Archive for July, 2007

Since my deadline is 9 hours away and I really don’t want to work on any more edits, this seems like a wonderful time to go blogging!

I heard a few days ago, but I’ve been waiting for the right moment to announce this news:

I got a job.  

Yes, I know, this goes against all sorts of starving artist credos and other such things but there’s this thing called debt, and the husband and I are rapidly sinking into it.  One of Matt’s friends from school tipped us off that a part-time receptionist job was opening up in the end of August at the organization where he works. Since he’s been doing it all summer he could say with authority that it’s really easy AND well-paid, which is right up my alley.

So I’ll be answering the phone, directing what few visitors drop by, making sure emails to the general account get forwarded to the appropriate places, and otherwise doing my own thing for fifteen hours a week starting in the end of August. Eric estimated that he spends about half of his time there doing homework.

Did I mention I’ll get paid?  We likes the income, even if it won’t be used for fun things.

That’s the newest development on this end, aside from the fact that I’m hovering tantalizingly close to 27k words in the manuscript and things are moving forward in the writing department.


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For anyone who’s wondered whether anyone is putting out amazingly cheesy and badly dubbed movies these days, I would like to bring The Tower of the Firstborn to your attention.  If you follow that link you will find a movie titled in Italian from 1998, but you will notice that it was released on DVD in the States under its English title just this past May.  I found it in the Redbox and rented it because it looked interesting – and I’m glad I didn’t have my heart set on a fantastic heretofore unheard-of historic epic, because Matt and I were laughing hysterically by about five minutes in.

Now, this was actually filmed as a TV miniseries by Italian producers, filmed in Tunesia, and it was first released (as far as I can tell) three years ago in Hungary – and yet everyone is obviously speaking English, even though the dubbing doesn’t always line up right.  And you’ll run into everything from amnesiacs to an airplane rigged as a “desert boat” to murderous brothers, greedy sheiks, mysterious aliens, incompatible lapses of time, and a man who looks entirely too much like the Catholic Church’s image of Jesus playing the heroic lead.  If it’s not obvious and cliche, it’s overacted.

I’m not sure I recommend it on its own merits, but if you have three or four hours to kill and you want some great laughs, it can’t be beat.

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I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows earlier this evening, and I have to say that although it isn’t the best book I’ve ever read (and I mean that in the nicest way possible), it was quite enjoyable. Like visiting old friends, if you will – and really, they are old friends, characters I’ve known and adventured with for five or six years. I haven’t even known my husband for that long, which seems strange to say. It’s always a comfort to see Hermione pulling completely ridiculous facts out of thin air, Ron bumbling his way through and coming out winningly in the end, and Harry wondering the whole time if he should be going on without them, to spare them the danger.

I still don’t get how the magic system works, because even within this book there are discrepancies and entirely new features, but oddly enough in the end it doesn’t bother me much. I feel like it ought to, since I’m trying to put together a coherent, consistent magical world of my own and should be offended that something this well-known doesn’t seem to have been entirely thought through in terms of magic use, but there you have it. It doesn’t matter.

That’s not to say, when I get around to putting all my thoughts down for my personal reference that all my comments will be glowing and positive – just that I am satisfied by the ending of a good story.

Oh, and as I was waiting in the store for my copy of HP I found a copy of Melissa Marr’s debut, Wicked Lovely, and picked it up. Finished it this evening after HP and was very impressed. But then, I’ve always liked stories about faeries, too.

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I’m far from the first to comment on this story, in which a frustrated British author recently sent chapters of various Jane Austen books to eighteen different publishers to see if she’d have more success than he, but I have a few comments to add.

First of all, sending a published author’s work in to see “whether the classics would do better than your book in today’s market” isn’t exactly a productive route to actually having your work published.  It might be mildly informative if you’re imitating that style, but I don’t recommend that anyway.  Better to spend your time and money writing and sending out your own work.

And then there’s this quote at the end, from the man who sent the frauds (and thus will likely never be published at all now, but that’s another discussion):

Getting a novel accepted is very difficult today unless you have an agent first. But I had no idea of the scale of rejection poor old Jane suffered.

If eighteen rejections represents a devastating “scale of rejection” then it’s no wonder this guy’s frustrated enough to plagiarize.  By my understanding, eighteen’s just warming up, whether submitting to agents or publishers.

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John Scalzi, who almost always has something interesting to say over on The Whatever, has posted some interesting thoughts on simplicity in writing today. People have left plenty of comments, and I feel the urge to add my thoughts on this particular section:

The point of all this is that I think simplicity, for want of a better term, is very often underrated relative to craftiness, which is to say when writers (be they songwriters or authors or playwrights or whomever) say things in a purposefully complex way to show off their skills to a relatively small group of people who will get the joke. That’s all fine and good if all you intend to do is to entertain that small group of people solely. If you’re planning to get your words out to a larger group, filled with people who don’t know your jokes, however, it presents, well, a problem.

