Christmas Novels – 2016

I myself will not get to indulge in too much Christmas/Holiday reading this year. Classes end for me on December 15th. I may get 2 Holiday reads in. At this point I’m not sure exactly which ones I will be reading…not entirely true, I do know one.

Richard Paul EvansThe Mistletoe Secret (Nov 15, 2016). It is part of the Mistletoe Collection (The Mistletoe Promise and The Mistletoe Inn).

Evans is known for his Christmas Collections. There is The Christmas Box Collection (The Christmas Box, Timepiece, and The Letter), and then he wrote a few stand alone Christmas books (Promise Me, The Gift, The Winter Dream, Grace, Finding Noel, The Christmas List, and Lost December).

I recommend any of these books for a quick and satisfyingChristmas read.



Other things I may try to add to my Christmas TBR.

For the Debbie Macomber fans her newest novel Twelve Days of Christmas arrived on October 4, 2016. I personally have never read a Christmas novel by Macomber (I’ve seen the film adaptations on Hallmark etc.), but I know people who can’t live without a Macomber Christmas book every year. Sort of like me and Evans.



Another fan favorite is Melody Carlson. Her book The Christmas Angel Project has been out since August. I have read a few of her books, and I must say, they are touching. This might be one I slip into the reading list this Christmas.


Any Karen Kingsbury fans out there? She has one this year as well. A Baxter Family Christmas. This one just came out. Kingsbury writes Christian fiction, so be prepared to have your heart warmed, your feelings touched and your soul redeemed.



We can’t have Christmas without the Amish. Cindy Woodsmall has written one for us this year. Another one I will probably try to fit into my busy reading schedule. The Angel of Forest Hill: An Amish Christmas Romance. This one came out early October



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MFA Report #3 – Week 8

This week will mark the week period of the program. I am still alive, although as you can see, my blog posts have suffered. I have been reading and writing almost non stop.


I’ve handed in my first piece for the workshop. It was mostly well received. I got the critiques back and now it is time to revise. But I cannot do that just yet, because my second piece is due in 17 days. This one is a biggy as it is the start of my thesis. A lot of pressure here.

At the end of the 2 years, I need to have a thesis. That is 75 pages of a novel or other book (short stories etc.) I felt it was best to get that started. It is killing me though. Whoever said writing was easy, never wrote anything!

Lit Class (as in Literature, not as in Lit, although the class is Lit)1horse

All the books are rolling into one another. The books I’ve read in the last 8 weeks (for school, not for my own pleasure) are: Mrs. Dalloway, Family Life, Between the World and Me, A Visit from the Goon Squad, This is How you Lose Her, The Road, and I am currently reading The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse.

Two more books to go after this. Not to mention two more 5-page essays to write, no seat…right.

Master Class

We started the 2nd round of our Master Classes. Our current teacher is Bushra Rehman, author of Corona. The class is entitled: Prose & Poetic Logic. I’ve only had two classes so far and already I find it invaluable. Not only am I introduced to various authors I’ve never heard of (and so1bushrame I have), but we are given 25 minutes to write on an open prompt.

I find that writing this way is freeing. A lot of ideas surface.

This class ends one week before Thanksgiving, which is good because by then I think I will be almost dead from exhaustion.


I like my classmates, and I like the fact that we all write very different things. Some of the genre’s that are floating around are: Horror, Historical Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult, Lyrical Prose and the list goes on. No one has written a bad or boring story. I’m excited to be with these people for the next two years.

The Professors are starting to look at next years students. They will be the second class, but I will always have to honor of being in the inaugural class, and the first class to graduate from The College of New Rochelle with an MFA in Creative Writing.


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Bullet Journal – October


I have been using my bullet journal for over a month.  I started it the last week of August. I find that it does help.  I don’t always carry it with me, I must confess. That is because I am carryiing my school books, and my bag tends to be full. But I do look at it often.

And yes, I’m still taking the lazy way out and printing my monthly calander out.  The small ones and the full page ones.  For this to work, I have to take shortcuts.  It is great if you have oodles of time to create your own montly spread, but I have to sit down and find time to make the weekly ones as it is.  I need to spend my time doing my MFA stuff.

I’ve settled on a weekly la30050662835_cb70826b15_zyout.  For now.  The weekly layout is pretty much what it looks like in traditional planners.  I tried the boxes, but found it too confusing for me.  Having the ‘traditional’ look, also affords me a free page to put the monthly calander plus future log for the month.

I am staying with the future logs for upcoming months as well. I like to have that to add too.

Hey, I know it isn’t fancy or pretty with the calligraphy etc. But it functions. And I have cute stickers.  I can my whimisical!  Let’s see how this month works out.



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MFA Report #2 – Week 4

I am starting my 4th week of the Program. It will be 1 month on the 8th.

Things have picked up rapidly, but I am able to keep up.  

I did learn that my Wednesday class “The Writer at Work” will be a 10 week class.  Initially I thought it would be for 5 weeks, and I’d be able to sleep, but it doesn’t seem that, that will be the case.  This class will end the week before Thanksgiving.  At least my holiday will be a little less hectic.

I am on my third book for the Lit class. Currently we are reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Very powerful, non-fiction book.  We just finished Family Life by Akhil Sharma which I enjoyed.  I like the different types of narratives we are reading. These are books I would never chose for myslef.  We finished Mrs. Dalloway first, not my cup of tea.  Mrs. Dalloway is that type of book that made me hate reading in high school. However, I suppose there is the need to branch out. I can see that as an adult.

