Sunday, October 24, 2021

Weekly Goals 25-10-21

 It always feels weird to be writing my weekly goals on a holiday Monday because it feels like a Sunday.  But of course, it isn't.

I've had a very peaceful long weekend with lots of time to read and paint and do household chores.  Most enjoyable!

  Unfortunately our hot water cylinder decided to stop working on Saturday so we've had no hot water since then because getting a plumber to come out on a long weekend, or even to answer a phone call, proved challenging.  Thankfully I managed to get one to come this morning (at great expense of course) and we should have hot water again this afternoon.  Thank goodness.  I feel so gross with not having had a shower since Friday!  Especially since I've been to the gym.  And I have paint is various places from my painting session on Saturday.

Here are a few examples of what I've been working on (excuse the ugly backgrounds):

Of course those are only the good ones.  I've had a few dismal failures that are stashed away in the shed until I can figure out what to do with them.  I think I may be able to sand off the bulk of the paint and re-use the canvases, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

I still have a few more techniques to try, so my goal is to try those out next week.  I think my hairdryer technique needs some work too.  I haven't been that happy with most of the ones I've done using that.  It's probably me, but it might also be my crappy $19 hairdryer.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 22-10-21


It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?


Yes, it's Labour Day on Monday so I decided to take an extra day off and have a four-day weekend.  Very much looking forward to that.  It's been months since I had even a single day of holiday.

I don't have a huge amount planned for the weekend.  The weather looks like it's going to be good on Friday and Saturday, so I am hoping to do some painting those days.  The rest of the weekend, when the weather looks like it might not be so hot, I guess I'll read and cook and clean up the house.  We need to re-stain our deck, so I might see if I can give that a good scrub to get all the dirt and mould and stuff off before we get the stain on there.

I also plan to do a little more sleeping than I usually do.  I've been quite exhausted the last couple of weeks.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


I picked this one up on a whim at the library because the blurb sounded like it could be interesting.

Set in two time periods - the present and the late 1980s - the book is interspersed with pieces from a fine art catalogue describing a series of artworks that may or may not be on display somewhere.

In 1988 a group of artists gather at a camp in the Maine woods to focus on their craft.  The idyllic location turns nightmarish as secrets pile up and a woman's dead body is left among the trees as the witnesses to her demise scramble to safety.

In the present day Max Durant, a fading artist well past his days of glory is teaching at a Boston university.  He's frustrated with his lack of success and excited by one of his new students, a brilliant but aloof artist called Audra.  She's invited him to her home for the weekend so he can see the pieces she hopes will make up her thesis.

The idyllic weekend he expects turns sinister when he realizes he's close to a place he's been trying to forget for years. And everywhere he turns during this weekend, he seems to be reminded of it.

I think I would have enjoyed this book much more if I hadn't figured out the twists so early on. I figured out the links between the two time periods and the different characters within the first couple of switches between 1988 and the present.  So from then on, I was basically just reading to make sure I got it right.  And I did.  The only thing that was a small surprise was the modern day identity of one of the characters from the 1988 section.

I did enjoy the revenge plot and how beautifully Audra orchestrated every move to ensure Max's sense of discomfort grew throughout his visit.  I love it when smart women best smart men who think they're way smarter than they actually are.  I just wish the author hadn't telegraphed so much early on....

I'd recommend this if you're interested in art and the art world, or if you like revenge stories in which women get the better of men.  

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

A psychological thriller for fans of Lucy Foley and Liz Moore, Dark Things I Adore is a stunning Gone Girl-esque tale of atonement that proves that in the grasp of manipulative men, women may momentarily fall. But in the hands of fierce women, men will be brought to their knees.

Three campfire secrets. Two witnesses. One dead in the trees. And the woman, thirty years later, bent on making the guilty finally pay.

1988. A group of outcasts gather at a small, prestigious arts camp nestled in the Maine woods. They're the painters: bright, hopeful, teeming with potential. But secrets and dark ambitions rise like smoke from a campfire, and the truths they tell will come back to haunt them in ways more deadly than they dreamed.

2018. Esteemed art professor Max Durant arrives at his protégé's remote home to view her graduate thesis collection. He knows Audra is beautiful and brilliant. He knows being invited into her private world is a rare gift. But he doesn't know that Audra has engineered every aspect of their weekend together. Every detail, every conversation. Audra has woven the perfect web.

Only Audra knows what happened that summer in 1988. Max's secret, and the dark things that followed. And even though it won't be easy, Audra knows someone must pay.

A searing thriller of trauma, dark academia, complicity, and revenge, Dark Things I Adore unravels the realities behind campfire legends―the horrors that happen in the dark, the girls who become cautionary tales, and the guilty who go unpunished. Until now.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Weekly Goals 18-10-21

 Another week already?  They seem to roll around so fast!

Goals this week...  Hmmm...  I got selected for a writing contest so one goal is to get my query and first five pages in by Wednesday.  I'm having a crack with My Murder Year this time around since clearly no one is interested in Standing Too Close.  I've been kind of quietly revising My Murder Year in the background and while I don't feel like it's 100% right yet, the first three quarters are in good shape.  It's just the ending I feel is kind of not quite right yet.  The problem with trying to turn a book that wasn't ever meant to be a mystery into something resembling a mystery...

