Saturday, January 28, 2012

A tale of two stories

I bought two books at the Borders closing sale. --That's misleading. I bought dozens of books at the Borders closing sale. But I'm thinking about just two of them. I finished reading one last night: Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, by Genevieve Valentine. It's about...hmm. It's about a circus made of people who are part machine in a postapocalyptic world. Part machine in a steampunk sort of way, not a Terminator sort of way. I don't read for style, but the style of this one caught me. And then the people, the world...if you look at the plot itself it's a fairly simple, fairly small plot, but you can't really do that because the characters' motivations and creation (within the story, that is) and the world itself are all so connected. It's a gorgeous book. All angles, no curves, but it circles back on itself and opens up little surprise doors and illuminates this grim life these grim people lead until it's beautiful. I generally don't write letters to authors, but I'm considering writing to this one to demand to know when her next is coming out.

So I finished it last night. I really should have just ended the night on that, but I like to have a book with me when I'm going through my end-of-the-night rituals (i.e., showering, brushing teeth, packing lunch). So I went to our recent-purchase stack and picked out Timecaster, by Joe Kimball. I'd picked this one out because the premise is similar to, though flashier than (and a near copy of Minority Report, as I understand it, though I've never seen or read it), a story idea I've been carrying around, and I thought it would be a fast, light read. It was in its way. Nine pages later I laid it on the post where we put things that need to go downstairs so that I could put it in the Goodwill pile.

It probably doesn't help that it came right after Mechanique, but I read some parts aloud to Eric and he was unimpressed too. There was immediate "as you know Bob." There was the self-described alpha male character being a jerk when he thought he was being assertive and alpha-male, though it only served to amuse me that he was simultaneously being kept by his wife. It may be the description of his wife that got me. One of the last real redheads? Gorgeous and svelte, with emerald green eyes? Oh, and she's a (legal) prostitute, too? The argument between the main character and his wife reminded me of the arguments between Mal and Inara in Firefly, but that's not actually the recommendation it sounds like because Mal is being a jerk in those arguments, too. Also, the "I only married you because it was cheaper than continuing to hire you" line was not as funny or endearing as the author probably intended it. And I got no sense that the character was intended to be a jerk. He seemed intended to be a wish-fulfillment sort of character. My sense is that I wasn't the intended audience. So, it can go to someone else who is part of that audience, and I'm sure he will enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In which I get a pass

So I survived the holidays intact...actually, a couple of pounds heavier, which doesn't normally happen to me. It was kind of interesting to notice the change, how I craved sugar so hard, and how now that they're over and my stress level is somewhat lower, I don't. The stress wasn't just due to the holidays, though that didn't help; work has been and continues to be crazy-busy, and I've been fretting over various issues in my life (job-hunting, house-selling, my marriage, finances, hobbies, housekeeping, and my teeth). Also I'm not getting nearly enough sleep. Somehow the status quo is that on the weekends, Eric gets to sleep in, and I catch a nap if I'm able to synchronize the girls' naps. I'm always on call for middle-of-the-night issues because I waken more easily (and am still nursing in Maia's case). This is not the way to run a successful Mamarchy.

So with the new year, though that wasn't how I planned it, I'm trying to get more sleep and worry less. Eric asked me the other day to try focusing on the positive aspects of my life, and I tried it and found it a very alien aspect. Which is not good. So I'm going to get myself some more practice in it, because I know that negativity does beget itself and doesn't taste good going down. It also helps that our finances are doing better with the help of a W-4 adjustment, a raise, and an impending refinance of our mortgage--and this last helps me just settle down to the reality that we're unlikely to sell the house, which in turn has calmed me down some. Apparently, sometimes certainty can be better than hope.

Speaking of certainty, I got a "pass" on my full request for Shoelace. Which I had expected, so it's not terribly disappointing, but a little bit, and I'm also feeling odd that I don't have anything out--which is really weird considering the very short amount of time I've had anything out on submission, ever. I'm still working on getting myself time to work on Lead Ghosts; with my sleep deprivation I decided that nights are not a good idea, which leaves my lunch hour. I've been skipping my lunch break at work to try to catch up, but I'm starting to realize I'm simply not going to, and so I may as well benefit from the break.

I did find an article with suggestions on improving writing efficiency (can't find it at the moment--YA fantasy author, I think, or just fantasy; got up to 10K words a day) and really liked the one, that prior to each writing session one should sit down and write down everything that's supposed to happen in the next scene, because it's tough to figure out what's supposed to happen at the same time that you're trying to concentrate on writing well and depicting mood and showing the scene and all of that. Which makes a lot of sense, and made me recall that I did something like that (though not as detailed) for PV. So I'm going to try it again.

Also started thinking about how an urban fantasy set in South Korea with tokkaebi instead of vampires would be fun. We'll see where that goes, if anywhere. I'm also excited about Lead Ghosts, which makes me happy. Now to make sure I actually take that time and work on it. That would also help lessen my stress, I think.