Monday, February 24, 2014

Books I Love: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This is the story of Samantha Reed, and a relationship that develops with the boy next door. It is sweet and funny, but also very sad. In the book, Samantha's mother makes a mistake and tries to hide it from everyone, only Samantha is very aware of the mistake and the huge consequences it has on those around her. It's a look at what is wrong, and what is right, and how parents can sometimes not make the correct decisions. 

I fell in love with this book as I read it. There were quite a few things that I just adored about this. The first is that the family next door is large, with eight kids. I'm the oldest of six, and it is so rare to find a large family really depicted in a positive light. I also liked that there was the opportunity for Samantha to help her mother to learn and to change. It also explores first love, and is really sweet in how the relationship develops.

I'm very much looking forward to Huntley Fitzpatrick's second book,  What I Thought Was True, which comes out on April 15. Have you read this? What did you think?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Five

1. Wacky weather. I have always been interested in the weather, and if I had decided to study science instead of English, I would have studied to become a meteorologist. This year has been wacky in North Carolina. Two big snow storms, much colder than normal with days and weeks going up into the 70s in between. We have thunderstorms today and warm weather.

2. Time. This week I've been thinking a lot about prioritizing and managing my time. Am I focused on what is the most important? If I want to accomplish something, am I spending the time on it that I need to? How do I find and make the time to make those things happen.

3.  I am shopping for new glasses. It's been about five years since my last pair, maybe longer and I really want to find a cute pair. The Hipster glasses all remind of the glasses I had in Junior high, when I was at the horrible awkward stage. And when wire frames came out I embraced them whole heartedly. So I'm not loving this new fashion trend. Really I'm not. I don't like really heavy glasses on anyone's face. Some people carry it off better than others, and the shapes of the frames are definitely nicer than back in the early 90s. I rarely get glasses because even with insurance, I pay a ton for the glasses. I'm pretty blind--negative 7 in each eye and so I have to pay for the thinnest lens available or they look like coke bottles.

4. Some days I find it harder to focus than others. Good music helps. Deadlines actually help me. And no distractions--like no Internet really helps. When I was younger I used to be able to tune everything out and just really hone in on a task until I got it done. Now I feel like I've developed some type of ADD, every time I pause to find the right word, I want to jump on check my email and do other meaningless things. So silly!

5. This weekend I am creating a solid plan for my writing goals and other goals. I think it will help me to really achieve my goals. Do you have a plan that you follow?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Are You Alienating Your Reader?

Today I started thinking about how I connect with certain characters and how writers can sometimes change that connection and push away the readers. I tend to think it happens more in series rather than stand alone novels. And I've seen it happen multiple times with television.

I will wander into the world of television for a bit and then come back with writing. I used to be a big Scandal fan. Loved the show, loved the writing, loved the characters (all of the characters, even the bad guys), but then Huck turns on Quinn. I know the plot line was leading there. I know that the writers had their reasons. But I was done.

A similar thing happened with Downton Abby. I get that the actors didn't renew their contracts, but I hated the way that Matthew died. And how every problem is conveniently solved within three episodes at max. So the loyalty that I felt toward the show disappeared.

And there have been a large number of trilogies where I have felt very betrayed by the author. As writers, you do get to decide what happens to your characters. And I don't always expect happy endings, but ultimately I need the character to continue to grow stronger and to do more.

How do you stop yourself from alienating your reader?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Books I Love: The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

I just finished reading Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen, and I really enjoyed it. She writes beautifully. Very lyrical and each words matters. I love the imagery in her writing as well as the overall feeling. She writes magical realism, which is a lot of fun and adds interesting elements to each aspect of her stories.  I'm choosing to feature The Girl Who Chased the Moon because it is my favorite story by her. However all of her books are wonderful, and you really should read them.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon tells the story of Emily who is new to town and a teenager that is trying to understand more about her mother, and Julia who is trying to find a way to deal with the past. The two stories are a great contrast to each other, very similar in some ways and different in others. Of course the small town has a lot secrets and Emily has a hard time figuring out where she should fit in.

