Posted in Male Author, Novella, Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Monday Miscellanea, 11/28/22

Read & Reading

Cover: The Greyhound of the Baskervilles by John Gaspard & Arthur Conan Doyle
Cover: Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright
Cover: Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro

Finished The Greyhound of the Baskervilles by John Gaspard and Arthur Conan Doyle. This mystery asks, “What if Sherlock Holmes was a dog person?” It’s a retelling of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but from the point of view of Septimus, Holmes’ pet greyhound. It’s a fine adaptation, a freebie I had picked up because I’ve read Gaspard’s Eli Marks mysteries. It’s book #22 for my Beat the Backlog goal.

After finishing Greyhound, I headed to the elibrary for a Yuletide Challenge pick and found Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright. I like the occasional fluffy holiday romance. And then two hours later another book came off hold: Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro. I also like the occasional military sci-fi movie tie-in.

Watched

Wednesday
Season 1 (2022)

I’m not a fan of supernatural clique boarding school stories, but I am a fan of Tim Burton and The Addams Family (the TV show and the 90s movies especially). So, in the words of my husband on the subject of Wednesday, I’m a sucker. The mystery story is fine, but for me the plot is secondary to the morbid quips and puns. Jenna Ortega is well cast and Wednesday’s interactions with her pastels-and-glitter roommate (Emma Myers) are particularly fun. All of the cast is great, aside from Catherine Zeta-Jones (Morticia) and Luis Guzmán (Gomez). I actually had high-hopes for that pairing but the two have no chemistry. Guzmán seemed too restrained and Zeta-Jones isn’t vampish enough. Tim Burton’s aesthetic is toned down too, but that’s just fine. It actually works really well with Barry Sonnenfeld’s movies.

Writing Update

NaNoWriMo 2022 Banner

Well, it’s the 28th of November and I’ve only written just over 28,000 words. And I marvel at the use of the word “only” in that previous sentence. That’s 10K more than I wrote last NaNoWriMo when I was tinkering with an old project.

My problem with NaNoWriMo is that is gets messy. Not just the manuscript, but my world. I let chores go and put off things I want to do. Yes, that’s a product of doing more writing work than I normally would, but it also makes me a bit nuts. Part of what I wanted to do with NaNo was to get into a stronger work schedule. Time will tell if that worked, but I’m definitely okay with going back to a more balanced life.

And I also hit the wall on how much story I had planned. I’m not a good planner. I’m also not great at “seeing where the story will take me.” So, at around 25,000 words I really needed to take some time and figure out what I’m doing. I’ve clarified the conflicts and have an end target.

I plan on getting to 30K by the end of the month and maybe shooting for another 20K by the middle of December.

Posted in Male Author, Novel, Other Media

Miscellanea, 11/21/22

Read

Cover: Neom by Lavie Tidhar

Neom by Lavie Tidhar

(A copy of Neom was provided to me by Tachyon Publications in exchange for an honest review.)

Compelling world building is a scale with details on one side and ambiguities on the other. A real world needs details: politics, religions, economies, arts, even sciences. The trick is knowing when to not explain these things. Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is one of my favorite settings because, as a reader, I’m simply dropped into the world and maybe a reference is explained, maybe it isn’t.

The city of Neom is near Central Station. The story is (mostly) Earthbound, but it’s still a mash-up of space opera and fable, where an old robot takes a rose into the desert and digs up a buried automaton messiah. Neom is situated between Mecca and Bethlehem, so I’m sure there are allegories to be had here, but biblical comparisons feel too mundane and not mythical enough.

The characters in Neom are somewhat coincidental to the plot, but that plays into the feeling of predestination. Of course Miriam, with her half a dozen part-time jobs, is always where the story is taking place and of course Nasir and Saleh have items that are needed. The robot characters are more interesting and I’m glad a few of them might live on in other stories.

Short Stories

Deal Me In, Week 46: 10❤️ “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” by Fran Wilde
Hearts are for Eugie Award winners and Nominees. “Clearly Lettered . . .” won in 2018. A sly story that reminds me of Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932), at least a little.

Yuletide Spirit

Yuletide Spirit Challenge & Readathon image

I’ll admit that this year I’ve been keener than usual to jump into the “holiday” season right after Halloween. (Though feeling that and hearing “All I Want for Christmas” at the mall last week are two different things . . .) When I saw Michelle’s announcement about the Yuletide Spirit Challenge and Readathon, starting on Nov. 21st, I thought, “Perfect! An excuse to have a November start time for celebrating!”

I’m going to shoot for the Mistletoe level (2–4 Christmas books) with a side of Fa La La La Films. And I’m going start my decorating process!

