Monthly Archives: February 2014

What Else in February

Book Economy

The Art of MagicRead: 3

  • Print: 0
  • Ebooks: 3
  • ARCs: 1

Acquired:

  • The Grey Woman and Others by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • The Art of Magic by T. Nelson Downs
  • Magic in Mind, ed. by Joshua Jay
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

I’ve decided to give up on the TBR Triple Dog Dare Challenge. My hypothesis is that new, shiny books power my reading. We’ll see if that’s the case. I’ve been in a slump as I’ve tried to keep to a restricted list. I am, at heart, a glutton. Being surrounded by books I cannot read is a real downer.

Writing Work

Released Divine Fire on Saturday. It’s the second book in the Apothic Man series. There have been 512 downloads the first book, Model Species. Yes, around the Nabity household we’ve been celebrating 2^9 downloads. Hopefully, two or three people in the world are enjoying our books. Both are available from Smashwords and other outlets. More details on the sidebar —>

We’ve decided to head toward self-publication for Pas de Chat and Luck for Hire as well. These are our two more main-stream novels. Pas de Chat is already available on the web for free in blog form, but we’re going to release a cleaned-up book version. In March, I plan on editing Pas de Chat, finishing up the extra story for the premium edition of Divine Fire, and then probably a read-through and formatting of Luck for Hire.

Other Life Stuff

Basketball! Nebraska was 5 of 7 in February. Which is the same record as my second favorite team, Arizona. The difference is that Arizona only has those two losses where Nebraska winning five in a row is pretty surprising. March will be interesting.

Ran the Skirt Chaser 5K for the fifth year in a row. Finished in 29:16. That’s better than 2013. Considering that I don’t think I ran less than a 11 minute mile in December and January, I was happy with that. Actually, I don’t even remember when I had last ran other than playing ultimate frisbee. Early January sometime, before I started playing twice a week.

League started Monday night. We lost our first game, but we’re fast and young (well, aside from me). I almost ended up not playing. During a game on the previous Friday, I strained my back. After a miserable weekend, it righted itself by Monday night. Bodies are stupid things.

#WilkieWinter ~ The Woman in White, Epoch 3

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Hosted by The Estella Society

Third Epoch, done!

As I mentioned before, I originally intended to read The Woman in White last year for John Wiswell’s #NaNoReMo. (Btw, #NaNoReMo is slated for March this year. Interested? Hop on over to John’s blog.) Here I am, a year later and I finally finished the dagnabit thing. Why did it take so long? Did I not like this books? Well, an analogy occurred to me on Tuesday morning. While I am short and not very athletic, I enjoy playing ultimate frisbee. Often, I play with people I’ve known for many years. They know that I’m slow and can’t jump, but familiarity has bred the ability to play well together. On Monday night, I played for the first time with a new league team, a group with a faster style and a lot of guys that aren’t yet adept at throwing to a hobbit. Every flaw in my game was magnified. With The Woman in White, my every reading flaw is magnified. I’m a slow reader. I tend to start books, wonder off to read something shinier, but eventually come back. This novel? Not conducive to those things. But! I finished it, and probably wouldn’t have without this read-along.

Thoughts: (Spoilers Ahead)

I had hoped at the end of Epoch Two that Laura’s escape from Anne’s fate had been engineered by her and Marian’s cunning. In fact, I had high hopes for Laura gaining some actual autonomy. Silly, misguided me. In fact, Laura becomes more insufferable as does everyone’s treatment of her.

I was also pretty put off by Walter’s “she was mine at last!” After all that Laura and Marian have gone through for freedom, Walter’s presumption of ownership was really off-putting. This epoch is the most manly of them, filled with ego, spies, assassins, and duels. I know that culturally much of the investigation is better handled by a man, it was still a disappointment after a whole epoch of Marian being fairly awesome.

For a while I wondered why they didn’t all just move to France and establish new identities. I had totally forgotten about Walter’s mother and sister.

Apparently, the security in this particular Asylum is total crap. How many times do Anne and Laura escape?

Fairlie genes are whacked. Philip seems to have been the handsome one and maybe okay, but then we have his brother, Frederick, and his daughters, Anne and Laura. None of these three seem to be able to interact with reality to any degree.

I am very sad that Niall MacGinnis never played Count Fosco.

Questions:

1. How do you feel about the way this novel wrapped up? Too clean and tidy? Just right? How about Fosco’s tell-all confession?

There was an overage of explanation, in my opinion. It was maybe a tad padded out; not surprising since it was originally published in serial form. Was rather surprised by the secret society, a device handily used to do dirty work.

