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)
I've been saving up links to post here and just realized I'm getting overwhelmed, so I'd better post em here!

Big news: Tales of Rosuto Shima, the short story collection from the Steampunk Musha kickstarter, was just released in its first edition to the Kickstarter backers -- and it's also up on DriveThruRPG. My story, "The Gamelan Device," will be added to it soon, Update: is already included!, and excerpts from the comic Riddle in Red that we worked on in the setting are included. If you buy it now, you'll get a message when the newest version is uploaded in place of the current, original version. So, go forth and buy!



Other links of interest:
    • The Oglala Sioux and the federal government are teaming up to open the first tribal national park. Katie Gustafson wrote about it earlier this month for the World Wildlife Federation. I think it's a really cool initiative, and I'm excited to see it happening!

      Donald T. Williams, who I know from the Mythopoeic Society, blogged recently on that same topic that's been coming up in my life lately: how the stories we read/watch impact our own life story. His entry has a Christian bent, but includes quest narratives like Odysseus and Dante as recommendations.

      My new friend and writing buddy Elisabeth Adams had her story Subversion published on Escape Pod. Congrats Elisabeth!

      And this news is long-belated: Shanna Swendson ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s) has had the last three books in her Enchanted Inc. series picked up and published! The fifth book was published last August, but I just found out the good news today. Go Shanna! Yay for more Katie Chandler adventures!


  • And the final bit for today: I got a direct message on twitter from an aspiring author I conversed with about publishing back in 2010. He's soon to have a novella released on amazon, and he gave me credit for helping inspire him. I'm going to carry this feel-good moment with me for awhile!

    What's the good news do you have to share?
    alanajoli: (Default)
    One of the cool things I get to do sometimes for the various periodicals I write for is interviewing authors. Back when I was writing for Literature Community News, I had the opportunity to chat with Shanna Swendson, Rick Riordan, and Keith Baker. I'm looking at doing some interviews here at MtU&E in the not too distant future. And quite happily, Editor Matt at Flames Rising has pointed me in the right direction as far as matching me with some great folks to interview. Most recently, I chatted with Dave Gross about his new Pathfinder novel, Master of Devils, which comes out this month.

    I hadn't actually read a Pathfinder novel before interviewing Dave, but after chatting with him, I definitely want to -- especially his new release. Dave is a huge fan of kung fu movies, and he worked to integrate high fantasy, kung fu/wuxia storytelling, and roleplaying ties into one novel. I think it'll definitely be worth checking out!
    alanajoli: (Default)
    Most of what I've been reading in the past two months are books on the Mythopoeic Society Fantasy Awards longlists. We can't talk about the selections, and from the conversations via e-mail with the other judges, I think I may place more value on fun novels (or, novels that are both worthwhile and enjoyable, rather than worthwhile but wearing to read, or enjoyable but fluffy) than some of the rest of the committee. But, as Twostripe says, diversity in judges is important, and if I shift us slightly away from valuing style above many other qualities, I'm all right with that. I've remembered that I really enjoy reading what I think Shanna Swendson ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s) calls a transparent writing style -- writing that you don't notice for itself, because you're so into the story being told.

    At any rate, I've just turned in my votes for the final five in the children's category. I turned in my adult votes on Friday. I am very eager to see what comes out on the finalist list! I'll probably talk a bit about them here when the list is announced.

