Sunday, April 21, 2024

Weekly Goals 22-4-24

 Not a lot of change to my goals this week from what they have been the last couple of weeks.  Try and get a few more queries sent out for Guide Us and try to find a few safe minutes to write something.  Anything.  Flash fiction, poetry, short story...

Not sure how I'll get on with any of that, but we'll give it a shot.  If I don't get the extra job, then I'll have some time over the four-day weekend for writing work,  But if I do get the gig, then I'll have to do that instead.  As much as I hate to say it, at this point, a paying gig is more important than my own writing which earns me about enough for a cup of coffee each quarter.

What are your goals this week? 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 19-4-24



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 felt like a very long week this week, so I'm looking forward to having a weekend.  Fingers crossed there is no drama this week and I can actually focus on the things I need and want to do.  Like going up the coast to see my friend and maybe getting a few more queries sent out.  I've had one more rejection this week, from one of the very first queries I sent out.  Some of these agents take a long time to respond!

I may have picked up a little extra gig doing some funding assessments - not exactly the most fun job in the world, but at this stage, some extra money won't go amiss, so I'm prepared to sacrifice some of my time.  I have a four-day weekend next week because Thursday is ANZAC Day and I've taken Friday off too, so if I get selected for a panel, I'll try and get through the bulk of the applications over those four days.  I've applied for this fund in the past, so I know what the applications are like and don't think each one will take more than 45 minutes maximum to get through.  I hope, anyway...

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




Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Books I've Read: Alondra




I wouldn't call myself a wrestling fan, but something about the description of this book made me pick it up at the library the other day.  Maybe because you just don't often see stories about girls wanting to wrestle.  I think the setting also had something to do with the appeal.

Alonda is seventeen and it's summer.  It's hot.  Every day outside her apartment window she hears a trio of kids wresting in the park and longs to join them; she's a massive wrestling fan.  After covertly watching them for a while, she decides to talk to them and ask to join.  They need a fourth to even up the numbers so it just makes sense.  But Alondra is painfully shy and walks past time and time again without managing to say a word.

When she finally works up the courage to speak, the trio are not initially impressed, but Alonda sticks with it and shows them what she can do.  That impresses them enough to ask her to join them and before long Alondra is tightly enmeshed into their group.  She starts dating King, the self-proclaimed leader of the group, but she can't help looking at Lexi, her excitement growing each time they connect in the ring.

Over the course of the long, hot summer, this group of friends will wresting with each other in the ring and with their feelings out of it.

I enjoyed this book.  All the characters were well drawn and distinct and had their own lives, separate from Alonda's.  And as Alonda's confidence in herself grew, as she became more comfortable with herself and her understanding of her bisexuality, she became a way more interesting character.

I liked that the book didn't solely focus on Alonda and her understanding of herself, but showed realistically how someone's life can be made up of multiple parts and problems.  Alonda's home life with her guardian Teresa was shown as well and given as much weight as any other part of the story.

Throughout the wresting season the group develop, Alonda is searching for the perfect character, and when she comes up with it, it makes perfect sense.

This was a quick, easy read - I read the whole thing while I was waiting for the electrician to reconnect the power at my house on Sunday.  I'd recommend it, even if you're not into wresting.

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


A contemporary YA debut from award-winning playwright Gina Femia, Alondra is a coming-of-age story of friendship and romance, about a bisexual teen girl and her friends wrestling their way through the summer--sometimes on the playgrounds of Coney Island, sometimes with their feelings and at home.

Sixteen-year-old Alonda loves professional wrestling. So when she meets a group of teens with aspirations of wrestling fame in her Coney Island neighborhood, she couldn’t be happier. So as the ragtag team works to put on a show to remember, Alonda sheds her old self behind and becomes Alondra ―the Fearless One. But with her conflicting feelings for King, the handsome leader of their group, and Lexi, the girl with the beautiful smile, Alonda has to ask herself: can she be as fearless outside of the ring as she is inside it?

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Weekly Goals 15-4-24

 I had a rather frustrating weekend in which I didn't manage to get anything much done, and almost all my plans went out the window after our power suddenly went out on Saturday night.  And can you get hold of anyone at the power company, the lines company or any electricians on a Saturday night?  No...

So  after spending a Saturday night in the dark, all my Sunday plans went out the window while I tried to get the power back on.  It is now, but it took all day and the bill is enough to give anyone a heart attack. 

Long story short, I didn't get any writing work done over the weekend.  Again.

So my goal this week is to get back to querying Guide Us, and making a bit of a plan for what I'm going to work on next.  I have a 4-day weekend coming up, and that would be the perfect time to kickstart something new.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 12-4-24

 


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 planned this week, mainly catching up with friends which I'm looking forward to.  

I got some feedback on my query package from a professional, and they think it's great, so I guess I have to get back to querying.  I haven't had any more rejections this week, but neither have I had any requests.  No news is good news, they say...

And that's about it for celebrating this week.  What's been going on for you?

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Books I've Read: Ryan and Avery



I picked this up at the library because the cover was cute and I've enjoyed some of David Leviathan's other books.  It wasn't a huge story and I probably will have forgotten most of it in a week or two, but it was a quick, fun read over the weekend.

Told out of sequence, the book follows Ryan and Avery who met at a queer prom through their first ten dates.  The two boys live in different towns, a few hours apart, which adds another layer of complication to their relationship.  There's also the fact Ryan's parents are really nt okay with him being queer and do not encourage the relationship at all.

In contrast, Avery's parents are very accepting, and welcome Ryan into their home whenever he wants to be there.

Over the course of these ten dates the boys learn about each other, their families and how to be a couple as they juggle school, friendships, cast parties, jobs and the other minutae of daily life.

I didn't;t love the book, but it was a pleasant way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon on my deck.  It's light for the most part, but does have some serious moments, particularly around Ryan's relationship with his family.  Luckily he has a very caring and open aunt who he can rely on even when his parents are being ridiculous.

It's not my favourite book by this author, but it has all the things that make David's books his.

So I'd recommend it, I'm just not screaming about it from the rooftops.

