A Year of Women (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy)

A Year of Women (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy)

koko

 

So, for reasons that I have made clear in a previous post, I wasn’t doing much in the way of blogging/writing during the earlier months of this year. Therefore, I did not get to announce my two reading pledges for this year.

The first, which I am sharing with the incredible Shannon Noel Brady, revolves around the dewy decimal system and non- fiction books. In this I am to read one book from each of the first numbers in the system. So far that has been interesting, but I have seriously fallen behind. I will be picking up with a book in the 4’s sometime soon, look for that.

The other pledge, made to myself, revolves around fiction books. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know that I love (almost) all genres and (most of) the authors in them. However, I received a little real-life criticism for seeming to have a preference for female authors, especially in the world of science-fiction and fantasy.

That isn’t true, but it was perceived that way.

I responded in the most adult way that I possibly could. I made the promise that I would read ONLY female authors this year. Because that wasn’t petty at all. Right? Right.

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( my cat is judging me)

So, I realize that we are headed into July, and that my goodreads shows that I am still reading the digital version of G.R.R.M’s Game of Thrones, but that’s been going on for about two or three years…so ignore that. For this year I will (and have) been putting a serious, unrelenting spotlight on the authors of Science Fiction and Fantasy. So look for that when I do some of my book lists, my reviews, and other nuggets of literary delight.

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Ghostwriting

When I am not bashing my head against my own work, I am bashing my head against a client’s. In some ways I find this a very freeing (and lucrative) way to keep writing, even when I have no inspiration with my own work.

My niche, so far, has been writing short stories revolving around alien romance. Who knew that I could bring my love of smooches together with my love of futuristic political arenas. It’s pretty neat.

I get to make my own hours, pick the clients that I want to work with, and when the writing is done I can send it out and not have to worry about someone’s poor opinion reflecting on my personal work.

However, it is not without its flaws. There are some clients who think that writing is very easy and straightforward. They do not understand that it is not particularly feasible to write an 80k story in a matter of five days, much less do so with perfect grammar. So, there’s that.

At the end of the day, though, after everything that has gone on in my life recently. It’s really nice to be able to tell people that I’m a writer, professionally.

Dear Followers

The past few months have not been easy.

I do not have the heart, nor the words, to go into details but I can say that a lot has happened. The shortest explanation is: Housefire, Water Heater Death, Cancer, and an emotional breakdown.

It has not been an easy few months for me nor the people I am closest to. However, I am back. I cannot promise to post everyday, in fact I can’t make any promises where my posting habits will be concerned. Just know that I am alive and as well as I can hope to be. Thank you all for sticking around through my absence.

 

Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award

 

First, let me apologize for my absence on this little bitty blog of mine. I’ve been focusing so much of my time on my work and my cookbook (Kitchen Witchery: a Food Magic Guide to the Dark Half of the Year; coming up in 27 days) that I haven’t had a lot of time to give all you amazing followers due attention. Please look for me to rectify this in the future.

Secondly, one of my all time favorite people, Shanon Noel Brady, nominated me for the Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award and since she is incredibly awesome I am going to answer her questions, then create more questions to pass on to some of you. Fun!

Also, she recently got a story published, go check it out!

Now, on to the questions!

  • What was the first story you ever wrote?
    • When I was in the fourth grade my teacher wanted us to understand how books were made. This was an eye opening experience because while I was an avid reader I never really thought about the person behind the pen. I realized that I could be one when I was done being a Magical Space Princess.

      The teacher gave us each a bound book to write and illustrate as we wanted to. Please note…I am a terrible artist. I did, however, manage to scrawl out some wobbly stick figures depicting a rainbow earth worm in search of a magical flower. His name was Henry.

