Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Books I've Read: How it Feels To Fly

This is a book about body image and anxiety and ballet and treatment.  I enjoyed it, although I doubt there is really any kind of treatment center that works the way the center in the book does….  But I'm prepared to suspend disbelief on that one because it works for the story.  Besides, there are all sorts of kooks out there claiming to be doctors or healers of some type, and just as many people desperate enough to believe in the miracles they claim.

Anyway…  Sam is a dancer, and like almost every dancer I've ever met, she's driven, neurotic and obsessed with her weight.  Puberty has not been kind to Sam, and her adult body doesn't conform to the ballet aesthetic.  No amount of dieting is going to get rid of her curves.  But she - and her mother, a former ballerina - don't want to believe that.  So Sam just becomes more and more self-conscious about what she looks like, more and more anxious about what people are thinking when they look at her.

And it's this anxiety, when it manifests in full-blown panic attacks, that lands her in the residential treatment center for the summer.  Run by a single psychologist, with help from a couple of college students, the center is for high-performers who are dealing with some kind of issue.  Like Sam's body-image issues.

Over the course of the book, we follow Sam through treatment, navigate her rocky-at-first relationships with the other campers, and watch her burgeoning romance with Andrew, one of the college student counsellors.

Despite my suspicions that the treatment and the centre are not at all based on reality, I found Sam's emotions and reactions to be authentic and I enjoyed watching her learn and grow as she crawled out from under her mother's expectations and figured out how to be herself.

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

The movement is all that matters.

For as long as Samantha can remember, she’s wanted to be a professional ballerina. She’s lived for perfect pirouettes, sky-high extensions, and soaring leaps across the stage. Then her body betrayed her.

The change was gradual. Stealthy.

Failed diets. Disapproving looks. Whispers behind her back. The result: crippling anxiety about her appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope.

What I really need is a whole new body.

Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weekly Goals 27-2-17

I didn't get through nearly as much work last week as I had hoped, so this week I have to try and get back on track.

I didn't exactly slack off last week.  I did a lot of writing-related work, but I just didn't work on my manuscript as much as I had planned.  But there is no point beating myself up about it.  I can only start afresh this week, and try to get through another 6-10 chapters.

What are your goals this week?  Do you beat yourself up when you don't reach them?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 24-2-17

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

So what am I celebrating this week?


It's been another busy week and I'm looking forward to the weekend.  Not that it's going to be much less busy.  We're getting ready to sell our house and need to do lots of cleaning and tidying and general sprucing up.  We also need to find a new house to buy, so I'm trying to figure out a schedule to make it to as many open homes as possible.

It wasn't as productive a week as I had hoped on the writing front.  I got distracted from actually working on my book by other things - all writing related, but not actually revising my book.  I will have to knuckle down a little more next week and get this thing done.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Books I've Read: Lily and the Octopus

I'm not a dog-lover, so let's get this out of the way at the start.  I'm a cat person, although we don't have a cat at the moment.  But I really enjoyed this book for its blending of reality and magical realism.

Ted's relationship with Lily is vividly evoked.  He talks to her and believes she talks back to him.  They had regular routines, games nights, outings and special meals they share.  Lily is Ted's world.

So when Lily gets sick, Ted's life starts to spiral out of control.  He's unable and unwilling to face Lily's illness, something that manifests in Ted's mind as a living octopus taking over Lily's head.  His life is suddenly consumed by fighting this dangerous sea creature, to the point everything else is forgotten and abandoned.

As the battle gets more difficult, the lines between reality and fantasy become increasingly blurred and the adventures Ted, Lily and the octopus undertake become more and more surreal.

Anyone who has watched someone - or something - they love suffer will empathize with Ted.  He's not always the most likable character, but his devotion to Lily and his willingness to do absolutely anything for her is touching.

While things got a little too far into the magical and away from the realism for a few chapters toward the middle of the book, I really enjoyed this one for its unconventional way of exploring emotions we have all, or will, journey through at some time in our lives.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb (what there is of it…):

This is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.

For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekly Goals 20-2-17

I had an amazingly productive week last week, so hope to emulate that again this week.  I had aimed to revise through Chapter 16 that week, but I made it to Chapter Twenty.  So this week I hope to get to the end of the book.

For this round, anyway.

I'm trying a new approach to revision with this book, and am focusing only on plot and making sure things make sense this time through.  Then I'll do another pass for language and voice, and another for little niggly things like overused words and punctuation.

Then I think I'll be done!

Maybe, anyway…

What are your goals for this week?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 17-2-17

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

So what am I celebrating this week?

It's Friday!  

It has been a really long week and I have been stupidly busy at work.  I don't think I've left the office before 6 all week.  So looking forward to the weekend, even though that is looking pretty busy too.

I've made fantastic progress on revising my book and am just over halfway.  After making some serious changes to the beginning, there hasn't been a huge amount of rewriting or slashing and burning necessary since.  I've even liked a couple of chapters a lot!  There's still a long way to go of course, and who knows if that second half is going to be as problem-free as the first?

I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow which I'm stupidly excited about.  I think I might make a drastic change and do something entirely different.  It feels like something I need right now.

What are you celebrating this week?