a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
other gardeners 
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
Slowly this room begins to look like someone lives here. Yesterday, with [livejournal.com profile] gaudior's help, I moved the desk and the dresser into their rightful locations; today I put away all my clothes that were in garbage bags, leaving only one bag of clean sheets and towels (I really want a tiny linen chest) and the suitcase and black travel bag of good clothes, which would ordinarily be on hangers in a closet except that the closet currently contains stuff belonging to my cousins, including the ramshackle bookcase that threatened to fall forward everywhere else in the room we tried it. Tonight I set up my sound system and the mermaid lamp on my desk. There's still clutter, but some of it is unavoidable; I am sharing the room with boxes of my cousins' manga, which Gaudior stacked into a neat half-ziggurat against the wall so that I could jigsaw my luggage into it. The rest came with me and will get sorted in the next few days. I had enough of boxes lying around the floor during this last move.

[livejournal.com profile] nineweaving sent me a radio ghost:


I miss my cats.
2 October 2015 18:23 - PSA
coffeeandink: (world domination)
The Best of C.L. Moore is currently free at Amazon, and you should get it if for "Vintage Season" alone.

C.L. = Catherine Lucille. First publication "Shambleau," 1933.

But we all know women didn't write sf before like 2010, right.
2 October 2015 11:58 - The Martian
wcg: (Default)
Leslie and I went to see the midnight showing of The Martian last night. The movie is a very good film adaptation of Andy Weir's book, and I recommend both to anyone reading this. Most of you are interested in science fiction, and it's great at that. But beyond the quality SF, it's also a story about good people doing difficult things.

Waxing Lyrical )
2 October 2015 12:02 - In case anyone was wondering
If the notion that no cat would be stupid/malicious enough to pee on a surge protector ever achieves urban legend levels of popularity, let me assure anyone from Snopes that this is FALSE.

Thankfully, all cats are fine.

Our cable box/DVR, not so much. Ditto the surge protector itself.

Main suspect is Bash, due to the fact that A) he likes to pee on things, and B) he's nicknamed Murder Cat for a reason, and shorting electronics on a carpet is a great way to burn down the house. Charlotte is also a suspect, as she's not above peeing on things either. Whisper's probably not guilty.

Of all the electronics that could have fried, this was the best choice. It was also good that the house did not burn down.

Anyway, that was yesterday's excitement. Bonus for my discovering things in the dark, and dealing with figuring out what had happened while being unable to reset the circuit until after the surge protector had been unplugged.
2 October 2015 10:26 - Three! Three! cases of books!
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
It's amazing how much easier shifting large quantities of books is if I use the proper tools.
1 October 2015 22:19 - "Make a house a home"
rosefox: A half-completed game where one organizes jumbled dots. (order)
Right now, our fourth room is our guest room. We have a big pull-out couch in there, and a couple of bookcases that are currently full of kids' books.

Somehow, we need to turn it into the baby's room. That means we need to get bookcases out of J's room and the guest room, get the couch out of the guest room and put it in J's room, build a crib and changing table and rocking chair and kid-size cabinet/closet, and move some of the bookcases back in.

J is able-bodied and fairly strong. R is somewhat able-bodied and not terribly strong. X is quite pregnant. This is more than we can really do on our own.

So! If you're available to come to our apartment (in Brooklyn, very near the Utica Ave stop on the 3/4) and help us move heavy things around on Sunday October 25 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., we would greatly appreciate the help. We will gladly pay you in delicious food and drinks, free books, and even bookcases if you'd like them. The books and bookcases are perfectly good; we just don't have room for the latter, so we're divesting ourselves of the former (and replacing them in digital).

If you're not up for lifting heavy things, come over anyway! You can keep us company, cheer us on, entertain us, go out for more chips, or just take books away. It'll be a fun little low-key party.

Usual apartment warnings apply: we have three cats (who will be shut away for the duration of the movinatin'), and we're up one fairly steep flight of stairs.

Please comment or email and let us know if you'll be joining us!
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
"He was an old man—at least fifty [...]"

(stares coldly at novel)
swan_tower: (Default)

I was busy enough in early August that I completely forgot to make my book log post for July’s reading. Then in early September, I was on a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean. So you get a SUPER-SIZED THREE MONTH EDITION! . . . which is still approximately the size of some people’s one-month edition. Oh well.

Onward to the books!

Arabella of Mars, David Levine. Read for blurbing purposes, and the author is a friend. The book is a splendid YA adventure that marries Napoleonic nautical adventure to Edgar Rice Burroughs under the auspices of a girl protagonist, and I already want somebody to write crossover fic blending it with Chaz Brenchley’s “Old Mars” setting (which presently exists only in short stories, so far as I know, but I eagerly await the novel). A race to prevent a murder collides with an interspecies conflict as the native inhabitants of Mars rise up against their colonial overlords. Fun.

Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver. I picked this up for the “Age of Empire” part and wound up reading the whole brick, which tells you something. Takeaway: HOLY SHIT MOUNTAINEERS ARE CRAZY. Seriously. Do not read if you are bothered by people losing bits to frostbite or just saying “yeah, okay, so thirty people have already died trying to reach the top of this mountain but let’s give it another shot.” Or by the section where they talk about women mountaineers and the sheer, gobsmacking sexism of one Galen Rowell, who not only tried to hold the women who summited Annapurna to a standard none of the men were expected to meet — not only made slimy innuendo about their sexual behavior — but did so in a letter he signed with his girlfriend’s name because “it would carry more weight.” Ahem. Anyway, good book.

