Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Magic or Madness" Justine Larbalestier

Why I read it: Book 2 in the Blogger's Books project. The blog is here: http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/

What I liked: The voice was strong. I found the main character, Reason, very entertaining, in her fish-out-of-water ness in Sydney, and then even more so in NYC. The premise was really neat -- people who have magic need to use it or they go nuts. And when they use it up they die. That seemed really well-thought-out to me. A peeve of mine is poorly thought-out magic that just seems to solve whatever plot problem comes along. This magic has cost.

What I hated: The section in New York City seemed slower and kind of gratuitous to me, but by the end it seemed somewhat motivated. Also, because the part in NYC is on the back of the book, I was anticipating it a little too much. Sometimes marketing does that to me.

I clearly didn't hate that much, because I've already requested the second book through the library.

What i can steal (a.k.a. Conclusions): She can write. And I like her blog.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Midsummer Night's Dream

I started working the brilliant Shakespeare theme into Toothbrush today. A couple of elements had already been there, which is kind of funny. I had these girls, and I needed to give them names... so they got MND names. And now, those names are actually motivated, and the element that they comprised seems more rooted in the plot.

It's this sort of thing that makes me not feel so bad about how long it takes me to edit. The idea popped up somewhat unbidden as I was falling asleep on Monday, and it's remarkable that I was able to start working it in. Often, by the time I get around to exercising my genius, it doesn't seem nearly so clever any more.

So that was probably 40 minutes of a sonnet and some new conversation. On about Tuesday I realized there's a scene that just has to be removed, as it doesn't work with the ages of the characters. Maybe I should take it out now, and then have some lunch.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"I thought Elvis Was Italian" by Domenico Capolongo

Why I read it: I've known Dom for maybe seven years, because he's a senior sempai in my karate club.

What I liked: The poems about Japan and karate and Cole -- especially the one about Sensei, because I know both Sensei and Com; and the poem about the man Dom roomed with in Japan. I think I liked the japanese stuff because the "outsider looking in" stuff was more relevant to me.

What I hated: Well, I didn't really hate them, but the poems that were about being Italian growing up in Toronto or Saskatchewan or wherever, because I'm not and I didn't. Poetry is like that -- sometimes it just doesn't resonate. Actually, the one about Saskatchewan, where it mentioned that everyone looked at them like they were the local mafia, that one made me laugh out loud. Because every town needs a tiny mob family made up totally of outsiders with no connections. They would have been like the opposite of mafia, in my opinion.

But anyway, the ones I didn't like as much might have been influenced by the fact that I was reading the book while I was at karate camp, and people were bugging me to go get my oboe for sing-along with Sensei, and telling me odd tales about the Simon Howell-ness of their instructor in "Advanced Preaching", and asking me to please give it up so other people could look at it. Also I started at the back and worked frontwards, which I suppose is probably not how it was meant to be experienced. If it came by my way again, I would probably take another look at it, just to see.

What I can steal: Contacts and influence? I don't know.

Monday, June 09, 2008

If I keep going like this, I'll have a third draft in October

If I only have to look at it for ten minutes, turns out I can work on this wretched rewriting thing. Yesterday I picked the first page in Toothbrush that had no writing on it (I assumed that's where I'd left off, on page 3) and marked it up. Then we went out to play for a few hours, and when we came back I made my changes in the draft.

That wasn't so bad, now, was it?

Turns out, actually, that I had marked up page four and five earlier, but whatever. I got rid of two named characters, turning their dialog into an introduction to two other characters, the kind-of Nemisi (I have a vague feeling you can't really have two nemesises, it's a word that seems like it shouldn't take a plural) of my main character.

Maybe later I'll change their names (to protect the innocent). I think I know their true names now.

Friday, June 06, 2008


So I was just reading this article...


And it made me wonder: Drug names are awfully complex. I have heard of Clonazepam before, in conversation. Surely the medical practicioner of the household has mentioned it, probably several times. But when I saw the name, I couldn't recognize it by the shape. I had to sound it out. Is that one of those power things, where now I've been forced to use phonics on the situation, and I've been put in the position of a 5-year-old, and somehow I'm going to, therefore, more readily accept the physician's decision that it's a) safe and b) the right choice?

Just wondering.

Monday, June 02, 2008

"The Blue Place" Nicola Griffith

Why I read it: Part of my "Blogger's Books" project (wherein I read books by people whose blogs I read and decide whether I should really be taking their writing advice). The blogs in this case are: http://asknicola.blogspot.com/ and http://gemaecca.blogspot.com/.

I had read a ton about Always during the LBC thing last year, so I knew where this book was going, which might have ruined it a bit for me, as I kept yelling (in my head, of course, not out loud) to Aud not to get too close...

A couple of weeks ago bloggers were posting their one-star comments from Amazon, and a lot of them complained about the excessive martial arts and self defense information. That all didn't bother me.

And I may have accidentally ruined the ending for myself (with the who that it was that was trying to kill them, and who the blackmailer was) by accidentally flipping to the back.

What I liked: I don't read that much in the thriller or suspense genres, but this seemed to follow that general plan, though with a very different protagonist. I think Matt Cheney didn't like "Always" because of the hard-boiled voice. The voice didn't bother me at all. I found it very readable. Maybe I read a lot of un-readable crap or something, but when a book takes me two or three days to read, I'm always surprised.

What I hated: The cover design was weird. Maybe it was a dog whistle? That wasn't at all what I envisioned Aud looking like, and the focus did seem to be on her crotch. I guess it's a nice change from the "baby got back" covers that are all the rage now. However, requesting a book through the library system means I'm not judging it by its cover, and I guess that's a good thing.

What I can steal: It all just seemed to work. I don't know if that's something I can steal, but it's something I can aspire to. I liked how the martial arts was worked in so smoothly. Maybe I should rename this section in my template to "Conclusions" for the Blogger's Books project. My conclusion is, I should take her advice (as ever with the ginormous caveat of "when it works for me").