Monday Check In on Tuesday-- Hashtag Pesach Problems

Okay, a few catch-ups! The last week has been really busy so this is a bit of a catch-all post that should have gone up yesterday, except I worked a full day yesterday and bolted to Delaware for Passover Seder. I think I can get a pass on being late, right? I'm running on matzah and nutella, guys. It's going to be a long week.

1. I did not read every day last week. Oops. I did finish REFLECTED by Rhiannon Held and zomg I still love that series so hard. Honestly, it's one of my favorite adult fiction series. It's family & 'small town' political drama playing out amongst multiple packs of werewolves. And I typically don't LIKE paranormal type stuff with werewolves and vampires? But Held's background as an anthropologist has given her books that extra punch that helps me suspend my disbelief. Her understanding of wolf pack dynamics, of people dynamics, politics, and mythology makes this series a MUST READ honestly. Start with SILVER and read in order. Oh did I mention one of the two main characters suffers from pretty serious PTSD causing other mental health issues and it's handled SO WELL? Yeah, that's right. Now go to the bookstore and pick up SILVER. 

2. The other book I read was LIKE NO OTHER by Una LaMarche which comes out in July. I received the ARC from a friend who picked it up at ALA Midwinter. GUYS, YOU WILL NEED TO GET THIS BOOK. It's a West Side Story esque tale of a Hasidic girl who falls in love with a black boy who lives in her neighborhood but because of her community's insular nature and past volatile race relations between their communities, they've never interacted. I've read other books with Hasidic characters and sometimes, I feel like the character is just being used to criticize Hasidism. And while it's not a religious path I would ever choose, I'm not a fan of myopic critiques of faith. In LIKE NO OTHER, the critiques of Hasidism are done gently, and without a heavy hand, while the community's positive attributes are absolutely held up. Devorah's struggles with faith felt VERY real to me, and I loved Jaxon's attempts at trying to understand her faith (he Wikipedias it and learns everything about Shabbat rules). This is a beautiful, incredible, and brave book. I loved it so much and I cannot wait to buy my own copy. 

Onto YAB Bootcamp Updates! 

My goal last week was to finish the outline for Five of Hearts, my YA contemp proposed series (though I'm obviously working to make the first book a standalone because publishing). I finished the outline! It's wonderfully long (5k) and terribly helpful. I sent it off to my CPs and got feedback including two subplots that disappear halfway through the outline and a character who should be a major secondary character but she has too small of a voice on the page. 

This is why I advocate for CPs seeing your outlines because damn that was a) true and b) really helpful.

So I did some adjustments and dragged myself through the first chapter. My main character (who might get a name change)  is really angry, really volatile, manipulative, and barely clinging to self control. As such, she's somewhat hard to hold onto as a narrator, especially since she changes her attitude and words for certain people because she's manipulating everyone around her. It's hard to keep her internal narration consistent but her external projection constantly morphing depending on to whom she's speaking. 

I have the utmost respect for people who write these characters regularly.

I sent a first chapter off to my CP who has been super enthusiastic for this project for the months I've been brainstorming it and she gave me good feedback (conflict set up well, MC needs to be grittier and rougher, aka what I was pointing out above). 

So this week, my goals for YAB Bootcamp are:

1. Another chapter for 5oH (literally this might be my slowest draft ever but I'm hoping it'll speed up when I get a better grip on this narrator)

2. A short story connected to magicballoonbook just for fun/practice.

Keeping April manageable and in smaller goals right now. So far, crazy busy month. 

Hope your April has been less chaotic than mine so far!