Sunday, July 14, 2019

Checking In

At the end of 2018 I wrote a letter to myself, outlining my goals for 2019.  It's just past the halfway point in the year, so let's check in and see how I'm doing with these goals.  Original text is in black, my comments on progress in purple....

Dear Me,

2018 was a crazy year and while I somehow managed to achieve most of what I set out to do, it feels like it was more by accident than by design. So my first goal for 2019 is to plan ahead more. Think about what might be coming up before committing to things and set aside time for the things I really want to do.

Well, sort of.  I'm still not great at planning ahead, but at least I'm conscious of that now.

I have a book releasing on 1 February and I really want it to sell better than the last one. So my first goal for the year is to figure out the best way to market this new book, and the other ones, to generate sales. The subject matter for this one is less controversial than in Stumped, so hopefully that will help with sales, but getting reviews and getting them in the right places is crucial.

I worked my little tail off on this book.  I sent out hundreds of emails to reviewers, listed the book on all the free advertising sites I could find (and a couple of paid ones too), but it's got less reviews than any of my previous books and I don't think sales are great (I haven't received my royalty statement yet).  I'm still pushing it out wherever I can find opportunities for it, but it certainly isn't going as well as I had hoped.

I would like to publish another book in 2019. I have three that are very close to being ready to go, so I will endeavor to get at least one of these polished and ready to go out into the world. And send it out. If I'm lucky, I may even have all three ready to go out at some point during the year.

I have one that's ready to go out, but it's not my favorite, and after working so hard to get better sales for The Sidewalk's Regrets and not getting anywhere, I'm feeling a little blah about submitting another book to my current publisher.  I'm thinking I'll wait until I finish the new one I'm working on and try to get a new agent with it.

I also have three or four manuscripts in various stages of completion that I would like to go back to and finish. I'm not sure any of them are actually much good, but going back and re-reading them will let me know if there is anything worth salvaging in any of them. And if there is, I will work to finish any of these I feel are worth the effort.

Well that's actually happened.  One of the manuscripts I had lurking in my hard drive was actually really good (actually, a couple of them are, but this one really grabbed me) so I'm working on that and will hopefully finish it soon.

At the moment I don't have any burning ideas for a new book, which is probably a good thing considering how many unfinished projects I have lying around. But should something come up during the year, I will jump on that idea before it squirrels away again. And I will write the hell out of that idea.

Still not 100% in love with any of my current ideas, but it usually takes something I see in a movie or read to make the various threads in my head coalesce into a story.  So you never know...  I've never written a sequel, but I feel like the book I'm working on now might need one, from the POV of one of the other characters.  So we'll see...

I was pretty good with my exercising in 2018, so I want to keep that up. And my weekday intermittent fasting too. I even plan to buy some scales in the new year so I can keep track of my weight, rather than relying on how my clothes fit to tell me if I've gained or lost weight. The goal is to lose at least 5kg by Easter.

Ha ha!  I've lost 2kg by July.  And that's spurious.  I don't have scales so I've been weighing myself when I go to dinner at my folks' every couple of weeks and I have shoes and clothes on every week that probably change the reading.  But I have been good about the exercising and the intermittent fasting...  So it's not terrible.

And my final goal is to read more. I'm not going to get my Goodreads reading goal in 2018, which tells me I'm not reading enough. So I need to get on top of that.

Well, according to Goodreads I'm four books ahead of my goal, so that's got to be good, right?  Kind of amazing too, considering the library in town shut down because it wasn't earthquake safe.  Boy do I miss that library...

What are your goals for 2019?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 12-7-19

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!

After another really busy week at work, I'm looking forward to the weekend.  I've barely seen the kids all week and they've been on holiday, so over the weekend I plan to spend some time with them. If they'll let me, of course.

After making a good start on writing the ending of my book last weekend, I haven't managed to get anything more written since.  So this weekend I hope to manage another little burst of writing activity.  It's been one of those weeks where I've been writing long corporate documents at work and by the time I come home, my word-bank feels like it's been drained and it's almost impossible to write any more.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Books I've Read: What Makes Us

This was one of those books where the subject matter was really fascinating, but the writing didn't really do it justice.  Maybe it's because I had an ARC and the formatting was kind of screwed up, but I think that was only a small part of it.

Eran is concerned with social justice.  He knows he has a problem with anger and blames that on his mother who also has moments where she lashes out in irrational rage.  He never knew his father so has to believe that if he had, his father's influence may have changed him.

