new and old and new again

August 14, 2015

I really was worried that people wouldn’t like Kitty Saves the World.  Would it live up to expectation?  Would it be a satisfying close?  Well, it’s got a 90% five star rating on Amazon.  I think that may be the best of any of them.  So I guess people liked it!

To celebrate, I posted a new G.I. Joe story that I wrote on a roadtrip last month.  It just kind of happened. And I thought, why not let people read it?  So here it is: G.I. Joe: That Famous Silent Issue.  (Which will make sense to you if you’re a real old-school fan.  Yes, it’s a Scarlett and Snake-Eyes story!)

In other news, both my parents and grandparents are in a downsizing phase, which means lots of boxes are going back and forth, to the thrift store, and so on.  The last bits of childhood stuff that my parents had stored in their basement are finding their way back to me.  Which means, my entire run of original Wild Cards novels are together again:

wild cards

Aren’t they pretty?  And yes, well-read indeed.  But I think they’re pretty because they’re well read.

happy Monday!

August 10, 2015

I’m not supposed to compulsively check Kitty Saves the World’s Amazon page, but I’ve been doing it anyway.  It has 14 reviews so far.  All of them 5 star.  100% five star.  That’s….amazing.  Thank you to everyone who’s picked up the book and been so supportive.

I reread Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword last week (it’s my favorite book to reread and always makes me happy), and this time decided that Corlath should be played by Oded Fehr.  SWOON.

I’m not planning on seeing the new Fantastic Four.  The bad reviews clinched it, but ultimately I think it was the matte gray color palette that did me in.  Would it kill these guys to put a little sunshine in these movies?  Is grimdark afraid of color?

Instead this weekend, I finally watched The Princess Diaries 2, and I only have one question:  What the hell is Stan Lee doing in this movie?  Seriously, there’s a Stan Lee cameo.  He hits on Julie Andrews.

The only reasonable explanation is that of course Princess Mia is actually a superhero.

 

It’s a very interesting time in my brain right at the moment.  Those two novella-things I finished revising last week?  Turns out finishing them cleared up a big chunk of real estate in my brain.  Those two projects have been living in my brain for years, and now that they’re done, I can clean under the creative sofas, so to speak, vacuum up the dust that accumulated around them, and see what the place looks like.

A bunch of new projects flooded into the space, which I’m excited about, because these are also ideas I’ve been thinking about for a real long time but haven’t been able to do anything about while those other things were parked in the prime real estate. (People keep asking if I’m sad about wrapping up the Kitty books — and I’m actually not, for this very reason.  I’m satisfied, and I’m looking forward to see what shows up when I’m not thinking about new Kitty books.)

Like, I started outlining one book, but then ended up outlining a whole other book — one that I’ve been thinking about but didn’t know when I was going to get to.  I also carefully opened the gates on a brand-new novel idea, one I hadn’t really thought about until the last couple of weeks but I finally got something of a eureka-moment about how to handle it that makes it much more viable.  (See how this works?  No room for eureka-moments until this week!  It’s so fun!)

This also means it’s time to run inventory on what I’m working on and prioritize projects.  And reading lists:  research for two different novels is going to mean reading about, variously, the Donner Party, the Miwok tribes of California, giant squids, and the War of 1812.  (I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide which of those research topic goes together.)  I’m also going to need to reread Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed, because I want to study the structure to help me out writing that brand-new novel idea.

I also figured out a short story I’ve been stuck on.

So yeah.  This part is kind of fun.  But if you talk to me in two weeks, I’ll probably be going crazy because I can’t seen to settle on one thing to work on.  Heh.

 

As I mentioned in my review of the movie, I somehow avoided ever reading this great American novel.  I don’t know how, it just happened.  Because we read Madame Bovary or something stupid like that instead.  I hear from lots of people that they hated The Great Gatsby in high school, but I rather suspect this is a book that teenagers aren’t really going to get — post-war existential angst, etc.  So, I was curious.  What’s it like reading this book for the first time at the age of 40+?

This book is amazing.  Amazing writing.  Just. . . See, most “classics” I read are classics for a reason — they’re really goodTo Kill a Mockingbird, Moby Dick — I’ve read them all later, out of high school, and I love them all.  Here, just look at this:

“I had no sight into Daisy’s heart but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.”

What I wouldn’t give to write a sentence like that.  One sentence, Fitzgerald nails that character to the wall.  The whole book is like that.  It’s a character study more than anything, of this group of people chosen to represent a specific time and place that the author suspects might be kind of terrible.

It’s actually kind of wonderful in a horrifying way how every single character in this book is just an awful, awful person.  And you know what?  Nick Carraway is the worst of the bunch.  What a spineless git.  (Question for the academics:  Has there been any commentary about the possibility that Nick is suffering from shellshock?  His drifting, his seeming inability to make any decisions, his shifting attitudes and perceptions…  Or is he just the ultimate post-war nihilist?)

But the most horrifying realization of all is the one that slowly creeps upon you as you are reading this book, almost a century after its publication, that a big chunk of 20th century American fiction has been all about people trying to write a book just like The Great Gatsby and failing miserably.

 

Monday! Books and TV —

March 16, 2015

What I’ve been watching:

After being really appalled by the couple of episodes I saw of History Channel’s Sons of Liberty miniseries, which would have you believe that the American Revolution was run by a bunch of Gen Y hotties vamping and fistfighting their way across New England, and that none of them had wives and families and Abigail Adams was a walk-on part, I’ve started on the HBO series from a few years ago, John Adams.

I love it so far.  Very well acted and it seems awfully more accurate:  the founding fathers were for the most part established, middle-aged men with families who had a heck of a lot to lose by fomenting revolution.  Abigail Adams is really damned important.

We get to the reading of the Declaration of Independence — because every show ever having to do with the American Revolution has a reading of the Declaration of Independence — and in John Adams, part of that reading is done by Abigail and their daughter.  Hearing this read in women’s voices — it seems like such a little thing, but it struck me powerfully.  It’s seems really, vitally important to hear it read in a woman’s voice.  And I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it read by a woman.  This is a deep and striking thing that I’m still thinking about.

What I’ve been reading:

I’m reading a bunch of stuff from this year’s Nebula ballot so I can be an informed voter.

I just finished up a fantastic book about the Silk Road:  Life Along the Silk Road by Susan Whitfield.  The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has a great temporary exhibit right now about the Silk Road — I recommend it.  This is where I picked up the book.  Whitfield’s book isn’t comprehensive — it deals with mainly central Asia and western China from about the 7th to 10th centuries.  But the way she approaches it is through the lives of the kinds of individuals you’d have met in these places during this time.  There’s a ton of information about religion, culture, art, trading, warfare, but it’s all in the context of what these people’s lives looked like.  It’s an interesting and fascinating way to present history I think.

The reason I’m researching the Silk Road:  for my fantasy novel that I want to write some day, I want it sent in a diverse and tolerant culture.  This means not medieval Europe.  Are there medieval examples of religiously diverse and tolerant cultures?  Why yes, along the Silk Road — because it turns out people can be diverse and tolerant when there’s an economic benefit in doing so.  Who knew?

 

yet another RIP

March 13, 2015

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of mourning lately.

I was having a crappy week anyway — various sucker-punchy things happened last week, and I’m still trying to get over them.  And then the news about Sir Terry Pratchett came.  I was already low, and the defenses caved.  I haven’t been able to stop crying.

The odd thing is I haven’t ready very many of his books.  (I need to read more — I know about Angua but I haven’t read any of her books yet and I really really should.)  You see, I’m less a fan of his writing than I am a fan of him as a human being.  I remember one Worldcon seeing him on a panel about traditional fantasy, and he used the phrase “consensus medieval fantasy” — that particular brand of pseudo-historical medievalism that so many fantasy novels seem rooted in.  Isn’t that just brilliant?  And then a few years ago at Capclave, he stopped by to do a sudden unscheduled talk, and I ditched the panel I was supposed to be on to go hear him, which I don’t regret at all.  And toward the end he went on this glorious rant about the word “awesome.”  About how us Americans completely misuse the word.  Awesome ought to be reserved for gods and demons appearing out of the ether with lightning bolts — that’s awesome!  But instead we use it for everything!

It feels like we’ve lost someone really important.  I know he’s been ill for a long time and we knew it was coming.  But it’s still really hard.

The sky where I’m at is very gray and gloomy today.  I hope it rains. I could use a good rain.

 

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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