Sunday, July 31, 2022

Weekly Goals 1-8-22

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

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

Busy, busy!

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 29-7-22

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!

Unfortunately it looks like it's going to be a busy one and I actually need it not to be.  I have been flat out at work and it doesn't look like that's going to stop until I finish up on the 10th. Luckily I have a few days after that to relax before I start my new job.  And it's the film festival, so I plan to spend most of those five days at the movies.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Books I've Loved: In the Wild Light


I'm not ashamed to say I love Jeff Zentner.  Every one of his books have kicked me in the feels and left me mourning after reading the last page just because I'm so devastated to be finished.  And this book was no different. 

It's about Cash, a damaged kid living in small town Tennessee.  His grandparents have taken over bringing him up since his mother OD'd in their trailer when Cash was 13.  He adores his grandparents and they adore him which makes it harder that his grandfather is slowly dying from emphysema.

Equally damaged is Cash's best friend, Delaney who he spends all his time with when he's not mowing lawns to help out with the family finances.  The pair of them spend a lot of their time on the river in Cash's canoe.  And it's on the river that Delaney discovers a fungus that may change modern medicine.

Off the back of this discovery, Delaney is offered a scholarship to an exclusive New England private school.  And somehow she manages to get Cash one too so she doesn't have to go alone.  On the one hand, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for Cash, but on the other, how can he leave when he can't be sure his Pawpaw will still be alive when he returns?  But how can he allow Delaney to go so far away on her own?

This is a remarkable book about the resilience of the human spirit. Cash's life has broken him time and time again, yet he somehow manages to keep going.  And to keep loving despite the pain this obviously causes him.  He's my favourite kind of character - a damaged boy who somehow manages to remain a good person who does his best to make things better for the people he cares about.

Very recommended indeed.  

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

Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He’s been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen.

But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he would have to leave behind.

From the award-winning author of The Serpent King comes a beautiful examination of grief, found family, and young love.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Weekly Goals 25-7-22

 I have another crazy work-week ahead of me, so I'm keeping my goals small.

My friend who I go to the gym with in the mornings is isolating this week, so I'm going to have to motivate myself to go to the gym in my lunch breaks.  Not entirely ideal when I'm this busy, but it will have to happen this week.

I have reading to do for a friend.  I've started, but did not get as far into it as I would have liked so that's my other project for this week.

And I worked with my son over the weekend on his essay, but we didn't finish, so this week I need to help him with that until it's finished.  It's due on Friday.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 22-7-22


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!

It has been a crazy week with so much work to do, so I am grateful to have absolutely nothing planned for the weekend.  Apart from helping my son with an essay for school.  And cooking dinner for my folks on Sunday.  And...

Okay, I have a few things planned.

But I also plan to do some sleeping and reading and relaxing because next week is going to be just as busy at work, if not more so.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Books I've Read: Last Night at the Telegraph Club

I kept hearing about this book and how good it was, so I was pretty thrilled to find it at the library so I could read it and find out if all the chatter was true.  

It is.

Set in the 1950s in San Francisco's Chinatown, this is an important and fascinating story about a first generation Chinese girl struggling to come to terms with the various facets of her identity.  She's American.  She's Chinese.  And she's pretty sure she might be a lesbian as well. Being a lesbian in the 1950s was hard enough without the added layer of cultural expectation that comes from being both Chinese and an immigrant.

This book balances all these things against a backdrop of the Communist scare and increasing hostility toward Chinese who might be sympathisers.  Lilly's fear of being outed as a lesbian is echoed by others in the neighbourhood who are equally terrified of being accused of being Communist sympathisers.

The relationship between Kath and Lily is organic, growing from tentative to bold an back again as the realities of being queer in this time and place contain and constrict their movements and activities.  I also really enjoyed the ups and downs of Lily's friendship with Shirley, her best friend from childhood who she might just have outgrown.

The titular Telegraph Club is based on several real-life clubs that existed in San Fran at the time and is described in such a way I could feel the heat of too many bodies pressed together, smell the smoke and sense the mixture of fear an excitement that must have touched everyone in the room.  That sense of doing something slightly dangerous and forbidden, yet being fascinated by it to the point of obsession.

So I would definitely recommend this one.  It's a great story set in a challenging time period and offers a glimpse into a culture we rarely get to see.

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

A story of love and duty set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the Red Scare.

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Weekly Goals 18-7-22

 The next few weeks are going to be a little nuts as I try and wrap everything up at my current job, so I'm not going to push myself as far as goals go.  I have some reading to do for a friend, so I'm going to prioritize that over my own writing for the next wee while, mainly because all the things I need to finish up at work are writing things and I know I'll be written out by the end of the week.

Other than that, I don't really have any goals for this week.  Just getting through it, I guess...

What are your goals this week?

Friday, July 15, 2022

Celebrate the Small Things 15-7-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

It's been a big week.  I resigned from my job on Monday after having been there over seven and a half years.  So I'm celebrating that and my new job with an organization that runs a variety of large-scale arts events.  It's going to be a big change, but I'm up for that.  I think it's easy to get comfortable and feel secure in a place, and leaving is a little scary, but I think you need to do scary things if you're going to grow as a person.

