lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
That's how much science I told my students they needed to know. (Also your magic needs rules).

That pretty much summed up class. We have come to the point where it has dawned on my students that the true value of the class is in the last hour of instructor/peer critique. In fact, I'm certain they figured it out because the ones who had never volunteered previously all asked me suddenly if there was a way to slip them in to the schedule (now that we're literally at the half way point). And, the answer is, of course, yes: I will lecture less and we will critique more.

My insights into writing are just that: mine. And we all know that there are as many ways to write properly as there are writers writing.

It's so much more valuable to have people talking to you, directly, about your work and helping you do what it is you're trying to do. So much more. I'm super glad they all twigged to that. Of course, if anything, this means I'm going to be working HARDER--because critique is time consuming when done as instruction. But, I think the students are all going to come away very satisfied and feeling like class was time (and money) was well spent.

So, yay. And they all behaved admirably again too. Only once did I need to say, "Okay, but you need to say something you liked about the piece. It's part of the structure of how we do critique and one of the rules."

The problem wasn't that there weren't nice things to say to the student being critiqued last time, as I told him after class, the problem was that his prose was at such a high level that it became invisible to the reader. They fell, head first, into his story, and so they wanted to nitpick the EVENTS of the story, and had a hard time remembering that the amazing thing was that the story captured them SO PROFOUNDLY (even as they ran up against things they didn't like.) Adorably, he looked at me and asked, "So I don't suck?" I was like, "Oh, honey, no. So much no. You're writing at at a professional level." He blinked, "You mean it? I could sell this?" I said, "Yes, some day, you WILL."

I don't say this lightly. I have been wrong, of course. But, I've also been right.

Speaking of being wrong, I really didn't expect to enjoy Jeff VanderMeer's ANNIHILATION as much as I did. As I was telling Mason, it kind of reads like Myst come to life...only weirder. Normally, I'd have told you that this book reminds me of some of those trippy movies where it turns out in the end that the "hero" is a psych ward patient, but a) that's not at ALL what happens and b) while it does have that style, which I normally don't like at all, coming off PEOPLE IN THE TREES (which I hated), I found this really awesome, refreshing, and clever.

As an aside, I've noticed that women writers rarely forget women's periods, but men, even ones writing in a female p.o.v., always do. There was actually no reason for the author of THE PEOPLE IN THE TREES who was writing a faux memoir from a guy's point of view to ever mention the one female explorer's period, but she finds a way. Our doctor "hero" manages to come across the female explorer's unburied, bloodied feminine supplies and is horrified by the fact that they're just laying there, destroying the pristine jungle's greenness with their awful white and blood-red. He doesn't much like her anyway, but this kind of seals the deal.

Meanwhile, though, TBF, it's only a matter of weeks that the events of ANNIHILATION takes place in, our heroine, never even worries about what she'll do when that time comes. She doesn't even think about what supplies she might need, even though she's in the middle of an (alien) wilderness. Despite the fact, also, that the entire crew is female, periods never come up. Which only struck me because there is, in fact, a lot of discussion about supplies. A similar packing-for-a-possibly-suicidal-adventure scene in THE GIRL IN THE ROAD is all about, "I wonder how many periods I'll have, and what I should use when I have them?" Similarly, THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE could be subtitled, "F*ck, I still have to deal with my period in the apocalypse (and worse, while I'm trying to pass as a dude)." The heroine in that is always scouting for a pharmacy, not only for medicine, but also for tampons.

To be complete, periods never once came up in MEMORY OF WATER or Cherie Priest's MAPLECROFT DISPATCHES. So, it's not all women, all the time... and I'm certainly not implying that *not* mentioning a women's period is some kind of sin of omission. Certainly, I don't think about mine all the time (and I'd rather not think about yours, thank you very much, especially when there's something more interesting to talk about... which is pretty much anything.) But, I don't know. I guess I might expect it to come up when planning a trip or thinking about surviving in an unknown wilderness where there are no pharmacies to restock from... and maybe if these other women hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't notice when it's not there.

It certainly isn't this important, but I will tell you I'll be looking for it other places, gods help me. :-)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I've started following Locus Magazine on Twitter, so I can keep up with the award news as it rolls in. So now I have even more books to add:

According to Locus, "there are several titles of genre interest on the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize long list":

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (Picado)
The Country of Ice Cream Star, Sandra Newman (Chatto & Windus)
The Bees, Laline Paull (Fourth Estate)
The Table of Less Valued Knights, Marie Phillips (Jonathan Cape)

This is good news, because Shawn has been bugging me to add Station Eleven to my reading list because she thinks it would make an interesting compare and contrast to "actual" SF (as opposed to what mundanes THINK SF is.) Now I have an excuse. Honestly, I've never heard of the Baileys Women's Prize before, but apparently it comes with a cash prize.

In other news, I started working on a novella today. A friend of mine has been organizing a group of people to write a paranormal project together and listening to them talk about it has made me realize that if I have the energy to do something like that, I should really try seeing if I can write a few Tate one-offs as well.

I'm pleased to report I have about 2,000 words of a new Garnet Lacey novella. One that I intend to self-publish on Amazon. Fingers crossed that I can keep this project going.

