Wednesday, May 18, 2011


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Be thine own palace, or the world's thy jail." - John Donne

As I seem to be trending blog posts on Tuesday, here we are, although I forgot to upload my pictures as I couldn't get up early enough for the gym - the goslings and the weekend trip will have to wait.

Another 1k words on the SF short today including a lot of deleting. Currently, it sits at 4,148 words. Both good and ugly things are happening in it, writing-wise, and I'm trying to let the ugly alone until at least the second draft; so far, the smoothing out I've tried to do has resulted in even more awkward dialogue and choppy, unhappy women. But there's a lot of firsts for me in this one: a same-sex relationship, a Lovecraft/Kiernan-inspired monster, and a barely-oxygenated planet, so I'm cutting myself some slack. 

I started Barker's Books of Blood last night - I can't wait for more. Also, still working my way through the Datlow anthology, but spending the weekend in Houston took a good chunk of reading time away. The good news: more thyroid meds & progesterone, so hopefully that will help!

Yesterday I found a tick on my ribcage while I was changing for a run. I haven't had a tick on me since I was about twelve years old - us kids used to get at least one a summer, maybe more, from the woods, but I wasn't impressed at all, so I drove home as quickly as I could for John to remove it. As I tried to keep from panicking that there was a parasitic creature wedging its head inside me, I realized that I had plenty of blood. In fact, the little guy saw me as a warm, useful habitat that offered nutrition and safety (because if it had known what I intended for it, would it really have latched on?) What if I named it? It could be a fantastic story: the woman and her pet tick. (Although a more original title would be necessary.)

The story ended when John pulled it out with the tweezers and flushed it.

We watched the second season of Dollhouse : refreshing in that there were less "What is the Dollhouse?" and "Why does the Dollhouse exist?" questions, that drove me batshit crazy, and a few great oh shit moments that we didn't expect. The post-apocalyptic ending, though....meh. I felt a little let down.

Speaking of oh shit moments, I made the mistake (or was it?) of looking up what happens in Game of Thrones. Those are some big oh shit moments coming up.

I wish Clarion would get here faster.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Belief creates the actual fact." - William James

Mother's Day has come and gone, which I'm glad for. Not nearly as traumatizing this year as last, which was the first without Mom; proof it does get easier, I suppose. And tomorrow I turn another year older. Never thought I'd be one of those people that bitch and moan about growing older, but turns out I am. Also, chances are very good I wrote this in a blog last year around my birthday. Perhaps I shall keep saying that every year from now out. 

Last night I read "The Will and Testament of Jacqueline Ess," a story from the Books of Blood collection by Clive Barker reprinted in a Datlow anthology I purchased some time back, and finally picked up off my floor. I was completely and utterly blown away, perhaps because it reminded me that that's what I need to do with Harvester the book, and because of the way he wrote certain passages, the beauty and horror of what was happening, yet the grace of the words. In my friend (and esteemed writing peer) Steve's words, "Beautiful and incisive and searing, rather than just scary or fun or gross." Which means I'm going to Barnes and Noble at lunch today to buy the Books of Blood volumes.

I meant to dither on about "Slobby Noes" a few days ago, the Veganomicon recipe with lentils instead of meat, but I forgot, and then didn't take pictures, either. But highly, highly recommended. Lentils are seriously a wonder food. If you do them right.

My death knight is nearly level 70. I'm so terrible at it that it's almost comical. But its very fun, too, having AoE abilities like Blood Boil, and Death and Decay. I'll get better at it, I hope. And learn how to tank. And perhaps get a new chest-piece, since Derne's current one doesn't appear to offer much protection...

Although Beris, my undead shadow priest, is pretty decked out. 

She's got all Bloodthirsty Gladiator's gear, although I'm slowly collecting pieces of Vicious gear. Because, this is important stuff.

We've started season 2 of Dollhouse while we wait for Deadwood discs in the mail. It's not bad, although I liked Eliza Dushku better as Faith.

And now I have a chapter to rewrite.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." - Maya Angelou

While the title can see a little dramatic out of context, consider it after reading Kij Johnson's "Story Kit," in Eclipse 4. Breathtaking.

