New Year, New Goals?

Posted on January 8, 2011. Filed under: Books, Musings, Reviews, Suspense | Tags: , , , , |

Wow… it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted here, and there have been way too many things that have happened to really begin to tell you all the craziness in my life. Since you might be wondering (if you’re keeping up with this blog at all, which I wouldn’t blame you if you aren’t), I am back in the good ole’ US of A.

That’s right, folks. Rae has returned from the Far East and is currently residing peacefully at her granny’s kitchen counter where she is typing away. However, that won’t be the case for long. Tomorrow we hopefully return to Tennessee and then become cozy there for a few more weeks. But eventually I’ll be heading back to China to complete my contract.

Why am I home again? It’s a long story. I haven’t even shared it on my China blog for those of you who read that, but the basic gist is that my grandfather had a heart attack and was subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer and given a rather grim prognosis. So I’m here to visit family in between semesters and then heading back to China to finish my contract.

This is my first chance to really update this blog, and I’m actually relieved it’s still breathing, despite not having added to it in the months I’ve been gone. I have a few new goals I’m going to be working towards this year, and some of them will affect the blog. So I’ll go ahead and outline them and then give you a short review of the “first book of the New Year” that I completed earlier this morning.

My Goals In Reading and Writing

First, I have a goal to read around 50 books in a year. That might be tough given that it’s hard to come by books in China that aren’t horribly translated (from English to Chinese and back to English), but I imagine my parents will be happy to send me books with packages they send my way. I’m trying to get a head start on it while I’m home.

Second, I have a goal to read books outside my norm. I’m wanting to try some new, popular authors that I’ve never read before as well as genres I typically don’t read. This means I’m going to be reading some Patterson, Gaimon, King, or whatever else suits my fancy and doesn’t look like it’ll take me a year to actually finish reading. Anyone who has suggestions can feel free to offer them!

Third, I have to complete my NaNovel 2010. That’s right, I did participate in and complete another NaNoWriMo. My novel, In Search of Guanxi, isn’t even close to being finished, but I ideally would like to finish it by the beginning of February. My goal is to complete it by February 14th as I think Valentine’s Day would be the perfect day to finish a novel (more importantly, I fly back to China February 15th!).

And last, but not least, I need to edit my NaNovel 2009 for the CreateSpace proof copy. I never received my proof copy last year because I was too lazy to edit the novel. This year, however, I had a fellow WriMo writer and graphic designer create a beautiful cover for my novel that I want to use in the proof. She’s graciously given me her permission to use said cover for my proof copy, and I am wanting to get the novel edited and revised to match the amazingness that is the cover. For those of you not on NaNo, this woman is amazing, and she definitely deserves praise for her work. So I can only hope my novel will come close to matching the cover she made me.

In theory, I have a date of finishing revisions by April in order to get the dimensions and personalizations onto the cover and putting the whole thing together to be submitted to CreateSpace by mid-May. We’ll see how it goes. Either way, I have a goal, and now the idea is to get motivated to complete it.

I should add here that in revising I’ll probably be reading a few of the writing books I collected last year to give me ideas and tips on the process. I’ll most likely try to review said books and their processes on this blog as I come to them, but that might take me a bit of time. Either way, they’ll fall into my 50 books goal, which will be good.

Someday I’ll go back and tally up all the books I read last year. That won’t be for a while, though. Oh well.

And speaking of goals, I’ve already worked towards fulfilling two of them. I’ve finished reading my first book of the new year, and it was a great book.

I’ve never been a big suspense and thriller reader because I tend to shy away from the blood and guts. It’s not that it really bothers me, but I prefer happy, comedic moments in my fiction as opposed to shoot-em-up deaths and near-deaths. But I will read it on occasion; my preference usually is to stick with the authors I already know I can handle, though.

So reading Lisa Unger’s Beautiful Lies was going a bit out of my comfort zone. I got the book when I was working at The Book Gallery one day. The boss brought in a box of Advanced Reader Copies that he didn’t want anymore, and this book, published in 2006, was among them. I snagged it when no one else wanted it and forgot about it in the bustle of getting ready to head to China.

Now that I’m back, I noticed it on my bedroom floor and picked it up to add to my pile of trip books to take with me to Indiana. I started reading it and was immediately immersed in the story of Ridley Jones, whose identity is questioned throughout the story. In Ridley’s world, her life has been easy and comfortable, the daughter of a wealthy New Jersey pediatrician and adopted niece of a well-known charity endorsing man, both of whom have spent their lives protecting her identity.

Ridley’s journey begins as a series of choices, which she tells readers is what brings all people on their journeys. She says that one choice, one small change in her daily routine, is all it takes to bring her world to a crashing halt and create questions she’s not sure she’s ready to answer. With help from her new friend Jake, who Ridley spends her time questioning as much as she questions her family and childhood friends.

On her search for the truth, Ridley discovers the truth doesn’t always set you free, and sometimes it lands you in a heap of trouble. The fast-paced, first-person narrative was gripping at times, but at others, I found myself drifting a bit. That could always be because I’ve lost some of my ability to really focus on a book, though. Whatever the case, the story was fascinating and held my attention to the last page, and I really enjoyed it.

I will admit, however, that I’m not sure I’m cut out to be reading ARCs. I realize they are uncorrected proofs, and that’s why I noticed so many glaring errors that any publishing house would have eradicated before printing, but still… perhaps that kind of book is not for me. I have at least one other ARC in my collection to read, a Patterson book that I snagged from my boss as well. We’ll see if that one has as many glaring errors, and then I’ll know not to read them unless I’m not worried about perfection.

Hopefully I’ll be adding new posts more frequently now that I’m home. And when I go back to China, I should be able to continue adding posts as I have a proxy (thank heavens for people who create ways around the Great Firewall of China!) that has enabled me to visit such contraband sites as Facebook (gasp!) even in my Chinese apartment. I look forward to writing more on this blog so that it won’t be lost in the mass of the blogosphere, and even if no one keeps up with it, I think keeping it going will be my joy.

I hope you’ll bear with me as I regroup on this side of the world and get my bearings. And if you have any thoughts, feel free to share them! I’m always interested in hearing from people.

Until next time –



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I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather.

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