Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What I read January 2012

OWW: 0. Bad member.

“Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman. I actually finished this a bit after midnight on Dec 31, so it should have appeared on last month’s list, but whatever. It’s been lying around the house for years, and I finally picked it up and read it. I don’t know why I put it off for so long. It was very funny and charming. NG has such a comfortable voice to read.

“The Freedom Maze” by Delia Sherman. Another novel shot through with references to other books, which is neat. This was a quick read that I didn’t expect to tie up as nicely as it did. I think what I liked was that the changes that happened to Sophie were real, she really did have a growth spurt in the six months (20 minutes) that she was gone. That’s something that’s always bothered me about Narnia and its ilk, and also about more adult (is there a better word for this subgenre?) portal fantasy, like “the Mirror of her Dreams”, “Fionavar”, etc. is that the characters don’t seem to be temporally affected by their secondary world experience. This book did not have that problem. I also found the descriptions of life in antebellum Louisiana fascinating – I had no idea what it would be to be a slave, etc. Really good read.

“Fledgling” by Octavia Butler. I seem to have an unintentional theme this month (can you guess it?). I put this on my Christmas list more because I felt like I ought to read something by OB than because I wanted to, but the back of the book sucked me in. And then I started reading and wow. This book could have been so offensive to me (polyamory, what might look to an outsider as um sex with a 10-year-old, non-sparkly vampires), but it was not. It was amazing.

“The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by NKJemesin. I read this because it fit with the theme, and I had it. There are some similarities with those Garth Nix books I read a while back, I think. Really good, though the ending wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked somehow (I can’t explain why without spoilers, so I won’t try). I will be looking for the sequels.

“Rhythms of the Game” by Bernie Williams and some jazz dudes. My dad gave me this for my birthday because I do oboe and karate. I actually think karate is closer to music than baseball is. There are a lot of good insights, if I can figure out how to implement them. It seemed, however, like it was written for the sort of person who reads one, maybe two books a year.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Christy Matheson

Updated to add: Actual content! Apparently I can’t type text in the content field, only in the title and tags fields, from my phone.

The Toronto Standard has (or had) an entertaining feature, “Ideas, free to a good home”. I’m full of this sort of idea. Christy Matheson is one of them.

You know how Pat Robertson said a few months back that if your spouse has Alzheimer’s disease it’s okay to divorce them, because they’re dead to you anyway? And Newt Gingrich kind of had affairs on his sickly wives (at least one of them) instead? Well, I was thinking: how does someone who needs to have an affair on their sickly spouse go about meeting the right person to do that with.

One thing I learned from “The Other Boleyn Girl” was that it’s more appropriate for a king to have an affair with a married girl than a single one. So clearly, my hypothetical person married to an Alzheimer’s patient would need to meet another like-minded individual in similar circumstances (of the opposite sex of course, this being a problem that godless atheists don’t have).

That’s where Christy Matheson comes in. I envision it being company like Ashley Madison, except for married Christian people who have to find a mate substitute.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This is my brain on X

Do you ever have a thought, and then it disappears because someone distracted you, and you spend a whole lot of time wanting that idea back, and then you remember what you think it might have been and it’s actually something quite stupid, like “I should google my coworker’s name” or "I wonder what John Scalzi is up to today?"

I wonder if I’ve ever really forgotten a brilliant story idea, or if they were all that crap.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: "Dust Bowl Dance"

It's been weeks and weeks (at least four weeks) since last I did one of these challenges. I'm fighting the idiot self-imposed conviction that everything I write has to have a supernatural or fantastic or SF element. That's just stupid.

“The name of this place is pretty offensive,” the woman said as I set her beer on the bar.

"Not my fault," I said. "It was named that when I got here."

"Still, you're making light of people's suffering." She might have been 43 (just a guess), with long hair in a ponytail, still mostly blonde. She wore paint-spattered jeans and a tee-shirt.

"They're all dead. And I think it's more a statement about our cleaning staff. Lanes should be clean."

The man who came in and made a bee-line to her would have been two or three years older, fit like a runner and suited like a lawyer. His hairline was receding. He wore a wedding ring. A bowling alley must have seemed like a good place to meet; neither artists nor lawyers would hang out here.

“Diet coke,” he said, and turned to her as if they had known each other how long? I’d guess two-and-a-half years. “I was worried sick.”

“You should have been,” the woman answered. She wasn’t the type of woman a man like him would marry.

“Why didn’t you text?” he said, sipping his coke through a straw.

