ROW 80 ~ Sunday Update, May 31st

Update

Writing

  • Finish In Need of Luck
    • Finish chapters in progress. Right wrongs. Let’s say, min. 500 words/day. – Averaged 500 daily Monday-Saturday (minus Tuesday).
    • Talk with Eric about remaining chapters. – Still haven’t yet.
  • For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
  • Abbott Project
    • Organize notes / Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project. – I’ve done all that I’m going to do on this. Notes are collected and I’ve started a new notebook with plot ideas and prompts for free writes.
    • Only one research day weekly – That was Tuesday (the 26th).
  • Daily free write. – Wrote Weds -Sat. Sense of place is something I enjoy a lot while reading. This goes beyond “setting.” Sense of place takes me there. I’ve known this for a long while, but I really re-realized it while reading Michael Pronko’s Beauty and Chaos. I want to work on sense of place in my free writes, with an eye toward the Abbott Project.

Reading, related to writing

  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon. – Finished! Probably will have a review this week or next, depending on when I finish the Pronko book.
  • For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles. – This might come off the list/get replaced depending on how Estella Project picks work out. My yen to reread it has definitely faded.

Publishing

  • Look for new promo options. – Still working my way through the Big List I found. It’s a really big list. I don’t know about Google+ communities. I’m really bad at jumping in and keeping up.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Better mobile design. – No further movement. I’ll probably work on it a little today as part of Sunday “internet maintenance.”
  • EntangledContinua.com – Add excerpts. – No movement until I get redesign done.

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Deal Me In, Week 22 ~ “In the Tank”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“In the Tank” by Andrew Bergman

Card picked: Ace of Diamonds
From: Murder on the Ropes, edited by Otto Penzler

Thoughts: I’m kind of glad that I’m not reading this anthology straight through because there are, when writing mysteries involving boxers, a few plot points that reoccur. It would be a lot more repetitive if I were reading these stories one after the other. Score one for the beauty of Deal Me In.

One of these plots is the boxer who is being coerced into taking a dive. In the case of “In the Tank,” Typhoon Walker is being threatened with death. The problem? Well, Walker’s fight is the four-round undercard. Big money will not be wagered on it, so that probably isn’t the motive. The threat is signed “Friends of White Athletes,” but Walker is small potatoes. Why not a bigger target?

These are the questions that plague Jack LeVine after he’s hired by Walker’s manager-no-agent. Something isn’t right and LeVine’s reporter friend Toots Fellman suspects the local white supremacist…who inconveniently turns up dead.

This is a pretty nicely worked short mystery. It’s full of prototypical characters and situations (which aren’t inherently bad things), and with a decent enough twists. In retrospect, though, I have no idea to what the title refers.

About the Author: I didn’t know that I knew Andrew Bergman. He is the screenwriter of Blazing Saddles, Oh God! You Devil, The Freshman, and, a personal favorite of mine, Honeymoon in Vegas. Yes, I have a soft spot for Nicolas Cage. He’s also written three novels featuring Jack LeVine.

10 Books of Summer & The Estella Project, Season 3

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Continue reading “10 Books of Summer & The Estella Project, Season 3”

Review ~ (The rest of) Don’t Look Now

Don’t Look Now by Daphne du Maurier

Cover via Goodreads

Five long stories about unremarkable people caught up in situations beyond the boundaries of their experience.

Venice, Crete, Ireland, Jerusalem, East Anglia. The settings of Miss Daphne du Maurier’s stories are as varied as the plots. A married couple enjoying a holiday in Venice are swept helplessly into a tragedy played out against a backdrop of murky canals and back alleys. A middle-aged schoolmaster gets involved with an American couple whose fishing expeditions are very far from being what they appear. A young actress, setting out on an impulsive but innocent quest, blunders into a situation which sweeps away all the roots of youthful self-confidence. One story, subtly mocking, follows the vicisitudes of an ill-assorted little party of pilgrims in Jerusalem. Another explores the meaning of life and death in a brilliantly original tale. Such unremarkable people, following their unexceptional paths, yet all caught up in situations beyond the boundaries of their experience and outside their control. Compelling, exciting, this collection shows once again what mastery of the short story Daphne du Maurier has. (via Goodreads)

For me, Daphne du Maurier is this year’s Steven Millhauser. Last year, I delved into a collection of Millhauser’s (The Barnum Museum) and found that I was torn. I really *loved* some of his stories. Others…not so much. I’m still not sure if I’d call myself a Millhauser fan, but I’m going to repeatedly give him chances. My opinion of du Maurier is shaping up similarly. I didn’t care for Rebecca, but there were some aspects that were enticing. Luckily, I had more du Maurier on a more compulsory reading list.

Don’t Look Now is a collection of five novellas originally titled after one of the other stories in the collection, “Not After Midnight.” The change came after “Don’t Look Now” was turned into a film in 1973 with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. That story was included in my Obscure Literary Monsters list and I reviewed it a few weeks ago. Since I didn’t immediate pull “The Birds,” which is on my Deal Me In list, I decided to finish off the anthology. And it is definitely a mixture of great and meh from me.

