Thursday, June 30, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 1-7-22

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 boy do I need it... What a crazy week!  I have been stupidly busy at work and it has been one of those weeks where there has been something extra I've needed to do every single day - a funeral, a dentist's appointment.  Ack!

Next weekend I'm away at a conference all weekend, so I need to make the most of this weekend to relax and get all my chores done.  I'd like to write too, even just a little bit, so I might try to set aside an hour or so on Sunday for that.  It feels like months since I added any words to my book.  But in positive news, I did come up with a title: A Stranger to Kindness.  Not sure it will stick, but better than calling it Harley which is what I have been calling it because my MC is called Harley.  Most of my books spend most of their drafting period named after one of the characters, so it's unusual for me to have come up with a title this early.

I also need to get some reading done.  My library books are due back on Monday and I still haven't even started one of them!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Books I've Read: One Two Three

I picked this one up because I enjoyed Laurie Frankel's pervious book and this sounded interesting.

It's set in Bourne,  a town that was destroyed by an environmental disaster many years ago.  It has left the population severely damaged, physically and spiritually.  Those that didn't die are often maimed or ill and those that have been born since the disaster tend to be damaged due to the ongoing pollution in the town's water.

Three of those are the Mitchell triplets who narrate this story chapter by chapter.  Mab is the least damaged of the three and the one everyone sees as having all the chances.  She studies hard and is both desperate to leave Bourne and terrified to do so.  

Monday sits somewhere on the autistic spectrum and has to have things a certain way.  She will only wear yellow and eat yellow food unless it's raining in which case she will wear and eat green.  Since the library closed, she acts as the town librarian and has an uncanny knack of finding exactly what people need.

Mirabelle is a genius and everyone knows it even though she is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak.  Some days she can be relatively independent, but mostly she has to rely on her mother and sisters to deal with her basic needs.

The triplets' mother works two jobs and sends all her spare time trying to hold the company responsible for the disaster to task through a law suit that has been dragging on for far too many years.

When a moving van shows up in town, not to move someone out, but to move someone in, the entire town is intrigued, but none more so than the Mitchell triplets.  As they learn the identity of the new arrivals and begin to understand why they have suddenly appeared in town, dark secrets and old hurts are uncovered.  And the more they learn, the more devastating the result will be if these new arrivals are allowed to do what they have planned to do.

But these newcomers didn't count on the power of three...

I enjoyed the different voices telling the story here.  Each of the triplets has a distinct personality, tone and view of the world and each plays an essential part in stopping the rape and devastation of their town again.  I fear there are towns just like Bourne, left to wither by companies that have stripped everything they can from the community and then left them to die alone or to keep scratching out an existence from the ashes. 

Somehow for me, the story never quite came together or gelled the way it should.  I didn't feel satisfied at the end the way I feel like I should have.  I can't even tell you why.

So I recommend this one with some reservations.  It's not a super easy read and tonally it's all over the place - tragic, hilarious, maudlin.  But the voices are compelling and the characters are ones that will stick with you after you've finished.

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

In a town where nothing ever changes, suddenly everything does... 

Everyone knows everyone in the tiny town of Bourne, but the Mitchell triplets are especially beloved. Mirabel is the smartest person anyone knows, and no one doubts it just because she can’t speak. Monday is the town’s purveyor of books now that the library’s closed―tell her the book you think you want, and she’ll pull the one you actually do from the microwave or her sock drawer. Mab’s job is hardest of all: get good grades, get into college, get out of Bourne.

For a few weeks seventeen years ago, Bourne was national news when its water turned green. The girls have come of age watching their mother’s endless fight for justice. But just when it seems life might go on the same forever, the first moving truck anyone’s seen in years pulls up and unloads new residents and old secrets. Soon, the Mitchell sisters are taking on a system stacked against them and uncovering mysteries buried longer than they’ve been alive. Because it's hard to let go of the past when the past won't let go of you.

Three unforgettable narrators join together here to tell a spellbinding story with wit, wonder, and deep affection. As she did in This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel has written a laugh-out-loud-on-one-page-grab-a-tissue-the-next novel, as only she can, about how expanding our notions of normal makes the world a better place for everyone and how when days are darkest, it’s our daughters who will save us all.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Weekly Goals 27-6-22

 I had a lovely long weekend away, but of course, didn't get any writing done.  Again.  

And now I've agreed to do some reading for a friend and will have to try and fit that in somewhere in the next couple of weeks.

I sometimes wonder if I really want to write this book at all.  I keep finding ways NOT to write it.

Anyway.  My goal this week is to write at least 100 words on the book.  It's not much.  It won't take long.  And if I know me, I'll sit down to write 100 words and I'll end up with 1,000.

And once I've done that, then I'll start reading for my friend.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 24-6-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Long weekend!  Again.

Yes, it's the very first time we've had this particular holiday - Matariki - which is kind of the Maori New Year.  It's odd too in that we have the Friday off, not a Monday like most public holidays.  But I'm not complaining.

I'm going away tomorrow, just for a night, to Whanganui, a town a few hours away.  Hoping the weather is going to be okay because our plans include outside things like walking in parks and a riverside market.  But I guess if it rains we can just go to art galleries and op shops instead.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Books I've Read: Loner


This was an interesting book and one I enjoyed very much for a number of reasons.  It's not quite YA in that the characters are out of high school and, for the most part, in college or dropping out of college.  Yet these characters are just as awkward and unsure of themselves as any YA characters.

