Thursday, July 30, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 31-7-15

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 main thing?  I actually hit the 30K I pledged to do for Camp NaNo!  On Monday I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it, but a bit plot twist happened on Tuesday, and the rest of the week kind of wrote itself.  I'm pretty close to the end of the book now, so I think I should be done with the draft within the next 3 weeks - assuming I can keep up the pace.  

Unfortunately I think the book is pretty terrible.  But I almost always do when I finish a draft.  And at least I have something terrible to work with.  Just not for a while.  Once I finish this draft, I HAVE to start revising last year's NaNo book.   Then it will probably be November, and time to write another NaNo book (I have an idea for it already), so this book I'm almost finished probably won't get revised until next year.

I've been enjoying the film festival.  So far my highlight has been a film called Listen to Me Marlon, a documentary about Marlon Brando using his own words to tell the story.  It was fascinating.  More films tonight and tomorrow night, plus I'm on my work's film quiz team tomorrow.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Books I've Loved - Every Day

This is a really interesting book and I read it in one sitting, unable to put it down.  It's hard to describe a story where the protagonist is as ethereal as A, but even though A has no body of his /her own, A has a distinct personality.  A also has a great sense of humor which I guess you have to have when you don't know day to day who you're going to wake up as.

A is resilient enough to survive this upheaval and for the most part doesn't cary parts of previous lives on to the next body.  But Rhiannon is different, and watching A negotiate a crush while in different bodies is compelling stuff.

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

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekly Goals 27-7-15

This week is all about trying to get to that 30K I pledged to complete during Camp NaNo.  I'm not far off (sitting at 22500 words written), and in a regular week I wouldn't be at all concerned about getting through the remaining 7500.  But it's a film festival week and I have two evenings I will be out at films.

Luckily there's no big work things happening this week (unless you count re-arranging our whole office to fit in a bunch of new people who are moving over from another organization).

I think I'll finish the month about 3K shy of my 30K goal.  Which is still good, and I'm pleased I challenged myself to do it, but still a little disappointed not to have made the mark.  On the plus side, I'm not that far from finishing the whole book, which was the point of doing this in the first place.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 24-7-15

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 Film Festival started today!  It means no sleep and little writing time, but lots of good movies.  I just went to the opening night and saw a rather fantastic, extremely odd film called The Lobster.  Go and see it if you get a chance!

My WIP is going well.  With 7 days of Camp NaNo left, I have 9500 words or so left to write.  Very possible under normal circumstances, but with films most nights, I may not quite make it.  I'm anticipating being a couple of thousand words shy on July 31, but I'm not that worried because I'm heading toward the end of the book and things seem to be going okay.  There will be lots of revising happening later, but at least I'll have something to revise!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Books I've Loved: Paperweight

This is one of those books that I couldn't put down. It's so raw and honest and real. The main character isn't always likable, but she's in the midst of an eating disorder and people in that head space often aren't the most likable people. They're not themselves at that time. Stevie is in that dark place for a number of reasons and they all make sense. Even her lying about them makes sense.

I cried reading this. On the bus. And I'm not an easy crier…

If you don't mind difficult subject matter and some heart-wrenching, this book is definitely worth reading.

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

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

In this emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut, Meg Haston delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, while posing the question: Why are some consumed by their illness while others embark on a path toward recovery?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 17-7-15

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 have managed to get some writing done.  Not as much as I might have liked, but some.  I'm at just under 14K for the month which is behind where I want to be, but I hope to get another chunk written over the weekend.  The book is sitting around the 42K mark, which is probably close to 2/3 of the way done.  I even mapped out an ending the other day.  So I just need to get there now.

I had the day off work today to spend with the kids since it's the last day of their vacation. I wound up with my two plus a friend for each and took them to the water slides.  Everyone had fun and I didn't lose any kids (permanently  - there were a few periods I couldn't find one or two of them).  I enjoyed it, but I have a really big event at work on Monday and can't help worrying about that when I'm not there.  I hope I don't show up on Monday to discover a huge pile of crap I have to clean up.

Lots of housework and stuff to do over the weekend because the film festival starts on Thursday and once that hits, everything else goes on the back burner until it's over.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mid-year check in

I just realized half the year has drifted by and I haven't re-looked at the goals I set for myself way back in January.  So now is probably the time to do that.  Here's the letter I wrote myself six and a bit months back.  Let's see how I'm going with everything….

