General · Reading

My hate to love relationship with books

I’m a slow reader. If I could devote all my free time to reading I could probably get through 4 books a month, but 2 is more realistic. Thing is, that’s speed reading compared to what I used to read. When I couldn’t read even 1 book in a year… Or a decade.

It bothered me a lot. I felt there wasn’t a point to me reading, because it took me so long to get through a book. Which slowed me down even more, because I’d set a book down, frustrated by how slowly I was reading and that I kept falling asleep (not because I was bored, but because the physical act of reading put me to sleep) that by the time I got to the end I’d forgotten the beginning.

This, on top of many school/teacher related discouragements about WHAT I liked to read (“Fantasy isn’t real literature”) drove me to the conclusion that I wasn’t meant to be a reader, because I didn’t read the “right” books, reading put me to sleep, and I was way too slow.

My husband tried for a long time to help me get past these terrible thoughts, but I’d already decided I was a lost cause.

Until about 2 1/2 years ago, when I decided I wanted to write a novel (which is a whole story in and of itself I will tell sometime,) and I knew, if I wanted to be a writer, I needed to read. (It can’t be a coincidence that I gave up reading and writing at about the same time…)

It was not easy. All the problems I had were still problems. The worst of them being falling asleep, no matter where I was, after no more than a page or two.

So, how did I fix this? I trained. Yes… Just like an athlete training their muscles to run further or jump higher, I trained my brain to read longer.

Everyday, or every chance I got, I sat down with my book (not in bed, since we all know that triggers the brain into sleep mode) and read just to the point I felt I might fall asleep. But never to the point I DID fall asleep. Then I put the book down and did other things.

It was difficult to do this and be OK with it. I worried I’d fall back into the old habit of getting frustrated I wasn’t reading fast enough, put the book down and never pick it up again. I think what made a difference though, was immersing myself not only in reading, but in writing. I was brainstorming, outlining, and started my first rough draft. I also discovered BookTube and Brandon Sanderson’s BYU lectures. I wasn’t just reading, I was neck deep in the bookish world and it kept me going.

After a few days, I was reading a few more sentences. A couple weeks went by and I was reading several pages. After a couple of months, I was reading multiple chapters in one sitting.

It worked!

And now, I fall asleep reading, but only because I stay up way too late to read just one more chapter.

The thing is, I’m still a slow reader, compared to many long lived readers, and I don’t think that will ever change. But now, I don’t want it to. All I ever wanted was to enjoy reading. I do now! Reading a book I love, slowly means I have more time with it and I love that!

I don’t know. This was on my mind, so I thought I’d share.

How about you? Have you always been a reader or did it take time to fall in love with books?

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

General · Reading

My time at the Fierce Reads Author Event

tiramisuThat was the most fun I’ve had in a long time ๐Ÿ˜€ Not only did I get to meet my favorite author, Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles) but I also got to meet three other amazing authors I need to read!!


Here’s how the evening went.

We live in Iowa, so it all started with a 3 hour drive. We were in no hurry since the event didn’t start until 6:30pm, so we made a pit stop for lunch. BTW, if you’re ever in Albert Lea, MN and want some delicious Authentic Mexican food, really fast, go to The Taco King!

With our bellies full we continued north to our hotel, which was a lot further from the venue than I thought. WHOOPS! Good thing we got there early!

Now, my husband wasn’t all that interested in going to panel and didn’t want to take a seat from someone else who paid to be there, (the event was free, but you had to buy a ticket to get in the signing line) so he was going to stay at the hotel while I was gone.

Except, I’m a wuss and didn’t want to get lost driving myself or take an Uber.

Can I just say, I have the most amazing husband in the world? Because I do. He went to the event with me, and sat in the car for three hours, because I had no idea how long it would be and he didn’t want to leave me stranded by leaving me there and being too far away when it ended.

On to the main event!

