Sunday, December 4, 2022

Weekly Goals 5-12-22

 Can you believe it's December already?  Where has the year gone?  But thank goodness it's almost the summer holidays.  I am so looking forward to my time off this year.  I know I probably say that every year, but this year feels even more like I need a break.

I'm still not 100% over my flu/cold I had last week, but I really can't take any more time off work, so I'm going back in today.  Depending on how it goes, I may even try the gym tomorrow morning.  Really need to get back into exercising before I turn into a blob.

I seriously need to start getting organized for Christmas too.  I haven't even started making my gifts, so fingers crossed for nice weather next weekend so I can get outside and make those gifts.

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

Friday, December 2, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 22-12-22



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 I'm beginning to feel better.

I've been really sick this week.  Not COVID - I tested negative several times - but frankly, worse than when I did get COVID earlier in the year.  I've never been so sick I needed to take more than a day or two off work, but I haven't been into the office all week.  I did do some work from home on Thursday and Friday, but I'm not 100% sure any of it was much good.

I'm going to try and take it very easy this weekend even though I do have several things I need to go to.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'll feel well enough by tomorrow afternoon to go to the first one.  Feeling pretty positive that I will.  I don't actually feel too bad today except for the coughing which is driving me mad and waking me up at night.

So I'm celebrating being on the mend.  I have a ton of work to get through before we close down for the summer, so I really need to get back to work!  Not to mention I feel like I'm turning into a blob of blubber with not exercising all week.  I have to get back to the gym and on my bike.

What are you celebrating this week?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Weekly Goals 28-11-22

 Well, I appear to have failed in my mission not to get sick and have a full on streaming cold complete with conjunctivitis.  So I won't be going to work today and if this lasts as long for me as it did for my partner, possibly not until the end of the week.

So my goal is to get better.  I have a lot I need to get done before Christmas, both at work and on a personal level.  I want to be better before the weekend because I have a lot of social engagements this coming weekend that I don't want to miss.  With that in mind, I will take it very easy over the next day or so.  Lots of lying in bed and reading and drinking tea for me.

If I start feeling better I might try to work from home a couple of days, but certainly not today or tomorrow.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 25-11-22


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!

I've been fighting off some sort of bug all week (it's not COVID - I've been testing every couple of days) and am quite exhausted.  Luckily this weekend I have nothing much on (unlike next week when I appear to have committed to 5 things, which is not even remotely do-able) so I can try to get some rest.

I bought a new oven a couple of weeks ago and the gas fitter managed to get it fitted for me this morning, so I'm very much looking forward to trying it out.  I suspect cakes or cookies or cinnamon buns might make an appearance this weekend as I test it out.

I hope to make it to the movies on Sunday, but that very much depends on the weather.  If it's fine, I feel like I really have to make a start on making my Xmas presents or I'll run out of time.  I suspect it's going to rain though, so I can justify spending a couple of hours sitting in the dark.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Books I've Read: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

 


I mean, how can you pass up a book with a title like that?  Well, I certainly couldn't!  And what a delightfully fun ride this one was.

Set in the '90s, the book centers on Patricia Campbell, an average housewife with a husband, two kids who are growing up too fast and a dependent mother-in-law.  After attempting a book group reading great literature and other worthy books, Patricia creates a splinter-cell that focuses on reading true-crime stories, the more lurid the better.

When a stranger turns up in town, the book group's conversation turns to speculation about what he might be up to.  Patricia is strangely attracted to him and is flattered by his interest in her and her family.  She doesn't even mind when he starts dropping in randomly at dinner time.

When local children start going missing shortly after his arrival, and other strange events begin creeping into her usually peaceful life, she begins to suspect everything is not as it seems.  She begins her own covert investigation, drawing on her book group for support when needed.  As things become increasingly sinister, it becomes very obvious that there is a monster in their midst and as they are the ones who invited him in, they will have to get rid of him too.

I found this book quite delightful.  Yes, there were moments of gross-out horror (trigger warning: large numbers of rats), but the book group women are so Southern and so genteel that even in the face of unspeakable horrors they have impeccable manners.  It's not a serious horror, so if you're not really into horror, this might be one for you.  It's like black comedy in many ways, and I appreciated that the often-overlooked strength and resilience of the ordinary housewife was celebrated here.

So, I'd recommend this one.  It's a fun, quick read and if you don't like the gory stuff, there really isn't that much to contend with.

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

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the '90s about a women's book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia's life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they're more likely to discuss the FBI's recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club's meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he's a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she--and her book club--are the only people standing between the monster they've invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Weekly Goals 21-11-22

 The weekend went too fast and was too busy for me to get half the things I wanted to do, done.  But I did figure out what I'm going to do for Christmas presents this year, so that's a bonus!  I just need to find the time to actually make them.  Maybe next weekend, if the weather is good.

I have a lot of work to do this week, so won't have a lot of time or energy for much else.  I'm going to the ballet on Thursday, which I'm looking forward to.  I think I got the tickets for Christmas almost two years ago, and it's finally happening!

I'm hoping the weather will allow me to ride my bike to work at least a couple of times this week, but it's not looking promising...

What are your goals for the week?

Friday, November 18, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 18-11-22





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 feel like I need one!

Unfortunately I also have a ton of stuff I need to do this weekend, and I'm not sure I can actually fit everything in.  I'll give it a shot though!

Last night I went to the orchestra and heard them playing Mozart's Requiem.  It was stunning, with a full 60-person choir.  I spent most of the concert watching the conductor who was just fabulous.  She was so in control yet looked like she was having the time of her life.  

I want to find the time to do some writing so I can do these revisions and get the book off for a final round of reading, but there just aren't enough hours in the day.  I think I may need to wait until the holidays when I have three weeks off work.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Books I've Read: This is Why They Hate Us.


 
This was a book that had a lot to admire about it, but was also somewhat frustrating.

It's about a bisexual boy trying to overcome the crush he's been harbouring on his best friend by experimenting with other guys.  Things don't necessarily work out the way he thinks they might and it impacts his already fragile mental health.