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


From the New York Times bestselling author of EVERY DAY, this is a queer love story for the ages--told over the course of a couple's first ten dates.

When a blue-haired boy (Ryan) meets a pink-haired boy (Avery) at a dance--a queer prom--both feel an inexplicable but powerful connection. Follow them through their first ten dates as they bridge their initial shyness and fall in love--through snowstorms, groundings, meeting parents (Avery's) and not (Ryan's), cast parties, heartbreak, and every day and date in between.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 5-4-24

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I know it was a short week, but I'm still glad it's the weekend.  I don't have a lot planned, so looking forward to doing some reading and writing.  I've been a little obsessed over the last few weeks with a really old story I wrote - one of the first novels I ever finished.  I'm really not sure if there is anything I can salvage from it, but the characters keep whispering to me and I'm wondering if there is something there I can work with.  

It's a book that never really worked because it spans two time periods - the present where the MC is in her first year of college, and the past where she's 10.  So it's not really YA, not really MG, not really adult... I'm wondering about losing the college storyline and approaching the story from the past from the POV of one of the other characters who is a teenager.  I've read a few books where the narrator of the story is not the MC, but someone else who observes that character's journey and I'm thinking that might be something to play around with.

Maybe I'm just having all the feels from having read Bridge of Clay again....  What a book that is.  I knew I loved it when I read it a few year back, but I think I've loved it even more the second time around.

Also celebrating having sent out a new batch of Guide Us queries - only one rejection so far...

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

IWSG - April

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


The awesome co-hosts for the April 3 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, T. Powell Coltrin, Natalie Aguirre, and Pat Garcia!

This month's question is an interesting one: 

How long have you been blogging? (Or on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?) What do you like about it and how has it changed?

I have been blogging since June 2010, almost 14 years now.  Back then, blogging was something most writers did and it seemed like one of the things I needed to do if I was going to become a published author.   So I did it.   And I visited a lot of other blogs, took part in blog hops, competitions and guest-blogged on other peoples' blogs while inviting other writers to guest here.  It was quite the community!

These days, far fewer writers seem to blog and the community of bloggers and people reading blogs seems to have shrunk.  I also write for a group blog, and even that very well established blog seems to have a diminishing number of readers.  Fewer people comment on posts.  

I feel like a lot of the activity that used to happen on blogs is now happening on social media.  The problem is, there are so many different channels when it comes to social media, and being across them all is very time consuming.

And the writing is different.  On social media you don't have the same real estate you have in a blog post.  You can't get in depth on anything.  Posts with too much text get scrolled past without being read.  You have to have images or even video to be really seen.  And you're relying on algorithms to show your posts to the right people.

Plus, I really don't enjoy social media much. 

So I'm still here, blogging, probably to a void most of the time.  But I don't care.  This is my spot where I can write about what I want to write about.  If people choose to visit and read what I write, that's great.  If they don't, I'll probably still be here, posting my weekly book review, my goals for the week ahead and celebrating each week's small wins.  

Do you still blog regularly?  Do you still enjoy it?

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Weekly Goals 1-4-24

 Now that I have a computer again, it's time to get back into querying Guide Us.  And I think it's time for a query letter tweak.  So I will be trying to find some people to critique my query and make suggestions where it could be better.  Then I'll send a few queries out with the new one and see if anything changes.

It may be that it isn't my query.  Maybe no one is interested in teenage lesbians struggling with faith...

So that's my goal for this week.  To get a new query written and sent out.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, March 29, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 29-3-24

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I got my new laptop!  And I've managed to set it up and load back all my files.  At least, I think I have...

So I guess I have no excuse not to keep querying Guide Us now.  And to start thinking about writing something new or finishing one of the many partly-written manuscripts lurking in the dark alleys of my hard drive.  With it being a 4-day weekend, I will do some writing-related work.  I think I might have a go at re-writing my query to see if I can come up with something more compelling since I haven't had a single request yet.

And that's the other thing I'm celebrating this week - the long weekend.  After the last couple of months, I need it!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Books I've read; The Librarianist





I bought this book after meeting the author at the Writers Programme of the recent Festival.  I was a big fan of his book The Sisters Brothers, and was excited to read this new one, despite not having read anything else he's written.  Especially after discovering what a lovely and amusing person he is!

The book is about an older man, Bob Comet, who has lived his life for literature as a lifelong librarian.  When he comes across a confused older woman in a store, he takes her back to the home where she lives.  Hoping to fill the long lonely hours of his retired days, he volunteers to help out at the home and quickly becomes entangled in the lives of the residents.

When his own past rushes up to slap him in  the face as a result of a strange coincidence, Bob is forced to take a good had look at himself and what has brought him to the place he finds himself today.

And what a life it is.  For someone who seems, on the surface, to be a simple, possibly boring man, comes a life-story to rival anything in the books he has so lovingly curated over the years.

There's his adventures as an 11-year-old runaway, the love story between he and his wife and the tragedy of having love torn from him.  There's his struggle to make friends and the power of the friendships he eventually manages to foster.

Bob is an introvert and this book explores what that means in a world that focuses so much on those who make the most bluster and noise.  And as Bob moves through his own quiet world, he observes these people, and finds himself often surrounded by them and the his own life becomes inextricably tangled and changed by them.

I really enjoyed this book.  It really shows how you can't truly understand the depths in people without digging deep.  Bob appears like such a nothing person at the beginning of the book, but by the end, you get a real sense of the people and events who have made him the person he is in the present.  And it's a slyly funny book too.  Bob has a knack for surrounding himself with outsized characters whose often bizarre behaviour have a profound effect on him.

So I'd definitely recommend this one.  It's funny, poignant, literate and a very enjoyable read.

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

From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself.

Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he's known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed.

Behind Bob Comet's straight-man facade is the story of an unhappy child's runaway adventure during the last days of the Second World War, of true love won and stolen away, of the purpose and pride found in the librarian's vocation, and of the pleasures of a life lived to the side of the masses. Bob's experiences are imbued with melancholy but also a bright, sustained comedy; he has a talent for locating bizarre and outsize players to welcome onto the stage of his life.

With his inimitable verve, skewed humor, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert's condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 22-3-24





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

What am I celebrating this week?

An awesome outcome to something that could have been a tragedy!  How's that for cryptic???  

Some of you may have noticed I didn't post my usual Wednesday book review.  This is because on Tuesday my computer mysteriously stopped working.  It was fine in the morning; in the afternoon it wouldn't go and just made odd woodpecker noises.  I naturally freaked out.  I have my files backed up, but only to a point....  And that point is not where my latest drafts are currently sitting.  And I haven't backed it up since I wrote the first few chapters of a new book.

My partner thought it might just be the screen so we tried plugging it into an external screen, and sure enough, it seemed like that was the issue.  But a few other weird things were happening too so I decided it was time to take it to the shop.

Turns out, there was liquid damage to the computer.  Someone must have spilled something on it or next to it and it was pretty fried.  So I took the shop's advice and made an insurance claim on it which was accepted within 36 hours and they are replacing it with the current model.  And the computer shop managed to get all the data off my old machine and onto a hard drive, so when my new laptop arrives (hopefully on Monday) I can load everything back on and it will all be even better than before.  Because the machine that got damaged was a 2015 model....

So that's what I am celebrating this week.  How about you?

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Weekly Goals 18-3-24

 The Festival finished last night with a spectacular aerial dance show that used light and haze and music to create something truly amazing.  I absolutely loved it.

But now it's time to try and claw back some semblance of real life again.  And to catch up on some of the sleep I haven't had.  I don't think you can ever really catch up on lost sleep, but it's nice to try.  I have two days off during the week to start to recover, and I am very much looking forward to that. 

So this week my goals are to get my life in order again and to try and get back into a good routine. The house needs a good clean and I have booked a haircut which is very needed.  I need to try and catch up on some of the movies that have been released since the Festival started too.  Not to mention I need to do some work on my query letter - another rejection over the weekend.

I entered my query into a contest in the hope I might get some good feedback I can use to improve it.  So fingers crossed...

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 15-3-24




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 final weekend of the Festival which feels really odd.  We've been working on this for so long and it seems insane that it is finishing so soon.  The three weeks have felt both incredibly long and over far too quickly.

I've had the opportunity to experience so many wonderful performances over the three weeks, often things I would never have gone to if I hadn't been involved in the event.  I mean, I don't think I  would have ever paid to go to see an all-male a cappella group myself, but the skill and mastery those guys demonstrated was just amazing!

Last night I got to see Arooj Aftab, an incredible Pakistani/American singer with a voice that is out of this world.  I cannot recommend her more highly.  She sings mainly in Urdu, making her perfect writing music - I can't get distracted by lyrics, but the emotional intensity of the songs still pulls through.

We have three more shows this weekend, and I hope to get to all of them - a collaboration between a famous Australian digereedoo player and a chamber music quartet, an aerial dance extravaganza and a theatre piece by and Irish company.

Then next week, sleep...  Even though we have just gone on sale for our next event in May/June.

But hopefully I will have some more free time soon to actually look at my query letter again.  three more rejections this week.

What are you celebrating right now?

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Books I've read: The Interestings






This was one of those books that sounded like it would be really interesting and right up my alley.  Unfortunately, I ended up finding it quite boring....  Admittedly, I did read it in very small bites because I've been too busy to read much the past few weeks, and maybe if I had read it more quickly, I wouldn't have found it quite so dry.

But I don't think so...

The book follows a group of friends through their lives from the moment they meet as teenagers at an arty summer camp, focusing primarily on Jules, the one who is the most surprised to be included in the group.  This camp remains the high point of her life, the place she discovered herself, realised she could be funny and met the people who are to become the most important in her life.

At fifteen, all these people are talented and creative and certain their lives will be tied directly to the arts they are passionate about.  There's Ethan, the artist whose passion is animation and who, at fifteen, has already created an expansive fictional world in which he is the main character in a story unlike his own real life.  There's Jonah, the son of a well known folk singer whose passion for music has been soiled by the predatory acts of one of his mother's associates.  Then there's Ash and Goodman, brother and sister from a privileged New York family who are as different from one another as chalk and cheese.  And on the fringes of the group is Cathy, the voluptuous dancer whose passion and talent is not enough to overcome the challenges her decidedly undancerly body throws up.

When camp is over, the group remains connected, partly because they all - except Jules - live in NYC, something that makes Jules feel resentful and left out and makes her behave badly toward her mother and sister at home.  She escapes to the city and Ash's family whenever she can and moves to the city to make her name as a character actor as soon as she finishes college.

As they grow up, couple up, start careers, marry, have kids and live lives both rewarding and challenging, this group of people who once called themselves The Interestings remain friends, helping one another through tragedies, celebrating joys and holding one another's secrets.

I found the way this book was written annoying.  I felt very removed from the characters and never really felt like I grasped the motivations behind their actions.  Jules irritated me in the way she she remained so in awe of her wealthier, more successful friends even when the work she was doing seemed so much more important and meaningful than anything these supposedly more successful people were doing.  Again, this may have been because I only read a few pages at a time and never really fell into the book's rhythm or flow, but I don't think that is the case.

So, I probably would not recommend this one too highly. 

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


The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules's now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Weekly Goals 11-3-24

 It's the final week of the Festival this week so I'm just beginning to peek at life on the other side of it.

I had another query rejection yesterday, so I'm starting to wonder if I might need to tweak the query a bit.  It's clearly not landing the way it should.  I'm not going to have time to work on it this week, but the following week might be a good time to do some radical surgery on it and see if I can make it more compelling.

In the meantime, I will send out a couple more queries and keep my fingers crossed that someone is interested in my beautiful, tortured, Catholic lesbians...

What are your goals this week?


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 8-3-24

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

It has been a fantastic week of arts events and everything seems to be running well, so far. Nine days to go before we close!  It has really raced past.  That opening weekend feels like it was a lifetime ago, yet it was only two weeks.