Unjust Cause, speaking of other Tate projects, is currently languishing. I'm planning to, at some point this week, pull down copies of all my entries to-date to see if I can wrestle them into something resembling an actual novel. Then I need to read it and figure out where the heck it's going. So I can finish it.

That was an experiment that seems to have floundered. I still think it was important to do, and may very well be salvageable, but... yeah.

Still, it got me started writing on a new original project. Not all is lost! And I'm sure I can fix up what I do have.

At any rate, that's me. I'm also about 124 pages into THE THREE BODY PROBLEM and... well, things are finally starting to interest me. The book starts in a time and place I don't know very much about: The Chinese Cultural Revolution. I mean, I know some basics, and the stuff we see here is very dark. But, the narrative skips forward a bunch and I think we're finally in a thread that I can sink my teeth into. We'll see.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Today is the first day of MarsCON.

Looks like registration opens at noon, but I haven't had enough coffee yet to figure out when Opening Ceremonies is... I do have a panel at 4 PM, which I planned to arrive in time for. Hopefully, they won't need me too much before that since I have to pick Mason up after school, and he's not usually out until after 3 PM.

It's going to be a bit of a mad dash.

I've got a reading tonight and, of course, it finally hit me that what I should read from is the book that will be available there: SONG OF SECRETS, which I co-wrote with Rachel Calish. Depending on how much of that I want to read, I could also read part of my short story "God Box" which appeared in KING DAVID AND THE SPIDERS OF MARS as I'm thinking about bringing copies of that book along as well.

My schedule tonight is:

How Come Nobody’s Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) -- Friday 04:00 pm
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam

Fiction Reading: Lyda Morehouse
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) —Friday 08:00 pm
Come hear our Author Guest of Honor read her work.
With: Lyda Morehouse

FanFiction - Who, What, and Huh?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Friday 09:00 pm
From the basics for the beginners to your favorite websites to share your own stories.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rakhi Rajpal mod, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Susan Woehrle

In other news, Shawn is doing a lot better. She's still sleeping a lot, but I suspect that's what comes from removing an organ. But, she's otherwise back to doing most of the things she does. She's still restricted on lifting and OMG I can't wait until that's over, because I HATE DOING LAUNDRY SO MUCH.

I do a lot of other things around the house, including nearly all of the cooking and dish washing, but laundry has always been Shawn's thing and I can't wait for her to take it back. Also, I'm ready for her to go back to work, if only because the longer she stays home the more likely she is to notice how little ELSE I do around the house.


I just got the notice that THREE-BODY PROBLEM is ready for me to pick up at the Roseville library. I'm headed there in about a half hour to also return ANCILLARY SWORD, which *cough*I didn't finish.*cough* This will now be two out of the six books up for the Nebula that I just couldn't finish for one reason or another. As I was saying to Shawn last night, there's nothing _wrong_ with ANCILLARY SWORD, per se. I gave it a fair chance: nearly 200 pages. I just never got really engaged in the story. I found the world.. too stiff and formal and unemotional (which is weird because I think it's loosely based on Japan or China--there is a lot of bowing and tea and begging of pardons), and so I never connected. For me, it suffered from a whole lot of 'so what?' I finally found a character I sort of enjoyed, the alien translator, and, well, not to spoil anything, but let's just say my attachment to that person was short-lived.

I feel very strange about my inability to connect to either this or ANCILLARY JUSTICE, since so many people recommended the first book to me and it was up for nearly all the awards last year. I feel like I failed this book. Like there's something wrong with me that I didn't 'get' it.

Certainly, there are nifty things going on in Leckie's universe. I love the idea of the ancillary's themselves, even with their gruesome past. I love (though found it somewhat off-putting and jarring at first) the whole use of the feminine pronoun for all the things. Leckie's writing is strong--for the most part.

Leckie is hobbled by the constraints of her main character, Berq, though. Because Berq used to be a ship (for real, she was a space ship), she's not exactly *in* her body. She's not sensual in any way. There's no physical description of other characters beyond basics like skin color and a bit about hair. Gender, of course, is never attached. Which is so much the opposite of the other books I've read by women this year--so much body: so much sex with the body, so much awareness of the body's gender, so much indulging of the body with food (glorious food!) and pissing and shitting and bleeding and f*cking.

And I miss it.

I feel "floaty" and unanchored without it.

Add to that the emotionlessness of Berq and her culture, and I'm lost. Berq often has to *tell* me what she's feeling, rather than showing it physically (also something to do with this emotionless culture Berq is from). "I'm angry all the time" I read, and I thought, "You are? Since when? and Why?" (which seems like a major misstep, if I'm supposed to have known, much less felt it, too.)

Because of all this, I end up just not feeling it. Any of it.

I really wanted to like this book too. And I just didn't.

At any rate, I intend to bring my laptop with me to MarsCON over this weekend, so hopefully, I can regale you all with daily con reports.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Yesterday was a busy day for me. It started at 9 am, when we took Mason to his final Level 4 swim class of the season. Actually, his final Level 4 class EVER, because he passed the test! (Whoot!) I was glad that I stayed to see his beaming face when he showed us his certificate.


