Thursday, May 30, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 31-5-24


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!  A long weekend.

But I'm working Saturday and possibly Sunday, so it's not really a weekend.  Thankfully, there's only one more week after this that the experience is running so the stupidly long hours and nights will be over for a while.  Until the end of July.

I won a query critique on a friend's blog and she has given me some useful feedback.  I'm going to try the re-written query out in my next batch and see if it makes difference.  I've had one more rejection this week...

And that's about it for me.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Books I've Read: Mom Com


I was tired this weekend so I decided to read a something really unchallenging to rest my exhausted brain.  I saw this one at the library and thought it looked like good choice - what's better than cakes and romance?

It turns out, this one might have been too sweet even for me...  

Maddi has just disgraced herself on national television after appearing on a reality baking show.  She returns home to her mother who has summoned her with some vague intimations about her recently deceased father's will.  With her is her nine-year-old son, Spence, whose father still lives in her hometown.

Also back in her hometown is Wilder, Maddi's childhood best friend who became much more than that while they were in high school.  It does not take long before Wilder and Maddi run into each other and the chemistry between them begins to spark again in both the good and bad ways it always has.  

So it's an unwelcome shock for Maddi to discover that her father's will leaves his beloved bakery not to Maddi alone. but to both Maddi and Wilder.  And there are are strict rules around them both staying to work there built in.

At home, Maddi wrestles with her past and tries to do the right thing to win approval from her mother who has been vocal over the years about how disappointed in Maddi she is after Maddi fell pregnant in high school, skipped college and moved away.  And then there's the confusion of having both her high school boyfriends in town and falling right back into their own pattern of rivalry.

This was the fluffy read I needed this weekend, but somehow I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.  Is it just me or do the heroines of these books always sound alike?  I feel like every book like this I've read recently has a main character with a similar voice - someone who feels like a screw up, yet demonstrates a real inner strength and determination.

I didn't hate it, but the book somehow irritated me, something I've found in a lot of this type of book recently.  Maybe I need to stop reading them...

So I'm not strongly recommending this, but if you like this kind of book-candy, it's not the worst of its kind...

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

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Adriana Mather comes a heartwarming tale of love, family, and pastry perfection.

Maddi DeLuca is coming home for the holidays with her nine-year-old son, only it’s not the triumphant return she might have hoped for. She recently broke down on a reality TV baking show, letting the entire country know she feels like a colossal failure. And she can be certain her mother will remind her of all the ways she hasn’t lived up to expectations over the years.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Weekly Goals 27-5-24

 It's going to be a busy week this week and with four nights on site, I don't think I'm going to get any writing time (again).  Although it is a long weekend, so maybe on Monday...

So I'll just do what I've been doing and keep sending out queries when I have time.  Maybe one will stick eventually...

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Celebrate the Small Tings 24-5-24


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!  Sort of...  I do I have to work, so maybe not so much.

I only got one query rejection this week, and sent off two more.  Still no requests.  My hit rate has never been so bad.  And I don't think it's the query or pages because I've had them both assessed professionally twice now, and both times the response has been enthusiastic.

So I'll keep trying.

I went to pub quiz with a couple of friends last night and we came 7th, which was a big surprise.  We didn't feel like we'd done well at all and were guessing we'd come around 15th or 16th (there were 22 teams), so to get 7th was cool.  No prizes, but still cool.

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Books I've Read: Stories of Your Life and Others


I don't often read short story collections and I really should do it more often.  A good short story is truly a work of art.  I only read this collection because it was suggested as our book club read for this month and I'm very glad it was.  It is certainly not something I would have picked up on my own, but I found myself enjoying it, even though the stories were basically all science fiction of one sort or another.  Or maybe philosophy?

As with most collections, there were some stories I liked more than others, but one thing I can say about the collection as a whole is that every one of the stories made me think.  It's been a long time since I read something this cerebral.  I'm not usually a fan of sci-fi, but because this all felt rooted in real science (except maybe the story about angels) I didn't mind it so much.

The title story surprised me by being the story on which the film Arrival was based.  I now kind of want to re-watch the film to see how like the story the film is.  It's been a long time since I saw it...

I think my favourite story was the first one in which the author imagines what the tower of Babylon might be like if it existed as it was described in the Bible.  The physics of such a thing is kind of staggering to start with, but even more so, the human side of it, for those who worked to build this structure.

I also enjoyed the story about angels visiting Earth and that their arrival might not be as benign as we imagine, but accompanied by huge natural disaster-type disturbances.  I also liked its depiction of hell as being just like real life, but eternal.