Another, Yukito Ayatsuji. I no longer have my copy, so I can’t note the translator’s name. Japanese YA horror novel. I came very near to putting it down and not coming back, because dear sweet baby Zeus it took its own sweet time getting to the point where you learned anything concrete about the weird stuff going on. I’m also not sure how much of what bugged me about the narration is the author’s style, how much is the translator’s style, and how much is just Japanese doing its thing. I suspect a lot of the elliptical sentences where the characters hem and haw around things without quite saying them is a reflection of Japanese, but the (first person) text also had a habit of stepping back oddly to report what it had just done: the protagonist would ask a question, and then the narration would say “That was the question I asked her.” Etc. Interesting to read, but not really my cuppa overall, especially since the entire plot hinges on a specific unreliability on the part of the narrator. Which is why I no longer have the book on my shelves.

Elfquest, the Final Quest, vol. 1, Wendy and Richard Pini. . . . look, I can’t review this, okay? Partly because single volumes of graphic novels are pretty slight things and don’t leave me with much to say, but mostly because it’s Elfquest and I’m not very objective. I’ll try to say things when the whole story is done, but that won’t be for a long time.

Two Serpents Rise, Max Gladstone. I agree with those who say it isn’t as strong as Three Parts Dead, largely due to the leading characters: I am very difficult to sell on “I just met this person and now I’m totally obsessed with them.” On the other hand, this one pretty much had me at Aztecs. The city of Dresediel Lex is heavily based on Mesoamerican societies, with little reflections of that squirreled away in every corner of the worldbuilding, and the protagonist is the son of a priest a generation after the war against the gods left his father without a job. But the morality isn’t black and white: instead of torturing and murdering humans to keep the world going, now they torture and murder gods. Is that better? How about the ways in which Dresediel Lex is wildly out of balance with its environment, sucking down water faster than it can be replaced, and the price of that gets passed along to society’s lower classes in ways that are less obvious than cutting out their hearts but maybe not much kinder? Is it really justifiable to refuse to allow even voluntary self-sacrifice? (And if not, how can you be sure it’s really voluntary?) I said about the previous book that I would call it grimdark based on content but not on tone; that continues to be true. Gladstone explores the thorny edges of morality without assuming that everybody’s a shitheel at heart. I will definitely go on reading.

Gemsigns, Stephanie Saulter. So, I finished this book and promptly went to my computer to email Saulter and ask whether she wanted to blurb Chains and Memory (which she did, yay). Because this is a book about the gifts and disabilities of a genetic minority, and the question of where the line is between appropriate regulation and unacceptable abridgement of their human rights. Which is more or less what C&M is about. Plus it’s really good; it does an excellent job of balancing the larger-scale issue (the legal emancipation and protection of “gems,” genetically engineered humans who used to be the property of the firms that made them) with the more intimate stories of the actual people involved. I saw the big reveal with a certain character coming a long way off, but that’s okay — it was still effective. I need to pick up the sequel.

The Martian, Andy Weir. I basically picked up this one on the strength of an XKCD comic, because that is me yes sign me up. I could criticize the writing in some respects; these days I am very alert to the challenges of writing the sort of first person narration where the protagonist is consciously telling their story to someone, and there were places where I think Weir could have done a better job shaping Mark Watney’s recordings to sound like the way a person would actually record their thoughts. (Also, there were some very jarring shifts in the third-person sections of the book, though I’m not sure how much of that was an issue of ebook formatting — there may be breaks in the print edition.) However, all of that should come with the salt of “and then I devoured it in a single sitting.” Take that for what you will. :-)

Not Our Kind, ed. Nayad Monroe. Anthology; I think I backed a Kickstarter? <lol> It’s difficult to remember which books came from what source. Short stories about alien perspectives. I’m bad at reviewing anthologies without going through them story by story; it pretty much always boils down to “I liked some of these and didn’t like others.”

The Confusion, Neal Stephenson. Lordy, I don’t even remember when I started reading this one. Possibly February of last year, which is when I finally finished Quicksilver, though I said then that I was going to take a break, so maybe not. I know that by the time I picked this up again on my vacation, I had utterly lost track of what was going on. Then I remembered that I had described the previous book as “a giant pile of words and characters and events and places and historical tidbits [which] wanders vaguely in the direction of several different things that might, in the hands of a different writer, be a plot.” And you know, if I wasn’t sure what was going on while it was fresh in my mind, it didn’t much matter if I didn’t know what was going on now. So I kept reading, and it kept being amusing, even though I really don’t know where the hell it’s going in a more macro sense. If you like Stephenson and historical fiction and don’t mind a whole lot of rambling, these are excellent. Otherwise, probably not for you.