Lona has dropped out of art school and is now drifting.  She still lives at home with her parents, but things are getting crowded now her grief-stricken and confused grandfather has also moved in.  Lona has always loved her grandfather, but she doesn't understand the man who has moved into her brother's bedroom.

So when the opportunity to move into a flat presents itself, Lona takes it, despite being both anti-social and socially awkward.  Living outside the family home gives her the freedom to explore new things, like the weird boy she might just be falling in love with.

The realities of this time of life play out in painful starkness in this book, from trying to cram in enough jobs to cover rent, to the strain new relationships have on friendships you thought might last forever.  All the characters in this book are struggling to figure out how to be an adult and how to maintain adult relationships.  Lona's isolation is patly self-imposed.  She genuinely seems happier in her own company than in the company of others, yet she needs other people as much as we all do.

While she is striving to be an adult, Lona still clings to things from her childhood which is why she still works part time at the roller rink she's enjoyed going to since she first met her best friend whose family owns the place.  And the rink is the only place Lona seems to really relax and be herself.  Even her art, something she has always believed she is good at, is suffering as she struggles to figure out what she is trying to say with her creations.

Set in Melbourne, a city I lived in for several years and know well, the book is written in very short chapters that don't always flow on directly from each other, but just touch on the parts of Lona's life that are actually worth looking at.

I would recommend this one.  It's a very well drawn insight into that twilight world between adolescence and adulthood where neither seems to fit well, and life is confusing, difficult and yet somehow still quite wonderful.

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

Lona, a cynical, introverted artist and part-time roller-DJ, traverses life’s sorrows and joys in this heartfelt look at new adulthood.

Set in Melbourne, Loner is a humorous and heartfelt exploration of new adulthood. Lona kills her days by sneaking into the dark room at her old art school to develop photographs. She kills her nights DJ-ing the roller disco at Planet Skate. She is in inexplicably, debilitatingly love with a bespectacled Doctor Who-obsessed former classmate, and in comfortable, platonic love with her best friend Tab. Lona works hard to portray a permanent attitude of cynicism and ennui but will her carefully constructed persona be enough to protect her from the inevitable sorrows and unexpected joys of adult life? Loner re-examines notions of social isolation experienced by young people, suggesting sometimes our own company can be a choice and not a failing.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Weekly Goals 20-6-22

 I somehow didn't manage to get to my book at all over the weekend.  I did some other writing, but never opened that MS file.  And it's not going to happen this week either, because I'm going away over the weekend and won't get time to write.  I wonder if this story is ever going to get written!  How did I ever find the time to write in the past?

I think part of the problem is the amount of writing I'm doing at work at the moment.  I have three big presentations I'm working on, plus it's actually time to start thinking about the annual report again.  Somehow, when I'm writing all day, even though it's very different writing, the desire to sit down and write more when I get home just isn't there.

I haven't quite got back into my exercise routine after having COVID, so this week I want to get back to my regular gym schedule, apart from the weekend of course, when I'll be away.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 17-6-22


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!

My partner is away and not coming home until Sunday evening, so I have most of the weekend to myself.  Well, apart from  the kids and they both have jobs now, so are out of the house much more often.

I'm going to a show tonight  - The Wedding Singer musical.  No idea if it'll be any good, but I imagine it will be fun if nothing else.  And what a great way to kick off the weekend.

I hope to get some writing done too, and some reading and cooking.  Especially since I'm going away the next weekend for a night.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Books I've read: We Are Your Parents


I don't think it's any secret that I'm a huge fan of Hannah Moskowitz and a new book from her is an insta-buy for me!  So it was a pleasant surprise last week when this book I pre-ordered a while ago showed up in my Kindle.

There are a lot of complicated relationships in this book and protagonist, Sav, is not really mature enough or experienced enough to competently navigate them despite being far more mature than I ever was at her age.  Having a baby does that to a person...

Sav is luckier than many teen mothers in that the father of her baby is still around.  They're best friends and while they don't live together, both their families are supportive and helpful when it comes to childcare.  Especially both grandmothers.

So Sav hasn't been forced to give up on going to school or even her speech competitions or the band she and Malcom are in together.  In fact, for a single mother of a baby, she manages to live her life pretty easily.

It hasn't always been easy though.  Following the baby's birth she had terrible post-partum depression and landed in a psych ward. And if that wasn't bad enough, while she was there, her girlfriend dumped her.  So it's not ideal for her to discover that baby-daddy Malcom has started dating Rose, the girl who broke her heart.

And then there's new girl, Kat, who Sav gets paired with for this year's speech competition.  Brash, uncompromising and an outspoken lesbian, Kat refuses to settle for anything conventional for the contest and pushes Sav to write her own play, based on her experiences.  She's certain it will wow the judges.

As she works through the events of the past year, Sav discovers that when it comes to relationships, there's no such thing as black and white, and while she might see herself as the victim in this particular drama, this might not actually be the truth.

I really liked all the characters in this book.  They all felt very real and flawed, from Sav's mother to the other members of Malcom and Sav's band.  And Sav's growth as a character also felt very real and organic and the book's conclusion was satisfying, even if it was somewhat bittersweet.

So I'd recommend this one wholeheartedly. 

