The 2015 Reading List

I am a writer and a bookworm! If you’re like me, you practically grew up in the library. If you love books, check out my reading list for 2015 here: Darlene’s 2015 Reading List. It will be updated throughout the year.


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The First Semester of Grad School, or Winter 2014 Update

I finished my first semester of grad school at Goddard College earlier this month. It was like climbing a switchback up a mountain–full of light and darkness and air and rain. While I can’t include everything I have done this semester, I would like to share a few of the tips and readings. For this semester, I finished the following:

  • Fifteen annotations (read a book, write a few pages about the craft or art the author worked in the book)
  • Two short papers
  • One hundred pages of creative work
  • Attended the Write on the Sound Conference*
  • Finished a NaNoWriMo novel*
  • Attended four writing intensive weekends*

* the last there were my own inclusions–I wanted to do a few fun things to make my writing adventure amazing. One of my favorite moments was meeting Robert Sawyer at the Write on the Sound Conference in October.

Now, in the process of reading and writing, I have learned more by absorbing the works and ideas of the writers who have come before me. I have found a few helpful tips on the way.

  • 2,000 words per day, every day, so help you Muse (Stephen King recommends this and his muse is a basement-dweller. I think my muse is a mountain-top castle dweller).
  • Write in the active voice.
  • Keep your tenses straight—don’t slip into past when writing in the present, etc. (We all do it, so make sure you’re scheduling editing time to fix it).
  • Write for clarity of message. I struggled with this one. It means when you have a picture in your head, you need to be as specific in detail and as comprehensive as the picture in order to translate it from your brain through your fingers and into the minds of others. Really, it’s a form of telepathy (credit, Stephen King). So get to transcribing what you see and don’t hold back in first drafts—edit later.

Below, you’ll see some of the books I read over the last year. You can’t really compare books because it’s like comparing people–each have their own special attributes and faults. But I can say that my favorite book of the year was Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve. Check it out.

Write on.



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Recommended Reading Part 1

Happy Holidays! It’s been quiet on here recently and for good reason. I’ve been writing and reading, which, according to Stephen King and my advisors, are the keys necessary to good writing. I believe all writers have a love of reading deep in the heart. With that in mind, I’m sharing my favorite books I read in 2014. If you’re looking for a good book to read or give as a gift, these are great ones. Just a note: they link to Goodreads descriptions; if you don’t have an account already, I highly you recommend it! I love being able to store my books there and talk with other readers and writers!

The best books I read in 2014:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a rollicking sci-fi ride that will take you back to the future…and into the heart of the 1970s. Check it out.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem is both shocking and delicious! Check out this detective story with a twist.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Why I haven’t read this book before is the question, but it’s awesome! Go check it out and then find a pattern for the socks and knit them; I did.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. She is one of my heroes, and not just because her father was one of the Fathers of Anthropology. This is an amazing read with foreign cultures and treks across snow-clad crevices.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. No, I didn’t watch the movie before I saw the book. I recorded the movie and then read the book and watched the book the same day. And yes, it is amazing. But the book is better than the movie, so do yourself a favor and read it.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I see a theme here, but it and Cloud Atlas were not connected in my mind as movies. I read this because it was mentioned at the Goddard Residency I went to this fall; the lady who recommended it was right, the book was fabulous and very in-your-face. It made me want to hike more.

On Writing by Stephen King. Just read it. And when you come to the booklist, go ahead and compare yours to his. I did.

The Legend of Banzai Maguire by Susan Grant. Susan Grant is a delicious treat and one of my favorite science fiction romance writers. I want more. Lots more.

Bomb: The race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon Steve Sheinkin is a thrill ride and then some! There are many dimensions to the story and before I read it, I only had a quarter of the story. This was wonderful.

Chains Laurie Halse Anderson is amazing. It’s a totally different take on a historical setting that is underrepresented right now. Plus it was from a unique point of view.

The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy. Just read it.

