Sunday, August 14, 2022

Weekly Goals 15-8-22

 I start my new job today, so this week's goals have to be about getting settled in there and figuring out how my life will fit around the new role.  And adjusting to life post-film festival which is always a wrench.  

I had a fantastic final weekend of the fest.  I saw a wonderful Australian crime film that had me completely baffled as to what was going on for the first hour or so.  I had just started wondering if I was exceptionally stupid when it all clicked into place and became terrifically exciting until the end.  Then I saw my personal highlight of this year's festival, one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction documentaries about a guy in Scotland who went back to his old school as a 32-year-old to give it another shot.  Posing as 16, he had an elaborate story about his past to explain why he didn't look like the other 16-year-olds and it must have worked because even the teachers who had been at the school when he was there 15 years earlier didn't recognize him.  Wonderful!  

I saw another doco, this one about Eadeweard Muybridge, the photographer who basically pioneered moving image photography.  I knew about that part of his career, but there was an awful lot of other stuff I wasn't aware of and he was a truly fascinating man.  Another festival highlight was a new film from Ana Lily Anampour about a young woman with a strange psychic ability who escapes a mental hospital and heads into New Orleans.  Excellent.  And the final day I saw the delightful Marcel the Shell with Shoes On which is sweet and funny and just wonderful.  And I finished the festival with a bonkers French film from Quentin Dupieux about a team of avengers sent on a retreat by their boss after their last mission didn't conclude as tidily as he wanted.  A lot of scary stories are told around campfires, each weirder and creepier than the last.  Including one told by barracuda as it is being cooked...told you it was weird.

And that's it from me.  What are your goals this week?

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 12-8-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I finished my job on Wednesday and am now a lady of leisure until Monday.  I know, it isn't a long break - probably not long enough, to be honest, but I couldn't make it work to get more time off.  I'm not entirely sure I'm celebrating leaving because I loved that job and had a fantastic team of people that I worked with.  It just felt like it was time to move on, so move I have.  I start my new role on Monday, which is exciting, although a little nerve wracking because they're welcoming me, and some other new people, with a powhiri. I had better brush up on my pepiha so I can introduce myself properly in te reo.

The great thing about finishing this week is that the film festival is still on so I can go to films during the day.  I have seen some interesting things since we last talked...  I saw a doco about Leonard Cohen and his song Hallelujah which was really interesting but got the damn song stuck in my head for about three days.  I saw a very surreal film about a group of sonic caterers (don't ask) at a residency and the journalist documenting their progress who suffered from terribly intestinal distress.  And I saw a very creepy Austrian horror film last night about a young girl going to stay with her aunt for the holidays in the hope she'd help her to lose weight.  Things most definitely did not go as she'd hoped they might...

I have six more to see before the end of the festival, so I'll tell you all about them on Monday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Books I've read Cafe Con Lychee


I enjoyed this author's previous book, so I thought I'd give this one a go too.

Set in a Vermont town, it is the love story between two boys who start the book as bitter rivals due to their parents' having competing businesses.  When a new fusion cafe opens in town and business at both older stores drops, they band together to try and save their family businesses.  And along the way, they fall in love.  But the path of true love never runs smoothly, does it?

This is a book that's filled with diverse characters.  The two main characters, Theo and Gabi, are Chinese/Japanese and Puerto Rican respectively.  And of course, gay.  Theo is out and his parents seem to accept him even if his extended family don't, but Gabi isn't and doesn't think he ever will be because his parents are so actively homophobic.

Theo thinks he's a failure and will never live up to his older brother's achievements.  Gabi wants to dance but can't tell his parents because they consider dancing effeminate and not something a boy should want to do.  So he plays soccer, despite being terrible at it, to the point he's always running into Theo, the star of the team, on the field.  And when one of these collisions leads to Theo spraining a wrist, Gabi gets roped into helping him with his covert operation to try and save his parents' shop.

