Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Goal Wrap-Up

I wrote for 60 hours in July.
I am very close to done with chapter 18.
Mender is now 66,340 words.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Series Thoughts, Part 4: Series I'm Undecided About Finishing

And now for the last post of my series series. If you've read these series, feel free to weigh in and nudge me toward yay or nay.

Series I'm Undecided About Finishing:

Middle Grade:

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. Fun stories about the young scion of a legendary Irish crime family and his dealings with the fairy world. I've read 5 books and there are 3 left to go. I'm not opposed to finishing it, but I keep not getting to it, and there's a chance I never will.

Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when I was a kid, but never read any of the other books. I don't have a particular desire to do so, but it's a Fantasy classic and I feel like I should.

Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis. This is a very strange series about a very strange child. The Son loves them, and they have grown on me over 3 books. However, if he loses interest or outgrows them before the series is over, I'm sure I'll never read another one again.

Forbidden Library series by Django Wexler. I listened to the first book of this on audiobook. It had a lot of cool elements-- 1930's setting, creepy magic, books as portals to other worlds-- but I just didn't connect with the characters. I think part of the issue was the reader, who read it in this super breathy little girl voice that got on my nerves. I might be willing to give book 2 a try, though. Bonus points to the author for having the same first name as one of my late cats. 

Young Adult:

Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. Dark Science Fiction about a society on a colony planet in which all the men can hear each others' thoughts. I read so many raving reviews of this series, but while I was very impressed by the worldbuilding and the style of the writing, I found actual story unstructured and repetitive (seriously, how many showdowns did Todd have with that one guy? How was he not dead yet??), and was annoyed by the cliffhanger ending. It's been years since I read book 1, and my desire to finish the series wanes more every year. But I haven't given up completely.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor. Epic Urban Fantasy about a war between angels and demons. I loved book 1. Book 2 was good, but most of what I had loved about book 1 was no longer a feature of the story. I was excited for book 3, but 50 pages in I just was not feeling it. The book introduced a brand new human character that I did not give a rat's ass about, and the plot wasn't grabbing me. I chalked it up to just not being in the right mood for it, but now it's been a few years and I haven't felt the desire to pick it up again.

The Queen's Thief series. Adventure/Fantasy tales in an Ancient Greek-like setting. I enjoyed the first book, and I've heard from multiple sources that the subsequent books are even better, but it's been so long since I've read book 1 that my interest has waned, and while I certainly haven't ruled out finishing the series, it's not on my "get to soon" TBR-- which means there's a real chance I'll never get to it at all.

Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore. Feminist second-world Fantasy. I liked book 1, but not as much as I'd expected to... but I now strongly suspect that was mainly due to really not digging the audiobook production of it. If I do read the next 2 books, I will be reading paper copies rather than listening.

To All the Boys I Loved Before companion duology by Jenny Han. Light contemporary Romance. The main character was appropriately immature, but she didn't grow enough over the course of the book to keep my old-ass self from being annoyed with her behavior and choices. Book 1 ends on a cliffhanger, but it was still a satisfying enough ending for me. Still, I could see myself picking up book 2 some day if I'm in the mood for a zippy YA love story I can read in a few hours and that won't challenge me much.

Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. I appreciated a lot about book 1-- the Hispanic-influenced Fantasy culture, the heroine's struggles with her weight, the beginnings of a slow-burn love story based in mutual respect-- but then I read like 25 pages of book 2, and my reaction to the big event that kicks off the novel was that I could have sworn I had read the exact same scene in book 1. I had no desire to continue, so I put it down. But now I keep reading reviews touting the awesomeness of this trilogy, so I haven't given up on the idea that I might pick it up again some day.


Kingkiller Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss. I loved The Name of the Wind, but then I read a few highly disparaging reviews of book 2 (the argument was that the main character's Mary Sue-ness becomes intolerable), and it made me wary of committing to such a long book. Also, there's a ginormous gap between books, so I'm not feeling any urgency.

Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. This is a Science Fiction Romance series with a fanatical fan base. I enjoyed the first book I read (Agent of Change-- probably the most well-known and oft-recommend one), but then tried to back up and read the series from the beginning, and I thought the next book I read was... not that good, on a lot of levels. It's left me iffy about giving it another try.

Goddess Summoning series by P.C. Cast. Six-book Fantasy Romance series that are retellings of myths and fairy tales. I think the first one I read was the strongest of the books, which had the unfortunate effect of leaving me slightly disappointed by the others. By the time I read book 4, I was getting fed up with how formulaic they are. But I'm not saying never again, because they are fun reads.