    In the meantime, I need to get some writing done. Twostripe has promised me an hour or three tomorrow to focus on writing while he watches Bug; this should allow me to get caught up with Blood and Tumult and possibly get some work done on the autobio project, making the final corrections before I start the typesetting process. But outside of that time, we're planning to spend most of the day at the beach! We had a cookout with the Mythic Greece gamers, [livejournal.com profile] niliphim, and the [livejournal.com profile] bananapants/[livejournal.com profile] bananaplants family. Gaming and a cookout at the beach? Can't be beat!
    alanajoli: (Default)
    Some of you may have caught the two columns I wrote for Flames Rising (with the intention of writing several more) about the differences in the types of paranormal romances and urban fantasies that make up the scale of books inside the boundaries of the genre (or expanding them). After a conversation with my library boss, I decided to start putting together a big ol' list and synopsis of sub groupings for her, since it's what I read, and I recommend a lot of titles to our patrons. Just because someone digs vampires in Sookie and Anita Blake doesn't necessarily mean it's the vampires they're after -- in fact, the last person I was giving recommendations to started out from those two series and ended with, "Actually I'd like to have something a little more light hearted and funny," and so I sent her in the direction of [livejournal.com profile] shanna_s's Enchanted Inc. So in my list, I'm trying to suss out the qualities that might attract someone to a novel -- maybe they are vampire crazy, but maybe they're looking for something snarky with a Sex and the City vibe (in which case they need Happy Hour of the Damned by [livejournal.com profile] mdhenry). Maybe what they loved about Jim Butcher's Dresden Files was actually the private investigator angle, in which case you could go with [livejournal.com profile] devonmonk's Allie Beckstrom books, the Connor Grey series by Marc del Franco, of [livejournal.com profile] blackaire's Nocturne City series. (There are actually scads of PIs in urban fantasy -- I've just named a few.) Do they want an urban fantasy series with a con artist? Try the WVMP novels by Jeri Smith-Ready. And from there, if they love the radio angle, try Carrie Vaughn's Kitty the Werewolf books or [livejournal.com profile] stacia_kane's Megan Chase series. Maybe they totally dug the government agency aspect of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. in the comics, in which case, they should be reading [livejournal.com profile] antonstrout's Simon Canderous series. I could keep on this thread for some time -- the point is, while some people are vampire nuts, a lot of UF and Paranormal Romance readers might get a kick out of different aspects of the novels than just vampires vs. werewolves -- which is sort of a non-UF reader way to boil it down.

    So, I thought it was hilarious today when Jackie Kessler posted a parody song about urban fantasy (using the tune for "Popular" from the musical Wicked). Did I make sure to include everyone on that list in my list? Who of those famed urban fantasists have I yet to read?

    (Of course, I disagree with his looking down on Paranormal Romance, but that could be a whole other entry.)
    alanajoli: (tuam face - celtic mythology)
    Back in October, I contributed to Flames Rising's Halloween Horror Creatures series--and since I missed blogging for that whole month, I never mentioned that it had gotten posted! I did a piece on hounds of the Morrigan, using bits and pieces of real Celtic lore mixed with what I thought would be a fun monster, which is accompanied by a cool image from artist Jeff Preston.

    Via Barbara Vey's Beyond Her Blog, the Carolina Romance Writers are hosting an online writing workshop using Firefly as the course material. It runs from January 5 through 30, and the cost runs $20. (I don't know what online writing workshops usually charge, but that sounds pretty reasonable to me.) If I thought I could actually commit to the online course structure, I'd definitely be there.

    This one's interesting for web comic writers and artists--uclick is not only putting comics into format for iPhones, they are considering creating original content. Cell phones have already had an impact on the comics industry in Japan--whether the industry here will see a positive or negative spin if this catches on, we'll just have to see. And hey, this could be the next Zuda...

    In other news, my new first reader (joining prior solo first reader Arielle), [livejournal.com profile] violet_whisper, did an awesome job going over "Rodeo in Area 51" with me. It clocked in at just about 7500 words after an edit I did with her notes. The most exciting part about it, though, was that she really got what I was trying to do. Since I knew from the beginning what the story was about and how it would end, I wasn't sure if all the ideas would come through--they were so clear to me, would another reader pick up on what I was doing? So talking to her about the piece and hearing her thoughts on what the story was all about was a great experience, because it meant that it worked as a whole.

