12.30.2009

Some Footage from World Fantasy

Betas - Group ApprovalClip from World Fantasy 2009 in which Jeff and I duke out the ancient and fateful question of invertebrate superiority: squid versus octopus.

(Filmed by Pixel Media for the upcoming television series "Margins." Contact kimball@thepixelmeida.com for further info.)



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
From the mad skillz of OctopusMe

Your Tisane of Smart:
Stressed out in Ancient Peru
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Nicole talks about how to deal with negative reviews on the Orbit blog

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Love Vampires has an extensive and very kind review. "If you are bored with the same old urban fantasy or paranormal romance themes, or feel like you just can’t face another leather-pant-wearing, gun-toting urban fantasy heroine, then Soulless may be just the book you need to cleanse your jaded palate."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon and Powell's have posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book.
Blameless: Edits are back, that's what I'll be doing all day today.

Quote of the Day:
"A writer doesn't solve problems. He allows them to emerge."
~ Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt

12.29.2009

An Unexpected Review: Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Research - Tea and BooksSome of you know, Gentle Reader, that I review professionally. That is, I am paid to read children's books and write about them in 60 words. So I almost never do it here in my blog. These books are chosen for me but always fall within my supposed area of expertise (YA & MG sci-fi/fantasy/historical or non-fiction for younger ages in historical/archaeology/anthropology/social sciences). And, Gail, you might ask, how does one become an expert on such topics? Search me.

Anyway, what this means is that I have from 6 to 12 books to read a month. What that means is I have precious little time to read anything else. However, Jane True and Alexia have been nattering away recently and I thought it might be a good plan for me to set aside some vacation time to read Nicole Peeler's Tempest Rising.

The Sub-Genre
I like urban fantasy but I am cautious in which urban fantasy I read, as I mostly do not like a modern setting or anything too dark. I enjoyed Patricia Brigg's werewolf stuff (although she sure does like raping her characters ~ really, not my thing), and ten years or more ago I loved Mercedes Lackey's Knight of Ghosts & Shadows (AKA elves in LA) and Children of the Night (AKA super sexy French vampire). (I think, sometimes, we do not give Ms. Lackey enough credit for single handedly holding down the sub-genre of urban fantasy well before it was a glimmer in Meyer's sparkly little eye.) I've danced the paranormal polka with a few other authors and been disappointed. Recently, I have added more hopefully to my ever-growing Amazon wish list and ever expanding pile or too-read books, but I'm terribly wary.

The Confession
But, I do like Nicole. We are twitter buddies. She's a fellow academic. She drinks (a lot). She is hilarious. She has this awesome skull belt. So I read her book, and here, ladies and gentlemen, is my take. You must consider it biased. What can I say? It's an opinion and it's mine ~ of course it's biased!

The Cover



Boy did this cover cause a lot of controversy. There was hate and vitriol spread about the net, then there was love and adoration flowing forth like balm to the wounded soul of the art department. My thoughts? I'm not geeky enough to be an anime fan. Sorry, but there it is. I like me some Ranma ½ but that's about as far as I'll commit. I find the rabid BOOBS! female objectification thing BOOBS! objectionable and the big eyes eating the face kind of creeps me out in a alien-bug-head way. I should also state that I don't like the tramp stamp leather crop-top headless stripper motif of most other urban fantasy either. In fact, I don't like normal straight up fantasy covers much ~ yawn fest. So this cover? Not really my thing. However it is: striking, eye catching, mildly hypnotic, and certainly draws you to pick up the book ~ which is the point. So it's doing its job.

The Review
(Remember what I said above, 60 words or there about, that's what I'm trained to do. I've never done it for an adult book before, so here it goes.)

Jane lives in a small town that hates her, with lesbian best friends, an abandonment complex, and unexpected heritage swimming her direction. Sometimes she acts dumb, and I wondered if this was realistic (how would I treat a dead body?) or plot artifice. The book's language is light and comfortable with humorous threads throughout making it a genuinely joyful read.

