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Archive for 'Good books'

Monday, June 9th, 2014
fish and barf

yeah, that’s a hell of a title, isn’t it? Why must blogs be titled? I suck at titles.

The man took the kids fishing this weekend while I worked. On Sunday, they caught 15 trout. I don’t like fish. Don’t like the smell (bad fish experience as a kid). So they cleaned and took the fish to those friends and relatives who appreciate such things and much gratitude rained down. The kids had fun, especially the boy, who seemed to be magic with the fishing pole.

Speaking of boy, he’s still barfing. It was a little better this weekend, then it went really wonky. I’m not sure, but it’s possible that sugar exacerbates the problem. Not fruit sugar, but ice cream and that sort of thing. Don’t know about other sugars. I am not yet certain, but I think it could be true. Tonight I forced him to eat against his will. Gave him corn on the cob, a piece of watermelon, and a hamburger. Actually I only required the first two (fiber being requisite for making sure there’s no backing up of the plumbing). I don’t think he barfed after. So I am going to try to keep him on plain, simple food for a bit and see what happens. If he cooperates.

I’m still plotting. Wrestling with making it work, but getting closer. The boy’s last tutoring was today, and we had a doc appointment. I got him to the park today to have a little walk, and I also had to do some stuff on a class I’m sitting in on later this week. Thanks to waiting at the doctor, I also read Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey. I loved it. Course I love Jane Austen, and this is definitely in that style, but with magic. So good. So so good. Can’t wait to read the next book. Totally recommend.

Also out now, is Jamie Lee Moyer’s Barricade in Hell. I read it in ARC form a few months ago and I loved it as much or more than the first book, Delia’s Shadow. Do read this. Seriously. Wonderful book. Read both books. Don’t wait.

Tomorrow is the girlie’s talent show. Also I will have been married for 24 years. I’m still so in love with the man. Hard to believe it’s been so long. Not sure what we’ll do by way of celebration. Not sure we’ll be able to do much. Sadly, we never had a honeymoon and I’m beginning to feel like we should do a better job of celebrating, but with boy feeling so awful, I can’t think we can do anything much. So another one will slip by relatively unremarked. Sigh. Maybe next year. (I say that every year).

The Cipher is rereleased, at least as an ebook on Amazon, but not the full release yet. The cover is lovely, but I”ll post more later when it’s more widely available. And I’ll be begging for reviews and all that sort of thing. And of course I can send out arcs to reviewers. Let me know.

Monday, March 31st, 2014
Welcome Marianne de Pierres

Peacemaker Tour Banner

 

Hi Everyone. I’ve talked about Marianne’s books before and I adore them. She’s got a new book out titled Peacemaker. I can’t wait to read it. I’ve got a copy burning through my kindle right now.

Before I introduce you to Marianne, here’s a description of Peacemaker:

Peacemaker-CR_webVirgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park – the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she’s not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller. When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter. Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path

Doesn’t it sound like a great read? And now, let me turn you over to Marianne, who has kindly agreed to blog today.

Gin Jackson

Developing a character from a short story to a novel

I wrote a short story back in 2003 entitled Gin Jackson: neophyte ranger. It was a far future, science fiction tale set in outback Australia about a young woman who was a ranger for a vast, sparsely inhabited area. It had recognisable SF trappings: a town in an environmental bubble, bio-modified part-mechanical horses, and some other nifty technology. I found it a challenge to create the world and tell a self-contained story in three thousand words, but I think I did an O.K. job. The short story was published and then republished. It didn’t win awards but it was out there and got read by a few. More importantly though, it took root in my subconscious. I liked the main character. She was the capable, energised kind of heroine that I enjoyed hanging with.

Years passed. Literally … like seven years. Time came to begin a new novel, potentially a series. Gin Jackson starts banging on the inside of my skull, demanding to be let out. Before I even know what I’m doing, I’m writing about her again. She’s still as opinionated as ever, still as capable, but the Gin who’s been trapped in my subconscious has undergone a few changes (imprisonment can do that to you). Short-stoGR author pic_webry-Gin had inherited the ranger’s job but didn’t really want it. She also had a problematic relationship with her father, and life sucked way out there in the bush.

The gal in the new novel insists on being called Virgin, LOVES her job and is her father’s greatest admirer. More changes follow these. The setting becomes the city, and the endless outback becomes an endangered park. The Wild West takes over the Australian West, and her sidekick turns out to be a real life cowboy. Go figure?

