Sunday, August 30, 2020

Weekly Goals 31-8-20

Can you believe it's the last day of August already?  Where the heck has this year disappeared to? 

My elder son will be turning 16 in two weeks and I can tell you, I am SO not ready for him to start learning to drive...

What are my goals for this week?

Firstly, let's not panic about how little I've achieved this year.  There are still a few months left to get on that. 

I received a little more feedback on Standing Too Close which will hopefully help clarify the work I need to do to get the mid-section of the book working better.

I also have a beta-read to do for a friend.  Just the first 100 or so pages of her new project, but that will be my priority this week, while I mull over the various pieces of feedback I have on the book.

The new story is still harping on at me, but I'm holding those characters at bay because I really NEED to finish Standing Too Close before I start anything new.  My goal is to do that and start querying it before November and NaNo.

Yes, querying.  You heard me right.  I think Standing Too Close is among the best things I've written and all my readers seem to agree that despite its flaws, it's good. So I think it's time to get back into the trenches and give this little book the chance to find the readers it deserves.

I'm fucking terrified of doing it, but Blue and Sage and Wiley deserve to be known by more people than my other characters have managed to reach, so I'll do it for them...

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 28-8-20

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 another LOOOOOONG week, so I'm grateful for the weekend.  I just wish it was a little longer than two days...  But on the plus side, I have booked a long weekend away in 2 weeks.  My friend and I are going to head to the snow for a couple of days of hot pools, Scrabble and scuffing around in the snow.  

I received more feedback on Standing Too Close and am just waiting for the last reader to come back with the final chapters so I can look objectively at all the comments together before making any more changes.

The new book is still brewing away in the back of my brain.  Harley's voice is becoming more and more clear.  I plan to write the first draft of this book in November, during NaNo.  I can't wait!

And that's about it for things to celebrate this week.  Although, I did discover a new musical soundtrack I'd never heard before and I really enjoyed it.  Musicals are kind of my guilty pleasure...  Just don't tell anyone.  Doesn't really fit my image, y'know?

Do you have a favourite musical soundtrack?  A secret guilty pleasure?  I won't tell anyone if you want to share...

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

When Life Gives You Lemons Instead of Lattes

What if losing everything you have is exactly what you need?
Kylie’s summer after high school graduation was supposed to be celebrated in Europe, not some podunk town in Ohio. But when the FBI shows up at her parents’ California beach house looking for her father, the life she’s known, suddenly disintegrates.
With the family assets frozen and her father on the run, the only place left to go is a dilapidated house that once belonged to her great-grandmother. Now her family is broke, her social status is in ruins, and the only internet access is at a café where a nerdy barista boy wants to be her new best friend.
But life has a funny way of teaching its lessons, and being catapulted into this new reality might be the help she needs to learn that sometimes you have to let go of everything you know to discover what is real.
With unlikely friendships, family secrets, and a budding romance, Rayna York crafts a heart-warming story about the deception of appearances and starting over in unexpected places. Perfect for YA fans of Sarah Dessen and Kassie West.

About the Author
Rayna York grew up with hippie parents that liked to adventure, so being the new kid was always a challenge. Where change was the norm, books were her constant--a way to escape. As an adult, many careers came and went, but writing has always been her passion. Everything I knew to be true is her first published novel.

And here's an excerpt, to tantalize you...

“Kylie, Harlow. Let’s go,” Mom calls from downstairs.

She informed us yesterday that we could only take one suitcase each.

How am I supposed to do that? I have a massive walk-in closet—my shoes will take at least two.

I throw a large duffel bag over my shoulder and, pulling the biggest suitcase I could find, bang my way down the stairs, one mahogany step at a time. Harlow’s already standing next to Mom, a small suitcase at her feet. She looks up at me with a crooked smile.

Yeah, she gets me.

My horrid grandparents’ wouldn’t return my mother’s calls nor my own, but were kind enough to have their lawyerdraft us a formal letter. It said that if they take us in, or help us in any way, the investigation would involve them, and they wouldn’t dare do anything to tarnish their family name.

