Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekly Goals 31-8-15

Well, it's the end of the month when I pledged to have my book finished.  So, am I done?

Not quite.

I had a fantastic writing day yesterday where I took myself out of the house and away from all distractions and managed to write 6.5K in an afternoon.  I'm SO close to being done now.  If I could have another afternoon like yesterday, I would be done.  But it's Monday night and I've had a crazy day at work so I know that knocking out even one 2K chapter before I collapse into bed is unlikely.  And I figure I need to write two to really tie up the end of Sam's story.  It took two to tie up Amy's, so it's only fair that Sam gets two as well.

I'll do my best tonight, but I figure it'll be Wednesday by the time I actually finish.  Which I'm okay with.  My deadline was self imposed and the only effect of of not meeting it is a reduction in the time off I allow myself at the end of a project.  I may only get a 5 day break instead of a week.

I'm okay with that.

My plan then is to revise one of the three projects I have sitting around, unrevised.  I hope to get finished with that before NaNo in November because I already have three ideas for a new book and plan to write one of them during NaNo.

Let's see how that works out…

What are your goals this week?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 28-8-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

It's been a frustrating week.  I'm trying desperately to finish my book by Monday night, but somehow the world seems to be conspiring against me finishing.  It's hard to write a book when every bit of spare time seems to be taken up with something other than writing.  Plus, my characters are quite stubbornly not doing what I need them to do.  So right now I'm celebrating having two free nights to try and wrangle them toward the end of the book.

That and wine….  I really need that wine by this time in the week.

Luckily I have quite a free weekend this week.  A couple of scripts to read, swimming lessons for the kids, housework and, I hope, a whole lot of writing. Oh, and dinner and a movie with a colleague on Sunday night.  I'm looking forward to a little relaxation since the last couple of weeks at work have been pretty chaotic, and from Tuesday, I can expect more of the chaos.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Books I've Loved: White Oleander

This is a gorgeous book.  The writing is so beautiful, it's easy to get lost and drown in the sentences.  But unlike so many other really beautifully written stories that get so wrapped up in the beauty of the language they forget to tell a story, this one also has a plot and compelling characters.

Astrid is a relatable MC.  She adores her mother, Ingrid,  in a way that's almost obsessive despite her mother's seeming lack of interest in anything other than herself and her needs and desires.  When a relationship sours and Ingrid winds up behind bars for murder, Astrid finds herself in the foster care system.

Every new home is different and has its own challenges.  Astrid has to figure out ways to cope with each one, who to be to survive each new family.  The person she grows up to be takes pieces of each of theses selves to patch together a whole and entirely independent person.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb…

Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes-each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned-becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Weekly Goals 24-8-15

I am going to finish this damn draft this week.

Repeat after me.  I am going to finish this damn draft this week.

I've been so close for so long, but somehow I haven't got there.  Damn characters keep doing things on their own.

But I will finish this week, even if it means having to miss out on something else I want to do.  By Sunday, I will be done.

That's all….

Friday, August 21, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 21-8-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

The weekend!

It's been a crazy week and I'm pretty exhausted.  I've barely had a chance to write, which is stressing me out a little because I'm supposed to be finishing this draft by the 31st, and I'm sure I'll make it.  I'll do my best, but my characters keep having other ideas

We're going to the beach tomorrow to catch up with a friend I haven't seen a few weeks.  The weather is supposed to be nice, so I'm looking forward to walking on the beach and having a nice day out of town.

It's my partner's 50th birthday on Monday so we have a big family lunch to go to on Sunday.  Somewhere in there I have to find time to bake a cake….

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Books I've Loved: Wintergirls

This is one I read a while ago, but it's stuck with me because it probably offers the most realistic portrayal of the thought  processes of anorexia I've ever read.  It's also gorgeously written with descriptions you just want to go back to and steal.

It's also a book about friendship and what happens to a friendship when it becomes competitive.  Competitive in an unhealthy and dangerous way that ends in tragedy. How do you come back from that?  Does the tragedy kick you in the pants to stop being self-destructive, or does it push you further into the pit?

Lia's journey shows her choice and the difficulty she has staying on the path.  Her thoughts are often painful, but they're honest and raw.

I've read a lot of books dealing with eating disorders, both fiction and non-fiction, and this has to be among the best I've read.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb:

“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Weekly Goals 17-8-15

Nothing dramatic or new this week.  I just want to finish my book.  I'm close, but not close enough, especially when characters go and do things I wasn't anticipating them doing!  But I think by the end of the week I should be in good shape to finish this draft by the end of the month.

At least I hope so.

My work started a quiz team recently, and I'm on it.  Last week was our first outing and we came 4th out of 19 teams.  This week we hope to do even better.

And that's about it for goals this week.  Nothing big or exciting.  Just business as usual.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 14-8-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

I'm getting closer and closer to the end of my book.  Things are not going the way I expected them to, but they are going.  I've crept over the 60K mark and figure I'll be done within another 10 days or so.  Yay!  It's a pretty dire, first drafty piece of garbage, but at least I'll have something to come back to when I've finished revising my other book.  Not to mention the other story idea I have hanging out in my head that I'm excited about.  It's chance to use some characters I love from an older book that never worked out and bring them into a new story that I hope will give them a chance to shine.

I discovered I've been doing my taxes wrong for years and got the last few years reassessed, resulting in a nice little bit of money being deposited into my bank account so I went on a little online shopping spree….  I love knowing I have packages in the mail. It makes coming home each night that much more exciting! 