“I was in hospital.” He winced as she sucked back a quarter of her pint of beer in one swallow. “They take all your stuff and lock it up so no one can walk off with it.”

There was a long, awkward silence. I was cleaning glasses.

"How did you get there?” he asked.

“My landlady was looking for the rent,” the woman said. “She found me in the kitchen. I guess she saved my life.”

“I should have dropped by,” the man said. “What day was that?”

The woman shrugged. “My chart said I was admitted on the Wednesday.”

It was Friday now. “You bled for three days?”

“Presumably.” The woman finished her beer and looked at me.

She was too light to be able to handle much. “Driving?” I said.

“Hell no,” she said as if I was crazy to even ask. “You wouldn’t believe the questions I had to answer. They asked if I had done it to myself.”

“I’m sorry,” the man said.

I put another beer down in front of the woman, and she took a sip as the man’s eyes searched her face – eyes, lips, beer, ringless paint-stained hands. “But it’s gone,” he said.

“Yeah, it’s gone.”

He seemed relieved. “It won’t happen again.”

“No, it won’t,” the woman said. “It was ectopic. They snipped some things, cleaning up, for my own good. It won’t happen again.”

He put an envelope in front of her, but she set her beer on it, leaving a wet condensation ring. “I can’t finish that,” she said. She took off a cross on a chain and set it on the bar. She turned away, and left.

The man left a $20 from the envelope on the bar. Everything else, he stuck in his jacket pocket as he followed her out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

In process -- December 2011

First Draft
“Fairfax”.
Started month with 43,000 words, near the beginning of Chapter 17, having written portions of my second outline. Now I’m past 54,000 nearing the end of Chapter 20. I should be more than half done! We’ll see about that, in about six months. . .

Editing
Toothbrushing Club.
(Middle Years novel). Last time I posted, a week into December, I had gone through the first half, with the goal to have draft 3 by Christmas break. In this, I was successful. There was a lot less moving scenes around, and a lot more writing entire scenes, towards the end. I knew the ending was awful, and had written a note after reading the whole thing to basically delete the last five pages, and I wrote something else entirely. The whole thing is printed out and ready to read again, but I think I should give it a week or two.

This is the first time I’ve ever really properly done a “middle” draft of anything this long from start to finish. The document is 53,000 words long which seems sort of shocking, like I might have added 10,000 words or so, because I thought the previous draft was in the low 40’s.

“Dowsing”. (short story, 5K). This got 5 crits on OWW, so when I went on Christmas vacation, I printed them off and took a draft with me to show what I do, if anyone of my relatives was interested. I didn’t look at it the whole time.

Not Cold Enough. Carried this around all Christmas holiday, too, but didn’t look at it.

Knitting
Fair Isle Argyle socks.
First one done, second started.
Border socks. Gift. Three pairs done.
Commuter gloves. Gift. Done.
I so badly want to start a sweater, it’s killing me!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

What I read: December 2011

OWW: 4

“The Courts of Chaos” by RZ. You know, Corwin is one of the most awesomest characters ever. He’s like basically a god, and yet he doesn’t win all the time (wrestling with his brother, sword fighting with his other brother), doesn’t get what he wants, doesn’t ultimately save the world all by himself. . . Roger Zelazny is awesome.

“Fool Moon” by Jim Butcher. Library book, #2 of the Dresden Files. I found it easier in this one easier to keep track of the characters than the first volume.

“Mother Tongue” by Bill Bryson. The information was really interesting, and that kept me reading, but I found this book obnoxious. If it was a little dated in sections, that can be forgiven because it was written in 1990. However, if you’re going to take a tone that says “wow, everyone else is so stupid!” which is how the ‘humor’ seemed sometimes, your research and editing really has to be absolutely impeccable. Torontoans? Who calls us that?

“Motel of the Mysteries” by David MacAulay. This was a silly quick read about a future excavation of a cheap hotel, where the future people get a lot of things completely wrong. They were British dilettantes who wore the toilet seat as a necklace/headdress and thought the plunger was a musical instrument but weren’t sure how it should be played. It reminded me a lot of a program book I had about King Tut’s tomb, and has aged very well (it was published in 1979).

“The Island of Lost Maps” by Miles Harvey. I’d never heard of the crime or the criminal, but this guy had walked into a bunch of libraries (many connected to universities) and stolen maps out of books quite brazenly. This book is a true crime investigation thing about that. To me, the book was more about the process of research and long-form journalism. The author was very evident in the story, as was the history of maps.