Friday, November 29, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things: 29-11-19

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?

I won NaNo!

The book isn't finished yet, but I did manage to write over 50K in November.  And there's still another day left.  I don't think I'll make it to 60K, but I'll give it a shot.  I figure I have about another 15K to write before I can type 'the end'.

With November over, I only have another three weeks before the end of the working year.  I will have three weeks off work, half of which I'll spend at home getting the house tidy and clean for the new year, and the other half I'll spend at the beach house.  I can't wait!

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Books I've Read: 928 Miles From Home

This book turned out to be pitched much younger than most of the books I read, but I still enjoyed it to a degree.

Set in Nottingham, Calum lives on one of those grim English housing estates that are a staple in films by people like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.  His dad is away a lot, doing something that sounds barely legal, leaving  Calum home alone for much of the week.  It's no wonder Calum has big dreams, ones that take him away from this drab, boring existence.  So when a local arts center offers a screenwriting contest, Calum is instantly intrigued.

But screenwriting isn't something Calum can talk about with his mates at school.  And keeping tight with these guys is becoming harder and harder as they bully anyone they see as different and spout loud opinions about outsiders and immigrants.

When Calum's dad moves his new Polish girlfriend and her son into the flat, everything changes for Calum.  Suddenly he's living with an immigrant, and outsider, and how is he going to explain that to his friends.  Especially since Sergei has been the focus of their bullying since he arrived at school.

But after Calum is the victim of a hit-and-run at the start of the summer holidays, he and Sergei find themselves thrown together and Calum, who was badly injured in the accident, is forced to rely on him.  As they begin to understand one another, a tentative friendship begins to grow.

Yet even as they begin to open up to one another, Calum can't help feeling like Sergei is keeping something from him.  And when he discovers Sergei's secret, it's something he would never have expected.

I liked how authentic this book felt in terms of the world Calum resides in and the struggle he has just to keep living.  Poverty and neglect aren't sexy and they are presented here in a really raw and realistic way.  Calum's loneliness and the way he keeps himself hidden so no one will discover how much time he spends alone is very true to kids who find themselves in this situation.  His resourcefulness when it comes to scrounging up food for himself once what his father left for him is gone also feels very real.

Throughout the book we get little snippets of screenplays he's writing, usually in head rather than on paper.  These are naive, but again feel real to Calum's experience (or lack of it) and the difficult lessons he's learning about life as he navigates his way through it.

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

Fourteen year old Calum Brooks has big dreams. One day, he’ll escape this boring life and write movies, proper ones, with massive budgets and A-list stars.

For now though, he’s stuck coping alone while his dad works away, writing scripts in his head and trying to stay ‘in’ with his gang of mates at school, who don’t like new kids, especially foreign ones.

But when his father invites his new Polish girlfriend and her son, Sergei, to move in, Calum’s life is turned upside down. He’s actually sharing a room with ‘the enemy’! How’s he going to explain that to his mates?

Yet when Calum is knocked down in a hit and run and badly injures his leg, everything changes. Trapped at home, Calum and Sergei slowly start to understand each other, and even work together to investigate a series of break-ins at the local community centre.

But Calum can’t help feeling like Sergei’s hiding something. Is he really trying to help, or cover up his own involvement in the crime?

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Weekly Goals 25-11-19

I had another good writing weekend this weekend, and am definitely on track to get through my NaNo words by the end of November.  Especially since I have a couple of days off again at the end of the week.  I'm at the really juicy part of the story now too, so I'm looking forward to writing these next bits, even if they do make me cry - which they might.

So this week is all about getting to that 50K.  And finishing the book, if possible.  Although that might take a few more days than there are left in November.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 22-11-19

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?

A whole lot of writing!  I had two days off this week and spend both of them working on my NaNo project.  I got just shy of 11K written in those two days which puts me pretty much on track to finish on time.  And I have another two days off next week in which I hope to do the same amount, if possible.

Both the big projects I've been working on in my day job are now (almost) complete - all I have left to do is deliver the documents to the appropriate places when they get here from the printer.  This is a huge piece of work I've been doing since mid-June so getting it out the door is a huge relief.