It's a long weekend this weekend so I decided to take an extra day off to make it an extra-long weekend.  With not being able to travel for so long, I have a ton of leave saved up so I might as well take some.  it looks like Friday is going to have the best weather of all the days, so I'm hoping to get some painting done on Friday, and maybe Saturday if the weather holds.

And that's about it for goals.  What are your plans for the week?

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Celebrate the Small Things 15-10-21

It's the end of the week, so it's time to Celebrate the Small things...

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

It's been a busy week and on top of that, the weather crapped out and got really cold and wet again.  But it's beautiful again today and I finally managed to ride my bike to work.  Unfortunately I don't believe it's going to last...  Which is a bummer because I wanted to do more painting this weekend, but if the weather's not good, I won't be able to.  At least I might have a chance to get some new colours to work with and a couple of other things I need.  Then I'll be all set for next weekend - the long Labour Day weekend.

My partner and I are going to see the new James Bond movie tomorrow night which I'm looking forward to.  And the film festival programme was released this week, so I need to work out how to see everything I want to see.  I need to be organised because with cinemas at half capacity for social distancing, I imagine a lot of stuff will sell out very quickly!  Tickets go on sale on Monday morning and I want to be ready to go.

The 4K restoration of The Outsiders is playing next week and I'm super excited to see that too.  I've seen The Outsiders hundreds of times, but I've never seen it in a theatre and I'm pretty sure I've never seen the full novel version.  There's a special place in my heart for The Outsiders.  That was the book that made me want to be a writer, that made me realize it was possible for me to be a writer.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Books I've Read: A Town Called Solace


I'm pretty sure I've mentioned Mary Lawson's books here before.  Crow Lake is among my favourite books of all time, and I've enjoyed all her other books too.  So when I saw the Booker Prize longlist and saw her name on it, I was super excited!  It has been a lot of years since her last book came out..

Told from three distinct points of view, A Town Called Solace is the first of Lawson's books to be set outside of the imaginary town of Struan, but Solace is very firmly set in the same Northern Canada area.  I picture the two towns being in close proximity both because the larger city nearby is the same and because the two towns appear to share the same doctor, a character who has appeared in all Lawson's books.

The first POV is a child's.  Clara has been keeping a vigil at the front window of her house since her sister disappeared several weeks ago.  She leaves her post only to go to school and to go next door to feed the cat belonging to the kindly old woman who lives there.  Mrs. Orchard told Clara she was going to the hospital for a short spell, but the weeks have been adding up and Clara is still feeding Moses.

When a young man shows up at Mrs. Orchard's house and appears to be moving in, Clara is startled.

The young man, Liam, is newly divorced, unemployed and drifting, unsure what he's going to do with the rest of his life.  Mrs. Orchard's house is a lifeline while he takes some time out to figure out his future.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Orchard lies in her hospital bed, drifting out of the present and into the past, remembering herself as a heartbroken young woman trying to deal with the latest in a series of miscarriages.  Desperate for a child, she finds comfort in caring for the young boy next door, taking him off his mother's hands while she copes with her older daughters and newborn twins.

How these three peoples' lives entwine and the effects they will have on each others' lives takes time to unfold.  The book's pace unhurried and the story it tells a quiet one.  Yet the revelations, grief and remorse are powerful.  This is a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

I really enjoyed this book, although it didn't have the immediate impact on me that Crow Lake did.  The characters build quietly, slipping almost invisibly under your skin until you realize how much you really do care about them and what might happen to them.  And sometimes that kind of subtle, understated storytelling is exactly what you need.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

A Town Called Solace--the brilliant and emotionally radiant new novel from Mary Lawson, her first in nearly a decade--opens on a family in crisis: rebellious teenager Rose been missing for weeks with no word, and Rose's younger sister, the feisty and fierce Clara, keeps a daily vigil at the living-room window, hoping for her sibling's return.

Enter thirtyish Liam Kane, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, where he promptly moves into the house next door--watched suspiciously by astonished and dismayed Clara, whose elderly friend, Mrs. Orchard, owns that home. Around the time of Rose's disappearance, Mrs. Orchard was sent for a short stay in hospital, and Clara promised to keep an eye on the house and its remaining occupant, Mrs. Orchard's cat, Moses. As the novel unfolds, so does the mystery of what has transpired between Mrs Orchard and the newly arrived stranger.

Told through three distinct, compelling points of view--Clara's, Mrs. Orchard's, and Liam Kane's--the novel cuts back and forth among these unforgettable characters to uncover the layers of grief, remorse, and love that connect families, both the ones we're born into and the ones we choose. A Town Called Solace is a masterful, suspenseful and deeply humane novel by one of our great storytellers.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Weekly Goals 11-10-21

 How is it already Monday again?  That weekend flew by!

I managed to get my story polished up and submitted, so I feel good about that.  I also finally got around to buying some paints and canvasses and did my first paintings.  I did four and two I really like.  The other two, not so much.  I only got four colors of paint this week because I wanted to figure out how to do this before investing a whole lot of money into it, so I'll get a few more colors next week and see if I can do some I like more.

Guess what everyone will be getting for Christmas this year?

And that's about it for goals this week.

What are your goals?