Notes & More Personal Thoughts
WARNING, SOME VERY MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
I really enjoyed this book but I have some tiny quibbles. A few small town hiccoughs worried me. I grew up in one in California (not Maine), and there is no "police" there's one or two guys from the next slightly-larger-town-over and they're called by their names, as in Sheriff Bob. But maybe things are different out on the East Coast. I also found the constant modern-culture references a little distracting. I might not have noticed if I hadn't read this same objection in someone else's review. But, see above about my avoiding contemporary settings as a rule.

Here's what I loved.
1.) Nicole has this awesome casual writing style that just makes the book so darn easy to read (and not it the dumb-down vocabulary kid's meaning of the term "easy"). There's no work to reading it and I love love love that. I'm so tired to books that self-consciously remind me I'm reading them. Oh, you know what I mean. This one just moves along, like a movie, no concentration needed, and that is a really good thing. So comfortable was I, in fact, I didn't even notice until page 94 that it was written in first person, which I normally don't like.
2.) From knowing Nicole online I wasn't surprised about this next point, but there's a metric ton of humor bubbling throughout Tempest Rising. Much chortling resulted.
3.) And she gives us (my personal favorite) some seriously fabulous characters of doom! There's Grizelda the drag queen trapped in a lesbian's body (named after a character from Cats?), Anyan the hellhound with a thing for naked half-selkies, Ryu the vampire in tweed and white shoes (hot, but I'm sorry True-honey, so fricking gay), Russ the shape-shifter who's retired to life as a pet dachshund, Miss Carol who may be some distant progeny of Miss Ivy Hisselpenny's, and, of course, Jane herself. I found myself getting a little sad when we left the colorful cornucopia behind and had to get on with sex and plot and such. I could read a gossip column from the local paper just about these characters. Blog hint at Nicole. Hint. Hint.

I have only one last thought. And it's a snarky one. This is what the Meredith Gentry books should have been.

P.S. Screw the vampire, it's all about them weredoggies.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
New Years is coming. How about a vampire cocktail?

Your Tisane of Smart:
London 1927

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Conventions & Writing by Mary Robinette Kowal

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Karissa says, "This was a fun read; very creative and fast moving."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon and Powell's have posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book.
Blameless: Edits are back, that's what I'll be doing all day today.

Quote of the Day:
"That crafty little minx, I thought, as I realized what was happening. She's one of them . . . she owes me fried cheese for keeping secrets. In my world, fried cheese is the gold standard."
~ Jane True (Nicole Peeler)

12.28.2009

Guilty Pleasure Movies

Resa Nelson, in the December 2009 Issue of Realms of Fantasy, compiled a contributors series on favorite guilty pleasure movies. I love this idea, so I thought I would do the same. I tend to think of these movies more as good flavor movies. Which is to say, Gentle Reader, if I see a movie that really upsets me I can go home and pop in one of these and it will make me feel better. They live at the very front of my DVD binder for easy access. For some reason I don't have books that function the same way ~ perhaps books tap into a different part of the psyche.
Ever After ~ I have no idea why this Cinderella retelling featuring Drew Barrymore and Angelica Houston is so appealing, but it is. It could be that it ties back to my childhood love for the Slipper and the Rose. It also features Melanie Lynskey as one of the stepsisters, my choice of casting for Ivy Hisselpenny. The dialogue is stilted, the costuming questionable, and the accents atrocious but none of that seems to matter ~ watching this movie never fails to make me feel better.
Latter Days ~ Possibly the most romantic film ever made: party boy redeemed through the love of a good . . . Mormon? Yeah. Bring it. I can re-watch the ending scene where Christian drops the tray in surprise over and over again. Who knew the sexiest words in existence were "I hate the snow"?
Bend it Like Beckham ~ Girl power comedy featuring romantic interest Jonathan Rhys Myers in full on pouty-lipped tortured Irish mode. Who could ask for anything more? (Someday that boy with finally come out and my life will be complete, but I digress.) Not to mention in indomitable Juliet Stevenson as the white trash mother (or the British equivalent of white trash) trying to understand sports. In addition, we get: interracial difficulties, spunky girls with something to prove, gay best friend, makeover, sister bonding, victorious sports action, Bollywood dance, and beautiful saris. I find it odd anyone would not love this movie.

