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Spring 2020 goal review – ‘Ronaverse edition

Heartsbane Saga PromoHow is it that it’s already April and yet this year feels like it’s lasted a million years already?

I’m working from home right now, which is weird. I usually spend my work days running from the 3 area hospitals to the shelters and other places my homeless clients hang out, from the courthouse to the treatment facilities, and for the past couple weeks I’ve had to do everything by phone because I can’t have face-to-face contact with clients. It’s an adjustment, definitely. I’m trying to stay busy, but let’s be honest, I definitely have more free time now. So maybe I’ll make some progress on these goals?

Regardless, every three months or so I try to provide an update on how I’m doing with my annual goals, and it’s time for my spring update.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories.
    I’ve pitched the series to my publisher and am working on polishing up book 1 to give him very soon. I have an editor assigned, and we’re working on getting the cover artist. So, maybe mid summer for the release of book 1, possibly a little earlier for the first short story? The first 4 are written, just need revisions. And of course something I revise in the first book (“I’m a secret agent!” “I’m a secret villain!”) has to trickle down to the rest of them.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month.
    So far in 2020 I’ve published 5 stories on Medium, with one more submitted and waiting on publication. And I’ve also done parts 1 and 2 of a short story, “Spice Pirates,” that’ll probably end up being 4 parts altogether. Yay, I’m meeting this goal!
  3. Continue to increase my networking.
    My goal is to comment on, clap for, and/or share at least 15 people’s blog posts or works, at least 4-5 times a week. I’ve been going in spurts on this, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do this more consistently with the extra time I have on my hands right now.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior.
    Reaching this goal right now means upping my side hustles, which are kinda on hold right now. I’d intended to do some craft shows this spring but that’s obviously not happening. Neither is a side job at the moment, since counseling places aren’t really hiring for evenings right now. I’m still keeping my eyes open for extra income, and crocheting a TON so I’ll be set when/if things go back to normal.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life.
    I’ve been doing decent with this. I decided to go through each room of my house and make it exactly how I want it. I started with my living room; I repainted the tan walls pale blue and painted all the dark wood trim white, then rearranged the furniture. My dad made me a couple book shelves as well as some little shelves tucked into the walls, and I’ve put everything on those. Decluttering, as well as keeping the room decluttered, has been good for my mental health. I’m now working on my entry hallway and stairs. I repainted the lighter tan hallway a lighter pale blue and repainted the trim white as well. I got rid of a lot of the clutter that tends to congregate in the entryway. We stripped all the old stain and carpet glue off the stairs, and now I’m in the process of restaining and painting them. I should be done in the next couple of weeks, depending on how motivated I am. I’m also building a wall ladder plant holder (since my cats love eating my plants) to put at the bottom of the stairs. The colors are very calming, as is not having stuff everywhere. Then it’s on to my dining room, which is a cluttered disaster since it currently doubles as my office.
  6. Read 100 books.
    So far I’ve only read 9 of the 25 I should be at. I just haven’t been in a reading mood, I guess. I’ve been spending a lot of time writing and crocheting instead of reading. And I’ve started a bunch of books but lost interest in them halfway through. Maybe this would be a good time to unpause my reading around the world challenge.

So, there it is. Like usual, I’m making progress on some goals but not on others. Life is throwing us all a massive curveball right now, and I guess all we can do is try our best to keep things normal while everything is definitely not normal. Welcome to the ‘Ronaverse, I guess.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Media Monday: Adapting Etgar Keret

Media MondayThe book: The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God by Etgar Keret

The move: Wristcutters: A Love Story

The song:Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground” by Gogol Bordello

Wristcutters has been one of my favorite movies since the first time I saw it about a decade or so ago. I think Netflix recommended it to me, one of those movies in the “Quirky yet depressing indies” category that I love so much. Basically, this guy Zia kills himself and ends up in a place that’s just like here “but worse.” When he finds out his ex-girlfriend Desiree also killed herself and ended up there too, he goes on a roadtrip with his Russian buddy Eugene and this random hitchhiker girl, Mikal, to try to reunite with his lost love. Along the way Tom Waits shows up, as does Will Arnett. I’m not gonna give away too much about the plot because it’s weird and awesome and currently free on Prime, so just go watch it. Right now.