I have a busy weekend ahead of me after a busy week.  I'm wondering if I'll have time to get everything I need to do, done.  But I am going to get my hair cut which is long overdue and much needed.  My parents just got back from a trip to South America and I'm looking forward to seeing some photos from the Galapagos Islands and hearing about their adventures rafting down the Amazon.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Books I've Loved: The Secret History

This isn't a new book.  It isn't even new to me.  I still remember the first time I read it.  I was in Berlin and my friend Alex had recommended it to me so when I saw it in the English language bookstore, I didn't hesitate.  I started it on the U-bahn home and basically didn't put it down until I was finished.  I remember spending almost a whole day in a cafe near Potsdamer Platz, drinking coffee after coffee so I could stay there and read.  It's that compelling.

The characters are all odd, and not necessarily in a good way.  Yet somehow you get sucked into there strange little world.  I have no interest in learning Greek and never thought I'd be interested in a group of people who are only brought together by the fact they're learning this ancient language.

I think what is so great about this book is the way it looks at morality and what may or may constitute acceptable human behavior.  Plus, the stakes for all the characters are very high after a certain point.  You just have to keep reading because you HAVE to know what happens next.

It's a book I go back to every couple of years because even when you know what happens, getting to the ending is still a journey worth taking.  It's genius at making you follow people you probably won't like a lot.  If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, go out and get a copy.  I'm urging you to, the same way Alex urged me.  You won't regret it.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb:

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Weekly Goals 10-8-15

I'm late writing this goals post this week because I've already dropped the ball on my weekly goals…D'oh!

I had great intentions of getting right back into the swing of it and knuckling down to finish my draft as soon as the Film Festival was over.  But then a winter storm blew in and after freezing my ass off all day, I just couldn't face sitting in my icy writing room to write last night.  So I slacked off and watched TV in the room with the heater instead….

But I will get back to it, I promise.  I've given myself until the end of the month to finish this draft.  I'm not far from the end, but it always takes me longer than I anticipate to reach it.  But I think 20 days should be plenty to finish.

I just hope the weather warms up a little in the next couple of days.  I can deal with it being chilly, but 3 and 4 degrees is just too cold to be sitting out here.  I wish houses here had central heating.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 7-8-15

This post is part of  Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things (Lexa has just taken it over from VikLit who has hosted it for the last 2 years). Head on over there to join up! 

So, what am I celebrating this week?

It's a been a very busy week.  One of my colleagues at work is moving to a new job and because we've already had a big shake up and inherited two new staff from another agency, we're not replacing him right away.  Therefore, I've taken on a bunch of his work to do until we decide what we need in a new person.  I've spent much of the week learning how to do all the things I am now responsible for.

I got a little work done on my WIP, but I knew this week wasn't going to be a great writing week.  The Film Festival finishes tomorrow, so I will get back to work in earnest on Monday.  If I manage to stick to my regular 5 day a week schedule, I'm certain I can finish this draft by the end of August.  Then I'll take a couple of weeks off to recharge before diving into revising last year's NaNo book. 

I have 3 more Film Festival films to see, and I'm looking forward to them.  Hopefully I'll make it to all of them.  Last night I left to go to a film and the bus never arrived.  When it was 15 minutes after it was scheduled, I walked down to the next bus stop where more routes go by and got there just as the bus I'd been waiting for sailed past.  When I looked at the real-time schedule, the next bus on any route wasn't due for 11 minutes.  Well, that was just too late for me by that point.  Getting on a bus with only 7 minutes before the film started wasn't going to work.  So I went home and wrote an angry email to the bus company. I doubt it will do anything, but the least they could do is reimburse the price of the movie ticket.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Books I've Loved: The Museum of Intangible Things

I loved this book.  It deals with mental illness in a very real, heartbreaking way.  But more importantly, it's a book about friendship.  The kind of intense best-friendship that seems to only exist in teenage girls.  The inseparable kind of friendship where you would do anything for your friend, follow them anywhere and know they'll have your back whatever happens.

There is a love story in there too, but for me, that took second place to the friendship between the two girls.  Reading it, it occurred to me how few books actually focus on female friendship - especially in YA.  Female characters always have friends, even good friends, but they're almost always secondary to the romance.  I'm as guilty of that as any other writer so finding a great friendship book really made my year.

If you don't believe me, here's the blurb….

Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacityinsouciancekarma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of MiraclesThe Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Weekly Goals 4-8-15

After finishing the 30K in NaNo Camp, I'm not that far away from the end of my book.  So the next week or so are all about getting there.  I figure I have about 15K left to write, so I should be able to do that in two or three weeks.  By the end of August anyway.

I don't think the book is very good yet.  Characters kept turning up unexpectedly, and a lot of things happened I wasn't expecting, but I think maybe it will be a more exciting book because of them.  I may just need to change a few things earlier on so the things that happen later make more sense.  I perceived this book as being very closed, with just the two characters and the shifting dynamics between them.  A third character was only going to come in late in the story to change the dynamic again.  But that third character arrived early with his own story and his own baggage and an unexpected brother.

Sometimes I think I should outline, but writing a book with an outline wouldn't be the same adventure…

This is the last week of the Film Festival and I have several more films to see.  Looking forward to them!  But after that, it's butt in chair every night until the draft is done.

What are your goals this week?