C.M. Martens’ Favorite Books

It definitely helps to know someone’s tastes when following recommendations, so I thought I’d put up some of my favorites. It was way harder than I thought to narrow this down. There are way more books on this page than I meant there to be…

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Top 10

In no particular order:

  1. The Name of the Wind (Book 1 of the Kingkiller Chronicles) by Patrick Rothfuss
  2. Dune by Frank Herbert
  3. Hero (book 3 of Epic Saga) by Lee Stephen
  4. Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
  5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  6. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  7. Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
  8. Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
  9. The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
  10. Blood Song (Book 1 of the Raven’s Shadow Series) by Anthony Ryan

Almost made the top list

  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Evo Nation Series by K. J. Chapman
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  • Echo Series by Kent Wayne
  • 14 by Peter Cline
  • In Her Name Series by Michael Hicks (especially book 5)
  • The Host by Stephanie Meyer
  • The Legion & the Lioness by Robert D. Armstrong
  • Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • Wyvern by A. A. Attanasio
  • The Dragonian Series paired with the Moonbeam Series by Adrienne Woods
  • Stain by A.G. Howard
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
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Huge fan of:

  • Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs
  • First seven books in the Anita Blake Series by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Anne Rice
  • Science Fiction
  • The Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart
  • The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
  • The rest of the Dune books, including everything his son wrote
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (though I almost threw the last one)
  • Geodyssey by Piers Anthony
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Nighthawk by Marie Frances
  • Supernaturals: A Ghost Story by David Lynn Goleman
  • Xenogenesis Series by Octavia Butler
  • S. by J.J. Abrams
  • Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

I’m not a fan of:

  • …Brandon Sanderson books. I typically find them dull, though the concepts are always fantastic. I think I’ve given 3 stars to every book of his I’ve read, except the first Mistborn book which was a 4 star. So, I guess it’s not that I’m not a fan, I just don’t love him like everyone else I know…
  • …Stephen King. Not even The Dark Tower Series. So many words for no reason, though I did enjoy Misery and Pet Cemetary.
  • …The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Sorry, Scott. I just don’t *shrug* Maybe because I’d already read Anita Blake and just couldn’t do another supernatural cop-mystery-who-done-it series? Maybe I’m just sexist when it comes to this kind of book…

Books I re-read over & over

  • Dune
  • Enemies by Tijan
  • Made of Steel Series by Ivy Smoak
  • Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
  • Stain by A.G. Howard
  • The Burning Series by Evan Winter

Your Thoughts

I’d love to hear your comments on any of the above 🙂

Journaling

Trying to figure it out

We really make our lives so complicated. Not even on purpose, which I think makes it worse. There’s so much unconscious stumbling along the path we call our lives. So much blind forward motion that we don’t even notice the things we cling to that make it what it shouldn’t. We’ve all gone through so much unconscious training. We watched those who raised us and took on their lessons, whether good or ill. We created unconscious systems that helped us avoid pain. We learned to ignore problems we felt we shouldn’t/couldn’t/don’t want to deal with. We pretend that any movement is better than none. We convince ourselves we’re doing the right thing.

I’ve seen this in myself for years. Ignored the quiet voice that suggests it’s all wrong because making it right would mean facing difficulties. I made my life complicated by thinking I was keeping it simple. Keeping to the design. Not rocking the boat or hurting people’s feelings.

What’s right?

But how should we know? Never are we taught how to be ourselves. Most of the time, we’re steered away from who we are. We believe we’re supposed to. We believe the adults in our lives have some grand knowledge, and listening to them will lead us towards greatness.

As an adult, I know this is a lie. Adults – people who are older than children – don’t know. I readily admit this. Yet we continue to teach the youth that they should be like us. We continue to teach them what we have experienced is not true.

Shouldn’t we intrinsically know who we are? Children know. Just watch them. No one laughs like a small child. That laugh that is impossible not to laugh along with. True joy. Forgetting that is something we’ve convinced ourselves is just a part of life. Well, sure, because we’ve all allowed it to be. What if we stopped molding people into our view of who they should be? What if we let them find out who they are? What if we stopped stealing everyone’s joy?

I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life that we are not ourselves. I’ve never been angrier at anything than I am at the public education system (that’s not entirely fair, and also a part of a different conversation). 

