Why I write

Hiker walking a path in the mountains

Photo via Visualhunt.

A person with a clear purpose will make progress on even the toughest road. A person with no purpose will make no progress on even the smoothest road. –Thomas Carlyle

Why do you write? If you don’t know the answer to this, you will have a hard time completing your stories.

I write to quiet the stories in my head. They won’t leave me alone—they haunt both my dreams and my daydreams—until I spill them out onto paper. I also write because as a teenager I desperately needed the escape books offered me. I’d like to offer a safe place to escape to for someone else who needs it.

So, why do you write? Share your purpose in the comments!

10 years

April and her husband on their wedding day, and then again ten years later

1 set of vows sworn in front of God and our witnesses.
2 individual people became one.
3 and a half years of dating before tying the knot.
4 in our family. My husband, me, and two sons.
5 different homes we have lived in since marrying.
6 years of our marriage we lived in Japan, where both sons were born.
7 and seventy times we have forgiven each other or have had to come to a compromise, and we will continue to do so seventy times seven more. :)
8 quotes we say to each other all of the time. (“Let’s see what’s in the box! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Stupid! You’re so stupid!”, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? Don’t nobody understand the words that are coming out of your mouth”, “Look, sleeping people! It must be nap time”, “Snake? Snake? Snaaaaaake!”, “I can’t put my arms down!”, “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up”, “It’s over 9,000!”, “Jinx! Buy me a coke.”)
9 times I’ve beaten my husband at video games. Countless times he’s beaten me.
10 years of wedded bliss!

Today is our tenth anniversary so I’m keeping this post short. Tell me in the comments how many of our quotes you recognize—and then share your favorites, too. See you next time!

Typing Test: What’s your WPM?

Graph showing Words Per Minute in a typing test

Photo via TypingTest.com.

I just took a 3-minute typing test to find out what my words per minute (WPM) score is. The results say 74 WPM with a 97% accuracy. I’ll take it! I normally don’t type that quickly when I’m writing since I have to stop occasionally and think about what I’m really trying to say, but when I just have to copy the words already in front of me it’s easier to go a bit faster.

If you try the test yourself, let me know your score! You can find it at http://www.typingtest.com/.

Five reasons why I love reading

Teen girl reading a book in a meadow

Photo via Visualhunt.

I love being a writer and creating stories. They tend to mill about in my head for a while before I can spill them out onto paper, and I thoroughly enjoy both processes. But I also LOVE being a reader! Learning new things, feeling different emotions, riding the high of a great story completed… there are many reasons I enjoy it. Here are just five things I love about reading.

1.

Immersing myself in a book so deeply that when I’m interrupted, I have to get my bearings again before I can function properly in the real world. It feels like someone put a pair of funny goggles on me because the real world looks strange and feels foreign. Or when I have book “hangover” after finishing a novel and can’t move on until I’ve fully processed the emotional experience I just went through.

2.

Being able to explore other countries, cultures, and time periods without consequence. Well, the consequences are that they expand my worldview, which is a good thing, rather than a financial and scientific impossibility (pricey airfare tickets, inventing time travel, etc.).

3.

Stories aren’t static because I’M not static. I can enjoy a book multiple times because with each read I catch things I missed before—either because I didn’t know the upcoming plot twists, which I now know, or because I’ve had more life experience than the last time I read it, and so can understand or relate better to the material than I could before.

4.

I don’t mind having to wait. In fact, waiting in a long line or at a place of business that’s behind schedule (doctor’s office, hair salon, restaurant, etc.) means more time to read! As a student growing up in Japan, I would use my daily commute on the train to read 2 or 3 books a week. I’ve got young kids now, so I don’t have the time to read at that pace anymore. But any time I get to pull out my book while waiting feels like a vacation!

5.

No matter how much I read there will always be more great books to read. I’ll never run out. I’ll never be bored.

There are so many more reasons I love to read, but I’ll end the list here. How about you? Do you agree with my list? Are there other reasons you love to read? While you’re at it, tell me what your favorite book is so I can add it to my “to read next” list. As for my favorite, I love so many I can’t just pick one! But here are some that I particularly like and have reread may times.

The Canon

Stack of books

Photo via Visualhunt.

I read an interesting article today by a literary agent about the importance of reading the canon. These are the books that “one must have read to be considered well-educated” in your genre or category.

Because she is an agent who represents books in the crime/thriller category, her top five books are:

The Mirror Crack’d by Agatha Christie
The Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan
The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
When the Sacred Ginmill Closes by Lawrence Block

She says the point isn’t to only pick five, but rather to “figure out what works in a novel that appeals to you for YEARS. A novel that you’d use to illustrate essential elements of a novel. … A novel that can be YOUR signpost for moving ahead.”

I thought it would be fun to try my hand at determining the canon for my category, which is YA fantasy romance, with an emphasis on fairy tale retellings:

 

Beauty by Robin McKinley Beauty by Robin McKinley

A strange imprisonment

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

 

 

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (technically Middle Grade, not Young Adult, but still a classic)

At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it’s to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate…

Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse forever.

 

 

 

 

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady in waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to help her. She becomes a goose girl and must use her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny.

 

 

 

 

East by Edith PattouEast by Edith Pattou

Rose has always felt out of place in her family. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him, she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she finds love, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun. As fresh and original as only the best fantasy can be, East is a novel retelling of the classic tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”

 

 

 

My Fair Godmother by Janette RallisonMy Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison (and the subsequent books in the series about the unconventional Godmother)

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrysanthemum Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone-carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Despite a few wish-granting mishaps, Savannah’s fairy-tale ending might not be as far off as she imagined.

 

 

 

 

Update!

I was reminded of a book I used to love that better fits this list of fairy-tale based stories, and so have added East to this list. I originally included Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith—which I still love—but it’s an original fantasy, not a fairy tale retelling.

 

What do you think? Do you agree with my list? Would you choose different books? If you have any to recommend, I’m all ears. If you haven’t read one of these… well, what are you waiting for? You need to get started ASAP!