There's nothing particularly new or different about this book.  It's a romance and follows the typical path of a romance novel with all the misunderstandings, arguments and everything that come along with it.  It's a quick and easy read and there's nothing offensive or terrible about it.  I just felt a little like it was trying too hard to be relevant with its diverse cast of characters whose backgrounds and cultural differences never really played a part in the story.  I felt like the character were that way more to tick diversity boxes than for any real story reason.  Which is something I'm noticing more and more as publishing tries to look less white...

There is nothing at all wrong with this book.  It's fun and sweet and easy to read. I enjoyed it, but the self-consciously diverse characters did stick out to me.

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

Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Weekly goals 8-8-22

 It's going to be a crazy week this week.  I finish my job on Wednesday which is a very strange feeling.  I've been there almost eight years which is about the longest I've ever been in a single job.  So I'm sad to be leaving all my wonderful colleagues, but looking forward to doing something else and meeting new people too.

Film festival is going well.  I saw a bizarre French film on Friday about a couple buying a new house with a rather unusual feature.  It was good, but I feel like it needed to be a little longer (I know, I never say that) to fully explore the various themes the surreal storyline alluded to.

The rest of the weekend was all New Zealand films.  I saw a documentary about an artist I knew very little about and another documentary about a man who understands cows in a very deep way.  Both were good and took very unexpected turns.  I also saw a beautiful film about a small-town boxer and his relationship with the openly gay town outcast.  And finally, I saw an anthology film made in partnership with Australia to explore the impact of colonization on the Pacific region.  Like most anthology films, some parts worked better than others and the way the films intertwined with one another sometimes world and sometimes didn't.  

All in all, I good weekend of viewing.  More to come.

So this week's goals are to wrap things up at work and to enjoy the last week of Festival. What are your goals?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 5-8-22

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 and the film festival has started!  I went to my first film last night, Muru, a local feature in te reo Māori about a police raid on an isolated community.  I enjoyed it very much, even if it was more of an action movie than I had expected after having been involved with it since an early script.

More movies to come this weekend, all local too except tonight's.

I somehow managed to trip over a loose stone or crack in my driveway and fell flat on my face.  So this morning was spent in the ER getting my wrist X-rayed.  Good news; it's not broken, but they did put it into a splint which makes typing difficult.  Luckily it's only supposed to stay in the splint for 3 days.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

IWSG August

 The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery! 

August 3 question - When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

Oooh!  This is an interesting question.  I really don't know how to answer it, to be honest.  I guess I always hope I'm being original.  I mean, unless you're writing fan-fiction, aren't we all trying to be original?

But I don't think the two things are actually mutually exclusive.  You can be wholly original and still give readers what they want.  Readers want a compelling story, complex, relatable characters and strong writing without spelling and grammar errors.  And that's what I try to give them.

Some genres have accepted tropes, particularly things like romance and if you deviate too far from these tropes, readers may not enjoy the story as much, regardless of how original you make the story.  I fell into this trap myself - The Sidewalks Regrets is technically a romance story, but romance readers didn't respond to it the way I'd hoped because while I feel the ending is a happy one, the couple don't live happily ever after or even happy for now.  

Sorry if that's a spoiler for those who haven't read it... Luckily other readers did respond to it, but I don't tend to refer to it as a romance anymore.  And the next time I write a romance, I will make sure it does have a happy-ever-after, even if the rest of the story doesn't follow all the romance tropes.

I tend to write stories I want to read and I want to read stories about things that I haven't seen in books before.  So in that sense I guess I try to be original.  At least as much as anything can be original.  Aren't there only six stories in the world?  And we all just keep retelling them in our own ways?

Do you try to be original?  Or do you write to readers' expectations?

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Weekly Goals 1-8-22

 The next couple of weeks are going to be nuts with wrapping things up at my job and the film festival starts on Thursday, so there go my evenings and weekends for two weeks.  Not that I'm complaining.  I love the film festival!

Plus I'm still not 100% done with the reading I'm doing for my friend, so I have to find time to squeeze that in too.  Not to mention all the regular, day-to-day stuff that still needs to be done.

Busy, busy!

What are your goals this week?