But leaving means I have only a month or so to wrap everything up at my current job and there is a ton of work I have to do.  I've basically been doing three jobs for the last year or so and I will have to write up handover notes on how to do every part of them.  As well as finishing up a couple of very large projects that have been my responsibility.  I hope the four days break I've taken between jobs is enough for me to recover!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Books I've read: Take Me With You When You Go


I read this one in a single sitting because it was such a quick, compelling read.  I'm not usually a huge fan of books written as letters or emails because they usually tell more than they show just because of the nature of writing to someone about things that have already happened.  And this book does fall into that somewhat, but because the stories unfolding through the emails are so full of peril for the participants, it's very readable.

When Ezra wakes one morning to find his sister gone, he's both angry and terrified.  He discovers a secret email address she's left for him and this becomes a lifeline for him as he tries to figure out how to survive at home without her.  For years they have taken care of each other, navigating an abusive stepfather and a negligent mother who turns a blind eye to the abuse.

At the other end of the email, Bea is discovering that running away from home is one thing; surviving away from home is another.  She is in a new city without any friends or support and very little money, but is determined to stay because she has a spark of hope that she might find what she has been searching for in that city.

As things go from bad to worse in both locations, the siblings desperately cling to the lifeline the emails create between them as the only way to keep their connection to one another alive.

As many of you will know, I am always fascinated with stories that delve into sibling relationships, particularly where the siblings involved are dealing with less than perfect home environments.  So this one was right up my alley!  Ezra and Bea are great characters each with their own distinct personalities and ways of dealing with the trauma in their lives.

I would definitely recommend this one.  It's a quick, easy read, but one that will stick with you after you've finished it.

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

From the New York Times bestselling authors of All the Bright Places and Every Day comes a story of hope, family, and finding your home in the people who matter the most.

Subject: You. Missing.

Ezra Ahern wakes up one day to find his older sister, Bea, gone. No note, no sign, nothing but an email address hidden somewhere only he would find it. Ezra never expected to be left behind with their abusive stepfather and their neglectful mother - how is he supposed to navigate life without Bea?

Bea Ahern already knew she needed to get as far away from home as possible. But a message in her inbox changes everything, and she finds herself alone in a new city - without Ez, without a real plan - chasing someone who might not even want to be found.

As things unravel at home for Ezra, Bea confronts secrets about their past that will forever change the way they think about their family. Together and apart, broken by abuse but connected by love, this brother and sister must learn to trust themselves before they can find a way back to each other.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Weekly Goals 11-7-22

 It's been a while since I blogged here.  Apologies for missing the Friday Celebrate post.  I went to Auckland for a conference over the weekend and completely forgot about it in all the chaos of getting ready to go, flying and making sure I had everything I needed for the presentation my colleagues were giving.

Now it's Monday and I feel like I've had no weekend.  Probably because I haven't.  I got home at 10:30 last night and have to be back in the office first thing this morning.

So my goal this week is to try and get a day off somewhere along the way.  I'm tired and I have a lot of stuff I need to try and get done outside of work as well as at work.  So I would like to take Friday off this week to do writing related stuff so I can actually relax over the weekend.

So that's my main goal right now.  What are your goals this week?

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Insecure Writer's Support Group

 It's the first Wednesday in July so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

The awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

And here's this month's question: 

If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

Now, that's a tricky one for me because I'm not really a fan of books set in other worlds.  I primarily read books set in the contemporary world.  Occasionally I read historical fiction, and while the past does fascinate me, I can't think of any other time period I'd really like to live in.  Visit, yes, but live?  I don't think so.  Except maybe the 1920s in somewhere like Paris or New York or Berlin.  I can almost picture myself fitting into the bohemian art scene of the time.  Almost...  But again, probably just for a visit, not permanently.  I know too much about what happened next to be truly comfortable being there permanently.

I've thought about all the fantasy novels I've read and none of them really appeal much to me.  I don't generally enjoy most fantasy anyway, so living in a fantasy world appeals almost as little as living in the dark ages or the depression.  I loved the Narnia books when I was a kid, and the Oz stories, but I don't think I'd want to live in Narnia or in Oz.

I think if I had to pick one world, I'd like to be a vampire in the world of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.  I loved those books when I first read them many years ago, and they are still go-to books when I need to escape the real world for a while.  The vampires may be undead, but they seem to have such glamorous lives and live in such luxury despite it.  Not to mention they're incredibly sensual and sexy even if they don't actually have sex. 

And if they fall out with a friend or companion, they can just make another.  Okay, they have to kill them, but what's physical death when you can be immortal and wander through centuries without losing your marbles? Sounds pretty darn good to me!

How about you? Which story world would you want to live in?

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Weekly Goals 4-7-22

 Just realized when I wrote the date that it's the 4th of July, so happy Independence Day to all my American friends.

Weekends are just too short, I've decided.  There isn't enough time to do everything I need to do.

Yes, that's a way of saying that once again, I didn't get any writing done in the last week.  Well, that's not entirely true - I wrote a lot, just not on my own projects.  And I know I won't get anything done this week either because I'm going to a conference in Auckland over the weekend so won't have any free time.

This week's goal is really just to get through the week.  I have a ton of work to get done before the conference so that's going to have to be my main focus for the week.  And I have a few other things on as well.

One day things are going to calm down a little.  She says hopefully...

What are your goals this week?