Archive | November 2013

NaNoWriMo: Finished!

2013-Winner-CertificateI reached the finish line of the National Novel Writing Month! Yay! 🙂

Today is the end of my 30-day journey, which is actually the end of the beginning. That is, when I finish my fourth novel, I’ll get back to this one (novel #5), and I will pat myself on the shoulder for having written two-thirds of its first draft.

It was a fascinating month–sometimes gruesome, always demanding, but overall fun, fun, fun! 🙂

Working on The Unknown gave me a much needed respite from my novel-in-progress and now I can resume revising it with fresh eyes.

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Erin Duffy’s “Bond Girl”

11374294[2]Erin Duffy’s Bond Girl is a fun book!

The opening scene: Alex Garrett wakes up in the morning, hungover and unhappy. She dreads the thought of going to work.

We learn that Alex is only 24, but she already has such a high-paying job on Wall Street that she can afford four grand a month for the rental of an apartment in Manhattan. She’s beautiful, brainy, and successful. So why does she hate dragging herself out of bed every morning to go to work that she loves?

Yes, she loves what she does for a living, i.e., handling big bucks at a brokerage firm on Wall Street. She has dreamed of working with money and making tons of it since she was eight years old, after a few trips to her father’s office at a bank. And she has achieved her goal right after graduation from college.

Then we learn about the beginning of her career at the age of 22.

The reality of working in a firm, predominantly populated and dominated by males, slapped her on the face from day one. Just getting this highly competitive job, based solely on merit, didn’t necessarily mean that Alex would be doing the job she was hired to do. No. Not for a while anyhow. She had to go through a hazing period. Hazing! Which, as her coworkers let her believe, every novice has to go through.

Right. The way she was treated by her boss and colleagues went way beyond amusing (amusing to them); it was downright humiliating, bordering on misogynistic.

She was not Alex to them, but a diminutive Girlie; she did not have her own desk or chair to work at. But she didn’t have real work anyway because she was not allowed to do any assignments until she proved herself to be “worthy.”

And how was she supposed to prove that? By waiting hand and foot on her boss and her coworkers. Delivering pizzas and lattes is just one example. In short, as a cliché goes, they said jump, and she asked how high.

Reading about her ordeal made me so furious! I kept thinking, why on earth wouldn’t she tell them “screw you all!” and slam the door and quit? No money in the world is worth such humiliation.

Well, to give her credit, Alex hated her situation, she really did. But she’s made of strong stuff. She wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. She decided to persevere at all cost.

And, as we usually expect from a protagonist in any story, Alex had become very successful, as we see in the first chapter. Then again, WHAT makes her so miserable now?

I’d rather not say. Read and find out how things progress from bad to good and bad again, and how things work out for this feisty, ambitious, smart, and funny girl. The ending seems predictable, and it is, in a way, but at the same time it is not.

I enjoyed Bond Girl very much. 🙂

NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo-347e908fcd6e84fe77f38fbc8b88bc6c[1]Twenty days down, ten more to go. I reached the required goal of 50,000 words yesterday. Yay! 🙂

It’s only half of the novel, really, although I haven’t even gotten to the middle of it. So I’ll have to write twice as much in order to have something to work with when I start my second draft.

I love to be in a state of anticipation. (And who doesn’t?) So it was fun to get to the computer every morning with no idea whatsoever as to what I would write about today (Where will my characters take me? What will they say? What will they do? How will they surprise me?), and then type the first few sentences of a scene and…keep typing for 3-4 hours, and voila! The scene is there, on the screen!

I wrote on average 2600 words daily, but today I…um…slacked and did only 500 words.

Well, there’s always tomorrow, right? I still have ten more days.

Author Interview: Francesca Segal

Here’s an interview with Francesca Segal, an award-winning author of The Innocents.

Although the author talks at length about her novel, she doesn’t give away too much. She lures the reader into her novel, instead. I personally want to reread it.

Ms. Segal loves Edith Wharton‘s work and says that her novel is a contemporary recasting of Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (hence the resemblance in the titles). I personally can see that: They both describe an upcoming marriage, as well as a close  community  with its virtues and vices.

What triggered her writing this particular novel? What questions, problems, ideas did she try to explore in it (and succeeded, I must say)? How was this novel received by her Jewish community in London?

These questions and many more Ms. Segal answers in this fascinating interview.

Enjoy! 🙂

Francesca Segal’s “The Innocents”

UK%20PB[1]Many of us have experienced this scenario: You want something to happen to you with all your heart, but when the time finally comes for your dream to come true you begin to have doubts, thinking, Is it really what I want?

It’s human to have doubts. Especially if you suddenly see a contrast between the “so familiar and thus ordinary” something that you are going to have, and the “mysterious and extraordinary” something that you could have had.

Francesca Segal’s The Innocents is about such dilemma. It is a tale of love and lust, commitment and doubt, promise and regret, all clashing with one another, bringing torment and uncertainty into a person’s previously strong beliefs.

Adam Newman and Rachel Gilbert have been sweethearts for twelve years, since they were sixteen, and are now finally engaged. Marrying Rachel is all Adam has ever wanted. He’s already like a son to her family; he even works for her father.  He knows her personality, habits, quirks, wishes so well that he can easily imagine what their life together is going to be like for the years to come. And he’s totally fine with it. He loves her dearly.

Enter a new girl. Ellie Schneider, a younger cousin of Rachel, comes to London from New York. She’s a model, tall, beautiful, independent, and with a scandalous past to boot. She is the complete opposite of Rachel.

Suddenly, all the qualities that Rachel possesses have become shortcomings for Adam. Consumed by lust for Ellie and envying her independent spirit, he feels stifled by the predictability and conventionalism of his fiancée and her circle of family and friends. His forthcoming marriage to Rachel, which he used to desire so much, appears to be so predictable and so boring.

I’m not going to reveal how things progress and what happens in the end, you’ll have to read the novel and see.

I absolutely enjoyed it. It’s very well written, it’s funny, and it’s wise. The characters are interesting, true to life, and memorable. I personally loved the closeness of the Jewish community, their get-togethers, their caring about one another.

The Innocents is Francesca Segal‘s debut novel and it’s a great accomplishment.

Highly recommend! 🙂

NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo-347e908fcd6e84fe77f38fbc8b88bc6c[1]Ten days down, twenty more to go. I’ve just completed my daily quota and submitted a total number of 25,000 words to the NaNoWriMo website. Which is, I’m happy to say, exactly half of the required amount of the first draft of a new novel. 50 K in 30 days is the writing goal for the participants of this particular writing marathon.

Of course, 50,000 words are not enough for a good-size novel. It would be more like a skeleton that would be beefed up later on. But my problem is that I can’t ever write just a skeleton (the beginning, stating a problem; the middle, describing the complications that lead to a climax; and the resolution of the problem). What I usually end up doing is typing down everything that comes to my mind, without sticking to a plan. Well, because I never have a plan to begin with. Besides, I can’t just tell my characters to shut up and stick to the facts. If they do a lot of introspection and reflection and reminiscing, my job is to write all that down immediately, instead of filing it away for later. As a result, my books are heavy on flashbacks and inner thoughts—always.

Thus, I’m afraid that I won’t finish this new novel’s first draft by Dec. 1st, even if I knock off 80 K words, which is my goal.

A bummer. Because I promised myself that I would take a break from my 4th novel for one month only, and would resume working on it come December.

Oh well, we’ll see…

Anyway, I pledge to write another 25 K words in the next 10 days and wish myself good luck. 🙂