Pic Pick Friyay!!!

I love these two pictures. They are some of my first landscapes that I took on film when I was really trying to learn photography. I wish I would have noted the settings and film type! I know I was shooting a few roles of Fuji Velvia around then and judging by the saturation I am going to say it was probably that.

I was in college at the time and was looking for a creative outlet and that’s when I really started to get into photography. I love to hike and be outside and photography was/is a perfect companion for that.

Have a great weekend and make some memories!

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Experimenting with depth of field and low aperture.

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Mt. Baker from the North at sunset.

-Miles

Three Distractions That Kill Writing

Since I began writing my YA novel I have become incredibly efficient at everything other than writing. My house is cleaner than it’s been before my son was born. My office is organized, my kitchen is tidy and de-cluttered. We rearranged the furniture and I planted my hanging baskets.

Every time I think, I should get back to my book, a new chore pops into my head that has to get done right away. Procrastination is fickle, ever-changing, and a writers worst nemesis. Aside from chores, here are the main culprits of distraction that I battle every day.

Television

Oh sitcoms, you are my downfall. F.R.I.E.N.D.S, The Golden Girls, The Middle, and many more. I could easily lose days watching these shows. It’s so tempting to zone out when my son is sleeping and just let the television entertain me.

Turn off the damn television Rachel.

Internet

Here are the tabs I currently have open on my screen:

  • Amazon
  • Redfin
  • Yahoo
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Etsy
  • WordPress (duh)

Poor little Microsoft Word is minimized at the bottom of my screen and shovedlike a pair of dirty socks out of my immediate visual proximity.

I can justify WordPress because I’m writing and engaging with other writers, but the rest of the tabs I should just close up and put away for an indefinite while. They are total time-sucks. I spend so much time reading about other people’s success (real or otherwise) when I should be focusing on my own goals.

Close the damn tabs Rachel.

Reading

Reading is valuable research, but also my deadliest procrastination. If someone told me I had to chose one source of entertainment to pick, reading would win hands-down every time. Aside from spending time with my friends and family, reading is my greatest joy. It’s my drug and my own YA book pays for  my addiction.

My Solution: Balance

To complete our goals we all need balance. If I gave 100% to my goals, I would burn out and I can’t allow my patience to extinguish, because my husband and son need me too. I have given up A LOT of my television time, that addiction was by far the easiest to weed-out. I’ve tried cutting back on the internet, but it’s more persistent and follows me wherever I go (hello smart phone). So I try really hard to just check my notifications, and I don’t allow much scrolling. I focus on the most important media outlet (WordPress) and spend most of my time there. I still get sucked in, but I’m working on it.

As far as reading goes, I am only reading one book at a time and I allow myself to read AFTER I write before bed. I also sneak pages in while my son is playing or during nap time. I’m a firm believer that reading is critical for writers, and I simply refuse to deprive myself of the joy of reading.

What are some of the deadliest distractions to your writing? How do you battle your procrastination demons? Let me know in the comments below.

I gotta go, my Microsoft Word icon looks sad and neglected at the bottom of my screen.

♥R♥

 

 

Book Review: Illegal

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A promise.
Quinceañera.
A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday . . .

Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father’s return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceañera.

Bettina Restrepo’s gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl’s unique yet universal immigrant experience.

Restrepo’s book “Illegal” tells the story of Nora, a young woman from Mexico who goes in search of her beloved father in the US when he goes missing. Nora is a female protagonist that you root for from beginning to end. She is strong, sweet, caring, tough, and loyal. You want to see her succeed and you want to reach into the story to lend a helping hand.

“Illegal” is authentic and genuine. Nora’s dangerous and tough journey of crossing the border and establishing a life in the US provokes compassion and understanding. I highly recommend this story to people of all ages.

Happy Reading.

♥R♥

10,000 Words Deep

I reached the first milestone in writing my YA book. I reached 10,000 words this morning. Actually, 10,343 words to be exact when I looked at my word count. The average YA story has around 55,000 words, so I know I still have a long way to go, but I’m a firm believer in celebrating little victories.

This is a sandpaper draftit’s rough, but I love it like the awkward toddling little creative creature that it is. I’m basically just spewing out the story as I write, but it’s very cathartic because I have been carrying my ideas around with me for about five years.

I’m doing a little happy dance (quietly because there is an actual baby in the next room still sleeping).

Have a wonderful Sunday!

♥R♥

Pic Pick Friyay: Seattle Flight

Miles and I lived in Seattle briefly (six months). During our short stay, Miles surprised me with a flight around Seattle. We had a total blast, and it still warms my heart that he included me on this adventure.

Miles up in the sky (eh, see what I did there?) Miles took some pretty fantastic pictures.

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Happy Friyay!