    I also just finished reading [livejournal.com profile] mindyklasky's Girl's Guide to Witchcraft. I'd already read Sorcery and the Single Girl, the second book in the series, without realizing I'd started in the middle. Having now read the first two, they actually work pretty well as stand alone novels; some series you have to pick up and read in order or you'll be lost. Klasky's seem to be enhanced by reading the other volumes, but also independent enough that they're still enjoyable out of order. They're both a lot of fun--I'd recommend them to folks have read and enjoyed [livejournal.com profile] shanna_s's "Katie Chandler" series. Both series are good, light-hearted contemporary fantasy without the grit of most urban fantasy or the described-in-detail romance scenes of paranormal romances. And they're fun.
    alanajoli: (Default)
    There were links aplenty today: [livejournal.com profile] frost_light had an excellent post on writers and money, [livejournal.com profile] shanna_s told her readers how to help convince her publishers they should publish her fifth book in her series, and [livejournal.com profile] livelongnmarry has been a flurry of posts as the beginning of an auction for which the proceeds will go to supporting the continued legality of same-sex marriage in California. But other than mentioning them in passing (as [livejournal.com profile] tezmilleroz advised against in her tips on blogging), I don't have much in the way of commentary.

    So instead, I'll offer another sneak peak into "Don't Let Go," which is going to be in an anthology available at GenCon. (Go find [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf/Dylan Birtolo if you're headed off to that convention. The anthology is going to feature some pretty neat stories!)

    Read more... )
    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: (Default)
    Back in 2005, I had the opportunity to go out to Los Angeles to see the premiere of Serenity in the land of glamor and fabulousness. Being neither particularly glamorous or fabulous, the event was in some ways overwhelming. But the best part about going was getting to hang out with the friends I already knew (first reader Arielle was the one who got me a ticket), friends I'd only met before at conventions (the whole Margaret Weis Productions team was there, and the lovely Renae Chambers was showing off her back-of-the-neck Serenity logo tattoo, which impressed upon me how much those folks were devoted to the cause), and friends I was meeting for the first time. Arielle's friend, [livejournal.com profile] waywardbound, introduced me to a pal of his who had recently released her first book. That was the first time I met Shanna Swendson ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s)--and without that meeting I don't know if I ever would have discovered her wonderful books. So, officially--thanks [livejournal.com profile] waywardbound!

    Shanna is now on the fourth book of her Katie Chandler series, and the adventures just keep getting better. Don't Hex with Texas is already getting great reviews all over the web, and the sales are reflecting the true appeal that comes from mixing fairy tales with modern life. Shanna was kind enough to write a guest blog on how she uses elements from fairy tales to hit home with modern readers. Thanks Shanna!

    --

    I've often thought that fairy tale characters have it easy. Okay, so they do often end up persecuted by wicked stepparents or endangered by giants, but they also have opportunities the rest of us don't get. We don't have fairy godmothers to show up and make things better, and kissing frogs never really turns them into handsome princes. I have often wondered what would happen if you took some of those fairy tale conventions and put them into the modern world, and I get to play with that concept in my series of modern-day fairy tale novels.

    For instance, that frog-kissing thing. I don't know how many times I've heard that saying about how you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. I do know that it's what people always seem to say to me to console me after a bad date or relationship break-up or to encourage me to accept a blind date I'm lukewarm about. But what if it really were true that you might meet a prince if you were willing to kiss a few frogs along the way? In a New York where magic works, you might find magical people picking up real frogs in the park instead of picking up figurative frogs in singles bars. At least if a real frog doesn't turn out to be a prince, you don't have to worry about him getting the wrong idea and turning into a stalker. It is interesting to note that in the original frog prince/king fairy tales, the princess doesn't just kiss the frog and get a prince. Usually she has to go through some humiliation first, like letting him eat from her plate in public, allowing him to sleep on her pillow and sometimes even marrying the frog before he clues her in to the fact that he's a prince. That certainly parallels modern dating. Then there's the version where the princess throws the frog against the wall before she learns he's a prince. I'm not sure what message there is in that, but I'll admit that I've been on dates where that sounded like a good way of dealing with the situation.

    I don't know how many times I've uttered the lament, "What I really need is a fairy godmother!" Dating would be so much easier if I had someone to help me get into the right situation to meet Prince Charming. Then again, when I think of the various would-be fairy godmothers in my life and all the really, really awful blind dates I've been on -- the ones where, when I meet the men who are supposedly perfect for me, I can't help but wonder what my friends really think about me -- it's probably best that none of them have magical powers. It's bad enough when they have telephones and e-mail that allow them to meddle. So, I inflicted a magical fairy godmother on my heroine to see what would happen if one of those inept but well-meaning matchmakers did have magical powers to interfere in her love life.

