The new Stringing Words

November 27, 2012

A new version of the Stringing Words forum launched today, and I’m both excited about it and a little sad to see the old edition go away soon. The exciting part is the people – especially the fact that my good friend and Co-ML Gale has gotten involved in the community again, and that I’m getting to know my fellow admin Rinelle.

The disappointing part is that it seems like a technical step backward with fewer neat ‘toys’ to play with on the site. None of them are terribly important – the shoutbar of messages that were always visible down the left side of every page, the custom smileys, the nice home page layout that showed the twenty threads that had been updated most recently, whether they were in the same section of the forum or widely scattered.

The new edition is on the domain, (which is part of the family,) and the decisions to move there were mostly on account of money – the old version was on a paid hosted solution registered to  one of the founding admins. She’s been very busy with publishing success lately and hasn’t had much time to keep up with the community, and asked that we make a move so that she doesn’t need to worry about bringing the forum down if she misses a payment. I did volunteer once to take over responsibility for the payments with the old hosting company, but she seemed to think that would be a pain, and I didn’t pursue it any further.

So, that’s where it is. I guess I should focus on moving forward and all the great people who’ve made the move over to the new site, rather than the bells and whistles we’re leaving behind, huh? 😉

Crusader Spotlight: Writes of Passage

March 8, 2011

This week’s Crusader Spotlight is on Writes of Passage. Take a look at the available microfiction, let the serenity of a haiku come clear to you, or check out Dominic’s Book Blurb.

Dominic also has an interesting series going on ‘Engineering for Writers’, which I thought was a cool idea. (Hmm… could I do a similar series on math malapropisms or something of the sort?)

Oh, and thanks once again for inviting me to the Crusader Group party, Dominic!

A Wizard of Mars – Chapter Four

February 2, 2011

A Wizard of Mars chapter index.

Well, this chapter is Nita’s side plot, and it’s not as long a deviation as I thought it might be, though hopefully we get some payoff later on in the book. First, Nita goes home and talks with her Dad. Dad is upset that little sister Dairine is blowing off school, traipsing around the galaxy or whatever, and demands that Nita ‘do something’ about it. Nita complains that Dairine misbehaving isn’t her fault, but Dad makes it her problem, pointing out that he didn’t ask for this either, but he needs to know that his kids are safe, and that Nita has access to skills that he doesn’t have himself when it comes to keeping up with little sister.

So Nita agrees, grudgingly, and heads off to her room to make preparations. Step one is finally checking the manual listings for info on Roshaun, which she was too chicken to do back in chapter two, and she talked with Tom about that. The manual has a blank in Roshaun’s long-term status field, which is where you’d usually see information on if a wizard is alive or dead, (or in some cases in between,) and from this, Nita concludes that Dairine’s quest to find him might have some value to it – if even the sources of the manual don’t know his fate, then there’s a chance that he’s alive.

So Nita transits over to Roshaun’s homeworld, Wellakh, to talk to Dairine there, (with another side conversation with invisible Bobo the peridexis,) and finds her training in how to manage stars with Roshaun’s father, Neleid the ex-Sunlord of Wellakh, who Dairine met in ‘Wizards at War.’ Once Neleid understands that there’s a family crisis, he scrams so that Nita and Dairine can have it out, and Nita lays out her proposal – she’s going to put a tap into Dairine’s wizardly computer, Spot, so that whatever she does and wherever she is, Dad can get the details on his computer or the cell phone, and ask her for clarification when she comes home at night. Dairine is initially furious at the idea, but caves when Nita pointedly reminds her that Dad and Tom are very close, and that if Dad gets upset about her jaunts off planet and complains to Tom, Tom has the authority to ground Dairine. (Which he’s done, to a limited extent, in Wizard’s Holiday.)

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A Wizard of Mars – Chapter three

January 26, 2011

A wizard of mars chapter index.

So, we’re finally on Mars, and apparently the ‘message bottle’ is exactly where Kit always thought that they’d find something, but couldn’t pinpoint it. (Is that foreshadowing also, perhaps?) Irina and Nita talk a bit about Mamvish, and Irina mentions a detail that I almost included in last week’s chapter review, because I’d been reading ahead a bit and thought that it had been introduced earlier.

