Sunday, September 24, 2023

Weekly Goals 25-9-23

 I had a pretty relaxing weekend although I did do a lot of cleaning.  I didn't do a lot of book marketing work, which I should have.  Somehow, the time just ran out.  Maybe it was that hour we lost to daylight saving...

Anyway.  This week's goals?  Pretty much the same.  Try and find some time to do some book promotion stuff.  It's less than two weeks until the book comes out, so I need to get moving.  I have a busy week at work ahead of me too, so time will be at a premium.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 22/9/23


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 working last weekend, I really, really need it!  I also have a new person starting work with me on Monday which will take a big chunk of really tedious work off my plate.  

I've had a few more people offer to read and review My Murder Year, and I've done a couple of interviews and guest blog posts to support the release, so I'm feeling like I've done something, at least. Probably not enough to get it onto the NYT Best Seller's List, but better than nothing. Hopefully people will read and enjoy it.  Two weeks until release day...

I'm going to try and do some relaxing this weekend, but also to get some more book promo stuff done.  I also need to try and figure out where one of the neighborhood cats has sprayed in my living room.  It reeks of cat pee and I've cleaned everywhere it seems to be coming from with vinegar and water and sprayed the get-rid-of-cat-pee enzyme spray, but it still stinks.  I've even used a black light to try and find where it's coming from, but can't see anything obvious.

I also saw a mouse in my pantry yesterday, so I'm going to need to clean that out and try to figure out where they're getting in. This is the second time this year I've seen one in there. Suddenly my weekend isn't looking quite as restful as I had hoped...

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

 


Loosely linked to Lo's book, Last Night at the Telegraph Club, this one is a more contemporary story set against the backdrop of the legalisation of gay marriage.  Set in and around San Francisco, the book follows Aria as her summer plans are derailed by an unfortunate graduation party incident.  Instead of going with her two besties to Martha's Vineyard, Aria finds herself packed off to stay with her grandmother just outside San Francisco.

Aria loves her grandmother and despite being upset about her summer plans being undone, she quickly settles in and finds herself a space in her grandmother's old art studio.  She even starts making art of her own, something she's never done before or even really considered, despite her grandmother being a well-known artist and photographer.

And then there's Steph, her grandmother's gardener who Aria finds inexplicitly fascinating.  And Steph seems interested in her too, asking her accompany her and her friends to an open mic, movie night and to a protest march in the city.  

Surrounded by this group of queer women and undeniably attracted to Steph, Aria's "boring" summer becomes suddenly much more interesting.  

I enjoyed this one a lot.  Aria felt like a very real person as she grappled with feelings and thoughts she'd never considered before.  I also liked the way she peeked into her family history and discovered things there that helped her come to terms with the person she truly is.  She's not a perfect person either and does some things that are quite questionable along the way, but they just serve to make her feel more like a real person.

So I'd recommend this one. 

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

Award-winning author Malinda Lo returns to the Bay Area with another masterful coming-of-queer-age story, this time set against the backdrop of the first major Supreme Court decisions legalizing gay marriage. And almost sixty years after the end of Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Lo's new novel also offers a glimpse into Lily and Kath's lives since 1955.

Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha's Vineyard with her best friends—one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria's parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West. Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother's gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable—for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It's the kind of summer that changes a life forever.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Weekly Goals 18-9-23

 It's still all about promotion this week.  I've reached out to a bunch more reviewers and hope to get some of those on board.  I also need to get the book listed on all the free book promo sites, which I haven't done yet.  If I was better at social, I'd schedule a bunch of social stuff too, but that's not really my strong suit.  Especially now that social media seems to have fragmented and I don't really know where people are hanging out anymore.

I need to write a newsletter at some point.  My mailing list is pitifully small, but that's probably because I don't put content out often enough.  I should get better at that...  I write newsletters all the time in my day job, so it's not like I don't know how to do it.

And that's about it for goals this week.  I may take a day off on Friday because I worked over the weekend.  If I do, it will be a writing day and I will try and get all these chores off my plate so I can get back to Guide Us and actually finish it! For real this time.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 15-9-23

 

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

What am I celebrating this week?

It's my son's birthday today.  He's 19, if you can believe it.  I know I can't!  Where did those 19 years go?  Typically for a kid his age, he doesn't want to hang out with his aged parents, so he's going off  to do his own thing tonight which will probably involve drinking too much...

We have a festival on this week so I'm working the weekend.  But it should be fun, if a little chaotic.  There are a LOT of people coming to the two shows tomorrow!

I've managed to get a handful of reviewers lined up to read My Murder Year ahead of release and hope to get a few more to read it in the first month or so of its release to generate some hype.  I just need a bunch of time (which I don't have) in which to actually do all this work.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Books I've Read: Wayward

 



After finishing the epic Wanderers a couple of weeks back, I was happy to discover that the library had the sequel, Wayward, on the shelf too.  Another whopping 800-page read!  No wonder I'm 16 books behind my Goodreads goal this year.

Wayward takes place five years after the end of Wanderers and picks up the lives of the survivors of What Mask, particularly the sleepwalkers and Shepards who have settled in the remote town of Ouray.  Awake now, the sleepwalkers are doing what Black Swan wanted them to do and are re-building.  With the smartest and most resourceful people having been selected, the town is thriving.

Yet all is not well. The community is beginning to splinter with groups following their own beliefs starting to hole up in secret, making plans they are not sharing with the rest of the town. When Shana gives birth, the first new life in the town, things become downright sinister.

Meanwhile, the malevolent Ed Creel has appointed himself President and rules the world's elite from within the walls of a secure bunker.  As the years of confinement mount and supplies begin to dwindle, things within this community also start falling apart and Ed's desperation to hold onto power becomes his downfall.

The book follows both the people of Ouray and Ed Creel and his band of deranged desperados as they struggle to survive in this new world and what they find when they leave the relative safety of their confined existences.

And overseeing everything is the dark spectre of Black Swan, the super computer AI behind the apocalypse and which continues to grow and develop in impossible new ways.

I enjoyed this sequel more than Wanderers.  It was still over-long, but the story moved quickly and there was plenty of action and adventure and new characters to meet.  While some of what is portrayed is horrible, much of the book is testament to the strength of the human spirit and just how far humanity will go to survive.

I enjoyed it and you probably will too, if you're into post-apocalyptic fiction.

