Last Tuesday was the last day of our class. Usually, I’m feeling relieved by then, but this time it was different. I met some wonderful classmates and a great teacher who really helped me. Not only that, the deadlines really disciplined me to write everyday. I was afraid that once the class ended, I wouldn’t keep up with my writing. 

It happened somewhat. I missed a couple of days of writing, and when I tried to write, I couldn’t even make a sentence. Oh, sure. I’d write a sentence. Cross it out. Rewrite it. Cross it out again. I got really frustrated because I felt like I couldn’t do it without class deadlines. Of course, I knew that I can’t depend on class deadlines for the rest of my writing life. I had to get out of my funk. 

T, I woke up at 2:00 am. After thirty minutes, I gave up. I made some coffee, took out my notebook, and started writing. By some miracle, the words just flowed right out my pen. By 7:00 am, I wrote 8 pages. I stopped because I was getting sleepy. 

I don’t know how exactly I got back on track, but at least I’m out of limbo. For now. 



I haven’t finished reading a book in a month. There. I’ve said it.

I’ve been busy lately with my online writing class at Gotham. Up until last Monday, the short story I submitted for class was in the Booth. Every week, a certain number of students gets a chance for their manuscripts critiqued by fellow classmates in the Booth. After everyone in the class gives their feedback, the teacher will critique the story. During  critique week, the student who submitted the story can’t defend their story or asks questions until everyone in class including the instructor is finished. That’s why it’s called the Booth. It’s like being in room where all  the student writer can do is listen (or, in this case, read) to the comments. Everyone in the class has a chance for their story to get critiqued by each other.

This is my third class with Gotham, and I still get nervous when my story is in the Booth. While I never received a bad comment on my story in the Booth, the waiting is the toughest part. Some comments are expected (Develop your story more. Add more descriptions, Helenita). Some comments are not. This is a good thing for me. Sometimes I’m too close to my story, and a fresh set of eyes gives a different perspective, which is greatly appreciated since I want to be a better writer.

Even though I haven’t been reading a lot lately, I really like this class. The class routine is the same: lecture, online discussions, assignments, and the Booth. So far, the only thing that’s different is that we get to read wonderful short stories by published writers and study their technique.

Another advantage on taking this class is that I’m forced to write everyday because I have deadlines. By writing everyday,  I feel like I’m improving.

The only bad thing about this class is that I’m sacrificing my reading time. I know that in order to write better, I must read frequently too. Somehow, I haven’t found the balance yet because there have been days when I just want to read, not write. Realizing this, I should try to schedule both, and that way neither is compromised.

Juggling between classes and a full-time job, it won’t be easy, but it’s still worth a shot. Whether I finish a book in two months or three, I don’t think it will make me less of a reader. Nor it will make my love for reading any less.

I don’t know about you, but the month of March really felt like it disappeared into oblivion. I mean, where the heck did it go? Did it really feel like four weeks just went by? Did it really feel like I didn’t blog for a whole month? Yesterday, I felt really guilty for not blogging, and I knew I had to start blogging again somehow.

Last month, I took a week vacation in Florida. It was exhilarating to get away from work and, well, everyone. It was a spur of the moment trip, but honestly, it was much-needed. I’m hoping to go back in the summer.

I hadn’t read a book in a month either. I did listen to two audio books last month during my trip to and from Florida. I will review Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island soon. I didn’t finish listening to The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell. I thought the plot was good, but the  main character sort of annoyed me. I’m not sure if I will continue listening to it. We shall see.

I’m taking an online writing class with Gotham Writer’s Workshop who is working with Zoetrope All Story Magazine. I think the class is amazing. I have submitted one short story to be workshopped. I have learned a lot so far in class, but it has kept me extremely busy. I love the class though. I can’t wait for the next lecture.

Well, there you have it. My excuses why I was invisible for a whole month. Hopefully, April will be better.

I’m still doing some updates. My blog is almost to a point to where I want it to be. I love how it looks so far.

I’ve added some widgets so that site navigation is easier (I hope) for my visitors. I’ve also added some blogs and sites that I visit. I will add some links as time goes by.

It’s never too late for change.

That’s exactly what I did to my blog, A Reading Collection. Since last year I wanted to do something new in the blogging world. I really couldn’t figure out what exactly it was at first. I changed my background, and while I loved the pink and brown combination created from the wonderful and talented folks of Cutest Blog on the Block, I realized that something was missing.