  • What book have you read the most times?
    • The Alienist by Caleb Carr. A novel based in turn of the century New York about the first forensic team that profile and catch a serial killer. It is so wonderfully written, historically beautiful, and it just gets me every time. I love it. It’s strange to me that this is my favorite book. I tend to read things that have a fantastic or magical element but this story is realistic and I still adore it.
  • What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
    • I love magical people living ordinary lives. The Orc who works the late shift at the gas station while he struggles to finish his first novel. The half elven college student studying magical chemistry. Mermaids with active tiwtter accounts and goblins in law enforcement. I love the idea of the fantastic and the ordinary coming together and studying the world they create.
  • How about your favorite kinds of scenes? (Action, steamy, tragic death, etc…)
    • Like my characters the normal that becomes paranormal. I have a scene where a woman dressed in punk clothes is working in a garden with a cat sunning beside her. She takes her clippings in and puts a pot on the stove as if to cook. But it becomes obvious as the scene progresses that she is casting a spell, the pot is her cauldron, the cat her familiar. All these almost normal things slowly become fantastic.
  • Describe what your writing space looks like?
    • In a word? Messy.
      There are multiple books I use for research piled haphazardly on every surface so long as it is mostly flat. I have several printed out manuscripts in various stages of editing. The topmost shelf is cluttered with figurines and statues of comic book characters and historical figures. Empty cans of Dr. Pepper and half drunk glasses of water roost in between bits of sewing projects that I work on when I get stuck on a scene or idea. There is usually a snack and a feline within arms reach.
  • What do you struggle with the most as a writer?
    • Finishing a project without getting sidetracked. I have about…80 projects spanning a multitude of notebooks and digital documents. During my work I often get ideas for other things and fear loosing it so I will jot down my thoughts…which sometimes leads to me wanting to work on another thing…so on and so forth. The hardest part for me is really focusing on something with enough tenacity to finish.
  • Any recommendations for good music to write to?
    • Okay, I cannot write to music. I know that SO many talented and amazing authors swear by it. But when music is on I wanna get up, clean, move around, dance, sing and play my air guitar. I tend to have a television show on when I write, something I’ve already seen that isn’t loud or distracting. Cooking shows, Star Trek: TNG, The X-Files, and similar to name a few.
  • What is the most age-worn, tattered and battered book on your shelf?
    • A thrift store copy of The Other Boelyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. I dunno what happened to this poor book before I got a hold of it but there are stained pages, the cover is half gone, dog eared pages, and more.
  • What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
    • The Fog by Stephen King. The story was a great look at what happens to a group of normal people in a very abnormal circumstance. How mob mentality responds to stress and the challenges of survival when your day job is an artist.

      I choose this one not because both the film and the story are amazing in their own rights but because it’s one of the few times where the author flat out admitted that the changes in the film improved upon the story. The movie gave us one of the best endings of all time and if you haven’t seen it…go watch it.

      A very close second would be Interview with the Vampire…but I say that in part because I find Rice’s stories hard to plod through.

  • Do you have a notes system for on-the-go ideas? If so, share with us the most random note you’ve jotted down, even if it only makes sense to you.
    • I do! My most random note that I can remember is: Real Trolls dislike comment sections.

 

So on to my ten questions:

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?
  2. What literary cliche do you secretly love?
  3. What deceased author would you love to speak with?
  4. What book/series does everyone love but you loathe?
  5. Was there a particular book that inspired you to write? If so, what was it?
  6. During what time of day is easiest for you to get creative and why?
  7. Have you ever written something that made you feel uncomfortable?
  8. Do you like to research for your work?
  9. What do you want out of your creative life?
  10. What do you think marks a great book?

 

So, now that this is done it comes to tagging…and I’m going to take the cheap way out and say absolutely anyone who reads this can consider themselves tagged because I am interested in seeing all of the answers. Cheating? Maybe a little…but I’m a tad greedy.

 

My Spoiler Free, Overly Nostalgic, Review of Star Wars

 

I know, I know…I’m a book blog. What the heck am I doing reviewing a movie that basically everyone is going to see? Am I jumping on a the nerdy bandwagon? Am I making a grab for followers or interest? Or am I just writing a piece about something that made me have some feels?

I’ll give you a hint…it’s the last one.

So here’s the thing. I have a very mixed relationship with Star Wars. There are things about it that I love: lightsabres, robots, and intergalactic space politics. But there are also things that I loathe: a heavy focus on what is “light” and what is “dark”, poorly done cultures (wookies can’t pronounce their own names), and a serious lack of speaking female roles.

But, all that being said, Star Wars has a very special place in my heart.

