Sunday, September 29, 2019

Weekly Goals 30-9-19

This week is going to be crazy so I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to actually achieve anything major as far as writing goes.  I have a lot of revising to do after getting notes from beta readers, but until I've had time to think through how to make everything work, I'm not going to touch either of those projects.

So right now I'm working to cut 1,000 words out of another book so it fits the word limit for a particular publisher.  It's not difficult work, so it's something I can do while the back of my brain ticks along thinking about the other books and how they can be fixed.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 27-9-19

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!

And oh boy do I need it!

It has been an insane week.  And next week looks like it will be similar, with the addition of two days in Auckland at a conference.  Plus the kids are on vacation from school for two weeks.  I will have to try to take a couple of days off in that second week to hang out with them.

On the plus side, since the kids are on vacation, they can do all the housework for the next couple of weeks.  While I go to the movies or lounge in the sun with a book.  A girl can dream, right?

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Books I've Read: Birthday

Eric and Morgan were born on the same day, their parents bonding over their births after being trapped in the hospital for three days by a freak snowstorm. The have been best friends since birth and have always celebrated their birthdays together (apart from the year they both had chicken pox).

The book opens on the boys’ thirteenth birthday which they are celebrating at a water park. It’s the first birthday Morgan has celebrated since his mother’s death and her cake baking skills are not the only thing he misses. For a long time Morgan has felt different, and he’s finally figured out why: he’s actually a girl. While shrieking their way down a waterslide, Morgan tries to tell Eric this, but Eric doesn’t hear him.

The book follows this pair through their next five birthdays as they grow increasingly further apart.  Morgan struggles with his identity, even returning to the football team for a period, bulking up and trying to embrace the masculinity.  It keeps his father happy and gives him more time with Eric who stuck with football even after Morgan quit.

Eric has his own struggles.  His father is an overbearing bully whose narrow world-view forces both his older brothers to leave home and not return, leaving Eric and his mother to bear the brunt of his expectations.  And Eric is confused about his own feelings, especially after a night where he and Morgan kiss and it feels just like kissing a girl.

As Eric and Morgan grow up over the course of the book, Eric learns about who he really is, and Morgan makes the decision to stop living a lie and to live her life as the woman she knows she really is.

I really loved the way this book was structured, each chapter taking place on the birthday the two MCs share and following each of them through their days. It was an excellent way to show how they grow and change over the course of a year without actually having to see everything that happens to them over each twelve-month period.  The way their relationship twisted and changed over the years was very real, as was the strong thread that constantly held them together despite the challenges.

I would definitely recommend this one.

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

Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story by award-winning author Meredith Russo!

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Weekly Goals: 23-9-19

I still haven't even finished reading through all the notes I got back from a CP on SHOOK, so I need to keep working through those this week.

Then I need to decide if there's actually any point in keeping on struggling with that story.  I've been working on it forever (it feels like) and never seems to quite get there.  But maybe it just needs to be left to rest for a few weeks again.

And then there's still that ending for Standing too Close that needs to be written....  And revisions on the silly little romance novel to be done.  Not to mention all the other characters and situations I have crawling around my skull right now, just waiting to be allowed out to play.

I think I need to take six months off to write.  Then I might actually get somewhere with all this.

Unfortunately we'd all starve if I did that.  So I will just have to try and scratch up as much time as I can to do all these things.

Which isn't going to happen this week.  I have two evenings in which my elder son has music performances, and one on which my younger son and I are going to his school production.  So there's not going to be any evening writing time for me this week.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 20-9-19

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?


Yes, it has been another crazy busy week at work so I am grateful for the weekend.  Not that it's going to be a quiet, relaxing weekend.  It's my father-in-law's birthday so we have a pot-luck lunch with the family on Saturday.  I've made the birthday cake.  I didn't have quite enough icing sugar to make the frosting, so will have to try and make an emergency dash to finish that before lunchtime.

On Sunday my elder son and I are going up the coast to see friend and go to a concert.  It's a Chinese pianist and should be good.  We've been to these before and they always have been in the past.

