alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
Happy New Year! It's been some time since I posted; it was a busy year at Casa Abbott for non-writing reasons. We've welcomed baby Fish into our family, joining his sister Bug, Three-stripe, cats Jack and Tollers, and I as members of our household. But while I'm behind on many things, I've continued to read a lot! Since I posted last year and the year before about my reading goals, I wanted to post last year's results and this year's goals before 2015 progressed too far!

This year, I did not count all the picture books I read, but I did count all my review picture books individually. For the year, I totalled 163 books, which is up from last year's 129 (probably in part due to counting all the review books individually). There was a method to my madness, however: I wanted to see what percentage of titles were review books as compared to non-review books. Here's some of the interesting breakdown:

  • 89 titles were review books

  • 106 were children's or YA books

  • Only 12 were graphic novels, which is rather low

  • I read 7 romance, 69 SFF, and 2 nonfiction


I did reasonably well on my goals. The 2 nonfiction titles beat my goal to read just 1. I read 13 out of the 15 novels from my TBR pile I'd hoped to read, 4 titles by autobio writers, 6 rereads (out of a goal of 3), and read one non-genre novel.

The most interesting statistic I kept last year was print vs. digital. I surprised myself by reading 91 books in paper and 72 digitally. I thought I skewed toward e-books, so it's interesting to me that I'm not even at 50% digital reading. Some of this is due to reading for the MFAs. I rely heavily on the library to provide me with MFA reading, and though some are available as e-books, most are more readily available in print.


Highlights of the year?
  • Rereading Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead--and seeing it make the MFA finalists list--was great fun. It's been especially fun to read more of the Craft books, both post-publishing and in mss format, in combination with playing Max's Craftverse game Choice of the Deathless. Without the books being required for the game and vice versa, they work so well in conjunction!

  • Finishing Devon Monk's "Allie Beckstrom" series was bittersweet, but starting the "House Immortal" books makes me confident there's more excellent reading to come.

  • I had the fantastic opportunity to interview Gene Luen Yang for the autobio project, and I read The Shadow Hero and Boxers and Saints in preparation for that. They were both some of my favorite reading for the year, for very different reasons. I'd recommend The Shadow Hero to anyone, but especially readers who have a fondness for Golden Age superheroes. Boxers and Saints is a fabulous moral and ethical investigation of a historical period with a lot of magical realism thrown in, and I found it both enjoyable and tremendously moving.

  • The biggest surprise read was probably Eleven by Tom Rogers. It's a book about 9/11, mostly from the perspective of a boy who's just turned 11, and it's fantastic both as an exploration of the event through fiction for middle graders and as a coming of age story. It was also pretty wild to realize that 9/11 happened before the middle grade age group was born--so it qualifies, on some level, as historical fiction.

  • I'd also recommend without reservation the Super Lexi middle grade books by Emma Lesko. Lexi is neurologically and developmentally different from her peers, which makes her a fascinating POV character, and Lesko's commitment to neuro-diversity in children's books shows in how beautifully she captures Lexi and makes her so easy to empathize with.

  • I loved finally finishing Shanna Swendson's "Enchanted, Inc." series, which for ages looked like it wouldn't get to continue beyond book four. (I'd still read more books in that world!)

  • I'm also really eager to see where the "Kate Daniels" (Ilona Andrews) and "Safehold" (David Weber) books end up next!


There were, of course, a lot of other great books, but listing them all would be fodder for TLDR (if I haven't already hit that point).

I was pretty happy with this year's goals, so I'm planning to keep them the same. Here's to another year of good reading!
alanajoli: (mini me short hair)


Only 11 days until Hugo Nominations are due, and I'm still sorting through my list of titles, deciding what I'm going to nominate, figuring out what authors I read compulsively had titles out in 2013, etc., etc. I'm used to nominating for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, which require a single-book nomination to stand alone, so entries in the "Kate Daniels" series or the "Kitty the Werewolf" series aren't eligible. Not so with the Hugos! The stand-alone quality is not a judge of merit. (Notably, I'm behind on the Kitty books, which is why I haven't listed one below. I've no doubt that the two published in 2013 are awesome and worthy of consideration!)

