2012 Writing Goals

I went to a writer’s group meeting this weekend, and the assignment was to bring a list of writing goals for 2012. I thought I’d also post them here and maybe have a little more accountability.

1. Really learn how to use Scrivener, the writing software I got a few months ago, including all its features, etc.

2. Finish editing Elmsgate, a short story, and submit to a publisher by March 31.

3. Revise and edit Queens of Winter, a young adult fantasy novel, and then explore options with publication.

4. Participate in NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo, (whichever month looks more doable).

5. Write another 2-3 short stories and enter competitions or submit to publishers.

6. Write out an outline of a novel, beginning to end, and begin writing it, either to use as a NaNo novel or something different.

So there you have it. My 2012 goals. There are also a few personal goals that would help me succeed in life, and in turn, writing. Those would be:

1. Work part-time instead of full-time. This would give me more time and increase chances that I’d stay sane.

2. In order to work part-time, I need to pay off all of my students loans and/or have a baby. I’ve been working on both of these goals diligently for about four years. The end is in sight for the loans, but not for the baby.

3. If I’m going to be able to stay home and write more, I don’t want to be stressed out to be in my house. This means that I either hire a housekeeper, or that I don’t work outside the home and I can clean and keep things the way I want them to be. Again, this goes back to goal number 2. And if the housekeeper is an option, the house needs to be finished. (My husband is constantly working on something. He is very talented as a handyman, but the progress is slow due to many factors.)

So, in summary, if I really want to focus on writing, it looks like I need to move towards the life I’ve always wanted, which is getting out of the pharmacy full-time, living in a completed, well-run home, with children, and no student loans. I don’t think this is too much to ask or to hope for, but the road still stretches far in front of me, with no end yet in sight.

 

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Crossed

After I finished Matched, by Ally Condie, I immediately read Crossed, the sequel. I wanted to know more of Cassia’s story, and that of her choices.

With a bit of help from her parents, Cassia is sent to work in a labor camp, under the pretense that it’s a punishment for being rebellious, in the Outer Provinces. She takes an opportunity and is taken to a place where she knows that she will be closer to Ky. She discovers a bit of information and takes her chances escaping with her friend, Indie, into the Carving, which is basically a canyon.

After wandering around for a few days, Cassia and Indie find Ky and Eli, a boy that Ky took with him because he reminded Ky of Cassia’s younger brother. They make contact with the last of the farmers, a group of people who lived independently in the canyon, away from Society and the rebellious Rising. Ky wants to live independently, but Cassia has decided that the Rising is what she wants, so after much of an internal struggle, Ky decides to go with her.

They discover some secrets about the Society and more about each other. Cassia also finds out that Xander has a secret, and that Ky and somehow Indie, know what it is. When the three of them make contact with the Rising, their future is decided in much the same way as it might be in Society. After all, the Rising is just another system. It is decided that Cassia can best serve them from within Society and immediately sends her to Central, the Society’s capitol. This is also where Xander has been currently posted. Ky and Indie will not go back to Society.

And so the young lovers have again been separated, and Cassia has been sent back to Xander. And of course, Ky can’t help but wonder if Xander’s secret will be enough to make Cassia chose him instead.

Words and poetry play a large role in this book and the story. Condie’s writing style is also reminiscent of poetry, with some passages being absolutely beautiful to read. While I do love the story and the world that Condie has created, I couldn’t help but be disappointed with this book. At times, I felt like some passages were a bit confusing in that they were so ambiguous. What exactly did a character mean by that? What was that in response to? And what does this poem mean in this part of the book? Did something happen that the reader is supposed to infer from the poem and its placement? I just wanted more. More story, more action, and above all, more depth and emotion from the characters. I mean, I really like Cassia and Ky, but I want a story that brings tears to my eyes. I want to feel their pain and misery. I truly want to be sad if one of them dies or they get separated.

I believe the third and final book in the trilogy is coming out later this year. I can say that I’ll definitely read it, just because I want to know what happens. And the covers of these books are gorgeous too.

Matched

I recently read Matched, by Ally Condie. This is the first book of a new young adult dystopian trilogy. While I haven’t read too many dystopian novels, I had read quite a bit about this series and had high expectations going on.

