Halloween 2021

December 6, 2021

This post is waaaay late (it’s December now, right? Yeah…), but what can I say, it’s been a year.

Nevertheless, behold: my niece’s Halloween costume! If the Ewok doesn’t totally give it away, Emery decided to be Endor Leia this year. And can I just say, I was a bit relieved to get a project that was relatively simple. It’s a dress. A simple dress! I bet it was comfortable, too.

I’m pleased with how it turned out — getting the details right is the challenge on something like this.

My latest novella, Charmed Waters, released as an e-book yesterday. Hurrah!

Cormac and Amelia meet a mermaid in landlocked Colorado. Now, they need to get her home.

Kindle

Nook

Apple

An an audiobook will be out soon!

Reminder: the new Cormac and Amelia novella, CHARMED WATERS, is out tomorrow!

I’ve been traveling again. Jumping in with both feet, and it’s been strange. Like, 85% normal and the last 15% is masks and atrocious bureaucratic hoops and paranoia. I’m really out of practice at this under the best circumstances. But I’m also glad to be doing it, not because it’s getting back to normal, but because it’s an attempt to approach the world on the terms of this new normal.

My next trip is going to be to Washington D.C. for Worldcon. Which is not usually in December, mind you, but is an attempt at scheduling around everything. Hey, you remember back last spring when we thought everything was going to settle down by now? Yeah, good times.

And a quick TV update. Only Murders in the Building was fun, a bit of a contemporary comedy intersecting with the obsession over true crime stories. Mostly it was really lovely seeing Steve Martin do his thing in something new.

Foundation. Oof. Y’all, I really wanted to like this. It’s awfully pretty. It’s been so long since I read the books I don’t really care about how good of an adaptation it is, I just wanted the show to be intriguing and interesting…and watchable. It is none of these. Disjointed, repetitive, and mostly going for sensationalism rather than a coherent story. I made it through episode 5, then bailed, and I’m sorry for that.

Next up: Hawkeye and the live-action Cowboy Bebop.

new Wild Cards reprints!

November 23, 2021

Tor Books is steadily working on reprinting all the Wild Cards substantial backlist, with fantastic character-centric artwork. Some of these books have been out of print for decades, so this is a cool and good thing.

The latest are two of the solo novels: Turn of the Cards by the great Vic Milán, who unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago. He would have loved this cover of Jumpin’ Jack Flash. And Death Draws Five, by John Jos. Miller. The links go to Bookshop .org. Please support indie bookstores whenever you can.

Here’s a story: The company that originally published Death Draws Five went under right around the time of its publication date. (This was before I joined the Consortium, so I learned about all this later.) As a result, the warehouse and all the stock got caught up in bankruptcy proceedings, and only a few hundred copies ever made it out into the world. The original edition of this book is rare.

You want to know how big a fan of Wild Cards I was back in the day?  I have a copy of that first-edition of Death Draws Five. I think I picked it up at a Barnes and Noble right when it came out and had no idea there were any problems. Lucky me! But yeah. I have all the rarities. I’m pretty pleased about that.

And of course I’m getting the new editions. Of course I am!

working working…

November 19, 2021

So I have a NASA ball cap that my Mom gave me that I wear everywhere. Well, I wear it when I go hiking/birding, because I’m blond enough that my scalp burns if I don’t wear a hat. And just about every time I do, someone looks at it and says, “Oh, do you work for NASA?” To which I always say, “No, I’m just a fan.”

This question confuses me. Ball caps are for fans, right? I mean, I absolutely guarantee that most people wearing a Broncos cap or any sports team cap or whatever don’t get asked, “Oh, do you work for the Broncos?” No—they’re fans. Like I’m a fan. I don’t know why NASA would be different.

Anyway.

I have a rough draft of a new short story. This is huge, because I haven’t really finished anything since the summer. (I’m working on a novel, which never gets finished right away, but there’s a point where I get super cranky and just want to finish something, and this week I did, which felt great.)

I made a list of ten writing projects I’d like to get done by the end of the year. Spoiler:  they’re not all going to get done by the end of the year. I think I might get four done by the end of the year. But you know, I thrive on lists, so this feels like progress.

I didn’t make it to the theater for this one, which is a bummer. I’m still deeply out of the habit of going to movies. I’ve missed so many, including the latest Bond. I’ve now missed two MCU films on the big screen. Still not sure I’m going to make it to Eternals, but I think I want to try. Ugh, things still feel so weird.

I have a very obnoxious one-line review for Shang-Chi: In a reversal of the usual pattern, an Asian hero who is the rightful heir to a mystical legacy travels to the West to learn the ancient art of… sarcasm.

Anyway. This movie is just fine. It’s really pretty. Great cast. Fantastic fight scenes. Chock full of Chinese lore that brought to mind the research I did for Kitty’s Big Trouble. (I’ll pass along one of my biggest sources because I suspect it was also a source for this, which is the Classic of Mountain and Seas. The secret village seems very much like something that would have been described in that work.) Yet another dead mother. *shrug*

I’m a little confused about the Ten Rings as a terrorist organization now, and how what we’ve learned about it here connects up with what we know from the Iron Man films. Because I gotta say I was really super into the idea that the Mandarin was invented to stereotypically conform to western fears about foreign threats—specifically designed to be a deconstruction of Orientalism, which was freaking brilliant. I think I conflated the Mandarin with the Ten Rings, while it’s more accurate to say the powers behind the Mandarin appropriated the Ten Rings, which it turns out is a real terrorist organization that’s been around for a thousand years? *recalculating, recalculating*

I’m not saying this is a bad thing, Just a bit confusing. Ultimately, it works because Shang-Chi really bought in to its own story. But I also get the feeling that the MCU kind of doesn’t really know what to do next, and is going to end up retconning a lot of what came before. And on that note we come to Eternals, a group of super-powerful people that we just never heard of until now?