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

Five years ago, ordinary Americans fell under the grip of a strange new malady that caused them to sleepwalk across the country to a destination only they knew. They were followed on their quest by the shepherds: friends and family who gave up everything to protect them.

Their secret destination: Ouray, a small town in Colorado that would become one of the last outposts of civilization. Because the sleepwalking epidemic was only the first in a chain of events that led to the end of the world--and the birth of a new one.

The survivors, sleepwalkers and shepherds alike, have a dream of rebuilding human society. Among them are Benji, the scientist struggling through grief to lead the town; Marcy, the former police officer who wants only to look after the people she loves; and Shana, the teenage girl who became the first shepherd--and an unlikely hero whose courage will be needed again.

Because the people of Ouray are not the only survivors, and the world they are building is fragile. The forces of cruelty and brutality are amassing under the leadership of self-proclaimed president Ed Creel. And in the very heart of Ouray, the most powerful survivor of all is plotting its own vision for the new world: Black Swan, the A.I. who imagined the apocalypse.

Against these threats, Benji, Marcy, Shana, and the rest have only one hope: one another. Because the only way to survive the end of the world is together.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Weekly Goals 11-9-23

I'm still deep in the throes of book marketing stuff right now, so my goal this week is to keep going with that.  I'm reaching out to reviewers and offering ARCs at the moment, which is always time consuming.  But necessary, I believe.

We have a festival this week, so I'll be working over the weekend, which will leave me with even less time than usual to get stuff done.  Slowly but surely, though...  Even if it's only two or three emails a day.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 8-9-23

 

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.

We launched the first four shows in the 2024 Arts Festival, farewelled our leader and welcomed the magnificent women who are stepping up to make sure we get through the next three events in our calendar.  So there's been quite a bit of stuff going on that was outside the usual work, which meant having to catch up on all the regular stuff.  I've learned that going on sale with events is never an easy, smooth process, no matter how much preparation you've done ahead of times.  

But it's done now, and I just have to get the next round ready to go.  Thankfully, I've hired someone to help out with all of this, so I won't be doing the next lot on my own.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend, although I have a lot of book promo stuff to do.  I have ARCs now!  So if you would like to read and review My Murder Year, please just let me know.

And the other thing I'm celebrating is a bargain!  I had to go down to the end of town I rarely get to on Tuesday, which meant I had a chance to go and browse my favourite shoe shop.  They had a sale on where you could buy two pairs of shoes from their sale rack for $320.  I was actually looking for some silver sneakers, but I ended up buying two pairs of boots, one red, one purple because they were such a bargain.  I mean, the red ones were $475!  And the other ones were $399.  So to get both pairs for less than the price of one?  Well, how could I say no?

Now I have to clean out my shoe rack and get ruthless about the shoes I never actually wear anymore.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

IWSG - September 2023

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  And it's an extra special one this month!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 6 posting of the IWSG are Sonia Dogra, J Lenni Dorner, Pat Garcia, Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen, and Meka James!


HAPPY TWELTH BIRTHDAY INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP!!!
Celebrate with us. Answer this month's question. 
๐ŸŽˆ✨๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽŠ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ‚๐Ÿฐ


Why thank you!  I shall!


The IWSG celebrates 12 years today! When did you discover the IWSG, how do you connect, and how has it helped you?

Gosh, I'm not even sure when I first discovered the IWSG.  I know I've been participating in these monthly blog posts for the last six or so years, but I'm pretty sure I was aware of it before that, and that I did occasionally engage with these posts even if I didn't do it every month.  But let's just say six years...

I think the thing I like the most about it is the people.  Writing books is a fairly solitary activity for the most part, so having a community of like-minded people to hang out with, even digitally, makes a huge difference.  Just knowing I'm not the only one struggling with the things I'm struggling with can be so helpful.  I've also learned a lot from other authors' blogs, and I hope some writers may have learned things from mine.

Being a co-host has also been a great experience because it means you visit blogs you may not visit on a regular basis and meet people that you may not have engaged with before.  And it's a great way to discover new authors and books to read.

I always look forward to the monthly email and the news from authors I may or may not have come across in the monthly blogs.  I always try to get to blogs I haven't visited before, but some months are so busy, it's difficult to make it around as many as I'd like to.  

So thank you IWSG!  Just knowing you're all there makes a big difference to this writer.  I hope to be here with you all again in another 12 years.


Sunday, September 3, 2023

Weekly Goals 4-9-23

 Can you believe it's September already?  Where has this year disappeared off to?  It's crazy!

It's going to be an intense week at work so I'm not going to set myself up for failure in terms of goals.  I started getting some promotional stuff ready for the release of My Murder Year over the weekend, and for the next couple of weeks I feel like continuing that should be my priority.  Even though I'd really like to keep working on Guide Us.  But that will still be there waiting for me when I've launched My Murder Year.

If any of my blog readers would like to help out with a blog post, an interview, a review,  some socials or anything, just let me know and I'll get you whatever you need.  Happy to return the favour when you need it.

So that's about it for me this week.  What are you trying to get done this week?

Friday, September 1, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 1-9-23

  

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 first day of spring!

I have nothing on this weekend for the first time in ages so plan to do some stuff to get ready to launch My Murder Year into the world.  It's only a month away...  I can't quite believe it.  I also hope to get a bit of time to actually write too, but let's not get too crazy here.

It has been a crazy busy week and next week is going to be even worse, so I'm hoping to do some relaxing this weekend as well as catching up on all the things I need to get done.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Books I've Read: The Getaway

 


I know...  This isn't the kind of book I usually read.  But something about the cover intrigued me, so I picked it up at the library and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Set in a dystopian future where sea level rise has wiped out most of the coasts and people are fighting for resources elsewhere, Jay and his family have found refuge in Karloff County.  Karloff is a gated resort for the super-wealthy and to ensure the guests get the best possible experience, a large staff of "helpers" live within the walls to run everything.  Jay's family are helpers and grateful to be there where they don't have to fight for scraps of food and where life feels relatively safe.  

Until Connie, one of Jay's tight group of friends, disappears overnight without a word.  And then a huge influx of the world's richest people start pouring into the resort and not leaving.  And these guests expect even more than the regular guests and are not afraid to use their power to get what they want.  