The main character, Enrique or Quique to his friends, is one of the most genuine teen characters I've read in a long time.  He's scattered and messy and completely driven by his hormones.  His moods are all over the place and his thoughts and narration often border on chaotic.  He doesn't seem to know exactly what he wants or needs or to understand the effect he might be having on the people around him.  I loved this aspect of the story because Quique feels like a real teenage boy  - like the two I have living in my house.

I also really liked that the author didn't shy away from showing Quique's sexual experimentation.  It's not super graphic or anything, but it's on the page and the author doesn't close the door on those scenes even when it comes to something like swallowing after a BJ.  So few books truly capture the messiness and awkwardness of sex and this one really managed to nail that to the page.

Another really great part of the story is Quique's relationship with his bestie, Fabiola.  Fabiola is one of those women who might hold secrets, but when she's around people she'd comfortable with, she says whatever comes into her head, however crude.  I just wish we'd had a chance to see more of her, especially with her girlfriend, Molly who was little more than a name on the page.


The things I liked less about the book were things like Quique's insistence that he's bi, yet his entire romantic focus is on boys.  He says something at one point about maybe wanting to get married and have kids later, so he might as well have his fun with guys now.  Ummm....  I really don't think that's how bi-sexuality works.  It also struck me as weird that there didn't seem to be any straight people around.  No one really blew Quique off when he made his advances which didn't feel very realistic to me.

One of the other things that made me feel a little squicky was a scene in which Quique gets on a dating app by lying about his age and ends up going to have a booty call with a strange man.  The strange man turns out to be his English teacher which has to have been embarrassing for both of them, yet the teacher still lets him in and even invites him back to the house on other occasions even though they don't actually go through with the date.  There was something a little off about that whole relationship and it made me a little uncomfortable.

So, while I didn't love this book, there is certainly a lot to admire about it.

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

Enrique “Quique” Luna has one goal this summer—get over his crush on Saleem Kanazi by pursuing his other romantic prospects. Never mind that he’s only out to his best friend, Fabiola. Never mind that he has absolutely zero game. And definitely forget the fact that good and kind and, not to mention, beautiful Saleem is leaving L.A. for the summer to meet a girl his parents are trying to set him up with.

Luckily, Quique’s prospects are each intriguing in their own ways. There’s stoner-jock Tyler Montana, who might be just as interested in Fabiola as he is in Quique; straight-laced senior class president, Ziggy Jackson; and Manny Zuniga, who keeps looking at Quique like he’s carne asada fresh off the grill. With all these choices, Quique is sure to forget about Saleem in no time.

But as the summer heats up and his deep-seated fears and anxieties boil over, Quique soon realizes that getting over one guy by getting under a bunch of others may not have been the best laid plan and living his truth can come at a high cost.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Weekly Goals 14-11-22

 It's that time of year when I feel like everyone is just holding on for the holidays.  There's still a lot of work to do, but everyone is kind of burned out from the year and everything just feels like it's hard and kind of a slog.  I know I'm really feeling the need for a break.  Having changed jobs in the middle of the year, I haven't really had a holiday since January and I think I'm overdue.

My goal this week I to wrap up a bunch of stuff I've started, but haven't quite finished yet.  The floor in the bathroom is my first priority.  It needs one more coat of varnish, so I'll do that when I get home from work tonight.  Then I can move on to the other things I need to finish.

I managed to ride my bike to work two days last week.  I'm aiming for three this week, if the weather cooperates.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, November 11, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 11-11-22

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I got some really helpful feedback from one of my readers and now feel like I have some really good ideas how to fix Guide Us (FKA Juliet & Juliet).  Now I just need to find the time to actually do the work...  I think I might try and take a day off work toward the end of the month and just blitz the whole revision in a single day.  Given I wrote the whole first draft in about 8 days, I think it's do-able.  There aren't any really big changes I need to make, just tweaks here and there and maybe two or three new scenes.

I don't have anything planned for the weekend, which is nice.  I want to get some new plants for my outdoor tubs and plant them and I need to sand and varnish some small pieces of the bathroom floor where the old vanity used to be now we've re-done that bathroom.  Oh, and I need to go and look at ovens since my one still doesn't work properly, even after two sets of repairs.  I think it's time to bite the bullet and just buy a new one.  It's quite exciting!  I've never bought an oven before!

And that's it for celebrations from me.  What are you celebrating this weekend?

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Books I've Read: Boy 21

 


This was one of those frustrating books that had a fantastic premise and great characters, yet somehow managed to be a bit meh.  I think it could have been longer and that might have made a bit of a difference, but the main issue I had with it was the way Finley's past was kept obscured for so long when it really didn't need to be.  In fact, I think leaving his trauma a mystery until the very end actually weakened the story.

Finley is the only white kid on his school's basketball team, and gets called "white rabbit".  He's not the best player, but he practices hard and loses himself in the game.  And with his life, he needs to lose himself.  

His mother is dead and his father has never quite got over it.  Finley has to look after his disabled grandfather while his father works long hours to keep the roof over their heads.  The town is run by a shady Irish mob and both father and grandfather warn Finley constantly not to draw attention to himself, not to engage with anyone associated with that mob.

Which is kind of hard since his girlfriend's brother has worked his way up to being a key heavy for the mob - one of those guys everyone fears because he talks the talk and walks the walk and what he says becomes law.

When Russ moves to town, Finley's basketball coach asks him to look after the new kid and hold tight to his secrets.  Russ is a star player with scouts from all over after him, but after losing his parents and bouncing around the foster system for a while, Russ isn't into playing basketball right now.  Her prefers talking about and studying outer space, seemingly convinced he's from a distant planet and going by the name Boy 21.

As the two navigate the ups and downs of their final year of high school, they discover they may have more in common than they may once have thought, and each just might be exactly what the other needs.

There was a lot to like about this book, but it just didn't quite work for me.  I wanted to see more of the town through Finley's eyes.  It was always described as gray and broken, but never in any detail.  The mob was mentioned by multiple characters, yet they were seldom seen and it was unclear exactly how much influence they really had on the town outside of Finely and his family's imaginations.

And as I previously mentioned, I don't think obscuring Finley's past for much of the book added anything other than a layer of annoyance for me.  Oh, and I don't believe the ending was very plausible either. In fact, the last third or so of the book just didn't work for me.  Which is a shame because up until that point, I'd been enjoying it.

