Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Books Sept 2009

"The Magic Thief" by Sarah Prineas was on the Cybils 2008 . I was on a waitlist for ages at the library, but it was worth the wait. The first hundred pages took me a while to read, but then I totally got into it and read the rest of the book in basically one sitting. The beset scene for me was when Conn was at school memorizing spells, and he noticed an error in the spell. He called the teacher on it, and the teacher said that was on purpose, so students wouldn't accidentally turn themselves into animals. Conn accepted this, and began memorizing the next spell, wondering what the mistake in this one was. Fabulous character-building.

Tastes like chicken: Skulduggery Pleasant.

"Horsemen of the Esophagus" by Jason Fagone was listed in a top-10 underrated books list linked to by Jeff Vandermeer. I loved the title, so I requested it from the library. Sadly, there was virtually no wait.

This book brought together so much fascinating stuff -- social media/connecting with fans, the american dream (which apparently is more about fame and community and less about money), the pursuit of happiness, the motivations and interactions of a community, journalistic ethics (distance from sources or lack thereof, etc.). There were aspects this book that were distressing -- and not for the reason you'd think. I didn't find the eating gross, or even the discussions of vomit ("reversal of fortune"). Maybe that was because the writing was so matter-of-fact and personal. The book follows three eaters in different stages of their careers, with different contests as their targets. What was distressing was some of their motivations, and the author's soul-searching, and the way the sport was progressing towards professionalism and organization. There were really interesting character studies. I felt like I knew some of these people better than I know my closer coworkers. Also, the acknowledgements section in the epilogue was a thing of beauty.

Tastes like chicken: "State of Play". Irrational, I know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

one week and counting

To Viable Paradise.

I still have not solved the problem of Chapter 12 (apparently every chapter is going to be a problem). However, I know how to fix "unicorn, Drake, Missing Uncle" (short story, workshopped at OWW) now! I hope everything goes smoothly enough that I can fix it tonight.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


So in my ongoing plan to, you know, become a published author, I thought it would be a good idea to go to a FSF convention. Every few weeks I think of this, and today I went to the locus website to check out if their Convention listings had been updated so I could find one that I could go to that wouldn't cost me a lot of money (I've kind of blown my FSF budget for the next little while, with VP and the netbook, etc.).

And in fact, there was a listing for Ad Astra 2010, April 9-11, and I clicked on the link and it's within a 20-minute bike ride of my house. And has been probably since I moved there (I didn't actually look in archives to find that out, but still).

And then I went poking around in the "other guests" section, and there was the name David Nickle, apparently a horror writer. And I thought to myself, hey, is that the guy who writes articles and opinion pieces about city hall in the Toronto Community News, with such a wry sense of humor? He's the only thing I like about that paper! Well, other than the sudoku and the crossword and the community news. Anyway, his columns are a highlight, and I look for them specifically.

Yes, it is the same person.

And then I went to Whatever, and apparently in 2010 John Scalzi will be there, too. Freaky.

Though his name does not come up with interesting acronyms at all. Must be the z.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Misplaced priorities

I finished the sweater, anyway.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Self-defeating priorities

After being accepted into Viable Paradise, I had planned (well, actually, after sending my submission, I had planned) to take the 63 chapters that are the remainder of the novel (after the rather worked-over submission chapters) and make them more closely resemble the synopsis I sent in.

Yeah, not so much. I got stuck most recently at chapter 11 or 12.

Also, after being accepted into Viable Paradise, I decided to make a VP commemorative sweater. Its name is Space Invaders, and I made it out of two shades of left-over yarn from other projects. I finished the knitting on Friday last.

Oh, and then I was thinking, on my way to work today, about when I'm going to find time to sew the underarm seams and tie in the (maybe) 12 danglers before blocking. I guess that will be tonight. Another evening of not working on poor Apocryphal.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Two weeks to Viable Paradise. Yesterday I bought luggage.

fabulous timewaster.

How can you go wrong with an anagram like "Labyrinth Moon". Obviously I should write fantasy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"The Hallowed Hunt" by Lois McMaster Bujold

Why I read it: Ed got got it out of the library and read it and loved it, and kind of pressed it on me. What made him so happy was the way the ending tied everything up. I bought him two other books by LMB for his birthday.

Bookmark: Library receipt.

Tastes like Chicken: I read a book a long time ago that had Crom Cruach in it, that this reminded me of. I can't remember what that book was, though, and I couldn't find it at It was quite a while ago, probably 15 years. And Crom Cruach didn't come up in this book at all.

What I liked: The magic system was cool, and Ed was right -- it wrapped up nicely. The characters and their situation were interesting.

Not so much: I haven't read that much high fantasy lately. Maybe it's all like this. When I was reading, I was kind of wishing the author had found some way to set the story in a mythical Ireland or present-day something, so there wouldn't be the need for some of the world-building core-dumps.

Lesson: Really, the lesson for me was an inside-my-head editing exercise, because I was thinking about how this plotline and situation and these characters could be fit into a different world, and the story would still work. Though then it might be a different story.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"The Book of Lost Things" by John Connolly

Why I read it: Recommended by the librarian when I was taking out "Troll's Eye View". Saturday, when I was on about page 185, and I'd left the book sitting on the reading nook while I read the entire internet at the dining room table, Ed picked this book up and started reading. He'd read the whole thing by dinner.

Bookmark: Library receipt.

Tastes like Chicken: There was a little bit of Narnia, I suppose, because of going to another world, and the WWII associations. It's sort of a meta-fairy tale, because you'll enjoy it much more if you know at least some of the fairy tales that David, the main character, encounters on his travels.

What I liked: This book was written for grownups, but it had that texture of something that will find its way into the hands of whatever people should read it, regardless of age. The main character is a youth, but I've never really seen that as a criteria to make something a kids' book or a grups' book. The fairy tales involved were all twisted horribly, and that seemed really fun.

Not so much: There was a lot of exposition, a lot more than I'm used to. For me, this worked better at the beginning than at the end.

Lesson: First of all, I'll take that librarian's recommendations again. Second, this was a lot about writing what you know. The author knows fairy tales, so that was what he wrote about. Also, just because there's lots of tell, not showing, that doesn't mean it won't work. Or maybe that's just because the author isn't North American.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Word of the day: spoliation

According to the Oxford dictionary on my desk, this means plundering or pillaging, but according to the corporate records retention course I just passed, it's about shredding documents that should have been retained.

Now I know.