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

Sav Bergman has a lot on her plate. She's just getting her life together after having a baby, falling into a postpartum depression after having that baby, and then getting dramatically dumped by her girlfriend, while in the psych ward, following that postpartum depression. Now that she's back at school, it's time to dive back into Speech and Debate, a kind of competitive acting Sav takes more seriously than just about anything besides her daughter. And let's not forget Malcolm: best friend, bandmate, and father of her baby, who she has...very complicated feelings for.

So what she really didn't need was for Malcom to break the news that he's now dating the very same girl who broke Sav's heart in the hospital three months ago. Sav spills that little fact to her new Speech partner--who's unapologetically straightforward, argumentative, and gay, and so far hasn't liked a single play Sav's suggested--who immediately has an idea: Sav should write her own play explaining what the hell happened over the past year, and they'll re-enact that for a panel of judges expecting some nice Vonnegut. But what starts out as a play about flaky girlfriends, disloyal boyfriends, and Sav's role as the innocent victim starts to unravel the more she writes. And as the competition draws closer, Sav is forced to question everything she'd assumed about the people she thought she knew and the future she'd always imagined.

From the author of Stonewall Honor book GONE, GONE, GONE and Sydney Taylor Honor book SICK KIDS IN LOVE, WE ARE YOUR PARENTS is a queer snarl of a story about the messy ways that families are made and the even messier people who make them.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Weekly Goals 13-6-22

 I haven't done any work on my new book since before the long weekend when I had my writing day at the library, so this week's goal is to actually write some more words.  Even just a couple of thousand would do.

I also want to go back to the gym this week.  I feel like a week at home has dropped my fitness level considerably and I need to get that back.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Celebrate the small things 10-6-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?


After being stuck at home isolating with COVID for a week, tomorrow I can go out again.  Very much looking forward to just going to the supermarket, if nowhere else.  I'm dying to go to the gym too, but feel like maybe I should leave that until next week in case there are still some rogue germs floating around.

After a week of working at home on my laptop, going back into the office on Monday is going to be amazing.  I can't wait to get back to my two big screens!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Books I've read: Motherless Brooklyn


I picked this one up at the library because I was intrigued by how anachronistic the idea of a detective with Tourettes seemed to me.  I mean, how much more unsuitable for the job could you be?  That kind of thing really tickles me. I once wrote a short story called The Agoraphobic Farmer.  But I digress...

Told in first person, this book is a unique insight into a Tourtettic mind.  Lionel's thoughts are clear for the most part, but he gets caught on things regularly and can only move on by shouting these oddly connected thoughts out loud.  Obviously not ideal on a stakeout which is where we first meet him. Other tics include the need to compulsively touch people, again not ideal when the people you're dealing with are often armed and dangerous.

The mystery Lionel is trying to unravel isn't that unusual in its self, but viewed through his eyes and fractured thought processes, it's a wild ride and one I enjoyed very much.  I also liked the relationships between the boss, Frank, and the four orphans he picked out when they were young teens and kept together into adulthood.  These people might not like each other a whole lot, but somehow they are a family, albeit one that scraps and scrambles over each other for power.

In a mystery that takes you from the mean streets of Brooklyn, through a Zen Buddhist commune and into one of Manhattan's most exclusive buildings, Lionel's first person narrative takes the reader on a wild journey through a completely different way of thinking and reacting to outside stimulus.

I really enjoyed this book and know that Lionel is a character who will stick with me for a long time to come.  I would recommend it even if mysteries and gangsters aren't really your thing, just because it is so unique.

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

Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn’s very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in the most startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna’s limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal. But when Frank is fatally stabbed, one of Lionel’s colleagues lands in jail, the other two vie for his position, and the victim’s widow skips town. Lionel’s world is suddenly topsy-turvy, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case while trying to keep the words straight in his head. Motherless Brooklyn is a brilliantly original homage to the classic detective novel by one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Weekly Goals 6-6-22

 Well, it finally happened.  I have COVID.  Which has put a real damper on my weekend plans.

Thankfully, so far it doesn't seem too bad.  I have a slightly sore throat and my sinuses are really sore, but otherwise, it's really not that different to a cold.  And not a terrible cold either.  But it does mean the whole family has to isolate for a week which means working and schooling from home for us.

My partner and my older son are both sick too, but my younger one seems to have avoided it so far.  Fingers crossed this continues.

So this week's goals are to get better.  And to do my best to support my team-mate at work remotely.  We're the only two there at the moment and she's new to the job so I feel terrible about leaving her alone this week.  But nothing I can do about it, I'm afraid.

I haven't felt like writing over the weekend, so after my big 5,000 word blitz on Friday, I haven't added anything more.  I may have to do another day like that in a couple of weeks when we have the Matariki holiday.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 3, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 3-6-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Long weekend! 

Yes, it's the Queen's Birthday holiday on Monday so I have taken Friday off as well to give myself a four-day weekend.  And Friday is a writing day.  I hope to be able to get back into my story and write a good chunk and then keep the momentum going over the weekend.

I also have several plans with friends as well as the usual weekend stuff that needs to be done.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

IWSG - June 2022

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

The awesome co-hosts for the June 1 posting of the IWSG are SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguire, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray!

This month's question is a goody!

When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

In both cases my answer would be the same - write a scene you know you want to write.  I'm not someone who always writes in a linear fashion.  Very rarely do I start writing a book from the beginning.  I usually start with a single scene and build in both directions from there.  