And of course, the weekend is upon us.  And it looks like summer might be putting in an appearance this weekend.  I hope I get some time to sit out in the sun and read.  But writing has to come first.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Books I've Read: Ordinary Girls

I really enjoyed reading this book, but weirdly, when I was finished, I realized I couldn't tell you exactly what it was about.

It's the story of two sisters, Plum (short for Patience somehow) and Ginny.  They live a fairly chaotic life in a ramshackle house with their distracted, artistic mother.  The book follows Plum as she deals with her sister's increasing hysteria over getting into college and her own secret as she falls for a handsome jock.

It's written in a very humorous way and I enjoyed Plum's voice very much.  Much of what actually happens in the story is fairly absurd too, with the house they live in becoming as much a character as anyone else.

And to be honest, not much does actually happen.  But it doesn't matter because just being in Plum's company is enormous fun.  And seeing her world, through her eyes, is refreshing.  Just normal things like watching a basketball game on TV is different when seen through her unique lens.

So I'd recommend this to people who like quirky characters and amusing observations.  And probably to those who like classic literature too,  Both Ginny and Plum are big fans of those British classics and references to Jane Eyre and Jane Austen abound.  But that said, I don't think you would have to have read those books to understand this one, although I feel like you might enjoy it more...

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

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski, this heartfelt and humorous contemporary take on Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters—complete opposites—who discover the secrets they’ve been keeping make them more alike than they’d realized.

For two sisters as different as Plum and Ginny, getting on each other’s nerves is par for the course. But when the family’s finances hit a snag, sending chaos through the house in a way only characters from a Jane Austen novel could understand, the two drift apart like they never have before. Plum, a self-described social outcast, strikes up a secret friendship with the class jock, while Ginny’s usual high-strung nature escalates to pure hysterics.

But this has always been the sisters’ dynamic. So why does everything feel different this year? Maybe because Ginny is going to leave for college soon. Maybe because Plum finally has something that she doesn’t have to share with her self-involved older sister. Or maybe because the girls are forced to examine who they really are instead of who their late father said they were. And who each girl discovers—beneath the years of missing their dad—could either bring them closer together…or drive them further apart.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Weekly Goals 18-11-19

I'm surprised, but over the weekend I passed the 25K mark on my NaNo book.  Which means I'm pretty well on track for finishing on time.  Especially since I have two days this week and two days next week to write all day.

So obviously, this is my goal for the week: to write at least another 15K.

Which should be do-able.  And which will put me in a good position to finish the 50K by the end of November.  I don't think the book will be finished, but that's okay.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, November 15, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 15-11-19

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?

I am at the very last stages of the massive project I've been working on since June at work.  It should all be done and dusted by Friday next week.  And a second project I have been working on for several months is also just about at an end.

Which means I'm going to take some time off next week and the week after to write my NaNo book.  I was hoping to get a full week off, but because of meetings and various other things, I'm having to take two days each week instead.  But it still should work.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Books I've Read: Broken Beautiful Hearts

I enjoyed this book.  It dealt with something I haven't come across in a YA book before - possibly because I don't read a lot of sports books - and it's something I think should be spoken about more.  I won't say what it is here, because that will ruin part of the plot and I don't want to be one of those people.

When up and coming soccer star Peyton falls (or is pushed) down a flight of stairs at a party, she's terrified that her future is over.  With a cloud of suspicion hanging over her now ex-boyfriend's head, and even her best friend doubting her account of what happened that night, Peyton agrees to go an live with her uncle in the country while she recovers.

But there's drama even in the small town and Peyton soon finds herself in the middle of it, thanks to her twin cousins, heroes of the local football team.  And things get even more complicated when she meets Owen, a sweet, sexy guy whose dedication to his own sport is as great as her own.

I'm not particularly interested in sport, so it's unusual for me to pick up a book about sports.  But I do love passionate people who dedicate themselves to being the very best at what they do.  And this book is full of people who fit that profile.

Owen is a great love interest too, even if he does seem a little too good to be true.  But hey, it's fiction, and if you can't invent the absolutely perfect boyfriend in fiction, there's no point.  And as it turns out, Owen isn't quite as perfect as he seems...  Aren't all people like that?

