Highly Anticipated Reads of 2015

Welcome to 2015, lovely readers! Can you believe I’ve managed to blog for 3 years now? Feels like yesterday that I wrote my first post, not knowing what the hell I was doing. I’ve learned and grown a lot since then, and I’m grateful to have a handful of people in this world who actually read my posts. Thanks for reading. You’re all wonderful. xx

Now, as I promised from my favorite reads of 2014 blog post, I wanted to share what’s on my 2015 to-read list. I’m just sharing my top reads, but this list is not exhaustive by any means. If you are curious and want to know what I plan on reading in 2015 (the ever-growing list), then just click HERE to view it on Goodreads. (And if we’re not Goodreads friends yet, then by all means, please send me a friend request!)

What books will you read in 2015?

What books will you read in 2015?

Okay, here we go. My highly anticipated reads of 2015:

On Writing by Stephen King

Just got this book from Amazon last month. It will be my first Stephen King read, actually. Though, I’m sure I’ll finally pick up one of his other famous works some time this year.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

I’ve seen the movies, but have yet to read the book. Looking forward to this, as it’s less daunting than…

…The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

I tried to read this before—perhaps 5 or 6 years ago. And at the time, I just couldn’t do it. But now, as a reader, I’m in such a different place. I think this is my year to finally tackle this book. I know I’m going to love it, but I also know it’s not light reading in any sense.

Throne of Glass book 4 By Sarah J. Maas

Last year, I became such a huge Maas fan! Seriously, I can’t sing her praises enough with her Throne of Glass series. It’s just brilliant and amazing and everything that epic fantasy should be. I’m hoping to get an ARC through NetGalley this year.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

And, since I’m such a big Maas fan, I’m looking forward to her new series that is also due to begin this year. This woman has captured my reader’s heart.

The Fallen Part 2 by Robin Woods

My dear friend and writer in crime is going to release her 6th book this year! Woohoo! I have had the pleasure of reading the majority of this book already—as a beta reader—but have yet to know the final ending. I can’t wait to see what Woods has in store for this sure to be epic ending.

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

I suppose this is my year to get on several fandom buses I’ve been flirting with for the past few years. I guess I’ve put off this series only because I know I’m going to be obsessed with it, and I truly need to read it during a time of my life when I actually have time to be devoted. I’m hoping to tackle it in the first half of this year—the first book, at least.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I began reading a few Austen books a while ago, but never got through the whole collection. I think it’s time I added more of her books to my “conquered” book list.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Same as my sentiments above. ^

The Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum

I started book one and was loving it, but there’s so much detail—so much going on. At the time, I was having a crappy year, so I stopped reading it because I lost patience. But, Ludlum was such a gifted writer, and I did enjoy what I had read. So, I will attempt to get through the whole series this year.

Wool by Hugh Howie

This one is loaded onto my kindle already, but I’ve been saving it. I want to see what all the fuss is about—why this guy is basically a self-made millionaire via self-publishing. Perhaps I can crack the code if I read this. Or, perhaps I’ll just be reading a great book that lots of people love. Or both. You never know, after all. 🙂

Pendragon by Stephen R. Lawhead

Lawhead is responsible for my early onset love affair of epic historical fantasy fiction. The guy is a genius. Seriously. I read the first 3 books of his Pendragon Cycle (Taliesin, Merlin, & Arthur) when I was just a bebe at age 14. I could NOT put down those books! In fact, you want to know what I got in trouble for when I was in junior high? For staying up reading until 2am with a flashlight. Not much has changed, except that I don’t use a flashlight anymore and I don’t get in trouble because I’m 30. Ha.
Anyways, I digress. Pendragon is book 4 of the series, and I believe there are 2 more books after it. It’s amazing, epic, delicious storytelling of the famous and legendary King Arthur. I know I’m going to love it.

The Mummy by Anne Rice

I finally read an Anne Rice novel last year: Interview with the Vampire. I enjoyed it, but it was very stuffy with prose. Beautiful prose, but the book took me quite some time to get through. However, I understand the brilliance of Rice’s writing, so I finished the book and gave it 5 stars. Just because it isn’t my current genre obsession doesn’t mean I am unable to identify a good book when I read one. So, I’m going to try The Mummy—both my sister and my dad said it was excellent—and I’ll give something else by Rice a chance.

The Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin

This one is going to be a LONG read. The book itself is perfect in size and weight to chuck at someone you really despise. Concussion inducing for SURE. But that’s not why I bought it. (No, really, I bought it to read it.) This is a book, or rather a manifesto, about “thinking globally, but acting locally” as the synopsis puts it. This will probably be a read in which I highlight a lot and take breaks to process what I’ve read. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to seeing what Rifkin has to say about why humanity falls short when it comes to true progression in regards to “refashioning human consciousness.” (Did I bore you yet?)
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Well, I’m sure I’ll get through all of these books and more. I did, after all, set another lofty reading goal this year at 100 books. I’m already 3 deep, so my progression is hopeful thus far.
How about you? What do you plan on reading in 2015?
Some of my "to-read" books for 2015.

Some of my “to-read” books for 2015.

Arguments for Using Synonyms

A few weeks ago, I hosted a good friend, author Robin Woods, on my blog. She provided us all with a very helpful, organized chart of synonyms for “said” and “walk.” Click HERE to read the post and download the cool chart.

