Friday, October 10, 2008

Since I talked about movies last post, I'll mention the book(s) I'm reading this week, when I can get my eyes to focus (see below, re: sinus/cold/whatever misery... I've been resting a LOT, shouldn't I be getting better?).

THE IRON HUNT
, by Marjorie M. Liu. I'm a fan of Marjorie's anyway, so this foray into Urban Fantasy thrilled me, not least because I thought it was different from the boilerplate tough-girl vamp/demon/whatever hunter. (Which, don't get me wrong, I love.) This world has a lot of layers to it, and the book is an engrossing, but not a simplistic read. The narrator doesn't come right out and explain things, and sometimes you're learning things as she does. However, loved her demons, loved the writing, loved the texture of this one.

THE PINK CARNATION, by Laura Willig. (Actually, I think the real title is "the Secret History of the pink carnation.") This is a premise, that I love: Modern Day Heroine comes across journals/letters/eye-witness/etc. that tell(s) a parallel story from the past. In this case, she wants to discover the identity of "The Pink Carnation"--a spy of the Scarlet Pimpernel stamp. It's Napoleonic War spy stuff, so I'm inclined to like it anyway, but I really am enjoying the story. My only quibble is that the historical characters' dialogue occasionally teeters right on the edge of too modern in cadence and informality. Oh, and the head hopping between POVs, but not everyone finds that as distracting as I do.

Finally...

CHALICE, by Robin McKinley. I make no secret of my McKinley love. I'm a fangirl. Chalice was wonderful, told with rich descriptions and emotions, and what I've come to view as a McKinley-esque blend of the practical with the magical. (In Sunshine it was the baking of the cinnamon rolls. Here it's beekeeping and honey.) Mirasol hold the position in of "Chalice" in her land, and she's responsible for holding everything together: people, animals, earth energy. She's landed in the role with no training, so she's researching and sort of making it up as she goes along during a critical time, when the demesnes has a new Master (an inherited position of magical authority) who seems ill suited to the job. She has to shore up his position magically, and it comes down to a challenge for the mastership and she saves the day in an unexpected way.

What I love about McKinley's heroines is that they are unexpectedly strong. She usually pushes them to the end of their endurance--and makes you feel that as a reader--before giving them victory. They're not tough in the butt-kicking chick way that many strong females are portrayed in contemporary novels, but have to dig deep to keep going, and find reserves that no one would expect them to have.

There's a bit of a Beauty and the Beast thread in the story, the transformative power of love. I think it's interesting how often that comes up in McKinley's writing. It's one of my favorite themes (and fairy tales) and maybe that's no coincidence.

What have you guys been reading lately?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Movie Rambles (Cold Medicine Version)

I'm starting to get confused what I put on Twitter, and what I post on the blog. But I may have mentioned my sinuses have taken my head hostage in our ongoing battle for skull supremacy. The catch-22 with cold and sinus stuff, at least for me, is that any drug that's actually effective on my symptoms usually knocks me on my butt. But since I've got a couple of days to relax, I figured I might as well take advantage of it and see if I can regain the upper hand.

(The sad thing is, Lizzie is all congested, too. :-( *I* won't go to the doctor, but I might have to take her to the v-e-t.)

Anyway. I have some thoughts on what I've been watching. Bear in mind these are filtered through a Robitussin filter.

The Forbidden Kingdom. This was a really fun movie. I enjoyed it SO much more than The Bank Job (Mr. RCM's pick). Jackie Chan and Jet Li. About 75% extended fight scenes, 10% story, 15% stuff that was just cool to look at. A definitely recommend.

Penelope. A charming movie. Like any fairy tale, follows a definite formula, but that's okay when they freshen it up here and there. Penelope deserves her happy ending, which is more than you can say about a lot of fairy tale heroines, and James McAvoy (whom I understand many people find to be quite the heart throb) was a charming non-prince. Recommended for those who appreciate sweet but quirky romantic movies.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. This was on one of the movie channels yesterday. I haven't watched it in ages. Bear in mind, I was warped by formed by my early exposure to 70's Sci-Fi reruns, thanks to my mother. So I grew up with Kirk, Spock and Bones as sort of honorary TV uncles. I was going to post that Khan was my favorite original series movie, but then I remembered how much I enjoy The Undiscovered Country. But allowing for melodramatic acting and dated special effects, Khan is a close second. The story manages to call back to history to please the fans, but it stands alone for the non-fans. It actually uses the age and experience of the original characters as plot and character points. (It was basically about being old enough for the past to bite you in the ass, whereas later they sometimes tried to ignore how old the characters had gotten.) I liked the point that Kirk had always cheated death, and for most of the movie, that trend continues. Which is why the ending is so AWESOME. (And still makes me sniffle. Shut up. Honorary TV uncles, people.)

I have very mixed feelings about bringing Spock back (spoiler!) in the third movie, but if they hadn't, he wouldn't have been around for The Undiscovered Country, but we might have been spared Spock's "brother" in that fifth movie that was so bad I have blocked the name from my mind. But in general, I think it's cheating to kill a character in an awesome self-sacrificing way, then bring them back. (I'm looking at you, Buffy. But I got on board with that when it was clear they hadn't just hit the resest button.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October Catch up

I missed my Monday update due to a severe attack of lazy yesterday. Though to be honest, I really feel like I've missed the first part of this month, since I had my head down working on The Rewrites. So here's the catch up post.

1) Law of diminishing returns. Speaking of my re-write-a-thon last week, there's a point at which you're better served sleeping than typing stuff that sounds great to your euphoric brain only to discover later that you weren't actually writing in English.

2) FenCon. I hit "send" on The Rewrites at 2:30 PM, then got in the shower (you're welcome) and was on my way to Dallas for the con by 3:30. I had a great time, but Friday afternoon/evening I was so tired (see above, re: Rewrites and Diminishing Returns), not to mention elated, that I was sort of punch-drunk. At one point, this involved a giggle-fit of such epic proportions that I just had to give up on coherency.

3) Relaxation. So I'm taking this week off, in theory. Of course, what I'm really doing is reading this ginormous stack of books that I've accumulated, ditto the beginning of the new television season. I also have this idea I might get back on track with my exercise regimen (heh). But mostly I'm sitting on the couch reading and watching TV. (It doesn't help that I have had this sinus thing going on for weeks, and now that I'm not powering through, it's sort of catching up with me. Yay for drugs, I guess.)

4) The New Book.... has a title! The Splendor Falls. It's from a Tennyson poem. Probably a very obscure reference, so I will provide an handy link to the poem. It's quite different from the Maggie books, but also sort of not. I mean, it's still an RCM book, so it's going to be smart and droll and there's going to be magic and mystery. There's even more romance, which was fun to do, and it's not quite as LOL funny, though I think there's still a lot of humor in it. You'll be hearing more about it in the future.

5) Scotland. And oh yeah! I'm leaving for Scotland in 18 days. I've been so involved in getting the book done, it totally snuck up on me!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What a week.

I have done nothing this week but write, edit, rewrite, delete, move, rewrite again...

And that includes sleep! I'm off to FenCon as soon as I throw some clothes in a suitcase. I don't even know what's clean. If I'm dressed in nice clothes, it's because I have nothing else to wear.

I'm clean, though. I did take a shower. Um, finally.

Ah, it's such a glamorous life.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

FenCon

I'll be headed to FenCon tomorrow, which is a terrifically fun SFF Convention in Dallas--Addison, actually. This will be my third year to go. They have some terrific guests this year. I'm especially looking forward to meeting Doris Egan. (If you're a House, M.D. fan, she's a producer for that show, as well as an author of a couple of books on my keeper shelf. The cover has come off Gate of Ivory.)

If you've never been to a con, this is a nice one for newbies or oldbies alike. There are some great guests, and because it's not so huge, you never know who you'll sit down next to in the bar. (But if it IS in the bar, it may well be me.) There's also a strong music track, which I always say I'm going to go and enjoy, but am always so busy I just end up buying the Music GOH's CD and wishing I'd seen them in person. (I like this years musical guest just from their name Three Weird Sisters.

Anyway. Here's the whole schedule, and here's what you really want to know. Where *I* will be. (Besides the bar):

Friday 8:00 PM Addison Lecture Hall
What Fuels Your Engine? (M)

Description: What do you put in the tank to keep you running at the keyboard/easel? What movies, music, books that might not be genre-related do you engage to keep the creative batteries charged?
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Friday 10:00 PM Trinity 3
Liars Panel

Description: Round out your evening with tall tales from convention veterans. once the door closes, don't believe anything you hear.

(I had so much fun on this one last year.)
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Saturday 10:00 AM Oak Ballroom
Sci-Fi Channel Cage Match Round 2

Description: This is the channel that killed Harry Dresden and gave us wrestling and bad B-Movies. On the other hand, they've given us Eureka, and they show Doctor Who. We met in the ring last year, yet no winner was declared. Who will survive round 2?
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Saturday 12:00 noon Addison Lecture Hall
Blended Genres

Description: Mixing "Gilligans Island" with "X-Files" might sound like a great idea...but does it always work? How can a writer successfully combine two or more established genres? When should they leave well enough alone?
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Saturday 1:00 PM Pecan Room
Reading

Description: I'm giving away books and stuff, and reading from Highway to Hell, or possibly even the new gothic novel. The important thing is, it'll be entertaining and possible profitable, because did I mention I was giving stuff away?

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Saturday 6:00 PM Oak Ballroom
What the Heck Do Pirates have to do with SF?

Description: Why? Every convention does this as a theme. How did this happen, and how long will it take to die? Or will we still be singing pirate songs and wearing parrots in 2058?

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Sunday 11:00 AM Addison Lecture Hall
How Faithful are Sidekicks? (M)

Description: What are the pros and cons of using sidekicks in stories? are they better left to the comic books or do they have a place in the traditional story? and what happens when they turn against you?

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Sunday 12:00 noon Trinity 3
Whedonverse

Description: All things Joss! Buffy, Firefly, Dr. Horrible, you name it, we got it!