Saturday Edition – What We’re Writing and Reading

Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading.

We’re taking a little detour on the weekends now to share some of what we’re up to with our writing (when we’re not here) and what we’re into with our reading (around the web). We’ll also pull back the curtain a little to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what went into a piece.

We hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Good morning, writers! Happy weekend to you! I hope each of you had a great week. I did. 🙂 The weather around here has been drop dead gorgeous – a perfect alchemy of end-of-summer warmth and soon-to-be fall crispness. Even better than that, though I did continue to handle some project management tasks for a few client projects, I was able to take some time off this week to enjoy the weather.

Being a writer on vacation is an odd thing. First of all, I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time ramping down the internal combustion that drives my writing projects. Even though I’m not actively engaged on client assignments, my brain just goes ahead and keeps churning – clicking away even though I’ve told it we’re off the clock. And then there’s the guilt. I’m not sure if that comes from the writer part of my brain, or the fact that I’m a New England Yankee, but even when I have permission to loaf off, my brain is rattling off an endless litany of all the things I should be doing – getting ahead on blog posts, writing a few extra columns, putting together the copy for my new website.

It was a battle, I tell you, but I won.

I started off with some major cleaning: a day on my house and a day on just my daughter’s room. (How does one, small child create such an intense mess?!?) Clearing the clutter felt GREAT. For days afterward, I walked happily through the neat and orderly rooms of my house, just smiling with satisfaction. I learned an important lesson: my brain is much happier in an uncluttered space.

While I cleaned, I listened to an audio book (more on that below) and once I was done, I dedicated a whole day to reading. I can’t remember the last time I read a book in a single day, but it was definitely before my daughter was born, which means it’s probably something I haven’t done in over a decade.

My week of kicking back is almost over, and Monday I will be diving right back into the fray. That’s okay.  I’m ready. These pockets of down time have helped replenish the well, so to speak, and I’m feeling charged up and prepared. I hope you are, too!

What I’m Writing:

I didn’t write much this week. Mostly, I enjoyed a little journaling. My lack of word count doesn’t mean my writer’s brain was slacking, though. Both the cleaning frenzy and quiet moments served to loosen up my gray matter so it could deliver a few new ideas for posts and columns. Frankly, coming up with the ideas is half the battle, so I actually feel like I had a pretty productive week.

What I’m Reading:

On the writing side of things, I had a blast indulging in an all-day read and powering through an audio book.

The Peculiar
(affiliate link): I didn’t think I would read this book. I’d heard about it somewhere on the web – an astounding accomplishment by a young (sixteen years-old) prodigy. It appealed to me because it was fantasy set in turn of the century London and also had steampunk elements. However, the sample I downloaded to my Kindle didn’t capture my attention the way I’d hoped.

Months later, my daughter fished a copy of the sequel ( – also an affiliate link) out of a box of free books. I was intrigued again, but didn’t want to read the sequel before reading the first book. (Do you do that, too, or are you okay with reading series out of sequence?) SO … I bought the audio book from Audible.

I do not think the book deserved to be compared to Crime and Punishment or anything by Charles Dickens (as the back cover blurbs claim the Los Angeles Times did), but it turned out to be a pleasant enough read. It was a bit slow to start, but I really enjoyed the lush descriptions and the magical elements. I can easily see the book being adapted to the big screen. The ending, however, was a disappointment. I won’t post any spoilers, but suffice to say that if you get the first book you’re going to have to get the second one.

City of Dark Magic: A Novel
(affilate link): I picked this book up from the “Staff Picks” shelf at Sherman’s bookstore in Bar Harbor, Maine (a fabulous book store if you’re ever in that neighborhood). It’s been patiently waiting for attention since the beginning of the summer. I picked it up early in the morning on Thursday, meaning to read a chapter or two and then head out for my walk. A dozen chapters in, I had decided that I could skip my walk and would just head to the beach with the book. A few more chapters, and I’d reasoned that there was no real value in losing good reading time to the tasks of applying sunscreen, packing a bag, and hauling myself down to the shore. And so, I remained on the couch with the book. It was glorious.

The book will not make my list of all-time favorites, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s a summer read – light and fluffy and a little bit naughty here and there. The story was interesting enough, but there were no passages or phrases that merited underlining. It was a page-turner, plain and simple. Conan O’Brien’s referred to it as a “rom com.” I presume this means romantic comedy, but have only heard the term applied to movies. The classification fits, though – but to be accurate, it should be referred to as a “paranormal rom com.”

At any rate, if you’re looking for a fun & fast beach read, I recommend The City of Dark Magic. It won’t change your life, but it will definitely bring some fun into your day.

I am both sorry and happy to say that, because I was enjoying some R&R, I spent very little time online. For this reason, I did not read many blog posts. I’m glad for the break from the Internet, but I’m sorry I don’t have anything to share with you. I do, however, have a favorite quote to share:

Pin Bookstore Musical

Have a great week!

10 thoughts on “Saturday Edition – What We’re Writing and Reading

  1. Jamie, you’re not on your own. My brain goes into overdrive when I’m working on something, and it needn’t necessarily be a writing project. It’s the daytime subconscious. And ps, my dear, there’s no such thing as a writer on vacation. I’m sitting in a youth hostel this morning and downstairs from me a young man is sitting on the staircase crooning Bob Dylan’s Knockin on Heaven’s Door. Being the crack of dawn here, I’m the only one awake enough to appreciate it. Lots of cat calls from behind closed doors. I’m already wondering what to do with that experience. 🙂
    PS I love your favourite quote. I’ll forever be thinking of that whenever I visit my local bookstore.

    • You’re right. Writers are never truly on vacation. Our brains are always working on something. That’s a good thing, though. I wonder if it is the writer in us that makes us so observant and curious, or our curiosity and observation skills that make us writers. It’s kind of a chicken and egg quandary, isn’t it?

    • My favorite cold weather “fairy tale” read is Mark Helprin’s “A Winter’s Tale.” Have you read that one? You might like it. It’s a book that made a much deeper impression on me than City of Dark Magic. I have probably read A Winter’s Tale three or four times. It’s perfect for a mid-winter escape. 🙂 Nice to “see” you, Penny!

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