Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

FrightFall Readathon 2013

Hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading

All you have to do to participate is read at least one horror/scary book. For the faint-hearted among you, it can be a spooky mystery, a scary thriller, or something classically gothic.


Read over 100 pages a day, which is definitely more than I usually read. Magic by William Goldman was my scary book selection and the only book I read cover-to-cover during the readathon. A White Room is currently ranking second in the horror category. Added over 5000 words to my manuscript, mostly rewrite, so I did pretty well with the second part of my goal as well. And I caught the Friday Twitter chat, a rarity for me! Thanks to Michelle for hosting!


Have fun. Finish a book or two and still get some writing done.

The List

The Seance Society: A Mystery
Finished the
last 85%
A White Room
Read the
first 1/3rd
Adventures of a Psychic: The Fascinating and Inspiring True-Life Story of One of America's Most Successful Clairvoyants
Finished last 65 pgs


Saturday, October 5th
Pages Read Today: 123
Total Pages Read: 780

    • A White Room pg 7-117
    • Who’s 50, pg 1-11

Total Added to Manuscript: Got about 700 words past what I lost.
Notes: Writing-wise, lost 300-ish word in a computer crash. Phooey. Made a good start into A White Room.

Saturday, October 5th
Pages Read Today: 114
Total Pages Read: 657

  • The Seance Society, pg 204-304
  • Who’s 50, pg 379-391

Total Added to Manuscript: 635 words
Notes: Read in the morning. Then I went for a very long run. Well, very long for me. It wore me out a bit.

Friday, October 4th
Pages Read Today: 120
Total Pages Read: 543

  • The Seance Society, pg 97-203
  • Who’s 50, pg 365-378

Total Added to Manuscript: A few hundred words, getting back into the swing of it.
Notes: Kind of a down day. My allergies have been acting up and I spent most of the afternoon napping on the couch between sneezing my lungs out. Should finish The Seance Society tomorrow.

Thursday, October 3rd
Pages Read Today: 109
Total Pages Read: 423

  • The Seance Society, pg 46-97
  • Who’s 50, pg vii-xv, 317-364

Total Added to Manuscript: 0 – Took a day off to regroup.
Notes: I made the mistake of browsing NetGalley. Who’s 50 was requested and quickly granted. I’ll probably be dipping into it and watching some Doctor Who during the rest of the readathon. And the rest of October.

Wednesday, October 2nd
Pages Read Today: 93
Total Pages Read: 314

  • Magic, pg 161-253

Total Added to Manuscript: 300 words, though I need to cut some words that I haven’t cut yet.
Notes: Finished Magic. Two games of ultimate frisbee. A few hundred words added to the manuscript as I redefine one of the characters.

Tuesday, October 1st
Pages Read Today: 110
Total Pages Read: 221

  • Magic, pg 51-160

Total Added to Manuscript: Just shy of 2000 words, mostly rewrite.
Notes: If I knew that tomorrow wasn’t going to be a bad writing day (it will be–two games of ultimate frisbee are scheduled), I’d have finished Magic tonight. Also sent off two queries.

Monday, September 30th
Pages Read Today: 111
Total Pages Read: 111

  • Magic, pg 5-50
  • Adventures of a Psychic, pg. 183-247

Total Added to Manuscript: 1532 words. Some new, some rewrite.
Notes: Sylvia Browne counts as scary, right? Magic is proving to be satisfyingly unsettling. 1500 words and 110 pages as well as a trip to Target and two naps. Not too shabby.

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Fright-Fall Readathon 2013 & Bloggers Dressed in Blood

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril and Gothic September were the beginning. October only gets better!

Fright-Fall Readathon 2013

Hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading

All you have to do to participate is read at least one horror/scary book.  For the faint-hearted among you, it can be a spooky mystery, a scary thriller, or something classically gothic.

I’m currently working on The Seance Society by Michael Nethercott. Thus far, it hasn’t been too spooky. I’m hoping. Next up: A White Room by Stephanie Carrol. I’ve heard good things about it. Back up book: Magic by William Goldman. Yes, I’m going to rely on the author of The Princess Bride to get me through a horror challenge.

The Seance Society: A Mystery A White Room Magic

Bloggers Dressed in Blood

BloggersDressedInBloodtestJoin Steph at The Fake Steph and Danielle at Mercurial Musings and Kate at Midnight Book Girl for a month full of bookish terror and delight!

Bloggers Dressed in Blood begins on October 1, 2013.

Posted in History

What Else in September

Writing Work

I’m just being a putz and not getting things done.

# of submissions for Luck for Hire: 6
# of responses: 2


Eric and I (mostly Eric at the moment) are working toward presenting Model Species and the rest of Weordan in a non-traditional publishing format.

