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,
"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

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

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)
I've been very lucky to get put on the press list for Jim Hines's Magic Ex Libris series, and it's been great that Black Gate has run the reviews. Last August, I reviewed Libriomancer, and a couple of weeks ago I submitted a review for the newest book in the set, Codex Born. Here's the beginning -- and you can click through the link to read to the end over at Black Gate.


There aren’t many writers who can start with the concept of a literal fantasy woman, pulled from the pages of her book to fulfill her lover’s dreams, and turn her from a slave into a complex hero, struggling to understand her own identity and to create herself as a real person. Jim Hines is one of them.

Codex Born, the sequel to Libriomancer, is narrated by fantasy book lover and magician Isaac Vaino, but in many ways the book belongs to Lena Greenwood, a dryad drawn from a pulp SF novel and Isaac’s girlfriend. Libriomancer concluded with Isaac and Lena and Lena’s girlfriend (Isaac’s former therapist) Nidhi Shah agreeing that they’d embark on a shared relationship — both Isaac and Nidhi would be Lena’s lovers, which would allow Lena, product of her book, and thus destined to conform to her lovers’ desires, a chance to become her own person by existing in the conflicting space between Isaac and Nidhi. In Codex Born, that relationship starts to play out — both Nidhi and Isaac struggle with the dynamic, but keep on trying for Lena’s sake — and Lena continues to hope that she can find a way to preserve who she is, even if something happened to Isaac or Nidhi.

Read the rest of the review.
alanajoli: (mini me)
I (and the art-reward backers) have gotten two images of Lindsay Archer's progress on the novel cover, and I'm getting very excited about where she's headed. It's going to be a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy!

But speaking of the trilogy, I now have in hand the re-edits from Shawn Merwin for book 1. Within the next month, I will be able to take those edits and turn the newly revised manuscript into an e-book. I told Shawn that the red showing on the first two pages was a little intimidating, but he promised me it cleans up after that.

In the meantime, I've been keeping busy on the autobio project, writing obituaries, and working on my next Choice of Games project, a Western with a little bit of mystery to it. The autobios this batch are tremendously exciting. I've gotten to work with Jim Hines on an original essay that had the same balance of laugh-out-loud and heart-wrenching I've come to expect from his novels. Joseph Bruchac did a fantastic update about his years in Africa, Pat Cummings provided amazing graphics from her illustration process for her update, and Eloise Greenfield wrote about, among other things in her update, filming her "Grandma Rap." I always enjoy working on the autobio project, but this batch has been especially fun, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final results once they hit the online databases.


Between review books, I'm also reading the finalists for the Mythopoeic Society's Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards. I've really enjoyed being on the jury for both the children's and adult lists over the past few years, and there are a bunch of really good ones up this year.

Reading anything good lately?
alanajoli: (Default)
It's been busy here at Casa Abbott as a long-term project management project I've been working on is quickly coming to its conclusion. Hopefully that will mean more regular posting from me in the future, and certainly more interesting things to talk about!

Not long ago, friends and I were talking about the Bechdel Test (named after fellow Simon's Rock alumna Alison Bechdel, who just won a Guggehneim Fellowship this week) and movies that we love. If you've not encountered it before, it involves a movie in which:
  • 1) there are at least two named female characters, who

  • 2) talk to each other about

  • 3) something other than a man.

We had discussed that passing the Bechdel Test marked a work as feminist, but I think that's not entirely true to the original purpose (which was actually a joke in Bechdel's web comic). Movies that pass the test aren't feminist. They just have women who are characters that are essential to the plot, rather than being accessories to the male heroes.

This came up in my online reading today via's latest explosive post (following the post about Mordicai Knode's diversity in D&D art), "Hey, Everyone--Stop Taking This Picture!" by Emily Asher-Perrin. Thanks to [ profile] jimhines and Rose Fox at Genreville, I've already seen this pose covered a number of times in the book jacket community. Hearing a female in the comments confirm what Jim said after his experiment posing as urban fantasy heroines -- notably that he needed a chiropractic visit afterwards -- removes the last vestiges of "but" comments that I made over at Jim's blog. (I'd mostly been won over to that argument thanks to [ profile] genrereviews post on the same.) That's an uncomfortable pose from which you could not spring into action, unless you were a superhero.