    Fairy tales and folklore have a lot of other topics that are fun to play with in the modern world. Cinderella knew long before Manolo Blahnik that the right pair of shoes really can change your life. Ogres and trolls are bad enough when they just impede your progress through the enchanted forest or stop you at a bridge, but what if one is your boss? Does spending time as an enchanted frog result in post-traumatic stress? Is that bum begging for coins really a powerful enchanter in disguise who might one day turn up to help you in your hour of need? And isn't a skyscraper just another kind of beanstalk?
    alanajoli: (Default)
    Nearly all of my B&N preorders have shipped and should be arriving on my porch in the next few days. So I'd like to take this moment to wish a happy Book Birthday (in some cases, belated from earlier this week) to:

    Welcome to the world, books!

    --

    Quick notes on why I've gone missing lately (and a further demonstration that I am actually learning html coding--the more that I use it, I figure the less I'll have to look it up every time I want to bullet a list). Since last Friday I:

    • Read the first chapter of The Lightning Thief aloud at a storyreading night.

    • Ran three Xen'drik Expeditions D&D games.

    • Committed my very first TPK as a DM.

    • Finished going over the edits for the d20 Steampunk Musha Player's Guide.

    • Signed a copy of Into the Reach for a facebook friend who managed to find one used and mailed it to me.

    • Wrote a review for Flames Rising.

    • Wrote a biographical essay about Marc Aronson (which was incredibly fun--he's a great representative for nonfiction for younger readers, and when John Scieszka's term as National Ambassador for Children's Literature ends, Aronson should be a serious candidate).

    • Read Nalini Singh's award winning paranormal romance Caressed by Ice, which I ended up very much enjoying, despite its having two themes that normally make me put a book down (a serial killer/stalker as a major threat and one of the characters having been raped--the former which really doesn't ever sit well with me, but worked out, and the latter of which Singh handled in such a way that the healing process was compelling rather than distressing).

    • Watched The Sting with my husband.


    Huh, it felt like so much more before I wrote the list. At any rate, it's been very busy around here, and I'm trying to catch up on my blog reading while not falling behind on my schedule of assignments. We'll see how that goes.
    alanajoli: (Default)
    I've started a new job at the same library where I've been working part time, and while I'm enjoying it very much, it's more hours per week than I'd been working. Beyond that, a wedding, and a convention all in the past week, it's been rather busy, so I'm afraid I've been a bit behind. But here I am, ready to come back to the blogosphere!

    On the recommendation of [livejournal.com profile] shanna_s, I've been reading The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines. Shanna has been doing several blog entries on the nature of using archetypes in fiction that have been really insightful, so I've been looking forward to reading the book. But the thing that Shanna talks about most--how what motivates a character really defines what type of archetype the character falls into--is only barely glossed over in this text. So while the names and categories are useful, particularly in reading Shanna's entries, the book itself is far less insightful than Shanna's entries.

    The other thing that's been striking me as I read is the division between male and female archetypes--something that, as I'm reading, I severely question. Read more... )

    I'm hoping Shanna will pop by and bounce off of my ideas, as I've been really impressed with what she's doing--and I'm very interested to know if I'm totally off the mark with the idea of being CHOSEN. I'm also curious about the Jungian archetypes and how much they overlap--as well as how much gender enters into the equation. You may be seeing more of these posts in the future.
    alanajoli: (Default)
    On the trip home, I finally finished Depths of Madness by Erik Scott de Bie ([livejournal.com profile] eriksdb). This novel was far less linear than his previous book, Ghostwalker, and had a lot more character development--in sort of an odd way. Only one of the main characters who shares the story from his/her POV continues to be a main character right through the very end. The whole story, being about madness, keeps reality spinning from the very beginning. Is any of it really happening? If it is, who's the spy among the group? Even as the story ended, I wasn't sure if the villain would twist into a different identity, leaving one of our heroes innocent after all. The novel is extremely creepy, darker than a lot of the sword and sorcery novels in the Forgotten Realms line, and sets up the potential for more stories with the main character--an incredibly bitchy, independent anti-hero who is utterly likable despite her flaws (perhaps because of them).