Cassia has just turned 17, which means she is eligible to be Matched by Society. At her Matching Banquet, other 17 year olds are shown their matches on a screen, as everyone is matched to someone they have never met, who lives in another province. The Society choses matched couples mainly for breeding purposes, in order to achieve “optimal results.” However, the system has worked, so Cassia sees no reason to question it, especially not when she discovers that she has been matched to her best friend, Xander.

After the banquet, she examined the microcard given to her with information about Xander. But when she views it, Xander’s face disappears and is replaced by someone else’s. She knows this person too. Ky lives down her street. Of course, this causes Cassia to question everything, and peaks her interest in Ky. As the two get to know each other, she of course falls in love with Ky, while she still loves her best friend, Xander, creating the typical young adult love triangle. I was a bit disappointed here. Not so original.

Cassia discovers that Ky is an Aberration, due to the fact that his father committed an Infraction, which means he is not eligible to be matched or to have a decent job. At the end of the book, the Society relocates Ky to the Outer Provinces, where the war on the Enemy is apparently not going well. Cassia decides that she must try whatever it takes to find him again.

I did like the world the author created. The Society tries to control everyone and everything, including the timing of death (on a person’s 80th birthday), the matching of couples, interests, jobs, etc. All citizens are even required to carry tablet containers at all times, which hold a tablet used to erase memories of the past few hours, a tablet for calming purposes, and a tablet to sustain life for a couple of days if an emergency arises. The Officials are always watching, and sometimes even a kiss is considered a crime.

While I was slightly disappointed in this book, I will continue to read the series. I definitely enjoyed the book and the characters, but I admit that I was left wanting more. More depth, more feelings, more originality. But I’ll reserve my opinion until the series is completed.

 

The Language of Flowers

About the book:

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is a beautifully written story. I especially enjoyed how the chapters alternated back and forth between the main character’s past and present, which truly demonstrated how she came to be the person she was. I have a few mixed feelings about this book. Victoria struggled throughout the book to really believe she was a decent person, capable of loving and being loved. Finally by the end, she figured out that running away was just not the best option anymore and decided to try to be part of a family. However, there were many times I just wanted to strangle her, too.

I believe my favorite part of the book was learning the language of flowers, and the meaning behind flowers, trees, and even moss. This goes back quite a few years to when there were hidden meanings in bouquets that gentlemen would give to their ladies. It’s a shame this has been mostly lost today. I only hope that the next time my husband sends me flowers he doesn’t send conflicting messages.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I immediately spotted Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, as I was browsing in Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago. It had a very unique cover, and when I picked it up I found that it was filled with strange, and sometimes disturbing, photographs. After I read it, I could say that the written text and the pictures combine beautifully to create this unusual story.

Jacob, a teenage boy, is the narrator. He has a very close relationship with his grandfather, who used to tell him all sorts of wild tales when he was younger. As Jacob grew up though, these tales about the levitating girl, the boy with bees living inside him, and the monsters, just didn’t seem as real as they did when he was a child. And he begins to believe that his grandfather has only been exaggerating or making up the stories. But then, after a panicked phone call from his grandfather, Jacob rushes to his home, only to find him in the woods, dying from being attacked. His last words to Jacob are something about a letter and September 3, 1940. Then Jacob looks up, and he sees a monster.

His grandfather’s words and the clues he’s left behind lead Jacob, and his father, to a small island, where his grandfather lived in a home for orphans and refugees during the war. On the island, he discovers the past about his grandfather, new and peculiar friends, and that even his grandfather’s darkest tales were true. Any person with an unusual ability is defined as “peculiar.” These abilities can be just about anything, such as abnormal strength, being invisible, making inanimate objects come alive, and being able to see the monsters. Miss Peregrine, also a peculiar, is able to manipulate time, and she has been replaying September 3, 1940 on a loop for the past few decades.

However, even with the safe haven Miss Peregrine has created for her children, there are still dangers and those that seek to destroy the peculiars. Jacob finds that he has inherited his grandfather’s ability to see the monsters and knows that he must do his part to ensure the safety and survival of his new friends, even if it means leaving his own family, and time, behind.

This book was magical, and I was so excited that it was truly original. From the cover, I’d expected it to be a bit creepy, but instead of horror, it just had some dark plot twists. The ending was left open for Jacob and his friends to continue their adventures, and a sequel is reportedly coming out sometime in the Spring of 2013. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly how I feel about a sequel to this book. I feel like it stood for itself pretty well and I just don’t know how a sequel might impact that.