Thursday, October 29, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 30-10-20

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 partner and I celebrate our anniversary tomorrow.  It's not an important one - 23 years - but we're going to go out for dinner anyway.

NaNo starts on Sunday, and I'm excited to get started even though I'm still vacillating over whether to have my girls already in a relationship when the story starts, or if I need them to meet and get together.  I guess I'll just start writing and see what happens.  I can always change it later.

That's the beauty of NaNo.  You can write without worrying about getting everything right the first time.

And that's about it for me this week.  What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Books I've Read: The Grace Year


This isn't something I would normally pick out to read, but I love Libba Bray's books and she blurbed this, so I thought I'd give it a go.  And I'm glad I did.

Set in a world that is kind of like the one in  The Handmaid's Tale, this book covers a little over a year in the life of Tierney James.  She's sixteen, and in her County, girls are sent away for their sixteenth year to "get rid of their magic".  Before they leave, they are betrothed to one of the eligible men in town and expected to come back and be good wives and mothers.

Only each year, only some of the girls come back and no one speaks of what happens during what they call 'the grace year'.  There are rumours of course - it can't be helped when the apothecary is filled with jars containing various body parts of untouched women that are used as medicine.  Plus one of the ways men living on the outskirts of the County earn money is as poachers who sell these girls to the apothecary.

Tierney expects the most difficult thing about the Grace Year will be the hardships of living in the woods, but is confident in her abilities in that area.  Her father has prepared her well to survive in the outdoors.  There are the poachers to fear too, but what Tierney doesn't anticipate is the other girls and the madness freedom from their constricted society brings on.  It becomes clear from the first night they spend away from their families that not all the girls will return.

I won't go into any detail as to what happens in the woods because that would spoil it for you.  But it is unexpected, even if some parts of the story don't make complete sense or feel unsatisfactory in some ways.  Overall, it was a real page-turner and I really enjoyed it.

Until the ending, which didn't feel entirely satisfying to me. But maybe I was expecting too much...  Or just something a little different to what actually happened.

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

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Weekly Goals 26-10-20

 It's the week before NaNo begins, so this week is all about clearing the decks to make time and space for writing the new book.  That means finishing up anything else writing related so my focus can be entirely on the new book when I start next Sunday.

Unfortunately the weather has not been ideal this long weekend, so the gardening that so desperately needs to be done is still not done, but it will have to wait until December now.  Unless I get a few really good writing days in there and am way ahead.  Or if next Saturday is fine enough to get some done after the rest of the housework.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 23-10-20

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 a long weekend!  Yes, it's Labour Day here on Monday so we have a three-day weekend.  

And can I say it is much-needed?

I feel kind of bad about saying that because obviously things aren't as bad here as they are in the rest of the world.  We're not locked down.  We just re-elected Jacinda as our Prime Minister and her party won enough seats to govern without having to partner with other parties.  COVID-19 is well managed and there is little to no community transmission.

But I still feel like I need and deserve a long weekend.

I don't have any serious plans for said weekend.  My partner and older son are both working, so it will just be me and my younger son for most of it.  It's the last week of our annual burger festival so I'm planning to take my younger son out for lunch tomorrow to sample one of the burgers.  I also plan to go to the library to get some new books to read.  And after not having had a haircut for almost a year, I've made an appointment.

I also plan to do some writing stuff and some housework and gardening stuff - so long as the weather co-operates.   And that feels like enough.  Especially since NaNo starts next weekend and I'm going to be starting a new book.  Yikes!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Books I've Read: Juliet Takes a Breath


This was an interesting read about finding your identity and why it's sometimes better not to meet your heroes.

Juliet is a Puerto Rican who has grown up in Queens.  She's just finishing her first year in college and hasn't yet come out to her family despite having a girlfriend she thinks is pretty serious.  She's about to leave for the summer to intern with the feminist writer who has changed her outlook and decides to come out before she leaves. Her mother won't speak to her which isn't the best way to leave home for the first time, but Juliet feels like she's done the right thing by telling them and heads to Oregon.

As soon as she arrives she feels like a fish out of water.  Harlowe is an ethereal, weird hippie and the work she sets her intern is vague and unstructured.  And then there are all the complicated relationships in Harlowe's life that Juliet becomes entwined with.