DanceofThievesI got to Red Balloon bookstore about 45 minutes early, which meant I got to sit right up front! See the little red bag? That has an ARC copy of Dance of Thieves in it! And those are my toes in the bottom of the frame lolย So close xD



To be honest, it wouldn’t matter if I wrote this post while it was happening, now, or years from now, I wouldn’t be able to tell you everything that was asked and how it was answered. This was my first bookish event and I just wanted to experience it, not worry about documenting it. That why I only have 2 photos of the actual event.

I can tell you, the panel was amazing. We got to hear from Mary E. Pearson about her upcoming release, Dance of Thieves. Maureen Goo about her new release, The Way You Make Me Feel. Taran Matharu about the prequel release to his Summoner series, The Outcast. And Tricia Levenseller about her sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen, the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate Queen.

All the questions were great and the authors were well spoken and had great, and witty answers. Especially, Tricia. She’s hilarious! If you ever get a chance to see her in person, do it!

But the most memorable moment from the panel, for me, was when Mary was referencing the world map for The Remnant Chronicles and she didn’t have it since ARC copies are incomplete. So, I, thinking quickly, pulled out my copy of The Kiss of Deception and handed it to her. This was cool, but what really made the act worth while was, after the panel, there was a tap on my shoulder and when I turned around Mary was there thanking me for letting her use my book ๐Ÿ˜€ I wanted to FANGIRL, but I held it together and we chatted for a couple of minutes about nothing really until the stage was ready for the signing to begin. They say, never meet your heroes, but when they’re like Mary, go for it!

It was time to line up, and can I just say, the number placeholder system for these events is brilliant! I was number 18 and after the panel, I found my place in line and was able to use the restroom without the fear of losing my place in line! Love it!

Fierce Reads Autor signingThe people in line were super nice, too. Made the wait a little shorter chatting with those around me. But when I got to the table, I felt bad I’d ran out of money and didn’t have a book for Tricia and Taran to sign. I bought Maureen’s book when I got there, because I don’t have enough YA contemporary in my library and a story about a food truck?! Umm… YES!



Fierce Reads bagIt was cool though. While she signed my tote bag, Tricia and I chatted about Black Sails, which everyone’s been telling her she needs to watch, you know, because pirates, but she hasn’t gotten to yet. lol



The Way You Make Me FeelThen it was my turn with Maureen, who was so sweet to listen to me prattle on about my book while the line was backed up. To be fair, she asked for it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I mentioned I was really excited to read her book, about a Korean American girl and family and that I had a character in my book inspired by my Vietnamese American friend. I hadn’t expected to offer anymore, but she kept asking me questions and I basically pitched my book to her. xD Which was the first time I’ve ever had to tell a complete stranger, in person, about my book. Thank you, Maureen! It was invaluable experience.

Next up was Taran, who was very quiet, but still took the time to sign my tote bag. Fortunately, the line moved quickly and it didn’t become awkward standing there xD

The Remnants Chronicles signaturesFinally, I lay my pile of books on the table in front of Mary. There was a question during the Q&A, if the authors had ever met their heroes. Tricia had a story about blurting out that the first thing she said to her hero was, “Your book spoke to my soul!” She was mortified. Funny thing is, this was almost exactly what I wanted to tell Mary about The Kiss of Deception. But not exactly. So I used Tricia’s experience to ease into my experience with Mary’s book.

This was the story I told, but probably not so well…

I read The Kiss of Deception months after I started taking writing seriously. I had a lot of baggage in the form of rules for writing I was trying to shake. How long should a chapter be? What are the rules for switching POV? Basically, what are the acceptable ways to write a book? And there are plenty of people out there with answers, but I wasn’t satisfied with any of them, because they didn’t fit the story I wanted to tell. So, did that mean I couldn’t tell my stories?

The Kiss of Deception signatureThen along came Mary E. Pearson…

Here she was already breaking the rules by writing a book from 3 different POVs, all from first person. Which I had been told was a no-no. But she did it brilliantly! I was never lost and I loved being in all the character’s heads.

