My Holiday Read Recommendations

This year I wanted to read a multitude of holiday books, but my plans got derailed when my dog went in for major surgery. I haven’t had enough time to read more than one book at a time, and I can’t read it very fast either. I’d already started developing a list of holiday books back in October that I wanted to read this December, so I’m going to have to save them for next year. I’ve found Christmas-centric, Hannukah-centric, but no Kwanza-centric yet. If you have a Kwanza-centric book to recommend that isn’t for children, let me know!

I’ve got two very different (read: opposite) books to recommend to you for this holiday season:

1. The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin ($0.99)

The Yuletide Angel

This is the most warm, comforting, enjoyable book ever. It’s a novella that I can read year after year in winter and fall in love with all over again. Ardoin deserves every bit of praise she’s gotten for this book. Taking place in Victorian times, the Yuletide Angel “itself” takes a back seat to the main characters in the book, Hugh Barnes and Violet Madison, who seem destined to be together regardless of his painful shyness and her strong will. For a novella, a whole lot is packed in, and I had to force myself not to read it all at once so I could enjoy it for a little while. Find my full review on Goodreads here.

2. Fall From Grace by J. Edward Ritchie ($0.99)

This novel is the opposite of the previous one, and I haven’t finished it yet, but I can already recommend it. I can’t say I know the story of the fall of Satan from heaven, except for the very basics. I can say that this book has inspired me to read the original text. Fall From Grace reads as if it were the real text. Well, maybe a little more pumped up, but it just sounds so…real. I never expected to say that about something classified as fantasy, but I feel as if I’m reading the true story of what happened, like I’m watching it from a hidden corner. I can’t wait to read the actual text and see how close – or not close – they are.

Leave your own holiday read recommendations in the comments so I can read them next year. I’m looking to continue building my list!

2015 Writer Goals

New Year’s resolutions are not my thing. I don’t think they’re most people’s thing. But this year, I’m determined to make some achievable goals and accomplish them one by one because they’re achievable. I’m not going to promise myself ridiculous things, things that seem out of reach from the start. I’m promising myself things that are important to me, things I’m passionate about, and things I know I can do.

 

  1. Put time aside to read for pleasure. Why is this #1 on my list instead of something writing related? Because it is writing related. As an editor, I read loads of books per year in a critical manner. I read for errors, for problems, for improvements to be made. I read to help others, and I love it. But I’m reading in a very specific, professional manner. It’s like the difference between a doctor having a conversation with a patient and a doctor having a conversation with a friend. For the latter, he must come out of his professional capacity and enjoy the conversation. Likewise, for pleasure reading, I must come out of my professional capacity and enjoy the book. I truly miss enjoying books that I read because I feel like it, and I miss it because I don’t put aside time for it. I always think there’s something more important to be done, but am I not improving my knowledge, my understanding of writing by reading? Am I not understanding my own style better by reading other people’s? I need to fulfill the side of me that wants to read a book because it sounds good, and I’m determined to do that this year. I’m not going to follow any book challenges this year except for the Goodreads challenge to read whatever number of books you set for yourself. I set my goal at 60 and I intend to reach it.

 

  1. Do what it takes to write more often. Here’s the honest truth: I don’t write very often. I want to, but I get caught up in “waiting for the right moment” and being afraid that what I write won’t be right. Both of these reasons are just excuses – excuses I warn other authors against with a passion. I’m great at giving advice about this and even suggesting methods to avoid falling into those traps. I’m not great at taking that advice myself. One of those “what if I publish something and it doesn’t succeed” types of complexes. Well that’s garbage. How will I ever know if I never try? So I’m going to make sure I travel to places that inspire me to write. I’ve already planned two writing vacations for the first half of 2015. I’ve also bought a Chromebook to ensure I can write easily anywhere, whether it be in a notebook or a computer. Even going places like the library or a park or a bookstore inspires me to write. I discovered that in 2014. Now I’m going to apply it in 2015.

 

  1. Allow my creative side to blossom. I’m very interested in many more creative things than writing. Writing is my favorite way to express myself, and the best way in my opinion, so it’s most important to me. But I really enjoy creating other things too, like abstract art and needlepoint works. This year, I’m going to make sure I do those things in order to release my creative side in different ways and constantly indulge it. I have so many things I’d like to try in terms of creating abstract art, and now I’m not afraid to do them. I LOVE creating, even if the things I make are only for myself (although I love making things for other people). I already have some ideas I’m excited to put into action. And I have a needlepoint Kindle/book case I’m currently working on, so that part of the plan is already happening – and it will benefit my new pleasure reading habits! I’ll make sure to post a picture of the Kindle/book case. I like that it’s something I can use instead of a needlepoint that just sits around once its finished. My needlepoints will be things I can use or things that inspire me from now on. It feels so good to accomplish more than one thing at once!

 

  1. Learn to de-stress more efficiently. Although writing relieves stress extremely well for me, sometimes I can’t write because my mind is barraged with other responsibilities or concerns. If I can get my stress level under control, my creativity will be freed and I’ll want to write more often. I’m thinking that a combination of going to the gym a minimum of twice a week to burn off nervous energy and Tai Chi to calm myself on a weekly basis will get the job done. These two things will also benefit my body and improve my health. Any body with less stress is a healthier body. Any brain that can handle stress and remain calm leaves room for things that fulfill your spirit. That’s my goal.

 

  1. Do some volunteer work. Another thing that inspires me and creates good vibes is volunteering. I already know of a place I’d like to go back to where I volunteered in high school. I very much enjoyed it, felt excited and inspired by it, and remember fondly. Everyone was welcoming and kind and I was happy that I could volunteer when I wanted for what I wanted – no rules or restrictions based on how often I can volunteer or for what. I like helping others quite a lot, so I feel another side of me that has been unfulfilled for a few years would blossom and make me happy and inspired.

All of these things will make me feel well rounded as a person and help relieve some wants and needs that have gone unattended since I graduated from college. By doing that, I strongly feel my creative side will flow easily, and my creative side always leads me to writing – it’s my most treasured goal, pastime, and passion. 2015 is going to be an awesome year – I already know it!

What goals have you set for yourself as a writer or a reader this year? Do we have any of the same goals? Share below!