Monday, December 11, 2017

Notes for a New Year (One Word & Reading Challenges)

by Andrea Renee Cox

Before you heckle me for jumping straight over Christmas, let me assure you, I am not forgetting this most special of holidays. I'm already brainstorming an article for the week of Christmas, which I'll most likely post on that Sunday, since the twenty-fifth lands on a Monday this year.

This article, though, is to give you a heads-up of what's heading your way in the new year.

Firstly, let's talk about One Word. This year was my first experience with it, and I feel like I wasn't as intentional about it as I had intended to be. That's something I'm planning on working on for 2018, to be much more intentional about applying my One Word for the year.

During 2017, my One Word was see. Throughout the year, I gained a new perspective on many things. I learned that God has already been moving in mighty ways in my life, and He opened my eyes to see much more than I had imagined when I put up my new calendars last January first.



Monday, December 4, 2017

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

by Andrea Renee Cox

Note: I normally don't post negative reviews on my blog, because I would rather share with you about books I enjoyed and think you might also like. However, when I signed up to review this one, I agreed to post my review on my blog, whether or not I enjoyed it. Please consider this review my personal thoughts and concerns about this book. Feel free to read the book and decide for yourself.

When I saw the endorsement on the front cover of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. How could I not when it’s touted to “rival a John Grisham novel”?

I wish I had a bunch of positive things to say about this book, but I cannot pretend I enjoyed it. This is an extremely difficult review to write, because I dislike being negative about any author’s hard work. I know how many hours and emotions and commitment go into writing a novel, and I appreciate the passion and effort and time that go into every book I read, even those that weren’t a good fit for my reading taste.

Warning: There are plot spoilers ahead.

Not two chapters in, I was disappointed by the predictability of this story. That trend continued throughout, only truly surprising me twice in over 300 pages. The plot, which had great potential, seemed simplistic with not much suspense or action driving it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Last Month of Reading Challenge

by Andrea Renee Cox

We've made it through five months of the Autumn 2017 Reading Challenge I've been hosting here on Writing to Inspire. Have you been making good progress toward your reading goals?



There's only one more month to go now. I have been rooting for you to enjoy and do well on this reading challenge over the past five months, and I'll still be rooting for you through December as well.


You can do it!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving

by Andrea Renee Cox

Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope your family and you will create wonderful memories as you eat great food, play board games, watch movies, chat up a storm, and whatever else you might do during the holiday.


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?



Monday, November 13, 2017

A Glimpse at a Rough Draft

by Andrea Renee Cox

This month is insanely busy for me, but I am remembering to take time to enjoy life and rest between my various projects. This weekend, I saw Murder on the Orient Express, which was a phenomenal story, one which I recommend studying to learn how to write complex plots that keep viewers guessing until the very end. I also saw a re-showing of Casablanca—a celebration of its 75th anniversary—an old classic I didn’t appreciate the first time I watched it. Cut me some slack, though. I was a teenager who understood nothing of politics back then. Even though I am still not a fan of politics, I understand more about them now, and I’ve learned a great deal about WWII since the last time I viewed that classic movie. 

As for rest, I’m soaking in snippets of the Word of God. I’m finding it helpful to meditate on a single verse or small section of verses these days, since I am so busy. This still keeps my mind and heart focused on God and His Word, even as chaos is pinballing around me. I love writing these verses on the white board in my room as well as on 3-by-5-inch notecards to stick in my purse, keep at my desk, and prop up on my bookcase (which I visit often, as you can imagine, my being an avid reader). At other times, I like to flip open to a favorite section in the Bible and read a full chapter. While doing this, I pay extra-special attention to any passages that I had previously highlighted, underlined, or circled—and I often end up finding hope, encouragement, and a whisper of love from the God I serve. Those moments are the most precious of my day.

These days, I need all the encouragement I can get, because I’m nearing the middle of NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write at least 50,000 words toward a new book during the month of November. Believe it or not, I’m past 40k already. Still going strong too. I’m at that point now where I’m doubting the quality of my work and dreading the editing. Normally when I reach this point, I hit a slump in my writing. I don’t know if it’s a dip in my confidence or a gap in my timeline (or lack of a timeline altogether). This year I have most of a timeline, and my confidence is stronger than in NaNos past. Still, I find myself struggling to find words right when I sit down.

Since I’m talking about NaNoWriMo and the story I’m working on, how would you like to see a section of my very rough first draft? Sharing something so raw and unedited makes me nervous, but I appreciate you guys so much that I want to share this tidbit with you. Here goes…

Monday, November 6, 2017

Work-In-Progress

by Andrea Renee Cox

November is here. What does that mean to you? For me, it means family, Thanksgiving, and NaNoWriMo.

Do you remember when I told you about my project for this year's National Novel Writing Month challenge? I began writing it on November 1, and I've been chasing words every day since then.

Would you believe that I've already passed 16,000 words? I've written three and a half chapters, cried several times (twice on day one!), and am enjoying getting to know these characters better as I step into their upturned world. More than that, while I'm in the beginning chapters of this work-in-progress, I'm loving discovering (again) that I am a work-in-progress.

One of the things I was most nervous about prior to beginning this book was finding the right tone in the first three paragraphs. I love a dynamic opening line too, so of course I was hoping for one, but I wasn't really sure if I would find one. I prayed for God's guidance for the first line and opening paragraphs, as I do over every chapter and every word, because my future readers and this book are so special to me. In addition to that, I want this story to make an impact from the beginning. I knew if I got the tone wrong from the start, I'd end up having to rip the entire story apart in rewrites, and I dislike having to do that -- though sometimes it's necessary.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

by Andrea Renee Cox

Coming up in only a couple of days, I'll be hosting a reading marathon of Katherine Reay's books. As a bit of a preview, here's my review of her fifth novel, which happens to be her newest release, available on November 7. Stay tuned past my review for more information on the reading marathon. I would love it if you'd join in the fun!



The beginning chapters of The Austen Escape provided a steady, gentle tug into the story, but before I knew what was happening, I found myself ensnared by this beautiful, vulnerable tale of tender hope and broken friendships wrapped in a contemporary-Regency setting. I love Ms. Reay's trademark inclusion of vulnerability and insecurities in not only the lead but also the supporting cast. Honestly, I think she's one of the best at incorporating these qualities in a way that makes her characters and stories incredibly easy to relate to... and ones that will always have a place on my bookshelves.