Desperate to figure out what is going on and why their safe little community has suddenly become decidedly unsafe, Jay and his friends start digging for the truth.  And what they discover is worse than anyone could ever imagine.  Karloff County isn't just a vacation spot - it's been designed to be a bolthole for the world's most powerful, a place to hide while civilization outside the walls crumbles and burns to the ground.

As Jay and his friends uncover horror after horror about the place they've been happy to call home, they have to figure out whether it is more dangerous to leave Karloff County or to stay.

I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to.  Dystopia is not usually my jam, but this world was so preposterous, so over the top, I kind of believed it.  I mean, if the world is ending, why not hide out in a place that's like Disneyland times ten?  If you can afford it...  The characters were well drawn and distinct and I enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on alongside them.

So I'd recommend this one.

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

Welcome to the funnest spot around . . .

Jay is living his best life at Karloff Country, one of the world’s most famous resorts. He’s got his family, his crew, and an incredible after-school job at the property’s main theme park. Life isn’t so great for the rest of the world, but when people come here to vacation, it’s to get away from all that.

As things outside get worse, trouble starts seeping into Karloff. First, Jay’s friend Connie and her family disappear in the middle of the night and no one will talk about it. Then the richest and most powerful families start arriving, only... they aren’t leaving. Unknown to the employees, the resort has been selling shares in an end-of-the-world oasis. The best of the best at the end of days. And in order to deliver the top-notch customer service the wealthy clientele paid for, the employees will be at their total beck and call.

Whether they like it or not.

Yet Karloff Country didn’t count on Jay and his crew--and just how far they’ll go to find out the truth and save themselves. But what’s more dangerous: the monster you know in your home or the unknown nightmare outside the walls?

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Weekly Goals 28-8-23

I have another stupidly busy week this week, so making any writing goals is silly.  Other than getting my next round of edits into my publisher.  As I suspected, more have come back...  Hopefully I can turn those around today.

I have one of those weeks where I'm out every night, so there's just no time for me to work on my own stuff. But maybe in the weekend...

What are your goals this week? 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 25-8-23

 

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 got copyedits through on My Murder Year and have worked through those.  I suspect I'll get another round back because I rejected a few things that I'm pretty sure are in my publisher's style-guide.  I just find them really jarring to read and they ruin the flow of the writing.  So we'll see...

I have a pretty busy weekend planned, so again, not a lot of time to work on those edits to Guide Us.  I think I might have to take a day off work at some point to get through it.  But no point doing that until I know what I want to write.  Hopefully we'll get there soon.

The cats caught a bird yesterday and brought it inside.  It escaped in the kids' bathroom and both cats, plus one from down the street bailed it up in there.  Quite a commotion!  Not what I needed at 7:30 in the morning.  Luckily Lola caught it again and ran out of the bathroom.  I managed to get her to go outside and both the other cats followed.  She then dropped the bird and it flew away.  So it ended well, except maybe for  the cats.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Books I've read: Someone is Always Watching

 



This was a weird one.  I really wanted to like it more, but I found it difficult to relate to any of the characters and none of them really felt 100% real to me.  Which may have been the point, on further reflection...

The book is set in a small community in which almost all the parents work for a single company.  Their kids all go to the same school and largely hang out with one another as a big friend group.  Blythe is a good girl, always doing what she should.  Unless Tucker is involved.  He seems to be able to encourage bad behaviour in her, and has been able to since they were small children.  Now they're banned form seeing one another and it's hard because Blythe thinks she might actually be in love with Tucker.

When one of their other friends, Gabrielle, appears to have a breakdown at school, things start getting weird.  Especially when the principal shows up dead and Gabrielle is covered in (his???) blood.  And then there are the weird dreams and memories of things that never happened that keep flashing through Blythe's head.  Is she going as crazy as they say Gabrielle is?  Or is something much more sinister going on?

It probably comes as no surprise that yes, it is something more sinister.  I won't say what though, because that would ruin the book for you....  

I found this a fast-paced read.  There was enough intrigue to keep things interesting and the pages turning.  I enjoyed the focus on memory and the unreliability of it.  I just wished the characters were a little more fleshed out.  They all seemed very privileged, living in this tight community where everyone's parents had a good, stable job and any major problem could be taken care of by someone at the company (which became a little sinister as things began spiralling for Blythe and her friends).

It's not the best book I've ever read, but it was entertaining enough and kept me turning the pages right until the end.

So I'd recommend it if you like thrillers and don't care too much if the characters have layers and depth to them.

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

Blythe and her friends—Gabrielle, and brother and sister Tucker and Tanya—have always been a tight friend group, attending a local high school and falling in and out of love with each other. But an act of violence has caused a rift between Blythe and Tucker . . . and unexpected bursts of aggression and disturbing nightmares have started to become more frequent in their lives.

The strange happenings culminate in a shocking event at school: Gabrielle is found covered in blood in front of their deceased principal, with no memory of what happened.

Cracks in their friendship, as well as in their own memories, start appearing, threatening to expose long-forgotten secrets which could change the group’s lives forever. How can Blythe and her friends trust each other when they can’t even trust their own memories?

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Weekly Goals 20-8-23

 Work is so busy at the moment it's hard to make and really substantial goals.  I just don't have the time or energy to achieve them.  I kind of knew this was going to happen so I'm even more frustrated with myself that I didn't get through all the revisions on Guide Us before I went away on holiday. Especially since I have a book coming out in early October and am going to have to switch to promo-mode for that soon.  I probably should have started that now, to be honest...

Why aren't there extra hours in the week?  Or an extra day, just for getting your own shit done.  Would be so useful.

So this week I'm going to continue working through Guide Us to make sure the changes I already made are well bedded in.  I'm hoping this might help me to figure out what I need to write in those extra two chapters I think I need toward the end...

What are your goals this week?


Friday, August 18, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 18-8-23

 

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!  This week has been nuts.  I threw my back out on Monday (tying my shoe - yeah, I'm getting old), so that wasn't a great start to the week.  It's feeling much better now, but still a little twingey, so I'll be taking things easy for a while.

Work has been super busy and it doesn't look like it's going to calm down much in the near future.  And between my brain travelling at a million miles an hour trying to get through everything I need to do and my back hurting, I haven't slept a lot this week.

So the weekend is very welcome.  I'm going to curb my movie withdrawal symptoms and catch up with some of the mainstream films I missed during the Festival, starting with Barbie and Oppenheimer.  My partner has a client working here all weekend, so it's probably a good idea for me to get out of the house.