I am even more excited than ever for her Clarion week.

(Oh, the Kiernan is marvelous, too, but I had read that before in a Sirena Digest. No less stunning the second time around, though.)

That is all. Now back to the SF short I'm trying to finish, although I keep sabotaging myself with Words with Friends matches.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." -Toni Morrison

I'm catching up on my reading, and can check Joe Hill's Horns off the list. A fascinating idea, and quite well written; a few parts made me feel a little ill, and I think I actually had nightmares from it one night. However, the more Ig transformed into the devil the less interesting the book was to me; the momentum seemed to peter out. But his relationship with Merrin was heartbreaking, as was what happened to her, and while I have more thoughts, I don't want to ruin it for anyone, as it's indeed a book to read and buy.

Next to buy will be his short story collection, and Mira Grant's Deadline. Oh, and Genevieve Valentine's Mechanique, both of which I believe come out next week? In the meantime, Valentine has a story up from her Tresaultiverse at Fantasy Magazine. Sometimes the way she phrases things reminds me of early Tanith Lee, which of course I love. But since those aren't out yet, I've just received in the mail Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, and Jonathan Strahan's Eclipse 4 and Engineering Infinity. The Lanagan comes first, although I still have collections by E. Bear and Karen Joy Fowler and the Grace Krilonovich waiting.

But the real reason for this post is Eric Gregory's "The Harrowers," which starts off Lightspeed's issue 12. Post-apocalyptia and zombie bears, with a gun-touting preacher man! Gregory is definitely a writer to keep an eye on.

And a bit randomly, I found 1k + words on Harvester the book last night, which was so exciting. I'm ready for more, but Heloise is jockying with a new little SF short that unwound itself over the weekend, so we'll see who wins out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows or sees." - Benjamin Franklin

With the title quote in mind, here are two things, no, three:

I finished Daryl Alexander's Pandemonium, which was a delightful read. Thoroughly engrossing from the first page, intriguing, accessible, without an extra word anywhere, yet not sacrificing in lyricism. His first novel, too. I wasn't very fond of the way things wrapped up - it felt completely different than the direction the first 3/4ths of the novel took - but I still recommend the book, very much so. It encouraged me, too, because it made Harvester the book so much more possible. I also realized that I try too hard in writing this book. I make too much effort, when really, I should let the action carry itself. It took a large weight off my shoulders when I realized that (for probably the umpteenth time, so hopefully I can remember it...), and I'm actually excited to get back to the book today.

Oh! And my interview with Elizabeth Bear is up on Lightspeed today! Go read. She's a very interesting woman, and an excellent author. (I'm quite looking forward to her week at Clarion this summer.) Also, her tweets are most enjoyable.

And then to end on a downer, Kitty has been in the hospital for 4 days, although I'll hopefully be able to pick him up later today. It's kind of devastated me, not having him at home; even with the demanding and affectionate dogs, there's a big gap without him. Buddy couldn't care less that he's gone, but I think Nellie know's something's up; she keeps roaming around, looking for him, and whining when she can't find him.

But oh, there was a very adorable moment with the dogs. Actually, it lasted nearly thirty minutes, while we watched Game of Thrones on Sunday night:

Buddy was too comfortable to care that Nellie was sleeping on top of him; usually he grunts or growls and then gets up. And look how big Nellie is! She's so unbelievably cute, and floppy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Welcome to the Greenhouse review

I've subscribed to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, for some time now, and while I've flat out loved several issues in the past, lately the stories haven't been per my tastes, which, in all fairness, has fluctuated greatly in the last few years. In attempting to hammer out the reasons why (and why that market is so hard to break into), I've come to the conclusion that I love misdirection. There's nothing more compelling and memorable for me personally than a story that goes one way and then wham! hits you with all its got, in a completely new direction. Or, I'm great if the direction is predictable, but there's an emotional bang for the buck. (Take, for instance, a story I commented on a few blogs back, in Strahan's Best of SFF Volume 5, and originally, Subterranean: the Maureen McHugh. Not only was I shocked about halfway through at the main character's actions, but I was horrified at the person he was, and that I'd "liked" him in the first half of the story. And then this..! Also, from Black Static issue 18, a story that I will likely never forget: Mercurio D. Rivera's "Tu Sufrimento Shall Protect Us." As this SF Signal review said, one of the best of the year.)

