January list...

Hello, friends and happy January! I’m actually a little amazed that it’s halfway through the the month already, but here we are. Here’s a not-deep thought for the new year: the new newsletter format has me thinking it’s time for a title refresh, but I am the worst at coming up with titles. So if you make it to the end of my very long ramblings (guess I’m feeling extra chatty this month) then let’s brainstorm — give me your best ideas for a newsletter title!

What I'm reading...

I read The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern during the Christmas break. It was beautiful and mesmerizing and magical. It's about secret worlds and secret societies, books and stories, fairy tales, myths, legends and stories within stories. And if you are a fan of world building, Morganstern is an absolute wizard at setting and description. In addition to The Starless Sea, I recently finished Starsight, by Brandon Sanderson, book two in his YA sci-fi trilogy. It was just as fun, snarky, and action-packed as the first one. Last but certainly not least I re-read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid for book club. This book is short but so powerful. The story focuses on Saeed and Nadia, two young people from an unnamed city in the Middle East. They meet and form a connection in the midst of a particularly violent and unstable time in their city. At the same time, doors begin opening up all over the world, doors that let people travel from one place to somewhere across the world. It’s a simple, thoughtful story about migration, family, humanity, change, the things that draw people together and push them apart.

What I'm watching...

J and I finished the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and it didn’t disappoint. We got a lot of time with Abe and Rose, which I always love, and continued character development for Susie and Midge. I’m still amazed at how the show has managed to make Joel such a sympathetic character, and I really enjoyed his bar-in-Chinatown story line. I think The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel does a good job of acknowledging and addressing issues like racism and sexism in a way that feels really natural. Just started the third season of Anne with an E on Netflix , about which I still have complicated feelings (I am a HUGE Anne of Green Gables fan. It’s one of the few series that I consistently re-read. And in case you’re wondering, my favorite book of the series is the first one, followed by Anne’s House of Dreams, and Rilla of Ingleside). I’m finding that the further the stories get from the books, the more I enjoy it as a show in its own right. The imagining and reinterpreting of the between-the-line spaces and new characters doesn't really bother me (and sometimes I like it! It's fun addition). Even though there are a few story lines I haven't liked, the net enjoyment has remained positive. I like the way the show has interpreted some of the characters: Anne, Gilbert, Miss Stacy, Diana, Ruby, Josie, Jane; but I also very strongly dislike other characterizations: Matthew, Mrs. Lynde, Billie Andrews, Josephine Barry (not nearly grumpy enough and way too sympathetic). I'm on the fence about Marilla. All that to say...I'm still watching it, and three episodes in, so far so good on this third season (the third episode! Heartbreaking), but I'll reserve final judgement on the season until later. 

Something I'm grateful for...

The Tomball Farmer’s Market is one of my favorite weekend activities. Year-round farmer’s markets and fresh produce are a perk of living in a mild climate, and I am grateful to have a weekly market so close. I’m also grateful for the Popsicle cart so that my kids get excited about going too!

A little inspiration...

This summer I discovered the delightful and lovely Instagram account @winsomepaper and she recently posted a prayer that really stuck with me and I hope you’ll enjoy it too:

A Prayer for January

"When did I start believing that the whole of life is to be a perpetual summer? A forever daylight with no night? May we do the courageous work of sticking close to our hearts in the dark and cold too. I  can't go on believing that You just want me to spend everyday with my eyes set on spring. What do you have for us here in the cold night? Amen and Amen." ~@winsomepaper

A December list...

Hello! It's less than a week until Christmas, and while it's tempting to continue putting off a new newsletter/blog post until the January (because I love Big Official Timing), I decided I preferred an every-day-is-a-new-day approach. So here we go!

What I'm reading...

A few weeks ago I finished The Spy of Venice, by Benet Brandreth  and really enjoyed it! It's a novel that imagines what William Shakespeare might have been up to between the time his twins were born and when he shows up in London as a playwright. Perhaps he was involved in espionage in Venice??? The author is the linguist coach for the Royal Shakespeare Company, so what really shines in this novel is the setting and the language, which is Shakespearean, but more common and everyday (so more accessible). I also really enjoyed the characterization of Shakespeare and his companions. Up next is Starsight, by Brandon Sanderson (Young Adult sci-fi)  and

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern. The Starless Sea is a library book, so that's probably the one that will get priority.

What I'm watching...

A lot of my favorite shows are back! Jack Ryan season 2 , The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3, and The Crown season 3 .  The Crown has jumped ahead several years, so the actors are all re-cast, and I have to say as much as I liked the original cast, I LOVE the new cast.

What I'm listening to...

You get a bonus this month! I've got Sandra McCracken's album Christmas on repeat, and it's an absolute delight if you like acoustic guitar driven, folksy Christmas music. There's a great mix of contemplative, joyful, classic songs and originals. Love it.

I'm also really enjoying The Office Ladies Podcast. Real life best friends and former co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey are rewatching The Office and then talking behind the scenes goodness. It's so much fun! (side note - if you want a somewhat jarring experience, watch John Krasinsky in an episode or two of Jack Ryan, and then go immediately watch an episode of The Office).

What I'm grateful for...

So many things! But to name a few...upcoming travel for the holidays, four more book reviews on Amazon, and Christmas cards in the mail.

A little inspiration....

"Suddenly angels lit up the whole sky and a great choir sang it out loud...

It's time! He's come! At last! He's here!

And in the little town

in a little shed

in a little window

a candle flickered in the dark...

The animals stood around his bed. And the whole earth and all the stars and sky held its breath...

The One who made us has come to live with us!"