Based on the awesomeness of the movie, I got a copy of Etgar Keret’s short story collection The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God, which contains the short story the movie’s based on, “Kneller’s Happy Campers.” There are a bunch of differences between the two – all the names have been changed, for example – and overall I think I like the movie better. I prefer the movie’s tone; Zia (or Mordy) is more likeable in the movie, but maybe that’s just because in Keret’s story, written in first person, we get his asshole thoughts that we don’t get in the movie. I also prefer how the movie adds details to flesh out the story, which makes sense because the story is only about 40 pages – although it does pack in a lot. Another big change is that the movie is made for American audiences, while Etgar Keret’s story is heavily Israeli, so a lot of references and details from the story are left out or changed (except when they’re not and you have a random Arabic suicide bomber show up in the movie with no context).

But the main difference is the ending. I personally like the book’s ending better; you could chop the last 4 minutes off the movie and I think it would be a lot better. But I prefer that with most movies, actually. Again, no spoilers. And there’s nothing wrong with the movie’s ending necessarily; it just seems like they wanted to wrap things up nicely. Which is stupid for a dark comedy, but whatever.

The song is actually from the movie. Eugene was rewritten for the movie so that he was a failed rockstar loser rather than just the failed loser that he was in the story. The difference is mainly just his backstory and method of suicide. I’m pretty sure the only reason they did it was to have a reason to put this song on the soundtrack, but that’s okay because it’s a good song.

If you’ve seen the movie and/or read the story, or any stuff by Keret, what are your thoughts on it? Do you generally prefer the book or the movie? What do you like or not like about adaptations? Share your thoughts below!

 

2019 book roundup

2019 goodreads challenge logoMy goal every year is to read 100 books. This year, I read 61, almost half of which were in the first few months of the year (I read 27 books from January-April, then about 10 or so in each subsequent quarter). Being home with pneumonia for a few days is a great way to catch up on unread books.

This list only includes books I finished. There are dozens that I started but didn’t finish (often not even the first chapter) either because they were poorly edited or didn’t hold my interest or that I’m still convinced I’ll finish some day. I also didn’t include textbooks or journals that I read for school or work.

Here’s a breakdown of what I read:

  • 4 (7%) were either kids or young adult; the rest were adult. Of the kids books, 2 were ones I’d read as a kid and was rereading as an adult.
  • 1 (2%) was nonfiction and the rest were fiction. So much for my goal of trying to read more nonfiction books.
  • 3 (5%) were single short stories, and 5 (8%) were short story anthologies.
  • I know the authors of 21 (34%) of the books. 4 (7%) share my publisher and 3 were by someone in my in-person writing group.
  • 28 (46%) were in a series. 5 were the first book and I probably won’t read the rest in the series. 12 were in 3 series I binged within a week of starting the first books.
  • 6 (10%) were from Amazon’s first read program, where they offer a free ebook to Prime members.
  • 7 (11%) were from a different country besides US/Canada/Australia/Britain. 6 of those were part of the Around the World reading challenge, and 1 was one I picked up in India, where I generally buy all the English language books I can find.
  • 18 (30%) were books I didn’t like enough to rate at least 4 stars or above. There were also 9 more I started but chose not to finish.
  • 49 (80%) were ebooks. I’m buying print copies of all my Around the World challenge books, or this number would’ve been higher

Best books I read in 2018:

  • Yarnsworld series by Benedict Patrick. A dark, unique spin on fairy tales. I can’t recommend these enough.
  • Drawing Breath by Laurie Boris. A very emotional, realistic story about the (completely legal, platonic) relationship between a teenage girl and her high school art teacher who’s dying of cystic fibrosis.
  • A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. A scathing, lyrical take on the legacy of colonialism in Antigua.
  • Enchantress of Books and other stories by Alison McBain. A collection of fantasy short stories.
  • Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard. A coming-of-age story about a Minnesota teen whose life sucks.

If you challenged yourself to read a set number of books in 2019, how did you end up doing? What were your favorites? Anything you particularly disliked?

Media Monday: the political dynasty of Richard Robbins

Media MondayThe book: Panicles by Richard Robbins

The music: “Running up that Hill” by Placebo

Panicles is a novel that follows two families, the Waxes and the Murnanes, as they weave in and out of each other’s lives. The Waxes are blue collar and the Murnanes are old money, yet Matthew Wax and Emily Murnane form a lifelong friendship that carries them through death, war, and politics. So much politics.