But those kinds of stories, with misdirection, don't appear often in F&SF, and so I wasn't sure what to expect with the new Van Gelder-edited anthology released by O/R Books, Welcome to the Greenhouse. Marketed as science fiction on climate change, two things I happen to be very interested in, I've now happily dog-eared and folded it up, and I consider it a boost to my anthology collection.

The stories cover a variety of positions regarding climate change: eminent change, change currently taking place, post-change, etc, and do an excellent job at avoiding any hitting on political views with hammers of authority. The result is a thought-provoking collection, although it leans to the grimmer side (which I found appropriate). The authors include many familiar to the SF world, such as Bruce Sterling, Alan Dean Foster, Mathew Hughes, and Paul Di Fillippo, and some I've never heard of, including Michael Alexander and Chris Lawson. Out of the sixteen stories, only three are by women - which is a shortcoming, I think, but not enough to avoid the book. What's more important is that climate change is being discussed and written about, which will hopefully encourage the reader to consider both the facts and possibilities of this as an issue one day, or even today. It's far too easy to stick one's head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist, and several of these stories even reflect upon that, too.

(This is also why the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres rock. We also have Atwood, Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson, and dozens of other books regarding this topic out there on the shelves.)

The stories. Most of them will appeal to those who subscribe and devour those regularly published in F&SF. To my delight, there were also some that appealed to people like me. Not so much with the misdirection, but with the emotional weight they carried, or that they threw me off from the beginning and I never quite regained my ground, resulting in a meaningful read.

My favorite three: 

Gregory Benford's "Eagle."  Even though I read it a week ago, I still remember how I felt when I was finished the last sentence, sitting in my favorite chair at the coffee shop. Power is a funny thing; who has it, who doesn't, and who should have it. And where's the line, when it comes to the health of our world? I wasn't certain what to think, or if I had even been rooting for the right person, which made me uncomfortable, and made the story memorable, perhaps for a long time to come. 

"The Bridge," by George Guthridge. It horrified me once I finally got into it, as the content isn't for those that shy away from the ugly, and the unhappy, non-storybook endings. Not quite as brutal as Paul Haines' novella "Wives," from the X6 anthology of last year, but a distant cousin.

Paul di Filippo's "FarmEarth." I went into this story with certain expectations, as di Filippo's writing isn't for a reader like me. This story started off with unusual words and flippant narrative, yet I was so interested to find out what he wasn't telling us that I was drawn in despite myself. Before I realized it, the story got bumped up to my top five of the collection. And even in the last few days, I've found myself thinking about what di Filippo was saying, and how quickly we as a culture are so quick to believe what anyone tells us, without thinking for ourselves.

All in all, it's a varied and worthwhile read. Add it to your anthology collection!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring has sprung!

That's right, tax hell is OVER. And I have no more excuses, which is why I'm working through the next revision chapter of Harvester the book (funny how much someone wanting to be a beta reader pushes you off the couch - thank you, Wendy! I so owe you), proofing Lightspeed content, reading slush, sending my rejected stories back out into the world, and finally (promptly) returning crits. And I will make good food again! There really is a way to abuse the pizza delivery man. Oh, so a blog entry. Here's the deal:

Go read Tom Crosshill's "Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son" in this week's Lightspeed. It's very...well, just read it yourself, so I don't have to give anything away.

Game of Thrones premiered on HBO on Sunday. I will admit I've never read the books, and I also preface this with the fact that I'm a hard sell for epic fantasy these days. (I'm plugging away through the second Rothfuss, but mostly because the alchemy stuff fascinates me, and John tells me it's worth it.) However, once you get past the "I am this kind of person and I live my life like so because I enjoy a, b, and c" lines, (which to be fair, are necessary for a new world - but oh, how annoying they are), it rocks. I'm fascinated by the White Walker everything, and the end absolutely HORRIFIED me. Like, to the point of tears horrified, and I wanted to do serious harm to the villain who did the serious crime.

