It’s Monday, What Are You… (7/31)

…Reading?

Los autómatasThe Janus Tree and Other Stories

After two busy months, I’m hoping to settle back into some sort of routine which will include writing, reading, and blogging, probably in that order. My meager reading goals for this week:

  • The last half of Glen Hirshberg’s The Janus Tree
  • “Automata” by E. T. A. Hoffmann

I finished my reread of The Last Unicorn on Sunday and I’ll post some thoughts on that later in the week.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

…Watching?

Probably will go to a movie this week. Quite possibly to see Kathryn Bigalow’s Detroit. I’ve been a fan of Bigalow’s since Strange Days (1995), and *then* found out she directed Point Break (1991) and Near Dark (1987) too.

…Listening To?

Grunge. Preferably only the grunge that was in existence during my college years (in contrast to post-grunge). I’ve been feeling that back-to-school vibe.

…Doing?

Last week seemed like a grind, mainly due to feeling socially wiped out after Nationals. Really looking forward to doing nothing but working. (And my usual amount of goofing off and mild socialization.)

What Was I Doing?

Review ~ Club Deception

This book was provided to me by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cover via Goodreads

Club Deception by Sarah Skilton

A glamorous romp through the scandals and secrets of LA’s most exclusive fictional magician’s society, CLUB DECEPTION.

Claire Fredericksson is the beating heart of CLUB DECEPTION, LA’s most exclusive magician’s society. She’s the Queen Bee of Magician WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends), and the genius behind her philandering husband Jonathan’s award-winning magic show. Claire’s life is upended by the arrival of two new women to the closed group of wives-Jessica, a young trophy wife with a secret, and Kaimi, an art expert looking for the long-lost Erdnase papers by posing as a girlfriend. When a magician rivalry erupts into murder, the women must uncover the truth and set things right for the men they love. With a cast of endurance experts, Vegas stage stars, and close-up card handlers, this novel weaves a tale of murder, fame, and many, many illusions. (via Goodreads)

Note: I did not finish this book.

Why was I interested in this book?
The magic/magician aspect of this book was the big draw for me. I was a bit hesitant though. Many of the books I’ve read with magic aspects get those things wrong, or (maybe worse) just use them as a light flavoring to the plot.

What Worked
Skilton does a great job with the magic. It’s not just “Houdini, yeah, he was a magician, right?” There’s references to tons of historical magicians and allusions to some modern ones. One of the plot points revolves around lost/stolen original drawings from Erdnase’s The Expert at the Card Table which is an excellent idea. From a magic standpoint: this was totally the book for me…

What Didn’t Work
…but otherwise, it’s not at all the book for me. Truly, I think this is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” I’ve never connected well with noir, which Club Deception shares some aspects of. I’m also not a fan of the heightened drama that goes along with Dynasty-like storytelling. It was hard for me to stay engaged with the story when most of the characters are scheming wives and unfaithful husbands. I stopped reading at the 32% mark because I really wasn’t enjoying my time with this book.

Overall
Despite the magic, I’m not the audience for Club Deception. Now, if you grew up with Dynasty and/or rather enjoyed Revenge (the 2011-2015 TV series) give this book a try.

Publishing info, my copy: Kindle ARC, Grand Central Publishing, July 25, 2017
Acquired: NetGalley, 5/22/17
Genre: mystery

This is 4/10 Books of Summer!

Writing Update, (7/26)

Progress
Writing has been going pretty well since WesterCon. After the 4th, Eric and I sat down and worked out a plan for the next bunch of scenes. I ended up cutting what I had by about 3K and I’ve since added around 10K words. I’m currently doing a reread/rewrite on what I have. That’s been going better than any rewrite I’ve done previously. I’ve been a little slow getting back to it this week after a short week last week. Turns out, a weekend of team sports is kind of rough on an introvert. But gaining momentum back.

What is This?
Wicked Witch, Retired is my current writing project. It is the sort-of sequel to a flash story I wrote, “Wicked Witch for Hire,” which is currently available in the anthology Bounded in a Nutshell.

#1lineWed is a Twitter event hosted by @RWAKissofDeath. Every Wednesday writers share a line of their current work-in-progress based on a theme.

It’s Monday, What Are You… (7/24)

…Reading?

The Last Unicorn Club Deception 

Will I actually get any reading done this week? Maaaybe? I have Deal Me In catch-up and maybe I’ll finish The Last Unicorn. I’ve been working on Club Deception for review, but I’m not really enjoying it that much.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

…Watching?

All the San Diego Comic Con trailers.

…Doing?

Recovering from Nationals. On Thursday, Eric and I drove from Phoenix to Denver to play in the USAU Masters Championships. We played three games of ultimate on Friday, three on Saturday (well, I didn’t), and one game on Sunday before driving back (on Sunday). Lots of driving, lots of time in the sun. Eric’s team (seeded 8th going into the weekend) finished 6th out of a field of 16 teams. My team (seeded 6th out of 6) finished in 4th place. I’ll probably have more about Nationals later in the week.

Review ~ Believe Me

This book was provided to me by Penguin Group and Blue Rider Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cover via Goodreads

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard

Critically acclaimed, award-winning British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard details his childhood, his first performances on the streets of London, his ascent to worldwide success on stage and screen, and his comedy shows which have won over audiences around the world.