2. Did you feel the characters got what they deserved in the end? Namely, Sir Percival. But also Marian? Fosco?

Maybe it’s the old soap-opera watcher in me, but I’m still not convinced that Sir Percival is dead. It seems to be such a bland ending for him. I suppose it could be argued that a bland end is all he really deserved. Fosco? Total poetic justice there. You can only betray so many people before it catches up with you. Alas, this isn’t Marian’s story and her fate is to be the sly aunt. (In my AU, Percival isn’t dead and Marian is recruited by the secret Brotherhood to track him down…) And Walter and Laura live happily ever after. Walter definitely gets what he deserves. *cough*

3. What do you think of Wilkie’s treatment of the ladies? Heather, Amanda, and I all sort of wondered if he was screwing with us at times. The sticks to convention but it also seemed a little tongue-in-cheek at times. Or maybe those are just our contemporary female sensibilities…and wishing.

The third epoch had such a different tone than the first two. In Epoch One, Walter was a bit wishy-washy, Laura wasn’t quite an utter lump, and the brightest character was Marian. In Epoch Two, Marian is the star, Walter’s off being *so heroic* in South America, and I’ll cut Laura some slack because she’s in a crappy situation. Epoch Three seems to disregard all characters aside from Walter and Fosco. The novel, which has been pretty permissive to its female characters, becomes a boys’ club. We don’t even see much of Madame Fosco. I had high hopes for her villainy too.  Were the first two-thirds of the book just a wind-up? Since this was originally published in serial form, had there been some feedback from readers and/or publishers to conclude on a more masculine note? Or maybe I’m just wishing for a story that isn’t being told here…

It’s Monday! What am I Reading? (2/24/14)

31Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

Happy Monday Everyone!

Took a blogging break last week. We’ll see how this week goes. 😉

The Woman in White Eerie America: Travel Guide of the Macabre Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator

I’m gonna do it! I’m gonna finish The Woman in White! (Please, ignore the fact that I should have already finished it. *cough*) I also have two ARCs to clean up. If I do, I’ll be joining Take Control of Your TBR Pile on Saturday. I’m back to Steven Millhauser for Deal Me In and I expect I’ll be spending a bit of time at Harry Houdini’s Scrapbook Collection.

Shameless, shameless self-promotion:

Divine Fire CoverEric and I released Divine Fire on Saturday.

Divine Fire is raining down on the prosperous men of Florey. The Ecclesians say that it is the retribution of Agnos. Some few might wonder if it’s an ancient evil set loose. Neltiar Silva and Marie Lemieux intend to find out the truth. Then they will mete out some retribution of their own.

It’s the second book in the Apothic Man series. Haven’t read the first book? Not a problem! Both are free at Smashwords.

Deal Me In, Week 8 ~ “The Conversion of Tegujai Batir”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Conversion of Tegujai Batir” by Jack Kirby

Card picked: Four of Spades – the fourth spade I’ve drawn in eight weeks.

From: Tales of the Impossible edited by David Copperfield and Janet Berliner

Thoughts:

Disclosure: I didn’t finish this story.

It is rare that I enter into a story and truly have no idea what is going on, but that was the case here. I consider myself somewhat flexible, and I rode out the vaguely Islamic mythology in Mongolia/Russia at the end of WWII, but I just couldn’t buy how the characters acted within this world and toward each other.

We start with a family who lets “the Reader” visit. This personage forces a jinn upon their eight-year-old son, Tegujai Batir. Because of the jinn possession, the boy becomes the village pariah. Embittered, after witnessing post-WWII military might, Tegujai begins a blood-thirsty campaign to take over the world.

I don’t have anything against this sort of story, but the characters had no life to them. Interactions were stilted. The setting and details seemed to shift abruptly. Reading this story felt like walking down a steep incline paved in loose gravel.  Even paying attention, I felt like I was going to fall on my ass at any moment. Half-way through, I wondered if maybe this was meant to be an allegory of some sort. I’m not very good with allegories. So I did some research.

Jack Kirby, the author of this piece, is of course Jack Kirby, one of the fathers of modern comics. After his experiences during WWII, Kirby began work on a novel called The Horde involving the character Tegujai Batir who seeks to take over the world by starting in China, where the population is the highest. A series of world-wide underground tunnels is involved. The novel remained unfinished and largely unpublished during his lifetime. Janet Berliner, the co-editor of this volume, was involved in attempting to restructure and rewrite portions of The Horde, but even as an invested literary agent, she wasn’t able to get a publisher interested in it. This story is one of her extrapolations/rewrites of the material.

Generally, it seems that everyone that read The Horde in its various forms have found it to be a bit of a mess. I’d say this story is included in that category. Which makes me ask, why all the heroic efforts surrounding it? Just because Jack Kirby is the author?

In any case, the story behind the story was the best part of my Deal Me In reading this week:

A look at Kirby’s novel The Horde by John Morrow
At The Jack Kirby Comic Weblog
“Kirby’s Nightmare” from Collected Jack Kirby

It’s Monday! What am I Reading? (2/17/14)

31Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

Happy Monday Everyone!