That believe is dramatically shattered when, after things get heated at a supposedly peaceful protest, Eran discovers his father was a terrorist responsible for an horrific bombing.

Suddenly the community he has lived in for as long as he can remember is taking sides.  Some want him and his mother driven out of town.  Others support them.

As they deal with the aftermath of this discovery, Eran learns that there are a huge number of factors that make us who we are.

This is important subject matter and very relevant to these times.  The struggle Eran faces is one that thousands of people face every day in some shape or form.  The book tells the story largely from Eran's point of view, but occasionally there is a section from his mother, and a few sections are narrated by a school friend who is also struggling with her identity after discovering some things that don't add up about her own past.

Eran was kind of an annoying character and I never felt anything he thought or said rang 100% true.  Both he and Jade felt younger than the seventeen they were supposed to be.  Maybe this is because they are both quite sheltered, with parents who are both over-protective and secretive about the reasons why.

I read this ARC on my Kindle and there were no breaks in the text to let me know when the POV changed, which was confusing, especially when the POV changed to the mother.  Jade and Eran's voices were also so similar it was difficult to understand when they switched too. 

So while I thank NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC, I didn't enjoy the book as much as I had hoped I would.

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

A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving him to reckon with his heritage, legacy, and identity in this fiery, conversation-starting novel.

Eran Sharon knows nothing of his father except that he left when Eran was a baby. Now a senior in high school and living with his protective but tight-lipped mother, Eran is a passionate young man deeply interested in social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a program to increase traffic stops, Eran organizes a peaceful protest.

But a heated moment at the protest goes viral, and a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier — and asks if Eran is anything like his father, a supposed terrorist. Soon enough, Eran is wondering the same thing, especially when the people he’s gone to school and temple with for years start to look at him differently.

Timely, powerful, and full of nuance, Rafi Mittlefehldt’s sophomore novel confronts the prejudices, fears, and strengths of family and community, striking right to the heart of what makes us who we are.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Weekly Goals 8-7-19

The broken record is still spinning, so once again my goal this week is to finish my book.

I'm further along than I have been the last few weeks - I have actually written something toward the ending.  I just need to keep going.

So that's what I will do.  I don't think I'm going to have a lot of time or energy for writing this week because of the amount of work I have on, plus the kids are on holiday from school.  But I will do what I can...

My other goal is to make sure my non-reading kid reads at least one book each week of the holidays and doesn't spend the entire two weeks playing games on his phone.  And that the other one gets out of the house at least once a day and does something physical.

The problem is, without being here it's hard to enforce.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 5-17-19

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!

After a crazy, crazy week at work, I'm looking forward to the weekend.  Even though it looks like I may need to do some work over the weekend because I have something I'm working on that has to be done by 4pm Monday and I was only asked to do it on Wednesday afternoon.  And it's a big 'un!

Hopefully not though...

I booked my film festival tickets which is always an exciting thing for me.  I'm going to 16 films over the two weeks, so time will be at a premium.  Luckily a lot of the sessions I booked for are at the cinema just down the road from my house, so it's handy.

This evening my son and I are going to hear the Youth Orchestra play Holst's The Planets.  I'm looking forward to it.  I love that piece of music.  My sister went to school where Holst wrote it (he was the music teacher) and the desk he wrote it on was still there.

Other than that, I don't have anything much planned for the weekend.  I think the whole family would like to see Toy Story 4, so we might do that.  And my parents are back from visiting my sister in Arizona, so we will have dinner with them on Sunday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

ISWG - July Post

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post.  And this month's question is:

What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

I think writing yourself into your characters is inevitable.  The way you see the world and experience it is obviously going to filter into your writing.  The things you do and places you go are going to be points of reference that will spill into the world of your story.

I write myself into my characters all the time, but I usually don't realize it until much later when I go back and re-read my stuff after leaving it for a while and recognize certain things as coming directly from my own perspective.

I also write characters that have traits I wish I had...  My MCs often have best friends who are bold, extroverted and unafraid to do or be whatever they want to be, while the MCs tend to be more reserved, like me.

Sacha in The Sidewalk's Regrets is probably the character that is the most like me of all the characters I've written.  She's driven, obstinate, probably a little obsessive and fiercely loyal - all traits I see in myself.  It's how she uses these traits that differs from my own experience.