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Eddie Izzard has proven himself to be a creative chameleon, inhabiting the stage and film and television screen with an unbelievable fervor. Born in Yemen, and raised in Ireland, Wales and post-war England, he lost his mother at the age of six. In his teens, he dropped out of university and took to the streets of London as part of a two-man escape act; when his partner went on vacation, Izzard kept busy by inventing a one-man act, and thus a career was ignited. As a stand-up comedian, Izzard has captivated audiences with his surreal, stream-of-consciousness comedy–lines such as “Cake or Death?” “Death Star Canteen,” and “Do You Have a Flag?” have the status of great rock lyrics. As a self-proclaimed “Executive Transvestite,” Izzard broke the mold performing in full make-up and heels, and has become as famous for his advocacy for LGBT rights as he has for his art. In Believe Me, he recounts the dizzying rise he made from street busking to London’s West End, to Wembley Stadium and New York’s Madison Square Garden. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
In 2005 (or maybe 2006), Eric and I were at the World Fantasy Convention in Madison (or maybe Austin). Seeking refuge from all the con activities, we went up to our room to rest and watch a little TV. We don’t have cable at home so HBO at a hotel is a little bit of luxury. And on HBO was a comedy special. The comedian was a man wearing heels, leather pants, a tunic blouse and a lot of makeup. He was very funny with a long-game comedy style that relies on clever call-backs. And so, Eddie Izzard gained two fans with his special Dressed to Kill.

What Didn’t Work
It’s hard to say that the first part of this memoir doesn’t work. Eddie Izzard’s early years were not super happy. His mother passed away when he was pretty young and he and his older brother were sent to boarding school because his father traveled often for work. Add to that Izzard’s growing sense that he had, as he puts it, a girl mode despite being very sporty and being interested in the army and the UK version of the scouts. This isn’t material that lends itself to a comedy take. I think Izzard knows this, but he does try to add some levity in the form of digressions. I think it was this juxtaposition that didn’t quite work for me in the first half of the book.

What Worked
The pace picks up in the second half as Izzard talks about the evolution of his career and the things that have become important to him. This seems to be more comfortable territory for Izzard. If, like me, you came upon Izzard as a successful stand-up comedian, it isn’t evident that he originally wanted to do dramatic roles. The path to playing  Wayne Malloy on The Riches or Abel Gideon on Hannibal wound through sketch comedy and street performance before the stand-up stage.

…if I wish to do something, I am quite happy to go back again and again and attack the brick wall of “no” and find a way to push through to the other side.

Izzard has carried this through in his personal life as well. His career as a stand-up comedian was just taking off when he decided to come out as transgendered. It could have destroyed his career or it could have led to becoming a “niche” comedian. Instead, Izzard simply persisted in being an intelligent and absurd. One gets the feeling that if the stand-up thing wouldn’t have worked, Izzard would have pivoted to the next thing. What that might have been is a question for the ages.

Publishing info, my copy: ePub, Blue Rider Press, 2017
Acquired: NetGalley, 5/30/17
Genre: memoir

This is 3/10 Books of Summer!

It’s Monday, What Are You… (7/17)

…Reading?

Since WesterCon I’ve been a more productive writer. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, do you know what’s taken the hit? Reading and blogging.  I’ve decided to cut back on ARCs, and review when I have time. Writing *is* my day job; it has to have priority. Blogging is a fun thing that I do for me.

As for the #reReadathon, what I did read last week was rereading; it just wasn’t very much. I read “The Sand-man” by E. T. A. Hoffmann, about a third of The Last Unicorn, and half of “Maezel’s Chess Player” by Edgar Allan Poe.

What am I going to try reading this week? Eric and I have another long car trip ahead of us and I’ll be taking The Princess Bride (again) and a selection of 19th century short stories. That should keep us awake.

The Princess Bride The Automaton (Fantasy and Horror Classics) The Dancing Partner

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

…Watching?

I did end up going to see Baby Driver last Friday. It’s very stylish. Great car chases. Great soundtrack.* Plot? Well, I’m going to choose not to think too hard about it. I am glad that it’s doing relatively well among the franchise juggernauts.

* I may or may not have listened to the soundtrack about a dozen times last week. The above clip is the opening scene of the film set to “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

…What Was I Doing?

WesterCon 70 ~ Part 3: Art and “Aftermath”


Part 1: Steampunk & 19th Century F&SF
Part 2: Science and Writing

My second panel on Saturday was “Using Art and Literature to Build Science Identity.” Sadly, I came into this panel a little late after “Classic SF vs The Modern Perspective” went long and missed most of the introductions. It was a small group with KellyAnn Bonnell, her daughter (as AV support), artist Tom Deadstuff, and two other gentlemen besides Eric and me. We didn’t get too much into the art/lit aspects, but KellyAnn Bonnell did have an interesting list of what things engender science appreciation in kids. (Spoiler: it helps if parents are pro science to begin with!)

After the panel Eric ended up chatting with Tom Deadstuff about, well, stuff. The two had an ongoing conversation over the four days of the convention as we sat in the courtyard and defrosted (some of the meeting rooms were frigid!) and Mr. Deadstuff satisfied his cigarette habit. Sometimes they talked about the artistic process, about the journey of being independent artists, and about the different-but-sameness of being passionate about art or science and how to use that passion to get through life. I listened, mostly. It’s what I do.

Below: some of Tom Deadstuff’s art pieces. He was the local artist guest of honor, by the way. More of his work can be found on Facebook.

Directly related, Tom Deadstuff held a Paper Mache 101 class on Monday. That’s right. All the art above? Paper mache.

On Tuesday, we also attended “From Concept to Reality: Digital Art Painting” with Anabel Amis and “What to Draw When There’s Nothing to Draw” with Julie Dillon, Gilead, Tom Deadstuff, and Larry Elmore. That’s quite a bit of art for this writer and, really, I wish I would have gone to more art panels because…

Continue reading “WesterCon 70 ~ Part 3: Art and “Aftermath””