But it wasn’t until I turned the page to chapter 65 that all my questions were answered. Mary included one chapter, and only one, from a small, secondary character’s POV and it was less than 3 pages long.

That’s when I knew, unequivocally, the rules meant jack squat as long as you wrote a good book.

It was odd telling her this story, but she seemed genuinely glad to hear it. She told me she had worried about that chapter. Worried it would break the flow and people would hate it. She thanked me for telling her how it impacted me and that it made her feel better to know that she made the right choice for at least one person. ๐Ÿ˜€

And that was it! I exited the line, thanked the store owner for hosting the event and relieved my poor husband of staring at the church parking lot for 3 hours. xD

This was an amazing experience. I’m so glad I went, even though this isn’t the kind of thing I would normally do, and I can’t wait to do it again!


Monday Motivation

My motivation today: when the work day ends, I’m on vacation until next Monday!

Not that I’m going to be relaxing much, but a lot of fun will be had when it’s over. And, hopefully, a lot of writing!

Tonight, we’re taking our son to his first 4-H meeting. Just a meet and greet, but he’s pumped!

Tuesday’s just going to be busy while I ride along with my husband on his regular Tuesday duties.

Wednesday is going to be the best day! We’re going to St. Paul, MN for the Fierce Reads event. Mary E. Pearson and a few other authors will be there for a panel and signing! I’m so excited to get my copies of The Remnant Chronicles and an insert for Dance of Thieves (August release) signed!

We’ll come home on Thursday. After that, I hope to spend a lot of time writing!

What this week promises, certainly has me motivated!

What about you? What’s your Monday Motivation?

Ann Marie Swaim icon


General · writing

Writing, Goals, & Question: Weekly Update – Is my WIP Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, or both?

OMG! Such a great writing week! I wrote around 7K words and expect to write at least that much this week ๐Ÿ™‚

I wrote on my new WIP. Which, so far, only has an abbreviation, TDB. In my last monthly update, I let you know it was an epic high fantasy. I’ve always been a little confused about how epic and high fantasy are different, so I poked around the internet for a bit and found these two definitions pretty well sum up the vast majority of the opinions I found.

Epic Fantasy:

*Generally tales of a young nobody, thrown unexpectedly into a massive “Good vs. Evil” struggle, where he must learn to uncover his own latent heroism to save the day. Often also includes a “grail-finding” quest – regardless of whether the ‘grail’ is an icon, a person, a magical talisman or any other form of symbolic token.

High Fantasy:

*The type of fantasy that most people expect when they regard ‘fantasy’ as a genre. Includes lords and ladies, medieval styles and settings, kingdoms and castles, and dragons and knights. High fantasy, while generally rooted in classical mythology and medieval European legends, focuses its themes on Good versus Evil. Sometimes called “Epic fantasy”. Often plotted to encompass three or more books.

*I found similar definitions in many places, but decided to use this specific definition from this source

TDB fits pretty darn well into the Epic catagory. Actually, I think I check every box in that definition at one point or another.

But now I’m going back and forth on whether or not it’s High fantasy. TDB has a medieval style, though it’s not a classical medieval setting. I have a kingdom, but my royals live in a palace not a castle. Yet, there are fortified cities throughout the land. There are plenty of creatures lurking in the dark and some in the light, but none of them are dragons. And there are armies with ranked soldiers and such, but not specifically knights.

Right after I started seriously writing again, I watched Brandon Sanderson’s BYU writing lectures on YouTube. I think one of his students asked his take on the differences between these sub-genres or maybe he just mentioned in passing, that he considered anything not of Earth, and specifically with “alien” races to be high fantasy. If I take that alone as the definition, then TDB is high fantasy.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the subject. What do you think the difference between these sub-genres are? Do you even care? Does this definition affect whether you pick a book up or not? Tell me all the things ๐Ÿ˜›

Take care!


