Unbound (All Good Things #1) Available on Amazon/Smashwords/Unknown (All Good Things #2) coming soon.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Navel Gazing 4.0

To weep is to make less the depth of grief ― William Shakespeare 

Tears: Sometimes I think my life can be split into two parts, PK (pre-kiddo), and AK (after-kiddo). PK, I was made of stone. I rarely cried in my real life, never mind shedding tears over a plot line. It wasn't that I didn't feel sad, of course I did. I just didn't cry. AK, I weep. A lot. I weep when I think of sad things. I weep when I watch sad movies and television shows. And I definitely weep when I read sad books. So you can guess what kind of state I was in after reading The Fault in our Stars by John Green this week, right? There were tears during and there were tears after. I don't regret my ability to access my sadness in a more physical way now. In fact, I kind of like it. After a good long cry I feel somehow…sated. As if the act of crying has somehow helped to shape and contain the sadness it was connected to. I've always envied people who cry easily and while it's still difficult for me to cry at the drop of the hat, it's easier now than it used to be. And that's nothing to cry about. 

Patience: I'm about halfway through writing Unknown, the second book in my All Good Things trilogy. I'm enjoying the process of writing this book and so far, I've been pleased with what I've learned along the way. But there's a part of me that is itching to move on. Not to leave Rachel and Eaden behind for good (there will be a book three at some point, I promise you), but because there are other ideas starting to push to the front of the line. I'm trying to breathe deeply through these urges to start another project because frankly, I just don't think I'd be able to multitask (see Balance) well enough to stay sane. Instead, I'm trying to see this as my opportunity to practice patience. I think it requires the kind of faith I don't always have - faith that there is ENOUGH of everything. Time, opportunity, resources. I'll let you know how it turns out. 

And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war. - Maggie Stiefvater

 3. The Dream Thieves: Maggie Stiefvater FOR THE WIN! You know I loved The Raven Boys, right? Did you hear my satisfied sigh as I closed The Dream Thieves? This is Ronan's book, through and through. It's not just the story, and it's not just the characters, and it's not just the writing. But somehow the fusion between these three results in one of the most riveting books I've come across in a long time. I"m getting dangerously close to fangirl status with these characters (and I know I'm not alone - looking at you SQV). 

 4. Book club: Is it okay to admit I'm a book club virgin? I've always wanted to be part of one - never had the right opportunity. So when one of my friends suggested we start our own, I was thrilled. I was lucky enough to choose our first read and I've selected something YA, naturally. The funny thing is I have no idea what book club really entails. In my book club fantasies, there is wine and food and warm lighting and laughter. And of course, talk about books. My experience with these wonderful women is that we could discuss grocery lists and still have a good time, but I'm also look forward to book talk. 

 5. Balancing Act: Earlier this week I came across this video that suggests that "busy is the new fine." It's not the first time I've been called to take stock of how I fill my time and it  likely won't be the last. The hardest part about making my life less busy is trying to figure out what I would give up. In some ways, it's an embarrassment of riches. I love my family, I love my friends, I love my job, I love to write, I love to read. But trying to fit them all in a way that makes sense is hard. I think I'm managing better than I ever have before, but I realize that as life long Type A, that might not mean very much. Instead, I've adopted the idea that there will always be something I neglect, no matter how hard I try. The trick might be to ensure that no one part of my life is neglected more than any other part. Deep down, I think I stubbornly resist the idea that I can't do it all. Why can't I? Or at least, why can't I try? 

Friday, 14 February 2014

An Ink Stained Wretch

I started writing Unbound on the train. I didn't have my Macbook back then and it was easier to write in a notebook than on my big, clunky laptop with the crappy battery. I'd pull out my pen and paper and sometimes, if I was lucky, I wouldn't lift my head again until we pulled into the station an hour later. I loved those train rides. Even when I was cold and tired and just wanted to be home, I adored feeling melancholy and listening to music. And writing. Always writing. 

Now that commuting is a thing of the past, figuring out how and when to write is a work in progress. Caught between two generations, I'm equally comfortable on my laptop as I am with ink, but something about storytelling compels me to think with a pen in my hand. Perhaps we can never really escape the pathways laid down in our childhood, when we first make associations with words and stories. So I don't fight it, and I continue to write my stories in a collection of notebooks picked up here and there, my hands often covered in splotches of ink, blue smears across the bridge of my nose.  

Sometimes, as a treat, I take the day off and ride the train to the city, just so I can remember how great it feels to write in that public, protected space, shutting out the world and the rest of my life in a way that has felt much harder to do in private. 

Books are a uniquely portable magic ~ Stephen King 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Movie Romances: Oldies but Goodies

You know I love romance (if not, see here). And although I don’t need an excuse to wax poetic about my favourite fictional romances, I’m happy to have an excuse (however contrived) to share them. As a lead up to Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d start with a few of my favourite movie romances. Below are a selection of oldies, but really, really, goodies that you may not be familiar with. Feel free to share your own in the comments section. 

1. Valley Girl (1983): Probably the first time I fell in love with Nicolas Cage. Definitely not the last. Punk rocker meets Valley debutante. Typical boy meets girl, boy loses girl story ensues. Very sweet and very silly. One of the BEST last scene songs of all time (Melt With You - Modern English). 

