Monday, March 02, 2015

What I read -- February 2015

“All the Windwracked Stars” by Elizabeth Bear. In the comments section on some article about how to write female characters, someone said EB wrote crap male characters, and I wanted to see. The main male character here was a prostitute, so probably not a good gauge. For the first hundred pages or so, there was nothing wrong with this book, but I would have enjoyed it more if it had been what I’d wanted to read at the time. After that, I was totally engaged. The climax didn’t descend into confusion, which made me really happy.

“Blue Lily, Lily Blue” by Maggie Stiefvater. Yes, it was this that I wanted to be reading. I couldn’t request it since my library card had expired. What are they afraid of? Why does this only seem to happen to me? I love these books. Now I have to wait for the fourth? In the fall?

“California Bones” by Greg Van Eekhout. The magic system sounded fascinating in the reviews. I’d read Norse Code and thought it kind of collapsed into a frenzy at the end. This one held up better. A fun, quick read about cannibalism!

“Lavinia” by Ursula K. Le Guin. This was a delight. The ending was perfect. The main (POV) character is mentioned in passing really in the Aenead by Virgil, and she talks about “my poet” throughout, which really worked.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

In Process -- January 2015

First Draft
“Lucky Kate”. Finished a draft again.
“Succubus (Younger Men)”. Wrote a short story. Just got tired of it towards the end, though.
“Evening Glory”. Started, afraid it will get too long to be a short story.

“Wind/Water/Salt”. I’m up in the Chapter 12 range now. On the second draft I’d written in one of my action scenes, “needs more tension!” This was fun. I deleted huge chunks of exposition and added actual action. Win! To some extent I think all this editing is improving my first drafts, because I find myself avoiding writing down those “maybe he was…” sections in the first place, rather than deleting them later.

There was this article: which I found fascinating as a process. Not sure it would work for me, but I wonder if I need to rethink the page-a-day, since so many of those pages are crap.


It’s good to have this line item here, because it forces me to send things out when they come back.

“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). Ignored.
“St. Anthony’s Ribbon” (self-designed). Ran out of yarn.  Ordered more.
Vinterlys (Norsk Strikkedesign). Lace and cable panel halfway to split for body. Nine inches of Fair isle pattern.

Monday, February 02, 2015

What I read -- January 2015

“The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater. I was totally taken in by this one.

So, the boys at the core of the story are like the boy-band thing that Scott Westerfeld talked about. One of the boys was kind of being given short shrift, I thought. I was even kind of wondering why he was there. And then…!

“The Dream Thieves” by Maggie Stiefvater. I was about 120 pages from the end of The Raven Boys and it was Friday evening. I knew it wasn’t going to wrap things up properly so I left the house in a panic to get to the library whose website said it was “in”. I couldn’t find it on the shelves. I asked the librarian. The outing ended with the security guard escorting us both out of the building at closing. D’oh. So I went to the bookstore and bought it. It was a learning experience, though. Now I know who’s in charge of the library (security). And also, the library has way better customer service than the bookstore.

This book took me a bit longer to read than the first one, but I got to about halfway through and just finished it. She really does a fantastic job with endings, both with this book and the previous one, making me absolutely need the next one RIGHT NOW.

“The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork” by John Maxwell. I was given this book from work. It was about how I expected.

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.