Taking into account what a "typical WorldCon voter" is expected to be like (see Jim Hines on Larry Correia on Alex Dally MacFarlane; my comment is, of course, tongue in cheek), here are some of the pieces and people currently on my whittling-down list:

Campbell eligible:
Max Gladstone
Shawna Mlawski
Mark H. Williams
Brian McClellan

Short stories:
"Drona's Death" Max Gladstone, xoxo Orpheus
"The Best We Can" Carrie Vaughn, Tor.com
"Stranger vs. the Malevolent Malignancy" Jim Hines, Unidentified Funny Objects 2
“The Life Expectancy of Cockroaches” by Michelle Muenzler, Crossed Genres
"Galatea Odysseus" Madeline Miller, xoxo Orpheus
"The Squid Who Fell in Love with the Sun," Ben Loory, xoxo Orpheus

Novels:
Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone
Sleepless Knights by Mark H. Williams
Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest
Codex Born by Jim Hines
Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
Cold Copper by Devon Monk
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
Hammer of Witches by Shawna Mlawski

Graphic novels:
RASL by Jeff Smith
Saga vol 2 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Hawkeye vol 1 by Matt Fraction and David Aja

Editors:
Moshe Feder
Marco Palmieri
Stacy Whitman
Erika Tsang

Dramatic Long Form:
Choice of the Deathless by Max Gladstone -- notably, this is an interactive novel game app, which may mean this isn't technically the category for it, but there's some buzz this year about nominating games for this category, and I'm all for that.

I'm still poking around the Internet to make sure I haven't miscategorized 2013 titles in my head as belonging to other years. What books and stories are appearing in your nominations lists (if you're voting), or which would you pick (if you're not)?
alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
What a year in books! As always, my book list is dominated by science fiction and fantasy (in part because of the long nominations list every year in the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, which I love being on the jury for) with a healthy smattering of romance and comics. I'm facing a couple of big changes in 2014, the biggest of which is that I'm no longer reviewing SFF or comics for Publishers Weekly. My editors and I were all sad about the circumstances that led to this change, and I'm glad for things like Facebook and Twitter that will enable me to keep in touch when I'm not getting regular book shipments from them! Instead, I'm reading more titles for Kirkus, all self-published and many of them picture and chapter books, which suits my reading time with Bug (who is an excellent second opinion when reviewing such titles).

A portion of my still-ridiculous TBR pile
A small portion of my still ridiculous TBR pile


I read twelve fewer books in 2013 than in 2012 (in part because I count the picture book reviews in batches rather than individually), but my total was still 129 books for the year, an average of almost 2 1/2 books per week. A friend asked about the best book I read in 2013, and I said I'd have to consult my spreadsheet -- I forget in what year I've read what books! But here are some of my favorite picks for 2013:

  • Wrecked by Shiloh Walker, a very fun contemporary romance

  • Merrie Haskell's The Princess Curse

  • The manuscript for Max Gladstone's Full Fathom Five, which will be out this coming July; even in manuscript form, this is -- so far -- my favorite of the Craft sequence

  • A Man Above Reproach, a delightfully silly regency romance by Evelyn Price, which was so fun that I didn't even care if there were anachronisms

  • Digger by Ursula Vernon, which won the MFA in the adult category this year, and which I reviewed at Black Gate back in October

  • RASL by Jeff Smith, which I didn't love as much as Bone, but was good in a very different way

  • Vessel (the MFA winner for the children's category) and Conjured, both by Sarah Beth Durst, and both very different books, but equally good

  • Graveminder by Melissa Marr, which I think appealed to me particularly because my father is a funeral director

  • Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch, which I'd been meaning to read for ages and finally picked up

  • Sidekicked by John David Anderson, which I already reviewed here

  • If I Fall by Kate Noble, which may be the best romance novel I've read

  • Sleepless Knights by Mark Williams, a comedic Arthurian novel that's my favorite Arthuriana in awhile


I also caught up on some series reading that I enjoyed:

  • Allison Pang's "Heart of the Dreaming" series

  • Devon Monk's first three "Age of Steam" books (and I can't wait for more of those!)