2. Same Time Next Year (1978): Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn grow old, together and apart, in this sometimes bittersweet love story of marriage and infidelity. Alan Alda was my first crush. 

3. The Terminator (1984): Okay, so this one is not so obscure. But the love story between Sarah and Kyle made a big impression on me as a teenager. I recall declaring I would name my firstborn Kyle or Reese in tribute (I didn't). Also the first great sex scene I remember. I had a VCR - there was a lot of rewinding. 

4. Made in Heaven (1987): Best known for the strange cameo appearance by Debra Winger, Made in Heaven is a love story about reincarnation and love at first sight. It's a painful and sometimes very sad story, but the message is ultimately uplifting. The ending still gives me goosebumps.

5. The Age of Innocence (1993): This movie broke my heart. Aside from the luscious cinematography, it's a sad story of unrequited love, duty, and how our actions shape our destiny. Have never found Daniel Day Lewis more attractive.

6. About Last Night (1986): The first R rated movie I snuck into as a teenager. A gorgeous Rob Lowe and fresh faced Demi Moore struggle as a young couple trying to figure out how to have a grown up relationship.
7. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986): See? More Nicolas Cage. And Kathleen Turner. Another favourite of mine. This sometimes weird and funny story has become more poignant for me as I get older. What would you do differently if you had a chance to do it all again?

8. Say Anything (1989): Okay, okay, you know this one too, but if you've never actually seen the movie and just know about this scene, do yourself a favour and watch. Lloyd Dobler is the penultimate teenage boy in love; passionate, awkward, and full of grand gestures. Great performance by Lily Taylor as a young woman who does nothing but write sad songs about her ex-boyfriend Joe.

9. Sixteen Candles (1986): There are far more funny than romantic moments in this movie, but the ending has always been a favourite of mine. Again, a very sweet song for the final scene (If You Were Here - Thompson Twins).

10. Romancing the Stone (1984): The brilliantly funny story of a romance novelist who leads a fairly staid life until she has to rescue her sister from thugs in Columbia. There she meets the dashing rogue, Jack Colton, who may or may not be after the ransom. No insta-love here, this romance takes awhile to heat up, but when it does it's fiery.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Teenage Dirtbag

I love reading YA for many reasons. If you love YA too, then you probably share some of those reasons with me. But I'll let you in on a secret. One of the reasons I love YA so much is because I'd like a do-over. You know how people are always saying that they would "never go back"to high school? Yeah, well I would. In a heartbeat. Because I was a mess as a teenager. I know we all feel that way, but in my case, I think there's more fact than fiction. Even if my memories are coloured by my adult experience, when I look back, I shudder at the way I treated some people, my lack of loyalty, and my intense need to fit in that was in direct contrast to my "I don't care" attitude.

The grown-up part of me has compassion for the whirling vortex of emotions and insecurity that likely contributed to my poor choices. And I had some demons in the closet that I was fighting hard to keep hidden, but I'm not trying to make excuses. What's done is done and I'm proud of the way I changed and developed as an adult. But would I go back and do it all again? Hell yes. But only knowing what I know now. Which is the problem, right? Hindsight is 20/20 and the mistakes I made were the ones that led me to be the person I am today, regardless of how much I wish things were different.  Which is probably why I enjoy reading the stories of other teenagers who are struggling to get it right the first time because, well, misery loves company. There's a story idea I've been kicking around for awhile with this theme. I'm still working out the kinks, but I wanted to share my list of things I'd do differently if I could do it all again.

1. Friends: I'm pretty sure I was a mean girl. But not the most popular, prettiest girl in school version of the mean girl (i.e., Regina George). More like the girl who was just trying to stay close to the inner circle and who feared rejection so much that she climbed the ladder, occasionally stepping on the heads of those she left behind (i.e., Gretchen Wieners). If I had a second chance, I'd spend more time thinking about being a good friend and spending time with friends I trusted.

2. School: I was smart. I didn't try. I skipped a lot. In the end I figured out that school was something I really liked, but it took me a long time to get there. I wish I'd appreciated learning for learning's sake and cultivated some study habits. It took me years to stop cramming and procrastinating (actually, I still do that).

3. Self-Esteem: Recently, I heard a friend describe a young person as self-possessed. I was the opposite of that. My neuroses had neuroses. And I spent a lot of time trying to be someone other people would like instead of trying to figure out who I wanted to be. That came later. In my second time around, I'd experiment more with my identity, take more risks, try more things. I would care less about what was cool and care more about what interested me.

4. Sports: I was a very active kid and then a very inactive, unfit teenager. I rediscovered my love of exercise as an adult, but sometimes I yearn to know what my young, strong body might have been capable of if I hadn't stuffed it full of Wendy's burgers, cigarettes, and alcohol in my teenage years. I wonder what would have happened if I had kept dancing or stayed on the swim team. 
5. Boys: I'm sure I'm not alone here. I wish I had known more about what I wanted from boys. I wish I hadn't been so ashamed of my sexuality that I shamed others for theirs. I wish I had paid attention to the boys I liked, but thought were "too nice" to find out what that really meant. And I wish I hadn't spent the formative part of my adolescence in love with a boy who didn't deserve my affection or adoration.

Your turn. Would you go back? What would you do differently the second time around?