Sex Criminals. I book Vol. 1 to give to a relative for Christmas, and read it first (tacky, I know). I liked it, but apparently not enough to get Vol. 2 from interlibrary loan. If it popped up in my face I would read it, though.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. It's fun and light and ridiculous, and I've read 3 volumes so I'm obviously not saying no to it, but nor am I going out of my way to get more. I'll continue to read it if I  stumble across it at the library.

Web Comics:

Vattu. I loved this when I was reading through the archives, but lately the story's been feeling unstructured to me. I think this is down to the comic updating less frequently rather than any actual flaw in it. My new approach is going to be to just check in with it 2-3 times a year.

Dicebox. Same story as Vattu.

Namesake. I was madly in love with this comic for a while, but the last chapter has been a bunch of metaphysical worldbuilding mumbo-jumbo that I have not been feeling. I'm sticking with it, but with a more skeptical attitude than before.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Series Thoughts, Part 3: Series I Won't Be Finishing

And now we come to the controversial chapter of my series series.

A few caveats before I plow ahead:

1) This list only includes series in which I have read at least one entire book. Any series I began but abandoned somewhere in book 1 is not included.

2) This is not a list of books I hated. Well, obviously I hated a few of them, but some I really enjoyed-- yet for whatever reason, I was not left with a desire to read more.

Series I Won't Be Finishing:

Middle Grade:

The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart. The Son did not care for this book at all, so I finished it without him. I enjoyed it, but, as I said above, was not left with a desire to read more.

The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. I read book 1 a few years back, and while I appreciated some aspects of it, overall I wasn't that impressed.

Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. Get out your pitchforks! I had the first book shoved on me by various adults throughout my childhood, and I tried many times to read it, but Anne just annoyed the crap out of me. I know, I know: female reader sacrilege. I picked up the series again a few years ago, and liked it SO much more than I had as a child. I read the first three books in an omnibus collection, but still wasn't in love enough with Anne to want to read about the whole rest of her life practically day-by-day, and so have chosen to end my experience with the series on a high note.

Sherlock Files series by Tracy Barrett. Read book 1 with The Son and we both loved it. Book 2 was a big disappointment, and The Son tapped out. I continued on with book 3 just to see if 2 was a fluke, but sadly not. There's only one more book to the series, but I won't be continuing with it.

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. I read the first book of this with The Son and HATED it. I thought it was misogynistic and poorly plotted, and I did not like the main character at all. The Son continued with book 2, but hasn't seemed too eager to continue with the dozen books the series has bloated into.

Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau. The Son and I read the first book and liked it, though not as much as I'd expected to. We're reading the second book now, and although I admire it a lot, I'm not enjoying it.  All the characters are getting on our nerves. We have mutually agreed to not continue with the series after we finish this book.

Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence. These are great books, and they will always have a place in my heart since The Thieves of Ostia was the first book The Son ever recommended to me. But there are SO MANY of them (we've read 10, and there's 10 more to go!), and now that The Son is out of his mystery phase, I don't see me ever finishing the series.

Young Adult:

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. I really liked book 1 of this series, but book 2 was a slog. It's a short novel that's meant to be fast-paced, but it took me forever to read it. I only finished it because I was still in the era of being grimly determined to Finish All the Books.

If I Stay duology by Gayle Forman. I read book 1 for book club in seriously like three hours, but I'm not willing to devote three more hours to reading the sequel. I found it shockingly boring, considering the super-dramatic premise. Although I liked it more by the end than I had in the beginning, I do not give a fig what happens to these characters in the future.

Cecelia and Kate series by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevener. I ADORED book 1, but I just couldn't get into book 2 at all. I think book 1 stands alone very well on its own, thank you.

Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. I actually liked book 1, but then two things happened: 1) teen dystopia started feeling seriously played out, and 2) I read a whole bunch of super-negative reader reviews for book 2 and especially book 3. I have not regretted abandoning the series.

City of Beasts trilogy by Isabel Allende. Oh, man-- I was so excited for this one. I love me some Allende, and I love me some YA, so what could be better than Allende writing YA?! Unfortunately, it turns out her writing style is not a great fit for YA, which generally requires highly structured plots.

Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison. I'd been hearing about how hilarious and awesome the first book is for years, but having read it, I think it's one of those YA's you need to read while you're in that stage yourself. I got a few chuckles out of it, but found the main character super obnoxious and mean, and the rampant homophobia problematic.

Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale. This is another one where I loved book 1 but don't particularly feel it needs sequels. I've read some pretty negative reviews of book 2 that have convinced me I'm right. I'd rather just preserve my pleasant memories of the first book.


