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!

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.