storyrainthejournal: (Default)
If you're looking for a genre fiction writing class you really can't do much better than A.M. Dellamonica's Creating Universes, Building Worlds through the UCLA online extension program. Some info on it in her post here, with links to more info and to the syllabus. I know few writers who are as truly braw at plot and at conveying all the nuts and bolts of the process in a such useful way. (yes, I'm making another effort to get the work braw back into use)

Bunraku is a movie that went straight to DVD, and I guess I can sorta see why, but I really enjoyed it. It's stylized and beautiful in a dreamy, hallucinatory sort of way, a paean to samurai and western films, and to, er, pop-up art books. It also has Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Ron Pearlman, Kevin McKidd, Demi Moore, and some great fight sequences. If you like any of those things, you might like Bunraku.

Books read recently include the following, with brief review notes:
The Hum and the Shiver - erm...I can see why a lot of folks have really liked this book (glowing reviews abound, so take mine with grains of salt), but for me it was just okay. I never really believed in or was fully engaged by the characters and I don't feel like the ending was either fully realized or fully earned by what went before. I prefer Justified for my southern gothic, I guess. 

The Night Circus - Quite wonderful. Beautiful and intricate with a satisfying arc, engaging characters, and so much lovely world architecture one could happily wander it forever--which is part of the point. Wonders upon wonders, intimate and revealing. For me, a better book about magic/illusion than some others in that vein. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - I was more engaged in the first half of this than the last half, but it was overall well done and engaging, and ended promisingly. The use of old photographs is pretty great, and also pretty uncanny.

Currently I'm reading an ARC of Elizabeth Bear's RANGE OF GHOSTS and am so very into it--seriously, this book is good. Like, epic canvas, disappear into this world with these characters, deeply textured, good. Excited to be reading it. More when I finish.
storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)
A line I really like, What Alice Knew, by Paula Marantz Cohen:

Words were the first line of defense, the most subtle and most elementary abstraction.

In context, this relates to seeing a v. gruesome murder scene. I love a book with interesting characters, plot, and some intellectual conversation. Just like I love, in a different way, a book with compelling characters, plot, and a lyrical language structure or lyricism of scene (thinking particularly, and most recently, of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone with that last, as the story moves from a comparitively shallow YA place in its opening chapters to unexpected and moving depths.)

I think this may be why a lot of popular straight ahead contemporary urban fantasy--and a certain type of ditto YA--leaves me a little...empty. There's nothing wrong with just telling a good story--nothing at all--but I get filled to surfeit on books that only do that pretty quickly. Although, if the setting is other than contemp urban, I get more mileage out of an adventure story--hmm, that's probably covered by lyricism of scene, since there's more of that, generally, in historical, alternate, otherwhere/world, future, etc., settings.


storyrainthejournal: (littleowl)
For the locals: Tomorrow, Saturday October 15, 2pm at Book People, book launch party for Divya Srinivasan's picture book, Little Owl's Night.

I love Divya's art (she had a segment in Waking Life and has done tons of other wonderful animation and illustration).
storyrainthejournal: (utopia)
Arc giveaway alert! There's a SUBVERSION anthology arc giveaway on Goodreads. The collection of stories includes entries from Cat Rambo, Camille Alexa, and me, among other rebellious hellions. Wild rabble rousing and sly revolution! In worlds of the fantastic and speculative! Free to three lucky winners. Go enter now, you only have a week.

Info and entry here:

storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)
Back from Maine; some pictures later. Had an actual whole day of rain while there, and it was otherwise lush, a brilliant glittering wet sojourn in green paradise during the arid desert of this summer in Austin.

While traveling I read Jo Walton's Among Others. As many have said, awesome. Dear Jo Walton, thank you thank you thank you and thank you some more for writing this book. So many clear and on the nail echoes of my own experiences growing up reading SF & F in the 70s, not meshing with the concerns (or reading interests) of other girls my age, looking for my people. All of that and an interesting story threaded through with real magic. Go read this book right now. Really.