I'm working through Guide Us, hoping the changes I made are working.  I'm not hating them so far, although I am wondering if there may be too many party scenes.  Is it too much to have three parties?  I mean, high school kids would probably go to at least three parties in a six-month period, right?  And each is for a different purpose - one is a general rager, one a birthday party for the twins and one the cast party at the end of a show.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Books I've Read: Wanderers

 


This is a LOOONG book.  Long enough I had real trouble holding it to read in the bath.  It kind of reminded me a lot of The Stand, but more contemporary.  Very much more contemporary.  Eerily so, to be honest.  This book was published in 2019, so was written well before COVID first reared its ugly little head, yet reading it now, you'd never believe the author hadn't already lived through 2020.  Does Chuck Wendig have a time machine?  An uncanny psychic brain?  Access to his own invention, Black Swan?  

I don't know.  But he sure got a lot of stuff right.

The book starts with a teenage girl, Shana, finding her sister, Nessie,  in the throes of a mysterious affliction.  She walks, seeming without purpose, and can't be stopped.  If she's grabbed, or detained or in any way thwarted in her progress, her temperature rises and she starts swelling.  Obviously Shana lets go.

Soon another walker joins Nessie. The another and another.  Every couple of hours a new one joins what becomes known eventually as "the flock".  Police are called, but when they try to detain one of the walkers, he basically explodes.

Then the medics are called in.  The disease control specialists.  Is this some new plague?  Aided by a seemingly sentient computer called Black Swan, Dr. Benjy Ray gets called in to help.  An infectious disease expert, he's been out of a job for a while after falsifying some data during a previous case.  He's only allowed back in now because for some reason, the AI wants him and only him.

The book wanders with the flock and the disease experts as they traverse the country, following the increasingly large crowd to an unknown destination.  Meanwhile, a small-town priest tries to make sense of what is going on through his own lens and winds up capturing the attention of some white suprematists who are using this strange plague to further their own agenda.

I won't spoil the book for you by telling you exactly what happens, but I found it odd how neatly the plot captured so much about the world COVID left us with.  The way the world has become so divisive.  The growing power of these terrifying right-wing organisations with their guns and sense of superiority.  The fear of disease and attendant fear of other people.  The government's seeming unwillingness to do something before it was too late.

Like I said, did the author travel through time?

I enjoyed this book, even though I felt like it meandered a bit.  I didn't mind that though because it really captured the daily boredom of following something like this.  The doggedness of wanting to know what's going on, but being unable to make sense of any of it.  The way humanity can be at both its best and its worst simultaneously.

So I'd recommend it.  

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

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other "shepherds" who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them--and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them--the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart--or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Weekly Goals 14-8-23

 The film festival finished last night so my writing break is now over.  This week I want to get back into editing Guide Us. I think as a first step I need to read through what I've done to make sure it works, and then I may be able to figure out what needs to happen in those two extra chapters I have to write.  Hopefully, anyway...

So what were the last few days of the Festival like?  Great, actually!  

Subject: A fascinating documentary about documentary subjects.  The film focused on three or four people from relatively well known docos, diving into their experiences of making the films and the aftermath of having being a part of them.  At the same time the film dove into some questions of ethics and responsibility regarding the subjects.  It was really interesting and made me realise just how many docos I've seen over the years - there were only about three o four referenced in the film I hadn't seen!

Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret:  My colleague and I both grew up on Judy Blume books and when we saw that this was going to screen as part of the Festival, we jumped at the chance to see it.  Very sweet, very wholesome and very close to the original book.  Judy Blue even has a sneaky cameo as one of Margaret's New Jersey neighbours.  Enjoyed it very much. It was interesting to contrast this with Tiger Stripes that I saw earlier in the week.  Both about pubescent girls dealing with their changing bodies.  Both coming to the conclusion twelve-year-old girls are diabolical...

Theatre Camp: My inner high school theatre geek rose to the surface seeing this one.  It's a rockumentary about a summer camp for talented theatre kids.  When the camp founder winds up in a coma after an unfortunate school musical related accident, her son is forced to take on running the camp.  With no experience, this narcissistic, self proclaimed business entrepreneur looks set to run the camp into the ground.  But the loyal team who teach there, and the kids themselves, might just manage to save it.  Funny, sweet and so true to every theatre programme I've ever been to (and there were many... so, so many) I loved this one.

Fallen Leaves: A Finnish film from one of my favourite directors, Aki Kurismaki.  Like most of his films, the characters are largely deadpan and entirely understated as they navigate the often bleak world in which they live.  Yet somehow, amongst the job losses, poverty, heavy drinking and scrambling just to make ends meet, two characters find each other and fall in love.  The perfect way to end the festival!

Back to usual programming from here.  And now I'll finally be able to go and see Barbie and Oppenheimer (and Asteroid City).

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 11-8-23

 

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!  It has been a crazy week (again).  I should probably stop saying that since I think it's going to be nuts from now until the big Arts Festival finishes in mid-March next year.  

The Film Festival finishes this weekend and I have four films left to go to, all of which I am very much looking forward to.  Verdict to come on Monday...

And what have I seen this week?

Actually, not a whole lot.  As I mentioned, work has been very busy and I've had a couple of functions I've had to work on instead of going to films.  But I have seen two.

Kim's Video: A doco about an iconic video store in New York that closed when streaming took over.  This was no ordinary video store - its collection was huge and filled with stuff you couldn't find anywhere else.  So the owner wanted to find somewhere for the collection live and continue to be enjoyed.  There were a few options, but the best seemed to be a small town in Sicily that was looking to reinvent itself in the wake of an earthquake.  But when the filmmakers headed to Salerni to see what had become of the collection, things got weird.  And then even more weird.  This is exactly the kind of doco I love - a story so strange, it can only be true!

Tiger Stripes: A horror movie from Malaysia in which a pubescent girl basically turns into a demon when she gets her period.  Very enjoyable even if the premise is more truth than metaphor.  I mean, what teenage girl doesn't turn into a demon?  At least for a few months/years.

As I do every year, I'm going to miss the Festival, but it will be nice to get a few more of my evenings back to do other things.  I may even get back to work on revising Guide Us.  No, I will get back to revising Guide Us.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Books I've Read: Forget me Not





This was a sweet book.  I picked it up because of the Eternal Sunshine reference in the description.