The Check Your Luck Agency, KS Augusin (Cara d’Bastian). I bought the omnibus ebook on somebody’s recommendation; so far I have only finished the first volume. Not sure if I’ll keep reading. The concept sounded great: the protagonist Ursula Formosa works for a business in Singapore that “checks your luck,” i.e. investigates to find out whether your sudden good or bad fortune has a supernatural cause. Nineteen times out of twenty, it’s utterly mundane. The twentieth . . . unfortunately, the story is kind of shapeless, especially when you take each volume on its own. There’s a case, which turns out to be non-supernatural. Then Ursula gets recruited for a TV show, which has zero connection to the first half of the book. Oh, by the way, all that time she spent telling you she doesn’t believe in ghosts and the supernatural? Apparently she can see ghosts. And she admits they’re real. Which would be fine if she expressed disbelief to the other characters, but she expresses it in her own head, too, in ways that don’t actually read like her being in denial, and then she’s like “oh yeah ghosts are actually real and I can see them.” I like the setting detail; it’s pretty clear the author knows Singapore well, though she’s uncomfortably prone to broad generalizations about Asians en masse. But the story really isn’t hooking me, and the writing isn’t, either.

The Islands of Chaldea, Diana Wynne Jones (finished by Ursula Jones). I don’t know where DWJ’s sister picked up the manuscript to finish it, but I do know that I can feel the difference. The ending felt rushed, a few too many revelations coming up too rapidly, with not enough time for their implications to breathe. Still and all: I had to read it, and I’m glad I did.

Living in Japan: A Guide to Living, Working, and Traveling in Japan, Joy Norton and Tazuko Shibusawa. This is specifically a book about the arc of culture shock (and reverse culture shock when you go home), written by people with a counseling practice who deal with those issues a lot. Its major flaw is that it’s really, really short: I would have loved to see it fleshed out with example scenarios, rather than just mentioning “people may have trouble with X” and then moving on.

Turbulence, Samit Basu. I think Rachel Manija Brown recommended this one. A plane full of people on a flight from London to Delhi all get superpowers based on their dreams: this ranges from a supersoldier to a little girl who is a full-bore anime magical girl. It’s amusing, though it has a substantially higher body count than the tone led me to expect. I wish it had delved further into the ethical questions it raised; possibly the sequels will do so? One of the characters can basically control all kinds of digital stuff, and at one point he decides he’s tired of waiting around for the others to get their act together and do stuff to improve the world, so he goes and starts flinging money around online, bankrupting bad people and giving their money to good causes. Then he finds out this has backfired and made things worse and led to a lot of people dying. I wanted the story to keep going with that, but instead it dropped that aspect and went for a more conventional showdown — with the characters questioning the entire “conventional showdown” motif the whole way, but still, it kept going. And then it ended with some wildly unaddressed questions about the ethics of mind-control powers. So, entertaining but uneven. Also, the text is unfortunately riddled with comma splices, to the point where I had to keep reminding myself the book wasn’t self-published. The copyeditor must have been asleep at the wheel.

Writing Fight Scenes, Marie Brennan. I needed to fix an error in the ebook, and wound up finding several more as I went through.

Himalayan Circuit: A Journey in the Inner Himalayas, G.D. Khosla. A slim book from the ’50s, written by an Indian civil servant who participated in an expedition to some remote valleys for official purposes. If you want to write about that kind of terrain, he has excellent descriptions of the landscape, though he only touches on the inhabitants relatively briefly. It’s also surprisingly hilarious in places, like his extended description of what it’s like to ride a tiny Himalayan pony.

In the Labyrinth of Drakes, Marie Brennan. Page proofs.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

1 October 2015 09:00 - See the Lights
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The last three shows of the tour were bam-bam-bam, a weekend three-fer, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. San Diego, Costa Mesa, and San Francisco. (Well, Mountainview, technically.)

We rolled up the the San Diego Sports Arena at midday and I could see the crew was there but not the band, unless they had somewhere to hide the bus, which seemed doubtful since the venue was another one of those concrete places in the middle of a big parking lot.

Venue security stopped us in said parking lot, actually, and seemed to think it was necessary to make sure we weren’t some kind of interlopers, which seemed odd.

Read the rest of this entry » )
1 October 2015 09:16 - sick
jinian: (algae)
I am sick. Being sick is no fun. I rested yesterday, but now I feel worse. Must get the rent check downstairs today. Kinda too shaky and feverish to be doing that just at this moment. Nyquil, my old nemesis, let's do this.
1 October 2015 07:56 - Not quite retired
wcg: (Default)
No, sh*t, there I was...

All ready to turn in my ID card and depart the NASA satellite ops world for good, when my cell phone rang.

It was the vice-president of my company, informing me that the project scientist for the mission I'm currently supporting had come up with a six week contract extension to keep me around, if I'd be willing to stay until mid-November.

We talked a bit about things I've been planning to do in October, and he agreed that I could certainly do them all. So I said yes. I'll be a working space cadet for six more weeks.
1 October 2015 07:53 - Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!
wcg: (Default)

Happy Kalends of Octobris!

