I’ll be honest: November has been a bit of a roller-coaster month, with pretty sharp ups and downs. I started the month feeling super-positive, but when a lot of things on my to-do list piled up, I started getting anxious and stressed. A particularly frantic moment inspired me to write this post and led to a mini-break from writing to focus on things not on my to-do list… Namely, shopping, wine, and long walks. I came out of my writing break feeling refreshed and eager to write new words. If you’re a writer struggling with burnout, my advice is to not feel guilty about taking some time away. I’m not going to lie, I struggled with guilt at first, but now I can see that it was the absolute best thing for my mental state. And November turned into a pretty awesome month.
This month, I have been…
One of the highlights of my November– a hike at Fanshawe Conservation Area.
Working on: I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. I love fast-drafting and the excitement radiating off the whole writing community, and there was a new idea percolating in my head, so I went for it. I didn’t tell many people I was NaNo-ing. I didn’t do word sprints on Twitter and I wasn’t public about it like I normally am. I guess you could say I was a ninja NaNo-er? Either way, after my writing break, I was way behind on my word count, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to “win.” But I love nothing more than a challenge, and I’m proud to say I passed the 50K mark and have a shiny first draft of a book I’ve been describing in my head as “trouble.” Well, it’s not all that shiny. It’s kind of tarnished and rough around the edges, but it’s words on pages and those words make up a book-shaped thing that I’m excited to start revising.
Reading: November has been another stellar reading month. I started out by reading my Sixteen to Read sister Shannon Parker’s THE GIRL WHO FELL, a book I had been deliriously craving since what felt like forever. And… wow. Shannon’s writing is electric, her characters vividly real. THE GIRL WHO FELL is the story of Zephyr Doyle, a senior who has life mapped out– until cute new boy Alec shows up at school and turns her world upside down. She thinks she’s in love– but love isn’t supposed to make her feel bad, and it’s not supposed to hurt. Zephyr’s story is both heartbreaking and hopeful and I know this book will leave a huge indent in the YA world.
Next, I read Kerry Kletter’s THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED, another debut I had been (very impatiently) waiting for. I went in with high expectations, all of which were shattered to pieces. This story is about a lot of things– losing yourself, finding yourself, first love, second chances– but centers around a very tenuous and toxic mother-daughter relationship wherein secrets are buried so deep they can’t be seen from the surface– so deep that the main character, Cassie, can’t bring herself to remember them. Kerry’s writing is lyrical, poetic, and strikingly original. This is a book I’ll read more than once and pick out new details every time.
I finished the month with Kathryn Purdie’s BURNING GLASS. I tend to read less fantasy than contemporary, but the premise for this book hooked me right away. (Plus, the cover is so stunning!) The main character, Sonya, is an Auraseer– she is gifted with being able to feel the emotions of those around her. But when she’s tasked with serving the emperor and sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is thrown into a world where she has to figure out who she can trust and how to harness her powers. I was immediately swept up in the magic, the lush setting, and the romance of this gorgeous book.
Watching: My husband and I finished Scandal and were in a bit of a Netflix funk until we started Wentworth, an Australian drama set in a women’s prison. I started out comparing it to Orange is the New Black (and missing my favorite character, Crazy Eyes), but after a couple episodes, I definitely like it as much, if not more. There are obvious similarities– including glimpses into the lives of the women prior to prison– but lots of differences too. Wentworth feels grittier and darker to me, which I love. I’m looking forward to watching more (aka binge-watching the rest of the episodes, since I have no self-control when it comes to Netflix).
Well, that’s my November in a nutshell. Now that the colder weather and snow have arrived (sob), I’m getting excited for the upcoming Christmas rituals– decorating our tree, watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Scrooged, baking this delicious and addictive treat, and scrambling to get my shopping done. It’s really hard to believe that FIRSTS comes out in just over a month (!!!), and that 2016 is almost here. But in the meantime, I’m going to squeeze all the fun I can out of what’s left of 2015!
Oh, and stay tuned… there’s some really fun stuff related to FIRSTS that I’ll be sharing very soon!