Sunday, May 31, 2020

Weekly Goals 1-6-20

Can you believe it's June already?  I feel like our summer holidays were about ten minutes ago, and here we are having our last public holiday until October.

I guess that two months of lockdown really screwed with my sense of time...

I managed to get a lot of writing done over the weekend and am feeling pretty positive about being able to finish this revision in the next week or two.  So my goal this week is to keep up that momentum and keep working through the various parts of the book that need fixing.

My other goal is to figure out how to keep up the awesome amount of exercise I managed to do during lockdown.  With it getting dark by 5pm, I can't ride my bike to work anymore, and I don't have that lovely hour of commuting time to work with that I had while working at home.  Unfortunately, I now need that time to actually, y'know, commute.

And that's about it for goals this week.  What are you hoping to achieve this week?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 29-5-20

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 a long weekend!  

Yes, it's Queen's Birthday weekend, so Monday is a holiday.  The kids get five days off because apparently they've worked so hard doing online school over the lockdown and deserve an extra long weekend.  The school obviously didn't see my kids doing online school during lockdown...  I feel like I'm the one who deserves the extra-long weekend.

I have no real plans for the long weekend, other than writing, cleaning and hopefully going to the movies.  Must take a look at what's on and when...  I have a vague idea about making pancakes one day too.  For some reason I have a hankering for pancakes.

Life feels like it's getting back to normal.  There have been no new COVID cases this week and yesterday the office felt almost lively again.  Wednesday was the complete opposite - I was the only person working on my side of the building and there was only one person working on the other side.  I'm working from home today, but I think next week I may go back to the office full-time.  It just works better for me unless I have a big writing project I need to get on with.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Books I've Read: Yes No Maybe So

My first trip back to the library after lockdown and I was lucky enough to find this book that was on my TBR list!

Set during a local election campaign, this is a cross-race, cross-religious romance with a strong political message.  Jamie is a shy, socially anxious guy who struggles to speak to strangers.  Forget about speaking in public.  So he's perfectly happy to be behind the scenes for his state senator's election campaign, stuffing envelopes, fetching coffee or whatever.  But everything changes when he's paired up with Maya to go canvassing door to door.

Maya isn't having a great summer.  Her parents are separating and her best friend is so busy working and preparing to go to college she seems to have forgotten she even has a best friend. Maya's mother suggests getting involved with the campaign might give her days some purpose and Maya grudgingly agrees even if it does mean hanging out with a childhood friend she hasn't seen in years.

As Jamie and Maya get more deeply involved in the campaign and what it means to them and the people around them, they realize that they have more in common than they might have thought.  The more time they spend together, the more they enjoy each other's company.  But no romance runs smoothly and things get more complicated when one person is Jewish American and the other is from an Indian Muslim background.

I enjoyed this book.  It was light and fun and Jamie was so adorably inept.  Yet under all the frothy romance there was some strong messaging about hate speech, politics and speaking up for what you believe in.  There was also some messaging around the power of social media to invoke change (and, as usual, create chaos for our happy couple).

I believe strongly that everyone who has the right to vote, should vote.  People have no right to complain about the political situation they're in if they didn't use their right to vote, even if their candidate didn't win.  Yet I felt this message was pushed a little too hard through this book.  The political campaign wasn't just the background for the romance at the forefront of the book, it felt like the reason for the book.  Like the authors were really, really intent on getting their political message across, at any cost.

Now I'm all for messages in books and for books to teach readers things, but I hate it when I feel like an author is bashing me over the head with their ideology.  Even if I'm on the same page as them.  So I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to.

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

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at allto almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Weekly Goals 25-5-20

I had a pretty productive writing weekend, although I feel like the scenes I'm working on are going on too long.  But I'll finish them and then we can see how they fit into the whole.

So my goal this week is to keep going with these changes.  I think I'm almost at the point where I can knit the new stuff I'm written into what I already had and move on to the next place I need to make changes.  And with next weekend being a long weekend, I hope to make some real progress.

My other goal this week is to go to the movies.  I was hoping to go this weekend, but there was nothing on I wanted to see at a time I wanted to go, so fingers crossed this week will be different.  My local cinema re-opened on Thursday, but they are only running two sessions a day at the moment which is a little limiting. Fingers crossed this week they have something I would like to see at a time I can go.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 22-5-20

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?