Ender series by Orson Scott Card. I read one entire "arm" of the series, following Ender into adulthood. And I read the next book of the other arm, which follows events back on and near Earth. However, I feel that I've given Card enough of my reading time, and my interest in continuing the series is far outweighed by my distaste for Card's personal philosophies. So there's that.

Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James. Ugh, I hated book 1 so much. I only finished it because it was for book club-- and a little so I could hate it with even more solid evidence. I wasn't offended by the sexual content, but also wasn't titillated by it. I super-duper hate being controlled by men, so Christian just gave me the creepies. And the writing was so flippin' awful. Sometimes popular books get a bad rap just 'cause it's fun to feel superior to the dumb masses, but this really is as bad as everyone says.

Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson.  This is a Fantasy Romance series that I don't remember much about other than I read a few gushing reviews of it and was then bitterly disappointed by book 1. It was one of those "magical guy needs to marry to save the kingdom but oh no! his fated love is just an ordinary girl, and she doesn't want to marry him, but he forces her to" stories, which, okay, that is basically the plot of Archangel, and the Samaria series is one of my favorite series ever, BUT: a) unlike the spineless heroine of this book, Rachel never stops fighting for her own agency-- not even when she falls in love with Gabriel, and b) Archangel is my least favorite of the Samaria books. ANYhoo, I have no plans to ever continue with this series.

Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. These books have a special place in my heart, because they were the first "classic" Science Fiction books I got into back when I first started educating myself about the genre. I still remember a long conversation about Asimov my dad and I had on a boat on the Rhine when I was like 26. I read the first three Foundation novels, and they opened my eyes to what Science Fiction could do with time and cultural memory. But I feel like 3 books was enough to get everything I'm going to get out of them, and there's something crazy like 15 books in the series, so nope.

Dune series by Frank Hebert. Another Science Fiction classic. I enjoyed book 1 and I'm glad I read it (and I loved the mini-series the Sci-Fi channel made of it back in the late 90's!), but I felt like it stood very well on its own, and I've never felt the desire to read the further books in the series.

Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Another series where I really dug book 1... but when I was done with it, I wasn't like, "I wish there was more to it!" I was more like, "That's a series?"

Hitchhiker's Guide series by Douglas Adams. More blasphemy! Don't get me wrong-- I adored book 1, and in fact just re-read it with The Son. Back in the day, I read book 2, but felt like the humor was wearing a little thin, and then I flat-out did not like book 3. Never read book 4. So I've decided to just preserve my happy love for book 1 and ignore the rest of the series.

Ringworld series by Larry Niven. Same story as Dune: fascinating world, interesting story, but I'm not into it enough to read a bunch more books about it.

Uplift series by David Brin. I've already discussed my complicated relationship with this series. Suffice it to say that despite my best intentions, it's not going to happen.

Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman. I liked book 1, but the character I was most invested in died near the end, and while I get that Quentin is supposed to be kind of a shit, he is a kind of specific shit I got more than enough of at my college (which was like a non-magical version of Brakebills-- including the Hudson river mansion), and I don't think I can stand him for two more books.


Sin City. I admire it technically, but hate how grim it was. One book was too much for me.

Swamp Thing. The first comic I ever read, way back in my late teens. It started out as a pretty standard Incredible Hulk/experiment gone awry type story, but got into some pretty metaphysical shit after a while. It was mind-blowingly awesome for a while, and then for me it jumped the shark, and I abandoned it in favor of Sandman.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Series Thoughts, Part 2: Series I Plan to Finish

Thought of another, belatedly! I'll add them as I think of them.

This post will be about the series I have in progress that I am invested in and committed to finishing.

Series I Plan to Finish:

Middle Grade:

1) Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan. Continuing Riordan's demigod theme, this is the story of a half-human son of a Norse god finding his heroic destiny. Only one book has been released so far, but if Riordan's past series are any indication it will run to five books. I was a little meh about book 1, but it's Riordan so I'm sure I'll finish it because The Son = Riordan Fanboy.

2) Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. Ditto the above, except I LOVED book 1 and am impatiently waiting the next release. This one is about Apollo being turned into a fully mortal sixteen-year-old as a punishment by Zeus. He is a surprisingly delightful narrator.

3) The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood. Historical Fiction with a fantastic twist, about a Victorian-era governess and her semi-feral and possibly cursed charges. I've read five books so far, and one more is forthcoming.

4) Family Fletcher series by Dana Alison Levy. Slice-of-life stories about a typical American family that happens to consist of two dads and four adopted sons. I've read both books that have been published thus far, and am fervently hoping there will be more.

Young Adult:

5) Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Book 1 was one of my top reads of the year so far-- Science Fiction with a horror twist, about a pair of teenage ex-lovers evacuated from their colony planet and facing dangers in space on separate ships. Book 2 is coming out this fall.

