Sunday, March 26, 2023

Weekly Goals 27-3-22

 I didn't get any real writing stuff done over the weekend, unfortunately.  I did some blog stuff for the group blog I write for and that took up more time than I thought it would, unfortunately, so I didn't get time to do anything else.  But on the plus side, I did get some reading done.

This week I'm going to try and get though a final read-through of my MS before I start querying.  I just want to make sure everything works and there are no annoying little typos or grammar errors.  So that's my goal for this week (and possibly next week too since I am incredibly slow at this stuff).

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 24-3-23


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!

And it has been another busy week, so the break is much needed.  Not sure exactly what I'm going to do, but I definitely plan to see a film at some point.  One of the films I worked on in my last job just opened this week, so I will definitely try to find time to go to that!  Opening weekends are so critical if a film is going to succeed.

I also have some writing work I want to get done, so I'll work on that too, if I get time amongst all the regular chores etc.  I went to an online workshop about publishing this week, and it has re-invigorated me somewhat!  I may even send out the first couple of queries for Guide Us.  Who knows?

What are you celebrating this week?

Monday, March 20, 2023

Books I've Read: Tracy Flick Can't Win


I saw this one at the library and just couldn't say no.  I loved Election, both the book and the film, so this one was a must-read for me.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to.  Part of what made Election so much fun was how desperately ambitious Tracy was, and how relentlessly she went after what she wanted.  I know it's probably realistic that she's mellowed a bit over time, but this Tracy seemed to have very little in common with the Tracy in the first book.

This Tracy is still living in the hometown she grew up in, and is still, in fact, at the same same high school, now as the assistant principal.  She's divorced and has a daughter she's not that close to and few friends.  Her mother, who she considered her best friend, has died after a long illness that Tracy nursed her through rather than finishing her law degree.

When the principal announces he's retiring, Tracy knows she wants the job.  She thinks she's a shoo in, but just to be sure, supports one of the bigwigs on the school board with his grand plan to create a hall of fame for past students.  

The book follows Tracy and the various members of the committee pulling together the hall of fame, plus some potential honourees as the plan to build this edifice is pulled together.  As you can imagine, nothing goes quite as planned.

I found this book a quick and easy read, but it was depressing, not comical.  Tracy is a shell of the person she used to be, ground down by disappointment and routine.  All that spark and ambition and relentless cheer is gone.  She has no regrets about the past and what happened, just a kind of wistfulness that her life didn't turn out the way she wanted it to.  I suspect underneath her good cheer and acceptance is a raging beast full of fury, but it doesn't ever really come out...  There's a single glimpse of it at one point, but it's kind of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.

I suppose it's realistic.  Life does grind you down and few people are as bright eyed and confident in their dreams and ambitions at 50 as they were at 15. But that's not that fun to read about, really...

So, if you were a fan of Election, I'd suggest you give this one a miss...  It's not a whole lot of fun.

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

An “engrossing and mordantly funny” ( People ) novel about ambition, coming-of-age in adulthood, and never really leaving high school politics behind—featuring New York Times bestselling author Tom Perrotta’s most iconic character of all time.

Tracy Flick is a hardworking assistant principal at a public high school in suburban New Jersey. Still ambitious but feeling a little stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job.

Energized by the prospect of her long-overdue promotion, Tracy throws herself into her work with renewed zeal, determined to prove her worth to the students, faculty, and School Board, while also managing her personal life—a ten-year-old daughter, a needy doctor boyfriend, and a burgeoning meditation practice.

But nothing ever comes easily to Tracy Flick, no matter how diligent or qualified she happens to be. Her male colleagues’ determination to honor Vito Falcone—a star quarterback of dubious character who had a brief, undistinguished career in the NFL—triggers memories for Tracy and leads her to reflect on the trajectory of her own life. As she considers the past, Tracy becomes aware of storm clouds brewing in the present. Is she really a shoo-in for the principal job? Is the Superintendent plotting against her? Why is the School Board President’s wife trying so hard to be her friend? And why can’t she ever get what she deserves?

A sharp, darkly comic, and pitch-perfect chronicle of the second act of one of the most memorable characters of our time, Tracy Flick Can’t Win “delivers acerbic insight about frustrated ambition.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Weekly Goals 20-3-22

 I don't actually have much in the way of goals this week because I finished all my query package material last week.  I guess I should do another read-through of my MS to make sure I'm happy with all the changes I've made and that it all makes sense.  Plus, I need to start putting together a list of agents to query this time around.