General · writing

In lieu of a weekly update…

I got some writing done last week, but there’s nothing more than that to report. And since I didn’t want to go without posting, because I like to share with you all and get your feedback and stuff, I thought I’d do something a little different.

Here’s an aesthetic I made for my main character, Henry Roy. He’s a bit of neat freak, but mostly because his mom is a borderline hoarder and he can’t stand it. Which is probably why he prefers to spend so much time outdoors doing things like fly fishing, bird watching, and snowmobiling.


*These are not my photos. They were all found through Pinterest.

I can’t wait until the release of From Stars, Come Dragons. For Henry to share his story with you all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hopefully I have more to share next week.

Take care, everybody!

General · writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

Seriously considered skipping this update. I was so unproductive last week.

Please, someone, make me do things!

I blame the weather. It was spring for a couple days. We even went disc golfing, it was so nice. Then… winter came back. We got several inches of snow and it killed my motivation to do anything. Winter needs to end. I want to start my spring routines. I want to be able to make plans and not have to account for the possibility of snow.

So, not sure how much writing I’ll get done this week. I have Good Friday off of work and we’re spending the weekend with family. If the weather’s nice, we’ll go disc golfing. There are some great courses in our hometown.

Those are the plans, as long as it doesn’t snow. Do you have plans for the holiday/weekend?

General · writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

Last week is hardly worthy of an update. There was just so much life stress this week, writing took a back seat.

We had a scare with our car. The engine light came on and when we had it checked out, the shop claimed we needed a $2000 repair. After a night of WTF are we going to do, we called another garage for a second opinion and they told us it wasn’t a necessary repair. The car will run another 100K miles and at worst, lose a couple MPG along the way. Hopefully they’re right and that will give us time to save up for a new car.

If you’ve been following along, you know my father in law fell and broke his back, among other things, about a month ago. How that happened, he was messing with his security cameras in his storage unit facility after a break in. Well, we went down to visit him this weekend and while we were there, there was another break in. So, all day Sunday, my husband and mother in law spent the day boarding up windows and chaining doors and dealing with the police.

Before all of this happened, I wrote about 800 words on book 2 of The Seven Stars Series. Nothing since. I’m hoping this week will calm down and I can get more done. I’m so ready to be done with this first draft! It’s never taken me more than about 6-7 weeks to complete a first draft and I think I’m going on 9 weeks. I know. I know. It’s not that bad, but I have NO patience.tumblr_inline_n9s7jbmirh1rxc9kj.gif

Anyway, how was your week? Did you get accomplish your goals?



Please, I’d love your input!

After From Stars, Come Dragons is published, events and meeting people are going to be a thing. That’s why I spent the morning designing my business card.

This will be my general purpose card. Just who I am, what I do, and where to find me.

The logo is all mine. It’s how I start my signature. I used my Wacom tablet and Sai software to draw it. Then I uploaded the images to ๐Ÿ™‚

I love simple. And I’m not sure I could have done something much simpler than this. LOLbc.png


I haven’t ordered them yet, because I’d love to get your feedback. What do you think? Is there information you think I should add or take away or change?

Keep in mind, I’ll also be making a hype card for my debut, so there’s no need to put specific book information on this.

Thanks for you input!

See ya in the comments!

General · writing

Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

The most important thing I accomplished last week was finishing my revisions of From Stars, Come Dragons and returning them to my editor!

I started writing on Book 2 again, but didn’t write as much as I should have. Just a little over 1K words. I suppose though, since I didn’t have a writing goal for last week,ย  I knocked it out of the park ๐Ÿ˜›

This week, I’m writing. I’m going back to my 8K word goal.

My struggle is rewriting a scene I’d already written, because the original is from the wrong POV now. As soon as I get through that, I’ll be well on my way ๐Ÿ™‚

What are your goals this week?