Stevie and Nora are madly in love.  That kind of do or die love that only seems to happen when you're a teeneager.  They live in a small town where they don't feel like they can live their love out loud.  So as soon as graduation is behind them, they're planning to blow town and start their real lives in California.

But then Stevie has a fall and wakes up with no memory of the past two years.  She doesn't even know who Nora is, other than the girl who found her and got her to the hospital. 

Stuck in a world where she's living in memories of herself at fifteen, Stevie struggles to figure out who she'd become as she discovers she'd abandoned her long-time friends, become estranged from her parents and has a crush on the boy working at the diner.  None of this feels right to her, and the only person she's able to find comfort with is Nora, a stranger.

As Stevie struggles to reconcile her past and future selves, Nora has to face a world in which her true love has forgotten her and may never remember their love.  But as the pair spend more time together, the same spark ignites between them.  Will their love follow the same path this time?

I enjoyed this book because I'm fascinated by memory and its subjective nature and fragility. The idea of losing two years of life is terrifying, but also so intriguing.  Imagine being two years older, but having no idea what happened in those two years?

I enjoyed this, especially the way the two girls managed to reconnect, as if fate or some external force meant for them to be together.  And how differently they handled the relationship the second time around. 

So, I'd recommend this one.  It's not life changing, but it is certainly intriguing.

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

Perfect for fans of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Five Feet Apart , this tender solo debut by the coauthor of New York Times bestseller She Gets the Girl is a romantic ode to the strength of love and the power of choosing each other, against odds and obstacles, again and again.

What would you do if you forgot the love of your life ever even existed?

Stevie and Nora had a love. A secret, epic, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. They also had a to leave their small, ultra-conservative town and families behind after graduation and move to California, where they could finally stop hiding that love.

But then Stevie has a terrible fall. And when she comes to, she can remember nothing of the last two years—not California, not coming to terms with her sexuality, not even Nora. Suddenly, Stevie finds herself in a life she doesn’t quite understand, one where she’s estranged from her parents, drifting away from her friends, lying about the hours she works, dating a boy she can’t remember crushing on, and headed towards a future that isn’t at all what her fifteen-year-old self would have envisioned.

And Nora finds herself…forgotten. Can the two beat the odds a second time and find their way back together when “together” itself is just a lost memory?


Sunday, August 6, 2023

Weekly Goals 7-8-23

 The film festival is still going for another week, so I'm not setting myself any writing goals - I know I won't meet them!

So what have I seen since we last met?

Bad Behaviour: A New Zealand film made by Alice Englort (Jane Campion's daughter) about a mother and daughter reconnecting and the absurdity of wellness retreats.  It's not the easiest film and tonally it's a little all over the place, but Alice is definitely a filmmaker to watch as this is a very ambitious and promising debut.  

The Delinquents: An Argentinian film about the lowest key bank robbery in history.  My Festival low-light at this point.  A very long, tedious 3 hours after the promising set up.  The film seemed to lose sight of what story it was telling and ended up being almost incomprehensible.  Especially a long, drawn out flashback section that re-told part of the story we'd already seen in a different way.  Don't recommend...

Detour: A classic film noir from 1945 featuring possibly the most manipulative and obnoxious femme fatale of all time.  I thought I may have seen this before, and I definitely had, but it was certainly worth another look.  I just wish it had been a little longer and the ending didn't feel so tacked on and perfunctory.

Ennio: A wonderful documentary about Ennio Morricone, the film composer whose prolific career saw him create memorable scores for over 500 films - not just those Serio Leone Westerns he's best known for.  Directed by Giuseppe Tonatore whose Cinema Paradiso was scored by Morricone, this film was engrossing from start to finish and gave me a whole new appreciation for the art of scoring films.  Not to mention telling me a lot about Morricone as a man as well as a composer.  Recommend!

I have a pretty light week ahead due to work commitments, but have a busy final weekend ahead.  Will report back.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, August 4, 2023

Cover Reveal - My Murder Year

 It's that time....

I have a new book coming out on 6 October and I can finally reveal the cover to you!


Pretty isn't it?

But what is My Murder Year about?

Seventeen-year-old Stas Nonu has nothing more to worry about than looking like an oversized pumpkin in the bridesmaid dress her mother picked out for her wedding to her long-time partner, Mama K.  Her father’s newfound religious beliefs are annoying and starting to cramp her style, but nothing to be really concerned about.  Besides, Zane, the new guy she met at that party is way more interesting.

When Stas finds her mother’s dead body in a pool of blood, and evidence points to her father as the murderer, she realizes how uncomplicated things were before. 

Especially when two aunts she’s never met fly from her mother’s native Russia and start talking about her coming to live with them.  Then her father’s brother shows up with his own reasons for why Stas should live with him.

Unable to face the tug of war between her relatives, or the devastating effect it’s having on her beloved Mama K, Stas turns to Zane for comfort. But their increasing closeness is not enough to allow Stas to escape the reality of her fractured family.

If Stas can’t figure out a way to prove Mama K is as much her mother as the woman who gave birth to her, she might find herself banished to Siberia.  Or somewhere even worse.

My Murder Year will be out on 6 October and is available for pre-order now!

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 4-8-23

 

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 really, really busy week at work, and I've had films to go to almost every night too.  

The Film Festival has been pretty good so far although I haven't seen anything absolutely life changing yet.  But there are still more films left!

So what have I seen since we last met?

I Like Movies: a really sweet Canadian film about a kid who really, really likes movies and what happens when he gets a job at the local video store.  I suspect I was a little bit like this kid myself as a teen...  

I Am Alfred Hitchcock: A doco about Hitch by Mark Cousins.  It purported to be in Hitchcock's own words, but obviously wasn't.  The guy whose voice narrated it was a little annoying and the whole film was a little too long for me, but it was an interesting way to look at the master's films across six themes.  The dude was prolific, that's for sure!  I thought I'd seen a lot of Hitchcock films, but there was stuff referenced there I'd never even heard of.

Perfect Days: My favourite film of the Festival so far.  A very quiet film by Wim Wenders (whose films I've loved for decades) about a toilet cleaner in Tokyo and the very small moment that make up his life.  I have a reverence for those little, everyday moments and this was an entire film made up of them as well as showing how even small changes to to routine can be major life events.

More on Monday. I'm seeing four more over the weekend.

What are you celebrating this week?

Oh!  And come back tomorrow.  I'll be revealing the cover of my new book!













