Tag: school

Book Review: A Short History of the Girl Next Door, by Jared Reck

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Image belongs to Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Matt Wainright has lived in the same cul-de-sac as long as he can remember. His best friend, Tabby, has always lived just across the street. They’re inseparable, and Matt can’t imagine anything ever changing. Except his feelings for Tabby. Matt never saw that coming, and he has no idea how to tell her, but he will. Probably. Until a senior basketball star falls for Tabby, and suddenly everything changes.

Now his best friend is always too busy, and instead of shining on the JV basketball court, Matt finds himself fumbling. Even his younger brother is driving him crazy. Only his favorite class, creative writing, seems to make any sense. Then a tragedy occurs, and Matt can’t make sense of anything, as his life spins out of control and he teeters on the edge of self-destruction.

I was not prepared for this book. At all. I loved Matt’s voice from the very beginning. (With that movie-director voice in his head, of course he’s going to be a writer.) He has grand visions of himself, but his follow-through doesn’t always live up to his hype. This book captures the hope and the confusion of high school, as well as the gobsmacked feeling of first love. I laughed, I hoped, and I cried, right along with Matt. You MUST read this! I’m looking forward to seeing what Jared Reck writes next.

Jared Reck is a teacher who writes alongside of his middle school students. A Short History of the Girl Next Door is his debut novel.

(Galley provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>

 

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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.

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

 

Local Writers’ Event and Reader’s Indecision

This week was fairly productive, considering it was the first week of grad school (Eep!). I did a tiny bit of writing—1,000 words or so—in The Fall, plus outlining 10 scenes in it as well. Having an outline made the writing flow pretty well. Something I know, yet I still started writing this story with no outline. Smart move, there.

I did a little outlining in the Witches revision, also. I’m sort of feeling my way with that, since I’ve revised the story several times, and this is more of a re-write than a revision, but I’m using the current draft as a guideline. We’ll see how that works out. My voice and style have changed significantly since I originally plotted the story.

Yesterday I attended a local authors’ event with a friend. It’s part of the library’s Year of the Book promotion. Each author had a table, and they each spoke for 10 minutes.

yotb
Lineup of authors.

My friend and I went because we both love Rachel Caine’s work. (I’ve read The Morganville Vampires series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season spin-offs, and her re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve been wanting to read her The Great Library series as well.)

Somehow, by sheer luck, we arrived about 15 minutes before Rachel’s talk, just in time to hear Sarah MacTavish. (I feel like I’ve heard of her, but can’t swear to it. I read SO MUCH that authors sometimes get a little bit mixed up in my mind sometimes.) I enjoyed her talk, and the short chat I had with her afterwards, and bought her book, Firebrand. Young adult fiction about the Civil War from an author who carries her supply of books in an R2D2 suitcase? I’m sold! I’m looking forward to the read, just as soon as I wrangle enough time from my schedule for it.

My purchases for the day:

books

It’s been quite a while since I purchased physical copies of fiction. The bottom two books I bought at the event, the top three at B & N beforehand. I was so excited when I got home, but I had serious reader’s indecision:  What to read first?

Answer:  Firstlife, by Gena Showalter, because I’m hoping to get approved to review the second book in the series, and because I’ve been interested in this one for a while. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

Confession:  I read the entire thing last night. Loved it! The concept is so unique, and the characters compelled me from the first page. You should definitely read this!

Busier Than Ever

Things will probably be kind of scarce around here for the next month or so. My new classes just started, with a heavy work load, and I’m moving in a month so I have to pack and go through all of the stuff in storage.

So, I’ll be working on Siren Song and the Witches even less. On the up side, I started writing my final project for my capstone class this morning, and it’s a short story related to my idea for the Camelot story, so at least I’m doing some fiction writing.

The Week of Big Goals: Result Update

So, I was supposed to be off all last week, and I had big goals:  “writing two essays, starting another, and beginning work on a leadership project, in addition to a plethora of textbook-reading), but I’m also going to get in six solid writing sessions. At least that’s the plan. And six brainstorming sessions as well.” How’d that turn out?  I’m glad you asked. (I’m pretty sure you asked, didn’t you?)

I actually ended up working Monday evening  and Thursday morning for a few hours, so the week wasn’t quite as free as I planned. But…I got those two essays written, and 1/5 of the third one done as well. Made a start on the leadership project. Did all the homework/quizzes/reading for this week. I think I only got in four writing sessions, but that’s twice as many as a normal week, so I’m calling it a win. I also edited TWELVE FREAKING CHAPTERS in Witches (I totally didn’t realize it was that many. Wow.) I also moved all my drafts to Google Docs, which took a ridiculous amount o f time, considering there were 10 manuscripts. I worked on brainstorming/outlining for my three current WIPs. Wrote a total of six blog posts. And read six books.