I find that individual events and stories of my own often best illustrate moments in my stories.  For example, in Stumped, Ozzy is thinking about disappointment and the moment he first understood the meaning of the word and remembers the time his mother took him to a circus that promised a "man eating fish" throughout the show.  With each mention, Ozzy got more and more excited about seeing this mythical creature, only to be horribly disappointed when a man wandered around the ring eating a piece of fish in the final act.  This little anecdote came directly from my own childhood.

Do you find that you write pieces of yourself into your stories?  Do you use your own anecdotes to illustrate points?

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Weekly Goals 1-7-19

I can't quite believe it's July already!  Where on earth has the year disappeared to?

This week I hope to actually start writing that elusive ending.  I'm not 100% happy with what I've come up with, but it's better than the nothing I have now.  Maybe one of my readers will be able to come up with something better when I give them the MS to critique.  But I can't give anyone an unfinished MS to critique.

So that's my main goal this week.

I also have a big project starting at work that will keep me busy until around October off and on.  So this week is all about getting that set up and ready and starting work.

Other than that, I have nothing special planned.  Jut going to the gym and getting the kids through their last week of school before they go on vacation for two weeks.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 28-6-19

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!

This week has felt long because my team and I were in Auckland for a conference for two and a half days.  It went well, but whenever you're out of town for an event like that, the days are long.  And there's a lot of socializing/networking/talking to people to do as well.  I'm a social animal, but I do need my alone time too and there just isn't much chance for that when you're at an event like this.

So this weekend I think I'm going to try and revel in some alone time.  Although we do have a couple of social obligations already planned, so it's not going to be a whole weekend of alone-time...

I'm also going to need to go to the gym to make up for all the days I didn't go while I was away.

I also plan to go to the movies, something I really want to do more of.  I love going to the movies and my entire career has been in the industry.  Yet somehow, I just haven't been going as often as I would like to.  Partly because a bunch of cinemas have closed down for different reasons, and partly because I'm just not interested in big action blockbuster movies and so much of what gets screened is that type of film.  But I plan to try and go at least once every two weeks from now on.

I also plan to read the Film Festival program from cover to cover and make my selections...  

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Books I've Read: Love May Fail

I have mixed feelings about this one.  On the one hand, it was a quick, easy read and the characters were quirky and interesting.  On the other, they were kind of annoying a lot of the time.

The book begins with Portia Kane drunk in a closet watching her pornographer husband screw a much younger woman.  After destroying his property and the ragged remains of her marriage, Portia leaves him and flies home to her mother in New Jersey.

Her home remains unchanged, her hoarder mother still living among piles of collected detritus and wearing the same filthy pink track suit she has always worn.  The town is also largely unchanged and Portia runs into an old school friend at the local diner.  Their friendship re-ignites and so does a quiet romance with the friend's ex-junkie older brother.

But Portia's mission at home is to reconnect with the English teacher who was part father figure and part inspiration during her high school years.  Discovering he retired after a scandal, finding him is more difficult than she imagines.  And if she does, will it be the inspirational re-union she was hoping for?  

The book begins with Portia narrating the story, but moves through several other perspectives as the story unfolds.  Coincidences and chance meetings link these characters in many places, but their lives become inextricably linked, for better or for worse.

This was one of those books that seemed like it was a light, breezy, fun read, but actually had some much heavier stuff lurking under the surface.  Some of which worked, and other parts that really didn't.  But overall, I enjoyed it and it certainly made me think about my role as a citizen of the human race.

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

Portia Kane is having a meltdown. After escaping her ritzy Florida life and her cheating pornographer husband, she finds herself transported back to South Jersey, where things remain largely unchanged from her unhappy childhood. In need of saving herself, she sets out to find and resurrect a beloved high school English teacher who has retired after a horrific scandal. Will a sassy nun, an ex-heroin addict, a metal-head little boy, and her hoarder mother help or hurt Portia's chances in this bid for renewed hope in the human race? This is a story of the great highs and lows of existence: the heartache and daring choices it takes to become the person you know (deep down) you are meant to be.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Weekly Goals 26-6-19

I had a busy, social weekend this weekend, so decided to give myself a break from the novel with no ending in the hope one would come to me while I was pointedly ignoring it.

No such luck...

So this week's goal is still to figure out an ending for this story.  I'm going to Auckland for a couple of days for a conference, so maybe that change of scene and routine will shake something loose so next weekend I have something to play with.

I can live in hope, right?

That's about it for goals this week because I know I'm not going to have time to write while I'm away,  so there's no point making it a goal this week.