Now, I have a friend who is a literature buff, and I mean that in the sense that she’s studied all the literary theories and criticisms and although we are good friends, half the time I just smile and nod when she talks about Literature. It’s intimidating, to a certain extent, and sometimes makes me wonder if I’m cut out for this whole “author” thing until I remember that I’m not aspiring to be that kind of writer. I don’t mind knowing the “jokes”, because I’m not catering to the people who know the punch lines.

My friend, whose name is Kristina, and I often wander through bookstores together, and I always find it interesting to take note of what each of us finds interesting in a book we might potentially read. At one point we were in the spec fic section, which is like a giant candy store for me. I was pointing at books saying “That one was good, ooh and I know that author, and this one’s supposed to be one of the best books out this year.” Kristina found one with a clever title (and no, I honestly don’t remember what it was, but I would have picked it up, and I might go back to that store and that shelf so I can find it again to read it at some point) and pulled it out. Me, I would have flipped to the back cover copy to see if the story looked interesting, but she opened to the first chapter and read the first paragraph. Then she commented on how it was very clever of the author to have used a variation of iambic pentameter for the phrasing, because it complemented the offbeat tone of the content.

I blinked. And, though I hadn’t heard of the author, I didn’t have the heart to tell her I very much doubted the writer had consciously thought, “Hey, I’ll play off of the reader’s expectations of iambic pentameter as I play off their expectations of what this sentence will say.”

This is not to say that fantasy or science fiction writers or even genre fiction writers in general don’t put thought into their craft. It is simply that in my experience, most of us are more concerned with entertaining a large group – to the point that we don’t even consider that smaller (more literary? I cringe to use the term…) groups might read their own “jokes”, as Scalzi puts it, into the material when it really wasn’t intended. The sentence was funny. Catchy. Very witty. Thoughts of what poetic meter it was or wasn’t didn’t even flit at the edges of my mind. Craftiness only registers with those who go around looking for it.

Which is all to say I still intend to pay pretty much no attention to things like literary theory, and if someone chooses to comment on my brilliant use of iambs when my work is finished, they’re welcome to do so. I just hope everyone else thinks it’s a good story.

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Dream On

I woke up this morning with a knot the size of Kansas in my neck, which has the unfortunate side-effect of giving me a splitting headache that occasionally makes it feel like my right eye is about to pop out and brings up black spots across my vision when I stand up or move my head too fast. Needless to say, my plans to go for a bike ride this morning flew straight out the window.

Instead, I went back to sleep, having slept badly all night. And had one of the strangest dreams ever. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but when I do they’re really strange. This one involved a private basement that was as big as a mall – including a practice room for dance without mirrors on the walls, three gift shops, and an “animal room” that was basically a small zoo with a boat tour for all these people in evening gowns and tuxes. Of course, there was a regular pool, too. Also, there was a boy who was supposed to be my cousin and a huge group of girls who wanted me to go with them to win a song-and-dance contest as a fund raiser for their group.  I actually knew the song, and you would too if I could remember what it was. All very odd.

I’m all set to finish up my pages for next week’s submission today, and hopefully start editing tomorrow.

Any other strange dreams out there this morning?

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When Books Entrap…

It’s hard to tell how much of the fact that I stayed up until 5:30 this morning reading is because I love all things Pride and Prejudice, because the particular book I was reading was so entirely captivating, or because with my glasses off I couldn’t see the clock and thereby had no way of knowing how very late it was. In fact, the sky was lightening noticeably when I closed the back cover on my latest find.

I spent all weekend in Pamela Aidan’s literary hands. She’s written a trilogy that complements Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Extreme purists will always balk at such a project, but Aidan handles the task quite nicely. Though some of her extrapolations about what might have happened to Darcy (particularly during the notorious “dark time” between the Netherfield Ball and the visit to Rosings Park) are somewhat far-fetched, the trilogy’s primary pursuit is the examination of the sequence of thoughts and events that could have motivated Darcy throughout the story to act in all the ways that he does. I have to say that Aidan’s understanding of his character, of the man we all know Darcy to be, is admirable. Under her careful examination, all his actions seem natural and perfectly right, and I found myself very pleased by the end result.

I have always loved Darcy, and now I love him even better.

Having slept until noon to recover, it’s time to rejoin the real world. I hope you all had equally enjoyable weekends.

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