What’s Up Wednesday? Summer Solstice edition

June 25, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us! I’m glad to be back after spending a few weeks away at the Young Gunns workshop in Kansas.

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Well, I finished “Dark Lord of Derkholm”, loved the ending, and I’ve been reading some Iron Druid, starting on “Trapped” and then going back to find “Two Ravens One Crow” because the author was referring to it and I wanted to follow what was going on. I’ve also read a cool story from a January 2013 edition of Analog, courtesy of my local library’s Zinio program, and finished off another Buffy season 9 graphic novel.

For audio books, I think I’m getting close to the end of “I’ve got your number,” and I’ve been able to listen to some more of “Skin Game.”

What I’m writing:

Still making some progress with the new draft for “Magic Milkshake”, and I finished a partial revision of “TimeBubble Blues:” it should be on its way out to the critters.org critiquers any minute now! I’ve also been working on giving critiques; I sent one in to critters.org yesterday because my ratio was slipping dangerously low, and I’ve got a lot of novel excerpts yet to critique for “The Never-Ending Odyssey” workshop.

What inspires me right now:

Stories with strong romantic and adventure plots, especially where the couple are able to work together to beat the bad guy or reach the prize, instead of getting bogged down in angst.

What else I’ve been up to:

Gearing up for Camp Nanowrimo in July! Looks like my local writers will be able to get together for some write-ins in July, and I’ve also got a pretty cool cabin on the Camp Nano website.

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

What’s Up Wednesday? Back from Kansas

June 18, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us! I’m glad to be back after spending a few weeks away at the Young Gunns workshop in Kansas.

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Wow, what haven’t I been reading? 😉 I’m about half-way through the audible version of Jim Butcher’s “Skin Game”, and also been listening to Sophie Kinsella’s “I’ve got your number” as a pre-loaded audiobook from the local library.

I read three books while I was in Kansas, and enjoyed them all: Diana Wynne Jones’ “Cart and Cwidder”, Ben Bova’s “The Silent War”, and “Magic Burns” from the Kate Daniels series. I’m still working on “Dark Lord of Derkholm” (also by Wynne Jones,) started the new Veronica Mars book “Thousand Dollar Tan Line”, and Elizabeth Moon’s “Command Decision.” Oh, and since I got back I’ve finished the first Angel&Faith graphic novel, “Live Through This.”

What I’m writing:

Umm, well. I revose another draft of “TimeBubble Blues” while I was in Kansas. I want to work more on revising all three stories I took to the workshop, and I’ve started to write something based on my Magic Milkshake idea from April. But I’ve been taking a little break from writing while I recover from the two weeks of breathing writing and spending time with nobody but writers!

What inspires me right now:

Spending two weeks of breathing writing and spending time with nobody but writers! Also Storywonk talking about Cabin in the Woods–I need to make sure to make time to listen to their commentary track over the weekend.

What else I’ve been up to:

Getting used to being back in Ontario, going to work every day, and preparing a lecture for the TNEO workshop. Yeah, my first time going back after Odyssey, and Jeanne asked me to teach a class! I’m excited and really nervous all at once. Need to decide on a title for my lesson and send it out by tomorrow.

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

A tour of Barsoom

January 8, 2013

I’ve been spending some time on Mars lately – courtesy of Audible.com, and Scott Brick’s excellent narration for “A Princess of Mars.” Since New Year’s Day, I’ve followed John Carter from his gold claim in Arizona to the Incubators of the Green Men and on daring escapes through the hills of dry ocean beds. And along the way, I’ve met Dejah Thoris and a lot of other interesting Martians.

It’s a great science fiction adventure that doesn’t seem much the worse for all the decades that have passed since it was first written and printed, but I’ve also been aware of that vague sense that I’m finally catching up to something that’s been in the public cultural consciousness for a while, and specifically, that I finally understand some of the Barsoom in-jokes and references that Diane Duane filled A Wizard of Mars with. (And Diane’s title could be seen as a cross between “A Princess of Mars” and “A Wizard of Earthsea” 🙂 )

Other books I’ve been reading in 2013:

  • “House of Many Ways” by Diana Wynne Jones
  • “Maybe Baby” by Lani Diane Rich
  • “Dancing Barefoot” by Wil Wheaton

What have you been reading lately?