The Morcai Batallion by Diana Palmer/Susan Kyle. This one confused me at first, because the first book is under Diana Palmer’s name, then she switched to Susan Kyle. But go ahead and read all of them, you can thank me later.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Confession: I love this writer and met her while studying at Pacific Lutheran University; she is wonderful and fun and so are her books. Go read them!

Down in the Bottom of the Bottom of the Box by Jon Arno Lawson was a treat. This is poetry, but not just for children–it’s for anyone with a really good imagination.

Divergent by Veronica Roth. Yes, there’s a movie. No, it’s nowhere near the book. Go read it and then decide if you want to read the next two; I think the first one is the best one.

The best book I read this year was Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya. I wrote a whole paper about why it’s the best book ever, so I won’t go into the fifteen-page details, but I will tell you this is one of the best books I’ve ever read with the most unique main character ever. And I’ve never said that about a book or character before, so that’s saying something.

I’ll be adding an update later in the month with how my first semester at Grad school went, NaNoWriMo, and update on the Divantinum Series, and more tools to help writers. This blog will be updated at the start of the new year, but I want to make sure you know my focus is and always will be writing and fiction.

Happy reading and happy writing!






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Update on the Writing Life

Hello! I have a fabulous update for you from my writing chair. My shiny Bachelor of Arts degree from Pacific Lutheran University came in the mail last week. I am so excited about that. I’ll be starting at Goddard College in July for my M. F. A. in Creative Writing.

I have updated my Resume, so please take a look.

I’m working hard on the Divantinum Trilogy. This project began in NaNoWriMo 2009. I love the characters and the world and hope you do too!

If you haven’t already, check my Facebook page out. And connect with me on Goodreads – I love sharing good books and finding others!

Write on,



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Great News! June Update 2014

Hello from Washington state! I hope everyone is having a great spring and is gearing up for a wonderful summer. I have great news – in May, I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with my B. A. in Anthropology and minor’s in Creative Writing. I graduated Cum Laude. 


Above is a picture of me and my mom, Ulli Wagner, at the commencement ceremony at the Tacoma Dome. (Did you know that the Tacoma Dome is one of the biggest wooden structures in North America? How cool is that?) 

I am also excited to announce that I’ll be attending Goddard College in Port Townsend for my M.F.A. in Creative Writing starting in July! 

This is a great transition for me and one of the steps I laid out in my writing plan in 2001. I’m happy to say that I’m progressing nicely with the game plan!

I’m working hard on my Science Fiction trilogy Divantinum, and will be taking it with me to Goddard as my MFA project.  

I also want all of my clients to know that Reilley Writes is back in action and open for projects! 

Thank you so much for all the support–your letters and kind words have meant the world to me. 

Write on!



Reilley Writes




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Update 2014



Hello!  I hope you all are having a fabulous start to the new year.  I am.  As many of you know, I’ve been steadily accumulating a massive pile of knowledge to apply to my writing.  I’m taking even more classes this Spring and should graduate with an B.A. in Anthropology with minor in Creative Writing this Summer.  I’ve also made the decision to go for my Ph.D. in Archaeology!

This is going to be amazing for my writing!  I’ll be focusing on non-fiction and fiction.  So…be prepared for a bit of change.  I love archaeology and writing.  And this way I’ll be able to marry the fields!

I’ll be writing while I’m gone for a field experience, but the internet connection is spotty.  I’ll post an update when I have details on the blog we will be doing from there–so keep an eye out! Also, stay tuned for more updates after I return from my field experience!


Write on,




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Got Plot Bunny? Knit one now!

Writing Plot Bunnies

Plot Bunnies

My Writer friends have asked me how I made the Writer’s Plot Bunnies for National Novel Writing Month. Make a writing bunny for  your favorite writer here!

I’ve been told you can crochet a square as well, just follow the same dimensions!

Plot Bunny Knitting Instructions 4.0 (2)

Write on!



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