    I've mentioned here a couple of times that I've been reading this novel, and to tell the truth, it took me awhile to get into the story--not due to any real fault of de Bie's, but because there were so many references to Forgotten Realms gods, places, and words that I had no connection to (I'm not a big Realms reader, as I decided ages ago that there was no hope of my ever catching up; I've enjoyed Douglas Niles, a chunk of R. A. Salvatore, and a little Ed Greenwood, but they're the only ones besides de Bie that I read). Realms fans will have no trouble keeping up, but I struggled with figuring out why some things that were said were cause for contention inside the group.

    Overall, if you enjoy fantasy with a healthy does of creepy, a non-linear plot, mixed with a little bit of mystery as you second guess what's going along right along with the characters, definitely pick up Depths of Madness. Particularly if you're already a Forgotten Realms reader.

    --

    Upon arriving home, I finished Senrid, which I started before I left but didn't pack, as I didn't have room for another hard cover. When I started the novel, I was worried that I wasn't going to like it--an emotion I hated because I've always enjoyed Sherwood Smith's ([livejournal.com profile] sartorias) writing so much! As stated on the back of the novel, Senrid was written when Smith was only fifteen, so it lacks the polish of her later works (despite its being published more recently). Unlike Crown Duel and Inda (and even in her online novel Shevraeth at Marloven Hess), magic is far more powerful and accessible in Senrid. Several of the main characters come from other worlds--a detail that no one seems to think is unusual. Of the other worldly characters, several are actually from Earth, instantly putting the novel in the category of "earth kids have adventures in fantasy worlds," something I hadn't been prepared for when I picked up the book. But as my brain adjusted to the ideas, the way the world worked during this time, and the idea that this story in fact happened in the middle of several other tales, I was able to suspend my disbelief in a way that hadn't been required of me by Smith's other books.

    After I left, having read half of the book, I kept thinking about it. What was Senrid doing while I was away? Would we meet Sartora in this book? Was Kitty the simpering little girl she seemed to be, or would she actually develop a spine? The more I returned to the story in my head, the more I was desperate to read the novel when I got home. When I arrived home, I eagerly snatched it up and read the rest of the story, watching Senrid's conversion from outright villain to anti-hero to something approaching an actual, kingly hero.

    The quote on the back of the book, explaining that Senrid is a peek into Smith's imagination as a teen, is spot on. Taking it in that frame of mind and accepting that yes, there are Earth teens involved, the novel is absolutely wonderful. I would recommend it to the "Redwall" crowd, anyone who enjoyed Smith's "Wren" books, and readers who have grown out of the Narnia books but don't yet read more sophisticated books like Smith's Crown Duel or any of Tamora Pierce's series. I'd also recommend it to anyone who has read the other works set in the world, with the warning that despite its label as YA, it's more of a novel for children than young adults. Had I known all of that, I would never have had to worry about not liking it--I'd have loved it from the first page.

    Now, of course, I'm desperate for more. When was Senrid a captive of the Norsundarians? When did he meet Sartora? There are gaps in my understanding of the world, so I hope that Senrid does well enough that we'll see the other texts from Smith's teen writing years to fill out the holes.

    --

    I watched two movies on the flight home: Eragon, which I'd missed in theaters, and Music and Lyrics, which I don't really have anyone to watch with me, as my chick-flick buddies live in California and Boston. There's really only one way for me to describe Eragon: OAV. As explained to me, and OAV is an anime that is designed just so that fans of a manga can see their favorite characters animated. It's fine to leave huge gaps in the plot, because everyone already knows what's going to happen, and it's just the novelty of their favorite characters moving that keeps people watching.