From the comments I discovered these posts from the Hathor Legacy about how screenwriting effectively teaches screenwriters to not pass the Bechdel test. These posts are a little old -- 2008 and 2010 -- but they're kind of astonishing. It's not a conspiracy, folks, it's policy -- and I can only hope it's changed since the writer behind the Hathor Legacy went to film school.

In other news, my first book review for Black Gate, for which I reviewed How to Train Your Dragon, is up on the site. I did a few for them, and am hoping one will land in the print magazine. We'll see!
alanajoli: (Default)
Just a couple of links today. PW blogger Peter Brantley wrote up what I think is an excellent entry about the problem with leaving libraries out of the e-book revolution. Brantley's assessment is that by making e-books unavailable through libraries, a whole class of Americans is denied access to those resources. If the market does shift so that more and more books are published exclusively in electronic format, I agree that this is going to become the problem that Brantley anticipates. In the mean time, thank goodness for paper books, Interlibrary Loan, and the host of other resources available at the public library.

(The rotunda at James Blackstone Memorial Library, my local source for research and reading.)

Who's getting e-books right? According to Kent Anderson, Amazon is getting everything about publishing right, and everyone else in the book world needs to seriously up their game. This is, at least in part, true: writer friend of mine Audrey Auden dumped all the other e-book retailers for her self-published Realms Unreel because Amazon's customer service and platform were by far more beneficial to her in convenience and sales. On the other hand, Jim Hines recently discussed how Amazon can change your prices without your permission, as recently happened with his Goblin Tales. I maintain my wariness around Amazon, despite finally jumping on board with Amazon Prime (as it keeps us comfortably in diapers here at Casa Abbott).
alanajoli: (Default)
I don't watch a lot of TV. We don't actually have television service, and I watch my current TV shows from my computer screen. We do have a Roku for our Netflix service and find it incredibly useful, and we've rented movies from Amazon that way as well. Recently, I gave HuluPlus a look, but since it carries only one of the three television shows I'm currently committed to (yes, TV is a relationship: I have an ongoing friendship with Castle and Leverage, and sadly a limited remaining time of my dedication to Eureka), we won't be continuing to use that service. While I have it, though, I thought I'd try out two new television programs on the big screen to see if they'll be worth following on the computer later on. I speak, of course, of Grimm and Once Upon a Time, two fairy tale spin offs of very different flavors. The fairy tale hook clearly appealed to me, but whether or not I'll be staying to see how they go depends very much on the shows themselves.

Of course, I'm not the only one to pay attention to their very close release schedules. Teresa Jusino over at posted her response to the pair, which I intentionally didn't read before writing this. (However, most everything over at is worth reading, so I'll blindly recommend going and comparing her notes to mine.)

Here's my assessment: Grimm is actually an urban fantasy in the UF Noir style (ala the Dresden Files and others) that uses fairy tale elements for its paranormal component. As it's made by some of the writers who were on the teams of Angel and Buffy, the similarities don't entirely surprise me: in some ways, the series strikes me as Buffy if the core audience being targeted were mid-career adults rather than teens and twenties. It's also a cop show, and I suspect it may end up feeling like a cop show with paranormal elements rather than a fantasy with cop show elements. I think that may work in its favor.

Once Upon a Time, on the other hand, is a fairy tale writ long. In the tradition of fairy tale retellings like Bill Willingham's Fables comics, Sondheim's Broadway musical Into the Woods, and (most recently) [ profile] jimhines's Princess Quartet, Once Upon a Time takes the familiar stories and twists them, just a bit, recasting real fairy tale characters as unknowing modern-day humans, for whom time has stopped. The only one to know about the Curse that has brought them out of their fairy tale reality and into the real world is Henry, a little boy, who is the biological son of the destined hero (the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming), and the adoptive son of the Evil Queen. The hero herself, Emma Swan, is a tough girl loner who doesn't really believe in Henry's story, but finds herself drawn to the child. The cuts between the fairy tale backstory and the modern break-the-curse plot honor the romantic atmosphere of fairy tales -- and, thus far, aside from some off-stage cutting out of hearts, are doing it in a pretty tame way. Sure there's swordfighting and sorcerous battles, but it's not the sort of gritty and dark flavor that Fables and Into the Woods brought us. The fairy tale versions of the characters don't have anywhere near the depth they do in Jim Hines's books.

