the deep midwinter

February 27, 2015

I spent a lot of Boskone joking that I was kind of enjoying the massive amounts of snow because Colorado had had a light winter so far.  Well, we’re now on track in my area for having one of our snowiest Februarys on record — we’ve had three major snowfalls in the last week.  And I’m patting myself on the back for successfully bringing snow back from Boston with me.

I’m having a busy kind of distracted ADD sort of week (cleaning, revising, finishing a draft, generally bouncing between too many things at once), so in lieu of a more in-depth blog post (and worrying about whether I should do more manifesto and less geek-tastic type posts? Hm? There’ve been a lot of manifestos out there in SF&F blog land lately.  So maybe not), here’s another piece from my Big Fat Crafting Holiday Season:

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This is a lacey pattern I got off Ravelry. You can find it here.  I’ve probably knitted four or five of these.  It’s relatively simple but deeply satisfying, when that beautiful leafy pattern starts to come through.

A gave this to my grandmother.  It’s her color, and that’s exactly what she said when she opened it, “It’s my color!”  I love it when I can zero in on a perfect gift like that.

1.  Logistics are not a substitute for plot.

2.  If your viewpoint character has a deep dark secret, do not keep that secret from the reader for two thirds of the book. (“She had a secret. It really was a terrible secret.  Unmentionable, really.  No — it’s really terrible!  It did not even bear thinking on, so she didn’t.  Just that, you know, she had a secret.”)  If you do, the reader will be reading to discover the secret, and not to see what happens to the character, and by the time you finally reveal that damned stupid secret, your reader’s reaction will likely be, “That’s it?  That’s the big secret?  Seriously?” and to throw the book across the room.  (Drawback of e-books — unable to throw book across room.) Instead, state the secret up front and show us how it informs the main character’s actions and thoughts.  The revelation of the secret to the other characters will be the big climactic moment, not the revelation to the reader.

3.  If in the first book of a series you establish that one of the main characters becomes something of a father figure to the other main character, then in the second book you should probably make sure those two characters interact at some point, instead of purposefully keeping them apart because you think that having them actually talk about stuff will derail the plot in which the second character does something stupid that the former character might presumably talk her out of.  Don’t jettison an entire prior book’s worth of characterization just to make the plot easier for you to handwave into existence.

 

Jupiter Ascending

February 23, 2015

Yup.  I totally went to see this.  Because SPACESHIPS.  So, what’s the verdict?

The Verdict:

“Wizard of Oz” meets “Dune” except the main characters are super boring, and did you notice how Jupiter doesn’t actually make any active decisions through the whole movie?  She’s entirely reactive.  I mean, sure, she decides to save Earth by not signing this thing, but really only when she realizes Wise is going to come rescue her after all.  Again.  Because this movie does the same plot like three times in a row because it has three villains.  The action scenes were nonsensical and too long.

And the more I think about it, the more it’s thematically basically just like the Wachowskis’ best known film, The Matrix:  Earth is not what it seems and human beings are Product.  Fight the system!  Ride your rocket boots into the camera!

But it does pass the Bechdel test quite handily, multiple times, so there’s that.

The Good Stuff, because there was some Good Stuff:

You know how I have this thing about big space ships?  Ho-lee shit, people.  There were some really gorgeous space ships in this thing.  Go for the space ships.  And space stations, and planets, and cultures, and people, and I basically loved all the secondary characters from the two Cyberpunk Bounty Hunters to the Dinosaur Gargoyle Guards to the Pretty Bureaucratic Androids.  And Captain Tsing.  Captain Tsing is my new favorite character.  Give me a movie about the Adventures of Captain Tsing, please.

Basically, this whole thing is a proof-of-concept for making a movie based on Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels.  SOMEBODY PLEASE DO THIS RIGHT NOW.

How The Movie Would Have Gone if I Were the Main Character:

Me:  So wait.  I’m a space princess?

Wise:  Queen, Your Majesty, but yes.

Me: And how many worlds are there?

Wise:  Millions, Your Majesty.

Me:  And how rich am I?

Wise:  Very, Your Majesty.

Me:  I would like my own ship and a tour guide, please.

Wise:  You do realize the economy of this culture is based on turning entire planets of people into Oil of Olay, right?

Me:  And that is wrong, and I will fight to change it, I promise.  But I still want my ship and tour guide.

 

state of the desk

February 20, 2015

Random nattering today.  I had a really good day yesterday:  started with a great ride on TinyHorse, I finally got to sit down and write something substantial, I made cashew chicken for dinner, and then I watched Guardians of the Galaxy.  I was worried it wouldn’t be as good as I remember.  Turns out, IT’S BETTER.  Plus, Dancing Baby Groot still leaves me weeping with joy.  I still really appreciate that the movie doesn’t have an opening scroll or voiceover, and this time I really noticed that all the pop music is actually playing in the course of action.  As in, if the song is playing in the soundtrack, it’s because it’s playing on Peter’s tape deck.  I love that.  So many movies and TV shows use pop music in a soundtrack as some kind of emotional shorthand, but in Guardians it’s part of the action.

What I’m working on:  I finished up two short stories this month, which was nice.  Next, revisions on the YA space opera, and a secret project.  I’m hoping to finish up both of those in March.  Then. . .well, gosh, I’m not sure!

We’re supposed to get a big snowstorm this weekend.  We’ll see if it actually happens.  If it does, I may stay home and binge watch the Robotech DVD’s I got for my birthday.

Happy Friday!

 

sparklies

February 18, 2015

Quick Wednesday post.  I had a great time at Boskone but it’s taking me a little while to recover.  Even though I think I may be the only person at the convention whose flight wasn’t cancelled.  May I always be so lucky.

So here’s more stuff that I’ve made/acquired, this time in the category of OOOH SPARKLIES.  It’s my weakness.

At some point I acquired some pearls. (This is another thing that happens in the SCA. You get gifted with the most marvelous things like fabric and jewelry and odds and ends.)  I had them for years, waiting for inspiration, which finally struck:  I had a Renaissance gown with no jewelry to go with it.  Eeek!  So I made a necklace:

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And another one:

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I love them!  I’m glad I waited to use the pearls because these turned out so nice, and I have a feeling they’ll be versatile and I’ll get to wear them with lots of different outfits.

This one, I didn’t make, but acquired at the Boskone art show.  It’s by Priscilla Olson, and I grabbed it up because I think it’ll go with both my period outfits and my steampunk wardrobe.

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SPARKLIES!  It’s a bit of an addiction, but it’s one I indulge in because I like to support the artists who make these pretties, and it’s wearable, which speaks to my practical side.

 

comfort viewing

February 16, 2015

BBC America has been airing Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes 2-3 nights a week for a good long while now, and I find myself very often after leaving off work and before foraging for dinner, melting into my sofa and watching for a bit.  Or I’ll put it on as background chatter while I’m knitting.  Somehow, some way, it’s very comforting.

The thing is, the show as whole does not hold up  well.  Especially in the notorious first season, the actors clearly aren’t sure just what they’re doing, they’re not comfortable with each other (oh my gosh, the number of times they have to point out Data doing something android-y or Worf doing something Klingon-y, gah), the stories are often very staid, the philosophy ham-handed, and the dialog… oh my.   ST: TNG has moments of brilliance — “The Inner Light” is one of the best hours of dramatic television in existence.  But then there are times when the show sounds like a role-playing game run by fifth graders.  Very smart fifth graders, usually, but still.

For awhile, I couldn’t re-watch the show at all, and I winced at how I was so enamored of it when I was a teenager. (The excuse was we didn’t really have any other science fiction on TV, and that was very true.)  But….  and yet…  I’ve started watching it again.  Like I said, it’s sometimes just voices in the background.  But these characters are so familiar, and so likable, and their world is also so familiar.  Did you know you can go to YouTube and play the Enterprise’s ambient engine noise for 24 hours?  And isn’t that weirdly soothing?  At this point, the whole show is like a warm fuzzy blanket.

The phenomenon of how much I’ve come to appreciate just hanging out with Picard and Worf and the rest is fascinating to me.  Fiction, entertainment, comfort — powerful stuff, here.

(How many of you are still playing that engine noise?  *raises hand*)

more Georgette Heyer

February 13, 2015

So yes, I have discovered Georgette Heyer and I’m working my way through the historicals.  If I’m going to be writing historical romance, I want them to look like this.  So far, I think every book of hers I’ve read has had a scene that I have to pull out and hang on the wall.  This is one from The Grand Sophy:

 He said stiffly:  “Since you have brought up Miss Wraxton’s name, I shall be much obliged to you, cousin, if you will refrain from telling my sisters that she has a face like a horse!”

“But Charles, no blame attaches to Miss Wraxton!  She cannot help it, and that, I assure you, I have always pointed out to your sisters.”

“I consider Miss Wraxton’s countenance particularly well-bred!”

“Yes, indeed, but you have quite misunderstood the matter!  I meant a particularly well-bred horse!”

“You meant, as I am perfectly aware, to belittle Miss Wraxton!”

“No, no!  I am very fond of horses!” Sophy said earnestly.

Oh my goodness.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

 

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