required reading the raves, required reading, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, classic books, book recommendation, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, Michelle Pierce

Required Reading – The Raves: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time because of the 2005 movie. It was one of the classics I’d missed during high school, and I’d never bothered to pick it up because I figured it would be similar to Wuthering Heights (which, by all accounts, sounded like something that would drive me crazy to try and read) or Rebecca (which was good, but depressing).

However, I watched the movie because it had been nominated for an Oscar and I was trying to watch all the Oscar-nominated movies before the awards were given out. And I was stunned by how much I loved it. The next time I was at the used bookstore, I found a copy of Pride and Prejudice, and I immediately picked it up.

And I’m glad I did, because it made Jane Austen one of my favorite writers.

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Required Reading, Part One: The Raves

Required reading.

These two words struck fear in the hearts of students everywhere, even those who actually enjoyed reading. The surest way to make someone hate a book, of course, was to force them to read it. I imagine there are people who would hold a grudge against the Discworld series if it had been shoved down their throats like Shakespeare.

But not all the classics were bad. Some of us sought them out on our own out of curiosity, while others were surprised when the required reading was actually interesting and enjoyable. And for some of us, those literary classics became personal favorites as well.

In this series, we Ferrets will be talking about the classic books that we sought out, that surprised us, that made us fall in love with them. And we’ll also be talking about the ones we haven’t yet read, but really, really want to.

So come and join us for the next few weeks while we happily rave about some classic books that we absolutely adore, and share with us some of your own!

The Writer’s Pursuit of Health – Writing and Working Out

The Writer's Pursuit of Health, Writing and Working Out, Michelle Pierce, Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society, health, writing, exercise

About four years ago, I came to the conclusion that I really, really needed to start exercising. I’m a web developer, so I sit in front of a computer all day. And then I like to write, so I sit in front of my computer all night. I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to be stationary all day, I knew I wasn’t eating as well as I should’ve, and so finally I hit the moment that was “I have to do something about this.”

It wasn’t like something big or horrible happened. It was just the slow realization that if I continued as I was, in a few years, I wouldn’t be very happy with how I looked or how I felt, and my risks for a number of diseases that run in my family would skyrocket. And the longer it took me to get started on a healthier lifestyle, the harder it would be for me to stick with it when I finally got there.

For years I’d had a goal like “lose 10 pounds” or whatever as one of my New Year’s resolutions, and for years, I’d never hit it. That year, I switched it up to “work out at LEAST 3 days a week.” I figured I would see if I could stick to a 3-day-a-week plan, and if so, I’d bump it up to 5 days for the next year. Even if I didn’t lose any weight, at least I would be building the habit of being active on a regular basis, and that could only be good, right?

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Are You Going to Camp? (Camp NaNo, That Is!)

Have you wanted to try National Novel Writing Month, but honestly the idea of trying to write a novel in November just seems too overwhelming with all the holidays?

Or you’d like to try it, but the 50,000 word mark seems impossible to hit for someone who writes primarily short things?

Or do you just miss the word count goals, tracking, and overall productivity and encouragement from NaNo?

Then it might be time to give Camp NaNoWriMo a try.

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off-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

The Off-Balancing Act: All or Nothing

I think it’s somewhat appropriate that I’m writing this blog post from the backseat of my roommates’ car as we head out for a weeklong work trip. I could have written it this past weekend. I should have. Instead, I spent this weekend furiously finishing up a novel I’ve been working on since November 2014. I couldn’t do anything else until I typed “the end,” which I finally did Sunday afternoon.

This isn’t the first time other things have gotten pushed by the wayside when I work on writing. It probably isn’t even the hundredth.

When I’m writing, I’m writing, and I’m fairly terrible about doing anything else beyond what I absolutely have to. I tend to stay in rather than go out. I go longer between answering texts, I make even fewer calls than I normally do, and my email response time rapidly decreases. Basically, I become a writing hermit.

And then there are the times when I’m not writing, when I’m taking a break between projects or letting a draft cool off before I hop back into editing mode. This is when I take the time to bake bread and cookies, to read books, to write reviews, to critique stories for friends, to actually interact with people like a normal human being.

There isn’t any balance. There aren’t even baby steps. There’s just all or nothing.

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Dealbreakers: What Makes You Quit a Book?

I think we’ve all got those dealbreakers, those things that a story can do that will make us drop it like a hot potato. These vary from person to person, and what wrecks a story for one person will be something another can let slide. Some people will finish a book no matter how much they hate it; others won’t give it more than a few pages before they toss it into the “did not finish” pile and move on to something else.

I used to be in the camp of “finish the book no matter what,” but in the past 5 years or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that life’s too short to read books I don’t like.

Here’s what tends to throw me out of a story:

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New Fears – The Evolution of a Writer: The Middle Years

Being a writer—being in any kind of creative pursuit, honestly—is an exercise in dealing with fear and doubt. Constantly struggling against that little voice inside your head that says “You can’t do this. Why are you even trying?”

And the fears don’t end as you progress down your creative path. With every fear and doubt you face and overcome, there’s a new one waiting just around the corner, ready to rear its ugly head and set you right back to where you started.

For some reason, I thought getting past the early stages of my writing career would mean getting over my fears. I no longer worry about finishing stories; I know I have what it takes to complete multiple drafts of the same novel. I no longer fear my writing isn’t good enough; I’ve had too many people (both amateur and professional) tell me that I’m a strong writer.

But the middle years have brought a new set of fears, ones I didn’t think I’d have to deal with when I was starting out.

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Preparing for NaNoWriMo as a Participant and ML

This November will be my ninth (holy mother of God, NINTH?!) year doing NaNo as a participant and my sixth year of doing it as an ML.

October 1 typically heralds the beginning of “NaNo Season.” That’s when the site relaunches (or, well, relaunches within a few days of that date) and most people start gearing up in earnest for November 1. You can spend hours on the forums pre-November, talking about your genre, brainstorming with other writers, scouring the adoption threads for ideas, and sharing your playlists and writing technology.

But amid all that shiny new excitement, you still have to get ready for November 1. And prepping for NaNo when you’re both participant and ML means your to-do list gets doubled.

So here’s a glimpse into a bit of what my life looks like when National Novel Writing Month rolls around.

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Writing Skills – Learning What Not to Do

Lots of writing advice encourages you to read books you love, to break them down and find out what makes them work so well, and why you love the story so much.

But what about stories that drive you up the wall?

You can learn just as much from writing you don’t like as you can from writing you do. Learning what not to do is a critical part of the writing process.

For a while, one of my guilty pleasure TV shows was Teen Wolf. Eventually, I had to quit watching for a number of reasons, but the biggest one was that the writing went from “solid” to “more holes than Swiss cheese.”

I learned a lot about what not to do from watching that show, but the most important thing I learned?

Think your story through.

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Writing Beverages

When you’re in the throes of writing—whether you’re on a deadline or in the midst of NaNo or just have a story you’ve got to get down—it’s important to stay hydrated!

Everybody has their favorite beverages for when they’re mid-draft, but here’s how I keep myself going:

The Classic: Water
I know, water is boring, but it’s important. No matter what other beverages you consume while typing or scribbling away, water should always be on your list. The health benefits are numerous, and it’s a relatively easy way to keep yourself from falling into bad habits when you’re more concerned with the next plot point than where your next meal is coming from.

Personally, I like to try to drink about a cup of water for each non-water beverage, and so far, that seems to have worked out okay.

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