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 himself?

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Weekly Goals 26-6-23

 I did some serious work on my book over the weekend and have added close to 5K already.  There are a few places where I'm not entirely sure how to link the new scenes I've added to what I had, but I've just left myself highlighted notes there and moved on to the next place I know I need new stuff.  I may need to add another chapter or two (the problem with a dual POV - getting to the next scene in one POV often means adding another chapter in the other POV), but because the timeline between some events in changing, I think I can do that.  I just need to think about what could happen in those chapters.

So my goal for this week is to get more work done on that.  I don't imagine I'll get the whole lot done (unless I can take a day off work and I don't think I'll be able to this week), but I hope I can get a big chunk of the new stuff written so I can go back through and smooth things out where the new stuff might feel clunky or not fit right in terms of voice.

That's the hardest thing about going back to this - finding those girls' voices again.  I've been working on a boy POV book and his voice and way of thinking is quite different, so finding my way back into Juliet and Iris's heads is challenging!

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 23-6-23


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!

I have put together a rough plan of what I need to do to Guide Us and am looking forward to diving in and making these changes.  I don't think it's going to be that easy - I'm changing the whole structure of the book in some ways, adding a whole bunch of new stuff, but I have around 20K to play with in terms of adding words, and I will probably find other things I need to cut too.  So that's my weekend.  Mostly, anyway.  My goal is to finish this work before I go to Samoa so I can let the book rest while I'm away, and I can come back to it with fresh eyes in August.

I feel like I've been saying I'll query this one all year, but I genuinely want to get onto that by the end of August.

An Until Life is on sale at the moment for .99c, so if you've wanted to read it and the full price was too high, well, here's your chance! Perfect Pride reading for the last week of Pride month.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Books I've Read: The Twilight World


Werner Herzog is a film director whose work is an insta-watch for me.  From his early work in the German New Wave, to his period of collaboration with Klaus Kinski, to his more recent documentaries, there is always something unique and compelling about his work.  Not to mention he has one of the coolest voices in the world!

I first heard about this book in an article I read somewhere where Herzog was being interviewed and mentioned this book.  So when I saw it in the library, I jumped on it.  It's a slim volume and a quick and easy read.

It's based on the story of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier posted on an island in the Philippines toward the end of WWII.  He was told he was on a covert mission and not to believe anyone except his commanding officer.  Undercover and deep in the jungle when the war ended, he never knew it was over.  He remained on the island, defending it against enemies until the 1970s.  Attempts were made to inform him that he could leave his post, but he dismissed them as enemy propaganda.

Given the eccentric characters Herzog's work has explored in the past, it's not surprise he'd be drawn to this figure.  And in this book, Herzog takes the real Onoda, who he met and spoke to many times, and imagines what all those years were like for him.

Some of the book is incredibly compelling, but it doesn't entirely work.  It's almost like Herzog can't help taking a step back behind the camera to observe Onoda rather than delving under his skin to find out what really makes him tick.

There is also a framing device in which Herzog inserts himself into the story - not a bad thing in itself, but in this situation is further distances the reader from the subject.  But overall, I enjoyed this story.  It's somewhat fantastic, but through Onoda's eyes, it starts to make sense.  Especially given the location of the island.  One of the reasons he never believed the war was over is because of the amount of US traffic in the area because of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  If you don't know, you don't know...

I enjoyed reading this book, but it did frustrate me a little.  I wanted it to dig deeper under Onoda's skin and really show me what was going on in his head.  This did a little of that, but too often stepped back and observed.  And it was so short, it didn't really give enough time to a 30-year story, focusing instead on individual incidents - probably because the majority of the time Onoda spent must have been incredibly mundane.

But I'd still recommend it just because it's such an odd little story and so much the kind of character Herzog has explored throughout his career.

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

The great filmmaker Werner Herzog, in his first novel, tells the incredible story of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who defended a small island in the Philippines for twenty-nine years after the end of World War II

In 1997, Werner Herzog was in Tokyo to direct an opera. His hosts asked him, Whom would you like to meet? He replied instantly: Hiroo Onoda. Onoda was a former solider famous for having quixotically defended an island in the Philippines for decades after World War II, unaware the fighting was over. Herzog and Onoda developed an instant rapport and would meet many times, talking for hours and together unraveling the story of Onoda's long war.

