Monthly Archives: October 2009

A year’s worth in two months.

Michael Stackpole on Cory Doctorow (at least parts one and two):
Deconstructing Cory Doctorow’s “Experiment”
What is Cory Doing Right?

Also, Query Shark has some new posts.

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I have a couple more days to work on Model Species before NaNoWriMo. Mostly, I need to eliminate the myriad of weak words that creep into my writing. Yesterday, it was the word “up.” My characters look up, stand up, take up, straighten up, sit up, gather up, glance up…and most of those can be removed and sentences improved. December will be used for the remainder of the polishing and for re-crafting a query letter.

And November is of course NaNo. I’m looking forward to it so much so that I’m not feeling any Halloween vibe. I haven’t decorated much and, considering that kids don’t trek up to my apartment, I probably won’t hand out candy. I might not carve a pumpkin.Tomorrow is our Halloween league game, and I don’t think I’m going to go in costume for the first time in a few years. I have Halloween socks, but it might not be sock-weather. More like pants-weather. Or long socks *and* pants-weather. We’ve had a cold snap: Highs in the low 60s.

I seem to be saving my energy for November. In addition to NaNo, I potentially have social engagements the first three Saturdays and in-laws in town for Thanksgiving as well as the usual stuff. And then there’s gearing up for the December holidays and a possible trip to California for an old friend’s wedding. For socially quiet me, this is like a whole year’s worth of work and play wrapped in a two-month package.

Readathon! The Final Hours

Considering I had one hour of sleep between 8am Friday morning and 11pm Saturday night (and that was a nap in Eric’s ugly, green chair), it’s not surprising that I couldn’t keep my eyes open by hour 23 of the read-a-thon. If I do this again, a little more planning might be in order.

Compared to other readers, I didn’t get through too many pages. For me, I did pretty well. 230 pages on Ripley Under Water, 26 pages of The Two Towers, a couple articles, and 167 pages of Slippage.. That’s more than I’ve read in a long while and I enjoyed it. If there’s one thing I don’t have in my schedule, it’s reading time.

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Book #19 – Ripley Under Water

This is the last book in the Ripley series, or Ripliad. I’ve now read four out of the five. Under Water is pretty much the direct sequel of the first two books. It was published 36 years after The Talented Mr. Ripley and eleven years after the previous Ripley novel The Boy Who Followed Ripley (the only one I haven’t read yet). Under Water is no where as good as the first three. It is meticulously plotted. Everything that needs to happen happens. The problem is that what happens isn’t very interesting. There are many conversations, “real” sounding as they may be–filled with tangents and inside jokes, that just don’t go any where. Ripley’s charmingly psychopathic habits of gardening and killing people wear a little thin when too much time is spent on the gardening. Very little happens over the course of 300 pages when the set-up is one that could lead to Ripley coming up against an actual challenge. Ah, well.

Readathon! Part 3

10:45 – Putting down Ripley Under Water for a little while. Highsmith’s potting is meticulous, but this one is lacking in swift movement. Back to Slippage for at least a story.

11:07 – Honestly, I can’t think of a nicer morning than listening to football and reading. Well, the Huskers could be winning…

12:30 – Confession: The NU game stole some of my attention and I headed out to EVal NaNo Kick-Off a tad bit late. And missed my connecting bus. I walked the remaining two miles.

16:00 – Left EVal NaNo Kick-Off. Missed bus. Walked the remaining two miles. I should have waited and read, but I walking felt good.

17:07 – Back home, back to reading. I have seven hours left.

Readathon! Part 2

05:36 – Awake again. Dreamt of pepperoni pizza. I have a migraine aura that probably won’t develop into a headache due to the amount of caffeine I’ve had, but will make reading difficult. Time for some Patricia Highsmith, Ripley Under Water. Pizza later.

07:28 – Diligently reading. I need to wake Eric up in a few minutes. He has class today.

08:35 – Yes, I am a slow reader. Not even 100 pages in three hours. Time for Red Baron French Bread Pizza.

09:27 – Turning on the Nebraska/Iowa State game. I plan to continue reading throughout. I am determined to at least finish Ripley today.

My plan is to take a shower at half time and head off to EVal NaNoWriMo after the game. Reading all the while. Well, except when in the shower.

Read-a-thon! Part 1

11:50 – I ended up having a Rockstar at about 6:30pm to ward off a migraine, which probably contributed to my inability to nap. I’ll regret that later, I’m sure. I pulled about nine more books from the back room, including some Richard Laymon, a few thinner works (like a collection of Ray Bradbury plays), and my starting book: Slippage by Harlan Ellison.  It’s been a while since I’ve read any Ellison.

Here goes nothing:

00:00 – Harlan Ellison’s Slippage and a big pot of coffee.

01:07 – Finished the Introduction and first story of Slippage. I said I was a slow reader. I’m a bit tired, but faring well enough.

01:59 – Taking a break from Ellison to read a couple of online articles:
‘Smart Choices’ Food Labeling Loses Support – NYTimes.com:

“It clearly blew up in their faces,” Mr. Jacobson said. “And the ironic thing is, their device for pre-empting government involvement actually seems to have stimulated government involvement.”

