Friday, September 29, 2023

Celebrate the Small Things 29-9-23


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 it's been another crazy busy week, so having a couple of days off is going to be great, even though I have a lot of stuff to get through.

My Murder Year releases in a week, so I need to do some more promo work for that.  I actually can't wait until it's out so I can get back to actually writing again instead of using all my writing time to do marketing and promotion.  Which is what I do all week in my day job.  You'd think I'd be better at it...

The weather has been terrible all week, with rain and wind.  I have great hope that the sun might come out at least for a few hours this weekend.  I really want to spend a bit of time sitting in the sun and reading.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Books I've Read: My Week With Him


The description of this one sounded interesting, but it was actually kind of misleading...  The whole thing with the missing sister lasted a handful of pages and was actually kind of a minor part of the book, not the focus the way the blurb suggests. The book is actually about Nikki spending a week of Spring Break with her boyfriend and him trying to convince her to stay with him in their small-town and not pursue her dreams.

I didn't buy it.

Nothing about this story rang true for me.  Nikki never seemed to be scared or worried about her situation and kept pushing away people trying to help her.  If I was 18 and on my own for the first time with no family to fall back on, I'd be scared.  Even if I did have a super supportive boyfriend whose family seemed willing to take me in at the drop of a hat.

Even Nikki and Mal's friendship felt off to me.  While in a hotel, Mal tells Nikki a whole lot of his history, and it's pretty major stuff.  If these two were really the close friends the book wants you to believe they are, Mal's past shouldn't be a mystery to Nikki.  If she's spent as much time with him and his family as the book suggests, she'd know he was adopted at the age of ten.  I mean, didn't she wonder why there were no baby photos at his house?

Her relationship with her mother was troubled, and I get that.  Teenage girls often butt heads with their mothers.  But I never felt like Nikki was in any real danger from her mother, physically or emotionally.  The fights they had were the same kind of fights girls often have with their moms as they struggle to become their own person.  And her mother's explanation for why she acts the way she does didn't fully ring true to me either.

And then there was the whole sister relationship which was never fully developed.  And the fact Nikki has this dream of being a singer and an audition to get to, but doesn't seem that focused on actually getting there.  She talks about it a lot, but doesn't do a lot to actually get there.  She keeps letting things back home draw her back, even when she does leave.  And despite her saying how dreadful things are back home, nothing felt that bad because Mal was always there with his big house, plenty of money and parents who would do anything for him (and Nikki by extension).

So, I wouldn't recommend this one.  It's not a difficult read, but ultimately, it didn't feel satisfying.

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

"A cute portrait of agency, hope, and intergenerational trauma by Goffney. "— Publishers Weekly A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection pick! 

From Joya Goffney of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, comes a stirring YA coming-of-age, best friends-to-lovers romance about a girl named Nikki who plans to run away from small-town Texas, but ultimately finds that her oldest friend, Mal, just might be the one who’s been there for her all along. Filled with heart and humor, this novel captures complex family drama, friendship, and love. 

For fans of I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest and Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan. Nikki can’t wait to leave Texas and follow her dreams of a music career . . . After a painful betrayal by her sister and a heated argument with their mother, Nikki is kicked out and finds herself homeless. She decides to go to California to pursue her singing career. When her best friend, Malachai, discovers her plan to flee Texas, he begs her to spend the remainder of spring break with him. He believes that over the course of a week, he can convince her to stay in Texas, or to at least graduate high school. But their plans are interrupted when Nikki’s little sister Vae goes missing. Nikki is forced to work alongside her difficult mother as they set off in search of Vae, with Malachai’s support. Will Nikki find a reason to stay in Texas, or will this spring break be the last time she sees them? Through her emotional journey, Nikki ultimately finds the love she’s always been missing and discovers the power of her own voice.

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!

Celebrate with us. Answer this month's question. 

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?