It isn't a hard read, but it's an interesting one and the characters are fun to spend some time with.  There's enough tension and intrigue to keep one turning the pages without anything being too anxiety inducing.

So I'd recommend this one.

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

Her heart has to break before it can open.

When star soccer player Peyton Rios receives an offer from her first-choice college, senior year starts off exactly as planned. But when Peyton uncovers her boyfriend’s dark secret, she confronts him―and finds herself falling down a flight of stairs. Peyton’s knee―and maybe her dream of going pro―is shattered. Everyone is talking: Was she pushed, or did she fall? Peyton knows the truth, even if no one believes her.

He has to let someone in before it’s too late.

With her future on the line, Peyton goes to stay with her uncle in a small Tennessee town to focus on her recovery. Dating is the last thing on her mind―until she meets sweet, sexy Owen Law.

But Peyton doesn’t trust her heart, especially when she senses that Owen is hiding something. When their secrets are finally exposed, Peyton has to decide if love is worth fighting for.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Weekly Goals 11-11-19

I had another fairly productive weekend writing and added about 5K to my MS. I feel like a lot of what I'm writing is a little pointless and will probably get cut way down when I'm editing, but at least the story is getting onto the page.  I feel like I will be in good shape when I get to have my week off to write.  I was anticipating having to get through 30K that week, but it may only be 25K.

So my goal this week is to just keep going.   See how much more I can do during the week, and do as much as possible in the weekend.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, November 8, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 8-11-19

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?

The usual things...  It's the weekend!

I have almost finished my giant project at work, so things should calm down a little by the end of the week.  And I hope to take the following week off to finish my NaNo book.  I am so looking forward to being able to immerse myself into my story for a week.

NaNo is going well so far.  I wrote 10K last weekend, and then have only managed another two since.  But I hope to get at least 5K in this weekend, if not more.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG - November

It's early November, so it must be time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  And this month's question is a good one:

What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

I've Googled some really odd things over time, and learned a lot from my research.  I often end up going down rabbit holes for hours on end, so if I have limited time, I tend to just leave myself a note if there is something I need to Google, and do it later.  But sometimes you just need to do that research because you can't move on with the story until you know that specific fact, or how that thing actually works.

I think the weirdest thing I ever Googled (and the thing that might get me in trouble if anyone ever needs to do deep forensics on my computer for some reason) was for Stumped. I was looking for clinical research or medical papers about amputees and sex so I could inform some of Ozzy's experiences better.

There are a lot of weird people out there, and some equally weird fetishes...  Who knew there were so many porn sites offering amputee sex?  It was quite disturbing, especially discovering there are people out there who fantasize about this stuff.  Maybe one day I'll use this knowledge in a character. But probably not...

What's the weirdest thing you've ever Googled?  Did you find what you were looking for?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Weekly Goals 4-11-19

So...  After saying I didn't think I'd get a lot of writing done this weekend, I actually wrote almost 10K.  I knew this story was just itching to come out.

So I'm feeling pretty good about that.

The goal is to try and write some words every day during the week, and then next weekend I will try to have another manic burst of activity.

After not really writing anything new all year, it's amazing how good it actually feels to just sit down and let the story pour out.  I know it's going to be garbage, but at least it's words on a page.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, November 1, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things 1-1-19

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 NaNo has begun!

My work week has been crazy and looks set to continue being crazy for another couple of weeks at least, so NaNo time is going to be limited.  I'm going to try not to freak out about that too much and just do what I can.  Then, once my big project is finished, I'm going to take a week off and just write.  I am determined to get this book written this month.  It's time.

But of course I didn't do anything smart like keep this weekend free so I can write.  No, that would have been way too sensible.  Instead, I have to do chores today because I'm going up the coast to a concert tomorrow.  And then it's dinner with my family.

So I'm not anticipating getting a huge amount written over the weekend.  But hopefully I can knock out a few thousand words.

My partner and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary on Halloween, so went out for dinner to celebrate.  The little Greek restaurant near our place is really very good.  Would heartily recommend!  We'd never been before, but we will be going back...

What are you celebrating this week?