Meanwhile, between this and Snake-Eyes, I propose we are entering an 80’s Ninja Aesthetic Revival that is long overdue.

Once again, I’ve thought of a whole list of really great DIY gifts I can make for the holidays, and I’ve done this in (checks calendar) November.

I don’t know why I never think of this in August. It’s a cosmic mystery.

But, well, after a big sort through my craft stash and an epic trip to Michaels, I think I have what I need. Let’s see how far I can get.

*rolls up sleeves*

old habits and new

November 5, 2021

You might have noticed that blogging has become harder and harder for me this past year. Two years ago I was on a pretty regular schedule of posting three times a week . It dropped to two, and now I’m managing about one. I think a big part of that is the pandemic, having not much going on, all the old patterns disrupted, and as a result feeling like there’s just nothing much to write about. Feeling caught in a rut is making it hard to get motivated. Writing fiction is always my first priority, which probably won’t come as a surprise. If it’s a choice between writing fiction or the blog, fiction wins every time. (The result of this choice is new novellas like FATAL STORM and CHARMED WATERS, and a slew of short stories on the horizon. Hooray!)

I know I’m not the only one who’s realizing I’ve developed a new set of habits during the pandemic, and am now thinking about how to get out of them. Or, better — what new habits to develop to replace them. Big thoughts, there.

This is just to say I’m working on some plans and ideas, and blogging is going to be a part of that but it’s probably going to look different than this. I’ve been blogging here, like this, for about 15 years now, so it’s high time for a change. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Thank you for sticking with me. I really appreciate it.

Cormac and Amelia are back!

November 3, 2021

FATAL STORM, a brand-new adventure starring Cormac and Amelia, is now available!

He’s an ex-con turned supernatural detective! She’s the spirit of a Victorian wizard! Together, they fight crime!

I swear, sometimes the pitches just write themselves. This one’s a country house murder mystery. And the house is haunted…

Links: Kindle, Nook, and it’s up on Apple Books as well. I’ll post that link when I have it. Update: BOOM, here’s the Apple Books link, right after the post goes up.

An audio version will be coming soon, so keep an eye out for that.

And in one month, the fourth book in the series, CHARMED WATERS, will be out.

Just in time for some cozy winter reading!

Dune (2021)

October 25, 2021

I’m annoyed at the number of people declaring this the best science fiction film of all time, because it’s not. Not even in my top ten, I don’t think. Mostly because it isn’t really science fiction – it’s epic fantasy that happens to take place is space. Like Star Wars. Paul is basically a Jedi, but that’s a discussion for another time.  

But it’s also just an okay film. It’s very, very pretty, and it gets the job done. But I didn’t feel a whole lot of anything about it when it was finished.

Here’s the problem with Dune, and I think it’s baked into the story:  we know what’s going to happen pretty much every step. The characters tell us what’s going to happen, almost continually. And then it happens, pretty much just like they said it would. House Atreides is taking possession of Arrakis. We’re told that this is a trap and they’re being set up to fail. And then they fail. We’re told, almost from the start, that Paul is probably the chosen one, and it’s confirmed almost continually that yes, he is the chosen one.  (I think one of the really endearing things about Luke in Star Wars is how often he fails. He screws up kind of a lot. But it’s the way he keeps trying and struggling that makes him a hero. We watch to see what he does next, because we’re not always sure what that’s going to be.)

Here, I’m never worried, I’m never surprised. And I can’t tell if it’s because I know the story too well or if it’s just that predictable. The characters are moving through pre-ordained motions with little apparent agency, and little emotional investment as a result.

This isn’t foreshadowing, it’s something else, and it sucks the tension right out. These productions then attempt to replace tension with awe:  long, lingering shots of landscape, of giant ships, alien sandworms, really luscious set pieces and imagery.

But if you’re a jaded skeptic of these kinds of stories like me, the awe might not work, and I’m left feeling, well, nothing. This film is emotionally empty. In exactly two moments, I felt an emotion start to take hold, and it was so startling it actually distracted me – wait, I’m feeling something? Two hours into the movie? Well, how about that.

The invasion and attack on the Atreides was really frustrating (okay, I guess that’s a third emotion I felt) because the outcome was a foregone conclusion and they set up a really shitty defense. Duke Leto wandering empty halls alone trying to figure out what’s wrong? Where are his personal guards? Don’t know, don’t care, evidently. The entire army leaving their back wide open? Shitty, shitty. No wonder they lost.

But that’s picking nits. We all know this has to happen for the rest of the story to unfold, and it does, exactly on schedule.

Another thing that’s driving me bonkers about the ecstatic gushing about the film all over social media is the declaration that this is somehow a better adaptation than the Lynch film, when probably 85% of the scenes in this movie can also be found in the Lynch film, some of them shot-for-shot and word-for-word. If you’re going to claim that this film is a good adaptation then you have admit the Lynch one is as well, at some level.

Really, though, this is only half the story, and I think I’ll need to wait to see what they do with the next one before I pass final judgment. Because dammit, yes, for all my lack of enthusiasm I’ll go see the next.