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?