So not a lot of time for rest and relaxation.  Or for cleaning the house or writing or any of the other things I like to do over the weekend.  But it should all be fun.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Books I've Read: Six Goodbyes We Never Said

There is a lot to like about this book. Both the main characters are truly broken people- and for good reason. Their ways of dealing with their individual losses are very different, and I really appreciated this because everyone deals with things in their own ways.

I just wish the two character voices were more distinctive. Because they were both grieving for lost parents and dealing with complex mental health issues, it was difficult to know who we were following section to section. It got easier toward the end once we knew all the supporting characters and who was important in whose life, but early on, I became confused.

It was also difficult to actually like Naima. I feel like this was intentional, but it's difficult to get into a story when you really wish the MC would fall into a ditch so you didn't need to listen to her whining for a while.

That said, I think the portrayals of the various different coping mechanisms and quirks each of the characters had were very realistic. I also really liked that the adult characters around these broken people let them be themselves and find their own ways to deal with their various issues. They were all supportive and present and loving, but didn't go over the top in trying to 'cure' the kids in their care.

So while I didn't love this one, I did like aspects of it.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read it before release.

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

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It's causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

Candace Ganger's Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekly Goals 16-9-19

I have my fingers crossed this week isn't going to be as nuts at work as last week was!

I have revision notes to go through on two books now, so that will have to be done this week.  And I'm still 50 pages from the end of my beta-read, so that also needs to be finished. Plus I agreed to look over a friend's query, synopsis and first pages for a contest, so that will be incoming this week too.

The priority is to finish the beta-read.  Then the other reading for a friend, then getting through all the revision notes and deciding what to do with them all.  I feel like there is a lot of revision in my future...  Which seems to be a recurring theme in my life.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, September 13, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things: 13-9-19

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!

I was expecting things to be a little quieter at work this week, but I have been stupidly busy and am looking forward to having some time this weekend to get some of the things I want to do, done.  I have not been doing any of the writing I want to do, and haven't even managed to get through the beta -read I'm supposed to be doing.  

So that's what the weekend is going to be about.  When I'm not dealing with the usual chores.  And my son's 15th birthday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Books I've Loved: Road Ends

I have binge-read all of Mary Lawson's books over the last couple of weeks.  I read Crow Lake many years ago and it became one of my all-time favourite novels.  After re-reading it a couple of weeks ago, I decided to see if Mary Lawson had written anything else, and ordered her other two books, both of which I read over the weekend.

Road Ends is my least favourite of the three, but still a powerful and engaging read.  Like all Lawson's books, it is set in a remote Ontario town called Struan.  There are even cameos from a couple of characters from Crow Lake in there, which I enjoyed seeing.

The book is about a family with eight sons and one daughter.  The father is remote and busy, shut away in his study when he is home and leaving the raising of all these kids largely to his only daughter since his wife seems only to be interested in children while they are still babies.

So when Megan, at the age of 21, decides it's time to leave home, it's inevitable that things might start to go wrong.

The story is told from three points of view: Tom, the eldest son, Megan and Edward, the father.  Tom and Megan's sections are told in third person while Edward's are in first person, almost like a journal he's writing for himself.

Tom is home again at the age of 25, dealing with a tragedy that he feels at least partly responsible for.   He's shut himself off from the world, not speaking or engaging with anyone any more than he has to and keeps to a strict, unalterable routine to keep his world within the boundaries he can cope with.

Yet as things begin to spiral out of control at home, Tom finds himself having to deal with more and more and his carefully built walls begin to crumble, allowing the rest of the world to begin creeping in.

Meanwhile, Megan has moved to London which, after the smallness of Struan is something of a culture shock.  Yet, ever practical and pragmatic, she manages to find work she loves and build a life for herself.  She misses her family, but revels in not having to be responsible for them anymore.

Edward, locked in his study, is largely unaware of the chaos reigning outside the door.  The occasional rowdy fight between his sons drags him away from his reading and he emerges to yell at them, something he regrets afterward because it reminds him of his own father, a brutal man whose shadow he has never really managed to escape.

The emotional and physical isolation of these characters is almost painful to read.  But their eventual growth as they begin to dig themselves out from the holes they have been hiding in is worth the pain.