As the summer continues, Juliet's eyes are opened in many different ways. Her heart is broken and she learns that nobody is perfect, even writers whose ideas challenged you to change your way of thinking.

I loved the way Juliet grew during the course of this book.  She started out so clueless, but ended up with strength and wisdom that would carry her through the rest of her life.  She began as a child and grew into a woman who, while not wholly confident, was way more sure of herself than she was at the start.

If you're looking for a book which asks some big questions about identity and race and your place in the world, this may just be the book for you.

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

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Weekly Goals 19-10-20

 This week my goals are pretty simple.

I aim to finish the MS critique I'm doing for a friend.  I got just past halfway over the weekend, so I figure I can do the rest this week.

I have sent out a second batch of queries for Standing Too Close.  I also got my first rejection.  Does anyone else find it really freaky when you send out a query and get a rejection within a couple of hours?  I always expect it to take a couple of months!

I signed the contract for the new book to be published, and it looks like it will release in February or March 2021.  More about that later.  I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that edits won't come in until December so I can keep November free for NaNo.

I'm trying to work out my plan for NaNo.  I want to try and take a couple of days off work each week to work on it, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to.  I guess if I can get even a single day some weeks, that will help.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Celebrate the Small Thins 16-10-20


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!

I know, I know...  I celebrate that every week.  But this week I feel like I need a weekend more than ever.  It's been one of those weeks where I've had so many things I want to do and so many things I've committed myself to, and work has just got in the way.  I wouldn't mind so much if I was busy at work, but it's actually been a fairly quiet week, so I've been more frustrated by it than usual.

But this weekend will be about getting all those things done that I haven't managed to do during the week.  I have great plans to be very productive, so we shall see how I get on with that.  The weather looks like it's going to be terrible, so at least I won't need to feel guilty about not working in my garden this week.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Books I've Read: Above All Else

I've never climbed Mount Everest.  I've never wanted to.  But I can understand wanting to push yourself to do something like that, something so extreme and so dangerous its more about proving to yourself you can do it than anything else.

Tate and Rose have spent their entire lives climbing together, encouraged by Rose's mother and Tate's father who are both keen climbers.  For years now, their focus has been on Everest and they have trained and fundraised and done everything they could to get there.

But now that the trip is actually happening, neither Tate nor Rose are as excited or as focused as they need to be to meet the challenge.  Rose's mother is ill and couldn't accompany them to Nepal, leaving Rose feeling like she's missing a limb or something, while Tate's hiding a new terror of climbing he's developed since a nasty fall a few months back and pushing back when his father nags at him about failing to live up to his expectations.

And to complicate things even further, it appears that after all these years of being just friends, their relationship is changing, moving toward being the romance their friends always assumed they were already embroiled in.

With the mountain's summit growing closer and the challenges of climbing it with limited oxygen become more apparent, each of these climbers is going to need to dig deep to find their own strength and reason to keep going.

I enjoyed this book because it really brought home just how dangerous and how difficult it is to climb Everest.  The characters were real and flawed and the romance between Tate and Rose felt like it grew organically.

I particularly liked the detail about climbing and the way you prepare for something like summiting Everest and the care and attention the Sherpas put into ensuring their climbers make it through the experience.

If you're interested in climbing, or maybe, like me, don't know much about it, this might just be the book for you.  Thank you to NetGalley for letting me read it in advance.

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

In a fictional tale as riveting, irresistible, and heartbreaking as Into Thin Air, teen climbing prodigies Rose and Tate attempt to summit—and survive—Mount Everest.

Rose Keller and Tate Russo have been climbing for years, training in harsh weather and traveling all over the world. The goal that kept them going: summiting Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. Accompanied by Tate’s dad, the two will finally make the ultimate climb at the end of their senior year. But neither Rose nor Tate are fully in the game—not only is there a simmering romance between them, but Rose can’t get her mind off her mother’s illness, while Tate constantly fails to live up to his ambitious father’s standards.

Everyone on their expedition has something to prove, it seems. And not everyone is making the best decisions while short on oxygen and physically and mentally exhausted. The farther up the mountain they go, the more their climbing plans unravel and the more isolated each team member becomes. Rose and Tate will have to dig deep within themselves to determine what—or who—they value above all else.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Weekly Goals 12-10-20

 I managed to fix my screw up with the word 'that' over the weekend and even sent out a few, first, tentative queries.  Terrifying!  I never thought I'd be doing that again, but here we are...