Before Among Others I finished Naomi Novik's most recent Temeraire book, Tongues of Serpents, and was very happy to have spent that time with Temeraire and Laurence, who are excellent company and always have engaging adventures. I'm looking forward to the next one.

My ArmadilloCon schedule: (eta: I tried to fix this formatting, then tried to put it behind a cut, three times, no success; sorry)

Building a Fictional Society from the Ground Up
Fri 8:00 PM-9:00 PM Trinity

P. Bacigalupi, E. Bear*, A. Latner, A. Marmell, J. Reisman, M. Wells
A discussion of worldbuilding in sf/f.

Stump the Panel: Make Up an SF/F Use for an Everyday Object                
Sat 10:00 AM-11:00 AM San Antonio

B. Foster, M. Muenzler, J. Nevins*, J. Reisman, F. Summers  
The audience supplies the items, and the panel provides the imagination.

Broad Universe Reading
Sat 3:00 PM-4:00  PM San Marcos

J. Cheney, M. Fletcher, P. Jones, A. Latner, N.Moore*, G. Oliver, C. Rambo, J. Reisman, J. Vanderhooft
A series of rapid-fire readings arranged by a prominent women writers organization.

Sun 10:00 AM-10:30 AM Pecos

Me, reading! There may be cupcakes. There may be a giveaway. There will definitely be me, reading.

Learning to Write: Recommended Books and Classes
Sun Noon-1:00 PM San Antonio

M. Cardin, W. Ledbetter, J. Mandala, J. Reisman, P. Sarath*, D. Webb
A look at formal and informal education for beginning writers or those who want to improve their craft. Panelists discuss the books and classes that made a difference to them.

storyrainthejournal: (youwhat?)
While I didn't quite get the novel draft finished by the end of the CW write-a-thon, I came very close, and should finish this week. Also raised some money for CW. Big thank you to everyone who sponsored me--you rock.

Finished Holly Black's Red Glove last week. This book follows White Cat, the first in Black's curseworker series. I have an odd experience reading these books in that while I find them engaging and compulsively readable, for the first two thirds of both books I had a regular impulse to stop reading because Cassel's family is so very very horrible and emotionally/psychologically abusive, and his situation vis-a-vis both them and the girl he loves so hopeless. I think that this is part of what makes these books such excellent YA, however; I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been so squeeged by these elements when I was a teen myself. As an adult I find them kind of insupportable. But the first person pov is so well done, and the books so well written that I was completely won over by the end of each.

In other book musings that also include gloves, Patrice Sarath's The Unexpected Miss Bennet looks wonderful, and there are a number of people on my flist who I think would like it.

Watched two movies over the weekend, both on Netflix streaming. The first, Dean Spanley, is a 2008 British/New Zealand collaboration set in Edwardian London and based on a story by Lord Dunsany. It has Jeremy Northam, Peter O'Toole, and Sam Neill and is an odd and truly lovely movie about the dog a man used to be and the man who used to be his master, among other things.  

Then I finally saw Winter's Bone, which, as many have said, is excellent. I haven't seen a movie that intensely well made for a long time, one that tells a story using  cinematic language as powerfully as the best literature uses the written word. Plus, the certain kind of tough young woman protagonist trope really works for me. Someday maybe I'll write an essay... or not.

storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)

Upping the signal: The Romance Relief auction on ebay for for writer L.A. Banks ends on the 13th. L.A. Banks has late stage adrenal cancer and donations to help are badly needed.

Items being offered include signed books, ads for books on popular web sites, critiques for writers, etc. 

Brief Book Reviews, An Occasional Series
I read all six of Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes mysteries and would happily have read more. Enola, the supremely capable, but still mostly believably 14-yr-old girl protagonist, is just win win win. Springer's Victorian London is dark and gritty because Enola spends a good deal of her time in the poorest slums of the era and Springer doesn't really pull punches for the YA designation of the series.