Are you ready for the October Horse?
1 October 2015 12:23 - Friday before the AFL Grand Final
reddragdiva: (domesticity)

that's literally the official name of a new public holiday in victoria.

i used to live here, about 500 metres from the mcg. every friday night, saturday (twice) and sunday (twice) in winter, people desperate for parking for the footy would literally park in the middle of the street just ‘cos they could, and never mind anyone who e.g. lived there and had a car.

i became an ardent non-fan of football that year (1999), and also city of yarra traffic wardens became my greatest heroes. i’d call and encourage them to come over for rich pickings. at the time parking fines were something like 20% of the city of yarra’s income, and it couldn’t have come from more deserving targets.

i slightly miss many of my past houses, but not that one ‘cos it was a fucking dump and so was that bit of richmond in general. it was cheap because it was scheduled for demolition just as soon as (unspecified shonky financial shenanigans). i think it was still there when i left melbourne in 2002. otoh, we rented the third bedroom to friends for their serious-level SCA costume-making and antique sewing machine. (they lived 75m away on punt road in a teeny flat.) we literally had a robot housemate that never ate, spoke or left its room but paid rent. that bit was perfect.

though that is an awesomely ‘strayan official title for a holiday.

and in conclusion, fuck football. and traffic wardens are great and you should give one a smile today.

sovay: (Rotwang)
Rabbit, rabbit. I am safely installed in [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks and [livejournal.com profile] gaudior's spare room, which at the moment looks like an explosion in a transient hotel, but will look significantly better tomorrow after I have had a chance to relocate the desk and the dresser into their proper corners and unpack some of the suitcases and garbage bags. I have brought four pieces of art with me, including the one I trash-picked in July and now feel responsible for; I have my mezuzah and the little bronze fascinum and Doppel-Abbie, because the live cats are with [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel and I will arrange to visit them as soon as I can. It turns out that I own seventy-four white Staples boxes of books and at least one brown packing box that mostly contains The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and none of them are here with me, because if there were seventy-odd boxes of books in this room, there wouldn't be room for me. (I have a few books. I always have books. The selection widened from Kipling, Wittgenstein, and Yolen to include Ursula K. Le Guin's The Wind's Twelve Quarters (1975) and Katharine Butterworth and Sara Schneider's Rebetika: Songs from the Old Greek Underworld, of which I may or may not manage to read any before my body notices it's now past five o'clock in the morning and I have to be awake before two in the afternoon to let in the technician from RCN.) I have the futon while the frame is in storage. I have the box of Comcast equipment, which must be returned to them posthaste before they charge me the equivalent cost. I have a highly random selection of objects which turned up at the eleventh hour of packing out, like the immersion blender both Rob and I had forgotten we owned. I do not have Rob, and this will take some getting used to. This is a separation of circumstance rather than a declaration of intent, but even so. It is my birthday month and everything is in a strange liminal state, neither here nor there nor in any way settled. I am going to try to sleep for real for the first time in nearly three days. The move is over.
yhlee: go game (baduk, wei qi) (baduk 1 (photo: ISa [Flickr])
- recent reading
Donald Maass. Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling. I've read a couple other of Maass's books and liked them. I checked the Amazon reviews before purchasing this one for my Kindle DX because apparently there is some repeated material between books, and I decided I wanted to go with this particular one. (My library didn't have the ones I was interested in.)

Joe rather charmingly but bewilderingly thinks that I am beyond the need for writing how-to books. I guess he's allowed to flatter me because he's my spouse? I don't think he realizes how obscure I am, but then when he gets published (co-author on LIGO papers) he's listed as one of like 500 (!) authors listed in alphabetical order with around 100 footnotes to indicate institution-of-allegiance because LIGO is this collaborative effort. So I suppose it's all relative. Anyway, he demanded to know why the hell I was blowing money on a writing how-to book and I said Maass heads the agency I'm with (which is true; my specific agent is Jennifer Jackson) and he said, "Ah, you're researching your agency." Well, not exactly. But if that makes him feel better about my spending money on professional development, so be it.

(It is true that many writing how-to books strike me as too basic to be worth spending money on, but that doesn't mean all of them are that way, or that I am done learning! In an ideal world I could get to more workshops, but, goddammit, I live out in Louisiana and I cannot seem to find useful workshoppy things out here, and I have a limited travel budget. :/ )

Maass identifies what he believes are the characteristics of successful modern fiction, analyzes examples from a variety of genres (from literary to romance to mystery to fantasy to...you get the idea), and gives exercises at the end of each section or chapter to be applied to your own writing. I am personally allergic to the mechanistic use of exercises, so I just read through them. That being said, a lot of the techniques Maass describes are sound.

The current long project I have going is revising Revenant Gun (trilogy #3), and I wanted to look at this book for ideas on things to fix. Happily, while I'm not going to go through all the damn exercises, I did get a number of ideas on things that I can work in. You know, in my copious free time. Good: it's not due until early 2017; the game takes priority because it has the earlier deadlines. But I want at least to make revision notes and fix the outline, because the current draft not only has structural problems but is uncomfortably short. My agent had me add something like 10,000 words to Ninefox Gambit before she shopped it around. I just seem to consistently write short, which means making up the shortfall in revisions. I had better luck hitting target wordcount with Raven Stratagem, but that was because of its structure, and even then I ended up having to add some chapters.

Anyway, [personal profile] daidoji_gisei, you might enjoy this, if you can get it at the library. For my part, I don't regret the purchase. Yay ebooks!

Meanwhile, I would like to stop being sick so that I can concentrate on producing words in whatever medium. All I got done today was watching TV and reading.

- recent viewing
Archer through S5. Read more... )
30 September 2015 21:22
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
Bad: I'm a didactic writer.

