alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
A few great projects happening right now:


  • Margaret McNellis (@mcnelliswrites) has launched a Kickstarter for her nautical, haunted historical novel, Out of the Sea. I'm super excited for her, and the project sounds fantastic.

  • Erik Scott de Bie (@erikscottdebie), who I met back at GenCon '06, is involved in another cool Kickstarter: an anthology of short fantasy titled Women in Practical Armor. What's not to like?

  • Margaret Dunlap (@spyscribe) and Max Gladstone (@maxgladstone) are working together on the serial-fiction-in-the-style-of-a-television-series innovative project Bookburners. Max's first episode is available to read for free, so go get it!

alanajoli: (Default)
Apologies for the long blog absence without warning! I was off on a family vacation that involved not one but two family weddings in beautiful Michigan. We had a lovely time, and when I returned home I jumped right into finishing up the last round of autobiographical essays, which included an original piece by Tananarive Due. Due and her husband, Steven Barnes, who has also written an autobiography for the autobio project, ought to be considered one of the power couples of the SFF world (if they're not already). They're both amazing. If you've not read either of them, you're missing out. (Luckily, their books are pretty widely available, so it's a loss that can be rectified pretty easily at your local library.)

So the last round of autobio has wrapped up, I got to do a cool secret project for Wizards of the Coast, and a computer crash didn't stop me from completing an assignment of obituaries. All in all, things are good on the work front, and I'm looking ahead to the assignments that come next! The Steampunk Musha Kickstarter's success means I'll be doing some adventure writing with Rick Hershey and maybe a short story or two coming up!

I'm also catching up on Eureka. Since my writer-buddy Margaret Dunlap worked on that show, I ponied up and bought a season pass on Amazon so I can watch it on the television. I just finished watching episode 4, which involves a scene where two characters start a D&D game, basically functioning as a step toward helping one of them cope with grief. I thought it was an incredibly touching moment and a wonderful way to celebrate the power of shared storytelling.

Speaking of writer friends, several writer friends of mine are already on to the next project, and here's their news:

  • Since in writer-time, Eureka wrapped ages ago, Margaret's been keeping busy working on a new project, the web show The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. It's a modernized Pride and Prejudice, and it sounds right up my alley. More when I've had a chance to catch up on the already-existing episodes!

  • Fellow Substrater Max Gladstone just announced his fantastic news that he's sold an additional two books to Tor. This comes on top of his first two book contract -- his debut novel releases this October and is available for preorder now.

  • I can't remember if I linked back to Francesca Forrest's "Tilia Songbird," which was published in Gigantosaurus at the beginning of May. If not, here it is! If I did, and you didn't read it the first time, I hope this inspires you to go check it out.

  • And for a celebration of meta-text, John "jaQ" Andrews just had his e-book guide to Castle come out! (It's a book about a show about a guy who writes books -- it gets awesomely circular, and I can't think of a better person to write about it than John.) Check out Quicklet on Castle Season 3, in which John has promised to explain the conspiracy behind the death of Beckett's mother.


I love good news like this!
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 Tor.com posted her response to the pair, which I intentionally didn't read before writing this. (However, most everything over at Tor.com 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) [livejournal.com 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)
Did you all like my disappearing act? Next, I'll saw my assistant in half! But really, what have I been up to in the past month?


  • Copyediting. A lot.

  • Watching Leverage. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lyster and [livejournal.com profile] publius513 for the recommendation!)

  • Watching Eureka, on which my friend Margaret Dunlap is a writing assistant.

  • Realizing that catching up on back episodes of cool TV shows takes a bite out of my reading time.

  • Spending time with Bug, who is awesome and amazing to watch as she learns all about the world.

  • Going to kempo with Twostripe.

  • Reading books to review. I'm all caught up on my PW reading, but I have a review to write, and a pile of SLJ books, and some Flames Rising books and comics still piled up.

  • Writing fake romance novel back cover blurbs as a game for a friend. I may post some here at some point, with the names changed to protect the innocent (or not so innocent, as the case may be).

  • Reading books for fun. I just finished Ally Carter's Only the Good Spy Young and am reading Breaking Waves on my nook. (Breaking Waves is an anthology edited by [livejournal.com profile] tltrent to raise funds for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. Great writing and a worthy cause? It's totally worth checking out.)

  • Keeping up on industry news. The NYTimes published an article about color e-ink displays. Remember how I was asking about this earlier this year? Yay news!

  • Sending the Viking Saga team through Europe. This weekend: Italy! Next weekend: Crossover game with the Mythic Greece group! I can hardly wait.

  • Finishing up at the library. I've decided I can spend my time more the way I'd like to spend my time -- on both writing/editing and on being a mom -- without those library hours. As much as I love my coworkers and my library, it's a good move. And we'll still be storytime regulars.

  • Traveling for cool events. Last night I went to see Abundance with [livejournal.com profile] niliphim. Friends of the blog Mark Vecchio and Richard Vaden are involved in the production (Mark is the director; Rich is performing). If you're in Pioneer Valley over the next two days, go see it! And check out this article about the production, and a sense of the mythic in the Old West.


And finally, I've been writing. Not as much as I'd like, but I am doing it. I'm back to owing [livejournal.com profile] lyster a chapter of Blood and Tumult, but I'm also working on the sooper sekrit project -- which I can now say is a comic, and as soon as I tell my editor I'm going to start talking about it, I'll start writing about it here! The portion I'm working on is actually due sooner rather than later, so if I want to talk about the process, it'll have to be coming up soon!

In honor of my return, and to help with my going-digital initiative, I'm giving away my mass market copy of Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry. Answer the following question by Friday the 24th, and I'll pick a random winner!

If you were stranded on a deserted island (with comfortable amenities and the knowledge that you'd be rescued within a week), what five books would you want to have in your luggage?

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Alana Joli Abbott

July 2017

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