Have you read any Sarah Addison Allen? What do you think?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Books I Love: Crash Into You by Kate McGarry

So I read Pushing the Limits, which was Kate McGarry's first book when it first came out. I really enjoyed it. And then I forgot to look for her next books. I knew it was a standalone and I guess she dropped off my radar for a bit. The cover for Crash Into You caught my eye on the new book list at the library and so I requested it on hold. I read the book and loved it, and looked up the author to see if she had anything else. That's when I realized that she had also written Dare You To. I have read everything by her, and I'm looking forward to her next book that comes out in May.

Have you read anything by her? What did you think?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Five

1.  Writing wise, I am definitely more of a plotter than a punster. Sometimes I get to know my characters a bit and then i do the plot, and sometimes I have the entire plot written down before I even get to know my characters. I had a very loose idea for my next book. But as I wrote my query letter (something I think you should do before you finish the book), I realized I don't have enough conflict in my story yet. I don't have my characters go to an even bigger low than they are at the beginning. So I need to plot it out. But I have to tell you--these are some great characters. You're going to love Steve and Aimee.

2.  This book is tentatively titled Knight in Shining Armor. Of corse that could totally change. It most likely will. But it plays to something in the first chapter. And I like it. So instead of calling the book by the character name, I will most likely refer to it as Knight for short.

3. I swore that I would never write from  male's perspective. After all I am not a boy, and I just don't think like boy, talk like a boy, act like a boy. I was never even considered a tom boy. But I am writing this from both perspectives. And I'm excited about it. A little scared too. I went into this very cautiously. A lot of male characters by women that I've read seem to make the only difference in the characters by adding swear words to their thoughts and actions. The guys I hung around with in high school and college didn't cuss around me, and I don't think they did in general. So the cussing thing will not be used by me.

4. Can you tell I'm excited about this project? Because I am. I really truly am. It's so fun to be excited about something again. I look forward to the time I get to write again, where I used to dread it. I still wanted and needed to do it, but I dreaded it, and came up with nappy excuses not to do it.

5. The Olympics. How can I not mention the Olympics. I could do an entire Friday Five on just the Olympics. I look at the athletes and marvel at the hard work and dedication they have put in. The hours and hours it has taken for them to perform at this level, and I am in awe.

On a different note, I look at the stories surrounding the Sochi Olympics, especially thinking about the Vice episode I watched, and I am disturbed by the poverty of people around the world, and the corruptness that is rampant.  The entire thing has left me teary today. I'm just so grateful to live in a place that has a government (while not perfect) that still protects the people. I'm grateful for all the things that I have just by being born here.  My basic freedoms and the ability to provide for family. And although we don't have much by the US standards, we have so much more than so many different parts of the world.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Taking a Whole Life Approach to Writing

So the last year has been a tough one writing wise. I think part of that was I spent a good part of the year revising. Revising is so different from writing. It's important but it's where all of the work is and it isn't as fun. It got to the point where I was dreading the time I set aside to write each day, and I wouldn't do do it or I'd force something out. I justified saying life was just too busy or my schedule had changed and how was I supposed to find the time to write.

I still struggle with finding the time to write, but this year along with my writing goals, I made some goals involving my earth and exercising. And the days that I exercise (even though I should have less time) I find that I'm writing more. The ideas are flowing and overall it's just better. It made me realize that my creativity stems from being well. If I want to write, then I need to be taking care of myself emotionally, physically and spiritually.

For me that means getting exercise regularly, getting enough sleep and eating well. Emotionally, I need time to decompress (mostly by reading). Spiritually for me involves prayer and church. I know it will be different for everyone though. It's helping me in every aspect of my life.

Now I'm not consistently exercising every day yet. But I'm getting there. My outlook is better and I'm excited about my current story. Plus, I'm poking at Lexy again, getting into revisions again. My outlook is good and my energy level is up.

How are you taking care of yourself as a writer?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Books I Love: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby is my favorite book by Sarah Dessen. I enjoyed all of her books, but I do have definite favorites and books that stand out. This Lullaby is the story of Remy and what happens right after she graduates from high school. It involves an incredibly cute boy, Dexter, a band and goals that she is working toward. This is a great story and I like how much Remy has to change throughout the story. The cast of characters is really good too.

If you like this one, you should definitely check out some her other books. Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, and Along for the Ride are great books that you should definitely read. All of the books are good, but those are my favorites.  Have you read any Sarah Dessen? Which one is your favorite?