    Eragon the movie stripped the Eragon story of everything that made it interesting to me as a reader. This is not in any way the fault of the actors, who I thought were quite good. Jeremy Irons was great, and the new actor playing Eragon did a nice job with the script he was handed. The script, however--ugh. Part of what makes Eragon (the book) interesting is that Paolini plays with the idea of consciousness and makes Saphira, the dragon, feel qualitatively different than her human companions, just by the way she thinks and talks. The other part that I remember being extremely appealing to me is that Eragon questions whether he's doing the right thing by going to the Varden. Only a very little bit of that moral quandary comes across--it's mostly swept by in the effort to show more special effects. Angela, one of the most intriguing characters in the novel, is completely ruined.

    General assessment? If you can see it for free and have three hours of your life that you don't have to spend on anything else, sure, go ahead and watch it. It worked for me, and it was at least diverting if not enjoyable.

    Lyrics and Music, on the other hand, had me in stitches. I think it's one of the best romantic comedies I've ever seen. Drew Barrymore, who I usually don't much care for, is stellar in her performance of a completely nutty writer. The commentary on the music industry (both in the eighties and now) is hysterical, as is the use of things like VH1's Pop up Video. It's a movie I think Shanna Swendson ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s) would approve of, and as she's had some rather harsh criticism of the romantic comedy industry as of late, I think that's probably a good sign.
    alanajoli: (Default)
    I just thought I'd share the remaining to-do list (and hint at the secret project I've been talking about--I should have a contract soon, so I can make it official!):

    1) Finish a reference assignment
    2) Decide whether I have time to do another super-quick reference assignment, and then either say I can't take it, or get it done.
    3) Edit a Living Kalamar module, as soon as I get the final draft.
    4) Write a blog entry I promised [livejournal.com profile] shanna_s I'd write.
    5) Write two press releases for Baeg Tobar/Empty Room Studios.
    6) Write five pages (ten entries) of script for a web comic. (Oooh, there are whiskers on this cat I've got in the bag...)

    This neglects to mention the reading that I need to do for the trip, but I'm hoping that my research arrives on time! [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants was kind enough to order a library book for me from the system he can access and I can't, so hopefully that will help as well. (He went to find it and it wasn't on the shelf. It's a library mystery!)

    In other news, I got my copies of Allies and Adversaries today! The artwork, as usual, is superb, and it features the nifty descriptions of the Into the Reach characters that I originally worked up for the White Silver website, as well as nine other characters I wrote up, including Johnny Twostep. He plays a bigger part in Regaining Home, and I've heightened the mysery of his background. But just as Shepherd Book never revealed his past, Johnny's not likely to, either.

    Other contributors include Trevis Powell, who wrote the novel No Hero for White Silver; Lydia Laurenson, author of Scroll of the Monk and other White Wolf projects; up and coming game designer Andrew Schneider, who is working on some Empty Room Studios projects; and several of the contributors to the original Chronicles of Ramlar rulebook. From what I've skimmed, the writing is quite good, and the character profiles are fairly extensive. It's a neat little book (and by "little," I mean 226 pages).
    alanajoli: (Default)
    Today I got 27 hipster points from a teenage writer I know for quoting "Questionable Content" in my status message on my online messenger. (He had previously awarded me some hipster points for having a facebook profile.)

    I lost 5 hipster points because I just started reading it the other day. But hey, I'm still up 22 points for the day, so I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I have a feeling I'm too big a geek to be an actual hipster, but if I can pull off the "stealth geek" profile (coined by Shanna Swendson/[livejournal.com profile] shanna_s, whose Damsel under Stress I hope to write about before Monday), I'm happy with that.

    (Quick thanks to [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants, as he gets credit for these hipster points. [livejournal.com profile] plura gets credit for the previous ones. I'm apparently not hip unless introduced by exterior sources.)
    alanajoli: (Default)
    I got an e-mail from someone in a completely different part of my life that referenced my blog. This is really the first time that's happened--when someone who I know who I didn't know was reading my blog actually talked to me about it. It was pretty startling (and also embarrassing--he smacked me down oh but good based on the recent posts about my overtendency to express via the eyes). I hear by give a point to Christian. Well done sir.

    For you other bloggers out there--has that happened to you? If so, how did you react?

