Changes

October 14th 2019:

Goodness, I have the day off… I can’t remember the last time I had a day off during the week… I mean, it was the last banking holiday of course, but who knew Columbus Day was a bank holiday?

Today as I’m working on NaNoWriMo 2019 prep I’m also thinking about this blog and what I want to do with it. for one thing, I want to get more consistent in 2020. Part of that is that I’m going to be starting over in a manner.

For those of you who follow this blog via email, it’s not going to change anything for you (If I do this right). For the rest of you however, there may be some slight communication glitches. I’m planning on switching my blog hosting :/ from WordPress to Blue Host in January.

The goal is that Blue Host will give me more freedom for less of an annual fee that I really hate paying. It’ll remove the ads I can’t control and let me customize more. (I’m hoping to never have ads again, LOL)

No – this is not a money making blog scheme, though I am hoping that eventually I can become a full time creative sometime in the next few years.

I’m doing this in hopes that I can better present myself, my work, and my information to you and future readers.

Stay tuned because while I’m planning this for January this may happen sooner…

NaNoWriMo 2019 – October Prep

This fall I had a bajillion plans. I was going to do Inktober, a drawing a day during the month of October, and then I was going to take those drawings during November and National Novel Writing Month and write 31 short stories and flash fiction pieces, a collection. I was plodding away, plotting and drawing, and getting ready for all of it and it just wasn’t working… my brain was in a million places and a few more million pieces.

So I latched onto the one thing I managed to actually complete last year at this time and that was National Novel Writing Month. Last year I managed to complete the task in 2 weeks after a late start due to depression but I had some amazing people that helped me through it.

I had almost no prep but this year i’m working on it. I have beat sheets I’ve been working on and notes and flow charts and notes and all sorts of things going on. Nothing is cemented, but I’m working on it. It’s given my mind something to latch onto, something to quiet it. A problem to solve that is well within my own realm of control… I don’t know what that says about my mental state, but I’m working on it and I’m so excited to share my project with you when it’s done and I’m looking forward to sharing the journey to its completion just as much!

Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth by Tamar Myers – Book Review

Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth is a 1995 Publication. (In other words, this book is a year older than me, give or take a couple months probably.)

The more modern ebook cover I read.

The original book cover which I arguably find to be a better option.

Rating 5/5

Confession time! I have this guilty pleasure for Hallmark movies, especially the Hallmark mystery movies. I’m in that boat with my mom and my dad both though, so it’s not as bad as it sounds – or maybe that makes the whole situation worse.

But yes, that guilty pleasure leads me to books like the Pennsylvania Dutch Mysteries. Something I love about both Hallmark mysteries and the Pennsylvania Dutch series is that the series are made up of stand alone stories. I can read any of the Pennsylvania Dutch books in any order and I won’t be all that confused about anything. I can watch any Hallmark mystery out of order of the series without ever having seen another episode of that series without being confused. It’s awesome! In fact, the first Pennsylvania Dutch book I read was in high school: Play it Again Spam!

These sort of books take after the old dime store novels in the way that they are written to be consumed. It took me only 5 hours to complete this book from the time I started it… sometimes you just need a fast no-brainer read.

Plot and Pacing

Miss Magdalena Yoder, an old order Mennonite woman, is the owner/proprietress of the Pendutch Inn, a quaint and popular bed and breakfast located in the very heart of Amish country Pennsylvania. When she inadvertently books both a party of hunters and a party of animal rights activists only murder can ensue.

Faced with a bumbling Police Chief fill-in who couldn’t pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel, Magdalena is forced to investigate the mystery herself.

The book is well paced, a quick and easy read. Each turn of the page leaves you with new questions as you try to solve the mystery yourself.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Mysteries can be hard to write, if the reader can’t look back and in hind sight see all the clues that led to the murderer then you haven’t done it correctly.

Tamar Myers managed it better than some. It was very well done and while it’s no thriller, it’s perfect for a cozy mystery! This is the perfect kind of book for curling up with a blanket and a cup of tea/coffee/cocoa/whatever during the cool fall nights that are about to be upon us here in Indiana.

Things Happening

Goodness, there are a lot of things I’m trying to do right now. I’ve given some information on this in other posts but I’ll be honest, I’m getting a little overwhelmed with the actual execution of what I’ve planned for this blog and myself. I have many goals to accomplish and skills to develop.

Overall I have one main goal, and that is to be able to quit my day job and be a full time creative sometime between now and the next year or two. (No set timeline because I’m realistic and know that it isn’t going to happen overnight and there is no magic formula, plus I do like my current job, it just isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.)

You may ask how I’m going to do this. How am I going to make enough money to live from being a creative? Well, I am going to go the blogging route. I know there’s been some, well – a lot, of controversy about bloggers and influencers, but I’m going to try it. I don’t want my blogging to be the main source of my income necessarily but I do think it will help me build a platform and foundation for what I’m doing, if nothing else. I don’t expect to be a household name or to get rich, but it’s worth a shot to see if I can make a difference in the life of even one other person on this planet, and if I can achieve my creative dreams in this manner, it’ll be even better.

Events and Projects Coming Up

  1. Inktober: a 31 day art challenge, 31 pieces of art in the 31 days of October. You’ll be able to follow my Inktober journey closely on Instagram with #inkwithmk and follow me on Instagram @mkharlan
  2. NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month happens every year in November, though it is more international that national. People from all over the world participate in this race to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I’ve completed the feat only once before, in 2018. I’m hoping to complete it again this year, though after Inktober I’m going to be exhausted. (I’m fully intending to reclaim my madwoman title this year)
  3. Reboot/Relaunch: I am planning that at the end of this year I’m going to switch hosting this blog from WordPress to Blue-host. I feel like Blue-host is going to offer me more options for design and customization, and I’ll be able to get rid of these strange ads that keep popping up and control more of what you see in that respect. (No more of those targeted ads with gross medical pictures.)

I think that about covers it for the next 3-4 months. If you’ve been watching what I’m posting I’ve also started reviewing the books I’m reading. I’m hoping to keep up with that because reading is really what started all of this. You know, way back when I was knee high to-a grasshopper and all that jazz.

Along with the book reviews that I’m going to try publishing regularly, or at least as I read the books, I’m hopefully going to start a few other projects similar to that, regular article series and the like. I think you’re going to enjoy what I have in store for you when I announce them sometime in January.

Book Review – Spellbound by Blake Charlton

Spoilers will be indicated in section header

Rating

As the blurb on my cover of the book points out – middle volumes are hard to pull off. Especially when a middle volume is part of a trilogy.

Frankly, I wasn’t as thrilled with this book as I was with the first volume in the series, but it had it’s high points and its low points. overall it was a worthwhile read and definitely worth the money spent on it. It’s also a book that I would happily return to again… though whether or not that happens will depend on my impressions of the third and final installment of this trilogy (Spellbreaker) . Which should be arriving in my mailbox sometime in early October!

Plot – Pacing

Like the first novel in the series the events of the story take place over the course of just a few days, 10 years after the first novel ends.

Cleric Francesca DeVega is a healer working in the city of Avel. When a patient dies on her operating table and then comes back to life she is shocked to say the least. This patient throws her into the events of the story where she is forced to work with an ex lover and also thrown into association with none other than the main character of our first installment, Nicodemus Weal.

She is dragged into the demon’s plot to take over and begin the war of disjunction and in the process discovers things about herself she never knew before.

Overall the book was well paced, and added well to the pacing of the series. Being set 10 years after the first novel lent a sense of realism to the story. In fantasy books the major events all tend to happen rapid fire and in a short amount of time, a war can be won in a year or less. Charlton does well to spread out the major events and show the passing of time in his story by allowing struggles and mundane things to occur between books.

It was at first a little difficult to get into, the book having a different main character than the first novel, a rare sight in any genre, but once you got into it and started really reading it the pace and plot took over and carried you into Charlton’s fictional world just like the first book.

There were a few events that happened abruptly and I have to say that I don’t have a strong negative or positive opinion of them.

The events in question were events that caught me off guard as a reader but as a writer I know that Charlton likely wrote those sections to be abrupt so that we might experience them in a similar manner as the characters, who likely also found them to be abrupt – that’s life after all.

Their abruptness did anger me in the moment, as I was afraid that I skipped a page or two in my hasty turning to take in more of the story, but after a few more pages and realizing that nothing was skipped my writer brain took over and I understood what had been done.

Representation – A few spoilers here Indicated in italics with a preceding *** and followed by the same to indicate the end

One of the things that drew me to the first book in this series was that oh so rare element in fantasy novels, the representation of disability. In the first novel we saw Charlton representing his own disability of dyslexia in an engaging and believable manner for the fantasy genre. So well in fact that those who are unaware of what dyslexia is might not have realized what he was doing. He even managed to represent in that novel the discrimination and prejudice against such disorders as dyslexia.

*** This is a bit of a spoiler but I’ll try not to give too many details about where and how in the book this occurs.

The second disability represented in this novel, that I have rarely seen covered in any type of fiction, was deafness. Though it did not come to light until later in the book it was an interesting representation and from accounts I’ve been given from people in my life who are deaf or hearing impaired, it was a well executed job. ***

So often in the all-too-rare books where disability is touched upon it is an obstacle or plot point to be overcome, one of the gatekeepers in the typical story structure and by the end of the book the characters are living happily ever after.

I am happy to report that in this story, that was not the case. It’s an encouraging thing that the disabilities while briefly touched upon as an obstacle were not one of the bad guys in this novel. In fact, the disabilities of these characters made them stronger and more able to accomplish their roles in the story. While at first their disabilities did seem to be an obstacle to overcome it was wonderful to see them painted as anything but evil and wrong.

Final Thoughts

I’ve given this book 4/5 stars. It is well written and the story is so far being very well executed. there were some places where plot transitions and point of view changes were rather abrupt, but it all had a purpose. (Even if it took me a little bit to see that.)

Charlton is an amazing author and he has done very well to represent different disabilities in his writing, a rare sight in any genre, but especially in fantasy.

This is not a book to skip, especially if you have already read the first book and need to know where the overall story is going to go! I definitely look forward to the next book arriving in my mailbox soon!