But that may be part of the point: while Grimm is, from the get go, down in the brutal side of those beloved and scary German folk tales, Once Upon a Time is Disneyfied, right through the use of the name Melificent for the wicked fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty. Because the team of Once Upon a Time, was also part of the team on Lost, there is some worry that the fairy tale elements may end up being a lie after all -- but from some quick research on what the creators wanted to bring to the show, it doesn't sound like that's their intention. But while I think Grimm starts by knowing what it is, as a show, right from the very beginning (and, by virtue of the Monster/Villain-of-the-Week potential, could go on for seasons), Once Upon a Time launches its major plot in episode one, and that full plot arc needs to be resolved in the first season to feel like the story is going anywhere. The quest structure could work in its favor if they can raise the stakes for Season 2 -- or it could mean that the show has a one season maximum until we all get back to happily ever after.

It may sound like I'm being hard on Once Upon a Time here; I am being pretty critical, because it's a subgenre I'm invested in. But I'll definitely say that after watching two episodes (I've only seen the pilot of Grimm), I'm drawn in enough to keep watching, at least until the end of the season -- or however long it survives this season! I have a feeling that in the current TV climate, Grimm with its gritty appeal and its ambiguous morality will find its audience with no trouble at all -- and unless things get too scary for my fluffy-bunny-horror self, I'll be sticking with it.
alanajoli: (Default)
I like obituaries. This is not out of any sense of the morbid (although people have accused me of that). What I think is neat is how a person's life can be summed up in two hundred, eight hundred, or two thousand words, and you get this snap shot image of who they were. I used to clip the obituaries from the old copies of the Branford Review as part of a library archive project when I worked at the Blackstone, and I learned some interesting things about Branford's history in the process. I'd not known previously that we'd had a watch tower in town during World War II, keeping an eye on the coast, that was manned mostly by civilians. This I picked up from the obituary of one of the women who volunteered her time to help protect the coast.

I write obituaries for Newsmakers, a project for Gale Cengage (the publisher I used to work for, and for whom I edit the autobiographies project). I've covered scientists and environmentalists, humanitarians and football coaches. Usually, reading the obituaries gives me this feeling of work well done. The people selected for the project tend to be people who accomplished good things with their lives, and lived to a ripe old age.

Occasionally, however, I'm assigned celebrities who have died of drug overdoses or similar before their prime. And I'm left feeling, "What a waste!" That's the only time that the job is irksome for me -- in part due to the added fact that celebrity obituaries are always more work (because they're covered in so many sources, and thus require sorting through many more articles before I can write my own). Which makes me think that with this last batch, I should have saved the conservationist who lived to be more than a hundred for the last essay I write, rather than the actor who died before he was forty. Alas.

In other news, it has been an exceptionally good mail week for me. I got paid (always a cause for happiness), I got a book (yay for DAW and [ profile] jimhines!), and I got a mysterious envelope from an elementary school. The class I visited last month to talk about Branford history and writing sent me thank you letters for my appearance, which gives me all sorts of warm fuzzies. It's astonishing to see what the students picked up -- and what I should perhaps have phrased better when I was speaking, as some of the things they say they learned weren't things I quite intended to teach! I imagine that teachers get used to this sensation, but watching kids learn is still a real novelty to me. From watching Bug learn to blow kisses to seeing just what third and fourth graders find important -- it's this amazing window into the way that human minds work, distilled in a different way from what I see watching teens and adults. Kids are awesome.

The first question I'm answering for that class will be going up this coming week on "The Town with Five Main Streets" -- I hope I live up to their expectations!
alanajoli: (Default)
I got a surprise package in the mail today from DAW. Last year, DAW sent me a copy of Red Hood's Revenge by [ profile] jimhines that I reviewed for Flames Rising. Apparently, I am still on their reviewers list, because today, a good month before it'll hit store shelves, I got a copy of Snow Queen's Shadow! Woo! I do reviews for several places now, and I'm just starting to get used to how fun it is to see reviews I've written, often anonymously (as is required for some of the places I review), show up in blurbs and marketing material. Reviewing doesn't pay much, if it pays at all, but the perks -- showing up in blurbs, getting books from publishers, having an editor who sends me books by writers I'd go fan-girl on in person -- are really nifty.


