General · writing

A new brand of writer’s block

Recently, I discovered that I have absolutely no idea how to share my writing journey.

My husband says my posts are great. No one else has complained about them, but I’m not happy with them. For example, my monthly updates are copy, paste, replace old info with new info, repeat. I think the structure of the post is good, but I’m not happy with the content. With how limited my expression of my journey is.

The problem is, I can’t say too much about what I’m working on, because, in the past, telling too much about something I haven’t finished writing has killed those projects. I’m scared to death to lose the passion for what I’m writing, that when I sit down to share my progress, I freeze up.

Now, I know I don’t need to share my writing progress on my blog. I could just write in a journal or something that no one sees, but making it public keeps me honest. For example, if I’m in a writing slump or have been too busy or just haven’t written in awhile, because I’d rather be doing other things, I can easily ignore a my private journal. It can sit on my desk, gathering dust and be forgotten without consequence. That isn’t true when I start making public statements of my goals and progress. Doing this motivates me.

Also, I crave conversation. I can’t wait until this process becomes a dialogue. I want to have a back and forth in the comments so badly. xD I don’t only want to share what I’m doing, I want to hear how your writing is going. How what you read inspired your writing. What you’re struggling with and how you’re getting through it. Celebrate your accomplishments. I think that will be so much fun!

So, how do I do this? How do I talk about my writing progress without killing it?

I don’t know, honestly.

You know, I told myself I wasn’t going to make this post and just write a writing update post in an effort to fix this issue. Yet, here I am. Avoiding the issue by talking about it. *le sigh*

Oh, well. I’m going to post this. Get it out of my head. Then, maybe I can move on.

This is a strange kind of writer’s block.

How about you? Do you have trouble sharing about your writing? Are there certain things you leave out when you do share? Why do you leave out some things and not others? Let me know in the comments!

And take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon


UPDATE: 2018 Book Challenge


I’ve only read 10 books so far. I’m a slow reader and I put family, work, and writing above reading. So it’s slow going 😛 The one’s in bold are the updates.

  1. A book published this year
    1. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
  2. A book picked for you by someone else
    1. Confessions of a Numismatic Fanatic: How to Get the Most Out of Coin Collecting
  3. A book you can finish in a day
    1. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
  4. A book you’ve already read
    1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
    2. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
  5. A book borrowed from your local library
    1. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
    2. Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier
  6. A book that is a friend’s favorite
  7. A book published before you were born
  8. A book you own but have never read All three took care of this one 😛
    1. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
    2. The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
    3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  9. A book that is non fiction
    1. Confessions of a Numismatic Fanatic: How to Get the Most Out of Coin Collecting

  10. A book from your childhood
  11. A book from a bestseller list – Does this have to be THIS years bestseller list? If not…
    1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
    2. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
    3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
    4. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
    5. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
    6. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
  12. A book written in the decade you were born

2018 Book Challenge.jpg

So, technically, I’m almost done. Only 4 more slots to fill. But several of them are filled by the same book. I would like to read a unique book for each item. My next update I will try to narrow each item down to one book. That way I’ll know just what I have left to do.

How are your reading goals going?

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 😀 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 lol 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 😀 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. 😉 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. 😀

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!

Book tags

Book Tag Tuesday – Inside Out Tag


This tag is short and sweet! Everyone should do it! 🙂

The original tag is from Kristina Horner’s YouTube channel, but I found it on Sarah’s @ BookHookedNook Check them out!

Joy: Which book brings you the most joy?

I hugged this book before I set it down every time I finished reading for the day. It was such a beautiful story and it doesn’t hurt that this was a gift from my husband. ♥

Disgust: Which book grossed you out the most?

Need I say more…

Fear: The book that scared you more than anything?

I’m not easily scared by book anymore, but when I read this when I was about 12 years old and babysat a lot… It was scary as hell xD

Sadness: Which book made you cry the hardest?


I won’t say why, because spoilers… But my heart broke so hard!

Anger: Which book pissed you off? 

This book… I hated this book so much by the time I finished it. Everything about Celeana pissed me off. And there were just so many things that happened that felt cheap or like a deus ex machina or done just to keep things interesting. Having said this, I’ve read a lot more of SJM’s books and love them. Especially, her ACOTAR series. IDK. Maybe I should give this another chance. LOL

I tag

Krystin @ Here’s the Fucking Twist

Vanessa @ Through Prose Tinted Pages

Amanda @ Peaks and Pages

And anyone else reading this post!