The story reads like an episode of Law and Order, and I’m not sure if the author intended it that way to translate well to a screen because that’s what we get. The story is very dialogue driven; the characters are aware of their feelings and motivations and voice them and backstory to each other in every interaction, rather than presenting these in the narrative. The story is also chronologically fast-paced, in that we get a brief scene of the important events in their lives, covering 30+ years of the characters’ fortunes and misfortunes.

I think the author could easily have split this book into three or more separate books, due to the wide cast of characters and the richness of their lives that we only get brief glimpses of. That said, there’s a second book coming down the pipeline and hopefully it’ll give us the chance to savor the characters we’ve gotten to know throughout book 1.

I picked this accompanying song for two reasons. First, the Meg Myers version of this song is all over the radio right now and the Placebo version is better so I want people to know that. Second, and more relevantly, there are a lot of missed opportunities for the characters, some of their own making and some handed over by fate. Regardless, the characters try to make the best of it.

Also, Placebo has been one of my favorite bands for 25 years now. I feel old.

Resolutions: 2018 review and 2019 goals

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane does not care about my goals.

It’s that time of year: looking back on my goals for the previous year and then setting goals for the new year.

2019 goals

2019 was pretty rough. I changed jobs midyear, and while I really love my new job, it’s very emotionally demanding. I also filled in for about 2-3 months, which means I was often too drained to work towards any of my goals for a big chunk of this fall. I’m also used to having a lot more time off – I was in grad school for three years and then worked in a school – and so I’m still adjusting to not having 50+ days off a year.

So, here’s how I did in 2019.

  1. Publish to Medium at least weekly and Patreon monthly. I published 16 stories on Medium in 2019. I was doing okay – not great, but still okay – until I took that part-time job, and then I didn’t publish anything from August until just last week. As for Patreon, I don’t have any patrons so I didn’t have any incentive to hit this goal. I posted three short stories, and the last one was way back in July. This goal probably won’t take off until I have patrons.
  2. Finish my novella series. I’m almost done with book 4, of seven, and I have several related shorts finished or half started. My writing group has done a great job of keeping me motivated to finish this, as well as given me great feedback on plot and characters.
  3. Increase my networking. This was going well until it wasn’t. How’s that for a summary? When I had free time I was able to do a lot more reading of blogs, Medium works, etc. When I didn’t have free time this was the first goal to go. I’ve stepped it back up this last month, and I’ve actually seen results with more views of my own stuff. It’s a valuable goal that I need to make time for.
  4. Read 100 books. I read 61 books in 2019. Reading was another thing that got pushed aside. I was making great progress the first half of the year, but my emotional energy-sapping job left me coming home to veg out and crochet in front of YouTube, not a book.
  5. Keep going with my trauma-informed care/school social work writing. Again, my job (which I really do love) sucks up all my social work energy during the day and I try very hard not to think about it when I’m not working, because I could easily spend 60+ hours a week on it and it still wouldn’t be enough. I’d like to get back into this stuff eventually but right now I need a recalibration break from my career path.
  6. Have more adventures. I didn’t really have any adventures this year, and unfortunately I don’t anticipate having any for the foreseeable future. Adulting sucks.

Overall in 2019

2019 was pretty much a wash, other than making a lot of progress on my novella series. Oh well. Life goes on!

2020 goals

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories. I’m over halfway done, which is very motivating. I had to go back and make some changes to the first couple books, rather than retcon the later books, but I think the first one is good to go to my publisher in the next few weeks, as well as at least one short story I want to release to build buzz. I then should be able to have a new one release every 3-4 months after the first one.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month. I’ve focused a lot of my writing time on my novella series, but it’s not hard to fit in a flash story as well. One of my stories was curated by Medium staff and is doing really well, and I’d like to try to get a couple more picked up as well. At the very least, I want to generate more momentum on Medium, and I can’t do it without new stuff on a regular basis.
  3. Continue to increase my networking. I’ve seen tangible financial results when I’ve done this consistently. The problem is that it requires momentum, and when I lose that momentum I have to start all over. I want to comment on, clap for, and/or share at least 15 people’s blog posts or works, at least 4-5 times a week.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior. Okay, so this isn’t happening this year. But one of my long-term goals is to have a little cabin on the UP of Michigan, and it’s actually financially possible, but the first step is to get out of debt. To reach this goal I’m gonna need to up my side hustles: writing, selling crochet stuff, plasma donation, second job, whatever. I NEED this cabin for my misanthropic mental health.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. This applies both physically and mentally. I have way too much stuff I don’t use, need, or even want, and so I’d like to get rid of a lot of it. I’m planning to do some no-buy months so that I’m also not bringing in stuff I don’t need (which ties into goal #4 as well). I’m also going to try to change some of my habits so that I’m spending more time on things that actually matter to me, like developing a healthier lifestyle, writing, and meeting my goals. I’ve come to realize that if I don’t prioritize this stuff, no one else will either.
  6. Read 100 books. Maybe I’ll actually do it this year!