A quick note about comments here, as I've had someone ask why I've chosen to delete some comments. Until this past year, I've never had a problem with commenters, so I never bothered to make an official policy. Basically, if I feel a comment is offensive, I won't approve it. If a commenter new to the blog, I may send a message saying why I removed it, but if I find subsequent comments also offensive -- whether or not they're offensive for the same reason -- I may ban them. And honestly, if a commenter is insulting me or other commenters, I'm not sure what they're doing here in the first place.

A lot of friends of the blog are much better known than I am -- and you all probably have to deal with this much more frequently than I do. I'd love to hear if people have developed official stances on how they judge comments, or on how they deal with people who seem intentionally antagonizing in comments. (Given the types of topics that [ profile] jimhines covers, for example, I'm sure he sees his fill. People like [ profile] jeff_duntemann and [ profile] sartorias have had web presences for as long as I've known them, so by virtue of seniority, I'm sure it's come up one or twice. What do you all do?)
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens)
I am apparently not terribly inspired with thoughty* words lately, but other people are saying interesting things, and you should read them.

  • I'm pretty sure I've raved about [ profile] jeff_duntemann's work here before -- I've certainly done so other places -- which falls all over SFF land (mostly SF, but at least one in the F side of the equation). Some of his favorite stories of mine are set in his Drumlin world, and are fantastic examples of space westerns -- which he was doing before it was cool. He writes a bit about subgenre splicing here (and even gives a short mention to Cowboys and Aliens).

  • Starting with my blog post last week about Castle, a very fun conversation started happening among members of Substrate about meta-fiction and interactive-fiction, continuing at Max Gladstone's blog and then over to substrater Vlad's page. They both provide examples of the kind of fictional-into-reality writing I was looking for, including the classic Borges on Borges piece. (You can follow Max at on the [ profile] maxgladstone feed, and can apparently follow Vlad's comments, but not his blog, at [ profile] vlad43210 -- once I get some problems with my account worked out, I'll be fixing that one.)

  • Last, it's goblin release day! [ profile] jimhines has just released his first goblin e-book, Goblin Tales, in which Jig the Goblin and his Fire Spider make their triumphant return. I bought my copy form my nook, but it's available at Amazon too, with Kobo, iBooks, and Lulu soon to follow. [ profile] sartorias gave it an excellent review, which would have spurred me on to buy it if I hadn't already intended to.

Not much cooking on the homefront, aside from doing research to try to solve this mystery, writing reviews, copyediting, and playing peek-a-boo.


*thoughty: a word meaning "thoughtful," stolen, not from Firefly like many of my pseudo-colloquial words, but from the Disney version of Robin Hood.
alanajoli: (Default)
Not long ago I got into a discussion on the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards judges mailing list about what it means to be mythopoeic. One of the judges, Alma Hromic, wrote a very insightful answer back to me about what she felt the difference was between spinning a fairy tale trope and creating something that taps into the spirit of myth. I discovered through that conversation that she writes fantasy novels as Alma Alexander. After visiting her website, I realized that I'd admired the cover of her novel The Secrets of Jin-shei, which had been on my to-be-read list for a long time, but I'd never picked it up! In addition, Alma is the author of the "Worldweavers" series, which draws on Native American mythology tropes. It sounds like a series I would love, as does her fantasy duology Changer of Days and The Hidden Queen. I'm delighted to welcome Alma here to Myth, the Universe, and Everything as a guest blogger.

(For previous discussion on mythology vs. fairytales, visit my entry on the Dewey Decimal system, my post on gods going underground, and this guest blog by Mark Vecchio.)


The Mything Link
Alma Alexander

There is a certain line of descent when it comes to things literary. A regression would take us from a contemporary and modern context, through recent (one's own lifetime) history and then back further into
more distant history - and, from there, into folktale, and then into legend, and then into myth.

Myth is what the magic stardust of time and distance does to someone else's quotidian reality - things turn bigger and brighter and darker and more numinous for being sprinkled with the stardust of magic and
mystery and a pinch of faith.

Myth is just BIGGER than everything else. So much bigger.

The world of the folk tale, or fairy tale (which is a form of folk tale woven with a magic thread), is a world that is only touching on the otherworldly, and it depends on what happens to the humans who
stumble (in passing) into that other world. It is not fundamentally about the creatures that inhabit that other world - and it is certainly not about things that are much vaster than the human characters who carry the story. There are no transcendent gods or angels here.