We're in the second season of Deadwood, which is thrilling me. I am simply in awe of the writing, and not a damn complaint about the acting. A peer commented to me that he thought the second season was slow, but I'm not finding that the case at all; even the contrary, as the Wilcott/Chez Amis everything is...terrifying, for lack of a better description.

What's next? Oh, the next season of Dr. Who this weekend! I can't wait.

We saw Hanna two weeks ago. (Maybe Limitless this weekend, which fellow Fragment Ilan assures me is worth it.) Very entertaining, and the music was especially excellent. I wasn't too fond of Cate Blanchett, though; she didn't seem to fit the role (which I don't believe I've ever said about her before).

Reading: the Rothfuss, like I mentioned, and I've just finished Gordon Van Gelder's Welcome to the Greenhouse anthology, which I will blog about separately. I've started Daryl Gregory's Pandemonium, which is so far very accessible and entertaining, and Shimmer's new issue is waiting for me on the ipad.

What else? Oh, I started a Blood Elf Death Knight named Derne. And then I spent a week leveling up blacksmithing and mining because why the hell would I fly around the Outlands doing quests and NOT do my professions at the same time? A week, and like 3k gold, because that's the way it works. Thanks to Beris, the shadow priest sugar mama (who happens to be nearly all Bloodthirsty-geared out, with even some Vicious gear). Oh, and John has started a raid team, and we need members. (If you want to raid Monday/Wednesday nights and you're on Baelgun, hit me up. Apparently, we need one ranged DPS, two melee, and two healers.) Because, priorities.

No blog entry wouldn't be complete without food, so here is the curry laksa (or Moskowitz's version) from Appetite for Reduction. I've made a few other things from there in the last few weeks, but alas, this is the only picture. I'm really excited to make more from Veganomican, too. 

Oh, and eggrolls! With Morrocan rice. They were phenomenal. I should have put tofu in them, or more strips of egg, but oh well. The downside was that they definitely did not keep. While flavorful, they were scary soggy the next day. Oh, and the oil wasn't a plus, either. I'd like to try baking them next time. If that's even possible.

There's a bird singing outside my office here at work. I think I'll go back to the Harvester chapter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Something is better than nothing

It seems like I will never catch up, but I will, soon, I keep telling myself. And I'm happy with the quick 700 words I rushed out this morning between tax returns, 700 words of the new story Molly and I are writing together! Very, very exciting. A Turkish post-apocalyptic Lovecraft-inspired thing, which could still go many directions. But 700 words is good for me these days. Soon, it will be many more.

Over the weekend, I finished "Seedlings." (Yes, the title keeps morphing slightly...) A little longer than I'd hoped for, about 8,200 words, but I think it can be cut down, too. I'm fairly confident in the structure, although it may follow the "rules" too much, which I've been thinking about lately. There are several formulas one can learn/follow in writing a short that will work, but if the rules are followed too closely, the short is predictable and not nearly as exciting as it could be (and this is, of course, taking into account that the plot actually holds weight and the writing is excellent, etc.). And then there are the stories that follow the rules, but do it so effortlessly and carefully that I sit and gape as I read, completely pulled in, and by the end I wonder what how the author managed to do that. Those are the kinds of stories I want to write (and read, for that matter). I suppose once you know the rules inside and out, then you can play with them more, and weave them into something different and new. I'm not quite there yet, but hopefully sooner rather than later, and "Seedlings" is a good place to start.

I stumbled upon a bit of a horrifying site this afternoon, horrifying and inspiring. Fairy tales get dumbed down too easily, but these pictures do the opposite, and really bring out the gruesome.

An Owomoyela's "All That Touches the Air" is up on Lightspeed this week - it gets better every time I read it. An excellent alien world.

Reading: I'm about a fifth? a sixth? through the second Rothfuss book. Egads, it's long. I'm not sure I'd be able to keep reading if it weren't for the alchemy details, and my wanting to know what will happen with Kvothe and Denna. There are just so many other books to read, and all of them so important!