Other Life Stuff

In the rear-view mirror, September seems fragmented and tiring. The trip to Omaha is part of it. September just seems to have been a very social month and it’s left me with a chronically low battery. Which is why I’m jumping into a readathon tomorrow…

Thankfully, the weather has cooled. Fans have been turned off. The water heater will soon be turned back on. Welcome autumn!

Books Obtained

Omaha Book Haul pretty much sums up my book buying in September.

Other Books I Want to Read

Linking Rings: William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of AmericaAt Goodreads & the GPDL:

  • Extra Mile: A 21st century Pilgrimage by Peter Stanford
  • How to Read a Graveyard by Peter Stanford
  • Linking Rings: William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of America by James David Robenalt
  • Magic: A Beginner’s Guide by Robert Ralley
  • Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Paul A. Offit, M.D.
Posted in Female Author, Novel

Review ~ A Study in Silks

This book was provided to me by Del Rey via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

Cover via Goodreads

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London’s high society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.

In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder… (via Goodreads)

There is a lot going on in this book. Steampunk London. Forbidden magic. Sherlock Holmes’s sister’s daughter whose father was part of a traveling circus. To her credit, Emma Jane Hollaway eventually does a good job juggling all that.

While the novel is 500+ pages, and the beginning of a trilogy, most of these elements are introduced in the first chapter in the background while Evelina Cooper, our magic-using tinkering heroine, sneaks around her friend’s house. It’s a lot. Add to that a scrambled timeline at the beginning as we catchup with other events that are going on at the same time as the murder of a house maid. I’m not sure it’s the most elegant way of organizing plot. Thankfully, the rest of the book isn’t as loopy. After about the 45% mark, the action picks up and the story starts moving.

I’m not much of a fan of YA, which this is. Much time is spent on Evelina’s presentation into society and a love triangle between her, her “aristo” friend’s brother, and a guy she grew up with in the circus. All of the above are concerned about their places in the world. It’s all very emotional and tortured, and is an aspect that felt was over-wrought. I would have been happier if the story was more firmly about the murder, the forgeries, and the blackmail. You know, the good stuff.

Most of those plot elements, while secret from our protagonists, are unraveled rather quickly to the reader. We’re given enough points of view to see pretty much all of the story. Most of the suspense in the book is about *how* Evelina will figure things out more than *if.* While the first of a trilogy, A Study in Silks ends in a fairly satisfying manner. The main mystery is solved, other threads are left loose.

I’m always very dubious in YA stories of young people that are very competent at many, many things. At age 19, I knew pretty much nothing about every thing. Even if she is Sherlock Holmes’ niece, Evelina is an accomplished acrobat, well-read, and able to machine tiny animal automata. If she were in her 30s, I could buy it. That would be a steampunk story I would read. Apparently, her magical talent is substantial as well, a hook into the next book.

Uncle Sherlock does put in an appearance, but he’s a pretty bland Holmes. Evelina worries often that Holmes will accidentally ruin her friend’s family due to connections with a crime. That is a flaw that is out of character for the Holmes of Doyle canon.

The world-building was decent, for as many irons as there are in the fire. Occasionally, though, I felt like Hollaway was trying to be a little too clever with the cogged-out inventions. A paper shredder made of multiple flourishing Edward-Scissorhand-style shears isn’t practical. At all. Ever. There is a reason most objects are designed the way they are regardless of how they are powered.

I’m not enough of a fan of YA or of urban fantasy steampunk to read the rest of this series. I found A Study in Silks to be a fairly serviceable book, which I did enjoy in parts, but it didn’t sell me on the next 700 pages.

Genre: Mystery, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Why did I choose to read this book? Was willing to give it a try.
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Yes, though it took a while to get going.
Format: Kindle eBook
Procurement: NetGalley


Posted in History

Adventures of the Writerly Writer ~ Rededication

With Tea Kettle2
Mr. Abbott and his famous talking tea kettle.

Today is David Phelps Abbott’s birthday. His 150th.

Gleaning information from blog entries, it seems that Eric and I first talked about my current writing project, still woefully untitled, on September 19, 2012. I didn’t start writing until November for NaNoWriMo, but I’ve been thinking about it and doing research since about a year ago.

I’d like to get a full draft done by my birthday. If I assume a 75K manuscript, I have 60K to go in the next 12 weeks. That’s do-able-ish.

Posted in Other Media

Saturday Cinema ~ R.I.P. Edition, Vol. 2

Ticket3This week: Reviews of three old-school horror movies. All are on Martin Scorsese’s list of 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time; completely coincidental that I watched them recently.