I was seven when I got the chicken pox. It would be a day or two before the spots showed up but I still felt like my head had been hit by a hammer and the only thing I could nibble was cheese. I was spending Sunday, as usual, with my grandparents. My Grandmother assumed I was sick and tucked me unto the couch with a pile of blankets and put on one of the five VHS tapes that she owned, it wasn’t holding my attention.

By the time the quirky nun was getting the VonTrap children to sing about does and rays I was hurling up my cheddar lunch. It was not a good day. My Grandpa took pity on me and lifted me from the couch into his lap and put a rag on my forehead and a cup of water in my hands. He smelled of cigars and cedar, which was a great improvement from the scent of cheddar vomit.

“Here,” he said switching the video tapes. “Let’s watch this instead.”

He put in A New Hope and I was caught up from the first scrolling words….which he had to stop a time or two so I could catch up. I was enamored with Han Solo and desperate to have a robot friend before the first hour was done. I was lost in a world of wonder.

We watched the first two movies that day, and the final one the following Sunday while I smelled of calamine lotion and oatmeal. By the end I was cheering and dancing and happy as a clam that teddy bears had saved the universe.

Hey, I was seven, don’t judge me.

I can’t say that I was a fan then. I was a kid and would go on to explore a billion things before I was swept up in the Jedi/Sith craze. I saw the prequals when they came out. I played about a dozen video games with the star wars theme. I own two versions of the pen and paper role playing game. There is an entire shelf on my entertainment center for all the Star Wars moving pictures that I own (including both The Clone Wars, and Clone Wars). My closet has not one, not two, but THREE different outfits for the setting that I’ve put together for conventions.

To be honest, in doing all that, I never felt that same wonder that I had as a child, tucked in my grandfathers lap, watching the story unfold.

But there I was, standing in the rain and cold, wearing my x-wing pilot inspired dress, sharing with all the other early view fanatics that couldn’t wait until Friday to see the film. I was, once again, not feeling great but I wasn’t going to have anything spoiled for me by going a few days later. I crowded into the cinema with a popcorn and a massive stack of lemonade and waited to feel whisked away once more.

And to be honest there were moments when I felt it.

Sure you’ve got to sit through about thirty minutes of previews that you could watch on you tube, and there was a woman sitting in front of me that kept checking her phone. But despite that I did experience that ‘lost in the story’ sensation intermittently throughout the film.

And yeah, it’s only intermittently.

What the film does well:

-The beginning
-It incorporates the original characters with ease. They feel like their own people continuing on their own stories.
-The new characters don’t feel like a rehash of the old characters, though there are some similarities.
-BB8…oh my god.
-Combat/Action sequences
-Introducing worlds
-Tugging at your heartstrings
-The cinematic score

What the film does not do well:
-Pacing
-Character growth/change happens in several sudden moments that felt…weird.
-The ending

The stories foundation was pretty great. I loved the idea of it. Once i read through the opening scroll I was like ‘fuck yeah, that is a great story idea’.  But the film seemed to be focusing too hard on drawing some parallels with the original trilogy that it sort of forgot to be its own thing.

Also the ‘big reveals’ that happened during the course of the film weren’t handled very well. I wasn’t hit in the gut with them, but rather poked in the chest. I feel that this was predominately a pacing problem. The story unfolds awkwardly, with the history given in tossed around banter rather than flashbacks or poignantly expressed  dialogue.

I think this heavy handed style was do, in no small part, to JJ Abrams style of direction. I have seen it in other films and I’m hoping that Rian Johnson (director of Looper and The Brothers Bloom) can even out the pacing issues and help bring star wars to it’s new era.

Overall I give the film a 7/10. It was worth seeing. I did not feel that my time was wasted, but rather felt my inner editor going ‘okay, that’s cool, but what if you moved that here’.

A Death in the Family

Tomorrow is my grandmother’s funeral. I wont be there. It’s not that I don’t want to be, even though I kind of don’t; and it’s not because I can’t, though that is most certainly true. I have, however, been asked to help write the eulogy because I am “the one who can write” in my family. In doing this I discovered a few surprising things.

I loved my Grandma Donna, but sometimes it was very hard to like her. She grew up in a very different time, but that is no excuse for some of the things she did. She was the kind of woman who made you finish everything on your plate, even if you didn’t put it together yourself, because you ought to be thankful for what you had. While I understand the concept the practice never made me any more thankful for my food; but it made me a lot more thankful  for the family dog.