One Word

I set myself up for something I hadn’t considered this year when I decided to participate in One Word (read about my word discovery here). To follow my word for the year, journaling has become a significant part of my life. I used to journal – back in my school years, then occasionally throughout my life. Never with any real consistency; never really deep-diving into why my questions came up or couldn’t be answered. I never really tried to answer them. I assumed they were unanswerable. I assumed my existential dilemma was something I needed to manage.

Today, I know exactly why I didn’t look further than the surface. I didn’t want to face myself. When I first picked up my pen this year, I actually laughed about it. It came out so clean and clear on that first page. All my claims to be more self-aware than the average person were for crap when staring at how I’d blatantly ignored this detail for over a decade. I liked wallowing in my self-pity. And I was much too lazy to put in any work to be happy.

Interlude

Over a decade. That statement above made me ill to write. So much wasted time, and for what? All in the name of avoidance. The stoics talk about this. About anticipating death at any moment, so you value time above all else. They say if you’re thirty years old, you’re actually thirty years dead. We’re not looking at 60 or 90 more years to live, but those years we’ve lived as being gone because we can’t know – with surety – how many days are left. If we never know when that last day will come, we will acknowledge each moment as precious as it is. This is why saying, out loud, that ten years of knowing a thing but not doing anything about it makes me physically ill. I know it does no good to be sad about the past, to stare into it, and let it cripple me. Still, I will take a moment to acknowledge it, lament it, and promise I will try to be more aware so I don’t waste more of my time like this. So easy to say, I know. Much harder to do. That’s why I try to commit to showing up every day. Some days will be great, some not so great, but always I will be there, allowing life to move through me, rather than reacting and/or hiding from it. That is my biggest problem. Hiding.

Back to Journaling

So, with my word for the year to guide me:

SATYA:

A Practice of Truthfulness

…guides us to think, speak, and act with integrity.

from: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/satya-a-practice-of-truthfulness

My first obstacle is to figure out how to know what I do is truthful. How do I know if ego is pulling me versus trusting it’s my purpose? That’s where journaling comes in and is super important. Because exactly – how can I know if I don’t know myself? I need to get into my head – deep, where it hurts and is uncomfortable.

Sure, sitting around thinking about things can be helpful. Except, until you say something out loud and/or put it on paper, it’s really just abstract ideas. Trust me. The thoughts of a brain do not directly translate to communication. I’m a fiction writer. I know how genius thoughts can be. Great ideas are so motivating! Then, I sit down to make them corporeal… lots of nothing tends to come out. There’s nothing really there. Trust me when I say, if it’s not put down in some concise manner, visually or vocally, it’s not real. Those brilliant thoughts are not what you think.

Journaling fleshes this all out. Journaling forces these ideas through questions whose answers explain much. Only when we figure out WHY we think things can we judge how valid they are. So much of what’s in my head is not honest or valuable. So much is just fear or misunderstanding or ignorance based on random facts(?) and encounters. So many are based on points made by people who didn’t know what they were talking about.

Effect or Affect?

I already feel better and more alive, more joyful and hopeful and just more like the person I was supposed to be after only a handful of sessions in front of these blank pages. Have I shown up every day? No. Do I not feel like it? Most of the time. There is so much farther for me to travel. So much more to uncover. There is still the work of creating a real habit out of it. Of remembering it’s working even when I think I don’t have time for it.

How to Journal

My first few journaling sessions were tedious. I literally did not know what to write. I was journaling for a particular reason, but the how of drawing that out – even still – is daunting. My underlying point is to connect with my Divine Self. To practice SATYA; to be truthful in my intention in all I do. Along this path, I know I’ll flesh out my true self. What can I possibly say that will sift through the layers of bullshit pretending to be me? What do I need to talk about to burrow into the real me? I won’t know until I get there. I won’t know until I let the ideas turn to precise thoughts.

Obstacles

One of my major problems lies in these questions of how to get there. I am horrible at enjoying the journey. I am goal-oriented, so find I’m often looking up and out. I need to see the destination before I trust I should even start a journey. If I have no clear action plan, if that plan does not align with the goal, I’ll sit around on my PS4 for months before I think to do anything about something I want/should/need to do. So here I am, staring at a blank page, needing to know which is the most efficient thing to talk about to get me there.

Any step will start it. EVERY path leads there. Sure, some ways are faster. Some tracks are more treacherous, have more distractions, more shiny baubles to make us forget. Others have lower lows and higher highs. ANY STEP. Just do it. Just show up, and things start to happen.

