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2017 Reading Challenge

2017-reading-challenge-2In 2016, my best friend posted a reading challenge. It was simple enough, twelve different books. My average is about two books per week (sometimes more, sometimes just one) and I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. And it wasn’t – even if two of the books were ones I wanted to beat my head on.

This year, I wanted to do another one and started looking at lists last week. I found this one which is technically for 2016 – but who cares? The more I looked at it, though, the more I thought, “I want more of a challenge.”

Then I found this one from POPSUGAR. Not only is it more challenging, but it has an “advanced” section as well.

As I was making the tracker in my bullet journal (above – each book will be colored in as I complete it) I decided I would combine the two as there is not much overlap. Why not? Why do a challenge if it won’t be challenging?

Who wants to join me? Share your reading challenges with me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Downward Spiral: Chapter One

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The blank canvas taunted him, chided him. Whatever you do to me will amount to nothing. You can paint whatever you want, no one will want me. I’ll sit in the corner of this studio collecting dust until you paint over worthless little ol’ me.

He shut his eyes, listening to Seether—willing the music to drown out the negativity. He pursed his lips, raising his hand to strike.

You’re no artist. You’re a waste of oxygen.

He slashed the brush across the canvas and then diagonally upward, putting his whole body into it like a taiko drummer. He continued the wild strokes until the brush emptied of color. After dropping the brush in the black jar on the table next to him, he pulled one out of a jar of crimson paint. He attacked the canvas again.

Stepping back, he surveyed his work. A fucking trainwreck.

He threw the brush at the canvas in frustration, it hit with a dull thud. The brush fell to the floor as he dropped into his chair, spent physically and emotionally.

 

Kyra tossed her keys on the table in the entry, dumped her briefcase underneath, and thumbed through the mail. The house was quiet, absent the usual rock music playing and aromas of food cooking in the kitchen.

“Ky! I’m home!” she called upstairs. Her twin brother didn’t answer.

She kicked off her black patent leather pumps and climbed the stairs, entering the first room on her right. Three of the walls were set with large windows, allowing natural light to flood the room during the day.

Kyle was slumped in a chair, arms hanging at his side with a glass of red wine in his hand. His short burnt sienna hair was messy and his jeans and white t-shirt were spattered with paint. An easel with a large canvas, full of angry, dark brush strokes was in front of him.

“Hey, Ky,” Kyra said, leaning against the doorjamb with her arms over her chest.

He startled in his seat, almost spilling his wine, and then glanced at her. “Hey, Kyr. I didn’t hear you.”

“What’s up with that?” She gestured to the canvas with her chin. “It looks like roadkill.”

“Elisha broke up with me again.” He took a sip of wine.

“What was it this time?” She’d lost count of how many times Elisha broke up with him, and couldn’t keep track of the myriad reasons she gave when she did so.

“I don’t pay enough attention to her.”

“You don’t pay enough attention to me either,” she joked, smiling. “Maybe I should breakup with you too.”

“You couldn’t if you tried.” He chuckled. “We share too much DNA.”

“Lucky for you.” She paused with a slight smile. “I’m guessing you didn’t cook dinner.”

“Sorry.”

“Order some Chinese while I change and pay the bills.”

“What do you want?”

“Shrimp with snow peas. And pour me a glass,” she said, nodding at the wine. “No reason for you to be drinking alone.”

“You bet.” He grabbed the phone off the table next to him.

Kyra returned downstairs to the master bedroom, stripping out of her black pencil skirt and ivory blouse. She donned a pair of black yoga pants and a lavender tunic sweater—it was almost spring in San Diego and she got chilly at night—then pulled her hair into a ponytail. She sat at the desk in her office as her twin brought her a glass of Tempranillo.

They sat on the floor in front of the coffee table with their white takeout boxes and glasses of wine, watching a rerun of Game of Thrones. Kyle slouched and peered into his box of Beef Broccoli while Kyra picked out a snow pea pod with chopsticks from her box.

“Are you going to try to get her back?” she asked.

“I’m done with women.”

She laughed. “If I had a dollar for every time you said that.”

“I’m serious, Kyr. I’m tired of relationship drama. I’m going to focus on my art.”

She chewed her food, pondering his declaration. She had never been fond of Elisha, but she never voiced that to Kyle. He needed a supportive sister, not another person to question his choices. She wouldn’t argue with him focusing on his art though. Anything to keep him out of the clutches of his ex.