I'd been considering bailing early, because I am Moon-Moon and accidentally scheduled a day of work at the library that was SUPPOSED to start AT 10 am, which was when Mason's class ended.  But, when I realized my mistake, I was able to throw myself on the mercy of my scheduler at the library and she negotiated a 10:30 am start.  Considering I had to work at White Bear Lake, I still didn't think that would be quite enough time.  We had prepared Shawn with emergency taxi money JUST IN CASE.  But, they actually let out class ten minutes early, so, believe it or not, I managed to zip everyone home (mostly, Shawn and Mason agreed to walk three blocks so I could make a quick turn around and get back on the highway,) and myself ALL THE WAY OUT to White Bear in 40 minutes.

I might have considered the speed limit more of a guideline than a law, but... well, I got there with 5 minutes to spare.

The White Bear Library is nice.  It's small and, like Shoreview, doesn't have an automated check-in, but the atmosphere was relaxed...and GRATEFUL.  I guess they had someone quit rather unexpectedly--I know this because a full-time position opened up there.  I considered applying for it, but the hours were a bit wonky for what I needed.  At any rate, I had a lovely time.  I shelved a lot of books....

...which means I came home with a bunch.

I've decided to chronicle my strange book borrowing habits.  So, from the White Bear Library, I bought home:

  • GLADIATORS: History's Most Deadly Sport by Fik Meijer.

  • THE COMFORT WOMEN: Japan's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War by George Hicks.

  • LIFE AMONG THE SAMURAI by Eleanor J. Hall (a YA non-fiction)

  • HAWKEYE: Little Hits by Matt Faction/David Aja (graphic novel)

I.. yeah, I don't quite know what happens to me in the stacks, but SO MUCH looks interesting.  I started GLADIATORS last night and I haven't learned much that I didn't already know yet, but what the hey?  I may have accidentally picked up the second volume of the new Hawkeye title, but I thought I'd read it anyway.

After racing home, I connected with our friend Andrew from New York who is in town for the weekend.  He came over and regaled us with stories about taking the taxi to our house (which was apparently much harder than you'd expect) and his current life.  I could have happily hung out with him for the rest of the night, but we had a long-standing St. Patrick's Day (observed) party at [ profile] naomikritzer's we wanted to get to.  So, I took him back to his hotel, and then we all went over.  This is where Mason could have spent his night. He and Naomi's daughter Molly are huge pokemon fans, so they talked pokemon ALL NIGHT.  Meanwhile, Shawn and I enjoyed the company and ate Naomi's husband's fantastic corned beef and veggies.

I was actually an amazingly wonderful day, but, by the end of it, I felt like I'd driven all day long.

I'm looking forward to today, because I THINK I successfully talked Shawn into a pajama day, and I'd really, really love to spend this Sunday lounging around the house.

....Oh, and in case anyone is on tenterhooks, Susan did not eat any of the minnow.  She does seem to delight in terrorizing them by chasing them around, but we still have all seven after all.  
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I've STILL got this laryngitis thing, which has now successfully passed through our entire family, from Mason to Me to Shawn (who just started to get symptoms yesterday afternoon.)  :-(

In the book bad news/good news category, I got an email yesterday afternoon from the small press Mad Norwegian Press who published the prequel/sequel of my AngeLINK books, Resurrection Code.  They're taking Resurrection Code out of print.

That's obviously the bad news.

Part one of the good news is that the Norwegians are being extremely generous in their parting offer, including sending me the remaining print copies for me to distribute as I see fit.  They've also reverted my rights including rights to digital books, and have even donated the cover art (which is possibly the most gorgeous art I've *ever* had on the cover of any of my books).  I'm going to have to decide what I'm going to do with the print copies, but it may be possible for interested people to buy them directly from me or through my ancient website--though if I do that, it may be time for a major overhaul, which I've resisted for years. Nay, decades.

But, part two of the good news is that I emailed my e-publisher, Wizard's Tower Press, the folks who have been returning the other AngeLINK books back into e-print, and asked if they'd be interested in doing the same for Resurrection Code.  To my extreme  pleasure, they said yes.

It was the kind of quick turnaround I really needed.

I'm off to work at the library today.  I work today, tomorrow, and Saturday in an effort to really finally learn the job.  You wouldn't think being a library page would be that difficult, but as I said before it's so much more than shelving books these days.  A LOT of what they have me doing is staffing the front desk, which means I do things like replace lost library cards, check people out who've forgotten their library cards (did you even know you could do that?), collect overdue fines, deal with damaged CDs, and a surprising array of other functions.  So far, I really enjoy it.  I mean, as far as jobs go, it has a lot of variety.  One of the first jobs I ever had was as a receptionist at an extremely busy switch line/front desk at college.  I had to a zillion things, including record a daily announcement recording about all the events on campus.  I really liked that job. I'm about twenty-five years older now and out of practice at being perky and pleasant, but I can feel the muscle memories returning.  :-)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I'm finally happy with Tate's novel again. I've been going through everything I've written so far and tightening and reworking and massaging and all that light revision stuff. What happened was that, when I settled down to go over the notes from Wyrdsmiths last night, I realized that the first several chapters are actually quite strong.