At the end of 1944, on Lubang Island in the Philippines, with Japanese troops about to withdraw, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was given orders by his superior officer: Hold the island until the Imperial army's return. You are to defend its territory by guerrilla tactics, at all costs. . . . There is only one rule. You are forbidden to die by your own hand. In the event of your capture by the enemy, you are to give them all the misleading information you can. So began Onoda's long campaign, during which he became fluent in the hidden language of the jungle. Soon weeks turned into months, months into years, and years into decades--until eventually time itself seemed to melt away. All the while Onoda continued to fight his fictitious war, at once surreal and tragic, at first with other soldiers, and then, finally, alone, a character in a novel of his own making.

In The Twilight World, Herzog immortalizes and imagines Onoda's years of absurd yet epic struggle in an inimitable, hypnotic style--part documentary, part poem, and part dream--that will be instantly recognizable to fans of his films. The result is a novel completely unto itself, a sort of modern-day Robinson Crusoe tale: a glowing, dancing meditation on the purpose and meaning we give our lives.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Weekly goals 19-6-23

 I had my call with the editor yesterday and it was super helpful.  She really drilled down into the book and identified what was missing and what needed to be done to get it into really good shape.  Some of it was stuff I already suspected, but other things were entirely new to me, but as soon as she said them, they made perfect sense.

So my goal this week is to mull over everything she said and try to put together a plan for implementing those changes.  Then I need to sit down and start a new draft document and work through them.  I'm excited to get into it, but I know I shouldn't just rush in blindly or I'll make a mess of the book.  I'm lucky the draft is currently on the short side (for me, anyway) because I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to add at least 20K to make these changes.

I just need to find some time to do this work.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 16, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 16-6-23

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!

I've had a super busy week with a ton of work to do plus things on every night so I'm looking forward to a bit of down time this weekend.  I have a few things I need to do, most importantly have a call with the editor whose going to give me feedback on Guide Us, but I should still find some time to relax.  I hope.

The anthology I have a story in has a cover.  Do you want to see it?  I think it's kind of pretty....

I'm not 100% sure what the release date is yet, but I think it's in the next few weeks, so I'll keep you posted.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Books I've read: Anything But Fine


This is a sweet book from Australia.  Luca has been doing ballet basically since he could walk.  His entire life has been dedicated to training hard enough to get into the Australian Ballet School.  So when a fall on some stairs leaves him with a broken foot and the news he'll probably never dance again, he spirals downward fast.  Especially when his inability to dance loses him his scholarship to the  prestigious private school he's been attending.

At his new public school, Luca struggles to make friends and navigate an unfamiliar building on crutches.  His old friends keep calling, but Luca can't bring himself to talk to them - they're all dancers and the hurt of losing his dream is still too raw.  The cute guy in the waiting room of his physical therapist's office is a nice distraction, pretty to look at and did he just catch Luca's eye?

So it's a surprise when Luca discovers that the cute guy goes to his school, is the star of both the rowing and footy teams.  Soon the pair are navigating an unlikely friendship.  What the hell is popular, sporty Jordan Tanaka-Jones doing hanging out with the nerds on the corner benches?

As their friendship becomes something more, Luca finds himself in a tricky situation - he's been out for years and is super excited that he's finally got a boyfriend.  Unfortunately, Jordan isn't ready to come out to anyone, even his family, let alone the homophobic bros he plays sports with.  He swears he'll tell people soon, but as the months go by, Luca becomes more and more uncomfortable with being someone's dirty little secret.

There was a lot to like about this book, but at the same time, it didn't work for me 100%.  I know it's hard to talk about a lot of stuff, but so many of the crises and conflicts in this book were the result of misunderstandings or lack of communication.  I also felt like the beginning of the book was focused so much on how much Luca had lost by losing his ability to dance that the sudden focus on Jordan and nothing much else was a bit jarring.  I mean, I can understand transferring your passion from one thing to another, but this happened so quickly I almost got whiplash!

I also found the way Luca treated his father somewhat uncomfortable.  He was often thoughtless and cruel and I never felt like his father had done anything to deserve that kind of treatment.  It made me like Luca less and care less about whether he ever got what he wanted.

I also found it hard to warm to Jordan.  I understand being afraid to come out, but the way he treated Luca sometimes was horrible and made it difficult to root for them ever really becoming a couple.

And let's not even get started on the bitchy ballet girls!

But overall, I quite enjoyed this one, horrible characters and all.  It reminded me a lot of my own high school years with all the backbiting and cattiness.  Teenagers can be so awful to one another!  SO i guess in many ways, this is probably a far more realistic portrait of high school than many others.

