What I’m Reading, What I’m Writing: Reading challenge update and preparing to submit

Inspired by the New Hampshire Writer’s Network Live to Write – Write to Live blog, I’ve decided to start my own regular posts about what I’m currently reading in books, audio books and blogs, and what I’m working on in my writing. I hope to make this a regular (weekly or biweekly) feature on the blog.

I hope you’ll share what interesting things you’re reading and writing in the comments, and please feel free to link back to your own blog!

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As Spring timidly begins to show her reluctant face, things are picking up. I have a busy few weeks ahead and it seems the first half of summer is already spoken for. In preparation of events to come, I’ve been quiet on the social media front. While I have certainly fallen behind on my blogging, I haven’t fallen behind on my reading. In fact, with 13 out of 44 books read so far this year, I’m one book ahead of schedule on my 2014 Reading Challenge!

Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to.

What I’m ReadingApe House Sara Gruen

In the last few weeks, my selection of reads have been across a variety of genres. I took a nostalgic trip to my younger days, listening to the audio book of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I first read this as a teen, and I was surprised to find how much of it stayed with me over the years that have passed.

I read my first Neil Gaiman book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a magical and transformative read. I listened to the audio book read by Neil Gaiman himself which itself was a treat!

I read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a fun and quirky read. I flew through a lighthearted read, The Men I Didn’t Marry, and slogged through Proof of Heaven, a book I thought I would enjoy but didn’t.

Now I’ve just picked up Sara Gruen’s Ape House. Have you ever loved a book so much, you were afraid to read another book by the same author out of fear of not loving it as much as the first? Water for Elephants ranks among my favorite books of all time, and since reading it years ago, I’ve avoided reading any of Gruen’s other novels.

I have finally put my reservations aside to read this book that I’ve wanted to read for so long.

 

What I’m Writing

After going through two rounds of critiquing with a trusted writer friend, and another set of revisions, I’m preparing to submit a short story for publication. This will be my first attempt at submitting a piece I have written, and I am equal parts excited and anxious.

I’ve begun researching literary magazines to possibly submit to (more on my lit mag adventures later) and am bracing myself for the rejections that are sure to come. I will be sure to share my progress along the way!

 

My Favorite Quote of the Week:

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Blogs and findings around the Interwebs

Five amazing tips to help you write your novel
I love these tips from Alice Hoffman.

Advice every young writer needs to hear
A collection of short videos from published authors sharing their advice.

Oh, the Places you’ll Go!
From the Write Unboxed blog, how to create an authentic sense of place in fiction.

The 9 Ingredients for Character Development
Some tips from Writer’s Digest

23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway
What can I say, I just LOVE quotes about writing. This is a great collection of some great ones from Hemingway.

10 Life Lessons to Excel in your 30s
I enjoyed this article and hope to get a head start on a few of these things before I enter the next decade of life!

 

Enjoy the weekend!

What are you reading? What writing projects are you currently working on? Share your reading and writing adventures in the comments, and feel free to link back to your own blog!

New Year’s Reading Resolution: 44 Books in 2014

In 2013, I challenged myself to read 40 books. I knew I wanted to read more this past year when I realized I had only read about a dozen books in 2012, and as it turns out, 2011 wasn’t much better.

After a few years of not reading as much as I’d like, I’m happy to say I reached my goal of 40 books!

My Books StatsI was on track with my goal throughout the year, but as 2013 was winding down, I was dangerously close to being one book short! Here’s what made reaching my goal difficult and what I plan to do differently this year:

  1.  I didn’t set my goal until several months into the year. I knew I wanted to read more, but it wasn’t until I discovered the Goodreads Reading Challenge that I decided to set a specific reading goal.
    I’m hoping that by starting the year off with a number in mind, reaching that number will be easier.
  2. I didn’t take into consideration how little I would be able to read during the entire month of November for National Novel Writing Month. It was tough to stay on track when I was spending every spare minute writing!
    This is where audiobooks are a great solution. Even when I don’t have time to read at home or on my lunch break, I can listen to an audiobook for an hour a day on my commute so that I don’t fall too far behind.
  3. Reading longer books may have set me back. I read all 800 plus pages of King’s 11/22/63 when I could have read two or three books in that same time frame.
    A reading challenge shouldn’t deter readers from choosing longer books – that defeats the purpose! I just have to get creative with the timing of the books I read.

