A Reading Challenge

Hello again!!

What a year 2016 was, and I’m SO glad it’s over. I’ve been quite absent on the blogosphere, but never fear! That was mostly due to many health issues that plagued me over the year and the corresponding depressive/anxious states that occurred alongside them.

I’m truly hoping to return to a more active presence here this year. Starting with…

A reading challenge! Created by one of my fellow bloggy/writing friends, John Guillen.

I did his reading challenge last year, as well, and I think this one will be even better! Last year I completed the challenge just by the sheer number of books I read (313), but this year, I’m planning it out a little more, so I have one book for every challenge listed.

I hope you partake! And go visit John’s blog ASAP! He always has something interesting to say about reading and writing and books. I’ve been a follower for years.

Happy 2017 everyone!

In 2016 I hosted my very own reading challenge for the first time. Of course I didn’t even complete it myself. So now I’m upping the stakes! Last year’s challenge included 20 books. This year’s includes 25. Branch out and read along with me as 2017 unfolds and I continue to diversify my habits. Take […]

via 2017 Reading Challenge Announcement! — Johnny Reads

Blogging Slump

That’s right. I admit it.

I’ve been in a blogging slump. I just haven’t felt like blogging lately, but I’m totally okay with that. I do miss my bloggy buddies as most of you are the reason d’être that I started branching out into reading and writing other things.

But I’ve been focused on writing, reading, more reading, tons more writing, and a little sleeping/working knocked in there somewhere.

On top of that, this week is my last week at my current contract before I head to Maine for the spring/summer.

I’m too stressed right now to be 100% excited because I have so much to do before then, plus I’ve been dealing with some medical issues lately–the last three months, really–but haven’t mentioned it to anybody until last week. And the docs don’t know what it is. So. Yay.


A quick update on my life: I’m 60-some books into my 115 book goal for the year, reading-wise, but that doesn’t include books I’ve already re-read since the beginning of the year. If I did, that number would be in the high 70s.

I did a complete 100k rewrite in six weeks and I won a couple auctions through a literary agency and am getting feedback on my query letter, first 10 pages, and first 50 pages, from three different agents. Squee!! I’m most excited about that. How often do you get that opportunity?!?!?!!


What’s going on in your lives, my bloggy pals? I’ll update with more pictures and try to get back on the blogging bandwagon, especially since I signed up for Camp NaNo in April to help me finish the second book in my MG fantasy series.

Hugs and happy writing/reading to all!


“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
“A normal reader reads to enjoy, a writer is in training”
― Bangambiki HabyarimanaThe Great Pearl of Wisdom

“You must write as if each word is a precious drop of blood, or a tear to be saved in a glass phial.”
― Chloe ThurlowKatie in Love

#PitMad Novice

Yesterday I participated in my first #PitMad, which is basically a pitch party on Twitter for your book. You pitch it in the 140 characters or less with that hashtag and pray that some agent trolling the feed will favorite your pitch or contact you about submitting a query letter and sample pages.

I was not one of those few yesterday. But it was a great learning experience.

I learned that crafting decent pitches it stinkin’ hard! Maybe even harder than query letters!

I had the amazing advice of one of my writing buddies, who is always so helpful, but I still felt like the pitches lacked punch.

Something that gave me hope, however, is an agent who said that not all books are pitchable in under 140 characters.

Emily, my writing buddy, would have to vouch for this, but I think that my book/series is one such case. It’s a massive undertaking with the basic good vs. evil type deal, but so complex in its intricacies and history that it was hard to narrow down what was really important.

I’ll keep trying to pitch in the future, but I think querying might be the way to go for me. Though I ABHOR querying, I’m able to spend about two paragraphs pitching my book instead of two sentences.

Anyone else tried pitching on Twitter? What was your experience?

Happy writing!


“As a book author, it’s your responsibility to cast a vision for your book about the length and appearance before you pitch the idea to a publisher.”
― W. Terry WhalinBook Proposals That Sell: 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success


“Publishing is a business and writing is an art. The two have to be crammed together despite the clearly different motivations behind them.”
― Michelle M. Pillow

The Plunge

I did it. Yes, I did.

I took the Twitter plunge. You should now be able to find my Twitter “rants” on this website, but feel free to follow me on Twitter!