So if I get stuck somewhere along the way, I just drop a wee note in the text, highlight it, and move on to the next scene I know and want to write.  Usually by the time I've written all the scenes I think I'll need, I can figure out ways to join them up (or have already done it along the way) so it reads like a complete story.

Of course there's always editing to do, and sometimes I end up cutting out scenes I thought were crucial and important at the time and turn out not to be that relevant in the long run.  But it means I don't stagnate when things get tough, or if I don't know exactly where the story starts.

When I try to write in a linear way, I almost always end up writing about 10K more than I need to because it takes me about that long to find my way into the story.  By starting somewhere toward the middle, usually with a scene that's full of action or emotion, I can get myself into the story world much quicker.  And if I get stuck somewhere along the way, there's nothing like a good kissing scene to jump into to get the words flowing again!

How do you keep going when things get tough?

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Weekly Goals 30-5-22

 I didn't manage to get any writing done over the weekend.  I blame the huge mountain of laundry that I had to do.  Somehow, by the time I got all that put away, there was nothing much left of Saturday afternoon.

So my goal this week is to add at least 5K to my MS.  I know that's a lot, but I have the day off to write on Friday, plus a three-day weekend.  I think I can do it.  I know I can do it!

So that's my goal for the week.  What are yours?

Friday, May 27, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 27-5-22


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!

It's been a pretty crazy week, so I am looking forward to a couple of days to relax a little.  And to write a little too.  I usually try to put Sunday afternoons aside to write, but this weekend I'm going to the movies Sunday afternoon, so I will have to try and squeeze some writing into Saturday afternoon.  But if that doesn't work (and it may not as I only managed 4 hours sleep), I'm taking Friday off work so I can have a full day writing at the library.  And then it's a long weekend.

My bestie was down from Auckland yesterday and we had lunch.  It's the first time I've seen her in over a year which is crazy.  But with lockdowns and everything, that's the way it's had to be.  It was great to see her and to catch up.  Hopefully we will be able to do it again before another year goes by.

And that's about it for me.  What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Books I've read; The Liar's Child

This one looked interesting so I picked it up off the "recommended" shelf at the library.  It wasn't a bad read, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped I might.

Set in the Outer Banks area of North Carolina, the book is told from multiple points of view.  There's Sara who is brought to the area by the Feds and who is in the witness protection programme.  She has a past as a con-woman, something she was brought up to do by her criminal father.  There's Cassie, a 12-year-old girl desperate to grow up and fighting her family for the freedom to do so.  There's Whit, Cassie's father who struggles with an unstable wife, an unfulfilling job and trying to do the best by Cassie and her younger brother Boon.  And finally, there's Hank, a retired sheriff obsessed with missing children cases after the loss of his own son.

The book's timeframe is fairly compressed - a few weeks, maybe two months at most - and follows these people as they deal with life's challenges.  Sara settles into the crappy apartment and cleaning job she's been assigned but can't help noticing the strange behaviour of the kids in the apartment next door.  On summer vacation, Cassie tries to balance her desire to hang out with the older kids in town and her father's demands that she stay home to look after Boon after their mother mysteriously disappears.  Whit needs to work, but is constantly torn between that and the children he knows he's neglecting at home.

When a hurricane threatens the area, Whit is forced to leave the children to go help his parents batten the hatches. When he doesn't return, Sara makes the decision to rescue the children and hits the road, desperate to escape the Feds and a life she never wanted.

But nothing goes quite as planned and when her path and Hank's cross, the consequences are devastating for all involved.

I think the biggest problem I had with this book was the lack of detail about who Sara really is.  There are hits at her past, but they are small and subtle and don't really point to what it is she did to get caught by law enforcement or who she squealed on.  Perhaps this was intentional to create more sympathy for the character, but in my case, it backfired because my imagination took me to the worst place and made me super suspicious of her.  I wanted her to stay away from the kids and knew that whatever she did, it was going to be self-serving.

I also struggled through most of the book to understand how Hank fitted in.  His sections were small and sparsely scattered through the narrative, but never fitted with the main story being told.  Obviously it became clear in the end, but with so many story threads being resolved in the last little bit of the book, it felt a little rushed and I never really got much sense of who he really was.

This was a quick read and there was enough going on to keep me turning the pages to see what happened next, I just felt like I was left with too many questions after I finished and didn't feel wholly satisfied the way you should upon finishing a thriller.

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

In this intense and intimate family portrait that moves at a thriller's pace, a troubled woman faces a gripping moral dilemma after rescuing two abandoned children from a hurricane.

On the outskirts of North Carolina's Outer Banks sits the Paradise, an apartment complex where renters never stay long enough to call the place "home"--and neighbors are seldom neighborly. It's ideal for Sara Lennox, who moved there to escape a complicated past--and even her name--and rebuild a new life for herself under the radar. But Sara cannot help but notice the family next door, especially twelve-year-old Cassie and five-year-old Boon. She hears rumors and whispers of a recent tragedy slowly tearing them apart.

When a raging storm threatens then slams the coastal community, Sara makes a quick, bold decision: Rescue Cassie and Boon from the storm and their broken home--without telling a soul. But this seemingly noble act is not without consequences. Some lethal.

Carla Buckley crafts a richly rewarding psychological portrait, combining a heart-wrenching family drama with high-stakes suspense, as the lives of three characters intertwine in an unforgettable story of fury, fate--and redemption.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Weekly Goals 23-5-22

 As I suspected, I didn't get a chance to write this weekend so my goal this week is to actually add to my word count.  

I don't feel as bad as I could because while I haven't worked on the book, I have been writing a little bit.  The writing website I'm part of has a contest with daily prompts and I've been trying to do that each day, just to get back into the habit of writing every day.  The stories can be a maximum of 1000 words, so they're pretty quick to write - I usually give myself half an hour - and I've been exploring my characters through writing these little pieces of flash.

You never know...  Some of them might even make it into the finished novel if I'm lucky.

And that's about it for goals this week.  What do you hope to achieve?

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 20-5-22


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!

It has been a weird week.  Most of my team at work is in Cannes so it has largely been me manning the fort. 

I've been tired this week.  I rather foolishly decided to change the pillow I use and the new one is much higher than the old, worn out flat one I've been sleeping on.  So I have been struggling to sleep and keep waking up with a sore neck.  And I'm too damn stubborn to give up on the new pillow...

I'm going up the coast this weekend to see my friend which will be nice.  I'm hoping the weather will be okay so we can have a walk on the beach.  It's been pretty dramatic lately - this morning I got up to thunder and lightning and got drenched just walking to the end of the driveway to pick up the newspaper!

I want to get some writing done this weekend too, but am not sure I'm going to get the time.  I shall see if I can outsource the housework to the kids again...  Not sure that they'll go for it after they did it last week because it was my birthday.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Books I've Read: The Red Lotus

This is an exciting, twisty little thriller that I enjoyed very much even though some of the premise kind of grossed me out.  I won't go into that part because it's part of the twist, but just be aware that there are some parts that may not be good for the squeamish...

The book opens with Austin and Alexis meeting in the ER after Austin is shot in an altercation in a bar.  It quickly fast forwards six months to the now-coupled pair on a cycling trip in Vietnam.  Austin's father and uncle fought in Vietnam and the tour they are on takes them close to the place they fought.  The ride planned for that day doesn't go by the place, so Austin sets out alone, leaving Alexis to cycle with the group and return to their hotel ahead of him.  But when Austin hasn't returned by dinner time, Alexis begins to worry.

With a dropped energy gel the only clue to his disappearance, Alexis finds herself thrust into a nightmare.  She has to deal with local police, the FBI, Austin's family and her own complex relationship with her mother.  And as she grapples with these things, she discovers that Austin lied to her about several things, forcing her to question if he really was the person she thought he was.

After returning home, Alexis continues to try and discover what actually happened to her boyfriend, and who he really was.  And as she digs deeper, she discovers more secrets and some shady people who seemingly will stop at nothing to turn a profit.

This was a quick, compelling read that I raced through in order to find out exactly what was going on and who was involved.  Most of the characters are little more sketches or stereotypes, but in this type of story, that is less important than the action driving the plot forward.  And when the truth is revealed, it's pretty horrific to think about.  Yet time and time again we have seen how people can be compelled to evil for far less than what is at stake here.

So I'd recommend this one if you're looking for something fast-paced and engrossing and don't mind the odd disgusting bit.

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

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant comes a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam, and his girlfriend, an emergency room doctor trained to ask questions, follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met.

The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin's arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road.

As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, and deals with the FBI, Austin's prickly family, and her colleagues at the hospital, Alexis uncovers a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in?

Set amidst the adrenaline-fueled world of the emergency room, The Red Lotus is a global thriller about those who dedicate their lives to saving people, and those who peddle death to the highest bidder.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Weekly Goals 16-5-22

 I was very lazy over the weekend and didn't do any writing at all, so my goal this week is to add at least 2K more to the new MS.  Preferably 4K if that is at all possible.  I have a bunch of scenes in my head, ready to go, but I'm not entirely sure how they are all going to fit together.  

I'm sure I'll figure it out though.  I almost always do.  I really love these characters and I'm hoping I can get their story right for them.

And that's really it for goals this week.  What are you trying to get done this week?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 13-5-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

My birthday!

It's on Sunday and I had plans to go out to lunch with my family, but my father tested positive for COVID yesterday, so they're isolating.  Maybe next week, assuming my mother doesn't catch it and need to isolate too.

So instead I'm going to go to the movies and get takeaways or something with the kids.  And my partner and I are going to get some new sheets for the bed as a birthday present for me.  100% cotton, high-thread-count sheets just make me happy!

And maybe someone will even offer to clean the house for me!  Not expecting it, but it would be nice...  And I could then use that time to write.  Or read.  Or just do something other than cleaning the house.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

New release: A Quick Death by Patricia Josephine and Patricia Lynne

My friend Patricia has a new book out this week!  Let's find out more about it, shall we?  Then scroll down for an awesome giveaway!


The Afterlife

These things fascinate our imagination. Delve into a collection of tales that explore death and murder. Each story is told in exactly 200 words and designed to give you a quick thrill no matter how busy your day is.




Buy Links


Universal Link




About the Author

Patricia Josephine is a writer of Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Romance books. She actually never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she was more interested in art and band in high school and college. Her dreams were of becoming an artist like Picasso. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head for fun. That was the start of her writing journey, and she hasn't regretted a moment. When she's not writing, she's watching Doctor Who or reading about serial killers. She's an avid knitter. One can never have too much yarn. She writes Young Adult Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Fantasy under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow. 



Social Media Links: 






Patricia Josephine:


Amazon Author Page


Patricia Lynne:


Amazon Author Page


DEATH DIDN’T COME TODAY. Night had fallen, and the lure of sleep tugged on me. I dragged myself to my feet and dumped the now cold tea.