Why set a reading goal? I like that having a goal makes me look at my reading habits and think about how much time I spend reading. It’s not so much about the quantity of books I can read in a year but about focusing on reading as much as I can because I enjoy it.

I’ve been thinking about what my goal should be for 2014. I’d like to challenge myself to read even more this upcoming year, but I want to make the goal a reasonable one.

I think I’ve settled on 44 books in 2014.

How did I arrive at that number? It’s a mixture of art and science, really. Mostly because 44 in 2014 has a nice ring to it, but also because it’s a slightly higher goal that still seems attainable.

If you’re thinking about taking on a reading challenge in 2014, check out my tips for Reaching your Reading Goals.

Will you be setting a reading goal for 2014? Let’s hear it!

Reaching your Reading Goals

A few months back, I wrote about making a reading challenge for myself. I set a goal to read 40 books in 2013. That’s 28 more books than I read in 2012. I’ve completed 25 books so far this year and I’m right on track.

Here are my tips so far for setting and sticking to your reading goals:

IMG_0450Make your goal a reasonable one

I knew I wanted to read more books this year when I realized I had only read 12 books last year. I have been astounded by readers who set goals of 100 or more books in a year. Kudos to them, but I knew that wouldn’t be a realistic goal for me! I settled on 40 books, because that’s a little bit more than 3 books a month which seemed reasonable for me and my schedule. For some people, it may be 12 books in a year, or 20. Setting an unrealistic goal for yourself can lead to frustration and disappointment. It’s not about picking a huge number, for me, it’s about making more time to read and paying more attention to my reading habits.

Keep track of what you’ve read

As previously mentioned, I’m using Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read, rate books, and add books to my To-Read list. Goodreads helps me stay on top of whether or not I’m on track for my goal and – if not – how far behind I am.

I would love to connect with other readers and bloggers on Goodreads! If you’re on Goodreads, please feel free to connect with me here.

You can also simply keep a hand-written list and cross books out as you go. Use the notepad app on your phone or even Evernote to log what you’ve read.

Make time to read

The greatest part about setting a reading goal for myself has been that I consciously make the time in my day to read by watching less T.V. and reading in small batches. I listen to audiobooks during my commute, I bring my Kindle to work so I can read on my lunch break. I read before bed, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, under the hair dryer at the hair salon. Spending those extra ten minutes reading, rather than checking my Facebook feed again has made all the difference.

Enjoy it!

A reading goal should be fun, not something to stress over! If you find you’re reading too fast and rushing to finish one book in order to start the next,  you may  be missing out.

What tips can you share about meeting reading goals?

How are you doing on your own reading challenge?

Setting Reading Goals

Sometime last year, I became curious about how many books I read in a year. I have never kept track and only had a vague reference of how long ago I’d read a particular book – last year? two years ago?

So I began keeping a list of books I read in 2012 and was shocked at how short the list was. Twelve. Twelve months, twelve books. Was that all, really? Take a look at my 2012 list.

Admittedly, 2012 was a bad reading year and I blamed it on the fact that I spent the majority of that year planning my wedding. But I knew, wedding or not, I simply wasn’t making enough time to read.

Jennifer Kierecki Blog Reading GoalsSo I decided to make a reading goal this year. My goal for 2013 is to read 40 books. It’s not a terribly ambitious goal compared to some, but I chose 40 because that’s a little bit more than 3 books a month which seemed reasonable for me.

I’ll admit I was late to the Goodreads party, but it is a great way to make a keep track of reading goals. It will tell me if I’m behind or on track, and right now, at 18 books under my belt, I’m right on track!

If you like to set reading goals, I recently learned about a blog called A Novel Challenge which is a great place to find all the latest reading challenges. I love the idea of challenging myself to read books by a particular author whose work I am interested in, or books related to a certain topic or genre. Maybe it’s not too late to set a summer reading challenge (or maybe I should stick to one challenge at a time!)

With my reading challenge for 2013 well under way, this may not have been the best time to read Stephen King’s 800+ page  11/22/63. Considering I could read two or three books in the time it will take me to read this one, it may set me back, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.

I recently wrote about how good readers make good writers. And now that I’m really making time to read as much as possible, I’m finding that it is making a huge impact in my writing. Not only am I writing more, I want to write every chance I get.

I’m a believer now that it isn’t enough for a writer to simply read a book or two here and there. Reading is part of the creative process.

How many books do you read in a year? Do you have a reading goal? Please share your goals in the comments below!