My workshop piece is due on October 13th.  Yes it is written.  It is the first draft of crap.  Well, it is actually the third draft since I changed POV 3 times already.  I think the one I finally settled on works.  We will let the class decide.

I am finally getting used to the lack of sleep. To me, that is the hardest part, the actual work is so much fun.

Some guy I dated had said to me that Grad School would be too hard. In essence, he was saying that I couldn’t hack it.  He didn’t come out and say it in those words, but that is what he meant.  I’m not sure why he thought that. He didn’t know me well enough to know better.  NONE of my friends or co-workers ever said that — why? Because they know me.  They know not only will it NOT be hard, I will relish it.  

I am sure by semester 4, I will be pulling my hair out and crying for my mommy, but right now…bring it on!

I have no photos today, but I took a video of my pretty campus.  



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MFA Report #1 – How Goes it.

I decided to document my journey through the MFA program, because I found a lack of actual real-time blogs/posts about it. People often talk about what they’ve learned or how they liked their experience, but I don’t recall seeing anything that said…this is what is happening now. 

I’m sure they are out there, somewhere.

I have just finished my 1st full week of the program.

One of my classes is a Literature class.  In this class we read lots of books.  We are currently reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf.  The professor wants us to see how certain books are written, if they use stream of consciousness or free indirect speech or something else.  We discuss it and dissect it. Then we are given an assignment of trying to imitate the style.

There are 8-9 books to read for this course.


A few of the books I will be reading

Another class is called The Writer at Work. This class zero’s in on certain aspects of writing; such as Dialogue, character etc.  The professor will change each semester, and the class only lasts 5 weeks.

Our Professor is author Sophie McManus.  We have a discussion and are given various texts to read.

Each week our assignment is a Prompt.  Although this is the shortest class, I currently find it to be the hardest to write for.  Her Prompt was very difficult and not like anything I’ve done before.

And of course there is our Workshop. This one has both the Fiction and the Creative Non Fiction people working together.  The professor is Steven Hobbs.  The weekly assignments consist of writing settings or character profiles.  We do some in class reading as well. 

I was told that there would be a lot of writing.  Other Master’s program encompass readings, writings and exams.  The MFA in Creative Writing is all about writing. We learn by doing.



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Writers Read

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  – Stephen King

When I was a kid, I loved to read.  I did this without hesitation until I turned 13, then I discovered boys.  This was coupled by the awfufaulknerl books we were assigned in school.  

I didn’t pick up a book of my own choosing again until I was 19. Then marriage and kids came along and reading took a back seat, although I managed to get a few books in.  I’ve always enjoyed reading (except during the lost years).

It has been said by many authors that in order to write well, one must read a lot and read broadly.  I don’t think some people understand this.

I’ve had conversations with people who want to write but have only read 1 or 2 books in a year.  For the average person, that is fine, but it is not fine for a writer. Writers must constantly read. Books, Magazines, Journals, and anything well written.

They should read Romance, Thrillers, Non-Fiction, Westerns…and so forth.

We all get into our reading ruts though.  I am glad that my MFA program is requiring books that I would not have picked for myself.  It seems even during my undergrad years I was stretching my reading muscle.  I read both Ulysses by James Joyce and In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.  Two books I would have never picked up on my own.

Neil G.jpgI was excited to get the book list for this semester.  On it were eight novels, none of which I have read.  It seems others were dismayed by the amount of books.  The semester is around 14 weeks long, so we should get through one book every 6 days or so. These books are no more than 250 pages each, I don’t see the problem…

I don’t see the problem for a writer

I guess this is what separates the serious folk from those who are not. Let is see who is standing at the end of it.

Writing is hard work. Many people don’t realize how hard it is to write well.


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MFA Pre-Report #3


This will be the last pre-report. All subsequent reports will be me, in the midst of the MFA experience.


I went to the Graduate School Orientation. I am alum, so it was redundant to me. I learned very little in the way of new information, but I did get to meet a few of my fellow MFA students.

A few come from oversees, from places like: Mumbai, China and Australia. Then there were the local folks. The group is very diverse but seem like this is something they WANT. In contrast to my undergrad classes where many people were just after that piece of paper, but they had no passion.

Most of us sat at one table with Professor Hobbs. We must have stuck out like a bunch of sore thumbs, because the speakers seemed to know that we were MFA students. One actually said, “The MFA group back there.” Huh? Is there a stamp on my head?

The speakers also kept reiterating how hard Graduate School is. I’ve heard this, but I’m not daunted by it. I just have no experience to base the difficulty on. Is the difficulty relevant to the person or the subject, or is it hard for everyone equally?

Both my aunt and my cousins told me it is difficult. But they did not go for their MFA’s, so I’m not sure if the degree of difficulty will be the same.

I didn’t find undergrad difficult at all. Trust me, I’m no genius.


fdetroylecturemoliereMFA Party

One of the professors had a party for all of the MFA students.

Some of the same students that attended the orientation were there and a few ones that didn’t.

I have never been to a party with people who liked to talk about books and writing. I felt so grown up.

It was nice to be in a place where when you talked about someone like Karl Ove Knausgård, people actually knew who I was referring to…and his works.

It was low key, lots of conversation, no heavy bass or loud obnoxious music.  Ahh I could get used to that.





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