So while I don't strongly recommend this one, I wouldn't warn you off it.  It just isn't as good as I wanted it to be...

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

Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. He’s always dreamed of getting out somehow with his girlfriend, Erin. But until then, when he puts on his number 21, everything seems to make sense.

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name Boy21—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space.

As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, “Boy21” may turn out to be the answer they both need

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Weekly Goals 7-11-22

 I don't feel like I have any real goals this week, which is weird for me.  I had a super-relaxing weekend which was exactly what I needed.

I guess one goal is to actually ride my bike to work at least once this week.  I tried last week, but the weather was not cooperative.  Fingers crossed it will be more pleasant this week.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 4-11-22

  


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 sun is shining.  Okay, so there's also practically gale-force winds, but if you're indoors the sunshine is still lovely.  Outside, not so much...

It has been a busy week so I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend.  My partner is away, so I'll have the house mostly to myself since both the boys will be working at least some of the weekend.  There is a lot of garden work that needs doing, and one of my larger indoor plants looks like it needs some TLC, so it might be a gardening weekend.  

I also have a ticket to see Gilda at the classic movie session on Sunday which I'm looking forward to since I've never actually seen Gilda before.  I think it's probably the first of these classics I haven't ever seen, at least on TV.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

ISWG - November

 It's the beginning of November so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!



This month's question is a timely one:

November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

The answer to this is yes. I have done NaNo several times, both the traditional November one and the June summer camps. I'm not doing it this year, but only because the book I wrote during NaNo in 2020 is just in its final stages of revising and editing and beta reading and I'd like to finish that before diving into something new.

Plus, I generally try to take a day or two a week off work to write during NaNo and with having started a new job recently, I don't have a lot of leave up my sleeve to do this.

But I love NaNo and find it very helpful in getting words on the page. I'm a naturally competitive person and I don't like to fail at things I start, so setting a goal and working toward reaching it works well for me. I know it doesn't for others, but we all have our own way of working. I'm very happy to write through without going back to read what I've written before, but I know other writers really struggle to move on if what's already written isn't polished and perfect.

I'm also happy to skip bits if they're too hard to write right now or I'm not sure how the story is going to get from scene A to scene C. I just leave myself a note in the text and move on to the next point where I do know what happens. That scene B can be written later, once I've figured it out.

I think the downside of NaNo is that because they're written so fast and furiously, they tend to need more revision than books that might be written at a more measured pace. But my books always tend to need a lot of revision because I don't outline and I don't write in order and there are always messy bits that don't fit together properly or don't jibe with things that happened earlier. At least you have the words to revise after NaNo, even if it does take two years or more to wrangle them into some kind of shape.

Are you a NaNo person? What works for you?

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Weekly Goals 31-10-22

 Summer feels like it might finally be on its way so this week my goal is to start biking to work again.  Ideally I can do this Monday, Wednesday and Friday which are the days I don't go to the gym in the mornings, but that's obviously weather dependent.  I'm going to ride today anyway.

I'm hoping things will quiet down a little at work from this week and I can start focusing on some of the reports I'm supposed to be writing.  It's really not that long before the end of the year!

Had a lovely weekend away and the weather didn't stop us from doing anything we wanted to do, even if it wasn't perfect.  Had some fantastic food and wine and enjoyed some sleeping in for once!

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 28-10-22

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

My partner and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this weekend by going away for a couple of nights.  I booked a pretty little tiny house in a gorgeous little town a couple of hours away, but stupidly, I only booked for one night, not two by accident.  And I only realized this when the final receipt came through.  Which lead to some scrambling as I tried to find somewhere for us to stay for the second night where I have a dinner booked at a very nice restaurant over there.

Luckily I managed to find a motel that had a room free.  You can call me an idiot now....

Unfortunately the weather isn't looking so hot for the weekend, so I'm not sure what we're going to do.  We had planned to go bike riding and hiking and other outdoors stuff, but that may not be on the cards.  I guess we'll find out when we get there.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Books I've Read: The Feeling of Falling in Love

 



I read Mason Deaver's first book and quite enjoyed it, so when I saw this at the library (and the cover attracted my attention before anything else - kind of love the image of the dumpster fire) I grabbed it.

The book follows trans-kid Neil as he sets up an elaborate fake-dating scheme after his best friend and fuck-buddy freaks him out by declaring he's in love with him.  As you will probably guess, the fake-dating turns into real feelings and the path of true romance does not run smoothly.

Neil is the wealthy son of a hotelier in Los Angeles and has never had to worry about money.  Wyatt, his boarding school roommate and fake-date for his brother's wedding, comes from a less privileged background and is somewhat uncomfortable with the ostentatious display of wealth he sees when dealing with Neil's family.

I don't know if it's just me, but once again, I found the main character in this book really annoying and did not like him at all.  He takes his privilege so much for granted and treats his family with such disrespect and disdain, I found him very difficult to relate to.  His family are not the greatest, but they aren't the worst either.  His grandparents are still struggling to understand and accept his transition which must be hard for him, but the way he speaks about and to them shows that he's not at all willing to be flexible or understanding about their struggle.  Which he probably shouldn't have to, but we're all human and make mistakes.

He also treats both Josh - the boy who professes to love him at the beginning of the book - and Wyatt really badly.  He's incredibly self-centered and doesn't take responsibility or even acknowledge that his actions might hurt people around him.  Ostensibly he does this to keep himself from getting hurt, but I don't believe that someone who has been wounded as badly as he seems to think he has been would treat others so callously.  But maybe that's just me...

Overall, this wasn't a terrible book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped to.

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

From the bestselling author of I Wish You All the Best, comes a new kind of love story, about the bad decisions we sometimes make... and the people who help get us back on the right path.

Perfect for fans of Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and What If It's Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli.

Just days before spring break, Neil Kearney is set to fly across the country with his childhood friend (and current friend-with-benefits) Josh, to attend his brother's wedding—until Josh tells Neil that he's in love with him and Neil doesn't return the sentiment.

With Josh still attending the wedding, Neil needs to find a new date to bring along. And, almost against his will, roommate Wyatt is drafted.