In fact, all the stories I enjoyed the most in this collection had elements of theology involved.  The other one I liked a lot was about a world in which golem were used as a part of everyday life, as simple machines to aid in manufacturing. 

But even the ones I didn't enjoy as much were intriguing and thought provoking.  I can't claim to fully understand the mathematics involved in the one about a man whose wife basically lost the will to live over a mathematical theorem, but as an idea it was interesting nonetheless.

So, I'd recommend this one - I know, me endorsing sci-fi.  They're well-written stories and definitely will get you thinking about things in a new and different way.

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

What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven's other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Weekly Goals 20-5-24

 It's going to be another busy week, so I'm not setting myself any writing goals again.  If I get time to do any writing work, I'll do it, but I don't know that there will be any time.  I'm onsite three nights this week and I have a lot to do at work outside the onsite stuff.

I've had one more query rejection for Guide Us.  There were a lot of agents closed to queries when I did my first round of querying, so I'm going to try and go back through my list to see if anyone has re-opened since then and send some more queries out.  I'm quite disappointed at the reception this query has received, given all the positive feedback I've had on both the query and the opening pages.  I guess no-one is looking for Catholic school lesbians at the moment....

And that's it for goals this week?  What are you trying to achieve?

Friday, May 17, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 17-5-24


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!

Well, sort of.  I do have to work Saturday night.  And it looks like it's going to be a busy one too.  But I have Sunday off, which will be nice.  I might even make it to the movies which I haven't managed the last few weeks.  So unlike me!

I finished the second job I was doing yesterday, so that's going to free up some time (maybe).  At least it means I can pay the electrician some of the money I owe.  I'm still trying to get the lines company to admit fault, but I at least have a person who responds to emails now, even if they do keep fobbing me off.  If I don't hear back from them on Monday, I'm going to have to go a step further.

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Books I've Read: The Invisible Hour


If you know me, you know how much I love a good cult story.  Something about cults just fascinates me.  And I've loved Alice Hoffman's writing since her first book, Property Of, so finding that she has written a book abut a cult escapee was right up my alley. 

The book is kind of magic realism, with a touch of history in there too in that the main character, Mia, is fascinated with Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter.  I haven't read The Scarlet Letter since high school and this book almost made me want to go and re-read it.  Almost...

The book starts with Mia leaving the cult she has been brought up in.  It's not portrayed as an absolutely terrible place where sexual abuse is rife, but the cult leader (Joel) doesn't allow books or reading or kids to have close relationships with their parents.  It's known as the Community and work and sharing is a core part of the belief system.  Mia's mother ended up there after falling pregnant to a high society Boston boy who wanted nothing to do with her or the baby and her father's fury that his daughter should find herself in such a tawdry predicament.

After her mother's death, Mia is determined to leave the Community.  She has been introduced to books and the library and longs for more than apple picking and child minding.  But before she can leave, Joel discovers her hidden books and punishes her by locking her into the barn before she is branded with a letter corresponding to her alleged crime.  She escapes to the library and is taken in by the librarian who smuggles her out of town to a friend's place.

Outside the Community Mia thrives, but Joel's shadow still falls on her life regularly.  Apple leaves show up in impossible places - the cult leader's quiet calling card - and Mia knows she is being followed. Only her love for Hawthorne and his book keeps her going and when, by some magical twist to the earth's fabric, she finds herself in Hawthorne's time, it is inevitable that they would fall in love.  But will her presence in his time alter the course of history and lead to the book that saved her life never being written?

I enjoyed this book.  The magical elements worked well and I enjoyed seeing Hawthorne brought to life.  I love that the power of reading is so celebrated in this book, and that books and writing are shown to be not just powerful, but magical too.

So I'd recommend this one, even if you're not a huge fan of magic.

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

The latest New York Times bestseller from beloved author Alice Hoffman celebrates the enduring magic of books and is a “wonderful story of love and growth” (Stephen King).

One June day when Mia Jacob can no longer see a way to survive, the power of words saves her. The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier, but it seems to tell the story of Mia’s mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community—an oppressive cult in western Massachusetts where contact with the outside world is forbidden. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her?

Through a journey of heartbreak, love, and time, Mia must abandon the rules she was raised with at the Community. As she does, she realizes that reading can transport you to other worlds or bring them to you, and that readers and writers affect one another in mysterious ways. She learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine, and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you.

As a girl Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter ? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die?