The second story in the collection is “The Breakthrough.” The late 60s and early 70s spawned a number of novels and movies that dealt with science investigating the supernatural. I didn’t expect to find such a story from du Maurier. “The Breakthrough” is a solid, right out of the Twilight Zone. “Not After Midnight” continues with an atmosphere of unease as a fairly insufferable character gets caught up in what may or may not be an archeological dive. There’s one incredibly tense scene that caused me to jump out of my skin when an outside noise intruded.

But then there’s “A Border-Line Case.” I have a theory that I might not like du Maurier’s female main characters. Like the second Mrs. de Winter, Shelagh came off as flighty. Maybe that’s uncharitable. Both of these characters make her own decisions (both involving older men), but they’re such bad decisions. Then, the reader is left to suffer through an extended period of whinging from the character.

“The Way of the Cross” is the only story of which I had a neutral opinion. It’s populated by (figuratively) many the characters we’ve already encountered: the annoying, the skeptical, the swinging, the delusional, and the completely unsure. In the end, I’m not sure what point there is to “The Way of the Cross,” but it wasn’t an entirely unpleasant journey.

Publishing info, my copy: Doubleday, 1974, hardback
Acquired: PaperbackSwap
Genre: all over the place

ROW 80 ~ Wednesday Update, May 27th

Update

Writing

  • Finish In Need of Luck
    • Finish chapters in progress. Right wrongs. Let’s say, min. 500 words/day. – Sunday: Socializing and computer problems. I got a few words in, but not many. Monday: 547 words. Yesterday: Creaky and brain-fogged. I took my research day on the Abbott project.
    • Talk with Eric about remaining chapters. – Still haven’t yet.
  • For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
  • For May/June – Abbott Project
    • Organize notes / Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project. – No further movement.
    • Only one research day weekly – That was Tuesday.
  • Daily free write. – Wrote Sunday & Monday. Missed yesterday.

Reading, related to writing

  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
    by Michael Chabon. – Still on break from Chabon
  • For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles.

Publishing

  • Look for new promo options. – Gradually working my way through the Big List I found. Investigating Google+ communities.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Better mobile design. – No further movement.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Add excerpts. – No movement until I get redesign done.

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Magic Monday ~ Magical Storytelling

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I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature.  I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I’m pretty fond of “storytelling” magic: those routines in which the magician uses patter to tie a narrative to the trick. Here is a lovely example by Suzanne using a magical standard.

SmallAce

What Am I Reading?

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The Estella Project is taking recommendations for this season’s reading list, and I submitted The Last Unicorn. That and a bout of melancholy led me to go ahead and reread it (and the associated Schmendrick stories). I have 50 pages and “Two Hearts” left. (“Two Hearts” is available free and legal at Peter S. Beagle’s website. Just sayin’.) Then, on to Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life by Michael Pronko and back to Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends. I’ve been enjoying the collection of essays by Chabon, but too much literary criticism is too much literary criticism even when it is by a genre agnostic. After a couple not so thrilling tales, I’ll be reading a boxing mystery, “In the Tank” by Andrew Bergman, this week for Deal Me In.

On the Blog

Look at that, a Magic Monday post! At least, a little share of a Magic Monday. The imposed conundrum of blogging is how to provide content consistently without burning out. Really, though, unless it’s your *job*, blogging should be about what makes you happy. Maybe that doesn’t get you an uber amount of readers, but it does keep you sane.

ROW 80 ~ Sunday Update, May 24th

Update

Writing

  • Finish In Need of Luck
    • Finish chapters in progress. Right wrongs. Let’s say, min. 500 words/day. – 529 on Friday. I’m making this due by 5/31. I putter around with rewrites/edits for way too long, and I was really unmotivated this past week. It hit me on Wednesday that it’s been four years since my grandmother died. That left me in the doldrums. It was easier to do comfortable activities like reading an old favorite, researching my other project, and playing too much Minecraft.
    • Talk with Eric about remaining chapters. – Still haven’t yet.
  • For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
  • For May/June – Abbott Project
    • Organize notes / Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project. – I gathered my physical notes this morning while running anti-malware/cleanup on my computer, but I also want to organize my files. Somehow things have gotten spread out.
    • Spent Thursday researching instead of working on In Need of Luck. Will probably start spending one day a week in online archives. Don’t know if this is a goal or a complicating factor.
  • Daily free write. – Wrote Wednesday-Saturday.

Reading, related to writing

  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
    by Michael Chabon. – 55% done. Needed a break from Chabon.
  • For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles.
  • Finish reading River City Empire (related to next possible writing project) by the end of April.
  • On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown by Theodore Wheeler (also related to the possible Abbott project)

Publishing

  • Look for new promo options. – I have a big list and I am slowly investigating new options.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Better mobile design. – Couldn’t stand to look at it after Tuesday.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Add excerpts. – No movement until I get redesign done.
  • New descriptions/categories/tags for Weordan books. (April 15th)
  • List of reviewer contacts.

Personal Growth

  • Next Python class starts May 23. Review by doing a project related to book promo info. Didn’t even touch this before class started yesterday. This is being pushed to a far back burner.

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