this and look at the moon, I know a scene is unfolding, I feel the pain of my character and I just want to tell her “Sorry you have to go through all of this but remember, you have it in your power to make the right decision…this time around”

And if she did hear me, her reply would be “Can´t you be a tad more specific? I mean come on people…I just cannot guess what you think, you need to spell it out for me. I am tired of this!” and she would storm out.

She does have a little temper of her own…(my husband would say I am projecting :-))

Do moonlights inspire you or remind you of a book you´ve read?

writing

Santa Claus is coming…to my novel :-)

Thanks to Road Trip Wednesday, I will not rant about how my train decided to come late (again….) today 🙂

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic:
What would be the ideal holiday present for your main character (or favorite character)?
So what could it be?

Unlimited books? Adorable puppies (awww, aren´t they adorable?)?

Superpowers? (I mean she has some powers but they seem to get her into trouble). All of these gifts would make her happy, no doubt about that but none of them are the ideal holiday present.
Are you ready to know what would make her go: “Thank you sooooo much! How did you know? Oh my gosh, that is SO sweet!”
Those two little words are her ideal gift.  She needs me to finish telling (I mean showing :-)) her story. She is going through a difficult time right now…and she´s ready to know what happens next, no matter what may come.
So tell me: what is the ideal holiday gift for your favorite character? (either the one you write about or the one you can´t stop reading about)
writing

Help needed: The writer and the quest for criticism

Over the week-end, I reached 43k in my YA paranormal romance, I blogged, enjoyed the Christmas Market, worked out, tweeted (I am becoming an official addict of Twitter) and cooked. Go, me, go! (*does her own little cheerleading dance while husband rolls eyes*). I decided to take part in Deja Vu Blogfest (more details here) ´cos it sounds like fun 🙂

I also roamed the internet and the wonderful-super-helpful forums (Absolute Write, YAlitchat.org) to learn more about getting crit partners and beta readers. First, I had to come to terms again that writing meant I did have to learn a new language (what the heck is the difference between a crit partner and beta readers?), this post helped me clarify a bit. Basically, a beta reader gives you a full impression (more on the plot/characters than on the hard editing) while a crit partner may tear your draft apart with language/vocab/grammar error. Am I getting this right? Feel free to correct me if I´m wrong. ..

Then, the next question came: when do I actively start looking for either one of those? And here I am at loss. I am not sure if I should already try to dig out my beta-reader(s) or my crit partner(s).

So, now on to you and your knowledge/experience/ideas: when did you start looking for a crit partner/beta reader? Did you even have one? Will you look for one if like me you´re still in the middle of your first draft?