    --

    I just got asked for staff picks at the part time job, so I thought I'd share them here, with the addition that I'm linking to the author's live journals:

    Inda. The first of the new fantasy series by Sherwood Smith ([livejournal.com profile] sartorias)is a coming of age story for not only the hero, Inda, but for a number of the young men and women who surround him. Smith uses an omniscient narration that shifts from one perspective smoothly into the next, providing multiple viewpoints on every occurrence. This makes the novel a challenging, but extremely worthwhile, read. Fans of fantasy shouldn't miss it!

    Damsel under Stress. It's here! The newest of Shanna Swendson's ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s) series about Katie Chandler, who is immune to magic and working for the largest magic development company in the world, housed right in New York City, has arrived! When we left off, Katie had finally admitted her crush to the man of her dreams and found it returned--which means, of course, that in Damsel under Stress, there are rocks ahead: the villains are threatening to reveal magic to the world. What's a girl to do?
    alanajoli: (Default)
    Okay, not for me. I'm still writing book three. But here are the books that come out today that I desperately need:

    Damsel under Stress, by Shanna Swendson ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s)
    Senrid, by Sherwood Smith ([livejournal.com profile] sartorias)
    Titan's Curse, by Rick Riordan

    [livejournal.com profile] jenlyn_b has a list up today of other fabulous authors whose books are releasing.

    Happy May Day!
    alanajoli: (Default)
    The Locus finalists have been posted. Why is it the list of books I need to read keeps growing--far faster than I'm writing my own novel?

    Speaking of, Sherwood Smith has a new book coming out sooner than I expected. I'm reading Inda right now, which is a challenging read due to the narration style, but I'm really enjoying it. The new one, Senrid, is due out next month, if I read amazon correctly. This is also when Shanna Swendson's new novel, Damsel under Stress, is going to be out.

    It's a good thing I just got a Barnes and Noble gift card.

    --

    I had my first nightmare about the Greece and Turkey trip last night. I dreamed that I woke up on the Monday we were supposed to be leaving and hadn't packed yet! I also had several press releases I was supposed to post before leaving. As it turned out, we were going to be flying out of Miami, and all the students were to take a train from New York to DC, then on to Florida. I don't know if a train even runs that whole stretch, but it can't be a fast journey. Then the only luggage I could find was reminiscent of those huge liquid containers that McDonald's used to use to bring out the "orange drink" to kids birthday parties.

    This was not a pleasant way to sleep.

    --

    My updated word count looks like I haven't made much progress because I think the story is going to require an additional 10,000 words. I'm hoping I can accomplish it in less, because I'm really ready for the first draft to be finished and out the door.

    I've come to the point where I say to the novel, "It's not that I don't love you anymore, it's just that you're driving me crazy."

    Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
    86,245 / 100,000
    (86.2%)
    alanajoli: (Default)
    [livejournal.com profile] shanna_s recently posted about a new contest over on her blog--something she's calling a blog campaign. Here are the basics:

    --

    If you want to participate and want to interview me, have me write a guest blog, interview a character, have a character do a guest blog, or otherwise come up with an entry that requires my input, please e-mail your requests to me at shanna@shannaswendson.com. Put something specific in your subject line so I can recognize it right away. My spam filter sometimes goes hypervigilant, and when I skim through the spam folder I look for subject lines that look real. If I don't recognize your name and the subject is blank or something generic like "hello," the message may get deleted. I will work on these throughout the next couple of months and send them all back just before it's time to start posting. Deadline to send me questions or other requests is April 23, but I will be dealing with these in the order I receive them, so if you wait until the last minute and I get crazy, there's always a chance that I'll spend less time and effort on yours. If there's a question I don't want to answer or don't feel comfortable dealing with, I'll let you know and give you a chance to come up with something else.

    Remember that you don't have to use me. To be eligible for prizes, you just have to mention the book name and my name (and it would be nice to mention the first two books, for new readers to find). These should all be posted the week of April 30-May 7. Our goal is to get enough awareness and sell enough books that first couple of weeks that my publisher gets excited (going into a second printing really fast would be cool, too).

