Thoughts on THE CHRISTMAS DRESS

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing today? Not much going on here. We got our Covid boosters on Thursday. Had some aches and pain the next day, but nothing some aspirin didn’t take care of. So, we’re good to sit in the house and avoid people for another six months! Anyway, it’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s book review time. This month, I decided to step completely outside of my comfort zone and into potential Hallmark Christmas movie territory. I wanted something happy and annoyingly cutesy, so I requested The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole. It was released yesterday (October 26th) from William Morrow Paperbacks (an imprint of HarperCollins). As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute cover.

The Christmas Dress follows Meg Julliard who returns to her Chicago home after her father’s death. She leaves behind a bad ex as well as a budding fashion career in NYC to take care of a 1920s era apartment building filled with elderly residents and so many things that need to be fixed. With very little money and no idea what she’s doing, Meg thinks things are impossible. But with a little help from the residents, the hunky handyman, and a smidge of luck, things just might turn around.

Sounds sickeningly sweet, doesn’t it? It is. It has everything you could ask for in a Hallmark holiday movie. Quirky best friends and random new friends, manly dudes to lust after and fall in love with, and so much drama that you know will work out perfectly. Plotwise, there are plenty of twists and turns, but none of them are unexpected. Awkward moment with the ex witnessed by the new beau? Right on cue. Drama from the new beau’s manipulative ex? Ditto! I can honestly say I’ve only read like three books in this particular genre in my life and they all have the same basic plot points. That’s not bad. It’s a really popular structure. It just leaves little to be said that hasn’t already been said.

The characters are all sweet and endearing, except for the two exes. As it should be. Personally, I thought Meg was over the top dramatic, especially when it comes to Logan’s ex. Who in their right mind would decide to break up with their new boyfriend without even listening to his thoughts on drama that he had no idea was coming? And she puts her decision on him because she repeatedly says that he’s such a good guy that he’ll end up doing the “right thing” despite the fact that he’s flat out said he’s not going back to the ex for any reason. Meg’s whole value system is stuck in the 1920s along with the apartment building. It’s creepy. And she flat out refuses to listen to people who actually have experience with the manipulating so and so, which causes more drama. She only chills when her bestie does some light cyber stalking and says the bitch is crazy. That is so weird to me. Luckily, everyone else in this book is relatively sane.

As far as the writing goes, it flowed nicely and made for a quick read. There were some things that made me raise an eyebrow, but I have a feeling they’re pretty standard for the genre. Like, every time Logan shows up, Meg’s ovaries tingle. I don’t know what that means. I understand it’s code for him making her horny, but my ovaries have never been the bits that tingle. It’s an hilarious phrase to run across, though.

Ultimately, The Christmas Dress was exactly what I wanted it to be. Nothing more, nothing less. It was fun and corny and predictable. I won’t be looking for another one like it for a while.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of five stars. Like I said, it was exactly what I wanted, but it didn’t offer anything new either. If Hallmark holiday movies are your thing, it’s definitely worth a read.

Shaking Off The Rust

Howdy, howdy!  Yesterday was Dad’s birthday, so I want to say another quick happy (belated) birthday to him!  Feel free to leave him a greeting here or on my social media pages and I’ll pass it on to him.  Anyway, this week, I want to ramble a bit about figuring out when to switch projects and when to power through the slow points, which is something I really struggle with.  I was always encouraged to finish a project before moving on to the next one.  But what happens when you try to push through the mental wall blocking you from the story and three months later you’ve only managed to move forward thirty pages?  When is enough enough?

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It’s kind of like when your EVA goes berserk and tries to smash through the wall, but there’s just more wall behind that wall, until it finally it runs out of energy and you, the pilot, are left a bleeding and broken mess.  Yeah, like that.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little (okay, extremely) stagnant when it comes to my writing.  I fully admit that I haven’t been working on that front as much as I should, even though I have no excuse not to be writing.  But the words refuse to come.  I know the storyline and everything, but the novel doesn’t excite me at the moment.  In fact, it doesn’t instill any emotions in me.  That’s not to say that I’ve given up on it.  Not at all.  I know exactly why I’m lacking any emotional investment in this book (it’s the second book in my Demonic Jewels series, the first of which I’m querying agents with and I can only take so many rejections before I start questioning the entire concept of the series, but that feeling will eventually pass, I hope).  And I’ve been trying to push through all of this for the better part of three months, but it’s proving impossible.

I’ve tried a number of tactics to get past the wall.  I wrote some short stories then tried to go back to the novel.  Didn’t help.  I worked on revisions to a different novel then tried once again to get back to Bailey and her crew.  No luck.  I even tried just plotting everything out in my head so I’d know exactly where I was going when I sat down to write (a method that has worked well in the past), and still nothing.  What else can I do?  Seriously, I’m open to suggestions.

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I don’t think dropping an anvil on me will work, but you can try!

However, over the past two weeks, some characters who have lived in my head for many years (at least 12) have been pushing their way to the front of my mind.  Normally, they only bring vague story ideas with them, but this time they have something concrete that I’m actually super in love with.  It’s well outside of my wheelhouse, combining fantasy (I can do that) with a cozy-esque mystery (not so sure I can pull that part off) and a dash of romance (will probably fail miserably at that part).  But I’m excited just thinking about it, and the last thing I felt this way about I finished in record time.  So, I’ve decided to put Bailey on the back burner again while I revise my other novel-in-progress and write this new one.  Is that a stupid decision?  Maybe.  But if it gets me writing, who cares?

wish+me+luckWhat about you?  What do you do when you can’t get past a block on a project?  How do you know when it’s time to set things aside and try something else?  Leave your thoughts or comments or questions here or on my social media pages!