A year in reading

August 16, 2012

Before taking a shower this morning, I curled up in the armchair and pulled out my paperback copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” (Massive slab of a thing, ain’t it?) Got through some great stuff before I ran out of reading time – Hermione and Ron both got their separate opportunities to arrive at just the right moment to save Harry’s life, and it was really great to see Ron get a chance to be a hero for a change.

Before scurrying off, I opened the netbook to update my reading page tracker file, because I get compulsive about stuff like that. So under ‘Aug 15 2012’ I start typing ‘Aug 16’, and notice that it auto-completed with 2011 before I typed in the 2012. “Huh. I don’t remember that happening before. Could it be…”

Paged up to the top of the Excel sheet. Yeah, sure enough, the first entry is Aug 16 2011 – Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones in trade print, up to the bottom of page 83. (I’d actually read some of the first story in the collection before I started keeping track – I didn’t read 83 pages on my first day of Consistent Writer’s Club, though I’ve read more than that on a few days.

So yes, it’s been a year and a day since I started the Consistent Writer’s Club, and I’ve only missed 3 days so far – none of them within 2012. There’s a lot of good stuff I’ve read listed in my spreadsheet – novels and short stories both, and I’ve been smiling at the thought of it all day.

Have you been reading anything really fun lately?

Saturday at Polaris

July 7, 2012

Well, I got to see Miracle Laurie…


Stood in line for some signatures…



Had a great time with Wil Wheaton… Read the rest of this entry »

Lookit all I’ve been reading lately!

August 24, 2011

So, I told you last week about how I was joining the Consistent Reader’s club and reading from new-to-me books for at least 15 minutes every day. I thought I’d touch base to let you know how well that’s been working out!

I’ve kept up with the program, and often read a lot more than that per day. I haven’t read any books through from start to finish, but I’ve finished two, started one, and loved a lot of what I’ve been reading:

  • Finished ‘Mixed Magics’ by Diana Wynne Jones, a collection of short stories connected to the Chrestomanci series, which I got for my birthday last year and read a story and a half from around the spring. This was really fun stuff – there’s a great adventure bringing Eric Chant from ‘A Charmed Life/The Pinhoe Egg’ together with Tonino Montana from ‘The Magicians of Caprona’, and also including callbacks to characters and history from “The Lives of Christopher Chant.” I also read a fun dreaming story involving the daughter of one of the minor characters from “Lives of Christopher Chant”, and a little fable about overly organized gods that Chrestomanci has to help untangle.
  • Finished: Flatlander, (the short story collection) by Larry Niven. The last story, the Woman in Del Rey crater, was really good, and there was an afterword in which Larry comments on how he wishes he could write more Gil Hamilton stories, but mixing science fiction with the mystery genre is harder than it might look.
  • Started: King Kelson’s bride, by Katherine Kurtz. Actually, I’ve skimmed through this ebook before, at least, but wanted to start from the beginning because I couldn’t remember much of the plot.
  • Continued: The Gripping Hand, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. I’ve been reading this on and off ever since I got it with some other books using Christmas money. I brought it with me to Kansas, and didn’t read much from it until I lost ‘Prisoner of Azkaban.’ It’s fun stuff, a worthy sequel to “The Mote in God’s Eye”, which I really liked. Horace Bury hasn’t managed to scheme his way to get to the Mote Blockade yet, though I know he’s going to go soon.
  • Continued: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Didn’t read much from this, just found my place in the ebook where I stopped reading from the paperback copy before I lost it in the Cleveland airport.

So, have you read anything interesting lately?

