Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weekend Reads: The Lauras

An escape. A road trip. A pilgrimage to understand one and discover the other. In The Lauras, a woman is faced with the need to get away from her life, and in doing so pulls her child Alex with her. The relationship between mother and child grows and develops as they hit the open road, both trying to find different things while still holding onto the best parts of their individual pasts.

Although the story is told through Alex, it is Alex's mom's stories that are prominent throughout the book. These stories about all the different Lauras (a generic name given to all of the transformative women in Ma's life) are sort of destinations on the map across the United States. In each stop that the pair make, there is a quest or a task that Ma must complete before she and her child can move onto the next phase of the journey. It is through these stories that Alex learns about Ma and her childhood, and intertwines Alex's own story of growing up in the present. All of Alex's needs and all of Ma's secrets play a delicate tug of war to provide plenty of interesting moments in the novel.

The one aspect of this book that seems to settle in the background until on a few occasions it is brought to the forefront is the fact that Alex wants to remained untethered by gender identification. The key to reading the story of Alex is to push yourself past the assumptions you make while you are reading the story. I know that I found it difficult to not put Alex in a box, based on the actions Alex took and things Alex thought throughout the novel. I had a clear idea in my mind who Alex was at the beginning, but as the novel went on, it morphed and I turned out second guessing my original thoughts about who Alex could be. I even skimmed the novel after reading it to see if the author provided any hint as to how Alex couldn't fall into at least one gender stereotype to give away the answer, but Taylor was great at crafting Alex the way Alex wanted to be portrayed. 

That's the whole idea of Alex's side of the story--if you want to respect Alex's narrative, you must give up trying to figure out whether Alex is male or female. Alex doesn't want it to matter to the story, so it shouldn't matter to the reader. With or without it, it's a good story of family, of adventure and the need to know whether the definition of home is within a place or within yourself.

Interested in reading The Lauras for yourself? You can find out more information about the book from Penguin Random House. You can also learn more about Sara Taylor by reading her bio.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ending Camp and Beginning Again

It's the last day of the month, so that means I only have to write 6412 words by midnight to meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal.

Uh... since it's Monday (the busiest day of my week) and since it's more than 5k left to go, I doubt I will make it. This project isn't schedule to be released until January 2018, so I know I don't have to rush the process right now. I just have to get it all down on paper first.

The best thing I can do right now is keep it all in perspective. Not hitting 10,000 words in a month seems like I was slacking, but when I take the time to consider how many words a day I really write, it doesn't seem so bad. Combining paid freelancing gigs, blogging, book reviews and journaling, I probably write close to 5k per day before I start working on any of my other projects. If I had the luxury to do nothing but work on one single project for the whole month, I don't think it's out of this world to say I could write a full first draft every 30 days. But who has that luxury? I'm not sure any writer does.

And then comes August. I like to try and concentrate on a single project every month, and I'm leaning towards scripts again with a drama feature that I just need to finish revising. I'm still trying to get my pesky toes in those waters, but it's slow going. Stage 32 seems okay for networking, but without a completed project (other than short scripts I've done in the past), there's not really any momentum. But my drama would be cheap to produce, so let's see if I can network with the right person at the right time.

What are you working on in August?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Marathon Has Begun!

I mentioned a couple of months ago I was setting up a reading project for myself, but stayed vague on the details. So, what's the project? I've embarked on a reading marathon. I'm giving myself a year (hopefully that's enough time!) to read the entire Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin--plus Super Specials, Mysteries, and spinoffs. Thanks to a user on this BSC board for the complete list, I know that it is 367 books. But they are children's books, so maybe I have to invest an hour and a half to each, including note-taking time.

Why am I doing this? Honestly, I don't entirely know. There was a hankering to do it, so I decided now is the time. I know what it's not--it's not some desperate attempt to recapture my youth, because most of the time I spent reading these stories as a kid I finished each book wishing I was a character in it and totally jealous that I wasn't. Though I can see it being beneficial to me as a writer, because it's a deep study of a successful series that's stood the test of time. And I never got to read them all as a kid, so now I can fill in the gaps.

Originally, this marathon was supposed to be for Sweet Valley High and all of those spinoffs because I only read a few Sweet Valley University titles in middle school (and loved them, of course), but there were a few problems with a SVH marathon--the major problem being the spinoffs are not available for Kindle yet. And I'm a stickler about reading in chronological order, which means there are three or four spinoffs that take place before the original series. The additional problem with a SVH marathon is that there is no single list of every title available like the BSC has, and as far as I can tell while I'm putting one together myself, there has to be close to 600 books. I'm a good reader, but whoa... maybe that marathon needs a little more planning.

Along with this is all that regular, mundane adulting I have to do. Like finishing the third installment for my Kindle Worlds series. It's going slow, but it's going. I still hope to succeed with 10k words before the end of the month. I just need to give myself a little boost to get through that first draft.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Are You Getting Ready for #PrimeDay?

It's that time again! Amazon's going to be crazy over the next couple of days because they are offering some amazing deals to Prime members. Not a member yet? You can sign up now so you won't miss a thing:

And here are just some of the deals that you'll find for this year's Prime Day. Which of these are most appealing to you?

Prime Day 2017 - 30 Hours of Deals

Kindle - Up to 40% Off Kindle Unlimited

Get 4 months of Amazon Music Unlimited for $0.99

Save 20% on Select Home Services Leading Up to Prime Day

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Few Short Updates

I'm getting back into the swing of things, full force this time. And here's just a few updates about what I'm embarking on this summer.

Upgrading The Career

I've been freelancing for almost a decade, and for most of that time I've had a sense of pride for how little I have had to invest to live the dream (which is probably 60/40 dream/nightmare at any given time). But things are changing. I'm still committed to making money solely from writing/editing/being generally creative, which means I have to start upgrading the business. I've been making tons of lists on what I have to do to get all of this going, but really it starts with two simple things: a P.O. box and a website.

Without a business address, I've been stunted at what I can do. I can't have a mailing list through MailChimp or any other company without one, and I certainly don't want to put out email blasts with the home address. Without a website, I don't feel I can do all I need to do with communicating my writing services, my work, and everything else. That, and as good as Blogger has been to me, it just doesn't look professional to have a Blogger web address on a business card (which is another one of those pesky tasks on my list). I'm amazed I've been able to work this long without these two very important items, but that time is coming to an end.

Submissions Calling

When it comes to submissions, I'm getting back up on the proverbial (and temperamental) horse. Although I missed the deadline to send in my poetry chapbook to one particular press, the manuscript itself is not dead. I've been researching places that take chapbooks and have found quite a few that may be a good home for what I've created. I found this list of chapbook submissions particularly helpful, and maybe you will too if you have something to submit.

Unfolding Life on Playster

Draft2Digital just added a new distribution channel, Playster, and I've placed Unfolding Life on it. Honestly, I hadn't heard of it before this, but it seems similar to Kindle Unlimited where you buy a subscription rather than individual titles. So, if you're already a subscriber, please check it out. And by check it out, I mean read the whole thing, because with subscription services, I don't get paid unless the book gets read.

Those Lashes, Though

I've also been keeping up with my product testing and reviews over at Showered in Beauty. The latest review is for Revlon mega Multiplier Mascara.

That's it for my updates. What are you working on this week?