6) Octavian Nothing duology by M.T. Anderson. A truly original tale about a slave in Colonial Boston being raised as a gentleman as part of a experiment. I recently finished book 1 and intend to read book 2.

7) Jackaby series by William Ritter. Historical Fantasy about an eccentric paranormal investigator and his plucky assistant, set in 1890's New England. I'm reading book 2 now, and I know book 3 is being released soon. There's also a short story which I own but haven't read yet. I think after I finish book 2 I'm going to start over with the series on audiobook and continue with it that way, because I think The Son would like it.


8) Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. Mystery starring an 11-year-old Chemistry prodigy in 1950's England. Books 2 and 3 lagged for me, and I wasn't sure I was going to continue with it, but book 4 was amazing and I am totally hooked back in. I've read 6 books so far; there's book 7 and a short story already published, and book 8 coming out later this year.

9) Siri Paiboun Investigations by Colin Cotterill. Mystery starring a seventysomething army-doctor-turned-coroner in 1970's communist Laos. There have been 10 books so far, all of which I have read. Book 11 is coming out next month!

10) Jimm Juree Mysteries by Colin Cotterill. Yet another Mystery series, this one set in modern-day Thailand, and starring a sassy, thirtyish, female journalist forced to relocate to the sticks with her crazy family. I've read 3 books, and a fourth was just released this year.

11) Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. The family history and adventures of a young, genius, brittle-boned dwarf who becomes the General of a mercenary army. There are 21 books in this series so far; I have read 11.

12) Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Second-world Fantasy about politics and religion. There were three books years ago, and I always wished there were more. Now Bujold is self-pubbing novellas set in this world! I've read one, and now there's a new one. So I've read 3 books and 1 novella, with 1 novella to go.

13) Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. Napoleonic Wars with dragons. I've read 8 books, and have the last one left to go.

14) Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. Second-world Fantasy with a side of Romance. If Shinn's past series are any indication, this will run to five books. I've read 2 so far, and pre-ordered the paperback of book 3, which amazon now refuses to give me a delivery date for and I am FREAKING OUT about it.

15) Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis. Time travel meets academic bureaucracy! I've read 2 books, and have 2 more books and a novella to go.

16) MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. Depressing futurism, yay! I've read 1 book and have 2 to go.

17) Illium duology by Dan Simmons. Godlike beings on Mars directing a Trojan War reenactment made up of resurrected humans. And then some giant robots crash-land there. It's awesome. I've read book 1 and have book 2 to go.

18) The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemison. Second-world Fantasy about race, power, and the relations between gods and humans. I'm reading book 3 now.

19) The Rook Files by Daniel O'Malley. A crazy mashup of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, and Monty Python-esque humor. I've read book 1 and didn't even realize there was a book 2 until this week. I think I'm going to hold off reading it, though; I've heard the plot revolves around terrorist attacks, which is hitting a bit too close to home right now.

20) Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron. Light, fast-paced Fantasy series with an interesting magic system and a charming thief as the central character. I've read book 1 and have 4 more to go.

21) The Expanse series by James A.A. Corey. Epic Space Opera crossed with Horror crossed with police procedural. These are HUGE books and they are coming out SO FAST. I've only read book 1, but intend to continue on with the series, which will be at 6 books come this fall.

22) Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. Military Science Fiction following the exploits of an elderly man who accepts a new, young body in exchange for ten years' service in the intergalactic military. There are 6 books and 2 short stories in the series; I've read the first 3 books.

23) Golden City series by J. Kathleen Cheney. Alternate Historical Fantasy set in fin-de-siecle Portugal. I've read 2 books and just ordered the most recent one. I have no idea if this next book will be the end, or if it will run longer than a trilogy.

24) Earthsea series by Ursula K. LeGuin. I know. LeGuin is arguably my favorite author, and I haven't finished one of her best-known series. I read book 1 of the original trilogy many years ago and didn't feel like I connected with it, but then again I was very much more into Science Fiction rather than Fantasy back then. Years later, I read the companion book of short stories set in Earthsea and loved it. I do intend to finish the original trilogy, which at this point will mean re-reading book 1 as I've totally forgotten it.

35) One Rose trilogy by Gail Dayton. Awesomely wacky Fantasy Romance with group marriage and godly possession. I've read book 1 and intend to continue.


25) Saga. Science Fiction-ish world, with a plot that's like Romeo and Juliet five years later with a kid. I've read the first 5 volumes and am just waiting for my library to get volume 6.

