Review: Running in Circles

Running in CirclesRunning in Circles by Lauren Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oy vey

Not for the faint of heart. Running in circles is a highly entertaining, thrilling, and disturbing tale about a small town monster.

The style of the text weaves flashbacks and present scenes seamlessly, creating a full narrative that ties everything together in the end.

I’m nervous about giving spoilers so I’ll give a warning not to read on from here.

The development of the sherif is what really makes this book stand out. Filling out his whole life story is what really makes it special. There is some tension over the course of the book where you’re left asking who the killer is and are led to believe it’s other characters but the author always left clues that pointed back to the true killer.

While the plot is important what makes this book so memorable is it’s pro/antagonist.

What you will be left thinking about when you finish is just how easily monsters can live amongst us.

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Final First Draft of 2017

So long 2017! It’s been something. Well, on top of entering my final year of grad school, 2017 proved to be more of a year for writing, rather than editing. I am more than happy to have had one book release this year but 2018 is looking like it will be more of a year of output. In otherwords, visible results rather than the rough draft inputs I’m used to doing.

Today, December 28th, I completed my final rough draft of 2017. At 84k words this marks my fourth full-length manuscript of the year, none of which I have actually edited. I can’t help it, even now I am looking at my computer thinking about a couple of ideas I have for novels I wouldn’t mind starting, but discipline in writing and writing goals, is what got me to the point where I have more than two handfuls of rough drafts on my computer.

Since I began this writing journey in 2014, I have practiced and developed my own writing style, and I must admit it has been a blast to watch myself develop as a writer and experiment with different approaches.

However, I know I have reached my peak unless I am willing to now practice a new form of author discipline. That of actually completing the novel. While having close to a million words of unedited manuscripts on my computer is a personal accomplishment, it is not one that brings measurable success. No one is rewarded for the potential of their work, and no one develops a fan base by simply typing up new manuscripts that never leaves the vault.

That is why 2018 will be the year of editing. I have four manuscripts lined up and plan on dedicating 2 months on each (with some leeway of course. Part of the reason I’ve left four months open).

Currently, I am trying to decide which manuscript I want to start 2018 with. I have narrowed it down to two.

  • The Absolute, which is a story about a painter who lost faith in God and returns to his hometown when he is commissioned to paint the new chapel. There he finds faith does not have to come in the form of one belief, but rather finding a purpose to live for.


  • The Pathetic Tycoon, which is an action based book dealing with themes of legacy and self-worth. The main plot is a rescue of the protagonist’s little brother from the hands of the most respected criminal in the city. The secondary plot is about the rivalry between the criminal’s lifelong attempt to legitimize his business, and the protagonist’s best friend, who inherited his parents’ empire upon their premature passing.

The longest edit will probably be the 130k word satire I wrote over the summer about a future world where all labor is completely automated and the only place for humans to exist is in celebrity and innovation (since machines can’t create anything new on their own). The fourth book will either be the one I just finished writing today or Something About Maude which has been on my (To Be Edited) list forever!

It’s kinda funny how all the hard work really begins once you finish the rough draft, but it’s also when you see the most results. I always joke that writing is more satisfying than editing because you get that instant gratification of word count goals and seeing something come from a blank page. But editing brings the long-term satisfaction. The sort of results that could last a lifetime if you’re lucky. All that work I put into writing in 2017 will make all the opportunities I find in 2018 possible.

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Review: Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was a creepy tale. It was one of those books where I read about 70% of it in about two days, then reached 90% by the end of the week, only to put it down for the rest of the month to recover before I found the energy to finally finish it. In part, I blame the holiday season for distracting me (though it can be enjoyable to read in front of the fireplace on Thanksgiving I was not given that opportunity). However, I think most of the blame falls on this thought-provoking an intense tale. I know this because my largest break came after (view spoiler)

The political landscape in this tale was a fascinating hyperbole of all our worst nightmares of outcomes where the separation between church and state crumbles, and what adds to the sheer terror of this text is the memory of life before the regime the characters have. Offred does not have the benefit of the younger generations of only growing up in her harsh reality and she struggles to forget about the freedom she used to have, which frequently jeopardizes her life.

