Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekly Goals 16-9-19

I have my fingers crossed this week isn't going to be as nuts at work as last week was!

I have revision notes to go through on two books now, so that will have to be done this week.  And I'm still 50 pages from the end of my beta-read, so that also needs to be finished. Plus I agreed to look over a friend's query, synopsis and first pages for a contest, so that will be incoming this week too.

The priority is to finish the beta-read.  Then the other reading for a friend, then getting through all the revision notes and deciding what to do with them all.  I feel like there is a lot of revision in my future...  Which seems to be a recurring theme in my life.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, September 13, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things: 13-9-19

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the small things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

I was expecting things to be a little quieter at work this week, but I have been stupidly busy and am looking forward to having some time this weekend to get some of the things I want to do, done.  I have not been doing any of the writing I want to do, and haven't even managed to get through the beta -read I'm supposed to be doing.  

So that's what the weekend is going to be about.  When I'm not dealing with the usual chores.  And my son's 15th birthday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Books I've Loved: Road Ends

I have binge-read all of Mary Lawson's books over the last couple of weeks.  I read Crow Lake many years ago and it became one of my all-time favourite novels.  After re-reading it a couple of weeks ago, I decided to see if Mary Lawson had written anything else, and ordered her other two books, both of which I read over the weekend.

Road Ends is my least favourite of the three, but still a powerful and engaging read.  Like all Lawson's books, it is set in a remote Ontario town called Struan.  There are even cameos from a couple of characters from Crow Lake in there, which I enjoyed seeing.

The book is about a family with eight sons and one daughter.  The father is remote and busy, shut away in his study when he is home and leaving the raising of all these kids largely to his only daughter since his wife seems only to be interested in children while they are still babies.

So when Megan, at the age of 21, decides it's time to leave home, it's inevitable that things might start to go wrong.

The story is told from three points of view: Tom, the eldest son, Megan and Edward, the father.  Tom and Megan's sections are told in third person while Edward's are in first person, almost like a journal he's writing for himself.

Tom is home again at the age of 25, dealing with a tragedy that he feels at least partly responsible for.   He's shut himself off from the world, not speaking or engaging with anyone any more than he has to and keeps to a strict, unalterable routine to keep his world within the boundaries he can cope with.

Yet as things begin to spiral out of control at home, Tom finds himself having to deal with more and more and his carefully built walls begin to crumble, allowing the rest of the world to begin creeping in.

Meanwhile, Megan has moved to London which, after the smallness of Struan is something of a culture shock.  Yet, ever practical and pragmatic, she manages to find work she loves and build a life for herself.  She misses her family, but revels in not having to be responsible for them anymore.

Edward, locked in his study, is largely unaware of the chaos reigning outside the door.  The occasional rowdy fight between his sons drags him away from his reading and he emerges to yell at them, something he regrets afterward because it reminds him of his own father, a brutal man whose shadow he has never really managed to escape.

The emotional and physical isolation of these characters is almost painful to read.  But their eventual growth as they begin to dig themselves out from the holes they have been hiding in is worth the pain.

The ending was disappointing though.  And I think that's why it isn't my favourite of the three novels by this author.  The explanation for the mother's fading from the world didn't ring entirely true to me, and both Megan and Tom disappointed me.  They both had other choices they could have made in the situation, although I do sort of understand why they acted the way they did.  I just wished it could have been different.

But overall, this is another beautiful book by Mary Lawson that illustrates the harshness and isolation and the wild, untamed beauty of small communities in the North of Canada.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Mary Lawson’s beloved novels, Crow Lake and The Other Side of the Bridge, have delighted legions of readers around the world. The fictional, northern Ontario town of Struan, buried in the winter snows, is the vivid backdrop to her breathtaking new novel.

Roads End brings us a family unravelling in the aftermath of tragedy: Edward Cartwright, struggling to escape the legacy of a violent past; Emily, his wife, cloistered in her room with yet another new baby, increasingly unaware of events outside the bedroom door; Tom, their eldest son, twenty-five years old but home again, unable to come to terms with the death of a friend; and capable, formidable Megan, the sole daughter in a household of eight sons, who for years held the family together but has finally broken free and gone to England, to try to make a life of her own.

Roads End is Mary Lawson at her best. In this masterful, enthralling, tender novel, which ranges from the Ontario silver rush of the early 1900s to swinging London in the 1960s, she gently reveals the intricacies and anguish of family life, the push and pull of responsibility and individual desire, the way we can face tragedy, and in time, hope to start again.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Weekly Goals: 9-9-19

I've gone back to Standing Too Close, and I think I have at least the first part of an ending now.  And once I start writing it, I'm hopeful the rest will fall into place.  I also have a new piece I want to add in the middle because I feel like something important to the story happens too quickly to be wholly believable.  Adding this little bit will help, I hope...

And I'm reading for a friend, so that will have to take priority this week.  But I will get there.  Eventually.

And that's about it for goals this week.  Keeping them small because I am foreseeing a busy week at work ahead.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 6-9-19

This post is part of Lexa Cain's blog hop, Celebrate the small things. Head on over there to sign up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

It has been a really long week at work and I'm thrilled that it's now the weekend.  I have books to read, writing to do, critiquing to do and the usual household chores.  

It's going to be great!

And that's about it...  Hope you all have a great weekend too!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Books I've Read: Pulp

Another fascinating read from Robin Talley.  And this one ambitiously weaves together two stories set in two different eras, both exploring what it's like to navigate life as a girl who likes girls.  And what a contrast it is!

In the present day, Abby is dealing with her life imploding.  Her parents can't stand to be in the same room as each other and the short break she thought she and her girlfriend were taking seems to be permanent.  Her schoolwork is starting to suffer, especially the major project she hasn't even come up with an idea for yet.  So when she discovers a pulp lesbian novel online, she's intrigued and decides she can write something similar, but inverting the tropes of the 1950s style.

In 1955 Janet and her best friend are in love, but have to keep their passion for one another a secret.  Especially when Marie gets a government job at a time when McCarthy's witch-hunts were not just about uncovering Communists.  Unable to live out loud, Janet becomes obsessed with novels about women loving women, even travelling to remote suburbs to trawl through drugstore bookshelves for new volumes.

As Abby's obsession with an author known as Marian Love grows, the lives of these two women, more than sixty years apart, become entangled in a way neither would ever have believed was possible.

I really enjoyed this side-by-side look at different eras.  I knew we'd come a long way, but this really highlights it.  It also gives a real sense of the terror under which lesbians of the fifties were forced to live.  And how a single word or comment could be enough to ruin someone's life and career forever.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.

Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.

In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Weekly Goals 2-9-19

I just realized I never wrote these yesterday!  How remiss of me...  I must have been basking in the relaxation of having had an entire weekend (almost) on my own!

So anyway....  Goals for this week.  I'm still working on that stupid ending for Standing too Close.  I think I'm getting there this time though.  Fingers crossed!

Just got back notes on the romance novel, so once I've had a bash at that ending, I will go back to that one and try to fix any issues there.  I haven't read all the notes yet, but I imagine there will be some.  There are always notes.

And that's about it for this week.  Other than work of course, and working out to get rid of the burger butt from all the burgers I ate over the burger festival.

What are your goals this week?