26) Ms. Marvel. First generation, Pakistani-American, Muslim teenage girl in Jersey City who is also a superhero. I've read 4 volumes and am waiting for the library to get volume 5.

27) Giant Days. The mundane yet utterly gripping adventures of three best friends in their first year of University in the U.K. I've read 2 volumes and am waiting for the 3rd to be released this winter.

28) Rat Queens. Dungeons and Dragons meets Sex and the City. I've read 3 volumes and am waiting for volume 4 to be released.

29) Jedi Academy. Jedi Middle School. What's not to love? I thought this was done after book 3, but I see it's being rebooted with a new author/artist and new characters! The Son and I are psyched. I've read 3 volumes and am waiting for the new one to be released (this week, I think!).

30) Amulet. Middle Grade portal Fantasy about a girl who sets out to save her mom and winds up having to save an entire world. I've read 7 volumes and am waiting for the final volume to be released.

31) Three Thieves. Another Middle Grade Fantasy about a tightrope-walking sometimes-thief and her search for her long-lost twin brother. I've read 6 volumes and am waiting for the final volume to be released.

Web Comics:

32) Check, Please! One of my favorite discoveries of 2016. About a gay former ice dancer and enthusiastic amateur baker who winds up playing hockey at an elite New England college. So, so charming, with such endearing characters. I want it to update every day and go on forever.

33) Gunnerkrigg Court. The first web comic I ever read, and I will be reading it until the end. Robots and fairies and strong female characters at a very strange English boarding school.

34) Stand Still, Stay Silent. An ensemble piece about a ragtag band of misfits searching for ancient books in monster-ravaged, post-apocalytpic Scandinavia. That sounds grim, doesn't it? It's not; it's adorable.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Series Thoughts, Part 1: Series I've Finished

Of course I forgot one! Added below in adult.

Update: Thought of another!

I'll be doing a series (ha!) of posts about series: series I've finished, series I intend to finish, series I do not plan to finish, and series I'm undecided about for various reasons.

This first list will be series I've read in entirety. This will be just a list with no comments, since obviously I liked the series enough to read the whole thing-- welllll, except for a few, where I'm shaking my head at myself. To make it less unwieldy, I will separate it into categories. Books are listed in no particular order.

Without further ado:

Series I've Finished:

Middle Grade:

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson and the New Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Kane Chronicles trilogy by Rick Riordan
Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
Smek duology by Adam Rex*
Spiderwick Chronicles series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
WondLa trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi
Nate Foster duology by Tim Federle*

*I'm not actually sure these are done. They both seemed done at the end of the sequel, but if any future books are written I will definitely read them.

Young Adult:

Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Matched trilogy by Ally Condie
Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier
Safe-Keepers trilogy by Sharon Shinn
Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins
Annals of the Western Shore trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin
Frontier Magic trilogy by Patricia Wrede
Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix


Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Chronicles of Chaos trilogy by John C. Wright
Golden Age trilogy by John C. Wright
Confluence trilogy by Paul J. McAuley
Samaria series by Sharon Shinn
Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn
Sharing Knife quartet by Lois McMaster Bujold
Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach
My Family and Other Animals trilogy by Gerald Durrell
Hyperion quartet by Dan Simmons
Kushiel Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey (nine books, y'all!)
The Hainish Cycle series by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Secret Texts trilogy by Holly Lisle
Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie
The Connaghers series by Joely Sue Burkhart


Castle Waiting
Locke & Key
Zita the Spacegirl

Thursday, July 21, 2016

25 Bookish Facts About Me

I fell down a BookTube rabbit hole this week, and now I have all these tags I'd like to do, so I'll just ignore the fact I don't have a YouTube channel and do them here, for my three readers.

Consider yourself tagged for any reading-related list-thing I do, Sharon! But don't feel obligated to actually do them if you're like, Girl, that's lame.

25 Bookish Facts About Me:

1) I learned to read in nursery school, from books my dad made for me.

2) There were stretches of my childhood when I read a chapter book a day.

3) There were other stretches of my childhood when I read the same book over and over, like ten times in a row.

4) Despite the fact I was an early and voracious reader, I was not in the top reading group in elementary school. I was in the second top group. I remember being really peeved by that, and feeling like the few top-reading-group kids couldn't possibly read as much or love it as much as I did, and were chosen primarily because they were goody-two-shoes suck-ups.

5) Despite the fact I was a voracious reader, my parents never took me to the library when I was a kid. Instead, my dad took me on book-buying binges, a habit I've worked a lifetime to overcome.

6) The first adult novel I ever read was Scruples by Judith Krantz. I was maybe ten, WAY too young to be reading that trash!

