reviews


If I don’t update with something, I probably won’t until post-baby, and who knows what’s that’s going to be like (aside from everything I’ve read and been told…). So here I am, with a few paragraphs. 38 weeks tomorrow, and J was full term (technically) last week, so I’ve been waiting impatiently, doing whatever I can to encourage her that now is the time for her to take action. Yesterday, I even mowed both the front and the back lawn. And … nothing.

Two weeks ago, my Chicago girls all came down and threw me a beautiful shower.

food

I took so many more pictures, but they’re all at home on my other computer, so this will have to suffice for now.

hydrangeas

Let’s see. I’ve been on a cloth diapering kick – who knew one can obsess about that? But it’s completely possible, and how absolutely FUN it’s been. I think there’s going to be a lot of trial and error once J is born, and figuring out what works for us and for her (since apparently, it really depends on how skinny/chunky the baby’s legs are), but I’m very, very excited about it, and I’m pretty sure we’re relatively prepared for whatever she hands us. The nursery/still my office is put together apart from a few shelves John is going to put up, the car seat needs to go in, we need a baby thermometer, and other than that, we’re just waiting on her.

We saw Prometheus over the weekend. By the time we did, I’d read enough WTF reviews from friends that made me slightly skeptical, but then one wise woman suggested that what you get out of the movie is what you bring to it, that the responsibility lies with you and how much you decide to enjoy it. So I went into it hoping desperately it would help me fix “Sarscon 8,” written just before Clarion last summer and still suffering from some structure issues, and I think it may have done that, or at least inspired me to give it another shot. It’s a stunning movie, visually, with a few scenes that are just excellent – enough so that I didn’t care about the plot devices or lack of character development or some of the campy alien shots. I mean, compared to the hot mess of John Carter with its 100% cliche dialogue, and then Cowboys and Aliens from last summer? This trumped both of those so much. So that’s my stance.

Hopefully, by my next entry, there will be a baby in the crib, I’ll be fighting lack of sleep instead of the nausea that’s persisted (and come back with a vengeance in the last 2 weeks) over these nine months, and my body will slowly be becoming my own again – that’s been the hardest part of this. I suppose, from a rational point of view, I didn’t really think pregnancy would be awesome, but I honestly never expected it to be this difficult.

Here’s to the next stage!

So in all the tax madness and third trimester (!!!) exhaustion that’s almost as bad as the first trimester, I’ve neglected the blog, and haven’t worked on Harvester the book nearly as much as I’d intended. But that will change, and soon, since April 15 (or rather, the 17th, which is this year’s tax deadline) is nigh!

However, I have not neglected my gardening. The roses framing the shed in the back yard, which we’ve determined are peace roses, are absolutely stunning, with multiple colors from cream to yellow to blush-pink, and I think even some brighter pink, given the new buds yesterday morning. I’m just relieved they’re not too crippled by the fungus which was trying to take over … my dad assured me that’s perfectly normal, and happens all the time, but it’s a first for me, and I was spraying like a fiend. I’ve also put four more hydrangea bushes next to the three already in the back, and we still need to plant the shade flowers, like the lily of the valley bulbs, and stone up the edges.

But the front garden is taking off nicely, including the rose bushes we planted last fall. You can just barely see the corner of the new fence John built in the first front yard picture; this weekend we’re going to stain it and carve out 3 more feet of garden for the day-lily bulbs, which I need to get in the ground asap. I even tried some vegetables in containers, which wasn’t as easy as I thought, although the beans are coming up, as is the Swiss chard. (Nellie or Buddy knocked the container of peppers across the porch, so that’s that for those.)

This weekend, some much needed writing time; I want to clean up “Grotto of the Helpless,” the Clarion week 4 story, but every time I open it I feel like I’m avoiding Harvester the book. So we’ll see what happens.

Also had my 7-month appointment this week! Hard to believe I’ve been pregnant (and sick) for over half a year; at least there’s an end in sight, and Baby J shifts enough, uncomfortably, to remind me nearly all the time she’s there. This baby-carrying thing is truly the most bizarre experience of my life.

Let’s see – loved the Hunger Games movie. I found it truly chilling and horrifying, almost more so than the book, frankly. Or maybe seeing that dystopian world come to life was what undid me. Sure, some things couldn’t be as fleshed out as in a book, and the end wrapped up quickly, but how else can adaptations work? Either way, I was pleased, although that’s not the right word for it; it was a very affecting movie for me.

Finished Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl, which is remarkable, but not so much for me. Right now, I think I need very, very strong elements of spec in my fiction, and those are more weak in that particular novel, however masterful Imp’s unwinding is (and it truly is). For now, Kiernan’s shorts hold the power over this reader.

And, courtesy of my friend Steve, something that nearly made me die this morning: http://www.happyplace.com/15235/the-creepiest-easter-bunny-photos-ever-taken. Happy Easter!

Quickest blog entry ever today, before I miss another week from drowning in taxes. Six more weeks of this.

Broke 60k on Harvester the book! Not without fighting myself over lack of inspiration (what the hell happens next? I’ve got the larger picture, but the smaller?) and the predictable how-on-earth-did-I-think-I-could-ever-ever-ever-pull-this-off chanting in my head nearly every morning. And the entirety of every day when I think about all the short stories I’m not writing in order to get the first draft of this book done. And the ever-present nausea, which continues to be an issue even six months into this baby-carrying thing. And I miss running so much. Onward ho!

Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl came out yesterday, and I read Chapter 1 last night. I’m going to try and savor this experience as best possible.

The really big news is that John’s iPhone game is out! Carl the Spider, now on the app store.

Carl

I’m playing through the game again since its official release, as the testing phase is off my phone. I’m loving the progression from beginning to more advanced levels, as well as trying to catch all the ladybugs (although I’m dreading the ice spikes in the Winterlands, which seriously give me heart palpitations). John is working on the first update, which will let the player see the tutorial any time they want/need to; I’m lucky in that I’ve learned how to play as he’s coded the game. That damned double jump is tricky, and is absolutely key to getting through the levels. Oh, and he’s got the iPad version coming up, with the art in retina mode (I think I said that right?), and a whole new level set to build – the Firelands. I’m most excited for that.

Oh, and the youtube video, in case you need any more convincing. Go on, buy it!

We’re going to bite the bullet and see John Carter this weekend. I know, I know. Could regret it. But we’ve both agreed to enjoy it for what it is. Plus, I’m going to need some fun since I’ll likely be at work a good deal of Saturday.

Adios, for now!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on short story writing versus noveling, but I’ll save that for another day, perhaps when I’m done with this book.

Speaking of the book, Harvester/Alchemist/Heloise Book 1 reached 52k this week, although not because I added thousands of new words. While I did some, I also managed to rehab the outline even further, and work in some of the chapters I’d cut out from before, having thought them unusable. It sort of feels like cheating, but given that they fit now, I’m okay with that.

And now I’m very, very close to having no other “safety net” words, and only dozens of blank pages before me. That’s actually been the scary part of this week – dealing the crap my mind throws at me to intimidate me, specifically regarding the Julian chapters and the wrong turns I may potentially take (or have already taken and have yet to realize). What if I don’t even need his point of view? What if I cannot pull off a dual point of view? What if I can’t do the political thing and keep him occupied until he turns into crazy socialist dictator? Far too many what-ifs going on here … and that was this week.

In the chapters to be written/cleaned up this next week, the alloy is going to succeed, and both Heloise and Julian are going to start thinking much, much bigger. Or at least, Julian will, and conniving will become his middle name.

Other super exciting news – John sent Carl the Spider off to Apple! He should hear back in a few days and then it will be up on the App store.

Honestly, I still have a few levels to beat. I think I’ve made it through the Grasslands, the entire first level set, but some of the Winterlands levels are unrelenting. For this impatient player, the result is a lot of yelling and saying words that I probably shouldn’t type, and trying not to throw my phone every time I go too fast and impale Carl on an ice spike. Yet I keep trying, since the levels are just so neat.

I started reading Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City this week. Truthfully, the book has sat on my floor for two months given the hideous large print and how irritating I find it to read. But I pulled it out on Tuesday and within the first page, forgot about the size of the words. While I’m not usually much for noir and am mostly over present tense, neither of things mattered to me once I started reading, and I’m utterly floored at the color of the book. Not so much of Zoo City itself, but of Beukes’ fresh narrative and how she colors even the simplest of actions.

Clarion pal Brooke Bolander has a story up at Strange Horizons this month, one that caused quite a bit of discussion amidst our class; another unique tale well worth the read.

Work continues to be madness – but only seven more weeks of tax season left!

Oh, and this? SO EXCITED FOR IT.

And we’re back!

The quick excuse for my absence? Some seriously ugly nausea and exhaustion for the last four months has bumped this blog to a back burner, as much the rest of my life. But in nineteen more weeks John and I should have a baby girl. Everybody’s telling me the puking is worth it, and that I might even forget about it once Baby Josie’s here, so there you go. At least now I want to drink coffee again.

As if tax season and pregnancy weren’t enough, I’ve given myself nineteen weeks to get the first draft of the first Harvester book finished. I’m at 43k right now, so it’s not entirely unthinkable, although since I’ve yet to hit that momentum stride, most mornings it seems a lofty, ridiculous goal. But I am able to get up at 5 am these days, when I couldn’t a month ago, and I consider that a terrific step forward. I’m intending to use this blog as a check-in for wordcount and momentum, at least weekly, and hopefully that will help me get back in the swing of things. Plus, it’s a place to complain about the issues I’m having.

For example, blocking. That’s been on my mind a lot, given the mistakes I made with the three books before this. All were YA, so not only am I having to do a lot of revising as I actually go in order to keep this from being too Harry Potter, but there where there was previously (in the last books) a lot of waking up in the morning, getting from one place to another, going to sleep, etc…now there’s just me staring at the page, wanting to avoid that issue completely. Problem is, in a lot of places I just don’t know how, especially when Heloise’s City is every bit as much a character as her. So that might be an issue I grow with, or I let it be ugly and wrong as I write, and then go back and fix upon revisions – which is easier said than done.

In the meantime, some worthwhile links:

  • This Lev Grossman article, which vastly encouraged me. I have such strong opinions when it comes to books (and short stories, for that matter) and this was written so eloquently that I found a good deal of encouragement in it, both for the state of the market and the eternal why-do-people-like-the-shit-they-like question.

And because this is Valentine’s Day, some four-legged love.

Title brought to you by one of my favorite Nine Inch Nails songs from the album The Fragile. I listened to this song on repeat after Mom died. Well, the whole album, really.

My little sister had her first kickboxing match on Saturday. I’m so proud of her, and holy shit does she have a strong right hook. Even if the other girl plays a little dirty about a minute into this first round. Way to go, Krista! (She’s in the pink and black shorts.)

Story idea of the day? Singularity. When it’s not explained. I’ve had that on the brain for a few weeks now after reading this very clever story that danced around the idea without tapping too much into the science of it, and I loved it. Maybe something will come of that in my own writing.

Story to read for the day? “Substitution,” by my terrific friend Brooke Wonders, possibly one of the most ridiculously brainy people I’ve ever met. (The ONLY thing I can possibly out-knowledge her in is short story markets and maybe classical music, if I’m lucky.) This gorgeous tale came out in Daily Science Fiction this month, and is mixed with equal parts lyricism, intelligence, and that uncomfortable emotive note at the end that left me still thinking about it two weeks after my first read. I cannot wait for the day when I can get my hands on Brooke’s first short story collection; the creepy and surreal resonance of her writing is exactly the sort of thing I look for.

I finally finished the beast of a revision of “North like a Star,” my first-week story at Clarion. Cleaned up the drama, but it still needs a good hack and slash, says my first non-Clarion reader, of which I agree. Too many conflicts have overtaken the main inciting incident, so if I can narrow out 3 or so of those and figure out a new reason for why Bellis gets to the factory, the problem might be solved. And, keep the draft under 5k – right now its pushing 6,500 words. The downside is that I despise the story (after two months of trying to get through this revision), so maybe if I put it away for awhile, some of that will take care of itself? Which means its time to pull out Harvester the novel (again – it seems to fluctuate) or write something new; I think I’ve burnt out my revision momentum for awhile.

What I’d really like is to write a flash. Something brief and sweet or sharp, and clever. A palette-wetting read. A palette-wetting write, so I’m up to tackle longer things again, instead if feeling burnt out.

Article of the day? I avoid politics on Facebook and Twitter as much as I can, simply because while I believe as strongly as the next person, there’s no way to convince anyone to change their point of view in a medium like that, especially when I grew up in a state like South Dakota and now live in Oklahoma – I am the minority amidst my peers in both states. But here’s a link to the article more than worth reading; not to pit one political party above another (which the author gets a little dramatic about – I think his point is made without needing to be so excessive?) but because of the truth in it, not the least being our troops are out of Iraq, health care reform has begun (I haven’t yet met one person opposing this who has been personally affected by it or lack of it – of which now John and I can relate), gay rights in the military, and a push to fix the economy, all done against opposition and hate, despite proclaiming to have the same religious beliefs (which honestly baffles me). Anyway, I found the article very encouraging, and lately, I’ve felt hopeful about the state of our country.

What I’d really like for Christmas is a Caribbean vacation. Instead, we’re staying home, and John’s family is coming over for mimosas and brunch. Then, we’ll likely join the rest of the city at the movie theater? We’ll see – happy Holidays to all!

Oh, I do have a blog.

In the last month (and in no particular order), I’ve had two coworkers quit, another replacement hired only to quit three days later, job responsibilities increase, my father get remarried, multiple people in my life diagnosed with ugly things like cancer, and more news that will eventually get shared, time permitting. It’s not been an easy nor pleasant November, but now its December, and I love the cold(er) weather and hope we get snow this afternoon. And that things eventually become sunny and lovely again, even in winter.

But the real reason for this update – some excellent fiction.

Chris Stabback, a fellow Clarionaut from this last year, published a story in Clarkesworld which is up today. Gave me chills when I first read it, and inspired me. Nothing is better than a story that inspires you to write one of your own.

Caitlyn R. Kiernan’s collection Two Worlds and In Between has as few remaining collections left on Amazon (I’d bought mine directly from Subterranean Press). This is hands down the best collection I’ve ever read – and considering that I own nearly as many anthologies as books, that’s a pretty lofty statement. And, it’s her early work. But it’s a must-have, in addition to being a stunning hardback book.

I’d also be amiss not to mention the Lightspeed Year One book, also available, which is also quite gorgeous, and full of excellent reads – both originals from Lightspeed and reprints from our first year. I’m very pleased with it, as it well represents all the work we’ve done there and the great words that have been shared!

More soon – happy holidays!

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