The key to meeting these goals, like I said in #5, is actually putting in the effort. No one will do them for me.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Coming soon – a new series with its own mascot!

Clyde happensFor the past year or so, most of my writing effort has been divided between short stories and The Heartsbane Saga, the new series I’m working on. I’ve been working on this series for years, actually, but it’s really gained its momentum over the last 12-15 months.

This series will be 7 novellas (so far, about 40-50k words each although I expect they’ll get longer as the series progresses) and 7 stand-alone-ish short stories, each of which is based on a different fairy tale.

Originally the series was just going to be one book, but then it morphed into 7. I had them all roughly plotted out. My writing group, Chicken Scratch QC, approved of the arc. I was all set.

I wrote book 1. So far, so good. I started on book 2. And that’s when things started to go off the rails (although in a good way, because the direction I’m going in has a lot more depth and excitement and twists to it). Specifically, Clyde happened.

Clyde is a character who wasn’t supposed to be a character, who’s kinda become a legend in my local writing groups as a way to express when things aren’t going the way you thought they would in your story. “Dammit, Clyde” is frequently heard at writing gatherings.

In book 2, my main group of characters travels to Aghlabid, a far away country, and they’re accompanied by a couple nameless huskarler (bodyguards). Or at least, they were supposed to be nameless. Our conversation went a bit like this:

Character A: We want names.

Me: No.

Character B: I’ll be Gunnar.

Me: No.

Character A: And I’m Clyde.

Me: WTF. Clyde? Clyde is not a Viking name. At least Gunnar is a traditional Icelandic/Viking name.

Clyde: Also, we’re going to be integral to the plot.

Me: No.

Clyde: F your outline.

Me: Dammit, Clyde!

And Clyde’s been uncooperative ever since. I’ve had to redo my series outline at least three times now because of him, although again, each time the story’s become stronger and better for it.

But please, don’t tell Clyde that.

Heartsbane slideI’d originally planned to have the first book to my publisher earlier this spring, but due to changes to the series I’ve had to do some retconning (dammit, Clyde) and am now waiting until most of it is done before we release all the books a month or two apart, hopefully starting this spring. If you want to read sneak peaks, please head over to Patreon, where the first short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” is posted as well as the first chapters of the books.

Fall 2019 goal review

Every three months or so, I try to provide an update on how I’m doing with my annual goals. Here’s my update for this fall.

  1. Publish to Medium at least weekly and Patreon monthly.
    Mid August, I offered to fill in running evening substance use groups as-needed. Turns out they needed me to do it three times a week until someone new was hired for the position. I’m currently on week 8 of this, and that 15 or so extra hours of work a week, in addition to my regular 40, has been kicking my butt creatively. I’ve been putting all my time into my novella series (see #2 below) and have only published 15 stories on Medium this year, compared to the 39 I should have at this point. I’ve also only posted 3 short stories on Patreon, compared to the 10 I should be at (but I don’t have any patrons, so I don’t really feel all that motivated to post).
  2. Finish my novella series.
    Book 3 is done and I’m planning on writing book 4 for NaNoWriMo this year. I also have a finished short story and a couple more half-written shorts. I’d planned to send the first book to my publisher already but have had to go back and change some stuff in it so that the plot flows better in later books. I’ve also completely re-outlined the series several times, as characters have not cooperated as they should’ve. However, I think this is making the series stronger because the plot and character development is now more natural.
  3. Increase my networking.
    14-hour work days will kill your networking. I’ll get back to this when I drop back down to filling in occasionally rather than 3 times a week.
  4. Read 100 books.
    I’m at 51 right now, which is 27 behind schedule. Again, no time to read.
  5. Keep going with my trauma-informed care/school social work writing.
    I have some ideas for posts on TIC but I haven’t written any yet. I need to get back to this.
  6. Have more adventures.
    I made it to Wichita and Truth or Consequences, NM, on our vacation to the Grand Canyon this summer, but for the most part the trip went well. We didn’t run out of gas like we did in Oregon a couple years ago. No ambulance rides like in Thailand last summer. No wild animal attacks or banks blocking my debit card or really weird tourist traps. My kid and I are spending a weekend in L.A. in December, so maybe that’ll turn into an adventure for us?