She did not often say “I love you” or tell me when I did a good job. She was quick to point out when I had made mistakes. She was ruthlessly disgusted by anyone she thought was ‘fat’ and she didn’t care for whining of any variety. Homosexuality was a sin and girls ought to put time into their appearance; but not too much.

She once told my seven year old sister who was still recovering from several stomach surgeries that she was getting fat.

Do not mistake me, not everything about my Grandmother was harsh. She taught me how to make a dollar stretch, how to sew my own clothes, how to alter hemlines. She wanted me to be a self sufficient woman. My first cooking lesson was at her elbow and from her I learned the magic that turned a seed into a plant to dinner.

It was because of my grandmother that I know all the words to The Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music. She introduced me to thrift stores, and romance novels. She had a large impact on the person that I am today.

But I learned, in writing this little snippet, that if she hadn’t been my grandmother I probably wouldn’t have loved her much.

 

Dashing Through the Snow Fun

So, the lovely Stephanie the bibliophile to have a little yule-tied fun and participate in this little tag. Since I practice Yule I’m going to be using the non-denominational term of ‘holidays’ as often as possible.

The Rules:

  1. Thank The Curator- Stephanie you rock.
  2. Tag 5 People To Spread The Christmas Joy! (do I know five people?)
  3. Have Fun!

Name a book you would like to see under your Christmas tree.

So fun story, I just put together my Yule list and like…it’s almost entirely books. Like…seriously. It’s forty books and a kitchen-aid. That’s what I want; books and food. But that’s not really what the question is asking.

I don’t know that there is a specific book I want more than anything else. I think that I’m looking for a new series to get lost in. I’m wishing that someone could put a book in my hands that completely grips me, I feel like it’s been a long time since I loved, laughed, and cried with characters and I’d like that feeling again.

Barring all that I’ll take a copy of Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

A book you’ll be reading during the Christmas Season.

I’ll be reading All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks because why not enjoy a little paranormal romance with my egg nog? Aside from that I will be working on the Valor series by Tanya Huff, because sci-fi.

Favourite Christmas Movie.

For me The Muppets are the Holidays. I don’t know why or what it is, but Kermit THE Frog playing Bob Cratchit and Caligula/Alfred Pennyworth as Scrooge just makes my season. I will be watching a Muppet Christmas Carol on repeat til someone hates me.

Do you like snow?

Gosh yes. I love the cold, I love the snow, I love the way it feels to go from frolicking outside to curling up on the couch with a warm drink, a kitty cat, and a good book. Also, my family is kinda adorable in the snow.

Name a character you you would like to spend your Christmas day with.

Ack! Just one? Alright, well I am thoroughly in love with Nathaniel from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. I mean, what’s not to love about a long haired house husband were-leopard who just wants his lady to be happy? He can cook for me anytime.

To give or to receive?

Both. Honestly. I’m of the opinion that if you do only one or the other then something gets lost. But it I absolutely HAVE to pick one, I’d say give, because over the past few years I’ve bonded with two amazing friends and I seriously just want to shower them with happiness.

What fictional place would you like to spend Christmas at?

Tortall, specifically Corus, the capital. Because fantasy holidays with knights and magic and heroes sounds amazing.

Fondest Christmas memory?

My first Christmas on my own. I was working three jobs, my roommates were all gone for the holidays, my mom had just moved three states away and most of my family had gone to Georgia to get together. I had prepared to be alone.

It was somewhere around 11 in the morning when the guy I had been dating for about a month and a half showed up with a pile of gifts and all the makings for a Christmas dinner. We celebrated together before going to a comic book shop that stayed open on the holidays. It was wonderful.

Can you say Christmas tree ten times FAST  in a row (pronouncing it correctly!)

…apparently I can not.

Well that was adorable good fun! I’m going to tag:

I’m tagging:

  1. The Adorably Awesome Shannon
  2. Elegances Icy  Lovely and inspirational
  3. Hannah, the proofreader of talent!
  4. Aimee, The Intellectual Readhead over at this Book Blog
  5. Angelique, a glorious new face for me.