Monthly Archives: March 2012

Where did March go?

I can’t believe there are only ten days left in March. I knew this was going to be a hectic month, considering work picked up dramatically this month, but I didn’t think I would this tired all the time. Part of my problem is that I’ve been distracted with my new Nook, I know, but a decent part of why I’m behind is that I’m tired all the time. Well, that and I just can’t get into my story anymore. I paused in the middle of writing a romantic scene, and now I can’t get back into it. They’re just sitting there, kissing, and it’s rather awkward. I’m having trouble trying to get myself to focus on it.

The good news is that I’ve managed to write the first outline for Degeneration, which I’m going to write for Script Frenzy. I have about 22 scenes, which means I should be able to hit 100 pages easily if each scene is at least 5 pages. I’m not too worried about it. I’ll try to come up with a more detailed outline sooner, but if this is the only outline I have going into it, I still think I’ll be all right.

For the past few days, I’ve been rather preoccupied with two things. The first thing is that I’ve started doing my first read through of draft 2 of Tilt Your Head and Smile. I’m somewhere between half and two-thirds of the way through, and I’m actually enjoying it. I’ve already made several notes of big things to change, and the words definitely need some polish, but overall I’m enjoying it. I was so afraid I was going to hate it when I read back through it. I’m glad that’s not the case – at least not yet! I’m trying to just mark major things that need to be fixed (like plot inconsistencies or notes about scenes to add) right now. My next step will be to fix those major things on the computer and then to print everything out and edit a hard copy. Or maybe I’ll try to fix up the prose first and then print off my fixed version. I haven’t decided yet. Since work will most likely be over by the time I finally get that far, I’ll probably just do most of it on my computer.

The second thing that’s been on my mind is this: I’m going to be one of the Atlanta Script Frenzy MLs! For anyone who doesn’t know, MLs are the people who organize regional writing events. One of the NaNo MLs and I have been talking about where to have the kickoff party and what sort of events we want to do. It’s been pretty fun. We haven’t been listed on the website yet, but I’ve been told we will be soon. I’m excited. Our region was pretty dead last April, and I’m hoping we can encourage some people to get out and write this year. We have one of the biggest regions in the nation when it comes to NaNo, but participation during Screnzy drops tremendously. It’s rather sad, really.

I’m about 12k behind where I’m supposed to be for March. I need to get caught up on that. I also want to finish reading Tilt Your Head, and I have to write 2-4 pep talks for Script Frenzy. I also have to figure out where to have write-ins and when the kickoff will be and other things like that. Plus my boyfriend’s father just gave me the Mistborn trilogy to read, so I want to start that. I actually bought him that series for Christmas, so I’m glad he likes it enough to recommend to someone else. I feel bad because his parents are always giving me books to read that I never do, so I actually want to try to read this one soon this time. Oh, and The Hunger Games comes out tomorrow at midnight. I’m probably not going to the midnight showing, but that’s definitely going to take up most of my evening on Friday.

At least I won’t have to work as much in April. After next week we drop from like 60 cameras a day to 10, so they’ll be laying a lot of people off, and those of us who remain won’t be working as often as we used to. I’m sort of looking forward to that since a) I know I’m one of the ones they’re keeping (since I signed up to work proms) and b) I don’t have any bills to pay, so I can afford to cut back on work a bit. That’s good because if I’m going to be writing and MLing, I’m going to need all the time off I can get.

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Book 12: Through the Grinder (Coffeehouse Mystery #2) by Cleo Coyle

Title: Through the Grinder
Author: Cleo Coyle
Page Count: 220-ish
F/NF Fiction
Genre Mystery

Rating: 8/10

Summary:
When Clare’s daughter starts trying different methods of dating, Clare can’t help but sign up as well, wanting to make sure that her daughter is safe. At one such venue, she meets Bruce Bowman – smart, handsome, rich, and a huge fan of her coffee. He’s everything she didn’t realize she had been looking for, so she is understandably devastated when Detective Mike Quinn tells her that Bruce is the prime suspect in the death of three young women. Will Clare be able to find enough evidence to prove him innocent, or is Bruce the very man she’s fighting so hard to prove he isn’t?