It's getting hot here already. Over 85 degrees today, and windy as hell. I'm not impressed. And I desperately want a cupcake, which helps nothing. Or, that new Ben & Jerry's peanut butter kerfluffle (or something) ice cream, which is second only to Oberweiss' chocolate peanut butter, which I miss dreadfully.


The Anywhere but Earth table of contents is posted! "Lisse" is near the end, which is interesting...I can't wait to read these other stories!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Catching up

Finally, some great progress on Deadwalker, which is back to "The Seedling Garden." I got hung up on the ending over the weekend, and when I passed it to John for help, he pointed out that several elements were backwards in the worldbuilding, so I had to switch those around. It was very frustrating, and then I remembered that I've encountered this frustration on every story with different mechanics to the world - and that these mechanics don't always present themselves immediately. Or, now that I think about it, they never do. "The Light Stones" took a dozen (or more) rewrites to hammer itself out. So did Harvester the short. And the ending of "The Seedling Garden" isn't clear yet, but since I spent hours trying to clean it up yesterday, maybe the elements will work themselves into clarity. Here's hoping it will be slow day so I can make that happen. And because I have Lightspeed stories to read, and Fragment crits to do.

Took a break in the writing last night to do my first set of WoW PVP's two-on-two (two's) with John on Rhenza his rogue, and me with Beris my shadow priest. We got our asses handed to us in a few games; all my fault, of course, because I was so nervous and just kind of panicked, and level 85 or not, I'm still new to the game. But I'm starting to learn when do to what - fear, silence, psychic horror, shadowfiend, etc. - and we managed to win enough to cap my points for the week. And now the week has started over, so maybe tonight, too, depending on how much of "The Seedling Garden" I finish.

I finally took away the suitcase Kitty had been sleeping on upstairs, which now has a thick layer of cat hair over it. He simply found a new place.

Last night we had Chinese food and champagne - John got a new job, and finished the first prototype (there will be many, many  more in the future) of Carl the spider, his iPhone game! Very exciting. Sunday night, I went a little gungho with the Appetite for Reduction recipes. We had the Shaved Brussels Sprouts, the Broiled Blackened Tofu, and the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples. The tofu was fantastic - tasted like chicken, honestly. I went a little light on the smoked paprika, since I don't care for it very much, and I managed to burn the sweet potatoes/apples exactly as Moskowitz says not to do in the book, because I got distracted. The Brussels sprouts were great - mine weren't crispy, but that's probably because I had used frozen, not fresh.

Either way, a fantastic meal. I just wish I had the time to make three things from that cookbook every night. I did order another of her cookbooks, Veganomicon, which I should be getting shortly.

Reading: I'm about halfway through Strahan's Best of SFF Volume 5, and I must admit, it's not what I had expected. It's entirely possible I'm getting more particular in my preferences, since that's the way I've been heading with all the SFF magazines, and creating strong opinions as to what I prefer to read regarding novels. But I've loved Strahan's "Best of" series more than any other out there, and of course every Eclipse anthology of his has just been stunning. This one, however, isn't doing much for me. The stories are very well written, and there's no shortage of excessive creativity, startling, in fact, and inspirational. But none have entranced me so far, which makes me a little sad. Nothing is better than a story that grips you from beginning to end. Doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it, though. The stories are excellent, and I'm sure will speak to others if not me.

We've also started FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is now on Netflix. We had watched it online in subtitles as it was streaming back in 2009, and while it's dubbed now, the voices are excellent (albeit different), and the show is still excellent, and highly recommended; it has the typical anime silly moments, but the layering! And there is no attempt to sugarcoat anything. (The seven deadly sins are PEOPLE in this show. Well, homunculi. So go watch.) I had new ideas for the people around Heloise in Harvester the book, and how they're affected by her alchemy. What happens to them when she screws up, and is attempting to make the alloy work. It was very inspiring.

Now I just need more time.

Three more weeks of tax season!


Update on the reading status: go buy the Strahan antho I mentioned earlier. Maureen McHugh's story is fantastic. I just stared out in space about halfway through, a little shellshocked. I want to write more about it, but don't want to give out spoilers. And Diana Peterfreund's unicorn story is gorgeous - this is why I love YA writing so much. Well chosen.