So my main goal is to find time while I'm in Auckland to catch up with my best friend who lives there and I haven't seen for about a year.  Which is far too long!

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 21, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 21-6-19

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 appears a large number of people in my life were born on the solstice.  So this weekend seems to be all about birthdays.  My younger son turned 12 and one of my very good friends turned 60, not to mention one of my colleagues' mothers who also had a birthday on the same day.

So last night we took Mr. 12 out for sushi.  He didn't want a party this year, so that was about it for celebrations, although I did bake a cake last weekend when we had a bunch of family coming for dinner.

Tonight I'm going to a dinner to celebrate my friend's 60th.  Can't quite get my head around the number of friends I have who are having these major birthdays, but that's okay.  I've always had friends considerably older than me...

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Books I've Read: Across a Broken Shore

I really enjoyed this book about a young woman defying her family's expectations and pursuing a career in medicine instead of going to the convent to become a nun.  Willa is a feisty heroine and the Depression-era setting is an interesting one, even if the desperation of that time doesn't always cut through.  The building of the Golden Gate Bridge and the dangers the men faced on it are well researched and described, as is the prejudice women doctors experienced.

At times I felt Willa's thoughts were repetitive and I got a little tired of hearing her bang on about how disappointed her family would be if she didn't go to the convent, and how she owed it to them because it was her fault her sister died before she had a chance to live.  But that's actually realistic, because who doesn't go over painful things in one's head over and over again?

As owners of a pub, Willa's family - large as it was - didn't not appear to be suffering as much from the depression as others, like the people living in the Hooverville camp near the beach.  I felt the book could have delved more deeply into the hardships of the Depression; there was never any real sense of desperation from any of the characters, even those living in the camp whose circumstances were desperate.  Perhaps Willa could see it, empathize with it, but not really understand it.

Overall, I enjoyed this one and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical settings and female characters bucking the expectations of the time.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this one in advance.

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

The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish–Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows—but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District.

Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Weekly Goals 17-6-19

I feel like a broken record because even though I did work on the book over the weekend, I still haven't written the ending.

I've thought about it.  I've tidied up a bunch of stuff in the middle and toward the beginning.  But I haven't managed to come up with an ending yet.  At least, not one that really works for me.

So this week my goal is to write something that resembles an ending.  Maybe once I get finished and send this out to some of my critique partners they will be able to tell me if I've got it right.

As far as other goals go, it's just the usual.  Gym, work, etc.  It's my son't birthday on Friday, so I will have to find him a present because he doesn't seem to have any idea what he wants this year.  Or if he wants a party.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 14-6-19

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

Once again, it has felt like a really long week and I am looking forward to a couple of days away from work in which I can read and write and get my house in order.

I am heading into the last week of the writing workshop I have been part of and have to supply a query with my pages this time.  Which means I need to write a query...  Haven't done that in a while!

Here's what I have come up with so far.

Seventeen-year-old Blue Lannigan has a plan.  It isn’t great, but it’s all he has: drop out of school, work full time, and the day he turns eighteen he’ll have saved enough to move out of his mother’s crappy apartment, taking his two younger brothers with him.

But when he comes home to find one of them bruised and bleeding (again), the other cowering in terror (again) and their mother drunk off her ass, blaming all three of them for her tanked singing career (again), Blue decides they can’t wait any longer to leave.

Without anywhere to go, they hole up in one of the summer houses at the lake -- just until they can figure out what to do next. But when the owner of the house shows up unexpectedly, things get more complicated.  Especially when Blue realizes the unconscious woman he’s tied up on the couch isn’t a stranger after all.

Standing Too Close is a 69,000 word contemporary YA novel about loyalty, love and family.  

Would you want to read that book?  I have until Sunday to turn this in, so if you have any suggestions on how to make it better, let me know.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Books I've Read: Better Than Perfect

I really didn't enjoy this book much, which is a shame, because I really liked the author's previous novel, Maybe One Day. It's always a disappointment when that happens...

The book follows Juliet, a high-school senior whose perfect life falls apart when her parents split up and her mother falls apart.  As she tries to hold herself and her life together, she begins to realize that maybe things weren't as perfect as she first thought.

My biggest problem with this book was the protagonist.  I just didn't like her.  She's shallow and self-centered and particularly lacking in any self-awareness.  She seems to do things just because she feels she has to, not because she actually wants to.  And that includes her relationship with boyfriend Jason (who is so painfully boring and underwritten as a character I couldn't understand what she ever saw in him).