At first, Wyatt (correctly) thinks Neil is acting like a jerk. But when they get to LA, Wyatt sees a little more of where it's coming from. Slowly, Neil and Wyatt begin to understand one another… and maybe, just maybe, fall in love for the first time

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Weekly Goals 24-10-22

 The Jazz Festival finished last night, so this week will be all about doing the wrap up and trying to get all the information together to start writing reports on the Festival for all the different organizations that helped to fund it.  

It was a good festival, I think, with some really good crowds and the entire city seemed to be buzzing.  I was too busy working at the venue for the main headliner acts to get to many of the smaller shows, but I did get out on Saturday night, and everywhere I went seemed to be humming and there were musicians with instruments everywhere, looking for a jam.

It's a short week this week, with today being Labour Day and I'm taking Thursday off to make up for working all those nights and weekend hours.  I'm hoping to do some writing work on Thursday, but I'm not sure how much time I'll have because I'm also doing some hair modeling for a hairdresser training for a competition.  She needs a short hair model, so I volunteered.  

And then this weekend my partner and I are going away for a couple of nights to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  I can't quite believe that it's been so long, but apparently it has.  So we're off to the Wairarapa to eat great food, visit vineyards and hopefully enjoy some good weather outdoors.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 21-10-22

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I think I mentioned a few weeks back that I had a story accepted into an anthology?  Well, the agreement has now been signed and it seems to be really happening.  Book will be coming out sometime in early 2023.  I will keep you posted as I learn more.  It's kind of exciting!  I've had stories in multiple anthologies before, but this is the first one that feels like it might actually have some real impact on my writing career.  And not just because I'm getting paid for the story for a change.

Jazz Festival started on Wednesday, so I'm working all weekend.  Luckily it's a holiday on Monday so I have a day off to recover once it's over.  And the weather is supposed to be nice on Monday too.

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








Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Books I've Read: I Kissed Alice

 


I picked this one up at the library because it sounded like it might be a fun read and I needed something light this weekend.  It was light, but not that much fun, I'm afraid.

Set in a special arts school, the book deals with friendship, fandom and the razor-thin line between love and hate.

Iliana and Sarah have been best friends since childhood, but since Sarah moved into the dorms on campus at the arts school where she won a scholarship, she's become besties with her roommate, Rhodes.  Iliana can't stand Rhodes and the feeling is mutual.

The hatred between these two grows more intense when the two girls find themselves competing against each other for the coveted Capstone prize.  Rhodes is struggling to create anything n the face of intense pressure from her overbearing mother and living up to her family's expectations of her.

Iliana has no problem with creating and is determined to work her ass off to win the prize after losing a much-needed college scholarship as a result of a disciplinary matter partially the fault of Rhodes.

To escape the growing pressures facing them at school, both Rhodes and Iliana turn to an online fan site where they unknowingly pair up to create an Alice in Wonderland comic set in space.  While Rhodes and Iliana hate each other in real life, their online alter-egos, I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire grow closer and closer.

With the competition date rapidly closing in, and the truth about their secret identities uncovered,  it's only a matter of time before these two enemies destroy each others' futures.

The main problem I had with this book was how unlikable all the characters were.  The only person I felt even a small amount of sympathy for was Rhodes' brother, Griffin.  And he didn't play a huge role int he story.  All the main characters were awful.  Sarah, the friend Rhodes and Iliana fought over, was the worst kind of passive yet manipulative character and allowed herself to be railroaded by both the other girls over and over.  I almost cheered for her when she finally got some backbone and dumped both of them.

Rhode is a spoiled princess, so used to getting everything she wants without working for it she crumbles at the first sign of pressure.  But what do you expect from someone brought up by a mother whose solution to any problem is to throw money at it?

And Iliana is so self-centered she doesn't even notice that she's walking all over the people who supposedly care about her.  She's so ambitious she doesn't care who she hurts on the way to getting to her goal.

So I didn't enjoy this one as much as I'd hoped I would.  But if you like reading about bitchy girls treating each other badly, this might be for you.

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

For fans of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Fangirl, I Kissed Alice is a romantic comedy about enemies, lovers, and everything in between.

Rhodes and Iliana couldn't be more different, but that's not why they hate each other.

Hyper-gifted artist Rhodes has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts despite a secret bout of creator's block, while transfer student Iliana tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce.

They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other...a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other's future?

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Weekly Goals 17-10-22

 It's a festival week so work is going to be crazy busy with shows every night from Wednesday and two a day over the weekend.  So I am not expecting to get a lot done outside of work.  Which is a shame because I got my first notes back from one of my readers and now want to dig back into my book and stand revisions.

But I'll wait until I get the notes back from the other two readers and I have some clear time to devote to the book before I do that.  November will be the time to do it.  Instead of writing something new during NaNo, I'll revise this, my 2020 NaNo book.

But my main goal for this week is to get through the Jazz Festival without getting sick.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, October 14, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 14-10-22

 


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 long and busy week at work and I've been fighting off some kind of bug which hasn't made me sick enough to take a day off, but has certainly sapped my energy.  So this weekend is going to be about resting a lot because next week is going to be super busy with the Jazz Festival starting on Wednesday.

So I've stocked up on books to read and plan to do a lot of reading this weekend and not much else.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Books I've Read: The Whistleblower

 


NetGalley was kind enough to let me read this one, so thanks!

New Adult never really became the thing it as supposed to be which is kind of a shame because there is definitely space for books that go beyond YA, but aren't quite adult yet.  This is one of those books and feels especially relevant in the current climate of #metoo and the war on women's rights.

Laurel is a college student studying journalism and working on her school paper.  When she stumbles across a shocking and juicy story about the college's revered football coach, she knows she has to tell the story.

But as she digs deeper into what becomes an increasingly complex and terrifying pattern of fraud and sexual abuse going back years, the repercussions of exposing such an heroic public figure become clear.  Not just in her professional life, but in her personal life too.

Especially since one of her primary sources is the team's star quarterback, Bodie, and she just can't seem to stop running into him.  During the course of the investigation, Laurel realises that it's not just her career on the line, but Bodie's too.

And with her feelings for Bodie changing and growing, Laurel needs to decide how far she's willing to go to uncover the truth.

I enjoyed this one.  There was romance, but not as much as there tends to be in books professing to be New Adult.  For a while there I decided NA was basically YA with more graphic sex.  While Lauren's relationship with Bodie was important to the story, it wasn't the main focus of the book which was firmly centered on the investigation and the repercussions facing both Lauren and her editor if the story was made public.