We've had another great week here, with no new COVID-19 cases in 4 days.  Almost all the people who have had it are recovered and only one person remains in hospital.  The death toll sits at 21.  It's starting to feel like we've actually managed to get this thing under control.

Things are opening up again, albeit a little differently than before.  Hand sanitizer is everywhere.  You can't go into a store or public building without having to sanitize your hands.  You also have to write down your name and address everywhere you go, to make contact tracing easier.  But basically, things are starting to feel more like normal.

I've been into the office three days this week and taking the bus hasn't been nearly as traumatic as I thought it might be.  Practically no one is using the buses so having them at 40% capacity hasn't been a problem at all.  It seems that a lot of people have decided to just keep working at home, so traffic hasn't been horrible either.

Being back at the office is really nice.  The companionship, for one thing, but even more so, the separation of work and home.  At 5:30 I can just leave and not have my computer sitting on my kitchen bench glaring at me every time I walk by.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Books I've Read: Four Days of You and Me

I've been a big fan of Miranda Kenneally's for some time now, so I might have squeed a little when NetGalley approved me for this ARC.  Kenneally writes great girl characters who take charge of their own lives and destinies, even when they are doing something unexpected or unusual.

Or at least, that's what I expect from a Kenneally novel.

This one is different.

Set over four years and four class trips, the book follows Lulu and Alex as their relationship changes through the years.  Initially enemies thanks to something that happened back in grade school, Lulu and Alex find themselves drawn to one another after getting locked into an escape room together while on a field trip to a museum.

Lulu is a good girl, shy and bookish. She spends a lot of time in her room working on a graphic novel she's been writing for years.  Alex is a baseball player and spends most of his spare time working at his family's pizza restaurant.  He runs with the popular crowd at school and has the sense of entitlement to match.

Yet somehow, Lulu and Alex work.  Until they don't.  But even then, they can't stop looking at one another.  Even when each of them is dating someone else.

This is a fairly straightforward romance novel with all the usual falling in and out of love, yearning and angst.  Because we only saw the characters for brief moments in each of the four years, we only saw the key moments in their relationship rather than the fullness of it.

I think I would have liked this more if the characters had felt more authentic.  Alex was both a douche and too good to be true at the same time, while Lulu was more insipid than I would have expected from a Miranda Keneally girl.  Quirks the characters were given felt like identifying markers rather than organic parts of real people.  A boy with a troubled home.  A vegan.  A gay athlete unwilling to come out.

But despite these things, I did enjoy reading the book.  The jumping around in time was a fun way to see how the relationship grew and changed over time.  And the different places they went on their school trips was interesting too.  I was almost embarrassed for them in London when they acted so much like typical American tourists...

So while this is not my favorite book by this author, I don't regret reading it.

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

A new swoon-worthy romance following a couple's love story on the same date over four years.

Every May 7, the students at Coffee County High School take a class trip. And every year, Lulu’s relationship with Alex Rouvelis gets a little more complicated. Freshman year, they went from sworn enemies to more than friends after a close encounter in an escape room. It’s been hard for Lulu to quit Alex ever since.

Through breakups, make ups, and dating other people, each year’s class trip brings the pair back together and forces them to confront their undeniable connection. From the science museum to an amusement park, from New York City to London, Lulu learns one thing is for sure: love is the biggest trip of all.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Weekly Goals 18-5-20

This week life begins to go back to to normal.  I'm going into the office today instead of working from home.  It's going to be weird being around people who are not my family, but I'm looking forward to it.  I suspect it might be just as tiring as I found those first couple of weeks working at home.  I have a feeling public transport is going to be a mess because they are not putting on more buses even though the ones they have are only able to take 40% of their usual capacity.  Which was probably fine last week, but now the kids are going back to school, it's going to be chaos.

So I'm keeping my goals small this week.  I didn't do as much writing over the weekend as I wanted to, but I did submit a novel to a publisher and they asked for a dreaded synopsis, so I wrote a synopsis.  I don't think it's a great synopsis, but I think I did manage to capture a little of my MC's voice in it.   I guess we'll see if it worked when I hear back in a couple of months.

This week I want to get back to fixing the issues in Standing Too Close.  I can probably finish the section I'm working on in a couple of days, so this week I need to get my butt into my chair and actually write.  But I know it probably won't happen until the weekend.

What are your goals this week?