  • I always compulsively buy whatever novel in Nalini Singh's "Psy/Changeling" or Ilona Andrews's "Kate Daniels" series comes out, so I'm happily caught up there

  • After falling behind on Jennifer Estep's "Mythos Academy" books, I read three in a row, and I'm excited for the (soon to be out) final book in the series

  • I read the final books in Karen Mahoney's "Iron Witch" trilogy, Ally Carter's "Gallagher Girls" series, and Nicole Peeler's "Jane True" series, all of which were fitting conclusions

  • I'm still catching up on the Sartorias-Deles books by Sherwood Smith (because they're such a vast span), but I did read and enjoy her 2012 YA The Spy Princess.

  • I am finally almost caught up with "Safehold" by David Weber, but I find sometimes I need to take a break in the middle of them to get away from religious warfare; Weber writes it very well, but it can be so heart-wrenching in the middle that I put the book down and come back to it later.


There are several more titles I could mention -- I read a lot of good books this year, and several that earned a "great" or "great!" or "holy crap awesome!" ratings in my spreadsheet. As for my goals... I didn't quite make them. Let's check in:

  • 1 new to me nonfiction book Yeah, this one didn't happen. This goal is staying on my list for 2014, though; I think reading nonfiction, beyond articles at Cracked is important, and I should do more of it, even though I'm dreadfully slow.

  • 2 novels not SFF, romance, or YA Didn't even touch this one. Again, reading outside my genres is important, and I don't do enough of it. Keeping this goal the same for 2014.

  • 1 novel by an autobio author who I haven't read before Technically, this one's a no-go, too, but I did read some people this year and, because I enjoyed their work, subsequently invite them to the project. So I'll give this one a C for effort. Same goal next year.

  • 3 rereads I made 2 rereads, but I have this vague recollection of binging on the "Kate Daniels" books by Ilona Andrews right after reading the newest one. No record of it, so I can't count it. I'm pretty sure I can hit the 3 count next year.

  • 1 new graphic novel not a review book I aced this one -- I read 12. So, um, this goal is coming off the list. I don't need incentive to read comics apparently. I'm also buying some books in single issues (Saga!) from Comixology, which I count like webcomics (which is to day, I don't write them down).

  • 15 TBR books Another abject failure. I only read 3. I realized though that from March until June I didn't read a single book that wasn't for a review or for the MFA list, so it makes a little sense that I fell behind in pleasure reading. Especially as we move onto the next one...

  • 4 kids books not for the MFAs A bunch of pleasure reading apparently happened here instead. I read 16 kids books last year. Again, this goal is coming down -- no incentive needed here.

  • And though this one's not a goal, my reviews totalled out to 74 books. According to my January recap of reading last year, I read 80 review books in 2012. So that number looks to be holding just about steady.


What books did you read last year that you'd recommend? What reading goals have you set?
alanajoli: (Default)
Nope, not a contest from me today (though I should probably do another one soon). This is a contest from Ilona Andrews to promote her new On the Edge, a series starter paranormal romance. Not only is she doing a media blitz contest (linked above), it's a pre-contest to promote the Bitten by Books contest coming up next week. Double the contest, double the fun?

One of the things I found most interesting about Ilona's contest is the top prize: getting to be a beta reader (without the pressure of offering critiques) for six months. The idea of being a beta for a published author is getting to be a more popular idea, I think, and it's a trend that interests me. Brandon Sanderson posts chapter excerpts over at [livejournal.com profile] mistborn; Dylan Birtolo does the same at [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf. Lora Innes just introduced a Fan Flow group for The Dreamer on a subscription basis. I believe that Michele Bardsley gives her "minions" free content as well. The Glamazombies used to get a paragraph a week of spoliery goodness from Mark Henry, which I imagine will start up again in the future.