7) I did not care for 90% of the fiction I read for school in high school and college, and it made me think for a time that I wasn't a reader after all.

8) I rarely read fiction for pleasure between the ages of 14-22.

9) My first boyfriend got me reading a little again, which is ironic because he had dyslexia and was a late and slow reader himself. He loved comic books, Horror, and Fantasy, so I wound up reading Sandman and Swamp Thing, and some Stephen King and Clive Barker, and The Hobbit, and to my surprise I enjoyed them.

10) After I graduated college, I spent a year working my way alphabetically through the contemporary short fiction collections in the library. (I was too poor to buy books.)

11) I started reading Science Fiction after I started writing it.

12) I started keeping track of how much I read in 2009.

13) Since 2009, the number of books I read a year has increased from around 25 to around 100.

14) The author I admire most is Ursula K. LeGuin, but the author whose work is most perfectly tailored to my reading preferences is Sharon Shinn.

15) Lois McMaster Bujold sits at the exact midpoint between LeGuin and Shinn. They are like the Three Graces of my writing psyche.

16) Although I adore romantic subplots in novels, and every book I've written includes as least one romantic subplot, I don't care for Romance novels. Every now and then a Romance will hit the spot, but usually when I try to read one I feel like there's something missing from them.

17) In my twenties I was super judge-y about Romance novels and the folks who read them. I swear that was half my problem writing the early drafts of Eleven Names: the internalized misogyny was so intense, I kept fighting the romance aspect of the story.

18) In my thirties, I had a literary epiphany and realized that genre snobbery is elitist bullshit, and that ghettoizing Romance is sexist bullshit. Romance may not be my particular cup of tea, but that doesn't make it tepid Lipton in a janky styrofoam cup.

18) I love hard Science Fiction, even though my spotty high school attendance and the fact I went to a hippie college with lax distribution requirements mean I do not have the math and science knowledge to grasp a lot of it.

19) I do a lot of my reading in 10-minute spurts throughout the day. I don't have a cell phone (am I the last holdout in America?), but I always have a book with me, and I read basically every time I have to wait for something.

20) I love to read before bed, but I have to watch it, because reading does not soothe me or make me tired. If I'm not stern with myself I can stay up way too late reading.

21) I don't have a kindle, but I'm seriously considering getting one despite my loathing of handheld electronic devices, because I have carpal tunnel and the way I hold books is making it worse.

22) I'm very opinionated at book club, but in private I doubt myself a lot when I'm not into a book that everyone seems to love.

23) Case in point: I read the first 150 pages or so of Game of Thrones, and I really wasn't into it. But it's still on my TBR because I have a hard time accepting that I actually have no desire to read the Song of Ice and Fire series.

24) I lost the TBR list I'd been keeping for seven years when my hard drive died back in January, and honestly I was a little relieved to be able to start over. There were a lot of obligation reads on it. My new list only has about 60 books so far, and they're all things I really want to read.

25) For the last five years, I have always been listening to an audiobook with The Son, mainly in the car. I am so glad he loves stories as much as I do, and so grateful to have shared so many wonderful stories with him. The day he first recommended a book to me (which we then listened to together, and I loved it) was one of my happiest and proudest moments.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Numbers, and a Roundup of Writerly News

NOTE: ARRGH! Sorry for the font salad in this post. Whenever I paste anything into blogger it fucks up all the formatting and I can never un-fuck it. 

We are two-thirds through July, people. And I got things to say!

Numbers first:

I have written for 40 hours in July so far.

I have completed chapter sixteen.
Mender is now 59,000 words.

Next, news from the GAH front:

I've gotten a few more rejections from agents-- I honestly don't even know how many it's up to now, which is probably a depressing sign. I did get one more personalized rejection though, which I will paste a portion of here:

Thank you for giving me a chance to carefully consider your submission. The concept greatly intrigued me and your craft is better than a lot of what I see. I really wanted to request more, but there seemed to be something missing in the plot, some threads and questions left untouched. I read your sample twice, and I'm very regretfully going to pass.

This is a subjective industry, and your book may well match the interests of another agency. Furthermore, if you do a substantial edit on the manuscript or produce a new novel in the future, please query me again! You've clearly developed your talent and the book is close to being "there."

So... yay?

Pitch Wars!:

It's Pitch Wars time again. I've had this secret scheme that I would apply with Mender, even though you're only supposed to enter with a completed MS. I hoped Murphy's Law would be on my side, and I'd get chosen, and then I'd have to do a crazy marathon to finish it, and my agent and I would laugh over it one day as we sipped champagne over my stack of Nebula awards.

