See Me by Nicholas Sparks

The first of the #SixtyBooks I read for 2016 was See Me by Nicholas Sparks. After finishing this book, I realized that I’ve been reading Sparks’ books for nearly twenty years — twenty years! Two decades! (Where has the time gone?)

The first was The Notebook, and I can remember reading it on a warm afternoon out in my parents’ backyard, gently swinging on a hammock, and just falling in love with the story (which I wrote a little about here). I remember crying as I read and talking about that book to anyone who would listen.

In See Me, Sparks brings uCYE67yDWMAAwdOm.jpgs back to that familiar and remarkable moment just before two people, perfect for one another, are about to meet for the first time. We meet these characters, Maria and Colin, just before they are about to change each other’s lives forever. This story of two people falling in love and the complications that ensue is one that keeps us on the edge of our seats, constantly wondering what is going to happen next.

Those of us who’ve read Sparks’ other books know that the stories can sometimes be pretty suspenseful, with lots of twists and turns, and they don’t always end happily. Throughout See Me, we experience many ups and downs with Maria and Colin.We learn about their their flaws. We learn about their very different backgrounds and their complicated pasts. We worry about what is going to happen to them.

In contrast, the secondary characters in this novel, are a lot of fun, offsetting the otherwise pretty serious nature of the storyline. And though there are some very tense moments in the story when we aren’t quite sure what kind of terrible things are about to happen, we somehow still feel safe through it all, wrapped up in the signature warmth of Sparks’ storytelling.

~Melissa 


Book synopsis from the authors’ website:
Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot.  With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line.  To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life.  Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.

Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success: with a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record.  And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her home town and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

A chance encounter on a rainswept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves.  As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface.

As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria’s life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways.  Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they’ve begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour?

Rich in emotion and fueled with suspense, See Me reminds us that love is sometimes forged in the crises that threaten to shatter us . . . and that those who see us for who we truly are may not always be the ones easiest to recognize.

Day 20 of CampNaNoWriMo and still at 14,342 words

I came across this on Pinterest and it reminded me of this project. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/194640015121419009/

FORWARD IS FORWARD, NO MATTER HOW SLOW
It’s Day 20 and my novel is currently 14,342 words. You might think that I would be frustrated or discouraged with my progress. You might think that I should be worried.

I am not.

I actually still feel pretty good about it.

My novel has taken a few turns since I started to draft. I recognize this as a good thing. The characters are telling me where to go, not the other way around. It’s their story. I am following their lead. It is all coming together.

Instead of spending the last few days drafting, as I had intended, I’ve been reorganizing. I’ve been adjusting some of the plot lines and changing the nature of some of the relationships. A few new characters have presented themselves in the process.

The novel is already a different novel than the one I set out to write at the beginning of the month. This one is better. It’s stronger. It’s on its way.

~Melissa

Day 2 – 7,612 words

7,612 WORDS SO FAR
This idea is now officially a work in progress!Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 4.48.57 PM

(I’m not so sure how much sense these few thousand words make just yet, but they’re there, all in one document, in some kind of an order. They’re a beginning.)

As I promised myself, I’m not doing any editing work until I’ve finished writing the entire draft. There will be no second guessing character names. There will be no wondering if certain paragraphs are really necessary. There will no looking back, whatsoever.

42,388 WORDS TO GO
Looking forward — all the way to the end of the goal — is, well, kind of daunting. I know that the momentum of the first two days isn’t likely to continue throughout the month, but it is still a really good start. I like this idea and the way it is forming; I like the characters that are emerging. I feel good about this project.

And tomorrow is another day.

How is your writing going? Any tips or suggestions for this determined writer?

~Melissa

Don’t forget to write! Going to summer camp at CampNaNoWriMo

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 8.36.04 PM
Look on the bright side; there’s nowhere to go from here but closer to the goal!

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…
I’ve tried this challenge of writing a novel in one month a few times before. Each of those times, I have been unsuccessful. But hey, nothing says “hopeless optimist” like dusting yourself off and trying again, right? All jokes aside, I know that successfully completing this challenge is possible and it is really going to be about applying the growth mindset.

I’ve got this.

I feel good about this time.

This time is already off to a different and promising start. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo before during November, not during the summer. So this is actually my first time as a CampNaNoWriMo camper.

Like any good camper, I am getting ready. I’ve completed my registration…and I’m looking forward to meeting my cabin-mates soon! Having a support group of other writers will be something new this time around. I have already thought about the project that I want to work on. It’s one that I’ve been thinking about for a while, but haven’t started writing yet; it’s perfect for this challenge. I’ve even gone ahead and set up the donation page to help raise funds for the organization.

And like a true camper, I will be writing letters home about my stay. I’ll share these letters about my novel progress here on the blog. It will help keep me accountable for finishing.