So, what is going on here? This seems different from the usual technopeasant wretch business. This is *pre* published writing being shared, letting readers in on the whole writing process. Any of you writers out there doing this sort of thing -- how does this impact your writing? Readers who are in on the pre-pub end -- how does this impact your reading? I think this is a trend to watch, and I'm curious who else has noticed it and what they think is happening.

In the meantime, check out Ilona's contest on the 28th at Bitten by Books.

alanajoli: (Default)
I'm paging through all the e-mail in my inbox that can't just be archived and realizing that I've been keeping some of it around to post here in a link soup edition. Things are looking up, as far as finally getting caught up is concerned, but I'm taking it easy, because I think everyone needs a day or two, now and again, to just breathe.

On to the links!


  • I did an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith ([livejournal.com profile] cynleitichsmith) about the autobiographies project. It's at her lj and associated other places (like her main blog) that she syndicates to. I hope you enjoy reading about the project as much as I enjoy talking about it!

  • Egyptian author Marwa Rakha, whom I met over at SheWrites, has uploaded a new English edition of her novel, which she's released independently due to troubles with Egyptian publishers. She's giving it away for free, so if you're interested in Egyptian fiction, check it out!

  • The big Baeg Tobar relaunch is scheduled for October 2nd. I'm really excited to see the stories that I've been working on come into existence in a public sphere -- along with tales by Max Gladstone ([livejournal.com profile] lyster) and Daniel Tyler Gooden, among others. The art work previews are, as I expect from the BT artists, stunning, and I'm excited to see the project up and alive again.

  • [livejournal.com profile] cinda_cite did a great entry about how books you're reading influence each other by proximity, mentioning her contest win from here at Myth, the Universe, and Everything. I've not had the time to actually comment on it over there, but I hope you'll pop over to read it.

  • C. E. Murphy also had a great blog post up recently about how she never noticed a lack of women in fantasy, which I think is a nice counterpoint to all the discussions about how strong women aren't present in the genre. Like Murphy, I've always been able to find strong female heroes in my fantasy novels, but I acknowledge that this is because I grew up in the era of Alanna the Lioness, Lady Aerin, and Harry Crew. In younger books, there was almost always a mix of girls and boys as heroes (Narnia, Edward Eager's novels, etc.), and by the time I was reading YA fantasy (still a new genre), there were scores of girls taking on traditional boy roles to be their own heroes. This isn't to say that there isn't a lack of women heroes, written by men, in epic fantasy (which seems to be part of the argument), but that I find Murphy's perspective on the thing refreshing, and pretty reflective of my own experience. (She doesn't mention Robert Jordan's women, who are politically the power of the world [and include some admirable heroines, despite the weird love trinity that forms around the central hero], nor Brandon Sanderson's ([livejournal.com profile] mistborn's) women, who show up as capable, independent heroines with as much meat as his men [at least in what I've read so far -- he has books out I haven't had the chance to read yet]. I think the gender work of those two epic fantasy writers are at least worth noting.)



Now, off to convince the day that I've begun, and to prepare for my pre-natal exercise class in New Haven. I've been itching for some new Nalini Singh, and she's among the authors featured in Must Love Hellhounds (as is Ilona Andrews/[livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews, who I'm always glad to have more fiction from), so I may stop at the B&N downtown and pick up a copy, to further encourage relaxing alongside catching up. :)
alanajoli: (Default)
So many book birthdays today!

Welcome to the world, Thorn Queen by [livejournal.com profile] blue_succubus; The Eternal Kiss, featuring a short story by [livejournal.com profile] kazdreamer; My Soul to Take, [livejournal.com profile] rkvincent's first YA novel; Destined for an Early Grave, the fourth installment of [livejournal.com profile] frost_light's Night Huntress series; and Demon Inside by [livejournal.com profile] stacia_kane, who is a guest today over at Bitten by Books. Whew!