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Weekly Goals 13-5-24

Work is going to be super busy again this week, so once again I'm not setting myself any writing goals because I'm pretty sure I won't meet them.  I have to wonder if I'll ever write again at this stage...  Maybe when I retire.  Although I'm not sure I'm ever going to be able to do that either.

It's my birthday on Wednesday so I'm hoping my family might do something nice for me.  Neither of my kids seemed to even know it was Mother's Day yesterday...

And that's about it for goals this week.

What  are you hoping to achieve?

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 10-5-24

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!

Not that I get much of a weekend this week...  I'm working both nights and I between I need to finish of the other job I've been doing.  *Sigh*.

But I'm celebrating that our test of the event last night went really well.  Everything ran smoothly, even with a few last minute wrinkles in the plan that came out of nowhere the day before we had to go live.  Tonight will be much easier, with only a couple of sessions for media and stakeholders.  Then on Saturday we open to the public.

The only downside is that this week it got cold and after spending 6 hours out there yesterday, I've come to realize my clothing is just not adequate for something like this.  So this weekend I'm off to invest in some thermals.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Books I've read: Bones and All


Okay, so I really don't know how I felt about this book....  It was weird.  And creepy. And I can't believe anyone made a movie of it, but apparently they have...

You see, it's about cannibalism - never an easy topic to tackle.

Maren has a problem with people liking her.  When they do, she tends to eat them. It's been happening since she was a toddler and her babysitter got too close. Since then, there have been others.  Her mother doesn't love it, but will do whatever she can to protect Maren, so after each "incident" they pack up and move elsewhere, start afresh.

Until Maren is 16 and wakes up one day to find her mother gone,

Certain her father will have some answers for her, Maren sets off to find him, even though she's never met him.  On the journey she discovers a lot about herself and the world around her, most importantly, that she is not alone in her need to devour the people she cares about.  But as she discovers more about the world and her place in it, can she learn to accept herself?

I found this book odd from start to finish.  I'm sure the cannibalism was supposed to be symbolic of something, but I never quite grasped what and that frustrated me.  Each of the "eaters" she come across seems to have a different reason or way of eating people so there was no consistency.  

And my logical brain couldn't accept that people could just vanish off the face of the earth without questions being asked.  I mean, not all the people who got eaten in the story were unattached drifters who wouldn't be missed...  And is it possible for a human to eat another human without leaving even a trace of DNA lying around somewhere?  I don't think so!  And how does the human jaw manage bones the size of  a thighbone or pelvis?

Yet there was something oddly compelling about the book which made me finish it even though I had a lot of reservations.  

So I'm not sure if I should recommend it or not!  Maybe?  Maybe not?

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

Maren Yearly doesn’t just break hearts, she devours them.

Since she was a baby, Maren has had what you might call "an issue" with affection. Anytime someone cares for her too much, she can’t seem to stop herself from eating them. Abandoned by her mother at the age of 16, Maren goes looking for the father she has never known, but finds more than she bargained for along the way.

Faced with love, fellow eaters, and enemies for the first time in her life, Maren realizes she isn’t just looking for her father, she is looking for herself. The real question is, will she like the girl she finds?

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Weekly Goals 6-5 24

 It's going to be a busy week this week, with an event going into production at work.  So I'm not setting myself any real goals this week.  If I get some spare minutes, I may send out a few more queries, but basically, I think I'm just waiting on the ones I already have out for the next month or so.  There are still quite a few.

Otherwise, it's a work-focused week.  I have our event to get up, plus I still need to finish up the extra work I took on a couple of weeks ago as it's all due on my birthday (15 May).  So those two things are my main focus this week.

What are your goals for the 7 days ahead?

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Celebrate the Small Things 3-5-24

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 don't have a lot on this weekend, which is nice because next week we go live with our next event and I'm working nights Thurs-Sun and then am on call every other night until mid-June.  And with it being autumn and getting chilly at night, I imagine we'll have a few of our staff getting sick across the four weeks.  It's an outdoor event...

I've only had one more query rejection this week.  Still no requests for pages.  It's clearly very competitive out there at the moment, but I'm not sure what else I can do.  I've had my query package professionally assessed and been told it's very strong, so I have to just keep believing in my book and putting it out there.  Fingers crossed the right person will stumble across it eventually.

I got author copies of the anthology I have a story in and it's really pretty!  They sent me both hardback and paperback copies!  I've never had harcovers before.  They'll look lovely in the library!

And that's about me for celebrating this week.  What do you have to cheer about?