Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shifting and "Getting Things Done"

Shapeshifting and productivity tools make for exactly the strange combo of myth and reality I love. So the shapeshifting comes in with Bethany Wiggin's wonderful new YA novel, Shifting, which releases Sept. 27. Feel free to skip the "Getting Things Done" mumbo jumbo and scroll down to get more details on Shifting.
 
In my last post, in which I introduce myself to visiting Campaigners and reveal my worst writing weakness,  I lament on how my procrastination is so bad at times that I'll even procrastinate reading the helpful blog Procrastinating Writers to help me get motivated. I love to write, but revising is not so much fun, so I keep putting it off.

"Getting Things Done" by David Allen (also known as GTD) is a cult classic apparently on-par with the Atkins Diet as far as popularity, but I only just started learning about this productivity system (and with a lot of reservations. After all, the Atkins Diet didn't work for me).

But right away, as I started implementing GTD at my day job, I started thinking "hey, maybe this will help me with revising my novel, too." 

I am not a type A personality, so I have some concerns about using GTD for anything to do with writing - even revising. The thought of reducing my stories and dreams and creativity down to a bunch of lists seemed akin to dying a slow, crumbling death.

But here's David Allen's take on GTD and personality types:
From all my years of working with probably every type of reasonably healthy and effective person, I’ve noticed no particular bias of style that “favors GTD” more than any other.  Of course, the real question inside that:  What is GTD?  If you think it’s about organizing lists, then of course the left-brainers may fall in step. If you say, on the other hand, it’s really about the most effective way to produce and maintain clear psychic space, then the “creatives” will most resonate.  Eliminating static appeals to everyone, in his/her own way, and for his/her own reasons.... it opens vistas and catalyzes thinking. Could it be that GTD is truly on the nerve of the larger integration of yin/yang, creator/destroyer, right-brain/left-brain, linear/associative polarities?
Opens vistas and catalyzes thinking? - and claims to improve productivity? Sounds like something fiction writers could use. I actually did find a few blog posts from writers, like this one,  who have tried the GTD method, with what I'd call "reserved optimism."  I plan to give it a try.

Now, away with the ugly P words (procrastination and productivity) and on to pure fun with a dash of suspense:

Shifting, by Bethany Wiggins


Maggie Mae lost her family when she was six, and has been moved through dozens of foster homes, never lasting longer than a year at any place. Within a month of high school graduation, she's being forced to move yet again, with her only possessions in a single duffel bag, a few hand-me-own clothes.

But the kid's got spunk. At her first day of school, she meets Bridger - gorgeous, well-dressed, obviously rich - and he hesitates when asked to show her around the school. As she compares herself to him, she thinks: 

I wouldn't want to be seen with me either. "I don't need any help, Mrs Carpenter. I can show myself around," I said not taking my eyes from Bridger's. 

"I don't mind," Bridger said halfheartedly, running a hand through his hair.

"I don't want to be seen with you. It might tarnish my image," I replied, tucking my hair behind my ears. It was easier to go to school when everyone thought you were a loner because you chose to be, not because you were dirt poor and dressed all wrong. 

The book tempts you to think Maggie is going to experience a Cinderalla-like reversal in fortune. Her latest foster-mother, Mrs Carpenter, is eccentric but wonderfully kind and supportive. She even manages to accept Maggie's shapeshifting abilities without freaking out. 

And the girl can shift into a cheetah! - how cool is that? In fact, the cover for the ARC I got to borrow had a picture of a girl facing off with a cheetah, and I was a little sad to see it didn't make the final cut. The snake on the final cover is a bit misleading, I think - makes me think "Medusa" and Maggie is nothing like that at all.

The requisite hawt guy, Bridger, left a sour first impression, but then he switched gears. The thing I loved about this book is its twists and turns are always unexpected and it's always switching gears. This is no Cinderella story. Maggie's got a tough road to follow and no fairy godmother to help her (though there is a brief, hilarious fairy scene in the story. I wiiiiiiissssssshhhhh I could give you more details). 

Bridger is both Irish and Navajo (neat!) and he takes his turn playing a rich snob, a scoundrel, a player, and a friend. Sometimes you want to kill him but he and Maggie definitely keep you flipping through a pages at record speed to find out what's going on - between her secrets, and his.  

Another great thing about this story are the Navajo friends Maggie makes at school and at the  restaurant she works with. The references to Navajo culture add an interesting touch to this story. The story also involves an old abandoned mine that will truly send chills up your spine. Shifting definitely has some deliciously scary horror elements to it and one of the most horrifying high school scenes I've EVER read.

Thank you Elana Johnson for setting up the ARC tour for this wonderful book so I could get a sneak peek at it! Also, thank you Bethany Wiggins for being one of the first people to comment on my blog, back in April of 2010. I've never forgotten it - never discount the power of a comment.

What animal would you choose to shift to, if you had the choice? (depending on my mood, I'd pick an eagle, dolphin, or unicorn) (Yup, that's me, always coming back to mythical creatures). 

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