General · writing

It’s complicated…

Whatโ€™s your biggest inspiration that led you to writing?

So, Kenneth Howard, a dear friend, asked this question on my Ask Me Anything page and I answered.

The things is, it’s more complicated. It’s 100% true, but there are more layers.

Here’s my original answer to Kenneth’s question:
Biggest, is definitely my husband. When I came to him and told him I wanted to try writing again, but I was scared of the time and energy it would take. Scared of losing myself in yet another time consuming endeavor, he cheered me on. He reminded me that weโ€™re in this together and whenever I get discouraged, heโ€™s there to pick me up and keep me going. I wouldn’t and couldnโ€™t do this without him โค

Again? You mean you wrote before and stopped? What happened?

220px-RadiolandposterWhen I was kid, I wrote all the time. Mostly on yellow legal pads and mostly about balloons for some reason. Once, pretty sure I was in grade school, but it might have been in junior high, I wrote a murder mystery about a live radio show, where the actors were being killed off during the broadcast. Now, to be honest, I’m pretty sure I just ripped off Radioland Murders (1994). But if you were to ask my memory and not my common sense, my memory would tell you, I wrote my story before the movie came out and they ripped me off, because I swear I remember being inspired by Phantom of the Opera and my story wasn’t a comedy. But I’ll never know, because I have a terrible memory, and that notebook is long gone. Not that there would have been a date on it. Still wish I had it.

Anyway… Why did I stop writing? The short answer, school. I’ve always been a slow reader and when I was in grade school, it mattered. I can’t remember the program, but it used breeds of birds to split the class up into groups by how well you could read. I never could get out of the bottom group, because no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t read fast AND retain what I read. Because of this, my 8 year old brain thought I wasn’t good enough and I gave up on reading and not long after, writing.

Of course, I read and wrote when I had to, for school, but it never helped. I was constantly met with a chorus of “not good enough.” One high school teacher, who I respected and confided in, that I wanted to write stories, told me my grammar and spelling wasn’t good enough and I needed to fix it if I ever wanted to make it as a writer. Whether she liked my stories or not, regardless of my technical issues, I don’t know. She only ever focused on the negative.

The desire never left me, but the voices of all the naysayers never left me either. And I thought that would always be the way. Until a pretty big, near life-ending event, showed me I can’t let what other people think about me keep me from doing what I love. And I can’t do it alone.

This is why I stopped writing, and reading, and this is why I have my incredible husband to thank for inspiring me to write. He supports me.

That’s deep. You got a lighter answer?

Sort of… As cliche as it seems, my desire to write was revitalized with a dream. But not so cliche, was that it wasn’t my dream, it was my husband’s.

One morning, in November of 2015, he woke up and told me about a crazy dream he had. I won’t go into detail just because I might still use it someday. When he finished, I told him I thought it would make a great book and he said, “write it!” Well, this wasn’t the first time we’d had this exchange. Over our, then, twelve years of marriage, I’d thought of and told him an idea would make a great book/movie, he’d say “write it!” and that was it. Or I’d develop the idea, tell him all about it and that’s where it died.

This time, in 2015, was no different. Except, I got mad about it dying. It was a cool idea and it was going to just sit in a notebook and no one was going to see it. For the first time, instead of accepting that this was how it was always going to be, I took action.

Research, self-reflection, more research. Round and round I went, until I figured it out. For me, once I tell a story, it’s told and I have no desire to tell it again.

This is where my wonderful husband comes back in. We had just been through a lot in the way of learning how to better communicate. Imagine my dismay when I realized the only way for me to write, successfully, was to not communicate my thoughts and ideas with him.

imagesBut I had nothing to worry about, because when I told him how much writing meant to me, he understood and I moved forward with my writing. And I wrote and wrote and wrote. And I will continue to write until I run out of ideas. All thanks to the support of my #1 fan. My Tebbiebear โ™ฅ