Highlights for me this week have been solo violinist Johnny Gandelsman playing Bach's cello suites transposed for violin.  It was in a beautiful Catholic church with the most extraordinary acoustics and even though I generally find solo violin piercing and annoying, in this locale, it was simply beautiful.  I also saw Tim Minchin last night which was very entertaining.  I feel like he is one of those mad geniuses whose brains work at a million miles an hour.  I'll be interested to pop my head in on one of his other performances to see if the show is much the same every night, or if he changes things up a lot night by night.

I got some print copies of My Murder Year and they look as pretty as I imagined they might.  I will have to get a couple into the library system when and if I ever get a chance to get back to the library.  It's been weeks!  I have had no time to read recently and it has taken me almost two weeks to get about 2/3 of the way through the book I'm currently reading.  So unlike me who usually reads 2-3 books a week.

I haven't had any more query rejections. Whether this is good news or not remains to be seen... They may all be no reply means no agents, or they may just be behind in getting to queries.  Either way, hope is still alive here. 

What are you celebrating this week.?



Tuesday, March 5, 2024

IWSG - March 2024

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














The awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Kristina Kelly, Miffie Seideman, Jean Davis, and Liza @ Middle Passages!

This month's question is very topical...

Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

I have to admit that I have played around a bit with ChatGPT.  Out of curiosity more than anything else.  Not to write a synopsis, but I did feed a synopsis to the AI to see what kind of a query letter it might make of it.

The answer?  Not a very good one.  It gave some weird comp titles that I didn't think matched my book at all, and focused the query on a sub-plot rather than the meat of the story.  Perhaps my synopsis wasn't good enough?  Or AI isn't as smart as it is cracked up to be.  I certainly would never use what Chat GPT spat out in any real-life scenario.

Maybe if I'd persevered and given the bot more guidance, I would have got something better out of it.  But frankly, doing that defeats the time-saving purpose of using the bot to begin with.  It took me far less time to write a more compelling query by hand than it would have to keep engaging with the AI to get something useable.

I don't think AI can ever replace real writers.  Even if you ask the bot to write something in the "style of Writer X", it's never going to capture the nuance of that writer's voice which comes from their experiences and emotional responses to situations.  Yes, maybe the bot can find words the author is partial to and use those in whatever text it spits out, but it still won't feel or read the same as something actually written by that author.

I don't think AI has any place in any creative field.  Creativity is something uniquely human that is born from the particular experiences, emotions, values and sensitivities of individual people.  A computer is never going to be able to replicate that in a way that feels wholly satisfying because it doesn't have those influences shaping its thought processes from birth.  All it can do is replicate stuff that has already been created and spit it back at us after it has been through its electronic filter.

So I would never use AI as a tool in my writing work. I don't find it that helpful.  Where I have found it useful is in creating things like NDA agreements or generic job description documents or form letters.  Things that have been created many times before and can be tailored to fit your own needs.  These things can take a long time to pull together from scratch, and using the AI created document as a framework for your own can save a significant amount of time.

I just wouldn't use it exactly as it is when it comes out of ChatGPT...  There are always some weird phrases or terms that need some adjusting before they say what you truly want to say.  

What are your feelings about AI?  Would you use it in your creative practices?


Sunday, March 3, 2024

Weekly Goals 4-3-24

 It feels kind of unbelievable that the Festival has only been going for just over a week.  So many shows have already been and gone.  Yet there are still more to come.  Another two weeks' worth.  I don't think I'm ever going to catch up on sleep...

But it has been going well.  Audiences have been good and everyone seems to be enjoying the events.  We had a morning rave on Friday which was super fun.  Over 350 people dancing at 6:30am... Who'd have thought something like that would be so popular?

So my goal this week, like it was last week, is to get though the next week of events without incident and to try and get as much sleep as possible.

What are your goals this week?

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Books I've read: Horse




I picked this up off the bookshelf at work a few months ago because I've read other books by Geraldine Brooks and enjoyed them.  I didn't read the blurb at the time, so I started reading it with very little idea what to expect.  And I was pleasantly surprised.

Set across multiple time-periods, the book is about a famous racehorse from the pre-Civil War era that was captured in several startlingly good portraits.  When a young art historian finds one of these portraits in a junk heap, he's intrigued by the appearance of Black men in the portrait, clearly caring for the valuable horse.  In a bid to find out more, he heads to the museum where he meets a scientist whose discovery of the horse's skeleton in storage has lead her on a journey of discovery.

That's the modern day story.

Intertwined with this story is the story of Jarrett, the Black groom and trainer, born into slavery, whose life was devoted to caring for this remarkable horse throughout his life.  And a third thread that follows an art dealer in the '50s who receives one of the paintings of the horse and tries to find it the perfect home even though she is more used to selling Jackson Pollocks than equine portraits.

I really enjoyed this book.  I had no idea that there were so many Black people involved in horse racing at the time or that they had such important roles.  That part of the story was probably the most interesting to me.  You hear so much about slaves who were treated badly, it was refreshing to read about slaves who were respected, given real responsibilities and encouraged to voice their opinions.

I'm also an art geek, so the story of the art dealer also tickled me.

So I'd definitely recommend this one.  It's a fascinating look at a part of history I knew nothing about, and was an enjoyable read at the same time.

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


A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history

Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name on paintings of the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack.

New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a nineteenth-century equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance.

Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse--one studying the stallion's bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success.

Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Weekly Goals 26-2-24

 I made it through the opening weekend of the Festival.

It was busy and I did a lot of rushing around, but nothing major went wrong.  Well, apart from having to cancel the rest of the season of a show because some of the cast got sick. But even that went pretty smoothly.  I missed out on seeing the Akram Kahn dance company, but I did get to see Meow Meow which was an absolute hoot!  My face ached after the first half from laughing so much.

So my main goal this week is to try and get some sleep and to recover from the weekend.  The rest of the Festival is nothing like as crazy as that opening weekend that included the Writers festival - which I managed to see nothing of because of the timing of the events - so it should be very manageable.  I hope.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, February 23, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 23-2-24

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

The Festival officially opened yesterday after a few days of early shows to test the waters, so to speak.  It has gone well, despite a few glitches with things like ticketing systems and printers.  But nothing that has affected the audience experience (yet).