Good: At least I have the benefit of clarity?
30 September 2015 20:24 - huh
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Did Jean Valjean have adamantium claws in the stage version?
30 September 2015 19:30 - Read for Pixels Hangout Video
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Writing Update: I think I may need to put Project Bob on hold for a little bit. It’s a pretty serious (for me) book, and I feel like I need to do something goofy. I need to go full goblin. The book pitch I sent to my agent would be goblin-level humor (while at the same time being significantly different from any books I’ve written before.) So while I wait to hear back on that, I think I’m going to set Bob aside for now, and work on a few shorter, sillier things I’ve had on my list.

They won’t be goblins, though. So for the sake of clarity, let’s call this batch of fiction Project Orc.

Project Orc should be interesting. It’s both very similar and entirely different from what I’ve written before, and I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to publish or talk about it.

Read for Pixels: I’ve been part of the Read for Pixels campaign to end violence against women. I’ve given away two autographed books, and have additional goodies coming up soon.

I also took part in a Google Hangout, talking about women and girls in pop culture, sexism and harassment, and answering questions about whether or not I’m going to keep the shaved-head look going.

For those who might be interested, I also read a snippet from Revisionary

I should warn folks that said snippet does spoil a few changes that happen in book three. I also thought it gave a nice peek at Isaac and Nidhi in action.

We had a few technical glitches where the connection died. I don’t know if that was on my end, theirs, or if it was simply a bunch of internet goblins making mischief.

Direct link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgBKhDA8WVk if for some reason the embedding doesn’t work.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

30 September 2015 10:58 - The Onyx Court is coming to the UK!
swan_tower: (*writing)

I’m delighted to announce that Titan Books, publishers of the Memoirs of Lady Trent in the UK, will also be bringing the Onyx Court to its homeland!

Long-time readers may recall that the first two books of the series were published there by Orbit UK back in the day, but the mid-series publisher shift meant the latter two never saw UK shelves. Titan have picked up the entire series and, as you can see from the above, are reissuing them with splendid new covers — not to mention UK spelling and date formatting, like God and the Queen intended. ;-) My understanding is that they’ll be coming out in rapid succession, on a three-month cycle, so by early 2017 you’ll have the whole set. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hold ’em in my hands!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

pantryslut: (Default)
This week's Earworm Weekly is on the gender politics of Linda Ronstadt's version of "Different Drum": http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2015/09/29/earworm-weekly-a-different-drum . Did you know that "Different Drum" was written by Michael Nesmith of Monkees fame?

Today is the twins' 7th birthday. Later this afternoon I go in to school with fruit kabobs to celebrate. We have been reading "The Last Unicorn" together, as you may recall. It's been decades since read this book, and I think the dark sardonic side of it -- especially the dialog! -- went completely over my head at the time. It's certainly going over the kids' heads, despite my attempts to relay the tone, at least, via dramatic interpretation. But we are all loving it.

I've also started reading Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas by Kazuki Sakuraba. I'm definitely intrigued so far.

At the bookstore, I am getting ready to put up my Staff Picks. So much pressure! I'm pretty sure I can handle it.
30 September 2015 10:33 - Disability in the Change series
rachelmanija: (Default)
Sherwood and I posted on disability in the Change series at Diversity in YA.

Everything I write stems from personal experience, even if it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where people have mutant powers and the trees can eat you.
ceciliatan: (default)

I’m pleased to announce that Volume Eight of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles will be released in ebook and paperback on November 10th!

I’m trying something new: pre-orders will be at $2.99 and on the first day, and then it will go up to $5.99! So get it for half price by ordering it right away!

Pre-orders are live in the major ebook stores:
Apple iTunes/iBooks
Barnes & Noble

The cover reveal will be on October 15th, with the launch of the book on November 10th. Bloggers, if you want to be part of either the reveal or the launch events, contact my publicity folks via this link: Rock Star Lit P.R.

Meanwhile, paperbacks of all the individual ebook volumes are coming, too! Vols 1 and 2 have been available since last year, but I finally finished volumes three through seven, too! I’ll post links once those are all live as well!

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

29 September 2015 21:26 - heads I win, tails you lose
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
This is for my friends who have daughters.

The other day the Junebug's daycare class did some small group activity that involved the three-to-five-year-olds taking turns using a limited number of tools. At pickup, his teacher took the time to tell me that the Junebug was very insistent about making sure that everybody took turns and nobody cut in line.

If anyone ever tells you that your daughter is "bossy" because of behavior like this, please note that the teacher described my son as "helpful" and having "great social skills".
29 September 2015 21:40 - "Spending their lives down a hole"
rosefox: A silver spoon labeled "my very last, very small spoon". (exhausted)
Our September to-do list got kind of overwhelming, so we pushed some things to October. This was totally necessary and the right thing to do.

Now it's the end of September, and I'm looking at our October to-do list. It's terrifying.