Unless something drastically changes soon (and I really, really, really hope it does not), it doesn’t look like I’ll be hitting my goals this year. But you know what? That’s okay. As Armando Perez once said, “Reach for the stars and if you don’t grab ’em, at least you’d fall on top of the world.” I may not be hitting my goals, but at least I’m writing!

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Summer 2019 goal review

Going In Circles Ebook

I released this not too long ago. Not a goal but it’s still an accomplishment!

Summer is in full swing. The flood waters have finally receded (yay for a record-length flood of 66 days of major flooding and 103 total days of flooding), my garden is in overdrive, and I’m longing for a North Dakota winter with snow and cold and zero humidity.

And it’s also time for my quarterly goal review.

Every 3 months, I review my annual goals. Here’s my progress so far this year.

  1. Publish to Medium at least weekly and Patreon monthly.
    I should be at about 26 Medium stories and 6 Patreon. I’m at 13 for Medium and 2 for Patreon, with another short story posting this weekend.
  2. Finish my novella series.
    I’m still final revising book 1, Captive and the Cursed. Book 2, Sleeping Shaman, is finished and needs to be edited. Book 3, Little Amethyst Abaya, is half done. I’ve also written a stand-alone short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” which is currently available on Patreon, and I’ve halfway through a couple more stand-alone shorts: “The Brave Little Thrall” and “The Fabiranum Town Apprentices.” These are about side characters and take place years before the main storyline. I’m hoping to have several to send to my publisher when I get them the first book (which I hope to have to them soon; I’m just more interested in writing new stuff than revising).
  3. Increase my networking.
    I was doing well with this but since I got a new job, it’s fallen off. I put the Medium app back on my phone though, so I theoretically will read stories on it when I have free time rather than playing stupid games.
  4. Read 100 books.
    I’m at 40 right now, which is 10 behind schedule. Between working and writing and gardening and destressing from my job with YouTube videos, reading hasn’t been a priority. I also haven’t really found anything recently that’s grabbed my attention.
  5. Keep going with my trauma-informed care/school social work writing.
    I have a couple posts in mind but nothing written yet.
  6. Have more adventures.
    My new job means I don’t have the summers off anymore. And it also means I don’t have enough vacation time accrued yet to take time off for adventures. I’ll have enough days in August to head out west to the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and other places I’m going based just on the name (Truth and Consequence, NM) or because The White Stripes told me to (“I’m going to Wichita/Far from this opera for evermore”). Yeah, that seriously is why I go places. Like Medicine Hat, Alberta, a few years go – I liked the name.

Just because my life hasn’t aligned with my goals doesn’t mean I’ve been unproductive. My writing group is doing a great job of keeping me accountable and motivated with my Heartsbane novellas. And even though I haven’t hit my short story goal, between those stories and my series I’ve been writing more in the past six months than I probably have in the past six years. I’ve also been crocheting a ton so that maybe I can do some craft shows this fall. We’ll see how much I have made closer to time.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

An unscientific poll about romance

My writers’ group had a conversation recently about what kind of romance we like to read, sparked by a local author whose books are in the “clean and wholesome romance” section on Amazon. We discussed what that might entail, and decided it was the opposite of “dirty liberal atheist” romance.

Then, out of curiosity, I did a poll on Twitter and Facebook.

RomancePollTwitter RomancePollFB

My sample size was small (9 and 7, respectively), and there’s a good chance some of the same people voted on both of them. But still, 4 people (25%) prefer clean and wholesome and 12 (75%) prefer dirty liberal atheist, which is a thing I just made up. A couple people commented that they don’t specifically read romance but enjoy romantic subplots.