It helps to know that the bones are there, you know?

I'm getting tired now, though. I haven't made my quota for the day, but I'll just have to pull up the slack this weekend. My family and I have been getting into the habit of having homemade hot chocolate every night before bed. It's actually pretty low on chocolate and high on warm milk. I am now getting very sleepy. It's like hypnotism, only involving my stomach.

I started reading LAST HAWK by Catherine Asaro, and it amuses me greatly. I may have to blog about this one eventually. I'm ridiculously enchanted by stories of gender role reversal, where women are agressive and in charge and the men get treated like repressed women in the 1950s or earlier. It's like some kind guilty pleasure. I read Wen Spencer's A BROTHER'S PRICE, which drove me a little crazy, but it has this same conceit.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. 'Nite.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
From my clipping service, aka [ profile] naomikritzer, I give you "Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword", a graphic novel based on a web comic of the same name about an Orthodox Jewish girl who has high fantasy-esque adventures. And, in a similar vein, "Bad Hebrew Tattoos". Ever wonder if that tattoo artist really wrote "Peace" in Chinese on your upper chest or something more like "stupid white girl"? Well, here are some real-life examples of people chosing (or mangling) Hebrew permanently on their skin.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Shawn arrived home safely on Friday night. The only thing that went awry while she was away was that I totally forgot to go pick up our very last CSA box. I blame MEA or whatever reason it was that we didn't have school. I managed to remember that it was Thursday in terms of recycling, but we were picking up Donte for the sleepover right about when I should have been collecting the box.

And it had spinach in it too. sigh.

We spent much of Saturday recovering/decompressing from the sleepover/business trip. I had a gig at the Roseville Public Library at 3:00 pm, which was a dud. They were having me speak in the middle of their "Harvest Festival" which included things that were a lot more awesome than me, like henna tattooing, storytime, etc. Plus, they put me in a very forbidding white room. Two people came. I talked to them anyway, and somewhere near the end of the hour four other people trickled in. We'd already devolved into talking about famous people we'd met, and I was telling my story of crashing Neil Gaiman's Guy Fawkes party (and how I peed in the same stall as Ursula K. LeGuin at WisCON.) If we were at a science fiction convention, we would have retired to the bar almost right away. :-)

But, the library was beautiful and the librarians were awesome. I so don't blame them -- or even the patrons for their disinterst. There was just too much other cool stuff going on at the same time. I mean, for God(dess)'s sake, they had a Wii in the teen scene room on a widescreen. If it were me, that's where I'd have been hanging out too!

Sunday, we celebrated full moon (which was actually Friday night) and then I spent the day cooking a chicken for my nephew Jonathan. I made some very odd, but ultimately sort of tasty coleslaw of the rutabega and turnip that were left over from the previous CSA box. It was strange, but it had a nice tang that I ended up enjoying. My mashed potatoes were so creamy they almost seemed fake, you know? My bread was perfect too, so, all round it was excellent food and even better company -- though I wasn't terribly focused for some reason. I think it might have been the rainy weather and the slowness of the weekend. Also, I spent a lot of my day reading and that can turn me rather introspectively quiet.

I finished up GRACLING by Katlin Cashore. Normally, I'm not a fan of BFFWMs (Big, Fat Fantasies with Maps,) but this YA was extremely compelling. Our heroine, Katsa, lives in a world where people like my mother (born with two different colored eyes) are graced -- they have some kind of superpower. Katsa has one blue, one green eye and her grace is killing. She's being used as a tool by her uncle, the king, and meets her match one day when she runs into Po, a foreign prince graced with fighting.

Or so it seems.

This book is new enough that I don't want to spoil it, so I won't tell you much more other than things are wonderfully complicated -- in a way that made me depressed that I hadn't thought of this idea first, you know?

At first I had a hard time relating to Katsa, but I eventually got used to Cashore's storytelling style, which reminded me of what I've read of Eleanor Arason's unfinished YA (the bonus of being in Wyrdsmiths.) Also, having just read HUNGER GAMES triology, I kept expecting something REALLY AWFUL to happen, and I was estaticlly relieved when it didn't. That might make it sound like nothing happens in this story, but that's not true. The story isn't typical hanging-on-the-edge-of-my-seat kind of exciting, but I was entirely engaged in the characters and what was happening in a way I haven't been in a long time. So I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who hasn't picked it up yet.

Also, and this is perhaps a weird comment, but I think I liked GRACLING because Katsa might be a courtly lady in a fantasy world, but all the things that bug me about fantasies bugged Katsa too. The court politics (while there and part of the story) were uninteresting to her. She found women's place in society wrong and unjust (and she eventually does something about it.) She's determined to remain unmarried and childless in a way you don't usually find in such an incredibly romantic story in a pastoral fantasy, you know? I found that utterly awesome. Plus, she's very obviously straight, but she cuts her hair like a boy and ocassionally passes as a boy in society. She extraordinarily butch, and I like that because as a teen I would have adored having this role model to consider among all the other character's lives I was "trying on" as part of my coming out process.

In fact, she's kind of who I was in high school before I realized that I didn't thrill to men quite the way I did to women. (For those who don't know, I like boys. I dated boys all though high school and into my first few months of college.) Anyway, Katsa is very admirable throughout. She's the kind of heroine that I often complain about not seeing enough of -- a tough woman who is still complicatedly human in her relationships, etc. She ends up having a child to protect (one of my bugaboos particularly of strong women in film) but their relationship ends up being richly complicated as well.

Anyway, I'm afraid I'll give the whole thing away if I talk too much about it. Maybe if we meet at a science fiction convention -- and you've read it too -- we can put our heads together and really discuss the book.

That'd be fun. See you there.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I finished MOCKINGJAY, the last book in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins, at about ten p.m. last night. I set the book down, turned off the lights, crawled into bed and hugged Shawn really tightly.

I laid there for a long, long time feeling awful.

If you don't know anything about this trilogy (...I'm surprised, because it's all over the NY Times bestselling list, even Entertainment Weekly has already put up votes for their dream cast for the eventual movie, but you might be like me and be about ten years behind any current trend, so...), the basic story at the start is about a fifteen year old girl, Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a future America where every year a kind of ultimate reality show is hosted in the Capitol, called "The Hunger Games." Children from each of the twelve districts (excuding the Capitol) are chosen to fight to the death as a kind of grisy bread-and-circuses, but with a political twist, as the twelve districts all took part in a revolution against the Capitol.

This kind of story has been kicking around science fiction since at least "The Running Man," if not before. But that doesn't diminish the power of Collins's take on it, IMHO, because what she does is give us an unblinking, relentless portrayal of the horrors of war and the effect violence has on individuals and communities.

That's a really worthy story. There is no violent act in this book that doesn't irreversibly change... well, everything. Read more... )

I got to the end (which I describe under the cut above to avoid spoilage, as MOCKINGJAY is brand, spanking new), and I realized that I could NEVER write a story like this. My own personal experience with loss is too raw, too painful. Collins never specifically touches on the experience I had, but she clearly gets how losing someone unexpectedly affects a person... and so the ending is just a bit TOO real for me.

And that was a surprising response that I suspect I'll be thinking about for years to come. Science fiction often gets a bad rap because we deal in things that aren't real (or, more accurately, things that are possible, but haven't happened yet and may never happen, but could.) Our films get mocked because we tend towards epic battles with bright explosions. And, maybe we aren't taken seriously sometimes because our genre tends to be optimistic -- hopeful, even.

And that's not terribly realistic.

Eleanor and I were talking about this a couple of weeks ago at our usual coffee/writing get together and she said she remembered a quote about science fiction that she thought was attributed to Asimov, but she wasn't sure. Anyway, she paraphrased it like this: science fiction is ultimately optimistic because it shows that there WILL be a future and it WILL be different.

I think even at our most dystopian, like cyberpunk, we might show a world as dark and brutal, but our hero/ines triumph in a satisfying, hopeful way.

Frankly, given what sh*t real life is, I need that.

MOCKINGJAY didn't pull any punches, and, honestly, I'm glad it didn't. I think the series is an awesome and worthy addition to our genre, but, for me, reading it... hurt. And I don't want to do that again for a while.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Yesterday, I got over my cranky in two ways. 1) I discovered that fixing (aka building) the broken link actually took only about ten minutes. It is, if you're interested, here: Almost to Die For Excerpt. I must have whined for at least twenty minutes, so I made myself feel pretty foolish for getting all worked up about something that took so little time.

2) I went to the beach. Mason and I like to go to Lake Josephine, and yesterday afternoon was perfect weather. It was hot... so hot that jumping into the lake was not one of those gradual, one toe at a time kinds of affairs, it was LEAP without regrets. I think I may have lost my .mp3 player and gotten a bit of a sunburn on my face (the one place I forgot to smear sunscreen), but it's hard to be Ms. Cranky Pants floating in cool water. At least it is for me. Especially with Mason squealing with delight and the little schools of fish fry darting about in the shallows. I could really tell that we've been getting significant rain, though. The water line was all the way up past the lifeguards' chairs to the retaining wall!

Yesterday, before we left for the beach, I finished HUNGER GAMES. I'll be curious to read the next book, CATCHING FIRE, because I found myself vaguely disatisfied by the ending of this one. I mean, it clearly goes on, and that's not really the problem for me. My issue was with Katniss. She's so emotionally closed off (with good reason, mind,) throughout the book, and, though she changes over the course of it, I was left wishing for a bigger transformation. I will admit, however, that having just come off ORDER OF THE PHOENIX I was in the mood for a major uprising, ala Fred and George Weasley vs. Umbridge. Shawn was telling me in the car this morning that CATCHING FIRE hasn't been quite as well recieved and I told her I suspect the reason may be that, IMHO, the next book has GOT to be more political. But, don't tell me if I'm wrong!!! I'm going off to the bookstore this afternoon to pick up CATCHING FIRE, so I'll know soon enough. It's kind of strange to actually be reading a book that other people are still reading. I mean, I've come _so_ late to Harry Potter, that it's strange to realize that MOCKINGJAY isn't even out yet.

