What I’m Reading: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Young Adult Book Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

I picked up Anna and the Swallow Man from my local library on audiobook when I was browsing for a new listen. The story is about Anna, a young girl orphaned during the second World War, and her subsequent journey through Poland. I loved this book. The audiobook was only five hours long, but excellently narrated. The touch of fantasy in the novel was just right, and all of the characters were well developed.

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Books about the great wars can be depressing, this is heavy stuff, but it’s something I think is important to know about so that it never happens again. My heart ached for Anna through most of this book, but the narrative gave me cause to hope. The prose was lyrical, and the language delightful, I found it very easy to fall into this book and to keep listening.

5/5 Stars

JEH

A Writer’s Plans for 2018

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a great New Year, and maybe found a bit of time for reading, much like I did. I’m glad that 2018 is here. The end of 2017 found me distracted and blue, and I’m ready for a new start. After a busy 2017 releasing Under Jupiter and The Torc, and drafting The Circlet, it is time for a new plan for 2018.

In 2018, I do plan to finish the Artifacts of Avalum Series, with Books 2 and 3 releasing in Sprint and Winter (most likely). But mostly my writing life will be shifting focus because I got a writing grant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This grant will allow me to take four months off from my day job to focus entirely on writing. For the grant, which I’ve received from the Saskatchewan Arts’ Board (thank you Arts’ Board!), I will be working on a very specific project, namely some literary short stories. This is very different writing that what I normally post about here, but I love it just as much. (If you want a sample of this work, you can find a free story here, at Broken Pencil Magazine, but again, it is very different than the genre fiction I write).

I’m very excited to have dedicated time that is all mine to explore some themes I’ve been pondering for a few years. I start my ‘writing job’ March 1st, and I plan on spending the first couple months of 2018 planning how I will structure my days. I imagine they will involve lots of tea, coffee, and pretty notebooks (and a lot of hard work).

In reading, I set my Goodreads goal yesterday for 53 books in 2018. This is less than the 62 I read in 2017, and for that there are two reasons: 1. I hope to be spending a lot of time writing and rewriting, and 2. I hope to read some longer books. I’ve found over the past year that when I have a goal for reading a lot of books, I tend to choose quicker reads. This means that a lot of books I’ve purchased in the past have been sitting on my shelves for years. (CONFESSION: last year I had 67 books I hadn’t read yet on my upstairs shelves, I now have over 100!!!!). It is definitely time to do some catching up, so I WILL NOT be purchasing new books (probably… well…. maybe… okay, maybe I should be reasonable and say I will not purchase more than 5 new books this year – I hope instead to do some book trading at my local used book store).

So, with piles and piles of books waiting to be read, and a day job to get back to (for the moment), I will once again say Happy New Year, and all the best in 2018. Do you have any big plans you would like to share?

JEH

The Torc Cover Art Reveal

I’ve finally got to a good place with my new project, The Torc, and I’m hoping it will be ready for readers in a couple of months. Do you know what else is ready? The cover! Isn’t it beautiful? The art work was once again done by Leah Keeler. I love it, it might be my favourite so far, though the Twisted Currents cover is tough competition!

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Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #29

Well, this is it. I’m getting near to the end. There will be one more post after this one, to end on a nice round number, and then this series, and hopefully my goal, will be complete.

As it stands right now, I’m 43,767 words behind my target of 365,000, and I have until September 4th to get there! Now, I would be panicking if I hadn’t already signed up for the 3-Day Novel Wring Contest and have the entire long weekend booked off for writing. Not to mention that since I’ve returned from vacation, I’ve also returned to my writing groove.

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At the moment, I’m catching up on blogging (obviously), and then I’m going to get today’s words wrapped up, hopefully with a couple more than the required 1,000, so that I can make a dent in my deficit. Now that I’m nearing the end of my writing year, I’m realizing what a huge goal I set myself—especially considering that I have a full time day job and two small children. And then there is my 60 book reading goal for 2017! Next year I’m already planning to take it a bit easier, but more on that later. Time to get my daily writing done, sone enough it will be time to relax.

JEH

A Brief Review of the Kindle Scout Program

If you’ve been following along on my self-publishing journey of my latest novel, Under Jupiter, then you already know that I submitted it to Kindle Scout. Well, the news is in and Under Jupiter was not selected for publication by Kindle Press. In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be. Why? Because during my 30-day campaign and scout participation, I came to a firm conclusion on one thing: Kindle Press prefers highly popular fiction. And guess what, a teen novel about colonizing the solar system is not popular fiction.

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Overall, I had a good Scout experience. It was fun and addicting to follow along with my daily page views, and I liked seeing my book at the top of the Hot and Trending list. Also, I nominated books like mad during my 30 day sprint, since I was on the website anyway, and I ‘won’ three new e-books, which should be released sometime in the near future. I found Kindle Scout to be a fun website as a reader, since it takes no time at all to scan and nominate your favorite proposed titles.

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As a writer, I found Kindle Scout to be slightly beneficial to my exposure. My books had slightly more downloads while my latest work was up on Kindle Scout (which I think is partially due to more readers who don’t know me seeing my name). I’m planning to release Under Jupiter this weekend, at which time Kindle Scout will send an email out those people who nominated my book and let them know it is for sale. I’ll post an update after I’ve done this to say whether or not I get a sales boost from that feature.

As for what’s next, I’m working away on The Torc. Would I submit it to the Kindle Scout website? Probably not, because I felt Kindle Scout mostly just added a bit of a delay to my release schedule, and I’m too excited to share The Torc with the world.

What do you think? Do you like reviewing book previews on Kindle Scout?

JEH

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #26

Something has changed with the arrival of summer, and unfortunately that appears to be the amount of time I have for blogging and writing. I’ve been doing a miserable job keeping up here, and also keeping up with my 1,000 words a day goal. It’s been off and on lately. The good news is that if I forget one day, I tend to remember and prioritize it the next. I’ve found a few hours this weekend to dedicate to a “mini-marathon” and maybe I will somehow be able to catch up on the 23,000 words I’m behind on. If I could manage to catch up, that would mean I’d almost completed the draft of The Torc, the new thing I’m working on. Here’s a look at my word count chart for the beginning of June:

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The large number on the right is my current deficit. I realized the other day that if I was caught up, I would have less than 100,000 words to write before reaching my goal! That makes me feel pretty close to achieving my target with approximately 3 months to go. Time is ticking away quickly and there is still a lot I want to get done before September 1st, when my goal will shift to rewriting, though I plan on continuing to draft a lot, since drafting makes me happier than rewrites.

My day job has kept me busy, so busy that I haven’t even had time to read much, though I was traveling so I did finish a couple audiobooks. Being busy hasn’t stopped me from buying more books to read either. Or planning to read more books. I was terribly behind on my GoodReads entries, and just paused to enter all my recent reads. The funny thing is that I feel like I’ve missed entering a book, but if I have, I don’t know which one. This is why I use GoodReads, because otherwise I forget what I’ve read! Here’s a shot of some new books in my garden. They’re so pretty.

So, after catching up on my GoodReads entries, I’m still two books ahead of my GR goals, which is awesome. I wound’t be anywhere close if I hadn’t listened to so many audiobooks this year, but listening to books at the gym has been inspiring both for my reading and writing, and also for working out. My current listen is Graceling, which i’ve just started. It will probably take me a while to get through as it is 11 hours, and I don’t have any solo road trips planned, though I do have a family trip.

Alright, so for the next week, my goal is to catch up on blogging, aim for 1,500 words a day, and just continuing enjoying books. What are your plans?

JEH