“How was your day?” he asked.

“The usual fun day of contracts and meetings.” She winked at him. She was a lawyer for a tech company, focusing on their contracts. She didn’t do litigation—it wasn’t her thing. Not every lawyer belonged in a courtroom. She preferred writing and pouring over legalese. Analyzing suited her.

He cracked a smile and snickered. “Want to go to the museum with me this weekend? They have a Picasso exhibit for a few weeks I want to see.”

“Sure.” She settled against the sofa, cradling the wine glass in her hand with the stem between her middle and ring fingers.

Kyle lifted his glass, stopping before taking a drink. “Do you think I’ll meet someone else?”

“Only if you don’t hide in your studio.” She sipped the Tempranillo, pressing her tongue to the roof of her mouth.

He refilled his glass and then hers. They sat in comfortable silence, nursing the wine and watching Tyrion’s trial.

Kyle let out a deep sigh and poured another glass, emptying the bottle. “Do you want more?” he asked Kyra. “I can open another bottle.”

“Sure.”

She watched him stroll to the wine rack in the dining room. She knew he would be moody. After the other breakups, he hid in the studio most of his waking hours and then drank himself to sleep when he was done. This would be no different.

Being each other’s twin for the last thirty years was never easy. Where Kyle was emotional and given to temperamental outbursts, Kyra was rational and thought everything through before acting. Maybe it was what made him a good artist and her a good lawyer.

But others expected them to be the same, and that would never happen.

 

Kyle gazed at his twin as she sipped her wine. They looked enough alike that if someone was paying attention, they’d notice the familial resemblance in the shape of their oval faces and long noses. But no one ever guessed they were twins because they noticed the differences first—her darker hair and her light hazel eyes compared to his light brown eyes.

He slid his arm around her, resting his head on hers.

How can I have a relationship while working on my art? Will other women feel the same as Elisha about me and my work? Or will they be more respectful of my time and process?

His ex didn’t like his intense focus when he was into his work. It’s not that he forgot about her, it’s that he was driven to see his vision take form. Once the idea was in his head he had to get it on canvas, otherwise he ruminated over it.

Ruminating led to madness.

© 2016 Debi V. Smith, LLC

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Read What You Want Without Shame

City of Heavenly FireA piece from Slate made its way around Twitter in a flash yesterday. It’s titled, Against YA: Read what you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children. The title should have clued me in that I was about to read something inflammatory to raise numbers, which is why I’m not including a link. I only read it because an author was tweeting about it and I was confused. I thought reading it would help. I was wrong. I still don’t understand the tweets and I’m angry that someone has the audacity to tell people how they should feel.

No one gets to tell you how you should feel about anything. Feels are an automatic response. How you deal with those feelings once you recognize them is a different story. I didn’t spend ten and a half years working with teenage boys reinforcing that it is NORMAL to feel angry when someone pisses them off to sit back and have an adult tell me I should feel embarrassed for reading Young Adult fiction. No. No one dictates my feelings.

My taste in books is like my taste in music, a little of everything. I never read young adult when I was the “appropriate” age for it. I never read Sweet Valley High or Flowers In The Attic like other kids my age. I went from reading Judy Blume and Nancy Drew to Sidney Sheldon and Judith Krantz. My favorite book is V by A.C. Crispin and I read it in seventh grade. So what if I read the genre now? If I want to read The Mortal Instrument series, I’m going to read, enjoy it, be satisfied with the ending Cassandra Clare gave us, and not allow anyone to shame me for it. If I want to stand outside Barnes & Noble waiting for them to open so I can buy the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series, I’m going to.

I sat here after reading the article wondering, why am I writing? I never meant to write Young Adult, but I did. My intention has always been to make it accessible to adults, too, but someone says they should feel embarrassed for reading it? Then I remembered my former clients who serve as the inspiration for my protagonist. I’m writing it for them. I’m writing it for me. I’m writing it for anyone who wants to read it.

What does it matter what we read and enjoy? Some people turn their nose up at those who only read comics and graphic novels. Why? It’s still reading. There’s a plot. There’s a hero. There’s a villain. It’s elitist and judgmental to say one genre is better than another. We prefer one genre over another. That’s it. It’s like music. No one genre of music is better than another and I’ve never let anyone shame me for liking Barry Manilow.

Read what you want and forget what anyone says about it.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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