Monday, January 05, 2015

What I read -- December 2014

“Clariel” by Garth Nix. I bought this at Scott Westerfeld’s signing. We all argued about who should get to read it first, and whether one should start over with Sabriel. Fortunately the boy had school stuff, and Ed was reading the Brust I read in October (as he put it, “how did I not know about this author before?”) so I got to go first. Which is only fair, since I paid.

I enjoyed this book more than I’ve enjoyed anything in a while. Having just read the other three, there was a spot where I realized this was not going to end well. The most annoying thing was that I read it first, and none of my family were reading fast enough to keep up, and when I finished I wanted to talk to someone about it.

“From the Earth to the Moon” by Jules Verne. The boy is taking a SF survey course this term, and this was the second book on it (the first was Frankenstein, which I’ve already read). He told me this one was cute, so of course I asked to read it. He also told me that his prof says JV is the father of hard science fiction and HG Welles is the father of soft science fiction. I asked what Mary Shelley is the father of, then, but he didn’t have a good answer. He also told me the math wasn’t that far off. I’ll take his word for that. He’d told me the ending was sudden and there was a sequel written 15 years later, which he’d read a synopsis of just for satisfaction. I did the same thing because he was right.

“Year of the Ladybird” by Graham Joyce. My older sister provides little in the way of gift guidance and doesn’t really need things, which can be a bad thing, except when it means I can buy her books I want to read that I think she will like. That’s how I got this. If I hadn’t seen the dreadful British show Hi-de-Hi! I might not have really understood the setting. It was really good.

“Aloft” by Chang-Rae Lee. There was a review about another  book by him in Locus in oh, April or so, and I thought to myself, “I have something else by him!” The review wasn’t glowing, and I got this from my sister years ago, who wasn’t blown away by it either, but I added it to the TBR pile. Figuring I would get loads of books for Christmas, I started this to fill the gap.

It was not the book for me. About seventy pages in I started hoping the main character had killed his dead wife. Then he started to talk about her death, and clearly he hadn’t done it, and I started hoping he turned out to be an unreliable narrator and would say, 20 pages from the end, Liar-style, “Oh, none of that was true. I killed her.” One saving grace was when a character came down with my favorite cancer (if one can have such a thing), non-hodgkins lymphoma. The narrator’s voice was extremely tiresome. On the back, one of the blurbs said “elliptical”, and oh yeah, way too much. That reviewer did not lie. Neither of my sisters would cop to having given this to me. I think I might have enjoyed one of his earlier books more.

“Language Shock” by Michael Agar.  I saw this on my sister’s shelf while I was visiting her at Christmas, and pulled it down. It’s a book about how learning a language isn’t the same thing as being fluent in it, and a history of linguistics, written by an ethnographer, but really it’s a book about writing. As I was reading, I thought it would be really interesting to learn a language at the same time that I was writing a novel. That would give the novel a flavor. Alas, I will probably not do this.

Though I did find the conclusion of the book pretty depressing. Or defeatist. Meh.

“Annihilation” by Jeff Vandermeer. So, I got two copies of this for Christmas, meaning my family clearly really thought I should read it. So I did. At first the voice seemed really off, the dialog stilted, but after a few pages I realized that was on purpose, and then I was 70 pages in, and then I was done. It seems worth looking for the sequels.

Friday, January 02, 2015

In Process --- December 2014

First Draft
Limering”. Around 111,000 words, and draft. I had made a note for something completely different and was struggling along and realized that note was exactly what I needed to wrap all this up. Stupid subconscious and its erratic filing system!
“The Tale of the Tail”. Something light and short for a nice change. Done!
“Lucky Kate”. This one appears as a page-a-day every year or so, doesn’t it? I think this time I have the right plot so the middle of the story will match the beginning and the end. 

“Wind/Water/Salt”. I had finished November struggling to make sense of Chapter 4, NaNoEditMo having been pretty much a bust. In December I started moving all sorts of sections around in chapters 5-10, and made it so I couldn’t figure out where I was, so I spent a couple of weeks just staring at the binder and opening the word file. Then I hit on the idea of fixing one character’s POV, and that was the wedge. I’m now rewriting chapter 6. There’s a lot of work to do!
“Lucky Kate”. I needed something small to carry around while I was away, in case I felt like editing (as if!). So I cut all the bad sections out of this really quickly and printed off the “good” 14 pages. If New Year’s is about starting as you mean to go on, I didn’t start that well. I pulled this out at about 11 pm last night, way too late to do any good.



