- Fri, 13:56: RT @dragonflyautumn: Fascinating innovation in child birth. Plastic bag to replace forceps. - http://t.co/l5sxFY42BS
- Fri, 19:43: RT @Lisa_Wilkinson: "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." #RIPNelsonMandela 1918 - 2013
- Sat, 09:27: Nobody move! I've lost my motivation... *looks around*
Life is so hectic at the moment that I’m barely able to get a blog post out a month. I’d like to blame the kids, but really I’ve spent most of my time playing and discussing and giggling over the worst cricket game ever made. Ashes 2013:
I’ve also recorded a new episode of Writer and The Critic with my lovely co-host Kirstyn McDermott. That should be dropping into people’s RSS Feeds or equivalent in a couple of days. And I have been reading. Quite a few books actually. Here’s what I thought of them.
Books You Should Go Out and Buy Right Now and Read!!!!!
I’m going to say more about this book on a future episode of Writer and The Critic, but in short I loved it. It’s a crime novel set in the 80′s that involves communism, the Occult and a soupcon of Chasidism (it’s the first novel I’ve ever read that references Qlipha. Madonna would be proud!). Dawn is a fucking awesome character. Not because she’s in your face or wields katanas or ‘takes no shit from anyone’. But because she’s angry – justifiably so given her fucked family situation – and it’s her anger and frustration that fuels the narrative. There’s no redemption here and no sweet endings. Instead what we get is a short novel with the impact of a sledgehammer to the face.
Trucksong by Andrew MacRae
Just like the Mamatas this book isn’t about redemption or happy endings. And like the Mamatas there’s an anger that drives the narrative (though nowhere near the intensity of Love Is The Law). I’m generally not a fan of post apocalyptic novels, I think Cormac McCarthy’s The Road says everything that needs to be said about what happens to society after the shit hits the fan. But with Trucksong I make an exception. Partly it’s because of the world building on display. The post cyberpunk vibe of self aware trucks and gigacities and the fusion between body and silicon. This is the only novel you’ll ever read that has trucks shagging each other. But really I loved this book because on a sentence by sentence level the writing is beautiful and the language – the ocker-isms that litter the novel and the neologisms – give the story a genuine sense of place. This is Australian science fiction at its best.
Five Autobiographies and a Fiction by Lucius Shepard.
Lucius Shepard is genuinely one of the best writers in the SF/F/H field. And I don’t mean that he writes really cool stories but that the actual writing has a depth and complexity that you simply don’t find in most genre work. This is a collection of six novella / novelettes. While I didn’t love all of the pieces in the collection, I was never disappointed by the writing. If you haven’t read Shepard before – and you really should – this is as good a starting point as any.
Honorable Mentions But Still Very Much Recommended
Time Travel. Martian kibbutzim. A robot Golda Meir. This short novel is extraordinary – a bizarre mix of Burroughs, Bradbury and PKD. And while the ending for me was a confused and surreal mess (I probably need to reread it), the questions it raises about how the Holocaust changed the Jewish people are thought provoking. In many ways it’s a very personal novel and possibly (though maybe not) you need to be Jewish or Israeli to get the full impact.
It’s described as a novel, but it’s more a novella. It’s my first taste of Daniel Woodrell and I’ll be coming back for more. It’s based on a true story of a dance hall in the Ozarks that burned down in the late 20s killing 42 people. The little snippets describing the goings on of some of the people who died in the fire are heart breaking. The language and lyricism of the novella might be off putting for some (I’d read a sample) but it hit the spot for me.
Maybe you need to be Irish to appreciate all the jokes, but I still found plenty to laugh at. I’d describe this as Ireland’s answer to Forrest Gump but that would be a massive insult to what’s a smart, satirical novel that even foreshadows the Global Financial Crisis. I’m still tossing up on the funniest bit of the novel – the bit where our main character is mistaken for Stephen Hawking or when he has sex on a camel. I’ll definitely be buying the sequel.
I didn’t hate it and at times I enjoyed it. But I’m not sure I totally appreciate what Harrison is doing here. Maybe after reading Empty Space the penny will drop.
I normally enjoy Fowler’s work but this simply didn’t do it for me. For a thriller it’s far too long and there are too many side steps and tangents. Just as I thought the book was picking up pace, the novel would stop dead to describe a part of London or reflect on the main character’s shopping habits. Unlike Joanne Harris’, who in the foreword questions why this book never found a market (given how AWESOME is it), I think I know the answer. It lacks focus and never seems to be entirely clear on what it wants to be. Because it’s Fowler it’s readable and at times enjoyable. But only read it if your a die hard fan of his work.
Mirrored from The Hysterical Hamster.
If I had my druthers, I would so live in the Mission.