I imagine there are stories like this everywhere, and the bravery it takes to expose someone as powerful and influential as a successful coach is immense.  I liked that Laurel was a fairly chaotic person in most of her life, and that she had doubts and fears about what she was doing.  Her relationship with Bodie grew naturally, and he genuinely seemed like a good guy, unlike so many sportsmen who get treated like gods because they have the ability to throw a ball or run fast or both.

So I'd recommend this one.  It does deal with sexual abuse and harassment, so if you find these things triggering, maybe give it a miss...

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

When Laurel Cates uncovers a shocking story about Garland’s football coach, it takes all of her courage to publish the story in the school’s paper. And when it reverberates around the country, the ramifications are both personal and professional. But nowhere are the repercussions stronger than in Laurel’s everyday life as she can’t seem to avoid Bodie St. James, the star quarterback, whose own career now hangs on the brink as a result of her article…

Monday, October 10, 2022

Weekly Goals 11-10-22

 I know.  I'm a day late with this post.  Somehow yesterday got away from me!

Not much in the way of goals this week.  We're a week out from the Jazz Festival, so work is pretty crazy.  And because I'll be working nights and the weekend next week, I want to relax as much as possible this week.  I'm fighting off some kind of bug, and I want to get 100% better before I head into the full on week of the festival.

Of course this is always the time I get inspired to write something and a new book idea has crawled into my brain.  I'm not 100% sure if this is a book I'll write just for myself, or if it might end up being something more, but it's something I would like to experiment with - it's a re-telling of a book I really loved as a kid from the POV of one of the other characters.  So we'll see if that idea still appeals to me in a couple of weeks when I have time to think more about it.

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



Thursday, October 6, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 7-10-22

 


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 I don't have a whole lot to do!

The weather has been dreadful all week so I'm hoping the sun might make an appearance this weekend.  I've been fighting off a cold (successfully, I might add), but feel like some sun and warmth would do me the world of good.  Do you ever feel that way after a long, dreary winter?

Been super busy at work with the Jazz Festival only 2 weeks away, so nothing much else has had a chance to get brainspace - learning new systems and a new world at the same time is more challenging than I thought it would be - so I haven't had a chance to even look at my writing.  Good thing my book is out with readers at the moment and I don't need to!

Looking forward to doing some resting over the weekend.  I'm looking forward to doing some reading, if nothing else.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

IWSG - October

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


The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!


This month's question:

What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

My genre of choice is YA contemporary and the best thing about it is how diverse it is as a genre.  There are no limits to the stories that can be told in this space, from sweet, fluffy romance to dark and dirty stories about abuse and addiction.  The characters can come from any culture, and sexual orientation and their problems can be as small or as large as a writer is willing to imagine.

And the books can be written in any style the writer wishes to write - first person present tense, third person past tense or even second person!  They can be books in verse or told through letters or even text messages!  

I like the way characters in this age group are doing things for the first time and that they are still trying to figure out who they are and what they want in life.  Often this changes through the course the book as the character learns things about the world and themselves.  I don't often see such big character arcs in adult novels I read because adults tend to be more settled into their beliefs about themselves and their world.

What is the best thing about your favorite genre?


Sunday, October 2, 2022

Weekly Goals 3-10-22

 I can't quite believe it's already the first week of October.  This year seems to have flown by!  

With only a couple of weeks before the Jazz Festival, I'm going to be super busy at work until the end of the month, so I don't think I'll have much time or energy to write, unfortunately.  

I had a novel entered into a contest that was supposed to be informing the winner in September, and since I was not informed, I'm assuming I didn't win.  So over the next few weeks I'm going to start submitting it to other publishers.  Which means doing a bit of research into which publishers might be a good fit.

What are your goals this week?


Friday, September 30, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 30-9-22

 


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!  I thought it was going to be a quiet one, but somehow it has filled up and now it's looking like it's going to be quite busy.  My son and I are going to the orchestra tonight which is always a treat.  Even if the pieces they're playing tonight aren't ones that really excite me.

I've been crazy busy at work all week which is not too surprising since the jazz festival starts in 3 weeks.  It's going to be nuts until that's over, I think, so I'm not planning on getting anything much else done.

My computer's operating system has been updated and all the programmes that have slowly been disappearing because they're no longer supported are back!  Hopefully, anyway.  I haven't tried everything yet, so wish me luck...

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

 


I somehow seem to keep picking up historical fiction at the library, which is weird because it's not really my go-to genre.  

This one is set against the backdrop of the fire that destroyed a large part of Chicago in 1871 and revolves around a messy love triangle (or love square, really since there are four central characters involved).

Emmeline is about to be married to a wealthy and eligible bachelor and is quickly becoming the talk of the town.  Not an old money family, Emmeline is new on the social scene thanks to her father's sudden rise in fortune and is therefore something of a curiosity around town.

Emmeline's best friend from the old neighborhood has come with Emmeline and her father to the other side of town and is now employed as Emmeline's maid.  Emmeline keeps forgetting that Fiona is now a servant and keeps slipping into treating her as the bosom buddy she's been most of their lives.

Back in the old neighborhood, the pair's other friend, Anders, has been left behind.  He's been in love with Emmeline as long as he can remember and had always assumed that they would marry when they were old enough.  So the discovery that she is betrothed to another is a shock to him, one that wounds him deeply.  Especially since he had to read the news in the paper.

Emmeline realizes she's treated Anders poorly and is determined to speak to him herself.  On the eve of her wedding she and Fiona sneak out to see him fight in a boxing match at the local tavern.  Unable to let his best friends see him lose, Anders wins the fight, invoking the fury of the gambling community which expected him to lose.

As Fiona and Emmeline struggle to hide him from these bad men, Emmeline realizes she still loves Anders and hatches an elaborate plan to escape her upcoming wedding and run away with Anders.  Fiona, who also harbours feelings for Anders is supposed to help the pair flee to New York, but everything changes as the summer nights heat up and buildings across the city start to burn.