I listened to this. I did it. I just started writing, not even sure what I was talking about. Those words turned into a point that forced me to look and see, so more words flowed. Soon I had pages filled. Years of half-assed, kind-of-pretending to soul search and be better had primed me for this. I was more than ready to get into it. That’s not to say this will be/is one of those fast paths. Remember, a decade to get here. A decade to finally step onto the path ( *drawn-out breath* *ignore the frustration* ).

I don’t know if journaling into your inner thoughts is difficult and tedious. Those who are smarter and braver than me, who didn’t have pride keeping them back, maybe you found journaling hard at first because you had more to get through. Maybe the opposite. Tell me about your journey. 

Doing It

I now have two journals (composition notebooks). One I call my mind dump. The other is where I follow along to a prompt series. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say. Often, I need direction. Especially a direction that is an approach to lead me where I want to go. Most days, I do both. Even when I don’t think I know what to say, a cascade of thoughts comes pouring out as soon as I write a few words. Thoughts that dive through the crap I’ve wrapped around myself. Ideas that get to the heart of me. Ideas that may scrape away the things I think bother me, so I can let go and figure things out from an honest, kind, helpful, and genuine place. SATYA.

Do you journal? How have you found it helpful to your process/creativity/life/et al.?

If you have a favorite prompt or topic that has helped you really flesh yourself out, I’d love to hear it! Leave me a comment, or contact me through my contact page 🙂

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

One Word

What is One Word?

Essentially, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, One Word is a word you divine from the universe to guide you through the year. In past years, I’ve had simplicity and patience, for example. Check out Jon Gordon to get all the details.

Finding my word

This year, I really struggled to find my WORD. I felt completely blank about it over the weeks I was trying to be open to hear it. When I realized the word wasn’t blasting through my head like it had in previous years, I paid more attention to the constant feeling I had about it. Following this vague sense, I looked up and researched through my limited vocabulary down a deep rabbit hole.

First, it was INTENTION

Intention was where I started. But that wasn’t focused enough.

Intention to attention… but that’s more than one word, and not exactly what I felt.
I needed intention to relate more with sourcing my purpose, with ensuring I take action towards a goal that is wise and fitting and not ruled by pride and ego.


I’ve read that yoga can mean “work.” Intentional action. So, I started looking up definitions of yoga. At this point, I was pretty sure YOGA was my WORD, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just creating something of my own making from the hints the universe handed out.

Yoga: a union between the self and the divine, or more accurately to realize my identity with the Divine; to know and tune into my intrinsic nature.

No, that doesn’t sound terrifying at all.

Yoga is (according to Patanjali):

Equanimity of mind in success and failure.
Discretion in work.
The remover of misery and destroyer of pain.
The most supreme self.
Serenity.
The giver of infinite happiness.
Complete control over patterns or modifications of the mind.

Yoga is a lot. Much more than ONE WORD. So, I kept digging, trying to slim this all-encompassing way into a piece I could focus on. The YAMAS is where I found my WORD.

SATYA

…”absolute truth”, but Satya also refers to the virtue of being honest in thoughts, in actions and in words during everyday life…

https://styleoga.it/en/meaning-satya-yoga/

Impeccable truth. Clear, truthful intention. Satya is my One Word.

The actual doing…

Of course, how to go about achieving even the slimmest level of this is my current task. Journaling has become my job this last week as I try to dissect my brain patterns, try to cess out the things that make me not be SATYA (is it a verb? can it be a verb?) and find a way towards it.

Have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them. I’d especially love to hear if you have a word to focus on for the year.

The Irony of the Law of Unintended Consequences

The changes in social movement have effected all our lives. Whether by a lot, or not, is for each of us to determine on our own. For the most part, my life is not a lot different. I’ve been blessed to be able to work from home for the last few years, and while I had planned to go back to work right before the original U.S. outbreak shut down the states, my introverted hombodiedness was already used to being shut in. (I know a lot of us call ourselves introverts, but you should talk to me before you label yourself one 😉 I had this not leaving the house thing down way before it was forced on us).

Photo by Stanley Dai on Unsplash

COVID did change my plans, though. Six days before shutdown, we were about to sign the lease on our first apartment together. We’ve lived together for years, but always with roommates or as guests as we traveled back and forth, up and down the East Coast. Not being absolutely positive on our timetable (and not loving the apartment), we stalled. Best decision ever.

