For Writers, Read Write Grow Book Club

Read Write Grow Writer’s Book Club: Story Genius

February’s pick for our writer’s book club was Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I really enjoyed it, and I feel like it ties in really well with our March pick which is Save the Cat Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody.

Here are the discussion questions for Story Genius (You can post the answers here in the comments, on your own blog, or even on the post over on Instagram.):

  1. Did you do some/all of the exercises in the book?
  2. If so, which ones did you find most helpful?
  3. Cron views “plotting” and “pantsing” as writing methods and says they don’t work. What are your thoughts about this?
  4. Which part of the book was your favorite or that you found to be most helpful?
  5. Do you have any other thoughts about the book?

I’ll post my answers/review within the next couple of days, and I’ll try to get the questions for Save the Cat up earlier. I was running behind with these questions. Keep an eye on my Instagram stories, as that’s where I’ll post the poll for April’s book pick.

Happy Reading!

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Book Reviews

Chasing Starlight Book Review

So I’m finding that I really love these historical murder mysteries! I’m probably going to have to do a post on all the ones I have read, but that will be for another time. 🙂

The Blurb

1938. The Golden Age of Hollywood. Palm trees and movie stars. Film studios pumping out musicals, westerns, and gangster films at a furious pace. Everyone wants to be a star―except society girl and aspiring astronomer Kate Hildebrand, who’d rather study them in the night sky. She’s already famous after a childhood tragedy turned her into a newspaper headline. What she craves is stability.

But when Kate has to move to Hollywood to live with her washed-up silent film star grandfather, she walks into a murder scene and finds herself on the front page again. She suspects one of the young men boarding in her grandfather’s run-down mansion is the killer―maybe even her grandfather. She searches for clues.

Now, Kate must discover the killer while working on the set of a musical―and falling in love. Will her stars align so she can catch the murderer and live the dream in Old Hollywood? Or will she find that she’s just chasing starlight?

My Review

This book was so good! I was immediately drawn into Kate’s world, and I cared about what would happen to her. I loved how she was into astronomy and wanted to go to school to study it. I also loved the romance between her and Hugo.

The setting and atmosphere were great! A creepy old mansion and the glamour of old Hollywood sets. And even though it started out rocky, I loved seeing how Kate’s relationship with her grandfather developed into one of true and trusted family. I also really liked the way Kate came to terms with what happened in her past and became stronger for it!

And the Nancy Drew reference! I love it!!

If you love Nancy Drew, you’ll definitely love this book, but I think it will also appeal to fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson and the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson.

Have you read this one? What’s your favorite historical fiction murder mystery? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews

Unbirthday Book Review

This was book was my pick for January as part of the #fairytalereadingchallenge. If you missed the post about the challenge, you can check it out here.

About the Book

What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?

Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She’d rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian’s lively salon, ignoring her sister’s wishes that she stop all that “nonsense” and become a “respectable” member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss. Yao’s teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She’s also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she’s curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming.

But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects-the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There’s something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all-a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice’s help. Mary Ann.

Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts’ tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?

My Review

While I enjoyed this book, I did not think it was as good as some of the other books in the Disney Twisted Tale Series. I liked the way it portrayed Alice – an intelligent girl not easily swayed by whatever those around her believed. I loved that she was a photographer, and I liked how the author used Alice’s photography to connect her with Wonderland.

I also like how each Wonderland character had a real world equivalent, and I especially liked Katz.

This book had a fair amount of silliness, which of course is on par with the nonsense of Wonderland, and for a minute I was afraid I was not going to like how the book ended. The ending was unexpected, but satisfactory. However, the book is quite long, right at five hundred pages, and I think some of the silly stuff could have been cut without taking away from the story.

Also, I think I had pretty high expectations for this one after reading and loving Straight on Till Morning so much. It was enjoyable, but not my favorite of the Twisted Tales.

Have you read Unbirthday? What did you think of the book? Let me know in the comments!

Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog Hop (Feb. 2020)

This is my second time participating in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (if you missed the first post, you can check it out here). If you are a fellow writer, they have tons of great resources, so you’ll want to check out their site. And you can follow along with the blog hop here.

February 3 question – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

I have made so many friends through my blog and other social media sites! I have found many supportive writer friends as well as some great writer groups. There are so many it would be hard to name them all, but here are a few of my favorites (some are reading blogs, and some are writing blogs):

L.M. Durand’s Little Book Corner – There is a lot of great bookish content to be found here! 🙂

Fairy Tale Central – This is an awesome site with all things you could possibly want to know about fairy tales, and since I write fairy tale retellings, I use it often.

Tessa Talks Books This is another great book review blog.

The Story Sanctuary – I love all the book reviews on this site, and there is also info about bookish giveaways and contests!

The Geekish Brunette – This is another site with all kinds of bookish content.