Maybe tomorrow, I told myself as I brushed my teeth.

I ignored the little voice that whispered it wasn’t normal to wish for Death. I understood that, but normal was boring. Normal didn’t take you on adventures around the world.

Normal didn’t introduce you to Death.

I remembered the first time we met. It had been an autumn day in New Zealand.I was waiting for the tour to start. I was finally seeing where The Hobbithad been filmed. My excitement was palatable. An older man collapsed and the medics were called. Their attempts to revive him were fruitless. That was when I saw Death.

Noone else seemed aware of him. I watched him weave through the crowd. He was reaching for the body when our eyes met. Confusion flitted across his pale face. Later that night, I saw him again. He didn’t understand why I saw him. It wasn’t my time.

When, I asked.

He shrugged. One day. Then he was gone. I have been waiting for him ever since.

You could be the winner of this super-cute prize pack!

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Giveaway is US only.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Weekly Goals 9-5-22

 I got a few more words written on the new book over the weekend, so my goal this week is to just keep going.  The pacing is way off...  I'm five chapters in and we're still on the first day of the story's timeline, but I almost always write 10K more than I need at the beginning while I get a feel for the characters.  

I'm hoping things might quiet down a little this week, but I'm not 100% convinced that will be the case.  But if it does, I may get more than two hours or so to write.  Not counting on it, especially since it's my birthday this weekend.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 6-5-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Well, it's the weekend!

It has been an insane week and right now I feel like all I want to do all weekend is sleep.  Unfortunately, I know that's not going to happen, so let's just forget I even said that.

My closest colleague at work finished this week, so I'm feeling somewhat bereft.  Especially with the rest of the team going to Cannes over the next few days.  Luckily we got a new team member a week or so ago, so it won't just be me, on my own, at our end of the building.  But it will still be weird.

I haven't touched my new book since Sunday, so hoping I can find a few hours to put into that over the weekend.  If I'm only going to make it to 2K a week, it's going to take most of the year to finish this thing...

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

IWSG - May

 It's the first Wednesday in May, so it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group!

The awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

And here's this month's question:

It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

This is a tough one!  Being a writer is often like being on a roller-coaster but interspersed with long periods that feel like sailing on a becalmed sea.

Highs come when the writing is going well, those days that you're in the zone and the words feel like they are all there already and my job is just to let them fall through my fingers onto the page.  Highs come when my in-box pings and it's a request or an offer of publication.  And then there are the reviews that make my heart soar because the reader so obviously got what I was going for and my words made a connection.

Lows come when I can't find the time to write, or when I sit down to do it, the words don't come.  When I'm revising something and I just can't get it to work, no matter what I try.  When my in-box pings and instead of good news, it's yet another rejection, another story that someone has deemed "not right" for them.  When the book I still believe is the best thing I've ever written can't find a home.  Those are the lows.

Sometimes the bad outweighs the good and that can be paralysing.  I've barely written in the last 18 months because it all just started feeling too hard.  I've been working my ass off on this writing thing for more than ten years, have written 14 complete novels and hundreds of pieces of short fiction, yet still can't make enough money from writing to buy a bottle of modestly priced wine.  Some quarters buying a cup of coffee is out of reach.

But last week I started writing a new book and it felt good.  I wrote over 5K in a couple of days and I enjoyed it.  I fell back in love with the process of writing.  I'm excited to sit down in front of my computer again.  Who knows how long that will last, of course.  There are bound to be points in the writing process where I get stuck or discouraged, but I feel like I've learned enough to move past that and to get to "the end".  At least I hope I have...

What are the highs and lows of writing life for you?

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Weekly Goals 2-5-22

 It's the last week before my team start heading to Cannes so it's going to be busy.  It's also my colleague's last week with us before starting a fabulous new job, so there's that too.  So I'm not expecting to have much time and energy to write this week except at the weekend.

I did add a couple thousand words this weekend, so if I can continue in that vein, we'll get there eventually.  Especially if I take the odd day off here and there to work on it.  I'm not sure anything I'm writing is very good yet, but at least I'm getting something on paper.  I feel like maybe the pacing is off, but I can fix that later.  Right now I'm feeling my way into the story.  I want the reader to feel for my MC even though he's pretty messed up and into some fairly abhorrent things at the beginning of the book.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 29-4-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Well, it's the weekend!

I know it's been a short week, but it's been SUPER busy and I'm really looking forward to having some time away from my office.  I get very frustrated when we work all week on something that doesn't go anywhere.. Especially when there are so many other things competing for my time.

I haven't been able to do any more work on my book, but I am planning to spend some time on it over the weekend.  I would like to be able to add another 2K to it.

My partner has been away all week and gets back tonight.  Looking forward to that too since it's been pretty cold at night this week and without another person in bed, it's been cold.

And that's about it for this week.  What are you celebrating this fine Friday?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Books I've Read: The Right Side of Reckless


This was a quick, easy read, but I have to say, I did not really enjoy it.  

There was a lot of potential - I love a bad boy as you all probably know by now - but I never really thought Guillermo was that bad.  He had far too good a family behind him to go too far off the rails.  In my experience, the really bad kids are the ones whose parents are either absent or just don't give a damn about them.  Kids with engaged parents who will go to wall for them might make dumb mistakes, but they usually learn something from them and can be brought back on track.  Not always, of course, but in general.