Yesterday while I was book blog hopping, I came upon this post by Mark David from Absorbed in Words. The post was in reference to Dolce Bellezza’s thoughts on basics of  book blogging.  When I started my blog last year in April, I was so excited to meet book lovers like me. Let’s face it. Books weren’t something that some people I knew got excited about like the latest episode of American Idol. (By the way, Mark David’s Absorbed in Words and Dolce Bellezza are two of my favorite blogs so visit them when you have the chance.) 

Going back to Dolce Bellezza and Mark, their outlook was really the same as mine: That was being true to blogging. While I have been honest when it comes to book blogging, I haven’t been honest when it comes to sharing about my love for writing. Lord Byron said, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” Amen to that.

My love for reading and writing will be the main themes of this blog so I hope that I’ll still see some of my fellow book bloggers who visited my old blog.  To those who are just visiting Haven for Thoughts for the first time, welcome.  

I moved from Blogger to Word Press. A change that I was a bit apprehensive to do but it turned out to be smooth. I’m still learning how to navigate around the dashboard, and I’m still trying to figure out how I delete the About this Site section on the navigation bar on the right. So bear with me here.  I also updated my policy  on how I rate my books so please read on that when you have the chance.

Before I go, I just want to say thank you to Mark and especially to Ms. Bellezza for opening my eyes and helping me realize how important it is to be honest to myself when it comes to blogging.

Again, welcome to my new blog. I hope you will enjoy your stay.

After recovering from laryngitis last week, I finally had the chance to turn my attention to reading my books. Yay! Only I soon found out that laryngitis or not, I really couldn’t find the interest to read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

I know. I know. Ms. Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize for this. I really don’t know what my problem is with this book. Maybe I got so bored reading all that gossiping about Madame Ellen Olenska. I am determined to finish this, however. I’m just going to set it aside for now.

I’ve moved on to The Portrait of A Young Lady by Henry James. Isabel is the type of person who tells it like it is. She makes the story interesting. So interesting that I didn’t realize that I was already on page 120 on the first night I read it.

Here’s Isable Archer from The Portrait of a Lady.

I wasn’t going to read it until December, but War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy was just calling my name one chilly Friday evening. Finally, I just said, “What the heck! It can’t hurt.” So I plucked it out from my bookshelf and started reading. I finished the first chapter, the second…and then the third… Well, you get the picture. I was so absorbed in the story that I almost didn’t take my sister’s invitation to go watch Cirque du Freak The Vampire’s Assistant. (She was paying. How can I say no?) I don’t care how long it will take me to finish War and Peace, but I do intend to enjoy every page of it.

Not only did I go Christmas shopping this Saturday, I also went book shopping. What can I say? I can never get enough books. So here’s what I bought:

The first one is I, Claudius by Robert Graves. This is Peter’s (from KyusiReader) favorite book. Just by reading from an excerpt of the book blurb below, it really caught my attention:

Despised as weakling ad dismissed as an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings that marked the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the mad Caligula to become the Emperor of Rome in 41 AD.

I love any book (fiction or non) that has anything to do with world history so this is right up my alley.

The second book shown is actually three books. They were all combined into one. It’s the first three books of Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. They are: A Living Nightmare, The Vampire’s Assistant, and Tunnels of Blood. I just watched Cirque du Freak The Vampire’s Assistant in the movies this past Friday. I was really intrigued by the storyline. It’s about this teen named Darren who decides to go to the Cirque du Freak show with his best friend Steve. There they meet Mr. Crepsley, a vampire. When Steve falls into a coma after being bitten by a spider that Darren stole from Mr. Crespley, Darren goes to the vampire for help. Of course, they only way Mr. Crepsley helps him is if Darren agrees to become his assistant. There’s more to it, but I don’t want to say too much.

Written by Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God is the life story of Janie Crawford. Janie is a black woman who is very independent. She goes through three marriages, survives poverty and challenges while trying to find herself. I’ve heard so many good reviews on this so I am excited to read this.

Finally there’s Tana French’s The Likeness. Detective Cassie Maddox investigates a murder of a young woman who turns out to be Cassie’s double. The victim’s name is Alexandra Madison, an alias that Cassie once used when she was undercover. Whew. Talk about weird. Still, weird stories are enough to get my interest.

Well, that’s it for now…until the next loot…

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