So I've been haunting the site, waiting for the mentor blog hop info to come out. But then last night I was looking around on the site and clicked on a video about things you can do to get ready for Pitch Wars... and the whole first few minutes was a cogent explanation of why you really, REALLY shouldn't enter unless the book is done.

Now, I definitely fall on the Fuck the System! end of the rule-following spectrum, but if someone takes the time to thoroughly explain the reasoning behind the rule, more often than not I will see the wisdom in it. That's what happened here.

I just really wish there were two Pitch Wars a year. February would be perfect!

BUT, this is not the end of PW, because I was talking to my mom today and she said, why don't you just re-enter with The Owl Bearer? and I was like, Duh, why not? Obviously I won't apply to the same mentors as last year, and I'll tweak my submission packet, but the effort involved would be minimal, and Lord knows I'm not getting anywhere cold querying. I looked through all the mentor blogs today, and picked the four I'm applying to this year. 

The State of the Novel:

I spent today getting a serious grip on my plot. Most of what I've written thus far is sound, and I have most of the rest plotted... but the whole thing was starting to feel like too much to keep in my head. The past few days I keep thinking of little things to add or mention in the first half-- threads that need another stitch before they weave more in the second half. Most of them are no big deal-- really just a sentence or two-- but there are like 20 of them. And I have some fuzzy areas. Like, I know all four of my main characters need to wind up on stage together at this one particular moment... but the particulars of the plot have changed enough from the first outline that the why and how no longer makes sense. So I need to find a new way. And Mary's back story was not an A+ in Sense-Making class; up until now it's been vague, but now we're getting to the point of the story where she's going to angst about it a little, and it was just too WTF.

So for my entire 3.5 hours of writing time today, I wrote out all the plot arcs and threads step-by-step in their own Scrivener page, and then I copied and pasted all the second-half-of-the-book steps from each into a new page, and rearranged them so they're in order. And now I have an outline to follow for the rest of the book, and a map of where to tweak the first half once it's editing time.

And that's all I got for today. Whew!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Diverse Books Tag

Again, stealing a book tag from Sharon. Here are the guidelines:

The Diverse Books Tag is a bit like a scavenger hunt. I will task you to find a book that fits a specific criteria and you will have to show us a book you have read or want to read. 
If you can’t think of a book that fits the specific category, then I encourage you to go look for oneA quick Google search will provide you with many books that will fit the bill. (Also, Goodreads lists are your friends.) Find one you are genuinely interested in reading and move on to the next category. 
Everyone can do this tag, even people who don’t own or haven’t read any books that fit the descriptions below. So there’s no excuse! The purpose of the tag is to promote the kinds of books that may not get a lot of attention in the book blogging community.

Find a book starring a lesbian character:

This one has been on my TBR list a long time: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. Dickension Historical Fiction with con artists and lesbian romance. It sounds awesome.

Find a book with a Muslim protagonist:

I'm going to plug a comic here: Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and various artists. Kamala is such a great character, so strong and gutsy and conflicted and honorable, and respectful of her culture while chafing against it. All while being, y'know, a superhero.

Find a book set in Latin America:

One of my all-times favorites: Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, a tale beautiful enough to be a fable, but strongly characterized enough to be Literary Fiction. It's set in an unnamed South American country that I'm 97% sure is supposed to be Venezuala.

Find a book about a person with a disability:

Among Others by Jo Walton. This is a book about a lot of things: grief, family, English boarding school, fairies, and a passionate love for Science Fiction. But it's also about disability. The protagonist is a 15-year-old girl whose leg was crushed in an accident. She can still walk using a cane, but has limited mobility and stamina and lives with constant pain. Her attempts to come to terms with her new reality after her accident is a thread woven throughout all the other plotlines of the book.

Find a science fiction or fantasy book with a POC protagonist:

Another one that's been on my list for a while: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar. A Fantasy novel that's been compared to LeGuin's writing, which is a huge plus for me. I'm planning to read this for the A More Diverse Universe challenge this fall.

Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa:

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. A first contact with aliens story set in Nigeria. I read Okorafor's The Book of Phoenix earlier this year, and am now on a mission to work my way through the rest of her backlist.

Find a book written by an Aboriginal or American Indian author:

I know Joseph Bruchac mainly as an Abenaki author of children's fiction about various American Indian groups, but I've recently stumbled across his YA novel Killer of Enemies, about an Abenaki and Apache teenage girl in a post-apoc Southwest fighting genetically altered monsters. Hell, yes. Added it to my TBR list, obvs.

Find a book set in South Asia:

Another LitFic favorite: Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. The story of modern India told through the family history and life story of a boy born at the moment of India's independence.