Dear Me,

Before I go ahead and outline my plans for the year ahead, I feel like I need to look back on the year that has just been.  It felt like a hard year, and there was so much I didn’t enjoy about 2014, yet in many ways it has been the most successful year I’ve had in a long time.  I think my dissatisfaction was largely because I really didn’t enjoy the job I had for much of the year.  It was tiring and demanding and very unsatisfying and that left me so drained that it was hard to motivate myself to write at the end of every day.  So I haven’t produced the amount of work I’m used to producing in a year.

But at the same time, 2014 was the year my first novel was published and the year I got an agent.  And right at the end of the year, I got a new job that is already making me so much happier than my old one.

Going into 2015, I’m excited about my new job.  It’s going to be challenging, but I think I’m going to enjoy that.  I’ve been doing the same thing for so long, it’s refreshing to be going into a job where I’ll have new responsibilities and a variety of different people to work with throughout the year, as well as a variety of different tasks and responsibilities.

Still loving the new job.  It's busy and challenging, but I'm learning a whole lot and I love being at the other end of the film production chain.

With weekends and evenings free (for the first time in 23 years), I plan to set myself a regular writing schedule, with enough flexibility that I can still go out every now and then without feeling guilty about missing a writing day.  I figure a 5-day a week schedule will work because at the speed I generally write, I can guarantee 7500 – 10 000 words a week while drafting.  Revising is usually a lot slower, but I still usually manage a chapter or two a night, depending on how much rewriting and adding new scenes is needed. 

This is working for the most part.  I have had to travel for work more than I expected (which is actually really fun), and I'm often quite drained by the end of the day, but I've been managing a pretty solid 1K - 1.5K most nights, and have enjoyed having a couple of nights free to do other things.

I’m still drafting my NaNo novel, but it’s almost finished. It’s going to need a lot of revising because it’s really just a bare bones draft and so much of the story and characters have come into focus as I’ve written the book.  And the story has taken me in some interesting and unexpected directions as I’ve written it.  Once the draft is done, I’m going to leave it for a few weeks before diving into revisions.

Well, I did finish it….  I just haven't revised yet.  I ended up doing some rewriting on STUMPED for my agent and then got slam-dunked by a couple of other ideas.  But it's on the list to be revised.  As soon as I finish the first draft of the thing I'm working on now.

While I let the NaNo book settle, I plan to finish the NA I’ve been working on off and on for the last year or so.  It doesn’t need a ton of work since most of it is done, but it needs some polishing and my CP’s eagle eye over it before I will feel comfortable sending it out into the world.

I did this too, but realized pretty quickly that it doesn't work the way I've written it.  I think I'm going to go back to the original and see if I can tighten it up as the dual POV YA it started its life as.  I just need to find the time to do it.

So the plan for this year is to finish the NA and this year’s NaNo book, plus I have another story idea I’m excited to write.  Once the other two are done, I’ll write this one (it’s also an NA story, I think…)

No idea what the other NA story might have been… Oh, actually maybe I do.  It's still hanging around in there somewhere.  I have far too many great stories and characters hanging out in my head.  I need about 40 hours a day to have the time to do everything I have to do and to write all these books.

Another reason my productivity has been low in 2014 is that I’ve had other things going on. An Unstill Life published in January and keeping up with publicizing it has taken up quite a bit of my already limited writing time.  I have also been doing revisions on another book so my agent can take it out on submission early this year.  

In February my publisher closed so An Unstill Life is no longer published.  On the plus side, no more time being taken up with promotion etc.  But on the bad side, I don't have a published book anymore…  My agent and I are working on it along with the other books on submission.

I’ve found switching focus between projects is challenging for me and I have trunked a novel this year because somehow, in between editing and publicity and revising other things, I lost what I was trying to do with the book.  I need to get over this problem because if I’m going to have a writing career, this is going to happen a lot.  There will always be times when a WIP has to be dropped for edits or revisions, and I need to be able to pick back up without feeling lost in my text.  I’m not sure quite how to do this….

Again, a work in progress.  I have had to do this already this year, and I think I will probably have to again.  Fingers crossed I can make it work.

In 2014 I didn’t manage to be as present for my crit group as I wanted to be.  This year I will endeavor to be more regular with my critiques.  I love this group and they are a huge part of my writing journey, so I need to give them the same attention they give me.

Working on it.  I have been better this year, but not as fantastic as I want to be.  More work needed here.

I didn’t manage to lose any weight in 2014, so once again I’ll list it in my ‘to-dos’ for 2015.  I have a plan for regular trips to the gym and exercise during lunch-breaks, not to mention a diet plan I hope to have the will power to stick to.  I’ve managed to keep my weight the same over the last few years because my job has been quite physical, with a lot of time on my feet.  Now that my job is mostly sedentary, and the bus takes me pretty much right there, I need to really focus on diet and exercise if I don’t want to blow up like a balloon.