But technically I don't have to think about it for another 36 hours or so. So I'm going to try to pretend it's not there.
sovay: (Claude Rains)
I am not sure what factors dictated TCM's choice of Powell and Pressburger tomorrow, but I am not complaining about any eleven-hour block of programming which allows me access to The Spy in Black (1939), Contraband (1940), I Know Where I'm Going! (1945), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), and Night Ambush (1957), better known by its original, book-compliant title Ill Met by Moonlight. I've never seen the last of these. It was the last collaboration of Powell and Pressburger under the banner of the Archers; it's based on the kidnapping of General Heinrich Kreipe by the SOE in 1944, meaning it stars Dirk Bogarde as Patrick Leigh Fermor and I can assure you I find this just as confusing as you do. I've been curious about it for years and it has always been impressively obscure.1 No longer! Luckily, despite the change in title, it looks from the runtime as though it's the original British cut rather than the shortened American version. Otherwise I don't get to look for a blink-and-miss-it cameo from pre-Hammer, real-life SOE agent Christopher Lee. The first two films, meanwhile, give you a double feature of Valerie Hobson and Conrad Veidt, if you like that sort of thing, which I think everyone should.

I find it manifestly unreasonable that there are something like half a dozen arthouse theaters in this city and none of them has ever run a Powell and Pressburger retrospective, at least not since 2007 when I started caring. I think it is actually one of my life's goals to see A Canterbury Tale (1944) on a big screen. It's some of the most beautiful black-and-white photography I know. Also, time.

1. Speaking of obscure, how in God's name did I avoid noticing until now that Ralph Richardson starred as himself in a propaganda short by the Archers? I don't care if it's flag-waving, I'm really curious. He was a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm from 1939 to 1944. I'm just not sure his crash record was the sort of thing that would encourage recruitment. [edit] The protagonist is fictional, that's how. I admit I would have been entertained by the alternative.
29 September 2015 17:52 - surely
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
Someone, somewhere used the character name Dex Machina?
29 September 2015 16:49 - Day One, Part III
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

First came my very first day as a full-time writer.

Then came the first day of school for the kids, meaning I actually had my first day to myself as a full-time writer.

Today, just over four weeks since I left the day job, was the first day of my 10 hours/week job. I’d been hoping to pick this up both to provide a bit of structure to my week, and to supplement the erratic writing income.

What have I accomplished thus far? Well, I was able to turn around the revisions on Revisionary. I wrote up and submitted a pitch to DAW. And I’m up to 15,000 words on Project Bob.

There has also been a boy who was home sick for a week, followed by me getting sick. Not cool, germs. Not cool!

I remember chatting with folks about the transition. Harry Connolly wrote a guest post about apps for shutting out the internet and helping you focus on writing. A number of other writers mentioned doing the same sort of thing. And I read those posts and listened to those stories and nodded my appreciation, and somewhere in the back of my mind, I sat back all content and smug, knowing I would never need such tools. I’ve spent 15 years disciplining myself to shut out distractions and write during my lunch break…

I assume you know where this is going?

A few days ago, I was sitting down to work on Bob again. I’ve been struggling a lot with this one, and my word count reflects that. I finally forced myself to physically shut all those windows — email, social media, the works.

And damn if over the course of a single hour I didn’t double my wordcount from the previous day.

Lesson learned, thank you.

I’m also rediscovering yet again the importance of momentum. It’s so much easier to keep writing than it is to start writing. And the longer it’s been since you wrote, the harder it is to start up again.

Unfortunately, being at home during the day has led to a number of interruptions. Some are minor. Getting up to let the dogs out and back in is probably a good thing, since it periodically makes me get out of the chair and walk around a little. Constantly answering the phone last week when the entire freaking world decided it was a good time to call Casa Hines? Yeah, I’m letting at least some of those calls go to the answering machine now.

With all that said, it’s only been a month. Every week has been different. I’m hoping that as I start the part-time job, I’ll finally get closer to a stable schedule, and will be able to start strengthening some good habits and routines.

In the meantime, I’m still better-rested and generally happier than I was a month ago. Go me! :-)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

29 September 2015 09:56 - My Convolution Schedule
swan_tower: (Default)

I’ll be at Convolution this weekend, on the following items:

  • Magic Vs. Religion (Friday 2-3:15)
  • To Be or Not To Be: Listening to Critique (Friday 3:30-4:45)
  • RPG Gamemastery (Saturday 10-11:15)
  • Reading 1 (Saturday 11:30-12:45)
  • Magic – Diverse Views (Sunday 10=11:15)
  • Autograph Session (Sunday 12-1)

No idea yet what I’ll read. It’s a group reading, and I’ll only have about fifteen minutes to work with, so whatever I choose, it’ll have to be short.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

29 September 2015 09:00 - Merry Go Round
ceciliatan: (darons guitar)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

So the reason Barrett was there that morning wasn’t to trigger an existential crisis in my artistic life, but to drive us to San Diego. He didn’t trust that we wouldn’t end up dead in a ditch, and given that neither Ziggy nor I had really slept an appreciable amount, I had to agree it was a wise plan. I wondered where Tony was, but I figured if I was supposed to know, they would have told me.

They had a hurried, whispered conversation while I carried my bag and guitar to the elevator. When they caught up with me I said, “You don’t have to whisper. I know I’m being moody and weird.”

Read the rest of this entry » )
[REC] 3 is generally, and rightly, considered a mess of a movie. It's not a bad zombie movie, per se, but it missed the point entirely of the first two movies, and feels like an entirely different zombie movie renamed to be a part of the franchise.