Tuesday, August 1, 2023

IWSG August

 It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group!

The awesome co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Kate Larkindale (that's me!!!), Diane Burton, Janet Alcorn, and Shannon Lawrence!

This month's question is a goodie!

Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

This is something that often happens to me.  Because I don't plot my stories much, my characters lead the way as I write and they often do or say things that when I go back and read the book, maybe don't sit quite right with me for some reason.  For example, in Standing Too Close, my 17-year-old protagonist has a sexual relationship with a much older woman.  I didn't plan it that way, but as I wrote the story, it happened.  And it made me uncomfortable, especially since she was a teacher.

I thought about re-writing that section of the book to take that aspect out of the story, but it didn't really work.  As an abused kid, my MC has a lot of confused ideas about love and intimacy and what all those things mean, and a big part of his journey toward adulthood is learning the difference.  Without that section of the book, the rest of his growth as a character just didn't work. So I've left it in.  For now.  Who knows what might happen if this book ever gets picked up for publication...

I was conflicted about so many things when I wrote Stumped.  A book about teenage sex and disability? The entire concept is controversial and there was no way I could shy away from things that might make readers uncomfortable.  There's one scene in particular that's so outrageous I really wasn't sure I could keep it in the book without losing readers. But it was so in character for my protagonist, Ozzy, that I just had to leave it in! So I did.  And strangely, it's not the scene that most people comment on.

But there are other things I have taken out of books because I felt conflicted by them.  When I wrote An Unstill Life, my first few drafts had a very different family dynamic with a lot of the things that Livvie ended up doing herself being done by an older brother.  I loved him as a character, but his presence in the story was a barrier for the other characters, so I reluctantly wrote him out, even though I was conflicted about whether this was the right choice.  And the book is better for it.  I just wish I'd found another story for him because he really was a great character. Maybe someday...

Overall, I think there are always going to be things you write that you're conflicted about.  But as long as whatever they are, they're consistent with the characters you've written, I think you owe your character the right to do them.  Especially if they're important to the character's arc.  Even though Blue and Jude's relationship in Standing Too Close still makes me feel uncomfortable, I know it's a part of the man he becomes, and that without that, he wouldn't make some of the more mature decisions he makes later in the book.

How do you deal with things you write that make you feel conflicted?


Sunday, July 30, 2023

Weekly Goals 31-7-23

 The film festival is on so I'm not going to set myself any writing goals this week - I know I won't hit them.

So far the Festival has been okay.  I haven't seen anything I'd rave about, but I have enjoyed everything I've seen:

 All That Heaven Allowed, a documentary about Rock Hudson.  It was good, but I felt that the ending laboured its point too much.  I did enjoy the way the filmmakers cut in scenes and lines from his films that, in the context, could be interpreted in an entirely different way than I'm sure the writers intended!

Carmen, the directorial debut of dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied. This was an odd film that was part romance, part tense border-crossing drama, part ghost story and part musical.  It didn't work 100%, but the performances were excellent and the dancing sensational.

L’immensitร , an Italian film about the breakdown of a marriage told through the eyes of a twelve-year-old gender questioning child.  It was a little slow at ties, but the kids were fantastic performers and Penelope Cruz was great in the role of the mother struggling to find moments of joy in a loveless marriage.

More to come this week.  I'm hoping for at least a couple of really life-changing films in what's yet to come.


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 28-7-23

 

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

What am I celebrating this week?

I had a wonderful vacation.  It was definitely too short, but also definitely better than nothing.  Samoa is beautiful.  Much busier than I remember from the early '80s, and with far better roads.  It's also much bigger than I remember.  I don't recall it taking an hour or so to get to the airport, but it does.  I don't remember the drive across the island to the beaches being so long, or the drive to Piula being so far.

I also think there was only a single Chinese restaurant and that was the only option for a meal out other than going to a hotel.  Not the case anymore!  There are lots of restaurants and cafes and the food was surprisingly good.  Just not a lot of vegetables.  Check out the size of the lobster I ate at the Island Grill!  At home that would probably have cost $200 or so.  In Samoa it was the equivalent of about $35.


I was with a friend who had also lived in Samoa as a kid, just a little while before me, so we did a lot of looking around at places we remembered.  I saw my old house and my old school (which is now the archive for the ministry of education) and we saw the school where my mother taught.  We couldn't go in there because it was holidays and locked up.  We also couldn't go to the beach my family used to go to almost every weekend because it was closed off for pre-production on a TV series.  This was also the reason we weren't allowed to go to the beach next to my family's favourite which was annoying.

We did get to go swimming in a couple of extraordinary marine reserves.  One is a place where they're cultivating giant clams which was quite extraordinary.  Those clams are truly giant!  They're the size of sheep and have lips in all colours of the rainbow.  There were only four or five clams that size, but hundreds of smaller ones which will hopefully grow up to be giant.



We also snorkled at Palolo Deep which is ridiculously close to the port.  It's where the seabed was dredged to create reclaimed land on Apia's waterfront and is now a reserve.  The most beautiful coral has grown back in the trench and there were more fish than you could ever imagine and in every colour of the rainbow.  There were a few places where we were so surrounded by Damselfish it was like being in a snowstorm.  Those little fish came up and basically kissed my mask.  It was amazing!

On Friday night we went to Bingo at our neighbours church.  Bingo is the only church sanctioned gambling in Samoa and is taken very seriously.  This particular Bingo was to benefit the church's youth group and Celine, who invited us, explained that she had to play.  If someone from the family doesn't show up each week, they have to pay the church 60 tala.  I've never really played Bingo in English before, so you'd better believe it was difficult in Samoan!  I was really dredging the back of my brain to remember my numbers.  And it all went so fast!  Suffice to say, I didn't win...


We stayed at a resort one night to see how the other half live.  And also because we had to pick up my friend's other friends who were arriving the next day.  The resort we picked was close to the airport, but when we got there, the room they'd given us was not at all what we'd asked for.  Thankfully they were willing to refund us and we managed to get into another resort down the road.  The amazing power of a sob story...  And yes, we did lounge by the pool.


We also went and saw the To Sua Trench.  This wasn't open to the public when I lived in Samoa as a kid, so it was a whole new experience for me.  I didn't go down the ladder to swim in the pool because it was raining and everything was super slippery.  The photo probably doesn't do it justice, but the water here is 30m deep and crystal clear.  It's quite beautiful.