Well, Mason is bored (he's stuck in his DS game and is wishing for a walk-through) and my battery is starting to ask me to plug in. See you later!
lydamorehouse: (Default)
My astrologically inclined friends should tell me what's up in the universe because I feel very clumsy and "off," today. I got plenty of sleep and I've had two cups of coffee, but I still just sort of feel disconnected (and my allergies aren't acting up in any visible way.)


Anyway, I was just on Facebook and I have to say that people are strange. Sometimes I think really hard about what to put in my status line and I get no response, and some days, like yesterday, I make an off hand comment about my sparkly new workout outfit and I get eleven comments. Oh, yes, I should tell you, I have a new workout outfit that involves skin tight, clingy fabric, hot pink, sparklies, and "Hello, Kitty." The idea of me in this thing has apparently blown the minds of several science fiction editors and a large contingent of my friends. I think I look fabulous. As did the dudes at the gym who totally checked me out.

Today is also the day that Tom Piccarelli asks his followers to tell him what they're reading, and I wrote that I'm about a 100 pages into a book that came out some time ago that I never got around to reading: THE GHOST BRIGADE by John Scalzi (Tor, May 2007). I actually bought it when he and I shared a signing at Uncle Hugo's in May 2007, but it sat on my TBR pile. I was finally in the right mood for it, and though I think the story actually starts on page 85, I'm enjoying it as I do most of Scalzi's stuff. I find him reliably READABLE for some reason, and I enjoyed OLD MAN'S WAR tremendously for what it was.

In other reading news, I finished Lilith Saintcrow's first book which I'd previously raved about... and now I'm.... hmmmm. If I hadn't picked up book 3 in the series THE DEVIL'S RIGHT HAND, I think I'd actually be super pissed off and trying to find a safe, anonymous place to rant about my colleague. But something seems to happen in book 2 that reverses/negates the ending of book 1. I may have to go out and buy #2 or read a synopsis before starting #3...but after all that urban fantasy I was in the mood for space opera, so now it will have to wait until I finish Scalzi.

Over the weekend I had one of those moments I'm sure a lot of you do. I was sitting in the sunshine on the front porch with a pile of books trying to decide what I was in the mood for next. I had Laura Resnick's DOPPLEGANGSTER, which I picked up solely based on its awesome title, PRISON SHIP by Michael Bowers, which I picked up for reasons I'd rather not discuss, and a book I'd read before but thought I might re-read if nothing else struck me WAR CHILD by Karen Lowachee. In the mix, too, was THE GHOST BRIGADE, which obviously won. But it occured me that a lot of reading I do has a lot to do with mood. I wanted (and no offense to Scalzi) a kind of high octane, slightly over the top, space opera.

The other thing I need to do today is get some publicity postcards ready for Tate and me. Speaking of May, Tate has a new book coming out and a signing at Uncles that I need to let people know about, which also means I should have some postcards for my two other books on hand to give out to people. So stuff to do. I should pack up now and move to the other coffee shop for my weekly writing date.

Hope you all are doing well!
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I'll bet there's something you don't know about me. I _love_ a good conspiracy theory. This all started when I was doing research for FALLEN HOST and I came across a book called, THE ANTICHRIST AND A CUP OF TEA by Tim Cohen, in which the author surrenders his copyright in case of apocalypse/the tribulation. (Oh how I wish I had thought of that! I wonder if Penguin would have let me!?)

Anyway, since then, I've bought books about any number of conspiracies: the knights templar's journey to America, the secret organizations running American politics, and the Masonic influence on architecture in Washington, D.C.

While at HPB, Shawn picked me up a new one: DARK MISSION: THE SECRET HISTORY OF NASA. I like this one because it's not the usual NASA conspiracy, which is the whole "we never went to the moon, but just faked the whole thing in Nevada" ala the movie "Capricorn One" (with OJ Simpson, no less). This book, instead, sets forth the theory that we *did* go to the moon, but we went there for more than routine exploration. Yes, my friends, we went because we KNOW that there are alien artifacts to be had and we want their technology before the Russians/China/newest enemy can get their hands on 'em.

Like any truly useful conspiracy, the NASA book works for me because it lays out stuff that would be sort of cool if it were true. I ADORE the idea that an android crashed on the moon and we went to collect its parts or that the "face" on mars isn't just a trick of shadow -- but an actual monument built by an ancient civilization.

Tell me that wouldn't be awesome!

But I can't read conspiracy books in one sitting or they do weird things to my brain, so I've been alternating between DARK MISSION and Lilith Saintcrow's WORKING FOR THE DEVIL. I mostly know Saintcrow from all the redirects to her blog that Kelly posts over at Wyrdsmiths' blogspot (if you haven't checked it out, she has great stuff to say about writing), and, anyway, while we were at Barnes & Noble I saw that they had the first book in the used section. So I picked it up thinking I'd give it a try. I've been really enjoying it so far. I'm about half way through, and I'm harboring a serious crush on her Lucifer, as well as the demon "Jaf."

I think if you're a fan of my Morningstar, read/write slash, and enjoy urban fantasy -- these books are for you. The universe she's create is loosely science fictional (certainly as much as mine ever were,) and she has a very interesting Univeralist take on religion. After an "Awakening" people develop psi powers and all of the old religions (and parts of Christianity, etc.) become "real." It's not clear how all this came to pass, but it really doesn't matter to me because I enjoy the implications and what she does with it all.

Anyway, I'm pleased to see that there are a bunch of books in the Dante Valentine series, so if I end up liking the novel all the way through I have more to get right away.

Today I have to get writing, because I ended up up skivving off from "work" yesterday. Shawn needed to renew her driver's license, so I took her to our favorite DMV over lunch. After that I kind of lost steam, so instead of writing, I mopped the dining room floor. This week is Shawn's birthday (April 1, no foolin') and part of my plan is to mop all the floors as an extra birthday gift. (If you knew Shawn, you would understand that this consitutes a MAJOR gift -- especially from me.)

Not much else is happening. How about with you?


Feb. 1st, 2010 10:39 am
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I thought about titling this post: "Things You Didn't Know People ACTUALLY Did..." because on Friday, when school was out for teacher professional day, I took a friend's kids and Mason to the Children's Museum. We all had an awesome time, because my strategy for dealing with multiple kids with multiple agendas at the Children's Museum is to impose one simple rule: I stand at the door to the gallery. When you want to move to a new gallery, it's your job to round everyone up and convince them to go together.

This works suprisingly well.

I was also very worried about taking care of these guys, so the night before I came up with a couple of other strategies. I brought snacks. I brought water. I brought a mostly empty backpack for all the THINGS kids accumulate/take off during a visit to the Children's Musuem.

I ended up feeling pretty smug about my ability to herd cats... and we all had a great time. I even got a few pictures of the kids being cute in various galleries (dinos were a big hit). But right at the end of my tenure as super mom of three, everything fell apart. As my friend was picking up his kids and we were transferring booster seats back into his car, his son ACTUALLY stuck his tongue on the frozen metal pole of our stair railing.


I ran back in the house to get hot water in a plastic bottle, but while I was waiting the few seconds for the water to heat sufficiently, the boy tore his tongue from the pole. OW! I presume he's okay, despite all the blood, because his sister informed us that he was at school today. But... wow. I didn't know people actually did that.

Today is the craziness, however, so I'm just going to give you a taste of what I need to accomplish today and then run off to try to do it. I have to fax page proofs back to Penguin for Tate's HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD. I have to get to the post office to mail books to some fans. I have to write a zillion more words on RESURRECTION CODE, and write a proposal for an adult book for Tate's agent to try to sell to Penguin.

Oh and probably eat lunch and pick up my kid from school at some point and clean the house... oh, and learn Sanskrit!

Yay! Love my life! (seriously, universe!)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I spent this morning at my least favorite place (the Mall) again. Worse, the place I went to *cough*theLEGOstore*cough* didn't have what I was looking for. (I'd say, but it's a secret and Mason might read it here.)

Plus, I decided I hate the Mall's Barnes & Noble. Specifically. More precisely I hate the people in the children's department, but I think maybe it extends to all the book buyers. Here's the thing. I'm looking for a particular book to buy for a friend. The book is NOT out of print, but it isn't very THIS year, shall we say (although a book in this series did come out this year.) Are there copies of any of the books in this series at the Mall's B&N? No. In fact, I got a very snotty, "Oh, [author's name]... no, we wouldn't have any of those." Like what, because it's more than a day old it's to DIRTY for your store???

What I hate is that in terms of floor space/shelf space for books B&N has an embarrassment of riches. They have a lot of room. Much more, than say Uncle Hugo's, our local, independent SF/F speciality bookstore. Yet Don manages to find space for more than the most recent book in a series... heck, he finds space for out-of-print books like mine. I would probably be wrong about this, but I would bet that Don probably shelves more books than some B&Ns.

I'm also irritated by the fact that certain series, of course, like Twilight and other hot sellers, take up a disproportionate part of B&N's floor space. But there are Twilight plushy dolls, calendars, board games, book bags, toothbrushes....

I'm mad because I went to the Mall for two things and I walked out with neither. But it also irritates me as an author, because I know that even my Tate books are often hard to find at a B&N because they aren't this week's "it" thing. Tall, Dark & Dead is still in print as far as I know, but you won't find it at the Mall.


Anyway, that's my rant for the day. I'm off to work on my editoral notes for ALMOST, so I can get those off my plate and on to more important things (like RESURRECTION CODE.)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Okay, I should be working on revisions, but Mason is home from school (some scheduled deal -- I swear kids spend every other Friday home.) We went to the library this morning. I should learn never to go to the library with a list of books I want to find. My library never has them. I have to order them or put myself on a waiting list. I did pick up Scott Westerfeld's SO YESTERDAY, though what I really wanted was the first of his UGLIES/PRETTIES series. While I was searching him in the database, I discovered Westerfeld wrote EVOLUTION'S DARLING, a book (and short story) that I found strange yet compelling. So when they had SO YESTERDAY on the shelf and it didn't seem to be the third or thirteenth book in a series, I picked it up. The nice thing about the library is that if it's not my taste, I can just drop it off. No questions asked.

