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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My Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018

Another year has passed, which means another year’s worth of reading to celebrate! Yes, it’s time to share my favorite fiction reads of 2018. And let me tell you: Even though I had a pretty good idea which of the 53 fiction books I finished last year would end up on this list, I’m glad I didn’t share my list right away – because there was a last-minute shake-up!

Like with past best-of reading lists I’ve posted, this year’s showcases my 10 favorite brand new books of 2018 and 10 favorite previously published books. Unlike past years, though, I’ve made two notable changes. First, goodness, there were too many close calls when I tried ranking the books from #1 to #10! So I opted for alphabetical listing by title instead. Second, and sadly, no giveaway this year. As fun as giveaways can be, I can’t give one the attention it needs right now. So I hope you understand my need for keeping things simple, and you still enjoy reading this post regardless.

Ready to dive into the first list? 😉

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Reflections on 2018 and My Keyword for 2019

The end of December and beginning of January is a thoughtful time of year for me. I think back on the previous year, the highlights and achievements, the setbacks and lessons learned. Then I turn to the year that’s beginning to unfold. I ask myself, “What can I accomplish by the end of the year? What do I want to do? How can I continue to embrace the projects and ideals that matter most to me?”

This year, I’m taking that goal-setting to a new level by trying a New Year’s ritual that my friend Leanne Sowul practices. Every January, she chooses a word to guide her decisions, intentions, and actions for the next 12 months. In that way, it becomes a sort of theme for her year. And knowing what I’ll be up to in the near future, I’ve chosen my own word to be my touchstone for 2019.

Before I share that word, let’s put 2018 into perspective.

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New Poems Published in Canary and Amethyst Review

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you had a warm, safe, and joyful beginning to your 2019.

Today I’m thrilled to share two new poems that have been published over the past couple weeks. First, “Osprey at Bass River” is featured the Winter 2018 / 2019 issue of Canary, an online literary journal focusing on nature and the environment. This poem was accepted back in March, and the joy of finally seeing it in print (and with a fitting photo to boot) has been worth the wait. 🙂

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My Favorite Fiction Reads of Fall 2018

Is it really the last week of 2018?? How crazy is that? I could swear that not too long ago, I started reading my first book of the year. And now, 51 weeks and 53 fiction reads later, Christmas has come and gone and 2019 is around the corner. I hope you’ve enjoyed your December holidays so far, and any New Year’s plans you have are fun, warm, and safe. ❤

Out of the 11 books I finished reading over the fall, I’m highlighting my nine favorites in today’s post. The funny thing is, I’m also working on my Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018 post, which will go live in mid-January… and you’ll hear about some of these books again then. No spoilers, though – you’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out which books made that list. Until then, enjoy these reviews! And feel free to visit each book’s Goodreads page by clicking on its title.  Continue reading