And there you go!  Highlights from my holiday.  I also caught up with some people I knew in Samoa 41 years ago, which was probably the best thing.  So odd to see these children all grown up!  Everyone was so friendly and so nice, which was also very different.  Back when I was a kid people were pretty rude to palagis (white people), but everyone was very helpful and very nice, even when telling us we couldn't go where we wanted to go.  And so interested in the fact we'd come back to Samoa after so long.

I'll definitely go back again.  I can't actually believe I left it so long, given how close Samoa is to New Zealand.


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

I'm baaaaacck

 Just a quick note to let you know I'm back, alive and well.  Just swamped at work catching up after a week away.

Will write a longer post on Friday to tell you about my adventures in Samoa.

For now, I'll just leave you with this picture I took just before I left...  I wish I could say every day was like this, but unfortunately that was not the case.  It rained a lot, but because it was so warm, the rain was not really a problem.

Unlike here where this morning it was 6 degrees and the rain was drilling me horizontally in the southerly wind.

*sigh*




Friday, July 14, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 14-7-23

 


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!  A long weekend.  And then I go on vacation.

When I planned my vacation I didn't realize Friday was Matariki (the Mฤori New Year) and therefore a long weekend, but how good it that?  So this weekend I plan to really put my head down and work on Guide Us.  I would love to have this revision entirely finished before I go so I can come back with fresh eyes and polish it up.  I was pretty positive I'd be able to do that, but I had one of those annoying revelations that an entire chapter I added recently was wrong and I have to go back and make that chapter into something else to make the next part of the story make sense.  Or move a major event elsewhere, which could also work, but will require lots of other changes to make it fit.

So, that's my long weekend.  Along with getting ready to leave the country on Monday.  It's been ten years since I went overseas (which seems insane considering how much travelling I did prior to that) and I'm hoping I remember how to travel!

So the blog will be dark next week.  I'll be back after 25 July with some stories from Samoa.

Have a great week!


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Books I''ve Read: The Gifted Son




Set in Sydney, this multi-POV book tells the story of a family fracturing after a single punch lands the youngest child in hospital with a spinal injury.  

On the last day of high school, Jamie is in good spirits, looking forward to a summer of surfing with his mates.  But a prank gone wrong leads him to the hospital instead, with a spinal injury that means it's unlikely he'll ever walk again.

As Jamie struggles to overcome the pain and come to terms with a very different future than the one he expected for himself, his family strains at the seams, possibly unable to survive the strain this stroke of bad luck has set in motion.

Mother Lillian is fiercely protective of her baby.  She's certain that positive thinking will bring a miracle.  She starts clipping stories out of magazines and newspapers about miracles and manages to convince herself and Jamie that the one common theme all these people have is their goodness.  Soon mother and son are throwing themselves into acts of service, certain they will be the thing to turn the tide and allow Jamie to walk again.

Meanwhile, Lillian's husband John is struggling with the failure of his business.  Things have been bad for months and he hasn't been drawing a salary for some time.  As time stretches out and he still hasn't told Lillian the truth about their finances, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell her.  The only glimmer of hope comes from a temp receptionist who seems to know a lot more about websites and design than someone in her position should.

And then there's Jamie's older sister, Kate, a driven businesswoman whose focus on her career has left little time for her to spend with Jamie.  After the accident she's wracked with guilt over this and throws herself at figuring out exactly what happened, who really was behind the punch that injured her baby brother.  She's sure Jamie's best friend Jez is lying, but she can't figure out why.

And then there's Jez, tortured by the truth he knows but can't speak up about after lying to the police about what actually happened that day.

I enjoyed this one to a point even though I found the family incredibly frustrating to spend time with.  So many of the problems they faced could have been solved if they just spoke to each other more honestly.  Or even at all.  I know an event like this is traumatic and just compounds existing stresses, but John really should have shared the financial difficulties with his wife.  If she'd known, she would not have been spending with such abandon, as if by throwing money at causes she could buy a cure for Jamie.

And Jamie never really came alive for me.  He didn't have much personality on the page, so it was difficult to care too much about him.  Considering he was supposed to eb the focus of the book, he never felt like a real human being in the same way his parents or even Jez did.

So I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend this one.  It's an easy read, and certainly not a terrible book.  It's just not quite as enjoyable as I'd hoped it might be.

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

A Sydney family's picture-perfect life is upended in an unputdownable new novel from the bestselling author of The Mothers.

What if the worst day of your life is the making of you?

With two bright children, a beautiful home and a husband she's always depended on, Lillian Hogarth considers herself blessed. Until, on her son Jamie's final day of high school, he fails to come home. Hospitalised by a coward's punch, Jamie has been the victim of a muck-up day celebration that went too far.

Lillian's support is unflinching, even as her world begins to crumble. A son whose fate hangs in the balance, a teenage witness who refuses to name the one who threw the punch, and a husband who's hiding a secret that could destroy their marriage . . .

Is this the end of the Hogarth family's good luck? Or will Jamie's determination-and Lillian's love-be the making of them?

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Weekly Goals 10-7-23

 I managed to get another chunk of work done on Guide Us yesterday and added a chapter and a bit.  I keep forgetting that every time I decide I need a new bit I have to write two chapters, not just one to make the dual POV work (or find a place to add it in an existing chapter or chapters).  But I'm pretty happy with what I've done and the progress I've made.  With a 3-day weekend before I head to Samoa, I think I'll manage to get through a lot of what I want to get done.

So my goal this week is to try and finish the first pass at these revisions so I can let them rest while I'm on holiday and film festivalling.  Then I'll come back to them in August and hopefully finish up the whole thing.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, July 7, 2023

Celebrate the small Things 7-7-23

 


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 have a few things I have to do this weekend, so I'm not going to be able to spend as much time on Guide Us as I did last week, but I have put a big chunk of Sunday afternoon aside to work on it.  I think I have two or three new scenes I need to add (and figure out where to add them) and a few more little things to smooth things out.  Next weekend is a long one because of the Matariki public holiday on Friday, so I'm hoping to get the first draft of my revisions done then.

It has been a busy week at work and next week is where the insanity really begins.  Especially since I'm away on holiday the following week.  Much needed though!  Especially since the Film Festival starts the week I get back.  I've booked my tickets (only 16 films - I was super restrained) and am expecting a busy, busy couple of weeks post-holiday.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

IWSG July

 


The awesome co-hosts for the July 5 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, Gwen Gardner, Pat Garcia, and Natalie Aguirre!