So why am I telling you this?

A writer’s hindbrain is an unfathomable, fascinating, and unpredictable place. Stories can brew in there for years, or they can strike like lightning. There is no way to chart the its anatomy. It’s a rabbit hole of Lewis Carroll dimensions, capable of creating a perfect storm. Like the red spot on Mars, it churns and boils and never ever stops. All you have to do to keep it in working order, is to live life.

And the one thing I have learned in twenty years as a novelist  is … to trust it. We do our best thinking when we’re not!

Learn more about Marianne and her books

Order off Amazon here: Peacemaker

Saturday, January 4th, 2014
back and forward and reading and writing

The boy went to the gastro yesterday and there are tests underway. One of which requires collecting a stool sample, and so we are waiting for that to, ahem, arrive. But he started barfing even more, despite increasing the dosage of the anti-vomit medicine. I think there’s an acid issue at work here, but the root cause is the question. The doc left it kind of up to us if we wanted him scoped or not. I was outvoted, but now am thinking scoping is necessary. Looking into it.

I’m reading these UF books by Shannon Mayer. The first is Priceless and now I’m on the second, Immune. Have you read these? Want to read these? I ask because of a writerly question. On a readerly level, they are huge fun. I have a couple of little issues with them, but there’s good action, interesting magic, interesting worldbuilding, and some romantic tension that is very nice. The main characters are definitely flawed and while sometimes you want to slap the shit out of them, it’s all within character.

The writerly question is this. Mayer does these really abrupt action/scene shifts. She pushes a boundary that I didn’t realize I had. I always do more of a gentle shift or a significant stop action or slowing of action before moving onto the next. But she doesn’t. I find it startling, though I’m intrigued. I *think* it works pretty well, but it startles me because I don’t do it that way, and so I’m not sure if I’m noticing it because somehow it doesn’t work, or because it’s so very different. That’s why I’m wondering if anyone has read her or wants to and give me your thoughts.

I’ve not made much writing progress the past few days. Largely because I’ve been doing boy stuff, but also because I’m trying to force a shape on the story that isn’t right. So now I’ve got to back off and just see how it unfolds. I do not like this way of writing. I want to plot things out. I at least want some sense of ending. But I”m not getting either with this and it’s killing me. Why is it my writing brain wants me to write this way now? I didn’t used to. What the heck happened?????

Thursday, December 19th, 2013
and another day bites the dust

Boy is still not getting better. Trying all I can to get him into a gastroenterologist sooner rather than later. Holidays make this tougher, as is the need for a pediatric gastroenterologist. Cuts the number of docs that he can see considerably. Anyhow, trying really hard not to start freaking out.

Ran errands today. Seems every day is full of them, and yet not getting anything done. But got those nailed down, plus talked to various doctor offices, and wrangled kids. Tomorrow will be more of the same, including going to Costco to stand in line at the pharmacy. Sigh. But they are significantly cheaper on the prescription than Walgreens. As in, about a fourth of the price. I will also pick up the stuff I forgot the other day.

With all that’s going on with the holidays, the boy, life, and being sick myself, I haven’t yet finished my revision on Trace of Magic. I am near the end, but I just need a few hours to knock it out. Unless of course I find something really wrong, in which case, I’m not sure how long it will take.

I finished reading Ilona Andrews’ Clean Sweep. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I expected to, but I hadn’t read the serial version (they posted it online as they wrote it), and I was surprised about the fantasy/sf sort of crossover. It’s not really super sf, actually, but a little bit. Most of the time the big publishers would probably say no one would buy it and so wouldn’t take a risk on it. I think a lot of good books probably have fallen through the cracks that way. I’m so glad that they published Clean Sweep on their own and did it the way they wanted to. It’s tremendous fun and I really look forward to the next installment. If you haven’t read it, do. You’ll enjoy.

Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Books that stuck

There’s a meme running around asking people to mention ten books that have stuck with you for whatever reason or which have been influential. I like the meme, so I’m joining in. I’m skipping over the little kids books I remember. These are in no particular order:

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

2. Bleak House, Charles Dickens

3. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

4. Nine Princes of Amber, Roger Zelazny

5. Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

6. Narnia books (that’s a cheat for all of them, but sue me).

7. Dracula, Bram Stoker

8. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey

9:  Sunshine, Robin McKinley

10. Deeds of Paksennarion, Elizabeth Moon

Tell me, what books have stuck with you?

Sunday, December 1st, 2013
The wicked wind whispers and moans

It doesn’t have to blow very hard outside to sound like quite a storm in this house. I like it. It’s whistling and moaning outside.

Been eating turkey leftovers and walking the dogs and getting ready to (finally) paint my office. Tomorrow I’ll start. I’m contemplating decorating for Christmas. I’m looking forward to putting stuff out here. Especially since it won’t be so cold outside while doing it. Whoohoo!

Did a signing at Reader’s Guide in Salem on Saturday with Devon Monk. Was a lot of fun and we got to meet a number of readers and I got to chat with some delightful people.

We watched Red2. Liked the first one better, but this was still very fun. Also watched RIPD. Campy and cheesy, but also fun. Did you know Garth Nix has written a fantasy regency romance? It’s called Newt’s Emerald. Haven’t read it yet, but I will this week. I love regency romances, and it’s Garth! Nix!

Also, a friend from grad school wrote this really awesome story called Honeydew. Go read it. You won’t regret it. It’s really excellent.

Did you have a good Thanksgiving? And if you don’t do Thanksgiving, did you have a good weekend?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Jamie Lee Moyer on Serial Killers

As I’ve mentioned before, Jamie Lee Moyer has written Delia’s Shadow, a fabulous historical fantasy set in post-earthquake San Francisco. It has amazing characters, a real tangible and textured sense of history and place, romance, crime, ghosts, and a serial killer. I love this book. You should read it and tell everyone you know to read it. I asked Jamie to come visit and talk about Serial Killers. You know I have a fascination for them anyhow, but it’s even more interesting to think about how a turn-of-the-century detective might have gone about solving that kind of case. There’s no DNA, no computers, no trace . . . no CSI in the way we know it. Yet you’ll be amazed at what you see in the book. So without further ado, here’s is Jamie Lee Moyer:

 

“Just an average guy”ds

 

When I first realized that a serial killer was part of the plot in my novel, Delia’s Shadow, I started down a path that involved some intensive—and not very pleasant—research.  I knew a bit about serial killers from abnormal psych classes in college, from non-fiction books I’d read over the years, and watching crime documentaries. That was a good start, but not near enough.

Law enforcement’s definition of a serial killer is someone who commits a series of murders over a significant period of time, months or years, with a “cooling off” period between each killing. That cooling off period could be weeks, months, or even years.

These killers tend to fall into three categories: Organized killers who plan their killings methodically and often abduct their victims, disorganized killers who act on impulse and use what ever weapon is at hand, and killers who show a mix of organized and disorganized behaviors.

I should probably confess here that I have a mild obsession with understanding what makes people do horrible things.  There were reasons I was a psychology major in college. The human mind, with all it’s twists and quirks, is utterly fascinating for me.

What transforms a seemingly normal child into a monster?  No one knows with absolute certainty what causes one little boy to disassociate to the point he thinks of other people as prey, while another child growing up in the same circumstances—doesn’t.  But researchers have come up with what appears to be a common trigger; childhood trauma.

This comes up again and again when reviewing the childhoods of serial killers. Many (most) were sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by family members. The loss of a parent or neglect is another common factor. Bullying and social isolation are other possible triggers.

One theory is that an abused child builds a fantasy world as a way of escaping the neglect or abuse he experiences.  He is in control and all powerful in his own world, and nothing can hurt him there. This fantasy world becomes the focus of his life, his everyday existence, and all development of a sense of right and wrong stops.

I said little boy for a reason. The vast majority of serial killers are male. Serial killers are rare to begin with, but only one in five or six of those are female. Why it falls out that way is another question without a firm answer.

The popular conception of a serial killer is of a lone, shadowy figure, with no social or personal ties to anyone. That isn’t always strictly true. Some are highly respected professionals, others were active in their church or community, holding good jobs and supporting families. How often friends, neighbors, and even family, expressed surprise, or described a newly discovered serial killer as “just an average guy” is really kind of scary.

I learned all about visionary, hedonistic, lust, control and so many other kinds of killers. The reasons these men kill are a whole other kind of scary.

My research took a turn then. I started looking at real life murders and profiles of the men behind them. The FBI files for a lot of high profile killers are available online via the Freedom of Information Act. Reading those files wasn’t fun, but if I was going to get “inside” the head of my character, I needed to learn as much as possible.