The folk and fairy tales depend on certain accepted tropes and storylines and types of character - they are stories, if you like, of STEREOTYPE. Instantly recognisable stereotype. Princess in peril. The youngest of three princely siblings. Talking animals. Baba Yaga and her cottage with the chicken legs.

In the hands of a good writer, these stereotypes can definitely be turned on their heads. Take, for example, Jim Hines's ([ profile] jimhines) The Stepsister Scheme. It's a story of self-admitted stereotypes, albeit given a trademark-Hines twist. Here we have a bevy of fairytale princesses who each used to have her own story, thrust together into the same storyline - but even so, they are all still instantly recognisable as
what they used to be. Cinderella is still Cinderella. Snow White, despite using mirrors more like a demented fairytale ninja than the Snow White of our childhoods, is still recognisable as Snow White (she is still USING mirrors. She still HAS dwarves.) Talia, more commonly known as Sleeping Beauty, comes closest to breaking the mould we know her in from long ago and far away - in this incarnation she is rather different from the precious princess who is stupid enough to prick her thumb on a spindle and fall asleep for a thousand years. But nonetheless these are all just tweaked stereotypes, and we know them as such and respond to them as such.

That is the world of the fairy tale.

The myth is inhabited by ARCHETYPES rather than stereotypes.

Archetypes are not named. They are not actual character. They are EveryCharacter, they are over-reaching ideas which cross space and time and personal vision. An angel is an archetype; a fairytale princess is not.

There is a very definite archetype vs stereotype divide.

Using my own work for a moment to illustrate, if I may - I have used a bit of both, in the "Worldweavers" series. My "misfit kids" who turn out to do well for themselves are almost stereotypes - and Thea Winthrop, in particular, my protagonist, is very much one, the plucky heroine who "figures it all out". But in my story the stereotype has acquired added dimensions, and learns and grows through the series in a way that genuine stereotypes never do because they never step out of the mould at all.

On the other hand, the Native American characters from the Worldweavers books (Grandmother Spider, Coyote) are VERY much archetypes, and highly mythopoeic in the sense that their roots lie in deeper and older myths - and they are not confined to any particular story therein, just to a certain kind of ideas and meaning and over-reaching context.

A character like Nikola Tesla can be a little bit of both - he was "real" in the sense that he lived but I have mythologised him in the books to the extent that I have used the nickname that he WAS known by in his own real life, The New Wizard of the West, as a "genuine" title, as it were.

So it's a question of scale, really. Where you peg your character, what context you give that character. A diminished archetype can turn into a stereotype, and a sufficiently exalted stereotype can metamorphose into an archetype - the chasm is not completely impossible to cross - but the transformation, if at all successful,
lies in the lines of space and time... and, last but by far not least, in the competency of the storyteller who is telling any given story.

Tread carefully on the fragile bridge that is the mything link, metamorphosing a story into either star-blazing mythology or the quiet hearthside folktale. Transcended, the archetype vs. stereotype transformation can be absolutely awe-inspiring. Failure means crashing into that chasm, and it's a long, long way down.
alanajoli: (Default)
I keep a release list on Google docs of all the upcoming books that I want to purchase. Sometimes, "upcoming" turns into "missed that pub date last month," sadly. I also keep an excel spreadsheet of all the books I've been reading (which I started because the Glamazombies, Mark Henry's mailing list community, put up spreadsheets for everyone to track their reading on the 50 Book Challenge during the first six months of the year; most of us had hit 50 by the time we quit tracking). It helps when I have to come up with a book to nominate for an award or recommend to a friend.

While I manage to be behind on other things over the past few weeks, I've been keeping up with reading. Sometimes sitting on the couch with a book seems like the only thing I can manage to accomplish. (Well, that, or watch The Guild, Felicia Day's web show that I've finally gotten around to watching; I'm somewhere in season 2.) So, two lists: first, a short recap of some of the books I've read in the last few weeks, and second, a list of the books I just bought today.