    --

    This seems like brilliant viral marketing to me, and I'm eager to see how it works.

    --

    As a note, I am officially caught up with livejournal. I may now go about my day.
    alanajoli: (Default)
    I have several friends who enjoy writing, several friends who have self-published, and fewer friends who have been published through the traditional publishing system. In most cases, I met these folks before I read their fiction, which is always a little nerve wracking to me. If I like a person, I very much want to like their books. The anxiety begins as soon as I pick up a copy in the bookstore or the library. What if I don't like it? What will I say? Do I have to break all ties? Shanna Swendson was the first author who really made me confront my fear issues, because she impressed me so much when we met that I desperately wanted to be able to be part of her viral marketing team. :) Luckily for me, she's a great writer with books that are easy to recommend, so after about the first chapter of Enchanted, Inc., my fears were dispelled.

    Lately, I've been meeting people who I know are writers through my space, live journal, and etc., which gives me an idea of whether or not I'm going to like their writing style before I actually read their books. I recently read Jennifer Lynn Barnes ([livejournal.com profile] jenlyn_b)'s Golden, and had the very odd experience of noticing how much one of her characters wrote like she blogs. In one scene, the protagonist goes into a rant about Central Standard Time for television shows. Whether or not Ms. Barnes feels the same way, I don't know, but it was very much the same style of rant that I love when she writes them in her blog (most usually about celebrity bangs and the tragedy thereof).

    The book was excellent, and I've already told the librarian in the youth services department at my library that we really should own a copy, because I'm going to start recommending it to our patrons. From what Barnes has posted about the reviews of her newest book (Tattoo) on her own livejournal, it sounds like the critics think she's grown since her first novel, so I'm expecting Tattoo to be even better. If I actually make it out to the local Barnes and Noble, as is vaguley my plan for the day (as I want to find out if they have Into the Reach in their system yet and meet the new Community Relations Manager), I'll be picking up a copy to see for myself.

    --

    Quick news: I got my comp copies for Departure. Hurray! They look very pretty, and I'm looking forward to seeing them displayed on bookstore shelves!
    alanajoli: (Default)
    I mentioned awhile ago that Shanna Swendson ([livejournal.com profile] shanna_s) is hosting an alternate "get a lot of writing done" project, because NaNoWriMo is scheduled in the difficult month of November. Now, all of us who didn't do NaNoWriMo this year as we were preparing for holidays have a chance to do something a little different with our New Year's resolutions.

    If you decide to participate, let me know! I'm going to work on Book 3 (Regaining Home) so I can get my motivation back up after the holidays have worn me down.

    The rest is swiped from Swendson's blog.

    Or, if you want an advance copy [of Damsel under Stress], you could participate in the Non-Conformists Writing Month in January! Here's how it works: On or around January 1, you can post your goal in the comments or e-mail me at shanna@shannaswendson.com (please put "Writing Goal" in the subject line so I can sort it). Because we're non-conformists, you can set your own goal, but it should be something that's approximately equivalent to writing a 50,000-word novel. You can complete a book you've started, do a major rewrite on a book, write a book from scratch, write something longer than that, write a screenplay, or write something somewhat shorter if it's a project that requires intense research or documentation. Those who reach their goals by February 1 will be entered into a drawing for prizes, including some advance copies of Damsel Under Stress (these are bound galleys, so aren't exactly the final book and don't have the real cover, so you may still want to get the final one when it comes out). There will be other book prizes provided by Ballantine Books, as well. I don't know how many we'll end up giving out. I guess it depends on what they have handy.

    You will need to post your progress at the end of the month to be eligible for the prize drawing. Posting updates along the way is optional. It may help to have accountability and support, or you may just want to plug away in private. I'll post some of my hints and tips about writing throughout the month. I think my project for the month will be revisions on book 4, although I'd wanted to take a stab at writing book 5 (maybe I'll start it, depending on how extensive these revisions turn out to be). Spread the word to any writer or aspiring writer friends you know who may be interested. They don't even need to read my books to play. We can all be insane together!

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    Alana Joli Abbott

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