I'm tired though. It's been a long time between days off and a long time since I slept through the night.  I just need to get through the next couple of days of long hours and rushing about and then I'll get a day off.  Although I think I may have to spend that day off clearing through my emails!

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Books I've read: The Weight of Blood




This author is an insta-read for me ever since I read her book, Allegedly.  So when I saw this one in the library, I pounced.   Kind of a modern-day Carrie, the book jumps around through time as investigative journalists try to uncover what really happened at a Georgia high school prom.  A prom that ended with a town in ruins and several dead bodies.

Maddy is an outcast at her high school.  Her clothes are wrong, her ideas outdated and her repeated absences (always on rainy days) are explained away by a vaguely threatening auto-immune disease.  Maddy tolerates the low-key bullying because she has bigger things to worry about.

Until a rainstorm comes out of nowhere while she's outside running for PE and the secret she and her White religious fanatic father have been keeping for years is revealed: Maddy is bi-racial.  

When a video of the bullying and teasing Maddy receives as her secret comes out goes viral, some of her classmates get together to try and prove that their town isn't really as racist as it might seem on the surface.  For the first time the school will host an integrated prom - up until now, white kids went to the country club for prom while Black kids went somewhere else.

The girl who comes up with the idea even manages to convince her Black quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date to prom.  For the first time Maddy begins to wonder if she might be able to have a normal life, if she might be able to find genuine happiness in a world that has been nothing but cruel to her until now.

But Maddy has a secret. And when things at prom do not go as planned and a cruel prank is pulled on Maddy, she lets loose, leaving a trail of corpses in her wake.

I enjoyed this one.  There was enough supernatural spookiness to call it a horror, while it was grounded in reality and had a lot to say about racism and the difficulties faced by those trying to make a change to this way of thinking.  I do feel like Maddy's father was a little over the top, that his treatment of her seemed Victorian and made him into something of a cartoon villain.  But he isn't in the book that much...

So I'd recommend this one.

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


New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America's history and legacy of racism in this suspenseful YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom.

When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation … Maddy did it.

An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she's dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.

After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High's racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their host the school's first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it's possible to have a normal life.

But some of her classmates aren't done with her just yet. And what they don't know is that Maddy still has another secret … one that will cost them all their lives

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Weekly Goals 19-2-24

 This is the week it all starts.  The Festival kicks off tomorrow with the first show, with the official opening on Friday.  This weekend is going to be the biggest and most stressful part of the whole thing, with shows at every one of our venues plus the Writers programme taking over a three-screen movie theatre for three days.

So this week my goal is to get through this opening week and weekend without any major drama.  There are two functions in the mix, alongside all the regular stuff that goes into running a Festival. I keep waking up at 2am and remembering things I haven't done yet and then thinking of more things I need to do.  Hopefully I can get through all these today and tomorrow morning, before I have to go and set up at the first venue..

What are your goals this week?

Friday, February 16, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 16-2-24

 


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 we're almost through all the ticketing for the Festival!  I'm hoping to bash out the last of it this afternoon, before I go to the movies, and then it will just be the last minute stuff that comes through during the Festival itself.  Definitely not going to go into work on Sunday.

It all kicks off this week.  First show opens on Tuesday with the actual festival opening on Friday.  It's going to be a busy few weeks until it finishes on 17 March.  I may miss a blog post here and there, so if I'm not posting on my regular day, that's why.  It's going to be an amazing few weeks of art and culture.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Books I've Read: Now is Not the Time to Panic



I really enjoyed Kevin Wilson's previous book, Nothing to See Here (the one about the kid that spontaneously combust), so when I was doing an event at a bookstore last week and saw this, I knew I had to buy it.  I do not regret it.

Set in the present day and in 1996, the book is about a weird event that happened in a small town one summer and caused far-reaching repercussions.  It opens with a journalist calling a now-adult Frances Budge and asking questions about the summer in question.  Having never told anyone about it, Frances is terrified that the truth will come out and that it will shatter the life she's built for herself.

In 1996, sixteen-year-old Frankie is facing a long, lonely, boring summer in her small town.  The most exciting thing she can think of to do is to write her subversive Nancy Drew fan fiction in which Nancy is the perpetrator of the crimes.  But then she meets Zeke.

Zeke is an artist who is only in town for the summer while his parents decide whether or not to divorce after Zeke discovers his father is having an affair.  As lonely as Frankie, Zeke gravitates toward her and they are soon spending every day together.

An abandoned Xerox machine in Frankie's garage leads them to experiment with words and images until they come up with an enigmatic, yet strangely beautiful phrase that Zeke illustrates.  They make copies and hang them all over town.  At first people are curious, but not really afraid.  But as the summer goes on and these posters keep going up and spreading through the town like wildfire, rumours begin circulating: it's a satanic cult, it's a heavy metal band, it's a message from aliens...

As the summer goes on and different versions of the poster keep popping up, people become more and more unsettled and on edge.  Copycats proliferate. The entire town is on edge and soon this leads to tragedy.

I really enjoyed this story about the power of subversive art.  Frankie and Zeke were very real characters, dealing with their own problems and their own lives even as the thing they started blows up to be far bigger than both of them.  

It's also a book about the power of an unsolved mystery and the lengths people might go to to find the truth.  And how that truth can be both bigger and less meaningful than you might ever have thought.

The book is also very funny...

So I'd definitely recommend it.

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

From the New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here comes an exuberant, bighearted novel about two teenage misfits who spectacularly collide one fateful summer, and the art they make that changes their lives forever.

Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge—aspiring writer, indifferent student, offbeat loner—is determined to make it through yet another sad summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother’s unhappy house and who is as lonely and awkward as Frankie is. Romantic and creative sparks begin to fly, and when the two jointly make an unsigned poster, shot through with an enigmatic phrase, it becomes unforgettable to anyone who sees it. The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.

The posters begin appearing everywhere, and people wonder who is behind them. Satanists, kidnappers—the rumors won’t stop, and soon the mystery has dangerous repercussions that spread far beyond the town. The art that brought Frankie and Zeke together now threatens to tear them apart.