When she meets Declan, sparks fly, yet she doesn't even consider that maybe that's a sign that she needs someone different in her life, someone who doesn't obsess over whether or not she's done her Latin homework.  But when Declan's sister insists she join their band, Juliet takes the plunge.  Briefly.

Even though she enjoys being in the band and spending time with people who are very different to the ones she usually surrounds herself with, she quits at the first sign of trouble and represses the desire she has to do something different - and maybe someone different too.

It's not until Juliet actually gets everything she thinks she wants that she begins to wonder why she still feels unfulfilled.  And that's the point where the book begins to get interesting.  Unfortunately, it's too late and many readers probably will have given up on the book long before that moment comes.

So unfortunately, this isn't one I'd recommend.

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

Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Weekly Goals 10-6-19

It feels like I've had the same goal for many weeks now: finish the new book.  

And that's my goal this week too.  Even though I still haven't come up with an ending that really resonates with me.  Remind me to never leave a book sitting on my hard drive without at least a sketched in ending, please...  This is driving me crazy.

I've been filling in the middle of the book a little more, hoping that something there will lead me to an ending, but so far that hasn't helped a lot.  But at least I'm writing, right?

I didn't make it to the gym at all last week because work was so busy, so this week I'm determined to make it at least four times.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 7, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 7-6-19

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

With the long weekend, this week has been particularly crazy at work and I'm grateful for a couple of days to catch my breath and catch up on other things - like writing.

I was accepted into a first five pages writing workshop that runs over three weeks, so I need to do some work on my entry.  I'm workshopping the new book, the one that I can't seem to finish.  I'm hoping that something someone says about the first five pages might spark something for the ending.

Which isn't to say I don't have a few ideas for the ending.  I just haven't written them yet.  Maybe this weekend might be the time to try one of them out.

It's been so buys at work this week I didn't make it to the gym at all, so the other thing I need to do this weekend is catch up on some exercise.  And sleep.  Sleep would be good.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Insecure Writers Support Group 5-6-19

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This month's question is a goodie:  Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

For me, I love to write YA contemporary.  Even when I try to write for adults, I almost always end up focusing on something from the characters' pasts, from their teenage years, that made them the people they are today.  And the story ends up being YA, not adult.  It's happened more than once...

I think the teenage years are the most important years of your life. This is the period in which you become the person you end up being. You try on personalities, develop tastes, become engaged with the moral and idealogical tenets that will guide your life. It's a time where you develop relationships outside your own family and maybe even fall in love for the first time.

It's a confusing, messy time and any little event can invoke a massive emotional response. Some people change friends like they would their socks, trying different social groups for size. Cliques form and dissolve, bullying is rampant and acts of utter cruelty can be committed.  Friendships that may once have felt like they would last forever dissolve or change as people discover new things about themselves and others around them.

As a writer, this is dynamic stuff, and I can't get enough of exploring it. Teens are such a contradictory mixture of child and adult, it's a compelling voice to play with. There are so many opportunities to write about things that are really important without getting preachy or didactic. I love writing about the early, clumsy attempts at adult relationships, about the changing dynamic of families as children become their own people. I love it when my characters make the right decision at a crucial moment, but like it even more when, like teenagers do so often, they make the wrong one.

So, while I love adult literature, and read it, I write YA for the dynamism, excitement and wonder of growing up. For the voice that hasn't yet been ground down by the daily grind, for the hopefulness and idealism of youth, and for the opportunity to discover the moments that change you forever.

The story I'm working on now is so fascinating to me because the 17-year-old MC is utterly convinced he's right and so single-minded about what he is doing, he can't see that there are other options available to him.  By the end of the book everything has changed for him, and everything he thought he knew has been proven untrue, everything he has been working for has been taken away from him.  It's an interesting challenge to find a way for him to move on with his life with all this stripped away.

What is your favorite genre to write? And why?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Weekly Goals 3-6-19

With the long holiday weekend, I actually managed to get some writing done.  And with the extra day today, I hope to get through some more.  I realized I made a small logic mistake at one point, so will need to go back and fix the things that effects.  But I still don't know how to end the book. I have a few ideas, but I'm not sure any of them are going to work.  I guess I need to try them and see...

Other things I'm going to do with my extra day off are some cooking so I have meals ready when I get home from work during the rest of the week, going to the gym, laundry and reading.  I love long weekends!

And for the rest of the week I plan to write more, go to they gym as often as I can and try to get through all the work I need to do as efficiently as possible.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 31-5-19

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?