My handle is akdoepker. Basically, it gives away my real name, but I’m okay with that. I intend to publish under my own, so it isn’t some secret anymore.

I fought this for years, and I’m still not very happy about it, but I hope it will be a fruitful and fun exercise.

What’s your Twitter handle? I’d love to follow my bloggy friends! And don’t get too fed up with me too quickly. I’m going to be a Twitter noob for a while.

Happy writing!

“Twitter—up to the minute minute details.”
― Jarod KintzThis Book is Not FOR SALE

3 Quotes, 3 Days… Day Three!

For my third and final 3 Quotes, 3 Days challenge, it will take even more thinking and probing the depths of my memory to bring you a quote that I adore from my readings.

I believe I will choose a quote from the author that has most inspired me as a writer. Since I’m choosing quotes from books and since I’m a writer, it seems fitting.

But narrowing down the genius of L.M. Montgomery is a monumental undertaking.



It was hard to choose, but here it is,

“In imagination she sailed over storied seas that wash the distant shining shores of “faëry lands forlorn,” where lost Atlantis and Elysium lie, with the evening star for pilot, to the land of Heart’s Desire. And she was richer in those dreams than in realities; for things seen pass away, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of the Island

I believe this encompasses my love for all things imagined, and one of the most inspirational books for me as a writer. I adore L.M. Montgomery, and if she were still alive, I’d do almost anything to meet and talk to her.

For my last day, I’m going to tag Herminia Chow over at aspiringwriter22. She posts beautiful poems, thoughtful questions, fun trivia, and generally makes me smile on a daily basis.

There you are! My three quotes in three days. If anyone else wants to participate, feel free!!! Tag yourself and be off! I love to see other peoples’ favorite quotes.


The 777 Challenge


Ha! Do you like my joke?

My most humble thanks to Caroline Peckham for nominating me to participate in this challenge. Her blog is awesome-sauce and I comment on there all the time because of her inventive posts and faboo ideas! Go check her out!

The concept behind this challenge is to share a tidbit from a WIP. I think any WIP will do, but since I have so many of them, I thought I’d share from my most worked-on piece that is about ready to be sent to agents.

The Rules:

– Go to page 7 of any WIP

– Scroll down to line 7

– Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.

– After the excerpt tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

(Wouldn’t that make it the 7777 challenge? Meh. What do I know?)

Here’s the excerpt from my MG fantasy novel (first in a series):

Iphigenia opened her mouth, but Wilfrid clamped a hand over it. “Shut up, you two!”

The Colonel’s long-dead heart beat faster and faster. He wanted to rage at them to stop bickering when Ava was in danger!

“Ladies, please,” Gaspar said.

Iphigenia pushed Wilfrid’s hand off her mouth and scowled at Tess. She opened her mouth to speak, but the Colonel flew back down and interrupted.

I’m literally LOLing right now because this excerpt tells you absolutely nothing about the plot of the story. BAHAHA!!! You’re introduced to six characters in seven sentences. Confused yet? Hehe!! It’s much clearer in the book.

Now, I’m supposed to nominate seven others, but I’ve read many people’s WIPs and I know many of my bloggy friends have done this challenge already and I can’t keep straight whose done what, so…

I nominate everybody!!! (I’m such a rule-breaker).

I just love reading tidbits from people’s lovely and amazing creative minds, so if you have WIP with seven pages completed, let’s see a few sentences!

Happy writing, everyone!

“Turning a manuscript into a book is easy; getting the manuscript ready to become a book is hard.”
― A.P. Fuchs

“When you write a manuscript, it feels like being in a relationship with someone. You’ll hate it, get bored with it, be pissed of, like you just want to break up. But, just like any relationship, you will fall in love again and again, like you don’t want to lose it.”
― Alvi Syahrin

and so on”
― Katerina Stoykova Klemer

One Year Down…

Since I rarely pay attention to things like this, I was pleasantly surprised when I logged in to WP today and received a message saying today is my one year WP anniversary! Wow!

I knew it was some time in February last year, but I couldn’t remember when. It makes sense now, though, because I set a goal for myself to finish my book (one of the rewrites of it, anyway) by Valentine’s Day of last year. I suppose, now that I’m in yet another rewrite, it didn’t matter much when I finished that last version, but it was a goal.

I also remember that I sent out my first query letter last year around this time, and one of the places I sent it to requested a website. Ergh… I didn’t have one at the time, so I deleted my entry until I got my site up and running.

Come to find out, that was the only agency that required a website in the application. I will not say it’s been all for naught, though, because I’ve learned so much from all of you. And even just from the process of writing posts and such.

I don’t have hundreds of followers, and I’m fine with that. That wasn’t my goal when starting this blog.

I’ve shared my opinions, learned a TON, and met some pretty awesome people. Some of whom I now consider good friends. You know who you are.

So, thank you for everything you’ve taught me in the past year. Here’s hoping for many more to come!

Happy writing!

Title Options

Hello, all!

What a C-R-A-Z-Y month this has been! I’ve worked more and been busier this past month than any other month I can remember. Yeesh!

But now I’m on vacation until next week. Actually, I just returned from Florida where I went to Universal Studios and saw the AMAZING Harry Potter parks. Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures and do a separate post about that, but I had no time while there to update you all. Yes, I DID buy a wand, but you’ll have to wait until that post to find out whose it was. I don’t think any of you would expect me to buy the one I did.

Since returning yesterday from Florida, I’ve been trying to get back into my writing. Aside from blogging infrequently, I haven’t been able to write a thing the last two months because of how busy I’ve been. And it has almost brought me to tears. I wake up in the morning so inspired and energized to write, but by the time I get home from work 12 hours later, my brain is mush, and I have not the energy or wherewithal to get any writing done.

I’m hoping this week I’ll be able to get a significant chunk completed on the latest rewrite of my first book. I plan to begin sending it out again to agents at the beginning of the year. And I’ve been thinking about changing the title to the series.

You can see from the sidebar that the current series title is The Phantom Apprentice.

While that has been its title for many years, I’m wondering if something else might be better. I refer you to this post, and this one, to get an idea of what my books are about so you can help me decide if I should change my title.

Which title of the ones listed below is more entrancing, appealing, curious, etc? Could you tell me why?

I appreciate any and all suggestions and votes. It is extremely helpful to have other writers’ opinions on this. Because you’re also readers and know what readers will read. Right? 🙂

Choices for Series Titles:

1. The Phantom Apprentice

2. Secrets of the Setaparts

3. The Last Setapart

4. Tales of the Last Setapart

5. The Phantom League

Choices for Book One Titles:

1. Book of the Scribes

2. The Restoration of Ava Monaghan

Thoughts? I honestly am not a huge fan of any of them, but we’re our own worst critics, so what do I know?

Oh! Just FYI, I will be returning to my series on the Science of Injury over the next few days, after this post and the one about Harry Potter world.

Thanks for all your input! I need the help, clearly!

Happy writing!

“I thought about TimeBlaze. We should…shorten the titles. The titles are getting long. More colons than a proctologist.”
― D.C. PiersonThe Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To

“The intellectual mind judges a book after having read it.
A fool’s mind judges a book by its title.”
― Ellen J. Barrier

Absentee Blogger

Hey, folks!

Urgh!! So sorry to have been absent for such a long stretch of time. I promise I will slowly, but surely, get updated on how you’re all doing.

Phew! The past two weeks have been a stream of insanity.

I’m finally in my new apartment, but it’s a holy terror of boxes and furniture, which will make for some very busy few weeks as I and my new roommate unpack and sort everything out. Yergh!

And no, I haven’t done a stitch of writing. I haven’t had the time! For all those who have done big moves, you know how insane it is.

So, in a nutshell, I’m sort of back, but will still be busy unpacking for the next few weeks.

I can’t wait to chat with some of you again! I’ve really missed you.

Happy writing and warm hugs from an absentee blogger.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award? Moi?

The wonderful Sara has nominated me for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award!” How exciting! I was pretty shocked to get this, mostly because I’ve been a bit absent from the blogosphere the last few weeks, but I’m honored to be nominated.

Very Inspiring Blogger


If you haven’t checked out Sara’s blog, you need to. And I mean NEED. It’s pretty faboo, so go on over and say hello!

The guidelines of the award are:

1.Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.

2.List the rules and display the award.

3.Share seven facts about yourself.