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon



Monthly Updates · writing

Writing: Monthly update for April

It’s the first of the month, or close enough lol Time for another writing update!


Things happened. Not going to go into detail today, but I am no longer going to be publishing with Fyre and Brimstone. So, I’m taking From Stars, Come Dragons back on the road! I submitted it to 2 agents and 2 publishers. Have already been rejected by one agent. Onward!

Current WIPs:

From Stars, Come Dragons – Submitting again.


TDB – I really need to get a proper working title for this thing. If you don’t remember, this is my epic fantasy novel. I made some great progress on this in April. I wrote several thousand words and am currently over 21K. I’m not worrying about getting this done too quickly. I’m a pretty impatient person and the fact I’m not anxious about getting this done is a weird and good thing. So, I’m embracing it.

Short Stories:

April was the beginning of my short story journey! Why? Because I want to put something out there. I feel awful that I’d hyped the publication of my novel and have had to go back on that. This is my way of making up for it, and to hopefully get some feedback to improve my writing. Seriously, when I post my first short, Under the Amethyst Sky on May 15th, please please please give me your honest opinions. It’s the only way for me to improve and I so badly want to.

These shorts are not going to be professionally edited. I can’t afford that, but they will have gone through several revisions and at least two critiques. One with my husband and another with my critique partner, Lindsay. This should give you a polished product that will be fun to read!

So, for the shorts I’m actually working on…

Under the Amethyst Sky – Will probably do another revision before releasing on May 15th. If you didn’t see already, here’s the cover!Under the Amethyst Sky

I doctored, slightly, a free image I found on and used the Canva tools to add the text. Great site! Highly recommend!

Short Story 2 (for release on June 15th) – No title for this one yet, but I have started writing it! Another fantasy. TBH, most, if not all, of my stories will be fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. lol This one has witches!


Read two books in April, which means I’m still on track with my 2018 reading goal! Though, technically, I finished the second book on May 1. I’m cheating a little including it here. xD

This month I only included my Goodreads review for one of the books I read. I didn’t include the other, because it contains a lot of spoilers. I did link to my Goodreads page and you can find my review there if you wish to read a spoiler review.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads rating: 4 starsACourtofMistandFury

Goodreads profile (If anyone knows how to link directly to a review, could you please tell me? I couldn’t figure it out. Thanks!)



Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn & Grim) by Juliet Marillier

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

DreamersPoolI can’t express how much I loved this book. Sure I figured out the mystery early on, but this book is absolutely about the journey. The characters pulled me in. Grim is one of my favorite characters ever! And I love the bad guy in this. Not the typical baddie. I love this and loved Cybele’s Secret. I’m getting more of her books!!





I’m still behind on this. May should be better since I’m starting to find a groove with my writing schedule, the changes and added responsibility at my day job, and everyday family activities. Our lives are nuts! Maybe, one day, I’ll let you in on how crazy and abnormal our schedule is, but don’t have the time today. lol


Well… I think that does it. Some ups and downs. One down I would have liked to avoid, but all in all an OK month. At least writing got done, and a lot more than I had expected!

How was your April?

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon

Book tags

Book Tag Tuesday – The Book Feels Tag


So, this is a thing I’m going to try to do regularly. We’ll see lol

Taylor from Tay’s Infinite Thoughts is the creator of this tag. The only rule is to link to the person who tagged you and to the creator. I wasn’t tagged, that I know of. I saw this tag on Michelle‘s (FirstBookLove) blog and thought I’d give it a go! Make sure to click the links!

A Book/series that made you smile or laughSwolyBible.jpg

I laughed out loud several times while reading this. The really funny thing is, there’s a lot of good information in here too. It’s tongue in cheek telling you to get your life together. I loved it.

A Book/series that made you sad or want to cryCrookedKingdom.jpg

I can’t say much more, because spoilers. Oh man did I cry.

A Book/series that you lovetiramisu

I will never stop loving this series. It’s such a beautiful story with an unexpected, but completely perfect ending.

A Book/series that you didn’t particularly likeThroneofglass.jpg

I read this series until about the middle of Queen of Shadows, then couldn’t go on. The thing is, though I hated the first book, I loved book 2 and 3. I just got bored with Queen of Shadows. I really wish I liked it more.

A book/series that was made into a movie that you likedHungerGames.jpg

Ok, so, I haven’t actually read the third book yet, but so far, I think the films are a great adaptation of the books.