I’ve seen people speculate that the killer in Delia’s Shadow was based in part on Jack the Ripper. He wasn’t. There was a real life serial killer, The Zodiac, that terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area for years. He taunted the police and claimed many more victims than were ever found.

As suddenly as he started, The Zodiac stopped killing. He was never caught and never identified, although theories abound as to who he might have been. And I had to ask myself, what if he came back?

Then I had to ask, how would the police catch a killer before the age of computers, nationwide DNA and fingerprint databases, and modern forensics?

Especially if that killer was just an average guy.

Stories grow from bits and pieces, seeds of an idea and the shiny things writer’s collect. This mild obsession with human monsters, and innocence becoming evil, is just one of the seeds that grew into Delia’s Shadow.

 

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
bye bye days

The days are just rushing by, aren’t they? In a good way. Kids brought home disease already and I caught it today. Trying not to succumb. The man went and bought me some sprite. It’s good to be married to a fabulous man.

Writing is coming along, despite being crappy sick. Well, it didn’t set in until I got my words done today, so tomorrow will be the test.

Laura Anne Gilman, writing as LA Kornetsky, has a new mystery out today in her Gin and Tonic series. It’s titled Fixed. Go check it out.

Also, one of my fellow Bellebridge authors has a new romance out today: Elizabeth Sinclair’s Winter Magic. Looks like a fun read.

Eugie Foster, an sf writer who has won a lot of awards and writes fabulous stories, has cancer. If you want to read tasty yummy things and help support her in her time of need, go check her out.

My folks are coming to visit at the end of the month. If all goes well, I’ll finish the first draft of Trace of Magic by then.

59200 / 90000 words. 66% done!

Friday, September 13th, 2013
In which life happens

Dad had heart valve replacement surgery on Thursday. This is done through an angio procedure and apparently is a very very delicate thing to do. Four doctors have to do it and there’s only a 52% chance of success. It appears to have worked. The valve is leaking a little, but apparently that’s normal. He’s still in ICU, but should be moved to a normal room tomorrow. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him, yet. Really hoping so tomorrow.

My father-in-law will be visiting this weekend. That should be fun. Hopefully we’ll be able to find things to entertain him.

Still working on my synopsis. Making progress, but having some motivational issues for a character and then figuring out the resolution plan for the characters. But I have made progress. Or not. Depending on whether or not I like what I’ve done. Won’t know until I finish, and if not, back to the drawing board. Plus I don’t have anything resembling a title.

Did read The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams. Really enjoyed it. I recommend it. I also finished Heart of Briar by Laura Anne Gilman. Hoping to have her here on the blog soon to talk about it, but it’s another good read. And the best part is the second book (it’s a duology) will be out in just a couple of weeks. I’ve preordered my copy.

We are supposed to cool off soon. We’ve been in the 90s. I prefer the 70s.

Saturday, August 17th, 2013
Where does the time go?

I heard from a friend the other day that faculty meetings start this next week. I won’t be there. I wanted to drink some champagne. Because, you know, I always love me some faculty meetings and I wanted to drink my sorrows at missing them away.

Had a good crowd for the reading up in Portland. I was terribly nervous. Read from Trace of Magic. I think it went well. I hope so.

I started re-reading The Cipher today. I haven’t looked at it since I published it in 2007. It was a bit of a revelation. It’s good. Really.  It has good storytelling and worldbuilding and I like my characters. This is one of those moments of partial relief–wow! I really can write! and total fear–are my latest books as good? And then there’s that moment of, why the hell didn’t these books do better? Fantasy lovers should have been all over them.

BTW, this isn’t just dejavu or me having a walk down memory lane, I will be writing more Crosspointe world stuff. Seriously. I would love to write a novella or novel or more following what ever happen to Sarah and Lucy’s family. But more important is telling the rest of the story. I want to do that.

Laura Anne Gilman stayed with us for a couple of days. It was huge fun and the kids and doggies loved her. They want her to come back. Soon. Hear that Laura Anne? We also did something incredibly silly and funny for Gishwhes, which also appalled my son. There will hopefully be a picture sometime in the future once Laura Anne is free to reveal them.

And now, anon. Possibly there will be blackberry picking tomorrow. Possibly the hanging of pictures in the house. Possibly napping.