Sunday, April 30, 2023

Weekly Goals 1-5-23

It's the first day of May, if you can believe it.  My birthday month.  And it's one of those scary big birthdays with a zero on the end of it.

This week I don't actually have much in the way of goals.  I'm waiting on the editor to give me feedback on Guide Us and kind of tinkering away at various other manuscripts I have at different stages of done-ness.  Plus working on a little story that is 100% just for me.

It's going to be a full 5-day work week for me this week (the horror) and I have a lot of stuff on as well as work.  I think I'm only going to be home one or two nights this week.  And one of those is because I'm skipping Film Society tonight because I've seen the film a bunch of times.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 28-4-22


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Well, it's the weekend!  Which I know is a little crazy to celebrate since I've had a three-day work week, but I still am.  It's been a pretty intense three days...

And I got to see the cover art for my new book.  It's pretty amazing, people!  I'll share it as soon as I'm allowed.

I got the MS of Guide Us whipped into shape and sent off to the editor, so I'm excited to see what she has to say about it.  It's on the short side for one of my books, so I feel like I have room to add 15-20K if need be.  But I'm not 100% sure it needs a whole lot added.  Maybe only a couple of chapters.  But we shall see what she says.

And I think that's it for celebrations.  What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Books I've read: The Lost Girls


This one was a ton of fun.  If you know me at all, you'll know I'm a huge fan of vampires and have been since I discovered Anne Rice as a teenager.  Not such a fan of Twilight though...  Those vampires just didn't do it for me. Or maybe it was just the writing.  Anyhooo.  This one was kind of a hoot and turned all kinds of vampire lore on its head.

Holly has been a 16-year-old vampire for over 30 years and has the unfortunate crimped hairstyle to prove it.  Living in her hometown again after being dragged around the country by her maker's whims, she's surviving by working part time at Taco Bell, the only job a teenage vampire can really get.  She's not enjoying life and hasn't much from the start even though she did enjoy being the apple of her maker's eye for a time.

When she meets two of her maker's older paramours who have been just a cruelly discarded in favour of newer models, the trio plan to get their revenge on Elton before he has the chance to turn another girl.  The problem is, to actually kill their maker, they need some things that are not going to be easy to get.

Not to mention, the girl Elton has his sights on just might be the kind of girl Holly could fall in love with...

I really enjoyed this book.  It was incredibly violent in places, but because these vampires heal like lightning, the ripping off of limbs and breaking necks had little effect on them and played out like cartoon violence.  I would have liked to have seen more of Elton to understand the pull he has on these girls - his compelling nature was all hearsay here, and it would have been nice to have some firsthand experience of his thrall.

I did have a few questions about how a town this small could sustain this number of vampires without the entire community being hysterical about serial killers on the loose, but that was a small niggle...  Mostly this was a fun twist on vampire lore with a bunch of spunky undead girls kicking ass and taking names.

So I'd recommend.  Just be wary if you're a bit squeamish about decapitations and the like.

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

Sonia Hartl’s The Lost Girls is laced with dark humor and queer love; it’s John Tucker Must Die with a feminist girl gang of vampires.

When Elton Irving turned Holly Liddell into a vampire in 1987, he promised her eternal love. But thirty-four years later, Elton has left her, her hair will be crimped for the rest of immortality, and the only job she can get as a forever-sixteen-year-old is the midnight shift at Taco Bell.

Holly’s afterlife takes an interesting turn when she meets Rose McKay and Ida Ripley. Having also been turned and discarded by Elton—Rose in 1954, and Ida, his ex-fiancΓ©e, in 1921—they want to help her, and ask for her help in return.

Rose and Ida are going to kill Elton before he turns another girl. Though Holly is hurt and angry with Elton for tossing her aside, she’s reluctant to kill her ex, until Holly meets Parker Kerr—the new girl Elton has set his sights on—and feels a quick, and nerve-wracking attraction to her.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Weekly Goals 24-4-23

 My main goal this week is to get Guide Us into as good a position as possible before I send it off to the editor I'm going to work with.  So today I'm going to spend the day at the library working on it and making sure it's as good as I can get it on my own.  I'm sure the editor will have tons of suggestions too,  but I figure if I can get it to a place where I'm happy, then that's a good start.