Heh. Well, that’s something at least.
Tor.com / Living Poe Girl, Part IV: The Young Girl of the Valley
The conclusion of the series, I believe.

02:30 – Reading this week’s Tolkien: The Two Towers, Book 4, Ch. 5 – The Window on the West

03:39 – Read TTT: Bk 4, Ch. 6 as well, so I’m now ahead of Tor’s read through. Also nodded off a little. Back to Ellison.

04:29 – About 1/3 done with Slippage. I think I need a little nap. Eric’s chair should be (un)comfortable enough. He has class tomorrow so his alarm is set for 6:15. I plan to be awake again before that.

Because, well, why not?

I wouldn’t say I’m a sucker for internet-instigated -a-thons, but after several NaNoWriMos, a crack at a 101 things list*, and (now) interest in Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon, maybe I am. Maybe I’m lemming-like. Maybe I yearn for that sense of belonging that comes from being a part of something…sort of trivial. Or maybe I just have a huge to-be-read pile and am really bored with my current routine. Whatever the case, I’m curious to see how much I can get read in 24 hours at my usually slow pace.

I intend to blog while it’s going on; hopefully, as I finish books and cans of Low Carb Rockstar, and will Twitter some. I intend to cheat a little: Starting at midnight PST (instead of 5am), adding some magazines to the TBR pile, and taking a few hours off tomorrow afternoon to attend the East Valley NaNoWriMo kick-off party.

Wish me luck and feel free to play along at home.

What’s on my list currently:
A chapter or two of The Two Towers
Finish Ripley Under Water by Patricia Highsmith
The Caliphate by Jack Stewart (which I’m supposed to review)
Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin
Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury
Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years edited by Michael Kurland
A couple Avram Davidson stories
Read some of Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale
Finish Selected Poems by Christina Rossetti
Plus probably a few Scientific Americans and some gaming materials.
And who knows what else.  If I get that far I’ll be lucky.

Right now, I need a nap.

*Something I need to blog about one of these days.

Dracula, Poe, mild neuroses.

Books 17 & 18: Dracula and a bit of Poe.

Finished reading Dracula this morning. As I mentioned before, I’ve enjoyed the reread more than I did reading it when I was young and actually interested in the vampire genre. And amid such kerfuffle about what kids should be reading in school, I wonder if it matters whether young people should be reading “classics.” Much of classical literature is wrapped in its historical (and maturity?) context. Much of that context is lacking in high school because the kids haven’t been taught the history and “social studies” needed to appreciate what’s going on within those books. It’s not necessarily a failing on the part of the schools, it’s due to there not being enough time to cover all the stuff that has been deemed important. It seems to me that if curricula were interwoven between subjects it would make things more interesting for all involved. But until then, maybe we should get kids reading first.

(Then again, I am reminded about a recent anecdote about a presumably native US citizen that didn’t know how many stars and stripes the US flag has or why there is that number. There are bigger problems with the educational/parenting system.)

Since I was behind on the chronological reading of Dracula, I jumped ship and started following Infinite Summer: Dracula‘s posts. Some good posts. Thanks, Nate, for pointing it out to me.

As perfect October accompaniment, Tor.com bloggist S.J. Chambers is writing a series of posts called Living Poe Girl, looking at “Berenice”, “Morella”, “Legia” and “Eleonra” within the context of Poe’s history. (I also added “The Oval Portrait” and the excellent “Philosophy of Composition” to bring me up to speed.)

Posts, thus far:
Part I: Objects of Desire
Part II: An Alchemical Marriage
Part III: Metaphysical Motherhood

My initial impression: It’s interesting that most of these women are very intelligent and very focused in their intellectual pursuits. Very masculine in that respect. In part, this might be due to an inability of Poe’s part to portray a female mind. It is rather telling though that the male narrators and POV characters of these stories fear the intellect of these women. This could be a reflection of the age of suffrage, or maybe Poe’s personal view on the unnaturalness of those characteristics in women.

Whatever the case, I’m counting Living Poe Girl and the extra Dracula-related reading toward my yearly (and let’s face it, not reachable) 30-book goal.

On a related note:
Vampire killing kits from the 19th Century

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Since it has some bearing on my NaNo project (Yeah, ironic, I know!):
Nanotech IS distinguishable from magic

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My “ups” are inevitably balanced with my “downs.”

My banana bread came out very well.

In SF/LH-land, we won a very tight game against Tuesday night’s 0-5 Midnight Passion. We were again missing a couple guys and, most distressingly, two of our girls. This time, it was Kelly and me savage. Distressing because neither girl emailed me before the game, and during and after the game, I heard a rumor that the one wasn’t interested in playing anymore. This happens all the time, especially with women playing ultimate frisbee, but I can’t help wondering if there was something I could have done (or not done) to keep said girl from becoming uninterested.

My other current neurosis: I feel like I’m totally defacing the book when people ask me to sign it. Bad penmanship. Possible spelling mishaps. Getting names wrong. Gah. It reminds me of an online personality test I recently took that stated that I don’t really embody the stereotypical Sagittarius astrological sign, aside from the negative aspects of being scattered, blundering, and tactless. If only had the Sagittarius lack of neuroticism as well, and therefore a lack of obsessive hindsight.

Yesterday, we set a record high of 102 degrees.