  • Dead Girl Walking and Dead Girl Dancing by Linda Joy Singleton. This is a great YA series about soul swapping, starring likable narrator Amber who just happens into other people's bodies. While she does get sage wisdom from her grandmother, a kind of celestial bureaucrat, she also has to face off against Dark Lifers who want to drain her soul.
  • The Mermaid's Madness by Jim Hines. Second in the Princess series, the novel features our trio of heroines facing off against another princess -- the little mermaid. In order to save Queen Bea, the three princesses have to confront the mermaid and convince her to release Bea's soul -- or take it from her. The book is just as much fun as the first volume, and some of the story lines that started in book one are gaining new developments.
  • On the Edge by Ilona Andrews. Ilona and Gordon are doing it again -- raising the bar on what I expect in their genre. On the Edge is closer to paranormal romance than the Kate Daniels series, but like the Kate novels, there's a lot of great world building and mythology-mixing going on here. Also: it's smexy.
  • Soulless by Gail Carriger. This definitely lived up to my expectations -- except perhaps that there weren't quite enough dirigibles. (The sequel promises more!) There was actually quite a bit more romance than I'd anticipated, as well, but I think Carriger mixed all her subgenres (and there are several) successfully. Definitely fun.

As for today, I brought home:

  • My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
  • Demon Inside by Stacia Kane
  • Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead
  • Unbound (anthology, including Jeaniene Frost and Melissa Marr)
  • Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

In the mail, two preorders also arrived:

  • Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
  • Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Which means, with the exception of a few anthologies, the most recent Succubus book by Richelle Mead (which came out back in June!) and Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (which wasn't on the shelf today), I'm nearly caught up with everything that's come out that I had on the list. There are, of course, others I'd like to own... and my TBR pile is still stacked ridiculously high... and I have review titles that are still not reviewed... but these are really small obstacles to overcome!
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 ([ 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 ([ 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)
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): [ profile] frost_light, [ profile] melissa_writing, [ profile] ilona_andrews, [ profile] sartorias, [ profile] jimhines, Carrie Vaughn, [ profile] rkvincent, [ profile] blue_succubus, [ profile] antonstrout, [ profile] amanda_marrone, [ profile] jenlyn_b, [ profile] m_stiefvater, [ profile] mdhenry, [ 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: (tuam face - celtic mythology)
I forgot to mention, Coyote Wild's YA issue is live, complete with "Nomi's Wish" and stories by [ profile] janni, [ profile] faerie_writer, [ profile] jimhines, [ profile] asakiyume, [ profile] drachin8, [ profile] fairmer, and several other wonderful writers who I don't know from lj. (I have not yet read them, but I know they are wonderful because I trust [ profile] sartorias's taste.)

I may take a chunk of tomorrow, once I organize my brain, to just read some of the stories. I did read the poem by Shweta Narayan and [ profile] jimhines's "The Haunting of Jig's Ear" when they were first posted, and enjoyed both very much. (I particularly enjoyed "The Haunting of Jig's Ear," if only because Jig the Goblin getting the best of people who are bigger and more powerful has a way of making my day. Goblin or no, I identify with the guy.)

If you have the chance, definitely drop by and read some of the stories--and send a note to the featured writers who have ljs. I've been getting some very nice comments, both on lj and via web chat, and I'm enjoying having other people meet Lou and Will an incredible amount. I've never had such quick and direct feedback from readers, and it's thrilling! I'm hoping to be insightful enough to be able to do the same for the other featured writers.
alanajoli: (Default)
You should know that I'm not much of an adrenaline junky. I don't like going fast. I don't like scary movies. I like my adventures to be held around a table with dice, or contained on the printed page. But all that said--adrenaline is a darn useful thing. It seems to have kept me going right up through my deadlines over the weekend.

And then, of course, I crashed and burned. Deep coughing in the chest. General misery. I spent most of Tuesday watching rerun sitcoms, which is always an indication to me of just how much my brain is able to process.

So now that my brain seems to be back on my shoulders, here I am back in the blogosphere. On the writing front, Arielle and I changed the date for my deadline, so that *tomorrow* will be my first foray into ongoing fiction deadlines. I'm hoping to touch up some work today that I can send her for initial thoughts.

To test my ability to learn something new, I'm also borrowing a page (actually, some code) from [ profile] jimhines. He had a great footer on his blog, and I'm going to see if I can adjust it to what I'm up to. We'll see how it comes out.

Edit: Three tries before success--not too bad!

Edit: *sheepish* Actually, that required a fourth try, as there are two places to change the title of the piece in the code--and I missed the obvious one that showed up. Thanks to [ profile] jimhines and [ profile] jpsorrow for the correction!

Souls in Silicon, by Jeff Duntemann
"Rodeo at Area 51"



alanajoli: (Default)
Alana Joli Abbott

March 2019

     1 2


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 19th, 2019 09:14 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios