Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The New Adult Project: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman

Considering that I'm a fantasy writer, it would be unthinkable not to include fantasy books in the "New Adult" project. Fantasy often takes place in worlds where twenty-somethings are considered fully-fledged adults, so there aren't very many that qualify as "New Adult."

However, when I do think of "New Adult," the first book that comes to mind is The Magicians.

Goodreads Summary:

Quentin Coldwater is brillant but miserable. He's a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he's still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless. 

Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he though it would. 

Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real.

Some people refer to The Magicians as "Harry Potter for grown-ups." This is misleading. A more accurate description would be "Harry Potter for jaded people." Hmm, that doesn't work either. "Jaded" often implies "dark," and this novel isn't so much "dark" as merely "dreary."

This book is not for everyone. In fact, it's probably not for most people. Why? Well, the general premise can be summed up as "Stick a boring guy in a magical world, and he will still be boring."

And boring is exactly what Quentin is. He's neither likable nor interesting. Think of that friend who spends all his time complaining about how bored he is instead of actually doing something. That's Quentin. And yes, he's supposed to be that way. But he must change throughout the course of the story, right? Umm, no, he doesn't. By the end of the book, he's not only even more boring than before, but also hypocritical and unmotivated.

This is a book about disillusionment, which is what makes it fits so well with "New Adult." Quentin yearns for magic, but by the time he graduates college, he discovers that magic does not bring him the excitement and sense of purpose he dreamed of. For the most part, learning magic is a dull, tedious exercise, and the easy lifestyle it allows him to live means that he has very little motivation to do anything with his life. That attitude becomes so ingrained in Quentin that, by the time he gets to Fillory, all he can think is how much better the experience would be if he were on drugs.

It's really hard to enjoy this book. The Magicians isn't the sort of book you're supposed to enjoy--it's the sort of book you're supposed to respect and admire.

And honestly, if it were just for all of that, I would totally admire this book. I love seeing books that are brave enough to feature unlikable protagonists and approach the story from an honest and original perspective.

But unfortunately, where this book excels in concept, it fails in execution. Grossman's writing is just so lazy. He often resorts to telling instead of showing. We are once told that a character is sarcastic. That character only says about two words throughout the course of the story, neither of which are very sarcastic. There are also several instance where small things happen that make no sense and that have absolutely no bearing on the plot. For example, at one point, Quentin is moved up a year in school. Apparently, this is something really rare, and is supposed to suggest that Quentin is really good at magic. However, the impression I got was that Quentin wasn't all that good at magic. Not only that, but the only way this contributed to the plot was to bring Quentin closer to the older Physical Kids--something that wouldn't have been necessary had Grossman just made them a year younger. There is also a character introduced halfway through the story who has neither a personality nor a reason for existing (Anais).

I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not this book is right for you. If it is, and you enjoy it, there's also a sequel, The Magician King, that came out a few months ago.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

About Me

Never ask me "What are you thinking about?" Sometimes you don't want to know.

An example:

I think of many 'What if?' scenarios. Like, 'What if my life were actually a novel?'

No big deal. I'm sure lots of people have wondered the same thing.

But I take it a step further: 'What if my life were actually a novel, and someone picked it up and decided to write weird fanfiction about it?'


This is Yael Itamar. She is 24 and lives in northern New Jersey, where she can often be seen writing (or pretending to write) in local cafes or libraries.

She is working on the first novel in a portal fantasy trilogy. The novel may or may not be YA. (Not that category really matters, because said novel will never be finished.) The novel will be finished in 2013.

Other than writing, she spends her time working in a spinal cord injury laboratory, angsting about her med school applications, teaching SAT prep classes, reading, and mooching off of her Italian sister-in-law's cooking.

She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She has traveled to six continents and spent a semester living in Spain. She is (relatively) fluent in Hebrew and Spanish.

There's a lot more Yael Itamar can say about herself, but she will save it for future blog posts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The New Adult Project: "Psych Major Syndrome" by Alicia Thompson

Goodreads Summary:

Using the skills you've learned so far in Introduction to Psychology, please write a brief self-assessment describing how things are going in your freshman year.

Presenting Concerns:

The Patient, Leigh Nolan (that would be me), has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots).

Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.

Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?

Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who’s badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, naive.


Psych Major Syndrome

The summary is kind of catchy, and the book is very readable. Unfortunately, "readable" is probably one of the only good things I can say about Psych Major Syndrome.

I suppose the author was trying to be funny when she created such a huge cast of caricatures. And that's what most of them are--caricatures. And not even good caricatures (as in Soulless--looking back, I think I might have been a little harsh on reviewing that one). No, in Psych Major Syndrome, the sheer ridiculousness of all of the secondary characters served as nothing more than a poor attempt to trick the readers into liking the main character more.

It didn't work. Leigh was a huge flake. Wait, correction--Leigh was stupid. Stupid in a way where she's lucky this is a light-hearted contemporary novel, because otherwise she would have been dispatched by pages 20. I'm all for flawed characters, but unfailingly stupid ones piss me off.

And the other characters? The only ones I actually liked were Leigh's roommate and the teenager Leigh was mentoring. The love interest bored me. (Also, having a sexy dream about a boy is NOT romantic development.) And everyone else? Well, let's just say there was a healthy dose of slut-shaming and probably the most offensive portrayal of an Asian character I've ever seen.

Oh, and what's the deal with defining everyone by their college major? In the real world, people choose a major because they like that subject, not because they're obsessed with it.

I'm sorry to say that if you're looking for a great New Adult read, this isn't it.

Full list of "New Adult" Project reviews

Monday, January 23, 2012

YA Romances -- a rant

Things I never want to see in YA romance ever again: (Unless of course I happen to be playing a drinking game)

(This is a list I expect to update. Possibly more often than I'd like.)

1. Girl meets boy. Boy starts off acting like a jerk.
This is fine if said boy is, you know, a jerk on a regular basis. But if the guy isn't normally a jerk, why is he suddenly acting like one? Just to give him false bad boy cred?

2. Sexy boy who quotes literature.
Quoting literature is supposed to be a sign of an intelligent boy who can think for himself--and honestly, I find this to be a load of bullshit. Quoting requires rote memorization, not independent thought. If you want to prove your love interest is smart, at least have him analyze the work he's quoting. (Or better yet, criticize it.)

3. "You're not like other girls."
Dude, you just met her a week ago.

4. Love Interest shares your taste in music
I think XKCD did a comic on this once.

5. That girl getting all chummy with the Love Interest--yeah, she's his sister

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Calling it Quits

I am currently reading The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams.

I'm about eighty pages into it. I have over 500 more to go.

I was very excited about this one because I loved Otherland, by the same author. I expected something original, with characters I actually cared about. This book, however, seems to be nothing more than cliche epic fantasy, and it's really dull. Various names and worldbuilding details are inserted, but it's all useless, because I don't even remember any of it.

I already bought the whole Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn quartet. (The last three books were half-price at Borders' going-out-of-business sale, so I took a chance. I only bought the first book recently.)

I plan on giving this book twenty more pages. If it doesn't hold my interest by then, I'm giving up. (I almost never give up on books.)

My question to you: Has anyone read this book? Is there any reason I should continue with it?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Recommendation: Like Mandarin, by Kirsten Hubbard

I really don't know how to describe this book without sounding cheesy. (Not that it's a cheesy book by any means. Like Mandarin is actually a beautiful book.)

Let's try:

Mandarin is the manic pixie dream girl gone bad, and Grace is the girl who wants nothing more than to be her. This book is for anyone who has ever yearned for something beautiful and magical and wild. It's a book about illusions and how those illusions are broken, but how, despite this, there is still something beautiful left behind.

Yeah, like I said. Cheesy.

Anyway, I love this book for two reasons. 1) The setting. Oh, the setting! It's beautifully described, and Kirsten Hubbard makes it come to life. 2) I could relate to it. And I'm normally a cynic who doesn't relate to anything.

I wish I could say more, but I would just be prattling on. So just read it, okay?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The New Adult Project: "Hushed" by Kelley York

This is my first review for the "New Adult" Project. I know I said I would post these reviews on Tuesdays, but since I'm driving back to New Jersey tomorrow, I decided to post this a day early.

Goodreads Summary:

"He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her. 

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed. 

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is. 

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption."

Hushed was on my list of books to read for The Temple Well, and it wasn't until I started reading it that I realized I could also use it for the New Adult Project. (The characters are in college and live on their own.) This is Kelley York's debut novel, and it's only been out for a month and a half, so I'm especially thrilled to give it some press.

Murderer protagonists aren't exactly something that draws mass appeal, which means that protagonists like Archer are rare. This makes me sad, because I love reading about deeply flawed characters. And Kelley York isn't afraid to emphasize just how fucked up Archer is. The first chapter shows him taunting the man he is about to kill, and it kind of makes you sick to watch. But despite this, Archer is very, very sympathetic. You understand his actions, and his conflicting feelings over almost all of the people he cares about. No relationship is simple in this book.

Vivian was equally well-rendered. From the description, I expected her to be a stereotypical manipulative bitch, but she was actually very human. I have mixed feelings about Evan. I'm not a huge fan of the love-interest-with-a-heart-of-gold trope, but he played an indispensable role in the novel--helping Archer through his transformation.

If you're looking for darker novels with flawed characters and complex relationships, you should absolutely read Hushed.

Full list of "New Adult" Project reviews

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why We Need "New Adult"

I know this discussion has been circling the internet for the last year or two, and despite a lot of people's enthusiasm for this new category, it doesn't sound like "New Adult" will ever happen.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for a new publishing category or a new shelf in bookstores dedicated to college students and twenty-somethings. (I will discuss this later.) I would, however, like to see more books that feature college students, college graduates, and other out-of-high-school protagonists.

And this is why:

I'm twenty-three. I graduated college in a shitty economy and couldn't find a job. A lot of my college friends moved away, and only a handful of my high school friends still live in my hometown. After the lab where I was volunteering had to cut back because of funding issues, I decided to try my luck in the Northeast. Cue in angst about still not being able to find a real job. Cue in more angst, because I don't know anyone my own age. And then cue in even more angst about my future due to medical school application stress.

Whoever said that the teenage years were the most turbulent time in a person's life probably lied to you. After I got out of middle school, being a teenager was easy. High school meant that I was able to see my friends every day with little effort. No one tried to guilt me out about not being able to support myself. Classes meant that I had something in which I could succeed. As a teenager, I never had to sacrifice my ideals.

As a "new adult," I still don't know where I fit. I've legally been an adult for five years and it's still hard to think of myself as one. When I think of "adults," I think of the parents in Montclair, New Jersey--people in their thirties and forties who go to dinner parties where the main topics of conversation are children and home repairs. And then I start thinking about those acquaintances from high school who are now married with children. I'll be honest. It weirds me out that some people jump into adulthood so quickly. Because I'm not even close to thinking about children and long-term relationships.

I'm not going to lie. I miss college. I wish I were still a college student. And college students would make awesome protagonists. Think about it.

-College students are usually living on their own for the first time. Therefore, college is a perfect environment for characters to sleep around, be responsible, be irresponsible...and all without parent interference! (As it is, YA novels do anything in their power to get rid of those meddling parents!)
-College is where you start figuring out where you belong in the world. You have to make important decisions, like picking your major (dun, dun, dun).
-College students have more out-of-class responsibilities. When I was in college, I was planning fundraisers and writing grant proposals. And then there are more real-world responsibilities, like internships.
-Study abroad. I spent a semester of my junior year in Madrid, Spain. Fucking unforgettable.

But what about post-college life? (You know, the life I was just bitching about.) It's a life riddled with challenges that would make an excellent basis for a novel.

-How do you reconcile your dreams with real-world survival? I'm lucky in that I have a baby-sitting job and a really good family support network. This means I can accept an unpaid internship in a spinal cord injury lab, a field I'm super-passionate about. But this isn't the case for everyone.
-How do you reconcile your ideals with real-world survival? Brutal honesty will not get you far in the workplace. Neither will making snide comments when your boss wears a fur coat. And that evil corporation that you swore you'd never work for? Well, it turns out they pay more than a non-profit.
-How do you build a social life when you don't have classes to throw you together with people? A lot of my newer friends are people whom I know through my raver friends. As a result, they're not always people I like.
-How do you deal with roommates? I spent some time working at my parents' apartment complex. One tenant wanted to evict her abusive boyfriend. He didn't have a job, so she was the only one paying rent. Unfortunately, his name was also on the lease, so she couldn't legally kick him out for another five months.
-How do you deal with asshole or incompetent bosses and co-workers? (Kind of self-explanatory.)

I could probably think of other examples, but this post is already hitting the tl;dr mark.

I don't necessarily agree that we need a "New Adult" category. College students don't have a lot of time to read, and I feel like a lot of post-college books would fit just fine in the adult market. I would, however, like to see more books that focus on these age groups.

That's not saying these books don't exist, because they do. Some are on the YA shelf, while others fall into genre or general fiction. A couple months ago, I reviewed Markus Zusak's I Am the Messenger, where the protagonists are in their late teens/early twenties.

However, the fact that these books don't fall under the same shelf means they are harder to find. For that reason, I decided to start the "New Adult Project." Ever week, I plan to review one book that focuses on a "new adult" character. I already have a small list compiled, but if you know of other books, I will be happy to accept recommendations (all genres are welcome.)

ETA 3/8/12: Make that one book every other week.

You can find the list of reviews here.

The "New Adult" Project: List of reviews

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak (reviewed 11/5/2011)

Hushed, by Kelley York (reviewed 1/16/2012)

Psych Major Syndrome, by Alicia Thompson (reviewed 1/24/2012)

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman (reviewed 1/31/2012)

Tempest, by Julie Cross (with audiobook clip) (reviewed 2/7/2012)

Spring Break, by Kayla Perrin (reviewed 2/14/2012)

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt (reviewed 2/29/2012)

Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard (reviewed 4/28/2012)

Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean (reviewed 5/14/2012)

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (reviewed 6/24/2012)

The Nanny Diaries (audiobook), by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (reviewed 8/18/2012)

Just Remember to Breathe, by Charles Sheehan-Miles (reviewed 11/18/2012)

The Sound of Blue, by Holly Payne (reviewed 12/19/2012)

Blame It on Paris, by Laura Florand (reviewed 12/25/2012)

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride (reviewed 1/11/2013)

Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein (reviewed 3/21/2013 and 9/13/2013)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin (reviewed 5/28/2013)

The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon (reviewed 8/21/2013)

The Edge of Normal, by Carla Norton (reviewed 1/24/2014)

*Note: Many of these are not "officially" New Adult novels, but based on the ages of the protagonists and the subject matter, I decided to include these into the category.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

About My Name

Apparently, Tracey Neithercott is psychic, because she predicted this week's Road Trip Wednesday question before it was even posted. (In other words, if this turns out to NOT be this week's RTW, you know who to blame.)

So the question is this: What would your pseudonym be?

I find this question hilarious because, well, Yael Itamar is my pseudonym. There are many reasons I use it, but most of them come down to online anonymity. I use this name for Facebook, Goodreads, and (obviously) this blog. I occasionally express controversial opinions, and I do not want said opinions to get in the way of my career aspirations. With a false name, I can write honest book reviews, complain about Israeli politics, and talk about that time I hitchhiked aboard a moving train.

But why such a weird pseudonym?

Like my real name, "Yael Itamar" is an Israeli name. "Yael" means "gazelle" in Hebrew, and "Itamar" is a boy's name that I have always loved.

How do you pronounce it?

ya-EL  i-ta-MAR

What do you think of it? (You can tell me if you hate it. Remember, I haven't been published yet, so there's still time to change. *wink*)

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Pet Peeve of Mine

Whether I see this in a book or a movie or even in a summary, this is always something that hits the trigger button: reader/writer protagonists. I'm sure you're familiar with all of these tropes:

-The blocked writer searching for inspiration. 90% of the time, this person ends up writing a book that almost exactly mirrors their own life (ie the plot). Even if they don't get published, people who read this book (especially love interests) will find it to be one of the most heartfelt and brilliant things they have ever read.

-The best-selling writer. This person has not only earned insane amounts of money from writing, but they have reached celebrity-level fame.

-The protagonist who escapes into books and dreams of having an adventure of their own. And then guess what--an adventure shows up at their door!

When I see these tropes in a summary, they set off warning bells in my head: Warning: self-insert. Warning: wish-fulfillment. Warning: escapism. It makes me automatically assume that this character is either based on yourself or based on who you wish you could be. And yes, I know this is a very broad assumption, but it's the first thing that will come to mind.

(And it's especially annoying when the creator doesn't have a fucking clue about how the real writing industry works. In Limitless, for example, the writer has a book contract (and has received an advance!) even though he hasn't written a word. What legitimate publisher would put out a contract and money for a fictional book that doesn't even exist yet?)

Now there have been works that actually have used this trope well. Secret Window comes to mind. Same with celebrity writer Baltasar Daza in Por favor, rebobinar.

But seriously, why would anyone want to read about a writer? As a group, we're not that interesting. We sit in front of our computers typing away, and when we're not doing that, we're taking care of our families, watching Dr. Who, and working 1-3 other jobs so that we can actually pay the bills. We rarely accomplish anything that has any concrete effect on the world around us. And contrary to popular belief, most of us are not unappreciated geniuses who constantly spew profound statements about the human condition. (Some of us think we are, but we're usually kidding ourselves.)

And best-selling writers? Most of them aren't that famous outside of their respective genre circles. (Unless you're J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Dan Brown, or Neil Gaiman.) How many people who aren't fantasy readers have heard of Patrick Rothfuss? What about Cassandra Clare and Veronica Roth? Outside of the YA circle, no one knows who they are. We often forget just how many people exist in this world who don't read for pleasure. Within my own group of close friends, I can only think of 2-3 people who consistently read outside of their schoolwork (not counting manga or fanfiction). So when you're telling me that anyone and everyone has heard of your writer protagonist, please excuse me when I call "bullshit."

I'm sick of seeing the various incarnations of "brilliant writer" in fiction. If anything, I want to see more bad writers. Writers who can't finish a book, not because they're too overwhelmed by their own genius, but because they're too lazy and unfocused. Or writers who can finish a book, but the book is a pile of cliched crap. And all those supportive girlfriends applauding the writer's genius? How about this conversation instead?

Writer: I'm almost finished with the first chapter. Do you want to take a look?
Girlfriend: Yay, awesome! (reads first page. cue in face drop as her eyes scroll over the text.) You know what, honey? I have to go work now. How about I finish it later?

And as for the protagonists that don't write, but who use stories to escape from the boredom of their own lives? Clearly this is a sign that they are too boring too actually carry on their own story.

Mostly what all this comes down to is that I hate escapist writing. I hate this attitude that people read and write in order to escape from the boredom of their own lives. This attitude is unhealthy, and I don't understand it. Escapism is nothing more than admitting defeat. If your life is boring, how about actually doing something to make it more interesting?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review of "Soulless" by Gail Carriger

Looking for paranormal romance that actually has a plot? Hey, look, I found one!

Soulless is an interesting blend of urban fantasy and steampunk with a significant helping of romance thrown in. It is this latter element of the book, unfortunately, that prevented me from appreciating it. While the plot was very much present, it was far overwhelmed by all of the awkward bickering and kiss scenes. I was unimpressed by the romantic development. Lord Maccon's actions and feelings towards Alexia often struck me as more immature than anything else. (He gets jealous when she tells him about having an important conversation with a vampire friend--one who is so obviously gay it's painful.) Aside from this, I wasn't impressed with the characters. The secondary characters had only minimal depth, while the villains had none at all.

This book does have a few redeeming qualities. For one thing, it's hilarious. (And this means a lot coming from me, as I'm usually not a fan of humorous novels.) The book also has a very interesting mythos, and as I said earlier, I love how the author blends steampunk and urban fantasy elements.

Admittedly, while I didn't exactly *like* the book, I could easily see this series turning into a guilty pleasure. (I'm sort of tempted to pick up the next book.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Recommendation: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

I've gotten a bit behind on book reviews, so allow me to present The Graveyard Book!

One of the reasons it's taken me so long to review this book is that I wasn't sure for a while how I felt about it. It's a coming-of-age story set in a graveyard (based on The Jungle Book) and it's written by Neil Gaiman, so that should be enough to send you off to buy it.

Gaiman's worldbuilding is unlike anything you will ever see, which is probably why he's the only urban fantasy author I actually like. The interesting thing about all of his novels is that you only see a small piece of the unique world he creates. You leave his stories with a mix of wonder and a sense of incompletion, and I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

It's hard to pinpoint an age group for this novel. It's labeled as middle grade, but the writing style is very mature (and well-crafted, much more so than the other novels of his I've read), and as I was reading it, I felt like it was very much a children's book written for adults. It's very much one of those books with crossover appeal among children, teens, and adults alike.

The one aspect of the book that I felt iff-y about was the overarching plot, which centered around the book's main villain. The man Jack's motives for trying to kill Bod were cliche and silly, something that significantly weakened the book. Despite Jack's scariness, I had trouble taking him seriously as a real villain.

Do I recommend this? Yes. Go read it, or any other one of Gaiman's works. Neil Gaiman is truly one of those authors that everyone should sample in their lifetime. (And he's cool enough to be on The Guild and The Simpsons!) 
(I dare you to say you never fantasized about this!)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Final 2011 Progress

Completion goal by end of 2011: 75,000 words
Number of words actually written: 61,677 words 

As you can see, I did not meet my goal. I suppose I should send a $50 check to the Westboro Baptist Church now, but I'm pretty sure blog posts are not legally binding documents, so I'm not going to.

Overall, though, this experiment helped me make quite a bit of progress. I finally figured out how to go about writing the second half of my novel. I was really unhappy with a lot of the newer scenes, and it wasn't until I went through an older draft, discovered a scene that I absolutely could not cut, and figured out a way to work it into the story. This means I will be depending a lot more on the previous draft than to write that part of the story, but that's okay, because I finally have an outline I'm happy with. I also made headway on some of Part Two's Takira scenes, something that I put off during the earlier draft.

What did this experience teach me? That I cannot binge write. The scene I'm working on now is a lot of fun, and I really enjoy writing it, but when I reach a point where I exhaust my focus, I can't keep plowing through. It's always better to come back to it the next day and write from a fresh perspective.

Although I spent last year desperately hunting for a job, I had been hoping to take advantage of my jobless state to get more writing done. And while it worked, I also learned that some of my most successful writing days are days where I only have two or three hours to write. Less time to write means less time to waste.

Of course, all of the above is an example of why it's taking me so long to write a book. No matter what the publishing industry demands, I'll never be one of those writers who churns out a new book every year.

There are a lot more challenges up ahead. I need to re-write scenes, and go back to scenes that were giving me trouble, and write flashback scenes, and you know, finish the damn book. But I'm happy with my progress, and we'll see where it goes.

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