A book/series that was made into a movie that you didn’t likeDarkly_Dreaming_Dexter.jpg

Cheating a little here, too. For one, it’s not a movie, but I couldn’t think of a movie that fit the bill. Two, I haven’t read the books, but I have read the synopsis for all of them. Yes… Spoilers and all. xD And while I love the first 4 or 5 seasons of Dexter, I hated the last couple so much it ruined the show for me. Then, after reading what the books were about, I can tell you, they went REALLY off script, so to speak, with the show. lol

A book/series you have mixed feelings about51kirZzj7BL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

Gosh, I want to love this book so much more, but the ending left me feeling a bit off. It wasn’t bad, but IDK, it felt rushed.

A book/series you haven’t read but are totally excited aboutDanceofThieves.jpg

I’m going to the Fierce Reads book tour signing in St. Paul on May 8th for the upcoming release! Mary will be talking and signing and I can’t wait. OMG!!!

A book/series that made you angryGraceling.jpg

The end of this made me so mad. Sure, Twilight is probably not the best example of how to be in a relationship, but IMO, this one’s worse. Also, how the baddie was defeated… Really? That? So disappointing. And it sucks I can only explain any of this with massive spoilers.

A book/series you feel like you can relate toDreamerspool.jpg

I’m only about 70% of the way though this book, but it is amazing. I find every character in this book relatable. I feel often like Blackthorn, wanting to get away from responsibility to do what I want to do. Grim being misjudged for how he looks. Oran unsure of his place in the world and worried he might be wasting his life living in a dream.

Have you read any of these books? How did they make you feel?

Also, I tag everyone who reads this! Please be sure to post a link to your answers in the comments 🙂

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon


Writing & Goals: Weekly update

I got quite a bit done last week!

  1. I wrote and revised my short story to be released May 15th and am waiting on feedback from my critique partner, Lindsay.
  2. That’s right! I have a critique partner! Lindsay and I met via Twitter the beginning of this year. She’s been super supportive and she writes fantasy, too and I’m really excited to work with her. 😀
    1. Find Lindsay on Twitter and her website!
  3. I have a name for my first short story. I’ll announce it with the cover reveal on Wednesday this week! I can’t wait to show you guys!!
  4. Finally, I wrote ~3K words on TDB, my current novel WIP. I’m now over 21K for total word count!

On a scale of Not to Awesome, last week was

Hmm… That scale is a bit ambiguous. lol Oh, well.

Oh! And we went to the zoo! The baby giraffes played so hard. They were running all over. And, wow, are they light on their feet for such large, gangly animals.

Hope you all had a great week! And if not, I wish a better week to come ♥

Take care!

Ann Marie Swaim icon


Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

If you didn’t see my last post [here,] I’ll give you a quick recap.

Starting in May, I plan to post a short story on the fifteenth of every month! I’m excited and a little nervous about this, but I think it will be good for me. A great way to keep me moving and hopefully improve my writing skills.

As soon as I can, I’ll reveal the title of the upcoming story. I also want to give each story a cover. So, not long after I reveal the title, I’ll reveal the cover.

Set your calendars! May 15, 2018 I’ll release the first short story on my blog!

Since I’ve been focusing on my short all week, I haven’t gotten any more writing done on my other WIPs. But that’s OK. I wrote a little over 1K words on my short story and started editing it!

This week, my goal is to finish editing my short, title it, and create the cover art. Once that’s done, I’ll jump back into writing on my epic fantasy, TDB, and brainstorm another short story idea.

WOO! So much to do!

How was your week? What are your goals?

Thanks for reading!

Ann Marie Swaim icon


Writing & Goals: Weekly Update

Had a pretty good week. Or weekend, actually LOL

I’m having difficulties carving out time to write on weekdays, due to work stress and being busy with other things, but Saturday and Sunday were great! I wrote over 3K words between them.

Again, all my words were for my new WIP. Still no title. Just, TDB. But I have been brainstorming different titles. Nothing’s grabbed me yet and made me think, YES! THAT ONE! I’ll keep on it though.

I finished what could be considered act 1 and am solidly into act 2. We know what the antagonist and protagonist want and the protag has started her journey to defeat the antag. And yes, there will be training and all that good stuff.

Actually, this story is going to have a lot of familiar tropes, but that’s what I love to read and that’s what I felt like writing this time. From Stars, Come Dragons was what I wanted to read and write at the time, too, but it does not have many familiar tropes. At least, I don’t think it does. lol It’s certainly not the dragon tale you’re used to.

Anyway, I’d love to answer any questions, if you have them. I’m always up for a chat. 🙂

Take care!