Staying in Victorian London, moved on to Gail Carriger's Heartless, though it's a rather different version--and while Alexia is quite capable, she and the narrative are far less interested in any grit. I did, in fact, just occasionally, get a bit impatient with Alexia's staunch adherence to mannered life. However, Heartless, like the first three books in this series, is a truly fun read and always entertaining. It's like being at high tea with gorgeously dressed, interesting characters while a war, a giant steam creature of destruction, and a dread circus act with werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and dirigibles all rage around you. So, you know, recommended. 

Currently reading Hiromi Goto's Half World and so far so good.

When is a succulent like a cephalopod?

aloectopus )

storyrainthejournal: (Default)
Writeathon progress: Today I gutted a scene that wasn't working (and needs to work before I can write the end of the novel) and rewrote about two thirds of it. There are cedars and a lion-headed priestess, and that's all you get. No snippet, but progress has been made and I am pleased with it. My writeathon page is here.

My throat is not better yet, though I have regained most of my voice, which disappeared over the weekend. A bad coughing fit had me up in the early am this morning; I curled up on the couch with some honey loquat syrup in hot water and the first of Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes mysteries. I liked it so much I'm already reading the second one. (And this, dear reader, is why I got the Kindle--to assuage my occasionally near rabid need to have the next book now--I have often said, I don't really have any addictions to substances, but I become addicted to narratives.)

storyrainthejournal: (froggyhashat)
Still feel a bit dodgy, but I reached the restlessness stage yesterday afternoon, so back to dayjob this morning.

Between the weekend and the ensuing sick days I finished three books and watched three movies.

Deceiver and Betrayer, #s 11&12 in Cherryh's Foreigner series (Jo Walton did an overview and then intro to a reread of the series at I almost always love C.J. Cherryh. Her deep third person pov, with a lot of psychological stream of consciousness wound through the action is not everyone's cup of tea, I guess, but I love it. And her worldbuilding...well, at this point, her SF universe(s) may as well exist for me. Also at this point, the characters and world of the Foreigner novels are a second home for me, one I love visiting. I always end up awaiting the next book, too anxious to bide until it comes out in paperback.

Moon over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch. This is the second in a new series, the first was Midnight Riot, (Rivers of London in the UK). These are well written, engaging, excellent fun. Mysteries set in a modern London that has river gods and a tradition of magic somewhat occulted by the loss of most of its practitioners during the war. London comes very much alive in the books, right along with Mama Thames and her offspring and estranged mate, magic as a sideline discipline written of by Isaac Newton, and the protagonist's family, his white Jazz musician drug addict father and black African mother. Good stuff.

True Grit, the Coen Brothers version, which I wanted to see in the theater but didn't manage to. I have a great love for ornery girl protagonist-heroes, and for a certain kind of western (the kind of western that's the antithesis of what appears in tv shows of the 70s and 80s). I loved this movie. Thoroughly good.

The Eclipse. Irish ghost movie set during a coastal town's annual literary festival; very quiet, it reminded me a bit of a story from Joyce's The Dead in tone. The supernatural element is subtle, until it's not, and then it made me jump off the couch. I admired the way the film was done, and the intensity and integrity of its presentation, but...not, ultimately, my favorite sort of thing.

The Ilusionist. French animated feature from an unproduced script by the late director and comic Jacques Tati, about a perpetually down on his luck illusionist and a girl who thinks he's actually got magic powers. Beatifully animated, though I actually preferred the scenic and environmental animation to the character animation. It's a lovely, bittersweet film, but a bit too heavy on the bathos of those left behind by time and change for me. In other words, a little too French.
storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)

Yes, the new Welcome to Bordertown book--I am so there. Well, the book will be so here, in my pleased possession.

Emma Bull's Orient and his stories, through the standalone novel Finder--my fave.

Over on the chockful of fun stuff (seriously, art, character bios, creator info, back story, free fiction!) Bordertown Series site, one of those stories is available to you free, Danceland. Go on, jump in the sidecar and let the wind from another place blow your hair back. 


storyrainthejournal: (Default)
Reading: So, I very seldom write real reviews; I did for a while, for various pubs, but it always felt just too much like setting out to write an academic paper, of which I wrote so very many over the course of my undergrad and grad work, and which I decidedly did not wish to continue writing--I was very good at them, actually, according to my more scholarly professors, but I wanted to devote that writing juice to fiction, not academic papers. So, I give reviewing pretty short shrift. Also, my reading time is so limited by dayjob schedule combined with writing needs/demands and energy limited by health stuff that I'm a little embarrassed how long it takes me to get through a book these days. It used to be I read several books a night, then, when I got over my teen insomnia, several a week. Now, one every several weeks.

But recently I've been feeling...I don't know...guilty, I guess...about this lack, like I'm not putting enough back into the community in this respect. So I'm going to try to do short but hopefully not useless little reviews on a more regular basis. 

Finished Catherynne Valente's Deathless last week. This is a book like a cut ruby, hard and filled with color, and deep, and you get to walk into its faceted depths where there is also incredible warmth and wonder. A number of very good reviews have been written about Deathless (A.M. Dellamonica's at and this one from the Little Red Reviewer); I'm not going to reinvent the review wheel on this one. I'll just add that the characters and worlds of this book are, and will be for a long time, alive in my head, in my sense memory, and in the marrow of my bones, because they burrowed in there when I wasn't looking. This is a great good thing.   

Over my long weekend just past, I also read Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making and, though it's supposedly YA and certainly wears less serious clothes than Deathless, I love this book more and rather gushingly. How can you not love a book with voleries of wild bicycles, a wyvern whose father was a library, talking leopard, panther, and tattooed Marid? A book that leavens alchemy-minded spriggans and wonderous fairyland feasts with quantum paradox theory? If you're me, you can't not love it, you will love it, it will make you laugh, fill you with deliciousness, and keep you highly engaged and entertained from beginning to end. (I guess if you hate intelligent whimsy and little girls with stubborn intelligence, it might not be for you, but too bad for you, then.) I'll be gifting this one here and there.

Both highly recommended.

Musing: So, a couple of weeks ago, a writer friend told me about another writer friend, who happens to be a woman over 50, who confided in her that she never tells people at conventions and the like how old she is, because when she does, they just dismiss her. I've been thinking about this off and on since. My immediate reaction, internally, was that I certainly won't do that (just a few more years and I'll be 50) because if every woman writer over 50 keeps it to herself, we remain invisible and dismissable, and because, really, fuck all the shitheads who dismiss women over 50 anyway.

However, I kept these thoughts to myself at the time, because I can totally understand why this woman does it. It's true--people, and men most especially--do dismiss women over 50 as people to pay attention to. Male writers over 50 get plenty of respect, but women? Only one or two, the token greats.

Of course I also feel like many (most) men already dismiss me; I'm no longer young and fresh and have never been particularly exotic, goth, or otherwise overtly sexay. I don't have that certain allure that seems to really help hold male attention. And so I'm not really worthy of attention--not just for my writing, ideas, vision, and intelligence, certainly. (Except to a few of the more intelligent, sensitive, and deeper sorts of men, to my experience.) And this will only get more so as the years accrue. I'm not upset about it for my own sake, particularly, but on a more global level? It's stupid and sucky and you know what? Men who are writers in a genre about possibility and vision should do better.

I know I'm generalizing madly, but really, that friend of a friend can't be the only woman writer over 50 who just hides her age and won't mention it, so clearly there's an issue there.

storyrainthejournal: (fable)

Some difficult things in the last couple of days have been ameliorated by the kindness of awesome people, one friend, one stranger, and one family. So, although I was exhausted by the unhealing sores and pain in my fingers before I even got dressed this morning, and cried on the way in to the dayjob, there is a lot for which to be thankful, and I am.

Dear GOP/Tea Party/Corporate wealthy: perhaps the reason more of "mainstream" institutions and media don't reflect your "values," as you seem to think is the case, is because so many of your attitudes and values are hate, fear, and intolerance-based, are regressive, lacking in empathy, and would, frankly, be dangerously sociopathic if you were a person. (in reaction to something Mike Huckabee said on The Daily Show the other night)

I'm almost finished reading McKillip's The Bards of Bone Plain (I may have mentioned, mostly my only reading time is before bed, which means it takes me awhile to get through a book these days). Next up: Deathless, because I've been jonesing for the rest since reading the preview online weeks and weeks ago.

storyrainthejournal: (in dreams)
In last night's dreaming, a Hollywood version of a Voodoo-esque ceremony, a man pulling an endless string of t-shirts in many colors--like a magic trick, except he'd stolen them--from his pants, using a rigged up gear and pulley system, and a wedding.

I guess it was romantic comedy night. Sort of. It was all very entertaining.

Pulmonary function test yesterday; according to the tech, at least, I haven't lost too much more additional capacity since the last test (due to scarring and tissue thickening from the scleroderma). So, uh, yay! It's a weird series of tests, if you've never had a PFT, and makes me dizzy and my lungs ache.

Three things I recced made it onto the final Nebula ballot, so I'm pretty pleased about that.

Finished Kathe Koje's Under the Poppy and really enjoyed it; her writing is so very fine, and the characters move into good places from hard ones, and puppets! Puppets are love. It's apparently being adapted for the stage, a show I want to see.

Then, for an abrupt change of pace, I read Ben Aaronovitch's Midnight Riot, after a 50 page preview online hooked me; a fun, fast read.

Now: Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death.
storyrainthejournal: (onward)
There are a lot of books I want to read right now, but I am currently reading Kathe Koje's UNDER THE POPPY and it is soooooo good. I am loving it, and savoring it. And petting it and calling it George.

Lessee; younger cats had vet date this morning. Tinker has asthma/mild bronchitis and the chest xrays were 'spensive. Scaramouche threw up everything, and I mean everything, upon returning home from getting shots.

For three months this one finger has alternately ached and been sore and tender, and then itched so badly I've had to restrain myself lest I scratch it bloody. I've been using the nitro patches, keeping it warm and clean, putting on bacitracin and lotion...krikey fuck jeezub, finger, get better already.

The novel that is taking forever to write is still taking forever, but moving into climactic scenes, so, er, yeah. My spirits re the writing career in general, kind of sagging, but the writing itself is good. I'm calling it George, too.

storyrainthejournal: (dogwantbone)

Nightshade is having a sale: buy four or more books from among everything in their catalog--which includes two upcoming books, Martha Wells' The Cloud Roads (a fantastic book, guys) and Stina Leicht's Of Blood and Honey (only heard the first chapter, but that rocked). Books!

Via, I am loving this web comic, Ectopiary, about a little girl, a very weird old mansion, and interesting facts such as white dogs are from the moon. The art, the story so far, and the tone--all wonderful.

Cats needing homes due to owners passing. In Texas: Sunny, "a beautiful long-haired yellow and white cat with sky blue eyes, a sweet disposition, and a purr so loud it sounds like an aquarium."  In Northern Mass/New England area: Romy, who just wants a person to love and be loved back by.

storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)
The first issue of fiction journal Shadows and Tall Trees is available. This issue is limited edition, signed and numbered, and it comes with a one-of-a-kind personalized postcard from contributor Adam Golaski. Mike has a sharp eye for excellence in dark fantasy/horror/literary stories and theToC for this issue bears that out.
Camille Alexa's exceedingly engaging gender-roles bendy future Victoriana adventure tale,"Particular Friends," is being serialized at The Red Penny Papers. Episode 1 here   / Episode 2 here /Episode 3 here 

Episode 4 goes live this weekend, but Camille offers you a sneak peak here.

J.Kathleen Cheney has a new story up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a dark tale set in 1920s Paris, "Fleurs du Mal."

Martha Wells forthcoming novel, a draft of which I had the great pleasure of reading, The Cloud Roads, is orderable. And she's kindly provided you with a taste, here.
storyrainthejournal: (bookgirl)
Catherynne M. Valente's The Habitation of the Blessed went out into the wide world in its print edition today.

She talks about the book, and links to an action figure explanation vid of the Prester John story she made, and a spiffy contest, on her live journal here.

You can read a nice long excerpt from the beginning here. That first paragraph, after the quotations? That's gold. I heart this writing so much. It really fulfills my own particular edict/gospel of fiction, that it should feed both the body and the spirit. Looking forward to having the book in hands and savoring the whole thing.

storyrainthejournal: (froggies)
First, a post I heart, combining a meditation on daily routine and appreciation of life by way of some novel writing process from the Sunburst-award winning A.M. Dellamonica. Plus a gorgeous example of one her photos of nature. Yum.

Second, today is book day for Beth Bernobich's Passion Play from TOR. She talks about the book here; you can read a preview here, and find a glowing review, here.

Had buckets of hail in the night. Scaramouch and Tinker: Halp! Halp! Fire! Flood! *run around in circles and bang into things* Poor wee-brained teenage kitties. Aristotle was in bed with me, not particularly fussed, though alert and keeping track of all the racket--both atmospheric and catly.

Happily there was some rain with the hail.

Dayjob has been busy, which puts a crimp in my writing progress, but the words continue to accrue...slowly. Maybe it's more of an accretion...

storyrainthejournal: (Default)

Over on Favorite Thing Ever, Alyx waxes praiseful about, among other things, Texas Monthly, and specifically, the excellent Pamela Colloff, who writes amazing in-depth articles that seek, largely, to shine a light on miscarriages of justice, forgotten victims, and ongoing states of injustice. What real investigative journalism is supposed to do.

Also, [ profile] kormantic posts about Flight of the Conchords there, too. And I second that emotion--I love Flight of the Conchords and reccommend it to anyone who likes funny, off-kilter, kind of gentle weirdness, with bonus bouncy/off-kilter music numbers.

Two cases of gadget fail lately, which I recount briefly for the edification of all: a Sanyo 2700 phone (to which I downgraded because I didn't want internettiness on my phone anymore) drops the sound from phone calls after a few seconds, even though it shows the call is still connected. Hello? Hello? 

And a Clear iSpot, which was supposed to provide WiFi at work and elsewhere to my iTouch. Fail fail fail, even after hours communicating with their tech people. Do not believe Clear's promises of ease and clarity of connection. Nope. And the fault is definitely their's.

I do love my iTouch, though. I just can't get online at the dayjob on it, which was partly the point, since dayjob blocks some sites, like YouTube...

I'm currently rereading a beloved gothic novel of my childhood, Mary Stewart's The Ivy Tree. Over the weekend I finally watched The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and, though it's flawed, I enjoyed it a lot. I love that dark weird circus/sideshow stuff so much.

I promptly looked for and found a way to make the little puppet theater that features at the end of the movie.

I gave myself last Friday off for a long weekend, and it was a good one. Lots of words on DT written, several naps taken, much cat content and walks in the gorgeous weather. Yay!
storyrainthejournal: (samtv)

So, not too thrilled with the new television offerings--in fact, not watching any of them. Tried The Event, completely slid off its silly surface both of the first eps. As for the returning shows, House and Criminal Minds haven't been dumped....yet. The only things I'm really into are The Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock, and Supernatural (eta: and Glee! now could I forget!). Looking forward to AMC's The Walking Dead. If Justified comes back I'll watch that. Raising Hope I had hope for--Martha Plimpton--but, eh.

Maybe I'm just getting old. Get offa my lawn, ya damn lousy tv shows. Most of what's been advertised and touted doesn't even appeal to me--quite the opposite, actually. Lonestar??! Blegh.

Just finished Lauren Goff's The Monsters of Templeton; there's some lovely to the book, and it did keep me reading, but the lit'rariness of it, and the underlying grad school style problems and problem solving of it...meh. The best thing about the book was the lake monster Glimmy. I come running back to more honestly SF/F literature, Kraken and another Laini Taylor book, Lips Touch Three Times (as recced to me by the superb [ profile] camillealexa). It's a relief, somehow.

Two vids I liked this morning (with links instead of embedded, since YouTube is blocked at dayjob):

Here, Okay Go doing a song w/shelter dogs to raise money for homeless animals, very fun and yay:

And [ profile] kaz_mahoney posted this vid, on How to be Alone:

Speaking of the latter, gets longish )



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