Opinion:
I was completely unsurprised to discover who the murderer was, but I still really enjoyed this book. There was a series of chapters near the end where I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what was going to happen. I also feel like this book is a bit more emotional than the last. It helps that we already know the characters and can thus watch some of their relationships develop.

There were a few drawbacks to this book, though. For one, a lot of the information is repeated from the previous books. I’ve discovered that this is a series you can read out of order (though you’ll understand more of the backstory if you read in order, so I recommend doing that), which means that you get the same information again and again with each book you read. I guess this might be helpful if a long time had passed between readings, but since I read the second one the day after I read the first one, I didn’t really need the refresher. Also, I’m tired of reading about how amazing Clare’s C-cup breasts are. She’s short and shapely. We get it. We don’t need to keep hearing about it.

That said, I still really enjoyed this book. It was even better than the first one. I also like continuing to learn about coffee. A lot of that information is repeated, as well, but you learn new things with each book, and I’m curious to try the recipes posted at the end of the book.

Of oulines and opening scenes

I haven’t had an extremely productive week as far as my word count is concerned, but I feel like I’ve made a decent amount of progress this week nonetheless. I was supposed to finish up the first draft of The Story of Em in February, but that clearly didn’t happen. My new goal is to finish that this month. That wouldn’t have been a problem before I got my Nook, but now I’ve been spending a lot of my free time playing with my new apps and reading that Coffeehouse Mysteries series and less time actually writing like I’m supposed to be doing.

The good news is that I’ve actually managed to come up with an outline for Em. Yesterday I took notes on the parts of the story I had written so far and realized I had made a huge error in time. I just kept throwing around phrases like “two weeks later” and “a month later,” and it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized Emelyn would be graduating already, and she should have a lot more time left at school since she’s only just started dating the man she’ll eventually marry. I spent a while yesterday working out the timeline, and I’ve finally got it so that she starts dating David in October, which gives her plenty of time to get to know him and meet his family and still decide to move in with him after she graduates in May. They’ll only have been dating for seven months when they move in together, but that’s much more believable than a couple of weeks. I was going to go back and edit what I have so far, but I’m really just shifting the timeline back a little, so I think I’ll be all right. I’m just going to have to try to remember that it’s November now instead of late spring.

I’ve also been playing with a new app I got on my Nook called My Writing Spot, which lets you write on your Nook and then sync those files with your Internet account so that you can have those files on your computer, as well. It’ll be great during NaNo when I want to write when I’m away from my computer.  Yesterday I had a lot of down time at work (most people hadn’t realized that they had to bring the money with them if they wanted to buy the pictures, so I basically just sat there for hours entertaining myself), so I did a little bit of writing. I should have been working on Em or, at the very least, taking notes for my Script Frenzy idea, but instead, I wrote this:

The house had been boarded up for years. In the ten years I had lived in this neighborhood, I had never once seen it lived in. All i saw were the boarded up windows, the door with the broken handle, the cracked driveway and the yard that was so overgrown with weeds that it would take a landscaping crew months to fix.

The house was in the back of the neighborhood, at the end of a dead end. Most of the other streets ended in cul de sacs. This one ended at that house. If you accidentally drove down the wrong street and had to turn around, you had no choice but to pull into the large, arching driveway and head back out the other way. Though there were two more houses on that road, one on either side of the boarded up one, their driveways were on the main road. It wad as if the builders had known what that house would become and didn’t want it to infect any of the other houses.

I don’t really know why that was what was dying to come out, but I had to write something, and that was the image that had been in my head for a few days. I have no idea what the story is behind the house, nor do I know where it’s going to go, but I had to write the image down where I could. That’s probably the most description I’ve ever written. I just hope I can figure out why that house is so important.

