Happy New Year!
After the train wreck that 2020 turned out to be, it's great to welcome a fresh, new year.
Who knows what 2021 might hold... I wish you all the best for it!
With it being the holidays, I've been reading a lot more than I usually do and have been getting through a book a day for the last few days. This was yesterday's book, and one I really enjoyed.
Dante is seventeen. He's just finished his exams and is eagerly awaiting the results that will tell him whether or not he's qualified to go to university to study journalism. The last thing he's expecting is his ex-girlfriend of more than a year ago to show up on his doorstep with a baby in tow. A baby she claims is his, the result of his one and only sexual encounter, a brief, disappointing drunken few minutes at a party.
Claiming she needs to pop out and get some nappies and other things for the baby, Melanie leaves Emma with Dante for just a few minutes. But then she never comes back. A phone call hours later tells Dante she feels unfit to be the baby's mother and she's leaving Emma with him.
Dante's world - and that of his brother and father - is turned upside-down. Nights out at the pub with mates are suddenly off the table. So is university and the career Dante has imagined for himself for so long. Reality is suddenly teething, crying, trips to the park and the endless anxiety that comes with bringing up a child.
While Dante is struggling with the realities of becoming a new father, his brother Adam has his own problems. Openly gay, he's a target of local bullies, but keeps it to himself because the worst of the bullies is Dante's best friend and Dante has enough to deal with right now.
This is a brutally honest book about the challenges of becoming a parent too young. It's also a book about learning to communicate with the people you care about and to accept change as inevitable. Dante and Adam are real, flawed characters, but by the end of the book you're really rooting for them to overcome their various challenges and find their places in the world.
I really enjoyed it.
But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb:This is the explosively page-turning new novel for teenagers from the author of the award-winning "Noughts and Crosses" sequence. You're about to receive your A-level results and then a future of university and journalism awaits. But the day they're due to arrive your old girlfriend Melanie turns up unexpectedly ...with a baby ...You assume Melanie's helping a friend, until she nips out to buy some essentials, leaving you literally holding the baby ...Malorie's dramatic new novel will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the final page.
I'm on summer holidays now (although the weather doesn't seem to think it's summer - I'm sitting here in the clothes I write in during the winter this morning as the wind howls around the house) so I'm trying to keep goals to a minimum.
I finished the edits on Chasing the Taillights and sent them off to my publisher on Christmas morning so they wouldn't be hanging over my head for the rest of the holidays. So now I'm free to do whatever I want for the next couple of weeks.
I plan to send off a bunch more queries for Standing Too Close before we go away on Saturday, but other than that, I have nothing writing-related planned. In fact, this week is all about getting the house sorted out. I've hired a carpet cleaner for this afternoon and hope that might help freshen up the living area.
What are your goals this week?
Goodreads has just sent me a handy wee infographic about my reading habits in 2020 so I thought in lieu of a single book review today, I'd share my year in books with you. There appears to be a lot of re-reads in there this year, something I put down to the lockdown period when the library was closed and I was forced to explore my own bookshelves again.
So here's my 2020 in books.
If Goodreads has done the same for you, why don't you share it in the comments. I'm sure people are looking for good books to read over the holidays.
One of my fellow Evernight Teen authors is joining me on the blog today to introduce her new book, My Dark Fairytale.
Blurb:Monster or hero?
My mom used to tell me about those things. Fairytales. The stories of an average person and their happily ever after. No matter the odds. The beautiful princess always found her prince. A handsome hero would come and whisk his heroine bravely from any danger. There were big dresses, shiny shoes and an ending that promised they’d be happy forever. Who wanted to be a princess anyway? They always needed rescuing. I grew out of that crap real quick. Down here, I had to.
I lived in the Colony.
I was named Larkspur seventeen years ago. My mother gave birth to me in a world of darkness and criminals. The Colony was deep underground, removed from upstanding citizens that followed strict rules about morality and the law. Blah, blah, blah. All I knew was that from the moment I drew my first breath, she cared for me. She didn’t leave me to the freaks. How bad could she possibly have been on the surface to be sent to the Colony pregnant?
It wasn’t easy being a kid when the sky was hard rock. The toys were sticks and there was no such thing as safe. I’m making it sound like a horrible place to live. Well, it was bad but at least I had my mom. Sometimes a new person would be sent down here and they weren’t so bad. Of course, over the years the good people were killed. That made it difficult to keep friends. I was a loner, although my mom liked to call me a survivor. Eh, you know, Moms.