One of the cool things about book birthdays is that you notice which authors you're following are also following authors you're following. Meaning: [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews retweeted [livejournal.com profile] rkvincent's post about the releases from [livejournal.com profile] frost_light and Jenna Black (who I'm not yet following; I've got one of her books on my desk, borrowed from a friend, but haven't had a chance to read her yet). Chandra Rooney blogged about [livejournal.com profile] kazdreamer. [livejournal.com profile] blue_succubus is showing up all over the twitterverse today, in no small part through the retweets of Team Seattle. Watching this kind of connectivity in the writing community is fascinating, and it's one of the things I love about the way the Internet is changing the way writers interact -- with each other, and with their fans.

But what's even better than online interactions among writers is, to me, the classic -- the good ol' writing group. Substrate met this past Sunday: four writers in my living room, plus one significant other/first reader, plus one writer joining us via Skype from his summer location of California. We looked over three pieces, a short story, a full novel (the first we've had submitted to Substrate), and three new chapters of a novel we've been getting in pieces. I didn't have anything this go round -- I've been having enough trouble keeping up with my deadlines -- but reading and discussing other people's work makes my writerly brain function *better.*

I'm really looking forward to the day when I can celebrate some Substrate book birthdays.
alanajoli: (Default)
Two things have been keeping me away from livejournal: 1) a copious amount of copyediting, and 2) figuring out what to read. I've noticed that some really good books make you just want to read more and more of the same, and some really good books make it hard to pick up the next good thing. For example, when I finished Magic Strikes (by [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews), I wanted more Kate Daniels, as soon as possible. When I finished Street Magic (by [livejournal.com profile] blackaire), I picked up three or four different books (including one of [livejournal.com profile] blackaire's earlier ones) and just found I wasn't in the mood for them. Not because they weren't good (to be fair, one of them really wasn't, but luckily it was a library book and not something I'd already bought), but because they just weren't quite what I wanted. Thankfully [livejournal.com profile] nalini_singh's Angel's Blood got me through. I can't say I loved it as much as her Psy/Changeling series (to which I'm addicted), but it's clear she's doing something different in the Guild Hunter series, if only because from the preview of the next book, it looks like the protagonists are the same -- not the usual for a series that appears to have the framework of a traditional romance. The world she's building is intriguing, I'm eager to see what she's planning for the rest (though I'm looking forward to Branded by Fire more).

The copyediting has been going, though not as smoothly as I'd like. I have four different copyediting projects bouncing around right now, all of them demanding attention. Today I moved the autobiographies project back to the top of the pile, since I'd really been wanting to get work done on that while I was in England. Herbie Brennan's essay is just wonderful; I'd known him predominantly from the "Faerie Wars" books before, and was tickled to see he also writes nonfiction books about paranormal experiences. Learning about how he came to write both his nonfiction and the "Faerie Wars" books (not to mention his foray into D&D!) was great fun, and the essay is going to be a really excellent addition to the Something about the Author series.

So now, back to one of the other projects. I have a gig copyediting some literature essays and I get to read about Ivanhoe and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which are pretty fun titles to read criticism of (or so I hope!). The other copyediting projects are very short essays, there are just a bunch of them, so I'm wading through, getting as many done as I can between the larger projects.

In the meantime, I've come into some very fun duplicate books that I'd like to use as prizes for a contest. (Not telling what they are yet -- it's a surprise!). I'm just not sure what type of contest to have here, at the moment. [livejournal.com profile] tltrent has just started a monthly contest over at Eudaimonium, asking readers to post the answer to a question or topic of discussion (this month: name your favorite strong female character). Given the content of this blog, I feel like I ought to either go with something having to do with mythology or having to do with taking photos of novels at different outdoor locations (since that's been so much fun for me). If you were going to enter a contest here, what type of contest would you be most likely to respond to?
alanajoli: (Default)
Picking the novels to come along with me as international travelers this year was a challenge. I packed course books and extra resources and had to hem and haw over which novels I would take along for this project. I also have a tendency to buy books while I'm abroad, so along with the large number of books in my bag, I knew I'd come home with more. Such is the way of traveling readers!

