Lost Lake

9781250019806_p0_v5_s260x420When Sarah Addison Allen offered her free short story online (Waking Kate) as the teaser for her new book Lost Lake, I anticipated an emotional story with a little magic and some romance.  In a recent interview, Allen discussed her recent health issues – as she does in the acknowledgments at the back of the book – and noted that although her writing helped her through a tough time, she was not writing about it.  Instead, Allen stayed with her successful formula from past books, creating relatable characters who overcome adversity and heartbreak to find a new life with the help of quirky magical happenings and, of course, true love.  Laced with just enough drama, the predictable plot is comforting and enjoyable.

In Lost Lake, Kate and her daughter Devin, return to her great-aunt’s holiday campground just as she is about to sell the property to a villainous, greedy land developer.  Recovering from the recent death of her husband, Kate has delayed starting over, until she finds Wes, her first teen love of fifteen years earlier, who has never left the lake.  Allen changes the rules of the formula romance by adding her trademark magic, daring the reader to suspend belief and enjoy the moment.  In this case, a boy reincarnated as an alligator communicates with Devin to save the day.

I’m a fan of Allen since reading Garden Spells, and always enjoy her stories – this latest brought me out of my reading slump.

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When Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized

Although David Allen’s article in the business section of the New York Times – When Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized  – was targeted to workaholics who cannot keep up with the bombardment of email, project deadlines, text messages, meetings – so that they “can’t get any real work done” – the challenge to be productive and streamlined enough to have time to think could apply to anyone – employed or otherwise occupied.  Allen’s maxims work simply:

  1. Capture everything in writing, but don’t stop at the list.
  2. Decide what each item means to you, and if any actions are required.  “Any action that cannot be finished in two minutes should be done in the moment.”
  3. Organize remaining items into a to-do list that you park in a convenient spot.
  4. Regularly review and reflect on your commitments and interests to update your list.
  5. Finally, do it – now, if you can.

No longer plagued by a restrictive work schedule, I still have the work ethic.  Organizing gives me that spring cleaning restorative, but taking on projects that are meaningless may not be satisfying, e.g., creating a database of programs presented at a local lunching group – no one really cared.  Allen’s directives focused on the value of organizing for one’s self – with the caveat that functionality follows productivity.

The inspiration led me to reorganize the No Charge Bookbunch website – a little – reviewing titles, reorganizing genre, creating links.  The result?  I found some old favorites I had forgotten I’d read, edited some reviews that needed the red pen, and generally felt better at the end – and then closed my computer for a day, and took a walk.

According to Allen, “making life less stressful” is not about “downgrading to …something simpler…but to participate productively {in the world of technology} and not be paralyzed by it.”