The book also suffered from the two narrators repeating the same things over and over in case we readers didn't get it in the first place.  I understood in the very first of Regan's chapters that her boyfriend was pressuring her for sex and she wasn't into it.  I didn't need to have it repeated every time she showed up.  By the third or fourth time I was ready to tell her to just break up with the dude.  She clearly wasn't feeling it.

Both kids suffered from trying to live up to their parents' expectations and that was the one thing that felt real and authentic about this story.  Regan's struggle to tell her father she wasn't interested in being an accountant and her brother's inability to tell him he hated football felt real to a point.  I found it interesting that their mother, who seemed like a very strong and independent woman, never stepped in.

Guillermo's struggle with his parents was more about trying to re-establish the trust he broke when he was arrested.  His entire family made a huge sacrifice to move to another part of town so he got a fresh start.  Guillermo's guilt over this, and his determination to become a better person was admirable.

Although this was pitched as being a kind of forbidden love story, I never felt like Reagan's mother was that scary or that her ultimatum that she and Guillermo not see each other was that strong. 

I feel like this is one of those books that could have been really good, but needed more revising or editing to get it to a point where the execution was as strong as the premise. 

That said, it was cool to see a cast of diverse characters just living their lives without the plot revolving around their identities.  I feel like there are a lot more books about diverse people out there at the moment (which is awesome), but too many of them focus solely on the issues facing them because of their diversity rather than representing them as real, fully formed people with lives to live and dreams to dream.  I certainly don't live my whole life focusing on only one part of my identity and I don't believe anyone else does either.

So while I didn't love this one, there were certainly things to recommend it.  If you read it I'd be interested to hear your thoughts too.

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

He’s never met a rule he didn’t break… She’s followed the rules her whole life… When they meet, one golden rule is established: stay away. Sparks fly in this edgy own voices novel, perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon, S. K. Ali, and Kristina Forest.

They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Weekly Goals 25-4-22

 I started a new book on Friday.  It was surprisingly easy, considering I really haven't written much since the end of 2020.  I wrote just under 3,500 words and it felt good.  

Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to do any more yet, but my goal this week is to write at least the same again.  I have today off, and I figure I'll have a couple of hours this afternoon I can use to write.

I"m also getting my photographer son to take some photos of my artwork so I can put some of them up for sale.  I may also put a little gallery up here, on my blog, in case anyone is interested.

And those are my goals for this week, small as they might be.  What are your goals for the week?

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 22-4-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Another four-day weekend!

It's Anzac Day on Monday so I decided to take Friday off as well and have another LOOOOONG weekend.  Looking forward to it!  I'm even going to spend an entire day writing in the hope I might kick-start a new book.

I did some very cool paintings last weekend, so this week I will varnish them and my son is going to take photos so I can get them online and maybe sell some.  I need to make room in the house if I'm going to paint any more!  I need to do some research about where the best place to sell them might be.  Trade Me?  Etsy?  Facebook Marketplace?

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Books I've Read: The Knockout Queen


This is one of those interesting books in which the narrator is telling someone else's story rather than his own.  His own story does play out alongside that of the titular Knockout Queen, Bunny Lampert, but the two lives become impossibly intertwined.

Bunny should have everything.  She's from a wealthy family and her father, while largely absent, gives her anything she wants.  She's a talented athlete with her eyes fixed on Olympic selection in volleyball.  She's not popular at school though - at 6"3 she towers over her peers - and longs for a boyfriend.

Michael, who moves in next door after his mother finally snaps, stabs his abusive father and lands herself in prison, is Bunny's complete opposite.  Yet when the pair meet, they become fast friends and Michael discovers that all is not so golden in the mansion next door.

As Bunny and Michael struggle through their high-school years, each faces their own set of problems.  Michael knows he's gay but is too afraid to come out so satisfies himself with a series of brief encounters with guys he meets online.  Bunny is one of the only people to know his secret and is fiercely protective of it even if she does disapprove.

When one of Michael's rendez-vous becomes locker-room gossip, Bunny jumps in to protect Michael's honour.  This single, violent act changes the trajectory of her life, and by association, Michael's, forever.

There are a number of layers to this book and I found all of them really fascinating, particularly the socio-economic differences between Michael and Bunny, and how this underpins everything about their lives.  It was great to see the tables turn and the disadvantaged, abused and unwanted kid end up being the less damaged of the pair in the long run.

It was also interesting to see how a single moment, a single act, can send a whole chain reaction of events into motion.

Both Bunny and Michael have flaws and blindnesses about themselves and others, and watching them learn to overcome these things makes a satisfying read.

I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to those who enjoy character-driven stories about young people struggling to find their place in the world.  It's not YA, despite having teen characters through most of it, and its themes and conclusions are darker than those you'd find in a YA novel.

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

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠--beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠--with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠--lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father's escalating alcoholism.

Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny's futures⁠⁠--and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Weekly Goals 18-4-22

 It's a short work week with today being a holiday and I've taken Friday off so I can have a second four-day weekend next week with Anzac Day on Monday.  So most of my goals this week are about getting everything done in the three days I am at work so I can enjoy the four days off.

I might even write a bit...  I feel a story nibbling at the back of my mind and it's getting to the point where I might need to start writing.  It's been so long since I had that feeling; it's kind of exhilarating!