Books on the road! )

So that's this year's tour. Now back to uploading more of my photos for the students!
alanajoli: (mini me)
All right, one week to get myself back on my feet, and here I am, returning to ye olde blog. (I was delayed in turning in my short story to my editor, and one of the things I forbade myself from doing was blogging before it was finished and ready to turn in.) But a couple of cool things happened today, and I wanted to make sure to blog about them, and update you guys on my goals from the trip, before Saturday turned into Sunday. (Hopefully, the novel tourism post will go up tomorrow!)

So, first cool thing: my review of Caitlin Kittridge's ([livejournal.com profile] blackaire's) novel, Street Magic, went up on Flames Rising. Matt was kind enough to post it for me on a Saturday, because the book has just hit the shelves, and I didn't want to have gotten an advanced reader copy for nothing! It's a really, really excellent novel, which I expound upon in my review. Check out what I had to say, and look for the novel at your local bookstore!

Second cool thing: I finally got to meet Anton Strout ([livejournal.com profile] antonstrout) (who is, for the record, the most beloved low-to-midlist urban fantasy writer in America, or so I hear) live and in person. He did a book signing up in Pittsfield, his home stomping grounds and not distant from my college stomping grounds. So finally, I have my books signed. Hooray! I decided that bringing him a PEZ dispenser would border on creepy fangirl, so I decided to eschew it and just bring books and questions and a big smile. He did a reading from the first chapter of Deader Still, which was brilliantly creepy and got wonderful reactions from the audience (including me -- I'd forgotten how vivid, and, frankly, gross, that scene was!). The best part, however, was his commentary -- as he was reading, he'd interrupt himself and tell us little bits about the characters or his word choice or things that he liked about the scene, which was a huge enhancement to the story for me. Also (and I hope I'm not blowing his cover), he is super nice in person. Based on his blog and his books, I was expecting more snark, but he was totally gracious and sweet. (And I'm not just saying this because he might find this entry later. These are honest impressions here!)

The Barnes and Noble in Pittsfield is pretty darn great. They didn't have Pandora's Closet in stock, sadly, but I did pick up Red Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells and Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh. The staff was really great, too, but my favorite part was walking in and seeing a young woman reading manga with this huge grin on her face, totally oblivious to anyone walking by. Seeing the power of reading in person like that gives me a little thrill.

So, those are my good things. Now to catch up on my goals... )
alanajoli: (Default)
I just have to say: you livejournal people are far too interesting and difficult to keep up with. I had far more concrete writing plans for today, but spent a good chunk of the day reading other people's ljs instead.

Note: I am still not entirely caught up. But I think I'm as close as I'm going to get.

Today is a link day, in part because there's contests that require linking (and I'm a sucker for that) and in part because there were some fun Joss Whedon articles that got tossed around on my mailing lists, and dutiful Browncoat that I am, I must share them.

So, first, the Whedon:

WGA magazine has an article about Joss as a writer (and mammoth-drawer, were he a Cro-magnon) and about the Dr. Horrible phenomenon.

[livejournal.com profile] caitrin posted news about Joss's movie, Cabin in the Woods, which will apparently star Bradley Whitford. I didn't know anything about this project, so it's a nice head's up. (It's not Goners, though, which is somewhat disappointing.)

For contest number one, the Urban Fantasy Land Readers Choice Awards need your votes! There are so many good books up for awards that it's tough to narrow it down: [livejournal.com profile] devonmonk, [livejournal.com profile] blue_succubus, [livejournal.com profile] antonstrout, [livejournal.com profile] mdhenry, [livejournal.com profile] rkvincent, [livejournal.com profile] frost_light, [livejournal.com profile] blackaire, [livejournal.com profile] melissa_writing, [livejournal.com profile] stacia_kane, [livejournal.com profile] katatomic, [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews, Jes Battis, and Carrie Vaughn are among the nominees. The polls close on the 30th, and if you also link to the blog, you're entered for a $25 amazon gift card. Who doesn't need one of those?

