Tag: inspiration

Book Review: Any Dream Will Do, by Debbie Macomber

 

any dream will do
Image belongs to Ballantine Books.

Shay Benson loved her younger brother, Caden, so much she would do anything for him. That “anything” landed her in prison, where Caden left her to her fate. Now, after having served her time, Shay is determined to start her life over and forge a future she can be proud of, leaving Caden—and the rest of her bad memories—behind. Homeless and with nowhere to go, Shay enters a church looking for a warm place to spend the night, and maybe some answers.

Pastor Drew is struggling to raise his children in the wake of his wife’s death three years ago. All he can feel is the pain of her loss, and everything else, including the kids and his church, takes a backseat. Desperate for a change, Drew goes to his church looking for answers, and meets Shay, another seeker. The two become friends as Drew tries to help Shay get back on her feet. Their friendship blossoms into something more, until Shay’s past and a secret threaten to end her dreams of a future for good.

I don’t typically read a lot in the romance genre, although I used to. It’s just not my favorite anymore. However, I do make an exception for Debbie Macomber, as her characters and stories are usually so engrossing. Any Dream Will Do was no exception, and Shay has a dark past that left her struggling to find herself in her present. These characters face many obstacles as they slowly grow to love each other, and their struggles are believable and realistic. If you’re looking for some light reading with a great message, Any Dream Will Do is a great choice.

Debbie Macomber is the best-selling author of many books, including non-fiction and romance.  She loves to tell stories. Any Dream Will Do is her latest novel.

(Galley provided by Ballantine Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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The Long Run, by Catriona Menzies-Pike

the long run
Image belongs to Crown Publishing.

Catriona Menzies-Pike lost her parents in an airplane crash when she was twenty, and spent years floundering. Then she started running, and found a way to move through her grief.

There have always been obstacles for women runners, from cultural constrictions to clothing to men considering it flat-out dangerous. Catriona talks about these problems when she talks about running, and she talks about some of the (underrated in the public eye) triumphs of women in running as well.

The Long Run isn’t a book about some grand triumph in flashy Rocky Balboa style—it’s more about the quiet sort of triumph, one filled with personal satisfaction, accomplishment, and contentment with your own ability. The history of women runners is interesting and frustrating at the same time—why did men find women running so threatening?—and I learned a lot from reading it.

If you have any interest in running or the women’s movement, give The Long Run a read.

(Galley provided by Crown Publishing.)

Writing Update

The truth is, there is no writing happening lately, unless it’s for school or a work email. I just don’t have the brainpower. I have been feeling COMPLETELY overwhelmed with work/school/life and everything I want to accomplish…

Until I realized that wanting to do too much actually results in me doing nothing. Not with any degree of proficiency, anyway.

So…for now, I’m limiting myself to blogging/book reviews, work, school, and Holly Lisle’s Find Your Writing Voice and How to Find Your Writing Discipline workshops. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony.)

I just need to let some things go for a bit before I lose my grip on everything.

The Yellow Envelope, by Kim Dinan

The yellow envelope
Image belongs to Sourcebooks.

In May 2012, Kim Dinan and her husband sold all their stuff, quit their jobs, and headed out to travel the world. The Yellow Envelope is their story.

On the surface, Kim Dinan had it all:  a good marriage to a husband she loved, a good job that paid well, the home she’d dreamed about filled with friends and activities that she enjoyed. But inside, she wondered:  is this all there is? Kim concluded that no matter how great her life looked, she would never be truly happy if she didn’t reach for her dreams.

So, she and her husband, Brian, sold their house, quit their jobs, and set off to travel the world. Before they left, they were given a gift: a yellow envelope containing a check and instructions to give the money away as they saw fit. Through Central America, Nepal, India, and beyond, Kim and Brian encountered the world in all its splendor and squalor, overcoming obstacles to their dreams, their travels, and their marriage, as they learned the truth behind their quest for happiness—and how to give.

The Yellow Envelope is about a woman reaching for her dreams, and finding happiness along the way. The travel stories are inspiring, but not as inspiring as the way Kim goes after what she knows will make her truly happy, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. The message behind the actual yellow envelope is also life-changing and worth embracing. I recommend reading this if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, want to travel, or simply need a change.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks via NetGalley.)

Walking to Listen, by Andrew Forsthoefel

Walking to Listen
Image belongs to Bloomsbury USA.

 

After he graduated from college, Andrew Forsthoefel decided to walk across America, really listening to what the people he met had to say. Walking to Listen is the tale of that journey.

Andrew Forsthoefel went out the door of his home in Pennsylvania with a backpack and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He’d just graduated college and was ready to start his adult life…but he didn’t know how. So, he decided to walk across America, wrestling with the hard questions he asked himself every day. Everyone he met would be his guide.

From winter in Appalachia to Death Valley in August, Andrew experienced the true breadth of American geography, but it was the people he met that truly inspired him. He met kindness and fear, diversity and prejudice as people told him their stories. He faced loneliness and fear, but love and hope carried him through his amazing journey.