♥R♥

ALL PHOTOS ARE COURTESY OF ©MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY.

A Book Review: ‘SO Shelly’ & What is YA?

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Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly’s ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly’s body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last “so Shelly” romantic quest. At least that’s what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly’s and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.

Warning: Contains mild spoilers.

Are you on the fence about reading young adult (YA)? ‘So Shelly’ by Ty Roth may be the perfect introduction to the YA genre for you. On Good Reads this YA novel has a mixed bag of reviews. Some readers thought that taking three poets from the early 1800’sGeorge Byron, John Keats, Percy and Mary Shelly and throwing them into a modernday setting was an epic failure. I thought it was a creative concept. I appreciate Roth’s clever turn-of-phrase and the literary devices and detail that Roth incorporated into ‘So Shelly’.

But

(That’s a big but)

After reading ‘So Shelly’ I had to wonder how this novel could classify as YA. There are some deeply disturbing scenarios that the three teens encounter in their lives: Rape, incest, pregnancy, abortion, death, child molestation, just to name a few. I decided to look up the definition of YA literature and this is the best description I found on The Guardian:

Writers across the board at YALC agreed that the sine qua non of YA is an adolescent protagonist, who will probably face significant difficulties and crises, and grow and develop to some degree – Patrick Ness described it as “finding boundaries and crossing them and figuring out when you end, who you are and what shape you are.” According to Matt Haig, YA is also remarkable for “blurring the boundaries” of genre and refusing to adhere to the rules of more rigidly defined literary fiction. There are YA “books that end on a hopeful note, books that end on a happy note and books that don’t”, Malorie Blackman has said, arguing for the necessity of both. And in a time when slut-shaming and body dysmorphia are endemic, and it’s especially difficult to navigate adolescence for girls, YA, according to Sarra Manning, is particularly rich in heroines, resonating with readers who feel isolated, freakish and”not good enough”.

So Shelly has:

  • significant difficulties.
  • blurred boundaries
  • a sad ending  and (kind of happy?)

So Shelly does not have:

  • character growth.
  • a strong female protagonist.
  • admirable characters.

‘SO Shelly’ was not inspiring for young women. Shelly (the female protagonist) was a victim and was hopelessly weak because of her infatuation with the womanizer Gordon Byron. Shelly didn’t even tell her own story, ‘SO Shelly’ was narrated by her friend John Keats. The two boys, literally carried her body around throughout the entire story and only in flashbacks did Shelly retain her body and voice. Shelly had zero autonomy, she was sexualized and powerless. The only time Shelly made her voice heard was when she had an abortion and committed suicide. But her voice was drowned (no pun intended) by the two egocentric boys that dominated her life. Even in her most decisive moments  she whispered rather than roared.

I appreciated Roth’s creative story plot and writing style, but I didn’t find any of the character admirable. I sympathized for them and their individual struggles, but I wouldn’t want my son to emulate any of their decisions or behaviors.

I am not a prude when it comes to reading material, but I don’t see how this book encourages teens to handle their problems in a healthy way. John Keats obsessed over death due to his family’s early demise. George Byron was molested and abused as a child and he becomes a cold-hearted  misogynist. Shelly was also molested, had an abortion, and decided to kill herself. Teens that have endured these tragedies need and DESERVE better role models.’So Shelly’ demonstrated the absolute worst-case outcomes.

After reading ‘So Shelly’ I have to wonder why we even have the category YA? What makes this controversial novel any different from an “adult” novel? Is it simply because of the age of the characters?

If you have read or decide to read “So Shelly” please comment on this post. I’m very interested to hear your opinions. Even if you haven’t read the novel ‘So Shelly’ what does YA mean to you?

Happy Reading.

♥R♥

Pic Pick Friyay: Colchuck Lake

Hello everyone. I hope the sky is blue wherever you are like it is outside my window.

I reached WAY back into the computer’s memory bank and found some pictures from a hike Miles and I did in 2009. We had a great time exploring Lake Colchuck located in Leavenworth Wa.

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I make friends.

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

♥R♥

The Ones That Stay

The Ones That Stay

While you were gone, working your 9-5, our blue-collar-town changed. People smiled, talked, engaged. Movement slowed, tension reducedWe are the ones that stayed.

I used to go.

My body in a suit of automobile armor, leaving home before the sun came up. I engaged the commute war.

I drove quickly past wild flowersI didn’t see them. The air conditioning blasted. The heated, wild roses of summerI didn’t smell them. I could not hear the bird’s song over radio advertisement. I was not anywhere. I was everywhere.

Now I stay.

My heartbeat pulses to the rhythm of community. I recognize faces—Happy exchanges. We enjoy our town, we share this space.

We stay.

♥R♥

PHOTO COURTESY: MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY