Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Classics Club Spin #32


I plan on working on my Classics Club list again. On the 14th, I’ll have two years and 34 books left after purposefully taking 2022 off. I was burnt out on reading from lists and just wanted to read “free-range.”

Since I’m coming up on the three year anniversary of the list, now is a great time for a CCSpin:

  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog before Sunday, December 11th.
  • We’ll announce a number from 1-20.
  • Read that book by 29th January, 2023.

Here’s my list:

  1. Le Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Malory
  2. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  3. Shakespeare’s Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  4. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Ward Radcliffe
  5. The Monk by M. G. Lewis
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  7. The Mummy! by Jane Webb Loudon
  8. The Queen’s Necklace by Alexandre Dumas
  9. Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawethorne
  10. Piazza Tales by Herman Melville
  11. Curious, if True Strange Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
  13. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  14. The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa Pirkis
  15. In Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn
  16. Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
  17. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
  18. Three John Silence Stories by Algernon Blackwood
  19. Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson
  20. Tales of Terror and Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle

I believe all of these qualify for Beat the Backlog too, a personal challenge I’ll renew in 2023.

Posted in History

Monday Miscellanea, 12/5/22

Read & Reading

Cover: Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro

Had some bad reading luck last week: two DNFs!

Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro did not work out for me. I DNFed at about the 20% mark. A problem I have with Aliens (the 1986 movie) and some other connected media I’ve read is that it can be culturally and semi-technologically stuck in 1986. For example, there is a quip in the movie, “Somebody said ‘alien;’ (Vasquez) thought they said ‘illegal alien’ and signed up.” But why would that necessarily still be a joke over a 150 years from today (much less the nearly 200 year from its writing)? Aliens: Vasquez sort of leans into that. Characters listen to “oldies” like Bruce Springsteen. They have cell phones at least, but again, what will we have in 150 years? Also, from what I’ve read from other reviews, the remaining 80% of the book is about Janette Vasquez’s kids. Which isn’t quite what I signed up for.

Christmas by Accident by Cameron Wright didn’t last very long for me either. Maybe I was in a grumpy mood after Vasquez, but so many little things really annoyed me about this book. So I moved on . . .

To more Aliens fiction! Yes, I had Aliens: Bug Hunt, edited by Jonathan Maberry on hold at the library and it came available just after I gave up on Vasquez. I’m about five stories into this anthology and I’ve had fewer setting problems.

Short Fiction

“On Snowflake-veined Wings” by Chip Houser – Few stories leave me with such vivid images. I have two words for you: enhanced allergies.

Deal Me In, Week 48: 10♦️
“Sand” by Jasmin Kirkbride – I don’t know what I think about this story. On one hand, I hate opaque allegories (which this is not); on the other hand, I’m not sure what I think of very overt metaphors.

Ultimate Frisbee

This is our last week of fall league. My team is currently in second place with two regular season games left (Tuesday and Thursday). Hopefully, fields dry out enough by tomorrow. We had a nice couple of days of rain over the weekend. Finals are on Saturday. We should have a first round bye, so I’ll be playing 1–3 games. Unfortunately, finals are the same day as tryouts for the women’s pro team and many teams are going to be short-handed on the woman-matching side.

Webmaster-wise, I don’t have all the information for finals, which is also only slightly stressing me out. Stuff for New Year Fest seems mostly settled. Haven’t heard anything about winter league. I wouldn’t mind if winter league didn’t happen. Eric and I don’t play because injuries are so much higher when it’s cold, and sign-ups for it over the last couple of years have been lack-luster. I breather before spring league wouldn’t be bad.

Writing

I’ve started on draft #2 of my NaNoWriMo project. I plan on working on that through December.

No new rejections on my short works, but I think going to submit one of my flash pieces to another market. Where it’s at allows simultaneous submission and we’re past the average response time.

Posted in Other Media, Readathons-Challenges-Memes, Short Story

Yuletide 2022, Check-In #1

Read

Cover: "A Christmas Tree" by Charles Dickens
Cover: The Night Before Christmas: A C is for Cthulhu Holiday Tale by Jason Ciaramella, illustrated by Joshua Janes

I haven’t done too much Yuletide reading yet. I listened to “A Christmas Tree” by Charles Dickens, which, of course, is a little creepy. Our narrator reminisces about his childhood Christmas tree and goes on may tangents about Christmas and the dark evenings of winter. I also read The Night Before Christmas: A “C is for Cthulhu” Holiday Tale by Jason Ciaramella, illustrated by Joshua Janes. This is a delightful board book; the ebook version was a contest freebie. The illustrations are cute and colorful and the thought of cute, colorful eldritch horrors would probably make H. P. Lovecraft spin in his grave. That makes me happy. Not very “hooked-on-phonics” friendly, though. 😉

Watched

Happiest Season (2020)
I didn’t realize before watching Happiest Season that it was written and directed by Clea DuVall, whom I’ve always enjoyed as an actress. There are conceits that you have to accept when watching most Christmas movies. The primary one: there will be a happy ending. And, oh, that all are holiday family trouble could end as happily as in Happiest Season . . .

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Honestly, The Christmas Chronicles has been on my TBW for a while. The concept of Kurt Russel as Santa Claus was appealing to me. This movie is ridiculous and a lot fun. Honestly, it presents a Santa mythology that is fairly well worked out. (I mean, as a kid, I never understood how Santa was going to visit because we *didn’t have a fireplace*.) I laughed, sniffled at the sappy parts, and finished the movie thinking, “My grandmother would have loved this.”

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.