Other than that, I have a big project at work I'm trying to finish but I'm being held up by a company who just won't answer my questions and keeps promising call-backs which never come.  So my goal this week is to get some actual answers out of these people so I can move forward.

And that's about it.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, April 21, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 21-4-23


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Four day weekend!

Yes, it's a public holiday on Tuesday, so I've taken Monday off to give myself a four-day weekend.  Feels very luxurious even though the weather looks like it's going to be a bit iffy and I have very little actually planned to do over that time.  I'm hoping to have a writing day at the library on Monday to try and finish up my read through and tweak of Guide Us ahead of sending it off to the editor I'm going to work with.

I'm also going to go to the movies on Sunday evening.  I haven't been for a couple of weeks because there just hasn't been much on I wanted to see.

I've managed to keep up with writing daily flash fiction stories most of this week, so am feeling pretty good about that.  Some weeks I'm better than others, but a lot of it depends on how inspired I feel by the prompts and this week there have been some goodies!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Books I've Read: Idol

This one was kind of like watching a train wreck unfold in slow motion. I never really warmed to the main character, yet somehow I couldn't look away (or put the book down) as her actions became increasingly bizarre and destructive.  Having seen so many peoples' lives unravel under the scrutiny of social media, this feel eerily real to me.

Samantha is an influencer whose books have sold well enough that she's created a kind of empire out of supporting and championing young women.  Her live events are instant sell-outs and her new book skyrockets to the top of the best-seller list as soon as it's published.  Riding on this wave of success, Samantha publishes an essay in which she outlines the story of her true sexual awakening with her best friend Lisa, and of course, it goes viral.

But Lisa doesn't remember the events the same way Sam does, and reaches out to Sam's manager with her side of the story.  Having not spoken to her bestie in years, Sam is suddenly forced to face the truth about her past, her friendship with Lisa and the way these events have affected the person she has become.

This is a book that asks a lot of questions about stories, memory and consent as well as how difficult it is to stay on top when the world is really just waiting for you to fall.  It's about the power of influencers and the even  greater power of social media to totally discredit a person and ruin a career basically overnight.

Samantha is kind of an obnoxious protagonist and I found myself cringing at her actions several times through the book.  But at the same time, the way the world turns on her without any hard evidence that she deserves to be cancelled is telling.  People are far too willing to believe things they read online, and don't tend to dig into them deeply enough before taking sides and actions that can destroy a person's livelihood and possibly their sanity.  It's also about the personas people can build for themselves online and the way these can be versions of the authentic person behind the profile, but also selective about which truths are revealed and which remain under wraps.

I'm not sure I really enjoyed the book, but it was certainly a compelling read and kept me turning the pages until I'd finished it.  And while I've never been a huge fan of social media, this book has made me even less of a fan and determined to do whatever I need to do to ensure my life and career don't get destroyed in the way Samantha's was.

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

For Samantha Miller's young fans - her 'girls' - she's everything they want to be. She's an oracle, telling them how to live their lives, how to be happy, how to find and honour their 'truth'.

And her career is booming: she's just hit three million followers, her new book Chaste has gone straight to the top of the bestseller lists and she's appearing at sell-out events.

Determined to speak her truth and bare all to her adoring fans, she's written an essay about her sexual awakening as a teenager, with her female best friend, Lisa. She's never told a soul but now she's telling the world. The essay goes viral.

But then - years since they last spoke - Lisa gets in touch to say that she doesn't remember it that way at all. Her memory of that night is far darker. It's Sam's word against Lisa's - so who gets to tell the story? Whose 'truth' is really a lie?

'You put yourself on that pedestal, Samantha. You only have yourself to blame.'