So basically, we’re screwed.

Luckily, Mom is part of a support group—what for, I don’t know. They donated a car and gave us enough cash to get to where we need to go. The destination being my great-grandmother’s old house in some podunk town in the Midwest. Apparently, she died about a year ago, and she left Mom the house. I never knew her—my dad said I wasn’t missing much.

“Are you ready?” I ask Harlow when I reach the bottom step. She looks up at Mom, then down at her feet. “It’s going to be fine, Bug. It’s an adventure, you know?”

“I guess.” She doesn’t sound convinced.

“Okay.” Mom picks up her suitcase. “I think we have everything, so let’s get going.”

I’m the last one out and debate whether to shut the door. Maybe a kick-ass storm will blow up, whip through it, and destroy everything inside. Or better yet, a drug dealer might come across it, turn it into a crack house, and accidentally blow it up. Either way works for me. I leave the door wide open.

I stop short when I see the car that is supposed to be transporting us all the way to Ohio. “Are you fricking kidding me? Where the hell did you find thispile of junk? It must be like five years old! And it’s so tiny!”

“Don’t be such a snob,” Harlow says.

I raise an eyebrow at her like, excuse me?

“You’re lucky we didn’t have to take the bus,” Mom bites back.

“And that’s supposed to make me feel better? You sure it will get us there? It’s not even an import.” And it’s red! A color that should be reserved for sportscars.

Mom stops what she’s doing and glares at me. “Really?”

“What? What’s wrong with me wanting to get there in one piece?” I swear the bumpers look like they could fall off at any moment, and there’s a crack at the base of the windshield.

She shakes her head at me, unlocks the trunk, then moves to the driver’s side. I lift Harlow’s suitcase in, pushing it back as far as it will go. Mine weighs a ton, and Harlow has to help me load it in.

“Mom,” I whine when my duffle bag won’t fit, “there isn’t enough room.”

She comes around. “I told you to bring onesuitcase.”

“I did! One suitcase. This is a duffel bag.”

“Your suitcase fills the entire trunk!”

“You didn’t specify a size.”

She growls. “Fine. I’ll put mine in the backseat, which means less room for Harlow.” My sister glares at me. “What’s in the duffle bag?”


She rolls her eyes. “I’ll bet.”

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Weekly Goals 24-8-20

Here we are on Monday again, and once again I didn't do any writing over the weekend.  Somehow there just wasn't time, but I'm not entirely sure why.

So this week my goal is to actually write.  It doesn't matter how much or for how long so long as I do something.

I haven't entirely figured out how to fix Standing Too Close, which is probably why I keep procrastinating.  But even if I don't do the work on that which is needed, I should work on something.  I usually figure out how to fix one story by writing something else.

So that's the goal.  I have a short story I'm supposed to be writing for an anthology, but I haven't been inspired to start yet.  I should try and find a way into that.  Maybe it will be the thing that sparks me to find the solution to my novel.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 21-8-20

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's been one of those really long weeks at work - busy, but not busy with really interesting stuff.  So I'm looking forward to the weekend.  I have virtually nothing planned so once the chores are all done, I plan to read and write and go to the movies.  Maybe do some cooking...

I've had some more feedback on Standing Too Close and it's becoming clear to me the problem isn't the ending after all.  It's actually toward the middle.  So I'm mulling over what I can do there to try and strengthen it.  I have to be able to do it reasonably efficiently because I don't have a lot of wriggle-room with word count like I did when I dove into revisions last time.  I can probably only afford to add another 5K at the most.

I've given myself a timeline to get this book finished and to start querying it, so I need to get working.  Otherwise I won't be able to write the new, shiny idea during NaNo in November...

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Books I've Read: Music From Another World

I'm not usually a huge fan of books that tell their stories through letters or diary entries, but I really liked this one.

Set in 1977, two girls from very different backgrounds, both at religious schools, are matched as pen - pals for a summer assignment.  Initially cautious with one another, they soon discover a mutual love of punk music and begin to open up to one another, one careful secret after another.