Book 11: On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mystery #1) by Cleo Coyle

Title: On What Grounds
Author: Cleo Coyle
Page Count: 288
F/NF Fiction
Genre Mystery

Rating: 8/10

Summary:
Clare Cosi returns to New York City to run the Village Blend coffeehouse, where she worked ten years ago before she left to raise her daughter in New Jersey. Her life is thrown into chaos, however, when she comes into work to find one of her baristas lying at the bottom of the cellar stairs, close to death. The police are convinced that it was an accident, but Clare isn’t so sure. With the comatose barista’s stepmother threatening to sue the coffeehouse for everything and her ex-mother-in-law trying to get her back with her ex, can Clare find out the truth before she loses the coffeeshop forever?

Opinion:
I really enjoyed this book. It’s the first one I read on my newly purchased Nook Tablet (yes, I joined the dark side and bought a Nook this weekend – but I still love paper books!), and I read it fairly quickly. The characters were interesting, and I was constantly trying to figure out whodunnit. I also really enjoyed all the coffee facts presented in the book. There are several scenes that read more as a lecture on the proper storage and usage techniques than as a story, but since I love coffee and find everything coffee-related fascinating, I really enjoyed those scenes. For instance, I didn’t realize that you were supposed to store coffee in dark, cool places. That’s where we store ours, but I hadn’t realized we did that for a reason. I also enjoyed that she included recipes at the end for food and drinks mentioned in the book.

The book wasn’t flawless – Clare does talk about her breasts a bit more than I found necessary – but it was an entertaining read, and I’ve already started reading the second, so it’s not like I can pretend I don’t like her writing style. Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick, fun read – and especially for those who enjoy espresso drinks and want to learn more about coffee.

Book 10: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

The “opinion” section of this review contains some spoilers for this book. If you haven’t guessed what Cailin’s problem is already and don’t want to know what it is, ignore that part.

Title: Dreamland

Author: Sarah Dessen

Page Count: 250

F/NF Fiction

Genre Young adult

Rating: 8/10

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Caitlin O’Koren has always felt overshadowed by her older sister, Cass. Now Cass has run away, and Caitlin is left to deal with what’s left of herself and her family. She finds comfort in the arms of Rogerson Briscoe, who makes her feel something she has never felt before – special. But being special isn’t always a good thing, and soon Caitlin finds herself in over her head, drowning. unwilling to call out for help.

Opinion: I keep hearing great things about Sarah Dessen’s work, but this is my second attempt at reading a book of hers (the first was Keeping the Moon), and I didn’t think it was amazing. Maybe I’m just not finding the right books.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t the most amazing thing ever, but the characters were realistic and relatable (for the most part – more on that later), and I definitely got caught up in the story. I think that a lot of times it’s easy for those not in abusive relationships to look down on those who are, wondering how they could possibly put themselves in that position, and Dessen does a great job of showing how it starts slowly. He seems perfectly normal for several months, and then things get progressively worse from the first moment he hits her.

My only real complaint about this book (which sort of goes against what I said in the previous paragraph, but I’ll try to reconcile the two thoughts) is that I couldn’t understand why she stayed with him so long. When the abuse first started, yes, I can understand. I’ve always been willing to give people a second chance, so I can understand staying after he hits her once. I can even understand why she stays for several more months.

What really gets to me, though, is that she stays with him long after he starts beating her constantly. I can understand why people put up with a lot of crap – as long as the amount of time you spend happy is greater than the amount of time you spend unhappy, I figure there’s still hope for the relationship – but towards the end she’s never happy. She’s constantly fearing for her life, and she misses school because she doesn’t want to be late to meet with him, and I just wanted to grab her and shake her until she came to her senses and told someone – or at least allowed someone to see evidence that would make them worried.

I guess my problem isn’t with the writing so much as with the characters. I don’t understand them. Part of me feels that it’s the writer’s job to make those characters understandable, and the other part of me feels that I’ll never be able to understand them. Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s not my favorite book, and I wouldn’t ever read it again, but I’m glad I read it once.