15-ish Books of Summer 2016

15booksfinalCathy at 746 Books is hosting 20 Books of Summer again, or if you’re a slow reader like me, 10 15 Books of Summer. Looking back at last year, I’m pretty happy with how well I did. I finished 7/10 from my list! Picking from my other reading lists really kept things fresh. Instead of giving myself “switch-out” ability this year, I’m picking a dozen books. Against my better judgment, I’m going to shoot for 15 books (from a list of 22).

What’s on my list?

#24in48 ~ Update 4 & Wrap Up

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For some reason, the 24 in 48 never goes well for me. Time-wise, I only read for 12 hours, but I did finish all 24 stories that I had chosen!

My top five from the weekend:

  1. “Monkey King, Faerie Queen” by Zen Cho
  2. “Multo” by Samuel Marzioli
  3. “All Souls Proceed” by KJ Kabza
  4. “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon
  5. “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky

The top two are by authors I was completely unfamiliar with!

Continue reading

ROW80 ~ Week 3 Update, 7/24…er, 7/25

Update

This is late due to the readathon over the weekend. After the last of the short stories, I was done with blogging/social media for the weekend.

Last week…

On Monday, I rewrote the first scene of One Ahead: The Case of the Horrid Haunting (title subject to change). It was a scene that, in the first draft, Eric called boring. After rewriting it once, I decided I actually needed to burn it to the ground and start over. That was Tuesday into Wednesday. I am a horribly indecisive rewriter. I can sit paralyzed for hours over changing a sentence. That I moved on and finished rewriting two other chapters is a win. That I didn’t spend the amount of time I said I was going to on writing is not.

I’d like to finish the second draft this week. I have a substantial change in mind for one of the plot points, so that may be an ambitious goal. But if I put in the hours…

This week, I also have set up for VOTS Fall League and Chris is coming into town at some point.

The past week’s progress is in blue.

Goals

Writing

One Ahead series
  • Rename files in a manner that makes sense.
  • Gather notes and make a timeline of planned stories.
  • Reread first One Ahead story. Decide on a subtitle.
  • Decide on subtitle for second story.
  • Rewrite/finish second draft of The Horrid Haunting. Rewrote Ch. 1-3
  • Edit pass on second story.
  • Draft third story.

Publishing

Website (no progress)
  • Change the header to be a SSI. Improve accessibility and validate.
    • update front page
    • update subpages
  • Website metrics?
  • Fix /images  /img
  • Update “Other Works” page.
  • Should I set up a One Ahead page? Cart before horse?
  • Change blog links to drive traffic to website.

Personal Growth

Courses at Code Academy:
  • Finish Python .
  • Learn SQL – four sections.  1/4
  • SQL: Table Transformation – four sections
  • SQL: Analyzing Business Metrics – two sections

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Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals!

#24in48 ~ Update 3

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18 stories
9:31 hours

Quick update on the past six stories:

13 – “Monkey King, Faerie Queen” by Zen Cho
Genre: mythological mash-up
Quote: You don’t know who Sun Wukong is? You’re kidding! You haven’t heard of the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, the one who is Mindful of Emptiness, the Exquisite and Most Satisfactory Prince of Monkeys, defier of gods and Buddhas alike, scorner of other people’s dignity and personal inspiration to little monkeys everywhere?
Comment: The most fun I’ve had all weekend.

14 – “Ghoulbird” by Claude Seignolle
Genre: horror
Quote: ‘What a pity that this fabled Ghoulbird of yours is only a legend; otherwise, I would have listened to its song and applauded with enthusiasm!’
Comment: But, of course, the ghoulbird isn’t just a legend. Best not confuse a harbinger with the doom it announces.

15 – “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon
Genre: fantasy
Quote: …obviously if you had unholy powers, you’d want to use them on your tomatoes.
Comment: Considering how much I’ve always liked Ursula Vernon’s art, I’m surprised I haven’t read that much of her fiction. This is a Southwester fairy tale with tendrils into other stories. I dig it.

17 – “Lich-House” by Warren Ellis
Genre: science fiction
Quote: The house watched, and managed, the smallest parts of its anthropic usage. It made the occupant feel like her house liked her: that her house could feel and think.
Comment: Eh, wasn’t feeling this story of a smart house and its “aggressively non-networked intruder.”

16 – “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
Genre: horror
Quote: They’re never as strong as they think they are.

18 – “Magdala Amygdala” by Lucy A. Snyder
Genre: horror
Quote: The truth is, unless you’ve been living in some isolated Tibetan monastery, you’ve already been exposed to Polymorphic Viral Gastroencephalitis.