I really don't feel that excited about it, even though I really like this book.  But I really like Standing Too Close too, and I never even got a full request for that one.  Querying is so soul destroying, but unfortunately necessary.  

What are your goals this week?

Friday, March 17, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 17-3-22


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!

Unfortunately I have another busy weekend ahead of me, but I'm feeling good because I got my query materials whipped into shape (although I think my longline is a bit funky) and sent them off for review.  April will be query month for Guide Us, I hope.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Books I've Read: Babysitter


This one is a tough one to write about.  While I would generally call myself a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates' writing, I really couldn't get into this particular book.

Set in 1977 Detroit, Hannah is an upper-middle-class wife and mother whose husband is largely inattentive, and whose children are largely taken care of by their live-in Fillippino housekeeper.  She is on various boards and committees and it is at a fundraiser for one of these that she comes into contact with YK, a man who brushes her wrist and makes her feel both seen and desired in a way she hasn't been before.

It isn't long before Hannah is heading to YK's hotel, knowing what it is she's going for, but unable to reconcile the fact she is walking toward an affair.  This person is not who she sees herself as, but as the book progresses, it is increasingly difficult to see exactly how Hannah sees herself - or even if she sees herself at all.

When Hannah's timid assignations with YK turn violent, she hides her bruises, washes away the evidence and gets on with her life.  She tells herself she'll refuse YK's next invitation, but she doesn't and this rendez-vous is more brutal than the last - so much so that she can't hide the results from her husband.  He's convinced it has to have been a Black man who did it, and Hannah allows him to believe this rather than admitting to her affair.

In the background of this tawdry little affair is the story on the news; a serial killer is picking off young boys in the city, leaving their freshly washed naked bodies in public places with their laundered clothes folded neatly beside them.  Called "Babysitter" by the press, the story has little affect on Hannah until a boy from her own neighborhood goes missing.

There are three threads that weave through this book - Hannah's story, the Babysitter story and the story of a young man whose time in a Catholic boys home exposed him to a well-organised pedophile ring.  That all three stories eventually converge is both inevitable and horrifying.

I found this book a frustrating read.  I never got a handle on Hannah as a character.  She is clearly damaged - she thinks often of her "Joker Daddy" whose abusive behaviour toward her and her mother has apparently warped her sense of self (and possibly her idea of what intimacy and desire should look like).  She sees herself only as an object of desire and her self-worth seems so firmly tied to this notion that she's willing to risk everything to remain that.  

The story is told in fragments, often out of sequence, so I often found myself trying to piece together a narrative that seemed to be missing too many pieces to ever be whole.  But maybe I was just too frustrated with Hannah's lack of agency in her own decisions to see the things I was missing.  I know women at this time were often lacking in choices because they had no money or skills for earning it without their husbands, but Hannah seemed even more pathetic than most.  

So I don't think I'd recommend this one.  I didn't hate it, but here are other, better books by this author that should be read.

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

From one of America's most renowned storytellers comes a novel about love and deceit, and lust and redemption, against a background of child abductions in the affluent suburbs of Detroit.

In the waning days of the turbulent 1970s, in the wake of unsolved killings that have shocked Detroit, the lives of several residents are drawn together, with tragic consequences. There is Hannah, wife of a prominent local businessman, who has begun an affair with a darkly charismatic stranger whose identity remains elusive; Mikey, a canny street hustler who finds himself on an unexpected mission to rectify injustice; and the serial killer known as Babysitter, an enigmatic and terrifying figure at the periphery of elite Detroit. As Babysitter continues his rampage of killings, these individuals intersect with one another in startling and unexpected ways.

Suspenseful, brilliantly orchestrated and engrossing, Babysitter is a starkly narrated exploration of the riskiness of pursuing alternate lives, calling into question how far we are willing to go to protect those whom we cherish most. In its scathing indictment of corrupt politics, unexamined racism, and the enabling of sexual predation in America, Babysitter is a thrilling work of contemporary fiction.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Weekly Goals 13-3-23

 I managed to finish my query and synopsis over the weekend, so now I'm busy researching agents to approach.  I find it difficult to believe I'm almost at this point again, but here we are...  I think I should probably do one more pass through the book before I start sending out queries, but I'm just about there.

So that's my main goal this week.

What are you hoping to get done?