Monday, March 24, 2008

"The Vintner's Luck" Elizabeth Knox

Why I read it: I had finished the last demon book, and I didn't have anything else out of the library. That meant I got to choose from the books lying around. Nothing had a deadline.

I had originally asked for this for Christmas. My younger sister got it for me, and as is a tradition in my family, she started reading it before giving it to me (you may remember, I read "the Fifth Child" by Doris Lessing under the same pretense). She didn't finish it. She said something like "Meh." Maybe it wasn't her thing.

What I liked: So much. It took me two days to read. The story has reallly stuck with me, and I think about it while I'm walking around. It starts in I think (memory) 1806, when Sobran first meets the angel Xas. Each chapter is a different year, and some of them are only one sentence long, but some of them are 20-30 pages. It goes until the end of Sobran's life, when he has learned a lot about his own particular guardian angel, who gives him advice starting at their first meeting. Some of that advice is better, some is worse, because Xas has left out some important details of his status.

What I hated: The ending was sad.

What I can steal: I wish I could write like this. The book reminded me, maybe illogically, of "The English Patient". I don't know if that would make sense to someone else. They take place in different places, in different times, with different types and sets of characters, but they seemed of a type. Maybe I could steal the one-year, one-chapter thing. The problem of stealing would be that I would know.

"Repossessed" by A.M.Jenkins

Why I read it: It was a Cybils nominee. I had a hard time getting into this book, even though the demon theme is something I'm quite interested in, from the standpoint of a story I have a first draft of. I suppose I'll have to research a bit the genre in order to finish that.

What I liked: It had an interesting cosmology. The book opens when a demon whose job is to reflect people's sins back on them steals a teenaged body. He spends three days or so inhabiting that body. It was sort of blasphemous, I guess (not that I know blasphemy, but it's probably one of the things I've always been afraid of, when I show people my writing), in that when people died, they appeared to send themselves to Hell, and torment themselves, rather than actually be tormented by an external force.

What I hated: Well, it was quest theme. There didn't seem to be any plot to speak of. The demon inhabited the body, and experienced the body, and grew increasingly disenfranchised with the essense of teenaged boy, growing tired of doing the repetitive homework, etc., while fearing that he was going to be called back to Hell at any minute. His goals seemed to be to get laid, to improve the life of the teenager's younger brother (noble), and to save the soul of the school bully, before the bully sent himself to Hell.

What I can steal: The author certainly knows his audience. I see this book targetting younger teenaged boys. Mine certainly thought it looked interesting (not enough to read it, but that's because he's bitter because he accidentally abandoned Book 6 of the Sword of Truth Terry Goodkind series, and doesn't want to me to see him reading anything else until he's got that again, I think). I liked the moment when the main character (Kiriel=demon; Shaun=boy) realizes that the whole sex thing isn't going to work out the way he'd expected, and wishes he'd chosen an adult body who had been at this a while longer.

The About the Author section mentions that A.M.Jenkins has three boys. I think that showed. He knew their minds pretty well. It took me five weeks to get through, but, even if it wasn't the book for me, I can see why it was nominated for a Cybil.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday Night Rewrites

Date: Feb 23, 2008
Actual Date: March 16
Project: Toothbrush
Accomplishment: Frustration (trying to put the scenes in a workable order. Why is this so difficult? I made a few simple changes and now nothing works!)
Things I need to research: How other people make this sort of thing work.
Estimated Completion date: After the fire.
Why? I will have started again.
Other accomplishments: Went out hiking in York Regional Forest. Finished both fronts of the Martian Cardigan (Bergere de France 662).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Does Blogging take up all my time?

Everyone else is apparently commenting on the Robin Hobb post suggesting that blogging is ruining our writing.

That post might be able to be found here:

Justine Larbalestier (here:

Suggests that the problem might actually be the knitting.

I would just like to say, knitting does not cut into my writing time. It was the reading time that it sucked up. Fortunately, I have recently been able to solve that problem.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Saturday Night Rewrites

Date: 16 Feb 2008
Actual Date: 11 March 2008
Project: Toothbrush
Accomplishment: Took out the talent show, renamed the girls in the woods, made them more woodsy, put some of their issues onto the toothbrushing girls.
Things I need to research: Well, next task I think is to make a map of the universe.
Estimated Completion date: Summer holiday?
Why? Make my sisters read it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stupid quiz

Your Reputation Is: Mystery Girl

You're the girl that everyone is trying to figure out.

Men are attracted to your intriguing persona - and women want to copy it!

I don't know what the other options were, but I'm satisfied with this one.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday Night Rewrites

Date: 9 Feb, 2008
Actual date: 9 March, 2008 (Sunday morning, actually)
Project: The Plaza Pirates (short story)
Accomplishment: Finished copy-typing
Things I need to research: Pirate speech, how real estate offices are set up
Estimated Completion date: 2020
Why? I can't imagine a market for this story

Friday, March 07, 2008

Saturday Night Rewrites -- update

I am in arrears three weeks, or six hours. But last weekend, I had a brilliant idea that I could, if I wasn't inspired enough to edit something, type something up for two hours instead. That was great. And typing always leads to editing, and correcting, and fact-checking. So I have half a short story typed, with [comments] all over it.

And then, because I wasn't obsessing about how I had to come up with a brilliant editing idea to kill two hours with Toothbrush, while I was walking home yesterday I thought of what I can do to make it work better. I'm going to take out the talent show! (This WILL work. Everything that's important in the talent show, I can put in something else. And at 70,000 words, I think it's getting too long now anyway, so I NEED to take something significant out. And it will be fun, at least to start, and take many hours.)

So now, the question is, do I continue typing up the short story I started last weekend, or do I go back to Toothbrush and do the rewrites? Ah the horror of having too many choices! I suppose I could do both, and get caught up on those six hours.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"The Culture Code" by Clotaire Rapaille

Wow, this guy has that French attitude down really well. My new coworker couldn't stop talking about this book, so I took it out of the library mostly to make her be quieter. So every day I would go home and read twenty pages or so, and then the next day I would come to work and talk about it, until she said to me "Look, I read that book over three days last summer. I didn't memorize it." Sorry.

There were some very silly things in this book. The author is a french guy who thinks of himself as an American, and I kept thinking he wasn't as American as he thought he was. Not all-American, anyway. The bits of stuff that people said in the "third hour interviews" sounded contrived and fake, as if perhaps CR had edited them for brevity, and whoever had been his editor had been afraid to touch them because they were "the real words of the interviewees". I was also annoyed that the people in them were defined solely by age and gender, as if those two things were the most important defining factors in their lives. He didn't really take into consideration any regional differences between Americans (I'm thinking of the New England vs. Atlanta type disparities, not even east coast-west coast or red state-blue state differences). He said that regional differences didn't show up, and I found that hard to believe. The sections about home, alcohol, food, and shopping were painfully obvious. And I've always disliked the PT cruiser, so he couldn't impress me with how he invented it.

At the same time, though, I found the sections about beauty, love, sex, and seduction depressingly accurate. And if you connect the idea that for Americans, perfection=dead, and beauty is about perfection, no wonder sex is about violence, and CR would not want to come back as an American woman.