I found Emmeline to be an incredibly selfish character, one of those people so used to being adored and getting her own way that she doesn't even recognize her privilege and takes it entirely for granted.  I felt for Fiona who had lived her whole life in Emmeline's shadow, and for Anders who is perhaps a little simple and quite willing to follow the lead of both his strong-willed female friends. 

The fire in Chicago is an event I knew about, but only in the vaguest of ways, so this book vividly brought the events leading to the fires and its devastating effect on the city to life.  I just wish the characters we followed through the fire were people I cared more about because other than poor, simple Andres, I really didn't like any of the main protagonists enough to care much if they survived or not.

But if you like historical fiction and enjoy reading about lives lived in another century, this one offers a perspective on the class system and its inequities even before the fire rips through the city.

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

It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed.

As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze. Sweeping, soapy, and romantic, this is a story about an epic love triangle—one that will literally set the city ablaze, and change the lives of three childhood friends forever.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Weekly Goals 26-9-22

 I've sent the new book off to two of my CPs, so it's now that horrible period of waiting to see what they say, waiting for them to tell me it's not really finished after all.  I should work on something else while I'm waiting, but I suspect I'm going to be too busy this week to really focus on writing at all.  Short weeks after long weekends tend to be.

But if I do get some spare moments, Harley is waiting for me to pick up his story...

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 23-9-22

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I think I just finished a book.  I know, I haven't been talking about it, but I have been quietly working away on the draft of my lesbian Catholic school book over the last few months, and today I think I finished it.  I hope I finished it.  It feels like maybe I finished it.  

So now I need some people to read it and tell me if it feels finished.  Let me know if you would like to.  It's pretty dark and probably not going to rock the world of anyone who is a devout Catholic, so consider that a warning.  

It's so weird to have done this again.  I had really thought I might never finish another book.  But here we are...  And I feel quite energized to get back to work on the other book I started a few months back, A Stranger to Kindness.  

I have a long weekend ahead of me (thanks Queenie) so might find some time to do some work on that.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Books I've read: Shine

 


I actually read the sequel to this one a few weeks back without knowing it was a sequel until after I'd started it.  So I was pleased to find the first book in the series so I could find out the back story to what happened in the sequel.  

Now, let me make it clear.  I know nothing much about K-pop. I've never listened to it and don't really expect to in the future.  It's not really my jam.  But I've now read several books set in the K-pop world and there is something strangely fascinating about it.

This book (and the sequel, Bright) are written by a K-pop star and reading her bio in the back of the book, it's pretty clear the novels are based, at least loosely, on her own experiences.  Which is pretty horrifying if (and I believe they probably are) the stories told in the book are true.  

At just 11 Rachel began her training to be a K-pop star with the powerful label DB, known for churning out hit after hit.  The competition is fierce and Rachel has a disadvantage in that her mother won't allow her to live on the DB campus and train full time.  She has to fit her training in around school and living at home while the other girls live on campus and train full time.

Yet even with this disadvantage, Rachel manages to shine.  She has a great voice and that goes a long way toward overshadowing the fact she's incredibly awkward and shy in front of cameras and sometimes struggles with dance moves.  In the competitive environment of K-pop, any weakness is likely to be exploited by other trainees clawing their way to the top and Rachel is no exception.

When the opportunity arises to perform with one of the most popular singers in a K-pop boy band, the competition becomes cut-throat and Rachel finds herself needing to resort to her own subterfuge to ensure she gets seen the way she wants to be seen.

But things get complicated when she realizes she doesn't just like singing with Jason Lee.  She actually likes Jason as a person.  Maybe more than likes.  But she can't do anything to act on this because K-pop singers aren't allowed to date.  One kiss caught on camera has been known to end a career and Rachel can't risk losing her chance when she's worked so hard to get to this point and may even get put into a group to debut this year if things go well.

I enjoyed this insight into the world of K-pop.  Like ballet, it's super competitive with rules that make very little sense and are designed to keep people from being too individual and standing out from the crowd.  Independence is discouraged and anyone who dares to deviate from the company line is likely to find themselves cut from the programme and never given a chance to perform again.

It's not a work of high art, but it's readable and compelling enough to keep you turning the pages if just to see how awful ambitious people can be to each other.  

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

A Korean American teen is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Girls Generation.

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?

For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Weekly goals 19-9-22

I'm finding it hard to think about goals for this week so can I just say my goal is to get through to next weekend?  Maybe then I'll be able to come up with something sensible to have as goals for next week.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Celebrate the small things 16-9-22

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

My oldest son turned 18 yesterday.  He's a legal adult.  He celebrated by going to the liquor store and buying a bottle of Jack Daniels.  I think he was disappointed that they didn't ask for his ID.  It still feels like he was a baby about five minutes ago...

I'm on to day 3 of the festival I'm working on - a celebration of Maori language to mark both 50 years of the petition to parliament and Maori language week. I've been in charge of ticketing and so far it has all run smoothly.  The events tomorrow are the ones that are likely to be messy - the venue for those ones holds thousands whereas the marae where I've been based until now only seats around 350, depending on the layout.  So wish me luck!  In a nice circularity,  the last event I'm working over the weekend is a couple of screenings of a film we funded in my last job, so that should be fun to work.

With all this going on and working every night, I haven't had a chance to write much at all and probably won't until next week.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Books I've read: A Million Little Pieces

 


When I picked this one up from our whare kai (lunchroom) library, I knew I'd heard of it, but couldn't remember why or in what context.  So I read the the whole thing before realizing that this is the "memoir" that everyone dumped on because the author apparently made some stuff up and embellished other parts of it.

Now, I don't really care how much is true and how much isn't.  I don't believe memoirs have to be 100% factual.  Everyone has slightly different memories about past events and what I believe is the truth about something may not ring true to someone else who was there.  And to write a compelling story, sometimes you need to skip things or merge events or even potentially make something up to connect two points in time.

There.  Rant over.

Now, as for the book I read.  I didn't love it.  I found the writing challenging in places because the author doesn't use standard punctuation, especially around dialogue, so it was often hard to know who was speaking, especially when there was more than two people in a conversation.  And he randomly capitalises some words which was just weird and unnecessary.