Comment: I haven’t cared too much for the last three stories in this group and two of the last three (#16 & #18) suffer the same problem. The news has been filled with lots of ugliness lately; I find no catharsis in serial killers and zombies.

#24in48 ~ Update #2

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My List
Update #1

12 stories
6:18 hours

At about noon yesterday, a was slammed by a combination of cramps and an RA flare-up. I struggled through story #11 and called it day reading-wise. So, once again, I’m not going to make it to 24 hours of reading. But I still have a few good hours left in me as long as I stay clear-headed. I’ll probably forego further updates until Tuesday.

7 – “Cassandra” by Ken Liu
Genre: speculative fiction, superhero
Quote: “Wouldn’t it be better,” I plead, “to kill the man long before he got on the plane rather than having to rescue the plane as it plunges toward the ground?”
Comment: What if the difference between a superhero and a supervillain is *when* they decide to take action.

8 – “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky
Genre:
Quote: I would astonish everyone assembled, the biologists and the paleontologists and the geneticists, the reporters and the rubberneckers and the music aficionados, all those people who—–deceived by the helix-and-fossil trappings of cloned dinosaurs––believed that they lived in a science fictional world when really they lived in a world of magic where anything was possible.
Comment: This story has been a firebrand in the Sad Puppies/SJW debate. And…I sort of agree with the Puppies. WAIT! That doesn’t mean that this isn’t an excellent story. It’s one that’s going to stick with me. I won’t say a lot about it because it’s short and the link is right up there. It literally took me 6 minutes to read it, so check it out. But it’s also not really science fiction or fantasy. It’s sort of an extended literary prose poem. If you’re going to give awards for genre, give awards to genre… (And I won’t get into the ghetto-ization that genre causes and why giving a genre award probably doesn’t lead to wider readership…)

9 – “The Shell of Sense” by Olivia Howard Dunbar
Genre: horror, sort of
Quote: Then, for this was my first experience of the shadow-folded transition, the odd alteration of my emotions bewildered me.
Comment: Once I thought about writing a story about a ghost left watching as everyone else’s live continues. I would have been 100 year too late to the concept. Lovely prose.

10 – “The Priory Church” by James Collins
Genre: horror
Quote: (brain fog set in…)
Comment: Really enjoyed how different the voice of pompous Peverell was in comparison to the frame story.

11 – “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard
Genre: science fiction
Quote: Mem-implants always went from parent to child. They were a family’s riches and fortune; the continued advice of the ancestors, dispensed from beyond the grave.
Comment: But what is your parent is an important scientist? And you’re…not. Would those memories be wasted?

12 – “Listen” by Karin Tidbeck
Genre: science fiction
Quote: In the moment they spoke, they were completely understandable. But as soon as they fell silent, any memory of what they had said disappeared.
Comment: Both of the stories on my list from Tor.com have music as a part of them. Also an interesting synergy between this story and “Candy Girl.” Both have characters who wish desperately (and foolishly?) to integrate into another culture.

#24in48 ~ Update 1

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My Plan

6 stories
3:08 hours

My stories have been relatively short thus far.

1 – “Multo” by Samuel Marzioli
Genre: horror
Quote: The past is never gone, only forgotten.
Comment: “Multo” begins with the above quote, a salawikain, a Tagalog proverb. The narrator of this story is contacted by his old neighbor who asks, do you remember the multo—the ghost? The narrator certainly does. This was my first story of the readathon, which I read at 10pm. Ever think there might be something in the shadows, the “idling dark” as Marzioli puts it, that causes you to maybe leave a dark room a little faster than is reasonable for an adult? Ever have sleep paralysis? All of that with a supernatural tinge.

2 – “Osiana” by Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold
Genre: fantasy
Quote: Her choices were to be taller than the post, or be turned out to some guard company to be shagged to death.
Comment: Osiana has a novel solution to being short. This warrior woman doesn’t let it get in her way.

3 – “Pigeons from Hell” by Robert E. Howard
Genre: horror
Quote: They say the pigeons are the souls of the Blassenvilles, let out of hell at sunset.
Comment: I don’t think I’ve really read any Robert E. Howard. I was a little worried, when I realized that this story takes place in the South and involves characters from the West Indies that it might be wincingly racist, as some of Howards contemporaries can be *cough*Lovecraft*cough*. It wasn’t. I was fairly surprised by this haunted house story.

4 – “All Souls Proceed” by KJ Kabza
Genre: magical realism? sure
Quote: Hello, I say to the bike, but of course bikes don’t talk. It rolls on past me, stiffly, in non-acknowledgment.
Comment: This is just a beautiful gem of flash fiction. I won’t say much. Just go read it.