I finished Willis' INSIDE JOB last night after Wyrdsmiths. That book was pretty awesome. I hesitate to recommend it because it might be hard to find, as Subterranean Press is somewhat smallish. Anyway, I ripped through it, though, like I noted yesterday, it's a small book, maybe even just a novellette.

A friend recommended VELLUM: THE BOOK OF ALL HOURS by Hal Duncan, which I tried to find at the library to no avail. It was supposed to be on the shelf, but it wasn't! When I took Mason to HalfPrice Books, there it was, tauting me. So I bought it. (I hope it doesn't suck! I can't return it!)

Also, since all of the kids are reading it, I tried to check out BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest but my library had ordered it but not put it in the system officially yet. No one has dropped one used yet, no surprise, though, since it's so new.

If you can't tell, all I want to do on a snowy day like today is curl up with one of these books and read. I don't want to work on my revisions, especially since I have to sit at the "big" computer to write (as opposed to my paperweight of a laptop.) After this Backyardigans is over, I'm going to coax Mason out into the cold. We need to check and see if a local computer shop has a replacement cord. It would be nice to be able to use my laptop sooner rather than later. Obviously the big computer works fine (since I'm using it to write to you), but it's not as comfy as laying on the couch or in the bed and I've gotten awfully spoiled by the convenience of that.

Also, I have to say my instinct was right. There's been a thread about advances on a list of professional SF/F writers that I belong to that I have quite purposefully avoided. Knowing what other people get paid for their writing is potentially crazy-making. The thread came up at Wyrdsmiths and I actually got interested enough to check it out this morning. Mistake. Now I feel even LESS like doing my revisions. Although if I don't do them, I don't get paid at all....

Though I don't really have that much to do. Some of it is very simple. But, like I've been saying, I've been paying more attention to the book because it *is* the last of the Garnet books and I don't want it to be a disappointment to readers.

I need to get it off my plate, though, because the next big thing I need to do is come up with some proposals for more adult books by Tate. My editor is willing to consider more contemporary urban fantasy. I'd like to be able to give my agent a range of ideas, maybe a half dozen. Shawn and I came up with some ideas, but I need to flesh them out into proposals so I have something to offer.

Plus all my web pages are woefully out-dated.

Stuff to do!
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I was going to post this over at Wyrdsmiths, but I noticed Kelly was in the queue and decided to let him go first.  


I just found out that a friend of mine got dropped by her publisher.  She was in the middle of a series and, “due to lackluster sales” they pulled the plug on her W.I.P. 


I’ve been there.  It hurts.  The worst part of it is that, in the current publishing climate, this sort of thing happens more often than we’d like to think about.  As I said in my post over at SF Novelists about pseudonyms, while many authors are ready to point out bestsellers that don’t “deserve” their success (just think back to the flack around Bridges of Madison County,) even though they should know better, they’re often more than willing to believe that books die due to quality alone.  The unspoken implication is that if you’d written a better book, it’d still be in print.


This is a lie.  It’s also a very hurtful one, because the nature of writing (and its life of rejections) is already full of self-doubt.  It’s often easy for a writer to believe they sucked themselves out of a book contract.  And stop writing.


Maybe you think I’m crying sour grapes.  After all, my books tanked.  When my second book was remaindered I was looking for other professional writers to talk to about it – commiserate, talk shop.  I cast around and someone who’d been through this sort of thing was recommended to me.  I sent her an email.  This writer, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, later told me she’d read my book, “just to make sure” before talking to me.  Make sure, she didn’t have to say, that I didn’t actually deserve my fate… and that the books were actually “good.” After determining that, she felt free to give me career advice.


It was hard to listen to any advice this author dispensed because I knew (even though it had happened to her!) that part of her bought into the publishers’ big lie: that good books do well and bad books die.


As much as we like to gripe about how the other guy is merely a hack, truly bad books don’t make it over the transom.  An entire team of people, including the bean counters, approve a book before an editor makes an offer to a writer (or, rather a writer’s agent, who also had faith in the book enough to try to sell it).  Also keep in mind that “lackluster sales” for a mass-market book often count in the tens of thousands.  Books that are critical successes – not only loved by reviewers, but also by award committees – still tank.  (Think about Megan Lindholm). 


Also, there are a lot of factors that completely fall outside of anyone’s control (even the publishers’), like readers’ trends.  It’s absolutely true that a cover sells a book, but it’s still a big question as to what it *is* about a cover that gets readers to pick it up.  There are lots of theories:  one of the reasons you often see people’s faces on the cover of books is that it’s generally believed that readers’ respond positively to an image of a person on the book.  Apparently, they like it even better when that person is looking directly at them.  Of course, books aren’t normally shelved with their covers’ facing outward, so the book has to do even more than catch your eye to people to pick it up.  What that is is anyone’s guess – publishers have admitted that a lot of this stuff is completely baffling to them as well (see NY Times article).


Books fail.  It’s just the hard cold truth of today’s publishing industry.  It’s nobody’s fault.  The only thing a writer can do is keep writing. 

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