It's not an uplifting read either.  Addiction rarely is and addicts tend to be incredibly self-centered and lacking in empathy for others.  James is no different and his refusal to buy into the treatment plan offered to him made an already unlikable character even less likable.  I kind of wanted to slap him and tell him that if he wasn't willing to do the work, he should leave and let someone else who was ready to work take his place.

The whole book basically takes place at the treatment center and it isn't a short book.  It's a long time to spend with a rather unlikable dude and his fellow addicts.  I almost gave up on the whole book after an extended description of James's root canal without any anaesthetic.

But I read on because I was just intrigued enough to want to know more.  And because I'm stubborn and very rarely give up on a book, even if I'm not loving it.  Plus, I hadn't had time to go to the library and nothing else to read.

It's not a great book by any stretch of the imagination, but it is somehow compelling.  Even though I never liked James, I did find myself rooting for him to succeed.  At the end of the book whoever had left the book in our library had stuck a helpful sticky note on the last page of the actual story warning not to read on because there's a whole bunch of stuff after the ending that tells you what happened to the characters in the book post-rehab.  I read on (stubborn, remember? No sticky note tells me what to do) and now I don't need to read the follow-up book because I know what's going to happen.

So would I recommend this one?  Probably not.  But not because it's a fabricated memoir, but because it's just not that great a read.  But if you're interested in addiction and recovery, maybe it will offer you something different.

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

At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab. 

Intense, unpredictable, and instantly engaging, this is a story of drug and alcohol abuse and rehabilitation as it has never been told before. It is also the introduction of a bold and talented literary voice.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Weekly Goals 12-9-22

 It's a festival week for me this week, the first one since I started my new job, so I'm not going to have a lot of free time.  I have shows to work four nights this week and all weekend.  So my goals this week are to get through all of that without any major issues or errors.

And if I have any time for it, I'd like to keep doing my little flash fiction pieces.  Even only a few times a week would be fine; it doesn't have to be every day.

The plus side of working nights this week is that I can go into toe office later which means I'll have time to go to the gym every morning before I start.  So that's another goal for this week - to get the gym five times.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 9-9-22




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 I had a story accepted in an anthology!  More on that once I know more myself.  But nice recognition.  It has been a while since I had anything published.

On the work front, after a frustrating week of wrangling an obsolete ticketing system, I beat it and managed to make it work.  It's still frustratingly complicated and unintuitive, but I managed to get it to do what I needed it to, which is a win in my book!  Although I am still dreading the next round of ticketing I will need to do, at least the numbers of tickets required by each party will be smaller.

I'm having dinner with a bunch of my old colleagues tonight, which will be lovely.  Only two of them are still working at our old place, so it will be fun to hear about everyone's new jobs.

And this weekend is my parents' birthday (they're weird and share one) so we will have dinner with them and some other family.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

IWSG - September

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


The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

This month's question is a good one too!
 
What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

I think there are a lot of genres I'd be terrible at for a variety of reasons.  I'd never want to attempt fantasy because I don't enjoy reading it.  Just the whiff of magic and dragons and potions and powers is enough to make me shut a book.  Really not my thing at all.  Which is interesting because a lot of the writers I read for write fantasy and I'd like to hope my notes on their work are helpful.  

I tend to write stories I'd want to read so it makes sense that I wouldn't write fantasy because I would not pick a fantasy book off a shelf to read unless there was absolutely nothing else available and I was going to be stuck waiting somewhere for a LOOOOOOONG time.

I don't feel like I'm a clever enough plotter to write mystery, so that's another genre I wouldn't attempt.  I have written a few things with elements of mystery in them, but I would never classify them as mysteries.  I think you need to be someone who outlines their stories in detail to write a mystery and that's just not my process.

I probably wouldn't tackle sci-fi either, for much the same reason I wouldn't try and write fantasy.  I just don't enjoy much sci-fi-fi.  If it's a thriller or horror with science at its core, I can usually get into it, but anything set in space or with talking robots is probably not going to float my boat.  So once again, because I write what I want to read, I wouldn't write sci-fi.

And that's probably it for things I wouldn't ever tackle.  Pretty much every other genre, I either have already tried (usually in a short story, not a novel) or would be willing to try if the right story came to mind.  And to be perfectly honest, I have written and published stories in the genres I claim I'd be terrible at.  I had a story published in Residential Aliens which could be called fantasy, although I'd probably call it speculative, and I had a story published in an anthology called Post-Apocalyptic Raids which was probably sci-fi although I tend to think of it as dystopian.

At the end of the day, I like to challenge myself, and especially with short fiction which doesn't take a year or more of my life to finish, I'm willing to explore and try new things.

Is there any genre you absolutely wouldn't touch as a writer?

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Weekly Goals 5-9-22

 It's only 9 days until the first festival I'm working on in my new job starts, so work going to be pretty busy for the next two weeks.  I don't need to put any extra pressure on myself, so my goals are pretty small.  I'm going to try and keep up with my flash fiction writing each day.  It's only half an hour a day and I think I can spare that.

Once I've got that habit bedded in, I might start using that time to work on my novel because even if I am only added 1000 words a day, it's better than no words.  But right now, I don't really feel like tackling a novel, even the one I started a few months ago.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 2-9-22

 

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 apparently it's spring, although you wouldn't know it from the weather.

I've been writing some flash fiction this week, using prompts from the writing community website I use and only allowing myself a half hour from seeing the prompt to uploading.  

I thought I'd share this story I wrote because I actually kind of like it.  So enjoy some reading over the weekend!  The prompt is in red.  Do let me know what you think!

SCARLETT
by Kate Larkindale

I first saw her across the room at a party. It was late enough that the crowds of people were thinning out. She laughed and I realised I’d been hearing that laugh all night. I looked in the direction the infectious, throaty laughter came from and found myself looking at the most fascinating woman I’d ever seen.

She was small; the group of friends surrounding her all towered over her. Yet she didn’t seem small. She was a woman who took up space in the world. Her hair was long and dark, shot through here and there with streaks of crimson, gold, turquoise and jade. She wore it loose so it fell across her back and shoulders like a shawl.

Her boots were chunky, but bright pink and above them, her fishnet stockings were scarlet. The legs beneath them were well muscled with the thick, strong-looking thighs of a regular cyclist, her skirt short enough to make that assessment. Coloured bracelets jangled on her wrists and ropes of beads swung from her neck.