So those are my picks, and now, I'm dieing of curiosity. What are yours?



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
League of STEAM holiday video

Your Tisane of Smart:
The Difference Engine on NPR.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Social Networking and the Author Mystique by Jason Pinter

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Fellow LJer [info]lady_fellshot has some very witty things to say. "So, I had the joy of many laughs, chuckles, guffaws, giggles and one snort while reading Soulless. The writing style seemed like some weird melding of Jane Austen, Jim Butcher and Terry Pratchett. Very dry humor, scrupulous attention paid to 19th century societal mores with likable characters and pretty good action."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon & Powell's have posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Edits are back, that's what I'll be doing all day today and tomorrow.

Quote of the Day:
"Editors also know that the people who are really readers want to read. They hunger to read. They will forgive a vast number of clumsinesses and scamped work of every sort if the author will delight them just enough to keep them able to continue."
~ William Sloane

12.23.2009

I Should Be Writing, Unpacking, Sleeping . . .

My darling Gentle Reader, I am full of news and blog posts and things. I am sorry I have been away so long.

Firstly I am delighted, honored, and all around chuffed to have made an appearance on Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing Podcast. This podcast was one of the very first I discovered, and Mur is often thought of as the queen of podcasting. I love this cast, and I really enjoyed her book, Playing for Keeps. It was one of the first things I bought with my advance.

There is also interview and contest action going on over at Number One Novels. Here is a sample:
NON: Finally, if you had to pick one author as your favorite, who would it be?
GC: I'm torn, but while Patricia McKillip wrote my favorite book (The Forgotten Beast of Eld) my favorite author has to be Tamora Pierce. When I was 8 her Song of the Lioness series changed my life.

Also Soulless has been chosen as one of Fandomania's 5 Best Books of 2009! And the Dirty Sexy Book Club has selected it for their January discussion on steampunk.

In less exciting news, I have moved. This was a long drawn out process that left me bereft of a closet for several days and using my father's decidedly indifferent computer. This was difficult for me as I define home as "the place where my shoes are in order and my desk is set up exactly right."

However, now the closet is blessedly completed and filled to bursting,

and I am riding the victory of having set up my first wireless router! (Well, with two friends-as-tech-support, but that was over the phone, so this still counts as me doing it, right?) This is a victory rather akin to Hannibal marching on Rome, an entirely unique experience quite probably never to be repeated until the Visigoths come a running. Normally, I am rather more like a minor and very downtrodden Roman province, entirely at technology's mercy. Of course, the router is currently strapped to a shelf with blue masking tape in an extremely precarious position because one of the cords wasn't long enough.

However, I am gloriously proud to say that I am blogging this on My Own Computer for the first time in a week. Veni, vidi, vici.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Pretty parasol-style umbrellas
Your Tisane of Smart:
That same issue of Realms of Fantasy (Dec. 2009) has a long a very well researched article on the appeal of vampires: Mad, Bad & Dangerous (sans oxford coma) by SatyrPhil Brucato (who I suppose can't be blamed for his name). It's worth checking out if you can get hold of the issue.

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Jim Hines on book signings.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Malin give a comprehensive review and adds, "Alexia is a very formidable and capable heroine, and I am already looking forward to reading her and the Earl of Woolsey's continued adventures in Changeless, which is released early next year."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book! However, Powell's has the correct blurb. Go Powells!
Blameless: Finished edits, back with betas.

Quote of the Day:
"Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being."
~ A. A. Milne

12.15.2009

Off On Vacation

Scorch - YA
Well, Gentle Reader, I am on vacation for the next week of so. I hope all remains well with the interwebs until then! So I shall leave you with some of my favorite things . . .

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Mackage, my new favorite coats.