Find a book with a biracial protagonist:

One of my Middle Grade favorites: The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. (First book: The Red Pyramid.) Riordan is best known for his Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus books, but I have a lot of love for this trilogy about Egyptian gods running amok in modern times. The protagonists are a brother/sister pair who alternate first-person POV's. They have been raised apart and are very different, and also have very different experiences of being biracial (one "reads" as African-American, while the other is much lighter-skinned and reads as white).

Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues:

Annabel by Kathleen Winter. This is a former Canada Reads finalist, and keeps getting considered but then not chosen by my book club. I think I'm going to have to just go ahead and read it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mid-Month Report

The numbers:

I've written for 27.5 hours in July thus far.
I've finished Chapter 15.
Mender is now 55,500 words.

I love this book. I am having so much fun writing it. I really hope it doesn't suck.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Top Ten Underrated Books!

I'm stealing this from Sharon, because I enjoyed reading her list so much:

Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Have Under 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads!

First three are from my homegirl Sharon Shinn:

1) Heart of Gold. Low-key Science Fiction about racial and cultural conflicts, and a very adult-feeling romance.

2) Wrapt in Crystal. Another Science Fiction romance on another gorgeously-rendered world. This one is also a murder mystery and a story about religion and faith.

3) Quatrain. Four romance novellas that take place in four different Shinn worlds: Samaria, the Twelve Houses, the world of Castle Auburn, and the world from Heart of Gold (that one is my favorite!).

4) A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. LeGuin. LeGuin is my spirit animal, so I'm appalled that any book by her has less than 2,000 reviews. This is my favorite of her short story collections, and the titular novella is one of my top three pieces of LeGuin writing ever. The username I use on most of the internets is taken from a character in that novella.

5) The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor. I just read this book this spring, and I'm now excited to explore more of Okorafor's backlist. This is a science fiction story, a dystopian story, a superhero origin story, an Afrocentric story, and a coming of age story.

6) Killed At the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. The first book of the Jimm Juree Mysteries. I love love love Cotterill's Siri Paiboun Investigations, but I think the Jimm Juree books have the potential to appeal to an audience that might be turned off by a 70something protagonist in 1970's Cambodia. Jimm is a modern Thai woman with sass to spare, and the books are hilarious.

7) The Compass Rose by Gail Dayton. This has got to be the most far-out book Harlequin ever published. Fantasy (polyamorous) Romance, featuring war, godly possession, group marriage, culture clash, and lots of doin' eet.

8) The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. This is a great Middle Grade book that should be getting more love. The Fletcher family is all boys: two dads and four adopted sons, two of whom are of color. But gay marriage and interracial families aren't what the book is about-- in fact, other than two slightly awkward moments, everyone the Fletcher boys encounter is used to their unusual family. The story follows the boys through a year of new schools, changing friendships, and a cranky new next-door neighbor. I'm reading the sequel right now and am charmed all over again.

9) Fauna and Family by Gerald Durrell. I've posted before about my love for the My Family and Other Animals books, which I first read as a child. This is the third and final book of the trilogy, but I think it's by far the best and funniest, and since the books are episodic and skip around in time anyway, there's no reason not to start with it.

10) One Year Off by David Elliot Cohen. The memoir of a guy who turned forty, had a mid-life crisis, quit his job, and traveled around the world for a year... but he took his wife and three kids (all under 8) with him. Funny, fascinating, and inspiring.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Numbers and Threads

One-third of the way through the month!

The numbers so far:

I've written for 15 hours so far this month.
I just finished chapter 14.
Mender is now 51,350 words.

We're back from our two weeks on Cape Cod, and The Son starts a week-long afternoon cartooning camp this week. My plan is to drop him at camp and then write at the library that's practically next door.

I need to do a little thinking and planning this week. I've entered the wilds of Act 3 (or second-half-of-Act-2), which is always my confused-face part of a book. I've got most of the scenes worked out, but I have a few blank spots. I also have a lot of threads laid down, and need to make sure I don't drop any. So I think step one is to make a master list of all the threads that need to be woven through this quarter of the story.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


I'm at 50,000 words as of today! And by my plot calculations, at the mid-point of the story!

The first draft of Mender is halfway done.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

July Goals

I meant to post this yesterday, but I'm at the beach and time is getting away from me.

Overall goal for the month is, again, 60 hours. That's been working smashingly.

For the next week, I'll be on vacation and stealing an hour here and there. But for each week of July I should have more time to write than the week before, so while it will look like I'm hideously behind at the one-third mark, I don't think it'll be a problem to get 60 hours by the end of the month.

If I could make it to 75,000 words by then, that would peachy... but it's not likely.

And I want to keep enjoying it!