Twenty years later, Frances Eleanor Budge—famous author, mom to a wonderful daughter, wife to a loving husband—gets a call that threatens to upend everything: a journalist named Mazzy Brower is writing a story about the Coalfield Panic of 1996. Might Frances know something about that? And will what she knows destroy the life she’s so carefully built?

A bold coming-of-age story, written with Kevin Wilson’s trademark wit and blazing prose, Now Is Not The Time to Panic is a nuanced exploration of young love, identity, and the power of art. It’s also about the secrets that haunt us—and, ultimately, what the truth will set free.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Weekly Goals 12-2-24

 With this being the last week before we start actual production on the Festival, once again my goals are all largely work-related - as they will be until mid-March now.  I'm going to be too busy for anything else.

This week I want to make sure all the ticketing is done, apart from any last-minute things that might come through, and I want to make sure we have everything set up and in place for the two functions we're hosting during the Festival.  We're struggling a little with having enough staff over the opening weekend, so I may have to shuffle a few people around to make sure we have the right people in the right places at the times we need them.  It would be very useful to have a clone or two at this point as there is one day I'm looking at working across three venues from 7am until 11pm.  

Luckily, after the opening weekend, things are much calmer and easier to manage.

What are your goals this week?


Friday, February 9, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 9-2-24

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I'm not sure I am celebrating this week.  I've been so snowed under at work, I haven't had the chance to think much about anything else.  I'm hoping to get a day off over the weekend, but I'm not sure that's going to be possible.  We'll see how much I can get done on Saturday afternoon.

I've had a few more query rejections and am starting to wonder if maybe I need to do some work on the query to see if I can make it more compelling.  I'm not quite at the number I usually advise people to start tweaking at, but it seems like things have changed a bit since I was last querying. But that's going to have to wait until after the Festival.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

IWSG: February 2024

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


The awesome co-hosts for the February 7 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, SE White, Victoria Marie Lees, and Cathrina Constantine!

This month's question is a good one...

What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author's books? Constant mention of books?

For me, the bigger turn off is not really about the content so much as the design.  So many writer blogs are built in Blogger templates (my own included) that have been customised by the author in really terrible ways.  Coloured fonts on coloured backgrounds are one of my biggest peeves.  If you want someone to read your blog, make it easy to read.  if I visit a blog and find the text in purple on a lime green background, I'm not going to stick around long enough to know if your content is good or not.

The other thing that bugs me is people who try to do too much in a single post.  If you're doing an author interview, do that in one post.  If you're talking about a bookstore visit, make that a single post.  If you're reviewing a book you read, make that a single post.  Some bloggers seem to like to post once a week and stuff everything into one long, confusing, rambling mess.  

If you have that much to talk about, maybe post more often.  You can still do the work one a week, just schedule those posts for different days so readers aren't faced with scrolling endlessly down the screen looking for the part of the post that they're interested in.

If you've got an author website, make sure your contact details are on there.  It doesn't matter if you're published or not.  If someone wants to get hold of you, make sure that information is there for them. If I'm looking for an author to feature in an article or interview, if I can't find a way to contact them easily, I'm going to move on, regardless of how much I enjoy the content on their blog, or their books.

I could keep going, but this is getting long, and maybe rambly, so I'll stop before I become my own pet peeve...

What do you dislike about blogs and websites you visit?

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Weekly Goals 5-2-24

 This week my goals are all work related - and not my own work.

I want to get all the partnership tickets sent out this week because that will take a huge amount of pressure off me and will allow me to help my colleague with some of the other, smaller orders we have to get out.  I went into work yesterday afternoon and got a bunch done, so I think if I go in tomorrow when no one else is there again, I can probably smash out the rest.  It just means I don't get my day off...  But I think that's a small sacrifice to make for getting more sleep.

I also want to make sure all the details of the functions are finalised this week.  I have the rooms and tech booked, and the caterer is aware of them, but I need to actually pick menu items and lock everything in this week.  And arrange with the suppliers when to pick up booze and stuff.  Luckily we do have an extra person in the office at the moment to help with these things.

And if I get a chance, I'd like to send out a couple more queries, but if that doesn't happen, then it's not the end of the world.  I think I still have 10 out there...

What are your goals this week?

Friday, February 2, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 3-2-24

  


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 crazy busy week and I am exhausted.  I actually went to bed at 8pm last night!  Admittedly, I had been to a gig the night before.  And I haven't been sleeping well because there is so much to do and not enough hours in the day to do everything.  I decided while tossing and turning and worrying about all the work I have to do in the next to weeks that I will just go into work on Sunday afternoon and on Tuesday (which is a public holiday) and try to smash out some of the stuff I need to get through while the office is empty and quiet.  It's kind of the only way all these people who need tickets are going to get them.

I haven't received any more query rejections (although weirdly, I did just get a rejection from a publisher I'd sent Standing Too Close to in 2022) so that's good.  I know it's probably because most of the agents haven't reached my query yet, but there's still a chance...

And that's about it for me. I'm too tired to celebrate much.  If I could get more than 4 hours sleep a night I'd celebrate that, but that doesn't seem to be a thing right now.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Books I've Read: The Blackwoods




As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a film lover and anything to do with the movies and movie stars is right up my alley.  So this book instantly appealed to me because it's about a family with many generations of movie royalty.  A Black family, no less!

Spanning close to a century, the book focuses on Blossom Blackwood and her rise to fame in the segregation era where casting Black actors was rare, then parallels this with the stories of two great-granddaughters who live in the present day.  The family has benefitted greatly from Blossom's fame, with various members, including one of the great-granddaughters being actors.

Personally, I found Blossom's story more interesting than the modern day story.  The struggles and sacrifices she had to make to live her dream were heartbreaking.  But Blossom refused to give up and refused to compromise herself and her integrity even when it would have made opening closed doors easier for her.  And some of the choices she was forced to make were heartbreaking.

In contrast, the problems her great-granddaughters face seem trivial - leaked nude photos for Hollis and an uncharacteristic blow up at media for Ardith, the actress.  I felt that both these characters were a little thinly drawn and not different enough from each other to justify both their stories being told.