Dang. I was way more productive than I thought. Even snuck in a couple of naps, too.

That was my week, for the win!

Weekly Ramblings: Editing and a Hospital Visit

Real Life Update:  I started my new job last week. This week, I was in Dallas for training. Wednesday morning, I had a brief visual disturbance (double vision) that scared the crap out of me. My doc wanted me to get checked out, so I had a brief eval from paramedics, then spent several hours in the E.R. at Baylor Dallas. CT and everything was clear, so they released me. My new boss came to check on me. I was horrified, but that was awesome of him. I’m off until Monday to rest (so I missed almost all of Wednesday, and all of Thursday, but that’s it). I feel fine. No issues since, and they’re pretty sure it was stress-related, but I see my neuro next Friday to get his take on it. (In case anyone is wondering, I had a stroke two years ago without warning. Haven’t had any of these issues in about 15 months.) I took it easy yesterday–pedicure and a nap–and I’m taking it easy today as well. I feel fine, but I think a nap is next on the agenda.

Writing Update: Got my words in on Siren Song last week. I’ll get a few more today/this weekend, as well as some editing.  My Personal and Professional Editing class should be interesting. This week, we learned about Style Sheets (which I’d never heard of), so I’ll be grabbing that idea and running with it. If you’re interested in how editing has changed, our textbook is Editors on Editing (ed. by Gerald Gross), and the essays are pretty fascinating to me.

Decisions, Decisions

In my Creative Writing class, the reading assignment for next week is about Revision. Revision is not my favorite part of the writing process. It is, quite possibly, my least favorite. (Okay, perhaps tied with writing the first sentence, but that’s a whole other phobia…) Revising is hard work. Sometimes I can see what needs re-worked right away. Sometimes I might as well be trying to read it in Braille or Swahili, for all the sense it makes to me (I speak /read neither, by the way). I know revising is necessary, that it is essentially where the magic happens, but I don’t really enjoy it or anticipate it.

That being said, while I was reading about revising, all I could think about—all the Muse could think about—was the werewolf story. I love the characters in that story, the world, the conflict, everything about it. The writing is done. It’s even been revised (once). But it could use some more work, some fresh eyes. I’m wondering if the Muse is trying to tell me something. Perhaps I should put in a little bit of revision time on this story, as well as drafting The Fall? (And it would only be a little bit of time, because that’s all I have to give.)

I could do it. Maybe only an hour a week, but I could. Then I could start writing the next one…ah. Delusions of grandeur are on the agenda today, I see. Considering my weekly writing goal for The Fall is two measly pages, and I’m doing good to hit that, now I’m mentally gearing up to write something else. I really have to stop trying to do too much.

What do you think? Add a small bit of revision into the mix, or stick with just writing for now?

Time Flies

So, I just wrote four pages—my page goals for the past two weeks—in one sitting! Not that four pages is astonishing or anything, but it’s writing, and my characters and their world are starting to come to life for me. Which is a good thing, obviously, since what’s the point of writing about dead characters? (Unless they’re zombies or vampires. Then, maybe.)

The story is starting to burn in the back of my mind now, and I love it. I wish I had more time to spend writing, but…I don’t. it’s not that I waste a lot of time on TV or anything like that, I just don’t have time to get everything done I need and want to do. There are several non-negotiables in my life:

1) God. I give my time to Him in various forms, and that won’t stop.
2) School. Do I even need to say that this is a huge priority?
3) Work. Obviously, not working isn’t an option for me.
4) Training. Have I mentioned that I’m doing a half-marathon in December, and hiking the Grand Canyon next May? This will require some time.
5) Writing. Beyond school stuff, and the fiction, I have three blogs. (Well, four, but the fourth has lapsed for now.)

So you see my problem here? If my days had like 28 hours in them, I would be golden. Sadly, I don’t have Hermione’s Time-Turner, so that option is out for me. I’m sure I could better use my time, but I’m at a loss as to how. If anyone has any suggestions, tips, tricks, apps, ideas…I would love to hear them. I need help with this! My Muse wants to write, and I want her to be able to.

fits and starts

I actually sat down and wrote a couple of pages the week before last. Not an astonishing amount, I know, but actual writing, so I’m good with it. Then school started last week, and my “free time” dwindled to “none”. I didn’t work on The Fall at all last week. However….

Did I mention I’m taking Creative Writing this session? I’m less than thrilled about it, as I knew it would involve writing short stories and poetry—a.k.a Things I Hate to Write—but it’s required, so what are you going to do? So I actually did two writing assignments last week, of a couple of pages each, plus discussion board postings. So I wrote. It just wasn’t fiction.

This week, I totally intend to remedy that Lack of Fiction Writing in my life…starting today.