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?