The Colony was a labyrinth of tunnels. Most of them were all rock and dull lights. There were the deepest parts that no one ever tried to explore. Sometimes I’d hear screaming from in there. Not a great place to search. We all called it the Deep.
Anyway, today was meal day. I got up extra early. My dark hair was braided down my back. I wore all black clothes, sown together from rags so they weren’t all true black but damn close. Blending in with the shadows was a skill of mine. It saved me a time or two. My feet were bare but that’s how I liked it. Over the years down here, I learned to deal with the harsh rock walls.
Our home was this alcove in a tunnel. It was enough to fit both of us. Sure, it was dirty and dark but it kept us hidden from any predator that happened to roam. Mom still slept as I slipped out of the small opening that would be considered our front door. It was small so we had to crawl out. My hands sunk into the warm dirt that concealed the tunnel floors. I glanced to my right. The lackluster lights showed an empty path and a few feet down the tunnel was where the lights were swallowed up by complete darkness. That would be the part we didn’t get close to. I checked to my left, two men shuffled by and dipped into a shadow.
There’s one more peculiar thing about me. You see, I wasn’t exactly normal. I mean not in the complete sense in the word. I don’t know if I was some sort of new type of human or a mutation or what. I faced the wall and focused on my fingers. My nails elongated and hardened. They turned into a dark brown, almost black, like the rock around us. I did the same with my toenails and forced them to lengthen. I simply climbed up the wall. Okay so it wasn’t that straightforward but when I was younger, they just sort of formed. Like I said, I’m not sure what I was but it’s not as if I had some kind of freaky tail or anything.
I ascended. My claws sunk into the rock and kept me from falling. In only a few seconds, I hiked along the ceiling. The people that walked in the tunnel were oblivious to the freak crawling above. The movements were second nature to me now. It took a lot of practice. I couldn’t even count how many times I messed up and landed on the tunnel floor, crying out in pain.
I rounded the corner, hugged the rock and let the shadows hide my form. Meals were sent down a huge tube into the center chamber of the Colony. It was kind of like the main gathering place for all the criminals. It was also the most dangerous. Sometimes men formed groups, like gangs, and an entire tunnel could break out in fighting. There wasn’t much order. It was the biggest first because they usually fought their way to the food. The newbie’s would either learn to eat less, starve or try to prove how tough they were.
Me, I was the smart one. It must be a gene from my mom because she didn’t talk about my father much. Hell, she never talked about my father. Every time I asked she’d clam up. There was a story there and I’m not too sure I wanted to hear it. I crept along the ceiling as the tunnel opened up. This was where the lights were the brightest and the reason I came the earliest. I made my way to the hole in the rock and eased into the food chute. I concealed myself on a ledge here. All I had to do was hold my makeshift bag out and collect as much food as I could. No fighting, no blood and no problems. Although, the older I got, the smaller this damn ledge became. I felt like a huge beast trying to tuck myself away. Once I squished myself in there, it was a waiting game and watching.
And I always watched ... him.
Well, I did it. I finished #CatholicSchoolLesbians yesterday.
It's kind of crappy and too short and will need a lot of editing, but there are some good moments in there (I hope). I'm going to leave it alone for a few weeks now and then go back in and read the whole thing and make a plan for how to edit it into something worth reading.
But for now, I need to focus on Christmas and the holidays and what we are going to do with them.
What are your goals this week?
I really thought I'd finish #CatholicSchoolLesbians over the weekend, but I'm not quite there yet. Somehow the two chapters I thought it would take to get to the end have turned into four or maybe five.
So the goal is to finish it this week. I don't have a day off to write, but hopefully I can get it done over the weekend.
The other goal is to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm very close because people don't really want a lot of things this year. But it's nice to have something, even if it is a token.
What are your goals this week?
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 haven't quite finished #CatholicSchoolLesbians, but I wrote another 6K+ on Wednesday and feel like I'm probably only two chapters away from the ending. Plus maybe an epilogue. I think I can probably finish over the weekend which is perfect because I can then leave it alone over the holidays and come back to revise with fresh eyes after the summer break.
It's only three weeks until Christmas, if you can believe it. I really need to do some thinking about Christmas shopping at some point. I keep thinking things at work might clam down a little as we head into the break, but it doesn't seem to be happening. Thankfully I'm not hosting Christmas dinner this year, just breakfast. I am going to need to do some thinking about that though, because we don't finish work until 1pm on the 24th.
How are your Christmas plans shaping up, if you even have any? This year I can't take it for granted that anyone does outside of my own country.
What are you celebrating this week?
It's the first Wednesday in December so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support group!
This month's question is:Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?