Your Tisane of Smart:
Amazingly beautiful Urban Forest
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Steampunk article in Time Magazine by Lev Grossman.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
And the lovely Mur has this to say on Tor.com. (Look at me, always fraternizing with Tor.) "However, I can say without reservation that Gail Carriger’s Soulless is an absolute delight to read." (I did an interview with her which will post at some point in the not too distant future.)
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Finished edits, back with betas.

Quote of the Day:
"Instead of fading away, steampunk has gotten increasingly intense and relevant, and right now it seems to be rising to the surface."
~ Lev Grossman

12.14.2009

Divorcing the Tivo

In The NewsThe modern age has given us a whole new set of things that must be separated and negotiated when one is moving, Gentle Reader. For example: in the divorce it's not simply "who gets the cat" it's "who gets the roomba."

Then there's Separation of Tivo. My housemates and I did share TV preferences in some things, like Dr. Who, CSI, So You Think You Can Dance, Dollhouse, Daily Show, Big Bang Theory, & House but I did feel it politic of me to delete the "mine only" items.
  • Project Runway
  • Top Chef
  • CSI
  • Chuck
  • Mad Men
  • Masterpiece Theatre
  • Glee
  • Fashion Police
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • Chopped*
There should be an online handler for this. You know, so one can dial up one's list, store it, and then dial it back down at a different Tivo/DVR. Look at me inventing something for the tech-heads to come up with. (Of course, it could already exist I'm just to inept to find it.) Now do that and my robot arm phone/pod/reader combo with the beamable keyboard and I'll finally be at peace with technology.)

I also had to make the decision to let some shows go. It's like dating, a few of us are just not working out. Merlin and Arthur are clearly never going to get together, despite the sexual tension between them, so I deleted Merlin. I just can't stand watching that kind of unrequited lust anymore. Supernatural also got the ax, not enough shirtlessness recently, and I just can't get behind the whole angel thing.

Unfortunately for me, I am now going to The Land Without Tivo. I shall have to learn how to download stuff online or something. It's very stressful. I will miss my little TV programs on demand. But I suppose this will give me a chance to get caught up on The Guild finally.

* Yes, I am perfectly well aware of the fact that this list indicates, without a doubt, that I am, in fact, a gay man.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Katana brolly!

Your Tisane of Smart:
Gray-Sky Thinking: 15 Uniquely Modern Umbrella Designs
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Very sad to hear that the Rappaport Agency is closing. I've meet Jenny and she is a total sweetheart. Not only that, she reps a dear friend of mine: David J. Williams. So sad.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
And over here I sparkle! In the immortal words of Tee Morris, "Fabulous!"
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Finished edits, back with betas.

Quote of the Day:
"My theory is that if Arthur does not already suspect that Merlin is a warlock by the end of the season, he almost certainly suspects that Merlin has an enormous crush on him."
~ Madeleine Mitchell

12.08.2009

West Marin Reading & Character Dossier for Paper Doll

Alexia ParkToday's blog, Gentle Reader, is a bit of a housekeeping jaunt.

I neglected to put up pictures from my reading out in West Marin from about two months ago. So here are a few from that event. Thanks to all who came and all who asked questions and took pictures.

1. Before the reading at the signing table. 2. Explaining something. 3. With the Incurable Curmudgeon.

Also I have uploaded the character dossier that I created for the designer of the Soulless Paper Doll app, to my webpage.
If you are particularly interested in the outfits and backgrounds depicted in Soulless, you can see some of my inspiration in this pdf. It's pretty large, so it may take a little while to download. You can find it in the PEOPLE, PLACES, & PLOT section of my Alexia's London page.



Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Steampunk cameos.

Your Tisane of Smart:
Bookcase meet staircase

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Author generates buzz by having readers vote for which way story goes - PD Martin at Writer Unboxed

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don't have time for it.
Librarian weighs in, "Soulless is utterly charming. I am charmed."
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don't read if you haven't read the first book!
Blameless: Finished round 2 of edits, new scene written, off to betas soon I hope.

Quote of the Day:
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, "Dam!"
~ Tehs Interwebs