4.Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated

5.Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

These are some pretty sweet (and easy!) guidelines, but I’ve also seen other versions of this award that ask you to describe three things that have inspired you recently. So I’m adding that guideline to mine, as well, because I think it’s a great idea.

6. Describe three things that have inspired you recently.


The following facts shed a little more light on who I am:

1. I’ve been in choirs since I was seven years old, and sang in Carnegie Hall with my collegiate choir. Amazing!

2. I am not a caffeine junkie. Not. I hate coffee, can barely stomach tea, get heartburn from soda, and can’t stand energy drinks. I’m usually pretty zippy without them. 

3. I don’t nap. Or I rarely do. If I’m sick or have had less than 4 hours of sleep per night for a few nights in a row, then I’ll nap. Otherwise, I sleep like a rock at night. (Another reason not to drink caffeine).

4. My mom used to call me G.G. when I was younger, short for Gentle Giant (because I’m so tall), but I was ruthless playing sports. I guess that’s where all my violence and aggression ended up. It’s still like that today. I’m a gentle, sweet person until you get me playing a sport. Then I’ll try my best to wipe the floor with you. 

5. I’m what most people call an “old soul.” I do NOT understand my generation at all. (Yes, that’s a generalization, and yes, I realize not everyone is like that. Certainly not my blogging friends, but definitely the people I’m surrounded by). Growing up, I was amazed at how rude people were, and how little work they did while getting things I could only dream of. I’m very grateful to my parents (Love you, Mom and Dad!) for having instilled in me respect for others and a hard-working attitude. I got along better with my classmates’ parents than I did with my classmates. True story. Obviously, I was quite unpopular, but I’m very grateful for that. It’s a huge part of what’s made me creative and able to empathize with others.

6. I cannot wear the color red. I’m pale as a ghost 99% of the year. Even when I get “color” in the summer, it just fades back to marshmallow white. With red undertones in my skin, I can’t wear the lovely color. And it makes me sad. 😦 All you women who can wear red, wear some for me, okay? Same goes for hats. My head is too big for them. Literally. So slap on a fedora, or a beret, or a nightcap or something and tell me all about it!

7. The camp my MC attends in my MG fantasy book is HEAVILY influenced by the camp I went to as a child, as well as the camp I worked at for kids with special needs during the summers of college. If I hadn’t worked there, I’d have taken more classes and graduated early, but this was an experience that was unbeatable. The best and hardest weeks of my life each summer. 

There are my facts! Random and fun, right?

As for three things that have inspired me recently…

1. Watching a good (and young) friend of mine battle breast cancer with an attitude that can’t be beat. I’ve never seen anyone deal so well with such a hard diagnosis. She’s upbeat and determined to whip this thing. She inspires me every day.

2. The lengths to which a friend of mine is planning my stay with her in Florida in October. I don’t get to see her that much, but knowing how much effort she’s putting into the trip and my time there makes me realize how lucky I am to have her as a friend, and it makes me want to reach out to all those friends of mine I haven’t seen or talked to in a while.

3. The beauty of an afternoon thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms in the summer. It’s such a display of power and beauty. They’re always inspiring to me. 

I know there are many more interesting and thought-provoking things happening in the world that are inspirational, and the list could go on for pages, but I’ll leave you with those three.

My nominees for this cool award are:

1. Herminia Chow at aspiringwriter22. I think I comment on pretty much every one of her posts. We get along famously!

2. Kate over at Kate’s Bookshelf. She and I have a lot in common, and it’s cool to see the similarities.

3. Emily at BumblesBooks. She’s said it to me, I think I’ve said it to her: we’re kindred spirits in this bloggy universe. Emily, have we ever disagreed about something? I can’t think of one single time! 🙂

4. Sarah J. Carlson over at sjoycarlson. Another blogging buddy whose posts always hit me right where I need to hear it. 

5. Caroline Sibley at her lovely blog. She and I agree and chat about so many cool books and ideas. I’m never disappointed when I visit her blog. Love it!


There. I’m only nominating five bloggers. There are so many others I’d nominate, but these ladies hit the top at this time. I would have included John, but I know he’s nominated for a gazillion awards, so… you’ve escaped my clutches this time, John.

I look forward to reading their random facts and continuing to be amazed by my blogging buddies.

Happy writing!