It’s been rough going in reading land. Besides a little mini-slump, I’ve been formatting some older manuscripts to release online. When I’ve had time to just sit and read lately, I’ve instead been playing some online games or watching the Olympics. Partially, I’m feeling unnecessarily stressed due to ARCs and reading challenges. I scheduled too many things between January and April. I’m not ready to bail on anything yet, but I am allowing myself to be a little more flexible. Because being stressed over a leisure activity is silly.

Reading This Week

Eleanor & Park Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator The Woman in White

Plus, I have a couple chapters of A Feast for Crows and a short story for Deal Me In. Work-wise, I’ll be formatting and rereading Pas de Chat, the urban fantasy novel Eric and I wrote back in 2004-ish.

Deal Me In, Week 7 ~ “The Singing Tree”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Singing Tree” by Eric Lustbader

Card picked: Three of Clubs

From: Tales of the Impossible, ed. by David Copperfield & Janet Berliner

Review: Andy’s succsessful life is shattered when his wife Melissa is shot and killed during a random act of violence. Suddenly, his wealth and clout mean nothing to him. On the sarcastic suggestion of his wife’s attending physician, Andy leaves city life to tourist hunt elk in Montana. There, he hears his wife singing to him and undergoes a Native American ritual to seek out her spirit and be granted his wish: for everything to be as it was before.

Jeeze, David Copperfield, you sure know how to pick downer stories.

After last week’s “The Allies,” this is a much longer and more straightforward story. It’s telling is no-frills and takes no short cuts, and that’s okay. Not every story needs to be a virtuoso work. It is in many ways a much more accessible story. Pretty much everyone has the occasional desire to roll back the clock to a better time. As linear as this story is, it’s not an obvious case of “be careful what you wish for.” Andy gets a taste of having what he wants and realizing that it’s an unnatural state. And maybe in the end, his choice is rewarded.

About the Author: Eric Van Lustbader is known lately for picking up the Bourne gauntlet, writing in that series since 2004’s The Bourne Legacy. He’s also been an elementary school teacher and worked in the music business.

Is this your card?

(I think I still want to be David Copperfield when I grow up: “…I stopped inventing for a while and worked on an island that I have…”)

#WilkieWinter ~ The Woman in White, Epoch 2

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Hosted by The Estella Society

This book is a nightmare for a slow reader… Just sayin’.

There may be spoilers below.

1. Was the second epoch more successful for you than the first? I ain’t gonna lie, Wilkie drags for me sometimes. I really can’t say that he’s overly wordy, or that there are details that are unnecessary, but it was hard powering through some of the more domestic sections of the text. There’s a lot of “something dramatic is about to happen…but tomorrow, after I send this letter.”

2. What do you think of ole Fosco? There were DEVELOPMENTS in this section that gave oodles more insight into his character, and things aren’t pretty. I’ve been suspicious of Fosco from the start and am immune to his charms. At first, it was mostly because of the way the Countess acted, as though utterly cowed by him. How can you like a guy who has seemingly broken a reputed spirited woman? But obviously the Countess isn’t what she seems either and I wonder just how much she’s behind his scheming. A couple of asps, those two.

3. What do you think of the relationship between Sir Percival and Fosco? Percival is the weak link in all this. It feels like Fosco has some hold over him that’s beyond debt, and apparently beyond Sir P’s Secret too. Fosco keeps Percival on a short leash because otherwise Percival would get drunk and blurt out every super-secret plan ever.

4. We touched on the literary ladies in the first Epoch. How do you feel about the developments in Marian’s and Laura’s character? Marian, action hero! But of course, after such daring-do, she has to come down with a debilitating fever. Marian, though female, is pretty much the least sentimental main character. I have the feeling during Epoch Two that Walter could have never pulled off half the things Marian did because he would have been too overcome by feelings. Up until the last few paragraphs of Epoch Two, I was not surprised at Laura’s general hand-ringing. Pretty much the only time she was strong was when some other female character was there to back her up. But! Assuming that it is truly Laura at the graveside (and not Anne), she’s obviously had to carry out some manner of plan. I haven’t read on, so I’m taking Wilkie at his word.

5. Go nuts! It’s a free-for-all! Tell us what’s on your mind.

Such drama! Skulking heroics by Marian! Deceptions! Poisonings! Death and reversals!

Interesting how Marian’s arrival at Blackwater mimics Walter’s at Limmeridge. No one is home and she gets the chance to poke around.

Funny that Percival thought that Hartright might be behind some sort of scheme to dissuade Laura from his affections. No, Percival, you’re doing a fine job of alienating your wife all on your own.

I was a little annoyed by the convenient summary of information on a couple of occasions. Fosco, for example, wanting to restate what Sir Precival’s financial problems were. It’s a clumsy technique. I’m not saying I’ve never used it, but with the lengths that Wilkie goes through sometimes to convey narrative, it’s surprising.

Debt and money are big issues in this story, and much of Dickens’ work as well. Considering what a huge factor debt is for many people today, do we have any this kind of fiction being written currently?