But I couldn’t wait around anymore. I couldn’t sit in Florida, feeling trapped. So, back to NY to visit my sister and see what might happen. Well, nothing happened. Still in shut down. Still unable to do the work we could do. Now, we’re still here, in NY, facing another winter when we swore, three years ago, we never would again.

Here’s where the irony plays out. This time, making the conscious decision to deal with a CNY winter, we told ourselves we weren’t going to sit around complaining about the snow and cold. We were going to embrace it, and involve ourselves in winter things. The ideas were to snowshoe and/or cross-country ski (lots of open land around my sister’s place). We shot down the idea of snowboarding or downhill skiing because of cost factors. Also, Jason says he’s too big to hurl himself down a mountain at speed where he will inevitably fall and probably break himself. Fair.

Cool. We have winter activities planned around our attitude adjustment. Leveling up. Yay.

It’s now January, and there has been one good snowfall. I’m not complaining, just pointing out the irony. Finally ready for snow, and there is no snow. I know it’s early in the season here in CNY. I’ve seen six foot snow drifts in April. My main hatred of winter is having to drive in the flash snowstorms that happen in lake effect areas. Nothing I’ve ever done is important enough to be out on the roads. Too bad my employers never felt the same. Again, irony. I’m not working out of the house. I don’t have to be on the roads, and it’s the perfect year for it.

I am about to start working, about to start having to leave the house. I’m sure winter will hard then 😉 At least I’ll finally be able to justify new winter pants and jacket 🙂

A (late) story of my Reemergence

I’ve gotten so behind, while also getting so much done!

Yes, I’m way behind on getting book 4 of The Fool’s Path to you. It’s in the works, I swear. I have a tentative release of Spring 2021. It’ll be a long book; lots of words. There’s so much to tie up and I really never planned to have Dee’s story start a fifteen book series 😉 I really want four books to be it.

Don’t worry. If you’re sad about the end looming, there are stories about Daniel’s past, Amalthea and Metis, LeSath’s Soldiers, and of course, Hamal cued for writing. Let me know if there’s anyone else you’re dying to read more about 🙂

While diving into this last book (Catching Balance), I’ve gone over the first three books. A (bad) idea that opened so many cans of worms.

Stumbling was my first book baby. I’d worked on it for so long that once I found the courage to put it out into the world I was a little impatient. I should have let it sit a little longer, should have taken a little more time to refine it. But it was my learning curve, and for my first novel with minimal editorial help, I’m still very proud of it 🙂

(Still haven’t read it? Get your copy here).

There was a similar problem with Falling Forward (I’m also convinced somehow a previous edit got uploaded that was a mess and was the published version for a long time before I noticed. It was sloppy for a long time and so many apologies from me if you read that version). Super embarrassing, but a wicked learning curve that has helped my brain so much.

Because of this reevaluation, I’ve decided to republish the series under alternate titles. Don’t worry, that plan won’t take energy from getting book 4 out. I want to release Book 4 under The Fool’s Path series before dealing with rebranding. All my books are published using Amazon ISBN’s. A cheaper option I chose to see how this whole indie-publishing thing worked. The rebrand will happen under my own publishing house but that’s a plan for the end of next year. (If you’re signed up for a free travel pass, you’ll have already gotten the low-down on these plans 🙂 )

I really let the COVID lockdown take me away. I played World of Warcraft 16 hours a day for four months before finally getting my writing tools back out. I’ve been away from social media since June. This post will be my official reemergence (at the time of this post, I’ve been back a few weeks). It’s hard for me to believe in the value of my words. I definitely struggle with connecting. I’m drawn to bury my head in my work, but sharing my process and linking with other writers is important, too! And hearing from readers makes it real! Drop me a line if you’re either 🙂 I’m in desperate need of alpha and beta readers, and I’d love to be an alpha reader for you!

I have put away my gaming computer (mostly) for my writing tools. While I’ve still been stagnant on producing work for The Fool’s Path, I’ve gotten so much other work done. I’ve written two books in a new series I hope to publish traditionally, while also starting four books in a third series that interweave through the eyes of different characters. So, many, many written words. Now, to polish something up or it doesn’t really count…

What have you been working on?