Haven't lost any weight, but I don't think I've gained any either, which is kind of a miracle.  I tend to finish work too late most days to go to the gym after work, and before work is writing time.  I've been going one or two times a week.  I need to make that three, but not quite sure how.

And that’s about it for 2015.  I’m sure things will come up that I’m not expecting, and some will be wonderful and others less so…  I’ll check in mid-year to see how things are tracking.

Tracking okay…  Not brilliantly, but okay.  I'm satisfied with my performance.  Let's see if I can make it to ecstatic before the year's end.

How are you getting on with your yearly goals?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekly Goals 13-7-15

This week has to be all about writing and writing a lot.  I just hit the 40K mark on my MS which feels like a major milestone.  I also figured out where the book is going from here which is great.   I also realized I need another character which is somewhat unexpected.  Not entirely unwelcome, but not what I had planned.  But never mind. My stories often end up going places I never expected them to go and this one has certainly had a lot of surprises in it.

If I'm going to hit my 30K NaNo goal (and yes, I revised it down from 40K because I knew I'd never get there), I need to write at least 1500 words a day every day this week.  I'll be out of town on Monday, and the Film Festival opening is on Thursday.  From then my writing time will get tight because I have tickets to movies almost every night.  The nights I don't, I will have to try and write 2K to keep up.

It'll be tight, but I think I can do it.

Sleep?  Who needs sleep?

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 10-7-15

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?

Can I celebrate that it's over?  It's been one of those long weeks.  I'm not sure why, but every day felt like it was longer than a regular day.  Maybe because there has been a massive cold snap across the country and every day this week has been closer and wetter and more miserable than the last.  Maybe just because it's the middle of the year.

I haven't written as much as I'd hoped this week.  I plan to get some done over the weekend, and hopefully most of next week, but I've pretty much given up on reaching my 40K Camp NaNo target already.  I'm behind, and once it hits July 23rd and the Film Festival starts, my writing time will be virtually non-existent until the second week of August.  So unless I pull a miracle out of my butt and manage to write 10K this weekend (not likely), I doubt I'll make 40K.  Maybe 30K

The first week of the kids' vacation has gone smoothly.  Let's hope next week goes as well.

Now, I'm going to go and drink a big glass of red wine because I feel like I deserve it.  Then I'll think hard about writing.  And probably drinking another glass of red.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Books I've Loved: Lies We Tell Ourselves

This is a really exciting book.  It's based on historical fact and is eye-opening in the way it brings to life just how difficult it must have been for those kids who were brave enough to be the first black kids in white schools.

Told in alternating perspectives to show both the black and the white experience of integration, the book manages to add in another layer as well when the black girl, Sarah, and he white girl, Julie begin to form a friendship that grows into something more than just a friendship.

On paper it sounds like there could be too many issues dealt with in a single book, but the different strands work well together.  It's not an easy read because some of the indignities Sarah faces are so awful it's hard not to put the book down.

This is a book that made me think a lot and feel a lot.  And not always good thoughts or feelings either. But sometimes the best books are the ones that make you a little bit uncomfortable and this is definitely one of those books.

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

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal."

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things 3-7-15

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've chugged on past the 30K mark in the WIP.  I feel like I've written about 5 chapters of stuff I will end up cutting later, or trying to weave in other places, but at least I've written it and have my characters' reasons for being where they are documented.  First drafts are messy like that.  And now I can move on and introduce the new character who is going to change everything between the two of them.

It's been a long week at work and I've been constantly confused about what day it is.  On Tuesday I was sure it was Wednesday, and yesterday I was certain (and probably wishful) that it was Friday.  So very glad it really is Friday now!

The kids are off school for two weeks now, so between work and keeping them busy and entertained, I'm going to have my hands full.  Fingers crossed I can keep up the pace on the WIP over this period because I've committed to writing 40K for Camp NaNoWriMo.  Eeeek!

Why is it as soon as you've committed to writing something, a better idea pops into your mind?  It always happens to me.  I have so many ideas for books squirreling around my skull, I'd need to write 24 hours a day to get them all down.  And I bet as soon as I started, the ideas would stop being so exciting.  I just scribble them all into my notebook and let them simmer while I work on the current story.  Whichever won't let me alone when I'm done will probably be the next project.  

Although I do have 3 books written than are crying out to be revised and polished. I always hate the idea of revising so much.  Once I'm in there doing it, it's never that bad, but thinking about doing it….Well, I'd rather write a new book.

What are you celebrating this week?