Monthly Archives: November 2017

Final Appeal

Continuing in the mystery vein, I decided to try out Lisa Scottoline, a well known mystery author I’ve been anxious to read before.

I thought Final Appeal would be a little more of a courtroom drama mystery. When Grace Rossi takes a part-time job with a federal appeals court. But she finds herself in the middle of a death penalty appeal, an affair with her boss, and unexpectedly in the middle of a murder investigation, one she’s heading up herself.

When Grace starts digging and uncovers some suspicious evidence, she starts sketching a picture in her mind, and it’s not pretty. But the hard evidence is hard to come by, and time seems to be running out and things are getting dangerous for Grace.

I almost didn’t keep reading this book, as within the first two chapters it seemed the whole book was going to be focused on the romance. I was pleased that that was a short lived focus. However, it wasn’t quite the rapid-fire courtroom drama I was expecting. Instead, Grace investigated on her own, sneaking into offices and apartments to look for anything that might give answers. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

All that to say, I did enjoy Final Appeal. It was an interesting read with some unexpected twists and turns. I’ll admit, I didn’t actually expect the end result, and it was actually a little more realistic, focusing on human ambition instead of something elaborate.

I’m definitely interested in reading more of Lisa Scottoline. Along with about a zillion other authors and books.

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Keeping the momentum going

November this year feels like it falls weird, in terms of weeks. I’m not even sure if I’m in the third week of writing, or where I am. It’s throwing me off, mostly just for knowing what week to reference in these blogs.

Whatever week I’m wrapping up and starting, I’m still, surprisingly, on track. Last week was challenging, my schedule changed a little and I got really behind. I managed to still write each day, which is more than I’ve managed in years past. And over the weekend, I managed to write about 10,000 words, so, that bolstered my confidence.

I got some additional planning done too, mapped out a few extra chapters, though the end is still ambiguous.

This week will be possibly the hardest to keep on track. With Thanksgiving, and the kick off of the busy season at work, I know I’ll be tired and busy with family. But, if I use the time I have and I’m intentional about it, I know I can stay on track.

And at some point, I’ll have to cast my mind out and decide on the ending.

This story has already changed so much from what I first expected it would be, I’m excited to see where it ends. And then January will be time for editing and revising. But, we’re not there yet. It’s still November, and still time to write with abandon.

And the good thing about Thanksgiving being early this year is that, after the weekend, I’ve still got several days left for binge writing. I’m confident that not only will I hit the goal of 50,000, but I’ll be able to write the ending too.

So, here’s to soldiering on, even through food comas and all the rest.

Fragments of the Lost

I’ve been meaning to read a Megan Miranda book for a while, as I’ve heard she’s a good thriller writer, so, naturally, an advanced copy of her newest book became available, I snatched it up right away.

Fragments of the Lost is geared toward young adults, and is the story of Jessa Whitworth and her ex-boyfriend Caleb. After they broke up, Caleb’s car washed off the side of the bridge in a flash flood. Everyone’s decided Jessa’s to blame, since it was her track meet he had left on the night of his accident. Caleb’s mother demands Jessa pack up Caleb’s room, and as she boxes everything up, Jessa struggles with her guilt and with the growing realization that their relationship seemed to be built on a foundation of lies. Jessa dives into her own investigation, trying to find out why Caleb was on the road, where he was going, and what she truly knew about Caleb. But she’s quickly finding out that she may not like the answers she uncovers.

Within the first few sentences of this book, I was hooked. It’s chock full of drama and mystery and flows at a fast pace. The story is told in first person, a mixture of present moment and flash backs from when Jessa and Caleb were still together. This makes it easy to get into Jessa’s head and see everything from her perspective, follow her thoughts to the same conclusions she reaches. But the book has several twists and turns to keep readers on edge, and the short chapters make it really easy to promise yourself “just one more.”

Being geared toward young adults, of course there is romance throughout the whole book (not the least of which is obviously the flashbacks from Jessa and Caleb’s relationship). But I was glad to see there was much more to the story than that. If the rest of her books are anywhere near as good as Fragments of the Lost, I’m really going to enjoy catching up on Megan Miranda’s books.

Nano Week Two

As week two is wrapping up of this magical writing adventure, things are going well for me.

I’ve been writing every day, which is a big success for me. And I’m on track to finish on time, so even though I haven’t been getting ahead like I’ve wanted to, I’m still where I need to be.

I’m thinking this week I’ll have to focus a little bit more on planning, as I’m quickly coming up on the end of everything I’ve planned out thus far. But, the good news is that in the last couple days, as I’ve been writing and thinking about where this all may lead, I’ve got some ideas, and some that I think will be surprising to anyone who reads my book at some distant point in the future.