Extra long weekend!

It's the Queen's Birthday long weekend this weekend, so to make it even longer, I have taken the day off today so I have four days to relax and enjoy myself.  We're not going away or anything, but just having those couple of extra days is going to be very nice.  I may even get some writing done!

I'm definitely going to do some reading.  I got two books in the mail this week that I've been wanting to read - sequels to a book I loved when I was younger and which I didn't know existed - and I'm looking forward to settling in with those.

My son has a teacher only day today, so he's also got an extra long weekend ahead.  I think we'll go out to lunch and to a movie this afternoon.  Because we can...

What luxury!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Books I've Read: Stormrise

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know I rarely read fantasy.  But I received an ARC of this book from Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review, so I sat down and read the whole thing in a single day.

Stormrise is about a young woman called Rain.  Her father has trained her to be a fierce Neshu warrior despite the fact that as a girl her future is to be married off to a stranger in exchange for a dowry.

When the country is invaded and the king calls for one man from every family to join the army, rather than allowing her disabled twin brother to join and no doubt be killed, Rain runs away and joins up under his name.

Her Neshu training quickly makes her stand out and she is selected to join an elite Neshu fighting group.  Each day she is forced to prove herself to the men in her team, all the while finding new and cunning ways to disguise her identity as a girl.

Before leaving for the army, Rain visited a strange apothecary and was given a powder made from dragon parts that would keep her menses away.  Unfortunately one of the potion's side affects is that she hears the voices of dragons, long believed to be extinct or a thing of legend, calling to her in her head.

When the voices tell her the war will be lost unless the dragons are awoken, Rain must decide whether she believes in dragons, and if she can trust these dangerous beasts with the lives and land she loves.

There is a lot to enjoy in this book.  Rain is a feisty, determined heroine, but not a thoughtful one.  I was surprised at the speed with which she decided to leave home and pose as a man to join the army when in her land such a thing is a crime, punishable by death.  In many circumstances she acted impulsively, not giving the situations the consideration they probably deserved.  Especially when she is also hiding the fact she is a girl.

There is also surprisingly little world-building for a fantasy novel.  I never felt like I didn't understand the world the book is set in, but there was very little description to make the setting vivid and alive.

I enjoyed this book as something of a change from what I usually tend to read, but didn't find it very different from most other fantasy books I've read over the years.  Which is why I don't really read fantasy books and probably won't read another one for a few years.

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

A combat warrior will risk everything to awaken the dragons and save her kingdom in Jillian Boehme's epic YA Fantasy debut, Stormrise, inspired by Twelfth Night and perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce.

If Rain weren’t a girl, she would be respected as a Neshu combat master. Instead, her gender dooms her to a colorless future. When an army of nomads invades her kingdom, and a draft forces every household to send one man to fight, Rain takes her chance to seize the life she wants.

Knowing she’ll be killed if she’s discovered, Rain purchases powder made from dragon magic that enables her to disguise herself as a boy. Then she hurries to the war camps, where she excels in her training—and wrestles with the voice that has taken shape inside her head. The voice of a dragon she never truly believed existed.

As war looms and Rain is enlisted into an elite, secret unit tasked with rescuing the High King, she begins to realize this dragon tincture may hold the key to her kingdom’s victory. For the dragons that once guarded her land have slumbered for centuries . . . and someone must awaken them to fight once more.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Weekly Goals 27-5-19

I was particularly slack this weekend and didn't do any writing.  Somehow all my time seemed to get taken up doing other things.

So this week, I need to get my ass into gear and actually do some writing.  This book is not going to finish itself!

I also have some critique work to do for Operation Awesome, and I need to plan some posts for the next few weeks there too.

I'm also trying to find a short story to submit to a magazine.  It's tricky because it has to be exactly 2000 words (or as close to as possible) and most of my short stories are either really short 1000 word or under ones, or much longer.  But I'm sure there's one somewhere that will fit the bill, or will with a little bit of tweaking.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 24-5-19

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's been one of those really long, draggy weeks that felt like it would never end, but finally it has.

I got a little writing done, both actual progress on the new book and editing on the one I think may be my next submission.  I also dragged out a few of my old short stories to take a look at because I came across a place to submit some of those too.

Over the weekend I'm going to a rehearsal of a very exciting, new interactive theatre piece which will be opening in June.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it all works!

I plan to do some serious sleeping too.  I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I'm constantly exhausted.

What are you celebrating this week?