Kira Jeanette – This blog has both reading and writing content! 🙂

Mica Scott Cole – This is a great blog for writers with lots of helpful articles on writing!

Ronel the Mythmaker – Ronel particpates in this blog hop as well, and it was through her blog that I found out about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Tons of great stuff on her blog. 🙂

Camilla Tracy – Camilla is part of my wonderful writing group!

Stars, Quills, and Crumpled Papers – This is my sister’s blog, so kind of had to include it. 🙂 She has some great articles with lots of writing tips.

How about you? What are some of your favorite blogs? Let me know in the comments!

Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog Hop

I just discovered this writer’s group – The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. There are all kinds of resources for writers on their website and they have a blog hop as well. (Check out the blog hop and all the participants here.)

The official posting day for the blog hop is the first Wednesday of the month, so my post is late, but it was a fun question to answer, so I decided to just go ahead and answer it! 🙂

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

There are not many things that stop me from finishing a book, but I do get frustrated with certain things:

Killing /cruelty to animals – I absolutely hate this, and it can often be enough for me to stop reading a book. Although many times it happens at the very end of the book, so then I’m angry that I wasted my time reading the book. In most instances, there is no reason for this.

I hate to even have to mention this one, but amateurish writing – writing that overuses adverbs, tells rather than shows, and head hops. And yes, I have read publishing house books that have all these things in them.

Stream of consciousness writing – Sorry, I just can’t get into it, and this is another case where I will often stop reading.

What about you? What’s one thing that will make you stop reading a book?

For Writers, Read Write Grow Book Club

Introducing the Read, Write, Grow Writer’s Book Club

One of my goals for 2021 is to read at least one book on writing per month. To help me reach that goal, I’ve decided to create a writer’s book club – the Read, Write, Grow Writer’s Book Club.

Anyone who is interested can join in, just leave a comment here on my blog or on any of my social media sites letting me know you’d like to participate. Each month, I’ll have some discussion questions I’ll share here on my blog and on my Instagram page, and you can share your answers either on your own blog, your social media sites, or in the comments of my posts. You can tag me @charityrau on IG and @charityrau1 on Twitter and use #readwritegrowbc with your posts.

For February, I’ve chosen the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron since it has been on my TBR for forever. Going forward into the next few months, I’d love to have some input from others about book choices, so if you have a suggestion drop it down in the comments!

Here’s the suggested reading schedule for February:

I’ll post the discussion questions the last week of February so participants will have some time to post their answers before the end of the month. If you don’t finish until the very end of February or even into March, that’s fine. You can still post your answers once you’ve finished.

Want to join in on the fun? Let me know in the comments! 🙂 And if you want to stay up to date on all the book club news via email, you can sign up here.

Book Reviews

My Top Reads of 2020

Despite this rollercoaster year, I managed to read some pretty great books! Here are my top ten of the year:

  1. Straight on Till Morning by Liz Braswell. Part of Disney’s Twisted Tale series, this is a Peter Pan retelling. Check out my full review here.
  2. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. This was so good, and it’s one of those books I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read. I’m excited to read the rest of the series to see how the three sisters’ stories end.
  3. Finish First by Scott Hamilton. Figure skating is my favorite sport to watch, and Scott Hamilton is one of figure skating’s greatest athletes. He is also an outstanding role model, and all of his books are uplifting and inspiring.
  4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed. This was an unexpected top read. I had heard lots of great things about the book, but the blurb did not really pull me in, and it is not my typical genre. So, I was sort of expecting this book not to live up to the hype. However, it did live up to the hype and made it’s way to my top ten list. 🙂
  5. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. I have enjoyed all of Sager’s books, but this one along with Lock Every Door, are my favorites.
  6. Roaring by Lindsey Duga. I was lucky enough to be on a blog tour for this one. I was really intrigued by the unique blurb, but was not expecting to love it as much as I did. Check out my full review here.
  7. The Companion by Katie Alendar. I read a sampler of this book and was immeditely hooked. I bought the book as soon as I had finished reading the sampler. Check out my full review of this book here.
  8. Horse Crazy by Sarah Maslin Nir. I enjoyed this book so much, I’m doing my own spin on the premise of the book in a blog post. Coming soon!
  9. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. This had everything I love in a YA mystery/thriller novel, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!
  10. Atomic Habits by James Clear. As someone who often struggles with forming good habits, I found the tips and strategies in this book to be very helpful. Many of them I will be trying out in the New Year. 🙂

What about you? What were your best reads in 2020? Let me know in the comments!

Uncategorized

My Writing Goals 2021

I have a lot of writing goals, some more achievable than others. 🙂 For this year, I wanted to narrow in on a few primary goals, divided by topics. Since it always great to have accountability, I’m sharing them here with you all.