File:Nightofthedemonposter.jpgNight of the Demon (1957), also known as Curse of the Demon, Directed by Jacques Tourneur, Starring Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, and Niall MacGinnis

A couple of weeks ago I found out that episodes of Harlan Ellison’s Watching are available on YouTube. If you’re unfamiliar with Ellison, he’s very opinionated. When the Sci-Fi Channel first began broadcast back in 1992-ish, “Harlan Ellison’s Watching” was a 3-5 minute segment at the end of their sci-fi related news show. (This was obviously long before it was Syfy and when it still had predominantly speculative fiction programming.) During episode two, Harlan relates a list of near-forgotten gems. One of those is Night of the Demon.

Based on the M.R. James story “Casting the Runes,” Dr. John Holden (Dana Andrews) is cursed on the eve of a conference to expose a witch cult while investigating the death of a fellow skeptic. Andrews plays Holden with unexpected dry wit, but it’s Niall MacGinnis that steals the show acting-wise. I’m not sure I’ve encountered too many villains as truly menacing as MacGinnis’s Karswell. And he does it with subtlety. No scenery chewing occurs. It’s also a wonderfully shot movie. There are some beautiful parallels between modern architecture and pagan ruins. The only place the movie falters is in showing the demon. The effect isn’t very good and it undercuts the psychological aspect of the plot. As it happens there was quite a bit of controversy about showing the demon. The wrong choice was made, but still a worthwhile film.

File:Thehaunting1963.pngThe Haunting (1963), Directed by Robert Wise, Starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, and Richard Johnson

The Haunting has a couple of things in common with Night of the Demon. Both are based on classic works of suspense and horror. While I haven’t read “Casting the Runes” yet and can’t vouch for it, The Haunting is based quite faithfully on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, a frequent re-read for me. Plot-wise, both play with the notion of psychology vs. the supernatural as Eleanor, a woman with a great number of personal demons, navigates her independence and a very bad house. The Haunting is also shot in black and white. While lacking the vistas of London and rural England, Wise shoots Hill House from skewed angles that make rooms unfamiliar every time we see them; not forgetting the very inventive and affective special effects.

File:Changeling ver1.jpgThe Changeling (1980), Directed by Peter Medak, Starring George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere and Melvyn Douglas.

This is a movie that my friend Tania introduced to me in college. I hadn’t seen it in quite a while, but I remembered it being one of those great old-style ghost-story-mysteries that seem to be prevalent in the 1980s. What I had forgotten is how down-right unsettling this movie is.

After the death of his wife and daughter in a traffic accident, composer John Russel (George C. Scott) accepts a teaching position in Seattle and rents a historical Victorian mansion that houses the secrets of an influential family. George C. Scott is so likeable in this movie. He’s heartbroken and struggling to get on with life and the escalating disturbances in the house seem incredibly unfair. Yet, Russel is intrigued and, well, chivalrous. He takes it as his duty to figure out this mystery instead of simply moving out of the house. The very end of the movie is maybe a tad bit over the top, but the meat of the haunting is disturbing as only a child ghost can be. I watched this movie on my computer and listened to it through headphones. There’s a whole level of eerie noises that I had never noticed when watching in a dorm room.

rip8perilonscreenTake a gander at all the R.I.P. reviews!

Posted in Male Author, Poetry

Review ~ Smoke and Steel & Slabs of the Sunburnt West

Smoke and Steel & Slabs of the Sunburnt West by Carl Sandburg

Cover via Goodreads

1920. Sandburg, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, was virtually unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine. His work found beauty and glory in the simple America that surrounded him: the farms, industry, landscape, culture, and most importantly, the American people. Smoke and Steel, one of his earlier collections of poems, helped establish his reputation. (via Goodreads)

Carl Sandburg knew Joseffy. Even wrote a short “appreciation” of the magician which was published as a publicity flyer. That is the long and the short of why I chose a random book of Sandburg’s poetry from Open Library. Actually, it’s two collections smashed together in a 1920s-ish edition. The dubious beauty of Open Library is that the scans are of old books, missing flyleaves and student doodles included. This one had no publication data.

I’m not very analytic when it comes to poetry. What I like tends to be fairly arbitrary.

I like Sandburg.

I’m from the Mid-West/Heartland. I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. My dad worked for Union Pacific. I remember when the Union Stockyards still processed livestock. There is an interesting tension in Mid-Western cities between industry and agriculture. And Sandburg is all over that. He paints a picture of Chicago and parts westward during the early years of the 20th century and makes me miss cornfields even as I appreciate the mountains outside my door.

I really don’t have much more to say other than that. I’ll close with my favorite from the collection, which is about none of the things above.

“Old-fashioned Requited Love”

I have ransacked the encyclopedias
And slid my fingers among topics and titles
Looking for you.

And the answer comes slow.
There seems to be no answer.

I shall ask the next banana peddler the who and the why of it.

Or—the iceman with his iron tongs gripping a clear cube in summer sunlight—maybe he will know.

Genre: Poetry
Why did I choose to read this book? Sandburg knew Joseffy
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Yes!
Format: In-browser ebook.
Procurement: Open Library