Tammy lives in the shadow of her ultra-conservative aunt's church and is constantly forced to take part in canvassing and campaigns that fly in the face of her own feelings and beliefs.  The only place Tammy can express herself is her diary where she writes long, impassioned letters to her hero, openly gay activist Harvey Milk. She longs for the day she can finally be her true self .

Sharon lives in San Francisco but her strict Catholic neighborhood feels miles away from the freedoms and self-expression of the Castro and Harvey Milk's campaigns.  She feels trapped in her life, helping her brother hide his gayness from their mother and pretending to be the good girl everyone expects her to be.   Her discovery of punk leads to meeting women with minds more open than that of her mother or the nuns at school. Her letters to Tammy begin to feel as freeing as writing in her diary. 

When Tammy accidentally sends pages from her diary to Sharon, things begin to spiral out of control for both girls and by the end of the summer, neither will be going back to the life they thought they would be trapped in until college or beyond.

Set against the very real and very frightening politics of the period, this book felt very real to me.  Some of the letters and diary entries felt like ones I might have written when I was sixteen or seventeen (albeit 10 years later than the period this book is set). 

So even if you don't usually like books written in the form of letters and/or diary entries, I'd recommend this one.

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

It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Weekly Goals 17-8-20

I didn't do any writing over the last week.

I'm waiting on feedback from two readers for Standing Too Close, and while I'm waiting, I'm supposed to be revising SHOOK.  Somehow, I'm just not feeling that inspired about SHOOK at the moment, so it has been slow.

My new story is still haunting me and I think that's why I'm finding it hard to get into SHOOK.  Harley's voice is so in my head, just waiting for me to start telling his story.  I may just have to let him out for a while, see where he takes me.

With being back in Level 2, simple things like going to the gym are that little bit more complicated, but I am hoping to to keep up with going four or five times this week.  Especially since I failed miserably at it last week.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, August 14, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 14-8-20

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?

So many things!

This week New Zealand had its first cases of community transmission of COVID-19 in over 100 days.  On Tuesday night it was four people in one family, by yesterday there were over 30 cases, all apparently linked to that family.

On Tuesday night, our government announced that Auckland would go into Level 3, and the rest of the country would return to Level 2 for three days.  At the end of those three days, this was extended for another twelve days.

I'm celebrating the fact the whole country is not being locked down and that our government cares so much about keeping the virus out that it is willing to take such swift, strict action to keep us all safe.

It's been a stressful couple of days as we waited to see how far the virus might have spread, so I'm grateful for the daily updates from our leaders.  And at the same time I'm celebrating that life can keep on being as normal as possible here.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Books I've Read: As You Wish


This is one of those books with an awesome premise.  I mean, who can resist a small town with a big secret?  Especially when that secret is kind of magical.  

In Madison, a dead-end town in the middle of the Nevada desert, every citizen gets a wish on their eighteenth birthday.  And that wish always comes true.

Eldon is close to that milestone day, but unlike everyone else around him, he has no idea what to wish for. His parents want him to wish for money so he can help dig them out of the financial hole they are in and pay for more extensive medical treatment for his younger sister who is in a coma in a nursing home outside of town.

Eldon knows nothing can save his sister now she's left Madison.  There are strict rules guiding what people can and can't wish for and all wishes have to be pre-approved by the town's overbearing mayor.  Wishing for something that will alert the outside world to Madison and its secrets is strictly forbidden.

Which means most people's wishes are small.  And, as Eldon discovers as he starts asking people about their wishes, most people's wishes don't make them happy.  Look at his own parents.  His father wished to be the best football player only to be horribly injured and permanently disabled just a few years later, while his mother wished for his father's undying love, something she has, but no longer wants.

As his wishing day grows closer, Eldon asks more people in town about their wishes and discovers very few people are actually happier as a result of their wishes.  Some of his friends have already made their wishes and are already questioning whether they have made the right one, while one of his classmates makes a rash decision at the last moment with her wish, and may have destroyed two lives as a result.