Novel Writing

As of right now, I have seven completed manuscripts in various stages of revision. One I have set to the side, unsure if I can get it into the proper form for publication. My current WIP is the closest to publication ready, and this is the one I’m focusing in on for this year. I also have a sequel – the manuscript is nearly complete, so I would like to finish that manuscript this year as well.

  1. Finish all the revisions/edits for my current WIP (TBSK).
  2. Prep TBSK for publication.
  3. Complete first draft of NN.
  4. Start revisions/edits of NN.

Blog/Website

Another thing I want to focus on is this blog! I’m fairly good at posting, but I know I could do better. 🙂

  1. Post at least once a week, ideally twice a week.
  2. Create newsletter incentive.
  3. Send newsletter out periodically.

Social Media

My main writerly platforms are on Instagram and Twitter, so I am going to focus on growing both platforms.

  1. Grow Instagram and Twitter.
  2. Plan out content for posts.

Reading

I do lots of reading – especially in the genre I’m writing. I participate in several reading challenges each year, and you can check out the challenges I’m doing this year here.

But I don’t read as much nonfiction, and I want to read more books on all aspects of writing. So, my goal is to read at least one book on writing per month.

What about you? What are your goals for 2021? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

My 2021 Reading Goals

For this year, I have five main challenges I’m participating in:

  1. The Book-olopy Challenge

This challenge is based on the Monopoly game. There is a printable game board with spaces that have reading prompts. You choose how many books you want to read per month and make that many plays on the board to determine what kind of books you will be reading.

I rolled the dice three times and came up with these three prompts:

*College Corner – I’ll read Freaky in Fresno. *Fae Fairway – I’ll read Whisper. *Retelling – I’ll read Unbirthday.

You can find out all the details about this challenge here.

2. The Unread Shelf Challenge

I have participated in this challenge for the last several years, and the idea is to read unread books from your own shelves. I have a ton of unread books on my shelves, so this challenge is perfect for me.

My first pick for this challenge is Unbirthday by Liz Braswell. You can find all the details about this challenge here.

3. The Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge

The challenge is a little different this year. Instead of having random prompts, you go through some evaluation exercises and create your own list of prompts.

There are also some prompt lists for various types of reading. Since my reading time is my relaxing time, I’ll be checking off the prompts for “Reading for Comfort”, and my first read for this challenge is Little Women.

You can find all the details about this challenge here.

4. The Beachcomber’s Mystery Reading Challenge

The idea behind this challenge is to fill up four “beach bags” (cards with prompts). Each beach bag has a theme: Detectives, Victims, Weapons, and Crime Scenes. As you find each thing from the cards in your books, you mark it off.

My first pick for this challenge is The First to Die.

You can find all the details for this challenge here.

5. The Fairytale Reading Challenge

This is the challenge I am hosting! 🙂 This is a monthly challenge – each month has been assigned a fairytale, and you can read the original fairytale, a retelling(s), or both.

January’s fairytale is Alice in Wonderland. My primary read will be Unbirthday by Liz Braswell, but I would also like to reread the original story as well as Splintered by A. G. Howard and The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. Check out all the details and get a printable bookmark here.

What about you? What reading challenges will you be participating in this year? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

Introducing the Fairytale Reading Challenge!

For 2021, I am hosting a reading challenge! Since I write and love to read fairytale retellings, I decided to make that the theme for the challenge. 🙂

The challenge is pretty simple. Each month has a fairytale assigned to it, and you can choose any retelling of that fairytale to read for that month, or read the original fairytale. If you are feeling ambitious, you can read both. 🙂

Feel free to share the graphic on social media with #fairytalereadingchallenge. I’ve also created a printable bookmark with all the prompts which you can find below.

I’ll be participating in the #unreadshelfchallenge again this year (more about this to come in another post), and I’ve selected mostly unread books I have on my shelf for this challenge. Here are my picks:

My Picks

January – Unbirthday by Liz Braswell (Alice in Wonderland)

February – A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, Rebel Rose by Emma Thieriault (Beauty and the Beast)

March – Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Peter Pan)

April – Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, The Wish Granter by CJ Redwine (Rumplestiltskin)

May – Entwined by Heather Dixon Wallwork, House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (The Twelve Dancing Princesses)

June – Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (Sleeping Beauty)

July – Part of Your World by Liz Braswell (The Little Mermaid)

August – Hood by Jenny Elder Moke, Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (Robin Hood)

September – Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George (Red Riding Hood)

October – The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad, The Stolen Kingdom by Bethany Atazedeh (Aladdin)

November – Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (The Frog Prince)

December – Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige, Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita (The Snow Queen)

If you’re looking for books to fill a specific prompt, check out the Epic Reads list and the Fairytale Central list for some more options.

What about you? What fairytale retellings are you planning on reading this year? Let me know in the comments!