Riveting, compulsive and bold, IDOL interrogates our relationship with our heroes and explores the world of online influencers, asking how well we can ever really know those whose carefully curated profiles we follow online. And it asks us to consider how two memories of the same event can differ, and how effortlessly we choose which stories to believe.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Weekly Goals 17-4-23

 Well, that weekend went by in a flash!  How can it be Monday again already?  That's just not fair.

Okay, goals for this week?  I got some great feedback on Guide Us from an editor and I'm hoping to work more closely with her to get the MS into tip-top condition before I start querying.  I should be getting paid for my anthology story soon, so I'm going to invest that money into working with this professional editor.  It's not something I've been able to afford to do before.

Other than that, I don't have a ton of goals for this week.  I have a project I've been working on at work that will need to kick off on Friday, so I'll be prepping for that through the rest of the week.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, April 14, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 14-4-23

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 know it's been a short week, but somehow it seemed really, really looooooong.  So I'm glad it's the weekend again.

Not that I have a huge amount planned for the weekend.  Just the usual chores and stuff.  Plus a party on Saturday night, which I'm looking forward to.  It's been a long time since I went to a party.

But that's about it for celebrating for me this week.  What are you celebrating?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Books I've read: Made of Stars


I won a copy of this one in a contest and I didn't have anything else to read, so I decided to give it a go even thought it's really not my kind of book at all...

Set in a different world where people travel between planes and solar systems by spaceship, the book is loosely based on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde.  Shane and Ava come from the underprivileged part of their homme planet, a freezing, desolate place where the privileged live beneath a climate-controlled dome.  Both are desperate to escape their drab, deprived lives and when they team up, their skills complement each other and they are soon darting through the universe, taking what they need when they need it.

Until Shane gets caught and is imprisoned on a remote moon.  The book begins with Ava busting him out of prison, furious and determined never to be locked up again.  And determined to pull off their biggest job yet.

Cyrus is a flight-school graduate with a secure job lined up working for a respected general.  Determined to succeed in this role, he's furious when his partner falls for Ava's scam on their very first outing as a team. 

When Shane uncovers the detail of secret government plot to destroy his home planet, he is determined to stop them, whatever the cost.  With a price on their heads and each new heist generating headlines across the universe, Shane and Ava are running out of time and people to trust.

Cyrus finds himself caught between two versions of the truth as he both pursues the rebels and helps them on their mission.  If he doesn't choose a side, it's possible he'll lose everything he's worked for up until now.

I found this book quite confusing.  Ostensibly Shane and Ava are the heroes and protagonists, and Cyrus the antagonist.  In reality, this isn't really the case.  In many ways it's more a story about Cyrus than it is about our outlaw heroes. It felt like the author may have fallen in love with this character and allowed him to take over the story.

Given this book is set in a different universe, there was not a lot of world building and I struggled to understand the political and economic systems.  This would not have been a big issue other than the fact the entire plot hinges on a government plot and without understanding the way the rulers/governors of each territory related to one another, it was difficult to figure out exactly who was an ally and who was an enemy.

But all this might just be me, as a reader.  I'm not a fan of this kind of space opera and it maybe I just haven't read enough of it to understand the conventions and tropes.  It may be right up your alley if you love adventures set in remote universes.

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

Inspired by the lawless love story of Bonnie and Clyde, Jenna Voris's heart-stopping tale of passion and crime will have you seeing stars.

Shane and Ava are a team. He steals the aircraft, she charms their mark, and together they take what they need. Not even their distracting chemistry could get in the way. Until Shane was caught and left to rot on a prison moon. Now, freshly escaped from confinement and simmering with anger, he has his sights set on their biggest job yet.

Cyrus just graduated from the flight academy with a shiny new position lined up reporting to a well-respected general. On his very first assignment, he stops the outlaws in their tracks--or, he would have, if the annoyingly handsome Lark hadn't fallen for Ava's deception.