This is kinda pertinent for me because I’m not a big romance person either. The series I’m working on has maybe more romance in it than I prefer, but it has lots of different types of relationships and all are part of character development. The relationships are constantly shifting as the characters grow (or regress, in some cases). Based on my polls, it seems like my readers will be okay with this.

Are you a romance reader? What kind of love/relationships/courtship do you prefer: clean and wholesome, dirty liberal atheist, or somewhere in the middle? Let me know in the comments!

Media Monday: Reading my way around the world #1

Reading Around the WorldThe books: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Under the Banners of Melancholy: Collected Literary Works by Migjeni, Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel, and The Teacher of Cheops by Albert Salvadó

The music: “Earth” by Lil Dicky

I love lists. I love making them, and I love using them as a guide for what to do, especially when it comes to reading. A while back I read about a woman who read a book from every country, and I thought to myself, hey, maybe I should do that too. I tend to mostly read books by American, British, and other English-speaking country writers, and I’m always looking for new perspectives.

A quick Google search gave me a list of 266 countries, so obviously I’m not going to finish this challenge anytime soon. I’ll be updating my progress as I finish a handful or two of books.

Afghanistan

For my first book, I went with one I’d been meaning to read for a while: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I debated on whether this actually counts as an Afghani book – the author was born in Afghanistan but now lives and writes in the US – but eventually decided just to go with it.

I wasn’t super impressed with this book. It felt like Hosseini was trying too hard to push his theme of redemption, and all the characters served only to help the main character grow. On some level this is good – you don’t want a bunch of superfluous characters – but the way it was done was very transparent.

Albania

I found a great series, 20+ books on Albanian Studies by Robert Elsie. I’d love to read all of them someday, but for this list I chose Under the Banners of Melancholy: Collected Literary Works by Albanian poet and prosist Migjeni.

I’ve read a lot of Russian stuff and figured an early 20th century rural Albanian would write in a similar vein. The guy studied to be a priest and then taught school in a rural village before dying of tuberculosis at the age of 26. His poems and stories are filled with cynicism and longing for romantic relationships he never received.

From the back cover: “The main theme of his literary work was misery and despair. Previous generations of Albanian writers had sung the beauties of the Albanian mountains and the sacred traditions of the nation, whereas Migjeni now opened his eyes to the harsh realities of life, to the appalling level of misery, disease and poverty he discovered all around him. He was a writer of despair who saw no way out, who cherished no hope that anything but death could put an end to his suffering.”

But through it all, there’s a faint vein of hopeful optimism for his country and for the people around him.

I’m not a huge poetry person, and some of the works became repetitive after a while. He also had a lot of purple prose, although this book was an English translation so I’m not sure how accurate this book was. Overall, though, I enjoyed this, especially some of the short stories. It’s a shame he died so young, because he would’ve had a lot to contribute to Albanian literature.

American Samoa

Believe it or not, there aren’t a lot of American Samoan authors out there. I cheated a bit for this one and went with a Samoan author who lives in American Samoa. I ended up reading Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel, a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in Samoa.

At least, that’s what the description said. But this book was a lot more than that. It was as much about Samoan culture – regarding family, community, and views towards the rest of the world – as it was about what the main character Alofa went through. This book was very skillfully written, conveying just as much in what it didn’t say as it did with its descriptions. My favorite that I’ve read so far.

Andorra

As you’ll learn if you try this challenge yourself, there’s really only one book by an Andorran author that’s been translated into English: The Teacher of Cheops by Albert Salvadó. And it’s about ancient Egypt.

The story itself wasn’t bad. It’s about a slave, Sedum, who gains his freedom and then works his way up to become treasurer to the pharaoh. But the characters aren’t fleshed out. There’s lots of pages on this made-up “path in the stars” philosophy stuff which is probably way too Eastern for ancient Egypt. Lots of details that don’t matter, especially in the very clinical sex scenes.

It was definitely a slog to finish, and if I hadn’t been reading it for this challenge I would’ve put it down after just a couple chapters.

Up next:

Algeria, Angola, Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Argentina

The music

Today’s song is quite possibly one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard, but in a juvenile, amusing way. I heard it on the radio and didn’t believe it was a real thing – that’s how stupid it is. I suggest everyone should listen to it at least once (although warning: it’s definitely NSFW).

If you’re doing or have done this challenge, what did you read for each of these countries? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think of them?

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