Watched

Nope (2022)

  • I’m kind of amazed that I managed to go into Nope without knowing very much about the movie. This probably says more about my lack of interaction with media than the popularity of the film.
  • I liked Nope better than Us (2019) and maybe more than Get Out (2017) too.
  • As a kid, I found Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) a bit scary. On second watch, I noticed a few things in Nope that strike me as a bit Spielbergian.
  • I miss Fry’s Electronics.
  • I’ve also missed Michael Wincott.
Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 11/14/22

Reading

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda was recommended all around my social media sphere during Readers Imbibing Peril. I’m sorry I didn’t pick it up earlier, especially during Readathon, because I probably could have read it in one sitting given the time to do so. The hook for me: it’s gothic horror set in Mexico during the Mexican War of Independence in the early 1800s. I do have questions about a couple of plot thing and how the characters came to conclusions at the end, but it has a lot that I enjoyed. At its heart, the plot is a nice creepy mystery with a young female protagonist trying to figure out how to manage the tragedies of her life. Very classically gothic stuff.

Deal Me In, Week 44
A♦️: “#Selfcare” by Annalee Newitz
What happens when your beauty brand has crossed the fae? Not good things. A clever, fun story. Set in the not too far future, this quote made me laugh: “My boss at Witchy Wonders has this scorched earth approach that feels very 2020. You know? She’s from that extremist generation.”

Deal Me In, Week 45
4♠️: “The Architect” by Avra Margariti
An odd story. I would not have thought to combine teeth and aliens, but why not, after all?

Writing

NaNoWriMo: I am behind. I have a plan to catch up, but, yeah. Do I know what I’m doing?
¯_(ツ)_/¯

Submissions: No new rejections.

Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 11/7/22

Reading

Dracula Daily finished this morning. If you hadn’t jumped in on the trend, since Dracula is epistolary in form, Dracula Daily sent out portions of the novel corresponding to days when the characters wrote letters and diary entries. Stoker’s form isn’t entirely chronological. He stays with characters through certain chapters of the novel instead of presenting what is happening to each character on each particular day.

A couple of notes on the experience: This is a reread for me. I’ve probably read Dracula two or three times previously.

This time I noticed the following trend: The male characters decide to leave Mina out of the loop; they don’t want distress her or whatever. Eventually, the male characters will hit a wall because they’re not great at communicating with each other either. Mina then steps in, collates all their information, and puts them on the right track. The novel would probably be a third shorter if the guys stopped “protecting” Mina. I also thought it might be interesting if there was a reworking of Stoker’s novel that is what Mina knows when she knows it. Maybe a project for a rainy day.

I also found it interesting how long things take if you read it as time is supposed to pass. The exciting final chase? That’s a week of time, after several days of “no word about the Czarina Catherine.” It ends up being tense rather than exciting.

Watching

Cabinet of Curiosities was another show/movie I was looking forward to during the Halloween season. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. Aside from “The Murmuring” (the last episode of the series), none of the stories really hit with me. Most seemed to fall in a crack between creepy Twilight Zone and zinger-ending EC Comics. For a series that went out of its way to produce very good practical effects, the episodes didn’t necessarily highlight those. “The Murmuring” was an old-fashioned mystery haunting. Director Jennifer Kent is so good at using darkness and silence that it all worked perfectly.

Ultimate Frisbee

The team suffered its first lost last Tuesday. By one point! We are occasionally impatient on offense and that hurts us against teams that are more consistent.

I have a bunch of New Year Fest emails to write and answer today.

Writing

The first six days of National Novel Writing Month went well. The draft is at 10K, which is on schedule. I haven’t written yet today. My plan is to write more than par on most weekdays and Saturday and plan on Friday and Sunday being light days.

No new rejections.

Posted in Mixed Anthology, Other Media

What I’ve Read & Watched, 11/4/22

Blog updates from me this month are probably going to be few and far between . . .

Read

It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror by Joe Vallese (Editor)

It Came from the Closet was much more personal narrative-oriented than I expected. I felt that a wide range of LGBTQ+ perspectives were represented, but I acknowledge that I might have trouble seeing around my privilege. I would have liked more academic takes on the subject of LGBTQ+ representation and themes, but it was still a very thought-provoking collection of essays.

Watched

Wendell & Wild (2022)

Directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)) and written by Selick and Jordan Peele (Get Out (2017)), Wendell & Wild was one of the movies I was looking forward to during the Halloween season. It did not disappoint. Is it as iconic as Nightmare Before Christmas? No. Some of the plot bits are just a little too on the nose and tidy. Is it a lot of spooky fun? Yes! Kat is a great character and the titular demons (voiced by Peele and comedic partner Keegan-Michael Key) are the kinds of anti-villains I like: the heart of their dastardly plan is actually pretty wholesome.

Crimes of the Future (2022)

It’s been a little while since David Cronenberg has done a weird movie. Granted, I haven’t watched all his recent films, but it seems like it’s been since Existenz (1999) that we’ve gotten much squicky, body horror science fiction from him. Crimes of the Future is like a dystopian science fiction sequel to Dead Ringers (1988) where Dr. Mantle’s worries about mutant women are realized. If you like “genre” Cronenberg, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. If the only Cronenberg film you’ve seen is Eastern Promises (2007), you’ll be very confused.