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

Luca Mason has been preparing to audition for the Australian Ballet School for more than a decade when a missed step on a flight of stairs lands him in hospital. But it’s not all bad—as Luca settles into a life of doctor’s appointments, unwieldy crutches, and absolutely no ballet (and no, he does not want to talk about it) he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the perfect-in-every-way rowing star of his new school, Jordan Tanaka-Jones.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Weekly Goals 12-6-23

 I have a busy week ahead of me.  I realised over the weekend I'm not home any nights this week until Friday!  Plus, I'm the only one in my team at work this week.  Yikes!

So, I'm not going to set any writing goals for myself other than getting everything I can out of the editor call on Sunday.  Then I'll work out a plan to get everything I need to get done, done.

And this week, I'll just try to get through everything I need to do and pick up anything that gets thrown my way.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 9, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 9-6-23


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 absolutely nothing planned really!  I love that.

I also booked a holiday this week. To Samoa.  It will be the first time I've been out of the country since 2013 and the first time I've been back to Samoa since I lived there in the early 1980s.  Very much looking forward to that!  One of my friends who also lived there as a kid has gone over for a few months and has a house she's staying in where I can stay too.  Which is kind of perfect! 

It's been so cold here recently it will be wonderful to go somewhere warm for a week.  Especially since things at work will be seriously ramping up to the craziness I think is going to set in around September.  Good to have a break before all that.

I'm having a call with the editor next weekend, so until then, I'm just tinkering around with other things and leaving Guide Us alone. I wrote a fun little story this week based on a prompt that inspired something sci-fi - not my usual wheelhouse at all.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 6, 2023


 It's the first Wednesday in June so it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group!

The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are Patricia Josephine, Diedre Knight, Olga Godim, J. Lenni Dorner, and Cathrina Constantine!

This month's question is an interesting one:

If you ever did stop writing, what would you replace it with?

I often stop writing for a period time and in that time I do other creative things. Recently that's been fluid acrylic painting which I have really enjoyed. Here are some examples of the kind of thing I've been working on:

I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but that one has a glittery varnish on it. 

This one is among my favourites, but the corners are a bit messy which kind of ruins it for me.

I did this one by pressing the canvas into paint poured on bubble wrap.  Such a cool effect!

But painting is only my most recent writing-replacement hobby.  I also think cooking is very creative and I do a lot of that too.  And in the past I've made jewellery, decorated picture frames and done various other crafty things. And before that, I did a lot of theatre. I'm someone who just needs to do something creative, even if it isn't writing.

Writing ends up being my go -to though, because it's so easy and portable.  You can do it anywhere, any time and you don't need a bunch of fancy equipment.  Just a pen and a scrap of paper.  And if even that isn't nearby, I'll write whole scenes in my head to get them nailed down to I can write them later when I do get need a pen or laptop.

What do you or would you do instead of writing?

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Weekly Goals 6-6-23

I'm going to speak to the editor about Guide Us next weekend, so I'm excited about that.  Even though I know I'm going to need to do more work on it after we have that chat.  But at least I'll know where to do that work and what I need to do to get the book to the point I want it.  So my plan is to listen to her notes, spend a few days thinking them through and then take a day or two off work so I can concentrate solidly on implementing those notes.  Hopefully that will be long enough, but it really depends on how much new stuff I need to write.

I am aiming to have it all wrapped up and ready to query by the end of June.

As for this week, I don't have many goals.  With it being a holiday today, it's a short work week, so I imagine it will be busy!  I've also finally found a new place to quiz and am starting up a new quiz team on Wednesday nights.  Hopefully it's good!

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 2-6-23


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

What am I celebrating this week?

Long weekend!  I'm still struggling with it being the King's Birthday holiday this year, after it having been Queen's Birthday my whole life, but it's still a day off.  And much needed after this week which has been rather ridiculously busy.

Not that the weekend doesn't look busy too; just a different kind of busy.

And what else am I celebrating?  Well, after five years of fairly religiously applying for a Book Bub deal, I finally got offered one.  It's toward the end of the month and I have my fingers crossed that it will give sales a boost.

The editor I'm working with has finished with Guide Us, so I'm looking forward to hearing what her suggestions are.  We just need to find a time that works for both of us to do a Zoom.  Time differences make it a little tricky, but I'm hoping to find a time that works next weekend.  Then I guess I'll be editing for a while.

And that's about it.

What are you celebrating this week?