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?