This month's question is an interesting one - and one every writer gets asked all the time!

99% of my story ideas come from dreams. Where do yours predominantly come from?

There is no one place I get my ideas.  And I don't think I've ever started a story based on a dream, but I certainly have dreamed in the worlds of my books.  Once I even dreamed in one of my character's heads. That was a weird one!

But ideas can come from anywhere.  An Unstill Life came from a newspaper article I read about a school forbidding same sex couples from attending the leavers' ball.  Stumped came from meeting the subject of a documentary I screened at one of the cinemas I ran. The Sidewalk's Regrets also came from a documentary, this one about a musician friend of mine.  There was one line someone said that sparked the book, but later, I couldn't find the line again. 

Chasing the Taillights started off as an adult book about something very different, but when I started writing it, I found that I needed to explore why these two characters had the relationship they did and I ended up writing about them 15 years earlier instead.  One day I might go back and actually write the book I initially planned to write...

The book I'm working on now is a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet (very loosely, and I mean really, really loosely now), but also has parts that were inspired by a song.  And the book I wrote before this one was  sparked by a song (and by re-reading Lolita about 20 years after I first read it).  The one I have coming out this year (My Murder Year) was sparked by the political opposition to same-sex marriage.  Which makes me think I wrote the first draft of that one a really long time ago!

Often I'll read something or see something or hear something and some part of it hooks in my brain.  It will rattle around in there for a while, sometimes bumping into some other random idea trapped there, and when I'm lucky, these ideas colliding will become the beginning of a story.  Other times they just fizzle out along the way.

Sometimes the idea isn't big enough to be a whole book, so I write a short story instead.  And there have been occasions where that short story has been the starting point for a book.  But that doesn't happen that often.  Usually those ideas are smaller and perfectly suited for a short story.

I'm always fascinated to find out how other people get their ideas, so please, share in the comments!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Weekly Goals 3-7-23

I got a lot of work done on Guide Us over the weekend and there are now four new or part new chapters in the first part of the book.  I've also managed to join the new stuff up with what I had before pretty well, I think.  There are a few more changes I need to make later in the book, and possibly another new scene or two, but I think the really big stuff is done now.  I just need to do a bit of tweaking and changing to make the new stuff I've written bed in properly.

I think I'm on track to finish this work before I go away.  Especially since there's a public holiday before I leave.

So this week my goal is just to keep up the momentum and keep going on it.  I know I'm busier next weekend, so finding a few hours to do the work is important, both next weekend and during the week.

What are your goals this week?

 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 30-6-23





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 have very little planned, which is fantastic!  Plus my partner is away until Sunday night, so I have the house (mostly) to myself.  Which works well for me because I want to get some serious work done on Guide Us. In fact, I'm hoping to get the bulk of the big stuff nailed this weekend.  Then I'll just have to go through and add little bits and pieces here and there to make the new parts I've written fit organically.

Not sure I'll get that much done, but it's worth a shot, right?

I'm going to a show tonight, which I'm looking forward to even though I don't 100% love the musical.  A friend of mine is in it, and I imagine he'll be amazing!  So I'm still looking forward to it.

It's been such a busy week at work, I haven't had a chance to do much of anything else, so little room for celebration.

What are you celebrating this week?






Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Books I've Read; Always the Almost



This is one of those books I enjoyed while I read it, but had some problems with afterward, when I thought about it a bit more.  I'm always quite intrigued by books like that!

Mile is sixteen, a virtuoso classical pianist, and recently came out as trans.  So recently he still hopes he can win back his boyfriend, Shane, who broke up with him when he came out as a guy.  He still has a long way to go to figure out exactly who he is, something that is brought into the light even more when he starts working with a new piano teacher who tells him he plays like he's unsure who he is.

Miles's plans go awry when he meets the new guy in school, an artist, Eric, who has recently transferred from Seattle.  Eric is comfortable in his queer skin in a way Miles isn't, and is comfortable with giving Miles whatever space he needs.  Despite trying not to have feelings for him - who has time for that on top of everything else? - Miles finds himself increasingly attracted to Eric.  When they fake dating to get invited to the hottest Valentine's Day party, things begin to get real.

I liked how insecure Miles was and how honestly the author captured that feeling of never being quite enough.  It made some of the less-stellar things Miles did in the course of the book understandable, if not excusable.  Miles is quite self-centred even though he isn't certain who that self is.  And he does some selfish things because of this.  Selfish things that hurt people around him.  

I really enjoyed the scenes at the piano competitions and seeing how much work and dedication goes into being that good as a musician.  And how cut-throat things can get behind the scenes.  

This is not a perfect book and some readers will have a bigger issue with some of Miles's behaviour than I did.  I'm of the mindset that teenagers do stupid stuff without thinking about the consequences and portraying them as such is realistic, but I know other readers are not quite so forgiving.

But overall, this felt like a really realistic representation of someone still growing into their skin and figuring out who they are and where they fit into the world.  So I'd recommend it.

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

Sixteen-year-old trans boy Miles Jacobson has two New Year’s resolutions: 1) win back his ex-boyfriend (and star of the football team) Shane McIntyre, and 2) finally beat his slimy arch-nemesis at the Midwest’s biggest classical piano competition. But that’s not going to be so easy. For one thing, Shane broke up with Miles two weeks after Miles came out as trans, and now Shane’s stubbornly ignoring him, even when they literally bump into each other. Plus, Miles’ new, slightly terrifying piano teacher keeps telling him that he’s playing like he “doesn’t know who he is”—whatever that means.

Then Miles meets the new boy in town, Eric Mendez, a proudly queer cartoonist from Seattle who asks his pronouns, cares about art as much as he does—and makes his stomach flutter. Not what he needs to be focusing on right now. But after Eric and Miles pretend to date so they can score an invite to a couples-only Valentine’s party, the ruse turns real with a kiss, which is also definitely not in the plan. If only Miles could figure out why Eric likes him so much. After all, it's not like he’s cool or confident or comfortable in his own skin. He’s not even good enough at piano to get his fellow competitors to respect him, especially now, as Miles. Nothing’s ever been as easy for him as for other people—other boys. He’s only ever been almost enough.

So why, when he’s with Eric, does it feel like the only person he’s ever really not been enough for...is himself?