“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). Slogging away on second sleeve (but really mostly ignored. I need to work on this, if only so I can get the massive pile of balls of yarn put away). 
“St. Anthony’s Ribbon” (self-designed). Body to armholes, first sleeve attached, second sleeve finished but not attached.
Angee Socks (Sock Innovation). Done.
Shorts by Joan McGowan Michael. Done.
Mugwarmers (2014 knitting calendar). One of my colleagues gave me a “pattern-a-day” calendar for Christmas last year, and she asked if I’d made anything from it yet. That made me feel guilty, and guilt is a great motivator. I made five of these suckers. They take about an hour each. After the third, I got bored and started deviating from the pattern, which improved things. 
Pirate socks. Ed accidentally took one to work in his sweatshirt, and while itching, pulled it out in a meeting. One of his colleagues said “is that a pirate sock?” He said yes, and she asked if I took commissions. Ahem, just this once. Then the person kind of asked for a pair for someone else and I wigged out. I want to knit something for myself for a change!
Vinterlys (Norsk Strikkedesign). Lace and cable panel started.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

In Process - November, 2014

First Draft
Limering”. Around 104,000 words. I am so sick of this.

“Selkie Girls are Easy”. As promised, final proofread and sent out.
“Wind/Water/Salt”. I have all these notes for myself, like “there was an old woman who swallowed a fly -> Susannah’s motivation.” And “Use the pirates!” These notes aren’t that useful, really.

I have revised chapters 1 and 2 so much by now that when this gets published as a book, it might actually be interesting for people to look at the two original pieces of flash that I wrote that wound up leading to the rest of the novel. Some evenings I sit down with this thing and just despair. Can I ever chisel the good bits from all the crap?

Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestiere were at a local Chapters.

I seem to have moved to that level where I get the nice rejections. A reader said there was a lot to like, which is pretty gratifying.

“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). Slogging away on second sleeve. 
“St. Anthony’s Ribbon” (self-designed).  Less than a strip from the armholes. I will get there before Christmas! Mostly because the sleeve will be great mindless knitting, and portable.
Angee Socks (Sock Innovation). Radically changed pattern so it’s an 80-stitch boy sock. First sock done.
Shorts by Joan McGowan Michael. Radically changed pattern to go top down so I won’t have a seam since I intend to wear these on hoop, and seams would suck.

Monday, December 01, 2014

What I read -- November 2014

“Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld. Gift from the boy for my birthday. After going to his event at Queensway Chapters, I finished up so the boy could read it. Both stories worked, and I liked how you could see the effects of  "real life" on the way the "novel" came out. The struggle with the ending was great, especially.

“American Slavery, American Freedom: the Ordeal of Colonial Virginia” by Edmund Morgan. Someone (I thought it was TNH but can’t find it now) linked to an article about how giving out parcels of land in Virginia colony had led eventually to slavery, and in the comments section people were arguing about whether this book (published in 1975) was a reliable source. I love listening to historians argue. Even their bickering is smart. If I was going to do a post-grad degree just for kicks I’d do a history one, so I can learn to think like them. Anyway, the book was available at the library, so I requested it. I was somewhat daunted by the 400+ pages, but then had no trouble reading 100 pages in a sitting. Not only was it all facty, but well-written too! 

It also provided needed background for Wind/Water/Salt, so it was like doing research!

“Sabriel” by Garth Nix (reread). Man, I like this book. She goes along for about 400 pages looking for her father and then finds him and he’s all like “okay, we don’t have much time, you need to do this, do that, do this, then I’m gone forever.” No hug, nothing. Awesome.

“Lirael” by Garth Nix (reread). The problem was, I read the first section and got to the part with Sam in Ancelstierre, and I was so like “I don’t care” because I just wanted to see what Lirael was up to next. I almost skipped the whole section out of frustration. But then I started really wanting to know what the heck was wrong with Sam, considering he seemed so together at the start of the section, and then fell apart, and that kept me going. Then the Lirael sections were the ones that were annoying, but shortly the two were together and it was no trouble finishing the book. he Disreputable Dog has got to be one of the best sidekicks in literature, though Mogget is pretty awesome too.

“Abhorsen” by Garth Nix (reread). I didn’t remember whole portions of this book, so I must have read it very quickly the first time. I did however remember the Disreputable Dog at the end. I know I enjoyed the book more this time. This is basically a series about zombies, though the word never comes up. I’m really glad Clariel came out, compelling me to revisit this series, which is one of my favorites.