I’ve always been a sucker for a femme, and this girl was as femme as they came. She was the type of girl who wanted to live in a pink house. A princess used to those around her doing her bidding. I knew the type all to well, but unfortunately, I was smitten.

I wove through the people on what had been a makeshift dancefloor until about an hour ago. I didn’t want to think about what I’d call it now, but the words “pig room” flittered across my mind. I pushed them away, not wanting this moment to be associated with something as sordid as bathhouse culture.

She turned as I moved into the cluster of people surrounding her, the one I already thought of as her court. Her eyes widened and her head cocked in my direction. She was curious; I could see that much. And why wouldn’t she be? I’m not being arrogant when I say I’m a good looking woman. I have eyes and a mirror and I’d fuck me. Besides, I’ve had enough people – both men and women – tell me I’m not bad to look at.

“Who are you?” she said with a toss of that magnificent hair.

“Jill,” I told her. “And you’re?”

“Scar,” she says with a smirk. “Short for Scarlett.”

Well, at least it wasn’t Rose.

“Charmed to make your acquaintance. Could I interest you in a drink?”

She slid closer. “Here or somewhere else?”

This was going better than I could have hoped. “Whichever you prefer.”

She glanced across at her friends and wrinkled her nose, an adorable gesture that made my knees liquid. “Let’s get out of here. I think this party was over at least an hour ago.”

She pulled a short, studded leather jacket from the pile of coats piled across the back of the sofa and slipped it on. “Shall we?”

“You don’t need to tell your friends?”

She shook her head and laughed that throaty, irresistible laugh. “They know me.”

We stepped out into the chilly night and fell into step as we turned toward the bright lights of the city. This time of night there were no buses, but my apartment was downtown and so were the bars that plied their wares into the wee hours of the morning.

“What do you do, Jill?” she asked as we moved in and out of the puddles of light cast by the streetlights. “Something interesting? Please don’t tell me you work in IT or something.”

“I’m a butcher,” I told her. “You’re not a vegetarian, are you?”

She laughed again. “No. I like steak and bacon far too much to be a vegetarian. What’s it like being a butcher? Must be hard work.”

“Sometimes. It’s heavy work. It’s how I maintain these babies.” I flexed my biceps and let her squeeze the hard lumps of muscle cording my arms. “What about you? What do you do?”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “I’m an accountant.”

I raised my eyebrows. I was thinking florist or early childhood teacher. She did not look like any accountant I knew. She didn’t act like one either. I couldn’t picture her in an office, poring over a spreadsheet and tapping away on a calculator. But that could be my bias.

“Enjoy it?”

She nodded and her face lit up. “I do. There’s such satisfaction in a column of numbers that balance. And when they don’t, it’s like a puzzle or a mystery to find where the mistake is. I love it.”

For the first time math had some appeal. I’d never been much for finance. Never needed to be. I worked for other people and they paid me. And sometimes I worked for myself and reaped my own rewards.

As I planned to do tonight. This delicious specimen guaranteed a hefty payday. My clients in Japan alone would make this one worthwhile.

“So, where are we going?” she asked as we found ourselves on The Strip, holding hands to keep from being separated by the folk spilling onto the sidewalks from the late-night bars.

“My place is just up the block,” I said. “Or there’s O’Brien’s just across the street.”

She made a face at the mention of the notorious lesbian bar. “Your place sounds quieter. O’Brien’s is such a meat market.”

I nodded my agreement and quickened my step as we got closer to my place.

“You live above the butchery?” she said as I unlocked the door and showed her in, leaving the lights off at the front and leading her past the refrigerators to the stainless steel room at the back. The flourescents flickered on, bathing the dull metal walls in cool, white light.

I watched her take in the hooks hanging from the ceiling, the wide drainage channels in the floor and the selection of knives laid out on the tables.

Knives so sharp she didn’t even scream when I cut her throat.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Books I've Read; Where We Go From Here

 


I picked this one up without picking up that it was set in Brazil which just made it all the more fascinating to read.  It follows a group of young gay men as they work through their various experiences of living with or around HIV.

Victor and Ian meet at a testing clinic - Ian tests positive while Victor, thankfully, doesn't.  Yet despite the good news, Victor finds himself furious at the guy he's been dating for not telling him his HIV status before they had sex.  Yet he still suggests to Ian, a guy he has only just met, that he might want to speak to Henrique as someone who has lived with HIV for some time.

As they navigate the complexities of their relationships, their HIV status and their attitudes, these three men find their lives becoming increasingly entangled with all the messiness that comes along with new friendships and new love.

I enjoyed this one because while the story was not that new to me, the setting gave it a different flavour and I was interested in seeing the way a different culture responds to something familiar.  Each of these guys has a different experience of HIV and their outlooks are different as well.  Victor's attitude frustrated me at times even while I felt it was understandable on some levels.

So I'd recommend this one if you're interested in seeing something familiar in a somewhat new light.

But don't just listen to me.

Here's the blurb:

An absorbing debut novel about three gay young adults in Brazil whose lives become intertwined in the face of HIV, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Bill Konigsberg

Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV.

Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative.

Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.

When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can't help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has-had-been dating. See, Henrique didn't disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.

That's when Victor meets Ian, a guy who's also getting tested for HIV. But Ian's test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and stigma-a story about hitting what you think is rock bottom, but finding the courage and support to keep moving forward.

Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this utterly engrossing debut by Brazilian author Lucas Rocha calls back to Alex Sanchez's Rainbow Boys series, bringing attention to how far we've come with HIV, while shining a harsh light on just how far we have yet to go

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Weekly Goals 29-8-22

 I'm hoping this week which includes the first day of spring might mark an end to the endless rain we've been having.  I'm so sick of being wet and cold!  I thought buying an expensive rain coat would mean I'd never get an opportunity to wear it, but the opposite has actually been true:  I've already got my money's worth out of that thing.

This week I'm hoping to start feeling more settled in my new job and more confident in what I need to do.  I also think it's the first week in ages when I haven't had a ton of extra things to do on top of my job so I'm hoping I might be able to find a little time to write.  Even just a short story would be good.  Flash fiction, even....

And that's about it for goals.  Not big, I know, but sometimes that's all you can do. 

What are your goals this week?