The book centres around a long-held family secret which is revealed after Blossom's death.  The details are spun out in the chapters outlining Blossom's life and career; the effect it has on the family as a whole are dealt with in the present day sections.

Overall, I enjoyed this one despite the present day story not being as compelling or interesting as the one from the past.  The details of Hollywood both past and present felt authentic and the author clearly shares my love of old movies!

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

From Boston Globe/Horn Book Award–winning author Brandy Colbert comes the story of four generations of a Hollywood family—an unforgettable tale of ambition, fame, struggle, loss, and love in America.

The Blackwoods. Everyone knows their name. Blossom Blackwood burst onto the silver screen in 1962, and in the decades that followed, she would become one of the most celebrated actors of our time—and the matriarch of the most famous Black family in Hollywood. To her great-granddaughters, Hollis and Ardith, she has always just been Bebe. And when she passes away, it changes everything. Hollis Blackwood was never interested in fame. Still, she’s surrounded by it, whether at home with her family or at the prestigious Dupree Academy among Los Angeles’ elite.

When private photos of Hollis are leaked in the wake of Blossom’s death, she is thrust into the spotlight she’s long avoided—and finds that trust may be a luxury even she can’t afford. Ardith Blackwood has always lived in the public eye. A television star since childhood, she was perhaps closer with Blossom than anyone—especially after Ardith’s mother died in a drug overdose. Ever since, she has worked to be everything her family, her church, and the public want her to be. But as a family secret comes to light and the pressures from all sides begin to mount, she wonders what is left beneath the face she shows the world.

Weaving together the narratives of Hollis, Ardith, and Blossom, award-winning author Brandy Colbert tells an unforgettable story set in an America where everything is personal, and nothing is private.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Weekly goals 29/1/24

 I'm not going to have a lot of time over the next few weeks to do anything writing related, so I'm going to keep my goals very small and simple.  Until we finish the Festival on 17 March, work is going to have to be the priority.  And this week, ticketing has to be my priority at work.  There is a lot to do and each booking takes considerably longer than I anticipated.

So I will focus on getting another 10 queries out for Guide Us.  Like ticketing, querying takes longer than I remembered, with researching the agents' wish lists, finding out if they're open, finding out if their agency is a "no from one of us is no from all of us" agency...

What are your goals this week?

Friday, January 26, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 26-1-24

 


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!

With the Festival only 4 weeks away, things at work are BUSY!  So I'm celebrating having a weekend.  I won't be getting one for a few weeks while we're in the middle of things.  My bestie is down from Auckland so I'm going to see her over the weekend which I'm looking forward to.  I haven't seen her since July!  She's playing a gig here which I'm going to.  Looking forward to that.

Otherwise, I'm going to try and have a relaxing weekend.  I feel like I need to sleep a bit.

I've sent out a few more queries for Guide Us and now have 4 rejections.  All from very established agents who have big client lists already.  I feel like maybe I need to focus more on newer agents who are still building their lists, but am trying to mix it up a bit.  Will try and get a few more out over the weekend.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Weekly Goals.... a bit late

 Yes, yes...  I know it's Wednesday, not Monday.  Monday was a holiday here and we were up at my partner's property on the coast and somehow I just missed my usual Monday post.  But better late than never, huh?

My goal this week is to start querying Guide Us.  I actually sent off a few queries over the weekend, and have already racked up my first two rejections.  Way to go, me!  In case you're at all interested, here's the query.  Give me any feedback you might have. ...

Dear Agent,

I’ve seen that you’re seeking X, Y and Z, so I thought you might be interested in Guide Us, my 78,000 word YA contemporary novel.

Told in dual POV, Guide Us follows 17-year-old Juliet Capaldi as she navigates her senior year at the strict Catholic school she has attended since kindergarten. Juliet re-connects with her former best friend, Iris, who fled St. Ignatius for public school after she and Juliet shared kisses at an eight grade party. Despite trying to deny their attraction, Juliet and Iris can’t resist re-kindling their friendship.

As their friendship deepens, Iris and Juliet struggle with their feelings for each other while grappling with their faith and family expectations. Already under a cloud of distrust from her mother, Iris is terrified of disappointing her again and insists their relationship remain a secret. Juliet, who has already started questioning whether the things taught in church still apply in the modern world, wants to bring their relationship out into the open.

Desperate to prove she’s not the abomination the church tells her she is, Iris breaks things off with Juliet and sleeps with a boy. When she discovers she’s pregnant, it’s Juliet who supports her and shows her she has options. Struggling with guilt, Iris seeks guidance from the church only to be told that if she goes with her heart, she’ll be damned for all eternity.

Guide Us is a story about first love, self-discovery and the struggle to reconcile faith and desire. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed books like Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour and Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry.

I have published five YA novels with a small press and my short stories have appeared in Halfway Down the Stairs, Residential Aliens, The Barrier Review, A Fly in Amber, Everyday Fiction and numerous anthologies including recent Voyage YA anthology Just Above Water. I am a contributor to writing blog Operation Awesome, offering weekly advice to writers as agony aunt, O’Abby.

Per your guidelines, you will find X,Y, Z below.

Best wishes,

Kate

What are your goals this week?

Friday, January 19, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 19-1-24

 


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

What am I celebrating this week?

I finished Guide Us!

Yes, you read that correctly.  The book is done.  I took the day off yesterday and went to the library to read through the whole book and make any last changes that needed to be made.  There were only a handful of things that needed attention.  Maybe five.

Now the querying starts...  Give me strength.

It's a long weekend, so I plan to put in a couple of hours each day to get a bunch of queries out, then we'll wait and see.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Books I've Read: Once More With Feeling

 


This was a quick, fun read that I picked up because it was set in the world of musical theatre and pop superstardom - two things I'm always into reading about.  Particularly after having just seen the hilarious mockumentary, Theater Camp.  For a second time...

Cal and Kathleen first met at a summer camp for theatre kids as teenagers. They liked each other and performed together, but nothing really happened between them.  Years later, they meet again when Kathleen has become a teen pop sensation under the name Katee Rose and Cal's boyband, CrushZone join her on tour.  CrushZone also has Katee's boyfriend, Ryan, on board and their relationship is endless fodder for tabloids and paparazzi.  So it's not really the right time for Katee to notice how hot Cal is, or how much more she enjoys spending time with him that the other boys.  Even Ryan.