This week I need to write a synopsis since way more agents seem to want one now than they did the last time I queried.

I also have a beta read to do and a couple of other little bits and pieces of critique work.  I need to get all this done before November hits and all my spare time is taken up with NaNo.

I would also like to send out another small batch of queries this week.

So that's me.  What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 9-10-20


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?

I had another book accepted for publication.  I haven't received the contract yet, so I won't say anything more now, but will save that news for another day.

I did something monumentally stupid during one of my 5am writing sessions this week and somehow managed to replace every instance of the word 'that' in my MS with double spaces. And I didn't realize until I'd done a whole lot of other work on the book.  In an ideal world, this would be an easy fix - just do a find and replace of all those double spaces - but because I'm old-school and learned to type on a typewriter, I still use double spaces after punctuation, so there are a lot of double spaces that DON'T need to be replaced with 'that'.

I feel so dumb, because the reason I was searching for 'that' in the MS was to delete as many as I could.  Unfortunately a lot of sentences don't make a lot of sense if you take out 'that'...

So I'm a little behind with getting the MS ready to send out to agents as a result.  I'm hoping to get through all this miniscule editing work on Saturday so I can start putting together some queries on Sunday.  Although I feel like I may need to do another full read-through of the MS before I send it anywhere because if I made such a stupid mistake with 'that' who knows what I may have done with other filler/crutch words I was seeking out to replace or remove?

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Insecure Writers Support Group for October

It's the first Wednesday in October so it's time for the IWSG post!

This month's question is a good one:

When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

To me a working writer is a writer who publishes.  Doesn't have to be novels.  It could be articles, short stories, poetry, blog posts - anything.  It could be in print or online.  It doesn't even matter if the writer is being paid for the work.

But that's just how I see it.  I'm not sure how the industry defines a working writer, if they do so at all.

I certainly see myself as a working writer because not only do I publish novels and short stories, but I write in my day job too.    I also write for a group blog which, while unpaid, is very rewarding.

To be realistic, anyone who carves out time to write on a regular basis can probably call themselves a working writer.  If you're putting in the time, regardless of what happens with those words, you're a writer.  You're working.

I feel like you're only a hobbyist if you write purely for yourself, if you have no intention or desire to get your words in front of readers.  There's nothing wrong with that.  If you're happy, and the writing itself is something you enjoy, then go for it.

And I've always hated the term 'aspiring' when it comes to writing.  Even if you're not published yet, if you sit down regularly and bang out words, then you're a writer.  You're not aspiring to be a writer.  Maybe if you sit around and think about writing without ever picking up a pen...

But that's just me.  How would you define a working writer?

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Weekly Goals 5-10-20

 Well, I think I did it.  I think I finished Standing Too Close.  I just have to go through and finish removing all my 'crutch' words and those little things, then I think I'm done.

It wasn't even as hard as I thought it was going to be.  And I didn't add as many words as I thought I might need to.

So the goal this week is to finish the final polishing and start researching which agents might be interested in a story like this.  I'd like to send a first batch of queries out next weekend.

The other goal for this week is to write my little summary of Juliet & Juliet so I have that ready to go when NaNo starts.  I may even start writing a few scenes before November because 50K is not enough words to finish a novel.  It never hurts to have a few words already written before you start so you're not starting the month staring at a blank page.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Celebrate the Small Things 2-10-20


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?

I have made some progress on Standing Too Close.  I've changed a couple of things that I hope will make the ending more satisfying, and I just need to add a couple of scenes toward the middle and I think I'm done.  Fingers crossed I'll get some writing time over the weekend this week.

A week later than I hoped, but done all the same.  Might be time to send out a few tentative queries to see if that part of the package is working...

And progress on Juliet & Juliet (thanks for making me think of it as this, Jeanne!) is going well.  I think I have most of the plot straight in my head, now, so it's probably time to write it down before I forget how things move from A - B.  This one - two pager is about all the outlining I do before I start writing, so it needs to make sense.

Daylight saving started last weekend, so this week I started riding my bike to and from work.  It's been pretty windy, so I only managed two days this week, but fingers crossed I'll be able to do a little more next week.  Even if it's only one way.

What are you celebrating this week?