The Consistent Reader’s Club

August 16, 2011

One of the features over at the Stringing Words community that I’ve never participated in is the Consistent Reader’s Club – until today. I’ve been telling myself ever since I got to the Kansas Workshop that I need to make more time to read, and it hasn’t added up to much, so I figured that an ego challenge might help. 😉

There are a few Consistency Clubs over at SW, and I’ve joined in most of the others from time to time. (There’s Consistent Writers, Consistent Editors, and Consistent Bloggers; I think that’s it.) Aside from Bloggers, which plays around to give participants the chance to choose their own schedule, the rules are pretty much the same.

You set a minimum goal that you want to accomplish every day – writing 500 words, reading for a half hour, or editing a page, maybe. You keep track of your progress, count up how many days of a streak you can make it up to, and post that count on the thread as often as you like. If you fall short of your pledge for one day – only writing 350 words, say, you can choose to lower your pledge for the entire streak if you like. But if you go a day with nothing to show for it, then you have to end your streak and start a new one.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Wizard of Mars, Chapter Fifteen

May 29, 2011

A Wizard of Mars chapter index.

So, I’m drawing close to the end of my chapter-by-chapter recap of Diane Duane’s novel “A Wizard of Mars”, and I’d like to say that I’ve had a great time sharing this book with you. I’d like to try something else soon, possibly not chapter by chapter, but going through a book in installments as I read it, instead of a single review/book report of the novel as a whole, and I’m setting up a poll to see what possible titles there’s any interest in from my regulars.

So, at the end of the last chapter, Nita teleports into the throne room of one of the Martian royal houses, that of the Shamaska city, and she’s very pissed off and wizardly and competent and magnificent, as Kit said about her a bit earlier. So she tells off Iskard, the king, and Rorsik, his toadying minister, for the way they’ve treated the planet, and wizardry, and their people, and Aurirelde, Isakard’s daughter, and Khretef, her sweetie from the other side of Mars, the Eilitt. Particularly Nita rages on at the blindness of wizards letting themselves slip into an ‘us or them, we have to use wizardry against them because they’d do it to us’ mentality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Diana Wynne Jones

April 5, 2011

D is for… (A-Z challenge directory)

(Spoilers for “The Lives of Christopher Chant follow below, ‘after the More…’)

Children’s fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones passed away on March 25th of this year, after a year long battle with cancer.

I only recently started reading her books. There’s a blurb on the back of my 20th anniversary edition of Diane Duane’s “So you Want to be a Wizard”, which reads:

“Stands between the works of Diana Wynne Jones, in its wizardry and spells, and those of Madeleine L’Engle, in its scientific concepts and titanic battles between good and evil. An outstanding, original work.” – The Horn Book

Since I love Diane Duane’s books, and have been a fan of L’Engle’s since I was a child, (another great author who we’ve lost in the past few years,) so I looked DWJ up on audible.com, and bought the audiobook copy of  “A Charmed Life” made by Recorded Books, a little over two years ago.

By this point, I’ve read all of the Chrestomanci series, and am looking forward to still having many of her books and stories to read fresh. She has a wonderfully vivid imagination for witchcraft and enchantment, but what I still find the most amazing about Diana’s writing is the flair that she had with characters. All of her books seem to be populated with eccentric, flawed, and vivid characters. Many of them are lovable, and some are despicable, but even the bad guys are never caricatures, but complex if devious personalities.

And she almost always manages to surprise and delight me with one moment in each book, often involving her characters. The narration is very good at making me sympathize with the point of view of the central character, which heightens the shock when that character is surprised by the revelation too; whether it be the source of Gwendolyn’s amazing powers in “A Charmed Life”, the true story of Conrad Grant’s karma in “Conrad’s Fate”, the puzzle of the prison dining room in “The magicians of Caprona”, or…

Well, here we get to the spoilers part. If you want to remain unspoiled for one of Diana Wynne Jones’ best books, “The Lives of Christopher Chant”, then you can stop here and go to some other blog on the A-Z challenge – or do your best to scroll down to the bottom and leave a comment without looking.

Read the rest of this entry »

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