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

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 15-4-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Four day weekend!  Yes, it's Easter so public holidays galore!  And I've managed to get a second four-day weekend next week too because it's ANZAC Day.  It's one of those years where you can actually get almost 2 weeks off and only use four days of leave, but I'm not doing that because other people in my team are and it's too busy for us all to be away.  But two LOOOONG weekends is perfect.

I got to hold an Oscar yesterday which was fun.  I had no idea they were so heavy!  I'm amazed no one has ever dropped one on their own foot.  Or a presenter's foot...  So nice of Jane to bring it in to share with us. Sometimes my job is actually kind of cool!

I finally got around to buying some more canvasses, so I'm looking forward to being able to do some painting this weekend.  The weather doesn't look like it's going to be stunning, but Friday and Monday look like they might be good for doing stuff outdoors. I have plenty of books to read on the other days and plenty of housework that needs doing too.  The spiders seem to have gone nuts with webs recently!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Books I've Read: You Must Not Miss


This was a really odd book that was nothing like what I expected from the cover or reading the blurb.  I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still thinking about it because it was so completely fucked up.  I mean, look at that cover.  It looks pretty non-threatening, right?  Sweet even.  At first glance, anyway.

Believe me.  This book is not sweet.

The main character is Maggie (AKA Magpie).  A few months ago she caught her dad in bed with her aunt and her family imploded.  Now her mother does little but drink, her dad lives somewhere else and her sister has moved out and won't reply to Magpie's phone calls.  To make things even worse, something happened at a party and her best friend won't talk to her either.  Everyone calls her a slut in the hallways and the only place she can eat lunch is with the other misfits.

To escape the harsh reality of her real life, Magpie starts writing in a notebook about her ideal world - a town like her own, but without the people and things that make her real life miserable.  She believes so fervently in this world that she somehow manages to write it into existence, creating a portal to her fantasy in her own back yard.

Up until this point in the book I thought it was going to be some kind of gritty drama and Magpie was going to triumph over all her problems is some way.  And she does.  Kind of.  But not in the way I expected at all.

You see, the fantasy world she has created isn't quite as sweet and idyllic as it seems on the surface.  There is a dark underbelly and it might just take as much from Magpie as it gives.  Unless it is fed...

I still don't know exactly what I thought about this book.  It was oddly unsettling, especially when Magpie started using the fantasy world for getting her revenge on those she felt had wronged her.  I don't often say this, but I kind of wished it was longer so the way the two worlds interacted and affected each other could be better explored.

But overall, this was an intriguing book and one that left me thinking for days afterward.

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

Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day her family self-destructed. That was the night Eryn, Magpie's sister, skipped town and left her to fend for herself. That was the night of Brandon Phipp's party.

Now, Magpie is called a slut whenever she walks down the hallways of her high school, her former best friend won't speak to her, and she spends her lunch period with a group of misfits who've all been socially exiled like she has. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a place called Near.

Near is perfect--somewhere where her father never cheated, her mother never drank, and Magpie's own life never derailed so suddenly. She imagines Near so completely, so fully, that she writes it into existence, right in her own backyard. It's a place where she can have anything she wants...even revenge.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Weekly Goals 11-4-22

 Because of Easter, it's a short week, so I have only four days in which to get everything done.  Gonna be busy!  But worth it for a four-day weekend at the end of it.

So that's really my goal for this week: get through all the work I need to get done so I can enjoy the long weekend.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, April 8, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 8-4-22


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 after the week I've had, I need it.  Just...

I don't have a lot of plans for the weekend.  Just the usual chores, gym, housework etc.  My friend is planning to come down from the coast on Sunday to go to an exhibition, so I will meet her to go to that.  It's been months since we saw each other (thanks, COVID).

But otherwise, I just want to read and relax and sleep a lot.

It's my sister's birthday on Saturday, so happy birthday to her.  I won't see her (she lives on the other side of the world),  but I did remember to send a card, at least.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

IWSG - April


It's the first Wednesday of the month so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The awesome co-hosts for the April 6 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise - Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi!

And here's this month's question:

Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

This is not something I have any experience in.  None of my books have been made into audio books.  

I know people really like them, but personally, I've never listened to an audio book.  I have no real desire to.  I love reading and the physical act of holding a book, immersing myself into its pages.  I feel like it would be too easy to miss stuff with audio books because you might zone out for a few minutes or leave the room in which the stereo is playing or even fall asleep if the narrator's voice was too calming.

That said, I don't listen to podcasts either, and I know people love those too.  While cleaning the house and cooking and doing other household chores, I listen to music.  While I'm commuting, I use public transport so I read.  Or I'm on my bike so I keep my eyes on the road... So I can't figure out where I would fit audio books or podcasts into my life.

I guess because I don't consume audio books I've never really missed the fact my own books aren't available in that format.  It has certainly never occurred to me to do anything to further explore the subject, but maybe I'm missing out on a another lucrative channel.

Tell me what I don't know.  If you have audio versions of your book, is it worthwhile?  What are the sales like?

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Weekly Goals 4-4-22

 With much of my weekend taken up writing the obituary, I didn't get any work done on my own projects.  But I did get it done.  It's really hard to distill a very busy and full 93 year life into 1000 words!

So this week I'm back to reading through old projects to figure out how to get them to work.  It's slow going because I just don't seem to have a lot of time to put into it.  My weeks have become stupidly full of things I have to do and there just isn't a lot of time left to write.  I'm wondering how the hell I ever did it...

What are your goals this week?