Walking to Listen is the story of one man on an incredible journey, but it is more than that. The people he meets, the encounters he has are truly inspiring and bring hope for the future amidst the darkness permeating our culture. This book…sure, it’s narrative nonfiction about a journey, but it is so much more than that. The people Andrew met gave me so much hope, and made me want to reach for more. Not only does this book showcase the true diversity of this nation, but it gives a face to the human experience. I highly recommend reading this.

(Galley provided by Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley.)

Looking for Inspiration

Today, I’m looking for something to get me writing. Inspiration, motivation, some kind of cattle prod wired to my chair that zaps me if I get up…. You know, the usual.

I work best under pressure, or with “too much” to do. Something about knowing there are a ton of things that need to be done keeps me focused and allows me to get things accomplished. (A close friend once told me, “You get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do all day!” This is easier if your days routinely start at 3 a.m. I’m just saying…)

My new class—my first journalism class—starts tomorrow, and I’m moderately terrified (likely to upgrade to “completely”.). My job responsibilities changed last week, with the addition of an entire second location to do administrative tasks for. Then there’s the novel I’m writing, the one I’m actively revising, and the one I’m outlining. Not to mention the copywriting class I’m working my way through. And the book reviews that are due or past due. Blogging. I think you see my point.

While this would normally prove super-motivating and really keep me focused and on-task, sometimes, I have to fight a little bit harder to get inspired. (Hence this post instead of my first 500 words of fiction for the day.)

With that in mind, here are four things that might motivate you (and me) to write:

31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing, by Leo Babauta

Inspiration

A Writer’s Inspirations, by Shea

10 Tricks For Getting Inspired to Write, by Jonathan Morrow

 

Fits and Starts

Sometimes, the writing comes easily. Sometimes…it feels like running a marathon with 10-pound weights on each foot:  impossible.

This week, it has been both for me.

I did manage to get at least some words written every day Monday-Thursday, although Tuesday and Thursday only saw a handful, nowhere near my goal. Yesterday, I was mentally done with the week, and I didn’t even try.

Today…it’s been going fairly well. I only have 500 words to go to meet my word count goal for the day…which was initially 0, but since Tuesday and Thursday were barely productive, I knew I needed to make them up today. So, 2,000 words so far today, 500 to go.

Feeling a lot less completely overwhelmed with life and work and school as a result.

Love

hvd
I don’t own this image.

I hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day, whether you have a Valentine or not. Love yourself. Eat chocolate. Be happy. Love is important, and loving yourself is near the top of the list.

Write something you love today, no matter how simple. Try out something you’ve been meaning to write. A limerick? Haiku? Adventure short story? Cheesy high school romance? If you love it, write it. Worry about the details later.

Whose Line is it Anyway?

(This show used to crack me up. I just don’t think fast enough on my feet to be able hold my own on a show like that, but it was hilarious.)

I’m not sure if the first line of a story causes me more fear and second-guessing, or the last line, but I’m leaning towards the first line. Think about it:  you’re trying to set the tone for an entire novel (or novella or short story or essay or paper…), and you want to capture your audience’s attention as well as the feel of the entire novel. In that one sentence. That’s a lot of pressure for one measly sentence, a mere handful of words.

So which tone do you take?

Iconic? “In the beginning…”

Fantastical? “Once upon a time…”

Historical? “It was the best of times…”

Character-driven? “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful…”

(True story:  I actually know the entire first half-page or so of Gone with the Wind by heart. It’s my favorite book ever, and while stylistically it’s not something I can emulate, it certainly paints a vivid picture of Scarlett right off the bat.)

I mean, if we were watching a movie, that opening shot would be—comparatively speaking—much easier to establish setting, world, character, and plot. You’ve got visuals. You could use Johnny Depp against the ocean, or bright words rolling up against a backdrop of stars. There’s an immediate feeling of place.

But what’s the literary equivalent of that opening shot?

My advice is not to worry too much over it when you’re writing your fist draft. (Are you listening, self?) If you have a brilliant idea for the perfect first line, use it. But write the entire piece or novel, and when you go back to revise, get your story in the best possible shape you can, then take a look at your first line. Chances are good that your story will have changed so much that that “perfect” first line is no longer even relevant.

But you’ll have a much better feel for the story and what you’re trying to say, and I’m betting that crafting that elusive perfect first line won’t be quite so hard with that in mind.

Things All Writers Understand

Just a few things from my Writing Pinterest board that all writers will understand. (I don’t own any of these images, but bless their creators, for totally understanding the struggle.)

block
At this point, it could be either one…
coming-together
I LOVE this feeling!
dory-writing
It’s sad how accurate this is <looks at list of 4 planned novels for this year, including the shiny new one that happened two weeks ago>.
first-draft
…one of which planned novels is the full re-write of the first thing I ever started writing…
inspiration
Motivation comes in many forms.
old
Actually, I’m too afraid to look at my VERY first draft.
plotting
If I only I could be the first one.
writer
Wait, I thought everyone hung upside down. You mean they don’t?
writing
I might resemble the last picture…
youre-a-writer
Guilty.