For the most part, many people received the FREE guide with high levels of gratitude. In fact, it has been my most viewed post this year. But there were also a surprising number of naysayers and I feel the need to provide a rebuttal.

In all the informal and formal training I’ve had in the English language (heck, Spanish, too!), I have been taught to avoid word repetition. Hence, the writing exercises we love to hate: exercises with synonyms.

Of course there are exceptions—there always are, right? But in the past two decades, as my writing grew from something I was “good at” to my passionate pursuit and career, I’ve noticed that I appropriately edit out repeats in my writing or become annoyed as a reader when I spot word repetition.

One of the best writing teachers I ever had was my twelfth grade English teacher. Not only was he snarky and witty, but he was a damn good teacher. I remember a particular assignment for a book report. We had just finished reading C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce (an all-time favorite), and were told to write a two page, analytical paper. The length made it sound all too easy.

Upon bringing the first draft back to class, our teacher announced that we would be editing the paper—tearing it apart would have been a better description—in order to identify any words that had been trampled to death through the horrible habit of replication. Being an eighteen-year-old-know-it-all, I thought Please…this’ll be easy. I’m a good writer. But that morning, I was devastated to see my own red pen at war with the crisp white paper and black letters in my “awesome” essay.

247486941993359037_qmzGczGP_cImage via Some eCards.

We weren’t even allowed to repeat the same verb! You have an “is” already? Well then cross out the one in the next sentence, because it’s not allowed. Not only did we use more dynamic verbs, but we also learned how to rearrange sentence structure in order to improve the flow of our prose. Once a few peer editors, and myself, combed through my paper, it was stellar. I mean…one of the best papers I had ever written in high school. And the language wasn’t “flowery” by any means. It simply read well and expressed my thoughts more succinctly than I could have imagined.

That ingenious assignment made me a better writer and editor. But it also cursed me with an eye that now catches repetition and becomes easily irritated. And I know…we ALL are guilty of this writing crime and sometimes I’m just lazy and don’t care. However, when writing something that you want to be great, be careful with what you repeat.

I will sheepishly admit that my most repeated word is “was.” Ugh. Still trying to work on that one.

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My mug shot for overuse of “was.”

Recently, I read a good, short article on Create Space about such practices. Click HERE to read it. I think the example she gives is awesome.

So what exactly did those Negative Nellies say about my blog post on synonyms? Oh, you know, things like…

“It’s inadvisable to use synonyms for said.”

“Why would it be necessary to say it in another way if a character ‘said’ it?”

They even quoted Elmore Leonard (God rest his soul) at me: “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character, the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. “

Les Edgerton, in his book Hooked: write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go, also has something to say about dialogue tags. He argues: “Especially avoid using adverbial qualifiers for dialogue tags; instead, stick to said for almost all of your tags.” (pg. 31)

And yeah, I get it. I really do.

But may I ask this: what if my character is about to face certain death if she is heard aloud? Wouldn’t the reader want to read this:

“I can’t do this without you, Geoffrey. You have to show me what to do,” she whispered as they crouched behind a couch, waiting for the sound of footsteps to dissolve.

Instead of:

“I can’t do this without you, Geoffrey. You have to show me what to do,” she said as they crouched behind a couch, waiting for the sound of footsteps to dissolve.

I don’t know…maybe I’m thinking too much like a screenwriter, eager to show my reader what is happening in every aspect that I can. I want you to know that my character is whispering—not just saying something—but whispering it. Or pleading something. Or replying to the question that was just asked. Maybe she’s even breathing a statement, indicating that she is so tired or anxious about something, she can barely speak.

This is NOT necessary in every case and can certainly deter from the story if overdone. But my argument is that using “said” every time should not be an absolute. There is creative freedom to be had by all of us crazy writers.

crazy workImage via Some eCards.

Personally, when I read fiction that draws me in, it typically doesn’t have “said” repeated often, and the writer uses feeling words that describe how something is being said. Everyone is different, but that’s what I like and what flows best—to me.

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite books, Merlin, by Stephen R. Lawhead. Though “said” is used more often than not throughout the book’s conversations—in the proper way, of course—this passage contains other dialogue tags that are appropriate and do not deter from the story.

We rode on a pace or so, and then I reined up. “Pelleas, listen carefully to me now. You have found me and brought me back to the world of men, and I thank you for that. But it is in my mind that you will soon curse the day you begged my service. You will wish, perhaps, that you had never wasted a day in search for me.”

“Forgive me, my lord, but your own heart will prove traitor before I do,” he swore. And I knew he meant it with all that was in him.

“What I have to do will earn no man’s thanks,” I warned him. “It could be that before I am through I will be despised from one end of this island to the other, with every hand raised against me and those who stand with me.”

“Let others make their choice; I have made mine, my Lord Merlin.”

He was in earnest, and now that I knew he understood how hard it would be, I knew I could trust him with both our lives. “So be it,” I said. “May God reward your faith, my friend.”

See? Only ONE “said” in that and I think Lawhead’s writing is brilliant! Honestly, though, what kind of writer would I be if I weren’t willing to hear every side? I’m curious to know thoughts that you have about using synonyms for “said” and synonyms in general. Be nice, but speak your mind. Let’s have it!

Until next time…

Cheers!