~ excerpt  from Song of the Stars, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Amanda Loves Words

Welcome to Amanda Loves Words by me, Amanda Waters. I'm a writer, reader, coffee addict, and the author of You Again, a second-chance romance novel. I love to talk about books, music, tv, and movies. Once a month I share what I’m reading, what I’m watching, what I’m listening to, something I’m grateful for, and a little something I’ve found that’s inspiring. Every now and then, I might send out a bonus email: a little creative writing exercise, an essay, whatever.

Special edition Tuesday list...book release edition!

Hello, friends! Today is the day, the official release date of You Again! What a strange and also exciting day. Sometimes I like burrow inside my own brain and think deep thoughts and feel deep feelings, and I'm sure you can imagine that a day like today is the ideal environment for emotional burrowing. To be honest, what I mostly feel today is thankful -- thankful for the opportunity to publish a novel. Thankful for family and friends who are so supportive and kind. Thankful for a publishing team that is patient and smart and really good at what they do. The other thing I feel today is anticipation mixed with nervousness -- about people actually reading the story I wrote, and about building and keeping momentum for my writing. I would love for You Again to be the first of many novels written, and of course I'd love for it to be the first of many novels published. So I'm trying to enjoy today with an eye for the future and big picture, paying attention to smart teachers and people who are a few steps ahead of me. And I'm trying to keep in mind the advice I've heard quite a bit this year in articles and on podcasts about writing and business: each person's journey is their own. Gather tips and advice and wisdom from those with proven experience, but filter it all through your own way of doing things, your own circumstances, personality, quirks, and needs. Go at your own pace. Do good work.

Anyway, if you're here you probably follow me on Facebook or Instagram too, but JUST IN CASE, a little reminder of book details: you can get it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. If you live in the Houston area you can get it from me at my launch party Thursday, November 7 (6-8 p.m. at Barbarossa Coffee on Louetta Rd) or really anytime. You can also buy it at book signings in Wilmington, NC and Independence, MO. For all the details, go to www.amandawatersauthor.com. If you happen to have a favorite bookstore you like to buy from, just ask them to order it!


Now. Even though that is my big news for the day, it's been a while since I posted a list of things on my radar and I think it's time, don't you?

1. What I'm reading...
I just finished The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn. The premise is that in the near(ish?) future, someone figures out time travel and send back two people to 1815 with the aim of getting copies of Jane Austen's letters to her sister and a lost manuscript called "The Watsons" that she burned most of before her death. It was fascinating, engrossing, and entertaining. I loved the author's imagining of Jane Austen and her family, and thought she did a great job depicting modern people trying to fit into Regency England. It's probably not for a Jane Austen purist, but definitely for anyone who likes historical time travel fiction. (content note: there is one short, slightly open door sex scene). I'm also re-reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan as an audio book. I wanted to have an audio book I could listen to in fits and starts or when I'm frequently interrupted, and since they've begun casting the Amazon t.v. series, I figured it was a good time for a revisit. Finally, I'm reading a fantasy review book that's taking some effort to get into, but I'm hoping it'll pick up soon if I can get some momentum.

2. What I'm listening to...
I am currently OBSESSED with the podcast Dolly Parton's Amercia. For one thing, I really enjoy Dolly Parton's music, I think she's an incredibly talented song writer, and I think she is a fascinating person, artist, and business woman. All that to say, I'm predisposed to like this podcast. Fortunately, it's also really well done. There are rabbit trails, deep cuts, and interviews with Dolly herself. The only down side is that I have to wait a week between episodes!

3. What I'm grateful for...
See giant paragraph above regarding book launch day!!

Unrelated, modern medicine gets a bad rap in some circles these days (maybe that's just my circles), but this week I'm definitely grateful for modern medicine. I'm also grateful for COOL WEATHER! FINALLY! Walking to school, playing in the park, eating outside, running and not feeling like I'm going to melt...all of it is fantastic.

4. A little inspiration...
This blog post by Tsh Oxenreider on The Art of Simple got me thinking this week. I'ts about the importance of defining who you want to be as well as the ACTIONS involved in being that person. Just a little food for thought in your day.

Have a great day, everyone!

A Wednesday list...

Hello! It's been a while since I've posted a classic Wednesday list, so off we go!

1. What I'm reading....
I finished China Rich Girlfriend, which I think I might have actually enjoyed more than Crazy Rich Asians. At least, it was just as much of a fun, fast read as the first book and maybe a little more bonkers. My book club and I decided it felt like reading a novel length version of a gossip magazine. And for something completely different, I just finished Celine, by Peter Heller who's maybe a little more well known for The Dog Stars and most recently The River. I really enjoyed Celine, although it wasn't quite what the experience I expected. It's a mystery that feels like it moves slowly, but then all of a sudden I'm two thirds of the way through the book. The plotting and story are excellent, but the story is more character driven (which is my favorite kind of mystery), and the rich, vivid descriptions made me feel like I was in Wyoming in the fall (which...hello, I'd love to be in Wyoming in the fall).

2. What I'm watching and listening to....
Poldark is baaaack!!! It's the final season, and two episodes in there's enough political intrigue to make my head spin. Also, they've jumped right into a storyline about insanity and mental health, which is a fascinating (and disturbing) subject matter at the turn of the 19th century.

My friend Stephanie also sent me a link to this song: Heavy, by Birdtalker. I don't know anything else about this band, but I could listen to Heavy forever.

3. Something I'm grateful for...
I got to go on a little weekend getaway with some women from church this past weekend, and it was just the kind of refreshing self care that I needed: friend time, alone time, conversation, laughing, eating, etc. I am so, so grateful that I was able to go. Shout out to my husband and in-laws for making it possible!

4. A little inspiration...

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them -
The summer flowers depart -
Sit still - as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

~excerpt from "The Autumn", by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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