My Favorite Fiction Reads of Winter 2019

Did anyone else have a weird season of reading? For my first few books of 2019, I’d love or enjoy one book, then be disappointed by the next one. I was even worried that I’d fall into a reading slump – and I think we can agree that those are never pleasant.

Luckily that back-and-forth didn’t last long. (Hooray!) So out of the 10 fiction books I read over the winter, I’m highlighting seven of them in today’s post. And I have to admit, I like this season’s round-up a LOT. It features a great mix of genres, a couple “hidden gems” that deserve more attention, and a couple early contenders for Favorite New Book of 2019. 😉

Ready for some new book recommendations? Let’s start with…

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Thank You, Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)

These lines from Mary Oliver’s “When Death Comes” took on new meaning when I read them on the afternoon of January 17, 2019. I’d read the poem before, but time has a way of changing your perception of what you read. In this case, I was re-reading one of Oliver’s most well-known poems about mortality just hours after learning that she, my favorite poet, had died from lymphoma at the age of 83.

The timing was eerie, too. Around the same time last week, I started working on a similar tribute to my favorite author of all time, Ursula K. Le Guin, who had recently passed away. (Oliver died 5 days before the first anniversary of Le Guin’s passing.) So, naturally, I’ve been drawing comparisons between the relationships I have with their work. And I remembered one difference that might surprise some people: While Le Guin’s stories resonated with me right away, it took a few years for me – a fantasy fan and a poet in equal measure – to fall in love with Oliver’s poems.

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Let’s Talk Numbers: Poetry Acceptances and Rejections (Plus, Four Ways to Stay Motivated After Your Writing Is Rejected)

When I was preparing my final poetry submission of 2018 during the last week of December, a surprising question popped into my head: “How many submissions did I send out this year?”

You see, I don’t set goals for a certain number of submissions each month or year, especially since poetry is still a part-time endeavor for me. Instead, I continually write and revise my poems, read various journals, and submit to places that I think would be a good fit for my work. And while I track my submissions, it’s mainly to remind myself of the facts, like which publications I’m waiting to hear from and which poems are currently out on submission.

So, for those reasons, I really had NO idea how many submissions I’d sent out in 2018. (*lol*) And not knowing that number made me curious. So I reviewed my tracking sheet, did some math, and decided to blog about what I found, with some relevant tips to boot.

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The Fellowship of the Ring Book Tag

Ohhhhhhhh this Middle-Earth fangirl was THRILLED to be nominated for this book tag! Nandini at Unputdownable Books created it back in September as part of her Tolkien Reading Month. (Thank you, Nandini!) So it’s taken me a little while to get around to it… But better late than never, right? 🙂

Like with any book tag, let’s establish the “ground rules” – or, rather, points to keep in mind – before we get too far.

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New at DIY MFA: Additional Reading on the Theme of Family

In my previous DIY MFA post, we returned to the theme of family (which we first covered in this case study) and offered five reasons why this theme matters to readers. Today, we continue our deep dive with a wonderfully bookish post. Yes, it’s time for reading recommendations! I share five books that explore the theme of family and briefly explain how they do so (without giving away too many spoilers, of course!). As you read about each one, you might be surprised by not just the variety of genres and kinds of stories represented, but also the different paths each one takes to examine the same theme.

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And the Big Secret Project Is… Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services!

Hi everyone!

This is the Big Secret Project I’ve been working on since September: my own freelance editing and writing coaching business! I know I’ve been teasing about it for a while, but I’ve been reluctant to say much publicly before things were truly ready. And now, it’s Launch Day for…

Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services

So what kinds of services does Heart of the Story offer? Who is the business designed to help? And, what does the business mean for this website? This post will go over all of that. So, without further ado…

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Poetry & Song: “Breath of a Humpback Whale” and Michael Brant DeMaria’s “Ocean”

It’s been a while since the last Poetry & Song post, hasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to write ones for some of my older, previously published poems and the songs that “helped” me write them. But now that a few “newbies” have debuted over the past few months, it’s time to start highlighting those instead. 🙂

So the spotlight turns back to “Breath of a Humpback Whale” today. What’s interesting about this edition of Poetry & Song isn’t what inspired this piece (though the inspiration itself is incredible), but rather the transformation this poem went through from initial spark to publication. In fact, Michael Brant DeMaria’s “Ocean” didn’t become part of the process until the poem’s last round of revisions. But that proved to be the perfect time for music and poetry to come together.

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What’s Making Me Happy: December 2018 and January 2019

Winter in Massachusetts means that, as a resident, you often get some… interesting weather. Two Sundays ago, we had a storm that started as snow, then changed to rain and later to sleet / freezing rain. Then our high temperatures for the next two days were in the single digits Fahrenheit, with wind chills below 0. (Plus, all the snow and rain that had fallen? It froze.) By that Thursday, it was precipitating like crazy again – except it was pouring rain, because the temps had warmed up to over 50 deg F (10 deg C). 😮

And then, on other days, it’s still cold but at least nice enough for moments like the banner image. 🙂 So where was I when I took this photo? And what joys from the past 2 months did I decide to share today? Let’s get right to it! Continue reading

My Ten Reading Goals for 2019

Are you one of those readers who challenges yourself to read a certain number of books every year? I’m… well, not one of those people. (*lol*) But I do have a consistent reading habit, and the reading goals I set for myself are more or less to guide my book choices throughout the year. For example, I try to prioritize brand new releases I’m interested in so I can stay on top of my favorite genre’s current market. And, as I shared in this post last year, I read at least one poem per day to help me comb through my extensive collection of poetry books.

But what about other goals, like finishing series I’ve already started? Or borrowing books from the library periodically? Yeeeeaaahhhh…. I haven’t been nearly as good with those. So I decided to organize my next year of reading with LOTS of goals. Ten, to be exact. I was a little afraid that creating so much structure could sap the fun out of reading. But now that I see what’s in my queue, these goals might help put a dent in my TBR pile and keep things interesting. Yay!

Without further ado, here are my reading goals for 2019:

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