Mamvish is an ‘abstainee’ – which means that when she had her Ordeal, her big showdown with the Lone Power to prove that she’s worthy of keeping her powers… the Lone Power defaulted, sent a message saying that he wasn’t going to mess with her. Apparently that has something to do with why she’s such a badass high-power wizard, but it’s unclear which way the cause and effect goes.

Incidentally, I do wonder how literally it’s true that every wizard confronts the Lone Power directly on their ordeal. From what we heard about Ronan’s time-sliding ordeal in Ireland, (in ‘A wizard abroad,’) the maker of entropy didn’t put in a personal appearance, and though he didn’t say that he told Nita the whole story, I’m not sure how Balor could fit in. Ronan had to face the darkness inside himself, though, so maybe that fits.

Moving onward – Kit has to use the ‘Mason’s word’ and reach through solid rock to get the bottle out, but Nita’s cell phone goes off just once he’s got it – Dad’s calling, and he’s pissed, probably something to do with Dairine that’ll send Nita off on a subplot for half the book. She makes sure that Carmela can get a ride back home to Earth, and then transits home, leaving the rest of the chapter POV to Kit. Incidentally, I can’t remember, did Nita have a cell phone during “Wizards at War?” She definitely didn’t during Wizard’s holiday, because I remember her calling her father’s cell phone using her manual, and Dad getting a call from Mars on his cell phone at the end of it, foreshadowing the arrival of this book.

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A Wizard of Mars – Chapter Two

January 19, 2011

A Wizard of Mars chapter index

This is a big one, fifty-six pages, so I might be going a little quick. We open with Nita POV – I think that around two thirds of the chapters in the book start with Nita POV, though the number that end on Kit POV may be close to half.

Nita is learning to be an Oracle, which makes some sense, as she’s shown a rough talent for premonition in the past few books. She’s over at Tom and Carl’s house – taking lessons from the koi who pronounce prophetic haiku. Nita predicts a cloud passing over the sun – but she calls ‘now’ nearly a minute early, which is apparently not good enough in the Oracle trade.

Nita chats with Tom for a while, talking about how Dairine is still out looking for Roshaun. Nita asks if Tom’s manual has any status info on Roshaun, and Tom just asks Nita if she’s checked her own manual and says that anything he reads in his might not be relevant information for her – but says that if she does look in hers, he’d like to know.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Wizard of Mars – Chapter One

January 12, 2011

A wizard of Mars chapter index

Okay, I’m going to be blogging my way through Diane Duane’s A Wizard of Mars, with a new installment every Wednesday. Spoilers will not be spared, so if you’re waiting for the paperback and want to experience the book fresh, steer clear!

The first paragraph goes as follows:

The problem, Kit thought, scowling at the paper, isn’t the basic shape so much. It’s what to do with the legs.

Now, as you might recall, I did an exercise on the opening of the first Young Wizards novel, So You Want to be a Wizard. That also started with a main character’s thoughts, which got me curious enough to take a quick look at some of the other books in the series. #2, Deep Wizardry, starts with a bit of action and dialog at the end of the paragraph. #3, High Wizardry, begins with dialog and then action. #4, A Wizard Abroad, actually starts by telling us what Diane’s about to show us in more detail. #5, The Wizard’s Dilemma, opens with dialog. #6, A Wizard Alone, opens with a mix of description and then dialog. #7, Wizard’s Holiday, and #8, Wizards at War, both open with description.

So, no signature opening for Ms Duane. Probably that’s good, she changes this up and keeps things fresh, though her voice is consistent in a lot of other ways. I do like that she kind of comes full circle to the beginning of the series, in this little way. But I’ve wasted enough space dissecting the first paragraph now, and should move onward.

Kit is in history class. Kit’s doodling pictures based on the old Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars books, and also using wizardry to fiddle with the busted air conditioner, because it’s a hot day, less than a week before the start of summer vacation. One his doodles is also ‘busted’ in a different way, feminine attributes-wise, and Kit gets ‘busted’ with it by the history teacher, Mister Machiavelli, who had a small but memorable appearance early on in A Wizard Alone. Mack likes the Martian chick, (in Victoria’s Secret, which he points out isn’t as skimpy as the original descriptions in Burroughs,) but tortures Kit for a while about the Korean border before letting him go.

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