For me, this is the exciting part about writing and always has been, that moment when the story starts to tell itself as you go along, and you start to uncover layers and twists that you’d never even dreamed of when you started. It’s when the hazy ending you thought you were headed for starts to clear up, and you see you were totally wrong. Some people might find that maddening, but for me, it’s exciting.

In just a couple days, I’ll reach that halfway point in the month, and in my writing (for the basic goal of 50,000 words, my goal in the last few years has been to finish my project, which is usually a little bit more than 50,000). As always, I’m hoping to store up a little cushion in the week to come so that I don’t have to worry if I don’t get so much written during Thanksgiving weekend (I’m having a hard time believing that’s already next week!).

All in all, the month is progressing well, and I’m struck once again at how much smoother things seem to flow when I’ve done even a rough outline of planning. I still get stuck at certain points, trying to figure out what else to add to a chapter to make it more than a page long, but I don’t find myself getting so far behind because I’m stuck and don’t know how to move forward. If I don’t know where to go, I move on to the next chapter. There’s the rest of forever for editing and revising, and now I know that’s something I’m capable of doing as well. It’s easier this year for me to tell that little voice inside my head to shut up and let me write. We’ll deal with the mess later. For now, there’s a story bursting to be told, if even just to myself.

Charlatans

I’ve known for a while that I wanted to try out Robin Cook, who is a fairly popular medical thriller author. So I checked out a copy of his latest novel, Charlatans, and, while good, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

Charlatans is, mostly, the story of Noah Rothauser, a surgical resident at a renown hospital in Boston. His career is flourishing until he finds himself tangled up in office drama. After the death of a well-known and loved hospital security guard, Noah develops a relationship with Ava London, the anesthesiologist during the surgery. When two more deaths happen on her watch within as many weeks, Noah finds it harder and harder to dismiss the nagging questions he has regarding Ava’s performance.

Meanwhile, Noah experiences growing paranoia as it seems like everything in his life is falling to pieces. And in his quest to find answers, Noah realizes how easy it is for people to present who they want to be in person, while truly being someone completely different.

Despite the name, I guess I somewhat expected Charlatans to be a little more like what I expect Cook’s other books to be–where the thriller part is due to medicine, and not so much a hospital drama about secrets. In my mind, I guess I was expecting house, but got Grey’s Anatomy instead (though, to be fair, I’m not quite sure I’ve seen a full episode of either show). Charlatans wasn’t bad, in fact, I enjoyed the book, once I got past my expectations.

It was quick paced and easy to read. My one complaint was that Ava London’s character felt very stiff. I’m still trying to decide if I think that was on purpose, because of who she is, but, even if that’s the case, I’m not sure it really worked. I get that she’s supposed to be anti-social, but she came across more like someone who learned English from a finishing school mistress and speaks with no colloquial flavor. In short, not very realistic, to me.

So all in all, it was a good book. Definitely interesting, the main theme revolving around how technology is shaping the newer generations. But, I’m still really interested in getting my hands on one of Cook’s medical thrillers. Maybe after Christmas.

Into the Wild

If you’ve ever done NaNo before, you know it’s wild. If you haven’t, I’m sorry.

We’re getting close to a week in to NaNo, and so far I’m caught up. I got off to a slow start with some long days that didn’t leave much time for writing. I steal as many moments as I can, but I really am most successful when I can sit down for an hour alone and just write.

But my story is progressing smoothly. I plucked names out of thin air, so I haven’t had to use fillers yet, which is pretty great. And even in these early stages, some of the upcoming unknowns are starting to hint at resolution.

I have not done any additional planning for the later portions of my story, which I’ll need to start doing fairly soon. Because although I’ve got something like 13 chapters plotted, those chapters will go by very fast. I never seem to be able to milk them for as many words as I want to. Oh well.

So to anyone else writing, we can do this. And to those supporting us, thank you. And the rest of the world, we’ll see you in December.

Code Girls

I had just been lamenting that the show Bletchley Circle was so short when Liza Mundy’s Code Girls came out. Code Girls is the untold and largely unknown story of the women who helped break German and Japanese codes during World War II.

Mundy begins by introducing several women whose lives the book will follow, showing how they received secret letters inviting them to secret meetings and were offered positions in code breaking. Many women, bored with teaching and anxious to contribute to the war effort, said yes.

Code breaking was used during World War I, but not to the same extend and to the same success in World War II, though the groundwork was laid for women to be involved, as some of the stars of World War I code breaking we’re female as well.

While not particularly the story of any one woman but a picture of the collective experience, Code Girls was a very interesting read. You really get a feel for the secrecy, for the pressure and importance of the work. Plus you get a little understanding of how code breaking is, and you see how hard it is.

It reminded me a little of Hidden Figures, and I could easily see this as a movie or even tv series.

All in all, it was a good book, and not a challenging read, as far as history books go.