THE REVISED GAME PLAN 
Okay. I know what you might be thinking. You don’t have to scroll far through old posts on this blog to see previous attempts at finishing this challenge and keeping myself accountable, but I won’t let those experiences deter me. It’s okay. Not succeeding at the challenge before just means that I’ve already learned a few strategies to help me win it this time. (There’s that growth mindset again.) Those previous attempts have simply helped me to understand the challenge better and better understand what I need to do to complete it.

This time around:

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 8.35.52 PM
1600 words a day is going to be a piece of cake. 😉

1) I will write first thing in the morning – When I’ve tried this challenge before, I waited until later in the day, after work, after all my other responsibilities were finished to sit down and write. Not this time. This time the writing comes first.

2) I won’t be picky about my writing tools – Sometimes the best ideas come to us when we aren’t planning to write. When these ideas come, I’m not going to wait until I am seated at the computer to work on them. I will write them down in my notebook, on a back of an envelope, a napkin, or my own hand if I have to. I’m not going to let any ideas escape this time.

3) I will leave the editing for later – It’s hard for me not to go back and revise my work as I go. I know this really slowed me down a lot in the past. This time, I am not going to let myself even look back at what I’ve written until the whole thing is finished. (See point #4 for more explanation.)

4) I will use my outline – To write a full novel in one month’s time, it takes a lot of discipline. I’ve tried it before without an outline and it was just not a good idea. The outline will keep me on track and make sure that there is always something to write about. Most importantly, I will have the outline to refer back to instead of  needing to look through sections of previous writing — and won’t be tempted to revise until it is time.

Wish me luck!

And don’t forget to write!

~Melissa

1,000 Word Pledge Update – Day 6 and Challenge!

I have to say that this has been a really good decision on my part to listen to the advice of others!  (Pat on the back for me.)  

And, I would like to extend the challenge of the 1,000 Word Pledge to anyone else who wants to finish something that they are working on.  Your own pledge doesn’t have to be 1,000 words (it could be any amount you choose or even a page count rather than a word count), but it has to be something that pushes you a little further than you have pushed yourself before.  

Today I wrote over 1,000 words just for the novel (which is now at a total of 13,260 words).  Yesterday, my total word count was 1123 words (over a few projects).

Think about it and if you decide to take the challenge, leave a comment abut what you are doing.

Happy writing!

~Melissa 🙂

1,000 Word Pledge Update -Day 4

Today is a “work day” so it is a good test of my commitment to the pledge…and I passed the test! After working all day, I wrote 262 words for the thesis, 735 words for the novel and 315 words for miscellaneous projects (not including lesson plans or blog posts) for a grand total of 1,312 words today!  (I wrote over 1,000 words yesterday as well…mostly on the novel.)

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

I hope everyone else is having as productive a day as I am!

~Melissa 🙂

I wonder though, if I did keep track of all the words I wrote today including lesson plans, blog posts, emails, handwritten notes, and everything else, just how many words in total that would be?  Has anyone ever kept track of how much they actually write in a day for purposes of general communication?  I want to look into this further and perhaps share some statistics with my students…it might be interesting!

Commitment and the 1,000 Word Pledge

I have noticed that on a multitude of blogs, the authors post entries about how many words they have written that day, the status of a particular project (there are even widgets designed specifically for this purpose!) and I have sort of read those entries and just said, “Okay.  Gee, thanks for sharing.”  But, I have to admit that I get it now!

I am probably the most inconsistent writer there is.  I always was.  In high school – somewhat, in college – definitely, and I would write when I was on the bus, walking on campus, when I was at work, or during calculus class when I should have been trying to understand the math!  I couldn’t help it – I didn’t have a routine and just wrote when the ideas came to me.  I’d stay up all night and work on a paper or story if I had to, but it all seemed worth it because the end product was usually pretty good.  I still write my papers and stories in that way now.  When I have an idea, I jot it down and the next time I have an idea, I jot it down and before I know it, the project is finished.  

Well, I am going to try to take the advice I have been given (by many) and commit to a word count each day.  Now, I have to be completely honest here because the word count is going to be divided among the major pieces that I have in the works.  The first piece is of course my thesis, the second is a novel, and the third is going to be whatever else comes along.  This may sound disorganized to you, but believe me it is much more structured than I have ever been.  

So, my pledge is to write 1,000 words each day.  (Productive, substantial words that I feel good about.)  I think the the pledge is important because our attention spans are diminishing these days, we are all over-booked, and required daily to multi-task more than ever.  This commitment will hopefully be exactly what I need to accomplish everything that I plan to in the next year with regards to my writing.  

Wish me luck and let me know if you have made similar writing commitments or pledges to yourself.  Has one worked better than another for you?  Am I being too easy on myself or is 1,000 words a good number?  Be honest!

~Melissa 🙂

PS…Blog entries don’t count!