Tragically, I am in fact drutherless in this regard, for want of a million dollars or so. Hey-ho. But I'm here now, which is niceness enough; and I'm meeting m'wife later and we're going for dinner with friends; and meantime I am not short of work to do, nor of the impetus to do it.
I have decided to declare this PeBoFiPe, or Pebofipe for easier typing: which as any fule will recognise must stand for Personal Book(s) Finishing Period. Far be it from me to call on the rest of any nation to get its act together and see stuff done; this applies strictly to my own self and none other. Before Xmas, I want to have my two currently contracted books settled and gone (that's Story Road, the collection of short stories for Lethe Press, and Being Small, the novel(la) for Per Aspera). And then comes the new year, and the drive to see Kipling finished with Mars. He's an old man; he needs to get home and see Carrie...
Basically, although it looks like a list, what they've done is go the tag route. That's the "science fiction and fantasy" tag, but if you click on ANHoD there, you'll find it's also tagged "love stories," "for history lovers," and "it's all geek to me." (You can also read Annalee Newitz' recommendation.) Anyway, this is pretty awesome -- like, "it has apparently had a measurable effect on sales" levels of awesome.
Plus there's also this: A Natural History of Dragons was picked as one of the top 15 books of the year by Slate.com's book editor Dan Kois. Put that together with the Goodreads semifinalist thing, and the fact that there are still new reviews coming in at a steady pace, and, well, see the title of the post. Quite chuffed. Quite, quite chuffed. It's good encouragement to have as I tackle the dreaded Middle of the Book for #3.
This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/604026.h
The dogs love this weather. Al could play out in the snow all day. Penny prefers to spend her time inside by the fire. We ended up with somewhere between 4.5 and 6 inches of snow, which gave me a chance to wear the fancy new boots.
OK, they're not all that fancy; they're from Payless. But they keep my feet warm.
In honor of the snow, we set up our tree and used the 'white' ornaments. Yes, the tree is on top of the TV armoire. It's a 4 footer, and the star is too heavy and needs to be replaced.
Those ornaments all used to go on our big 8' tree (since we have the dogs, we got rid of that tree) so they're too large for this tree. We also haven't set up the second tree (the colorful one with homemade ornaments) since we got the dogs, and probably won't until the dogs are geriatric.
The blue ornaments are new this year. I was taking those to the Meet and Greet event I was supposed to attend in DFW Saturday, but since I've decided not to risk 8 hours of questionable roads, I went ahead and put them on the tree. We were supposed to bring some ornaments related to our books, so this was my best shot. Blue for the old blue-and-white flag of Portugal (it wasn't green and red until 1911 or so.) I suspect it looks more like Hanukah/Christmas hybrid tree...
And look, I’m back again already, with more news fit to be shared.
NEW SALE! – This is actually one I forgot to mention last time. Shame on me! I sold my urban fantasy story, “Keys” to the anthology, A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court, edited by Scott Sandridge, to be released by Seventh Star Press, in 2014. I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome it is that this story finally has a home. When the time comes, I’ll devote a post to its long and strange history.
NEW PUBLICATION! – My short-short, “The ‘Tilly’ Crown Affair” appears in the Cleis anthology, xoxo: Sweet and Sexy Romance, edited by Kristina Wright. The release date for this collection bounced around somewhat, originally targeted for February 14th before being moved to January, but reports are in that the book is actually available from Amazon…now, in print, with ebook to come on December 16th. Another great stocking stuffer for those with a naughty side! For those of you who might possibly remember my story, “Love on a Real Train” from the Sacchi Green-edited Girl Fever, this story also features my movie-obsessed lesbian couple, Charlene and Tilly, as they sex up another classic movie scene…
NEW REVIEW! – My review of Ben Bova’s Mars, Inc.: The Billionaire’s Club, has gone live on Tor.com.
Hopefully, I’ll have more news for you soon. Hey, it could happen.
Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:
“Self” Publishing: It Takes a Team (Elizabeth Weed) http://writerunboxed.com/2013/12/06/self-p
Approaching Messy First Drafts (Elizabeth Spann Craig) http://elizabethspanncraig.com/1559/appr
The Fierce Urgency of Now (Discoverability Part 3) (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
Imaginary Audience: 6 Tips on Envisioning Your Readership (Robbie Blair)
We Have to Believe (Rachelle Gardner)
Keeping a Professional Distance From our Book (Elizabeth Spann Craig)
On Third-Party Queriers or "Agent-agents", and Sapsuckers (Jennifer Laughran)
Don't Fall For Vanity Radio (Victoria Strauss)
Readers Aren't Elephants (Kathryn Lilley)
Pay Proper Attention to Your Bio (Jane Friedman)
The hardest thing an agent does (Janet Kobobel Grant)
If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2012, and last week’s list.
If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time). Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.