Now, almost 20 years later, Kathleen is relatively contented with her life out of the spotlight. Katee Rose is a name from the past and she avoids thinking too much about the scandal that imploded her career.  Until the opportunity of a lifetime lands in her lap. The one thing she's always dreamed of - the chance to perform in a Broadway musical. The one catch?  Cal is attached as the director.

Kathleen agrees to take the role and promises she'll keep things professional with Cal.  But as the rehearsal period gets intense, she can't help noticing he's still just as hot - if not hotter- than he was when he was a teen heart-throb.  And damn it if she doesn't still enjoy his company!

I enjoyed this.  It's light and fluffy and follows all the romance novel tropes you'd expect.  It's not deep and doesn't do anything new with the genre, but sometimes that's just fine.  Sometimes you just want something light and fun with some characters who do end up with a happy ever after in spite of themselves.

So if you're looking for something like this, go for it.

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

Then. Katee Rose is living the dream as America's number one pop star, caught in a whirlwind of sold-out concerts, screaming fans, and constant tabloid coverage. Everyone wants to know everything about her and her boyfriend, Ryan LaNeve, the hottest member of adored boy band CrushZone. Katee loves to perform but hates the impossible demands of stardom. Maybe that's why she finds herself in the arms of another CrushZone member, Cal Kirby. Quiet, serious Cal, who's always been a good friend to Katee, is suddenly Cal with the smoldering eyes and very good hands. One unforgettable night is all it takes to blow up Katee's relationship with Ryan, her career, her whole life...

Now. Kathleen Rosenberg is okay with her ordinary existence, and leaving her pop star image in the past. That is, until Cal Kirby shows up with the opportunity of her dreams--a starring role in the Broadway show he's directing and a chance to perform the way she's always wanted. The two haven't spoken since the joint destruction of their careers, and each of them blames the other, making their reunion a tense battle of wits and egos. Katee reluctantly agrees to the musical, as long as she keeps her guard up around Cal. But rehearsals are long, those eyes still smolder, and those hands are still very good. Despite everything, Katee can't deny the chemistry between them. Is it ever a good idea to reignite old flames? Especially if you've been burned in the past?

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Dear Me 2024

 Dear Me,

I really didn’t do well with my goals last year, so my goal this year is to be better at meeting my goals!  Which means I need to be realistic about what I can actually achieve.  My “new” job is pretty time-consuming and looking at the year ahead, there is not much in the way of breaks between events.  Which means a lot of cross-over as we try and wrap up and report on one, while setting up and producing the next.  It’s going to be intense.

 

With that in mind, my writing goals are going to be limited this year. I want to query Guide Us as I think it is probably more mainstream/commercial than most of my books and more likely to get me a new agent than some of my other stories.  I think it’s really close to being ready. I just need a day or two to read through the whole thing to see if the changes to the timeline and new scenes I added have bedded in properly.  You don’t want someone talking about something in the past that hasn’t actually happened yet!  It would be nice to get another set of eyes over it too, but I think I’ve exhausted my beta-readers for this one already, so I may need to trust my own judgement this time.  

 

In terms of new writing, I’d love to be able to put some real work into A Stranger to Kindness.  I really love my mute foster-kid and want to tell his story. It’s a goodie! Once I’ve got Guide Us out the door, I would like to put energy into that one. I’m just not sure I’ll have the time.  But even 500-1000 words a day would help get it finished and I’m sure I can find the 40 minutes or so a day I need to do that much.  I just find it hard to write like that.  I like to fall into the story and live there while I’m writing, and writing in scraps like that doesn’t get you into that space.  But if scraps of time are all I have, I’ll use them.

 

In the rest of my life, that part that’s not writing or work, I intend to keep reading as much as I can.  I haven’t hit my Goodreads goal the last two years, so I’m aiming a little lower for 2024. Not a huge amount, but a little.  Under 120 books for the first time in many years.  Hopefully I’ll manage to actually hit that goal this year.

 

And like every year, I will keep up my exercising and go to the gym at least four times a week and do as much exercise as I can outside of that too.  I never seem to lose any weight, but at least I feel reasonably fit and healthy.  I’m getting older and I probably need to do more to try and keep myself from getting those dreadful issues that older people seem prone to.

 

I will also keep gong to the movies as often as I can.  Even though I don’t work in film anymore, it’s still one of the things I’m most passionate about and I am all for keeping the theatrical experience alive and thriving.  I know I can watch films at home, and I do,  but it just isn’t the same as sitting in the dark experiencing the story with a roomful of other people.  I’m re-joining the Film Society for 2024, which means I will get to see something interesting every Monday night again.  And I got a 10-trip pass for the Film Festival for Xmas, so that’s me sorted for July.  Almost…  I probably will go to more than just ten films, but it’s a start!

 

Looking back at this, I feel like I make mostly the same goals every year. So for something new in 2024, I want to stop biting my fingernails.  I’ve done it all my life and I think it’s time to stop.  Before Christmas I experimented with some stick-on nails and they were good, except I kept losing them.  But my nails grew a lot in the 10 days or so I used them.  I even managed to keep them long for about two weeks after I took the falsies off.  Then I was reading at the beach one afternoon and bit them all off without realising.  D’oh!  So when I got home, I went and got my nails done at a salon for the first time in my life and now I have lovely long (half-fake) shiny pink nails.  I’m hoping my real nails will grow underneath while I genuinely can’t bite them (the tips are plastic right now), and by the time the fake ends have grown out, I’ll have nice long natural nails to get manicured and polished with something that will make them too hard to bite. That’s the plan, anyway.  Not sure if it will work.  I suspect my real nails might have been wrecked after all the grinding and buffing and stuff they did.  But it was an experience I’ve never had before, so worth it even if I means I only have nice nails for a few weeks…


And that's me for 2024, I think.  We'll check in mid-year to see how we're doing.  And I'll actually try to remember to do it this time!


XX Me