elderly Lily

January 16, 2019

One of the things that made last year a struggle was realizing, and adjusting to that realization, that Lily is showing her age. She’s fifteen going on sixteen, and for many years now she’s fooled me into thinking she’s just fine, nothing to worry about. Then she was diagnosed with kidney disease, then arthritis. She’s on special food and has four medications lined up that she takes every day. She can’t climb into the car by herself anymore, and she avoids stairs when she can. We’ve grappled with UTI’s, and often it’s clear she isn’t comfortable but can’t quite express what’s wrong.

This is hard, especially because until this last year she’s been such an active, hyper, boisterous pup. And now she just isn’t. She sleeps a lot.

But she still plays with her toys and love treats and loves her morning walk and runs around the house when she gets excited.  She’s still a fluffy neurotic adorable mess. We just have to work a little harder to keep her that way is all.

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The Favourite

January 14, 2019

This is about the court of Queen Anne in the early 1700’s which is a period of English history I know relatively little about because so much of the literature is so very pedantic I skipped over it as much as I could in school. Anyway, the movie is about two women vying for royal favor, particularly Abigail and how much of her principles she’s willing to undermine to secure her own well-being.

It’s really good, and not just because of the absolutely luscious costumes and settings that these historical dramas always have. Well-drawn, in depth characters. At some point everyone is horrible, and everyone is also sympathetic — they have good reasons for doing what they’re doing. The film’s edgy and got some quirks, but it’s all well thought out. An amazing cast. Yes, that is Nicholas Hoult under that GIGANTIC wig.

We did that thing driving home where we immediately looked up Queen Anne to see how much of this actually happened, and I believe this may be one of those cases where the truth might have been even stranger. In some ways, court politics of a couple of hundred years ago might as well be an alien planet.

Queen Anne is a tragic figure, and Olivia Colman is already winning awards for her performance here. Good. She deserves them all.

 

Today I learned that there’s a CGIS, like NCIS but for the Coast Guard, and I’m going to put that in the current novel and it may actually be the twist I was looking for all along.

It’s going to be awesome.

 

two things

January 9, 2019

1.) The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has posted an interview about my story in this month’s issue, “To the Beautiful Shining Twilight.” I have finally written an old-school urban fantasy (i.e. elves and music in the real world) story.

2.) I’m planning on going to Worldcon in Dublin in August. Looking forward to it! I really enjoyed my last trip to Ireland and I have a whole list of things I want to check out this trip. i.e. a bunch of research on Neolithic sites and culture. YES.

3.) Wait! One more thing! I have a story in a new anthology, UNFETTERED III. There’s a giveaway on Goodreads to win a copy of an ARC. Check it out!

Now back to work. I’ve got momentum on this latest rewrite of the surprise novel and I wanna get that wrapped up.

 

status report

January 7, 2019

It’s that week of the year when the holiday decorations all get put away and it’s the first normal week with no interruptions and yet nothing feels quite normal.

Predictive text:  we were messaging about restaurants and instead of “Sushi Hana” my phone thought I wanted to type “Hanseatic.” I am oddly smug that my phone thinks I talk about the Hanseatic League in every day conversation.

Heading back to yoga after a month of travel and dealing with hacking respiratory ick. This oughta be interesting.

Writing. It’s going slow. I wish it didn’t go slow but sometimes that’s how it shakes out. Baby steps.

 

2018 reading

January 4, 2019

First, a reminder, that in a couple of weeks I’ll be Guest of Honor at COSine in Colorado Springs. See you there?

I read 50 books in 2018, which is way up from the previous few years’ totals and about where I like to be, to make the most of my reading speed.

Eleven of those were nonfiction. Bad Blood by John Carryrou, American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee, and Birding without Borders by Noah Strycker were standouts.

Eight of those were re-reads — 2 McKinley and 3 Bujold. Comfort reading has become really important, in much the way that re-watching MCU and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings feels like spending time with old friends. That was also a big part of how much I was able to read — discovering a couple of new authors I wanted to devour. You know, the “Just one more chapter” authors, and three hours later you’ve read the whole thing.  Regency romance author Cat Sebastian shows up on my 2018 list a lot. She’s a really good writer and her characters are delightful. Also space opera by Becky Chambers and Martha Wells. Full disclosure:  I’ve been counting more novellas as books, which definitely helps the total. More authors are writing novellas, it seems like. The “just one more chapter” impulse really makes novellas fly by.

One of my re-reads was Witchmark, by C.L. Polk, which just came out this year, but I first read it a year or so ago when I got the ARC for a blurb. Remember when I was talking about “personable fantasy,” with characters I like spending time with in an engaging story with stakes that may be high but are more about the people than an epic sweep?  This.

Another reason I read more this year:  in keeping with the idea of comfort reading, I’ve embraced taking a couple of hours some afternoons to just sit on the sofa, drink tea, and read.  If I start to feel burned out or I hit a wall in the afternoon, instead of staying at my desk and hating myself — go read something, pick up a favorite Bujold or McKillip and just read.  My usual reading time is the hour before bed, but this past year I’ve really gotten a lot out of a long afternoon of reading, every now and then.  I need to remember that.

My first read of this year is a re-read:  for Christmas I got The Books of Earthsea, a massive edition of all of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books, illustrated by Charles Vess. This is a good way to start the year, I think.

2 movies

January 2, 2019

I’m making an effort to catch up on the huge number of movies I want to see this holiday season, a task made more challenging by being on vacation for two weeks and missing a bunch of release dates. But I’m getting there.

Mortal Engines

I wish this had come out in about 2011, when steampunk was huge and we were all wishing for a big, beautiful, epic, and truly steampunk movie. I think reviewers and audiences would have forgiven it some of its faults, which are mostly faults of being too ambitious and trying to cram too much story into too short a space, which means the plot and characters are all a bit stock and deserve better. Like maybe a 12-part mini-series. I’m glad I saw it. It looks amazing, and the things it does really well are the visuals and the worldbuilding. And I’m sad, since because this flopped we may not get another chance at a big, beautiful, epic, and truly steampunk movie.

Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse

I liked it, and it demonstrates yet again what an endearing, enduring character Spider-man can be when handled well. All the Spider-heroes are everything that is good and earnest and right about superheroes. The animation is great and pushes some boundaries. I love how meta it is, and that it plants itself in directly in the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-man timeline. The voice cast is amazing. Lily Tomlin’s Aunt May is maybe my favorite Aunt May ever. I’m happy that storytellers and filmmakers are still finding new and interesting ways of telling superhero stories. Just when I think we’ve reached peak saturation, it’s nice to see something like this come along.

I’m also grappling with the same thing I did in Star Wars: Rebels, where I’m at the age where I relate way more to the tired parent-aged characters than I do to the plucky young heroes. Kanan Jarrus in Rebels, and 38-year old screw-up Peter Parker here. I’ve kind of forgotten what those kinds of characters looked like when I was a teenager. I think they looked like warnings. Now, I want to hug them and bring them home with me.