So imagine my surprise when Aimee and I decided to watch [REC] 4: Apocalypse the other night, and discovered that it was actually A) a legit sequel to the first two movies, and B) pretty decent.

The first two films, of course, are two of the better "found footage" films, as well as solid zombie movies*. They're set in a sealed apartment building, and deal with a zombie outbreak that seems to have potentially both religious and scientific origins.

The third films's just a mess of a parallel movie, detailing a supposedly related outbreak at a wedding that just doesn't fit in with the other movies.

This one follows the first two, picking up after [REC 2], with a group of government agents getting into the building and rescuing the one survivor -- Ángela -- who might or might not be the host for the strange parasite that spreads the zombie plague and which the Vatican thinks is the cause of demonic possession. After being rescued, she wakes up to find herself on a boat, along with various scientific and military personal studying her. The movie wisely abandons the first-person shakycam, but both security cameras and the footage from the first two movies play a role in the plot. There's one character who supposedly survived the massacre in the third film, but nothing about her story requires seeing that movie, thankfully.

Things go horribly awry whens someone on the boat manages to break into the scientific labs and release a monkey infected with the virus. You can probably guess the larger outline of what happens next, but it's the specifics of how the main characters (who, aside from Ángela, include a pair of soldiers, some scientists, and the ship's tech guru) deal with the outbreak that really makes the movie work. It takes the elements of the first two movies to a logical conclusion, has (as always) a number of interesting characters, and is thoroughly intense throughout. It's not as good as the first movie, but it does form a nice ending to the story, and is absolutely worth seeing if you're already invested in the series**.

*The entire series, for those who don't know, is from Spain, and stands with the original version of The Orphanage as its most notable horror success on this side of the pond in recent years, even as France and the Scandinavian countries have dominated the genre.

**Probably not the ideal starting point if you haven't seen the first two movies, mind you. See those first!
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
So our first attempt at moving furniture into storage this afternoon was delayed for several hours when the brakes on the truck with the furniture in it failed. Everyone is all right. The truck sat at the end of our street until AAA came and towed it. It was enormously inconvenient. We got another truck. Almost all of our furniture is now in storage, with the exception of some random bits of shelving, chairs, the dresser that is going to my cousins' tomorrow, and the tiny desk I am reserving to type on. The house is a wasteland of boxes and things that need to be in boxes. The cats are wandering around the wreckage with a mix of caution and adventure. The wall-shelves and the couch and all their accustomed nesting places are gone. They have claimed the hell out of the pile of brown cardboard boxes, though. We're sleeping on an air mattress tonight. There is so much kitchen left to pack, it's horrifying.

On the other side of my life: I got this terrific review from Robert Beveridge on Quora. The question was "What is the best book you have read recently? Why did you like it?" His answer:

By "have read", I will take it as "you've finished this" rather than "you're in the middle of it".

The what: Ghost Signs: Sonya Taaffe: 9781619760714: Amazon.com: Books

The why:

a. Sonya Taaffe is one of the best motherpunchin' writers in the universe and everything she writes is guaranteed to make you shiver in your boots at least once with the sheer, unadulterated beauty of it. (If you don't believe me, see if her story "Clay Lies Still", from
Singing Innocence and Experience, is reprinted anywhere on the web. Read it. If it does not make you cry, you have no soul.)

b. The first section is poetry. Poetry is pretty much an all-or-nothing exercise for me; either a poet is great or a poet is terrible. (I have often said when discussing my reviewing process that half my all-time top ten books are books of poetry...and ALL of my all-time bottom ten are.) Taaffe, from the first of her poems I read, has been among the greats. She never. misses. a beat. Ever. There are maybe half a dozen American poets working today I would put on the same level. So when I see a new book containing some of her poems, I shiver looking at the
title. (This is not an exaggeration.)

c. The second section is "The Boatman's Call", a short story. And I was going along reading it and just being buoyed along by the incredible writing, because Taaffe is just as much a great prose stylist as she is a great poet—and then we got to the climax and she tore my heart out and threw it on the floor and stomped on it with a pair of Docs (vintage 1984 natch, with red laces and the whole fucking works) and I cried my eyes out and I actually took to the intarwebs and wrote her a simple three word message: "god damn you." And I know she will know exactly what I had been doing in the ten minutes before I did so, because she's that good.

I am delighted and honored to provoke three-word messages. Technically the story is titled "The Boatman's Cure," but I don't mind being associated with a Nick Cave soundtrack. Thank you.

(There are songs associated with the characters of "The Boatman's Cure." The most minimal playlist would be: John Roberts, "The Boatman's Cure"; Cordelia's Dad, "Delia"; Buffy Sainte-Marie, "Lyke-Wake Dirge." Someday I'll try to put together a more complete list of writing music, say, whenever I answer those interview questions [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume sent me in February. That is the kind of year this has been.)
28 September 2015 22:25 - My take on the water on Mars
zandperl: Greek letter alpha (&alpha;) shaped like a "Jesus fish" with the numbers 6563 inside the loop. (Astro - H-alpha)
1) They've cried wolf enough times at this point that I'm always skeptical about every new announcement.

2) This is yet more indirect evidence - they've found visual evidence of changing patterns that could look like streams, and in the same areas spectra give the chemical "fingerprints" of assorted salts (not table salt, NaCl, but chemically similar) which as far as we know can only form in water.