When some outsiders turn up in town asking about the wishing, Eldon makes a rash decision that may change his life forever.

I actually enjoyed this book.  Eldon was not the most likable protagonist - he's selfish and kind of stuck up, a little arrogant - but I enjoyed his journey and felt like I understood his reasons for being a bit of a prick.  It must be hard to be those few months younger than your peers and watch them become popular and handsome and smart and athletic overnight.  All the things Eldon was naturally, suddenly being artificially taken over once they've made their wish.

And he clearly was very close to his sister and misses her.  Her whole family is broken as a result of her accident and this is heightened by the unnatural relationship between Eldon's parents.

Given this book takes place just down the road from Area 51, I felt like it missed an opportunity to draw from that and make the wishing cave something more than just random magic.  And the ending wasn't really satisfying, even if it did feel realistic.

So I'd recommend, especially if you like your magic grounded in grim reality.

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

What if you could ask for anything- and get it?

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Weekly Goals 10-8-20

My goals are pretty simple this week.

The new story still needs more time to germinate, I think.  I need to figure out how to write a story in which the main character, at least at the beginning of the book, doesn't really speak.  I tend to use dialogue a lot to move things along, so it's going to be a challenge to write a character who chooses, for a variety of reasons, not to talk.

So while my brain does the heavy lifting on that, I'll keep working on revising SHOOK.  It's not terribly exciting work, but it needs to be done and it's something to do while I wait for the next round of critiques to come back on Standing Too Close.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 7-8-20

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?

My quiz team won the quiz this week.  It's the first time in a few weeks, and we've had a couple of truly dire performances recently, so it felt good to be back in front.  

It's the weekend!  This week has been long and quite boring so I'm grateful it's the weekend and I can do something different for a couple of days.  Even if that different stuff is going to be mainly housework and cooking...

I finished the critique I was doing for a friend and should be editing SHOOK.  But instead I'm still toying with my new, fun idea with the incredibly damaged main character.  The details of the story are slowly coming to me and the characters have told me their names now, so I'm almost at the point where I feel like I need to start writing. Just the first chapter or two...

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG: August

It's the first Wednesday in August, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

This month I'm not going to answer the optional question because my friend Chris Frey is doing a blog-hop in support of her book Keep Writing With Fey (I posted about it here).

It's a book about overcoming writer's block and depression and all those things that keep you from actually writing and she asked us to share how we deal with these things personally.  So here goes...

I don't actually tend to suffer from writer's block.  I get stuck, of course.  I think all writers do.  But I always have more than one project going, so when I get stuck trying to figure out something on one project, I leave it alone and move onto something else.  Maybe a MS that needs revising.  A short story.  Editing or critiquing for someone else.  Just something different.  And generally, I find that by the time I've finished that work, I've untangled whatever was knotted up in the other story and I can move on.

My main problem is with finding the energy and brain-space to write.  I write most of the day at work across a variety of things: press releases, government documents, webpages, newsletters etc, and by the time I finish at the end of the day, I find I don't have any words left for my own writing.

When I don't write, I get antsy, irritable and depressed because writing is the way I make sense of the world and my own feelings about things.  So it's important that I do find the time to do it.  If I'm feeling particularly frustrated, I sometimes take a couple of days off just to write and that's usually enough to get me back on track, re-set and able to use my hour or so of writing time in the mornings productively.

How do you deal with writer's block or other things that keep you from getting that butt in chair?

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· Writer's block
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With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.


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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Weekly Goals 3-8-20

I was naughty and did absolutely no writing over the weekend.  I read books instead and it was glorious!  So no regrets there.

But because I did that, my goal this week is to finish critiquing my friend's book and then to move on to finishing the edit I started on SHOOK.

The new story can just keep brewing in the back of my head.  I may write a chapter or two soon, just to get Harley's voice onto the page, but I am not going to dive headfirst into writing a new book just yet.  Hopefully it will keep until November and NaNo.

What are your goals this week?