And finally, the Deadline Dames (including [livejournal.com profile] devonmonk and [livejournal.com profile] rkvincent) are hosting a number of contests on the new blog, which launched on the 19th. Devon's involves setting goals--and one of mine is to post on livejournal at least twice a week. (The unreasonable expectation? Every day.) So, we'll see how I do!
alanajoli: (Default)
We're a week into the New Year, and I haven't really put together a list of resolutions. I'm not sure that I will. I do have a goal of forming an actual spiritual practice (rather than a haphazard spiritual observance). The same is true of my writing. I think I lost track of my apprenticeship somewhere along the way and need to get back on the right path.

But 2009 is looking pretty exciting for a number of reasons. Here's some of what's coming up:

1) Substrate. This is my new, semi-local writing group! Since we're based out of New Haven, it's very local to me, but some of the writers will be coming from Boston and D.C., so it'll be a trek. Luckily, New Haven is an old stomping ground for everyone but me (as the person who has spent the least amount of time living here on Connecticut's shoreline, or so I believe), so the writing group meetings can be combined with other events as well. Like, say, D&D games.

2) Baeg Tobar. I've gotten involved with BT again, and am very excited to be working with Scott and Jeremy and Daniel and the BT crew. There are some amazing things in store for the site this year, including serial fiction, short stories, and a regularly updating web comic.

3) England. I've been invited to be the TA/driver/chaperon for the Simon's Rock England Trip in May of this year. The last time I was in England was 2003, when my sister and I went on our (now infamous, I'm sure) Isle of Man trip, where we were attacked by gulls and almost fell into the Chasms. (I exaggerate only slightly.) We'd begun the trip in England, and we stayed in Glastonbury for a good chunk of it. I am very excited to return, and hope to become reacquainted with Geoffrey and Pat Ashe. I've fallen out of touch with the Arthurian scholar and his wife in recent years, and am looking forward to seeing them again.

4) Getting past 1st level. My Mythic Greece players, with the exception of the one who is currently nannying in England (and so hasn't made the past few sessions) are all second level. Also, I got a GM medal at Worlds Apart for running sessions there. (They were shocked with how excited I was with a little virtual medal, but I am constantly in awe of how well we're treated there. They are good people, and if you're near Pioneer Valley and in need of a game store, they should be your go-to point.)

5) Since it's up on the site, I think it's fair to announce that my LFR module, "Head above Water," is premiering at DDXP this year. I won't be going to Fort Wayne to usher it into the world, but I'm really excited to have it given such an excellent spot to begin play!

6) Dogs in the Vineyard. The old Dogs game is coming to a close, and the new Dogs game is ramping up. There are fun times waiting to happen.

7) Another Shoreline summer. There will be sailing, there will be beach cook outs, there will probably be grill outs in our new back yard. (We moved in December.) I may be dreaming in advance about sunshine, but man am I looking forward to beach weather!

8) A million things to read. Moving made me consolidate my TBR pile--the ones I've actually *purchased* and not just added to the list in my head. I'd take a picture, but it's a bit embarrassing. Add to that the number of awesome authors with books coming out this year (or just released): [livejournal.com profile] frost_light, [livejournal.com profile] melissa_writing, [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews, [livejournal.com profile] sartorias, [livejournal.com profile] jimhines, Carrie Vaughn, [livejournal.com profile] rkvincent, [livejournal.com profile] blue_succubus, [livejournal.com profile] antonstrout, [livejournal.com profile] amanda_marrone, [livejournal.com profile] jenlyn_b, [livejournal.com profile] m_stiefvater, [livejournal.com profile] mdhenry, [livejournal.com profile] nalini_singh... all of them on my Must Be Read list. (And that's just with what I know from livejournals or can back up with Amazon research. Heck, that's mostly for the first six months of this year.)