But when Shane uncovers a top-secret plot that would leave his home world at the mercy of Cyrus's military leaders, he makes it his mission to thwart them at all costs. It isn't long before Shane and Ava make interstellar headlines with each new heist. And thanks to a chance run-in with the rebels, Cyrus is caught between two versions of the truth. He must pick a side and fast. Because Shane and Ava will bring the planet to its knees...or die trying.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Weekly Goals 10-4-23

 I've slipped into vacation mode over this long weekend, so goal setting isn't high on my agenda.  The weather has been beautiful the last couple of days so I've been on a couple of long walks.  I don't think it's going to be so nice today, so I may actually sit down to try and finish my read through of Guide Us.

Then again, I might not...

With winter on its way and daylight saving finishing, my main goal at the moment is to figure out how I can keep my fitness up without riding my bike to and from work.  I can still go to the gym, of course, but that's just three times a week if I stick to my usual classes.  I really need to figure out something for the other days or all the gains I've made over the summer will be lost.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 7-4-23

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 it's a four-day weekend thanks to Easter!

So looking forward to having a few days off to actually catch up on my life.  Everything seems to have been moving very quickly this year and I feel like a need to catch my breath.

The anthology I have a story in has a publication date!  It will be out in the world in mid to late June.  I will look forward to sharing the cover with y'all in the near future!  It's the first time I've been published by a major publisher so I have great hopes that this book will have wider distribution than anything else I've published to date, and might be a stepping stone to something bigger.

Other than that, I don't have a lot of things to celebrate this week.  We found out on Wednesday that our Executive Director at work is leaving which is really sad.  She's moving on to a really fantastic role, so I'm thrilled about that, but still feeling mournful because she's the reason I decided to come and work here and she is just as amazing as I'd heard from others.  But on the plus side, we have an awesome team of people here and we will get through this period of change.

It's my sister's birthday on Sunday, so I guess I should celebrate that.  Or at least remember to email her or something.  She lives in the States so if I forget on the actual day, I have about 12 hours' grace to remember since my time zone is so far ahead of hers.

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

New Release: Proof of Existence by J Lenni Dorner

My friend J has a new book out today! Proof of Existence is book 2 in the Existence series that began with Proof of Existence.  Find out more about the book below.  And enter the giveaway!

Book 2 of the Existence series

By J Lenni Dorner

The main characters of the Existence series are omnipotent beings living in our world. (As the cover image suggests, several of them live in New York City. The Brooklyn Bridge is a part of two scenes in Proof of Existence.) Here's an unusual inclusion in Urban Fantasy: a recipe!

Jezebel (Jez) loves bread crust. It's one of her unusual quirks, as many people dislike those. In this scene, which is part of Chapter 9, her mom Jyotisha is making "Pinwheel Crust." I was inspired by a friend of mine who included cooking in her story as an action for a character. I hope you'll enjoy this short excerpt. And, if you make this treat, please upload a picture and tag me so I can see it. (My spouse prefers I stay out of the kitchen. You set two or three little fires…πŸ”₯πŸ‘©πŸ½‍πŸš’πŸ§―πŸ‘¨πŸ½‍πŸš’πŸš’.)

Check out J's Pinterest board for a variation with bacon.

World-ending secrets and threats…

Proof of Existence picks up from Fractions of Existence's cliffhanger, where Gwendolyn is among the hostages of the Eyes in the Shadows, a religious sect that has been trying to free humans from the “prison” of life on Earth for millennia. Rescuing her requires the Existence to expose themselves. As omnipotent beings, their work to protect humanity has been mostly in secret for the last two centuries.

Gwendolyn must remember and embrace what she truly is, though fear and doubt stifle her. She risked everything by acting on her attraction to Xavier, but her religious beliefs stop her from taking the important next step. Life-threatening news has her wanting to go home to see her family. Will they still love and accept her, despite her actions and choices? Or could a secret rip her family apart?

Feeling lonely, tormented, and useless, Existence member Heath goes off the grid. A ransom video from Eyes in the Shadows demands he be traded for the lives of others. Can the Existence find him in time to tell him about the threat? Even if Heath can be reached, would his kind really trade him to potentially save someone else?

