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?