5 – “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar
Genre: science fiction
Quote: For the past is a world one cannot return to, and the future is a world none has seen. (Kind of an interesting contrast to the quote from “Multo.”)
Comment: In the near future, people are paying for the privilege of taking a one-way trip to Mars, everyone in their own “jalopy”—what a great use of a word for tiny, questionable space crafts. Some of these travelers, like Mei with bone cancer, won’t make it to Mars, but maybe its a better future than can be hoped for.

6 – “Candy Girl” by Chikodili Emelumadu
Genre: I’m going to go with magical realism again. Contemporary fantasy? I don’t know…
Quote: “That foolish man,” Ozulu says. “Does he not know the gods are tricky?”
Comment: Gini has been cursed by Paul, her ex and an ingratiating douche. She’s becoming the thing he likes most: chocolate.

#24in48 Readathon, Summer 2016

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Beginning at 12:01am on Saturday morning and running through 11:59pm on Sunday night, readers read for 24 hours out of that 48 hour period. You can split that up however you’d like: 20 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday; 12 hours each day; six 4 hour sessions with 4 hour breaks in between; whatever you’d like.

The readathon takes place this weekend, July 23-24. I’m going to start at the “official” time 12:01am Eastern which means my readathon starts on Friday 10pm 9pm. Need more info? 24 in 48 Readathon

Intro Survey

  1. Where in the world are you reading from this weekend? Tempe, AZ – Hopefully, next week will be a lot cooler. *crosses fingers*
  2. Have you done the 24in48 readathon before? I have, but this is the first time I’m doing it without having some other something going on.
  3. Where did you hear about the readathon, if it is your first? N/A (And my memory isn’t that good!)
  4. What book are you most excited about reading this weekend? I’m excited to read stories by KJ Kabza and Lavie Tidhar because I know they’re both excellent writers.
  5. Tell us something about yourself. One of my favorite subjects to read about is the history of magic.

What will I be reading?

Aside from maybe finishing up Presto! or The Sister Brothers, I’m going to join Jay at Bibliophilopolis in a Deal Me In variation. (Wait, what’s Deal Me In?) I’ve assigned one of 24 cards (a euchre deck, I am told) to 24 short stories that I’ve bookmarked online in the last year and a half. Since I’m a slow and capricious reader, I don’t know how far I’ll get. If I finish 12 stories on this list I’ll be pretty happy.

Review ~ I Lie for Money

I Lie for Money: Candid, Outrageous Stories from a Magician’s Misadventures by Steve Spill

Cover via Goodreads

In this funny, irreverent, unique, eccentric memoir, magician Steve Spill reveals how he managed to survive decades inside a rarely profitable, sometimes maddening, but often deliciously rewarding offbeat showbiz profession—magic!
Spill tells of how his tailor grandfather sewed secret pockets in a magician’s tuxedo back in 1910, which started his childhood dream to become a magician. This dream took Spill on a journey that started with him performing, as a young boy, at a “Beauty on a Budget” neighborhood house party to engagements in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, to today in Santa Monica, California, where he’s been starring in his own shows since 1998 at Magicopolis, the theater he designed and built himself.

Being a magician has given Spill the opportunity to interact with the world’s most famous and fascinating people. In his memoir, Spill reveals the many unique encounters that his profession has led him to enjoy and endure: hosting Sting as his opening act one night, spending two days on camera with Joan Rivers, and selling tricks to Bob Dylan, as well as encounters with Adam Sandler, Stephen King, and other celebrities.

I Lie for Money is a literary magic show that captures the highs and lows of an extraordinary life that will delight and amaze you with wit and wickedness. This book should be an obligatory read for anyone considering a creative career, and it serves as an inspiration to those who desire to craft an independent life. (via Goodreads)

Steve Spill is a working magician. He’s spent five decades not only honing his magic skills, but his skills as a performer. He’s worked every sort of venue you might associate with magicians…and a few you wouldn’t. He has stories about some of the great magicians of the 20th century and even some celebrity dish. He designed and runs his own theater in LA. All that is interesting and entertaining, but the parts of I Lie for Money that spoke to me weren’t the stories about achievements. They were the stories about failures. Not every performance goes smoothly, and not every trick is a good one. Spill isn’t shy about those things, but his success proves that setbacks aren’t the end of the line. *That* is what makes this book a good read for anyone in a creative endeavor. It’s certainly something I need to be reminded of.

 

I have a soft spot for ducks (and geese, I suppose). Here’s Steve Spill and the mind reading goose, a performance from the mid-1980s.

Publishing info, my copy: Kindle ebook, Skyhorse Publishing, 2015
Acquired: July 20, 2015, Amazon (I bought this book a year ago!)
Genre: memoir