The Eyes in the Shadows is set to finally end all human life on Earth forever. Only if the Existence is reunited, with all members at full power, could they stand against them. How many will suffer if the Existence should fail? How much damage could possibly be done in the next twenty years? Proof of Existence, the second book of the Existence mythological urban fantasy series from J Lenni Dorner, is set during the first half of 2006.

J Lenni Dorner is best known for the Existence book series. Book one, Fractions of Existence, and book two, Proof of Existence, are on Amazon. Author of the short story, Lumber Of The Kuweakunks, on Smashwords. Also known for the writer's reference books, Preparing to Write Settings that Feel Like Characters and Writing Book Reviews As An Author: Inspiration To Make It Easier.

J is part of the Operation Awesome Team, where he runs the Debut Author Spotlight on most Wednesdays. J is an April Blogging from A to Z #AtoZchallenge international bloghop co-host.

(he/him πŸ‘¨πŸ½ or πŸ§‘πŸ½ they/them) ~ Speculative Fiction & Reference Author, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, and Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge 

Buy it here.
Add to your TBR here.

Glimpse it here.
Enter the Giveaway here!

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

IWSG - April

It's the first Wednesday in April (already!!!) so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. 

Big shout out to the awesome co-hosts for the April 5 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Nancy Gideon, and Natalie Aguirre!

And here's this month's question:

Do you remember writing your first book? What were your thoughts about a career path on writing? Where are you now and how is it working out for you? If you're at the start of the journey, what are your goals?

Gah! This is making me dig back into the dim, distant past. I think I was about 13 when I wrote my first book. It wasn't great, believe me. But I still have that book somewhere and the story I wrote is one I've gone back to a number of times. It was loosely based on something that happened to a friend of mine a couple of years earlier, and as I've grown older and have a different perspective on the events, I've gone back to that story and those characters over an over.

I don't think I'll ever publish that particular novel, even if I re-write it again sometime, but it certainly taught me how to write a book and that I actually could do it. By the time I was 20 I'd written three more, none of which have been published (and nor should they be), but I learned a lot from the process. And interestingly, every time I go back to look over those first, immature attempts at writing a novel, I'm surprised by how good some bits of them are. Mostly not, but there are scenes or phrases or characters in those early books that are as good as anything I've written since. So I keep them around in case I want to steal stuff out of them.

At the time I don't think I was thinking about having a career as a writer. Writing was something I just liked doing. And it's something I've always done. I had my first story published in the Kids Stuff pages of our local paper when I was six. As I grew up, writing wasn't really a cool thing to do, so it became something I did on my own but never really talked about. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I decide to come out of the closet as a writer, so to speak.

I've now written 16 novels (or possibly more; here may be a few I've forgotten buried somewhere in my hard drive or desk drawers). I have had four published, one is about to be published and I have another two out on submission as I write this. So, I guess things are going okay for me.

I'm obviously really proud of my published novels, and there are some of my unpublished ones I really love too. But I don't feel like I've actually achieved what I really wanted to achieve as a writer yet. I've had some wonderful reviews and some absolutely fantastic feedback from readers, and that's really the best thing for me as a writer. But it would be nice to have more sales, to be able to walk into a bookstore and find my book on the shelf. And it would be even better to earn enough from my writing to be able to do it full time, or even half time.

I keep telling myself I'm going to quit writing because the amount of effort I put in is definitely not reflected in the amount my royalty cheques bring in. Yes somehow, I keep writing. I keep sending those manuscripts out, hoping that this one might be the one to get a big-ass publishing contract, a Netflix series, an agent, something...

Persistence has to mean something, right?

What do you remember about writing your first book?

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Weekly Goals 3-4-23

 Can you believe it's already April?  The year is disappearing on me way too fast!

It's a short week this week with Easter, so work is going to be busy.  I have a couple of projects I need to get moving on if I'm going to meet the deadline, so that's going to be my priority this week.  

I'm just about halfway through my read-through of Guide Us. I'm going pretty slowly because I'm tweaking things here and there and sometimes a small change in one place means I need to go back and make small changes earlier on to fit.  But I hope to be done with it by the end of the long weekend so I can think about starting querying next week.   Yikes!

What are your goals this week?