Now that I have finished the book I look forward to watching the Hulu adaptation of it.

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Giveaway Blues

If you follow authors on social media you’ve probably seen the news by now. Goodreads is changing their Giveaway service for authors; well they’re not really changing anything. They list 4 features for their standard package, which is $119, but most of those features already exist in some capacity. It’s a bold move to charge authors (a lot of them indie) to pay over a hundred dollars to give their book away for free. It might end up working out for Goodreads but I know it won’t be from me.

The email from Goodreads announcing these changes really bummed me out. Personally, I loved giving my books away to anyone willing to read them (reviews or not) because I like the idea that I’m entertaining another person. Sure they might think what I write is a piece of shit and laugh the whole way through (or just use the book as a frisbee) but it’s still entertainment.

I will not be participating in the Giveaway program anymore, but I am pretty liberal with my product so if you want to read my books (present and future) feel free to just drop me a line and I’ll most likely send you a copy. Ask politely with the right emoticons and I’ll probably send you a paperback.

“Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.”
-Thor Heyerdahl

That One Thing

It’s funny, I look back at my three main works on here and they all share a glaring resemblance; I have not published a full-length novel yet. It’s not for a lack of trying. As I look through my unedited manuscripts now I see there are 11 incredibly crappy texts ranging from 55-110k words, all easily passing that 50k threshold, but for some reason, none of them have called to me the way my shorter and published works have.

I like to joke when asked that editing novellas are just easier than full-length manuscripts but in reality, my shorter texts just had that it factor that drew me back before the others.

For Brinwood it was Milly. I knew I had to finish a tale that included her. For Lost in the Clouds it felt more like accomplishing/finishing a story I began telling back in the 4th grade. As for Just Under the Sky; when I began editing that I only had one other manuscript on my computer (a crime comedy called Hopscotch and Keyes, which had a completely disastrous ending I didn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole).

But I’m all out of novellas now, and it’s sort of terrifying because I know the next thing I publish will be a full-length book, which means it will be fairly compared to other full-length novels and I can’t help but feel I may not be at an adequate level as a writer just yet. I mean to be fair do we ever reach that level? I like to think self-doubt is as American as apple pie and more common than oxygen, but it doesn’t make dealing with it any easier.

As exciting as writing is it also carries a weight that the moment you publish you are being compared to the people you were idolizing years ago (maybe not explicitly but at the very least subconsciously when people jump over your title to get the one your hero wrote because why settle for the poor man’s version of it?).

It’s this constant battle in my head, and I am sure in other writers’ heads as well that I want to simultaneously be recognized for my work without the actual spotlight. I don’t know, it’s like what I love about writing is exploring the infinity of my personal space. What brings me joy is sharing its limitless boundaries with readers; then what terrifies me is having those boundaries invaded by those who want to know more, which is a direct contradiction to the thing I just said brings me joy so it just keeps pounding away in my head until I write again.

It’s funny because even now I think I may be writing this blog post because I finished a portion of my writing duties for the day and I just don’t feel ready to transition back to my daily duties just yet and was looking for some sort of buffer.

I’m just editing this book right now, working title is The Absolute, and it’s a doozy and it’s some sort of funny-sad because there are parts of this I am just pouring everything I got into and I still know it’ll never compare to the people I read for my pleasure.

I mean I’m writing a book where the protagonist’s ultimate goal is to literally kill God (with a big G) and all I can think about while I’m exhausting myself with edits is “Who’s really gonna read this piece of shit?” I mean it’s too pretentious to be commercial, and it’s too sloppy to be pretentious, and then I’m scared I’m just gonna be seen as some wannabe genius (if I’m lucky enough to be seen at all) when in reality I’m just writing the fucking book that comes to me.

I don’t know; I know this blog post has become a bit of a bumble ramble bomble and I apologize for boring anyone who took the time to read it. I usually put at least some thought and measurement into the words I put into the world but maybe instead of searching for some sort of ending to tie this whole thing together I just shut the faucet off and let the sink drain.