The ending was disappointing though.  And I think that's why it isn't my favourite of the three novels by this author.  The explanation for the mother's fading from the world didn't ring entirely true to me, and both Megan and Tom disappointed me.  They both had other choices they could have made in the situation, although I do sort of understand why they acted the way they did.  I just wished it could have been different.

But overall, this is another beautiful book by Mary Lawson that illustrates the harshness and isolation and the wild, untamed beauty of small communities in the North of Canada.

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

Mary Lawson’s beloved novels, Crow Lake and The Other Side of the Bridge, have delighted legions of readers around the world. The fictional, northern Ontario town of Struan, buried in the winter snows, is the vivid backdrop to her breathtaking new novel.

Roads End brings us a family unravelling in the aftermath of tragedy: Edward Cartwright, struggling to escape the legacy of a violent past; Emily, his wife, cloistered in her room with yet another new baby, increasingly unaware of events outside the bedroom door; Tom, their eldest son, twenty-five years old but home again, unable to come to terms with the death of a friend; and capable, formidable Megan, the sole daughter in a household of eight sons, who for years held the family together but has finally broken free and gone to England, to try to make a life of her own.

Roads End is Mary Lawson at her best. In this masterful, enthralling, tender novel, which ranges from the Ontario silver rush of the early 1900s to swinging London in the 1960s, she gently reveals the intricacies and anguish of family life, the push and pull of responsibility and individual desire, the way we can face tragedy, and in time, hope to start again.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Weekly Goals: 9-9-19

I've gone back to Standing Too Close, and I think I have at least the first part of an ending now.  And once I start writing it, I'm hopeful the rest will fall into place.  I also have a new piece I want to add in the middle because I feel like something important to the story happens too quickly to be wholly believable.  Adding this little bit will help, I hope...

And I'm reading for a friend, so that will have to take priority this week.  But I will get there.  Eventually.

And that's about it for goals this week.  Keeping them small because I am foreseeing a busy week at work ahead.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 6-9-19

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!

It has been a really long week at work and I'm thrilled that it's now the weekend.  I have books to read, writing to do, critiquing to do and the usual household chores.  

It's going to be great!

And that's about it...  Hope you all have a great weekend too!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Books I've Read: Pulp

Another fascinating read from Robin Talley.  And this one ambitiously weaves together two stories set in two different eras, both exploring what it's like to navigate life as a girl who likes girls.  And what a contrast it is!

In the present day, Abby is dealing with her life imploding.  Her parents can't stand to be in the same room as each other and the short break she thought she and her girlfriend were taking seems to be permanent.  Her schoolwork is starting to suffer, especially the major project she hasn't even come up with an idea for yet.  So when she discovers a pulp lesbian novel online, she's intrigued and decides she can write something similar, but inverting the tropes of the 1950s style.

In 1955 Janet and her best friend are in love, but have to keep their passion for one another a secret.  Especially when Marie gets a government job at a time when McCarthy's witch-hunts were not just about uncovering Communists.  Unable to live out loud, Janet becomes obsessed with novels about women loving women, even travelling to remote suburbs to trawl through drugstore bookshelves for new volumes.

As Abby's obsession with an author known as Marian Love grows, the lives of these two women, more than sixty years apart, become entangled in a way neither would ever have believed was possible.

I really enjoyed this side-by-side look at different eras.  I knew we'd come a long way, but this really highlights it.  It also gives a real sense of the terror under which lesbians of the fifties were forced to live.  And how a single word or comment could be enough to ruin someone's life and career forever.

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

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.

Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.

In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Weekly Goals 2-9-19

I just realized I never wrote these yesterday!  How remiss of me...  I must have been basking in the relaxation of having had an entire weekend (almost) on my own!

So anyway....  Goals for this week.  I'm still working on that stupid ending for Standing too Close.  I think I'm getting there this time though.  Fingers crossed!

Just got back notes on the romance novel, so once I've had a bash at that ending, I will go back to that one and try to fix any issues there.  I haven't read all the notes yet, but I imagine there will be some.  There are always notes.

And that's about it for this week.  Other than work of course, and working out to get rid of the burger butt from all the burgers I ate over the burger festival.

What are your goals this week?