To me, if the evidence is indirect, we will need a lot more of it than if we actually saw liquid H2O flowing and used spectra to confirm it was water. Right now we have circumstantial evidence of things that look like stream beds (but could be caused by other liquid solvents, or a remote chance they're caused by wind), and we a number of chemicals which as far as we know can only form in water (not only these salts, but also the hematite blueberries from a few years back). However the hypothesis "this can only form in water" is one of those things we can never actually prove true, just eliminate more and more untrue possibilities.

So to me as a watcher of all this, it's just a waiting game. If there really is liquid water, then little pieces of evidence like this (and the hematite blueberries) will continue to build up until at some point the molehill has become a mountain and it'll be generally accepted by all planetary astronomers (and then all astronomers, and then the world) that yes, there's liquid water on Mars.

3) Water is a key building block for life, so the next question is "is there life on Mars?" Assuming this liquid water exists, it is transient - it's seasonal, appearing only in local summer. If it's transient liquid water, I will need to see some pretty solid evidence to believe that there is current single-cellular life. If it's persistent liquid water I will switch over entirely and I will assume that there's single-cellular life until proven otherwise. Even if it didn't evolve on Mars, we've sent missions there and it's impossible to sterilize everything completely, plus bits of Earth have been knocked off from impacts and landed on Mars so it might've been seeded with Earth life millennia ago. If it's possible to sustain some form of life on Mars, I guarantee you that it's there.
28 September 2015 22:29 - Hmmmm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Praise for Pillar to the Sky
A riveting cautionary tale. - Booklist on One Second After
An entertaining apocalyptic thriller. - Publishers Weekly on One Second After
Good storytelling consists very simply of creating characters so believable that the reader forms a deep bond. Forstchen did such a damned fine job with One Second After that shortly after the first page, I had been reeled in hook, line, and sinker. - David Hagberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Expediter on One Second After

There are also reviews from Goodreads that do actually pertain to Pillar to the Sky but I am not sure comments like
I kept thinking this is what would have happened if, back in the 1960’s, NASA had commissioned Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein to co-write a story that would get Americans excited about space exploration... and then forgot to send it to an editor.
is praise, exactly.

And I think I know where my copy is...
28 September 2015 20:21 - How I Met Your Mother vs. Friends
zandperl: Satellite view of NYC: the city itself is mostly gray, the 'burbs green, and the water dark blue. (NYC)
I got it in my head last night that How I Met Your Mother is the same show as Friends. Ted Mosby is Ross Geller - I mean seriously, is there any aspect where they aren't the same person? They're all 20-somethings in NYC living in apartments way too large for actual NYC 20-something salaries. They're all obsessed with dating, and sometimes dating each other.

So what do you think? Discuss!
28 September 2015 19:00 - Violence: A Writer's Guide (2nd ed.)
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
I missed what photos suggest was a great lunar eclipse because of a stupid completely overcast sky. Thank you so much, Baton Rouge. :( But thank you everyone who posted glorious photos so I could experience it secondhand!

- recent reading
Rory Miller. Violence: A Writer's Guide, 2nd ed. This is mostly the same as the 1st ed. (which I reread recently) but with some additional material on things like sex-based differences in responses to violence (both conditioned/sociological and biology-based, although I wish he had more cites) and weapons psychology (i.e. the mindset it takes to use X weapon). I found it worth shelling out for the updated version. If this is something you're likely to find useful (I did), you might as well get the 2nd ed.

The Locks o' Truth - On whether you can (easily) shoot open a lock as typically depicted on movies/TV. I have been haunted by this after a throwaway line in Ninefox about shooting a lock open. I'm going to pretend it's a crappy electronic Andan lock and/or that Gized was joking, because I think it's too late to fix the manuscript.

Also, one of the things I love about Archer is that Sterling Archer compulsively counts the number of shots fired and uses this information. I have no idea whether the ammo capacities depicted are accurate, because I know damn-all little about firearms, but the fact that he isn't living in a land of weapons that have infinite ammo supplies rather endears him to me. And I love that the show has him getting tinnitus from firearms going off in his freaking ear without ear protection. I have no idea just how realistic the portrayal of hearing damage from firearms-noise is, of course, but I'm too used to TV/etc. completely ignoring the issue. Not to say that this show is particularly bent on "realism"! I mean, it also has at least one zombie cyborg. :p

Coding for the day achieved; now doing line edits on a story. If I'm really lucky I'll have time to index-card revise the outline of Revenant Gun as a reward to myself.
28 September 2015 16:27 - I gotta wear shades
metaphortunate: (ambition)
Hi ghost town! I have not been around because all my energy and time have been consumed by SWITCHING JOBS.

Let me tell you all about it. )
28 September 2015 16:06
yhlee: sleepy kitty (Cloud)
J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean:

Blue with gold sparkles! Tomoe River paper, Pelikan M200 demonstrator with a Binder artist's nib.

And I subject you to a photo of my dorky cat Cloud, who would be point if point coloration involved calico instead of dark extremities. (Well, she has a dark tail...)

My cat. <3

And now, back to coding.
This page was loaded on 4 October 2015 at 16:53 GMT.