So, yes, 2009 is looking up. I know, I'm probably one of the few people in the world who is sad to see 2008 go, but it was a good year for me, as far as my short stories getting published, and I'm pretty pleased with it on retrospect. But, as they say, onward and upward!
alanajoli: (fan)
Thanks for all the well wishes for safe journeys! We did have a wonderful time abroad, and of the novels I brought with me, I finished almost all of them. If you knew the reading load for the course itself, you would realize that this is either an astonishing feat of speed reading or a realization that I wasn't, in fact, getting graded. (I did read quite a bit of the course material--but when on an airplane, boat, the beach, it's hard to read about sacred geography and Greek religion while also enjoying the journey or the sunshine. Balance is key.)

And so, without further ado, I present world traveling novels.

Read more... )

And with that, our tour is complete. Some pictures remain, of course--there are bookstores in Greece, and in the airport in London, and I followed [livejournal.com profile] blue_succubus's example and took some photos. But given the number of photos already here, that will have to wait for another day.
alanajoli: (Nara)
First off, there are just a ton of great author interviews out there this week. Tiffany Trent is all over the blogosphere this week (she'll be here on Friday), and has the listing of her events here, along with information about a contest that none of you are allowed to enter, as I want the prize. So there. (Just kidding. Definitely go visit her blog and read the interviews.)

Ilona Andrews ([livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews) has an interview up on Nalini Singh's blogspot page. There, you will learn the secret of her duplicitous identity! (It is also readily available on her website, but I hadn't visited before today, so I didn't know!)

But now, for something completely different. Browncoat Jessica posted a fun meme over on her blog that I am going to completely change to suit my own purposes. (You are, of course, quite welcome to take my version and spread it around, or go use her original.)

If I were to invite ten fictional characters over to dinner, they would be*:

1) The unnamed bard from Jane Yolen's "Liavek" short stories, because rarely have I had the pleasure of hearing tales from such an endearing voice.
2) Schmendrick the Magician from The Last Unicorn, because I suspect he is as good a listener as he is a contributor, and I also would wager that he likes his food. (But he probably does not like *good* food as much as Vlad Taltos from Steven Brust's series, whom I would be afraid of offending by not offering appropriate courses.)
3) Ilona from the "Hallowmere" books (thus far by Tiffany Trent, though she'll be written by another writer shortly as well), because though I suspect she'd be a shy guest, anything she had to add to the conversation would be worth hearing.
4) Lissy James from Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, because I wouldn't want Ilona to be the only teen at the table, and I imagine that Lissy's power could do wonders for making sure all the guests got along.
5) Warbeak from Redwall by Brian Jacques, although I'd get her her own bird feeder or berries a little to one side, as the Sparra are not known for eating politely.
6 & 7) Shevraeth and Meliara from Crown Duel (and other titles) by Sherwood Smith. Though I doubt my ability to serve up a meal fit for royals, I'm so very fond of both of them that I hope they'd excuse my rather humble provisions.
8) Princess Cimmorene from Dealing with Dragons (and others) by Patricia C. Wrede, because as long as I'm inviting my favorite royalty, why stop?
9) Alanna of Tortall (from a variety of Tamora Pierce's novels), because she has always been first among lady knights in my mind, and because Ilona from "Hallowmere" would, I suspect, enjoy her company.
10) Shepherd Book from Firefly, because someone really ought to say the grace.

I would consider inviting Bilbo Baggins, but everyone knows how hard it is to keep hobbits well fed....

Others who didn't get invited to dinner this time around but are worth mentioning:

I would love to see Eowyn (Lord of the Rings), Cat Crawfield (Halfway to the Grave), and Kate Daniels (Magic Bites) spar.

--

*Disclaimer: If I were given this exercise tomorrow, it might change as I thought of other characters I'd love to have over to dinner. In fact, at 3 a.m., I'll probably wake up, feeling bad that I didn't "invite" someone. But in this moment, that list is absolutely accurate. ;)

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Alana Joli Abbott

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