Earlier today, I posted my 2015 goals.
But before I completely put 2014 in my rear view, I feel like I should give it one last shout-out.
I'd have to spend all day to describe the awesome that was 2014 -- and no one needs that. So instead, here are my highlights and favorites and things that I want to remember.
I welcomed my amazing son into this world, which will forever make this one of the best years of my life.
I made some money BY WRITING. That's right. 2014 is the year I started getting paid to do what I love.
I started calling myself a writer, marking the transition from hobby to job.
I saw a play. The Lion King. It was amazing. I didn't realize there would be puppets. I love puppets.
I joined a book club.
I moved back to Texas.
I finished not one, but TWO full length novels.
I co-founded Common Novel.
I started a children's book. It's about a bowl who has ambitions to be a hat.
And I began planning a third novel.
Favorite book: Rebel Belle, by Rachel Hawkins.
Favorite newly discovered author: Sarah MacLean
Favorite newly discovered book series: Bloodlines series, by Richelle Mead
Favorite movie: X-Men Days of Future Past. Honorable mention goes to Guardians of the Galaxy.
Favorite new TV Show: The Flash
Favorite returning TV Show: The Originals. It was the one show that never let me down. I'm looking at you Reign, with your incest and your rape.
Favorite piece of advice received: "Just show up." - Elizabeth Gilbert. (Obviously not given directly to me. And also probably not given this year. But I heard it this year, so I'm counting it.)
Favorite news story: The Interview turns into a triumph for free speech.
Favorite website: Fast Co Create
Favorite activity: Hanging out with my beautiful little boy
Here's to you, 2014! Thank you for the amazing memories, and a big thank you to everyone who made this year so special.
I'm now blogging (almost) exclusively at Common Novel.
Common Novel is a joint venture between myself and my writing partner, Diana Biller. Despite dominating the publishing market (and we mean DOMINATING—romance, mystery, and speculative fiction alone brought in around 2.8 billion dollars in 2012, compared to about 471 million from classic literary fiction), popular fiction is often overlooked when it comes to serious reviews, commentary, and analysis.
We thought it deserved more, and that’s why we founded Common Novel.
It's is a celebration of genre reading. It’s a celebration of the tattered paperback, of the third-time-through, and of the book that’s currently living in your purse. It’s a celebration of the genres themselves: romance, young adult, new adult, horror, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy.
After having several people ask me about my Harry Potter nursery, I decided to show it off here. It would be impossible to describe the sheer number of thoughts that ran through my mind when I found out I was pregnant. At the time, my husband and I were living in a one bedroom apartment but had already signed a lease on a two bedroom apartment that we would be moving into later that month. The original plan for the second bedroom was to make it my office, and I won't lie, I shed a couple for its loss. But within a week, I was already planning the nursery.
What with this being National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), writing has been on my mind lately. I spent the last two weeks of October busily plotting my novel, making storyboards, and creating character profiles. My story was pretty much my only thought. I anxiously awaited November 1st like it was Christmas, hoping that my story would unwrap itself in one swift flow.
But then November 1st actually came. I sat down at my computer with all of my planning and, then, nothing. Nothing. I had no idea how to start. I wrote something and thought, "that sounds stupid," and deleted it. Of course, the point of NaNoWriMo is to write as quickly as possible, without thinking about quality, in order to achieve the end goal of writing 50,000 words. So, on the very first day, I was already failing.
Despite the point of NaNoWriMo, I want to write a story that people want to read. I always have. And it is hard for me to move past that desire and just write whatever. The funny thing is that I have a story - and it's a story I think people would want to read - it's just that I don't know how to write the story to make sure people want to read it. Every time I write a piece of my novel, I realize how uncomfortable I am with fiction writing. It's as if law school, blogging, and life in general beat any creative writing skills I had right out of me.
But then today, I came to a magical realization. In an effort to avoid writing, I turned on the TV. It's Sunday morning, so of course, there was nothing on. But then magic happened: I noticed that episode four of "Witches of East End" was playing on Lifetime. Generally, I love any show dealing with magic and witches, so fate intervened, and I decided to watch the first episode On Demand.
The story is just such a cool concept. These four witches are cursed, and two of them are reborn and raised by their mother every thirty years or so. This time, the girls are in their late twentys, and their mother hasn't told them they are witches. Of course, the secret bubbles over and everyone finds out. But just the idea of the mother having to re-raise her children and lose them when they reach thirty is fascinating. And so I was hooked.
But here is the interesting part, this is NOT a good show. The acting is on par with the worst soap operas; the writing is cheesy as hell. No bad joke is left untold. No stupid line is left unsaid. But even worse, it so unbelievably unrealistic. I watch it and find myself thinking that no character would ever act like that. But here I am marathon watching it.
And now that I think about it, this isn't the first time that I have been obsessed with something bad. I think everyone can agree that Fifty Shades of Gray is horribly written. Yet, I marathon read the books, soaking in every horribly written word. Same story with Twilight. Even Hunger Games isn't written that well, and I loved it too. But all three of these books had a story and characters that I wanted to know more about. I wanted to know what happened. Strike that: I needed to know.
So, what's my point? It doesn't matter if you can't write beautiful prose. It only matters that you know how to tell a story. And since I already have my story waiting to be told, all I have to do is sit down and write it. Bad writing be damned.
Recapturing the Magic: Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, and the Return of the Wizarding World
If you know me at all, you know that I love Harry Potter. I've been a fan since the 6th grade when my English teacher read the first book out-loud. After we got through the first one, I devoured the second one. And then, I skipped school to stay home and read the third one when it came out. Ever since then, I've been hooked.
So, you can imagine my excitement when J.K. Rowling announced she would be returning to the world of Harry Potter. No, it isn't a prequel or a sequel. It's better. Harry Potter is the perfect, self-contained story about a boy who comes of age. There isn't anything left to tell in Harry's story. But the wizarding world universe is fertile grounds for other stories. And that is where this new story finds us.
It appears that Newt was born in 1897, which should put his Hogwarts graduation year around 1914. According to J.K.R., the movie will take place about ten years from his graduation, putting young Newt at around 27. At that time, he was working for the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Beast Division.
His work in the Beast Division "led to many research trips abroad, during which he collected information" for Fantastic Beasts. It appears that this movie will be based on one of those research trips, as it starts out in New York seventy years before Harry's story takes place, and a couple of years before the first edition of Fantastic Beasts was published.
As the main character is older, it is safe to assume that the movie will probably be geared toward a slightly older audience than the first couple of Harry Potter movies. However, I think its also safe to assume it won't be rated R. Let's not forget why WB wants to make this movie - it wants Potter fans back in movie seats.
It is no secret that Hollywood has been trying, and spectacularly failing, to recapture some of the magic associated with Potter and Twilight. Since the success of those two, Hollywood executives have made several young adult novels into film franchises. Most of them have been unsuccessful, if not disastrous, with the notable exception of The Hunger Games. The most recent example of a failed young adult novel series is The Mortal Instruments, which didn't even open at number one (or two, for that matter). But there are other examples: Percy Jackson (one of my favorite book series that just can't seem to translate into film); Beautiful Creatures; and The Host.
So, if new books aren't getting people in the seats, it's time to bring back the old classics. And nothing is more classic than Harry Potter. It remains unknown whether Harry Potter fans will come out for the release of this movie, but I suspect that they will. I know I will see it opening weekend. I may even see it twice.
Rachel Paxton is a typer of words in Dallas, TX.