It’s Monday, What Are You… (8/7)

…Reading?

Shatterday Kings of Broken Things The Dancing Partner (Travelman Comedy)

Finished The Janus Tree on Sunday and will have some thoughts on that later in the week.

This week, I plan to read a few stories from Shatterday and Jerome K. Jerome’s “The Dancing Partner” until my copy of Theodore Wheeler’s Kings of Broken Things shows up. I’m not entirely sure why a book that I pre-ordered in December and was released last week hasn’t even shipped yet.

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

 

…Doing?

Gearing up for Fall League. Pages are set up, registration should be opening soon. Play starts 9/5. Otherwise, keeping my head down and trying to get work done.

What Was I Doing?

(I’ve been only going back to 2007, but 8/7 is apparently a non-journaling/blogging day for me.)

Deal Me In, Week 31 ~ “In the Memory Room”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“In the Memory Room” by Michael Bishop

Card picked: K
From: The Architecture of Fear, ed. by Kathryn Cramer and Peter D. Pautz

The Story

Gina Callan is dead. Her relatives, especially her adopted son Kenny, are not happy with the work the hostess of the Memory Room has done to their loved one. Gina’s glasses and earrings are missing and Kenny claims that the body can’t possibly be that of his mother because his mother had been beautiful. Mrs. Dennis, the hostess, is trying her best and does a little more work on the corpse as the Gina’s family takes a break in the parlor. While she works, Mrs. Dennis overhears family stories and eventually Gina chimes in with her side of things as well.

I’ve read quite a few speculative fiction stories lately that are very light on the “speculative.” This is one of them. There wasn’t much indication of Gina being a ghost or the titular Memory Room being particularly important. Easily, this story could be about a slightly unbalanced funeral home worker who is having trouble dealing with the stress of her job. I was waiting for a little twist, or some more sinister aspect of the Memory Room to reveal itself. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.

♣ ♣ ♣

Shin Lim’s latest appearance on Fool Us is not related to this story and only slightly to the card picked. But for Deal Me In purposes, I figured I’d link to this a masterful bit of cardistry.

Reread ~ The Last Unicorn

Cover via Goodreads

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

She was magical, beautiful beyond belief — and completely alone…

The unicorn had lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumors carried a message she could not ignore: “Unicorns are gone from the world.”

Aided by a bumbling magician and a indomitable spinster, she set out to learn the truth. but she feared even her immortal wisdom meant nothing in a world where a mad king’s curse and terror incarnate lived only to stalk the last unicorn to her doom… (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
I’m currently writing what I’m referring to as “light fantasy”: fantasy with more humorous animals and sly curses than armies and thrones. So, I decided to reread some of my favorites of the genre.

What Worked
During this reread, I noticed the themes of ownership more. I’ve always been intrigued by Mommy Fortuna’s  line “You never could have freed yourselves alone! I held you!” It’s a sentiment that is echoed over and over again as each character gains and loses something, but with attention that can be focused on the fate of that owned thing.

What Didn’t Work
I read aloud the first couple chapters of The Last Unicorn on our way back from Sacramento. I had noticed in Beagle’s last book, In Calabria, that occasionally the use of similes and metaphors is a bit…excessive. I had never really noticed it in Unicorn until I was reading it to Eric. I think our conversation went a bit like this:

Eric: Uh, that prose is a bit purple.
Me: …yeah.

Takeaway, in my own writing, make the similes special.

Overall
Still my favorite book. Peter S. Beagle, still one of my favorite writers. I’ll be reviewing his newest collection The Overneath in a couple month’s time.

Publishing info, my copy: paperback, ROC, 1991
Acquired: UNL’s bookstore, summer of 1993
Genre: fantasy, light fantasy

This is 5/10 Books of Summer!

July 2017 Writing Wrap-Up

July

I had a secret July writing goal: Camp NaNoWriMo, 15,000 words.

Back in June, I thought adding 15K to Wicked Witch, Retired was a wild stretch goal. I decided that if I managed 10K, I’d be pretty happy. With the con and nationals (and Sundays off), I had 20 work days in July. I knew I’d be formatting/rereading some of Eric’s books too. Adding 10,000 words, that was going to be work. And then WesterCon happened and I left behind what had been dragging on me.

I added 15,428 words to WWR and rewrote 11,286 words.

August

Primarily, more of the above.

I’m also going to try my hand #FlashFicHive. It’s a bi-monthly Twitter-based flash fiction workshop. I used to write more flash fiction and I’d like to again. My only worry is that FlashFicHive is going to be a bit too social. The eternal conundrum of an introvert: the want to participate…but only a little.

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.